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2016 Rolex Middle Sea Race: The Big Picture

Artie. Photo Credit: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

25 October 2016

107 yachts started the 2016 Rolex Middle Sea Race with 94 yachts racing for the overall prize of the Rolex Middle Sea Trophy, awarded to the best yacht racing under the IRC Rating system. There are six individual IRC classes, and winning class at the Rolex Middle Sea Race is a primary goal among the teams. Once that is achieved, the prevailing weather conditions will influence which class produces the overall winner.

At 14:00 CET on the fourth day of the race only two of the yachts vying for the overall prize had finished. Eight yachts have retired, leaving 84 still racing. While only a dozen yachts have rounded the most southerly mark of the course, Lampedusa, nearly 50 have passed Pantelleria. Those with strong claims on the class podiums are becoming more apparent. Maltese hopes for the race remain optimistic.

Aaron, Christoph & Maya Podesta's Maltese First 45 Elusive 2 was leading IRC 4 at Pantelleria, by just under 20 minutes on corrected time, from another locally based yacht - Timmy Camilleri & Josef Schultheis' Xp-44 XP-ACT. In IRC 5, Lee Satariano's Maltese J/122 Artie, co-skippered by Christian Ripard and Sebastian Ripard, was leading the class by just under 40 minutes from Laurent Charmy's French J/111 SL Energies Fastwave. Yves Grosjean's French J/133 Jivaro is striving to keep in touch, currently lying third in Artie's class.

In terms of the main prize, it is a little early to be making firm predictions. There are three days of racing left, and over three-quarters of the fleet still on the course. However, Vincenzo Onorato's Italian Cookson 50, Mascalzone Latino is currently in pole position. Noel Racine's French JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew is still racing but is also looking like a possible winner. Maltese hopes probably rest with Artie, which was third overall at Pantelleria.

The weather conditions have been a moveable feast, gorging and starving the fleet throughout the past three days. Unsurprisingly, they look set to change again and perhaps decisively in favour of those yachts closest to the finish. The south easterly wind that has provided a relatively quick passage from Palermo to the finish for the faster yachts is due to fade overnight.

A terrific battle is building for the first Maltese boat to finish the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Artie was just one mile ahead of XP-ACT with Sean Borg's Xpresso, and the Podesta family racing Elusive 2, in a tight group of Maltese yachts heading for Lampedusa.

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