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WATCH: Strong Winds Result In Blistering Take Off For 50th Edition Of Rolex Middle Sea Race

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Cover photo right: Trudy Kerr
Cover photo left: Kurt Arrigo

The 2018 Rolex Middle Sea Race officially started Saturday morning, with headwinds entering the Grand Harbour in Valletta turning the beginning of the 606-mile race into quite the speedy affair.

There were a record-breaking 130 starting boats competing in the 50th Anniversary of this prolific race – there were just eight competitors in the inaugural edition, back in 1968.

A record 149 entries were received by the Royal Malta Yacht Club for the 2018 race, and nine Maltese vessels are participating in this year’s event

There are also some highly-respected dignitaries taking part, such as two of the race’s co-founders, Alan Green and John Ripard.

Godwin Zammit, Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club, was excited to be hosting such a large and diverse fleet: “Looking back 50 years to the eight boats that set off on the original adventure, it is hard to believe how far we have come. We are thrilled that our race remains such a popular challenge for today’s offshore sailor. Achieving a record fleet in our anniversary year is testament to many things: the unique character of the course, the attraction and challenge of offshore sailing, and the tireless efforts of the volunteer members of our club that come together each year to bring this event to fruition.”

The race started on a strong note, with winds aiding the boats in their departure

Northeastern winds at about 15 to 18 knots greeted the sea vessels as they took off in droves between 11am and noon, headed for Sicily. The first boats to leave were four multi-hull boats, such as the Allegra from Switzerland.

The Maserati, the Powerplay, the R6 and the Black Pearl competed to the delight of crowds that assembled on the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens in Valletta.

The race is famous for its typically Mediterranean conditions, and the sheer number of entries into this year’s edition indicates just how much the race has grown. The headwinds meant the boats were practically flying out of the Grand Harbour early Saturday afternoon.

The race is now on to see which team will be crowned overall champions of this very special edition of this classic race.

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Photo: Trudy Kerr

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