The Giraglia Rolex Cup fleet were greeted this morning by the sound of cannons firing and fife and drum marchers celebrating “La Bravade of Saint-Tropez”, one of oldest traditions of Provence, which celebrates the bravery (“bravade”) of the village's patron saint.
Once the smoke literally cleared from the armaments fired, the fleet was underway out to the Bay of St. Tropez for another perfect summer's day. The breeze filled in a bit more offshore than yesterday, but at 8-10 knots, it was still generally light and tactically challenging – for if you hadn't staked a claim at the head of the fleet on the first windward leg, there were not many passing lanes to be had after.
The Mini-Maxi division (boats measuring 60 – 79 feet) features several recent launches, one of which could technically include Bella Mente (USA). The Reichel/Pugh 69 went through extensive modifications last winter and has been performing well since. Bella Mente added to its' 2nd place finish yesterday with a win today.
Owner/skipper Hap Fauth, of Newport, RI, seemed to enjoy his first regatta in St Tropez, “This is our first season with Bella Mente here in the Med. So we feel like the senior rookies. We have a lot of miles, it's a great group of guys and it's a lot of fun. After we rebuilt the boat, it's like a boat and a half. It's performing the way we had originally intended it to be – very quick in these flat conditions in the 8-10 knot range. We're happy to be competitive, that was our objective; and if we can sneak in a couple of races, right in our sweet spot sort of 8-12 knots, we're really happy.
As to the “senior rookies” Fauth was referring to, it is more like an all-star team, with more than a few former America's Cup sailors onboard. About today's race, Fauth continued, “We had good boat speed, we were off the line first for a great start, first shift we're over the fleet and then it's basically keep everyone under control up to the windward leg. Ran was very close to us and we stepped out from Container. It was a two-boat race the whole time, and we had really good boat speed.”
Another Mini-Maxi back in the hunt was Udo Schuetz' STP65 Container (GER), which finished 2nd today and is lying 3rd overall. Schuetz, who won the Admiral's Cup over 15 years ago, decided to re-enter the yachting world and built the new Container, launched last fall. Marcus Wieser is helming, and Karol Jablonski is calling tactics. Wieser said, “Our team is a bit mixed; we don't have a full professional team, the owner also wants to have amateurs so we have mixed it around a bit. It out works very well because the culture onboard with amateur sailors is fun and that's very important.”
Wieser added, “It's not easy sailing, you have to do a good start, and come to the right side. When the sea breeze fills in, you always have to go out to the right side, because the right side is paying off a lot. If you're forced to the left, you are losing and losing. We got a free line on the right side and we were with Ran, Alegre and Bella Mente – all these boats are faster than us in any condition – because they are a little bit longer than our boat and if they are in front, we can't catch them. If we're in front of Alegre or Belle Mente we can control them, because we can slow them down, but if they're ahead we can't.”
In the ten-boat Swan 45 class it was Earlybird who nipped out Fever to take 1st place today by 45 seconds in a tightly contested fleet. In the Swan 42 class, Enrico Scerni's Kora 4 was first. Scerni was the overall winner in IRC A division in the 2008 Rolex Giraglia Cup.
Also in IRC A, the Farr 53 QQ7, sails with Italian skipper Cristiana Monina and her crew of 12 women and four men. Yesterday QQ7 finished 2nd in their class, though today they were down in the fleet. Monina, an accomplished sailor was enthusiastic despite the disappointing day, “Today we didn't have a very good race because I made a mistake at the start. We started very late because the maxi boats just ahead took the breeze and I didn't realize quickly enough that it was better to start a little earlier. We did very well upwind, gained a lot of boats. Tomorrow we will see what will happens!” Joining the team for tomorrow's final inshore race and for the Giraglia Rolex distance race, will be Giulia Conti, fresh off of winning the 470 women's European championship last week.
Inshore racing at the Giraglia Rolex Cup continues tomorrow. 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.
Further information on the Giraglia Rolex Cup, including full race results can on the can be found at the Yacht Club Italiano's website at www.yci.it