By Wilfred Sultana
A few weeks ago the Royal Malta Yacht Club hosted the 38th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, where a fleet of 102 yachts from 30 countries gave Malta prestigious exposure in the international yachting circles.
In a few days’ time, precisely from the 17th to the 20th December, Malta will again be in the limelight of the world of sailing when the Malta Young Sailors Club organises the 18th Edition of the Mapfre Middlesea Euromed Regatta, indeed a yearly established International Sailing event for Optimist and Laser dinghies.
The Optimist, one of the most popular sailing dinghies in the world, is a small, single-handed sailing dinghies intended for use by children up to the age of 15. The Optimist is recognized as an International Class by the International Sailing Federation. The dinghy is classified as a “pram” because of its shallow-draught flat-bottom.
There will be three Optimist Classes, namely, the Senior Division for Boys and Girls between 12 and 15 years, the Cadet Division for Boys and Girls born between 8 and 11 years, and the Beginners’ Division for Boys and Girls born between 2001 and 2008, who have only been sailing for 12 months.
There will also be Laser 4.7 and Radial fleets which will be sailed in a single series but on a separate course to the Optimists.
For this year’s 18th Edition there are 142 sailors from 20 countries registered already! Young sailors will be coming from Australia, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom!!!
The Regatta will be held in the crystal clear blue waters racing arena of Mellieha Bay, with the db Seabank Resort + Spa once again recognised as the official hotel of the Regatta. ‘Euromed’ is held during the schools Christmas holidays where foreign competing youngsters travel to Malta accompanied by other members of their families who besides compete in the Regatta taste the holiday values of our country.
The past seventeen editions gave Malta the pride of six victories, followed by Italy and Russia boasting three victories each, having Sweden cherishing two wins, concluding the prestigious seventeen winners line-up with Great Britain, Iceland and Turkey showing-off one triumph each.
The Mapfre Middlesea Euromed Regatta, sponsored by Mapfre Middlesea p.l.c. and held under the patronage of the Malta Sailing Federation, features more than just an international representation of competitors.
Bojan Gale (SLO), Mirko Urkas (CRO), Manuel Ken Gamito (POR) under the Chairmanship of Giorgio D’Avanzo (ITA) make up the Jury Panel. Furthermore Jon Eskdale (GBR) will be the Results Officer while Annika Ekman (SWE) will be Race Officer for the Laser course. Also assisting on the Optimist and Laser courses will be Peter and Anne Taylor from Great Britain. Peter Dimech (MLT) is the Principal Race Officer on the Optimist course and he will be assisted by David Bartol (SLO) who is an International Race Officer.
A growing popular attraction offered by the Malta Young Sailors Club is the pre-Euromed clinic which gives competitors, both local and foreigners, a unique opportunity to prepare for the Regatta on the same waters as well as grasp foremost sailing techniques from qualified international coaches. This year the clinic will be held between the 11th and 15th December and will be run by the international Serbian coach Maurizio Bencic.
“Our sailors always look with great passion to Euromed. This year Malta will be represented by 21 sailors made up in two teams – 14 sailors in the A team and 8 in the B team with an average age of 11. The youngest sailor in the B team, which hosts the new young sailing enthusiasts, is a 9-year-old”, remarked Jean Paul Fleri Soler, the Malta Young Sailors Club Youth Development Officer.
Photograph: A delightful scene of many small sails in Mellieha Bay! Young sailors anxious to get into action in the Mapfre Middlesea Euromed Regatta 2017. (Photograph: Andrea Schultheis)