The overall winner of the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2008 was determined at 20.49CET Thursday evening when, Ricomincio da tre (ITA), the last remaining boat on the course with a prospect of winning, failed to cross the finish line.
Thierry Bouchard and Spirit of Ad Hoc (FRA) were duly declared the victors.
Living up to the name of the boat, Bouchard and his crew had adapted best to the ever-changing conditions, improvising as necessary to keep moving forward whatever the weather threw at them.
And, whilst this is the first time since 2002 that a yacht under fifty-foot has won the race, it goes to show that given the opportunity, and by that read wind, this is a race that any yacht has a chance to win.
Bouchard though is no ordinary sailor. He competed in the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre in 2007, finishing 10th in the Class 40 division. In 2008 he competed in the single-handed Transat from Plymouth to Boston finishing 3rd in the Class 40. Teammate and navigator, Oliver Krauss, did the return race from Québec to Saint-Malo finishing second, and, according to Bouchard, all the seven-man crew on the Beneteau 40.7 have considerable offshore experience.
'This was the first time any of us have done the Rolex Middle Sea Race and, to be honest, we are more used to ocean racing so we did not know what to expect. We knew we could do well, but not this well,' said Bouchard after having time to reflect on his achievement. 'I had wanted to do the race for a long time. When I decided to do it this year I asked my friends what they thought and they all said immediately that they would come. So I had no trouble finding crew.'
At the prize giving tomorrow, Thierry Bouchard and the crew of Spirit of Ad Hoc will be awarded the Rolex Middle Sea Race trophy and a Rolex Yacht Master timepiece in Rolesium for their unflinching efforts. Bouchard has also won the dual-scored ORC Club Division.
Other winners are Anthony Camilleri & Kevin Gauci Maistre and Bavaria Flyer 2 (MLT) in the battle of the double-handers; Hans Nagel and High Q1 (GER) took the laurels in the Multihull Class, just reward for completing the storm-ridden course last year and having the strength of character to have another crack.
The cut-off time for finishing is 0800 CET Saturday 25th October. At 1800 CET, today, four boats have yet to finish: Obelix (ITA), which should be next home, Monomatapa (ITA), Squibs (GBR) and Seawolf of Southampton (GBR). Sixteen yachts retired out of the seventy-seven boat fleet that started the race.
The final prize giving will be held tomorrow, Saturday 25 October, at noon.