Thursday, October 27, 2016

UNICA Wins Double Handed

After many weeks of preparation for Jamie Sammut and John Cachia, UNICA's double handed team, the much anticipated 2016 edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race has come to an end and ended on a real high with UNICA as winners of this class.

They had a fantastic start in light conditions and were first boat (and first Maltese boat) out of the harbour. Each leg of the 600+ mile long course had its ups and down. The toughest leg was rounding Favignana straight in to a 30 knot head on wind to Pantalleria. The wind died down a bit at this checkpoint but it was still a beat to Lampedusa where a lack of wind lost them quite a few places. Past Lampedusa and it was homeward bound. On this last leg the wind changed direction, so they had the wind behind them enabling them to keep up a good speed. 

Throughout the race UNICA passed each checkpoint managing to keep the lead, but it was in the final 24 hours, with Jboat 2Hard (literally too hard on their tail) that the result was going to be touch and go. It was due to the very light wind conditions around Malta that 2Hard was stopped from being able to catch up and grab the coveted prize.

A big thank you from TEAM UNICA for all the support from their sponsors.

Below are some of my favourite pictures taken by various people throughout the event.

UNICA ready to race Pic: Bunty Cachia
John setting up a sail pre start Pic: Bunty Cachia
Just before the start of the race Pic: Bunty Cachia

UNICA - 2nd boat from R - heading out of the harbour Pic: Bunty Cachia

Great shot of UNICA just before leaving the harbour, first boat out Pic: Paul Ellul

Top and below: Taken by Jamie's drone 

On their way to Stromboli Pic: Kurt Arrigo for Rolex

The next two shots below are pretty awful ones but all I have - taken with my phone

Being interviewed by Rolex film crew

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Looks like there is a 2016 RMSR Winner

Word is out that Mascalzone Latino is this year's Rolex Middle Sea Race winner. I don't think it is actually official as I write this, but the chances of any boat being in on time to take the lead is highly unlikely.
Congratulations to Team Mascalzone Latino!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Day 3 into Day 4 - 2016 Rolex Middle Sea Race

The past 36 hours have brought quite a change and jostling for position. The leg from Stromboli to Favignana always proves to be an interesting one. Leading boat at Stromboli, ARTIE, kept their lead but lost ground before Palermo with other members of the fleet closing in. OTRA VEZ had a good leg up until Palermo then lost a bit while SEAWOLF (an RMSR regular) also gained as did FOGGY DEW - one of the small boats in the fleet but proving to be very fast and stiff competition.
The Maltese boats had all been up in the first 20 of the fleet up until this point then there was quite a big change in results once they rounded Favignana and went in to a head on wind towards Pantalleria. Throughout the race Class 2 boat MASCALZONE LATINO has also been one of the front runners at each checkpoint and is one of the favourites to win.

Malta's UNICA - double handed and leading double hander so far - had a good run most of the way towards the west of Sicily but seemed to have got stuck in a wind hole. They took a while to round the Favignana checkpoint and lost quite a few places in the overall ranking whilst still keeping their double handed lead. Unfortunately, a few miles south of Favinana OTRA VEZ had to retire and head for land. 

At this fourth checkpoint there has been a change in the standing tables with FOGGY DEW taking the lead and ARTIE down to the 3rd place overall. The other Maltese boats also dropped places but ELUSIVE gained two placecs.  XP-ACT, who has had a pretty good race so far, also lost a few places here.

Next checkpoint - Pantalleria. As I write MASCALZONE LATINO is at the top of the leader board with FOGGY DEW in second place followed by ARTIE.  ELUSIVE and XPACT are standing at 9th and 12th but positions may change as more round this mark.
The wind has been in the 20 knot region on this beat up to Pantalleria but is now slowing down and lighter winds have been forecast for the remainder of the race. Positions are still changing though the first three placings will probably stay as they are.

Below some more pictures from the start of the race.

Class 1 start - Pic Bunty Cachia

Class 1 start - Pic Bunty Cachia

Xpedite -  Pic Bunty Cachia

Mascalzone Latino - Pic Bunty Cachia

Otra Vez on start line - Pic Bunty Cachia

Artie - Pic Paul Ellul

Unica - Pic Paul Ellul

XPact - Pic Paul Ellul

Class 6 start with Seawolf,  Foggy Dew and 2Hard - Pic Bunty Cachia

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Day 2 - 2016 Rolex Middle Sea Race

Update at 20.00hrs Sunday evening:
UNICA has rounded Stromboli and, at time of writing, has gone up 6 places to 18th overall.


Already day 2 of the race is coming to an end. Last night UNICA fell back a bit but now they are through the Straits of Messina and nearing the third checkpoint of Stromboli. Through the Straits UNICA dropped down to 23rd position but they are pushing hard to improve that round the next mark. In the double handed class they are still leading their class ahead of 2Hard.

Jamie Sammut and John Cachia before the start of the race

UNICA after they passed through the Straits of Messina

Saturday, October 22, 2016

2016 Middle Sea Race Day 1

Yet another spectacular start to yet another Rolex Middle Sea Race.
Below just the first few of many more to come.



John on bowsprit
UNICA - double handed

Seawolf of Southampton

Start line maneuvering

Friday, October 21, 2016

ELUSIVE Wins RMSR Coastal Race

Wednesday was the traditional RMSR coastal race. This year a slightly different course to the round Comino or round Filfla route was set with it being more of an extended 'marker buoys' course on the south eastern part of the island.
Winds were westerly light to the light side of moderate with 31 boats registered for the race but it seems that it was 23 boats actually competing.

This was an excellent start to the week for Maltese boat ELUSIVE (Beneteau First 45) who came in first overall on corrected time. In 2nd and 3rd place respectively were JIVARO (J133) and locally based Xpedite  (XP44).

ELUSIVE winner of the coastal race Pic: Sam Scicluna

Maya Podesta - co-skipper ELUSIVE

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

UNICA - Gearing up for a Double Handed Race

Just a couple more days to go until the start of the Rolex Middle Sea Race and last minute fine tuning is the order of the day down at the Yacht Club and around the various marinas where the 117 participating yachts are berthed.
Malta has several boats taking part, among them is UNICA - a 42 foot Solaris. Usually racing with a 9 member crew, this year skipper Jamie Sammut and John Cachia will be taking on the challenge of doing it double handed. Needless to say the yacht has to be geared up and adapted in a totally different way to being fully crewed and Jamie and John have been working hard fitting out and fine tuning the boat to enable them to be able to sail as efficiently as possible as a two man team.
Jamie and John have been sailing together on a regular basis for the past three years. They won the last Raymarine double handed race around Malta and Gozo and have covered thousands of sea miles together in various parts of the Med. Their most recent accomplishment, with a nearly full compliment of crew, was back in June when they won the Solaris Cup in Sardinia - an event they plan to go back to next year to defend their title.

Pics are copyrighted - Bunty Cachia/Buntsphotography

Saturday, October 15, 2016

UNICA PREPARATIONS - that black and white effect

In a week's time the 117 strong RMSR fleet will be well on it's way towards Capo Passero, the first check point off the south eastern tip of Sicily. 
With a week to go boats are still arriving and those who are here are in full swing with boat preparations.
On board UNICA this morning, Jamie and John were busy organising the boat for a double handed race.
Below are a selection of black and white photos taken aboard UNICA on this hot and muggy day.


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