A Great Adventure: being technical sponsor for Michele Zambelli and his Illumia 12 in the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

We recently eagerly threw all our considerable resources behind certifying a Class 9.50 Illumia 12 in a race against time.

We only had a few days in which to certify the quality of the “Tenace” boat, designed by Sam Manuard and masterfully built by Alessandro Bruno, in time for it to participate in one of the world’s most challenging offshore races.  

In this case, together with the owner and the skipper Michele Zambelli, we took the decision to certify the Illumia 12 using a post-construction procedure, i.e. CE marking of a vessel already in operation. Within this assessment framework we were able to verify the boat’s conformity to EU basic safety standards by collating the relevant documentation and carrying out the necessary tests.

We were so enthusiastic about the Illumia 12 project that we also offered our services as technical sponsors – an offer that was gladly accepted by the “Tenace” team.

Now the Illumia 12 is free to crest the waves, its first outing has been to Malta to participate in the historic Rolex Middle Sea Race. The race, which began in the 1960s as a face-off between several members of the Royal Malta Yacht Club, is considered by those in the know as one of the most strenuous and exhilarating offshore races in the Mediterranean – on a par with the Fastnet and the Sidney to Hobart.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race has always attracted the big international names in sailing, from Eric Tabarly to Sir Francis Chichester, and from Admiral Straulino to Cino Ricci and Raul Gardini, who all, by leaving their names in the Royal Malta Yacht Club roll of honour, helped to make this institution a legend in its lifetime.

Michele Zambelli and Luca Tosi, his partner in this initiative, are currently awaiting the cannon shot that traditionally signals the start of the race. Scheduled to begin at 11 am on Saturday 22nd of October 2016, the Rolex Middle Sea Race involves anti-clockwise circumnavigation of Sicily, with the Aeolian and Egadi islands, Pantelleria and Lampedusa to the left, arriving in Marsamxett Harbour after a total of 607 miles. At the time of writing, there were over 100 boats signed up.

“This will be my first time,” says Zambelli, “and my aim is to place well in the tables but even more important is to put the boat to the test.” Indeed, Illumia 12 has recently spent an intensive period in a boatyard in Rimini, where the skipper oversaw its improvement in view of the OSTAR race being held in May 2017.

Zambelli has, however, crewed alongside Tosi on the Illumia 12 before, although in the Italian 500×2 race rather than the Rolex Middle Sea.

“It isn’t just friendship with Luca,” Zambelli concludes, “but also great professional regard, so it was natural that we work together again for this race.”

“The respect and friendship are mutual,” comments Luca Tosi, “but I must add that this 9.50 is the most beautiful boat I’ve ever raced on. I’ve just come down from the Moro Challenge at Venice – an incredible experience in the past – and I have two years aboard the Maserati in my future “baggage”. But my present with the Illumia 12 is enthralling. We will no doubt have a great race, smiling as we give our all – a distinguishing feature aboard the Illumia.”

We’ll also be cheering our team from the heart in their race to victory – may the wind be strong at your backs guys!