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The Big Barcelona Test
It will be the biggest and most competitive fleet yet which will start the second edition of the Barcelona World Race at 1300hrs on the final day of 2010.

Light winds and a relatively benign Mediterranean stretch to the Straits of Gibraltar are expected to add to the early stress, putting the duos under immediate pressure. Potentially small tactical decisions and sail choices, which would otherwise be insignificant, are likely to define the typical gains to be made by the leader or leading group which breaks out into stronger winds of the Atlantic. Meanwhile any teams left behind on the departure from the Mediterranean might spend a long time trying to make good their early deficit.

Foncia and Virbac-Paprec 3 rank among most top picks. Foncia's Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA) and Francois Gabart (FRA) have the greatest age difference and have done only a basic mileage together but Desjoyeaux is a formidable force in his own right, while Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA) and Loick Peyron (FRA) represent considerable aggregate experience and have already won the 2005 Transat Jacques Vabre together. Both are new 2010 boats.

Jean Le Cam (FRA) and Bruno Garcia (ESP) have sailed few miles together, Garcia has minimal IMOCA Open 60 experience and has never raced in the Southern Ocean but Le Cam's experience is second to none in this fleet and they have a boat which is now well proven as competitive and relatively reliable in Président, the former Ecover 3.

In terms of hours on the water together in their IMOCA Open 60 and preparation time the Barcelona duo of Alex Pella (ESP) and Pepe Ribes (ESP) have been building up to this for 18 months with their FNOB backed and managed programme for Estrella Damm. Their 2007 boat is not of the latest generation but they know it well and it is well optimised. But in terms of time no one exceeds Dominique Wavre (ESP) and Michéle Paret (ESP) who finished third in the first Barcelona World Race.

In April they had not set foot in an IMOCA Open 60 but since then Spain's double Olympic medallists Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez have been through the most rigorous learning programme armed with Mapfre, formerly the Vendée Globe winning Foncia. They have sailed together for 11 years and possibly only the race's only real life couple Wavre and Paret know each other better.

www.barcelonaworldrace.org

Substitute Allowed For Alex Thomson
Wouter Verbraak (left) and Andy Meiklejohn. Photo by Christophe Launay, www.sealaunay.com. Click on image to enlarge.

Hugo Boss Alex Thomson will be able to be substituted for the start and join the Barcelona World RACE when he is declared medically fit

The participating skippers today agreed by an overwhelming majority to support the request of the Hugo Boss Sailing Team.

This morning the regatta direction of the Barcelona World RACE has received and has passed directly to the jury the request of Hugo Boss Sailing Team for a temporary substitution of its skipper Alex Thomson who had a surgical intervention yesterday to remove his appendix. This substitution would allow the boat Hugo Boss to start the race on Friday December 31st together with the rest of the fleet. The request included the permission for Alex Thomson, once he has received medical clearance, to board Hugo Boss and continue the race.

On the basis that there was no rule to which they could directly refer, as such a request is not directly covered by the Notice of Race, the International Jury referred the request to Regatta Organisation.

This Race Organisation decided to submit the request to the IMOCA Class for consultation, represented by all of the competing skippers. The skippers voted by an overwhelming majority to accept the request of the Hugo Boss team. In this way the British IMOCA Open 60 can make the start tomorrow December 31st.

* Today his team announced that substitute skipper Wouter Verbraak will sail yacht HUGO BOSS alongside Andy Meiklejohn for the first several days of the race until Alex Thomson has recovered enough to join the boat. Alex, who is expected to have made a full recovery within two weeks, is due to take the helm alongside Andy at the first opportunity once he has been passed fit.

Wouter Verbaak is one of Holland's most talented sailors and an expert navigator with over 10 years experience in offshore racing, including the 2008/09 Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) for Team Russia and Navigator in 2009 VOR for Delta Lloyd.

Stewart Hosford, Alex Thomson Racing Director, said: "We are delighted the team is able to start the race as planned, and we are very fortunate to have substitute skipper Wouter Verbaak stepping in for Alex. Wouter has worked with our team for some time and is well known and trusted by both Alex and Andy.

It is thanks to Alex's fast acting team and medical staff for ensuring his symptoms were diagnosed so quickly and an operation performed immediately. Had it not been detected and Alex had started the race, the consequences of this could well have been fatal. He is now recovering and whilst disappointed about not being at the start he is in good spirits as he looks forward to joining Andy as soon as possible.

www.alexthomsonracing.com

The Soggy Dollar Wins Wight Vodka's Favourite Yachting Bar Contest
Click on image to enlarge.

Soggy Dollar For the second year running, the crew at Wight Vodka partnered with Scuttlebutt Europe to run one of the most important contests the world over (in our humble opinion of course). We again asked the yachting fraternity to vote for their favourite bar, and we're thrilled to announce that Wight Vodka's 2010 'First in Class' Prize is awarded to the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands!

The Soggy Dollar won due to the thousands of votes cast by their faithful and enthusiastic patrons. This year's contest was very tight between the winner and the runners up, including the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, the Dog Watch in Stonington, Connecticut, the King & Queen in Hamble, UK, the Little Ship Club in London, the Bitter End in the BVI, the Candy Store in Newport, Rhode Island, Foxy's in the BVI, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and the Boatyard Bar & Grill in Annapolis, Maryland.

Ritu Manocha, owner of 50° North, the company behind Wight Vodka, said "What a complete blast to run this contest again! The Soggy Dollar won this year's competition and will receive a trophy and bottle of Wight to celebrate their win, as well as a few Wight Vodka regatta caps for their crew. If you find yourself in the BVI, we absolutely recommend that you make your way to the south coast of Jost Van Dyke and enjoy a few cocktails overlooking White Bay!"

Similar to last year, we again asked participants to comment about their favourite bar. We received thousands of fantastic entries, and this year's top list of your choicest comments are below for your reading pleasure.

- It was there that I was introduced to snorting Tequila by that infamous bowman, 'Dunny Brush.'
- You could find yourself glued to the bar-stool's cushioned pad as a result of the bar staff's good-natured and willing service.
- I grew up in the main bar learning how to drink.
- Being sailors it was far too boring to flip a coin, or draw a name out of the hat - it had to be a race. Where better place to start than from the Main Bar at the RHKYC on the blast of the Noonday Gun?
- Best place to be during a typhoon!
- Best pickup joint in Porto Cervo!
- Best buffalo milk around!
- High spring tides actually flood the bar.
- The rum and the fit bar maids!
- Even managed to have a bigger bar bill then my Dad (and he paid it).
- The Monday night mash-up is nuts!
- Oh…it's where I met both my husbands.

The birthplace of the Painkiller cocktail, the Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke, BVI derives its name from the yachtsmen & women who swim ashore to imbibe in food, drink and conversation, paying with wet dollar bills pulled from their pockets.

For information, please visit www.soggydollar.com

* And to keep the chill off (good for a cold, so I'm told....)

Though we prefer our Wight Vodka chilled and straight-up in a Wight Martini, if you find yourself on a yacht for long periods of time, the Limey Wight is both refreshing and prevents the onset of scurvy!

Ingredients:
2 shots of Wight Vodka
½ shot of Triple Sec
One lime
A tablespoon of sugar
Salt for the rim of the glass

Quarter the lime and muddle with the sugar in a cocktail shaker. Add Wight Vodka and Triple Sec and a few ice cubes. Shake like mad. Pour into a chilled glass (with a salted rim if preferred). You will love it…your crew will love it.

www.wightvodka.com

Seahorse Sailor Of The Month
This month's winner:

Augustus 'Gus' Miller (USA)
'We need more like Gus, he has done so much' - Cam Lewis; 'Still always there to help, I thought he was old in the 1970s!' - Brian Todd; 'An awesome sailor and a great man' - Freddy Loof; 'Watching him in 30kt in San Francisco... amazing, long overdue' - John Doerr; 'Even among the Finn legends Gus stands tall' - Fritz Mueller; 'A finer man cannot be found' - Joyce Andersen; 'Sailing out to the Gate and back for fun in 25kt, incredible' - Lauri Vinsalu.

This month's nominees:


Phil Robertson (NZL)
Oh gawd... here comes another one. Latest successful product of the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron match race programme, 23 year old Robertson defeated Ben Ainslie 3-1 in the semi-finals of the Australia Cup before going on to steamroller his way past Ian Williams in the final 3-0... coolly winning the third race by just one second after taking a penalty turn on the finish line. But Ainslie got his revenge in Malaysia


Ben Ainslie (GBR)
Somebody - probably former employer Grant Dalton - once said that to sail for your life you'd take Dean Barker... but to race for your life it will always be Ainslie. After a tough year in which his Cup team collapsed and he faced his first serious competition in the UK Finn fleet, Ainslie found the perfect outlet for his frustrations in winning the final Tour round in Malaysia to silence (foolish) critics and add one more world title to an incredible CV


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
sailor.seahorsemagazine.com/seahorse-sailor-of-the-month.html

* Seahorse has a special six issue subscription offer for those who vote and/or comment on the Sailor of the Month... vote and see!

29er World Championship
Mar del Plata, Argentina: The sailors have arrived in beautiful Mar del Plata, Argentina to contest the first World Championship for the 2011 sailing season. Twelve nations are represented with over 65 entries in what will be a highly competitive fleet.

Most of the competitors had a chance to stretch their legs on the waters where the Championship will be held first through the Argentine Nationals held earlier in December, followed by the South American Championship completed December 29. Two different teams emerged victorious with Francisco Cosentino and Tomas Wagmaister winning the Nationals and Juan Krevisky and Eduardo Lopez Segura emerging as the South American Champions.

Although current World Champions French sailors Kevin Fisher and Glenn Gouron are unable to attend, nine of the top twenty from the 2010 Worlds are here to contest the title. This includes Argentine Pepe Bettini who has competed in eight previous 29er Worlds and has finished second in the 2010, 2007 and 2003 Worlds; Pepe and crew Fernando Gwozdz are looking for a win in their home country with family and friends watching. Also in attendance are Americans Max Fraser and David Liebenberg who finished fifth in the 2010 Worlds followed by Argentines Nahuel Martinez and Axel Vugdelija. Another team to watch out for will be the Croatians Domagoj Fizulic and Leon Ostrez who finished second overall in the 2010 eight-event EuroCup.

The women's team of Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen from Denmark have won the top female team trophy the past two World Championships and finished top youth and female team at the 2010 Europeans. This pair has been training hard and have begun to move into the 29erXX event looking forward to the women's skiff being added to the 2016 Olympic Games.

Racing begins on Monday, January 3 with three days of the qualifying series followed by three days of the final series.

www.29erworlds.org

Wishing You A Breezy Holiday
Ullman Sails The Ullman Sails group would like to wish you, your family and your crew a very happy and safe holiday season. Whether we're covered in snow in Russia or enjoying the summer sun in Melbourne, our sail lofts worldwide provide the best customer service and the highest quality sails all year long. As you say goodbye to 2010 and prepare for a new year on the water, remember that Ullman Sails offers comprehensive sail services, including inventory evaluation, repairs and the latest in sail technology for both cruisers and racers. Happy holidays!

Invest in your performance.

www.ullmansails.com

Christophe Bullens Set to Restart Velux 5 Oceans Sprint Two
Tenacious solo sailor Christophe Bullens is set to restart sprint two of the VELUX 5 OCEANS after making yet more repairs to his yacht Five Oceans of Smiles too. It will be the third time the determined Belgian has set sail from Cape Town to start the 7,000 nautical mile sprint across the Southern Ocean to Wellington in New Zealand.

After a catalogue of problems in sprint one, Christophe had less than two weeks to prepare Five Oceans of Smiles too before ocean sprint two start day on December 16. Following a monumental effort to get his boat ready Christophe set sail with the rest of the fleet but was forced to turn round just over 24 hours into the leg with electrical problems.

Several days later the 49-year-old restarted the race but was again hit with technical problems, a broken mast track leaving him with little option other than to return to Cape Town once more. Showing an impressive and unfaltering resolve to fight on, Christophe is now expected to leave Cape Town in the early hours of Saturday, just over two weeks behind the rest of the fleet. He is around 3,000 nautical miles behind race leader Brad Van Liew.

Brad, Derek and Gutek have all now passed through the speed gate between longitudes 50E and 75E. Chris Stanmore-Major is set to enter the gate today. The skipper who passes between these two longitudes in the shortest time is awarded three bonus points at the end of the sprint.

Ocean sprint two positions at 06h00 UTC:

Skipper / distance to finish (nm) / distance to leader (nm) / distance covered in last 24 hours (nm) / average speed in last 24 hours (kts)

Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: 4092.4/ 0 / 139.2 / 5.8
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 4187.3 / 94.9 / 244.5/ 10.2
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 4189.2 / 96.8 / 228,4 / 9.5
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 4799.1 / 706.7/ 218.8 / 9.1
Christophe Bullens, Five Oceans of Smiles too: 6898.5 / 2806.1 / NA / NA

www.velux5oceans.com

All May Not Be Lost For San Francisco In Its Bid To Land The America's Cup
After looking like a lock to secure the 2013 boating race, Newport, Rhode Island entered the fray as a dark horse and appeared to be closing in on winning the bid.

Now with a Friday deadline looming to announce the next host of the tournament, officials from Newport say their city will not be ready.

The America's Cup Event Authority had said that it wanted to make an announcement on where the next tournament would be held by Dec. 31.

Newport officials say they are still working with race organizers despite not being able to meet the deadline. The East Coast city was home to the race from 1930 to 1983. -- www.nbcbayarea.com

Featured Brokerage
Featured Brokerage Boat 2005 Volvo 70. EUR 950,000. Located In Gosport, United Kingdom.

Ex 'ABN Amro One', the runaway winner of the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race and serious competitor in the 2008-09 race as much modified 'Delta Lloyd' is now for sale.

Very extensive inventory, sailwardrobe, 4 x container / workshops / portable sail loft and contents, cradle etc. available on request.

Brokerage through Nicolle Associates: www.findaboat.co.uk

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

The Last Word
Armageddon is not around the corner. This is only what the people of violence want us to believe. The complexity and diversity of the world is the hope for the future. -- Michael Palin

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