With the Rolex Middlesea Race just around the corner, team Ton Ton Laferla is finalising preparations for the start of the race on Saturday. Team skipper JONATHAN GAMBIN met up with Kurt Aquilina during one of their last training rides before they begin their journey at sea.

The team, part of the Royal Malta Yacht Club, will be one of the many sailing boats representing Malta in the 606 nautical-mile race.

“Our boat was the first to actually show the Maltese flag,” Gambin explained, adding that it has now inspired others to do the same.

Video: Chris Sant Fournier

A major factor determining how the race can go, and which attracts teams from all over the world is the challenging and often cruel conditions of an autumnal Mediterranean.

Gambin feels confident of his team’s efforts ahead this weekend but is aware of the challenge at hand.

“This year’s race will be characterised by light winds at the beginning for the first couple of days,” the skipper said.

“But then we’ll be faced by strong southeasterly winds and that is going to be our biggest challenge.”

During their training on Thursday, the team demonstrated their routine, also trying out a new set of sails which will make their first official appearance on Saturday. However, things will be different on the weekend.

“Today we were just training and trying out a couple of sails which we’ve never tried before but during racing the team has to follow very strict regime. Everything has to be done properly with the least mistakes possible,” Gambin said.

“We’re aiming for one of the top positions but one cannot be over confident - we’ll just try our best and see what the result will be.

“The boat is well prepared, it’s being reinforced in key places and should be able to withstand the elements and that’s the most important thing.”

The Ton Ton Laferla team will be among 113 boats this year.

The race, also in its 40th edition, will be a tough nut for the team and Gambin admitted “We couldn’t have done all this without the help of (sponsors) Laferla Insurance”.