The Rolex Middle Sea Race has run for 35 editions as of last year, and is considered a “must-do” race for competitive sailors from around the world. Competing boats head northeast towards Messina then head northwest to Stromboli before heading southwest to Favignana, Pantelleria, Lampedusa and back to Malta. High winds, strong currents and fierce competition typify this race.
Co-founded in 1968 by the Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club, the Middle Sea Race is no less than 977 kilometres long, starting and finishing in Malta. The competing fleet travels in an anti-clockwise direction and races over a duration of two to three full days.
The race has attracts between 25 and 30 yachts annually, with the largest-ever fleet being recorded last year. Over 120 yachts took part. The Middle Sea Race is often mentioned in the same breath as the Rolex Sydney-Hobart, Newport-Bermuda and Fastnet races as a competition that must be entered into if one considers him or herself a true sailor.
It is notorious for changeable conditions which really challenge skippers are crew, pushing man and machine to breaking point. They do get a small piece of respite from the stunning scenery, seeing as they pass by various islands. Some even go as far as calling it the most beautiful yacht race in the world.
Between 1984 and 1995, there was no racing, however luckily things kicked off again in 1996 and the race is arguably in as good health as it has ever been, down in no small part to the backing of international luxury watch manufacturer, Rolex.
The course record is held by the USA’s George David, who skippered “Rambler” to victory back in 2007, with a time of 2007 – 47 hours 55 minutes and 3 seconds. This year’s race will start on Saturday 17th October – earlier than usual. Entries from countries as far-flung as Australia and Canada have already been submitted. It promises to be another exciting race!