Geneva, 29 May 2018 - An event defined by its overriding joie de vivre, the Rolex Giraglia is set to have more cause for celebration at its 66th edition in mid-June. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Rolex’s partnership with the popular event, and the 60th year of the brand’s privileged relationship with the sport of yachting.
The Rolex Giraglia is three events in one, though the individual elements are intertwined, providing sailors with different challenges and experiences. A significant portion is centred on Saint-Tropez, the event’s distinctive home, following arrival races setting off on 8 June from Sanremo, Italy, and, for the first time, from Barcelona, Spain. From 10–12 June, competitors engage in three days of inshore racing off Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera and, ashore, enjoy the atmosphere of the town’s Vieux Port. The inshore series provides healthy competition and serves as preparation for the week’s centrepiece, the historic 241-nautical mile (446 km) offshore race from Saint-Tropez to the Yacht Club Italiano’s headquarters in Genoa, Italy, via La Giraglia, a rocky islet off the northern tip of Corsica that lends its name to this famous contest. The menace of the Mistral at this time of year means conditions can be testing for crews and organizers alike.
A competition in the ascendency, the Rolex Giraglia consistently attracts a fleet of more than 250 yachts, making it one of the best attended events in the international sailing calendar. The record entry was set in 2016 with 268 yachts.
The offshore race, first held in 1953, can be ferociously fast or a demanding tactical test in light airs. Either scenario requires determination and perseverance to succeed. The race record was set in 2012, when Esimit Europa 2 finished just inside 15 hours. Last year’s line honours went to Momo, in a little under 33 hours, demonstrating the contrast in potential conditions.
Momo is set to return in 2018 to defend her title in the face of strong competition from evenly matched rival Maxi 72s, Cannonball, Caol Ila R (runner-up on the water in 2017), Jethou and Lucky. Notably, this year’s race marks the return of Magic Carpet Cubed, the Wallycento campaigned by Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, which claimed line honours on her most recent appearance in 2016 and was overall race winner in 2015.
The Wally fleet is particularly well-represented, with the presence of two more Wallycentos making their debut in this majestic contest: Tango, the striking Mark Mills design launched in 2017, and Galateia, designed by Reichel-Pugh, launched in late 2015 and the Wally class winner at the 2017 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. A fourth 100-footer (30.5 metres), Leopard 3, former line honours winner at the Rolex Fastnet Race and favouring heavier conditions, adds a different dynamic to the frontrunners.
The fastest yachts may provide much of the glamour, but the Rolex Giraglia is about far more than record-chasers and size. The race was founded with a Corinthian spirit at its core, as a means of bringing together the French and Italian sailing communities. Now with global appeal, this fraternal essence remains fundamental and continues to be embraced by the organizers, the Yacht Club Italiano and the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez. For most crews, this is the race of the year, the one their calendars and commitments are built around. They all dare to dream of success, of triumphing on handicap and claiming the emblematic Rolex timepiece and the Rolex Challenge Trophy as overall race winner.
Over the 20 years of Rolex’s involvement, a host of yachts have savoured this moment of achievement. Entrants representing eight countries and ranging from 33 feet (10 metres) to 100 feet (30.5 metres) have etched their names indelibly into the event’s history. To prevail in a fleet of 250 yachts is a significant challenge, one requiring the qualities that have united Rolex with yachting for the past 60 years: unrelenting determination, flawless preparation, outstanding skill and an unremitting passion for the sport.
A NATURAL AND SUPPORTIVE PARTNER
Rolex has always sought to associate with activities that are motivated by passion, excellence, precision and team spirit. Rolex naturally gravitated towards the elite world of yachting, forming an alliance that dates back to the late 1950s. Today, Rolex is Title Sponsor of 15 major international events; from leading offshore races, such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rolex Middle Sea Race and the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, through to the highest-level grand prix competition at the Rolex TP52 World Championship and spectacular gatherings at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup. The Swiss watchmaker’s close relationships with the most prestigious yacht clubs around the world, including the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Yacht Club Italiano, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (Italy), New York Yacht Club (United States), and the Royal Yacht Squadron (Cowes, United Kingdom) are the foundation of Rolex’s enduring relationship with the pinnacle of this spectacular sport.
Rolex, a Swiss watch manufacture headquartered in Geneva, is recognized the world over for its expertise and the quality of its products. Its Oyster and Cellini watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, the brand pioneered the development of the wristwatch and is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house all the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Through philanthropic programmes and a broad palette of sponsorship activities, Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports and exploration, and encourages the spirit of enterprise, as well as the conservation of natural environments.
For further information on Rolex and Yachting please contact:
Ms Virginie Chevailler
+41 22 302 26 19
Mr Giles Pearman
+41 79 763 37 34