Monday, October 22, 2007


Photo by: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

The 28th Rolex Middle Sea Race looked to be mirroring almost exactly its British cousin, the Rolex Fastnet, as retirement after retirement is phoned into the Royal Malta Yacht Club Race Control, whilst the front-runner makes record-breaking progress towards the finish. After a relatively benign start yesterday, the trouble began as yachts began to reach to the Sicilian coast. At 1600 today some twenty-two yachts had retired including four of the big ones - Titan 12 (USA), Valkyrie (CAN), Whisper (IRL) and Ourdream (GBR) - leaving thirty-five still racing.

Race leader Rambler (USA) has been eating up the miles over the 24-hours since reaching Capo Passero shortly after 1700 on Saturday evening. George David's 90-foot supermaxi with Ken Read as skipper belied her name and strode up the eastern seaboard of Sicily, springing out of the Strait of Messina at 0100 on Sunday morning. Rounding Stromboli at 0435, she has made reasonable progress across the top of Sicily and was just north of Favignana at 1600, making 19-knots. The forecast frontal system looks set to blow the big white supermaxi home at speed with winds from the northwest topping out at 40-45-knots. There is the probability of a confused sea state that may slow her up a little, but short of gear failure or breakage she could reach the finish at around 0900 on Monday. If so she would have smashed the existing course record. But she needs to finish before such predictions become meaningful.