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Monday, October 20, 2014

Through the Looking Glass - Rolex Middle Sea Race

After a long and frustrating second night at sea, the Rolex Middle Sea Race fleet continues to make slow progressing on a mirror-like sea. Despite the very light winds, by 13.00hrs on Day 3, all but four yachts had rounded Stromboli and the frontrunners are approaching Palermo at the northwest tip of Sicily.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Just 50 hours after the Saluting Battery cannons marked the start of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, 100 nautical miles separate the two extremities of the fleet. The Maltese yacht Salana is the last competitor on the course and is approaching Stromboli.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
In 2007 George Davis’ Rambler finished just before midday on the third day to set a new course record of 47 hours, 55 minutes and 03 seconds, at an average speed of 12.65 knots. This year’s leading yacht, the Slovenian maxi Esimit Europa 2, is currently averaging only 5 knots and is about halfway home.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Rán 2 and Shockwave continue to chase Esimit Europa 2. At 11.00 this morning Niklas Zennström’s Maxi 72 was just 14 nautical miles behind Igor Simcic’s maxi and four nautical miles ahead Georges Sakellari’s Maxi 72 Shockwave.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
The last boat exited the Strait of Messina at 04.00hrs last night, while the bulk of the fleet was rounding Stromboli. Some of the yachts have headed north of the rhumb (most direct course) in the search of more breeze. The Race Tracker shows those boats still near the volcanic island to be at a standstill.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Concentration, focussed trimming, correct sail selection, precise helming and minimizing unnecessary movements are key to getting the best out of really light conditions. With the hours of darkness exceeding daylight at this time of the year, this difficult equation has an added challenge.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Tomorrow should bring a dramatic change in fortune. According to Principal Race Officer Peter Dimech: “A northwesterly wind will fill in late on Tuesday. The big boats will be flying, and should start arriving on Wednesday morning, Thursday and Friday for the rest of the fleet.”

Regatta News

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Slow And Steady - Rolex Middle Sea Race

The first 24 hours of the Rolex Middle Sea Race has seen the fleet progress slowly up the eastern seaboard of Sicily towards the Strait of Messina. By 16.00 on Day 2, a mere ten per cent of the competition had passed through the Strait and started the leg to Stromboli, where they will turn west towards the Egadi Islands.
Esimit Europa 2 Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
In stark contrast to the progress made by the smaller yachts, the 100-foot Esimit Europa 2 managed to round Stromboli (at 14:30 CEST) after 26 hours of racing. The biggest and most powerful boat in the fleet averaged just less than 10 knots emphasising the prevailing light conditions.
Esimit Europa 2 Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
The Strait of Messina is a narrow passage separating the northeastern tip of Sicily and the mainland of Italy. For Rolex Middle Sea Race competitors it can prove a minefield with wind holes and strong currents that can bring yachts to a standstill, slowing the transition into the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Mascalzone Latino Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
According to Ian Moore, navigator on Mascalzone Latino the Strait impacts on one’s thinking very early after the start.
B2 Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
“You head straight for the [southern] corner of Sicily, and as soon as you are there you think: how do I enter the Strait of Messina? The current comes into the equation about ten miles out,” Moore said.
Varuna Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Vincenzo Onorato´s Italian Cookson 50 was the fourth boat to pass through the Strait while the bulk of the fleet is still negotiating the approach to the Strait. While the leaders on the water chose the western side or Sicilian side of the channel, the chasing group has decided to sail in the eastern lane, searching for wind closer to the mainland.
Shockwave Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
The 606 nautical mile racecourse is readily divided into separate legs, starting from Malta to Capo Passero, the southeast tip of Sicily; then north to the Strait of Messina. 12 yachts out of the 122 boats have started the third leg to Stromboli. Rán and Shockwave lead the group chasing Esimit Europa 2.
Rán Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Standing 926 metres above sea level, the island of Stromboli creates a strong wind shadow. According to the Rolex Middle Sea Race sailing instructions, the fleet must round this volcanic natural mark to port before its start to head west, and sail parallel to the northern coast of Sicily towards the Egadi Islands at the western extremity of the course.

Regatta News

Victory for Gotta Love It 7 - 18 Foot Skiffs - Sydney Harbour

18ft Skiffs Major A. Frizelle Trophy
Sunday, 19 October 2014, Sydney Harbour

The brilliant conditions of last week’s opening race of the season were duplicated today when the Australian 18 Footers League’s Major A. Frizelle Trophy race was sailed in a 20–knot north east wind on Sydney Harbour.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Current JJ Giltinan champion Gotta Love It 7 team of Seve Jarvin, Sam Newton and Scott Babbage showed why they are the world’s best team when they dominated the fleet to score a 3m4s victory.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Backmarker Thurlow Fisher Lawyers crew (Michael Coxon, Dave O’Connor and Dave Ewings) also showed their skill to finish second, with Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney, Mark Kennedy, Peter Calligeros) a further 21s back in third place.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Yandoo (Nick Press) was fourth, followed by Mojo Wine Lee Knapton) and Appliancesonline.com.au (Micah Lane). De’Longhi (Simon Nearn) looked certain to finish fourth but a capsize just 50 metres from the finish sent the skiff back into 10thplace.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Smeg (David Witt) also suffered a heavy loss of placings when spinnaker halyard problems forced the team back from second position to finish nineth. Gotta Love It 7 was in the lead from the start and led the fleet down the first spinnaker run from Smeg and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
David Witt and his Smeg team were superb on the run between Shark and Clarke islands and grabbed a narrow lead over ‘7’at the bottom mark.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Back on the wind, Gotta Love It 7 again grabbed the lead from Smeg and gradually eased away continually over the following two laps of the course. Smeg and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers staged their own personal match race and there was little between the two teams before Smeg lost the halyard.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
The next group also produced some close racing and spectacular action. Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel, De’Longhi, Yandoo, Lumix (Kevin Nixon) Appliancesonline and Mojo Wine were the most prominent of this group.

Frank Quealey

Plenty Wins 2014 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship in San Francisco

The Rolex Farr 40 World Championship has a new winner: Alex Roepers’ Plenty (USA).
Photo: Rolex / Daniel Forster
“It has been a long time coming. I entered the class seven years ago and this is the seventh world championship I’ve participated in,” said a delighted Roepers. “To win it finally is a dream come true. It feels incredible, I couldn't be happier.
Photo: Rolex / Daniel Forster
Winning four out of the week’s seven races held on San Francisco’s Berkeley Circle enabled Plenty  to become the twelfth different recipient of the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship title since the competition’s inauguration in 1998.
Photo: Rolex / Daniel Forster
Going into the decisive final day Plenty held a commanding 18-point advantage over her nearest rivals – Lisa and Martin Hill’s Estate Master from Australia. The chasing pack were fast running out of opportunities to claw back the leader’s significant advantage.
Photo: Rolex / Daniel Forster
Following the postponement of racing yesterday – a first in the event’s history – the fleet was forced to wait patiently for sailing to commence today. The breeze eventually obliged allowing the Race Committee to organise one final race. Plenty took no risks, playing it safe to finish tenth. Wolfgang Schaefer’s Struntje Light claimed race victory, her second bullet of the week.
Photo: Rolex / Daniel Forster
Plenty, with Terry Hutchinson calling tactics, began the week as competition favourites. Victory caps an outstanding season and dominant week. 
Photo: Rolex / Daniel Forster
“This has been a long season. It's a great win for Alex and a great win for team Plenty,” enthused Hutchinson, a two-time Rolex Farr 40 world champion on Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad (2004, 2009). 
Photo: Rolex / Daniel Forster
“Alex and I sailed together crewing for Alexis Michas at the very first Farr 40 World Championships in Miami. Alex was the pitman/floater and I was the tactician and our relationship began then. We’ve always stayed in touch and maintained a good friendship,” Hutchinson said.
Photo: Rolex / Daniel Forster
Second place today enabled Estate Master to hold onto the runners-up spot. 
Photo: Rolex / Daniel Forster
“It was a rewarding day. Coming into this regatta we would have been happy with fifth or sixth, so this is way above our expectations,” said Martin Hill.
Photo: Rolex / Daniel Forster
Having relinquished her world title, defending champion Enfant Terrible, from Italy, still managed to claim a podium place, finishing third. Plenty was rewarded for her efforts with the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship Trophy and a Rolex timepiece at the official prizegiving held at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.
Photo: Rolex / Daniel Forster
Yachts representing seven countries took part in the world-renowned one design championship, sponsored by Rolex since 2001, and hosted this year by the St. Francis Yacht Club.
Photo: Rolex / Daniel Forster
The international talent taking part featured Vasco Vascotto (Italy, Enfant Terrible); Ian Williams (Great Britain, Flash Gordon 6), Cameron Appleton (New Zealand, Groovederci); Malcolm Page (Australia, Kokomo); Terry Hutchinson (United States, Plenty); Ray Davies (New Zealand, Struntje Light) and 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby (Australia, Transfusion).

2014 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship Cumulative Results (Top 5)

1. Plenty (USA) Alex Roepers 1-1-1-6-4-1-10 24.0
2. Estate Master (AUS) Lisa and Martin Hill 4-3-8-2-9-6-2 34.0
3. Enfant Terrible (ITA) Alberto Rossi 5-7-6-7-6-2-6 39.0
4. Struntje Light (GER) Wolfgang Schaefer 13-13-5-1-3-5-1 41.0
5. Voodoo Chile (AUS) Andrew Hunn 9-6-3-11-2-3-11 45.0


Regatta News

Glamour Start For Rolex Middle Sea Race

With an impressive fleet of 122 yachts starting the 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race, the Mediterranean classic has shattered it's previous best entry list for the third year in a row. In 2012 83 boats took on the challenge, followed by 99 in 2013. Setting off in a sequence of five starts, this year’s international armada includes yachts from 24 different nationalities, ranging in size from 9.5 and 30.5 metres.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
The cannons of Saluting Battery mark the start of the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Thousands of spectators enjoy the spectacle from the shore and the water as the yachts leave Malta’s famous Grand Harbour. Valetta’s imposing bastions along with the Upper and Lower Barakka Gardens offer a privileged view over the starting area.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
After leaving Grand Harbour, the fleet followed the coast of Malta to a turning mark off St Julian’s where it heads north to Italy, and the Strait of Messina. The 606 nautical mile racecourse leaves to port Sicily, Stromboli, the Aeolian and Egadi islands, Pantelleria and Lampedusa, before returning through the South Comino Channel and the final stretch to the finish off the Royal Malta Yacht Club.
Esimit Europa 2 Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
The 100-foot Slovenian Maxi Esimit Europa 2 is the favoured candidate for the line honours victory. Skippered by German legend Jochen Schümann, she finished first in 2010, 2011 and 2012. While finishing first may be a foregone conclusion, breaking the course record of 47 hours, 55 minutes and 03 seconds is the ultimate prize for this professional crew.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Three previous overall winners are competing in this, the 35th edition: Pericles Livas and Nick Lazos’ Farr 52 OD Optimum 3 – Aspida – Saxon Bank from Greece won overall in 2004; Maltese skipper Lee Satariano’s J122 Artie won in 2011 and Michele Galli’s TP52 B2 from Italy is the defending champion. Both Artie and B2 lead their classes in the early hours of the race.
Rán Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Nikklas Zennström’s Rán is one of the strongest sailing teams in the world, with back-to-back victories in the Rolex Fastnet Race and three Mini Maxi Rolex World Championships. In an attempt to add the Rolex Middle Sea Race to their impressive record they are racing their latest Maxi 72, launched earlier this year. Another Maxi 72, American George Sakellaris’ Shockwave will be their main competition.
Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
A light southerly breeze marked the opening passages of the race. The weather forecast suggests a slow pace and tricky conditions for the first few days.

Regatta News

Rudder Drama For Dongfeng - Volvo Ocean Race

Dongfeng Race Team lost the lead in the Volvo Ocean Race early on Saturday after the boat hit an unidentified object and broke their rudder.They lost the lead but replaced the decimated part and they were soon back sailing at 20 knots.
Photo: Yann Riou/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race
The problem enabled Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to take the lead but the rest of the fleet were still hot on their heels.The Chinese team’s problems began at 0210 UTC when a ‘violent impact’ hit the boat.
Photo: Yann Riou/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race
Dongfeng’s onboard reporter Yann Riou picks up the story: “We had two options, installing the emergency rudder or removing what was left of the old rudder and putting the new one in place. We decided to go for the second option.
Photo: Stefan Coppers/Team Brunel
“Thomas (Rouxel) put the diving suit on. He jumped into the water, removed what was left from the old rudder (not much) and we put the new one in place.We are all disappointed. It does not look very fair but there’s nothing to do about this,” Riou added.
Photo: Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race
It has not been plain sailing for Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi crew either. They reported narrowly missing a net yesterday afternoon but the winds were so light that they were able to take avoiding action.

Team Brunel and Team SCA were not so lucky and were held up briefly after debris caught in their keels. The Dutch boat even had to send a swimmer into the water to dive down to remove a strip of rubber from their keel.

The women’s team also showed an irregular track and reported running into a fishing net, leading to more lost time behind the rest of the fleet who are now some 50 miles ahead of them.

The seven-strong fleet were expected to arrive in Cape Town in the first leg from Alicante at the beginning of November but their estimated arrival may be delayed after light winds in the Atlantic held up their progress.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Frustration For Farr 40 Worlds Fleet - San Francisco - Day 3

The breeze that usually makes San Francisco such a popular place for sailors was noticeably absent for the penultimate day of competition at the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship. A low pressure system had siphoned most of the air off the Bay, and with the fleet drifting around on the Berkeley Circle for several hours, the Race Committee took the decision to abandon attempts to run a race.
Photo: Rolex/Daniel Forster
“Basically the breeze didn’t cooperate. We had a fairly nice forecast for the day of a southerly between 8-12 knots. We got out there for a noon start and waited around until we finally got what looked like a nice sea breeze, that filled in briefly and then died and the Bay went back to glass. We brought the boats back up to the west of Alcatraz hoping that if the sea breeze came in later in the day we’d at least be closer to it,” said Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio.
Photo: Rolex/Daniel Forster
The ripple effect is that the starting time for the final day of racing, Saturday, October 18, has been pushed forward an hour to 11:00 local time. Regatta organizers hope to run up to three races before the 15:30 cutoff time after which, as per the sailing instructions, a race cannot be started.
A seal takes a rest Photo: Rolex/Daniel Forster
Alex Roepers’ Plenty (USA) goes into the final day of the championship with a 1-1-1-6-4-1 score line for 14 points, and an almost unassailable 18-point lead on his closest competitor, Australia’s Martin Hill on Estate Master.
Photo: Rolex/Daniel Forster
Italy’s defending Rolex Farr 40 World Champion, Alberto Rossi on Enfant Terrible, is third overall with 33 points, followed by Andrew Hunn on the Australian-flagged Voodoo Chile, with 34 points. With 39 points, three-time Rolex Farr 40 World Champion Jim Richardson of rounds out the top-five in the 19-strong international at the helm of the Australian-flagged Kokomo.
Photo: Rolex/Daniel Forster
The 17th edition of the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship concludes on Saturday, October 18, when a champion will be crowned at the conclusion of racing.

2014 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship
Preliminary Cumulative Results Day 3 (Top 5)

1. Plenty (USA) Alex Roepers 1-1-1-6-4-1 14
2. Estate Master (AUS) Lisa and Martin Hill 4-3-8-2-9-6 32
3. Enfant Terrible (ITA) Alberto Rossi 5-7-6-7-6-2 33
4. Voodoo Chile (AUS) Andrew Hunn 9-6-3-11-2-3 34
5. Kokomo (AUS) Jim Richardson 7-15-2-10-1-4 39