Record Middle Sea Race fleet sets sail
A record fleet of 99 yachts set sailed from Malta's Grand Harbour at the start of the Royal Malta Yacht Club's Rolex Middle Sea Race.In sunshine and a warm southerly breeze of 12 knots, all six starts got away without any major incident in the shadow of Valetta's impressive 18 story-high battlements.
In the first start, Czech Marek Chatrny's Class 40 Fulcrum, skippered by British solo legend Phil Sharp, got away well on of five Class 40s competing. The start included 12 yachts racing in the IRC Two Handed Class.
In IRC 4, Massimo Colosimo's J/111 Jstorm boldly flew their spinnaker approaching the line but broached, leaving Marco Flandin's J/111 Black Bull to lead exiting Grand Harbour with Tim Thubron's British Reflex 38 Lion Logic and David Latham's Pronavia 38 Seawolf of Southampton in close pursuit.
IRC 3 proved to be the most competitive start with two local yachts fighting for the favoured right hand side of the course. Comanche Raider II Gasanmamo and Oiltanking Juno were locked together in a race to exit Grand Harbour. Phillipe Falle and Peter Rutter's Trustmarque Quokka started towards the middle of the line and got away in clear air, to exit into open water before the chasing pack.
The fifth start featured 18 yachts of 50ft or over, racing in IRC 2, Alexander Markhov's Bavaria 50 was OCS and had to turn back to start correctly. Roberto Lacorte's Italian custom 65, Nikka Sixty Five, with tactician Tomasso Chieffi on board, got away to a flying start. Italian Michele Galli's IRC 52 B2 with Francesco de Angelis as tactician, was not far behind.
The last start featured the nine fast high performance yachts racing in IRC 1 and two IMOCA 60s. Andre Soriano's new Mills 72 Alegre nailed the start ahead of Luca Simone's Italian newly acquired JV72 Robertissima II (ex-Ran 2). However Hasso Platner's canting keel maxZ86 Morning Glory rolled both of the Mini Maxis as the big yachts left the Grand Harbour.
At 1500 local time on Day One, Morning Glory was leading on the water, about a mile ahead of Alegre, both yachts averaging over 12 knots.