Please select your home edition
Edition
Auckland On Water Boat Show

Rolex Middle Sea Race - Persistence pays off

by KPMS on 30 Oct 2013
LIBERA (ITA) and EOS (GBR) sailing towards the sunset © Rolex/ Kurt Arrigo http://www.regattanews.com
The Rolex Middle Sea Race, as always began in style. A spectacular start sequence, set against Valletta’s sun-kissed limestone bastions and animated by the firing of cannons from the grandiose Saluting Battery, opened the 34th edition.

For the second year running the sizeable watching public witnessed a record-breaking fleet depart from Malta ahead of a 606-nm anticlockwise loop around Sicily. 99 yachts from 19 countries easily surpassed the figure of 82 entrants from 2012. A remarkable ascendancy for the event organized by the Royal Malta Yacht Club and sponsored by Rolex since 2002. The reasons for its continued popularity are clear: a breathtaking race course, tactically challenging and scenic in equal measure, close competition throughout the fleet and, above all, the indomitable spirit of sportsmanship and camaraderie.

The 2013 race was characterized by light conditions, demanding patience and perseverance in the quest for small positional gains. The Kristina Plattner-skippered Maxi Morning Glory from Germany claimed line honours as the race’s fastest boat while the Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy for overall winner was awarded to B2 from Italy.

Michele Galli’s TP52 B2 ended an eight-year hiatus since the last Italian victory at the Rolex Middle Sea Race. On that occasion, Carlo Puri Negri’s Farr 70 Atalanta II scooped both of the race’s main prizes.

B2 arrived in Malta with winning intentions as Spanish navigator Nacho Postigo confirmed shortly before the race. 'This is a boat which has a good chance as it performs well in both light and strong winds.' Almost exactly three days after the start, B2 was the eighth boat to complete the race. An impressive feat that saw her top the leaderboard on corrected time. Immersed in rapidly fading conditions, the chasing fleet would find it impossible to surpass the B2 benchmark.

The TP52 is a stripped-down racing boat, not designed for comfort rather constructed for maximum performance. It is a model that regularly performs well in the fickle world of offshore racing. Both Franck Noel’s Near Miss from Switzerland, winner of the 2012 the Giraglia Rolex Cup, and American Brian Ehrhart’s Lucky, Rolex Middle Sea Race winner in 2010, are TP52s.


B2’s success was one of persistence, teamwork and creative thinking in the face of adversary. On the second night the crew lost their onboard electronics, probably due to flooding. 'We tried everything to reboot the system, but it simply didn’t work, all the displays went black,' explained Postigo. The solution relied on the height of modern cellular technology: one smart phone with a compass app strapped to wheel pedestal to maintain course and another phone loaded with digital cartography to plot position.

Technology may have provided a stopgap solution to the navigation, but in the absence of key instruments, the Italian-Spanish crew was forced to rely inherent nautical instincts and traditional methods to get the best from the yacht. 'We ended up racing B2 like a dinghy and Francesco (de Angelis) had to call strategy almost completely blind – I don’t think he had more than two hours sleep!,' confirmed Postigo.

Expertly guided by de Angelis, B2 was able to avoid many of the traps the chasing fleet fell into. 'It was a difficult race, the first time this team has done a race this long together. To arrive ahead of almost 100 boats is a great achievement,' explained de Angelis, no stranger to the course. Sailing an all out racing boat like a TP52 is not necessarily the most relaxing way to experience the Rolex Middle Sea Race. 'We are very tired!,' he continued, 'comfort is not really associated with a TP52 and we experienced everything: light, medium and some strong wind. Technically and physically it was a very challenging race. The key was not losing ground in the difficult moments or becoming blocked during periods of light air.'


Morning Glory returned to the Rolex Middle Sea Race for the first time since winning the competition in 2006. Derailed by a last minute technical hitch the 100-ft Maxi Esimit Europa 2, line honours winner during the last three editions, was unable to defend her title and consequently the chase for line honours was more open than in recent years. Morning Glory and the two competing 72-foot Mini Maxis Alegre (GBR) and Robertissima (ITA) began as favourites.

Morning Glory, Hasso Plattner’s 86-ft Maxi, skippered for the first time by his daughter Kristina, led from the start and was able to gain a march on her nearest rivals through the Messina Strait and the approach to Stromboli. While the race record of 47 hours, 55 minutes and three seconds was never under serious threat, her position at the front of the fleet was comfortable. 'There were a few light patches in the north of Sicily after Stromboli. We got in the lee of the island and ended up with a lot of light running so it wasn’t conducive to getting the record. However, we never felt threatened by the boats behind us,' explained navigator Andrew Cape.

Fellow afterguard member Chris Nicholson agreed: 'The conditions were lighter than predicted but that didn't surprise anyone. This is a very changeable racecourse, which definitely keeps you concentrated. Weather forecast and routing software are not that useful, you have to see what is happening around you and react.'

Despite not being able to race the boat to anywhere near its full speed potential, most evident during the painful crawl to the finish line after just over two days and 16 hours at sea, the crew enjoyed their success. 'The victory means a lot,' explained Kristina Plattner. 'It is the first time my father has not been on the boat when I am here. I was quite scared beforehand to do this without him but I’ve known some of these guys for years and they looked after me really well. It’s been pretty awesome!'

Despite the difficulties encountered during the long week at sea, the vast or mainly Corinthian fleet revelled in the competition, its challenges and warm welcome on arrival back in Malta.

Massimo Juris and Pietro Luciani’s First 40.7 Blucolombre (ITA) won the increasingly popular and keenly contested double-handed class, where resources are stretched to the limit. 'I originally entered the boat with a regular crew and then I saw there was already a lot of double-handed boats so I switched my preference,' explained Juris.

When pressed for his reasons for sailing double-handed, Juris admitted: 'Sailing with just two people, there is more room on board. For an owner to manage a crew it’s always a big ask. In long races with a lot of people it can be uncomfortable.' On the other hand, sailing double-handed the hours are longer and responsibility greater. 'You have to be available at all times,' continued Juris, 'the watch shifts are very important, you have to manoeuvre continually as if you had a full crew. The legs are relatively short so you can’t put things off. We are always having to bang on the boat to suddenly wake the other one up!'

Racing fully-crewed and as a local sailor Edward Gatt Floridia, Maltese skipper of J/122 Otra Vez, could draw on greater Rolex Middle Sea Race experience. 'Racing in light airs is very tiring, to keep the boat moving requires the whole crew to concentrate, even the off-watch have to wake up and move their weight to the correct side of the boat. The weather suited the bigger yachts this year.' The rare statistic of just one retirement demonstrates just how well prepared the largely amateur fleet was and their determination to finish the course, in spite of what the elements dictated.

With the race over for another year, the Royal Malta Yacht Club is already looking to the future and is confident that the race will break the symbolic hundred entrant level next year. 'The club speaks with many sailors and yacht clubs in the Mediterranean, word of mouth from sailors who have enjoyed the race helps. We have seen a big increase in the medium to smaller boats and amateur crews. Hopefully it will grow even more,' explained Commodore Godwin Zammit.

The 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on Saturday 18 October, Rolex Middle Sea Race

North Technology - Southern SparsBakewell-White Yacht DesignZhik ZKG 660x82

Related Articles

PA Consulting and Allen RS Feva Worlds 2016 – Day 2
Heavy metal day. Gold, Silver or Bronze. It was going to going to be tight at the cut off points. Heavy metal day. Gold, Silver or Bronze. It was going to going to be tight at the cut off points. A number of boats went into the day in much lower positions than expected for a variety of reasons. Could they make it up?
Posted today at 7:34 am
52 Super Series – Puerto Portals Sailing Week – Azzurra strikes back
Azzurra delivered their best day of the season so far on the Bay of Palma waters where they won the World Champion title The team of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda scored two second places from the pair of windward-leeward races which were sailed in relatively steady sea breeze conditions. Super sharp starting was the launch pad for race victories today. Prime position on the pin mark of the start line at the gun was key to the wins of Bronenosec and Provezza.
Posted on 26 Jul
New French leader on Day 3 of Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup
Breakfast time today saw some furious adding up to resolve the winning team in the high scoring offshore race Initially France Blue, overall leaders after day one, looked strong with their two big boats, Eric de Turkheim's A13, Teasing Machine, and the Prietz family's JND 39, GOA, in front. As boats started finishing the Flanders North Sea team edged ahead.
Posted on 26 Jul
Tour de France à la Voile – Last days in the Med
With their 55 point lead, Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon are in a good position to take their team to victory. Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne and Grandeur Nature Vérandas are only two points apart on the leaderboard and in fourth position, Team Coved is only eight points behind and Aurélien Ducroz and his crew are in top form after scoring a third yesterday in Act seven standing racing.
Posted on 26 Jul
52 Super Series – Puerto Portals Sailing Week – Races 3 and 4 images
Photographer Max Ranchi has provided this gallery of images from races three and four Photographer Max Ranchi has provided this gallery of images from races three and four
Posted on 26 Jul
Gstaad Yacht Club's Racing Team trio for Rio 2016
Pre-Olympic Brunch at the GYC clubhouse – members, guests and friends gave a Brazilian farewell to the GYC Racing Team. The Gstaad Yacht Clubs sport members are: the Nacra 17 team with Matías Bühler and Nathalie Brugger who qualified for Switzerland, the 470 sailor Will Ryan, who starts with his helmsman Matthew Belcher for Australia and Billy Besson, who starts in the Nacra 17 class too, together with his crew Marie Riou for France.
Posted on 26 Jul
J/111 Garmin World Championship less than a week away
Championship is less than a week away, fourteen teams from seven different countries will be taking part. Forming a truly international fleet, the teams come from Australia, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States of America. Racing on tight Solent courses the fleet will enjoy a five day racing programme and a lively social schedule, organised at the Island Sailing Club in the heart of Cowes.
Posted on 26 Jul
Reducing weight aloft with composite backstays
Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Every kilogram you take out of the rig is roughly equivalent to 4kg added to the bottom of your keel!
Posted on 26 Jul
America's Cup World Series - Ian Roman's Images from Portsmouth
Ian Roman was in Portsmouth for the America's Cup World Series and provided this first of two galleries from the event Top international photographer, Ian Roman was in Portsmouth for the America's Cup World Series and provided this first of two galleries of the racing across the three days of the regatta.
Posted on 26 Jul
Owners work together on new 52fter project to kick-start SoCal fleet
Manouch Moshayedi owner and skipper of the Bakewell-White 100 Rio100 is behind establishing a 52fter fleet in California The 52fters will be based on the latest design by Judel/Vrolijk. “There are some improvements over the boats in the SuperSeries in the Med that we have made specifically for California sailing, including taller masts, larger mains, larger jibs, larger spinnakers and lighter displacement,” explains Manouch Moshayedi.
Posted on 26 Jul