Rolex Middle Sea Race report 2014
The 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race proved to be the most testing race we have ever competed in to date. With light winds to start and gales to finish our powers of patience, tolerance, resilience and determination were for sure put to the test. After a great start and fast first leg to Sicily, flying our new code zero we were slightly disappointed to find ourselves in 17th place in class 5 at the first official check point. Undeterred we toiled with the game of snakes and ladders of light airs sailing for the next 2 days to the west tip of Sicily, that’s when things started to change! With the barometer dropping like a stone and the sky filled first with high alt stratus clouds stretching from the horizon, then a black wall of rain filled Cumulus clouds we new we were in for a fast leg to Pantalleria. At the Favignana check point we were up to 9th in class, a bit more like it but still lots to do.
Racing down wind towards Pantalleria as dawn broke we set one reef and soon needed reef two as well, that’s when our luck ran out, the main sail ripped at the leech and we were forced to drop it and replace it with the Trisail, boat speed took a big hit, although it became a tad easier to control. The wind increased and increased and the sea state became ridiculous as we rounded Pantalleria, now up to 4th place in class and an incredible 7th overall out of 126 starters…woo hoo! We had the bit between our teeth and bore away for the night time sleigh ride to Lampadusa.
At Lampadusa the wind had peaked to just short of 50 knots and we made the tuff decision to take some shelter before popping out in to the wind that would now be forward of the beam, (unbeknown to us we were lying 3rd overall at that point). We were unable to find a safe place in the harbour so after some hot food on board we re-joined the race, half way to Gozo the wind began to ease so we bent on the spare mainsail and started pushing Seawolf at full speed again. Our efforts paid off, crossing the finish line under full sail on Thursday morning we secured 2nd place in ORC class 5, 3rd place in IRC class 5 and a respectable 12th place overall. Congratulations to the fantastic crew.
Could we have gone faster…for sure, should we have stopped for a while….definitely not. What we did do was sail as hard and fast as we could at the time, made the sail changes we could handle at the time, pushed ourselves and the boat as hard as we could at the time, did not retire like 50% of the fleet, with hindsight everyone can win races, we gave 100% and survived the toughest race to date with no injury’s, a great boat in one piece, new strengths and life bonding friendships and well deserved podium finishes. Roll on RMSR 2015.