The 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. The Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club co-founded the race in 1968 and 2010 will be the 31st Edition. Save for a break between 1984 and 1995 the event has been run annually attracting 25 -30 yachts. In recent years, the number of entries has rissen sharply to 78 boats thanks to a new Organising Committee who managed to bring Rolex on board as title sponsor for the Middle Sea Race.
The race is a true challenge to skippers and crews who have to be at their very best to cope with the often changeable and demanding conditions. Equally, the race is blessed with unsurpassed scenery with its course, taking competitors close to a number of islands, which form marks of the course. Ted Turner described the MSR as “the most beautiful race course in the world”.
Apart from Turner, famous competitors have included Eric Tabarly, Cino Ricci, Herbert von Karajan, Jim Dolan, Sir Chay Blyth and Sir Francis Chichester (fresh from his round the world adventure). High profile boats from the world’s top designers take part, most in pursuit of line honours and the record – competing yachts include the extreme Open 60s, Riviera di Rimini and Shining; the maxis, Mistress Quickly, Zephyrus IV and Sagamore; and the pocket rockets such as the 41-foot J-125 Strait Dealer and the DK46, Fidessa Fastwave.
In 2006, Mike Sanderson and Seb Josse on board ABN Amro, winner of the Volvo Ocean Race, the super Maxis; Alfa Romeo and Maximus and the 2006 Rolex Middle Sea Race overall winner, Hasso Platner on board his MaxZ86, Morning Glory.
George David on board Rambler (ex Alfa Romeo) managed a new course record in 2007 and in 2008, Thierry Bouchard on Spirit of Ad Hoc won the Rolex Middle Sea Race on board a Beneteau 40.7 and ALegre claimed line honours.
In 2009, Andres Soriano on board Alegre re visited Malta for the second time in a row and claimed overall handicap in IRC. Line honours went to Mike Slade on board his super maxi “Icap Leopard”.
The largest number of entries was 78 established in 2008.