Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gotta Love It 7 wins the18 Foot Skiff World Championships

Gotta Love It 7 gets some air       Photo: Lulu Roseman
Saturated in quintessential sunshine Sydney Harbour delivered perfect sailing conditions today for for the final race of the Giltinan Championships.

The pressure was on the three leading boats of Thurlow Fisher Lawyers, Project Racing and Gotta Love It 7 who all had their eyes firmly clamped on taking home the JJ Giltinan trophy.

In a 12 knot north east breeze Project Racing led fleet as they sprinted up the harbour towards the Beashel Buoy with Team PSP/Aust-Asia/Benny snapping at their heels closely followed by Gotta Love It 7 and a mere 20 seconds off the leader’s pace.

Gotta Love It 7 picked the right shifts as they went hell for leather on the downwind beat rounding the bottom mark seven seconds ahead of and Rag & Famish Hotel.

The race went pear shaped for Project Racing when their trapeze wires broke and they were forced to capsize the boat to make running repairs.

While Seve Jarvin and his crew powered 7 back up to the windward mark, a enthralling match race unfolded between Rag & Famish Hotel and Appliances Online that kept the large spectator fleet on their toes.

The Gotta Love It 7 boys crossed the finish line 44 seconds clear of Rag & Famish Hotel to take out the championship by four points. Their two main opponents, Project Racing and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers, were never a threat, finishing seventh and eleventh respectively. finished a further 53 seconds behind to claim third place ahead of Yandoo , Team PSP/Aust-Asia/Benny and Bassett Plumbing & Drainage.

Lulu Roseman

Gotta Love It 7 Crowned 2010 JJ Giltinan Champion

Gotta Love It 7 Photo: Lulu Roseman

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Britannia Rules

Photo: Lulu Roseman
It was hard to wipe the smile from helmsman Rob Greenhalgh’s face as he steered Team PSP/Aust Asia/Benny across the finish line ahead of Gotta Love It 7 to win Race 6 of the JJ Giltinan Championships this afternoon.

It makes up for a tough week for this British team who have struggled to find their feet among this highly competitive fleet who they haven’t raced with for five years and in a brand new boat to boot.

“It was great to get out on the water today and sail in the best conditions we have had all week,” Greenhalgh said.

Today’s result should push the English team further up the leader board from their current 10th position. The outcome of several protests will impact today’s results and overall standings in the championship point score.

But whichever way the cookie crumbles, Greenhalgh and his crew of Dan Johnson and Phil Harmer vow they will be back to compete in this event in 2011.

An ambitious charge from Seve Jarvin of Gotta Love It 7 wasn’t enough to get the gun but sufficient to keep Rag & Famish at bay, who sailed a superb race with consistency around the course.

Sydney turned on the sunshine with a steady 12-16 knot north easterly breeze that gave spectators a thrill as several boats picked up speed and became airborne during the first spinnaker run from the Beashel Buoy towards Shark Island and around Clark Island.

While the ferries ruled the harbour, it was the pleasure craft jostling for the best vantage points that caused a few headaches for the fleet. One spectator yacht had no scruples and after slowly crossing the stern of the media boat to the annoyance of the photographers, remained in the path of one crew who expressed their emotions in a verbal exchange that could only be described as being in technicolour.

Neville “Croaky” Crichton, last year’s Rolex Sydney to Hobart line hours winner was clearly enjoying the action as he steered his impressive speedboat, powered by three 300 horsepower outboard motors, around the fleet. To say that certain blokes were drooling for an invitation to jump onboard was an understatement.

Race 7 is the final race in this championship and will will be held on Sunday 21 February.

Lulu Roseman

Pure Class On Sydney Harbour

Friday 19 February 2010 - SYDNEY

Clever tactics reigned today when Trevor Barnabas aboard Fisher & Paykel rocked the boat by winning Race 3 of the Giltinan Championship on Sydney Harbour today.

Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
As a replacement helmsman for this regatta, Barnabas and his crew of Gerard Smith and Brent Dennis led a late challenge pipping series leader Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon, Aaron Links, Trent Barnabas) to cross the line 21 seconds ahead.

Sailed in light five knot east nor’easterly conditions over a three-lap windward-return course, the race was the re-sail of Tuesday’s race, which was postponed due to strong winds.

The majority of the fleet favoured the southern side of the harbour where Project Racing, Fisher & Paykel and Gotta Love It 7 sharing the lead at the windward mark.

Project Racing held a narrow lead over Gotta Love It 7 after the downwind leg of the first lap, closely followed by Sharks/Coldwell Banker Real Estate, Fisher & Paykel and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers.

Off Steel Point, Gotta Love It 7 picked up a shift along the southern shore to grab the lead from Project Racing. At the windward mark Project Racing trailed 7 by just 30 seconds while Fisher & Paykel edged ahead of Sharks/Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

At the bottom mark for the second time Gotta Love It 7 lead Project Racing by the narrowest of margins.

During the the final windward leg the race took on another twist when Project Racing snatched the lead from Fisher & Paykel with Gotta Love It 7 a minute off the leader’s pace.

Howling down the harbour on the final spinnaker run to the finish line Gotta Love It 7 and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers speed away from Project Racing.

Barnabas opted to head to the northern side of the course while Project Racing, Gotta Love It 7 and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers bunched up together off Rose Bay.

When the two groups converged near the finishing line, Barnabas’s tactics paid off as Fisher & Paykel crossed the line as the others jostled in the almost dead air.

Race 6 will be sailed tomorrow (20 February) with Race 7 concluding the championship on Sunday.

Frank Quealey

Monday, February 15, 2010

BMW Oracle Racing win the America's Cup

Australia's James Spithill has achieved his ultimate dream by steering BMW Oracle Racing to victory in the 33rd America's Cup.  At 30, Spithill has become the youngest ever skipper to win the Auld Mug.

The massive black and white trimaran, USA 17 with team founder Larry Ellison on board, charged across the finish line in Race Two defeating the Swiss defender's Alinghi 5 by five minutes and 26 seconds to take out the series 2-0.

"I am stoked. This has been an amazing experience, but especially for the sailors. Pretty much everyone on the boat had very little multihull experience beforehand. For me personally it was a really steep hill to climb," Spithill said.

After enduring a six hour and 25 minute delay, racing got underway in six to nine knots of breeze that saw Alinghi 5 penalised for an error in the start box, their second successive penalty during the pre-start sequence. USA-17 led off  the start line by 24 seconds but the Swiss team hooked into extra wind pressure and a favourable 20 degrees shift in wind direction that allowed them to build momentum. At one stage they were leading the American trimaran by 600 metres.

But unlike Friday's whitewash, when USA 17 sailed steadily away from Alinghi 5, the windward leg was nail-biting right up until when the American trimaran rounded the first mark with a small advantage. On the approach to the windward mark of the 39 mile triangle course, USA 17 came back when they squeezed inside the line of Alinghi 5, to snatch 28 seconds ahead.

With winds surging up to 30 knots at times on the first of two 13 nautical mile reaches, the powerful trimaran with it's 223 foot high solid wing sail rig was able to gain two minutes and 16 seconds by the second turning mark. After a gybe, the challenger from the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco went on to win by five minutes and 26 seconds.

Congratulations to Australia's James Spithill on winning the 33rd America's Cup

Friday, February 12, 2010

BMW Oracle Racing take the gun

A win for "USA"

Challenger BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA) has taken the first win in the best-of-three race series that is the 33rd America’s Cup off Valencia.

The American team, sailing under the flag of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, were quickly able to overturn an early mistake when they were caught flat footed on the wrong side of the start line.

Despite an initial deficit when they crossed the start line of 1 minute and 27 seconds, the trimaran USA, with its massive 68 metres wing sail were able to pass the Defender’s catamaran Alinghi 5 after around 15 minutes of the 20 miles windward leg.

BMW ORACLE Racing Team’s final Race 1 winning margin of 15 minutes and 28 seconds is the biggest in the history of the America’s Cup since the 27th edition in 1988, the last Deed of Gift match, when the USA’s catamaran Stars & Stripes won successive matches against New Zealand’s KZ 1 monohull by 18 mins 15 secs and 21 mins 10 secs.

It is the first time that double America’s Cup winners Alinghi have lost an America’s Cup match race since they were defeated by Emirates Team New Zealand on Monday 25th June 2007.

Then Alinghi went on to win three successive matches to retain the America’s Cup, but now Sunday’s scheduled second race, around the 39 miles Deed of Gift triangle course, of three 13 miles legs, becomes a ‘must win’ for the Defender’s crew.

USA lead at the first mark
By the windward turn of today’s race USA were 3 minutes and 21 seconds ahead and the black and white hulled trimaran broke the finish line in the growing dusk, to record a winning delta of 15 minutes and 28 seconds.

USA, with James Spithill (AUS) steering, managed to immediately inflict a penalty on the Swiss crew when Alinghi 5 entering with no right of way, could not cross ahead of the Challengers just after the entry into the start arena.

Starting at 1435hrs (local) in around 6-7 knots of southerly breeze, the heart stopping opening manoeuvres proved some of the best and worst of match-racing the giant multihulls. Conditions throughout were ideal for the historic first head to head match between the cutting edge, giant multihulls.

While USA were able to catch Alinghi out for tacking in their water, when both were on the wrong side of the start line, USA could not then capitalise.

When the Swiss catamaran was able to peel away with speed to cross within ten or 15 seconds of the start gun, USA were stalled out, unable to get moving back towards the start.

USA showed superior speed and height through much of the upwind leg, their edge to windward appearing to be greatest when they sailed ‘wing only’ with no jib but just the giant solid wing mainsail, but it was on the long downwind leg that USA were able to extend most over the catamaran.

A lead of three minutes and 21 seconds at the only turn of the historic Deed of Gift course was increased to somewhere around 10 minutes and 8 seconds when Alinghi 5 closed the finish.

The Defender Alinghi did not initially complete their penalty turn correctly, and it took them an additional five minutes to finally unload their penalty.

The second race is scheduled Sunday, warning signal time 1000hrs.

Race One ....Take three...

The tension continues to build in Valencia as Alinghi and BMW Oracle prepare for battle.

Today the Race Committee will make a third attempt at starting Race One of the 33rd America's Cup Match. Monday's try was postponed due to lack of wind and on Wednesday, the Race Committee elected to abandon racing due to the sea state.

The Race Committee has informed the teams that the starting signal for the race on Friday will not be given before 12:00 CET.

The forecast for Friday morning brings a significant easing trend with cold temperatures expected for several days.

Monday, February 8, 2010

No Hot Air As 33rd America's Cup Racing Is Postponed

USA 17. Photo: BMW Oracle Racing/Gilles Martin-Raget
It remains a great mystery. Which yacht is faster? Alinghi 5 or USA 17? When these arch rivals departed their respective bases early this morning all eyes were fixated on their cutting edge design details...and the weather. The long haul out to the racecourse followed by a frustratingly still four hour wait wind gave the sailors plenty of time to shot the breeze (pardon the pun).

The world's gnarliest racing yachts were unable to start in the light and fluky conditions, forcing organisers to postpone the first match in the best of three Deed of Gift Series.

While Alinghi's  head honcho Ernesto Bertarelli will take the helm on his yacht, BMW Oracle  Racing's team boss Larry Ellison has entrusted that important role to 30 year old Australian, James Spithill. Instead Ellison, 65, is participating as a member of the four-man after guard section on USA 17.

Which just goes to show that dropping  a cool $200 Million on one of the world's most technologically advanced racing yachts doesn't necessarily give you enough clout to drive it. Humbling indeed.

Lulu Roseman

Alinghi in flight by Ian Roman

Alinghi fans by Ian Roman

Vele e Vents, Port America's Cup Valencia by Ian Roman

Images by Ian Roman

Image of Alinghi by Ian Roman

Photo: Ian Roman

Let the showdown begin

All eyes will be on Valencia in just a few hours when arch rivals BMW Oracle and Alinghi are set to face off in the first race of the 33rd America’s Cup. The latest weather forecast for very light conditions has sent organisers into a spin threatening further delays to what these teams have waited 30 months to do, go yacht racing.

The Deed of Gift series is a best of three match races due to be completed by 12 February, 2010.

Australian James Spithill, 30, will helm BMW Oracle’s 90 foot trimaran, USA, in what is expected to be the fastest and most extreme America’s Cup ever to take place.

Optimised for heavier weather USA features a towering 190-foot wingsail almost double the size of a Boeing 747 wing that may provide the Americans with the edge in stronger wind conditions. Capable of reaching speeds of 40 knots with one of her hull’s elevated 30 metres in the air.

However Alinghi 5, a 90 foot catamaran has been designed with the more fickle Mediterranean breezes in mind and is set to perform better in the lighter air.

For Spithill who will be joined by fellow Aussie, trimmer Joe Newton, making the start line today is the culmination of nearly three years of hard work.

“To be honest it’s a dream. If you told me two and half years ago I’d be sailing a 90 by 90 trimaran with a 68 metre wing sail, I’d think you were crazy,” he said.

“We’ve become a little bit accustomed to the boat and I just took my father down there the other morning to show him, and he was just blown away with it. This has been an incredible experience.”

Russell Coutts, BMW Oracle Racing’s CEO said his team is ready to go.

“I can tell you everyone on our team is really excited to go racing,” he said.“We’re looking forward to what should be a great match. I think these are two very exciting and demanding boats.

“This is extreme sailing. The ‘X’ rated version of the America’s Cup. It’s the limits of technology,” Coutts said.

“These two boats are the fastest sailboats that have ever been built and they’re going to match off one against the other. I think it’s going to be the greatest spectacle in sailing history and I’m very proud to be a part of it.”

Over at the Swiss camp, Ernesto Bertarelli has put their faith in a tilting mast that towers 17 storeys high.

"There has never been anything like this. Size, power... it's beyond anything that has been created before," boasted helmsman Ed Baird.

"It's going to be a formidable match because of the boats and the technology and perhaps because it's a dog match," Bertarelli added.
While the fastest boat will win it is impossible to predict who that may be given these two have yet to train or race against each other. Each team is rumoured to have invested up to US $200 Million in their quest to get to the start line in what is expected to be an incredible spectacle.