Genoa, 16 June 2018 – For the triumphant crews at the 2018 Rolex Giraglia victory came courtesy of managing the smallest details, of making brave tactical decisions and at the right time, of effectively planning and preparing resources, of never losing belief, and where needed, the touch of fortune always required to succeed in offshore racing.
The Rolex Giraglia’s main prize, the Rolex Challenge Trophy and Rolex timepiece awarded to the overall race winner, was claimed by Dieter Schön’s Momo. Line honours winner in 2017, the predominantly German-crewed Maxi 72, seals an impressive double success. Fastest finisher this year was Tango, victor after an epic contest with two rival Wallycentos.
The 2018 Rolex Giraglia marked twenty years of Rolex’s partnership with the event, a period which has witnessed the historic competition not only develop into one of the foremost and most popular events in the Mediterranean sailing calendar but retain the spirit of camaraderie, of close competition and sportsmanship which has long defined it.
This year’s 66th edition featured 241 yachts, 212 competing in the offshore race following arrivals from Sanremo and the popular three-day inshore series in Saint-Tropez.
WORLD CHAMPION TAKES CONTROL
In recent years Maxi 72s have proven highly competitive at the Rolex Giraglia whether in the quest for line honours or for overall victory on handicap. Six Maxi 72s were in contention this year guaranteeing close racing and intriguing tactical contests. Of the contenders, Momo as the defending world champion, Cannonball as inshore series winner, and Caol Ila R as last year’s runner-up on the water, were expected to mount the most compelling cases for supremacy. Ultimately it was Momo, fourth finisher on the water and seven minutes ahead of nearest rival Cannonball, who would not only take Maxi 72 plaudits but win the race on handicap.
Momo’s preparation for the offshore race was again meticulous. “Based on the forecast we knew it was going to be light, shifty and tricky. To stay lighter we reduced our crew from 21 to 15,” explained tactician Markus Wieser. Despite beginning the race well, Momo soon ran into difficulties finding herself with ground to gain. “After a good start, we got stuck in really light area before the Giraglia rock and went from first in our group to fourth. Afterwards, on the approach to Genoa, we were able to make some really good tactical decisions, playing the sea breeze and the shifts very well, taking control and defending ourselves. Winning this race after claiming line honours last year is a great honour. The team and owner are very happy.”
TANGO MOUNTS EPIC COMEBACK
The relatively short, intense nature of the Rolex Giraglia offshore race often reserves close line honours contests. Winning margins are frequently a question of minutes, even seconds. Throughout the years several crews have seen their hopes of glory dashed on route to the Genoa finish line where the wind rarely plays game.
From the outset in Saint-Tropez, the three Wallycentos quickly exerted control of the 241-nm race. The newer designs Galateia and Tango and one of the first iterations of this class - 2016 line honours winner Magic Carpet Cubed. All three yachts had legitimate ambitions to win, all three enjoyed leadership of the race, all three had to ponder creative tactical solutions in increasing light conditions. Ultimately Tango was most in tune finding the greater wind pressure in the last quarter of the race to move ahead of her gallant rivals. Galateia arrived some nine minutes later. Magic Carpet Cubed, having led at the Giraglia rock, paid for a slower final leg.
Tango could count on the expertise and skill of a predominantly French crew led by the tactical guile and course knowledge of Thierry Peponnet, Marc Pajot and navigator Jean-Francois Cuzon. Peponnet had forecast a 24-hour finish in Saint-Tropez shortly before the offshore race start. He was only 11 minutes shy of making a perfect prediction. “It was very intense and interesting with a lot of leadership changes,” he explained. “You couldn’t say who was going to win until we crossed the line. We rounded the Giraglia in third place to come back into the lead during the last quarter of the race. The last two hours were ultimately the most important.”
Despite disappointment at not having maintained their leads, both rival owners David Leuschen on Galateia and Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones on Magic Carpet Cubed were gracious on arrival. “It was one of my first offshore races and I really enjoyed it. I would do it again,” said Leuschen. “Congratulations to Tango, they did a really good navigation, landing everywhere at the right place,” added Owen-Jones, who in over ten race appearances has experienced the many facets of the Rolex Giraglia.
Although the Rolex Giraglia’s burgeoning reputation is attracting an increasing number of larger state-of-the-art yachts, most of the fleet comprises Corinthian-sailed smaller yachts for whom the race remains a cornerstone in their calendar. Of the 241 attending yachts, over 100 measured under 40-ft. Although their hopes of overall victory in the offshore race were curtailed by unfavourable conditions, these crews, managing more limited resources over a longer period of time, remained focused and determined to finish the race and conquer their own challenges whether class honours or more personal goals.
Giancarlo Ghislanzoni, owner of the J/122 Chestress 3, has been returning to the race for the past 15 years, and his spirit epitomises that of many who take part. “We are Corinthians, a group of friends of a similar age, who train by racing. When we were younger we were very good dinghy sailors then work and family commitments got in the way before we started sailing together again.” The race is close to Ghislanzoni’s heart. “For us this event is a combination of the magic of the atmosphere, the crews, the places including Saint-Tropez and the Giraglia rock, very good boats and intense competition.”
The rounding of the Giraglia rock remains a mythical part of the race, a moment to treasure, even for those like Ghislanzoni who have paid visit numerous times. “It is always a new experience. The weather either in light air or strong air is challenging and the rock always offers something magical. This year the great visibility allowed us to see land everywhere – Montecarlo on one side, Tuscany, Elba island, all huge distances away.”
In 2018 Rolex celebrates the 60th anniversary of its relationship with the sport of yachting and the 20th year of its association with the Rolex Giraglia. The race is organised by partner clubs - the Yacht Club Italiano (YCI) in collaboration with the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez.
Continually attracting a fleet in the region of 250 yachts and from over 25 different countries, the Rolex Giraglia remains a competition sailors enjoy both discovering and returning to. “The race gradually took the imagination of a lot of people as a fun thing to do,” revealed Owen-Jones. “It’s about the right length and visits beautiful places. If you arrive at dawn at the Giraglia rock with the light really low it is the most beautiful sight you can imagine. The race has become more and more popular. Rolex as sponsor brings all their knowledge, support and makes it exciting.”
“I sailed my first Giraglia in 1970 and was lucky enough to race on the yacht which arrived first in real time,” added Nicolò Reggio, President of the YCI. “Now in my second year at the helm of the Yacht Club Italiano it is with great satisfaction that I reflect on the evolution of this regatta, thanks to our historical partners and the thousands of sailors who with their enthusiasm constitute the real success of this event.”
At the final prizegiving held at the Yacht Club Italiano the achievements of all crews was recognised and in particular those of Momo and Tango rewarded for their outstanding feats of navigation and tactical guile with Rolex timepieces.
The annual Rolex Giraglia returns in June 2019 with the offshore race scheduled to run for a second time to Monaco, finishing just off the Yacht Club de Monaco, another partner club of Rolex.
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.
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