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Figaro Groupe Bel : In The Leading Trio
Kito de Pavant and Sebastien Audigane surely heard laughter when the ranking was given this morning. Decorating the sails of the Groupe Bel Figaro, the most famous Laughing Cow in the world was in the lead of the Transat AG2R-La Mondiale. One by one, in the rankings, three boats, Groupe Bel, Gedimat and Banque Populaire have taken the lead of the fleet off the shores of Portugal and are sharing the honors. However, there's no time for boasting about this, since a serious slow down is expected on the main route South.

The 25 duos are playing the first leg of this transatlantic race in two stages. Before finally heading across the Atlantic for Saint-Barth, the competitors must first pass the island of La Palma in the Canaries and the run down towards the Spanish archipelago is not easy.

After a quiet crossing of the Bay of Biscay under spinnaker, without any major tactics worth talking of, the sailors will come across the first difficulty of the race. A low area is charging on the cavalry and the wind will drop down low during the night. So it will be no fun, knowing that behind this first "bubble" a string of windless areas is expected for the end of the week. The situation is therefore looking complicated until Morocco when the Figaro racers should finally be able to speed up again.

At the moment, as they approach this first stage, the fleet is spread from West to East, according to their options. Kito and Seb are betting on the West, which seems to have paid up till now.

Ranking 21st of April, 15:00

1. Gedimat - Tripon/Le Gal, 3360 miles from Saint-Barth
2. Banque Populaire - Gregoire/Veniard, 0.5 nm to leader
3. Groupe Bel - De Pavant/Audigane, 0.6
4. Brit Air - Le Cleac'h/Delahaye, 3.1
5. Cercle Vert - Morvan/De Broc, 4.1
6. Lufthansa - Treussart/Le Clech, 5.3
7. Gaspe 7 - Brault/Koch, 7.6
8. SNEF - Mouren/Meilhat, 16.7
9. Concarneau-Saint Barth - Danet/Cloarec, 17.1
10. Skipper Macif - Peron/Riou, 17.2

Hot, Hot, Hot
For the teams competing at the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds in the Dominican Republic, it was a long, hot morning waiting dockside at the Casa de Campo Marina for the breeze to fill in. PRO Peter Reggio postponed the 11am start and kept the fleet dockside where they could find shade and stay hydrated. After an hour and a half delay, the fleet was sent out to the race area just a mile out from the marina entrance and racing was underway by 1pm.

The SSW breeze was light at 6-8 knots for the first race. The race committee sent the fleet on a 1.7 nautical mile W-L-W-L course. Transfusion (AUS) led the pack down the line on starboard and was at the pin end at the gun.

For the second race, the race committee reset the starting line to the west and sent competitors on the same course as the breeze increased slightly up to 12 knots. The fleet was even more tightly packed and hard by the pin end of the start line, Massimo Mezzaroma's Nerone (ITA) was very close to being over early. Clearly they thought they were, though there was no flag or call from the RC boat, and after a boat length, Nerone turned around, sailed back and recrossed the start line. But the team was impressive as they clawed back from last place to finish in 5th place.

Today was the Casa de Campo Race Day. Day One's overall leaders after three races - Transfusion, Barking Mad, Nerone - were presented with Farr 40 boat models built by Abordage. The company, based in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, has been proudly producing beautifully hand-crafted ship models since 1989.

Rolex Farr 40 Worlds Results - Day 1
(Position, Name, Owner, Country, R1, R2, R3= Points)

1. Transfusion, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis (AUS), 1-1-3, 5
2. Barking Mad, Jim Richardson (USA), 4-3-1, 8
3. Nerone, Massimo Mezzarona/Alberto Signorini (ITA), 2-5-5, 12
4. Goombay Smash, Doug Douglass (USA), 8-8-2, 18
5. Fiamma, Alessandro Barnaba (ITA), 5-7-6, 18
6. Estate Master, Lisa & Martin Hill (AUS), 7-2-10, 19
7. Plenty, Alex Roepers (USA), 3-9-7, 19
8. Enfant Terrible, Alberto Rossi/Roberto Strappati (ITA), 6-10-4, 20
9. Struntje Light, Wolfgang Schaefer (GER), 9-4-9, 22
10. Flash Gordon 6, Helmut & Evan Jahn (USA), 10-6-8, 24

Estrella Damm Set The New York Barcelona Record
Photo by Nico Martinez, Click on image for photo gallery.

New York Barcelona Record Barcelona, Spain: 12 days, 6 hours, 3 minutes and 48 seconds, is the mark for the sailing record books. Estrella Damm, the IMOCA Open 60, and the crew of Alex Pella (ESP), Pepe Ribes (ESP) and Stan Schreyer (USA) set the first record for the 3670 (orthodromic) miles passage under sail from New York to Barcelona very early this Wednesday morning when they crossed the finish line in front of the Catalan capital's 26 story iconic glass W Hotel, at 00:37:06hrs UTC/ 02:37:06 local time Barcelona. They sailed an average speed of 12.48 knots

From the top storey of the avant garde new landmark, the blinking navigation lights of Estrella Damm could finally be slowly seen becoming more distinct through an otherwise foggy evening and night. As the trio crossed the finish line, set effectively by the transit of the peak of the sail-shaped hotel and the historic Tibidabo church, they finally brought to an end a passage which comprised two stages which contrasted sharply: a very fast crossing of the Atlantic and an almost painfully slow, exacting climb up the Mediterranean in capricious spring breezes, ending with a crawl to the finish line.

And as the upbeat, relieved Estrella Damm team stepped ashore close to the hotel which was built last year, one of the chain which bears the name of their New York to Barcelona record rivals, the eponymous IMOCA Open 60 with Pachi Rivero, Toño Piris and Peter Becker on board, was still making very slow progress, some 50 or so miles further out to sea.

While the Estrella Damm crew were pleased to have got home first there was considerable disappointment for the W Hotels team who put up a close fight all of the way across the Atlantic, mostly within 20 miles of their rivals until they were struck two successive body blows last Thursday and Friday.

First their port rudder mechanism was damaged by a wave, when they were in big winds to the north of Madeira, on the edge of a malicious low pressure system. Then, while they were repairing it, they were knocked over by a big wave as W Hotels broached.

As a result they lost more than 130 miles to be 168.5 miles behind on the 1700hrs GMT position report last Friday (16th). But the tenacious Piris, Rivero and Becker fought back on the approach to and into the Mediterranean, closing the gap again to 53.9 miles on by last Sunday lunchtime (18th).

But they were never able to get back on terms with Estrella Damm which had lead across the start line at Ambrose Light, and for the final one third of the route, they were always on the back foot.

Estrella Damm arrival time 00:37:06 UTC
Elapsed time 12d 06h 3m 48s
Average speed on orthodromic 12.48kn
3670 miles orthodromic course

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The Wahine and Martinique are a big step forward in the design of women's clothing.

Clipper 09-10 Race 8: San Francisco to Panama
Photo by Erik Simonson, Click on image for photo gallery.

Clipper Round the World Having left the Golden Gate bridge behind them after yesterday's race start, the teams turned south with a strong north westerly wind behind them and have had a good night of spinnaker runs. The tactical decision making began straight away as the teams decided whether to go for the inshore or offshore option.

The wind is forecast to stay strong for the next 36 - 48 hours which will see the fleet make great progress south towards Panama before the light conditions start to dominate near Baja California.

The fact that the crew of Team Finland had less then 36 hours on shore in San Francisco doesn't appear to have affected their performance.

Before the Finnish entry slipped their lines yesterday, round the world crew member, Emil Vartiainen correctly predicted that the fact his team still had their sea legs would give them the upper hand.

He said, "We'll certainly gain there as we won't have crew suffering from sea sickness on board compared to all the other boats which have been here for a long time."

Most of the skippers have reported that crew are feeling unwell as they try and get used to the motion of the boat once more.

Positions at 1800 UTC, Wednesday 21 April

1. Spirit of Australia, 2942nm to finish
2. Team Finland, 4nm to leader
3. Qingdao, 9
4. Jamaica Lightning Bolt, 24
5. Cape Breton Island, 25
6. Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, 29
7. California, 34
8. Uniquely Singapore, 52
9. Hull & Humber, 55
10. Cork, Did not start

470 Spring Cup In Marseilles
The last day of the ISAF Grade 2 event, the 35th International 470 Spring Cup saw the final two of the scheduled eleven races contested in sun, blue sky and with a stable 8-10 knot southwesterly in Marseilles, France.

Putting in a stunning performance was Mat Belcher and 'stand-in' crew Will Ryan (AUS). Apart from an OCS in race three, they raced a great event with mainly top ten finishes to win by three points overall.

The team who remained in the top three throughout the racing, Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente (ARG) managed to convert their third place to a second on the last day. Their result will mean a lot, ranking amongst one of their better performances in such an elite fleet and particulary as the sailors move onto the next event, the Semaine Olympique Francaise, event four on the ISAF Sailing World Cup series. Rounding out the top three were Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos (FRA).

The top placed women's team were Ingrid Petitjean and Nadege Douroux (FRA) in eigth, who sailed a great event, but will have been disappointed by their 35th place in the final race.

Full results on

Louis Vuitton Trophy Sets Sail For La Maddalena
The Louis Vuitton Trophy is coming to Sardinia in May, with 10 elite sailing teams set to race for two weeks on the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea off La Maddalena.

The Louis Vuitton Trophy - La Maddalena follows two successful regattas in Auckland (February 2010) and Nice (November 2009) over the past six months. Further events are planned in Dubai in November and Hong Kong in January of 2011.

For La Maddalena, two additional teams will join the eight who competed in Auckland, and both are world-class sailing squads. BMW ORACLE Racing, who won the America's Cup Match in February, rejoins the Louis Vuitton Trophy after it missed the Auckland regatta due to its Cup commitments.

Luna Rossa, which has competed for the America's Cup three times, winning the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2000, will race for the Louis Vuitton Trophy for the very first time, after sailing in a precursor event, the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in 2009. Luna Rossa has assembled an impressive crew, including skipper Ed Baird, winner of the 32nd America's Cup with Alinghi and tactician Torben Grael, who skippered Ericsson to a win in the last Volvo Ocean Race.

The addition of Luna Rossa will make for three Italian teams in La Maddalena, including Azzurra, the winning team in the Nice event. Also on the start list is the champion from Auckland, Emirates Team New Zealand. The full line-up for La Maddalena is 10 teams, representing eight countries:

- Aleph, FRA, skipper Bertrand Pace
- All4One, FRA/GER, skipper Jochen Schumann
- Artemis, SWE, skipper Paul Cayard
- Azzurra, ITA, skipper Francesco Bruni
- BMW ORACLE Racing, USA, skipper James Spithill
- Emirates Team New Zealand, NZL, skipper Dean Barker
- Luna Rossa, ITA, skipper Ed Baird
- Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, ITA, skipper Gavin Brady
- Synergy, RUS, skipper Karol Jablonski
- TEAMORIGIN, GBR, skipper Ben Ainslie

In the Louis Vuitton Trophy regattas, the teams match-race equalised America's Cup Class boats. For La Maddalena, the boats will be supplied by BMW ORACLE Racing (USA 87 and USA 98) and Mascalzone Latino Audi Team (ITA 90 and ITA 99).

Racing is scheduled from the 22nd May through the 6th June. But teams will start official training sessions on the 18th May.

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Swan Guernsey Rendezvous
The Swan Guernsey Rendezvous, 31st May - 4th June 2010, will be the perfect long summer's weekend of sailing and camaraderie, in the true 'Spirit of Swan'. The Guernsey Yacht Club will be hosting the Swan Guernsey Rendezvous berthing all participating Swans on the traditional 'Swan' pontoon.

The international and mainly classic fleet of Swans that will be attending the Guernsey Rendezvous this year will once again enjoy the outstanding hospitality that the event is known for. The relaxed family friendly sailing event includes fun races, a Club Night at the Guernsey Yacht Club, a barbecue on Herm Island, and the final prize giving at the St. Pierre Park Hotel followed by a lobster lunch and afternoon of festivities.

Entries for the Swan Guernsey Rendezvous this year are expected to be at around twenty yachts as owners have expressed considerable interest in the event already.

The Guernsey Rendezvous is timed to provide an exclusive European Swan event alternation with the Swan European Regatta which was held in Cowes last year. The Rendezvous is also perfectly timed for Swan yachts to participate en-route to the Rolex Swan Cup, 13 - 19 September, in Porto Cervo, Sardinia.

Please contact Martin Ozard, Guernsey Combined Clubs, on for further information and to obtain an entry form.

Swan Racing Classes:
Swan Maxi Class -
Swan 45 Class -
Club Swan 42 Class -

SB3's Return to the Grand Prix Ecole Navale For Their Eurocup
A return to Crozan Morgat for the Ecole Navale organised Laser SB3 Eurocup is already attracting a strong entry, including more boats from mainland Europe.

Since last year, when South Africa's Roger Hudson and UK SB3 Class Chairman Jerry Hill and their respective crews duelled for the overall honours in a 27 boat fleet, the class has continued to grow in France as well as other European countries. More recently the strength of the Euro as well as the geographic availability of good boats in the UK has seen fleets multiply, especially in the north of France. Already 27 entries have been received from 6 countries among them South Africa, Holland, Belgium, France and Germany - with an expectation of between 35 and 40 boats racing in the class over the week end of Friday May 28 - Monday 31.

The popularity of the Crozan Morgat event is almost unrivalled among the British based SB 3 teams, building over the three years that the event has been on the SB3 EuroCup circuit, 2003, 2004 and 2009.

Last year's winners have already entered. Roger and David Hudson, the South African father and son pairing who finished second and third at last year's SB3 World Championships in Cascais, Portugal, are coming back with their City of Cape Town boat.

Hill is most likely to form a potent team with Mark Richards on Rigging Gurus.

The event is a key part of the massive annual Grand Prix Ecole Navale (GPEN) that starts the week before (May 13th - 16th) and includes racing for around 140 different boats in seven different classes from Open 5.7m sportsboats to offshore one designs the Beneteau Figaro 2's, Class 40's including a large fleet of J80's. Amongst the sportsboat classes many top French offshore racers take part to keep themselves race sharp including Mini/Figarist Erwan Tabarly who won the Longzte class and, individually, Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier who together won November's Transat Jacques Vabre transatlantic race from Le Havre, France to Costa Rica.

Guillemot finished third in the Open 7.50 class last year and Caudrelier finished third in the 41 boat J80 class.

Jaffa Asymmetric Regatta
The 8th and 9th May will see the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) hosting the first ever Jaffa WPNSA Asymmetric Cup. Jaffa is one of the most historic and well known brands of citrus fruit in the UK and they are very excited to be holding their first sailing regatta. The regatta is open to three different class associations; 29er, B14 and Musto Skiff with all classes competing on one race course. The winner shall receive the prestigious 'Jaffa Cup' for the very first time as well as a cash prize for the first 29er.

The Regatta is the first stop of many on Jaffa's' 'Zest for Life Tour 2010.' As part of this tour, Jaffa will also be visiting a variety of UK cities throughout the summer to help promote health, fitness and awareness amongst the younger generation. Jaffa will be present at and supporting various events around the country including the Jaffa WPNSA Asymmetric Cup, beach volleyball events, support of youth engagement programmes and support of Team GB Basketball.

The WPNSA provides the ideal starting location for the Jaffa tour as it allows Jaffa to showcase their sponsorship around the event, having been proud sponsors of the Academy venue for the past two years. The WPNSA is also a centre for youth engagement as it hosts many events for young sailors and up-and-coming sailing talent.

Entries for this event must be in by May 2nd and can be secured through

Joseph Tapert
It is with great sadness that ISAF has been advised that Retired International Judge and Umpire, Joseph E. "Mike" Tapert, of Detroit USA passed away at the age of 88 on 13 April, 2010.

Mike served on the International Race Committee for the America's Cup Challenger Selection Series 1977, 1980 and 1983 in Newport, RI and as Umpire for the 1992 and 1995 International Selection Series for the America's Cup (Louis Vuitton Cup) in San Diego.

He was also Judge at many events worldwide, including the Congressional Cup, Key West Race Week, Block Island Race Week, Soling Worlds, The Kenwood Cup and the Admiral's Cup.

Mike was never afraid to enter into a discussion and express his opinion. He will be sorely missed on the Detroit waterfront as he was the "go to" guy. -- Pat Healy, ISAF site,

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The Last Word
Stan, don't you know the first law of physics? Anything that's fun costs at least eight dollars. -- Eric Cartman

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