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Solitaire Final Leg
Eight British Figaro skippers set sail from the stunning French city of La Rochelle in France this evening on the deciding leg of the 2016 Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro.

With the harbour walls lined with cheering spectators, a samba band setting the tone, and the sun blazing overhead, the atmosphere was electric as the 39 Solitaire competitors made their way to the final startline of this year's edition.

On the 1900 gun, the Brits made it count. Heading upwind in around 10 knots of breeze, Redshift skipper Nick Cherry was the first boat with a Red Ensign at the mark in eighth, after favouring the left side of the course. The green giant Gildas Morvan racing Cercle Vert was the

A 130-mile sprint around Ile de Yeu and back to La Rochelle, Leg 4 is a short course with a big part to play. This final loop will decide the 2016 Solitaire winner, finalise the overall leaderboard and, most importantly for the British camp, determine the coveted Rookie champion.

After three legs and 1,365 grueling solo miles, 22-year-old Will Harris crossed the Leg 4 startline on Artemis 77 with an 11-minute advantage at the top of the Rookie division. Earning second place on Leg 1, a first on Leg 2 and third on Leg 3 in the Rookie division, the young sailor from Surrey has a marginal edge over the chasing Frenchman Pierre Quiroga (Skipper Espoir CEM). However, even after so many miles, it all comes down to the final 100 and it's all to play for.

With light-to-moderate breeze forecast for the final stage, the 2016 Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro is expected to conclude late afternoon Thursday in La Rochelle.

First ten around the Radio France buoy:

1. Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert)
2. Alexis Loison (Groupe Fiva)
3. Anthony Marchand (Ovimpex-Secours Populaire)
4. Erwan Tabarly (Armor Lux)
5. Vincent Biarnes (Guyot Environment)
6. Nicolas Lunven (Generali)
7. Yoann Richomme (Skipper Macif 2014)
8. Damien Cloarec (Saferail)
9. Will Harris (Artemis 77)
10. Peter Quiroga (Skipper Espoir EMC)

LMAX Exchange Steals Race 12 Victory Into Derry-Londonderry
Following an incredibly closely fought bout across the North Atlantic, LMAX Exchange has beaten Derry~Londonderry~Doire into its Northern Irish host port by just 33 minutes to complete the 3,624NM LegenDerry Finale from New York, USA, the final ocean crossing of the Clipper 2015-16 Race.

The two teams duelled constantly for the lead throughout the 16 day race which was a particularly fast crossing partly aided by the Gulf Stream in the early stages, and it was the home team which led for most of it. However it never managed to fully shake off LMAX Exchange which overtook this morning in lighter winds and adverse tides as both teams rounded Rathlin Island.

LMAX Exchange crossed the finish line near Greencastle first, at 1043UTC, less than 5NM ahead of Derry~Londonderry~Doire, which finished at 1116UTC. ClipperTelemed+ finished in third place at 1258UTC, claiming its third consecutive podium result.

The victory marks the team's sixth win of the twelve races completed so far in the Clipper 2015-16 Race series. LMAX Exchange leads the overall race leaderboard by nine points with just two races remaining before the 30 July London Race Finish.

GREAT Britain was fourth across the finish line at 1425 UTC, followed almost one hour later by Unicef at 1524 UTC.

The remaining seven Clipper Race teams are still racing and are due to arrive to Derry-Londonderry later today and over the next three days. The fleet will stay in Northern Ireland until 17 July when the teams depart for Race 13 of the 14 stage series, to Den Helder, the Netherlands.

A Delicate Balance
Seahorse But TP52 and Maxi72 manager Rob Weiland is just the sort of benign dictator to pull it off...

We had a great start to the 2016 Super Series in Scarlino, Tuscany, raced from the well laid out Marina Scarlino owned by Leonardo Ferragamo of Nautor Swan fame. Eleven boats at the start, battle hardened by a tough 2015 season, modified and upgraded over winter to do even better in 2016 - and sure enough more even in performance potential now than many one-design fleets. Behind an impressively consistent Quantum Racing it was a good battle between six or seven teams for the other two podium places, and perhaps even fiercer was the battle to avoid being last.

Some of the tacticians were more in phase with the often fickle and hard-to-read conditions, especially Alegre's past 470 world champion Nic Asher and the ever sharp Terry Hutchinson who both made a solid impression. The designers' battle, or if you wish the boat optimisation battle, has reached new levels of perfection in the sense that the teams seem able to read their boats much better and optimise more confidently for the daily conditions than last year. I feel that the work that went into the rigs and sails this winter is one part of the reason for this, but surely the game is more even now that all boats are able to set up for the high upwind mode that you need to survive in the tight 11-boat field.

Looking ahead to 2017, we have three points of interest coming up. First the announcement that our schedule for 2017 will once more include Quantum Key West Race Week plus an event in Miami, this time labelled the Miami Royal Cup; the Royal Cup Challenge Trophy, which was donated in 1995 by King Harald of Norway, Pasquale Landolfi, Willi Illbruck and Yannis Costopoulos as a challenge trophy for IMS50 racing, has now been reassigned to one of each season's 52 Super Series events and so it will travel across the Atlantic for the first time. To get your name on this trophy ain't easy, whether in 1995 or in 2017.

Full article in the August issue of Seahorse:

Solo Round The Rock Race, Sponsored By Virgin Media Business
After more than four days alone at sea the leading boats passed the Scilly Islands early this afternoon, with Rob Craigie (Sunfast 3600, Bellino) holding a 4.5 mile lead on Conor Fogarty (SF 3600, Bam), with Ian Hoddle (GameOn) third on the water. Both were pulling away from the pack, maintaining speeds of over 7 knots, with only 80 miles to the finish. The leader in IRC Class 2, Louis-Marie Dussere's JPK10.10 Raging Bee, who led on corrected time for much of the race, is 30 miles behind Bam.

While all the leaders in Class 1 routed outside the Traffic Separation Scheme west of the Scilly Islands, Class 2 split each side of the exclusion area, making for an interesting tactical separation. Early signs are that the boats that went west may have gained an advantage which could decide the nail biting match race between Deb Fish (Sunfast 3200, Exocet) and Jeremy Waitt (JPK10.10 Jangada) that has played out over the last three days.

While the leaders have enjoyed better winds than predicted for their return from the Fastnet Rock, the slower boats in Class 3 have had to sit through yet another calm. At midnight last night Charles Emmett (Sigma 36, British Bulldog) reported he was approaching the Rock and expected to be rounding it around 0200. However, before getting there he was becalmed just as the tide turned against him.

Given the gruelling nature of the race and the severe weather encountered in this inaugural edition - competitors endured headwinds of over 35 knots on two separate occasions - it's not surprising that a large number have retired. Nevertheless, all returned safely to port without outside assistance and the proportion of boats still racing - exactly 50 per cent of those who started - is still significantly higher than the last windy edition of the fully crewed Fastnet Race, in 2007, where only one in five boats reached the rock. The French skippers have done particularly well in this respect, with only two of the nine entries dropping out. -- Rupert Holmes

Extremely Fast AF Offshore Race
Photo by Oskar Kihlborg, Click on image for photo gallery.

AF Offshore A repeated favourite did it again when Jimmy Hellberg and his PAC-MAN won the big SRS class in the AF Offshore Race (previously round Gotland Race) for the second time in a row. In the championship class, Jacob Wallenberg came to the start with a boat he had never raced before. He and the crew did a strong race and finished the total winner of ORCi.

For Jimmy the victory was more unexpected than last year when he sailed with a complete crew. This year he chose to sail double handed. This makes Jimmy's and Joakim Rodeback's achievement, winning to total in SRS two years in a row, even more unique. This is the first time a double handed crew has won the race around Gotland.

The classic regatta round Gotland has rarely been so fast. The winds were extremely stable and favourable and good which carried the boats round Gotland in record time.

Jacob Wallenberg had left his beautiful wooden yacht Regina at home and instead sailed the modern Club Swan 42 Regina 2.0 in this year's race. The boat is five years old and Jacob bought it this year. -- Mats Olsson

Racing Rules Of Sailing 2017-2020
World Sailing has published the 2017 - 2020 Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS). The new edition of the RRS follows consideration of suggested rules changes from Member National Authorities, Class Associations and race officials over the last four years. The 2017 - 2020 RRS apply for all events from 1 January 2017, but events which begin in 2016 may postpone this date via the notice of race and sailing instructions.

Copies of the new RRS will be available to purchase from World Sailing shortly, or they can be downloaded for free from the World Sailing website.

Finn U23 Worlds
The Finn youth put on a spectacular show of physicality and very cool sailing on the second day at the U23 World Championship in Aarhus, Denmark, on Wednesday with three races in winds gusting 25 knots. After bronze and silver finishes in the last two years, Nenad Bugarin (CRO) has taken the overall lead at the half way stage. Max Kohlhoff (GER) enjoyed the power sailing day to remain in second, while Tuesday's leader, Phillip Kasueske (GER) struggled in the breeze and dropped to third.

It was a perfect day for powerful and physical Finn sailing with sunshine, choppy waters and a gusty, shifty offshore wind, which meant brain as well as brawn was needed to survive the day. There were a few casualties, more so as the day wore on and exhaustion set in, but the 35 young sailors knew this is what they were here for and knuckled down to the challenging conditions.

Three more races are scheduled for Thursday when slightly lighter winds are forecast.

Results after six races:
1. Nenad Bugarin, CRO, 16 points
2. Max Kohlhoff, GER, 17
3. Phillip Kasuske, GER, 19
4. Ondrej Teply, CZE, 22
5. Facundo Olezza, ARG, 25
6. Arkadiy Kistanov, RUS, 34
7. André Hojen Christiansen, DEN, 39
8. Henry Wetherell, GBR, 42
9. Hector Simpson, GBR, 50
10. Mikolaj Lahn, POL, 51

My Way & Scugnizza Offshore Race Winners at ORC European Championship
Porto Carras, Greece: Amid a gradient westerly wind fighting a weak but building southerly thermal, today's conditions at the start of the five-day 2016 ORC European Championship was anything but certain. Race managers from the Nautical Club of Thessaloniki delayed their starts in the two course areas set just west of Porto Carras Marina, waiting for one or the other breeze to win the fight.

After about a 30-minute delay and cloudy skies inhibiting the progress of the thermal, the westerly breeze seemed to win out in the Class C start area, so the sequence began with the right side of the line incredibly favored for the start of the first leg southwest towards the first rounding mark at Nikolaos on the east end of the Kassandra peninsula. From here this class would proceed due east to the rounding mark at Ambelos on the Sithonian peninsula, and then back to the finish at Porto Carras for a total distance of 30 miles.

Class AB did not have as clean a start to their longer race of 34 miles: once Class C cleared their area the race managers moved south due to the lack of wind and only after two general recalls did the fleet get off and running.

With a breeze that increased to 11 knots on the leg to Ambelos and thus favored the slower boats in this large class, it was local-based Faedon Kydoniatis's Rodman 42 My Way that corrected to first place by about 2.5 minutes over Nicola de Gemmis's GS 39 Morgan IV from Italy and only 18 seconds back was Andrew Holdsworth's XP 38 Extreme Ways from the USA in third.

Top Corinthian division finisher in Class AB was Giannis Sykaris's ILC 40 Bana Bioletta 3 from Greece.

Racing resumes Thursday at 1200 local time with inshore windward-leeward races set off the coast at Porto Carras, with as many as three possible if the weather permits.

Results, Offshore Race One:

Class AB
1. My Way (GRE) Rodman 42 Faedon Kydoniatis
2. Morgan IV (ITA) GS 39 Nicola de Gemmis's
3. Extreme Ways (USA) XP 38 Andrew Holdsworth
4. Blue Sky (ITA) GS 43 BC Claudio Terrieri
5. Bana Bioletta 3 (GRE) ILC 40 Giannis Sykaris

Class C
1. Scugnizza-Total Lubmarine (ITA)NM 38S Vincenzo de Blasio
2. Katarina II (EST) Arcona 340 Aivar Tuulberg
3. Sugar (EST) Italia 9.98 Ott Kikkas
4. Baximus (GRE) X-35 OD Thanasis Baxevanis
5. Oxygonon (GRE) X-35 OD Akis Tsalikis

For The Record
The WSSR Council announces the establishment of new World Records:

Record: Around Isle of Wight; Outright Women and Women Singlehanded
Vessel: Foil Kitesurf Board
Name: Steph Bridge
Dates:.30th June 2016
Start time: 10; 09; 46 UTC
Finish time: 13; 13;10 UTC
Elapsed time: 3 hours 3 minutes and 24 seconds
Distance: 50NM
Average Speed: 16.34 kts
Comments: Initial WSSR World Record.

John Reed
Secretary to the WSSR Council

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