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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Gayle Beck Crowned Queen of Sydney Harbour - 18 Foot Skiffs

18ft Skiffs Queen of the Harbour
Sunday, 1 March 2015, Sydney Harbour

The annual Queen of the Harbour 18ft Skiff race took place on Sydney Harbour today and resulted in Gayle Beck being crowned the Queen of Sydney Harbour for 2015.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Gayle, with the help of her crew mates John Winning, Jim Beck (her husband) and Cameron McDonald came home strongly in Yandoo after trailing in third place over the first lap of the course.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
With the race sailed over a shortened course due to an approaching storm, Yandoo defeated second placed De’Longhi (Maddie Mitchell, Simon Nearn, Grant Rollerson, Kieran Cowan) by 51 seconds, with Lumix (Christine Linhart, Jonathan Whitty, Aron Everett, Daniel Nixon) just four seconds further back in third place.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
To avoid any possible injury with very strong winds expected to hit Sydney within the hour, the starter sensibly elected to run the race over two laps of a windward-return course between Clarke and Shark islands.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
From the start, Lumix quickly established a lead and led De’Longhi, Yandoo and The Kitchen Maker (John Sweeny) over the first lap of the course. Lumix continued to hold what appeared to be a race winning lead at the final windward mark but a tangle on the spinnaker set cost the team so much time to reset that both Yandoo and De’Longhi raced past on the run to the finish.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
It was important for the club to stage the race despite the approaching storm. Since the formation of the Australian 18 Footers League in 1935, the annual ‘Queen’ race has been one of the most important events on the calendar and still remains that way.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
In the very early days of the concept, the club, through the efforts of the various ladies competing in the races, was able to donate substantial funds towards the children’s hospital. A wing of the hospital was actually named in honour of the contribution.

Frank Quealey

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Spanish Victory in Auckland - Volvo Ocean Race Update

MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) emerged victorious despite a pair of major setbacks in Leg 4 following one of the tightest-fought finishes in Volvo Ocean Race history on Saturday night.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
The victory gives the 2014-15 edition its fourth winner in four legs following successes for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), and Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA).
Photo: Xaume Olleros / Volvo Ocean Race 
All those wins in the first three stages have been hard-fought but none more so than this latest leg win for the Spanish boat, claimed at 2131 local time/0931 UTC after 5,264 nautical miles (nm) and 20 days, two hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds of sailing from Sanya, China to Auckland.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
Stand-in skipper Xabi Fernández could not have chosen a better stage to guide his crew to victory with just four minutes 25 seconds to spare from Walker’s men, who had the consolation of becoming overall leaders thanks to a better in-port race series record than Dongfeng Race Team.
Photo: Xaume Olleros / Volvo Ocean Race 
“We’re super happy to be here, and of course, it was a very tough leg. We had a very hard last day especially, but we’re very happy to be here.We have improved a lot over the last two legs. We have a very good team and I hope we can now show to the world what we can do and keep doing it like this,” Fernández said.
Photo: Xaume Olleros / Volvo Ocean Race 
For so much of a leg which started in Sanya on February 8, MAPFRE had looked the most unlikely of winners. They lost full communications for three days when a problem emerged with their antennae, which prevented them from receiving full weather data to help them plot the optimum course.
Photo: Xaume Olleros / Volvo Ocean Race 
This, with the help of the Race HQ technology staff plus partners Cobham, was eventually fixed, but they also suffered a major injury problem on board when under-30 crew member Guillermo ‘Wily’ Altadill (ESP) badly hurt his hand. It was put in a splint and Altadill, 22, will see a doctor on Sunday to discover if he has broken it.
Photo: Xaume Olleros / Volvo Ocean Race 
“I’m going to the doctors in the morning – after the party,” Altadill said.
Photo: Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
Walker, meanwhile, will be satisfied with his second runners-up spot in a row, and a fourth podium place. His crew skirmished with MAPFRE all day on Saturday, but could not quite overhaul the Spanish crew despite reducing the deficit to within 1 one nautical mile at times.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
Equally, they narrowly staved off third-placed Dongfeng Race Team by less than four minutes. Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) claimed fourth, just under 1hr 20mins behind Dongfeng, with Team Brunel and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) bringing up the rear in ever lighter winds.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Gotta Love It 7 Crowned 2015 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Champions

18ft Skiffs 2015 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship, Race 7
Sunday, 22 February, 2015, Sydney Harbour
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Gotta Love It 7’s team of Seve Jarvin, Sam Newton and Scott Babbage officially became the 2015 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff champions after the regatta concluded on Sydney Harbour today. The team had already secured the title before today’s race and skipper Seve Jarvin had become the most capped skipper and competitor in the championship’s 76-year history.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Jarvin originally crewed with Euan McNicol on Club Marine in 2005 and has since skippered seven championship winning Gotta Love It 7 skiffs to victory. His record surpasses Andrew Buckland for the most number of wins.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Buckland won five titles with Iain Murray on Colour 7 then two more with Peter Sorensen on Tia Maria.Fittingly, Buckland was on hand to present Jarvin and his team with the championship blue ribbon. 
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Although the win was already secured, Gotta Love It 7 showed her real championship quality as they dominated the latter half of the course to win by two minutes and 15 seconds.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
New Zealand’s rookie AON team (Will Tiller, Harry Thurston, Tim Snedden) gave some indication of what may happen in future JJ Giltinan Championships when they gave a wonderful performance to finish in second place.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney, Peter Harris, Mark Kennedy) was a further 12s back in third place. With the championship winner already decided, today’s race was vital for the next four placings in the regatta as only eight points separated the four teams involved.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Soon after the start Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon) gained a substantial lead over her nearest rival Mojo Wine (Lee Knapton) and the overall result for second place was soon established. American champion Howie Hamlin produced another good result today with a fifth place to finish third overall in the regatta.

Frank Quealey

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Americans Win Race 6 of JJ Giltinan's in Sydney

18ft Skiffs 2015 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship, Race 6
Saturday, 21 February, 2015, Sydney Harbour

United States 18ft Skiff champion Howie Hamlin turned the memory clock back 12 years when he skippered Harken to victory in Race 6 of the 2015 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour today.
Photo: Christophe Favreau,
Hamlin, who won the Giltinan title in 2002 and 2003, teamed with Dan Phillips and Skip McCormack to score a 24s win over Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon, Trent Barnabas, Dave O’Connor).
Photo: Christophe Favreau,
New Zealand’s Yamaha (David McDiarmid, Andrew Archibald and Mark Overington) finished in third place, a further 50s behind Thurlow Fisher Lawyers.
Photo: Christophe Favreau,
Despite finishing a disappointing eight place today, the Gotta Love It 7 team of Seve Jarvin, Sam Newton and Scott Babbage became the 2015 JJ Giltinan champions as a result of the brilliant start to the regatta with four consecutive race wins.
Photo: Christophe Favreau,
Gotta Love It 7 leads the series (after discards) on six points, followed by Thurlow Fisher Lawyers on 20, Mojo Wine (Lee Knapton) on 21, Harken 25, Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones) on 28 and Yamaha on 35.
Photo: Christophe Favreau,
A very light Easterly breeze saw two distinctive choices made by the fleet on the windward leg from the start at Robertson Point to Rose Bay. Mojo Wine’s team elected to sail a course past Bradleys Head while Thurlow Fisher Lawyers and Gotta Love It 7 went to the right off Clarke Island.
Photo: Christophe Favreau,
When the two groups met off the western side of Shark Island Mojo Wine was the leader with Harken close behind. At the windward mark, Mojo Wine held a 20 second margin over Harken, with Compassmarkets.com (Keagan York) in third place just ahead of Yamaha and Gotta Love It 7, which was one minute 10 second from the lead.
Photo: Christophe Favreau,
The downwind leg to the mark off Clarke Island, then to the bottom mark back near the start, provided some dramatic changes in the fleet. Harken got through to the lead while Thurlow Fisher Lawyers was trailing by 10s.
Photo: Christophe Favreau,
Mojo Wine had dropped back to third ahead of Yamaha then a large bunch headed by Lumix (Jonathan Whitty), Asko Appliances, Knight Frank (Riley Dean) and The Kitchen Maker (John Sweeny). Gotta Love It 7 had a disasterous leg and was now back in 14th position.
Photo: Christophe Favreau,
Hamlin and his Harken team took a central line on the next windward leg and retained their lead while Thurlow Fisher Lawyers and Yamaha settled into a good battle for the minor placings. The trio held these positions over the rest of the course and now go into tomorrow’s final race in a great battle between four boats for second place overall.

Frank Quealey 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thurlow Fisher Lawyers Wins Race 5 of JJ Giltinan in Sydney

18ft Skiffs 2015 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship, Race 5
Thursday, 19 February, 2015, Sydney Harbour

Thurlow Fisher Lawyers broke the previous Gotta Love It 7 domination to win Race 5 of the 2015 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour today.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Sailing a four lap windward-return course, Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon, Trent Barnabas, Dave O’Connor) won the start at the pin end of the line and sailed brilliantly in the light ENE breeze to lead the bunched fleet behind her by 50 seconds.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
The lead got out to two minutes and 10 seconds at the halfway mark before a freshening breeze over the final lap of the course saw the margin reduced to 52 seconds at the finish.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Defending champion Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin, Sam Newton, Scott Babbage) crossed in second place, one minute 20 seconds ahead of the third placed USA skiff Harken (Howie Hamlin, Dan Phillips, Skip McCormack), and will retain the title if the team can finish in the first eleven placings in either of the weekend’s races
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
With two races still to be sailed, the current points table after each team discards their worst performance to date, is: Gotta Love It 7 on four points, Mojo Wine (Lee Knapton) 17, Thurlow Fisher Lawyers 18, Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones) 23, Harken 24 and De’Longhi (Simon Nearn) 30.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
After a series of #2 sail NE races, today saw all teams go with their big rigs. Thurlow Fisher Lawyers held a big lead at the bottom mark the first time and things could have been disasterous when sheet hand Dave O’Connor went overboard as the skiff rounded the buoy.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Apart from this one incident, the Thurlow team were immaculate and were never in any serious doubt of victory. For the previously unbeaten Gotta Love It 7 team it was a race they would prefer to forget.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
They couldn’t match the Thurlow Fisher Lawyers team’s boat speed up the first windward leg and were buried deep in the pack on the first spinnaker run. Trailing in eighth place at the bottom mark the first time, Team Seven were still more than two minutes behind the leader after two laps.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
As the breeze freshened, naturally the time margin decreased and Gotta Love It 7 got back to 52 seconds behind the winner but Thurlow Fisher Lawyers was just too good on the day.

Frank Quealey

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Team Seven Dominate 2015 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship Sydney - Race 4

18ft Skiffs 2015 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship, Race 4
Wednesday, 18 February, 2015, Sydney Harbour

Another awesome display by the defending champion Gotta Love It 7 crew has given the team a massive lead after Race 4 of the 2015 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour today.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Seve Jarvin, Sam Newton and Scott Babbage again gave an immaculate exhibition of power sailing to virtually destroy a high quality fleet of 18 Footer competitors and boats. The racing behind Gotta Love It 7 has been brilliant with close racing, top class action and exciting finishes, but the dominance of Team Seven has dominated the scene.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
For the fourth consecutive race day, Gotta Love It 7 didn’t get the best of the start but the boat speed and boat handling of the crew is such that Gotta Love It 7 once again led at the first windward mark and was never headed from that point.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
At the finish, 7’s winning margin was 1m6s from Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel, which came back strongly following a couple of unfortunate gear problems earlier in the regatta. The Rag crew of Jack Macartney, Mark Kennedy and Peter Harris were in fourth place at the Beashel Buoy on the first lap but put in a consistent performance to work their way into second place.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Another improved performer, De’Longhi (Simon Nearn, Grant Rollerson and Kieryn Cowan) also came back strongly to finish a further 1m16s behind Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel, and just 4s ahead of the leading New Zealand Yamaha team, led by David McDiarmid.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
After the four races sailed to date (worst performance not discarded), Gotta Love It 7 has a perfect score of four points, followed by Mojo Wine (Lee Knapton) on 27, US champion Howie Hamlin (Harken) and Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones) on 30, Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon) and Appliancesonline.com.au (Micah Lane) on 32.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Today’s 16-knot North East wind saw all teams elect to use the smaller number two rigs. New Zealand’s Alex Vallings (C-Tech) led shortly after the start with Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel and Gotta Love It 7 close behind off Taylor Bay.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Seven grabbed a 20 second lead from C-Tech at the windward Beashel Buoy, followed by Smeg (David Witt), The Rag, New Zealand’s Maersk Line (Graham Catley), De’Longhi and Appliancesonline.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
What followed was sensational viewing for the spectator fleet as boats raced at top speed to the wing mark off the southern end of Shark Island in Rose Bay. Smeg was looking strong but lost several placings when the team had some difficulties then lost the breeze along Shark Island.

Frank Quealey

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Battle Rages On - Barcelona World Race

The eastbound express of the Barcelona World Race is a long, long one - from Cheminées Poujoulat which is approaching the mid-point of the Pacific, about to pass into Chilean waters tomorrow, to Spirit of Hungary 4000 miles back which is anticipating their passage of Cape Leeuwin. But the train is still continuuing to move rapidly eastwards in favourable conditions.
Renault Captur Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget
For all the world the three way battle for second step on the podium looked set to intensify, with all three of the protagonists, long time incumbents Neutrogena, third placed GAES Centros Auditivos and Renault Captur, all up for a sustained battle to the finish line.

But the attack of fourth placed Renault Captur looks set to be compromised because of an ongoing problem with their starboard rudder which means Jorg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane are having to reduce speeds to keep their boat under control. 

Three big successive Chinese gybes last night and early this morning were more than enough of a warning to the German-French duo of the need to back off, to reduce sail if they are to stay within the sensiblerealms of control. That has meant sailing with two reefs and the J2 and keeping speeds close to 15kts.

The problem appears to stem from yesterday's starboard ruder repair. A replacement carbon sleeve was fitted over the damaged rudder but, after speaking to the boat this morning, is seems like the temporary foil is moving or not rigid enough to take the loads when the Finot designed IMOCA 60 is moving at high speeds in the big seas and spins out. 
 
Renault Captur have had trouble with their rudders since the Atlantic. Initially the rudders are reported to have kicked up by themselves. That problem was solved in the Doldrums and again in the St Helena high. Their technical team reports that the rudders were blocked to avoid them kicking up in the Southern Ocean.

After the rudder blade was damaged it was repaired yestrday with a carbon “sock” slipping over the rudder and then stuck in place. The technical team are looking at possible solutions but Riechers seemed to think they will be hobbled for some time. His co-skipper Audigane said today:

"Last night when we were sailing higher at 125 TWA, there is no problem, we can control the boat, even with the [Auto] pilot it goes well. The problem is that when you have the bow down and the sea is a little cross; under these conditions is not right. Above 19 knots of wind, we lose control of the boat, the helm really loads up very heavy. It is like losing control of a car at 150kms/h. All we can do it keep in the reefs and stay slowed. 

"We were happier because we had worked hard and got to within 190 miles of GAES Centros Auditivos. We can go a little slower, a little under sail when we are on port tack. So really our goal is to pass Cape Horn and to finish this round the world race. In the Atlantic it will be easier to race with a damaged rudder."

Renault may struggle to stay in the match for third, but for sure the tussle is only just hotting up. GAES Centros Auditivos have been keeping up the pressure on Neutrogena. Their deficit this afternoon is reduced to just 57 miles, but Guillermo Altadill and Jose Munoz are one knot quicker now and so that delta should stabilise at worst. The Spanish-Chilean partnership have been further south and appear to have just a little more speed.

Big Lead Big Wind 

Cheminées Poujoulat are not short of wind. Since this afternoon they have been into 30-35kts on the front of a low pressure system, leading by over 1100 miles from Neutrogena.
We Are Water have been slowed, in a cell of high pressure between two lows, but Bruno and Willy Garcia should get out imminently and have a fast passage across into the Pacific.

Splendid Isolation

One Planet One Ocean are well past Cape Leeuwin but the second great cape for Didac Costa and Aleix Gelabert marked an emotional moment for the amateur duo. Costa admitted he still marvels at the speeds and ease of handling of their IMOCA 60, formerly Ellen MacArthur's Kingfisher:

"Perhaps because I have not been in the IMOCA so long but it still impresses me how these boats sail in the big south. The seas form and the boat accelerates and the noise is incredible. You think everything will explode. But it doesn't and it all happens again. It is addictive."
But for all that they are in regular contact with Race HQ, the loneliness and isolation is palpable, and enduring:
Costa says: "The truth is that yes there are times when you think how lonely you are here Before Good Hope the last human life we saw was a merchant ship. Since then there has not been a boat of any kind. The only life we see is birds."
And the worst of life in the the information desert?
"We know nothing about Barça, the football club. Which is unthinkable when you are in the city." he joked.

Skippers Quotes

Jorg Riechers (GER) Renault Captur: 

"We have trouble with our new rudder. Whenever we get faster than 20kts then the rudder loses control. We did one big Chinese gybe last night and we could not stop two more just in the last few minutes. We cannot go faster than 18 or 20kts. 

"The thing is the rudder tip broke two days ago and the rudder degraded more and more. And so we have this rudder sock and we thought it would be OK, and at first it wasn't. But in the second half of the night somehow it started to get really strange. The sock is not rigid enough to withstand the loads, so it changes shape and so the force on the two sides is different. 

"And whenever you are in the waves it is bearing away hard or luffing hard and the pilot could not handle that. And even if you are hand steering it is so difficult to handle because the loads are too big. That is a big problem. Whenever we are in big surf we cant control the boat. So that the reason why we have reduced sails, we sail with the J2 and two reefs instead of the J1 and one reef. That sucks a little bit because we had made good ground on GAES tonight and now we are sailing with no teeth. It is really not good. 

"There is no solution. The only solution is to go slow on port tack. On starboard we can go at 100 per cent. So when we sail on port tack we sail at 80 per cent, and so from now on it is a little bit like cruising, fast cruising. That really sucks. 

No there is nothing we can do. We can hope there is a lot of starboard tack sailing so we can attack. The other thing we have to hope is that our deficit at Cape Horn is too big so we can attack in the Atlantic and go for the podium. 
 
"The thing is approaching Cape Horn with a lot of wind might be a lot of trouble for us. When the boat is not controllable in big surfs, then it might be a bit dangerous. There is nothing, unfortunately, that we can do it. We are slightly tired. At 0230hrs everything was good, everything was rosy, but from then on it turned into a living nightmare, absolutely not good and we are completely gutted."

Alex Gelabert (ESP) One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton: 

"It was a very good moment to pass Cape Leeuwin, very emotional, very good but now we are pointing to Cape Horn. For me that is the most emblematic of the three Capes we have to pass in the race. So we are very happy with that. And so now we would just like to arrive at Cape Horn soon and see what happens. 

"We are reading a little bit of everything. There are books which were sent to us. And I am reading a book which is called ...... to relax a little. 

Yes, here we have internet connection but we dont use it to read the news. And the only news that we know from the world are the little things that our team and our families have been sending to us. We don't know anything about football, about FC Barcelona. We dont know what is happening on land.
I speak to the family every day by email and since Barcelona we have spoken two times by phone, but no more. I have some emails with my father."

Standings at 1400hrs UTC Tuesday 17th February 2015:
1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm – J Le Cam) at 9576,2 miles from finish
2 Neutrogena (G Altadill – J Muñoz) + 1120 miles to leader,
3 GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella – G Marin) + 1177,6 miles to leader
4 Renault Captur (J Riechers – S Audigane) + 1435,6 miles to leader
5 We Are Water (B Garcia – W Garcia) + 2607,4 miles to leader
6 One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert – D Costa) + 3299,7 miles to leader
7 Spirit of Hungary (N Fa – C Colman) + 3963,9 miles to leader