MOD70s approaching Middle Sea finish

Published on October 19th, 2020

(October 19, 2020; 1700CEST) – After another long day, the 2020 Rolex Middle Sea Race may record its first finisher this evening on the third day of racing. The two Italian powerhouse MOD70 trimarans, Maserati and Mana, are 30nm shy of the finish but struggling in a light wind band in the lee of Malta.

Despite their immediate difficulties, they are over 400nm further along the track than the backmarker on the 606nm course.

It took until 2330 last night for the pair to clear Favignana and settle into the leg south to Pantelleria and eventually Lampedusa. Running dead downwind is not a favored point of sail for the tris, and the crews will have put in a proper shift gybing their way down the 165nm section.

Reaching Lampedusa at midday, any hope of a simple routing back to Malta would have been tempered by the predicted hole in front of Malta, evident on most public wind models. Still locked together after over 550nm of racing, Maserati holds a slight edge over Riccardo Pavoncelli’s Mana.

Amid the monohull fleet, a handful of participants yesterday had rounded the mark at Stromboli, and 24 hours later there is only one yacht left to get around the landmark: Carsten Sommer’s Logoff. The German crew was subjected to a real Messina Strait experience in the small hours of this morning and has 13nm to run.

As predicted, the wind conditions to the north of Sicily were light and fickle last night and throughout today. Every boat has experienced some form of park up in little or no wind, though the length and extent of the disruption has varied. Some boats appearing to escape relatively unscathed, others overwhelmingly frustrated.
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UPDATE: Maserati Multi70 (ITA), skippered by Giovanni Soldini, crossed the finish line of the 2020 Rolex Middle Sea Race at the Royal Malta Yacht Club to take Multihull Line Honours at 20:41:31 CEST on October 19 in an elapsed time of 2 days, 08 hours 31 minutes 31 seconds. Mana (ITA), owned by Riccardo Pavoncelli, finished fifteen minutes behind after a closely fought battle around the course.
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At the front of the monohull fleet, a fascinating duel continues to develop. At the Favignana transit point, the gap between I Love Poland and Marton Josza’s Wild Joe was around 0.5nm and three minutes on the water, with Wild Joe seven hours ahead on corrected time.

There appears to be a thin slither of wind from the north on the eastern side of the Sicily Strait offering reasonable pressure down to Pantelleria. The slither looks likely to diminish in strength overnight, while turning more easterly in direction before building again. At the same time, the situation around Lampedusa at the bottom of the course looks particularly sketchy.

When the two boats passed Stromboli yesterday afternoon, they were separated by approximately 10nm. That distance was maintained until the Polish VO70, skippered by Zbigniew Gutkowski, was abeam the Aeolian island of Alicudi.

At this point she fell into a hole, speed dropping off rapidly, while the Hungarian Reichel/Pugh design kept on moving, almost slipping into the lead until they too sank into the quicksand. I Love Poland’s lead had compressed to three miles as the two started moving. By San Vito lo Capo, the gap had shrunk still further.

Some 20nm back, Eric de Turckheim’s Teasing Machine (FRA/IRC 2) and Vadim Yakimenko’s Freccia Rossa (RUS/IRC 2) are keeping pace despite also experiencing a testing night. Passing Favignana just before 1600 CEST, the pair are chasing hard.

The impressive IRC 3 entry, Dominique Tian’s Tonnerre de Glen (FRA), continues to forge a path hard in the heels of the larger Balthasar (BEL/IRC2). Tonnerre passed San Vito lo Capo at 1530 CEST, far in advance of her immediate competitor Carl-Peter Forster’s Aquila 45 Katsu, 34nm behind, and outpacing her bigger rivals Hagar V (ITA), Sisi-the Austrian Ocean Race Project and The Kid Mermaid (FRA).

IRC Class Round Up:

IRC 1
Wild Joe holds a two-hour lead over Aragon (NED) at the Favignana waypoint. The GPS tracker on E1 (POL) has stopped functioning so transit times are unavailable and Sisi (AUT) has to reach Palermo. Wild Joe and I Love Poland are closing in on the multihull Shockwave at Pantelleria.

IRC 2
Freccia Rossa and Teasing Machine are the only two yachts in class to have passed the transit at Favignana. Freccia Rossa has eked out a fragile lead of 19 minutes. Balthasar is another yacht whose GPS tracker is playing up, but according to an AIS plot is just off Levanzo, 27nm behind the leaders. Gregor Stimpfl’s Scuderia 65 Hagar V and Jean Pierre Dick’s JP54 The Kid Mermaid are on the approach to Palermo.

IRC 3
Tonnerre de Glen has continued to impress over 30 miles ahead of her class rivals. The closest on the water are Katsu, Kito de Pavant’s Class 40 Made in Midi and Artie.

IRC 4
Maltese First 45 Elusive 2, skippered by Aaron, Christoph & Maya Podesta has extended their class lead on the water to over 30 miles ahead of Marco Paolucci’s Italian Comet 45 Libertine. Luigi Stoppani’s Italian Frers Swan 48 Mia is still estimated to be third in class.

IRC 5
Jonathan Gambin’s Maltese Dufour 44R Ton Ton Laferla has pulled away from the rest of their class. Alexey Moskvin’s Russian J/122E Buran has found good breeze to place second, but the remainder of the class is making slow progress. Francesco Cerina, racing Giro 34 Lima double handed, has covered just 60 miles in the past 24 hours.

IRC 6
Timofey Zhbankov’s Russian JPK 10.80 Rossko still holds a handsome lead on the water. Leonardo Petti’s Italian J/109 Chestress leads the chasing pack, which includes Jean-Francois Nouel’s French Sun Fast 3200 Hakuna Matata and the J/109 Jubilee, raced double-handed by Gerald Boess & Jonathan Bordas.

IRC Double Handed
Natale Lia’s Mylius 14e55 Zenhea Takesha has taken pole position on the water. The Sicilian team took a hitch offshore north of Sicily and found good breeze. Marco Paolucci & Andrea Fornaro racing Libertine were second on the water with Jubilee in third.

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606 nautical mile course

About the Race:
The Rolex Middle Sea Race was established as the result of sporting rivalry between great friends, Jimmy White and Alan Green, two Englishmen residing in Malta, together with Paul and John Ripard, two Maltese members of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. Jimmy, Alan (later to become the Race Director of the Royal Ocean Racing Club), Paul and John would eventually map a course designed to offer an exciting race in different conditions to those prevailing in the immediate Maltese coastal waters.

The 606nm course, essentially a clockwise circumnavigation of Sicily starting and finishing in Malta, would be slightly longer than the RORC’s longest race, the Rolex Fastnet. The resulting course is the same as used today, although sailed in the reverse direction. The Rolex Middle Sea Race course record has been broken on five occasions since the inaugural edition in 1968.

The course record, established by George David’s 90-foot Rambler (USA) in 2007, is 47hrs 55mins 03 secs. The multihull record of 49 hours, 25 minutes, 1 second was set by the Multi70 Maserati in 2016.

Source: RMYC

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