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Jethou and Wallyño reign supreme in Loro Piana Giraglia inshores

Yacht Racing Podcast

A second 20 mile coastal race, this time from Saint-Tropez down to a turning mark off L’Escalet and back, rounded off the inshore series for the maxis competing in Loro Piana Giraglia.

With racing here organised by the Yacht Club Italiano in collaboration with the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, Loro Piana Giraglia’s inshores for the Maxi A and B fleets, formed part of the International Maxi Association’s 2024 Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge.

Today’s race was similar but shorter to yesterday’s, but held in different conditions: the prevailing westerly fighting with a southeasterly leading to numerous transitions and shut-downs. This led to entertaining moments with neighbouring boats steering the same course on different tacks and or one boat being becalmed while another just a few metres offshore was sailing in pressure.

The Wallycentos, Chris Flowers’ Galateia and Karel Komárek’s V, were first through the transition exiting the Golfe de Saint-Tropez. By the time the next boats – Sir Peter Ogden’s Maxi 77 Jethou and Peter Dubens’ NorthStar – extracted themselves, Galateia and V were already most of the way across the Bay of Pampelonne. From here even the nimble former Maxi 72s were unable to make an impression on the 100 footers. Between the 100s the battle remained intense to the finish with Galateia just ahead enough to beat V by five seconds under IRC corrected time. Competition was similarly tight between Jethou and NorthStar with NorthStar correcting out ahead, albeit almost 24 minutes astern of Galateia.

The result was enough to give Jethou the overall Maxi A win, following on from her last victory here in 2022. Most recently Jethou was second at the IMA Maxi Europeans in Sorrento. “We did really well in Sorrento,” acknowledged Ogden. “Historically we have been third or fourth, but now we are more consistent and in the hunt. It is nice to be back in the mix.” Over the winter Jethou has been fitted with 1.35 tonnes of water ballast, restoring her righting moment to its 2022 level while being lighter with less lead in her keel. Also new this year is Ian Walker standing in for Brad Butterworth on tactics.

Among the 100s, Galateia won out ahead of Andrea Recordati’s Wally 93 Bullitt, which suffered today after ripping her kite severely in the first transition. “We had all the seasons in one day!” commented Galateia tactician Kelvin Harrap. “We have upped our game since Sorrento and you can see that in the results: Starting, tactics and boat handling are better. V are sailing well and we have had some great races with them.”

Of today’s race navigator Simon Fisher added: “The decisive moments were how you wriggled through all the transitions. John [Cutler] and Markus [Weiser] did a nice job of getting us through them to make our long term plan pay.” The strongest breeze was at the turning mark, but even here it was no more than 15 knots.

V versus Galateia in this week’s Maxi A clash of the titans. Image © Loro Piana / Studio Borlenghi

Elsewhere in Maxi A, the Swan 115 Jasi has been attempting to mix it up with the nimbler Wallycentos. This followed a shortening of her rudder and lead removal from her keel over the winter. Owner’s coach Klabbe’ Nylöf commented: “The week has been very good for us. We have improved upwind a lot, but the short inshore courses are tough and we couldn’t get the sails up as quickly as we should. But it has been very good sailing every day – so we are happy.”

A final bullet for Benoît de Froidmont’s Wallyño, as Jean-Pierre Barjon’s Botin 65 Spirit of Lorina, Guido Paolo Gamucci’s Cippa Lippa X and Alex Schaerer’s Swan 90 Strathisla fought it out ahead of her, secured the IMA President’s Wally 60 the Maxi B prize, by a five point margin from Cippa Lippa X with Spirit of Lorina a further two astern.

“It was a very complicated week in terms of the weather, but that’s usual in St Tropez and also why we like it,” commented de Froidmont. “Today the breeze was very difficult but flat sea and 10-12 knots were really good for the boat.” Wallyño and her crew, including tactician Cédric Pouligny, relish racing in Saint-Tropez – on these waters they secured the IMA Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenges in 2019 and 2023.

Scoring a surprise second today was Mexican Miguel Sanchez Navarro’s Swan 77 Invictus, fresh out of refit in Southampton from where she was delivered to Saint-Tropez with a day to spare. “It was an amazing day with a beautiful boat,” said Navarro, for whom this is his first sailing yacht. “After one year in refit we are super happy to be here and to have this result. We love being here – the atmosphere is beautiful.”

Of the week, event sponsor and competitor on his ClubSwan 80 My Song, Pier Luigi Loro Piana commented: “As a sponsor we can be only happy. St Tropez represents a place with passion for sailing and beauty, a party and a sailing festival. We are honoured that the Yacht Club Italiano and the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez chose us to be their partner.”

Tomorrow is the Loro Piana Giraglia offshore race to the Giraglia rock off north Corsica and on to Genoa. The forecast has a westerly mistral blowing the competitors downwind to the rock, then dropped for the usual light wind nail-biter finish into Genoa.

“We are going to have windy conditions downwind to Giraglia, mainly on starboard gybe with big gusts of 35-40 knots in the middle of the crossing,” commented Chris Pratt, tactician on Jean-Pierre Dreau’s Mylius 60 Lady First III, which is experienced in these conditions. “Maybe it will be tricky – right on the edge between the spinnaker and something smaller. The main objective will be reach the Giraglia without sail damage. After that it will be a more classic finish into Genoa with no wind.”

Meanwhile many Wallycentos and former Maxi 72s after studying the forecast have bailed from the offshore race. As Sir Peter Ogden explained: “I made the decision on it – the latest forecast showed 25-32 knots which is dangerous since we can’t reef the main. I do love the race so it is a big disappointment for everyone, but better safe than sorry.”

Report by James Boyd/International Maxi Association

Main image © IMA