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25 October 2006, 08:20 am
Elation And Frustration
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Rolex Middle Sea Race 2006

Alfa Romeo fulfilled her status as favourite for line honours in the Rolex Middle Sea Race when the sleek 100 foot super maxi ghosted across the finish line in Malta at 14:42 on Tuesday afternoon.
No ALT tag specifiedSkipper Neville CRICHTON (NZL) was pleased to have won the race across the water but had also hoped to improve on the race record of 64 hours, 49 minutes and 57 seconds set by the maxi yacht Zephyrus six years ago. 'We're pleased but also pretty disappointed. We seemed to find every parking spot on the track. We had a big lead at Stromboli and again at Palermo, but the other two maxis [Thuraya Maximus and Morning Glory] seemed to carry the wind better down the back of Sicily.'

After a searing start from Malta three days ago in good winds, Alfa Romeo's speed peaked at 23 knots and as the yacht approached the southern shores of Sicily she was well ahead of record pace. Navigator Murray SPENCE (NZL) said, 'We definitely thought the race record was on. We had a very good first day, and we got through the Strait of Messina pretty well, so we were optimistic. But then along the top of Sicily the wind died and we parked up.'

Stop-Start Affair

From then on, Alfa Romeo's race became a very stop-start affair, and the 20 miles from Palermo to Trapani was a particularly painful time for CRICHTON's crew as Morning Glory and Thuraya Maximus closed the gap by 40 miles. Since then CRICHTON's maxi rivals have been breathing down his neck. As Alfa Romeo turned the final corner for the finish in Marsamxett Harbour, the two chasing Maxis were still battling out in their private duel. Despite Morning Glory being 14 feet shorter and quite a bit smaller than the 100 foot Thuraya Maximus, Hasso PLATTNER's (GER) yacht had led its bigger rival for most of the course. They have been leapfrogging each other from the very start of the race on Sunday morning, although in the dying miles before the finish Paul CAYARD (USA) steered the larger maxi past Morning Glory to take the runners up spot, finishing at 16:36:02, just 15 minutes in front of Morning Glory.

Regatta News (As Amended by ISAF). Image, Alfa Romeo scored line honours victory:© Rolex/Kurt ARRIGO
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