Saturday 17 October 2009

Rolex Champion of Champions - Day Two

by Paul Cayard

6 Races were held today on Lake Carlyle. The temperature was a bit cooler than yesterday, about 45 F. The breeze was a bit stronger at 8-12 knots. Still it was very shifty and puffy and there was plenty of ups and downs. It is like playing that game you play with your kids... Shoots and Ladders.

Before lunch we sailed pretty good and thought we were finally developing a bit of consistency. I think we had a 7, 5, 4. After lunch, that feeling of smoothness and consistency went away. Maybe it was the Turkey sandwich. We had a bad one, maybe 15th, then we nailed the pin end of the start and had a 50 yard lead at the fist mark of the second race. We went to hoist the spinnaker and the halyard had jumped the sheave. No kite for 2 minutes while we flailed away trying to get that thing sorted. We finished second in that race. That's how big our lead was!

Then in the last race, I got a horrible start, we battled back to 8th and then up the last beat we lost 9 boats. Frustrating!

To give you and idea about the wind here, you can be sailing along and then just have the jib back. When a puff hits you hike out and then jump back in the boat as it is gone in 2 seconds. It is a workout.

Christine, our little doctor, is great. She is putting up with two overgrown Star boys who fumble around on this thing with the grace of an elephant. Plus we are bitching about everything from the boat to the conditions and she is putting up with all that. She is the best. She is a pediatrician so she is used to dealing with children.

Sorry I am not writing more about who is winning but I honestly don't know who is winning. I think Greg Fisher is doing pretty well. There are quite a few teams here who sail Lightning's regularity.

Tonight I am giving the group a talk about the Pirates of the Caribbean Volvo team, and whatever else they want to hear about. I have some of those great videos that should get a few oh's and ah's. I will be selling my Pirates Book where the money goes to the junior sailing programs at SFYC and St. FYC.

Tomorrow we will probably have three more races and then fly back to SFO tomorrow night. I sailing on my Hula Girl on Sunday with my son Danny. We are taking a group sailing who won the trip at a school auction in my neighborhood.

Cayard Sailing
Rolex Championship of Champions

RMSR: Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

Gavin Brady, skipper of Beau Geste. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

by Giles Pearman

The 70 crews finally entered in the 30th Rolex Middle Sea Race, which starts Saturday morning local time from Grand Harbour, Malta, have spent their last day readying themselves for what looks to be a challenging race. The frontrunners are modelling course times between two and three days, with the likelihood of an extended period of 35-knots of wind on the topside of the course, to the north of Sicily. This is the Mediterranean, a notoriously fickle environment, this week more so than ever with a constantly evolving picture. The navigators and strategists throughout the fleet have been following intently the developing weather patterns over the past few days and talk of encountering heavy weather at some point. One word has kept coming up interviews over that past 24 hours. Preparation.

Australian Tom Addis was part of Team New Zealand in the last America's Cup and was on the Telefonica Blue team during the Volvo Ocean Race. He knows a thing or two about preparation. He is sailing as navigator on Roger Sturgeon's STP65 Rosebud/Team DYT (USA) with whom he also sailed when she won the 2007 Rolex Sydney Hobart. Addis competed in the storm-swept 2007 Rolex Middle Sea Race too. "This race is always very interesting. You don't get many 600-mile races with this number of corners and land effects. Quick changes in conditions, very local changes especially going up through the Strait of Messina. There's always something to be working on next with no big straight lines," comments Addis, the afternoon before the start. "Conditions are not dissimilar to 2007, in some ways, in that we have a low pressure system just north of Sicily that we're going to have to deal with. It looks like we've got pretty good pressure all the way, which makes for a good fast race."

Malcolm Park, the Project Manager for Rosebud/Team DYT, is another who recognises the value of preparation and acknowledged the expectation of some tough conditions. "It is nothing we can't handle. We've five or six guys on the crew who did the last Volvo. We all know what is required," Park comments. "We've sat down and discussed our latest assessment of the situation. We're taking appropriate steps such as ensuring all crew have short [safety] tethers and that the sails have redundant systems in case of failure at attachment points."

Around the dock there is clear evidence amongst all crews that they anticipate experiencing strong winds. The presence of orange coloured sailcloth on the pontoons and foredecks being checked and packed, checked again and repacked, confirms not just the mandatory presence of storm sails, but that boats expect to use them. Mainsails with two or three reef points are being preferred to those with one. The smallest sized racing headsails are being included in the inventories.

Adrian Stead, Ran's tactician. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

Another of the pro-teams is Karl Kwok's 80-foot Beau Geste (HKG), led by Gavin Brady and Francesco de Angelis, with the highly experienced Andrew Cape as navigator. Kwok may be new to the Rolex Middle Sea Race, but he is also a Hobart race winner and holds the course record for the Rolex China Sea Race. Narrowly beaten by ICAP Leopard to line honours at this year's Rolex Fastnet, Kwok's hopes are high, but typically humble for this quietly spoken gentleman of the grand prix racing circuit. "Preparations have been pretty good. This morning we had a lot of wind out there, so we've been testing bits and pieces, including different sail configurations. It's good wind, hopefully we're going to have it throughout the race," comments Kwok. "Of course everybody wants to be a winner, but not everyone can do that. I've heard of the Rolex Middle Sea Race for such a long time and my hope is that I finish it once in my lifetime," he adds with a smile.

Whilst Rosebud/Team DYT and Beau Geste representative of the elite professional end of the fleet, the 36-foot Otra Vez Fexco (MLT) is typical of the more Corinthian entry. Edward Gatt Floridia, the skipper, is embarking on his sixth race and his first as an owner. Floridia is just as conscious of the importance of preparation. "The hardest bit of this race is being skipper. Everything else is the same. We have the same crew exactly as in previous years; we've all sailed together, we all know what to do," explains Floridia. "The only difference is that I am the skipper and have responsibility for boat and crew."

Floridia is taking this newfound responsibility very seriously, professionally in fact. "Boat preparation is very important so you are ready for any conditions that you might encounter whether they are very heavy or very light. You need to be prepared for any breakages you might have, especially those that can be repaired so you can continue the race. I don't think there is any difference between the small and bigger boats in managing the crew. If the weather is rough, it is harder for certain and more uncomfortable. We have a set watch system and we will be flexible depending on conditions and needs on deck."

Floridia is working on a six-day race, a stark contrast toRosebud where the expectation is 48 to 60 hours. "We've been following the weather patterns since the first forecasts for Saturday came out. They've been changing every day and in fact every hour. We think we know what we are going to get tomorrow, but two-three days ahead at this time of year is very hard to be accurate. However, it looks to be strong for a couple of days and light for a couple too. One thing for certain is that we'll get a bit of everything. It never stays constant on this racecourse," says Floridia.

Aldo Quadarella is the skipper of Ricomincio da 3, a couple of feet shorter than Otra Vez and another of the more Corinthian entries. Quadarella finished in sixth overall last year, having been in the lead on handicap at Pantelleria. He is also taking preparations seriously, encouraged by their 2008 result, "last year it was going well until Pantelleria, when we got caught in some stormy weather. We were going fast, but more in the direction of Tunisia than Malta. The whole team wanted to do the race again. We are more familiar with the boat, have replaced some of the sails and even the rudder to be more competitive. We are well-prepared this year." Ricomincio da 3 is another boat trusting in the powers of Parmigiano. Quadarella adds good coffee and pre-cooked pasta to his list of secret weapons.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race has proven over the years to suffer no fools. This year will be no exception. It is a strong fleet heading to the start line tomorrow, all the crews are capable of sailing well. The conditions will be testing and what will be demonstrated by the results at the end of the week is not only those that have sailed the best, but those that have best prepared themselves and their equipment.

The 2009 Rolex Middle Sea Race starts from Grand Harbour at 11.00 CEST on Saturday, 17 October.

Rolex Middle Sea Race

GP42 Global Cup: Roma Leads by Nine

Roma. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Puerto Calero GP42 Global Cup.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

In yet another day of perfect sailing conditions here in Lanzarote, Filippo Faruffini's Roma 2 has managed to treble their slim 3-point lead over Islas Canarias Puerto Calero to nine points with just one day left of racing in the 2009 GP42 Global Championship. Roma's consistency has paid off well, though with three races left in the series they have to keep up the good work to prevail to victory.

The day’s first race featured a little less breeze than yesterday, with the 9-11 knot easterly giving some of the new teams a better chance at hanging with the veterans, and a little more space on the starting line left by the absence of Team Nordic made for a tight first beat. Roma (ITA), driven by Paolo Cian (ITA) did what they do best: lead the pack and try to hold off the inevitable downwind charge made by the Botin & Carkeek-designed sisterships Islas CanariasPuerto Calero (ESP) and Javier Goizueta’s Caser-Endesa (ESP) who seem to have the best all-around speed of any in this fleet. A cleverly-executed slow gybe made by the match race master Cian on the layline to the first downwind gate shook off Endesa back into the pack, allowing Goncalo Esteves’ (POR) Quebramar – Xacobeo 2010 (POR) to play through to take second, while the Canarias team got forced back and suffered their worst finish yet.

With the breeze building to 13-14 knots, Caser-Endesa and Islas Canarias Puerto Calero then came into their own, helped by the local team winning the pin end start and the race to the favored left side, while Endesa took advantage of the right. PRO Peter “Luigi” Reggio intentionally set a slight bias this way into the starting line to help compensate for the mad rush made to the left side of the course, so those who could start and hold that lane could often prevail all the way to the corner. The fight for that side was won by Endesa, but lost by Roberto Monti’s (ITA) Airis (ITA), who got locked out at the boat end and had to gybe back around to start.

GP42 Puerto Calero Islas Canarias. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Puerto Calero GP42 Global Cup.

With Islas Canarias Puerto Calero winning the pin and Roma forced to tack away before getting to the left corner, the race for the lead then became between the two sisterships, with Canarias team able to prevail and take her third win of the series, to the horn-blaring delight of the spectator fleet.

The third race had yet more breeze, getting to 16 knots, and Cian did what he had to do, and more: finding himself in the second row line-up for the pin end behind Islas Canarias Pueto Calero, Caser-Endesa, and Team Nordic (SWE), Cian deftly stepped to the middle with two quick tacks perfectly positioned and timed to roll over this group. Endesa got too far to leeward and hit the mark, Islas Canarias Puerto Calero was slow and got rolled, the hapless Team Nordic, despite terrific positioning by helmsman Rasmus Hosner, simply did not have the pace to hold off Roma, who took the early lead and extended, relatively unmollested.

To make matters worse for the B&C sisterships, a gap opened up for Airis to roll into position to have their best position yet amongst the leaders. Even Quebramar Xacobeo 2010 – despite older sails and helmsman Felipe Regojo (ESP) being in only his second GP42 class event – was right amongst the front of the pack as well, except for one small detail at the weather mark: a black boat called Turismo Madrid (ESP). The bright lizard-green Quebramar Xacobeo 2010 was trying to follow Airis on port tack to get around the bow of Madrid on starboard, but it was not to be: the loud shouting, gasps from the spectators, and shrill whistle from the jury were all that prevented a massive carbon fibre collision.

The GP42 fleet downwind. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Puerto Calero GP42 Global Cup

As Quebramar Xacobeo 2010 did their circles of shame above the offset leg, this opened yet another gap for Team Nordic and Peninsula Petroleum (GBR) – who are usually trailing in all the races – to play through and be amongst the top of the pack mixing it up with teams they usually only see at the starts.

So, its been a rough and tumble day here in Lanzarote, and while some lick their wounds and drown sorrows courtesy of the fabulous hospitality of the Puerto Calero venue, others will be doing the math and strategizing on how to do what they need to do in the final day’s three races, which starts tomorrow at 1200 local time.

Puerto Calero GP42 Global Cup
Day 3

1. Roma (ITA, Paolo Cian), 4+2+3+1+2+2+1+3+1= 19 points
2. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP, José María Ponce), 5+5+1+3+1+3+6+1+3= 28 points
3. Caser-Endesa (ESP, uan Luis Páez), 7+4+2+2+3+1+3+2+5= 29 points
4. Turismo Madrid (ESP, José María van der Ploeg), 2+1+4+5+5+4+5+4+4= 34 points
5. Quebramar Xacobeo 2010 (POR, Felipe Regojo), 1+7+5+4+4+5+2+5+6= 39 points
6. Airis (ITA, Roberto Monti), 3+3+6+6+6+6+4+6+2= 42 points
7. Península Petroleum (GBR, John Bassadone), 9(OCS)+6+7+7+7+7+7+7+7= 64 points
8. Nordic Team (SWE, Magnus Olsson), 6+8+8+8+8+8+9(DNS)+8+8= 71 points

The GP42 fleet start a race. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Puerto Calero GP42 Global Cup.

GP42 Global Cup

Friday 16 October 2009

Rolex Champion of Champions

by Paul Cayard

I am here in the heart of America sailing in the Rolex US Sailing's Champions of Champions regatta. This is an annual regatta bringing together 20 nation and world champions from the USA. Each year they rotate the venue and the type of boat used. This year the boat is the Lightning. I had never sailed a Lightning before yesterday but had two great coaches to help me get familiar. The first one is part of my team, Kristine Wake and the second was regatta chairman Matt Burridge. Matt is a very experienced Lightning sailor and he took time to coach me yesterday.

The Lightning is a fairly heavy boat, very flat bottomed and wide. It has a fractional spinnaker and a fairly small upwind sail plan. It is basically underpowered. The competitors are representing classes like the Snipe (long time Star Sailor friend - Augie Diaz), Lightning, 505 World Champ (Mike Martin), Comet, Day Sailor, Finn, FJ, Geary 18, Highlander, Mercury (childhood friend of mine Chris Raab), Optimist, and many more. These sailors are all very good and very competitive and some of us have known each other for years so that makes it fun.

My good friend and Star crew Austin Sperry has joined me here and together with Kristine, we are a strong but heavy team. Not Kristine, she weighs 105 pounds. But Austin and I are big for this type of boat at 430 between us. The ideal total weight is about 470 pounds. Today it was very light wind and 46 degrees! We all sat on the wind side once for about 10 seconds. The wind was also very shifty so it was tricky and sometimes frustrating sailing - not just for us but for everyone I think. We had a lot of ups and downs in our scores. It is like a college regatta in how the scoring looks. We did have a bullet right before lunch so that was nice.

I have no idea what the scores are. We were in 8th at lunch time after four races. We did four more races after lunch for a total of 8. We are scheduled to race 20 races through Saturday 1200. We rotate boats after each race so that evens things up a bit. All the boats have new North Sails so that is very nice. Really it has been about the start and the shifts more than the speed of any boat.

Forecast for tomorrow is more of the same. Off to dinner in downtown Carlyle, population 3500.

Cayard Sailing
US Sailing's Championship of Champions

RMSR: Two's Company

Robert Scheidt and Torben Grael on board Luna Rossa. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

by Giles Pearman

The Rolex Middle Sea Race has attracted its share of characters over the years and more often than not in the double-handed division. This year is no exception and there are a number of crews embarking on the short-handed challenge including the monohulls Cambo III (GBR), Cymba (ITA), and Nemesis CredalTrust (MLT), and, the multihulls High Q1 (GER) and Silver Chiller (GER). Sailing 606 nautical miles fully crewed is a physical endeavour. Sailing the same distance with just two onboard is just as much a mental one. Invariably, the boats tend to be amongst the smallest in the fleet, so would already be at sea the longest even if fully crewed.

Two of the monohulls mentioned are racing the course double-handed for the first time. Mark Schranz and Isaac Borg, the Maltese co-skippers of Nemesis, are on a rite of passage. Amongst the more macho of the Maltese yacht-racers there seems to be a view that you have not done the Rolex Middle Sea Race properly until you have done it this way. "This has always been an ambition for me," says Schranz. "I've often been told it is something you must do. It is a challenge, but one I am looking forward to." Schranz has done the race three times and Borg, six times so both have some experience to draw on.

Nemesis is the biggest of the double-handers at 50-feet. "She is bigger than we are used to racing," says Schranz, "my other Rolex Middle Sea Races have been on a 35-footer. We are happy though, because she is solid and perfectly set up for this race. Safety is a priority for us." Schranz expects it to be strenuous, but believes mental preparation will be more important than physical. "I am very comfortable sailing with Isaac, we have known each other for 15 to 20 years. I am not so sure about the solitude of being on watch alone. I have taken the opportunity to discuss this with some of the other Maltese that have done the race this way such as Darius Godwin, Ben Stuart, John Dougall and Anthony Camilleri. This has been very useful."

Schranz says he has been studying the weather intently, "twenty times a day, I check!" he laughs. "At the moment it looks good with the wind on the side the whole way around. We will be happy reaching. If it comes on the bow it will be harder and if it gets light it will be really tough." Getting everything ready for the race has been a good experience. Schranz admits to being no good at sitting still and is never truly happy unless he is busy. With only the two of them to get the boat ready, he seems to be in heaven.

Cambo III is also on a rite of passage, but of a very different nature. Britons, Michael Clough and Steven Clough are cousins. Both aged over 60, their cumulative age is alarming for a two-handed entrant. When you add in Steven Clough is battling against cancer and is a diabetic, the enormity of the challenge ahead appears exceptional. Until you speak to them. Both Cloughs are quietly spoken and display considerable level-headedness about the race ahead. "I was aware of Steve's health problems," explains Michael, "and when he told me his was planning to bring his boat to the Med, I thought it would be fitting as cousins that we do this race together...double-handed."

"We realise we've bitten off a big chunk here," continues Michael, an International Juror on the grand prix sailing circuit. "We're both over sixty, she's a small boat and it's a tough race, it can be very tough race." Steven Clough is undoubtedly a lesson in the power of positive thinking, "I'm thoroughly looking forward to the race, although with a degree of trepidation," he remarks, "I'm feeling very fit and healthy, and very positive as well. Focussing on the race ahead has helped push my other problems to the background. The challenge of the race is something else. I've never done anything more than a couple of short races double-handed. But we've sailed together a fair bit, worked each other out and Mike's worked out the boat, so we're prepared."

Both are concerned that the local Maltese know something about this year's race that they do not. "To a man those we've spoken to in the club say we're nuts," laughs Steven, adding in the same breath that he has also detected the sense of admiration too. "The regard with which this race is held is noticeable around the island, even the guy that cut my hair. When I told him there were just two of us on the boat, the rest of his customers started clapping!"

Ambiance in the Grand Harbour Marina. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

The Cloughs are preparing for a long race. They have loaded more provisions than are strictly necessary, including large amounts of chocolate, which seems a little unfair since only Michael will be able to eat it. They expect to be at sea longer than anyone else, but have every intention of completing the course and, if conditions permit, within the time limit.

Francesco Piva and Isidoro Santececca, the Italian co-skippers of Cymba, are both on their fourth race having raced together in 2001, 2002 and 2004. In 2002, they won the double-handed division in Durlindana an X-452, so head into this race as the most experienced. Cymba is a smaller proposition than their previous steed. She is only 32-feet in length, is one of two Sunfast 3200s competing and thereby is the joint smallest monohull in the fleet. With several editions of the Roma per Due, Giraglia Rolex Cup and Round Sardinia Race under their belts, plus an ambition to compete in the Transquadra 2011/12 (a double-handed trans-Atlantic race), Piva and Santececca will be hard to beat.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race is one where it pays to take nothing for granted and to win the race first you have to finish the race. No small order racing with just two crew on board. Getting to the start line of a race such as this has often been described as a victory in itself. To cross the start line with just two on the boat takes that achievement one step further and the biggest cheers at the finish are always reserved for the double-handers, local or international.

The 2009 Rolex Middle Sea Race starts from Grand Harbour at 11.00 CEST on Saturday, 17 October.

Rolex Middle Sea Race

Bentley Genève Match Race

Bentley Genève Match Race. Image copyright Hervo.

by Laurence Clerc (abbreviated in translation)

The Société Nautique de Genève plays host to the 7th edition of the Bentley Genève Match Race from Friday 16th to Sunday 18th October. Ten of the world's best helmsmen will compete.

The skippers will hope to gain precious points to scale the match race rankings of the ISAF classification. The tenth skipper will be selected from a qualification event this weekend between Flavio Marazzi (5th in the Qindgao Olympics in the Star) and Nathalie Brugger (6th in the Qingdao Olympics in the Laser).

Image copyright Hervo.

Competitors: Bertrand Pacé (FRA); Eric Monnin (SUI); Jure Orel (SLO); Keith Swinton (AUS); Alexis Littoz (FRA); Staffan Lindberg (FIN); David Chapman (AUS); Przemek Tarnacki (POL); Jérôme Clerc (SUI); John Sheehy (IRL).

Bentley Genève Match Race

GP42 Global Cup: Roma leads the pack

On the strength of impressive 1-2-2 scores today, Filippo Faruffini's Roma 2 (ITA) has taken the lead after six races and two days of racing in the 2009 GP42 Global Championship. Led by skipper Paolo Cian (ITA), the team's consistency has paid off handsomely, with a four-point margin over new runner-up, Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP)

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

But the most movement through the ranks came from Javier Goizueta’s (ESP) Caser-Endesa (ESP), who on scores of 2-3-1 had a much-improved performance over their 7-4-2 scores of yesterday. Good starts, excellent speed, and clever positioning by this team led by skipper Juan Luiz Paez (ESP) has moved them from 6th to 3rd in the standings, just one point behind the local Canarias team.

The change in today’s performances was due mostly to the change in conditions: the first race of the day featured a brisk 16 knots, the most seen yet here in Lanzarote, and the seasoned players from the Audi MedCup were able to break free on the upwind legs with just enough margin to get to the front and stay in front of the pack after the 1.8-mile windward legs set by race manager Peter “Luigi” Reggio. On these legs the more favorable pressure and less current found on the left side of the course set just north of the airport at Playa Honda made every race a race for this corner, with those getting there first always able to lead back in the lead.

So, the chess game for control of this corner commenced right off the staring line, with those able to come off the line with pace, on time, and with the ability to hold their lane usually in good shape to get to this favored corner first. Only with the luxury of having great speed, such as that shown time and again by Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, would any step over to the right yield better positioning results.

And while their starts were better than yesterday, Roberto Monti’s Airis (ITA) still struggled a little in the conditions upwind, due in part to not having delivery yet of their new medium-condition sails long overdue by the courier used to send them here from Italy. Last report was one was located and due any moment…

Nonetheless, the slight drop in breeze to 12-14 knots by the final race gave the non-MedCup teams a little better chance, with a good start at the pin on the last race by John Bassadone’s (GBR) Peninsula Petroleum (GBR) putting them among the leaders for the first time in the series. Even in only their second day of GP42 racing, Team Nordic (SWE) is slowly chipping away at the deficits they’ve seen to the pack thusfar in the series.

Windward-leeward course racing will resume tomorrow, with yet another three races planned in a 12-race series starting at 1200 local time.

The fleet downwind. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Puerto Calero GP42 Global Cup.

Puerto Calero GP42 Global Cup
Day 2

1. Roma (ITA, Paolo Cian), 4+2+3+1+2+2= 14 points
2. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP, José María Ponce), 5+5+1+3+1+3= 18 points
3. Caser-Endesa (ESP, uan Luis Páez), 7+4+2+2+3+1= 19 points
4. Turismo Madrid (ESP, José María van der Ploeg), 2+1+4+5+5+4= 21 points
5. Quebramar Xacobeo 2010 (POR, Felipe Regojo), 1+7+5+4+4+5= 26 points
6. Airis (ITA, Roberto Monti), 3+3+6+6+6+6= 30 points
7. Península Petroleum (GBR, John Bassadone), 9(OCS)+6+7+7+7+7= 43 points
8. Nordic Team (SWE, Magnus Olsson), 6+8+8+8+8+8= 36 points

GP42 Global Cup

HSBC Premier Coastal Classic: Giant-slayers likely to keep win local

Alfa Romeo II. Supplied image.

Giant-slayers have good chance of keeping Labour Weekend race win local

by Zoe Hawkins

The international supermaxi entered in this year’s HSBC Premier Coastal Classic certainly has the waterline length to overshadow other entrants, but will she have the speed?

When Alfa Romeo II set a new race record from LA to Hawaii earlier this year, she achieved an average boatspeed of just over 16 knots.

When, back in 1996, Split Enz set the record for the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic race from Auckland to Russell, she achieved an almost identical average boatspeed of 16.3 knots.

These numbers leave the outcome in next Friday’s famous Auckland to Russell yacht race wide open for speculation, says HSBC Premier Coastal Classic spokesperson Jon Vincent.

“It could be very close. On one hand, Alfa Romeo – which already has 141 race wins to her name - has the size to deliver top performance in all conditions. But given the right conditions, a number of the multihulls can easily sustain speeds in excess of 20 knots. However, they depend on exactly the right conditions to do so.”

The last supermaxi to appear in the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic, Zana, was able to beat the existing monohull record comfortably in a time of 8 hours 29 minutes and 50 seconds, but still failed to come close to touching the overall race record – Split Enz’s best time of 7 hours 20 minutes and 51 seconds.

“What’s remarkable is that Split Enz’s record has stood for 13 years,” says Jon. “Sailing technology has changed drastically since then, yet so far our record is untouched. It goes to show how incredible the 1996 race was in terms of serving up exactly the right conditions.”

Split Enz, which has returned to the country after a number of years in Noumea, is still sailed in a very similar configuration to the 1996 race.

Start of the 2008 race. Image copyright Will Carver.

The crew of Taeping – only rivaled by Frantic Drift in racing over recent seasons - thinks that given the right conditions, they could potentially average around 17-18 knots, with bursts of 22-23 knots. Speeds that the 100 footer may well surpass.

The clash for line honours is most likely to be between the Australian supermaxi, and several other boats less than one third of her in size, including Taeping, Frantic Drift, Timber Wolf, Dirty Deeds and Attitude.

Many of the front runners have been modified since the 2008 race. Taeping, an 11.6m Grainger designed catamaran owned by Aucklander Dave Andrews, has taken line honours in the last two events, and has impressed throughout its 2009 race season. This year the boat has added half a metre to its carbon mast, plus a carbon front beam and main beam, lighter rigging, and equipment to assist with tricky night sailing.

In the race between Taeping and Split Enz, Jon Vincent sees Taeping as favoured.

“She's 5ft longer on the waterline, has a new carbon mast and beams, new sails, new rudders and is sailed exclusively by local sailors. The actual sail plan between the two boats (based on working sails) appears to be very similar. Tai Ping has a slightly more radical square head as the boys onboard believe the carbon mast can take the load. Split Enz runs an alloy rig and has very new sails but is not as radical. I'm not sure how they compare on weight but I'd guess Split Enz to be slightly heavier.”

He also explains that Split Enz has better freeboard on the bow, so may not bury as Taeping does, but that Taeping’s five foot waterline bonus may nullify that.

“Last years Coastal was unpleasant and certainly required skill but Taeping had the race to themselves really so that extra 10% wasn't needed.”

Frantic Drift, owned by Olympian Dan Slater, has trailed Taeping to the finish in the last two editions of the race, and is crewed by a line up of world class sailors: Dan, Ed Smyth, Nathan Handley and Aaron Macintosh, showing an edge over Taeping in round the buoys racing.

“With a South-Westerly of 5-10 knots we will have a chance,” says Dan.

Timberwolf. Supplied image.

Improvements to another fast tri, Timberwolf, include a new carbon rig, more sail area, and structural changes, tipped by the owner to make the boat a good 4-5% faster.

“In the right conditions [light to medium breezes and flat seas] we feel we have a good chance in our division, and in perfect conditions could be an outside chance to be first Multihull to Russell,” says owner Tim Willets.

“We have exactly zero chance against the supermaxi, because in the only conditions that she is slightly weak, we are even worse.”

Line honours victories always steal the show in terms of media coverage and attention, but there are dozens of races within races that will be closely watched within the sailing community, and competition is no less fierce.

Starting at the smallest end of the fleet, the littlest boat entered is one that considers she has the biggest task ahead.

Owned by Grey Lynn resident Rob Hielkema, Geralda is an Elliott 6.5m trailor sailor that will race with just two crew to Russell.

“If the weather plays into our hands we intend to beat some much bigger boats, and we hope to challenge the PHRF and two handed divisions,” says Rob of the boat which has been modified from its original design and has a very similar rig to a Shaw 6.5, plus a 2.4m prod to hold a generous amount of sail area.

“If the weather is not in our favour – if it’s a northeaster – then we hope not to be the last boat through the finish.”

Geralda is one of around 30 boats entered in Division 5, including the youngest skipper on the racecourse, Edwin Delaat.

The thirteen year old will race aboard the Farr 727 Crac-A-Jac, a boat which he dreamed about owning since he was four, and saved for by doing odd jobs for over three years. Edwin, who is sailing with several older and more experienced adults, but keen to call the shots, has done hundreds of miles on the water, and earned a string of qualifications, starting with a VHF Certificate earned when he was nine, and a Boatmasters Certificate. He took part in last year’s HSBC Premier Coastal Classic aboard Starlight Express, but is aware that completing such a long race in such a small boat, will be a very different experience.

Karma Police. Supplied image.

Moving on up, Division 4 is next in the size/speed bracket. Featuring a diverse range of mid sized boats, including some very competitive racers of older design, a handicap win is nearly as sought after as a win on line, and to get both is like the holy grail.

“We are in the race and I am looking for the double,” says Bob Bilkey, owner of the updated Ross 930, Drop Dead Fred, and near the top of the handicapper’s favourites for the division.

Bob wants a downwind race this year, and his competition will be No Worries, Recreation, Cool Change, and Cadibarra 6. But if it’s on the wind, then First by Farr, Roy Dickson’s Playbuoy, Oracle, Pink Cadillac, or the Stuart 34 Prism, will be favoured.

“We are consistently improving our performance with new sails, we are using a smaller main, and have a new tactician,” says Bob, of the entry which has finished every year it enters, regardless of conditions.

“Some years the Coastal is a drag race, the others it is very tactical” says owner of Pink Cadillac, Basil Orr. “You just have to sail around the inevitable wind hole that catches up with everyone else to wind. I note that there are many more boats that sail well at night now - 10 years ago most of the fleet lost ground after midnight.”

Dominating this division is last year’s winner, Roy Dickson and his boat, Playbuoy. The septuagenarian is father to Chris Dickson, and with a remarkable race career dating back over fifty years and instrumental to putting New Zealand sailing on the world map, regarded as one of the most canny sailors around. Needless to say, the crew of any boat in its size range that crosses the line ahead of Playbuoy deserve a pat on the back. Playbuoy is one of eight Stewart 34s racing, and there are also nine Young 88s, and four class-qualified Ross 930s on the entry list.

Division 3, which includes the Farr 1020s, and a selection of sloops in the 10-13m range, featured 26 entrants at the time entries closed.

Five boats top the list of handicapper’s favourites: Steve Newcombe’s Zen, the 15.23m German Frers design Iolanthe II, the Young 11 Peppermint Planet, the Young 9.4 Prawnbroker, and a new boat called Tamateatoru.

Dianne Campbell says that Tamateatoru is a new boat with a crew new to racing. 52 foot long, and weighing in at 26 tonne, and that the crew are picking up experience, rather than going for line honours.

Jon Henry, skipper of Daniade, favours Zen for line honours, but says a boat to watch is Roulette.

“Roulette hasn’t raced for years, but used to be something special. It will go upwind better than anything in a blow… Stratocaster could be a contender also, but Div 3 has a wide range of types, so handicap will come down to the conditions.”

Division 2 features around 20 boats, including the Farr 11.6 class and the Elliott 1050s.

Tom Coote owns the Elliott 10.5 Diablo, and says that in the eight years he has done the race, he has never seen such an intense build up, and that the three 1050s, Pretty Woman, High Voltage and Second Nature are now in almost identical configuration and sail area.

“Tactics will make the day in this race,” he says. “All of them are looking at us, and vice versa. It’s an exciting buildup. There’s a lot of banter at the moment, and sizing up of each other.”

But Cosmic Cruise and Cruise Control have waterline length on their rivals, and Fun n Games is a fast, very well sailed machine that can never be ruled out in this division – should her new saildrive component arrive from Italy in time for her to do the race.

Fun n Games co-owner Mark Mulcare is frustrated by the delay but favours Truxton for line honours, and Outrageious Fortune or Cruise Control, with Waka a promising entrant should the breeze be light or very strong from behind.

On handicap, he rates Second Nature, Truxton and Coppelia.

Division 1 features the big boats: Alfa Romeo is the obvious line honours contender, gear failure or extreme bad luck not withstanding.

This division also includes the new Georgia, launched last week for Auckland barrister, Jim Farmer QC. The 52-footer is a near sistership to the boat that Emirates Team New Zealand are racing so successfully in Europe, and is optimized for IRC racing.

She will be fast, but there are two things that she doesn’t have. The first is time on the water to shake out systems and get ready for battle. The other is a canting keel, as sported by the other entrants in the fifty foot category, Upshot, Ran Tan and Wired.

Many people think that Georgia will be faster than the canters, but whether that is the case depends on conditions.

Wired has been re-moded and has shown great performance over winter, and is currently warming up for the Around Australia Race in 2011. With a square topped main and code zero, if the conditions suit them, Upshot owner Bruce Copeland says he doesn’t think they will be able to get close – although they will try hard.

“We have beaten Ran Tan before, and we will be trying to do it again,” he says. “Like most boats I guess we have a great crew and although we take the racing seriously it’s just as important to us to have fun and hopefully enjoy a nice slide up the coast.”

The pair of Shaw 9’s – Deep Throttle and Karma Police - are recent entrants to the race scene. Deep Throttle is based in Kerikeri, and is jointly owned by Richard Tingey, Tony Dalbeth and Justin Ferris, who completed the last Volvo Ocean Race on Puma, whilst Karma Police is owned by the boats’ designer, Rob Shaw. The duo are lightweight, feature swing keels, and are designed for harbour and coastal racing, with the ability to go offshore. Constructed to high precision designs and specifications, these fully carbon boats are small but remarkable, and will excite all speed enthusiasts.

For the majority of entrants, most of the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic lies in the preparation. It’s no different for Janine and Ant Robinson, owners of Bullrush, who, one week prior to the race, are working furiously to replace the mast they lost in the Noumea race over winter, with a new carbon one.

“Things are slowly getting crossed off the list of things to do, the boat has had its PHRF done to accommodate the new changes, and a new Cat 1 inspection is booked… the list goes on,” says Janine.

Will Bullrush make it to the racecourse on time? Will the record be smashed? Will the powerful multihulls retain local honour, or surrender to the Australian boat? And what will be the outcome of the battles within battles that are so hotly anticipated by so many people?

Only time will tell.

The HSBC Premier Coastal Classic is the biggest coastal yacht race in New Zealand, and one of the biggest in the world. It started life 28 years ago as a drag race between Auckland and Russell for just a few boats, and over the years attracted a bigger and more diverse fleet, consisting of grand prix racers, America’s Cup boats, and small family cruisers.

Organised by the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club, it is a race designed for speed: except for at the beginning and the end of the race, there are few opportunities to use tactics to overtake, and success can often depend on getting a good tactical start.

The race can take as little as seven or eight hours for the very fastest boats, or as long as two days for the slowest boats in light conditions.

As well as welcoming back principal sponsor HSBC, the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic is supported by some of New Zealand’s pre-eminent companies: Orb, Jucy Rentals, Safety at Sea,, Harken, Donaghys Southern Ocean, Southern Pacific Inflatables, Sail NZ, Mount Gay Rum, Steinlager, Sunday Star Times, Yamaha Motors NZ, De Walt, Dirty Dog and Trade a Boat.

For those watching the race start from ashore, prime vantage points are Devonport Wharf, North Head, Orakei Wharf and the race website, which will be updated regularly with photos, commentary and radio positions throughout the race.

HSBC Premier Coastal Classic

ICAP Leopard Set to Tackle Second Leg of Historic Sailing Treble

ICAP Leopard. First to finish the Rolex Fastnet Race 2009. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

100ft super-maxi to take on world-class fleet in Rolex Middle Sea Race

by Alex Mills

ICAP Leopard, the 100ft super-maxi racing yacht owned by Helical Bar PLC Chief Executive Mike Slade, will once again take centre stage this weekend as she competes in the prestigious Rolex Middle Sea Race in Malta. Having already taken line honours in the Rolex Fastnet Race this year, the Rolex Middle Sea Race represents the second leg of a potentially historic treble, which concludes with the world-famous Rolex Sydney Hobart Race in December. No yacht has ever taken line honours in all three races in the same calendar year, but Slade and his crew have set their sights on becoming the first.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race is an annual “offshore classic” that will see a world-class fleet of 80 yachts take on a demanding 606-mile Mediterranean course, famous for its capricious winds and dangerous navigational obstacles. For owner Mike Slade, this will be his third Rolex Middle Sea Race, but the first with his record-breaking Farr-designed maxi yacht ICAP Leopard.

Mike Slade commented: “It is a joy to be back in Malta for the Rolex Middle Sea Race. The course is one of the most beautiful in the world, providing an ideal tonic for a gloomy British October! Whilst the wind is often light in this part of the world, we are hopeful that we can replicate the light airs performance that we showed in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race. We have worked hard to optimise ICAP Leopard for lighter conditions, and we believe that we are in great shape ahead of Saturday’s start.”

As usual, the crew of ICAP Leopard will feature several “rock stars” of the sailing world. Regular Volvo Ocean Race veterans Justin Slattery, Jason Carrington, and the Salter brothers are joined by Brad Jackson (Ericsson 4) and British ace Rob Greenhalgh (Puma) in a bid to secure victory in what is guaranteed to be a close tactical battle.

Jason Carrington, trimmer and crew co-ordinator, commented: “Like the Rolex Fastnet, this will be a race in which we cannot afford to ease off if we are to achieve our objective of being first boat home. The light and tactical nature of the course will mean that we are sure to come under pressure from our lighter rivals Beau Geste and Ran II. We are confident that we have the capability to win but it will require constant focus to keep the boat moving and ensure we head to Sydney with our record intact.”

ICAP Leopard Crew List – Rolex Middle Sea Race 2009:


Leopard follows in the footsteps of super-maxi yachts Ocean Leopard (1988-1999) and Leopard of London (2000-2006). Like her predecessors she is aimed towards top-level race sponsorship, day charters in the Solent and, longer term, charters in the warmer waters of the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.

Farr Yacht Design provided Leopard’s basic naval architecture and construction engineering, whilst styling and interior was designed by Ken Freivokh. The boat was built by McConaghy Boats in Sydney, Australia, with Chris Sherlock acting as owner’s representative.

Leopard 3
Rolex Middle Sea Race

Rolex Middle Sea Race: Weather Makes its Mark on Preparations

Bella Mente and Luna Rossa. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

by Giles Pearman

Twenty-three yachts from the 2009 Rolex Middle Sea Race took part in a 15 nautical-mile warm-up race on 14th October. Starting from the Royal Malta Yacht Club line off Ta' Xbiex, the fleet raced out of the confines of Marsamxett Harbour, turning south past the entrance to Grand Harbour, and down to Delimara Point at the south-east tip of Malta, before heading back to the finish off the RMYC. For a variety of reasons, not least of them the weather, this short race proved a good shakedown ahead of the main-event. The two class winners were the pro-team on Luna Rossa (ITA), with Olympic medal winners Torben Grael on tactics and Robert Scheidt on the helm, and owner/driver Arthur Podesta's more Corinthian crewed Elusive II Medbank (MLT). Luna Rossa took the overall fleet win and with it the Malta Rolex Cup.

Hap Fauth's 69-foot Bella Mente (USA) reached the halfway point of the course at Delimara just before midday, with Patrizio Bertelli's 65-foot Luna Rossa (ITA) snapping at her heels. These two top-level mini-maxis led the competition home completing the course in just over two hours. Luna Rossa proved the faster of the two on the mainly downwind homeward leg overhauling her American rival on the water to cross the finish line two-minutes ahead. Elusive was the first Class 2 boat home completing the course in three and a quarter hours, beating her closest rival, Jonathan Gambin's Ton Ton (MLT) by thirty seconds on handicap.

Luna Rossa off Malta. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

On the way down to the turning mark, the competing yachts will have enjoyed the opportunity to see some of Malta's beautiful and historic coastline, including Fort St Elmo and Fort Ricasoli on opposing sides of the entrance to Grand Harbour, and, the Rinella battery - home to the two biggest muzzle-loading guns ever built - along with the crucifix shaped Mamo Tower. However, the way home will have focussed the thoughts of all participating yachts firmly on the bigger challenge ahead.

Kevin Dingli, owner of Fekruna (MLT) must surely be the most disappointed man in Malta tonight. Having spent the last six months preparing to skipper his yacht in the Rolex Middle Sea Race for the first time, a moment of extreme weather has put him out of contention just two days from the start. "We could see the waterspout developing some way away. It was huge. It kept moving about, changing direction. At one point we gybed away from it, but it came back," explained Dingli. "It all happened so quickly. When we realised we were going to be hit, we let go sheets. Then the wind caught us. We felt as though we were being lifted up, about to be thrown over, and then the mast snapped at deck level." Dingli and his crew are understandably feeling completely flat. The relief that the incident ended without injury, is tempered by utter disappointment that the dream of taking part in the offshore race has been dashed.

The waterspout. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

For the other crews in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, this was a salutary reminder of the dangers of offshore racing. There are two days left to finish up preparations for the main event and any crew contemplating cutting a few corners will certainly be rethinking the sense in that. This area of the Mediterranean is notorious for its changeable weather conditions at this time of year. As David Franks, owner of Strait Dealer (MLT) remarks, "I've done this race five times and seen every type of weather. Sometimes at different points in the same race!"

Jonathan Gambin, Ton Ton, is taking nothing for granted. This is his second Rolex Middle Sea Race as skipper of his own yacht. Whilst a wholly Corinthian crew, his approach has a calm air of professionalism. "All in all it was a fantastic race. There was a lot of wind, but it was enjoyable and we did well. We like to compete, but we do the coastal race as a test ahead of the Rolex Middle Sea Race. If there are gear failures or problems with some of the sails we have time to put it right," explains Gambin.

Ton Ton was way ahead of Fekruna at the time of the dismasting, but saw the spout form, as Gambin describes, "we could see the whirlwind about 200-metres up [in the sky]. We thought it was not affecting the water, but it was. It swept across the sea about half a mile offshore. We thought it had passed the other boats, but unfortunately it went straight onto one of them." Gambin acknowledged that aside from the disastrous consequences for Fekruna's crew, it prompted his crew to consider what they might experience on the offshore course.

Gambin clearly believes strongly in advance preparation. He aims to have everything ready by the end of today. We left Gambin and his crew finishing making ready, including polishing the hull "for the cameras", replacing odd items of equipment and loading the remaining safety kit, provisions and water ahead of the Royal Malta Yacht Club's scrutineering inspection scheduled of tomorrow.

Another yacht taking its preparation seriously is Luna Rossa. Hardly a surprise with Torben Grael onboard. Not only does he have five Olympic medals to his name, he has taken part in two Volvo Ocean Races, winning the latest one. More used to racing over 1000s of miles, Grael might be forgiven for treating a 606 nautical-mile race as a sprint. By contrast, his Brazilian compatriot Robert Scheidt is on a steep learning curve. He is more used to short, sharp inshore races, as he comments, "it is very different from racing windward/leeward races. The Rolex Middle Sea Race will be my longest race yet. It is such a long race that you have to preserve yourself. It is not clever to go and work like a lion non-stop. It is important to do watches to get the best performance from boat and crew. We expect the long race could be decided only in the last 50 miles, so the crew needs to have the physical capacity to do their best till the end."

Whilst Scheidt understandably concentrates on his personal preparation, Antonio Marrai, Team Manager for Luna Rossa, is responsible for preparations for the race as a whole. Marrai explains, "the crew is ready to race because we have spent the season together. Ahead of a long race, though, we always have question marks about the condition of the boat and organising ourselves to sail at night. We do a good check of the boat, but we also think a lot about the watch system and getting the right mix in each one. It is too early to make a call on the weather, but we are looking at this very carefully too. Food, we plan to have fresh food for the first day, but after that freeze-dried. Most importantly though we have a few pieces of real Parmesan cheese, which really helps a lot on long races." We can't wait to find out what Scheidt and Grael think of this secret weapon in the Italian arsenal.

The 2009 Rolex Middle Sea Race starts from Grand Harbour at 11.00 CEST on Saturday, 17 October. The final prize giving is at noon on 24th October.

George David's Rambler (USA) established the current Course Record of 47 hours 55 minutes and 3 seconds in 2007.

Rolex Middle Sea Race

GP42 Global Cup: Turismo Madrid takes the early lead in Lanzarote

Through a great display of consistency not yet seen in this year's racing, Jose María van der Ploeg's (ESP) Turismo Madrid (ESP) has taken the early lead after three races in today's Day One of the 2009 GP42 Global Championship. Led by tactician Philippe Presti (FRA), the team amassed a 2-1-4 scorecard to lead Filippo Farufini's runner-up Roma 2 (ITA), driven by Paolo Cian (ITA) by two points. This is the first event of the year that Madrid has taken the lead after a day of racing

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

After a morning spent recovering from the previous evening’s performances and gracious hospitality extended by the organizers at the stunning Jameos del Agua, the day’s racing started on time at Noon in a very light 6-knot east-southeast breeze. Principal Race Officer, Peter “Luigi” Reggio, laid a modest four-lap 5-mile course in the hopes the breeze would fill to the predicted 7-11 knots.

Trouble started right off the start, as John Bassadone’s Peninsula Petroleum (GBR) and Javier Goizueta’s Caser-Endesa (ESP) did penalty turn, and Bassadone ignored an OCS call to return to restart. The boats that then went left towards the beach to stay out of the current came out ahead, but as the breeze died to as little as 4 knots on the final run it was Goncalo Esteves’ Quebramar – Xacobeo 2010 (POR) that repeated what they did to win in yesterday’s practice race: get ahead and extend.

Turismo Madrid on day one in Lanzarote. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Puerto Calero GP42 Global Cup.

This all changed in Race 2, however, as after a brief delay awaiting for something more solid a very steady easterly managed to fill to 8 and building to 10 knots by the finish. Here the more experienced teams started to shine, with the five Audi MedCup alumnists ending up taking the top five places in this race. It all started when the four black boats in the fleet - Turismo Madrid (ESP), Roma (ITA), Roberto Monti’s (ITA) Airis (ITA), and Peninsula Petroleum – all split left while the remainder of the class split right. Turismo Madrid led the left group across the right group before converging on the top mark, and never looked back despite a strong challenge made by Roma.

With a building breeze on the horizon, Reggio extended the first leg length to 1.4 miles, and just as in the previous race the start was dominated by those that were able to get and stay left. Roma led the charge off the pin end at the start and led the pack back to the right off the shoreline towards the first top mark. With the breeze building now to 14 knots and shifting 15 degrees left, Reggio shifted and lengthened the next lap to give these carbon-fibre speedsters some room to run as their speeds were climbing well up and over 10 knots offwind. Local favorites Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) got left first out of the bottom gate, allowing them to take the lead while Roma, Caser-Endesa, and Turismo Madrid remained tangled up just metres behind the leader in scenes reminiscent of the year’s previous battles for control in the MedCup.

To the delight of the assembled spectator fleet, the local Canarias team managed to hold off the pack and take their first win, a good recovery from their mediocre 5-5 start to the series.

“Today's races have been completely diferent one from the other, and difficult," said José María van der Ploeg. "I think the key was at the starts. We've been training on that since Cartagena because I think that has been one of our weak points throughout the season, and we are doing it better every time. Philippe has done a great job, he's chosen the right sides. The attitude of the whole crew has been very competitive, and we've done some risky moves and handlings but have won two races. In the last one we could have been second instead of fourth, but Caser and Roma got a puff on the last leg to pass us."

Windward-leeward course racing will resume tomorrow, with another three races planned in a 12-race series starting at 1200 local time.

Puerto Calero GP42 Global Cup
Day 1

1. Turismo Madrid (ESP, José María van der Ploeg), 2+1+4= 7 points
2. Roma (ITA, Paolo Cian), 4+2+3= 9 points
3. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP, José María Ponce), 5+5+1= 11 points
4. Airis (ITA, Roberto Monti), 3+3+6= 12 points
5. Quebramar (POR, Felipe Regojo), 1+7+5= 13 points

GP42 Global Cup

Thursday 15 October 2009

Inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia Announced

by Lou Newlands

OC Events, organisers of the award winning iShares Cup, the European Extreme 40 Sailing Series, has announced today the creation of the inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia to be staged between November 2009 and March 2010. The first year of the Asian series will include events in Hong Kong, Singapore and Oman with the possibility of a fourth venue to be confirmed, and with a plan to grow this to a six-event series by 2011/12. Bids have already been received for the future series from a number of other venues across Asia.

After the spectacular finale of the six-stage European iShares Cup circuit last weekend in Almería (Spain), five of the boats were packed up to be shipped directly to Hong Kong. Mark Turner, CEO of OC Group, which includes the Series’ organisers OC Events, declared: “The iShares Cup has been running very successfully for three years now in Europe and the Extreme Sailing Series Asia is the next step in the evolution of this exciting sailing format - a format which has become a benchmark in terms of changing the way sailing is seen. Our aim is to build this series each year on the same foundations on which the European iShares Cup has been built - a comprehensive sailing entertainment event that packages the sport to appeal to the public, media and provide experiential VIP client hospitality. For this inaugural series in Asia we won’t be focused on the public side directly, instead we will work hard on the VIP and media aspects, as we did in the early iShares Cup years. But, of course, our aspiration is to build this circuit up over the coming years to match the award-winning iShares Cup format including a strong public element.”

Each event will consist of five days of racing, combining the established format of short, easy to understand races, a media day, VIP sailing days and special events. The Extreme Sailing Series Asia Notice of Race has been issued today and the announcement of the first of the competing teams will follow imminently. Five boats have already committed to the Asian circuit, as in the first year of the iShares Cup series in Europe.

The first event in the Extreme Sailing Series Asia will take place over the 20th-24th November in Hong Kong, supported by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, to coincide with their annual ‘Around the Island Race’ on the 22nd November. With over 200 entries the Around the Island Race is Hong Kong’s largest and most inclusive sailing event. The RHKYC is well equipped to support the series given its long time presence in Hong Kong waters as the premier sailing club.

The circuit will then move on to Singapore from 11th-15th December where sailing has become synonymous with sporting excellence in the region, after multiple medal success at the Asian Games and the ISAF Youth World Championships. One of the country’s key objectives is to make Singapore a key hub for sailing competitions.

Muscat, Oman will host the third event over the 1st to 5th February just before the America’s Cup in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates, subject to the current legal dispute. The Sultanate of Oman, home to the legend of Sindbad, is known throughout the Gulf for its spectacular beauty and hospitality. The two Oman Sail boats that finished in 1st and 3rd place in the European 2009 iShares Cup, will return to the Extreme Sailing Series Asia this time with two Omani recruits from the Oman Sail Academy on board as part of the crew.

The inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia will see the same high calibre of competitors currently competing in the European circuit with Olympians, World Champions and Record Holders battling it out for victory in this new territory.

Extreme Sailing Series Asia

A Profile of Harold Bennett, Principal Race Officer of the 33rd America's Cup

Harold Bennett, PRO of the 33rd America's Cup. Supplied image.

Harold Bennett, Principal Race Officer of the 33rd America's Cup, and the quietly-spoken, kindly, man behind the initiation into the sport of several generations of New Zealand's sailors, tells Anne Hinton about how he got into sailing, youth training, race officering, got to know the AC participants (very well!), and about his other hobby, away from sailing...

N.B. This interview was carried out prior to the challenge to the RAK venue for the 33rd America's Cup.

AH: Are you, and your family, originally from the Auckland area?

HB: Yes - both my wife Robyn and I are from Murrays Bay on the North Shore.

AH: How did you get into sailing, and how old were you then?

HB: I used to hang around the beach at Murrays Bay and catch rides with the guys who had boats when I was quite young, around the 9 - 10 age I guess.

AH: What is your own sailing background?

HB: Like most kids of that era I started in the P Class and sailed Moths, Z Class, Q Class, 18Footers, OK dinghies and Keelboats. The OK was where I really became keen and represented NZ on a number of occasions at Worlds and Interdominions.

I raced on a number of Keelers on the harbour before launching my own boat that I built, an Elliott 7.9. I raced and cruised that boat for a few years before becoming fully involved in race management.

The New Zealand team at the OK Dinghy NZ Nationals in Whangarei in 1972. Harold Bennett is third from left on the bottom row, Peter Lester fifth from left on the same row, and Clive Roberts (driving force behind the foundation of the Rothmans Youth Training programme in New Zealand, whom Harold succeeded) at the left of the top row. Supplied image.

Excerpt by Harold Bennett from Completely OK, the OK dinghy book: "When I joined the class in the mid 1960s we were all learning the fundamentals of making the boats go and of course trying to sail them. I found the way we all worked together was refreshing and beneficial to all. Not only did it help our sailing at the time but it was the beginnings of some lifelong friendships not only on our own shores but overseas as well, friendships that are still very strong today."

AH: How did your interest in rallying develop, and was it alongside sailing?

HB: I have always had an interest in motorsport but never had the opportunity to try it myself. My son was rallying a Fiat 131 and we decided to build a car, but he became engrossed in his work and when it was finished I decided to play with it instead.

It was an interesting exercise taking a standard road car and building it into a rally car. It is a 1989 Toyota Celica GT4 4-wheel drive - quite a powerful car really and it can be a bit scary at times, but I just drive to my limits and have a lot of fun doing it.

Harold Bennett on the rally track in New Zealand. Supplied image.

AH: How did you get into the race officer work and also still do rallying, as they are both at weekends?

HB: I had always been interested in the Race Officer work, and after the NZ win of ’95 I was approached by Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth seeking my interest in running the Road to the America’s Cup regattas in Auckland and Wellington, and then the Cup itself. I was at that time running the Youth Programme at the RNZYS and taking a greater interest and role in the race management work for the Squadron.

Yes, they are both at weekends, but it was a matter of fitting both together and I would miss some car events with yacht race commitments but it gave me another interest to give me a break from sailing 24/7.

AH: What rallying do you do these days, and where?

HB: I still do as many events as I can, mainly Hillclimbs and Rallysprints but all in New Zealand when I get back there. The car is currently on blocks in our garage at home. I don't get any time in Europe as when I am there it is usually full on.

Harold Bennett rallying in his Toyota Celica. Supplied image.

AH: When, and why, did you join the RNZYS race management team?

HB: It was in the mid ’90s and mainly because of the America’s Cup but also as I took the role of Racing Manager at the Squadron.

AH: I believe that you had the idea for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) youth scheme. How did you get that going, and who else helped start it up?

HB: I don't take the full credit for the Squadron Youth Programme. Richard Endean and I worked some ideas into the format of that programme and I ran it. I would say that the foresight of the Flag Officers and Committee at that time certainly contributed to its existence.

AH: Why did you focus the scheme on match racing?

HB: The programme was born out of the New Zealand Challenge for the America’s Cup in Perth 1987 when we decided that a programme for youth focussed on match racing may one day provide good top class yachtsmen and women for not only Americas Cup but also all other facets of the sport. I would have to say that goal has certainly been achieved.

AH: What is your idea for the graduates of the RNZYS youth scheme in terms of their sailing development afterwards?

HB: It was to give all youths that took part a good understanding of all facets of keelboat training and racing leaving them with a start towards professional sailing which is where most of them have headed. It has also benefitted a large number of boat owners around the country as the Graduates find their way back to their clubs in those areas.

AH: Did you just get into race officering at the America's Cup level when it was held in New Zealand?

HB: Yes - it was the events there that started me off and of course that led to my role as Senior Race Officer for the 32nd AC and now Regatta Director / PRO for the 33rd AC.

AH: Can you give some a story from the the America's Cup race control side, please? And I don't just mean things like Brad saying that Alinghi were “bitterly disappointed” about not racing in no wind and the way that was misunderstood internationally - but, rather, some of the funny, or other, moments on the race committee boat that haven't yet made it into the international press, maybe...?

HB: Well the “bitterly disappointed” issue was probably one of the lighter moments for sure, and you are right that it was misunderstood as few people outside of NZ would have known the connection between us. But one incident that comes to mind was during a practice session with Team New Zealand out off the bays when alongside of the course that I had laid the Alinghi Team had set up some mile and a half away sailing the same direction and length course. The Alinghi team had started 10 – 15 minutes before we had started, and obviously they were towards the windward end of the course while Team New Zealand were near the bottom. As Alinghi had reached the top mark after the second beat the wind had shifted to the right a little making our finish line perfect for their final run.

I mentioned to my Committee that I would guarantee they will finish through our line, knowing Russell, Brad and the boys. So, while our team is near the top mark sure enough down they come with the boat Russell and Brad were on coming straight for the Committee Boat on port to gybe through the line. I alerted my gunner to load both barrels with the specially loaded shells made for noise and prepare to let it off as they came within half a length of us. As they gybed, Gerald Flynn let fly with both barrels. Watching the entire crew duck for cover on the Alinghi boat was something I will always remember. They called me 10 minutes later to thank us for the finish, and said that they were all off to change their undies!

AH: Why did you decide to move on from the RNZYS race control?

HB: I had been there for 18 years and had worked up to Assistant General Manager responsible for racing and, after the America’s Cup 2003, there appeared little to further myself with, so it was time to move on and do something else.

AH: What does being a 'yachting consultant' involve? What types of things do you do?

HB: It covers a wide range of things from coaching which I did after setting up the company but it covers Race Management, Boat show setup, Project management for building boats etc. I have overseen 3 luxury 40ft RIBs for European clients and probably anything marine related.

AH: Are you based in Valencia/Europe in the southern winter and NZ in summer now?

HB: I am currently in Valencia preparing gear and equipment for the 33rd Americas Cup, and will move to the UAE in November, but I am really based in NZ and would simply go to where there are work opportunities.

AH: How did you enjoy the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in Auckland earlier this year?

HB: I wasn’t involved in that event and was overseeing the Youth International at the Squadron, but by all accounts it was a very good event for the sport and Auckland.

AH: You will be the PRO for the next America's Cup. You obviously know both teams very well. How long have you known some of the key members of each of Alinghi and BMW ORACLE Racing, please, and in what context did you first get to know them?

HB: I have known key players from both teams since they were in junior sailing in New Zealand. I was the Manager Coach for the Youth Team all three times Russell Coutts was competing at World Youths and ran many coaching clinics that all those people attended in their youth. Murray Jones was also in two Youth Teams I led to World Youth Championships. Brad Butterworth was a little older than those guys, so I never had the opportunity to work with him as much as some of the others. I got to know Brad better when he started sailing in keelers with his match racing when I was running the youth programme, but it was in Perth where I had greater contact with him.

AH: What challenges do you expect to face from setting very long courses (20 miles) under the Deed of Gift for very fast machines, such as the massive BMW ORACLE Racing and Alinghi multihulls?

HB: With the speed that these boats do it could help with the course setup as I would expect to see different wind 20 miles away from the start and so averaging direction may become easier than if they took, say, 4 hours to get there when the wind could be from quite a different direction. We have a set area of water to fit our marks within but to be honest I don’t see too many issues in setting the courses and getting the races done. I intend to work with the competitors to ensure good fair races.

AH: Thank you very much indeed for the interview, Harold, as well as all that you have done, and are doing, for the sport and participants in sailboat racing.

Harold Bennett in action on the water. Image kindly supplied by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

With thanks, for information and images, to: Harold Bennett + Robert Deaves, Alistair Deaves and Ben Morrison of the OK dinghy association (internationally and in NZ), Barry Davies and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, staff of Yachting New Zealand and Peter Lester.

Note from SailRaceWin: Despite our best endeavours we have been unable to track down the photographers of the images included with this article. Our apologies for any consequent inadvertent copyright infringements.

... and the OK Worlds in 2010 will be held in Wellington, NZ.

Harold Bennett
OK Dinghy International Association
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
33rd America's Cup

Hardy Cup 2010: Magnificent Sydney Harbour to again host Hardy Cup

Australia's Nicky Souter chases Kiwi Adrian Short in the 2009 Hardy Cup finals. Image copyright Aline Van Haren.

by Peter Campbell

More women competitors are expected to contest the Hardy Cup 2010, the Under 25 ISAF Grade 3 Match Racing Regatta in Sydney as a result of the Elliott 6 sports boat being chosen as the yacht for the women’s match racing at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Boosting women’s interest will be the level of international racing achieved by Australian women such as Nicky Souter and Katie Spithill, with Souter and her crew last year becoming the first women’s team to reach the final of the Hardy Cup. Souter lost to a hard-fought final to New Zealand’s Adrian Short, but since then she has won the ISAF Women’s World Match Racing Championship and, for the sixth time, the Australian Championship.

The RNZYS' Adrian Short leads Nicky Souter in the 2009 Hardy Cup finals. Image copyright Aline Van Haren.

Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, currently enjoying its 148th sailing season, will host the Hardy Cup from 7-11 February 2010, immediately following the 2010 Warren Jones Regatta, also an ISAF Grade 3 event, to be sailed in Perth from 31 January to 4 February 2010.

The invitation regatta again will be sailed in the Squadron’s fleet of Elliott 6s, with the applications for an invitation closing with the Squadron Sailing Office before Friday, 6 November 2009.

The Hardy Cup Selection Committee will announce the twelve selected teams on 13 November, comprising a mix of teams from Australian and overseas yacht clubs. The Hardy Cup 2009 attracted international entries from Finland, Japan and New Zealand.

Nicole Souter (AUS) and Adrian Short (NZL) in the 2009 finals. Image copyright Aline Van Haren.

Eminent Australian yachtsman Sir James Hardy donated the Cup and since being first hosted by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in 2001 has been won by some outstanding up-and-coming match racing sailors from Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand.

RSYS member Michael Dunstan won the Hardy Cup three times before reaching the upper age limit, Evan Walker from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia won it in 2008, while New Zealand winners have been Laurie Jury, Adam Minoprio and, this year, Adrian Short. Great Britain’s Mark Campbell-James won in 2001.

Hardy Cup

Yachting New Zealand and SLAM Announce Partnership

Jez Fanstone (YNZ Olympic Programme Manager), Tom Ashley (Olympic Gold Medallist), Emma Hendy (SLAM New Zealand), Leslie Egnot (YNZ Olympic Logistics Manager) and Des Brennan (YNZ Chief Executive). Supplied image.

by Jodie Bakewell-White

Yachting New Zealand is delighted to announce a new partnership with SLAM Advanced Technology Sportswear which will see the New Zealand Sailing Team performing to their peak and looking their best in SLAM’s high performance garments.

SLAM is a company that is world renowned for their innovative and extensive development in technology of fabrics and designs, making them the perfect choice as Yachting New Zealand’s Official Clothing Supplier.

Yachting New Zealand is excited about the partnership which extends through until the 2012 Olympic Games. New Zealand’s elite sailors, campaigning towards the Olympic Sailing Regatta in Weymouth, England, will wear SLAM Advanced Technology Sportswear both on and off the water.

Meeting over the weekend in Auckland were Yachting New Zealand’s Chief Executive, Des Brennan and Olympic Programme Manager, Jez Fanstone together with SLAM’s Chief Executive, Mr Andrea Laura of Italy. New Zealand Partners for SLAM sportswear Emma Hendy and George Hendy were there to make the introductions and finalise the partnership.

“The opportunities for Yachting New Zealand and SLAM are both domestic and international,” says Des Brennan. “The New Zealand Sailing Team will wear customised sportswear reflecting the highest elements of technology and fashion.”

“SLAM is a global producer of sailing gear based in Italy, a country renowned for its world-leading designers,” says Brennan. “Yachting New Zealand competes successfully on the world stage in sailing, and this partnership with SLAM will enhance brand exposure and involve our sailors as important contributors to the design process.”

“On the domestic front, Yachting New Zealand will wear the SLAM brand. A retail line of sailing gear will be developed by SLAM bearing the ‘NZL Sailing’ brand logo. This will appropriately replicate the ‘NZL Sailing Team’ gear,” Brennan explains.

“Yachting New Zealand is delighted to be partnering with SLAM and sees a strong and mutually beneficial commercial future together.”

Also present at the weekend meeting was 2008 Olympic Gold Medallist Tom Ashley who offered to act as a conduit between the sailing team and SLAM’s technical designers.

The NZL Sailing Team will gather together soon to view and try on SLAM’s current range of gear and over time their feedback and input will contribute towards the development of a custom uniform for the team designed to meet the specific demands of Olympic class sailing.

Emma Hendy of SLAM New Zealand is also excited about the prospect of this country’s Olympic class sailors wearing their technical and casual sportswear.

“It is a huge honour for us to have been granted the opportunity to work with a prestigious organization such as Yachting New Zealand and some of New Zealand’s most elite athletes,” says Emma Hendy.

“The opportunities that have become available to both SLAM and Yachting New Zealand in relation to this partnership are extensive – we are very excited to get the design ball rolling and to start the process of creating the ultimate NZL Sailing Range”.

Olympic Programme Manager Jez Fanstone believes that, “the development of the technical gear from SLAM will add to the performance of our sailors. This partnership will enhance brand exposure and involve our sailors as important contributors to the design process.”

It is the vision of SLAM, that this ultimate sailing range will become available to fans of the New Zealand Olympic Sailing Team.

Yachting New Zealand