112 boats reg­is­tered to take part in Rolex Mid­dle Sea Race

Malta Independent - - SPORT - Henry Brin­cat

One hun­dred and 12 boats were reg­is­tered by yes­ter­day to take part in the forth­com­ing Rolex Mid­dle Sea Race start­ing from Grand Har­bour in Val­letta next Satur­day. This was an­nounced yes­ter­day by Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC) Com­modore God­win Zammit who said the or­gan­is­ers were happy to have main­tained such a good num­ber of par­tic­i­pants, eight of which will be Mal­tese.

The Rolex Mid­dle Sea Race is a highly rated off­shore clas­sic, of­ten men­tioned in the same breath as the Rolex Fast­net, The Rolex Sydney - Ho­bart and New­port-Ber­muda as a “must do” race.

The Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Rac­ing Club co-founded the race in 1968 and 2016 will be the 37th edi­tion. Save for a break be­tween 1984 and 1995 the event has been run an­nu­ally ini­tially at­tract­ing 25-30 yachts, how­ever in re­cent years, the num­ber of en­tries has risen sharply to 122 boats in 2014 thanks to a new Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee who man­aged to bring Rolex on board as ti­tle spon­sor for the Mid­dle Sea Race.

Zammit said the start will again be from Val­letta’s Grand Har­bour and this will pro­vide a spec­ta­cle for the thou­sands of on­look­ers from the sev­eral van­tage points across the bas­tions.

Zammit also said that a new three-year deal had been signed with Rolex as main spon­sors of the Mid­dle Sea Race.

Peter Dimech, the prin­ci­pal race of­fi­cer, said the event starts off to­day with the short Coastal Race – an ex­er­cise es­pe­cially for those new crew mem­bers who have never sailed to­gether.

On Fri­day there will be a skippers’ brief­ing dur­ing which the weather fore­cast for the fol­low­ing days should also be known more or less.

The first class start on Satur­day is at 11am.

Among the par­tic­i­pants this year are some qual­ity top world class boats, among them Phaedo 3, last year’s mul­ti­hull line hon­ours win­ner, and Maserati, which will be us­ing its hy­dro­foils for the first ever time – they can lift the boat out of the wa­ter!

Dimech added that there will be three mul­ti­hulls this year, 17 big (70 feet) boats an­other 17 4050 feet boats, with the re­main­der be­ing the small boats.

Said Dimech: “This year’s en­try is cer­tainly varied and we are ex­pect­ing strong com­pe­ti­tion for all the class wins.”

When asked about the weather fore­cast, Dimech said it was too early to make pre­dic­tions, but from ex­pe­ri­ence it could turn out to be an­other ex­cit­ing race.

Me­dia of­fi­cer Louay Habib said 25 coun­tries are be­ing rep­re­sented in this year’s race and this shows the great in­ter­est for the event.

He said the Mid­dle Sea Race has be­come to be known as the most beau­ti­ful off­shore race in the world, go­ing round beau­ti­ful is­lands and vol­ca­noes apart from start­ing and fin­ish­ing in Malta.

“It is so pop­u­lar be­cause it is a per­fect course. No one can tell what will hap­pen – ev­ery boat has a chance to win,” said Habib.

Peter Valentino will be the Jury chair­man. Ad­dress­ing re­porters yes­ter­day, he said his com­mit­tee in­cludes six mem­bers from four dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

“We all have in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence in this sport, but this has never been a dif­fi­cult job as the sailors ac­cept our de­ci­sions,” he added.

Also ad­dress­ing the me­dia was Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for Sport Chris Agius who said he was pleased to at­tend next Satur­day’s start in Grand Har­bour, some­thing which he de­scribed as fan­tas­tic.

He said re­la­tions be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the RMYC were close and this was a good sign for sail­ing which is now host­ing sev­eral boats. “It is also an op­por­tu­nity for the RMYC to pos­si­bly or­gan­ise more races in fu­ture,” he said.

Agius said he was sure the event will con­tinue to grow and will be­come big­ger than it is to­day.

Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary Chris Agius, to­gether with RMYC Com­modore God­win Zammit, Prin­ci­pal race of­fi­cer Peter Dimech, and me­dia of­fi­cer Louay Habib

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