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Solent Start Driftathon
Photo by Ingrid Abery, Click on image for photo gallery.

Fastnet Giant crowds packed the Cowes and Western Solent shoreline this afternoon as a record-sized fleet of 356 set off on the 90th anniversary Rolex Fastnet Race, organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club. With a complete lack of wind in the central Solent, the boats ghosted across the start line starting their 600 miles voyage to the Fastnet Rock and on to Plymouth with a whimper.

The most painful starts were the first two for the 'non-IRC classes' - the Multihulls at 1200, followed at 1210 by the IMOCA 60 footers, Class40s and Figaros.

The multihull line-up included the world's fastest offshore race boat, Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard's 40m trimaran Spindrift 2, and the impressive Multi 80 Prince de Bretagne, but with zero wind it was like the Formula 1 racing cars had run out of fuel. In fact it was American Lloyd Thornburg's MOD70 Phaedo that made the best of it, but even with the tide turning and the wind eventually filling in, it still took her a lethargic 2.5 hours to cover the 10 miles to the Needles - at a MOD70 record low speed of just four knots.

The next starts were for the six IRC fleets that set off in ascending size order with IRC 4 first and IRC Z and the canting keel class last at 1340 BST. For the most part the boats at the island end of the line got away best, but had to make a costly tack across towards the mainland shore.

As an indication of the misery the faster boats faced in the first few hours - at Hurst Narrows, the leading IRC 4 boats were hanging on to the IMOCA 60s and Class40s.

At the start there was a major headache for IRC 3 and IRC 2 as the tide turned favourable but the wind had not filled in. Several boats were over early and then had to struggle back to restart. The most high profile victim of this was former Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup winner and Fastnet race favourite Gery Trentesaux and his JPK 10.80 Courrier du Leon in IRC 3, who only managed to restart around the time IRC 1 was getting underway 40 minutes later.

While the forecast still remains largely light, according to navigator Ian Moore, it has improved slightly. While yesterday the northeastern tip of the Azores high was nosing into the Celtic Sea over Monday-Tuesday, today this has been replaced by a localised area of high pressure sitting over Cornwall. This is due to move south on Wednesday by which time, Moore says southwesterlies will be building along its northern perimeter. -- James Boyd


IMOCA Ocean Masters' Fastnet Focus On Foils
The focus will be especially on the two new boats: Safran, sailed by Morgan Lagraviere and Nicolas Lunven, and Banque Populaire with Armel le Cleac'h and Erwan Tabarly on board.

Both feature L-shaped side foils designed to help partially 'lift' the boats out of the water and similar foils will be fitted to the other new VPLP-Verdier designs launching imminently. But massive questions remain over how they perform in different wind and sea conditions and whether their potential can be found before the Vendee Globe, now just over a year away.

In Thursday's Artemis Challenge, 50 miles around the Isle of Wight, it was 'conventional' IMOCA 60s that won with honours going to Vincent Riou and Sebastien Col on PRB with Banque Populaire finishing fifth and Safran sixth.

"It was interesting for us to see for the first time the speed of our boat against the other boats," said Banque Populaire's Armel le Cleac'h. "We were fourth at the Needles [the western end of the Isle of Wight], not far behind PRB and Queguiner - Leucemie Espoir. Then we had 20-22 knots from 70-80deg and we used the foil and had a good speed. But then [up the southeast side of the island] we were upwind - couldn't point well and there was a lot of current, so we lost two places to Safran and SMA."

So foils are the future? "It has potential," maintains le Cleac'h. "In the Artemis Challenge there was lots of manoeuvring which wasn't easy for us, but our boat is for the Vendee Globe and we can't make any conclusions yet. After the Transat Jacques Vabre we'll see if it is good and can be optimised or if we have to go back to a classic solution."

Time To Change Gear With Hudson Wight's New Performance Jacket
Hudson Wight Hudson Wight has upgraded its popular Performance Jacket for this season, adding some important refinements to the overall design. Although based on the original Performance Jacket in terms of fabric, waterproofness, breathability and flexibility, the main changes to the 2015 Performance Jacket are to its styling and fit:

- HW lime garage detail on pocket zips
- 3rd pocket added at chest height with YKK Aquaguard zip
- Revised roomier collar design
- Better overall fit and sizing
- Sizes: S, M, L and XL
- Colours: Blue and Grey
- Price: £149.00 inc. VAT

More features and further details are available on our website.

If you're ever in the market to try something innovative on the clothing front, your first port of call should always be Hudson Wight - check out our excellent prices either online or pop into our showroom at One The Parade, Cowes, Isle of Wight PO31 7QJ.

Forte and Team PRO4U New ORC European Champions
Photo by Max Ranchi, Click on image for photo gallery.

ORC European Parnu, Estonia: After drama of all sorts in today's final race of the Volvo Estonia ORC European Championship, two new winners are crowned as 2015 ORC European Champions: Jaak Jogi's X-41 FORTE from Estonia in Class A-B and Patrik Forsgren sailing his modified Beneteau 36.7 TEAM PRO4U from Sweden.

Sailing on FORTE with Jogi was Tammo Otsasoo, Marko Nuud, Indrek Rajangu, Martin Kaal, Kalev Kaal, Indrek Lepp, Kalev Vapper, and Martin Muur. The winner of the Corinthian prize in Class A-B was Kai Mares's J/V 49 IMMAC ONE4ALL from Germany, and in having the fastest average speed on the course they also win Fastest Boat award for the Garmin Offshore Race.

Silver medalists in Class A-B went to Priit Tammemagi's PREMIUM from Estonia, just three points ahead of Martin Estlander's XINI FREEDOM from Finland.

Class C winner TEAM PRO4U consisted of skipper Forsgren along with Johan Gnosspelius, Oskar Hellblom, Per Joakim Hoppe, Anders Joachimsson, Jan Lindquist, Anders Martensson, and Carl Fredrik Nycander. Being all amateur ISAF Group 1 sailors, this team also won the Corinthian Prize for Class C. Runner-up in the class was Ott Kikkas's NM38s SUGAR 2 from Estonia, with Samuli Leisti's X-35 AUDI ULTRA from Finland winning Bronze medals.

Complete results:

Yes! Wins Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week
After a week of intense competition in IRC Class 2 Adam Gosling and team on their 1999-built Corby 36 Yes! have not only won their class, but have also won Black Group for the third year running, and the Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week Overall Winner Trophy.

Gosling purchased Yes! (Ex-Mustang Sally) in 2013 and commissioned Corby Yachts to carry out a total refurbishment on her including up grading to a new Axxon carbon rig, and updated sailplan. Most of her deck gear was replaced too, but her original rudder and 2005 keel, remain.

Gosling and his team have sailed her successfully ever since winning not only Black Group overall in 2013 and 2014, but numerous other events including in 2014 Dartmouth Week, Little Britain Challenge Cup (as Stone & Ceramic Warehouse), and the Corby Cup. They also won this year's Royal Yacht Squadron members' invitation Bicentenary event and were top IRC boat.

They were however, pushed hard throughout the week, and believe that was the reason that gave them the edge. Gosling concluded: "Our closest rival in the class was Zephyr, a very well-sailed Beneteau First 40 from Scotland. They are a particularly good team of talented sailors who pushed us all week. What was interesting is because they pushed us so hard we definitely sailed better. The other boats that normally give us difficulty on the water were further back. I can only assume that is because we had to raise our game to beat Zephyr."

Malcolm Hutchings and Andy Ramsey's Squib Lady Penelope won the White Group.

The final day of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week saw a return to champagne sailing conditions, with bright sun and a light north westerly breeze that swung into a south westerly sea breeze during the afternoon.

Overall results for all classes:

Aquece Rio - International Sailing Regatta 2015
Photo by Pedro Martinez / SailingEnergy / ISAF. Click on image for photo gallery.

Rio Events Rio de Janeiro's Olympic waters were packed full of exceptional sailing and athletic talent on Sunday 16 August with all ten Olympic events on show at the Aquece Rio - international Sailing Regatta 2015.

The Men's and Women's 470, 49er, 49erFX, Finn and Nacra 17 sailors joined their RS:X and Laser counterparts on the water for an exceptional day of racing. A southern breeze ranging from 6-10 knots was present as all six racing areas were utilised.

Racing is scheduled to resume at 13:00 local time on Monday 17 August. The RS:X fleets will enjoy a day off whilst the remaining fleets will resume where they left off today.

Top three:

470 Men (2 races)
1. Mathew Belcher / William Ryan, AUS, 7
2. Stuart Mcnay / David Hughes, USA, 8
3. Sofian Bouvet / Jeremie Mion, FRA, 8

470 Women (2 races)
1. Shasha Chen / Haiyan Gao, CHN, 4
2. Anne Haeger / Briana Provancha, USA, 4
3. Hannah Mills / Saskia Clark, GBR, 7

49er Men (2 races)
1. Diego Botin / Iago Lopez Marra, ESP, 5
2. Nico Delle - Karth / Nikolaus Resch, AUT, 7
3. Peter Burling / Blair Tuke, NZL, 8

49erFX Women (3 races)
1. Giulia Conti / Francesca Clapcich, ITA, 3
2. Alexandra Maloney / Molly Meech, NZL, 4
3. Martine Soffiatti Grael / Kahena Kunze, BRA, 5

Finn Men (2 races)
1. Pieter-Jan Postma, NED, 3
2. Max Salminen, SWE, 7
3. Tapio Nirkko, FIN, 11

Laser Men (4 races)
1. Tonci Stipanovic, CRO, 4
2. Francesco Marra, ITA, 10
3. Nick Thompson, GBR, 21

Laser Radial Women (4 races)
1. Gintare Volungeviciute Scheidt, LTU, 12
2. Paige Railey, USA, 16
3. Veronika Kozelska Fenclova, CZE, 17

Nacra 17 Mixed (3 races)
1. Gemma Jones / Jason Saunders, NZL, 4
2. Lin Ea Cenholt Christiansen / Christian Peter Lubeck, DEN, 5
3. Paul Kohlhoff / Carolina Carolina Werner, GER, 5

RS:X Men (6 races)
1. Aichen Wang, CHN, 9
2. Pierre Le Coq, FRA, 18
3. Byron Kokkalanis, GRE, 22

RS:X Women (6 races)
1. Charline Picon, FRA, 17
2. Malgorzata Bialecka, POL, 18
3. Blanca Manchon, ESP, 21

Dubarry Crosshaven - Preferred By Professionals
Dubarry Crosshaven If you had to invent the most punishing ordeal for offshore sailing footwear - an extreme boot camp perhaps? - then it would be a professional, fully-crewed round the world race: thousands of ocean-bashing, boat-trashing miles around the planet. If there's even the slightest imperfection in boat, man or gear, this race will find it, break it, then tell everyone about it.

For most of us, it's the ultimate contest of man and machine against nature. For Dubarry, it's R&D. After supplying its ever-green Shamrock boot to the professional crew of Ireland's Green Dragon entry in a 2008-09 round the world race, Dubarry's most fanatical designers listened, developed, tested, listened some more, tweaked, analysed and tested again. The result was the Crosshaven boot.

When Green Dragon arrived in Galway at the end of leg 7 for the best party the race has ever seen, elbowing their way through the "craic addicts" was Dubarry's research team, wanting yet more feedback. Their finishing touches sealed the Crosshaven's reputation as the offshore professional's boot of choice. Where's the proof of that? Professional teams chose Crosshaven in the 2011-12 and 2014-15 round the world races.

Dubarry Crosshaven - Born at sea

Sea Monster Figurehead from the 15th Century Raised
Click on image to enlarge.

Seamonster A wooden figurehead of a sea monster with ears like a lion and a crocodile's jaw was carefully lifted from the sea in southern Sweden on Tuesday by divers bringing up treasures from the wreck of a 15th-century Danish warship.

The figurehead came from the wreck of the Gribshunden, which is believed to have sunk in 1495 after it caught fire on its way from Copenhagen to Kalmar on Sweden's east coast.

Although the hull suffered extensive damage, the remaining bits make it one of the best preserved wrecks of its kind, dating from roughly the same period as Christopher Columbus's flagship, the Santa Maria.

Researchers are hoping to bring more of the wreck to the surface in future. They say the hulk is well preserved, because sea worms do not like the brackish waters of the Baltic Sea.

"The ship comes from a time just when Columbus was sailing across the ocean and Vasco da Gama also went to India, and this is the same period and we can learn very much about how the ships were made, how they were constructed since there are no ships left from this time," said Marcus Sandekjer, head of the Blekinge Museum, which is involved in the salvage effort.

Brilliant Conditions For IRC Australian Championship Opener
Brilliant sailing conditions on day one of the IRC Australian Championship inflated adrenaline levels and threw the less practiced straight into the deep end at the 32nd Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in the Whitsundays.

Cool 20 knot SSE tradewinds and breeze against tide for the Dent Passage spinnaker start of IRC divisions on Sunday August 16, 2015 put the sail trimmers on high alert and the photographers in a clicking fury.

The IRC divisions started first and the biggest were ashore by lunchtime, giving Bob Oatley's line honours winner Wild Oats X an average speed of 11 knots over the 23 nautical mile Molle Islands race. The 66-footer's top speed was 23 knots, "you don't get many races where you are lit up the whole way," commented Oats' crewman Chris Links.

Division A winner of today's race around Daydream and the Molle islands was Karl Kwok's new Botin designed TP52, Team Beau Geste, making its debut at Race Week.

Bob Steel's new Mat 1180, the only one of its kind in the country and the perfect wide-beamed hull for fast planing rides, did a number on the IRC division B fleet, beating Walter Lewin's Farr 400 Vento.

Four divisions make up the IRC Australian Championship hosted by Hamilton Island and running alongside Audi Race Week, the 10th anniversary of Audi's partnership with the world-class regatta and lifestyle event.

Tomorrow's forecast is for SE winds 16-18kts and Tuesday August 18, for the Club Marine long race, is 14-16kts SSE. The IRC fleet switch to windward/leewards tomorrow on the eastern course area and the nine remaining divisions will contest another round-the-islands race. -- Lisa Ratcliff

Bermuda To Host Amlin International Moth Regatta
Hamilton, Bermuda: The Amlin International Moth Regatta will take place later this year in Bermuda scheduled for 5 - 11 December. Organised and hosted by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, it will give sailors an opportunity to battle it out on the Great Sound in what should be ideal racing conditions for these foiling boats.

A fleet of 60 sailors will be competing at this inaugural Moth Regatta and will be aiming to take home a part of the $10,000 purse along with the title of champion sailor. The early entry list includes Nathan Outteridge who will be looking to recapture the form that gave him two Moth World titles (2011 and 2014). America's Cup teams are also featured with both Oracle Team USA and Artemis Racing taking part. Other notable entries include Chris Draper, currently ranked 5th in the World and now sailing with Softbank Team Japan as well as current UK National Champion Chris Rashley.

The Regatta will be run over five days with two races per day and will be overseen by Principal Race Officer David Campbell James.

New York Yacht Club Reclaims The Morgan Cup
Newport, Rhode Island, USA: Last year, Newport Harbor Yacht Club took a circuitous route to wining the Morgan Cup, squeaking into the knock-out round after struggling in the round robin and becoming just the third yacht club to win the coveted keelboat team racing regatta.

This year, the Californian team once again made the finals, but was unable to overcome the team from the host New York Yacht Club, which won the Morgan Cup for the eighth time in 13 years. The regatta, officially called the New York Yacht Club Invitational Team Race Regatta for the Morgan Cup, is hosted each August out of the New York Yacht Club's Harbour Court Clubhouse, and is one of the premiere keelboat team racing championships in the sport.

With a slightly smaller field than in previous years and an enlarged fleet of Sonars, the 10 competing teams were run through two full round robins during the first two days of the regatta. New York Yacht Club's first team was one of three to finish the two round robins with 14 points.

The winning New York Yacht Club team included: Pete Levesque (skipper/team captain), Clay Bischoff (skipper), Garrett Woodworth (skipper), Carolina Levesque, Alden Reid, J.R. Maxwell, John Edenbach, Joy MacDougall, James Allsopp, Sarah Callahan, Jeff Gladchun and Dale Harper.

Final Standings
1. New York Yacht Club 1 (New York, N.Y.)
2. Newport Harbor Yacht Club (Newport Beach, Calif.)
3. Royal Thames Yacht Club (London, England)
4. Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club (Oyster Bay, N.Y.)
5. Larchmont Yacht Club (Larchmont, N.Y.)
6. College All-Stars
7. Eastern Yacht Club (Marblehead, Mass.)
8. New York Yacht Club 2 (New York, N.Y.)
9. Southern Yacht Club (New Orleans)
10. Balboa Yacht Club (Corona Del Mar, Calif.)

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Sam Pearson - Ancasta Port Hamble

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The Last Word
True spirituality rejects no new light, no added means or materials of our human self-development. -- Sri Aurobindo

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