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Giraglia Rolex Cup - Inshore Series Day 3

by Quinag on 13 Jun 9-17 June 2017

An exciting inshore series at the 2017 Giraglia Rolex Cup concluded earlier today with competition going down to the wire across all classes. However, there is no respite for the majority of the crews as attention now turns to the start of tomorrow's 241-nm offshore race to Genoa, Italy.

This historic Mediterranean challenge, whose emblematic symbol is the rugged Giraglia rock located on the northern tip of Corsica, has run each and every year since 1953. The 2017 race, the 65th edition, is set to welcome a fleet in the region of 220 international yachts on the start line. With light conditions forecast a record breaking line honours time appears unlikely.

Conclusion of Inshore Series

Constant sunshine, calm conditions and close competition characterized the three-day inshore series of the Giraglia Rolex Cup in Saint-Tropez. The larger yachts competed on 32-nm courses and the smaller classes typically on courses ranging from 13-nm to 19-nm. Fastest yacht on the water for the three days of racing was Alex Schaerer's Maxi 72 Caol Ila R also winner of the IRC 0 division on handicap. ClubSwan 50 and 42 one-design classes contested their own windward/leeward races with Earlybird and Natalia emerging respectively as the leading performers across the week.

Offshore: Light conditions forecast

Given her excellent form in the inshore series, Caol Ila R will be expected to feature among the offshore race frontrunners. Well-versed in the race's changeable nature, Schaerer remains cautious about making any bold predictions: "We can only concentrate on racing against the other 72s - Jethou and Momo. This race can be unpredictable - two years ago because of the lack of wind we parked in front of the finish line in Genoa for four hours. Certain things you can't control."

One of those rival Maxi 72s is Sir Peter Ogden's Jethou, second to Caol Ila R on the water during the inshore series. "The current forecast is very light," admits Ogden, a regular Giraglia Rolex Cup campaigner. "There may be some good wind on the leg to the rock but it looks very light after that. In normal wind conditions it should be one of the 72s coming first. If it's lighter, you never know..."

Challenging the Maxi 72s will be Lionel Péan's Volvo Open 70 SFS II while Carlo Puri Negri, owner of Farr 70 Atalanta II, is not expecting to become the first Italian owner to win line honours at the Giraglia Rolex Cup since 2002, admitting: "A Maxi 72 will most likely claim line honours. They are faster. For us it's nearly impossible." Although the race record of 14 hours, 56 minutes set by Esimit Europa 2 in 2012 is unlikely to fall, the winner of the line honours title will probably be the smallest yacht since Andres Soriano's 68-ft Alegre came home first in 2009.

For most of the fleet the ambition is not line honours but to prevail on IRC handicap and claim the Rolex Challenge Trophy and Rolex timepiece awarded to the overall race winner. The light conditions forecast for the coming days may well point to a 'small boat' race and favour one of the large number of entrants in the 30-40-ft range.

Featuring among the 2017 fleet is defending champion Tip, owned by Gilles Pages, and historic competitors like Namib, who first sailed in the race 50 years ago and whose crew comprises renowned Italian sailor Mauro Pelaschier. South African entry Hi-Fidelity, a Welbourne 46, and Vincenzo Onorato's Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino have offshore pedigree, both triumphant at recent editions of the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

For all crews, this historic race will bring its challenges but equally moments of joy such as the rounding of the Giraglia rock, the race's virtual halfway point. "It's magical especially at sunrise and sunset. The light is always extreme," adds Ogden.

The 2017 Giraglia Rolex Cup is organized by the Yacht Club Italiano, with the collaboration of the Yacht Club de France, Société Nautique de Saint Tropez, the Yacht Club Sanremo and the Cercle Nautique et Touristique du Lacydon and, with the partnership of Rolex since 1998.

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