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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dongfeng Becomes First Chinese Team To Win A Volvo Ocean Race Leg

Dongfeng Race Team claimed a key landmark in the 41-year history of the Volvo Ocean Race on Tuesday when they emphatically won Leg 3 in their home port of Sanya to take the overall lead with six stages to go.
Photo: David Ramos/Volvo Ocean Race
No Chinese team has won a leg in the race before despite two previous entries – Green Dragon in 2008-09 and Team Sanya in 2011-12 – but Charles Caudrelier’s (FRA) crew put that right in style.
Photo: Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race
“It’s the most stressful leg I’ve ever done in my life. But the result is fantastic,” said Caudrelier, minutes after crossing the line.
Photo: Victor Fraile/Volvo Ocean Race
After finishing narrow runners-up to Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) respectively in Legs 1 and 2, Dongfeng took a firm grip of the 4,670-nautical mile stage from Abu Dhabi to China virtually from the start on January 3.
Photo: Victor Fraile/Volvo Ocean Race
At one stage, entering the treacherous Malacca Strait, they stretched their advantage over the fleet to more than 106nm but the fleet never gave up their chase and as they skirted along the wind-shielded Vietnamese coast, Caudrelier found his team’s lead cut to under 10 nautical miles.
Photo: Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race
But the 40-year-old and his crew of experienced French sailors mixed with rookie Chinese Cheng Ying Kit (‘Kit’) and Liu Xue (‘Black’) plus young Australian Jack Bouttell, stuck grimly to their game plan and slowly but surely stretched their lead once more as they entered the final day’s sailing.
Photo: Victor Fraile/Volvo Ocean Race
An infuriating – for Caudrelier and his crew – lack of wind in the South China Sea kept the tension up into the small hours of Tuesday morning and once more the fleet led by Walker’s Azzam closed the gap a little but Dongfeng had come too far for too long to relinquish their advantage now.

At just past 0731 local time (2331 UTC), they crossed the finish on a glorious Sanya morning just after daybreak, some 45nm clear of second-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) with Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) 13.5nm further behind.

They are expected to scrap all the way to the finish with MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) hot on their heels.

Those boats are expected to finish within short order of each other later on Tuesday with Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) due to complete the leg later into the evening.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Gotta Love It 7 Back In The Game

18ft Skiffs NSW Championship, Race 4
Lord Mayors Trophy
Monday, 26 January 2015, Sydney Harbour

The fourth different winner from four races sailed to date has the NSW 18ft Skiff Championship wide open going into next Sunday’s last race of the series on Sydney Harbour.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
The defending champion Gotta Love It 7 team came back strongly today to score an impressive two minute 55seconds win after a starting line incident forced the skiff out of yesterday’s race.After all teams discard their worst performance to date, only three points separates the leading five teams.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney) leads the pack on seven points, followed by Mojo Wine (Lee Knapton) and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon) on eight, Gotta Love It 7 on nine points and Asko Appliances on ten.

The position could become even more complicated as Gotta Love It 7 has a protest hearing pending which could improve the teams score if average points is awarded by the protest committee. Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin, Sam Newton, Scott Babbage) took the lead soon after the start and led by 25 seconds at the first windward mark on the three lap windward-return course.

Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones, James Dorron, Jeronimo Harrison) continued their form improvement to hold second place behind 7, and maintained this throughout the race. Lumix (Brett Van Munster, Aron Everett, Daniel Nixon) trailed at the first windward mark but a strong spinnaker leg back to the bottom mark on the first lap saw the team start to put the pressure on Asko Appliances.

On the final lap of the course, the pair were within a few secs. of each other but Asko held strong and finished 10 seconds ahead of Lumix. Yandoo (John Winning) also impressed with a fifth place after capsizing following an incident with Pure Blonde (Nick Daly).

After scoring a big win in yesterday’s race, Thurlow Fisher Lawyers was forced out only moments after the start when the skiff suffered jib failure.

Frank Quealey

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Thurlow Fisher Lawyers Claim Victory - 18ft Skiffs - Sydney Harbour

18ft Skiffs NSW Championship, Race 3
Sunday, 25 January 2015, Sydney Harbour
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
The Thurlow Fisher Lawyers team became the third different winner from the three races sailed so far in the NSW 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour. Michael Coxon, Dave O’Connor and Trent Barnabas handled the light, variable north-east to perfection as they raced away from the rest of the fleet for a three minute 29 second victory
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Last week’s winner Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney, Peter Harris, Mark Kennedy) finished second, with a much-improved Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones, James Dorron, Jeronimo Harrison) a further 49s back in third place.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Mojo Wine (Lee Knapton) was fourth, followed by Smeg (David Witt) and De’Longhi (Simon Nearn). The trio of race winners (Mojo Wine, Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers) has them all level with a total of eight points each.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Defending champion and pre-series favourite Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin) is having an unfortunate series to date but is hopeful a favourable protest hearing decision following today’s race will bring the team back into contention.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
The light wind, which varied several times in direction and strength, provided spectators with an interesting spectacle as all teams had their own theories about the best course to sail – both on and off the breeze.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Last week’s winner, Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel again showed good windward speed to take a 10 second lead over De’Longhi at the Beashel Buoy, followed by Thurlow Fisher Lawyers, Asko Appliances, Mojo Wine and Yandoo (John Winning).
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
On the spinnaker run back from the Beashel Buoy to the wing mark off the southern end of Shark Island, the leading six teams had vastly different ideas as they selected a variety of angles into the Rose Bay.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
‘The Rag’ held her lead at the wing mark but Thurlow Fisher Lawyers was looking in good touch as she edged ahead of De’Longhi. At the bottom mark, the wind was extremely light as the fleet bunched and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers grabbed a 15s lead over Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
The following seven boats were close behind headed by De’Longhi, Asko Appliances, Mojo Wine and Yandoo. Thurlow Fisher Lawyers dramatically increased her lead on the next windward beat then raced right away to establish a 1m55s break at the bottom mark on the second lap.

While the race for the lead was basically all over the battle for the next six placings was certainly up for grabs as positions changed regularly. Following an incident at the start of the race, Gotta Love It 7’s crew entered a protest requesting average points as the skiff was forced to retire with a broken outer wing tube which supports the pole wires.

Race 4 of the championship is due to be sailed tomorrow (Monday, 26 January) so the fate of Team Seven won’t be known until just before the last race of the series next Sunday.

Frank Quealey

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dongfeng Lead Charge to Sanya - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) tightened their stranglehold on Leg 3 as they began their navigation through the treacherous Malacca Strait on Monday with a historic Volvo Ocean Race breakthrough for China tantalisingly within sight.
Photo: Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race
None of the three Chinese teams to enter the race has ever won a stage in offshore sailing’s most prestigious event but Dongfeng are ideally poised to be the first, protecting a 106.3 nautical mile (nm) lead over MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) at 0950 UTC.
Photo: Francisco Vignale/MAPFRE/Volvo Ocean Race
Caudrelier and his mixture of experienced French solo sailors and Chinese rookies must now pick their way through the Malacca Strait, a 500nm journey that could easily scupper all their hopes before they even reach the final section of the 4,670nm stage through the South China Sea to Sanya.
Photo: Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race
The Strait, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, separates the Indonesian island of Sumatra from Malaysia and is chock-a-block with huge tankers, dozens of tiny fishing vessels and the ubiquitous man-made, floating debris.
Photo: Matt Knighton/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
In past races, navigators and helmsmen have found themselves dodging discarded refrigerators and rusting washing machines. A collision with such a hazard at speed could cause considerable damage to a Volvo Ocean 65.
Photo: Stefan Coppers/Team Brunel/Volvo Ocean Race
Additionally, the winds there are notoriously fickle and Dongfeng could yet be parked in zero wind while the rest of the chasing pack catches up in stronger pressure.
Photo: Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race
“We are happy, of course, to have led for nearly 13 days, but we are also very tense,” he said. “We dream – without thinking too much about it – of being first to arrive ‘home’ but these Straits really concern us. The race is, without doubt, going to be decided there,” Caudrelier said.

Meanwhile, the race 100nm or so behind Dongfeng is really heating up with their chief rivals for the overall trophy, Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), both currently outside the top three.

Their places have been taken by MAPFRE who continue to thrive under the stewardship of stand-in skipper Xabi Fernández, and third-placed Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA).

At 0950, MAPFRE led Team Alvimedica by exactly 3nm with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing the same distance behind the Turkish/American team in fourth.

Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) are not racing the leg but heading on a transport ship instead for Genoa, Italy, from Malaysia after their boat was retrieved from an Indian Ocean reef just before Christmas. It ran aground there on November 29, causing major damage.

It will be arriving in Genoa on Sunday, January 25, and will then be transported to the Persico boatyard in Bergamo for repairs. The plan is that the Danish team will re-enter the race for the final two legs from June in Lisbon.

The fleet is forecast to arrive in Sanya, Hainan Island on the southern-most tip of China on January 27 or, less likely, January 28.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Monday, January 12, 2015

Big Year Ahead For Bella Mente

The 72 foot maxi yacht Bella Mente is set for a big year in 2015. Owner Hap Fauth will lead a team of 26 sailors to compete in seven of the year’s most prominent regattas that incorporates a talented new crew and rig modifications into the program.
Photo: Jesus Renedo
Terry Hutchinson is onboard for the entire year and has brought with him renowned professional sailors Skip Baxter, Brian MacInnes, James Dagg and Jim Turner. 
Photo: Jesus Renedo
“We’ve made some significant changes to the core crew. Terry has been the key ingredient for a number of very successful programs. He brings great discipline as well as a winning point of view. I speak for the team when I say we are very excited about the fresh perspective these sailors will bring to racing,” Fauth said. 
Photo: Jesus Renedo
“There are three very important components to running a campaign. First, you need to be continually working to build the strongest team. It’s more than just professional resumes, it’s about guys that have good chemistry together. Secondly, you have to have a wellthought-out campaign each year, with objectives for each race and objectives for the whole season. Third is logistics management. Everything from plane tickets and room accommodations to onboard food provisioning needs to be completed in a regimented fashion,” he added.
Photo Credit: Onne van der Wal
Bella Mente Racing hit the water in December to practice with the new crew members and test out its new Southern Spars mast with C6 rigging by Composite Rigging. Racing will kick off next week in Florida with Quantum Key West Race Week. 

From there the team heads to the Caribbean for the RORC Caribbean 600 in February and Les Voiles de St. Barth in April. Bella Mente will then be shipped to the United Kingdom where the team will compete on the Solent for the RYS International Bicentennial Regatta and Cowes Week before starting the world-class Rolex Fastnet Race in August. Bella Mente Racing’s pinnacle event, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Sardinia, will conclude the season in September.

Lulu Roseman

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mojo Rips It Up on Sydney Harbour - 18 Foot Skiffs

18ft Skiffs NSW Championship, Race 1
Sunday, 11 January 2015, Sydney Harbour

Following a three-week layoff over Christmas-New Year, the Australian 18 Footers League’s 18ft Skiff fleet returned to Sydney Harbour today to contest Race 1 of the NSW Championship. Conditions were far from perfect for the 15 teams with a variable south wind the order of the day.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Australian 16 Footer champion Lee Knapton won his second consecutive scratch race in the 18 seconds when he teamed with Ricky Bridge and Mike McKensey to bring Mojo Wine home just four seconds ahead of Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin, Sam Newton, John Winning Jr.).
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Third place went to Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon, Dave O’Connor, Charles Dorron), which finished a further one minute and nine seconds behind Gotta Love It 7. John Winning’s Yandoo was fourth, followed by Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney), Pure Blonde (Nick Daly) and Lumix (Jonathan Whitty).
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Mojo Wine grabbed the lead at the first windward leg from Gotta Love It 7, Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones), Yandoo. The brand new Appliancesonline.com.au (Micah Lane, Paul Montague and Tom Anderson), which was having her first start, was in fifth place.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
On the long spinnaker run from Clarke Island to Obelisk Bay, the Mojo Wine crew sailed faultlessly to increase the lead over Team Seven to 25 seconds. The pair had edged away from the rest of the fleet, with Yandoo in third place 1m behind the leader.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Mojo Wine elected to sail the northern shore on the work back into Rose Bay while Gotta Love It 7 sailed a middle of the harbour course.When the pair met at the mouth of Rose Bay Gotta Love It 7 had recovered brilliantly to cross Mojo. At the Rose Bay mark 7's lead was 35 seconds and the all familiar look of a Gotta Love It 7 victory was on the cards.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Thurlow Fisher Lawyers and Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel had their own personal ‘fight’ for most of the course as they battled behing the third placed Yandoo. Gotta Love It 7’s lead got out to as much as 1m10s at Obelisk Bay on the second lap and there appeared nothing was going to stop a Gotta Love It 7 win.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
That was until the final spinnaker run when the ‘ímpossible’ happened and 7s spinnaker went overboard off Bradley’s Head. Seizing the opportunity, the Mojo Wine team challenged hard and trailed narrowly as the two teams headed for home.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
As the skiffs set for the windward beat back from Athol Bay to the finish line off Clarke Island, Mojo Wine picked up a slight wind shift was enough to see it grab victory only 20 metres from the finish line.

Frank Quealey

Sunday, January 4, 2015

No Easy Ride For Hugo Boss Despite Record

A new record for the 538-mile opening passage from Barcelona to Gibraltar was set by Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes when they exited the Mediterranean on Hugo Boss on Thursday evening, leading the Barcelona World Race. But their passage into the Atlantic proved problematic when they then hit two unidentified objects and hooked a net around their keel in strong winds and muscular seas.
Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget/Barcelona World Race
The English-Spanish duo had no choice but to sail through the hours of darkness, at speeds which they reported to their technical team were 30 per cent less than they should have been.

Early this morning, once the seas had eased slightly, Thomson and Ribes completed a more satisfactory back-up and shook off the debris. Having lost some hard-earned miles they dropped to fourth on this morning’s leaderboard, in part because they held on to a more northerly position diverging from the direct course. But by afternoon today – rather ominously for their opposition ­– the silver-hulled Hugo Boss is back up to second place, some five miles behind Franco-Swiss duo Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam on Cheminées Poujoulat, who still lead.

Hugo Boss marked a new race time to Gibraltar at 2 days 5 hrs 50 mins, reducing the 2011 record of Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron by 26 hours and 5 minutes.

Six boats of the fleet of eight IMOCA 60s have passed Gibraltar and are into the Atlantic this Friday afternoon. Neutrogena (Guillermo Altadill and Jose Munoz) were second out, only 1h 43m behind their team-mates from the 5 Degrees West stable, with Cheminées Poujoulat breaking the 5 deg 37 W line some 26 minutes after them – both about 1.7 to 2 miles off the Tarifa coast. GAES Centros Auditivos entered the Atlantic next, before Renault Captur this morning at 0517hrs UTC, 11 hours and 27 mins after the leaders.

With the fleet relatively compacted through the very narrow opening formed by the Straits, it is no surprise that it was not just Hugo Boss which reported problems with debris in the water. Anna Corbella and Gérard Marin on GAES Centros Auditivos also hooked unidentified material. Four years ago, when competing with Dee Caffari in the second edition of the race, Corbella had to swim off GAES Centros Auditivos to remove weed and ropes in the same area. She said this morning:

“I don’t know if the other boats have hit so many objects. We don’t know what it was, because it was at night and we could not see, but we have hit some six different things: tree trunks or whatever. We got things stuck to our keel… and our rudders have a system by which they pop up when they hit something and we have had a few hits there in the middle of the Straits, when it was quite windy. I can tell you, that was fun!”

The top three boats were within six miles of each other this afternoon, with GAES Centros Auditivos dropping back to 29 miles behind the leaders. In fifth Renault Captur also had their rudder kick up in the Straits, momentarily losing control in strong winds of more than 30kts.

Co-skipper Jörg Riechers (GER) reported from Renault Captur:

“We had just furled the big gennaker and were sailing with only one rudder because the other was up, and that was the moment that this rudder decided to come up too, so the boat luffed up into the wind. Fortunately nothing was broken and it was all quite stable. We just had to put the two rudders back down and to get sailing calmly with the winds at 33 knots, running right on the limit of gybing, to get past a tanker which we were talking with quarter of an hour before.”

The race committee has filed a protest after Renault Captur failed to follow the correct course through the Straits, with investigation pending.

In eighth Nandor Fa (HUN) and Conrad Colman (NZL) on Spirit of Hungary have to deal with the fact they are being left behind. They have no choices since they have been snared in the Alb oran Sea by very light winds. Unfortunately for them, and One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton (Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa) in seventh, the high pressure area is likely to expand with them, and slow their departure from the Straits yet further. Colman was putting his bravest face on when he spoke on the Video Conference this morning:

“There is nothing we can do... There has been a big difference between what we have seen on the GRIB (weather) files and what we have had. Where it said eight knots we have had two if we are lucky.”

His co-skipper explained: “We were too conservative at the start, sailing with the reacher when we should have had the A3 gennaker up, but that was the way it was, and we went too far east.”

The troubles the duo have now – 300 miles behind the leaders – are understandable considering their lack of time with the boat which Fa designed. In fact it was only re-launched six weeks before the start and this is its first ever race of any type. The partnership came together as the boat was launched and, although they have four circumnavigations between them, are struggling to come to terms with the early losses such as the cruel Mediterranean can deliver.

Barcelona World Race Media