Rolex Middle Sea Race 2016 is underwayLa Valletta (Malta), October 22, 2016
The start of the Rolex Middle Sea Race is one of the most colourful and iconic moments in world sailing. The Grand Harbour of Valletta, Malta is akin to a stadium offering numerous vantage points both high and low and, of course, on the water. As the cannons of the Saluting Battery high up on the St. Peter & Paul Bastion signalled each class start, thousands of spectators revelled in brilliant sunshine and the light breeze funnelling though the harbour. Organized by the Royal Malta Yacht Club, 107 yachts are competing in the 37th edition of the 608 nautical mile Rolex Middle Sea Race. The event is also part of the IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge (edition 2016-2017).
The first start, comprising the smallest and slowest yachts, showed the way for the rest. The boats starting close under the walls of the recently restored Fort St. Angelo quickly entered good breeze. The Italian M37, DHL-Adelasia di Torres, with Caterina Nitto at the helm grabbed an early advantage and led the fleet into open water following a brave and confident piece of sailing to secure the favoured end of the line. The second start included Lee Satariano's Maltese J/122 Artie, which has won the race on two previous occasions. However, Jamie Sammut's Solaris 42 Unica sailing double-handed grabbed local bragging rights as first Maltese boat to pass the breakwater at the mouth of the harbour.
The most daring start of the day was pulled off by American skipper Clarke Murphy racing the Carbon Ocean 82 Aegir. A bold reaching start by the team at the pin end had the Maxi powering towards the fleet almost at right angles. With right of way and perfect timing, Aegir crossed the line as cannon smoke billowed into the sky. Tacking into clear air, the powerful yacht stretched her legs and led the big boat fleet, including the line honours favourite, Rambler 88, out of Grand Harbour.
The final start of the day was reserved for the three multihulls. With the monohull fleet clear of the starting area, Lloyd Thornburg's MOD70 Phaedo3 took the opportunity to prowl around the historic surroundings prior to the start. It was like something from the movies as the futuristic multihull glided beneath the 16th century battlements.
Of the three, Phaedo3 made the best start; Giovanni Soldini's MOD70 Maserati and Thierry Bouchard’s Multi50 Ciela Village, appearing more conservative in their approach.
At 16.00 CEST, five hours into the race, George David's Rambler 88 leads the monohull fleet, and is just shy of Capo Passero at the south east corner of Sicily. Rambler 88 is slowing from her early pace, but her enormous masthead Code Zero with a staysail and full main has so far proved a ballistic combination. The American Maxi will now be concentrating on finding sufficient breeze to get them through the wind shadow of Mount Etna.
Already past Capo Passero, Phaedo3 continues to lead the multihull fleet having blasted the passage between Malta and Sicily nudging 30 knots at times. With a flat sea and a perfect wind angle, Lloyd Thornburg’s team enjoyed ideal conditions for the first leg. The next stage along the eastern shore of Sicily towards the entrance to the Strait of Messina will prove more challenging with the wind expected to shut down overnight.
For more information including blogs from competitors, fleet tracking, pictures and videos go to: www.rolexmiddlesearace.com
Notes to Editors
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.
The 37th Rolex Middle Sea Race
22nd - 29th October 2016
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 608-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.
2015 welcomed an interesting fleet which included some high profile boats making up a total of 111 yachts, representing 22 countries to make yet another successful event. Monohull Line Honours went to George David’s Rambler 88 which arrived soon after Lloyd Thornburg's MOD 70 Phaedo 3, which was the first Multihull home. Michele Galli's Italian TP52, B2 won the Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy, whilst fellow Italian Vincenzo Onorato's Cookson 50, Mascalzone Latino won the Boccale Del Mediterraneao.
For more information about the Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Rolex Middle Sea Race.
Royal Malta Yacht Club
Address: Ta' Xbiex Seafront. Ta'Xbiex, XBX 1028, Malta
Telephone: +356 21 333109
For Press enquiries:
+356 9981 2345