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The Volvo Ocean Race Through The Panama Canal
Peter's Sport Cafe in Horta, Faial. Click on image for photo gallery.

The Volvo Ocean Race Through The Panama Cana Alicante, Spain: The Volvo Ocean Race today announced three new stops and a dramatic change of course. The new stopover locations are Tokyo, Japan, Vancouver Canada, and the island of Faial in the Azores. The new course is now vastly different than previous races, as there will be no Cape Horn rounding, as the fleet will traverse the Panama Canal, head south to Brasil, then to Faial, then to Miami.

"We are delighted to bring on board the first teams from Japan and Canada in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race" said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad. The new teams are a joint cooperative venture between Kirin, one of Japan's largest brewers, and the Molson group, a company whose beer is practically synonymous with Canada.

"We'll be building two boats and fielding all-Japanese and all-Canadian teams" said syndicate head David Molson. We're in discussions with Richard Clarke to skipper Canadian team, with Paul Henderson calling tactics. Our full team will be announced soon, along with our designer and builder. We hope to build both boats in Canada. And just how did those Kiwis get a stopover without a committed team? What's with that, eh?"

The third stopover is by sailor demand. "We listen carefully to the ideas of the sailors, many of whom have done countless circumnavigations" said Frostad. "To a man, they insisted that we had to go visit The Wight Vodka Best Sailor's Bar in the World as voted on in Scuttlebutt Europe last year, Peter's Sport Cafe. See

"If you haven't done a technicolour yawn into the harbour at Faial, well, you're not much of a sailor, are you"? said seasoned grinder Beaurigard "Skruggs" McTavish. "I've hurled in Hamilton, planted beets in Boston, punched my round trip lunch ticket in Tripoli, but Faial is a must-barf location. You're a nancy-boy if you've not been there, done that. Come Hurl in Horta should be their tourist slogan!"

These new developments have made for a dramatic course change. The route is now:

Alicante (Spain), Cape Town (South Africa), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Sanya (China), Auckland (New Zealand), Tokyo (Japan), Vancouver (Canada), ItajaĆ­ (Brazil), Faial (Azores), Miami (US), Lisbon (Portugal), Lorient (France) and the finish port of Galway (Ireland).

"Another comment by sailors was along the lines of 'been around the Horn too many times already, it's cold, dangerous and hated by everyone', so since we've now added the northern Pacific Ocean to the route, we see no reason to go crashing down there again" said Frostad. "The leg from Vancouver to Brasil now takes the fleet down the west coast of North America, then through the Panama Canal, then SOUTH to Brasil. That's against the current and against the wind, adding more navigational complexity to the race. We think that this will be an exciting leg. We've amended the Sailing Instructions to prohibit anyone from slapping huge outboard engines on the stern, and of course we limit the internal engine size, so that we don't have a motorboat race through the Canal Zone."

"From Itajai we head north to Faial for a three day layover. We'll set sail from there, circle the island, then off to Miami. We're hoping the sailors will exercise their best judgment and not be too hung over after a few nights at Peter's."

Next America's Cup To Be Held In Chicago
Chicago, Illinois, USA: At a hastily arranged press conference on the steps of Chicago's City Hall today, representatives of BMW/Oracle and Mascalzone Latino, and their respective yacht clubs Golden Gate Yacht Club and Club Nautico di Roma, announced that the 34th America's Cup will be held in May 2012 in Chicago Illinois.

"I was being bombarded by requests from San Diego, San Francisco, Newport Rhode Island, Cascais Portugal, Auckland New Zealand and Valencia Spain" said BMW/Oracle syndicate head Larry Ellison. "So I've decided that to satisfy everyone really means I'll have to upset everyone... and pick the geographical center point of all those inquiries... that puts it right in the middle of North America. We can't sail these things in corn fields, so the only logical choice is Chicago."

"The cost of bases in San Francisco was too high even for a man Larry's considerable wealth" said BMW/Oracle's Tom Ehman. "There's just not enough real estate on the waterfront that's even close to being affordable. There's never any wind in San Diego, Newport's a bit too blue-blazer for many of us, particularly Vincenzo's team, and we really want a US venue."

When questioned about the Deed of Gift's requirement that the contest be held on an "arm of the sea" Ellison said "We feel that the connection between the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence river makes this an arm of the sea. Container ships and tankers traverse this waterway and out to the Atlantic every minute of the day. Our lawyers kicked the crap out of SNG's team repeatedly, we have no doubt we will prevail against any challenge to the venue. Jeebus.. have you ever listened to David Boies? That man could prove to you with cold hard statistics that Rhode Island is bigger than Texas..."

* Late breaking news on the legal front: A NY Supreme Court judge has ruled that due to an obscure clause in the filing procedures, BMW / Oracle and Alinghi can NOT drop their respective lawsuits and countersuits and must continue their litigation until final rulings from the bench. "The judge is clearly looking out for her own here" said a court official who requested anonymity. "Times are tough for lawyers in NY, big firms are laying off anyone's who's not a partner, this keeps some people employed at the expense of two of the richest men in the world. A million dollars is just a rounding error for those guys..."

* And more trouble brewing. It was announced today that post-race measurement showed the the BMW / Oracle multihull to be outside the measurement limits... by 1 inch. If upheld by an ISAF jury, this could disqualify BMW / Oracle and nullify their victory in AC33.

A New Record Category For Around The World Racing?
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's Open 60 Saga Insurance was officially named by Queen drummer Roger Taylor at Gunwharf Keys, Portsmouth. Photo by OnEdition. Click on image to enlarge.

A New Record Category For Around The World Racing? British insurance giant SAGA, specialist in coverage for men and women over the age of 50*, sponsor of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's Velux 5 Oceans entry in 2006-2007, has announced sponsorship of a new trophy and world race, the Codger's Cup.

The Codger's Cup will be awarded to the team with the oldest combined age for a double-handed circumnavigation. "There's been a lot of talk about the Youngest Around the World lately, and we're a bit appalled at how low the ages have gotten. But at the same time, we're not about to lose an opportunity to publicise the flip side of that coin... and God knows there sure are a lot of old coots knocking about in boats these days..." said Emma Soames, Editor at Large of Saga Magazine.

Scuttlebutt Europe is pleased to announce the first confirmed team entry of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Bob Fisher. Sir KJ says that The Fish will navigate. "He has hit quite a lot of stuff in the past but I think he has got the hang of it now."

Recently retired RYA head Rod Carr is reportedly interested in teaming up with Paddy Boyd, who recently joined the Canadian Yaching Association after a long stint with the Irish Sailing Association. "The problem here is that the Paddy and I only total up about 120 years. We'd have to hope that Sir Robin and Bob have a 'senior moment' and end up sailing in circles. What on earth is THEIR combined age? I've seen photos at Bekens that clearly show Fisher working the bow for Sir Thomas Lipton. DId they even issue birth certificates back then? How are we to confirm his real age???"

KJ continues "We are fed up with hearing about all of these 12 year olds getting all of the publicity. Fish and I want some of it!!!" The intrepid team is going to take Fishers 112 year old gaffer Rosene which will proudly carry its OS class mark around the world to promote OS "Old Shi**er" racing which has developed a keen following at the Lymington Thursday evening series.

"It will remind me of Suhali" commented KJ. "We are sponsored by Pussers Rum, Benson amd Hedges and Vesta Beef Curry so provisions and light air performance will not be a problem."

Fisher stated "One of our major problems is that when we wake up in the morning we have to hope that one of us remembers where we are and why. However KJ has been round so many times that I am sure we will be OK."

Contacted about the new category World Sailing Speed Record Council secretary John Reed commented "We have pointedly not established records for youngest sailors, as we feel this does not promote ocean safety... I can't see how we could turn around and recognise these geriatric misadventures...."

* Known around the docks as Sex Annually, Generally August

Matchracing World Championship Series Launched
Southampton, UK: Representatives of the International Sailing Federation and MWCS today announced the formation of a new championship series for match racing, fully funded by the United Arab Emirates under the flag of the Dubai International Marine Club.

"We intend to build on the base of other circuits by offering huge prize money, all expenses paid, and a fleet of new one design boats that we'll fly around the world in Antonov transport planes," said Sheik J'Wanna Yerbouti in Southampton today. "Sailors should be treated as the elite world-class athletes that they are, with millions of dollars in prizes and a most cordial and relaxing lifestyle off the water as is humanly possible. Our venues will include Monaco, Porto Cervo, Newport, Tokyo, San Francisco and any other venue that meets our strict criteria. Meaning hotel rooms over 500 USD a night and ten dollar bottles of beer."

ISAF support was reportedly procured by an annual donation rumoured to be in the millions of pounds. "We don't really see a conflict between this 'series' and the other 'tour' and 'trophy' regattas. They're obviously completely different words." said ISAF head Jerome Pels.

"Oh for f***sake" sputtered World Match Racing Tour head Peter Gilmour. "Not again. Words fail me..."

Cats Are Back In The Olympics!
Photo by Carlo Borlenghi, Luca Butto Gudo Trombetta/ALINGHI. Click on image for photo gallery.

BMW Cat In the movie "Contact", industrialist S.R. Hadden says "First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price?"... and that edict was apparently taken to heart by Larry Ellison, as it was revealed today that BMW / Oracle built not one, but TWO monster trimarans in Anacortes Washington.

A spokesman for the AC syndicate said today "We had our concerns about the structural integrity of both the boat and the wingsail... we were in completely untested territory here, only NASA has done anything remotely like the ceramic technologies and load bearing physics that we worked with. There was some real concern that if the boat suffered some sort of breakage, the entire America's Cup endeavour would be over. So why just build one boat for 50 million and risk it all, when you can have two for 100?. We were prepared to air freight in our secret second boat at a moment's notice... in fact we had it stashed in Europe within a few hours' flight from Valencia..."

But what to do with these two white elephants? Why, donate them to the International Olympic Committee and get multihulls, and match racing, back into the Olympics!

"Our tax lawyers tell us we can get a HUGE deduction for this donation.. enough so that we could provide support services, shipping, training, dockage, the works. We start work on the hangers at Weymouth this week." said the BMW / Oracle spokesperson.

IOC President Jacques Rogge: "This was just too good to turn down. The boats and all the support are free to the IOC, we just have to make three more medals. And I've been promised an '18th man' slot for at least one day of competition. I'm in, and so is the IOC, we look forward to some amazing sailing on the English Channel in 2012."

A Foiling Centomiglia?
Click on image to enlarge.

Libera Class at Centomiglia Your humble narrator got his first look at the Libera Class on Lake Garda in the fall of 1996 during the ISAF's High Performance Dinghy Trials. On a brisk fall Sunday afternoon out on Lake Garda, I saw a rounding mark near Torbole, a big one. We motored over to see it, and my Italian driver said in very broken English "Libera... Centomiglia". And within a few minutes a skiff on steroids came blasting up the lake from the south... with a dozen men on trapeze wires and enough sailcloth to cover half a soccer field. They rounded in seconds and headed straight down the lake. Then came another, and another... It was, in word, surreal.

The Libera Class has only a few boats... and they're built just for the Centomiglia (literally, 100 miles) a race north and then south on Lake Garda. It's a Big Deal in Italy. Any boat can compete, but line honours is a Big Deal.

In 2006 the line honours winner of the race was the Extreme 40 "Holmatro", helmsman Andreas Haraga together with Giovanni Soldini.

In 2007 and 2008 the winner of the race was another Extreme 40 Catamaran from USA, helmed by Randy Smyth and sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger.

And now the Libera class is striking back... having taken the 2009 event with a monohull (Full Pelt) the class is determined not to let those multihull interlopers spoil the party again. So in addition to immense sails, huge hiking wings and a dozen lunatics on the wires... the Libera A class is now going to allow... foils.

"We have gazed in amazement at the foiling Moths" said ClanDesTeam captain Luca Devoti. "We've worked on foils with our Musto Skiff.. but this is an entirely different beast. We believe if we can get this right, in the ideal conditions we may be able to achieve 45 - 50 knots of boatspeed. God help the crew if we pitchpole this thing..."

"That's insane" said Randy Smyth. "But maybe we should think about foils on the Extreme 40s...:

The Last Word
April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four. -- Mark Twain

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