'Mythical' St .Tropez race pits classic yachts against modern rocketships

    Mariska, built in 1908, was found converted into a houseboat on a Dutch canal, complete with piano.

    Story highlights

    • 268 boats compete in Giraglia Rolex Cup
    • Race goes from St. Tropez to Genoa via the Giraglia rock off Corsica
    • Marsika, built in 1908 and fully restored, competes for first time
    • Defending champion is 100ft maxi Magic Carpet 3

    (CNN)Her wooden spars gleam in the St. Tropez sunshine and water laps gently at her classic curves -- a far cry from her life as a houseboat on a Dutch canal.

    Alongside her, lining the pretty French Rivieria quayside, sits millions of pounds worth of state-of-the-art, stripped-out carbon racers.
    The slick-looking sleds and racy rocketships are all head turners in their own way, but amid the thicket of masts and rigging, eyes are drawn back to Mariska, a 90ft gaff-rigged cutter.
    This classic 15 meter class yacht, built in Scotland in 1908, has been rescued from an idle retirement as a mastless floating home complete with onboard piano and restored to her former glory.
    Now, like a thoroughbred racehorse waiting patiently in the stable, she is set to take on some of the Med's meanest in the famous Giraglia Rolex Cup race from St. Tropez to Genoa, via Corsica.
    Mariska had effectively become "lost" to Lloyd's Register, the ship certification body, but in 2006 Swiss property magnate Christian Niels learnt of her whereabouts and made some enquiries.