The Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg’s Swan 60, Bronenosec, is embarking on its third event in the Mediterranean, travelling this week to St. Tropez, France, to compete in the Giraglia Rolex Cup. The event, which runs from the 9th June to the 16th, features a series of inshore races, followed by a 242-nautical mile offshore race to Sanremo, Italy, via La Giraglia islet.
Having already raced in Palma Vela, in Spain, and also the Rolex Volcano Race, in Capri, the Gazprom sponsored team, made up of Russian and Italian sailors will be racing the Swan 60 in France with the momentum of two events already behind them.
Yesterday saw the official start to the regatta, in its 60th edition, with the prologue race from Sanremo, Italy to St. Tropez, France. With the yachts expected to arrive in the Bay of St. Tropez later today, it is the perfect opportunity for Bronenosec to see what everyone is made of and gauge their performance in advance of the week’s racing.
At stake is the Giraglia Rolex Cup along with the current race record. But perhaps most importantly is the honour and pleasure that the Bronenosec team along with more than 1500 sailors will extract from racing on the finest yachts across the ever tricky Mediterranean Sea.
Situated just 1.5 miles to the North of Corsica, measuring 800 metres long by 50 metres wide and whose highest point is just 60 metres above sea level is the rocky islet known as ‘la Giraglia’. Exposed to all wind directions and isolated from humanity for most of the year this once strategically important rock with its lighthouse, medieval tower and accompanying chapel has lent its name and served as the turn mark to the largest offshore race in the Mediterranean.
Bronenosec skipper, Vladimir Liubomirov is excited about the prospect of Bronenosec’s first Giraglia Rolex Cup:
“The best experience comes from racing, and now that we have completed two events as a team, the way in which we are working together is developing and improving. This is reflected in our results. We will use the in-race on the water experience and momentum from our last two regattas to help us achieve a good result in St. Tropez.”
The Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg will maintain training schedules on boat preparation, fitness and boat handling in order to produce a successful season-long campaign that leads into Copa del Rey, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup, a leading event on the prestigious Nautor’s Swan calendar held biannually in Porto Cervo, Sardinia.
The Giraglia Rolex Cup is organised by the Yacht Club Italiano, in conjunction with the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez and the Yacht Club de France.
Further information on the Giraglia Rolex Cup can be found at www.giragliarolexcup.com
Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg www.yacht-club-spb.ru
June 10, 2012
SUN, SAILING, SAINT-TROPEZ
The 2012 Giraglia Rolex Cup is underway. Today, under alluring blue skies in Saint-Tropez, the first of three days of inshore racing took place with the event’s international fleet, in excess of a hundred yachts, divided into two groups. The larger boats, including the Maxi yachts (measuring over 60-feet), attacked a 31.9-nautical mile course, whilst the smaller classes were confronted with a 26.4-nm challenge.
Conditions were testing: 15-18 knots of breeze were present for the 11:20 CEST start, reaching 30 knots during parts of the race. Impressing on the water were today’s winners: Jethou (GBR) in Group 0 IRC, Near Miss (SUI) in Group A IRC, Swift (FRA) in Group B IRC, Mandolino (ITA) in Group A ORC and Baciottinho (ITA) in Group B ORC. The inshore racing followed Friday’s prologue race, which ran from Sanremo to Saint-Tropez. Sixty-two boats participated with the 52-foot Maltese yacht Dralion prevailing on handicap.
Meanwhile, thoughts are firmly focused on the week’s main event – the circa 242-nm race from Saint Tropez to Sanremo via the Giraglia rock, located off the northern tip of Corsica, which commences on Wednesday 13 June. Yachts representing almost twenty countries are expected to participate in this historic 60th edition of the race.
Carlo Croce, President of event organizers Yacht Club Italiano, is looking forward to the contest ahead: “Almost two hundred boats should be participating, demonstrating that the Giraglia Rolex Cup has a place in everyone’s heart. Many nations, from almost everywhere, are represented and above all lots of larger boats which hasn’t always been the case. A very high level of competition is in prospect.”
Croce, whose father Beppe was one of the race’s co-founders, is delighted that the ethos and traditions of the event have been maintained despite the enormous changes that have taken place during sixty years of competition. “The spirit of the Giraglia comes from having a mixed fleet: from small, family-run boats to professional crews who have taken part in events like the America’s Cup. This is the essence of the Giraglia Rolex Cup and it is important that it has not been lost.” Fittingly, this year’s race finishes in Sanremo – just like the inaugural event in 1953 (when the start was from Cannes) and the subsequent editions from 1954-1958 which departed from Saint-Tropez.
Today’s full results from the inshore race are available here.
June 12, 2012
Bronenosec Unmoved by Strong Winds
Today the Giraglia Rolex Cup competitors faced quite challenging conditions, with northeasterly winds of over 30 knots and heavy seas. A number of boats retired from the race with damage. Even Bronenosec couldn’t escape unscathed as their mainsail broke right after the start doing a quick gybe. The Swan 60 continued using a smaller sail, determined to complete the race and finishing top of Class 0 IRC.
Vladimir Liubomirov, Commodore, Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg offered up his thoughts on today’s race:
“The team worked really well in the conditions and circumstances. We had a clean start; it was very unfortunate that our mainsail tore. In spite of this, it truly was great sailing out there today. We are looking forward to the offshore race. It is our first time racing in St Tropez and the friendly atmosphere shore side, combined with nice sailing makes this a great event.”
Tomorrow, a fleet of close to 170 yachts will depart on the Giraglia Race, a 242-nautical mile distance race from St Tropez to a turning mark at La Fourmigue, and onward via the Giraglia Rock at the northern tip of Corsica to the finish in the Italian port of Genoa.
Over and above its significance, the Giraglia Rolex Cup is also recognised for exemplifying two important cornerstones in the sport of offshore racing; team spirit and determination. The impressive history of the Giraglia Rolex Cup, uniting two opposing nations after the World War, reinforces its position as a truly international challenge.
As a team sport, yacht-racing crews competing in offshore must work together towards the common goal of completing the race. This shared motivation is a key attribute that must be in place from the very outset to the end of any campaign, from the preparation of the boat and personnel ahead of the start, to the management of equipment and the crew’s well-being during the race. Gazprom sponsored Bronenosec demonstrates too how team spirit even unites people separated by cultural boundaries and national borders, just as the Giraglia Rolex Cup was first dreamt up. Igor Frolov, Executive Director, Saint-Petersburg Yacht Club confirms:
“One of the things that you see in a team sport like sailing is that the sport itself actually transcends any cultural backgrounds the participants might have. We have crew on board from both Italy and Russia… the sailing is so much more important than where they come from. Their nationality is not an issue. Like any great sporting occasion, at the Giraglia Rolex Cup cultural differences are put aside while people play the sport because the sport is more important than anything else.”
As one of the most prestigious yacht clubs in Russia, Saint-Petersburg Yacht Club supported by Gazprom is a prime mover in encouraging team spirit across cultural divides. As the sport of sailing grows in Russia its internationalism penetrates the club and its activities.
The Giraglia Rolex Cup is organised by the Yacht Club Italiano, in conjunction with the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez and the Yacht Club de France.
June 13, 2012
SAINT-TROPEZ: A SAILING PARADISE
Its alluring light has inspired some of the world’s greatest painters from Paul Signac to Henri Matisse, and its association with screen icon Brigitte Bardot attracted the rich and famous to its quintessential Mediterranean setting. Saint-Tropez is a captivating place, a byword for sophistication and glamour. Thanks to its envious access to waters scenic and challenging in equal measure, the town is also synonymous with sailing. After all, any classic postcard view of the world famous Vieux Port juxtaposes the town’s magnificent sun-kissed buildings with an array of masts and sails. Sailing is again in vogue this week with the arrival of nearly two hundred international yachts competing in the Giraglia Rolex Cup - an event that celebrates its 60th edition this year.
Queen of the Mediterranean
Over its fascinating history, the Giraglia Rolex Cup has departed from numerous ports in the French Riviera, including Cannes, Le Lavandou and Toulon, before making Saint-Tropez its permanent home in 1998. That same year Rolex began its association with the event, the second factor which helped a struggling giant to regain its appeal. This is a sensation echoed by Carlo Croce, President of co-organizers Yacht Club Italiano, who remarked: “The Giraglia has known highs and lows, including some difficult years. In 1998 the new event formula including three days of racing in Saint-Tropez before the long race, and above all, the collaboration of Rolex has given a strong push to the event. Since when it has enjoyed a constant growth and returned to become the undisputed Queen of the Mediterranean.”
The most significant part of the week’s sailing is the circa 242-nautical mile offshore race from Saint-Tropez to Sanremo, Italy, a town renowned for its annual music festival. The race was created in 1953, under the scope of establishing an offshore race in the Mediterranean and encouraging Franco-Italian camaraderie following the end of the Second World War. A relatively short but intense offshore challenge now awaits the crews, who must successfully navigate the event’s iconic landmark – the Giraglia rock, located one-nautical mile north of Corsica. Before embarking on the offshore race, the crews have enjoyed their time on the French Riviera sampling the two distinct sides of Saint-Tropez. Pulsating sailing has been offered by three days of boisterous inshore races whilst a window into Tropezienne hospitality was provided during the traditional Rolex crew party, held at the town’s 17th century Citadelle.
A historic yacht club
Saint-Tropez has a proud nautical pedigree and its host of sailing activities are largely organized by the Giraglia Rolex Cup co-organisers, La Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez (SNST), of which André Beaufils is President. After all, the town is a natural setting for sailing. “Saint-Tropez is a fishing port surrounded by water,” commences Beaufils. “We are fortunate to have the port in the town which lends a certain charm, attracting a great number of people from sailors to fans of the sport. The town is perfectly situated to welcome sailing boats.” Something it has done with passion for over 150 years.
The SNST is one of the oldest and most active yacht clubs in the Mediterranean. Indeed, the history of the SNST dates back to April 1866, when the participation of the "Regatta Society" was mentioned in the social programme for the inauguration of the statue of Bailli de Suffren, a famous Tropezian patriot whose monument stands in the port. In 1894 the then President, Martin de Roquebrune, lodged the articles of association for the club at the Saint- Tropez town hall and, in 1899, the newspaper Le Yacht officially announced the creation of the Société Nautique et Sportive de Saint-Tropez.
The SNST and Saint-Tropez enjoy hosting internationally-revered events like the Giraglia Rolex Cup and Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez as part of its impressive portfolio of activities. “The Giraglia Rolex Cup itself is a very fine event,” continues Beaufils, “and it has enjoyed a steady evolution over the last fifteen years, even if the offshore race has essentially remained the same. Such has been the growth in terms of the number of participants, that it would be difficult to accept any more!”
The annual Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, hosted each autumn, is one of the most eye-catching and spectacular regattas in the world, regularly attracting thousands of spectators and in excess of 300 yachts – from intricate, lovingly-maintained classics to modern, carbon-fibre designs. Like other legendary regattas and races, Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, formerly known as La Nioulargue, was born of a challenge between passionate sailors. In 1981, Jean Laurain the owner of the 12-Metre Ikra and American Dick Jason owner of a Swan 44, Pride, agreed to race between Saint-Tropez and the restaurant Club 55 at Pampelonne, using La Nioulargue navigation buoy as a turning mark. Ikra beat Pride and, following the enthusiastic embrace of Patrice de Colmont, the owner of the restaurant, the Club 55 Cup and La Nioulargue regatta were born. From humble beginnings, the event has involved into an international classic, thanks in no small part to the draw of Saint-Tropez.
The historic status of the race and magnetic appeal of Saint-Tropez are a major draw for crews from across the world – both amateur and professional. “Saint Tropez is a big attraction of this event,” explains Sir Peter Ogden, owner of the 62-foot Mini Maxi Jethou (GBR). “It is one of those places: the town, the atmosphere, the way the harbour clears out with all of the boats. It is very pretty. From a sailing perspective, there is a lot of variety and fun.” Ogden and his crew come twice a year without fail: for the Giraglia Rolex Cup and September’s Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. “This is the one event that ALL of the crew want to be at,” remarks Ogden. “Sometimes we have to rotate the crew but nobody wants to miss being here.” A view echoed by Jeremy Pilkington, owner of the Baltic 78 Lupa of London (ITA), competing here for the first time: “Saint-Tropez is a beautiful setting, a lovely town that I’ve known for a while. This is a historic race with some great associations and a fantastic fleet.”
Even for top professional sailors who have been there and done it, the lure of Saint-Tropez is huge. Italian Tommaso Chieffi is one such example, a former America’s Cup competitor who is now tactician on the Swan 60 Bronenosec (RUS). “It is enough to look around. Saint-Tropez is an appointment you cannot miss: the hospitality is brilliant and the great watching public make you feel like part of the community. Equally, the conditions here are testing, especially when, like this week, there is a Mistral…” Conditions that will prove especially testing for amateur sailors such as the crew on board the self-proclaimed ‘slowest boat’ of the Giraglia Rolex Cup fleet – Pietro Supparo’s Halberg-Rassy 41 Gianin 6 (ITA). Supparo reveals: “Coming to Saint-Tropez is always magnificent, the inshore races through the islands provide a perplexing beauty, wonderful scenery and fantastic conditions.”
For French crews in particular, Saint-Tropez has a deep-rooted association with their sailing heritage. Brothers Dominique and Michel Heyraud were surprise winners of the 2011 Giraglia Rolex Cup, navigating their evocatively named 37-ft Foxy Lady (FRA) to victory. Dominique begins: “Saint-Tropez provides a lot of memories from our childhood, and there are two periods of the year when I adore Saint-Tropez: during the Giraglia Rolex Cup and then Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, because during these moments we rediscover an image of the town that reminds me of when I was younger – a port full of sailing boats and sailors rather than modern motor boats.” Michel is attracted by the sailing challenges posed by the Bay of Saint-Tropez. “For me it’s fantastic that the Giraglia starts from Saint-Tropez, it’s one of the most challenging places to sail in all of France.”
Saint-Tropez’s position as one of the world’s great sailing venues is undisputed. Few other places can rival what the town offers: an internationally-admired location, magnificent scenery, challenging waters, backed up by a historic and proactive yacht club and a relationship with so many prestigious and challenging events. The town’s yachting association with Rolex extends back to the mid-1990s and is something greatly appreciated by La Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez with whom Rolex enjoys a close relationship: “It is a pleasure and an honour working with Rolex, a partner that has really well understood the approach: serious on the water, festive on shore,” closes Beaufils.
June 14, 2012
ESIMIT EUROPA 2 SMASHES RACE RECORD
At 03:16.16 CEST this morning, Igor Simčič’s 100-foot Maxi Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) crossed the finish line in Sanremo and claimed line honours at the 2012 Giraglia Rolex Cup, making short work of the circa 242-nautical mile course from Saint-Tropez.
In the process, Esimit Europa 2 smashed the course record, finishing in a time of 14 hours, 56 minutes and 16 seconds. Simčič’s pan-European crew shaved just over three hours off the previous race record set by Neville Crichton’s Alfa Romeo 2 (NZL) in 2008. It is Esimit Europa 2’s third straight line honours win at the Giraglia Rolex Cup.
“Whenever we have come to do the Giraglia Rolex Cup we have always sought to break the race record,” remarked an elated Simčič on arrival. “Just before departure we verified that the race conditions were the same as we had forecast earlier in the week and we knew that there was an opportunity to beat the record. We stuck to our plan.” Once Esimit Europa 2 had rounded the Giraglia rock by 21:05 CEST yesterday evening, it became apparent that a fast time was on the cards.
Esimit Europa 2 has the distinction of breaking the record during a historic year for the event. Simčič continued: “It is clear that it being the 60th edition makes this Giraglia even more special and to beat the record on the anniversary is a great honour. To obtain this result we needed some luck but, above all, good crew work and the right conditions.”
Jochen Schümann – Esimit’s skipper – had forecast a 15-hour race shortly before departure from Saint-Tropez. He was true to his word. “It was not an easy race as we saw a breeze of up to 40 knots so anything could happen and we sailed quite a conservative race,” he admits. “We had a good start, leading at the top mark. We didn’t jibe around the Giraglia rock as it was so windy, so we tacked around just to make sure we didn’t break anything. We drifted in to the finish with only a few knots of wind. Overall, we had fantastic conditions so I think this record will be very hard to beat.”
By 10:30 CEST, another three boats had crossed the finish line in Sanremo. Sir Peter Ogden’s 62-foot Mini Maxi Jethou (GBR) was second to finish the race, narrowly followed by the Volvo Open 70 E1 (AUT). Franck Noel’s impressive TP52 Near Miss (SUI) was the fourth finisher and currently leads on handicap. All three crews finished just 30 minutes outside the previous race record – proof of the opportune conditions for the bigger boats.
Five yachts have officially retired from the race. The conditions that the remainder of the 170-strong fleet face today on arrival into Sanremo will determine the identity of the race’s overall winner.