Four days after the start eight boats have now completed the 607-mile long Rolex Middle Sea Race

Four days after the start eight boats have now completed the 607-mile long Rolex Middle Sea Race, while another 25 are still at sea. Charles Dunstone’s Nokia, the second boat to finish yesterday, currently has the best corrected time and looks likely to keep this honour. Skip Sheldon’s Zarraffa is in second place and line honours victor Alfa Romeo lies in third. Fresh westerly winds are sweeping the fleet still at sea, one of the smallest boats, Anton Valentino’s First Ever, has been dismasted in 35 knots of wind near the Italian island of Pantelleria.

Crossing the Royal Malta Yacht Club finish line mid-morning yesterday was the Greek yacht Optimum 3, owned by Niko Lazos and Pericles Livas. For the first 36 hours of the race this Farr 52 performed well above its rating and was still beside the race winning Maxi Nokia as the pair neared the Straits of Messina, one third of the way round the course. Asked about their race after the finish the Greek pair had this to say:

“It was a late decision for us to enter the Rolex Middle Sea Race. The boat is new to us and we had set ourselves the goal of learning about offshore sailing and understanding how to organise ourselves at sea. We are a group of club sailors from Athens and we asked Volvo skipper Jezz Fanstone to come with us and show us the elements of offshore racing. He was strict and showed us that we needed to remain disciplined and organised offshore.”

Fourth boat to finish in Malta and currently second overall on handicap was Skip Sheldon’s American-registered 65ft Zaraffa. Navigated by round the world champion navigator Mark Rudiger, the crew of Zaraffa found it hard to understand how they had lost control of the race so close to the finish:

“We don’t mind sailing in light winds, we don’t mind sailing upwind, but we do mind sailing in different winds to everyone else! On Monday night Alfa Romeo parked up just past Lampedusa, and we parked up at the same time much further back. Enigma missed all the traps and sailed steadily through the night. They did a great job.”

Shortly after sunset on Wednesday, after a 100-mile high speed run from Lampedusa, David Franks’ J/125 Strait Dealer, the first Maltese and the first small boat to finish, crossed the famous Royal Malta Yacht Club line to collect fourth place on corrected time.