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Malta, Yachts, Rolex and Urchins (to eat)

Sareda Dirir enjoys just about everything on this tiny but energetic island

Published on October 6th 2010.

Malta, Yachts, Rolex and Urchins (to eat)

Take a stroll down to Valletta’s magnificent Grand Harbour and any one of the deck-shoe- clad feet that pass you by could belong to an insouciant billionaire.

A great place for lunch is the Riviera della Marina Restaurant at Vittoriosa Waterfront. A wonderful dish to try is Sea Urchins, scooped out raw and cooked through by a bed of hot buttery pasta

Devoid of the flashiness of St Tropez or the ‘nouveau-bling’ of Cannes, the island plays host to a sparkling jet-set scene that is extravagant yet discrete.

Late season is a time for many local festivals and events and perhaps the most stylish of all is the Rolex Middle Sea Yacht Race- now in its 31st year.

The jovial Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club, Georges Bonello Du Puis, has been instrumental in raising the race’s profile and attracting both sponsors and international competitors: “The Rolex Middle Sea Race is now one of the greatest races in the yachting season. The route is just spectacular...it passes The Straits of Sardinia and heads down towards Tunisia. Mount Etna at night is just incredible. Even the start of the race- at the Bastion Walls with the cannons blasting- is fantastic to see….People just love to come back”

Spectators from across the world line the city walls to cheer their country on

The blast of ancient cannons signals the beginning of this epic race

Forty-seven year old Michael Davidson works as a financial advisor in Manchester. He returns annually to watch the race.

“People don’t realise what a fantastic spectator sport sailing is. My wife and I specially book our holidays to coincide with the Rolex Regatta. We meet people from all over the world and we just love sitting with a chilled wine at the harbour bar, cheering our UK crews on.’

As might be imagined, Rolex’s involvement brings with it a certain sparkling style.Lavish crew parties are held under the sixteenth century ramparts of the harbour, celebrating the start and finish of the race.

One of the many hidden corners of Malta

At one of these crew parties I chat to Lorenzo Bonfili, an Italian who is on-board the Yes Achab – a Jeppeson X-46 from Rome. Like most of the sailors here he displays a fearlessness that makes light of the dangers of the route: “I don’t feel scared, for us it is natural. We are trained and we all have our jobs to do. The one thing that we cannot guess is the weather-we just have to hope and pray that the sea is kind to us.”

Malta’s history is a fascinating one, occupied over time by numerous nations. As a result, is architecture is a dazzling mix of styles, that mesh together into a distinctive whole.

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