A record fleet of 240 yachts commenced the 63rd edition of the Giraglia Rolex Cup offshore race earlier today.
Under a 10 knot breeze and following four separate start sequences, the international fleet began their 243-nm journey from Saint-Tropez to Genoa via the Giraglia rock, located on the northern tip of Corsica.
The 2015 fleet comprises yachts from 20 countries, including 25 doublehanded and three singlehanded crews, two 100-ft yachts, five Maxi 72s and a host of Corinthian crews sailing yachts in the 30-50-ft range. The race has run each year since 1953 and has been partnered by Rolex since 1998.
“We are well prepared after a good inshore series,” explained Jochen Schümann, skipper on Esimit Europa 2, the favourite for line honours. “It will be a light air race, quite complicated and challenging. It will be very interesting to race against Magic Carpet - another 100-footer with good speed potential. The Giraglia Rolex Cup is one of the classic races in the Mediterranean.”
The race is testing, relentless and intense. The crews on the highly-competitive Maxi 72s chasing the two frontrunners are preparing to give all. “The Giraglia Rolex Cup is one of the shorter offshore races, because of that it’s a sprint,” revealed Caol Ila R navigator Ian Moore. “We’re set for 24 hours of intense action, every single manoeuvre counts, you can never be off your guard, or your game. It can be won by inches and metres. With this weather forecast it’s about getting to the next pressure and extending on your rivals. The competition between the five Maxi 72s will add to the intensity. I imagine we will never be out of site of each other.”
“The forecast is complicated,” closed Moore. “An upper mid sized boat could do well as the breeze is likely to die tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon.”
Moore’s point about the race finish being tight is poignant. The very first Giraglia in 1953 required a photo finish and in recent years, line honours tussles have gone right down to the finish line. The often benign conditions on the approach to the finish line just outside race organiser Yacht Club Italiano’s base in Genoa has claimed some notable victims in the past.
The frontrunners forecasted rounding the Giraglia rock at around sunrise tomorrow morning, with arrival in Genoa forecast for later on Thursday. The race record of 14 hours, 56 minutes and 16 seconds set byEsimit Europa 2 in 2012 does not appear under threat.
An hour into the race, Esimit Europa 2 held a narrow lead over Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s Wally CentoMagic Carpet Cubed (GBR) and Roberto Tomasini Grinover’s Maxi 72 Robertissima III (ITA).
To follow the progress of the 2015 Giraglia Rolex Cup fleet please follow the race tracker here.
Video highlights from today’s 2015 Giraglia Rolex Cup start is available to view here. Media can access the embed codes to play the video on their own website by clicking here.
About Rolex and Yachting
The Giraglia Rolex Cup has been partnered by Rolex since 1998. The event opens Rolex’s European yachting season and will be followed by August’s Rolex Fastnet Race, one of the world’s most famous offshore races. For full details of Rolex’s proud relationship with yachting a dedicated Press Kit is available in English and Italian.