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New look Giraglia attracts record maxi entry

by James Boyd/International Maxi Association 7 Jun 21:08 BST From 8 June 2024
The maxis with shallower draft are moored within Saint-Tropez's famous harbour © James Boyd / IMA

Loro Piana Giraglia 2024 sets sail tomorrow (8 June) with the first of four days of inshore racing on the Golfe de Saint-Tropez, prior to Wednesday's traditional offshore race from Saint-Tropez to Genoa via the famous rock off north Corsica that bares the event's name. Organised by the Yacht Club Italiano in collaboration with the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, Loro Piana Giraglia's inshore races are the third event in the International Maxi Association's 2024 Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge.

New for 2024 is the Giraglia's title sponsor, Italian luxury clothing and textiles company Loro Piana. Pier Luigi Loro Piana has been an enthusiastic yachtsman all his life and is competing this week onboard his ClubSwan 80 My Song.

This year there is no feeder race from Sanremo. Instead the inshore racing has been extended to four days. The 23 maxis competing in the inshore races - that will grow further for the offshore - are the headline part of larger IRC and ORC fleets competing at Loro Piana Giraglia. This year the maxis will join the bulk of the fleet racing on the Golfe de Saint-Tropez and its surrounding waters with coastal courses including upwind starts and some windward-leewards. Loro Piana is also influencing the format of the racing via their consultant, long term maxi yacht racer Giorgio Benussi: "Every day we have different courses for different classes, with coastal courses and upwind starts," he states. "The start area will depend on wind conditions. In the past some races here weren't well orientated to the wind direction with too much reaching."

Other new Loro Piana features are a race village on the St Tropez's Môle d'Estienne d'Orves where from 1600 daily they expect to entertain up to 1200 people with food and drink and a daily prize-giving.

Leading the charge around the race track in Maxi sub class 1 if there is adequate wind will be Roberto Lacorte's 60ft foiler FlyingNikka. However the stars of the show this week are the impressive collection of 100 footers, comprising the trio of Wallycentos - Chris Flowers' Galateia, the local heroes on Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones' Magic Carpet Cubed and Karel Komárek's V - plus the Wally 93 Bullitt of Andrea Recordati. So far this season, Galateia won PalmaVela from V, but only on countback, while at the IMA Maxi European Championship in Sorrento two weeks ago, V lived up to her name and convincingly beat her direct opponents.

"It was a nice surprise after our refit and having a new crew on board," said Jeff Cuzon, V's navigator. "We were competitive. The crew is making manoeuvres well. Depending upon the conditions the speed of the boat gives us opportunities. When we sail well, we can win." Of the conditions for the next four days of inshore Cuzon reckons from tomorrow the wind will be westerly and more choppy. "It is warm and we can expect nice thermal sea breeze."

But in terms of sheer size, even the 100s are dwarfed by the mighty Swan 115 Jasi, line honours winner in the 2023 RORC Transatlantic Race.

Loro Piana's My Song will face direct competition from the newest maxi to be launched: Alessandro del Bono is no stranger to these waters, having won the IMA's Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge here in 2022 with his 78ft ILC maxi Capricorno. Now he is back with a brand new Capricorno, a state of the art King Marine-built Judel-Vrolijk 80 footer.

Four former Maxi 72s will be competing in Maxi sub class 2. Three of the four ex-Maxi 72s here took part in the IMA Maxi Europeans and of these Sir Peter Ogden's 77ft Jethou prevailed ahead of Peter Dubens' NorthStar and Peter Harrison's Jolt (ex-Cannonball). Recently all have been turboed with water ballast fitted enabling them to reduce bulb weight. Here they are joined by Balthasar, campaigned by Belgium father and son Filip and Louis Balcaen, accompanied by their 46.8m supersloop Nilaya. Balthasar was previously Alegre/Notorious but most famously Alex Schaerer's Caol lla R, overall winner of the Giraglia in 2019. With round the world legend Bouwe Bekking tactician, Balthasar has just come out of a major refit that has included fitting twin rudders, water ballast and a push button hydraulic winch package.

For NorthStar, the 2023 IMA Maxi European Champions, Saint-Tropez is effectively home waters for owner Peter Dubens. "He loves it here - and that is what it is all about," says Nick Rogers, NorthStar's tactician. Today the former 72s enjoyed training in sun and brisk breeze, the boats separated by just metres. While Sorrento told one story, it is unlikely to be repeated this week, says Rogers, plus "we haven't raced against Balthasar - you can't underestimate a new team."

Alex Schaerer is back on his Swan 90 Strathisla with many of his former Caol Ila R crew. She will be racing at the top end of Maxi sub class 3 against the Martin 72 Kuujjuaq and Jean-Pierre Barjon's Botin 65 Spirit of Lorina, winner of the 2021-22 IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge. Coming in race fit to this class is Guido Paolo Gamucci's canting keel Mylius 60 Cippa Lippa X which last week finished second in the 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar. They are joined by the two year old Maxi Dolphin 62ab Ekita of Bruno Marin.

Favourite for Maxi sub-class 4 is IMA President Benoît de Froidmont's Wally 60 Wallyño. She has excelled in Saint-Tropez in previous years and is the only double winner of the IMA Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge which concludes here. Led by de Froidmont and French ace tactician Cédric Pouligny, Wallyño has several new crew on board whom they have been training up.

Wallyño will be up against the smart-looking YYachts Y7 Mystic of Raphael Laurenty; Enrico Aureli's modern Swan 65 Marlin II; Sao Bernardo, the Shipman 63 of Jerome Bataillard, and, all the way from Mexico, Miguel Sanchez Navarro's Swan 77 Invictus.

For the maxis, racing will start tomorrow the two windward-leewards on the Bay of Pampelonne.

More information on Loro Piana Giraglia available here.

More information on the IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge available here.

For more on the International Maxi Association visit

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