Supermaxi Luxury Yacht & Superyacht News

Two targets for supermaxi yacht WILD OATS XI over next nine months

November 10, 2014

Bob Oatley’s celebrated supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI claimed line honours in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 180 nautical mile Cabbage Tree Island Race over the weekend. This was the first step towards two targets for sailing yacht Wild Oats XI over the upcoming nine months.

Superyacht Wild Oats XI at RSHYR 2012 - Credit to Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Superyacht Wild Oats XI at RSHYR 2012 - Photo Credit to Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

On Boxing Day Wild Oats XI yacht will set out to become the first yacht ever to claim eight line honours in the 70-year history of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race. Then in July next year she will be racing to be first to finish in the famous 2,225 nautical mile Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

The Transpac Race will be a joint venture between Bob Oatley and prominent Californian yachtsman, Roy Disney.

With that agreement having been signed during the past two weeks, Disney and his high-profile sailing master, 1984 Olympic gold medallist Robbie Haines, took the opportunity to fly into Sydney from California so they could be aboard super yacht Wild Oats XI for the Cabbage Tree Island race. The crew for the Tranpsac Race will be drawn from both Oatley’s team and Disney’s famous maxi, Pyewacket.

Conditions were generally very light for the first half of the course from Sydney to Cabbage Tree Island (off Port Stephens) and return, yet 10-year-old Wild Oats XI revealed she is still in fine form. She led by more than 20 nautical miles at the island then sailed home in a building north-easterly breeze. She claimed line honours by one hour and nine minutes over arch rival supermaxi yacht Perpetual Loyal (Anthony Bell).

Wild Oats XI yacht’s skipper, Mark Richards, said he was more than satisfied by the way the yacht had performed at the weekend. “I was really happy with the way things went,” Richards said. “We were using a new high-tech mainsail which has been made especially for the Hobart race, and it certainly helped. Also, the modifications we have done to the bow, where it has been made sharper and redesigned to create less drag, is proving to be more effective than we ever imagined. We are seeing something like a four percent gain in performance, a figure that could translate to as much as a 30 mile benefit in the Hobart race.”

Richards said more improvements were planned prior to the Hobart race. The yacht will begin a period of intensive preparation and fine tuning later this month.

He added that after completing the Transpac Race the plan was to sail Wild Oats XI superyacht directly to Hamilton Island for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in August next year.

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014 to host an impressive line-up of 119 yachts

November 07, 2014

Entries for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race officially closed on the evening of Friday 31 October. Expected to be attended by 119 yachts, this year’s 70th anniversary race is set to host its largest line-up of yachts in a decade, befitting of such a historic occasion. The presence of five 100-foot Maxi yachts will steal the news headlines, but the impressive nature of the fleet stretches far beyond the fastest boats. Adding lustre to the occasion are a host of yachts that have won the race before, ten international entrants, as well as an array of Australian crews spearheaded by sailors with over 40 editions of the race to their name.

Line Honours Winner superyacht Wild Oats XI - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Line Honours Winner superyacht Wild Oats XI - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

In keeping with tradition the race starts at 13:00 local time on 26 December, Boxing Day, from Sydney Harbour. The destination is Hobart, Tasmania over a famous 628-nautical mile racecourse. The competition has been sponsored by Rolex since 2002 and forms an integral part of its triumvirate of offshore races comprising the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Comanche raider

At the front of the fleet, the quest for line honours promises to be open and competitive. Bob Oatley’s 100-ft superyacht Wild Oats XI has been the fastest yacht on the water in seven of the last nine race editions. Experience, guile and knowledge of the conditions ensure the Mark Richards-skippered yacht starts as favourite in the race to be first to finish.

Superyacht Ragamuffin 100 off Tasman Island - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Superyacht Ragamuffin 100 off Tasman Island - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Anthony Bell, line honours winner in 2011, will be one of those hoping to knock Wild Oats XI off her stride. His yacht Perpetual Loyal has strong pedigree in the race and an excellent crew, which includes 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby.

A layer of the unknown has been introduced with the entry from the United States of Jim Clark’s sailing yacht Comanche. Clark has made a bold statement – shipping his brand new 100 foot Ken Read-skippered yacht to Sydney immediately following its October launch in New England. This will be the boat’s first race – the ultimate baptism of fire! Clark has sought to dilute expectations, asserting Comanche was not designed with the Rolex Sydney Hobart in mind, and pointing to a lack of preparation time: “The boat and crew will have had only a couple of weeks on the water before we ship it to Australia. There’s a lot of work to do before the race start. In the short term, I don’t have high expectations, but in the long term, I think this boat could really set a mark.”

Midnight Rambler passing Tasman Island - Photo by Rolex Daniel Forster

Midnight Rambler passing Tasman Island - Photo by Rolex Daniel Forster

The fourth 100-ft Maxi to watch is superyacht Ragamuffin 100. Owner Syd Fischer, at 87 years of age and with 45 Rolex Sydney Hobarts to his name, has virtually rebuilt  Ragamuffin 100 fitting its original deck to a new hull. The ultimate competitor, including line honours winner at the Rolex China Sea Race last April, he has more knowledge of the race than almost any other entrant. Completing the line up of 100 foot Maxis, is the outsider – American entrant luxury yacht RIO 100 previously competed in the race under the guise of Lahana and counts expert American navigator Peter Isler as part of its crew.

Rolex Sydney Hobart course map - Photo by Rolex KPMS

Rolex Sydney Hobart course map - Photo by Rolex KPMS

Chasing Victoire

The history of the Rolex Sydney Hobart proves that the overall winner of the race can come from anywhere within the fleet. Prevailing conditions often determine whether the larger or smaller yachts are favoured. In 2013, Darryl Hodgkinson’s 50-ft Victoire claimed victory following in the wake of a diverse range of recent winners Two True (40-ft, 2009), Loki (60-ft, 2011) and Wild Oats XI (100-ft, 2012). Victoire is seeking to become the first boat to successfully retain the Tattersall’s Cup since the mid-1960s.

International influence

In keeping with its international reputation and wide global interest, the Rolex Sydney Hobart always welcomes an array of foreign entrants who have to overcome the added logistical challenge of shipping or sailing their boat to Sydney. Along with American entrants Comanche and RIO 100, yachts from the Cayman Islands, Germany, New Zealand, Poland and the United Kingdom add foreign glamour to the 119-strong fleet.

Festive atmosphere

Pre-race celebrations will include a Parade of Sail of historic Rolex Sydney Hobart entrants before hundreds of thousands of spectators ashore and on the water in Sydney. The race start will be broadcast live throughout Australia and also webcast live to a global audience. Given the wide interest in this 70th edition, victory will have an extra coat of fulfilment.

Video showing 100ft Hodgdon superyacht COMANCHE under sail

November 07, 2014

Last week saw Jim Clark’s 100-foot Hodgdon-built carbon superyacht Comanche set sail for Charleston in South Carolina. Sailing yacht Comanche was on her way to Charleston to meet the ship that will take her to the popular Australia yacht charter destination – Sydney for the 2014 Sydney to Hobart Race, set to run in December. Below is a video showing Comanche under sail, while reaching an impressive speed of 30 knots. The video has been produced by Onne van der Wal.

A Busy Winter Superyacht Refit Season for Pendennis

November 06, 2014

Pendennis is pleased to announce that the three new construction halls as well as the dry docks have been busy welcoming arrivals for winter refit projects. These include the 75,2-metre mega yacht Northern Star – the largest motor yacht yet to undergo a refit at Pendennis.

Mega yacht ADIX in a new hall at Pendennis in Falmouth, UK

Mega yacht ADIX in a new hall at Pendennis in Falmouth, UK

The magnificent 65m schooner Adix was hauled out at the beginning of August to begin a comprehensive 8-month refit programme and is now located in the second of Pendennis’ two new 90m construction halls, custom designed for world-class painting and refit projects. Adix is undergoing engineering works which include new generators and main engine, as well as a redesign of the yacht’s deck house, which will be moved further forward combined with a seating area to provide better interaction with the Owner’s accommodation.

Sailing yacht Adix has competed twice in the Pendennis Cup and this will be the fourth time that this classic three-masted schooner has undergone works in Falmouth, with the relationship dating back to 1991 at which time Adix underwent a transom modification and full interior strip out.

The Pendennis dry dock will be occupied by 75.2m motor yacht Northern Star which will be based in the outer dock. Built in 2009, Northern Star is the largest motor yacht yet to undergo a refit at Pendennis. She will be joined by a 56m motor yacht positioned in the inner dock.

The modern J-Class yacht Lionheart also arrived earlier this month for her five-year survey work programme following which she will be competing in the J-Class Regatta taking place from the 23rd-27th June 2015 in Falmouth. This will be the second J-Class Regatta to take place in Falmouth Bay in the past three years.

These three vessels will be undergoing class surveys and paint works with their refits due to be finished next spring in conjunction with the completion of Phase 2 of Pendennis’ major development project, the creation of a non-tidal wet basin ideally positioned for their post-refit commissioning period.

65m sailing yacht ADIX under refit at Pendennis

November 06, 2014

The majestic 65-metre sailing yacht Adix was hauled out at in August 2014 to start a major 8-month winter refit program at Pendennis. Mega yacht Adix is currently located in the second of Pendennis’ two new 90m construction halls.

65m super yacht ADIX

65m super yacht ADIX

Superyacht Adix is undergoing engineering works which include new generators and main engine. Paintworks will be completed in situ, benefitting from Pendennis’ highly efficient environmentally controlled paint environment serviced by a custom designed ducting system which has been built into our new construction halls. The Pendennis team is also redesigning the yacht’s deck house, which will be moved further forward and combined with a seating area to provide better interaction with the Owner’s accommodation.

Luxury yacht Adix has competed twice in the Pendennis Cup and this will be the fourth time that this classic three-masted schooner has undergone works in Falmouth. The relationship dates back to 1991 at which time Adix underwent a transom modification and full interior strip out.

Hodgdon sailing yacht COMANCHE on the way to Sydney

November 03, 2014

Following a couple of brief days of sea trials in Newport, Rhode Island, the 100-foot Hodgdon sailing yacht COMANCHE has set sail for Charleston in South Carolina, representing the first leg of the passage to the popular Australia yacht charter destination – Sydney.

100-foot racing yacht COMANCHE under sail

100-foot racing yacht COMANCHE under sail - Onne van der Wal

The weather in Newport during the sea trials and for the offshore passage south was anything but glorious, but by all accounts, superyacht COMANCHE is already starting to deliver impressive performances.

Superyacht COMANCHE - front view

Superyacht COMANCHE - front view - Image by Onne van der Wal

COMANCHE Yacht - aft view

COMANCHE Yacht - aft view - Image by Onne van der Wal

Although COMANCHE superyacht’s performance data is still being kept under wraps, racing skipper Ken Read has been wearing a rather broad smile lately.

COMANCHE superyacht from above

COMANCHE superyacht from above - Image by Onne van der Wal

Super yacht COMANCHE - Crew

Super yacht COMANCHE - Crew - Image by Onne van der Wal

The 100ft pre-preg carbon racing wonder was launched at Hodgdon’s shipyard in East Boothbay, Maine, just a few short weeks ago. With super yacht COMANCHE now officially on the way to Sydney, Hodgdon CEO Tim Hodgdon said: “All of us at Hodgdon are proud to have been associated with this important build, and we wish Jim, Kristy, Kenny and the entire crew all the best for Sydney-Hobart and all of their racing ventures.”

NZ Marine announces strong entries for 2015 New Zealand Millennium Cup

October 31, 2014

NZ Marine is thrilled to announce that the 2015 New Zealand Millennium Cup is lining up to be one of the best editions of the event yet.  Entries are looking strong for the January 2015 start, with big name vessels, comprising charter yacht Bliss, Janice of Wyoming, superyacht Silencio, sailing yacht Sassafras and luxury yacht Silvertip, all lining up to race around the islets of the Bay of Islands.

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Beautiful Perini Navi-built sailing yacht Silencio, joins the regatta fresh from a South Pacific cruise, to join the battle for the Cup which has seen Silvertip, Bliss and Janice of Wyoming go head-to-head in several previous regattas.

Five-time circumnavigator, Silencio yacht, comes to the race with experience under her belt. The 50-metre Perini Navi is fresh from a run of successful regattas which include taking third in class at this February’s St Barth’s Bucket and victory in the 2013 Perini Navi Cup.

Superyacht SILENCIO under sail

Superyacht SILENCIO under sail

Joining her is 34.2-metre Royal Huisman superyacht Sassafras, with new EC6 carbon rigging by sponsor Southern Spars. The sloop was designed by Fontaine-Hood for comfort over long distances as well as power under sail, and organisers are very much looking forward to seeing that power demonstrated as the fleet weaves through the Bay of Islands. Other entries include Alloy Yachts’ Janice of Wyoming, and Yachting Development’s Bliss and Silvertip, who are all excited to go head-to-head once more in New Zealand waters.

First ever Ibiza Rendezvous Superyacht Regatta a Huge Success

October 29, 2014

The inaugural Ibiza Rendezvous regatta was hosted by the fabulous Ibiza yacht charter destination from October 8 to 11, 2014. Sailing yacht Windfall, charter yacht Maria Cattiva, Havana, Clan VIII, Aloha-J of Cariba and Silver Spray were welcomed to the exclusive 5 Blue Star Marina Ibiza, where the race is now to be held annually. It was an amazing line-up of some beautiful superyachts, each with her own individual style, perfectly matching the essence of the enchanting Ibiza.

Ibiza Rendezvous Superyacht Regatta 2014 Day 2

Ibiza Rendezvous Superyacht Regatta 2014 Day 2

Owners, guests and crews were welcomed to the Rendezvous Village with an Ibiza style dance show, drinks and tasty finger food as the sun set spectacularly over the beautiful old walled town of Ibiza. Situated at the end of the dock next to Calma Bistro, the location was second to none in the middle of the port with stunning views and boats lined up stern to the dock, the view as portrayed in Anna Boulton’s quirky official regatta painting.

Race Day 1 started with the first boat away at 13.00 in a pursuit format, slowest starting first and the fastest last. The course was approximately 20 miles with a steady breeze from the southwest. First over the line was Windfall, with the boats getting back in time for the ‘Dock Party’. Happy Hour drinks were in full swing by the time the last yacht came in, with the local singer Mimi getting the party underway with her soulful voice while guests enjoyed a well earned supper and sipped deliciously chilled rosé under the stars. The much anticipated fastest bowline tying competition took place on the dockside and was won by Calvin Champ, living up to his name and winning a free entry to next year’s regatta for Silver Spray.

Ibiza Rendezvous Superyacht Regatta 2014 Day 3

Ibiza Rendezvous Superyacht Regatta 2014 Day 3

The next day the second Pursuit Race started with a steady breeze, the course set from Es Cavallet beach, round Isla Espardel and finishing off the harbour entrance. Clan VIII came in first with the last three boats finishing within 47 seconds of each other; Aloha J of Cariba, with the two maritime students on board from South Africa sponsored by Marine Inspirations, Peter de Savary´s Silver Spray and, not quite catching them at the line, was the fastest boat in the fleet, the Southern Wind, Windfall. At this point the competition was wide open as any of the top four yachts could have taken the title. Back on the dock late afternoon there was great discussion about the days racing between the yacht owners, their guests and captains who all were invited for an intimate get-together by the committee for drinks in the regatta village as the sun set on another exciting days racing.

Saturday turned out to be as predicted, with light and fluky breezes. With much frustration the Race Committee couldn´t get their anemometer readings above what they needed which meant abandoning the race and heading off to Malibu Beach Club. Clan VIII were first to anchor and go ashore soon joined by the rest of the fleet for paella and drinks, enjoying a fun afternoon of a different kind. Getting back to the dock perfectly on time for the prize giving – by the way, not an easy task – with over 100 enthusiastic crew on a Saturday afternoon!

Superyacht Clan VIII - The overall winner of the Ibiza Rendezvous Superyacht Regatta 2014

Superyacht Clan VIII - The overall winner of the Ibiza Rendezvous Superyacht Regatta 2014

The results were therefore unchanged from Friday, with the overall winner of the first Ibiza Rendezvous regatta Clan VIII being presented the official painting by the Mayoress of Ibiza, Virginia Mari Rennesson. Maria Cattiva received the 2nd prize from Carmen Ferrer, the Minister of Tourism and third was awarded to Havana by Daniel Mari the General Manager of Marina Ibiza. Silver Spray was awarded the “Caracol” (snail) prize.  Signed copies of the regatta poster were sold for the official charity Asociacion Ondine and the remaining limited edition posters are now available online. After the prize giving and drinks on the dockside, the Ibiza Rendezvous “Closing Party” was held at The Harbour Club on the beach with guests dancing the rest of the night away in true Ibiza fashion, many finishing off the evening at the KM5 Closing Party – a fantastic way to end the season in style!

The goal of the IR team was always to take the event back to the original roots of regattas with the emphasis on fun, bringing together the owners and crews with some safe sailing and good parties. Speaking to some of the entrants these are a few of the comments received;

Ibiza Rendezvous Superyacht Regatta 2014

Ibiza Rendezvous Superyacht Regatta 2014

Dave Evans, Captain of superyacht Clan VIII; Overall Winner: “It is an honour for all of us on Clan VIII to be the victors of the inaugural Ibiza Rendezvous. The event was enjoyed by owner, guests and crew alike and was, as billed, a return to the ‘fun’ regattas of the old days. Ibiza as a venue can throw a party like no other Island and this one was no exception. We look forward to coming back from our summer cruising in Northern Europe to defend our title – see you, same time same place, 2015!”

Peter de Savary, Owner of luxury yacht Silver Spray; Winner of the Caracol (snail) prize: “A wonderful regatta…all the organisation was terrific, the entertainment was marvellous and I shall certainly be back next year and encourage other sailors to join in.”

Nacho Lewin, Captain of Havana yacht; Third place: “A really nice way to end the season, see some friends and make some new ones. I hope we can come back next year and have as much fun as we did this year.”

From the Headmaster at Lawhill Maritime Academy regarding Marine Inspirations charity who brought over the 2 students from South Africa to sail: “What a truly magnificent opportunity that the boys have been given. Besides the fabulous sailing in idyllic conditions, they have also had the opportunity to explore ashore, extensively broadening their horizons to history, to another country and to the yachting world….You have enabled them to transcend their relatively small worlds….and in doing so, have enriched their lives.”

It was indeed a tremendous effort from all involved in such a short space of time. Having great media partners helped spread the word effectively so thanks to The Islander, Yachting Matters, Yachting World and Supersail World. Deckers supplied the IR team and crew with shirts and special thanks for Dani Mari Port Captain of Marina Ibiza and his team of marineros who were the perfect hosts, with full support from Club Nautico Ibiza, the Port Authority, Government and Tourist Board. In all, Ibiza welcomed the regatta with open arms.

Thank you also to the Race Committee John Grandy (of GWM Racing), Jim Teeters for setting fair ratings and Monica Recchia (representing Club Nautico Ibiza) for interesting courses. It was a true pleasure to bring the first superyacht event to the island – next year is already shaping up to be a larger event with six yachts already confirmed. Big thanks to the owners and crew for supporting us in our first year. Dates are set for next year October 7th – 10th 2015, open to all yachts 20m+ cruising, racing and classic. Hope to see you there!

Many thanks to all sponsors and collaborators

Drinks sponsored by Peters & May, Horizon Marine Electronics, Doyle Sails Palma, Absolute Boat Care. Food by Global Yacht Services, Rose sponsored by Léoub Rosé and supplied by The Wine Man. The Ibiza Rendezvous Village was decorated by La Maison while essential morning coffee was supplied by Lavazza. With thanks also to collaborators Bufete Morell – tax & legal advisers, Southern Wind and marketing from Brown&Blonde.

Sailing yacht CLAN VIII wins Ibiza Rendezvous and joins superyacht P2 in the Perini Navi 2014 Hall of Fame

October 28, 2014

Measuring 45 meters in length, the majestic Perini Navi sailing yacht Clan VIII has won the first edition of the Ibiza Rendezvous, the new superyacht regatta that was hosted by the azure waters of the fabulous Ibiza yacht charter destination from October 8 to 11, 2014. Superyacht Clan VIII scored the podium on the Day 1 with a third place , and jumped up to first place in the second and final race.

Perini Navi superyacht Clan VIII

Perini Navi superyacht Clan VIII

The overall results had luxury yacht Clan VIII first followed by charter yacht Maria Cattiva, Havana, superyacht Windfall, Aloha J and Silver Spray.

Clan VIII yacht’s victory comes just 6 weeks after charter yacht P2’s exploits at the Newport Bucket where she had 3 bullets, scoring the overall Bucket victory along with first place in the Gazelle class. Other Bucket participants included charter yacht Meteor, charter yacht Kawil and superyacht Marie, Wild Horses yacht and luxury yacht Tempus Fugit and Altair yacht.

Perini Navi P2 -  Main

Perini Navi P2 - Main

Congratulations to Clan VIII Team and P2 Team.

Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 marked by exceptional conditions and exceptional endeavour

October 27, 2014

The recently concluded 35th anniversary edition of the popular Rolex Middle Sea Race was one to remember. Not only for international fleet that, for the third consecutive year, set a record number of entries, but also for the array of conditions that the yachts faced. From no wind to too much; from flat calm to turbulent seas; from going nowhere to flying fast & furious: the 606-nm mythical racecourse offered everything.  The worthy winner had to conquer the elements as well as the competition. Exceptional challenges bring out the best in exceptional characters. The overall winner of the 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race has become Lee Satariano’s Maltese J/122 Artie yacht.

ARTIE (MLT) crossing the finish line in Marsamxett Harbour to become winner of the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 - Photo by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

ARTIE (MLT) crossing the finish line in Marsamxett Harbour to become winner of the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

122 yachts from 24 nationalities ranging in size from 9.5 to 30.5 metres gathered at the start of the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014. Twenty-three more yachts than the previous record set in 2013. “Having a larger fleet and different nationalities is satisfying, because it means that the popularity of the race is not only increasing in numbers but extending to many places,” enthused Godwin Zammit, Commodore of race organizers, Royal Malta Yacht Club.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race was first run in 1968 and Rolex has been the title sponsor since 2002. On Saturday 18 October, the cannons of Valletta’s Saluting Battery overlooking Grand Harbour marked the start of the 2014 race under a clear sky, a subtle southerly breeze and the watchful gaze of a sizeable crowd.

Full of corners

The 606-nm racecourse comprises an anticlockwise circumnavigation of Sicily, starting and finishing in Malta. From the start, the fleet heads north through the Strait of Messina before passing to port Stromboli, the Aeolian and Egadi islands, Pantelleria and Lampedusa, and finally returning through the Comino Channel to the finish off Marsamxett Harbour.

According to Francesco de Angelis, tactician on defending champion B2 from Italy: “The difficulty of this race is that you never know what the wind is going to do. It’s a long one, with a lot of corners, and the scenario is always changing. You know the wind you will start with, but you don’t know what you will find along the way. It is never easy.”

For Tom Addis, navigator on the 100-ft Maxi yacht Esimit Europa 2: “The thing about this course is that you get all angles. There is always something extreme -  it is never an easy 10-15 knots of wind race!” Addis took line honours at 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart with this same boat when it was Neville Crichton’s Alfa Romeo. Other than the similar length of their racecourses, and that both are sponsored by Rolex, there are very little similarities between both races.” It would soon become clear that the Mediterranean had decided to argue with Addis’ opinion.

ESIMIT EUROPA 2 (SLO) crosses the finish line to claim line honors for the 4th time  - Photo by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

ESIMIT EUROPA 2 (SLO) crosses the finish line to claim line honors for the 4th time - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Slow motion

The wind at the start was a light southerly. The first night at sea saw the fleet struggling to make ground towards the Strait of Messina. Concentration, attentive trimming, correct sail selection, precise helming and minimizing unnecessary movements were the key to getting anything out of the conditions.

Dire Strait

Twenty-four hours into the race, and only the leader had passed through the Strait. The Jochen Schümann-skippered line honours favourite Esimit Europa 2 covered just 215-nm in the first complete day of racing. By noon she was 10-nm from Stromboli struggling to make six knots. Rán, Shockwave and B2, the next yachts on the course, were still tacking the Strait, some 30 miles behind.

“The first night of this race is a very tricky and tactical affair,” explained Ian Moore, navigator on Italian Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino, one of the faster entries. “You go straight for the corner of Sicily but as soon as you have got there you begin thinking how do I enter the Strait?” Vincenzo Onorato’s boat would be the fifth to pass into the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Vanishing Hope

Some twenty-four hours later and Esimit Europa 2 had still yet to pass the halfway point. Most of the fleet was wallowing 100 nautical miles astern. The second night proved another opportunity for crews to hone their ability to deal with little or no wind. As more yachts rounded Stromboli, some diverted north in the search of breeze. The fact remained that everyone was barely moving. Esimit Europa’s hopes of overturning the 47 hour, 55 minute and 3 second race record (set by American Maxi Rambler in 2007) evaporated in the still heat.

Lee Satariano and crew of ARTIE (MLT) receiving the Rolex Middle Sea Race trophy and Rolex timepiece - Photo by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

Lee Satariano and crew of ARTIE (MLT) receiving the Rolex Middle Sea Race trophy and Rolex timepiece - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Norse Hunter

The fourth day started with good news for Niklas Zennström’s sailing yacht Rán, as the Swedish Maxi 72 became the provisional overall leader after a productive third night at sea. On rounding Favignana, Rán had followed Esimit Europa 2’s strategy of hugging the western Sicilian shoreline. When Esimit was brought to another standstill approaching Pantelleria, Rán reduced the lead to a mere 5-nm. Later that morning the gap would widen again as the leaders finally hit double digits. Meanwhile, the remainder were still labouring to pass Palermo on the northern coast of Sicily.

Four the Record Book

Esimit Europa 2 used the building breeze to confirm her status as favourite for line honours, finally crossing the finish line in Malta’s Marsamxett Harbour at 22:47.05 CEST on Tuesday night. The Slovenian Maxi completed the course in 3 days, 10 hours, 42 minutes and 5 seconds. This fourth line honours win, following victories in 2010, 2011 and 2012, set a new record for the Rolex Middle Sea Race: some compensation for failing to better the course record.

Two hours later, Niklas Zennström’s Rán arrived in Malta. “All you can do is try to win your class and hope that the weather is in your favour,” commented Swedish owner and skipper. “As always, Team Rán prepared the boat and raced to a very high standard, so we can be happy with our performance.”

Game Changer

After three quiet nights, a dramatic change in conditions occurred late on the fifth day. The wind built progressively from the northwest. Storm force winds began to sweep the course and the face of the race changed, just as most yachts were reaching the exposed westernmost point at Favignana.

GYR Scarlet Oyster reported 48 knots of wind just before retiring with a broken rudder. The German crew on the 48-ft Sjambok reported a massive gust of 60 knots. Grey Goose sent photographic evidence of its instruments recording 50 knots. With the hours of darkness exceeding daylight it was a long and difficult night.

Proof of the extraordinarily treacherous conditions lies in the eventual number of retirees – 71 – and the litany of damage reported by the fleet, even close to the finish. “The pin of our keel failed just as we left the Comino channel”, reported Portuguese skipper Diogo Caiolla, on the Swiss 42-ft prototype Kuka-Light. French yacht Teasing Machine lost her mast 20 miles from the line.

For those still racing the building wind also brought opportunity. The race conditions now favoured a small boat. Which one would depend upon a combination of seamanship, tactics and nerve. Artie’s Sebastien Ripard offered an insight into the dilemma: “We have wind gusting over 40 knots and 30-foot waves. The game plan has been a mixture of pushing as hard as we can but also protecting the boat, so we have been taking it a bit easier in the big gusts of over 40 knots and then going for it when the wind speed drops a little.”

As crews reached the finish line, their faces were a mix of elation, exhaustion, relief and above all a huge sense of achievement.

122 – a lucky number

Lee Satariano’s J/122 Artie crossed the line at 00:45CEST on Thursday, after 4 days, 13 hours, 35 minutes and 05 second of racing. Her nearest rival in Class would finish 8 hours behind on both elapsed and corrected time. Later that morning, with several yachts still racing the Royal Malta Yacht Club made an official announcement declaring the Maltese team could not be beaten and had won the race overall.

An overwhelmed Satariano commented: “I can’t believe it. To win such a prestigious race, one of the most high level offshore races in the world, being a local boat and a local team is a great achievement.” Behind the delight was the knowledge of a job well done: “Having had the opportunity to reflect on the race, even more important than winning was the achievement of actually finishing. It was a very, very tough race.” This is the second title for Artie in three years, after victory in 2011, and the seventh Maltese victory in 35 editions. Fittingly, in the year when a record 122 boats started the race, it was 12.2m yacht that won.

Saturday’s final prizegiving was a true occasion. Not only was it an opportunity to praise the victors as they received the Rolex Middle Sea Race trophy and Rolex timepiece in recognition of their huge achievement, but it was also a chance to acknowledge the herculean determination and perseverance of everyone who had participated.

The 36th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on 17 October 2015.