The second inshore race of the Rolex Middle Sea Race Week took place today, taking the fleet out and back around the island of Comino, 13 miles from Valletta.
The light to medium Westerly winds saw the fleet start downwind from the Royal Malta Yacht Club line. The first boat home was again Alfa Romeo who managed to collect corrected time honours as well.
The downwind start didn't suit everybody in the confined waters of the Lazzaretto Creek that sits between Manoel Island and walled-city of Valletta. The gap is just 400 metres wide and with spinnakers set, three boats found themselves crossing the start line before the gun had fired. Skip Sheldon's Zaraffa, Alfred MANDUCA's Maltese Falcon and Chris SALIBA's Primavera II all lost time as they returned to start correctly.
Marking the corner of Valletta Harbour is Tigne Point, less than a mile from the start line. Amongst the small boats Sonke STEIN's Oh Jee was second to Tigne Point behind the giant Alfa Romeo, the German boat having sailed a course much closer to the shore than most of the larger boats around her. It was here that each boat in turn dropped its spinnaker, hauled in sails and started upwind along the coast. In spite of the premature start the American boat Zaraffa quickly found her feet past Tigne Point moving into second place on the water.
The 26-mile course took the fleet upwind along the East coast of Malta Island before requiring a tack to round Comino Island. Shortly after the tack sheets were eased during rounding of the low-lying resort island and spinnakers were set again for the run home. Neville CRICHTON's New Zealand-registered boat crossed the finish line just over two and half hours after the start and nearly 40 minutes ahead of nearest rival Zaraffa. The elapsed time gap represents more than 10 minutes on corrected time once handicaps have been applied.
Tomorrow, Friday, is a day off and the 607-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race will start at 11:00 on Saturday.
Results will be available on-line at the website below.