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A Blaze Of Colour Against A Grey Sydney Sky
Photo by Carlo Borlenghi, carloborlenghi.com. Click on image for photo gallery.

Rolex Sydney Hobart Race day for the 66th Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet dawned cloudy and rainy for the 87 competing yachts. The grey weather added a bit of gloom and foreboding to what may be in store for the crews racing to the finish line in Hobart, 628-miles away. Outside the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, shipping containers were being loaded in the rain with spare sails and supplies for the yachts and their arrival in Hobart. One of the crew loading the containers with sail bags, Dean Barrett, said, "They have to sail light down to Tasmania, so a lot of yachts ship their extra gear down to Hobart and will pick it up there - assuming they make it." The forecast for the classic southerly "buster" includes a 24-hour period of potentially gear-breaking conditions

At this morning's final official weather briefing at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia - compulsory for every yacht entered in the race - Michael Logan, from the Bureau of Meteorology, provided a forecast for skippers and crews, noting that they should prepare for tricky and tough conditions. "We're still looking at those two wind changes," said Logan, "the initial Southerly which will come through this evening, and the further strengthening of those South-South-Westerly winds on Monday-which may fringe into gales."

Storm force winds could make the conditions even tougher considering that previous forecasts have predicted a confused sea state and big waves in the Tasman Sea, particularly in the Bass Strait. Due to its limited depth, the Bass Strait is notoriously rough and confused seas are often the norm.

By the race start at 1300 AEDT, the rain had stopped. A cannon shot started the renowned race of endurance, and as expected, it was the super maxi Wild Oats XI that shot out of Sydney Harbour with the winds blowing a breezy west-northwest at 10-12 knots. "It was a classic start," observed veteran sailing correspondent Roger McMillan, who is covering this year's race.

At the start, the 30-meter maxi Investec Loyal kept pace with Wild Oats XI by hugging close to shore. Rival maxi yacht Wild Thing was a close third. Later, that tactic proved to be ill advised as Investec Loyal dropped her position with the leader as they sailed out around the Sydney Heads.

The Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet includes six international entries from the USA, UK, Italy, France, as well as two partly-crewed Russian boats, and entries from seven of the eight Australian states and territories.

Race Tracker: Race enthusiasts can go to rolexsydneyhobart.com/yacht_tracker.asp for a real time tracker of yachts and their position.

Race website: www.rolexsydneyhobart.com

Australian Syndicate for the America's Cup
A syndicate of Australians including yachtsman Ludde Ingvall, skipper of the YuuZoo Big Boat Racing Team, has submitted a Notice of Challenge to the defending Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco. The Syndicate aims to bring together nationwide resources and skills in a true people's challenge. Lodging the application reserves a place for Australia to return to competition for the world's oldest international sporting trophy.

Ludde Ingvall: "Excellence in youth sailing is my objective. We want to bring home the many talented Australians sailing for other countries and give them a chance to compete for their country. We want to create a legacy for future generations, something to aspire to, a reason for any Australian youngster to get out there and take part in our wonderful sport of sailing at all levels."

Project manager Dario Valenza: "Bringing an event to Australia would rival Oprah's visit in tourism value as well as boosting Australia's marine industry."

Syndicate member and multi hull expert Peter Baker: "Australia has been the challenger at seven and the defender at one of the 33 America's Cup events so far and has sought to challenge on three other occasions. Australia has provided America's Cup teams worldwide with more members than any other nation in modern times. We want to bring them home. The last America's Cup was won for the USA by an Australian skipper on a boat designed by an Australian racing against another boat designed by an Australian for a Swiss team. Yet Australia has been out of the game for 13 years."

YuuZoo Co Founder Ron Creevey says: "We are delighted and excited about partnering with the Big Boat Racing Team to work on the feasibility for the Australian America's Cup entry. Personally I would like to call on other Australian corporations and individuals to get behind the idea and bring the America's Cup back to Australia. We have watched the cream of Australian talent such as James Spithill and Adam Beashel compete for many countries over the past 20 years and it will be extremely satisfying for YuuZoo to be involved by providing the platform for talented Australians to represent our country."

The Syndicate is seeking the advice of the sailing community through an Advisory Panel, seeking the support of the Australian public through a Supporters Club and the support of the Australian Government through both Sport and Tourism Authorities. "Most importantly we need the support of the whole Australian sailing community," said Ludde Ingvall.

* John Bertrand has been approached to advise an Australian syndicate interested in challenging for the 2013 trophy.

Bertrand, who became a national hero when he guided Australia II to a famous win in 1983, has revealed there are two syndicates considering taking part in sailing's ultimate race that will feature wingsail catamarans in a revamped format.

''There are various people endeavouring to pull a syndicate together and only time will tell,'' Bertrand told The Sun-Herald. ''The reality is these projects cost between $50 million and $100 million now. It's serious money to pull together a world-class team.'' Advertisement: Story continues below

Bertrand would not divulge names but confirmed interest from cashed-up businessmen. It is understood money from resources booms in Western Australia and northern Queensland could be used, although mining magnates Andrew ''Twiggy'' Forrest and Nathan Tinkler are not believed to be involved.

''One needs to find the right entrepreneurs who want to become global traders,'' Bertrand said. ''That's what the America's Cup represents. Some of these people are willing to put tens of millions of dollars into projects like this. -- Sydney Morning Herald, www.smh.com.au

Sail Faster And Smarter!
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Miami Grand Prix 2011 Cancelled
After very careful review, Premiere Racing has determined that it is in the best interest of the event and prospective competitors to have a one year hiatus with their Miami Grand Prix regatta.

Current entry registrations, coupled with less than optimistic projections, indicate that critical mass for the March regatta will not be achieved. Our hopes and expectations are that this event will resume in 2012. It will, however, require an early and concerted promotion and sponsorship procurement effort coupled with a turnaround in the racing sailors' willingness to again participate in travel regattas.

The Farr 40 class, one of the major Miami one design classes in past years, is unable to participate in 2011 with their World Championship in Sydney Australia next February. The J/105 class has made an effort to build interest, but projections suggest fewer than 5 entries, and IRC interest has been lacking.

The Melges 32 would constitute the largest class, but their numbers would likely have been off somewhat from recent years given their recent World Championship in San Francisco and an early winter class regatta in Ft Lauderdale.

The global economy and the ever-increasing pressure on leisure time appear to be impacting many boat owners' ability and/or willingness to travel to regattas. This has been borne out at any number of events across the country over the past couple of years.

Despite signs of a rebound in the economy, the sponsorship environment remains very difficult and the title sponsor position for the Miami regatta remains vacant for a second consecutive year. The business model for executing a remote event (Premiere Racing is located in Boston, MA) with no yacht club infrastructure or title sponsor, coupled with an undersized fleet, simply does not work.

While we regret having to make this announcement, it is not practical for Premiere Racing, nor is it in anyone's best interest to host an event that falls short of expectations from a competitive standpoint and the high standards that have been achieved at past Miami Grand Prix regattas. We will assess the wiliness of boat owners to travel, classes to engage, as well as the sponsor environment over the next 6-8 months before determining the future of the Miami Grand Prix in 2012 and beyond.

I would like to acknowledge the support from the Christofs' Miami Beach Marina, Tom Glassie's Avalon and South Seas Hotels and Dave Brennan's crack race management team, all three of which have been instrumental in the success of the Miami Grand Prix in past years. -- Peter S. Craig

BMW Retires from the America's Cup
At the end of the year BMW will bring to a close its longstanding partnership with ORACLE Racing and thereby end its involvement in the America's Cup. This is by mutual agreement of both partners. Both parties set ambitious goals and achieved the ultimate objective: winning the America's Cup.

BMW has partnered BMW ORACLE Racing since 2002. Technology and skills have transferred freely between the automaker and sailing team, most notably in the fields of structural engineering and high-modulus composite construction. The result was celebrated in the February when the yacht USA 17, the fastest yacht in the history of the America's Cup, won the 33rd Match with a resounding 2:0 victory off Valencia, Spain.

"On the design and engineering front, BMW engineers set new benchmarks in terms of intelligent lightweight design," said Ralf Hussmann, General Manager BMW Sports Marketing and Brand Cooperation. "In winning the 33rd America's Cup, we achieved all of our ambitious goals. We will continue to be involved in the sport on a national level."

"The America's Cup combines a technological challenge with a sporting one and success is measured by the result on the race course," added Russell Coutts CEO of BMW ORACLE Racing. "In that sense, both the team and BMW are proud that our collaboration resulted in victory."

bmworacleracing.com

Six Champions Meet In Langkawi
Click on image to enlarge.

Optimist Class Worlds In just a few days time the International Optimist Class Worlds will begin in Langkawi, Malaysia. This fabulous island venue will see a near record attendance of 235 sailors from as many as 56 countries. Many sailors have already arrived and are getting to know the sailing conditions in the race area, including the current, which can make this venue particularly challenging.

The attending sailors include Sinclair Jones (Peru) the reigning World Champion and the runner-up, Mohamad Faizal Norizan, on his home waters. Noppakao Poonpat, first girl last year in Brazil, will also be there, one of five sailors from Thailand. The Continental Champions from the North Americans (Christoper Williford USA), South Americans (Ignacio Varisco ARG), Oceanians (Nia Jerwood AUS), Africans (Imane Cherif Sahraoui ALG) and Asians (Kimberley Lim SIN) are hoping to add a Worlds title to their names.

This year we will feature interviews with the sailors and supporters as well as live tracking of the races. The Worlds mini-site is already up and running with photos of some of the teams taken before they arrived in Malaysia. Book mark the page and keep up to date with the action as it happens.

www.optiworld.org/MiniSite/

Shosholoza Will Not Take Part
An unknown outside South Africa, Captain Sarno became a household name in the sailing world when he built from scratch Shosholoza, the first ever America's Cup challenger from Africa. An Italian by birth but a fervent South African at heart, Captain Sarno showed the world what the new South Africa was able to do by entering the world's oldest sports trophy competition and managing to have a decent performance despite being absolute beginners with a relatively low budget.

Sarno spoke to the Italian newspaper "Quotidiano Nazionale" about Shosholoza, the America's Cup and why there won't be any South African entry in this edition:

What is happening? Do you ever get stopped by sailing fans that want to ask you about Shosholoza? Can you tell us what they tell you?

"Well, it happens much more often than I would have ever imagined. Shosholoza has remained alive in the minds of sailing fans because everybody could have been in the role of one of my guys. I'm asked whether we'll take part in the next America's Cup and I reply it will be very difficult. Many people want to know what my guys are doing and they are not surprised to learn that almost all of them went back to their original jobs."

And now, that everything seems to have changed with the new catamarans, what will happen to the dear old America's Cup?

"(The expression on Sarno's face becomes dark) It's not a beautiful thing… Larry Ellison has let Coutts do everything, and I think the result is absolutely catastrophic. Aside from the spectacular yachts they wanted to go too far with the evolution. The 90-foot yachts proposed by Alinghi would have provided the same spectacle and would have cost less."

Mascalzone Latino as Challenger of Record?

"Onorato has accepted too many of Russell Coutts' ideas. He offends the intelligence of all Italian sportsmen when he states, in agreement with Coutts, that costs have been reduced and then goes on to say that you need a budget of 80 million euros. By increasing the entry fee to one million and the performance bond to two, they wanted to restrict the number of possible participants. Team Origin and the Germans have stated that a challenge costs much more than the 25 million many have budgeted (including ourselves at Shosholoza). Even if one appreciates the sportsmanship, it seems ridiculous to me that a team has to go to New Zealand to do more or less a sailing course, in order to then think about beating the teachers. Everybody should know that in the previous edition, the French, the Germans, the Chinese and the Swedish had a real budget of 25 million, +39 was at around 20, the New Zealanders at 35 and ourselves at 17. You now need 3 million just to start and then go to New Zealand to train on the fixed-wing catamaran. In short, as stated by the organizers themselves, you need between 40 and 70 million for 3 years: Crazy in these times!"

From Valencia Sailing: valenciasailing.blogspot.com

Seahorse January 2011
What's in the Latest Edition Of Seahorse Magazine

Design - Something (quite) new
Leading French designer Marc Lombard has introduced plenty in the way of innovation over the years but his design style remains conservative

Seahorse build table - Kid sister
Another Lombard design, but in this case simpler, faster and designed for rather shorter distances

RORC news - Love is in the air
Eddie Warden Owen

Sailor of the Month
Making some major contributions...

If you haven't subscribed to Seahorse already we're keen to help you attend to that! - Please use the following promotional link and enjoy the hefty Scuttlebutt Europe discount... and it gets even better for 2 and 3 year subscriptions...

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A Quiet Storm
If there is one unsung heroine among the roster of skippers on the Barcelona World Race it is Michele Paret. The French sailor is on the cusp of starting her third circumnavigation after finishing third in the first edition of the race.

Paret has raced before on the Whitbread round the world race.

All her life she has been a competitor, previously a long jumper, then windsurfing and now still an accomplished mountain biker. Together with the Dominique Wavre they are back and together they are determined to at least match that result again is what is a bigger and more competitive fleet

People seem to know Dominique Wavre better than Michele Paret...why is that?

"By honours. Dominique will start his eighth round the world. And I don't believe there is anybody in this Barcelona World RACE with the same level of experience. On board there is a skipper of the boat and that is Dominique, he is head of the project. He is the one who has found the sponsor, and as his partner I am so privileged to sail with him. Every day I am learning things."

You have often said that on board you are not a couple, but two professionals? How does that line occur, how do you stop being a couple and become two sailing professionals?

"In fact that is very easy. It is our passion and our job. I believe that not only that, we are good professionals. When we are on board we combine to work together to achieve that extra hundredth of a knot, to advance by any small degree on our immediate rivals, and that is what motivates us individually and together. I would say that is almost incidental that we are a couple over these three months at sea. In fact it is almost like leaving aside that we are a couple because we have the advantage of the strength of our relationship, everything is easier. There are no frustrations with each other, no egos, those are reasons it is better as a couple, but without it being an issue, or part of the equation. During the race our focus is the race, that is focusing on going fast and the boat ahead."

Interview at www.barcelonaworldrace.org

Sargisons Jewellers & Natuzzi Launceston To Hobart Yacht Race
Tamar River yachts are set to again make a strong bid for top line and handicap honours in the Sargisons Jewellers & Natuzzi Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race that starts from Beauty Point today.

Six of the 33 entries are from the Tamar Yacht Club and the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club, including last year's winner Richard Fisher with his brand new Beneteau 45 Believe-Sundance Marine, from the Tamar Yacht Club.

The 285 nautical mile race starts off Inspection Head wharf at 3pm with fresh west to south-westerly winds expected to give the fleet a quick dash to Low Head, then an exciting spinnaker ride up the north-east coast to the notorious Banks Strait.

By race start time, the breeze is expected to have eased to less than 20 knots, but rough seas will still be running in Bass Strait.

Although Richard Fisher will not be able to repeat his overall win of last year because his new yacht arrived too late to receive an AMS rating (handicap) but instead will be competing in the PHS handicap division.

Another strong contender for line honours in Andrew Jones' Inglis 37 Advantedge while Nick Edmunds is returning to the race in his veteran Radford 14 Haphazard.

However, the leading line honours contenders are the Hobart yachts Mr Kite, Andrew Hunn's Cape/Barrett 40 which took line honours last year, Greg Prescott's Melges 32 2 Unlimited, and Justin Wells Ker 11.3 Dump Truck.

Making its L2H debut after a couple of impressive Sydney Hobart races is David Stephenson's custom-designed Frers 39 Matangi from the Tamar Yacht Club.

At the smaller end of the Tamar River contingent is Lawless, Stephen McElwee's 31-footer which has a second overall in a Sydney Hobart race to her credit.

McElwee, a three-times Australian champion in the Mirror dinghy class, has owned Lawless for five years and has contested a Sydney Hobart, but this is his first L2H with the boat. -- Peter Campbell

www.l2h.com.au

Featured Brokerage
Featured Brokerage Boat 1990 Wally Yachts, EUR 1,250,000 JUST REDUCED. Located in Italy.

This stunning fast-cruising sloop was the first revolutionary Wally creation and broke the sailing yacht mould when she was launched. She was arguably largely responsible for making the Wally name. She continues to turn heads wherever she goes, and her design has not dated at all in comparison with the Wally sailing yachts of more recent years, and when stepping on board it is impossible to tell that she is not just few years old.

Her current Owner bought her in 2004 and has spent more than 2m getting her into A1 condition. This included new paint, rig, decks, a new and more modern interior decor and upgradings of machinery and furniture too numerous to mention. He keeps a full crew year round and is fanatical about her upkeep.

A new addition to the Owners family forces a very regretful sale but offers a new owner an excellent opportunity to acquire an as-new boat for a fraction of the cost of building a new one.

Brokerage through Camper & Nicholsons International: www.yachtworld.com/campernicholsons/

Complete listing details and seller contact information at uk.yachtworld.com

The Last Word
I heard the bells on Christmas Day; their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the word repeat of peace on earth, good-will to men! -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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