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Spirit of Lorina crowned top IRC maxi in Loro Piana Giraglia

Jean-Pierre Barjon has already enjoyed much success with his Botin 65 Spirit of Lorina having won the International Maxi Association’s Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge in 2021-22. However this week his Botin 65 was top maxi across the entire IRC fleet within the Loro Piana Giraglia’s offshore finale from Saint-Tropez into Genoa.

Spirit of Lorina also comfortably topped Maxi B in the results combining the four days of inshore/coastal racing off Saint-Tropez and the offshore race. Remarkably yesterday morning Spirit of Lorina was also third home into Genoa on the water behind Black Jack and My Song. Her elapsed time of 19 hours 37 minutes 42 seconds was substantially quicker than the 43 hours 36 minutes 35 seconds she took to complete the course in 2022.

With IRC One boats claiming the majority of top places across the Loro Piana Giraglia offshore race’s IRC fleet, Spirit of Lorina was the only IRC 0 maxi to reach the top 10 in this, finishing eighth.

The event was organised by the Yacht Club Italiano in collaboration with the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez. Loro Piana Giraglia’s offshore finale is the fifth of seven events in the International Maxi Association’s 2023-24 Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge.

“It was an incredible race and it was the first time that we were able to discover the boat in these conditions,” commented a delighted Barjon. “We clocked up our highest ever speed for the boat – 29 knots – and I achieved my own personal record of 27.7.” Barjon paid special tribute to his boat captain Benjamin Enon as well as 2021 Solitaire du Figaro winner Pierre Quiroga, their tactician. “We have an old team and they are all loyal. Benjamin did a great job with the preparation. Pierre was tactician and navigator for this race for the first time and it is incredible to sail with him. I am very happy to be here with this boat and to be third on line honours.”

Main image: Jean-Pierre Barjon’s Spirit of Lorina at pace en route to Giraglia. Image © Loro Piana / Studio Borlenghi

Trimmer Antoine Joubert, who like Quiroga now sails professionally in the Ocean Fifty trimaran class, added of their race: “The fun part was from L’Escalier to Giraglia: There was no gybe and only one gybe at Giraglia. The most wind we saw was close to Corsica, when it got up to 30 knots. We had some good surfs. I think we tried all of the sails because the wind was shifting, especially at the end. In fact the forecast was really good and was exactly what we expected. We stopped between Giraglia and Genoa but not for long, only 40 minutes.”

With Black Jack second maxi under IRC corrected time, Jean-Pierre Dreau’s Mylius 60 Lady First III was third, still taking less than a day to complete the 241 mile course. “It was quite nice but difficult because of the sea,” recounted Dreau. “The sea was not rough, but short and from different directions, so it was not easy. It is the first Giraglia I have raced with wind from the beginning to the end. Arriving in Genoa is usually difficult because even if there is a gale outside, generally off Genoa it’s calm. This time we didn’t stop coming in.”

On Lady First III the most wind they saw was around 30 knots, which Dreau said made it exciting to steer. They benefitted from having a lot of offshore sea miles under their keel including transatlantics and also the tactical skills of French pro Christopher Pratt, another Ocean 50 trimaran skipper.

“I have never finished a Giraglia on a Thursday before! We usually arrive at the same time…but on the Friday!” said Pratt. “During the race we had some damage to the jib top and main. We really needed the jib top for the eight hours around the Giraglia. The average wind speed was around 25-28 knot, so a bit less than forecast, but not that much. I think everyone was a bit cautious – reefing very early and not pushing too much, but I think the boats that were pushing normally did the right thing…”

Image © Loro Piana / Studio Borlenghi

Fourth maxi in the IRC fleet was Carlo Puri Negri’s Atalanta II, fresh from her overall maxi class victory in the 151 Miglia-Trofeo Cetilar. The 70 footer is enjoying her 20th birthday this year.

“We started very well, but it was very tough – especially the first part,” said Puri Negri. Like so many boats in the relatively big conditions this year, Atalanta II, despite her age, scored a new speed record. “26.4 knots – but it was just for one second!” recounted Puri Negri, who relished the helming even if his boat is not a flat-sterned reaching machine like the newer opposition. “It was fun but this boat is not really designed for this. When the wind gets up the newer boats start [to plane] before us and they maintain a good average. Our boat doesn’t surf as well so our average speed is not as good.”

With the wind topping 31 knots, during the race they were regularly swapping helmsman and in addition to Puri Negri this included Melges 32 world champion Claudio Recchi and tactician and multiple world champion Gabriele Benussi. Their chances of finishing higher up the leaderboard were scuppered by being becalmed approaching Genoa. Ultimately Atalanta II finished at 11:25 having been within five miles of the finish since 0900.

“I would like to congratulate Carlo,” said Benussi, who has sailed on board Atalanta II for the past 12 years. “It was not easy to race in these conditions. Carlo loves to steer the boat and he was steering for a lot of hours. It is a pleasure to sail with him.”

The prizegiving for the Loro Piana Giraglia will take place at the Yacht Club Italiano’s Genoa clubhouse tomorrow (15 June) at 1200. Here Jean-Pierre Barjon will also be presented with the prize for Best Placed IMA Member.

Report by James Boyd/International Maxi Association

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