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Wild Oats XI First Boat Home
What has been touted as one of the toughest Rolex Sydney Hobart Races in recent years, saw the first finisher arrive in Hobart early this evening. The 100-foot super maxi Wild Oats XI blazed up the Derwent River and crossed the finish line off Constitution Wharf at 2037 AEDT with an elapsed time of two days, seven hours, 37 minutes, 20 seconds -- since leaving Sydney Harbour at 1300 on 26 December, Boxing Day.

This year's 66th edition was one of Wild Oats Xl physically most difficult but also one of her more hard fought finishes, with sustained periods of headwinds along the way and crushing gale-force conditions through the notorious Bass Strait. In an interview as he stepped off the winning vessel, skipper Mark Richards said," "It was a tough race, no doubt about that. The boat Wild Oats, the boys, and the team did a fantastic job."

The Reichel-Pugh design was the provisional line honours winner pending the decision of the International Jury over a protest by the Race Committee regarding the use of her HF radio. The jury will convene Tuesday afternoon at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania to arrive at a decision.

After sailing a near perfect tactical race in extremely difficult conditions, with extremes ranging from a hair-removing 25-40 knot southerly and a mountainous seaway during the first night, race favourite Wild Oats XI didn't disappoint followers. This was Wild Oats XI fifth win after participating in six Rolex Sydney Hobart Races.

The remaining 70 boats in the Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet are spread across from the southeast corner of the NSW coast, across the Bass Strait down towards the finish in Hobart -- pushed along by a 20-knot north-northeasterly. The 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.

Next boat expected across the finish line is Sean Langman's 100-foot Investec Loyal at approximately 2230 tonight. However, breeze looks to be shutting down in the Derwent River, so their exact arrival is now anyone's guess.

In a phone interview earlier today, Investec Loyal's Sean Langman explained about his boats' troubles during the last two days, "The damage we sustained was to the reef lines earlier and some tack lines on the headsail which, running without a headsail, put us an hour back. Also, a fuel tank broke lose. These tanks carry so much fuel that you've got a quarter of a ton to manhandle which is difficult."

On the final race day, Langman and crew discovered flooding in a forward hold, "We didn't realize that we had a substantial leak in the bow and carried on with a ton and a half of water, which we only detected this morning. We have a watertight bulkhead up there and when we opened it, water came pouring out." Langman believed that the leak was not a puncture in the hull but due to loose deck fittings.

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

Official race website: www.rolexsydneyhobart.com

Vincenzo Onorato Replies to Salvatore Sarno
Salvatore Sarno, owner of Team Shosholoza, the first ever America's Cup challenger to come from Africa, stated in a recent interview in the Italian newspaper Quotidiano Nazionale that the 34th America's Cup was very expensive and as a result Shosholoza wouldn't be taking part. Vincenzo Onorato, owner of Mascalzone Latino, Challenger of Record, sent Quotidiano Nazionale a letter, replying to Captain Sarno's claims. (translation by Pierre Orphanidis):

"I take inspiration from the interview by Captain Sarno in your newspaper to provide my testimony on the current state of the America's Cup and the budgets the teams that will require in order to participate. Captain Sarno is obviously not informed about the latest changes in the Protocol, dating from December 12th, among which it is reported that the entry fee was lowered to US$ 100,000 instead of € 1 million. The performance bond instead of US$ 3 million dropped to US$ 1 million (200,000 by April 1, 2011 and 800,000 by December 31, 2011).

"The spirit with which we acted Russell and I was to dramatically reduce costs; the proof is that for the first time in the history of the Cup, during the first two years racing will be held on one-design yachts of 45 feet. This decision was also motivated to provide time for the teams to find sponsors and funding. I have never stated the minimum budget would be €€ 80 million. It is plausible Captain Sarno could do the next America's Cup with Shosholoza by spending € 17 million as he stated his budget was in the 32nd edition. This is certainly not a budget to win but the Captain Sarno has demonstrated he was able to achieve more than flattering results with limited resources.

"The heart of the problem is different: the world economic situation is very different from the ebullient financial markets that marked the 32nd edition. It is correct when Captain Sarno refers to "these times" as "crazy". For Russell and me this has resulted in filling, in reduced terms, the event and therefore the value of the sponsors' investments.

"I would also like to remind that Mascalzone Latino's position is not different from that of the other teams. We do not have any sponsors to date, although we have some important negotiations in progress, and it is our subjective interest (to be able to participate in the event) and objective as Challenger of Record (to have many teams in the race), to keep costs as low as possible. We at Mascalzone Latino declare in all honesty that we are struggling to survive. With the same clarity I would have preferred that important teams such as Team Origin and Shosholoza, instead of using pathetic excuses related to the event format, the catamaran revolution and the budgets, to name a few examples, they limited themselves with more dignity in declaring that at this moment they had no money and no prospects for a sponsor."

From Valencia Sailing:
valenciasailing.blogspot.com

Seahorse January 2010
What's in the Latest Edition Of Seahorse Magazine

Man at the centre
There is nobody in a better position to know what's really been going on in the America's Cup these last few years than three-time Cup winner GRANT  SIMMER, recent head of TeamOrigin

The real deal - Part I
CARL RYVES is one of the most iconic and widely-respected of Australia's many fine sailors... he was also a close confidant of the great Ben Lexcen. BLUE ROBINSON correctly reminded us that this story now needs telling...

Taken for granted
Easily overlooked... Italian engineer FRANCESCO PELIZZA explains the full gestation of a modern composite spar from initial concept to sea trial

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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Gutek Slowed by Autopilot Problems
Velux 5 Oceans skipper Zbigniew Gutkowski has been struck with problems with the autopilot onboard his Eco 60 yacht Operon Racing. The 36-year-old Polish solo sailor, known as Gutek, has struggled with the yacht's self steering equipment since problems developed early into the second ocean sprint of the singlehanded round the world race.

The faults have led to several unexpected and dangerous high-speed gybes which have in turn resulted in Operon Racing being knocked flat - the last thing a skipper wants to happen while trying to survive the Southern Ocean.

"Since Christmas Eve I have had a very serious problems with my self-steering gear and I can't fix it," Gutek said. "It just does its own thing whenever it wants. On the night of December 24th when I was sailing at full speed my boat made an unexpected gybe. As a result I found myself lying down in the middle of Southern Ocean with my sails glued to the water. The canting keel was in a maximum heel position for the tack I was sailing, so after a gybe it was working other way. In quite a short time I managed to change its position, as well as the position of backstays and sails, all of that while heeled over at 80 degrees. The boat finally returned to its proper position. It's a miracle I got out of this mess without any harm."

Before the problems onboard Operon Racing emerged, Gutek had been leading the fleet towards the finish line in Wellington after stealing the top spot from American skipper Brad Van Liew. However Gutek has since been overtaken by Brad at the midnight UTC trailed him by 113 nautical miles. He has also been passed by Canadian rival Derek Hatfield as he struggles to keep Operon Racing competitive.

It's not only the boat that has taken a beating – unable to put his trust in his yacht's autopilots, Gutek's confidence has also been knocked. "It happened a few days ago now but I still have no cure for this disease," he added. "I have lost all my confidence in the self-steering gear and for a first time I am anxious about my own life. I keep trying to sort this problem out, but I am really exhausted."

www.velux5oceans.com

* Velux 5 Oceans announces new sustainability award

Sustainability is at the heart of the Velux 5 Oceans so that's why we've restructured the race prizes to reward skippers who share our passion for all things green. The sustainability award is in line with the Velux 5 Oceans' own green scheme "Taking On The Elements" built around the idea that through sustainable practices at sea the skippers can educate and inspire people on land to change the way they live their lives.

Originally this award of €10,000 was to be determined according to power usage measurement to reward sustainable power generation and use onboard the Eco 60s. However, we decided that wasn't really in the spirit of the race and so instead the award will be judged on how the ocean racers communicate about their lives at sea in relation to key themes of sustainability identified by the race management.

The sustainability themes for each leg are as follows:
- Ocean sprint two: water
- Ocean sprint three: food
- Ocean sprint four: power
- Ocean sprint five: race environment

www.velux5oceans.com/#/taking-on-the-elements/1009

Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron Around The World Together
To defend his title won in the first edition of the Barcelona World Race, Jean-Pierre Dick will be able to count on Loick Peyron, who is making his return to the IMOCA circuit. The two men will form the most experienced duo when they line up at the start in Barcelona, and they know each other well after winning the 2005 Transat Jacques Vabre and working on the construction of two sisterships for the last Vendee Globe.

In your opinion, which is the most difficult? A solo or double-handed race around the world?

- J-P.D. : Both are obviously difficult, but not for the same reasons. When you're alone, there's an amazing psychological dimension, which complicates things, and that's what you find in the Vendee Globe. You have to battle against yourself, fight your own demons. When sailing double-handed, there is a dialogue between two human beings and the main difficulty is in how to resolve any problems in understanding each other.

- L.P : Physically, it is of course not as tough, when you're sailing double-handed. But taking into account the length of the race, managing two people involved in a joint effort is naturally a tricky affair. When you're alone on board, you can only blame yourself. When you're with someone else, you have to share the responsibility. The human factor is a vital element. But as I have often said, things usually work out fine between two people, who have been brought up correctly.

Is the Vendee Globe still your ultimate goal?

- J.-P. D. : That is indeed the main objective of this project for the next two years. It is thanks to all the coverage in this event that I found my sponsors. And personally, the Vendee Globe is the race which allowed me to enter the world of professional racing. I had dreamt of taking part and I was lucky to get a chance in 2004-2005 and 2008-2009. My next dream is to win it and it is with this goal in mind that I'll be there at the start in two years time in Les Sables-d'Olonne.

Loick, will you returning to the Vendee Globe?

- L.P. : It's always a possibility, but unfortunately, there comes a point when physically you just can't do it. Already, it's not that easy sailing double-handed and when you're sailing single-handed that complicates matters still further. I'm afraid that for physical reasons, I am going to have to say stop. Sailing around the world is not that complicated, but trying to win is much more difficult. For the moment, I don't feel like taking part if I am not fully motivated to win. The day will come when I'll be happy enough just to sail around the world for the pleasure of doing it and seeing the albatrosses, but I haven't yet reached that point.

From the Vendee Globe site:
www.vendeeglobe.org

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Travemuende Week To Host First 49er Youth Worlds
World Championships are always a highlight at the world's most beautiful sailing regatta. But a World Championship premiere is very special for Travemuende Week. The 122nd edition of Travemuende Week (22 to 31 July 2011) will be the venue of the first World Youth Championship of the 49er. The aim of this new idea in the sailing scene is to create a stronger bond of the juniors with the Olympic class.

With the under-23 age title matches, the President of the German 49er Class Association Heiko Thoelmann wants to gently lead the young sailors to the top. "Highly professional crews dictate the class on the top level. Some of them came from other Olympic classes before joining the 49er fleet. Young teams are struggling to successfully compete against these cracks. But it is essential to keep them in the fleet."

The German initiative for the World Youth Championships found the International Sailing Association's approval. The ISAF gave its okay to the project. Therefore the young sailors on the big skiff can compete against other sailors of their age. "There will be also some crews already sailing on the top level. But these are not too many, so that quite a few sailors, who normally stand in the second row, have chances for a good ranking", says Thoelmann. He is convinced that the format will continue after 2011. -- Andreas Kling

www.travemuender-woche.de

French Youth Sailors Make Waves In Miami
The cold (in the lower 40s) and wind (up to 15 with some gusts to 30) did not stop the 600+ Orange Bowl Regatta sailors in Miami. Biscayne Bay was covered with boats under the cloudless blue sky. Host Coral Reef Yacht Club's Reef Locker sold sweatshirts like they were hotcakes. Surviving well in the cold was a strong contingent of great youth sailors from France.

Although in the Optimist Red/Blue and White fleet, Conner Harding from New York was in the lead with fellow New Yorker Ty Ingram in second, France's Victor Migraine is in third place with three other French sailors in the top twenty including Clemence Berthez, Anabelle Sellame-Barrau and Alexandre Boite. On the 420 circle, Antoine Screve and Mac Agnese from CA and Fl respectively are winning; they are former Opti stars. Texans Forrest Short and Daniel Ron took second with Illinois' Clay Danly and Florida's Emily Vasiliou paired up for 3rd place. It was so cold and breezy on the Laser course that sailing became an extreme sport. Results are as follows: St. Pete's Brendan Shanahan is in first in Laser 4.7 followed by Dana van der Molen from the Netherlands and California's Kyle Larsen. Two guys from Florida are winning in the Full Rig Laser class with Eric Lawrence in 1st and Michael Zonnenberg in 2nd. In 3rd place is Trey Hartman from Texas.

The big Laser Radial class is another close race with Ft. Lauderdale's Erika Reineke in first, Michigan's Mitchell Kiss in second and Puerto Rico's Ramon Gonzalez in 3rd place. Michigan's Mitchell Kiss in second and M Laser Full rig Laser 4.7 and in the top three of Laser Radial. Miamian Loghlen Rickard leads the beginner Green Fleet, leading New York's Catherine Kerner and Paul De Souza from the Bahamas. In the Green Fleet, Sam Dreyfuss from Naples used his US Champion Sailor dad's old Opti sail number 395 to bring him good luck in his first Orange Bowl Regatta. Dad Peter Dreyfuss said that the pre-race excitement brought back fun memories of youth sailing.

Tomorrow's weather forecast will be a perfect Biscayne Bay with warmer winds and 12 to 15 knot winds. Sailing results can be found at www.coralreefyachtclub.org/index.cfm?menu=7560

Letters To The Editor -
Letters are limited to 350 words. No personal attacks are permitted. We do require your name but your email address will not be published without your permission.

* From Malcolm van Rooyen: The only reason the ISAF don't want to see wings is because they are protecting their little sail makers. If wings come in people can design and build their own wings and would take business away from the sail makers.

A similar fuss was made when KiteShip.com launched kites.

The ISAF are stuck in a rut of doing what they have always done in order not to change and develop with technology. It is just the sad state of affairs that sailing has got into and for this very reason a lot of people walk away or give up sailing because of archaic rules and regulations.

Fortunately they could not stop kite surfing which they now seem to have embraced but it did take a long time......

* From Peter Cook: Whatever is becoming of some of today's offshore sailors? - If we are to believe the following report from the Sydney-Hobart update in Scuttlebutt Europe #2249:

'Finally, this morning's most recent withdrawal was one of note, Andrew Saies' Two True, overall winner of last year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. The Beneteau First 40 was forced out due to engine issues, which prevented the crew from charging the batteries.'

This is a sailing race for Heaven's sake!

When did the lack of electrical power prevent a sailing yacht complete an offshore race?

I accept that electrical power is essential to enable electronic navigation gismos – aids to navigation, not means of navigation you understand - to operate but what is wrong with a magnetic steering compass, a paper chart, a pencil, a rubber, a pair of dividers, a parallel ruler, a set of tide tables, a hand-bearing compass and a reasonable accurate time piece? All essential seamanlike equipment in any vessel proceeding offshore however sophisticated its electronic aids.

In the relatively short hop from Sydney to Hobart, much of it coasting and not real ocean sailing, if you are without electric power you do not even have use a sextant but can rely on dead reckoning, estimated position and, most important of all, the MkI eyeball.

The mind boggles!

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The Last Word
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