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Buildup to Middle Sea Challenge Sees Favourites at Front of the Fleet in Malta Coastal Race

15th October 2020
The Podesta family's First 45 Elusive 2 on her way to winning yesterday's 30-mile Malta Coastal Race in the buildup to Saturday's Rolex Middle Sea Race The Podesta family's First 45 Elusive 2 on her way to winning yesterday's 30-mile Malta Coastal Race in the buildup to Saturday's Rolex Middle Sea Race

The buildup to the 41st edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Offshore Race from Malta on Saturday (October 17th) continues in Valetta in muted style in line with pandemic restrictions, and while yesterday's traditional preview event, the Yachting Malta Coastal Race, may have been staged in idyllic conditions, it was with a smaller fleet than normal. This had already been expected in the circumstances, but numbers were further reduced by some Middle Sea Race participants being delayed by a storm on their way to Malta.

In conditions which showed the storms are well cleared for the time being, PRO Peter Dimech chose a race of approximately 30nm, starting from outside the Royal Malta Yacht Club, with the fleet rounding the island of Comino before returning to Marsamxett Harbour.

"It was champagne sailing," commented Dimech. "12-15 knots from the southwest building to 18 knots later in the day. There was about a metre of swell on the west coast of Comino, but flatter seas on the east coast."

In the first start, Timofey Zhbankov's Russian JPK 10.80 Rossko got the best start and went on to win their class and place second overall. In the second start, the Podesta family racing Maltese First 45 Elusive 2, the Middle Sea Race Overall winner in 2019, showed the way with great pace out of the harbour, going on to win the race overall after IRC time correction. Rossko was second and Jean-Pierre Dick's French JP54 The Kid – which took line honours - placed third overall on IRC.

round the world races veteran Jean-Pierre Dick's JP54 The Kid Multiple round the world races veteran Jean-Pierre Dick's JP54 The Kid took line honours in yesterday's Malta Coastal Race. He will be sailing his second Middle Sea challenge on Saturday with a Czech crew.

Christophta, co-skipper of Elusive 2, commented after the race: "Last year we showed our potential by winning the Rolex Middle Sea Race overall. We know it is a tough race to win and we are not getting big-headed. We hope we can be faster than in 2019 and win our class. But winning overall is dependent on things beyond our control, yet we can sail to our potential and certainly enjoy the race."

Jean-Pierre Dick's JP54 The Kid took line honours in an elapsed time of 2 hrs 47 mins 39 secs, and she will be sailing her second Rolex Middle Sea Race on Saturday with J-P Dick as skipper. A veteran of three Vendee Globe Races, he won the Barcelona Round the World Race in February 2008 with Ireland's Damian Foxall as co-skipper, resulting in a celebratory reception for the dynamic duo at Aras an Uachtarain in Dublin with President Mary McAleese and her family.

"We are competing with the same Czech-based crew, this race is a lot of fun and I come from Nice, so I love the Mediterranean," commented Dick. "Today's race was a good test for the boat in racing conditions and to practice manoeuvres and sail changes. Some of the boats did not make it for the Coastal Race because of the storm. However, for the Rolex Middle Sea Race there will be fierce competition. This is a different game to the Vendee Globe, but it is a challenge just the same, and this year the race is wide open."

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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