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Crichton and Alfo Romeo Reap the Rewards for European Race Win - (NZ)

June 15th, 2008

Kiwi yachtsman and Australian businessman, Neville Crichton has reaped the rewards for his record breaking line honours win in the Rolex Giraglia Race, collecting the Rolex Trophy and the René Levainville Trophy, as well as the Beppe Croce Trophy for being the first to round the Giraglia Rock and for breaking the course record, ‘Alfa Romeo’ was awarded the Coppa del Record, while Neville Crichton also was given a Gold Rolex Submariner timepiece.

Alfa Romeo, the sleek, canting-keeled maxi yacht swept into Genoa on Thursday morning, taking line honours with a new time of 18 hours, 3 minutes, 15 seconds. The New Zealand skipper had sliced 4 hours, 10 minutes and 33 seconds off his own record, which he set in 2003 with his previous Alfa Romeo, a much less powerful, fixed-keel 90-foot Maxi.

While Crichton notched up record after record in his old boat, but has been frequently frustrated by poor winds with the 100-footer in Rolex Giraglia Race. However, on this occasion, the 56th Giraglia Race, the wind came good for Alfa Romeo. Crichton said it had been a dream run for almost the entire course, which takes the fleet from St Tropez in France to the Italian port of Genoa via the Giraglia Rock off the northern tip of Corsica.

“We had a good breeze on the beat up to the turning mark near the Porquerolles Islands off the French coast. We had 22 knots at that point and carried a spinnaker or Code Zero all the way to the Giraglia Rock, where there was about 13 knots' wind. We picked up a new breeze and reached towards Genoa. The wind dropped and we parked up for almost three hours before we got the new shore breeze to get us across the finish.”

Tactician Michael Coxon was delighted and relieved to have taken the record in a race that has so often frustrated the Alfa Romeo team.

“We've always joked that high pressure follows this boat around. We campaigned the 90 footer very successfully for years, and everyone knows the 100-footer is faster but we've not broken as many records.

“This time we finally got the conditions that suit this boat. They weren't fresh conditions, but strong enough, and the wind was kind both in terms of strength and direction. We parked up for only a little over two hours, which is not bad for this race. We've been parked up for hours in the past.”

Marco Paolucci's Comet 45, Tartaruga, was confirmed as handicap winner of the Giraglia Race at the prizegiving ceremony for the 56th edition of the Giraglia Rolex Cup, held at the Yacht Club Italiano.

The skipper of Tartaruga received the Rolex Challenge Trophy and the Bellon Challenge Trophy for being the first yacht overall on corrected time in the division with the most number of entries.

Marco Paolucci was a happy man indeed. "The joy of winning this historic regatta, a symbol of international yachting, is incredible," he said. "It is a special moment, most of all for someone like me who only started sailing in 2002. A large part of this crew is from the Scuola Vela (sailing school), and they were really committed in this regatta. So a special thanks to Marco Quaglieri, Angiolo Borsò and Michele Regolo. This crew was able to stay focussed even when it was calm and there wasn't much wind to keep the attention high."

Paolucci and his crew's unyielding concentration certainly paid off, as on ORC handicap they won the Giraglia Race from the Canard 41, Aurora, by just 57 seconds on corrected time. "It goes to show how important it is not to lose concentration in this race, not even for a moment. That's not easy in such a long race, when the wind drops. For me, it is particularly sweet to win such a prestigious race on a boat that I also take cruising with my family."

For the best combined score from the three days of inshore racing in St. Tropez and the Giraglia Race to Genoa, Paolo Scerni's Swan 42, Kora 4, won the Challenge Nucci Novi Trophy.

The Giraglia Rolex Cup is organised by the Yacht Club Italiano with the collaboration of the Yacht Club de France and the Société Nautique de St. Tropez.

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