Saturday 24 October 2009

RMSR: Winning Is Not Everything

CAMBO III, Michael Clough - sailed with his cousin in the two-handed race and won it (as CYMBA retired after the report below was written). Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

by Giles Pearman

Two admirable feats of seamanship ended in Marsamxett Harbour in the early hours of Friday morning. The last two yachts in the 30th Rolex Middle Sea Race finally completed the 606 nautical mile course. Double-handed. Both crews have faced the adversity of a race that twenty-three fully crewed yachts were unable to cope with. The third two-handed yacht that started the race last Saturday retired on the second day. The tales from the two yachts are similar. Both crews know they have achieved; both walk away with a sense of pride. One tale ended more happily than the other, but the accomplishment outweighs any disappointment.

The two yachts concerned could not be at further ends of the competitive spectrum. Cymba was crewed by Isidoro Santececca and Francesco Piva aged 51 and 41 respectively. They have raced together for a number of years, including three previous Rolex Middle Sea Races, winning the double-handed division in 2002. Steven and Michael Clough, the co-skippers of Cambo III, are cousins aged 63 and 60. Neither has extensive experience of short-handed racing and none at all over the course of this race. Santececca and Piva were racing a Sunfast 3200, a modern yacht design suited to sailing with limited crew. The Cloughs were on board a Hunter Mystery 35, described in the yachting press as having "an air of restrained elegance that suggests docile manners." Cambo III is pretty, with classic lines. She is two-feet longer overall than Cymba, but four feet shorter on the waterline. She is also 2,500kg heavier. Not exactly a racing yacht then.

Gavin Brady (NZL) - skipper of Karl Kwok's BEAU GESTE. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

Short-handed racing is as much about the preparation and the mind-set, as it is about the execution. Ahead of the race, both crews exhibited a quiet confidence, a willingness to accept whatever was to be thrown at them and simply to get on with it. A trait particularly appealing to the Maltese. Santececca and Piva set off with thoughts in mind of competing in the 2011 Transquadra, a 2,700 nautical mile from Madeira to Martinique. The Cloughs just hoped to get around the track and preferably inside the time limit. The weather and sea conditions faced by the smaller yachts have been well described already. That a third of the fleet failed to complete the race, most retiring within the first thirty-six hours, puts the achievement of these Italian and British crews into better perspective.

On board BEAU GESTE. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

For much of the race the two yachts were locked together, fighting out a duel in traditional style, 'mano-a-mano'. Cymba led at Capo Passero by 25-minutes. Cambo III had reversed that deficit by Messina and extended their on-water lead by Stromboli to over an hour. At Favignana the split was back to 25-minutes in favour of the British. Neither crew was aware that by this stage their contest within the context of the Rolex Middle Sea Race had effectively ended. The crew of Cymba explained, "The beat was very tough between Stromboli and Favignana. This boat is better at downwind sailing and reaching rather than upwind. We were having real problems with the mainsail. Some of the race we had to do with three reefs and part of the race without a main at all. We tried to repair it, but this was very difficult." Cymba's mistake, which seems entirely understandable given the conditions and their situation, was to pass inside one of the Aeolian Islands in b reach of the Sailing Instructions. "We made a genuine mistake and have officially retired because we did not want to be disqualified." The crew walk away heads held high, "for us it makes no difference; it was important to finish the race. It has not left a bitter taste in our mouths. We are here, that is important, and we feel like winners."

The Cloughs indicated that they had almost made the same error. Seeking some shelter in the lee of Alicudi looked to be a good option until a last-minute check of the course reminded them of the correct route.

Racing on, oblivious of the fatal error by Cymba, the two crews arrived at Pantelleria 10-minutes apart. The Italians back in the lead. Both Cambo III's autopilots chose this moment to pack up adding further stress to her crew's situation. "We were struggling. The tiller is heavy and it is really heavy in a lot of wind. Once past Pantelleria I kept her as close to the wind as I could to keep a lot of weight off and ease the main to try and balance her as best I could, but I was exhausted, absolutely exhausted." Steve took over and did the night shift allowing Michael to recover.

By Lampedusa, the Cloughs had seemingly worked a miracle, had overcome their issue with the autopilots and found themselves ahead by over an hour again, as Michael explained, "we thought Cymba would be well ahead of us because she had been going faster when we last saw her. By chance I checked the fleet tracker and saw we were ahead. We didn't believe it possible. Steve had done a magnificent job overnight" Sadly the elation was short-lived.

Stromboliccio. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

Just after midnight, early in the morning on 22 October the Cloughs reached their lowest point in the race, as Steven explained, "there was a heck of a bang, it was night time and it took us a little while to work out that one of the jumpers [supporting the mast] had gone. We thought through the options and decided continue as gently as we could. We had time and were determined to finish this race. We think we were fortunate that we were never on starboard tack."

"There were only two of us, we were hand-steering and the rig was in trouble. Once we dismissed the idea of retiring we started thinking about right sail plan. We triple reefed the main and put up the storm jib for a while."

Michael explained how they believed if they could make sure that pressure on the mast was limited to below the lower set of spreaders the mast would survive. Keeping boat speed beneath 4-knots would seem an anathema to a racing crew, but this was about protecting the rig and completing the remaining 100 nautical miles of the race. The de-powering reached the ultimate on the last stretch from Comino Channel. "Bare poles and over five knots of boat speed for over three-quarters of an hour. I've never done that before!" laughed Steven. "The key to making it was reigning ourselves in. We were both in race mode by now and had to keep telling each other to back off."

Rolex Middle Sea Race fleet passing Stromboli. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

Both crews were relieved to reach the finish. Unsurprisingly, Cymba did so twelve hours ahead of Cambo III. It was a cracking race between the pair, certainly until Lampedusa, and one that has enthralled those watching on shore as much as the battles towards the front of the fleet. Steven Clough who is facing tougher battles in his life summed up the adventure, "it's been emotional, it's been tough, but it's been rewarding." Tomorrow the Cloughs will be awarded the trophy as winners of the double-handed division. That there was some luck on their part and some misfortune on the part of others is true. Unquestionably, though, they are worthy.

69 yachts representing twenty nations started the race.

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

Menacing weather the day before the race in Grand Harbour. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

The prize giving will be held at the Sacra Infermeria, in the Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta, on Saturday, 24 October.

Results - IRC Class 1 (top 5 places)
Boat Name Boat Type Class TCC Elapsed Time Corrected Time Pos
ALEGRE Mills 68 Class 1 1.527 d2 h7 m3 s30 d3 h12 m4 s26 1
BEAU GESTE IRC Racer Class 1 1.625 d2 h3 m58 s35 d3 h12 m27 s41 2
LUNA ROSSA STP 65 Class 1 1.525 d2 h8 m3 s28 d3 h13 m29 s17 3
RAN Mini Maxi - IRC 72 Class 1 1.562 d2 h7 m25 s36 d3 h14 m34 s35 4
ICAP LEOPARD Farr 100 Class 1 1.881 d2 h0 m29 s33 d3 h19 m12 s51 5

Results - IRC Class 2 (top 5 places)
NIKATA 82S Class 2 1.394 d3 h5 m43 s8 d4 h12 m20 s24 1
CALIPSO 4 Cookson 50 Class 2 1.375 d3 h6 m53 s47 d4 h12 m28 s57 2
TONNERRE DE BRESKENS 3 KER 46 Class 2 1.243 d3 h18 m46 s18 d4 h16 m49 s45 3
NIX X-612 Class 2 1.237 d3 h20 m54 s18 d4 h18 m55 s24 4
SHAMBALA Latini 52 R (Felci) Class 2 1.245 d3 h21 m40 s41 d4 h20 m37 s45 5

Results - IRC Class 3 (top 5 places)
ELUSIVE 2 MEDBANK Beneteau First 45 Class 3 1.116 d4 h0 m54 s16 d4 h12 m8 s43 1
FEVER Swan 45 Class 3 1.182 d3 h20 m43 s28 d4 h13 m36 s1 2
COMANCHE RAIDER II GASAN MAMO Racer Class 3 1.153 d4 h0 m20 s9 d4 h15 m4 s30 3
AMPLIFON WANDERLUST COMET 45 S Class 3 1.163 d4 h0 m52 s41 d4 h16 m40 s9 4
VIKESHA X-41 Class 3 1.122 d4 h4 m35 s39 d4 h16 m51 s59 5

Results - IRC Class 4 (top 5 places)
VELADO' Sun Fast 40 Class 4 1.031 d4 h6 m24 s31 d4 h9 m34 s59 1
THREE SISTERS First 40,7 Class 4 1.07 d4 h3 m27 s20 d4 h10 m25 s2 2
ARTIE J109 Class 4 1.044 d4 h6 m21 s24 d4 h10 m51 s37 3
ALBA BLU First 40.7 Class 4 1.06 d4 h5 m8 s22 d4 h11 m12 s28 4
SEAWOLF OF SOUTHAMPTON Pronavia 38 Class 4 1.046 d4 h6 m30 s50 d4 h11 m13 s46 5

Rolex Middle Sea Race

2009 Rolex Osprey Cup, Day 2: Racing with Hammerheads

Holding position in the pre-start (Anna Tunnicliffe, Hull #7). Image copyright Renee Athey.

by Anna Tunnicliffe

We have just finished racing on day two of the Rolex Osprey Cup in St. Pete, FL. We had eight races today (Thursday) and won them all. To add to our record from yesterday, we are now 15-0, and leading the event half way through the second round robin.

This morning we wrapped up the first round robin with two good races against Anne-Claire Le Berre from France and Karin Hagstrom from Sweden. Once we finished that round, we completed two more races before we came in for lunch. After lunch, we had a great race with Gulia Conti from Italy. We had a close first beat after being about even off the line. We were on the left and she was on the right. We were slightly ahead up the beat, managing to leebow her the whole way and lead her into the mark. On a close downwind leg, we managed to retain the lead. On the second upwind leg, we again had some close tacks, but extended our lead by another boat length to hold on for the win. It was our closest race of the day, and a great way to re-establish the flow after lunch.

The next three races were held in changing winds. The wind was increasing for some of the time and decreasing at other times, which made for challenging and choppy conditions. It was a fun day, that kept everyone on their toes. We also saw some sea life between races today, including a couple of hammerhead sharks.

Friday we will finish the last three races of the second round robin before we advance on to the next round.

Results to the end of the first day (i.e. the day before this report) were:

Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) 7-0
Karin Hagström (SWE) 6-1
Samantha Osborne (NZL) 5-2
Giulia Conti (ITA) 5-2
Anne-Claire Le Berre (FRA) 5-2
Katy Lovell (USA) 3-4
Jo Ann Fisher (USA) 2-5
Jen Provan (CAN) 2-5
Lisa Ross (CAN) 0-7
Rachael Silverstein (USA) 0-7

Anna Tunnicliffe
2009 Rolex Osprey Cup

TJV: Yves Parlier to join Pachi Rivero for the Transat Jacques Vabre

Pachi Rivero and Yves Parlier announce their joint participation in the 2009 TJV, as part of the preparation for the Barcelona World Race. Image copyright Yvann Zedda.

The esteemed French offshore sailor will be sailing on board the Barcelona Foundation for Ocean Sailing Racing Team entry 1876

Rivero: "Yves Parlier is a legend in the sailing world"

by Daniel Ferrando

Renowned French offshore sailor Yves Parlier is set to join Pachi Rivero for the Transat Jaques Vabre on board 1876 (the IMOCA Open 60 Estrella Damm in the Barcelona World Race), one of the Barcelona Foundation for Ocean Sailing (FNOB) entries. Parlier is joining the project solely for this transoceanic race, the most important in this year's IMOCA calendar, with 14 monohull entries registered.

With just over two weeks until the start of the Transat Jaques Vabre the team is working on the final preparations to get everything into optimum shape for the Le Havre start on November 8th: "The shore team has done a fantastic job in Lorient over the past few weeks," explained Rivero. "The boat has undergone a great refit and now we have two weeks ahead to get to one hundred percent for the start".

Parlier's presence on board 1876 for the Transat Jaques Vabre will also play a big role in the development and preparation of the boat and the team with a view to the Barcelona World Race 2010. With Pachi Rivero and Yves Parlier on board, the FNOB team entry boasts two experts in offshore racing technology.

The name Parlier is synonymous with innovative technology and sporting spirit and Pachi Rivero has revealed that he is thrilled to welcome the Frenchman as fellow team member for the Transat Jaques Vabre: "Yves is a legend in the sailing world and a great person, as well as an amazing skipper". Parlier's extensive CV features not only two victories in the Transat Jaques Vabre, but also victories such as the Mini Transat, the Solitaire du Figaro, the Fastnet, The Transat, the Route du Café, the Route du Rhum and the record for a solitary 24 hour run, set in 2006.

Yves Parlier is delighted with the project and is not at all concerned by the relatively limited amount of time left to get to know the boat, and has full confidence in Pachi Rivero: "Pachi knows the boat inside out. He is a great sailor and skipper, we get on very well and I'm sure we'll have a very good race together".

The 1876 Sailing Team

Pachi Rivero and Yves Parlier will be sailing together in the Transat Jacques Vabre. Their main objective is to continue the process of preparation and development for the Barcelona World Race 2010. Estrella Damm will be competing as 1876 in the Transat Jaques Vabre. Both skippers are taking on this great challenge filled with a wealth of experience and sailing technical knowledge behind them.

The Transat Jacques Vabre 2009

The Transat Jacques Vabre, a double-handed race, is one of the most important dates in the IMOCA Open 60 class calendar. Since it was created in 1993, the race has followed the historical coffee routes between the French port of Le Havre and different American ports such as Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) and Salvador de Bahia (Brazil), flying the flag for sustainable development. In the ninth edition of the race, the regatta will set course for a new extraordinary destination with a rich coffee tradition, Puerto Limon in Costa Rica.

The Barcelona Foundation for Ocean Sailing (FNOB) Racing Team

The Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona (FNOB) aims to foster knowledge in the area of maritime culture, helping to position offshore top-level competitive sailing in Spain at the level that corresponds to a country with a rich sailing history. In order to achieve its mission, the Foundation links the business world with offshore sailing competition projects, offering sponsors a 'finished package'. The 'turn-key' projects offered by the Foundation include a boat with the latest technical features, a top-level professional crew and a full technical and sporting programme.

The Barcelona Foundation for Ocean Sailing (FNOB) Racing Team
Transat Jacques Vabre
Barcelona World Race

HSBC Premier Coastal Classic: Historic Race Record Tumbles

Alfa Romeo sails majestically into Russell after establishing a new course record in the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic 2009. Supplied image.

by Zoe Hawkins

At 4.43pm today, Friday 23 October, the supermaxi Alfa Romeo set HSBC Premier Coastal Classic history when she crossed the finish line to set a new race record of 6 hours, 43 minutes and 32 seconds.

Starting at Devonport Wharf in Auckland, and finishing at Russell Wharf in the romantic Bay of Island township, the boat wiped more than 36 minutes off the 13-year old record held by the pink multihull Split Enz, achieving an average speed of 17.9 knots on the course.

Start of the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic. Image copyright Zoe Hawkins.

The 30m boat owned by New Zealander Neville Crichton, has already accumulated 142 line honours victories, and is visiting New Zealand for the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic.

Apart from a very early challenge put on by the 9m trimaran, Timberwolf, the supermaxi commanded a lead from very early on, taking advantage of the strong South West conditions to stretch her legs and power up the coast, reaching Flat Rock soon after 11am, about 15 minutes inside record time, and the Hen and Chicken Islands at around 1.30pm, 25 minutes inside record time. By the time they rounded Cape Brett the boat was an astonishing predicted 80 minutes ahead of the time she needed to set history.

HSBC Premier Coastal Classic race start. Supplied image.

She reached the last milestone, at approximately 3pm, passing inside the infamous ‘Hole in the Rock’, where she slowed down briefly, dropped from a Jib Top and Staysail down to a Jib, and two-sailed into the Bay doing speeds of around 12 knots.

Taeping was the next boat to Russell, fighting off X-Factor and pushing hard to have her own chance at beating the 1996 record, but finishing just outside the time to beat.

Conditions have been nearly perfect for the fleet of more than 200 boats, most of which will finish overnight, making way for the handicap winners to be determined.

Start of the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic. Image copyright Zoe Hawkins.

“Congratulations to the winners,” says John Barclay, Head of Personal Financial Services HSBC New Zealand. “This is a very difficult event, and the sailors have participated in a long and arduous race. To be able to succeed in the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic demonstrates great seamanship, courage and perseverance, so well done to all who took part this year.”

“My team and I have enjoyed the community spirit here in Russell and the chance to meet participants and supporters of the event.” says John Barclay, Head of Personal Financial Services HSBC New Zealand. “We are delighted to be able to bring the New Zealand yachting community together with this significant event - the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic.”

Just after the start of the 2009 HSBC Premier Coastal Classic race start. Supplied image.

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.

Alfa Romeo and other competitors at the race start on the Waitemata, Auckland. Supplied image.

As well as welcoming back principal sponsor HSBC, the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic is supported by some of New Zealand’s pre-eminent marine 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.

Hundreds watched the start from Devonport Wharf, North Head, Orakei Wharf.

HSBC Premier Coastal Classic

RPNYC lunch with Brad Butterworth

by Jodie Bakewell-White

Brad Butterworth from Alinghi will be in Wellington on 12th November to be guest speaker at a lunch organised by Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club. All proceeds from the lunch will go towards the Wellington Spirit Yacht Racing Team, a new Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club initiative providing a vehicle for Wellington sailors to take on the world.

Butterworth is skipper of the Alinghi team currently preparing to sail a 90 foot catamaran against the BMW Oracle trimaran in the 33rd edition of the America's Cup.

The lunch is being held in the Chaffers Dock Atrium, 1 Herd Street with catering by Martin Bosley's Yacht Club Restaurant. The cost of the lunch is $100 per head or $900 for a table of ten.

For instructions on how to purchase a ticket visit

The lunch will be followed by an opportunity for young sailors form Wellington to meet Brad Butterworth. All youth and junior sailors from all Wellington Yacht Clubs are invited to come and meet Brad in the RPNYC Wardroom from 3.45pm to 4.45pm.

Yachting New Zealand
Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club

Thursday 22 October 2009

RMSR: Winners Emerge

Capo San Vito COMANCHE RAIDER II GASAN MAMO Owner/Skipper: Jonas Diamantino. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

by Giles Pearman

Without doubt the most productive finish line watch duty at this year's Rolex Middle Sea Race was from 11.30 to 15.30 on Wednesday. Royal Malta Yacht Club watchkeepers, Clive and Mary Chipperfield, witnessed eleven yachts complete the course, equalling the number that arrived over the whole of Monday and Tuesday. The total number of finishers by 17.30 was thirty-seven, with one more through the Comino Channel and on the home stretch. An exciting day which saw Andy Soriano's Alegre (GBR) confirmed as Overall Winner of the 30th Rolex Middle Sea Race and David Franks' Strait Dealer, skippered by David Anastasi, taking the trophy for first Maltese boat home on the water. A number of class trophies were decided, but with eight yachts still to finish there are one or two still in the balance.

Malta woke to a windless, clear sky with some mild humidity. A nice start to the day for a tourist, but not a good situation if you are clawing your way along the northern coast of Malta rather hoping to wrap a class victory with a fast finish. Klaus Diederich's and Grant Gordon's Swan 45 Fever (GBR) found itself in just this situation at sunrise this morning. The international crew including notables such as Andy Beadsworth, Gary Barron, Wouter Verbraak and Tony Rey really had to work to squeeze their steed over the line. In the end, the effort was not enough and currently Arthur Podesta and Elusive II Medbank (MLT) sit atop Class 3.

Co-owners Gordon and Diederich had enjoyed the race, as Diederich remarked, "the reach up to Messina was a fantastic experience. We were absolutely flying, touching 22 knots, it is the fastest we have ever been in the boat." Gordon was in full agreement, "there are few Swan 45s that venture offshore but we love it. You get a totally different atmosphere to short course racing. The scenery for this race is also spectacular which adds to a great experience."

ELUSIVE 2 MEDBANK and HOOLIGAN VI entering Marsamxett Harbour. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

After rounding Stromboli, Fever had encountered severe weather conditions as Olympic competitor and America's Cup sailor, Andy Beadsworth explained, "the sail plan of a Swan 45 is not really designed for offshore racing, let alone 40 knots of wind, and we were forced to drop the main and deploy the storm try-sail. During the race, we used every sail on the boat, except for the storm jib."

'We built up a significant lead around the top of Sicily," commented Volvo Ocean Race navigator, Wouter Verbraak. "But we completely ran out of breeze at Pantelleria and could only watch as the competition came from behind. However, after passing Lampedusa, we made a move to the left of the course and probably made a gain bigger than the loss at Pantelleria."

The big noise of the morning, after the name of Alegre was stamped on the Rolex Middle Sea Race trophy, was the arrival of Strait Dealer. Another epic adventure that ended with a patience-sapping finish. One that was worth it though for owner David Franks, who was probably on his last lap of the racecourse. Franks was delighted to be back and to secure the prize of first Maltese boat home on the water, despite enduring some difficult times, "we had a good crew and I enjoyed the race very much. There were some very tough points, but we didn't break too many things and we didn't lose too many things. We got tangled up in a lobster pot and went through an ice storm. I've never had such a cold Rolex Middle Sea Race and this is my seventh."

"The crew held up very well, David Anastasi had a lot on and did extremely well. Strait Dealer is a very wet boat, but everyone just got on with it," continued Franks, who finished with some praise for the organisers. "This is a most fantastic race. It is so well organised, it's so exciting, so many great boats come along, it's very competitive and to top it all there's a good social programme before and after."

Skipper David Anastasi was pleased too, but admitted that their ambition had been to win first Maltese boat on handicap. Strait Dealer does better downwind than upwind and with more of her race being into wind, she was always going to be hard pressed to secure that prize and, indeed, tonight it is held by Artie. "We had a really good race up to Messina in conditions that the boat loves. From then on the wind was on the nose, which is very hard for us. Everything went well, the crew worked well together including the younger ones such as Sean Borg, Darren Cauchi and Alan Tabone." Anastasi admitted that the biggest problem had been eating, even freezer-dried food that needs just boiled water adding to it, "the conditions were so bad, and it was practically impossible to cook since there was just too much going on below."

Tactician, Nigel King, a veteran of the 2001 Volvo Ocean Race was also relieved to be back in one piece, "it was probably the toughest Rolex Middle Sea Race I've ever done. Quite a lot of storms came through, with squally showers. The guys had to work really hard to keep the boat moving. The most difficult bit was once we got round Stromboli. There were lots of squalls and showers and storms coming through. Lots of sail changes and fighting the occasional fire when they came a bit quicker that you expected. It was very hard at night because there was complete loss of visibility and it was much harder seeing the wind that's coming. You've got to be a bit more pre-emptive in getting things done. The Mediterranean's famous for days like that though."

Other finishers today included Piet Vroon's Tonnerre de Breskens III (NED), Sonke Stein's BOV Kerisma (GER), Jonas Diamantino's Comanche Raider Gasan Mamo (MLT), Edward Broadway's Hooligan VI (GBR), Peter Hopp's and Hilary Cook's Nisida (GBR), Fillippo Lancelotti's Sciara (ITA) and, of course, Elusive II.

Elusive II crossed the line at midday, all but four days after starting the race in Grand Harbour. Her arrival was smoother than the early birds. The wind had built over the day and whilst the leg from Comino to the finish was a beat, at least there was something to power the boats. Podesta has now completed thirty races. An unparalleled record and one unlikely to be matched for many years. His enthusiasm for the race continues to shine through, even when he has been in a battle, "this was as tough as the 2007 race, though perhaps not as treacherous. We hit our first major squall after Capo Passero and suffered an enormous broach. We recovered. eventually. and continued pushing forward. We had another enormous squall at Stromboli and then, all the way to Palermo, we had squalls every two or three hours. That made the race most tiring." As reported by Maya Podesta during the race, much of the problem weather occurred during the pitch black of a moonless night and Podest a senior confirmed the added peril of hail and temperature loss referred to earlier by Franks.

A couple of hours after the finish and a good meal later, Podesta laughingly confirmed that he would be returning next year.

Five hours after Elusive, we saw the tightest finish to date as four yachts entered Marsamxett Harbour within a few minutes of each other. .Lee Satariano's Artie (MLT) led the charge, followed three minutes later by Sandro Musu's Aziza (MLT) and Antonio Fava's Velado (ITA), separated by half a tack and five-seconds. About as exciting as it gets after 606 nautical miles of racing. Sneaking in just before press time to grab their piece of the limelight was Seawolf of Southampton (GIB). Eight yachts remain on the racetrack including the two double-handers who appear to be match-racing their way to Lampedusa and will probably continue to do so to the finish.

69 yachts representing twenty nations started the race.

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

The prize giving will be held at the Sacra Infermeria, Valletta, on Saturday, 24 October.

Rolex Middle Sea Race

2009 Yachting Excellence Awards

Adam Minoprio and BlackMatch Racing, New Zealand's ISAF #1 ranked match racers, lead Eric Monnin and his Swiss team in the semi-finals in the Bermuda Gold Cup. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

by Jodie Bakewell-White

The Yachting Excellence Awards for 2009 will be presented on Friday 20th November at a gala dinner ceremony at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Tickets are on sale now – click here for an order form.

Since the earlier announcement of finalist nominees and awardees, further nominations have been ratified by the judging panel.

Yachting New Zealand Merit Awards
(in addition to those already announced – see below for a full list)
Tony Mutter - Ocean Racing
Dave Endean - Ocean Racing
Phil Jameson - Ocean Racing
Karl Purdie – OK Dinghy Class
Neville Crichton – Offshore and Coastal Racing

Awards will be presented in the following categories...

Sailor of the Year Award and Sir Bernard Fergusson Trophy – recognising achievements including design and/or building of boats, administration services, outstanding examples of sailing ability in the competitive sphere, seamanship or sportsmanship, and services in the promotion and encouragement of participation in our sport
Young Sailor of the Year Award – recognising outstanding competitive sailing performance for those aged under 20 in the year of the Award
Yachting New Zealand Honour Awards – to recognise outstanding sportsmanship or rescue of other persons, or outstanding services to yachting in New Zealand at club, regional, national or international level rendered by any person, club, vessel, corporate body or company
Yachting New Zealand Merit Awards – to recognise acts or services including the design and building of boats, administration services, outstanding examples of sailing ability, seamanship or sportsmanship, and promotion and encouragement of participation in our sport.
Yachting New Zealand Cruising Awards – recognising an outstanding non-competitive voyage or cruise under power or sail, or outstanding services to cruising
Yachting New Zealand President's Award - to recognise the work done by a yacht club, or class association affiliated to Yachting New Zealand in promoting, supporting or developing the interests of yachting in New Zealand

Singapore Airlines Sailor of the Year Finalists
BlackMatch Racing Team – Match Racing
Brad Jackson and Stu Bannatyne – Ocean Racing
Mark Perrow – OK Dinghy Class
Michael Bullot – Olympic Laser Class
Bianca Barbarich Bacher and Alexandra Maloney – 420 Class
Blair Tuke – Olympic 49er and 29er Class
Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk – Olympic Star Class

Young Sailor of the Year Finalists
Declan Burn – Splash Class
Finn Drummond and Francisco Lardies – 420 Class
Paul Snow-Hansen and Jason Saunders – Olympic 470 Class
Sam Meech – Laser Class
Bucklands Beach Yacht Club Team Racing Team – Youth Teams Racing
2009 New Zealand 420 Worlds Team
2009 New Zealand Splash Worlds Team
Bianca Barbarich-Bacher and Alexandra Maloney – 420 Class
Blair Tuke – Olympic 49er and 29er Class

Yachting New Zealand Merit Awards
Michael Bullot – Olympic Laser Class
Emirates Team New Zealand – Louis Vuitton Pacific Series and Audi MedCup
NZB2 Blind Sailing Crew - Blind Sailing
Roger Pagani and crew – International BMW Sailing Cup
Reuben Corbett and crew - Teams Racing
Thomas Saunders – Starling Class
Bucklands Beach Yacht Club Team Racing Team - Youth Teams Racing
2009 New Zealand 420 Worlds Team
2009 New Zealand Splash Worlds Team
Blair Tuke - Olympic 49er and 29er Class
Sam Meech – Laser Class
Adam Minoprio - Match Racing
Brad Jackson and Stu Bannatyne – Ocean Racing
Mark Perrow – OK Dinghy Class
Bianca Barbarich-Bacher and Alex Maloney – 420 Class
Declan Burn – Splash Class
Finn Drummond and Francisco Lardies – 420 Class
Paul Snow-Hansen and Jason Saunders – Olympic 470 Class
Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk - Olympic Star Class
Tony Mutter - Ocean Racing
David Endean - Ocean Racing
Phil Jameson - Ocean Racing
Karl Purdie - OK Dinghy Class
Neville Crichton - Offshore & Coastal Racing

Yachting New Zealand Honour Awards
Neville England - Christchurch Sailing Club
Bryan Robson Leckie (deceased)- Waihola Yacht Club
Brian Peet - Glendowie Boating Club
Ross Currie – For Coastal Rescue Efforts (Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club)
Gary Smith - For Coastal Rescue Efforts (Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club)
Greg Harrex - Macandrew Bay Boating Club
John Bullot – Murrays Bay Sailing Club & Richmond Yacht Club
Jon Olds – Timaru Yacht & Powerboat Club
Judy Francis – Muritai Yacht Club
Justin Hurst - Waiuku Yacht Club
Terry Coles - Wanganui Sailing Club
Trevor Hawke – Wanaka Yacht & Powerboat Club
Vera Mummery - Richmond Yacht Club
Bill Mitchinson - Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club
John Buck - Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club
Kevin Whitehead – Wakatere Boating Club
Graham Catley - Auckland Sailing Club

President’s Award Finalists
Team New Zealand 2000 Trust
Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club
Napier Sailing Club
Queen Charlotte Yacht Club
Wairoa Yacht Club

In the Honour Awards category, Neville England of Christchurch has been added to the published list. Neville’s name was intentionally omitted in the previous issue in order to surprise him with an early presentation of his certificate in Christchurch. Read more about this in the story below.

Yachting New Zealand

Neville England: Obituary

Des Brennan presents Neville England his 2009 Honour Award. Supplied image.

by Jodie Bakewell-White

Neville England was presented with a Yachting New Zealand Honour Award by YNZ Chief Executive Des Brennan at the Christchurch Yacht Club on Friday 9th October.

The Award was kept under wraps, intentionally excluded from the recent Awards announcement, in order for it to be a surprise. Over 100 of his friends gathered to celebrate the Award with him.

Neville Passed away Monday morning 19th October at Christchurch Hospital at the age of 57 years. His funeral will be held at 1.45pm Friday 23rd October at St Andrew’s Church, Rangi Ruru School, Merivale Lane, Merivale Christchurch.

Neville’s involvement and contribution to the sport of yachting over the years has been enormous, continuing with coaching and official positions through until very recently. Tributes and memories have flooded in from the yachting community around New Zealand.

Together with his brother Garry, Neville won the prestigious Junior Cherubs Nationals in 1970 and ’71 in their yacht Rana, sail number 1250. Firstly progressing into the Javelin class, of which his father Hugh was a former National Champion, Neville graduated into the Olympic 470 sailing again with brother Garry.

In 1975 Andy Knowles who placed second in the Olympic trials was without a crew for the pre Olympics in Kingston and the 470 Worlds in Rochester, New York. Neville crewed for Andy in this “no budget” overseas campaign.

Neville continued to sail with brother Garry for a few years, and then encouraged Leslie Egnot into the 470 enticing her with a spot in his brand new boat with Garry. “Without Neville giving me that opportunity I may never have sailed the 470,” says Leslie in retrospect, acknowledging that Neville was instrumental in her transition from the P Class to the 470. Neville then sailed with Jenny Egnot for a short period.

In 1980 Neville and Ian Douglas won the Fireball Nationals and the right to represent New Zealand at the Fireball Worlds in South Africa; this they didn’t due to apartheid issues at the time.

Neville was extremely proud of the sailors he mentored and coached through their early days, including those that went on to represent New Zealand such as Leslie and Jenny Egnot, Shelley Hesson and Mark Milburn.

He also taught his four children to sail, who all remain involved in the sport today. Murray represented New Zealand in the 420 and 18 footer classes, Jacqui is keelboat sailing in Auckland and Geoffrey and Paula are keen Laser sailors.

Neville was a life member of the Christchurch Yacht Club, having served on the Club Committee, and also held the position of Youth Chairman for the Canterbury Yachting Association. He was presented a Yachting New Zealand Regatta Coach certificate in September this year, and he also recently accepted a position on the Yachting New Zealand Junior Classes Committee.

At the recent gathering Neville’s wife Ruth was presented a bouquet of flowers in appreciation of her support to the many visiting sailors billetted at their McCormack Bay home over the years. Ruth is the Secretary of the Canterbury Laser Fleet Association and on the Laser Nationals organising committee.

Neville was looking forward to his eldest daughter Jacqui's wedding on the 5th November in Christchurch, watching Murray sail an 18 footer in Auckland and watching Paula at the Laser Nationals in January. He is survived by wife Ruth and his four children Jacqui, Murray and Geoffrey who live in Auckland and Paula who is attending Otago University.

“Neville has been a great supporter of yachting in Otago for many years. When he ran coaching clinics the kids got more than 100% from them. Even lunchtimes were spent debriefing the morning's efforts.

"On a more personal level we have got to know Neville and Ruth and their family as good friends. They have been very supportive over the years to our daughters, Stacey and Alayne and Alayne spent many weekend as 'another daughter' when she was sailing in her late teens.”
Sue and Vern Hall

“Please pass on Otago's appreciation for the help and support he has given us. I personally would have been still struggling without the great support and advice he has given me over the years. Many thanks from me to him.”
Greg Harrex & Otago Sailing Development

Yachting New Zealand

LV Trophy: Preparations Gather Pace for Louis Vuitton Trophy - Nice

by Keith Taylor

With two weeks to go until the eight teams are scheduled to assemble for practice sailing in Nice, preparations for the first Louis Vuitton Trophy regatta are gathering pace.

The facilities in Nice are being readied, the race boats are being tested, equalised and prepared for racing, and some of the teams spent some time on ACC yachts last week, working out the kinks ahead of the first race day, November 7.

In Valencia, the site of the last America’s Cup where several teams still maintain a base of operations, the four ACC boats that will be used for the racing in Nice have been set-up for the November regatta.

On Tuesday afternoon, two of the boats, GBR 75 (provided by TeamOrigin) and FRA 93 (provided by ALL4ONE - previously known as K-Challenge) arrived in Nice under tow, following a 400-plus nautical mile journey up the Mediterranean coast.

“It’s great to see the first two boats here in Nice,” said Laurent Esquier, the CEO of the World Sailing Teams Association (WSTA), who, in partnership with Louis Vuitton and the Club Nautique de Nice, is organising the regatta.

Nic Bice, head boat captain, said: “It was certainly a relief to arrive in Nice unscathed. Our weather window was extremely small but due to the hard work of all the guys and girls involved we were able to leave when the time was right and arrive with the boats 100% and ready to go."

The other two boats, ITA 90 and ITA 99, supplied by the Mascalzone Latino team (who won’t be competing in Nice) will be shipped to the venue later this month.

“We have a very hard-working team already on site in Nice, preparing the race village and the logistics for the regatta, and everything is running to schedule,” Esquier confirmed. “We look forward to welcoming the eight teams here at the beginning of November for some practice ahead of the racing.”

The confirmed line-up of eight world-class sailing teams for the Louis Vuitton Trophy - Nice, which runs from the 7th to 22nd November, includes:
Azzurra (ITA)
Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)
Swedish Challenge Artemis (SWE)
Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS)
TeamOrigin (GBR)
Team French Spirit (FRA)

BMW ORACLE Racing, Emirates Team New Zealand and ALL4ONE (as K-Challenge) each competed in the last America’s Cup and TeamOrigin competed in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series earlier this year. While the other four teams are new to ACC racing, experienced Cup sailors are sprinkled throughout their crew rosters. This past week in Valencia, the Synergy Russian Sailing Team and Azzurra had an ACC familiarisation session using boats belonging to Victory Challenge, while ALL4ONE sea-trialled with FRA 93.

The Louis Vuitton Trophy - Nice is the first event inspired by the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in Auckland, New Zealand, earlier this year. The host team of the Nice event is ALL4ONE.

Further dates and venues for the 2010 season will be confirmed soon.

Louis Vuitton Trophy

Ten sailors on a mission to conquer the Jules Verne Trophy aboard Groupama 3

Perss conference at the TJV HQ in Paris. Supplied image.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

Today, at the Race HQ for the Jules Verne Trophy in Paris, Frédérique Granado, Director of external communications at Groupama and Franck Cammas, skipper of the maxi trimaran, presented the crew who will be setting off on their latest adventure from 1st November onwards. Their mission is to break the round the world record under sail, held since 2005 by Bruno Peyron on Orange 2 with a time of 50 days and 16 hours...

Tanned, cheerful and smiling broadly, the crew aboard Groupama 3 are keen to get going and rediscover the three oceans for which they have been actively preparing for several years. Back from a 7-day preparation session in the Mont Blanc massif under Eric Loizeau, Franck Cammas' crew made a stopover at the Groupama Press HQ, 21 Bld Malesherbes in Paris' 8th district, in order to present their challenge to the press.

This challenge crowns a twelve year partnership with Groupama since it was back in 1997 that the first sailing contract with Franck Cammas was signed:
"We have assessed the benefits of sailing sponsorship for the Group. Today, the French brand Groupama is one of the most ingrained on people's minds within the sailing universe and its image has made huge steps in terms of daring, opening and modernity. The human adventure and forward thinking of this project has also increased the cohesion of our 38,500 employees and our 70,000 representatives" explains Frédérique Granado. "Competitive sailing is the perfect illustration of the tenacity, the taste for action, controlled risk and the sense of innovation that form part of Groupama's identity. Now, sailing plays an important role in the influence of the brand in France as well as overseas, as we were able to witness during this year's Route of the Subsidiaries".

A familiar face in its Paris premises, the skipper of Groupama 3 presented his crew one by one. Among its ranks are a whole score of champions of international renown, such as Stan Honey, Stève Ravussin, Lionel Lemonchois as well as Thomas Coville: "I put my crew together by naturally favouring competence, as well as performance and motivation. These three qualities are dependent upon the ability to live together for around fifty days in a small space and in a fairly hostile universe. Initially this is what the success of our attempt revolves around" analyses Franck Cammas.

"In relation to our previous attempts, four new crew members have joined us. Stan Honey is replacing Yves Parlier in the navigation, Bruno Jeanjean is replacing Yann Dekker who's aboard Alinghi, as is the case for Franck Proffit who's replaced by Lionel Lemonchois and Sébastien Audigane by Thomas Coville. On paper and above all onboard during training, it's the dream team. The remaining six crew, which might be described as the elders, have been aboard Groupama 3 since her launch in 2006: Stève Ravussin, Fred Le Peutrec, Loïc Le Mignon, Ronan Le Goff and Jacques Caraës".

With an average of two victorious circumnavigations of the globe per crewman, with the exception of Cammas, Ravussin and Jeanjean, Groupama 3's crew may be described as experienced. If we add to the mix the fact that three of them are already Jules Verne Trophy holders, that three of them have also won the Route du Rhum, one the Volvo Ocean Race and that together they broke the Trans-Mediterranean record this year, it can safely be said that performance goes hand in hand with their experience and competence.

There are now just two elements remaining to be victorious in their quest for the Holy Grail: to benefit from favourable weather conditions before setting off from Ushant and rounding the three capes, as well as to conserve Groupama 3 to ensure she makes it to the finish after sailing over 40,000 kilometres at high speed in what are often difficult seas, at times bordering on zones of ice, far away from any inhabited land: "In relation to our first round the world attempt, we've made a great deal of progress. This has been achieved by significantly reinforcing Groupama 3's floats as well as covering a vast number of miles with two aims: to test the structure so as to gain confidence and get to know the boat better so as to go faster" continues Franck Cammas.

With ten days until the start of the stand-by period set for 1st November, the skipper of Groupama 3 can count on Sylvain Mondon, an expert router at Météo France, to analyse the forecasts on a daily basis and detect a good window sufficiently early to enable the crew to get to the boat: "To set off in good conditions, we'll need 20 to 25 knots of NE'ly breeze, which will enable us to reach the equator in five to six days. Unfortunately we cannot anticipate how things are going to pan out after that, particularly as regards the position of the Saint Helena High. However, it's the same scenario for all the challengers".

Thanks to the colour code system put in place (red, orange, yellow and green), the crew don't have to wait in Lorient or Brest for the fateful hour. Based in the United States, Brazil, Switzerland and France, the crew are given at least 72 hours' warning before a probable departure. They have to be onboard 24 hours before the boat leaves the quayside on her way to the start line off Ushant.

Such organisation plays on Franck Cammas' mind: "Experience has taught me that stand-by periods are tricky to handle as you can't make any plans or organise anything for longer than three days. Analysing the weather forecasts is a good thing, but we prefer action. As such, if a good window presents itself early on, all ten of us will be very happy to set off on this extraordinary adventure that is a circumnavigation of the globe under sail. We have an exceptional boat in Groupama 3. It's up to us to get the best out of her to beat the record set by Orange 2 and Bruno Peyron four years ago".

The crew and organisation aboard Groupama 3:
• Watch No.1: Franck Cammas / Loïc Le Mignon / Jacques Caraës
• Watch No.2: Stève Ravussin / Thomas Coville / Bruno Jeanjean
• Watch No.3: Fred Le Peutrec / Lionel Lemonchois / Ronan Le Goff
• Off-watch navigator: Stan Honey goes up on deck for manoeuvres
• Each watch lasts three hours
• One watch on deck, one watch on stand-by ready to perform manoeuvres, one watch totally resting

The record to beat
Held since 2005 by Bruno Peyron on Orange 2 in 50 days 16 hours 20 minutes at an average speed of 17.89 knots. Lionel Lemonchois, Ronan Le Goff and Jacques Caraës were aboard.

Cammas - Groupama

RMSR: Four More Finishers Wednesday Morning

ALEGRE crew, 30th Rolex Middle Sea Race overall winner. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

by Giles Pearman

This morning brought home another four yachts bringing the total finishers in the 2009 Rolex Middle Sea Race to fourteen. Whilst all finishers are celebrated and feted as they cross the Royal Malta Yacht Club line deep in Marsamxett Harbour, the greatest cheer this morning was reserved for Strait Dealer, the first Maltese boat home. Strait Dealer has been a stalwart of the race since 2001 when, in the different hands, she won the race. Since 2002, she has been under the ownership of Maltese resident David Franks. This year Strait Dealer was skippered by local hero David Anastasi and as usual crewed mainly by sailors from the island state.

Franks was delighted to be home and to secure the prize of first Maltese boat home on the water, despite enduring some difficult times, "I enjoyed the race very much, and we had a good crew. There were some very tough points, but we didn't break too many things and we didn't lose too many things. We got tangled up in a lobster pot and went through an ice storm. I've never had such a cold Rolex Middle Sea Race and this is my seventh."

STRAIT DEALER Owner/Skipper: David Franks. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

"This is a most fantastic race. It is so well organised, it's so exciting, so many great boats come along, it's very competitive and there's a good social programme before and after," continued Franks, who indicated this may be his last race since he is moving back to the UK after twelve very enjoyable years on Malta. "The crew held up very well, David Anastasi had a lot on and did very, very well. Strait Dealer is a very wet boat, but everyone just got on with it."

Skipper, David Anastasi was pleased too, but admitted that their hope had been to win first Maltese boat on handicap. Strait Dealer does better downwind than upwind and with more of her race being into wind, she will be hard pressed to secure that prize. "We had a really good race up to Messina in conditions that the boat loved. From then on the wind was on the nose, which is very hard for us. Everything went well, the crew worked well together including the younger ones such as Sean Borg, Darren Cauchi and Alan Tabone." Anastasi admitted that the biggest problem had been eating, even freezer-dried food that needs just boiled water adding to it, "the conditions were so bad, and it was practically impossible to cook since there was just too much going on below."

Andres Soriano's ALEGRE approaching the finish line. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

The most experienced member of the crew was Nigel King, who counts a Volvo Ocean Race in his résumé. He was quite candid about the difficulty of this year's race, "it was probably the toughest race I've ever done. Quite a lot of storms came through, with squally showers. The guys had to work really hard to keep the boat moving. The most difficult bit was once we got round Stromboli. It was windy and rough to there; the sea state was pretty bad. Then there were lots of squalls and showers and storms coming through. Lots of sail changes and fighting the occasional fire when they came a bit quicker that you expected them. It was very hard at night because there was complete loss of visibility and it was much harder seeing the wind that's coming. You've got to be a bit more pre-emptive in getting things done. The Mediterranean's famous for days like that though."

The other finishers this morning were Tonnerre de Breskens III (NED), Fever (GBR), Nix (NED), Shambala (ITA) and Big One (CRO).

Rolex Middle Sea Race

RMSR: Teamwork Beats the Odds

NADEJDA Owner/Skipper: Simon Tubby. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

by Giles Pearman

Yesterday the 30th Rolex Middle Sea Race had its first boat home and today it appears to have its winner. Andres Soriano's Alegre (GBR) looks impregnable in first place as day four draws to a close. It will take a miracle for anyone on the course to finish inside the time set by the 69-foot Mills design. By 18.30 Tuesday evening, eleven boats had completed the 606 nautical mile course, with Nikata (GBR) crossing the finish line just after five pm, followed by Nadejda (RUS) and Calipso 4 (ITA) as the sun set over Valletta. The remaining yachts still racing are spread between Favignana and Lampedusa. What was a fast ride for some has proved a painfully slow one for others. Unquestionably, this year, the prevailing weather has favoured the larger yachts in the battle for overall victory. A complete turnaround from 2008.

Andres Soriano and his crew of largely Corinthian sailors are hugely popular winners. The plaudits for their achievement have come from every quarter, particularly the pro-sailed yachts at the head of the fleet that Alegre has comprehensively beaten over the course of this year's Rolex Middle Sea Race. Robert Scheidt four-time Olympic medal winner and helm on Luna Rossa (ITA) felt Alegre had sailed an almost perfect race, "they did an amazing job. They pushed the boat very well, preserved their equipment in the strong winds and when they needed to make decisions they made the right ones." High praise indeed. For Soriano it is a dream come true. Last year he celebrated line honours victory here. This year victory is even sweeter, it is on handicap and therefore overall. In both cases he has turned the tables on some of the most competitively sailed maxis and mini-maxis in the yacht-racing world, crewed by some of the greatest exponents of offshore and ins hore racing. This is no mean feat.

Soriano was overcome with emotion as realisation of his achievement began to sink in, "it's just an amazing feeling. When we crossed the finish line, just doing as well as we had against such tremendous competition brought tears to my eyes while I was thanking the crew. The news that we've almost certainly won is just overwhelming. It is a testimony to everyone involved, the crew on the race, those that helped on the shore and in the preparation too." As an experienced offshore sailor, he is wise enough to know that luck with the wind has been with him. The developing frontal system that crossed the course over the past few days effectively removed two thirds of the fleet from the equation. Even so, Alegrehas had to sail the conditions better than the likes of Patrizio Bertelli's Luna Rossa (ITA) with Robert Scheidt and Torben Grael, Karl Kwok's Beau Geste (HKG) with Francesco de Angelis, Gavin Brady and Andrew Cape, and, Niklas Zennstrom's Rán II (GBR) with Tim Powell, Adrian Stead and Steve Hayles.

Soriano is also wise enough to know that some luck may have been with him in surviving the conditions of the first night and second morning. Alegre completed the course whilst the likes of Rosebud/Team DYT (USA) and Bella Mente (USA) failed to do so. Testament to the team's preparation of Alegre ahead of and her management during the race, as the delighted owner remarked, "this result shows what hard work, team spirit and supporting each other can do. We're just friends sailing together and I'm so proud. When teamwork works it beats the odds."

Will Best, Alegre's navigator last year and this was also suitably impressed with the news, "it wasn't what we set out with as a goal so I'm stoked that we did so well. Before the race we looked at the weather and realised it was going to be case of getting the boat around safely and with good speed." Just as last year, Best put much of the success down to good luck. After the results of last year and this it is an excuse that is wearing thin, "there were a few good calls, more through luck rather than judgment really. Staying away from Etna and going into the Strait hard on the right hand side was one. It paid dividends and we got through there in good shape. Another one was past Stromboli going out on port tack and knowing when to make that starboard lay. We went for a tack when, to be honest, I didn't think we were quite there and ended up laying quite nicely so we stayed with it."

NIKATA arriving in Marsamxett Harbour. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

As for being chased around the track by Luna Rossa, Best is refreshingly honest about the additional pressure it creates, "it revs you up to keep on going and makes you think you're not doing a half bad job when there are so many medals on a boat behind you. It's quite a good feeling really!"

Soriano was reluctant to pick out any one member of the crew in particular, but pointed to the quiet confidence of Best as being one of the lynchpins, "he just kept us going, very confident on his calls. He had the weather sussed out. He thought a brilliant race and deserves a lot of credit."

There is teamwork and support being shown in abundance on the course this evening as the 36 yachts still racing push on to finish the race. Leading the pack at Lampedusa is Tonnerre de Breskens III (NED). Piet Vroon's crew have had their 'make do and mend' caps on in the last twenty-four hours as Frank Gerber reported, "Boat Captain, Dallan Roos, found an issue with the steering. With the help of the boat's designer, Jason Ker and boat builder, Rinus Meeusen [both racing onboard], an allen key and a few metres of spectra lashing, we found the solution. We haven't lost much time and can still push hard."

Behind Tonnerre is a stream of yachts. Some are having a more interesting time than others, as confirmed by Hilary Cook on Nisida (GBR), "the wind picked up during the afternoon and we were going well. Then we picked up a fish trap - complete with fish. We dropped the headsail and eventually freed ourselves. Due to a few earlier mishaps though, we now have a completely inoperable headsail foil. Fortunately, Nisida has a separate inner forestay and we are now sailing along with a hanked-on staysail and going well again."

Even further back, there is some hugely competitive sailing. Local rivals Sandro Musu/Aziza (MLT) and Lee Satariano/Artie (MLT) have been sailing within sight of each other for much of the race. Both have found time to call in reporting a frustrating period of light wind has now improved. They are both now sailing upwind, but in a steady 15-knots. Artie expects to be home late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. Expect a crescendo of noise in Marsamxett Harbour if the two enter together.

Rolex Middle Sea Race

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Extreme Sailing Series Europe confirmed for 2010

iShares Cup racing off Cowes 2009. Image copyright Anne Hinton.

New title sponsor negotiations underway

by OC Events media

OC Events, owner and organiser of the award-winning Extreme Sailing Series, today announces its title sponsor, iShares, has decided to end its association with the European Circuit due to a change in company ownership. OC Events has confirmed this will not adversely affect the European Circuit for 2010 or the recently launched inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia 2009/10.

Mark Turner, CEO of OC Group that includes OC Events, commented: “Disappointing of course, but this is the world of commercial sponsorship - the Extreme Sailing Series concept will continue to be developed in Europe next year, along with all the stakeholders that have shared the success of 2009 – teams, sponsors and host venues. We have built up a benchmark sailing sports entertainment product, at the highest sporting level, providing excellent returns for all concerned. The European circuit has gathered fantastic momentum with ten top teams competing in close confines in Europe’s top venues and we plan to grow this a great deal further in 2010.

Fortunately the event now has many stakeholders and many different revenue streams, so while we will obviously bring in a new title sponsor for 2010, things are very different to 2007 when the title sponsor represented nearly all the income. We have team sponsors, host venues and other event partners already contractually committed through as far as 2012. The Extreme Sailing Series will be back in 2010, and we plan for it to be even bigger and better."

iShares signed a two year renewal at the beginning of this year, with a 10 day window exit clause following the final event of the season. BlackRock Inc acquired iShares in August this year.

Rick Andrews, head of iShares marketing, Europe, commented: “With a change in Company ownership of iShares coming on 1st December, we are unable to commit to the sponsorship of this event in 2010, and we have had to use a break clause in our 2 year contract with OC Events. This break clause existed for a 10-day period only, following the final event of the year in Almeria.

“The iShares Cup has been a phenomenal success for iShares and it is with much sadness that we have been obliged to make this decision. Client response from surveys has been phenomenal. They are just absolutely blown away by lots of different elements. However, we are confident that such an outstanding property will not be on the market for long - the value for money, the exceptional client experience and the return on investment from this property have really helped propel iShares forward, and I am sure that OC Events will be able to capitalise on our experience with a new partner shortly.”

The Extreme Sailing Series Europe 2010 promises again to pit the very best sailors on the planet up against each other, in top class venues, bringing sailing to a whole new audience both in person and through its global media platform. Three venues and five teams have already confirmed for 2010 and the Notice of Race will be released in the coming weeks.

Mark Turner concluded: “OC Events has invested hugely in this concept and we have ambitious plans for both the European and Asian circuits over the coming years. We are, of course, disappointed to see iShares go, they have been an excellent partner for us. They were onboard for pure commercial reasons, and they have pushed us hard on all fronts, helping us to create the solid product we have today. We created this event together from the beginning of the idea in 2006, but now that the circuit is more mature and the public element as witnessed most recently in Almeria last weekend is really starting to work, we can also see this as an opportunity to bring in a more consumer focused brand as title sponsor to help us take it to the next level again. We now have the scale and reach to deliver for consumer facing brands as well as those more focused on business to business.”

The two Oman Sail X40s lead the way into the top mark off Cowes 2009. Image copyright Anne Hinton.

Extreme Sailing Series Europe Vital Statistics

2009 Venues:
Venice, Italy
Hyeres-TPM, France
Cowes, England
Kiel, Germany
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Almeria, Spain

Estimated number of spectators:
2007 57,000
2008 150,000
2009 200,000

VIP entertainment: 93% of VIP guests agreed that the iShares Cup fell within the top three events they had ever attended.

Media return 2008: The 2008 iShares Cup media coverage was measured by independent monitoring and evaluation agency Sports Marketing Surveys at €5,520,703* with over 9 hours of TV news coverage alone. All values exclusively for AB25+ audiences
*Media monitoring was restricted to each European territory for a period around the iShares Cup event only and does not include year-round global monitoring.
Projected media value for 2009 at c. €8 million.

Worldwide TV series 2008: Six-part iShares Cup television series distributed in 119 territories with a value of over €1.45 million across 16 international TV networks to an audience reach of 229.9 million homes per programme with 40 hours of programming each month. News features on five Gillette World of Sports programmes - the World’s most watched sport magazine show. Inclusion in five Seamaster Sailing programmes, the internationally distributed grand prix sailing magazine show distributed in 137 countries across 28 international TV networks.

The 2009 media evaluation report and economic impact reports for Kiel and Almeria are currently being completed.

iShares Cup

RMSR: Update on the Finishers

Danilo Salsi's DSK PIONEER INVESTMENTS. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

by Giles Pearman

The 30th Rolex Middle Sea Race is far from over with only eight yachts finished, thirty-nine yachts still on the course and twenty-three retired. DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA) were the last yacht to finish, arriving at 3 o'clock this morning after enduring a slow passage from Lampedusa to Malta. Not as slow as the rest of the fleet though.

Line honours winner ICAP LEOPARD. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

The forecast weather may not have materialised as well as hoped by ICAP Leopard (GBR), depriving her of a record, but it is developing with a vengeance for those still at sea. The strong northwesterlies that powered the leaders to Pantelleria and progressively lightened towards the Maltese archipelago have now completely dissolved. The wind has softened dramatically and, as predicted, started swinging to the southeast, changing a downwind leg into an upwind leg. Just what you do not need on a small boat entering your fourth day of racing.

Karl Kwok's BEAU GESTE. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

The next boats expected to finish are Nikata (GBR), Nadejda (RUS) and Calipso 4 (ITA), by no means imminently. Currently, the three are en route from Lampedusa just to the south east of isolated island of Linosa. After these you have to look north of the Lampedusa for the next group of yachts, which includes first Maltese yacht on the water, David Frank's Strait Dealer (MLT).

COMANCHE RAIDER II GASAN MAMO Owner/Skipper: Jonas Diamantino. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

Then one is back at Pantelleria, which the frontrunners passed over twenty-four hours ago. Elusive II Medbank (MLT) has just rounded the island and fired off a quick report, "We're up two fish but one spinnaker, two halyards, and one sheet down, as well as 2-metres short on our spinnaker pole. Despite all that we're still at it! We've managed to jury rig repair our broken pole to be able to fly a chute. Last night was frustrating as the wind died and changed direction. We went from a medium kite to a light, to a code zero, to the wind seeker and finally to the light no1 in a short matter of time, but finally we settled into the light southerly beat. Eggs and Bacon this morning helped keep our morale up, as we were surrounded by about 300 dolphins close to Pantelleria."

BOV KERISMA Owner/Skipper: Sonke Stein. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

Further back the last two yachts, the double-handers Cymba (ITA) and Cambo III (ESP), continue to duke it out in their own private battle. Expected to round Capo San Vito this morning, they still have half the course to complete.

Highlight from the 30th Rolex Middle Sea Race. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

Snug in port, Andy Soriano's Alegre (GBR) is looking more secure by the hour in first place overall.

DSK PIONEER INVESTMENTS. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

Rolex Middle Sea Race

Oman unveils Majan; the first Arabian 100 trimaran

Majan during Sea Trials off Salalah. Image copyright Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

by Oman Sail media

After four months of assembly in Oman's southern most port of Salalah, skipper Paul Standbridge has been stretching the legs of Oman Sail's new Arabian 100 (A100) trimaran during sea-trials off the Omani coast. Now named Majan, after the ancient name for Oman, Oman Sail's new flagship is now operational and is heading into the Gulf and a tour of neighbouring countries.

Majan eased out of the shed in Salalah. Image copyright Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

Based on the proven design of another trimaran, Sodebo, which is the holder of the solo North Atlantic crossing record, the design has been tailored for the needs of Oman Sail and their objective of training and developing Omani sailors to compete on the international stage.

Majan lowered into the water in Salalah port. Image copyright Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

The launch of Majan is an ambitious addition to the project's mission to inspire a new generation of young Omanis. The first chapter was started when Mohsin Al Busaidi returned to the shores of Oman after successfully circumnavigating the world non-stop on Majan's 75ft sister ship, Musandam. From there, success has followed success as the two Oman teams took 1st and 3rd in the 2009 European iShares Cup and two Omanis are currently also sailing around the world in the Clipper Race. At the heart of all this success lies the Oman Sail Academy where young Omanis are now taking part in try sailing courses and looking to emulate their peers. Oman Sail's aims are ambitious: by 2015, the project aims to have seven academies running across the country enabling over 30,000 Omanis to try sailing.

Majan viewed from the top of the crane. Image copyright Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

Majan will sail with a crew of seven: 50% of the sailors will be Omani offshore trainees joined by three international professional crew and a cameraman providing the one-on-one training that the recruits require at this early stage of their career. The first chapter will be a 'Tour of Arabia' starting next week from Muscat, which will include stops in UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar before Majan joins the Dubai-Muscat race back to Muscat one month later.

Mohsin Al Busaidi helms Majan. Image copyright Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

The name Majan is used with pride within Oman and is a fitting name for a futuristic racing yacht for a country with a long maritime history. As Majan's newest crew member, Mohsin Al Busaidi, commented "The acceleration of Majan is incredible: we moved from 20 - 30 knots in one gust of wind. We now look forward to showing the world what she can do!"

Oman Sail

RMSR: Course Record Eludes Line Honours Winner

ICAP Leopard: line honours winner. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

by Giles Pearman

ICAP Leopard (GBR) was first home at the 2009 Rolex Middle Sea Race taking the award for line honours. Try as they might, Mike Slade's all-star crew were unable to crack the nut that is Rambler's course record. Arriving just before midday at the Royal Malta Yacht Club line in Marsamxett Harbour, the 100-foot Farr designed supermaxi was just over half an hour outside the mark set by George David and Ken Read two years ago. She had made a tremendous effort never straying far from the pace required despite less than perfect conditions.

Mike Slade, ICAP Leopard's owner/skipper, with the line honours prize. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

Slade made no excuses on the dock after stepping ashore. He believes they raced as well as they could. He was quick to acknowledge that for every frustration they may have encountered this year, Rambler was sure to have suffered in some similar way herself in 2007. Asked if he could identify any points on the course they could have made up the wayward 30 minutes, he replied wryly, "at least twenty."

ICAP Leopard's record attempt was always in the balance the moment they crossed the start line. They gave it a good go though, relishing a promising forecast. Slade was quick to compliment his crew on a job well done, "it's fantastic to have finished this tough race. The record was tantalisingly close, but the important thing is that we achieved our goal of getting line honours and bringing the boat home in one piece. The crew were fantastic and our reception in Malta has been amazing - what a wonderful event!"

Strait Dealer. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

Even if one sails the boat to its full potential and suffer no breakages, success is still dependent upon the weather. Completing the 606 nautical mile Rolex Middle Sea Race in less than 48 hours is well within the capability of a canting keeled, water ballasted flying machine staffed by some of the world's top inshore and offshore yacht racing specialists. Brad Jackson, Jules Salter and Guy Salter were all on the winning boat in the last Volvo Ocean Race. Rob Greenhalgh raced on the second placed yacht, whilst Justin Slattery raced on the winning boat in the previous VOR. Jason Carrington has probably built more race winning boats than there have been Rolex Middle Sea Races. Sailmaker Jeremy Elliott is another who has raced around the world and at the America's Cup. Hugh Agnew navigated the winning yacht at the 2004 Rolex Sydney Hobart. And, in case anyone needed reminding, Mike Slade has moulded teams around him and raced at the grand-prix level of the sport on a variety of state of the art maxi yachts since the early 1990s, invariably with the reassuring hand of Chris Sherlock to run the boat. Experience and ability were two things in plentiful supply. What kept holding Leopard back was the vagaries of the wind.

Slade explained how the race had unfolded, "this race is very special. It always is. It is a tough race and a great race, but any race that goes round in a circle is going to have lots of pitfalls. You are seeing land all the time and you suffer all the things that happen because of the land. There's a saying that Etna sucks wind out of the Strait and it was true for us. We got stuck in its shadow. We got through and punched on towards Stromboli and that's where the problems really started." It was here that the mini maxis Rosebud/Team DYT (USA) and Bella Mente (USA) dropped by the wayside in dramatic fashion on Sunday. Since then some twenty other competing yachts have followed these two into the sickbay as strong gusting winds lashed the northeastern corner of Sicily for a 36-hour period.

ICAP Leopard arriving in Marsamxett Harbour. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

"After Stromboli was tough," comments Slade. "We had 5 or 6 hours of real weather front. We're a big strong boat and can cope with it. In fact we were hoping to get more of the same at the bottom of the course." This hope never fully materialised, as he went on to explain. "It took 12 hours to get across to the Egadi Islands and it was only then on the way down to Pantelleria that we started putting on some real boat speed. It was bump, bang, everyone hold on. We would have liked it to carry on down to Lampedusa, but it just didn't happen. There was no wind there of any consequence." At this point Leopard was only 75-minutes off Rambler's blistering pace. Munching the miles to Comino was something this boat was born to do. But she needs wind. Slade had said before the start that 20 knots of wind and flat water would be ideal. What he got for the final long leg was sloppy water and soft winds bouncing between 12 and 18 knots.

"It was a struggle to get back from Lampedusa to Comino," continued Slade. "And it was a struggle to get into the harbour because the wind was dead aft and we had to do some monumental gybes." Philosophical in defeat, if line honours in a second successive 600-mile race may be described as such (ICAP Leopard had been first home at the Rolex Fastnet in August), Slade admitted asking himself several times where they could have saved the deal-breaking thirty-minutes. He was adamant that there were any number of places and not one thing in particular could be blamed, adding "that's yacht racing and we'll have to do it again now, won't we!" Malta cannot wait.

Beau Geste. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

The wait for the next boat home was a short one. Just as during the Rolex Fastnet, Karl Kwok's Beau Geste (HKG) had been shadowing her bigger rival for the whole course, waiting for a chink in the armour that might let her snatch the lead. Skipper Gavin Brady, tactician Francesco de Angelis and navigator Andrew Cape are a deep-filled talent pool, but even they found the conditions testing. Brady is a tough customer, but even he acknowledged the severity of the situation after Stromboli on Saturday night/Sunday morning, "up until then we had been concentrating on getting away from the competition, but when the weather struck we were glad to have some company. We were in survival mode for some time." The small boats have been reporting difficulties with sail changes at night as bandit squalls struck without warning. Cape confirmed Beau Geste had struggled with this too, particularly as they turned the corner at Favignana, "we had the wrong sail combination up, wh ich caused us to lose a bit of time. In those conditions it can take around an hour to execute a sail change on a boat this size."

De Angelis was able to throw some humour into the situation describing an incident on board where coming off a wave Cape somersaulted across the cabin to land on top of him, "I have raced against Capey for a long time, but at this moment I got to know him very well!" Karl Kwok is coming to the end of this season's European adventure, which has seen him and his crew impress at a number of major races and regattas. "We are very happy with the way the boat held up in the conditions. Like others from the [United] States we came to Europe to race because the competition is so good. We've not been disappointed."

Tonnerre de Breskens 3. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

With two boats tied up in the harbour we have a yacht race. When Beau Geste crossed the line at 15.28 she moved into pole position on handicap. Her moment in the spotlight was short lived. Alegre (GBR) finished at 18.33 and moved back into a lead that she has held since Stromboli. Neither Rán (GBR) nor Luna Rossa (ITA) were in a position to dislodge her when they finished. Intermatica VO70 (ITA) won the battle of the two Volvo boats, beating Ericsson (SWE) on handicap although not on the water.

Sailing past Favignana. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

The bulk of the fleet is still racing. 23 yachts have now retired citing various reasons, mostly sail and equipment damage resulting from the vicious squalls that persisted until midday today. Next boat home will be DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA), which is halfway between Lampedusa and Malta. After that we are in for a long wait as the competing yachts struggle down the western edge of the course. Seven yachts including the two remaining double-handers have yet to pass Capo San Vito at the northwestern point of Sicily. The forecast shows winds to be remaining from the northwest during the next twelve hours, but lightning up considerably. The smaller yachts are in for a long slog home and those yachts safely back in port will be feeling happier by the hour.

Rolex Middle Sea Race