Rolex Middle Sea Race. After a day of 'champagne sailing' in the words of Georges Bonello DuPuis, skipper of Escape (MLT), the night was a totally different story.
The leading yachts - Moneypenny (USA), Rosebud/Team DYT (USA) and Alegre (GBR) reached Capo Passero around 1830 last night, having averaged 10 knots from the start. From there progress became painfully slow, with the wind dropping to around five knots and shutting out completely according to Adrian Lee, skipper of Lee Overlay Partners (GBR), who enjoyed the moonlit night but not the wind hole he and crew found themselves in at one point.
According to the tracker, Roger Sturgeon and Rosebud are leading and are still moving - just - at about 4 knots in a roughly northward direction. Jim Swartz's Monneypenny, with Gavin Brady and Francesco de Angelis in the hot seats, has been becalmed next to Andre Soriano and Alegre since 0800 CET. The smaller RAN (GBR) of Niklas Zennstrom took a more offshore course during the night and has made steady, if not rapid progress up towards the Strait of Messina and lies only 4.5 nautical miles behind the leader.
First Maltese boat appears to be Jonas Diamentino's Gasan Mamo Comanche Raider II, who lies 17 nm behind the leaders, but towards the front of the main pack, which features AA (CRO), Steinlager II (NZL) Rapture (MAR), Bella Donna (ITA), Lurigna (SUI) and headstart.at (AUT).
Three yachts have yet to pass Capo Passero - Zizanie (ITA), Geisha (CRO) and Cordelia (AUS).
So far only one of the seventy-seven yachts has retired and one has to feel very sad for Rachel Meidan and her crew on Wizsoft (ISR), which suffered irreparable mainsail damage last night. A disappointing end, after their mammoth effort to get to the start.
For more information about the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2008 including the entry list, position reports and results please visit www.rolexmiddlesearace.com