Opinion: “Nice Giraglia. With the Maxis it would have been even better.”

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giraffe
Black Jack, one of the few Maxi yachts that participated in Giraglia 2024: risked setting a new race record

Fresh from Loro Piana Giraglia (here are the rankings of the “long” IRC, here the chronicle of the regatta), our philosopher/velist Marco Cohen*, who participated (retiring) with his Mat 12 Dajenu, just arrived at the dock in Genoa and wrote his impressions of edition number 71 of the great offshore classic of the Mediterranean (241 miles from Saint Tropez to Genoa, passing the legendary Giraglia rock that gives the race its name).

Cohen tells us what he liked and what he did not like. It certainly did not sit well with him, as it did with many other participants, the mass defection of maxis and superboats, did not show up at the starting line of the “long” in view of challenging weather conditions. Strange, for top-of-the-line boats with top professional sailors aboard. At the dock in Genoa, all they talked about was this and the fact that no one could imagine an offshore classic (such as the Sydney Hobart, the Middle Sea and, indeed, the Giraglia) without Maxis, because these races are the only opportunity for “normal” boats to confront these behemoths of the sea. Let us know if you agree with him.


My Giraglia

As the saying goes: one sponsor dies … another is made. I show up at the gates of the new (since 1953, 71-year history…so to speak) Loro Piana Giraglia.

The good news of the “new” Giraglia

In the meantime, two pieces of good news: canceled the San Remo – St. Tropez, where, moreover, the crew was punctually swiping my gadgets (since I was going to the beach) and assigned an extra day of racing. In the end, of the series while you’re there, a sacrifice of an extra day, boating on Saturday and in St. Tropez, is gladly made.

Also approved was the change of course for the races in the Gulf, with very long inshore edges, but with a simple upwind stern stick that made the races a bit more technical and crisp in the post buoy crossings. In the background of all this, sailing champagne conditions. For 3 out of 4 days of racing, winds 12 to 20 knots, sunshine and great waves.

Loro Piana Giraglia 2024
Grand Soleil 44 WindWhisper winner of the coasts in ORC1. What a breeze and what champagne conditions!

And speaking of champagne, I report with emotion that the sponsor served the thirsty racers a truly classy and unusual Ruinart.

New and impeccable hospitality format, somewhat Copa del Rey-style, with the race village open every day from morning to evening until the awards ceremony. Also a great way to socialize with all the crews–the most distant (fantastic) from Argentina and Uruguay.

Let me make just one suggestion: for next year give us back the night beach party before the long one, just move everything after sunset. Darkness makes everything more magical!

Two lightning strikes

Returning to the water in these races, two boats particularly impressed me: Gianni Di Vincenzo’s Lisa R, which glided like crazy but always in great elegance. The Ker 46 is truly a beautiful boat to look at and certainly to sail given how much fun they were having on board!

And then you. Didier Gaudoux’sMN 35 Lann Ael 3, which won the Giraglia overall. We passed her and filmed her at length on the first upwind side of the long run, and in addition to the Sam Manuard-esque rounded lines (MN stands for Manuard and Nivelt, the boat’s designers, ed.) of the bow, we were struck by the Olympian calm and relaxed manner in which the crew in doubles seemed to approach the race.

They evidently rested upwind, less suited to the lines of this boat, and then unleashed on the double-digit descent to the Giraglia. Gliding with impressive averages, they came in just behind the big boys. Real sailors. Respect for all those who tackle this kind of racing in the double version, from the Fastnet on down. It is one of the most interesting innovations in the high seas in recent years.

When the Maxis make an “impression”

At this point I will allow myself a little controversy, even though I am a pussy and rabbit owner, who after two hours of surfing up to 18 knots retired to avoid facing the arrival in Giraglia in very hard conditions. But at least I tried, and moreover, I also had fun like crazy.

Lined up at St. Tropez harbor for the coastal regattas were sailing marvels, some of the world’s most beautiful boats: Nilaya, Reichel/Pugh 46–with the square footage of the cockpit, you could do a couple of padel courts with it; Magic Carpet 3, Lindsay Owen-Jones’ WallyCento, as classic and elegant as a blue Loro Piana suit; the immaculate white Galateia, another WallyCento; V, still a WallyCento, crazy monster by my beloved Mark Mills. But then, at the end, at the start of the Giraglia you realize that out of 12 Maxis, 9 are missing. Maxi who did not start and did not deign to at least show up at the starting line.

Withdrawal is always a private and personal decision by the skipper who knows the boat and the crew, but… Incidentally, for the long run, two former Sydney Hobart queens were added, the 100-footer ARCA (formerly Skandia), then withdrawn after the first mark in the Gulf of Saint Tropez, and Black Jack, which won in the royal…

FlyingNikka, which at 40 knots in the air is in danger of sinking with bow waves, is one thing, but these are boats that are supposed to be the pinnacle of classic offshore and have the best of the professionals and technology on board. To wit, the wonderful 1962 wooden Samurai left and even arrived.

Samurai, an old Sangermani from 1962, completed the race without any problems

As so many “little ones” came, one, with only two people on board, even won the Giraglia! This is not the spirit of sailing that we like: In my opinion, two souls must always coexist in regattas: that of even small boats with human budgets, and that of the “monsters” that you can dream about and see up close in these kinds of prestigious regattas. There is no way they will not show up at the starting line.

Matteo Uliassi’s SunFast 3300 Spartaco (a 9.99-m boat) finished the Giraglia del ventone with only two people on board. Many Maxis, on the other hand, did not show up on the starting line. Many participants were disappointed with the “defections” from the superboats.

While the withdrawal, as I said is a personal choice, this is a total disrespect to all the normal crews who dream of crossing them at the start of this sailing festival. They can do that we would miss it, when they are regattas organized only by the Maxi Class Association, the IMA. But not in the most famous offshore regatta in the Mediterranean!

Blessed are the last

And again in honor of fair seafaring spirit behaviors I finally report the initiative (Sydney Hobart style) to also celebrate the last boat to arrive (Ziggy) who was received on Friday morning by the Italian Yacht Club with magnum of champagne and triumphant reception. Along with the focaccia and trofie that warmed the racers as they arrived in Genoa.

Pier Luigi Loro Piana at the helm of ClubSwan 80 My Song. To his right, in the foreground, is Tommaso Chieffi. Loro Piana’s maxi finished second across the finish line behind Black Jack

Bravo, that’s the way to do it: on the YCI only one negative note. Since I am a new member, I cannot help but quote Groucho Marx’s wonderful line, “I would never want to be part of a club that would accept among its members someone like me.”

Marco Cohen


*Who is Marco Cohen

The author of this article is film producer and sailor Marco Cohen, pictured here at the helm of a small boat (in that case a Cape 31, designed by his “fetish” designer Mark Mills).

Cape 31 - 5

Owner of a MAT 12 (designed, indeed, by Mills) tours the Mediterranean for regattas (losing almost all of them but having a lot of fun). A keen humorist and sailing philosopher (“I re-embraced sailing at age 37 after yet another soccer injury, when I realized it’s the only sport you can do sitting down and with a glass in your hand”), his articles are always a big hit. Below you can read some of his “pearls”:

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