The popular Middle Sea Race got off to a spectacular start from Grand Harbour this morning.

An antique gun fired from the Saluting Battery at the Upper Barrakka saw the first of the 75 participating boats nudge their way out of the harbour, with their sails quickly filling in the tricky moderate North-North-East wind from the bow.

The race takes the boats past Siracusa, the Strait of Messina, Stromboli volcano, Palermo, Lampedusa and to the finish at Marsamxett Harbour.

The participating boats left at 10 minute intervals according to their categories, starting with the solitary catamaran in the race, the French registered SIG 45, as a forest of masts from the other boats formed up behind.

Chris Ripard delighted the local crowd by taking the lead in the second category departure, which saw 24 boats depart.

The Maxi yachts, which are in the fifth category, left at 11.40.


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