Thursday afternoon, at 16:30 CEST, the Maltese First 45 Elusive 2 was announced as the overall winner of the 2019 Rolex Middle Sea Race.
Late last night it had looked likely that 2018 race winner, Géry Trentesaux’s Courrier Recommandé (FRA), might be the first yacht to win the race back-to-back since Nita IV won three in a row between 1978 and 1980.
As it was, the Blackwater incident on Day 4 (Tuesday), which saw a number of yachts standing by to lend assistance to the dismasted catamaran, ended up influencing the results.
The Jury had to sit for several hours today hearing requests for redress from the crews involved. At the end of the final hearing the results were recalculated. Elusive 2 had moved into the lead with a margin of 15 minutes.
Elusive’s arrival at 19:31 Wednesday night was the beginning of 24 more hours of activity at the finish as 26 more yachts filed in, a number helping to complete class podiums.
The stories from the boats were primarily focused upon the extraordinary upwind conditions encountered on the leg from Pantelleria. For most, the wind had not been the problem.
It was the waves that posed the greatest danger. Short, steep and increasing in size as the wind built, yachts were subjected to jarring and slamming as they punched through to Lampedusa. On the following leg to Comino, the angle was a little easier, but it was still an upwind fetch.
Elusive was not the only yacht to receive a time deduction from the Jury. Four Xp 44s, that enjoyed a colossal scrap throughout the race were all awarded time for lending their support.
In the end, it was Sean Borg’s Xpresso that won through, beating their Maltese sistership Xp-act, co-skippered by 14-year-old Richard Schultheis on his first race and Timmy Camilleri on his 26th race, by 30 minutes on corrected time.
In IRC 6, Ludovic Gérard’s JPK 10.80 Solenn (FRA) has provisionally won IRC 6.
Some 54 yachts have completed the course to date. With 17 yachts officially retired, a further 42 are still out on the course.