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Displaying items by tag: Middle Sea Race

#middlesearace – Irish interest in class four of tomorrow's Middle Sea Race in Malta centres on three boats inlcuding last year's winner Otra Vez, a J122 with Ireland's top offshore sailing duo Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive, the August winners of the Round Britain and Ireland race, as part of the hot J-boat crew. Aaron and Edward Gatt Floridia's J122 was the outstanding Maltese entry in last year's race and the first Maltese boat after time correction.

Another top Irish offshore ace Barry Hurley together with dinghy champion,Kenneth Rumball of the Irish National Sailing School, is racing onboard Xpact, an Xp44 in class three.

An Irish team, consisting of three ladies and seven gents, have entered a chartered Dufour 45 under Dublin skipper Cathal Drohan.  'DU4' is in class four for the 600–mile route around Malta and Sicily.  Repeat visitor Dermot Cronin's Encore, a First 40.7, is also back for the race in class four.

A Howth Yacht Club team has chartered the Beneteau First 40 'Southern Child', a Bruce Farr-designed cruiser-racer which will race in the IRC 4 class with a rating of 1.083.

HYC team captain Darren Wright and Colm Bermingham will be joined by Howth sailors Kieran Jameson, Frank Dillon, Paul Walsh, Michael & David Wright, Rick De Nieve, Jonny White and Will Murray.

Fellow HYC sailor Laura Dillon will also be competing in the event aboard the Sparkman & Stephens 41 'Winsome'.

This will be the largest fleet ever assembled in the 46 year history of the race. The vast majority of the competing yachts have now registered for the race and about 120 yachts, flying the flags of 24 countries, are set to take on one of the world's most awe-inspiring ocean race courses. Laid end to end, the fleet would form a line of impressive yachts, 1800 metres in length, twice as high as the Burj Khalifa.

Starting and finishing in Malta the 608-mile course around Sicily and its surrounding islands has stunning vistas throughout. The international fleet of yachts will be crewed by an astounding mix of Olympic, America's Cup and round the world sailors, as well as passionate amateur Corinthian sailors. Godwin Zammit. Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club, commented about the success of the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

"The interest in the race has been growing year on year and with entries up over 20% on last year's record entry, the Royal Malta Yacht Club has organised additional berths for competing yachts. In addition to the berths at the Royal Malta Yacht Club, yachts have been accommodated in Grand Harbour and other locations in Malta. Including family and friends of the competing crews, we estimate that well over a thousand people will be visiting Malta for the race. There are many reasons why the race is proving so popular, the Royal Ocean Racing Club has a long association with the race and it is now part of their season's points championship and many of the 18 yachts that have come from Great Britain are doing so for that reason and there is a strong contingent from Italy with 33 yachts visiting from our near neighbour. However, without doubt the most important influence on the success of the race is the prestige and prominence associated with our continued support of Rolex, for which the Royal Malta Yacht Club are extremely grateful."

The hot favourite for Line Honours is Igor Simcic's Maxi, Esimit Europa 2. The European team, led by three-time Olympic Gold medallist Jochen Schumann, will be attempting to take line honours for an unprecedented fourth occasion. Weather permitting, Esimit Europa 2 is capable of beating the course record; 47 hours 55 minutes and 3 seconds. Set by George David's American Maxi, Rambler in 2007.

In IRC 1, there is the mouth-watering prospect of two of the world's best Maxi 72s going head to head. Niklas Zennstrom's Swedish JV72 RAN V and George Sakellaris' American RP72, Shockwave are both crewed by world class professional sailors. Team Ran has won IRC One twice before but Zennstrom's team has never won the race overall. Shockwave will be competing in the race for the first time, George Sakellaris' team was in fine form earlier in the season, winning the RORC Caribbean 600 overall.

In IRC 2 last year's overall winner, Georgio Benussi's TP52, B2 skippered by Michele Galli, returns to defend the title. However, the Italian flyer will first and foremost be focusing on winning a highly competitive class including; Jens Kellinghusen's German Ker 51, Varuna, which won the gruelling Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race and Stefan Jentzsch's brand new hi-tech Carkeek 47, Black Pearl. There are a bevy of yachts in the class which will revel in heavy weather, Vincenzo Onorato's Italian Cookson 50, Mascalzone Latino, German Swan 82, Grey Goose and British Frers 94, Bristolian.

Last year, IRC 3 came to a dramatic conclusion with David Anastasi's J/133, Oiltanking Juno winning the class by under three minutes from Josef Schultheis and Timothy Camilleri's Xp-44, XP-ACT Bank Sails. Both yachts have some of Malta's best sailors on board and will be battling to win again. But IRC 3 is far from a two-horse race. The class of over 25 yachts has strength and depth, including the class winner of the 2014 Cape to Rio Race, Iskareen, co-skippered by Christiane Dittmers and Soenke Bruhns and Class winner of the 2014 RORC Caribbean 600, British Azuree 46 Sleeper, skippered by Jonty Layfield. Rear Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club, Arthur Podesta has competed in every edition of the race and will skipper his First 45 Elusive II BOV.

IRC 4 has over 30 entrants and is arguably the most competitive class. Eric Van Campenhout and Vincent Willemart's MC34, Azawakh has been in outstanding form this year. The Belgian team is currently leading the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Season's Points Championship, in which over 200 yachts have competed, The Rolex Middle Sea Race will be the last race of the series. Azawakh was specially shipped to Malta for the race. GYR Scarlet Oyster is a phenomenally successful yacht, having won class in the Rolex Fastnet Race and RORC Caribbean 600 on numerous occasions. For the Rolex Middle Sea Race, the Oyster 48, GYR Scarlet Oyster will be co-skippered by Ross Applebey and Andy Middleton.

The most successful Maltese yacht of the modern era will be racing in IRC 4. In 2011, Lee Satariano's J/122 Artie, co-skippered by Christian Ripard and with an all-Maltese crew, won the race overall. Artie will be returning to the race course this year with a real chance of winning. 

18 yachts will be competing Double Handed, a record for the race. Teams from Croatia, Great Britain, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, and Slovenia will take on the gruelling race with just two crew on board. Mikhail Agafontsev's Open 60, Oz is the largest yacht in the Double Handed Class. Alberto de Rossi's Elan 340, Pokekiakkiere, the smallest.

Published in Offshore

Fastnet – The 100 foot (30.47m) LOA monohull limit set by a number of the classic 600 mile races such as the Fastnet, Sydney Hobart and Middle Sea races has been lifted by the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Royal Malta Yacht Club for the 2015 editions of the Rolex Fastnet and Rolex Middle Sea Races. This will allow superyachts participating in the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series to compete.

The AORS consists of four events: the RORC Caribbean 600, the 2015 Transatlantic Race from Newport to the Lizard, the Rolex Fastnet Race and Rolex Middle Sea Race. Superyachts have always been eligible to race in the RORC Caribbean 600 and a number have entered for the west to east Transatlantic Race at the end of June/July 2015, organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron and New York Yacht Club in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club and Storm Trysail Club.

In previous editions of the Rolex Fastnet Race only monohulls of 100ft or less were eligible to win the coveted Fastnet Challenge Cup. In 2013 there were two monohulls at this upper limit of 100ft: Mike Slade's Farr 100, ICAP Leopard (GBR), and Igor Simcic's RP100, Esimit Europa 2 (SLO).

With a number of superyachts competing in the 2015 Transatlantic Race, such as Elena Ambrosiadou's, 289ft Dykstra/Perini Navi, Maltese Falcon, and Mariette, the 1915 Herreshoff classic, the increased LOA limit for the 46th biennial Rolex Fastnet Race will entice yachts over 100ft to enter and possibly win the Fastnet Challenge Cup, making for a spectacular race from Cowes, Isle of Wight in August 2015.

Rolex Fastnet priority for RORC members
"Another initiative in place for the Rolex Fastnet Race is to give RORC members priority when entering in January 2015," explains Nick Elliott, RORC Racing Manager. "The race was oversubscribed in 2013 within 24 hours of entry opening with many boats, including those of RORC members, having to go on a waiting list. To cope with demand, the Club increased the limit to 340, but with the 2015 Transatlantic Race from Newport to the Lizard having close to 60 boats and the Rolex Middle Sea Race breaking the 100 boat barrier, we can only envisage another scramble for places when entry opens at midday on the 12th January 2015," continues Elliott.

Published in Fastnet

#middlesearace – A record-breaking 123 yachts from more than 20 countries will cross the starting line of the Rolex Middle Sea Race on 18 October, reflecting the international stature of this popular offshore race organised by the Royal Malta Yacht Club.

The unprecedented number of entrants – a 24 percent increase over the 99 yachts competing in 2013 – includes boats from as far away as the United States and Australia along with thirteen yachts from Malta. More than 15 boats will compete for the first time.

The Line Honours favourite is Igor Simcic's Maxi, Esimit Europa 2, skippered by multiple Olympic and America's Cup winner Jochen Schumann. The 100ft canting keel maxi has taken line honour victories in the years from 2010 – 2012, becoming only the second yacht in the history of the RMSR to take it three times in a row.

Unable to compete in last year's edition due to damage suffered on the mast on their way to the race, the crew is returning with the goal of taking line honours for an unprecedented fourth occasion.

Now in its 35th year, the Rolex Middle Sea Race (RMSR) is a fixture in the season, ranking alongside the Rolex Fastnet, Rolex Sydney–Hobart and Newport-Bermuda as a "must do" race.

"For yet another year, the Rolex Middle Sea Race has grown in the number of boats that have committed to compete in this ever popular offshore race," said Godwin Zammit, Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. "There are a number of factors which contribute to the increase in participation. Naturally, the scenic yet challenging course plays a very important role, however one must mention the renowned hospitality that our Club offers its guests, which is spoken of highly by participants, often leading competitors to sign up simply through word of mouth recommendations.

Last, but not least, is our strong connection with other Clubs and our affiliation with the Royal Ocean Racing Club."

The event's fascination is largely drawn from its alluring, 608-nautical-mile racecourse – a rigorous anti-clockwise loop around Sicily which introduces numerous "corners" that present changing and complex meteorological shifts. The route includes the deep azure waters around Sicily including the Aeolian and Egadi Islands, as well as Pantelleria and Lampedusa. One of the most stunning vistas is Stromboli, the active volcano which is a course mark. Challenging, enchanting and historic, the Rolex Middle Sea Race starts in Malta's spectacular Grand Harbour at 11am on the 18 October.

"Security and safety of both racing teams and spectators has always been imperative for us and a number of procedures have been put in place. We have worked closely with the Armed Forces of Malta and Transport Malta to ensure that only authorised vessels authorised by the Race Committee will be allowed into the Grand Harbour.

Both entities will be present on the day to ensure that all procedures are strictly adhered to on the day", said Peter Dimech, Race Committee Chair and Principle Race Officer.

Supported by Rolex since 2002, the race commences and finishes in Malta. Winners will be announced throughout the week with an award ceremony wrapping up the week-long event on 25 October.

The Royal Malta Yacht Club thanks the general public for their co-operation in ensuring that all safety instructions issued by the relevant Authorities are adhered to, in order to ensure the safety of all concerned. Moreover, boats in the vicinity of the race courses are advised to navigate with caution and to keep a sharp lookout.

Published in Offshore

#rorcrmsr – The 606-mile yacht race takes place in the heart of the Mediterranean and covers one of the most beautiful courses in the world. Starting and finishing in Malta, the route includes the deep azure waters around Sicily including the Aeolian and Egadi Islands, as well as Pantelleria and Lampedusa. One of the most stunning vistas is Stromboli, the active volcano which is a course mark. Last year, a record 99 yachts took part and with less than two month to the start of the 35th edition, 69 yachts have already entered from 17 different nations.
"The entry level so far is very encouraging, we expect to have about the same number as last year but the club would love to see the entry list past the 100 mark for the first time, since the first edition of the race in 1968." commented Godwin Zammit, Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. "The quality of the entrants seems to be going up every year, amongst them we have sailors from all over the world; world champions, top professionals, as well as corinthian sailors. The Rolex Middle Sea Race is the highlight of the year for the Royal Malta Yacht Club and all of the competitors will be made very welcome at our clubhouse during the event."
The Line Honours favourite for the Rolex Middle Sea Race is Igor Simcic's Maxi, Esimit Europa 2, skippered by by multiple Olympic and America's Cup winner, Jochen Schümann. The 100ft canting keel maxi has taken line honour victories in the years from 2010 – 2012, becoming only the second yacht in the history of the Rolex Middle Sea Race to take it three times in a row. Last year, Esimit Europa 2 damaged their mast on the way to the race and was unable to compete but the Slovenian yacht, with a world class international crew is returning with the goal of taking Line Honours for an unprecedented fourth occasion.
The battle for the overall win after time correction is already developing into a fascinating competition. Niklas Zennström's Team Rán have won numerous blue ribbon offshore events and world championships but an overall win in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, has eluded them on three separate occasions. Niklas Zennström's latest Mini Maxi, Rán 5 will be competing in October and their immediate rivals on the water will include Roberto Tomasini Grinover's Mini Maxi Robertissima. Several other world class Mini Maxis are also expected to be competing.
A Cookson 50 has won the Rolex Sydney Hobart, Rolex Fastnet Race and the RORC Caribbean 600 but the canting keel flier has yet to win the Rolex Middle Sea Race overall. This year, three Italian Cookson 50s will attempt to change that statistic. Guido Paolo Gamucci's Clippa Lippa and Germana Tognella's Cantankerous have raced before but Vincenzo Onorato's Mascalzone Latino will be making their first appearance with Volvo Ocean Race winner, Jules Salter on board as navigator.
Three of the fastest yachts in this race should have a fascinating battle on the water. This August, Jens Kellinghusen's German Ker 51, Varuna was the overall winner of 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race and class winner for the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart. Varuna is being shipped to Malta especially for the Rolex Middle Sea Race, Round the world yachtsman, Guilermo Atadil will be navigating the German entry. Jascha Bach and Toni Guiu, Spanish TP 52 Balleria is en route from Barcelona, hoping to emulate last year's overall winner, TP52, B2. German Carkeek 47, Black Pearl will be making its debut at the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Skippered by Stefan Jentzsch, the all carbon flyer will have a stella crew including, Marc Lagesse, James Carroll, Peter van Niekerk and Luke Molloy.
Royal Malta Yacht Club member, Finis Pit will be racing his German Ker 53, Dralion with just two crew, already six yachts will be racing in the IRC Double Handed class including race veteran, Beppe Bisotto who will be racing his Venetian Fast 42, Atame.
Six majestic Swans will also be taking part this year, including Grey Goose of RORC sailed by Tobias Koenig. Swan 65. Eddie Craighill's Swan 65, Rebel Jaguar, will be skippered by Franck Petitgas. Dmitriy Samohin, President of the Russian Dragon Class will be racing Swan 60, Petite Flamme with Olympic and America's Cup helmsman, Andy Beadsworth as part of the crew. Monaco's Paul Basson will be racing his elegant Swan 46, Foreign Affair Two Handed. James McGarry's Scottish Swan 45, Eala of Rhu will be sailing to Malta having competed in the Swan 45 World Championship in Sardinia. Chris Frost's elegant Swan 36, Finola was launched in 1968, the fourth Swan ever built is still very competitive, having won class at the 2013 Swan European Championship, winning every race.
The Rolex Middle Sea Race attracts a variety of yachts including timeless classics such as the classic yawls, Tomahawk and Stormy Weather. Tomahawk was designed by Sparkman & Stephens as an ocean racer in 1938 and was sympathetically rebuilt to her original design by the present owner, Jamie Abdy Collins. Stormy Weather of Cowes was designed by Olin Stephens in 1934. In 1935 she won both the Newport-Bergen Transatlantic race and the Fastnet race. Stormy Weather has been owned by Christopher Spray, from the UK, for the past nine years. Tarquin Place, from Tasmania is the boat captain.
Entry for the Rolex Middle Sea Race closes on October 3rd 2014.

Published in Offshore
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#middlesearace – Offshore sailors Brian Flahive and Liam Coyne (from the Dun Laoghaire based double – handed First 36.7 Lula Belle) are part of the crew on the class 4 winning boat, Otra Vex in this year's Malta's Middle Sea race. A large Irish contingent are crewing on a variety of international entries in the race and two Irish Beneteau designs, Paddy and Dermot Cronin's First 40.7 Encore from Malahide and Tony Tennyson/Des Kelliher's First 44.7 Gallileo from the National Yacht Club (NYC) in Dun Laoghiare have finished the race, both racing in class four and finishing 23rd and 32nd respectively.

The Lulabelle pair also  from the NYC have crewed regularly on Otravex since last year and it's their second middle sea race on her. Coyne and Flahive also did the Rolex Giraglia Cup where they were third overall of 200 yachts.

Barry Hurley, Andrew Boyle and Philip O'Connor were crewing on the XP 44 X-Pact and came second in class two after a great tight race with Oiltanker Juno.

Dun Laoghaire sailing instructor Kenny Rumball was sailing on Comanchie Raider

IRC Four was the largest class taking part in the Rolex Middle Sea Race. 46 yachts from 10 different countries including Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, Malta, Russia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. 

Edward & Aaron Gatt Floridia's J/122, Otra Vez completed the 606-mile race at dusk on Day Five, after racing with a highly competitive fleet. Otra Vez has been announced as the winner of IRC Four. Rod Stuart's Scottish Elan 410, Eos was less than 2 minutes behind on corrected time and Renzo Grottesi's Italian X40, Pita Maha was just nine minutes behind Otra Vez.

The sound of clinking glasses and rousing voices filled the air today at the Royal Malta Yacht Club. Hundreds of competitors enjoyed the full hospitality of the club, sharing their stories with fellow competitors over a glass or two. After days and nights at sea, isolated from the outside world, the cosmopolitan crowd also enjoyed good food and excellent company.

The remaining yachts taking part in the Rolex Middle Sea Race are expected to arrive at the Royal Malta tomorrow. At 1500 on Day Six of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, 12 yachts are still racing.

Results here

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#offshore – Michele Galli's B2, a TP52 from Italy, has been confirmed as the overall winner of the 34th Rolex Middle Sea Race.

B2 is the first Italian yacht to claim the Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy since 2005, emerging victorious from the largest and one of the most competitive fleets in the race's 45-year history. Expertly guided by tactician Francesco de Angelis, B2 completed the 606-nm course on Tuesday afternoon in a little over three days. She was the eighth boat to cross the finish line in Malta.

On corrected time B2 was propelled to the summit of the overall leaderboard and with the chasing fleet thwarted by extremely light conditions between Pantelleria and Lampedusa and unable to win their race against the clock, her triumph was confirmed at the Royal Malta Yacht Club on Wednesday afternoon.

Success often tastes sweeter when it is hard fought. Not only did B2 see off the race's record 99-strong international fleet, peppered with outstanding boats and dexterous sailors, she overcame several technical issues during the race. "We lost all of our electronics, I think due to water entering the boat during the second night," explained navigator Nacho Postigo. "We tried everything to reboot the system, but it simply didn't work, all the displays went black. We were really worried about the last night, and therefore found a solution: we had all the cartography on a cell phone, and my smartphone is waterproof with a compass app. We combined both and attached the smartphone to the pedestal. In the end, it worked quite well." The impromptu solution forced the crew to rely more on their instinct, as Postigo closes: "We raced B2 like a dinghy and Francesco had to call the strategy almost completely blind - I don't think he had more than two hours sleep!"

De Angelis preferred to reflect on the relentless effort of the crew composed of ten Italians and two Spaniards. "It was a difficult race, the first time this team has done a race this long together. To arrive ahead of almost 100 boats is a great achievement." Sailing an all out racing boat like a TP52 is not necessarily the most relaxing way to experience the race. "We are very tired!," admitted de Angelis, "comfort is not really associated with a TP52 and we experienced everything: light, medium and some strong wind. Technically and physically it was a very challenging race. The key was not losing ground in the difficult moments or getting blocked during periods of light air."

At 15:30 CEST on Wednesday afternoon, 23 boats had completed the race, 75 were still sailing and there had been just one retirement.

Note: Morning Glory (GER) claimed line honours yesterday. Crossing the finish line at 04:02.19 CEST on Tuesday morning, the 86-ft Maxi skippered by Kristina Plattner, completed the 606-nm course in 2 days, 16 hours, 12 minutes and 9 seconds. Her elapsed time still some 16 hours slower than the current race record.

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#offshore – Kristina Plattner's Z-86, Morning Glory has enjoyed fresh breeze along the west coast of Sicily but not enough to have a chance of breaking the course record writes Louay Habib. Morning Glory needs to finish the race before midday but is likely not to cross the line at around midnight. At 0900 on Day Three, Morning Glory was still leading on the water, just ten miles ahead of Andres Soriano's Mills 72, Alegre. JV72, Robertissima III, skippered by Vasco Vascotto is six miles behind Alegre. Both of the Mini Maxis can still threaten the leader for Line Honours.

Whilst Morning Glory is expected to be the first boat to finish, there is always a huge reception for the first Maltese yacht to return to the Royal Malta Yacht Club. This year, a record number of 13 Maltese yachts are competing. Edward & Aaron Gatt Floridia's Otra Vez is leading the local boats, just 15 minutes ahead of Lee Satariano's Artie-RTFX at Stromboli.

At 0900 this morning, Alex Thompson's IMOCA 60, Hugo Boss has a nine mile lead over Gaes, co-skippered by the Spanish duo of Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin. The two IMOCA 60s have enjoyed a close battle for the last 440 miles of racing and will be enjoying the amazing scenery as they round the beautiful island of Pantelleria.

All of the competing yachts have now passed the impressive active Volcano, Stromboli.

IRC OVERALL at Stromboli
Alegre – Andres Soriano (GBR)

Alegre passed Stromboli nearly 24 hours ago, in the early hours of Day Two. All yachts racing have now passed this way point and the British Mini Maxi was leading the race overall.

Since Stromboli, the larger high performance yachts found enough wind to escape the light winds north of Sicily but the heavy displacement and smaller yachts have not. The conditions for the first two days suited the heavy displacement yachts but the high performance light weight yachts are reaping rich rewards for making the fresh breeze west of Sicily.

A windless zone developed near Stromboli and over night, the bulk of the fleet were becalmed. Effectively there had been a re-start for these yachts at Stromboli. However spirits are high, even though progress literally ground to a halt overnight.

IRC Double Handed at Stromboli
TWT UComm - Marco Rodolfi (ITA)

The double handed class is being dominated by the powerful Class 40, TWT UComm. The Italian yacht skippered by Marco Rodolfi, who also owns the highly successful Swan 80 Berenice, has Matteo Auguadro on board, one of Italy's finest sailors. Matteo has competed in the America's Cup, World Match Racing Tour and is a winner of the Rolex Mini Maxi World Championship.

Racing in IRC Double Handed, Georges Bonello Dupuis reported from on board Escape with Tommy Hilfiger. The former Royal Malta Yacht Club Commodore is sailing with Shaun Murphy.

"We came out of Messina like we had been shot out of a cannon!" exclaimed George. "30 knots of wind from behind and we were sitting at 12 knots of boats speed for a long time. I have never experienced that in my life. Excitement turned to near disaster though as, the halyard let go and the spinnaker fell into the water. It took the two of us a lot of back-breaking work to recover it, repack it and re-hoist, but that is what double handed sailing is all about; it is a challenge that we love to take on. Right now we have come to a virtual stop in no wind, I can count 64 yachts around us and we are enjoying a simple dinner, watching the sunset set to the west with Stromboli to the east and the Aeolian Islands to the south. We have the best table in the house!"

IRC ONE at Favignana
Alegre - Andres Soriano (GBR)

Leader on corrected time at Favignana was British Mills 72, Alegre. Marton Jozsa's Hungarian RP60, Wild Joe had a great leg to the north west corner of Sicily deposing the Italian JV72,Robertissima down to third in class. With over half the race completed, the chance of one of these three yachts winning the race overall after time correction is constantly improving.

IRC TWO at Favignana
B2 - Michele Galli (ITA)

At 0900 on Day Three, Michele Galli's B2 was approaching Pantelleria, 215 miles from the finish. On corrected time the Italian team was an hour ahead of their Italian rivals at Favignana. However, Roberto Lacorte's Baltic 65, Nikka 65 is very close behind. Both yachts have an identical rating. The first to cross the line is likely to win the class and have a very good chance of an overall win. Germana Tognella's Italian Cookson 50, Cantankerous was in third place at Favignana, threatening the leaders.

IRC THREE at Stromboli
Lilla - Simon De Pietro (IRL)

Simon De Pietro's scarlet 76 foot sloop, Lilla was leading the class at Stromboli. The multinational crew have tasted offshore honours before, winning class at this year's RORC Caribbean 600. The much travelled yacht has a highly experienced crew and the slow down after Stromboli has given the beautiful classic yacht some advantage, due to its lower rating. Amanda Hartley's Spanish Swan 56, Clem dropped to second place but is only 5 minutes off the lead and James Blackmore's South African Swan 53, Music is in third.

IRC FOUR at Stromboli
Infanta-Freddie Hall (GBR)

Infanta may have lost the overall lead but the classic British yawl is still winning her class at Stromboli. Gherardo Maviglia's Roman Oceanis 430, Amapola has shot up the leader board into second in class whilst Genovese Sun Fast 3200, Hakuna Matata is third in class at Stromboli.

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#middlesearace – The Royal Ocean Racing Club has been a supporter of the offshore Rolex Middle Sea Race for over 50 years and the 35th edition of the race has a record entry of over 111 yachts writes Louay Habib. For the first time the 606-mile race, starting and finishing in Malta, is included in the RORC Season's Points Championship and a number of boats are attending the event with the aim that their results could affect the final standings.  Two Irish yachts are entered in the race.
"The Royal Ocean Racing Club were co-founders of the race with the Royal Malta Yacht Club in 1968 and the Rolex Middle Sea Race is an important event in our calendar. Therefore the RORC Committee concluded that it should be included in the Season's Points Championship," commented RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen.
This, the last race of the RORC Season's Points Championship, could affect the results in two IRC classes. Derek Saunders' CM60, Venomous, is currently lying second in IRC Zero for the season but a good result in the Rolex Middle Sea Race could see the British boat secure the class ahead of the current leader, Harm Prins' Dutch Volvo 60, Pleomax. Two production yachts have made the long journey to Malta from the Solent to take part in the race. RORC Admiral, Andrew McIrvine's First 40, La Réponse, and past RORC Commodore, Peter Rutter racing Grand Soleil 43, Trustmarque Quokka. Whilst neither yacht will be able to overtake Géry Trentesaux's Courrier Vintage to win IRC Two they have a chance of taking second place overall. The two boats have enjoyed a close rivalry over many months and the final score will be settled in Malta.
The overall winner of the Rolex Middle Sea Race is decided by the best corrected time under IRC and currently 96 yachts will be racing in four classes using the Spinlock IRC rating system.
One of the favourites to win the Rolex Middle Sea Race overall under IRC could be Andres Soriano's Mills 72, Alegre. This innovative and latest Mini Maxi to be launched will be taking part in its first long distance offshore race. Alegre's navigator Will Best explained why an overall win is so difficult to achieve.
"We will have a hard enough time just winning our class," commented Will. "Hugo Boss will be difficult to match off the breeze in more than 15 knots and Esimit Europa 2 could get away in the light and possibly into another weather pattern. Nobody can predict the overall winner, there are many well sailed boats in other classes and they can have a totally different weather scenario. The ideal conditions for Alegre would be a stable weather pattern, where we all get the same conditions on the course. We just hope we get the right conditions for Alegre and we sail the boat as well as we can but racing under IRC on this course makes it wide open. Any boat that sails well and gets the right conditions is in with a chance."
Although the Rolex Middle Sea Race attracts some of the world's top professional teams, the last two editions have been won by Corinthian entries. In 2012 Eddie De Villiers' Royal Cape Yacht Club team, racing Hi Fidelity, was victorious. In 2011 the whole island was celebrating as Lee Satariano and Christian Ripard's Artie-RTFX, with an all-Malta team, were the overall winners. Neither yacht had a big budget campaign and

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#middlesearace – Two Irish Beneteau designs, Paddy and Dermot Cronin's First 40.7 Encore (IRL8407) and Tony Tennyson/Des Kelliher's First 44.7 Gallileo (IRL 1944) from the National Yacht Club are already entered for the 34th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, starting and finishing in Malta. The race is once again attracting yachts from all over the world to the Royal Malta Yacht Club writes Louay Habib. Less than two months before the start, yachts from 16 nations have already entered including Ireland. Cayman Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel,, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States of America are also slated.

"Since the online entry system opened in January, 62 yachts have entered, which is more than the same time last year. 2012 was a record entry of 82 yachts and the club is hoping to achieve at least that number." confirmed Godwin Zammit, Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. "However, the satisfaction of our competitors is more important than their number. The Royal Malta Yacht Club is working tirelessly, making sure that our guests have a memorable visit to Malta."

Igor Simcic's powerful Canting Keel Maxi, Esimit Europa 2, will be back to defend last year's Line Honours win and will be hoping to be the first yacht to cross the line at the Royal Malta Yacht Club for an unprecedented fourth time in succession.

"The final challenge for the Esimit Sailing Team in 2013 sailing season is the Rolex Middle Sea Race." confirmed the European team's web site. "The race is recognized as one of the most picturesque races in the Mediterranean; the Strait of Messina, rounding the active volcano Stromboli, the Egadi Islands, Pantelleria and Lampedusa, with the finish in Malta's capital Valletta. Esimit Sailing Team crowned the 2012 sailing season with yet another brilliant success, and became only the second yacht in the history of the Rolex Middle Sea Race to take line honours three times in a row, for 2013 a new milestones can be set."

This year the entry for the Rolex Middle Sea Race already boasts a number of high profile performance yachts, including Alex Thompson's dazzling IMOCA 60, Hugo Boss and Andre Soriano's new head-turning British Mini Maxi, Alegre. Andres Soriano's previous yacht, also called Alegre, has won both Line Honours and the race overall.

Eight magnificent Swans are already entered, racing in a variety of classes, and also aspiring to win the prestigious Swan Challenge trophy, designed by Royal silversmith, Asprey. Once again, the Russian Sailing Federation is supporting the race and ten Russian yachts have already entered; the largest fleet from any single nation.

Andrew McIrvine, Admiral of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, will be competing with First 40, La Reponse. " I have only competed in the race once before but this will be the first time with my own boat." commented Andrew. "I am taking a break from work and will be cruising La Reponse in the Mediterranean before racing in the ARC to take part in the Caribbean season. Of all the Mediterranean races, the Rolex Middle Sea Race was top of my list. It is one of the most scenic offshore races anywhere in the world and also very challenging. This year, the Rolex Middle Sea Race is part of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Season's Points Championship and taking part gives us a chance to secure second place in our class."

Malta has a seafaring tradition dating back hundreds of years and the Rolex Middle Sea Race is the most prestigious international sporting event in Malta. Winning the race, against world class international opposition, is every Maltese sailors dream. Lee Satariano and Christian Ripard's J/122, Artie RTFX finally won the race in 2011 and will be competing this year with an all Maltese crew. Lee Satariano describes how it feels to win the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

"It's a moment to enjoy - it is a dream come true. The fleet has grown bigger, the competition is tremendous. The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a beautiful track. The race is one you can never forget -every year something challenges you to go back out and enjoy the race."

Published in Offshore

#sailorofthemonth – Barry Hurley is the Afloat.ie/Irish Independent October "Sailor of the Month" to mark his victory last weekend in the two-handed division in the 606-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race out of Malta with his JOD 35 Dinah.

Hurley (32), originally from Cobh, had a very capable shipmate with him in the form of Andrew Boyle, who has raced several times on major events as the No 2 on Dinah. But the adjudicators felt that as it was Barry Hurley's dedication and determination which ensured that Dinah was in full racing trim and ready to go in the record fleet in this year's Mediterranean marathon, the success was primarily his personal achievement.

He has been Sailor of the Month before, back in June 2009 when he won his class with the same boat in the Single-Handed Transatlantic Race. In fact, single handed racing is very much his thing – back in June this year, when the Irish sailing community was mainly focused on the Round Ireland Race, three boats raced out of Galway on the inaugural 750-mile Round Rockall Race, and Dinah with Hurley won the two boat solo division from Jamie Young of Mayo in the Frers 49 Killary Flyer.

For most sailors, battling out round Rockall would be enough for any one season. But Dinah's owner-skipper has shown his determination by getting his boat out to the Med and ready to race in what is now firmly established as Malta's primary annual maritime event. Indeed, at the prize giving, Malta's Tourism Minister Mario de Marco described it as Malta's most prestigious international event full stop.

This time round, 83 boats crossed the starting line, and after a race plagued by light winds, but with a mighty thunderstorm which provided more than enough wind for one section of the fleet, the overall winner was the Welbourn 46 Hi Fidelity (Eddie de Villiers, South Africa).

The five boats in the two-handed division went right down to the wire, as the race has a seven day time limit, and though Hurley and Boyle knew they were in with a shout for their class win as they came towards the finish line last Saturday, in the end they only had 25 minutes to spare before time ran out.

For Hurley, it was "the most intense" race he has ever sailed. The Irish ambassador to Malta, Jim Hennessy, was there with supporters to welcome them in to an emotional finish as they beat the clock by that crucial 25 minutes, which enabled them to take a clear corrected time win of six hours in the two-handed division.

Page 7 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

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