St. Tropez. On the eve of the 50th edition of the Giraglia Rolex Cup - the first coastal race is due to start at 11am tomorrow - the small port of St. Tropez is alive with boats arriving from around the world.
A remarkable 190 entries are expected - a new record for this classic Mediterranean event organised by the Yacht Club Italiano in conjunction with the Yacht Club de France and the Societè Nautique de St. Tropez.
The port, decked out with decorations and Rolex flags, can accommodate just 150 boats, so the others will have to anchor in the bay. Some of the biggest names in sailing are converging on the French town to take part in the three coastal events that will take place on Monday 17, Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 June.
Those who have already arrived include Thierry Peponnet, one of the top French sailing talents, who will be at the helm of Virtuelle belonging to the publisher Carlo Perrone, Lorenzo Bressani, the recent winner of the Yachtsman of the Year award, who will be aboard My Song belonging to Pigi Loro Piana, the Star Olympic champion Paolo Semeraro aboard Idea owned by Raffaele Raiola, Enrico Passoni and Mauro Pelaschier aboard Edimetra owned by Ernesto Gismondi, and Nicola Celon, the Italian match racing champion aboard Calzedonia.
On Thursday 20 June, with the coastal races over, the traditional 243-mile long race will set off from St. Tropez - scoglio della Giraglia - Genoa.
There is great anticipation to see the light and fast Open '60s conceived for ocean racing, in competition with the Maxis, those technological jewels of the sea which are also impressive but with slower hulls.
The long race will also be the first classic Mediterranean regatta that can be followed live on the Net: high-tech equipment has been mounted on 20 of the fastest boats to indicate their positions in real time at the head of the fleet and this data will be transmitted to the Yacht Club Italian site (www.yci.it/giraglia).
The prize ceremony for the Giraglia Rolex Cup will take place on Sunday 23 June in Genoa at the headquarters of the Yacht Club Italiano during a gala evening to which more than 1,000 guests have been invited.
The mineral water giant S. Pellegrino, co-sponsor of the event and long-time partner of the Yacht Club Italiano, will host a VIP area in St. Tropez and at the finish line in Genoa, where coffee, croissants and pasta dishes will be served.