Rolex Middle Sea Race 2016, Day Two. Morning ReportLa Valletta (Malta), October 23, 2016
Overnight the Rolex Middle Sea Race fleet made good progress up the eastern seaboard of Sicily and this morning the bulk of the entrants were approaching the Strait of Messina.
The American multihull, Lloyd Thornburg's MOD70 Phaedo3 is currently the fastest boat on the water and at her current rate of progress could well pass the notional half way mark within 24 hours of the start.
Compatriot, George David and the crew on Maxi Rambler 88 took up the early running in the monohull fleet, but overnight a pack of chasing yachts has threatened the American yacht’s quest for a second successive Line Honours. These include the Danish Volvo 70 Trifork, which actually took the lead at one point during the first night.
In the battle for the Overall win on corrected time, the tactically challenging conditions on the first night have been used well by several smaller yachts including a number of the Maltese competitors. Artie, XP-ACT and Unica are all well-placed in the standings as the race approaches the 24 hour mark.
Phaedo3 has led from the start but fellow MOD70 Maserati has kept within striking distance. The two trimarans reached Capo Passero, approximately 50 miles from the start, in less than three hours. After a tricky approach to Mount Etna, the two flying machines then passed through the Strait of Messina, a further 100 miles on, just before midnight. The two had passed Stromboli before dawn, with Phaedo3 taking a more northerly track in search for better breeze. At 1000 CET, Phaedo3 was just 368 miles from the finish. Maserati was 26 miles behind; Giovanni Soldini’s Italian team is holding position further offshore as the pair head towards the north western corner of Sicily. Thierry Bouchard’s smaller Multi50 Ciela Village lies between Messina and Stromboli.
George David's Juan K designed Rambler 88 made a good start to the 2016 Rolex Middle Sea Race, opening up a significant gap on the IRC fleet during the early stages of the race. By Capo Passero, Rambler was seven miles ahead of its nearest rival, Danish Volvo 70 Trifork helmed by Bouwe Bekking.
At this point, Rambler 88 was the provisional overall leader under IRC, but as the night drew on and the leaders approached the wind shadow of Mount Etna everything changed. Trifork briefly captured the lead on the water as light winds set a complex puzzle for the tacticians and navigators.
Rambler fought back and led through the Strait, and holds a slight advantage on the water as the leading group approaches Stromboli. The Maxi is being chased by a pack of smaller boats which are threatening her grip on the Line Honours prize. This group includes the Volvo 70 Trifork, Marton Jozsa's Hungarian RP60 Wild Joe and Maximilian Klink's Swiss Botin 65 Caro and, audaciously, Vincenzo Onorato’s Italian Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino. Equally impressive is the performance of pocket rocket, Quentin Stewart’s Infiniti 46R, Maverick.
By 1000 CET, 18 monohulls had passed through the Strait and the effect of the previous night's light airs were becoming more apparent particular under IRC time correction. There was good news for the home fleet. Lee Satariano's Maltese J/122 Artie looked to be leading overall at this point, followed by Timmy Camilleri & Josef Schultheis' Xp-44 XP-ACT. Eric de Turckheim's French A13 Teasing Machine with Laurent Pages on board held third.
Jamie Sammut, skipper of the Maltese Solaris 42 Unica, contacted the Rolex Middle Sea Race media team this morning to report on the first night. Unica currently leads the IRC Double Handed fleet. “It was slow going last night for about three hours when we were barely moving.” commented Sammut. “We went too far offshore, which was a mistake but we didn't worry too much as we were covering the competition who did the same. At 3 a.m. we had the big Code Zero up and 17 knots of wind came from nowhere. It was a real battle to get the big sail down with just the two of us. To be leading the Double Handed Class is a great boost but there is a long way to go yet.”
Mikhail Beloborodov' Dufour 45 DU4 has retired from the race. The crew have sailed the boat back to Malta without outside assistance and all of the crew are safe and well.
For more information including blogs from competitors, fleet tracking, pictures and videos please visit - www.rolexmiddlesearace.com
(Race report: RMYC Press Office)