Giraglia: 150 yachts ready to start

The legendary regatta under a new name of Loro Piana Giraglia starts on June 8 with a series of coastal races in the Gulf of Saint Tropez
June 10 2024 • by Eugenia Bakunova 5 minutes to read
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Giraglia is one of the four classic offshore races that lots of yachtsmen dream of. In 2023 the race turned 70. This year it has got a new name, but the organisers are unchanged: the Yacht Club Italiano and the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez

For professionals Giraglia is an opportunity to start the season with a serious competition. For sailing enthusiasts, it is a chance to test themselves and race side by side with the stars, as there may be quite a lot of them at Giraglia. The race takes place in June, but the winds here can be really fresh, and the conditions are closer to extreme. 

Just like other famous offshore races, Giraglia developed out of a friendly competition. The idea of resuming cooperation between France and Italy after World War II was supported by the yachtsmen from Genoa to Marseille. Beppe Croce, René Levainville and Franco Gavagnin from the yacht clubs of Genoa, Paris and San Remo came up with the idea of the race. 

The very first race took place on July 11, 1953, with 17 boats crossing the finish line out of 22. The 196-mile course was won by a French boat with a real-time of 31 hours. A year later the number of entrants was over 30, and each year the regatta got more and more popular. In 1970-80s Giraglia gathered up to 150 boats – quite an impressive fleet for the time. 

In 2016 there was a record of 302 boats on the starting line
In 2016 there was a record of 302 boats on the starting line

В 1997 Rolex became Title Sponsor of the race, and there appeared a series of coastal races in the Gulf of Saint Tropez in the program. The start and finish points varies at times, but the Giraglia rock located north of Corsica remains unchanged. Thus, in 2019 Yacht Club de Monaco joined in, and the finish point was at in Port Hercule. 

Nowadays Giraglia gathers a diverse fleet from powerful maxi yachts (over 18.29 m long), capable of covering the course in less than 24 hours, to 9-meter boats, which usually spend from 24 to 60 hours on it. 

The lowest time record has been held since 2012, when the 100-ft Maxi Esimit Europa 2 finished the race in 14 hours, 56 minutes and 16 seconds. The yacht's skipper was three-time Olympic champion Jochen Schümann. 

Giraglia is considerably shorter than other offshore races, but there are some challenges even for experienced racers. A short course requires perfect tactics, as there will be no time to correct mistakes. Experience and expertise are crucial for such a rapid race.

Giraglia is a small rocky island in the Liguarian Sea, north-west of Corsica
Giraglia is a small rocky island in the Liguarian Sea, north-west of Corsica

Giraglia island is famous for the 16th century tower, which was one of a series of coastal defences constructed by the Republic of Genoa to protect against attacks by pirates. In 1848 the Giraglia lighthouse was built next to the tower. Today both the Giraglia Tower and the Lighthouse are among the Historical Monuments of France. 

The list of Loro Piana Giraglia 2024 participants includes over 150 yachts from 20 countries

Until recently Russian teams were a strong link in Giraglia, second only to the Italians, French and British in numbers and showing excellent results. Thus, in 2019 Russian yachtsmen won in three divisions (In 2020, Giraglia was cancelled, and since 2021 Russian crews have not been allowed to race). 

The change of the Title Sponsor of the event led to some changes in the format. Much to the participants’ regret, the San Remo - Saint Tropez night race is no longer on the program. The yachts started from San Remo at midnight accompanied by lots of other vessels and colourful fireworks. 

IRC and ORC-rated yachts over 9.14 m are admitted to take part in the race
IRC and ORC-rated yachts over 9.14 m are admitted to take part in the race

Everyone’s favourite big team party on the Ponche beach, which traditionally finished with fireworks over the Gulf of Saint Tropez, has not been announced either. But there is no doubt that the organisers of the race and Port of Saint Tropez have prepared a new and equally exciting program for the guests and the crews. Over the years of its existence, Giraglia has turned into a large yachting festival, which is definitely worth seeing. 

The offshore race starts at midday local time on June 12, with the prize-giving on June 15 in Genoa.  

Famous yachts often come to Saint Tropez during the Giraglia race
Famous yachts often come to Saint Tropez during the Giraglia race
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Eugenia Bakunova
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Eugenia Bakunova
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