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A Challenging Day At Quantum Key West Race Week
GC32s at Key West. Photo by Ingrid Abery, Click on image for photo gallery.

GC32 Florida Keys, Key West: Tuesday at Quantum Key West 2015 brought dicey conditions that forced principal race officers make numerous tough decisions. There were some delays, a few false starts and even one abandonment, but by the time the day was over all three divisions had completed two races in shifty winds that ranged from 5 to 7 knots.

J/70, largest class in the regatta with 54 boats, is sailing on the Division 2 course that is managed by Dave Brennan. A veteran principal race officer and Key West stalwart, Brennan was forced to delay several times in order to start races in stable winds.

Division 1 PRO Ken Legler was forced to abandon the first race of the day while all the boats were on the course while Division 3 PRO Wayne Bretsch had to recall the J/111 class back to the starting area after a significant shift made the course unfair.

Veteran sailmaker Jud Smith was the daily winner in J/70 class, placing second in Race 3 then getting the gun in Race 4. That moved the Marblehead (Mass.) resident to the top of the standings with a low score of 30 points, just one ahead of the aforementioned Greenwald.

Irish skipper Conor Clarke and his team aboard Embarr continue to set the pace in Melges 24 class, which has attracted 13 entries.

Bermuda skipper Alec Cutler steered Hedgehog to victory in Race 3 and a third place finish in Race 4 to extend his lead in Melges 32 class to three points.

After winning both races on Tuesday, New York skipper Iris Vogel tacked on a couple seconds on Tuesday to remain atop the standings in J/88 class. There is a new leader in the J/111 class after Florida skipper George Gamble (Pensacola) posted a pair of bullets on Tuesday.

British skipper Joe Woods remained the leader in both PHRF 1 and the Farr 280 sub-class. Woods has steered Red to a solid score line of 1-1-2-2 so far and his low score of six is half as many as Decision, another Farr 280 skippered by Stephen Murray of New Orleans. -- Bill Wagner

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Dongfeng's Lead Vanishes
The past 24 hours we have seen the pure madness of the Malacca Straits and its patchy weather conditions absorb Dongfeng's hard earned 100+ nautical mile lead and spit it out as almost nothing.

Team Brunel are calling it a restart, Alvimedica are calling it a chance and [Dongfeng Race Team] are calling it a nightmare.

Pinned down by windless zones and adverse currents, this stretch of the leg was always going to be a lottery but the reality of leading the fleet for 16 days and the prospect of winning the home leg to China got into the heads of the Dongfeng crew. "Subconsciously we keep fantasising about arriving home first," said Charles, "We're not thinking about what it's doing to us mentally."

The forecasts all suggest that once the fleet escape this part of the Straits, they could have stronger northeasterly winds to carry them down the narrowest part to Singapore.

There's still 1352 miles to go but the reality is this leg is about to start again from stretch and this is the cruel (although lucky for some) fate of offshore sailing and it's painfully unpredictable nature.

Dubarry Ultima - Loved By Sailors
Dubarry Ultima It's hard to love a pair of boots. They either do a job or they don't. Some will have great grip and others will send you crashing down to the deck like some slapstick comedian. Some will keep the water out, others will leak like a pair of bespoke footbaths. Some will breathe to keep you comfortable, others will slowly baste your feet in their own sweat. Some will look great, others like you've just escaped from a circus.

Even if you do find a pair that ticks every box, which looks good, grips well and keeps you warm, dry and comfortable, you'd still struggle to love a boot. Unless, of course, it's a Dubarry boot. Take the Ultima, with its blend of rich, supple leather and durable man-made fibres, the hi tech GORE-TEX® liner that acts like an air conditioner, the award-winning grip of the sole – yes, those are all there, recognised benchmarks of quality, but what you can't see or touch or smell is the soul. Ultima boots have it in abundance because, like you, they change. They gain experience at sea and improve with age just as surely as you do.

That's why sailors love them.

Dubarry Ultima - Where will you go in yours?

RORC Caribbean 600
The 7th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 is looking like a real cracker and proving irresistible to a variety of yacht racing teams from all over the world. An international fleet of over 50 yachts has now entered the offshore blast around the Caribbean, indicating that last year's record entry of 60 yachts may be bettered.

Yachts flying the flags of 13 different countries will be competing in this year's race: Antigua, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Russia, Spain, and the United States of America.

The RORC Caribbean 600 course, starting and finishing in Antigua, is designed to provide a challenging, high speed racetrack and its popularity has grown, year on year, since the first event in 2009.

Five battle for Line Honours

George David's Rambler 100 set the monohull course record in 2011, scorching around the track in 40 hours, 20 minutes and 2 seconds but this year's line-up is likely to be the most competitive for line honours so far. George David's brand new 88 ft Rambler will make its 600 debut with an all-star crew containing many of Rambler's old guard plus some new, world class, sailors including multiple America's Cup winner, Brad Butterworth and Volvo Ocean Race winners, Stu Bannatyne and Brad Jackson.

Also in contention for line honours is Australian yachting legend Syd Fischer racing Ragamuffin 100, which is being shipped to Antigua from Australia, and Mike Slade's British 100ft Maxi Leopard, which took monohull line honours in the first edition of the race, makes a welcome return, and two Volvo 70s will also be vying to be the first yacht to complete the course, Giovani Soldini's Italian Maserati and Andrew Budgen and Fred Schwyn's British Monster Project.

Ron O'Hanley's Cookson 50, Privateer, was the overall winner under IRC in 2013 and the American team is back for their fifth race. Hap Fauth's American JV72, Bella Mente, has won her class before but will be setting their sights on the overall victory that has eluded the American Maxi 72, which has been second overall for the last two editions. -- Louay Habib

New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup Presented By Rolex
Of the 19 yacht clubs, from 11 countries, that will gather September 12 to 19 at the New York Yacht Club at Harbour Court for the fourth New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex, only one is making its debut appearance. A third of the clubs will be competing in the premiere Corinthian big boat competition for the fourth time.

With a second in the inaugural event in 2009 and then wins in 2011 and 2013, the team from the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto, Canada, led by former America's Cup helmsman and Olympic medalist Terry McLaughlin, has set the standard for success in this event.

One of the reasons the Invitational Cup is such an popular competition is that it is one of the truest one-design regattas for large boats. The New York Yacht Club Swan 42s used for the regatta are identical, all built by the Nautor boatyard in Finland. But the Invitational Cup goes further than a traditional one-design event. The sails and running rigging are provided, ensuring no team has an equipment edge. Additionally the boats are identically equipped and the rigging tension is standardized throughout the fleet. -- Stuart Streuli

Competing Teams, 2015 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup presented by Rolex:

Eastern Yacht Club (Marblehead, Mass.)
Itchenor Sailing Club (GBR)
Japan Sailing Federation
Middle Harbour Yacht Club (AUS)
New York Yacht Club
Newport Harbor (Calif.) Yacht Club
Real Club Nautico de Barcelona (ESP)
The Royal Canadian Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club (IRL)
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (CHN)
The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (AUS)
Royal Southern Yacht Club (GBR)
Royal Swedish Yacht Club
Royal Thames Yacht Club (GBR)
Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR)
Seattle Yacht Club
Yacht Club Argentino (ARG)
Yacht Club Capri (ITA)
Yacht Club Italiano (ITA)

Extreme Sailing Series 2015
2015 heralds the ninth year of this award-winning elite level Stadium Racing circuit that visits eight iconic venues, including a return to Germany for the first time since 2010: a world tour spanning three continents.

Once again, another full eight-team grid, representing seven nations will line up in a few weeks.

The Extreme 40 skippers and sailors presented today to the media and public at the Dusseldorf Boat Show confirm once again the very high calibre of competitors for the season ahead. The commercial and competitive appeal of the original stadium sailing circuit shows no sign of abating: "The Series is now firmly established in the arena of world class professional sailing, and we have built that reputation by continually attracting some of the very best sailors in the world, supported by global brands, in iconic and attractive venues - competing annually and on a global scale," commented Mark Turner, Executive Chairman of OC Sport, the organisation behind the Series.

Extreme Sailing Series 2015 Host Venues:

Act 1: Singapore, 5-8 February
Act 2: Muscat, Oman 11-14 March
Act 3: Qingdao, China 1-4 May
Act 4: Cardiff, UK 18-21 June
Act 5: Hamburg, Germany 23-26 July
Act 6: Saint Petersburg, Russia 20-23 August
Act 7: Istanbul, Turkey 1-4 October
Act 8: Australia 10-13 December

Extreme Sailing Series 2015 Teams and skippers:

GAC Pindar (AUS/GBR) - Seve Jarvin (AUS) / Ian Williams (GBR)
Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) - Igor Lisovenko (RUS)
Lino Sonego Team Italia (ITA)- Lorenzo Bressani (ITA)
Oman Air (OMA) - Stevie Morrison (GBR)
Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) - Roman Hagara (AUT)
SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) - Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) /Rasmus Kostner (DEN)
Team Turx (TUR) - Edhem Dirvana (TUR)
The Wave, Muscat (OMA) - Leigh McMillan (GBR)

Act 1 home team: Team Aberdeen (SIN) - Nick Moloney (AUS)

Inspirational Speaker - Bob Fisher - Mr America's Cup
Bob Fisher Bob Fisher was born to the America's Cup - raised on the foreshore at Brightlingsea UK where the local watermen wore Guernsey jumpers with the names Shamrock and Endeavour emblazoned across their chests. It was from them that he first learned about the Cup.

His own sailing on these East Coast waters led him to international racing around the globe, and a determination to communicate these stories in print, radio and on screen.

Winner of the Fireball and Hornet dinghy world and national championships, the Little America's Cup, and navigator on record breaking challenges across the Atlantic, there is not much that Bob has not experienced first-hand in the world of yachting.

A hugely engaging speaker, he can regale audiences with the dastardly deeds that some have pulled in their efforts to win and defend yachting's 'Holy Grail', speak about racing around the world, as well as motivate the next generation of Olympic champions.

Bob Fisher is available to speak at dinners, conferences and corporate events, and is represented by PPL Inspirational Speakers.

Other PPL speakers include round the world sailors Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Sir Chay Blyth, Dee Caffari MBE, Tony Bullimore and Mike Perham, America's Cup skipper Harold Cudmore, international sailing coach Jim Saltonstall, Atlantic adventurers Tom McClean and Geoff Holt MBE, Captain Williams Wells, powerboat record breaker Dag Pike, and sailing journalists Barry Pickthall and Rob Salvidge.


The Big Game
"In the end, you have to make a decision. We could stay in the range of 10-20 miles with Cheminees Poujoulat, or play the big game," said Guillermo Altadill today, explaining Neutrogena's bold split to the south.

From sailing the length of the Atlantic virtually neck and neck, this morning the Barcelona World Race leaders were nearly 400 miles apart, after second-placed Neutrogena split from current leaders Cheminees Poujoulat, gybing south in search of new weather systems and stronger westerly breezes.

Along with the bold tactical move, Altadill reported in this morning's video conference that they were sailing Neutrogena at "110 percent". Currently their pedal-to-the-metal approach appears to be paying off - this morning Neutrogena was the fastest boat in the fleet, averaging over 20 knots over a 6-hour period and reducing Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam's lead by 30 miles since 0500am, despite the substantial separation between the two boats.

This section of the Atlantic is renowned for record-setting speeds - it was here that Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron set a new 24-hour speed record in the Barcelona World Race four years ago, covering 506.35 nautical miles at an average pace of 21.1 knots.

Provisional rankings at 1400hrs UTC Tuesday 20th January 2015

1. Cheminees Poujoulat (B. Stamm - J. Le Cam) at 19,378.7 miles to the finish
2. Neutrogena (G. Altadill - J. Munoz) + 130.5 miles to leader
3. GAES Centros Auditivos (A. Corbella - G. Marin) + 248.1 miles to leader
4. Renault Captur (J. Riechers - S. Audigane) + 642.8 miles to leader
5. We Are Water (B. Garcia - W. Garcia) + 900.3 miles to leader
6. One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton (A. Gelabert - D. Costa) + 1138.9 miles to leader
7. Spirit of Hungary (N. Fa - C. Colman) + 1353.1 miles to leader
ABD Hugo Boss (A. Thomson - P. Ribes)

Gazprom Swan 60 Class 2015 Circuit Announced
The 2015 Gazprom Swan 60 Class circuit will run from April through to the end of September across Europe and Russia for all Swan 60 and Swan 601 yachts. The circuit will be sailed as a series of individual events organised by ClubSwan's Racing Office based in Florence.

The five event series will start in Palma, Spain at the end of April in conjunction with Palma Vela, the ten boat fleet will then head to Scarlino, Italy in May for the 3rd Gazprom Swan 60 World Championship. In June there is the world renowned Giraglia Rolex Cup racing from St Tropez to Genoa. The racing then returns to the wonderful Spanish waters of Palma during the first week in August to enjoy inshore competition during Copa del Rey MAPFRE.

The grand finale, on the 20th September, is the start of the Nord Stream Race this year in Flensburg, Germany. This edition will be non-stop 800 nautical mile race across the Baltic to finish in Russian waters at Saint Petersburg.

Hopes Rise For A New Irish Sail Training Ship
It was while sourcing a photo of Russia's unusual sail training ship Shtandart that the pain of the loss of Asgard II emerged again. It's always there, just below the surface. But it's usually kept in place by the thought that we have to move on, that worse things happened during the grim years of Ireland plunging ever deeper into recession, and that while our beloved ship did indeed sink, no lives were loss and her abandonment was carried out in an exercise of exemplary seamanship.

Yet up came the photo of the Shtandard, and there right beside her was Asgard II, sailing merrily along on what's probably the Baltic, and flying the flag for Ireland with her usual grace and charm. The pain of seeing her doing what she did best really was intense. She is much mourned by everyone who knew her, and particularly those who crewed aboard her...

... if we do get a new sail training ship for Ireland, she'll have to sail well and fast. That was Asgard II's greatest virtue. For there is nothing more dispiriting for troubled young folk than to find themselves shackled to the woofer of the fleet. Yet you'd be pleasantly surprised by how previously disengaged youngster can become actively and enthusiastically involved when they find that they're being transformed from scared and seasick kids into members of a winning crew.

So now, the 64 thousand dollar question. The cost. It's rather more than 64 thousand. AYT reckon they'll have to come up with a final capital expenditure of €15 million to build the ship and get her into full commission with proper crewing and shoreside administration arrangements in place. But after that - and here's the kernel of the whole concept - they reckon that the running costs will come out of existing government expenditure already in place and used every year for education, youth training, sporting facilities, social development and so forth.

So their pitch is that if the governments north and south come up with funding to support substantial donations already proposed for AYT by various benevolent national and international bodies, then once the ship is in being, she will generate her own income in the same way as vessels like Europa and Morgen Stern are already doing in mainland Europe.

A few thousand words between those ellipses, from WM Nixon in Afloat:

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