Feb 012011

Sodebo sets off on round the world record attempt

Thomas Coville, skipper of Sodebo, crossed the start line on Saturday 29 January 2011, at 11h07’28” UTC.

To beat Francis Joyon’s solo circumnavigation record, he will have to be back in Brest by 28 March at 0h40’34” UTC.

A week after Pascal Bidégorry’s crew set off on the Jules Verne Trophy, it’s over to Thomas Coville to head off to attack the rather different ‘solo’ round the world record aboard Sodebo.

The skipper left the pontoon in Brest’s Port du Château shortly before 0800 UTC to cross the start line off Ushant, in front of Le Créac’h lighthouse, by late morning. His aim: to return to the same spot in under 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds, the reference time set by Francis Joyon (Idec) in January 2008. The skipper has set off with “a good weather window for solo sailing and feels a sense of liberation at having taken the decision to set off. I’ve nurtured this moment for years. I’m heading off on this because I want to. The emotion stems from extracting yourself, making the switch from a landlubber to a sailor”.


Thomas Coville

Vigorous conditions
Conditions at the start promise to be lively with a 25 knot NE’ly wind followed by fairly steep seas in the Bay of Biscay.

If the forecasts are confirmed, the skipper could hold onto the NNE’ly air flow for a considerable time and even as far as the equator.

As such, on the computer, Sodebo’s schedule is rather favourable.

“This decision to set off was an easy one to make given the stability of the weather conditions”, admitted the Solo Atlantic record holder on the eve of his third round the world record attempt on this boat. “The weather models have been in agreement for several days and if conditions remain ‘vigorous’, the situation enables a quick and easy descent to the equator, which I could cross in about 7 days, which isn’t bad.”

Heading off again, the first victory
Since circumnavigating the globe alone aboard this same multihull (winter 2008/2009) when the record escaped his clutches by a little under two days, Thomas has gone on to win the crewed Jules Verne Trophy with Franck Cammas’ Groupama 3 (March 2010).

He has also finished third in the Route du Rhum at the helm of Sodebo and completed a number of transatlantic crossings on this 32 metre trimaran which he has been constantly developing. “We built and designed Sodebo nearly three and a half years ago.

We’re coming to maturity with this boat and the understanding I can have of it. Setting off tomorrow after having worked so hard is like a deliverance. I’m keen to make the most of what we’ve done.

I also feel relieved of the weight of being able to get going on this as there are some winters that don’t have the perfect departure slot. Linking on from the Route du Rhum and the round the world with good weather conditions to set off in means that we’ve pulled off the first stage.”

“I know where I’m setting foot”
“When you set off for the first time, you have to begin by answering the question: “Am I capable of doing it?”

“Having completed an initial solo round the world aboard a multihull allows me to know what you have to give of yourself and how; it’s a lever which inspires me to return to it. It’s up to me now to complete it in less time.

In our various projects, we make attempts, we fail and we work so we can set out again. I could have moped about it and never returned to it, but I’m lucky enough to be able to do it and that’s how you give yourself the means to write some great stories.”

Last night ashore
At dinner time on his last night ashore, the skipper of Sodebo admitted: “For the time being I’m busy retranscribing the figures for the routing and the strength or direction of the wind, in terms of manœuvres and the way Sodebo handles. I’m not yet thinking about my life aboard. I’m going to have to extract myself and that’s a delicate moment.

I’m a father, a friend, I have a social and sentimental life and I have to suddenly enter into another world. I don’t know another exercise which requires 57 days of concentration. However, this evening, as long as I’m not kitted out in my boots and foulies, I’m still a landlubber.”

In Brest, his family, his friends, his team and of course his sponsor, rallied around him, but now Thomas is alone, alone for nearly two months. In an arctic cold, he’ll take up again with the stress of the multihull, which won’t leave him for eight weeks.

The Record To Beat
Yacht: “IDEC”.
Name: Francis Joyon (FRA)
Dates: January 2008.
Elapsed time: 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds
Distance: 21769NM
Average speed: 15.84kts

 8:08 am  Outdoor Living, Yachts
Jan 242011

Sir Chay Blyth, new Ambassador to Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta

Sir Chay Blyth, CBE, BEM, takes his place as Ambassador to the Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta next to Lady Pippa Blake who has already confirmed her support for this, the first ever official reunion and regatta. Sir Chay is the second Ambassador to be appointed to the event, which takes place on 1-5 November in Alicante later this year.

Sir Chay was the first person to sail non-stop westwards around the world in 1971 on the 59’ yacht, British Steel, taking 292 days, for which he was awarded a CBE. He openly admits that when he set off in 1970, he knew nothing about navigation or sailing and thought he would teach himself as he went along. The Times in London later described his voyage as ‘the most outstanding passage ever made by one man alone’, and thousands came to greet him on his return.

Blyth’s next challenge was the inaugural Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973-74, the forerunner to what is now the Volvo Ocean Race, where his yacht, Great Britain II won line honours, setting a bench-mark record for the circumnavigation of 144 days. He skippered the same yacht again in 1981-82, the third Whitbread Race, but this time Great Britain II was renamed United Friendly and the 77’ yacht went on to compete in five consecutive Whitbread races, something that is hard to imagine in today’s professional era.

Sir Chay is very much looking forward to event in Spain next year. “I am delighted to be invited to be part of Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta. It will be a wonderful opportunity to reunite many old friends and recall the days when racing round the world was an adventure, with the ocean providing one of the last great challenges,” he said.

The Volvo Ocean Race Legends will celebrate the long and varied history of the world’s premier ocean race and includes racing and social events in November this year for all those who have competed or been involved in the event since its inauguration in 1973. It promises to be an occasion not to be missed, with many ex-sailors travelling from all over the world to take part.

Lady Pippa Blake

Lady Pippa Blake

About the Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta and Reunion

•    The first ever official reunion of all who have sailed in the world’s premier ocean race since the inaugural race in 1973-74
•    To be held in Alicante, Spain from 1-5 November 2011, week between Alicante In-Port Race and the Start of Leg One of the Volvo Ocean Race
•    A full racing schedule over two days
•    Will conclude with a departure ceremony and parade of sail to escort the Volvo Ocean Race fleet to the start line for Leg One
•    A rich shoreside programme includes a regatta prizegiving, a gala dinner and a host of other social events
•    Chat shows and forums after racing
•    Legends entries open for public viewing
•    148 boats have crossed the start line in the 37-year history of The Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race
•    1974 crew competed in the first 10 events
•    The first 31,250 nautical-mile race first took place 37 years ago (as the Whitbread Round the World Race 1973-74), testing the crews against some of the most ferocious elements that man can encounter
•    The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 will be the 11th edition of the event

Lady Pippa Blake
Sir Chay Blyth CBE, BEM


 9:50 pm  Yachts
Jan 032011

Secret Mens Business

Secret Mens Business Overall IRC WInner

So the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is over for 2010.

His Excellency, the Honourable Peter Underwood, Governor of Tasmania, was on hand again this year to present the awards, along with Hobart’s Lord Mayor Rob Valentine; David O’Bryne, representing the Premier of Tasmania; the CYCA Commodore Garry Linacre; RYCT Commodore Graham Taplin; Patrick Boutellier of Rolex Australia; and Barbara McGregor, from Tasports.

This was one of the more “classic” Rolex Sydney Hobarts in recent years because of the heavy weather and rough seas that boats and their crews encountered—a hallmark of this well-known ocean race.

The race started with a ‘Southerly buster’ during the first night, with the fleet of 87 starters encountering winds that reached 40 to 50 knots. Those gale-force winds and the resulting monstrous seas took their toll and saw a steady stream of boats retire due to steering damage, torn sails and engine problems, and for one unlucky yacht, a dismasting. After two days, 18 boats were forced out of the race, retiring because of the adverse weather conditions and resulting damage to boat and equipment.

Following that, boats and crew had to contend with getting across the notorious 100 nautical mile wide Bass Strait. By the race end, winds lightened somewhat and boats at the back of the fleet had trouble getting enough wind to get up the ten-mile stretch of Derwent River to the finish line in Hobart.
Race favourite, Robert Oatley’s 100-foot maxi Wild Oats XI picked up the line honours as expected for a fifth time.

In the end, it was the medium-sized boats that had the advantage, such as the 51-footer, Geoff Boettcher’s Secret Men’s Business 3.5, which was the overall handicap winner of this year’s race.

The yacht won IRC Overall and IRC Division 1 titles. About the race, Boettcher said, “It was a boyhood dream to win this race. I just can’t believe I’m here.” He also thanked his talented and dedicated crew for their help. “These boys are fantastic,” he said.

The Reichel Pugh 51 was extensively modified last year, and Boettcher attributes these modifications to helping with the win. “With the modifications we were able to point much better, and we increased the hull length while we were at it,” he said.

A highlight of this morning’s presentation was when Investec Loyal maxi yacht skipper Sean Langman received the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Trophy for second overall on elapsed time. Showing true sportsmanship at its best Langman said, “I’d like to acknowledge every single competitor in this year’s race, which was more a test of the human condition than just a boat race.”

Langman went on to say that, as he often does, he greeted the last boat, Wave Sweeper, when it arrived into King’s Pier Marina, “To me that boat really epitomises what this race is about. Wave Sweeper stopped off in Eden and dropped off an injured crew. They had a whole lot of damaged sails, but still pushed on.”

When Langman saw them arrive, he said they looked dejected for coming in last. In a touching tribute Langman said, “But to me, they really came in first. I’d like to give the crew of the Wave Sweeper a hearty congratulations for their effort.”

While there can only be one winner, Langman’s attitude—that just finishing the race makes you a winner resonated with the father and son team aboard the US entry, Dawn Star. Keen sailors and competitors Bill and Will Hubbard shared a life long dream of sailing in a Rolex Sydney Hobart, what has become known as the world’s toughest ocean going race.

The 76-year old Hubbard said of the race, “I can honestly say it was the worst race and the best race I’ve ever done—and that’s the honest to God’s truth. The second day was hell on earth. I’ve never been so unhappy and thought that I made a major error in judgment.”

Bill Hubbard, 26, said the race was, “Wet! It was a test of endurance but we got here.” At one point during the race south, Dawn Star was hit by a freak wave and knocked down, sending two crew members overboard. “Their safety gear keep them from being lost,” admitted the younger Hubbard.

And with a twinkle in his eye, the sunburned and unshaven elder Hubbard looked back on the adventure that was the 2010 Rolex Sydney Hobart and said, “The fourth day was the most fantastic day on the water we’ve ever spent. The wind was perfect. The weather was perfect and in that night every star in the sky was out. It was beautiful.”

The Polish Trophy is presented to the yacht travelling from the furthest point to compete. This year’s winner was Alberto Biffignandi’s OneLife, which was sailed on an extended cruise by family and friends from Santa Margherita Ligure to Sydney. Biffignandi said the name of his boat is meant to inspire others. The affable Italian said, “You only have one life; you should go now or you never will.”

The entries for this the 66th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race included six international yachts from the USA, UK, Italy, France, as well as two partly crewed Russian boats, and entries from seven of the eight Australian states and territories.

Wild Oats XI, Robert Oatley (NSW/AUS), Reichel/Pugh 100

Secret Mens Business 3.5, Geoff Boettcher (SA/AUS), Reichel/Pugh 51


IRC Div 0: Jazz, Chris Bull, (VIC/AUS), Cookson 50
IRC Div 1: Secret Mens Business 3.5, Geoff Boettcher
IRC Div 2: Victoire, Darryl Hodgkinson (NSW/AUS), Beneteau First 45
IRC Div 3: Paca, Philippe Mengual (NSW/AUS), Beneteau First 40
IRC Div 4: Ray White Spirit of Koomooloo, Mike Freebairn (QLD/AUS), S&S 48
PHS Div 1: NSC Mahligai, Murray Owens & Jenny Kings (NSW/AUS), Sydney 46
PHS Div 2: Flying Fish Arctos, Martin Silk (NSW/AUS), McIntyre 55
Sydney 38: Eleni, Tony Levett (NSW/AUS), Sydney 38
ORCi 1: Jazz, Chris Bull
ORCi 2: Victoire, Darryl Hodgkinson
ORCi 3: Copernicus, Greg Zyner, (NSW/AUS), Radford 12
Cruising: OneLife, Alberto Biffignandi, Italy, Amel

 9:24 pm  Yachts
Dec 282010
Fun Antigua Classics Regatta

Fun at the Antigua Classics Regatta

The 24th Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta is starting to take shape, and the first entries are coming in. Hosted by the Antigua Yacht Club and sponsored by PANERAI, and is the first event in the Panerai Classic Yacht Challange for 2011.

Steve Mclarens newest Schooner “Elena” will be on hand and returning after a long leave of absence will be the famous “Stormy Weather” who participated in the first event in 1988. The long awaited return of Eilean has been postponed one more year, and there is always a buzz around which of the mighty J class yachts will come to challange Velsheda and Ranger.

The next Regatta takes place between April 14th to April 19th 2011. online registration is possible.

Elizabeth Jordan Commodore Antigua Yacht Club

Elizabeth Jordan Commodore Antigua Yacht Club

History of the race

Back in the 60’s Classic yachts, which were gathered in English Harbor Antigua, had begun chartering and the captains and crews challenged each other to a race down to Guadeloupe and back to celebrate the end of the charter season. From this informal race, Antigua Race Week was formalized in 1967, and in those days all of the yachts were classics. As the years grew on, the classic yachts were slowly outnumbered but the faster sleeker modern racing yachts and 24 years later the Classic Class had diminished to a few boats and was abandoned in 1987. However this same year seven classic yachts turned out and were placed in Cruising Class 3 with the bare boats. The class was so unmatched that it was downright dangerous, so Captain Uli Pruesse hosted a meeting on board Aschanti of Saba with several classic skippers and in 1988 the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta was born, with 7 boats.


 7:33 pm  Yachts
Dec 282010

Fantastic powerboats, sensational superyachts and dreamy dinghies…they’re all lined up for the 2011 London Boat Show at ExCel in London’s Docklands from January 7th – 16th 2011.

Boardwalk London Boat Show

New Larger Boardwalk at the London Boat Show

This year features a New larger boardwalk.

Designed to look like a marina – just without the water – the boardwalk allows you to view boats from the same aspect as if they were floating on water, with the added benefit of being able to inspect the undersides without getting wet!

Take the time to walk along the much-enlarged boardwalk and step on to a variety of sail and power boats.  With a 15m ceiling height, compared to the standard 10m, you’ll be able to see yachts complete with their masts.

Princess 32 arriving at London Boat Show

Princess 32 arriving at the London Boat Show

Preparations are well underway for the 2011 Tullett Prebon London International Boat Show, w, with the brand new Princess 32 metre motor yacht being lifted from the Royal Victoria Dock.

The superyacht, which makes its world debut at the Show, is the largest boat to ever be displayed inside the halls of the ExCeL centre. At 100 tonnes, the Princess 32 metre is the heaviest boat that has ever been lifted into the Show.

With an eye-watering length of 32 metres and at over 13 metres tall, squeezing it into the South Hall in preparation for the annual boating showcase will be no easy logistical feat.

The Princess 32 metre is among some 1000 boats on Show from 7 – 16 January. Throughout the 10 day event, hundreds of exhibitors will showcase the marine industry’s finest products, services and equipment and an enormous range of boats – from kayaks and dinghies to sail boats and motor yachts which will be open to climb aboard, explore and trial.

The Show opens this year with a host of brand new features, attractions and regular favourites, making it an unmissable day out where everything to do with activity on, in and under the water is there to be discovered and enjoyed.


 11:33 am  Yachts
Dec 262010
Michèle Paret Barcelona World Race

Michèle Paret Barcelona World Race

If there is one unsung heroine among the roster of skippers on the Barcelona World Race it is Michèle Paret. The French sailor is on the cusp of starting her third circumnavigation after finishing third in the first edition of the race.
Paret has raced before on the Whitbread round the world race.

Barcelona World Race Logo

Barcelona World Race

All her life she has been a competitor, previously a long jumper, then windsurfing and now still an accomplished mountain biker. Together with the Dominique Wavre they are back and together they are determined to at least match that result again is what is a bigger and more competitive fleet

Three years ago you completed your second racing circumnavigation, why a third?
“Simply because this is a really excellent race. It is the best thing that it is possible to race together under sail, and you can’t pass up an opportunity to do it again. Every time I go I like it more, because I have more experience and I feel more comfortable.

Which are your favorite memories of your first Barcelona World Race?
“There are so many things, so many moments that you can’t reel them off briefly. There are event times that would just not be explained in words. There is a unique feeling of being fulfilled, of complete freedom and the consuming edge of competition which is always there, the constant, ever present adrenalin and the surfacing of great emotions, that just cannot and are not experienced elsewhere, and of course the bad moments too.
In fact the bad moments you forget soon. Your passion exceeds them, you take them in your stride in the end and move on, and when you finish, you want to relive them and do it again. The bad moments for us last time were certainly stopping in Wellington and knowing we would have to repair the keel. That was a stressful, bad time as we realized how the others escaped when we were stopped.

What are the differences in the boat and in the crew of Mirabuad compared with 2007?
“We have optimized the boat. We have more power and the boat is faster. And also after drawing conclusions from the first time, we are much better prepared.”

People seem to know Dominique Wavre better than Michèle Paret…why is that?
“By honours. Dominique will start his eighth round the world. And I don’t believe there is anybody in this Barcelona World RACE with the same level of experience. On board there is a skipper of the boat and that is Dominique, he is head of the project. He is the one who has found the sponsor, and as his partner I am so privileged to sail with him. Every day I am learning things.

You have often said that on board you are not a couple, but two professionals? How does that line occur, how do you stop being a couple and become two sailing professionals?
“In fact that is very easy. It is our passion and our job. I believe that not only that, we are good professionals. When we are on board we combine to work together to achieve that extra hundredth of a knot, to advance by any small degree on our immediate rivals, and that is what motivates us individually and together. I would say that is almost incidental that we are a couple over these three months at sea. In fact it is almost like leaving aside that we are a couple because we have the advantage of the strength of our relationship, everything is easier. There are no frustrations with each other, no egos, those are reasons it is better as a couple, but without it being an issue, or part of the equation. During the race our focus is the race, that is focusing on going fast and the boat ahead.

If you say that on board Dominique is the skipper and you are the co-skipper, how do you split the work?
“I have specialized in the rig, the equipment, the engine and the deck gear.
How do you work through maneuvers?
“We are very complementary and have tried to compensate for or strengthen our weak points. Dominique does not have my agility, I do not have his strength. But together we are an ideal crew.

What are strong and weak points?
“My strongpoints are my durability, my stamina, my resistance but my weak points are that from time to time I lose my nerve. I know it and Dominique knows it and we accept it, and sometimes it takes a little joke, sometimes I explode. I am Mediterranean but sometimes that deserts me. My weaknesses are small and they are never a handicap. I am Mediterranean but have lived most of my life on the Atlantic coast, but have moved around a lot. I have lived on the Atlantic and in Africa, and also on the Mediterranean. My heart continues to be Mediterranean.

What about the preparation with regards to the food, nutrition and strength and fitness?
“We have a nutritionist who calculates all of our calorific requirements we have across the different climate zones, because we need less in the warmer weather than we do in the south. We have tried different freeze dried options and do have different options to choose between because we do like to have a choice and that is important. You have to be able to like that food rather than just have it as means of giving you energy, it has a psychological role too. When you eat something you like it makes you feel better and that is good for boat speed, for racing.
As far as physically I formulated a plan with Dominique to prepare us for this Barcelona World RACE, based on the strength and power we need, because these are very physical boats. And at 55 years of age we don’t have the strength and agility of  30 or 40 year olds.

How can you compensate for this with respect to younger, stronger Barcelona World RACE rivals?
“You are less physical for the sake of it. It makes you think more about making a maneuver. And experience always is more valuable than physical strength.
What do you think when you look at the level of this fleet?
“Nothing really….I see the level that girls have reached, Samantha Davies finishing fourth in the Vendée Globe, Ellen MacArthur who finished second, and of course Florence Arthaud who won the Route du Rhum outright. There are women who have won ahead of men, demonstrating that this is not about physical strength. But it is important to think ahead and work out how to get round the physical disadvantage.

You have always lead an athletic, active life, first as an athlete (long jump) then as a windsurfer, then mountain biking and sailing. Is there a time when you think you might stop?
My body will say when I should stop. And at the moment I have no intention of stopping. It is my passion, my life. I feel good, alive doing these things, they make me passionate and there is no reason to consider stopping.”

Would you consider doing a Vendée Globe  or, say, a solo transat race yourself?
“Just at the moment I am not looking beyond this Barcelona World RACE. It is the type of race which changes a person. That is been my objective for the last two years, and I cant even think beyond that. As far as the possibility of sailing without Dominique, then I know that I would not enjoy it as much. I have already raced with Catherine Chabaud, but it would disappoint me not to race with Dominique, and at the moment it does not seem like a possibility.


 8:30 pm  Yachts
Dec 192010
ARC Atlantic Crossing 25th Awards Ceremony

ARC Atlantic Crossing - 25th Awards Ceremony

The  25th ARC-  Atlantic Rally for Cruisers came to an end last night at an awards ceremony held at Gaiety Nightclub in Saint Lucia.

Hundreds of participants remained or returned to Saint Lucia for the prize giving ceremony, which started as crews gathered in the gardens of the venue to enjoy a rum punch to the sounds of a local steel band.

After thanking the sixteen net controllers for their help in running the SSB Radio Net during the crossing, the Group B yachts sang their own rendition of the 12 Nights of Christmas with verses composed in a competition held over the SSB radio net.

Returning for their third ARC, having sailed in the first and tenth events, were Stale and Annelise Larsen of Viking Crusader (NOR) who were awarded best couple on corrected time. Voted the most beautiful yacht of ARC2010 by the participants, the classic schooner Texel (GBR) was also the oldest yacht (1921). The seven yachts still at sea, all got a special mention.

During the crossing a total of 1333 logs were received from 99 yachts, together with hundreds of photographs. Prizes were awarded to Sulana (GBR), for their daily descriptions of life at sea, Meltemi (GER) for the most visited log (5263 times), and Amelit (SWE) for best overall log of ARC2010.

Father and son team Peter and Will Nelson from Time Warp (USA) won the Spirit of the ARC Award for their unfailing enthusiasm and willingness to join in all ARC activities, from helping to plant the ARC Forest to singing on the radio net.  The Spirit of the ARC Award has been presented every year since 1987 to the crew or individuals who most embody the cameraderie of the rally.

Cosimo Winner Jimmy Cornell Trophy Division 1

Cosimo - Winner of the Jimmy Cornell Trophy

After the interval participants and guests re-assembled in the hall for the second part of the ceremony started by a solo trumpet rendition of the St. Lucia National Anthem, and followed by welcome speeches from Louis Lewis, Director St Lucia Tourist Board, Adam Foster, General Manager IGY Rodney Bay Marina, and Allen Chastenet, Minister of Tourism.

Overall Winner of the Cruising Division, Cosimo (French flagged, with Italian owner and crew) were presented with the Jimmy Cornell Trophy, and the SLASPA Trophy for winning Class E. The RORC Racing Division was won by EH01 (GBR), the Beneteau First 47.7 of Global Yacht Racing.

With a showering of confetti, the ceremony, and ARC2010, were brought to a close.


 1:45 am  Yachts
Dec 122010

Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Poster

Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Poster

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2010 starts on 26 December and will be conducted on the waters of Sydney Harbour, the Tasman Sea, Storm Bay and the Derwent River.

Over the past 65 years, the Rolex Sydney Hobart has become an icon of Australia’s summer sport, ranking in public interest with such national events as the Melbourne Cup horse race, the Davis Cup tennis and the cricket tests between Australia and England. No regular annual yachting event in the world attracts such huge media coverage than does the start on Sydney Harbour.

Over the years, the Rolex Sydney Hobart and Cruising Yacht Club of Australia have had marked influence on international ocean yacht racing. The club has influenced the world in race communications and sea safety, maintaining the highest standards for yacht race entry.

The club’s members have also fared well in major ocean racing events overseas, with victories in the Admiral’s Cup, Kenwood Cup, One Ton Cup, the Fastnet Race and the BOC Challenge solo race around the word, not to mention the America’s Cup.Over the past 60 years, the Rolex Sydney Hobart has become an icon of Australia’s summer sport, ranking in public interest with such national events as the Melbourne Cup horse race, the Davis Cup tennis and the cricket tests between Australia and England


 11:00 am  Yachts
Dec 062010

Ben Ainslie Teamorigin Crew with WMRT Trophy

Ben Ainslie Teamorigin Crew with WMRT Trophy

Britain’s Ben Ainslie (GBR) of TEAMORIGIN has won his first ISAF Match Racing World Championship title by winning the Monsoon Cup on a day of high drama in Malaysia.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist was in imperious form at the deciding regatta having staged a stunning late season charge to snatch the title from the clutches of long time series leader Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team.

In what was the most enthralling ever finish to the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) the Ainslie v Richard duel went to the very final day of the final event of the season. Having turned the screws on Richard all week, Ainslie knew that if he won his Semi-Final and Richard failed to win his play-off race then the title would be his.

Ainslie’s illustrious crew has been in such pressure situations many times before and the experience clearly showed. Their 2-0 victory over Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Global Team sparked celebrations among the TEAMORIGIN crew, which includes two-time Olympic gold medalist Iain Percy, Christian Kamp, Mike Mottl and Matt Cornwell.

Ben Ainslie Teamorigin Great Britain

Ben Ainslie Teamorigin Great Britain

With the World title in the bag there was still unfinished business with the Tour’s richest final at stake. Ainslie and his crew kept their composure for an epic final against Australian star Torvar Mirsky of Mirsky Racing Team. The confident young skipper reached the final with consummate ease, defeating Jesper Radich (DEN) Gaastra Racing 2-0 in their Semi-Final.

It was a fitting finale to an enthralling 2010 World Match Racing Tour, with nail-biting match racing that went to the wire: Mirsky recovered from a shaky start to take the first race by a comfortable margin. But Ainslie was 11 seconds ahead at the finish of the second. After four races the score was again even, leaving everything hanging on the fifth, which went in Ainslie’s favour.

Commenting on his landmark victory, Ainslie said: “It was obviously a great way for us to end as a team. It was very tough out there today but it was a united effort and we’re really happy all round. For the whole team this has been massive for us. We’ve enjoyed been on the Tour an incredible amount.”

For Richard it was a disappointing end to what had been a fantastic season in which he led the Tour from the opening race at Match Race France in April. Two further wins followed at the Korea Match Cup and the St Moritz Match Race. However a mid-season blip and a stuttering finish to the year with poor performances in Bermuda and then finally Malaysia have cost Richard dearly, leaving him in second place in the Championship.

Richard reflected: “Obviously it’s a huge disappointment to have finished second in the Championship, having been first all season. Ben has a very strong team and they really deserve to be World Champions. I was happy with our preparation for this event and we sailed a fantastic season, making the podium five times. It’s a year we can be really proud of.”

A stellar season
The tone for the stellar season was set back in April at Match Race France when the two Championship contenders locked horns in a tense final. It was the Frenchman who landed the first blow of the season, winning his home title and setting the early pace in the race for the Championship.

Richard continued his excellent form to build a formidable lead in the Championship. The Frenchman followed up victory in his home country with a third place at Match Race Germany before going on to land his second win of the year at the Korea Match Cup, beating Britain’s two-time World Champion Ian Williams, Team GAC Pindar.

It was an impressive start, however the Championship is based on skippers’ five best Tour results, plus their Monsoon Cup points – so he needed to keep his momentum. It was at the next stage at the Portimao Portugal Match Cup that the Frenchman then showed his first signs of weakness with a poor result, managing only seventh.

It was this juncture that Ben Ainslie really upped his game started his in a bid to realise his title ambitions. The Englishman made his intentions clear by beating former Tour Champion Jesper Radich in the final while Richard’s mid-season malaise continued with another seventh place.

As the Tour moved on to the stunning mountains of St Moritz, the Frenchman bounced right back to form, winning the event with a key victory over Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing, while Ainslie had to settle for fourth. With Ainslie having lost ground in the mountains, his title hopes took a major body blow in Denmark when the Englishman suffered his worst result of the season with his own seventh place finish.

Ainslie’s mind may well have been elsewhere at the Danish Open as the event coincided with the deliberations as to whether his TEAMORIGIN would pull out of the running for the America’s Cup. However, having regained his focus, Ainslie hit straight back at the next regatta in Bermuda. Reflecting on that period of the Tour, Ainslie said: “Denmark was one of those events at which nothing seemed to work for us, but we’ve always liked Bermuda – both for the boats and the venue – and were looking forward to doing well there.”

The island has been a happy hunting ground for the 33 year-old who won his second consecutive Argo Group Gold Cup to propel himself back into the reckoning with just the Monsoon Cup to go.

With the chips down and knowing that nothing but success would do Ainslie has once again proved why he is one of sailing’s most decorated skippers. With the WMRT trophy joining the multitude of accolades in Ainslie’s bulging trophy cabinet the Monsoon Cup brings down the curtain on another fantastic season for the World Match Racing Tour.

Final World Match Racing Tour Standings:
1. Ben Ainslie (GBR) TEAMORIGIN 126
2. Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 111
3. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 106
4. Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing 90
5. Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar 87
6. Jesper Radich (DEN) Gaastra Racing Team 82
7. Francesco Bruni (ITA) Azzurra 65
8. Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 60
9. Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Global Team 45
10. Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge 29

Final Monsoon Cup placings:
1. Ben Ainslie (GBR) TEAMORIGIN
2. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team
3. Jesper Radich (DEN) Gaastra Racing Team
4. Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Global Team
5. Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar
6. Francesco Bruni (ITA) Azzurra
7. Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing
8. Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team

 4:05 am  Yachts
Nov 302010

ARC Atlantic Crossing 25th

ARC Atlantic Crossing - 25th Anniversary

The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers – ARC – starts each November in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It has now become the most popular way to cross the Atlantic.

It all began in 1986 when world sailor Jimmy Cornell set out to get the annual trek of yachts across the Atlantic collected into one group sailing together in company. The ARC is now the holder of the Guinness Book Of Records title of the world’s largest transocean event of sailing yachts ever to sail the Atlantic in company. The record was set in 1999 when 238 yachts arrived in St. Lucia from the Canaries.

Jimmy Cornell Sailor and Author

Jimmy Cornell Sailor and Author

In the inaugural crossing, a fleet of 200 boats crossed together for a landfall in Barbados, the original Caribbean destination. This initial number was followed in 1987 by a much smaller fleet but the event’s popularity boomed and it soon became clear that Barbados could not cope with the arrival and management of such large numbers of yachts and crew.

So it was switched to St Lucia, which had recently seen the development of new marina facilities in Rodney Bay, was downwind of Barbados and had already received scores of yachts from the ARC fleets, who continued after their crossing to sail among the islands of the Caribbean.

The 2700 nautical mile passage on the NE tradewind route takes on average between 14 and 21 days.

Conceived as a friendly race for cruising yachts to make the Atlantic crossing both safer and more enjoyable, participating yachts must carry a range of safety equipment including a liferaft, EPIRB and VHF radio. Daily radio nets contribute further to the safety of participants. The presence of experienced sailors is another incentive for those with little offshore experience.

The ARC has a special flavour, which successfully combines racers with cruisers, old with young, and provides entertainment for all. A wide ranging programme of entertainment takes place both before the start and after the finish. The ARC enjoys the support of the Tourist Authority of Gran Canaria, the Port Authority of Las Palmas, Rol Nautic and the St.Lucia Board of Tourism.


  • The next ARC departs from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and crosses to Rodney Bay, St.Lucia on  2011 20 November
  • The ARC is open to cruising monohulls with a minimum length of 8.23-25.91m (27 to 85ft) and cruising catamarans from 8.23 – 18.29m (27 to 60 ft) LOA. Yachts outside these sizes may be permitted to join in the Open Division.
  • The competitive side of the event will be catered for by the Racing Division, rated under the IRC Handicap System, run under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club.
  • The World Cruising handicap is used to calculate results in the cruising classes, in which motoring is permitted.
  • A full programme of social activities, safety seminars and demonstrations will be organised by World Cruising Club in Las Palmas prior to the start, and after the finish in St.Lucia.
  • Confirmed entrants receive regular newsletters about the ARC, containing useful information about planning an Atlantic crossing, updates on entries and safety tips.

The ARC is open to cruising monohulls with a minimum length of 27ft to 85ft and cruising catamarans from 27ft to 60 ft. The competitive side of the event is controlled by the Racing Division, under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club.


 9:45 am  Yachts