Set sail to the Maltese Islands
Last Saturday 18th October, I was invited by the Royal Malta Yacht Club to watch the start of the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 at the Lower Barrakka Gardens overlooking the magnificent Grand Harbour. The 122 participating yachts set sail at different times from 10.30 am to noon depending on their specifications.
Their goal, to race north east, leaving Malta in their wake, heading for the south east corner of Sicily before navigating the challenging Messina Straits and all the way round Sicily and back to Malta as fast as possible. Even if I am not a sailor, this is one event that I never miss – the yachts, the awesome setting, the sunshine, chilled wine and canapés. This year I took a Norwegian friend with me and we enjoyed every minute of it. The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a highly rated offshore classic, often mentioned in the same breath as the Rolex Fastnet, The Rolex Sydney – Hobart and Newport-Bermuda as a “must do” race. The Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club co-founded the race in 1968. The race is a true challenge to skippers and crews who have to be at their very best to cope with the often changeable and demanding conditions. Equally, the race is blessed with unsurpassed scenery with its course, taking competitors close to a number of islands, which form marks of the course. Ted Turner described the MSR as “the most beautiful race course in the world”.
You do not need to own a boat or be an experienced sailor to enjoy the sea. Malta is an ideal base if wanting to explore the Mediterranean Sea – perfect for crossing over to Sicily, wandering the Ionian or simply enjoying the Maltese Archipelago’s clear blue waters with hidden anchorages, idyllic bays, and excellent restaurants to dine on fresh fish or mouth-watering Maltese rabbit. Unlike staying in a hotel, sailors can roam and have a home in every port or anchorage – there’s no need to feel deprived of modern conveniences, as today’s charter boats come with every conceivable amenity, fully fitted galleys – many with washing machines, microwaves and deep freezes! If you’re already experienced, and have all the necessary qualifications, then the Med is virtually your oyster, subject to the necessary paperwork (and occasionally a test trip before you take ‘command’) you can sail away into the sunset. If you’re keen to get qualified, RYA courses can be combined with cruising to make a real worthwhile and memorable ‘activity’ holiday. If chartering, and new to sailing and relaxation is the key we can also offer a skipper who will take the proverbial ‘strain’ leaving you free to unwind and enjoy the holiday. Choosing the ideal boat is also a major consideration. Think about what you want to do: go fishing, diving, cruising or relaxing (even massage or yoga on board)? Are you after a sporty cruiser, a sleek power boat or a sailing yacht? Do you want a skipper/crew? Are you after qualifications? Let us know and our JustCruiZing Skipper Darren Lewis will send you some cool ideas! And you do not have to wait for summer to do this as the Maltese Islands enjoy year round sunshine, warm seas and a vibrant night scene.