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Cowes Week - Expensive Conditions
Sunday's closest racing was undoubtedly in the Quarter Ton class, where just nine seconds separated four of the first five boats on corrected time at the end of an intense four-hour race. "It was a great day's sailing, with an awesome course," said Chris Preston, sailing in the class for the first time since 1975 as tactician on Rob Gray's Aguila. "The quality of sailing in the class is amazing, yet it's very fair and friendly."
In White Group most of the early starts again had a handful of boats that hit Grantham Rocks. As with yesterday's racing the different classes became mixed together while beating west along the Island shore against the tide, with good sailors from later starts catching up with the back of the fleets ahead.
Three Darings were noticeably well placed at the start - yesterday winners Jeremy Preston and Scott Macleod's Defender, Andrew Norton's Decoy and Alistair Speare-Coles's Medina 2. Simon King's Finesse also looked well placed at the inshore end of the start, but Philip Bown's Dasher, starting a dozen lengths to windward came out ahead of Finesse after the first few tacks.
At the finish Defender led Decoy by a margin of more than one minute, so it's easy to imagine the disappointment on board when she didn't get a gun - she had been OCS.
Undaunted by his OCS in the J/80 class yesterday, Ian Atkins' Here at Last hit the line at speed, starting near the inner limit and a full length ahead of the next boat, Simon Ling's Team Spitfire. Some 50-60 metres further offshore, Robert Walters' Wild Wally looked to be slightly better placed, and when they crossed tacks a couple of minutes later, Walters tacked under the lee bow of Atkins.
When they next crossed Atkins was clear ahead, with both boats extending their lead on the fleet as they short-tacked to the west. However, Simon Ling's Team Spitfire got ahead to finish with a comfortable three-minute margin, while Thor Askeland's Elle S'Appelle was just four seconds behind Here at Last.
The Extreme 40 class saw another adrenaline-filled day with six action-packed races in strong breezes. At the end of day two, The Wave, Muscat has 85 points, representing a five-point lead over Ecover Sailing Team, with Oman Sail Masirah a further six points behind in third. Group Edmond de Rothschild, The Ocean Racing Club, Red Bull Extreme Sailing, Groupama 40, Team GAC Pindar and Veolia Environment are in places 4-9 respectively. -- Cowes Week Media
Photo of Groupama on the sea wall by Mark Lloyd, www.lloydimages.com. Click on image to enlarge.
* On Saturday the nine X40s, all raced by professionals, set out on their first long race of the week from a start line off Egypt Point on the Isle of Wight but within minutes, as the wind dropped, they drifted onto the rocks leaving boat repairers with several hours of work to patch up or replace damaged rudders and daggerboards.
Masirah was one of the worse affected with shore crew having to make a dash over to Hamble for replacements though they appeared promptly on the start line for the second round of racing later in the afternoon.
Roland Jourdain's Veolia Environnement also suffered a broken rudder after hitting a mooring buoy and was forced to retire for the day.
Mike Golding on Ecover posted his first win of the week, his third of the 2010 circuit, while 2009 champions Masirah, were runners up in the first race despite the damage and after six races, had risen to the top of the leaderboard with a seven point lead over Ecover with four second places and a win in the final race.
British skipper Paul Campbell James used his local knowledge of Solent tides to maximum effect by winning the third race in The Wave Muscat but was over the line at the start of the fourth leaving Frenchman Yann Guichard to secure his first of two wins on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild.
Gusts reached 16 knots as a sea breeze kicked in mid afternoon, which many believe will set the weather pattern for the early part of the Cowes Week regatta. -- Kate Laven in the Telegraph, www.telegraph.co.uk
Armel Le Cleac'h On Brit Air Wins First Leg of Solitaire du Figaro
At precisely 01:42:32 a.m. on Saturday Armel Le Cleac'h on Brit Air crossed the finish line two miles outside the port of Gijon, on the Spanish Coast after 83 hours, 14 minutes and 32 seconds racing. He covered the 515 miles from Le Havre to Gijon at an average speed of 6.9 knots. Brit Air's skipper has participated nine times to the Solitaire and scored three leg wins.
Le Cleac'h has sailed the perfect race right from the very start and never been less than top five, moving into the lead just after passing the Brittany Point on Thursday at dawn, only temporarily conceding the first place to Francois Gabart and to the rookie Yoann Richomme. His victory was built in the Bay of Biscay when he skilfully opted for a more easterly route escaping the high-pressure ridge area. Winner in 2003, where he beat Alain Gautier by the memorable 13 seconds, Armel Le Cleac'h is 33 years old and for some time now has been a point of reference on the Figaro circuit. Over the past two years he has enjoyed success in both the Open 60 and Figaro campaigns: 2nd in the 2008-2009 Vendee Globe, 2008 Imoca World Champion and then winner last year of the Transat AG2R-La Mondiale.
Just 15 minutes later, Yann Elies (Genearli Europ Assistance) crossed the line in second place. His time deficit in the overall ranking will be considered as provisional as a minimum 30 minute time-penality will be imposed once the jury meet in Brest to hear the case of a broken engine seal. Elies was forced to break the seal to in order to get his boat off the sand when he ran aground off Finisterre midway into the race whilst in the lead.
The podium was completed by Eric Peron (Skipper Masif 2009) who was the first skipper to reach the Radio France buoy just 4 miles after the start of the race last Tuesday in Le Havre and held the lead at various stages over the course of the first leg. This is Eric's first leg podium finish on what is now his 4th participation.
The first rookie to reach Gijon was Yoann Richomme (DLBC)
The CLS Prize awarded to the sailor who has made be best progress between the Radio France buoy and finish line went to Thomas Rouxel on Credit Mutuele de Bretagne who moved up 27 places.
The next leg from Gijon to Brest starts Tuesday August 3rd.
* Kito de Pavant (winner of the Figaro in 2002) had a rough leg, finishing 21st, but only one hour off (final standings are based on total elapsed time over the course):
"Yes, it was difficult. I tried quite a few things and few of them worked out the way I had intended, but this first leg has reassured me that I'm still capable. This is my training leg and we will be attacking more serious stuff in three day's time. We suffered a lot on the first two days in the Channel. There was a lot of work to do on the boat. The seaweed spoiled the pleasure of racing, because you really have to check the appendages every five minutes, and every time one or several of them are stuck. The Bay of Biscay gave us a breath of fresh air and we could enjoy the sun, as well as animals like dolphins and the beautiful light, particularly today. It is inevitably physically more difficult at the age of 50 than it is at 30. I suffered a little, but it's not over yet. In fact, I was looking for regatta racing in close contact with the other contenders. I missed it. It was a real question mark from that point of view and my mind is now at rest. It has been a success." -- www.beltchiztour.com
Top ten finishes, first leg:
1. Armel Le Cleac'h, Brit Air Arrived 31/07/2010 At 01:14:32 After 83h14'32"
Silent heroes - Part II
Turn of the tide?
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Team Aqua Rules The "Agua" at RC 44 Valencia Cup
Bake, a Canadian living in the U.A.E., and crew Cameron Appleton, Jeff Brock, Matt Cassidy, Andrew Estcourt, Ben Graham, Nigel King, Rome Kirby and Chris Noble completed the feat today with a 3-point win in the fleet racing portion of the regatta.
Team Aqua entered the final day with a 4-point lead over Torbjorn Tornqvist's Artemis of Sweden. After today's first race Artemis looked set to shoot into first when it whittled that lead to 2 points by placing third in Race 9 to Aqua's fifth.
Tornqvist and his Artemis crew Noel Drennan, Andy Fethers, Terry Hutchinson, Dave Munday, Ivan Peute, Mark Towill, Morgan Trubovich and Chris Welch also pulled a treble. They placed second in the match racing, fleet racing and overall.
Aqua's win also creates a log jam at the top of the championship leaderboard. Larry Ellison's BMW ORACLE Racing, which Coutts helmed in the match racing, is the new leader with 6 points. Although Russian Maxim Logutenko drove for the fleet racing, the crew placed fifth in the fleet racing and third in the match racing for fifth overall.
The next three teams - Aqua, Artemis and Pieter Heerema's No Way Back - are just 1 point behind.
The RC 44 2010 Championship Tour resumes in October with the RC 44 World Championship Puerto Calero Islas Canarias Cup, scheduled Oct. 11-16 in the Canary Islands. -- Bernard Schopfer
RC 44 Valencia Cup Overall
(Final results, match racing, fleet racing, overall)
Teamorigin Announces Team for 1851 Cup at Cowes Week
The 1851 Cup sees TEAMORIGIN challenge the current America's Cup holders, BMW Oracle, during a series of match races in the Solent. On Thursday 5th August, the teams will race clock-wise around the Isle of White following the original course of the America's Cup in 1851.
Ben Ainslie - Skipper & Helmsman
* Yesterday a mixed crew from both competing teams took USA-87 out for a shakedown sail in the middle of the Solent.
USA-87 is now liveried up in TEAMORIGIN's colours, including the significant Jaguar logo down the side. This is the first time the boat has sailed since the LV Trophy in Sardinia in May when it was damaged in a collision with USA-98. Today, Saturday, the same mixed crew will take USA-98 out for the same shakedown sail. This is the boat that BMW ORACLE will race next week and will be skippered by James Spithill the skipper of the America's Cup winning trimaran USA.
The full crews of both teams are arriving from all over the world in preparation for the practice racing on Monday. Some of the BMW ORACLE Racing crew are competing in the RC44 Regatta in Valencia which ends tomorrow. TEAMORIGIN skipper Ben Ainslie and his tactician and strategist Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson arrive today from Weymouth where they have preparing for the Sail for Gold Regatta which starts straight after the 1851 Cup next week. Most of the crews have raced in Cowes before, but not all, some have never been to Europe's largest regatta before - a regatta where over a thousand yachts will compete in some 30 odd classes over the next seven days.
Principal Race Officer for the 1851 Cup is none other than New Zealander Harold Bennett, the man who was also PRO for the incredible 33rd America's Cup Match in Valencia last February.
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Contender - European Championship
Final top ten:
1. Andrea Bonezzi, ITA, 17 points
Full results: www.srr-sailing.com
Get Onboard With the RNLI at Cowes Week
There'll be all sorts of opportunities for visitors and competitors to find out more about the RNLI's volunteer crews, take part in events and support the charity that saves lives at sea. Last year the volunteer RNLI crew at Cowes were kept busy during the regatta when around 900 yachts and 8,000 people took part in the week of races. Their inshore lifeboat launched six times to help competitors during the event, while other RNLI lifeboats around the Solent launched 10 times.
While RNLI lifeboat crews around the Isle of Wight are ready to go to the aid of competitors and spectators on the water, those watching the action on shore can also get involved with the charity.
Monday is charity day and, to celebrate, the volunteers from Cowes and Calshot RNLI lifeboat stations will be putting on a display of their life saving skills. Their demonstration will take place on the water just off The Green at 6.30pm.
After the demonstration, grab your friends and take part in beach-themed team games at Shepards Wharf in aid of the charity on Monday night. Have a bash at boules, limber up for limbo or rustle up some luck on the raffle and raise money for the RNLI - it's free to enter and the games kick off at 7pm.
If you miss the fun and games at Shepards Wharf, there's another opportunity to support the charity at the Cowes Week Crew Ball on Thursday night. It'll be held at the Events Centre in the Yacht Haven. A donation of £1 from every ticket goes to the RNLI and there will be some great prizes up for grabs in the raffle.
Celebrities, including Harry Potter actors Oliver and James Phelps and GMTV's Emma Crosby, will be racing for glory - and the RNLI - in the Artemis Challenge on Tuesday. The celebrities, teamed up with professional skipper Steve White, will compete with other Open 60 racing yachts to win a £10,000 charity prize fund.
RNLI Cowes Week Ambassadors, Olympic gold-medallist Shirley Robertson and trans-Atlantic sailor Hannah White, will be on hand throughout the week to promote the charity and talk about their own exploits on the water.
Elsewhere, look out for the RNLI's 'get your kit on' challenge around Cowes and find out what it's like to stand in the shoes (or yellow wellies) of the charity's volunteer crews. See if you can get changed into crew kit in record time.
Throughout the week visitors can also do some life saving shopping at the RNLI shop on the High Street, or talk to the charity's fundraisers and find out how to make regular donations to the charity that saves lives at sea.
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