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A Day For Close Matches
Photo by Ingrid Abery, Click on image for photo gallery.

Voiles Barth Exciting one-on-one matches punctuated opening day action at Les Voiles de St. Barth, where nine classes competed in testing seas and 12-15 knot breezes on courses, ranging from 24-31 nautical miles, that flanked the southern, western and northern sides of Saint-Barthelemy.

In the six-boat CSA 0 class, where four TP 52s are sailing, Spookie - with the U.S.A.'s current Yachtsman of the Year Steve Benjamin driving - was the undisputable winner of the start, shooting up to the pin end of the line at the last second with a burst of speed and a clear lane, which allowed the team to lead throughout the first beat and leeward leg that passed the beaches of Shell, Gouverneur, Saline and Columbier. On the far side of the island, however, Jim Swartz's U.S. entrant Vesper, which had started just behind Spookie, was able to pass them and, after sailing 31 miles all told, cross the finish line 6-7 boat lengths ahead.

In the Maxi 1 class, the Maxi 72 Momo also managed a remarkable start, setting up similarly to how Spookie had in Class 0 and leaving its closest competitor, the Maxi 72 Proteus, close behind in disturbed air. In this case, however, Proteus could not catch up with the leader and finished almost four minutes behind, taking second place.

Yesterday, three-time Volvo Ocean Race veteran (and winning skipper) Ian Walker had explained that the mostly amateur crew on the Southwind 94 Windfall that is his ride here could win if the wind conditions were not too heavy or not too light. Today, he proved it when Windfall won the race, with Prospector, a Farr 60, following in second. The close match-up in this class was between the Volvo Open 70 SFS (which finished third) and the Volvo Ocean 65 Team Brunel (which finished fourth).

Additional classes sailing today were for CSA 1, 2, 3 and 4, Melges 24 and Multihull. Racing continues tomorrow and resumes Friday and Saturday after a lay day Thursday.

Star World Championship
Day 3 of the Star World Championship started off without wind. The fleet waited for over an hour before we could attempt to get a race started. Finally around 1:00pm the wind came in from 100 at about 7 knots.

The course for today was the same as yesterday, course 3, which is 3 windward legs and two downwind legs... finish to windward.

The left side of the line was a bit favored but the right side had more pressure (wind). It is a tough call when the starting line is half a mile long!

Brian and I adjusted our rig a bit for todays conditions, loosening the shrouds to power up the rig. Most teams probably did this as today's conditions were in stark contrast to yesterday's. We were happy with our speed today.

The wind was once again shifty as it comes over Key Biscayne on its way to the race course when it is in the easterly direction. The wind is "tumbling" and there are strange "micro bursts" than can "auto tack the boat as the wind shift can be 40 degrees but only last for 5 seconds.

Augie Diaz is building up the regatta of his life. He is fast and sailing smart. Bruno Prada is a two time Star World Champion crew and not only are they good, but they have confidence. This is what it takes to win in this class. You have to put it all together at the right time and that's what Augie and Bruno are doing. Augie changed boats just over a month ago to a new Folli and this seems to be a key move in his bid to win a Star World Championship.

Brian and I were pretty happy with todays race given how tricky the conditions were. But getting 7th isn't going to do it for us. We have to try to improve on that on Thursday.

Tomorrow is a lay day in the schedule. So racing resumes at 11:30 Thursday. All the teams will be checking over their gear tomorrow and relaxing a bit.

At this time, the forecast for Thursday is 8-9 knots from the south east. -- Paul Cayard

Top ten after fhree races:
1. Augie Diaz / Bruno Prada, USA, 8 points
2. Diego Negri / Sergio Lambertenghi , ITA, 14
3. Andrew Macdonald / Brad Nichol, USA, 24
4. Lars Schmidt Grael / Samuel Goncalves, BRA, 26
5. Brian Ledbetter / Joshua Revkin, USA, 27
6. George Szabo / Steve Mitchell, USA, 29
7. Luke Lawrence / Ian Coleman , USA, 37
8. Peter Vessella / Phil Trinter , USA, 40
9. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise , USA, 41
10. Tom Londrigan Jr / TC Belco, USA, 42

Full results

RYA Sail For Gold Ball
Sail for Gold The RYA Sail for Gold Ball team is pleased to announce that Shirley Robertson OBE and Chris Hollins will host guests at London Hilton on Park Lane on 4 July for the 2016 Ball.

Guests will also be treated to a taste of Rio in the heart of London courtesy of the London Samba School.

Joining Chris is double gold medallist and BBC and CNN presenter Shirley Robertson OBE.

"Being part of the Sail for Gold Ball is really special to me. Remembering how amazing it felt to be there as a sailor and now presenting the Rio team is a real honour," said Robertson.

"The Ball is such an important element in the sailor's Olympic or Paralympic journey. The years of hard work feel worth it when you're selected to go to the Games and then being on that stage with 800 friends, family and the sailing community really supporting you and encouraging you to get out there and win a medal! It's a fantastic night."

To mark the occasion the RYA Sail for Gold Ball has partnered with the London School of Samba to provide stimulating and topical entertainment at the London Hilton Park Lane in July.

To complete the hosting line-up Nick Bonham will make a guest appearance auctioning eight incredible 'money can't buy' prizes. These will be available to view on the Ball website from next month.

Tickets and partnership opportunities are available either directly from the website or by contacting Kate Mardel-Ferreira on 07940 806505 or

Hong Kong To Host Stopover In 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race
Hong Kong, one of the world's most prestigious sailing destinations, will be hosting the Volvo Ocean Race for the first time when the event visits in February 2018 during the 13th edition.

In a press conference today, Volvo Ocean Race organisers announced a unique collaboration with the Hong Kong Sailing Federation to bring the race to Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour.

It will be the largest world-class sailing event ever staged in Hong Kong.

The world's premier offshore race will transform the old airport in Kai Tak, and introduce residents of Hong Kong to a wide range of race-related activities geared to educate as well as entertain both existing fans and newcomers to the race.

An in-port race, will also be held in the port before the boats leave for the next leg.

Hong Kong brings the confirmed list of stopovers so far for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 edition to nine, which includes Alicante, Auckland, Cape Town, Cardiff, Newport, Rhode Island, U.S, Lisbon, Gothenburg and The Hague.

Seahorse May 2016
What's in the Latest Edition Of Seahorse Magazine

Seahorse Magazine

Design - Fast, light and not too brutal on the pocket
Maarten Voogd is creating not just boats but fleets with his Chinese business partners

World news
A foiling Figaro one-design, Francois Gabart readies for action, Franck Cammas gets some (more) dosh, (more) thriving Class40s, mixed Olympic feelings in Auckland, a new star from McConaghy... and whither measurement, asks Dobbs Davis. Plus our new Asian column. Ivor Wilkins, Blue Robinson, Patrice Carpentier, Andy Rice, Carlos Pich

Paul Cayard
And an all-new Star boat as Andrea Folli challenges Marc Pickel's P-Star hegemony

Rob Weiland
Why skill handicapping is for the birds... or at least the (polo) ponies

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Phil Sharp Third British Skipper Racing The Transat Bakerly
British sailor Phil Sharp has today confirmed that he will compete in the 14th Transat bakerly from Plymouth to New York

Marking 10 years since his victory in the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe transatlantic race in 2006, Sharp returns to the Class40 to take on the 3,000-mile solo race across the north Atlantic.

"There hasn't been an official Transat for eight years now and, after missing the 2008 edition, I vowed to myself that I would be a part of the next race with a competitive entry," said Sharp, who hails from Jersey.

Sharp joins fellow British skippers Miranda Merron (Campagne de France) in the Class40 fleet and Richard Tolkien (44) in IMOCA 60s, among the 26 sailors who will take on the north Atlantic alone, starting at 1430 on May 2nd from Plymouth Sound.

Following the decision that he would not be on the 2016 Vendee Globe startline earlier this week, Sharp's attentions turned fully to The Transat bakerly.

"When my plans changed very recently, I decided there may just be enough time to get to The Transat startline in a Class40," he said. "It has been a serious fight to get to where we are, and although we have secured a great boat, we still have several obstacles to overcome."

With just 20 days until the start gun sounds in Plymouth, the race is now on to prepare Sharp's boat for the transatlantic epic. But first he needs to qualify for the race.

"Following the announcement of my entry today, I'm heading straight out onto the windy ocean to complete my 1,000-mile qualifying passage," he said. "I have only sailed the boat once, so I just hope everything works and that the weather is not too unkind!"

Sailing west offshore from Lorient and into the Bay of Biscay, then ending in Saint-Malo, the passage is expected to take up to five days to complete, leaving Sharp just a week before the fleet gathers in Saint-Malo for The Transat bakerly warm-up - a non-timed leg to Plymouth starting 23rd April.

Sharp's boat is the highly-competitive ex-GDF Suez. The yacht is undergoing a thorough overhaul to prepare it for the race, including a detailed check of its safety equipment, the sourcing of alternative sails, fitting new rigging and installing solar panels.

Helly Hansen Warsash Spring Series
Crews and skippers alike had their work cut out with a SE to ESE wind of 19-24 knots, gusting 28-29 knots and a big spring tide in the Solent on Sunday 10 April, the fourth day of the Helly Hansen Warsash Spring Series.

Black Group classes, except for IRC4, started racing near mark 'Deloitte Sailing Club' and followed a largely windward leeward pattern to and from the Ryde Middle Bank and then up the North Channel for further legs before finishing at East Knoll.

Mike Moxley's Malice (Hod35) took her second win of the series in IRC3, beating David Greenhalgh's J'Ronimo (J92) by just three seconds. Jamie Muir's Scarlett Jester (SJ 320) followed in third place gaining his first podium position of the series. Malice continues to lead the class overall with a four-point lead over J'Ronimo.

At the prize giving at the Warsash SC Club house Mike Moxley and Huw Phillips (Malice) talked about how much harder it can be to get good boat speed in strong winds: "You try and bear away to get the speed, the boat gets knocked down, you come up and then you stall so it's much harder to get the boat into the groove, to find its sweet spot.

"We stuck with white sails only which paid off. Downwind we got speeds of 10-11 knots. We're feeling pretty good as this was the third win of the week for us!".

Racing did not go ahead for the White Group because of the conditions. Some competitors were seen hoisting their spinnakers as they headed back to the River Hamble, only to find themselves sailing horizontally. For one boat their mast broke and they had to be assisted into port. Back at the clubhouse Chief Race Officer for White Group Peter Knight was heard to say that he was 'comfortable' with his decision!

Hats off to the Spring Series race officers out on the committee boats where conditions at anchor were less than comfortable! Richard Courtice sailing in Black Group tweeted "Thank you @WarsashSS committee boats. Looked like hell for you guys".

Series leaderboard
IRC 1 - Jitterbug (Cornel Riklin)
IRC 2 - Fast-Tack Puma (Fast Tack Sailing Ltd)
IRC 3 - Malice (Mike Moxley)
IRC 4 - Erik the Red ( Bernard Fynans)
J/109 - Just So (David McGough)
White Group Combined - Betty (Jon Powell)
J/80 - Betty (Jon Powell)
J/70 - Cosmic (Patrick Liardet)
SB20 - Flutter (Aron Wellbend)

Oyster Regatta Antigua
On the final day of the Oyster Regatta Antigua, two of the three Classes were so close that the winners were decided on the last race. Spectacular sailing conditions prevailed with a brisk 20 knots of wind from the south east. Oyster yachts are built to sail the oceans and revelled in the conditions. Performance in the early part of the race was achieved by getting a good start and playing the gusts and lulls to maximise VMG, velocity made good. Along the south coast of Antigua, tactics came into play, especially staying inshore to avoid the worst of the current, enjoy flatter water and lifting pressure off the land.

Principle Race Officer and Oyster Group CEO, David Tydeman sent the fleet out on a reaching start from the stunning Five Islands Harbour to Sandy Island. Followed by another reaching leg past Jolly and Curtains, keeping the fleet over a mile offshore. After two days of solid breeze, the sea state had built to a significant swell. The Oyster fleet was in its element, powering to windward after Curtains towards Legacy, a tricky upwind mark located near to Cades Reef in Carlisle Bay. The bigger yachts in Class 1 then returned to Curtains and back to Legacy, whilst Class 2 and 3 powered on to the finish off English Harbour.

The Royal Southern Yacht Club has launched a repeat of their very successful 'Oyster Week' of 2010 and will run another event, exclusively for Oyster Yachts, taking place 04 - 09 July 2016 in the Solent. The 38th Oyster Regatta will take place in Palma Mallorca, from 04 - 08 October 2016. -- Louay Habib

Full results:

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