The MOD70 Argo, United States, skippered by Jason Carroll crossed the finish line for the 2021 Rolex Middle Sea Race in an elapsed time of 33 hours, 29 minutes and 28 seconds.
This smashes both the existing multihull record of 56 hours, 31 minutes and 31 seconds set by Giovanni Soldini’s Maserati Multi70 and the outright race record of 47 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds set by George David’s Rambler.
Similarly, the VPLP/Verdier designed Comanche (CAY), skippered by Mitch Booth, crossed the finish line at 04:27:50 CEST, taking the Monohull Line Honours in an elapsed time of 40 hours, 17 minutes and 50 seconds.
Comanche also broke the previous monohull race record and has taken 7 hours, 37 minutes and 8 seconds off the time set by George David’s Rambler.
The 42nd Rolex Middle Sea Race has delivered as the front-running maxi multihulls and leading monohulls finished well inside the race record set in 2007. The race has not been plain sailing, and many of the yachts were greeted with rapidly building wind to the east of Sicily, and this has persisted throughout the day in the north and south of the Messina Strait.
After their departure from the Grand Harbour in Valletta, Malta, the fleet made quick work to the passage to the north of Sicily. At the front of the multihulls we could see Maserati (ITA), Mana (ITA) and Argo (USA) together with the trio of monohulls Skorpios (ESP), Comanche (CAY) and Rambler (USA).
Even Mount Etna was aware of this clash of titans as it chose to erupt while the participants sailed across the area, putting air traffic to a standstill. However, sailors hardly had time to notice the show.
“Late last we were hit with sustained winds of 40 knots. The seas were pretty rough too. We’re now in the Messina Strait, with very little wind.” -Mario Debono, sailor at Janissah (MLT)
Crews have been cursing the light winds of the narrow channel as they hold them up. This year however, winds have blown and the mountain ranges of the Calabrian peninsula have protected yachts from the powerful eastern winds. These mountains however also funnel the wind above and below the strait, and winds have been gusting at more than 40 knots from Stromboli to Favignana.
The fastest time to the Stromboli transit used to be 16 hours and 8 minutes, set by the trimaran Mana last year. However, this time four yachts had rounded the landmark in under 15 hours and three more in under 12 hours. Giovanni Soldini’s Maserati Multi70 passed at 22:20 CEST, with Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo rounding 25 seconds after.
The Argo crew took the Multihull Line Honours after ending the ocean race at 20:39:28 CEST. Crew members are: Jason Carroll, Weston Barlow, Chad Corning, Peter Cumming, Thierry Fouchier, Charlie Ogletree, Alister Richardson and Brian Thompson.
Amongst the monohulls, Skorpios rounded the Stromboli at 23:35 CEST followed by Comanche 12 minutes afterwards and Rambler 45 minutes behind. When arriving in the middle of the Strait of Sicily however, Skorpios lost their advantage to the capable Comanche.
On Nautical Channel we will broadcast highlights of the Rolex Middle Sea Race as well as other Rolex yacht racing competitions in Rolex Spirit of Yachting. Stay tuned!