Kurt Arrigo / Rolex

Leaders into the breeze

Esimit Europa II and Mini Maxis on a charge in the Rolex Middle Sea Race

Tuesday October 23rd 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: Malta

At 3:45am this morning Niklas Zennstrom’s Rán finally turned south at Favignana, closely followed by Alessandro Rombelli’s Stig. By this time the Slovenian Maxi Esimit Europa 2 was long gone; by 0930 this morning she was just 50 miles from Lampedusa, 158 miles from the finish and is expected in Malta some time this evening.

Esimit Europa 2 is almost assured of line honours and Rán and Stig are also now finally on the fast road. However the battle for class honours and the overall IRC win is totally undecided. Last night the majority of the fleet was making slow progress along the top of Sicily in the whispering wind.

Reaching Favignana is crucial; the northwesterly breeze is running down the west of Sicily but not the north. Those that make Favigana can expect a significant increase in wind and in a downwind direction, dramatically increasing their speed to the finish.

In Class 4, Lee Satariano & Christian Ripard’s Artie RTFX is leading the class and has about 40 miles to go to make Favignana. The Maltese Champions will be using every means possible to speed their progress to the northwest corner of the course. Possibly their biggest threat to an overall win is now the Maxi yachts in front of them. Every hour that goes by the high performance yachts, Rán and Stig are speeding away, diminishing the corrected time lead that Artie RTF has built up over the last three days. Artie RTFX also has a threat from behind. Of the chasing pack in Class 4, Three Sisters, Pita Maha and Trustmarque Quokka look to be the biggest threat.

In Class 1, Rán’s average speed for the entire race has nearly doubled over night; propelled by the fresh nortwesterly wind Rán has also been powered up the rankings and is now the provisional leader of Class 1. However, Stig is just 5 miles behind this morning, but still poses a serious threat.

In Class 2, a pack of boats are approaching the crucial turning point of Favignana. Germana Tognella’s Cookson 50 Cantankerous looks to get there first and should extend on the fleet when they turn downwind. However, three other yachts are very much in contention, taking into account their ratings. Speedy, Hi Fidelity and Optimum 3 Aspida are very much in the hunt for class honours.

In Class 3, Natale Lia’s Zenhea Takesha had a sensational night. The all-Italian crew, mostly from Sicily, has pulled out a lead of several miles from Josef Schultheis and Paolo Semeraro's XP-ACT. Jonas Diamantino’s ILC 40 Comanche Raider Gasanmamo is enjoying a close battle on the water with Swan 56 Noonmark VI and the all-Maltese crew is still very much in contention after time correction. Jonas Diamantino this morning advised: “We are so close to Noonmark that we can hear their conversation. There was very little wind last night but the occasional puff of wind was used as best as we could. We have plenty of food and water but I would ask the Royal Malta Yacht Club to make sure the bar is fully stocked for are arrival!”

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