Maxi A sets sail under an overcast sky in today's first race. Below: Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones' Wallycento Magic Carpet Cubed with Karel Komárek's V to leeward.

Maxi A sets sail under an overcast sky in today's first race. Below: Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones' Wallycento Magic Carpet Cubed with Karel Komárek's V to leeward.

Loro Piana Giraglia sets sail with early maxi class leads for Jolt and Wallyño


09/06/2024 - 06:30

The first of four days of inshore racing at Loro Piana Giraglia got underway today on the Bay of Pampelonne, close to Saint-Tropez. Organised by the Yacht Club Italiano in collaboration with the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, these inshore and coastal races form the third event in the International Maxi Association’s 2024 Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge, which began at the beginning of May with PalmaVela.

Today the 23 maxis competing in the inshores (Alessandro del Bono’s brand new Judel/Vrolijk 80 Capricorno has yet to put in an appearance) raced two windward-leewards in winds ranging from six to 13 knots from an easterly onshore direction with the overcast sky eventually giving way to sunshine. The fleet was divided into two starts with the 100 footers and Roberto Lacorte’s FlyingNikka down to the former 72s in the first, Maxi A, and the second, Maxi B, ranging from the Marten 72 Kuujjuaq down to the Brazilian Swan 77 Invictus and the 60 footers Wallyño of IMA President Benoît de Froidmont and Guido Paolo Gamucci’s Mylius 60 canting keel Cippa Lippa.

In Maxi A the big boats saw the opening race podium under IRC corrected time occupied by Sir Peter Ogden’s 77ft Jethou followed by Chris Flowers’ 100ft Wallycento Galateia and Peter Harrison’s Jolt (ex-Cannonball). Jethou went on to finish sixth in the second windward-leeward which was won by Jolt, leaving Peter Harrison’s team overall leader in the class after the opening day.

“It was quite simple,” reported Sir Peter Ogden, from his regular table in Saint-Tropez’s Café de Paris post racing. “We had a great start in the first race and in the second had a very bad start, ducked everyone at the top mark and didn’t win! But it was lovely – flat water and sunshine and good breeze and it was very nice and enjoyable. Saint-Tropez is a favourite place – where else in the world can you come and sit here and watch the world go by…”

Having been runner-up at the recent IMA Maxi Europeans in Sorrento, Jethou is back on form, this year with Ian Walker standing in for Brad Butterworth in the tactician’s spot. “We have got water ballast now which helps and we have done some other small mods, but the boat is definitely competitive compared to last season. Plus our starts are generally great now,” concluded Ogden.

With a 5-2 today, Karel Komárek’s 100ft V was third overall in Maxi A and leading the IMA Maxi sub-class 1 for the 100 footers (down to the ClubSwan 80 My Song) until losing a protest this evening. Their success today was directly down to the quality of their starts, admitted tactician Ken Read. “In the first race we had a bad start and we cleared out and got ourselves back in the hunt. Then we found a way to drop a couple of boats with a bad drop at the leeward gate - that wasn’t our best race. In the second race we got a good start and led all the way. Today was a classic case of ‘you can’t win the regatta on the first day, but you can lose it...’”

Of the conditions the North Sails President added: “The first race was pretty weird with lots of little cells going by. The second race was 13 knots and beautiful racing in stunning Saint-Tropez conditions.”

Over the winter all of the 100s have been fitted with water ballast and had their keels lightened and in their new more racey sub-50 tonne guise, they are becoming increasingly competitive with the previously untouchable former Maxi 72s. “We can usually get away from them on the first leg if we can keep our lane,” continued Read. “Last year it wasn’t that easy. Now if we get a good start we can control our destiny.”

Following V's penalty, Andrea Recordati's Wally 93 Bullitt has moved up to third overall in Maxi A and is leading the IMA Maxi sub-class 1, narrowly ahead of Galateia.

If competition was tight in Maxi A, this was less the case today in Maxi B, where Benoît de Froidmont’s Wallyño won both races. In the first the slippery silver Wally 60 corrected out to 3:15 ahead of Guido Paolo Gamucci’s canting keel Mylius 60 Cippa Lippa X (last week’s runner-up in the 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar) with old rival Jean-Pierre Barjon third on his Botin 65 Spirit of Lorina (here at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez in 2019, Wallyño beat Barjon’s previous Lorina 1895 on the final leg of the final race to be crowned winner of that year’s IMA Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge). In the second race the podium’s occupants remained the same but with Spirit of Lorina second and Cippa Lippa X third.

Remarkably these results continue Wallyño’s unbeaten track record of continuous bullets in Saint-Tropez that started here last year and continued on through last October’s Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez.

“We know the boat very well now,” commented a delighted de Froidmont. “St Tropez is definitely the place for Wallyño.” While his core crew led by tactician Cédric Pouligny remains the same, Wallyño is racing here with four new crew. “It was a good day for us definitely. I hope we can sail the same way tomorrow and for the rest of the event.”

Racing continues for the maxis tomorrow when a further two windward-leewards are scheduled. The forecast is showing the wind stronger at 15-20 knots from the southeast at start time dropping to 10 knots and veering as the afternoon progresses.

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