Esimit Europa 2 takes line honours

At 18h 32m 32s local time (17:32 BST) yesterday evening (Monday 25 October) the Rolex Middle Sea Race committee signaled the finish and line honors victory for Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) in Marsamxett Harbour. The Slovenian maxi’s elapsed time was 2 days, 6 hours, 52 minutes, 32 seconds.

Dockside at Grand Harbour, owner Igor Smic was presented with a Rolex Yacht-master timepiece by the Malcolm Lowell Jr. from Edwards’ Lowell, as well as the R.L.R. Line Honours Trophy by Royal Malta Yacht Club Commodore, Georges Bonells DuPuis.

Recapping the race, skipper Flavio Flavini said: “It was quite a slow race in the first part, but then towards the coast of Sicily the wind started to increase. The first difficult part was entering the Strait of Messina because at that moment there was very light wind and it was very difficult to get in, but then after a while the current helped and we were able to manage quite well and leave the Strait quite fast.”

Esimit led from the race start in Grand Harbour and managed to keep putting distance on Leopard until some 25 miles from the Strait of Messina where the maxi stopped in a big hole and their speed dropped away to zero. Leopard closed the gap, but then found themselves in the same hole.

Esimit managed to restart and gain ground, as navigator Tiziano Nava explained: “We restarted and Leopard stayed stopped, probably there was some current against them. We gained a lot of miles at that point. For the rest of the race, we sailed pretty well, we made the right sail changes: the wind changed, the angle changed, all the time we had the right sails, so we could produce maximum target speeds, all the time.”

Flavini continued: “Quite a large area around Sicily was light to very light wind, so quite complicated, because it was difficult not to stop in a wind hole. Towards the Egadi Islands we had some sirocco winds, which helped the boat to accelerate. But then it changed very quickly from the sirocco to the mistral, not too strong, but good enough to move well. The second part of the race was in fact very nice, with a nice breeze and fast.” The most wind Esimit saw was about 23 knots between Lampedusa and Malta; the maxi sailed 23 knots, with one reef in the main and a genoa staysail, later changing back up to a full main.

“For us the big challenge was again Leopard, who won Line Honours last year here, but has also won the Rolex Fastnet, so it’s not an easy boat to beat, even more so because it is a very good boat, but I think in this light winds we had an advantage with our boat. If it had been a very windy race, we don’t know,” concluded Flavini.

This year’s weather conditions, lighter than forecast in the speed department, were not conducive to knocking off the course record. Esimit’s time was seven hours outside of the course record set by George David’s Rambler (USA) of 47 hours, 55 minutes, and 3 seconds.

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