A third and final light but sailable day concluded the inshore racing off Saint-Tropez at Rolex Giraglia, the third event in the International Maxi Association’s 2023 Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge, organised by the Yacht Club Italiano in collaboration with the Yacht Club Sanremo and Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez. While the competition has been getting closer every day, once again it was Dario Ferrari’s 75ft Cannonball that won in the Maxi One class with Benoît de Froidmont’s Wally 60 Wallyño similarly prevailing for a third time in Maxi Two. Both boats scored a perfect scoreline in their respective classes.
Sadly in Maxi One, the results today further demonstrated why Maxi 72s – both Vesper, which is still in class’, and the majority, now out of class – continue to dominate maxi racing: All – Cannonball, Peter Dubens’ North Star, Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou and Jim Swartz’s Vesper – claimed the top positions in today’s race, and this was despite Vesper being called OCS. This left the 82ft Django Unchained the first of the larger maxis in the overall results for the Rolex Giraglia inshores, ahead of Chris Flowers’ Wallycento Galateia, Pier Luigi Loro Piana’s ClubSwan 80 My Song, Peter Harburg’s Black Jack 100 (the highest rated yacht competing), Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’ Magic Carpet 3 and Eduardo Plass’ Soto 65 Camiranga.
“It looks like we are ready for the long race!” mused Cannonball tactician Vasco Vascotto. “We perform well in these light conditions. This week we made a couple of good decisions. It is a nice combination of crew and boat and happiness. Everything looks nice and luckily in these conditions we have a little edge on the others, so if you don’t know where to go you can just stay with the others!
“Today there were a couple of choices to make on the first upwind – you wanted to go right at the beginning (that is something everybody knows) but when you wanted to leave the point, the left was stronger for a period, but then you knew that the right was coming good again at the end. So on the first upwind you had to cross the course three times and had some difficult decisions to make.”
Peter Dubens’ North Star, recent winner of the IMA Maxi European Championship in Sorrento, was second in today’s 19 mile coastal race, 1:38 behind first under IRC corrected time (Cannonball’s smallest winning margin this week). This was North Star’s third podium result in as many races, leaving her second overall in Maxi One.
“We had a cracking start and it was a good day’s racing,” said North Star’s tactician, double Olympic 470 medallist Nick Rogers. “We had breeze the whole way around and then we came in with a thunderstorm so we kept the breeze all the way to the finish. Peter [Dubens] loved it. He is really pleased. It has been a good week. We have had some great starts, which have helped.”
As to the competition Rogers continued: “Cannonball have got their boat well set-up and they are sailing really smart. They did everything right. You can’t really fault them.”
IMA President Benoît de Froidmont was delighted by his clean sweep in Maxi Two, the first occasion this has happened for his famous silver Wally 60. “It is a great combination of a good tactician and the crew, who now have been on board for a long time and know the boat perfectly. Definitely light airs are good for us, especially downwind.”
Wallyño’s tactician Cédric Pouligny described their race today: “We were fighting! The start was difficult today because we were back with the Maxi One class, which always makes it tricky and everyone was hot on the line. That left us suffering and when you race alongside the bigger boats you often can’t go where you want to go: At the beginning of the leg we were pushed to the left side but then we managed to get back and properly sailed upwind on the second part of the leg. Then it was a straight reach and we were faster on the downwind which is where we made up our time.”
Behind the immaculate Wallyño, a third place today for Dario Castiglia’s Baltic 65 RE/MAX One2 was enough for them to hang on to second place, one point ahead of Adriano Calvini’s Felci 61 Itacentodue, the podium placers ending this regatta substantially ahead of Kallima, Luigi Sala’s Yoru, the Mylius 60 Sud, Ludovic de Saint John’s Marten 72 Kuujjuaq and Giancarlo Gianni’s Durlindana 3, recent maxi winner of the 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar’s maxi division.
“We had light wind but we have done quite well,” summarised Dario Castiglia of his team’s first time at Rolex Giraglia. “Today we had Wallyño ahead of us [on corrected time] but we came in first in our group [on the water]. I have a great team.” They survived a near collision with Black Jack on today’s compact start line which tactician Andrea Casale described as “a bit stressful”.
Tomorrow Rolex Giraglia’s famous offshore race, enjoying its 70th edition this year, sets off from Saint-Tropez with a first warning signal at 11:55 CEST. Often this is a very light race, but at present, less than 24 hours out from the start, there is little alignment between the weather models. As Cannonball’s Vasco Vascotto explained: “it is not sure what will happen. One forecast that is very light shows us arriving Friday and there is another one that has us finishing one day earlier!”
Prior to then the Rolex crew party will take place on Saint-Tropez’s Plage de la Pesquière tonight – provided there is a break in the rain.
Full maxi results here