The Rolex Middle Sea Race starts this Saturday, 19 October. In the meantime, the traditional warm up race, the Rolex Middle Sea Coastal Race, was held on Wednesday 16 October. 35 Yachts took part, divided into six IRC Classes. The Royal Malta Yacht Club Principal Race Officer, Peter Dimech, set a course of approximately 30 nautical miles from Marsamxett Harbour, around the Valletta Harbour Fairway Buoy, north west up to the island of Comino and the same course back to the finish, in sight of the yacht club.
The overall winner of the Rolex Middle Sea Coastal Race was the ICE52 PrimaVista-Lauria (IRC 3, ITA) skippered by Gabriele Bruni. Second was the First 45 Elusive 2 (IRC 4, MLT) co-skippered by Christoph & Aaron Podesta. Third overall was the Pronavia 38 Seawolf (IRC 6, GBR), skippered by David Latham. The Davidson 69 Pendragon (HUN) skippered by Zsolt Kiraly was the winner in IRC 1. Peter Gustafsson’s J/111 Blur (SWE) was the winner of IRC 5. TP52 Anafesto skippered by Spain’s Ricardo Terrades was the winner of IRC 2.
“We got a bit lucky to be honest,” smiled Stefano Pelizza, navigator for PrimaVista-Lauria. “Whilst most of the fleet went inshore after the start we went offshore and got a really good 45-degree wind shift, lifting us to Comino. After that it was a VMG reach back to Marsamxett Harbour.” Looking ahead to the main event, Pelizza was candid about their prospects: “We are only really just getting used to the boat. She is very much a cruising boat with a full interior. For the Rolex Middle Sea Race, the weather scenario is looking like a light start with some heavier upwind conditions towards the end. First of all, we will try to finish the race, after that we hope we do well in our class and overall.”
“We are very happy with the result and the performance of the crew and the boat,” commented Maya Podesta, navigator of Elusive 2. “It was a bit of an effort to make the prize giving, but we are very glad we did. The Verdala Palace is one of Malta’s most beautiful locations, which made the presentation very special.” Elusive 2 has long been a strong performer in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, and Podesta continued: “The boat had a new rig fitted before last year’s race, and now we have had over a year to get the best out of the improvement. Looking at the weather, we are happy to see upwind conditions towards the end of the race, because it suits the potential of Elusive.”
“The Coastal Race is always a good shakedown,” commented Seawolf’s David Latham who will be taking part in his 12th consecutive Rolex Middle Sea Race with Seawolf, which is based in Gibraltar. “The breeze built to over 15 knots for much of the race, which is ideal for Seawolf. We have a multinational crew from Spain, Mauritius, UK, and the Netherlands. One of the top tips for the race, especially for first timers is that when it goes light, don’t switch off because if you slow down the boat will. When the breeze is up the adrenalin is pumping so it is easier to keep active, it is more difficult to stay awake when the wind is light.”
The Rolex Middle Sea Race Owner’s Reception & Coastal Race Prize Giving was held at the Verdala Palace and was co-hosted by Yachting Malta Ltd. Present for the Prize Giving Ceremony was Hon. Dr. Konrad Mizzi, Minister for Tourism. Dating back to 1581, the Renaissance palace was designed by Girolamo Cassar and is the official summer residence of the President of Malta.