Saturday, 31 January 2009


Ben Ainslie at the helm of TeamOrigin's boat, with Kiwi Mike Sanderson on the runners. Image copyright Ian Roman.

by Leslie Ryan

TEAMORIGIN vs. LUNA ROSSA was the 2nd race of the day, scheduled to start at 12pm. Near perfect conditions with about 10-12 knots, slightly overcast. The starting sequence got underway at 12.10pm and saw the two teams engage quickly and carry out quite a bit of ‘duelling’ ahead of the start gun. TEAMORIGIN headed for the line and crossed first but only 10m ahead of Luna Rossa.

They both headed off on starboard and stayed close together pretty much the whole way up the first beat. TEAMORIGIN extended to around 50m ahead but Luna Rossa stayed in close contact. Eventually by the first mark, TEAMORIGIN extended and rounded first with a nice set and a lead of 124m.

The first downwind leg saw TEAMORIGIN keep a close cover with three gybes apiece. Luna Rossa gained a good shift and closed up the gap to 45m by the leeward rounding gate.

The second beat saw the two teams split tacks with TEAMORIGIN taking the left side. About half way up the beat the two teams came together again and TEAMORIGIN managed to bounce Luna Rossa off two times. The gap did close up but then TEAMORIGIN pulled ahead nicely and by the 2nd windward mark they rounded with a lead of 240m.

The final downwind leg was pretty uneventful with TEAMORIGIN stretching out to a comfortable lead and took their first win of the regatta with a lead of 330m – nice work by Ben and the boys for day one.


VOR: Ericsson 3 to Undergo Repairs in Taiwan

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA), finishes third, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 09:04:00 GMT. Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Victoria Low

Ericsson 4 skipper Torben Grael went through his usual ritual yesterday after finishing Leg 4: thanking the crew, hugging loved ones and feeding the media frenzy.

Torben Grael in Qingdao. Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Then he made an atypical phone. On the receiving end was Magnus Olsson, the Leg 4 skipper of Ericsson 3, who was more than 500 miles away in Taiwan. Olsson is in Taiwan because Ericsson 3 had taken on a significant amount of water and was in peril of sinking.

“That was very heart-warming,” Olsson said today. “It cheered me and the crew up. It was really nice because it came from his heart. He thought we’d sailed a good leg, he thought we sailed well and safe. He felt for us. That was fantastic. Well done to Torben.”

Magnus Olsson, skipper of Ericsson 3. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Olsson and the Nordic crew turned towards Taiwan Monday night when they discovered the forward, watertight bulkhead flooded. The hull was leaking due to delamination on the underside of the hull.

After hauling the Volvo Open 70 and inspecting the damage, the team has decided to perform the repair work in Taiwan. The yacht is at a commercial dockyard in Keelung, but will be transported by barge down the coastline to another boatyard with the necessary facilities to affect the repair.

“A transport barge is due to arrive tomorrow and we’ll probably load the boat on Sunday,” said navigator Aksel Magdahl. “It’ll begin the journey down the coast either Sunday or Monday.”

A replacement panel for the bow is being built off-site and will be air-freighted to the yacht in Taiwan, where it’ll be scarfed and bonded into place.

The final plan for getting Ericsson 3 to Qingdao has yet to be finalized.

Ericsson Racing Team

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Bouwe Bekking Happy and Relieved

Bouwe Bekking. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Javier Sobrino

Bouwe Bekking and TELEFONICA BLUE crossed the finish line in Qingdao on Thursday morning, after 2500 horrendous nautical miles from Singapore. The Spanish boat won this Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/09, the second win in a row, reducing the gap with Ericsson 4 in the leaderboard. After enjoying the taste of this heroic win, having a good shower, a long desired dinner and a deserved sleep, Bouwe Bekking put himself in front of the computer to tell us about his feelings:

"HAPPY AND RELIEVED. These two words shot first through my head when we passed the finish line. HAPPY - it is a great win for our team and our sponsors. This leg will go in the history books as one of the most extreme ones in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race, so it's nice to put that one under our belt and, of course, we gain more points on the leaders. RELIEVED - because we came through this leg in one piece; some small repairs have to be done, but we will be easy ready for the next in-port race. This was the leg I always feared the most, since the day that we learned we had to go to Qingdao."

"Maybe some of you remember what I said during the press conference in Singapore, two days before the start of this leg. I quote: "if we were in the position of Ericsson 4 on the score board, I would have started, collect a point, then return to the harbour and ship my boat to Qingdao!!". And I have been right; see the damage list: 3 boats have broken down and we know for sure our team mates on the Black boat have retired, and I very much doubt if the Ericsson 3 and Delta Lloyd are not going to do the same, plus structural damage to other boats as well. It has been a carnage leg."

Bouwe Bekking waves to the crowds in Qingdao. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

"So, how was our arrival? We had a thick fog, 20 meters visibility and travelled with15 knots of boatspeed to the finish line. We arrived well before the Committee had expected us, and all the film crew missed us, so areal stealth finish, but the joy about this win was not less, a big smile appeared on my face. We did it again."

"The prizegiving was something special. A huge crowd had gathered, and the first thing I got presented when I hopped of the boat was a golden warrior helmet, a lance and cape. Not what we are used to, but this culture is different, and did not want to ruin their show, so played carnival for 15 minutes. They had created a mini Chinese wall of about 200 meters long, who were filled on both sides with people playing drums, impressive!! So, over the "wall" we walked towards the main stage. Unfortunately, the officials wanted me to walk next to the mayor of Qingdao, in front of my team, but I played along. Then, it seemed everybody had to do a speech, but we didn't bother, and enjoyed the view of the crowd."

"Once the prizegiving was over, we did our normal medical check up, doing our blood test, plus a weight and blood pressure check. Then, we went with the entire team (including shore team) to have few drinks down town. A great way to finish the day."

"This morning early up and had my 2nd medical done. I have tear in a muscle in my buttocks, and we are working around the clock to get me ready for the next leg, which means as well, that I will be staying in China. The temptation to go home is huge, but it will not help my recovery, and that has priority number one. Have to use Skype a lot so at least I can see my girls faces."

Bouwe Bekking

Volvo Ocean Race

New AC33 Class Rule

Artist’s impression of an ACC V 5.0 yacht (left) compared to an AC33 yacht at similar scale.

by Daphne Morgan Barnicoat

The AC33 has been designed through consultation between the Defender, the Challenger of Record and the 17 other entered teams and the process was headed by Tom Schnackenberg as the class rule and competition regulations consultant for AC Management. Designers and team managers from the 19 America’s Cup syndicates met regularly in Geneva, Switzerland, and Valencia, Spain, since the design process began in early November 2008.

This group agreed to develop a boat similar in cost to the America’s Cup Class Version 5.0 boat, but with a more exciting performance. The AC33 Rule evolved to a race yacht of 26m maximum length overall, with 5m of draft and a displacement of 17.5tonnes.

The sail plan area is greater than with the ACC Version 5.0 but without overlapping headsails, and as with the AC90 Rule contemplated in 2007, the boat has a bowsprit and the spinnaker area is limited only by sheeting constraints, not by measurement of dimensions. Given the lighter displacement, the AC33 will be more demanding to sail upwind, and will provide sparkling performance on the runs. Maximum beam is 4.8m, which will seem wide to people used to the appearance of the Version 5.0 yachts, where the last generation of yachts had a beam not much more than 3m in many cases.

Tom Schnackenberg, class rule and competition regulations consultant for ACM, on how the process worked and what to expect of the new class:
“We have had a very active 10 weeks pursuing this new AC33 Class Rule. The process was very similar to that of the initial AC90, and we deliberately used many of the clauses already developed for it 12 months ago. Because of our previous experience, this process seemed familiar and ran smoothly, in spite of the interruption caused by the Christmas holidays.

“The boat was originally suggested as one with overhangs, and girth restrictions, (a sort of mini J-class) but as different designers got into the act, it quickly evolved into a boat defined only by the length overall, weight, max beam and draft. This allows simple measurement processes for the hull itself, and each change seemed to make the boat go faster!

“As it turned out, the boat is slightly longer than the ACC Version 5.0 boats and several tonnes lighter, with similar sail area and righting moment. It promises to have similar upwind speed and to have sparkling downwind performance.

“We think it will be a boat which the America's Cup community will really enjoy; a worthy successor to all the wonderful boats that have gone before.”

America’s Cup Defender Alinghi’s principal designer Rolf Vrolijk on the new class:
“For designers it is always more exciting to be involved in a new class or with a new type of boat than the highly evolved existing class where we can only focus on very detailed optimisation . It is quite challenging because it means starting from zero and this is a class like nothing we have seen before so if you do your homework right, you would be competitive. Some teams might be very competitive in some corners of the rule, so that will be very interesting.”

John Cutler, technical director for the Challenger of Record, Desafío Español, on how the new class can level the playing field:
“It is a clean sheet of paper and therefore everybody has a good opportunity to come up with and design a fast boat or possibly the fastest boat, so we think that this is a good opportunity for all challengers and it will work well for Desafío Español.”

Andy Claughton, design team coordinator for TeamOrigin, the British challenger, says:
“Creating the new AC33 Class Rule has been a terrific combined effort from Alinghi and the challengers. The vision of the boat was clearly established; it had to be fast, up to date and challenging to sail, whilst not being prohibitively expensive to build and campaign.

The rule development was done at a series of round the table meetings chaired by Tom Schnackenberg who brought all his experience to bear in guiding the writing of the rule text.

"All the challengers were able to make their voice heard, and the experienced members of the group have worked towards a rule that has many fewer constraints than the old Version 5.0 boats.”


LVPS: Emirates Team New Zealand Wins First Race

Emirates Team New Zealand leads Damiani Italia Challenge. Image copyright Chris Cameron/Emirates Team New Zealand.

by Warren Douglas

Racing got underway in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series on 30th January.

The south-west breeze of 12-16 knots was perfect for racing and it came in exactly as forecast. But it was not an easy day for strategists and tactictians.

Afterguards had to deal with some shifts in direction and an incoming tide that at times combined to destroy comfortable leads in very short space of time.

Four races were held today. The teams are divided into two pools of five; BMW Oracle Racing and Shosholoza each had byes.

Emirates Team New Zealand in its first race of the series beat Damiani Italia Challenge by 22 seconds. The race was sailed in BMW Oracle yachts.

Skipper Dean Barker says he always likes to get the first day of racing behind him. “You know you’re prepared but that comfortable race-day routine has not settled in and there are always things you can’t control.

“The two BMW Oracle boats are similar enough that it probably doesn’t matter which one you’re on. It’s still wasn’t like sailing our own boat... we had to adjust our style to suit the different characteristics

“It’s important to us to perform as well as we can all the way through the regatta and it’s good to finish the day with a win.”

Emirates Team New Zealand

LVPS: They're Racing on the Waitemata

Greek Challenge (Gavin Brady) clips Alinghi (Ed Baird) in the pre-start. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/Go4Image. All Rights Reserved.

by Louis Vuitton Pacific Series media

Race 1: Pataugas K-Challenge beat China Team - 1:02

The French team Pataugas K-Challenge won the opening match of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, defeating China Team in a shofty 10-12 knot southwesterly breeze. Under grey skies, K-Challenge made a strong start on prt at the pin end of the line. China Team made a late start on starboard at the committee boat end but skipper Ian Williams made big gains up the first weather leg and gained steadily to close up at the mark.

On-board Pataugas by K-Challenge. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/Go4Image. All Rights Reserved.

The lead was down to 40m as they rounded but something went wrong and the spinnaker pole broke. Despite the broken pole, Williams led as they came into the first leeward mark. The french made a better rounding while China Team incurred a penalty in an overlap situation. The chinese did well to finish just over one minute astern after taking their penalty.

Race 2: TEAMORIGIN beat Luna Rossa - 1:11

It was billed as the clash of the day, but the new crew of the British TEAMORIGIN syndicate was in total control from the start of its encounter with Italians Luna Rossa. With two Olympic gold medallists in the afterguard - Ben Ainslie at the helm, and Iain Percy calling tactics - TEAMORIGIN won the start and after a spirited tacking duel up the middle of the course, established a 22s lead around the first mark.

That lead was almost doubled on the run downwind, and with Luna Rossa desperate to bridge the gap, helmsman Pete Holmberg headed to the left side of the course looking for a lift. The Italian team managed to close to within 20m of the Brits, but Ainslie tacked smartly to claim the favoured port layline track to the top mark and TEAMORIGIN pulled away once more on the run to the finish. The first-up victory confirmed that the British crew will be a strong contender for this inaugural Louis Vuitton Pacific series.

Race 3: Emirates Team New Zealand beat Damiani Italia Challenge - 0:19

Sailing on home waters, Emirates Team New Zealand's skipper/helmsman Dean Barker led from start to finish in a good race against Damiani Italia Challenge. Francesco Bruni on the helm of the Italian boat started in Synch with the Kiwis with a safe leeward berth, only to see the home team boat inch slowly awat. It wasn't long before Bruni tacked onto port and took the stern of the New Zealand boat.

Bruni kept it close and was 22 seconds behind as they finished the first spinnaker run and he sailed a smarter second beat than Barker, closing the favoured left side and gaining in a left shift. Despite the Italian gains, Emirates Team New Zealand finished 150m ahead.

Race 4: Alinghi beat Greek Challenge - 2:02

Greek Challenge on the race track against Alinghi. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/Go4Image. All Rights Reserved.

The Greek Challenge made their mark, literally, in their maiden race at the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series against top seed Alinghi. Gavin Brady, the Kiwi skipper of the Greek boat, had no hesitation in testing his mettle against Ed Baird, Alinghi's skipper, and paid a heavy penalty. Jousting in the start box, the bow of the Greek boat hit the stern of Alinghi, damaging both boats in the clash and casting the feisty Brady one penalty point for "hard contact" even before he had crossed the start line.

Greek Challenge training. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/Go4Image. All Rights Reserved.

Unperturbed, Brady urged his Greek-Kiwi crew to carry on. They nicely manoeuvred themselves across the start ahead of Alinghi, claiming the coveted right side of the course. It was a good recovery by Brady and his brand new crew - many of whom have never sailed at this level before - and they led the Swiss team out towards the port layline. But as they tacked towards the top mark, Alinghi cast dirty air onto the Greeks and nudged ahead to lead by 16s around the mark. Their distinct experience advantage then kicked in, and Alinghi were never challenged again, finishing almost a kilometre ahead. The race umpires awarded the requisite one point to Alinghi for their victory and docked the Greek Challenge one point, leaving them in negative territory.

Louis Vuitton Pacific Series

LVPS: Pataugas by K-Challenge Wins Against China Team

Pataugas by K-Challenge and China Team in their first match. Image copyright Gilles Morelle.

by Stephanie Nadin

First day, first race, first point: the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series have started well this morning for the Pataugas by K-Challenge crew, who was sailing against the new China Team, with Ian Williams, current World Match Racing Champion, leading the team.

An important win for Sebastien Col, Skipper and Helmsman of Pataugas by K-Challenge, as he was competing for the first time on an ACC boat against his toughest opponent on the World Match Racing Tour, Sebastien being the runner up of the World Match Racing Tour.

Sébastien Col, Skipper and Helmsman of Pataugas by K-Challenge: “It is good to start the Series with a win, « a point is a point » as we say. We made a couple of little mistakes which could have cost us the match. But we did some good things too. Tomorrow we have a day off, so we´re going to work in the debriefings about all of that, so that we come back stronger the day after, trying to avoid those little mistakes.

"Changing boat everyday is not easy to manage, as there are lots of small differences, and we have to adapt ourselves to the deck set up, the boat ergonomics, the feelings, and the adjustments. We only had 10 minutes to train this morning before the start, instead of the usual 40 minutes, so it was very tensed in terms of preparation.

"I'm very happy about the spirit we have in the team, as we were behind at the start, but we managed to come back close, to take the lead and to finish one minute ahead, which shows that we have a certain psychological strength within the team. It is really important after Jean-Marie Dauris hand's injury yesterday, as it affected us (he´s OK and will be back on the boat in a few days. In the meantime we had to proceed with a replacement to reorganize some of the positions in order to add a pit assist). Coming back like we did and getting this win against the Chinese was really good.

"Speaking about Ian Williams, every match we race together for now is like a “mini final” of the world championships, something is building up between our two crews, and so I really hope that the emulation each time we race against each other will allow us to improve even faster.”

Rod Dawson, Tactician : "We had a little bit of a tough start, because we only had about a few minutes to prepare for the race (we didn't have the mainsail before). So we were not so organised at the start, but from where we started, we actually got back into the race and our plan was just to keep it close, and make some more gains all the way round the course. We got closer and closer to them, we put a lot of pressure on them, and we were one boat length from them at the top mark rounding. From there they made a little mistake that we jumped on top off, as they jibed too early. At the bottom mark they got a penalty. After that we sailed really smoothly. We were fast, we got some shifts, and we just extended away. Plus they still had a penalty. So we got the point, and we´re happy.

"We will come with about 25 points that we came out of that race with, we will work on those in the debriefings so that we can improve for the next day to get better. The atmosphere on board is really really good, even if we ran through a lot of pressure on board at the start with no preparation, we made a couple of little mistakes, but the guys made a great job together."

So the team will be off tomorrow as it has no race scheduled, but there will be some work on shore to prepare the next match, on Sunday 1st of February, against Damiani Italia Challenge.

Pataugas by K-Challenge

Shosholoza's Preparations for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series

South Africa’s Team Shosholoza practice racing in Auckland, New Zealand ahead of Fridays 30 January start of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series which has attracted 10 teams from nine countries with skippers and crew from the best of Americas Cup competition, the Olympics and the World Match Racing Tour. Image copyright Giuliano Luzzatto.

Shosholoza Ready for Battle Against the World's Best

by Di Meek

South Africa’s Team Shosholoza is among the line up of ten crack international teams representing the cream of the America’s Cup, the Olympics and the World Match Racing circuit ready to do battle when the inaugural Louis Vuitton Pacific Series starts in Auckland, New Zealand today. (Friday 30 January)

“I regret not being able to be there to help them in the fight but I am confident they will do their best to improve on our 7th place result we had in the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup in Valencia, Spain. It will be hard, but we can do,” said Shosholoza managing director Captain Salvatore Sarno in a phone interview from South Africa.

The series is the biggest match racing event in the Southern Hemisphere since the Louis Vuitton Cup in Auckland in 2003 and promises to rival both that and the 2007 Cup in intensity as all the big names in world yachting go head to head in the next two weeks.

Despite legal issues that have paralyzed the America’s Cup for almost two years the LV Pacific Series, organised by 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup winners Emirates Team New Zealand and supported by Louis Vuitton, is being lauded for finding a way to put sailors representing the pinnacle of the sport back on the water.

That current America’s Cup holders, the Swiss Team Alinghi and the American BMW Oracle Racing Team are both in Auckland for the regatta despite a court battle between the two teams relating to protocol for the next 33rd America’s Cup still being decided by the Supreme Court of New York, says it all.

“As sailors we all share the same desire to be back on the water again. This event has an Olympic village feel with a great spirit of friendly competition among the nations especially since we are all staying in the same hotels and sharing bases and boats,” said Shosholoza tactician Tommaso Chieffi, who was tactician for Oracle when they lost to Alinghi in the 2003 Louis Vuitton Cup final.

The line up of ten of the world’s top match racing skippers includes America's Cup and Louis Vuitton Cup winner Dean Barker of Emirates Team New Zealand, three times America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts for the USA’s BMW Oracle Racing and two time winner and current holder of the America’s Cup Brad Butterworth on Alinghi.

The world’s top ranked match racer Sebastien Col will skipper the French K-Challenge, Great Britain’s TEAMORIGIN has Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie (3 gold and a silver)at the helm while China Team has signed up two time World Match Racing Champion Ian Williams.

Other world match racing champions include Peter Holmberg on Italy’s Luna Rossa and Gavin Brady on the newly formed Greek Challenge while top Italian skipper Vasco Vascotto will lead the new Italian challenger Damiani Italia.

Ready to go in Auckland. South Africa’s Team Shosholoza leaves the dock for their last day of practice racing ahead of Fridays 30 January start of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in New Zealand. Image copyright Team Shosholoza.

“Every team is strong and well prepared. There are no weak teams. We are ready for the challenge,” said Paolo Cian, Team Shosholoza skipper and helmsman, after the team wrapped up a week of practice racing against the other teams today. Cian is ranked fourth in the world on the open ISAF match racing rankings.

The start of racing today (Friday) will see the teams competing in two pools of five teams each. Racing will be one-on-one in four yachts loaned specially for the event by Emirates Team New Zealand ( NZL 92 and NZL 84) and BMW Oracle Racing ( USA 87 and USA 98).

The format for the opening round robin means there will be four races a day while one team from each pool enjoys a bye. Team Shosholoza sits out the first day of racing today (Friday) in Pool B while BMW Oracle has a bye in Pool A.

The teams will then split into gold and silver fleets. Emirates Team New Zealand, in its role as host team, will advance directly to the final race series for the special Louis Vuitton Pacific Series trophy while the top remaining challengers compete in a ladder competition to decide the other finalist.

Racing will start on the Waitemata Harbour off North Head at 11:00 am and the four races will be sailed one after the other with only a few minutes between each race. The short windward-leeward races are expected to take less than an hour each in the forecast 10 to 15-knot southwest breeze.

Team Shosholoza

Friday, 30 January 2009

Panama Jack Racing Report on Leading the Warren Jones Regatta in Perth

Phil Robertson's Kiwi Panama Jack Racing team at the Warren Jones Regatta in Perth. Image copyright John Roberson.

by Garth Ellingham

Having completed both Round Robbins we have ended up on top of the table with 15 wins and 3 losses. We sailed exceptionally well today by winning 5 out of six races. The first was against Reuben Corbett when we put two penalties on him in the dying seconds of the pre-start when he tried to put his bow between our boat and the committe boat when there was no room. A little tap on our stern and alot of yelling from both teams ended with him coping two penalties. The next tough race was against Keith Swinton.

Once again we came out firing and got a penalty on him in the dial up. We split tacked off the line and then rounded the top mark right behind him. The rest of the race we stayed this way with us trailing nice and close as he still had a penalty to complete. We sailed the last downwind two boat lengths behind him until he slowed right down to try and attack us. This was a little too late for Keith as he ran out of runway and we crossed the finish line behind him but with him having to still take a penalty. Another great result beating the top ranked skipper.

Evan Walker was our next opponent and he turned out to be a tough one. We didn't quite get the start we wanted and didn't get the first cross. This proved to be crucial as we found no passing lanes, with him doing a good job of keeping a tight cover on us and stayed a few lengths ahead for the whole race. Disappointing but we were still happy.

We then raced Robert Gibbs in the last race with the winner of the race taking the top spot on the leader board. We had another fantastic pre start putting a solid two penalties on him and held our lead for the rest of the race. This means we qualify 1st after the double round robbin and have the tough job of selecting our opponent for the semi-finals tomorrow!!

The Team is wrapped and looking forward to the very tough final series tomorrow.

The crew for the Warren Jones Youth Regatta is:
Phil Robertson (Helm)
Garth Ellingham (Main)
Will Tiller (Pit)
James Williamson (Trim)
Brad Farrand (Bow)
Hayden Whitburn (Floater/Strategy)

Another big thanks to Stefan Goldwater of WIDEX and the RNZYS for all their support. It is much appreciated.

Panama Jack Racing

Warren Jones Regatta

Vendée Globe 2008-9: Jourdain Loses Keel Bulb in North Atlantic Whilst Lying 2nd

Roland Jourdain's Veolia Environnement. Image copyright Jean Marie Liot/DPPI/Vendée Globe.

It has been confirmed by Roland Jourdain’s team that Veolia Environnement, currently lying in second place in the Vendée Globe, has lost her keel bulb.

by Véronique Teurlay

The boat is being kept as stable as possible with the ballast in the bow and in the middle of with, the centre of effort of the sailplan kept as low as possible. It is still unknown exactly where the damage begins, as it may be the joint between the bulb and keel or higher on the keel blade.

For the moment it is out of the question to heel the boat over to see as this would risk causing the IMOCA Open 60 to capsize. It is also impossible for Jourdain to risk diving because of the sea state.

The first reaction was to continue to Les Sables d’Olonne, but it is understood that the skipper will not take any undue risk. For the moment he does not need to change course as the Azores are 600 miles ahead on his route. Until then, depending on the weather and sea state, everything will be done to ensure he can continue safely.

Veolia Environnement. Image copyright Jean Marie Liot/DPPI/Vendée Globe.

Bilou, contacted by his shore team this afternoon:

“I can’t explain how I didn’t capsize. When I tried to look under the boat, I couldn’t see anything… Normally, I should have seen something, but I shan’t be diving in these conditions, as there is quite a swell. On the other hand, I do know that if I hoist more sail, the boat heels over so there is definitely a problem with the keel. In the coming hours, I’m going to have to keep a close watch on the situation depending on the sea and weather to see how I can safely continue. I’ll do my utmost to get back to Les Sables unless the sea state does not allow me or it is simply too risky. I just need a helping hand from destiny and some normal weather to complete the race.”

Veolia Environnement as she was before losing her keel bulb. Image copyright Jean Marie Liot/DPPI/Vendée Globe.

Roland Jourdain has slowed to just under seven knots as he nurses Veolia Environnement towards the Azores with his damaged keel. He is now 888.5 miles behind Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) who has 855.4 miles to sail to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne.

Jourdain’s only shred of solace at the moment may be that Armel Le Cléac’h, the Jackal, is slowed by the Azores high pressure ridge. While Jourdain needs to consider his options, he will have been doing the maths, as will The Jackal.

Bilou’s lead at the moment, over the third boat, is equivalent to probably less than two average days racing.

Sunset in the North Atlantic Ocean. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Vendée Globe

VOR: Images of the Podium Finishers at End of Leg 4

Bouwe Bekking celebrates victory as Telefonica Blue crosses the finishing line of Leg 4 first in Qingdao, China. Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Telefonica Blue, skippered by Bouwe Bekking (NED), finishes first, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 07:00:25 GMT. Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Telefonica Blue, skippered by Bouwe Bekking (NED), finishes first, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 07:00:25 GMT. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Bouwe Bekking (NED). Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Telefonica Blue, skippered by Bouwe Bekking (NED) (pictured), finishes first, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 07:00:25 GMT. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Telefonica Blue, skippered by Bouwe Bekking (NED) (pictured), finishes first, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 07:00:25 GMT. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Casey Smith onboard PUMA Ocean Racing, with his local Mooloolaba Yacht Club flag from Queeensland, Australia. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

PUMA Ocean Racing, skippered by Ken Read (USA), finishes second, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 08:17:36 GMT. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

PUMA Ocean Racing, skippered by Ken Read (USA), finishes second, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 08:17:36 GMT. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

PUMA Ocean Racing, skippered by Ken Read (USA), finishes second, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 08:17:36 GMT. Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

PUMA Ocean Racing, skippered by Ken Read (USA), finishes second, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 08:17:36 GMT. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA), finishes third, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 09:04:00 GMT. Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) (pictured), finishes third, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 09:04:00 GMT. Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA), finishes third, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 09:04:00 GMT. Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

The Volvo Ocean race fleet are greeted by an amazing welcome from the Chinese people in Qingdao at the finish of leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Drums, fireworks and the Emperors walk of the wall by the skippers saw thousands turn out and watch. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

The Volvo Ocean race fleet are greeted by an amazing welcome from the Chinese people in Qingdao at the finish of leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Drums, fireworks and the Emperors walk of the wall by the skippers saw thousands turn out and watch. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Ericsson Racing Team Places Third into China

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) (pictured), finished third, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 09:04:00 GMT. Torben Grael brought Ericsson 4 alongside just under an hour after PUMA Ocean Racing, to claim six points for third place. Grael said: "This leg has been very hard on the boats, but our boat has taken it well and at least we got here, but you are never sure. The crew has been perfect." Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Victoria Low

Ericsson Racing Team’s Ericsson 4 retained it’s overall lead in the Volvo Ocean Race by concluding Leg 4 here today with a third place finish.

Skippered by Brazilian Torben Grael (Niterói), a five-time Olympic medalist, the International crew has totaled 45 points and leads the race by 3.5 points. Ericsson 4 completed the 2,500-nautical-mile leg that began in Singapore in 11 days, 4 hours and 4 minutes.

Dockside talk in chilly Qingdao centered on how relieved the crew was to finish the leg on the podium and, more importantly, with the boat intact. When asked to describe the leg in one word, the responses were “a chore” and “bouncy” and “painful.”

“Our one goal was to arrive here in good shape. We got a podium position and we’re still leading the race. I’m a happy man,” said Grael, who finished third in the 2005-’06 Volvo Ocean Race.

The pre-leg talk in the tropical climes of Singapore discussed the potential for difficult conditions on the leg. With a short layover of eight days until the Qingdao In-Port Race (scheduled Feb. 7), there’s scant time to carryout extensive repairs.

Difficult conditions are an understatement. The leg was on the wind until the last 24 hours, when it went to the beam. For five days including last weekend, the crew was sailing upwind in gale-force conditions and steep seas. It forced a different style of sailing than Ericsson 4 is used to.

Torben Grael, after finishing leg 4. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

“It’s the lives of the crew and the whole program as well,” Grael said. “If you destroy the boat on this leg, you risk the whole program. It was very important to arrive in good shape.”

Watch captain Brad Jackson estimates they sailed anywhere between 60 and 70 percent of maximum efficiency at times.

“We played it very conservative and that was the plan, to make sure we got here,” said Jackson. “We didn’t put ourselves in position to have a shot at winning the leg. We were very cautious and conservative, that made it quite painful as well.”

Ericsson 4 never played it safer as when it was huddled under the lee shore of the northern Philippines with just a storm jib set and two men on deck for nearly 12 hours waiting for the wind to abate so it could cross Luzon Strait, the body of water between Taiwan and the Philippines.

“Three boats left Luzon before us, and only one finished,” said Grael. “It was a wise decision to spend the night in Luzon.”

The constant pounding took a toll on the yacht. Ericsson 4 lost a foredeck pad eye and parts of the deck, its wind instruments and nearly blew out its mainsail. The shore crew is likely to find other nicks and bruises upon its examination of the yacht.

“We’re pretty happy, the boat went well,” said bowman Phil “Blood” Jameson. “We didn’t push it as hard as maybe we should have for the result. But she’s in one piece and no one’s injured. Everyone’s in good spirits.”

Jameson set a personal record for somersaults, twice going head over heels within one hour while belowdecks. “I also got ejected from my bunk once. It’s never nice waking up in mid-air,” said the first-time Volvo participant.

“Going upwind in a lot of wind is never fun,” Jameson continued. “On deck you have some control. But belowdecks, you’re waiting for a bang that can split the boat in half or throw the mast out. You have to have a lot of trust in the guys on deck. Some of it was bad, but 24 hours ago we had some champagne sailing. It was beautiful.”

The crew features navigator Jules Salter (Cowes, England), watch captains Stu Bannatyne and Jackson (both Auckland, New Zealand), trimmers/helmsmen Horácio Carabelli (Florianópolis, Brazil), Tony Mutter (Auckland, New Zealand), João Signorini (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), pitman David Endean (Auckland, New Zealand), bowmen Ryan Godfrey (Adelaide, Australia) and Jameson (Auckland, New Zealand), and media crewman Guy Salter (Titchfield, England).

Ericsson Racing Team

VOR: One Step at a Time for Green Dragon

Navigator Ian Moore, onboard Green Dragon, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Volvo Ocean Race media

With the first three boats safely tied up in Qingdao after finishing earlier today, the only team still at sea is Ian Walker’s Green Dragon.

The damaged Dragon has made it across to mainland China, by just taking it ‘one step at a time’, reminiscent of the way in which ‘80’s rockstar Simon Le Bon’s crew nursed the damaged yacht Drum, when they were limping towards Cape Town in the1985 Whitbread, the forerunner today’s Volvo Race. American skipper, Skip Novak later said that they only made it safely to Cape Town by taking it, ‘one watch at a time’, a phrase which later became the title of Novak’s book on Drum’s adventures in the race.

The Green Dragon team has strengthened their initial repair by gluing and bolting sail battens to the bulkhead, which has worked well. The team has 334 nm to run to the finish and an assured fourth position on this leg and five leg points are waiting for them in China.

Skipper Ian Walker onboard Green Dragon, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

Ian Walker is expecting the breeze not to exceed 20 knots to the finish. “It looks pretty favourable – upwind – but favourable,” he explained. He added, “It was a good feeling for us to see the first bit of China this morning. We all got on deck – it was a significant moment for us.”

Meanwhile, in Keelung City, Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE) has been hauled out of the water and inspection has begun on the damage sustained earlier in the week, when water was discovered in the forward, watertight compartment. The boat was leaking through a crack in the hull. Coupled with the great water pressure from slamming into six-metre waves, the outer and inner carbon-fibre skins of the hull became delaminated.

"We are not sure of the cause of the damage and don't want to speculate on it at this time,” said Richard Brisius, Ericsson Racing Team’ general manager.

"But we are sure that it's possible to repair. We are considering having a new panel built off site, which will be fitted to the yacht in either Taiwan or China. We don't know where yet," Brisius said.

The affected area of damage is on the port, underside of the hull, about 200 millimetres off centreline. There is a delaminated area between three and four metres long, and the affected area is, at the most, about one and a half metres wide. The shore crew has taken samples from other areas of the bow to inspect for further delamination.

A replacement panel is planned to be built in Italy. Pieces of Nomex foam core, left over from the original build of the Ericsson yachts, are being sent from the team's boatyard in Kista, Sweden.

"Once we have the boat prepared to receive the new panel and the new panel is there, scarfing and bonding the panel in place is the easiest part of project," said Juan Kouyoumdjian, the yacht’s designer.

Andrew McLean onboard Green Dragon, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

The team is looking at options of carrying out the repair work in Taiwan, possibly shipping to the boat Qingdao - the leg finish port in China, or making a temporary repair and sailing the boat to Qingdao.

"We're starting to understand what we have to accomplish, now we need to determine where and how we will accomplish it best," said Brisius.

Two other boats have either retired (Telefónica Black/Fernando Echávarri/ESP) or suspended racing (Delta Lloyd/Roberto Bérmudez/ESP).

Volvo Ocean Race


Bouwe Bekking is at the helm. In front (l-r) are Gabriele Olivo (ITA), Xabier Fernandez (ESP), Tom Addis (AUS). Telefonica Blue, skippered by Bouwe Bekking (NED), finishes first, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 07:00:25 GMT. Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Volvo Ocean Race media

In a leg that has been full of drama, bravery and courage, Bouwe Bekking and his men racing Telefónica Blue have pulled off their second leg win in a row to take first place on the podium in Qingdao, China, after sailing immaculately.

PUMA (Ken Read/USA) finished in second place at 0817 (1617 local time).

Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA) took the third spot at 0904 GMT (1704 local time).

Telefónica Blue

Telefonica Blue, skippered by Bouwe Bekking (NED) (pictured), finishes first, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 07:00:25 GMT. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Shortly before crossing the finish in thick fog at 0700 GMT (1500 local time), after racing for 11 days, 2 hours and 26 seconds (11d:02h:00m:25s), Bekking said, “I feel far from comfortable. Even if it should go wrong, the guys should all feel like the moral winners of the leg, they sailed like champions.”

The eight points for the leg win, brings Telefónica Blue’s total score to 41.5 points, just 3.5 points behind race leader Ericsson 4.

Once clear of the finish, an exhausted Bekking talked about the leg that has taken its toll on most of the boats in the fleet.

“It was the hardest leg of the Volvo Ocean Race ever. It is just great to be here in one piece and we are in one piece.

“I am so happy with the team, they showed great seamanship. We have Olympic medallists and offshore sailors onboard and they just got on with it and came together.

“We hit something, you can see it on the bow, but we don’t know what it was. It has crushed a bit of the bow, but that is the only thing we have found. We have checked all the bulkheads, they seem to be fine, and we have no delamination, so I am very happy with that. We will be ready for the in-port race for sure.

“We just put keel in the middle and nursed the boat in the storm. I was downstairs at the time, so I kept shouting up to the crew to slow us down. If I had been on deck, I might have pushed harder, but being downstairs was better in the end.

“It was the craziest sailing I’ve done, but we are here at last. I am like an old seaman and I think that you need to stay away from land in storms, so that is what we did. When we were by Taiwan there was 30 – 35 knots of wind, but it was the sea state that was the problem, but the boat did a glamour job.”

Bekking had kept Telefónica Blue in the top three for the entire leg, but perhaps the turning point was navigator Simon Fisher/GBR made an offering of birthday Sangria to King Neptune on day three, in the hope that the King would keep watch as they headed out into the notorious Luzon Strait later in the leg.

The crew picked their way through the minefield of unmarked shoals and atolls in the lee of the Philippines, watching the depth sounder drop to just a few metres, but were still determined not to give an inch, knowing, as Simon Fisher had said, that to win this leg, taking the easy way round wasn’t really an option.

As the rest of the fleet headed for shelter on day six, 23 January, Bekking was preparing for the worst. “We are just enjoying the last day in paradise and then we go to hell,” he said. “The real race will start when the big breeze comes in and then, it will be very hard.”

While the rest of the fleet hung back, Bekking pressed on, out into the 200-mile Luzon Strait and gales topping out at 55 knots. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE) and Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA) watched Telefónica Blue’s progress from their chasing position in the shelter of Luzon Island, anxious to see how Bekking fared before following.

Bekking directed operations from the confines of his bunk, laid low with a damaged back. He paid tribute to his crew at time, saying: “They all worked as a great team in the last 36 hours. The only thing I could do was be awake and give my input and advice, which was, above all, ‘boys, keep it in one piece’.

The team survived another, even worse storm off the northeastern tip of Taiwan, and also collided with a submerged object, damaging the crash bow section of the boat.
However, Telefónica Blue emerged from the aftermath of carnage relatively unscathed, other than breaking their wind instruments, and stole a commanding lead, which they held to the end.


PUMA Ocean Racing, skippered by Ken Read (USA) (pictured), finishes second, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 08:17:36 GMT. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Kenny Read/USA, guided PUMA through the finish of Volvo Ocean Race leg four in Qingdao, China today at 0817 GMT (1617 local time) to claim second place after an unbelievable effort, which saw the team break their boom and drop anchor in the Philippines order to make repairs.

On arrival in Qingdao, PUMA’s skipper, Kenny Read said:
“Our crew really became a team on this leg. We have really found our legs. After our problems we came back with an unbelievable effort. We came together.

“There were many times when I was sat behind the computer, looking for safe havens. It was always at the back of my mind, if we needed to go to a safe place quickly.

“All of us have used storm sails, but none of us has had to do it three separate times on one leg. Even with that, we almost had too much sail area, but last night was the best night of sailing we had on the leg.”

PUMA’s navigator, Andrew Cape/AUS, a veteran of three Whitbread/Volvo Races, added:
“It was a not very pleasant course, but we had to do it. We threw the lead to survive and we came second in the end. It was nasty with lots of wind and big seas and there seemed to always be a rock in the way. It was the most difficult leg I have ever done."

Torben Grael brought Ericsson 4 alongside just under an hour later, to claim six points for third place. Grael said:
“This leg has been very hard on the boats, but our boat has taken it well and at least we got here, but you are never sure. The crew has been perfect.

“The weather has been better than expected, and the temperature only dropped in the last few hours, when it became very cold, so we had good wind all the way in.

“I think we all want to win, but we all wanted to get here in one piece. We had lots of trouble with fishing boats and nets, we had to back down three times and there were so many boats out there. But it is the way it goes, you win some you lose some. I feel bad for the other boats. I was in that position last race and I know how it feels. It is hard for the sailors.”

Leg Four Finishing Order Qingdao
1. Telefónica Blue/ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) 8 points
2. PUMA/USA (Ken Read/USA) 7 points
3. Ericsson 4/SWE (Torben Grael) 6 points

Overall Leaderboard (Provisional)
Ericsson 4: 45 (FINISHED)
Telefónica Blue: 41.5 (FINISHED)
Green Dragon: 22.5 (RACING)

Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR) is still racing, with 347 miles to go, and is anticipated to finish in fourth position on 31 January.

Teams that have suspended or retired from this leg will be assigned points by the race committee at a later date.

Ericsson 3: SUS
Delta Lloyd: SUS
Telefónica Black: DNF
Team Russia: DNS

Volvo Ocean Race

Warren Jones Regatta: Kiwi Phil Robertson and Panama Jack Racing Grab Top Spot

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's Phil Robertson and his Panama Jack Racing crew give it their all in the Warren Jones Youth Regatta. Image copyright John Roberson.

by John Roberson

Young Auckland skipper Phil Robertson grabbed the top spot on the leaderboard at the end of the round robin section of the Warren Jones International Youth Regatta, and with it the right to choose his opponent in the semi-finals.

His options are local skippers Keith Swinton and Robert Gibbs, or Sydneysider Evan Walker, who all made the cut.

Robertson’s number one spot comes partly as the reward for a strong day on the water, winning five of his six matches, and partly as the result of Keith Swinton’s constant brushes with the umpires.

Swinton had monopolised the top rung of the ladder for the first two days of the event, but just couldn’t stay out of trouble today, commenting when he came ashore, “we just pushed it a little bit too much at times, we just need to back off a little bit, we’re sailing the boat quick enough, I don’t think we really needed to push it that hard.”

When Swinton and Robertson faced each other on the starting line in the fourth round of the day, the local skipper collected a couple of penalties, and then compounded the problem when bowman Adam Martin lost his footing and went overboard during one of the penalty turns.

Robert Gibbs who represents the host club, the Royal Perth Yacht Club, also had a very strong day, equalling Robertson’s score of five wins and one loss, to put himself firmly in third place on the leaderboard.

Sydneysiders Evan Walker (CYCA) and Stuart Pollard (RSYS) battle it out on the Swan River in the Warren Jones International Youth Regatta. Image copyright John Roberson.

Evan Walker made the cut by half a point over rookie Kiwi sailor Reuben Corbett, with the Sydney skipper from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, getting better as the series progresses.

Walker won the Australian Match Racing Championships on the same stretch of water and in the same boats back in September, and compared the two events, “I think the level of competition this time is much deeper, I think the best guys aren’t that much better than we were back in September, but there are at least six teams here that are very competitive.”

Whoever Robertson chooses as his semi-finals opponent, Friday is lining up for a vintage day of match racing, with good winds forecast and the best young sailors that Australia and New Zealand have available, ready to bust their guts to collect this prestigious trophy.


1 Phil Robertson NZL (RNZYS) Win 15 Loss 3
2 Keith Swinton AUS (SoPYC) 15-3
3 Robert Gibbs AUS (RPYC) 14-4
4 Evan Walker AUS (CYCA) 12-6 (11.5pts)*
5 Reuben Corbett NZL (RNZYS) 11-7
6 Stuart Pollard AUS (RSYS) 7-11
7 Brett Sharpe AUS (RFBYC) 5-13
8 Peter Nicholas AUS (RFBYC) 5-13
9 Nicky Souter AUS (RPAYC) 3-15
10 Matt Steven NZL (RPNYC) 3-15

Evan Walker received a 0.5 pt penalty for illegal hiking

Warren Jones Regatta

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Warren Jones Regatta 2009: Images of Kiwi and other Crews

Matt Stevens leads Phil Robertson downwind (2 images). Both image copyright John Roberson.

Matt Stevens' crew on the wind. Image copyright John Roberson.

Panama Jack Racing hiking. Image copyright John Roberson.

Reuben Corbett mark rounding. Image copyright John Roberson.

Reuben Corbett on the wind. Image copyright John Roberson.

Reuben Corbett and crew head upwind. Image copyright John Roberson.

Close upwind racing between Matt Stevens' team (yellow T-shirts) and Phil Robertson's Panama Jack Racing crew. Image copyright John Roberson.

Matt Stevens prepares to turn down wind. Image copyright John Roberson.

Warren Jones Regatta