Already established as a tradition after only 14 editions, each year this offshore regatta attracts a fleet of character and exception. Organised by the Circolo della Vela Sicilia in collaboration with the Yacht Club de Monaco and Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, the 14th Palermo-Montecarlo sees 55 boats line up on the start and is again one of the stages on the International Maxi Association (IMA) circuit.
The fleet leaves the Gulf of Mondello on 21st August. They then ascend the Mediterranean via an obligatory passage gate off Porto Cervo in Sardinia, before heading up the Corsican coast to the Principality, a total of 500 nautical miles. The big question is: can anyone beat the record held since 2015 by the 100-ft Maxi Esimit Europa 2 of 47 hours 46 minutes 48 seconds? Sailing alongside professionals will be newcomers to the race like the team of young sailors from the Yacht Club de Monaco’s Sports Section, sailing under the aegis of the Sailing Youth Offshore Academy U25.
A unique fleet
Indeed, there are no shortage of challengers. No less than 55 boats have already registered including top-flight entrants such as Lucky owned by American Bryon Ehrhart. Winner in real time last year, this Reichel/Pugh 63-footer faces strong competition from George David’s Rambler 88. Also a line honours winner in 2016, the mono-hull has some famous sailors aboard including the four-time America’s Cup winner, New Zealander Brad Butterworth.
Winning this race is therefore a holy grail that attracts competition to match, as evidenced by the YCM’s Adalberto Miani accompanied by his son Guido and grandson Daniel on Art Spirit of Porto Piccolo. Also onboard are some formidable sailors, multi-world and European title holders from a range of classes. First in the 49th Barcolana, this boat is one of the favourites.
Also participating is Ad Maiora, a trimaran launched in 1988 under the name Fleury Michon IX, formerly owned by big names such as Florence Arthaud and Philippe Poupon.
Full immersion in offshore racing
From the Sailing Youth Offshore Academy U25, after a first experience at the Rolex Giraglia in June, a group of young sailors from the Sports Section and three from Circolo dela Vela Sicilia will be competing on a First 50 Freedom.
Age 14-22, they will be supervised by two coaches from the two clubs, the goal being to initiate them into the thrills of offshore racing. The project is part of the policy of the YCM’s training centre La Belle Classe Academy, which teaches yachting professionals and supports new vocations through its Sailing department.
“This project, which strengthens ties we have with the Yacht Club de Monaco, aims to offer our young people, who have stopped racing to study or for other reasons, the opportunity to get back on the water and experience the magic of offshore racing,” explains Agostino Randazzo, Circolo delaVela Sicilia President. “In this first phase of the project, we are not interested in the results, but the educational aspect so they develop and become good sailors, not only racers. Sailing on the high seas is a school for life, which teaches strong values like respect, surpassing yourself and awareness of the need to take care of the sea and the planet in general.”
The winner in corrected time will receive the Angelo Randazzo Trophy, and the first to cross the line in real time the Giuseppe Tasca d’Almerita Trophy.
Provisional programme (may be subject to change)
Tuesday 21st August
12 noon: Start of 14th edition from the Gulf of Mondello
Sunday 26th August
8.00pm: Prize-giving at the Yacht Club de Monaco
Source: Yacht Club de Monaco