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'Big Brother' With Sails?
Despite embarking on a 40,000-mile adventure across some of the world's most deserted seas and oceans, there will be no hiding place for the crews of the Volvo Ocean Race, as for the first time every second of their adventure will be beamed to TV screens around the globe.

In a nod to both economics and the public's insatiable demand to be entertained, the new carbon-fibre Volvo Ocean 65 class yachts, built for the 12th edition of the race starting in October, are floating media centres.

Or - as the head of Volvo racing put it - think of these 65- foot (20-m) boats as "Big Brother" houses with sails.

"They are all the same but very high tech and I think the fact that we have built them around television is exciting," Race CEO Knut Frostad told Reuters. He spoke on Friday at an event for the launching of the latest boat built for a race sometimes described as the "Mount Everest of sailing".

"We have incorporated microphones and television cameras all over the boat and we have a media person on board but that's the great thing because it makes it interesting to follow," he said

All five of the boats, built at Green Marine in Hythe, England, across the water from Southampton, will be fitted with five fixed camera points and two uplinks, including a satellite transmitter made by Inmarsat, the same British company that has helped locate the approximate location of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

"We will hear everything they say, see everything they do... it is 'Big Brother' but the only difference is this is real and 'Big Brother' is not," Frostad said, noting that the last edition of the race, which kicked off three years ago, was broadcast in 111 countries.

* Vsail's Pierre Orphanidis takes some issue with this:

Unlike the previous editions [of the VOR Stakeholders meeting], media were allowed to participate in the first hour of the conference and listen to a nearly one-hour long speech by Knut Frostad. Although we didn’t learn anything extraordinary, it is always interesting to listen to the CEO of what is considered to be one of the top three events of the sport, together with the America’s Cup and the Olympics. Whatever Frostad and his team decide to implement, certainly has an impact on the sport overall. Their success or failure will, undoubtedly, have a positive or negative result.

As one can observe from the conference agenda, and as it was repeated countless of times by Frostad in his opening speech, the fundamental axis of the race’s communication policy and philosophy in this edition is storytelling. Stories will be the cornerstone around which the race will evolve. As Frostad pointed out, gone are the days of frequent race updates and press releases where navigators would go on and on, saying “today we lost 10 miles” or “today we gained 15 miles”. This will be the “human” edition of the race. With all boats being strictly equal, technology now becomes nearly irrelevant and sailors, the “human factor”, will take center stage. Frostad boasted he had the best storytellers in business that would produce very attractive and interesting content. The most important issue for him is to engage the audience with stories that go well beyond the conventional sailing jargon and try to win sailing and non-sailing fans alike.

All that sounds wonderful if it weren’t for the fact it isn’t the first time Frostad made those claims. In fact, the “human stories” are always mentioned in his speeches at the World Yacht Racing Forum. In addition, even if we are six months away from the start, the stories by the onboard reporters have been dismal so far, especially at Team Brunel.

Pierre's full editorial at:

Final Day, 2014 Oyster Regatta Antigua
Photo by Kevin Johnson, Click on image for photo gallery.

Glorious but lighter conditions prevailed for the final day of racing at the Oyster Regatta Antigua, sponsored by Raymarine. The Oyster fleet was a magnificent sight, flying spinnakers for a predominantly downwind race from Nonsuch Bay to English Harbour Antigua. The warm tropical breeze had abated somewhat but 15 knots of Trade Winds and clear blue sky produced a perfect end to a memorable regatta.

Paul & Penny Brewer's Oyster 100, Penelope was the overall winner of Class One, with Oyster 885, Lush second and Oyster 82, Starry Night in third.

In Class Two, there was dramatic race between three Oyster 625s vying for the class win. Wolfram Birkel's German Oyster 625, Red Cat, Russian Oyster 625, Lady Mariposa and Maxim Kudryashov's Guardian Angel. Red Cat won the last race by just over a minute on corrected time to win the class but the three yachts had a close encounter all the way around the 18-mile race track.

Eric Alfredson's Swedish Oyster 53, Lisanne held on to win Class Three but only on count back, Tony Keal's British Oyster 54 Wolfhound entered the last race despite having no instruments or electric winches. Defiantly and with great skill, Wolfhound won the last race by over five minutes to tie on points with the class leader. However it wasn't enough as the tie-breaker of discard score went against Wolfhound and Lisanne won the class with Leo Nagtegaal's Duchess taking third in the last race and Harvey and Sue Death's Oyster 56, Sarabi taking third overall. -- Louay Habib

Lizzyracing Backed By Hudson Wight Performance Sailwear
Hudson Wight Performance Sailwear, based in Cowes, Isle of Wight, is the Title Sponsor of 23 year-old solo offshore sailor Lizzy Foreman for her 2015 Mini Transat campaign.

"I'm excited to launch my campaign with Hudson Wight Performance Sailwear as my Title Sponsor, along with a number of other product partners. Hudson Wight is a progressive new brand for keelboat sailors using a ground-breaking laminated fabric called OceanVent. I've been wearing my HW1 Jacket & Salopettes, made with 3-Layer OceanVent, throughout my winter training programme and they are excellent. Technical performance is the best I have experienced and the 3-Layer technology makes them lighter and more comfortable than any kit I have used before. They also have exciting products in the pipeline that I will be helping them to develop."

Lizzy has sailed since the age of three, progressing through the ranks of various dinghy classes as a teenager. By the age of 18 she had decided that her overall objective is to compete in the Vendee Globe. Her selection for the British Keelboat Academy (BKA) in 2010 marked the start of that journey.

In 2011 Lizzy was the only female nominated for the Artemis Offshore Academy Squad. She was with the Academy in 2012-2013 and also completing an internship with OC Sport, focusing on campaign management and logistics. Lizzy aims to qualify for the 2015 Mini Transat, competing in the solo 2,600nm Les Sables - Azores - Les Sables race as preparation for the main event in 2015.

Race Fleet On Weather Watch
Kerumba. Click on image to enlarge.

QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone Ocean racing crews will continue to monitor Cyclone Ita as they continue with the countdown to the 2014 QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone race start at 11 am on Good Friday April 18.

There is plenty of grunt around Brisbane and its surrounds at the moment which is unsettling the plans of more than a couple delivery crews but the latest forecast suggests that by the time the start comes around on Friday morning, the breeze will be anything but fresh.

However, the forecast will not detract from the contest to decide the 66th overall winner of the prestigious The Courier Mail Cup awarded to the crew who complete the physically demanding and mentally tormenting 308 nautical mile blue water classic with the fastest corrected course time.

Black Jack, owned by Brisbane businessman Peter Harburg and capably sailed by a highly experienced crew headed by principal helmsman Mark Bradford, remain massive Line Honours favourites and considering the uncertain forecast, have the proven speed potential to challenge her smaller rivals on handicap.

But the super-fast ex Telefonica round the world boat will need to produce a tactically clever race to outpace her high rating and win the race outright over a strong group of challengers including Tim McCall’s Arcadia, two match racing Farr 30 class yachts, Immigrant and Italian Job, Tony Love’s Patriot and the Kerr 50 Kerumba. -- Nigel Statham

17th Match Race Germany
Langenargen, Germany: Ian Williams and his team GAC Pindar return to Lake Constance over Pentecost from June 5 to 9 as the defending champions. Williams wants to set a new record this season, by becoming World Champion in this spectacular duel-discipline of sailing, the Alpari World Match Racing Tour 2014, for a fifth record time.

Williams shares the lead with America's Cup winner and match racing legend Peter Gilmour. Ironically, Gilmour's son David could prevent Williams from pushing his father off the throne, as the young Australian heads to Langenargen for the very first time and as Tour Card debutant wants to show what the next generation of the Gilmour's is capable of.

The 2014 Match Race Germany 2014 will be the 17th edition since the inaugural event’s debut back in 1997. Only once the German classic had to be cancelled due to a flood back in 1999. The only German Grand Prix has been a tour stop of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour since 2000. As in 2013 Match Race Germany will again be the opening event for the 2014/15 Tour season. Eight seeded tour card holders, two qualifiers and two wild card skippers plus teams will be invited by the organizing committee to form the line-up of the 12 participating teams from at least nine nations

All tour card holders have committed to compete in Germany already, except the Italian team with skipper Francesco Bruni who still has to solve date clashes with his America's Cup team Luna Rossa.

Last Places Available On Volvo 70 Monster Project For Antigua Sailing Week And Transatlantic Adventure
Monster Project offers sailors a unique opportunity to experience "Formula 1" sailing on a Volvo Open 70.

After a successful first Caribbean season featuring two Line Honours wins and a new race record, two exciting events remain before we return to the UK.

Season finale: Antigua Sailing Week

Join us for this highlight of the Caribbean season! Spend your days racing on Monster Project with the keel fully canted, huge sails flying and grinding on the pedestals in the sunshine! Then kick up your heels at the Regatta's famous parties or relax on one of Antigua's glorious beaches.

Join us for our 8 day package or tailor your own combination of training and racing days.

- Training: 24-25 April
- Round the Island Race: 26 April
- Antigua Sailing Week: 27 April - 2 May

Transatlantic Adventure

After Antigua Sailing Week comes something many sailors dream of - a voyage across the Atlantic. Our Transatlantic Adventure takes us from the Caribbean to England in two legs. First leg (5 - 29 May): a 2,500 mile journey beginning in Sint Maarten, past Bermuda and ending in the stunning Azores, combining beautiful locations with all the challenges and glory of a long ocean passage.

Second leg (2 - 12 June): a shorter but no less challenging hop from the Azores to Southampton via the infamous Bay of Biscay.

Packages available for either or both legs of this epic voyage!

For more information visit or email:

Transat AG2R: Safran-Guy Cotten Looks For The Trade Winds
After a week of racing, the Figaro Safran-Guy Cotten passed the La Palma gate on Sunday at 1615hrs in fifth position. If the passage through the Canaries is often characterised with a big dip to the southwest carried by the trade winds, it has not been like that this time at all. On this 12th edition of the Transat AG2R La Mondiale, it’s been upwind in less than 10 knots of southerly wind as Gwenole Gahinet and Paul Meilhat continued on their way to St Barts. At 1300hrs on Monday, the Figaro Safran-Guy Cotten duo were making 5.9 knots and were in 8th place, 50.7 miles from the leader Made In Midi (Gwenael Gbick - Kito de Pavant).

The passage past La Palma usually marks the beginning of the second part of the race that is played out downwind, in the trade winds. But since Sunday night, they have been faced by a stormy depression that is generating very light winds, "whispering" down the middle of the Figaro Beneteau IIs’ route and splitting the fleet into two groups: the supporters of the West, like Gahinet and Meilhat and the Southerners who are hoping to catch the famous trade winds more quickly. "We just received the positions of other boats and we’re a bit upset because for us there is really no option,” Gahinet said. “According to our weather files, it’s pretty obvious that you have to go south to look for the trade winds, even if that means going all the way down to Cape Verde. In contrast, we must actually cross this calm zone for 24 hours. We are confident."

Top five 14/04/2014 at 19:00

1. Made In Midi, Gwenael Gbick / Kito De Pavant, 2413.6 nm to finish
2. Interface Concept, Jean Le Cam / Gildas Mahe, 0.08 nm to leader
3. Bretagne - Credit Mutuel Performance, Corentin Horeau / Michel Desjoyeaux, 4.92
4. Gedimat, Thierry Chabagny / Erwan Tabarly, 6.17
5. Generali, Nicolas Lunven / Eric Peron, 46.42

Quarter Tonners At Howth
Hot on the heels of its Sportsboat Cup announcement for June, busy Howth Yacht Club in North Dublin has today announced that its Class 2 and 3 East Coast Championships scheduled for August will incorporate the Irish Quarter Ton Cup. Running over the 16th and 17th August, the two day event is sponsored by Euro Car Parks.

The Quarter Tonners are looking forward to a busy season with participation at Dublin's ICRA Nationals in June from June 13-15 in Dun Laoghaire before heading across the bay to Howth for the Sportsboat Cup from June 20 to 22 and then the Quarter Ton Championships itself in August.

From Afloat magazine:

IRC Small Boat Regatta
In collaboration with the Royal Air Force Yacht Club
Following many requests for an event tailored to the particular needs of the small racing yacht, the IRC Small Boat Regatta was inaugurated in 2012 and became an instant success.

- Boats with an IRC rating below 0.960 and less than 35 feet overall
- Neap tides
- Two or three races on Saturday, two on Sunday
- Courses designed for smaller yachts
- Competitive racing and great socialising

Watch the SIRCOA website for more details.

Limited validity IRC TCCs will be available for this event, contact the IRC rating office now to get yours;

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4th - Transat Anglaise 2000 (Giovanni Soldini)
6th - Transat Jacques Vabre 2001 (Bruno Laurent)
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8th - Transat Jacques Vabre 2003 (Antoine Koch)
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The Last Word
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