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The 2018 IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge got under way in October with its first event, the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

London – The 2018 IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge got under way in October with its first event, the Rolex Middle Sea Race. On this occasion conditions smiled on the smaller boats with the Russian JPK 10.80 Bogatyr claiming overall honours under IRC. The top Maxi under IRC corrected time was the Botin 65 Caro of Germany’s Maximilian Klink.

American George David’s Rambler 88 claimed Rolex Middle Sea Race line honours for a third consecutive year, on this occasion finishing in an elapsed time of 57 hours 48 minutes 9 seconds. This was outside of the 47 hours 55 minutes and 3 seconds record David and his crew had set on the original 90ft Rambler a decade earlier.

David (right) described this year’s race: “The Mistral conditions reminded me of 2007 in Rambler 90 when we set the record, but then it blew even harder – maybe 50 knots. This time we saw 40, but mainly mid-30s. In those conditions it is a little hard to see! It is exciting and very wet, especially when you turn a corner. And you are sideways to the waves – it was a really wet race. When we had the pedal down we were into the 30s for boat speed.”

Due to the severe conditions this year, two thirds of the starters retired. This included the two Maxi 72s, Momo and Proteus of IMA members Dieter Schön and George Sakellaris, plus the Simon Rogers-designed Carbon Ocean Yachts-built Aegir Performance Yacht Charter, campaigned by Finland’s Robert Stauber. Other Maxis that did complete the course were the 100ft Farr Yacht Design maxi Leopard, chartered to Frenchman Pascal Oddo, plus Whitbread Round The World Race veteran Ludde Ingvall’s radical 100 footer CQS and a Russian team, skippered by Valentin Zubkov on the 2001 vintage Reichel-Pugh designed Nauta 78, Arctic Energy.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race was opening event of the 2018 IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge, which continues in 2018 with:

11 May – Regata dei Tre Golfi 2018 (Naples, Italy to Capri, via Ponza and Li Galli)
31 May – 151 Miglia (Livorno, Italy to Punta Ala leaving Giraglia and Elba to port and Sparviero to starboard)
13 June – Giraglia Rolex Cup (Saint Tropez, France to Genoa, Italy via Giraglia rock)
21 August – Palermo to Montecarlo Race.

Winner of the 2018 IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge will be the maxi yacht scoring the highest results across three of the five events. The prize will be presented to the winner at the International Maxi Association annual dinner in Porto Cervo during September 2018’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup.

Capri is a favourite destination with Maxi owners. Photo: ROLEX/Kurt Arrigo

Maxis to rejoin Rolex Capri Sailing Week

Following the introduction to the IMA Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge of its fifth event – the Regata dei Tre Golfi – Rolex Capri Sailing Week will make a welcome return to the International Maxi Association fixture list in 2018. Regata dei Tre Golfi now forms part of Rolex Capri Sailing Week acting as a feeder race to it from Naples.

Racing at Rolex Capri Sailing Week for most classes will take place on the Gulf of Naples over 17-19th May, but exact dates for the Maxis series have yet to be finalised. The organisers will be laying on a separate race course for Maxi yachts participating. Several Maxi 72 teams have already expressed interest in competing in this magnificent regatta.

Maxis at the Venice Hospitality Challenge

13 maxi yachts, including two Il Moro Di Venezias America’s Cup challengers, competed in the Venice Hospitality Challenge – Grand Prix of the City of Venice, which took place on the ‘city of canals’ on 14 October.

This annual event sees the most exclusive local hotels each backing a maxi boat in a unique race through Venice’s spectacular waters. The course sees the maxis start off St Mark’s Square, heading out towards the Lido before returning back to Giudecca Island and the finish off St Mark’s. This year was the fourth occasion the annual Venice Hospitality Challenge has taken place.

The 2017 race was held in light winds and won by the Cà Sagredo Hotel-backed Spirit of Portopiccolo. Skippered by Furio Benussi of the famous Trieste sailing family, Spirit of Portopiccolo is the canting keel Reichel-Pugh designed MaxZ86 that started life as Dr Hasso Plattner’s Morning Glory. She was chased around the race course by the Slovenian 80 footer Nuovo Maxi Jena, winner of the 2015-16 editions, and the Laurie Davidson 70, Pendragon VI, respectively backed by The Gritti Palace and the Hilton Molino Stucky.

Organised by the Yacht Club Venice with sponsorship from Generali Italia and Moët & Chandon, the event culminated in a prizegiving attended by IMA Secretary General Andrew McIrvine and Kim Andersen, President of World Sailing, along with Ermelinda Damiano, President of the City Council of Venice, FIV President Francesco Ettorre and Admiral Marcello Bernard, Commander of the Istituto di Studi Militari Marittimi in Venice. It was followed by a cocktail party on board of the Italian navy’s sail training ship Amerigo Vespucci.

A more formal tie-up between the event and the International Maxi Association is anticipated for the future. The event takes place immediately after the world’s biggest single-start regatta, the Barcolana, which will take place on 14 October next year, when it will celebrate its 50th anniversary. In 2017 the Barcolana had 2101 entries, one can only imagine how big the fleet will be as it celebrates it half century.

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