Saturday, 14 March 2009

WMRT: BlackMatch to face Alinghi in Marseille Quarterfinals


Match racing in Marseille. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.

by David Swete

After another extremely tough day in trying conditions here in Marseille, we managed to qualify in 6th place at the end of the round robin and qualify for the quarterfinals. The wind was very shifty and although we had puffs of wind over 20 knots, quite often the breeze would die off completely with the race course becoming a "mine field". For this reason we were happy enough just to come through and qualify.

Qualifying in first position was Ed Baird and his Alinghi team which gave them the choice of who would be their quarterfinal opponent. Ed put his decision down to 'Science' when he justified choosing us in a late night press conference, stating he couldn’t pick Cian who came through second, or any of the local French teams so he choose us over the World Champion Ian Williams and Torvar Mirsky who both have higher world rankings.

History shows that we have a habit of toppling the more fancied teams who have picked to race us in the past, knocking Mathieu Richard out of the Korea Match Cup quarterfinals and likewise Paulo Cian in the Monsoon Cup. All be it a very inevitable task to be taking on such an experienced team during this stage of the regatta, we are looking forward to the challenge, having beaten Baird today in the round robin and we are hoping to emulate Emirates Team New Zealand’s win over Alinghi last month.


Close racing in Marseille. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.

Although we beat the likes of Ed Baird today, we had very narrow losses to World number 1 Sebastien Col and fellow Frenchman Damien Iehl. Racing was unbelievably tight today and our loss against Iehl came in a very hectic race where the wind topped out over 20 knots and whipped up a very 'choppy' sea state.

We were both getting very good speeds as we surfed downwind on the J-80 boats but although we held the lead coming into the finish we had received a penalty on the previous downwind when our spinnaker touched Iehls boat and we were unable to exonerate ourselves. We are looking to eliminate any of these little mistakes tomorrow as we have to be right on top of our game if we are to defeat Ed and his experienced team but we can come through with the result.

We would like to again say a special thank you to our sponsors: FedEx Express and Ross Munro from Line 7 who have decided to stick by us for our 2009 campaign. Their ongoing support has made this opportunity possible for the BlackMatch boys and it is a great honour to have the support of such great companies. To the RNZYS, Emirates Team New Zealand and everyone else, thank you for your support.

BlackMatch Racing
World Match Racing Tour

WMRT: Mirsky Racing Team report on Day 3 in Marseille

MRT scrapes through


Mirsky Racing Team sailing against Ed Baird's Alinghi team. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.

by Kinley Fowler

After a long day out on the water, the round robin has been completed and the Quarterfinals pairing have been decided. MRT managed to just scrape through, winning the final race of the round robin to put them on 6 wins, finishing in 7th position.

The higher qualifying teams were given the power to choose who to race in tomorrow’s do or die quarterfinals, and reigning two time world champion Ian Williams of Bahrain Team Pindar chose to race the Mirsky Racing Team. The choice doesn’t come as much of a surprise as Williams managed to beat MRT in the round robin stage, however with the scores so close after the first stage, anything could happen.

“We’re looking forward to building up the momentum that we had today in tomorrow’s quarterfinals. We always aim to peak on the final day, and our performance has picked throughout the regatta, so we hope to continue it on right through to the end.”

Mirsky Racing Team
World Match Racing Tour

VOR: Time-Lapse Images of PUMA's Il Mostro

Media Crew Member Rick Deppe used a 30 second exposure on his SLR camera, clamped to the boat to create these amazing shots of PUMA Ocean Racing. All images below copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race. All rights reserved.







Volvo Ocean Race

WMRT: Marseille International Match Race - Quaterfinalists Decided on Day Three


Team Onboard (Bjorn Hansen, SWE) gets on board with Sebastien Col's (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.

Alinghi’s Ed Baird (USA) wins Round Robin clear by only one point

by Dobbs Davis

In contrast to Thursday’s stately emphasis on timing and speed in light air, Friday’s match racing action was fast and furious in a breezy Round Robin run-up to the Quarter-Finals of the Marseille International Match Race. Out of a top-ranked field of 12 teams competing for a piece of the €50,000 total purse, only eight have survived this day to carry on in the competition of this first stage in the 2009 World Match Racing Tour.

Leading this pack is Ed Baird (USA) and his America’s Cup-winning crew from Alinghi, whose 5-4 win-loss record of the day would not seem remarkable except that he managed to defeat not only the top two seeds in the competition yesterday - reigning World Champion Ian Williams (GBR) and his Bahrain Team Pindar and Sebastian Col (FRA) and his French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge – but also yesterday’s undefeated Paolo Cian (ITA) and his Team Shosholoza.

Having won this Stage One of the competition, Baird has earned the right to choose his opponent in tomorrow’s start to the first-to-three point Quarter-Final round.

Appreciative of his team of Lorenzo Mazza, Pieter Van Nieuwenhuijzen, and Warwick Fleury, Baird said “The three guys sailing with me have really earned their living this week. Today especially, with so many starts, tacks, and gybes, we had a lot on all day. It was tough out there, we got beat up by the wind more than anything.”

The wind was tough on race managers from the YC Pointe Rouge as well, who kept busy trying to keep on top of a breeze which flicked back and forth and up and down between a weak offshore Mistral and a late onshore sea breeze. Choosing the correct side of the course was critical in many of today’s nine flights, but even those that chose well had to stay sharp, lest their leads earned early evaporate in the warm Mediterranean sun.

On how he felt getting back into Tour competition, Baird said “It’s great to be out there again with a chance to get back out and race these guys - it was fun!”


Marseille International Match Race Day 3. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.

While Cian’s impressive 7-0 score yesterday assured him some place in the Quarter-Finals, no one else in the field had such a certain outcome, and even Cian succumbed to lose to all four of his opponents today. In fact, no less than five teams were tied on six points in the 4th through 8th slots in the results.

So the pressure was on for all teams to perform in every match, and the final eight not known until the very last flight. Accordingly, Chief Umpire Alfredo Ricci and his umpire team were kept busy all day, adjudicating on levels of aggressiveness not seen thus far in the competition. Whereas penalties yesterday were relatively few and far between, with half being for benign infractions like hitting marks, today the intense boat-on-boat action resulted in numerous penalties, some deciding matches even as late as on the finish line.

One such match was in Flight 12 in a hotly-contested race between Col and Bjorn Hansen (SWE) and his Team Onboard. Perhaps feeling the pressure to perform as the local favourite, Col made an uncharacteristic error which he would have normally avoided when Hansen, in the lead but carrying a penalty, lured Col to sail between him and the signal boat at the finish. The infraction cost him two penalties from match umpires Philippe Gomez and Arnault Mante, with the first offsetting Hansen’s to clear him without doing a turn to finish and win the match, and the second requiring Col to do his own turn before finishing himself.

But for as many tactical errors as there may have been amongst this talented field, there were also some moments of absolute brilliance. Perhaps with skills learned in winning the qualifying Y’s Cup event, in Flight 10, Damien Iehl (FRA) and his French Match Racing Team pulled off an impressive double-gybe manoeuvre while remaining overlapped to leeward of Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team on their final approach into the leeward mark. The move conferred luffing rights to Iehl, who then copped a penalty on the Australians they could not shake before the finish.

Moves like this gave Iehl a 7-4 record, the highest among the non-Tour Card teams and third overall in the Round Robin. Baird, Cian, and Iehl will be joined by Col, Williams, Mirsky, Mathieu Richard (FRA) and his French Match Racing Team/French Spirit, and Adam Minoprio (NZL) and his ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing Team tomorrow morning in the first-to-three point Quarter-Final, due to start at 1000 local time.

Round Robin Results
(Place - Skipper - (Nationality) - Team - Win/Loss)

1 Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi 8-3
2 Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza 7-4
3 Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 7-4
4 Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge 6-5
5 Ian Williams (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar 6-5
6 Adam Minoprio (NZL) BlackMatch Racing/Emirates Team New Zealand 6-5
7 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 6-5
8 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit 6-5
9 Philippe Presti (FRA) French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit 5-6
10 Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA) French Match Racing Team 3-8
11 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Team OnBoard 3-8
12 Ian Ainslie (RSA) Team Proximo 3-8

World Match Racing Tour

VOR: One Month and Counting...


Lunch is served onboard Green Dragon, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Lucy Harwood

For the crew onboard Green Dragon there are several milestones onboard today, firstly that it is Tom Braidwood’s birthday, second they have passed through the ice gate and are heading for Cape Horn, and finally that today marks one month at sea for the crew. The focus for the top four boats has moved to Cape Horn and the next scoring gate. Whilst the top three boats have dived south east, the Dragon is once again pushing to the east. There is a band of low pressure which is circling in the north and they are looking to hook into it and make up some serious miles on the boats ahead.

As Volvo race expert Mark Chisnell said, “Are we now going to see the rule book burned to ash by Green Dragon? Their move doesn’t involve anything as dramatic as Ericsson 3’s tack at the scoring gate, but it could be just as effective, history quickly repeating. There are dangers though, and they are not all tactical – the Dragon must negotiate an ugly low pressure system to close down Ericsson 3”.

A month at sea also means that the crew will need to start realistically considering supplies onboard as this leg is turning into a 40 plus day event. With testing conditions onboard a shortage of food or snacks will be the last thing that the crew will need for a harmonious time onboard.

Leg Five Day 28: 1600 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) DTF 3,671 nm
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +154
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +194
Green Dragon IRL/CHI (Ian Walker/GBR) +414
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +828

Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermudez/ESP) DNS
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) DNS
Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA to face huge storm and rough Cape Horn rounding


Casey Smith grinding as PUMA Ocean Racing, hit rough weather in the Southern Ocean, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Kate Fairclough

One month into the longest leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, the PUMA Ocean Racing team are preparing to face heinous conditions over the next four days, as they make their way towards Cape Horn. With 1,700 nautical miles to go until they round the iconic landmark, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet is about to be shaken up again, with the opportunity for place-changing at the front of the fleet. PUMA is currently in third place behind rivals Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4, but are closing the gap between the boats every mile that they sail.

Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of South America, is fabled for the hazardous conditions commonly encountered by boats rounding it. Where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet, strong winds, large waves, strong currents, freezing temperatures and rough seas combined with the chance of iceberg sightings make its rounding threatening to the most experienced ocean going sailors.

With a huge low pressure system currently building to the west of Chile, PUMA must make some big decisions with regards to their course to Cape Horn. Positioning themselves carefully within this weather system with winds of up to 50 knots could catapult the team towards Cape Horn at great pace, and offer the opportunity to overtake the two Ericsson boats. PUMA are expected to round Cape Horn on Monday or Tuesday of next week (16th or 17th March).

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 28 QFB: received 13.03.09 1027 GMT


Pablo Arrarte drilling the batten end with Jordi Calafat, while Tom Addis is supervising onboard Telefonica Blue, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Tom Addis (navigator)

Another day of ‘following the ridge’ into the ice gate. 220 miles to go before we can finally bear away onto a spinnaker again. We get a much cleaner transition into the fronts that will take us to Cape Horn than the others, who have had a fair bit of upwind after rounding the gate so that’s a bonus I guess! We’ll take anything at the moment!

Heaps of talk re timings at the moment, every time I go on deck, I make sure that I’ve got all the vital arrival statistics in my head such as distances, timings etc. If I slip up and give a distance that is not fully consistent with one I gave earlier, they are onto me in an instant like a pack of hungry seagulls!

Hard to say re timings to the finish – if we get lots of downwind, then we are fine, if its reaching or upwind, then we are way off our normal pace. Finding some interesting combinations of sails to use though, not many would get a mention in our normal sail crossover chart, but in our dramatically simplified one in use at the moment, they work really well compared with the alternatives. The rig is fine – completely stable, our only handicap is not being able to hoist jibs.

So it’s into the big downwind from tomorrow night, starting off pretty moderate but it looks like we have a good three days or so of heavy running. These boats are so powerful that they don’t really need any more than 25kts downwind to be at their fastest – any more breeze than that just gets closer and closer to survival conditions where you have to start throttling back. All the traditional adages about where to sail in the Southern Ocean generally revolve around looking for the biggest breeze, now it’s all about looking for breeze that is strong but not so strong that you can’t use it properly.

Heater is on for a few hours each night now, downstairs is now awesome with things getting dry again. Will get a tad more humid down here once some water starts coming over the bow again though. We are all looking forward to high speeds towards home though – that’s worth getting wet for.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 28 QFB: received 13.03.09 0919 GMT


Jordi Calafat writing the job list, onboard Telefonica Blue, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Bouwe Bekking (skipper)

On days like this you are wondering if you couldn’t have chosen another sport to compete in. It has been pouring with rain without mercy all day again. Snow would have been much nicer, as you don’t get so wet.

We are still bumping into the ridge of high pressure all the time, sometimes good breeze, than all of sudden the breeze drops. The easy thing is that we can only choose out of two sails, both furling sails, so the manoeuvres are swift.

The big problem is for the guys who are wearing the diving gloves when we have to do the sail change. You have to take your gloves off, otherwise your functionality goes down. These gloves have rubber seals around the wrists, and are beautifully warm as long they are dry, but a pain in the neck to put on/off. Once off then the problem for them is where to put them, without getting wet or damp. So some are wearing these, while others prefer the neoprene gloves, which are always wet, but always warm.

No complaints of anybody having cold feet, as our so called duck hunting boots are doing a job fantastic. There is although a big mixture in what kind of protection people wear on their heads. The range goes from a normal woven hat, neoprene balaclava, fleece balaclava, Gore-Tex balaclava and so-called seal skin hats and everybody has his own favourite.

So it is upwind again, 24 hours more of this and then we can hopefully turn the ‘corner’ and head towards the Horn, at least it will feel if we are making miles in the right direction.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 4 LEG FIVE DAY 28 QFB: received 13.03.09 0638 GMT


Dave Endean gets hit by huge waves, onboard Ericsson 4, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Guy Salter/Ericsson 4/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Guy Salter

Friday the 13th! Have not had much wind all day - is this due to the high or something supernatural?? - The high of course and the sunny and clear conditions brought a wave of smiles with it.

It’s amazing how the daylight hours have changed over the last week or so as we have headed east – it’s hard to keep up with sunrise each day – especially from my dark, dank cave in the back of the yacht.

Everything now feels wet or damp as the moisture in all clothes and the air just feels cold. The condensation inside the yacht is everywhere and as you brush past any item you get a soaking arm or leg. Seeing your breath is the norm – but you get used to it knowing that it’s just a question of time now ‘till we are warm an dry and clean and free once more.

Although not as far south it’s as cold as I remember the 2001 race. In those days weight was everything and we were given a list of clothing we were allowed to take – maybe with an extra thermal top sneaked onboard. On board the 70s it’s a lot wetter so there are no real clothing amount rules – as long as it fits within your bag and is stacked it’s ok – but this does often result in the odd discarded sock being found lying around. The only way to dry your gear is to wear it as we are on fuel rations – so no heater.

The 2001 race was also littered with icebergs, some of the lads want to see some to tick the box, but none who did the 2001 edition want a repeat of that, but it’s been a hot topic after the Dragon’s sightings earlier this week.

They are beautiful but obviously very dangerous and I wouldn’t fancy having to avoid a big one as they are very often the size of the Isle of Wight big, not just a few hundred metres – you could find yourself having to beat round one to get to the windward ‘safer’ side, and we have had enough upwind work!

We kind of resemble a collection of tramps in our various versions of the same clothing – Tony (Tony Mutter) for example has cut the peak off his ‘Elma Fudd’ style duck hunter’s hat and looks a little like Baldrick, Blackadder’s faithful sidekick (British TV show Blackadder)!

Most are sporting more facial hair than ever before – or at least more than they will own up to. I often expect to see a few of the lads huddled round a big oil drum on the back of the yacht, complete with fire, warming their hands – straight out of a NY street set. All we are missing are the cardboard boxes and the shopping trolley with three wheels.

The food just seems to vanish – even the boat’s most unpleasant snack – a beef jerky style food type, which I swear is a mammal but definitely not beef. Ryan (Ryan Godfrey) is sure it’s ‘large rodent’ jerky and I think he has a very good point.

Jules (Jules Salter) can be seen at the navstation with a silver survival blanket over his lap; it’s the type which you see draped over marathon runners at the finish that looks like a big sheet of baking foil. Jules commented that he is so impressed with its reflective heat properties that he fancies having a suit made from it – or at least that was until I pointed out that he would then look like Sir Jimmy Saville – to which he gave the compulsory ‘now then, now then’ in Jimmy’s style and had to agree that he has had better ideas.

Time just passes now and how easy a long haul flight would be as our minds are used to the moments of slow time. In fact a 24hr flight would be a doddle even without any form of entertainment. I’m sure the reality of time and urgency will return as we get closer to the finish and the will to get off the boat becomes close to unbearable.

We are now awaiting a bit of breeze from a low pressure headed our way - it means some true heinous southern ocean conditions – but it also means that we should eat up the 1700nm to the Horn a lot quicker.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG FIVE DAY 28 QFB: received 13.03 09 0847 GMT


Happy Birthday to Tom Braidwood onboard Green Dragon, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Ian Walker (skipper)

Three milestones today onboard the Green Dragon. First, we are celebrating our third birthday of the leg - Happy Birthday Tom Braidwood. Tom project managed the build of the Dragon so perhaps it is appropriate that he celebrates his birthday onboard. Secondly, today marks one month at sea since leaving China.

For many of us this is a personal record. Thirdly we have just passed the ice gate at 45 degrees south and have now set our course for Cape Horn 1900 miles away. Thank God for that - it really didn't feel right heading north!

The next four or five days are going to be a real test for navigators and sailors alike. There is a deep low pressure system that will cut across our path with winds in excess of 50 knots in places. This gives an opportunity to sail over the top of the low pressure as Ericsson 3 did east of New Zealand – the question is do you really want to put yourself in the path of these winds? To not do so could leave you in light air or headwinds and losing hundreds of miles. Needless to say we are monitoring the development of this low pressure closely - we don't have to decide anything just yet.

Life onboard is not too bad at the moment. We saw the sun today and tonight we are sailing under bright stars and a full moon. It's a little chilly, but not as cold as when we were further south.


Lunch is served onboard Green Dragon, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

Food as always is a source of most complaints. Yesterday our food bag was missing a meal - something we can ill afford right now when we know we are going to run out before getting to Rio. We took the last meal out of day 40 as a temporary replacement. We have also started putting the next day’s food out the night before so the night watches have some snacks. The problem now is that everything is typically gone by breakfast and it is a long day with only two freeze dried meals and no snacks. Soon I think we will have to divide everything up between 11 of us so there can be no argument about stealing all the snacks/ sweets. To be honest I can only see this situation getting worse between now and the finish.

The great thing now is it does feel like the finish is in sight. In our minds we broke this huge leg down into more manageable chunks. These were exiting China Sea, the Doldrums, New Zealand scoring waypoint, ice gate one, ice gate two, Cape Horn, and finish. As you can see from the list we have five down and two to go.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 28 QFB: received 14.03.09 0338 GMT


Xabier Fernandez and Iker Martinez grinding under the rain onboard Telefonica Blue, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Simon Fisher (helmsman)

The last 24 hours have been some of the coldest on this leg so far. It has been raining non stop. The sky is flat and grey and we have been headed so for much of the time we are close to upwind. The wind has also picked up a little, and whilst this is good for our speed towards the ice gate it also drops the temperature even further.

Everyone has been reaching into their gear bags for more clothing, although Patan (Pablo Arrarte/ESP) wins the award for innovation. It would seem that he feels the cold more than most and is going to new lengths to keep warm! During the middle of the night last night he pulled out his inflatable pillow (presumably once used for sleeping) inflated it and stuck it under his bum so he had a comfy seat and his backside wouldn't feel the cold. Eight hours later, early in the morning, having realised how cold it was last night he appeared on deck with his hat stuffed with little hand warmers that give off heat for a few hours in order to keep his ears warm!!

However, more clothing and Patan's wacky ideas aren't the full extent of the keeping warm regime. It is not uncommon now to see people on deck spinning the pedestal handles round even if there are no sails to trim or even leaping around and exercising in an attempt to warm themselves up. Push ups, tricep dips, squats and lunges are all getting done in the cockpit on a regular basis – Yiyo, our trainer, would be proud!!

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA LEG FIVE DAY 28 QFB: received 13.03.09 0413 GMT


PUMA Ocean Racing, hit rough weather in the Southern Ocean, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Kenny Read (skipper)

...And now for a break in the action...

The Volvo Ocean Race went on hold for a couple of us, as we are in the process of essentially waiting for a low pressure system to come our way so we can jump on and rip to the horn. Sounds bizarre? Well, when you look at a weather map of this place, it is truly Bizzaro World.

If we continued south we would be blocked out of the Horn by a huge area of light winds. Essentially, for ourselves and Ericsson 4, who are positioned within 27 miles of each other, our quickest route by far, is to head northeast and punch through quite a strong low to get in the westerlies on the back side of it. Just when you thought this leg couldn't get any weirder.

The Dragons are going to be the huge recipients of this early Christmas present as they are about 300 miles behind us as we head to the Horn, but they will be the first to jump on this system and come ripping up to us and, as we see it, start the leg all over again with Ericsson 4 and ourselves. As for the other two, Telefónica Blue may not be so lucky as they are still one complete weather system behind but, at this point, I count nothing out. Ericsson 3, who has worked so hard for a nice little lead, is showing no signs of heading up for this front as of yet. Do they continue south and try to beat this low, or do they come back with us and jump on the train and burn up their hard earned lead? Very interesting.

Adding to the bizarre nature of this leg is the huge disparity from last night to tonight. Essentially last night sucked. Really cold, tons of water, hard reaching. Brutal conditions really. As morning came the wind started to back off and by midday we were reaching in bright sunshine with the mast head genoa on and airing out the boat. That trend continues tonight. Unreal.

On board we all really appreciated the sun and the lack of fire hosing today. Allowed for a bunch of chores and tidy-ups. Much needed rest and some new stories. Really and truly a nice break in the action.

We talked today about a total lack of marine life out here so far. Very few Albatross and only a handful of small sea birds. No fish or dolphins to speak of. Thank goodness no whales (they can hurt both whale and boat if they meet unexpectedly). My guess is that even the marine life have figured out that this is a pretty desolate place and there are better places on earth to hang out. Strange though when we passed through a similar latitude leaving Cape Town there were tons of Albatross. None on this side of the Southern Ocean.

Only 1700 miles to the Horn. Hopefully the race will start up again soon. We are officially ready to put this stage of the leg behind us.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 3 LEG FIVE DAY 27 QFB: received 12.03.09 1049 GMT


Anders Dahlsjo onboard Ericsson 3, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

Pressure on

by Gustav Morin

This is a tough leg, for sure. It is so complex. All aspects of yacht racing plays a big part and if one doesn't flow, it drags other parts down with it. It's about endurance, both physically and psychologically, about routines with food, sleep and hygiene and above all it's about the knowledge of sailing. How much you can push your crew and the boat. Also of course, skills in strategy, weather and navigation plays a huge part.

We have been doing well so far and are very happy to be where we are. At first we were not sure if we would manage to get to the start, but we put all the effort we could in making the boat ready to go, we sailed it shorthanded to China and started seven hours after the signal. And now, here we are working our guts out not to lose the lead we have been working so hard to get.

Our navigator’s choice to go north and catch on to a low pressure after the first scoring-gate paid off and today we passed the ice-gate a couple of hours before the second and third boat. Unfortunately being first to this gate doesn't give us any points and from here to the scoring-gate at Cape Horn it seems to be a bit of a restart.

We wished we would be able to hang on to the low a bit longer and catch a weather system the others would not be able to reach. Being in another system is probably the only way to get a secure lead, if you are in the same system you can quickly loose a couple of hundred miles. Depressing for the one in the lead but fun and exciting for the ones following the race and a hint of hope for the ones trying to make gains from the back of the fleet. Unfortunately we dropped out of the low and lost a lot of pace so the others have been able to make depressingly big gains on us.

Today we have been in what every sailor would call a "shit fight". We have constantly been sailing in less breeze than the others and right after the ice-gate we stopped completely for a while. Loosing up to 50 miles in one sched is not fun.

Here is when the psyche kicks in. We are all pretty bruised, battered and tired after 26 days of racing, 29 days if you count from Taiwan. We also have some flu going on, which can really bring the performance down. The more tired you get, the easier it is to make mistakes and the more mistakes you make the more you lose and the mood onboard gets bad.

So far we are doing good. We are hanging on to the "E3-spirit" and get up after each punch. But as the days get colder and our opponents get closer, everything will get harder.

This leg is a tough one, for sure.

Volvo Ocean Race

WMRT: BlackMatch Begins 2009 Tour


Adam Minoprio and his ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing crew members David Swete and Dan McLean. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.

by David Swete

The first match racing event of the 2009 World Match Racing Tour kicked off today in Marseille, signalling the start of BlackMatch's 2009 campaign. Since securing our 'Tour Card' that guarantees us entry into 9 of the 10 world tour events with our 4th placing on the tour last year, we have been training and doing various regatta's over the New Zealand summer.

BlackMatch returned home to New Zealand in January taking the opportunity to be involved with Emirates Team New Zealand's emphatic win over Alinghi, in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series. It was a great privilege to be part of such an awesome event and to get an insight into how a world class America's Cup team is run. We were also involved in the inaugural Antigua 600 mile offshore race, sailing the canting keeled Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners, to overall honours against a magnificent fleet that included the 100 foot maxi Leopard.

The Marseille International Match Race is a new addition to the World Match Racing Tour and was scheduled to start yesterday, however the infamous 'Mistral Breeze' of the Mediterranean put a hold on proceedings, delivering 40 knot winds that delayed action until today. Racing got underway in very light airs this morning and the race committee did an excellent job to get away 8 flights,5 of which we were involved in. In unfortunate circumstances our bowman Nick Blackman, badly injured his arm while training last week and we have had to call upon 'super sub' Dan McLean to fill Nicks big shoes for this regatta.

We finished the day with 2 convincing wins over Torvar Mirsky and World Champion Ian Williams, however we lost 3 very close matches to defending champion Mathieu Richard, fellow Frenchman Philippe Presti and Paolo Cian. With 9 of the top 10 teams in the world competing here along with Alinghi helmsman Ed Baird, this regatta is definitely one of the best line ups we have seen at a tour event and although we already have 3 losses, we were happy to come away with two wins against such tight competition.


Adam Minoprio makes a protest - with trademark tongue out concentration. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.

Our loss against an unbeaten Paolo Cian came in very exciting fashion and was down to the wire. Paolo had an excellent day today and things were definitely going his way. After forcing the feisty Italian to start slow at the pin end of the line, we managed to hold him to the port layline and have a 3 boat length advantage at the first top mark. The talented team pounced on a mistake of ours when we gybed for pressure that didn't quite deliver and they made enough of a gain to be overlapped with us as we approached the bottom mark.

We then fell victim to a new rule change that came into affect this year, 'mark room at the bottom mark'. We were deemed to have not sailed directly to the mark and were in fact only about 2 metres away from it. The old rule states we can take room on the approach to the mark, however the new rule states that once overlapped you must sail directly to the mark. The penalty was handed to us in a complete reversal of how we interpreted the situation and although we still had the lead, we had a penalty to complete.

The next upwind leg saw us stretch out to a 5 boat length lead as a fierce tacking duel ensued and we managed to complete our penalty turn and take a small advantage going into the final downwind leg. However Paolo and his team were hot on our tail and showed their experience with asymmetrical spinnakers in light airs to roll us downwind and hold on to a narrow victory.

It is very early days in the regatta but we are very happy with how Dan has fitted in and are confident we are sailing well enough to progress through to the later stages of the event. Tomorrow should see the completion of the first round robin where the top 8 teams will go through to a quarterfinal knockout stage and we need a few more hard fought wins under our belt to get us through.

We like to say a special thank you to our sponsors: FedEx Express and Ross Munro from Line 7 who have decided to stick by us for our 2009 campaign. Their ongoing support has made this opportunity possible for the BlackMatch boys and it is a great honour to have the support of such great companies. To the RNZYS, Emirates Team New Zealand and everyone else, thank you for your support.

BlackMatch Racing
World Match Racing Tour

WMRT: Cian Leads the Way


Torvar Mirsky and Sebastien Col line up for the start. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.

by Kinley Fowler

Paolo Cian of Team Shosholoza is leading the pack after day one with 7 wins under his belt. The rest of the field however remains tight as yesterday’s Mistral faded into next to nothing.

Mirsky Racing Team performed well throughout the day despite only managing to get 2 wins from 5 races. The team was able to find speed throughout the day; however some minor tactical errors caused them to be on the back foot, and in some incidents races were put in the umpire’s hands.

“We felt comfortable in all 5 races today, but with some small shifts not going our way we unfortunately didn’t come away with as many wins as we would have liked, but tomorrow is a new day and the field is extremely tight so we will just keep focused on improving as a team”.

Mirsky Racing Team
World Match Racing Tour

Audi Etchells Worlds 2009: Day 5 - Team Muir crowned new World Champions


Straight after their win, from left: Paul Wyatt, Bucky Smith, Jason Muir and Matthew Chew. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

by Di Pearson

Jason Muir and his crew of Paul Wyatt, Matthew Chew and Bucky Smith (AUS) have outclassed the rest of the 85-strong field at the 2009 Audi Etchells World Championship to win the title a day before the Championship finishes.

Heading into today’s two races, the Queensland friends were five points behind America’s Cup hero John Bertrand and his Olympic crew of Ben Ainslie (British four time medallist) and Australian Olympian and coach Andrew Palfrey (AUS).

With no disrespect to this crew, Muir and co. were not named among the Championship favourites pre-event. However, Fellow Queenslander, Mark Bradford, did say the four “were more than capable of winning a couple of races.”


AUS 1158 (Peter La Fontaine, Vic) and David Rose (Qld) fighting it out downwind. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

Ironically, Muir did not win a single race, but what his crew did do, was to sail consistently at the top of the fleet throughout, their worst result a 10th place in Race 1. From there, the four did not finish outside ninth place. Their best result was a trio of fifth places.

In Races 7 and 8, Muir scored ninth and eighth places, while Victorian Bertrand and his crew had their worst day on the course with 12th and 32nd placings, dropping them down the board to third overall with only one race remaining.

“I don’t think our win has quite sunk in yet; it’s unbelievable,” said Muir whose crew will not sail tomorrow’s final race, choosing instead to watch the race.

On beating Bertrand and his crew, Muir said: “These are the three guys you really look up to. I’ve always looked up to John Bertrand since I was a kid and he won the America’s Cup – and we’re all big Ben Ainslie fans. Bucky used to sail a Finn and he’s always been a big fan. They were such a great crew – three Olympians on one boat.”

On their two races: “We didn’t have good starts today. We had to duck 30 odd bows each time to find a lane and get into clear air.

“We didn’t have it easy, believe me, it was a difficult day. We made a mistake in Race 7. We were in fourth place at the top mark the first time and should have followed the guys in front, but we broke away. Our race plan went out of whack a bit there – we thought the breeze would flick back to the right – but it didn’t, so we had to take our medicine.

“After that race, we discussed that tomorrow was supposed to be a big breeze and we looked at whether we should attack John, but we looked at their record and thought we would probably lose if we match raced them or we’d end up in the protest room so we decided to sail our own race.”

On when they realised they had won: “Once we crossed the finish line, we counted back to where John finished (he was 32nd) and realised we’d won,” said the 36 year-old Brisbane sailor.

Twenty-five year old Matthew Chew from Wellington Point joked: “I’m giving up sailing.” The reality is, Chew is also a gun triathlete and is aiming at that world championship. “I’m stoked with our win – I still can’t quite believe it.”

Paul Wyatt, a 39 year-old from Grange said: “This is the top level; there are multiple Olympic champions, America’s Cup sailors, you name it, they’re here. To beat them is massive. We were pretty low profile here. We won the Nationals in 2008, but we haven’t been to many of the other regattas.”

For Maroochydore’s 32 year-old Bucky Smith, whom Muir has the hugest amount of respect and praise for, it was a dream come true. “It hasn’t sunk in for any of us really, but to go out and race against and beat someone the standard of Ben Ainslie is a big deal.”


Aerial shot of the fleet at the Audi Etchells Worlds on Day 5. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

A second Melbourne crew is now in second place. Damien King/Simon Cunnington/James Ware/Andrew Butler have moved up the board into second place following their seventh and fourth placings in Races 7 and 8.

Said Cunnington this afternoon: “We fell out of contention when we scored a 38th place in Race 4. We learnt a lot from that 38th! We changed our strategy a bit after that.

“We have been lucky to have Adrian Finglas (Australian Olympic coach) coaching us the last six weeks. Roughly we thought we would be in the mix, but Adrian has made all the difference in every way you can imagine: nutrition, preparation, course management, crew optimisation – everything. We can’t say enough.”

Both he and King are talented sailors though. King was one of Australia’s top 470 sailors during the ‘90’s and prior to that, a 420 champion, while Cunnington has represented at the America’s Cup, Whitbread Race and contested many Sydney-Hobart races.

The Melbourne crew is just two points ahead of Bertrand, so will have to remember all that Finglas’ has taught them tomorrow.

Not only do they face Bertrand, but there are two other crews within reach of King’s crew; Chris Busch/Chad Hough/Chuck Sinks/David Hughes (USA) are 10 points behind them and Jud Smith/Mark Johnson/Nik Burfoot (AUS) are16 points behind. And as we saw today, anything could happen.

Only two crews here have won two races, both of them clocking up their second wins today. Robert Goddard (GBR) won Race 4 and then Race 7 today. Due to an inconsistent series, they are 42nd overall. The British skipper went from a rooster to a feather duster when he broke the start in Race 8, having to fight his way back to the line and re-start to finish 80.


The 'Magpies' celebrate their second race win. From left: Grant Wharington, Ben Morrison-Jack and Graeme Taylor. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

Graeme Taylor/Grant Wharington/Ben Morrison Jack won Race 6 and today won Race 8, but are 13th overall and like Goddard, cannot finish on the podium. Taylor’s crew struggled early in the series, but found their form yesterday.

“Shame we left it this late to come good,” said Taylor’s crew Wharington tonight. “We did much better in the heavier breeze yesterday and I think the flat water helped us today. We haven’t been sailing well in the chop on Port Phillip.”

Wharington also admitted: “We got a couple of lucky breaks today. We went right at once stage and the breeze went right with us and we lifted right up. Starting mid-line, we were in a good position, but then a couple of boats spat us out, but then a couple of other boats let us through and we were able to sail in clear air.”

Race officials had another tough day. Winds arrived late again, as they can do in March. Eventually the wind filled in to around 8-10 knots and shifted between 160-175 degrees throughout the day, so moving marks became part and parcel of the game and racing got away late shortly after 1.30pm.

As Principal Race Officer Ross Wilson has said every day at the Audi Etchells Worlds, “we have to give them good and fair racing. All of us have to have our heads out of the boat at all times and be vigilant.” And they were.


Audi Etchells Worlds 2009 winners (with Audi), from left: Jason Muir (skipper), Paul Wyatt, Matthew Chew and Bucky Smith. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

The final race, to decide second and third places overall, will be sailed tomorrow on Port Phillip starting from 12.00pm, weather permitting.

The 2009 Audi Etchells World Championship is organised by the Melbourne Etchells Fleet in conjunction with the Royal Brighton Yacht Club.

Provisional Overall Results after Day 5:
(Position - Crew - Race results (with discard) - (Total points) - Net Points)

1 MUIR, Jason/CHEW, Matthew/WYATT, Paul/SMITH, Bucky (AUS) (10),5,5,7,5,4,9,8 (53) 43pts
2 KING, Damien/CUNNINGTON, Simon/WARE, James/BUTLER, Andrew (AUS) 15,3,23,(38),3,8,7,4 (101) 63pts
3 BERTRAND, John/PALFREY, Andrew/AINSLIE, Ben (AUS) 3,11,1,(86)BFD,4,2,12,32 (151) 65pts
4 BUSCH, Chris/HOUGH, Chad/SINKS, Chuck/HUGHES, David 969 42 USA 2 (60) 2 6 32 7 6 18 133 73
5 SMITH, Judd/JOHNSON, Mark/BURFOOT, Nik (AUS) 18,13,4,13,1,16,(35),14 (114) 79pts Masters
6 DRENNAN, Noel/JARVIN, Steven/MCCARTHY, William (AUS) 21,1,20,5,(24),23,11,9 (114) 90pts
7 CHILDERLEY, Stuart/ELLIOTT, Robert/RICHMOND, Sam (GBR) 4,(59),3,11,15,3,20,35 (150) 91pts
8 BULKA, Mark/YOUNG, Steve/RYSSENBEEK, James (AUS) 14,(29),19,24,7,13,24,6 (136) 107pts
9 MEAD, Laurence/LAWRENCE, Phil/YATES, Andrew (GBR) 7,(53),9,2,12,14,52,12 (161) 108pts
10 JOHNSON, Ian/WALKER, Ian/EDE, Timothy (AUS) 20,10,33,8,10,(35),25,2 (143) 108pts

Audi Etchells Worlds 2009

Audi Etchells Worlds 2009: Day 5 - Millpond on Port Phillip

by Di Pearson

Two more races are scheduled to be sailed Friday at the 2009 Audi Etchells World Championship being hosted by the Royal Brighton Yacht Club in Melbourne, but at 10.45am, Port Phillip was looking like a millpond.

Principal Race Officer Ross Wilson says a sea breeze is expected, but not until around midday, when Race 7 was due to start. “Our intention is to still hold two races, but we will see what the weather holds in store and make a decision from there. We will go out on the course with our AP (racing delayed) flag and wait it out.”

In other news of the day, entries skippered by Bruce McBriar (AUS), Martin Vezina (BER) and Guyon Wilson (AUS) Patton that failed to weigh in as required by the rules, have been reinstated into Race 6 due to the wording of the rule. McBriar finished 41st, Wilson 48th and Vazina 58th. McBriar is the best place overall of the three in 43rd place.

Meanwhile, Andrew Cooper/David Richard/Stuart Skeggs (GBR) were disqualified from Race 6 under Rule 11/after weather mark.

Currently, Melbourne’s John Bertrand and his crew of Ben Ainslie and Andrew Palfrey (AUS) lead the 85 international entry Audi Etchells World Championship on 21 points, Jason Muir/Matthew Chew/Paul Wyatt/Bucky Smith (AUS) are second with 26 points and Stuart Childerley/Robert Elliott/Sam Richmond are third on 36 points.

The final race will be sailed Saturday on Port Phillip starting from 12.00pm, weather permitting.

The 2009 Audi Etchells World Championship is organised by the Melbourne Etchells Fleet in conjunction with the Royal Brighton Yacht Club.

Audi Etchells Worlds 2009

WMRT: Cian Undefeated on Day Two

Team Shosholoza scores impressive 7-0 score in Round Robin action to lead the pack in Stage One of the Marseille International Match Race


Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.

by Dobbs Davis

Showing great mastery of the light air conditions of the day, Paolo Cian (ITA) and his Team Shosholoza have exploded out of the blocks, winning all of their seven matches in the first day of racing in Stage One of the Marseille International Match Race. Nine flights remain in Round Robin action of Stage One for the 12 teams assembled for this first event on the 2009 World Match Racing Tour.

“We had a very good day, one of those days in which everything comes together well,” said a modest Cian. “We were confident in our boat handling, so I was able to get off the starts my tactician wanted, and our speed was fine.”

Cian won the first event of last year’s Tour, the Brasil Sailing Cup, but makes no predictions for this first event of this year.

“This was only the first day. Our goal for this stage was to just get to the Quarter-Finals, so with seven wins I think we’ve achieved that now.”

In contrast, his rival in the Finals of the Brasil Sailing Cup, Bjorn Hansen (SWE) and his Team Onboard, had a very tough 1-5 day. Hansen said “I haven’t sailed since November, so we felt pretty rusty today. But we’re taking lessons from today and will look at tomorrow with a clean start and still have a chance to make the Quarter Finals.”

Ed Baird (USA) and his Alinghi team, making his return to the Tour after a several year hiatus, said was he was “Fortunate for having come away with 3-0 score. Today was so light that anything could happen, and no lead seemed very safe. Sebastian [Col] nearly ran us down at the finish of our first match, and we were behind ourselves in the other two.”

Col and his French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, a local favourite being native to Marseille and 1st in the ISAF rankings, had a decidedly mediocre day on a 2-2 score, while the other French Tour Card holder, Mathieu Richard and his French Match Racing Team/French Spirit, faired better on a 4-2 record. Richard currently leads the pack of five French teams in the field here, and was not shy at admitting to wanting to see an all-French Final.


Marseille International Match Race 2009. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.

“It would be great for the event and really generate a lot of publicity for match racing here in France,” he said. That said, Philippe Presti (FRA) pointed out that it was not he nor any other French skipper that was being begged for autographs by a large group of French school children touring the host YC Pointe Rouge facilities onshore and out on the race course today cheering on the teams.

“The one they all wanted was Torvar,” laughed Presti. At only 22, Mirsky (AUS), is the youngest skipper on the Tour, and though ranked 5th in the ISAF ranking list and having thereby earned his Tour Card for the year, his day ended with a mediocre 2-3 record as well.

The other young antipodean Tour Card holder, 23-year old Adam Minoprio (NZL) and his ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing Team, has the same score as Mirsky, but this may have been different if he had won his match against Cian. In a close-fought battle in which Minoprio held a slight lead going into the leeward mark, he appeared to be the first victim on the Tour of a slightly new twist in the new Racing Rules of Sailing which went into effect for this year through 2012.

When approaching the leeward mark, Minoprio was ahead of Cian, who was just overlapped to the outside. Minoprio’s favored inside position entitled him to “mark-room” when “approaching the mark” as specified in the wording of the rules governing right-of-way while rounding marks. However, in the spinnaker takedown maneuver while rounding, Minoprio’s team made minor contact with Cian’s boat, prompting the Kiwi team to protest.

However, instead of flying a yellow flag to penalize Cian for not giving Minoprio sufficient mark-room to the outside, the match umpires deemed the two to three metre gap between the Kiwis and the mark on the inside as being too much in the light conditions, and flew a blue flag instead to penalize Minoprio.

Round Robin racing in Stage One resumes Friday morning in Marseilles, with slightly more gradient pressure in the forecast.

Results

Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza 7-0
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team/French Spirit 4-2
Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi 3-0
Philippe Presti (FRA) French Match Racing Team/French Spirit 3-2
Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA) French Match Racing Team 2-2
Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team 2-2
Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing Team 2-3
Ian Williams (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar 2-3
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 2-3
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 1-4
Ian Ainslie (RSA) Team Proximo 1-4
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) 1-5

World Match Racing Tour

VOR: Leg 5 Day 27 - Next Stop Cape Horn


Media Crew Member Guo Chuan filming onboard Green Dragon, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Lucy Harwood

It has been a case of ups and down for the chasing pack today. Last night saw them all make significant gains, Green Dragon had pulled back over 150 miles on current leg leader Ericsson 3. But conditions today have seen them slow again and lose some miles as PUMA and Ericsson 4 followed the Nordic crew through the gate and took the dive south. As Ericsson 3 passed through the ice gate this morning, their progress slowed for a short time, which impacted the rest of the fleet allowing an opportunity to play catch up. But that was no to last long, as once they were through the gate Ericsson 3 dived south and were back up to speed.

Green Dragon have headed north and PUMA have concerns on their position as they try to keep some distance between them and the chasing Dragon. Skipper Ken Read talked of their worries about a low pressure system that Ian Walker and his crew could tap into and make up some ground on the big cat. There will be many weather options over the next few days as the boats setup their path to Cape Horn and the race for some extra points is now on!

Current forecasts suggest that the fleet will have a rough rounding of Cape Horn.

Leg Five Day 27: 1600 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) DTF 4,001 nm
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +109
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +141
Green Dragon IRL/CHI (Ian Walker/GBR) +432
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +788

Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermudez/ESP) DNS
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) DNS
Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

Friday, 13 March 2009

WMRT: What a Difference a Day Makes


Adam Minoprio (NZL) from BlackMatch Racing. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.

by Dobbs Davis

Unlike yesterday’s brisk 35-knot Mistral conditions, deemed too breezy for sailing, Stage One Round Robin racing today has been postponed for an hour while PRO Gerard Bosse and his race management team have been awaiting the fill of a light northwesterly breeze.

While awaiting their turns in the rotation, we had a chance to catch up with the two youngest Card-holding teams on the Tour and their thoughts on strategy for this year’s Tour. Both are from the Antipodes, and both are led by skippers under age 24.

Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team and Adam Minoprio (NZL) and his ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing Team seemed relaxed while waiting in the Sailor’s Lounge of the YC Pointe Rouge. Unlike last year’s constant struggle to get invitations and the uncertainty of not knowing where they were going as late as a week prior to an event, these teams have now committed to compete in all nine World Tour events prior to the World Championship at the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia in December.

“It’s definitely easier for us this year,” said Mirsky, who hails from Perth. “We’re able to focus on training and finding sponsors rather than scrambling to get invitations to events. Last year we sailed in some 20 events both on and off the Tour, whereas this year we may sail at just one other.”

Minoprio agreed, saying his focus will remain on Tour events as well, though the next event for him will be in only two weeks when he and his team will be in Long Beach for the ISAF Grade 1 Congressional Cup.

“We want to do well on the Tour, so we’re also taking every opportunity we can to match race in other events to keep us sharp.”

World Match Racing Tour

Polish Star for 2012 Olympics

by Mateusz Kusznierewicz (summarised in translation)

Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominikiem Życkim have officially announced that they will campaign in the Star again for the 2012 London Olympics.

For reasons of budget, in the present global financial situation, they will use their existing boat for the campaign. Present sponsors are Mercedes-Benz Warsaw, Diners Club and Omega.

Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominikiem Życkim will commence with defending their World Championship victory.

If selected to compete in 2012, this will be Mateusz Kusznierewicz' fifth Olympic Games.

Mateusz Kusznierewicz

VOR: ERICSSON 3 LEG FIVE DAY 27 QFB: received 12.03.09 1049 GMT


Magnus Woxen trying to catch a rope, onboard Ericsson 3, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Gustav Morin

Pressure on

This is a tough leg, for sure. It is so complex. All aspects of yacht racing plays a big part and if one doesn't flow, it drags other parts down with it. It's about endurance, both physically and psychologically, about routines with food, sleep and hygiene and above all it's about the knowledge of sailing. How much you can push your crew and the boat. Also of course, skills in strategy, weather and navigation plays a huge part.

We have been doing well so far and are very happy to be where we are. At first we were not sure if we would manage to get to the start, but we put all the effort we could in making the boat ready to go, we sailed it shorthanded to China and started seven hours after the signal. And now, here we are working our guts out not to lose the lead we have been working so hard to get.

Our navigator’s choice to go north and catch on to a low pressure after the first scoring-gate paid off and today we passed the ice-gate a couple of hours before the second and third boat. Unfortunately being first to this gate doesn't give us any points and from here to the scoring-gate at Cape Horn it seems to be a bit of a restart.

We wished we would be able to hang on to the low a bit longer and catch a weather system the others would not be able to reach. Being in another system is probably the only way to get a secure lead, if you are in the same system you can quickly loose a couple of hundred miles. Depressing for the one in the lead but fun and exciting for the ones following the race and a hint of hope for the ones trying to make gains from the back of the fleet. Unfortunately we dropped out of the low and lost a lot of pace so the others have been able to make depressingly big gains on us.

Today we have been in what every sailor would call a "shit fight". We have constantly been sailing in less breeze than the others and right after the ice-gate we stopped completely for a while. Loosing up to 50 miles in one sched is not fun.

Here is when the psyche kicks in. We are all pretty bruised, battered and tired after 26 days of racing, 29 days if you count from Taiwan. We also have some flu going on, which can really bring the performance down. The more tired you get, the easier it is to make mistakes and the more mistakes you make the more you lose and the mood onboard gets bad.

So far we are doing good. We are hanging on to the "E3-spirit" and get up after each punch. But as the days get colder and our opponents get closer, everything will get harder.

This leg is a tough one, for sure.

Volvo Ocean Race

Audi Etchells Worlds 2009: Day 4 - Bertrand regains control – Muir keeping him honest


Day 4: John Bertrand and crew at the front of the fleet. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

by Di Pearson

John Bertrand and his crew of Ben Ainslie and Andrew Palfrey (AUS) have reclaimed the 2009 Audi Etchells World Championship lead today on Port Phillip in a thrilling Race 6 finish with Graeme Taylor/Ben Morrison-Jack/Grant Wharington (AUS), who won the race, Bertrand having to tack to lay the finish and having no alternative but to follow Taylor’s stern over the finish line.

Taylor led around every mark in big 16-24 knot winds, until just before the final leeward mark, when Bertrand gained control of the race. However, coming up the beat to the finish on the windward leeward course, Bertrand was to the left of the course, Taylor closer to the middle. It was not until the final seconds that a clear picture of who would win emerged, such was the closeness of the race.


Graeme Taylor and crew won Race 6. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

Bertrand was third around the windward mark the first time, but moved up into second place by the first leeward gate, which he maintained until taking the lead at the last leeward mark.

“We went for a pretty conservative start and worked the right-hand side of the course. We worried we wouldn’t get out of where we were, but the wind went right,” said Bertrand’s crew, Andrew Palfrey.

“We made gains on the downwind legs and I think we were lucky to get solid winds. We thought it would be light and shifty like it’s been since the start of the series,” said Palfrey, adding: The Queensland guys (main rivals Jason Muir and crew) are sailing great.”

Palfrey went on to say: “I feel privileged to be sailing with these guys (Bertrand and Ainslie). It’s a unique experience and I’m really enjoying the competition and the challenge.”


Stuart Childerley and crew from the UK. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

British sailor Stuart Childerley, winner of the 2001 and 2002 Etchells Worlds, finished the race in third place, just behind Taylor and Bertrand. This result moves Childerley and his crew; Robert Elliott and Sam Richmond, up to third place overall, 15 points off the lead, in what is set to be a thrilling end of series to decide the winner.

Yesterday’s overall leader, Jason Muir/Matthew Chew/Paul Wyatt/Bucky Smith (AUS) sailed to their usual consistent standard to finish fourth, a matter of seconds behind the top three.

Muir and his crew from Queensland are sailing an exceptional Championship and are now sitting comfortably in second place on the leaderboard, just five points short of leader Bertrand, after competitors were able to drop their worst race score after Race 6.

They have sailed the most consistently of the entire fleet to-date, their worst score a 10th. Muir says: “That was the plan from Day 1, to sail consistently, cleanly and conservatively.”


Jeff Rose got his 'Second Wind' on Day 4. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

However, those plans will go up a notch in the next couple of days. “We’ll run our own race in Race 7 tomorrow and look at the top five overall after that.

“In races eight and nine we’ll sail more aggressively and will keep an eye on John Bertrand, Jud Smith (AUS), Stuart Childerley (GBR) and a couple of others.

“If it comes down to the last race between Bertrand and us, then yes, we will hunt them aggressively, because that’s the only way we’ll win.”

Muir went on to say: “We’re stoked with our fourth place today. It’s got us in second place overall. Bucky (Smith) is great with weather and he’ll have that side of things covered for the rest of the Championship.”

Eighty five boats started today’s race, Tim Patton and his Bermudan crew did not compete. Along with three other crews, skippered by Bruce McBriar (AUS), Martin Vezina (BER) and Guyon Wilson (AUS) Patton failed to weigh in as required by the rules.


David Clark and crew sailed to a solid sixth place on Day 4. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

Jud Smith’s crew, sailing for Australia, fell down the leaderboard into fifth overall today, following a 16th place; their second worst for the Audi Etchells Worlds so far, while Race 4 second placegetter Laurence Mead (GBR) moved up into fourth place overall in what is shaping up to be rousing finale come Saturday.

Three others, Rob Brown (AUS), Mark Bradford (AUS) and Dan O’Grady (IRL) were Black Flagged on the second attempt at a start after an earlier general recall.

Brown explained his BFD: “We wanted to start at the Committee Boat because the breeze was flicking and we wanted to go at the start bow down. Skip Lissiman and Jason Muir were there and I didn’t want to upset their start, so I tacked early and struggled to get over the clearance mark and that was the end of our day.”

Although the forecast was for light breeze and showers today, the true picture was nothing of the sort. Sunny skies and good solid winds which shuffled the results up a bit in the Royal Brighton Yacht Club hosted event.

Competitors agree that the Race Management team, headed by PRO Ross Wilson, are doing a remarkable job. The team has had a tough job setting courses and moving marks in oscillating winds. Today was difficult as the course was about to be laid when the wind shifted to the north and so it was up stumps in winds that varied between 16-22 knots, the pressure dropping down to 16 as the race went on, the breeze oscillating either side of north throughout.

Three races remain in the nine race series, with two races scheduled for tomorrow and one for Saturday, both days starting from 12.00pm.


Trawling for fish in Port Phillip Bay: something 'Sinister' is happening on Rob Goddard's 'Ragtime' from Cowes. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

Provisional Results after 6 Races:
Place - Crew - Nationality - Individual race results (with discard) - (Total) and net points

1 BERTRAND, John/PALFREY, Andrew/AINSLIE, Ben (AUS) 3,11,1,(86)BFD,4,2 (107) 21pts
2 MUIR, Jason/CHEW, Matthew/WYATT, Paul/SMITH, Bucky (AUS) (10),5,5,7,5,4 (36) 26pts
3 CHILDERLEY, Stuart/ELLIOTT, Robert/RICHMOND, Sam (GBR) 4,(59),3,11,15,3 (95) 36pts
4 MEAD, Laurence/LAWRENCE, Phil /YATES, Andrew (GBR) 7,(53),9,2,12,14 (97) 44pts
5 SMITH, Judd/JOHNSON, Mark/BURFOOT, Nik (AUS) (18),13,4,13,1,16 (65) 47pts
6 BUSCH, Chris/HOUGH, Chad/SINKS, Chuck/HUGHES, David (USA) 2,(60),2,6,32,7 (109) 49pts
7 KING, Damien/CUNNINGTON, Simon/WARE, James/BUTLER, Andrew (AUS) 15,3,23,(38),3,8 (90) 52pts
8 CLARK, David/SMITH, Andrew/LEONARD, Sean (AUS) 1,(48),11,20,27,6 (113) 65pts
9 GARNER, Brendan/SCHILT, Michael/CLARK, Tim (AUS) 17,28,10,10,2,(38) (105) 67pts
10 DRENNAN, Noel/JARVIN, Steven/MCCARTHY, William (AUS) 21,1,20,5,(24),23 (94),70pts

Audi Etchells Worlds 2009

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 27 QFB: received 12.03.09 0551 GMT

by Simon Fisher

Outside it feels like it has been raining all morning. Everywhere around us is an expanse of grey nothingness apart from the occasional bird or sea mammal that threatens to stray into our path.

We had another slow night last night as we battle with this ridge of high pressure which is now separating us from the rest of the fleet and ruining our chances of catching up. However we are all working hard to stay positive and keep ourselves entertained.

The mood on board is pretty interesting to be honest, as we all swing between lamenting the desperate situation we are in and trying to stay positive and happy and keep moral up. The good thing is that most of the time we are laughing and the more we fall behind the more we seem to laugh at stupid stuff.

This morning an innocent attempt at filming Gabri Olivo (MCM) preparing some food rapidly turned into a feature with full camera crew, lighting men and cameo roles from a few members of the crew which had us all rolling around in stitches as Gabri attempted to prepare lunch on film.

Perhaps we are all going crazy or maybe this sort of stuff is what is keeping us sane. I guess we will have to wait until Rio to find out, when 11 wild eyed, hairy unshaven blokes step off the boat and back into civilization after over a month at sea!

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 4 LEG FIVE DAY 27 QFB: received 12.03.09 0723 GMT


Tony Mutter and Stu Bannatyne on board Ericsson 4. Image copyright Guy Salter/Ericsson 4/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Horacio Carabelli (trimmer)

Another day at work, getting pretty chilly out there as we move south in the Pacific.

We passed the second ice gate so another milestone done for us and now we are free to go where we want to the Horn. The gamblers seem to be having some new chances as weather is not clearly defined until the famous Cape and several routes can be in play now. Jules (Jules Salter – navigator) and Torben (Torben Grael – skipper) are scratching their heads as new opportunities arise for us.

Wind has dropped in the last hours and our speed consequently, so some sail changes have been handled during the day, something not so easy in the cold as you have all your gear and good gloves on.

Regards food department some new Chinese delicatessen has been showing up as promised by the food managers. We already had meat sticks and square pig pieces that would have been difficult to give even to my dog.

The new product is a dry meat that looks like it has hair on it; it even has a cow on its wrapper. It looks like a dead rat somehow dried!! Looks like this new snack is in all bags to Rio, so I’ll skip this delicatessen from the Chinese’s gastronomy!!
In terms of life around us, not too much. Not even the Albatrosses have been around, only a few curious ones that, by the way, have quite fat bodies. From below the sea all we have seen was the shark that ended bent over our fin keel and obliged us to make a back down a day ago.

We are all looking forward to passing the Cape and arriving in Rio, but time seems to be gaining on us as we move in a more upwind mode.

The Buzios (small stones used to guess the future in Brazil) have been thrown; let's see what ends up in our hands for the next hours, days, weeks....

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG FIVE DAY 27 QFB: received 12.03.09 0430 GMT


Rough seas onboard Green Dragon, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Ian Walker (skipper)

We have had a tough time watching the guys ahead pile on the miles as they have ridden a weather system we couldn't get to. We have been patient, positioned ourselves well and now it should be our turn for a while.

The weather ahead is very uncertain and should provide lots of opportunity for those behind to narrow the deficit.

I think any sailor should be nervous about rounding Cape Horn and I am no exception.

It is pretty cold on deck and down below but it could be a lot worse. The guys are in good form and enjoying the downwind sailing.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 27 QFB: received 12.03.09 0504 GMT

by Bouwe Bekking (skipper)

We have had torrential rain the entire day, and not much breeze. High pressure systems bring back home clear blue skies, but here it seems always the opposite.

Right now the breeze is dropping further, only seven knots of breeze left, painful and raining even harder. The guys on deck look like soaked cats, and since the wind is stable in direction, one of the watch members can sit down below in the entrance of the cabin and at least stay dry for a bit.

I think this is one of the first watches that more than one on deck is feeling a bit colder. Still 700 miles to go to the second ice waypoint and with these speeds at least another three days to go. From there on it looks like healthy pressure going to the Horn.

We passed this morning a big group of pilot whales, who didn’t show any interest in us, but for us it was good to see something else, than just the grey skies.

We had today a day were we followed our media man in the galley and on deck. But when we reviewed the video, we all burst out in laughing. The most important shot was taken in the kitchen and faced aft. But in the corner of the picture a big white butt was to be seen. David was giving his buttocks a treatment with sudacreme, and of course didn’t know that he was in the shot. The stand in camera man didn’t realise he had David’s bum in the shot either. Of course it will be unusable for usage on the weekly TV programme, but it gave us a good laugh. Good that Gabry (Gabry Olivo MCM) can take on his normal duties again.

We gave our fuel situation a good look and it seems alright, even that we most likely spend more days on the water than ever expected. Food shouldn’t be an issue either and we have enough gas to keep cooking warm meals and prepare hot drinks.
As I type, breeze has dropped to a mere four knots, boatspeed 3.5 knots, did we deserve this? I guess so.

Volvo Ocean Race

New Sailing Games Book



by Zoe Hawkins

Yachting New Zealand has produced a brand new Sailing Games book. The book is a collection of forty fun games to improve skills and knowledge, ten for on shore and thirty for on the water.

This fully illustrated book is a great tool for coaches and loads of fun for parents and sailors. It also makes a great birthday present or gift for another occasion.

These games can be played in all types of boats from dinghies to windsurfers, catamarans to keelboats, and many of the games can be played with as few as two boats. It’s not just for kids either; these games are great for beginners to seasoned racers.

This book is available from Yachting New Zealand and is only $16.99 plus postage. See the “Store” section of the YNZ website (click the link below)

Each Yacht Club has been sent a complimentary copy of the book; these should arrive at your club this week, so get hold of it, take a look and try it out!

Yachting New Zealand

Ten Sailors Nominated for 2009 NZL Yachting Trust Youth Team

by Zoe Hawkins

Yachting New Zealand is delighted to announce the team that will represent New Zealand at the 39th Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships in Buzios, Brazil, in July this year.

Often described as a forerunner to Olympic success, the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships is an event in which New Zealand has a successful record, securing second place overall on the nations ranking list in 2008, and third overall in 2007.

Sailing in the Boys Double Handed Dinghy are Logan Dunning-Beck and Ben Goodwin. Goodwin has already represented New Zealand twice at the ISAF Youth Worlds, in both the Hobie 16 and the 29er. This is his first year at this event in a 420, a class that is a natural predecessor to the Olympic 470, in which New Zealand is traditionally very strong.

Alexandra Maloney and Bianca Barbarich-Bacher have teamed up for the Girls Double Handed Dinghy division. As top female sailor in the 2007 Optimist World Championships, and third overall, Alexandra has already succeeded on the world stage, and with Bianca has proven a very worthy opponent to some of the country’s most successful junior and senior sailors. In 2008 they narrowly missed achieving a bronze medal in the 29er class at the ISAF Worlds in Denmark and Brazil will be an opportunity for them to prove their point.

Sam Meech (pictured) will have an opportunity to improve on the Bronze medal he won at the same event last year in the Boys Single Handed Division. There is a slight twist however; this year he will compete in the Laser Radial instead of the Standard rigged version of this craft. His counterpart in the Girl’s event is Rachel Basevi, with Ben Mackay in the Boys Windsurfer, and Lucy Driver in the Girls Windsurfer event. James Turner and Marcus Hansen will compete in the Hobie 16 class.

“This year’s team consists of a credible group of young sailors, who I feel will do themselves proud at the ISAF Youth Worlds,” said Yachting New Zealand’s High Performance & Youth Director, Marty Watson.

“We will field sailors in every division, and this shows great depth of talent,” says Watson. “I hope that all will emerge from the event triumphant, but my first wish is that their experiences are positive and will lead to them following their dreams in the sport of sailing.”

Winners from all youth class national championship events were considered for selection for the 2009 NZL Yachting Trust Youth Team.

The 2009 NZL Yachting Trust Youth Team is supported by the NZL Yachting Trust, ASB and Line 7, three organisations that have supported sailing stars past and present over many years.

Yachting New Zealand

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Sebastien Col will start Racing Thursday in the Marseille International Match Race


A strong mistral off Marseille prevented racing on day one of the Marseille International Match Race 2009. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.

by Stephanie Nadin

The wind was too strong Wednesday (25-30 knots) to start racing as planned in the Round Robin of the 2009 World Match Racing Tour's first event. The Marseilles International Match Race's Race Committee decided to postpone the first races till tomorrow.

Before getting into the action, Sebastien Col comes back on the work he's been doing with his crew as they star the 2009 season, their methode and how they've been working towards this first event in Marseille:

Sebastien Col: “we have pushed the team during the two days of training, in order to see how we were getting along together in typical match racing situations that are difficult to manage. We realized that we still had a lot to put in place in terms of decision process and communications. There is no improvisation, so we will use this event to get more powerful. We are in a new configuration, we need to give Pascal some time to get started with us, and we won't be too aggressive. I wanted to push the team these two last days, and I think we are not 100% ready yet.

"We are going to start the event in a conservative way, so that we will improve step by step during the regatta. I mean that if we have the opportunity to lead a race, we will not look for a close situation or be aggressive with our opponent; we will prefer to play our game, our wind, our place on the race course, while trying not to get into tacking duels.

"The goal is not to find ourselves in situations where we have to make quick decisions because we are too close to our opponent. We will want to open the game, and take the time to make the right decisions. We will minimize the crossings, decision makings during a match, as for now we don't have an ideal process yet to make a decision in 30 seconds. We need 40 or 50. And we will take the time.

"It is the first event of the World Match Racing Tour, the first big one with Pascal too, and we don't have a result target here. The goal of this regatta is to finish the event with the maximum number of matches to reveal what we need to work on specifically in the coming months, and that we will be able to reinforce for the Congressional Cup and during the trainings with the French match racing team.”

Tomorrow the racing starts in the South bay of Marseille!

Sebastien Col
World Match Racing Tour

Audi Etchells Worlds 2009: Day 3 - Muir new leader; Britain has a go


Day 3 produced new championship leaders: Jason Muir, Matthew Chew, Paul Wyatt and Bucky Smith, from Queensland. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

by Di Pearson

Going into Race 4 at the 2009 Audi Etchells World Championship today, John Bertrand and his Olympic crew had a handy five point lead – then came the oops – after a general recall, the race committee brought the dreaded Black Flag into play, meaning any boats that broke the start were immediately disqualified from the race – and that is what happened to Bertrand, leaving the field wide-open for the other 84 entrants.

A new series leader emerged, as Jason Muir/Matthew Chew/Paul Wyatt/Bucky Smith (AUS) seventh and fifth places in Races 4 and 5 today were enough to leap-frog them over crew Bertrand who, despite their fourth place in Race 5, have dropped down to 14 place overall, scoring 86 points for their Black Flag.

However, crews are able to drop their worst race once six races have been put to bed, so Bertrand and crew are still the ones to watch, and were the drop used today, he would be back in first place by three points. Having said that, crew Muir has quietly sailed the most consistent series of any team, their worst score so far a 10th place. Consistency counts for plenty at a world class event such as the Audi Etchells Worlds.


Lining up for the start. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

Muir, whose entire crew comes from Queensland, commented today: “We came here wanting to finish in the top 10, we thought that would be realistic and we didn’t want to put pressure on ourselves.”

The 36 year-old Brisbane skipper suffered two bulging discs in his back in 12 weeks ago, so has been unable to put in the practice he would have liked to prior to these Worlds.

“We were a crew of three until that happened, and then we brought in Bucky Smith three weeks ago – he’s been sensational. Now we are making sure to sail consistently. We play the numbers a lot. Our starts haven’t been that good, but we’ve been able to find a gap and get into a clear lane each time.” Muir said after scoring seventh and fifth places this afternoon.

In good, steady 9-10 knot south-easterly breeze, it was a free-for-all with Bertrand out of the way, and the lead kept changing up the first beat of the two-lap windward leeward course two of the Royal Brighton Yacht Club hosted series.

Two new players emerged at the first windward mark – both of them from Cowes in Britain - Rob Goddard/Anthony Thackray/Guy McGregor were first around, followed by Laurence Mead/Phil Lawrence/Andrew Yates – and that is how it panned out for the rest of the race, despite the close racing that had spectators holding their collective breaths.


Close racing at its best. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

Goddard commented after racing: “The wind was pretty stable and we went hard left, then we tacked to the right and the wind shifted three to four degrees and lifted us up over Laurence (Mead). Once we took the lead, we pretended it was just the two boats in the race and forgot about everyone else, so as not to get psyched.

“We hiked liked we’d never hiked before after that – I have very sore muscles to prove it,” said Goddard who confessed this was his first Worlds race win after contesting two previous Championships.

Mead’s crew, Phil Lawrence, responded tongue in cheek: “They were lucky lefties today!” In fact his crew are the lucky ones, their second place shifting them up to seventh overall. The next best placed British boat is that of 2001 and 2002 Etchells world title winner, Stuart Childerley, in ninth place overall.

“On the second beat we went to the port side mark, got a little shift and thought we’d beaten Rob (Goddard), but they got us by around 5 metres,” Lawrence, from Lymington said.

Kirwan Robb/Breehn McCraken/Rodney Muller/James Thompson (AUS) rounded the first mark in fourth place, but moved into third place down the run and was never headed. Meanwhile, Bertrand sailed up the left side of the course behind the fleet, checking wind and angles in preparation for Race 5 and stayed well clear of the fleet.

While the top three dominated the race, there was a fair bit of movement and change throughout the rest of the fleet, but it was in this race that Geelong sailor Brendan Garner (AUS), ninth overall coming into today’s racing, repeated his 10th place finish of yesterday to become a serious contender for the title.

Garner and his crew of Michael Schilt and Tim Clark got their confidence into gear and came out with good pace in Race 5. To begin with, the 9-10 knot breeze was at 170 degrees, but just over halfway up the first beat, there was a 10 degree shift to the south, catching many boats on the wrong side of the course and forcing officials to move the windward mark to make for fair and clean racing.


The approaching storm never materialised. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

The Geelong crew held together to round the first windward and leeward marks in first place, but Jud Smith/Mark Johnson/Nik Burfoot (AUS) mowed them down by the time they got to the windward mark for the second time.

From there, Smith put his foot to the pedal to lead around the rest of the course, Garner hung on to finish second on the 2.1 nautical mile leg course, which was shortened to 1.7nm for the run to the finish.

On coming ashore, American Jud Smith, who qualified in Sydney to sail for Australia, commented: “We had no massive plan. We went to the port gate the second time and led from there. We weren’t trying to do anything fancy, we were just trying to sail cleanly.

“We’re happy we haven’t blown ourselves up yet,” said Smith. His crew, Johnson (from Sydney) and Burfoot (a New Zealander living in Sydney) agreed and are happy to be sitting in second place overall, 17 points behind series leader Jason Muir. Garner has moved up to third place.


Ben Ainslie on the foredeck of John Bertrand's entry after race 4. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

More movement on the board as Noel Drennan/Steve Jarvin/Will McCarthy (AUS) move up one place into fourth overall, despite a 24th in Race 5.

The nine race series continues tomorrow with Race 6 to be sailed starting from 2.00pm, weather permitting. Once crews have put six races away, they are able to drop their worst score.

As expected, there have been many protests keeping the jury busy. The details can be found on the official Championship website.

The Audi Etchells World Championship, being sailed on Port Phillip Bay, is organised by the Melbourne Etchells Fleet in conjunction with the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, host of many Etchells championships, including the Nationals in 2006.

Provisional top 10 Day 3 following five races:

1 MUIR, Jason/CHEW, Matthew/WYATT, Paul/SMITH, Bucky (AUS) 10,5,5,7,5 32pts
2 SMITH, Jud/JOHNSON, Mark/BURFOOT, Nik (AUS) 18,13,4,13,1 49pts
3 GARNER, Brendan/SCHILT, Michael/CLARK, Tim (AUS) 17,28,10,10,2 67pts
4 DRENNAN, Noel/JARVIN, Steven/MCCARTHY, William (AUS) 2,11,20,5,24 71pts
5 JOHNSON, Ian/WALKER, Ian/EDE, Timothy (AUS) 20,10,33,8,10 81pts
6 KING, Damien/CUNNINGTON, Simon/WARE, James/BUTLER, Andrew (AUS) 15,3,23,38,3 82pts
7 MEAD, Laurence/LAWRENCE, Phil/YATES, Andrew (GBR) 75,3,9,2,12 83pts
8 TILLY, Jervis/NATTRASS, Nigel/ARNOLD, James (AUS) 22,7,14,29,18 90pts
9 CHILDERLEY, Stuart/ELLIOTT, Robert/RICHMOND, Sam (GBR) 4,59,3,11,15 92pts
10 BULKA, Mark/YOUNG, Steve/RYSENBEEK, James (AUS) 14,29,19,24,7 93pts

Audi Etchells Worlds 2009