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Malta, sailing paradise, island of contrasts

by Marina Kienitz Wyss/Sail-World Cruising on 25 Oct 2011
Stromboli - Rolex Middle Sea Race 2011 © Rolex/ Kurt Arrigo http://www.regattanews.com
The stunning Republic of Malta really is a place unlike any other,yet oddly like many sailing-mad places one may have seen before. And why would they not be sailing-mad in Malta? Made mostly of rocks, but surrounded by the Mediterranean, it's not a surprise that it plays host in October to one of the Mediterranean’s premiere offshore sailing events – the Rolex Middle Sea Race...but it's not all about racing. As a cruising sailor it's a delight...and when you get there it's a treasure trove of history and beauty.


Malta is an island of contrasts. Visitors frequently ask: where is this place - Europe or Africa? The Middle East or the Mediterranean? Perhaps none of the above and yet a combination of them all?


The island’s strategic yet vulnerable location has left it open to attack and domination by various kingdoms throughout its existence. The influences of every single one of these cultures can be seen and felt all over the islands. One cannot even attempt to classify the culture, the architecture or even the cuisine without taking Malta’s rich history into account.


As for sailing, even if you have no interest in racing, there are plenty of places to sail, where the racers are found as well - the Strait of Messina, leading north to the rugged and often desolate UNESCO-protected Aeolian Islands and the active volcano of Stromboli, then west to the Egadi Islands and then turn towards the island most recently famous for its massive influx of refugees, the island of Lampedusa.

In fact when you are sailing these waters, racing or cruising, you sail past several of the most important historical sites in the world, including areas of Homerian and ancient Greek mythology, through the Roman Empire, the Byzantine era, the rise of Islam, the Crusades, the Kings of Spain, the Napoleonic Wars and all the way through to the Second World War.


The country’s roots date back some 7,000 years and Malta is home to historical sites and monuments known throughout the world. While it may be the smallest country in the European Union today in both size and population, Malta is renowned for its beauty, its bravery, and its powerful ability to resist in the face of challenge.



About the Rolex Middle Sea Race:
From 22-29 October, the stunning island of Malta hosts one of the Mediterranean’s premiere offshore sailing events – the Rolex Middle Sea Race. The 606-nautical mile challenge is almost unique for a race of its kind as it begins and ends in the same place: the island’s capital of Valletta. This prestigious sailing event, which was founded back in 1968, showcases one of Europe’s most historical and beautiful islands and takes crews on a unique journey through time.

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