Saturday 21 February 2009

VOR: PUMA fighting for the lead during longest leg of Volvo Ocean Race

by Kate Fairclough

PUMA’s first week at sea during the epic 40 day leg from Qingdao, China to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the longest ever leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, has been wet and wild. In negotiating their way from freezing China to pass the southern tip of Japan en route into the Pacific Ocean, the largest ocean on earth, the PUMA Ocean Racing team and close rival Ericsson 4 have been sailing barely more than a few miles apart. However, the upcoming equator crossing, which almost always goes hand-in-hand with light winds, is likely to shake up the fleet.

Early next week, the PUMA Ocean Racing team will cross the equator for the third time during this race, as they delve south towards New Zealand and on towards the notorious sailing landmark, Cape Horn. Once more the Volvo Ocean Race fleet is daring to sail into the unknown, no professional yacht race having ever taken this route around the planet before. The tactical decisions made by the team, led by Skipper Ken Read (USA) and Navigator Andrew Cape (AUS) will decide the team’s fate in this section of the 12,300 nautical mile leg.

Skipper Ken Read (USA) commented: “The competition out here is phenomenal. You would think that in a 12,000 plus mile leg you could get out and spread out and relax a bit... anything but that. We live and die on every three hour sched [position report] to see how our efforts have been rewarded, or not. It is a huge ocean out here. One thing we also have to contend with is zero knowledge of the distant future with regard to weather. Capey spends all his time trying to see into a crystal ball with regard to planning our path now with regard to where we want to be a week or even more from now. It’s pretty tricky stuff.”

“I have been in some smelly situations, but the interior of this boat is rapidly passing them all as a top player in this weeks "smelliest place on earth". Essentially we left Qingdao with everything on our bodies we owned. It was cold, and for two days, very wet. Even with great outer wear, which I have to plug our buddies at PUMA for knocking it out of the park on their first attempt, everything is damp. And occasionally wet. The entire interior is wet, and everywhere you sit is wet. Thank god for PUMA shorts with gortex butt pads.”

And there hasn't been a single second of drying since the start. Blasting across to Japan... drenching. From Japan through the Black Current... warmer but still very wet on deck. Since then? Non-stop spray. Of the fire house variety. Zero chance of getting stuff out to dry out the moisture. Water to the face that is and consistent pounding of the bow into every wave. The temperature has now gone from reasonable to quite hot - and you have a pretty sketchy odour right now. By the way, none of us humans smell very peachy either for that matter.”

Leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race is expected to take 35 – 40 days to complete. The Volvo Ocean Race is made up of ten legs, finishing in June 2009 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

PUMA Ocean Racing

Volvo Ocean Race

Vendée Globe: Victory Sail up the Thames for Dee Caffari

Dee Caffari celebrating her World Record at the end of her Vendée Globe. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/DPPI/Vendée Globe.

by Vendée Globe media

Dee Caffari, who, by completing her Vendée Globe on 16th February, became the first woman to sail solo non stop both ways around the world, will be bringing Aviva up the River Thames on Monday 2nd March. She will be leaving from Greenwich at two in the afternoon and sailing up under Tower Bridge to dock alongside HMS President at 17h30 GMT.

Vendée Globe

VOR: Primed for Re-entry

Bowman Martin Krite takes a reef in on the mainsail on Ericsson 3 en route to Rio De Janeiro on Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Mark Chisnell

The end of the long and winding road to the Doldrums is in sight. But the light at the end of the tunnel is going to be a train coming the other way for some of these crews, as the fleet scatters across the Pacific. Measured from the south-west to the north-east, the spread from PUMA to Green Dragon is now over 200 miles – that’s a whole lot of leverage, and not everyone will have got it right.

At 10:00 ZULU the fleet was blasting south-east, well and truly into the north-east trade winds. The wind speed was back up to 20 knots, and the wave height was up to six metres. Back to life at the extreme – as reported by Simon Fisher (I’m not holding a grudge against him stealing my Groundhog Day Link). And with everyone sailing on the same south-easterly course (within ten degrees) it looks like the skippers and navigators have all picked their lane for the re-entry into the Doldrums.

At the front of the fleet, Ericsson 4 and PUMA are inseparable on the leaderboard, still just a handful of miles apart on the Distance to Leader (DTL) measure. But they are drifting apart on the water – now separated by over 40 miles west-to-east. Behind them, Ericsson 3 has taken a good 50 miles out of the leaders on the DTL. This has been at the expense of her windward position. She’s sailed a wider, faster wind angle into the wake of her sistership. Ericsson 3 is now just over 60 miles directly behind her. Not bad for a boat that started seven hours late.

Meanwhile, to the north, we have another milestone in Telefonica Blue’s comeback – they passed Ian Walker and the Green Dragon on the 01:00 ZULU Position Report earlier this morning. After hitting a rock just before the start in Qingdao, forcing them to haul the boat out for repair and start 19 hours late, Bouwe Bekking and his team are just about back in the game.

I say ‘just about’ because these two boats are a 100 miles apart east to west. The earlier, unconfirmed sighting of Wouter the Router, alive and well and navigating aboard Green Dragon, is now a positive ID. I might have been premature in announcing the Dragon’s move east a couple of days ago, but there’s no doubt about it now – they are set up for a Doldrums passage significantly to the east of the rest of the fleet.

Skipper, Ian Walker, confirms their thinking in his latest email, telling us how they’ve been helped along by a wind direction that has made getting east cheap. Unfortunately, we can’t confirm that, as the Green Dragon’s instruments still aren’t reporting back to Race Office. Although the breeze has certainly veered (rotated clockwise) for the leaders, they are sailing a much tighter wind angle today than yesterday, in order to hold their south-easterly course.

Walker also suggested that their strategy is motivated to some degree by their boat speed deficiency, which he blames on a lighter keel weight, and less righting moment. Righting moment is fundamental to boat speed when you are sailing on a reach or upwind.

Bowman Martin Krite reefs the mainsail on Ericsson 3 during leg 5 from Qingdao to Rio De Janeiro. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

So place your bets – is this a calculated risk or wild gamble?

Should I start by pointing out that the Dragon was the star performer in the Atlantic Doldrums crossing? While over on the west wing of the fleet, PUMA are zip for two against the Doldrums, as skipper Ken Read reminded us a couple of days ago. No, I probably shouldn’t.

In his latest email, Bouwe Bekking points again at the reason this Doldrums crossing is so much tougher than on Leg 1. There is no prior racing history to give them a point to aim at in the Doldrums, in contrast to the well worn route through 27-31 degrees W in the Atlantic. Nevertheless, Bekking and his navigator, Tom Addis, (doubtless aided by their met consultant, Roger ‘Clouds’ Badham’) have used the historical data to pick a point to aim for – but they aren’t sharing that piece of information.

Jules Salter was riffing on the same theme in another great audio interview with Guy Swindells yesterday. Salter’s point was that the weather they need to carry them past New Zealand and into the Southern Ocean, ‘hasn’t even been formed.’ Or as he put it when I talked to him in Qingdao, they are making decisions before the ‘butterfly even flaps its wings’.

This is the second horn of the dilemma. The weather forecasts don’t go far enough ahead in time to tell them where to aim at in the Doldrums. I’ve set up today’s Predicted Route image with the boat positions in five days time, along with the weather for four days time. And you can see that this only takes them to the Solomon Islands, at about 10 degrees S. The breeze has softened and veered (rotated clockwise) into an easterly direction. But they’re still not in the Doldrums proper, never mind the south-east trades.


There’s no real way of judging how the Dragon’s eastern play is going to work out at this stage. My view is that if Walker and his team had the boat speed of the leaders they would be taking a wild gamble, but because they’re struggling for speed, I think they’ve taken a calculated risk.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA LEG FIVE DAY 7 QFB: received 20.02.09 1411 GMT

PUMA on leg 5. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Rick Deppe (Media Crew Member)

I just spent a wet hour on deck taking pics and trying to clear my head of a nasty headache. It worked. For the 4 hours on deck it’s a constant drenching for the guys on watch. We are STILL reaching on port in between 16 and 22 knots of wind. But it’s not those knock you off your feet type waves that we saw the first two days out of Qingdao, rather more the slap you in the face when you're not looking type.

Unfortunately, I'm not running one of the jackets with a latex neck seal. Instead I went for one of the jackets with a zip up the front so that I can get it on and off quickly. I'm starting to think I might've made a mistake because the water always seems to find a way in. Strange to be wearing full foul weather gear on deck when we are so close to the equator and the air and water temperature is I'm guessing around 28 degrees c. It’s the wind chill probably around 22 degrees c and the waves that are making all the gear necessary. Down below it's a different story - hot, humid and very smelly - 6 days worth of wet foot traffic is starting to take its toll on the ambience. Wet socks and t-shirts hanging everywhere, (they'll never dry) wet boots upside down on the side of the bunks that you have to climb over to get in. And a thin film of grime on everything, it’s a sad reality that we are only 6 days into this trip.

Jerry (Kirby) was on watch and it's always a treat to hear him go on! He was in fine form today and I think that in one fifteen minute period there he took the banter from a discussion about whether or not to shake a reef out, to an extended history lesson on the Carriage Houses of New England and the relative merits of Red Cedar over Slate as a roofing material; then onto a self diagnosis of his ribs that he thinks might be broken and finally for this 15 minute window of time a great story about dirt biking on the Baja peninsula with a retired Line-backer who owns a bar in Tijuana...... simply amazing.... you would think it was all connected and I guess to Jerry it is!

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 4 LEG FIVE DAY 7 QFB: received 20.02.09 1312 GMT

by Guy Salter

6 days down and 30+ to go and a few strange personal traits are beginning to surface

One of the crew obviously has aspirations of starring on Broadway or in the west end. Tony surprised all today by coming on watch as if he were ready for the final scenes of the stage hit "Phantom of the Opera" as the lead roll. He had the left side of his face covered in his Phantom mask - only his was from baby anti rash cream. It transpired that this was actually due to the prolonged port tack we have been on and the saltwater constant spray is playing havoc with his skin.

Another country mate of Tony also turned his nose up at lunch - a rare occurrence - this was purely due to one word on the packet - vegetarian - no prises for guessing the meat and 2 veg man, but I don’t have the heart to tell Brad (Jackson) that his favourite dish onboard of roast lamb probably is as close to lamb as any tofu based meat extract. Though it may bring a good reaction in a few days though!

It’s great when the afterguard just click and today Torben (Grael) and Jules (Salter) were planning their holidays together. As we pass through Micronesia’s many islands they were both discussing the merits of a couple of months trip in the region. They did hit a small stumbling block when choosing the method of travel, Torben thinking a plane based island hop and Jules preferring to catch the mail boat between the many atolls. Personally I wouldn’t mind either method as it does seem like a wonderful place.

I guess being on one tack with minimal sail changes can be a little dull, don’t get me wrong as we are all happy to be here - especially for what could be the clearest night skies on earth. But we all do feel it is little like Groundhog Day. Its even more frustrating being without our main satellite connection, hours and hours are spent trying to download weather and also failing to upload pictures - but I also guess it must be frustrating on land watching the race as your normal days continue at the usual high speed whilst the info from the race is considerably less than normal. I just hope that when we come back online the flood of info will be like when your power is restored after a power cut (lights on everywhere and TV on) - we are also approaching a notorious black spot for satellite coverage so we may be no comms for a day or so!

One last thought is that if we were out here on port for much longer we may present a good case for any Darwinian supporter – I’m convinced that one leg is shorter than the other and none of us can get rid of our left handed side partings. But that’s port tack for you and we may have a few more days of it to go.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Cleaning Up Their Act

Michael Muller onboard PUMA Ocean Racing, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Cameron Kelleher

The portfolio of the Media Crew Member is diverse – film maker, photo-journalist, agony aunt, cook and janitor. But in the democratic republic of il mostro, it is the Minister Of the Interior (MOI) who holds the position of influence.

It is a responsibility that is rotated among the 11 crew members on board PUMA and MCM Rick Deppe oversees the implementation of policy.

Doubtless there are complaints from on-board constituents – including Aggrieved of Newport, Rhode Island but it’s a dirty job and someone’s gotta do it.

Deppe explains… "The whole crew knows that every 11th day their number is up. Today it’s the turn of MIchi (Michael) Mueller. I'm talking about the Minister of the Interior, easily one of the most important jobs on the boat.

"A clean ship is a happy ship as they say. Here’s the list of responsibilities that Michi must attend to today …

1. Bail boat at end of every watch

2. Wipe down galley after every meal

3. Clean head once

4. Check for loose items that can be stacked

5. Clean tail bags

"And that’s it, probably 10 to 15 mins out of his day.”

Deppe added that in Mueller’s case, there are domestic matters closer to home that are weighing on his mind. Mueller and his partner are expecting a new arrival any day now, so he is checking his email constantly.

Deppe can empathize. He’s been there himself. “I was in the same situation with my daughter, now 11 years old in the 1997-98 race onboard Chessie Racing.

"The first four days of that leg were easily the hardest of the whole race and the sense of relief when I found out that Isabel had arrived safely and that mum was OK is hard to describe.

"So why not just stay home? I hear you asking ... it's this race man ... it’s like a disease. You make the commitment to yourself and the team a long time out. It takes many years of work to get yourself in a position to be considered as part of a team and there is always the nagging doubt that if you step out for a time; someone else will move in.”

Family ties were also a topic touched upon by Ericsson 4 watch captain, Brad Jackson. His eldest son Liam celebrated his 10th birthday two days’ ago ... and Jackson Snr had some explaining to do.

"I feel a bit guilty of never being around for a lot of the family moments,” he wrote. “I think I have been around for maybe four of his birthdays and less for the other two kids so I'm not a good candidate for Father of the Year but I think they enjoy this lifestyle and understand it is my job.

"Hopefully I can repay them when we settle down at home for a while after the race and have a normal life, until I take off on another project to pay for the normal life. I hope they know how much I appreciate what they sacrifice for me.

"Liam I hope you had a great birthday and I'll try and be at the next one, Love Dad.”

Ericsson 3 in heavy weather, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

Further inner thoughts were aired by Telefonica Blue skipper Bouwe Bekking. Having conceded 19 hours to the rest of the fleet when keel damage delayed their start to this leg in Qingdao, Bekking and his men are playing catch-up.

By the 16:00 GMT Position Report, the Blue boat had at least got to within 12 miles of nearest rival Green Dragon. The Race Viewer shows the deficit to the leaders Ericsson 4 and PUMA was over 250 miles as the fleet takes aim at The Doldrums.

The strain of ploughing a lonely and distant furrow over the past six days might just be starting to show.

“We keep ticking off the miles. We’ve just got to hope for a major park-up or a tricky area, so that we gain miles back. Now it is the rich get richer,” Bekking lamented.

“It is painful to trail the other boats, but we know we have to keep pushing hard. Still, it’s a fantastic job. Which other sports can you do and be with your mates for nearly 40 days? It will be very interesting to see how each individual onboard will cope with being so long in a small area.

"A shrink would be loving stuff like this, and could probably write a book about this leg. The sheer determination from each individual is fascinating to see, and I know exactly where to push a button to make somebody flare up.

"I don’t think we will run into any personal issues, but I keep a good eye on everyone to assure he will be happy. Happy sailors are fast sailors.”

Martin Stromberg, sailmaker and trimmer for Ericsson 3, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

Amid the hard graft, they are keeping abreast of the latest fashion trends on board, according to Bekking’s team-mate, Simon Fisher.

On the catwalk of Telefonica Blue, this season’s must-haves include “various accessories which provide protection from the spray,” reported Fisher.

"Whilst the majority have stuck with the trusty old surf helmet and visor, David (Vera) has mixed things up a little with a fetching pair of safety goggles and Mike (Pammeter) is sporting a pair of scuba googles.

"The latter, while looking a little ridiculous, seem to be effective. However, while gettng them out of his bag Mike managed to stamp on them popping the lenses out. The repair job was taken on by Gabri (Olivo) as at the time the light wasn't that great for photos.”

A sight for sore eyes no doubt.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG FIVE DAY 7 QFB: received 20.02.09 0608 GMT

by Ian Walker (skipper)

Heading East - a gamble or a calculated risk?

One thing has become clear over the last few legs is that it is hard for the Green Dragon to live with the big teams in terms of raw boatspeed instability conditions. This is undoubtedly due to our lighter keel weight, which limits our horsepower and there is nothing we can do about that now.

We are not letting our heads drop; it just means we have to find our edge elsewhere either through teamwork, reliability or strategy and tactics. To date, we have done pretty well at this, especially on leg one, where our more westerly route paid big dividends bringing us to the scoring gate in first position. The problem is that every time you separate from the fleet, you are taking a risk. Our opponents have the best skippers and navigators in the business, we all have the same weather information, and it is not often that the majority will be wrong. You can also be sure that all the teams will have studied every inch of these routes. Having said that, weather can be unpredictable and can change. The weather models are particularly unreliable close to the equator, where we will soon be sailing. There have to be some opportunities but there is no sense in gambling wildly, just room for calculated risks if and when the opportunity arises.

Right now, our navigator Wouter (Wouter Verbraak/NED) and I believe we have seen one of those opportunities and a more lifted breeze has enabled us to get east cheaply
(without giving too many miles away on the ‘miles to go scale’). Wouter is particularly skilled at meteorological routing and in all his and Ian Moore’s studies historically east is good both in the trade winds and the doldrums. The leaders couldn't get this far east as they weren't so lifted and they now seem to be fighting to get east. What is not at all clear right now is how the doldrums will play out and how we will get through the high-pressure zones into the Southern Ocean - this could have a huge bearing on the final outcome.

For now we are happy to have over 200 miles of leverage to the east of the leaders and whilst we have invested considerable miles to get here, we consider it a calculated risk rather than a gamble. If it works, of course we will be heroes, and if not, we will be the ones that took a gamble and failed. Either way, the next week will be far more interesting than if we just followed down their tracks losing miles on every position report. Right now I am happy with what we have done and we are starting to claw back some miles - long may that continue.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFONICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 7 QFB: received 20.02.09 0520 GMT

by Bouwe Bekking (skipper)

The course we are currently sailing is a killer, heaps of water over the deck, uncomfortable downstairs, where the guys have to crawl around to go from A to B, as otherwise they are getting airborne.

Gabry (Gabriele Olivo – MCM) is always great with preparing the warm dishes, but the appetite is not very big. Instead, we are drinking lots of protein shakes and eating power bars, biltong (dried meat), parmesan cheese and nuts. It is a very nice alternative to get calories in our bodies and in that sense it is good that we are not saving weight in this area. Thinking of the good old days, where by now you would have been 'starving' as there where hardly any extras.

As well, bringing the extra food has stopped people from bringing smokes onboard, as cigarettes were great contraband for trading in sweets..............and what happened when you had smokes onboard, people start lighting them up, even non-smokers and started puffing away...

We are sticking to our game plan, and sail to the imaginary point where we think the best passage will be in the doldrums. It is very tempting to crack the sheets more, but we think we will pay the price at a later stage. Of course everything can happen in a leg where not a lot of doldrums crossings have been done, so there is not so much background information as, for example, in leg one, where you know you have to cross the doldrums somewhere between 27 -31 west. So we feel strong the way we have to go, but still need a lucky passage to reel the leaders in.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 3 LEG FIVE DAY 7 QFB: received 20.02.09 0846 GMT

by Gustav Morin

It has become very warm the last couple of days and today the sea is an incredible 28 degrees. The air is a lot cooler, but since we are still reaching around 20 knots, it's still a lot of spray on deck and we still need to wear full foul weather gear.
Under deck it's another story.

It feels like the hull is absorbing the heat from the ocean and it gets a couple of extra degrees heat from the sunny sky. Aksel Magdahl (navigator) and l, who spend a lot of time down below, are running the swimming-trunk-clothing programme. Even so, a layer of sweat is constantly running down our backs.

It is always impossible to stay dry on these boats. Either it's windy and it's water everywhere or you sweat from the effort of just being on the boat. In lighter wind, you are usually close to the equator, where the sun is shining from straight overhead and it's dripping warm.

But all of this is a part of the game and the crew who acclimatises the best has is an advantage. The next coming days it will get even warmer and then it will stay like that for at least a week.

We better get used to this quick.

I can understand that the guys were complaining about the cold conditions in China. But for me who doesn't have to stay on deck more than a few hours now and then, the cold was nice. At least when we were two days away from China. The air was fresh and cool, even down below, and you could sleep well at night in our nice warm sleeping bags. I have never slept that well on the boat.

But there is always good and bad. I guess it's just human nature to complain a bit.
We are still sailing well, the boat feels good and there haven't been any big incidents. We are fighting in the backwater of Ericsson 4 and Puma, still within striking distance. Telefónica Blue is pretty much in the same track as us but around 150 miles behind. Green Dragon seems to have made a bold decision to sail more to the east. If you look at the route historically the probability for it to pay off is pretty good. It's good for the racing; it makes it just a bit more exciting.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 7 QFB: received 20.07.09 0303 GMT

by Simon Fisher

Not much has changed here on Telefónica Blue in the last 24 hours, apart from at some stage last night someone turned the wetness up to 11 on the dial! Throw in a couple of hours of driving rain that we got this morning and you wouldn't look too out of place in a snorkel and flippers! I've just come off deck and my hands look like I fell asleep in the bath for 10 hours and my lips feel like I have just eaten and entire bucket of salty popcorn...

We are still making good speed though and have reason to celebrate a little today as we have gone ahead of Green Dragon in the rankings. Although it does not mean too much at this stage with so far to go it is a nice moral booster and just reward for all the fast scheds we had through the night.

Below deck is a little bumpy right now, making moving around and going about your daily business an interesting challenge. Next up is the attempt to eat a bowl of Mexican chicken without throwing it all down my front! After that I will continue to experiment on the best way to dry out my socks. Every time I hang them out they seem to end up wetter than when I took them off!! Finally it is going to be a little bit of iPod in my bunk and then a nice siesta... all in all a nice afternoon in the Pacific Ocean.

Volvo Ocean Race

Friday 20 February 2009

BMW Auckland Regatta: Wind and Rain Delay First Day of Racing

by Zoe Hawkins

Organisers called off racing on day one of the BMW Auckland Regatta following a gale warning and forecasts of winds in excess of thirty knots, with very heavy rain.

“The Principal Race Officers have taken a prudent approach,” says BMW Auckland Regatta spokesperson Ross Markwick. “We have a large number of yachts racing in a confined area, and with the high winds the sea state would have made the going tough for many. Conditions are expected to improve dramatically for tomorrow, and we should be in a position to run up to eight great races over the weekend.”

The sailing instructions have been modified to allow for five windward leeward races tomorrow, and two windward leeward races plus a harbour race on the Sunday.

For the 64 yachts and nearly 400 crew kept off the racecourse by bad conditions today, the party will go on: Fullers Ferries are providing a special shuttle service between Bucklands Beach and tonight’s social venue, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, where a ‘happy hour’ will be held from 6pm.

Notable entrants in the BMW Auckland Regatta are eight of the top ten fastest yachts in the country, including the impressive canting keel yachts, V5, Pussy Galore and Wired, and a selection of multihulls: New Zealand Olympic rep Dan Slater’s Line 7 Marine, Jon Bilger’s, and Attitude, Dirty Deeds and Epsom Salts.

The race course will centre off Eastern Beach in the Tamaki Strait, with racing commencing at 10am on both days.

The BMW Auckland Regatta is organised by the Auckland Regatta Trust, a joint initiative between the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and the Bucklands Beach Yacht Club, in order to foster and promote amateur sailing in the region.

The event is sponsored by BMW, KPMG, Auckland City Council and Manukau City Council, and is further supported by North Sails, BSP Design, Mount Gay Rum, Whiting Power Systems - Yanmar Marine, OKI and Fullers.

Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Bucklands Beach Yacht Club

Louis Vuitton Pacific Series: The Friendly Games book by Juerg Kaufmann and Lynn Fitzpatrick

On board Pataugas by K-Challenge in Auckland. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

Within days of the prize giving for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, a coffee table book with a foreword by regatta organizer, Bruno Troublé, is available for distribution.

With just the right balance of prose from sailing journalist, Lynn Fitzpatrick, and eye-popping photos from photographer, Juerg Kaufmann, the book is the perfect keepsake for everyone attending this historic match racing event in Auckland, NZ. For those who were not present for five days of practice and 16 days of exciting match racing between world renown skippers, helmsmen, tacticians and crew from 10 teams representing 9 countries, this photo journal allows you to live vicariously.

Louis Vuitton Pacific Cup prizegiving: left to right - Dick Meacham, Grant Dalton and Dean Barker. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

Maori welcome. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

Bruno Troublé and Grant Dalton attend the Maori welcome. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

BMW ORACLE Racing were runners-up in the Challengers Final. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

Damiani Italia Challenge did extremely well as newcomers to the scene. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

Emirates Team New Zealand leads Alinghi home in the finals of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Cup. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

The Louis Vuitton Pacific Series trophy, won by Emirates Team New Zealand. Image copyright Juerg Kaufmann/

Front cover of The Friendly Games book

To find out more about the book, and to order copies, please go to

Regatta Book

VOR: Delta LLoyd on the Mend

Delta Lloyd is loaded on to a container ship to be taken to Rio de Janerio whilst a new bow piece is being made which will be fitted once the boat arrives. Image copyright Bas Vredenburg/Team Delta Lloyd/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Volvo Ocean Race media

Team Delta Lloyd has launched its comeback for the second half of the race, beginning with the start of Leg 6 from Rio.

The team retired from the brutal Leg 4 from Singapore to Qingdao with structural damage to her bow section. The boat is currently being shipped from Hong Kong to Rio where a new bow section, manufactured in Italy, will be fitted.

According to Killian Bushe, responsible for the build of Delta Lloyd, formerly ABN AMRO ONE, the overall winner of the 2005-06 Volvo, the damage was the result of an impact rather than delamination. “The ultrasound test proved that the damage was caused by some impact,” he said.

“The hull is made of a sandwich construction, which means there are skins on either side of the core material. That core material was fractured by the collision. The damaged area was initially about 400-500 square millimetres, but by being unnoticed by the crew and the subsequent flexing from the continuous pounding in the large waves at the time, it increased to 3,5 meters by one meter wide.

"Once the core in a sandwich is damaged the panel can no longer support itself.”

Team Delta Lloyd works on a strong comeback in the second half of the Volvo Ocean Race, starting from Rio de Janeiro/Brazil. The Italian company Eligio Re Fraschini S.p.a., specialized in the production of metal and composite parts, has started the process of building the new bow section. At the moment, they are milling the mould out of a big block of polystyrene. Image copyright Team Delta Lloyd/Volvo Ocean Race.

Skipper Roberto Bermudez and his crew recognized the seriousness of the situation in time to nurse the boat to Taiwan from where it was transported to Hong Kong.

Bushe and a team of seven boat builders will manage the repair work in Rio. “We will first remove all the structure in the bow and cut away the damaged panel, which will then be replaced,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nick Bice has joined the sailing crew for the second half of the race. The 31-year-old Australian replaces Spain’s Guillermo Altadill who was only contracted for leg 4 and 5.

Bice, a qualified boat builder, was watch leader and boat captain for ABN AMRO TWO in the 2005-06 Volvo. He was also part of the Team Amer Sports campaign in 2001-02. More recently, he joined the British America's Cup challenge Team Origin as boat captain and pitman.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Spooking the Herd

PUMA Ocean Racing on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Mark Chisnell

Torben Grael and Ericsson 4 have consolidated their grip on the lead, as PUMA hit the handbrake and made a 30-degree turn yesterday afternoon. So - spooked out of the west? Or have the long-term temptations of the east proved too much to resist for Ken Read and his team? But if so, maybe not for long... they are aiming at an elusive target in the Doldrums...

At 10:00 ZULU everyone was still on port tack, headed more or less east-southeast in a north-easterly wind direction (TWD in the Data Centre), with the wind speed (TWS) back up around the mid- to high-teens. Ericsson 4 and PUMA were neck-and-neck in the race south, 35 miles apart, east-to-west. Ericsson 3 was a 100 miles due north of the lead pair, with Green Dragon and Telefonica Blue another 100 miles north of her – and clearly dead-set on the east.

The yachts just have to touch somewhere on each of the virtual ‘lines’ formed by the gates. The boats don’t have to cross the lines, just touch them, and they can approach from the north or the south – although obviously the assumption is that they will be coming up from the south...

All right, back to yesterday morning at 10:00 ZULU – when we left the leading pair of Ericsson 4 and PUMA, they had both made a slow course change towards the south. They were steering around 150 degrees – almost straight at New Zealand – and appeared to have decided that they had gone far enough east and found their lane through the Doldrums and into the south-east trade winds. But we can see on the Race Viewer how Ken Read and PUMA flip-flopped on that decision, with a course change just before the 19:00 Position Report last night.

PUMA Ocean racing heading east at sunrise on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

At that point the separation between PUMA (to the west) and Ericsson 4 (to the east) had grown to about 35 miles. And neither Green Dragon nor Ericsson 3 had followed the leader’s course change to the south, crossing their wakes to head further east earlier in the afternoon. But given that PUMA’s change of heart came before the Position Report, it probably wasn’t the leverage that suddenly concerned Read and his navigator, Andrew Cape.

And if it wasn’t the fleet’s position, then it must have been the weather. I’ve pulled up a graph of True Wind Speed (TWS) – and you can see the drop for PUMA and Ericsson 4 from 10:00 to 19:00 ZULU yesterday, but the boat’s behind weren’t suffering from it. And I think this is why PUMA decided to get out of the west in a hurry. It certainly worked, look at how the wind speed jumped again after the course change.

Aboard Ericsson 4, Grael and his navigator, Jules Salter agreed with PUMA’s analysis, although they reacted more slowly and more smoothly. The net effect was that the leverage closed back down to 25 miles, and – because PUMA were sailing away from the waypoint - Ericsson 4 was regaining all the miles she had lost on the Distance to Leader. At least until the last couple of hours, when PUMA started to drift south again, and started gaining miles again...

Ericsson 3 and Telefonica Blue are holding their own

Stacking onboard Telefonica Blue, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

Before the course change yesterday afternoon the leaders were steering more south than the three chasing boats – closer to their next waypoint at the scoring gate, which is bearing 158 degrees. So they were gaining miles purely because they were sailing at the target.

That all changed once PUMA and Ericsson 4 started sailing the same course as the others, and although Green Dragon have still been struggling (which is about boat speed), Ericsson 3 and Telefonica Blue have been more than holding their own since yesterday afternoon.

Which leaves us with the big question – how far east do they need to go? This picture is starting to become clearer. But one thing is for sure, they all want to go east pretty badly. They are sailing wind angles of 80-90 degrees – and they go around one to two knots slower at a wind angle of 80 degrees, compared to 100 degrees. So there has to be a good reason for taking that penalty in boat speed, rather than sailing a touch more south and a lot faster.

The answer is not to be found in today’s first Predicted Route image - where I’ve pushed the boat positions out to five days ahead (although the weather shown is only four days ahead, a little idiosyncrasy of the system). And this shows that the boats could turn towards the south now and aim for the eastern edge of the Solomon Islands – where they will start to hit some flaky breeze (Doldrums, Part 3) in five days time. Looking at the breeze over the next few hours isn’t much help either, the NOAA forecast models still think that there should be more wind to the west – but it doesn’t look like that’s the case.

That leaves us with today’s bonus Predicted Route image, which has the weather and boat positions in 24 hours time. But have a look at what’s a couple of days ahead of the fleet (on the three day isochrone) at that point – it’s pretty ugly. In theory, that area of light air is going to blow out of the way by the time they get there – but they may not want to drive at something on the assumption that it’ll get out of the way...

(Oh yeah, it’s Groundhog Day all right, but I’d been saving that one for three days time when they’re still reaching south on port gybe... thanks for nothing SiFi...)

Anyway, maybe that’s the reason everyone is still headed east, but I don’t reckon they’ll hold out for much longer. I think that by this time tomorrow we’ll find everyone pointing south-east with the hammer down, and eventually going through the Doldrums down the eastern side of the Solomon Islands, but that's just my view...

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 6 QFB: received 19.02.09 1335 GMT

Bowman David Vera onboard Telefonica Blue, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Tom Addis (navigator)

More of the same port tack reaching....

The main happenings are going on downstairs with warm gear getting packed away for a few weeks. Up on top, not much has changed. Its wet, wet, wet.

In really good pressure now and heading where we want to be heading, to set ourselves up for the final approach to the equator and beyond. Still no major passing lanes though so it’s all about doing all the little things right and gaining when we can.

Today has been a pretty good day in that regard; the way the breeze has been shifting for the fleet makes sense and fits in with our plans so hopefully things will come good. Still a long way back to the front of the fleet though - that is a very long term project for us!

Still getting a feel for the sheer scale of this leg. We are approx 50% of the way from the start line to the equator - and that only represents a small fraction of the leg. Heaps to go yet.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 3 LEG FIVE DAY 6 QFB: received 19.02.09 1043 GMT

by Gustav Morin (Media Crew Member)

Wet, wet and worry

The last 20 hours have been wet. Very wet. It's warm in the water so it's not too bad, but when you're reaching steadily around 20 knots, like we are now, you get hard spray on you all the time.

The worst part with this is that your eyes get totally soaked with salt. They get red and very sore. We have helmets with eye protection and different kinds of goggles to protect them, but it's tricky to see through the glass. No solution is perfect.

This morning we had a small rip in our GS, a small staysail, and Magnus (Magnus Olsson – skipper) started to worry that we will break too many sails and that we won't have enough of them in the end of the race.

You are ‘only’ allowed to use 24 sails during the lap around the globe and we have 12 onboard during this long leg. Each of them has a very narrow sweetspot and as soon as the wind changes in strength or direction, we start to discuss a change. That is a big reason why these boats are so tough to sail. You change sails quite often and since they are very heavy, you need a bunch of strong hands to make the changes go quickly and safely.

We ripped one of our three mainsails in the last leg and before that we have smashed our G4, a small genoa.

“Maybe the winner in the end will be the one who has managed to keep the most sails intact,” Magnus thought out loud.

But our sailmaker onboard, Martin Strömberg, is not worried at all.

“We ripped our main in extreme conditions, sailing upwind to China. We will probably and hopefully not see conditions like that again and if we don't, I don't think the sails are going to cause us much problem,” Martin says and continues:

“I believe we are, together with Ericsson 4, the team in the fleet who has had the fewest problems with sails. The rip we had this morning was an easy fix, just a few stitches with the sewing machine and it was ok. We can fix it even better when we get ashore.”

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 6 QFB: received 19.02.09 0931 GMT

by Simon Fisher (strategist/helmsman)

Twenty-four hours on and you've guessed it - we are still reaching!! Still on port tack, the same as the day we started too! That in itself has its benefits however, as it means that all the stack has stayed pretty much in place for the best part of the week apart from a bit of carting it forward and aft to help the trim of the boat.

We are still blasting along with the big jib up, staysail and full main eating the miles up as we maintain speeds in the high teens! The cloudy grey sky finally gave way today too, so the day has been spent sailing under a blue sky in a vast expanse of bright blue ocean. The weather is also warming up day by day and today was somewhat reminiscent of summer, something that we've missed since arriving in Qingdao.

Despite the warm weather, things are still very wet on deck and, as a result, various fashion accessories have appeared today in order to provide some protection from the spray. Whilst the majority have stuck with the trusty old surf helmet and visor, David (David Vera) has mixed things up a little with a very fetching pair of safety goggles and Mike (Michael Pammenter) is sporting a pair of scuba goggles. The latter, whilst looking a little ridiculous, seem to be pretty effective although this was almost not the case as, whilst getting them out of his bag, Mike managed to stamp on them popping the lenses out. The repair job was happily taken on by Gabri (Gabriele Olivo – MCM) as, at the time, the light wasn't that great for photos!

So there we have it. The days are rolling by along with the miles and we are keeping ourselves entertained by stuff however slight. We are also now feeling a little more into the race as we have closed the gap to the Green Dragon to little over 100 miles however we still have our work cut out to make it back the head of the fleet. We are still pushing hard though, each time I drive I find myself in a personal battle up against the performance percentage number on the display.

When I see it reading 100, I strive for 101, 102 and so on pushing all the time to go one better and that little bit quicker...

Volvo Ocean Race


by Brad Jackson (Watch Captain)

Into day six already and, apart from the first two days, it has been very steady conditions and the boys are getting a bit bored of the same conditions. The good thing is we are ticking off the miles at a good rate, while taking care off the boat, or trying to.

On the 17th it was my eldest son Liam's 10th birthday and, apart from making me feel old, it also made me feel a bit guilty of never being around for a lot of the family moments. I think I have been around for maybe four of his birthdays and less for the other two kids, so I'm not a good candidate for Father of the Year, but I think they enjoy this lifestyle and understand it is my job.

Still, it feels selfish on my part sometimes as I am doing what I want to do, and they have to fit around me. Hopefully I can repay them when we settle down at home for a while after the race and have a normal life. Until I take off on another project to pay for the normal life. I hope they know how much I appreciate what they sacrifice for me.

We are now far from the cold and moving into the wet, hot and manky conditions where all sorts of strange rashes and growths start appearing. I luckily don't suffer from these, but I am not looking forward to what Ryno (Ryan Godfrey), Nipper (Guy Salter) or Blood (Phil Jameson) start coming out with and, over the length of this leg, there could be some new varieties, Dave (Dave Endean) also needs to take care of the vineyard in the coming weeks.

Looks like we have another week on this tack which is nice to not have to stack all the time. It will be quite routine and a little monotonous, but hopefully we can keep the foot down and work our way forward mile by mile. Anything can and will happen in this leg so we are not counting on anything until we reach Rio and tied up to the dock.

All for now and Liam I hope you had a great birthday and I'll try and be at the next one, Love Dad

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG FIVE DAY 5 QFB: received 18.02.09 1004 GMT

by Ian Walker (skipper)

It’s been a tough 24 hours for the Green Dragon as we have been consistently slower than the leaders and have also paid the price for our more Northerly position. We didn't mean to be quite so far North but had a long period of light and lifted winds two days ago that ushered us North. We also had to come up to thread our way through some small Japanese Islands - why is it that when you are in a huge ocean, the islands always end up right where you wish to pass? I guess it is for the same reason you always seem to end up on collision course for any ships nearby.

Everybody is very philosophical about the miles we have lost. It is always going to be difficult against these boats and we are pleased to now be back on track over the last few scheds. It is a long way to Rio and our game plan of sailing, what we believe to be the right way irrespective of the other boats, will not change. I am surprised to hear the lads already talking about when we will get to Rio - personally I am trying to put it out of my mind until after we round Cape Horn. It's a bit early to display the miles to go just yet.

Life onboard is very comfy (for a Volvo 70) with everyone catching up on sleep and the thermal layers and boots are being replaced with shorts and light weight shoes. Sun cream and sunglasses made an appearance today and you can feel the heat of the sun for the first time since leaving the Phillipines. Before long, we will have to dig out the fans to help us sleep at night. Even the food seems to taste better this leg although we seem to have forgotten the powdered milk which rules out a nice cup of tea. Maybe it will be in tomorrow's food bag.

Volvo Ocean Race

RC44s: Back in Action - The RC44 Championship Tour Starts next week in Puerto Calero

RC44s off Puerto Calero. Image copyright Nico Martinez/RC44.

by Bernard Schopfer

With the participation of new teams and sailors, including Luis Doreste, Karol Jablonski, José Maria Ponce, Philippe Presti and Martin Kirketerp on top of the usual world Class RC 44 sailors, the season’s first regatta will be interesting. The RC 44 Class also announces new features that will allow media and the public to better follow the events.

February 19, 2009 – The RC 44 fleet is back in action, with the Puerto Calero Islas Canarias RC 44 Cup – the season’s first regatta - starting on Wednesday February 25. Organised by Puerto Calero, a superb real estate development on Lanzarote's seafront, the RC 44 Cup will begin with two days of match racing, followed by three days of fleet racing. The DHL coastal race will take place on Sunday; it will count for double points.

Two new teams join the Class for this regatta. Led by Pieter Heerema, “No Way Back” has been training hard over the winter in Copenhagen, with sometimes sub zero temperatures. Philippe Presti is the team’s pro skipper and helmsman for the match races. He will also advice Heerema and be the tactician during the fleet regattas. Other members of the team include America’s Cup sailors Yann Gouniot and Christian Scherrer, as well as the 49er Olympic Gold medallist Martin Kirketerp and other Scandinavian sailors.

Team Islas Canarias Puerto Calero will have two boats sailing under its colours next week, with Carlos Morales and Olympic champion Luis Doreste sailing on board ESP 2 for the first time whilst José Juan Calero and Spanish match-race champion José Maria Ponce will share helming duties onboard ESP 1.

Also new on the circuit, Karol Jablonski – helmsman of the Spanish team Desafio during the last America’s Cup – joins the Polish team Organika, who will undoubtedly benefit from Jablonski’s huge experience in match racing. As for Sébastien Col, the match race world champion, he will sail the Puerto Calero Cup onboard the 2008 champion Ceeref, replacing James Spithill for this regatta before joining K-Challenge’s new RC 44 in Cagliari.

The teams involved in the Puerto Calero RC 44 Cup:

Ceeref, Igor Lah / Sébastien Col
Team Aqua, Chris Bake / Cameron Appleton
Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist / Dean Barker
BMW ORACLE Racing, Russell Coutts
ESP – 1 Islas Canarias Puerto Calero – José Juan Calero / José Maria Ponce
ESP – 2 Islas Canarias Puerto Calero – Carlos Morales / Luis Doreste
Team Organika – Maciej Nawrocki / Karol Jablonski
No Way Back – Pieter Heerema / Philippe Presti


18 Foot Skiffs: JJ Giltinan Trophy - Race 5

The fleet in sunshine on Sydney Harbour. Supplied image.

by Frank Quealey

Giltinan Championship – Sponsored by Winning Appliances and SLAM
Race 5 sponsored by Smeg
Thursday, 19 February 2009
Sydney Harbour became the fifth winner from as many races when she took out Race 5 of the Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour today.

Skipper John Winning Jr., with crew Dave Ewings and Tim Austin, gave an outstanding performance in an 8-10 knot North East breeze to bring appliancesonline home a 37s winner and so keep alive their hopes of taking the title.

Appliancesonline. Supplied image.

The British team of Andy Budgen, Matt McGovern and James Barker also gave an excellent display in the conditions and finished second in Project Racing.

Third place today went to Southern Cross Constructions, which finished a further 13s behind Project Racing.

For the Southern Cross crew of Euan Mc Nicol, Aaron Links and Trent Barnabas it was enough to give them a narrow lead in the championship with two more races still to be sailed.

After discarding their worst performances to date, Southern Cross has a total of 10 points, followed by Active Air-2UE (Matthew Searle) on 12, Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin) and Rag & Famish Hotel (John Harris) both on 13 and today’s winner appliancesonline on 16.

Project Racing is sixth on 24 points.

With such a narrow margin separating the top five teams, there seems no doubt that the winner will not be known until late on Sunday afternoon.

From the start today, Project Racing and appliancesonline quickly established a lead over Active Air-2UE and Southern Cross Constructions.

Project Racing held a 10s margin at the Beashel Buoy windward mark then increased it marginally downwind to the Clarke Island mark.

There was little change amongst the leading group on the spinnaker run although Southern Cross moved ahead of Active Air-2UE.

After a poor start, Gotta Love It 7 recovered into fifth place just ahead of USA1, skippered by former Giltinan champion Howie Hamlin.

Project Racing. Supplied image.

Project Racing and appliancesonline continued to stage their own personal battle for the lead on the following beat to the Beashel Buoy with appliancesonline grabbing a 2 boat length lead as spinnakers were set for the return run to Clarke Island.

The next three placings remained unchanged with Southern Cross holding third place ahead of Active Air-2UE and Gotta Love It 7.

While the racing was close there was no change in the placings over the remainder of the course before appliancesonline crossed the line a clear winner.

Rag & Famish Hotel was well back in the pack early but her crew battled away to bring the skiff home in sixth place as so keep them well in championship contention.

Thurlow Fisher (Bruce Savage) came home in seventh place ahead of Yandoo (John Winning), Fisher & Paykel (Andrew Cuddihy) and USA1.

Race 6 will be conducted on Saturday with the highly anticipated Race 7 set down for Sunday.

The Australian 18 Footers League will have two spectator ferries on each day to cater for the large spectator interest.

Australian 18 Footers League

Thursday 19 February 2009

WMRT: First Skippers Announced for St Moritz Match Race 2009

2008 King of the Mountain, Mathieu Richard and crew. Image copyright Loris von Siebenthal/World Match Racing Tour.

by Susi Baillods

The date and the first skippers for the St. Moritz Match Race 2009 have been set. From 1 to 6 September 2009 the world’s best skippers will be sailing to capture the crown, “King of the Mountains”. Back this year, among others, is last year’s champion, Mathieu Richard and the two previous Kings, Ian Williams (2007) and Paolo Cian (2006).

The first sailors for the St. Moritz Match Race have been announced. The World Match Racing Tour has made some changes to the rules of the Match Racing World Championship. The Tour has decided to fix six top skippers: Ian Williams (GBR), Sebastien Col (FRA), Mathieu Richard (FRA), Adam Minoprio (NZL), Paolo Cian (ITA), Torvar Mirsky (AUS) will be at the start for the St. Moritz Match Race 2009.

Two more skippers will be invited by the World Match Racing Tour. Another two will compete for one place at two Qualifier events (the Swiss Championship Match Racing Lugano and the Open Espana in Calpe). The Tour will give a wildcard to another two and finally, the St. Moritz organising committee will invite a pair. As every year, starting places in St. Moritz are coveted – Alinghi skipper Ed Baird has already expressed his interest in participating. “We welcome the new Invite Policy of the World Tour and are pleased that half of the field has been set so early in the year with the world’s best,” explained Christian Scherrer, head of the St. Moritz Match Race organising committee. “This will guarantee a top-class line-up for the seventh St. Moritz Match Race.”

The calendar for the World Match Racing Tour is now official. The St. Moritz Match Race will take place from 1 to 6 September 2009. And a new event, the Marseille International Match Race, has been added to the Tour calendar.

The St. Moritz Match Race organising committee is pleased to continue the coorperation with trusted partner AFG. UBS and Badrutt’s Palace Hotel remain the main event sponsors.

St Moritz Match Race
World Match Racing Tour

WMRT: Pierre Antoine Morvan and Ian Ainslie Qualify for Marseille

Marseille, with Notre Dame de la Garde. Image copyright World Match Racing Tour.

by World Match Racing Tour media

The event organizers of the Y’s CUP, an international Match Racing competition grade 3 confirmed their worries when weather conditions typical to the South of France at this time of year persisted at the end of the week… North-Westerly winds known as “LE MISTRAL” were as strong as 35 knots on Sunday morning and lasted throughout the day, not permitting the competition to continue.

“Saturday 20 knots, big waves, and cold… but good Match Racing conditions and with world class athletes we were able to complete 7 flights, from 10 am until 6 pm where the organizing committee and skippers gave it their all, said event organiser Dimitri Deurelle.

The Round Robin wasn’t completed but with 7 flights out of 9 the committee was able to establish a general ranking list. First place went to Pierre Antoine Morvan, second to Ian Ainslie, who now both qualify for the 7th edition of the MIMR, Marseille International Match Racing Grade 0 and the 1st event in the World Tour. Third place goes to Damien Iehl, fourth to Philippe Presti, fifth to Bertrand Pace sixth to Alvahro Marinho, seventh to Eric Monin, eighth to Franck Cammas. (Jure Orel was absent for administrative reasons.)

Marseille harbour. Image copyright World Match Racing Tour.

“This year hasn’t been very good weather wise for us so far but we are counting on a change for the MIMR from March 10 - 15. Last year weather conditions were ideal 10 to 20 knots of South Easterly winds…perfect for Match Racing” commented Dimitri Deurelle.

World Match Racing Tour

BMW Auckland Regatta: High Winds Forecast

by Zoe Hawkins

Forecasters are predicting wind and rain for the Hauraki Gulf racecourse where around 60 of our country’s best race yachts will line up tomorrow for three days of intensive racing.

“That’s sailing,” says BMW Auckland Regatta spokesperson Ross Markwick about Friday’s forecast, which is expected to clear in time for the remaining races to be held over the weekend.

“Right now we have a weather system passing over on Friday that will bring rain and moderate to heavy winds,” says Markwick. “It should move off overnight and Saturday and Sunday will bring ideal conditions for racing.”

Notable entrants in the BMW Auckland Regatta are eight of the top ten fastest yachts in the country, including the impressive canting keel yachts, V5, Pussy Galore and Wired, and a selection of multihulls: New Zealand Olympic rep Dan Slater’s Line 7 Marine, Jon Bilger’s, and Attitude, Dirty Deeds and Epsom Salts.

The race course will centre off Eastern Beach in the Tamaki Strait. Two windward leeward and a harbour course will be sailed on Friday and Sunday, and four windward leeward courses will be sailed on Saturday.

The BMW Auckland Regatta is organised by the Auckland Regatta Trust, a joint initiative between the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and the Bucklands Beach Yacht Club, in order to foster and promote amateur sailing in the region.

The event is sponsored by BMW, KPMG, Auckland City Council and Manukau City Council, and is further supported by North Sails, BSP Design, Mount Gay Rum, Whiting Power Systems - Yanmar Marine, OKI and Fullers.

Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Bucklands Beach Yacht Club

VOR: Another Day, Another Dollar

Green Dragon hit rough weather, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Mark Chisnell

Another day, another 400 or so miles on the clock – wind speed: mid-teens; wind direction: northerly. Nothing much has changed. These are the humdrum miles, the 9-to-5 miles, the are-we-nearly-there-yet miles, the boat speed miles… this is where the speed kings earn their keep.

Taking home the big bucks were Torben Grael and Ericsson 4 – still topping the pile, with Ken Read and PUMA handcuffed to them for the road trip - the deficit locked in at around 10 miles.

By 10:00 ZULU this morning, the wind speed had eased just a touch more to the low teens, while the direction had started the long veer (clockwise rotation) to the right, that will eventually end (the other side of the Doldrums) in the south-east trade winds. The devil as always is in the details.

So, a couple of other things have changed, well, maybe three – no, make that four - boots are being traded for shoes on board. The second is that the leaders have started the course change towards the south. As the wind shifted towards the east, PUMA and Ericsson both let the wind angle tighten to about 110 degrees.

Then, as the wind continued to shift, they altered course to go with it, to end up sailing south-east – not far from the course to the scoring gate, which is currently 155 degrees (BRG_WPT). But PUMA went just a touch further with the course change than Ericsson 4, steering a little more south, so that there is now just over 25 miles between them, east to west.

The third thing is that the lead pair has poured on the mileage since yesterday – in 24 hours they’ve gained 55+ miles on each of the three boats behind them. I think this is partly boat speed, and partly the hand dealt by the weather, which at the moment is favouring the leaders. The latest analysis from Matt Sanders, Assistant Race Forecaster, describes how the fleet has been riding south on a wave of solid breeze, driven by a combination of high pressure dropping south behind them, and a cold front ahead of them. The high pressure is particularly visible, growing and drifting south-east and then east, if you click through the forecasts on the Race Viewer.

Bowman David Vera climbing up the sail to change a sheet, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

Initially, this was great for the boats behind, the late-starters - Ericsson 3 and Telefonica Blue - as they were pushed down to the leaders on the new south-going breeze. But since then, the trailing boats have been closer to the centre of the high pressure, and consequently in a little bit less wind – and they have had to watch the leaders ease away from them. The squeeze box is back – always a feature of these north-south legs, where the fleet is crossing from one climate zone to another.

Green Dragon is aiming for an eastern transition of The Doldrums

And that brings us to the fourth thing - the fate of Green Dragon’s play to the east. For the next 24 hours the best breeze is to the west, as they transition from the northerly, into the north-east trade winds. There is a problematic area of light winds off to the east.

Unfortunately (life wasn’t meant to be easy) as we’ve discussed ad nauseam, the long-term gains ought to be to the east. It’s a question of balancing likely short-term gains to the west, with possible long-term gains to the east – and assessing each of those probabilities. And that’s the really hard part - as Ian Walker says - the forecast doesn’t go far enough ahead to allow them even the usual level of uncertainty. The seven-day forecast still doesn’t reach the south-east trade winds.

Walker did acknowledge that they were up against the fastest boats in the fleet, but while they were aiming for an eastern transition of the Doldrums relative to the others, they still didn’t intend to end up quite so far north. And after hearing that yesterday afternoon, it’s no surprise to see that the Dragon has spent the last 24 hours folding her hand, and falling into line behind the leading trio.

And there is still some interesting leverage around – Green Dragon is 120 miles east of Telefonica Blue, at about the same latitude. And as we mentioned before, Ericsson 4 and PUMA are spread 25 miles east to west, at the same latitude. So, we should get to see which side is faster.

I’ve dug up the seven day forecast, to have a quick look ahead, and – for what it’s worth - the transition through the Doldrums anywhere west of the Solomon Islands looks pretty ugly. So I think the boats will be targeting the eastern tip of this island chain to exit into the south-east trades. And that should give them a fast wind angle down to New Zealand, so long as they don’t get tangled up with Vanuatu or New Caledonia - the geography lesson continues...

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA LEG FIVE DAY 5 QFB: received 18.02.09 1006 GMT

Casey Smith fixing PUMA Ocean Racing's broken steering wheel, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Kenny Read (skipper)

When we started this journey Sidney Gavignet promised me that we would do some phenomenal sailing that I would remember for the rest of my life. Clearly the last two days were the ones he was describing. Fast, warm reaching down the Pacific. A little moist on deck, but a little water is always involved when you mention the word fast.

As for the race itself, we are pretty pleased at this point to be holding on to Ericsson 4 in conditions they have excelled in on past legs, and we are constantly stretching on the rest of the pack. And it really has been a flat out drag race. All of this ocean to choose from and the five boats are essentially travelling down very similar paths. The goal is to meet up with the easterly trades far enough to the east so we aren't hard on the wind. Also, we will try to position ourselves to the east of some light air near the doldrums.

Hopefully we will make it though the dreaded doldrums a little more unscathed this time. So far, as Jochen Zeitz (the head of PUMA) pointed out, we are pretty much 0-2 while trying to get through the dreaded doldrums. Since we have two more passages though there we are trying in vain to even the score.

As Jochen said "I hate the doldrums!" Believe me Jochen, when I say that every sailor out here shares your sentiments exactly.

Life onboard has really settled in and fortunately some of the bumps and bruises that were received by a few of the boys in the first 36 hours are healing up. Doesn't look like anything terminal. Clearly Kirby's (Jerry Kirby/USA) storytelling hasn't taken a hit. Shannon Falcone has taken a breather in order for Jerry to hop back on board for this leg. As Jerry's wife Kim knows, the peace and quiet on board is now gone and Jerry can be heard laughing and bringing up another story pretty much at all hours of the day.

Don't tell him I said this, but he is the perfect guy for a leg like this. Believe me, there is never a dull moment with Mr Kirby around. And he actually knows when to take things serious as well. Something that I think it has taken all of his years to learn!

Tonight, the train may come to a halt as we run into some lighter air later and then the trades start up at a tighter angle. Still some nice sailing but not quite the bullet train that we are riding now. Plenty more to come.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 4 LEG FIVE DAY 5 QFB: received 18.02.09 1125 GMT

by Ryan Godfrey (bowman)

Ahoy from Ericsson 4!

Dry-out time aboard today. The temperature has really made a change for the better and this afternoon has been a great opportunity to pack up the double layer sleeping bags and mattresses. It’s also been nice to see all the condensation moisture that forms throughout the boat start to evaporate away. It’s still high speed and crashing waves on deck, but the warm water and relatively dry interior make life so much more pleasant aboard the mighty Ericsson 4.

Racing-wise, things are going really well. The boat loves these reaching conditions and with every sched we gradually build our lead over the chasing Il Mostro. Our team mates aboard Ericsson 3 have done a top job getting back into the race after a late start and it’s a great reflection on the skills of our shore crew that that boat is up and racing at 100% so quickly and that Ericsson 4 is so well prepared that we can be pushing at the front of the fleet in what, at times, have been pretty full conditions.

There is already some talk of bets on when we will round Cape Horn, but with 11000nm still to go to the finish, I think I might hold off a while yet before making my call.

I hope all the families and shore guys got home alright and perhaps even get some time to relax and enjoy the break from Volvo life.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 5 QFB: received 18.02.09 1052 GMT

Michael Pammenter during a sail change onboard Telefonica Blue, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Simon Fisher (strategist/helmsman)

When someone shook me awake this morning I was suddenly filled with optimism that we may have a sunny day ahead of us, however, by the time I had pulled my wet weather gear on, dragged all the stack forward downstairs to compensate for the ever- lightening wind and forced down some breakfast, the sun had once again disappeared and the light was flat and grey once again.

This has been the story for the last few days, grey, overcast with little life around us. Every now and then we see a ship in the distance and this morning we sighted the first bird for several days. Even the flying fish seem to be scarce in this part of the Pacific.

With so much sailing on the same angle in similar conditions you could easily think it's Groundhog Day! This is the way it looks to continue for the next few days at least. Reaching, reaching, reaching.... The wind will steadily head us and we will slowly curve down to the south to pick up the trades to take us south.

Despite a slight feeling of monotony amongst the crew, everything onboard is going well. The cuisine is as good as ever, with Spanish jambon, Italian parmesan and even a few fresh oranges are a treat to the palette with while stocks last! Conditions are now also much warmer so the thermal clothing is slowly being peeled away. The only bad things we have to deal with at the moment are a few people’s smelly feet! So bad in fact that Jono (Jonathan Swain/RSA) was moving around downstairs wearing a ski mask on his face! The worry is, if the smell is this bad now, what are we going to do in 30 days!!

For me now it's lunch time, then sleep and the owners of the smelly feet are on deck so I best get to sleep before they return!!

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 3 LEG FIVE DAY 5 QFB: received 18.02.09 1012 GMT

Ericsson 3 new crew memeber Norwegian Arve Roaas hoisiting together with pitman and boat captainn Jens Dolmer, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Gustav Morin (Media crew member)

There is good mood among the guys. Everyone is joking, telling stories and laughing while we are trying to make the boat go as fast as possible. This is the seventh day at sea for the guys who sailed the boat from Taiwan. The new guys, Magnus “Bagi” Woxen and Arve Roaas, have been blending in well with the old crew.

Arve sailed the race with the Norwegian syndicate Djuice 2001-02 with the VO60s. And he is thrilled about the new boats.

“The VO 70s are better in every way. They are a lot quicker and actually a bit drier, under deck that is… And if the swing keel system is as reliable as I hear it is, it’s a lot better than the water ballast system.”

Magnus Woxen, 38, is one of the most experienced ocean sailors of his age in Sweden with experience from the three latest Ocean races. Just after a couple of hours sailing with us he was amazed with the differences between the old VO 70 and this one.

“It’s a complete different boat, so much quicker and more controllable.”

How does it feel to join the race so late and for the longest leg?

“I have been keen on doing this leg since I heard about it,” he says and continues:

“It includes everything, tropic conditions, Southern Ocean, Cape Horn and finish in Rio. Very challenging, of course, but fun. And it feels good to be on the Nordic boat. It very seldom happens that I can speak Swedish when I sail, so that is fun. I only knew two of the guys from before, but so far I like everyone and it feels great to be a part of this crew.”

Ericsson 3 new crew memeber Magnus Woxen, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

Arve Roaas adds:

“Yeah, I feel the same. There is a good spirit in this crew and I feel I am blending in quickly. Also I start to get a good feeling on how to handle the boat and I get more confident with it every day.”

Today the sun is shining and the temperature is really comfortable. But the wind has been very shifty and it’s been tricky to keep good speed and making the right choice of sails. We have between 10 and 20 knots of wind and the angle has constantly been going back and forth from 30 to 55 degrees

Obviously the other boats are in the same situation. The results we see on the scheds are a lot up and down.

Everyone is pretty happy about having less wind and warmer air and water. We have been punched around pretty hard in the cockpit the last couple of days and everyone is a bit bruised. Some have twisted their knees and ankles and hit their ribs, but nothing really serious.

“It has really been an inferno of water,” Arve Roaas says. “But my body is now getting use to this environment. I am also starting to get use to taking on and off the wet clothes, knowing were to put your boots and socks while sleeping and how to fit in to the sleeping bag and climb up in my bunk which has only 20 cm to the roof. It feels like we have a good setup for making a good result to Rio. We seem to have alright food and fortunately a lot of snus,” he ends, laughing.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 5 QFB: received 18.02.09 0602 GMT

Heads down during a peeling onboard Telefonica Blue, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Tom Addis (navigator)

Just another day reaching really, but we are starting to get into the leg a bit more now. Ericsson 4 and Puma are still stretching, but we are starting to reel in the Dragon and occasionally Ericsson 3 so hopefully we'll have some friends to play with soon.

Slowly coming into better breeze so we may be able to stop the bleeding soon, but we still aren't seeing any major passing lanes - perhaps a bit of a compression in a few days, but nothing much more exciting than that at this stage. Just have to keep chipping away - day five of a long leg like this is no time to be taking big risks on the routing.

Me, personally, I'm really looking forward to having some shifts and clouds to pick once we start getting south. There's not so much value that I can add in these reaching conditions where options are much more limited. In the last sail change I managed to give myself a small cut on my head on the back of the daggerboard, ever since then I've felt heaps better about this leg - so that’s what I needed - a swift hit to the head to get me into the swing of things!!!

Jono (Jonathan Swain/RSA) has just made the change from boots to shoes. He's always the last one into boots and the first one out but I think others will follow soon. It’s still very wet outside, but it’s getting warmer and the wet isn't going to stop anytime soon knowing these boats, so the call will probably be made by most soon to get out of the heavy gear.

Back to reaching on port tack.

Volvo Ocean Race