Sailing: Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 Second Title for Exceptional Artie

Saturday, November 22, 2014, 19:22

By Wilfred Sultana

It takes a real champion, or should I say a strong team of champions, to face human and temporal challenges and conquer all. Lee Satariano and his crew on board J/122 Artie were indeed excepional winners of the 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race organised by the Royal Malta Yacht Club and eminent sponsors Rolex.


Indeed, a great honour for Satariano whose name was already inscribed in the archives of this famous race which he also won in 2011. Co-skipper with Satariano on both occasions was Christian Ripard another talented yachtsman who further to the two Artie conquests was also overall winner of the Rolex MSR two other times – Big Foot (1996) and Strait Dealer (2001).


Four wins which make Ripard the man with the most number of victories in this Mediterranean classic race followed by Italian Nello Mazzaferro who skippered Nita IV to three consecutive wins between 1978 and 1980.


And here is how Chris Ripard describes his fifth RMSR on J 122 Artie and the eighth for him together with Satariano.


“From the start, the frame of mind on board was of a very focused team,”

he said.


“We knew that this year our competition was even greater than ever before and that we’d have to work hard to secure a decent result.


“The first leg to Sicily was a race with no overtaking zones and we found early that our main competition Otra Vez was being sailed very well. On reaching the southeastern most tip of Sicily, the fleet was split into three main groups that were to the west, middle and east of the shoreline.


“Otra Vez was in the middle group and us in the east group. As the sun went down the wind died but started favouring the middle group and quickly they made large gains on the others. After a painful two hours looking at OV disappear over the horizon we fell ten miles behind before we finally got into the same breeze.


“This pushed us to concentrate hard at keeping the boat moving and at getting all the ‘shifts’ right. By morning we had closed to gap to six miles and moving better than a lot of boats around us.

“On exiting the straits we found a large number of yachts covering a large area all trying to get the best angle to Stromboli… us still light running downwind with our A1 asymmetric and still gaining.


“The leg to Stromboli is crucial and big gains can be made if you read the signs correctly which we did very well and by the time we got to Strombolicio (the turning point) we were only 100 metres behind OV. We had gained the ten miles we lost in 24hrs!


“At this stage we also knew that the next longest leg to Capo San Vito would be the race decider. With good crew work and constant watch we edged forward on the fleet albeit very slowly to gain a few crucial miles on our nearest rivals on the water. When the first little signs of the NW came we started multiplying our advantage with every minute and

gained enough on OV to round Capo San Vito 15 miles ahead and also leading all Class 3 yachts (we are Class 4) as well, boat for boat!


“That was our winning move. Once we rounded Favignana we had 25knots and the lead we had translated to around 35/40 miles in front of OV and counting by the time they rounded the corner behind us.


“The advantages of having a talented and experienced crew is that when we did get the breeze (40 to 50+ TWS) and large seas we handled the boat without any dramas and/or damage. We did not have to push the boat but we were still racing and didn’t actually know at the time that we were hours ahead.


“Basically we sailed from Favignana to the finish line in approx 25 hours… nearly half the race… not bad going for a bunch of amateurs! If you don’t have a good team, you just won’t get through it… this team proved excellent,” observed the veteran yachtsman Chris Ripard.


Satariano believes the 2014 Rolex MSR will definitely be a race to remember not only for Artie’s success but also for the manner in which victory was achieved.


“Main factor to make it a winning boat is the crew,” he said.


“Every member in the team just excelled in his role and the right formula evolved… a well prepared boat is the major factor.”

Artie’s winning team was made up Lee Satariano (owner-skipper), Chris Ripard (co-skipper), Sebastian Ripard (2nd co-skipper), Tim Davis, Thomas Ripard, Mathieu Almekinders, Sam Pizzuto, Matthew Gusman and Gordon Bugeja.

Good show boys – you made Malta proud.

Caption to Photograph:

ARTIE (MLT) crossing the finish line in Marsamxett Harbour to become winners of the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 (Photo: ROLEX/Kurt Arrigo)

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