Wednesday, 25 May 2011
DSK Pioneer Investments, practices off Gaeta. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.
by Anna-Maria Gregorini
On Tuesday, the first ever Rolex Volcano Race, part of Rolex Capri Sailing Week, will start just outside the picturesque medieval town of Gaeta. The fleet, composed entirely of Maxi and Mini Maxi yachts, will start a 400-mile odyssey and witness some of the most stunning scenery in the hauntingly beautiful Tyrrhenian Sea.
Crews will race past the Pontine Islands, before turning east to round Capri, for the first time, on this new offshore race. The yachts will then head south, to the Aeolian Islands, a volcanic archipelago just north of Sicily, before heading north to finish the race in Capri, the small and unique island that overlooks the blue water of the Mediterranean, with Naples and Vesuvius looming in the distance.
This dramatic new race is called The Rolex Volcano Race for good reason. Stromboli and Vulcano are both marks of the course and are both active volcanoes; their mesmeric beauty is honoured by UNESCO, who has listed both of these awe-inspiring islands as World Heritage sites. Stromboli in particular, is well known to participants of the Rolex Middle Sea Race and many have witnessed its explosive power, as flames of blazing orange shoot skyward.
Today, a skipper’s briefing was held at the Yacht Club Gaeta. Claus-Peter Offen, President of the International Maxi Association was delighted to welcome the competing yachts to the first ever Rolex Volcano Race. “It is a spectacular race course and a route that I have taken myself, whilst cruising, sadly I am not able to join the race but I am deeply envious of the boats that are competing. The association decided to put forward this race because it is a wonderful place to sail with superb scenery and we are delighted that so many powerful and prestigious yachts are taking part in the first race.”
A weather briefing by Colonel Filippo Petrucci followed the Skipper’s Briefing. Petrucci is an expert meteorologist who knows the Tyrrhenian Sea extremely well. He predicted a light airs start to the race. “It is likely that the fleet will experience a light thermal wind at the start from the west, as the yachts go offshore, there should be a gradient breeze developing from the north, which should be around 8-10 knots. Depending on the course the yachts take, they may well experience this gradient wind offshore for the best part of the following day but if they choose to go inshore there may be more thermal effect from the west.
America’s Cup stalwart, Chris Main will be sailing on Andres Soriano’s Mills 68, Alegre. “It looks like a light airs race but our weather homework suggests that we should have enough breeze to keep up a relatively good speed. Probably offshore at night and inshore during the day could be our overall strategy. There are plenty of potential parking spots and we will have to be very careful to avoid them.”
Tonight all of the owners and crew participating in the Rolex Volcano Race are invited to a welcome party, hosted by Rolex and the International Maxi Association. Aeneas’ Landing is located in a beautiful cove on the Tyrrhenian Sea and surrounded by a golden sand beach, it is an exclusive, luxurious resort village, which is an ideal location to host the participants in the first ever Rolex Volcano Race.
The Rolex Volcano Race opening ceremony will take place tomorrow in the historic Lungomare Caboto in the medieval quarter of old Gaeta. The warning signal for the inaugural Rolex Volcano Race will sound at 3 p.m.
The Rolex Capri Sailing Week is organised by the Yacht Club Capri in conjunction with the International Maxi Association and the Yacht Club Gaeta for the Rolex Volcano Race.
Rolex Volcano Race