The bulk of the fleet are now enduring heavy weather conditions as they head for the finish of the Rolex Middle Sea Race

The second full day of the Rolex Middle Sea Race has seen a stark contrast in conditions over the first. Other than the two retirees, the entire 44-boat fleet has now passed the Straits of Messina and the island of Stromboli. The leaders have had a relatively smooth passage west along the north coast of Sicily, but the bulk of the fleet are now enduring heavy weather upwind conditions. Right at the front, race leader Alfa Romeo is not quite on time to break the course record.

At Stromboli, not quite half way around the course, a provisional set of results placed the small boats well and truly in the lead on corrected time. It was the Maltese J/109 Market Wizard owned and sailed by Ripard and Calascione that led from the second placed Greek Farr 52 Optimum 3 owned and sailed by Lazos and Livas. In third was Concetto Costa’s Benetau 40.7 Squalo Bianco.

But with these early corrected time leaders now sailing upwind with reefed mainsails, small headsails through an uncomfortable sea the larger boats, already around the corner and reaching directly along the course, will surely move back into the controlling positions on the corrected time sheets. The leg from Stromboli to the western end of Sicily is 120 miles long and there will be no respite for the smaller boats until Capo San Vito, 30 miles to the west of Palermo, is passed.

At the head of the fleet, more than 200 miles away from the last boat, Neville Crichton’s 94-foot Super Maxi Alfa Romeo has been making good time. Although the conditions have been reasonably good for the New Zealand-registered boat the wind continues to veer meaning that the direct course can no longer be sailed. The extra distance required to be covered and the reduction in wind forecast for the next 10 hours make it unlikely that the Rolex Middle Sea Race record will fall this year.

Moving well behind Alfa Romeo is Charles Dunstone’s Nokia. The crew on board the 76-foot Maxi will be eyeing the race leader and wondering whether they can stay in touch and beat the dominant Alfa Romeo as they did on corrected time in this yea’s Rolex Fastnet Race.