18th Palermo-Montecarlo



Tuesday 22nd August 2023. Forty boats (12 nations) competing in the 18th Palermo-Montecarlo left the Gulf of Mondello at 12.50pm on Tuesday at the start of this 500 nautical mile offshore race to the Principality of Monaco, with an obligatory passage gate off Porto Cervo, Sardinia.

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

Weather plays ball

Weather conditions look favourable for the first hours of racing with a north-north-east wind giving the fleet good headway upwind. Variable conditions are forecast thereafter with a potential boost from the Mistral in the Strait of Bonifacio where tacticians must be on top of their game to choose the best option, while maintaining a good average speed.


Record still to beat

The Palermo-Montecarlo record set by Esimit Europa 2 in 2015 of 47 hours 46 minutes 48 seconds remains unbeaten. Now renamed Black Jack the boat is competing again and is an obvious favourite, weather permitting, to win and set a new record. Skippered by Peter Harburg from Yacht Club de Monaco, the Maxi is counting on the famous New Zealand tactician, Brad Butterworth. Their main adversary is another Maxi, Claudio Demartis’ Shockwave 3 Prosecco DOC with Roberto Ferrarese and two young sailors from Circolo della Vela Sicilia, Max Maneschi and Orazio Fatta della Fratta.

The other Maxis in the race are the VO70 I Love Poland, former The Ocean Race boat skippered by Grzegorz Baranowski. The sailing boat has an impressive track record winning the Transatlantic Care, the Maxi Cup and Middle Sea Race, 2nd in the RORC 600 Caribbean and 3rd in the Fastnet. Eight boats are also competing in the “Per 2” (double hander) version of the race.

Other champions headlining this edition include Mauro Pelaschier on Elo II one-off from Yacht Club Italiano, Marco Guerra on the Class40 Imagin’Act ; the Australian Olympic legend Mitch Booth, tactician on the Cookson 50 Kuka 3 of Franco Niggeler which also has Pietro D’Alì on board; the French woman Caroline Petit, skipper of the first all-female crew in the race’s history on the Dufour 34 Moogli; and Dominique Tian who is returning as a title defender with his Ker 46 Tonnerre del Glen, overall winner of the 2022 edition, and who as tradition dictates returned the Angelo Randazzo Challenge Trophy to the club. Of note also is the disabled skipper, Alessio Bernabò, who runs the association ‘Divermente Marinai’ and is preparing an oceanic campaign, with Andrea Pendibene alongside, a former Mini Transat sailor.

Up for grabs are the Angelo Randazzo Trophy for the winner in corrected time, the Giuseppe Tasca D’Almerita for the Line Honours (real time) winner, and the Emanuele Bruno Trophy for the first to cross the line from the Sicilian club.


Sharing experience

While the Maxis battle it out to beat the record, for other crews it is a fantastic opportunity to discover the joys of offshore sailing, like the crew on Yacht Club de Monaco member Loic Pompee’s Le Joy. A regular at race venues, he is sharing his experience with five sailors aged 13 to 17 from the Sports Section who are also supervised by YCM Race Director Thierry Leret. For several years now, the Club has been committed to passing on a passion for the sea to the new generation.

Sleep an overrated asset?

During the race, on the Circolo della Vela Sicilia-flagged Shockwave 3 Prosecco DOC, five sailors and two helmsmen will be wearing special wristbands to monitor their sleep when racing. The initiative is part of a study by student Livia Gonzi, daughter of the owner who has competed in many of the editions. Her thesis is entitled “Intermittent sleep in racing: basic or overrated?” for her Sports and Health Sciences degree. The results will be announced after the Palermo-Montecarlo.