In Malta, the offshore yacht racing event of the year - and for the first time, part of the Mediterranean Championships - the 1975 Middle Sea Race, is under way.
GV & SV Yachts at quayside preparing for race (3 shots)
SV Yacht Benbow with crew members (2 shots)
SV Female crew member on deck
SV Yacht Valentina preparing for race
SV Final preparations (3 shots)
SV Yachts leaving harbour to join others at start (2 shots)
SV Start gun firing
SV PAN Race under way (yachts leaving harbour 2 shots)
SV Yachts at sea (3 shots)
SV Iorana under sail
GV Sagittario PAN TO others during race
Initials BJB/0123 BJB/0145
SPORT: YACHT RACING
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: In Malta, the offshore yacht racing event of the year - and for the first time, part of the Mediterranean Championships - the 1975 Middle Sea Race, is under way.
With 24 yachts participating, the race got off in good sailing conditions from Fort Manoel on the tiny Mediterranean island. Because of its inclusion in the Championship series, the race has been modified to allow yachts from all over the Mediterranean to complete.
On Saturday (31 May), the 24 beautiful boats, with their expert crews, sailed out on their 615-mile journey around the Mediterranean Islands to Sicily and return.
Malta is perhaps the perfect place for such a race to begin - the island has been a haven to sailors from the times of Ulysses, and the race must surely be a modern-day yachtsman's Odyssey.
It will be at least two days before the Mediterranean International Offshore Racing Committee will know even the progress of the race, and four of five days before the holder of the best corrected time will be seen sailing across the finish line.
SYNOPSIS: Malta, the tiny, sunbathed Mediterranean island that sailors and their ships have sought out for centuries, from the time of Ulysses to this twentieth century. Now it's host to a new kind of Odyssey for modern-day sailors... the six-hundred-and-fifteen-mile Middle Sea Yacht race.
For Malta, this is the offshore yacht racing event of the year. But this time it carries special significance. For the first time the Middle Sea race is part of the Mediterranean Championship series. It's been modified to allow yachts--men--and women--from all over the Mediterranean to complete.
On Saturday, in good racing conditions twenty-four yachts assembled at the start of their long journey, which will take them over an exacting course. The race record is eighty six hours, forty-six minutes, and most competitors aim to complete the course in under one hundred hours.
All flags down and the race is under way. The yachts are divided into five classes, starting the race at fifteen-minute intervals, with the smaller yachts first.
They are competing for seven major trophies, including the Grand Prix of the Best Corrected Time. Then there's the second best time, the fastest elapsed time and other prizes covering the best yachts of clubs and countries.
With good sailing conditions forecasting in the area, and so far no sign of the gale-force winds which have stricken previous Middle Sea races, the going should be fast--and exciting. But it will be at least two days before the organisers know how the race is progressing, and four or even five days before the results are known.