Elusive 2 claims first bragging rights
Action at the 2016 Rolex Middle Sea Race got underway yesterday, Wednesday 19th October, with a 21-mile coastal race. Organised by the Royal Malta Yacht Club as a warm-up opportunity to put in some practice ahead of the main event which starts on Saturday, some 33 teams entered. Principal Race Officer Peter Dimech set a course offering various sailing angles and the race was sailed in decent breeze building from 8 to 15 knots during the race. Starting from Marsamxett Harbour, the first leg was downwind under spinnaker to the Valletta Fairway Buoy, followed by a reach to the Munxar Cardinal Buoy and a beat to Benghisa Cardinal Buoy off the south east corner of Malta. The fleet then returned on a reciprocal course back to Marsamxett. The First 45 Elusive 2 sailed by Podesta family from Malta came out on top as overall winners. The westerly breeze coming off Malta meant there were plenty of puffs and shifts all along the east and south east coast of the island for crews to take advantage of. Going offshore in search of stable breeze or looking for lifting pressure inshore proved the main tactical puzzle. With opportunities to sail different angles and play shifts caused by the land effects during the three to four hours of racing, the Coastal Race was a great rehearsal for the 608-mile offshore classic. Elusive 2, jointly skippered by siblings Aaron, Christoph and Maya Podesta, all members of the Royal Malta Yacht Club, completed the course in the quickest elapsed time as well as the best corrected time under IRC. Yves Grosjean’s French J/133 Jivaro was second overall and Nils Lindemann's X-p 44 Xpedite took third. Class winners were: Vasily Shumarin’s Raketa 1200 Belka 2 from Russia, Hartl & Wolf's doublehanded Austrian entry the J/109 2Hard, Vadim Sklyarov's Ukranian Dufour 45 Du4 and, of course, Elusive 2. Prizes were awarded last night in front of some 300 guests at the Rolex Middle Sea Race Owners' Reception & Coastal Race Prize Giving held at the historic Fort St. Angelo, overlooking Valletta's Grand Harbour. The next racing action at the 37th Rolex Middle Sea Race will be the offshore race start at 11.00 CEST on Saturday, 22 October. Social activities continue this evening with the Royal Malta Yacht Club's Crew Party. Catering for the hundreds of competitors in Malta for the race, along with race officials, volunteers and VIPs, the crew party is a great send-off for the crews with live band and DJdriven music adding to the festive atmosphere.
Maya Podesta, skipper of Elusive 2 being presented with overall winner's trophy by the Hon. Mr. Chris Agius, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport Photo: Rene Rossignaud