The offshore sailing classic in the Mediterranean: Rolex Giraglia 2019. Photo: Martin Messmer.

With 241 nautical miles to sail, the Rolex Giraglia is a fairly short offshore regatta, but it’s a challenging and always highly exciting race. Unstable weather and wind conditions to negotiate along the course, many sail changes and manoeuvres to perform, hundreds of yachts on the water to watch out for and various tactical decisions to make…  The 67th edition of the Rolex Giraglia lived up to its reputation of being the marvellous and thrilling offshore sailing classic in the Mediterranean.

‘Malizia’ at full speed! Photo: Martin Messmer.

For Boris Herrmann and Pierre Casiraghi, the race was a great success and great fun. Both sailed ‘Malizia’ from Saint Tropez via Cavalaire-sur-Mer and the Giraglia Rock to the finish and homeport Monaco in just 20 hours and 40 minutes!

Excellent sailing conditions for ‘Malizia’! Photo: Martin Messmer.
Quick sail change before the start. Photo: Martin Messmer.

All in all, it was a fast race with many exciting moments: First, an unplanned, but perfectly timed sail change just 3 minutes before the start, as the wind dropped. Then, a few minutes into the race, rounding the buoy off Cavalaire-sur-Mer doing around 4 times the speed of the other competing yachts in the area: “That was the most exciting moment of the starting sequence”, reported Pierre and Boris on the docks of the Yacht Club de Monaco upon their arrival. “We wanted to stay out of the traffic, so we did a little different trajectory than everyone else, just to not have to worry too much about other boats. Coming into the Cavalaire mark, we bear away approaching at 25, 26, 27 knots while all these smaller boats were doing maybe 7 knots. So, we sneak in, quickly get around the mark and take off on the foil again.”

Just look at the size of the sails and the boat in its entirety: Photo showing the size ratio boat – sailors nicely! Photo: Martin Messmer.
Sailing boats as far as the eye can see: Boris and Pierre discussing the strategy for the start. Photo: Martin Messmer.

On their way towards Giraglia, the log continued displaying high boat speeds. With wind gusts reaching 30 knots, ‘Malizia’ was at her very best. “We did over 29 knots of boat speed, which is always exciting”, told Pierre with shining eyes. In a strong westerly breeze, the team headed south-east, then gybed back, sailing on a north-easterly course. Boris explained that due to the shape and characteristics of the IMOCA 60, it was not advantageous to sail downwind on direct course to Giraglia, just as all the IRC boats did with their narrow hulls. So, a little bit of extra distance covered by ‘Malizia’, but also significantly faster sailing and better racing performance given the prevailing sea state.

Almost 30 knots of boat speed on the way to the Giraglia Rock. Photo: Martin Messmer.

Once at the Giraglia Rock, the wind dropped, which wasn’t actually too problematic, as the sea calmed down, allowing a nice, calm passage of the small island during the night. On the final leg, the team managed to find some breeze and sail directly towards Monaco, where ‘Malizia’ crossed the finish line in the morning hours.

Final miles to the finish. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco in sight! Photo: Martin Messmer / Team Malizia.
‘Malizia’ back home! Arrival in front of the beautiful Yacht Club de Monaco clubhouse. Photo: Martin Messmer.

At the finish, Pierre and Boris concluded: “It was a really good Giraglia Race – less than 24 hours, no long calms, we had nice wind, in fact great breeze to race with the boat and it was a lot of fun. So, we are looking forward to doing this race again!

Great team: Pierre Casiraghi and Boris Herrmann just after crossing the finish line off Monaco. Photo: Martin Messmer / Team Malizia.

Yannick Kethers

Have a look at the Rolex Giraglia Race Recap video: