If patience is a virtue, then the 190-boat Giraglia fleet had it in spades early this morning as the boats seemingly crept towards La Giraglia rock and the turn towards the finish in Genoa, 90 miles away.
After Wednesday's start of the 243-nautical mile race in St Tropez, the breeze slowly built and once the fleet rounded La Fourmigue to head for La Giraglia a northeasterly of 8 – 10 knots settled in, and backed enough to let the boats enjoy a close reach on the rhumbline to the rock. Through Wednesday night the fleet made slow but steady progress, but just before sunrise, the wind died out.
Near the front of the fleet, Bella Mente navigator Robert Hopkins emailed, “As of 0500, we have been becalmed for an hour. Container has coasted to a stop to our north and Alegre appears to be less than a .5 mile behind us. We still have 21.9 mi to go to the rock. At this rate, assuming our current boat speed of 0.2 knots, it will take 100 hours or a little more than 4 days to get there. Hope the wind fills in before then.” An hour later he added, “At 0600, we're ghosting along under our windseeker. Boatspeed 4.3 kts, windspeed 3.7 kts. The sea is like a mirror.”
Finally, at 1015 local time, the Open 60 Group Bel (FRA), with skipper Kito de Pavant rounded La Giraglia first, followed Andres Soriano's Mills 68 Alegre (GBR) – the first of the Mini Maxis – then Hap Fauth's Bella Mente (USA). Then came a slow, but steady parade and by 1215, 32 boats had rounded.
With the breeze so light, the fleet is fairly compacted which gives the smaller boats have an excellent chance to do well on corrected time. In fact, the TP52 Paprec (FRA) rounded only 22 minutes after Group Bel, and the first Swan 45, Fever (GBR), rounded only seven minutes later.
By 1330, Bella Mente was only 11 miles down the track from La Giraglia, and Hopkins offered, “We're parked again. The weak NE'ly that carried us this far has died. In theory, it will be replaced by a WSW in a couple of hours, which will build to as much as 8 kts and back to the SSW, but that too will die with the sun, leaving us parked outside of Genoa once again. Three parking lots in one regatta! ETA is 45 minutes after midnight, but honestly, who can say? Sailboats need wind.”
With the current weather conditions, an estimated finish is still anyone's guess. Steve Hayles, navigator on Ran emailed midday to say, “Very light and variable forecast. Probably less than 5 knots most of the time. ETA will be very difficult to get anywhere near right. Probably around day break tomorrow (Friday). It's a small boat race so far and the little guys will be close behind us.”
The elapsed time race record of 18 hours, 3 minutes, 15 seconds set in 2008 by Neville Crichton on Alfa Romeo, the 100-foot (30.4m) super-maxi, remains safe for another year.
By 1630, 64 yachts had rounded the La Giraglia rock. The finish line for the Giraglia distance race is just off Sturla in Genoa. The fleet will dock at the Yacht Club Italiano.
The prizegiving will take place on Saturday, June 20th at the Yacht Club Italiano. The Challenge Rolex Trophy and the Challenge Bellon Trophy will be awarded to the yacht best scored overall in Corrected Time, (in the most numerous group between IRC and ORC/ORC Club).
Rolex Yacht-Master timepieces in steel and platinum will be awarded to overall winner in elapsed time; the overall winner in IRC corrected time; and the overall winner in ORC corrected time. Also a Rolex Submariner timepiece will be awarded to the winner of the combined scoring for the Inshore Racing and Distance Race (in the biggest class).
The YCI, formerly the RYCI, is the oldest yacht club in the Mediterranean. Established in Genoa in 1879, it has always had as its main objectives the promotion of yachting, the organisation of races and cruises both nationally and internationally, and most importantly the initiation of youth to the sport. Inaugurated in 1929, the present clubhouse in Genoa was partially destroyed during the Second World War. It was reopened in 1953, in the same year that the first Giraglia was held. Today the yacht club has 1,200 members and there are nearly 300 yachts that carry the club's colours.
Information on the Giraglia Rolex Cup, including full race results from the inshore racing can be found at the Yacht Club Italiano's website at Italiano www.yci.it.