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A Rousing Start To The 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart
Sydney, Australia: The great race is underway. The 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, featuring an international fleet of 88 yachts, commenced at 13:00 local time on a perfect Sydney summer's day. The combination of excellent weather conditions, the sight of the competing yachts sailing full force under spinnaker on the passage through Sydney Heads, and shorelines packed with spectators, set the scene for one of the more memorable race starts in recent times.

The fleet comprises four 100-ft Maxis - CQS, Perpetual LOYAL, Scallywag and Wild Oats XI - all harbouring the ambition of arriving first in Hobart and claiming line honours as fastest finisher. Their hopes have been boosted by the promise of strong conditions. "We are excited by the forecast and that records may be challenged," revealed John Markos, Commodore of organisers the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA).

Of the Maxis, Perpetual LOYAL was first to clear Sydney Heads and gain an early psychological advantage over her rivals. In close pursuit was the 80-ft Beau Geste and Seng Huang Lee's 100-ft Hong Kong entry Scallywag.

Fourth to pass the Heads was eight-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI who recovered impressively after an uncharacteristically sluggish start. Given the heavy conditions forecast and need for extra weight on board, Wild Oats XI is carrying a record crew of 22 sailors. "All four Maxis are going to have their moments," explained Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards. "We don't know the history of CQS as she is new with a radical design. The Scallywag team have done a lot of yachting this year, their teamwork is good, and they are a different animal to what we have raced against in the last few editions. Perpetual LOYAL are a great team with more talent onboard this year."

The current race record stands at the 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds set by Wild Oats XI in 2012.

At press time, top five, line honours

1. Perpetual Loyal, Anthony Bell, AUS. 276 nm to finish
2. Giacomo, Jim Delegat, NZL, 293
3. Maserati, Jim Cooney, AUS, 304
4. Beau Geste, Karl Kwok, NZL, 308

Updated: Wild Oats Xi Retires With Keel Damage
Wild Oats XI, the supermaxi that has dominated the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race for the last 11 years, is out of this year's race after succumbing to the record pace she was setting at the head of the fleet.

This morning, approaching the north-east coast of Flinders Island in eastern Bass Strait, she suffered damage to the hydraulic ram that adjusts the angle of the canting keel.

The crew were able to manually centre and stabilise the keel, but retired from the race and is heading for Eden.

Wild Oats XI had been chased throughout the night by Anthony Bell's supermaxi Perpetual LOYAL, which now leads the 72nd Rolex Sydney Hobart, and is also on race record pace. If she maintains this morning's speed in good easterly winds, she may finish hours inside the record early tomorrow morning in Hobart.

Thomas Coville Sets New Round-The-World Sailing Record Of 49 Days
Photo by Christophe Launay. Click on image for photo gallery.

Thomas Coville France's Thomas Coville set a new round-the-world solo sailing record of just 49 days on Sunday, beating the previous world record by more than eight days.

Coville arrived at the finish line in Ushant, an island in the southwestern English Channel, at 5:57pm local time after a solo round-the-world trip that took just 49 days, 3 hours, 7 minutes and 38 seconds.

Coville slashed eight days off the world record when he ended his astonishing non-stop journey aboard the Sodebo Ultim' on Christmas Day. The previous record of 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds was established by another Frenchman, Francis Joyon, in 2008.

Colville, who was sailing a 31-metre maxi trimaran, would rarely have slept for more than 30 minutes at a time during the race, remaining on constant alert for danger and changing conditions.

Coville set off from Brest on the Brittany coast on November 6. He needed to make it back by January 3 to set a new record.

In 2008, Joyon broke British sailor Ellen MacArthur's previous record of 71 days, 14 hours and 18 minutes of February 2005. Her Australian-constructed, 23-metre trimaran had been specifically designed to accomodate her diminutive stature of 5 feet, 2 inches (1.57 metres).

Wight Vodka Favourite Yachting Bar Competition
Wight Vodka Favourite Yachting Bar Competition It's time to put your thoughts into words and send in your nominations for 2016's Favourite Yachting Bar competition! Now in its eigth year, this competition is now tacking and gybing to the starting line!

Our past roster of winners is world class:

Peter Cafe Sport in the Azores - 2009
Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke in the BVI - 2010
IYAC in Newport, Rhode Island - 2011
Sint Maarten Yacht Club - 2012
One Bar Playa Blanca in Lanzarote, Spain - 2013
King & Queen Pub in Hamble - 2014

And our first double winner year... in 2015 it was Plas Heli in Wales and Pier View in Cowes taking the honours.

This year we have extended the submissions and voting until end January 2017.

Submit your nominees at until Friday January 6 2017.

From all of the submissions, the team at Wight Vodka will choose the top 10 bars which are put forward for the online voting from Monday January 9 through Tuesday January 30.

We announce the winner on February 1 2017.

Tell us your favourite:

Wight Vodka
Tack & Gybe Responsibly

Forty-Knot Gusts And Mouthfuls Of Christmas Cake
Alex Thomson rounded Cape Horn at 1142hrs UTC Christmas morning describing his successful passage of the Vendee Globe solo round the world race's most notorious landmark as 'the best Christmas present ever.'

Since the solo non stop race was first raced in 1989, Thomson becomes the first skipper across all eight successive editions, to round Cape Horn on Christmas Day. He lies in second place behind Armel Le Cleac'h, passing the Horn one day 23 hours and 08 minutes after the French skipper rounded on Friday at 1234hrs UTC. Since Le Cleac'h rounded just after midday Friday, Thomson has seen the leading margin slashed from 818 nautical miles to a much more tenable 442 nautical miles at 1400hrs UTC this Sunday, Christmas Day.

It is Thomson's fourth passage of the legendary cape. He sailed past just 1.5 miles off the iconic rocky island, grabbing handfuls of festive mince pies and Christmas Cake as welcome sustenance to keep his energies up as he dealt with very variable winds, rising and falling in strength between 16 and 40kts and altering in direction by up to 60 degrees.

Holding a solid third place in the Vendee Globe, French skipper Jeremie Beyou should pass Cape Horn around midday Tuesday. After starting the last two editions of the Vendee Globe, in 2008 and 2012 and never making it to the Southern Ocean, it will be an important moment in the career of the 40 year old from Morlaix on Brittany's Finistere peninsula.

Top ten:
1. Armel Le Cleac'h, Banque Populaire VIII, FRA, 6184 nm to finish
2. Alex Thomson, Hugo Boss, GBR, 350 nm to leader
3. Jeremie Beyou, Maitre CoQ, FRA, 1061
4. Jean-Pierre Dick, StMichel - Virbac, FRA, 1886
5. Yann Elies, Queguiner - Leucemie Espoir, FRA, 2224
6. Jean Le Cam, Finistere Mer Vent, FRA, 2235
7. Louis Burton, Bureau Vallee, FRA, 3454
8. Nandor Fa, Spirit of Hungary, HUN, 4222
9. Conrad Colman, Foresight Natural Energy, NZL, 4720
10. Arnaud Boissieres, La Mie Caline, FRA, 5744

Rod Davis Returns To Team New Zealand For Cup Campaign
Team New Zealand has rehired Rod Davis to upskill helmsman Peter Burling and his crew on match racing techniques.

Davis will concentrate plenty of his work on the starting box area where penalties can prove so costly, especially in the quick-fire format of the next America's Cup to be raced in the 50-foot foiling catamarans.

American Davis won gold for the United States in the Soling class at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and silver for New Zealand in the Star class at the Barcelona Games in 1992.

This will be the 61-year-old's 12th America's Cup campaign.

Tactician Ray Davies remains Team New Zealand's most experienced match-racer along with Ashby, but Burling will be the man with his hand on the wheel and under the most pressure.

The 100-Foot Experiment
Four supermaxis are contesting the J.H. Illingworth Trophy for Line Honours in this year's 628 nautical mile dash from Sydney to Hobart. The outright favourite is once again the Oatley family's Wild Oats XI. WOXI has taken line honours seven times and Mark Richards and his seasoned crew is looking for another win after a split mainsail caused them to abandon the race during the vigorous, first night, southerly buster last year.

Two boats with known potential are Anthony Bell's Perpetual Loyal, the former Speedboat, and then after that, Rambler 100. Bell and the crew won in 2011 on Investec Loyal, which was Maximus originally (2005), and subsequently went on to become Ragamuffin 100. That very boat is now the Hong Kong entry, Scallywag, owned by Seng Huang Lee. She was the third boat into Hobart in 2014 and second in 2015, just behind the great Comanche.

Now the most unknown of the four is also the phoenix of the fleet. Just like WOXI and Maximus, the 90-footer that was until recently known as Nicorette, has undergone some changes, modifications, additions and alterations. Only thing is, hers are far, far more radical - just look at the pictures of the new CQS, as she is now called.

The boat was the winner (Line Honours) of the 2004 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. She is now extended to 100 foot, and will be campaigned by Ludde Ingvall and his billionaire cousin, Sir Michael Hintze. She has a host of profound features that could, in theory, blow the race wide open, or just blow up... the DSS system, the Dreadnought bow, the wings to reduce the mast compression forces, and the stern cockpit extension for sheeting angles and crew weight.

Excerpt from Part Two of "Left field, handshakes and buckets" by John Curnow in

Part One of the three part series on CQS

Seahorse February 2017
What's in the Latest Edition Of Seahorse Magazine

Seahorse Magazine

La petite Anglaise
Patrice Carpentier was perhaps uniquely 'positioned' to revisit the special story of Ellen Macarthur and a remarkable Vendee Globe

Function not fashion
Brett Bakewell-White did not create his 'new' 98-footer to shock, rather as a pragmatic solution to complex problems. Ivor Wilkins

Bring back the thrill
After a decade of flogging up and down on windward-leeward courses many racing sailors are growing increasingly keen on taking in a little reaching... OneSails have some new solutions

Tacking now
Or in at the deep end... having been forced into some unplanned fast-learning in the art of shipping race yachts around the world, Team Vestas's former navigator Wouter Verbraak has joined Dutch group Sevenstar Yacht Transport to make a career of it

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Ghazi "103" Crowned As Champion Of 60ft Dhow Sailing Race
Photo by Martin Dokoupil, Click on image to enlarge.

Dhow Racing The Dubai International Marine Club organized the Heat 1 of the 60ft Dubai Traditional Dhow Sailing Race (HEAT 1) last Saturday with the participation of around 73 boats competing for the title of the 60ft Dhow Race within its marine sports season 2016-17.

We witnessed a great battle between the participants as they sail around the beaches of Jumeirah yesterday (Saturday) wherein hailed as a Champion of the race is the boat 103 "Ghazi" led by Ahmed Saeed Salim Al Rumaithi with its rival boat no. 25 "Zilzal" skippered by Marwan Abdullah Mohd. Al Marzouqi both owned by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohd. bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai. Making its way to the third position is the boat no. 87 "Al Wasf" led by Mohammed Hamad Al Ghashaish Al Marri. And battling for the last two position is "Barraq" boat no. 30 and "Muqasas" boat no. 73.

New Line Up For EFG Bank Monaco
French duo Thierry Douillard and Mathieu Richard will take up the mantle as EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour favourites for the 2017 title on board EFG Bank Monaco after they stepped in for skipper Sidney Gavignet, three-time winner of the Gulf classic.

Douillard, who skippered the Diam 24 Oman Airports by Oman Sail to a top 5 place in this year's Tour de France a la Voile will be skipper while Richard, one of the most distinguished skippers on the World Match Racing Tour will take the helm.

Gavignet has been forced to sit out the 2017 race around the Gulf due to surgery on a long-standing knee injury but his Omani proteges Raad Al Hadi and Haitham al Wahaibi, both Oman Sail sailing instructors, will be on board, bringing their local knowledge of the region to bear in their campaign.

The pair recently completed the Dubai to Muscat Race with Oman's most accomplished offshore sailor Fahad Al Hasni, securing an impressive second place to boost their confidence, though come February, they will be doing their best to beat Al Hasni who will once again be skippering a rival crew.

EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour 2017, organised by Oman Sail, is now acknowledged as the Middle East's foremost offshore race and well on its way to being a classic in the international yacht racing calendar.

In February, a fleet of up to 11 Farr 30s will cross the start line in Muscat and head north up the coast to the first stopover at Sohar, having already cast their eye over the opposition in the opening in port race hosted by Al Mouj in Oman's capital city.

They will finish 763 miles later in Dubai having completed five offshore legs, via Khasab in the spectacular Musandam Peninsular, the gruelling Straits of Hormuz, Abu Dhabi and Doha

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