The Maltese Factor’ at the J70 Italian Championships

Thursday, September 24, 2015, 16:47

Gavin Muscat

The J70 is the world’s most high profile sports boat.

With over 1,000 hulls built in three years, this is considered to be the sailing class of the future, the class where both pros and amateur sailors compete to show their mettle.

The J70 class hit Malta last year and currently there is a thriving fleet of 5 boats crewed by some of the top local sailors.

This year, the best Maltese J70 team campaigned by Sebastian Ripard and Benji Borg, travelled to Europe to compete on the international circuit with their best achieved in the Italian J70 Nationals held at Fraglia Vela Riva Del Garda between 10 and 12 September.

Thirty one teams from eight countries entered this event, a strong European fleet which included the top Italian teams: Calvi, L’elagain and Notaro which had placed 2nd, 5th and 6th respectively in the World Championships in La Rochelle last July.

In Garda, our Maltese team turned up, under dressed and under stated….. They entered the regatta and surely they left their mark.  Having scored 4th (of 31) in the first three races held on day one it was no surprise that the Italian press titles the following morning read: ‘Day 1 Eurocup: The Maltese Factor’.  The Maltese boys continued to sail a very consistent regatta and finished 3rd overall knocking even Team Notaro (ranked 6th in the world!!) off the podium!

Commenting about their performance, Sebastian Ripard and Benji Borg made it evidently clear that they were very happy with the result but also that they are hungry for more…… with their 2016 goal being to place in the top 5 at the European Championships to be held Kiel, Germany.

There is a certain momentum in sailing at the moment. The local J70 fleet is growing and competing regularly. High profile corporations such as MAPFRE Middlesea, SIMON Estates and BetSafe are supporting the development of this type of sailing which allows for Maltese top teams to compete in a level playing field abroad.

“Maybe, just maybe, if we continue down this path our sailors will start flying the Maltese flag from atop some of Europe’s most prestigious regatta podiums” said Sebastian Ripard. “Either way achieving a 3rd   place at the Italian J70 National Championships is great result for us and of course for Malta. We may be small but we certainly have a track record of punching above our weight”

The J70 Maltese class can be followed on their Facebook page J70 Association Malta:  or on their website -

Photo Courtesy - James Robinson Taylor

Photo Courtesy - James Robinson Taylor

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