Lee Satariano’s J/122 Artie wins Rolex Middle Sea Race
Published on October 23rd, 2014
Ta’ Xbiex, Malta (October 23, 2014) – While yesterday (Wednesday) was a day of seamanship and survival as yachts battled storm force winds, it was also a day of arrivals as the same winds pushed competitors to the finish of the 608 nm Rolex Middle Sea Race.
Since the start on Saturday, the record fleet of 122 starters endured four days of light winds, but the predicted frontal system from the northwest was due to arrive Tuesday night and by Wednesday the wind speed was expected to increase significantly. And it did indeed!
Riding the new weather system to the finish was Lee Satariano’s J/122 Artie as the first Maltese yacht to finish, but a few hours later, with part of the fleet still on the course but unable to better Artie’s time, Satariano’s team was announced as the overall winner.
Lee Satariano’s J122 Artie crossed the finish line at 00:45h, after 4 days, 13 hours, 35 minutes and 05 seconds at sea. “I can’t believe it,” exclaimed Satariano. “To win such a prestigious race, one of the most high level offshore races in the world, being a local boat and a local team is a great achievement.”
This is the second title for Artie, after victory in 2011. Sailing on Artie for this victory was Satariano, Christian Ripard, Sebastian Ripard (co-skippers), Matthew Gusman, Sam Pizzuto, Tom Ripard, Matthew Almekinders, Gordon Bugeja, and Timothy Davis.
The faces of the crews arriving at the Royal Malta Yacht Club since yesterday morning show a mix of exhaustion, happiness, relief and a huge sense of achievement. Outside Marsamxett Harbour, conditions have improved, but the wind is still blowing hard and the sea state is anything but friendly.
Christian Ripard, co-skipper of Artie, and a highly experienced and respected offshore yachtsman was in awe of the situation on the course: “I have to say last time I saw a sea like this it was during a windy Rolex Sydney Hobart. To have those conditions for over 24 hours is very rare, almost exceptional.”
Proof of the extraordinarily difficult conditions lies in the number of retirees to date – 48 by 15.00 CEST – and the litany of damage reported by the fleet, even close to the finish. “The pin of our keel failed just as we left the Comino channel”, said the mightily-relieved Portuguese Diogo Cayolla, skipper of Kuka-Light (SUI) after docking in Malta. Last night French yacht Teasing Machine lost her mast within 20 miles of the finish.
By 15.00 CEST today (Day 6), 42 boats have managed to finish the race and 32 are still officially racing. For those still at sea it is all about trying to make it to Malta before time limit at 08.00CEST on Saturday morning. And to do so in one piece.
Race website: http://www.rolexmiddlesearace.com/index.cfm
Report by race media.