Rolex Middle Sea Race to celebrate 50th anniversaryMalta, 2 May 2018
The 39th Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on October 20 in Malta. Celebrating this year the 50th anniversary of the founding of this offshore race, the Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC) is proud to announce that some 30 yachts from 14 countries have already entered the race. The record fleet stands at 122, set in 2014, and the RMYC has ambitions to topple this number.
The first race in 1968 saw a fleet of just 8 boats on the start line. Both the race and the organizing yacht club have changed a lot since then. “This is an important year for the Rolex Middle Sea Race and the Royal Malta Yacht Club”, says Commodore Godwin Zammit. “Both club and race have grown enormously in stature since 1968. We are now regularly attracting over 100 boats from all corners of the world. Our proven ability to host a globally representative fleet demonstrates the strength of the RMYC, the extraordinary challenge of the racecourse and the attraction of offshore racing in general.”
Wishing to celebrate the special birthday, the RMYC is planning a number of efforts aimed at showcasing the rich history of the race, including the boats and people that sailed them, and the charm of the event’s island home. Malta. “We aim to mark the occasion in an indelible fashion,” advises RMSR Organizing Committee member, Georges Bonello DuPuis. “Our first success has been to secure the attendance of Josian, the Swan 36 that won the first race skippered by our club president, John Ripard. Josian’s current Italian owner, Eugenio Alphandery, was enthusiastic to return her to the scene of her most famous victory.” Reuniting former owner Ripard and Josian on Marsamxett Harbour will surely be an emotional highlight of the event.
Coincidentally, Valletta is European Capital of Culture in 2018 and the Rolex Middle Sea Race will feature strongly in the calendar of events supporting this initiative. The Valletta 2018 mission nicely reflects an essential spirit of the race: “When you live on an island, the horizon always holds the promise of new and exciting connections to be made, while the shore draws you back home to a wealth of detail that’s just waiting to be explored.” A key feature of the Rolex Middle Sea Race has been its ability to capture the imagination and to draw crews back time and again to participate. Each race is different, each participation adds to the experience. George David, who has taken Line Honours five times and hold the current course record, is forthright in his appreciation. Shortly, after crossing the finish line in 2017 he remarked: “This is the best racecourse in the world. It’s already on our calendar for 2018.”
As usual, the RMYC is looking forward to welcoming the perennial mix of professional and Corinthian crews, those making a welcome return as well as those on their first appearance. Currently, the most spectacular entrant is Nikata, the JVNB 115, which at 35-metres will be the biggest boat ever to start the race. Josian and Swedish entrant, the J/111 Blur, at a mere 11-metres provide a striking contrast. Other entries of note include the German Maxi72 Momo and the double-hander, Mandalay, which boasts Austrian two-time Olympian and former Volvo Ocean Race skipper Andreas Hanakamp as one half of its two-man crew.
More details on the events and activities surrounding the race will be released over the coming months.
For those interested in taking part, the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2018 Notice of Race is available on the event' website: www.rolexmiddlesearace.com
Notes to Editors
The Rolex Middle Sea Race was conceived as the result of sporting rivalry between great friends, Paul and John Ripard and an Englishman residing in Malta called Jimmy White, all members of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. In the early sixties, Paul and Jimmy, together with a mutual friend, Alan Green (later to become the Race Director of the Royal Ocean Racing Club), set out to map a course designed to offer an exciting race in different conditions to those prevailing in Maltese coastal waters. They also decided the course would be slightly longer than the RORC's longest race, the Rolex Fastnet. The resulting course is the same as used today, although sailed in the reverse direction.
The Rolex Middle Sea Race course record has been broken on five occasions since the inaugural edition in 1968. The current record of 47 hours 55 minutes was established in 2007 by George David and his, then, 90-foot Rambler.
About the Royal Malta Yacht Club: Founded in 1835, it is the only yacht club in Malta and instigated the formation of the Malta Sailing Federation. The RMYC 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 the club facilities include a lounge bar, 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 run by a committee elected by the full members of the club. Members vary in age and profession, sharing a common passion for yachting and the social life generated around the club.
(Press Offcier: Maria Vella Galea)
Royal Malta Yacht Club