The first day of the Rolex Middle Sea Race produced some champagne sailing for the 83-yacht fleet. Virtually the entire fleet made the Sicilian coast before dark enjoying comfortable reaching conditions and a spectacular sunset. However, as the first night drew in, the wind began to fade and the search for breeze started in earnest. Some yachts chose to stay offshore avoiding the effects of land others took the high risk-reward tactic of heading to the shore, where wind sometimes drains off the land.
At 0900 local time, Lee Satariano and Christian Ripard’s J/122 Artie-RTFX was the overall leader of The Rolex Middle Sea Race. The Maltese yacht has managed to keep going through the night and sailed away from the rest of the Class 4 yachts. More significantly, Artie-RTFX was the best placed of all 83 yachts racing after time correction at 0900 on Day Two.
Artie-RTFX had chosen to stay offshore; a conservative approach but it looks to have paid off, for now. Two other yachts from Class 4 are ranked in the top three overall. Little Emily skippered by British sailor Richard Oswald is ranked second overall and Per Sahlberg’s Dehler 34, WinDriven had a fantastic night at sea. The truly international crew consists of a mix of sailors coming from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Malta. The skipper Per Sahlberg is a very experienced sailor who has lived in Malta for the past ten years. However, it is the first year the boat, which is registered at the Royal Malta Yacht Club, is taking part at the Rolex Middle Sea Race.
Comanche Raider II Gasanmamo, skippered by Jonas Diamantino is one of the fastest yachts in their class and the lack of wind during the night has meant that they have dropped down the leader board. However, Ramon Sant Hill has contacted the media team: “The crew work and the boat are just fantastic, we are really enjoying the race and we are looking forward to finding some more wind!”
Looking at the situation at 0900, the entire fleet are experiencing light and variable winds along the southeast coast of Sicily. However, the high performance yachts in IRC 1 will shortly experience a positive current on the approach to Messina and also the possibility of more wind from the south due to the funnel effect of the narrow strait. This current is going to be favourable until about 1400 local time, after that the current will be unfavourable.
In conclusion, the lack of wind last night gave the slower yachts a huge advantage against the high performance speed machines but the ‘boot could be on the other foot’ this afternoon; the big yachts that make it through Messina will have a big advantage over those that fail to do so before the current turns.
For more information: www.rolexmiddlesearace.com