Record Start – Saturday 18th October


Thousands of spectators lined the Valletta Waterfront to witness the start of the 35th Rolex Middle Sea Race. 


122 yachts started the race, a new record for the Mediterranean classic offshore race. Under blue skies and brilliant sunshine, the international fleet of yachts from 24 different countries set off on the 608 nautical mile race. The light winds created a calm almost serene start but this race is always full of changes and a variety of conditions are forecast over the coming days.


Jamie Sammut racing his Maltese Solaris 42,Unica summed up the passion just after the start. “We were very nervous, this is such a huge occasion, the size of the fleet was just amazing and we were filled with pride that Malta is hosting such a great yacht race. The emotions definitely affected us and we didn’t get a good start but we settled down and got into our rhythm. Just after we left Grand Harbour, we were joined by a big pod of dolphins and I am sure it will not be the last time that our friends will join us in this race. After all our preparations, it is a relief to get going on what I am sure will be a great adventure.”


Due to the size of the fleet the race was split into five starts and Transport Malta closed Grand Harbour to all traffic for the race. The fleet enjoyed centre stage applauded by a lively crowd, which lined the 16th century bastions synonymous with the walled city of Valletta. 





28 yachts racing in IRC 5 had the honour of starting first. The light southerly breeze provided a slow start with several yachts choosing to hoist spinnakers in the narrow confines of the harbour. Four yachts got away to a great start, Harry Heijst’s Dutch S&S 41,Winsome and Enrico Calvi’s Italian Dufour 34, Duffy got away to a flyer on the western end of the line and in clear air managed to get clear ahead of the fleet. Peppe Fornich’s Grand Soleil 37, Sagola Biotrading also started well towards the middle of the line, as did David Latham’s British Pronavia 38, Seawolf ACR 2X.



33 yachts racing in IRC 4 formed the largest start of the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Two highly successful Maltese yachts started well, Lee Satariano’s J/122, Artie judged the line to perfection to lead from the start. Aaron Gatt Floridia’s J/122, Otra Vez was not far behind and chose to make for the bastions forming the Lower Barraka Gardens, Otra Vez found an extra puff of wind to challenge their Maltese rivals. Thousands of well-wishers watching from the Lower Barraka cheered as the two local yachts duelled at the start. Kay Johannes Wrede’s German Swan 441, Best Buddies also got away to a great start as did Dermot Cronin & Bernard McGranaghan’s Irish First 40.7, Encore.



Of the 25 yachts racing in IRC 3, Josef Schultheis and Timmy Camilleri’s, XP 44, XP-ACT Banks Sails started well in the middle of the line but stalled for speed, having been caught in the wind shadow of Riccardo Pavoncelli’s powerful Italian Swan 651, Gaetana. It was arguably the most competitive start of the day, with a large number of yachts starting as the 12 Pounder at the Saluting Battery blasted at the start. Jamie McGarry & Colin Moore’s Swan 45, Ealea of Rhu and Bastiaan de Voogd’s Sydney 43,  Coin Coin prevailed to lead the class out of Grand Harbour. Eric De Turckheim’s A13, Teasing Machine also started well, hugging the Valletta shoreline, to emerge just behind the leaders on the water.



26 yachts racing in IRC 2 formed the penultimate start, with the majority of the yachts now downwind of the start line, the air was less disturbed and although the southerly breeze was very shifty, signs of more significant breeze could be seen on the water. German Swan 82, Grey Goose, has Mike Broughton on board, taking part in his 8th race. The British navigator called the media team shortly after the start. “We spotted some extra wind on the Valletta side of the harbour and got away in clear air, so we were very happy with our start. However, we had a close encounter with Mascalzone Latino as we were leaving Grand Harbour and not wanting to risk a penalty at the start of the race, we accepted the penalty and performed two turns, Grey Goose is making great progress now, under Code Zero, heading for the Sicilian Coast. 


Last year’s overall winner Italian TP52, B2, skippered by Michele Galli with Francesco de Angelis as tactician, led the class out of the harbour, closely followed by Jens Kellinghusen’s German Ker 51, Varuna.



The ten fastest yachts taking part produced an impressive closing set for the start of the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Igor Simcic’s Maxi, Esimit Europa 2, with Jochen Schuemann at the helm was a magnificent sight. However, Niklas Zennstrom’s Maxi 72, Ran V got away to the best start and led the big boat class out of the harbour, just in front of Esimit Europa 2. 


The international fleet of yachts is making good progress towards the southwest corner of Sicily, preparing for a fascinating and very tactical first night of racing. Esimit Europa 2 is leading the fleet on the water and is expected to pass Mount Etna before sunset. 

At 1530 CET on Day One, after time correction under IRC, the leaders were as follows:


IRC 1 – Shockwave (USA)

IRC 2 – B2 (ITA)

IRC 3 – Teasing Machine (FRA)

IRC 4 – Otra Vez (MLT)

IRC 5 – Amapola (ITA)

Double Handed – Muca Maca Tamar Racing (SLO)

Class 40 – Fulcrum II (CZE)

Michael Drettmann’s German X 119


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