Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Crosshaven's Nin O'Leary Gives Aragon the Rock-Star Glitter in Ace Start to Middle Sea Race

19th October 2020
Tacks-free zone……the R-P/Marteen 72 Aragon leads the Rolex Middle Sea Race start out of Valetta Harbour with Nin O'Leary on the helm in an exemplary tacking-free exit Tacks-free zone……the R-P/Marteen 72 Aragon leads the Rolex Middle Sea Race start out of Valetta Harbour with Nin O'Leary on the helm in an exemplary tacking-free exit Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Nice one, Nin. With a sailing rockstar recruited into your crew, it's reasonable to expect a 22-carat gold rockstar introduction to the on-stage performance. And Crosshaven super-helm Nin O'Leary certainly came up with the goods at the start of the Rolex Middle Sea Race in Malta yesterday, when he sliced out of the harbour in one single uninterrupted port tack with the Dutch-owned R-P/Marteen 72 Aragon, getting clear first into open water when others further down the line in the classes coming along later saw some time-consuming experiences of zig-zagging in the in-harbour flukey winds.

Although the organisers were still looking at 71 starters from 21 countries a week ago, as the start approached and the COVID-19 shutters came down with increasing severity in Europe, there were drop-outs. These included the famous Lombard 45 Pata Negra on charter to Andrew Hall of ISORA and Pwllheli, and in the end the Royal Malta YC did well to get just under 50 boats from 15 countries heading away on the 606-mile course anti-clockwise round Sicily and assorted islands.

Rolex Middle Sea Race CourseThe Rolex Middle Sea Race Course has everything except – for the moment – record-making wind strengths

They are doing it in a weather pattern of lightish winds which has already ruled out any possibility of a new record, but has nevertheless given the small but select Irish representation at the front of the fleet their time in the limelight. For in addition to the O'Leary talent on Aragon, the MOD 70 trimaran Mano, with Mikey Ferguson of Belfast Lough on board, was leading the multi-hulls.

It was a frustrating business getting along Sicily's East Coast and through the Straits of Messina, and out ahead among the multis the leader after putting Stromboli astern was Maserati with Mano third, while in IRC the Volvo 70 I Love Poland was the front runner.

The Belgian Swan 50 Balthasar was overall leader at MessinaThe Belgian Swan 50 Balthasar was overall leader at Messina

However, on corrected time at Messina, the IRC leader was the Swan 50 Balthasar (Louis Balcaen, Belgium), but the Podesta family of Malta's defending champion, the First 45 Elusive 2, was well in touch in third, just 20 minutes being the Belgian boat on CT.

And of the biggies, Aragon was doing best - she was sixth overall, on Corrected Time, close behind two boats with strong Round Ireland Race links, Eric de Turckheim's Teasing Machine and Tonnere de Glen, the former Piet Vroon Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens

There's no "ocean racing" course quite like the Middle Sea, and in the current weather setup, there'll be plenty of frustration and placing upsets before they finish. But at least this very special race is up and running, and taking part in it is just about the healthiest thing that those involved could be doing.

Published in Offshore
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

Email The Author

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.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Car Brands

subaru sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton dob
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

quantum sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating