23 October 1000 CEST DAY 5 AM Report
Black Pearl hold the advantage Some 13 teams have completed the 40th edition Rolex Middle Sea Race. Of the 113 starters, eight yachts have officially retired leaving a further 92 yachts still racing.
At just before 08:30 CEST this morning Stefan Jentzsch’s Carkeek 47, Black Pearl (GER), crossed the finish line and went into the provisional overall lead of the 2019 Rolex Middle Sea Race slicing three hours off Rambler’s corrected time under IRC.
Shortly after stepping ashore, Jentzsch had this to say: “We had a good start. We expected less wind on the Sicilian coast so went all the way to the East. That turned out to be a bit of a mistake and we found ourselves trailing a lot of the boats we were competing with. Around Stromboli we got some of it back. And then it was just hard, very hard.”
“It was mentally hard from Stromboli to Favignana,” continued Jentzsch. “Then it became physically hard. The waves were very short. It was relentless upwind, smashing into them. Having lost the rig last year, we were a little bit tense. We didn’t get out of our foul weather gear for 24 hours, didn’t cook a proper meal. We survived on chocolate bars and cold coffee!”
Like the crew of Rambler before them, all the crew of Black Pearl can do now is sit and wait. There are numerous boats still racing with a chance of overhauling their time. The wind on the second half of the course is forecast to remain fresh for at least the next 24 hours, so providing plenty of driving force. The ride will stay uncomfortable, though, as the south-easterly builds the already steep wave pattern.
Around 20 yachts are expected to finish the race today, with several challenging for class honours and the possibility of the overall podium. Renzo Grottesi’s ClubSwan 42 BeWild is having a phenomenal race and continues to pose a real threat. BeWild is 40 or so miles from Malta and expected in before sunset. Other yachts vying for class podium places and which should complete the course today, include Gabriele Bruni’s ICE52 PrimaVista-Lauria (ITA), and Frederic Puzin’s Mylius 15 Corum – Daguet2 (FRA).
The first Maltese boat home is always a joyous occasion at the Royal Malta Yacht Club. Lee Satariano’s HH42 Artie is around 38 miles away, so should grasp that honour. Some 40 miles further back is the Podesta family’s First 45 Elusive 2, with two more Maltese yachts behind her: Richard Schultheis & Timmy Camilleri’s Xp-act and Sean Borg’s Xpresso, both Xp-44s.
Meanwhile, back up the course, around one third of the fleet has yet to pass Favignana. Having endured another tough night negotiating the light and fickle winds prevalent north of Sicily, these tiring crews still face the draining test posed by the two main open water legs of the race. As everyone in yacht racing well knows, ‘to finish first, first you have to finish’. No one on the course will be taking anything for granted as they push on.