The 44th Rolex Middle Sea Race has welcomed its first finisher, as the MOD70 Limosa, skippered by Alexia Barrier, rolled over the line at 1.30pm on Monday afternoon.
Taking multihull line honours for the second year in a row, as skipper of a maxi trimaran, is an important achievement Barrier.
She and her Famous Project team have their eyes set on the greater prize of an all-woman round-the-world record attempt in 2025.
The 2023 Rolex Middle Sea Race was regarded as an important rung on the ladder to that goal. Elsewhere, the majority of the monohull fleet continues its circumnavigation of Sicily, with close battles ongoing throughout the 100 entries still racing.
Limosa’s elapsed time of 50 hours, 10 minutes and 42 seconds was well off the record pace of 33 hours, 29 minutes, 28 seconds set by Argo in 2021.
However, most of the course was upwind so it stacks up well against previous MOD70 ventures by more experienced teams.
On the dock in Marsamxett Harbour, Alexia Barrier was thrilled to have successfully completed the 606nm course without mishap. Her nine person multi-national crew, including co-skipper Dee Caffari (GBR), Elodie-Jane Mettraux (FRA), Marie Riou (FRA), Sara Hastreiter (USA), Jonny Malbon (FRA), Jeff Mearing (GBR), Tom Dawson (GBR), Robin Christol (FRA), had performed admirably given it was the first time for some on a MOD70 multihull in race mode.
“Even though we were alone we always pushed hard. We did know from the beginning that it would not be the weather to challenge for the record, but we did try our best and I think it was one of our best experiences this year,” said Barrier.
“In French we say, ‘never two without three’, so maybe next year we will come back and win again!”
In the monohull line honours contest, the big news of the day was the dismasting just south of Favignana of American entry Lucky, Bryan Ehrhart’s 27 metre Juan K flier, and the former five-time first finisher Rambler 88.
Receiving the news around 8am, the Royal Malta Yacht Club Race Control was quick to establish all crew were safe and well, and to offer any assistance required. Lucky has now taken on fuel and is motoring back to Malta.
Taking a broader view at 4pm, Leopard 3 looks to have finally achieved a few miles separation from Andrea Recordati’s Italian Wally 93, Bullitt, and is powering upwind on port tack into the penultimate turn at Lampedusa.
The 30.78m maxi from Monaco is expected into Malta in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The rest of the fleet is spread out over some 300nm, with the backmarker, Beppe Bisotto’s double-handed entry Atame, some 15nm from Stromboli.
Away from the multihull and handicap classes, the 2023 Rolex Middle Sea Race has attracted a small fleet of Class 40s, with four entries.
The standout boat among the four so far has been the Croatian Mach 2 ACI 40, owned and skippered by Ivica Kostelic, the former ski racer with four Olympic silver medals and one world championship gold to his name, along with many other honours in the sport.
Leading the class by eight nautical miles from Karnak skippered by Stefano Raspadori, Kostelic called from just off San Vito lo Capo on Tuesday morning.
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