Over the 44 editions of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, overall victory has been taken by Maltese boats on nine occasions. In the modern history of the race, celebrated local crews have won their class on countless occasions. The Royal Malta Yacht Club actively encourages new sailors, young and old, to take up the challenge of the 606 nautical mile course. For the 2023 Rolex Middle Sea Race, 76 Maltese nationals took part in the race. The top boat after IRC time correction is Sebastian Ripard’s J/99 Calypso, raced double-handed with Sam Pizzuto. Runner-up in the category is Jamie Sammut’s Solaris 42 Unica. Third after IRC time correction and winner of IRC 4 is the Podesta Family’s First 45 Elusive 2. Congratulations to Lee Satariano’s HH42 Artie, 6th in a high calibre fleet in IRC 3 and the first Maltese boat to finish the race. Artie’s skipper Christian Ripard was taking part in his 33rd Rolex Middle Sea Race.
Entries from the Royal Malta Yacht Club with past experience in the race included the Jarhead Young Sailors Foundation, with crew as young as sixteen, finished the race on J/109 JYS Jan skippered by Claudio Bugeja. Jonathan Gambin’s Dufour 44 Ton Ton Laferla also celebrated finishing the Rolex Middle Sea Race once again. Maltese boats taking part in their first race included Horst Huelsey & Jonathan Camilleri Bowman racing J/112 OpenPayd Befree, and Simon Xuereb’s Dufour 40 Spirit of the Winds. Royal Malta Yacht Club member, Stefan Debattista has competed in many races, but this was his first race as an owner with IMX 40 Geisha. Noel Grech has taken part previously, but this was a first for his all-Gozitan crew on First 40.7 Gozo Dream.
Sebastian Ripard and Sam Pizzuto, Calypso, were fifth overall in IRC out of 91 boats, second in IRC Double-Handed, and third in IRC 6.
Jamie Sammut and Unica were in a fierce battle with five boats in IRC 5. Teams from Slovenia, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, and Malta all held the lead during the race. The class was eventually won by the jubilant Slovenian team on Maks Vrecko’s Karpo, second was Frans van Cappelle’s Dutch team on Moana. Jamie Sammut’s Unica won a huge fight for the final podium position against two JPK 1180s Garm and Cocody.
Simon Xuereb’s Spirit of the Winds was the final boat to complete the 2023 race, finishing this morning 05:49:04.
The Rolex Middle Sea Race Prize Giving will take place tomorrow Saturday, 28 October in the impressive Mediterranean Conference Centre, which dates back to the 16th century. Maltese teams will be filled with pride as they are called up to the main stage to receive their awards and, undoubtedly, will receive a huge ovation from the international audience gathered in the spectacular auditorium.