North Sails NEWS

October 31, 2019

#NSVICTORYLIST: ROLEX MIDDLE SEA RACE

Nine Class Wins, Multihull Line Honours & Overall Race Victory

#NSVictoryList

CLIENTS LEAD THE ROUNDTRIP SPRINT AROUND SICILY

IRC Overall

1 st

3 rd

Congratulations

Elusive 2

IRC Class 1

1 st

2 nd

Congratulations

Rambler

IRC Class 2

1 st *

2 nd

3 rd

Congratulations

Black Pearl

IRC Class 4

1 st

3 rd

Congratulations

Elusive 2

IRC Class 5

2 nd

3 rd

ORC Overall

1 st

2 nd

3 rd

Congratulations

BeWild

ORC Class 1

1 st

2 nd

Congratulations

Arobas2

ORC Class 2

2 nd

3 rd *

ORC Class 3

1 st

Congratulations

BeWild

ORC Class 4

1 st

2 nd

Congratulations

Elusive 2

ORC Class 5

1 st

Congratulations

Blur

* partial North Sails inventory

 

Overall race winner Elusive 2 leads the fleet out of the harbor. 📸 Kurt Arrigo / Rolex

The annual Middle Sea Race starts and ends in Malta, and this year 23 nations were represented by 113 yachts. North clients took home first place trophies in nine classes and swept the podium in two (IRC Class 2 and ORC Overall). Perhaps most impressive was George David and the team on Rambler, the first monohull to cross the finish line, taking just 2 days 19 hours and 43 minutes to sail 606 nautical miles. It was the fifth time they’ve received line honours for this race.

On Thursday October 24th, just five days after the race start, the Beneteau First 45 Elusive 2 representing Royal Malta Yacht Club was announced as the overall winner. Siblings Maya, Aaron, and Christoph Podesta have been part of this race since it began in 1968, when their father Arthur and six crew won the inaugural event. In the 51-year history of Middle Sea Race, a Maltese yacht has won overall eight times, and Arthur Podesta was onboard for three of those wins. It’s great to see our client not only win their division, but win overall—while continuing the legacy of their father. “2019 is for Elusive and Arthur [Podesta],” said RMYC Commodore Godwin Zammit at the awards ceremony, calling the 40th edition a success for all involved.

Elusive 2, Overall winners of the 40th edition. 📸 Kurt Arrigo / ROLEX

Skipper Chris Podesta was elated about the family victory on a boat that has been part of the clan for ten years. Modifications have focused on improving offshore racing capabilities and minimizing light air weaknesses, and new 3Di North sails definitely helped. “Over the past four years we have put a lot of energy into developing and optimizing the boat and sails,” Chris explains. “Our North sails are key to our performance. We have felt strong improvements with our downwind sails and also feel our J4 (2018) and J3 (2019) give the boat a powerful forward drive. We wanted to be so well prepared for this year’s race that we also built both a new trysail and a windseeker!”

2019 marks the eighteenth year Chris Podesta has sailed the RMSR, and he says the downwind start this year was not favorable for Elusive 2. “We had to work very hard to keep up with the lighter boats. Our goal was to hold onto the pack until Fabignana, northwest of Sicily. This took a serious amount of concentration and hard work from the crew.”

The first night was the hardest part of the race—and the most important, because “that’s when you need to be going fast so you can extend. The fickle breeze made it hard for us. Getting past Etna and through Messina was also difficult, because any type of tactical error can cost many miles.”

📸 Rolex Middle Sea Race 2019

The tides and localized winds in Messina are always exciting, he continues. “Sicily is highly influential on the breeze, making local knowledge an asset. Having two active volcanoes as marks of your course is also a special sight. The RMSR is far from straightforward–and possibly a tactical nightmare!”

Once they rounded the islands of Levanzo and Favignana at the western end of Sicily, the breeze began to build into the high teens– and then into the mid 20s, mostly on the nose. “Apart from being tough with very uncomfortable seas, this breeze suited us well,” Christoph says. “The race is a 4-5 day sprint and you’ve got to give your everything until the finish.”
The Podesta family loves the challenge of such a unique course, Christoph adds. “October can be dicey in terms of weather here in the Med, so you know it will be a variety of conditions, and it will be extreme.”

Winning overall was fantastic, Chris admits, but for this family team the results have never been their primary motivation. “For me the most special part is enjoying time with my family and the crew, who are all great friends. Thank you to my crew, and all involved.” His brother Aaron helped helm the boat. Sister Maya was the team strategist, and her boyfriend David Anastasi assisted with navigation. Cousin Ben Pace did mast, Gareth Grech was in the pit, Tom Zammit Tabona and Andrea Crocela trimmed, Adrian Stone was on the bow, and Magnus Everskog helped forward of the mast.

“After our father passed away in 2015,” says Chris, “there was no question we’d keep doing this. We love it and want to keep our family tradition alive. We used to think it was all about the race, but we know now that it was our father’s purpose to bring our family together to share experiences and great adventures.”

“This race will continue to be a special experience for our family,” adds Maya. “Since 1968 there has been a Podesta on the starting line of the Middle Sea Race, and we intend to keep it that way!” She also agrees that their father’s spirit was onboard with them once again. “What we’ve done this year– it’s all thanks to him.”