Behind the Scenes: Jonathan Gambin, has been a regular competitor in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, garnering several accolades in the process.
How did you first become interested in participating in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, and what keeps bringing you back to this event?
I remember seeing boats finishing the race while I was working at a Sliema restaurant which was located along the coast and telling myself that one day, I will do that. Now it’s an annual event for me. This event is magnetic.
Can you describe the evolution of your experience in the race from your first time competing to your most recent entry?
From day one I decided that I would try and only race with this boat, a Dufour 44P that I modified over the years, the work never stops but the result is satisfactory.
How has the competition and the event itself changed over the years, in your perspective?
There are more participants which is a good sign, the competing boats were always competitive in the past, but now we need to compete with newer, more modern designs which is a challenge.
What challenges have you encountered in the various editions of the race, and how have you adapted your approach to overcome them?
There have been several challenges – bad weather, damage to the boat, not being well prepared; all have caused some upsets throughout the many years of the competition.
Are there any specific race years or moments that stand out as particularly memorable or significant in your career?
My first one by far of 2008, which I did, having started sailing only a year before. We went with a fully loaded boat, pots, pans, alcohol, food which had to be cooked, etc (today’s Commodore David Cremona was with me, he can tell you) Stormy, flat calm, I just couldn’t believe it. Finishing in 11th place Overall was a big surprise!
The Rolex Middle Sea Race covers a diverse and challenging course. How do you prepare for the unique conditions and navigation challenges it presents?
Like most other racers we have the necessary instruments and now, the experience to navigate the course, however unforeseen situations may take you by surprise. You can never be prepared enough.
How do you choose your crew for each race? Will it be more or less the same crew as previous years?
This year we have a new crew of young enthusiastic sailors, only four, (including myself) of the original crew remain.
How do you manage the mental and physical demands of competing in a multi-day offshore race multiple times?
I suppose how all the other racers and skippers do it, trying to keep as relaxed as possible and keeping a balance between not getting too afraid or excited if things don’t go according to plan or wrong.
Are there any particular traditions or rituals that you and your team follow before or after the race that have become important to you?
This year, a day before the race, we will probably gather for a nice meal with our kind sponsors Laferla Insurance, without whom our campaign would not be possible.
How do you balance the thrill of competition with the camaraderie and sportsmanship that are often associated with offshore racing?
It’s not really an issue. It is important to be an aggressive competitor but just as important to not to be a sore loser if you don’t get the result, you would have targeted to achieve or your competitor does better than you.
Looking ahead, do you have any specific goals or aspirations related to your 2023 participation in the Rolex Middle Sea Race?
Like always we will do our very utmost to produce the best possible result.