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Maxis Revenge?? - Rolex Cup 2001

by Susannah Bourne on 3 Mar 2001
Saint-Tropez, France - Genoa, Italy
17th - 23rd June


The Giraglia Rolex Cup is set to attract some of the biggest and most extreme racing yachts in Europe this year. Now in its 49th year, the 243-mile race from Saint-Tropez to Genoa via the rugged Giraglia rock has become a notable event on the international sailing calendar.

Most exciting of all the yachts expected this year are the Open 60s. Riviera di Rimini holds the record for this race and last year lifted line honours once again. She, along with four other Open 60s, are expected to be on the start line on 21st June, along with at least 60 other yachts ranging from Maxi yachts well over 100-feet in length, down to the Mini-Transat boats that at 21 feet (6.5m) are really not much bigger than a dinghy.

The race among the imposing Maxis will be the customary duel between the more conventional designs, such as Riccardo Bonadeo's Rrose Selavy, and the hi-tech, hydraulically-controlled Wally Yachts such as Tiketitan, the sleek 88-footer (26.8m) with menacing grey/silver sails and battleship grey livery.

Bonadeo and his former America's Cup helmsman Mauro Pelaschier are looking forward to greater competition than ever before. Bonadeo has been instrumental in organising a new series called the Big Boat Mediterranean Circuit, which incorporates four events including the Giraglia Rolex Cup and culminates in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Porto Cervo, His Highness the Aga Khan's purpose-built sailing resort in Sardinia.

'I am confident of seeing more big boats on the start line than ever before,' commented Bonadeo, who ranks the Giraglia amongst the most important of his races in a busy season. The event is also growing in stature internationally. Last year, Whitbread Round the World Race veteran, Irishman Gordon Maguire, was calling tactics for a brand new Swan 48 from Australia called Loki. Another Whitbread sailor Bouwe Bekking from Denmark and Olympic bronze medallist Ossie Stewart were also there in the Swan fleet, bringing their technical and tactical knowledge to play in the tricky winds off Saint-Tropez.

With the involvement of the Yacht Club de France, a strong French contingent is expected to contest the offshore classic this year. Bruno Troublé is a fan of the race, the America's Cup helmsman being a regular participant on board Lindsay Owen-Jones's Wally yacht Magic Carpet. Under Troublé's guidance, this blue 77-footer (23.5m) won the racing division of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Sardinia last year, and her owner would dearly love to repeat the success at this event. Owen-Jones is largely occupied with running the giant cosmetics corporation, L'Oreal in Paris, but his first passion is for racing big yachts and he will doubtless be back on the Saint-Tropez start line in a bid for line honours.

Former Mumm 30 world champion Luca Bassani, the owner of Wally Yachts, sold his beloved Tiketitan to a German motor racing tycoon last year. But Bassani rarely misses the Giraglia Rolex Cup and will be racing on board one of his client's boats while Tiketitan's sister-ship, Tiketitoo, is being constructed during the course of this year.

But having the most glamorous yacht is no guarantee of success in the Giraglia. Last year, the wind smiled on the little yachts, the 30- and 40-footers (9m - 12m) that you would barely give a second glance when lined up next to their more imposing Maxi counterparts.

Whilst Riviera di Rimini had sailed across the line in the early afternoon in a pleasant enough Force 3, the Open 60 skipper Paolo Cian knew the gods were against him as the breeze continued to fill in towards the evening. By the time the little ships rolled in during the middle of the night, the wind was up to 25 knots, perfect for a fast downwind surf into the finish.

When the Yacht Club Italiano had finished calculating the results on corrected time, the Giraglia Rolex Cup was destined for Enrico Panizza Piero, the owner of a humble X-332 called Malandrino. Behind her was a 20-year-old Swan 441 called Saga.

So the lion's share of gleaming trophies and Rolex timepieces went to the little boats in 2000. This year offers an opportunity for revenge, and the Maxi yacht owners will be looking for double glory, line honours and that all-important victory on corrected time. They know that every year they fail to win, the climb to the top gets harder as the Giraglia Rolex Cup attracts an ever more international gathering of top-class yachts and professional sailors.

Organising Authority: Yacht Club Italiano (YCI)
Porticciolo, Duca delgi Abruzzi, 16128 Genoa, Italy Email:
For further information, please contact
Susannah Bourne on:
Tel: +44 (0)20 7228 8800
Fax: +44 (0)20 7228 8899

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