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Thierry Chabagny and Erwan Tabarly Win Transat AG2R La Mondiale
Photo by Alexis Courcoux. Click on image to enlarge.

Transat AG2R La Mondiale Close finishes to marathon ocean yachts races are becoming standard fare these days and the Transat AG2R La Mondiale proved it was no exception with an incredibly dramatic finish at the Caribbean island of St Barts today.

After completing a 3,800 nautical mile course from Concarneau in Brittany, but having travelled 4,932 miles through the water, the jubilant French pairing of Thierry Chabagny and Erwan Tabarly on board the Figaro Beneteau II one-design, Gedimat, took the honours.

After 22 days, one hour and six minutes at sea, and sailing at an average speed of 9.32 knots over the total distance, they finished just four minutes and four seconds ahead of second-placed Nicolas Lunven and Gildas Mahe on Generali.

For the French pair this was an especially sweet victory after they were forced to retire from the last race in 2014 when their boat dismasted.

Behind them the third and fourth placed boats, AGIR Recouvrement co-skippered by Adrien Hardy and Vincent Biarnes, and Bretagne-CMB Performance, sailed by Sebastien Simon and Xavier Macaire, got in just 30 and 40 minutes respectively after Gedimat. In fifth placed Cercle Vert, crewed by Gildas Morven and Alexis Loison was only three minutes further back.

The rush of boats across the line off the harbour at Gustavia, the St Barts capital, was the climax of a fascinating race in which the top-five boats in a 15-boat fleet traded places all the way across the Atlantic from the Cape Verde Islands.

* Two ecstatic young British sailors hit the dock on the tiny Caribbean island of St Barts today, delighted to have completed their first transatlantic race and to have finished sixth in a fleet of 15 in the Transat AG2R La Mondiale.

Sam Matson, 25, and Robin Elsey, 23, both almuni of the Cowes-based Artemis Offshore Academy, set sail on the 3,800-mile marathon from Concarneau in Brittany on April 3rd, on board the Figaro Beneteau II one-design, Artemis, and completed the best ever finish in the race by an all-British crew.

They made a good start but early in the piece - off Cape Finisterre - they briefly separated to the east from the leading bunch, who pushed west early. It proved a costly error, allowing the top-five boats to get away.

But Matson and Elsey never let-up in their chase, in what turned out to be an extraordinarily competitive race, and were delighted to get to the finish after around 530 hours of racing inside the top-half of the fleet.

They reached St Barts after 22 days, four hours and 15 minutes at sea and just three hours and nine minutes behind the winning boat, Gedimat, co-skippered by the French pairing of Thierry Chabagny and Erwan Tabarly. For both Matson and Elsey this had been their longest time at sea and they were elated at completing the race.

Big-Boat Race: ORC Pre-Worlds Open 3-5 June 2016
Entry is now open for the ORC Pre-Worlds Regatta in Skovshoved, Copenhagen. Egaa Sailing Club and Royal Danish Yacht Club are managing this regatta as a prelude to the ORC Worlds in July.

The Big-Boat Race regatta is being organized by ES and KDY in cooperation with ORC, and gives the opportunity to test that everything is ready for competitors and management before the main event, the ORC Worlds 2016 being held over 15-23 July 2016. Regatta manager Mads Ehrhard from KDY said "This test event is important for everyone: the competitors can see the facilities in the harbor and get to race in the waters of Oresund, and the organizers can check the logistics and the formalities before the big event in July. We think it is natural to host this Pre-worlds, where we plan to have both up/down courses and an off- shore race on Friday to give everyone a feel for what to expect in July."

Steen Jepsen of ES said "It was obvious to use this time slot of 3-5 June in the increasingly busy Nordic big- boat calendar where the last five years we have held the Aarhus Big Boat Race in Egaa. But of course the competition is held this year in Skovshoved, so this is where we look forward to put the new harbor to use."

Open Big-Boat Race - ORCi Worlds

This regatta is open to all big-boats - not just competitors in the World Championship. This gives the opportunity for all to enjoy good racing at Oresund by competing against world class sailors. It also gives new Danish crews a last chance to register before the last entry deadline, since the organizers can approve a few late wildcard entries - right now already more than 130 crews have registered. This regatta is run using ORCi rules, so remember to have your boat measured and ORCi certificate issued by DSA or another national rating authority.

The Notice of Race is ready and sign in is open at www.ORCWorlds2016/Pre-Worlds

Olympic Curse?
Seahorse Magazine Surviving after the Olympic circus moves on...

Olympic status brings with it prestige, investment and some of the finest sailors from all corners of the globe. But after the Games are over, the medals are handed out and the flame extinguished, what comes next? What happens to a class when the Olympic dream ends?

Rio 2016 will mark the first appearance of the women's 49erFX skiff and the return of the multihull in the form of the Nacra 17, but it will also be the first modern Olympic Games without a keelboat. After 18 Olympiads the axe has finally fallen on the Star.

When it was announced that the Star was not to compete there was outrage from many corners of the sailing community and dire predictions that deselection from the Olympic roster was a precursor to the death of the class; the Olympic curse, some called it.

But from the earliest dinghies to grace the Olympic stage to more recent classes, the facts don't seem to support the idea that losing Olympic status must mark the beginning of the end. For every Snowbird that has long since sailed into history or the Europe lady's singlehander that has indeed suffered from losing its spot, there are classes for which their Olympic inclusion is just a footnote.

Many ex-Olympic dinghy classes remain strong, either regionally or internationally.

Fi Edwards' full article in Seahorse:

CCA Presents 2015 Vilas Literary Prize To Ellen Massey Leonard
The Cruising Club of America (CCA) has announced that Ellen Massey Leonard is the recipient of the organization's 2015 Charles H. Vilas Literary Prize.

The CCA created the prize in 1991 to honor Charles H. Vilas (1907-1988), a 50-year CCA member who edited the Cruising Club News [now Voyages] for 20 years, was club historian for 10 years, and authored "The Saga of Direction - A Cruising Cutter's First 50 Years."

"It's a great honor to receive the Vilas Literary Prize," said Massey Leonard who was recognized for her article "Voyaging to the Top of America," which detailed the 2014-2015 Alaskan cruise she took with her husband Seth from Dutch Harbor to Barrow in their 41' wooden cutter Celeste. "Since writing and photography can be quite solitary endeavors, it's especially meaningful to receive this recognition of my work. I'm flattered to follow in the footsteps of the many accomplished CCA writers before me, and of course I have to thank the editors of Voyages for their hard work in producing such a beautiful publication."

The 30-year-old photojournalist was born in San Francisco, and grew up there and on Hornby Island, British Columbia. She began sailing at age six in British Columbia with her parents and started racing on San Francisco Bay at age 13. Following graduation from Yale University (2008), she and her then-boyfriend (now husband) made a circumnavigation of the globe in 2010, completing the 32,000 nautical mile voyage when she was 24. For the last six years, Massey Leonard has lived in the Swiss Alps where she works at an international boarding school while also contributing regularly to Cruising World and Classic Boat, as well as other sailing publications. In 2014 she received the Best Photo Award from the United Kingdom's Sailing Today.

Laser Masters World Championship
Riviera Nayarit, Mexico: Clear skies and milder breeze inaugurated Day 1 of the Laser Master World Championship - Radial Division. The first race for the Apprentice & Masters division started just after the scheduled 1300h start time in 8-10 knots of a southerly breeze. The other two starts (Grand Masters, followed by Great Grand Masters and 75+) followed soon after.

After Day 1, the pecking order in the 12-boat Apprentice division seems established, with Scott Leith (NZL), Jon Emmett (GBR), and Alejandro Rabago (MEX) finishing 1-2-3 in both races. Carlos Edwardo Wanderley (BRA) won both races in the 28-boat Masters division, but the finishes were mixed after that.

Jeff Loosemore and Greg Adams, both representing Australia, had top-3 finishes in the 49-boat Grand Master division, closely followed by several other sailors. Robert Lowndes (AUS) and William Symes (USA) had top-3 finishes in the Great Grand Master division (36 boats). In the 75 and over fleet (8 boats), Peter Seidenberg and David Hartman, both representing the United States, traded 1-2 finishes, followed by Kerry Waraker (AUS).

But there are five more days of racing on Banderas Bay before this event concludes on Saturday.

Blackwater Team to Debut at RC44 World Championship
BlackWater Team, led by owners Alexander Zaytsev, Andreas Savvidis and Maxim Merzlikin with tactician Konstantin Besputin, will join the line-up for the 2016 RC44 World Championship in Sotogrande next month.

The team's first taste of RC44 racing came in 2015 at the RC44 Valletta Cup when Russian Olympic sailor Ekaterina Skudina introduced Alexander Zaytsev and Andreas Savvidi to the Class.

BlackWater Team will also be drawing on the advice of previous RUS 7 Anyway Anyday owner, Krill Podolski, whose generous offer of the boat and support of Maxim Merzlikin was the spark that started the team on their path to RC44 racing.

BlackWater Team - Crew
Owner/Driver: Alexander Zaytsev (RUS), Andreas Savvidis (RUS), Maxim Merzlikin (RUS)
Tactician : Konstantin Besputin (RUS)
Main Trimmer : Alexander Ekimov (RUS)
Bowman: Roman Konstantinov (RUS)
Pit: Denis Rozhkov (RUS)
Headsail Trimmer: Egor Larionov (RUS)
Offside Trimmer: Andreas Savvidis (RUS)
Grinder: Viktor Filippov (RUS)

A Day On The Water With Softbank Team Japan
I visited SoftBank Team Japan last Friday and got to spend the afternoon on their chase boat. The team has a real depth of experience from AC34: Dean Barker, Derek Saward, Jero Lomas and Winston MacFarlane were all onboard Team New Zealand's AC72 in San Francisco. Wing trimmer and sailing manager Chris Draper helmed Luna Rossa. Grinder Simeon Tienpont was grinder and boat captain for Oracle's AC72. General manager Kasuhiko Sofuku sailed on Nippon Challenge in 2000. The team is developing younger sailors including Japanese team members Yugo Yoshida and Yuki Kasitani and Australian multihull specialist Jason Waterhouse.

Although the team has purchased a design package from Oracle, Nick Holroyd, formerly head of design at Team New Zealand, is making his presence felt, especially with work on board design. Nick was at the cutting edge of the foiling breakthrough during the last campaign.

The team base at Dockyard is growing, with office space and a lounge and kitchen popping up quickly with modular construction.

On the water I saw all three Bermuda based teams out on the water - SoftBank Team Japan, Artemis Racing and, with two boats, Oracle. Looking for long stretches of open water, all four boats headed out of the Great Sound and did several straightline speed runs off Bermuda's beautiful north shore. No one looked noticeably faster than the others. AC35 will be hard fought and every team is likely to be strong and competitive. SoftBank Team Japan did a few well-executed foiling gybes, but that is to be expected, given that Dean mastered that maneuver long before any of the other helmsmen. Of course, the other teams were also smooth in their maneuvers, but no one should think of SoftBank Team Japan as a "new crew." A new team, yes, but one with lots of experience and strength. -- Jack Griffin, Cup Experience

"You Never Know What Will Happen In Hyeres"
Never has a saying been more relevant to the 2016 edition of Sailing World Cup Hyeres with a mixed forecast and an aroma of unpredictability in the air for the Olympic and Paralympic classes as the clock ticks down to Rio 2016.

A glance at the forecast indicates the sailors are in for a week battling with the elements. Gusts up to 50 knots were reported overnight and it was strong for practice throughout Monday. A breeze in the region of 18-25 knots is predicted for the start of racing on Wednesday 27 April and will be an ultimate test for all and as Lobert said, you never know what will happen.

A moment of calm in between Thursday evening and Friday morning will be a welcome respite for some of the lighter sailors, but it's full on from Friday afternoon until Sunday 1 May's televised Medal Races which will be available on World Sailing's YouTube Channel -

A 25 knot breeze is on the limit for the high powered fleets, such as the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 but for the Finn class giants, it brings smiles to their faces.

Many of those vying for national selection will have their eye on their national team mates which could open to the door for a mixed week of results.

Racing at 2016 Sailing World Cup Hyeres is scheduled to commence on Wednesday 27 April. Four days of fleet racing will culminate in the Medal Races on Sunday 1 May which will be broadcast live on the World Sailing TV YouTube channel from 11:00 local time.

Live Tracking via the Sailviewer-3D Tablet App will be available for devices with 7" or greater screens.

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