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Middle Sea Race Has Defending Champion Woman Skipper In Unique Double Role

9th October 2020
Doctor on Call……Dr Maya Podesta, overall winner of the 2019 Rolex Middle Sea Race on the First 45 Elusive, with her co-skippering brothers Aaron and Christoph and their crew at the prize-giving a year ago Doctor on Call……Dr Maya Podesta, overall winner of the 2019 Rolex Middle Sea Race on the First 45 Elusive, with her co-skippering brothers Aaron and Christoph and their crew at the prize-giving a year ago Credit: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Dr Maya Podesta belongs to one of Malta's most noted offshore sailing families. Her late father Arthur (who died in 2015) was a pioneer of the Middle Sea Race – he raced in the first one in 1968, and raced in many thereafter, crewing on the winning boat three times, and taking third overall in command of his own boat Elusive.

With a pedigree like that, Maya Podesta has always been into sailing, and the Rolex Middle Sea Race in particular. With her brothers Aaron and Christoph on the First 45 Elusive, the Podestas are a force to be reckoned with in Mediterranean sailing, and this was underlined in last year's Middle Sea Race, when George David's legendary Rambler 88 may have taken line honours, but Elusive was overall winner.

Thus there was never any question that Elusive would be back as defending champions in 2020. But it has now all come down to whether or not the Royal Malta Yacht Club can successfully maintain its careful progress through the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, something in which Maya Podesta is playing a key role.

The Maltese First 45 Elusive on her way to overall victory for the Podesta family in the 2019 Rolex Middle Sea RaceThe Maltese First 45 Elusive on her way to overall victory for the Podesta family in the 2019 Rolex Middle Sea Race. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

As 2020's race approaches, she is both an entry as the defending champion, and as a medical professional is the Consultant to Malta's Office of the Superintendence of Public Health. The OSPH is closely monitoring the effects of COVID-19 both in Malta and along the 606-mile race course, and will be giving advice as to whether or not the race should go ahead at the highest administrative level in the final stages before the scheduled start on Saturday, October 17th.

It's all being done on a softly-softly, day-by-day approach, and at the moment it's a case of so far, so good, with 79 boats entered from 21 countries, and all the crews fully informed as to what is expected of them by way of compliance, including infection-free self-isolation before travelling to Malta.

We keep our fingers crossed that Dr Podesta and her team can continue to keep the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2020 on track through these exceptionally difficult times.

Published in Offshore
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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