#middlesearace – There were emotional scenes dockside in Malta this morning as Irish sailors Barry Hurley and Andrew Boyle sailed home in their 35-yacht Dinah to win the double handed class, they finished just 25 minutes inside the time limit after seven days of tense racing in the Rolex Middle Sea Race.
Hurley has described the race as the 'most intense' race he has ever sailed due to the stop start nature of the winds. In an exclusive podcast (below) by Afloat correspondent Louay Habib, Hurley admits there was 'real pressure' over the last few hours. The overall achievement has yet to sink in for the Dun Laoghaire pairing but it has not stopped early celebrations this morning that has made sailing the boat 3000 miles from Dun Laoghaire to Malta a really worthwhile conclusion to the 2012 season.
Only last night the pair were judged as outsiders to finish the race at all such has been the fickle conditions for the 33rd race but a favourable wind overnight allowed Hurely and Boyle to pick up seeds of 17 knots at times to cover 120 miles in 12 hours.
The Mediterranean odyssey ended with an official welcome home from Irish Ambassador Jim Hennessy who was waiting to welcome the Royal Irish Yacht Club boat and celebrate yet another international victory for the offshore sailing champions.
The crew of Dinah and Atame share a beer and a few stories dockside after tying up at The Royal Malta Yacht Club. The two teams had been locked in combat for 7 days and nights. L-R Beppe Bisotto, Barry Hurley, Ian Knight and Andrew Boyle Photo: Royal Malta Yacht Club/Louay Habib
Hennessy who held a pre-race reception for the Irish crews in Malta was also first to congratulate the pair on stepping ashore. 'It's a really gutsy performance that has defied a lot of the experts here in Malta. We're really proud of them, it's a great win, he told Afloat.ie as he held the tricolour aloft with the crew at the Royal Malta Yacht Club.
There was other Irish involvement in the race from Dun Laoghaire yacht Gallileo skippered by Des Keliher. The Beneteau 44.7 yacht retired due to the light winds on Tuesday but there has been Irish interest in at least two other international entries in the 83-boat fleet.
Fireball dinghy champion Kenny Rumball also from Dun Laoghaire was aboard German entry Kohinoor, a Carter 55 Custom Sloop and Irish sea offshore campaigners Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive was racing on the Maltese J122 entry Otra Vez.
As well as Irish boats heading to the Med for racing Ambassador Hennessy says he is keen to create a 'two way movement of boats' and is hopeful that Maltese boats with Irish sailors aboard will head north next year for 'The Gathering'.