The Rolex Middle Sea Race has established itself as one of the major regattas on the international scene during the last decade or so and this year the annual race is again set to host a huge fleet after organisers confirmed that over 100 boats are expected to be on the starting line at the Valletta Grand Harbour on Saturday.
Godwin Zammit, the Royal Malta Yacht Club Commodore, told a news conference yesterday that the RMSR has attracted participants from 30 countries.
“We are pleased to announce that this year we are close to reaching the same numbers of last year’s edition as we are expecting over 100 crews for Saturday’s start,” Zammit told a news conference at the Royal Malta Yacht Club yesterday.
“We have a fleet coming from more than 30 countries including Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom and even as far from Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
“There are several yachts who keep coming back to our race year after year and that shows that we must be doing something right.”
The race will get under way on Saturday with the fleet being split into six groups with the first to sail off for the 608 nautical miles regatta at 11am.
The race start will reach its climax around midday when the Maxis will head out last in what promises to be a real spectacle for the crowd present.
Race Director Peter Dimech said that the Valletta Grand Harbour will be closed for traffic as from 9am on Saturday morning and he appealed to the public to follow the instructions of Transport Malta officials.
On his part Louay Habib, who is co-ordinating the media office, is anticipating a very close race and hinted that this year’s weather conditions could provide plenty of excitement.
“The weather forecast for this year’s race may well provide a lot of thrills,” Habib told reporters yesterday.
“The forecast is for moderate south east winds on Saturday but as from Monday the wind is set to pick up considerably and that could set up a thrilling battle for the main honours.
“George David’s Rambler have been racing at the Rolex Middle Sea Race for the last three years and have yet to show their true potential. But this year might be their year to have a real go at the race record.
“If the weather forecast is correct they should have the right conditions to reach up to 30 knots of speed and that would put the record in real danger.”
Malta will be represented by six syndicates for this year’s race and Habib has not ruled out the prospect of seeing a local boat claiming the prestigious MSR Trophy.
“Experience in recent years have shown that you can never rule out the Maltese boats,” he said.
“They may lack a professional crew but every year they manage to get in contention for overall victory. I would not be surprised if any of the Maltese boats will be among the challengers for overall victory.”