112 boats registered to take part in Rolex Middle Sea Race
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