Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Gale-force Mistral Decimates Middle Sea Race

gale force mistral hits Middle Sea Race J/122 Wins IRC Doublehanded, J/122E 3rd IRC 5 Class!
(Valetta, Malta)- As can be the case in the infamous Rolex Middle Sea Race, forecasts can be either “spot-on” or simply way off the mark.  The 2017 edition had one of the simplest forecasts ever, light airs 3-8 kts from the east-southeast at the start, dying off by midnight, then a building mistral from the WNW increasing to 30-45 kts by midday Sunday.  The only boat to make it through the Straits of Messina between the island of Sicily and Messina on the mainland was the 88 ft super-maxi RAMBLER 88.  The rest of the fleet was kicked, literally, straight in the teeth by a fierce mistral sweeping across the long fetch of the Mediterranean, kicking up 15-20 ft seas in the form of a vicious “chop”- the breaking seas were making life miserable for the crews.  Over 70% of the fleet of eighty-five boats retired at some port or harbor along the spectacular shoreline of Sicily- many boats did not even make it to the Straits, simply stopping before they got there.

sunset on Malta raceThe Rolex Middle Sea Race, organized by the Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC), certainly bore all of the hallmarks and qualities of a Rolex-partnered offshore race- tough, challenging, pushing the levels of human endurance to the absolute limits of sanity. The 608nm course, principally a counter-clockwise circumnavigation of Sicily, proved to be too much for the vast majority of the fleet.

In the ultimate test of seamanship and living up to the challenge of the sea, just two of the six J/122s completed the course and the other three J/133s all retired.  As a result, winning the IRC Doublehanded Class was the J/122 STELLAR RACING TEAM, sailed by the incredible tough Russian duo of Dmitry Kondratyev & Alexander Grudnin.  They proved to be fast learners and up to the challenge, taking class honors as the ultimate survivors of the race!

J/122E Anita sailing Middle Sea RaceThen, in the fully-crewed IRC handicap divisions the IRC 5 Division saw the only other J/team to complete the race.  Not soon after taking delivery of their brand-new J/122E called ANITA, the Chilean team of owner/ skipper Nicolás Ibáñez Scott and crew of Juan Pablo Dominguez, Jordi Rabasa, Jorge Mendez, Didac Costa, and Rueben Castells, had to take her on a “shakedown cruise” and sail the qualifier race to be permitted to participate.  In the end, the Chileans were up to the challenge, guiding their newly-tuned J/122E to a bronze on the podium in their first ever attempt at the Rolex Middle Sea Race.  Interestingly, the J/122 STELLAR RACING TEAM placed just behind them in 4th place in the fully-crewed division!  Congratulations to both teams for their formidable performance under incredibly tough sailing conditions. Sailing photo credits- Rolex/ Kurt Arrigo.
For more Rolex Middle Sea Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.