The Royal Malta Yacht Club resumed its sailing activities on Saturday 29th May with the 160nm Veuve Clicquot Round Linosa Offshore Race.
Whilst participation numbers were on the low side, one had to consider a number of factors – the four-household limit per boat, the non-stop nature of offshore sailing which is tough particularly in the hours of the night and the lack of races in the past months made it tougher to get people into race mode.
Initially planned to have a start in the majestic Grand Harbour as part of activities surrounding Yachting Malta Race Week, restrictions relating to the pandemic dictated otherwise.
The fleet started the course just outside the entrance of the Grand Harbour, before it headed towards Ghallis Rocks. From then it proceeded to pass through the South Comino Channel before rounding the Island of Linosa to return back via Filfla and finishing in Marsamxett Harbour.
Janissah (Mario Debono) was first on the line on the start, having time the start to near perfection when he chose the starboard end of the line, whilst the others spread out evenly across one-mile-wide starting line.
Despite starting at the back of the fleet Lee Satariano’s Artie III charged to the front leading the fleet with Ton Ton, Otra Vez and Vivace trailing behind.
With wind speeds of approximately 14 knots and a sea swell reaching heights of two metres the fleet had a good downwind run to the Comino Channel.
Artie’s bid to a possible win came to an end in the South Comino channel, when rudder steerage failure gave them no option but to retire to safety.
Commenting after the race Otra Vez skipper Aaron Gatt Floridia, expressed his delight in being able to return to racing, even though with a reduced crew. “This is an interesting race. The two long legs allow you plenty of tactical options. In this race we chose to go South for the first leg while the rest of the fleet went North. Our decision paid off and we arrived at Linosa ahead of the other boats just as the wind transition was starting. This was the most difficult part of the race and it took us five hours to get around the island. When finally at dawn the breeze filled in again we got going right next to Ton Ton and both boats match raced all way home under spinnaker in 13 knots. Perfect conditions. Another wind transition at Munxar gave us an opportunity to close the gap with Ton Ton and we then had a good beat up to the finish” continued Gatt Floridia.
Otra Vez caught up with Ton Ton in the last few miles of the race, close to the southern part of Malta, when wind conditions forced Ton Ton to slow down, giving Otra Vez the opportunity to catch up.
Although Ton Ton claimed Line Honours, it was Otra Vez, who finished a few minutes behind, who won the race on Corrected Time. In doing so, Gatt Floridia’s result established the first IRC Record (on Corrected Time) in a time of 36 hours 39minutes 49 seconds.
The fleet made was made up of Artie III (Lee Satariano), Bait (Paul Debono), Janissah (Mario Debono), Otra Vez (Aaron Gatt Floridia), Ton Ton Laferla Insurance (Jonathan Gambin) and Vivace (Andrew Agius Delicata / Matthew Gabriele).
The Veuve Clicquot Trophy, commissioned by Yachting Malta and Veuve Clicquot, represented in Malta by M. Demajo (Wines and Spirits), was presented to Aaron Gatt Floridia, skipper of Otra Vez in the presence of Yachting Malta Chairman Mr. John Huber, Mr. David Cremona, Commodore Royal Malta Yacht Club, Race Officer Mr. Peter Dimech and Mr. Alfred Braddick, Marketing Manager, M.Demajo (Wines & Spirits) Ltd.
The first edition of the Round Linosa Race was supported by Yachting Malta and sponsored by Veuve Clicquot.