This morning brought home another four yachts bringing the total finishers in the 2009 Rolex Middle Sea Race to fourteen. Whilst all finishers are celebrated and feted as they cross the Royal Malta Yacht Club line deep in Marsamxett Harbour, the greatest cheer this morning was reserved for Strait Dealer, the first Maltese boat home. Strait Dealer has been a stalwart of the race since 2001 when, in the different hands, she won the race. Since 2002, she has been under the ownership of Maltese resident David Franks. This year Strait Dealer was skippered by local hero David Anastasi and as usual crewed mainly by sailors from the island state.

Franks was delighted to be home and to secure the prize of first Maltese boat home on the water, despite enduring some difficult times, "I enjoyed the race very much, and we had a good crew. There were some very tough points, but we didn't break too many things and we didn't lose too many things. We got tangled up in a lobster pot and went through an ice storm. I've never had such a cold Rolex Middle Sea Race and this is my seventh."

"This is a most fantastic race. It is so well organised, it's so exciting, so many great boats come along, it's very competitive and there's a good social programme before and after," continued Franks, who indicated this may be his last race since he is moving back to the UK after twelve very enjoyable years on Malta. "The crew held up very well, David Anastasi had a lot on and did very, very well. Strait Dealer is a very wet boat, but everyone just got on with it."

Skipper, David Anastasi was pleased too, but admitted that their hope had been to win first Maltese boat on handicap. Strait Dealer does better downwind than upwind and with more of her race being into wind, she will be hard pressed to secure that prize. "We had a really good race up to Messina in conditions that the boat loved. From then on the wind was on the nose, which is very hard for us. Everything went well, the crew worked well together including the younger ones such as Sean Borg, Darren Cauchi and Alan Tabone." Anastasi admitted that the biggest problem had been eating, even freezer-dried food that needs just boiled water adding to it, "the conditions were so bad, and it was practically impossible to cook since there was just too much going on below."

The most experienced member of the crew was Nigel King, who counts a Volvo Ocean Race in his résumé. He was quite candid about the difficulty of this year's race, "it was probably the toughest race I've ever done. Quite a lot of storms came through, with squally showers. The guys had to work really hard to keep the boat moving. The most difficult bit was once we got round Stromboli. It was windy and rough to there; the sea state was pretty bad. Then there were lots of squalls and showers and storms coming through. Lots of sail changes and fighting the occasional fire when they came a bit quicker that you expected them. It was very hard at night because there was complete loss of visibility and it was much harder seeing the wind that's coming. You've got to be a bit more pre-emptive in getting things done. The Mediterranean's famous for days like that though."

The other finishers this morning were Tonnerre de Breskens III (NED), Fever (GBR), Nix (NED), Shambala (ITA) and Big One (CRO).

A more detailed report will be issued later today

For more information about the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2009 including the entry list, position reports and results please visit http://www.rolexmiddlesearace.com/

To receive daily reports and to download high-resolution images, copyright free for editorial purposes, register online at http://www.regattanews.com/

For information about the Organisers, contact:

Royal Malta Yacht Club

T. +356 2133 3109
F. +356 2133 1131
E. info@rmyc.org
W. http://www.rolexmiddlesearace.com/

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