Saturday 20 June 2009

RTI 2009: Extreme 40s - Ainslie Leads down Solent, but Coutts rounds Needles first

The Round the Island race course (anticlockwise from Cowes and back to Cowes), with landmarks mentioned in the reports. Image copyright Round the Island Race.

by Flavia Bateson and SailRaceWin

Light conditions are prevailing for the JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race. In 8 knots of wind, Ben Ainslie on the Extreme 40 JPMorgan Asset Management/TEAMORIGIN was producing a boat speed of 12 knots.

At 0830 BST ICAP Leopard was off Fort Victoria in Hurst Narrows, heading for The Needles. She had a crew member up the mast astride the spreaders checking for the breeze. BT (Open 60 - Sebastien Josse/Ellen MacArthur) continued in second place with Liara (Tony Todd - Performance Yachts 100) third followed by Atomic.

At the Needles, ICAP Leopard rounded first at 0900 BST. Team Aqua, with Russell Coutts on board, was the first Extreme 40 to round.

JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race 2009

RTI 2009: First Report at 0820 British Summer Time

Ben Ainslie, three-times Olympic gold medalist, Paul Bateman, JPMorgan Asset Management Chairman and Mike Sanderson, CEO Team Origin, onboard the Team Origin Extreme 40 on the Solent. Image copyright onEdition.

by Flavia Bateson

And they’re off. The first start of the JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race got away on time at 0730 BST. ICAP Leopard led off the line hoisting her Code Zero straight away. Sebastien Josse and Ellen MacArthur were next in the Open 60 BT with Tony Todd’s Performance Yachts 100 Liara third. The J/133 Jeronimo was doing well on the Island side. Half an hour into the race ICAP Leopard had pulled away into a mile lead passing Newtown Creek.

Of the Extreme 40s JPMorgan Asset Management/TEAMORIGIN held the lead, helmed by Ben Ainslie, followed by Oman Sail. Team Aqua, with Russell Coutts on board, is about 100 metres behind these first two Extreme 40s.

The start sequence continues until 0910. The breeze has picked up from an initial 5 knots to 8 knots north-westerly.

JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race 2009

Russell Coutts and Ben Ainslie to Compete in JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race

Triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie is competing on board the Extreme 40 JPMorgan Asset Management/TEAMORIGIN, while triple America's Cup winner Russell Coutts will be in the same class on board Chris Bake's Team Aqua. Image copyright Patrick Eden.

by Flavia Bateson

The JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, organised by the Island Sailing Club, Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK, is set to go. In just a few hours' time, on Saturday, 20th June, the 1,779 boats entered will race westward round the Isle of Wight providing an amazing spectacle for those watching from the shore.

Commodore of the Island Sailing Club, Bill Pimlott, welcomed competitors to the Cowes-based club for a press conference on Friday 19th June. He described the ethos of the event now as when it first began in 1931 as "a people's race". Grandparents race with their grandchildren, work colleagues and university friends line up with top professional sailors and internationally-renowned skippers.

Triple Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie will be competing on an Extreme 40 for the first time in JPMorgan Asset Management/TEAMORIGIN. He will be up against triple America's Cup winner Russell Coutts on Team Aqua, enjoying his first taste of the event. Early on Friday morning Francis Joyon's ocean-going catamaran Idec sailed into Cowes from France, ready to defend the race record for multihulls which he has held since 2001.

Mike Slade's supermaxi ICAP Leopard is top of the ratings list in IRC Zero. Through crew member Paul Stanbridge, Mike received an unusual challenge, in aid of The Anthony Nolan Trust. Mike Coburn is a sailmaker who prepared the sails for America's Cup Team Shosholoza. He was diagnosed with cancer four years ago. Through the Trust he received a bone marrow transplant and says it is now "pay back time". Whilst Mike Slade races round the Island on water, trying hard to beat the monohull race record by ICAP Leopard in 2008, Mike Coburn will be cycling the same distance on land. ICAP Leopard's time last year was 3 hours 53 minutes 5 seconds but she does depend on wind and tide, whilst Mike Coburn might just have to contend with a light drizzle.

Charity fundraising plays a large part in the race again this year. Four charities have identical Oceanis 37s for the day for the Charity Challenge. Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson will be the skipper on board Challenge The Ellen MacArthur Trust. Shirley said: "The start is the challenging time, searching for clear air with so many other boats around. Once you've got to Gurnard, you can relax a little. We are certainly going to take things seriously but will have the kettle on at some time too."

Singer Jonathan Ansell is the ambassador for Breast Cancer Care. His last experience of sailing was with the Sea Scouts, in a Topper dinghy, at Bognor Regis. "I've never sailed a proper yacht before. It looks enormous! We have eight on our boat two of whom are young mums currently continuing treatment."

Prostate UK is close to Comedian Dave Spikey's heart: His ‘kid brother' Pete died after a long battle with cancer last year, so he tries to help whenever he can. He remembers his last sailing experience only too well: "We were off the French coast and everyone was seasick. In the end there was only one utensil left to use. Have you ever tried to be sick into a frying pan? It doesn't work. Tomorrow I'd better take a pressure cooker."

Sailing for Leuka (leukemia research) this time, Edward Donald has won the Gold Roman Bowl twice. In 2008 his little Folkboat Madelaine also raised the best total for charity and he will be the first recipient of the new Charity Trophy. "We just hope we get back before the fish and chip shop closes. We're never in time for an a la carte. Winning the Gold Roman Bowl, we were back around 7pm. 10 to 12 hours for the race is pretty normal for us. We may be the tortoise of the fleet but we're happy to try and follow in the footsteps of Edward Heath and the Rogers family with a third win."

The meteorologist Chris Tibbs gave a forecast of light winds at the start - possibly 5/10 knots north-westerly with a slight drizzle, increasing to 10/15 knots south of the Isle of Wight, turning W/NW 8/13 knots in the eastern Solent as the afternoon wore on. As the temperature dropped in the evening, so would the wind strength.

The first start is at 0730. Idec and the X40s could well be back in four hours whilst the majority of boats would look to a finish some time during the afternoon. The line stays open for the final finishers until 2230.

JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race 2009

WMRT: Eight Go Through in Portugal

Ian Williams' (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

by Dobbs Davis

After a long day Friday, stretched to the limits of sunset, Round Robin racing has been completed along with three flights of two pairs in the Quarter Final stage of the Troia Portugal Match Cup. Eight teams have advanced to this next stage in the competition out of 12 who came here for a slice of the 50,000 Euro prize money purse at the beautiful Troia Resort.

Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

After a fitful start in the morning and an entire flight of matches abandoned for lack of wind, the westerly seabreeze finally filled to perfect strength, with 8-14 knots available all afternoon to complete the six flights of three matches left in the Round Robin. Emerging from the pack as winner of this stage on the strength of 9 wins was Philippe Presti (FRA) and his French Match Racing Team, though he went 1-1 on the day. His success in this stage was also due to a tie-break with fellow member of the French Match Racing Team Mathieu Richard.

Mathieu Richard (FRA) leads Andrew Arbuzov (RUS). Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

Others advancing to the Quarter-Finals include, in order of finish in the Round Robin, Peter Gilmour (AUS) and the YANMAR Racing Team, Ian Williams (GBR) and his Bahrain Team Pindar, Adam Minoprio (NZL) and his Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch team, Sebastian Col (FRA) and his French Match Racing Team/K Challenge, Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team, and Bjorn Hansen (SWE) and his Team Onboard.

Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

While finishing in 9th place and therefore not advancing to the next stage, its noteworthy to mention the extraordinary efforts put in by Phil Robertson (NZL) and his WAKA Racing team. In his matches against two other young Down Under talents, fellow Kiwi Minoprio and Aussie Mirsky, Robertson was extremely tough, taking both to their limits amidst heated pre-start and mark-rounding action. He and his team got beaten for not having quite that extra polish the others have in having spent the last two years in Tour competition, but his performance today certainly makes him one to watch for the future.

Local hero Alvaro Marinho at the Troia Portugal Match Cup 2009. He finished the round robin in tenth place. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

Quarter-Final pairings will be as follows: Presti vs. Mirsky; Richard vs. Hansen; Gilmour vs. Minoprio; and Col vs. Williams. And as the sun started descending into the Serra Arrabida, three flights of the Quarter-Finals were completed for the Presti-Mirsky and Richard-Hansen matches.

Peter Gilmour and Thierry Doulliard consider potential opponents for the quarter final round. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

With the depth of talent here at this event, it is perhaps of no surprise that the Round Robin winner is already on the ropes, as Presti has lost two to Mirsky in the first-to-three point round. Mirsky showed excellent timing and near-flawless teamwork to win his first two before falling to Presti in the critical third match.

Philippe Presti (FRA) French Match Racing Team. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

Meanwhile it is Richard who has Hansen in a must-win situation for their first encounter tomorrow, having won the first and third matches in this stage. Their matches were particularly contentious, with furious tacking and gybing duels, numerous lead changes, and even a penalty in the first against Richard which he was just barely able to shed on the finish line.

Quarter-Final action resumes Saturday morning at the Troia Portugal Match Cup.

The beautiful nature reserve of Troia, Portugal. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

Round Robin Results (win-loss)
1st Philippe Presti (FRA) French Match Racing Team 9-2
2nd Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 9-2
3rd Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 8-3
4th Ian Williams (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar 7-4
5th Adam Minoprio (NZL) BlackMatch Racing/Emirates Team New Zealand 7-4
6th Sebastien Col (FRA) K-Challenge/French Match Racing Team 6-5
7th Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 6-5
8th Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Team OnBoard 5-6
9th Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing 3-8
10th Alvaro Marinho (POR) Seth Sailing Team 2-9
11th Ian Ainslie (RSA) Team Proximo 2-9
12th Andrew Arbuzov (RUS) 2-9

Tour Standings
(After 3 of 10 events)
1. Adam Minoprio (NZL), ETNZ/BlackMatch 41 points
2. Ben Ainslie, (GBR), Team Origin 40 points
3. Mathieu Richard (FRA), French Team 35 points
4. Ian Williams (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar 34 points
5. Damien Iehl (FRA), French Team 32 points
6. Paolo Cian (ITA), Shosholoza 32 points
7. Peter Gilmour (AUS), YANMAR Racing 23 points
8. Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team 21 points

World Match Racing Tour

WMRT: Young Guns Take on the Old Fox

Mirsky Racing Team in action on Day Three of the Troia Portugal Match Cup. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

by Kinley Fowler

Mirsky Racing Team had a good day on the water today with the completion of the round robin seeing them qualify in 7th place going into the quarter finals.

Mirsky Racing Team (Torvar Mirsky) beat Team OnBoard (Bjorn Hansen) in Portugal. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

The winner of the round robin, veteran America's Cup helmsman of the French Match Racing Team, Philippe Presti chose to race MRT in the best of 5 quarter final series. MRT managaged to go up in the first two races against the French Match Racing Team, showing their flare that had been so sorely missed in the previous two events. In the third race in the dying sea. In the third race the French Match Racing Team convincingly won the start and mantained their lead despite a strong attack from MRT, taking the scores to 2-1 in MRT's favour at the end of the day´s racing.

Tomorrow sees the final races of the quarter finals in which MRT look to qualify for the semi-finals of the Portugal Match Cup.

Mirsky Racing Team
World Match Racing Tour

WMRT: BlackMatch Go Unbeaten on Day 3 and Qualify for Quarterfinals in Portugal

BlackMatch Racing on their way to victory over Round Robin winner Philippe Presti - a good birthday present for Adam Minoprio. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

by David Swete

Today we went unbeaten winning all 3 of our races and qualified for the quarterfinals in 5th position, not a bad birthday present for the BlackMatch skipper Adam Minoprio, who turned 24 today.

We had some very close racing today, including exciting wins against fellow Kiwi Phil Robertson and eventual round robin winner Philippe Presti.

Our race against Philippe saw the birthday boy nail the start, we gained a two boat length lead and were heading to the favoured right hand side of the course as the wind gusted up to 25 knots. The Frenchman did a great job of staying close to us in the blustery conditions, managing to make significant gains down the first run as we both surfed downwind. Nearing the bottom of the run they gained an inside overlap and sailed us past the bottom mark however following the gybe back to the mark and the spinnaker drop we still had the lead and inside rights. The world number 6 then failed to give us room at the bottom mark and was handed a penalty by the umpires while we had a great rounding and sailed defensively for the remainder of the race to seal the win.

The end of the round robin saw an in form Presti finish on top, with fellow Frenchman Mathieu Richard in second and veteran match racer Peter Gilmour in 3rd. Presti had the first choice of who to race in his quarter final match and chose Torvar Mirsky, while Richard chose bottom qualifier Bjorn Hansen. Gilmour was next to choose and in a repeat of Monsoon Cup 2007, he chose us.

The other quarter finals are now underway and will continue until the sun goes down while the sea breeze is pumping, however our match up with Gilmour will not happen until tomorrow due to there only being 6 boats and we are hoping the breeze will kick in again tomorrow.

BlackMatch would like to again thank their sponsors FedEx Express and Line 7 New Zealand. We would also like to thank our yacht club the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team New Zealand.

BlackMatch Racing
World Match Racing Tour

VOR: The Winning Template

Torben Grael. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Riath Al-Samarrai

Torben Grael is reclined on a couch in the Ericsson pavilion, a big smile on his face. He has been repeating the same lines to journalists for over two hours now but he doesn't seem to mind. He is not always like this.

"It's not my favourite part of the job," he says. "It's important. But you have to repeat things maybe five or six times. You know, you can be focused, have things on your mind but you have to go and speak to media. It's a distraction.

"If I am not always in a good mood I apologise for that."

He is not being prickly, just answering a question on how he normally feels about dealing with the press. Today he is in a good mood, just like every day since the mathematics of the leaderboard confirmed he will be holding the Fighting Finish trophy in St Petersburg.

"I feel happy," he continues. "The pressure has gone."

He sits back in his chair, his smile fixed in place. "This is a nice time." He talks about maybe doing just one more Volvo Ocean Race ("I don't want to be like Magnus Olsson and do it every time!"), and is ambiguous about how this win ranks against his five Olympic medals, six world titles and Louis Vuitton Cup triumph ("all achievements are nice, but separate; hard to compare"). He also would like to fill the one notable gap on his incredible CV ("winning the America's Cup would be a fantastic thing"). But the most obvious point from the whole discussion is his calm, peaceful expression.

"I feel good," he repeats. "This has been a good campaign."

Torben is a complex character, difficult to read at times. The team's managing director Richard Brisius, a man who has had a hand in managing two winning projects, talks of "one of the most competitive people I know". And Marcelo Ferreira, his close friend and medal winning partner of nearly 25 years, laughed in Rio when discussing the Brazilian's occasional temper and demands for things to be done right. He also spoke about Torben's dedication to his family and his rarely publicised charity work, but all roads led back to his need for "perfection".

"You can always improve," Torben adds. "This is a good project. It is very satisfying when you take such a big project and it ends well; it makes things worthwhile. That is good, what I like."

The leaderboard makes nice reading for him, with Ericsson 4's five leg wins, two scoring gate wins and two inshore wins helping to make them unassailable.

The reasons why they are in that position are numerous.

To find the cause of Ericsson 4's glory you have to go into the minds, skills and tolerances of the culturally polarised crew; into the workshops and sail lofts; into the passport of Herve LeQuillec; into Joel Rewa-Morgan's gym; through the Ericsson balance sheets and the pile of broken parts collected in Lanzarote before the race began.

It can be neatly summed up by the heading "preparation".

"I think it is probably the most important part of a campaign," Torben says. "Look at Brasil 1 (who he skippered in the last race). We only started sailing two months before the race started. When we started we had never sailed in more than 35 knots: on the first night we had 46 knots. We learnt how to sail the boat during the competition, when we should have learnt about the boat, its limitations and strengths, and the crew before the race."

It's a common thought across the sport. Delta Lloyd skipper Roberto Bermudez thinks that "70%" of winning this race comes down to preparation. There are exceptions that make the rule less solid - Pirates of the Caribbean were last to be launched in 2005-06 yet finished second - but it is generally accepted wisdom that "preparation" is a small abbreviation for a massive topic. And on that score, Torben and his crew have a lot to be thankful for.

Solid finance is a luxury not every team has and Ericsson put more money on the table than any other sponsor and, crucially, they did it sooner. They had announced their two-boat entry in October 2006 (second-placed PUMA would not do the same until May the following year) and so were able to enlist Juan Kouyoumdjian, the designer of the last race's winner, and take first pick from the shore and sailing talent.

More than a year before the race started the team opened their base in Lanzarote and, having bought the all-conquering ABN AMRO ONE yacht and kept the Ericsson boat from the last campaign, started sailing, training and bonding in Autumn 2007. The yacht ultimately sailed by Ericsson 3 was launched in March 2008 (a month and a half before PUMA's il mostro) and Ericsson 4 followed in June, allowing the international crew to make recommendations for their final boat based on first-hand experience, while having an effective barometer of their performance in the new yachts in testing Atlantic conditions.

"We have probably done more yachting on the water than any other team," said Dave Endean, the boat captain. "We learnt a lot from the two boats that we have. Our testing programme in Lanzarote was pretty rigorous; we broke stuff and learnt what they could take and how they could go faster. We had a lot of wind and time and pushed our boats and sails through their paces."

But so did Joel Rewa-Morgan, the team's physiotherapist who spent a year honing the two boats' crews before the race. "We gave a goal to the guys to be between 10% and 12% body fat because we knew they'd be around that mark or less during the race," Rewa-Morgan explained in Rio. "There is no point spending a year training at 16% body fat when you are going to drop to less than 10% in the race. This way their bodies don't suffer wild fluctuations and they can sail harder for longer."

At that time when he was speaking, after leg five, he revealed his team members had each lost an average of two kilos in that stage. A straw poll of other teams indicated five to six kilos was the norm. It doubtless helped enable Torben to so far have the only unchanged crew in this most physically and mentally taxing of events.

The team's logistical operation was also vast. In India shore boss LeQuillec was comfortable while many other teams battled the new stopover environment and its unique challenges. He had found out all he needed to know about the place on four different reconnaissance visits. In context, Telefonica managed one and no one else had been to Cochin at all. "For me it is one of the basic rules of our job: logistics and good planning," LeQuillec said at the time. "It means you can survive and anticipate many of the issues...It all translates onto the water."

Of course, an enormous part of the ability to do that comes down to a level of money which some teams simply cannot contend with. That should not be understated, likewise the enhanced size of their shore operations. But if that set the bar high (Torben claims there was no absolute imperative from the sponsor to win, just a strong desire) Ericsson 4 have cleared it, proving to be more than adept at dealing with crises of their own in the process.

"I have this file on my computer called ‘issues' and there are about 14 big ones," said Brisius. "This race involves a lot of problem management."

They evacuated injured Tony Mutter on the first leg, but then broke the world 24-hour record and won the race into Cape Town. And they successfully defended themselves in a jury hearing in Singapore.

Perhaps one of the biggest issues on that list was John Kostecki. He was appointed skipper in November 2006, but the following August he resigned. Brisius, recalling the search for a replacement, said: "It was important to get a guy who the others respected, who is one of the best in the world. It was a very short list." Torben was appointed, inheriting a crew predominantly made up of New Zealanders. In fact, the only crew members he selected were Horacio Carabelli, Joao Signorini, Jules Salter and Guy Salter, the media crewmember.

Grael says: "It was not ideal. When somebody leaves it creates a lot of uncertainty for everybody. Not good. The first thing I wanted to do was to make as few changes as possible and get the group close together, thinking in the same direction. In the end it was a positive thing, taking skills from the different groups."

"By no means have we all got on all of the time," said Kiwi Stu Bannatyne. "It would be pretty ambitious to expect that."

"We always knew it would be difficult; everyone always says the Kiwi mafia are difficult to get on with," added Endean. "And the South American flavour is a little different to anything we are used to, so we knew it would be difficult, but we were professional. A mix in cultures and ways can be a positive thing because you take the good elements from each. We had a common goal and got on with it."

The net result was a brilliant sailing crew and superb navigation that achieved amazing results despite not having a resounding speed advantage over all rivals in a set condition or point of sail. In fact, six of the nine legs so far have been won by margins of less than 90 minutes. But where other team performances fluctuated, Ericsson 4 were consistent (18 top three spots at 22 scoring opportunities), and they rarely suffered bad damage or bad luck.

"The key to our achievements is a great team and great boats," Brisius said.

Where they possibly did lag, they managed to overcome the challenges.

"We struggled at times in terms of boat performance," Endean added. "We have had weak points. But because our sail programme was so well developed we still had three or four sail cards to play when we got to Boston so we could adapt to any problems, help ourselves go faster in certain areas where we were weaker."

The campaign's intention was, as Brisius said, to "leave no stone unturned, while not spending stupid money".

If they did leave one, it's hard to see where. And Torben's grin and lengthy interviews here in Sweden suggest he is pretty pleased about that.

Volvo Ocean Race

Dee Caffari's British Record Attempt - Day 5

Aviva back on record breaking pace
Day Five: Round Britain and Ireland record attempt

Dee Caffari and Sam Davies. Image copyright Lloyd images.

by Kelly Russell

Dee Caffari and her all female crew have pushed Aviva hard over the past twenty four hours and are now back on the pace required to beat the record for sailing around Britain and Ireland. With a high pressure front waiting to greet them in the English Channel tomorrow, the crew are keen to make as much progress as possible today, while the breeze continues to be favourable.

At 0700 hrs this morning, skipper Dee Caffari commented:
“We have fantastic breeze and are still very much on the pace with 517 miles to go. Today we will cream along the west coast of Ireland and make as much progress as possible before hitting a high pressure in the English Channel tomorrow, which may slow us back down again. We are racing as hard as we can, while we can.

“Spirits are high and there is much hilarity onboard this morning as we have decided that Saturday is Tiz Waz day. Could it be that being wet and dirty all the time just reminds us of the show that surely invented being gunged?”

At 0800 hrs (BST) this morning, Caffari and her all female crew were passing Galway on the West coast of Ireland.

Sam Davies. Image copyright Lloyd images.

Round Britain and Ireland Record Overview
§ Dee Caffari, the British yachtswoman who made history by becoming the first woman to sail solo, non stop both ways around the world, set off at 21:09:36 on Monday 15th June to attempt to break the record for sailing around Britain and Ireland
§ Caffari is joined onboard her racing yacht Aviva by an all female crew, including fellow British yachtswoman and Vendée Globe race rival Samantha Davies, sailor Miranda Merron and boat captain Alex Sizer
§ The current outright record stands at 7 days 4 hours and was set in May 2004 onboard Solune
§ Another record in their sights is for an all female crew, which stands at 10 days and 16 hours recorded by Samantha Davies and her crew onboard Roxy in June 2007
§ The route is almost 2500 nautical miles around the British coastline

Aviva Ocean Racing

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG NINE DAY 6 QFB: received 19.06.09 1248 GMT

Telefonica Blue, passing through Copenhagen, on leg 9 from Marstrand to Stockholm. Image copyright Gabri Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Bouwe Bekking (skipper)

Finally, we have finished, but not easy. Five miles out, absolutely no breeze for a couple of minutes.

No cheers, no handshakes, as soon we crossed the line. We know we had an absolute shocker and have given a better podium place away. On personal note, this was the leg I have been looking forward to so much: sailing through home waters, going around a lot of corners, a leg, which suited us well on paper, but the opposite, happened.

Now we will focus on the inshore, where we have the best track record by far, and then it will sweet to finish on top in St Petersburg.

We have picked up some family members, who will sail with us through this nice area back into Stockholm; I know they will enjoy it.

Laurent Pages with the Oresund bridge on the background, on leg 9 from Marstrand to Stockholm. Image copyright Gabri Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Gabri Olivo

We just crossed the finish line of this ninth leg from Marstrand to Stockholm. I have to admit that the mood on board is not the greatest. Knowing that all your competitors have already finished, makes it very hard for everyone sailing the boat back with no one to sail against.

Since we left, there was not much talking going on; everyone was pretty much into his own world, dealing with his theoretical philosophy of looking at what happened. We didn't talk much about it and it's over now.

What everyone is really in to and really keen on is winning the in-port and the next leg. This is the only way to finish this race on a decent note. There is a lot of talent onboard as well as lot of pride. We're a team and, as such, we want to show it to everyone. We will be back on the water as strong as never before, this is a must.

The good thing is that some of the wives and girlfriends have just joined us onboard for the trip to Stockholm, a good chance to have a little ‘family sail’ on a Volvo 70.

Tomorrow is another day.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG NINE DAY 6 QFB; received 19.06.09 0838 GMT

Telefonica Blue passing Hamlet Castle, Denmark, on leg 9 from Marstrand to Stockholm. Image copyright Gabri Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Bouwe Bekking (skipper)

We have been teasing Daryl Wislang over the last 24 hours. Why, because he is the only one of the crew sailing the boat back to Spain after the race is finished.

We told him the wind is always comes from this direction, and most of the time with more pressure and that the current is most likely to change direction as well, so that it is against them. This will mean a slow beat all the way to Kiel. Talking about the current, we have been dodging current against us all the way, in some places it was running over three knots, but luckily we have kept some breeze, so progress has been ok.

Telefonica Blue passing Helsingor, Denmark, on leg 9 from Marstrand to Stockholm. Image copyright Gabri Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

On Saturday, we will most likely lift the boat quickly out of the water, to have a good look at the repair we did and to adjust the rollers on the canard, as it is running a bit stiff. Our inshore grinders have prepared the sails already for the inshore on Sunday, so most of our guys will have a day off.

There is no time to have a sail in the area where we do the inshore race on Sunday, but I am not too worried about that. I have been sailing a lot on lakes, and know what to expect. It will be very shifty and puffy, and scenarios where one minute you look good and the next minute your position might look terrible will appear. So we start with a clean sheet of paper, and try keep our track record of podium places going, of course the best will be winning the last one.

33 miles to go to Almagrundet, the lighthouse where we turn the corner into the finish. Let’s hope we keep the wind pressure, to get this horrible leg over as quick as possible!

Volvo Ocean Race

WMRT: Black Day for BlackMatch

BlackMatch Racing, and some members of Bahrain Team Pindar, relaxing in Portugal. Image copyright Wander Roberto.

by David Swete

Still very much in the hunt with a scorecard of 4 wins and 4 losses, it was an interesting second day of racing which saw us given a ‘Black Flag’ disqualification at the hands of the World Champion, Ian Williams.

It was yet another extremely light and shifty day here in Portugal where the race committee struggled to get a mere 6 races away. We were involved in 3 races and could only manage one win against Swedish sailor Bjorn Hansen, while we lost narrowly to Mathieu Richard and of course suffered a bad loss to Ian Williams.

In a seemingly standard pre-start where we felt like we were in control and pushing the Brit early toward the start line, we just got a little too close and were handed our first penalty. Following this incident we then failed to keep clear as they tacked onto starboard which meant we were handed a second penalty to be taken immediately after the start. After crossing the start line we then attempted to build speed before undertaking our penalty and the umpires rightfully deemed that we took too long, this resulted in a third penalty and a disqualification.

The other Kiwi team, WAKA Racing, competing at the Troia Portugal Match Cup 2009. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

It wasn’t an ideal day for us today but despite the tough start to this event we are still very much in the competition and tomorrow we have three important matches to see if we will proceed through to the final 8. Our remaining matches are against fellow Kiwi Phil Robertson, local hope Alvaro Marinho and an in-form Philippe Presti.

BlackMatch would like to again thank their sponsors FedEx Express and Line 7 New Zealand, these two world renowned companies have stood by us and made this possible. We would also like to thank our yacht club the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team New Zealand, as without their support we would not have this opportunity.

BlackMatch Racing
World Match Racing Tour

WMRT: MRT Still in the Hunt

Mirsky Racing Team at the Portugal Match Cup. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

by Kinley Fowler

Day two of the Portugal Match Cup saw competitors face long delays and trying conidtions. Mirsky Racing Team sits with 4 wins and 4 losses with 3 races left in the round before the quarter final stage.

A 10am scheduled start was quite optimistic by the race committee as the first race was sent off in light conditions where MRT was defeated by Team French Spirit (Matthieu Richard).

With the dying breeze competitors were sent ashore and did not return to the water until the afernoon when the late sea breeze settled in.

The afternoon saw some close racing for MRT where they were narrowly beaten by the French Match Racing Team (Philippe Presti). 'we made a slight mistake on the line and gave them a small advantage on the one way track, we sailed well to finish half a length behind him but just couldn't get those last few metres' said MRT's Graeme Spence.

The final race MRT comfortably defeated the local Seth Sailing Team (Alvaro Marinho) to finish off the day.

With 3 races remaining MRT is looking forward to a strong perfomance in the business end of the regatta.

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

Mirsky Racing Team
World Match Racing Tour

WMRT: Presti Takes the Lead in Portugal

French Match Racing Team dominates three of top four teams with Round Robin nearly complete

The ISAF #1, Seb Col (K-Challenge/French Match Racing Team), leads last year's World Tour Champion, Ian Williams (Bahrain Team Pindar) downwind in Portugal. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

by Dobbs Davis

The French have come on strong here in Day Two action at the Troia Portugal Match Cup, as Philippe Presti, Sebastian Col, and Mathieu Richard of the French Match Racing Team all sharing in the top four places along with yesterday’s day-end leader Peter Gilmour (AUS) and his YANMAR Racing Team. Presti, on 8 wins, leads the field with just few flights remaining in the Round Robin competition.

Not only by being two points clear, but in also having beat his closest rivals Gilmour, Col, and Richard, Presti is in a comfortable position to advance as the top seed into the next Quarter-Final stage of the competition. But he does have the current Tour leader, Adam Minoprio (NZL) and his Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch team, and Andrew Arbuzov (RUS) to play tomorrow morning when competition resumes.

Philippe Presti's French Match Racing Team in Portugal. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

“We sailed well today, the team did great,” said Presti of his undefeated record on the day. “We just hope to keep up this momentum for the rest of the week.”

Presti and his team had to master a variety of conditions today, ranging from a light offshore breeze in the morning, followed by a long hiatus of no wind, then building to a brisk seabreeze in the afternoon, and then finally moderating to a shifty westerly which died with the setting sun. Another important factor on the race courses here in Troia is the tide, which at times has been up to 2 knots in strength and can have a considerable effect on laylines to starting and rounding marks.

But it was the fresh seabreeze and not the tide that produced considerable excitement in one of Presti’s closest matches of the day, that against Gilmour. With Gilly closing in from less than a length behind on the last downwind leg to the finish, Presti gybed to starboard to defend, with Gilly gybing to windward. With Gilmour threatening now to roll over him to take the lead, Presti luffed hard, making contact with Gilly as boats heeled, spinnakers flogged, and penalty flags flew.

Peter Gilmour (YANMAR Racing, AUS) pulled up on day two of the Troia Portugal Match Cup. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

Presti’s team were unable to gather their spinnaker into the boat, so in running over it they slowed enough to allow Gilly to roll over the top and into the lead with just metres left to the finish line. But with an outstanding penalty turn to perform, the YANMAR team had to drop their kite, hoist their jib, cross the finish line but then head up into the wind and tack before being eligible to finish, and the French were able to just get there in time to take the win.

When asked about this match, an understated Presti claimed “It was quite funny, this one.” His exhausted crew may have felt otherwise, but this latest recipient of a Tour Card is certainly on a roll for now and will look to continue his winning ways when Round Robin racing resumes early tomorrow followed by the Quarter Final Stage in Day Three of the Troia Portugal Match Cup.

Phil Robertson (Waka Racing, NZL) concentrates hard at the wheel of the SM40 in Portugal. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

Results from Day 1
Philippe Presti, FRA, French Team 8-1
Sebastien Col, FRA, French Team/K-Challenge 6-3
Peter Gilmour, AUS, YANMAR Racing 6-1
Mathieu Richard, FRA, French Match Racing Team 5-1
Ian Williams, GBR, Bahrain Team Pindar 5-3
Torvar Mirsky, AUS, Mirsky Racing 4-4
Adam Minoprio, NZL, ETNZ/BlackMatch 4-4
Bjorn Hansen, SWE, Team Onboard, 3-4
Phil Robertson, WAKA Racing, 3-6
Andrew Arbuzov, RUS, 2-5
Ian Ainslie, RSA, Team Proximo, 1-8
Alvaro Mourinho, POR, Seth Sailing Team, 0-7

Tour Standings
(After 3 of 10 events)
1. Adam Minoprio (NZL), ETNZ/BlackMatch 41 points
2. Ben Ainslie, (GBR), Team Origin 40 points
3. Mathieu Richard (FRA), French Team 35 points
4. Ian Williams (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar 34 points
5. Damien Iehl (FRA), French Team 32 points
6. Paolo Cian (ITA), Shosholoza 32 points
7. Peter Gilmour (AUS), YANMAR Racing 23 points
8. Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team 21 points

World Match Racing Tour

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG NINE DAY 5 QFB: received 18.06.09 0947 GMT

Telefonica Blue blasting through Oresund between Denmark and Sweden. Approximate speed: 18-20 knots when hit by strong wind. Image copyright Joakim Rechnitzer/

by Bouwe Bekking (skipper)

What should have been the leg for which I had high hopes and with some very close racing, has turned into a ‘cruise’.

We left Marstrand last night around 2100, and yes, the wind was coming exactly from the direction where we had to go. So several tacks were necessary. It was freezing cold, raining hard and 25-30 knots of breeze. Of course, some nasty comments were made about my home country Denmark and its beautiful weather.

But since we hit the small gap at Helsingor, the breeze has swung around to the west and we are ripping off the miles. A couple of boats have come out, and we have seen lots of familiar faces. No close race, but at least they get some good pictures.

Telefonica Blue blasting through Oresund between Denmark and Sweden. Approximate speed: 18-20 knots when hit by strong wind. Image copyright Joakim Rechnitzer/

It is very quiet onboard, not much talking is going on, and everybody is trying to catch as much as sleep as possible. SiFi (Simon Fisher – navigator) and I don’t have a bunk for this leg, as we had taken that one off before the leg start, as we expected no sleep at all. During our forced stop, we were not allowed to bring anything back onboard, so we are laying in our foulies on a spinnaker downstairs, but since the spinnaker is dry, it is actually very comfortable.

We are now next to Copenhagen airport, so a different view of the water, as normally I am flying over this area. Having 22 knots of breeze, hopefully we keep it for another day, as that will mean an early afternoon arrival in Sandhamn.

Volvo Ocean Race

Thursday 18 June 2009

VOR: PUMA's (Big) Puss in Boots

PUMA's mascot - their big cat. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

by SailRaceWin

PUMA's mascot - their big cat - took part, as crew on il mostro, in the 'City Sprint' into Stockholm, and then indulged in some pranks up the mast... all of which rather suggests the name of the person behind their (big) puss in boots.

PUMA racing in the 'City Sprint' into Stockholm. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

PUMA racing in the 'City Sprint' into Stockholm. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

PUMA racing in the 'City Sprint' into Stockholm. The big cat has a go at grinding. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

PUMA racing in the 'City Sprint' into Stockholm. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

PUMA racing in the 'City Sprint' into Stockholm. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

PUMA's mascot indulges in pranks up the mast. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

PUMA's mascot indulges in pranks up the mast. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

PUMA's mascot indulges in pranks up the mast. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

Big cat on deck in dock. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

The Volvo Open 70s in dock on Sweden's west coast, and PUMA's big cat mascot continues to indulge in pranks up the mast... Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

Australian 18 foot Skiffs: 2009-2010 Race Programme

Australian 18 foot skiff. Image copyright Ian Roman.

Australian 18 Footers League 2009-2010 programme from Frank Quealey

11th 3b Alf Beashel Trophy
18th 3b Life Members Trophy
25th Club Championship – Race 1

1st 3b Mick Scully Trophy
8th NSW Championship – Race 1
15th NSW Championship – Race 2
22th NSW Championship – Race 3
29th NSW Championship – Race 4

6th NSW Championship – Race 5
13th 3b Syd Barnett Jr. Memorial trophy
20th No Race
27th No Race

3rd No Race
10th Australian Championship – Race 1
17th Australian Championship – Race 2
24th Australian Championship – Race 3
26th Australian Championship – Race 4
31st Australian Championship – Race 5

5th 3b Twilight Race
7th Club Championship

12th Giltinan Championship – Invitation Race
13th Giltinan Championship – Race 1
George Calligeros Trophy
14th Giltinan Championship – Race 2
16th Giltinan Championship – Race 3
17th Giltinan Championship – Race 4
18th Giltinan Championship – Race 5
20th Giltinan Championship – Race 6
21st Giltinan Championship – Race 7

28th Club Championship

7th 3b Ferry Patrons Memorial trophy
14th Club Championship
21st 3b Queen of the Harbour
28th Club Championship

Australian 18 Footers League

VOR: PUMA - What's a Shore Base?

Chris Hill. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

by Chris Hill (boatbuilder, PUMA Ocean Racing)

30 odd years ago, when the Volvo Ocean Race was the Whitbread Round the World Race, there were no shore teams. There was no one on-call 24 hours a day and the sailors carried the spares they needed onboard, doing most of the maintenance and repairs themselves. These days thing have changed a little....

PUMA Ocean Racing has a shore team that outnumbers the crew sailing the boat by almost 2:1, plus two sets of five 40 ft shipping containers that leapfrog from port to port ahead of the boat. These containers make up our workshop, sail loft, offices and storage for the duration off each stopover. The containers also carry all of the vital spare parts, tools and supplies which we need to repair and maintain the boat.

They have everything to fix anything from mechanical problems to damaged paint work to full on structural repairs. We have to perform all the repairs using only what we carry with us or what we can find locally. This can present quite a few challenges given that just about everything we use is custom-made or very hard to find. Try going down to the local hardware or chandlery and asking for some M12 countersunk allen head titanium bolts, some carbon fiber cloth and some structural rubber toughened epoxy resin. Then try to explain that you need them in 48 hours when sometimes you have trouble even finding someone who speaks English!!!

Most of shore team arrives in port around three days before the boat is due to arrive, with the containers already unloaded and positioned to form the walls of the shore base. Our team goes to work unloading everything from the containers to erecting the tents between the containers (which are the sail loft and boatbuilding workshop). Once the tents are just about done everyone starts to branch off into their own respective areas. With Stockholm being the last stopover of the race, we have already done this whole process ten times before and everyone knows their role.

The sail makers Scoob, Tom and Matt, with help from the team physio Santi, build the sail loft floor and get their sewing machines up and running. The riggers Wilbur and Frano set up their rigging workshop, make sure all the tents are finished off and secured (we have seen 50 knot winds and heavy rain during some of the stopovers!) Tara and Sandy who look after the logistics for the team set up their office in the container which is used to transport our RIB (chase boat). Boat builders Ties, Spider, Mark and I set up our workshop and build the cradle which will hold the boat while it is out of the water being worked on. Jess and Fiona, the team chefs, set up their kitchen in a rented 20 ft container. Nick the nipper and RIB driver launches the RIB. He and Coxy (Neil Cox) the shore team manager will check the depth of the water at the dock and anywhere the boat might end up while entering and leaving the dock area.

Some of the fleet has had problems running aground during previous stopovers and that would be a problem that we don't need. Sean and Mark, the electrician and mechanic, connect power to the base and also shore power at the dock and at the cradle for the boat when it arrives and make sure the chefs have running water and drainage in the kitchen. By this stage things are starting to look finished and anyone who has already completed their own jobs jumps in to help others. Apart from a bit of tidying up and making sure everything is in its place the shore base is then finished. If we have a bit of time up our sleeves we may start preparing anything we can to fix any damage the sailing team has told us about before they arrive. If we are lucky, maybe we'll one last day off to rest and check out the local area before the boat arrives and its game on!

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Ericsson 3 Savours 'City Sprint' Victory

The City Sprint from Sandhamn, the finish line of leg 9, to the city of Stockholm. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Volvo Ocean Race media

Magnus Olsson's Ericsson 3 team sailed past their teammates on Ericsson 4 on Wednesday afternoon to claim top honours in the Stockholm 'City Sprint'.

The City Sprint from Sandhamn, the finish line of leg 9, to the city of Stockholm. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

The fun race format added a bit of spice to the delivery trip from the leg 9 finish line at Sandhamn to the race village in Stockholm. Although no points were at stake, the teams sailed with their regular crews on board for the 12 mile race.

The City Sprint from Sandhamn, the finish line of leg 9, to the city of Stockholm. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Sunny afternoon weather provided the perfect excuse for thousands in Stockholm to play hooky from work to take in the action. The race course, which twisted and turned through the narrow waters between the islands off Stockholm, was filled with spectator boats. As was the shoreline around the city. It was all too much for Magnus Olsson.

Telefonica Black during the 'City Sprint' race to Stockholm. Image copyright Maria Muria/Equipo Telefonica.

"Did you see all the people everywhere?" he asked after the race. "There were thousands - millions - 10 million people watching!! I think you cannot have better propaganda for sailing. Lots of boats around us and everybody behaved very well.

"It was fantastic. I think we did a good show for what sailing in these boats is all about. I think everybody did a good race and it was very close. Even if it is a fun race, you want to win. That's how we work. I cannot help but to want to win all the time."

Prince Carl Philip of Sweden joins race winners Ericsson 4 for the City Sprint from Sandhamn, the finish line of leg 9, to the city of Stockholm. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

In the event, the racing - even if it was just for fun - turned out to be very, very close. Ericsson 3 nipped Ericsson 4, with Telefonica Black just ahead of Delta Lloyd, PUMA and Green Dragon.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: It Ain't Over 'til It's Over

PUMA powers along under gennaker after the start of Leg 9 from Marstrand. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Riath Al-Samarrai

“No way is this in the bag.” With those words Ken Read insisted his PUMA team will take nothing for granted in the apparently one-sided battle for second with Telefonica Blue.

Read’s men would appear to have all the reasons in the world to feel comfortable, sitting on a nine-point lead that will fall to a hefty seven when Blue finish leg nine.

Bouwe Bekking, on the other hand, admitted in the immediate aftermath of running aground that “most likely second place is gone”, given that Blue have just one in-port race and a single leg to make up the deficit.

But if Read does feel secure, he is giving no indication.

“You don’t make it all the way around the world, smashing into rocks and going through all the stuff that the fleet have been through without having a lot of guts and a lot of fortitude,” he said.

“It was a huge shame what happened to them. We are really happy that everybody is healthy, that nobody got hurt. From what we have been told they are going to be back over here for the day races and they are mathematically not out of it by any means. We still have a battle on our hands.”

The next stage of Blue’s battle begins at 1700 local time tonight, when they intend to leave Marstrand for Stockholm. It would appear to put them ahead of the schedule Bekking disclosed yesterday, when he said they planned to leave Thursday morning with a Saturday morning arrival on the cards.

Read used the Blue incident, whereby they smashed into rocks and suffered substantial damage shortly after the leg start, to illustrate that anything could still happen on the final leg to St Petersburg.

“You can’t underestimate the unpredictability of this race,” he said. “There are containers, whales, who knows? And the fluky nature of sailing up a river; you could be parked for a day and a half while everyone sails away. You never know.

“All of a sudden they are the underdog. We kind of played that underdog spoiler role up until now: ‘Oh I can’t believe PUMA’s hanging in there with the big boys, Telefonica and Ericsson’. All of a sudden we have a bit of a lead and the roles change. I’m sure they will play that underdog role pretty well, you know ‘woe is us, no way we can be second’. I’ve got his speech written because I’ve been preaching it myself for about six months.

“Long story short, no way is this is in the bag.”

Despite the tension over places, Bekking revealed the good sportsmanship of his rivals in helping them through the ordeal.

“Special thanks also goes to Kimo (Worthington), Coxi (Neil Cox), Shaun (Healey) and Will (Oxley) from the PUMA team, who were out on a chase boat and did not leave our side until were we back in the harbour, even taking over the towing ropes to the big vessel,” he said. “Thank you guys. We are in direct competition for 2nd place overall with your team, but you showed great sportsmanship and friendship by helping us. PUMA was not the only the only team standing by us. Richard Brisius, of Ericsson, got in contact with our CEO Pedro Campos straightaway and offered the use of their work container, with all its boat building equipment. This has been handy as you can imagine.”

On the race track, PUMA certainly have cause to feel confident, not least because of their recent form. They were second into Galway, where they then won the in-port race, and took another second into Marstrand before winning leg nine.

Read said: “The good news is we are sailing well. We have done what a typical good single boat programme does, which is get better through the race. A two-boat programme has the opportunity to evaluate everything before one of these races start. A single boat programme has to do a tonne of evaluation early on. You could see in Paul Cayard’s (Pirates of the Caribbean) programme last time and Torben Grael’s (Brasil 1), they got better and better as they went along.

“A good single-boat programme has to hope like crazy that they can catch up before it is too late. In respect to E4 we couldn’t, but hopefully with everyone else we have done our homework and we are tough to beat.”

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG NINE DAY 4 QFB: received 17.06.09 2002 GMT

Telefonica Blue makes her way up the first beat on leaving Marstrand for Stockholm the first time around last weekend. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Gabri Olivo

Back on the water.

After just two and half days after we the hit the rock, we are finally back on the water. The repair has been completed in an extraordinarily short time and the shore crew did a fantastic job. There are not enough words or beers that we can buy to compensate the efforts that they made. Thanks guys. And thanks to the Ericsson Racing Team for letting us the work container, it has been very handy. Thanks to the people that have been helping us, thanks to the lady that works in the shop just next to where we hauled the boat for preparing the coffee twice a day and giving it to us as a present... Thank you from all the crew.

Stockholm here we come.

Note from SailRaceWin: Telefonica Blue resumed racing at 1916 GMT on Wednesday, 17th June 2009, on Leg 9, to Stockholm.

Volvo Ocean Race