The Royal Malta Yacht Club hosted the Malta Sailing Federation National Sailing Championships in challenging conditions. These conditions have dogged this event since last year, when bad weather on the previously scheduled dates forced the organisers to postpone.
On Saturday, weather conditions for the first day of racing saw them test the Race Committee, which had to contend with a West North Westerly wind, that was gusting up to 34 knots and a sea swell that was well over two metres. These adverse conditions meant that only the ILCA 7 Class, was able to fit two races in the afternoon.
Sunday proved to be slightly better, albeit still tricky, with the days starting off with very low wind conditions and intermittent heavy downpours. Although the rain persisted throughout the day, the sun did make a small appearance from time to time, and as the day progressed, the wind shifted to a steady North Westerly, increasing to around 25 knots. This meant that all Classes managed to fit in the required number of qualifying races.
The Race Management team, led by International Race Officer Ron Barak, designed two courses: one for the Optimist and RS Feva classes and another for the ILCA classes and the SB20 fleet.
Matteo Mamo winning two races and placing second in one saw him secure victory with a four point difference between him and second placed George Villette who garnered two second places and a fourth place. Daniel Mizzi, won the second race, but a sixth place in the final race saw him settle for third place.
Optimist Senior and Cadet
Timmy Vassallo won the class with a two point margin ahead of Jonas Micallef. Vassallo garnered two first places in the second and third race to take the class win. A shaky start for Daniyl Mykhailichenko saw him recoup in the second and third races to gain third place.
Benjamin Vassallo was the outright winner in this class, having given a consistent performance throughout, winning all three races on the day. Second placed Jake Mallia also gave a steady performance with two second places, whilst Domenico Procopio was third to complete the podium.
Matthew Flores won the class after having to contend with a strong Dimitrios Vertsonis, as both were vying to win the class. A penalty gained in the first race proved costly for Vertsonis, as he eventually slipped down to fourth place. One point separated Flores and second placed Kurt Borg, who had won the first race. Lara Merten finished in third place.
This fleet was made up of international sailors currently on a training camp at the Royal Malta Yacht Club. Made up of Olympic Medallists, Olympians and word class sailors, the Class was won by Croatian Filip Jurišic, Bronze Medallist in the ILCA 7 Men’s World Championships last year, who with two wins out of four races was six points ahead of compatriot and Olympic Medallist Tonci Stipanovic. In third place was another Olympic medallist Pavlos Kontides. Both latter sailors are familiar with Maltese waters as they regularly make use of the Yacht Club’s facilities.
RS Feva XL
The double handed fleet saw Luke Ransley and Michael Church lead throughout the day, securing victories in all three races. Following them in second place were Michaela Vertsoni and Nicole Zeiger. The two teams competed in all three races, with third placed Andre Fenech and Nathan Buttigieg Gili only competing in the first two races.
Team Chiara and MSYC boats were crewed with highly experienced offshore sailors, the majority having competed in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, Rolex Fastnet, and Rolex Sydney Hobart Races. Although less experienced and still getting familiar with the SB20, other crews were always close behind, and fast technical racing ensued all the way. Team Chiara, skippered by Steve Carter, Andrea Vella, and Daniel Fenech, emerged winners. Team MYSC, skippered by Greg Mifsud, Emilie Gregory, and Patrice Pace, made their SB20 debut in a respectable second place. Team Careful Now, skippered by Guy Baranyay, Greg Szabo and Florin Chitic finished third.
The National Championships were a key event for local sailors vying to be part of the Maltese contingent in June, during the Games of the Small States of Europe, which will take place in Malta in June; in fact, the top sailors from this event will go on to represent Malta at the GSSE next May.
“The Malta Sailing Federation is pleased that once again the National Championships have brought out the best elements of the Maltese sailor. The improvement in the level of sailing is so evident and bodes well for the GSSE in June. I congratulate the Clubs and their coaches for this concerted effort, and thank you to the Royal Malta Yacht Club for hosting such a great event,” commented Michael Mifsud, President, Malta Sailing Federation.
The Prize Giving ceremony was held at the Yacht Club in the presence of Kunsill Reġjonali Lvant President, Anthony Chircop, and Deputy President and Ta’ Xbiex Mayor Max Zammit. The Kunsill Regjonali Lvant which has been appointed European Region of Sports 2023 supported this event.
“Although the weather provided a challenge to sailors and race management, the Club is very satisfied with the outcome of these Championships. It is always a pleasure for us at the Club to welcome our friends from local and international Clubs” remarked David Cremona, Commodore, Royal Malta Yacht Club. “We would like to thank Kunsill Reġjonali Lvant for sponsoring this event and the Ta’ Xbiex Local Council for supporting us. “It goes without saying that this event would not be possible without the forty or so volunteers who contributed their expertise throughout the event.