The Giraglia Rolex Cup is three events in one, comprising overnight races from Marseille and Sanremo to Saint-Tropez; an inshore series in Saint-Tropez; and the famous offshore race ‘La Giraglia’, which runs 243 nautical miles from Saint-Tropez to Genoa via the islet that gives the event its name.
The event was established in 1953, in the aftermath of the Second World War, to help repair relations between Italy and France. It has been held every year since and has developed into one of the biggest sailing festivals of the Mediterranean season, with some 2,500 professional and amateur crew members from all over Europe and beyond taking part.
Camaraderie and respect
Created by members of the Yacht Club Italiano and the Yacht Club de France in a Paris bistro, the event is still organized by a combination of French and Italian yacht clubs. Today, the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez and the Yacht Club Italiano, both partner yacht clubs of Rolex, maintain the founding principles of friendship and fraternity.
The three-race inshore series in Saint-Tropez provides both fierce competition on the water and a cherished opportunity ashore for crews to meet and exchange stories in one of France’s most convivial and enviable Mediterranean ports. The 2016 inshore series takes place from 12 – 14 June.
The offshore race is the biggest draw of the event. The Giraglia has achieved mythic status in the sailing world, similar to the Fastnet Rock, the Organ Pipes and Stromboli. A large ridge-backed rock, the Giraglia is the northern extension of the Cap Corse. It lies barely one nautical mile off the coast of Corsica, measuring 600 metres in length, a mere 50 metres wide and rising just 60 metres above sea level.
Rolex has been a partner since 1998. In collaboration with the Yacht Club Italiano and the other organizing clubs, the Swiss watch brand has helped raise the stature and appeal of this event to extraordinary heights. The record fleet stands at 220 yachts, affirming the appeal and success of the original, humble concept. And, for the competitors, the prospect of winning this venerable contest has considerable attractions.