Over 40 boats started the Rolex Middle Sea Coastal Race today to stretch their “sea legs” ahead of the official race start on Saturday. With a northerly breeze, the Race Committee sent the fleet on the “Round Comino” course, heading out of Marsamxett Harbour under spinnaker, to a port rounding mark before turning north.
In the blue division, IRC Class 1 with TCC greater than 1.400, first off the rank at 1000 hours UTC+2 local time, it was Rob Craigie’s Sun Fast 3600 Bellino who was quick off the mark, one of the hot contenders to take out the overall Royal Ocean Racing Club season overall. They continued to lead on line honours up until the last start got away.
In the yellow division, IRC Class 2 with TCC 1.276 to 1.400, Blur the J/111 owned by Peter Gustafsson started on starboard gybe and went right to the leeward shore to come in hot from to leeward on port. Great start from the team who arrived in the most part just last night. Was also great to see Mark Stevens’ Hinckley 51 Kiva on the start line, all the way from the USA off to a great start for the more traditional designs.
In the white division, IRC Class 3, TCC 1.176 to 1.275, it was all on with two of Malta’s finest entries; Xpresso, Sean Borg’s XP44 started to windward of Elusive 2 the Podesta’s First 45 to take the best start and lead to the turning mark.
To date, Malta has still taken more overall wins in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, and it was great to hear Godwin Zammit, Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club at the official opening yesterday comment on a potential Maltese winner for this year.
“I certainly won’t be predicting the winner” he said. “We have some very competitive boats taking part from Malta this year and we wish them all the best. I am sure they will give everybody a good run for their money”.
After a small postponement for the Coastal Race start, the orange fleet, IRC Class 4 TCC 1.101 to 1.175, got underway with the most exciting action of the day. Frogfoot, Sergey Bryuzga’s Kerr40 sailed down the line on starboard at Comanche Raider III the Farr 45, and The Kid JP54 on port, when a ferry managed to sail straight through the start line. A late gybe from starboard to port to windward of the fleet and the ferry meant that Frogfoot were away cleanly to lead over the bigger boats around the bottom mark.
In the bigger boat divisions, pink and purple, IRC Class 5 & 6, TCC 1.051 to 1.100 and less than 1.051, we only saw three boats take to the start line; Anafesto TP52, Pendragon Davidson 69 and Telefonica Black Volvo 70.
The results for the coastal race will be announced at the Rolex Middle Sea Race Owner’s Reception and Coastal Race Prize Giving at the Verdala Place this evening where I will hopefully touch base with a few of the teams.
Live action from on board Wizard, the Volvo 70 tomorrow, and plenty more interviews to come ahead of the official race start for 115 yachts in the 40th Edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race on Saturday.