Monday, October 20, 2014

Through the Looking Glass - Rolex Middle Sea Race

After a long and frustrating second night at sea, the Rolex Middle Sea Race fleet continues to make slow progressing on a mirror-like sea. Despite the very light winds, by 13.00hrs on Day 3, all but four yachts had rounded Stromboli and the frontrunners are approaching Palermo at the northwest tip of Sicily.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Just 50 hours after the Saluting Battery cannons marked the start of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, 100 nautical miles separate the two extremities of the fleet. The Maltese yacht Salana is the last competitor on the course and is approaching Stromboli.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
In 2007 George Davis’ Rambler finished just before midday on the third day to set a new course record of 47 hours, 55 minutes and 03 seconds, at an average speed of 12.65 knots. This year’s leading yacht, the Slovenian maxi Esimit Europa 2, is currently averaging only 5 knots and is about halfway home.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Rán 2 and Shockwave continue to chase Esimit Europa 2. At 11.00 this morning Niklas Zennström’s Maxi 72 was just 14 nautical miles behind Igor Simcic’s maxi and four nautical miles ahead Georges Sakellari’s Maxi 72 Shockwave.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
The last boat exited the Strait of Messina at 04.00hrs last night, while the bulk of the fleet was rounding Stromboli. Some of the yachts have headed north of the rhumb (most direct course) in the search of more breeze. The Race Tracker shows those boats still near the volcanic island to be at a standstill.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Concentration, focussed trimming, correct sail selection, precise helming and minimizing unnecessary movements are key to getting the best out of really light conditions. With the hours of darkness exceeding daylight at this time of the year, this difficult equation has an added challenge.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Tomorrow should bring a dramatic change in fortune. According to Principal Race Officer Peter Dimech: “A northwesterly wind will fill in late on Tuesday. The big boats will be flying, and should start arriving on Wednesday morning, Thursday and Friday for the rest of the fleet.”

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