The battle for line honours was a hard-fought, with three of the most powerful race yachts in contention, but ultimately the enthralling finish was won by Comanche who crossed the finish line some six hours ahead of Rambler’s 2007 race record and nearly two hours ahead of their closest rival, 125 footer ‘Skorpios’.
Ahead of the race, Comanche’s skipper Mitch Booth was confident the race record would be broken. His doubt was how the Comanche crew would perform against the opposition.
“One of the key points of the race was going into the Strait of Messina,” he said. “We thought whoever popped out the other end first would have a big advantage with a building breeze on the other side.” Managing to stay close to Skorpios gave the crew confidence. “After passing Stromboli we felt we were in the game with Skorpios.” commented Booth. “We had to sail a smart tactical race to stay in contact. We had a few problems with some sail damage after a wipe out which set us back a bit, but Comanche is really fun to sail especially when the breeze is up and there is a lot of downwind reaching.” Apparently, the new owner just loved every minute of it. “No better way to start racing offshore than the Rolex Middle Sea Race this year,” added Booth.
Comanche’s navigator, Will Oxley, was keen to share the kudos for a job well done. “We had a very strong afterguard. Mitch Booth, Kyle Langford and Tom Slingsby all contributed to the decision-making of the boat,” he emphasised. He went on to explain the final critical moment in the race came at the north-west corner of Sicily, just as with Argo. “We tried hard to stay to the east of the low pressure system rolling across the racetrack until the western end of Sicily,” he explained.
“None of the meteorological models were lining up. There was a lot of thunderstorm activity and a number of large wind holes to be negotiated. We had to make a plan and analyse what we think was going to happen. We used whatever data we could to make sense of it all. It really paid off.” Comanche was well-positioned to take the chance, and rolled into a lead it would never relinquish.
View the full results here.
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by Danielle Burridge/Doyle Sails