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A timeless classic

The Giraglia Rolex Cup, a competition that has run annually since 1953, returns from 14-22 June 2013. The weeklong event organized by the Yacht Club Italiano in conjunction with the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, has long captured the imagination of the Mediterranean sailing community, and has experienced a marked revival since Rolex’s emergence as title sponsor in 1998. This year’s proceedings commence with a prologue race from Sanremo to Saint-Tropez on Friday 14 June. The three days of inshore racing in and around the Gulf of Saint-Tropez that follow are an opportunity for the fleet to sharpen teamwork and tactics – with the town’s famous and eye-catching Vieux Port as a backdrop – ahead of the offshore race beginning on Wednesday 19 June.

Although a distinctly Franco-Italian event – the 243-nautical mile distance race runs from Saint Tropez to Genoa, via the Giraglia rock off the northern tip of Corsica – the 200 plus fleet regularly features scores of international yachts and comprises both fully professional and Corinthian crews.

With race record holder Esimit Europa 2 not competing, an open field is expected for the battle to be first home in 2013. Among the likely pacesetters are three Mini Maxis who have shown impressive results recently: Sir Peter Ogden’s 62-ft Jethou (GBR), overall winner at the 2012 Rolex Volcano Race; Hap Fauth’s 72-ft Bella Mente (USA), current Mini Maxi Rolex World Champion; and the 72-ft Shockwave (USA), owned by George Sakellaris, Giraglia Rolex Cup winner in 2010 under former owner Neville Crichton.

Last year’s overall race winner – determined by the rating system applied to the fleet – hailed from Switzerland, in the shape of Franck Noel’s TP52 Near Miss. In a democratic race with every yacht capable of victory, the crews’ ability to cope with the prevailing conditions during a contest that is often characterized by two distinct stages – the legs to and from the Giraglia rock – is decisive.

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