The Rolex Middle Sea Race
The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a highly rated offshore classic, often mentioned in the same breath as the Rolex Fastnet, The Rolex Sydney - Hobart and Newport-Bermuda as a "must do" race. The Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club co-founded the race in 1968 and 2012 will be the 33rd Edition. Save for a break between 1984 and 1995 the event has been run annually attracting 25 -30 yachts. In recent years, the number of entries has rissen sharply to 78 boats thanks to a new Organising Committee who managed to bring Rolex on board as title sponsor for the Middle Sea Race.
The race is a true challenge to skippers and crews who have to be at their very best to cope with the often changeable and demanding conditions. Equally, the race is blessed with unsurpassed scenery with its course, taking competitors close to a number of islands, which form marks of the course. Ted Turner described the MSR as "the most beautiful race course in the world".
Apart from Turner, famous competitors have included Eric Tabarly, Cino Ricci, Herbert von Karajan, Jim Dolan, Sir Chay Blyth and Sir Francis Chichester (fresh from his round the world adventure). High profile boats from the world's top designers take part, most in pursuit of line honours and the record - competing yachts include the extreme Open 60s, Riviera di Rimini and Shining; the maxis, Mistress Quickly, Zephyrus IV and Sagamore; and the pocket rockets such as the 41-foot J-125 Strait Dealer and the DK46, Fidessa Fastwave.
In 2006, Mike Sanderson and Seb Josse on board ABN Amro, winner of the Volvo Ocean Race, the super Maxis; Alfa Romeo and Maximus and the 2006 Rolex Middle Sea Race overall winner, Hasso Platner on board his MaxZ86, Morning Glory.
George David on board Rambler (ex Alfa Romeo) managed a new course record in 2007 and in 2008, Thierry Bouchard on Spirit of Ad Hoc won the Rolex Middle Sea Race on board a Beneteau 40.7 and ALegre claimed line honours.
In 2009, Andres Soriano on board Alegre re visited Malta for the second time in a row and claimed overall handicap in IRC. Line honours went to Mike Slade on board his super maxi "Icap Leopard".
2010 saw the maxi yacht "Esimit Europa" take line honours over "Icap Leopard" whilst the IRC Overall when to "Lucky" from the USA.
The Esimit Europa team were to win Line Honours again in 2011. The Maltese boat Artie was the overall winner of the IRC category and the Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy.
In 2012 the Slovenian Maxi Esimit Europa II returned to claim line Honours once again but the Rolex Middle Sea Trophy for first overall in IRC was won by the South African yacht Hi Fidelity. The overall winner in ORC was Optimum 3 Aspida from Greece.
The largest number of entries was 82 established in 2012.
The Rolex Middle Sea Race is one of the great classic offshore races, and sits happily beside the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Rolex Sydney to Hobart. It is not for nothing that the world's fastest boats cite the Rolex Middle Sea Race as a major objective.