Rolex Middle Sea Race XYC boats that will participate:
Xp44 Upwind, Xp44 Downwind
Rolex middle sea race
In The Beginning
The Rolex Middle Sea Race was created as the result of sporting rivalry between two British yachtsmen residing in Malta, Alan Green and Jimmy White, and two Maltese sailors, Paul and John Ripard. both members of the Royal Malta Yacht Club.
Alan (who would go on to become Secretary of the Royal Ocean Racing Club) and Jimmy proposed a longer course than was typical in the region, and one designed to offer an exciting competition in windier autumn conditions. The original suggestion was for a course that would start in Malta and finish in Syracuse, Sicily, in one year and then start in Syracuse and finish in Malta, the next.
In an inspired moment, Paul insisted that the race should be centred on the Malta, both starting and finishing there. The course was now, essentially, a clockwise circumnavigation of Sicily including Lampedusa, Pantelleria and the Egadi and Aeolian islands. It would be slightly longer than the RORC’s own famous offshore event, the Fastnet Race, sponsored by Rolex since 2001.
The Ripards presented the idea to the main committee of the RMYC, who enthusiastically backed the concept despite only six months notice to the inaugural race. Alan Green agreed to run the event on two conditions: he was given complete authority over the arrangements and that he would compete.
Malta embraced the race from the very beginning and from the top to the bottom. Malta’s then Governor-General, H.E. Sir Maurice Dorman, was also the RMYC Commodore and became one of the early supporters.
For Alan, from the outset, the race’s success was unquestionable: “The qualities, challenge and attraction of sailing the seas of classical history with spectacular scenery including two active volcanoes, the only tidal strait in the Mediterranean, and the friendly island base of Malta with its British heritage - and not least the warmth of the water in autumn - contrasted sharply with [the] experience of offshore racing in northern waters. In matching the length of the Fastnet, Bermuda, and Sydney Hobart races, I was sure we had a winning formula.”
Contributions came from all quarters. Vice-Commodore Colonel G. Z. (“Tabby”) Tabona secured saluting howitzers from the Royal Malta Artillery, Sir Hannibal Scicluna, Head of the Malta Museums Department, agreed to the use of Fort Manoel in Marsamxett Harbour, to host the start and Race Control.
The British Navy installed telephone lines and the Malta Electricity Board hooked up a power supply and lighting.
The Malta Tourism Board used its network to distribute the Notice of Race and other promotional material, and helped arrange free moorings for competitors.
Emvin Cremona, one of the country’s leading artists whose postage stamps were eye-catching and original, was commissioned via the Malta Tourist Board to produce the main trophy for the race. Cast in bronze, the trophy design powerfully and uniquely confirms the ties between sailing and Malta.
Closer to the event, the British Navy laid a trot of temporary moorings in Sliema Creek.
During the race, the British Airforce flew a reconnaissance aircraft to take daily photographs, while both British and Italian Navies engaged warships stationed in the course area to help with position reporting.
The first race attracted eight entries. Alan Green and Jimmy White competed on Sandettie, John Ripard secured a Swan 36, named Josian, and Paul raced aboard the legendary maxi yacht, Stormvogel.
The Italian Navy entered its training yacht, Stella Polare. Other entries included: the Nicholson 32 Barada, Pedlar, Yanda and Dream of Holland (which retired at Pantelleria).
While Stormvogel was first to finish, the eventual overall winner was Josian giving John Ripard and Malta a landmark opening victory.
The final prize giving was a black-tie affair, and the guest of honour was Sir Francis Chichester, fresh from his ground-breaking solo circumnavigation of the world.
2021 | Rolex Middle Sea Race Registration
2021 | Rolex Middle Sea Race Start
2021 | Rolex Middle Sea Race Prize Giving