Saturday 16 May 2009

iShares Cup: Images from Venice by Gilles Martin-Raget

BMW ORACLE Racing Extreme 40 skippered by James Spithill. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Extreme 40s at the iShares Cup in Venice. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Extreme 40s at the iShares Cup in Venice. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Extreme 40s at the iShares Cup in Venice. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Extreme 40s at the iShares Cup in Venice. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Extreme 40s at the iShares Cup in Venice. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Extreme 40s at the iShares Cup in Venice. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Extreme 40s at the iShares Cup in Venice. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Extreme 40s at the iShares Cup in Venice. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Extreme 40s at the iShares Cup in Venice. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Extreme 40s at the iShares Cup in Venice. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Extreme 40s at the iShares Cup in Venice. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Extreme 40s at the iShares Cup in Venice. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Extreme 40s at the iShares Cup in Venice. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Extreme 40s at the iShares Cup in Venice. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

iShares Cup

iShares Cup: Images from Day One in Venice by Thierry Martinez

Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co/OC Events.

Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co/OC Events.

Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co/OC Events.

Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co/OC Events.

Carolijn Brouwer. Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co/OC Events.

Holmatro hits BMW ORACLE Racing. Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co/OC Events.

Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co/OC Events.

Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co/OC Events.

iShares Cup

iShares Cup: Heavyweights Stay Close in Light Airs

- Hotly disputed opening for the 2009 iShares Cup in Venice
- BMW ORACLE leads at the end of day 1
- 5 races and 4 different winners!
- A few bumps and dubious mark roundings as the fleet get back into race mode

iShares Cup Venice Day 1 close combat. Image copyright Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OCEvents.

by Emily Caroe

Despite challenging conditions at the opening round of the iShares Cup Venice, the 10 Extreme 40s put away five races this afternoon, before the breeze died. The race course is set along the Riva dei Setti, within striking distance of St Mark's Square, and the 40-ft catamarans were tacking and gybing within meters of the wall. The racing was hotly contested with no team gaining a clear advantage and it was a case of mixed fortunes for some. Ultimately, consistency paid off for James Spithill's BMW ORACLE Racing who after winning the first race emerged as leaders at the end of the first day of the 2009 iShares Cup Extreme 40 Sailing Series. Gitana Extreme - Groupe LCF Rotschild, Renaissance (Oman Sail) and Masirah (Oman Sail) also made a remarkable debut, the latter only being one point behind Yann Guichard's team on the provisional leaderboard!

After a windless and overcast morning (although the scenery remains magical no matter what!), the breeze started to fill in shortly after midday and the 10 Extreme 40s took to the racecourse under menacing skies and a few drops of rain. The first four races of the day were held in around 6 to 8 knots of breeze, but by the end of the afternoon the wind had died and conditions were more than challenging for the crews.

With two consecutive second places and a win in race 3, Gitana Extreme - Groupe LCF Rothschild impressed by their speed, consistency and tactics, and with BMW ORACLE and Renaissance (Oman Sail) having posted a win each, the leading boats were clearly identified early in the competition. Also impressive was Oman Sail's Masirah, winning two races and clearly benefiting from an intensive winter training. As Pete Cumming, Masirah's skipper, noted yesterday "We've worked a lot and did not make any changes to the crew compared to last year, so I expect it to pay off, but of course with the level of our opponents, we have to be humble." Humble or not, Pete and his crew certainly looked very confident on the tight Venetian racecourse today, and will be watched closely by their rivals tomorrow.

The racecourse, kept traffic-free by the local maritime authorities who had diverted the large number of ferries, waterbuses, taxis and other goods transport vessels, saw a few near misses and low-impact collisions today. Holmatro failed to give way to BMW ORACLE (on starboard tack, which grants priority) and bumped into the American Extreme 40 without causing serious damage. A comparable incident led to the disqualification of Groupama 40 in the last race. In light and fluky airs, and with not a lot of room to breathe around the marks, a couple of typical tense roundings occured, proving - if needed - that the iShares Cup is set to be more disputed than ever! This provided good entertainment value for the spectators along the Riva dei Setti!

Skipper quotes

James Spithill, BMW ORACLE Racing
"After having taken part in the Cowes event last year, I can say that the level is remarkably higher than it was in 2008, and it's very hard to single out a team as several are right up there and can expect to win."

Yann Guichard, Gitana Extreme - Groupe LCF Rothschild
Newcomers to the iShares Cup, the crew is led by French multihull expert Yann Guichard, former Olympic competitor and ORMA 60 trimaran specialist. "We trained in Valencia with BMW Oracle and Groupama, and exchanged a lot of knowledge. The Extreme 40 is a powerful but seaworthy boat, and I chose to stick with a lightweight crew to have better speed in light airs. Of course, my previous multihull experience helps, and on board we know each other very well, I think we can achieve good results. And the objective is to win, of course!"

Race-Trax, official tracking Partner to the iShares Cup Extreme 40 Sailing Series
OC Events has teamed up with Race-Trax tracking solution to be the Official Tracking Partner to the iShares Cup. The Partnership will see all ten Extreme 40s on the start line at the first event in Venice carrying the Race-Trax technology that will be able to follow their progress around the tight-race courses every second of the way. Tim Hancock, the iShares Cup Race Director commented, “Having Race-Trax onboard with us for the Series is great. As we saw in the last two years, these Extreme 40s race at such high speeds and in really tight venues and so to be able to have the exact positions of the boats will ensure that we make the right calls and won’t need to rely on a photo finish!”

iShares Cup Leaderboard
1. BMW ORACLE Racing 40pts
2. Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild 36pts
3. Masirah 35pts
4. Holmatro 31pts
5. Renaissance 30pts
6. LUNA 26pts
7. Groupama 40 25pts
8. BT 21pts
9. iShares 17pts
10. Ecover 13pts

iShares Cup

Audi MedCup: Quantum Racing back in business; Roma leads GP42s

Consistency was the key once again as champions Quantum Racing emerge to lead the TP52 series after three great races, while Roma 2 leads the GP42 Series.

Quantum Racing competing in the City of Alicante Trophy. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Audi MedCup.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

At times it was spectacular as the sea breeze off Alicante built to 17 knots at times, but it was never easy or straightforward as the Audi MedCup champions Quantum Racing (USA) eased into the overall lead of the City of Alicante Trophy Regatta after three close races today. In the GP42 Series which revelled in the sparkling conditions today, it is the Italian Roma Mk2 which leads.

Quantum Racing struck gold early, winning the first race of the day, threatening the kind of dominant performance which they displayed in certain conditions last season but it was their consistency across Races 3 and 4 of the TP52 Series which ensured they hold a three points lead over second placed Matador (ARG).

Matador, new this season, lead the overall standings after Race 3 but were slow off their final start and could only manage an eighth to share the same points tally as third places Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL).

Skipper Terry Hutchinson (USA) admitted the Quantum Racing crew were satisfied with their day but confirmed that although the action looked brisk and exciting, there were always differences in pressure and wind strength to make gains and losses on every leg.

Quantum Racing (USA) squeezed inside Valars III (RUS) at the windward mark in the first race of the day to lead at each turn and win from 2007 champions Artemis (SWE).

A wind shift to the right just as the second race started, with the breeze peaking at 16-17 knots, made life interesting at the right hand end of the start line, where the bunching at the committee boat was pronounced. In this melée Bribon fouled Quantum Racing, but the American boat was still able to extricate themselves going on to finish third behind Matador and Synergy.

The Russian team on the Reichel-Pugh designed former USA-17 capped a strong day for them when they won the third race. With Cameron Dunn (NZL) calling tactics and Chris Main (NZL) trimming the mainsail for helmsman Sergei Pichugin (UKR) they could have been even better but for catching a plastic bag round their keel.

First blood for GP42
Emerging as the day’s winner on an impressive 1-1-2 record in the GP42 Series, the Roma 2 team, led by skipper Paolo Cian (ITA), showed their experience from two previous years of GP42 campaigning in having strong starts and fast pace all around the course, but particularly so downwind where they often stretched their lead when ahead and closed the gaps when behind. Designed by Farr, the boat has just emerged from tummy-tuck surgery to the stern sections to better optimize performance downwind and in light air.

“The team did a great job,” said Cian, helmsman of the Shosholoza America’s Cup team and currently ranked 7th in the World Match Racing Tour, “as we were very aggressive at working every wave and puff, and seemed to gain the most here. It was a great day for us a fantastic start to the season.”

The Roma team is pushing hard in this GP42 Series, even on the GP42 class 800 kg weight limit: a post-race weight check revealed the team to by a mere 6 kg under the limit, where even the slightest infraction in this class yields a disastrous DSQ on the scorecard of any offending team.

Audi MedCup Circuit 2009
City of Alicante Trophy
TP52 Series
Provisional standings after 4 races:

1. Quantum Racing (USA) 5,1,3,4=13 points
2. Matador (ARG) 2,5,1,8=16 points
3. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 4,4,6,2=16 points
4. Marazzi Sailing (SUI) 4,6,4,10=24 points
5. Synergy (RUS) 11,11,2,1=25 points

GP42 Series
Provisional standings after 3 races:

1. Roma (ITA) 1,1,2=4 points
2. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) 3,2,1=6 points
3. Airis (ITA) 2,3,3=8 points
4. Caser-Endesa (ESP) 4,4,4=12 points
5. Turismo Marid (ESP) 6,5,5=16 points

Quotes of the day
Terry Hutchinson (USA), skipper-helm Quantum Racing (USA):
“The guys at the back of the boat did a really good job sniffing out all the wind shifts. That first race in particular we started where we wanted to but not necessarily with the fleet balancing as we expected, we were the leeward-most boat but Mark and Morgan were really, really strong on the left hand side. We had a nice little left hand shift and extended away from there.

“The other races: the second race we got fouled at the start of the second race but still managed to get away. There was no space but we let them in so there was not collisions with other boats. But the positive from that was that we got the start we wanted. We would have been a lot faster had that not happened.

“ The third race we hit four or five waves in the middle of the course and were slow but did nice work to get up to fourth.

“ Morgan, Mark and Robert did a really good job in keeping an open mind. Really good communication about the phases of the wind, and the guys racing the boat did nice work with the boat handling.

“ It is a five regatta Series so you know how I feel this early, but don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be leading but there are so many good teams around this season.”

Ray Davies (NZL), tactician Emirates Team New Zealand:
“ It was an interesting day. The right hand side ended up being very strong in the first couple of races and then in the third it started trending back towards the left a little beat, but there were some big gains down the run, mainly to gybe early. There was nearly always more pressure to the right looking upwind. And the guys that could gybe early and sail their own mode were launched. We had a little tussle with the Spanish and lost three boats towards the finish in the second race, which was a little bit of a disappointment.

“ All in all we had a pretty good day. We can definitely sail better as a crew and so we are pretty happy to be just three points off the lead. It is never nice losing a boat on the finish line but we had to protect on the two boats behind, you cant cover everyone and the Russians were sailing really well having a second and a first.

"We feel like we go well downwind when the breeze is up a little bit. Upwind our speed is fine. The boat has great potential and we are still learning. It is a very different boat to what we are used to. You need to stay much more on top of it, trim a little bit more than previous boats we have sailed in this class, and so we have to be more on our game.”

Guilermo Parada (ARG), skipper-helm Matador (ARG):
“We sailed badly in the third race. I made a bad start and we just did not take advantage of the opportunities that we got to be able to climb the fleet when we could. This fleet you just cannot afford mistakes. We are not happy with our performance but there is a lot of racing left in this regatta and we expect to be able to win races.

Audi MedCup

VOR: Across the Atlantic

The skippers press conference in Boston. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Sophie Luther

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet is ready to face the North Atlantic for leg seven as the teams make their final preparations ahead of Saturday’s start. The transatlantic crossing is weighing heavily on the minds of the skippers. As Ian Walker said, “these could be the hardest miles we sail.”

The race start is scheduled for 13:00 local time in Boston Harbor (17:00 GMT), with the starting line directly off the race village at Fan Pier in Boston. The fleet will make a loop of the harbour before heading out to sea to Galway, some 2,500 nautical miles away.

At the skipper’s press conference ahead of the start, local hero Ken Read promised his PUMA team, currently standing third on the leaderboard, would put their best foot forward, in an effort to earn their first victory of the race.

“As always, our goal is to win this leg,” he said. “It’s no different to any other leg. We know what the score is, and it’s our job to make up some of the difference.”
PUMA had the pressure of a homecoming on the leg into Boston, but that burden now shifts to Green Dragon. Skipper Ian Walker says the team is definitely aware of the significance of the leg, but says they won’t let it get to them.

“For us to get back to Galway and Ireland is a major milestone for this project. It’s probably the most important thing that we can do, to sail that boat into Galway,” he said.

But when asked if the team would be making an extra effort to secure a strong finish into their home port, he was sanguine: “We were last into Boston and we don’t want to repeat that…I’m proud of the fact that the team has stuck together through the disappointments. But for us to try any harder on this leg would do disservice to all the other legs. We try our hardest all the time.”

Torben Grael, skipper of the overall race leader, Ericsson 4, cautioned that this leg could be a brutal one.

“We don’t underestimate the leg. Last race (in 2006), when we left New York, the leg was a very hard one, much worse than people were predicting. So it’s good to be prepared for anything when you have a leg like this.”

His counterpart on Ericsson 3, Magnus Olsson, who has led his team to a win and second place finish in the last two legs, is a veteran of the race, and has many transatlantic crossings under his belt. Too many to count apparently: “I don’t know, 30 or 40 perhaps…it’s a nice place!”

Bouwe Bekking on Telefonica Blue spoke of the importance of teamwork on board his boat: “It’s a team sport. It doesn’t matter if you’re the skipper or navigator or helmsman or media man, everybody has to work as hard as possible. We’ll go for it and try to win.”

Telefonica Black skipper Fernando Echavarri said the forecast to begin the leg gave his team confidence: “For our boats, I think it’s going to be good conditions until the scoring gate – reaching in light to medium conditions. Later on, we will try to arrive in Galway in one piece as it could be very tough conditions. We’ll be working as hard as possible to get to Galway in a good position.”

Delta Lloyd’s Roberto ‘Chuny’ Bermudez also spoke of the excitement of returning to Europe. “We are a European team so for us it’s a matter of coming back home after many, many miles,” he said. "So the team is very happy to be heading for home. But still, there are many miles left to fight with these guys. We need to try to get good results, it’s important for us.”

Pictured are street performers Samuel and Jazsos from 'Arcana' with Your a Star winner Lucia Evans at the launch of the Galway Volvo Ocean Race event programme which will run from the 23rd of May to the 6th of june and is supported by Failte Ireland.Events for the family involving street theatre performances in the Race Village, free concerts by Aslan, Hothouse Flowers, Sharon Shannon, The Stunning, Kila, The Coronas, Lucia Evans and for the art lovers , a trail with 18 exhibitions around the city with a maritime theme, plus a whole lot more.For a Full programme details are available on . Image copyright Chris Bellew / Fennells.

The Mayor of Galway was on hand at the skippers’ press conference today to extend his welcome, in advance, to the teams. Mayor Padraig Conneely told the teams his city was very proud to be hosting the Irish stopover.

“We’re a cultural city, an old maritime city, renowned for art and culture and sport as well. Our dock area is right in the centre of the city, and I know you’re going to enjoy yourselves. I wish you all the very best of luck, and the city will be on full alert to welcome you.”

The start of leg seven of the Volvo Ocean Race will take place in Boston Harbor, off Fan Pier, at 13:00 local time (17:00 GMT) on Saturday.

There will be audio commentary streamed on from the water, with Guy Swindells. His live show starts at 12:45 local time, and can be heard locally on VHF 67.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Volvo Ocean Race Game Joins Forces with Green Dragon to Combine the Virtual and Real World


by Lucy Harwood

Green Dragon is pleased to announce a unique partnership with bwin, United Games, and the Volvo Ocean Race Game. Via a sophisticated virtual-to-real navigation system the Volvo Ocean Race game-community will be actively involved with Green Dragon during Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Boston to Galway starting on May 16. This will be the first time an online gaming community has been in active communication with a professional sporting team during a live competition.

Every twelve hours during leg the Volvo online game community will be sent a poll from the skipper and navigator onboard Green Dragon. This poll will be introduced by a description of the current situation (weather, waves, crew, etc), as well as a forecast of what is going to happen over the next 24/36/48/72 hours. The poll will hold at least three possible navigational options for the route ahead. The online community will vote and the results of that poll will then be communicated by Volvo Event Management UK to the entire Volvo Ocean Race fleet as they race across the North Atlantic. The crew onboard Green Dragon will make a decision after the results of the poll to see what to do and in doing so create a genuine interface between the real and virtual crew members. Green Dragon will then, at the discretion of the Skipper and Navigator, follow the option which received the majority of votes from the gaming community. The poll’s content will be automatically picked up by the Volvo Ocean Race game website and placed highly visible for players on the site.

The Volvo Ocean Race virtual game allows sailors to play and compete against the official Volvo Open 70 fleet which races around the world. About 200.000 active players have joined the game already, with participants from over 185 countries. The game has become the largest online sailing community in the world. The Volvo Ocean Race game is published and organized by UnitedGames, a leading European publisher of online MMO Games. The company currently develops and publishes over 20 Massive Multiplayer Games and has over 3 million daily players from 180 countries.

“We are very excited to be part of such a pioneering and exciting project. This joint effort between real and the virtual world could be an immense milestone for the future of online gaming and I am sure that this is only going to be the first step,” Marijn Harinck - CEO United Games

Following the exchange of contracts today in Boston, bwin joins Green Dragon as a partner alongside a Chinese syndicate made up of three companies; Shandong Lingong, Weichai Power, Triangle Group, and the Swedish based BERG Propulsion. Discover is also a partner sponsor and is promoting Ireland as a tourism destination through their participation in the Volvo Ocean Race. As the worlds leading provider of online gaming entertainment bwin demonstrates once again its technology-leadership and innovative spirit. bwin enables the first online community guided yacht at the Volvo Ocean Race together with United Games, one of Europe’s leading developer of online MMO Games. bwin sets a new benchmark in combining the virtual and the real world.

“This virtual-real-teamwork idea is fascinating,” commented Green Dragon skipper Ian Walker. “It will be a completely new experience for us and will add a new dimension to sailing. We are really looking forward to this joint adventure”.

About bwin
The bwin Group has over 20 million registered customers in more than 25 core markets. Under various licenses (e.g. in Germany, Italy and Gibraltar), it operates platforms for sports betting, poker, casino games and games through subsidiaries and associated companies. With the world’s widest selection of online sports betting supplemented by audio and video streaming of major sporting events such as matches of the German Soccer League, as well as one of Europe’s largest poker networks, bwin offers incomparable online gaming entertainment. The parent company bwin Interactive Entertainment AG has been listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange since March 2000 (ID code BWIN, Reuters ID code BWIN.VI). Further information about the Company can be found on its investor relations website at

About UnitedGames
UnitedGames is a leading European publisher of online MMO Games. The company currently develops and publishes over 20 Massive Multiplayer Games and has over 3 million daily players from 180 countries. Website:

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Real and Virtual Worlds Collide for Green Dragon

(left-right) Marijn Harinck CEO, United Games and Ian Walker, Skipper of Green Dragon, announce a collaboration between the sailors on Green Dragon and the community of players in the Volvo Ocean Race virtual game. Players will contribute to the navigation and tactical decisions made by the boat in the next leg of the round the world race. Leg 7 takes the fleet across the Atlantic from Boston to Galway, Ireland. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Sophie Luther

Ian Walker's Green Dragon team has announced a unique partnership with the Volvo Ocean Race Game ahead of leg seven, which takes the fleet from Boston to Galway, Ireland, starting on Saturday.

The arrangement will give the game playing community on the Volvo Ocean Race Game the ability to interact with the Green Dragon afterguard as skipper Ian Walker and navigator Ian Moore make their weather routing decisions during the leg.

Here's how it will work: Every twelve hours during the leg, the virtual skippers in the Volvo Ocean Race Game will be sent a poll from Green Dragon. It will include a description of the current situation (details on weather conditions, boat condition and the crew) as well as an outlook for the next 24/36/48/72 hours.

Each of these polls will include at least three options for the route the team should sail. The poll will be posted on the game website for an hour, and the game players will have an opportunity to vote on the preferred route. The results of that vote will be communicated to the entire fleet, including Green Dragon, by the Duty Officer at Volvo Ocean Race headquarters.

Green Dragon may then, at the discretion of the skipper and navigator, follow the guidance of the online community. If the team decides not to take the advice, they will send an explanation for their reasoning.

This interaction between the real and virtual worlds is unprecedented in sport and marks the first time an online game playing community has been in active communication with a professional sporting team during live competition.

"I'm excited by this new project between Green Dragon and the Volvo Ocean Race Game," said Knut Frostad, the CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race. "The interaction between the game community, which has more than 200,000 players and the sailing team, will be very interesting to follow. I think it will give the game players a real insight to the difficult decision-making process that the sailors face time and again, each and every day, when they are at sea racing."

"This virtual-real-teamwork idea is fascinating," said Green Dragon skipper Ian Walker. "It will be a completely new experience for us and will add a new dimension to sailing. For Ian (Moore) and me, it means opening up our decision making process to the world, and the rest of the fleet. But the more we can get people to understand what really goes on, on board, the better."

The Volvo Ocean Race Game has been an unqualified success. With over 200,000 players from around the world, it is the largest active online sailing community ever. The game allows players to compete against each other, as well as the Volvo Open 70 fleet on each leg of the race.

"We are very excited to be part of such a pioneering and exciting project. This joint effort between the real and the virtual world could be an immense milestone for the future of online game playing and I am sure that this is only going to be the first step," said Marijn Harinck, the CEO of United Games, the publisher of the Volvo Ocean Race Game.

Leg seven, which takes the real - and virtual - Volvo Ocean Race fleets from Boston to Galway, is scheduled to start at 13:00 local time (17:00 GMT) in Boston Harbor on Saturday.

Volvo Ocean Race
Green Dragon Racing

Mediterranean record: Groupama 3 sets off

Groupama 3 battles her away across the Mediterranean. Image copyright Guilain GRENIER/Sea & Co.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

Groupama 3 set off on the Mediterranean record this Friday morning at exactly 0719 GMT according to the representative from the W.S.S.R.C, responsible for observing the departure of the maxi trimaran owned by the insurer-banker Groupama.

Groupama 3 will have to arrive in Carthage before 01hrs 15' 33'' (GMT) on Saturday 16th May in order to break the record set by Bruno Peyron.

Squalls and reduced visibility accompanied her passage across the start line situated abeam of the Pomegues lighthouse (43° 15.7' N- 005° 17.4' E), at the exit from the harbour of Marseilles, on the islands of Frioul.

Groupama 3 crosses the starting line abeam of the Pomegues lighthouse. Image copyright Guilain GRENIER/Sea & Co.

Franck Cammas and his 6 crew set off with 2 reefs in the mainsail, staysail and gennaker aloft. The atmosphere onboard was one of concentration as the conditions expected throughout the course (458 miles) will most certainly be feisty. Groupama 3 is heading southwards on starboard tack in a freshening tramontana and building seas.

The first gybe is scheduled for around 1200 GMT between 50 and 70 miles to the North-East of the Balearics. Around this zone the waves will be between 4 and 4.5 metres and there will be 30 to 35 knots of breeze, gusting to 40 knots!

On the way out of the harbour of Marseilles, the target speed of 32 knots was reached!

So they're off, bound for the open ocean with the wind in their sails and the bit between their teeth...

Groupama 3 in full flight. Image copyright Guilain GRENIER/Sea & Co.

Groupama 3's crew
1) Franck Cammas
2) Frédéric Le Peutrec
3) Stève Ravussin
4) Loïc Le Mignon
5) Ronan Le Goff
6) Lionel Lemonchois
7) Thomas Coville (The skipper of Sodeb'O is currently on stand-by for the Discovery Route record. However, no window is presenting itself so Thomas will be aboard Groupama 3)
On shore: Sylvain Mondon (weather adviser)

Groupama 3 in full flight. Image copyright Guilain GRENIER/Sea & Co.

• The trimaran Groupama 3 on stand-by from 6th May to 2nd June 2009 in Marseilles, in the port of Estaque
• The time to beat: 17 hours 56 minutes 33 seconds
• The current record holder: Bruno Peyron aboard the catamaran Orange II on 25th September 2004 (average speed: 25.53 knots)
• The number of nautical miles to cover: 458 miles

Groupama 3 in full flight. Image copyright Guilain GRENIER/Sea & Co.

The course time, from Marseilles to Carthage: 458 miles
The start line lies abeam of the Pomegues lighthouse located at the exit from the harbour of Marseilles, on the islands of Frioul. The logical route takes you towards the Golfe de Tunis, leaving Corsica and Sardinia to port.

The finish line is positioned abeam of the Ras Quartajamah lighthouse, on Cap Carthage, near Sidi Bou Saïd.

Groupama 3 en route to Carthage. Image copyright Guilain GRENIER/Sea & Co.

The weather of the course
There is a single imperative when setting off from Marseilles: a powerful Mistral which is created after the passage of an Atlantic low, but which extends beyond the Southern tip of Sardinia. A configuration which isn't that common as it's better to set off as the N to NW'ly wind is building along the coast of Marseilles and gradually fills as it heads along the coast of Corsica, easing progressively the further South it gets...

The Mediterranean is well known for its very short seas when the Mistral punches the air at over 40 knots. This makes the initial third of the course particularly feisty and tricky, before things become more manageable as far as the Sperone headland. It's the final third which is the most uncertain however: the Mistral has a W'ly element to it between Sardinia and Tunisia, but it can very quickly run out of steam. As for the last thirty miles between Cap Blanc and Cap Carthage, you can but hope the calms aren't reigning and that a thermal breeze kicks in: as such it's better to arrive in daylight hours.

Groupama 3 on her way across the Med. Image copyright Guilain GRENIER/Sea & Co.

The best times
1988: Saab Turbo (FRA), catamaran 22.80 metres (François Boucher) : 1 day 02h
1990: Jet Services V (FRA), catamaran 22.80 metres (Serge Madec)
1991: RMO (FRA), trimaran 18.28 metres (Laurent Bourgnon) : 22h 09m 11s
1991: Pierre 1er FRA), trimaran 18.28 metres (Florence Arthaud) : 22h 08m 26s
May 2002: PlayStation (USA), catamaran 37.90 metres (Steve Fossett) : 18h 46m 48s
25th september 2004: Orange II (FRA), catamaran 36.80 metres (Bruno Peyron) = 17h 56m 33s

Cammas - Groupama

VOR: PUMA prepared for Transaltantic Leg of Volvo Ocean Race

PUMA docked at Fan Pier, Boston. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

by Kate Fairclough

The PUMA Ocean Racing team will line up with the six other Volvo Ocean Race entrants for the start of Leg seven from Boston, USA to Galway, Ireland at 13:00 local (17:00 GMT) this Saturday. Starting from a line just off Fan Pier, Boston, the fleet will put on a show for spectators when they race a short course round the harbour before turning east to begin the 2,550 nautical mile leg across the Atlantic Ocean. Typically a cold, wet and physically intense leg, the PUMA Ocean Racing team is fighting for every last point available. Currently in third place overall with four legs remaining in this 37,000 mile round the world adventure, there is still opportunity for the PUMA team to take glory in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Having enjoyed three weeks in Boston, dubbed the PUMA team’s ‘home’ due to their links with the North American city, the team feel well-prepared for the eight to ten day dash back across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe, where the race began almost eight months ago. During the transatlantic leg the fleet will avoid icebergs located to the southeast of Newfoundland, and will cross both the Labrador Current and Gulf Stream en route. The weather outlook for the leg is mixed, with uncomfortable living conditions onboard. PUMA’s il mostro has remained in the water since last weekend’s in port race, and the team have spent the past week loading for the offshore leg. Shannon Falcone (ANT) remains onboard PUMA this leg, as Jerry Kirby (USA) stays at home to be with his wife, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Sidney Gavignet (FRA) will also take a break during this leg, and Craig Satterthwaite (NZL) steps onboard as a trimmer/driver.

Skipper Ken Read (USA) commented: “This next leg, from Boston to Galway, Ireland is one that should not be taken lightly. There is the potential for us to be close to ice again and the conditions you can see out there can be pretty brutal. Racing across the North Atlantic in spring should be treated with all of the respect it deserves.”

“For PUMA, it’s time for us to turn this thing around. With four legs left in the race, it’s no secret that we need to fight for every point even harder than ever, before this race is mathematically over for us. We’ve always said we’re here to win, and we won’t stop trying until it’s no longer possible. I am very proud of our team – the whole team, the crew of il mostro as well as our shore team and back room team – for sticking together through the tough parts of this competition. This leg we have a couple of changes within our team, with Jerry Kirby unable to sail this leg with us and Sidney Gavignet taking a break for the leg. Craig Satterthwaite steps onboard from our ‘bench’ which will help to keep our team fresh. Our boat’s in great shape. I have confidence in the team, and the team has confidence in each other.”

PUMA Ocean Racing Crew List, Leg Seven, Boston - Galway
Ken Read (USA) Skipper
Andrew Cape (AUS) Navigator
Rick Deppe (GBR) Media Crew Member
Robert Greenhalgh (GBR) Watch Captain
Erle Williams (NZL) Watch Captain
Justin Ferris (NZL) Trimmer/Driver
Rob Salthouse (NZL) Trimmer/Driver
Craig Satterthwaite (NZL) Trimmer/Driver
Shannon Falcone (ANT) Trimmer/Pit
Casey Smith (AUS) Bowman
Michael Müller (GER) Bowman

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Green Dragon Announce Crew List for Leg 7

Green Dragon in port in Boston. Image copyright Yongtao Jiang/Green Dragon Racing.

by Lucy Harwood

As part of their on going crew rotation Green Dragon will have one crew change for Leg 7, pitman Tom Braidwood will step down and Ian Budgen who also sailed onboard Green Dragon for Leg 4 from Singapore to China will join the team for the 2,500 mile sprint across the North Atlantic to Galway, Ireland.

“Ian did a great job and fitted into the team well on leg 4 to China. It was all upwind and I promised he would one day see the spinnaker! I have no doubts we will get some hard running conditions on this leg. Returning to Galway will be a huge moment for the whole Green Dragon team, it will mark a circumnavigation for the boat and the culmination of three years of work, we cannot wait to see everyone in Galway and share the project with all our supporters”, said Skipper Ian Walker.

Good Luck messages from Ian Walker's daughters. Image copyright Yongtao Jiang/Green Dragon Racing.

Ian Budgen (Budgie) (GBR)
Ian joins Green Dragon with over 13 years of professional sailing to his name. He begun his career by dominating the Laser 5000 circuit before an Olympic 49-er campaign finishing second at the 1998 World Championships. In 2001 Ian joined GBR Challenge (The British America’s Cup syndicate) and has extensive experience on the TP52 circuit, which includes sailing onboard Lexus-Atalanti with Russell Coutts.

In 2006 Ian signed up with Paul Cayard and the crew onboard Pirates of the Caribbean for the 2005/06 Volvo Ocean Race. As a helmsman and trimmer he joined the team in Rio, sailing the remaining legs of the race, including winning the final leg to Gothenburg. This leg win cemented Pirates place on the podium where they finished second overall.

Volvo Ocean Race Experience
2005/06 Pirates of the Caribbean

America’s Cup
2001 – 2003 GBR Challenge

“Leg 4 was pretty brutal, but it was another great experience. This next leg is one of the best and sailing the ‘Dragon’ into Galway will be fantastic. As we have seen before the North Atlantic holds some of the most challenging conditions, it will be a fast and furious ride to Galway”, said Ian Budgen.

Leg 7 Boston to Galway: 2,550 miles
Leg 7 starts at 13:00 local time (17:00 GMT/18:00 BST*/19:00 CEST) on the 16 May 2009. The classic transatlantic crossing, is dominated by the help available from low pressure systems and the Gulf Stream flow.

The North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) is a climatic phenomenon in the North Atlantic Ocean of fluctuations in the difference of atmospheric pressure at sea-level between the Icelandic Low and the Azores high. Through east-west oscillation motions of the Icelandic Low and the Azores high, it controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the North Atlantic. It is highly correlated with the Arctic oscillation, as it is a part of it. But the crews should beware of the Azores High, if it moves north, as it can do in late May, it could slow the approach to Galway. The NAO was discovered in the 1920s by Sir Gilbert Walker. Unlike the El Niño phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean, the NAO is a largely atmospheric mode. It is one of the most important manifestations of climate fluctuations in the North Atlantic and surrounding humid climates. Westerly winds blowing across the Atlantic, bring moist air into Europe. In years when westerlies are strong, summers are cool, winters are mild and rain is frequent. If westerlies are suppressed, the temperature is more extreme in summer and winter leading to heatwaves, deep freezes and reduced rainfall.

A permanent low-pressure system over Iceland (the Icelandic Low) and a permanent high-pressure system over the Azores (the Azores High) control the direction and strength of westerly winds into Europe. The relative strengths and positions of these systems vary from year to year and this variation is known as the NAO. A large difference in the pressure at the two stations (a high index year, denoted NAO+) leads to increased westerlies and, consequently, cool summers and mild and wet winters in Central Europe and its Atlantic façade. In contrast, if the index is low (NAO-), westerlies are suppressed, these areas suffer cold winters and storms track southerly toward the Mediterranean Sea. This brings increased storm activity and rainfall to southern Europe and North Africa.

Green Dragon Crew List Leg 7
IAN WALKER (GBR) - Skipper
IAN MOORE (IRL) - Navigator
NEAL McDONALD (GBR) - Watch Captain
DAMIAN FOXALL (IRL) - Watch Captain
IAN BUDGEN (GBR) – Helm/Trim
GUO CHUAN (CHN) - Media Crew Member

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

Friday 15 May 2009

Waka Racing say Bonjour from Marseille

- Rise to 37th in ISAF open match race rankings
- Two events cancelled by organisers for financial reasons

by Garth Ellingham

Waka Racing team is now in Marseille, France for our next event. Arriving to find the world ranking list had been updated and we have jumped form 55th to 37th. This was due to the win in Rimini grade 3 event coupled with our victory in Perth. A huge boost for the team with this being our best ranking yet!

We have just spent the last week training in Lake Balaton, Hungary. This was against world number 10 Ian Ainslie from South Africa in Melges 24s. We found this really beneficial and learnt a huge amount as we had never match raced with asymmetrical spinnakers before. Ian helped us out on the water and we got put up in a hotel opposite the small boat park by their generous sponsor. We managed to have some really good racing and learnt valuable lessons that we can take with us to this next event as they are in similar boats, the J80s.

Unfortunately while we were up in Hungary we got emailed the news that two events we had entry too and had planned to go do had been cancelled due to financial reasons. This was really bad news as one of them was a grade 3 in Portugal and the other being the grade 2 we had gained entry to in Rimini. The result of this now means we have a two possible three week hole in our calendar after our regatta in Marseille this weekend. So at the moment we don’t know where we are going next.

Today we are going to try and get out on the water for some practice and then get ready for the start of the event tomorrow. We are all pumped for this event and are looking forward to putting the training into practice.

We would all like to thank Stefan from Widex, Pacific Sports Community Trust, Line 7, RNZYS and the Waka Racing Supporters Club for all their support.

WAKA Racing
Event Website:

Audi MedCup: No Wind, No Race in Alicante

The crew of Pisco Sour III bask in the hazy Mediterranean sunshine in place of racing. Image copyright Ian Roman/Audi MedCup.

by DabliuSailProject media (in translation)

Alicante grants a "lifeless" day. Tomorrow the coastal regatta will be replaced with three races around the cans, wind allowing. The wait makes the athletes ready to give battle at sea nervous. A lot of diversions were adopted: competitions of playstation, race on the beach, gymnasium and a good book in the pool.

Afterwards, for the boys of VASCOTTO, a double appointment: The birthday of the helmsman Alberto Bolzan - 27 candles to put out in the evening - and the navigation web docked in the site ACMILAN.COM to support the Foundation Milan.

"The thing that satisfies me most is the interest created around the Foundation Milan", says Vasco Vascotto, skipper and tactician of Pisco Sour III. "For a sailor when there is not wind it does not go well. Tomorrow three races are expected, we are ready and concentrated to give the utmost, after a small celebration tonight, a slice of cake in honour of Alberto."

Vasco Vascotto
Foundation Milan
Audi MedCup

VOR: PUMA's Flying Moths

PUMA's flying moth. Image copyright PUMA Ocean Racing.

by Bridgid Murphy

PUMA has brought down over 20 local high school and college sailors try out the PUMA Moths in Boston harbour. With coaching from Olympic Gold Medallist Anna Tunnicliff and Brad Funk everyone has gotten to fly above water.

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

Audi MedCup: No Racing in Alicante; GP42 Debut on Hold

Capricious early season breezes off Alicante refused to co-operate to allow any racing today on the Audi MedCup Circuit where the GP42 class were due to make their debut on the world's leading regatta circuit.

The fleet in Alicante. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Audi MedCup.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

While the 12 boat TP52 fleet did come under starter’s orders the fitful breeze collapsed and both classes spent 90 minutes floating around waiting for any improvement in the wind conditions but it never arrived and the fleet returned to the port of Alicante at the request of the race officers.

Such conditions are frustrating but not new to the TP52 teams as the MedCup series is hosted for the third time in as many years, but the lost races do now mean that tomorrow’s schedule has been changed. The coastal race has been put on ice meantime and instead the plan is to try and run three windward-leeward contests for both fleets. The start sequence will be advanced to facilitate racing starting just after midday instead of 1300hrs (local time).

Ironically one of the few teams who might have welcomed the lost races at the British team from Cristabella which is still held in Valencia awaiting administrative clearances.

They had hoped to race at the weekend but now that target seems unlikely:

“At the moment it does not seem like it will happen which is frustrating, but we should be able to get things sorted out soon” reported Cristabella’s boat captain Brendan Darrer (IRL).

No wind today only heightened the anxiety among the GP 42’s, eager to make their Audi MedCup racing debut. They are tense because the changes made to the boats, sails and teams are still untested, and everyone is eager to see if their theories seen in simulations will reflect in the reality of speed on the race course. Some teams have changes to their hardware, some to their software, and some to both their quest for speed in this highly-competitive box-rule class.

“We were very much looking forward to racing today,” said Daniel Calero (ESP), owner and team manager of Islas Canarias Puerto Calero. “We’ve always felt strong in light air, and we think the changes we’ve made to the hull, deck layout, and keel will not compromise that but make us fast in stronger breeze as well. But, unfortunately today we have neither.”

Ashore the Audi MedCup Circuit village was visited by 54 youngsters from the local Alicante Maristas School who enjoyed the interactive displays in the Audi MedCup Expo area and seeing the TP52 and GP42 fleets at the dock.

2009 Audi MedCup Circuit City of Alicante Trophy

TP52 Class, overall standings after 1 race
1. Matador (ARG) 2pts
2. Bigamist 7 (POR) 3pts
3. Marazzi Sailing (SUI) 4pts
4. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 4 pts
5. Quantum Racing (USA) 5pts

Maria Torrijo (ESP), Principal Race Officer: “The problem was that we had two conflicting winds, a gradient breeze and a thermal breeze and neither was strong enough to cancel the other out. It is a situation which happens often when there are both sun and cloud cover. We would rather have either sun or clouds.”

Ed Reynolds (USA), project manager Quantum Racing (USA), Audi MedCup champions:
“I think the race officer on this Circuit is one of the best there is. It may be almost a déjà vu from last year. It can be difficult here at this time of year to get the races off, but she (the race officer) is beyond reproach. If she says we are not going racing, then I am in.

“The mood in the Quantum Racing camp is good. Our strength has always been really good boat speed and no risk style of sailing. This type of racing like it was yesterday, it does not always score well in these conditions and so you have to stay on task for the whole season.

“So we are just looking to stay on task for the whole season for 50 races, for 60 races. It is the formula you have to stick to.”

“Yesterday? Well it has been a long time since October, maybe they were a little bit frustrated but I think they were ultimately satisfied what they ended up scoring. They came off the line with an unbelievable start, heading where they wanted to go, you watched three boats get kicked right and round the first mark ahead. It happens enough in the Med and you just have to grin and bear it. They rounded ninth and fought back to a fifth. Everybody on the boat was pretty satisfied with how that went. But sure they would like to get out there in a real true solid breeze and get the races in. They get a little antsy, but it is great group and they are really held in check.”

Audi MedCup

Rolex Fastnet Race Attracts Diverse Fleet

George David's RAMBLER, second boat across the finish line Rolex Fastnet Race 2007. Image copyright ROLEX/Carlo Borlenghi.

by Giles Pearman

Applications for the 2009 Rolex Fastnet opened on 1 January and effectively closed two months later when the 300 cap on entries was reached. Organisers, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, immediately set up a waiting list, which currently stands at seventy confirming the enduring and considerable interest in this classic offshore race that this year starts at noon on Sunday, 9 August from the Royal Yacht Squadron line at Cowes.

As one would expect with so many yachts entered, the fleet is a broad cross-section of the international offshore racing scene, with the smallest yacht (Fore Winds from Poland) at 30ft (9.5m) up to the largest at 100 feet (30.5m). Crews range from the full on professional through the Corinthian racers to those just taking part for the adventure and challenge presented by the 608 nautical miles. Entries have been drawn from near and far. The allure of Rolex Fastnet continues to attract competitors from across Europe, the USA and, even, Hong Kong and Australia.

The highlight within the substantial fleet looks to be the current race record holder - Mike Slade's Farr 100 ICAP Leopard (GBR), which has undergone some surgery since setting a time of 1 day, 20 hours, 18 minutes in 2007; given the right conditions she could well lop more time off the benchmark. Leopard will not be the only 100-footer on the line, Liara the Bill Dixon designed Performance Yachting 100 will be there too. Whilst Liara is performance oriented, she should be no match for a race-prepared Leopard, which looks likely to be cutting a lonely furrow at the head of the fleet unlike 2007 when it took until near the finish to shake off the smaller Rambler. Just behind the big boys will be a much-anticipated battle in the 65 to 75 foot mini-maxi range with the STP65s Rosebud (USA), winner of 2007 Rolex Sydney Hobart, and Luna Rossa (ITA), new this season, set to do battle with Ran (GBR) the 72-foot Judel/Vrolijk design owned by Nicklas Zennstrom of Skype fame.

The 2007 Rolex Fastnet overall winner was the Cookson 50, Chieftain. In this entry zone of 45 feet and up to the mini-maxis, there are number of modern and performance-oriented boats, including two Ker 46s - John Shepherd's Fair Do's VII (GBR) and Piet Vroon's latest Tonnerre de Breskens (NED). Vroon is a former overall race winner, in 2001, the first year of Rolex's partnership with the event. Amongst others, these seasoned campaigners will be up against three Rogers 46s, including past-Commodore David Aisher's Yeoman XXXII and two German competitors, Chris Wuttke's Guts 'n' Glory and Jens Kellinghusen's Varuna.

The 40-45 foot segment looks to be dominated by a two very-different class battles. There are nineteen Class 40s on the list, including Giovanni Soldini's Telecom Italia (ITA), along with ten First 40.7s. The Class 40 specifies a minimum weight of 4,500kg and carries 115 square metres of upwind sail area with 120 sq m of asymetric spinnakers flown from a stayed carbon bowsprit, so for their size these boats are very fast. 40.7s are more cruiser/racers with close to 7,000 kg displacement and only around 70 sq m of upwind sail plan.

Sub-40 foot is equally a mixture of the sleek and fast, slow and stable. Perhaps, most surprisingly is that only one Contessa 32, James Moore's Katisha, is on the competitor roster this year. However, there are plenty of familiar faces including the overall winner of the Rolex Fastnet in 2005, Frenchman Jean Yves Charles and his Nicholson 33 Iromiguy. Iromiguy's victory was the first time a boat under 40-foot boat had won the race in some thirty-years. Also competing is current RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine on the Corby 36, Quokka.

As is tradition the Rolex Fastnet will start in Cowes and finish in Plymouth. There will be a change, though, once the yachts pass the breakwater in Plymouth Sound, with the majority of yachts being berthed in Sutton Harbour in the Barbican area of Plymouth.

The main trophy for overall victory in the Rolex Fastnet is the Fastnet Challenge Cup. In addition, there are more than thirty additional trophies that will be awarded at the prizegiving on Friday, 14 August at the historic Royal Citadel, home of the 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, overlooking Plymouth Harbour.

The first signal for the start of the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race sounds at 1150 BST on Sunday, 9 August.

Royal Ocean Racing Club

VOR: Bekking and Telefonica Blue Strike Gold in Botson; Leg 7 to Galway begins Saturday

Telefonica Blue skipper Bouwe Bekking. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Javier Sobrino

On Saturday 9 May Bouwe Bekking and TELEFONICA BLUE shone brightly, dominating both of the Volvo Ocean Race Boston stopover in-port races to secure first place. This now puts their in-port race record at three wins out of five, and sees Bekking and his crew in strong second position on the overall leaderboard on 68.5 points, a full 3 points ahead of their currently 3rd place rivals, PUMA Ocean Racing.

In spite of a logistical hiccup that saw the Spanish team's container "lost" on its way to Boston, TELEFONICA BLUE's inshore sails arrived at 05.00 the day before the race, a huge relief for the entire crew.

Bouwe described the conditions in Boston as "very tricky and shifty. It is hard to read the breeze as the wind is high up and it is completely different compared to the direction just on the surface. Sometimes there is nearly 50 degrees difference but since there is not much wind on the water it is super flat, and that is something our boat seems to like."

TELEFONICA BLUE has been in Boston since 27 April, the day they arrived in a disappointing 3rd place at the end of Leg 6. But Bouwe and his crew bounced back quickly, opening the gap between them and their closest rivals in 3rd, while inching closer to 1st overall (currently Ericsson 4 with 81 points) thanks to their double in-port win here in Boston.

"Some people say that we are lucky in the in-port races, but I think it all comes down to risk management," said Bouwe, on the day of their win in Boston. "On these boats gambling or taking chances is not a very good option. We had another very solid day, leading at each mark rounding, so we must have done something right."

So what is his secret to winning the in-port races? Bouwe says simply, "We are not slow and we try to make fewer mistakes than the others. Also I know when we have to sail conservatively or when it is time to attack." Of course this experienced 'round the world sailor could not leave it at that and Bouwe adds with a big smile, "it is also a great credit to the crew who kept their heads cool and did good manoeuvres and, of course, a big thanks to the shore crew, who have once again given us a winning boat!"

The rest of the week leading up to the Leg 7 start to Galway this Saturday will include more sailing, sail testing, last minute checking and meetings for TELEFONICA BLUE. Of Boston, Bouwe says he hopes that the city will be staying in the race as a stopover location. Boats are practically within touching distance for race village visitors who have come in great numbers to be a part of this very special event. Race organizers were stunned when crowds of over 20,000 people lined the shores to watch the arrival of the boats for the finish of Leg 6. "Here they have good facilities and it is great for the public to be close to the boats," said Bouwe. "Not to mention that they are very nice people who all know that the race is in town."

With approximately only 15 days of racing left in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, TELEFONICA BLUE is getting ready to fight the battle until the end. There have been some changes onboard for this Leg; helmsman Simon Fisher (SiFi) will be staying ashore while Iker Martinez returns to join his offshore crew following his short break. "We have also brought in some new sails and made a change in bow trim hoping to improve our performance in heavy downwind conditions," said Bouwe. "In all the other conditions I am extremely happy with our performance. The start and the first few days will be light, so on paper we are holding good cards for scoring points, and of course the scoring gate is definitely a key point of the leg."

Leg 7 of the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race will begin this Saturday, 16 May, at 13.00 local time. Low-pressure systems and the Gulf Stream flow will play a strong role in the outcome of this next important offshore Leg. When asked about the challenges that lie ahead in the next Leg, or more specifically TELEFONICA BLUE's planned approach for the next Leg to Galway, Bouwe just says: "bring it on."

Bouwe Bekking
Volvo Ocean Race

Groupama Team Set to Go on Every Front

Groupama 3 off Marseille. Image copyright Claude Almodovar.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

As he'll be taking the helm of the Groupama 3 trimaran on Friday in an attempt to beat the Mediterranean crossing record between Marseilles and Carthage, Franck Cammas has called upon Gildas Philippe to replace him at the helm of the Groupama 40 catamaran in Venice, where the first event in the iShares Cup circuit is being held.

In Brief:
- Code green for Groupama 3 and Franck Cammas' crew - departure from Marseilles scheduled tomorrow morning, in a bid to break the Mediterranean record.
- Gildas Philippe takes the helm of Groupama 40 in the first round of the iShares Cup season in Venice.

Groupama 3 in the starting-blocks:
On weather watch for the past week, Franck Cammas, skipper of Groupama 3, and Sylvain Mondon from Météo France, have just confirmed the presence of a favourable weather window to tackle the Mediterranean crossing record held by Bruno Peyron for the past five years, with a time of 17 hours and 56 minutes on Orange II. Moored in the port of Estaque in Marseilles, Groupama 3 is all set to go and the seven crew are converging on the city to depart for Carthage, some 458 nautical miles away, on Friday morning.

A fast boat and some favourable weather conditions:
"To stand a chance of making the crossing in as fast a time as Bruno Peyron and his crew (an average of 25.53 knots), the weather conditions must be favourable throughout the course, which seems to be the case even though we'll have to make a series of tacks under gennaker and hence sail further. We've optimised Groupama 3 by getting rid of any surplus gear and by sailing with seven crew as opposed to the usual ten. Indeed the duration of the record (17hrs56) enables us to complete the journey in one go, without the need to sleep. Our crew is excellent with, in particular, the arrival of Lionel Lemonchois and Thomas Coville" says Franck Cammas.

Sylvain Mondon explains the weather scenario: "Of particular note on Friday is a change in air flow as the tramontana becomes established. Right from the outset Groupama 3 will head off with the NW'ly breeze in order to benefit from downwind conditions and what will still be calm seas. This air flow must last all the way to Tunisia. It's a very tight gap but it is enough. The wind angle isn't optimal, which means there will be a lot of manoeuvres. Groupama 3 will have to put in a series of tacks. However the wind strength should be sufficient to beat the record. The current routing gives a time of around 16 hrs."

Groupama 3 crew
1) Franck Cammas
2) Frédéric Le Peutrec
3) Stève Ravussin
4) Loïc Le Mignon
5) Ronan Le Goff
6) Lionel Lemonchois
7) Thomas Coville (The skipper of Sodeb'O is currently on stand-by for the Discovery Route record. However, no window is presenting itself so Thomas will be aboard Groupama 3)
On shore: Sylvain Mondon (weather adviser)

The course time, from Marseilles to Carthage: 458 miles
The start line lies abeam of the Pomegues lighthouse located at the exit from the harbour of Marseilles, on the islands of Frioul. The logical route takes you towards the Golfe de Tunis, leaving Corsica and Sardinia to port.
The finish line is positioned abeam of the Ras Quartajamah lighthouse, on Cap Carthage, near Sidi Bou Saïd.

• The trimaran Groupama 3 on stand-by from 6th May to 2nd June 2009 in Marseilles, in the port of Estaque
• The time to beat: 17 hours 56 minutes 33 seconds
• The current record holder: Bruno Peyron aboard the catamaran Orange II on 25th September 2004 (average speed: 25.53 knots)
• The number of nautical miles to cover: 458 miles

During the record
Once the start line is crossed, a detailed cartography will be updated every ten minutes. As such Groupama's 3's position, speed and heading will be accessible on the website

Groupama 40 in Venice for the first round of the iShares Cup 2009 circuit:
With Franck Cammas' service being called upon aboard Groupama 3 for the record attempt, it's Gildas Philippe who'll take the helm of Groupama 40. This sailor from Douarnenez in NW France holds a score of world titles in dinghy sailing and ranked 5th in the Olympic Games in Athens 2004 in the 470, added to which he has already held a position aboard Groupama 2 which dates back to 2005. The possibility of being a replacement arose a considerable while back and as such Gildas and the Groupama 40 team trained together last April in Valencia. In terms of crew cohesion, the guys know each other well and are hence well run in.

Gildas Philippe: "This replacement hasn't been done at a moment's notice. I agreed to replace Franck last winter and I've organised myself so as I could be present if I were needed. As regards the team, we all know each other and have already sailed together a fair amount. As far as the Extreme 40 Groupama is concerned, it's a sports boat that I'm just discovering. Nevertheless, I've sailed quite a lot on a Tornado, which is fairly similar, as well as a 60 foot multihull. As such things should go alright!"

Tanguy Cariou, a fellow crew from Douarnenez, knows Gildas well through having sailed with him on the 470 and having won several prestigious titles with him: "We've chosen Gildas for his unquestionable talent and also because our whole team know and appreciate him. Our aim with him or with Franck at the helm of Groupama 40 is the same: to rank as highly as possible!"

Awaiting the crew of Groupama 40 over the next three days are eight races per day across small scale courses, and an exceptional race zone situated just off Saint Mark's Square. Hostilities begin tomorrow afternoon, Friday.

Groupama 40 crew:
1) Gildas Philippe (Helm)
2) Tanguy Cariou (Tactician and Mainsail Traveller)
3) Thierry Fouchier (Genoa and Mainsail Trimming)
4) Bruno Jeanjean (No.1)

Cammas - Groupama
iShares Cup

Thursday 14 May 2009

VOR: Crew List Leg 7: Boston - Galway

Michel Desjoyeaux helms Il Mostro for the Pro Am race in Boston Harbour, Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

by Sophie Luther

1. Roberto Bermúdez De Castro/ESP – skipper
2. Wouter Verbraak/NED – navigator
3. Sander Pluijm/NED – media crew member
4. Stuart Wilson/NZL – watch captain
5. Nick Bice/AUS – watch captain
6. Andre Fonseca/BRA – helmsman
7. Ben Costello/NZL – helmsman
8. Ed Van Lierde/NED – trimmer
9. David Pella/ESP – trimmer
10. Gerd-Jan Poortman/NED – bowman
11. Morgan White/AUS - bowman
No crew changes

1. Torben Grael/BRA - skipper
2. Jules Salter/GBR - navigator
3. Guy Salter/GBR - MCM
4. Brad Jackson/NZL – watch captain
5. Stu Bannatyne/NZL – watch captain
6. Dave Endean/NZL - pitman
7. Horacio Carabelli/BRA - trimmer
8. Tony Mutter/NZL - trimmer
9. Joao Signorini/BRA - trimmer
10. Ryan Godfrey/AUS - bowman
11. Phil Jameson/NZL – bowman
No crew changes

1. Magnus Olsson/SWE – skipper
2. Aksel Magdahl/NOR - navigator
3. Gustav Morin/SWE MCM
4. Thomas Johansson/FIN – helmsman/trimmer
5. Richard Mason/NZL - watch captain
6. Eivind Melleby/NOR - helmsman
7. Arve Roaas/NOR – trimmer/helmsman
8. Martin Strömberg/SWE – trimmer
9. Jens Dolmer/DEN - pitman
10. Anders Dahlsjö/SWE - bowman
11. Martin Krite/SWE - bowman
On: Arve Roaas/NOR – trimmer/helmsman
Off: Magnus Woxen/SWE – trimmer

1. Ian Walker/GBR - skipper
2. Ian Moore/IRL - navigator
3. Guo Chuan/CHN - MCM
4. Neal McDonald/GBR – watch captain
5. Damian Foxall/IRL – watch captain
6. Anthony Merrington/AUS – helmsman/trimmer
7. Phil Harmer/AUS – helmsman/trimmer
8. Andrew Mclean/NZL – pitman/trimmer
9. Ian Budgen/GBR – helmsman/trimmer
10. Justin Slattery/IRL – bowman
11. Freddy Shanks/GBR - bowman
On: Ian Budgen/GBR – helmsman/trimmer
Off: James Carroll/IRL – pitman/trimmer

1. Ken Read/USA - skipper
2. Andrew Cape/AUS - navigator
3. Rick Deppe/GBR MCM
4. Sidney Gavignet/FRA – watch captain
5. Robert Greenhalgh/GBR – watch captain
6. Robert Salthouse/NZL – helmsman/trimmer
7. Justin Ferris/NZL – helmsman/trimmer
8. Erle Williams/NZL – helmsman/trimmer
9. Shannon Falcone/ANT – bowman/pitman
10. Casey Smith/AUS – bowman/helmsman
11. Michael Müller/GER – helmsman/bowman
No crew changes

1. Bouwe Bekking/NED - skipper
2. Tom Addis/AUS – navigator
3. Gabriele Olivo/ITA – MCM
4. Iker Martinez/ESP - helmsman
5. Jonathan Swain/RSA – watch captain
6. Jordi Calafat ESP – helmsman
7. Xabier Fernandez/ESP - trimmer
8. Pablo Arrarte/ESP Spanish - trimmer
9. Laurent Pages/FRA – trimmer
10. Daryl Wislang/NZL - bowman
11. Pepe Ribes/ESP - bowman
On: Iker Martinez/ESP - helmsman
Off: Simon Fisher/GBR- strategist/helmsman

1. Fernando Echavarri/ESP – skipper
2. Roger Nilson/SWE – navigator
3. Anton Paz/ESP – MCM
4. Antonio (Ñeti) Cuervas-Mons/ESP – bowman
5. Gonzalo Araujo/ESP – watch captain
6. Jaime Arbones/ESP – watch captain
7. Pablo Iglesias/ESP – helmsman
8. Javier de la Plaza/ESP – helmsman
9. David Vera/ESP - trimmer
10. Maciel Cicchetti/ARG – trimmer
11. Michael Pammenter/RSA - bowman
No crew changes

Volvo Ocean Race

Audi MedCup: Marazzi Sailing Penalised 3 Points

Marazzi Sailing are penalised for being over the TP52 Class crew weight limit in Race 1 of the Audi MedCup Circuit

Marazzi Sailing off Alicante. Image copyright Ian Roman 2009/Audi MedCup.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

As a result of being officially measured over the crew weight limit for the TP52 Class by a small margin, Switzerland’s Marazzi Sailing have been penalised three points from their aggregate score, effectively negating their opening race win at the City of Alicante Trophy regatta, the first event of the 2009 Audi MedCup Circuit.

This decision by the International Jury dropped the Swiss team to fourth overall on equal points with Emirates Team New Zealand, and means Argentina’s Matador lead the standings in the TP52 class. The combined crew weight must be less than 1273 kilos.

City of Alicante Trophy, Overall standings after 1 race and
Audi Med Cup Circuit 2009 standings after 1 race

1. Matador (ARG) 2pts
2. Bigamist 7 (POR) 3pts
3. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 4 pts
4. Marazzi Sailing (SUI) 4pts
5. Quantum Racing (USA) 5pts

Audi MedCup