Saturday 7 February 2009

Vendée Globe: Sam Davies hoping to break Ellen MacArthur’s female Vendée Globe record

Sam Davies on board Roxy. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Last weekend at sea for Sam on board Roxy

by Justine Ozoux

After almost 90 days of sailing, leading British Vendée Globe skipper Sam Davies aboard Roxy is hoping to break the female Vendée Globe record of 94 days and 4 hours set by Ellen MacArthur in the 2000/01 edition of the race. Sam, currently lying in third place, is due to complete the solo, non-stop round the world race next Wednesday 11th or Thursday 12th February. With over 23,000 nautical miles travelled and just 1,700 miles to the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, Sam admits that “Although I am starting to get excited, it is still too early to celebrate. This race has been a war of attrition and the most important thing now is to make it over the finish line.”

Roxy Sailing

Vendée Globe

Vendée Globe: Saturday Morning Steak and Chips for Armel

Armel Le Cléac'h's Brit Air. Image copyright Jean-Marie Liot/DPPI/Vendée Globe.

by Véronique Teurlay

"I’ll be crossing the line before lunchtime on Saturday," the skipper of Brit Air promised on today’s radio session. Finally crossing the line will be big relief for Armel Le Cléac'h, who has been suffering since the Azores from the effects of a low-pressure system, which he has been battling with after he went east round the Azores high pressure system.

It would be an understatement to say that he had another challenging night in the Bay of Biscay. But the sailor from Morlaix in Brittany, who has second place within his grasp is not one to gripe and complain, even if the conditions were hellish. He lost the protective cover on Brit Air, which slides over the cockpit was swept away in the night by a violent wave and the mainsail car was ripped off its track.

With winds averaging 35 knots (gusting to 45 in squalls) and 5 to 6 metre high waves on the beam, Armel le Cléac'h has chosen to sail cautiously towards the French coast, and the finish.

With the Annapolis based Farr design house claiming their first ever win in the Vendée Globe courtesy of Michel Desjoyeaux’s Foncia, the Finot-Conq designed Brit Air was sailing with three reefs in the mainsail and no headsail. This configuration enabled Le Cléach to grab a few short naps this morning. Second place beckons with his morning finish and he will relish the steak and chips he is looking forward to at the finish.

Looking down on Safran from up the mast. Image copyright Marc Guillemot/Safran/Vendée Globe.

Battling it out for third place on the water, Sam Davies, GBR (Roxy) and Marc Guillemot are also looking forward to finishing. For the moment, the advantage seems to be tipping back in favour of the French skipper, who has managed to get around the Azores high via the west. Sailing downwind in a 25-knot southwesterly wind, the VPLP-Verdier designed Safran was sailing at 15 knots boat speed, while Roxy was still tacking upwind close to the high-pressure area in fading winds. They are both expected to reach les Sables d'Olonne sometime after 13h00 on Tuesday 10th February, although Guillemot considers this to be rather optimistic.

Dee Caffari, GBR (Aviva) considers there will be further opportunities for her to close more miles on Brian Thompson, GBR (Bahrain Team Pindar) as the pair negotiate the high pressure system that has been the tipping point for the duo in front. Caffari, who has regained more than 250 miles to be 125 miles behind Thompson this afternoon, said today that she expects there to be a further three more slow areas on their path to Les Sables d’Olonne.

Dee Caffari down below on Aviva. Image copyright Dee Caffari/Aviva/Vendée Globe.

Dee Caffari, GBR, (Aviva): “I am much better, I have a much happier sea state and so I am a lot happier. The last 48 hours have just been hanging on to survive, it has been really, really uncomfortable. I have not seen that size of waves since the Southern Ocean. And we have been crashing into them and falling off these big waves, it has just been horrible.

I think it is juts the noise more than anything, it sounded horrible, but I had a good look round this morning and she still seems to be in fine fettle, so we are good to be pushing on.

I am in good too. I was a bit tired because it has been so difficult to sleep because we have been crashing around. I got some good sleep this morning as it was starting to ease off, so now I am ready out up some more sail to keep pushing on and see if I can beat this high pressure system.

I have just cracked off a little bit for a more comfortable ride, I am hading just west of north with a true wind angle of about 80 degrees.

I have been trying to catch him after losing three hundred miles in the Doldrums it has been really nice to just close the gap from him being 400 miles ahead, so I can try and fight my way back.

The weather is quite complex all the way into Les Sables, there will be opportunities for him to slow down, and the concertina effect to happen, or whether I just do the same or I am able to keep the pressure on. I am just going to have to wait and see.

The high is still a long way away, and there is still a very long way to go and we have go two or three sticking points ahead, and the last one being on the Bay of Biscay. It just depends if he gets ahead of them and it is just me that suffers, or whether we both suffer and are able to kind of race together. It will be interesting over the next week to see what happens.”

Armel Le Cléac'h's Brit Air. Image copyright Jean-Marie Liot/DPPI/Vendée Globe.

Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air): “Right up to the finish it’s going to be rough. We had yet another rough night, although it’s a bit calmer than yesterday afternoon and there have been some heavy squalls.

So around 2-3 this morning I took in three reefs and that’s all I have up. With only 200 miles to go to the finish, there’s no point in going crazy. The wind is going to strengthen again this afternoon, but is set to ease off a bit during the night. The seas are going to be rough tomorrow at the finish for the motor boats. I should finish in around 24 hours. To be precise, I’m 208 miles from Les Sables and at an average speed of 8.5 knots, I should finish just before noon GMT.

I didn’t get much sleep in the night, as I was in the shipping lane. I saw around ten cargo ships heading south, so I needed to remain alert. Yesterday, I suffered some damage. The protective cover over the cockpit was broken off by a huge wave and has now sunk somewhere in the Bay of Biscay. I had a problem too with my mainsail head car, which came off the track. If the winds ease off, I’ll try to take a look, otherwise it will remain hanging there.

The real problem is the rough weather is lasting a long time, as the low has been moving slowly with me and is now centred over Brittany. I’ve got just one meal left and am running out of gas. So everything was calculated correctly.

Traditionally when I finish, I always have steak and chips. I know that’s not really anything special, but it’s the tradition, when I do a transatlantic race or the Figaro. There are a lot of great images from this voyage, but personally I think the image that will stay with me is Cape Horn, which was great, as we rounded in reasonable conditions. Then there was also the emotion of Jean’s rescue.”

Raphaël Dinelli (Fondation Ocean Vital): “I’m really being battered by a huge low. I’m upwind in winds in excess of 40 knots, which is not easy. Yesterday after the episode in the Falklands, I ran into a calm, but now I’m in a deep low, which developed over Argentina and being to the east of the Falklands, I’m really on the wrong side of the low and it’s really tough. Tomorrow I should be sailing downwind in gales, but for now it’s really hammering me. I brought down my sails to repair the battens, but I wasn’t able to climb the mast as there was a swell left behind. It was just too dangerous to go up there. At least, I got hold of my medicine, so the stop was useful.”

Samantha Davies (Roxy): “I hope it will be five days and not six now. I have 10-12 knots of wind and I’m still sailing upwind. The seas are starting to calm, but yesterday there were some squalls with heavy seas and the wind quickly got up to 32 knots. Yet another rough night. It’s starting to calm now, but I hope it won’t calm too much. I’m likely to have calms this afternoon and evening, but I hope that by the end of the night, the wind will pick up again. I’m going to be working hard to make sure I don’t get slowed for too long and come out quickly on the other side of the high-pressure area.

I’m avoiding looking at Marc’s position, as that doesn’t change anything. I’m trying some witchcraft, but I’m not sure it will work. I twitch my nose and things like that. Although I like Marco, I don’t like the idea of losing any ground, so even a mile lost and I feel a bit stressed. What I’m missing most is my bathroom. That may surprise you, but I’m a real girl. The tough life on board isn’t much fun for a girl. Being without warm water, beauty products and warm towels is just not nice. I’ve been dreaming of spending hours in a nice bathroom ever since the start. I used to use washing-up liquid for my hair, but my hairdresser made me promise to take some shampoo with me for this Vendee Globe.”

Marc Guillemot up the mast of Safran. Image copyright Marc Guillemot/Safran/Vendée Globe.

Marc Guillemot (Safran): “I’ve just lowered the big spinnaker and hoisted the smaller one and am beginning to reap the benefits of my option. So I got away from the high without too much pain. Just a few hours of light winds and this morning, the wind picked up in the right direction and it should be getting better and better. I’m pleased to be through that. When you are sailing, you always have doubts. I always try to tell myself I am doing the right thing, even if the very best sailor has moments of self-doubt. You have to stick with your options. If you don’t believe in what you are doing, there’s no point in working hard. My routing is more optimistic than me as it shows I could arrive on the tenth sometime late in the afternoon, but I personally think the eleventh would be more realistic. I think the eleventh is fine, as Armel will be beyond my reach in any case, and Samantha will be behind. I’ll do my best to finish early in the morning, but we’re not there yet. Sailing under reduced sail will be less and less of a problem, as I get closer to the finish, as that configuration will be well adapted to the conditions ahead. I’m going to have to learn how to take in reefs again, as I haven’t had much practice recently.”

Vendée Globe

VOR: Bouwe Bekking Ready for the Qingdao In-Port Race

Bouwe Bekking in Qingdao. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Javier Sobrino

Just nine days after finishing the VO70-killer Leg 4, next step in the schedule of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/09 is the Qingdao in-port race. Only four out of seven boats (Team Russia pulled out before Leg 4) have been able to reach the Chinese port in time for this third race between buoys. Bouwe Bekking's TELEFONICA BLUE was not only one of those four, but the first to cross the finish line in Qingdao.

The Dutch skipper arrived with a serious injury to his back, generating some doubts about his participation in the next leg. Fortunately, the recovery programme is going well and Bouwe will be ready for the monster leg from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. "In the last two days I have made big jumps in the right direction," Bouwe explains. "I am on track with expectations and confident that I will be 100 percent ready for the next leg."

The next leg does not start until Saturday, 14th of February and before that there is another date in Bouwe's agenda: the third in-port race of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/09, which starts on Saturday, 7th February (tomorrow) at 5:00 hours GMT. "Of course I will do the in-port race! My job calling the tactics is easy from a physical point of view, and since the wind prediction looks very light, I can do it without any negative consequences."

After the tough Leg 4, only four boats will meet at the start line of Saturday's in-port race: TELEFONICA BLUE, Puma, Ericsson 4 and Green Dragon. Not ideal from the sporting point of view, but a good chance to add some valuable points to the basket. "It is a shame that not all the boats have made it here," Bouwe recognises. "The last leg has shown once again how hard this Volvo race is, and that you have to finish a leg to be successful. On the sailing side, racing against just three other boats will be a little different: If you have a good start, it will be easier to control the fleet, as there are only three other boats there. But, on the other hand, the approach is exactly the same as always, you go out there and try to beat them fair and square."

The rules provide that the winner of the in-port race wins 4 points and with just four boats involved the last home will still add 2.5 points. Thanks to two consecutive offshore wins, TELEFONICA BLUE stands second on the leaderboard, 3.5 points behind Ericsson 4 and 3.5 points ahead of Puma. The weather forecast of light winds may be a great opportunity for TELEFONICA BLUE to further close the gap with the leader, especially since the Spanish boat won the two in-port races in Alicante in similar conditions.

This will be the first time the boats race between buoys in freezing conditions. Not a problem for Bouwe, who lives in Denmark and knows exactly what to expect, "I am used to sailing in these conditions, but it will be an eye opener for some of the competitors. If water comes over the boat, it is very hard to keep your fingers warm. And, of course, you have way more clothes on than usual for an inshore race, so movement is restricted."

On-board TELEFONICA BLUE there will be a couple of new faces: "We are going to have two crew changes. Daryl (Wislang) has not recovered totally from the shoulder injury suffered during Leg 4; we are not going to take any risks, so we have Mike Pammenter standing in for him. Unfortunately, Pepe (Ribes) broke one finger yesterday, and will not be able to race tomorrow, so we will have Javier de la Plaza, from Telefónica Black. Apart from that, of course we're bringing our two powerhouse grinders: Jorge Ondo and Romolo Ranieri."

TELEFONICA BLUE was first to arrive in Qingdao on Thursday, 29th January. One day later, the boat was lifted out of the water for a complete check and general maintenance. Despite the atrocious conditions experienced by the Spanish VO70, the job list was short, apart from a little "surprise" the shore crew found when it started working on the boat. "We found that one of the engine mounts had wiggled itself lose," explains Bouwe, "and this had caused damage to the frame it rests on. Nothing major, but annoying. For the rest, no issues, which is why we could leave the shed on Wednesday."

One might think that the set up of the VO70s changes dramatically from offshore to in-port mode, but Bouwe explains that there are only a few changes made before leaving the dock for the in-port contests, "basically, we have the same set-up as offshore. The big difference is that we have a lot less weight onboard. No food, no spares, fewer sails, less fuel etc. In theory, we are more nimble when tacking and gybing - no stacking!" The team had its first contact with the in-port racecourse on Thursday, before undertaking some training races today (Friday).

After Saturday's in-port race, the TELEFONICA BLUE team has got another week of rest and preparation before the "monster" Leg 5: 12,300 nautical miles from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro, including the Southern Ocean and rounding the infamous Cape Horn. Bouwe explains the plans for the next seven days: "we'll take the boat out of the water again, as working ashore in these conditions is much easier than being in the water. Then we load the boat with all the equipment, stores and food, and go for a short sail to make sure everything is fine. Once we're satisfied everything is in order, there will be a couple of days off for the crew. On Saturday 14th, we start a very long leg, so it is crucial that everyone comes with their batteries fully charged"!

Bouwe Bekking

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Volvo Ocean Race Takes In-Port Racing to an Olympic Scale

Qingdao - China. Skippers Press Conference for In-port Race, Ian Walker - Green Dragon (pictured), Iker Martinez - Telefonica Blue, Torben Grael Ericsson 4, Ken Read - PUMA Ocean Racing. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Volvo Ocean Race media

The third in-port race day of the Volvo Ocean Race will feature just four entrants, but will be hotly contested nonetheless. Taking place on the same waters where the Olympic sailing was conducted last August, Saturday's competition features the top four teams on the overall race leaderboard.

Telefónica Blue, the winner of the last two legs of the Volvo Ocean Race, will have Spanish Olympian Iker Martinez at the helm when racing starts at 1300 local time tomorrow. Martinez earned a silver medal at the Games in Qingdao last summer. But, despite spending hundreds of hours on the race course area off Qingdao in the lead-up to the Olympics, he doesn't think he has an advantage over the others.

"We spent a lot of time sailing here to have good speed with our boat and to know about the wind and tides here [ahead of the Games]," he said at a press conference on Friday.

"But I think that with these boats, it's not going to make a big difference. I think this [local knowledge] isn't going to be the most important thing. In these short races, we have to do a lot of manoeuvres, and that's going to make the difference."
Torben Grael/BRA, the skipper of the overall race leader, Ericsson 4, says with the top four teams in the race on the start line, it's anyone's game tomorrow: "It should be an interesting race; any of the teams could win."

The forecast for race time tomorrow (1300 local time / 0500 GMT) is a challenging one for the teams. Very light winds are predicted, perhaps under five knots, and there is also a tidal current to contend with.

"If the current is as bigger factor as some say, and I'm not sure it is, it could be won at the start where you win an end and go to a side," said PUMA skipper Ken Read/USA. "We didn't see a whole lot of current out there yesterday [Thursday], but I need to be a bit more educated on that before I make any conclusions."

On Friday, all four teams took advantage of a practice day for the Race Committee to check out the race course area. Telefónica Blue, Ericsson 4 and PUMA took a couple of practice starts, while Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR), who was only lifted into the water this morning, headed out to the race course area, but didn't sail.

Being the fourth-placed team on the rankings and looking to close the gap with those ahead, as well as enjoying the status of 'home' favourite means the Green Dragon team has every reason in the world to perform well on Saturday. And skipper Ian Walker was looking on the bright side as he assessed his competitors, joking that at least "we're guaranteed a top four finish!"

He's also taken advantage of his friendships within the highly successful British Olympic sailing squad to glean some local knowledge.

"I have a lot of information which we are still looking through, stuff on the tide, but nothing too specific," he said. "The start is always the most important thing."
Two in-port races are scheduled for Saturday, although just one race is required for the day to be scored and count towards the overall rankings. The winning team on the day will earn four points, second place 3.5 points, third place three points and fourth place 2.5 points. The teams not participating in the in-port race (Ericsson 3, Telefónica Black, Delta Lloyd and Team Russia) will not earn any points.

Telefónica Blue Makes Crew Substitution

Qingdao - China. Skippers Press Conference for In-port Race, Ian Walker - Green Dragon, Iker Martinez - Telefonica Blue (pictured), Torben Grael Ericsson 4, Ken Read - PUMA Ocean Racing. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

After consulting with the International Jury: due to injuries to a crew member Telefónica Blue will substitute Pepe Ribes with Javier de la Plaza for tomorrow's in-port race.

Telefónica Blue
1. Iker Martinez ESP - skipper
2. Bouwe Bekking NED - tactician
3. Simon Fisher GBR, strategist
4. Tom Addis AUS - navigator
5. Gabriele Olivo ITA (media crew member)
6. Jonathan Swain RSA
7. Jordi Calafat ESP
8. Xabier Fernandez ESP
9. Pablo Arrarte ESP
10. Javier de la Plaza
11. Michael Pammenter RSA
12. Jorge Ondo ESP
13. Romolo Ranieri ITA

Racing is scheduled to start at 1300 local time in Qingdao, 0500 GMT.

Overall Leaderboard
1. Ericsson 4: 45 points
2. Telefónica Blue: 41.5 points
3. PUMA: 38 points
4. Green Dragon: 27.5 points
5. Ericsson 3: 24 points
6. Telefónica Black: 21 points
7. Delta Lloyd: 12 points
8. Team Russia: 10.5 points
** Ericsson 3 has suspended racing in leg four. If Ericsson 3 finishes the leg, the team will earn four points for a fifth place finish. If Ericsson 3 retires, the team will earn two points as a DNF.

Leg Four Finishing Order Qingdao
1. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) 8 points
2. PUMA (Ken Read/USA) 7 points
3. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael) 6 points
4. Green Dragon (Ian Walker) 5 points

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Ericsson 4 Looks to Continue In-Port Success

Torben Grael at the press conference before the in-port race in Qingdao. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Victoria Low

Ericsson Racing Team's International crew returns to action tomorrow with the Qingdao In-Port Race, the third such event of the 2008-'09 Volvo Ocean Race.

The International crew aboard Ericsson 4, led by skipper Torben Grael of Brazil, looks to continue its strong showing with another In-Port victory. Ericsson 4 won the Singapore In-Port race last month, and has tallied 45 points overall for a 3.5-point lead over second place.

The International crew returned to work on Wednesday after having been off since finishing Leg 4 on Jan. 29. Ericsson 4 finished third on the taxing leg that strained both boat and crew, but now the focus is on a good result.

"The conditions tomorrow could be far from ideal. In today's practice race we had light winds and thick fog, so if we are lucky it could get a race in, but equally we might not race. If we do, we will have to sail conservatively and not push the boats too much," commented Ericsson 4 skipper, Torben Grael.

This In-Port race will differ from the previous one in that four boats are racing as opposed to the seven that competed last month. Leg 4 severely damaged three boats including Ericsson 3, which is undergoing repairs in Hualien, Taiwan. It will not be ready to race this weekend.

The smaller fleet will have an impact on the In-Port tactics, says Ericsson 4's Stu Bannatyne, who calls tactics for the inshore racing.

"The small fleet will probably mean that boatspeed will be important because it won't be as difficult to get clear air," Bannatyne said. "We're going to have to have good speed and good maneuvers. I imagine the fleet will stay close together because no one will want to split too much."

Team meteorologist Chris Bedford is forecasting shifting winds for Saturday, when two races are planned beginning at 1:00 pm local time. Bedford predicts light northwesterly winds in the morning shifting around to east/southeast and perhaps building to 9 to 13 knots in the afternoon. He also expects smog in the morning and fog possibly in the afternoon.

"The forecast is for light winds and possible fog as well, which might make it hard to see what's going on," said Bannatyne. "Most likely we'll be racing with the Code Zero headsails. So we'll be looking to minimize maneuvers and stay in pressure, and hopefully that'll do the job for us."

The crew list for the In-Port is largely unchanged, although the team has brought in two new grinders. Australian Rodney Daniel and Jan Dekker of South Africa replace Brian MacInnes and Joe Spooner (both have conflicting prior engagements) as grinders. The full crew list is below.

Ericsson 4 crew list, Qingdao In-Port Race
Skipper: Torben Grael (Niterói, Brazil)
Navigator: Jules Salter (Cowes, England)
Tactician: Stu Bannatyne (Auckland, New Zealand)
Mainsail trimmer: Brad Jackson (Auckland, New Zealand)
Trimmers: Horácio Carabelli (Florianópolis, Brazil), Tony Mutter (Auckland, New Zealand), João Signorini (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Pitman: David Endean (Auckland, New Zealand)
Bowmen: Ryan Godfrey (Adelaide, Australia), Phil Jameson (Auckland, New Zealand)
Grinders: Rodney Daniel (Forster, NSW, Australia), Jan Dekker (Cape Town, South Africa)
Media crewman: Guy Salter (Titchfield, England)

Ericsson Racing Team

LVPS:Emirates Team New Zealand Wins on Waitangi Day

Emirates Team New Zealand in her race against Luna Rossa Challenge. Image copyright Chris Cameron/Emirates Team New Zealand.

by Warren Douglas

There was drama aplenty on the second day of round robin 2 of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.

BMW Oracle Racing was penalised one point for colliding with Team Origin in the pre-start of their match. Origin was penalised ½ point for contributing to the collision. They were sailing Emirates Team New Zealand yachts; damage was minor.

Origin led from the start and with Oracle closing on the first run could not raise a headsail as they approached the leeward gate and retired from the race. The problem was a break in the headfoil – a carbon fibre fitting that runs the length of the forestay into which the headsail is slotted. The yacht returned to base for a replacement foil to be fitted.

Both teams have filed protests and the jury will meet after racing is completed.

With NZL 92 out of action the race committee decided the Emirates Team New Zealand match against Luna Rossa would be sailed in the BMW Oracle boats.

That presented another small problem for officials: teams draw for the boat they will sail and in this case the draw was for NZL 92 and NZL 84.

Teams agreed to toss a coin. The team transfer boats came together for the toss – probably another first in top-level match racing for the LVPS.

China Team beat Greek Challenge by 2min 58 sec. The Greeks had trouble raising their headsail and went into the start box without one. They were penalised for failing to enter the start box within two minutes of the five-minute gun and then got another one for a port-starboard incident.

With two penalty turns required, Greek Challenge had little chance of winning. China Team sailed away from the start extending all the way.

The Emirates Team New Zealand-Luna Rossa match was the last of the day. Dean Barker and his afterguard won the start handily, hitting the start line at full speed, with Luna Rossa down-speed three boat lengths astern.

A last minute change of boat posed no problem to the crew of ETNZ. “We have to be adaptable in this type of event,” Barker said.

“We have very little time to prepare between each race, the conditions are forever changing and there is a lot happening out there. The guys slotted in straight away and in a way it was easier for us as we sailed the Oracle boats throughout round robin one.”

ETNZ controlled the first beat, maintaining a cover on Luna Rossa and extending the lead to four boat lengths, translating to 22 sec, at the top mark.

With the breeze a fairly steady 14 knots from the east, ETNZ sailed conservatively, staying in touch with Luna Rossa, always comfortably in control and extending.

The margin for ETNZ at the first leeward gate was 19 sec, at the second top mark 32 and at the finish 26 secs.

Tomorrow Emirates Team New Zealand is matched against Alinghi. “That will be a tough race – a good re-match ,” Barker said. “It won’t be easy, that’s for sure.”

Today’s results
Alinghi beat Damiani Italia 43sec
Pataugas K-Challenge beat Shosholoza 12sec
BMW Oracle Racing beat Team Origin (DNF)
China Team beat Greek Challenge 2min 58sec
Emirates Team New Zealand beat Luna Ross 26sec

Saturday’s Draw (in starting order)
Damiani Italia Challenge v BMW Oracle Racing
Greek Challenge v Team Shosholoza
Luna Rossa v Team Origin
China Team v Pataugas K-Challenge
Emirates Team New Zealand v Alinghi

Emirates Team New Zealand

LVPS: Luna Rossa Challenge Loses to Emirates Team New Zealand

Luna Rossa Challenge sailing against Emirates Team New Zealand. Image copyright Stefano Gattini/Luna Rossa Challenge.

by Luna Rossa Challenge media

Wind: SW 10 knots
Course: Windward - leeward of 1.4 miles (2 laps)

Luna Rossa Challenge on USA 98, Emirates Team New Zealand on USA 87.

Non-scoring race (as it involves Emirates Team New Zealand)

Start: Luna Rossa enters the box from the Committee Boat and attacks Emirates Team New Zealand who, in the final phases of the pre-start, gains control and starts on the favoured (right) side of the line and with better speed, whereas Luna Rossa crosses the start line with a delay of almost two boat lengths.

Luna Rossa attempts to shake her opponent’s control by attacking on the right, but Team New Zealand responds immediately by placing herself between her adversary and the mark, not allowing Luna Rossa to close the gap. A right wind shift increases Team New Zealand’s lead and the kiwis round the windward mark 23s ahead.

The distance between the two boats is such that Luna Rossa cannot close the gap significantly to resume contact with her opponent. At the gate Team New Zealand rounds the left mark, choosing the right side of the course once again. Luna Rossa tries to reduce the gap by rounding the other mark, in an attempt to look for a different wind on the left side of the course.

However, the relatively stable wind conditions keep the situation virtually unchanged and don’t allow Luna Rossa to regain a contact with her opponent. Team New Zealand rounds the windward mark with a 32s advantage, that Luna Rossa will reduce just slightly on the finishing line, which she will cross with a 26s delay.

Luna Rossa Challenge

LVPS: Victory for Alinghi Against Damiani Italia Challenge

Alinghi and Damiani Italia Challenge on the run. Image copyright Stefano Gattini/Damiani Italia Challenge.

by Daphne Morgan-Barnicoat

Alinghi vs. Damiani Italia Challenge
Gold Fleet, Match 2
Alinghi: port entry
Alinghi drew NZL84
Forecast: NE 15knots

Waitangi Day in New Zealand and Day 2 of the LVPS Round Robin 2 saw Alinghi meet Vasco Vascotto’s Damiani Italia Challenge for Match 1 of the day. Racing finally got underway at 11:35 after an aborted first start due to race committee error and Alinghi came in from the pin end – the two circled down deep into the box, turned up towards the line. Alinghi to leeward of Damiani Italia built speed and tacked onto starboard to take the right-hand side in the last few seconds to the gun.

Damiani took the first cross just a few metres ahead, but further up the beat all was to change: Damiani dialled Alinghi in an aggressive port starboard, pushed it a little too far tacking on the Swiss without giving them sufficient room, and took an immediate penalty. The Swiss snatched the lead and rounded the 1st windward mark 20seconds ahead. Downwind they extended to a 33second lead through the gate; top mark 2 saw a 1 second gain to 34 and by the finish Alinghi crossed 43seconds ahead.

Quote from the race boat – Dean Phipps, strategist, gives some insight

Q: Can you talk us through today’s pre-start?

DP: “For the second one we didn’t quite get the start that we wanted, we should probably have tacked over a little bit earlier and gone to the right when Damiani was setting himself up; with about 30 or 40 seconds to go we should have tacked and taken his stern and then set up to the right of him. That would have been preferable to starting on port and just sneaking around the committee boat, but we still got the right-hand side and made it difficult for them.”

Q: Can you explain what happened on the first beat – we saw a dial down and then a penalty on Damiani?

DP: “We thought they should have got 2 penalties actually; the first part being that just as we went into a tack, they started to dialled down so we went to 90degrees which is what we had to do to avoid, they went below 90 and just kept coming at us and then they turned up into a tack and we took their stern and then luffed them. They were unable to keep clear of us and took the penalty there. So they basically went below 90 to start with, so that should have been a penalty and so they definitely deserved the second one as we could potentially have hit them if we hadn’t pulled off. The jury decided that they had put themselves in a vulnerable position and that they had gained out of the manoeuvre and red-flagged them, an instant penalty.

“Our strategy from there was to be conservative, it was a windy day and we wanted to just try and keep things nice and smooth which I think the team does a good job of under pressure. We have sailed a lot together by now and things just click nicely together.”

Q: You must be getting used to sailing NZL84?

DP: “We’re still coming to terms with the boat, it doesn’t accelerate as nicely as 92 or as 100, but we’re slowly working it out!”

Q: And finally a word on Waitangi day...?

DP: “Waitangi day celebrates the day that our founding document was signed in 1840 between the Crown and the Maori chiefs to unite the country. It’s New Zealand’s day today. Matt Mitchell and I both have Maori ancestry and obviously I feel proud of that and we do our bit and fly the flag. Today we flew our Maori sovereignty flag on the Alinghi boat which is the one the Maori flew on Waitangi day many years ago.”

Other news of the day:
Jackson Tmaariki - Campbell from Ngati Whatua sailed as 18th man today onboard Alinghi. He is a young Maori water man and an accomplished waka sailor, who hails from the tribe in whose waters the LVPS is sailing.


Emirates team new Zealand vs Luna Rossa: 26second win to ETNZ
Team China vs Greek Challenge: 2minutes 58second win to Team China
BMW Oracle Racing vs TeamOrigin: 0 points to BOR and less .5 of a point to TeamOrigin (collision)
Pataugas K-Challenge vs Team Shosholoza: K-Challenge win by 20seconds


LVPS: The Reverse Side of the Medal for Damiani Italia Challenge

Damiani Italia Challenge keeps it close against Alinghi. Image copyright Stefano Gattini/Damiani Italia Challenge.

by Gabriele Cutini (in translation)

Medals, it is known, have two faces. The one coined by Damiani Italy Challenge to celebrate the victory in the match against Alinghi, second challenge of the second round robin of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, carried over on to two excellent starts and on the reverse a mistake led to defeat.

There were two starts because the first one, won by the Italian team, was cancelled by the Race Committee, which signalled incorrectly the early start of Vasco Vascotto's crew.

On the second start, put behind the America's Cup defender, the Italian crew managed the situation with a certain calm until nearly the first cross when, in the attempt to to defend the right hand, they committed a rule violation (the manoeuvre called Slam Dunk) sanctioned from the umpire as a penalty to be performed immediately.

Despite the defeat, the morale of the team appeared good, because, as Vasco Vascotto said: "For the umpteenth time we showed that we can play it with everything. We made a good start and we had no luck in the competition: we went to the right in the moment in which the oscillation of the wind touched the left to its utmost and at the crossing we found ourselves bow against bow".

In regard to the mistake, the skipper from Trieste declared: "We search for supermen when in reality we are sailors, capable but normal. In that circumstance we forget to do the simple things, or to speak the tongue that we know... The most important thing is to have understood the mistake, to metabolize it and to look at with trust to the next engagements".

Tomorrow, Damiani Italy Challenge will sail BMW Oracle Racing. Just like the match against Emirates Team New Zealand, the account is open: the crew of Russell Coutts, in fact, beat the Italians in the match disputed in the course of the first Round Robin.

Round Robin 2 - Gold Fleet Alinghi beats Damiani Italy Challenge; BMW Oracle Racing beats Team Origin; Emirates Team New Zealand beats Luna Rossa

Damiani Italia Challenge

LVPS: Shosholoza Keeps it Close, but Loses to the French

So close for Shosholoza, but honours go to the French

Shosholoza. Image copyright Guiliano Luzzatto.

by Di Meek

It was a must win for South Africa’s Team Shosholoza in today’s second race of Round Robin 2 of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series but although they kept it super tight and tactical it was the French Pataugas K-Challenge that ultimately triumphed from the tough four leg battle to take the honours.

“Sebastion (Col) did a much better job than I did on the pre-start and got away at the start with a boat length advantage. From then on they defended the right and stretched their lead a little bit by the end of the beat by pushing us into a double tack.

“On the run we split the gate and went right to get a couple of nice shifts and tacks and came back into the race very close but just not enough to make the jump and overtake them,” said Shosholoza skipper Paolo Cian.

In response to a question at the post race press conference from event director Bruno Trouble as to how Pataugas K-Challenge had managed to beat “a very good team” like Shosholoza, French skipper Col admitted that “it was a really tough race.”

“We were expecting it to be tough from the outset and straight from the pre-start it was very aggressive. But we got the advantage and were able to hold onto the lead around the course,” said Col who is currently ranked the top ISAF match racer in the world.

Said Shosholoza tactician Tommaso Chieffi: “It is such a short course so the start plays a big role. The French came in on starboard and had the starboard tack advantage. They made a fake dial-up to push us up to wind and we got stalled and by the time we got going again they were on our tail and kept pushing us away from the line.

“We had a deficit at the start of about 40 to 50 metres and then split to the left to create a big separation which paid off and we were back in the race. At the top mark we were 20 seconds, and kept us the chase on the second beat working our way by tacking back and forth to try and reel in French,” said Chieffi.

Shosholoza was 22 seconds behind at the leeward gate and at the final rounding had closed it up to just 15 seconds.

The South Africans kept up the battle down the final run zig sagging back and fourth and throwing everything they had to try and sail over the top of Patauga K-Challenge but although it was close the French held their lead to take the finish line with a delta of 14 seconds and win the race.

The world’s top ten teams featuring skippers and crews from the America’s Cup, the World Match Racing Tour and the Olympics are racing in the second round robin of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series that started in Auckland, New Zealand on 30 January.

The top six teams from the first round robin are now racing in a Gold Fleet. Shosholoza, the French Patauga K-Challenge, China Team and Greek Challenge are racing in the Silver Fleet of which the top two teams go forward to remain in the contest.

Shosholoza sponsored by MSC Crociere and Breil Milano races against Greek Challenge on Saturday (7th Feb) in the final race of Round Robin 2.

With New Zealand enjoying a national holiday that celebrates the Treaty of Waitangi - an agreement, in Maori and English, that was made between the British Crown and about 540 Maori rangatira (chiefs) in 1840 – there was a large spectator fleet out on the water and hundreds more watching the action from North Head.

In Auckland from Wellington for the Waitangi celebrations was the South African Honorary Consul Mr Gregory Fortuin. He didn’t hesitate to accept and invitation to visit the team and was warm and inspirational in welcoming them to New Zealand.

“For me as a personal appointee of President Nelson Mandela it is my pleasure to welcome you to New Zealand. Although you first and foremost represent Team Shosholoza you also represent yourselves, your family, friends and your respective countries. You should make yourselves and those you represent proud of what you do and in the process don’t forget to have fun!”

Mr Fortuin and his partner Christine Angus were presented with Team Shosholoza caps and in turn warmly welcomed by the team.

Today’s Results
Gold fleet
Alinghi beat Damiani Italia Challenge by 44 seconds
BMW Oracle Racing beat TEAMORIGIN (withdrew) -
Emirates Team New Zealand vs Luna Rossa by 20 seconds

Silver Fleet
Pataugas K-Challenge beat Team Shosholoza by 20 seconds
China Team beat Greek Challenge by 2 minutes 58 seconds

Points Overall

Gold Fleet
Alinghi - 2
BMW Oracle – 1 (and penalised by 1 point)
Emirates Team New Zealand – 1
Team Origin - -0.5
Luna Rossa - 0
Damiani Italia - 0

Silver Fleet
Pataugas K-Challenge – 2
China Team – 2
Team Shosholoza – 0
Greek Challenge – 0

Team Shosholoza

LVPS: Pataugas by K-Challenge Gets Challenger Sail-Off Berth

Sebastien Col at the helm of Pataugas by K-Challenge. Image copyright Franck Socha.

by Stephanie Nadin

The French team just won its second consecutive point in the silver fleet for Round Robin 2 against South-African Team Shosholoza. This day had a taste of revenge from the Louis Vuitton Cup 2007 between these two teams in Auckland, but the French won the point this time.

“Pataugas by K-Challenge” is now sure to go in the Challenger Sail Off of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, even if the team has one more match to race tomorrow against China Team to complete the Round Robin 2 in the silver fleet. As a reminder, Pataugas by K-Challenge defeated China Team in its first match of Round Robin 1.

Philippe Mourniac, Navigator: «this match was really interesting as we were very close from the harbor, with lots of “no go” zones, and short courses (1.5 miles). Sebastien really did a great job on the start: we were on Shosholoza's back, Sebastien put a lot of pressure on Paolo Cian during five minutes, he never let him alone, and then we started in front. So really a tremendous job from Sebastien on the start. Then it was also a great job from the rest of the team that made it possible to keep Shosholoza behind us all the time.

We are part of the teams who need to sail, so the more we can sail, the more races we do, the more we will improve. We really feel that the confidence in each one of us, in the group, is different every day.

The two firsts of this silver fleet will meet the two lasts of the gold fleet in the Challenger Sail Off, so we will find ourselves in a configuration where the two leaders of the silver fleet will start the battles with two or three wins behind them, which is going be the contrary for the ones from the gold fleet. So psychologically speaking, it is always better to be in a winning atmosphere. But we don't lie to ourselves, if the gold fleet teams are where they are, it is because they have a real potential. So this will be balanced.”

Rod Dawson, Tactician: “It was a really tough race today, Sebastien got a fantastic start, and basically we had Shosholoza locked out about the committee boat, so we were in control at the start, and we were able to choose the side of the race course that we wanted on the right. From there we just wanted to control them till the finish, and our goal was not to extend our lead, so we didn't take too many risks.”

Pataugas by K-Challenge will race against China Team tomorrow to complete the Round Robin 2 races in the silver fleet, and before starting the Challenger Sail Off leading to the quarterfinals.

Race details:
Mark 1 : 0:20 seconds for Pataugas by K-Challenge
Mark 2 : 0:22 seconds for Pataugas by K-Challenge
Mark 3 : 0:15 seconds for Pataugas by K-Challenge
Finish : 0:14 seconds for Pataugas by K-Challenge

Pataugas by K-Challenge

LVPS: Greek Challenge Sadly Thwarted by Gear Failure

Grek Challenge. Image copyright Pierre Orphanidis/Greek Challenge.

by Pierre Orphanidis

A gear failure beyond the control of the Greek Challenge crew cost them the race against China Team and their chance to move on to the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series quarterfinals. In a day marked by breakages in almost all races, the first ever America’s Cup team from Greece suffered in the prestart when the crew was unable to hoist the jib due to gear failure.

Since the 10-minute prestart sequence had begun the Greeks were denied a postponement of the start and had to try to enter the start box with just their mainsail while at the same time trying to fix the problem. World match racing champion Ian Williams on China Team took advantage of the situation and pushed the Greek boat out of the start box. With 2 minutes to go Greek Challenge was given a penalty for failing to enter and 1 minute later another one. Unfortunately, the race was over before it even started for the Greeks as China Team sailed conservatively and crossed the finish line ahead.

In the day’s most thrilling match, Team Origin conceded defeat to BMW Oracle when a similar failure in their headfoil sent the British home halfway through the race.

In the other race of the Silver Fleet, Pataugas K-Challenge scored a convincing victory over South Africa’s Shosholoza. China Team and Pataugas K-Challenge will move to the quarterfinals, regardless of Saturday’s results while the Greeks and the South Africans will face each other for the final match of Round Robin 2 and in a second confrontation for 8th and 9th place overall, next week.

Quotes of the day

Gavin Brady (NZL), helmsman of Greek Challenge: “We had a gear failure on the boat. The jib wouldn’t go in the foil and as a result we had to pull our jib down for the start. We were then unable to pull the jib back up and tried to enter without a jib, something very hard. When we found out what the problem was we were not close to the start line and had to go to the start line with just the mainsail up.

"The race committee wouldn’t postpone the start and we didn’t enter the start box because we were on port entry. If we were on starboard entry it would have been much easier. We would have just gone with the main and dealt with the problem”.

The frustrated Kiwi helmsman added that “there was nothing we could do; we couldn’t start the race properly. We got the jib up with two minutes to go and they gave us a penalty and then another one. With two penalties, one of which had to be done right away, there was nothing we could do.

"We can’t protest because the umpires decision is final, which is good, because otherwise we would have endless protests and hearings and nobody wants that. That’s the way it is and we will have to accept it.”

Sotiris Buseas (GRE), aft grinder and Greek Challenge CEO: “You know, Greeks never give up and never abandon a race, regardless of the circumstances. Due to this gear failure, beyond our control, we were unable to race. Our helmsman asked me to abandon the race but that was not an option. I asked the crew to go ahead and sail until we crossed the finish line.

"We came to the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series to sail with our heart and that’s what we have done. We will win with our mind in future races.”

LVPS: A Day of Drama and Intrigue for BMW ORACLE Racing

TEAMORIGIN and BMW ORACLE Racing full on. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

by Jane Eagleson

The much-anticipated match between BMW ORACLE Racing and Team Origin was full of drama and excitement, but ended in bizarre fashion when Team Origin withdrew after just two legs with damage to their headsail foil and indicated they would be heading to the protest room to dispute an on-the-water ruling resulting from a pre-start incident.

Team Origin's withdrawal left BMW ORACLE Racing to sail around the course alone and finish with the victory. However, a collision during the aggressive pre-start saw the yachts leave the line with a hard-contact penalty against BMW ORACLE Racing. This collision occured as the yachts peeled apart from a tight dial-up. BMW ORACLE Racing had the British team in all kinds of trouble, pinned in the dreaded "coffin corner" to the left hand side of the startline and with very few options.

As the yachts bore away from the dial-up to start their run for the line, BMW ORACLE Racing headed away on port tack, while Team Origin bore away onto starboard tack. When they split apart, the two transoms touched lightly and BMW ORACLE Racing received a penalty.

After a spirited tacking duel up the first windward leg and constantly attacking on the downwind leg, BMW ORACLE Racing was close astern of Team Origin as they charged towards the leeward gate. BMW ORACLE Racing rounded the left hand side of the gate, while Team Origin headed for the right side. But, unable to hoist a genoa because of a damaged headstay foil, Team Origin kept sailing downwind away from the course and withdrew from the race.

Although they completed their penalty turn during their lone march around the second half of the race, the rules of the this regatta are that teams have points removed for "hard-contact" penalties. The initial ruling on the water was that BMW ORACLE Racing would be docked 1 point, while Team Origin would lose half a point. BMW ORACLE Racing was not aware of any contact, but accepted the ruling. Team Origin came off the water flying a red flag, indicating a potential protest against the Race Committee.

After a brief hearing, chairman of the International Jury Dyer Jones announced that the on-the-water rulings would stand and confirmed BMW ORACLE Racing would lose 1 point and Team Origin would lose 0.5pt.

Other Gold Fleet results:
Alinghi beat Damiani Italia Challenge
Emirates Team New Zealand beat Luna Rossa Challenge

In the Silver Fleet:
Pataugas K-Challenge beat Team Shosholozas
China Team beat Greek Challenge


LVPS: Testing Times for TEAMORIGIN

TEAMORIGIN leads BMW ORACLE Racing on the first downwind leg. Image copyright Ian Roman.

by Leslie Ryan

An easterly fresh wind greeted the competitors on day two of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series here in Auckland. The inner race course was being used providing a narrow and challenging race track.

Race one between Alinghi and Damiani Italia saw Damiani win the first start and lead upwind only to have a erroneous ‘over the line’ call scupper the race which was re-started 20 minutes later. Damiani again led off the start line but gained a penalty up the beat forcing them back behind Alinghi. Alinghi went on to win giving them two points so far in RR2.

TEAMORIGIN were next up in race 3 against BMW Oracle, an important race for the guys to get them back into winning mode. Wind was still a fresh 18 knots and Sir Keith Mills climbed aboard as 18th man for what promised to be an exciting match. A short delay ensued whist a cargo ship went through and then the action started.

Russell Coutts, helmsman on BMW Oracle, seemed intent on close combat with Ben Ainslie and the two engaged actively before the start. TEAMORIGIN were at one stage pinned in by BMWO and looked to be in trouble but then managed to gybe away and at the same time inflict a penalty on BMW Oracle for not keeping out of their way. Contact was made between the two boats at the time of the incident. TEAMORIGIN crossed the line ahead and to leeward by around 50m.

The pair headed upwind and following numerous tacks by both teams, TEAMORIGIN lead around the windward mark by 13 seconds, incredibly close but with BMW Oracle still to do their penalty. The downwind leg remained close with TEAMORIGIN holding onto their lead.

At the leeward left hand gate TEAMORIGIN still retained the lead, dropped the kite and seemed to have trouble hoisting the jib. They had to carry on downwind and it appeared that the bolt rope on the headsail had pulled out and hence the jib could not be hoisted. Once there is a fracture in the headfoil there is nothing that can be done to repair it there and then and the boat cannot go upwind without a headsail so this led to them having to retire from the race and head back to shore, leaving BMW Oracle to complete their race alone, carry out their penalty and win the race. However having incurred a penalty for contact before they race they were docked a point and therefore end up on 0 points for that race.

Furthermore, despite inflicting a penalty on BMW Oracle before the start, TEAMORIGIN were also deemed to hold some responsibility for what was seen as unnecessary contact between the boats and were docked half a point (a regulation of this regatta to ensure teams do everything possible to avoid contact and therefore damage to any of the boats) and so end today with a – 0.5, despite having sailed an impressive race until equipment failure hit them and forced retirement.

TEAMORIGIN did protest on this matter but the Jury upheld their decision.

Iain Percy, Tactician, commented: “We were undoubtedly in the right in that incident and felt that we had done all we could to check our turn and avoid contact and so thought there was a good chance that the Jury would remove the half point penalty. They deliberated for a long time and unfortunately decided to stick with the regulation set down by this specific even.”t (penalising any team for contact between boats)

Other results from day two of RR2:
Alinghi 1 : Damiani Italia 0
K Challenge 1 : Shosholosa 0
BMW Oracle 0 : TEAMORIGIN – 0.5
(BMWO win race but incurred a contact penalty so get docked a point = 0 points; TEAMORIGIN retired due to equipment failure but get docked half a point as they were also involved in contact before the start = -0.5)
China Team 1 : Greek Challenge 0
Emirates TNZ 1 : Luna Rossa 0


Friday 6 February 2009

Louis Vuitton Pacific Series: Round Robin 2 Day Two Report

TEAMORIGIN leads BMW ORACLE Racing downwind. Image copyright Ian Roman.

by Louis Vuitton Pacific Series media

Race 1: Alinghi beat Damiani Italia Challenge, 44s

With the start box set well inside the city end of the harbour for the first time, both Alinghi and Damiani Italia Challenge, the giantkiller of the previous day, needed to kill time in the final seconds to the startgun. Alinghi helmsman Ed Baird tried to trap Damiani Italia Challenge between the line and the committee boat, but the Italian helmsman Francesco Bruni found enough room to sail over the top of Alinghi and cross the line with speed heading to the left. Alinghi dipped down under the Italian boat and headed to the right.

Damiani Italia Challenge was ahead at the first cross and snatched the right hand side while Alinghi sailed off towards Rangitoto. When the boats came together again, two-thirds of the way up the beat, alinghi had made a sizeable gain and Damiani Italia Challenge dialed down pointing at Alinghi to protect their hold of the right. Baird had time to safely duck underneath the Italians, but Bruni's attempt to then slam dunk Alinghi didn't work, tacking too close and not making an effort to get clear. The Italians were then handed a red-flag penalty - to carry out a 360 degree turn immediately - for gaining control from the move. Alinghi then powered away, rounding the top mark 21s ahead, and were never challenged.

Mark 1 - 0:21 Alinghi
Mark 2 - 0:33 Alinghi
Mark 3 - 0:35 Alinghi
Finish - 0:44 Alinghi

Race 2: Pataugas by K-Challenge beat Team Shosholoza, 20s

Pataugas by K-Challenge leads Team Shosholoza downwind. Image copyright Franck Socha.

Sebastien Col, driving Pataugas by K-Challenge, made the most of his starboard tack entry to the start box and hunted Paolo Cian, who was steering Team Shosholoza. After herding the South African boat out to the right, Col led his opponent back to the line, the boats almost in line-ahead formation and the French with a one boatlength advantage. Cian split looking for better breeze but still trailed the first time they crossed. The South African boat kept it close all around the course but the honours went to the French.

Mark 1 - 0:20 Pataugas by K-Challenge
Mark 2 - 0:22 Pataugas by K-Challenge
Mark 3 - 0:15 Pataugas by K-Challenge
Finish - 0:14 Pataugas by K-Challenge

Race 3: BMW ORACLE Racing beat TEAMORIGIN (rtd.)

TEAMORIGIN leads BMW ORACLE Racing during the racing. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Russell Coutts for BMW ORACLE Racing was relentless in his attacks on TEAMORIGIN's Ben Ainslie in the pre-start. With the seconds counting down after a long dialup, Ainslie made his bid to break clear. There was hard contact as the boats split away and the umpires docked Coutts one point and Ainslie half a point. The start was Ainslie's and the young Briton staved off Coutts' efforts to grab the lead on the first weather leg and kept it close for the next run until disaster struck approaching the leeward mark.

The headsail wouldn't feed into a damaged headfoil and the British boat sailed down past the mark, its bow draped with the ungathered spinnaker and crew working furiously to get the jib up. TEAMORIGIN was forced to retire and lost half a point. The Americans finished the race but their victory point was cancelled out by their penalty point. Both teams indicated they would appeal the umpires' decision.

TEAMORIGIN and BMW ORACLE Racing cross tacks. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Mark 1 - 0:14 TEAMORIGIN
Mark 2 - 0:18 BMW ORACLE Racing
Mark 3 - BMW ORACLE Racing
Finish - BMW ORACLE Racing

Race 4: China Team beat Greek Challenge, 2m 58s

The hapless Greek Challenge sopped two penalties well before the start gun in their showdown with China Team. The first came when the Greeks, with new Zealander Gavin Brady at the helm, failed to enter the start box within two minutes of the five-minute signal. Seeing the Greeks had a problem hoisting their jib, China Team skipper Ian Williams made a beeline for them and as the starboard boat, forced the Greeks to tack away before they got into the box.

Williams and his ever-improving team made life impossible for Brady's crew, bouncing them off every time they tried to enter. The Greek Challenge got penalized again after a port-starboard incident trying to get around China Team. Forced to cancel one of their penalties immediately after the start, the Greeks trailed China by 39s at the first mark. When they completed their second turn at the finish line, crossing 2m 58s behind, the loss effectively shattered the Greeks' hopes of advancing any further in this regatta.

Mark 1 - 0:39 China Team
Mark 2 - 0:40 China Team
Mark 3 - 0:45 China Team
Finish - 2:58 China Team

TEAMORIGIN and BMW ORACLE Racing. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Race 5: Emirates Team New Zealand beat Luna Rossa Challenge, 26s

To celebrate New Zealand's Waitangi day, Emirates Team New Zealand experienced that winning feeling again with a conservative but comfortable victory over the Italian Luna Rossa team. It was a busy pre-start, with both boats sliding backwards head-to-wind then Emirates Team New Zealand wildly waving protest flags that were all ignored.

The New Zealanders had a distinct advantage at the start, quickly establishing a three-boatlength lead that extended to 23s after a drag-race to the top mark. Little change downwind, and on the second weather leg, Luna Rossa went hard left in search of its own packet of breeze. But Dean Barker and his crew benefited even more from pressure on the right and, keeping a loose cover over their opponents, were always in control. It was also the perfect birthday present for ETNZ crewman Jeremy Lomas.

Mark 1 - 0:23 ETNZ
Mark 2 - 0:22 ETNZ
Mark 3 - 0:32 ETNZ
Finish - 0:26 ETNZ

Crew of Luna Rossa Challenge. Image copyright Stefano Gattini/Luna Rossa Challenge.

Louis Vuitton Pacific Series

Louis Vuitton Pacific Series: Explanation of the Series' Racing

Louis Vuitton Pacific Series race schedule, copyright Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.

Results of Round Robin 1 in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, copyright Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.

Current results in Round Robin 2 of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, copyright Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.

Current positions in the progress through the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, copyright Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.

The race set-up from the Challenger Sail-Offs to the Finals of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, copyright Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.

Louis Vuitton Pacific Series

Hardy Cup 2009: Victory for New Zealand as Adrian Short Takes Title

2009 Hardy Cup winners from New Zealand: Adrian Short, Harry Thurston and Michael Edmonds. Image copyright Aline Van Haren.

by Peter Campbell

Nineteen-year-old New Zealander Adrian Short outsailed favourites Evan Walker and Nicky Souter on Sydney Harbour today to score an upset victory in the prestigious Hardy Cup ISAF Grade 3 under 25 match-racing regatta.

Short and his crew of mainsheet hand Harry Thurston (19) and bowman Michael Edmonds (20) won the Cup with a 2-0 defeat of defending Hardy Cup champion Walker in the semi-finals, then Souter, the Australian women’s match-racing champion, in a 3-1 final encounter.

Adrian Short (NZL) leads Nikki Souter (AUS) in the last race of the finals. Image copyright Aline Van Haren.

It was the first time in the history of the Hardy Cup that an all-women crew has reached the final, and they went down fighting in an aggressive tacking duel with the New Zealanders.

The women’s performance augers well for Australia’s prospects for the London 2010 Olympic Games where the Elliott 6 used in the Hardy Cup will be the class for the women’s keelboat match-racing.

Nikki Souter (AUS) stays on the tail of Evan Walker (NZL) during the finals, matching gybe for gybe. Image copyright Aline Van Haren.

“We had an all-the-way win in the first flight after Nicky received a starting line infringement,” Short said after the final. “In the final race we won the start, only to be rolled by the girls. However, they incurred two penalties in a fierce tacking duel and that gave us the race and the Cup.”

The crew from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland will now represent New Zealand at the Nation’s Cup in Brazil, where they may meet Nicky and her crew of Rayshele Martin, Kylie McKillop and Libby Taylor who were sailing for the Australian Sailing Development Squad.

Nikki Souter and crew from the Australian Sailing Development Squad. Image copyright Aline Van Haren.

Yachting Australia will choose the team for the Nation’s Cup next week.

Short was overwhelmed by his win. “We only just made the cut to go into the Pool A mini round-robin to decide the finalists and even then we were at the bottom of the rankings going into the finals,” he said after his final victory.

“It was a really tough series and Nicky and her crew were formidable opponents in the final as we had to fight back after losing the first flight,” he added.

“It’s really exciting doing so well against the men,” Souter said. “It got pretty windy this afternoon, with the nor’easter gusting to 20 knots. As soon as the wind kicked in we knew they were from Auckland.”

A nor'easter favours the Auckland team of Adrian Short. Image copyright Aline Van Haren.

“However, two penalties cost us the penultimate race. With two penalties, we had to exonerate ourselves immediately and that was the end,” Souter added.

In the Petit Final, Evan Walker, representing the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, beat Phil Robertson, from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, 2-0.

The Hardy Cup has given young New Zealand sailors two major match-racing victories in Australian waters, with Phil Robertson winning the Warren Jones Youth Regatta in Perth last week and Adrian Short now winning the Hardy Cup in Sydney.

Final Standings:

1 Adrian Short, RNZYS
2 Nicole Souter, ASDS
3 Evan Walker, CYCA
4 Phil Robertson, RNZYS
5 David Chapman, RSYS
6 Peter Nicholas, RFBYC
7 Matthew Steven, RPNYC
8 Silja Lehtinen, NJK
9 Tom Spithill, RPAYC
10 Lucinda Whitty, RSYS
11 Amanda Scrivenor, ASDS
12 Yuki Nagahori, HMYC

Hardy Cup

Hardy Cup: Panama Jack Racing Finish Fourth

Phil Robertson (Boat 3) chasing Evan Walker (Boat 4) in the petit-final. Image copyright Aline Van Haren.

by Garth Ellingham

It was a tough and disappointing day for the team, at the Hardy Cup on Sydney Harbour, Australia. After going down 2-0 to Nikki Souter (AUS) we then lost the petite final 2-0, putting us 4th overall. We never really fired this regatta, we struggled in the pre-start a little, purely because the boats are so manouverable making it hard to trap someone or use our skill and experience to our advantage.

Our Semi-Final against Nikki was tough. With the girls being heavier helped their speed upwind but that wasn't the winner. She sailed really well and the two races against her she came off the line slightly better each time.

Evan Walker (AUS) was then our opponent in the Petite final. He also had a tough loss after picking our fellow RNZYS team Adrian Short as his opponent, going down 0-2. We sailed a little bit better against him but we still weren't at the top level we knew we had in us. We lost the first race in the start and then the second one we were ahead but failed to gybe for pressure and got passed downwind. It just wasn't our day

We would also like to congratulate the other RNZYS team, Adrian Short, for taking out the Final 3-1.

Panama Jack Racing

Hardy Cup

VOR: Challenge of the Qingdao In-Port Race

Qingdao - China: Telefonica Blue head out for training, prior to the start of the in-port race. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Riath Al-Samarrai

With the memories of an upwind pounding in gale force winds and rough seas still fresh in the mind, a challenge of a very different kind is now on the agenda for this weekend's in-port race.

For while gusts of 55 knots and more occasionally rocked the boats in leg four, Saturday's race around the buoys will barely reach a tenth of that, according to Chris Bedford.

Telefonica Blue motoring out of Qingdao for a practice sail. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

The Ericsson Racing Team meteorologist is currently forecasting a breeze between two and six knots, with the direction fluctuating between the south-west and south-east.

"Right now it looks very, very light," he said. "We seem to have high pressure sitting right over us which is not a good thing as it shuts down the gradient wind. That leaves us with just thermal breezes and it is the middle of winter here. It's not impossible to get a sea breeze and, in fact, we could a bit of one on Saturday but I think it will be light."

He added: "In the morning we are likely to get an offshore wind and that could actually be 10 knots for a little while, but by midday or 1pm (when the first of the day's two races is scheduled to start) that should start dying down and swinging around to some kind of southerly direction. I put in my forecast today that we would be measuring wind-speed in tenths of knots.

"I can see it being anywhere from two to six knots. The best scenario is if the morning land breeze is stronger because it is cold and has a lot of momentum and might continue to carry out to the first race. If that doesn't hold they won't be left with a lot."

A lack of breeze will not be the only challenge facing the four boats that line up for the third inshore session of the event.

"The other problem is we have the tidal current here which can be significant: it could be up to a knot in the first race," Bedford added. "For the second race it will be turning so it might not be so bad. A knot of current with two knots of breeze is not a pretty picture."

Telefonica Blue heads out of Qingdao, as seen from the harbour front. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

There is some good news in the forecast however. The temperature should be the mildest the city has seen since the boats arrived in Qingdao, with afternoon highs forecast to break 10-degrees under mostly sunny skies.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Telefonica Black Heads for Rio

Telefonica Black moored in Subic Bay, Luzon Island, Philippines, after retiring from leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race with structural damage. She is now back in Singapore. Image copyright Mikel Pasabant/Telefonica Black/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Riath Al-Samarrai

Pedro Campos, the CEO of the Telefonica campaign, has confirmed the Black boat will not return to the track until the Rio de Janeiro in-port race.

The boat suffered serious damage on the leg four passage from Singapore, cracking their hull after a week at sea before ultimately retiring in the Philippines.

Initially the team was silent on their chances of making it to Qingdao for the February 14 leg five start, but now, after sailing the boat back to Singapore, the syndicate has revealed its intention to send Black to Brazil by ship early in March.

“The security of the crew is the first thing we are thinking about,” Campos said. “We know that the crew would like to cross Cape Horn but security is the first priority.”

According to a team statement, the boat will now be loaded onto a container ship in the “coming days” to be transported to the port of Sepetiba, in Rio. The boat will then be moved to the race port. A replacement component for the damaged hull is being built at Alginet ship yard in Valencia.

Campos added: “After the arrival in Rio, half of the points will still be available in the race. The objective of the team is to try to win the coming legs and the next in-port racing. The second objective is to give to the Spanish crew the maximum experience of high level ocean racing.

“Our idea is to have the boat in Brazil in the early days of March to be 100 per cent ready for the in-port race.”

The move is likely to have implications on the team’s battle with Ericsson 3 for fifth place. The Nordic crew currently hold fifth and a three-point cushion on the Black boat, but intend to complete leg four and enter the points-rich fifth stage.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Delta Lloyd: "We'll be back"

Delta Lloyd moored in Taiwan. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Volvo Ocean Race media

Delta Lloyd will be a fighting force when they return to the race in Rio de Janeiro, according to skipper Roberto 'Chuny' Bermudez.

The team is currently waiting in Taiwan for a ship to deliver them to Brazil, a regrettable consequence of the severe damage they sustained on leg four.

It has left them seventh in the rankings with 12 points, but the Spanish skipper is confident they can scoop some good results in the second half of the race.

"We now have more time for preparation and it allows us to do all these (repair) jobs well," he said. "When we come back we can fight all these teams for some good results before the finish."

To achieve that ambition, changes to the boat are afoot. In addition to comprehensive repairs to the bow bulkhead, which cracked half a day before they suffered delamination in the bow, they also plan to step a new mast and introduce some new sails.

Bermudez further hinted that changes to the shore and sailing crews could be on the horizon.

"Now we have the opportunity to do a proper job and to carry through a few changes in the sailing and shore crew," he said. "We lost points and we won't round Cape Horn, but we have to think in the interest of the team. We will be back in Rio to fight with the best teams."

Despite the reality that they will now miss leg five, Bermudez does not regret the decisions taken on the trip from Singapore to China.

"I always tried to make the best decision for the future of our race," he said. "At that first attempt to cross over to Taiwan, we damaged the mainsail and wheel in 50 knots of wind. According to the forecast for the following twelve hours, the breeze would drop. We went back to the Philippines and waited for the storm to pass. The crew of PUMA did the same."

Team Delta Lloyd suspended racing before resuming their leg the next day. Bermudez added: "We had four boats ahead of us and we were close to Green Dragon. But we were fighting the weather and not the competition. The combination of a strong northern breeze, southern current and shallow water made it a rough crossing. Due to the problems with the main, we sailed carefully with the keel more to the center. It was only in the last moments that we broke the boat. We had four to eight hours to go to pass the worst part of the storm."

First the crew discovered a crack in the bow bulkhead and half a day later the delamination.

"A quick repair was no option for me," Bermudez added. "Our job list is the biggest in the fleet, as we also have a new mast and sails. To do all the work fast would be a disaster."

Volvo Ocean Race