Sunday, 20 June 2010
ESIMIT EUROPA 2, witnesses a breathtaking sunset in the surroundings of the Giraglia Rock. Image copyright ROLEX/Kurt Arrigo.
by Anna Maria Gregorini
The last boat to finish the offshore race of the 58th Giraglia Rolex Cup, organized by the Yacht Club Italiano, crossed the line at 20.40CEST last night after some 56 hours at sea. By no means an endurance record in this historic contest, in 1976 it took the first boat 68 hours to complete the course. At 36-feet, Ivo Olivero’s Viva Corte (ITA) is half the length of Neville Crichton’s Shockwave (NZL). Whilst Crichton deservedly will take the plaudits for overall victory and for a job extremely well done, it is yachts like Viva Corte that made up the bulk of the record 220 yacht fleet that set off on the 241 nautical mile route from Saint-Tropez to San Remo, via the rock from which the event take its name. The achievements of Olivero and his crew, and those like them, were celebrated just as strongly as the achievements of the trophy winners at the prize giving held today at the Yacht Club San Remo.
At the Giraglia Rolex Cup the long distance race is the prize every competitor dreams of winning. It has the full 57 years of history behind it and has been won by many of the most famous yachts of the past half-century. For Neville Crichton victory completes the trifecta for this event. He has won line honours five times, broken the course record twice and now won overall. There are few records to match his, “we’ve won line honours in the past, and although we would have liked to win that too we knew it was impossible. If the 100-footer (Esimit) finished the race she would win line honours. It was nice to win overall, since that is what we set out to do, it was our target and it is what we have achieved.”
SHOCKWAVE, Neville Crichton. Image copyright ROLEX/Kurt Arrigo.
Crichton’s rewards for his efforts were a Rolex Submariner chronometer in Rolesor and the Trofeo Rolex Challenge, presented by Gian Riccardo Marini of Rolex Italy.
Crichton who has raced all over the world thanked the organizing yacht clubs involved for their efforts across the whole event especially given the, at times, difficult conditions. Asked whether he would be back, Crichton replied, “I’d love to be back. I like the regatta, I like sailing with the Italians and it’s good fun, absolutely.” He would not be drawn on what boat he would enter on his next participation, but certainly given his significant part in the event over recent years his presence will always be welcomed.
Igor Simcic, owner of ESIMIT EUROPA 2, receives a Rolex timepice from Gian Paolo Marini, Rolex Italy. Image copyright ROLEX/Kurt Arrigo.
Unlike Crichton, Igor Simcic is a newcomer to the race. Not total, since his uncle was the skipper of Helisara the line honours winner in 1981, and, in 2008 Simcic’s Vallicelli 60, Esimit Europa I came second on the water to Crichton’s former yacht Alfa Romeo II. Crichton set the course record that year, and, while Simcic was not participating personally, the faster yacht clearly made an impact on him, “we felt we had done very well with our old boat, but Alfa Romeo II is something special and with such an important project for Europe we decided to go for her.” And so the change of ownership that has seen Alfa become Esimit Europa 2 (EUR), the standard bearer in yachting for the European Commission.
Ahead of this year’s race, conditions suggested a record might have been on the table for the canting-keeled Esimit. As it was, the Giraglia Rolex Cup never follows quite what is forecast. It was a relieved Simcic that crossed the line in first place on Thursday. After an awkward start, even the second half of the race had proved a nervy time as the wind threw curve ball after curve ball at the 30.5 metre racing maxi and the chasing pack, which included Shockwave, threatened to catch her. “We are happy to be first [over the line], because it was not so easy at the beginning. We had some technical problems, but we resolved these and in the end it was perfect,” said Simcic on arriving in San Remo.
Simcic won a bucketful of prizes over the course of the week, including the Trofeo Beppe Croce for being first to the Giraglia rock. The most valued for Simcic are certainly the Rolex Yacht-Master chronometer and Trofeo Levainville awarded for line honours and presented by Gian Paolo Marini of Rolex Italy. Undoubtedly Simcic and his team will be back and stronger for this year’s experience.
Owner of NEAR MISS (middle) receives a Rolex timepiece from Lionel Schurch, Rolex SA. Image copyright ROLEX/Kurt Arrigo.
The third major set of trophies of the day was awarded for the best result over both the inshore series and offshore race in the 2010 Giraglia Rolex Cup. Frank Noel, owner of Near Miss (SUI), was the recipient of the Trofeo Nucci Novi and a Rolex Submariner chronometer in steel, presented by Lionel Schurch of Rolex Geneva. Noel was candid in explaining his achievement, “first we have a very good team. Second, in the inshore races it was important to get very good starts because we have a very bad handicap and it is difficult to do well if you are not ready! For the offshore race we had a very good start again. The very long downwind leg favoured my boat. We were making 16/17 knots and keeping up with the maxi boats. Even after the rock when it was upwind we worked hard to stay with the leaders.” Noel’s achievement in the offshore race should not be underestimated. Near Miss was one of only two sub-50 footers to complete the course before the race entered its third day.
A nice touch at the beginning of the prize giving was the introduction of Luciano Fratini. In 2007 Fratini came across the yacht Jalina, left rotting in the Elba islands. Jalina just happens to be the overall winner of the first two editions of the Giraglia race in 1953 and 1954. Fratini has spent the past three years restoring Jalina to her former glory and plans to compete with her in 2011 Giraglia Rolex Cup.
Neville Crichton, owner of SHOCKWAVE, overall winner and Igor Simcic, owner of ESIMIT EUROPA 2, line honours winner. Image copyright ROLEX/Kurt Arrigo.
Coincidentally, earlier this year Rolex and the Yacht Club Italiano had been fortunate enough to locate and acquire the original cup awarded for the first ever Giraglia, a trophy that had been missing for many years. In a short ceremony Jalina and the historic trophy were reunited to the loud appreciation of the audience.
The dates for the 59th Giraglia Rolex Cup are scheduled for Saturday, 18 June to Saturday, 25 June 2011.
Giraglia Rolex Cup