Maltese miss out to Morning Glory but overall winner is still to be confirmed 27/10/06

After a long wait for the bulk of the Rolex Middle Sea Race fleet to arrive back in Malta, a constant trickle of yachts crossed the finish line in Marsamxett Harbour throughout today yesterday.

A succession of small and mid-sized yachts came close to threatening the Max Z86 Morning Glory’s overall lead on IRC handicap. Although Hasso Plattner finished two days ago, such is the handicap system that a number of small yachts could have overhauled the Maxi if they had arrived just a few hours earlier today.

Strait Dealer, David Franks’s J/125, was the first Maltese boat to cross the finish line at 1038 yesterday morning. Taking first place in the local fleet is always a source of pride among the island’s tight-knit yachting community, although the crew had hoped that maybe they could win overall – even against the professional crews of the SuperMaxis.

Co-navigator and one of the helmsmen David Anastasi commented: “Top Maltese boat is great, although we were hoping for the overall win too of course, but we are happy. We worked hard all the way but it wasn’t our conditions. We need a long stretch of fast downwind sailing, which we didn’t get this year. We were hoping for a fast leg back from Lampedusa to Malta but it was a close fetch so we only averaged 8 knots. If the wind had turned another 20 degrees, that might have made the difference.”

After Strait Dealer, a number of other Maltese yachts came close to threatening Morning Glory’s lead, including Arthur Podesta’s Elusive and Lee Satariano’s J/109 Artie. However, the only yacht still racing that could possibly take victory from the German Maxi is a J/105, Slingshot. Sailed just two-up by Britons Shaun Murphy and Ric Searle, it seems unimaginable that two men in a boat could possibly challenge a fully-crewed professional Maxi for overall honours and yet the clock is still ticking. Much depends on whether or not the wind continues to blow after the sun sets over Malta.

With thirty-seven boats finished and four retired, 27 yachts are still racing.