Friday 15 December 2017

Sailing: Moore helps steer Lucky to Middle Sea Race glory

WM Nixon

Ian Moore has hit the target again. The top international navigator, who cut his sailing teeth at Carrickfergus on Belfast Lough, has added the overall victory in the Middle Sea Race to his already impressive CV.

These days, Moore's career has an increasingly American emphasis since he made the shrewd move from the British Team Origin America's Cup campaign to the California-based BMW Oracle organisation, America's Cup defenders and increasingly central in many aspects of global sailing.

For the 606-mile Mediterranean classic, which started last Saturday from Malta, Moore was signed on as navigator-tactician aboard the TP 52 Lucky, currently participating in major offshore races under the leadership of owner-skipper Bryon Erhart of Chicago.

Lucky has already been there or thereabouts in several top events, but it was the Moore input in the Med's big one that placed her firmly ahead of other highly fancied boats. It was a challenging race with many wind fluctuations and when it became clear that Lucky's time wasn't going to be bettered, Erhart piled on the praise for his navigator's tactical calls.

"This was the most interesting race I've ever done and I've done a lot... it's unbelievable when you see the true, spewing volcano of Stromboli... coloured smoke and red lava -- you don't get that in Chicago," he said.

"It was a very, very challenging race. We used every sail in the boat and thankfully we'd great navigation from Ian. Those crucial calls of his saved us hours and hours and as the winning margin was 25 minutes, those call were pure genius."

In terms of line honours, the new Slovenian Super-Maxi Esimit Europa 2 outsailed Mike Slade's 110ft Leopard to be first finisher, while the defending title-holder, Andy Soreano's Mills 68 Alegre, was in the frame but had to be content with second in class and eighth overall in the fleet of 78 starters.

The winds were such that some boats were left for dead while others just kept going and getting better. Thus, second overall went to the Maltese-owned J/122 Artie (Lee Satariano and Christian Ripard) with another local boat, Andrew Calascione's J/133 Jaru, in third. But other boats in the 40ft-size bracket were out of the hunt. Both the all-Irish X41 Legally Blonde (Paul Egan and Cathal Drohan) and the 'half-Irish' Grand Soleil 40 Aziza, with Barry Hurley and his team aboard, were among 15 retirees.

Irish designer Mark Mills, meanwhile, having notched the Middle Sea Race on his scorepost in 2009 with Alegre's overall victory, was focusing his attention on Hong Kong where his Summit 40 design (originally the King 40 with Eamon Rohan's Blondie the prototype) has taken off in a big way, and they set the pace in the China Coast Regatta. Racing in medium to strong breezes over six days, Blondie ran away with Class B with five firsts and a second. For Europe, new owners have signed up for the Mills 33 cruiser-racer being built in Turkey, the MAT 1010, and two British owners are top of the buyers' list with campaigns taking shape for next year.

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