Saturday 11 July 2009

Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship 2009 – Runners and Riders

Volvo ISAF Youth Worlds 2009 Opening Ceremony in Brazil. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Sophie Luther

The world’s top young sailing talent is gathered in Buzios, Brazil for start of racing at the 39th Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship on Saturday 11 July – take a look at the formbook before racing gets underway.

The Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, open to competitors who do not exceed the age of 18 during the calendar year of the event, represents the undisputed pinnacle of youth sailing. Entry is restricted to one boat per nation, per event, so the sailors have already had to win through their national qualification series to earn their place in Brazil. The competition takes place across seven events and running parallel to this is the Volvo Trophy, awarded to the top-performing nation at the championship.

So just who are the crews expected to challenge for the title over the coming seven days? The Youth Worlds always throws up plenty of surprises, but nevertheless here’s our guide to the formbook looking ahead to the start of racing.

Runners and Riders

Two of last year’s champions will defend their titles in Buzios this year. The first of these is the French Multihull team formed of brothers Romain and Valentin Bellet. The Bellet’s won last year’s title in the Sirena SL16, but face a different challenge this time around with competition held in the ever-popular Hobie 16. In fact so popular is the Open Multihull event this year, the equipment supplier Hobie Cat had to ship in extra boats to accommodate the record entry.

“It’s definitely exciting,” says skipper Romain, who, despite the increased competition, has just one goal in mind, “Last year we won and we want to win again this year! It’s very different as last year was in the SL16 and this year it’s in the Hobie 16 so it’s a new challenge. We started training in the Hobie 16 in January and it’s a very different boat.”

Lining up against the Bellet brothers the African challenge looks particularly strong this year. Matthew Whitehead (RSA) won silver at the helm of the South African multihull last year aged just 16 and returns again in 2009 with new crew Calene Loubser (RSA). Meanwhile, Stewart Walker and David Thomas (BOT) are the first Botswana sailors to ever compete at the Youth Worlds. Another team to keep an eye on is that of Australian cousins Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin. Gastón Cheb Terrab (ARG), silver medallists at last year’s Youth Worlds in the 29er, teams up with Pedro Kocourek (ARG) to form the first multihull team to represent Argentina at the Youth Worlds.

The Boy’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial event has the huge entry this year, with over 50 nations represented in the fleet. Last year Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus dominated the competition to become the first sailor to win the Laser title twice (to put that into perspective both Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Russell Coutts (NZL) won one gold and one silver in the Laser competition), but now the Cypriot falls outside the age range for the championship and the field again looks wide open.

In the Girl’s Laser Radial event, the winner of the past two editions, Gabrielle King (AUS), also made her final Youth Worlds appearance in Århus last July. Isabella Bertold (CAN), Heidi Tenkanen (FIN) and Elizabeth Yin (SIN) all return to the Youth Worlds this year aiming to build on impressive finishes last time out in Denmark.

Following on from 2008, where the 29er was equipment for the Boy’s and Girl’s Two Person Dinghy events, in Brazil this year the 420 returns to the Youth Worlds fold (next year’s competition in Turkey will feature Boy’s and Girl’s 420 racing and an Open 29er event). A couple of famous sailing families will be represented in the Two Person Dinghy fleets.

Martine Soffiatti Grael, daughter of Torben Grael, helms the Brazilian 420 boat. Along with crew Kahena Kunze she is amongst the favourites for gold. David Gilmour (AUS) is another famous sailing sibling in the Boy’s 420 fleet. Gilmour, the son of match racing legend Peter Gilmour (AUS), and competing here with James Omay in the Australian 420, is full of enthusiasm ahead of the start of racing. “It’s been some much fun. It’s the best regatta I’ve done,” he says. Asked about his famous father he says he’s a handy source of advice, “He gives me a lot more help, than, I guess, other people get”, although admitted that recent tips had been a little thin on the ground as Gilmour senior has been away competing on the World Match Racing Tour.

Another 420 team to keep an eye on are Philip Sparks and Ben Gratton of Great Britain, who won the recent 420 event at Kieler Woche. Singapore has a great record in the 420 events, and after narrowly missing out on the medals last year in Denmark will be aiming for a return to the podium this time around. Justin Liu and Sherman Cheng (SIN) are Singapore representatives in the Boy’s event with Griselda Khng and Cecilia Low (SIN) looking to build on a strong showing last year at Denmark in the Girl’s event.

The second of the 2008 champions defending their title in Brazil this year is Michalis Malekkides (CYP) in the Boy’s Windsurfer - RS:X. Malekkides excelled in the windy Bay of Århus last year and will be hoping for a repeat performance as he sets about his title defence in Buzios.

“I will fight as hard as I can and in the end the best sailor will win. My aim of course to win, but I know it’s not easy as there are a lot of good sailors here,” he says. However Malekkides conceded the conditions are not exactly to his liking, “There’s a lot of big waves which will be difficult more me because in Cyprus I practice on flat water. But I think I can do well.”

Germany’s Oliver-Tom Schliemann is sure to be amongst the Cypriot’s principal challengers this time around as is Brazil’s Jorge Renato, a protégée of a sailing scheme put in place by Buizos local, double Youth Worlds Champion and 2007 ISAF Sailing World Champion Ricardo Santos (BRA). Another name to look out for is Jacek Piasecki (POL), the latest star to emerge from the fruitful Polish windsurfing team.

Similarly, Agnieszka Bilska (POL) looks set to be amongst the leading challengers in the Girl’s Windsurfer – RS:X event. Hong Kong’s Hei Man Chan has an impressive track record coming into the event, whilst Catherine Fogli (ITA) takes over the Italian mantle from five-time medallist Laura Linares (ITA).

The forecast is for excellent sailing conditions, with winds in the 10-15 knot range and plenty of sunshine. Today, Practice Races were held across all seven events.

One of the enduring attractions of the Youth Worlds is its sheer unpredictability. As the championship grows from year to year, the depth of talent is increasing and it’s now harder than ever to win medals. Duncan Trustwell, one of the coaches from the British team defending the Volvo Trophy summed it up, “This regatta’s always pretty interesting in that you never really know who’s going to turn up and how they’re going to get on.”

The Opening Ceremony of the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship takes place in Buzios tonight, followed by the start of racing on Saturday 11 July. Two races are scheduled across all seven events giving the young stars here in Brazil an early opportunity to make their mark.

Volvo ISAF Youth Worlds

Transpac: Alfa Romeo Update

Helicopter shot of Alfa Romeo during the Transpac. Image copyright Sharon Green/Ulimate Sailing.

by Lynn Fitzpatrick

The most recent update puts Alfa Romeo approximately 150 nautical miles out from Transpac 09's Diamond Head Light finish line. The pace has slowed, but the boat is still hauling the mail at over 15 knots. The Aloha reception crews at Waikiki Yacht Club and throughout Honolulu are making preparations for the team's arrival. It looks as if the Jimmy Buffett burgers will be hitting the right spot in the freezed-dried food-fueled crew sometime early in the morning HST (Hawaii Standard Time).

This from Murray Spence on July 9th:

"The Trade wind conditions continue and the wind has veered enough for us to set our first asymmetric spinnaker, the code 2. We had a good run during the night and despite having to back down once to remove debris from the rudder we managed a day's run of 420 nm.

"The Volvo guys on board are saying that this sailing is their reward for toughing it out around the world. This sailing is definitely a long way from sailing upwind in 45 kts with 3-degree temperature."

Transpac Race

Transpac Race: Alfa Romeo Poised for Transpac Record

by Lynn Fitzpatrick

Neville Crichton's Alfa Romeo is on track to break one record and keep us holding our breaths right down to the last second. After knocking out couple of 400-nautical mile days since departing Los Angeles, Alfa Romeo's pace slowed a bit on July 9th and she posted an awesome 391-nautical-mile day. The 0600 position report shows Alfa Romeo within 367 nautical miles of Hawaii and the 20-knot easterly winds and two to three meter seas stretch between her and her Diamond Head destination. She is less than a day away. Her ETA according to the 0600 position report is 04:17 am PDT, or 01:17 am HST. Everyone is routing for perfectly executed maneuvers from the 16-member crew.

Alfa Romeo, the 100-foot Reichel Pugh, owned by Neville Crichton, is poised to be the first boat ever to collect the Merlin Trophy, for the RSS 51 and 52 waiver yachts (exempt from the Racing Rules of Sailing limitations on moveable ballast and/or stored power) up to 100 feet with the shortest elapsed time. These boats are ineligible for the Barn Door Trophy, which leaves the Barn Door wide open to boats that are fully compliant with RRS 51 and 52.

Alfa Romeo is also set to become the tenth boat in the history of the Transpac, the most enduring and greatest ocean race in the world, to have its name on the Clock Trophy. If all goes according to plan, Crichton will participate in a recent Transpac ritual in which he will join the likes of Roy E. Disney and Hasso Plattner in turning back the dials on the face of the Clock Trophy to indicate the elapsed time record set in 2009.

A few boats are battling to lay claims on the coveted Barn Door trophy for the fastest elapsed time recorded by a traditionally ballasted monohull. Akela is holding on to the lead and the TP52's, Samba Pa Ti and Flash, are trying to reel her in.

Flash has kept its clutches on the King Kalakaua Trophy for yet another 24-hour period. The King Kalakaua Trophy is for the overall winner on corrected time.

The battle on the high seas between OEX and Pyewacket continues to rage. Pyewacket is ahead by a mile but behind by 23 minutes on corrected time.

Criminal Mischief is looking as if it will have its Aloha party before Magnitude 80 on Saturday. Criminal Mischief is the leader in Division III by over a day on elapsed time.

Bad Pak, Horizon, Relentless, and Charisma have retained their leads in Divisions IV, V, VI and VII, respectively. All but Bad Pak are leading on distance traveled and elapsed time. Tachyon III has the least distance remaining to travel to reach Hawaii in Division IV.

A number of fun traditions await the racers once they surf across the finish line. The boats will be escorted from the finish line to the dock. The deep draft boats will dock near Aloha Tower in Honolulu. After their official inspection has been completed, the crew will be given leis, photos will be taken, friends and family will be able to join them and then they go to their Hawaiian host-sponsored party.

Hosting boats and teams is a tradition that dates back to the first race in 1906 when Clarence MacFarlane, a Honolulu racing sailor, invited friends from San Francisco and Los Angeles to race him to Hawaii in a race inspired by King Kalakaua. Over 600 Hawaiians and 50 companies and organizations are playing host to the Transpac sailors. Regardless of when Alfa Romeo arrives, Cades Schutte LLP and Jimmy Buffett's Restaurant & Bar will sponsor the team's party. Maybe knowing that they have Jimmy Buffet's famous slider burgers waiting for them will spur the Alfa Romeo team on to crossing the finish line in time for a late night snack on land.

After the boat and crew pass inspection they will jump into Alfa Romeo cars and be driven to Waikiki Yacht Club for a press conference followed by a party thrown by their hosts, Cades Schutte LLP and Jimmy Buffett's Restaurant & Bar.

Transpac Race

Rolex Baltic Week: Rolex Star Europeans set for final day showdown with just one point separating Star rivals

Best German team after four days, STANJEK/KOY, fifth place overall. Image copyright Rolex / Tom Körber.

by Andreas Kling

World number one Star Class sailors Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) may have finished second to Olympic gold medalists Iain Percy/Andrew Simpson (GBR) at the Qingdao Games last year, but they are doing everything they can to redress the balance at this year's Rolex Baltic Week. After winning Friday's (10 July) single race Scheidt and Prada lead Percy/Simpson (3rd) by just one point in the 2009 European Championships, with fellow Olympic medalist Fredrik Loof with his new crew Johan Tillander (SWE) a mere four points adrift in fourth.

With unsettled weather of clouds, rain showers, and southwesterly winds gusting up 23 knots on the Kiel Fjord in Germany, Friday's sailing was postponed until early afternoon. Racing finally got underway on the third attempt at around 15.30, the first start having been abandoned due to a major windshift. With a current running behind the fleet for the first time this week, the second start was a general recall - of the 88 competitors, 26 were Black Flagged, whilst the race committee spotted a further 15 or so over the line that couldn't be identified by either bow or sail numbers.

On the third attempt racing began in a shifty south-westerly of around 14-18 knots, on a two-lap windward-leeward course with a final upwind finish. Many of the dominant players were back in the pack for the first lap, with Flemming Sørensen/Niels Hansen-Thrysøe (DEN) getting the best start to lead around the top mark from Lars Grael/Ronald Seifert (BRA) and Diego Negri/ Giovanni Stilo (ITA) in third.

In an upset to the previous form, Scheidt/Prada found themselves back in 12th for the first lap, with Percy/Simpson around 16th, while Loof/Tillander rounded the top mark in 29th position. On the shifty racecourse the top mark was changed to a bearing of around 270 degrees.

However, this Olympic trio's experience and determination saw them fight their way back into contention, showing phenomenal boat speed. Percy/Simpson leap-frogged their way back up the fleet throughout the second round, pulling ahead at one stage on the downwind leg, but Scheidt/Prada chose the better tactical options, taking the right-hand gate on the second downwind leg to secure the gun at the end.

Together with Negri/Stilo, who climbed one place to second, Percy/Simpson opted to go left at the final bottom mark, finishing in third. Fourth went to Hamish Pepper/Craig Monk (NZL). Loof too had pulled off some impressive place gains to finish in fifth position, with sixth going to George Szabo/Rick Peters (USA), a first top 10 position for them.

SWE 7978, Helmsman and Crew: INGVAR KROOK, HENRIK HASSELGREN. Image copyright Rolex / Tom Körber.

Iain Percy said: "It was very hard racing. We made a big mistake on the second run when we chose the wrong mark of the gate. Scheidt rounded the right mark and we took the left together with Negri. Immediately he overtook both of us. There was so much going on on that run that we simply missed making the right call. It's a matter of practice, since we haven't sailed for eight months."

Today's remarkable display leaves Scheidt/Prada in first place overall on 11 points, with Percy/Simpson just one point back in second - could the scene be set for a final day match race between the two rivals? Iain Percy wouldn't be drawn on Saturday's tactics, saying: "We'll see whether the last day brings one or two races. If only one gets underway it's up to Scheidt to decide whether he wants to try to cover us or not. I think we don't need to be anxious about this because we have the best experience in match racing from the America's Cup and other regattas."

Scheidt added: "We managed to round the first mark in 12th position, although it was a very tricky beat. After this we worked our way through the fleet with good speed and looking for the shifts and puffs. We got nearly all of them right, but Percy sailed smart too. He overtook us on the second run when he gybed early, but good for us he went to the left gate mark. We'll see what's gonna happen on Saturday but we'll keep an eye on them that's for sure!"

Third overall are Loof/Tillander on 16 points. The Swedish pairing are far from out of contention, Loof commenting: "We started on the left side of the line and headed to the left when we got punished by a 30-degree right shift. Coming from 29th at the top mark and finishing 5th is not bad although our direct opponents did better. From the first mark to the finish we gained more than 150 metres on Percy, which indicates we were not slow. Maybe we will have an advantage being out of the duel at the top of the fleet."

The US American crew of Mark Mendelblatt/Mark Strube have moved into fourth on 36 points. First German crew overall is Robert Stanjek/Markus Koy in 5th, followed by Flavio Marazzi/Enrico De Maria (SUI) in 6th, then fellow home team Johannes Babendererde/Timo Jacobs (GER) in 7th. Three top-10 finishes leave Pepper/ Monk in 8th, although they have a 89th (BFD) to discard, while 9th is Xavier Rohart/Pierre Alexis Ponsot (FRA), Black Flagged on Friday, and 10th Nicola Celon/Edoardo Natucci (ITA).

Racing concludes on Saturday - the race committee reports that they hope to run two further races although fresh to strong breezes are once again forecasted. The first warning signal is scheduled for 11.00 am local time, with the last possible start at 14.05.

Results after six out of eight scheduled races of the 2009 Rolex Baltic Week / Star Class European Championship on Friday (10 July)
1 Robert Scheidt/Bruno Prada (Brazil) 11 points
2 Iain Percy/Andrew Simpson (Great Britain) 12
3 Fredrik Loof/Johan Tillander (Sweden) 16
4 Mark Mendelblatt/Mark Strube (USA) 36
5 Robert Stanjek/Markus Koy (Germany) 40
6 Flavio Marazzi/Enrico de Maria (Switzerland) 45
7 Johannes Babendererde/Timo Jacobs (Germany) 51
8 Hamish Pepper/Craig Monk (New Zealand) 56

Rolex Baltic Week

Finn Gold Cup: High winds and seas on penultimate day of Finn Gold Cup

Dan Slater in the mix at the Finn Gold Cup in Denmark. Image copyright Vallensbæk Sailing Club.

by Jodie Bakewell-White

Dan Slater is lying 5th at the 2009 Finn Gold Cup World Championship with only the medal race to be sailed in Denmark. High winds and seas prevailed on the penultimate day of racing just concluded.

“Friday's racing was the toughest yet, with a cold south-westerly in place, raining most of the day with winds up to 25 knots and high seas,” reports Robert Deaves on site.

Two races were sailed to complete the ten race qualifying series and kiwi Dan Slater placed 15th and then 8th which saw him improve his overall standing one place up to fifth.

“What a day!” says Slater. “It was fresh to frightening today with 25 knots plus , big seas, shifty winds and a whole lot of rain. Sounds like fun doesn't it?”

With the fleet leaders now stretching their lead on Slater his aim is to sail a top medal race and improve his standing for the final result at this year’s Finn Gold Cup.

“Tomorrow is the medal race and the best thing I can do is just go and win the race. There is a gap to 4th of 14 points so the guys ahead need to finish at the back of the 10 boat fleet. I also need to protect my 5th place, but will go for the bullet. If all the stars align tomorrow, I could still climb a few places.”

The first race of the day was wet and fast for Slater. “I had a good start but got the side of the course wrong on the first beat and had to play catch up for the remainder of the race.

“Going upwind the boat was launching of the top of the waves and smacking down making a sound like someone hitting a 44 gallon drum with a steel bar. On the down winds there was just a constant sheet of water coming at me like a fire hose, so by the time the rain had stopped I didn’t even really notice.

“During the final stages of this race, I had a couple of really close potential swims on the final reach as I dropped off a couple of really steep waves and the boat sort of slipped out from under me leaving me healed right over to windward. Yikes. I finished 15th and absolutely exhausted. When I crossed the finish line I was so ready to go home; my body was aching and so was my pride.”

Due to the challenging conditions delays affected the start of the second race of the day. “Finally, after an hour and a half we started race two. Again I had a great start and followed the dirty black cloud out towards the left which turned out to be quite good and I think that I rounded the top mark maybe 10th. I had a good run and although I only gained 1 or 2 boats I closed right up on the bunch ahead. Up the second beat the breeze died a little to 15-17 knots and became very unstable. I rounded the top mark 8th and that’s where I finished.

“Overall I gained a place to be 5th but lost a few points on the leaders.”

2009 Finn Gold Cup
Top ten take part in medal race

1st USA Zach Railey 60
2nd DEN Jonas Høgh-Christensen 63
3rd GBR Giles Scott 65
4th CRO Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 67
5th NZL Dan Slater 81
6th SWE Daniel Birgmark 83
7th CRO Marin Misura 88
8th ESP Rafael Trujillo 91
9th GBR Edward Wright 92
10th GBR Andrew Mills 107

Finn Gold Cup

Finn Gold Cup: Drama at Finn Gold up as Zach Railey leads fleet into medal race

Olympic silver medallist Zach Railey (USA) is currently in the lead. Image copyright Vallensbæk Sailing Club.

by Robert Deaves

Zach Railey returned to the top of the leaderboard after a tough day at the Finn Gold Cup in Vallensbaek, Denmark. After leading the first race on Friday from start to finish he placed seventh in race 10 to go in into Saturday's medal race with a narrow three point lead over Jonas Høgh Christensen. Race ten was won by Giles Scott, who completes the top three places, a further two points back.

Fourth placed Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) is just two points further back and all four sailors have a realistic chance of taking one of dinghy sailing toughest titles in the double points medal race to be sailed just outside the marina at 11.00 Saturday.

Friday's racing was the toughest yet, with a cold south-westerly in place, raining most of the day with winds up to 25 knots and high seas.

Race nine winner Zach Railey (USA) takes up the story "I started down at the pin end and a left shift came in with about a minute to go and it took maybe 35 or 40 seconds before everyone tacked over to port before I could get over. But once I tacked it looked pretty good and I crossed all the way across the race course. I took one tack on starboard and got to the port layline and took one more shift and then myself and Bryan Boyd [USA] were 1, 2 round the top mark, so that was pretty cool."

The Americans were followed round by Daniel Birgmark (SWE), Mark Andrews (GBR), Tapio Nirkko (FIN), Oleksiy Borysov (UKR) and Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN). Regatta leader Ed Wright (GBR) picked up a black flag, removing any chance of the world title for him, as he now has to carry a 46th from the first race.

Railey continued, "Daniel Birgmark and I had a really good fight on the first downwind leg and then on the second upwind, the left came in again and I was just a little to the left of Daniel and Jonas." Railey led down the reaches to the finish, though Høgh Christensen closed the gap to finish second ahead of Birgmark, Pieter Jan Postma (NED) and Nirkko.

Finn fleet at the 2009 Gold Cup. Image copyright Vallensbæk Sailing Club.

Though the wind and waves made for great, if tough sailing, the cold rain made for a dismal wait between races. After several false starts, it finally got away in a slightly reduced breeze. The pin end was favoured again and very crowded with a number of boats, including Railey and Høgh Christensen bailing out and restarting.

Giles Scott (GBR) won his second race of the series. He said, "In the second race I nailed the pin end tacked after about a minute or two and just cleared the fleet. Then I caught a big lift on starboard and went over the fleet again and had quite a lengthy lead round the first mark. It went right half way up and I was about the only boat to get into it."

Railey added, "The pin end was really favoured and I didn't want to risk being OCS which would have blown the regatta for me so I held back from the line. We had to bail out and I found a lane to get out to the left side and worked my way through the fleet." Høgh Christensen was thinking alike, "I could have pushed it harder and maybe gotten in there but I didn't want to take the risk and get an OCS on the board. I just wanted to stay clear of any trouble and decided to play it little safer today."

Scott was followed round the top mark by Railey, Rafael Trujillo (ESP), Birgmark, Wright and Høgh Christensen. Scott continued, "I was pretty annoyed to see them [Railey and Høgh Christensen] there. I saw Zach had bit of difficultly at the start but he caught up nicely."

Railey said, "We had a really good fight on the downwind but it got a little shiftier and lighter on the second upwind and I didn't want to take too many chances going to one side or the other and finished seventh so now have a good position going into the medal race."

Scott extended on the downwind and went on to take the race win, while Wright caught up to second. Birgmark finished a steady day with another third place.

Scott said, "It's nice to have the fleet racing over. It's been quite a stressful week with the breeze being up and down. Today was better actually but there was till boats coming in from both corners, but it was just normally racing today. But it was so cold between races."

Railey said, "The points are really close for tomorrow. It's all up for grabs and will be very tough. The medal race is supposed to be very exciting and I think we will have an exciting one tomorrow. There are four guys who can win and it will be interesting to see what happens. All you can really ask for is to be in a position to finish on the podium at the end of the day."

Høgh Christensen agreed, "It's going to be be a fantastically tight race. All four of us are within a few points and anyone can take it, so I'm expecting a really tight and a good fun race."

Scott was more bullish, "It's going to be tight tomorrow, but bring it on!"

DEN 2 - Jonas Høgh-Christensen enjoying the wind. Image copyright Vallensbæk Sailing Club.

So the medal race line up looks like this:

Zach Railey _USA
2008 Olympic silver medalist but yet to medal at a major championship. But sailing cooler and cleverer than ever, so this could be his year.

Jonas Høgh-Christensen - DEN
World Champion in 2006 and placed sixth at last year's Olympics. Hasn't raced since then and is here 'for fun', but his relaxed attitude is showing with the best scoreline of any sailor in the second half of the regatta,

Giles Scott - GBR
Fast improving young pretender who won last year's Junior Worlds in Melbourne. Won race three and ten here and has put together an impressive series. Placed second at the Delta Lloyd after leading all week and losing on the medal race to Wright.

Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic - CRO
Had an impressive series this year and been consistent this week, but hasn't won a race yet. Won Hyeres this year, and twice been runner up at the Europeans in 2007 and 2008.

Dan Slater - NZL
Only really just returned since taking a beak after the Olympics and has a few rusty areas, but a great competitor. Can take silver if things go his way,

Daniel Birgmark - SWE
A typical performance from Birgmark this week. Very steady. Could just take the bronze, but it's a long shot.

Marin Misura - CRO
Won a race this week, but too far adrift to take a medal. Made the top ten at the 2007 Gold Cup, but lost out on Olympic selection to Kljakovic Gaspic.

Rafael Trujillo - ESP
2004 Olympic silver medalist and 2007 World Champion. Made life hard for himself this week with too many high scores and no possibility of a medal.

Edward Wright - GBR
European Champion in 2006, and third in the Finn Gold Cup that year. So far this year he has won two ISAF Sailing World Cup events, won three of the medal races and has taken an unassailable lead in that series to take the title before the final event in Weymouth. But Friday's black flag has cost him dearly.

Andrew Mills - GBR
Sailed a great series here for his best ever Gold Cup result. A lot of work to do to move up from 10th, at 15 points adrift of Wright, but could easily be up the front.

The medal race is scheduled for 11.00 on Saturday, with the 11th race for the rest to follow immediately afterwards.

Top 10 after 10 races
1st 6 USA 4 Zach Railey 10.0 6.0 6.0 6.0 (29.0) 4.0 7.0 13.0 1.0 7.0 89.0 60.0
2nd 8 DEN 2 Jonas Høgh-Christensen 20.0 (35.0) 17.0 1.0 5.0 7.0 4.0 1.0 2.0 6.0 98.0 63.0
3rd 16 GBR 41 Giles Scott 6.0 16.0 1.0 13.0 (20.0) 8.0 5.0 2.0 13.0 1.0 85.0 65.0
4th 3 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (31.0) 3.0 21.0 2.0 6.0 13.0 3.0 3.0 12.0 4.0 98.0 67.0
5th 13 NZL 1 Dan Slater (33.0) 1.0 3.0 5.0 3.0 20.0 12.0 14.0 15.0 8.0 114.0 81.0
6th 5 SWE 11 Daniel Birgmark 17.0 2.0 13.0 (20.0) 8.0 5.0 20.0 12.0 3.0 3.0 103.0 83.0
7th 33 CRO 25 Marin Misura 3.0 (21.0) 10.0 11.0 21.0 1.0 6.0 10.0 10.0 16.0 109.0 88.0
8th 1 ESP 100 Rafael Trujillo 22.0 19.0 16.0 4.0 4.0 (31.0) 2.0 6.0 7.0 11.0 122.0 91.0
9th 10 GBR 111 Edward Wright 46.0 4.0 2.0 9.0 18.0 6.0 1.0 4.0 (88.0 BFD) 2.0 180.0 92.0
10th 18 GBR 634 Andrew Mills 7.0 5.0 (32.0) 16.0 2.0 16.0 13.0 16.0 22.0 10.0 139.0 107.0

Finn Gold Cup 2009
International Finn Association

Finn Gold Cup: Clubbing Together

DEN 2 - Jonas Høgh-Christensen. Image copyright Vallensbæk Sailing Club.

by Sailing Intelligence

Hosting a major event such as a World Championship is a major operation, especially when it is for an Olympic class like the Finn.

The organiser and the man who’s hair has been turning prematurely grey this week has been Jakob Nybroe, 37, who has been a member of southwest Copenhagen's Vallensbæk Sailing Club since he was introduced by his parents aged “around 10 years old”. Nybroe has previously worked on other major events his club has hosted. These have included the 49er Europeans in 2005, the Laser Europeans in 2002 and the Tornado World Championship back in 1999, together with numerous local regattas and Danish championships for all flavours of dinghies and keelboats.

Impressively, he and co-organiser Michel Bernfeld head a group of around 40 running and making this event happen and all, including he and Bernfeld, are unpaid volunteers. Nybroe, for example, has a ‘proper job’ working in strategic procurement for the Danish building insulation giant, Rockwool, who’s base is 20 minutes from Vallensbæk. “I have had a very flexible employer who has allowed me to spend some time on this and work some late hours,” Nybroe admits. From the bar to the boats, some of the club’s juniors are on hand daily to help tired skippers retrieve their boats from the water while some older members sort out the endless food demands.

The vital on-the-water race management has been faultless and Nybroe says this is one area he wasn’t worried about before his event started. “They have done this so many times, so they know how important it is to get the course right and when you have to change, it has to be as quick as possible. They are a great team.”

That the event has been running like clockwork this week, both on the water, despite the varied conditions – balmy and warm at the beginning of the week, to wet, cold and generally more Northern European today – and off the water, is testament to not only the skill of Nybroe and his team, but also to the experience of those at the club.

“We have the old guard participating here as volunteers, but there is also a large group of people who have never participated before - that’s everyone from the bartender and the caterers to people on the water, doing the results, etc,” says Nybroe. “They have all basically taken a week out and been spending their time down here.”

What is perhaps not evident, even to those attending the event, is that Denmark has a strong ‘volunteer culture’. Generous support from its members at clubs like this is common in Denmark, much more forthcoming than it is in other countries. In a recent study by the Sports For All Commission it was calculated that the value of volunteer work in Denmark equated to 4.7 billion Euros per annum or the equivalent of just under 54,000 full time jobs.

In Vallensbæk Sailing Club’s case Nybroe says they do it for the pride their club derives from holding such a prestigious event as the Finn Gold Cup, particularly with a class so closely tied to Denmark.

Holding major events also creates good will with the town of Vallensbæk, from whom the organisers receive considerable support. At the Finn Gold Cup this year for example, the town provided the large entertainment tent and much of the logistical support such as signs, water and electricity on the camp site, etc. “It means they can use us as an example of how wonderful it is to live in the town. So I have a lot of press clippings to send to the mayor and he will be very pleased to see those,” says Nybroe.

Local sponsorship has also played a part even though Denmark, like the rest of the world, is in the depths of a major economic crisis. In their case the local branch of the Nordea bank has stepped forward to offer support.

But the biggest benefactor this year has been Denmark’s Year of Sport. This backing has resulted in the Finn Gold Cup having been ramped up considerably in terms of its press and TV coverage. “We have really had a lot of journalists and photographers down this week, more than we usually see even for other bigger events,” says Nybroe. “That has been great, but it adds another dimension in terms of planning and organising.”

With the hardware supplied by TracTrac and the Danish Sailing Association now owning 150 GPS transponders with support from insurance company CODAN (part of Sun Alliance Group), ALL of the races at the Finn Gold Cup have been tracked, rather than just the final medal race. This is believed to be a first for any dinghy class. At today’s count 8,000 simultaneously watched the tracking on line. Many more are expected for tomorrow’s Top 10 grand finale at 1100 local time.

Nybroe is particularly proud of the facilities on offer ashore at the Finn Gold Cup. This has included discounted food, three meals a day for competitors as well as a free ‘wet bar’ issuing post-race pints of Tuborg to competitors, who instead prefer the free sandwiches setting upon them like locusts. “When we set out we wanted to make sure the onshore experience something would be a little bit extra for the sailors and I think we have succeeded,” says Nybroe.

As to future events Vallensbæk Sailing Club might host, Nybroe turns slightly ashen at the prospect. “We probably are, but to be honest, right now, I am focussed on this one! I’ll probably say never again but we’ll have to see what happens in a couple of year’s time.”

Finn Gold Cup 2009

RC44s: Team Sea Dubai takes an early lead in the Malcesine RC 44 Cup fleet race

With a fifth and a first, the team from the UAE currently leads the ranking ahead of Ceeref and Team Aqua.

RC44 fleet race start on Lake Garda. Image copyright Loris von Siebenthal / RC 44 Class Association.

by Bernard Schopfer

The fleet race contest of the RC 44 Malcesine Cup started this afternoon. As announced by PredictWind, the thermal breeze was blowing nicely after lunch time, allowing Chief Race Officer Peter Reggio to start on time.

Both Igor Lah (Ceeref) and Chris Bake (Team Aqua) crossed the starting line at full speed at the pin end, whilst Pieter Heerema (No Way Back) chose the opposite side of the line. Usually in Garda, the recipe for success is to sail as fast as possible towards the shore in order to benefit from a good lift before tacking to port. Easy to do when you are ahead, but much harder when there are other boats arriving at full speed on starboard tack, yelling loud to make sure to be seen.

Torbjorn Tornqvist (Artemis) proved to be the best at this game. After taking an excellent start in the middle of the line, Artemis managed to cross ahead of the pack and reach the top mark in first. From then on it was plain cruising for the Swedish boat, thanks to an excellent control of their pursuers. Torbjorn Tornqvist had already been steering during a good part of yesterday’s match races and was clearly on good form!

Chris Bake and his Team Aqua, in second, increased their lead over Ceeref and Organika throughout the race whilst Team Sea Dubai achieved the come-back of the day after incurring a penalty against Organika at the top mark, going from tenth to fifth during the second half of the race. The rain unfortunately started to fall during the last run, resulting in a temperature drop and the thermal breeze going from 15-18 knots at the start to 6-8 knots by the end of the regatta.

Fearing a further drop, Peter Reggio launched the next regatta immediately after the arrival, in a fairly light breeze. The sun briefly came back, but big black clouds were building up over the nearby mountains whilst thunders could be heard. BMW ORACLE Racing, No Way Back, Jelik and Team Austria decided to carry on with their jibs no1 whilst all other teams quickly changed to genoas.

Starting perfectly at the pin end of the line, Team Sea Dubai grabbed an early lead ahead of BMW ORACLE Racing and Ceeref. The configuration was different for this regatta, with most teams sailing further towards the middle of the lake than in the previous race. Artemis, who was struggling to come back after a bad start, got penalised at the windward mark for tacking too close to Organika and ended up closing the fleet.

Despite BMW ORACLE Racing’s pressure, Team Sea Dubai managed to keep the lead until the arrival line, dropping its kite on time as the wind suddenly switched by 100 degrees as the rainsquall was arriving. The American team finished second, ahead of No Way Back, Ceeref and Team Aqua.

The DHL Trophy coastal race will take place tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM, hopefully with the same strong northerly breeze that has been blowing over the past days.

RC44s racing on Lake Garda. Image copyright Loris von Siebenthal / RC 44 Class Association.

They said:

Yousef Lahej, helmsman, Team Sea Dubai: “We took an excellent start at the pin end in the second race and this was the decisive moment for us in this regatta. BMW ORACLE Racing was pushing hard from behind, but it is always good to have a strong team behind: it forces you to do your best and we certainly did.”

Pieter Heerema, owner, No Way Back: “We had a reminder today that fleet racing can be very intense, particularly when you arrive by the shore and have to tack to port whilst many boats arrive on starboard tack… I think that the key here is to take excellent starts. If you are not in the lead during the first crossing, you can finish anything between second and tenth.”

René Mangold, owner, Team Austria: “We are not unhappy with our results today (8 and 6). I have the feeling that we are getting closer. It is still tough for us when the conditions are changing and we need to adapt our trimming. I really look forward to tomorrow’s DHL Trophy, hopefully screaming downwind with 25 knots of wind.”

RC44s on Lake Garda. Image copyright Loris von Siebenthal / RC 44 Class Association.

Fleet race, provisional results after two races (no discard):
(Ranking, name of team, helmsman, results, points)
1) Team Sea Dubai, Yousef Lahej, 5, 1 - 6 points
2) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 3, 4 – 7 points
2) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 2, 5 - 7 points
4) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, 6, 2 - 8 points
5) Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist, 1, 9 – 10 points
5) No Way Back, Pieter Heerema, 7, 3 - 10 points
7) Team Organika, Maciej Navrocki, 4, 8 - 12 points
8) Team Austria, René Mangold, 8, 6 - 14 points
9) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, Daniel Calero, 9, 7 - 16 points
10) Jelik, Frank Pong, 10, 10 – 20 points

Match-race, final results after 7 flights (updated since yesterday's which included a mistake):
(Name of team, helmsman, No of victories / defeats, points)
1) Artemis, Dean Barker, 5/0, 5 points
2) No Way Back, Ray Davies, 5/0, 5 points
3) Ceeref, Sébastien Col, 5/1, 5 points
4) Team Aqua, Cameron Appleton 4/2, 4 points
5) Team Sea Dubai, Markus Wieser, 3/3, 3 points
6) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, 2/4, 2 points
7) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, José Maria Ponce, 2/4, 2 points
8) Team Organika, Karol Jablonski 2/3 – 1 penalty, 1 point
9) Team Jelik, Frank Pong, 0/5, 0 point
9) Team Austria, Christian Binder, 0/6, 0 point


Friday 10 July 2009

Images of BMW ORACLE Racing's Modified BOR90, San Diego, USA

by Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.