With just nine boats finishing from a fleet of 58 starters thanks to five days of near non-existent winds, the 2005 Rolex Middle Sea Race had one of the strangest results of an offshore race.
Last boat to arrive was David Franks’ J/125 Strait Dealer, the only Maltese yacht to make it around the 608-mile course. “I think everyone is pleased that a Maltese boat finished,” said Franks, whose crew included British navigator Graham Sunderland and Mascalzone Latino crewman Chris Dougall. “We had wind, but it was never strong wind. It has been an extraordinary race. Normally I hate those conditions. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the conditions, but I did enjoy toughing it out with the crew. It was more psychological rather than physical toughness. Nonetheless the boat was so well prepared. We planned so hard, we were ready to do whatever we had to do to finish. Even in the light stuff we were working the boat trying to squeeze everything out of it. In some cases we would change the sails up to 10 times within the hour. Whatever it took we did.”
There were so few finishers this year and none in the smaller class two, despite valiant efforts from several boats. At today’s prize giving in Valletta’s Mediterranean Conference Centre, the former ‘Sacra Infermeria’ of the Order of St John of Jerusalem dating back to the 16th century, Carlo Puri Negri’s Farr 70 Atalanta II managed a clean sweep of the silverware.
Puri Negri, professionally General Executive Manager of Pirelli & C. Real Estate, won seven major trophies – the RLR Trophy for line honours, the Malta Tourism Authority Trophy for the first foreign boat home, the FIV Trophy for the first Italian yacht on corrected time, a Rolex steel Submariner for first place in IRC Class 1A, the first place trophy for IMS/ORC Class A, the Boccale Del Mediterraneo Trophy for IMS Overall and the Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy for being the overall winner.
“I have never seen so many trophies!” said Puri Negri. “We are happy because the Rolex Middle Sea Race is an important and glorious race.” In winning the Rolex Middle Sea Race, Puri Negri and the Atalanta II crew have also won the Mediterranean Championship of Offshore Racing – a new series of four events including the Rolex Middle Sea Race and the Giraglia Rolex Cup.
David Franks and Strait Dealer won the Malta Maritime Trophy for being the first Maltese boat across the line and the Starboard Trophy for being first Maltese boat overall in IRC. The Youth Cup for the youngest participating crewmember was won by 13 year old Luisa Manduca, who sailed on father Alfred’s Allegra.
Prizes were presented by Dr Louis Galea, Minister for Education, Youth and Employment, Censu Galea, Minister for Competitiveness and Communications, Dr Francis Zammit Dimech, Minister for Tourism and Culture, Race Director Godwin Zammit, Royal Malta Yacht Club Commodore Georges Bonello DuPuis, Yann du Pasquier of Rolex, Malcolm Lowell of Edwards, Lowell Ltd, Teddy Borg and Paul Ripard.
“We had record number of entries and you try and make the best of it, but arguably we have had the worst result with most of the fleet retiring,” summarized Bonello DuPuis. “I am happy that at least Strait Dealer finished, so Malta was mentioned in the prize giving ceremony. As to next year – we’re looking for a new weather site – god.com!”
The 27th Rolex Middle Sea Race starts on 21 October 2006.
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