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2024 Rolex Middle Sea Race open for entries

by Royal Malta Yacht Club 1 Mar 05:39 PST 19 October 2024
Rolex Middle Sea Race © Kurt Arrigo / Rolex

The Royal Malta Yacht Club is pleased to announce that the Notice of Race for the 2024 Rolex Middle Sea Race has been published today and the online race management system is ready to accept entry applications.

The 45th edition of the 606 nautical mile offshore classic starts on Saturday, 19 October. The Notice of Race and official notice board may be found here.

Often described as the most beautiful of the 600 mile races, the Rolex Middle Sea Race is equally a true sailor's race and a complete test of sailing prowess and navigational skill. The circular course starts and finishes in Malta, and includes a near-circumnavigation of Sicily. Active volcanoes, narrow channels and a myriad of islands make up a large part of the race's character; so, too, do lengthy open water passages where the sea and wind can vary between the benign and tempestuous, frequently in the same race and, on occasion, during the same day.

According to David Cremona Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club "The Rolex Middle Sea Race is more than just a competition; it is a testament to the human spirit's unyielding quest for adventure, an enduring love of the sea and the opportunity to test one's mettle against the elements."

The race regularly attracts fleets of over 100 yachts from all parts of the globe with close to 30 countries represented by the participating yachts and even more by their crew members. While last year's race was won overall under IRC Time Correction by the 93ft Wally Bullitt, the Italian maxi's second successive participation, over the past 10 years the spectacular Rolex Middle Sea Race trophy has been secured by yachts of 35 ft (Bogatyr 2017), 40 ft (Artie, Malta 2014, Courrier Recommandé, France 2018), 45ft (Elusive II, Malta 2019, 2020), 50 ft (B2, Italy 2015, Mascalzone Latino, Italy 2016) and 55ft (Teasing Machine, France 2022). And, lest one forget, Bullitt only just squeaked a maiden victory by mere 24 seconds from the 33ft double-hander Red Ruby, from the United States.

President of Malta George Vella, had this to say at last year's prize-giving, held in the incomparable setting of the Mediterranean Conference Centre situated in the former Sacra Infermeria, built in the 16th century by the Knights of St John: "The Rolex Middle Sea Race brings to Malta the best sea-faring talent from across the of the features that stands out to me, as the most noteworthy attribute of this event, is its strong multicultural dimension...with entries from as far afield as the United States and Australia. It is satisfying to see so many nationalities gathered here, with diverse backgrounds and languages, sharing a common objective, and a common passion for the same sport."

Christina and Justin Wolfe, the wife and husband team aboard Red Ruby, also pointed to appeal of the race shortly after stepping ashore at the finish: "The Rolex Middle Sea Race was on our bucket list. It is like nothing we have ever done before and has certainly lived up to the hype and surpassed our hope. The challenge of the race and the beauty of the race is definitely unique. It is not like just going out and sailing a race, it has its own aspects that are appealing, and it has to be one of the best in the world."

The Rolex Middle Sea Race is open to both monohulls and multihulls, attracting a mix of both professional and amateur crews, fully-crewed or double-handed, small and large yachts, all out racers, dual-purpose or cruisers. The main monohull prizes are for yachts rated under IRC, but there is also an ORC division and eligible yachts can enter both categories. Multihulls competing for handicap prizes race under MOCRA. One design classes such as Class40s are also welcome. The International Maxi Association counts the Rolex Middle Sea Race as part of its Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Championship and Maxi Multihull Challenge, while Nautor Swan includes the course as part of its Maxi Series. Furthermore, the race forms part of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's (RORC) Season Points Championship, the world's largest offshore racing series.

The collaboration with the RORC extends beyond inclusion with the championship, with the British club's Racing Manager Steve Cole providing valuable support to the RMYC's Race Management Team, of Martin Azzopardi and Luca Lacitignola, along with Chris Jackson and Kristen Lloyd. Herman "Mufti" Kling will once again be leading the International Jury, the majority of whom will be working remotely as part of an effort to improve the event's environmental footprint.

Sustainability will be high on the agenda with BICREF Trophy once again being awarded to the crew lodging the best photographic or video evidence of a dolphin or whale sighting during the race. Founded in 1996, the Biological Conservation Research Foundation's mission is to study and raise awareness of endangered species and their habitats in the Central and Southern Mediterranean Region. Competitor imagery from the course helps with the accumulation of valuable scientific data about vulnerable cetacean species, such as dolphins, and the sea life that sustains them.

The RMYC is also working for a second year with Zibel, a Maltese non-profit organisation founded to create awareness and inspire action to protect the seas around Malta. Last year's engagement involved a clean-up operation in Grand Harbour ahead of the start and around the club pontoons once the fleet was at sea. This year's activation will seek to tackle resources and waste within both the race management operation and the wider fleet, showcasing realistic sustainable practices for crews and the RMYC team, as well as introducing effective waste sorting stations and a recycling hub to help with the disposal of rubbish and unwanted kit/equipment before and after the race. Zibel team members will be on hand throughout to help crews with this increasingly important aspect of running events.

Beyond the considerable support and partnership of Rolex, title sponsor since 2002, the RMYC also benefits from the commitment of Yachting Malta, sponsor of the annual coastal race which precedes the main event and is this year scheduled for Wednesday, 17 October. Yachting Malta is a public private partnership between the Government of Malta and the RMYC, tasked with identifying and attracting high profile yachting events to the Maltese Islands, as well as enhancing the quality and growth of already established events, and fostering activities with an emphasis on the young. Two other government bodies are also instrumental in the successful organisation of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, which was first held in 1968: Transport Malta, responsible for safe operation of Grand Harbour among other aspects of Malta's transport infrastructure and the Malta Tourism Authority, charged with advancing the Maltese tourism sector and activities that attract visitors to the archipelago.

Following positive feedback among crews, the 2024 Rolex Middle Sea Race continues with the online management system - based on the Nautical Cloud solution, which enables sailors to enter races, manage crew, process payments and administer certification checklists with a seamless user experience. Crews which entered last year's race will be able to access their previous entry application to speed up the process and any crew that has entered a RORC race since the 2023 Rolex Fastnet Race will be familiar with the system.

The 45th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on Saturday, 19 October 2024.

Register here

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