Mal­tese Suc­cess in the Rolex Mid­dle Sea Race

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

De­spite its small size, the Mal­tese na­tion has a long and proud par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Rolex Mid­dle Sea Race. It has pro­vided over­all race win­ners on seven oc­ca­sions, most re­cently in 2014. With the ul­ti­mate prize go­ing to Italy, this year’s suc­cess is de­fined by some im­pres­sive class wins and then of course the all-im­por­tant brag­ging rights within the lo­cal fleet.

In terms of prizes, the Trans­port of Malta Tro­phy for the first Mal­tese boat to fin­ish the race with a Mal­tese skip­per and a ma­jor­ity of Mal­tese crew was won by Sean Borg's Xp-44 Xpresso.

The win­ner of the Arthur Podesta Tro­phy for the best cor­rected time un­der IRC for an el­i­gi­ble Mal­tese boat goes to two-time over­all win­ner, Lee Satar­i­ano's J/122 Ar­tie, which topped IRC Class 5. For much of the race, Ar­tie looked to be in with a chance of se­cur­ing what would be a re­mark­able third win – some­thing achieved by only one other yacht, Nita IV, be­tween 1978 and 1980. How­ever, as the race pro­gressed con­di­tions be­came un­favourable to the less pow­er­ful yachts and Ar­tie ended up fin­ish­ing ninth over­all.

An­other class win­ner was Mal­tese build­ing con­trac­tor, Jamie Sam­mut. Tak­ing part in his fourth Rolex Mid­dle Sea Race aboard his So­laris 42 Unica, Sam­mut chose to com­pete dou­ble­handed this year. Rac­ing with John Cachia the pair beat nine other crews to win the Dou­ble Handed Class at their first at­tempt. They are the first Mal­tese en­try to win this class for six years.

“We had ev­ery­thing from no wind for hours to 28 knots of wind on the nose. It feels just bril­liant to have won.” smiled Sam­mut. “John was the per­fect sail­ing part­ner, he never let me down, he was push­ing all the time, some­times more than me. Rac­ing two handed means that for most of the time, you are alone on deck, while the other per­son is sleep­ing. With a full crew there is a lot more re­spon­si­bil­ity but dou­ble handed there is mas­sive re­spect for and trust in your part­ner. It has been an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Skip­pered by Timmy Camil­leri, the Mal­tese Xp-44 XP-ACT fin­ished the Rolex Mid­dle Sea Race just be­fore sun­set on the fifth day of the 608-mile race, and was the first Mal­tese skip­per to fin­ish the race. This was Camil­leri's twenty-third Rolex Mid­dle Sea Race and this year he was rac­ing with an in­ter­na­tional crew from Den­mark, Great Bri­tain, Ire­land, Malta and the Nether­lands. A part­ner in a fam­ily med­i­cal prac­tice in Sliema, just a mile from the Royal Malta Yacht Club, Dr. Camil­leri was back at work the morn­ing after fin­ish­ing the race.

“As usual the race had a few tricks up its sleeve and like many boats, we ran out of wind about half way. When we fi­nally got go­ing we had an is­sue with the back­stay. It was frus­trat­ing be­cause we fi­nally had wind but we had to make a re­pair be­fore we could get go­ing again,” said Camil­leri, de­scrib­ing the race. “Later we also had an is­sue with our main­sail which cost us a lot of time. As a doc­tor and as a sailor you have to be ready for un­ex­pected is­sues and re­main pos­i­tive. It is im­por­tant to re­main calm and look for the so­lu­tion.”

“Ap­proach­ing the fin­ish, we had not had an in­ter­net con­nec­tion for some time so we did not know how we were do­ing. To get such a warm wel­come at the Royal Malta Yacht Club was just fan­tas­tic and to fin­ish the race just after peo­ple had fin­ished work for the day was good tim­ing,” con­tin­ued Camil­leri. “A lot of my pa­tients have been send­ing mes­sages of sup­port dur­ing the race and, over the years that I have done this race, they have got used to me not be avail­able. How­ever, they have also been watch­ing the tracker, so they know I am back and the phone has not stopped ring­ing!”

For more in­for­ma­tion visit the of­fi­cial race web­site: www.rolexmid­dle­sear­

Lee Satar­i­ano’s J/122 Ar­tie won the Ar­tur Podesta Tro­phy Photo: Kurt Ar­rigo

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