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Displaying items by tag: Malta

#middlesearace – Royal Irish Yacht Dinah from Dun Laoghaire is approaching the half way stage of the Rolex sponsored Middle Sea race this morning and is lying second in class in the 83-boat fleet. The yacht is heading west across the north coast of Sicily and making 5.6 knots.

As our exclusive onboard photo shows it's no longer just skipper Barry Hurley and crew mate Andrew Boyle on board, the Irish duo have been joined by a tired (but chirping) sparrow hitching a ride on the rail of the modified JOD 35 yacht.

'We're doing ok in our class although our main competition is now in different weather systems, so we need to work extra hard to keep in contention. Fingers crossed we have what it takes! Hurley told Afloat.ie

The tried and tested Irish craft has already claimed the Round Rockall race this July and it won an Ostar Transatlantic race in 2009. Light air conditions are prevailing for this race which started on Saturday.

'The last few days have been the slowest yet most intense racing I can remember. We dread the thought of being timed out after all this effort, but still cling to the hope of finishing within the time limit' he said.

The stress is somewhat compensated by the amazing scenery though admitted Hurley. 'After a night watching molten lava flowing down the side of Stromboli into the sea, we were treated to an amazing sunrise'

The other Irish entry Gallileo skippered by Des Kelliher with various crew from this year's ISORA series onboard retired from the race yesterday.

Late last night, Esimit Europa 2's skipper Jochen Schümann showered the Maxi crew with champagne dockside at the Royal Malta Yacht Club to celebrate taking Line Honours for the third consecutive year in the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Schümann has won Olympic Gold and The America's Cup but the ardour of the victory was etched on his face.

dinahposition

Dinah's latest position

"That was a tough one," explained Schümann. "We got caught up by Ran and Stig in the first parking lot at Stromboli but it was by no means the last. Our primary goal was line honours and it was impossible to relax during any part of the race. We are delighted to have taken line honours and finish of a great season in style."

It was nearly seven hours before Niklas Zennstrom's JV 72, Ran crossed the finish line, setting the bar for the rest of the fleet to achieve. Although this has been a slow race, Ran have put in a magnificent performance to lead a highly competitive Class 1 and lay claim to an overall win.

"Before the race we sat down as a crew and said this would be frustrating at times; at one stage we looked like we would finish on Friday and we only had food until Tuesday evening but we stayed together as a team and had plenty of time to tell a few more jokes over the last four days. Clearly we were racing Stig this race because we are very similar boats and we were very very close until the second half of the race when we managed to get away from them. But the fact that we had someone to race against made the race much more fun. We are in good shape for our class and in reality that is all that you can do and the rest is up to the conditions, so now we will have to see what will happen."

Whilst Esimit Europa are assured of Line honours and Ran look very likely to win Class 1, the overall winner is very much undecided. All of the yachts in contention are now past Favignana, which gives a good indication of the fleet's overall standings but only an indication. However, now that Ran has finished, we can state the exact time that others need to finish to beat their time.

In Class 4, Lee Satariano & Christian Ripard's J/122 Artie RTFX with an all Malta crew were leading their class and the Rolex Middle Sea Race overall at Favigana. To beat Ran's corrected time Artie RTFX need to finish on 26 October by 02:10:52.

The Class 3 leader, Josef Schultheis & Paolo Semeraro Xp44, XP-ACT was second overall at Favignana. On board are three Maltese crew; Sebastian Ripard, Timmy Camilleri and Zach Cassar Torregiani. To beat Ran's corrected time XP-ACT need to finish on 25th October by 20:32:22.

Third overall at Favignana and second in Class 3 was the Sicialian Mylius, Zenhea Takesha, skippered by Natale Lia. To beat Ran's corrected time Zenhea Takesha need to finish on 25th October by 14:04:25.

Fourth overall at Favignana and leading Class 2 was the South African entry, Hi Fidelity, skippered by Eddie De Villiers. To beat Ran's corrected time Hi Fidelity need to finish on 25th October by 11:14:39

Fifth overall and third in Class 3 was Jonas Diamantino's all Maltese crew on Comanche Raider II Gasanmamo. To beat Ran's corrected time Comanche Raider II Gasanmamo need to finish on 25th October by 19:58:29.

Other news from Maltese yachts on the race course; Arthur Podesta's Elusive 2 called into the media centre last night.

"We are approaching Favignana, managing just half a knot of boat speed. I recall that it took us seven days to complete the first race back in 1968 but in these modern boats, this is the slowest race I can remember. We are running low on luxury food, only one more egg and bacon fry up remaining and we have started to boil and bottle tank water just as a precaution. It is difficult to keep motivated when we are going so slowly and have few boats around us."

Jonas Diamantino, skipper of Comanche Raider II Gasanmamo called the media office at 0900 this morning; "Unfortunately we have an injury on board and also some sail damage. Ramon Sant Hill, my co-skipper has gashed his left hand, we have disinfected it and put 5 butterfly stitches in it, luckily it is not his drinking hand! Also we have damaged our Code Zero, a very useful sail at the moment that we did not have up for three hours."

Published in Offshore

#RESCUE - An Irish woman was rescued from rough Mediterranean seas while diving in Malta last week.

According to Gozo News, the 44-year-old got into difficulty on Tuesday evening while on a dive off Qbajjar on the Maltese island of Gozo.

Passers-by on shore notified local police who contacted the Armed Forces of Malta operations centre. Both a rescue helicopter and patrol boat were quickly dispatched to the location.

The woman was located by the helicopter and winched to safety with no reported injuries.

Published in Rescue
Tagged under

#DIVING - Deep sea diver Sean McGahern is currently attempting the world record for cold water open sea diving in Malta.

The Times of Malta reports that McGahern - who was born in England but raised in Ireland before moving to Malta 17 years ago - entered the water at the Starfish Diving School before midnight last night, hoping to break the standing record of 11 hours and 46 minutes.

His previous attempt at the record was ended little more than an hour short of the record due to bad weather, but today's clear forecast has buoyed his confidence.

McGahern plans to pass the time by cleaning the seabed, assisted by a team of 16 safety divers, but he also intended to catch some sleep below the depths.

“I’ve slept underwater before," he said. "it’s not as difficult as you might think.”

McGahern, who previously held the warm water open sea dive record, is undertaking the challenge for Dar tal-Providenza, a home for the disabled on the Mediterranean island.

Published in Diving
Ireland has ranked fifth in a new Europe-wide report on bathing water quality - but some beaches in Northern Ireland are falling short of strict EU standards.
MEP Jim Higgins welcomed the results of the annual Bathing Water Report for 2010, saying: "Ireland's scenic attributes are a primary reason for attracting tourists and it is essential that our coastal and inland bathing sites are also enticing."
Ireland has moved up five places from its overall rank of 10th in 2009, with 90.1% of all bathing water sites meeting the EU's Blue Flag guidelines for water quality at beaches and swimming spots.
However, the Daily Telegraph reports that a number of beaches in Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK were judged to be 'poor'.
Beaches at Newcastle and Ballyholme in the North are among 16 across the UK that did not pass the EU's strict checks for Blue Flags.
The 2010 report ranks Cyprus as the cleanest bathing spot in Europe, with 100% of sites passing EU insspection. It was closely followed by Croatia with 97.3%, Malta at 95.4% and Greece at 94.2%.

Ireland has ranked fifth in a new Europe-wide report on bathing water quality - but some beaches in Northern Ireland are falling short of strict EU standards.

MEP Jim Higgins welcomed the results of the annual Bathing Water Report for 2010, saying: "Ireland's scenic attributes are a primary reason for attracting tourists and it is essential that our coastal and inland bathing sites are also enticing."

Ireland has moved up five places from its overall rank of 10th in 2009, with 90.1% of all bathing water sites meeting the EU's Blue Flag guidelines for water quality at beaches and swimming spots.

However, the Daily Telegraph reports that a number of beaches in Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK were judged to be 'poor'.

Beaches at Newcastle and Ballyholme in the North are among 16 across the UK that did not pass the EU's strict checks for Blue Flags.

The 2010 report ranks Cyprus as the cleanest bathing spot in Europe, with 100% of sites passing EU insspection. It was closely followed by Croatia with 97.3%, Malta at 95.4% and Greece at 94.2%.

Published in Coastal Notes
It's not just Ireland that has a love affair with this dinghy sailing class, Malta has become the latest country to launch the RS Feva class, with a sixteen boat fleet recently delivered and more expected in the coming months. Following evaluation of boats suitable to provide a pathway from entry level sailing to bigger youth dinghies, the spearhead Maltese Birzebbuga Sailing Club selected the Feva and asked Paul Debono of Fairwind Sailing to become an RS dealer to co-ordinate the orders and import the boats.

Paul Childs, a qualified instructor from RS Sailing, visited Malta to run an initial coaching weekend, helping to set up the boats and introduce the young sailors to Feva sailing techniques. "As usual, the kids were really excited about the Fevas and they had a brilliant time on their first weekend" he reports. "Some of them are clearly already talented young sailors and I reckon we'll see some of them heading towards the top of the class pretty quickly. But the main thing is... they all had fun."

Adoption of the RS Feva class means Malta follows the pathway adopted by an ever increasing number of nations. The Feva can be used for training as well as racing, with the rotomoulded polyethylene construction system giving a durable and affordable boat. Young sailors are attracted by the performance, modern style and asymmetric spinnaker.

The 2011 RS Feva World championships, sponsored by Allen Performance Hardware and Magic Marine, take place in Holland in late July with entries expected to exceed last years 150 boat fleet from as far afield as Hong Kong.

You can find out more information about the growth of the RS Feva class in Malta by contacting Birzebbuga Sailing Club – www.birzebbugasailing.com and full details of the RS Feva can be found at www.RSsailing.com or the International Class Association at www.RSsailing.org .

Published in RS Sailing
Tagged under
A courtesy call to Dublin of a German Navy task force group over the St. Patrick's weekend has been cancelled due to humanitarian relief operations off Libya, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The task force comprising of two frigates FGS Brandenburg (F 215) and FGS Rheinland-Pfalz (F 209) and an auxiliary oil tanker FGS Berlin (A 1411) were due to dock at the port in the early hours of next Friday.

All three visiting vessels were to be made open to the public over the weekend while berthed alongside the Deep Water (Coal) Quay downriver of the East-Link Toll-Lift road bridge.

FGS Brandenburg is the leadship of the Type-123 'Brandenburg' class. For a photo of the 4,900 tonnes frigate arriving in the Grand Harbour in Valleta, the capital of Malta (in 2004) click here.

The 20,240 displacement tonnes FGS Berlin is also the leadship of her namesake class of auxiliary fuel replenishment/stores-ship. The 174-metre long Berlin class ship (see photo) also has the capability to convey containers. The last of the trio, FGS Rheinland-Pfalz (photo) is a Bremen class frigate of 3,680 tonnes.

Since the Libyan crisis started in late February, the Maltese capital has been frequently used as a strategic transitional hub-port for naval vessels, including several calls by the UK's Type 22 frigate HMS Cumberland (F85). Earlier this month the Type 42 destroyer HMS York (D98) was also conducted to assist fleeing UK and foreign nationals from Benghazi.

In addition to other navies, Valletta has been used by ferries chartered by governments to assist in the evacuation of thousands of fleeing foreigners, mostly from Europe, though many other emigrants from Africa and Asia remain stranded.

Published in Ports & Shipping

The group of boats that arrived at the finish line in Marsamxett Harbour this afternoon spent most of the 600 miles within reach of each other, and how they made some key tactical decisions along the way would make or break their results.

Dun Laoghaire's Legally Brunette is over the top of the Sicily and heading for home. Tonight at 2000 hours she was heading 122 degrees and doing seven knots. The screen shot  below from the race tracker shows the sole Irish boat (marked by a red box) in the top left hand corner.

legallybrunette

Vladimir Proshikin's chartered Volvo 70 E1 (RUS) crossed the finish line at 12.35 today, in fourth place on elapsed time. The Russian sailor, from St Petersburg competed last year on his Shipman 72, a performance cruiser/racer, quite the polar opposite of this five-year old round-the-world ocean racer. While the conditions were lighter this year, the crew had a workout with numerous sail changes, a net wrapped around the keel and a canting keel stuck off center for the last ten miles. Still, on the quay after the finish, Proshikin was clearly elated and quite animated in relating the trip. "This race was a bit slower, but in light air it's even more demanding. It was fun and it's quite intriguing, but took a bit longer so we are a bit tired. It's a vey impressive race, difficult conditions, with many islands -- it's not like running 600 miles from start to finish in a straight line, it's tricky.

"We had some bad luck a couple of times, catching the net around the keel for several hours (which required a neat trick where they sheeted in the main and canted the keel the wrong way, so a crew member could 'walk' out and then get in the water to dive and cut it away). We're on the boat for the first time as a crew, with only a week of training, and it's a very complex boat. Sometimes you are lucky, and sometimes not...but overall, I'm happy!"

But it was Bryon Ehrhart's TP52 Lucky, that crossed the finish line after 3 days, 3 hours, 16 minutes, which put the US boat on top of the leader board on corrected time, for now.

The Chicago-based skipper/owner has had the Rolex Middle Sea Race on his 'to do' list for awhile and has methodically planned a race schedule – that included last year's Rolex Fastnet Race – that would give them some good practice and put them in the Med this year. Ehrhart said, "What a great race and probably the best offshore race we've done in terms of the style of race. Getting up through Messina was a challenge on it's own – it's like multiple regattas within one large long race, it's very scenic, but there are opportunities to screw up all over the place!

"But thankfully, Ian Moore is a fantastic navigator. We were very happy with the calls we made all the way around. Times where we thought we'd have a lifts, we generally had lifts; times we'd thought we'd get knocks coming into important marks, we got knocks. So a lot of worry and decision about whether 25-50 miles out you're going to make the right decision about sailing this course to get to a knock or lift, and I put it up to his genius in getting us there.

"We spent a lot of time next to Wild Joe, she was actually an additional motivator. Several times we were in and out with her. The Cookson 50 (Cantankerous), Wild Joe, and Pace – we were on each others' mind all the time."

Ian Moore who, as a last-minute addition to the crew, seemed to have earned his keep with their impressive performance. The Irish Volvo Ocean Race veteran and BMW Oracle America's Cup crew member said, "It was good race, pretty exciting, lots of lead changes. We were pleased every time we managed to pass (the TP52) Pace, and then their boat speed got up again, and then we got another opportunity. Lots of moments the race would restart and give us the option to use our abilities.

Of the difference between the two TP52s, Moore said, "They are very different vintages. Pace was built for the TP52 Worlds in Miami and is an ultra-light racing machine. Lucky was designed to race across the Pacific Ocean and be able to keep the crew on board on that 3000 nm passage. Pace is an inshore racing boat, and Lucky is an ocean-going boat, a lot heavier, stronger. But, it's nice for me to sail on this boat, to know this is a good, strong and safe boat. Every time you take a normal TP52 on a race track, you are always crossing your fingers and hoping it's going to stand the test of time."

Moore enjoyed the course and said, "It is a spectacular course; it's a circular course, start and finishing in Malta. Going up to the Strait of Messina and just running into that five knots of current, apparently from nowhere, and going around the smoking volcano of Stromboli and all the islands, including Pantelleria, Lampedusa. They're like an island in the middle of nowhere, but there are always people living on there, no bigger than a view football pitches. It's really a pretty amazing race track; it's lovely to come and do it again."

This was Wild Joe's skipper/owner, Marton Jozsa third Rolex Middle Sea Race, though for most of his Hungarian crew it was their first-ever offshore race. Jozsa said, "I think this is the first good offshore racing result in Hungarian sailing, so I think we can be satisfied with this result – and we are! We have one guy from Australia with experience in offshore racing and it is very good to have this guy on board.

"We very much like sailing here in Malta and also in this race, so I hope we will be here again. Besides some races in Croatia, next year we are planning to take part in Rolex Capri Sailing Week in May – for us, the Rolex Volcano Race – and after, we will see."

Bret Perry, strategist and the lone Australian onboard Wild Joe, said, "The team is a bunch of dinghy sailors, and it's their first offshore experience. It's a new boat to Hungary, and not many people have seen a Hungarian sailing team. I didn't know quite what to expect myself, but once we got sailing on the boat, the crew was really fantastic, sailing 100%, and gave us every opportunity to finish where we finished.

"You have to be realistic and get out there and do your best, but to get what we achieved they should be really, really proud. They're all so talented, they're Olympic-level sailors, they know what's going on, they just need to understand the bigger picture and get out of windward-leeward type of sailing – and this is their first experience in an offshore boat.

Jonas Diamantino's Comanche Raider II, from the Royal Malta Yacht Club, has been taking a pasting but spirits are high, as he explained as they passed Pantelleria earlier today. "Pretty hectic, pretty scary. We got hit by a 45-knot squall, with very confused seas, and it was all on. But everybody is fine and so is the boat, but it was a tough few hours. We are now doing ten knots and heading for home.  Tell the bar at the club to get the beer on ice!"

Lucky are currently leading overall on corrected time in IRC, but they have to withstand challenges from at least two boats that are in contention for the overall win. Sort of like history repeating itself, the two boats are the Lee Satariano & Christian Ripard's J/122 Artie, and John Ripard & Andrew Calascione's J/133 Jaru. The last time a Maltese boat won the Rolex Middle Sea race overall was Market Wizard in 2002 with Ripard & Calascione, and in 2001 it was Christian Ripard's Straight Dealer.

The Maltese Beneteau 411, Fekruna, retired just west of Stromboli, bringing the total number of retired boats to eight, with eight boats finished and 60 still racing.

The race fleet can be tracked online at www.rolexmiddlesearace.com/tracker/#tracker

The final prize giving is at 12.00pm on Saturday, 30 October at the Mediterranean Conference Center in Valletta.

Published in Offshore

Flying into Malta it's hard not to be struck by the landscape: the buildings all a blinding beige in the hot sun, the landscape fairly arid and dry. It's more reminiscent of the Northern African coast, which is only 155 nautical miles west. The island archipelago is at the crossroads of the Mediterranean situated, as it is, midway between Sicily and the coast of Tunisia. This year's fleet reflects that more than any year past, with numerous entries from throughout Europe, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

One Irish boat, Legally Brunette, from Dun Laoghaire is entered in to the race.

This 31st edition of the 606-nautical mile Rolex Middle Sea Race begins this Saturday, 23 October from Grand Harbour. Registration closes on Friday, but by press time there were 83 boats entered from 18 countries. Included in this number and back to defend, are 2009 Overall Winner, Andres Soriano on the 21-metre mini-maxi Alegre (GBR), and Line Honours winner, Mike Slade on the 30.5-metre ICAP Leopard (GBR).

The race is organized and hosted by the Royal Malta Yacht Club, which moved into stylish brand new quarters overlooking Marsamxett Harbour, just prior to last year's race. The yacht club, with as rich and varied a history as this island republic, is one of the most hospitable anywhere and provides all sailors who make the effort to trek here, a warm welcome.

Yesterday, a low pressure system that swept through south of Sicily, with winds of 50 knots and 3 to 4 metre seas, which has delayed the arrival of some of the foreign fleet. Though some like Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) and Wild Joe (HUN) were already committed to crossing and so endured the conditions encountered enroute. The 30-metre Esimit had a lightening strike that took out the wind instruments at the top of its 44-metre mast. Meanwhile, Marton Jozsa's Wild Joe, a R/P Custom 60, which set out from Croatia on Friday, and then from Sicily yesterday morning, had a tough crossing, ripping both their mainsail and jib.

Many of the fleet is moored in Camper & Nicholson's Grand Harbour Marina and dockside there today there was a flurry of activity with crews effecting repairs or otherwise prepping for Saturday's offshore race. Tomorrow, Wednesday, there will be Coastal Race most likely around neighboring Comino Island. Some boats, though not all, use this race as a tune-up for the offshore.

Along the quay, there were country flags on the back of boats from Spain, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, the UK and United States, as well as a local fleet of competitors from Malta. One would think the Maltese might have an edge – local knowledge of the area, perhaps – and in that group one of the ringers may well be Jaru (MLT), a J/133 co-skippered by John Ripard Jr. and his brother-in-law, Andrew Calascione. The close relations don't stop there, as half the crew are composed of their children, with a few close friends from the UK there to round out the crew.

Sailing onboard, as helmsman and watch leader, is 23-year old, Sebastian Ripard. This youngest of the Ripard generation is taking time out from his, and team mate Benji Borg's, campaign in the 49er class for the 2012/2016 Olympics. This 600+ mile race requires switching gears from 'around the cans'. Asked what he likes about this, his eighth, race, Sebastian said, "It's a beautiful race. I mean one of the marks is a volcano, which is often erupting! There's always a bit of everything in this race, tactically there are a lot of different points where the race compresses, so there's a lot of tricky areas: the Straits (of Messina), Stromboli, by Favignana, which make it challenging throughout. There are a lot of variables that keep on changing. And I quite enjoy the mental demands of an offshore race; it's more of an adventure. In his first go round in 2002, he racked up an overall win on the J/109 Jammin' (MLT) with – same as this year – his father and uncle. He followed that with a 2nd place in the J/109 Artie (MLT) with Lee Sartariano.

The J-Boat has a good track record for the race: a J/133 won its' class and placed 2nd overall in the 2008 Rolex Middle Sea Race. The 43-footer was Sailing World magazines' "Boat of the Year" award when it was launched in 2003 and the design has proven itself for performance cruising and offshore racing.

Almost all foreign competitors seem drawn to this unique race: a long offshore, anti-clockwise around Sicily, a few volcanoes, and some neighboring islands. Bryon Ehrhart owner and skipper of Lucky (USA), is one of those. Ehrhart, from Chicago, first raced the boat in the 2006 Newport Bermuda Race. Since then they have competed in the 2007 Transpac Race, the 2008 Chicago Mackinac, and the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race.

His crew are a group of strong amateurs, with a few professionals that have sailed together for years. For the most part, they are Etchells (one-design) sailors, and plan to bring that level of intensity and competitiveness from the small boat fleet to a big boat offshore program.

Ehrhart said, "We have an interest in doing the truly great ocean races and certainly the Rolex Middle Sea Race is one of them. It's a race that I have read about over the years and have thought that – because of the course – would be strategically and tactically challenging, maybe even the most challenging we have done or will ever do.

"A fantastic amount of preparation has gone into getting the boat ready for this race and we hope we are up to all that we may encounter. We have converted this TP52 to an IRC offshore boat. We do a couple of big events a year and this race is the only offshore event we are doing in 2010: it is a race of the quality that is worth organizing our year around. "

Thursday is a Crew Party at the Royal Malta Yacht Club, and on Friday there will be Skipper's race and weather briefing. The Rolex Middle Sea Race commences on Saturday, 23 October 2010. 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

The summer sailing season is halfway through in the northern hemisphere. For some yachts their autumn schedule is coming to the fore. The Rolex Middle Sea Race has long been the season closing offshore race. Last year  73 yachts have entered so far, only five short of 2008s record number but there was only one entry from Ireland, Legally Brunette from Dun Laoghaire. Will there be any takers this year. We'll have to wait and see.

At 606-nautical-miles it is a major test in anyone's programme and once again, the 31st edition is attracting the usual mix of professional and Corinthian adventurers willing to pit their skills and reputations against one of the most technically demanding races in the calendar. The nature of the course and its location make predicting the weather and the winner a lottery, but when 2010 Rolex Middle Sea Race starts from Grand Harbour on 23 October, a raft of uncertainties will be answered.

At present 25 yachts have committed themselves to the challenge, which according to Commodore Georges Bonello Dupuis is a good showing at this stage in proceedings, "of course, we'd be happier with more, we are always greedy! We have grown used to a surge in September as those that have planned the race for some months finally submit their entry form. We always hope to beat the previous year's fleet, but seventy yachts may prove too much." On 23 October, we'll know the answer.

The largest and fastest yacht entered is 30.5-metre (100-foot) racing maxi Esimit Europa 2 (EUR) (formerly Alfa Romeo II). The yacht itself has graced the four-cornered race once before in 2006. She was unable to show her true pedigree as light winds plagued the second half of the course, which takes the fleet from Malta, through the Strait of Messina, past Stromboli across the northern coast of Sicily, through the Egadi Islands and south to Lampedusa and Pantelleria, before heading eastwards back to Malta. Under new ownership, Slovenian Igor Simcic, and new management, Italian Flavio Favini, Esimit proved herself still to be the fastest yacht in Europe by winning line honours at the Giraglia Rolex Cup in June. On 23 October we will know if Esimit has a shot at the course record of 47 hours 55 minutes and 3 seconds set in 2008 by the American yacht Rambler.

At the moment, the newest yacht expected on the start line is the 24.5-metre (80-foot) Singularity. Designed by Adrian Konynendyk and built by McConaghy in Australia, Singularity was launched earlier this year. According to racing skipper, Bouwe Bekking, who won the race overall on his last visit in 2006 with Morning Glory, Singularity looks and performs like a racing yacht, but conceals a full interior designed by Mark Tucker and Design Unlimited. "She defies logic," says Bekking. "With her performance polars you'd imagine she must be like a Volvo 70 down below. She's not at all. She has a lightweight interior, but of the highest quality and luxury. We're looking forward to the race; it is a true tactical challenge. Hopefully, we'll get breeze all the way around the course." On 23 October we will get to see what Singularity is truly made of.

Looking at other parts of the fleet: the oldest yacht entered to date is the forty-year old Andrea (NED), a Camper & Nicholson 55 skippered by Jacobus Labeij. The smallest yacht is Claudio Barzan's X-362 Spinone Offshore (ITA) with a length overall of 10.72-metres (35 feet). The furthest travelled category is likely to be taken by American Bryon Erhart's modified TP52 Lucky, although the Ukrainian entry Moryanka of Yaroslav Isakov claims its homeport is in The Seychelles. Jonas Diamantino, Comanche Raider II Gasan Mamo Insurance (MLT) holds pole position as most experienced skipper with nine races under his belt, closely followed by Filippo Lancelotti, Sciara (ITA), who is aiming for his ninth Rolex Middle Sea Race.

With substantially more entries expected, between now and October, a number of these claims may well be supplanted. What is certain though is that all competitors, young and old, professional or Corinthian, contender or adventurer, fast or slow, that are on the start line on 23 October will be shaping more of the history of this remarkable race.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race commences on Saturday, 23 October 2010.
Entries close on 15 October.

Published in Offshore
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