The Malta Independent 15 November 2018, Thursday

Rolex Middle Sea Race: Triggers pulled... who has the golden bullet?

Tuesday, 23 October 2018, 11:58 Last update: about 22 days ago
Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo
Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

In the early hours of the fourth day of the 2018 Rolex Middle Sea Race, George David's American Maxi Rambler took an historic fourth straight Monohull Line Honours and, in doing so, set the bar to beat for the overall win under IRC. At 0800 CEST, 46 teams had passed Favignana, with remainder of the 130 fleet still racing expected to pass the northwest point of Sicily later today. The strong north-westerly wind arrived during the night for the boats already to the west of Sicily, providing a sleigh-ride south double digit boat speed.
 
Rambler arrived at 0207 CEST and is safely tied up in Grand Harbour. Some three hours earlier, Giovanni Soldini's Maserati Multi70 crossed the line at 2254 CEST to take Multihull Line Honours. Both were outside their category's respective race record times.
 
IRC One - At Lampedusa, the German Botin 65 Caro, skippered by Maximilian Klink, was leading Dieter Schön's German Maxi 72 Momo by just nine minutes after time correction. Baltic 115 Nikata was third. Momo would finish the race this morning to take pole position in the overall standings under IRC. The magnificent Baltic 115 Nikata, the largest yacht ever to participate in the Rolex Middle Sea Race has also completed the course, and currently lies in second place in the big boat class, with Rambler in third. Caro is expected to finish the race early this afternoon, and should go into the overall lead after time correction.
 
IRC Two - Sadly, two of the leading contenders suffered equipment damage last night and have officially retired from the race. Stefan Jentzsch's Black Pearl broke their rig while Eric de Turckheim's Teasing Machine lost their port runner and was close to a dismast. All crew are well and both yachts have taken shelter at Lampedusa before starting the long limp back to Malta
 
"Everyone is fine, but the rig is broken; the top half is gone," explained Black Pearl's navigator Marc Lagesse. "It is a shame because we were having a good race. To be honest, the conditions last night were mild by Rolex Middle Sea Race standards; 25 knots of wind with a decent sea running and very few squalls. We actually thought it was champagne sailing until fate intervened. We have spoken with Teasing Machine and we are putting a plan together to get back to Malta."
 
IRC Three - Dominique Tian's Tonnerre de Glen is the only yacht in this class to have passed Lampedusa by 1000 CEST. At the previous mark of the course, Pantelleria, Tonnerre de Glen was leading her class after IRC time correction by some 93 minutes from Vittorio Biscarini's Ars Una, with Puzin Frederic's Corum Daguet 2 lying in third. Tonnerre was also holding third place in the overall ranking.
 
IRC Four - Ten yachts have so far rounded Favignana. Riccardo Genghini's Austrian Swan 65 Lunz am Meer is comfortably leading after IRC time correction, nearly two hours ahead of the Podesta family's Elusive 2 from Malta. Renzo Grottesi's Italian Swan 42 Be Wild holds third, 29 minutes ahead of Philippe Frantz's Albator. At Pantelleria, Lunz Am Meer had returned to the overall podium, lying in third.
 
IRC Five  - Eight yachts are past Favignana. Géry Trentesaux's Courrier Recommandé was over two hours ahead after time correction. Redshift Reloaded, skippered by Nick Cherry, was second. Milan Tomek's Bohemia Praha Debra was just seven minutes behind in third.
 
Zdenek Jakoubek's M37 Hebe 5 from the Czech Republic, one of the smallest boats in the race contacted the media team this morning. "Tough conditions last night with gusts of wind up to 30 knots and big waves. We are just about to round Favignana and put the kite up for the first time since Messina." Meanwhile, Trentesaux's French team has passed Pantalleria and holds the overall lead under IRC.
 
IRC Six - Two yachts are having an epic high speed match race at the front of the class. Timofey Zhbankov's Rossko was just two minutes ahead of Gerard Ludovic's Solenn after time correction at Favignana. Both yachts are JPK 10.80s and, having unfurled their downwind sails this morning, have pulled the trigger in the big conditions west of Sicily. Piercarlo Antonelli's Bora Fast was third and is over an hour behind the two leading boats. Last night Solenn reported in on their approach to Favignana:

"An exhausting day with 20-25 knot headwind, deep swell, and fierce competition with Rossko, Bora Fast and Bogatyr - the double-handed crew! Unbelievable to tack with Bora Fast like a match race. After a full day sailing different options we are eager to turn to the left and hoist a kite!"
 
IRC Double-Handed - None of the teams racing Double-Handed have yet passed Favignana. Igor Rytov's Bogatyr appears to be leading the class, holding a 13-mile lead on the water from Björn Ambos's Mandalay with Marco Paolucci's Libertine is third.
 
Currently, out of the 130 starters, five boats have completed the course, 18 boats have retired and 107 are still racing.
 
Retired yachts:  R-Six, Wild Joe, Allegra, OM-BCTG, Otra Vez, Black Pearl, Teasing Machine, Frogfoot, Katzu, Amapoula, Plis Play, Kings Legend, Unica, Swiss Nautic III, Phoenix, Tango, Preferisco, Jangada 

The Rolex Middle Sea Race is supported by the Ministry for Tourism, the Malta Tourism Authority, Transport Malta, Yachting Malta, Marina di Valletta, Grand Hotel Excelsior Marina and the Grand Harbour Marina. 

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