Yes the Med in the end of October can be quite nasty and about half of the editions of this race are prove of that. This year was a rough one even if the beautiful movies of the departure did not indicate that, but the Med can change on a blink of an eye and that happened this year.
Waiting from the on boat movies, that this year will be certainly great, we have already some interesting news: There is a brand new A13 racing and is making a hell of a race covering 160Nm at the average speed of 18K!!!. There is also a Xp44 and two J122 making a great race. As usual on this race I bet that the class40 racers will be beaten by fast narrower performance cruisers: Definitively not at ease on the Med, the class40.
The big fast racers had already arrived and as usual the fastest was the already old (and narrow) Maxi Esimit Europe that had finished in d3 h10 m42 s5 followed two hours later by Ran and then Schockwave, the two mini maxi. They were the only ones that made it in less than 4 days.
Regarding the conditions this description by the skipper of a famous boat, the Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster is enlightening: “We have two reefs in the main and the storm jib up, we saw 48 knots of wind and we have seen waves of over 20 feet. It is pretty tasty out here and we are most definitely concentrating on keeping everyone safe on board rather than boat speed. However, we surfed down a wave and it was too much for the rudder. It was a sickening sight as half of it appeared out of the back of the boat and for us the race is now over. Although Pantelleria is only a short distance away, we cannot steer towards the harbour there, so we are making are way towards Mazara del Vallo on the Sicilian coast and should be their tonight – absolutely gutted would be an understatement.”
Or this description by the skipper of the leading J122 (IRC 4): “The waves have been as high as 30 feet and the wind speed often gusting above 40 knots, it has been a really wild ride.” Commented Sebastian. “With the full main and jib top sail, we have been flying along. The game plan has been a mixture of pushing as hard as we can but also protecting the boat, so we have been taking it a bit easier in the big gusts of over 40 knots and then going for it when the wind speed drops a little.
All the way to Lampedusa we have been VMG running but when we turn the corner, Artie will be on a beam reach and we expect the waves to be crashing into the cockpit. Everybody will be on the rail, head down, hiking out for the final 100 miles. We expect to finish the race late this evening at around midnight.”
Some very nice pictures here that show the conditions out there:
and some movies of past editions that show how tough it can be:
After having made this post I have took knowledge that things were (are) a lot worse: Three sailboats had to be helped and one has abandoned with a broken mast. It is not clear if they were all racing. The Coastal Guard had issued a warning today at 13.00, talking about a prohibitive conditions and a F8 that was going to increase inviting all participants to suspend the regatta and to enter on the nearest port. After that "invitation" several boats retired and some had to be helped to make it to port.
The situation is confuse but at least half of the 122 boats seem to have made it to port but probably many have retired and made it to port but probably there are still boats in trouble.
As I have been said, the Weather on the some Med areas is very difficult to predict and a F6/7 can become something frightening. I hope they all make it to safety.