The 37th Rolex Middle Sea Race gets underway tomorrow morning at 11.00 with Maserati Multi70 amongst the 107 crews (IRC, ORC, MOCRA) jostling for position at the start-line. Maserati Multi70 will race with an MOD70 rudder replacing the T-foil rudder lost in an incident on October 16. She’ll also sport a MOD foil instead of the flying foil which would be incompatible with the MOD configuration.
Sailors of 25 different nationalities will be competing in the race with Italians making up the lion’s share as per tradition. The regatta continues to attract an international following as attested to by the jump in Russian and British entries and the return of Danish, Ukrainian and Swedish competitors after several years’ absence.
Amid the monohulls is, of course, George David’s Rambler 88, winner of the last edition and holder of the race record (1d, 23h, 55’ and 3”) which has been unbeaten since 2007. In the multihull category, Maserati Multi70 aside, there will be three teams to watch: English craft Phaedo3 (the other MOD70 in the fleet) and the 50’ Ciela Village and Fenetrea Cardinal.
Giovanni Soldini will be flanked by a tight team. Some have sailed with him on many of his adventures over the years and have come up through the ranks of Italian offshore sailing, including Guido Broggi and Francesco Malingri, respectively Maserati Multi70’s boat captain and median. Also aboard is French professional sailor Jean-Baptiste Vaillant, a leading player in many ocean races aboard maxis such as Banque Popolaire V, and a consultant to Oracle. These offshore veterans are joined by two young but expert Spaniards, both of whom sailed aboard Maserati Volvo70: Carlos Hernandez, who has one Volvo Ocean Races to his credit, and Oliver Herrera Perez who sailed IMS, Swans and J80s. The team is completed by Monaco-born Pierre Casiraghi, who began his career aboard Maserati in 2014 and makes a welcome return fresh from racing GC32 foiling cats on the 2016 Racing Tour 2016.
Weather-wise, yesterday’s pattern seems to be holding with an upwind start forecast and a westerly of no more than 15 knots as far the Strait of Messina before it freshens in the southerly part of the route and final stages of the race. Those conditions may make it a tougher race for Maserati Multi70, as Soldini confirms: “It’ll be slightly torturous near Messina because our centreboard still has the short fin of the standard MOD. I’m not sure how we’ll do compared to Phaedo3 because the boats have a different trim: our daggerboard is a metre shorter, it has an attached wing and a larger wetted surface. That could work to our advantage in certain conditions but in others it penalises us a bit. The wind should be freshening as we get to the western tip of Sicily where we’re expecting to be beating in 25 knots of wind. As ever, we’ll be giving it our all to the last”.
The Maserati Multi70 crew
Giovanni Soldini, skipper (IT)
Guido Broggi, boat captain (IT)
Jean-Baptiste Vaillant, sailmaker-trimmer (FR)
Carlos Hernandez, bowman (ESP)
Oliver Herrera Perez, bowman (ESP)
Pierre Casiraghi, trimmer/grinder (MC)
Francesco Malingri, mediaman (IT)