by Louay Habib
The Royal Malta Yacht Club was one of the first yacht clubs to embrace IRC, and Commodore Georges Bonello Dupuis has been the driving force behind the club's rise in membership and international status. The 2009 Rolex Middle Sea Race was one of the most exciting in the history of the race, but behind the scenes George and his dedicated team of volunteers were not only running the event but getting to grips with moving their Clubhouse the week before.
Georges took half an hour a way from his busy schedule to talk to Louay Habib about the Club and what it is trying to achieve.
"About ten years ago, at the beginning of my term as Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club, we made a decision to race under IRC. The Royal Malta Yacht Club has a long history with the Royal Ocean Racing Club, the Rolex Middle Sea Race is 41 years testimony of that. Personally, I believe IRC is a good rule because it enables people to go racing without making huge modifications to their boats, and it is a safe and simple rule. I am also very much in favour of the IRC Congress; it keeps us informed and we were represented at the recent meeting in Paris by Godwin Zammit. The yacht club has a voice and IRC will listen to us.
We have a full calendar of events at the RMYC, ranging from round the cans racing to round Malta and Gozo races. Some of the most popular racing in Malta is double and triple handed.
Besides the annual Rolex Middle Sea Race, the most popular race is the Malta to Marzamemi race in Sicily. The race often attracts over 60 boats and we have people joining the yacht club just to do this race. It is a 60 mile race but the large flotilla gives a feeling of security, especially to people racing for the first time. It's popular because people enjoy it; a fun weekend away. The race starts on the Friday of the first May Bank holiday and the following day is a layday where we organize a lunch for up to 300 people, and after spending a day or two in Sicily we do a return race to Malta. We also have a 120 mile race between Malta and Siracusa which is very popular and we have our first race, next year, to the brand new marina at Ragusa, the southern most tip of Sicily.
The Royal Malta Yacht Club has about 470 members but many of them are not actively racing, we get about 50 boats for most of the events, except the Rolex Middle Sea Race where the numbers are swelled by foreign visitors. We would love to have more boats racing and that is one of the main reasons we moved the clubhouse next to Ta'Xbiex (pronounced tadge-beach). It is a major marina and rather than wait for them to come to us, we have gone to them. I hope the club appeals to these boat owners socially and once they find out what the club is all about that they will start racing.
The new clubhouse is very modern and we have excellent facilities including a conference room, extensive bar and restaurant and outside terrace, and we are going to have a 750 metre terrace, two pontoons for 65 boats, a gym, locker room and showers. We hope that all this will attract more people to the Royal Malta Yacht Club!