Action officially commenced at midnight on Friday 12 June, with a 90-strong international fleet embarking on the 60-nautical mile race from Sanremo, Italy to Saint-Tropez. Unsurprisingly, it was Igor Sim?i?’s Esimit Europa 2 which arrived first in Saint-Tropez, the 100-ft Maxi underlying its status as the fleet’s fastest boat. Esimit Europa 2 completed the course in 4 hours, 51 minutes some two and a half hours ahead of Lionel Péan’s Volvo Open 70 SFS the second arrival. For the second year in a row Richard Burton’s J109 Jet Lag (FRA) claimed handicap victory on IRC.
?For some 160 crews today marked the first of three days of racing on the Côte d’Azur. As overnight rain subsided this morning, a building breeze heralded the start of the highly competitive inshore series, offering crews the opportunity to sharpen teamwork and tactics ahead of Wednesday’s offshore race start. A south-easterly ranging from 15-20 knots kept today’s races challenging. Following three separate starts shortly after 13:00 CEST, the fleet embarked on two different courses (31.5-nm for IRC 0, IRC A and ORC A, and 16.6-nm for IRC B and ORC B).
Making a strong early impression were the class winners: Alex Schaerer’s Maxi 72 Caol Ila R (USA) in IRC 0; Michele Galli’s B2 (ITA) in IRC A; Christophe Bru’s Dare Dare (FRA) in IRC B; Roberto Bruno and Paolo Bonomo’s Aurora (ITA) in ORC A; Giorgio Gobbo’s Lima Golf 3.1 (ITA) in ORC B.
“It was really nice out there today, the breeze kicked in, we had some spinnaker runs and it was optimum sailing,” enthused Caol Ila R’s John Hildebrand.??Esimit Europa 2 proved the fastest on the water (finishing in 2 hours, 25 minutes).
Offshore race – Light air forecast
?The main event – the 243-nm offshore race from Saint-Tropez to Genoa – started this wednesday with a fleet close to 250 yachts set to take part, a figure which will comfortably surpass the record of 220 participants in 2010.
??Looking ahead to offshore race Sim?i? revealed: “Every race is a new challenge, bringing new risks. We can’t take anything granted. In 2012 we set a record which will be difficult to beat, therefore our objective for this year, looking at the forecast, is to win line honours.” For the first time Esimit can count on the experience of Australian navigator Adrienne Cahalan, multiple line honours winner at the Rolex Sydney Hobart on Bob Oatley’s 100-ft Maxi Wild Oats XI. “It’s going to be sub-10 knots for a lot of the (offshore) race,” said Cahalan. “Often in these offshore races you get little gates, and if someone gets through it and it shuts behind then you can get quite a lead. It’s going to be very strategic. I love the light air!”
??It will be Calahan’s first Giraglia Rolex Cup and one she is relishing: “How can you not enjoy a race that starts in Saint-Tropez, finishes in Genoa and includes some of the most beautiful parts of the Mediterranean!”
First class event
The impressive list of entrants confirms the event’s first-class reputation born through numerous factors; from the alluring appeal of racing in Saint-Tropez, the week’s series of popular social events which bring the sailing community together and the opportunity to take part in the Mediterranean’s oldest offshore race.
Forr Rolex, partners of the race since 1998, it heralds the start of its European yachting season, comprising the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Middle Sea Race.