The 29th Rolex Middle Sea Race is living up to its reputation of feast or famine. This year is definitely in the slow lane. Last night boats were streaming steadily through the Strait of Messina, setting off on the 95-mile leg to Stromboli.
At 0800 CET this morning, the bulk of the seventy-seven boat fleet had rounded Stromboli. Of the remainder, three yachts - Monomotapa (ITA), Squibs (GBR) and Oxygene (ITA) -are within ten-miles of the volcanic island. Two yachts - Cordelia (AUS) and Zizanie (ITA) - have yet to reach the Strait and two yachts have retired - Geisha (CRO) and Wizsoft(ISR).
The leading yachts are Rosebud (USA) and Alegre (GBR), locked together 30nm due north of Cefalu on the northern coast of Sicily. Slighter higher lies Moneypenny (USA) and RAN (GBR) has closed right up. Bad news for this leading group is that the fleet has compressed overnight, with only 60nm separating those that have rounded Stromboli.
At the Stromboli transit, the Class 4 yacht Spirit of Ad Hoc (FRA) leads overall on corrected time. El Cavaliere Nero (ITA) (Class 3) is in second and Three Sisters (Class 3) is in third. Bella Donna (ITA) is the frontrunner in Class 2 and whilst Whisper (IRL) leads Class 1, she lies in 37th overall - testament to the way the race is unfolding. Whilst Strait Dealer (MLT) is the first Maltese boat on the water, it is the venerable Lazy Duck (MLT) of John Ripard Jr leading on corrected time.
A more detailed report will be issued later.
For more information about the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2008 including the entry list, position reports and results please visit www.rolexmiddlesearace.com