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Wild Oats XI Wins Record Eighth Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
Photo by Carlo Borlenghi. Click on image for photo gallery.

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race She may be 10 years old, but Wild Oats XI reaffirmed her status as Australia's supreme ocean racing yacht by fending off a late charge by the brand-new American raider Comanche to win a record eighth line honours titles on Sunday afternoon.

The Bob Oatley-owned supermaxi that won a first title in 2005 may have had to chase to take the lead from Comanche late on Saturday morning, but once she was in front she continued on supremely to the finish at Constitution Dock in Hobart.

Wild Oats XI crossed the finish line at 3.03pm with an unofficial winning time of 2 days, 2 hours and 3 minutes - outside her 2012 race record of 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds.

But shortly after the finish, Oatley declared: "It's a miracle - an absolute miracle. It's just about (the sweetest victory), but they're all sweet."

Oatley said Wild Oats would be back next year and he'd like to push for 10 line honours victories and beyond with the same, much-modified, boat.

"I wouldn't dream of it (replacing her)," he said. -- Rupert Guinness in the Sydney Morning Herald

The Rush For First Place Is On
It is going to be a busy day in Hobart, with more than two thirds of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet expected to arrive into Hobart today.

The vast majority of the boats still at sea in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's race are ranged along the Tasmanian coast, with just 11 yachts left in the southern reaches of Bass Strait at 6:00am this morning.

It is a long time since the fleet was so tightly bunched at this stage in the race, with even the most distant, slowest boats so comparatively close to Hobart.

All are still enjoying the good, at times strong north-easterly wind that has been driving them home hard under spinnaker since yesterday afternoon.

After a comparatively slow first half, the final stages of this 70th chapter of the Rolex Sydney Hobart saga is proving to be as fast as the initial long range weather forecasts predicted when it was delivered to the sailors at the CYCA briefing before Christmas.

The skippers of the smaller boats were smiling then. This morning they are grinning from ear to ear.

For this is proving to be a race for the smallest and oldest - in keeping with the CYCA celebrating its 70th anniversary and the 70th edition of its famous race.

In first place on handicap at 6;30am this morning was After Midnight, Mark and Greg Tobin's Farr 40, followed by Sean Langman's 82 year old, 30 foot Maluka of Kermandie, then one of only two three-time overall winners, Love and War, Simon Kurts' beautiful S&S 47, along with Wild Rose, Roger Hickman's Farr 43 from 1985 which won the race overall under IOR in 1993, the last time twin overall winners were decided in IOR and IMS.

Cowes Week Limited (CWL), organiser of the world-famous sailing regatta, is looking for a talented and experienced executive director to join the small full-time team responsible for the event.

This new and exciting opportunity arises from the departure of CWL's Sales & Marketing Director, Michelle Warner, who will leave for new pastures in early 2015 after 10 years with CWL.

The new director will be responsible for sponsorship income and supporting the strategic development of the regatta and its delivery. Operating as part of the event's Executive Management Team, the successful candidate will also sit as a Director on the board of Cowes Week Limited, leading and advising the board on all commercial matters.

Those interesting in applying for the role should send a covering letter outlining suitability, together with an up-to-date copy of their CV, for the attention of the Chairman, Peter Dickson c/o

The closing date for applications is Friday 9 January at midday. Interviews will be held the following week and it is hoped that the successful candidate will be available to start at the beginning of March.

Grand Designs
Nandor Fa is an enigma when it comes to sheer fight and determination, but the 61 years old Hungarian skipper is totally unique in the world of IMOCA 60 racing in having designed his boat himself, and built a lot of it. He is a self taught designer, although he spent time in the 1980's in the design office in Australia of Ben Lexcen not long after his successful wing keeled 12 Metre Australia II had won the America's Cup. Yacht design, he asserts, is his hobby, his way of relaxing from the pressures of his business (designing and installing marinas). As well as the three 60 footers he has designed he has a number of smaller yacht designs in his native Hungary.

Spirit of Hungary is fully compliant with the latest iteration of the IMOCA rule, but as yet remains completely untested. Her birth was slightly traumatic in that first the original design had to be adapted to the new rule. And when the boat was built the wrong core material was specified in the forward slamming areas. Thus his ambition to do the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race was thwarted and he had to ship his boat home from New York to Hungary for expensive, time consuming remedial work. So when 31st December comes around and the start of the Barcelona World Race, it will be the first time Fa's Spirit of Hungary has lined up to race another IMOCA 60.

"My real strength is that I am not out to win. I hope that the main point will be the reliability. That was the main objective in the design of the boat, to have a safe boat which it is possible to push to 100 per cent without the risk of breaking something. That is really important for me considering how fragile some of the other boats have proven. So I wanted a boat I can push and not be worried. I cannot compare my boat to the others yet. I guess that the lighter boats, in light and medium downwind conditions will be faster. In upwind and stronger winds I don't think there will be a significant difference."

The Fork In The Road Smashes Record in L2H Ocean Race
Defending champion The Fork in the Road last night took line honours in the National Pies Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race, slashing three-and-a-hours off the race record.

Skippered by former world champion and Olympic sailor Gary Smith, the Bakewell-White 45 crossed the finish line off Hobart's Battery Point at 10:28:35pm for an elapsed time of 1 day 13 hours 28 minutes and 35 seconds for the 285 nautical mile race around Tasmania's north-east and east coastline.

This was just under three hours inside the previous record of 1 day 16 hours 44 minutes and 18 seconds set by Helsal 3 in the 2011 race.

The win gave Smith and his Tasmanian-built yacht their fourth line honours win, with The Fork in Road holding off a tenacious challenge by Peter Cretan's Marten 49, Tilt, sailing its first race in Tasmanian waters.

The two boats were virtually abeam of each other late yesterday afternoon as they raced across Storm Bay, to the south of Cape Raoul, after a rollicking spinnaker ride down the east coast from Maria Island to Tasman Island.

The well-honed skills of Smith and his crew became apparent as The Fork in the Road powered away towards the Iron Pot and the River Derwent, opening up a commanding lead of six nautical miles in the last three hours of the race.

The entire fleet is expected to be finished overnight or by early this afternoon when the Derwent Sailing Squadron will announce provisional winners on corrected time for the three handicap categories, AMS, IRC and PHS. -- Peter Campbell

Biggest Race Spinnaker In The World we talked with Michael Coxon, Managing Director, North Sails Australia about the present sail making technology, the future, the courrent Rplex Sydney Hobart and building the biggest race spinnaker in the world for Anthony Bell of Perpetual LOYAL.

*|YOUTUBE:[$vid=p4GQSJvsw7E, $max_width=500, $title=N, $border=N, $trim_border=N, $ratings=N, $views=N]|*

South African Governor's Cup Underway
Governor's Cup Simon's Town, South Africa: Lively conditions with winds reaching over 30kts made for an exciting start for the 2014/15 Governor's Cup. This 1700-nautical mile race from False Bay Yacht Club, Simon's Town, South Africa, to the remote Atlantic island of St Helena, got underway at 1400 local time today.

The strong 25kt south-easterly did nothing however, to deter the masses of spectators and well-wishers who ventured on the water, and those who headed to mountain viewpoints all the way to Cape Point to watch the 17-strong fleet battle against huge waves as it headed out to sea.

Team Banjo, that took line honours in Governor's Cup 2012/13, is currently leading the fleet as it heads towards Cape Point. According to John Leslie from the Governor's Cup race committee, it should take the fleet about two to three hours to round Cape Point, which means they should all be round by nightfall.

The issues the fleet will face in the next few hours is the residual 4-6m swell from a front that came through on Christmas Day. This will make it a fairly lively first night, but once they are round the Point, the wind will be from behind which means they will be able to settle into the race and concentrate on tactics.

Depending on the weather and sea conditions, the race can take anything between seven and 15 days to complete. The 2012/13 edition of the race took place in generally light to moderate winds. Banjo, who took line honours, completed the race in 10 days. -- Sue Pelling

Tall Ships Coming To Bermuda In June 2017
Sail Training Association Bermuda (STA Bermuda) announced that Bermuda will help Canada celebrate its 150th Anniversary of the Confederation when the Island hosts a fleet of tall ships in early June 2017.

The tall ships event will add to the excitement of the America's Cup Races that Bermuda will also host in 2017. The tall ships fleet will be part of the Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta being organized by Sail Training International in partnership with the City of Quebec, in association with Le Rendez-Vous Naval de Quebec. The planned four-day stopover here (June1 - 5) will provide the ships crews and trainees with rest and relaxation before they head north for the Canadian celebration.

Bermuda has been host to several trans-Atlantic tall ships fleets - the most recent being in 2000 and again in 2009 when STAB placed over 150 young Bermudians as sail trainees and was voted Best Host Port by Sail Training International.

The itinerary for Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta has been organized by Sail Training International which is based in the United Kingdom. The race will begin in Royal Greenwich, UK on 16 April 2017 with the ships sailing to Sines, Portugal; Hamilton Bermuda; Boston; various ports in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and importantly Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, where the articles of Confederation were signed On July 1, 1867 before proceeding to Quebec City.

The final leg will see the fleet sailing back across the Atlantic to Le Havre in France.

GAES Christmas Race
Palamos, Spain: Nicolas Charbonnier and Nicolas Le Berre (FRA) have won the Manuel Albalat Trophy and are the absolute winners of the 39 GAES Christmas Race.

Charbonnier, 470 bronze medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 420 World Champion in Palamos in 1998. Chabonnier won the Manuel Company Trophy to the best youth team in 2008. This is the first time Charbonnier has won the Absolute Winner trophy with crew Nicolas Le Berre. The Miquel Company Trophy is Mon Canellas (ESP) winner in the Men's Laser Radial.

The anticyclone affecting the South of Europe cancelled any chances of wind on the last two days of the GAES Christmas Race.

In 2015, the GAES Christmas Race reaches its 40th anniversary with the many activities planned to make it a very special edition.

Top three by class:

1. Joaquin Blanco Albalat, ESP
2. Eliot Merceron, FRA
3. Antony Munos, FRA

Laser Radial Women
1. Agata Barwinska, POL
2. Anna Weinzieher, POL
3. Karyna Manuel, GBR

Laser Radial Men
1. Mon Canellas Salas, ESP
2. Ramiro Foguet Rojas, ESP
3. Matt Whitfield, GBR

470 Men
1. Nicolas Charbonnier / Nicolas Le Berre, FRA
2. Guillaume Pirouelle / Valentin Sipan, FRA
3. Jordi Xammar / Joan Herp, ESP

470 Women
1. Maelenn Lemaitre / Aloise Retornaz, FRA
2. Bàrbara Cornudella Ravetllat / Sara Lopez Ravetllat, ESP
3. Cassandre Blandin / Bérénice Delpuech, FRA

1. Federico Alonso / Arturo Alonso, ESP
2. Stefano Cherin / Andrea Tesei, ITA
3. Fritiof Hedstrom / Niclas Düring, FIN

1. Peter Lin Janezic / Anze Podlogar, SLO
2. Carla Munte Carrasco / Marta Munte Carrasco, ESP
3. Nil Mas Romero / Fran Nunez Torres, ESP

1. Zsombor Berecz, HUN
2. Milan Vujasinovic, CRO
3. Frederico Melo, POR

420 Boys
1. Marc Llado Duran / Javier Gonzalez Rotger, ESP
2. Max Clapp / Ross Banham, GBR
3. Arnaud Herail / Paco Lepoutre, FRA

420 Girls
1. Carmen Davila Ponce De Leon Pareja / Julia Davila Ponce De Leon Pareja, ESP
2. Maria Bover Guerrero / Margarita Alba Horrach, ESP
3. Angelika Kohlendorfer / Viktoria Puxkandl, AUT

Full results:

Paris Abandons Circumnavigation Attempt
Dr Stanley Paris has been forced to abandon his attempt to become the fastest person to sail solo around the world after suffering damage to his yacht Kiwi Spirit in the middle of the Southern Atlantic Ocean.

The 77-year-old Bermudian sailor is now heading to Cape Town, South Africa.

"Once against my attempt to complete a solo circumnavigation has come to an end. On Christmas Eve the top quarter or the mainsail separated along a seam from the rest of the sail," he told his social media page.

"This is not repairable by me at sea and, given the gales I can expect before I round the tip of South America, it is once again not advisable to continue.

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The Last Word
Life is a journey. When we stop, things don't go right. -- Pope Francis

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