by Louay Habib
There is a near record entry of yachts, from all over the globe, expected on the start line of the Rolex Middle Sea Race. In 2006, 78 yachts entered the race and this year that number may well be surpassed. With under a month to go to the start, the organising team at the Royal Malta Yacht Club is making final preparations for the arrival of several hundred visitors. Many of the competing yachts have already arrived and are safely sheltered in Ta'Xbiex Marina and many more will be arriving over the next few weeks.
Malta - Rolex Middle Sea Race 2011
Last year, Lee Satariano's all Maltese team, racing J/122 Artie, pulled off a stunning victory to win the race overall and Satariano is relishing this year's race:
'The crew of Artie-RTFX are all up for it again this year and hope to push the boat to the limit. We have a great team on board who have been sailing together for the past few years. It's Arties third Rolex Middle Sea Race and we hope to make it third time lucky! The race can hold many twists and turns right from the straits of Messina, the wind shadow round Stromboli and the different elements around the course, all of this and many more make it a spectacular and exciting race every year. We have the boat and the crew to make it possible to win again, so we'll be up there once again giving it our best shot. If you are coming to compete for the first time, I can tell you that the atmosphere at the Royal Malta Yacht is just so special, the whole set up is just marvellous, great credit must go to the committee and staff for all the hard work from months before and right through the race.'
Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy's Swan 56, Noonmark VI will be competing in the Rolex Middle Sea Race for the first time. Racing skipper, Mike Gilbert explains why the well-campaigned Swan has decided to make its debut:
'Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy has always talked about wanting to compete in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, and this year the yacht's programme has allowed her to do so. Noonmark has competed in many of the major offshore race around the world including the Fastnet, Sydney Hobart, Round Britain, Round Ireland, ARC, Caribbean 600 and Newport Bermuda, winning the Gibbs Hill Trophy in 2010. So participating in this race will be a great addition to her racing history.
The course is extremely interesting and challenging as are the likely weather conditions. For the navigator there is plenty to work on but also many challenges the crew, maybe more so than some of the other classic offshore races. On top of all that, there is the spectacular and varied scenery that the race provides all around the course. Noonmark arrived in Malta two weeks ago and met the organisers in their very welcoming and impressive clubhouse, we feel confident that we shall have a great race and be looked after very well. The only thing we ask for is wind, as racing a 20 ton Swan in light airs is always a challenge but having said that no too much wind!'
Grande Soleil 43, Trustmarque Quokka left England on the 21st September to sail to Malta. Philippe Falle's Deep Blue Racing Team will be taking part in the Rolex Middle Sea Race for the first time. However it has been an eventful trip for the yacht, skippered by its owner Peter Rutter. Quokka broke its rudder in rough conditions in the Bay of Biscay. After putting together a rudder and tiller made from internal doors, pipe cots and the vang. Quokka sailed un-assisted into La Trinite after nearly five days since the incident 200 miles off the coast of France. The yacht now has a conventional replacement and the team are determined to make up the lost time to arrive in Malta in time for the race.
'We wish all of the Quokka crew safe passage to Malta to take part in the Rolex Middle Sea Race.' Commented Godwin Zammit, Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. 'Over the next few weeks, yachts from all over the world will be arriving at the Royal Malta Yacht Club and a warm Maltese welcome awaits them all.'
Rolex Middle Sea Race website