Rolex Middle Sea Race | Fairer winds return as boats round Stromboli

Many crews reporting thunderstorms, reduced visibility and volatile local effects

Photo credit: Kurt Arrigo
Photo credit: Kurt Arrigo

At 1000 CEST on the third day of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, well over half of the fleet had rounded the active volcano Stromboli, which marks the most north-easterly corner of the 606-mile race course. Fairer winds returned to the Rolex Middle Sea Race overnight with breeze filling in from the west. It was not all good, with many crews reporting thunderstorms, reduced visibility and volatile local effects.    
George David's, Rambler, accelerated in the fresher conditions making short work of the leg from Stromboli to Favignana, turning the corner just before 0900 CEST this morning.

In the previously lighter conditions, Dieter Schön's German Maxi72, Momo, had been a constant threat to David’s pursuit of a fourth successive Line Honours title. Rambler has now extended the lead to over 30-miles, and barring a serious problem looks to be secure. With 250 miles to go, their eventual finish time depends upon how conditions develop.

The American Maxi is well outside the 2007 record pace and, with the stronger winds unlikely to arrive off north-west Sicily until this evening, she is expected to arrive some time tomorrow.    

During the night, the two leading multihulls in the race split strategies off Sicily's north coast Giovanni's Maserati stayed south, whilst Peter Cunningham's PowerPlay went north. At 0500 CEST, Maserati led by 90 minutes, a similar delta to Stromboli. Both trimarans are now west of Sicily heading south and experiencing downwind conditions. Maserati have 210nm to go to the finish, with PowerPlay 40nm behind. Both are expected to arrive back in Malta in the early hours of tomorrow morning (23 October). Maserati holds the lead, despite reporting some technical problems earlier in the race.   

At 1000 CEST, 76 yachts racing under IRC had passed Stromboli. In the Overall Standings, Giuseppe Greco's Comet 50 Verve-Camer had the lead, at that point, by a mere 40 seconds after IRC time correction ahead of Vittorio Biscarini's Italian Mylius 15e25 Ars Una. The Riccardo Genghini skippered Austrian Swan 651, Lunz Am Meer, was a further 23 minutes behind.     
Class Analysis  
IRC One - Momo led at Stromboli, just 22 minutes ahead on corrected time of the German Botin 65, Caro, skippered by Maximilian Klink. Gabriel de Llano's Spanish Swan 80 Plis Play was in third, 1hr and 48 mins behind the leader.   
IRC Two - Giuseppe Greco's Verve-Cramer led by 31 minutes at Stromboli with five teams within striking distance: Periklis Livas & Nikos Lazos' Greek Farr 52, Optimum 3, Eric de Turckheim's NM54, Teasing Machine, Vincenzo Addessi's Fra Diavolo, and Stefan Jentzsch's Black Pearl.

IRC Three –a beak away of three yachts has formed at the front of the fleet. Ars Una led by 59 minutes at Stromboli from Frederic Puzin's Corum Daguet 2, with Dominique Tian’s Tonnerre de Glen 70 minutes behind the leader.

IRC Four – Three Swans glided through Messina to extend a significant lead in the 19-strong fleet. Swan 651 Lunz Am Meer led at Stromboli, 38 minutes ahead on corrected time from Renzo Grottesi's Swan 42 Be Wild. Milan Hajek's Swan 42 Daring Sister was 80 minutes behind the leader.

IRC Five – 18 of the 34-strong fleet rounded Stromboli at dawn this morning, celebrating breakfast at the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean” was Géry Trentesaux's French JPK 1180 Courrier Recommandé, leading the class by 23 minutes on corrected time from Ed Fishwick's Sun Fast 3600 Redshift Reloaded, skippered by Nick Cherry. Nicolas Ibañez Scott's Chilean J/122 Anita was in third.

IRC Six – A terrific battle is developing with three yachts passing Stromboli with seconds of each other this morning; Timofey Zhbankov's Russian JPK 10.80, Rossko, was first to round the iconic volcano, followed by Gerard Ludovic's French JPK 10.80, Solenn, 32 seconds later. Piercarlo Antonelli's Sun Fast 3600 Bora Fast was just 92 seconds behind the leader. Only four minutes separated the trio after IRC time correction.

IRC Double-Handed – Three yachts racing Double-Handed rounded Stromboli this morning. Sergey Rytov's Russian JPK 11.80 Bogatyr led by over an hour from Sean Arrigo's Maltese J/122, Otra Vez. Jamie Sammut's Solaris 42, Unica, also from Malta, was third.

To date, four yachts have officially retired.  All crew are believed to be safe and well:   Robert Szustkowski’s HH66, R-Six  Marton Jozsa’s RP60, Wild Joe Adrien Keller’s Custom Catamaran, Allegra Maxime de Mareuil’s XP44, OM-BCTG.