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Conor Doyle's Kinsale Xp50 Freya Takes ORC Three Win in Malta's Middle Sea Race

29th October 2022
The Ireland Freya crew skippered by Conor Doyle from Kinsale at the finish of the 2022 Middle Sea Race in Valetta harbour, includes Kelvin Harrap, Rory Harrap, Will Byrne, Barry Hurley, Nick Jones, Malcolm McCormick, Cian Guilfoyle, James Lyons, Conor Doyle and Nin O'Leary (not pictured)
The Ireland Freya crew skippered by Conor Doyle from Kinsale at the finish of the 2022 Middle Sea Race in Valetta harbour, includes Kelvin Harrap, Rory Harrap, Will Byrne, Barry Hurley, Nick Jones, Malcolm McCormick, Cian Guilfoyle, James Lyons, Conor Doyle and Nin O'Leary (not pictured)

Having been in contention for a top three place in IRC 4 at several points of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, Kinsale Yacht Club's Conor Doyle was rewarded for his Mediterranean exploits with the ORC Three title in Valetta Harbour, Malta on Friday evening.

As Afloat reported earlier, Ireland's only entry in the race 600-miler ended up fourth on IRC Four rating after a tough battle with French and Maltese yachts. 

The Ireland Freya crew skippered by Conor Doyle from Kinsale at the finish of the 2022 Middle Sea Race in Valetta harbour, includes Kelvin Harrap, Rory Harrap, Will Byrne, Barry Hurley, Nick Jones, Malcolm McCormick, Cian Guilfoyle, James Lyons, Conor Doyle and Nin O'Leary

Malta’s past and present combined today at the Rolex Middle Sea Race final prize giving. Held, as is now tradition, in the 16th century former-Sacra Infermeria overlooking Grand Harbour, scene of the start one week ago, the story of the event was all but completed, just as the finishers conclude their own story as the cross the finish line.

This year’s edition, the 43rd in the long and illustrious history of the Mediterranean’s most demanding and renowned 600 mile offshore race, will be remembered for light winds, dogged determination and the remarkable imagery from the racecourse. Its character, so diametrically opposed to last year, it is hard to imagine the two races took place over the same track at the same time of year.

The principal success stories of the 2022 Rolex Middle Sea Race recognised at the prize giving included:

  • Teasing Machine – overall winner under IRC and recipient of the Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy
  • Mana – multihull line honours winner and recipient of the Captain Morgan Trophy for victory under MOCRA
  • Leopard 3 – monohull line honours winner and recipient of the RLR Trophy
  • Wild Joe – ORC Category winner and recipient of the Boccale del Mediterraneo Trophy

David Cremona, Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club paid tribute to all crews that had taken part, reserving special mention for the overall winner, Eric de Turckheim’s NMYD 54 Teasing Machine from France, but also the handful of boats still to finish the 606nm race. Cremona also thanked the volunteers of the club that make up the Race Committee and its small permanent staff for their hours of selfless work in preparing for the race. He also took time to record the club’s deep appreciation of its 20 year relationship with title sponsor Rolex, as well as the support of other race partners, such as Yachting Malta and the Royal Ocean Racing Club, and government bodies, such as the Malta Tourism Authority, for their important contributions.

In addition to participating crews, the occasion was attended by several distinguished guests, in particular the Italian Ambassador, Fabrizio Romano, and the President of Malta, George Vella who gave a short address. “This historic building provides the most fitting venue for this ceremony with its connection to the seafaring Knights of St John,” said President Vella. “As well as drawing the best sailing talent to our country, the Rolex Middle Sea Race has come to symbolise Malta’s maritime history. Each year it brings the island’s historic grandeur back to life.” Malta’s Head of State also referred to the global appeal of the race. “One of the race’s most impressive elements since its inception in 1968 is its multi-cultural and multi-national aspect,” he said. “So many diverse backgrounds and languages sharing a common love for the sport of sailing. For the past days you have demonstrated resilience, determination and patience. Your accomplishments would not have been possible without a strong team spirit. The image of endurance the Rolex Middle Sea Race offers each year is an example and encouragement to those of us ashore and a source of great inspiration.”

The Principal Race Officer, Stefan Kunstmann, also took a moment to reinforce the thanks for the volunteers and staff that had delivered the race and to congratulate the competitors. “I admire each and every one of you – finisher, retiree or those still racing – for the sportsmanship, the patience, the acceptance of nature and the determination you have shown. These qualities are as much a part of our sport as sailing ability.”
The 43rd Rolex Middle Sea Race now passes into legend. It was an exceptional race for very different reasons to last year, and a reminder that tough conditions include light and fickle winds as well as fast and furious.

The 44th Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on Saturday, 21 October 2023.

IRC Overall & winner Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy
Teasing Machine, Eric de Turckheim, FRA

IRC Class Winners
IRC 1 Spirit of Lorina, Jean-Pierre Barjon, FRA
IRC 2 Teasing Machine, Eric de Turckheim FRA
IRC 3 Ino XXX, James Neville, GBR
IRC 4 Albator, Philippe Frantz, FRA
IRC 5 Tevere Remo Mon Ile, Gianrocco Catalano, ITA

Monohull Line Honours & winner RLR Trophy

Leopard 3, Chris Sherlock, NED

Multihull Line Honours & Malta Tourism Authority Trophy (First Foreign Boat)
Mana, Riccardo Pavoncelli, ITA

MOCRA Overall & Captain Morgan Trophy
Mana, Riccardo Pavoncelli, ITA

ORC Category Overall & winner Boccale del Mediterraneo Trophy

Wild Joe, Marton Jozsa, HUN

ORC Class Winners
ORC 1 Wild Joe, Marton Jozsa, HUN
ORC 2 Daguet 3 – Corum, Frederic Puzin, FRA
ORC 3 Freya, Conor Doyle. IRL
ORC 4 Tevere Remo Mon Ile, Gianrocco Catalano, ITA

First Boat with Maltese skipper & majority Maltese crew -Transport Malta Trophy
First Maltese Boat under IRC & Arthur Podesta Trophy
First Maltese Boat under ORC & Teddie Borg Trophy

Artie III, Lee Satariano & Christian Ripard, MLT

Yachting Malta Nations Cup (Country with three best corrected times)
France – Teasing Machine, Spirit of Lorina & Arobas 2

Italian Ambassador’s Trophy for Sportsmanship
Arobas2, Gerard Logel, FRA

First Italian boat under ORC & winner Federazione Italian Vela Trophy
Tevere Remo Mon Ile, Gianrocco Catalano, ITA

At the time of writing, 44 boats had finished, 13 are still racing and the rest have retired.

Published in Middle Sea Race

Middle Sea Yacht Race Live Tracker 2022

Track the progress of the 2022 Rolex Middle Sea Race fleet on the live tracker above and see all Afloat's Middle Sea Race coverage in one handy link here

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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.

At A Glance - Middle Sea Race 2023

The 44th Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on Saturday, 21 October 2023.

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