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Rolex Middle Sea Race: to finish first, first you must finish

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Overnight the battle for multihull line honours at the 2016 the Rolex Middle Sea Race took an extraordinary twist. At about 20:30 CET on Sunday 23 October, Lloyd Thornburg's MOD70 Phaedo 3 rounded Pantelleria and was 11 miles ahead of their rival Giovanni Soldini's MOD70 Maserati. The American multihull looked firmly on course to repeat last year’s success and in doing so set a new course record. In early hours of this morning, Monday 24 October, their assault began to unravel.
After passing Pantelleria, Phaedo3 immediately tacked to the east and most of those following the race tracker ( assumed that the upwind conditions in the race area meant the trimaran needed to open its angle of attack. Phaedo3 made another couple of tacks before continuing its southerly track, in theory towards Lampedusa the next mark on the course.
On reaching the island of Linosa, some 24 miles North West of Lampedusa, Phaedo3 surprisingly tacked north east.  In the absence of news from the boat, it would be another 40 miles and around 3 hours before it became apparent that things were not going according to plan. At around 0500 CEST Phaedo undertook a 180 degree turn to the southwest retracing her track and heading to Lampedusa.
Meantime the previously chasing Maserati rounded Lampedusa just before dawn and instead of a deficit found herself basking in a 65-mile lead. Phaedo3 eventually passed the most southerly mark of the course some four hours behind Maserati.
Co-skipper Brian Thompson from onboard Phaedo3 offered little insight into the reason behind the drama, merely confirming there had been a navigation error: “Last night we scored an ‘own goal’. We have rectified our mistake and are carrying on to the finish.”
Despite the events of last night, the current Rolex Middle Sea Race Multihull Record of 2 days 11 hours 29 minutes and 41 seconds, set by Lloyd Thornburg's MOD70 Phaedo3 in last year's race, remains under threat. Both Maserati and Phaedo3 are expected to finish well inside that time. The first to finish will almost certainly be the new record holder. But, first, one of them has to finish.
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