Harken Derm

Phaedo3’s gaffe gives Maserati Rolex Middle Sea Race Record

Published on October 24th, 2016

(October 24, 2016; Day 3) – Overnight the battle for multihull line honours at the 2016 the Rolex Middle Sea Race took an extraordinary twist. At about 20:30 CET on Sunday October 23, Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD70 Phaedo 3 rounded Pantelleria and was 11 miles ahead of their rival Giovanni Soldini’s MOD70 Maserati.

While the American multihull looked firmly on course to repeat last year’s success and in doing so set a new course record, in the early hours today Thornburg’s assault began to unravel.

After passing Pantelleria, Phaedo3 immediately tacked to the east and most of those following the race tracker assumed that the upwind conditions in the race area meant the trimaran needed to open its angle of attack. Phaedo3 made another couple of tacks before continuing its southerly track, in theory towards Lampedusa – the next mark on the course.

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On reaching the island of Linosa, some 24 miles North West of Lampedusa, Phaedo3 surprisingly tacked north east. In the absence of news from the boat, it would be another 40 miles and around 3 hours before it became apparent that things were not going according to plan. At around 0500 CEST Phaedo undertook a 180 degree turn to the southwest retracing her track and heading to Lampedusa.

Meantime the previously chasing Maserati rounded Lampedusa just before dawn and instead of a deficit found herself basking in a 65-mile lead. Phaedo3 eventually passed the most southerly mark of the course some four hours behind Maserati.

Co-skipper Brian Thompson from onboard Phaedo3 offered little insight into the reason behind the drama, merely confirming there had been a navigation error: “Last night we scored an ‘own goal’. We have rectified our mistake and are carrying on to the finish.”

Giovanni Soldini’s MOD70 Maserati crossed the finish line to take Multihull Line Honours at 14.00.01 CET today in an elapsed time of 2 days 01 hours 25 minutes and 01 seconds, bettering the current record of 2 days 11 hours 29 minutes and 41 seconds set by Phaedo3 in last year’s race.

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Maserati arriving in Malta. © Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Maserati winning crew includes Giovanni Soldini, Guido Broggi, Carlos Hernandez, Oliver Herrera Perez, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant, Francesco Malingri, and Pierre Casiraghi.

“The first part of the race went well more or less,” explained Soldini. “The two of us arrived together. They chose to go in shore and we went a little bit out. They made the right decision and they took an advantage there. We then played the section in the night very well, especially through Messina and we were very close. Then from Messina to Stromboli they did better than us. We stayed too far west.

“I bet that the best passage along the north of Sicily would be far off the coast and I was nearly right. We almost went past them, but then no and we stopped. It was like a piece of elastic, we catch up then they go away.”

“A race is never over until you finish. Anything can happen. When I saw that Phaedo had tacked, I thought they had broken something. I wondered if maybe I should call them on the radio to ask if they have some problem and they need something. Luckily I didn’t because it took a long time for them to discover their error!”

Damage before the race reduced the potential of Maserati; she had to sail with a replacement non-foiling rudder and daggerboard on the starboard side.

“The different conditions meant we could try different things,” shared Soldini. “I was really impressed with the sail combination and speed just after the start between the breakwater and the first turning mark. I couldn’t tell you if we would have been faster over the whole race if we had not damaged the rudder. It is a bet. In some moments for sure. From here to Sicily way faster and also from Stromboli to the end of Sicily way faster too when we were reaching in 20 knots with a flat see. But who knows.”

George David’s American Maxi Rambler 88, is expected to take Monohull Line Honours at around Midnight on Monday 24 October, setting the corrected time for the IRC fleet to claim the overall win.

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Organised by the Royal Malta Yacht Club, 107 yachts began the 37th edition of the 608 nm yacht race on October 22. The race takes place in the heart of the Mediterranean and covers one of the most beautiful courses in the world. Starting and finishing in Malta, the route includes the deep azure waters around Sicily including the Aeolian and Egadi Islands, as well as Pantelleria and Lampedusa. One of the most stunning vistas is Stromboli, the active volcano which is a course mark.

Challenging, enchanting and historic, the annual Rolex Middle Sea Race is one of Europe’s most popular and respected offshore races. Supported by Rolex since 2002, the event’s fascination is largely drawn from its alluring course – a rigorous and scenic anti-clockwise loop around Sicily, which introduces numerous ‘corners’ that present changing and complex meteorological shifts.

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Source: Rolex Middle Sea Race

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