Shaun Murphy och Roger Barber i sin J/105 “Slingshot” vann shorthandklassen på Rolex Middle Sea Race (man var enda shorthandbåt som tog sig i mål). Foto: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.
Förra året var man trea totalt trots att man bara var två ombord!
“It was always going to be challenging because of the weather forecast, so we had that in mind. The boat had been here a year and was well prepared in advance. When we arrived it was ready to race and we didn’t actually go sailing beforehand,” explained co-skipper Shaun Murphy. “Our idea was to race to the top of the Strait and then take a call on the weather. The run up was good. We had a bit of damage [to the main] when we were hit by 38-knots, so we brought the main down to do a bit of repair. We were under trysail for a while, so we were quite slow at that stage. There was certainly no rush because we knew the weather was up there. Getting [to Messina] any faster would not help us,” he added.
After the Strait, Slingshot enjoyed a nice reach to Stromboli, but difficulties were not far away. ” The black clouds started to appear just as we approached Stromboli. I can only describe it as a curtain of cloud heading towards us. Strong lightning strikes were hitting the water and we decided to run away from them trying to circumnavigate the thunderstorm. It was at least three to four hours before we could get past the volcano. We saw other boats turning around at this point and even though we knew we were going into heavier weather we decided to carry on. We had the experience and were confident in the boat,” said Murphy.
The strongest winds they saw were in excess of 50-knots. Sailing under trysail for much of the second day Murphy and crew Roger Barber made every effort to conserve themselves, remain flexible with the watch system and keep the boat going. Talking through every procedure and manoeuvre before doing it they returned to the “ABC of sailing” according to Murphy, adding “we haven’t got 20 people to come and help us out if the sail goes in the water. We’re extra cautious and do our utmost to minimize mistakes to allow us to continue sailing fast and safe.” The objective was always to get to the finish line even if that meant occasionally sailing in the wrong direction to escape thunder and lightning strikes.
Murphy has now completed the Rolex Middle Sea Race double-handed on two occasions and is a great favourite at the Royal Malta Yacht Club. He is also a great enthusiast for the race and intends to do it again as often as possible.