Monte-Carlo, 15 June 2019 – The illustrious reputation of the Rolex Giraglia has been sculpted by the passion and persistent pursuit of excellence of those who take part together with the dedication and purposeful collaboration of the event’s established partners. The 2019 edition, the 67th uninterrupted annual running since 1953, provided a resounding demonstration of why the event has endured. Rolex, a supporter of yachting since the 1950s, has been a close and committed partner of the event since 1998.
A total of 297 international yachts, and nearly 3,000 sailors, took part across the weeklong competition. Sporting highlights included the three days of inshore racing off Saint-Tropez and the 241 nautical mile offshore race to Monaco. Very few sailing events command such large participation nor comprise such a diverse programme, uniting intense competition, majestic locations and convivial social events. Rolex’s longstanding relationship with the sport includes enduring partnerships with individuals and organizations who set the highest standards. The organizers of the Rolex Giraglia – the Yacht Club Italiano and the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez – together with hosts of the 2019 finish, the Yacht Club de Monaco, fit emphatically within this criterion.
The offshore component at the Rolex Giraglia is the single most important element. Its history stretching back to the origins of the event. This year’s will be remembered for a number of significant moments on and off the water. For a second time the offshore race finished in Monaco, with crews hosted at the Yacht Club de Monaco’s resplendent clubhouse. George David’s American maxi Rambler, on her first appearance, claimed line honours, a little over an hour outside of the race record. Overall victory on corrected time, the most coveted prize, was won for a first time by Alex Schaerer’s Maxi 72 Caol Ila R. For both these teams, success was propelled by relentless drive in their preparation and throughout the race.
Chasing the record
The race record at the Rolex Giraglia is notoriously hard to break. Conditions in the Mediterranean in June are capricious. The current benchmark was set in 2012 by Esimit Europa 2 in a pulsating time of 14 hours, 56 minutes. Until this year, no yacht had come within nine hours of this time. The forecast ahead of the race provided the leading contenders with an opportunity to dream; in particular, Rambler and Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s Magic Carpet Cubed, two contrasting expressions of a maxi yacht.
For David and his crew on the all-conquering, 26.8m (88-foot), pure racer, this was an opportunity to add the Rolex Giraglia to line honours successes at the Rolex Fastnet Race and Rolex Middle Sea Race. David and his crew arrived with one objective. Finish first.
Owen-Jones and his 30.5m (100-ft) Wallycento Magic Carpet Cubed, a yacht designed to race and cruise with a longer waterline, a sophisticated and complex interior and much heavier displacement, had one distinct advantage: greater event experience. Magic Carpet Cubed had won line honours in 2016, a year after claiming overall victory. “This year we are very much the underdog and happy to be that for once,” admitted Owen-Jones before the race.
While David was hoping for robust Mistral conditions, which would suit his yacht, the winter had been spent making modifications that had reduced Rambler’s displacement by one and a half tonnes with the objective of making her more competitive in lighter air. “You can always make something in life better,” reflected David on the latest innovations. “There is an appeal in continuing evolution and in improvement and refinement. It is a good philosophy with which to approach ocean racing.” It is the same philosophy applied by Rolex to the art of watch-making.
The race start off Saint-Tropez, played out under blue skies and good breeze, was one of the most spectacular in recent years. The 243-strong fleet converging after the staggered start with the larger, professionally-crewed yachts catching and passing smaller Corinthian entrants at the entrance to the Gulf of Saint-Tropez.
Rambler soon exercised control and her lead on the water was rarely threatened. David’s rivals main wish was that a fast downwind leg to the Giraglia rock would be followed by greater complexity. “Our hope was that on our way to Monaco there would be a lot of uncertainty, that the wind would drop and it would become very tactical,” admitted Owen-Jones. “However, it was a slog back, not dead upwind. We do well beating, which would have equalised the chances. Fetching is what they do best.” Magic Carpet Cubed eventually finished second, some 35 minutes behind Rambler.
Conditions seemingly in her favour, Rambler focused on the race record. An objective that appeared in her grasp until the wind abated on the approach to the finish. “People say this is usually a slow race. That wasn’t the case this year,” explained David. “We had a wonderful ride until ten miles from the finish when the breeze shut down. We thought the record was close. But that’s sailboat racing.”
Third to finish on the water, Caol Ila R is always a highly-competitive Rolex Giraglia entrant. She has come close to victory before, placing third overall in the last two editions of the offshore race. Finishing just 59 minutes behind the race leader she became the yacht to beat on corrected time. As the wind became increasingly fickle for the smaller boats, no competitor was able to sustain a successful challenge.
Following Momo’s achievement in 2018, this is the second year running a Maxi 72 has won the race. A fulfilment of a longstanding ambition for Alex Schaerer. “The race brings back memories from when I competed in my youth, when I wasn’t in contention to win and watched and admired the racing boats. Now, to win with such a beautiful boat of my own is a great feeling. I am very proud of my crew.”
Drawn by the event’s ever-increasing reputation, a number of competitors, both professional and Corinthian, were participating for the first time. All took home memories that reflected well upon the character of the ‘old lady of the Mediterranean’ as the race is sometimes known. Thibault de Possesse, a French naval captain, skippered Le Lupin: “We wanted to do the race because it is a really good sporting challenge, one of the best races in the Mediterranean. The organisation has been great and we will be back again!”
The Brazilian sailor, Torben Grael, sailing on Vanessa and who has won most of sailing’s top prizes, was quick to identify the strength and accuracy of the event’s reputation. “It is my first time here,” he remarked. “With it being a Rolex event, we knew it would be special, well organised and the offshore race would be challenging.”
“This was the first time for us, and it was a very good experience,” confirmed Belgian sailor Cedric Werbrouck of Coup de Tete 6. “The race was very tactical, interesting and there was a lot of fair play. Rounding the Giraglia rock at sunrise was a highlight. We felt the emotion of being at sea and were reminded about the close relationship with nature.”
For the crews competing at the 2019 Rolex Giraglia, this was one of the hardest and fastest editions in recent memory. Maintaining optimum boat speed, concentration and focus made the race intense whatever the size or speed of the yachts. The dedication and ambition shown by all crews ensures the event will continue to inspire future generations of sailors.
At the final prizegiving held at the Yacht Club de Monaco, the feats of both the winners and all those who simply completed the race were recognised. Many, if not most, will be back next year, drawn once again by the event’s enduring appeal.
A NATURAL AND SUPPORTIVE PARTNER
Rolex has always sought to associate with activities that are motivated by passion, excellence, precision and team spirit. Rolex naturally gravitated towards the elite world of yachting, forming an alliance that dates back to the late 1950s. Today, Rolex is Title Sponsor of 15 major international events; from leading offshore races, such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rolex Middle Sea Race and the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, through to the highest-level grand prix competition at the Rolex TP52 World Championship and spectacular gatherings at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup. The Swiss watchmaker’s close relationships with the most prestigious yacht clubs around the world, including the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Yacht Club Italiano, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (Italy), New York Yacht Club (United States), and the Royal Yacht Squadron (Cowes, United Kingdom) are the foundation of Rolex’s enduring relationship with the pinnacle of this spectacular sport.
AN UNRIVALLED REPUTATION FOR QUALITY AND EXPERTISE
Rolex, a Swiss watch manufacture headquartered in Geneva, is recognized the world over for its expertise and the quality of its products. Its Oyster Perpetual and Cellini watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. The word “Perpetual” is inscribed on every Rolex Oyster. But more than just a word on a dial, it is a philosophy that embodies the company’s vision and values. Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of the company, instilled a notion of perpetual excellence that would drive the company forward. This led Rolex to pioneer the development of the wristwatch and numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism, invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 500 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Furthermore, Rolex is actively involved in supporting the arts and culture, sport and exploration, as well as those who are devising solutions to preserve the planet.
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