The thirty-fifth edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, which we like to refer to amicably as the “Fastnet de’ Noantri,” or the race that everyone in the Mediterranean would like to take part in, starts today at 11 a.m. There is one point in common with the legendary British kermesse: the length of the course (608 miles on the Plymouth-Fastnet Rock-Plymouth route, compared with 606 for the Middle).
A BREATHTAKING ROUTE
But the views that the Mare Nostrum is able to offer are a different story: the Middle Sea Race is scheduled to start in Valletta, Malta, and the route to be followed, counterclockwise, goes from Sicily to the Aeolian Islands (including Strombolicchio), continues around the Egadi Islands (except the island of Marettimo), Pantelleria and Lampedusa, then crosses the Channel south of the island of Comino and ends in the port of Marsamxett.
THE REGATTA THAT BEWITCHED THE “GREATS”
Ted Turner, the founder of CNN (as well as winner of two America’s Cups, in 1974 and ’77) called the Middle Sea the regatta “with the most beautiful course in the world.” To be bewitched by the allure of the regatta (born in 1968), in addition to Turner, many of sailing’s holy monsters: Eric Tabarly, Cino Ricci, Herbert von Karajan, Jim Dolan, Sir Chay Blyth and Sir Francis Chichester, just to name a few.
ABSOLUTE RECORD NUMBER OF REGISTRANTS: 122!
And, in more recent years, the appeal of the event has grown exponentially: if in 2013 an all-time record of participants was set, with 99 boats at the start, this year the wall of 100 was literally broken: 122 boats at the start, an all-time record, with 23 nations represented (33 Italians). The record to beat, for real time victory hunters (above all Igor Simcic’s Reichel/Pugh 100 Esimit Europa 2 ), is the one set by Rambler in 2007: 47 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds. There will also be Michele Galli’s TP52 B2 (with Giorgio Benussi aboard), winner in IRC Overall of the last edition of the regatta, as many as two Italian Class 40s (those of Sergio Frattaruolo and Alessio Verardo). And so many other wonderful boats. www.rolexmiddlesearace.com