Following a uniquely beautiful andchallenging course, the Rolex Middle Sea Race is mentioned in the same breathas the top Rolex Fastnet, The Rolex Sydney – Hobart and Newport-Bermuda. It typically attracts a varied fleet of boats and many distinguishedsailors many of whom keep returning. It remains on the bucket list of many asailor.
As the start of the 37th editionof the Rolex Middle Sea Race approaches, the fleet that is building up for thisannual challenge is looking as impressive as ever. The usual mix of productionboats optimised for the race by their Corinthian crews are set to sailalongside top racing boats manned by professionals. Following a global rise ininterest, the presence of high performance multihulls is growing too.
Twenty five countries will berepresented at the start line on Saturday 22nd October, withneighbouring Italy, as in past years having the greatest presence. Stronggrowth has been registered by Russia, whilst third placed United Kingdom hasseen a slight increase from the previous year. The Rolex Middle Sea Racewill be welcoming back Denmark and Ukraine who have not made an appearance inthe last five years whilst Sweden will be returning after an absence of two years. With boats from faraway countries like Australia and the United States alsopresent the fleet has become truly global…
Looking through the crew list one cansee a number of well-known sailors with an impressive CV to their names includingAdrian Stead, Vincenzo Onorato, Flavio Favini, Branko Brcin, Ian Moore, GiovanniSoldini, Pierre Casiraghi and Mikey Muller. RORC Racing Manager NickElliot will be taking part in his first big offshore race on Gemervescence andold faithful Beppe Bisotto is back with Atame for the 11th consecutiveyear. Local sailors Timmy Camilleri, Aaron, Christoph and Maya Podesta, LeeSatariano and Christian and Sebastian Ripard will be at the start too whileRMYC Committee Member Jamie Sammut will be taking part this time in thedemanding double handed class.
Among top monohulls George David’sRambler 88 will be back after having won monohull line honours in 2015. Thecurrent course record unbeaten since 2007 was set by George David himself witha previous Rambler. Winner of the 2015 Monohull Line Honours, George David willbe returning and prepared to better the course record he still holds.
Also returning are Cippa Lippa andMascalzone Latino, the two Cookson 50 boats who are no strangers to this race,with Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino narrowly missing out to B2 for thecoveted IRC win in 2015. A good challenge is also expected from the two TP52sAudax Energia and Team Van Uden Performance from Spain and the United Kingdom.From the Open 70 class, Green Dragon and Turkish Airlines Racing Team BlackBetty are back have been on the starting line before too. The rest of themonohull fleet includes some competitive boats such as the Xp-44 while thepopular and successful J boats are out in full force out to produce some goodresults. Worthy of mention is Maltese boat Artie, a J122 yacht who brought theRolex Middle Sea Race trophy home in the 2011 and 2014 editions – definitely aforce not to be underestimated
Multihulls have showed a marked increasein popularity. Following substantial development put into producing high levelperformance and increase in speed, this category has become a highlycompetitive one. In 2015 the category included LloydThornburg’s Phaedo 3 which took multihull line honours and Peter Aschenbrenner’sMOD 70 Paradox winning on corrected time. This year the race willwelcome four multihulls. MOD70 trimaran Phaedo 3 sailing under the nowfamiliar colours of lime green and chrome will be making a welcome return tothe course and hoping to retain their 2015 Multihull Line honourstitle. The trimaran Maserati Multi70 will make its first appearancein this race. This Maserati is a cutting-edge, very high performance trimarancapable of making extremely fast speeds and can rise up off the water on herrudders and foils, significantly reducing her wetted surface area to thebenefit of performance. The Maserati Multi70 is skippered by Giovanni Soldiniwho has his sights firmly set on the Rolex Middle Sea Race and RORCTransatlantic Race. Two Multi 50s – Ciela Village andFenetrea Cardinal will be entering the fray for the first time in Malta. Ciela Village’s skipper Thierry Bouchard won the Rolex Middle Sea Race in 2008on Spirit of Ad Hoc a Beneteau 40.7.
Seven boats will be vying for theSwan Mediterranean Challenge Trophy – T’ala, Montrachet and Lunz Am Meer haveall competed in this race various times and will be returning once again. Digital Alpha, skippered by Valentin Zubkov is a Club Swan 42, a fast growingone design racing class.
It goes without saying that each racehas some trivia worth sharing.
In the 2014 Rolex Middle Sea RaceTeasing Machine lost her mast. Fast forward one year, Teasing Machine wontheir IRC Class at the Rolex Sydney Hobart, nearly winning the prestigious raceoverall. Teasing Machine then competed in the RORC Caribbean 600, winning theirIRC Class followed by another class win and second overall in the Volvo RoundIreland Race. In less than twelve months Teasing Machine has competed in majoroffshore races in Australia-Caribbean-Europe. Teasing Machine returns to theRolex Middle Sea Race in 2016.
More familiar faces from RORC withthe husband and wife team Steven and Jane Anderson will be sailing onGemervescence. The Andersons usually act as scrutineers for RORC races. Whilstnormally they are inspecting boats at major offshore races, this time it istheir turn to be inspected and the Rolex Middle Sea Race will be their first bigrace.