Itacentodue defends Rolex Giraglia offshore maxi class titleGenoa, 18 June 2022
Light fickle breeze for this year s Rolex Giraglia, fifth of seven events in the International Maxi Association s 2021-22 Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge, turned the race at times into a giant game of snakes and ladders for the 20 maxis. 141 yachts in total set sail on the race from Saint-Tropez on Wednesday June 15 bound for Genoa via the Giraglia rock off northern Corsica. During the race many would have their moment of glory, finding breeze or a good shift, only to fall into a hole and for others behind to sail around them. However, for a second year running, making the best of the available conditions was Adriano Calvini’s Felci 61 Itacentodue, effectively the club boat of the Genoa-based Yacht Club Italiano.
Itacentodue was 13th boat to finish into her homeport, crossing the line at 05:41:24 on Friday, her race time strong enough to leave her winning the maxi class and coming second overall in the entire IRC fleet (compared to her ninth in 2021). Under IRC, her time corrected out to 2 hours 10 minutes behind ultimate winner Giovanni di Vincenzo's Ker 46 Lisa R.
Remarkably while last year Itacentodue’s offshore sailing academy crew from the YCI were supported on board by accomplished pros America’s Cup and Olympic legend Tommaso Chieffi and Ambrogio Beccaria, Series class winner of the 2019 Mini Transat, the famous transatlantic race’s first ever Italian victor, this year there were no pro sailors in the crew. However on board was Adriano Calvini’s 28-year-old grandson Giovanni Chiappano, who has raced on the good looking Italian design many times over the years.
“We knew it was going to be long,” explained Chiappano of the race. “We like a bit more wind and also prefer downwind, so everything was against us, but our strategy paid off. We went ‘straight’ the whole time mainly because we thought the wind would be best that way and if there was no wind it would be best to go the shortest way.”
They had managed to get to Giraglia in constant wind which never exceeded 10 knots and discounted edging closer to the Corsican coast in search of more breeze as being too risky. “Giraglia to here [Genoa] was the longest part because we saw a lot of holes,” Chiappano continued. “We changed the sails maybe 30 times from the Code 0 to the gennaker and back. It was tough, but the crew was great.” They came to a halt off Portofino before the Tramontana filled in, at last propelling them home to the Genoa finish. “It feels good to be here. It was long, but we all had fun. We expected it to be worse,” concluded Chiappano.
Many of Itacentodue’s usual youth crew were not on board this year due to university exams, but according to Chiappano almost all of the race crew had sailed on board before, with the afterguard roles filled by Itacentodue regular Mario Rabo on strategy, Manuel Polo navigating and Roberto Martinez as main helmsman. “It wasn’t our most usual crew but everyone fitted in perfectly.”
Second maxi overall under IRC (and an impressive sixth overall) was International Maxi Association President Benoît de Froidmont’s Wally 60 Wallyño, which finished at 07:01:47 on Friday. “That was long!” said a relieved de Froidmont after coming ashore at the Yacht Club Italiano. “At the end, we were a mile away from Itacentodue, but then they finished more than an hour ahead of us. But that is ‘typical’ of the Giraglia. We did more gybes over the last two hours than the whole rest of the race.”
Wallyño tactician Gérald Veniard said they had got off to a strong start but towards the end of the first leg to Giraglia they should have cracked sheets some more in order to use the spinnaker. “We lost contact with a few good boats, which I wasn’t happy about. Then the second half of the race, from Giraglia, we had lost contact with boats like Itacentodue, but we had the opportunity to go east; to do something different than the rest of the fleet. We still had wind to go there and could see that they [Itacentodue] would be slow for the rest of that leg.”
Ultimately the easterly strategy that paid so well for Magic Carpet Cubed a few hours earlier didn’t pay on the approach to the finish. “What is frustrating is that we could have made a big come back but it depends on the time of day and luck,” continued Veniard. “When you win you have to stay modest and when you lose you can’t be too hard on yourself…”
Canting keels add substantially to a yacht’s rating and wisdom has it that they are typically not good in light winds. Yet defying this in the most surprising way in this Rolex Giraglia was Guido Paolo Gamucci’s canting keel Mylius 60 Cippa Lippa X, which finished was third maxi overall under IRC and eighth in the full IRC fleet.
Cippa Lippa X’s tactician - and walking, slightly sunburned zombie due to lack of sleep when he came ashore in Genoa - was Italian former America’s Cup helmsman Paolo Cian. “It was long and very hot! It was two races, one to Giraglia and then there was a big stop and all the fleet got back together after the rock. Maybe that was the place where the decision of the race was made, because there was a line of breeze and the whole fleet was positioned along this line and I think the part of the fleet that was left – that wasn’t the right choice. We were further east where we got a better rotation of the wind. In the end there were two fleets converging, one with kites and others (like us) with the Code 0.” This was the same story that won Magic Carpet Cubed the line honours race against ARCA SGR.
Cian advised that they had been constantly adjusting the cant of their keel, along with the balance and trim of Cippa Lippa X to maintain optimum heel and angle and performance constantly. But this attention came at the expense of sleep…
Hotly tipped, as ever, was Alessandro Del Bono’s 79ft IMS maxi Capricorno. Del Bono and his highly experienced crew didn't disappoint, finishing fourth in the Maxi class immediately ahead of Luciano Gandini's Mylius 80 Twin Soul B, line honours winner Magic Carpet Cubed and Andreas Verder and Arco Van Nieuwland's Marten 72 Aragon.
Del Bono believed that under IRC Capricorno had led into the Giraglia rock and then had set up to the west for the next leg north to Genoa. Del Bono explained: “We thought there was more wind there and we weren’t so far away from the others. 20 miles away from here due to the lack of wind all the boats caught us up. We saw them coming - it was really annoying! When you are on board [in that], there is nothing to do. The boat is stuck in the middle of the sea - so we went to sleep! We are happy because the inshore races in Saint-Tropez went very, very well.”
Rolex Giraglia is not all about the racing. While a giant gaff schooner wasn’t the ideal vessel for this year’s light wind race, the crew of the Herreshoff-designed 109ft long Mariette of 1915 nonetheless enjoyed its other distractions. As Vendée Globe skipper Miranda Merron reported from on board: “The advantage of no wind for much of the day was the wildlife fest - whales, dolphins, turtles, sunfish, mahi-mahi, tuna, bonito…”
At the prizegiving at the Yacht Club Italiano today, Wallyño received the trophy for the Best placed IMA Member in the Giraglia Offshore Race.
by James Boyd / International Maxi Association