At 12:20 CEST today a fleet of 170 boats from 18 countries departed Saint-Tropez to contest the 2012 Giraglia Rolex Cup.
This historic 60th edition of the Mediterranean classic runs some 242-nautical miles to Sanremo, Italy via the Giraglia rock. Conditions point towards a big boat race with strong gusts forecast for the first 12 hours of racing. Winds of 30 knots heralded the race start and 40-45 knots of breeze are expected for the passage around the Giraglia rock of the leading boats.
The crews were bracing themselves for a wet and uncomfortable start to the race as they prepared for departure this morning. "It will be very demanding with a lot of wind throughout today,"
explained Francesco de Angelis, tactician onboard the 62-foot Natali - B2 (ITA). "For tomorrow we are forecasting a certain drop in conditions and some changes of direction bringing lighter winds. It will be a difficult race for everyone although, as always, you can never predict what is going to happen…"
Franck Noel's TP52 Near Miss (SUI) impressed during the three days of inshore racing in Saint-Tropez and the crew is primed for a tough offshore race. "With the conditions forecast it will be vital not to break anything and navigate intelligently as these will be very fast conditions for us. Our target is to achieve a good result but to do this we must focus on finishing the race,"
added Benoit Briand, part of the afterguard.
At the lower end of the fleet, the might of the elements will be especially punishing. Camillo Capozzi is a historic winner of the Giraglia Rolex Cup having claimed the overall handicap prize in 2006 with his well-travelled Polaris 33 Ala Bianca (ITA). Capozzi revealed, "This will be her 21st Giraglia. We'll suffer a lot especially on the first stretch to La Fourmigue and become more competitive as we approach our home waters in Liguria. The Giraglia is a magic island, although it can give us grief whether there is too much wind or too little!"
The favourite for line honours - Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) - led the fleet at 15:45 CEST, ahead of nearest rivals Jethou (GBR), Sir Peter Ogden's 62-foot Mini Maxi. Their destination is the Giraglia rock, located one-nautical mile north of Corsica. The target is to beat the race record which stands at 18 hours, 3 minutes and 15 seconds set in 2008.
The Giraglia Rolex Cup is organized by the Yacht Club Italiano, in conjunction with the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez and the Yacht Club de France, prestigious organisations with well-established ties to Rolex.
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Further information on the Giraglia Rolex Cup can be found at www.giragliarolexcup.com