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Giles Pearman

Virginie Chevailler

ROLEX MIDDLE SEA RACE: SURPASSING HIGH EXPECTATIONS

rolex yacht race

Valletta, 28 October 2023     – Offshore races are long and gruelling yet frequently decided by fine margins and minute details. The 44th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race demonstrated this in crystal clarity as two contrasting yachts and crews produced awe-inspiring performances in a memorable contest for the coveted title of overall victory.

rolex yacht race

Rolex’s longstanding support of yachting includes close relationships with some of the world’s leading 600-nautical mile competitions. Majestic, historic and partnered by Rolex since 2002, the Rolex Middle Sea Race, organized by the Royal Malta Yacht Club, is the Mediterranean’s most renowned offshore race.

Emerging victorious as overall race winner was Andrea Recordati’s Wally 93 Bullitt . For the owner of the Italian yacht, success was momentous and unexpected in equal measure:

“The race was very demanding and challenging. Coming first overall in corrected time, honestly, I am still having difficulty believing it. I am ecstatic. I am super happy for the boat, she deserves it. We put a lot of effort in to optimise and improve her. I am especially happy for my crew. I have an exceptional team and they really deserve this too.”

rolex yacht race

Leopard 3  would ultimately claim line honours as fastest monohull.  Bullitt  was second across the finish line in Malta a little under two hours later, assuming leadership on corrected time. An impressive performance in itself as many of her maxi yacht rivals were more naturally set up for the rigours of offshore racing.

rolex yacht race

Bullitt   sailed the 606-nautical mile (1,122 kilometres) course with a crew of 20 sailors. A typical number of personnel required to sail such a powerful and large – 93-foot (28.34 metre) – maxi yacht. The predominantly Corinthian fleet in pursuit were sailing smaller yachts, with fewer crew numbers. the leanest of which were teams of just two. One, the 33ft (9.99m) American yacht   Red Ruby , came close to making Rolex Middle Sea Race history as the first ever double-handed winner.

Red Ruby   owners Christina and Justin Wolfe have sailed as a duo for nearly 30 years. Their intuition and decision making are second nature. Qualities which are essential when the race itself is so unforgiving as Justin explains:

“So much happened in the race. We made at least 22 sail changes. The conditions constantly change, the course changes, you sail hours and hours at a time without any rest at all because there is so much going on.”

rolex yacht race

A wealth of experience sailing together, an equal ability to cover all roles on the boat, and complete commitment enabled the pair to sail Red Ruby   to her full potential throughout the race. This was no more so than on the long stretch from the island of Lampedusa to the South Comino Channel just before the finish off Valletta. It was here that they started to think the unthinkable.

Red Ruby   would fall short by an agonising 24 seconds following over four days and nine hours at sea. Naturally this led to some reflection on where time could have been shaved as Justin explained:

“Over the course of a 600-mile race how many places did you leave 24 seconds? All over the place. One better tack, one better call on the current in the Messina Strait...”

rolex yacht race

However the overriding sentiment was not regret but a sense of satisfaction in what was achieved as Christina revealed:

“I'm really proud of what we did. The Rolex Middle Sea Race is known for being a really tough race and we had conditions that none of weather models predicted. We came here to race a great race and put everything out there and I think we tried to do that and that's all you can do. ”

rolex yacht race

While 24 seconds is a slim margin, the closest Rolex Middle Sea Race finish remains the nine seconds which saw   B2   prevail over fellow Italian yacht   Mascalzone Latino   in 2015. The latter would return a year later to win the race.

No records were set at this year’s race.   Leopard 3   sealed a back-to-back monohull line honours title in an elapsed time of two days, 12 hours, 50 minutes and 56 seconds. The leading multihull, MOD70   Limosa   led by French woman Alexia Barrier, had finished some twelve hours earlier. Neither was able to overturn the respective race records set during the 2021 edition.

Rolex stands for precision and perpetual excellence in everything it does; values required to be a top offshore racing sailor as keenly manifested by competitors throughout the 44th Rolex Middle Sea Race. The 2023 race will be remembered for the spirit of the crews who maximised every opportunity presented, who overcame the complexity and unpredictability of the weather and who sailed with great determination right to the line. The seconds which separated the leading boats the perfect testament to this endeavour.

rolex yacht race

ROLEX AND YACHTING Rolex has always associated with activities driven by passion, excellence, precision and team spirit. The Swiss watchmaker naturally gravitated towards the elite world of yachting six decades ago and the brand’s enduring partnership now encompasses the most prestigious clubs, races and regattas, as well as towering figures in the sport, including ground-breaking round-the-world yachtsman Sir Francis Chichester and the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, Sir Ben Ainslie. Today, Rolex is Title Sponsor of 15 major international events – from leading offshore races such as the annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, to grand prix competition at the Rolex TP52 World Championship and spectacular gatherings at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup. It also supports the exciting SailGP global championship in which national teams race identical supercharged F50 catamarans on some of the world’s most famous harbours. Rolex’s partnerships  with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Royal Ocean Racing Club, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Royal Malta Yacht Club, New York Yacht Club and Royal Yacht Squadron, among others, are the foundation of its enduring relationship with this dynamic sport.

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ROLEX MIDDLE SEA RACE: A BEAUTIFUL COURSE, A RELENTLESS CHALLENGE

Press Release

10 October, 2023

The Rolex Middle Sea Race, which marks its 44th edition in 2023, is one of the world’s premier classic yacht races. Starting on Saturday, 21 October, the 606-nautical mile (1,122 kilometres) race is a stringent test of sailing prowess. Partnered by Rolex since 2002, the reputation and international profile of the contest has risen considerably over the course of its 55-year history, reaching heights quite unexpected when it was first held in 1968. For this year’s race, a fleet of more than 100 yachts is anticipated, representing 25 countries and crewed by some of the best and most passionate offshore sailors.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race is one of several 600-mile races supported by Rolex as part of its near 70-year partnership with the sport of yachting. As with historic counterparts the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, crews are drawn to its compelling challenge and unique characteristics.

For Rolex Testimonee Tom Slingsby, a two-time Rolex World Sailor of the Year and a helmsman on the overall winning yacht in 2021, his first Rolex Middle Sea Race appearance proved memorable:  

“The racetrack is beautiful. Going around islands in changing conditions with a lot of geographical factors at play and then finishing where we started. I will definitely be back.”

rolex yacht race

Renowned US yachtsman Paul Cayard, another past competitor and Rolex Testimonee, rates the spectacular course as one of the key attractions:

“With all its history and rugged beauty, the Rolex Middle Sea Race is one of the most impressive in the world. You are at the crossroads of the Mediterranean. The race has everything – an amazing energy at the start in Valletta, regular contact with wildlife and an unfolding passage around breathtaking islands . ”

Five-time Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt, also a former participant and Rolex Testimonee, emphasizes the significant examination faced by the crews:

“A long race like this is a challenge and your accomplishment is as part of a team. There is so much work behind these races: getting the boat to the start, preparing the sails, the rigging and the crew, managing the shifts between day and night, keeping people rested and in good form to do their job well. It is a big project, and if you achieve your potential, it is a great feeling .”

rolex yacht race

It is a sense of achievement that competitors have felt since the race was founded by a group of Corinthian sailors eager to test their skills and resilience by racing offshore. This core spirit has remained central to the success of the race over the years.

Another aspect that has not changed is the race starting and finishing in the same place. The start from the Grand Harbour in Valletta, the capital of Malta, is one of the most eye-catching in sailing. Spectators line every vantage point as cannons positioned high above the water signal the departure of the yachts. Thereafter, the primarily anti-clockwise circumnavigation of Sicily breaks into several distinct sections, each with its own reputation and appeal. Two active volcanoes – Etna and Stromboli – feature high on the list. UNESCO protected, the volcanic Aeolian island of Stromboli is the undeniable symbol of the race and rounding it in daylight or darkness is a highlight for all crews. Other notable legs include the perennially fickle Messina Strait, the rugged and beautiful Egadi islands on the north-west corner of the course, and the isolated Italian islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa, closer to Africa than Sicily, that precede the open-water leg back to Malta.

rolex yacht race

The location of the race and its timing can pose significant weather challenges. Competitors frequently meet punishing winds and brutal seas, mixed with periods of benign calm. For the fastest boats, finishing within 48 hours is considered an impressive run, characterized by two intense days at sea with minimal chance for rest. For the majority of the fleet, the race can take between four and six days. Preparation, teamwork, knowledge and experience sailing out of sight of land for long periods are crucial. Human and physical resources need to be managed carefully, with the demands on both constant and draining.

The Royal Malta Yacht Club, which has organized the race since its inception, takes the task of curating the event with serious intent, as Commodore David Cremona explains:

“In recent years, the Rolex Middle Sea Race has firmly established a reputation as one of the must-do offshore classics. Its most passionate advocates are past competitors, many of whom return time and time again to participate. In partnership with Rolex, the club is resolute in putting both the competitors and the future of the sport first as we evolve and develop. Proof of our successful approach is the great diversity within the fleet in terms of nationalities, boat types and experience .”

rolex yacht race

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Rolex and yachting

Showcasing precision

Prestigious regattas.

Regattas are held on sailing grounds indicated by buoys or geographic markers near the coast. Unfolding in full view of spectators, they are popular with the public on all continents.

As Official Timepiece or Title Sponsor, Rolex partners major annual regattas, such as the Rolex Maxi Yacht Cup and the Rolex Big Boat Series as well as the biennial Rolex Swan Cup.

Rolex also partners two prominent racing circuits: the worldwide SailGP Championship featuring identical foiling F50 catamarans that seem to take flight across the water; and the 52 SUPER SERIES for similar high-performance monohulls that race in real time.

SailGP The fastest fleet in history

Crews made up of the best sailors. Identical catamarans, with foils and a rigid wingsail, reaching up to 100 km/h. Spectacular races that last 15 minutes at most. The season consists of multiple rounds on the seas of five continents. Launched in 2019, the SailGP circuit redefines the world of competitive sailing, with innovative, continuously optimized catamarans that deliver outstanding performance. These flying yachts bear the colours the countries they represent and form the fastest fleet in history.

For Sir Ben Ainslie, chief executive officer of the Great Britain team, “the SailGP circuit is a major milestone in the evolution of yachting. The boats use the most state-of-the-art technology while the competition continues to widen the appeal of sailing.”

Outstanding sailors

A master of many classes

Tom Slingsby

The gold standard in regatta racing

Sir Ben Ainslie

COMMITTED TO INCLUSION

Hannah Mills

An outstanding helmsman

Robert Scheidt

Maxi yacht rolex cup an event for racing giants.

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has been the flagship annual event for Maxi monohulls more than 60 feet (18.30 metres) in length since 1980. Organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and staged in the emerald waters off the club’s magnificent headquarters in Porto Cervo, northern Sardinia, it brings together the greatest number of maxi yachts, which compete for nearly a week in races ranging in distance from 15–35 nautical miles (28 to 65 kilometres).

Jewels of naval architecture, these yachts are among the most powerful ever built and are crewed by the best skippers and teams in the world. The monohulls may be immense, but the gaps at the finish line remain small. As with any regatta, precision is essential to good performance.

The partnership that unites Rolex and the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup was initiated in 1985 and is one of the oldest on the nautical calendar.

52 SUPER SERIES Extreme precision

The TP52 class world circuit is one of the most demanding in the sport of yachting. The races, 15 to 30 nautical miles long (28–56 kilometres), are contested on 52-foot (15.85 metres) monohulls meeting strict measurement criteria.

Timing is key to teamwork in the 52 SUPER SERIES. At this level, every second counts and winning boils down to precision. As emphasized by Brazilian racer Robert Scheidt, this requirement makes Rolex the ideal partner for this series: “Rolex stands for precision and excellence in everything it does. These are the characteristics found in the most successful TP52 crews, where teamwork and timing are essential elements.”

Since 2017, Rolex has also been Title Sponsor of the Rolex TP52 World Championship, held mid-season as part of the 52 SUPER SERIES.

Famous regattas worldwide

The essence of elegance

Rolex Swan Cup

Uniting yacht clubs

Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup

United States west coast event

Rolex Big Boat Series

Tradition and modernity in the Mediterranean

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez

rolex yacht race

2023 | Rolex Middle Sea Race

rolex yacht race

  • Registrations are closed

rolex yacht race

The 44th Rolex Middle Sea Race Starts on 21st October 2023

The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a 606nm offshore classic. It is often mentioned in the same breath as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and the Rolex Fastnet Race as one of the ‘must do’ 600 milers. Featuring a circular route, tow active volcanoes and a host of other islands, the course has a uniqu splendour not to be missed.  The Royal Malta Yacht Club hopes to see you in October for the next edition of the Mediterranean’s most Challenging and most Scenic Race

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Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2024

rolex yacht race

2024 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race | Entries Open

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) is pleased to invite eligible boats to enter 2024 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. The 79th edition of the historic 628-nautical mile blue water classic will start on Sydney Harbour at 1300 hrs AEDT on Thursday 26 December 2024.

2024 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race | Entries Open

  • 14 Jun, 2024 02:15:00 PM

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) is pleased to invite eligible boats to enter 2024 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Offshore Summer 2023 - Women of the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

  • 15 Apr, 2024 02:58:00 PM

Offshore Summer 2023 - Women of the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

The 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race set records for women’s involvement and achievements.

How the Hobart Was Won

  • 03 Apr, 2024 11:26:00 AM

How the Hobart Was Won

Navigator Chris Lewis shares his view of the maxi yacht LawConnect’s thrilling win in the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you live coverage from the finish of the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. We now take you to Hobart, Tasmania, where two of the race’s 100-foot supermaxis are ghosting toward the finish line, with underdogs LawConnect closing in on pre-race favorite, AndooComanche.

Offshore Summer 2023 – Wild Thing 100

  • 03 Apr, 2024 09:59:00 AM

Offshore Summer 2023 – Wild Thing 100

In the world of 100-footers, it is not often that we get to welcome new members. With rising labour and material costs, these yachts, which regularly steal the spotlight, are scarce. However, this year we were able to add another one of these spectacular racers to the roster. ‘Wild Thing 100’ is the brainchild of proud owner and skipper Grant Wharington, better known as ‘Wharo.’

Thank You for making the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – A Race for the Ages

  • 29 Jan, 2024 11:27:00 AM

Thank You for making the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – A Race for the Ages

Reflecting on the resounding success of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2023 fills us with gratitude. The coordination required for hosting such an iconic event was made possible by the dedicated efforts of everyone involved.

Congratulations to all the divisional winners of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2023

Congratulations to all the divisional winners of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2023

PHOTOS | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Official Prizegiving

PHOTOS | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Official Prizegiving

PHOTOS | Day 5 Morning - Tasman Island and Storm Bay

PHOTOS | Day 5 Morning - Tasman Island and Storm Bay

PHOTOS | Day 5 and Day 6 finishers

PHOTOS | Day 5 and Day 6 finishers

PHOTOS | Official Presentation of Tattersall Cup and Rolex Timepiece to the Overall Winner

PHOTOS | Official Presentation of Tattersall Cup and Rolex Timepiece to the Overall Winner

2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - A Race for the Ages

2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - A Race for the Ages

VIDEO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Rolex Daily Video Summary

VIDEO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Rolex Daily Video Summary

VIDEO | Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2023

VIDEO | Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2023

VIDEO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Official Prizegiving

VIDEO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Official Prizegiving

VIDEO | Race Update - 31 December Morning

VIDEO | Race Update - 31 December Morning

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 10

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 10

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 9

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 9

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 8

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 8

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 7

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 7

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 6

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 6

Official rolex sydney hobart merchandise.

Shop the official clothing range of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in person at the Club in New South Head Road, Darling Point or online below.  

From casual to technical clothing, there is something for all occasions. Be quick as stock is limited!

IMAGES

  1. The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

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  2. The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

    rolex yacht race

  3. PHOTOS: Start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014 >> Scuttlebutt

    rolex yacht race

  4. PHOTOS: Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014 >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News

    rolex yacht race

  5. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race: Proof Perfect Of Ability

    rolex yacht race

  6. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2013

    rolex yacht race

VIDEO

  1. Maritimo Racing 54 & 52

  2. 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

  3. Rolex Yacht-Master

  4. 2005 ROLEX SYDNEY HOBART ONBOARD KONICA MINOLTA

  5. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2023

  6. 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

COMMENTS

  1. News Story

    Internationally renowned as one of the most arduous rites of passage in ocean sailing, a historic offshore challenge that has captivated professional and Corinthian sailors alike since 1945, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race represents a cornerstone of Rolex’s association with world-class yachting endeavours.

  2. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2021

    Over its three-quarters of a century history, the race has provided a platform for human achievement and endeavour, qualities that align with Rolex's core philosophy and which underpin the Swiss watchmaker's more than 60-year involvement in yachting.

  3. Rolex Middle Sea Race 2023

    Majestic, historic and partnered by Rolex since 2002, the Rolex Middle Sea Race, organized by the Royal Malta Yacht Club, is the Mediterranean’s most renowned offshore race. Emerging victorious as overall race winner was Andrea Recordati’s Wally 93 Bullitt .

  4. Rolex Middle Sea Race

    The Rolex Middle Sea Race was created as the result of sporting rivalry between two British yachtsmen residing in Malta, Alan Green and Jimmy White, and two Maltese sailors, Paul and John Ripard, both members of the Royal Malta Yacht Club.

  5. ROLEX MIDDLE SEA RACE: A BEAUTIFUL COURSE, A RELENTLESS CHALLENGE

    The Rolex Middle Sea Race, which marks its 44th edition in 2023, is one of the world’s premier classic yacht races. Starting on Saturday, 21 October, the 606-nautical mile (1,122 kilometres) race is a stringent test of sailing prowess.

  6. Rolex and Yachting

    Rolex also partners two prominent racing circuits: the worldwide SailGP Championship featuring identical foiling F50 catamarans that seem to take flight across the water; and the 52 SUPER SERIES for similar high-performance monohulls that race in real time.

  7. 2023

    The 44th Rolex Middle Sea Race Starts on 21st October 2023 The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a 606nm offshore classic. It is often mentioned in the same breath as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and the Rolex Fastnet Race as one of the ‘must do’ 600 milers.

  8. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2024

    The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) is pleased to invite eligible boats to enter 2024 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. The 79th edition of the historic 628-nautical mile blue water classic will start on Sydney Harbour at 1300 hrs AEDT on Thursday 26 December 2024.