One of the world’s most spectacular offshore yacht races sets sail on Wednesday, 20th May with the International Maxi Yacht Association’s Volcano Race, organised in collaboration with the Yacht Club Gaeta EVS and Base Nautica Flavio Gioia.
The secret of the event lies in its name – the race takes competitors on a loop, starting and finishing in the Italian port of Gaeta (mid-way between Rome and Naples), south across the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Aeolian Islands, the volcanic archipelago lying off the northeast coast of Sicily. Among these islands is Stromboli, one of only two continuously active volcanoes in Europe (the other being nearby Mount Etna). The Volcano Race’s course leaves Stromboli and its tiny neighbour, Strombolicchio, to starboard, before circumnavigating the Aeolian Islands, including the islands of Vulcano and Alicudi and then returning north to Gaeta, leaving Capri to port. The total distance for the course is 398 miles.
Nine Maxis are entered in the Volcano Race, ranging in size from the 100ft maxi Esimit Europa 2 to several 60 footers such as the Hungarian canting keeler, Wild Joe, and the Wally 60, Good Job Guys.
Also returning is the Italian classic Swan 65, Shirlaf, which last year won the Trofeo Challenge Gianfranco Alberini, in memory of the late Secretary General of the IMA, Gianfranco Alberini. The trophy is set to be awarded again this year for any crew demonstrating exceptional sportsmanship.
The longest and fastest boat in the race, and sure fire favourite for line honours, is Esimit Europa 2. Whether the European-flagged maxi can claim the overall handicap prize under IRC will depend on the skill of her international crew and whether the wind Gods smile upon her. Last year, the royal blue giant lost the race after she was becalmed within sight of the finish line.
Owner of Esimit Europa 2, Igor Simčič, looks forward to this year’s race: “We are opening the racing season of Esimit Europa 2 with this picturesque, but demanding race around a volcanic archipelago again this year, after we finished first in the previous edition.
“For us, this is a very special year because it marks the 20th anniversary of our project, which we will celebrate on 29th August in Monte Carlo, at our home yacht club, Yacht Club de Monaco.
“We are looking forward to good competition in this race and I can promise that our yacht and our team will put in our best performance.”
The two longest standing competitors in the Volcano Race are IMA members, Hungarian Marton Jozsa with his Reichel-Pugh designed canting keeler, Wild Joe, and Enrico Gorziglia’s Wally 60, Good Job Guys. Both have competed in every edition of the race since it was first held in 2011.
Marton Jozsa comments: “I’m happy to be here and race for the fifth time in the Volcano Race. This is our first event in 2015, which we’ll follow with the Giraglia in June, and then the ‘Thousand Islands Race’ in Croatia in September. We are happy to be in Gaeta again, because we have always had a great time here. This time our crew is entirely from Hungary except for one guy who is from South Africa.”
A special entry in the race this year is that of the President of the Volcano Race’s host club, Yacht Club Gaeta. Vincenzo Addessi is competing aboard his new Mylius 60, Fra Diavolo, competing in her first international race. “When the IMA first proposed to have a long offshore race starting and finishing in Gaeta, it was the winter of 2010 and we at the Yacht Club Gaeta were immediately enthusiastic with it,” Addessi explains. “Gaeta is a small city with a great cultural and historical background, and with a long sailing tradition too. We are happy to welcome the Volcano Race fleet here again.”
International Maxi Association Secretary General Andrew McIrvine explains why the Volcano Race is important in the IMA calendar: “We realise that a lot of maxi owners like day racing, but a healthy number of our members like distance racing too, so, as an organisation, the IMA is keen to promote both offshore and inshore racing. There aren’t many distance races in the Mediterranean other than the Giraglia Rolex Cup and Rolex Middle Sea races.” Last year the IMA also introduced an annual Transatlantic Race, which this year starts from Lanzarote on 28th November.
The IMA 2015 Volcano Race sets sail on Wednesday 20th May with a first warning signal at 1300 local time. After a light opening day, on Thursday morning, a 15-20 knot NNWerly is forecast to fill in, dropping and backing into the northwest by Thursday night and into the west over Friday. This year there appears to be wind all the way to the finish.
ALMABRADA ITA 1260 1.3 Felci 61 Alessandro Pacchiani YC Punta Ala
ESIMIT EUROPA 2 SLO 1001 1.841 RP 100 Igor Simcic YC Monaco
FRA DIAVOLO ITA 17017 1.329 Mylius 60 Vincenzo Addessi YC Gaeta EVS
GOOD JOB GUYS ITA 18000 1.319 Wally 60 Enrico Gorziglia YC Italiano
GRANDE ORAZIO ITA 19914 1.4 SWS 82 Massimiliano Florio YC Costa Smeralda
B.V. GRIFONE FIAMME GIALLE ITA 17042 1.433 Rivolta 90 Guardia di Finanza Gaeta
OZ NED 8501 Open 60 E. W. Tail Wind b.v. Royal Netherlands YC
SHIRLAF ITA 13973 1.102 Swan 65 Giuseppe Puttini Marina di Cassano
WILD JOE HUN 7002 1.496 RP 60 Marton Jozsa
– Maxi Assoc. Media