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Kiwi Super Yacht Smashes European Race Record


KIWI SUPER YACHT SMASHES THE RACE RECORD IN LEADING EUROPEAN RACE

Alfa Romeo, the Kiwi built and crewed super maxi that won the 2002 Rolex Sydney to Hobart, has smashed the race record by more than two hours in one of Europe's leading yacht races to win the Rolex Giraglia Cup.

The victory in the 243 nautical mile race from St Tropez to Genoa in the Mediterranean came at the end of an outstanding week for Alfa Romeo, her skipper, New Zealander, Neville Crichton and the 24 strong crew from New Zealand and Australia, which saw the 90 foot super maxi win line honours against 120 of Europe's top boats in the three inshore races that support the main race.

Alfa Romeo, which was the only yacht in the race from the southern hemisphere, left St Tropez with favourable winds enabling what is arguably the most advanced racing yacht in the world to average more then 20 knots. At first Skipper Crichton sailed with the crowd, but after Giraglia he took the lead on a more easterly route than the rest of the fleet and benefited from strong winds, which took him to within 50 miles of Genoa, when winds dropped and Alfa Romeo entered Genoa Harbour at 11 knots some 22 hours and 13 minutes after leaving St Tropez, two hours ahead of the race record that has stood since 1998.

"Winning the Giraglia was one our aims in our European season and we have achieved it," said Crichton at the finish. "We raced to win right from the start. Alfa Romeo demonstrated how she is equally at home in strong and light winds, but it did mean that during the race we changed the sails 24 times, more than once an hour, so that we could maximize the new Code Zero sail from North Sails specifically to meet the needs of the high changeable Mediterranean winds.

"The Giraglia and the Fastnet race are the two top races in Europe and, along with the Sydney to Hobart, are the three top races in the world," explains Crichton. "Alfa Romeo has now won the Hobart and the Giraglia, which leaves the Fastnet in August. Frankly, we cannot wait to get to Cowes and try and make it three out of three!"

Alfa Romeo will now leave the Mediterranean and head for the Cowes in the United Kingdom for Cowes Royal Yacht Regatta in the first week of August with the Fastnet Race the culmination of a week of world class racing on 10 August.

In one of the largest sponsorships of a New Zealand and Australian team or event in 2003, Alfa Romeo is sponsored by the Italian performance car maker which has made the New Zealand yacht the centre piece of its marketing and advertising programme for 2003 across the whole of Europe.

(ends)

Details of Alfa Romeo and high resolution pictures may be found at http://www.alfaromeo.com.au/shockwave

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