Rolex Middle Sea Race Course Record Under Strong Challenge

With the news that Charles Dunstone (CEO of the pan-European PLC, Carphone Warehouse Group) has entered his 76-foot, Reichel/Pugh-designed racing yacht Enigma of London, the Royal Malta Yacht Club is gearing itself for a major assault on the course record of 64 hours, 49 minutes and 57 seconds, established by Zephyrus IV in 2000.

Held annually since 1968 in October, the Rolex Middle Sea Race is a highly rated offshore classic. The 607-nautical mile course takes yachts on a breathtaking route from Malta to Sicily, through the Straits of Messina, past the islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria, back to the finish in Malta. The yachts race by two active volcanoes, Etna and Stromboli (a mark of the course). In 2002, Etna erupted spectacularly, providing an unforgettable experience for the competitors.

"Bob McNeil has requested the Notice of Race, ostensibly to return this year with his latest boat Zephyrus," commented Commodore Georges Bonello-Dupuis, who added that, "Mike Slade with Leopard of London has also confirmed he will enter, suggesting that maxi yacht owners recognize the Rolex Middle Sea Race offers a serious bluewater challenge in the Mediterranean. I am hopeful we will attract a number of the other Super-Maxis that will be in the Med this season."

Enigma of London’s owner Charles Dunstone has made the Rolex Middle Sea Race one of his target events for the 2003 season. The boat was launched this week in a new configuration, which changed the boat from its original Transpac set-up. Dunstone explained that, "We have added 2,000kg to the keel bulb, refitted a scoop stern, and will be sailing with a new Turbo sailplan to optimize performance. Alongside Race Skipper Dave Bedford and full-time boat captain Matt Cowpe, the crew will include the round the world talents, Neal and Lisa MacDonald, along with several of the GBR Challenge team."

The changes made to Enigma (formerly Chance, which placed 4th overall in the 2001 Transpac and is sistership to Pegasus) suggest "a definite record contender," according to Mike Urwin of the RORC Rating Office in Lymington UK.

The 2003 race will start from Marxamsett Harbour, Malta on October 25. The Notice of Race is available from the RMYC or online at

Globally, Rolex is renowned for sponsoring high quality, grand-prix events such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rolex Fastnet Race, Giraglia Rolex Cup, Rolex Middle Sea Race, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex IMS Worlds, Rolex Farr 40 Worlds and the Rolex Commodore's Cup, which feature the very best in yacht design and sailing talent.

Rolex events take place in some of the most prestigious yachting venues in the world--among them Porto Cervo, Sardinia; St. Tropez, France; Cowes, England; Newport, Rhode Island; and San Francisco.

For entries & general information, contact Royal Malta Yacht Club, e-mail:;