With just a day until the start of the Giraglia Rolex Cup 2004, the number of registered entries has exceeded all previous records.
This prestigious race, considered one of the most important in the Mediterranean offshore racing calendar, already has 190 yachts entered. For this, the 52nd edition of the regatta, the number of participants has already beaten previous records and looks set to grow still larger before Sunday morning, when the first race of the regatta is scheduled to take place.
The organisers - The Giraglia Rolex Cup is organised by the Yacht Club Italiano, which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, in conjunction with the Yacht Club de France, the Societe Nautique de St-Tropez and with the support of Rolex.
The programme - From Sunday 13 June to Tuesday 15 June, there will be three days of classic inshore racing held in the waters off St-Tropez. On Wednesday 16 June, the fleet will start the 243-mile Giraglia Race in front of the town of St-Tropez, from where they will proceed to the Giraglia rock off the coast of Corsica, before making their way to the finish in the ancient port of Genoa, the home of the Yacht Club Italiano.
The participants - The moorings in the port of St-Tropez have been prepared and rearranged to accommodate the enormous fleet of participating yachts, 25 of which are in the Maxi Yacht division, the impressive giants of the sea, each more than 18 metres long.
Among the favourites is Alfa Romeo, the Maxi yacht owned by amateur helmsman Neville CRICHTON, who holds the Giraglia Race record set last year in a time of 22 hours, 13 minutes and 48 seconds. Rivalling Alfa Romeo in size and ambition is the very fast carbon Maxi, Idea SAI, owned and skippered by Raffaele RAIOLA from Naples, with helmsman Lorenzo BRESSANI from Trieste and Tommaso CHIEFFI as tactician (who will be replaced by Flavio FAVINI for the first day of racing on Sunday) and Stefano RIZZI on trimming.
A recent addition to the list is Black Dragon, the 23m Reichel/Pugh designed Maxi skippered by the German sailor Otto HAPPEL, Kauris III owned by Marco TRONCHETTI PROVERA, and Damiani Ourdream owned by Dede DE LUCA (this yacht is the former Alexia owned by Alberto Roemmers, the winner on corrected time of last year's Rolex Giraglia Cup).
Other notable competitors in the Maxi division include Edimetra, owned by Ernesto GISMONDI, the founder of Artemide, Magic Carpet Squared owned by the President of L'Oreal Lindsay OWEN JONES, Wallyno owned by Luca BASSANI, Enigma of London, the magnificent 23-metre yacht owned by Charles DUNSTONE, and Atalanta, the Maxi owned by Carlo PURI NEGRI, competing in her first regatta in the Mediterranean.
Others to consider are Ulisse, owned by Patrizio BERTELLI, Katros owned by Fulvia Ferragamo, Mister A owned by Aldo PAGANI, Arien Van Vemde's Sotto Voce and many others who come to compete in the assorted fleet of IMS, Wally Yachts, Swans and Beneteaus. However, contrary to previous announcements, the two Maxi Z86s Pyewacket and Morning Glory will not be present.
Nations participating - 15 countries are represented at the Giraglia Rolex Cup: Italy, Sweden, Finland, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Jamaica, USA, Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
History of the Giraglia Rolex Cup - The idea of the Giraglia Race was first considered in 1952, in a conversation between Beppe CROCE, then President of the Yacht Club Italiano, and Rene LEVAINVILLE, then President of the Yacht Club de France. The first race attracted 22 yachts to the start line and was held in July 1953, on a course that ran from Cannes to Giraglia to San Remo. The regatta was originally designed so that one year the boats set out from Cannes to finish in San Remo, and the next year the course would be reversed, with the start in Italy and the finish in France. Over the years, although the venues for the start and finish changed, with various French ports used, the length of the course always remained identical, always 243 miles from start to finish.
The Giraglia Rolex Cup today - For seven years the Giraglia Race has benefited from official sponsorship by Rolex, and the regatta has made such an impact that it is now established as one of the most lively and eagerly followed regattas in the Mediterranean. It is a fascinating and extraordinary event which takes place in a beautiful setting and which manages to attract hundreds of the finest and most important yachts from the pinnacle of international yacht racing.
The prizes - At the end of three days of inshore racing off St-Tropez, prizes are awarded to the first three yachts in each class, based on results calculated on corrected time. The Rolex Trophy and the Rene Levainville Trophy are awarded to the yacht that wins line honours on the long race from St-Tropez to Genoa. The Beppe Croce Trophy is awarded to the first yacht to round the Giraglia Rock during that race. Prizes are also awarded to the first three yachts in the IMS division, based on corrected time across the whole regatta, counting both the inshore racing and the long offshore race.
The records - A snapshot of record breaking in the long course of the Giraglia Rolex Cup:
2003 - Alfa Romeo, in a time of 22h 13' 48"
1998 - Riviera di Rimini, in a time of 24h 21' 47"
1984 - Bembow (owned by Enrico Recchi), in a time of 27h 24' 30"
The social programme - On Sunday evening 13 June, the town of St-Tropez offers its traditional welcome to the owners and their crews. This is followed by a beautiful reception where the guests can enjoy white wine and culinary specialities from Provence while they sit at wooden tables, an opportunity to bring together the sailing world in a convivial atmosphere. On Tuesday 15 June, the spectacular Citadel welcomes hundreds of people for the prizegiving for the inshore racing, and afterwards for the Rolex reception. Fireworks and live music are provided for guests to enjoy and to dance until the end of the night. On Saturday 19 June, the Yacht Club Italiano welcomes, under an enormous tent, hundreds of guests including race teams, owners, designers and sailors for the final prizegiving of the Giraglia Rolex Cup.
The Trophy d'Altura del Mediterraneo - the long race in the Giraglia Rolex Cup is the third and final stage to determine the outcome of the Trophy d'Altura del Mediterraneo. The other races in the series are the offshore race in the Regate Pirelli - Coppa Carlo Negri (which takes place at Saint Margherita Ligure) and the Regatta of Tre Golfi Telecom (which is held between the island of Capri and Naples.
Partners - In addition to the principal sponsor Rolex, two other companies support the Yacht Club Italiano:
BMW, who provide courtesy cars for the regatta
San Pellegrino, who provide a pasty party, meals and unlimited water to all the race teams - and other thirsty people!