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MT 19 October 2014

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maltatoday, Sunday, 19 OctOber 2014 49 Sport SPORTTODAY SAILING Middle Sea Race gets off to slow but steady start The Rolex Middle Sea Race got off to a slow start yesterday morning against the spectacular backdrop of the Grand harbour in Valletta. A record fleet of 123 yachts from more than 20 countries set sail from the Grand harbour as the 35th edi- tion of the annual race got under way. The 608-mile yacht race takes place in the heart of the Mediter- ranean and covers one of the most beautiful courses in the world. Starting and finishing in Malta, the route includes the deep azure waters around Sicily including the Aeolian and egadi Islands, as well as Pantel- leria and Lampedusa. esimit europa 2, skippered by multi-world champion Jochen Schumann is among the favour- ites for this year's edition but the race for the MSR Trophy promises to be an exciting one with Niklas Zennstrom's Swedish RAN V and George Sakellaris' American Shock- wave, both crewed by world-class professional sailors, are among the front-runners. Another favourite in this year's race is South African sailor Marc Lagasse, who is skippering the Black Pearl 2 while Michele Galli's B2 will be determined to retain the coveted trophy for another year. The start sequence began with the first warning signal at 10:50am and the fleet separated into five differ- ent starts scheduled at 10 minute intervals, with the fastest yachts sailing out last. The unprecedented number of entrants – a 24% increase over the 99 yachts competing in 2013 – in- cludes boats from as far away as the United States and Australia, along with 13 yachts from Malta. More than 15 boats will compete for the first time. Now in its 35th year, the Rolex Middle Sea Race (RMSR) is a fixture in the season, ranking alongside the Rolex Fastnet, Rolex Sydney-hobart and Newport-Bermuda as a "must do" race. The Rolex Middle Sea Race en- joys global recognition with this year's race attracting participants from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Gibraltar, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Monaco, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzer- land, Turkey and the United States. Malta is this year represented by 13 yachts and will include Artie II, a J-122, owned by Lee Satariano and co-skippered by one of Malta's vet- eran yachtsmen, Christian Ripard, the same winning team of the 2011 edition. the rolex Middle Sea race gets off to a slow start with the lack of wind meaning the yachts trickled out of Grand Harbour

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