THREE EVENTS IN ONE
Renowned for its prevailing Corinthian spirit and proud traditions, the Rolex Giraglia is three events in one, comprising an overnight race from Sanremo to Saint-Tropez; an inshore series in Saint-Tropez; and the famous offshore race ‘La Giraglia’, which runs 241 nautical miles from Saint-Tropez to Genoa via the islet that gives the event its name. The 66th edition starts on Friday, 8 June 2018 with the symbolic arrival race from Italy.
Fact: The record number of Rolex Giraglia entries is 268 yachts set in 2016.
The event was established in 1953, in the aftermath of the Second World War, to help repair relations between Italy and France. It has been held every year since and has developed into one of the biggest sailing festivals of the Mediterranean season, regularly attracting around 2,500 professional and amateur crew members from all over Europe and beyond.
Fact: Luciano Frattini’s Jalina, a yacht which returned to the race in 2017, won the inaugural edition of the Rolex Giraglia in 1953.
CAMARADERIE AND RESPECT
Created by the then presidents of the Yacht Club Italiano and the Yacht Club de France in a Paris bistro, the event is still organized by a combination of French and Italian yacht clubs. Today, the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez and the Yacht Club Italiano, both prestigious partner yacht clubs of Rolex, maintain the founding principles of friendship and fraternity. Rolex has been title sponsor of the event since 1998 since when the Rolex Giraglia has evolved into an event of significant international repute.
Fact: 22 entries took part in the first edition, which was raced from Sanremo to Toulon via the Giraglia rock.
The three-race inshore series in Saint-Tropez provides both fierce competition on the water and a cherished opportunity ashore for crews to meet and exchange stories in one of France’s most convivial and enviable Mediterranean ports. The 2018 inshore series takes place from 10 – 12 June.
Fact: New Zealander Neville Crichton is the only owner to break the Rolex Giraglia race record twice, triumphing in 2003 and 2008 with two different versions of his Maxi yacht Alfa Romeo. Crichton also won overall in 2010 with Shockwave.
Commencing on Wednesday, 13 June the offshore race is the biggest draw of the Rolex Giraglia. The race is intense, and the margins for error are minimal. Precise navigation, flawless decision making and strong teamwork are essential attributes for the competing crew. The Giraglia islet, which lends the race its name, has achieved mythic status in the sailing world, similar to the Fastnet Rock, the Organ Pipes and Stromboli. A large ridge-backed rock, the Giraglia is the northern extension of the Cap Corse. It lies barely one nautical mile off the coast of Corsica, measuring 600 metres in length, a mere 50 metres wide and rising just 60 metres above sea level. Like all offshore races, each edition is unique and determined by the make-up of the fleet and prevailing weather conditions.
Fact: In 1999, only five out of the fleet of 77 yachts completed the offshore course within the time limit due to light winds.
Over the history of the race, some of the world’s fastest yachts have attempted to set benchmark times. It is no easy task. A new record has been set on only six occasions since the famous photo finish between EA of Italy and Amity of France marked the inaugural race in 1953. While line honours is the principal target of the fastest yachts and is rewarded with the Rolex Trophy and a Rolex timepiece, the more coveted prize and the one contested by the entire fleet is overall victory on IRC handicap. This worthy winner is also justly rewarded with the Rolex Challenge Trophy and a Rolex timepiece. Vadim Yakimenko and his predominantly Russian crew on the TP52 Freccia Rossa triumphed in 2017.
Fact: The Rolex Giraglia offshore race record stands at 14 hours, 56 minutes and 16 seconds, set by Igor Simcic’s 100-foot Maxi Esimit Europa 2 in 2012.
The allure of the Rolex Giraglia lies in its diversity - a sailing programme offering varied and challenging races, the presence of crews and yachts from all corners of the globe and enjoyable onshore activities comprising social events held in enviable environments. The event’s founding principles of camaraderie and respect remain at the fore today while its reputation as one of the most complete sailing competitions in the Mediterranean continues to burgeon.
Fact: Yachts from eight different nations have won the Rolex Giraglia offshore race in the past twenty years.
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