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Shockwave Prepares for Middle Sea Race

RMSR6The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a highly rated offshore classic, often mentioned in the same breath as the Rolex Fastnet, The Rolex Sydney – Hobart and Newport-Bermuda as a “must do” race.

RMSR5The Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club co-founded the race in 1968 and 2014 will be the 35rd Edition. The event’s fascination is largely drawn from its alluring, 608-nautical-mile racecourse – a rigorous anti-clockwise loop around Sicily which introduces numerous “corners” that present changing and complex meteorological shifts. The route includes the deep azure waters around Sicily including the Aeolian and Egadi Islands, as well as Pantelleria and Lampedusa. One of the most stunning vistas is Stromboli, the active volcano which is a course mark.

RMSR4

Rolex Middle Sea Race Course

2014 marks the first year that the R/P 72 Shockwave has participated in the race. Having won this years Caribbean 600 and Newport-Bermuda Race, Shockwave is looking to build on its impressive offshore record.   As with past races, Doyle Sailmakers founder Robbie Doyle will be sailing with the team on Shockwave as the stratitician.

Q:  As the stratitician on board  Shockwave, can you compare this race to any other? The Around Britain race? What is it about this race that will be unique?

A. I have more work to prepare for the race, but from what I have read to date I don’t see it comparable to any other race that I have done. The time of year in which it is raced means the weather can be almost anything. Unlike some other races like the Newport-Bermuda Race (where we had a very precise weather forecast narrowed in), we are setting the boat up for any eventuality which means we will carry a maximum number of sails and accept the penalty for rig adjustment.

Q. The Rolex Middle Sea Race is deemed to have unsurpassed scenery with its course, taking competitors close to a number of islands within the Maltese archipelago, which form marks on the course. Ted Turner described the MSR as “the most beautiful race course in the world”.  However, the islands must pose some serious navigational challenges. Is there anything else about this race that is a potential challenge like the proximity to Africa, the northeast tip of Sicily and the western area called Favignana – will this be different than say the Newport Bermuda – in what way?

RMSR2A. Navigationally this race is very challenging. Unlike Bermuda where you have an open ocean, but some artificial gates such as the most desirable point to enter the Gulf Stream, this Race has real gates such as the Straights of Messina that is only 1.6 nm wide, and can have 4 knots of current running through it. One needs to position themselves to take maximum advantage of the current, or to avoid the worst of the currents.

It has strong tidal currents that vary massively producing eddies and a bubbling effect in the water known locally as Bastardi’s. Rounding Islands is always tricky as there are always local effects, particularly when rounding high lands such as Strombolini Volcano.

Q. Shockwave has enjoyed a remarkable season with winning the Caribbean 600, the first-to-finish, as well as overall winner in the Gibbs Hill Division, during the Newport Bermuda race, winning your class in the Regata Copa del Rey in Spain, and enjoying a full season of racing in Europe.  Is the Middle Sea Race the last of the season for Shockwave. What’s next?

A. Its our final race for this season. We will begin next season with Key West Race Week in January, then the Jamaica Race, and then back to Europe.

Q. This year’s race entry currently stands at more than 123 participants, up from the 99 participants last year.  Is there something about this year’s event that is different? Is the playing field changing/evolving and in what way?

RMSR3A. My feeling is Ocean Racing is making a comeback all around the world. I feel yachtsman are a bit tired of too many around the buoy racing and are looking for the adventure and experience that only offshore racing can bring.

More information on the Rolex Middle Sea Race can be found here, and after the race’s start on be sure to follow along after the start on Saturday, October 18th here.

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