A fickle wind on the second day of the Giraglia Rolex Cup snatched victory away from the glamorous Maxi yachts and handed it to a diminutive Grand Soleil 42R, Near Miss, owned by Swiss sailor Franck NOEL.
It was another Grand Soleil design, Italo BORRINI's 40R Despeinada that won the small boat division, although 'grand soleil' appeared to be the last thing the St-Tropez weather could offer yesterday. The 186 teams were instead treated to an unseasonally drizzly and rainy day as they wafted around a light-wind triangular course that the race committee wisely shortened to just 14 miles.
It was in stark contrast to the stormy conditions of Race 1. The skill yesterday was spotting the streaks of wind and staying in them for as long as possible, although tactician on Near Miss, Olympic gold medallist Thierry PEPONNET (FRA), admitted they had enjoyed a good helping of luck from the wind gods. "We had a good upwind leg and we were lucky when we left the bay of St Tropez. The big boats sailed into a hole with no wind, and we came back into the bay with good pressure."
Their good fortune did not end there either. "We were also lucky to have the wind drop after we crossed the finish line. Because of that we stayed ahead of the small boats."
Peponnet laughed at the rainy conditions yesterday. He lives two hours further along the Mediterranean coast in Sete. "I spoke to my wife an hour ago and she was on the beach, with blue skies and beautiful sunshine. There is a conflict between two wind regimes in this part of France, and we are caught between them."
He joked: "Next year they should organise the Giraglia Rolex Cup in St-Tropez. They say it's very sunny!"
A Dutch boat, Arien van VEMDE'S Sotto Voce, was second in the big boats ahead of the first day's race winner, Raffaele RAIOLA'S Idea SAI. With a first and a third place in the first two races, the Italian Reichel/Pugh Maxi retained the overall lead in the regatta so far, only to relinquish it later in the day after a further protest hearing following yesterday's controversial first race.
Idea SAI and the German Reichel/Pugh 77 Black Dragon had missed a mark of the course, a point that was brought to their attention yesterday afternoon by the crew of Alfa Romeo and Nokia Enigma. With yesterday's protests thrown out on technical grounds, Idea SAI and Black Dragon made a written report to the committee today, admitting their error in missing Mark No.9 during Race 1. Both yachts have subsequently been awarded a 10% time penalty, which is believed to have dragged Idea SAI down from 1st to 5th place. Neville CRICHTON, owner of Alfa Romeo which has won line honours in both races, made no secret of his disdain for the decision. "If you sail the wrong course you should retire,"
he said, but added. "We will abide by the decision. We're here to have fun."
This change of Idea SAI's circumstances now moves another Italian Maxi, Carlo Puri NEGRI'S new Farr 72 Maxi Atalanta II into first place overall, with a 2,4 scoreline so far. Giampaolo ROCCA, Atalanta's navigator, admitted the team would be delighted if they could win the regatta this week, but believed it unlikely. "We have only been sailing this yacht since April and have only competed in Antigua so far, so there are many things we need to do to optimise Atalanta II. It normally takes at least a year to get a boat like this up to full speed, so we will be happy just to know that Atalanta has good potential for improvement."
Despeinada's race win yesterday builds nicely on her third in Race 1, placing her at the top of the leaderboard in the small boat division. Just a point behind with a 2,3 scoreline, however, is Roger PIERREJEAN'S IMX40 Farewell. Inshore racing off St-Tropez concludes tomorrow, with the long offshore race to Genoa due to begin on Wednesday 16 June.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.