Published: Thursday, 23 June 2016

Gilles Pages and the French crew of Tip claimed victory in the 64th edition of Giraglia Rolex Cup in Italy June 10-18.

French Team Tip Triumphs At Giraglia Rolex Cup 7

(Photos: Carlo Borlenghi / Rolex)

The 2016 Giraglia Rolex Cup was organised by the Yacht Club Italiano, the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, the Yacht Club Sanremo and the Cercle Nautique et Touristique du Lacydon. Rolex has been a partner of the event since 1998.

The Giraglia Rolex Cup is three events in one, comprising overnight races from Marseille and Sanremo to Saint-Tropez; an inshore series in Saint-Tropez; and thefamous offshore race ‘La Giraglia’, which runs 243 nautical miles from Saint-Tropezto Genoa via the islet that gives the event its name.

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In recognition of his success, Pages was awarded the Rolex Challenge Trophy and a Rolex Submariner timepiece.

“We knew the weather forecast was favourable to a small boat before the start,” says Pages, who raced his Sunfast 36 with a crew of six other Corinthian sailors. “We managed the first part of the race very well, and rounded the Giraglia in good shape. We knew the second part would be difficult with the building wind, but the crew were not tired and the boat was comfortable in the conditions. My crew is experienced. We won our class last year so we were well-prepared.”

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The 2016 race witnessed a total fleet of 268 entrants and its eclectic composition. The fleet represented 18 nations, ranging from size from 6.5m to 30.5m. It was also comprised of solo crews and those of 20 or more, and included designs from the early 1900s’ and those launched this year.

“The attraction comes from a central spirit, which has set it apart from other races since the beginning - top professionals racing against Corinthians, different types of boat and each with a chance to win. This motivates people to be part of this mythical race,” says Carlo Croce, the President of both World Sailing and the Yacht Club Italiano, and son of one of the founders has a strong sense of what makes the Giraglia Rolex Cup such a fascinating contest. 

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The races these years welcomed the addition of double-handed entrants, single-handers and this year also the Mini 650s. The door was first opened to short-handed sailing in 2014. 

This year the solo class was strong and came with 11 teams. Denis Bouan from France racing on Broceliande typifies the latest breed of yachtsman breathing passion into the ‘old lady of the Mediterranean’. Bouan finished fourth in class.

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“Solo sailing is a great personal challenge in every respect,” Bouan says. “You have to deal with everything on your own. You can ask for help but no one answers. It is great to see all these different boats, even if I am not able to look around too much because I have a lot to get ready! It’s really nice to be part of such a huge fleet.” 

At the opposite end of the size and personnel scale is Lindsay Owen-Jones’ Magic Carpet Cubed, which was 100-feet of sleek sail power. There were 22 crew members in the team, including Volvo Ocean Race winners Ian Walker and Marcel Van Triest. Owen-Jones became the defending champion.

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“This is the historic race of the Mediterranean. It is a mythical race. It’s the race we want to do every year, and do well. It is really difficult to win, and it was something we had tried to do for many years,” says Owen-Jones. “Marcel (Van Triest) and Ian (Walker) made all the right choices. Every single move we made happened to take us to where there was wind, maximising the speed of the boat.” 

On June 16 night, it was clear that the advantage in the wind conditions would lie with the slower boats. The building south-westerly that dominated the Ligurian Sea reached the Giraglia-Genoa area of the course after sunset and served to propel those boats still on that leg with greater efficiency than the winds serving larger, faster rivals.

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The 15-metre Rule Mariska was one of the yachts to benefit. Built in 1908, she is constructed from mahogany and teak planking with a low freeboard and an extreme rake – hugely different to today’s designs. Mariska finished first in her class. 

“It is one of the most beautiful races in the Mediterranean. It completely fits the spirit of our crew,” says Owner Christian Niels. “The race will be very challenging for us. After Cap Corse, they have announced 30 to 35 knots. Big waves can put the mast at risk. After the race in Giraglia, the wind increased suddenly to a challenging 30 to 40 knots. It became difficult to handle the boat, and we finished with just the jib. It was absolutely fantastic to race against the modern yachts and well-prepared competitors. For sure we are coming again!”

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Opposing Mariska was Maverick. Launched in January 2016, sporting a canting keel and directional stability foils, she was arguably the most advanced yacht in the fleet. Designed and built “without compromise to the quest to go fast” according to Owner Quentin Stewart. 

“Racing yachts are all about the alchemy between power and weight. Maverick is a narrow, light design,” says Infiniti builder Gordon Kay. “The foils we deploy make her more powerful, effectively lighter, and reduce drag. A canting keel also gives us more power. We are extraordinarily quick for a yacht of 46 feet, accelerating fast. We don’t heel very much, race with only seven crew, and the stronger the wind the faster we go.”

French Team Tip Triumphs At Giraglia Rolex Cup

(Gilles Pages)

2016  Giraglia  Rolex Cup Provisional  Results

Giraglia Rolex Cup Offshore Race (Saint-Tropez - Giraglia - Genoa) IRC Overall:

1. Tip (FRA), Gilles Pages (winner Rolex Challenge Trophy & Rolex Submariner)
2. Give Me Five 5 (FRA), Adrien Follin
3. Epsilon (FRA), Jean Rameil

ORC Class:

1. Scricca (ITA), Leonardo Servi (winner Trofeo Challenge Nucci Novi)

Line honours:

Magic Carpet Cubed (GBR) (26 hours, 48 minutes and 56 seconds) (winner Rolex Trophy, Réné Levainville Trophy & Rolex Yacht-Master)

Current Course Record:

Esimit Europa 2 (SLO): 14 hours, 56 minutes and 16 seconds set in 2012

Giraglia Rolex Cup Inshore Series (Saint-Tropez):

IRC 0 Wallyno Benoit de Froidmont
IRC A Team Vision Future Jean Jacques Chaubard
IRC B Easy Jean Marie Vidal
ORC 0 Southern Star Luigi Cimolai ORC A Samantaga Philippe Moortgat ORC B Aria di Burrasca Franco Salm