The brutal conditions experienced on the northern coast of Sicily during the 2017 Rolex Middle Sea Race caused a high attrition rate amongst the international fleet of 104 yachts that started the 606-mile offshore classic. In the end, only 35 yachts completed the race with Mikhail Voronov's IMX 40 Jukebox the last to cross the line. The Russian team from the TrySail Yacht Club, St. Petersburg showed true tenacity and determination taking 5 days 16 hours 45 minutes and 34 seconds to get around the course. While boats and sailors may have been battered and bruised, spirits have been unbowed and the Royal Malta Yacht Club has been the scene for some terrific tales of the race in the past few days.
Joseph Mele's Swan 44 Triple Lindy has completed the line up of IRC class winners, topping the standings in IRC 5. The American crew's adventure ended with an elapsed time of 3 days 21 hours 55 minutes and 11 seconds. The Corinthian team, representing the New York Yacht Club, has an apt name having completed a hat trick of classic offshore races this year. In January, Triple Lindy took on the Rolex Sydney Hobart, in August the Rolex Fastnet Race and, now, have rounded off an extraordinary year of racing with a class win at the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Triple Lindy's blog (www.triple-lindy.com) captured the emotion of crossing the finish line.
“We crossed the finish line to be met on the dock by the amazing support team of Lindy wives. Through the night, we worked the boat mile after mile – very windy, wet and rough, but we were in a three way race for the Class win. One of the boats turned back for shelter, briefly, to put us in second with a Russian boat (Rossko Sailing) vying for the top spot. At the finish, they were 9 miles ahead of us, and as long as we finished within two hours, the win was ours. The last leg had us reaching with a big chute up in 30 knots and surfing waves – on the edge the whole way. A nerve-wracking drop of the chute was needed, and with all hands on deck, it was pulled off quickly and safely. One gybe took us to the finish and an emotional welcome from the girls.”
The remarkable achievement of Dmitry Kondratyev and Alexander Grudnin, racing J/122 Stellar Racing, will be long remembered in a year when Russian participation at the Rolex Middle Sea Race has truly made its mark. Completing the course in an elapsed time of 4 days 4 hours 43 minutes and 50 seconds, the Russian crew is the only Double Handed entry to finish the race.
“We spent a lot of time training before the race and we knew the boat very well,” commented Kondratyev. “When we rounded Stromboli, the wind increased even more, and we wanted to change down to the No.4 jib. The only way we could do it was to put the boat on auto-pilot and change it together. As we approached Favignana, we noticed the main was coming out of the track, so we took shelter, lowered the main, fixed the problem and re-hoisted it, as well as changing the headsail to the storm jib. It was not easy, we had a lot of wind and some big waves. After Favignana it was much easier, we hit a top speed of 19 knots, and it was a lot of fun.”
With the racing over, eyes turn to the Rolex Middle Sea Race Prize Giving scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday 28th October, in the grand surroundings of the Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta. While the victors will celebrate with their trophies, the ceremony will offer an opportunity to pay fitting tribute to all participating competitors whether they completed the race or not.