|Period of the Regatta||From Saturday 7 to friday 13 April|
|Route||Genoa 500nm TBD Genoa|
The Mini 6.50 was first allowed to compete in offshore regattas on the Italian racing calendar as early as 1995. That year, following the advent of the Mini 6.50 Italia class, the organisers of the Roma x2, Corsica x2 and 500 x2 regattas were sufficiently far-sighted to admit as entrants several Mini Transat yachts. The success of this initiative and the public interest aroused by these "magnificent men (and women) and their flying machines" meant that from then on the Mini never looked back. However, France rather than Italy led the way when it came to organising Mini-only regattas with names like Transgascogne, Mini Fastnet, Mini Pavois, Demi Clè packing the calendar and fuelling the curiosity and envy of Italian boat owners. Regrettably, the idea of staging a similar race in Italian waters was put on the back burner for a long time on account of a lack of a sufficient number of enthusiasts as well as of a club willing and able to arrange such an event.
The long-awaited turning point came in 2006: the Mini 6.50 Class elected a new Steering Committee whose members, especially Committee Chairman Gianluca Pantuso and Secretary Beppe Facco, made great strides in their efforts to give fresh impetus to the class and recognised both its great potential and the importance that a Mini-only regatta in Italy would have in terms of attracting interest and media coverage. The Classe Mini Italia, the only one given full official recognition by its French counterpart, which indeed had been lobbying for an Italian Mini-only regatta for some time, began liaising with one of Italy’s most prestigious yachting associations, namely the Yacht Club Italiano. Not only did the YCI embrace the project, it actually expanded it, establishing the Grand Prix d’Italie Mini 6.50 and turning it into one of the classic events on the international yacht racing calendar.
The regatta in question has an unusually varied route covering some 520 nautical miles. The first leg from Genoa to Porquerolles is in coastal waters but this is followed by adrenaline-packed offshore racing on the leg to the Corsican island of Giraglia. After rounding the legendary Giraglia, the boats will have to tackle the challenging and highly technical leg slaloming between the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago as far as Giglio Island, before heading back to Genoa again via the treacherous sea of the splendid Tuscan Archipelago. The route is very similar to the one used for qualification for the Mini Transat solo transatlantic yacht race, which is one of the reasons for the regatta’s popularity among French owners. What makes the Grand Prix d’Italie even more attractive is the fact that it’s taking place at a time of year when sea and weather conditions are often very demanding, which is very enticing for owners wanting to test potential ocean racers and hone their sailing skills on long-distance races.