Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Middle Sea Race

Day five of the Middle Sea Race brought home the top host club boats home to the Royal Malta Yacht Club, among them some of the crew were some of Ireland's top offshore sailors.

First home was Ramon Sant Hill & Jonas Diamantino's Farr 45, Comanche Raider III and second, as previously reported, the Irish crewed Xp 44, XP-ACT with Barry Hurley, Kenny Rumball and Joan Mulloy onboard.

“I am proud of the crew and proud of what we did, and so very happy. We never expected that we were going to do it, but we did. We never gave up, we just kept going; we have been waiting for this moment for so very long,” commented Ramon Sant Hill. “A race boat is not comfortable, we have no interior but we are used to it. I will always remember the top speed of this race, 23.3 knots. It was a memorable moment, but I was in pain at the time, as I had been thrown across the deck and fell on my ribs. The sensation of going that speed makes you very happy. We have to clean the boat, everything is soaking wet, and after we will have a big celebration at the Royal Malta Yacht Club!”

The second Maltese boat to cross the finish line was Josef Schultheis & Timmy Camilleri’s Xp 44, XP-ACT, completing the race in an elapsed time of 3 days 19 hours 11 mins 24 secs.

“We have been doing this race for the last seven years; it is a really solid team and we are all good friends. That is where our energy comes from,” explained Schultheis. “We were with Elusive for most of the race, it was a great battle with a very good team. They are friends of ours, so it was a friendly battle, as it has been for years. The friendship on board and with Elusive is why we do this race, and pushes us to perform.”

The Podesta family racing the First 45, Elusive 2, finished the race less than half an hour behind XP-ACT after nearly four days of boat for boat racing. Elusive 2 crossed the line in an elapsed time of 3 days 19 hours 37 mins 53 secs.

“You need competition to push yourself, and we have pushed each other,” commented Maya Podesta, referring to the battle in the Maltese fleet. “Elusive has been optimised, which has made us more competitive, so we can push harder. It was a really good race; we swapped places a few times. We are enemies on the water, and friends back on the dock. All of the Elusive crew put our heart and soul into the boat, and that is the reason why we can do what we do. We all have our own things to offer, and together we make a great team.”

Maltese J/109 Jarhead Young Sailors Malta, skippered by Karl Miggiani and crewed by teenagers, is the one of last of the Maltese entries still racing. At 1000 CEST on Wednesday, 24 October, the fifth day of the race, Jarhead Young Sailors Malta was 112 miles from the finish, close to Lampedusa. The boat reported in that: "We are about to do our last gybe at Lampedusa and head towards Malta. Long night. Main has small tear and we blew the vang a second time. Both have temporary repairs.” The young team are expected to finish the race on Thursday morning.

Currently, out the 130 starters: 30 boats have completed the course, 27 boats have officially retired, leaving 73 still at sea.

Published in Middle Sea Race
Tagged under

Wicklow Sailing Club's Brian Flahive, a double-handed competitor on the J122 Otra Vez has retired from the Middle Sea Race.   

Dinghy Champion, Flahive, who is a former Round Britan and Ireland Race winner, retired from the race early this morning. Currently, out the 130 starters, five boats have completed the course, 18 boats have retired and 107 are still racing.

Irish sailors Barry Hurley, Kenny Rumball and Joan Mulloy on the Maltese XP44, Xpact continue to make progress moving up to fifth in IRC division four.

Joan Mulloy xpactX-pact crew member Joan Mulloy with Clipper Race Boss Sir Robin Knox Johnson before the race start in Malta. Photo: Facebook

In the early hours of the fourth day of the 2018 Rolex Middle Sea Race, George David's American Maxi Rambler took an historic fourth straight Monohull Line Honours and, in doing so, set the bar to beat for the overall win under IRC. At 0800 CEST, 46 teams had passed Favignana, with remainder of the 130 fleet still racing expected to pass the northwest point of Sicily later today. The strong north-westerly wind arrived during the night for the boats already to the west of Sicily, providing a sleigh-ride south double digit boat speed.

Rambler arrived at 0207 CEST and is safely tied up in Grand Harbour. Some three hours earlier, Giovanni Soldini’s Maserati Multi70 crossed the line at 2254 CEST to take Multihull Line Honours. Both were outside their category’s respective race record times.

IRC One – At Lampedusa, the German Botin 65 Caro, skippered by Maximilian Klink, was leading Dieter Schön's German Maxi 72 Momo by just nine minutes after time correction. Baltic 115 Nikata was third. Momo would finish the race this morning to take pole position in the overall standings under IRC. The magnificent Baltic 115 Nikata, the largest yacht ever to participate in the Rolex Middle Sea Race has also completed the course, and currently lies in second place in the big boat class, with Rambler in third. Caro is expected to finish the race early this afternoon, and should go into the overall lead after time correction.

IRC Two – Sadly, two of the leading contenders suffered equipment damage last night and have officially retired from the race. Stefan Jentzsch's Black Pearl broke their rig while Eric de Turckheim's Teasing Machine lost their port runner and was close to a dismast. All crew are well and both yachts have taken shelter at Lampedusa before starting the long limp back to Malta

“Everyone is fine, but the rig is broken; the top half is gone,” explained Black Pearl's navigator Marc Lagesse. “It is a shame because we were having a good race. To be honest, the conditions last night were mild by Rolex Middle Sea Race standards; 25 knots of wind with a decent sea running and very few squalls. We actually thought it was champagne sailing until fate intervened. We have spoken with Teasing Machine and we are putting a plan together to get back to Malta.”

IRC Three
Dominique Tian's Tonnerre de Glen is the only yacht in this class to have passed Lampedusa by 1000 CEST. At the previous mark of the course, Pantelleria, Tonnerre de Glen was leading her class after IRC time correction by some 93 minutes from Vittorio Biscarini's Ars Una, with Puzin Frederic's Corum Daguet 2 lying in third. Tonnerre was also holding third place in the overall ranking.

IRC Four
Ten yachts have so far rounded Favignana. Riccardo Genghini's Austrian Swan 65 Lunz am Meer is comfortably leading after IRC time correction, nearly two hours ahead of the Podesta family's Elusive 2 from Malta. Renzo Grottesi's Italian Swan 42 Be Wild holds third, 29 minutes ahead of Philippe Frantz's Albator. At Pantelleria, Lunz Am Meer had returned to the overall podium, lying in third.

IRC Five
Eight yachts are past Favignana. Géry Trentesaux's Courrier Recommandé was over two hours ahead after time correction. Redshift Reloaded, skippered by Nick Cherry, was second. Milan Tomek's Bohemia Praha Debra was just seven minutes behind in third.

Zdenek Jakoubek's M37 Hebe 5 from the Czech Republic, one of the smallest boats in the race contacted the media team this morning. “Tough conditions last night with gusts of wind up to 30 knots and big waves. We are just about to round Favignana and put the kite up for the first time since Messina.” Meanwhile, Trentesaux’s French team has passed Pantelleria and holds the overall lead under IRC.

Two yachts are having an epic high speed match race at the front of the class. Timofey Zhbankov's Rossko was just two minutes ahead of Gerard Ludovic's Solenn after time correction at Favignana. Both yachts are JPK 10.80s and, having unfurled their downwind sails this morning, have pulled the trigger in the big conditions west of Sicily. Piercarlo Antonelli's Bora Fast was third and is over an hour behind the two leading boats. Last night Solenn reported in on their approach to Favignana: "An exhausting day with 20-25 knot headwind, deep swell, and fierce competition with Rossko, Bora Fast and Bogatyr – the double-handed crew! Unbelievable to tack with Bora Fast like a match race. After a full day sailing different options we are eager to turn to the left and hoist a kite!”

IRC Double-Handed
None of the teams racing Double-Handed have yet passed Favignana. Igor Rytov's Bogatyr appears to be leading the class, holding a 13-mile lead on the water from Björn Ambos's Mandalay with Marco Paolucci's Libertine is third.

Currently, out the 130 starters, five boats have completed the course, 18 boats have retired and 107 are still racing.

Retired yachts:
R-Six, Wild Joe, Allegra, OM-BCTG, Otra Vez, Black Pearl, Teasing Machine, Frogfoot, Katzu, Amapoula, Plis Play, Kings Legend, Unica, Swiss Nautic III, Phoenix, Tango, Preferisco, Jangada

Published in Middle Sea Race
Tagged under

Rambler, the Round Ireland Race monohull and IRC record holder, has won line honours, as expected, in the 2018 Rolex Middle Sea Race. 

Rambler crossed the finish line of the 2018 Rolex Middle Sea Race at the Royal Malta Yacht Club to take Monohull Line Honours at 02:07:55 CEST on Tuesday 23rd October.

Rambler Crew: George David, Brad Butterworth, Silvio Arrivabene, Rodney Ardern, Will McCarthy, Dean Phipps, Stuart Wilson, Mark Newbrook, Jan Dekker, Rome Kirby, Brian Giorgio, Scott Beavis, Simon Daubney, Peter van Niekerk, Joca Signorini, Curtis Blewett, Antonio Cuervas Mons, Aaron Reynolds-Lovegrove

Published in Middle Sea Race
Tagged under

The 50th anniversary Rolex Middle Sea offshore race is underway. A record fleet of 130 yachts and as reported earlier, this includes Ireland's Barry Hurley and Kenneth Rumball and more on the Maltese entry XpAct and Wicklow's Brian Flahive on the double-handed J122 Otra Vez in the classic 606nm offshore race. The race tracker, that appears to be having technical issues, is here

By 17:00 CEST last night, the majority of the fleet was hard on the wind heading for Capo Passero on the southern tip of Sicily. The heavier displacement boats are enjoying the upwind conditions. Strategic decisions are beginning to play out, with most staying north of the rhumb line. Approaching the land, the breeze looks to be shifting and fading. Staying in the best pressure to round the cape will be the common goal.

George David's Maxi American Rambler 88 is leading the charge in the monohull fleet, with their closest rivals on the water two miles behind: Dieter Schön German Maxi72 Momo, and the 115ft Baltic Nikata. In the Multihull fleet, Giovanni Soldini's Maserati and the Ned Collier Wakefield skippered PowerPlay were in close combat just off the coast of Sicily, locked in a duel, having blasted close to 70 miles upwind in just four hours. Just before going to press, Maserati reported suffering damage to the starboard rudder. She continues to race and the extent of the problem is being examined.

The start line between the Saluting Battery on the Valletta side and Fort St. Angelo, on Birgu, is an intimidating setting. Atmosphere and tension within the crews is heightened by the crash of cannon fire for each of the seven starts. A 15 knot north-easterly developed a building sea-state outside the breakwater, but importantly meant each start was able to get away in breeze.

First away was the four boat Multihull class. Two pairs of contrasting boats making up this compact, but nevertheless impressive-looking division. PowerPlay got the better of Maserati in the battle of the MOD70 racing trimarans, while Allegra was quicker off the mark than R-Six. Tacking a multihull is tricky at the best of times, within the gusty confines of the starting arena it becomes an art-form. PowerPlay’s on-the-money start allowed her to choose her lanes and she led the class out of the harbour.

For the considerably more numerous monohull contingent, the starts come in size order with the smallest and slowest going first. Class Six was marked by a number of double-handed crews, including the Austrian entry 2Hard, British yacht Jangada and the 2017 Overall Winner, Bogatyr. Having won the race fully-crewed last year, the owner, Igor Rytov, has chosen to take on the course short-handed. Few would bet against him pulling off another remarkable achievement given his early commitment. The Russian’s competitive edge got the better of him at the start, with Bogatyr over the line early requiring a frustrating turnabout to restart. Rytov, though, then lit the afterburners and by the turning mark off Dragonara was back amongst his classmates. Seawolf looked to have the best start, but by the harbour entrance Timofey Zhbankov’s Rossko was out in front.

The last start was reserved for most powerful yachts in the fleet. The eight-boat class was one of contrasts. The mammoth 115-foot Nikata, the largest yacht ever to start the Rolex Middle Sea Race, towering over the likes of the 60-footers Wild Joe and Oz, at almost half the length. Rambler 88, the three-time Line Honours winner, with her all-star crew led by owner George David, with Brad Butterworth and Silvio Arrivabene providing tactical advice and navigational input, was handed a lesson off the line by the Maxi 72 Momo. Just past the harbour entrance turning mark, normal order resumed with Rambler broadening her sailing angle and using her performance-enhancing assets to rapidly reel in and overtake the German pretenders.

The starts sandwiched between these two were just as dramatic, just as exciting. The breath-taking amphitheatre offered by Grand Harbour provides a start environment the equal of any other 600nm offshore classic. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, one of the race’s guests of honour, may have seen it all over the years, but even he was enthralled, admiring the scene from the Saluting Battery: “It’s a truly impressive spectacle; what a place to start a race.”

Ahead of race start, crews made their last-minute preparations. Loading provisions, checking personal kit, saying their goodbyes to loved ones. The anticipation for the adventure ahead was tangible. Italian sailor, Andrea Iacopini, racing aboard Amapoula, is taking part for the fourth time. Uncertain of the weather, he was clear in his appreciation of the course: “It’s the most incredible race I’ve done. Volcanoes, islands, currents, tides, wonderful colours. It is definitely the most beautiful race in the world.”

Even professional crew, like Laurent Pages sailing on Eric de Turckheim’s Teasing Machine in his third Rolex Middle Sea Race, are able to look beyond the immediate tactical battles to appreciate the race environment: “The attraction of this race is a combination of things: technically it’s very intense, from the start in Grand Harbour to the strength of the fleet, which always makes it a real challenge. And, the course that goes around Sicily, so Etna, Messina Strait, Stromboli and all the other spots is simply quite amazing.

Nicolas Ibanez Scott, owner of Chilean yacht Anita, took part for the first-time last year. Back again for another go despite the beating given by the weather conditions in 2017, Ibanez was looking forward to the race ahead: “Last year it was rough, it was tough, the weather was hard. We are enthused to be going again. There are great teams out there and we hope to enjoy a fine race, with better winds. In terms of strategy, we have a much clearer view of what we should do and should try to avoid. We feel better prepared, but that doesn’t mean it will be any easier. It’s fascinating and a privilege to be a part of this great race.”

Royal Malta Yacht Club Principal Race Officer, Peter Dimech, was delighted to have got the full fleet away on time and without issue: "It went like clockwork with all starts on time. Although the fleet had at least one tack in harbour, it all went smoothly and they cleared the harbour without any incident."

IRC Two: the Andrea Calabria skippered Swiss Swan 82, 2nd Chance, is revelling in the upwind conditions, Vadim Yakimenko’s TP52 Freccia Rossa is going well after a cracking start, as is Eric de Turckheim's French NM54 Teasing Machine, and Vincenzo Addessi’s Italian Mylius 60, Fra Diavolo.

IRC Three: Dominique Tian's French Ker 46, Tonnerre de Glen, leads on the water by two miles from Vittorio Biscarini's Ars Una. Ramon Sant Hill & Jonas Diamantino’s Maltese Farr 45, Comanche Raider III, has made an impressive start and is in the mix with the leaders.

IRC Four: Swan 651 Lunz Am Meer, skippered by Riccardo Genghini, has been in her element upwind. Philippe Franz's NM43 Albator is holding on to their bigger rival, just ahead of Frank Werst's Swan 53 Silveren Swaen. The Podesta family racing the Maltese First 45, Elusive 2, is among the front-runners, and holding off their local rivals, Josef Schultheis & Timmy Camilleri on the Xp-44, XP-ACT.

IRC Five: Jonathan Gambin's Maltese Dufour 44, Ton Ton Maltacharters, leads on the water from two well-sailed French teams: Géry Trentesaux's JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommandé and Yves Grosjean's J/133 Jivaro.

IRC Six: Rossko, skippered by Timofey Zhbankov, holds lead from a trio of boats just a mile astern: Gerard Ludovic's Solenn, Igor Rytov's Bogatyr, and Piercarlo Antonelli's Bora Fast.

Published in Middle Sea Race
Tagged under

Cobh's Barry Hurley will be racing the Maltese Xp44, XpAct in the Middle Sea Race again this year, it's the 2009 Ostar champion's 15th edition of the race and he is racing with an international crew of Maltese, German, Irish, and Dutch on board. The line-up has a familiar ring to it with Kenny Rumball of the Irish National Sailing School in Dun Laoghaire also signed up to go again.

The boat, says Hurley, who is now Malta based, is pretty much ready to go, with just the usual routine maintenance jobs left on the list. As regular readers will recall, Hurley narrowly missed out on overall victory in a turbulent 2014 edition.

2014 Round Britain and Ireland Champion Brian Flahive of Wicklow is entered again in the double–handed class on Otra Vez (J122).

As well as Irish sailors scattered through the record 131–boat fleet, there is also talk of a special Irish charter with more news on this to follow. 

If all the yachts currently entered in the 2018 race all cross the start line on 20 October, the race will have surpassed its previous record fleet – 122, set in 2014. What better way to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Mediterranean’s most renowned 600-mile offshore classic, organised by the Royal Malta Yacht Club. The entry list is a cosmopolitan affair with some 32 nations represented. Italy provides the largest contingent with 18 entrants, followed by France (15), United Kingdom (14) and the Russian Federation (14). Entries close on 5 October.

Headline acts include George David’s Rambler, the 27-metre monohull rocket-ship, seeking a record fourth line honours victory in a row. The crew are also hoping for the conditions to propel them round in a time faster than the course record set by one of David’s previous Ramblers back in 2007. And, if the wind gods do conspire in her favour, do not be surprised if the American Maxi achieves a clean sweep of the major trophies. Elsewhere, it will be interesting to see how fast the 35m Nikata, the largest yacht ever to have entered the race, can negotiate the course, particularly the notorious, narrow and complex Strait of Messina. The Maxi 72 Momo, from Germany, two Volvo 70s - Green Dragon from Denmark and Ocean Breeze from Switzerland, the Swan 80 Plis-Play, fresh from victory at the Rolex Swan Cup, and the Swan 78 Haromi will be doing their best to hang onto the coat tails of the expected frontrunners.

The Multihull division is not short of glamour entries either, equally hoping for conditions conducive to posting a quick time. The highlight is the Multihull course record holder, Giovanni Soldini and his foiling 21.2m Multi70, Maserati. Soldini’s record-breaking participation was in 2016, when damage en route to the start diminished the trimaran’s potential. Given better luck and similar, positive conditions, the Italian crew will have their eyes on bettering their benchmark time. Maserati will be up against another racing trimaran, the 23.38m Ultim’Emotion and two fast cruising cats - the 25.5m Swiss entry Allegra and the 20m R-Six from Poland.

Past winners of Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy for overall victory under IRC will be represented with the popular Greek winner from 2004, Optimum 3, owned by Nikos Lazos and Pericles Livas, returning. Although not yet on the official entry list, there is news that Igor Rytov and Bogatyr, the 2017 overall victor and first ever winner of a 600 nm offshore classic from the Russian Federation, is planning to take part, albeit this year as a double-handed entry.

Yachts around the 16m mark have proven mightily successful over recent years, with five of the past 10 winners slotting in at this length. 2018 looks to be packed with highly competitive yachts around this size. There are two ClubSwan 50s; highly regarded as inshore speedsters, the design has proved itself capable of heading offshore in the Baltic’s Nord Stream Race over the past two summers. Bronenosec and Stella Maris fly the flag for the class. With an offshore-hardened TP52 winning the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart, it is perhaps little surprise to find plenty of that ilk entered: Anafesto of Poland; Arobas of France; and, Freccia Rossa from Russia, winner of the Rolex Giraglia in 2017. Cookson 50s have shown their prowess, with Mascalzone Latino winning the race in 2017. Endless Game from Italy and Riff Raff from Australia will be out to prove that was no fluke. And, Erik de Turkheim’s powerful Teasing Machine from France, winner of the 2017 RORC Transatlantic Race, has entered once again.

The Maltese fleet with seven entries will be looking to repeat the past glories of their countrymen in this anniversary year. Boats from the island state have won the race on seven occasions over the 38 editions of the race. The last time was in 2014, when Lee Satariano’s Artie repeated her success of 2011. The local heroes include some well-known boat names: Comanche Raider III, Elusive 2 – sailed by the children of Arthur Podesta, who is remembered for competing in every race until his untimely passing in 2015, Maltese Falcon, Otra Vez, Ton Ton Malta Charters, Unica and Xpresso. Irrespective of whether these crews are in contention for the overall win, expect a battle royal to determine home bragging rights.

The Royal Malta Yacht Club is proud to have the partnership of Title Sponsor, Rolex (since 2002), and the support of the Malta Tourism Authority and the Ministry for Tourism and in collaboration with Transport Malta.

Entries close officially on 5 October, although late entries may be accepted up until 12 October at the discretion of the Organising Authority.

Monohull Course Record: 47 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds – Rambler (USA) in 2007

Multihull Course Record: 49 hours, 25 minutes, 01 seconds – Maserati (ITA) in 2016

The Rolex Middle Sea Race starts on Saturday, 20th October 2018 and the final Prize Giving ceremony will be held on Saturday, 27th October 2018.

See entry list here

Published in Middle Sea Race
Tagged under

If you had to be in a 35-footer as the remaining fleet in the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2017 negotiated those foul gale-and-backwash conditions off the huge cliffs of northwest Sicily earlier this week, then the JPK10.80 would have been the Boat of Choice writes W M Nixon.

For not only does the French wonderboat have a superb performance, but as Paul O’Higgins told us after his JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI had convincingly won the very rugged Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in June, when off watch in heavy weather: “You really do get a proper little spell of sleep. To begin with, the boat is so well built there is no water finding its way below. Troublesome drips from above are unknown. You won’t find the sleeping bag is slowly dampening from some hidden little puddle. And within the limits of slugging to windward off Ireland’s south coast, she’s as seakindly as can be, particularly when you have a helmsman of world quality who knows that a banging boat is a slow boat. And always, there’s the reassurance of knowing how well she is built. She’s definitely not going to fall asunder under you and about you. There’s no better recipe for a refreshing sleep when it’s your turn to be off watch”.

Observers have noted that the Russian-owned JPK 10.80 Bogatyr (Igor Rytov) was doing well in class in the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2017. And as her division was Class 6, she was best-placed of those in it still racing to benefit from the fact that the biggies – and George David’s Rambler 88 in particular – had seen the odds pile against them by being stopped in early race calms.

But although Bogatyr has been on the European scene this past season, as she’d been 34th at the rock during the Fastnet Race, and 50th at the finish when sister-ships had shown much better, her chances overall were accordingly discounted.

And as well, even a Mistral-generated bucket of wind isn’t going to last for ever. What chance was there of a 35 footer carrying that glorious fair wind all the way from western Sicily round the islands and into Valetta?

The answer is: A slim chance. But enough. Bogatyr came into Valetta as one of the very few Class 6 boats still racing, and except for one, the others were far away. But the Russian JPK 10.80 had the win of a lifetime by getting a corrected time of just 6 minutes and 29 seconds better than another late challenger, James Blakemore’s Swan 53 Music from South Africa, which pushed last night’s leader Teasing Machine (Eric de Turkheim) into third place.

As suspected in yesterday evening’s report, the Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen from France had become temporarily mislaid in the official results, but by midnight she’d appeared at second overall. However, that too has gone, as another very gallant Class 6 boat, the Elan 350 Rosatom Sailing team, has nipped into fourth, while the Irish-oriented Xp-44 XP-ACT, with Barry Hurley and Shane Diviney aboard and chasing the bigger Music, has fetched up in fifth with Tonnerre sixth.

About an hour and ten minutes covers the corrected times of the first six boats, and they’re from four different classes, so despite the extreme vagaries of the weather, the IRC seems to have done its work in efficient style.

Nick Jones Barry Hurley RMYC Louay HabibGame over. Nick Jones and Barry Hurley in good form in Valetta after “a lovely race with plenty of breeze”.

As to the race, fourteen times Middle Sea veteran Barry Hurley (who had Nick Jones of the all-conquering First 44.7 Lisa in his ship’s company) sums it up with droll exuberance:

“That was a lovely race. We had plenty of breeze but not as much as the fellows back in Ireland had, so all is good. This was my 14th race, and probably three have been as breezy as this in the past. The second half of this race was really fast, it took us half the time to finish the race than 2012. We have a great team, something like 70 races between us, an insane amount of experience, and we have all been able to rely on each other, which is what you want in a crew.”

Results here

Published in Middle Sea Race

The first Maltese boat home in the Middle Sea Race was Josef Schultheis and Timmy Camilleri’s Xp-ACT with Ireland's Cork Harbour Sailor Barry Hurley on board, completing the offshore race after just over three and a half days a sea writes Louay Habib. For the sailors of the island state, topping the local fleet ranks just behind the overall race win in terms of achievement.

The rivalry is friendly, but fierce. “It is great to be the first Maltese boat back, a great run round,” commented Camilleri. “

A fantastic race overall in difficult conditions with a great result. I have a fantastic crew, and it is so nice to have such a huge reception in the early hours of the morning.”

XP ACT Barry HurleyBarry Hurley standing at the back of Xp-ACT, as the yacht passes Favignana. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

“That was a lovely race.” joked Hurley. “We had plenty of breeze but not as much as the fellows back in Ireland had, so all is good. This was my 14th race, and probably three have been as breezy as this in the past. The second half of this race was really fast, it took us half time time to finish the race than 2012. We have a great team, something like 70 races between us, an insane amount of experience and we have all been able to rely on each other., which is what you want in a crew.”

Latest: on the morning of the fifth day, some 25 yachts have finished the 2017 Rolex Middle Sea Race. The brutal Mistral-driven conditions have resulted in a high attrition rate with 60 of the 104 yachts now officially retired. 19 yachts are still racing.

Eric de Turckheim's 54-foot Teasing Machine, the French Nivelt Muratt design, arrived back in Malta just after midday on Day Four, and initially headed the leaderboard both in class, IRC Two, and overall. With rival teams still racing, the French team could do no more and relaxed at the Royal Malta Yacht Club, waiting for the race to unfold further. “This is the first time we have raced the new Teasing Machine, and we are very happy,” remarked de Turckheim, whose talented crew includes Volvo Ocean Race winner Laurent Pages. “The race was a great test in light and heavy conditions and the crew and the boat performed extremely well.”

Also back in port, in IRC Two, is Anthony Leighs’ Elliott 35 Crusader; a remarkable achievement for a 10.5 metre yacht. She is likely to be the smallest boat to finish the race this year. The Kiwi crew’s amazing tenacity and handling skills look likely to claim a podium position in class.

Dominique Tian's Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen appears to have won IRC Three. The French team are all from Marseille and for long periods of the race Tonnerre was in the hunt for the overall win. Gear failure would eventually put paid to their assault. “This is why I love offshore racing,” commented Tian after finishing the race. This course is a beauty and a beast. The experience is full of fantastic memories but, unfortunately, we broke our boom near Lampedusa. We had to lower the main, and hoist the storm trysail.”

At Lampedusa, James Blakemore's Swan 53, Music, could sense the possibility of overall victory. According to the race tracker, the South African team had been trading blows at the top of the leaderboard since Messina. The last long leg back to Malta would be a final all-out push. “We did the race four years ago, at the first waypoint we were leading. We were 76th at the next! This was unfinished business for us. I like Malta and I love this race; it is a fantastic course and it is a well-supported event,” said Blakemore, shortly after stepping ashore. “Music is a magnificent seaworthy boat. We picked up 45 knots in a squall near Lampedusa, the rain came down and it was surreal. We ran down with it for ten minutes, banged about a bit and got a look at our keel, but we knew she would handle it!”

Blakemore is full of praise for his crew. The boat is just the vessel. It takes human skill and resilience to get it around the course fast and safe. “The crew have been outstanding,” he advised. “I have seven heroes. Mike Giles my crew boss is a spectacular individual. Gerry Hegie, the Boat Captain, is a man mountain. He will sit at the wheel in the roughest weather for six hours without a problem. For the young Cape Town boys on board, they have been given a great opportunity to come and sail, and they have taken it with both hands. The crew have really been single-minded about concentrating on the race and getting the boat round.”

The first Maltese boat home was Josef Schultheis’ and Timmy Camilleri’s Xp-ACT, completing the race after just over three and a half days at sea. For the sailors of the island state, topping the local fleet ranks just behind the overall race win in terms of achievement. The rivalry is friendly, but fierce. “It is great to be the first Maltese boat back, a great run round,” commented Camilleri. “A fantastic race overall in difficult conditions with a great result. I have a fantastic crew, and it is so nice to have such a huge reception in the early hours of the morning.”

Camilleri’s co-skipper, Schultheis, was just as effusive: “That was a tough one with a great crew and we are better friends now for sure. I will always remember smoking downhill with our kite flying doing 18 knots through the fairway buoy outside [Marsamxett] harbour. It was a thrilling moment.”

The Podesta family racing Maltese First 45 Elusive 2, finished third in class and currently lie eighth overall. The Podesta siblings have shown previously their determination in the face of gale force winds. Skippered by their late father Arthur, they completed the storm-ridden 2007 race. The experience and lessons learnt would have stood them in good stead this year.

At 03.33 CEST this morning, Wednesday 25 October, there was another change at the top of the leaderboard. Igor Rytov's Russian JPK 1080 Bogatyr crossed the finish line and slipped to the top of the overall standing. Bogatyr had been pursuing Music hard throughout the race. The tracker showed a slim 15 second margin at Lampedusa. By the finish, the Russian crew had built an advantage of 6 minutes and 29 seconds. With only 19 boats left to finish a major achievement is on the card for Rytov’s crew.

Published in Middle Sea Race

George David’s Rambler 88 has taken line honours for the owner’s third time in the 608-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race currently finishing in Valetta writes W M Nixon. But Nin O’Leary and Alex Thomson in the IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss have turned in a virtuoso offshore performance to be third home across the line, bested only by the significantly larger Rambler and the 100ft Leopard.

Unlike the Fastnet Race 2017, where Hugo Boss suffered from having to beat the whole way from Cowes to the Fastnet Rock, thereby leaving inadequate space and distance to demonstrate her formidable offwind capacity, in this race the “lovely black boat” was able to lay the course – albeit in often very light winds – most of the way on the anti-clockwise circuit towards the most northerly turning point, the volcanic island of Stromboli.

hugo boss starts2Hugo Boss gets smoothly away from Valetta at the start. Although winds were light all the way to the northerly turn at Stromboli, they were seldom dead on the nose and the specialised IMOC 60 was able to stay well placed. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

There, with a west to nor’westerly filling in to eventually become a classic Mistral-generated Mediterranean gale, most of the fleet elected for long tack/short tack progress towards Sicliy’s decidedly rugged northwestly coast’s series of massive headlands. But Hugo Boss’s crew chose to continue to lay on port tack far offshore, accepting the reality that right-on windward work is not their boat’s strong suit.

Thus they found both a slightly more favourable slant of wind well offshore, and a more regular sea state. The northwest corner of Sciliy is notorious for its confused back-wash ridden sea, and when Hugo Boss closed with the fleet again yesterday morning, they were already approaching Sicily’s most westerly race turn at Favignana island, finding themselves in company with the larger boats, and now well ahead of 50ft to 65ft craft which had been hassling them earlier in the race.

caro off sicily3The Botin 65 Caro (Maximilian Klink, Germany) kicks her heels in heavy winds in the backwash-plagued rough seas off Sicily’s northwest coast. Boats that gave much of this coast a good offing, such as XP-ACT and particularly Hugo Boss, benefitted from more regular seas Photo: Kurt Arrigo

With Favignana astern, it was all systems go, and at the front of the fleet while Rambler 88 – which was to cover the final 300 miles in 14 hours – was unassailable, for a while Hugo Boss looked as though she might be able to pip Leopard for second place on the water.

It was not to be, as things were easing slightly as the leaders came into Valetta late last night and in the small hours of this morning. With the pace dropping. Rambler 88 was able both to finish first and beat Hugo Boss on corrected time, albeit by just 5 minutes and 26 seconds. But O’Leary and Thompson and their crew of Will Jackson and Jack Trigger (there’s only room for two extra on the very purpose-designed IMOCA 60) were able to beat Leopard (Pascal Oddo, France) by 55 minutes on CT, while Udde Ingvall’s super-skinny Maxi 98 CQS from Australia has finished fourth across the line, almost ten hours astern of Hugo Boss on corrected time.

The severe conditions north of Sicily have taken their toll of the fleet and Irish entries, with Two-Handed favourites Brian Flahive of Wicklow and Sean Arrigo of Malta with the J/122 Otra Vez an early retiral, while Conor Doyle of Kinsale with the DK 46 Hydra had managed to get as far as the great headlands of northwest Sicily before pulling out.

george david gets flag4He’s done it again. George David (left) receives the line honours flag for the third time from Royal Malta YC Commodore Godwin Zammit

But Ireland’s most experienced participant, Middle Sea Race 14-times veteran2012 Barry Hurley, is sailing a really cool race with Shane Giviney and other noted talents on the Xp44 XP-ACT. Having given those bouncy northwestern headlands a decent offing to get them quickly clear while maintaining a good fleet place, they’ve just passed Pantellaria and are lying fourth overall on corrected time.

Current handicap leader is the 2012 Swan 53 Music (James Blackmore, South Africa) while the Russian JPK 10.80 Bogatyr (Igor Rytov) is second and the former Round Ireland star Tonnere de Breskens, the Ker 46 now known as Tonnere de Glen and owned by Tian Domonique of France, is third, with XP-ACT in fourth overall and well clear of the next boat.

Speeds are still well up, but with the wind easing it’s going to be a long day getting past Lampedusa and across to the finish at Valetta.

Race tracker here

Published in Middle Sea Race

Everyone going into the 608-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race knows they will experience a challenging course with weather which can be anything and everything from extended calms to surprisingly vicious gales, and the 2017 edition is no exception writes W M Nixon

In mostly light easterly winds after the start on Saturday, the fleet’s stately progress saw George David’s Rambler 88 give a master-class in taking full advantage of every new if small improvement in wind strength, and she lengthened away from the likes of the 100ft Leopard and the 98ft CQS in impressive style, only to see it evaporate again as she was invariably the first one into the next belt of calm.

However, she was always in the lead, and was on the up and up approaching Stromboli yesterday, only to find things very flat beyond that splendid turning point. Increasing desperate to find breeze anywhere, and always looking to be first into the much-forecast strong to gale west to norwest wind which was expected last night, she crawled along at barely a knot and ended out somewhere about nor’nor’east of Stromboli, taking a very wide turn before she began to feel the first of a new air. This eventually became the breeze which gave her a long tack/short tack beat to the next turn at the island of Favignana west of Sicily’s most westerly headland.

middle sea race courseThe 608-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race has a bit of everything – and sometimes a lot of wind. Rambler is now on the Pantelleria-Lampedusa stage, tearing along at up to 26 knots in a mighty west to northwest wind.

It was the IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss (Alex Thompson & Nin O’Leary) which went most determinedly to the northwest. They’d actually arrived at Stromboli at a time when a neat rounding had become possible, but knowing their very special boat’s notable lack of enthusiasm for tacking duels and windward work generally, they slugged on for many miles on port tack until they could hope to lay Favignana without having to tack again.

It was a tactic which worked a treat, and now while the bulk of the fleet are still bashing it out in rugged weather north of Sicily, Hugo Boss is screaming along at 24 knots and more from Favignana towards the next turn at Pantellaria, third on the water to Leopard which is slower at 22 knots, while Rambler is already past Pantellaria and making 26 knots for Lampedusa, the final turn before the finish at Valetta.

The speeds being achieved by the three leaders could well invert the leaderboard’s former emphasis in smaller craft, which still have an awful lot of hard sailing to Favignana before they can let rip. Otra Vez (Brian Flahive & Sean Arrigo) had been well placed in the two-handed division, but now seems to signal retirement, however Xp-ACT with Barry Hurley and Shane Diviney in her crew is well-placed for the Favignana rounding, while Conor Doyle’s chartered Hydra has also made good progress along Sicily’s north coast.

But having seen small boats dominate the top placings early on, we now have the fascinating prospect of the three leading biggies carrying the strong favourable winds all the way to the finish at enormous speeds, and turning the results upside down.

rambler today3Here we go……Rambler starts to free off as she weathers Favignana at eight o’clock this morning. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

Tracker here

Published in Middle Sea Race

There is a time and a season to all things, and in some years, that time comes earlier than others. Ireland has been getting away with it in remarkable style in recent weeks, putting through 2017’s Autumn sailing fixtures in between some bouts of very extreme weather. But this weekend, it looks as though we have to accept that you can’t beat the system all the time. The big winds of winter are here. The likelihood of sailing anywhere, and particularly in today’s Freshwater Keelboat Regatta on Lough Derg for Squibs, Dragons, SB20s and Flying Fifteens and the Autumn League final day at Howth Yacht Club, will probably have been discounted in the face of Storm Brian. W M Nixon looks south for sunshine and sailing.

If asked to rank the international sailing events of which come centre stage this weekend for their public interest, the lineup would be top place for the Volvo Ocean Race starting from Alicante tomorrow, the 608-mile Middle Sea Race which starts today from Valetta in Malta would be in second, third would be the 37th Annual Student Yachting Worlds among the Frioul Islands off Marseilles, which conclude tomorrow after five days of racing, while the biennial 690-mile Hong Kong to Vietnam Race which is currently finishing would come fourth.

The Volvo Ocean Race’s pre-eminence is inevitable. It’s a big razmatazz-filled long-running event which will carry us right through the winter and on into June 2018, when the seven contenders will have girdled the world by both the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. They will fetch up to finish at The Hague in The Netherlands, right in the economic and political heart of the new Europe which may by then be emerging as Brexit takes shape, and the Volvo Ocean Race will make its own statement as representing a premier European brand of global status with dynamic Chinese connections.

However, before the proper show gets in the road tomorrow after the In-Harbour race this week, there have been the usual high dramas of a big-money event, with a relatively new Event CEO taking an early departure after his longterm plans proved to be a little too ambitious for the parent company, while one of the seven skippers was replaced in the week before the race because of a dispute about a budget over-run.

damian foxall2Damian Foxall – a significant presence in any major international sailing event

As for Irish interest, we’ve learned through of our people involved at many levels in both the overall administration and within the teams. But now that it’s down to the real thing, with the first leg getting under way tomorrow from Alicante in Spain round the Iberian peninsula and north to Lisbon in Portugal – a very interesting 1450 miles for racing – the focus is inevitably on the gladiators, the sailors on the Volvo 65 One-Designs, and especially on Ireland’s stars, Damian Foxall aboard Team Vestas and Annalise Murphy aboard Turn the Tide on Plastic.

Damian Foxall we know as part of world sailing’s essential structure. The boy from Derrynane has carved out an international role at the upper end of the really tough global events. We could spend the rest of this blog outlining his sailing achievements, and his increasing prominence in the environmental movement, but will content ourselves by saying that until Damian Foxall is somewhere in the lineup, any major ocean racing event lacks a certain credibility.

Annalise Murphy signs-up for Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic campaign? Well, that was sensational. The campaign is backed by a Portuguese-based foundation which at one stage owned the formerly-Irish Volvo Racer Green Dragon as the organisation developed its profile. But that became information which was only by-the-way as the full implication was realized of the new direction which had been taken in the life-path of Ireland’s winner of the Silver Medal in the 2016 Sailing Olympiad.

turn the tide3The Volvo Ocean 65 Turn the Tide on Plastic - a very different sailing proposition to a Laser Radial or a foiling Moth, but Annalise Murphy is game for the challengeThose who devote themselves to the Olympic route to the exclusion of everything else inevitably seem a bit one-dimensional. But early in the season of 2017, Annalise, had already emphasised an interesting extra dimension by becoming the Women’s International Foiling Moth World Champion in the mega-fleet Moth Regatta in Lake Garda. And then when the big signing for Turn the Tide on Plastics was confirmed, we’d clearly moved on from a tunnel-vision Olympian to an all-rounder whose capacity as a very highly-trained athlete is uniquely allied with true sailing talent.

It’s something which will certainly be tested to extremes in the weeks and months ahead, but for now the Volvo Ocean Race has seen much the most consistent build-up put in by the Spanish boat Mapfre, skippered by Xabi Fernandez. His CV includes an Olympic Gold Medal in the 49er and America’s Cup campaigns. While the Mapfre team were fourth in the previous Volvo, they showed real promise, and in 2017 they’ve been fastest out of the box, winning the very first encounter, their decidedly breezy race round the Isle of Wight in the midst of Cowes Week at the beginning of August.

mapfre dongfeng1The Volvo Ocean 65 Mapfre on her way to winning the race off Alicante in perfect conditions, with Donfeng chasing on port tack

Their longtime lead in the Fastnet Race was snatched away at the last moment, but they’ve always been in the frame, and in this week’s In Harbour race – obligingly sponsored by their parent firm – it was Mapfre which took the bullet.

So we go into tomorrow’s Leg 1 with Mapfre already the boat to beat. But with a course which includes all the vagaries of the western Mediterranean, all the problems of the Straits of Gibraltar, and the decidedly intriguing passage from the Straits to Lisbon, we’re going to know a lot more about the Volvo Seven within a few days.

Meanwhile, in the almost ludicrously picturesque Grand Harbour in Valetta, tension is humming in the buildup to the start at 11:00 hrs CEST of the 39th Rolex Middle Sea Race this morning, at 608 miles one of the world’s 600-plus offshore classics. And it’s as tricky a course as you’ll find in many year’s racing, going from Malta anti-clockwise round various islands of which Sicily is the largest, and then back to Valetta.

Along the way you’ve to deal with obstacles such as the Straits of Messina while becoming accustomed to seeing active volcanoes as part of the view. And as for the winds, they can be all over the place, and sometimes astonishingly savage.

endlessgame coastal5The Cookson 50 Endlessgame glides along off Valetta, on her way to winning Wednesday’s coastal race from 33 of the Rolex Middle Sea Race’s 110 contenders.

Irish Sea connections go all the way back to the first race of 1968, when Solly Parker, who based his hefty Sparkman & Stephens 40ft sloop Deb in Holyhead, was persuaded by offshore racing stalwarts such as Dickie Richardson and Alan Stead that this new race was a must-do - Deb should be in it for the honour of the Irish Sea.

sunstone in slings6Tom & Vicky Jackson’s famous Sunstone reveals herself. New-built by McGruer of Scotland as Deb in 1965, she was one of Sparkman & Stephens first fin-and-skeg designs, and sailed in the first Middle Sea race of 1968. Throughout the 1970s, she was a regular ISORA participant under the name of Dai Mouse III

The logistics of getting her there and back scarcely bear thinking about, and her showing was only very middling. For although Deb could maintain a very good average speed in steady conditions – she is now Tom & Vicky Jackson’s Sunstone, arguably the most famous wooden cruising yacht in the word – the Middle Sea Race tends to favour boats which can accelerate quickly, and attain colossal speeds when conditions are right.

Since the Great Deb Expedition, the Rolex Middle Sea Race has always been of interest to Irish and Irish Sea sailors, and we’re on a roll with it these days, as Ian Moore navigated the 2016 overall winner, the Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino, while in 2015 father-and-son crew Dermot and Paddy Cronin from Malahide won the two-handed division with their First 40.7 Encore, which was simply a sensational performance - there’s no other word for it.

paddy dermot cronin7Sensational! Paddy & Dermot Cronin of Malahide after winning the two-Handed Division in the 2015 Rolex Middle Sea Race.

The 110-strong fleet this year is as usual very eclectic, and exceptionally international with entries from Australia, New Zealand, the US, Chile, Lithuania and just about everywhere else you care to name, including countries which the rest of the world might think of as being involved in low key wars with each other, such as Russia and the Ukraine.

But then when you remember that ISORA was never more active than when the Troubles were at their height in the 1970s, then maybe offshore racing’s role in preserving civilised values in times of turmoil is something deserving of deeper examination. For although the competition may be fierce, there’s no greater symbol of peace than a racing yacht going about her harmless business.

With such a fleet, prediction is a real gamble, particularly as it’s expected to be light winds at first, with a fresher nor’wester spreading in on Monday. That looks to favour smaller craft, but as suggested, this is a race which is good for boats which accelerate rapidly and are capable of exceptional speeds, so the fact that George David’s Round Ireland Record-holding Rambler 88 is on the starting blocks is worthy of note.

sean arrigo and brian flahive8Among the favourites for the Two-Handed Division are Sean Arrigo of Malta and Brian Flahive of Wicklow

2016 champion Mascalzone Latino is away doing the Hong Kong to Vietnam Race with Ian Moore as navigator in the buildup to the Sydney-Hobart 2017 in December, and at time of writing she was leading IRC overall, so back in Malta it may well be that our best hope is in the two-handed division, where the hugely-experienced and successful Brian Flahive of Wicklow has teamed up with Sean Arrigo to race the J/122 Otra Vez. She’s a boat regularly in the frame in the Middle Sea race, and is the two-handed favourite.

In terms of glamour attention, the focus is on the IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss, with Alex Thomson and Nin O’Leary of Cork co-skippering. Mixed messages have been circulating about her crewing arrangements, and the best word we have is she’ll be doing it with four, as the two boyos will be joined by Will Jackson and Jack Trigger. There’ll be just those two extra, as there simply isn’t room for any more in that very focused little cockpit.

In a vid interview with The Times of Malta earlier this week, you gained the impression that Alex was doing the Middle Sea Race single-handed, but this more recent posting tells us Nin is definitely there:

Getting the very purpose-designed Vendee Globe racer Hugo Boss out of the narrow waters of Grand Harbour is going to be a bit of a challenge in itself. And as for competing in the quirky and often restricting Middle Sea Race in a vehicle which is at her magnificent best tearing along off the wind in the wide open spaces of the Great Southern Ocean, well, under any Horses for Courses Protocol, the Middle Sea Race might well come under Cruelty to Animals regulations……..

xp act9Wolf in sheep’s clothing…..the Xp44 Xp-Act has a strong Irish presence, and a successful race record

But we’ll be delighted to be proven very wrong. In another area of the fleet entirely, we have the reliable solidity of Barry Hurley, doing his fourteenth Middle Sea Race, and building on past successes by staying with the surprisingly quick “performance cruiser” Xp44 Xp-Act, owned by Joseff Schultels who co-skippers with Timmy Camilleri. They’ve lined up formidable talent with a strong Irish flavour, as it includes Barry Hurley (originally of Cobh) and Shane Diviney (Howth) as well as the exceptional international talent of Jochem Visser of Fastnet 2007 fame, and there’s a link to Round Irelands too, as Carlo Vroon of Tonnerre is on Xp-Act’s strength, while the former Round Ireland star, the Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens, is in this race, now known as Tonnere de Glen, and French-owned.

Also French-owned, but of special interest to Irish offshore aficionados, is the new Teasing Machine III for the ever-enthusiastic Eric de Turckheim of La Rochelle. A Nivelt-Muratet 54, she was launched from builders King Marine in Spain on July 6th, but seemingly there just wasn’t the time to get her completely race-ready for the Fastnet in August, so this morning will see her debut on the big stage.

teasing machine10The new Teasing Machine III, a Nivelt Murat 54, was launched in July

As for that remarkable wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing, the Xp44, we’ve additional interest here as ISORA’s Andrew Hall has chartered another of them, X-Prime. Indeed, charter is a strong theme this year, as Conor Doyle of Kinsale is into the fray with a Kinsale YC crew and the chartered DK 46 Hydra, a Mark Mills design of 2004 vintage.

hydra mark mills11Conor Doyle of Kinsale has chartered the Mark Mills-designed DK46 Hydra

For Irish crews chartering, it’s a very accessible event just when you need a dose of sunshine to face the winter. But the Middle Sea Race has an almost mythical appeal which draws them in from all round the world, with Australia represented by Ludde Ingvall’s extraordinary hyper-skinny maxi CQS, which is so narrow that she has to carry her shrouds on a modern version of the channels required by the old “plank-on-edge” gaff cutters. In fact, CQS looks for all the world like one hull of a catamaran with an enormous keel under it, and for the life of me I just can’t see the concept working.

cqs ingvall12The 100ft CQS – she looks for all the world like one hull of a catamaran with an enormous keel attached

More conservative yet capable of real speed at the top of the fleet is the 100ft Leopard, entered by Pascal Oddo of France, whose main purpose will be to finish ahead of Rambler. Rambler in turn may find herself nibbled at by some Maxi 72s, notably Dieter Schon’s Momo from Germany and George Sakellaris’s Proteus from the US.

With Cookson 50s still giving everyone a hard time, the presence of two of them will always have to be considered, and one of them – Endlessgame (Pietro Moschini) – has already put up a marker by winning the coastal race on Wednesday against 33 other boats.

crusader nz13She looks like a lot of fun – the Elliott 35 Crusader from New Zealand burning it off

As for the far travellers, New Zealand’s representative is the sporty 2012-built Elliott 35 Crusader, which looks like a lot of fun and is being skippered by Brett Elliott for owner Anthony Leigh. The Chilean entry Anita (Nicola Ibanez Scott) is a J/122 whose home club is listed as Puerto Williams YC. Puerto Williams is often the final port of call before departing for Antarctica. It’s not often you see an RORC entry list with PWYC named as home club, so we’ll keep a specially benign eye on Anita’s progress.

But as to the overall winner, it’s all wonderfully open. Maybe as much as a quarter of the fleet are in with a good chance. Now that really is sport.

anita chile14Shades of Shackleton - the J/122 Anita from Chile gives her home club as Puerto Williams YC

Moving on to Item 3 on our Agenda of Interest, the islands of he Frioul Archipelago off Marseilles where the Student Yachting Worlds are entering their finals stages are about as different in atmosphere as possible from Puerto Williams. But sailing is sailing the world over.

And after all, it was in the Student Yachting Worlds of 2008 that one Nicholas O’Leary of Cork Institute of Technology won this championship overall by 0.9 points and had his first taste of international fame. So maybe the current UCD team of all the talents skippered by Jack Higgins can continue their progress up the leaderboard and provide us all with good news tomorrow.

Finally, it looks as though Ian Moore and Mascalzone Latino have it in the bag for the IRC overall win in the Hong Kong to Vietnam Race. So what’s the big deal in a race with only 13 boats, even if it does entitle ML’s crew to go in the Sydney-Hobart? Well the fact that an offshore race is finishing in a country that seemed a hopelessly war-torn zone no so very long ago is important. But equally, China – Napoleon’s “sleeping giant” – is very much awake. And sailing, like everything else, will be hearing a lot more about China.

Published in Middle Sea Race
Page 4 of 9

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating