June 14, 2009

Juni 15, 2009 @ 11:52:14   Foto Carlo Borlenghi  

Race Start

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By the time the dust settled at the race office in St Tropez, 192 boats were entered for the 57th edition of the Giraglia Rolex Cup, with over 2,000 sailors competing. The bay of St. Tropez was a sight full of sails midmorning - the race fleet eagerly anticipating the start of racing. The sun was shining, but the south-southeasterly breeze of 6-8 knots never built much more, staying light most of the day.

The 21-boat IMA Maxi division went off first on a 21.9nm coastal race. The starting line was generous, but with the race committee end favored, the fleet naturally skewed that way. Caught in the pack was French Spirit One, at 27.45m the biggest boat in the fleet, was caught barging at the start and was forced out by the Italian Wally, Good Job Guys, and had to tack around to start cleanly. Meanwhile, the STP 65 Luna Rossa had a perfect start hard by the committee boat, at the line with full speed at the starting gun.

Luna Rossa led initially up the beat, but with the right side of the course favored, Alegre found the favorable lane first and led around the top mark, followed by Luna Rossa, Ran, and Bella Mente. From there it was a drag race, the boats following each other in a line close reaching on an approximate 8-nm leg to the mark. Rounding in the same order, they set asymmetric headsails and sailed on a long starboard gybe, which allowed only a few position changes, across to a leeward mark east of Ste Maxime. Alegre held her lead with Ran now behind, followed more closely by Bella Mente. Apart from the fact that Alegre was in front of Ran, the Mini-Maxis basically finished in size order, so it was one of those days the big boats had a slight advantage.

The smallest and newest of the Mini-Maxis is Sir Peter Odgen's 60-foot Jethou, a Judel-Vrolick design built at Green Marine and launched in April. This is the first regatta for the boat, which had a week of sea trials and only few days of sail trials after being shipped from the UK to Genoa.

Back in St. Tropez's Old Port, Ian Budgen, tactician on Jethou commented, “All in all, as a crew we've practiced for about five days. So today was race one; I said to the guys we might not have won, but we haven't embarrassed ourselves.

As the smallest boat (in this division), in light air we have to fight really hard for clear air, which means we can't quite go the direction we want to go. So we lost out a little bit to the big boats. But we were pleased to be in the hunt and find out how our boat goes comparatively to them, and so we're reasonably happy.”

Ogden is an avid sailor, who previously campaigned his Swan 601 for two years prior to commissioning his new boat. Budgen continued, “The philosophy of the boat is that the owner loves his sailing, but enjoys sailing with his friends. We'll learn and move on together as a team and it'll take us a little bit longer than all the professional guys, but we'll get there in the end and we'll have a good time doing it, and that's very much Peter's philosophy. To sail a brand new full state-of-the-art race boat is just fantastic: she's very light, all carbon, and very fast. She's basically a baby RAN, with some very similar characteristics.”

The IRC/ORC Group A and the Swan 45 division sailed the same 21.9nm course as the Maxis. The Swan 45 one-design fleet comprised ten boats and it was Grant Gordon's/Klaus Diederichs' Fever that finished ahead.

Gordon, at the helm today said, “It was really enjoyable today, our first regatta in St Tropez. The conditions were really soft in terms of wind, but we were really pleased with the speed of the boat and the performance of the team, so we're delighted with the result.”

“We had some lucky breaks too where there seemed to be more breeze offshore and we went left offshore and got the breeze first. As the 3rd start, one of the challenges in the race was to get through the fleet of slow boats ahead of us, so there was quite a bit of fun and games dodging those guys in the light air, but once we got through there was clear air and it was an easier race from then on.”

Tactician Andy Beadsworth, added, “The breeze sort of came and went, went left and right. At the end of the day it didn't really change much, and we were all trying to double guess if it was going or not. It was a real tactician's nightmare.”

Beadsworth attributed the win to a good start and the fact they had a strategy, but said, “We were less than perfectly prepared…we lost our navigation instruments and so we didn't really know where we were going and what the course was and I think we probably were not vigilant enough to have our eyes out of the boat trying to do it without instruments.”

“As tactician, I ended up positioning ourselves against the fleet and I didn't really know where the mark was. So we made a couple of big mistakes which cost us, but at the end of the beat we saw more pressure left and had a couple of shifts which encouraged us to go out to the left and we made a huge gain. I'd say it was a little bit of luck and a little bit of vision and forethought - we got a little bit of encouragement to back what we thought was right, which is nice.”

The IRC/ORC B division sailed a 17.8nm course. One of the smaller boats in that group was Hector, an Archimbault 35, chartered for the race by Swiss sailor Norbert Schmitz. Italian crew members Daniela Manchistro and Elisa de Muzio, were pleased with their day, “It was a nice race, not much wind but enough to finish. Our start was not very aggressive, but we were able to gain and be in front with the small boats. The boat is designed as a race boat, very spartan, so quite empty inside, but it is fun to sail. It's an easy boat to race, and does well in light winds.”

Inshore racing at the Giraglia Rolex Cup continues tomorrow and Tuesday. On Wednesday, a fleet of close to 200 yachts will start the Giraglia Race, a 243-mile marathon starting from St Tropez via the Giraglia Rock at the northern tip of Corsica to the finish in the Italian port of Genoa.


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