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Middle Sea Race Tests JPK 10.80 to Success

25th October 2017
The Xp-44 XP-ACT, with a strong Irish representation on board, finally gets to free sheets at Favignana after a hard sail off Sicily’s northwest coast The Xp-44 XP-ACT, with a strong Irish representation on board, finally gets to free sheets at Favignana after a hard sail off Sicily’s northwest coast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Results here

Published in Middle Sea Race
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About The 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.

Middle Sea Race 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.

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