Xpresso wins IRC honours
Sean Borg’s Xpresso emerged winner of the last race hosted by the Royal Malta Yacht Club for 2020, the Medcomms Round Malta Race.
Weather conditions, which were far worse than forecasted, saw only four boats finish the race.
The fleet left Marsamxett Harbour in winds reaching around 27 knots, however, that changed once they reached the western coast of Malta, where they had to contend with winds reaching approximately 45 knots and three-metre-high waves.
As Race Officer, Peter Dimech started the race.
It was a highly competitive start with Jonathan Gambin’s TonTon, Sean Borg’s Xpresso and Andrew Agius Delicata’s Vivace trying to come out on top and lead the fleet.
The trio was followed closely by Jean Forcione’s Middle C.
Thirty minutes into the race, despite having a good start, TonTon’s progress was thwarted when damage to the boat resulted in them having to retire.
Once the fleet rounded the Gozo Ferry Terminal, the strong north-westerly started to show its full force, reaching constant speeds of around 32-35 knots.
Xpresso maintained their lead, even when weather conditions saw a number of boats retire along the way. They were followed by Vivace, Jarhead – skippered by Emilie Gregory and Saul Vassallo, whilst in the cruiser class Mario Debono’s Janissah and Peter Ellul Vincenti’s Manana kept fighting on.
Vivace’s good run was put to rest when a squall near Filfla resulted in a rip on the mainsail.
Weather conditions being what they were, the crew took a decision to retire and limit the possibility of further damage and ensure safety to the crew.
With all boats having retired by then, it was a two-horse race between Xpresso and the young crew of Jarhead.
Jarhead skippered by Gregory and Vassallo enjoyed a good stretch.
With three relatively inexperienced sailors on board, the skippers took a cautious approach which saw them not only get through the race without any breakages but also one of the two boats in their class to finish the race.
In the end it was Xpresso’s race. The crew’s experience showed as was their determination to finish the last race of the year with a good result.
The Xp44 led the way for most of the course until the very end when Xpresso not only finished first but also took overall honours.
“Overall, it was a tough, crazy race,” Borg, the Xpresso skipper, said.
“At times we saw 49 knots of wind speed, so one can
imagine what hard work it was to keep the boat on course without any mishaps, but the crew worked exceptionally well, and it showed in the result.”
In the Cruiser Class, Peter Ellul Vincenti’s Manana was first to finish, however, Mario Debono’s Janissah, a regular participant in club events, won her first event placing on corrected time.
Commenting after the race, Debono explained that this was one of the most difficult races they took part in.
The wind was worse than forecast with gusts exceeding 40 knots and three metre waves, especially on the west coast of Malta. It was a test of endurance and seamanship for all who took part.
Debono and his crew took a beating, but the teamwork experienced was nothing short of great. Incidentally Debono’s son, Nicky Debono Drury, was also racing but on Jarhead.
“This race proved to be a perfect example of true grit and determination,” Race Officer Dimech said.
“A series of unfortunate damages put paid to some of the fleet’s effort to complete this gruelling race however, one really has to congratulate all finishers for enduring the tough conditions until the very end.”
Royal Malta Yacht Club Commodore Godwin Zammit expressed his gratitude towards Medcomms Ltd, for supporting this race once again.
A prize giving ceremony will be scheduled at a later date.
1. Xpresso (Sean Borg); 2. Jarhead (Emilie Gregory/Saul Vassallo).
1.Janissah (Mario Debono); 2. Manana (Peter Ellul Vincenti).