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12th Palermo-Montecarlo race - Start

by Isabelle Andrieux 21 Aug 2016 23:33 BST 21-26 August 2016
Start of the 12th Palermo-Montecarlo race © Andrea Carloni

On the dot of midday 57 boats lined up on the start of the 12th Palermo-Montecarlo in the prestigious Gulf of Mondello in Palermo, Sicily. "It's very satisfying to start on time at 12 noon for this 12th edition in a seven-eight knot breeze with a clear very tight start, all yachts very close to the starting line. Even after so many years, it's still amazing to manage the line with so many yachts. It's pure adrenaline," commented PRO Alfredo Ricci.

It's a record attendance for this offshore race that includes six Maxi-yachts, representing 11 nations (Italy, USA, France, Monaco, Germany, Spain, UK, Malta, Turkey, Russia and Hungary), and a big success for Circolo della Vela Sicilia who, in collaboration with the Yacht Club de Monaco and Yacht Cub Costa Smeralda, organise this 500nm course that retraces an ancient route taken by Phoenician ships. After the Volcano Race and the Giraglia Rolex Cup, the Palermo-Montecarlo 2016 is the fourth and final stage of the Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge 2016 on the International Maxi Association (IMA) calendar.

No surprise to many that Rambler 88 skippered by Brad Butterworth led the fleet ahead of Wild Joe and Ville de Genève. Their challenge is to cover the distance in under 47 hours, 46 minutes and 48 seconds, a record set last year by the 100-foot Esimit Europa 2 belonging to YCM member Igor Simcic, skippered by Jochen Schümann, four-time winner in real time of this event. ý

"For sure our goal is to beat the record even though the 88-foot Rambler is smaller by 12 feet than Esimit. It's do-able if we have the right weather conditions, ideally for us around 15-25 knots. Unfortunately, it looks like 11 to 15 knots are forecast for the first half from Sicily to Sardinia, but we will of course pull out all the stops," commented the four-time-in-a-row winner of the America's Cup, Brad Butterworth, helmsman and tactician on the all-carbon 27m American sloop.

Among other favourites in corrected time, along with Trofeo Angelo Randazzo, is the J111 Yacht Club de Monaco, with a team comprising Juan Alberto Casaloneý, ýMartina Petrella and ýRémi Piazza, three sailors trained by the YCM's Sports Section, supervised by Jacopo Carrain (skipper), assisted by Pietro d'Ali on tactics, Enrico Zennaro and Filippo La Mantia (mainsail trimmer) and Giuseppe Leonardi (bowman).

"It's a very experienced team, Pietro d'Ali competing for the 5th time, supported by 4 excellent sailors," observes Alfredo Ricci. "We must also look out for Buena Vista, the team from the Circolo della Vela Sicilia who won last year in corrected time and are out to defend their title."

In Monaco, the Yacht Club de Monaco will also be following two other teams very closely: Hessel and Haico Halbesma sailing with Robeena Evensen (Challenger), and Gordon Kay, on his futuristic sailing boat, Infinity, the only foiling model produced in this series.

The first boats are expected in Monaco anytime from Tuesday 23rd August (depending on the weather), with the prize-giving on Friday 26th August at 7.30pm at the Yacht Club de Monaco.

To follow the race live see