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The British Olympic Association (BOA) has announced the names of the very first athletes to officially join Team GB for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

A total of eight athletes have been selected across six of the ten sailing events, who between them have won four Olympic medals and seven World Championship golds.

Giles Scott's is the first name to appear on the Rio teamsheet, with the 28-year-old, unbeaten in almost two years, set to make his Olympic debut in the Finn class.

London 2012 silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark are paired together again in the 470 Women's class while Luke Patience, who also won silver three years ago, teams up with two-time World Champion Elliot Willis in the 470 Men's event.

Bryony Shaw, who became Britain's first female Olympic medal-winning windsurfer with bronze at Beijing 2008, is set to contest her third Olympic Games next year in the RS:X Women's event.

London 2012 Olympian Alison Young returns in the Laser Radial while 2015 Laser World Champion Nick Thompson earns his first Olympic appearance to round off the first wave of sailing selections for Rio.

British sailors have won 55 medals - including 26 golds - since sailing made its debut at Paris 1900 with Team GB topping the overall Olympic sailing medal table.

Trials for the Irish Olympic team get underway in the mens and women's Laser class this Winter.

Published in Olympic

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 2024

First held: 1968

Organising Authority: Royal Malta Yacht Club

Start

The 45th Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on Saturday, 19 October 2024.

Grand Harbour, Valletta: seven separate starts, at 10-minute intervals, from 11:00 CEST Saturday, 21 October 2024

Start Line: between the Saluting Battery, Upper Barrakka Gardens (Valletta) and Fort St Angelo (Birgu)

Various vantage points all around the Grand Harbour, high up on the bastions or at water level. Harbour access for spectator boats is restricted during the period of the start.

Course

Set in the heart of the Mediterranean and is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. It starts and finishes in Malta, passes two active volcanoes and takes in the deep azure waters surrounding Sicily, and the Aeolian and Egadi Islands, as well as lonelier outposts of Pantelleria and Lampedusa, both closer to the African continent than Europe.

Length: 606 nautical miles (1,122km)

Outright Race Record: 33h 29m 28s, Argo, United States, Jason Carroll

Monohull Race Record: 40h 17m 50s, Comanche, Cayman Is, Mitch Booth

Main Trophies

Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy – overall race winner under IRC Time Correction

Boccale de Mediterraneo – winner of ORC category

RLR Trophy – winner of monohull line honours

Captain Morgan Trophy – winner of multihull division on corrected time (MOCRA)

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