Countdown to Middle Sea

As the 2022 Rolex Middle Sea Race approaches, entry numbers continue to grow, with 88 yachts signed on for the highly anticipated race.

29 August 2022


With two months to go until the start of the 43rd Rolex Middle Sea Race, entries continue to build, with 88 yachts representing 24 nations currently registered.

The change is an uptick of 28 yachts since the last report in July and bodes well for the race, with four weeks until entries close.

Italy has by the far the biggest participation to date, with 18 boats, followed by France with 13 and Malta with eight – and the possibility of more to come.

Featuring maxi multihulls, maxi monohulls, fully crewed and double handers, the fleet is a true cross-section of offshore racing prowess gathering from all over of the world.

The cut-off date for entry is officially 23 September 2022, but the Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC) has retained discretion to accept late entries until 30 September. The race itself starts from Grand Harbour in Valletta on 22 October.


Among the recent crop, popular entries include Riccardo Pavoncelli’s returning MOD 70 Mana, skippered by Paul Larsen in the multihull fleet and Andrea Recordati’s 28.3-metre Bullitt in the monohulls, making a race debut for the boat and the first ever Wally Yacht to participate.

In the scrap for overall honours under IRC, more big guns have been handing in their paperwork, including two-time winner Elusive II from Malta and Dominique Tian’s Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen from France, previously a class winner at both the Rolex Middle Sea and Rolex Fastnet Races.

Other notable entries include Giovanni di Vincenzo’s Lisa R from Italy, another Ker 46 and overall winner at the Rolex Giraglia in June; Frenchman Erik de Turckheim’s ever-threatening Teasing Machine; the British trio of James Neville’s Ino XXX, Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader and Mark Emerson’s British entry, Phosphorous II.

Since the first race in 1968, Maltese yachts have won on nine occasions, most recently in 2020 and 2021, when the Podesta siblings secured back-to-back wins with Elusive II. This year’s clutch of local boats looks as strong as ever.

The Podesta participation in the Rolex Middle Sea Race was already legendary, with the late Arthur Podesta competing in 35 races and passing on his enthusiasm to his children, who have now completed over 20 races themselves.

This year’s preparation will be as comprehensive as ever, but set against a challenging domestic situation.

“This year has not been straight-forward,” said as Maya Podesta.

“Christoph, my brother, became a father to a baby boy, Jamie, in March, and I gave birth to Amy in July. So, while the boat has been maintained at race winning potential, our focus has been distracted.”

Fortunately, the core crew onboard hasn’t changed greatly since 2016 and although there are two newcomers this year, the Podestas have proven their ability to successfully integrate fresh faces.

“One crew member who will not be on the boat this year is Amy,” laughed Maya Podesta. She will be five months old and will be at home with my mum and the rest of the family and will have to wait until she is 16 before she can take part.”

Lee Satariano is another race winning Maltese skipper, with wins in 2011 and 2014 on his previous Artie, a J/122. Last year, in company with his co-skipper Christian Ripard, Satariano was second in IRC 3.

“This will be my 15th Rolex Middle Sea Race and the crew is largely the same as last year with a couple of changes,” Satariano said.

“Every year I really look forward to the build-up and the preparation of the boat. Getting the crew together and putting in some training sessions is always part of the excitement. Hopefully, we will get similar conditions to last year – fast and wet.”

Now on his 16th race, Jonathan Gambin is back again with Ton Ton Laferla and a crew comprising staff from his business, friends and family. Gambin’s best result to date was third overall in 2020, and his enthusiasm never seems to waver.

“I really enjoy the fact that that the race is different every time,” Gambin said.

“I’m always hoping for lighter winds because it suits the performance of my boat and the crew. Mainly though, I just look forward to it because it’s the first holiday for me after a summer of hard work.”

Maltese Falcon II has a long association with the race and is currently in the ownership of Jonathan Camilleri Bowman.

“I have participated five times in total in the Rolex Middle Sea Race and the last four times with Maltese Falcon II,” said Bowman.

“Currently the crew consists of two females and eight males. The first few years definitely proved to be a learning experience in getting the right balance of skill, attitude, mental readiness and physical capability within the crew.

“It’s a tough race, at a tricky time of the year for the weather. We are always striving to improve, but I’m very happy with the current group.”

Bowman is another who loves the preparation period, the training, the activity around the Royal Malta Yacht Club and the overall adrenaline rush of getting to the start line.

“I must admit, there are times during the race when I question why I decided to take part again, especially when the wind and waves are up,” he laughed.

“However, once you overcome a difficult phase, then you just end up yearning for more and always look forward to finishing the race and getting ready for the next one.”

2022 will be the first year that Vivace will compete fully crewed under the co-ownership of Andrew Agius Delicata and Matthew Gabriele, with the previous two participations being double handed.

“In total, I have competed in eight Rolex Middle Sea Races with the first at the age of 15,” said Agius Delicata.

“Four have been fully crewed and four double handed. The race that gave me the most satisfaction is last year’s when Matthew and I came third in the double-handed class and beat a lot of fully crewed boats in our handicap classes. Plus, it was with our very own boat.”

The Otra Vez team, with owner Aaron Gatt Floridia, has posted some solid results in the past, but has struggled to find its form with its latest boat, an ICE 52.

“I’ve taken part in six Rolex Middle Sea Races and our best results to date were a third overall in 2011 and a first in Class in 2013 with the J/122. The worst is that we did not finish the last two editions due to equipment failure with the ICE 52,” Floridia said.

The crew on Otra Vez is a mix of friends who have been with Floridia for many years and some new additions, including some young Danish sailors who raced at the Rolex Giraglia 2022 and the 151 Miglia.

According to Floridia, it’s a great mix of experience and youth.

“It’s an exciting race. Full on and the corners make the racing very unpredictable. There are always a lot of very well sailed boats taking part, so you really have to be on top of your game to do well,” he said.

Other Maltese entries to look out for include the J/99 Calypso skippered by Sebastian Ripard and Mario Debono’s Sun Odyssey 45 Janissah.

Race management

Behind the scenes, the Royal Malta Yacht Club has continued the process of strengthening its race team.

Earlier this year in June, another 25-year-plus veteran of international race management and race scoring joined the team, taking on the role of Principal Race Officer.

Stefan Kunstmann’s experience crosses virtually all disciplines of sailing. Of most significance has been his involvement with the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) race team since 2008, which has led to working on between 15 to 20 offshore races a season.

Kunstmann, from Germany, is a respected International Race Officer, whose career highlights include being PRO for sports and keelboats at Kieler Woche, PRO for the Bermuda/Hamburg leg of the NRV Atlantic Anniversary Regatta and ongoing consultancy for the Newport Bermuda Race.

He’s well versed in Offshore Special Regulations, particularly through his contributions to the development of the proposed Appendices WP (racing round waypoints) and TS (traffic separation schemes).

“I have been fortunate to be the RORC representative at the Rolex Middle Sea Race on two occasions,” said Kunstmann.

“I’m really looking forward to supporting the Royal Malta Yacht Club Race team with the 43rd edition of this spectacular race.”

The Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on 22 October 2022. It will be streamed live on both Facebook and YouTube and broadcast on TVM in Malta.

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement