The Middle Sea Race is my favorite med race for several reasons, one of them being the variable conditions the boats are subject to, very typical in what regards the med conditions. Being raced at the end of October gives it the probability of having some nasty weather and that happened before on a number of occasions and also this year.
On the first phase of the leg, from Malta to the Messina strait, they got very light upwind winds to the point that they struggled to pass the strait, going against the current, making in most cases 2 or 3k. Then on the second phase, in the North coast of Sicily they got 33k winds gusting 45. On the West coast of Sicily they had on the beam 25k gusting 35k and finally going to Malta they had again winds over 30, gusting 40k or more.
Going against the wind here with 4 to 5 meters waves is not the same thing as on the Atlantic where that does not pose any particular difficulty. On the med the waves are much steeper and with a shorter period. Very nasty to say the least and difficult, a lot of power needed to make way.
So you get the picture, great race to see how different types of hulls behave on different conditions and on this race, besides pure racing boats there are a huge number of recent performance cruisers racing, among them a Pogo 50, several Xp44, several J122, 2 JPK 1080, a Sunfast 3600, a First 45 a Salona 41 and many other recent production boats.
Of course many of them threw the towel, given the conditions, but we can take lots of information regarding the performance of those boats. Starting with the race boats, great race from Hugo Boss, a Imoca 60ft boat, designed for solo sailing and maximized for downwind sailing that proved here that is not so bad upwind (amazing), losing just a bit, having to go to a higher latitude before coming down but then faster than anybody else, including Rambler, catching and overtaking the Maxi racer CQS (98ft) and closing on Leopard, another Maxi racer (100ft).
Near Pantelleria Island Hugo Boss was just on Leopard’s tail but then the different sails, asymmetric Spinnaker on Hugo Boss and symmetric on Leopard allowed the last one to sail at a higher wind angle downwind and therefore make better way. Anyway, great race for Hugo Boss that sails in third place (in real time). It may not be maximized to sail upwind but it is certainly maximized to sail in strong winds and the conditions on the last part of the race have suit it well. Right now is the fastest on the fleet, Rambler included.
Among the racing boats the other one that really is impressing me is a little 35ft, that even on these conditions is 10th on the fleet, a boat from the other side of the world (NZ), Crusader an Elliot 35. What a race!!! What a boat!!!
On the group ahead of that little racer there are other boats making a great race, namely Caro, a very special (and beautiful) 65fter, the first of the cruiser racers, sailing in 5th place, a Botin design made by Knierim.
Next, at about the same distance Caro is from CQS, come two racers, an older one, a Cookson 50, Kukka 3 and a 46ft state of the art racer featuring DSS, Maverick, a Infiniti 46R designed by Hugh Welbourn, the father of DSS.
You can follow the race here: http://www.rolexmiddlesearace.com/tracker/#pt