Start of the Rolex Middle Sea Race a grand occasion

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Malta's Grand Harbour is unique and there is no finer moment to view the stunning vista than the start of The Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Thousands of spectators watched the start from the 18 story-high battlements of Valetta with race fans cheering on the international fleet. For the first time, a worldwide audience watched the start via web cam on the official Rolex Middle Sea Race website. 99 yachts started the 606-mile race with the record fleet setting off from Malta, bound for the Strait of Messina between Sicily and the Italian mainland. With sparkling sunshine and a warm southerly breeze of 12 knots, all six starts got away without any major incident. Weather forecasts for the race are predicting stable wind from the south, potentially increasing as the race unfolds.

In the first start, Marek Chatrny's Czech Class 40, Fulcrum skippered by Phil Sharp got away well, with five Class 40s racing, the exciting ocean-going yachts should have a great battle. The start included 12 yachts racing in the IRC Two Handed Class. Racing over 600 miles is a real test for a fully crewed yacht but with just two crew, it is a marathon of personal achievement just to finish the race.

In IRC 4, Massimo Colosimo's J/111, Jstorm boldly flew their spinnaker approaching the line but broached out, as Marco Flandin's J/111, Black Bull took up the lead leaving Grand Harbour. Tim Thubron's British Reflex 38, Lion Logic and David Latham's Pronavia 38, Seawolf of Southampton were in close pursuit.

IRC 3 proved to be the most competitive start with two local yachts fighting for the favoured right hand side of the course. Comanche Raider II Gasanmamo and Oiltanking Juno were locked together in a race to exit the narrow confines of the Grand Harbour. Phillipe Falle & Peter Rutter's Trustmarque Quokka started towards the middle of the line and got away in clear air, to exit into open water before the chasing pack. Lee Satariano & Christian Ripard's Artie-RTFX had a conservative start.

The fifth start featured 18 yachts, 50 feet or over, racing in IRC 2, Alexander Markhov's Bavaria 50 was just a second too early and had to turn back to start correctly. Roberto Lacorte's Italian custom 65, Nikka Sixty Five, with legendary tactician Tomasso Chieffi on board, got away to a flying start. Michele Galli's Italian IRC 52, B2 with Francesco de Angelis as tactician, was not far behind. Johann Killinger's elegant Swan 60, Emma was also vying for the class lead.

The last start featured the nine fast high performance yachts racing in IRC 1 and two IMOCA 60s. Andre Soriano's British Mills 72, Alegre nailed the start ahead of Luca Simone's Italian JV72, Robertissima II. However, Hasso Platner's Z-86, Morning Glory showed immense power rolling both of the Mini Maxis as the big yachts left the Grand Harbour.

At 1500 local time on Day One, the Rolex Middle Sea Race tracker shows Morning Glory leading on the water, about a mile ahead of Alegre both yachts are averaging over 12 knots. The biggest ever edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race is now underway. The race is notorious for producing surprises, so expect the unexpected.

The 34th Rolex Middle Sea Race

The Rolex Middle Sea Race takes place in the heart of the Mediterranean and covers one of the most beautiful courses in the world. Starting and finishing in Malta, the 606-nautical mile route includes the deep azure waters of Sicily and the Strait of Messina, the islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa, and even features Stromboli's active volcano as a course mark.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a highly rated offshore classic, often mentioned in the same breath as the Rolex Fastnet, The Rolex Sydney - Hobart and Newport-Bermuda as a "must do" race. The Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club co-founded the race in 1968.

The 2013 edition has a record entry with 99 yachts competing from all over the world with approximately 1000 sailors taking part. Counting support staff, media, competitors' friends and family, well over a thousand people will have visited Malta as a direct result of the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Through TV, print and on line media, The Rolex Middle Sea Race highlights the attraction of Malta and its islands to a worldwide audience.

The Royal Malta Yacht Club

Founded in 1835. It is the only yacht club in Malta and is a founder member of the Malta Sailing Federation. The Royal Malta Yacht Club has a deep commitment to yachting and organises a full programme of racing and social activities throughout the year. Located right on the water in Ta’ Xbiex Marina the club offers extraordinary facilities which include a lounge bar and dining area with outdoor terraces, roof top terrace, conference rooms, a fitness room with changing rooms, waterfront facilities for small boats and a seasonal marina for larger boats.

The club is an ideal base for yachtsmen whether for racing or cruising at any time of year. It is a favourite port of call for members of renowned yacht clubs from all over the world with which the club has reciprocal agreements. The members vary in age and profession but share a common passion for, yachting and the social life that is generated around the club.

Race Reporter: Louay Habib:

Royal Malta Yacht Club

See Rolex Middle Sea Race images

Last Updated ( Saturday, 19 October 2013 )