Published: Monday, 19 June 2017

Freccia Rossa, a Russian-crewed TP52 owned by Vadim Yakimenko, took the overall victory at the 65th Giraglia Rolex Cup (June 9-17) among the 250 yachts – 209 in the main event from Saint-Tropez, France to Genoa, Italy, while Dieter Schon’s Maxi 72 Momo from Germany took line honours. Yakimendo was rewarded with Rolex timepiece at the Yacht Club Italiano in Genoa on June 17 morning.

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(Photos: Kurt Arrigo / Rolex - Vadim Yakimenko receiving Rolex timepiece)

Claiming the Rolex Challenge Trophy and a Rolex Submariner timepiece as overall race winner, Freccia Rossa, translating as red arrow, becomes the second TP52 in recent years to win the race – Franck Nöel's Near Miss also won in 2012.

Arriving in Genoa in the early hours of Friday morning, as the fifth yacht to complete the race, Freccia Rossa soared to the summit of the corrected time leaderboard. As the lack of breeze on the tricky passage from the Giraglia rock to the finish line continued to thwart the ambitions of those yachts still in contention, Freccia Rossa’s status as race leader became race winner.

Yakimenko explained: “The Giraglia Rolex Cup is a great event and to win here is a fantastic feeling. There are always lots of boats, crews from all over the world. It’s full of positive emotion and also challenging. We have sailed together for a very long time, as a mix of professionals and amateurs. I am very proud of my crew. To sail together is always a great pleasure.”

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(Freccia Rossa)

In the absence of a 100ft Maxi on the start line in Saint-Tropez, the quest to win line honours at the 2017 Giraglia Rolex Cup was set up for the three competing Maxi 72s. Alex Schärer’s Caol Ila R, as the fastest performer during the three-day inshore series in Saint-Tropez, was the form yacht; Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou, a perennial race competitor, has amassed significant Giraglia mileage; Dieter Schön’s Momo arrived in single-minded fashion having exclusively focused her preparations and set-up specifically for the offshore race.

Making gains in the prevailing light conditions and avoiding parking in the various potential wind traps became the focus for the international fleet. This latter peril proved the downfall of Jethou’s ambitions, left motionless on the approach to the Giraglia rock, and dropping out of contention.

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This left her rival Maxi 72s to engage in a head-to-head from the rock to Genoa, exchanging the lead on a few occasions before Momo assumed control of the race with some 30nm to go. Momo eventually crossed the finish line on Thursday at 21:39.04, in an elapsed time of 32h 52m 4s, a mere eight minutes ahead of Caol Ila R. “It was only really won when we crossed the line,” explained crew member Chris McAsey. “We thought coming into Genoa we would park up. Luck went our way.” 

Like McAsey, navigation specialist Francesco Mongelli was part of the crew onboard Giacomo during her recent Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race success. Mongelli pinpoints two crucial elements as key to success – crew work and preparation. “We made some important decisions before the race related to the weather forecast, the sails and crew onboard. You never know with a Mediterranean forecast whether it will be accurate but our decisions proved to be right. We never lost faith even in the moments when we were losing ground.

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“It was a long race, very interesting. The winds were very light. We had a great fight with Caol Ila. You need to be lucky at the end to cross the finish line first.”

Luciano Frattini’s Jalina was abandoned in Portoferraio on the Isola d’Elba in 2007. 

“When we found Jalina it was a critical moment for the boat. Experts say if she had been left in the same state for another year she would have been unrecoverable. We spent years restoring the boat to her original 1946 design, using original sketches and old photos, because over time she changed a lot.”

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Jalina’s presence in Saint-Tropez provided the opportunity to reflect on the gentle passing of time. “The Giraglia Rolex Cup evolves,” explains Frattini. “There was a moment for Jalina and now for the magnificent boats who win today. However, in the heart of everything people like to turn back and admire. We came here to provide them with this opportunity. Somehow this race is Jalina’s natural environment.” On her return to the race which made her famous, Jalina finished in 63h 15m. 

The annual race was organised by Yacht Club Italiano and the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez with long-term partner Rolex.

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YCI President Nicolò Reggio explained: “The Giraglia Rolex Cup is a communal experience. It’s about being together, a desire to participate and share a unique atmosphere. To have done the event is to be part of the history of sailing.”

Provisional results:

Giraglia Rolex Cup Offshore Race (Saint-Tropez - Giraglia - Genoa)

IRC overall: 

1. Freccia Rossa (RUS), Vadim Yakimenko (winner Rolex Challenge Trophy & Rolex Submariner) 

2. Momo (GER), Dieter Schön 

3. Caol Ila R (GBR), Alex Schärer

Freccia Rossa Victorious At Giraglia Rolex Cup

ORC class:

1. DHL - Adelasia Di Torres (ITA), Renato Azara

Line honours:
 Momo (GER) – 32h 52m (winner Rolex Trophy, Réné Levainville Trophy & Rolex Yacht-Master)

Current course record:
 Esimit Europa 2 (SLO): 14h 56m 16s in 2012

Giraglia Rolex Cup Inshore Series (Saint-Tropez):

IRC 0 Caol Ila R Alex Schaerer 

IRC A Freccia Rossa Vadim Yakimenko

IRC B Absolutely II Philippe Frantz
ORC A Giuletta Marina di Cascais Alexandre Kossack 

ORC B Foxy Lady Carlo Costigliolo