Kazakh Team Finishes Second in Rolex Giraglia Cup

ASTANA – An Almaty Yacht Club team came second in the Rolex Giraglia, one of the Mediterranean’s oldest and most revered races that took place on June 9-17. The Jenis (Victory) yacht led by Murat Abdrakhmanov competed with an international fleet of over 150 boats. 

Kazakh team at Rolex Giraglia 2023. Photo credit: Abdrakhmanov’s personal archive.

With a rich history dating back to 1953 when it was first established, Rolex Giraglia is a renowned sailing regatta that takes place annually at the Mediterranean Sea, organized by the Yacht Club Italiano and Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez. The regatta is named after the small island of Giraglia, located off the northern coast of Corsica. 

Celebrating its 70th anniversary, Rolex Giraglia has become one of the Mediterranean’s most important and iconic sailing events.

“The competition is quite prestigious, and to take second place in it is a very good result,” Abdrakhmanov said in an interview with The Astana Times.

Murat Abdrakhmanov. Photo credit: Abdrakhmanov’s personal archive.

As a sailor since 2009, he runs the Almaty Yacht Club and promotes this sport in Kazakhstan.

Professionals and amateurs from across the world took part in the competition, including from the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. 

The racecourse takes participants through the picturesque waters of the Mediterranean, passing by famous landmarks, such as the Giraglia rock and the island of Corsica.

Photo credit: Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex

Abdrakhmanov said the race consisted of three parts. The first race spanned from Sanremo to Saint-Tropez with 55-60 nautical miles (102 – 111 kilometers) and started at midnight on June 9.

“In the first race, we finished at about 1 p.m. and came fifth. The race was difficult because of the weak wind,” he said.

On June 11, the inshore races began in Saint-Tropez with the distance varying between 13 and 23 nautical miles (24-42 km) and lasted for three days.

Kazakh team on the Jenis yacht. Photo credit Abdrakhmanov’s personal archive.

“We took fourth place once and came second twice in this race, far ahead of the main fleet,” said Abdrakhmanov.

The last headline offshore race started in Saint-Tropez on June 14. The route goes to Genoa via the northwestern limb of Corsica, where the Giraglia rock is located.

“Total distance based on the map is 240 nautical miles (444 kilometers), but because we go depending on the wind, we sailed a bit longer. This time we covered this distance within 46 hours and came third de-facto, but following recalculation, we came fourth,” he said.  

Abdrakhmanov explained that the elapsed time is recalculated based on the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC) score, which is assigned to each boat depending on its technical parameters, and it evens the possibilities for all participants.

“Coefficients are also assigned depending on the importance of the race. For example, inshore races were short – they receive a coefficient of one, while the night race from Sanremo to Saint-Tropez gets 1.5 and the last offshore race – three,” he said.  

“As a result, we took second place behind the Italian team in the ORC second class,” he added.

Abdrakmanov believes a team should own a boat outright to win prestigious races, because it can be modernized and improved, while it is difficult to do so on rented boats.

Last year, the Kazakh team participated on a rented boat. This year, the team sailed on Abdrakhmanov’s Jenis yacht, which was bought and lowered into the water in May last year.

Kazakh team. Photo credit: Abdrakhmanov’s personal archive.

Besides Abdrakhmanov, the team included seven Almaty Yacht Club members – Meiram Sergazin, Ramil Mukhoryapov, Timur Salimov, Gassal Mussin, Arman Karimov, Igor Belyavskiy, and Petr Lezhnin.

The Kazakh sailors have been participating in different regattas across the globe for over a decade. 

“Our club consists of amateurs, and we have organized the Qazaqstan Sea Cup several times,” he added.

When asked about his journey into sailing, Abdrakhmanov said “adventure attracts, because you have to adapt to the elements.” 

“Regatta is called ‘chess on the water’ because there are many tactical tasks. There is no limit to perfection and it’s very exciting,” he said. 

The team plans to continue participating in the title races, including the Sails of Saint-Tropez, the Rolex Middle Sea Race, and the Marmaris International Race.

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