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Rolex Middle Sea Race - Rambler 88 leads

104 yachts from 30 different nations started the 38th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race on Saturday.Rambler 88 of USA -

Watched by thousands of well-wishers lining the historic Grand Harbour and thousands more via a live link, the 606-mile Mediterranean classic offshore race got off on time.

George David's American Maxi, Rambler 88, has made the best of the light breeze dominating the first 24 hours to build a commanding lead over her rivals.

Pressing on through the sticky conditions, Rambler had reached Stromboli Sunday afternoon with the majority of the fleet still to pass through the Messina Strait.

As expected, near gale force winds arrived in the early hours of Monday morning rapidly changing the character of the 38th Rolex Middle Sea Race

Leading yacht, Rambler 88 is on the downwind leg to Lampedusa, currently with Leopard, Hugo Boss and CQS in hot pursuit.

Further back, there are a number of yachts still passing through the Messina Strait. A nasty change in the prevailing winds awaits the crews.

The Mistral driven breeze has built waves of up to four metres and the Tyrrhenian Sea is a turbulent spot right now.

40 knots of wind and a significant sea state are expected to push the yachts south to Lampedusa and the eventual turn back towards Malta.

So far, six boats have officially retired: Proteus (USA), Hispaniola (LTU), Jings! (GBR) Vamos Adelante (ITA), Wind (RUS), Xpresso (MLT). All crew are safe and well.

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