18th Palermo-Montecarlo

Countdown begins


Monday 31st July 2023. Just a couple of weeks left before the start of the 18th Palermo-Montecarlo. Organised by Circolo della Vela Sicilia in partnership with Yacht Club de Monaco and Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, this event has become a classic on the Mediterranean circuit since its launch in 2005.

Numerous title contenders will be joining the fleet on the start in the Gulf of Mondello to tackle the 500 nautical miles that separate Sicily from the Principality of Monaco via an obligatory passage gate off Porto Cervo, Sardinia. Registrations continue to flow in, last tally being 44 boats.

A firm fixture in the international summer calendar, the Palermo-Montecarlo is a stage in the Italian Offshore Championship organised by the Italian Sailing Federation and IMA (Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge), also the Class40 Mediterranean Trophy and the 2023 Inshore and Offshore Championship and Trophies in the crewed IRC category.

Since its launch the overall level of the event continues to rise in terms of quality of participants and the international nature of the race which this year again has 12 nations represented. Among the latest to sign up is the Grand Soleil 48 Le Joy, skippered by Thierry Leret from YCM, organising partner which has never failed to participate.  Also the Cookson 50 Kuka3 owned by the Italian-Swiss Franco Niggeler, skippered by a great former Olympian, the Australian Mitch Booth.


Five Maxi yachts are in the line-up this year including YCM’s Peter Harburg’s Black Jack. Skippered by Marc Bradford, the crew on this 100-footer includes champions like New Zealand tactician Brad Butterworth, Joao Signorini and Alex Nolan. Winner of this year’s 151 Miglia Trofeo Cetilar and the Rolex Giraglia, Black Jack faces a major rival in the form of ARCA SGR, another 100-footer belonging to Furio Benussi. Other headliners are Claudio Demartis’ 90-foot Shockwave 3 Prosecco DOC flying the Circolo della Vela Sicilia flag and Yacht Club Monfalcone plus two VO65s fresh from The Ocean Race, Austrian Ocean Team and I Love Poland.

Palermo-Montecarlo for women

It is also the first time the Palermo-Montecarlo has an all-female crew on a boat Moogli, an 11m Dufour 36. For owner-helmsman Caroline Petit, member of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez for 25 years, this participation is a “dream I’ve had for ages and now we’re making it come true! Some of us took part in the Rolex Giraglia this year and I was in the double-hander Transquadra in 2022. I have full confidence in the boat, the crew and myself”. The Marseille sailor highlights the importance of having an all-female crew as “sailing is still essentially a male sport but boats can be helmed by women as well as men. Women sailors can fulfil all roles on board successfully, including those traditionally reserved for men. I am convinced of this and want to lead by example”.

The crew on Moogli comprises Emilie Bertrand, Hélène Duchassin, Camille Guebels, Sandrine Mournic and Cecilia Rastello.


What they said:

Mauro Pelaschier, an emblematic face on the Italian sailing scene returns to the Palermo-Montecarlo having competed in nearly all editions:

I am very attached to Palermo and Mondello as that’s where I won my first Italian title in the Finn class. I remember that my opponents included Ubaldo Bruni, Checco, Ganga and Marco’s father. Agostino Randazzo himself, now President of Circolo della Vela Sicilia, was a friend as he raced 470s and we often met at regattas.

I then met his father, Angelo, who was president of the Circolo at the time. He got to know me and wanted to talk to me about the idea of this new race, asking me for ideas on how to make it appealing to sailors and owners.

I remember the first piece of advice I gave him was practical. I told him that in August boats are equipped for cruising and that to prepare to race they have to take off a lot of gear. So if you arrange lorries to collect the gear and take it to Monaco you are offering a useful service and that encourages people to participate. That’s how he organised this service that has been a resounding success and still today makes the Palermo-Montecarlo unique of its kind.

Another suggestion concerned the route which should have included a passage via Strait of Bonifacio as leaving Corsica to the west often means finding yourself downwind of the island without air. For the first edition, we were on the glorious Steinlager II. Agostino was also on board. The boat had fairly old sails and finding a strong wind in the Strait we decided to skirt Corsica to the east. We still won in real time but lost in corrected time. I will be at the Palermo-Montecarlo this year again on the ELO with Yacht Club Italiano”.