The famous Middle Sea Race 2020 started from Malta’s Grand Harbour on 17th October
Even with a reduced fleet, it was hard to not get sucked into the atmosphere of today’s Rolex Middle Sea Race over a 606 nautical mile course starting and finishing in Valletta.
The 41st race got underway on schedule with all 50 entrants in seven classes achieving clear starts.
A remarkable achievement for the organisers, the Royal Malta Yacht Club, and its highly professional volunteer team.
It was a glorious day to start a yacht race. Valletta’s golden limestone bastions, rising boldly from the waters of Grand Harbour, bathed in bright sunshine.
The most powerful monohull start, and the penultimate in timing, took a while to wind up. Aragon (NED), the biggest in the fleet, belted across the start with the smaller Wild Joe just to leeward.
I Love Poland and E1, together with Sisi-The Austrian Ocean Race Project were slow to power up in a diminishing wind.
Once on the wind, I Love Poland took control overhauling both Aragon and Wild Joe by the turning mark at St Julian’s.
The six-boat multihull class was an extraordinary sight.
Riccardo Pavoncelli’s MOD70 Mana, which only arrived in Malta yesterday, crossed at speed edging out Maserati and leaving Antoine Rabaste’s larger Ultim’Emotion in her slipstream.
It was quite a sight as Maserati chased Mana through the fleet after exiting the harbour, eventually overhauling them 10nm after the laid mark at St Julian’s.
The five-boat group is many people’s favourite to provide the overall winner under IRC.
Eric de Turkheim’s Teasing Machine (FRA) has form at this race winning her class in 2017, when she finished third overall.
Vadim Yakimenko’s Russian TP52 Freccia Rossa has won the Rolex Giraglia and is reckoned to do well in the predicted light airs.
These two led from the line with Freccia Rossa breaking free of the harbour confines ahead of Teasing Machine.
Maksim Nemchenko’s Farr 45 Favorit plus, executed a perfect start towards the middle of the line and led the class out of the harbour.
Right from the gun, two Maltese yachts looked set to battle it out right around the course.
Xpresso was the first boat in class to leave Grand Harbour, after rounding the Fairway Buoy, while Elusive 2 soon took the lead.
Jonathan Gambin’s Maltese Dufour 44R Ton Ton Laferla judged their approach to the start to perfection and found good breeze to win the exit from Grand Harbour with the crew stacked high on the windward rail.
The Grand Soleil 40 Aziza, sailed by a Latvian crew and skippered by Ilgonis Balodis, started on port tack at the pin end and pulled off a stunning start.
Also away to a good start was the young Maltese team on J/109 Jarhead, skippered by Lloyd Hamilton.