Most Beautiful Course in the World
Published on October 15th, 2014
by Louay Habib
American tycoon Ted Turner described the Rolex Middle Sea Race course, a 608 nm route circumnavigating Sicily and its neighboring islands, as the ‘most beautiful in the world’. It is a tour that on October 18, a fleet of 123 yachts is expected to start, eclipsing the current record of 99 entries set last year.
The Rolex Middle Sea Race has seen USA boats take the title on four occasions – Wally Stenhouse’s Aura in 1973, R. McNeil’s Zephyrus in 2000, George David’s Rambler in 2007 and Bryan Erhart’s Lucky in 2010.
While racing yachts have taken a quantum leap in design and speed in recent years, one record that has stood the test of time is that of George David’s RP90, Rambler. In 2007, the American maxi set a time for the Rolex Middle Sea Race, which has still to be bettered – 47 hours 55 minutes and 3 seconds.
America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veteran Ken Read was on board for the record run.
“The front arrived with five visible water spouts, perfectly defined and rather large, they brought a big lump to your throat,”‘ commented Ken Read after finishing. “The third appeared in front of us and the last two formed within a couple hundred yards of Rambler. The water would start foaming and spinning in a 50 metre circle right in front of our eyes. A wild sight that I will not forget for a long time.”
“Then came the breeze, and with it, 25-57 knots of wind for the next 20 hours. The front hatch blew off its hinges and about two hours of bailing followed this little glitch in the program. As soon as you thought you had a breather, another squall hit. Right up to the finish, where we had 53 knots of wind five minutes before entering the harbour in Malta. During one very violent squall we were literally flying off the waves – surfing at over 30 knots.
“When George bought Rambler he asked that we sail in events that would show him how tough the oceans can be – ‘Well George, I think we nailed that one’.”
George David plans to return to Malta for the Rolex Middle Sea Race in 2015 with his new Rambler and has high hopes of raising the bar once again.
“Others have tried to beat it, notably Leopard and Esimit, but both have failed,” commented George David. “Records are a combination of boat size and power, preparation, organization, crew, and of course the weather has to cooperate – which it did in 2007.”
Race starts Saturday, October 18: www.rolexmiddlesearace.com