Please select your home edition
Edition
PandB 2019 Autumn Sale - Leaderboard
Product Feature
Trident Dry Launching Trousers
Trident Dry Launching Trousers

10 days to go until the 2019 Rolex Middle Sea Race at Royal Malta Yacht Club

by Rolex Middle Sea Race 8 Oct 17:06 BST 19-26 October 2019
Rolex Middle Sea Race © Rolex / Kurt Arrigo

The 40th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race starts on Saturday, 19 October. First staged in 1968 and organized by the Royal Malta Yacht Club, Rolex has been the title sponsor since 2002.

The 606 nautical mile race, which starts from Malta's Grand Harbour and takes in some of the Mediterranean's most dramatic scenery, is always hugely popular. Last year, the 50th anniversary of the inaugural event drew a record fleet of 130. This year's race has attracted another impressive entry of more than 100 international yachts.

Among those vying for overall victory, several crews boast an impressive pedigree at Rolex-partnered offshore races. American yachtsmen David and Peter Askew arrive fresh from winning the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race with Wizard, while Frenchman Géry Trentesaux, a Rolex Fastnet winner himself, will defend his 2018 Rolex Middle Sea Race crown with Courrier Recommandé. Two-time race winner Lee Satariano of Malta has entered with a new boat, Artie III.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race is one of several bluewater classics Rolex has supported since the early 2000s, including the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Each about 600 nm, they attract passionate Corinthian and professional sailors, ready to take on the unique challenges. The races are united through a partnership with the brand, whose commitment to ocean racing dates back more than half a century.

Stringent test of sailing skill

The October race date was originally chosen because of the potential for challenging conditions in this area of the Mediterranean at this time of year. At some point, a powerful weather system will test the abilities of all competitors. Rolex Testimonee Robert Scheidt, a five-time Olympic medallist, took part in 2009: "We had really strong winds on one night; the heaviest sea I have ever faced in my career. It was really tough. Many boats had to retire because the second half was so rough. We were exhausted, but it felt great to finish."

The complexity of the four-sided course, part of which tracks the eastern and northern coasts of Sicily before returning the fleet to Malta via the islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa, means crews can also encounter benign conditions posing other difficulties. Reflecting this unpredictability, in almost 20 years of Rolex involvement, the race record has been bettered only once, despite the presence of high-performing, well-prepared yachts.

In 2007, American yachtsman George David made his race debut with his 27.43 metre (90 foot) Rambler. At the end of a storm-ridden race, in which only 17 yachts finished, David had swept the board, taking line honours and overall victory, and setting the current benchmark of 47 hours, 55 minutes and three seconds.

This year, David returns with his latest 27 m (88 ft) Rambler, the fastest boat in the fleet and with greater potential than the record-setting version. David is widely expected to achieve a fifth successive line-honours victory. The bigger question is whether he can improve upon the fastest time. A commanding performance at this year's Rolex Fastnet Race, when the crew came within one hour, 16 minutes of the race record, suggests weather, not preparation or skill, will decide the outcome.

Spectacular racecourse

Another feature of the racecourse is its natural beauty. Two active volcanoes and scores of rugged islands combine with frequent contact with wildlife to create a special experience. The start resembles a film set, with the Grand Harbour echoing to cannon fire from Valletta's Saluting Battery as the fleet is sent on its way.

"The Rolex Middle Sea Race is the most beautiful race I have ever done," adds Scheidt. "I remember passing Stromboli at midnight with the lava coming down. It was dark, but we could see the whole volcano. That image is one I'll never forget."

In the ascendancy

The challenge of the open sea is perpetual and the capacity of the Rolex Middle Sea Race to attract large fleets confirms an enduring enthusiasm for the race and sailing offshore. Rolex's commitment to this element of the sport is long-standing and forward-looking. The brand's strong partnerships with the clubs that organize these races provides abundant opportunities for those inspired to test themselves.

For further information, please visit rolexmiddlesearace.com

Related Articles

Rolex Middle Sea Race sets off from Grand Harbour
The start is just the beginning of a challenge that is not meant to be easy A fleet of 113 yachts, separated into seven starts, were wafted on their way by a very gentle northerly breeze that sent cat's paws across the harbour, and left plenty of traps for the unsuspecting. Posted on 19 Oct
40th Rolex Middle Sea Race kicks off tomorrow
A fleet of 113 yachts expected to depart from Grand Harbour The crowds lining the bastions of the fortified city, cheering the yachts on their way, will add to the highly-charged atmosphere. Every participating crew is looking forward to taking on one the world's great 600 mile classic offshore races. Posted on 18 Oct
2019 Rolex Middle Sea Race weather watch
Less than 48 hours to the start of the 40th Rolex Middle Sea Race Less than 48 hours to the start of the 40th Rolex Middle Sea Race and the marinas surrounding the Royal Malta Yacht Club in Ta' Xbiex are full of yachts flying the event battle flag, signifying their participation Posted on 17 Oct
Rolex Middle Sea Coastal Race
Stretching their sea legs ahead of the official race start Over 40 boats started the Rolex Middle Sea Coastal Race today to stretch their "sea legs" ahead of the official race start on Saturday. With a northerly breeze, the Race Committee sent the fleet on the "Round Comino" course. Posted on 16 Oct
Rolex Middle Sea Race press conference
To officially launch the 40th edition, in Malta At a press conference held, today, to officially launch the 40th Edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, the Royal Malta Yacht Club announced that it is set to welcome a fleet of around 115 boats to this year's race. Posted on 16 Oct
Olympia Tigress all set for Rolex Middle Sea Race
Susan Glenny to take part in the 40th edition with a diverse, mixed gender, international crew Olympia's Tigress is a regular competitor at many of the Northern Hemisphere 600 offshore races claiming a third in class in the 2018 Caribbean 600 and was recently the overall winner of the Ed Wheelan Celebration Trophy at this years Cowes Week. Posted on 11 Oct
50 days until the 2019 Rolex Middle Sea Race
The island state is more than prepared for the annual 'invasion' 2019 marks the 40th edition of this Mediterranean classic and the organiser, the Royal Malta Yacht Club, is excited by the depth and breadth of the 102 boat fleet committed so far. Posted on 4 Sep
Rolex Middle Sea Race - Les than 100 days to go
Entries continue to climb with 58 yachts from 17 countries so far The Rolex Middle Sea Race is once again proving to have magnetic appeal, with 58 yachts from 17 countries so far registered for the 2019 edition. Malta's rumour mill reports a number of other boats with logistics in place. Posted on 16 Jul
Surviving The Middle: Ocean Racers documentary
600NM around Sicily for Rolex Middle Sea Race were some of the hardest miles The team was led by circumnavigators and co-skippers Morgen Watson (Calgary, CAN, 29) and Meg Reilly (NJ, USA, 29), who have Southern Ocean stories to tell, but none that rival their tales from the Mediterranean Sea. Posted on 16 Jun
Entries on track for 2019 Rolex Middle Sea Race
Some 38 yachts have already entered the race 150 days out from 40th edition of its 606nm offshore race, organisers, the Royal Malta YC, look set for a celebratory year. Entrants, to date, represent 16 nations confirming once again the global appeal of this stalwart in the international calendar. Posted on 30 May