Raffaele Raiola’s shiny new maxi Idea was leading the second race of the Giraglia Rolex Cup 2001 when she hit the Mediterranean bricks in a big way

Racing maxi yachts is an expensive business, no question. Jim Kilroy, maxi stalwart of the 1970s and 1980s, refers to the boats as Marxis due to their capacity to redistribute fantastic amounts of wealth. Crashing them is merely gilding the lily.

But, having watched one US$40,000 sail split into two considerably cheaper ones yesterday, that was the course taken by Italy’s Raffaele Raiola, owner of the 82ft Reichel/Pugh sled Idea. While leading the second race ahead of Jim Dolan’s Sagamore, she sailed past a shallow waters marker and stopped abruptly shortly thereafter.

By the time Idea wiggled free, Dolan’s Sagamore and Loro Piana had swept by. Idea started sailing again, without any apparent problems, but pulled into nearby Cogolin to haul out and check for damage.

Dolan raced on to win ahead of Loro Piana in a time of 2.5 hours, the light airs and a major windshift having turned the race into a precession. “It was a drag race all around the course but we did pretty well today,” said Dolan.

When asked about the Idea incident, Dolan was unconcerned: “We’ve got such an international crew on board that we’ve nearly always got someone who’s sailed the waters before, no matter where we might be in the world.”

Once the maxis finished, the sea breeze filled in and brought the smaller boats steaming into handicap contention. Puni Negri Carlo’s C&C61 Grampus eventually won the day with Riccardo Bonadeo’s Frers 73 Rrose Selavy recording another second place to take overall lead after two days.

There’s more inshore racing today and after that the Giraglia Race begins. The 243nm course from St Tropez to Genoa via the Giraglia Rock has become a classic over its 48-year history, if something of a light airs one, and always attracts the Med’s top boats.

This year’s entry list stands at 120 boats, including radical Open 60s and this year, Grant Dalton’s new VO60 Nautor Challenge, launched last Thursday. Presumably he will have rather different ideas about navigation on his boat than Mr Raiola had on his.