Having spent the last couple of days in very little wind competitors in the Rolex Middle Race have finally picked up a decent breeze

After a frustrating 24 hours of light or no wind the frontrunners in the Rolex Middle Race have finally picked up some breeze and are making headway towards Palermo and the north-western tip of Sicily.

The three maxis passed through the Strait of Messina between Sicily and the toe of Italy on Sunday lunch time followed by the Greek Farr 52 Optimum 3 soon after. They then spent most of the afternoon parked up, wind spotters up the mast on each boat trying to seek out the slightest zephyr on the water that might help propel them northwest towards the volcanic island of Stromboli and its little outcrop Strombolicchio.

Race leader on the water, Neville Crichton’s Alfa Romeo was at a virtual standstill on Sunday afternoon between 1pm and 4pm and again from 9pm until midnight finally rounding Stromboli at 02.30am yesterday morning with Damiani Our Dream and Black Dragon both around 20 minutes astern of the Kiwi line honours favourite having suffered similar fates.

“It took 14 hours instead of seven hours to get to Stromboli,” commented a crew member on board Damiani Our Dream, where the team have been keeping themselves entertained between meals telling jokes and singing. It seems an age ago when rounding south-east Sicily they split their light No1 genoa – now long since patched up.

After threading their way through another light patch in the lee of Stromboli yesterday morning, the three maxis were in the afternoon making 6-9 knots towards the north-west corner of Sicily in a breeze that is supposed to veer to the south-east and build to around 10 knots. Today the fleet should enjoy fresher conditions when a predicted front passes across the race course bringing with it 20 knot winds.