Rolex Middle Sea Race: Pride of Malta
Friday, 26 October 2012
The Rolex Middle Sea Race has turned into a marathon offshore racing event, Esimit Europa 2 took three and a half days to complete the course but for over half the fleet, it is taking close to double that. Just completing the gruelling course is praise worthy but yesterday and in the early hours of this morning several class winners were also decided and the prestigious honour of being the first Maltese boat to cross the finish line.
Yesterday at 18:02, Josef Schultheis & Paolo Semeraro’s Xp44, XP-Pact crossed the finish line to provisionally win Class 3. The team has three Maltese sailors on board, Timmy Camilleri, Zach Cassar Torregiani and Sebastian Ripard.
“ That was a long race and we are very happy with our performance,” explained Sebastian Ripard. “The Xp44 is a great yacht but fully fitted out and considering the light conditions, we did very well to take the class. The last night at sea was a tough one, after we came around Lampedusa, a massive squall caught us by surprise, we had too much sail up and we just had to run before it, the situation was pretty bad but it got worse when the force of the wind meant we couldn’t get the sails down as we would like and everybody was scrambling around on deck getting the sail down as best we could.”
Whilst XP-ACT has three Maltese sailors, the first all Maltese yacht to cross the finish line was Artie RTFX. Last year’s overall winner is also the provisional winner of Class 4.
“We did our best, it was a great race and everybody did a great job working really hard but we just kept on getting stuck in patches of no wind, which was very frustrating. This is a difficult race but the first night makes or breaks it and we worked very hard the first night and we got it right and Artie is a great boat, she went really well. This race took a whole day longer than last year and it was really tiring mentally, you were always looking for the way out; you could never relax.
I would say luck wasn’t on our side at Capo St.Vito, on the northwest corner. We were just too late to get the wind at the corner and we probably lost 20 miles just because of that. The yachts slightly larger than us just managed to ride the good weather, if we had managed to turn that corner with them, we would probably be singing by now.”
Artie RTFX was under considerable pressure to be the first Maltese boat home. Jonas Diamantino & Ramon Sant Hill’s ILC40, Comanche Raider 2 Gasanmamo pushed them all the way to the finish, as Christian Ripard explains.
‘Comanche caught up about 20 miles on us, I was anxious watching them close the gap on us but in a way that was fantastic. There are a lot of good people doing the race this year. All of the crew on Artie are amateurs but they are top class sailors, we have had more or less the same crew for the last three races. I am the old man on the boat but they really know what they are doing and they keep me young! Many of them are dinghy champions that have got into keelboat racing and they are the future of yachting in Malta and the Rolex Middle Sea Race is a major occasion in our country and a fantastic showcase for our sport.”
Two more Maltese yachts are expected to finish this morning, Arthur Podesta’s First 45, Elusive 2 and David Anastasi’s J/133 Oiltanking Juno.
See Rolex Middle Sea Race images
Last Updated ( Friday, 26 October 2012 )