Category Archives: Grand Harbour

Malta Events – Rolex Middle Sea Race

The Rolex Middle Sea Race is taking place on the 20th October 2012 and one should not miss the opportunity to make their way down to Malta’s Grand Harbour to witness the start from any of Valletta’s fortifications. This race is a sight worth viewing.
This exceptional race is a highly rated offshore classic and a spectacular event hosting a record of 78 boats in recent years thanks to its Organising Committee who have managed to bring Rolex on board as the title sponsor. This year, in 2012, the Royal Malta Yacht Club is organising the 33rd Edition of this race with 70 participants.
The Middle Sea Race began as the result of sporting rivalry between great friends, Paul and Jimmy who competitively raced in Malta in the early sixties. Paul and Jimmy, together with a mutual friend Alan Green, set out to map a course designated to offer an exciting and unique race. The resulting course was so inspirational that it is the same used today.
The race is considered to be a true challenge to skippers and crews who have to be at their very best to cope with the often changeable and demanding conditions that they face during the race. The race is blessed with unsurpassed scenery, taking competitors close to a number of islands, which form marks of the course. This magnificent race has been recognised all over the world including many prestigious figures such as Ted Turner, CEO of Turner Communications (CNN), who has written that the Middle Sea Race “must be the most beautiful race course in the world. What other event has an active volcano as a mark of the course?”
The race begins in Malta and heads for the Straits of Messina before circumnavigating Sicily. The course then goes on to take the racers past the breathtaking islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa before returning to Malta and features Stromboli’s active volcano.

If you wish to stay informed of events taking place in and around Malta check out our Malta events page.

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Maltese Traditions – The History of the Regatta

The 8th September is known as Victory Day in Malta. It’s a catch-all day because this particular public holiday has several roots, not one clear-cut raison d’etre for celebration: it marks the end of the Great Siege of Malta in 1565 and the end of French occupation on Malta in 1800, as well as the armistice of the Fascist regime in Italy in 1943, which saw the close of the Italian bombardment of the Maltese Islands.
Every nation has its hour of glory in battle. The Regatta is held on September 8th in Grand Harbour to celebrate Malta’s victories during the Great Siege of 1565 and the Second World War. The magnificent Fort St Angelo provides an imposing backdrop to the sleek and colourful Maltese boats. Band marches, water-carnival, boat races and display of colourful fireworks are the main features attracting large crowds to the capital city, Valletta, and the Grand Harbour.

Rowing teams from the cities bordering Grand Harbour such as Valletta, Vittoriosa, Senglea, Kalkara, Cospicua, Marsaxlokk and Marsa, participate in a number of very exciting races, marked by extreme rivalry between participating teams and their respective supporters. For weeks on end, the competitors prepare for the races with fanatic zeal and rivalry. In the afternoon of Regatta day thousands of people crowd the waterfront and the surrounding bastions and craft of every description converge to the Grand Harbour to watch the races.
The first 3 winners in each race are awarded prizes and the club with the highest overall points wins the Aggregate Shield. Each year the different regatta clubs do their best to win the shield, which is strongly contested.
The Regatta is a great fun event and a source of great local pride. If you’re in Malta on the 8th of September make sure you don’t miss attending!

If you would like information about things to do in Malta during your holidays, the dedicated team at one of the leading Malta Hotels are always ready to help you. So for a pleasant holiday in Malta stay at a five star hotel close to Valletta.

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Feasts in Malta – The Santa Marija Convoy

The Feast of Santa Marija is celebrated on the 15th of August, and for the Maltese population this religious holiday bears a very deep, historical significance. Santa Marija is the perfect day for you if you love festas, food, colour and joyous noise all meshed up in a magnificent display of fireworks and revelry. Santa Marija is however also celebrated solemnly and with gusto in the following localities whose parishes honour her: Attard, Mosta, Mqabba, Qrendi, Gudja, Ghaxaq, and Victoria, Gozo.
Maltese History – the story of Santa Marija
During World War II, the Maltese population was saved from starvation and provided with enough supplies to sustain the islands thanks to a food convoy that arrived during the week of the feast day. This convoy’s arrival is seen by many to have been a big turning point of the war in the Mediterranean as otherwise the Maltese would have had no alternative but to surrender.
In August 1942, Operation Pedestal was mounted from the United Kingdom with the aim to relieve Malta. The convoy was intercepted by the Axis who deployed 20 submarines, 19 motor torpedo boats and over 850 aircraft. Hence they faced a gruelling five-day ordeal which saw nine out of fourteen merchant ships succumbing to the relentless round-the-clock attacks.
Four of the ships that survived reached Malta on the 13th and 14th of August. However there was no sign of the sturdy tanker Ohio, which was loaded with vital oil, fuel and kerosene supplies without which Malta could not hope to survive. The tanker had been singled out from the start and faced ferocious attacks and was lying crippled some kilometres off Malta. The ship had been torpedoed and holed, a series of fires were started and controlled, her boilers blew up and her engines failed; twice abandoned and twice rebounded- the tanker would not sink- as if aware that Malta’s survival depended on her!
On August 15th 1942 on the feast of Santa Marija, the Ohio – towed by two destroyers, Ledbury and Penn, and one minesweeper, Rye- entered the Grand Harbour. She discharged her cargo and no sooner were the 10,000 tons of precious fuel oil and kerosene extracted from her mangled hull, the Ohio sank and rested on the bottom. This epic convoy is recorded in Malta’s National War Museum where many items are on display, which include photographs of the fourteen ships; a graphic plan showing the route by the convoy and the locations of where the ships were sunk; the helm and nameboard of ‘Ohio’ amongst many other fascinating historical artefacts.
For more information on how to get to the National War Museum or about Malta Events during your holidays please speak to Our Transport Desk.
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