Saturday 9 August 2008

Finn: Dan Slater underway

Dan Slater has a close tussle with Polish Finn sailor, Rafal Szukiel, the early class leader in Qingdao. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann, Go4Image

SailRaceWin is grateful to Juerg Kaufmann and Go4Image for exclusive provision of images of the 2008 Olympic Sailing Regatta.
by Jodie Bakewell-White

Racing commenced at the 2008 Olympic Sailing Regatta today in Qingdao, China. Kiwi Dan Slater was on the water in the 26 strong heavyweight dinghy class – the Finn.

Slater sits in 22nd place overall at the end of day one after placing 21st and then 19th in today’s challenging light air conditions. While Slater didn’t perhaps return the results he was looking for on day one – the experienced Kiwi will know that it is early days for the Finn fleet with a further five days of racing over the coming week.

Rafal Szukiel of Poland has the overall lead after the first two races of the eleven race series, with one of the youngest in the fleet, Zach Railey of the USA, holding second place in the standings. Hot favourite Ben Ainslie lies third.


Slater opened his Olympic campaign with a 21st place in a light wind race which tested the most seasoned of Finn sailors.

After one delayed start due to lack of wind the first race of the 2008 Games got underway at around 1:30pm local time in a south easterly breeze of around six knots which fell away to four knots as the race concluded. Hoegh-Christensen of Denmark took the early lead rounding mark one first, but the formidable force of Ben Ainslie took over the lead soon after.

Ainslie looked for much of the opener like he was going to start with a bullet, but the race was somewhat turned on it’s head in the final leg and the gold medal favourite representing Great Britain let nine boats slip past him to finish 10th.

When asked what happened Ainslie explained, “The wind just shut down. There was quite a big shift, and when you’ve got the tide against you like that. The separation between the boats was so much that a shift like that makes a huge difference. There were nine or ten boats that came from the other side and passed me – there were quite a few place changes going on.”

It was 35 year old Emilios Papathanasiou of Greece who took the gun in the first race, scooping victory on the last leg and starting his fourth Olympic Games in dream fashion.


Race two for the Finns was started around 3:10pm off Qingdao, the south easterly breeze sitting at around six knots.

Ben Ainslie fought back to join the leading pack after rounding mark one in 10th place in the second race of the regatta, and managed to go on and secure a win ahead of Szukiel of Poland.

Provisional Top Five Overall Standings after day one

1st POL Rafal Szukiel - 5 points (3, 2)
2nd USA Zach Railey - 7 points (2, 5)
3rd GBR Charles Benedict Ainslie - 11 points (10, 1)
4th CAN Christopher Cook - 11 points (8, 3)
5th FRA Guillaume Florent - 13 points (5, 8)

22nd NZL Dan Slater - 40 points (21, 19)

Yachting New Zealand

ISAF Olympic website Day One results Clicking on a race gives more information on weather, course and mark rounding positions.

Olympics Guide 2008 - New Zealand Sailors

Pepper and Williams at the 2008 Star Worlds. Image copyright Fried Elliott

by SailRaceWin

Yachting New Zealand has produced an excellent guide to the NZ Olympic Sailing Team, the race schedule and the venue. New Zealand is represented in seven of the eleven sailing events, the Finn, Laser, Laser Radial, 470 Men, RS:X Men, RS:X Women and Star class. The youngest New Zealand sailing competitors are Carl Evans and Peter Burling (470 Men) aged 17, and the oldest is Olympic veteran Barbara Kendall (RS:X Women) at 40 years of age.

The RYA's Olympic 'runners and riders' guide picks Ainslie (GBR), Jonas Hoegh-Christensen (DEN) and Kiwi Dan Slater as the top prospects in the Finn. In the Laser, Paul Goodison (GBR) and Tom Slingsby (AUS) are their top picks, with Kiwi Andrew Murdoch and Gustavo Lima (POR) also mentioned. Favourites in the Laser Radial are Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) and Xu Lijia (CHN), who have been consistent top performers in the class. The RYA's view of the 470 Men is that Nick Roger and Jo Glanfield (GBR) are likely to fight for Gold with Nathan Wilmot and Malcolm Page (AUS). In the Star, Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) are forecast to clean up, with Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominic Zycki (POL) and the Kiwi team of Hamish Pepper (described as a 'wily old fox') and Carl Williams also mentioned as a 'formidable pairing'. Bryony Shaw (GBR)'s main competition in the Women's RS:X windsurfer is expected by the RYA to come from Marina Alabau (ESP) and New Zealand's Barbara Kendall. Mention in the RS:X Men, alongside Brit Nick Dempsey, is made of Joao Rodrigues (POR), winner of the 2008 European Championships.

On 7th August 2008, Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport did not predict any Kiwi sailing medals from Qingdao, but anticipated 5 medals for Italy and 4 medals each for the UK and Australia. Their favourites in New Zealand's Olympic classes are Ben Ainslie (GBR), Ivan Gaspic (CRO) and Rafael Villar (ESP) in the Finn; Tom Slingsby (AUS), Paul Goodison (GBR) and Rasmus Myrgren (SWE) in the Laser; Xu Lijia (CHN), Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) and Sari Multala (FIN) in the Laser Radial; Wilmot and Page (AUS), Zandona and Trani (ITA) and Rogers and Glanfield (GBR) in the 470 Men; Ricardo Santos (BRA), Shahar Zubari (ISR) and Zhou Yuanguo (CHN) in the RS:X Men; Alessandro Sensini (ITA), Yin Jian (CHN) and Marina Alabau (ESP) in the RS:X Women; and, finally, Scheidt and Prada (BRA), Negri and Viale (ITA) and Marazzi and De Maria (SUI) in the Star class.

SailRaceWin's tip for the best chance of an NZ sailing medal is Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams in the small (16 boat) but ultra-competitive Star boat class, followed by Dan Slater in the Finn dinghy, who finished second in this year's Finn Gold Cup (the Finn dinghy World Championships). Would-be medallists Sharon Ferris and her Yngling crew were not nominated to the NZ Olympic team, although medal slots in this class, aside from the British entry, are probably more open than in many other sailing classes at the 2008 Games. All the New Zealand sailors are capable of winning medals at the Olympics; whether or not they come home with a medal is more a question of who they are up against from other, equally determined, nations, and how things go on the day.

Gold Star, Pepper is a former Star World champion and his team's performances have been consistently at the top of the fleet, despite the presence of two-time Gold and one-time Silver (Laser) Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt (Brazil), current Star World Champion (and Finn bronze medallist) Mateusz Kusznierewicz (Poland), and other top Star sailors, such as Xavier Rohart (France), Fredrik Loof (Sweden), and Diego Negri (Italy).

The Olympics are a regatta apart and it is useful to have previous experience of both the ambience and length of the regatta. Sailors are used to being with friends from their own class at regattas, but at the Olympics they are embedded in national teams and a mix of boats. There are fewer sailors from each class, as only one boat from each nation can compete, if that nation has qualified for the Olympics, and the number of boats in each class is far smaller than at most events on the international circuit. There are also more races for each class than at most international events, so the competition is more intensive and longer lasting, requiring a high degree of both physical and mental stamina from the sailors. Demands from the media, etc, are regulated by team personnel, but such pressures exist at a higher level than in most events, alongside team contributions/feedback, day-to-day sailing preparation and general living requirements (food, drink, sleep).

Whilst many sailors, such as Russell Coutts in the Finn dinghy in 1984, strike Gold at their first attempt, many others improve to this level, either from medals of another metal or from lower down the rankings, at subsequent Olympics. The value of having been at an Olympic regatta before, in terms of improving subsequent performance, cannot be underestimated; neither can the value of having had the Gold experience, knowing the feeling and what it takes to make that winning formula. The UK's Ben Ainslie is probably the most certain tip for a Gold medal (in the Finn) at the 2008 Olympics in Qingdao.

The venue and conditions (wind, currents, sea state and weed) have the potential to make Qingdao a unique sailing Olympics, as do the regatta terms, which provide for the possibility of a result from just one race, to the advent of a final medal race for just the top ten competitors if the full schedule of races is held.

Check for updates on ISAF's website, the official 2008 Olympic sailing website and YachtingNZ's website. TVOne will carry televised coverage of the Olympics in New Zealand, which will be accessible online too. The time difference between the Olympic sailing venue and New Zealand means that at the daily scheduled race start time of 1pm it will be 5pm in New Zealand, as New Zealand is four hours behind the time zone of the sailing venue, Qingdao, China.

New Zealand's Olympic Sailing Representatives 2008

Laser: Andrew Murdoch
Laser Radial: Jo Aleh
Finn: Dan Slater
470 Men: Carl Evans and Peter Burling
RS:X Men: Tom Ashley
RS:X Women: Barbara Kendall
Star: Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Alinghi win Cowes - TeamOrigin lead iShares Cup overall

Alinghi, Winners in Cowes: (left to right) Lorenzo Mazza (ITA), Pieter van Nieuwenhuyzen (NED), Ed Baird (USA) and Rodney Ardern (NZL). Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

by iSharesCup/OC Event media

Alinghi finished 2nd in the final double points race today, enough to secure victory ahead of TeamOrigin. However, Greenhalgh and crew (TeamOrigin) retain the Overall iShares Cup Extreme 40 Series title at the halfway point of the European series. Holmatro sailed brilliantly to hang on to 3rd place in Cowes today. The BMW Oracle Racing teams finished fourth (Cammas) and fifth (Spithill) at Cowes.

Alinghi win round 3 of the iShares Cup at Skandia Cowes Week. Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

America’s Cup Defenders Alinghi opened today in front, but it was another America’s Cup team, the third placed BMW Oracle Racing skippered by James Spithill, which got things off to a flying start today by taking the first four race wins – was the scoreboard set for another shake up?

Alinghi were back in the pack on the first lap of races two and three, rounding mark one back in 9th position at one stage. But they kept a cool head to pick off several boats on each leg, scoring consistant fourth, fifth and sixth places to keep their nose in front overall.

TeamOrigin on the final day of racing in Cowes. Image copyright Mark Lloyd.

As expected TeamOrigin were putting in a spirited fight, splitting to the opposite sides of the racecourse to their Alinghi rivals and scoring a string of second and third places to take second overall and eat away at Alinghi’s lead — at one point there were just four points in it. Alinghi came back strongly in the penultimate race — taking a brave port tack approach to the start line they led the race from start to finish, extending their advantage on the leaderboard.

Extreme 40 fleet on the final day of racing at Cowes. Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

Going into the final race there were seven points in it — and with double scores available TeamOrigin could still get in front. Alinghi went for a port tack start, while TeamOrigin hit the line at speed. Alinghi chased TeamOrigin’s tail right around the course, but while TeamOrigin held on to win it was Alinghi who had done enough to take the event overall.

“We’re thrilled,” said skipper Ed Baird on the dock after racing. “These kind of conditions were a bit beyond what we’ve experienced before and so we’ve been learning in every race trying to figure it out, it was pretty hairy! All the teams were having their moments where they had a little trouble, but these guys did great and I’m really excited that we were able to hang in there and get the points we needed.

“It’s been a tough series. It’s been a lot of fun — and it’s a lot more fun when you come out in front — but we really learned a lot today. We were definitely taking it easy, trying to be as conservative as we could.“

Alinghi on the race track on the final day of racing in Cowes. Images copyright Mark Lloyd.

The windward mark took two more scalps today, with JP Morgan Asset Management first to come to grief in race two. Skippered by Paul Campbell-James for the day, as Shirley Roberson headed to Beijing for a spot of commentating, the team were right on the pace in the leading pack when they capsized dramatically during the bear away, the boat rapidly inverting and breaking the rig. On the next round of the second lap it was Franck Cammas’s turn to flip, turning over BMW Oracle Racing — for the second time in this regatta — at the bear away. This time the crew were able to quickly right the boat and rejoin the day’s racing. [See images in report below.]

“We created the iShares Cup to be something different and the ‘crash and burn’ racing we’ve seen is exactly the kind of product we hoped for!” said Event Director Gilles Chiorri of the action-packed UK regatta. “It’s designed to deliver exciting and action-packed racing to the public and take close-quarter sailing to another level. There is a very efficient pit-lane so all the boats that want to race are out there the next day, it’s part of the game. The sailors who race these boats love it exactly because it is so close and exciting, and they are more then well equipped to cope with the drama.

“The iShares Cup has attracted a whole new audience enthralled by the entertainment and intense competition the Extreme 40 fleet can deliver time and time again. The thrills and spills of this kind of racing have grabbed the attention of everyone following the iShares Cup at Skandia Cowes Week – long may it continue!”

Video of Day 3 of the iShares Cup at Cowes, including both capsizes and the re-righting of Cammas' (borrowed) BMW Oracle Racing Extreme 40.

TeamOrigin competing in the iShares Cup at Cowes. Image copyright Ian Roman/TeamOrigin.

In the five-stage iShares Cup Sailing Series, TeamOrigin are just one point ahead overall from Alinghi, with Holmatro — who took third at the UK event — up to third overall. The next — and penultimate — event of the iShares Cup takes place at Kiel in Germany, 29th-31st August.

Results at Cowes
(final place - boat - race finish positions - total points)

1. Alinghi 2-7-3-1-2-1-2-1-1-5-5-6-4-5-1-2 171pts
2. TeamOrigin 4-5-1-DNF-3-2-1-6-2-2-2-2-3-3-4-1 166pts
3. Holmatro 3-4-4-2-6-3-5-2-4-4-3-3-5-4-7-3 156pts
4. BMW Oracle Racing Cammas 1-1-2-DNF-4-4-3-4-3-3-6-DNF-2-2-3-5 147pts
5. BMW Oracle Racing Spithill 9-2-7-DNF-1-8-8-5-5-1-1-1-1-1-2-6 144pts
6. iShares 6-6-9-5-8-7-9-8-7-6-4-4-7-6-DNF-9 98pts
7. BT 10-9-8-RtdDamaged-7-5-4-3-7-DSQ-8-7-9-8-8-7 94pts (awarded redress)
8. Volvo Ocean Race RtdAfterFinish-8-10-6-DSQ-9-6-7-6-8-9-8-8-7-5-4 90pts
9. Oman Sail 5-3-5-4-DNF-DNS-DNS-DNS-DNS-DNS-10-5-6-9-6-8 74pts
10. JP Morgan Asset Management 8-10-6-3-5-6-7-DNF-9-7-7-DNF-DNS-DNS-DNS-DNS 62pts
12. Tommy Hilfiger DNC at Cowes 0pts

Overall Standings iShares Cup 2008

1. TeamOrigin 9-9-9 27pts
2. Alinghi 6-10-10 26pts
3. Holmatro 4-7-8 19pts
4. BT 8-5-5 18pts
5. JP Morgan Asset Management 10-4-3 17pts
6. Oman Sail 7-2-7 16pts
7. Volvo Ocean Race 2-8-4 14pts
8. iShares 5-3-6 14pts
9. Team Aqua 3-6-2 11pts
10. Tommy Hilfiger 0-1-0 1pt

iShares Cup

iShares Cup Cowes Final Day Update

BMW Oracle Racing Spithill on Day 2 of the iShares Cup at Cowes. Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

by SailRaceWin

There is just no stopping James Spithill's BMW Oracle Racing crew today. Counting the victory in the final race on Day 2, they now have a massive total of 5 successive race wins, after 14 of the now 16 scheduled races!

Something of an A and B fleet situation has developed throughout the racing, with the four AC team boats and Holmatro clearly in a league of their own. Alinghi has slipped down towards the bottom of the top five in race results today, so on overall points TeamOrigin are just four points behind them, with Holmatro a further three points adrift.

BMW Oracle Racing Cammas on Day 2 at Cowes. Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

BMW Oracle Racing Cammas are back racing - and have scored two second places to Spithill's victories in the last two races. Both the BMW Oracle Racing team boats are doing their best to claw up to their three main rivals (Alinghi, TeamOrigin and Holmatro) to get on the overall iShares Cup podium at Cowes. The final race today will score double points.

iShares Cup

Spithill to the Fore on Final Day of Cowes iShares Cup

BMW Oracle Racing Spithill sails in front of a cruise liner on the Solent on Day 2 of iShares Cup racing. Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

by SailRaceWin and iSharesCup/OC Event media

Newcomer to Cowes, James Spithill and his BMW Oracle Racing team crew seem to have found their feet towards the end of the competition. With mixed results on the first two days, they finished Day Two with a win and haven't given up 1st place since. They won both the first two races on Monday on the Solent, to make it three bullets in succession. Spithill appears to have got used to the short, steep chop and sailing an Extreme 40, bringing it all together to make a late challenge for an overall podium position. Undoubtedly the sunshine will have helped cheer the Australian's spirits, after two days of grey British skies.

The iShares Cup fleet are enjoying a sparkling Solent on Day 3, with all to play for halfway through the iShares Cup European series at Skandia Cowes Week — and the fleet can expect another challenging day with big conditions forecast – 15-18 knots forecast but likely to be more punchy with sea breeze affect, and again difficult lumpy waves that can so easily trip up these 40ft catamarans.

JP Morgan Asset Management capsize sequence on Day 3. Note the person falling backwards from the uppermost hull. Images copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

Capsize sequence of BMW Oracle Racing Cammas. Images copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

Again, on Day 3, the capsizes and other damage are back. In the second race on Monday both JPMorgan Asset Management (helmed by 49er sailor Paul Campbell-James today, as Shirley Robertson is en route for commentating at the Beijing Olympics) and BMW Oracle Racing Cammas capsized. The rig of JPMorgan has been broken. Cammas and crew have righted their boat with rig intact.

JP Morgan Asset Management on Day 2 with Shirley Robertson at the helm. Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

TeamOrigin moved into 3rd overall after the first race on Day 3, and the door of opportunity is widening. With the final race counting for double points it's still all to play for!

After 12 races, Alinghi lead with a total of 120 points, Holmatro and TeamOrigin are tied on 113 points, BMW Oracle Racing Cammas has 99 points and BMW Oracle Racing Spithill has 95 points.

“I’m just really excited about how my team is doing, they’re just so strong and it’s a pleasure to have them on board. Every time you need something extra they seem to keep finding it, so that’s fantastic,” said Alinghi skipper Ed Baird. “Being in the lead is definitely a nice place to be, and I wouldn’t trade with anybody right now!”

“We’re pretty happy to be between the America’s Cup teams at the moment,” said Holmatro skipper Andreas Hagara. The Dutch team survived a hair-raising near capsize yesterday, but they it all to play for today they won’t be reining back. “If you want to compete at the front of the fleet at this level, then you have to really push,” he said.

“There’s a lot at stake today but we can still get back in it with potentially up to eight races and a double points race for the last one,” said skipper Rob Greenhalgh, of TeamOrigin.

TeamOrigin ahead of BMW Oracle Racing Spithill on Day 2. Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

Before racing began off Cowes, Rob Greenhalgh warned that whoever won the UK regatta could win the iShares Cup series. So if Alinghi hold on here they could take control of the overall iShares Cup, and TeamOrigin can only cling to the top if they finish in the top two here at the UK round.

iShares Cup

Monday 4 August 2008

iShares Cup, Cowes, Day 2: Alinghi in the Driving Seat

Day 2 of iShares Cup racing off Cowes. Image copyrigt OnEdition/OC Events.

by iShares Cup/OC Event media

Racing has finished for Day 2 of the iShares Cup at Skandia Cowes Week with 6 races staged. The first casualty of the day was Oman Sail who returned to the dock with a broken tiller and damage to their back beam after a collision with Volvo Ocean Race. Alinghi have taken control of the UK round but only 1 point separates the teams of Holmatro, Franck Cammas' BMW Oracle Racing and TeamOrigin.

Alinghi in the lead on Day 2 of the iShares Cup off Cowes. Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

There were some exhausted looking crews at the end of Day 2 of the iShares Cup, after six grueling races were completed on another wet and wild day at Skandia Cowes Week.

The four America’s Cup teams present have so far dominated this UK leg of the iShares Cup, and today was no exception. After a brief delay for one of the many yacht fleets racing in Skandia Cowes Week to clear the course, it was James Spithill on BMW Oracle Racing who opening proceedings, followed home by event leaders Alinghi, series leaders TeamOrigin, and stablemate BMW Oracle Racing Cammas: the battle was on to see who would come out on top.

The two BMW Oracle Racing teams, with Cammas in a borrowed Ellen MacArthur Trust boat, race against each other on Day 2 of the iShares Cup off Cowes. Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

Racing was a little too close for some in the first race, with a collision between Oman Sail and Volvo Ocean Race, which left Oman Sail with damage to their tiller and a rudder, and Volvo Ocean Race wrapped around the leeward mark.

“I was looking forward at the jib and the first thing I knew was Mark [Bulkeley] shouting,” said Oman Sail skipper Pete Cumming of the incident, “He rolled off the windward side into the trampoline and the bowsprit missed his head by inches, so I dived onto the trampoline as well! The bowsprit cleared us and then there was a massive bang as their bow went into our back beam.” Oman were forced to call it a day after only one race with a broken tiller and damaged to the back beam but expect to be back racing tomorrow.

But the America’s Cup teams are also facing some tough competition from catamaran specialist Andreas Hagara on Holmatro, who has held on to second overall — just one point ahead of BMW Oracle Racing Cammas, with TeamOrigin just point further behind. Andreas Hagara proved his cat sailing experience when he recovered from a spectacular near-capsize in race two, the crew clinging onto the netting as the boat balanced on her bows before bouncing back down onto the water — and straight back into the race.

Holmatro racing on Day 2 off Cowes. Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

Before racing today Hagara explained why the bear away is such a danger zone for the Extreme 40s: “The bear away at the windward mark in those conditions is always a challenge. You have to ease the mainsheet and the jib, and you have to ease the mainsheet and the traveller quite early, actually before the bear away because if you get a gust and the bows are already in the water then the hydraulic mainsheet doesn’t release that quickly and you can be too late.

“Once the rudders are in the air, I can play around with the tiller but can’t feel anything! So you have to get all the weight back.”

Elsewhere in the fleet several boats had to make repairs on the move as the steep, grey Solent waves once battered the Extreme 40 fleet. The team on BMW Oracle Racing Spithill worked to frantically fix to their jib whilst sailing down the run, and JPMorgan Asset Management retired from one race after suffering problems with their gennaker.

Video of Day 2 iShares Cup, Cowes

Between six and eight races are scheduled tomorrow, with another breezy day predicted to test the crew’s stamina to the max.

iShares Cup

Team Aqua Retire from UK leg of iShares Cup 2008

Team Aqua at the iShares Cup 2008 in Hyeres, France. Image copyright Pierrick Contin/DPPI/OC Events.

Statement from Cameron Appleton via iShares Cup/OC Event media:

"We’re officially withdrawing from the Cowes round of the iShares Cup due to an accident suffered to our helmsman Alister Richardson yesterday at the time of our capsize. We’ve assessed all areas of the project including his well-being and we feel that with his back strain yesterday he’s not in a position to produce this sort of level of intensity and results that we are going to be looking for in the remainder of this regatta, and we just feel that his well-being and his health is our biggest concern. If he can’t be at a 100% then our team can’t be up to it and it’s just an unfortunate situation and we’re sorry that he’s injured. Our boat is fixable but it’s just his well-being that is our main concern and he’s a main part of our programme so we want to protect his health.

"We sustained a broken top section of the mast and a few other broken bits and pieces that come with breaking a mast, and lots of little rips and tears to the mainsail. All those things we fixed anyway and we had all intentions this afternoon to re-rig the boat and go sailing but when it came round to the final crunch of making a call, we re-visited all the options and the main concern was Alister. The boat was in a position to go sailing again but Alister’s more important to our programme than the repairs to the boat right now."

Team Aqua

iShares Cup

Mirsky retains Internationaux de France title - BlackMatch finish 5th

Mirsky versus Richard in the final of the 2008 Internationaux de France, Trophée Manu Minard, Pornichet, Brittany. Image copyright Claude Gibault.

by SailRaceWin and Aurélie Beignon/APCC (in translation)

Sunday, 3rd August, off Pornichet, Brittany, France, Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and crew, Kinley Fowler, Tudur Owen and Graeme Spence, retained their Internationaux de France Match Race title: the Trophée Manu Minard.

Mirsky defeated world number one, Mathieu Richard, 3-1 in the final. In the petit-final, Frenchman Damien Iehl beat Peter Wibroe (DEN) 2-0. BlackMatch finished 5th overall at the event. The final day's racing took place in southwest winds of 10-15 knots.

It is a first for the Trophée Manu Minard to have the same winner in consecutive years. Last year's victory in this event was the first Grade One match race win for 22 year old Australian Torvar Mirsky.

Torvar Mirsky said: "The matches against Mathieu Richard were very difficult technically. He is certainly better than us, but we had better boatspeed. Further, the J80 is a boat that we particularly appreciate and with which we have better technique than the others. In any case, I am delighted to win this event for a second consecutive year and will return to defend my title next year."

Mirsky's crew member, Graeme Spence was thrown into the water after the victory, as a joint celebration with its being his birthday!

Mathieu Richard was complementary about Mirsky in defeat, saying "Torvar is a very strong opponent." Richard's crew comprised Greg Evrard, Olivier Herlédant and Thierry Douillard.

Overall Results

1 Torvar Mirsky (AUS)
2 Mathieu Richard (FRA)
3 Damien Iehl (FRA)
4 Peter Wibroe (DEN)
5 Adam Minoprio (NZL)
6 François Brenac (FRA)
7 Ian Ainslie (RSA)
8 Alexis Littoz-Baritel (FRA)
9 Jure Orel (SLO)
10 Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA)
11 Evgeniy Neugodnikov (RUS)
12 Victor Lanier (FRA)

Trophée Manu Minard

Mean Machine Halts TP52 Campaign

2008 TP52 Mean Machine racing in the Audi MedCup off Marseille. Image copyright Sander van der Borch/Mean Machine.

by Helena de la Gandara

The Mean Machine Team have decided to officially announce their decision to cease all activity in the TP52 class. Owner and Skipper of the Mean Machine TP52 Peter de Ridder has decided to terminate the TP52 campaign for this season.

Peter de Ridder says: "We’ve had some wonderful years in this class, but having lost our Mean Machine Mojo on the road to success, time has come to stop and take stock. I've considered the option to make changes to the team in order to get back on track, but that would not have done justice to the fantastic group of people we had for so many years. There are times one has to realistically admit to have performed below its standards. Being the owner and skipper I take full responsibility for that"

Mean Machine competing in the 2008 Alicante Trophy of the Audi MedCup. Image copyright Nico Martinez.

This decision, which was by no means easy to make, doesn’t signal the end of the team. Over the next few months and after a rest, the sporting future of this sailing platform known as Mean Machine will be decided.

Mean Machine

iShares Cup: Back in business for Day 2 off Cowes

Day One racing at the UK leg of the iShares Cup. Image copyright Ian Roman/TeamOrigin.

by iShares CUP/OC Event media

It was a long night for many of the crews and shore teams of the iShares Cup entries after yesterday's crash and burn racing left several boats needing repairs, but 10 Extreme 40s will be back on the racecourse this afternoon.

Holmatro finished second on Day 1 of the iShares Cup off Cowes. Image copyright Tom Gruitt.

After yesterday's collision left Franck Cammas' BMW Oracle Racing boat with a smashed bowsprit and front beam, Cammas will be racing a spare Extreme 40 co-owned by organisers OC Events and Tornado Sports (which carries Ellen MacArthur Trust on its hulls, but will be flying BMW Oracle Racing branded sails). BT's shore crew worked hard overnight to get their boat back to fighting form, and Nick Moloney and team will also be back on the water.

TeamOrigin racing on Day 1 of the iShares Cup off Cowes. Image copyright Ian Roman/TeamOrigin.

TeamOrigin quickly recovered after their capsize yesterday, while BMW Oracle Racing Spithill have fitted a new mast to their boat after they capsized off Lepe Beach yesterday. Only Team Aqua won't be rejoining the fleet after they capsized between races two and three, also snapping their mast.

Sunday's forecast is for a south-westerly breeze of 9-12 knots building to 15-18 knots this afternoon, creating similar conditions to yesterday with strong currents and the wind against tide likely to kick up some more Solent waves.

Video of Day 1 iShares Cup, Cowes 2008
iShares Cup

BlackMatch Unlucky to lose out in Quaterfinals of the Internationaux de France Grade One Match Race

BlackMatch versus Peter Wibroe (DEN) in the quarterfinals off Pornichet, France. Image copyright Claude Gibault.

from Adam Minoprio

Saturday we completed the quarterfinal stage of the Internationaux de France but unfortunately couldn't progress any further in the regatta, losing in somewhat unfortunate circumstances to Peter Wibroe from Denmark. Conditions were extremely tough with a steady 18 knot breeze and a very big swell.

Peter eventually took out the quarter final 3-2 and we had some very close racing, but things just didn't quite go our way today. Perhaps the best example of this was when we were leading 2-1 on match point and the shackle holding our jib up gave way seconds after the start, forcing us to retire and handing Wibroe an uncontested victory. During the deciding race we felt our boat speed and crew work was really good but after an even start we received a tough penalty half way up the first beat when our rigs clashed in a tacking duel. We had the lead going into the final downwind but did not have enough to do our penalty turn, we waited for the Danes in an attempt to gain a penalty back on them but they were equal to the task and managed to sail around us while we were handed a second penalty for sailing them past our proper course.

Close racing between Minoprio and Wibroe in the quarterfinals of the 2008 Internationaux de France, the Trophée Manu Minard. Image copyright Claude Gibault.

It was an unfortunate way to bow out of the regatta but we remain upbeat about all we have learnt over the past few days with a lot of excellent racing here in France. Following our loss in the quarter final we took on Frenchman Alexi Littoz-Barritel and won our way through to face off with another Frenchman Brenac tomorrow, in a battle for 5th place.

With still plenty to sail for Sunday we are hoping to finish the regatta on a positive note and take out 5th place. We would also like to congratulate the teams who made the semi finals and look forward to seeing who will take out the 2008 Internationaux de France. Mathieu Richard is currently leading his semi final over Damien Iehl 2-1 while Torvar Mirsky is leading Peter Wibroe 2-0.

Trophée Manu Minard

BlackMatch Racing

Sunday 3 August 2008

iShares Cup Cowes Day One: "Like being in a pinball machine!"

Day 1, iShares Cup at Skandia Cowes Week: BMW Oracle Racing Cammas collide with BT. Image copyright Mark Lloyd.

by iShares Cup/OC Event media

The America’s Cup teams stole the show on the first day of the iShares Cup, but with mixed fortunes in a full-on day at Skandia Cowes Week.

Franck Cammas, the offshore multihull specialist, got things off to a flying start by winning his very first iShares Cup race from America’s Cup defenders Alinghi after he got a great lift up the first mark, and took a lead which he held all the way around.

Cammas followed up to make it a double victory in race two, followed home by his BMW Oeacle Racing team mate James Spithill. Current series leaders TeamOrigin were right on the pace in the first race, but had a slow top mark rounding in the second, recovering well to take fifth.

In between races two and three the skies over Southampton darkened and a large squall came through the fleet, sending yachts competing in the Skandia Cowes Week spinning across the Solent as they broached. Team Aqua pitchpoled as they tried to bear away, spinning over on one hull and smashing their rig.

Team Aqua pitchpole sequence between races 2 and 3, Day One, iShares Cup, Cowes. Images copyright Tom Gruitt.

TeamOrigin came to the fore in the third race, leading BMW Oracle Racing Cammas out into the Solent while Alinghi ducked closer to the shore — but their tactic couldn’t outwit the local TeamOrigin crew, who won from Franck Cammas. But Cammas’ run of luck was to come to an end in the next. After a fantastic start which saw all 11 Extreme 40s charging down the course abreast, the entire fleet arrived at the first mark with just millimetres separating the boats, and BMW Oracle Racing crunched into the side of BT, leaving Cammas’ boat with a smashed bowsprint and crumpled front beam, and Nick Moloney’s BT boat with a gaping hole in the port side.

“The first 2 races were wonderful for us,” said Frank Cammas after his dramatic first day’s iShares Cup racing. “The third was good too – we sailed with one reef, which was safe for us but we finished second and were very happy.

“But the last… not the same! We were in the wrong position when we arrive at the top mark, and it is difficult with these boats to change direction rapidly and so we have to pass behind Alinghi but we had no room with BT, so we touched – at high speed, because there was a lot of wind. I think we were going about 20 knots.”

Day 1, iShares Cup at Skandia Cowes Week: BMW Oracle Racing Cammas collide with BT. Image copyright Sally Collinson.

BMW Oracle Racing Cammas collide with BT. Image copyright Tom Gruitt.

“There was an almighty bang as BMW Oracle smashed into our stern,’ recalls BT skipper Nick Moloney. “They exploded their pole, snapped their boat in half, spun us around and then they peeled away from us but they were completely out of control, because the boat was basically broken in half — and Shirley and JP Morgan swung to avoid them and smashed in to our stern. It was like being in a pinball machine! Two very, very big fast collisions, and big explosions of breaking carbon fibre – it was really, really loud.

BMW Oracle Racing Cammas suffers broken front beam after collision with BT. Image copyright Mark Lloyd.

But in strong winds of 20-25 knots the rest of the fleet were still racing — as they hurtled down the second run, but TeamOrigin was next to bury their bows in the lumpy Solent seas. Despite valiant efforts by Rob Greenhalgh and team to keep on their feet, TeamOrigin capsized — and were soon followed by James Spithill on the remaining BMW Oracle Racing Extreme 40, while Alinghi stole the lead.

TeamOrigin capsize sequence. Images copyright Mark Lloyd.

TeamOrigin capsize on Day 1 of the iShares Cup at Skandia Cowes Week. Image copyright Ian Roman/TeamOrigin.

BMW Oracle Racing Spithill capsize. Images copyright Mark Lloyd.

The fleet were sent ashore at the end of the fourth race, and the day’s dramatic events leave Alinghi in the overall lead, just one point ahead of Holmatro — who have had their best day of the iShares Cup series so far with a consistent set of top four results. After an exhausting day on the water many crews now have a long night ahead of them repairing damaged boats, and nursing some bumps and scrapes, although none of the sailors suffered any serious injury.

iShares Cup

BlackMatch just miss out on Semis in Pornichet Grade One Match Racing

by SailRaceWin

In France, Saturday, the quarterfinals of the Grade One Trophée Manu Minard in Pornichet saw two French teams, one Australian and the Danish team go through to the semifinals.

In a hard-fought battle, Adam Minoprio and the BlackMatch Racing team lost out 2-3 to Peter Wibroe from Denmark. All the other quaterfinals were decided in straight 3-0 victories, to Mathieu Richard, Torvar Mirsky and Damien Iehl, respectively.

Last year's winner, Mirsky is 2-0 over Wibroe, and world number one, Richard 2-1 on Iehl, in the semi-finals.

Trophée Manu Minard

Carnage on Day One of iShares Cup, Cowes

Team Aqua capsize between races 2 and 3, Day One, iShares Cup, Cowes. Image copyright Tom Gruitt.

by iShares Cup/OC Event media and SailRaceWin

Kiwi Chris Bake's Team Aqua capsized and broke the mast of their Extreme 40 on the first day of the iShares Cup on the Solent, UK. They had completed just two races. The capsize happened before the start of the third race.

Team Aqua after capsizing on Day 1 at Cowes. Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

There was more carnage in race four, as Franck Cammas' BMW Oracle Racing Extreme 40 suffered a broken front beam and bowsprit. This was the result of a big collision at the first windward mark, which left BT with a gaping hole in one hull and also saw Rob Greenhalgh's TeamOrigin and James Spithill's BMW Oracle Racing capsize.

After three races, Cammas was in the overall lead with a 1-1-2 scorecard, giving him 35 points. TeamOrigin (Rob Greenhalgh) won the third race, in which Alinghi (Ed Baird) finished third. This meant that the three America's Cup teams were 1-2-3 overall, with BMW Oracle Racing leading from TeamOrigin (29pts) and Alinghi (28pts).

Alinghi won race 4, with Holmatro in second. These two have now overtaken Cammas' BMW Oracle Racing on overall points, and Alinghi heads the table with 40 points, against Holmatro's 39 points and Cammas' BMW Oracle Racing's 35 points, after four races out of Cowes.

iShares Cup