COMANCHE IN THE ROLEX MIDDLE SEA RACE
The Rolex Middle Sea Race 2021 will be remembered for exceptional weather conditions that put the skills of the 114 participating crews to the test and that allowed the achievement of two consecutive records in just a few hours. The supermaxi Comanche, skippered by the Australian Mitch Booth and with the Spanish Willy Altadill on board, achieved the triple crown by winning in real time, setting a new record and taking the absolute victory, a milestone only achieved by two other boats in the 53 years history of the regatta.
The 42nd edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race reaffirmed the regatta’s exceptional reputation as the absolute benchmark for ocean competition in the Mediterranean. Organized by the Royal Malta Yacht Club since 1968, and with the collaboration of Rolex since 2002, the test began in the majestic Grand Harbor of Malta, at the foot of the historic bastions of Valletta, on Saturday 23 October with a weather report. heralding a quick sprint on his 606-mile course around Sicily in a counterclockwise direction. The fastest monohulls among the fleet of 114 boats that took off would soon begin to dream of breaking the record in force since 2007, when George David’s Rambler set a time of 47 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds.
Throughout its half century of existence, the Rolex Middle Sea Race has shown itself capable of handling all kinds of conditions. Its peculiar circular route, which begins and ends at the same point, tends to throw winds of different directions and intensities against the participants, ranging from the harshest to the most exasperating calmed ones. On this occasion, an exceptional weather window offered fast downwind navigation practically the entire route.
Leading the charge, the multihull quartet literally flew around Sicily. The MOD70 Argo, skippered by American Jason Carroll, stopped the clock in an impressive 33 hours, 29 minutes and 28 seconds, the fastest time of all time.
In the fight for the absolute title in the IRC category, the monohull fleet included in this edition an impressive collection of supermaxis, among which was the largest ship in the history of the event: the ClubSwan 125 Skorpios, measuring 42.56 meters. length. Skippered by the Olympic champion and Rolex 2005 Best Sailor of the Year Fernando Echávarri, leading a crew full of Spaniards, arrived in Malta after making his debut in competition with a brand new real-time victory in the Rolex Fastnet Race. The Skorpios faced its first Rolex Middle Sea Race with the vitola of maximum candidate for the title, but after dominating much of the route it was surpassed by the other colossus of the fleet, the 100 feet (30.48 meters) Comanche, holder of several world speed records and real-time winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart three times. Under Australian skipper Mitch Booth, Comanche reached Malta first with a time of 40 hours, 17 minutes and 50 seconds, setting a new record for monohulls by dropping the previous best mark, unbeaten since 2007, by seven and a half hours.
Despite the exceptional effort made by the smaller, less powerful but exceptionally well-manned boats, the Comanche was ultimately declared the winner of the compensated time regatta, becoming the third boat in history to achieve the triple crown: winner in real time. , record and outright winner. She is already listed in the Rolex Middle Sea Race gold book along with Robert McNeil’s Zephyrus IV, who got it in 2000, and George David’s Rambler, in 2007.
Back at the Royal Malta Yacht Club, Mitch Booth confirmed that conditions favored his boat:
“The Rolex Middle Sea Race is one of the most important events in ocean racing, and getting the treble is something exceptional. This weather window was perfect and we were lucky enough to pass each turning point of the tour at just the right time. We had everything: strong winds, rain, lightning, huge waves… It was quite a challenge ”.
Among the spectacular Comanche crew, of which the Spaniard Willy Altadill was a part, this edition made his debut in this edition the Olympic champion and skipper of the Australia SailGP team, Tom Slingsby, whose exceptional record includes the titles of Best Rolex Sailor in the World in 2010 and champion from America’s Cup:
“The course of the race is beautiful, circling islands in changing conditions with many geographical factors at play and then finishing where we started is something new for me. I will definitely return ”.
As the faster ships rested back to Malta, for the predominantly amateur crews of the rest of the fleet, time and the sea were brutal. The conditions on the course would require them to find the right balance between prudence and performance, as explained by the experienced sailor of the Maltese HH42 Artie, Christian Ripard, participant in 31 editions:
“At night we were able to sail at 28 knots. In those circumstances you have to be careful. Thanks to the experience of our crew, we are able to push the boat hard. You have that point where you want to win, but you are on the tightrope, and you have to make sure that you stay on that rope. ”
The Rolex Middle Sea Race of 2021 will be remembered as the edition of the records, a regatta of exceptional conditions in which the participants, both professionals and especially amateurs, had to resort to their highest skills in seamanship, courage and determination to complete the race. route.