Yachting Malta is embarking on a very ambitious project that will provide the opportunity for Maltese sailors to represent their country in major international sailing regattas aboard the newly acquired boat ‘Viva Malta’. John Huber, chairman of Yachting Malta, gave more details on this initiative to Valhmor Camilleri…
Along the years, Maltese sailors have made a name for themselves in the Rolex Middle Sea Race which has established itself as one of the biggest regattas on the world sailing scene.
However, Maltese teams have always found it very difficult to compete in major regattas around the world due to spiralling financial costs it entails to take the boat and crew to an overseas race.
Now, that dream can become a reality for Maltese sailors thanks to the heavy investment made by Yachting Malta who are setting up a national sailing team who will have the opportunity to compete on a proper racing boat – the Cookson 50 Viva Malta.
“The idea behind the Viva Malta project came along when as Yachting Malta we had the idea of forming a sailing national team,” Huber told the Times of Malta.
“So far, we had never had the opportunity to compete in international regattas as a national team and we started looking how we could realise this dream. The first thing on the agenda was to buy a boat that would fulfil our requirements.
“I set up a commission, formed by technical people from the international sailing world, who agreed unanimously that the ideal boat to buy was a Cookson 50. We found one and successfully concluded negotiations.
“We acquired this boat with a sporting motivation, therefore we opened talks with SportMalta, and together we launched this project that will see the Malta Sailing Federation select the sailors to form the national team from the four sailing clubs in Malta.
“It’s important to point out that Yachting Malta is the owner of the boat but the sporting programme of the Viva Malta boat is under the responsibility of SportMalta and the Malta Sailing Federation.”
Huber said that sailors over the age of 18 will be eligible to compete on this boat, and that the selection process will be done through the sailing programme of the Malta Sailing Federation.
“Since you need a certain level of physical strength to handle this racing boat, sailors will have to be 18 years or over,” Huber said.
“This is a pure racing boat which is made up from carbon fibre. It will also have a unique feature for Malta which is a canting heel that will move according to the movement of the boat.
“The Malta Sailing Federation has a number of events and regattas and all participating sailors from the four sailing clubs in Malta will be included in rankings with the best performers selected to form part of the national team.
“However, it is important to point out that the national team will not be exclusive to a group of sailors. We will be using a revolving system that will give the opportunity to whoever is taking sailing seriously to represent Malta in major regattas.”
This project is likely to catch the imagination of many young sailors who are dreaming of racing in the world’s biggest races aboard a Maltese boat.
“Maltese sailors already have the opportunity to sail in one of the world’s biggest regattas in the Rolex Middle Sea Race,” Huber said.
“The next step now is to have a team that can sail abroad. We are looking at races such as the Barcolana, the FastNet or the Giraglia Cup just to name a few.
“Many times our sailing teams find it almost impossible to compete abroad as the financial costs to take the boat and the crew is too expensive for them. But with this project all the expenses will be dealt with by Yachting Malta.
“As I said during the official announcement our euphoria on this project is that we not only compete in overseas races but having Viva Malta at the start of these regattas will be a good advert for our country.
“One has to remember that the sailing world is full of people of a certain stature from the finance and manufacture sectors and this can help to promote our country through these races.”
Huber said that Yachting Malta were now working on the branding of the Viva Malta boat and then preparations will start for the formal launch.
“The boat will have a boat manager that will take of the boat,” Huber said.
“So far, the Viva Malta boat has 22 sails that can be used in different conditions, so you need someone who is continuously making sure that they are in a good condition.”