Maxi competition for Middle Sea Race

As top boats line up to attempt to break course record

Thursday April 10th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Italy
With the news that Charles Dunstone (CEO of the pan-European PLC, Carphone Warehouse Group) has entered his 78ft Reichel/Pugh-designed racing yacht Enigma of London, the Royal Malta Yacht Club is gearing itself for a major assault on the course record of 64hrs, 49mins and 57seconds, established by Zephyrus IV in 2000.

Held annually since 1968, the Rolex Middle Sea Race is a highly rated offshore classic. The 607-nautical mile course takes yachts on a breathtaking route from Malta to Sicily, through the Straits of Messina, past the islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria, back to the finish in Malta. The yachts race by two active volcanoes - Etna and Stromboli (a mark of the course). In 2002, Etna erupted spectacularly, providing an unforgettable experience for the competitors.

"Bob McNeil, has requested the Notice of Race and I have every expectation that he will return this year with his latest boat Zephyrus V," commented Commodore Georges Bonello-Dupuis who added that, "Mike Slade with Leopard of London has also confirmed he will enter, suggesting that maxi yacht owners recognise the Rolex Middle Sea Race offers a serious blue water challenge in the Mediterranean. I am hopeful we will attract a number of the other Super-Maxis that will be in the Med this season." (It is believed that Bols may also be taking part).

Enigma of London's owner Charles Dunstone has made the Rolex Middle Sea Race one of his target events for the 2003 season. The boat was launched this week in a new configuration, which changed the boat from its original Transpac set-up. Dunstone explained that, "we have added 2000kg to the keel bulb, refitted a scoop stern and will be sailing with a new 'Turbo' sail plan to optimise performance. Alongside Race Skipper Dave Bedford and full time Boat Captain Matt Cowpe, the crew will include the 'round the world' talents Neal and Lisa MacDonald, along with several of the GBR Challenge team."

The 2003 race will start from Marxamsett Harbour, Malta on October 25th. The Notice of Race is available from the RMYC or online here.

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