Compact Maxi 1 start line-up with overall leader Dario Ferrari's Cannonball to leeward. Photo: ROLEX / Studio Borlenghi

Compact Maxi 1 start line-up with overall leader Dario Ferrari's Cannonball to leeward. Photo: ROLEX / Studio Borlenghi

Cannonball and Wallyno remain unbeaten at Rolex Giraglia


13/06/2023 - 05:34

Despite exceptionally light, tricky conditions, the race committee pulled off a miracle on this second day of inshore racing at the 70th Rolex Giraglia, managing to run one windward-leeward for the 21 maxi yachts. The race course today for the maxi fleet was moved from the Golfe de Saint-Tropez to neighbouring Pampelonne Bay, known for its world-famous beach.

The three days of inshore racing at Rolex Giraglia, organised by the Yacht Club Italiano in collaboration with the Yacht Club Sanremo and Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, immediately preceding Wednesday's offshore race to Genoa, is the third event of the International Maxi Association's 2023 Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge.

The fleet had to wait for almost three hours on the water for the wind to fill in, but eventually their patience paid and the first of two starts for the maxi classes took place at 1420. With conditions ultra-light for a second day, it was once again Dario Ferrari's 75ft Cannonball that prevailed in the Maxi 1 class. Similarly IMA President Benoît de Froidmont's Wally 60 Wallyño scored her second bullet in Maxi 2. But today both their winning margins were considerably reduced.

Under IRC corrected time, Cannonball won by 3 minutes 40 seconds from second placed American Jim Swartz's Maxi 72 Vesper with IMA Maxi European Champions Peter Dubens' North Star third. Vesper's tactician Gavin Brady explained: "It was tricky – we sailed the race in five knots of wind and when you have got all the big boats starting together, it is a bit of a scramble, ducking and diving - you have to basically get out to the sides, but that worked out okay. We were right hand boat and crossed the line at full speed and rolled straight into a tack. We committed to the right hard..."

In fact the sides were more even today with a 30° shift out to the left versus marginally better pressure on the right. "It was probably better to be on the left, but there were a lot of passing lanes which is kind of what you want," continued Brady. "A lot of the times it was dictated by the traffic – the big boats ahead and the guys behind catching up."

According to Brady, contrary to common knowledge, the water ballasted former Maxi 72s (Cannonball and North Star) benefit in the light conditions as instead of bringing on water to add to their righting moment, they use it instead to shed weight when conditions are ultra-light. This may have helped Cannonball secure her second bullet but as Brady observes: "She was always a good light airs boat and her crew sail her well in these conditions."

While the highly refined Maxi 72s are the boats to beat in the Maxi 1 class, making the best headway against them today was the 82ft Django Unchained, which scored her second fourth placed finish of the regatta. The former Highland Fling XI still has many of Lord Irvine Laidlaw's crew on board, but they have been joined by some Italians including Tommaso Chieffi. "We are very pleased, because so far we have been fourth twice which considering we are racing the 72s is not bad. And we have beaten some of the 72s and the two Wallycentos and My Song," said the former America's Cup tactician. "Today was very light – we got pushed towards the line a bit by Black Jack who tacked just underneath us, so we had to execute a double tack in drifting conditions which was wasn't easy. So we didn't have a beautiful start, but at least we were on the line and able to tack right away."

Django Unchained benefitted from digging into a nice shift on the right on the second beat. "At the second top mark we were ahead of My Song which was good for us. It was good management from our boat and the boat is not slow for sure. I am very pleased and the owner is happy. We had some teething problems because the hydraulics and the engine are new and on the first day we went shrimping with the kite. But the guys worked hard to get the boat working – it is not up to its full potential, but it is close enough."

In the Maxi 2 class the invincible Wallyño today finished three minutes four seconds ahead of Adriano Calvini's Felci 61 Itacentodue, maxi winner of the last two editions of Rolex Giraglia's offshore race, in turn followed by Dario Castiglia's Baltic 65 RE/MAX One2 in third under IRC corrected time.

Calvini's grandson, Giovanni Chiappano commented of their day: "We waited for a long time and then finally Mother Nature gave us some wind. During the race we crossed paths with Wallyño - we were behind them at the start, got in front, but then on the last downwind they got ahead of us again. They are going very fast in the light winds. Overall we are more satisfied today than yesterday - we went faster and the crew were more harmonised."

Tomorrow is the third and final day of inshore racing at Rolex Giraglia prior to Wednesday's start of the event's offshore race.

Second day of coastal regattas, 2 more races for the Rolex Giraglia 70 fleets
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