The 30.48m/100ft Maxi Comanche (CAY) has been confirmed as the overall winner of the 42nd Rolex Middle Sea Race. Skippered by Mitch Booth, the exceptional crew of 23 included in its ranks the likes of Will Oxley, as navigator, Tom Slingsby, Kyle Langford, Shannon Falcone, Hugo Rocha, Justin Slattery, Willy Altadill and Luke Molloy. Victory under IRC time correction is added to the monohull line honours and monohull race record secured in a contest dominated, initially at least, by what many have described as a once in a lifetime weather system.
Comanche finished the race on the morning of Monday 25 October and was in pole position until the arrival of the JPK 1180 Sunrise on the afternoon of Tuesday 26 October. The race narrative then altered in the early hours of Wednesday 27 October, with some 23 boats still on the racecourse. A serious and adverse change to the weather forecast led the Royal Malta Yacht Club Race Committee to invoke the alternative finish line, as per the sailing instructions.
“The decision to invoke Sailing Instruction (SI) 11.3, was made after careful consideration of a changing weather pattern and the potential danger to those yachts that were still racing, when approaching the finish,” explains Peter Dimech, Principal Race Officer of the Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC) for 12 years. “First and foremost, the RMYC has to consider the safety and wellbeing of those participants that are still at sea. SI 11.3 enables the Race Committee to use an alternative finish line in the South Comino Channel if severe weather conditions make it unsafe to enter Marsamxett Harbour. The rule was written specifically in anticipation of the forecast severe north-easterly, which would have made Marsamxett Harbour extremely dangerous to enter. For that reason, we made the call, which was announced to all competitors whether finished or racing, in accordance with rules.”
According to available records, this is the first time in the 53-year history of the Rolex Middle Sea Race that the alternative finish line has had to be used. 19 yachts have been able to finish the race using this line.
As a consequence of the decision, all yachts taking part have been scored for the purposes of time correction using the alternative finish line. Competing in IRC Class One, Comanche’s corrected time to the alternative finish line of three days six hours 30 minutes and 20 seconds has proved just over an hour faster than second placed Sunrise (IRC Class Five) and almost four hours ahead of Daguet 3 – Corum in third (IRC Class One). No one left racing is able to meet the time required to change this result.
Comanche has achieved the trifecta of overall winner, monohull line honours and a monohull race record. Comanche’s race record of 40 hours, 17 minutes and 50 seconds is based upon the full course distance of 606nm.
Two boats have previously achieved this monohull triple crown: Robert McNeil’s 22.86m/75ft Zephyrus IV in 2000 and George David’s 27.5m/90ft Rambler in 2007. Jason Carroll’s MOD 70 trimaran Argo (USA) also completed a triple crown winning the Multihull Class under MOCRA time correction, taking multihull line honours and setting a new outright race record of 33 hours, 29 minutes and 28 seconds.
Some 89 yachts of the 114 that took part in the race have so far finished with 25 officially retiring.
The 2021 Rolex Middle Sea Race prize giving takes place on Saturday 30 October at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, the former Sacra Infermeria built in the 16th century by the Order of St John.