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Thread: Malta Eases The Rolex Middle Sea Racers Into A Mellow Initial Stage

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    Malta Eases The Rolex Middle Sea Racers Into A Mellow Initial Stage




    October 19, 2019
    2019 | 40th Race Underway
    The 2019 Rolex Middle Sea Race, the 40th edition of the 606nm classic offshore, set off from Grand Harbour today. A fleet of 113 yachts, separated into seven starts, were wafted on their way by a very gentle northerly breeze that sent cat’s paws across the harbour, and left plenty of traps for the unsuspecting. No matter, for the competitors – both professional and Corinthian – the start is just the beginning of a challenge that is not meant to be easy.


    TRACKER

    By 17:00 CEST, the fleet was making slow progress en route towards Capo Passero and the southernmost point of Sicily. On the water, Italian trimaran, Ad Maiora has a slim lead over the leading monohull, Rambler (USA), with the 34-foot catamaran Blackwater (AUS) just behind. Yachts are hugging the rhumb-line and the wind is a light southwesterly of around 8 knots.

    Grand Harbour, Valletta, is a majestic environment on any day. For the start of an offshore race it is exceptional. Overlooked by the fortified city of Valletta, to the west, and The Three Cities, to the east, with a narrow exit through the breakwaters, it is a rare sight filled with yachts. Thousands of well-wishers gathered on the shoreline and on the water add to the festive air.











    With very little wind to speak of at 11:00 CEST, when the first warning signal was fired by the cannons of the Saluting Battery, there was some concern that the multihulls would struggle to get away, when their class gun was due 10 minutes later. As it was, the best starts were achieved by the four-man crew of the tiny Blackwater, skippered by Christiaan Durrant, and the more luxuriously appointed Apollo (GBR), skippered by Nigel Passmore. Bruno Cardile and the ORMA 60, Ad Maiora, took their time to wind up and cross the line. Once in motion, they quickly overhauled the two early leaders and were first out of the harbour, followed by Blackwater. Meanwhile, the Outremer 55, Asia (ITA), was having a nightmare, struggling to get across the line and taking some 40 minutes to reach the breakwater. Given the slow progress, Peter Dimech and the Royal Malta Yacht Club Race Committee wisely delayed the next start.

    Class 6, the biggest in the fleet with 27 boats, eventually set off 20 minutes later than scheduled. Comprising some of the smallest boats, and including a number of double-handers, it was congested and close fought. Exiting the harbour first has little impact on the overall race result, but it is a big fillip for the crew that achieves the feat. The Sun Fast 3600 Bellino (GBR) absolutely nailed the start and the crew kept their wits to win this first battle. Behind, Timofey Zhbankov’s JPK 10.80 Rossko (RUS), winners of IRC 6 in 2018, JYS Jan (MLT), the all-female-crewed J/109 skippered by Gabriella Mifsud with Clipper Race star Nikki Henderson, and Gerard Ludovic’s JPK 10.80 Solenn (FRA), second in IRC 6 last year, were line abreast having worked their way clear of the pack.

    There were 21 yachts on the line in Class 5. Given this group contained the 2018 Rolex Middle Sea Race winner, Géry Trentesaux’s JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommandé (FRA) and the JPK 11.80 Sunrise (GBR) with John Jr and Tom Ripard in the crew, it was a surprise to see Andrey Arbuzov’s Beneteau 44.7 Courrier de Coeur (RUS) making the running with the J/111 Blur (SWE) and the Comet 41S O’Guerriero (ITA) in hot pursuit. Despite the wind resisting the temptation to fill in, there was enough to keep the boats moving if their crews kept a close eye on the puffs.












    The Podesta family’s First 45 Elusive 2 (MLT) made a strong start in middle of the 24 boat Class 4, but was quickly overhauled by Philippe Frantz’s NM43 Albator (FRA), and Laurentiu Gaitan’s X-Treme 37 Africana (ROU). BeWild (ITA), the ClubSwan 42 also made the best of the shimmering breeze and was among the front-runners. The Timmy Camilleri/Richard Schultheis co-skippered Xp44 Xp-act (MLT) seemed to make hard work of the start and were trailing their sister ship Xtra Staerk (FIN) for much of the harbour beat. The combination of Camilleri’s experience and the 14-year-old Schultheis’ skill, was enough to get them out of the harbour eventually just behind BeWild and ahead of their direct competitors.

    Prima Vista-Lauria (ITA), winner of the 2019 Rolex Middle Sea Coastal Race, continued to perform well, with a good start in the 14-boat Class 3. The Marten 49 Ginger (SUI) was close by, while Lee Satariano’s HH42 Artie III (MLT), with Christian Ripard on the helm, lifted off from the Fort St. Angelo (pin end) of the line with Frogfoot (RUS) in close company. Taking a rhumb-line route from the harbour, Frogfoot and Prima Vista-Lauria appeared to have the edge on Artie, which headed in to the Valletta shore much to the delight of the crowds in the Lower Barrakka Gardens, enjoying the hospitality of the Royal Malta Yacht Club’s reception. The two-time winning crew on the Maltese boat will not be too disturbed to have been behind at this point.

    The 10-boat Class 2 featured a number of the big guns. Anxious to get a good start and a clean lane, the TP52 Anafesto (NED) appeared to jump the start early and had to return. This left Gerard Logel’s IRC 52 Arobas² (FRA) free to make good headway towards the harbour entrance. The crew of Stefan Jentzsch’s Carkeek 47 Black Pearl (GER) quietly went about their business, overhauled Arobas²2 and had established clear air between them and a chasing pack comprising Teasing Machine (FRA), Kuka 3 (SUI) and Riff Raff (GBR) on exiting Grand Harbour.

    The final start at 12:30 CEST was reserved for the largest monohulls. The Rogers 82 Aegir (GBR), chartered by American Clarke Murphy with Ian Budgen on tactics and Mike Broughton navigating made a cracking start, and not for the first time at the Rolex Middle Sea Race. The RP60 Wild Joe (HUN), skippered by Marton Josza with ocean race veteran Stu Bannatyne in the crew and the smallest yacht in the group, also made an excellent fist of it, as did the Marten 72 Aragon, crewed by a group of Polish sailors led by Przemek Tarnacki, whose father Bronislaw Tarnacki took part in the very first Whitbread Race in 1973.











    In what looked decidedly like the second row, the light airs were causing some consternation as the larger, ocean racers took their time to get up to speed. It took half the harbour for line honours favourite Rambler to assert her authority and escape the attentions of her smaller rivals. Telefonica Black had the honour of being last boat to leave Grand Harbour.

    17:00 CEST Class Analysis Based on Tracker Positions
    The light air conditions continued after the start with the fleet experiencing about 8 knots of gradient breeze from the southwest. George David's Maxi Rambler is leading the monohull fleet having covered 26 nm. A pack of five boats is four miles astern, Pendragon (HUN), Arobas², Wild Joe, Wizard (USA), and Aragon. In the MOCRA Class, Bruno Cardile's Ad Maiora has the honour of not only leading the multihull fleet, but is also two miles ahead of Rambler. The Dazcat 1495 Apollo looks to be leading the MOCRA Class after time correction.

    The overall winner of the Rolex Middle Sea Race is decided by the best corrected time under the IRC Rating Rule. Renzo Grottesi's BeWild appears to be in pole position, with the ICE52 PrimaVista-Lauria skippered by Pietro D'Ali in second and Philippe Frantz's in third, just ahead of Courrier Recommandé.


    IRC 1
    Aragon leads Wild Joe with Fabio Cannavale's Baltic 78 Lupa of the Sea (ITA) in third.

    IRC 2
    Arobas² leads Black Pearl with Franco Niggeler's Cookson 50 Kuka 3 in third, just ahead of sistership, Brian McMaster's Riff Raff.

    IRC 3
    PrimaVista-Lauria leads from Artie III with Frederic Puzin's Corum – Daguet2 (FRA), with ocean racer Seb Josse aboard, in third.

    IRC 4
    BeWild leads from Albator and Arto Linnervuo's Xp 44 Xtra Staerk (FIN) in third

    IRC 5
    Courrier Recommandé leads Gianrocco Catalano's First 40 Mon Ile (ITA) with Peter Gustafsson's J/111 Blur in third

    IRC 6
    Igor Rytov's JPK 10.80 Bogatyr (RUS) leads from Leonardo Petti's J/109 Chestress (ITA) with JYS Jan in third.

    IRC Double Handed
    Bogatyr leads Marco Paolucci's Comet 45 Libertine (ITA) in second and Rob Craigie's Bellino (GBR) in third.

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    2019 | Rolex Middle Sea Race - Day 3 AM

    21 October 0900 CEST DAY 3 AM Report

    Rambler turns south – snakes and ladders for the fleet north of Sicily

    George David's Rambler (USA) is cutting a lonely figure at the front of the 113-boat fleet. The American Maxi is 75nm ahead, having passed San Vito Lo Capo at dawn on the third day of the Rolex Middle Sea Race. During the night, Rambler managed to keep going, but only just, taking over 13 hours to sail from Stromboli to the promontory on the northwest corner of Sicily. Rambler is expected to speed up as she rounds the corner at Favignana and starts sailing to the west of Sicily and down towards Pantelleria. Stronger winds in this area of the 606nm course should lead to big increase in Rambler’s speed.

    Bruno Cardile's ORMA 60 Ad Maiora (ITA) has also found good pressure, but needed to sail well offshore to find it. The trimaran is now about 40 miles from the north-west corner of the course and well behind Rambler.

    Nearly 48 hours into the race, some 41 boats have now passed Stromboli. Renzo Grottesi's ClubSwan 42 BeWild (ITA) is 78nm from San Vito Lo Capo and still ranked as the top IRC boat overall. Second is Gabriele Bruni's ICE52 PrimaVista-Lauria (ITA) and third is Frederic Puzin's Mylius15 Corum – Daguet 2 (FRA). These two teams have chosen to stay closer to Sicily than BeWild and a group made up of IRC 1 & IRC 2 yachts. Weather models continue to show a complex picture for the northern coast of Sicily with areas of light winds interspersed with windless zones.

    The game of snakes and ladders is far from over for the majority of the fleet as we enter the third day of the Rolex Middle Sea Race.


    *********************************************










    October 20, 2019
    Rinse, Repeat, Keep Sailing

    For a second year in a row the first 36 hours of the Rolex Middle Sea Race have proved extremely challenging, testing the patience and commitment of the 113 crews participating. Yesterday’s light wind start, was followed by a light wind passage north to Sicily. Overnight, most boats maintained momentum before the wind shut down for much of the fleet around day-break. A leading group of yachts have managed to capitalize on what wind was available and are breaking through into the Tyrrhenian Sea, while the vast majority are yet to reach Etna.

    George David’s Rambler (USA) exited the Messina Strait just before midday and double-headed reached towards Stromboli in a predominantly easterly wind. Rounding shortly after 17:00 CEST, Rambler has virtually matched her performance of 2018. At press time, eleven yachts, including the leading multihull Ad Maiora (ITA), were on the leg to the active volcanic island

    In terms of fleet position, the American 88-footer benefited from passing through the strait just before the tide turned foul and stretched her advantage as those behind struggled. While 12 hours off the 2007 record pace, the crew will be encouraged by their improving position and the prospect of securing a fifth consecutive line honours title.

    Behind, the picture has been evolving constantly. At sunrise, the maxi had a lead of 10nm over Marton Jozsa’s RP60 Wild Joe (HUN). Two hours later the gap had stretched to 15nm and Wild Joe, on her own when the sun came up, found herself being rapidly caught by a group of yachts including Aragon (POL), Lupa of the Sea (ITA), R92 Pendragon (HUN) and, impressively, the French 52-footer Arobas2. Three hours later, as Rambler started the leg to Stromboli, the gap was 20nm, roughly the length of the infamous strait.

    Having rounded Stromboli, the northernmost point on the course, Rambler is now on her way to Palermo. Wild Joe, Arobas2 and Kuka 3 (SUI) passed through the narrow channel separating Sicily from the mainland three hours in arrears, with Wizard (USA) next to follow. The gap to the leader is holding for the moment and whether it extends will depend greatly on the conditions encountered post-Stromboli.











    The forecast shows predominantly light easterly winds for the passage across the north of Sicily. A localised area of higher wind pressure looks possible between Alicudi and Palermo, and this could benefit Rambler. Around Palermo, the southerly influence looks likely to increase, with the wind clocking to the southeast. There may then be a zone of very little wind to negotiate. That all said, the models are not consistent and the overall picture remains as uncertain today as it did before the race.

    Further back in the fleet, it has been a strange story. After everyone made slow, painful and dogged progress to Capo Passero overnight, at a point around 08:00 CEST, the wind gods appear to have played a mean trick just abeam of Siracusa. A number of boats closer to the land picked up some breeze and started moving steadily north gaining separation on those further offshore and to the south. Yachts of quite different sizes benefited. The 82-foot Aegir (FRA) and 70-foot Wizard found themselves just ahead of the 42-foot yachts, the ClubSwan 42 BeWild (ITA) and Artie III (MLT). As the favoured yachts continued to progress, the rest came to a virtual standstill. BeWild, currently leading overall under IRC according to the tracker, confirmed this potentially significant development in the race.

    Navigator, Manuel Polo, spoke to the media centre this afternoon. “It has been very difficult. None of the weather models have been correct and we concentrated on finding thermal winds yesterday evening,” explained Polo. “We went to the right on the approach to Sicily. Then we came back in at Capo Passero. At Capo Porco (near Siracusa) we were very, very lucky and could reach the same pressure as the bigger boats. We then had a straight-line sail to Reggio di Calabria, where we are now.”

    Polo’s biggest concern is the next major passage. “We are really enjoying the race,” he said. “But we are finding it very difficult to understand the winds on top of Sicily. We think it will be very light from Stromboli to Palermo and we are not yet sure whether to go inshore or offshore.”

    BeWild’s position relative to her immediate competitors shows the immensity of the advantage gained in that one moment this morning. As the Italian crew look forward to exiting the strait before sunset this evening, only three other boats are in the narrow stretch of water – Corum Daguet (FRA), Prima Vista-Lauria (ITA) and Artie III. The next boat in BeWild’s class IRC 4 is Albator (FRA), some 35nm behind BeWild.

    Of the 11 Maltese boats in the race, Lee Satariano's HH42 Artie III currently enjoys a substantial lead on the water, 30nm ahead of Sean Borg's Xp-44 Xpresso, which is having a great battle with Timmy Camilleri and Richard Schultheis’ Xp44 Xp-act. Both teams are racing under spinnaker within sight of each other and leading the chasing pack of Maltese boats.

    The Podesta family, racing First 45 Elusive 2, has made a move towards the Sicilian coast, which may have cost some northing but, strategically, should offer a better angle to enter the strait. Jonathan & Gerald Gambin's Ton Ton Laferla Insurance has followed the line of Elusive 2, 10nm astern. Jamie Sammut's Solaris 42 Unica is tussling with Ramon Sant Hill & Melle Boersma's Farr45 Comanche Raider III. The two Jarhead Young Sailors Foundation J/109s are enjoying a close battle. Andrea Azzopardi's JYS Jarhead is just ahead of the all-female team racing JYS Jan skippered by Gabriella Mifsud.







    TRACKER


    18:00 CEST Class Analysis Based on Tracker Positions
    The light air conditions throughout the day have played havoc with the fleet standings. With light airs forecast to persist on the eastern seaboard of Sicily, those on the leg to Stromboli or at the very least in the Messina Strait should expect to increase any advantage gained to date.

    The overall winner of the Rolex Middle Sea Race is decided by the best corrected time under the IRC Rating Rule. Renzo Grottesi's Be Wild continues to be in pole position for the moment with the IRC52 Arobas2 skippered by Gerard Logel in second and Franco Niggeler’s Cookson 50, Kuka 3 in third.

    IRC 1
    The smallest yacht in the big boat class, Marton Jozsa's Wild Joe is 12nm from Stromboli and leads from Fabio Cannavale's Baltic 78 Lupa of the Sea and Przemek Tarnacki's Marten 72 Aragon.

    IRC 2
    Arobas² is 15nm from Stromboli and leads the Cookson 50 pair of Kuka 3 and
    Brian McMaster's Riff Raff. Milan Tomek, who finished second overall in 2018 on Bohemia Praha, and is on board Jean Pierre Dick's The Kid, called in just as the team were passing Mount Etna. “Today was a hard day for us because The Kid is a boat that needs much stronger wind. We did our best, we must have changed sails 'one million times'! We really enjoyed the view of Etna, because the sun was shining. We hope to get more wind over the next few days.”

    IRC 3
    The ICE 52 PrimaVista-Lauria (ITA), skippered by Gabriele Bruni, is at Punta del Faro at the northern mouth to the Messina Strait and leads Frederic Puzin's Corum – Daguet 2 and Lee Satariano's Artie III

    IRC 4
    BeWild is approaching Punto del Faro, with the next two in class, Arto Linnervuo's Xp 44 Xtra Staerk (FIN) and Xpresso, yet to enter the strait

    IRC 5
    Tom Kneen's JPK 11.80 Sunrise (GBR) is offshore just passing Mount Etna, leading Daniel Martan's Figaro II Inteman (ESP) and Peter Gustafsson's J/111 Blur (SWE) on handicap.

    IRC 6
    The Sun Fast 3200, Desperado (FRA), leads the JPK 10.30 Jeanne (FRA) and Timofey Zhbankov’s JPK 10.80 Rossko (RUS).

    IRC DH
    Inteman holds the lead over Igor Rytov’s JPK 10.80 Bogatyr (RUS) and the J/122 Linea Rossa – Shaker (TUR)

    Multihull/MOCRA
    Ad Maiora on the final approach to Stromboli is leading Nigel Passmore’s Dazcat 1495, Apollo, and the Christiaan Durrant skippered XS35 Blackwater (AUS).


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    The Great Sicilian Wind Shadow Devours Middle Sea Fleet




    October 21, 2019
    NEWSFLASH – George David’s American Maxi Rambler takes Monohull Line Honours.
    NEWSFLASH – Rolex Middle Sea Race 2019: George David’s American Maxi Rambler takes Monohull Line Honours.
    Rambler crossed the finish line of the 40th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race at 08:13:00 CEST on Tuesday, 22 October, completing the 606nm course in a time of 2 days 19 hours 43 minutes.
    Rambler Crew: George David, Brad Butterworth, Andrea Visintini, Rodney Ardern, Will McCarthy, Dean Phipps, Stuart Wilson, Mark Newbrook, Jan Dekker, Brian Giorgio, Scott Beavis, Simon Daubney, Peter van Niekerk, Joca Signorini, Curtis Blewett, Antonio Cuervas Mons, Jerry Kirby, Anthony Nossiter
    A full report will be issued later today.




    TRACKER




    October 21, 2019
    Pressure Point
    The 40th Edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race is doing its best to leave a mark on the history of the famous 606nm offshore race. For the moment, that mark appears somewhat black. While George David’s American maxi Rambler powers south towards Lampedusa, the rest of the fleet have been left contemplating another night of slow progress. If the first 24 hours were frustrating for the majority of the fleet, the following 24 have been equally as painful.

    Rambler is the only yacht to so far have escaped the clutches of the great Sicilian wind shadow, formed off the northern coast. Rounding Favignana this morning at around 09:30 CEST, the crew switched on the afterburners, relatively speaking, and sped to Pantelleria at 15 knots passing the island at 15:10 CEST. Rambler is now marching on to the southernmost corner of the racecourse and has taken the overall lead of the race under IRC. Behind Rambler, the competitive juices still flow strong despite the struggle, all competing yachts are through the Strait of Messina and more than half the fleet have rounded Stromboli.




    Monte Monaco, overlooking San Vito Lo Capo is a favourite with hikers and climbers. It offers a spectacular view over the gulf of Castellammare to the east and, on a clear day, a glimpse of the island of Ustica to the northeast. For most of today, there have been yachts spreading back from an imaginary line running north from Bagheria, 10km east of Palermo, all the way to beyond the Aeolian Islands. Anyone looking northeast today may well have been mistaken for thinking there was a gathering invasion fleet on the horizon. Throughout the day, a growing second row of frontrunners has been struggling against a virtual barrier.

    Just like a marathon runner running out of steam and hitting the wall, the minds of the crews have been willing, the fighting spirit intact, but the legs or, in this case the sails, have simply not obliged. There is wind on the course. Without question at Favignana, where a strong southerly is filling the channel between Sicily and North Africa, and seemingly so between Stromboli and the invisible wall. Yachts that appeared out of the running yesterday have closed the gap on, and in some cases joined, the leading group. Stefan Jentzsch’s Carkeek 47 Black Pearl (GER), Erik de Turkheim’s NMYD 54 Teasing Machine (FRA), Gaudenz Troesch’s Marten 49 Ginger (SUI) are three yachts to have taken advantage of the early leaders’ suffering. Any elation would be short-lived as the lack of wind sucked the life out of their efforts.



    Yachts are beginning to move, and hope is in sight. At press time, Marton Jozsa’s RP60 Wild Joe (HUN), the second-placed monohull on the water, is recording 6.5 knots and Gerard Logel’s IRC 52 Arobas2 (FRA), just to the south, is at 6 knots. David and Peter Askew’s Rolex Fastnet winning Volvo 70 Wizard (USA), which has also joined the group, is clocking similar speeds. Renzo Grottesi’s ClubSwan 42 BeWild (ITA) is still in this pack, now lying second overall in the IRC standings, according to the tracker. The 42-footer has also, finally been overhauled on the water by Lee Satariano’s HH42 Artie III, the leading Maltese yacht. With some 65nm to go to the corner at Favignana, there are still some 10 hours before these yachts reach Nirvana and fresher winds.

    Spirits remain high among the crews, particularly those at the back of the fleet, the furthest from the finish. In IRC 6, two JPK 10.80s have renewed their rivalry from last year. In 2018, Timofey Zhbankov's Rossko (RUS) won the class with Ludovic Gérard's Solenn (FRA) taking second place. This year, after 200nm of racing the two teams are within sight of each other. “We are one mile behind Rossko and chasing them for first in our class ranking,” commented Gérard, as the French team approached Stromboli. “Our navigator Pierre Quiroga is struggling to design our strategy north of Sicily with a very large area of calm winds.” After Stromboli, Solenn looked to have chosen to stay close to the rhumb-line while Rossko gybed south.

    Goran Vlahovic's Elan 450 Adio Pameti (CRO) exited the Strait of Messina almost exactly 48 hours after starting. The Croatian team have over 400nm to go to complete the Rolex Middle Sea Race and lie 108th on the water. The mood on board is still good. “It is really hard to manage this unbelievably calm sea, but we are all very pleased to enjoy this wonderful race,” commented Vlahovic. The spirit on board is really great. We hope to finish the regatta in time and that will be our great victory.”

    In the Double-handed Class, Daniel Martin’s Figaro II Inteman (ESP) rounded Stromboli at just about noon. The only other double-hander to have rounded the volcanic island is Fabiijan Roic’s Akilara 40, Crazy (CRO), about an hour earlier in the day. Inteman, though, is leading the IRC class according to the tracker. “We are having a very good race. We are both well and very happy,” advised Martin. “We have a really nice view of Stromboli for the moment. There’s lots to see, but not a lot of wind. We don’t expect much for many hours to come, but we’re strong!”

    Maltese Focus
    Lee Satariano's Artie III continues as the leading Maltese boat in the 2019 Rolex Middle Sea Race. The highly-experienced crew, including Christian Ripard as co-skipper, is 30 miles ahead of the next boat in the 11-strong Maltese fleet. It has been far from easy to maintain this advantage. Huge wind holes are creating traps all along the northern coast of Sicily. With 340nm to go to finish the race, the next major goal is to reach the north-west corner in good shape. The increased winds in the western part of the racetrack will dramatically improve boat speed.

    After IRC time correction, three Maltese boats are currently in the top 10 of the 98 boats racing for the overall win. Artie is ranked sixth, the Podesta family racing the First 45 Elusive 2 is ninth and Xpresso is tenth.

    In IRC 6, there is a fantastic battle between two identical boats raced in the main by young Maltese sailors. Jarhead Young Sailors Foundation has two identical J/109s racing in IRC 6. JYS Jarhead is skippered by Andrea Azzopardi, whilst JYS Jan is an all-female team skippered by Gabriella Mifsud. Among, the crew is Nikki Henderson, the youngest ever skipper in the Clipper Round the World Race.

    On the way to Stromboli this afternoon, Gabriella spoke about the battle with JYS Jarhead. “We had been leading Jarhead from the start, but as we approached the Strait of Messina, Jarhead got ahead of us. We fought back and managed to be the first to exit the strait. It is definitely a great battle, Jarhead is less than a mile behind us.”

    In IRC 4, Gregory Mifsud, Gabriella's brother, is bowman on Jonathan Gambin's Dufour 44 Ton Ton Laferla Insurance. This is Gambin's 11th race. Gregory is 21 and has competed every year bar-one since he was 15. “The boat speed is good at the moment, about 7 knots,” said Gregory as the team passed Stromboli. “We have been very busy with sail changes as the wind speed is in a constant state of flux. Timing when to change and doing it fast is crucial. The action of changing the sail slows down the boat, but we have to do it so that we are sailing as efficiently as possible.”
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    ORMA 60 Ad Maiora Abandoned In Middle Sea Race


    40 ROLEX MIDDLE SEA RACE:Ad Maiora Abandoned

    After having suffered serious damage to the hull on the left, the crew of the skipper Bruno Cardile tried to continue on the route to Lampedusa, but the situation got worse and put sailors and boats at risk. The team then launched May Day and upon arrival of a Coast Guard vehicle abandoned the trimaran Ad Maiora, who was second behind Rambler 88 and was making a great regatta. "Boat monitored, we will retrieve it and return to the sea in 2020"




    There was no news for 24 hours, and strangely the management and communication of the Rolex Middle Sea Race gave no updates, although it was evident from the tracking (boat stopped in West Lampedusa) that the legendary trimaran Ad Maiora had problems. Finally a little while ago (6pm on Wednesday) a communication from the same skipper Bruno Cardile team arrived.

    The boat suffered significant damage to the left hull, and was forced to withdraw from the Rolex Middle Sea Race. The crew attempted to sail safely without forcing the damaged hull, but the damage was increasing and at that point the prudent and seafaring choice to abandon the boat was forced. Here a video with the recovery of one of the crew members, Gertjan Andelm and below the release. More updates and images in the next few hours.





    HOW THE RACE WAS GOING - After an exhilarating match race with Rambler 88 all along the Ionian and a subsequent fantastic side from Stromboli to Favignana, the boat started to tackle the side towards Pantelleria and Lampedusa to the south. A very fast upwind course with peaks of 18 knots in Staysail configuration and first hand. Five crew members, always trimming, have had to contend with an increasingly important and shorter sea that, having doubled Pantelleria, on the side towards Lampedusa, has reached 2.5 meters.

    WHAT IS SUCCESS - Just a short distance from the layline for Pantelleria, the crew found a vertical lesion on the left hull at the level of the shrouds. The skipper Bruno Cardile immediately ordered the tack to starboard wall that allowed to lap Lampedusa, as planned for the regatta also lightening the load on the left rigging.





    After about 30 minutes of sailing to starboard, the injury to the hull had by now reached dimensions that were not reassuring due to the safety of the crew, always the absolute priority, and for the integrity of the boat subjected to increasing stress with weather deterioration arrival. It was clear that it was no longer possible to navigate if not with very high risk for everyone and everything. Ad Maiora decides to withdraw from the race.

    THE DECISION TO LAUNCH THE MAY DAY - Always very difficult moments, but at this point, the skipper activates the SDC and launches the May Day on CH 16 collected by the Coast Guard of Lampedusa who sent on the spot the CP 319 unit already at sea in service. While waiting for help to arrive, on board there was calm and the skipper ordered the preparation of watertight bags with their personal belongings, PCs, telephones, PLBs, etc. to prepare the eventual liferaft. The discomfort for the victory that faded after so much effort and effort was materialized in the bitter glances, in the strange grimaces and in the drawn smiles of each one: the hearts beat strong and embraced, but sad.

    RESCUEES - When the Lampedusa CP319 unit reached Ad Maiora, a quick radio conversation on how to recover the crew and recommendations from the Coast Guard commander, one by one, all crew members left the trimaran for to be recovered, lastly the commander Bruno Cardile, as the honor of every commander wants.



    AND NOW? - Ad Maiora is under constant satellite monitoring and will be reached to be towed or to sail safely to Lampedusa where an emergency repair will be performed that will allow you to navigate by motor to Malta or Sicily in the coming days of calm sea . It is already alert to prepare the feasible repair work during the winter to return to racing in 2020. The Team wanted to thank the many fans they contacted to congratulate us for encouraging us and for knowing the conditions of the crew and the trimaran.

    CREW - Bruno Cardile (skipper / tactician), Attilio Miccichè (watch leader / helm / trimmer) Gertjan Andel (bowman / trimmer) Matteo Lureschi (trimmer), Fabrizio Volpi (tree)





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    A Finish With A Flurry




    OCTOBER 24, 2019
    Not so Elusive after all
    The 40th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race has continued to provide plenty of twists and turns. For many yachts the race is over; they are tied up to the dock, enjoying the hospitality of the Royal Malta Yacht Club or the historic city of Valletta. Some 54 yachts have completed the course to date. With 17 yachts officially retired, a further 42 are still out on the course. The wind in the Sicily channel finally started abating today and a transition zone is moving eastwards from the western Mediterranean. Later tonight (Thursday, 24 October) a north-westerly flow will start to dominate.


    The standings in all classes are beginning to take shape and the overall picture is now in sharp focus. This afternoon, at 16:30 CEST, the Maltese First 45 Elusive 2 was announced as the overall winner of the 2019 Rolex Middle Sea Race.


    Late last night it had looked likely that 2018 race winner, Géry Trentesaux’s Courrier Recommandé (FRA), might be the first yacht to win the race back-to-back since Nita IV won three in a row between 1978 and 1980. As it was, the Blackwater incident on Day 4 (Tuesday), which saw a number of yachts standing by to lend assistance to the dismasted catamaran, ended up influencing the results. The Jury had to sit for several hours today hearing requests for redress from the crews involved. At the end of the final hearing the results were recalculated. Elusive 2 had moved into the lead with a margin of 15 minutes.


    For the Podesta siblings - Aaron, Christoph and Maya - racing the yacht and, indeed, their mother Christine ashore – this is a massive moment. The three have raced together every Rolex Middle Sea Race since 2002, except 2014 the year of Aaron’s marriage. When they first started racing as a trio, it was with their father, Arthur, who in turn had taken part in every race since 1968 until his untimely death in 2015. For the Podesta children to continue the family legacy is a commitment of effort and emotion.







    Arthur won the race, himself, as crew on three occasions with Josian in 1968, Tikka in 1970 and Saudade in 1983. The only minor blemish on his otherwise impressive record was that he never won the race as skipper of his own yacht; something he tried very hard to do. Significantly, though, his knowledge, experience and, above all, passion for the race have been passed onto his children. All three are exceptional sailors in their own right. This win is a tremendous confirmation of their talent and determination. It is equally affirmation of the lessons learnt with their father.


    “Our father was with us on the boat and everything that we have managed is down to him and for him,” said an emotional Maya. “The race itself has meant a lot to us for a long time and this result is 18 years in the making. We started racing because my dad wanted us to join him. We quickly picked up the bug, and we have always wanted to climb up the ladder, and now we have done it.”


    “A huge portion of this race is preparation, as soon as we finished last year's race we started preparing for this year,” advised Christoph. “The boat was fantastic, it did not fail us in any way and that was a big part of our success. Winning this race is a massive achievement for us, the whole crew is family and friends.”


    “This win hasn't sunk in yet. All of our sailing is planned around this race, it affects our family plans, but the whole family realise how important it is to us,” explained Aaron. “Their support gives us the possibility of putting in so much preparation. This is the top, the name Elusive has been associated with the race for 18 years and it is an unbelievable achievement to win against the best.”


    Elusive’s arrival at 19:31 last night was the beginning of 24 more hours of activity at the finish as 26 more yachts filed in, a number helping to complete class podiums. The stories from the boats were primarily focused upon the extraordinary upwind conditions encountered on the leg from Pantelleria. For most, the wind had not been the problem. It was the waves that posed the greatest danger. Short, steep and increasing in size as the wind built, yachts were subjected to jarring and slamming as they punched through to Lampedusa. On the following leg to Comino, the angle was a little easier, but it was still an upwind fetch.


    Elusive was not the only yacht to receive a time deduction from the Jury. Four Xp 44s, that enjoyed a colossal scrap throughout the race were all awarded time for lending their support. In the end, it was Sean Borg’s Xpresso that won through, beating their Maltese sistership Xp-act, co-skippered by 14-year-old Richard Schultheis on his first race and Timmy Camilleri on his 26th race, by 30 minutes on corrected time.









    In IRC 6, Ludovic Gérard's JPK 10.80 Solenn (FRA) has provisionally won IRC 6. This is the French team’s second race. In 2018, they lost out to Timofey Zhbankov's JPK 10.80 Rossko (RUS) in class by just 30 minutes on corrected time. This year, racing in the largest class of 25 crews, Solenn and Rossko engaged in a 606nm match race. Arriving this morning, half an hour apart, Solenn won by just four seconds on corrected time in a dramatic finish at the Royal Malta Yacht Club.


    “Can you imagine how intense that was? Winning by just four seconds is peanuts, it is just one bad tack,” commented Ludovic Gérard. “The first two or three days were difficult, we had very little wind and at Messina for example we struggled with the current.” As for the competition presented by Rossko, Gérard was full of admiration. “We were rarely apart for the whole race,” he continued. “At Lampedusa, we did make a break from them. We thought that the wind would change direction, so we went south while they went to the west. We ended up two miles behind.” It was on the final short leg from Comino to the finish, that Solenn made the decisive move, heading inshore.


    The smallest boat in this year's Rolex Middle Sea Race is Pegasus (ITA), the Akilaria 950. Just 9.5m (31ft) and raced double-handed by Francesco Conforto and Roberto Rovito, at sunset on the fifth day of the race (Wednesday 23 October), Pegasus was approaching Pantelleria. Conforto and Rovito decided to pull in to assess the weather conditions for the final 200 miles of the race. “We made the difficult decision to retire,” commented Conforto. “There was too much wind and the waves were sometimes over four metres high. The wind is due to turn northwest, which will mean the sea will be even more agitated. We felt that it was not safe for Pegasus to continue.”


    The Pegasus crew has every intention of making the prize giving in Malta this Saturday. They will not be disappointed. A Maltese win, and perhaps especially this one, will be cause for an even bigger celebration than usual.


    ************************************





    OCTOBER 23, 2019
    Out with the Old, In with the New
    The fifth day of the 40th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race has been a bountiful one on the docks of the Royal Malta Yacht Club, as yachts start to finish in numbers and tales of the race are shared. The strong winds to the west of Sicily have, as predicted, begun to affect the contest for the overall prize. Rambler’s near 24-hour tenure at the top was ended by Black Pearl’s arrival early this morning. The turnovers then came thick and fast and, at press time, the ClubSwan 42 BeWild is sitting atop the pile. With 84 yachts on the course, including three yet to round Favignana at the halfway point of the racetrack, there is plenty of racing left.


    The Rolex Fastnet Race winners Richard and David Askew, with the Volvo 70 Wizard, were the second yacht to finish, arriving just after midnight on Wednesday morning. Never really in contention for the overall race win after a less than perfect start followed by a difficult opening passage to the Strait of Messina, the American maxi finally asserted her ocean-racing pedigree in the open water after Favignana. On what has been a fetch from Lampedusa, Wizard was able to stretch away from a group formed of R’92 Pendragon (HUN), Wild Joe (HUN), Aegir (GBR) and Aragon (POL), which had been snapping at her heels. These four yachts eventually finished in a 50-minute window between 05:00 and 06:00 CEST. The first three within 8 minutes of each other.


    When Black Pearl (GER) crossed the line at 08:24 CEST, the crew were clearly elated to have completed the course and to have topped their class (IRC 2) in the process. There was a sense that too many boats were still at sea for any thoughts to turn to greater glory. Theirs had been a hard race, especially the second half. “This boat is built for reaching and downwind more than upwind, so whenever we go upwind it is like a rodeo. You get bounced around, it’s hard to catch a nap and it’s even harder to cook. Boiling water becomes a hazard,” explained owner, Stefan Jentzsch. “It was tough, but every year there is a tough part and that is what we like about the Rolex Middle Sea Race. It was a fun race and we’ll have to see about the result. There are great competitors out there and I am sure they will give us a hard time to the very end. The best boat will win as always.”


    Half an hour later, the first of the two Cookson 50s arrived. Franco Niggeler’s Kuka 3 (SUI) beat Brian McMaster’s Riff Raff by 30 minutes on the water. Then, just as the lunch crowd was gathering on the deck of the RMYC, the ICE52 PrimaVista-Lauria, skippered by Italian Olympian and round the world sailor, Pietro D’Ali, and whose crew included Olympian and 49er World Champion, Gabriele Bruni from Sicily, crossed the line. Already winners of the Rolex Middle Sea Coastal Race, PrimaVista-Lauria slipped into the overall lead of the Class 3 and more significantly event by 40 minutes.





    “We have a very good crew and we know each other very well, so we were pushing the speed of the boat all the time,” commented D'Ali. “We played the shifts very well and never stopped, especially on the northern part of Sicily, where there were many holes in the wind. It was like inshore racing.” One of many key points on the course was the approach to San Vito Lo Capo. “We went offshore at the right time, just before the big wind hole inshore near Trapani,” advised D’Ali. This was very important, as we knew after rounding Favigana, the south-easterly would fill in.”


    PrimaVista-Lauria was followed across the line by two more yachts featuring world sailing stars, this time two short-handed round the world sailors from France. Seb Josse on Frederic Puzin’s Corum-Daguet 2 and Jean-Pierre Dick skippering the The Kid.


    The next major arrival was Lee Satariano’s Maltese entry, Artie III, with Christian Ripard in the crew. A two-time winner of the race, Satariano’s latest boat is a step up from previous projects based on production yachts. Artie III is an HH42 and as the crew reached the RMYC dock to the cheers of the assembled crowd, it was clear they had endured, as well as enjoyed, the race.


    Satariano, on his 13th race, expressed real satisfaction with the boat, but admitted they have a long way to go to get her up to full speed. He was also very complimentary about his crew, a mix of experience, youth and skill, some of whom were on the race for the first time. “It’s good to be back after a couple of years away. I’m really happy with the boat,” said Satariano. “For a first race with this boat, part of long learning process, we have gained a lot. We can really work on improving her now. The crew have worked really hard, especially young ones and especially when it got really tough in the last part.”





    “I can’t really pinpoint any one part of the race that was the hardest tactically, but the first night was very hard,” said tactician Christian Ripard, on his 30th race. “We suffered because we are lacking some of the right sails, but we picked the right moves. And, we were with the big boys to Capo San Vito, when the wind came.”


    After a slow start, the race turned into a true test of stamina and determination. “It was truly rough after Pantelleria,” said Ripard. “We didn’t manage any cooking from yesterday morning on. The boat is very fast, but it’s really brutal. Very hard to stay in one’s bunk. It was better sitting on the rail, but then the watch system goes out of whack. Fortunately, we are a lot of good sailors and could rotate.”


    At 15:40 CEST, BeWild, the leader in Class 4, crossed the line leapfrogging into first place by just over an hour. “We have sailed this race seven times and the weather has always been different,” commented Renzo Grottesi. “BeWild is a good boat in light air, but it was difficult to decide which way to go. Then, for the last 200 miles, we were in strong winds. The humour on board and working as a team made us strong. It is a long race, with very strong competition, and you only relax when you have finished.”


    The twists and turns are far from done. Boats due in later this evening are in with a chance of podium places if the wind holds, particularly between Comino and Marsamxett Harbour where it has been directly on the nose and slow-going for the tired crews. Malta Focus


    With Artie tied up to the dock, the question remains which Maltese yacht will win under IRC handicap. The Podesta family on Elusive 2 are pushing extremely hard, in sight of Comino. Just behind, Timmy Camilleri and the 14-year-old Richard Schultheis on Xp-act are continuing their close fight with Sean Borg’s Xpresso. Ramon Sant Hill’s Comanche Raider III are on the leg from Lampedusa, while Jamie Sammut’s Unica is about to turn the corner, with Jonathan Gambin’s Ton Ton Laferla Insurance just ahead. JYS Jan, the all-female crew skippered by Gabriella Mifsud, has left their sistership, JYS Jarhead, skippered by Andrea Azzopardi, far behind on the leg to Pantelleria. Andrew Agius Delicata/ Matthew Gabriele’s double-hander Vivace is just south of Trapani, with Jonathan Camilleri Bowman’s Maltese Falcon II just behind.

    18:00 CEST IRC Class Analysis
    Based on Provisional Results/Tracker Positions


    IRC 1 (distances where stated are from finish)
    George David Maxi Rambler (USA)
    Fabio Cannavale Baltic 78 Lupa of the Sea (ITA)
    Przemyslaw Tarnacki Marten 72 Aragon (POL)


    IRC 2
    Stefan Jentzsch Carkeek 47 Black Pearl (GER)
    Eric de Turckheim NMYD54 Teasing Machine (FRA)
    Gerard Logel IRC52 Arobas² (FRA)


    IRC 3
    Pietro D'Ali ICE52 PrimaVista-Lauria (ITA)
    Frederic Puzin Mylius 15 Corum Daguet2 (FRA)
    Daniel Adrián Sydney 43GTS Adrian Hoteles Macaronesia (ESP) 5nm


    IRC 4
    Podesta Family First 45 Elusive 2 (MLT) 7nm
    Renzo Grottesi ClubSwan 42 BeWild (ITA)
    Arto Linnervuo Xp-44 Xtra Staerk (FIN) 15nm


    IRC 5
    Géry Trentesaux JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommandé (FRA) 12nm
    Tom Kneen JPK 11.80 Sunrise (GBR) 30nm
    Peter Gustafsson J/111 Blur (SWE) 36nm


    IRC 6
    Jaques Pelletier Milon 41 L'Ange de Milon (FRA) 61nm
    Ludovic Gerard JPK 10.80 Solenn (FRA) 116nm
    Timofey Zhbankov JPK 10.80 Rossko (RUS) 114nm


    IRC DH
    Daniel Martín Figaro II Inteman (ESP) 149nm
    Martin Hartl/Harald Wolf J/109 2Hard (AUT) 201nm
    Fabiijan Roic Akilara 40 Crazy (CRO) 126nm


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