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Star Sailor League - Day 1
Photo by SSL / Carlo Borlenghi. Click on image for photo gallery.

Star Sailor League Perfect Star sailing conditions were delivered in Nassau today. 8-12 knots from the east and sunshine made the sailing spectacular for this elite fleet.

Four races were held on Montague Bay at the east end of Nassau, each about 40 minutes. With just 18 boats on the track, and all of them very good, the racing was very tight.

For Austin and me it went about as predicted. We struggled at the corners and shifting gears. We had some good starts and decent speed at times. But we aren't consistent yet. Often it is just a matter of inches at the top mark that separates 4th from 12th. Same as it ever was. We are currently 16th and need to be in the top 10 after Friday's racing. No doubt we will get better each day as I scrape a little more rust off.

Robert Scheidt (BRA) and Bruno Prada were at the top of the field today and that is really no surprise. The Italians, Diego Negri sailed well to hold second overall and Mark Mendleblatt, the USA Star representative the London Olympics in 2012, sailed very consistently and is in 3rd.

When we hit the dock, Robert Scheidt said to me, "Four races was a bit too much, don't you think!" I said, "Did you just say that to me?" For those who don't know, Robert is the epitome of fitness and just won the Laser Worlds last week for the 9th time. Anyway, after a few minutes I decided it made me feel good to hear even Robert say that, it was a long day! -- Paul Cayard

For complete results go to www.starsailors.com

Fresh To Frightening For Day 4
Melbourne, Australia: Fresh breezes look set to prevail for the fourth day of racing at the ISAF Sailing World Cup - Melbourne.

As competitors arrived at the Sandringham Yacht Club, they were greeted with a cold handshake from the 20kt southerly breeze.

According to Predictwind.com, the forecast for Port Phillip winds is that at 9.00am they would average 20kts and build throughout the day.

Officials on the water, at 9.30am reported winds gusting over 25kts. Forecasts produced by Predictwind.com are average wind strengths only and gusts are usually 5-8kts higher. Factor that into the average speeds and you have reality for the competitors.

The sea state is the critical factor, and yesterday's seas of 4-6ft were on the top of the range for some classes, the 49er fleets in particular. Sea conditions today are worse, and are not expected to improve.

Winds are expected to increase to as high as a 29kt average later in the afternoon, and racing is not expected to take place today.

Officials have hoisted the postponement ashore for all classes, and they will wait to see if there is a moderation in the conditions.

Had racing started on time, the 49er and 49erFX would have started at 11.00am to sail four races and catch up on their race schedule, after dropping one race because of the sea condition yesterday.

The other classes scheduled for a start at noon, were brought forward an hour, also to 11.00am, however it seems unlikely they will race today.

sailmelbourne.com.au/website/home.html

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Phuket Kings Cup: Andaman Sea Race
Photo by Max Ranchi, www.maxranchi.com. Click on image for photo gallery.

Kings Cup After a few years in the wilderness the classic Andaman Sea Race made a comeback today. All classes set off on variations to a course that featured a gate laid at Ko Racha Yai, approximately 12 nm to the South of Phuket and back. With a 10 to 15 knot North Easterly they made quick work of the short windward beat, then set spinnakers for the close reach along the coast to Gate 1 near Ko Kaeo Noi.

While the hardened racers had an extra windward beat around Ko Hi thrown in to make their course length 31 miles, the Cruisers and Classics carried on straight to the island with a beam reach and returned on a fine reach, which turned into a drag race for the quickest boats.

Frank Pong's Custom 75 Jelik is alone at the front of the pack and often sailing in different wind speed and direction to the other IRC 0 yachts. Although Jelik completed the course with an average speed just short of 10 knots, the three 52 footers behind are racing in close company and urging themselves on, which could also be detrimental to their cause. As the computer crunched the numbers, Ray Roberts' TP52 One Sails Racing comes out on top by just over one minute from Neil Pryde's Welbourn 52 Hi Fi and the Ahern/Wilmer & Bailey's TP 52 Oi! a further 39 seconds behind. Only two seconds separates Oi! and Jelik making it one minute seventeen seconds from first to fourth on corrected time for the leading contenders. This win extends Roberts' One Sails Racing overall lead by a couple of points.

While the newer high performance 40 footers fight over IRC 1 line honours, the smaller displacement yachts are plugging away and sailing up to their ratings to claim the handicap honours. This time Paul Winkelmann's HH42 Island Fling breasted the finish line first, but could not hold back the advances of Bill Bremner's Mills King 40 Foxy Lady 6 for handicap honours.

Racing continues tomorrow with Race Day 3 and the prize giving party is hosted once again by Kata Beach Resort & Spa the home of the King's Cup.

www.kingscup.com
https://www.facebook.com/phuketkingscupregatta

Bundock Drops Hint About Aussie Cup
Victorious America's Cup coach and tactician Darren Bundock has dropped a strong hint that he could join Australia's fledgling bid to win back the world-famous sailing trophy.

The Australian double Olympic silver medallist helped mastermind Oracle Team USA's stunning come-from-behind victory over Emirates Team Zealand in September.

Bundock has not held talks with any of the teams contesting the 2017 America's Cup but admitted that joining the Australian team would be an attractive prospect.

"The hardest thing for me with Oracle was that I was based in San Francisco for two years," Bundock told AAP.

"Dragging family there, and if they've got other commitments on as well, you end up not spending much time with them.

"So an Australian challenge could be more attractive for me."

For now, Bundock is concentrating on making his Olympic comeback - at the relatively ripe old age of 42.

He's joined forces with London Games silver medallist Nina Curtis in the new Nacra 17 catamaran class and the pair are competing at this week's Sail Melbourne World Cup regatta at Sandringham Yacht Club.

Competing in their first regatta together, the new crewmates held a share of the overall lead on Thursday as all racing was cancelled due to storms.

Bundock, who won silver medals in the Tornado class at the Sydney and Beijing Games, said he's relishing his return to "grassroots" sailing after the glitz and glamour of the America's Cup.

But he insisted his age - he'll be 45 at the Rio Games - would be no barrier to winning the gold medal he craves.

www.sportsfan.com.au

An Absorbing Interest. The America's Cup - A History
The America's Cup - A History By Bob Fisher (£250 + p&p)

Revised limited edition signed by the author. Now down to the last 75 copies... for the sailor on your gift list who seemingly has everything... a very unique gift.

This coveted  2-volume slip-case edition has become a collector's item as important to the history of the Cup, as Lawson's original 'History of the America's Cup' published in 1901. 

These two beautifully designed tomes chart the history of sailing's most enigmatic and greatest prize, covering  the dramas, designs, and personalities from the first race around the Isle of Wight in 1851 to 2003 in Auckland where Ernesto Bertarelli and his largely Kiwi renegade team stole the Cup away to Europe. It is this rich history that has  led to the sheer fascination of what has become the oldest international sporting event. Heavily illustrated with rare etchings, lithographs, line drawings, paintings and pictures, all chosen to complement the text, this collector's edition charts every Cup match in great detail and can rightly claim to be a definitive history. 

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View sample pages: www.southatlanticpublishing.com/aai_sample.htm

Purchase online at southatlanticpublishing.com

Aymeric Belloir Wins Mini Transat Series Boats
The only thing we can blame Aymeric Belloir for, is killing the suspense in the series boat race. Before the start, we foretold a knife fight in this category and instead there has been a quiet loner riding out on his own.

Aymeric Belloir moved into pole position on the second day of racing and then never left. Early on he saw the abandonment of some of his most dangerous opponents: Damien Cloarec (Lomig) was forced to stay ashore for medical reasons, then Ian Lipinski (Pas de Futur sans Numerique) triggered his beacon and Clement Bouyssou (no War) had to throw in the towel after a lot of breakages along the coast of Portugal.

Another of his main rivals, Renaud Mary (www.runo.fr) had to visit Lanzarote opening the way for the trio of Nacira 650s, Aymeric Belloir, Justine Mettraux (TeamWork) and Simon Koster (Go 4 It).

Thereafter he continued to widen the gap as he descended into the tradewinds. He managed to narrowly escape the trap of the depression that formed over the route for the majority of the squad. But what impresses most is the consistency of his progress, clear routing that gave the impression of perfectly controlled navigation. Aymeric had the experience of nine Atlantic crossings, they have played a key role in the quality of his route. The last contact Aymeric had with the earth was in Lanzarote where, during a VHF conversation with relatives, he confided that he felt fit and headed into the Atlantic with his boat in perfect condition.

By winning the Yslab Ranking so impressively, Aymeric betters the achievement of Francisco Lobato who finished seventh in the overall ranking in 2009. The best performance of a series boat remains that of Laurent Bourgnon who finished second in the Mini Transat in 1987, behind Gilles Chiori and ahead of one Isabelle Autissier. But since then, a series boat has never achieved such a feat. Aymeric does not hold the title Championship of French Offshore Racing for nothing ...

minitransat.fr

A Dream Come True
I've tried to imagine the joy of Benoit Marie, the 25-year-old engineer and solo sailor who has just won the Mini Transat race, but really I can't. It is, quite literally, a dream come true for him and a fantastical one, because what sailor could reasonably expect to win this most gruelling of races at their first assault?

It is 17 years since a rookie came 1st in the Mini Transat and the fabulous twist in the tale is that Benoit Marie had no clue he was winning until the driver of the RIB towing him into the bay in Guadeloupe told him so. Marie's radio hadn't been working for the previous three days and he'd had no position reports. He was quite unaware that he had finally managed to overhaul his main rival, Italian sailor Giancarlo Pedote.

"This race is magical. The result is amazing," Marie commented. "I did not give up. It was a huge endeavour which eventually paid off. As Freud said: "Happiness is a childhood dream that comes true in adulthood".

From Elaine Bunting's blog: www.yachtingworld.com

Revisiting The Classics ... While Building On Innovation
Jocelyn Bleriot takes a look at the course for the 2014 Volvo Ocean Race

The course for the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race strikes the perfect balance between tradition and modernity. With stopovers such as Cape Town, Auckland and Newport, the race makes the most of historical roots and sailing icons, while capitalising on its recent innovations by giving sponsors the exposure they desire in promising emerging markets.

Auckland - Itajaí: 6,776nm
Is everything decided once the words Cape Horn have been uttered? Obviously this leg is made up of legendary elements, and for many it remains the pinnacle of the event. But between the dangers brought about by ice in the south and the constant threat of tropical storms further north, it's a fine line. Meanwhile, high speeds on furious seas will no doubt keep the media crews fully occupied.

The well-documented rounding of the Horn - after which, as Olivier de Kersauson once said, 'You can stop fearing for your life' - will be a key symbolic moment, but the course north along the coast of Brazil will allow little opportunity to relax.

Picking a path between wind holes and thunderstorms in this area has proved very demanding in the past (record chasers have sometimes felt desperate at this stage!) and changes in the leaderboard can be anticipated. Expect the navigators to get increasingly aggressive in the final few hundred miles.

Jocelyn's notes on the other legs in the full article in Seahorse magazine:
www.seahorsemagazine.com

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Letters To The Editor -
Letters are limited to 350 words. No personal attacks are permitted. We do require your name but your email address will not be published without your permission.

* From David Evans: As a Dinghy and Cruiser Racer yachtsman ( please, please not Boater - who thought of that - oh yes, the RYA) of 60 years continual experence I read with interest your article today about the issues at The Irish Sailing Association (ISA). Having now followed a few links, it is quite clear that the issues they have there, are very similar to the ISAF induced attitude of the RYA in the UK, especially when elite "squads" are considered and the emphasis that all youth sailing must fit in with RYA courses skills and objectives- dare I say, even norms.

I really do think there is a monumental mismatch between the actions of the administrators of our sport and what the majority of participants want.

As an example I would cite the continual tampering with well established and formerly reasonably effective racing rules to suit Olympic Regattas.

1) Has anyone actually defined a windward mark in an offshore race, when boats are coming at it from all angles, some reaching, some beating some even runing and the wind direction has boxed the compass in the last few hours! So at these marks does or does not starboard tack have right of way, is it a Windward Mark or it it not.

Take a mark in the Solent seperate classes rounding it from differing Angles, its a windward mark for some classes and a leeward mark for others.

2) The 3 boat lengths zone to call for water at 12 knots through the water and with 4 knots of tide (East Lepe buoy in Solent with 200 boats around you in Cowes week comes to mind) which is almost exactly 27 feet per second, so in a 30 foot boat you have less than 3 seconds to ask for water or be asked for water and then change course to give room - complete nonsence of course, but this is the medicine that ISAF force feed us on.

3) Two bottom marks, so now we don't even have to sail the same course as other boats.

All very odd stuff in my book.

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The Last Word
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