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Displaying items by tag: Middle Sea Race

In the closing stages of the Rolex Middle Sea Race today Ireland's only boat in the race, Legally Brunette from Dun Laoghaire is reported as 'retired'. 32 boats have finished the race and 32 are still racing. Retired boats reported by the race office include Libera, Legally Brunette, Allegra Garmin, and Aziza bringing the total number of retired boats to 12.

More from the race organisers below but no news yet why the Dun Laoghaire yacht is out.: 

If you have any interest in peering at a yacht tracker incessantly, you would have surely been following the track of the J/122 Artie in the Rolex Middle Sea Race last night. Since the race start four days ago, the Maltese boat had been seemingly guided by keen local knowledge, as well as sharp sailing talent. In a race which, this year, has been called ‘tricky’, or ‘challenging’, co-skippers Lee Satariano and Christian Ripard have worked their way around numerous wind holes, keeping the boat moving in light air, as well as hunkered down on the rail, full-metal jacket sailing down the proverbial bomb alley along the west coast of Sicily, and around Pantelleria, and Lampedusa.

After the R/P 100 Esimit Europa 2 claimed line honours on Monday, the Slovenian maxi held the corrected lead, but only until the TP52 Lucky (USA) completed a fantastic lap around Sicily to take the overall handicap lead. Then it was down to Artie, and for a while, fellow Maltese boat Jaru, a J/133, to see if they could beat the clock. Artie had to finish at 08.18 this morning, and at the various checkpoints of the course that meant averaging around mid-9 knots. They had shown flashes of this speed, so it was all possible. It was pretty impressive sailing in a J/122, a 40-foot performance racer-cruiser class that has had great success at several offshore events, including the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Artie had a fast passage last night hitting boat speeds in the high teens, from Lampedusa through the South Comino Channel. Between Gozo and Comino the breeze held out, but around 08.00, as Artie sailed into Marsamxett Harbour, the breeze dropped away along with any chance of making the cutoff. Crossing the line at 08:44, Artie missed the overall win by a mere 26 minutes.

Owner and co-skipper Lee Satariano could be expected to be disappointed, though he said, “Last night we had a good hour where the boat was just surfing down the waves. I really enjoyed that moment, it was really moving.”

“There was really nothing I would change, we raced the boat to full optimization, but we have only had this boat for a short time and we are very happy with our achievement. We knew on the last day that we were close to having first overall, but from the beginning to the end we were always pushing it to the limit. At no point did we take it easy. The entries for the Rolex Middle Sea Race have been increasing every year and the competition is reaching a very high level.  Maltese boats have shown well in recent races, we are up there; we can compete with the international competition.”

Artie’s co-skipper, Christian Ripard was also full of wonder about the blast home on the last night. “The last night was just wonderful sailing and the crew had become fully in tune with each other. We were sailing on the edge and that requires precision, something that can only be achieved by perfect harmony which comes with time together on the boat.” Ripard was the skipper of Straight Dealer, the J/125 that won the 2001 Rolex Middle Sea Race overall. Christian Ripard is also one of a legion of sailing Ripards here in Malta. He is the son of late Paul Ripard, one of the founders of this iconic race, along with his uncle John Ripard, Sr., a well-known and respected international judge.

So with that finish missed, it would put American Bryon Ehrhart’s boat, Lucky as provisional leader overall on corrected time in IRC. Ehrhart was at the Royal Malta Yacht Club with his crew earlier today, and spoke about the race and Lucky’s provisional overall win. “It’s beyond my expectations. We came wanting to do a very interesting race, and we had that, and a good performance to match.

“The Rolex Middle Sea Race has a great reputation, which is why we came all the way down here. We thought it would be an interesting race, it turned out to be much more interesting – every sail on the boat was used, from the lightest flapper to the strongest spinnaker was put up. A very, very challenging race…technically and strategically, and thankfully, we had great navigation from Ian (Moore).  Those crucial calls saved us hours and hours, and I think the corrected time difference was 25 minutes, so it’s those kinds of calls that were important. To make the calls how Ian made the calls was pure genius.

“Then, there were all the boys working the boat. This is a very challenging, physical race, and the boys worked the boat really hard all time, and kept us really focused. We had great people sailing against us that were almost always in sight, so the boat Pace, the Cookson 50 (Cantankerous), and Wild Joe, really kept us on our toes.

Ehrhart an active member of both the New York Yacht Club and Chicago Yacht Club said, “To come and do well against the European fleets, and we’ve raced against them now, they are tough. We’ve raced elsewhere around the world and these guys are very, very challenging to sail against.  All the time you have to be on your game to come here. I’d encourage everyone to come here and challenge.

It’s unbelievable when you see the true, spewing volcano of Stromboli, it’s phenomenal. You get to encounter different colored smoke and red lava – you don’t see that in Chicago. The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a classic, and in my mind it will certainly remain a classic. I would encourage everyone to come here. This is the most interesting race I’ve ever done and I’ve done a lot.

Lucky’s plans for next season include the Giraglia Rolex Cup next June, and then the Rolex Fastnet Race. Following those races, the boat will sail transatlantic, compete in the Jamaica Race, then to the west coast of the U.S. for the Transpac Race, to Hawaii, enroute to Hong Kong for the Rolex China Sea Race. This is a boat, and a man, on the move. But then this is the same man who on a layday before the start, along with crew member Alastair Speare-Cole, spent 4-1/2 hours scaling the 3,500 metre Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe, “because you don’t get much exercise for your legs when you’re sailing.”

The TransPac 52 is more of an obvious choice for around the buoys racing, but the boats are quite competitive – though not necessarily comfortable – for fast offshore passages. Ehrhart said, “The boats are quite solid. We have one of the older TransPac 52s, when they were still making them really for this ‘at sea’ performance. We have very good confidence that that boat’s not going to fall apart. But the human toll is real, we have a 73-year old crew person – he’s an Etchells sailor from Florida – he’s very, very fit and did a great job. But, it’s the kind of boat you want to bring a lot of aspirin, to relieve some of that pain. This boat is very physical and any race where you have breeze over 20 knots, for any sustained period, there’s a human toll involved, but we don’t come to sit on a sofa, we came to do the Rolex Middle Sea Race.”

First Maltese boat home was Andrew Calascione’s J/133 Jaru, after 3 days, 20 hours, 2 minutes. Calascione said, “Sailing last night was one of those really special nights. First of all the moon came up at a certain time where we were actually heading into it. We probably had a steady 17 knots of wind – chute up – and squalls to 25 knots, with just fantastic speeds because the wind was off the port quarter. Big seas, just a fantastic night of sailing, one of those things you dream of, twelve hours of it! The crew is in great shape, so it was good.”

Other Maltese boats still racing reported in this morning. At 0821, double-hander Anthony Camilleri on BOV Plain Sailing Tango, reported in, “Tired and exhausted, but happy to still be racing. Just had our third stormy night crossing to Pantelleria. We had a lot more wind than forecast, with gusts of 40 knots plus. Sailed all night with just a number three jib, surfing at 9 knots.”

From Elusive 2 Medbank, Maya Podesta emailed in at 0930 this morning, “Finally on the last leg home, after two washing machine nights! Squalls always seem to wait for nighttime to hit, but also add on lunchtime now too! Yesterday’s sailing took us sailing up and down through squalls, so we had some lovely full rainbow sights. The night sky should have been lit up with a full moon, but instead it was dark and alive with lightning – a massive storm in full brew! Déjà vu saw the main going down and up to 1st or 2nd reef a number of times. But we’ve got through, safe and sound and looking forward to getting home and some sleep!”

Published in Offshore

The group of boats that arrived at the finish line in Marsamxett Harbour this afternoon spent most of the 600 miles within reach of each other, and how they made some key tactical decisions along the way would make or break their results.

Dun Laoghaire's Legally Brunette is over the top of the Sicily and heading for home. Tonight at 2000 hours she was heading 122 degrees and doing seven knots. The screen shot  below from the race tracker shows the sole Irish boat (marked by a red box) in the top left hand corner.

legallybrunette

Vladimir Proshikin's chartered Volvo 70 E1 (RUS) crossed the finish line at 12.35 today, in fourth place on elapsed time. The Russian sailor, from St Petersburg competed last year on his Shipman 72, a performance cruiser/racer, quite the polar opposite of this five-year old round-the-world ocean racer. While the conditions were lighter this year, the crew had a workout with numerous sail changes, a net wrapped around the keel and a canting keel stuck off center for the last ten miles. Still, on the quay after the finish, Proshikin was clearly elated and quite animated in relating the trip. "This race was a bit slower, but in light air it's even more demanding. It was fun and it's quite intriguing, but took a bit longer so we are a bit tired. It's a vey impressive race, difficult conditions, with many islands -- it's not like running 600 miles from start to finish in a straight line, it's tricky.

"We had some bad luck a couple of times, catching the net around the keel for several hours (which required a neat trick where they sheeted in the main and canted the keel the wrong way, so a crew member could 'walk' out and then get in the water to dive and cut it away). We're on the boat for the first time as a crew, with only a week of training, and it's a very complex boat. Sometimes you are lucky, and sometimes not...but overall, I'm happy!"

But it was Bryon Ehrhart's TP52 Lucky, that crossed the finish line after 3 days, 3 hours, 16 minutes, which put the US boat on top of the leader board on corrected time, for now.

The Chicago-based skipper/owner has had the Rolex Middle Sea Race on his 'to do' list for awhile and has methodically planned a race schedule – that included last year's Rolex Fastnet Race – that would give them some good practice and put them in the Med this year. Ehrhart said, "What a great race and probably the best offshore race we've done in terms of the style of race. Getting up through Messina was a challenge on it's own – it's like multiple regattas within one large long race, it's very scenic, but there are opportunities to screw up all over the place!

"But thankfully, Ian Moore is a fantastic navigator. We were very happy with the calls we made all the way around. Times where we thought we'd have a lifts, we generally had lifts; times we'd thought we'd get knocks coming into important marks, we got knocks. So a lot of worry and decision about whether 25-50 miles out you're going to make the right decision about sailing this course to get to a knock or lift, and I put it up to his genius in getting us there.

"We spent a lot of time next to Wild Joe, she was actually an additional motivator. Several times we were in and out with her. The Cookson 50 (Cantankerous), Wild Joe, and Pace – we were on each others' mind all the time."

Ian Moore who, as a last-minute addition to the crew, seemed to have earned his keep with their impressive performance. The Irish Volvo Ocean Race veteran and BMW Oracle America's Cup crew member said, "It was good race, pretty exciting, lots of lead changes. We were pleased every time we managed to pass (the TP52) Pace, and then their boat speed got up again, and then we got another opportunity. Lots of moments the race would restart and give us the option to use our abilities.

Of the difference between the two TP52s, Moore said, "They are very different vintages. Pace was built for the TP52 Worlds in Miami and is an ultra-light racing machine. Lucky was designed to race across the Pacific Ocean and be able to keep the crew on board on that 3000 nm passage. Pace is an inshore racing boat, and Lucky is an ocean-going boat, a lot heavier, stronger. But, it's nice for me to sail on this boat, to know this is a good, strong and safe boat. Every time you take a normal TP52 on a race track, you are always crossing your fingers and hoping it's going to stand the test of time."

Moore enjoyed the course and said, "It is a spectacular course; it's a circular course, start and finishing in Malta. Going up to the Strait of Messina and just running into that five knots of current, apparently from nowhere, and going around the smoking volcano of Stromboli and all the islands, including Pantelleria, Lampedusa. They're like an island in the middle of nowhere, but there are always people living on there, no bigger than a view football pitches. It's really a pretty amazing race track; it's lovely to come and do it again."

This was Wild Joe's skipper/owner, Marton Jozsa third Rolex Middle Sea Race, though for most of his Hungarian crew it was their first-ever offshore race. Jozsa said, "I think this is the first good offshore racing result in Hungarian sailing, so I think we can be satisfied with this result – and we are! We have one guy from Australia with experience in offshore racing and it is very good to have this guy on board.

"We very much like sailing here in Malta and also in this race, so I hope we will be here again. Besides some races in Croatia, next year we are planning to take part in Rolex Capri Sailing Week in May – for us, the Rolex Volcano Race – and after, we will see."

Bret Perry, strategist and the lone Australian onboard Wild Joe, said, "The team is a bunch of dinghy sailors, and it's their first offshore experience. It's a new boat to Hungary, and not many people have seen a Hungarian sailing team. I didn't know quite what to expect myself, but once we got sailing on the boat, the crew was really fantastic, sailing 100%, and gave us every opportunity to finish where we finished.

"You have to be realistic and get out there and do your best, but to get what we achieved they should be really, really proud. They're all so talented, they're Olympic-level sailors, they know what's going on, they just need to understand the bigger picture and get out of windward-leeward type of sailing – and this is their first experience in an offshore boat.

Jonas Diamantino's Comanche Raider II, from the Royal Malta Yacht Club, has been taking a pasting but spirits are high, as he explained as they passed Pantelleria earlier today. "Pretty hectic, pretty scary. We got hit by a 45-knot squall, with very confused seas, and it was all on. But everybody is fine and so is the boat, but it was a tough few hours. We are now doing ten knots and heading for home.  Tell the bar at the club to get the beer on ice!"

Lucky are currently leading overall on corrected time in IRC, but they have to withstand challenges from at least two boats that are in contention for the overall win. Sort of like history repeating itself, the two boats are the Lee Satariano & Christian Ripard's J/122 Artie, and John Ripard & Andrew Calascione's J/133 Jaru. The last time a Maltese boat won the Rolex Middle Sea race overall was Market Wizard in 2002 with Ripard & Calascione, and in 2001 it was Christian Ripard's Straight Dealer.

The Maltese Beneteau 411, Fekruna, retired just west of Stromboli, bringing the total number of retired boats to eight, with eight boats finished and 60 still racing.

The race fleet can be tracked online at www.rolexmiddlesearace.com/tracker/#tracker

The final prize giving is at 12.00pm on Saturday, 30 October at the Mediterranean Conference Center in Valletta.

Published in Offshore
21st October 2010

Fleet Ready for Malta Race

The bulk of the Rolex Middle Sea Race fleet is situated in Grand Harbour, the waterfront area of Valletta, specifically in Galley Creek, the body of water that lies between Fort Saint Angelo and Fort Saint Michael. Towering above the fleet docked in the Grand Harbour Marina in Birgu, is the 19th-century clock tower, built of iron, steel, and Maltese rock, rising above the Malta Maritime Museum. The museum, formerly the Royal Naval Bakery was constructed in the mid-1900s and supplied the Royal Navy's Mediterranean fleet, but equally important was that the clock was used to set marine chronometers of the day.

Malta is rich in history, 7,000 years of it, particularly the seafaring kind. What with Malta being the site of St. Paul's – yes, the Apostle – shipwreck in A.D. 60, it doesn't get much richer than that. The island's location smack in the middle of the Mediterranean made it the natural locus of the traditional trading routes. Though these days it's a little off the beaten path for the regular yacht racing circuit, that seems to work to it's advantage as well – you have to want to do the Rolex Middle Sea Race to make the trek here. And once you've done it the first time, chances are you'll feel compelled to return again.

Piero Paniccia, skipper and owner of the canting-keeled Cookson 50, Calipso IV (ITA) is back for his 2nd Rolex Middle Sea Race. For Paniccia, it's worth the 600-nautical mile delivery from his homeport of Civitinova Marche, Italy, on the Adriatic, to get here. Tending to some last details onboard he said, "We are very happy to be here because this is the most important race in the Mediterranean.

"The forecast that we have for Saturday's start is for wind from the southeast – the sirocco – so the first leg should be a fast delivery to Messina. For us it's a good forecast because the boat will be fast in those conditions. I think the crew is okay and we have the opportunity to do a good result."

Paniccia has owned the boat since 2005 and has upgraded it from year to year. Of the 2009 race, he said, "we won our class, and for a few minutes we were in 2nd place in IRC!

"The race is important for us; it's a challenge for us – to say that we have participated and finished the Rolex Middle Sea Race, okay, you are really a sailor. Finally, it's a holiday for us and to have some days in Malta, it's pretty nice!"

Edward Broadway on the Farr 40, Hooligan VI (GBR) is another returnee. Broadway said, "It's a very special event, this one. Last year we were surprised with the speed changes. We understand weather in Northern Europe, which is understandable because of fronts coming, but here we were not very good in reading the weather signs. We will be better this year."

Hooligan IV spent the summer competing in the highly competitive Farr 40 Mediterranean circuit. He said, "we are the only amateur crew, and we came last in both regattas. But in Porto Rotondo, our last regatta, we weren't last in every race, so we're starting to be competitive with some of the best of the world. We are very happy about.

"We've got four of the same crew for this race, and I have some of my inshore crew from the Mediterranean events, as well as some of my youth crew. I would say we are getting better!"

As to what draws him back to the race? Broadway offered, "It's challenging. But it is everything more than that. But it was challenging for us last year. This year it will be enjoyable, I think; we are looking forward to it immensely. This is the fourth time I have been to Malta. Grand Harbour is stunning, just stunning – to sail into a crusader Fort, it's unbelievable!"

Tomorrow is another layday before the Rolex Middle Sea Race start at 11.00am on Saturday, 23 October 2010. Tonight is the Crew Party at the Royal Malta Yacht Club, and on Friday there will be a Skipper's Weather Briefing. The final prize giving is on Saturday, 30 October.

George David's Rambler (USA) established the current Course Record of 47 hours, 55 minutes, and 3 seconds in 2007.

Published in Offshore
Tagged under

Dark clouds scudded across the sky over Valletta, bringing with it wind pressure for the ten boats that took to the start line for a coastal race in advance of Saturday's start of the premier event, the Rolex Middle Sea Race. The fleet – just a part of the 84 yachts entered in the offshore race – used the approximately 24 mile course as a warm-up, a chance for the foreign boats to shake off the jet lag and get crews sailing together, for some the first time in these waters.

One Irish boat is entered in the race Legally Brunette from Dun Laoghaire but one of Ireland's top short handed sailors is on board a Maltese entry.

"Aziza", a Grand Soleil 40 owned by Sandro Musu, will be racing with a half Irish, half Maltese crew.

It is Hurley's fifth Middle Sea Race in a row, and this year "I'm proud to be able to introduce three other Irish offshore sailors to one of the best middle-distance offshore races in the world" he told Afloat.ie. Hurley, Andrew Boyle, Fireball champion Brian Flahive, and Liam Coyne will sail Aziza under the burgee of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. The rest of the crew is local.

The coastal course also gave a chance to sort out the local conditions, which were fresh today, as well as this archipelago's fascinating geography. The fleet started in Marsamxett Harbour, in the shadow of the towering spire of St Paul's Cathedral and the landmark dome of the Carmelite Church. There was no shadow from the breeze however, which shortly before the start piped up to 15 to 18 knots. The northwesterly wind angle put the fleet on a broad reach and shortly after the start, many boats put up spinnakers or big genoas; the TP52 Lucky hoisted an asymmetrical spinnaker and shot to weather of the fleet and led out of the harbour. At the opposite end of the line was the 38-footer, Seawolf of Southampton (GIB) flying a symmetrical kite, that enabled them to sail more of a rhumbline course down the coast. Offshore the 3 - 4 metre sea was slightly bigger than the accompanying 18 to 20 knots of breeze; once on the opposite gybe the bigger boats made use of the following seas to surf at speeds of 18+ knots in the gusts.

The course took the boats a mile out to a fairway buoy, and then on the opposite gybe, around and down the eastern end of Malta to round the outer island of Filfla, leaving it to starboard, and a long beat back to the finish in Marsamxett Harbour.

Today's fleet was a good cross section of the breadth of the full list of competitors with boats from Russia, Italy, Switzerland, Gibraltar, United States, and United Kingdom. The lone Maltese boat was Elusive Medbank (MLT), Arthur Podesta's  Beneteau 45. This will be Podesta's 31st Rolex Middle Sea Race, and the lifetime sailor has the distinction of having done every race since the inaugural start in 1968. His track record is good with wins in 1970 and 1983, and a 2nd and 3rd place as skipper. Arthur's core crew is made up of his daughter Maya (who's done 9 races), and his two sons Aaron (9 races) and Christoph (8 races).

Following today's coastal race, Podesta reflected on the day, "It was a fantastic pre- Rolex Middle Sea warm-up. We're going to start off next Saturday in less wind; it might build up but it's good that we had today's wind that topped 27 knots. We managed spinnakers, we managed to top 15 knots of boat speed, and we also managed not to break anything, so that's a good hooray."

The conditions down the coast got lumpier and several competitors – Lucky and Bonita – retired rather than risk breakdowns that would keep them from the main event. Bryon Ehrhart, Lucky's owner/skipper said "We came here to do the offshore race, everything was fine, though with 24+knots we probably should have tucked a reef in. But we got the boat going, we checked out all the safety equipment, and we're ready to go on Saturday."

The first boat to finish was the Valentine Zubkov' Shipman 63, Coral (RUS), at 14:29:12 (an elapsed time of 4 hrs, 29 mins); but, it was David Latham's Seawolf that won the coastal race on corrected time, followed in 2nd place by Elusive Medbank, Peter Hopps' Nisida (GBR) in 3rd, and Coral in 4th (the balance of results were pending at press time).

Valentin Zubkov, owner/skipper of line honours winner, Coral, said, "It was really a good wind. They (RMYC Race Committee) gave us a long course around Malta, the wind was 25-30 knots; it was fantastic. To be honest, we didn't hoist all of our sails, keeping safe, but we hoisted a large 330 sq m gennaker and our maximum speed was 22 knots."

This will be Zubkov's third Rolex Middle Sea Race on Coral; in 2008 they were 11th on elapsed time, but corrected out to 56th place as the boats' handicap reflects the carbon boom and rigging.  In the strong winds of the 2009 race, they ripped the main and jib and broke the furling system and had to retire. This year, with some improvements to deck hardware and new sails, Zubkov said, "Now we have three professionals from Synergy, the Russian team...we grew up together. It's a little better, now we have 50/50 pros and amateurs (six + six).

"This is one of the top regattas for me, I can't go to Rolex Sydney Hobart, and no chance to go to Rolex Fastnet, so this is the most high-rated regatta and it's the end of the season. We try very hard to be here, and we put a lot of effort into it. I like this race, it's very interesting: there's no wind, and then there's strong wind."

Quite a few boats and competitors are still enroute to Malta, while many of those already here spent the day dockside running through a punch list of tasks to complete over the next three days.  The 606-nautical mile offshore race begins on Saturday from Grand Harbour, with a start at 11.00am.

Tomorrow, Thursday, is a Crew Party at the Royal Malta Yacht Club, and on Friday there will be a skipper's race and weather briefing. The Rolex Middle Sea Race commences on Saturday, 23 October 2010. The final prize giving is on Saturday, 30 October. George David's Rambler (USA) established the current Course Record of 47 hours, 55 minutes, and 3 seconds in 2007.

Published in Offshore

The summer sailing season is halfway through in the northern hemisphere. For some yachts their autumn schedule is coming to the fore. The Rolex Middle Sea Race has long been the season closing offshore race. Last year  73 yachts have entered so far, only five short of 2008s record number but there was only one entry from Ireland, Legally Brunette from Dun Laoghaire. Will there be any takers this year. We'll have to wait and see.

At 606-nautical-miles it is a major test in anyone's programme and once again, the 31st edition is attracting the usual mix of professional and Corinthian adventurers willing to pit their skills and reputations against one of the most technically demanding races in the calendar. The nature of the course and its location make predicting the weather and the winner a lottery, but when 2010 Rolex Middle Sea Race starts from Grand Harbour on 23 October, a raft of uncertainties will be answered.

At present 25 yachts have committed themselves to the challenge, which according to Commodore Georges Bonello Dupuis is a good showing at this stage in proceedings, "of course, we'd be happier with more, we are always greedy! We have grown used to a surge in September as those that have planned the race for some months finally submit their entry form. We always hope to beat the previous year's fleet, but seventy yachts may prove too much." On 23 October, we'll know the answer.

The largest and fastest yacht entered is 30.5-metre (100-foot) racing maxi Esimit Europa 2 (EUR) (formerly Alfa Romeo II). The yacht itself has graced the four-cornered race once before in 2006. She was unable to show her true pedigree as light winds plagued the second half of the course, which takes the fleet from Malta, through the Strait of Messina, past Stromboli across the northern coast of Sicily, through the Egadi Islands and south to Lampedusa and Pantelleria, before heading eastwards back to Malta. Under new ownership, Slovenian Igor Simcic, and new management, Italian Flavio Favini, Esimit proved herself still to be the fastest yacht in Europe by winning line honours at the Giraglia Rolex Cup in June. On 23 October we will know if Esimit has a shot at the course record of 47 hours 55 minutes and 3 seconds set in 2008 by the American yacht Rambler.

At the moment, the newest yacht expected on the start line is the 24.5-metre (80-foot) Singularity. Designed by Adrian Konynendyk and built by McConaghy in Australia, Singularity was launched earlier this year. According to racing skipper, Bouwe Bekking, who won the race overall on his last visit in 2006 with Morning Glory, Singularity looks and performs like a racing yacht, but conceals a full interior designed by Mark Tucker and Design Unlimited. "She defies logic," says Bekking. "With her performance polars you'd imagine she must be like a Volvo 70 down below. She's not at all. She has a lightweight interior, but of the highest quality and luxury. We're looking forward to the race; it is a true tactical challenge. Hopefully, we'll get breeze all the way around the course." On 23 October we will get to see what Singularity is truly made of.

Looking at other parts of the fleet: the oldest yacht entered to date is the forty-year old Andrea (NED), a Camper & Nicholson 55 skippered by Jacobus Labeij. The smallest yacht is Claudio Barzan's X-362 Spinone Offshore (ITA) with a length overall of 10.72-metres (35 feet). The furthest travelled category is likely to be taken by American Bryon Erhart's modified TP52 Lucky, although the Ukrainian entry Moryanka of Yaroslav Isakov claims its homeport is in The Seychelles. Jonas Diamantino, Comanche Raider II Gasan Mamo Insurance (MLT) holds pole position as most experienced skipper with nine races under his belt, closely followed by Filippo Lancelotti, Sciara (ITA), who is aiming for his ninth Rolex Middle Sea Race.

With substantially more entries expected, between now and October, a number of these claims may well be supplanted. What is certain though is that all competitors, young and old, professional or Corinthian, contender or adventurer, fast or slow, that are on the start line on 23 October will be shaping more of the history of this remarkable race.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race commences on Saturday, 23 October 2010.
Entries close on 15 October.

Published in Offshore
Page 7 of 7

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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