The 39th Rolex Middle Sea Race starts on the 20th October 2018. With this year marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of this remarkable race, the Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC) is anticipating its highest entry yet.
Some 30 yachts from 14 countries have already registered, well ahead of the usual pace. The record fleet stands at 122, set in 2014, and the RMYC has ambitions to topple this number.
The first race in 1968 saw a fleet of eight yachts cross the start line. Both race and organizing club have come a long way since that time. “This is an important year for the Rolex Middle Sea Race and the Royal Malta Yacht Club”, says Commodore Godwin Zammit. “Both club and race have grown enormously in stature since 1968. We are now regularly attracting over 100 boats from all corners of the world. Our proven ability to host a globally representative fleet demonstrates the strength of the RMYC, the extraordinary challenge of the racecourse and the attraction of offshore racing in general.”
Wishing to celebrate the special birthday, the RMYC is planning a number of efforts aimed at showcasing the rich history of the race, including the boats and people that sailed them, and the charm of the event’s island home. Malta. “We aim to mark the occasion in an indelible fashion,” advises RMSR Organizing Committee member, Georges Bonello DuPuis. “Our first success has been to secure the attendance of Josian, the Swan 36 that won the first race skippered by our club president, John Ripard. Josian’s current Italian owner, Eugenio Alphandery, was enthusiastic to return her to the scene of her most famous victory.” Reuniting former owner Ripard and Josian on Marsamxett Harbour will surely be an emotional highlight of the event.
Coincidentally, Valletta is European Capital of Culture in 2018 and the Rolex Middle Sea Race will feature strongly in the calendar of events supporting this initiative. The Valletta 2018 mission nicely reflects an essential spirit of the race: “When you live on an island, the horizon always holds the promise of new and exciting connections to be made, while the shore draws you back home to a wealth of detail that’s just waiting to be explored.”
A key feature of the Rolex Middle Sea Race has been its ability to capture the imagination and to draw crews back time and again to participate.
Each race is different, each participation adds to the experience. George David, who has taken Line Honours five times and holds the current course record, is forthright in his appreciation. Shortly, after crossing the finish line in 2017 he remarked: “This is the best racecourse in the world. It’s already on our calendar for 2018.”
As usual, the RMYC is looking forward to welcoming the perennial mix of professional and Corinthian crews, those making a welcome return as well as those on their first appearance. Currently, the most spectacular entrant is Nikata, the JVNB 115, which at 35-metres will be the biggest boat ever to start the race. Josian and Swedish entrant, the J/111 Blur, at a mere 11-metre provide a striking contrast. Other entries of note include the German Maxi72 Momo and the double-hander, Mandalay, which boasts Austrian two-time Olympian and former Volvo Ocean Race skipper Andreas Hanakamp as one half of its two-man crew.
More details on the events and activities surrounding the race will be released over the coming months.
by Maria Vella-Galea, RMYC