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Maserati takes Multihull Line Honours at Rolex Middle Sea Race

Maserati crosses the finish line in Ta' Xbiex to claim Multihull Line Honours. Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Maserati Multi70 (ITA), skippered by Giovanni Soldini, crossed the finish line of the 2020 Rolex Middle Sea Race at the Royal Malta Yacht Club to take Multihull Line Honours at 20:41:31 CEST last night in an elapsed time of two days, eight hours 31 minutes 31 seconds.

Mana (ITA), owned by Riccardo Pavoncelli, finished fifteen minutes behind after a closely fought battle around the course.

When we left the Rolex Middle Sea Race monohull fleet on Sunday, a handful of participants had rounded the mark at Stromboli. 24 hours later, there is only one yacht left to get around the landmark: Carsten Sommer’s Logoff. The German crew was subjected to a real Messina Strait experience in the small hours of yesterday morning and has 13nm to run.

E1, skippered Zbigniew Gutkowski, on his way back to the finish line. Photo: Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

As predicted, the wind conditions to the north of Sicily were light and fickle during Sunday night and throughout yesterday. Every boat has experienced some form of park up in little or no wind.

The length and extent of the disruption has varied. Some boats appearing to escape relatively unscathed, others overwhelmingly frustrated.

At the front of the monohull fleet, a fascinating duel continues to develop.

At the Favignana transit point, the gap between I Love Poland and Marton Josza’s Wild Joe was around 0.5nm and three minutes on the water, with Wild Joe seven hours ahead on corrected time.

An enthralling race to the finish beckons.

There appears to be a thin slither of wind from the north on the eastern side of the Sicily Strait offering reasonable pressure down to Pantelleria. The slither looks likely to diminish in strength overnight, while turning more easterly in direction before building again.

At the same time, the situation around Lampedusa at the bottom of the course looks particularly sketchy.

When the two boats passed Stromboli on Sunday afternoon, they were separated by approximately 10nm. That distance was maintained until the Polish VO70, skippered by Zbigniew Gutkowski, was abeam the Aeolian island of Alicudi.

At this point she fell into a hole, speed dropping off rapidly, while the Hungarian Reichel/Pugh design kept on moving, almost slipping into the lead until they too sank into the quicksand.

I Love Poland’s lead had compressed to three miles as the two started moving.

Freccia Rossa sails its way at the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Photo: Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

By San Vito lo Capo, the gap had shrunk still further. Twenty nautical miles back, Eric de Turckheim’s Teasing Machine (FRA/IRC 2) and Vadim Yakimenko’s Freccia Rossa (RUS/IRC 2) are keeping pace despite also experiencing a testing night.

Passing Favignana just before 4pm, the pair were chasing hard.

The impressive IRC 3 entry, Dominique Tian’s Tonnerre de Glen (FRA), continues to forge a path hard in the heels of the larger Balthasar (BEL/IRC2).

Tonnerre passed San Vito lo Capo at 3.30pm, far in advance of her immediate competitor Carl-Peter Forster’s Aquila 45 Katsu, 34nm behind, and outpacing her bigger rivals Hagar V (ITA), Sisi-the Austrian Ocean Race Project and The Kid Mermaid (FRA).

There is real excitement among the Maltese boats. The desire to be first boat home is strong and there are three, possibly four, boats in contention despite being in different classes.

Lee Satariano’s Artie III (IRC 3) led the Podesta siblings’ Elusive 2 (IRC 4) around Stromboli at 9.45pm on Sunday. The two continued on towards Trapani locked together.

Then, at just before 11.30pm, Jonathan Gambin’s Ton Ton Laferla and Ramon Sant Hill’s Ben Estates Comanche Raider passed the volcanic island.

From Salina, things became a bit of a lottery and by Alicudi, some 20nm on, Artie, Elusive and Ton Ton were virtually line abreast.

At 5pm, Elusive had managed to establish a clear lead over Artie, 5nm to the north east, with Ton Ton only marginally behind, two miles to the south. Comanche Raider continues to push, but has fallen away.

Towards the back of the fleet, Dave Latham on the Reflex 38 Intuition, the sole GBR flagged yacht in the race, reported in from just north of Filicudi: “We are currently at the bottom of a snake in this game of snakes and ladders.”

Jan Scharnetsky and Lars Gerchow, the double-handed crew racing the Dehler 30 One Design, Atlas, also off Filicudi messaged in: “Sunset was a true redemption on Sunday evening after a tough passage through the Messina Strait!”

I Love Poland. Photo: Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Jonathan Camilleri Bowman, skippering, Maltese Falcon sent in a video report: “Last 24 hours have been both interesting and amazing. A great start, nice and speedy up to Sicily. We lost some ground going to Messina, mainly due to some of the decisions we have taken!

“The strait proved quite tricky as usual, but we had some really good tactics helping us breeze through compared to some others. The team is happy, motivated and doing well. We are all happy to be here doing this amazing race. Thank you to the committee and the organisers.”

IRC Class Round Up

IRC 1

Wild Joe holds a two-hour lead over Aragon (NED) at the Favignana waypoint. The GPS tracker on E1 (POL) has stopped functioning so transit times are unavailable and Sisi (AUT) has to reach Palermo. Wild Joe and I Love Poland are closing in on the multihull Shockwave at Pantelleria.

IRC 2

Freccia Rossa and Teasing Machine are the only two yachts in class to have passed the transit at Favignana. Freccia Rossa has eked out a fragile lead of 19 minutes. Balthasar is another yacht whose GPS tracker is playing up, but according to an AIS plot is just off Levanzo, 27nm behind the leaders. Gregor Stimpfl’s Scuderia 65 Hagar V and Jean Pierre Dick’s JP54 The Kid Mermaid are on the approach to Palermo.

IRC 3

Tonnerre de Glen has continued to impress over 30 miles ahead of her class rivals. The closest on the water are Katsu, Kito de Pavant’s Class 40 Made in Midi and Artie.

IRC 4

Maltese First 45 Elusive 2, skippered by Aaron, Christoph & Maya Podesta has extended their class lead on the water to over 30 miles ahead of Marco Paolucci’s Italian Comet 45 Libertine. Luigi Stoppani’s Italian Frers Swan 48 Mia is still estimated to be third in class.

IRC 5

Jonathan Gambin’s Maltese Dufour 44R Ton Ton Laferla has pulled away from the rest of their class. Alexey Moskvin’s Russian J/122E Buran has found good breeze to place second, but the remainder of the class is making slow progress. Francesco Cerina, racing Giro 34 Lima double handed, has covered just 60 miles in the past 24 hours.

IRC 6

Timofey Zhbankov’s Russian JPK 10.80 Rossko still holds a handsome lead on the water. Leonardo Petti’s Italian J/109 Chestress leads the chasing pack, which includes Jean-Francois Nouel’s French Sun Fast 3200 Hakuna Matata and the J/109 Jubilee, raced double-handed by Gerald Boess & Jonathan Bordas.

IRC Double Handed

Natale Lia’s Mylius 14e55 Zenhea Takesha has taken pole position on the water. The Sicilian team took a hitch offshore north of Sicily and found good breeze. Marco Paolucci & Andrea Fornaro racing Libertine were second on the water with Jubilee in third.

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