Rolex Middle Sea Race leader Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) is expected to cross the finish line in Malta shortly after midnight having established an insurmountable lead. Esimit has passed the island of Lampedusa, the most southerly point of the 606-nm course and is some 70-nm from the finish line in Malta. A third straight line honours triumph beckons for Igor Simcic’s 30.48m/100-ft Maxi.
Fleet slowly progressing in the 2012 Rolex Middle Sea Race.
Rán II (GBR), Med Spirit (RUS) and Stig (ITA) are engaged in their own duel to finish second on the water having kept each other company throughout the race. This pack is currently travelling between Pantelleria and Lampedusa at a consistent ten knots.
While five of the record-breaking 83-international entrants have retired from the race, the majority of the fleet are negotiating the tactically arduous passage across the northern coast of Sicily and approaching the stronger northwesterly breeze running down the west of the island. Welcome news for boats such as the 12.9m/40-ft Kuka- Light (SUI). 'We’ve had a very slow 24 hours like a lot of the boats around us and the conditions are variable,' explained skipper Mitch Booth.
'We are getting quite close to the (northwest) tip of Sicily and enjoying some close racing. Conditions are quite frustrating. We are looking forward to a downwind stretch after a lot of light, upwind.' Despite the frustrations caused by light winds, the crew have enjoyed the challenge: 'The race is very scenic, we’ve seen a lot of wildlife and volcano action, as well a lot of other boats which is not always the case during an offshore race.'
The Maltese J/133 Oiltanking Juno currently lies at the back of the fleet and reported: 'It’s been a tough last 24 hours but we’ve passed Stromboli and are now heading to Favignana. We’ve been through about a hundred sail changes and are trying to catch up. We just need more wind!'
The battle to be overall race winner is still wide open. Current estimates indicate that Niklas Zennstrom’s 21.94m/72-ft Mini Maxi Rán II holds the advantage on handicap although a clearer idea will emerge once the bulk of the fleet heads into stronger airs after Trapani.
Crew of RÁN 2 (GBR) sitting on the rail - 2012 Rolex Middle Sea Race
The crew of MED SPIRIT (RUS) working onboard - 2012 Rolex Middle Sea Race
Crew work onboard ESIMIT EUROPA 2 (SLO) - 2012 Rolex Middle Sea Race
Rolex Middle Sea Race website