18e Palermo-Montecarlo

Friday 25th August 2023.  It was 19:53:06 precisely when Peter Harbourg’s Black Jack crossed the finish of the Palermo-Montecarlo on Thursday 24th August winning the event in real time to take line honours. The 100-foot Maxi covered the course in 55 hours 3 minutes 6 seconds:  “It was a great race, the boat went well. We were held back during the second night after the Strait of Bonifacio but managed to find a favourable wind after that,” said Peter Harburg. “It was my first Palermo-Montecarlo and crossing the finish remains the best moment as it was vindication for all the work put in at sea”. 


With the New Zealander Brad Butterworth on tactics, Joao Signorini at the helm and Mark Bradford as skipper, the Maxi was fine-tuned to the wire. “There are 18 men on board, I’ve been sailing with some of them for almost 20 years, we’re like a family,” added Peter Harburg who already has a string of successes this year having won the 151 Miglia Trofeo Cetilar and Rolex Giraglia, to which he can add the Giuseppe Tasca d’Almerita. However, the record set in 2015 by Esimit Europa 2, the former Black Jack, remains unbeaten.


A Mediterranean classic

Around 40 boats (12 nations) were on the start of this 18th Palermo-Montecarlo the route of which has remained unchanged since its launch. On leaving the Gulf of Mondello in Sicily, contestants head for the Principality of Monaco via a gate set up off Porto Cervo, Sardinia.


Organised by the Circolo della Vela Sicilia in partnership with Yacht Club de Monaco and Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and under the aegis of the Italian Sailing Federation, the UVAI (Unione Vela d’Altura Italiana) and IMA (International Maxi Association), the Palermo-Montecarlo confirms its status as an offshore race that attracts famous boats and big names in sailing.


A firm fixture on the international summer calendar, the race is a stage in the Italian Offshore Championship organised by the Italian Sailing Federation and Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge (IMA), Mediterranean Offshore Trophy, Class40 Mediterranean Trophy and the Offshore and Inshore Mediterranean Trophies in the crewed IRC group.


A varied fleet

Among the many sailing champions who took up the challenge were Mauro Pelaschier on Elo II one-off f from Yacht Club Italiano, Marco Guerra (Imagin’Act), Australian Olympic legend Mitch Booth, tactician on the Cookson 50 Kuka 3 of Franco Niggeler, Caroline Petit, skipper of the first all-female crew in the race’s history (Moogli), Dominique Tian, winner in 2022 on Tonnerre del Glen, and Kito de Pavant (Made in Midi) who is now a regular.


Sharing experience

Palermo-Montecarlo is also a great opportunity to bring on the new generation, for example Shockwave 3 Prosecco DOC, Claudio Demartis’s 90-footer flying the Circolo della Vela Sicilia flag had two young sailors from the Sicilian club on board. The same for another organising club, Yacht Club de Monaco member Loïc Pompée’s Le Joy.  Supervised by YCM Race Director Thierry Leret, five from the Sports Section aged 13 to 17 enjoyed the offshore experience, another facet of their sport, forced to deal with weather hazards and tactical options throughout the race not to mention managing sleep for several days.


Superb from an early age 


YCM has been widely represented on the race scene the last few days. Offshore racing for some and a national event for others in which five of the Club’s young racers were on the start of the France Espoir Championship held in La Rochelle. It was a successful trip with Mathis Duplomb winning a silver medal in ILCA 6 after 12 races. Leading the fleet at one point in the same category, Noah Garcia pulled out all the stops to capitalise, finishing 4th just one point adrift of a bronze medal. In ILCA 7, Bodhi Van der Linden was hot on the heels of his opponents with some good results, finally finishing 6th ahead of Davide Marino, 15th. Finally, in the girls, Louise Debeaumont also had some good races, flirting with the top of the leaderboard, finishing 11th overall.


There’s no downtime for Yacht Club de Monaco with preparations in full swing for the 16th Monaco Classic Week-La Belle Classe (13-16 September 2023), a unique biennial event for sailing and motor, large and small, classic yachts.  This year 50 classic yachts, 50 vintage motorboats including 30 Rivas and a dozen period motor-yachts will be descending on the YCM Marina.