This year’s Rolex Middle Sea Race will kick off tomorrow. Azure skies as well as warm weather looks likely for the 33rd edition of the exciting 606-mile competition but best use of light winds could play a big part in deciding who becomes a winner of the race.
Tactical weather expert, Mike Broughton is a veteran on the Rolex Middle Sea Race. A previous class winner, Broughton has also tasted success in the Rolex Fastnet, Rolex Sydney Hobart and several Maxi yacht racing events.
“At the moment, the weather is being dominated by high pressure over central Italy. “ Commented Broughton. “This is slowly sliding south and should be over the centre of Sicily by the middle of Sunday, giving very light variable winds and tricky conditions for the first night and second day of racing.
It should be a fantastic start on Saturday with decent pressure from the southeast to get the fleet out of the wind shadows of Grand Harbour. After that it should be downwind sailing as they head off into the open sea towards Sicily, perhaps experiencing 7-13 knots of south easterly wind.
This pressure should hold all the way to Capo Passero but it could be a very difficult night with little wind. As the fleet gets near to Messina, the funnel effect will tend to produce breeze from the south but again we are looking at light winds, so still very tricky. The five-mile stretch between Messina and Stromboli is always an area of variable wind speed and direction and this year is no different.
Once the yachts are through Messina, it is looking likely to be 3-10 knots from the northwest or northeast, along the northern coast of Sicily. The light winds look likely to hold through most of Monday when we are likely to see a change.
Exactly when this change comes is questionable; weather models are conflicting but generally speaking we should see more wind from the northwest at some time on Monday. By Tuesday, we could see even more wind, possibly as much as 20 knots but that is a long time in the future and I am only 60% confident that will happen.
Broughton’s tip for The Rolex Middle Sea Race?
“I am going to go for my good friend Christian Ripard co-skipper of Artie-RTFX to win again for the second year running. I don’t think there is any chance of a race record and the forecast weather is definitely looking favouring the smaller boats.