Last Updated on 29 October 2012
A record fleet of 83 yachts started this year’s Rolex Middle Sea Race. Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo
On the morning of October 20, 2012, the Saluting Battery, high up in Valletta, signalled the start of the 33rd Rolex Middle Sea Race.
A record entry of 83 yachts from 19 countries started the 606-mile race witnessed by thousands of spectators crowded along the bastions overlooking the Grand Harbour.
The Slovenian Maxi, Esimit Europa 2, was to take line honours for the third consecutive year. However, it would be seven days before the last yacht would cross the finish line.
It was on day four that the 100-ft Maxi, Esimit Europa 2, crossed the finish line at 01:13.15 CEST. Jochen Schümann showered the Maxi crew with champagne dockside at the Royal Malta Yacht Club.
“That was a tough one,” explained Schümann. “We got caught up by Ran and Stig in the first parking lot at Stromboli but it was by no means the last.
“Our goal was line honours and it was impossible to relax during any part of the race.
“We are delighted to have taken line honours and finish off a great season in style.”
It was nearly seven hours before Niklas Zennstrom’s JV 72, Ran ,crossed the finish line, setting the bar for the rest of the fleet to better after time correction. Ran put in a magnificent performance to lead a highly competitive Class 1 and lay claim to an overall win but overall victory was to escape them.
In the early hours of day five, a massive thunderstorm and torrential rain engulfed Malta. Nick Lazos and Periklis Livas’ Farr 52, Optimum 3 Aspida reached the finish line at 03:00 to lead Class Two and the Rolex Middle Sea Race overall.
However, the Greek team’s tenure on this extraordinary race was very short-lived. At 04:18 Eddie De Villiers’s Welbourne 46, Hi Fidelity, completed the race to take the overall lead.
In driving rain with thunderbolts lighting up the bastions, the South African crew looked astonished to find out that they were hot favourites to win the overall prize.
“We didn’t have a clue how well we were doing until we finished, it is unbelievable,” exclaimed Hi Fidelity’s owner, Eddie De Villiers.
“The crew have been absolutely fantastic, I cannot give them enough praise. This has been one hell of a race, we have had just about everything thrown at us.
“Coming through the Comino Strait there was a terrific amount of thunder and lightning, it was all around us and the wind touched 37 knots.
“To come through the finish and find out that we have such a great result is amazing!”
By the afternoon of day five, it became clear that none of the yachts still racing could better Hi Fidelity’s corrected time and the latter were announced as the overall winners.
The team from South Africa became the ninth different country to provide a winner of the Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy joining yachts from Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, the United Kingdom and the United States.
In the early hours of day six, Josef Schultheis’ and Paolo Semeraro’s Xp44, XP-ACT, crossed the finish line. The team had come close to beating Hi Fidelity but had to settle for a win in Class 3 and third overall.
XP-ACT had three Maltese crew on board. However, Artie RTFX, with an all-Malta crew, became the first Maltese boat to cross the finish line and win Class 4.
Artie RTFX co-skipper Christian Ripard spoke dockside: “We did our best, it was a great race and everybody did a great job working really hard but we just kept on getting stuck in patches of no wind, which was very frustrating.”
On day 7, the Rolex Middle Sea Race came to a fairytale conclusion for the Irish Two Handed team racing Dinah.
There were emotional scenes at The Royal Malta Yacht Club as Irish sailors Barry Hurley and Andrew Boyle sailed home in their 35ft yacht to win the double handed class, finishing just 25 minutes inside the time limit after seven days of tense racing.
Posted in: Events
Last Updated on 18 October 2012
Photos: Chris Sant Fournier
It was pedal to the metal as the Mdina Grand Prix got under way yesterday with the Mtahleb Hill Climb.
A convoy of classic cars left the Hilton in St Julian’s at 8.30am, turning heads across the island as they sped towards Mtahleb for the start of this year’s event.
There were more than enough classic vehicles taking part to rev the engines of vintage car lovers, including eight Bugattis, a 1933 Alfa Romeo 6C and a convertible Porsche 356.
Many of the participants have come from overseas especially for this popular street race, now in its fourth year.
The action continues today with the Mdina Glass Concours d’Elegance, which will once again be held in the Silent City’s Cathedral Square.
Live classical music and car owners in period outfits will add to the festive atmosphere.
Tomorrow morning’s practice will take place on the 2.2-kilometre track below the Mdina bastions: an exciting circuit featuring fast straights and demanding corners. Drivers will be timed in the afternoon to determine the winner.
The race climaxes on Sunday with 80 cars vying to take the chequered flag first. Participants will have two runs in the morning and two in the afternoon to determine who will be spraying the champagne on the final podium.
Demonstration runs by classic motorbikes and supercars are also expected on Sunday.
Posted in: Events
Last Updated on 20 August 2012
Laura with guitarist Nicola Oliva
Italian star who has sold over 45million albums across the world performs some of her greatest hits at a sparkling concert in Ta’ Qali where she got a warm welcome
Italian singer Laura Pausini returned to the Maltese islands to give yet another show-stopping performance on Wednesday night.
Numerous fans packed the open-air grounds at the MFCC, in Ta’ Qali, to welcome back the artist who had given a successful concert here in 2009.
The singer performed some of her most popular hits such as La solitudine and Strani amori and numbers from her latest album, Inedito.
Video projections and costume changes complemented the performances.
The artiste showed her warmer side as she interacted with the audience continuously during the one-and-a-half-hour show. She also dabbled in Maltese, telling the crowd “inhobbokom” (I love you) on a number of occasions and “grazzi hafna” (thanks a lot), among other phrases.
“It was a fantastic show,” said one fan, “despite some minor hitches”. The concert began about half an hour late because of some lighting problems. “This left the stage somehow dark,” according to the concert-goer.
Ever since winning the 1993 edition of the Sanremo festival with La Solitudine, Pausini has sold over 45 million albums throughout the world, winning three Latin Grammy Awards.
She is not only loved in Italy but also Spain, France, The Netherlands and as far away as South America.
Her latest world tour, titled Inedito like her latest release, is directed by Marco Balich, creator of the Winter Olympics’ ceremonies in Turin in 2006 and the inauguration of the Juventus stadium last summer.
The set was designed by Mark Fisher, who has worked with Pink Floyd and U2.
Posted in: Events
Last Updated on 09 July 2012
Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja returned to his Floriana stage on Saturday night for a concert before thousands of people on the Granaries. The annual concert by the internationally-renowned tenor is held every summer, bringing together pop and opera. The formula is a crowd-pleaser year in, year out.
This year’s line-up included the Neapolitan singer-songwriter Gigi D’Alessio and Irish heart-throb and former Boyzone lead singer Ronan Keating. Both performed duets with Mr Calleja. The 200-strong HSBC children’s choir also took part.
Gigi D’Alessio and Joseph Calleja.
Among the best received numbers were Hallelujah, sung jointly by Calleja, Keating and the choir – which got an encore – as well as Because You’re Mine, You Raise Me Up and Brindisi. Keating’s single When You Say Nothing at All, which was featured in the film Notting Hill and peaked at number one in several countries, got a huge cheer from the audience.
Ronan Keating on stage. Photos: Paul Zammit Cutajar
The choir was particularly applauded for its beautiful rendering of the Anvil Chorus, which kicked off the second part of the concert. Several of the musical arrangements were made by Kevin and Paul Abela. Mr Calleja was also joined on stage by soprano Gillian Zammit and Amber, fresh from the Eurovision Song Contest where she was part of Kurt Calleja’s team. The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra was directed by the internationally acclaimed conductor Steven Mercurio, who has collaborated with Mr Calleja on his new album, a tribute to opera star Mario Lanza. The concert included a moving tribute to Lucio Dalla, who was in Malta last year shortly before he passed away suddenly. The concert was organised by NnG Promotions and supported by HSBC, Vodafone and Allied Newspapers.
Posted in: Events
Last Updated on 28 June 2012
Flo Rida made a spectacular entrance on stage. Photos: Matthew Mirabelli. Right: The multi-talented Will.i.am stole the show, confirming his top billing.
Music lovers from around the world packed into the Granaries to see the stars perform.
Top US?rapper Flo Rida gives high-fives to fans in the crowd during yesterday’s concert.
Dutch singer Eva Simons.
Nelly Furtado gave an energetic performance, singing all her best-known hits and getting the crowd to sing along with her.
More than 50,000 people turned up for the Isle of MTV Malta Special free music festival on Tuesday night... and the headline acts did not disappoint.
Thousands of music-lovers surged into the Granaries in Floriana as the sun set, eager to watch singer-songwriter Nelly Furtado and rappers Flo Rida and Will.i.am perform on the huge stage constructed opposite the brightly lit church.
Malta’s Eurovision entry, Kurt Calleja, made a surprise appearance to get the crowd going early, singing his competition song This Is The Night, followed by the energetic Dutch singer Eva Simons.
Eva’s flame-red Mohican never faltered as she bopped around the stage, belting out her track I Don’t Like You and other infectious dance-pop tunes, while giant TV screens suspended from the stage ceiling flashed clubbing graphics overhead.
As the day’s blazing heat cooled, Canadian pop star Nelly Furtado continued Eva’s technique with her hit song Maneater, followed by new single Big Hoops, while dancers swung giant hoops around the stage.
She then asked the screaming crowd if Malta had The Spirit Indestructible – the title of her next album – before getting everyone to sing along with her breakthrough hit I’m Like A Bird.
American rapper Flo Rida re-energised the packed Granaries into a screaming frenzy with his hits Whistle, In The Ayer and Low. Ever the charmer, he handed roses to selected female fans while performing Wild Ones, then tried to high-five most of the crowd as he ran the length of the square and back.
Finally, top of the bill was the multi-talented producer and TV personality Will.i.am, who performed at the Isle of MTV with his Black Eyed Peas band-mates in 2009.
Back as a solo artist, he filled the stage with dancers wearing 3D iPad helmets showing moving images of his face, echoing the hi-tech nature of his band’s live performances.
Opening with his global hit T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever), he later brought Eva Simons back on stage for dance ballad This Is Love, while circus performers and pyrotechnics went off around them.
Finishing the night by displaying his DJ skills to bring a taste of Paceville to Floriana, the 50,000-strong dancing crowd proved that the sixth Isle of MTV Malta was arguably the best one yet.
Posted in: Events
Last Updated on 04 November 2011
Maltese boat Artie won this year’s Rolex Middle Sea Race. Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo
Racing near two live volcanos and around 19 islands presents an endless challenge of a breathtaking course that only the Rolex Middle Sea Race can offer. Behind the beauty of landmark backdrops along the 606nm course, is an exceedingly 360-degree gruelling race that skippers of fame dream of winning.
No wonder that Grant Dalton, the Emirates Team New Zealand America’s Cup syndicate head, described the Rolex MSR as the Mediterranean answer to the other potentially treacherous offshore classics such as the Fastnet and Sydney-Hobart.
This year, we had an impressive setting of four consecutive starts with the breeze practically getting stronger with each start. In all, a 70-strong fleet, from 16 different countries, had assembled at Grand Harbour, providing every conceivable story of close competition, daring manoeuvres and outright determination to win.
Again, the tricky part of this race was over-riding the tidal gate at the Strait of Messina. Smart tactics to bypass the wind shifts from the large and small islands along the second part of the course were the winning factors.
It was so frustrating at times to endure hours of slight various winds that kept on disrupting onboard navigators and strategies.
The big boats in the race, the likes of Esimit Europa, RMSR 2009 winner Alegre and Ran, had to struggle at times to find the winning formula that the smaller boats were enjoying.
More than that, the eight Maltese entries were having a field day this time while engaging themselves in employing clever tactics using their local and multiple-experience participation of the RMSR.
Artie, which missed the winning post by a few minutes last year, actually had a slow start clocking in at 31st position at the first transit point of Capo Passero.
Realising their precarious position, skipper Chris Ripard and Lee Satariano, owner and co-skipper of Artie, recovered from their difficult start and by the time they got to the second transit point at the Strait of Messina, they had improved to 17th place.
A ride of that kind is satisfying as it provides the most extreme test of crew and teamwork.
At the third transit point of Stromboli, the best of the Maltese fleet had made it into the top 20 with Aziza seventh, Artie ninth, Ton Ton 11th, Otra Vez 12th, Jaru 15th, Vikesha 17th, Juno 18th and Elusive St Regis 20th.
Given the optimal weather conditions, anyone with a well-drilled crew could win and at Favignana, both Artie and Otra Vez were already challenging for top spot having only German boat Rockall to contend with.
From then, Artie kept the pressure, racing past Pantelleria and Lampedusa in the runner-up position. The rest of the Maltese fleet were not far behind either, with Otra Vez fifth followed by Ton Ton, Jaru, Juno and Elusive St Regis.
Incredible! At this point, the feeling was that it looked more like a local race than anything else. The only threat was coming from Rockall.
Tensions were running high for these two leading boats.
Mathematical calculations re-quired that Artie had to clock in on the fourth day at 18h 28m 08s with Rockall having more breathing space as it needed to finish at 20h 41m 50s, to outgun provisional leaders Ran on corrected time.
It was here that Artie showed their determination and expertise when, amazingly, they crossed the line on Wednesday at precisely 15h 22m 54s, thus forcing Rockall into a final run of do-or-die tactics as the German boat only had a few minutes to make it in the last 10 miles.
They never did.
In the end, not only did Artie win the prestigious MSR Trophy but Otra Vez placed third, Jaru fourth, Juno fifth, Ton Ton seventh and Elusive St Regis 11th.
The Royal Malta Yacht Club was buzzing after this outstanding result for Maltese boats.
George Bonello du Puis, the club Commodore, proudly em-phasised that this was a golden page in the RMSR history.
“What an amazing fleet of Maltese boats we have flying the eight-pointed cross,” he said.
“I am really proud of the achievements of our club and as a sailing nation too.”
Posted in: Events
Last Updated on 24 October 2011
Photos: Chris Sant Fournier
The silent city was awakened by the roar of finely-tuned vintage engines yesterday on the final day of the third classic car grand prix.
A range of historic and classic cars, from Aston Martins to Mini Minors, purred around the streets outside Mdina, starting at Ghajn Hamiem Street and ending at Gharriqin Street.
The event is usually held in Valletta but was this year moved to the old capital due to road works in and around Valletta. It is the only street race of its kind in this part of the Mediterranean.
For the first time, this year’s event included a limited guest class of post-1976 cars.
The event began on Friday with the public admiring the glistening cars as they sat on display in St Paul Square, Mdina. The participating vehicles performed timed runs on Saturday when Steve Borg, driving a 1972 Morris Mini Minor, clocked the fastest time.
As the warm October sunshine slicked up drops of rainfall that had fallen earlier that morning, the cars yesterday cruised around the circuit in a series of demonstration runs.
The grand prix was organised by the Valletta Grand Prix Foundation with help from the Mdina, Rabat and Mtarfa local councils. The foundation is in the process of joining the Federation Internationale des Vehicules Anciens.
Posted in: Events
Record-breaking 80 entries registered Previous best was 77 in 2008 - Article from The Times of Malta
Last Updated on 13 October 2011
The start of last year’s Rolex Middle Sea Race at Valletta’s Grand Harbour. A record entry has been registered for this year’s race.
A record has been broken even before the start of the Rolex Middle Sea Race on October 22, it was announced yesterday.
Days before final registration for this year’s event, entries have risen to a record-breaking 80 and there are still a few days to go before the last entry can be accepted.
New entries from Italy, Serbia, Slovenia and the UK have pushed the numbers up to 80, three more than the previous record of 77 in 2008.
“We can accept late entries up until October 17 and we do expect one or two more, said Georges Bonello Dupuis, Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club.
“As it is, entries for this year are incredible and we are really looking forward to seeing them all berthed outside our headquarters... the place will be buzzing,” he added.
A handful of boats are here, including previous RMSR line honours and overall winner, Alegre together with back-to-back Rolex Fastnet winner Ran 2.
Other arrivals include the UK Swan 57 Yellowdrama, who’ll be fighting for the new Nautor Swan Cup, Echo, Doppelbock (Germany and UK) and Filando and Tyke from Italy.
Filando’s 14-man crew are here for the first time to take part in a race that they consider “the best offshore regatta in the Mediterranean.”
Many of the entries will arrive this weekend, including the brand new 85-foot Nautor Swan Berenice, from Italy.
While good weather over the weekend will ease the passage of arriving yachts, Bonello Dupuis cautioned: “I expect one or two might have problems but fingers crossed that everyone arrives here safely... they will certainly receive a warm welcome.”
The Rolex Middle Sea Race is organised in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and has been sponsored by Rolex since 2002.
Posted in: Events
Last Updated on 02 October 2011
Lascaris War Room guides joked about the number of locals they saw which is a rarity during the rest of the year
The usually quiet evening streets of Valletta were turned into a vibrant festival of the arts, history and culture on Saturday, as Notte Bianca went through its sixth edition.
The capital’s streets and buildings were illuminated especially for the occasion, with 75 attractions and places of interest to choose from and about 500 people taking part.
Theatre lovers got a sneak peak into Renzo Piano’s as yet unfinished roofless theatre and were able to watch performances in the opera house ruins.
On the musical front, the sounds of rock, blues, indie, jazz and traditional music coming from several squares and gardens mingled with marching bands and orchestras.
A number of museums were also open to the public free of charge.
At the Lascaris War Rooms, which are currently undergoing renovation, the Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna tour guides joked about how they rarely saw Maltese people down in the underground chambers during the rest of the year but were overwhelmed by the number of locals on the night. Numerous bars and restaurants took advantage of the hungry crowds and stayed open beyond their normal hours.
While the organisers had appealed to visitors to enter Valletta through different routes other than Republic Street due to the ongoing construction works, it seems that not everyone followed their advice, with large crowds attempting to make their way through the narrowed passage that used to lead to the capital from City Gate.
The bottleneck proved too much for some, with one elderly woman seen whacking her way through the crowd with her walking stick.
Meanwhile, an Arriva spokesman said the company ferried more than 30,000 passengers on its special services between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. during Saturday’s event.
While there were large crowds, Arriva and Transport Malta had staff on hand to direct those wanting to take the bus to the relevant stops and mobile ticket sellers to help make boarding quicker.
Special routes labelled A to K were put on for the evening to make sure all passengers could make the journey home.
Posted in: Events
Last Updated on 25 May 2010
The historic bastions of Valletta served as a backdrop to the 2010 edition of the Valletta Grand Prix, a weekend of races with Malta's crème-de-la-crème of classic cars competing.
The races, on May 8 and 9, marked the end of six days of events.
Participants went on various drives and sightseeing trips. On May 6, the cars were scrutineered at Hal Far. Scrutineering ensures that each car is in accordance with the rules as stipulated by the event organisers. A series of drag races ensued at the raceway.
President George Abela received participants at San Anton Palace on May 7. Valletta Waterfront was the destination for that afternoon's Concours d'Elegance. This involved participating cars being judged on criteria such as condition, rarity and value.
Three foreign judges, Guy Broad, a Jaguar specialist, Toby Ross, an Italian and French car valuation specialist, and Ron Middleton, a racer and rally driver, will be determining the best car at the event.
The main event kicked off on the morning of May 8, with practice and show runs displaying competing cars and others from Maltese clubs representing other motorsport disciplines.
The day's sprint races started from the bottom of Crucifix Hill, next to Valletta Waterfront's cruise liner terminal. The finish line was at the top of Great Siege Road.
The participating cars departed at a few second intervals and were timed individually over the race distance.
On May 9, participating cars were split into five classes according to their age and modifications. The races started and finished in Nelson Avenue. Show runs were on in between each race.
The classic cars raced against the clock around the formidable bastions of Valletta, happily with no incident.
Posted in: Events