Sailing Yacht Fidanzata, a Shipman 50ft, is a berth holder at Grand Harbour Marina, and owned and skippered by Dr Walther Jungwirth. Dr Walther is not only a renowned plastic surgeon from Austria but a keen yachtsman.
It has been Dr Walther’s dream to participate in the Rolex Middle Sea Race on his yacht along with 9 other Austrian friends and one French friend from Grenoble. He made this dream a reality this year- “the ultimate race crew challenge among friends”.
“The spirit of the crew was exceptional” says Dr Walther, especially when put to compete against such harsh weather conditions that normally only race rock stars such as Rambler, Momo, CQS & Hugo Boss are able to handle.
The 38th Edition of this 606 nautical mile offshore started quite peacefully on Saturday 21st October at 11am as the 104 participating yachts sped out of the Grand Harbour Marina, Malta. The yachts enjoyed the sail anti-clockwise up the east coast of Sicily through the Messina Straits.
A picture-perfect moment as the wind dies at sunset, and the fleet come through the Aeolian Islands round by Stromboli. Then suddenly the wind rises, bang on the nose with waves as high as 6 to 8 metres and one Fidanzata crew even witnessed a 12 metre wave – an unforgettable moment, the mystic peak of Stromboli erupting while bashing through colossal waves.
The weather through the islands became unbearable especially around Lipari, where winds were extremely strong. At that moment, the crew took the decision to stop in Palermo overnight so that some damage could be fixed, and they could rest and resume their spirits. With a little mobile phone signal and upon receiving a number of heart-warming text messages from family and friends, courage was restored and a decision to keep going was immediately implemented, even though several boats had given up and turned back at this stage.
A high-speed sail towards Pantelleria was met by much traffic and cargo ships which forced the crew of Fidanzata to change course.
One cargo ship even hooted their horn playing the Mozart anthem. “Near Lampedusa there was a fan that came out to meet the participants applauding which was a great boost!” said one of the Fidanzata crew.
With only 96 miles to Valletta, the last leg felt like a match race. Fidanzata passed a Russian boat “the catch of the day!” One crew member confirms this was all down to the technique from Rudy, the Twice world champion in the YNGLING class.
A successful race and once-in a life-time experience was dutifully completed by Dr. Walther and crew onboard, with Dr. Walther commenting: “The Rolex Middle Sea Race was unbelievable, so much more than expected. Definitely a great test on each and every crewmember’s will power – an experience that will remain with us forever!”
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