Maltese Team Wins 2nd Place

Friday, September 9, 2011, 19:57

An Isle of Wight promotion intro greets the event as “There’s nothing quite like Cowes Week – held between the 6th to 13th August; the oldest and largest annual sailing regatta in the World. The event boasts an 8-day schedule combining competitive racing and great fun for the 8,500 competitors racing and 100,000 spectators who enjoy a fantastic line up of shore-side entertainment day and night” 

Sebastian Ripard narrates….

Thousands of sailors, in all their various guises, flock to this sailing ‘Mecca’ for the sport’s biggest annual regatta. As you walk down Cowes high street, the flurry of activity is overwhelmingly symbolic of all big international regattas. The sailors are typical too: Bearded and red eyed French sailors walk around with cigarettes artfully perched on their lips. Salmon pink chinos and Ralph Lauren sweaters, fashionably draped over shoulders and tied with a knot, give away the upper class Italians. Pimms drinking pomms equally stand out with their tweed jackets and perfect Queen’s English.

Even though the crowd is truly international the venue is easily recognisable. In Europe sailing has three real Meccas: St.Tropez in France, Porto Cervo in Sardinia and Cowes in the UK. The streets of St Tropez are filled with the sweet smell of croissants and pain au chocolat. Warm freshly roasted coffee perfumes the bay of Porto Cervo, but when that pungent odour of deep fried fish & chips hits you in the face, you know you’re in Cowes.

Yet despite the food, and not to mention the weather, Cowes week is a truly spectacular event and this year was no exception.  It had everything: from warm, moderate days filled with champagne sailing, to dark and stormy days of survival sailing that if nothing else leave you with some good bar room stories.

The happy, almost exclusively Maltese sailors (8 out of 10) crew of ‘Yeoman’ after racing at the Cowes Week – Placing 2nd out of 30 boats missing 1st place by only 1 point in a hotly contested J/109 Class.

This year, in the J/109 class alone, 3 boats lost their masts on a particularly squally day. A day that certainly left a lot to be talked about later on in the pub, with a nice cool beer coaxing out the days events.

Not only was the racing top notch but the company was pretty good too. Hollywood’s superstar Ewan McGregor made an appearance by joining British round-the-world skipper Alex Thomson onboard Hugo Boss. However the belle of the ball was Princess Anne, whose visit made the Royal Yacht Squadron, adheres to formalities such as dressing up their members’ boats in an array of flags. The Brits love their formalities but it left us, a Maltese crew, wearing smiles of perplexity. Our ajja han morru attitude does not lend itself well to the time wasting of the Brits. Yet this is a story about how the Maltese mentality, if somewhat laid back and relaxed verging on lazy, sometimes seems to be the winning ticket.

The J/109 Yeoman, an almost fully Maltese boat consisting of 8 Maltese (all Ripards and Calasciones), an Aussie and a Brit, certainly did the Mediterranean ethos proud. Racing in a 30 strong fleet, this Maltese entry managed to place 2nd after a week of grueling racing, a significant achievement for an amateur crew racing in one of Britain’s most competitive classes. Even though we were not up at the crack of dawn for a morning warm up run and nor were we spending hours on pre race wasting time around, we still managed to give this over organized bunch a real run for their money. Smashing all other 28 competitors, Yeoman came within a nail biting point from taking overall victory from Velvet Elvis, the local heroes.

Even though I must admit that the British method of absolute organization does have many merits, we must not forget our own Mediterranean roots. There is definitely some strong power within the Maltese ethos. While I may not be able to put my finger on it; somewhere within our natural Mediterranean charm, passion, desire and will, lays a force to be reckoned with – a force capable of toppling even the greatest of foes. My history is a bit fuzzy but haven’t we, on multiple occasions, overcome that arrogant foe looking for an easy victory. That bully only to come away worse for wear at the hands of our feisty spirit?

J/109 Class – Final Top Five – Fleet of 30 boats

Pos Boat Name Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Total Best 6
1st Velvet Elvis  1.0 2.0 1.0 6.0 1.0 3.0 4.0 18.00 12.00
2nd YEOMAN 2.0 1.0 4.0 10.0 3.0 1.0 2.0 23.00 13.00
3rd Levante 5.0 8.0 3.0 21.0 4.0 7.0 1.0 49.00 28.00
4th Shiva 4.0 10.0 5.0 2.0 10.0 6.0 5.0 42.0 32.00
5th Inspara 6.0 5.0 7.0 3.0 9.0 4.0 9.0 43.0 34.00

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