The oldest race on the Royal Malta Yacht Club racing calendar, the Malta – Syracuse race, celebrated its 59th year this July. The race, organised by the Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Lega Navale Italiana (Sezione di Siracusa) is very popular, and has garnered the attention of many Italian crews, who keep returning year after year.
This year, the race which started in Syracuse had an extra leg added to it. Sulla Rotta di Ulisse was a southbound course from Messina to Syracuse which then joined the Syracuse -Malta race to finish in Malta. This was organised by the Royal Malta Yacht Club together with the Partenariato Internazionale Messina Malta and the support of the Comune di Messina. Being the first year of its introduction, it was a small fleet that started on the 10th July from Messina to Syracuse in mild conditions, but with strong winds off Catania, the 60 nautical mile course was completed in good time. It is expected that this race will increase in popularity in future years.
The start in Syracuse on the following Saturday saw a sizeable fleet of 28 boats set off from the waters off Ortygia in near perfect conditions, although the wind would increase significantly in the Malta -Sicily channel. Boats had to make the crossing sailing close hauled in strong Westerlies, but most finished the race by the early hours of Sunday.
While the first leg from Messina to Syracuse was won by Ottovolante, on corrected time it was Maltese boat, Elusive II, skippered by Maya and Christoph Podesta, that made a clean sweep of the prizes for both the Syracuse-Malta Race and the combined Messina-Syracuse-Malta Races.
“Outside the Catania Gulf, the sea was massive with boats racing downwind in 20 knots of breeze and 9 – 10 knots of boat speed. This was nothing that we experienced before, keeping in mind that we normally do this route going northbound during the Rolex Middle Sea Race. At a point we had to gybe out of the waves to get a better angle – pounding into waves doing 10 knots felt like the boat would come apart so we played safe” explained Maya Podesta, Elusive 2, skipper.
In the leg from Syracuse Elusive 2 had to fight till the very end having to contend with competition from a 50-footer, Skin and another 45-footer Tetta – Elusive 2 are no stranger to the latter having battled the waves with her, several times in the Rolex Middle Sea Race.
Maya Podesta, skipper of the First 45 Elusive 2, continued to explain that although they were shorthanded, due to two crew members dropping out at the last minute, they still decided to compete and make the most of the opportunity, especially in view of the forthcoming Rolex Middle Sea Race. The crew of Elusive 2 was made up of Maya Podesta, Christoph Podesta, David Anastasi and Thomas Zammit Tabona.
“Although Maltese boat participation was on the low side, Elusive 2 certainly made up for the low participation. Nevertheless, these races do help to strengthen further our relations with our Sicilian counterparts, which am sure will develop into more competitive opportunities for our members” advised Godwin Zammit, Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club.
A Prize Giving, hosted by Yachting Malta took place on Sunday evening at the Yacht Club and was presided over by Mr. Godwin Zammit, Commodore, Royal Malta Yacht Club and Mr. Peter Dimech, Rear Commodore Sailing. Prizes were given out by Hon. Dr. Konrad Mizzi, Minister for Tourism, Hon. Dr. Clifton Grima, Parliamentary Secretary for Youths, Sports and Voluntary Organisations, Mr. John Huber, Chairman, Yachting Malta, Mr. Max Zammit, Mayor of Ta’Xbiex, Mr. Giuseppe Impallomeni Vice President of the Lega Navale Italiana (Sezione di Siracusa) and Prof. Letterio Campolo, President AMCM Messina. Prizes were awarded for the Syracuse-Malta Race as well as for the combined races from Messina-Syracuse-Malta.
Results of the Messina – Syracuse – Malta race can be found on the Royal Malta Yacht Club’s website – https://www.rmyc.org/event-type/races/