Preperations for the Rolex Middle Sea Race on the GasanMamo Comanche Raider II are right on track. As the 609 nautical mile race is likely to throw all kinds of weather conditions at both the crew and boat, careful checking and maintenance is being carried out before the race.
“We want to do well, so we are making sure that we plan ahead as much as we can,” said Jonas Diamantino, skipper of the Comanche Raider II. “Since we have already taken part in 11 races, 10 of which have been sponsored by GasanMamo, we all know that preparations are key. Everyone needs to be in good physical and mental shape. One could imagine that after all this work nothing could go wrong, however, as the boat, the sails, the ropes and the fittings are going to be subjected to high loads of stress for more than 4 consecutive days any number of things could still go wrong. It is for these reasons that we take all the pre-race preparations so seriously.
Safety equipment, such as life rafts and fire extinguishers on board the GasanMamo Comanche Raider II are being thoroughly checked and serviced , along with the Eiperb, which when activated sends a distress signal and position information via satellite for rescue.. Lifejackets and harnesses are also checked and serviced if necessary. The crew is currently installing Jack stays for the harnesses and checking that the flares, all the navigation systems and the VHF work properly. They are currently inspecting and checking the rudder and the bearings, replacing any rope that shows unacceptable signs of wear and tear and checking and replacing deck fittings that do not function properly. In order to reduce drag during the race, the mast and shrouds are also being thoroughly washed and polished.
The boat has also been taken out of the water to make any necessary repairs needed below the water line. The keel fairing has been checked and repaired from any damages and a general inspection of the hull and keel have been done in order to identify any areas showing signs of stress that need attention. Depending on the weather conditions, the boat will carry 11 sails which are thoroughly checked for damage and repaired in preparation for the race. Two new sails have been bought for improved performance and more than 100 freeze dried meals have been ordered. The GasanMamo Comanche Raider II has also been stocked with bottled water for drinking and meal preparation, energy snack foods, fruit and a small number of energy drinks.
“One of the most important preparations ahead of the race is our fitness,” said Co-Skipper Ramon Sant Hill, one of the crew on board the GasanMamo Commanche Raider II. “Over the last couple of months we have been doing a lot of physical training. Many, will be surprised that the body is subjected to quite a beating especially in heavier conditions. Two weeks before the race, we will also be reducing our sleeping time in order to train our mind on how to deal with sleep deprivation. Crews on most boats will be lucky to get 4 hours of sleep a day, and for those who are not well prepared, the shock to the system is quite debilitating. Any crew member that is badly affected by sleep deprivation will become a liability. Therefore we take our mental and physical fitness very seriously prior and during the race”
The Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on Saturday 20 October, the course is 609 nautical miles long and is sailed anti-clockwise. Starting from the Grand Harbour, Valletta, beneath Fort St Angelo and the Saluting Battery in Valletta, the fleet will head north along the eastern coasts of Sicily up towards the Straits of Messina. Once through the Straits, the course leads north to the Aeolian Islands and the active volcano of Stromboli where the yachts turn South west to the Egadi Islands. Passing between Marettimo and Favignana the fleet heads south towards the island of Pantelleria and then Lampedusa leaving both islands to port. The fleet then turns northeast on the final leg towards the South Comino Channel and the finish at Marsamxett Harbour. En route the crews take in an amazing diversity of landscape and sea conditions, all of which combine to create the attraction and challenge of the race.