Bert Casal
October 29, 2020    |    

A Rare Repeat

The Rolex Middle Sea Race always demands the highest level of standards in sailors.

The race is an event that sails around the largest Mediterranean island: Sicily. It kicks off at Malta and runs through a counter clockwise course. Upon leaving Malta, the fleet heads north towards Capo Passero and on towards the Strait of Messina, where the active volcano Mt. Etna may be seen from the boats. They continue on their northerly course passing another volcano, Stromboli. They then head west along the Northern coast of Sicily towards the Eadi Islands. Upon passing the islands, they change course to the south towards the island of Lampedusa where they will turn Northeast to the South Comino Channel and the final leg to the finish at the entrance to Marsamxett Harbour.


Despite the current pandemic, the race pushed through and concluded last October 24, 2020. Rolex, a supporter of the competition since 2002, and the Royal Malta Yacht Club worked together to ensure the safety of all. For understandable reasons, the number of entrants for this year’s race fell short of the record-breaking entries of recent races. There were only 50 entrants from 14 countries this year.

The Overall Victory went to the previous year’s winner: the crew of the Maltese yacht Elusive 2. Siblings Maya, Aaron, and Christoph Podesta couldn’t hide their emotions as they were able to win the race two consecutive years. Back-to-back victories is a rare feat in yacht racing of this kind. The last time a team won two consecutive years was the crew of Nello Mazzaferro’s Nita IV from Italy back in 1980. It was last achieved at the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 1965, and at the Rolex Fastnet Race in 1957.


“This race is about physical endurance and mental toughness,” explained Aaron Podesta. “Last year was a mixture of the two. This year, the light weather conditions made it mentally challenging at every corner of the race.” His sister Maya, added: “We hope it gives people a boost. In Malta we have the perfect weather conditions for sailing and potential to do so much more. We hope more younger people are enticed to take up a wonderful sport.”

Line Honors goes to the boat that crosses the finish line first, before factoring in the handicaps. This year’s distinction was fought hard between two yachts. Towards the end of the race, two Polish boats of similar size and design battled for the win: I Love Poland and and E1. The former led for most of the race, but the latter edged ahead at the closing miles of the race. But through sheer determination, backed by their fighting spirit, Grzegorz Baranowski’s crew on I Love Poland crossed the finish line first, ahead of E1 by just three minutes.


“We are very happy,” exclaimed Baranowski. “It was a combination of perfect crew work, perfect navigation, and a bit of luck. Our boat is a special government programme for young sailors to learn offshore sailing. For them, this has been a perfect experience. They now know you have to fight to the end. They will remember this forever.”

Rolex has always been associated with activities driven by passion, excellence, precision, and team spirit. They are the Title Sponsor of 15 major international events from leading offshore races to grand prix competitions. Their partnership with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Royal Ocean Racing Club, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Royal Malta Yacht Club, New York Yacht Club, and Royal Yacht Squadron, among others, are the foundation of its enduring relationship with this dynamic sport.


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