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Displaying items by tag: Rolex Middle Sea Race

The Notice of Race for the 41st Rolex Middle Sea Race is now available online, the Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC) has announced.

The club says its intention to run the 2020 race remains subject to changes in circumstances both locally and internationally regarding coronavirus.

Currently the plan is to review the state of play in August, and the RMYC has reserved the right to amend the Notice of Race up until Monday 31 August.

In the meantime, the RMYC has hailed “a steady stream of yachts indicating their interest in participating” with 29 entries received as of this Wednesday (17 June), from the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Spain and the USA.

Among these are entrants regularly seen in the 606nm race, such as Beppe Bisotto’s Fast 42 Atame, Leonardo Petti’s J-109 Chestress and Laurent Camprubi’s JPK10.30 Jeanne.

It’s also hoped that Peter Harburg’s 100ft Reichel/Pugh Maxi, Black Jack, will make an appearance after success campaigning in Australia inn recent years, as well as Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant’s Comanche, which took line honours in the most recent Sydney Hobart.

The 41st edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race is scheduled to start on Saturday 17 October. Last year’s edition had no Irish entries, but a number of Irish sailors featured as crew across the fleet and it’s expected this year will have similar representation.

Published in Offshore
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There has been a touch of déjà vu for Round Ireland Race aficionados in watching the unfolding results of the current Rolex Middle Sea Race writes W M Nixon. As the middle part of the very depleted offshore fleet approached Valetta today, still sailing fast in a harsh nor’west wind, the names which were coming up towards the head of the leaderboard at the main markers of the course such as Pantellaria and then Lampedusa included Eric de Turkheim’s NMYD 54 Teasing Machine III, and the Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen.

We all remember Tonnere de Glen as Piet Vroon’s Tonnerre de Breskens in Wicklow, while Teasing Machine II was one of the stars of the 2016 Wicklow show. But now the new Teasing Machine III (which we previewed as one to watch on Saturday) has leapt to fame, for although the Cookson 50 Kuka 3 was in front of her coming into Valetta, the 4ft longer Teasing Machine somehow rates only 1.327 to the 1.373 of the Cookson.

kuka three2The Cookson 50 Kuka 3 (Franco Niggeler) was ahead of Teasing Machine II coming into the finish, but with her higher rating, she is now back on second overall. Kurt Arrigo

Canting keels - such as they have on Kuka 3 - should of course cause an adverse effect on rating. But Teasing Machine seems to have the rating edge on just about everything comparable. Messrs Nivelt and Muratet clearly know their stuff, for this is some new boat, to have come through what even the toughies have described as a “seriously gnarly race”, and now she’s sitting this evening on a 36 minute overall lead.

Boats still at sea could yet topple her, including the 2012 Swan 53 Music from South Africa and the X44p XP-ACT aboard which Barry Hurley and Shane Diviney are sailing fast for the finish. But with night now well down in Malta, things are looking quite good for the popular Baron de Turkheim’s new boat.

Meanwhile, Dominique Tien’s Tonnerre de Glen shows up on the tracker as being snug in Valetta too. But her name doesn’t appear anywhere - not anywhere at all - on the current results list. That’s something for the morning.

leopard maxi3“A seriously gnarly race” – if it was like this for the hundred foot Leopard, it boggles the mind to imagine the situation for the smallest boats. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

Published in Offshore

Following a uniquely beautiful and challenging course, the Rolex Middle Sea Race, organised by the Royal Malta Yacht Club, is mentioned in the same breath as the top Rolex Fastnet, The Rolex Sydney - Hobart and Newport-Bermuda. It typically attracts a varied fleet of boats and many distinguished sailors many of whom keep returning. It remains on the bucket list of many a sailor.

As the start of the 37th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race approaches the fleet that is building up for this annual challenge is looking as impressive as ever. The usual mix of production boats optimised for the race by their Corinthian crews are set to sail alongside top racing boats manned by professionals. Following a global rise in interest the presence of high performance multihulls is growing too.

Twenty five countries will be represented at the start line on Saturday 22nd October, with neighbouring Italy, as in past years having the greatest presence. Strong growth has been registered by Russia, whilst third placed United Kingdom has seen a slight increase from the previous year. The Rolex Middle Sea Race will be welcoming back Denmark and Ukraine who have not made an appearance in the last five years whilst Sweden will be returning after an absence of two years. With boats from faraway countries like Australia and the United States also present the fleet has become truly global...

Looking through the crew list one can see a number of well-known sailors with an impressive CV to their names including Adrian Stead, Vincenzo Onorato, Flavio Favini, Branko Brcin, Ian Moore, Giovanni Soldini, Pierre Casiraghi and Mikey Muller. RORC Racing Manager Nick Elliot will be taking part in his first big offshore race on Gemervescence and old faithful Beppe Bisotto is back with Atame for the 11th consecutive year. Local sailors Timmy Camilleri, Aaron, Christoph and Maya Podesta, Lee Satariano and Christian and Sebastian Ripard will be at the start too while Royal Malta Yacht Club Committee Member Jamie Sammut will be taking part this time in the demanding double handed class.

Among top monohulls George David’s Rambler 88 will be back after having won monohull line honours in 2015. The current course record unbeaten since 2007 was set by George David himself with a previous Rambler. Winner of the 2015 Monohull Line Honours, George David will be returning and prepared to better the course record he still holds.

Also returning are Cippa Lippa and Mascalzone Latino are the two Cookson 50 boats who are no strangers to this race, with Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino narrowly missing out to B2 for the coveted IRC win in 2015. A good challenge is also expected from the two TP52s Audax Energia and Team Van Uden Performance from Spain and the United Kingdom. From the Open 70 class Green Dragon and Turkish Airlines Racing Team Black Betty are back have been on the starting line before too. The rest of the monohull fleet includes some competitive boats such as the Xp-44 while the popular and successful J boats are out in full force out to produce some good results. Worthy of mention is Maltese boat Artie, a J122 yacht who brought the Rolex Middle Sea Race trophy home in the 2011 and 2014 editions – definitely a force not to be underestimated

Multihulls have showed a marked increase in popularity. Following substantial development put into producing high level performance and increase in speed, this category has become a highly competitive one. In 2015 the category included Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo 3 which took multihull line honours and Peter Aschenbrenner’s MOD 70 Paradox winning on corrected time. This year the race will welcome four multihulls. MOD70 trimaran Phaedo 3 sailing under the now familiar colours of lime green and chrome will be making a welcome return to the course and hoping to retain their 2015 Multihull Line honours title. The trimaran Maserati Multi70 will make its first appearance in this race. This Maserati is a cutting-edge, very high performance trimaran capable of making extremely fast speeds and can rise up off the water on her rudders and foils, significantly reducing her wetted surface area to the benefit of performance. The Maserati Multi70 is skippered by Giovanni Soldini who has his sights firmly set on the Rolex Middle Sea Race and RORC Transatlantic Race. A Multi 50s – Ciela Village will be entering the fray for the first time in Malta. Ciela Village’s skipper Thierry Bouchard won the Rolex Middle Sea Race in 2008 on Spirit of Ad Hoc a Beneteau 40.7. The R-Six is the fourth multihull to take part and is a 2016 built cruising catamaran.

Seven boats will be vying for the Swan Mediterranean Challenge Trophy – T’ala, Montrachet and Lunz Am Meer have all competed in this race various times and will be returning once again. Digital Alpha, skippered by Valentin Zubkov is a Club Swan 42, a fast growing one design racing class.

Maltese Boats
A distinct fleet of local boats will be proudly flying the Maltese flag. Seven of the eight boats are returning crews. Lee Satariano’s J/122 Artie, overall winners of the 2014 edition, will be returning once again with strong determination. Although in 2015 they sailed well to win their class, light wind conditions prevented them from making a repeat victory. Artie will be joined by another J/122 – Otra Vez skippered by the Gatt Floridia brothers. In 2015 although present for the race, the Gatt Floridias formed part of an American crew on the USA Ker 43 namesake. The Podesta siblings, Aaron, Christoph and Maya will keep the family legacy going with the participation of their Beneteau First 45 Elusive 2 BOV whilst Jamie Sammut will be crewing his Solaris One 42 Unica in the double handed class. Timmy Camilleri, veteran of many international races will join the XP-Act crew whilst David Pizzuto’s IMX40 Geisha and Jonathan Gambin’s Ton Ton Dufour 44P will also make a welcome return. Sean Borg’s XP44 Xpresso will be making its debut on this famed course and will be completing the Maltese fleet.
The Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on Saturday 22nd October at 11:00hrs. Race starts will take place in the Grand Harbour. The best viewpoints for the start will be on the Valletta waterfronts, Lower and Upper Barakkas, and Senglea peninsula.

More information about the 37th Edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race can be found here 

Published in Offshore

Last night produced one of the most dramatic finishes in the history of the Rolex Middle Sea Race and it had an Irish dimension thanks to the presence of Carrickfergus navigator Ian Moore. Two yachts finished within sight of each other vying for the overall win in IRC for the Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy after over 600 miles of intense racing. 

Michele Galli's TP52, B2, crossed the finish line outside the Royal Malta Yacht Club just before midnight, to take first position in the overall rankings but there was a nervous look about the crew. They scanned the darkness outside Marsamxett Harbour, looking for the masthead light of Vincenzo Onorato's, Cookson 50, Mascalzone Latino. As their Italian rivals came into view, the tension was obvious on board B2. Mascalzone Latino crossed the finish line just after midnight and stopped the clock. After three and half days and nights at sea, B2 corrected out to beat Mascalzone Latino by an astonishing seven seconds.

Michele Galli's TP52, B2 is now the provisional overall leader of the IRC fleet, vying for the Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy. The vast majority of the fleet are still racing but it is most likely that the corrected time, set by B2, will not be bettered.

Mascalzone Latino's navigator, Ian Moore, was obviously disappointed with the result but upbeat about the performance of the team.

“This is the first time we have sailed together as a team for over a year and we put in a great performance, so we can be happy with that but to be beaten by such a small margin is never nice.” commented Ian Moore. “Our team and the boat performed well over a broad range of conditions, and we especially made big gains in the light winds. B2 was always going to be quicker than us in a straight line and they did well in the transition zones at Stromboli and Capo San Vito. We did catch up 14 miles on the first night going past Mount Etna, which was a big gain for us. On the leg from Lampedusa to the finish, there were a lot of thunderstorms and we saw one wind shift of 50 degrees, which we got spot on. Of course there were lots of occasions we could think about where we could have gained those precious seconds but this was an exciting race for us and tactically extremely difficult.”

In IRC Three, the leaders have made a clean getaway from the rest of the pack with the Turkish team racing Ker 40, Arkas Flying Box, leading on the water and on corrected time from Bastiaan de Voogd's Dutch Sydney 43, Coin Coin. Vittorio Biscarini's Italian team racing Ars Una are lying third. The trio are passing Lampedusa, with approximately 100 miles to go and are expected at the Royal Malta Yacht Club tonight.

In IRC Four at Favignana, Chris Opielok's Corby 36, Rockall IV, was leading after time correction. Just three minutes behind the leader was Sonke Stein & David Anastasi’s, Maltese J/133,Oil Tanking Juno. By Pantalleria, Christoph Podesta's Maltese First 45, Elusive II BOV had over taken both yachts on time correction to take up the running.

In IRC Five at Favignana, Lee Satariano & Christian Ripard's Maltese J/122, Artie held a narrow lead of just 16 minutes on corrected time from Laurant Charmy's French J/111, SL Energies Groupe Fastwave. However by the time the leaders passed Pantalleria, Costantin Manuele's First 40.7 Canevel Spumanti had over taken both yachts after time correction.

In IRC Six, Milan Hajek's Czech Republic Team, racing First 40.7, Three Sisters holds a commanding lead over Peppe Fornich Italian Grand Soleil 37, Sagola-Biotrading and Gherardo Maviglia's Amapola.
To follow the race, visit the official Rolex Middle Sea Race web site.

All of the competitors are encouraged to contact the media team during the race with stories from the sea, pictures and even videos.

All of the competing yachts are fitted with YB trackers showing their position and other telemetric data.

Published in Offshore

#RolexMiddleSea - Irish solo sailing sensation David Kenefick will be racing in company abroad the Artemis IMOCA 60 that's currently en route to the Rolex Middle Sea Race tat starts on Saturday 17 October.

The Afloat.ie Sailor of the Year for 2013 will be sailing the 606-mile offshore route in a fleet that includes many experienced professionals from the America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race, not to mention the record-breaking MOD 70 trimaran Musandam-Oman Sail.

It's a a veritable best of the best - but Kenefick has demonstrated before that he has the skills to fit right in.

Published in Offshore

Today, in the ancient fortress city of Valletta, the former 16th century "Sacra Infermeria" of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, was host to the prize giving for the 31st edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race.  Close to eight hundred guests – skippers, crews, family and friends – were on hand to collect trophies and awards for the Royal Malta Yacht Club's premier offshore race.

Ireland had a role in the win as the Navigator of the winning yacht was Northern Ireland's Ian Moore of Carrickfergus. More on this from WM Nixon in the Irish Independent HERE.

The former 16th century hospital, located adjacent to Fort St Elmo and overlooking an historically accurate restoration in the late 1970s, which earned it numerous design awards. In a city rich in history, the Sacra Infermeria is an impressive edifice, and was considered to be one of the best hospitals in Europe, one that could accommodate over 900 patients in an emergency.

The main hall, measuring 155 metres in length, was at that time, one of the largest in Europe and was described as "one of the grandest interiors in the world."  Surviving four direct hits during the bombardment of WWII, the building was repaired and later served all sorts of uses: as a command hall, an entertainment centre, a children's theatre, a school, and finally in the late 1970s, a modern conference center.

Seventy-six boats started the race, and 60 finished, one of the highest numbers of finishers in recent years. The fleet included boats from 17 nations, a veritable United Nations of competitors and certainly along the quay at Grand Harbour Marina, boats from Hungary, Italy, UK, US, Spain, and Slovenia, among others, bore this out.

At the prize giving, Royal Malta Yacht Club Commodore, George Bonello DuPuis thanked the competitors, event organizing committee, the international jury, yacht club staff and volunteers, and race sponsor Rolex. The Commodore was clearly pleased and he said, "I was asked how I would summarise this year's event and the first word that came to mind was "epic", as I'm sure many of you who competed would agree."

The race started last Saturday, in Grand Harbour, Valletta, on a day full of bright sunshine and blue skies. With the start signals from the Saluting Battery cannon at the Upper Barrakka Garden, Principal Race Officer Peter Dimech got the five classes away in an easterly breeze of eight knots – enough to get the race fleet out of the harbour, and on their way towards Sicily.

The fleet experienced light wind and a rhumb line filled with wind holes, so there was a lot of starting and stopping, with the back markers compressing at times to level up again. The trick was to get through the Messina Strait with a fair tide, one of a couple of tidal gates on the course, that would come into play. The 100-foot maxi Esimit Europa 2(SLO) led from the start and was able to keep their distance on their chief rival, the 100 foot ICAP Leopard (GBR). In fact, once around Stromboli, Esimit legged out and never looked back from there. When the two maxis reached the northwest corner off Trapani, the northwesterly mistral came in on schedule, though never built to the higher ranges that had been forecasted by some weather models.

Meanwhile the 50-70 footers, including Alegre (GBR), the Volvo 70 E1 (RUS), and particularly the TP52s Pace (GBR) and Lucky (USA), the R/P60 Wild Joe (HUN) and the Cookson 50, Cantankerous (ITA) were seemingly bound together pretty much all along the course. At the finish, these last four would finish within 30 minutes of each other.

Lucky's crew did a fine job strategically and physically – racing a TP52 around a 600+ mile course requires lots of fitness and stamina – of getting through the light spots and holding on through the bigger breeze, essentially sailing a nearly flawless race.

Once Lucky finished and assumed the overall lead on corrected time, the only real threats to her title were from what some might consider unlikely boats for an offshore race with a reputation for physically challenging conditions that are often the norm. The two boats in question might be unlikely, unless you know something about the depth of the local Maltese fleet. The J/122 Artie co-skippered by Lee Satariano and John Ripard has a great racing record, as well as having a crack crew of mostly family and friends. Likewise the J/133 Jaru, co-skippered by Andrew Calascione and Christian Ripard, is a top competitor in the local racing fleet.

So, with the clock ticking over the next 18 hours, the two J boats put the pedal down – photos taken onboard Artie during the race confirm that the boat was unleashed in a bid to get to the finish line pronto. In the end, despite a mistral that was producing 30+ knots in that area of the race course, and with average boat speeds on Artie of 9+ knots, and maximum speed in the high teens, between Pantelleria and Lampedusa, and then through the Comino channel, it was not to be. First Jaru fell off the pace nearing Malta, and then entering Marsamxett Harbour, the wind went light and Artie struggled to reach the finish line off the Royal Malta Yacht Club, missing the overall win by only 26 minutes. Still, a phenomenal effort for boat and crew and Artie finished 2nd overall in IRC and 1st in Class 4, while Jaru finished 1st in IRC Class 3, 1st in ORC Class 3 and 1stoverall in ORC.

Commodore Bonello DuPuis, said, "I must say that I feel extremely proud of our achievements as a Club, but even more so of the results of the Maltese fleet, especially those of Artie, Jaru, and Commanche Raider who gave it their best and literally put Malta on the map. Well done, boys! You made us proud."

The main event at the prize giving was the overall winner in IRC, and for this the Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy and a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece were presented by Georges Bonello DuPuis and Mr. Malcolm Lowell, of Edward Lowell's to Bryon Ehrhart, and the TP52, Lucky (USA).

Ehrhart, from Chicago, Illinois, USA, is a member of the New York Yacht Club and Chicago Yacht Clubs, and this past year he's actively campaigned his boat on this side of 'the pond'. Although this was Ehrhart and Lucky's first time at the Rolex Middle Sea Race, it was clearly not beginner's luck, as a lot of prior planning and race practice – last year's Rolex Fastnet Race for one – ensured Lucky would get to Malta battle ready. The majority of Lucky's 13 crew members have been sailing on the boat since 2006, a mix of Americans, Brits, Welsh, Irish, Kiwis, and Aussies – more than a few of them fellow Etchells competitors.

Crew member Rodney Hagebols from Australia and several crew members, accepted the award on behalf of Ehrhart, who had to return to the US. Hagebols said, "This was our first time here in Malta and it was above and beyond everything we could have hoped for. Thanks to Bryon, he's an inspiration to us all; to the other competitors, who made the race very interesting. I mean the race was three days and we couldn't relax for a second. We pushed probably harder than we ever did before, and it was gratifying to have a great result...and thanks to Malta, for making us feel welcome – it's been a fabulous experience."

On Wednesday, when the overall win had been secured, Ehrhart said, "Certainly, we didn't come expecting to win anything like this. We came expecting to work hard and put our best in. The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a classic and, in my mind, it will remain a classic. I would encourage everyone to come here to Malta to challenge."

The Malta Tourism Authority Trophy for first foreign boat home, the RLR Line Honours Trophy for first boat home, and a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece was presented to Igor Simcic, and his Slovenian maxi, Esimit Europa 2.

Anna Rossi, president of the Malta Sailing Federation and Godwin Zammit, Rolex Middle Sea Race Committee Chairman presented the IRC and ORC handicap class prizes:   IRC class winners were Class 1, Igor Simcic, Esimit Europa 2; Class 2, Bryon Ehrhart, Lucky; Class 3, Andrew Calascione, Jaru; Class 4, Lee Satariano, Artie.

ORC class winners were Class 1, Vladimir Prosikhin, E1; Class 2, Jens Kellinghusa, Varuna; Class 3, Andrew Calascione, Jaru; Class 4, Tomas Dolezal, Three Sisters

The youngest participating crewmember, Maltese Thomas Zammit Tabona, 16 years old, who sailed on Elusive 2 Medbank, was presented with the Youth Cup. His Excellency Efisio Luigi Marras presented owner/skipper Gerado Sigler with the Italian Ambassador's Trophy for performing an outstanding act of seamanship onboard his 75-foot yacht Buccaneer.

The John Illingworth Trophy for first boat on corrected time in Double Handed Class went to the Maltese double handers, Anthony Camilleri and Gilbert Azzopardi, on the 34-foot BOV Plain Sailing. Given the severe conditions that developed for the last boats home, it was a feat to even have finished.

The Transport Malta Trophy for first boat across the line having a Maltese Skipper and a majority of Maltese crew members, went to Andrew Calascione, Jaru. Onboard Jaru, almost all of the crew were related in some way to co-skippers Andrew Calascione and his brother-in-law, John Ripard. Calascione said, "Everybody jelled, we all had different skills, different roles, we got on very well together and I think it was one of the greatest races I have done."

Starboard Trophy for first Maltese boat overall on handicap under IRC and ORC went to Lee Satariano, on Artie (IRC), and to Andrew Calascione, on Jaru (ORC). The Nations Cup for best-combined score on corrected time under IRC by three boats from the same nation went to Artie, Jaru, Comanche Raider, all from Malta.

Full race results and awards can be found on the Rolex Middle Sea Race event site HERE

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

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

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
21st October 2009

Rolex Middle Sea Race

The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a highly rated offshore classic, often mentioned in the same breath as the Rolex Fastnet, The Rolex Sydney–Hobart and Newport-Bermuda as a 'must do' race. The Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club co-founded the race in 1968 and 2007 was the 28th Edition. Save for a break between 1984 and 1995 the event has been run annually attracting 25–30 yachts. In recent years, the number of entries has rissen sharply to 68 boats thanks to a new Organising Committee who managed to bring Rolex on board as title sponsor for the Middle Sea Race.

The race is a true challenge to skippers and crews who have to be at their very best to cope with the often changeable and demanding conditions. Equally, the race is blessed with unsurpassed scenery with its course, taking competitors close to a number of islands, which form marks of the course. Ted Turner described the MSR as "the most beautiful race course in the world".

Apart from Turner, famous competitors have included Eric Tabarly, Cino Ricci, Herbert von Karajan, Jim Dolan, Sir Chay Blyth and Sir Francis Chichester (fresh from his round the world adventure). High profile boats from the world's top designers take part, most in pursuit of line honours and the record – competing yachts include the extreme Open 60s, Riviera di Rimini and Shining; the maxis, Mistress Quickly, Zephyrus IV and Sagamore; and the pocket rockets such as the 41-foot J-125 Strait Dealer and the DK46, Fidessa Fastwave.

In 2006, Mike Sanderson and Seb Josse on board ABN Amro, winner of the Volvo Ocean Race, the super Maxis; Alfa Romeo and Maximus and the 2006 Rolex Middle Sea Race overall winner, Hasso Platner on board his MaxZ86, Morning Glory.

George David on board Rambler (ex-Alfa Romeo) managed a new course record in 2007 and in 2008, Thierry Bouchard on Spirit of Ad Hoc won the Rolex Middle Sea Race on board a Beneteau 40.7

The largest number of entries was 78 established in 2008.

 

History

IN THE BEGINNING

The Middle Sea Race was conceived as the result of sporting rivalry between great friends, Paul and John Ripard and an Englishman residing in Malta called Jimmy White, all members of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. In the early fifties, it was mainly British servicemen stationed in Malta who competitively raced. Even the boats had a military connection, since they were old German training boats captured by the British during the war. At the time, the RMYC only had a few Maltese members, amongst who were Paul and John Ripard.

So it was in the early sixties that Paul and Jimmy, together with a mutual friend, Alan Green (later to become the Race Director of the Royal Ocean Racing Club), set out to map a course designed to offer an exciting race in different conditions to those prevailing in Maltese coastal waters. They also decided the course would be slightly longer than the RORC's longest race, the Fastnet. The resulting course is the same as used today.

Ted Turner, CEO of Turner Communications (CNN) has written that the Middle Sea Race "must be the most beautiful race course in the world. What other event has an active volcano as a mark of the course?"

In all of its editions since it was first run in 1968 – won by Paul Ripard's brother John, the Rolex Middle Sea Race has attracted many prestigious names in yachting. Some of these have gone on to greater things in life and have actually left their imprint on the world at large. Amongst these one finds the late Raul Gardini who won line honours in 1979 on Rumegal, and who spearheaded the 1992 Italian Challenge for the America's Cup with Moro di Venezia.

Another former line honours winner (1971) who has passed away since was Frenchman Eric Tabarly winner of round the world and transatlantic races on Penduik. Before his death, he was in Malta again for the novel Around Europe Open UAP Race involving monohulls, catamarans and trimarans. The guest list for the Middle Sea Race has included VIP's of the likes of Sir Francis Chichester, who in 1966 was the first man to sail around the world single-handedly, making only one stop.

The list of top yachting names includes many Italians. It is, after all a premier race around their largest island. These include Navy Admiral Tino Straulino, Olympic gold medallist in the star class and Cino Ricci, well known yachting TV commentator. And it is also an Italian who in 1999 finally beat the course record set by Mistress Quickly in 1978. Top racing skipper Andrea Scarabelli beat it so resoundingly, he knocked off over six hours from the time that had stood unbeaten for 20 years.

World famous round the world race winners with a Middle Sea Race connection include yachting journalist Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Les Williams, both from the UK.

The Maxi Class has long had a long and loving relationship with the Middle Sea Race. Right from the early days personalities such as Germany's Herbert Von Karajan, famous orchestra conductor and artistic director of the Berliner Philarmoniker, competing with his maxi Helisara IV. Later came Marvin Greene Jr, CEO of Reeves Communications Corporation and owner of the well known Nirvana (line honours in 1982) and Jim Dolan, CEO of Cablevision, whose Sagamore was back in 1999 to try and emulate the line honours she won in 1997.

 

THE COURSE RECORD

The course record was held by the San Francisco based, Robert McNeil on board his Maxi Turbo Sled Zephyrus IV when in 2000, he smashed the Course record which now stands at 64 hrs 49 mins 57 secs. Zephyrus IV is a Rechiel-Pugh design. In recent years, various maxis such as Alfa Romeo, Nokia, Maximus and Morning Glory have all tried to break this course record, but the wind Gods have never played along. Even the VOR winner, ABN AMro tried, but all failed in 2006.

However, George David came along on board Rambler in 2007 and demolished the course record established by Zephyrus IV in 2000. This now stands at 1 day, 23 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds.

 

IN RECENT YEARS

In 2001,a new Committee was elected and injected new blood and ideas into the Middle Sea Race organising Committee.  Innovative marketing ideas were introduced and the search for a title sponsor was initiated. In 2002, Rolex SA came on board as the title sponsor. Since 2002, the event has witnessed a record number of entries every year and has also seen amazing growth in the quality of entries. Although bigger boats regularly participate with new tecnological inprovements such as code zeros, canting keels and forward canards, the Course Record remained unbeaten for seven years. One used to wonder when this will ever be broken – 64 hrs, 49 mins and 57 seconds was the time to beat...

In 2006, a record fleet of 68 yachts was on the start line, ranging from some of the largest and fastest racing monohulls on the planet, including Alfa Romeo, Morning Glory, ABN Amro 1 and Maximus, to some of the best sailed cruiser-racers around. The finish was a nailbiter, with Hasso Plattner's Morning Glory taking in pole position amongst the larger yachts, but having to wait two days until two of the smallest boats had arrived home before the victory could be confirmed. As it was, the double-handed crew of Shaun Murphy & Ric Searle on the J-105 Slingshot and the young crew on Lee Satariano's J-109 Artie came close, but not quite close enough finishing third and second overall respectively just over 2 hours outside the winner's time.

The record number of participants till 2006 stood at a staggering 68 entries.

In 2007 Massive storms bashed through the fleet on the northern side of Sicily. Tens of boats retired during the first night out and were forced to take shelter in various ports along the Eastern shore of Sicily.  Loki also lost their rudder and had to abondon her. We also saw George David on board Rambler set a new course record of 1 day, 23 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds.

2008 saw a record number of entries. Seventy-eight boats started the race and was characterised by light winds in the beginning of the race and thunder storms during the second part of the race. Thierry Bouchard, on board Spirit of Ad Hoc won in a Beneteau 40.7. He also won the ORC division, claiming the Boccale del Mediterraneao Trophy.

The above information courtesy of Rolex Middle Sea Race 

 

Published in Middle Sea

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