Riccardo Bonadeo scored a third consecutive second place aboard his Maxi Rrose Selavy to win Class 0 of the inshore series of the Giraglia Rolex Cup in Saint-Tropez.
Bonadeo would have been unhappy to have lost out to the C&C 61 Grampus, the 1975-vintage yacht which won two races in a row and put the larger Maxis to shame on corrected time. Bonadeo and Grampus's owner Carlo Puri Negri traded mock insults while they waited for the results on corrected time to come through. "I hope we have not upset them too much," said Puri Negri modestly afterwards. "The conditions were good for us, flat water, not too many waves. We would not have been so good against the newer boats if there had been big waves as we are a lot heavier than them."
Whatever the complexities of the racing under corrected time, as a straight fight on the water it doesn't get much better than the racing witnessed off Saint-Tropez today. Ernesto Gismondi's Frers 65 Edimetra won the start along with Carlo Perrone's Virtuelle, with Olympic gold medallist Thierry Peponnet bagging a perfect port-end start.
Gradually, the bigger Maxis hauled their way past the front runners in a building 15-knot breeze. Pierluigi Loro Piana's 85-foot Reichel-Pugh Maxi, My Song, rounded just seconds ahead of Idea and Sagamore. Sagamore tacked so close underneath Idea that their rigs almost clashed, but both crews held their nerve.
It would have been yet more disaster for Idea's owner Raffaele Raiola, who suffered a nasty grounding on the rocks during Tuesday's race. Fortunately he finished that race in good shape and was on good form again today, although it may take some time to get his brand new 82-foot Reichel-Pugh design fully on the pace.
Entreprendre, the former 1985/86 Whitbread Race winner, did not fare so well in the windier conditions today, but still did enough to secure third place overall in Class 0 ahead of the glamour Maxis. Classes 1 and 2 were dominated by the one-designs. In Class 1, two IMX 40s Fare Well and Imagine finished first and second respectively ahead of Alitalia Cippa Lippa, a Cookson 12M yacht. With all class results combined, Roger Pierrejean's Fare Well had the added bonus of being first out of all 72 participants in the inshore series of the Giraglia Rolex Cup.
Pierrejean's son Eric, who does the bow on Fare Well, said it was a source of pride that amidst all the professional crews in Saint-Tropez they were largely an amateur team. "The only professional is our helmsman, Joel Xiberras, who has won the Tour de France a Voile before," he said. Pierrejean put their success down to good preparation and knowledge of the local waters. He was praying for more good winds for the long race, as this would play to the strengths of the IMX 40. "If it is like today's conditions, then that would be good, but let's wait and see. It's never over until it's over."
In Class 2, the First 40.7s wiped the board. In what was virtually a match race between the two leading contenders, Roberto Bruno's Scacco Matto won today's race with Beppe Zaoli's Paul & Shark notching up a second. With the first two boats scoring 4 and 5 points overall, the third place boat - another First 40.7 called Low Noise - finished some way off with 28 points in total. But now the real race begins - the 243-mile Giraglia Race from Saint-Tropez to Genoa via the Giraglia rock off the coast of Corsica.
The crew of the new Open 60, Cometa, will be relieved to hear that the forecast is light for the race which begins at 12pm tomorrow. Owned by Pfizer Italia, the all-carbon design by Maurizio Cossutti is arguably one of the most extreme Open 60s ever built. With a 4.5m swing keel, a 28-metre wing mast and an all-up weight of just 8 tons, this boat should fly. But the boat has not been tested in heavy conditions and the crew which includes former 470 European Champions, Giovanni and Daniele Cassinari, are still working through a lot of teething problems.
Another who is racing his yacht for the first time is Grant Dalton. He is set to put his new Nautor Challenge Volvo 60 through her paces as he builds up for an assault on the Volvo Ocean Race this autumn.
The 2001 edition of the Giraglia Race looks set to be the biggest ever, with over 120 yachts expected to fill the one-kilometre-long start line tomorrow. Light winds are forecast for the start with breeze set to build to a Force 4-5 later in the afternoon.
Overall Results of Inshore Races
1. Rrose Selavy, Riccardo Bonadeo, Frers 73, 6
2. Grampus, Carlo Puri Negri, C&C 61, 11
3. Entreprendre, Mediterranean Fishing Co, Tortarolo 60-footer, 11
1. Fare Well, Roger Pierrejean, IMX40, 7
2. Imagine, Gilles Argellies, IMX40, 11
3. Alitalia Cippa Lippa, Duilio Coletti, Cookson 12M, 19
1. Scacco Matto, Roberto Bruno, First 40.7, 4
2. Paul & Shark, Beppe Zaoli, First 40.7, 5
3. Low Noise, Giuseppe Giuffre, First 40.7, 28