Clockwise circumnavigation of Sicily
Published on October 23rd, 2021
Ta’ Xbiex, Malta (October 23, 2021) – The 42nd Rolex Middle Sea Race got underway for the 114 yachts in a fresh south-easterly breeze that built from 10-12 knots, in the confines of Grand Harbour, to 15 knots plus once past the outer breakwater. With the fleet ranging in size from 140 feet down to some comparatively small 30-footers, they spread between Syracuse to the north and midway between Malta and Sicily, to the south.
With some 25 countries represented, its Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo (USA) leading on the water, with Skorpios, the ClubSwan 125, the first monohull. The race is on for the leaders to reach the Strait of Messina where the current is now heading north and turns foul just before 2100 CEST.
Will Oxley, navigator on Mitch Booth-led Comanche (CAY), was uncertain if the Maxi Monohulls would be able to take advantage of this window of opportunity, but still felt confident that a new race record is on the cards.
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.