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George David’s American Maxi, Rambler 88, crossed the finish line of the 2016 Rolex Middle Sea Race at the Royal Malta Yacht Club to...

Malta – George David’s American Maxi, Rambler 88, crossed the finish line of the 2016 Rolex Middle Sea Race at the Royal Malta Yacht Club to take Monohull Line Honours at 02:18:26 CET on Tuesday 25th October in an elapsed time of 02 days 14 hours 03 minutes 26 seconds. George David and the Rambler 88 crew were welcomed to the club by Godwin Zammit, Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club.

George David’s American Maxi, Rambler 88, has taken Line Honours in the Rolex Middle Sea Race for the second year in succession. The light winds of the first 24 hours meant that the Monohull and, indeed, outright, race record of 1 day 23 hours 55 minutes and 3 seconds, set by George David in 2007, in a previous Rambler, remains intact for another year.

It was a tough race for the Rambler 88 crew, mentally rather than physically. There were several transition zones in the wind to be outwitted in order to secure the lead. And, the quality and depth of the international fleet was such that Rambler 88 could never afford to relax during the race. The Danish Volvo 70, Trifork, helmed by Bouwe Bekking was the main protagonist, nipping at the heels of Rambler 88 and, at one stage, briefly taking pole position. The Rambler 88 crew re-acted well to the pressure, never panicking, staying focused and eventually pulling away in the second half of the race to beat her closest rival by five hours.

There is all to play for in the Rolex Middle Sea Race. When Trifork crossed the finish line, she overtook Rambler in the overall corrected time standings, setting the current bar for the remaining yachts racing to beat. The best yacht under IRC time correction will be awarded the Rolex Middle Sea Trophy and a coveted Rolex timepiece.

About the race: “The story of the race was that we had a couple of big shut downs in the breeze,” commented George David, once ashore in Malta. “The first was near Messina before the strait and the second one was right around Stromboli. Each time the breeze just shut down and the fleet behind sailed into us. We were all parked together and had to restart. And we restarted at least twice.

I would say this race was more frustrating than our previous ones. I’ve rarely seen compression as we had it those two times east of Messina and off Stromboli. I’m pretty confident the eventual results will show that we won the race clearly from Palermo to Malta and that we lost the race clearly from Malta to Palermo. It was effectively two races.

On the race generally: “The Rolex Middle Sea Race is always fun. This is the most beautiful racecourse in the world and that is a fact. The islands on a clear day are spectacular and Stromboli always erupts a little bit. We keep coming back because of the beauty of Malta, the hospitality of the people, the scenic views on the racecourse, and the wind which can be great and which can be frustrating.

About the crew: “This crew has been together a long time and they have been through some tough times. A half dozen were with me in 2007 in this race, and maybe seven were with us in Ireland (in the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race) when the 100 foot boat went upside down. So it is a very steady group, it is a quiet group, nobody raises his voice at all. We work well together and there is a lot of camaraderie and teamwork. It is part of the joy of sailing to have a good group to do it with.

When conditions are like they were in this race, we have two helmsmen in particular who seem to like it when the boat is going 0.00. I don’t like it. Typically, I go away somewhere, it’s not for me! When I saw Trifork come up to us in Stromboli I was a little concerned. Nobody ever gets angry or upset, but you do wonder how it can happen.

About why he enjoys sailing: “It is a fun, challenging sport partly because of the element of luck. You can do all the preparation you want, all the strategy, planning, organisation, preparation, teamwork, training, design, materials, building … everything you can name but sometimes there is an element of luck. I don’t mind it. It is part of the game.

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