Peter Dubens' IRC Maxi European Champions on North Star with Jim Swartz's Vesper. Photo: ROLEX / Studio Borlenghi

Peter Dubens' IRC Maxi European Champions on North Star with Jim Swartz's Vesper. Photo: ROLEX / Studio Borlenghi

Early lead for Cannonball and Wallyño at Rolex Giragli


11/06/2023 - 18:41

The rain held off and the wind filled in just enough for a 19 mile race to be held on the opening day of inshore racing out of Saint-Tropez at Rolex Giraglia, organised by the Yacht Club Italiano in collaboration with the Yacht Club Sanremo and Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez.

The race committee, including Ariane Mainemare, the International Maxi Association's race officer for this regatta, deliberately set a short course due to the light forecast. With the wind at start time in the east-northeast, a start-finish line was set immediately off the Port de Saint-Tropez with a windward start before the 184-strong fleet, including 21 maxi yachts of 60-100ft LOA, exited the Golfe de Saint-Tropez on an six leg course including two reaching legs. During the race competitors saw only marginally more than eight knots but had to deal with a massive shift in the wind between 060 and 120°.

At the start the boldest move was taken by Dario Ferrari's Cannonball, which, despite the pin being favoured by 20°, started by the race committee boat and was first to tack on to port. "We wanted to be the first on to port to go into the first headland," explained tactician Michele Ivaldi. "It was a bit risky, but it paid off and we managed to lead [the next former Maxi 72] at the first cross, which was important. From then on it was easier because there were not many passing lanes. It was a good race. The boat was going well and Francesco (de Angelis) and Dario did a good job on the helm, our sail choices were right and Vasco [Vascotto, strategist] was on fire." But most importantly their forecast which had anticipated the scale of the shifts, proved accurate. "We had a pretty good race. It doesn't get any better than this. Galateia did a good job. For sure the 72s are the most optimised boats and are big enough to get into clear air."

The great start enabled the white 75 footer to win under IRC by a sizable 11 minutes 27 seconds from Peter Dubens' 72ft IMA Maxi European Championship winner, North Star, with the Wallycento Galateia, being campaigned here by her new co-owner Chris Flowers, third and first among the 100 footers.

"It was a classic light Saint-Tropez day," recounted Scotland's Ian Budgen, racing this week in Galateia's afterguard. While they had started late, they had managed to dig themselves out well. "As second fastest boat on rating, we were always going to work our way ahead of the smaller boats quite quickly and by the time we were doing our second tack we were already bow to bow with Magic Carpet." A better layline call into the top mark, anticipating the right shift, drew the white Wallycento up to the mark while it left Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones' Magic Carpet Cubed overstood. Galateia was first to round the top mark, two boatlengths ahead of her rival.

On the run the highest rated yacht here under IRC, Peter Harburg's 100ft Black Jack, was getting back into it after a start line incident had resulted in her having to make a penalty turn. As her Australian tactician Adam Beashel put it: "We were mid-line so trying to do a turn was a big manoeuvre in a 100 footer - that left us on the back foot. We went into recovery mode after that."

It wasn't until the run that Black Jack finally rolled the Wallycentos, but again, by being ahead, Galateia was less affected by this. "We were far enough ahead of Magic Carpet Cubed and Black Jack never got far enough ahead of us to beat us on rating," continued Budgen. "It was a great result for Chris Flowers on his first outing."

In the Maxi 2 class, Benoît de Froidmont's Wallyño and Dario Castiglia's Baltic 65 RE/MAX One2 were the stand-out maxis today with the International Maxi Association President's Wally 60 winning the class by 5:37 under IRC from RE/MAX One2 with Adriano Calvini's double Rolex Giraglia offshore race winning Felci 61 Itacentodue third, behind second by more than 10 minutes.

"It was light airs today, but that is the best condition for the boat so the result is there," commented de Froidmont, who comes fresh from a strong performance at last month's IMA Maxi European Championship in Sorrento. "The crew now knows the boat very well so we were well prepared. Saint-Tropez is one of my favourite places and as usual there are fantastic moments both on the dock and on the water. The competition is very high as usual here."

These three days of inshore racing at Rolex Giraglia form the third of six events in the International Maxi Association's 2023 Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Championship, following Palmavela and last month's IMA Maxi European Championship. Racing continues tomorrow with windward-leeward races for the maxis on the Bay of Pampelonne.

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