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It was something like a cliffhanger. When five-time Line Honours winner Wild Oats XI sailed into Hobart early last night at he finish of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, controversy shrouded her as she slipped into Hobart's Constitution Dock. A protest lodged against the boat by the event Race Committee, prior to the finish, left the outcome uncertain. But this afternoon, after the International Jury met to hear the facts, the protest was dismissed and Wild Oats XI was announced as the official Line Honours winner.
So, on a bluebird sky day in the pleasant port of Hobart the accolades and awards for the well-deserved supermaxi, and her crew, could finally get underway. With a pleasant northwest breeze blowing - in stark contrast to the howling gales the days preceding - Lord Mayor of Hobart, Rob Valentine welcomed the organizers, sponsors, and competitors and an enthusiastic crowd of race fans.
CYCA Commodore Garry Linacre and Patrick Boutellier of Rolex Australia presented Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards with the Tattersall's Cup and a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece for the win.
About the controversy of the protest, skipper Mark Richards said at this afternoon's award ceremony, "Since the 1998 Rolex Sydney Hobart, which was a tragic year, it was a clear indication that safety standards needed to be brought to a new level. The CYCA and the Race Committee have done an amazing job of lifting the standard to some of the highest in the world, which I think is an amazing achievement."
Richards continued, "As a result they have some pretty tough procedures that you must follow. It wasn't clear to them that we had followed them, but we did and we documented it well. Once we got to shore, and the race committee received all the necessary information, and they cleared us of the protest."
After an uncertain victory, Wild Oats XI is now the triumphant winner of five line honours wins for the classic Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Wild Oats XI holds the record for the most consecutive line honours wins - four - when she won in 2008.
Niklas Zennstrom's Rán was also protested by the Race Committee; but, at a subsequent hearing it was found that Rán had satisfied the requirements of the rule and the protest against the 72-foot mini maxi was dismissed.
Back on the race course, as of 1400, 14 boats had finished, 55 were still racing and 18 had retired including the latest, Andrew Corletto's 38-foot Shining Sea, which lost her rudder and was reportedly heading to St. Helens, Tasmania.
Still racing, but currently overall handicap leader is Darryl Hodgkinson's Beneteau 45, Victoire, which needs to finish by 0316 tomorrow (Dec 30) to maintain their position.
Race Tracker: Race enthusiasts can go to rolexsydneyhobart.com/yacht_tracker.asp for a real time tracker of yachts and their position.
Mr Kite Takes L2H Line Honours For Second Year
State-of-the-art yacht Mr Kite, skippered by prominent Hobart neuro-surgeon Andrew Hunn, has taken honours for the second year in succession in the Sargisons Jewellers & Natuzzi Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race.
Picking a light north-westerly breeze just before sunrise, after being becalmed, along with nearest rival 2 Unlimited, for two hours between Betsey Island and the Iron Pot at the entrance to the River Derwent, proved critical for Mr Kite.
"We had been becalmed for two hours when we got the light breeze and pulled away from 2 Unlimited," Hunn said as he berthed the Cape/Barrett-designed 40-footer at the Kings Pier marina shortly after 8am.
Mr Kite took more than two hours to sail up the Derwent from the Iron Pot to the finish, taking long tacks in the 6 knot northerly breeze. She finally crossed the finish line off Castray Esplanade at 08:03:13 with 2 Unlimited, the Melges 32 skippered by Greg Prescott, finishing at 08:27:37.
Mr Kite, one of the smallest yachts in Australia with a canting keel, has undergone extensive modifications by local naval architect Fred Barrett and is now the fastest 40-footer in Tasmania.
With the north-west freshening to 15 knots by mid-morning, Dump Truck Justin Wells) and the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club entry Advantedge (Andrew Jones) had close duel for third place in fleet with Dump truck finishing at 10:17:09 and Advantedge at 10:20:52.
Fifth to finish was Intrigue (David Calvert) which had improved its position in the fleet overnight, crossing the line at 11:06:05. She was followed by the Tamar Yacht Club entry, Believe-Sundance Marine, Richard Fisher's new Beneteau 45, at 11:44:02 and Nick Edmunds' Haphazard at 11:49:26.
AMS handicap honours at this stage favour 2 Unlimited to hold her time on the rest of the fleet. Intrigue failed by about half an hour to beat 2 Unlimited on corrected time. Their only threats are the small boats Lock on Wood, skippered by DSS Commodore Peter Geeves, and Footloose (Stewart Geeves and Kaye Roberts).
The overall winner is the first placed boat on AMS corrected time but IRC and PHS results are also being scored. -- Peter Campbell
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.
Alex Thomson Has Emergency Appendectomy
Alex Thomson's participation in his second Barcelona World Race was thrown into doubt this afternoon when it was revealed that the British skipper had undergone an emergency appendectomy this morning (Wednesday).
Thomson had been complaining off a niggling lower stomach pain during yesterday afternoon, and met with the race's medical officer Dr Frances Bonet of Barcelona's Teknon Clinic. After examination this morning he underwent a laproscopic appendectomy within two hours of being admitted.
" I think right now he has just undergone surgery with two days to the race and I think it is highly improbable he will be starting the race." Stewart Hosford CEO of Alex Thomson Racing:said when questioned if he thought Thomson would start the race.
Stewart Hosford, Alex Thomson Racing:
" This morning I took Alex to the Teknon Clinic here in Barcelona. He was in extremely good health but complaining of stomach. He was diagnosed by our medical friends at the clinic and surgery was performed. It is now complete. For me I would also like to say that we are very happy that it has happened now, today, and it did not happen in the middle of the ocean. That could have been very, very serious.
" Firstly we need to look at it together as a team, and secondly discuss it with the race direction and with Alex and myself and we make a decision. As the director of the team the decision rests with me. I think we are actually quite lucky with this scenario. We would rather it not had happened at all, but it is fortunate it did while he was here. And I think that if you start worrying about luck in this game then you are nowhere."
* With less than 48 hours before the start of the second edition of the Barcelona World Race, it was time for 27 of the 28 skippers representing the 14 teams to meet the media in a packed main Moll Barcelona World RACE Expo this afternoon.
The one missing skipper, Hugo Boss' Alex Thomson (GBR), it was later revealed was undergoing emergency surgery to remove his appendix.
Among those who are back for more, returning for their second participation are 2007 winner Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA) on Virbac-Paprec 3, Dominique Wavre (SUI) and Michèle Paret (FRA) on Mirabaud, all three echoing their passion for the race and enduring desire to come back and compete again.
Dominique Wavre,heading off for his eighth round the world circumnavigation, and placed third in the last edition of the Barcelona World RACE described the race as 'made to measure' for him and his partner Paret. She said that as soon as she finished the last race it was her dream to do it again.
He could wish for no better skipper by his side on Foncia than double Vendee Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux, but round the world rookie Francois Gabart (FRA) heading for his first ever big IMOCA Open 60 race admitted that the pre-start hubbub felt like pressure, but when the race starts Friday at 1300hrs 'life becomes much more simple.'
The course takes the fleet from west to east, sailing around Antarctica and leaving the three great Capes to port (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn), through two natural straits (Gibraltar and Cook) with seven security gates to keep the fleet north of the worst of the ice and within range of rescue in the south.
Technical stops are allowed in case of damage - before 140° East (entry to the Pacific Ocean), pit-stops may be of any duration. After this point, they can be no less than 48 hours.
The duo must remain unchanged from start to finish, except in the case of an evacuation for medical reasons, when they may be replaced by a substitute. The minimum age is 21 years (on December 31, 2010).
Routing, or external strategy assistance, is prohibited.
Brad Van Liew First Through Speed Gate In Velux 5 Oceans Sprint Two
Brad passed the longitude 50E on Monday marking the start of the timed run to 75E. The skipper who passes between these two longitudes in the shortest time is awarded three bonus points at the end of the sprint. Brad sailed out of the speed gate at 01:02 UTC on Wednesday December 29 after two days of high-octane Southern Ocean sailing. His passage automatically sets the time to beat, with race rivals Derek Hatfield and Zbigniew 'Gutek' Gutkowski chasing hard around 170 nautical miles behind.
"The big wind that came through a couple of days ago, 40 knots or so, was a big reminder for me," he said. "It's been eight years since I was down in the Southern Ocean and Le Pingouin is a much lighter, much different boat from my previous yachts. To be in that weather was a real reminder that I definitely need to stay focused on the weather, make sure I stay in the 25 to 30 knot area.
"The waves are huge, the air is cold and damp and it all creates a really harsh environment. Conditions can really get dangerous really quickly. It has reminded me that I need to respect the power of ocean and tread lightly, take good care of Le Pingouin and just inch our way along. It's amazing how you feel like you're so far off the edge of the planet and so distant from other people. It's fantastic and a wonderful thing to see and do but it quite intimidating."
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Alameda Mayor's Hail Mary
"The City of Alameda strongly supports San Francisco's efforts to secure the next competition and would welcome the opportunity to provide residential, warehouse and docking facilities to the sailing syndicates and spectators that will visit San Francisco to participate in the next America's Cup race.
The letter goes on to summarize the assets that Alameda offers to support San Francisco's bid, including:
Dock and Shore Space
The entire letter (PDF file) is available for download:
She indicates that Alameda is offering the facilities at Alameda Point in whatever capacity it need to assist the City of San Francisco and the GGYC, secure the bid to host AC34, they can incorporate into the ongoing redevelopment project at the old Naval Yard. The city control the leasing right to the facilities and is very flexible in short term or long term options. The facility can be readied easily by the time constraints needed to host the pre Cup events as well as the Cup itself.
Three Contenders in the Volvo Ocean Race
With three contenders in the 2011-12 edition of the race, Valencia-based Juan K is bidding for a third back-to-back win for his flourishing design company. His fiercely analytical approach, investigating every aspect of a rule, sometimes pushing boundaries or ideas no one else has considered, has - on occasion - attracted controversy.
"I think it comes with being innovative and taking a different approach," he mused, "but the situations we have had which have been considered controversies, were not ones we wished to happen, never wishing to force things.
"We have always sought to take the best out of a rule and that has led to clashes. There have been differences in the way of viewing rules, and their interpretation. This [controversy] has never been wished for, not part of a strategy, but an outcome."
When asked for a snapshot of grand prix sailing at this moment, Juan's answer is characteristically blunt. "There is a very evident discord at the top and people are very clearly at extremes, and people caught in the middle are, very clearly, not happy," he said. "The Cup has become very marketing-driven as one of the absolute pinnacle events, and the other pinnacle event, the Olympics, is also under pressure - the decisions being taken are extraordinary."
His view of the future is also less than sanguine. "I cannot foresee anything healthy at the top of the game. There is a very real danger of routes open for the very top professional sailors like Torben Grael, Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy, Robert Scheidt, a whole generation of top sailors, closing down as the professional world of sailing becomes more and more detached."
But back at the Volvo Ocean Race drawing board, it's not about just keeping the winning formula, as Juan Yacht Design continues to look for ground-breaking solutions to their equation.
"The job we have done this time is substantially bigger and better than with Ericsson, all the way across the board. Working with three teams has been great, with a constant and useful exchange of ideas between us and each of the teams, putting a lot of effort and investment into CFD," he revealed, "and if we are allowed to race the three boats as they are designed then they will be very, very difficult to beat."
Full interview at volvooceanrace.com
Interest Growing For 540-Mile Biscay Dash
Already 20 potential skippers have expressed an interest in the race.
Entries are open to mono and multi-hull yachts from 25 to 50ft to take the challenge from the Solent to the enchanting sailing town of Hondarribia in the heart of Basque country which stands on the south bank of the river Bidasoa, a natural frontier between France and Spain.
The race is organised by the Royal Southampton Yacht Club and backed by the leading investment house BNY Mellon, part of the Bank of New York, is the evolution of a long standing biennial double handed non-stop yacht race from the UK to northern Spain. The Royal Southampton pioneered two-handed racing in the UK 30 years ago, and is now recognised as the leading organiser of double handed races.
For the Biscay Challenge it is working with Club Nautico Hondarribia - Hondarribiako Itsaskari Baita, the sailing club of Hondarribia to handle organisation at the Spanish destination.
Full information is available at www.biscaychallenge.com
* From Eddie Mays: Peter Cook's note about the Sydney-Hobart race retirement because of failing batteries reminded me that some years ago, when I was Sailing Secretary at Hamble River S.C., I asked a well-known owner why he had retired from a Hamble Winter Series race when I had seen that he was having a good race with a sistership. He replied that the electrical supply had become faulty and the instrumentation was erratic.
I thought at the time how sad!
* From Jim Champ: I don't know what it is about the wings that causes people with no connection to the Moth class to disengage braincells completely. I've never owned a Moth, but I've shared a lot of events with the Moth class so I like to think I know something about them.
Soft sails are a damn sight easier to design and build yourself than hard wings, and I have friends who've done exactly that in development classes. Ultimately though the "life's too short" factor comes into play and if you value your time you end up getting the pros to do it because the amount you save isn't worth the effort you have to put in.
Rigid wings are a couple of orders of magnitude more difficult to design and build than soft sails, and would be far more the province of professional companies and those few amateurs who have the skills, money, time and perhaps most important of all space to construct them. Ever since Cogito won the LAC from Australia I've been thinking that I should build a little wing sail for the fun of it, probably to put on a Topper, but its never happened because I really don't have the space to construct something that delicate at home. I might just about be able to clear enough space for a small wing in the garage, but someone would end up tripping over it getting a bicyle out or something and game would be over. I also haven't figured out a way to transport one with the facilities *I* have without building some kind of box trailer as well, and whilst building the wing would be fun, building a dedicated trailer most definitely wouldn't be.
If the Moth class decides to permit rigid wings then that's their privilege, if they don't that's fine too. Remember if the Moths hadn't banned windsurfer type rigs then if there were still a Moth class it would be a species of board, and there would be no foilers and no rigid wings. Ultimately whatever they decide is completely their business, and none of ours. The Moth class has no responsibility to supply boat porn to the rest of the world until the next fad kicks in and they're out of fashion again. Remember how skiffs and multiple trapezes were the big thing a few years ago? Well right now trapeze boats are less popular in the UK than they have been since at least the 1960s.
* From Marc Gilligan Antoinette: I have sailed up and down the east coast of Australia many times on the relative comfort of a warship. Every year I watch and follow the Sydney-Hobart sailors and fleet, in awe, for every one of those sailors truely are legends. Peter Cook writes "In the relatively short hop from Sydney-Hobart, much of it coastal NOT REAL ocean racing". Bugger me,have I had it wrong all of these years! Well,I still think these guys are legends in one of the world's toughest ocean races.
G'day to everyone at North Sails Sydney!
1st Place Sidney Hobart 1997
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