The record for the Giraglia Race, the offshore race of the Giraglia Rolex Cup, has been broken.
Shortly before noon today New Zealander Neville Crichton brought his 90 foot IMS Maxi yacht Alfa Romeo across the finish line in front of the main breakwater of the Italian port of Genoa, to take line honours and the record for the Mediterranean's longest running offshore race.
Often called the 'Fastnet of the Mediterranean', the Giraglia Race is in its 51st year. Yesterday afternoon 170 boats lined up for the start in St Tropez for what is the most popular offshore race in Southern Europe. The race takes the fleet from the Gulf of St Tropez, South West along the French coast to the island of Levant, before turning East towards an 800 metre long rock called la Giraglia just to the North of Corsica. The course then turns North to the finish line in front of the Italian port of Genoa.
Speaking of his defining moment, Alfa Romeo's owner Neville CHRICHTON said. "The highlight of the race for me was rounding the Giraglia Rock in the dark. We had 25 knots of wind and we were travelling at 23 knots. It is quite a significant corner of the course and we changed from a jib top to a spinnaker at that point. There was quite a lot on right then."
The race record, which had been held since 1998 by Riviera de Rimini, now stands at 22 hours 13 minutes and 48 seconds, Alfa Romeo having shaved 2 hours 7 minutes and 59 seconds, about 8% off the time taken to sail the Mediterranean's longest running offshore race.
Conditions were boisterous on the leg from France to Corsica where the fleet experienced winds of up to 27 knots from the South West at times. For Alfa Romeo the wind lasted for a little over an hour past the rock before it dropped away to nothing for an hour, filling in weakly from the South East slowly for the remainder of the leg to the finish.
On finishing and breaking the course record, Chrichton gave an insight into his future plans. "We will now be concentrating preparing for the Rolex Fastnet Race in August and then the Rolex Maxi Cup in Porto Cervo in Septemeber. We will not be back here for two years, but we will be back for the Giraglia, only next time with a new boat."
Full positions and results are available on the event website at the address below.