A Maltese yacht has won the prestigious Middle Sea Race, the first in several years.
Elusive 2 was declared the winner with a margin of 15 minutes in what was a personal triumph for the Podesta siblings - Aaron, Christoph and Maya who together have raced every Rolex Middle Sea Race since 2002, except 2014 the year of Aaron’s marriage.
They took after their father Arthur, who had taken part in every race since 1968 until his untimely death in 2015. He won the race as a crewman on three occasions with Josian in 1968, Tikka in 1970 and Saudade in 1983 but never won as skipper of his own yacht.
“Our father was with us on the boat and everything that we have managed is down to him and for him,” an emotional Maya said after the race.
“The race has meant a lot to us for a long time and this result was 18 years in the making. We started racing because my dad wanted us to join him. We quickly picked up the bug, and we have always wanted to climb up the ladder, and now we have done it.”
“A huge part of this race is preparation, as soon as we finished last year’s race we started preparing for this year,” Christoph said.
“The boat was fantastic, it did not fail us in any way and that was a big part of our success. Winning this race is a massive achievement for us, the whole crew is family and friends.”
“This win hasn’t sunk in yet. All of our sailing is planned around this race, it affects our family plans, but the whole family realise how important it is to us,” Aaron added.
The Middle Sea Race starts and ends in Malta and takes yachts around Sicily, Lampedusa, Pantelleria and the Egadian and Eolian islands. The yachts left from Grand Harbour on Saturday.
Some 54 yachts have completed the course in what was the 40th edition of the race. With 17 yachts officially retired, a further 42 are still out.
Maltese yachts have won the race eight times, the last in 2014.
It had initially looked like 2018 race winner Courrier Recommandé (FRA), might be the first yacht to win the race back-to-back since Nita IV won three in a row between 1978 and 1980.
But when the results were calculated. Elusive 2 had won with a margin of 15 minutes.
Elusive sailed in at 7.31pm.
Crews spoke of the extraordinary upwind conditions encountered on the leg from Pantelleria. For most, the wind had not been the problem. It was the waves that posed the greatest danger. Short, steep and increasing in size as the wind built, yachts were subjected to jarring and slamming as they punched through to Lampedusa. On the following leg to Comino, the angle was a little easier, but it was still an upwind fetch.
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