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J/111 wins ORC Class in Rolex Middle Sea Race

by J/Boats 27 Oct 04:49 PDT 19-26 October 2019
J/111 wins ORC Class in Rolex Middle Sea Race © Event Media

The 40th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, hosted by the Royal Malta Yacht Club, will go down in the history books as the tale of two races.

After the calm conditions for the first half the course, increasingly rough weather in the second half of the course posed enormous challenges for the fleet, with winds gusting to over 30 kts with steep, mountainous seas that looked more like walls to most sailors.

As described by one sailor, "the last 24 hours were hell. We were soaking wet with water coming in everywhere. No matter how good a sailor you are, in those conditions you were miserable and cold."

Another famous skipper, Gerry Trentesaux, explained, "the course conditions were the reverse of last year, with downwind to Messina and then upwind from Trapani to the finish. The race was more difficult, especially the second half. At Stromboli, we were about 2.5 hours behind our main competition. And, the J/111 Blur was also sailed really well too." Because of the severe wave conditions, over seventeen boats had officially retired from the race, nearly 20% of the fleet.

Weathering the extreme conditions were a crew of battle-hardened Vikings from Sweden, Peter Gustafsson's crew on the J/111 BLUR.SE. It was their first time sailing the Rolex Middle Sea Race and it is clear they were both well-prepared and well-trained for the conditions. It helps that Gustafsson's crew know the boat well, having raced BLUR.SE for over three years on the northern European J/111 and offshore circuit, often sailing in winds of up to 40 kts. They knew they were up to the challenge, but were surprised by the steepness of the breaking seas in just 20 to 30 kt winds.

In the end, their perseverance paid off, winning ORC 5 Class and taking third ORC Overall. On the IRC handicap side of the ledge, they scored third in IRC 5 Class and 10th IRC Overall. A great showing by an experienced offshore team.

More information at rolexmiddlesearace.com

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