Maserati clinches Rolex Middle Sea Race line honours
Giovanni Soldini’s Maserati Multi70 – which competed in last year’s RHKYC Nha Trang Rally – took line honours in the 41st Rolex Middle Sea Race after a thrilling MOD 70 trimaran duel with Mana.
Soldini and the Maserati Multi70 crew celebrate their line honours win © Maserati Multi70
Italy’s Maserati Multi70, skippered by Giovanni Soldini, held off fellow MOD 70 Mana to clinch multihull line honours in this year’s Rolex Middle Sea Race, crossing the finish line off Valletta, Malta, in an elapsed time of two days, 8hrs 31mins 31secs. The 41st edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race has attracted 50 entrants.
Mana, owned by Riccardo Pavoncelli and skippered by Brian Thompson, finished just 15 minutes behind after a closely fought battle around the course.
Last year, Soldini skippered Maserati Multi70 in the RHKYC Nha Trang Rally from Hong Kong to Vietnam, where they were second across the line behind the Orma 60 SHK Scallywag/Fuku. In Malta, Soldini made no mistake, although he was unable to beat the race’s multihull record – two days, 1hr 25mins 1sec – that he set in 2016.
Maserati Multi70 was the first back to Valletta, Malta © Kurt Arrigo / Rolex
“We knew it was going to be a tough challenge,” Soldini said. “We’ve met Mana’s skipper Brian Thompson on many occasions because he sails on various MOD 70s we’ve raced against. He’s an expert on these boats and it’s not easy to keep ahead of him, but this time we did it.”
Soldini’s crew comprised Cédric Bader, Vittorio Bissaro, Lorenzo Bressani, John Elkann, Oliver Herrera Perez, Nico Malingri and Matteo Soldini. Elkann added: “It was an intense and really beautiful regatta. We raced with our hearts, minds and arms. We’re very happy we were able to arrive in first place after so many miles of being so close to Mana.”
Maserati Multi70 and Mana set sail from Valletta on Saturday at 12.10pm and engaged in a long match race, never more than five miles apart. After passing Capo Passero with 12 knots of northwesterly wind, they sailed north towards the Strait of Messina, while the wind was getting lighter.
Mana was skippered by Brian Thompson, a frequent rival of Soldini’s © Rolex
Maserati sailed close to the Sicilian coast, looking for a favourable wind, while Mana headed east. Around midnight, 12 hours after the start, the two MOD 70s passed the Strait of Messina, close to each other. Once they passed Stromboli, the point furthest north of the whole course, the real match race started.
Soldini said: “There was no wind. We were so close and we overtook each other at least four or five times. It really was a battle.”
After a long, calm day, Maserati and Mana then started to speed up due to a northwesterly that led them almost all the way to the finish line.
“After Favignana we were always in the lead, but it wasn’t easy,” Soldini said. “We only arrived 15 minutes before Mana.”
The 41st Rolex Middle Sea Race started with 50 boats leaving Valletta © Rolex
As well as the two MOD 70s, the multihulls category features three more trimarans: Antoine Rabaste’s 80ft Ultim’Emotion 2, the 63ft Shockwave, skippered by Jeff Mearing and Scott Klodowski, and the Multi 50 Primonial, led by Sébastien Rogues. Corrected times will be announced after the completion of the race.
Shortly after crossing the finish line, Soldini and his team set off for Italy, for a shipyard in La Spezia after two years sailing around the world.
“It has been a long time since we’ve stopped for more than a month in a row and we have a lot of work to do,” Soldini said.
“Maserati Multi70 is always evolving, especially regarding the flying foils and rudders. With the Maserati Innovation Lab’s engineers, we are developing a totally new cutting-edge asset, with revolutionary rudders, foils and daggerboard, and we can’t wait to try it out.”