The biggest decision facing the fleet this morning is where to find the wind. At 09.00hrs there was little wind north of Sicily. There are basically two options; to head for the Sicilian coast to find thermal breeze from the land or go offshore, where the true wind is expected to arrive at sometime today from the northwest. Although the race is only half way through and the situation can change very easily, at 09.00hrs this morning, two Maltese yachts were doing extremely well; Artie-RTFX and Comanche Raider II Gasanmamo. Esimit Europa 2 still leads the fleet on the water but the Slovenian Maxi is under serious threat from both Ran and Stig for the line honours prize.
The second night at sea for the 83 yachts competing in The Rolex Middle Sea Race was a difficult one; the lack of wind may have slowed the fleet to walking pace but the concentration required and the attention to detail would have been extremely tiring for all the participants. No one can be more frustrated than the high performance yachts leading the fleet, the slow down over night means that the gains made by exiting Messina yesterday have now been lost.
This morning, the race leader Esimit Europa 2 was heading for the north coast of Sicily searching for breeze, whilst during the night Stig and Ran decided to stay offshore. It is a straight gamble; if a sea breeze does develop it will start nearer land but the expected gradient breeze will come from offshore (northwest). It will be fascinating to see how this difference of opinions works out. If Ran and Stig have got it right, they could pass Esimit Europa 2 and threaten to steal Line Honours. However, Esimit Europa 2 has a stella crew including America’s Cup winners, Juan Villa and Jochen Schümann, if Ran and Stig threaten their lead, Esimit Europa 2 will surely cover from in front.
In Class 1, whilst Ran and Stig are out in front on the water, Lupa of London is doing extremely well on handicap. Lupa of London is a stunning example of a modern cruiser/racer and expertly sailed, Rolex Sydney Hobart winner, Gordon Maguire is part of the crew.
In Class 2, Varuna and B2 Natali have both made bold moves. B2 Natali has chosen to head for the coast, whilst German Ker 51 Varuna is way offshore. The German team look to be in better breeze and it will be interesting to see how the move plays out. However, three yachts that have performed well since the start are looking like they have the upper hand on corrected time. Speedy, Hi Fidelity and Otimum 3 Aspida are very much in the running.
In Class 3, several Maltese yachts performed very well during the night. At about 0430 this morning, XP-ACT and Comanche Raider passed Stromboli and turned west. However, Nick Jones’ British First 44.7, Lisa has played the biggest gamble of the entire fleet. Sailing on past Stromboli for an additional 10 miles, Lisa is now well offshore, hoping to pick up the new breeze first.
This morning Arthur Podesta, skipper of Elusive contacted the media team: “We finally made it out of Messina in the early hours, it was a difficult night fighting the strong current but fortunately the wind held and our windseeking sail, nicknamed Janet kept us going. We saw the yachts ahead of us in no wind near Stromboli, so we kept to the west to try and avoid the windless hole and we look like we made a good move. My daughter Maya fried up some eggs and bacon this morning, which we hope will set us up for a better second half of the race. The Rolex Middle Sea Race has so many twists and turns and it isn’t over yet.”
In Class 4, Artie RTFX is having a fantastic race and this morning led their class by over 14 miles on the water with only the high performance Class 1 yachts in front, Artie RTFX is in an extremely strong position in the class, however other yachts fairing well include Trustmarque Quokka and Mick 1.
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