[Source:RMSR] Peter Dimech, Principal Race Officer and Race Chair spoke about the storm that raged through the fleet. “The remaining yachts racing in the Rolex Middle Sea Race are expected to arrive at the Royal Malta Yacht Club by today and tomorrow. Whilst the wind speed has decreased, the sea state is still significant and we are keeping a close watch on the yachts still at sea. Before the start of the race, every yacht was inspected to make sure that they were in compliance with the special regulations for the race. During the storm, that safety equipment becomes a vital part of safety on board. In general, the fleet has showed excellent seamanship in difficult conditions, probably the biggest lesson we have learnt is that communication with yachts is very important and the tracker has been invaluable in that respect.”
Whilst there are still yachts racing, the class winners for the 35th Rolex Middle Sea Race have all been decided.
Line Honours Winner
Skipper Jochen Schumann, Maxi 100, Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) “We would have come sooner if we could!” Joked Jochen Schumann, enjoying a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine, at the Royal Malta Yacht Club. “In a special way, light airs racing is also very difficult. The sail we used the most during was the wind seeker and using that to its full potential requires a huge amount of concentration from all of the crew on deck. We needed to keep alert because if we stop, the boats behind can see that on the tracker and can avoid the wind hole we have found ourselves in. Ran made a big gain at Pantelleria, we stopped for a while and they caught us up, that is very difficult to defend against, but in general if we think we are going to park up, we would choose a place where the competition would need to pass close to us, to negate that effect.”
For the boats still racing, it looks like they will have a lot of wind over the next few days, they don’t really need my advice. I am sure they are really prepared and so is their equipment they are all good sailors but the race could be quite tough for them.”
Winner IRC 1
Niklas Zennstrom, JV72, RAN V (SWE)
“All you can do is try to win your class and hope that the weather is in your favour” commented Niklas Zennstrom. “As always, Team Ran prepared the boat and raced to a very high standard, so we can be happy with our performance. I would like to thank the Royal Malta Yacht Club, for organising the race and especially coming out to the boat with cold beer and warm greetings at the end of a long race.”
Winner IRC 2
Paolo Semeraro, Neo 400, Neo Bank Sails (ITA)
“It was a tough race from Favignana, especially for a small boat of just 40 feet” commented Paolo Semeraro. “We had a lot of wind, from Favignana but it was manageable and between Pantelleria and Lampedusa we were often sailing at over 20 knots of boat speed. After Lampedusa the first two hours were okay but after that we had something like 45 knots of wind on the beam and waves of six metres. We finished with two reefs in the main and a storm jib but it was still too much sail area up – the Comino Channel was really hard, maybe 50 knots at times. My crew is very good and we are proud to see that we were up with the bigger boats in real time, not just corrected, which was incredible.
This is a new boat, launched in February and I built it in Bari, this is the first one – the prototype. I think that offshore racing in Italy is on the increase because ultimately you spend less days on the shore and more days on the water. When you go windward – leeward racing in a regatta, you have to stay five days in the hotel and feed and accommodate ten people and often at regattas you lose days racing because of too much or too little wind. Inshore, the amount of money for the hours of sailing is not a good proportion. In a race like this, you get a full five days sailing and long distance racing is becoming more popular in Italy because of this.”
Winner IRC 3
Josef Schultheis Xp-44, XP-ACT Bank Sails
XP-ACT is a local boat and I live in Malta, this is the biggest event of our calendar, we wait all year for the race. XP-ACT has been on the podium for the last three years, no other boat has done that. I am very proud to win this race with this crew on board. In conditions from no wind to 47 knots with huge waves, with the right crew on board you can achieve anything. It was satisfying to manage the boat in such conditions. The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a yacht race that any boat can win, the fast professional yachts don’t just disappear in their own weather system. In this race all of the boats have different wind systems so it is a more level playing field. Performing well is always a combination of the crew, the sails and the boat and 22.9 knots is the fastest we could go with two bedrooms and two bathrooms!
Winner IRC 4
Lee Satariano, J/122, Artie (MLT)
Lee Satariano was asked before the race if the record entry of 122 yachts and the fact that Artie is a J/122 was an omen? “I am not superstitious anymore!” commented Lee just after stepping ashore. “It was a very very tough race. The crew have worked around the clock from day one and the race didn’t start well for us but during day two we started to get our the shifts right and co-skippers Sebastian and Christian Ripard did a great job on the tactics and the end result was a series of correct decision that put us in a good position before the storm arrived. As always, having a good crew on board allows you to give the effort an extra push, with a good boat and an excellent crew are intention at the start was to win and we hope we have achieved that.”
Winner IRC 5 and Double Handed (ITA)
Azuree 33, Pierpaolo Ballerini and Stig Westergaard
Azuree, Stig Westergaard two times winner of the Finn gold cup, multiple Soling medallist and two round the world races teamed up with boat builder and designer Pierpaolo Ballerini for the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Azuree won the double handed class and took the win in IRC 5 by just under six minutes from Isidoro Santececca’s JOD 35, Cuor di Leone.
“On the first night we were caught in a fishing net, I don’t like swimming in the dark but was round the keel the propeller everywhere, it cost us nearly two hours. When the storm arrived, we didn’t know that it would be so strong, we thought it would be sailable and we were doing well in the race but as the smallest boat in the race, we got washed away big time. For us it was a case of stay in one piece during the night and make sure we make breakfast. Paolo and I are a match made in heaven for Double Handed, we were able to win our class and fourth overall because we are a combination of a sailor and a seaman. Any practical issue on board, Paolo took care of including all of the sail changes and I focused on driving the boat. Even in the heavy weather, the relationship didn’t change. Paolo was struggling with sea sickness but Paolo showed exceptional stamina. He was still up on the foredeck, sea sick and changing sails in 40 knots, that takes tremendous courage.”
The prize giving ceremony for the Rolex Middle Sea Race will take place on Saturday 25th October at the Republic Hall, Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta at 12:00pm. Attendance is by invitation only.