Maltese Success in the Rolex Middle Sea Race
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.rolexmiddlesearace.com
Lee Satariano’s J/122 Artie won the Artur Podesta Trophy Photo: Kurt Arrigo