La Valletta – The 34th Rolex Middle Sea Race is underway. Today’s race start, divided into six separate sequences, was conducted in front of a large crowd in sun-kissed Valletta, Malta. A steady twelve-knot southerly ensured the fleet made good progress from the start line in the Grand Harbour and out of the breakwater into the open sea.
99 yachts from 19 different countries started the 606-nm race, representing a race record and easily surpassing the previous best of 82 starters set in 2012. Three hours into the race, the Kristina Plattner-skippered 86-ft Maxi Morning Glory from Germany led the fleet on the approach to the southeast coast of Sicily. Travelling at a consistent 12 knots, and although early in the race, Morning Glory is currently on course to maintain her pre-race target of challenging the race record of just under 48 hours. As forecast, Morning Glory has the two 72-ft Mini Maxis – Alegre (GBR) and Robertissima III (ITA) for close company.
Before departure from the docks of the Royal Malta Yacht Club this morning, the general sentiment among the crews was that forecast conditions pointed to a fast race. “It’s a lot better forecast than last year and a lot of downwind which suits us,” explained Mitch Booth on the 42-ft Swiss entry Kuka Light which sails under the slogan ‘less fat, more speed’. “We’ve spent the year optimizing the boat for lighter Mediterranean conditions,” continued Booth, “but this is a very challenging race with a lot of turns and interesting corners. We learnt last year that it’s not over until it’s over.”
Kuka Light was forecasting a strong performance as was the crew on B2, a TP52 from Italy. “It’s very difficult to find conditions that don’t suit this boat,” explained navigator Nacho Postigo. “She is strong in both heavy and light winds. It’s one of the most all round boats in the fleet along with the Mini Maxis. The start is important but the key point will be around Stromboli and San Vito Lo Capo when the fleet should come together.”
“We love the 600-nm regattas, and Malta is a very special place to race,” enthused Amanda Hartley, skipper of Swan 56 Clem (ESP). “We raced here in 2010 and we loved it then. For the first time, we have a foiler, meaning our rating is better, and we have high expectations for the race. But this is our first regatta with this system, and honestly we still don’t know whether it will work as expected.”
A further race update will be posted on Sunday 20 October.
To follow the race on the tracker click here.
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