News Will they, won't they. Rolex Middle Sea Race DAY 5 - morning report

Will they, won't they. Rolex Middle Sea Race DAY 5 - morning report

La Valletta (Malta), October 26, 2016

Tension at the 2016 Rolex Middle Sea Race was heightened yesterday as the door opened by Rambler 88’s finish in the early hours was widened further by more arrivals. It was a trickle of finishers rather than a flood, but there was drama all the same, where the battle to secure class wins and post a claim to the overall title raged throughout the day. With the forecast suggesting a period of fading breeze on the course area, the race pendulum was swinging in favour of the bigger, faster yachts. The incentive to keep pushing to the finish was evident.

Despite sailing in the rapidly disappearing wake of Rambler 88 in the second half of the race, the remainder of IRC Class 1 yachts could scent an opportunity for a class win having kept pace with the mighty American maxi at least until Trapani. Trifork were sitting on top of the pile until Marton Jozsa's Hungarian RP60 Wild Joe and Clarke Murphy's Carbon Ocean 82 Aegir crossed the line ten minutes apart in the early afternoon. While Wild Joe would be delighted at their success in beating Aegir, their elation in terms of the class would be short lived. Their hopes for the overall win would be even shorter.

First the smaller Italian Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino crossed the finish line at the mouth of Marsamxett Harbour half an hour later to post an unassailable claim for the IRC 2 class trophy and more importantly a robust statement concerning the overall standings. The arrival of the Swiss Mini Maxi Caro completed the dampening. Outside the time required to beat Mascalzone Latino, Maximilian Klink's Botin 65 had done enough to correct out 4 minutes ahead of Wild Joe.

The arrivals of Green Dragon and Laetitia added to the general atmosphere, but did nothing to alter the standings. Instead all eyes were fixed on the free spirits on-board Quentin Stewart's Infiniti 46 Maverick. Making its debut in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, the smallest boat in IRC Class 1 has turned a few heads with its performance in this its first classic 600 mile offshore.

After enduring a painful final few miles as the wind faded, Maverick crossed the line at sunset to snatch the IRC 1 Class victory by just 19 seconds from Caro. The British yacht currently lies in third overall behind Mascalzone Latino and Cippa Lippa, who had finished a couple of hours later.

As things stand this morning with twelve yachts in the harbour, Vincenzo Onorato's Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino has provisionally won IRC 2 and is the overall leader in the race for the 2016 Rolex Middle Sea Race. Mascalzone Latino's tactician Adrian Stead spoke about the race: "It was a tricky Rolex Middle Sea Race but we’re really pleased with how the team worked on board Mascalzone Latino. We were very focused on keeping the boat fast and 'wriggling' when it got tricky. The guys did a great job of always trying to squeeze as much speed out of the boat, changing sails and going through the gears as the wind changed and shifted.”

The Mascalzone crew is made up of a number of supremely experienced sailors. They will have a good grasp on how secure their lead is, but as true professionals are making no predictions as the race enters it fifth day. “Now we are sitting and watching the screen to see where the small boats are,” remarked Stead. According to the seasoned tactician, their elevated standing is down to a combination of effort and luck: “We were very conscious of building as much of a lead as possible - the team know that you can lose this race by only seconds. We were very lucky to have bigger boats alongside us for the last 400 miles of the race. Wild Joe is 4 metres longer and quick, but trying to keep up with her pushed us hard around the track. Ian Moore made some great calls and kept us honest in our performance and track."

Maverick, owned by Quentin Stewart and skippered by Oliver Cotterell, is a recent launch and sports an innovative design which include DSS foils. Akin to short airplane wings, the foils protrude horizontally from the side of the hull to produce both righting moment and lift. Maverick also has a canting keel. The combination of these features enables the boat to sail with a handful of crew and go faster than the wind speed, in certain conditions.

“We are just delighted to win our class, in what is our first long offshore race.” commented Maverick's skipper, Oliver Cotterell. “There have been some successes with yachts using DSS but this is the biggest win so far. I think that after this you will see a lot more boats of this design in the future.” Maverick did not just rely upon technology to propel them to the top of their class, as Cotterell explained: “We are a young team with a revolutionary boat but having Stu Bannatyne on board has been a revelation. Stu has so much experience and he has really added to our performance.” Bannatyne is three-time winner of the Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race.

At 10:00 CET on day five of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, 11 yachts have officially retired. 47 yachts have rounded Lampedusa and competition with the race as a whole and the individual classes continues. In IRC 3, at Lampedusa, Zenhea Takeska, skippered by Aldo Quadarella, was leading about 40 minutes ahead on corrected time from David Collins' T'Ala. In IRC 4 an epic battle has developed between five yachts, three of which are from Malta.
Aaron, Christoph & Maya Podesta's Maltese First 45 Elusive 2 hold a narrow lead over Eric De Turckheim's French A13 Teasing Machine and Astrid de Vin's Dutch Grand Soleil 43 Il Corvo. Two Maltese Xp-44s remain very much in the hunt: Timmy Camilleri & Josef Schultheis' XP-ACT and Sean Borg's Xpresso.

At Lampedusa, Lee Satariano's Maltese J/122 Artie and Noel Racine's JPK 10.10 Foggy Due were leading their respective IRC Classes and have emerged two of the few yachts still racing that could possibly overhaul Mascalzone Latino for the overall win.

For all the latest news, pictures, videos and competitors' blogs please visit the official race website:
(Source: RMYC Press Office)


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

International Maxi Association
Legal Headquarters: c/o BfB Société Fiduciaire Bourquin frères et Béran SA - 26, Rue de la Corraterie - 1204 Genève - Switzerland