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Friday, April 24, 2015

Heading To Sailing's Spiritual Home - Volvo Ocean Race Update

American Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), who are dreaming of winning the Volvo Ocean Race’s sixth leg to their home port of Newport, Rhode Island, USA, snatched a narrow lead on Friday.
Photo: Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race
The 5,010-nautical mile (nm) stage from Itajaí, Brazil, to Newport could not be more finely balanced as, once again, the six boats are incredibly closely matched in the Atlantic as they headed from South to North America.
Photo: Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race
After leaving a windless Itajaí on Sunday, overall race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), have had their noses narrowly in front for a large part, but the rest of the fleet have been no more than 10nm adrift for much of that tim
Photo: Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE / Volvo Ocean Race
After leaving a windless Itajaí on Sunday, overall race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), have had their noses narrowly in front for a large part, but the rest of the fleet have been no more than 10nm adrift for much of that time.
Photo: Sam Greenfield / Dongfeng Race Team / Volvo Ocean Race
With some squally conditions and shifting winds as the boats progressed away from the Brazilian coast, the fleet finally showed some sign of separation – but it is still anyone’s leg to win, with more than 4,000nm to sail.
Photo: Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race
Enright’s crew overtook the Emirati boat early on Friday (0940 UTC) and claimed a slim lead of 8nm with Chinese challengers Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) some 3.5nm further behind (see panel above).
Photo: Corinna Halloran / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), who had concerns about their key fractional code zero (FRO) sail before the leg and then broke a winch, threatened briefly to take the lead themselves on Thursday before falling back.
Photo: Sam Greenfield / Dongfeng Race Team / Volvo Ocean Race
Onboard reporter Corinna Halloran (USA) explained that there was plenty of work to be done after the team discovered their portside runner winch housing had cracked.

“We are currently fixing the cracked winch. However, the repair will not be ideal and still might cause trouble," she wrote in a daily blog from the boat.

“The odds of that happening are pretty much a billion to one," added British crew member Abby Ehler.

That particular winch takes up to 10 tonnes of load as the runner helps to hold up the rig.

The women’s boat, however, was still very well placed in fourth with Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) to their their stern, and MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) currently bringing up the rear, 14.5nm behind the leaders.

The latest projections are that the fleet will arrive in Newport between May 6-8 after 17-19 days of sailing.

Abu Dhabi Ocean moved seven points clear at the top after winning Leg 5, but there are still just under half of the overall points up for grabs with four stages, including the current one, to race before the climax in Gothenburg in the last week of June.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Nine Dragons Wins IRC New South Wales Championship at Sail Port Stephens

Flat water, 12 knot south westerly winds and the backdrop of a darkening sky produced a magnificent track for the IRC fleet offshore and this afternoon the New South Wales fleet is holding up two new IRC state champions.
Nine Dragons Photo: Saltwater Images
Bob Cox’s Nine Dragons from Middle Harbour Yacht Club and Mark Griffith’s Old School from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club ran stellar campaigns over the three day six race offshore series in the Providence Bay area of the Port Stephens Marine Park.
Photo: Saltwater Images
A hotly contested division 1 was in the end comfortably taken out by Cox’s DK46, the reigning national class B IRC champion. Eight and a half points off the new state champion was Stephen Barlow’s Farr 40, Forty (RSYS) with a hot shot young crew aboard in second and Tony Kirby’s Ker 46 Patrice (CYCA) placed third.
Forty Photo: Saltwater Images
“The 11 year-old DK proved it’s got plenty of life in it. When I looked at the list of entries prior to the regatta I thought it would be hard going. We knew we had to be consistent and keep ourselves up there. Bobby [Wilmot] our tactician did a terrific job of old school sailing without any electronics. We couldn’t have asked for a better regatta,” Cox said.
Photo: Saltwater Images
Off the back of an IRC division win at last year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, runner up in division 2 Stephen Barlow thought he’d give the state champs a whirl and says Forty was sailed above expectations.
Old School Photo: Saltwater Images
“We had some pretty good guys on board with tactician Seve Jarvin, Joe Turner and John Flannery plus a whole lot of YSA guys from the CYCA. It was our first time at Sail Port Stephens and the forecast was perfect for us,” Barlow said.
Wild Rose Photo: Saltwater Images
Mark Griffith’s Sydney 38 Old School secured their top podium placing yesterday, Saturday April 18, and only needed to start today’s closing race. 

“It was a great series and surprisingly competitive. Even though we ended up with a big score and a fair way ahead on points, on the race course the margins were very tight. Whereas some of the other boats do better in certain conditions, Forty is competitive in a wide range; we are a good all-rounder. This Sail Port Stephens had the best conditions for a regatta I can remember,” Griffith said.

Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose (CYCA), last year’s NSW IRC titleholder, current Australian IRC class C champion and overall winner of the 2014 Sydney Hobart yacht race, sailed smartly as always but needed more oomph to push the old girl around the cans a little faster.

“Major congratulations to Old School along with all our competitors,” said the Wild Rose team this afternoon on social media. “We are pleased with our second place and are looking forward to seeing you all at Hamilton Island for the nationals.”

Third in division 2 was Peter Sorensen’s The Philosopher’s Club (MHYC), a two-time IRC national champion.

For full results see>>>

Lisa Ratcliff

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Team Brunel Wins Very Slow In-Port Race in Itajaí

Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) won an excruciatingly drawn-out Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Itajaí in the Volvo Ocean Race on Saturday when a lack of breeze tested the sailors' patience and seamanship to the full.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
The very hard-earned victory takes the Dutch boat to the top of the in-port race series overall standings on 15 points (see panel above), one point clear of second-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR).
Photo: Laura Lopes / Dongfeng Race Team
For so long this morning it was not clear if the packed docks of fans in Itajaí would even see an in-port race, with wind pressures barely passing three knots.Race management postponed the start for 10 minutes before the boats were finally able to cross the start line.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) were happy simply to be on the racecourse, after their shore team and the race’s Boatyard crew were forced to work all night to reinforce a section of their mast, ensuring the rig was robust enough.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) were the first to show in the shortened, two-lap, four-leg contest as they chased their third win in the in-port series, and second in a row after their success in Auckland.
They narrowly reached the first gate ahead of overall race and in-port series leaders, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, with the all-female crew and Emirati crew opting for different sides of the course.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
The pair completed lap two virtually neck-and-neck all the way as they desperately sought the little wind pressure Itajaí was offering on an overcast, but bright early afternoon. Slowly but surely, however, the crew of Azzam began to eke out an advantage over the women, but then the wind dropped completely and the entire fleet slowed to a virtual standstill.
Photo: Marc Bow / Volvo Ocean Race
Team SCA were rocked by a 360-degree penalty turn for fouling, who suddenly moved from towards the back of the fleet into second place.The Dutch, though, then took their turn to feel total frustration as the wind deserted them and instead, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) claimed the pace.
Photo: Laura Lopes / Dongfeng Race Team
With the finish at last in sight, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team found themselves virtually in a dead heat for the lead, but still struggling desperately to find pressure.
Finally, Bouwe Bekking's men shook off what they must have felt was concrete from their hull to win their first in-port race of the series.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
Azzam then eased past Dongfeng for second with Team SCA pipping MAPFRE for fourth and Team Alvimedica had to settle for sixth.

Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Itajaí results:
1. Team Brunel 15:31:47 (local finish time) – 1pt
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 15:33:10 – 2pts
3. Dongfeng Race Team 15:33:21 – 3pts
4. Team SCA 15:33:43 – 4pts

5. MAPFRE 15:34:10 – 5pts
6. Team Alvimedica 15:35:58 – 6pts
Team Vestas Wind – DNS 8pts

Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race Series overall standings (after six races of 10):
1. Team Brunel – 15pts
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 16pts
3. Team SCA – 20pts
4. Dongfeng Race Team – 21pts
5. Team Alvimedica – 26pts
6. MAPFRE – 30pts
7. Team Vestas Wind – 44 pts

Race statistics:
Start time 14:10 local time
True Wind Speed: 5-6 knots at the start dropped to 3 knots
True Wind Direction: 090 at the start shifting from 370 to 090 during the race
Bearing to gate bottom gate: 270 for the first lap move to 050 for 2nd rounding.
Distance 1nm, 3 laps shortened to 2 laps.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Vestas Wind Reinvention Currently Taking Place - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) shore manager Neil Cox has paid tribute to the joint efforts to return the Danish boat into the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 – and is cautiously optimistic they are on track.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race
The team, who did serious damage to their Volvo Ocean 65 on November 29during Leg 2 when they collided with a reef in the Indian Ocean, are rebuilding the boat in the Persico boatyard in Bergamo, Italy.
Photo: Brian Carlin / Team Vestas Wind / Volvo Ocean Race
They have set themselves a very tight schedule of returning to the current 12th edition by the Lisbon stopover in late May/early June to sail the final two legs. The fleet is scheduled to depart from Portugal for Lorient, France, on June 6.
Photo: Brian Carlin / Team Vestas Wind / Volvo Ocean Race
There have already been huge efforts to help facilitate Vestas Wind's return with Race partners, Maersk Line, and sponsors, GAC & GAC Pindar, overseeing the boat's crossing from Malaysia. Cox hopes they can make that deadline, but warns it is still a huge challenge despite the great teamwork between the various cogs in a big wheel, including Persico and Green Marine (Britain).
Photo: Brian Carlin / Team Vestas Wind / Volvo Ocean Race
“Like all intense build projects, you can see the signs of wear on the guys, but to their credit they have not yet shown any sign of things being in the ‘too hard’ basket,” he said on Wednesday.

“The reality is, though, that we are going to have some challenging days in front of us to hold this all together as required. But we have a pretty determined group.”

The immediate target is have the boat ready to be loaded on to a truck from the shed at Persico for the long journey to Lisbon in six weeks.

Cox listed the progress so far.

“The deck is on, the boat is out of the mould. All the primary structure is in the boat and a large percentage of the internal secondary structure and detailing is underway,” he said.

“The hull surface has come out of the mould nicely and we have the paint team starting on all the surface prep work here, filling in any pin holes before the application of primer/undercoat.

“With this done, we want to offer the teams from Diverse, Navtec, Livewire, Cariboni (working on internal components such as the electronics and hydraulics) as much uninterrupted runway through the boat as possible.

“We are still receiving required equipment daily by the pallet load and have had the support of both Green Marine and Volvo Ocean Race shared services helping with the transfer of both information and parts.”

Meanwhile, work on the racing boats that contested the treacherous Leg 5, has progressed without major issue.

That includes Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA). The boat’s mast, which was fractured during the stage and forced their retirement, is being replaced. Caudrelier and his crew expect to return their boat to the Itajaí waters on Thursday, ahead of Saturday’s Team Vestas Wind Itajaí In-Port Race.

The other teams – Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) – had much smaller repair lists and are all back in perfect shape for race weekend (April 18-19).

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hooligan Rocks Pittwater at MC38 Nationals Thanks to Beasho

Vitamin kingpin Marcus Blackmore is used to winning in business and yacht racing. Nine months as the owner of his latest yacht called Hooligan, a polished black MC38, and he’s in control of the Australian Championship on Pittwater.
Photo: Courtesy of McConaghy Boats
Hooligan leads with four points and the next three, John Bacon’s Dark Star, Chris Hancock’s Vino and Leslie Green’s Ginger sit behind, all finishing the day on 10 points.
Photo: Courtesy of McConaghy Boats
“Credit goes to Beasho without question, he had a blinder,” Blackmore praised, referring to his tactician Adam Beashel who grew up on Pittwater and went into professional sailing at the highest level, the America’s Cup as the strategist of Emirates Team New Zealand.
Photo: Courtesy of McConaghy Boats
Hooligan scored 1,2,1 on a changing track north of Scotland Island. “We didn’t lead these races, we just plugged away and got back in the game,” Blackmore said. “It wasn’t easy to steer today. I never once looked at the wind angle; I was fixed on the boat’s heel angle all day. Beasho has changed how we sail downwind plus we have a consistent crew; there’s no question we are faster.”
Photo: Courtesy of McConaghy Boats
Beashel agreed he had a good feel for downwind performance today, “things fell into place,” he smiled wryly. In this game and this fleet the difference between opening scores and final results can be eternity. And Beashel knows it.
Photo: Courtesy of McConaghy Boats
Up to twenty knots of SW breeze in the second race fizzled out and delayed the start of the third race by more than two hours. The race committee and the fleet of eight MC38 one designs went chasing the wind back and forth from Clareville across to Pittwater’s western shoreline around Morning Bay with the postponement flag flying. Principal Race Officer Steve Merrington went into one sequence then abandoned that start as the wind twisted around the southerly bearing.
Photo: Courtesy of McConaghy Boats
Further down the coast Sydney Harbour was showing consistent breeze but frustratingly it didn’t make it to Pittwater until a dark line appeared promisingly out of the sou’east corner. The committee set up a short course in anticipation and went into sequence after 3pm with the sun dropping over Kur-ing-ai Chase National Park, a relieved PRO finally able to say to crews “let’s have a crack."

Skipper of the third placed Vino, Chris Hancock, said “we had a good day and we are very satisfied. It wasn’t easy racing, a lot of concentration was required. If you got on the wrong side of the course it was pretty much game over. Hooligan did a fantastic job, they were very impressive. At this stage they have taken control but there’s still seven to go. Racing as always was very tight, one misjudgement and you are back in the field.”

Tomorrow’s forecast, Saturday April 11, 2015 is south to south-westerly around 10 knots becoming south-easterly in the middle of the day then north-easterly later. Another four races are scheduled, the first due to start at 1100hrs in what’s likely to be the day’s best conditions.

After racing host Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club welcomed crews and their families back to the clubhouse on a Sydney stunning autumn afternoon to enjoy a snag in bread with some dead horse [Aussie slang for tomato sauce] and a well-earned drink courtesy of regatta sponsor Harken Australia.

Lisa Ratcliff

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Team SCA Arrive In Itajaí - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Battered, bruised, but defiant to the last, Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) finally completed a gruelling Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Tuesday and arrived to a well-deserved Brazilian welcome fit for heroines.
Photo: Buda Mendes / Volvo Ocean Race
Itajaí reserved its very best weather for the arrival of the first all-women’s crew to enter the race for 12 years, a sharp contrast to the conditions the team have battled with since leaving Auckland on March 18.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
At the beginning of last week, having struggled in 50 knots of wind (92 km per hour) and a confused sea state, Team SCA were one of three crews to crash on their sides during a Chinese gybe, damaging their fractional code zero, a key sail in the process.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
The setback left them with no chance of keeping pace with the main racing pack led by winners, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), which completed the 6,776-nautical mile (nm) leg on Sunday.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
At one stage, they also lost their electronics overnight, effectively sailing blind in the Southern Ocean. Then, last Sunday, they were rocked again by three collisions with unidentified objects as they raced up the Brazilian coast in the South Atlantic, the first doing considerable damage to the rudder.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
Undaunted, Davies and her 11-strong crew battled on to finish the event’s toughest leg at around 1352 GMT (local time 1052) on Tuesday (see panel for elapsed times).

"We made it to dock! We made mistakes, we had things go wrong, but we fixed it all and we've made it here, and we're in one piece so we're happy," said the British skipper.

"We proved at the beginning that we could keep up with the others, but then we broke our fractional sail, the sail that we really needed for this leg.

"So we kind of let ourselves down by losing that sail. It was really, really hard; we were frustrated. There was nothing much we could do in certain conditions without our fractional.

"The race became a bit of different challenge from then on."

Team SCA have earned five points to take their overall tally to 29.

The shore crew, working with the race’s Boatyard team, will now have a busy few days ensuring the boat is back to optimum condition ready for the Team Vestas Wind Itajaí In-Port race on April 18 and the Leg 6 departure for Newport, Rhode Island, a day later.

Meanwhile, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), who were forced to retire from the leg after breaking their mast on Monday last week, are delivering their stricken boat to Itajaí under sail and motor.

They will have about four days to have their boat repaired in time for the Newport departure.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Team SCA Battle On - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) were still doggedly battling the elements on Monday to reach their destination in Itajaí, south-east Brazil, more than 12 hours after the leaders had finished Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
Rarely in the 41-year history of the race can a team have worked so hard to clinch points for fifth place. A week after crashing to their side in a Chinese gybe and damaging a key sail, the all-women crew found themselves toppled again after colliding into an unidentified object in the south Atlantic.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
That did some damage to their port rudder, yet their run of bad luck, which denied them a possible finish alongside leg winners Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) on Sunday night, was not over yet.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
They suffered two further ‘hits’ in the dark – mercifully, causing little damage – before continuing on their way. By 0940 UTC on Monday, they had just over 400 nautical miles (nm) of the 6,766nm leg to sail, with an expected time of arrival in Itajaí of 1600 UTC on Tuesday.
Photo: Vincent Arens / Volvo Ocean Race
Team SCA’s Onboard Reporter, Anna-Lena Elled (SWE), summed up one hell of a tough day at the office for the first all-female team to contest offshore sailing’s most challenging race:
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
“As is so often the case, when you least expect something to happen it does and boom we hit something with the port rudder,” she wrote in her daily blog from the boat.The boat turned around, tacked and capsized, and once again, we were on our side. The crew managed to right the situation quickly without any further damage, except on the rudder that got hit.
Photo: Buda Mendes / Volvo Ocean Race
“A two-hour long process of surveying and attempting to restore the damaged parts followed before we could continue our journey towards the finish line again. A few hours later we had one more hit, this time in the keel - and before sunset another one. What are the odds?”
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
At least they had the consolation of knowing that they weren’t alone in their misfortune during the longest and toughest leg in the 12th edition.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) were forced to pull out last week after the top of their mast fractured and a delivery crew is currently nursing the boat to Itajaí where they will have a new rig fitted.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
It will be a race against time to be ready for the start of Leg 6 to Newport, Rhode Island, which departs from Itajaí on April 19.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
Meantime, victors Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were celebrating Sunday’s epic Leg 5 victory, which leaves them seven points clear at the top of the standings, and front-runners for the IWC 24-hour Speed Record Challenge, having covered 551nm during the stage from Auckland to Brazil.

And there was more good news for skipper Ian Walker, with the crew’s sole Emirati, Adil Khalid (UAE), once more back to full fitness having missed the previous two legs due to illness.

“As part of my recovery plan, I stayed on Sir Bani Yas Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi, where I had a rigorous fitness regime. I did six hours in the gym every day and had a nutritionist and physical trainer on hand to monitor my progress,” said Khalid.

“It was tough, but I’m now fully cleared for action and right back up to the levels I have to be at to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race.”

Volvo Ocean Race Media