Although Hasso PLATTNER (GER) finished two days ago, such is the handicap system that a number of small yachts could have overhauled the Maxi if they had arrived just a few hours earlier today.
Strait Dealer, David FRANKS's (MLT) J/125, was the first Maltese boat to cross the finish line at 10:38 on Thursday morning. Taking first place in the local fleet is always a source of pride among the island's tight-knit yachting community, although the crew had hoped that maybe they could win overall - even against the professional crews of the super maxis.
Co-navigator and one of the helmsmen David ANASTASI (MLT) commented, 'Top Maltese boat is great, although we were hoping for the overall win too of course, but we are happy. We worked hard all the way but it wasn't our conditions. We need a long stretch of fast downwind sailing, which we didn't get this year. We were hoping for a fast leg back from Lampedusa to Malta but it was a close fetch so we only averaged 8 knots. If the wind had turned another 20 degrees, that might have made the difference.'
Last Monday as Strait Dealer was negotiating the windless northern coast of Sicily, it was owner FRANKS's 60th birthday. Bowman Andre ROSSIGNAU (MLT) said the crew had managed to sneak a bottle of champagne on board the 41 foot boat. 'Before the race David had told us, 'No bottles, no glass,' so he gave us a telling off about having the extra weight on board when we brought out the bubbly!' laughed ROSSIGNAU. The crew even enjoyed birthday brownies and apple pie.
After Strait Dealer, a number of other Maltese yachts came close to threatening Morning Glory's lead, including Arthur PODESTA's (MLT) Elusive and Lee SATARIANO's (MLT) J/109 Artie. The J/105, Slingshot, sailed just two-up by Britons Shaun MURPHY and Ric SEARLE, came close to taking victory from the German Maxi. But they eventually came in a couple of hours short the required time and currently lie third in the IRC standings, behind Morning Glory and Artie.
As for other boats in the 68 strong fleet, there are many moments to savour from the past week. Andrea CASALE (ITA), the mainsheet trimmer on Swan 45 DSK Comifin from Italy, was pleased just to reach Malta, although the team performed very well on handicap too. 'The goal was just to complete the course. We knew it was a hard race after how few boats finished last year. I think we had the best conditions for this boat because the winds were not too strong, and I think we played all the decisions very well. We had good navigation and good weather calls.'