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Displaying items by tag: Cathal Drohan

#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

Both Irish skippers who retired from the Rolex Middle Sea Race that finishes today at the Royal Malta Yacht Club have described the 'vicious' conditions encountered in the Mediterranean this week. The fleet suffered several knowdowns and at least one man overboard but the bulk of the fleet were safely secured in either Marsamxett Harbour this morning with just two racing. 15 had retired.

Last night Dun Laoghaire's Cathal Drohan, sailing his third Middle Sea Race on the X41 Legally Brunette, spoke of 40 knots squalls and visibility near shipping lanes being reduced to five or six boat lengths.

"The boat was well founded and we had a great crew but after five days racing we were looking at a further long stretch of sailing and a severe forecast". Drohan told Afloat.ie from Malta.

All skippers in the race were mindful of the safety of crews given one sailor had been seriously hurt in a knockdown in a heavy squall.

The Royal Malta Yacht Club has calculated the winners and these are set out below.

Barry Hurley sailing on the Maltese yacht Aziza sent the following back to Afloat.ie after the yacht retired: 

"We were sailing in sustained low 30knts all day Tuesday and encountered several vicious squalls, often adding up to 20 knots to the average windspeed. Such squalls are common in the area and always play a significant part in the Middle Sea Race. By Wednesday morning the seas had grown substantially and rounding Pantelleria we received an updated weather forecast for sustained mid 40's on Wednesday afternoon. We believe we were lying 4th overall at that stage so were keen to press on, but faced with the prospect of potential 60's in the squalls we made the decision to retire into Pantelleria in the interest of safety. A few hours later an Italian X Yacht came in alongside needing medivac for a crew member seriously hurt in a knockdown in just such a squall, so our decision was vindicated. A somewhat disappointing end to another fantastic Middle Sea Race, but for now it's back home to Dublin until the Sydney Hobart race in December".

Press Release from organisers:

ROLEX MIDDLE SEA RACE CLASS WINNERS CONFIRMED
October 28, 2010

If the early miles of the Rolex Middle Sea Race were a test of patience, the latter miles were a true test of endurance. A strong mistral of up to 40+ knots helped push the fleet homeward to the finish in Malta. The last two yachts, Zizanie and Amethyst Abroad, were around the island of Lampedusa and racing towards the finish line off the Royal Malta Yacht Club. The two boats showed heaps of perseverance for hanging in, even if the northwesterly breeze had subsided to a 'mere' 25+ knots.

Meanwhile the bulk of the fleet were safely secured in either Marsamxett Harbour or around the corner in Grand Harbour Marina, and the overall class standings were sorted as the last boats trickled in.

IRC Overall – Lucky (USA)

IRC 1 – Esimit Europa 2 (SLO)

IRC 2 – Lucky (USA)

IRC 3 – Jaru (MLT)

IRC 4 – Artie (MLT)

ORC Overall – Jaru (MLT)

ORC 1 – E1 (RUS)

ORC 2 – Varuna (GER)

ORC 3 – Jaru (MLT)

ORC 4 – Three Sisters (CZK)

Double Handed – BOV Plain Sailing (MLT)

Racing offshore double handed is not for the faint-hearted. It requires all-round seamanship, determination, stamina and above all courage. At the 606-nautical mile Rolex Middle Sea Race, the Double Handed Class is somewhat under the radar with only three entrants, but this year's competitors were a diverse and experienced group.

Taking line honours in the Double Handed Class was White Star, a custom 54-footer, which finished yesterday afternoon with an elapsed time of 4 days, 6 hours, 44 minutes, and 18 seconds. But the Italian boat would have to wait until today when BOV Plain Sailing finished, to see who would win on corrected time.

White Star's crew were experienced double handed sailors Diego Tisci and Daniele Chiamenti; Tisci is a veteran of eight Rolex Middle Sea Races, Chiamenti several as well, but this is the first double handed Middle Sea for either of them. An Italian owner built the yacht and is entering it in double handed races as a way to showcase its' potential.  As Tisci said, "This was the first race of a new program for the boat. It was like a test; so we see how the yacht goes, how we have to optimize that and the crew.

"We had a problem at the start and we broke the jib, this is why we stayed far to the east on the way to Messina. We could only use the staysail and code zero, which doesn't allow you to sail very close to the wind – that's why we had a very strange track! At the end that was the best we could do. Around Stromboli, we didn't have much wind and again it was difficult to go to weather without the proper headsail.

Chiamenti explained, "After that the race was very strategic. But our strategy was based on the sails that we had, not on the wind!" When the forecast coincided with this strategy, White Star was in good shape. From Trapani on, the northwest breeze allowed them a favourable point of sail. To add to their woes, White Star lost instruments as well. The two sailors estimated maximum wind speed at approximately 35 knots; but off the wind, and with a staysail set, they were good to go.

Asked about the best part of sailing double handed, Tisci said with a smile "I think the team.

But really, I like sailing short-handed. It's nice to be at sea. You don't have to argue about what you think is right or wrong; it's your race, just yours. You aren't a wheel in a big mechanism; you are only the mechanism. And we take all decisions together."

The two concurred about the course, and Chiamenti said, "For sure it's the best race in the Mediterranean. It's very tactical, and the panorama is great. You've got a volcano, you've got the Messina Strait, and the time of year is great, it's not too cold, not too warm.

The 34-footer, BOV Plain Sailing, crossed the line midday on Thursday after five days, zero hours and 52 minutes at sea. Their corrected time was good enough to give the Maltese boat the Double Handed Class overall win.

Maltese sailing veteran, skipper/owner Anthony Camilleri is no stranger to the Rolex Middle Sea Race, sailing in his tenth race. But his crew, Gilbert Azzopardi has never raced two-handed before and neither has the boat. The Tango 34 is the smallest and lightest boat of the 76 yachts that started the race.

Camilleri spoke dockside after completing the race, "I am delighted that we have won, but first and foremost, I must give a mention to Bepe Bisotto, skipper of Atame. We had a great battle, often side-by-side, but when we developed a problem with the reefing lines of our mainsail, he offered to stop and help. That offer of assistance shows the spirit of our discipline, we look after each other.

"Probably the lowest moment in the race was the last night. We were tired and the weather was really bad, up to forty knots of wind on the beam, with six metre waves crashing into the cockpit. We took down the mainsail and continued under storm jib alone, it was the hardest part of the race. This race is one of contrasts and the previous day the sailing was spectacular. Downwind with the spinnaker up, we were surfing at a constant 12 knots, at times accelerating to 18 knots. It is an amazing feeling with just the two of us, a very special moment."

Last night, the Fast 42 Atame pulled into Trapani to get a respite from the relentless wind and sea.  Beppe Bisotto emailed, " 'Ad impossibilia' (it's impossible), as the Latins say. Ian (Knight) and I shared the same thinking. Outside, a Force 8 gale is blowing hard from the north. No way to pass Favignana island, as we had been stopped for ten hours with no wind. We missed the wind shift, blowing at SW Force 7 straight into the face, with forecast predicting force 8 on the back.  More than this, to Pantelleria Force 7 SW on the nose was forecast. So, surrounded by gales, we decided to stop and avoid any possible damage.  Do not forget that we were only two- handed instead of a full crew of eight to ten. By the way, we are happy to have raced faster than many bigger boats with full crew! Atame is definitely solid, fast, and reliable."

Only the x40 Pita Maha (ITA), retired today, bringing the total number of retired boats to 15, with 58 boats finished, and two still racing.

 

Published in Offshore

Whilst the major noise surrounding the 2010 Rolex Middle Sea Race will resonate around Esimit Europa 2's anticipated assault on the course record, there is much more to the race than the maxi component. Ireland is to have at least one entry in the form of repeat Dun Laoghaire contender Legally Brunette. 

Cathal Drohan and Paul Egan are the owners of  the Royal St George Yacht Club entry and the X41 will be skippered by Cathal Drohan for the race. The crew for the race are scheduled to be John Hall, Philip Doyle, Matt Patterson, Philip Allen, Susan McGrath, Susan Delany, Anna Egan, Niall O hEalaithe.

The Maltese participation is a crucial element in the success and popularity of the race. After watching foreign yachts secure overall victory in seven out of the eight races so far sponsored by Rolex, there is a feeling amongst the locals that it is time to redress the balance. When the 606-nautical mile race starts on 23 October, there will be a veritable posse of Maltese yachts chasing the seemingly elusive crown.

One of those yachts is even named Elusive II; the weapon of choice for Arthur Podesta, a thirty-time veteran of the race, which is now approaching its 31st edition. Podesta's record is enviable. No other major 600-nm offshore course – Rolex Fastnet, Rolex Sydney-Hobart or Newport-Bermuda – can boast a participant that has competed in every race since its inception. Immensely proud of his continuing achievement, which includes being a three-time winner as crew, Podesta takes nothing for granted and is happy enough to make the start-line each year. Do not confuse that with lack of ambition. Podesta and his crew, which usually has its backbone formed by his three children - Maya, Aaron and Christoph - push as hard as anyone for the win. In 2008, they finished third overall, a mere forty-minutes off the corrected time pace.

Another family affair involves the last Maltese winners and a family name synonymous with the colourful history of Malta's flagship sailing event. In 2002, John Ripard Jr and Andrew Calascione sailed Market Wizard to first overall. This year they are back again, with a neat twist as Ripard explains, "my brother-in-law Andrew Calascione and I will co-skipper Andrew's very recent acquisition Jaru, which is a J-133. We'll have with us a crew comprised almost entirely of direct family, being: my two sons, Sebastian and Thomas; Andrew's two sons, Daniel and Marc; plus, my sister Rachel's son, Luke Scicluna, and, my sister Erika's son, Sam Pizzuto. My father, John Ripard Sr [winner of the inaugural race in 1968], will have six grandchildren on the same boat!" The remaining three crew are Benji Borg, Sebastian Ripard's 49er Olympic campaign partner, John Santy from the UK and an Australian, Jordi Smith.

Another local with an eye on the main prize is Jonas Diamantino embarking on his tenth race and, once again, with Comanche Raider II Gasan Mamo. Diamantino exudes optimism ahead of each race; firmly believing he has the crew and the boat should the conditions favour them. This should not be seen as making excuses ahead of game-time for a poor finish. However good the handicap system, there is always an element of chance that the weather conditions will suit one end of the fleet or the other. That is the accepted nature of long-distance yacht racing. In recent years the big boats have held the upper hand. 2008 provides the sole glimmer of hope since 2002 for the smaller yachts, when the First 40.7, Spirit of Ad Hoc, took the crown.

Also in the same camp as Diamantino is Jonathon Gambin, with Ton Ton Surfside. Gambin sees nothing wrong in aiming high; seeking to test himself and his crew each time they cross the start line. Sandro Musu and Aziza have also come close to the Holy Grail, finishing fifth overall in 2004. Musu is as excited as ever heading into his seventh straight race.

Kevin Dingli and Fekruna will be satisfied to make the start line after last year losing his rig just before his debut race as skipper. Caught by a truly destructive waterspout during the inshore warm-up race, Dingli thought his race was over until his friend Peter Vincenti offered up his yacht, Manana. Edward Gatt Floridia, who has tasted the glory of being onboard the first Maltese yacht to finish, is skippering Otra Vez Fexco, one of the smallest boats in the fleet, for the second time. Another member of the Ripard clan will be on Lee Satariano's J-122 Artie. Christian Ripard is a two-race winning skipper, once in 1996 and then again in 2001; coincidently, both times with J-Boats – maybe a good omen. Satariano, himself, came close to the ultimate prize in 2006, almost scooping the trophy from under the nose of the German maxi Morning Glory. Alfred Manduca and Allegra round out the Maltese roster.

Sonke Stein may be German, but he is as good as a local in the eyes of many. He and his exuberant crew, which includes seven Maltese, have been a feature of the race for a number of years. Stein loves the it, most of the time, and this year is entering a new boat, coincidently a J-133 just like Ripard and Calascione, "she's named Juno and though she is registered in Hamburg, she is based in Malta. We have raced the boat a couple of times and are very happy with her performance. The crew is still a majority of Maltese, comprising my old team mixed with some others from the J-125 Strait Dealer [winning boat in 2001] crew. With experience from my earlier J-105 Oh Jee and the experience from Strait Dealer added to it we are looking forward to the race."

Whatever the weather and whatever the eventual results, the Maltese crews may expect a crescendo of noise to match any surrounding their more celebrated foreign-counterparts. The crowds lining the Valletta bastions at the start and the Royal Malta Yacht Club deck at the finish will make sure of that.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race commences on Saturday, 23 October 2010. Entries close on 15 October. The final prize giving is on Saturday, 30 October. George David's Rambler (USA) established the current Course Record of 47 hours 55 minutes and 3 seconds in 2007.

Published in Offshore

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