Recapping the race, Flavio Flavini, Esimit's skipper said, "It was quite a slow race in the first part, but then towards the coast of Sicily the wind started to increase. The first difficult part was entering the Strait of Messina because at that moment there was very light wind and it was very difficult to get in, but then after a while the current helped and we were able to manage quite well and leave the Strait quite fast."
Esimit led from the race start in Grand Harbour and managed to keep putting distance on Leopard until some 25 miles from the Strait of Messina where the maxi stopped in a big hole and their speed dropped away to zero. Leopard closed the gap, but then found themselves in the same hole.
Esimit managed to restart and gain ground, as Tiziano Nava, the navigator said, "We restarted and Leopard stayed stopped, probably there was some current against them. We gained a lot of miles at that point. For the rest of the race, we sailed pretty well, we made the right sail changes: the wind changed, the angle changed, all the time we had the right sails, so we could produce maximum target speeds, all the time."
Flavini continued the story, and said, "Quite a large area around Sicily was light to very light wind, so quite complicated, because it was difficult not to stop in a wind hole. Towards the Egadi Islands we had some sirocco winds, which helped the boat to accelerate. But then it changed very quickly from the sirocco to the mistral, not too strong, but good enough to move well. The second part of the race was in fact very nice, with a nice breeze and fast." The most wind Esimit saw was about 23 knots between Lampedusa and Malta; the maxi sailed 23 knots, with one reef in the main and a genoa staysail, later changing back up to a full main
About their win Flavini added, "It's really not an easy one, full of tricks and I have to say, it's really a great race. We got line honours, but we do not know how we will end up in handicap. We can't do anything more, just wait. If the wind picks up the small boats will win; if it drops, we might do well.
"For us the big challenge was again Leopard, who won Line Honours last year here, but has also won the Rolex Fastnet, so it's not an easy boat to beat, even more so because it is a very good boat , but I think in this light winds we had an advantage with our boat. If it had been a very windy race, we don't know.
Esimit Europa 2 has had a successful first season taking line honours at the Giraglia Rolex Cup winning the Maxi class at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, and line honours at the Barcolana Race. About Esimit's Rolex Middle Sea Race win, Igor Simcic, owner and project manager said, "This race is much different from the other races, it've very important, very difficult, and winning this race ahead of Leopard is a good message that we are doing our job seriously, that we are preparing ourselves to the maximum, and that we are thinking of the future. We must be perfect today to have a chance tomorrow to take another important step."
Going forward next year, Esimit Europa 2's program is to do the same schedule of regattas, as well as entering the Transpac Race and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Simcic said, "We want to give this message of all Europeans on the same boat very clearly and with the results we are confirming that it the only way to achieve European goals."
This year's weather conditions, lighter than forecast in the speed department, were not conducive to knocking off the course record. Esimit's time was seven hours outside of the course record set by George David's Rambler (USA) of 47 hours, 55 minutes, and 3 seconds.
The race fleet can be tracked online at www.rolexmiddlesearace.com/tracker/#tracker
George David's Rambler (USA) established the current Course Record of 47 hours, 55 minutes, and 3 seconds in 2007. ?To break this record, a Class 1 leader would have to finish on Monday morning before 11.35.
The final prize giving is at 12.00 noon on Saturday 30 October at the Mediterranean Conference Center in Valletta.
For a full archive of photography, media releases and audio files covering the Rolex Middle Sea Race, visit www.regattanews.com
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