Big Breeze and Lumpy Seas for Rolex Middle Sea Race
Published on October 22nd, 2014
(October 22, 2014) – 92 yachts are still racing in the Rolex Middle Sea Race. The expected frontal system arrived around Midnight last night at the northwest corner of the course. Reports of storm force winds and big seas have been received by the Race Committee and 25 yachts had officially retired from the race by 15:00 CET on Wednesday. The Race Committee has received no reports of any injuries to crew from the fleet.
The yachts still racing cracked sheets last night, hitting the turbo, flying downwind at incredible speeds. It will be a blast on board, surfing down waves with the salt spray hissing at the rail and warm water breaking over the bows and cascading down the deck. This speed comes with a price, if the boat loses control or accelerates into the waves too fast, the loads involved can be too much resulting in damage. The saying; ‘To finish first, first you must finish.’ will be very much the mantra.
Six yachts are still racing in IRC 1, with Marton Jozsa’s Hungarian RP60, Wild Joe leading the pack. Heading for Il Camino with 70 miles to go the front runners are not experiencing as much wind as the yachts behind them but Wild Joe is blasting along at close to 20 knots of boat speed. At Lampedusa, Dmitry Samohkhin’s Russian Swan 60 Petite Flamme, skippered by Andy Beadsworth, poses the closest challenge to the corrected time set by Ran V. Petite Flamme was at full pace and only 40 minutes behind Ran V’s corrected time.
Periklis Livas & Nick Lazos’ Farr 52, Optimum 3 Aspida has performed well during the night and at Lampedusa, the Greek team were not only provisional class leaders, but leading the entire fleet after time correction. Jens Kellinghusen’s German Ker 51, Varuna was leading the class on the water until a rudder problem caused their retirement. Michele Galli’s TP52, B2 is leading the class on the water. 80 miles behind the leaders, Paolo Semeraro’s Italian Neo 400, Neo Bank Sails is designed for downwind racing and is most definitely in the hunt. Unfortunately for Mascalzone Latino, a problem with their rig forced the Italian team to retire yesterday. However fellow Italian Cookson 50, Germana Tognella’s Cantankerous, is revelling in the strong conditions.
Eric De Turckheim’s French A13, Teasing Machine ‘lit the blue touch paper’ after rounding Favignana covering 160 miles in just nine hours at an average speed of 18 knots. Teasing Machine’s incredible run has most definitely put the French team in contention for the class. Josef Schultheis and Timmy Camilleri’s x-P44, Xp-ACT Bank Sails continued to fair well overnight and at Pantelleria was the class leader, after time correction. Sonke Stein’s J/133. Oiltanking Juno was less than three minutes behind Xp-ACT Bank Sails.
By morning, only two yachts in the class had passed Pantelleria, Lee Satariano’s J/122, Artie was nearly four hours ahead of Aaron Gatt Floridia’s J/122, Otra Vez. Artie is now the clear favourite to win the class and have a real chance of winning the race overall. The majority of the fleet are close to Pantelleria experiencing storm force conditions.
Lee Satariano’s Maltese J/122, Artie has emerged as the hot favourite to become the overall winner of the 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race. However, at 16:00 CET, Artie was still 80 miles from the finish and the Mistral storm is still raging. In addition, there are several yachts behind Artie that could still claim the overall prize. On board Artie, Sebastian Ripard spoke to the media team earlier today.
“The waves have been as high as 30 feet and the wind speed often gusting above 40 knots, it has been a really wild ride.” Commented Sebastian. “With the full main and jib top sail, we have been flying along. The game plan has been a mixture of pushing as hard as we can but also protecting the boat, so we have been taking it a bit easier in the big gusts of over 40 knots and then going for it when the wind speed drops a little.
All the way to Lampedusa we have been VMG running but when we turn the corner, Artie will be on a beam reach and we expect the waves to be crashing into the cockpit. Everybody will be on the rail, head down, hiking out for the final 100 miles. We expect to finish the race late this evening at around midnight”
Ross Applebey, co-skipper on GYR Scarlet Oyster called in by satellite phone this morning. “We have two reefs in the main and the storm jib up, we saw 48 knots of wind and we have seen waves of over 20 feet. It is pretty tasty out here and we are most definitely concentrating on keeping everyone safe on board rather than boat speed. However, we surfed down a wave and it was too much for the rudder. It was a sickening sight as half of it appeared out of the back of the boat and for us the race is now over. Although Pantelleria is only a short distance away, we cannot steer towards the harbour there, so we are making are way towards Mazara del Vallo on the Sicilian coast and should be their tonight – absolutely gutted would be an understatement.”
Peppe Fornich’s Italian Grand Soleil 37, Sagola Biotrading leads on the water and is approaching Pantelleria with 200 miles to the finish. Pierpaolo Ballerini’s Azurree 33, Azuree, with Danish Volvo Ocean Race sailor, Stig Westergaard on board is now leading both the Double Handed Class and IRC 5.
Report by Event Media
Photo Credit: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo