Wednesday 15 October 2008

Mirsky Racing Team: Bermuda Gold Cup Wrap-up

by Kinley Fowler

The tricky conditions and new boats proved to be a difficult mountain to climb in our Bermuda Gold Cup, missing out on the quarterfinals and repechage.

With the season coming to a close, there is now some pressure to perform in the upcoming Monsoon Cup in order to maintain our position on next year’s World Match Racing Tour.

Our final race against Sebastien Col was another all or nothing match, as winning it would have put us straight through to the quarters, and losing it would mean we missed out on the repechage completely. Unfortunately the match didn’t go our way, and Col advanced through to the next round, leaving us watching from the shore.

Adam Minoprio’s performance in Bermuda has now compromised our position on the World Tour standings, with both of us now tied in 4th place with 53 points. Double points in Malaysia means that big gains can be made on the leaderboard, and with the Monsoon Cup being raced in Perth designed and built boats, our chances of performing are looking good.

Congratulations to Johnie Berntsson and his Berntsson Sailing Team who defeated Adam Minoprio BlackMatch team for the prestigious King Edward VII Gold Cup.

A special thanks to Line7, Harken and the Royal Perth Yacht Club for their support.

Mirsky Racing Team

Editor's note: This report indicates that the fierce competition between the Australian and New Zealand teams, now level on points in joint fourth place, on the World Match Racing Tour has intensified in the lead-up to the final double points event in Malaysia in December!

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Barcolana in Trieste: Alfa Romeo wins for New Zealand, Shosholoza AC entry is third

New Zealand first, fourth and fifth in the 40th edition of Italy's Barcolana.

The Barcolana, Trieste, Italy. Image copyright Emme and Emme-Parenzan.

by Barcolana media (abbreviated in translation)

Trieste's Barcolana race, with nearly 2000 entries, took place on Sunday, 12th October 2008.

Halfway through the second leg the international jury made the decision to shorten the route to allow as many as of the crews as possible to finish. So the last side of the triangle of of the race was eliminated.

MaxiJena, in the second half of the last leg, was compelled to engage Alfa Romeo in a tacking duel, which was to the benefit of the 100-foot grey hulled boat. This sort of match-race within the crowd (constituted from the hundreds of boats in the fleet) lasted over half an hour.

The advantage of the New Zealand boat was extended to four lengths. Neville Crichton knew how to maintain concentration in the decisive moment, covering the opponent and thereby taking the race. And the fifth victory for Alfa Romeo in Barcolana, and the third consecutive one, took little more than three hours.

Neville Crichton's Alfa Romeo crosses the winning line first yet again in the Barcolana. Image copyright Barcolana media/

Second place went to the extraordinary MaxiJena of Kosmina. Third Shosholoza: the America's Cup boat, with patron Captain Sarno on board.

Fourth (in an RC44) was the incredible Russell Coutts whose finishing position was beyond every possible prediction, given the size of boat. He won the RC44 class in front of Artemis II, with Dean Barker on the helm.

The owner of Banco Espirito Santo (the winning RC44), Patrick De Barros, announced his participation in next year's Barcolana at the end of the race. "It is not possible to miss an event as emotional as this", he said.

Team Shosholoza Report

by Di Meek

South Africa's America's Cup Team Shosholoza was third across the finish line in a spectacular fleet of 2000 yachts competing in yesterday's 16 nautical mile Trieste Barcolana - Europe's biggest international sailing event and the only regatta in the world to set a single start line for so many yachts.

Shosholoza among the leaders off the start line. Image copyright Emme and Emme-Parenzan.

Shosholoza was the first ever America's Cup class yacht to enter the event which celebrates its 40th edition this year and boasts a set of mind-boggling statistics: 20 000 competing sailors, about 3000 spectator boats on the water, well over 350 000 enjoying the spectacle and related festivities ashore and many more all along the coastline.

The super light breezes which fluctuated between four knots at the 10am start, to six knots and then dying to a mere two at the finish favoured the South African yacht which was purpose built for the tight windward/leeward courses of America's Cup racing as opposed to the loose reaching conditions of the Barcolana. The light winds also minimised the chaos of the seemingly endless crush of yachts lining up to cross the comparatively short 1.5 nautical mile start line.

Even so the South Africans were edged out at the finish by New Zealander Neville Crichton's maxi Alpha Romeo who took the gun in 2hrs 59 min and 43 seconds for his fifth Barcolana. At the helm of Alpha Romeo was 2007 America's Cup winning skipper Brad Butterworth of the Swiss Team Alinghi with many of his crew on board. Second was the maxi Jena owned by Slovenian Mitja Kosmna who finished in 3 hrs 2 min and 20 seconds.

But Team Shosholoza, skippered by Paolo Cian, also set the ships' horns booming and got a rousing cheer from the massive spectator fleet as they crossed the finish in 3 hrs 9 min 26 seconds just ahead of the fast RC 44 Black Pearl skippered by Russell Coutts, the three times America's Cup winning skipper, who did the race in 3 hours 10 minutes and 25 seconds.

Shosholoza founding managing director Captain Salvatore Sarno said he was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the event, the Shosholoza fans who crowded the dockside to cheer and support the South African America's Cup team, the 100's of people who wanted autographs and the unique spectacle on the water.

"I have never ever seen anything like this. Incredible. And it is amazing that the crew of an America's Cup yacht can still give so much emotion to the spectators in a regatta like this. It is not true that America's Cup class yachts can only sail at the America's Cup, they can also be competitive in regattas like the Barcolana. Of course we wanted to win.Why else did we come here?

"But we had a very good race tactically, our crew did good work in the light wind, we have flown the South African flag all week and we have had fun. Now we are looking forward to racing in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Cup in Auckland, New Zealand in Frebruary next year and then we want to hold a follow up America's Cup class event in South Africa in June," said Captain Sarno.

Shosholoza skipper Paolo Cian who has now clocked up a first, a second and two thirds as skipper in four Barcolana events described Shosholoza's performance as "incredible". "We were a bit unlucky on the first leg when the wind went right and we were forced to do a couple of gybes which is painful because we lose so much time. But this boat, even though she is heavy, is very fast upwind even in very light winds and we could make the top three.

"This is a crazy race, absolutely unique, you just can't compare it to any other race in the world and we had a lot of fun. It was great." said Cian.

Shosholoza tactician Tommaso Chieffi said the the regatta had shown that in light air Shosholoza could triumph. He said it was also exciting for Shosholoza to take Coutts at the finish as at one point the super fast smaller boat had been almost five minutes ahead. But with the dying wind Shosholoza, particularly with her high mast, could maintain momentum and get through the RC44. "I have full respect for them. They had a good race," said Chieffi.

Trimmer David Rae from Cape Town said the spectator fleet was way bigger than that in Valencia at the America's Cup last year. "For the folks back home to understand how big the event is I would say it is like the Vaal Dam's Round-the-island Race - just four times bigger!" Grinder Johann Spilhaus described the race as an awesome spectacle and pitman Solomon Dipeere from Johannesburg said it was simply amazing. "I have never ever raced against 2000 boats before. It was beautiful."

Locals describe the Trieste Barcolana as a celebration of all things nautical. It is an end of the sailing season celebration not only for the city of Trieste but the whole of Italy and other countries too. "Sailing is natural for us. It is a way of life to be with the sea and to live with the sea. The sea is the heart and soul of Trieste and now we share this event with people from all over the world. It is something fantastic even for us."

The crew of Team Shosholoza led by South Africa's Captain Salvatore Sarno (far right on the bow), skippered by Paolo Cian (2nd from right) and Tommaso Chieffi on tactics before the start of yesterday's Trieste Barcolana which saw the South African America's Cup yacht finish 3rd in a fleet of over 2000 yachts. It was the first time that an America's Cup class yacht had entered the event which is the only regatta in the world to set a single start line for so many yachts. Image copyright Emme and Emme-Parenzan.

Sea and shore based festivities leading up to the Barcolana started a week ago in this ecsquisite city which is known as a "little Vienna of the sea" because of its distinctive architecture and history as being part of the old Austro/Hungarian Empire.

Team Shosholoza
Trieste Barcolana

Volvo Ocean Race: Fast and furious first two days at sea for PUMA Ocean Racing

by Kate Fairclough

The PUMA Ocean Racing team’s first two days at sea have been fast and furious. Dodging in and out of squally storms, PUMA’s il mostro battled with their seven competitors in the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race to reach the Straits of Gibraltar, and exit the enclosed Mediterranean Sea en route to the Atlantic Ocean. As the PUMA team manoeuvred themselves out through the narrow gap between the southern tip of Spain and the northwest tip of Morocco and began to head down the west coast of Africa late last night, il mostro was in third place.

After 400 miles and almost two days at sea, PUMA are now in second place, neck and neck with Telefonica Black, Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4. As the boats begin to divide and go their separate ways in the Atlantic Ocean, choosing their own route south across the Equator as they race down to Cape Town, South Africa, even bigger gains and losses will be made.

PUMA Ocean Racing skipper Ken Read and his crew are now settling into their daily routine aboard il mostro and are beginning to adapt to the way of life they will lead for the next twenty days. Ken commented from onboard: “Life has been a bit hectic since our start, including a fast and furious first 10 hours. One minute we were planing into the lead, losing visual contact with the two Ericsson boats in a little squall, and the next thing we knew they were 15 miles ahead of us.

“Since that time we have had squalls, drift off's, tons of tacking and gybing - all to be overlapped with Green Dragon and Telefónica Black in the Straits of Gibraltar. It was pretty cool actually, as we had a few mechanical problems on board and catching up the way we did was a huge boost for the team. It is great to be at sea, great to back with the boys. And besides having a little catching up to do with the two Ericsson boats, and fending off the rest of the fleet, all is great on board.”

Regarding leaving Alicante, where the leg began, Ken commented: “I would guess that leaving for any sort of journey would have its ups and downs. Leaving for a long sailboat race is no different. Although I had to keep reminding my wife and daughter that it was only three certainly seemed bigger to all of us. The entire team for that matter. Each of the guys and all of the girls had watery eyes as we left Alicante, a town which was an amazing host to the start of this race.”

Current Position:
2nd Place
Distance to Leader: 7 nautical miles
Distance to Leg Finish: 6088 nautical miles
Miles covered in last 24 hours: 182 nautical miles

The Volvo Ocean Race is made up of ten legs, finishing in June 2009 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The fleet is expected to finish the first leg of the race, in Cape Town, around 3rd November.

PUMA Ocean Racing

BlackMatch Second Overall in Bermuda Gold Cup 2008

Adam Minoprio congratulates a humble Johnie Berntsson, winner of the 2008 Bermuda Gold Cup. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

by David Swete

On Sunday we faced a focused Johnie Berntsson in a gruelling final, but after showing so much promise against Ben Ainslie in yesterday's semi-final, we went down 3-1 to a deserving champion. The Swedish team were on fire today, pouncing on any mistake we made and unfortunately for us we made a few too many, finishing up 2nd in the 2008 King Edward VII Gold Cup.

Our first match was a prime example of a match that was in our hands but we let it slip. After forcing a penalty on them during the pre-start we were even off the start line only to miss out on the first shift which gave them a slight advantage.

Close racing between Minoprio and Berntsson during the final. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

By the top mark it was so close that the Swedes luffed us to defend their lead and also to try and clear their penalty. While we were to windward they tacked and bore away inside us to do their penalty turn. We thought that they tacked in our water as we had to avoid contact however the umpires saw it differently and it was back to an even playing field although we had a one boat length advantage.

We held that advantage until the final upwind when the tenacious Berntsson clawed his way back and we failed to defend the starboard side of the course at the top of the upwind leg. This allowed them back into the game; an opportunity that they jumped on managing to gain a small lead going into the final downwind which they defended to take the victory.

We totally dominated the second race. Adam demolished Johnie in the start, forcing two penalties on him and pushing him over the start line to gain an unassailable lead.

Our next two pre-starts did not go our way, although we had very close matches. Johnie had slight advantages off the start line in both races and sailed very consistently to go 3-1 up and become the 2008 King Edward VII Gold Cup Champion.

We were very happy to make it through to our first World Tour final, especially at such a prestigious event. Our second placing here in Bermuda not only means we will gain invaluable ISAF world ranking points, but it also promotes us to 4th on the World Match Racing Tour, level on points with Australian Torvar Mirsky.

Our result here also guarantees us entry into the final World Tour Event, the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia and we are looking forward to returning to Malaysia after competing in the New Zealand Match Racing Nationals in November. BlackMatch would like to congratulate Johnie and his team on an excellent victory, they sailed extremely well this week and we have to take our hats off to them, awesome sailing and well deserved.

From Adam, Dave, Tom and Nick we would like to say a very big thank you to our friends and family and we hope we have done you proud after an arduous year. We would also like to thank our sponsors FedEx Express, especially our friends David Ross from FedEx Asia and Ross Munro from Line 7 New Zealand. To the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, thank you for your support and the privilege of representing you this year.

BlackMatch Racing

Berntsson Brings Home Bermuda Gold

Berntsson and crew: Johan Bäckman, Johnie Berntsson, Daniel Wallberg and Björn Lundgren, with RBYC Commodore Ralph Richardson, King Edward VII Bermuda Gold Cup winners 2008. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

In only his second event of the World Tour this year, Berntsson defeated Minoprio in the Bermuda Gold Cup 2008 Final 3-1.

by Dobbs Davis

On yet another spectacular day of match race sailing on Hamilton Harbour, Johnie Berntsson (SWE) and his Berntsson Sailing Team has defeated Adam Minoprio (NZL) and his Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch team in a decisive 3-1 Final for the prestigious King Edward VII Gold Cup presented by Argo Group. This was only Berntsson’s second Tour event this year as a skipper, and for his efforts Berntsson and his team of Johan Backman, Bjorn Lundgren, and Martin Berntsson have won the top $50,000 prize of the $100,000 total purse. The 101 year old Gold Cup trophy was presented by Sir Richard Gozney the Governor of Bermuda.

“This was a fantastic event for us,” said Berntsson, “because not only did I feel we sailed really well, but we also really had fun.” Winning must have certainly played a part in having fun, as Berntsson’s overall win-loss record of 15-3 in this long competition was indeed impressive: on his road to the Finals he led his group of eight skippers on a 6-1 Round Robin record into the Quarter-finals, then beat third-ranked Tour regular Mathieu Richard (FRA) and his French Match Racing Team/French Spirit 3-1. He then defeated fellow Swede Mattias Rahm and the Stena Bulk Sailing Team 3-0 in yesterday’s Semi-Finals before winning today 3-1 in the Finals.

“I’m only the guy holding the tiller, the credit goes to the guys on my team,” said a modest Berntsson. “When I would put us into trouble, it was always my guys who got us out.”

Berntsson and crew cross the winning line to take the 2008 Bermuda Gold Cup at the end of match four of the finals on Hamilton Harbour. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

This trouble included having earned a pre-start penalty in Match Three of the Finals from umpires Sally Burnett (GBR) and Jan Stage (DEN) for not keeping clear of an aggressive Minoprio and his team at the start, but managed to get ahead off the start for an early lead in the match. Minoprio kept the race close, managing to challenge the Swedes for the lead at the second top mark rounding on the three-lap course. After a protracted dial-up well to windward of this mark, the pair broke off, Berntsson tacking to complete his penalty, but ceding the lead to the Kiwis downwind.

But Berntsson never gave up, chasing Minoprio around the track, splitting when the shifts were favorable, and managed to dig back to gain control once again at the top of the third and final beat. This time Berntsson held the lead and even managed to extend slightly to take the series to 2-1, and after having a slight edge off the start in the final match, the Swedes would simply extend and hold this lead all the way to the finish.

Berntsson and his Swedish crew celebrate with champagne on board the IOD. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

In Petit-Final action, Ben Ainslie (GBR) and his Team Origin held off an aggressive Rahm to win the first-to-three point series in three straight matches, using the same smooth style he’s displayed all week with excellent timing and calling of shifts with help from fellow Olympian Iain Percy.

1st Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team $50,000
2nd Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing $20,000
3rd Ben Ainslie (GBR) Team Origin $10,000
4th Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team $7,000
5th Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar $5,500
6th Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing $4,000
7th Sebastien Col (FRA) French Team/K-Challenge $2,500
8th Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Team/Team French Spirit $1,000

Current World Match Racing Tour Leaderboard (top ten teams)
(After Stage 8 of 9):

1. Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar, 92 points
2. Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, 88
3. Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team/ French Team Spirit, 77
4. Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing Team, 53
=. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, 53
6. Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge, 51
7. Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team, 46
8. Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza, 43
9. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team, 40
=. Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team, 40

World Match Racing Tour

Volvo Ocean Race: Telefonica Blue Fixes Damaged Steering Gear

Telefonica Blue re-joins the Volvo Ocean Race after stopping for repairs. Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Volvo Ocean Race media

Telefonica Blue officially suspended racing having reached landfall near Gibraltar last night to undertake repairs to the steering gear they damaged soon after the race start in Alicante.

Bouwe Bekking and his crew notified race HQ at 18:53:26 GMT that they had stopped at the port of Algeciras in the Bay of Gibralta.

Telefonica Blue pulls out of the race to rectify damage. Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Bouwe Bekking’s men have completed repairs to their damaged steering system are back on the race track, where overnight, the fleet compressed heading into the Atlantic.

The Telefonica Blue crew raised their mainsail at 06:17 GMT and the team proceeded to their last racing position where they resumed racing at 06:53 after serving their minimum 12 hour pit stop penalty.

Telefonica Blue's damaged steering gear. Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Volvo Ocean Race

Monday 13 October 2008

Ragtime (Infidel) Returns to NZ for HSBC Premier Coastal Classic

Ragtime working to windward at the start of the 2005 Transpac Race. Image copyright Rich Roberts.

Expatriate racer makes homecoming for HSBC Premier Coastal Classic

by Zoe Hawkins

Ragtime – the 60 footer built for Sir Tom Clark in 1964 under the name of Infidel – has made an epic 7,000 mile southwards journey to New Zealand, only to turn around and nearly immediately depart on another epic journey in the opposite direction, a 119 nautical mile sailing marathon between Auckland and Russell in the Bay of Islands over Labour Weekend.

It was 1964 when the Ragtime was built by John Spencer for the late Sir Tom Clark and since then she has accumulated more than 100,000 blue water miles. Based in the Based in the Northern Hemisphere since 1970, when she was virtually extradited from New Zealand because of her lightweight design, she has sailed more Transpacific Los Angeles to Honolulu races than any other boat and winning four of them between 1971 and 1974.

But Ragtime, who came to the Southern Hemisphere via a race from California to Tahiti, and to New Zealand just for the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic, is not going to be content with simply putting in an appearance. The boat, which has pre-applied for Cat 3, IRC and PHRF prior to its arrival here, is demonstrating great potential even against boats more than 40 years her junior.

Earlier this year Ragtime was one of four boats to break the 14-year old record in the 3,571 nautical mile Tahiti Race, finishing in just over 14 days and 16 hours, to win on corrected time. Her performance is due to a new carbon fibre rig and high-tec sail wardrobe, and the boat’s plywood hull has also been reconstructed and a new keel configuration added to give her greater stability.

The boat, which is owned by American Chris Welsh and whose home port is now Newport Beach in California, will stay in New Zealand until February.

The HSBC Premier Coastal Classic is the biggest coastal yacht race in New Zealand, and one of the biggest in the world. It started life 26 years ago as a drag race between Auckland and Russell for just a few boats, and over the years attracted a bigger and more diverse fleet, consisting of grand prix racers, America’s Cup boats, and small family cruisers.

Organised by the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club, it is a race designed for speed: except for at the beginning and the end of the race, there are few opportunities to use tactics to overtake, and success can often depend on getting a good tactical start.

The race can take as little as seven or eight hours for the very fastest boats, or as long as two days for the slowest boats in light conditions.

As well as welcoming back principal sponsor HSBC, the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic is supported by some of New Zealand’s pre-eminent marine companies: Donaghys Southern Ocean, Harken, Line 7, Cookson Boats and Sail NZ, as well as the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, Steinlager, Mount Gay Rum, the Sunday Star Times, Trade-A-Boat magazine, De Walt, Dirty Dog and Yamaha Motors NZ.

Coastal Classic

Ericsson Racing Team Lead Volvo Fleet into Atlantic Ocean

Ericsson Racing Team passing through the Straits of Gibraltar. Image copyright Tim Stonton.

by Victoria Low

At approximately 1600h CET Ericsson Racing Team 's two boats passed through the Straits of Gibraltar into the Atlantic Ocean leading the fleet of VO70 race yachts out of the Mediterranean.

After fast sailing and with the two boats swapping leads during the first 24 hours of the race Ericsson 3 is, according to Volvo Ocean Race position data, less than a mile ahead of Ericsson 4 after they have left the Straits of Gibraltar behind them.

Ericsson Racing Team leading the Volvo Ocean Race out into the Atlantic Ocean. Image copyright Tim Stonton.

Ericsson 4 bowman Phil Jameson said: "It became apparent early on, that this race is going to be one hell of a fight all the way to St Petersburg. Everyone seems to be on the pace and the slightest mishap, could cost you bad.

"The entire night involved all hands on deck. No one has had any sleep yet and we expect that for another 24 hours at least. The last 15 hours has been just like back in Lanzarote. The two boats neck and neck!! All the boys are pretty tired, but we're giving it our all out here."

Ericsson Racing Team

Photo Collage of RC44 Racing off Trieste, Italy, from Juerg Kaufmann,

RC44 BMW ORACLE Racing. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

RC44 Team Ceeref. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

RC44 Citta di Milano and Artemis. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

RC44s Team Aqua versus Citta di Milano. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

RC44 BMW ORACLE Racing. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

RC44s Cro-A-Sail versus BMW ORACLE Racing. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

RC44 Team Aqua. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

RC44 Team Aqua racing off Trieste for the Friuli Venezia Giulia RC44 Cup 2008. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

RC44 Team Aqua. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

RC44 website

Ericsson Racing Team finds Smooth Sailing on Rough Night in the Volvo Ocean Race

by Victoria Low

About 22 hours after the start of Leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race, Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4 are wageing their own private battle at the head of the eight-boat fleet.

At 1000 GMT this morning, Ericsson 3, skippered by Sweden's Anders Lewander, and Ericsson 4, led by Brazil's Torben Grael, were sailing within sight of each other, according to Volvo Ocean Race live tracking. The two blue boats with orange bows were some 30 miles ahead of third-placed Green Dragon, each with 6,249 nautical miles to the finish in Cape Town, South Africa.

The two boats last night followed the pre-race strategy of staying close to the Spanish coastline after clearing Cabo de Gata, and seemed to find more consistent wind conditions.

At the 1000 GMT position reports, the boats had hit westerly headwinds, with a recorded wind direction around 270 degrees. They were recording windspeeds around 10 knots, and their boatspeeds were 9 knots. Before the start, team meteorologist Chris Bedford had predicted light winds for the approach to the Straits of Gibraltar.

Last night provided some rough but thrilling sailing. Both Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4 recorded a top boatspeed in excess of 30 knots.

"We are in a watch system, but in every maneuver all hands are called on deck," Ericsson 3 media crewman Gustav Morin said around midnight last night. "And since the wind has been quite shifty, the guys have not got a lot of sleep.

"But our spirit and mood is high. Not the least because we are going really well. Puma was in front of us for a long time but we chased them up and passed them. Now we are fighting our team comrades on Ericsson 4 who are just a few miles ahead of us. We were really ripping for awhile with almost 30 knots of boat speed on the log," Morin said.

It appeared the boats would clear through the Straits of Gibraltar, a distance of approximately 290 nautical miles from the start in Alicante, about 24 or 26 hours after the start. That would be a quicker pace than expected.

At the 1000 GMT position reports, Ericsson 3 had recorded the highest wind strength for the previous three hours at 24 knots and boatspeed of 21 knots, while Ericsson 4 had recorded 22 knots and 21 knots, respectively. Boats further offshore had recorded windspeeds and boatspeeds in the low to mid teens.

Ericsson Racing Team

BlackMatch Defeats Ben Ainslie in Epic Semi-Final in Bermuda

Smiles all round as BlackMatch book a place in the finals. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

by David Swete

There were many surprises Saturday on and off the water today. The first was the realization that our semi-final opponent was not in fact Johnnie Berntsson from Sweden, but three times Olympic Gold Medallist and America's Cup Helmsman Ben Ainslie!

After Friday's press conference it was announced that we were to take Johnnie on in the semi-final. It was not until this morning that Team Origin's Coach spied a change in the notice of race that indicated we were to take on the British team, which also included Olympic Star Gold medallist Ian Percy.

It was an unenviable position to be in taking on a team with such talent but when facing a 2-1 deficit that saw Ben on match point, we really stepped our game up to take out the next two pressure matches and qualify for the 2008 King Edward VII Gold Cup final.

BlackMatch keeping their heads out of the boat in Bermuda. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

In our first match we forced a penalty on the Brits when they attempted to swing below our stern but crashed straight into us on port. Their fleet racing skills showed through in the end though and they sailed away to have a big enough advantage to do their penalty turn on the finish line.

We took the next race out comfortably when they misjudged the start and were over the start line when the gun went. We sailed very well tactically in this race and defended our lead well to level the scores.

BlackMatch too close for comfort while racing Ben Ainslie. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

In our third match we had an even start but they again showed excellent speed and won by a narrow margin to go to match point.

The fourth match saw a split tack start, we were extremely confident in the right hand side of the course during our pre-start manoeuvres so Adam fought hard for the committee boat end of the line, we won the boat and backed our call against the Olympians to make huge gains in better pressure on the first upwind.

They fought back hard and on the second upwind. We were 'tack for tack' but still maintained a 2 boat length lead by the top mark to take the victory and again level the scores.

The deciding match saw a very heated pre-start. We were in total control of the start and had the Team Origin Crew on the ropes, locked out above the committee boat end of the start line. They bailed out and attempted to gybe around to start, instead of bearing away and going for a conservative start we went for the kill and tacked to follow them.

Both of us were bearing away to gybe for the start and they gybed straight in front of us, our only avenue was to continue with our gybe inside them but the British team kept altering their course at us and there was a collision. There were protest flags from both boats but the penalty went against them while we also had better speed off the line that gave us the advantage we needed to take out the semi final 3-2 and progress through to the final tomorrow.

Congratulations on the water after a great semi-final. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

An all-Swedish affair in the other semi-final saw the in-form Johnnie Berntsson defeat Mattias Rahm convincingly 3-0.

Berntsson and crew are happy to reach the finals. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

We are absolutely ecstatic to have beaten such a respectable competitor in Ben Ainslie here in Bermuda, but we are very wary of the form that Johnnie Berntsson has discovered and are looking forward to the challenge of winning our first World Tour Event tomorrow.

We would like to congratulate all of the semi-finalists as it is such a huge achievement to make it through to the final 4 of 24 competing teams.

BlackMatch would like to thank their sponsors, FedEx Express and Ross Munro from Line 7 New Zealand. We are very proud to have the support of such world renowned companies. We would also like to thank our yacht club the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and also our friends and family for their great support this year. Ee hope we can go one better and take out the final tomorrow.

BlackMatch Racing

Bermuda Gold Cup: Berntsson and Minoprio Through to the Finals

Minoprio leads Ainslie in race four of the semi-finals. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

Two young teams defeat America’s Cup veterans in Gold Cup Semi-Finals

by Dobbs Davis

The upsets continue here in Hamilton Harbour as Johnie Berntsson (SWE) and his Berntsson Racing Team and Adam Minoprio (NZL) and the Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing team advance to tomorrow’s Final round at the King Edward VII Gold Cup presented by Argo Group. Berntsson decisively defeated fellow Swede Mattias Rahm and his Stena Bulk Sailing Team on a straight 3-0 score, while Minoprio took it all the way to the fifth match to defeat Ben Ainslie (GBR) and his Team Origin. This is the first World Match Racing Tour final for both teams, where they will vie for the top prize of US$50,000.

Ainslie versus Minoprio in the semi-finals. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

“We’re certainly excited to get to our first Tour Finals,” said Minoprio. "After having gotten to the Semis in two, it feels great to finally have a chance at the top prize." In jest, Minoprio added “And we plan to make all that we can at having got past one of the world’s top sailors!”

Johnie Berntsson overcome fellow Swede Mattias Rahm to reach the finals of the Gold Cup 2008. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

Berntsson’s apparent romp over Rahm was in contrast to their intense rivalry, as the two trained together in preparation for this event at their home club in Sweden, the Royal Gothenburg Sailing Club (GKSS), so their matches were indeed tight fights, especially in the pre-starts. Nonetheless, Rahm has had an up and down cycle of success here in Bermuda, winning and losing three matches each day in alternation. “We were always challenged by Mattias, he has a very good team with a lot of experience, but the breaks just went our way today,” said Berntsson.

Rahm and Berntsson in their semi-final. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

“Tomorrow is our winning day in the cycle, so we should make it 3-0 [in the Petit-Finals] against Ben,” said Rahm.

Rahm behind Berntsson in the semi-finals. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

Ainslie had been a senior afterguard member and back-up helmsman of Emirates Team New Zealand in the last America’s Cup, and Rahm had been a member of the Swedish Victory Challenge.

Sailing conditions today were nothing less than ideal for match race sailing, with sunny skies and shifty 8-12 knot conditions making for close matches in all flights of both the afternoon Semi-Finals and morning Consolation round for 5th-8th place. Hundreds of water-borne and shore-based spectators lined the course, with many attending as part of the Bermuda Festival of Sail, a public event centered in Barr’s Park adjacent to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club to celebrate Bermuda’s history of sailing.

Also running concurrent to the Gold Cup is the RBYC’s Junior Gold Cup, sailed in Optimists and attracting 40 entries, with 12 youth champions from outside Bermuda competing here, so all ages and talents are represented this weekend in the Festival of Sail.

In Consolation Round action, reigning World Champion and current World Tour leader Ian Williams (GBR) and his Team Pindar first got past Mathieu Richard and his French Match Racing Team/French Team Spirit in one match, then went on the meet young Keith Swinton (AUS). In his first Tour event, Swinton remarkably not only emerged from the pack of 24 teams here to make the Quarter-Finals, but defeated Tour runner-up Sebastian Col and his French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge today, only to finally fall to Team Pindar to finish 6th overall.

Berntsson and crew celebrate their victory over Mattias Rahm in the semis. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

Adam Minoprio (NZL) vs Johnie Berntsson (SWE)

Adam Minoprio (NZL) vs Ben Ainslie( GBR), 3-2
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) vs Mattias Rahm (SWE), 3-0

5th Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar
6th Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing
7th Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge
8th Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit

World Match Racing Tour

Sunday 12 October 2008

STOP PRESS: Adam Minoprio and BlackMatch Racing in Finals of Bermuda Gold Cup 2008

Adam Minoprio, skipper of BlackMatch Racing. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

by SailRaceWin

Saturday afternoon in Hamilton, Bermuda, Adam Minoprio and BlackMatch Racing beat Britain's most decorated Olympic sailor, Ben Ainslie, to go through to the Finals of the King Edward VII Gold Cup 2008.

The scoreline was 3-2 in favour of Minoprio in the semi-final against Ainslie. In the other all-Swedish semi-final, Johnie Berntsson beat Mattias Rahm 3-0 to earn his place in the finals.

On their first year on the World Tour circuit, BlackMatch have now been in three semi-finals but this, one of the Tour's biggest events, is their first ever final.

SailRaceWin wishes the BlackMatch boys all the best for overcoming Johnie Berntsson and following in the footsteps of Russell Coutts, Rod Davis and Chris Dickson to become Kiwi Bermuda Gold Cup winners.

World Match Racing Tour

Volvo Ocean Race: Pictures from the Start

Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race

Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race

Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race

Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race

Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race

Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race

Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race

Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race

Volvo Ocean Race

PUMA Ocean Racing makes outstanding start to Volvo Ocean Race

by Kate Fairclough

At 14.00 (local) today, the PUMA Ocean Racing team stormed across the start line of the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09. In winds of over 25 knots and stormy seas off the coast of Alicante, Spain, skipper Ken Read and his team aboard PUMA’s il mostro sped round the first two marks of the course before heading off over the horizon en route to Cape Town, South Africa, in second place. Thousands of spectators lined the sea wall in Alicante to watch as these incredible boats began their long journey 37,000 miles round the world.

Having waved an emotional goodbye to family and friends on the dock this morning, the eleven crew on board il mostro - ten sailors and one media crew member, who will document life onboard as the race unfolds - prepared themselves for a 6,500 mile leg to Cape Town. Expected to take around 23 days, the fleet will sail westwards out of the Mediterranean Sea, and then down through the Atlantic Ocean to Cape Town, crossing the Equator as they go.

After a great start, the PUMA Ocean Racing team aboard il mostro had a gruelling first few hours, rounding the first mark of the course in Alicante Bay in second place behind Swedish boat Ericsson 4 and storming back down towards the second mark. Impressing the crowd with visually stunning huge bright red sails, Ken Read and his team treated the spectator boats to a fine display of boat handling as they sped off at speeds of up to 24 knots.

PUMA Ocean Racing skipper Ken Read commented on the dock this morning: “Today is very special for us, it’s the end of two years of incredible preparation and hard work to bring us to where we are right now. It’s not the perfect Spanish weather we expected for the start of the race, but it’s time for us to get out of here.

I can’t say enough about this whole team, everyone involved in the PUMA Ocean Racing team as well as all the folks at PUMA, they have been magic to work with. I hope we can put on a good show out there. We just need to get through the night, and then we’ll have a nice ride down to Cape Town. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.”

The Volvo Ocean Race is made up of ten legs, finishing in June 2009 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The fleet is expected to finish the first leg of the race, in Cape Town, around 3rd November.

PUMA Ocean Racing

Volvo Ocean Race: Ericsson Racing Team Second and Third in early going

Ericsson 4 leading after the first mark. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.

by Victoria Low

Ericsson's two crews in the Volvo Ocean Race are running second and third some three hours after the start of Leg 1, a 6,500-nautical-mile journey to Cape Town, South Africa, according to the official race Web site.

Skippered by Brazil's Torben Grael, Ericsson 4 took the lead off the start line and held it around the first and second turning marks during a lap in the Bay of Alicante. Ericsson 4 remained in the lead for about two and a half hours, but slipped behind Puma of the U.S. in an apparent tactical maneuver.

The Volvo Ocean Race Web site reported that at 1620 GMT Ericsson 4 trailed Puma by 2.19 nautical miles, with Ericsson 3, skippered by Sweden's Anders Lewander, about a further half-mile behind.

The weather at the start was as challenging as could be imagined. An east/northeasterly wind blew around 25 knots, with higher gusts and intermittent rain. A 4-foot seaway saw the bows of the Volvo Open 70s alternately plowing through waves and leaping 20 feet clear.

All boats had a reef in the mainsail and a small jib for a headsail. The crews were decked out in full foul weather gear.

The fleet did a short windward/leeward lap around the Bay of Alicante, before heading southwesterly towards Isla Plana, about 8 nautical miles away. The fleet had to leave the island to port, passing between it and the mainland, before being free to sail whatever course the navigators desired.

Team meteorologist Chris Bedford said that the decision to head offshore or stay closer to shore tonight will depend on a trough in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.

"A very strong low pressure was moving west from Morocco into the Atlantic Ocean this morning. A trough of low pressure extended from this low across the Mediterranean coast of Africa, south of Alicante," Bedford said. "This trough is the key player for the forecast today and tonight, while the low pressure will be the key to the forecast Sunday and Monday, and probably Tuesday.

"The basic strategy is to try and stay just to the north of the trough. This will keep them in stronger running breezes from the northeast and east through early tomorrow morning. With the trough moving very close to the Spanish coast, the risk is that this fast route will get cut off, and the boats will be facing a slower, lighter upwind trip to the Straits of Gibraltar."

Ericsson Racing Team

Banco Espirito Santo wins the Friuli Venezia Giulia RC 44 Cup

Team Banco Espirito Santo, winners of the Friuli Venezia Giulia RC 44 Cup. Image copyright Guilain Grenier.

by Bernard Schopfer

Patrick de Barros and Russell Coutts haven’t had to fight to keep their three points lead over Armando Giulietti’s Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano: there was once again no wind today, Saturday, and the racing was cancelled at 2:30 PM by Race Officer Peter Reggio.

With three matches and five fleet regattas sailed in five days, the Friuli Venezia Giulia RC 44 Cup won’t remain in the history books as one of sailing’s greatest moments. Luckily, yesterday’s regattas were great, and such was the atmosphere and the Italian hospitality, turning the event into a great happening despite the absence of wind.

With top four results in all five races (1, 4, 4, 3, 2), Patrick de Barros’ Team Banco Espirito Santo, with Russell Coutts at the tactics, wins the event ahead of Armando Giuliett’s Team Hiroshi - Città di Milano and Chris Bake’s Team Aqua.

The next regatta of the RC 44 Championship Tour 2008 is also the season’s most important regatta: the Gold Cup. The event will take place on December 10-14 in Puerto Calero, on the Canaries Islands, and promises to be intense. Indeed, Banco Espirito Santo and Team Aqua have closed the gap on the Championship Tour leaders, Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano and Ceeref. No doubt the fight for podium positions will be intense, and hopefully with a good breeze!

The RC 44 yachts will sail the Barcolana regatta tomorrow, against 1500 other yachts. They will then be delivered to Portoroz on Monday, dismantled, stored in their purposely built containers and trucked to Hamburg with the support of DHL before being shipped to the Canaries Islands.


Final results after five races - (Ranking, name of team, helmsman, results, points):

1) Team Banco Espirito Santo, Patrick de Barros, 1, 4, 4, 3, 2 – 14 points
2) Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano, Armando Giulietti, 3, 5, 1, 1, 7 – 17 points
3) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 7, 1, 2, 5, 4 – 19 points
4) BMW ORACLE Racing, Peter de Ridder, 2, 6, 8, 8, 1 – 25 points
5) Artemis, Sarah Roberts-Thomson, 4, 2, 7, 6, 6 – 25 points
6) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 5, 7, 9, 2, 3 – 26 points
7) Organika, Maciej Navrocki, 6, 9, 5, 4, 5 – 29 points
8) Cro-A-Sail, Miroslav Reljanovic, 10, 3, 3, 7, 8 – 31 points
9) ITA 7, Peter Heerema, 10, 8, 6, 9, 9 – 42 points

RC 44 Championship Tour 2008 - Fleet-race

Provisional results after five events - (Ranking, name of team, helmsman, points):

1) Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano, Armando Giulietti, 100 points
2) Team Banco Espirito Santo, Patrick de Barros, 126 points
3) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 136 points
4) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 150 points
5) Team Sea Dubai, DIMC, 196 points
6) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, 209 points
7) Organika, Maciej Navrocki, 237 points
8) Cro-A-Sail, Miroslav Reljanovic, 241 points
9) Beecom, Isao Mita, 248 points
10) Mascalzone Latino, Vincenzo Onorato, 327 points
11) Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist, 330 points
12) Magia, Fabio Apollonio, 351 points

RC44 website

Ericsson 4 Leads Volvo Ocean Race in Tough Conditions for Start

Ericsson 4 the early leader out of Alicante. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Volvo Ocean Race media

The long-awaited start day of leg one of the 10th running of the Volvo Ocean race dawned grey and very windy in Alicante, just as the forecasters had predicted, but it did not dampen the spirits of the 88 sailors who have been anxious to get this 6,500 nautical mile to Cape Town underway.

Nor did it dampen the spirits of His Majesty King Juan Carlos 1 of Spain and his two daughters. The Infanta Doña Elena left the dock with her father onboard Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and the Infanta Doña Cristina was onboard Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP). The royal party was then transferred by RIB to the Spanish Navy frigate Principe de Asturias where they joined Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Knut Frostad, to watch the start.

The Bishop of Alicante-Orihuela blessed the fleet in traditional fashion before, one by one, the crews threw off their lines, waved to the huge crowd lining the harbour and departed the basin which has been their home for the past few weeks, to the sound of their team music. Fireworks exploded over the race village, while overhead Spain’s Blue Arrows aerobatic team gave a breath-taking display. Over 900,000 visitors have visited the race village since it opened on 19 September.

Start of the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race off Alicante, Spain. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Out on the race track, conditions were wild. A strong north-easterly breeze of 25 – 30 knots meant a windy start for the fleet which had to sail a short lap of the Bay of Alicante before heading back round a turning mark and out to sea. A simple breakage today could be very costly.

Race winner in 1997-98 and second in 2005-06, American skipper Paul Cayard once said, “You can’t win the Volvo Ocean Race on the first night, but you can certainly lose it,” and these wise words were echoing in the minds of the eight skippers as they jostled for position on the start line.

Waves were breaking over the boats as the teams held them into the wind to hoist their reefed mainsails. Most opted for small headsails, although Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR) chose a large masthead genoa.

As the start gun fired from the Spanish frigate, the fleet split, and it was Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA) who rounded the windward mark ahead of PUMA (Ken Read/USA) and Ericsson 3 (Anders Lewander SWE) in a surprise third place.

Image copyright David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Further down the fleet, the two Spanish boats, Telefónica Black and Telefónica Blue rounded the weather mark fourth and fifth followed by Team Russia. Green Dragon, who had struggled to sail as high as the rest of the fleet with their large genoa, were seventh, and Delta Lloyd (Ger O’Rourke/IRL) completed the fleet in eighth place.
The power was on as the fleet hoisted spinnakers and smoked down the leeward leg towards the final turning mark. Torben Grael kept his pole position and led the fleet as they began their sleigh ride towards Gibraltar. PUMA maintained second place, while Telefónica Blue moved up to third and Ericsson 3 dropped to fourth. Telefónica Black slipped to fifth place and Green Dragon moved up to sixth. In seventh and eighth places, as the fleet headed off on this 6,500 nautical mile leg to Cape Town, were Delta Lloyd and Team Russia.

Telefonica, winner of the inport race on 4th October 2008. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Weather with Jennifer Lilly, Volvo Ocean Race Weather Forecaster

Throughout today there will be a north-easterly breeze of around 20 knots. After the start, the wind speeds will average in the low 20s with possible gusts over 30 knots. The direction will generally be north-easterly, but there may be right shifts which could go as far as easterly by the end of the day.

Even more significant than the wind will be the seas. The sailors can expect swells to nearly three metres with additional wind-driven chop on top.

Both the winds and the seas are expected to decrease as the fleet heads south-west towards the Straits of Gibraltar. The question is just how quickly the conditions will calm down. For now it looks like about 12 good hours of fast sailing before things start to slow down. However, before anyone reaches the Straits of Gibraltar, the wind speeds are expected to drop below five knots.

The Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 is the 10th running of this ocean marathon. It started from Alicante in Spain, on 4 October 2008 with an in-port race. Leg One from Alicante to Cape Town started today, 11 October and the course will, for the first time, take in Cochin, India, Singapore and Qingdao, China before finishing in St Petersburg, Russia for the first time in the history of the race. Spanning some 37,000 nautical miles, stopping at 11 ports and taking nine months to complete, the Volvo Ocean Race is the world’s premier yacht race for professional racing crews.

Volvo Ocean Race