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A Perfect Start For A Record Fleet
It was appropriate for the record fleet of 85 skippers who set off from Saint Malo this afternoon on the ninth edition of the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale that the send off proved nearly perfect in every way.
Given the choice a large proportion of the solo skippers spread across the five different classes, from the 105 feet long giants of the Ultime class, to the venerable 12m multis in the Rhum class, might have preferred a little more breeze than the gentle SE'ly which sent them on their way, answering the start gun off Saint Malo's Pointe du Grouin at 1302hrs.
But the light going was ideal for those feeling their way into the first few hours of what promises to be an engaging race, a complex weather situation marking the early strategic decisions on the classic 3542 miles passage from Saint Malo to Pointe-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe.
Through the morning for most spectators their race was always to secure the best possible viewing point to see the armada depart.
Cape Frehelis traditionally the best vantage point, where the first mark of the course - 18 miles after the start - compresses the fleet. More than 50,000 spectators mustered there, and an estimated six thousand more on the water in a huge variety of carefully marshalled craft.
With 8-11 knots of SE'ly wind, the start - when it came - was just brisk enough. As the gun went the huge fleet of spectator boats swarmed into action.
Franck Cammas on Groupama 3, the most powerful of the Ultime's - setting out for the first time on their first ever head to head showdown of the giants - forged steadily ahead of the pack in this nine boat class, as befits the holder of the Jules Verne crewed non stop around the world record.
The forecast for the following few days is not easy a small high pressure ridge Monday in advance of a front, then generally NW'ly F4 to F5 winds winds, heading W'ly during Monday afternoon with a swell of three metres, a first cold front Monday night continuing with W'ly headwinds Tuesday.
The general consensus is of a comparatively slow upwind race as the Azores high pressure area basically comprises two systems which seem to limit any obvious southerly routing option.
* I just took a call from Pete aboard the good ship DMS (isn't technology wonderful?). He is in good form and gave me a brief update.
Four hours out and the last of the support boats have gone but there are still a few news choppers overhead. The start was manic and, in typical Pete style, he held back and made a conservative start. This is a marathon not a sprint and there is no point ruining months of planning by having a crunch at the start line. With 'Barney' the big spinnaker flying, Pete quickly overtook three boats.
One of the support team, Colin Merry gave me this update:
"Alarm call at 0500 hrs this morning; but as Pete's minder last night I was up and about at 0400 hrs in order not to miss the wakeup call. Quick slurp of coffee then down to the boat. The rain was easing as we slid into the lock prior to being released to the sea. Even at this hour the lock sides were lined with waving cheering people! A lot of them looked as though they had been partying all night! Slipping out through the entrance we headed seaward greeted by a magnificent sunrise, a good omen we hoped. Several hours followed where Pete and Tom got the boat set up whilst I helmed. Normally not a problem for me, but this time it was different. I have never experienced so much responsibility, and it was getting more crowded by the minute. After nearly four hours and with twelve minutes to go we wished him well and jumped into the waiting rib...we were intent on following DMS for several miles and naturally we were surrounded by other 40's. After a studied start keeping clear of the mayhem that is a start line Pete broke out the fractional kite and settled into the race. With the wind easing it was not long before he went up a gear and raised the masthead kite. Before we broke off the chase he was overhauling a few boats and looked like he was thoroughly enjoying himself! So 3500 miles to go and a possible encounter with a hurricane (there is a cyclone winding itself up out the West Atlantic which has been upgraded to Hurricane ''Tomas)."
Pete Goss tells me that it has already become a tactical race with weather being the question: do they go South of the Azores or stay North? It is a big decision that weighs heavily as making the wrong one so early on could have catastrophic consequences. -- Stuart Elford
High Drama On The High Seas
Strong winds came in after yesterday's balmy 15 knots of breeze, clear blue skies and perfect conditions. Today the clouds were dark, the sea choppy and wind strengths increased to a steady 25 knots. On most days the Farr 30 enjoys a good blow and so do the crews, the upper wind strengths do not deter these steadfast boats.
Races one and two of the day were tucked away nicely by Courrier Dunkerque. Their crew handling, after many Tour de France a la Voiles meant that the variety of weather experienced this week had all been seen before.
Orca, Patrick Lindblom SWE, was the master of the first three races of the 9 race series, when winds were gentle and he admitted that these conditions favoured him. However, as the wind picked up over the next two days, he recorded 7th, 8th & 9th, which is respectable for someone racing in his first class event.
Nouvelle Caledonie, Bernard Malleret FRA, with Vincent Portugal, kept nudging Courrier Dunkerque by never dropping lower than 7th, but there were 10 points between these two boats with one race left to complete.
Unless Courrier Dunkerque followed the committee boat for an early bath, it was safe sailing for Daniel Souben. Alternative Helmsman has been Pierre-Loic Berthet, Farr 30 World Champion at La Trinite Sur Mer in 2005. -- Carole Abbott, Farr 30 International Secretary
Pending protests, the overall results are:
1. Courrier Dunkerque, Daniel Souben, FRA, 21 points
The 2011 World Championship will be held in the USA.
Get A Deal On The Racing Rules!
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Seahorse Sailor Of The Month
Piet Vroon (NED)
This month's nominees:
Eugeniy Neugodnikov (RUS)
Adrian Stead (GBR)
Seahorse Sailor of the Month is sponsored by Harken McLube, Dubarry & Musto. Who needs silverware, our prizes are usable!
Cast your vote, submit comments, even suggest a candidate for next month at
* Seahorse has a special six issue subscription offer for those who vote and/or comment on the Sailor of the Month... vote and see!
Transfusion Wins 2010 Pittwater Farr 40 Regatta
Sydney, Australia: Two days of racing on the Palm Beach circle off the iconic Palm Beach in Sydney's north has delivered the 2010 Pittwater Farr 40 regatta win to Guido Belgiorno Nettis' Transfusion. The fleet, which had two new teams lining up for this event, raced six races over the two days and the weather gods provided plenty of breeze and swell giving the six boat fleet a taste of what's to come over this season for the Farr 40's.
Joining the fleet from Sydney was Ivan Resnekov's Impi and from New Zealand Brett Neill's White Cloud. The fleet recently raced at Port Stephens and this regatta has again been utilised by teams in preparation for the 2011 Rolex Farr 40 Worlds being held in Sydney in February.
The entire regatta has given the teams an opportunity to gain valuable team time on the water and improve on crew work as they aim for the ultimate class title in 2011, the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship.
The next regatta on the 2010-2011 Australian Farr 40 circuit is the Middle Harbour SSORC regatta November 27-28. -- Sam Crichton
1. Transfusion, Guido Belgiorno Nettis, MHYC, 13 points
Corinthian Division Winner – Twin Edake Jeff Carter MHYC
ISAF Appoints International Jury for the 34th America's Cup
The 34th America's Cup Match is planned to be held in 2013, with lead up events commencing in 2011. A new class of boat, a 72 foot wing sail catamaran is currently being developed as is a new shorter race format.
The five-person International Jury will be:
David Tillett (AUS) Chairman
He has been a Jury Member at four Olympic Games, and Chairman in 2004 and 2008.
John Doerr (GBR)
He was a Jury member and Chief Umpire for the 29th and 33rd America's Cups and a Jury Member and Chief Umpire at the last four Olympic Games.
Josje Hofland (NED)
Josje has also been a member of the Jury in three Olympic Games.
Graham McKenzie (New Zealand)
He was a Jury member for the 32nd and 33rd America's Cup.
Bryan Willis (Great Britain)
He was a Jury member for the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games and Jury Chairman of the 2000 Olympic Games and also Jury Chairman for the last three Volvo Ocean Races.
24th Annual Bitter End Pro Am Regatta
Big Seas Force Six Yachts Out Of Lord Howe Island Race
While all but one boat has returned safely to ports on the New South Wales coast, and that boat has a long sail back from the front of the fleet, nothing has been heard from one yacht since the start on Saturday.
The 414 nautical mile race across the Tasman started on Saturday afternoon in a nor'easter that built to more than 30 knots, with 5-6m seas overnight, as the fleet pounded to windward.
Fleet leader The Stick, Rick Christian's 66-footer, pulled out last night after taking water through a stern gland, while the classic yawl Veolia Maris, skippered by Tiare Tomaszewski, retired after the crew failed to stem water coming through a hatch. "We are making no headway with the strong wind and big seas right on the nose," reported the skipper.
Late this morning, the new fleet leader Santana, Nick Johnston's 15m Lidgard/Dovell sloop, also retired and headed for Broken Bay. At the time, she was more than 150 nautical miles east of the Australian coastline but gave no reason for retiring from the race.
Also retired are Kerisma, Grant Dawson and Brent Lawson's Ker 11.3, apparently because of seasickness, She, Peter Rodgers' Olson 40 with a broken traveller, and Stampede, an Inglis 11.8 co-skippered by Rob Francis and Corinne Feldmann. She is reported to have reached Broken Bay.
As conditions eased tonight in the Tasman, positions reported at the 1803 'sked' place the Queensland yacht Ocean Affinity, Stewart Lewis' Martens 49 leading the fleet with 210 nautical miles still to sail.
With winds and seas easing but remaining 'on the nose', it is unlikely the first boats will reach Lord Howe Island until late Monday or early Tuesday after one of the toughest races in recent years. -- Peter Campbell
* Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race officials announced this morning that contact had been overnight with the Lake Macquarie yacht Frantic which had not reported in by radio or satellite tracker since the start of the race across the Tasman Sea on Saturday afternoon.
Although no radio communication has yet been made with the 11.9m Sayer-designed sloop, skippered by Michael Martin, the yacht and her crew are believed to be in good shape and still racing towards Lord Howe Island.
UK-Halsey Rules Quiz
The answers to all the quizzes were re-written for the rules changes by Rob Overton, who has been a member of the US Sailing Racing Rules Committee since 1993. Rob was one of five international rule writers who drafted the new Section C rules that took effect on January 1, 2009.
See the Rules Quiz page at www.ukhalsey.com/RulesQuiz/quiz_list.asp
You can buy the Quiz program for $55 or $100 for the program plus two of the best books written on the 2009-2012 Racing Rules - Understanding the Rules by Dave Perry and The Rules in Practice by Bryan Willis. Both are reviewed in our Rules Blog.
Tony Bullimore's 33m Catamaran Salvage Plans Go Ahead
"There wasn't that much wind - only about 15knots. We were sailing fast and close to the wind. We then had a big gust and because it's a multi hull, the apparent wind induces a much worse affect. So the boat powered up a lot very quickly. At the same time the windward hull came off a wave, which got the hull lifting out. The rudder stalled. We couldn't get the sheet off quickly enough so we couldn't depower the boat."
Currently the Dutch Navy has a warship standing by the upturned catamaran. The Dutch will stay until a tug and salvage team set out to recover the multi hull over the weekend. Then three of the original crew (presently drying out in Brest) can get out to attempt to recover the vessel. -- Barry Pickthall
Veolia Environnement and Roland Jourdain Extend Partnership to 2014
After six years' involvement in sailing, starting next year, Veolia Environnement will step aboard a trimaran. A change of steed but not course, as the Company and the Breton skipper are still intent on pursuing their partnership as part of a global environmental project.
The emergence of this new class of one-design boats for which the creators have made the deliberate choice to adopt an eco-citizen approach within the context of a global circuit has come at exactly the right time. Stève Ravussin who will skipper the one-design MOD 70 "ambassador" boat, Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia and the Gitana Team have already announced they will be taking part in the circuit. By adding his name to the list of committed teams, Roland Jourdain is signing up for a return to multihull ocean racing after ten years on monohulls.
Tall Ship Dismasts SW of Scilly
The sail training vessel Fryderyk Chopin lost its foremast about 100 miles (160km) south west of the Isles of Scilly. There are concerns her second mast could also be lost, Falmouth Coastguard said.
There have been no injuries reported among the 47 crew, which includes 36 sailing trainees, all aged 14.
Coastguards said the master of the vessel requested assistance at about 0800 BST after the 180ft (55m) long vessel lost the 120ft (37m) mast in southerly force nine gales.
A container ship, a bulk carrier and a large fishing vessel have all responded to an appeal for assistance from coastguards and are en route to the stricken square rigger.
A Royal Navy rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose is on standby on the Isles of Scilly to fly out to the vessel. -- Practical Boat Owner
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