Comanche sweeps Rolex Middle Sea Race
Published on October 29th, 2021
Ta’ Xbiex, Malta (October 29, 2021) – The 100-foot Maxi Comanche (CAY) has been confirmed as the overall winner of the 42nd Rolex Middle Sea Race. Skippered by Mitch Booth, the exceptional crew of 23 included in its ranks the likes of Will Oxley (navigator), Tom Slingsby, Kyle Langford, Shannon Falcone, Hugo Rocha, Justin Slattery, Willy Altadill, and Luke Molloy.
Victory under IRC time correction is added to the monohull line honors and monohull race record secured in a contest dominated, initially at least, by what many have described as a once in a lifetime weather system.
Comanche finished the race on the morning of October 25 and was in pole position until the arrival of the JPK 1180 Sunrise on the afternoon of October 26. However, the race narrative altered in the early hours of October 27, with some 23 boats still on the racecourse. A serious and adverse change to the weather forecast led the Royal Malta Yacht Club Race Committee to invoke the alternative finish line, as per the sailing instructions.
“The decision to invoke Sailing Instruction (SI) 11.3, was made after careful consideration of a changing weather pattern and the potential danger to those yachts that were still racing, when approaching the finish,” explains Peter Dimech, Principal Race Officer of the Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC) for 12 years.
“First and foremost, the RMYC has to consider the safety and well-being of those participants that are still at sea. SI 11.3 enables the Race Committee to use an alternative finish line in the South Comino Channel if severe weather conditions make it unsafe to enter Marsamxett Harbour.
“The rule was written specifically in anticipation of the forecast severe north-easterly, which would have made Marsamxett Harbour extremely dangerous to enter. For that reason, we made the call, which was announced to all competitors whether finished or racing, in accordance with rules.”
According to available records, this is the first time in the 53-year history of the Rolex Middle Sea Race that the alternative finish line has had to be used. Nineteen yachts have been able to finish the race using this line.
As a consequence of the decision, all yachts taking part have been scored for the purposes of time correction using the alternative finish line. Competing in IRC Class One, Comanche’s corrected time to the alternative finish line of three days six hours 30 minutes and 20 seconds has proved just over an hour faster than second placed Sunrise (IRC Class Five) and almost four hours ahead of Daguet 3 – Corum in third (IRC Class Two).
No one left racing is able to meet the time required to change this result.
Comanche has achieved the trifecta of overall winner, monohull line honors, and a monohull race record. Comanche’s race record of 40 hours, 17 minutes and 50 seconds is based upon the full course distance of 606nm. Two boats have previously achieved this monohull triple crown: Robert McNeil’s 75ft Zephyrus IV in 2000 and George David’s 90ft Rambler in 2007.
Jason Carroll’s MOD 70 trimaran Argo (USA) also completed a triple crown winning the Multihull Class under MOCRA time correction, taking multihull line honours and setting a new outright race record of 33 hours, 29 minutes and 28 seconds.
Some 89 yachts of the 114 that took part in the race have so far finished with 25 officially retiring.
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 2021 race started with 114 yachts on October 23.
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.