Elusive 2, skippered by Aaron and Christoph Podesta were the outright winners of the Zhik Double Handed Figure of 8 race which was hosted recently by the Royal Malta Yacht Club.
Although the beginning of the race from Marsamxett Harbour saw light conditions, the day’s forecast hinted at a challenging 20-knot wind speed, setting the stage for a demanding double-handed racing experience. As the day unfolded, conditions escalated, with crews encountering winds reaching 27 knots as they approached the western coast.
While the fleet initially left the harbor in close proximity, the dynamics shifted beyond Tigne Point, when Elusive 2 seized the lead and established a substantial gap from the rest, looking at a sure win from earlier on in the race. The gap was maintained throughout, resulting in the Podesta brothers lifting the Zhik Double Handed Figure of 8 Trophy and winning IRC Class 1. In second place was Jubatus, skippered by Sean Borg and Andrea Azzopardi.
“As always, the race lives up to its expectations. With a forecast of 20 knots, we knew it would be a tough one. Elusive 2 isn’t really set up for short handed racing, so in a breeze she can be a handful. We opted to keep a cautious sail plan in order to minimize mistakes. We had to keep reminding ourselves that it’s just two of us on board and plan the manoeuvres accordingly” explained Aaron Podesta. “It’s the long term plan that is important, even if it means that there may be short term losses. This race is a long sprint, we tried to conserve energy for the tough downwind legs which are very challenging when flying the kite. Conditions were not the easiest, but still manageable, which brought about a thoroughly enjoyable race. Thank you to RMYC and all involved!”
Tougher conditions were met by the fleet as they neared Comino, the wind strengthened, reaching 25 knots at Mellieha and remaining consistent. Added challenges faced the fleet closer to Comino, as waves from the west kept hitting them, particularly near Gozo’s cliff causing a rebound effect. Wind intensified as the fleet started to approach the harbour, with some crews experiencing winds of 27 knots – “ Encountering varying wind angles, the wind intensified to 27 knots as we approached the harbour towards the end of the race, in which we were engaged in an exciting battle with Calypso.” remarked Vivace’s Andrew Agius Delicata.
Representing sponsor RLR Yachting, the J99 Calypso, skippered by Sebastian Ripard and Fabio Galea was vying for a good result, as were Vivace duo Andrew Agius Delicata and Matthew Gabriele. “ Throughout the 10-hour race, conditions remained constant, though our energy depleted by the end. Calypso pursued closely, eventually beating us by a mere 17-second margin on the last leg” commented Agius Delicata. Calypso went on to win IRC Class 2 ahead of Vivace and third place Juniper, skippered by Brian Flahive and Tom Sammut Alessi.
As double handed racing is experiencing a surge in interest, the race saw the first ever participation by Dimm, a cruising class boat skippered by Kevin Pisani Zammit and Andrew Calleja. Despite having damaged their headsail earlier on in the race, rather than giving up the duo, determined to finish their first double handed race, continued racing. “This was our first long distance double handed race, it was an unforgettable experience, both challenging and exciting at every moment. Respect to all participants willing to take on such a challenge” remarked a tired yet satisfied Kevin Pisani Zammit, shortly after crossing the finish line.
A Prize Giving evening, hosted by RLR Yachting as agents of Zhik, was held at the Royal Malta Yacht Club, in the presence of the Race Committee, RMYC Committee and crews. RLR Yachting representative Thomas Ripard gave prizes to the competitors. Club Commodore David Cremona and Rear Commodore (Sailing) Adrian Gauci Borda expressed their gratitude towards RLR Yachting, who have been long term supporters of the Club. They also thanked the Race Committee, composed of Martin Azzopardi and Michelle Caruana.
Zhik Double Handed Figure of 8 Results
Zhik Double Handed Figure of 8 Trophy
Elusive 2 (Aaron & Christoph Podesta)
IRC Class 1
1st – Elusive 2 (Aaron & Christoph Podesta)
2nd – Jubatus (Sean Borg / Andrea Azzopardi)
IRC Class 2
1st – Calypso (Seb Ripard / Fabio Galea)
2nd – Vivace (Andrew Agius Delicata / Matthew Gabriele)
3rd – Juniper (Brian Flahive / Tom Sammut Alessi)