With the wind blowing offshore from the Italian coast, the leading Maxis had all elected to go right towards Portofino, and race the last few miles to the finish by staying close to the shore. The battle for line honours was edge-of-the-seat stuff despite the lack of breeze. The 95-foot Magic Carpet was leading with just 300 metres to the finish line when the smaller and lighter Black Dragon picked up a gust and rolled Magic Carpet in the very last few metres of this 243-mile race from St Tropez.
The Reichel/Pugh 77 crossed the line barely a minute ahead of her larger rival, although her time of 36 hrs 12 min 8 sec was far outside the monohull course record set by 90-foot Maxi Alfa Romeo two years ago. The difference was that Neville CRICHTON's crew had strong winds to power them to their 22:13:48 record in 2003. The strongest wind that Black Dragon ever saw was 12 knots early in the race, hardly the stuff for breaking records.
Not that record breaking was on the mind of Black Dragon's navigator Simon SHAW. This was his first job in the navigator's role and what a way to launch his career. 'It seemed we were tied to Magic Carpet all the way round the course. There was never much between us at any point. We swapped the lead many times but luckily we nicked it at the end when it matters most!'
At the Giraglia Rock it appeared as though line honours could go to My Song, which rounded the rock 45 minutes ahead of Black Dragon. Pierluigi Loro PIANA's Reichel/Pugh 85 had flown down the run from the French coast to Giraglia. Shaw couldn't believe it. 'They went from six or seven miles behind to being six or seven miles in front. It was incredible. They just found more breeze being a mile further to windward than us.'
But at the Rock, My Song went right up the windward leg to Genoa, while Black Dragon dived off left, Shaw following the advice of his weather router to the letter. 'Pretty much everything happened that our weather guy said would happen, and that was a big advantage for us.'
Lorenzo BRESSANI, helmsman of North Sails Sportswear, said his team had wanted to go left because it has worked so often in the past at the end of this difficult race. 'There is never wind near Portofino in this type of situation,' said Bressani, who has won this race twice before in the late 90s. 'When all the bigger boats went the other way to Portofino we were very happy to do the opposite.' He also paid tribute to the team spirit fostered by owner Roberto FERRERO. 'There were 10 of us in the crew and all 10 of us helmed the boat at some point in the race.'
North Sails Sportswear won the race by 10 minutes on corrected time from Ernesto GISMONDI's newly refitted edimetra, with Gilles ARGELIES' IMX-45 Imagine 2000 half an hour further back in third place on corrected time. The prizegiving will take place on Saturday evening at the Yacht Club Italiano in Genoa, when the winners will be presented with their trophies and Rolex timepieces.
Now in its 53rd year, the Giraglia Rolex Cup is established as one of the classic regattas of the Mediterranean. The regatta, sponsored by Rolex for the past eight years, comprises three days' inshore racing in the Bay of St Tropez, and culminates in the 243-mile offshore race via the Giraglia Rock to the Italian port of Genoa.
Overall Results of 243-mile Giraglia Race (corrected time)
1. North Sails Sportswear - Lorenzo Bressani/ Roberto Ferrero (ITA) - Grand Soleil 42R0 - 31 hrs, 27 min, 48 sec (corrected time)
2. Edimetra VI - Ernesto Gismondi (ITA) - Wally 65 - 31:37:51
3. Imagine 2000 - Gilles Argelies (FRA) - IMX 45 - 32:05:12
Line Honours winner of Giraglia Race
Black Dragon - Performance Yachting (GBR) - Reichel/Pugh 77 - 36 hrs, 12 min, 08 sec
International Media Contact:
Key Partners (KPMS)
Ph: +41 32 724 2829
For more information and hi-res editorial free pictures please go to: www.regattanews.com