Record fleet in prospect
If the 131 yachts currently entered in the 2018 Rolex Middle Sea Race all cross the start line on 20 October, the race will have surpassed its previous record fleet – 122, set in 2014.
What better way to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Mediterranean’s most renowned 600-mile offshore classic, organised by the Royal Malta Yacht Club. The entry list is a cosmopolitan affair with some 32 nations represented. Italy provides the largest contingent with 18 entrants, followed by France (15), United Kingdom (14) and the Russian Federation (14). Entries close on 5 October.
Headline acts include George David’s Rambler, the 27 metre monohull rocket-ship, seeking a record fourth line honours victory in a row. The crew are also hoping for the conditions to propel them round in a time faster than the course record set by one of David’s previous Ramblers back in 2007. And, if the wind gods do conspire in her favour, do not be surprised if the American Maxi achieves a clean sweep of the major trophies. Elsewhere, it will be interesting to see how fast the 35m Nikata, the largest yacht ever to have entered the race, can negotiate the course, particularly the notorious, narrow and complex Strait of Messina. The Maxi 72 Momo, from Germany, two Volvo 70s – Green Dragon from Denmark and Ocean Breeze from Switzerland, the Swan 80 Plis-Play, fresh from victory at the Rolex Swan Cup, and the Swan 78 Haromi will be doing their best to hang onto the coat tails of the expected frontrunners.
The Multihull division is not short of glamour entries either, equally hoping for conditions conducive to posting a quick time. The highlight is the Multihull course record holder, Giovanni Soldini and his foiling 21.2m Multi70, Maserati. Soldini’s record breaking participation was in 2016, when damage en route to the start diminished the trimaran’s potential. Given better luck and similar, positive conditions, the Italian crew will have their eyes on bettering their benchmark time. Maserati will be up against another racing trimaran, the 23.38m Ultim’Emotion and two fast cruising cats – the 25.5m Swiss entry Allegra and the 20m R-Six from Poland.
Past winners of Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy for overall victory under IRC will be represented with the popular Greek winner from 2004, Optimum 3, owned by Nikos Lazos and Pericles Livas, returning. Although not yet on the official entry list, there is news that Igor Rytov and Bogatyr, the 2017 overall victor and first ever winner of a 600 nm offshore classic from the Russian Federation, is planning to take part, albeit this year as a double-handed entry.
Yachts around the 16m mark have proven mightily successful over recent years, with five of the past 10 winners slotting in at this length. 2018 looks to be packed with highly competitive yachts around this size. There are two ClubSwan 50s; highly regarded as inshore speedsters, the design has proved itself capable of heading offshore in the Baltic’s Nord Stream Race over the past two summers. Bronenosec and Stella Maris fly the flag for the class. With an offshore-hardened TP52 winning the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart, it is perhaps little surprise to find plenty of that ilk entered: Anafesto of Poland; Arobas of France; and, Freccia Rossa from Russia, winner of the Rolex Giraglia in 2017. Cookson 50s have shown their prowess, with Mascalzone Latino winning the race in 2017. Endless Game from Italy and Riff Raff from Australia will be out to prove that was no fluke. And, Erik de Turkheim’s powerful Teasing Machine from France, winner of the 2017 RORC Transatlantic Race, has entered once again.
The Maltese fleet with seven entries will be looking to repeat the past glories of their countrymen in this anniversary year. Boats from the island state have won the race on seven occasions over the 38 editions of the race. The last time was in 2014, when Lee Satariano’s Artie repeated her success of 2011. The local heroes include some well-known boat names: Comanche Raider III, Elusive 2 – sailed by the children of Arthur Podesta, who is remembered for competing in every race until his untimely passing in 2015, Maltese Falcon, Otra Vez, Ton Ton Malta Charters, Unica and Xpresso. Irrespective of whether these crews are in contention for the overall win, expect a battle royal to determine home bragging rights.
The Royal Malta Yacht Club is proud to have the partnership of Title Sponsor, Rolex (since 2002), and the support of the Malta Tourism Authority and the Ministry for Tourism and in collaboration with Transport Malta.
Entries close officially on 5 October, although late entries may be accepted up until 12 October at the discretion of the Organising Authority.
Monohull Course Record: 47 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds – Rambler (USA) in 2007
Multihull Course Record: 49 hours, 25 minutes, 01 seconds – Maserati (ITA) in 2016
The Rolex Middle Sea Race starts on Saturday, 20th October 2018 and the final Prize Giving ceremony will be held on Saturday, 27th October 2018.
The official race hashtags are #rolexmiddlesearace #rmsr2018
Valletta is European Capital of Culture in 2018 and the Rolex Middle Sea Race will feature strongly in the calendar of events supporting this initiative. For more details on Valletta2018, please visit https://valletta2018.org
About the Race: The Rolex Middle Sea Race was established as the result of sporting rivalry between great friends, Jimmy White and Alan Green, two Englishmen residing in Malta, together with Paul and John Ripard, two Maltese members of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. Jimmy, Alan (later to become the Race Director of the Royal Ocean Racing Club), Paul and John would eventually map a course designed to offer an exciting race in different conditions to those prevailing in the immediate Maltese coastal waters. The course, essentially a clockwise circumnavigation of Sicily starting and finishing in Malta, would be slightly longer than the RORC’s longest race, the Rolex Fastnet. The resulting course is the same as used today, although sailed in the reverse direction.
The Rolex Middle Sea Race course record has been broken on five occasions since the inaugural edition in 1968.
Tuesday, 16 October Media Briefing (RMYC)
Wednesday, 17 October Coastal Race
RMYC Reception & Coastal Race Prize giving (President’s Palace – Verdala)
Thursday,18 October Crew Party (Manoel Island)
Friday, 19 October RORC lunch (RMYC)
Skippers’ Briefing (Excelsior Hotel) Skippers’ Reception
Saturday, 20 October Start (Grand Harbour, Valletta)
RMYC Hospitality (Lower Barrakka Gardens)
Saturday, 27 October Prize Giving (Mediterranean Conference Centre)
About the Royal Malta Yacht Club: Founded in 1835, it is the only yacht club in Malta and instigated the formation of the Malta Sailing Federation. The RMYC has a deep commitment to yachting and organises a full programme of racing and social activities throughout the year. Located right on the water in Ta’ Xbiex the club facilities include a lounge bar, dining area with outdoor terraces, roof top terrace, conference rooms, a fitness room with changing rooms, waterfront facilities for small boats and a seasonal marina for larger boats. The club is run by a committee elected by the full members of the club. Members vary in age and profession, sharing a common passion for yachting and the social life generated around the club.