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Kiwi Alfa Romeo Takes 2nd Win In Bmw-Backed Event

Kiwi Alfa Romeo Takes Second Win In Bmw-Backed Event

St Tropez - France, July 14 2004

Kiwi Super Maxi and winner of the 2002 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race, Alfa Romeo, took another step towards a clean sweep of the Mediterranean's leading yachting event, the Giraglia Rolex Cup with the line honours victory in the event's second inshore race.

But fickle light winds stopped skipper and owner Neville Crichton, the New Zealand Sailor of the Year, adding a handicap win in the Giraglia Rolex Cup, which is co-sponsored by German car maker, BMW, to the 68 line honours wins he has recorded in Auckland's Alfa Romeo.

The conditions handed the handicap win to a diminutive Grand Soleil 42R, Near Miss, owned by Swiss sailor Franck Noel. It was another Grand Soleil design, Italo Borrini's 40R Despeinada that won the small boat division, although 'grand soleil' appeared to be the last thing the St-Tropez weather could offer the teams. The 186 teams were instead treated to an unseasonally drizzly and rainy day as they wafted around a light-wind triangular course that the race committee wisely shortened to just 14 miles.

It was in stark contrast to the stormy conditions of Race 1. The skill in the second race was spotting the streaks of wind and staying in them for as long as possible, although tactician on Near Miss, Olympic gold medallist Thierry Peponnet, admitted they had enjoyed a good helping of luck from the wind gods. "We had a good upwind leg and we were lucky when we left the bay of St Tropez. The big boats sailed into a hole with no wind, and we came back into the bay with good pressure." Their good fortune did not end there either. "We were also lucky to have the wind drop after we crossed the finish line. Because of that we stayed ahead of the small boats."

A Dutch boat, Arien van Vemde's Sotto Voce, was second in the big boats ahead of yesterday's race winner, Raffaele Raiola's Idea SAI. With a first and a third place in the first two races, the Italian Reichel/Pugh Maxi retained the overall lead in the regatta so far, only to relinquish it later in the day after a further protest hearing following yesterday's controversial first race.

Idea SAI and the German Reichel/Pugh 77 Black Dragon had missed a mark of the course, a point that was brought to their attention yesterday afternoon by the crew of Alfa Romeo and Nokia Enigma. With yesterday's protests thrown out on technical grounds, Idea SAI and Black Dragon made a written report to the committee today, admitting their error in missing Mark No.9 during Race 1. Both yachts have subsequently been awarded a 10% time penalty, which is believed to have dragged Idea SAI down from 1st to 5th place.

Neville Crichton, owner of Alfa Romeo which has won line honours in both races, made no secret of his disdain for the decision. "If you sail the wrong course you should retire," he said, but added. "We will abide by the decision. We're here to have fun."

This change of Idea SAI's circumstances now moves another Italian Maxi, Carlo Puri Negri's new Farr 72 Maxi Atalanta II into first place overall, with a 2,4 scoreline so far. Giampaolo Rocca, Atalanta's navigator, admitted the team would be delighted if they could win the regatta this week, but believed it unlikely. "We have only been sailing this yacht since April and have only competed in Antigua so far, so there are many things we need to do to optimise Atalanta II. It normally takes at least a year to get a boat like this up to full speed, so we will be happy just to know that Atalanta has good potential for improvement."

Despeinada's race win today builds nicely on her 3rd in Race 1, placing her at the top of the leaderboard in the small boat division. Just a point behind with a 2,3 scoreline, however, is Roger Pierrejean's IMX40 Farewell. Inshore racing off St-Tropez concludes tomorrow, with the long offshore race to Genoa due to begin on Wednesday 16 June.

Now in its 52nd year, the Giraglia Rolex Cup is established as one of the classic regattas of the Mediterranean. The regatta has been sponsored by Rolex for the past seven years with San Pellegrino as co-sponsor. The Giraglia Rolex Cup 2004 is the largest yet, with 186 teams from 15 countries, and more than 20 yachts competing in the spectacular Maxi division. The regatta reaches its climax with the 243-mile offshore race from St-Tropez in France to Genoa in Italy, via the ancient Giraglia Rock a few miles from the northern tip of Corsica.

Results Giraglia Rolex Cup Race 2

Class 0-1

1 Near Miss - Franck Noel (SUI) - Grand Soleil 42R 2 Sotto Voce - Arien van Vemde (NED) - Judel/Vrolijk 62 3 Idea SAI - Raffaele Raiola (ITA) - Maxi

Class 2-5

1 Despeinada - Italo Borrini (ITA) - Grand Soleil 40R 2 Chestress - Giancarlo Ghelanzoni - J-109 3 Farewell - Roger Pierrejean (FRA) - IMX40

Alfa Romeo 2004 Programme Trofeo Zegna Portofino 14 - 16 May Giraglia Rolex Cup St Tropez 13 - 19 June Copa del Ray Majorca 1-8 August Rolex Maxi Yacht Worlds Porto Cervo 4 - 14 September Rolex Middle Sea Race Malta 20 - 30 October

Alfa Romeo Technical Description Club: Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Sail Number: NZL 80 Designers: Reichel/Pugh - USA Builders: McConaghy Boats, Sydney, Australia Construction: Hull - Carbon Fibre Composite, Keel - Steel, Rudder and Mast - Carbon Fibre, Sails - 3DL Carbon/Mylar Mast: Southern Spars, Auckland, New Zealand Sails: North Sails , Sydney, Australia LOA: 27.43 m (90 ft) Beam: 5.6 m (18.3 ft) Draft: 4.0 m (13.1 ft)

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