Snakes and Ladders around Malta in the International Yacht Paint Race.

Snakes and Ladders around Malta in the International Yacht Paint Race.

Gordon Craig and Paul Scicluna on board "Harry" claim honours.

If ever a race was to be given the title, "a classic", then the International Yacht Paint Double Handed Round Malta Race will definitely be one of them.

Firstly, even before the race ever started, the RMYC managed to attract a record number of entries. This augured well, both for the club and most of all, for the sponsor for this year's event, International Yacht Paint.

The wind forecast predicted a 15 knot breeze from the East, however, if the wind strength at the start was anything to go by, then all competitors knew that this was going to be a much longer day than they all expected. Unfortunately, some boats retired when still in the waters in Marsamxett Harbour and some just along the Grand Harbour breakwater.

The first turning mark was the Munxar Cardinal Buoy. Strait Dealer, followed by Elusive, Artie, Primadonna and Maltese Falcon all turned close to each other. The big surprise to all was "Blue Fin", a Bavaria 36. The Gatt Floridia brother worked a perfect tandem on board their cruising boat where they managed to keep up with the much faster racing boats at this point in time.

The second bunch of boats all shot down the coast with a fresh building breeze running their colourful spinnakers. At this stage, Harry was already in a perfect position as he was ahead of the higher rated boats in the fleet.

Strait Dealer flew down the South Coast and headed towards the Island of Fifla and was no longer visible. Another breeze came through and with it, the rest of the fleet. From then on, it was a game of trying to keep the boat in the breeze, not to over run it and keeping a watchful eye on the competition.

The lead changed continuously with every gust of wind until the fleet passed Mtahleb where they found a steady offshore breeze where the boats headed towards Cirkewwa.

Once through the South Comino Channel, the boats had a battle royale towards the finish line at the RMYC. Falcon and Elusive match raced the whole coast line whilst Strait Dealer was all alone at the head of the fleet. However, the "Dealer" lead was not large enough and their final corrected time unfortunately placed them at the bottom of the fleet.

Pierre Pisani finished second in class and second overall on board "Myona 3" followed by James Grech on board "Maarial", with a third in class and third overall.  In fact, the top 5 overall positions were taken over by the lower rated boats this time around.  Elusive, who finished first in class followed by Maltese Falcon and Artie, finished sixth overall after the lower rated yachts. In the new cruiser class, "Fekruna" finished first, followed by "For Pete's sake".

The tacking duel between ten remaining boats continued until the finish line in Marsamxett harbour. However, it was Harry who claimed the best corrected time overall in this years Double Handed Round Malta Race.

The Prize Giving ceremony will be held on Thursday, at the RMYC at 8pm.


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