Elapsed winners in Rolex Middle Sea Race

Published on October 25th, 2022

(October 25, 2022) – The 2022 Rolex Middle Sea Race got underway on October 22, attracting a fleet of 120 yachts from 25 countries for its 43rd edition. It was not anticipated to be a record year for the 606nm course, essentially a clockwise circumnavigation of Sicily starting and finishing in Malta, and it has lived up to the forecast for the global fleet.

Just after midnight this morning, there was a dramatic conclusion to the multihull contest. The five racing trimarans in contention had been reduced to just three. Riccardo Pavoncelli’s MOD70 Mana (ITA) had held the lead since Favignana, but on the way down to Lampedusa had been unable to shake off Zoulou (FRA).

The light wind drag race from the channel to the finish in Marsamxett Harbour appeared to be a procession in Mana’s favor, but a nervous final mile from the Fairway Buoy off Valletta saw Zoulou (FRA), skippered by Erik Maris, nearly snatch victory. Mana won in an elapsed time of 61 hours 32 minutes 38 seconds, with Zoulou across the finish 56 seconds later.

The Mana crew was Riccardo Pavoncelli, Alexia Barrier, Paul Larsen, Jeff Mearing, Tom Dawson, Jonny Malbon, Kai Weeks, and Evan Walker.

“Riccardo put together the best possible team and I am lucky to have been part of it,” said French skipper Barrier. “Paul Larsen is the fastest driver, and Johnny Malbon did super tactics. Mana is in perfect shape, a pure MOD 70, which means no modifications and it is kept light. In this kind of race, it makes a big difference even if we do not have the best sails. We kept the boat going, moving, all the time.”

In the monohull line honors battle, Joost Schultz’s Farr 100 Leopard 3 (NED) won in an elapsed time of 70 hours 34 minutes 29 seconds. This is the third time Leopard 3 has participated in the race and the second time it has been first monohull home. The previous occasion was in 2009. Leopard’s elapsed time is some 30 hours outside the monohull race record of 40 hours 17 minutes 50 seconds established in 2021 by Comanche.

Schultz and skipper Chris Sherlock were joined by crew Matt Lester, Curtis Blewett, Tom McWilliam, Will Best, Stefano Nava, Gian Ahluwalia, Guy Filabozzi, Michael Pammenter, Laura de Vere, Samuel Wright, Murray Goodsell, Richard Bouzaid, Tim Marsh, Dennis Frederikson, Giles de Jager, Ian Budgen, Steve Booth, Guilermo Altadill, Ronald Bunders, Mitch Booth, and Gerald Mitchell.

“Even this year with light winds it is physically and mentally tiring, but for me to do this race with a very good professional crew is a real honor,” explained Schultz. “I have a technical background, so I am very interested in all of the technical aspects of sailing. What I also learnt is how the crew set up the boat, how to look at the sails. We were not always leading the race and it is never over until you cross the finish line.”

From a tactical and navigational perspective, the race played out as expected by Will Best and Mitch Booth, who confirmed that the forecasts at the start of the race came to pass. There were localised moments of strong conditions, such as during the Messina Strait and at the Egadi Islands but, overall, it was a light wind race.

The conditions from Lampedusa to the finish were better than expected and made life a little easier on the run to the finish. Leopard 3 was able to maintain a loose cover on Andrea Recordati’s Wally 93 Bullitt (ITA) offering no passing opportunities and not over stretching crew or equipment.

Bullitt was the second monohull to finish the race just under an hour behind Leopard 3 on elapsed time.

Day 4 – IRC Class Update – 1700 CEST

With Leopard 3 (NED) taking monohull line honours in the Rolex Middle Sea Race the focus has very much sharpened onto who will win the race overall after IRC time correction. As first to finish, Leopard 3 set the bar, but that has already been raised by Bullitt (ITA).

A flurry of finishers is expected tomorrow, Wednesday 26 October, but the overall winner is unlikely to be decided until the boats still racing have ended the many battles still raging out on the course.

The Botin 65 Spirit of Lorina (FRA) is 25nm from the finish and ranked first in the big boat class after IRC time correction. Ranked second, 5nm astern is Wild Joe (HUN). The CF 520 Rán (SWE) is third, 50nm from the finish. Spirit of Lorina and Wild Joe are not only the front runners, but are also two of the top ranked boats in the entire fleet.

The NMYD Teasing Machine (FRA) is making a strong finish to the race and is ranked first in class with just 52nm to go. Some 20nm astern of Teasing Machine is the TP52 Red Bandit (GER). The Ker 46 Daguet 3- Corum (FRA) is approaching Lampedusa after the long beat south. The French team will soon accelerate onto a reach, potentially reducing the advantage held by the leaders. In the meantime, Teasing Machine is estimated to be leading the race overall according to the tracker.

Two HH42s, Ino XXX (GBR) and Artie III (MLT), have a substantial lead on the water over the rest of the class, ranking them as the top two after IRC time correction. Over 80nm behind is the Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen (FRA), ranked third. Ino XXX and Artie III have enjoyed a terrific battle, but the latest skirmish was soundly won by the British boat. At Pantelleria, the lead was just five minutes. However, Ino XXX managed to keep moving through an area of light wind on the way to Lampedusa, while Artie III stalled. The gap is now 20nm.

The NMD 43 Albator (FRA) has made significant gains over the class on the leg from Stromboli to Favignana. Albator has since sped away south towards Pantelleria. Second in class, 26nm behind is Elusive 2 (MLT). Christoph Podesta reported in from Favignana: “The wind is very light, and it is very difficult to round Favignana because of a strong adverse current. The forecast tonight is not looking good, but we are making the most of the wind that we have.” Ranked third is the Grand Soleil 44 Essentia (POL). The Xp50 Freya (IRL) has also rounded Favignana and is heading south for Pantelleria.

The First 40 Tevere Remo Mon Ile (ITA) has a 35 mile lead over the class having rounded Favignana just before the 1700 CEST update. Second on the water and after IRC time correction is the JPK 1180 Dawn Treader (GBR) which chose to go wind-seeking further offshore at the cost of sailing more miles. The double handed Atame lies in third.

The JPK 1080 Colombre rounded Stromboli around 1400 CEST, yesterday, and leads both on the water and on IRC corrected time. At the 1700 CEST update Colombre is just past San Vito lo Capo, 23nm ahead of the J/99 Calypso (MLT) which rates second with the double-handed Sun Fast 3300 Red Ruby (USA) in third. Another double hander, the JPK 1080 Solenn for Pure Ocean is also in the chasing pack and ranked fourth.

IRC Double Handed
Red Ruby leads IRC Double Handed from Solenn Pure Ocean, while the Fast 42 Atame (ITA) is ranked third.

Race detailsTrackingEntrants

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: RMSR

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