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China Out, South Africa In
Less than a week after declaring that a team from China would contest the America's Cup, it appears that that syndicate has missed a critical deadline for the payment of their security bond and is thus not going to be allowed. "The check is in the mail doesn't really cut it in today's world of electronic transfers" said a representative of the Golden Gate Yacht Club on condition of anonymity, citing fears of retribution from Triad gangs in San Francisco. "The protocols established specific timelines for payments and other qualifications, and the Chinese have simply not come through."

"That should come as no surprise" said a senior World Match Racing Tour official also speaking off the record. "We had the same problem with the proposal from Qingdao's ministry of tourism with the proposed Qingdao Match Race last year. Lots of smiles, a nice little press conference, but then agreements that had been hashed out over months of negotiations suddenly had to be revisited, and, of course, none of the promised funds were forthcoming."

A prominent Italian AC syndicate investor mused that "this reminds me of a story about a prominent London consulting firm, who were called upon by an American client to analyze a business proposal in Russia in the early 90s... the consultant charged $40,000 and simply told the client 'Don't Do It'. That was the entire presentation. When questioned why a three word analysis would cost 40 grand, the consultant said 'heed my advice and that's ALL you'll lose from a business deal in Russia. Ignore it and you'll lose far more'. Sports organisers looking to China should tread carefully..."

* South Africa enters the 34th America's Cup.

An unknown source has revealed information regarding a SA entry into the 34th America's Cup. Funds in excess of R 70 million have been made available and a potential crew has been handpicked by team manager, Hans Handsalot, a former Dutch AC bowman with hands on experience in Four AC campaigns.

Helmsman to be, Shaun Ferry said he was delighted with the prospect of helming SA's entry in the CUP and looked forward to showing the world what made him into SA's most prolific Hobie Cat Sailor. Mainsheet trimmer would be Alex Simonis, as it is thought all of his multihull design experience will bring loads to the campaign. Looking after the bow, and only just pipping Jan Dekker, will be Rob Sharp, a relative newcomer to the Bow but brings in-depth knowledge to the campaign and will also look after the Media and PR requirements including pre and post Race cocktail parties.

They will base their campaign out of Knysna, where it is said that conditions are very similar to the Cup Venue. In an unprecedented coup, the team have secured Johnny Clegg as Shore Manager based on his round the world experience and is looking forward to the next gig in Valencia.

Goodbye San Francisco, Hello Valencia
Valencia Mayor Rita Barbera on hearing the news. Click on image to enlarge.

America's Cup San Francisco's final agreement to host the prestigious sailing races was negotiated between race organizers and outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom's administration and port officials in the final days of 2010. The agreement was materially changed from the version the Board of Supervisors had approved two weeks earlier, despite city officials' assurances that the agreement had not been fundamentally changed, the report by Budget and Legislative Analyst Harvey Rose said.

"We ratified a decent deal, but the proposal changed significantly by Dec. 31" said Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who commissioned the report. "The impact of those changes have been completely unknown until now, and those who negotiated on behalf of the city have some serious explaining to do. There were substantial increases in obligations and liabilities for the city."

Today, in a stunning development, the San Francisco City Council rejected the agreement and requested a new deal with Oracle Racing... who have just announced through their press officer that "we've had it with the flakes and whack-jobs running the City. These clowns make Rita Barbera and the entire Spanish government look like Rhodes Scholars. Larry [Ellison] is not about to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into an bottomless vortex of whinging and hand-wringing. We're headed back to Valencia..."

A surprised Ms. Barbera said "of course we welcome the America's Cup back to Valencia... and I'm sure that the recent strikes and work slowdowns by transportation workers, road maintenance workes, trash collectors, police, firefighters, doctors, teachers, airport tower controllers, railroad engineers, nurses, factory workers, airline pilots, daycare providers, shipping clerks, customs agents and waterworks engineers will be over well before the America's Cup comes to town."

Virbac-Paprec 3 Dismasted at Gibraltar
Loick Peyron, photo by Virbac Paprec 3. Click on image to enlarge.

Barcelona World Race In a stunning development in the Barcelona World Race, Virbac-Paprec 3, skippered by Loick Peyron and Jean-Pierre Dick, has dismasted at the straits of Gibraltar, just after passing the Pillars of Hercules. Both crewmen are unharmed, but had to cut the rig free and have little left to create a jury rig for the final 600 miles to go to the finish.

Jean-Pierre Dick: "I'm just shattered by this. We were so close, and we've led this race since day one. But we're not done yet. We've got a bit of a stump of mast, and a lot of line, I swear if we have to sail naked to Barcelona and use all our clothing as sails we'll do it."

Loick Peyron was a bit more philosophical in a live radio interview with race HQ: "F*****g bloody god**** piece of s*** f*****g spar. I can't wait to get back to port and find the as***** engineer who f*****g built this thing. F*** if I will lose this to those Spaniards, I'll put a painter in my teeth and f*****g tow this piece of s*** 600 miles. I'll tear up the f*****g deck and turn pieces of it into oars god**** it. There's nothing in the rulebook that says we have to finish under sail. And I may have found a loophole in the rules about using the engine. It states that we cannot use the engine to make forward progress. I'll put the f*****g thing in reverse and back this craptacular floating piece of s*** all the way to Barcelona...

Closing in on the beleagured Frenchmen are Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez aboard MAPFRE, now within 200 miles of the leader.

"Our hearts go out to our friends Jean-Pierre and Loick", said Martinez. "Xabi and I both talked this over this morning, and we're prepared to just drop anchor and let the deserving winners of this race get to Barcelona under jury rig.... NOT! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA.... Sweet revenge for Peninsular War of 1808, here's hoping that sawed-off frog Napoleon is turning in his grave. I've ALWAYS hated the French..."

Fernandez added "we'll be sure to sail right past them, literally and figuratively within spitting distance. I already know what I'll shout to them. It's from Monty Python... 'I fart in your general direction'.

Shingles Bank Sparks Isle Of Wight Ownership / Independence Claims
Isabella de Fortibus and advisor discussing domestic affairs. Click on image to enlarge.

Isabella de Fortibus "I've noted the squabbles between the Gurnard Sailing Club and the South West Shingles Yacht Club about some tiny scrap of tidal pebbles off the Needles and have decided it's time to put a stop to all this nonsense... and to stake my legal claim not just to that worthless bit of rubble, but to the sovereign state of the Isle of Wight, which I own." said the Right Honourable Beaurigard T. "Skruggs" McTavish, the Earl of Totland.

"I am the sole living descendant of Isabella de Fortibus who reportedly sold the Island to Edward I in 1293 on her deathbed. I have unassailable evidence that that sale is invalid. Her signature is nowhere on the documents, and the 'seal' pressed onto the deeds was done by a lefthanded person. Isabella was right handed. This was a post-mortem transaction. Hell of a trick, that."

Questions flew fast at the hastily convened press conference at the Royal Yacht Squadron. When queried how a Scotsman could be an Earl of Totland, a peerage that was discontinued hundreds of years ago, McTavish said "I got it the old fashioned way. I bought it. That scoundrel Conrad Black bought a peerage, and compared to him I'm bloody Mother Teresa. I got a great deal on it, too. A bit of a two for one deal with Father Michael Seed.. 50K for a Papal Knighthood and he said he'd toss in the peerage for free. A very nice young man, Tony Blair just thinks the world of him, and Tony's judgement is beyond repute. As is mine."

As to his ancestral descendancy claims, noted geneaologist Gustave Anjou, Jr. noted "Isabella was, to put it delicately, a bit of a thirteenth century party girl. Her wealth allowed her to purchase the services of what we'd call today 'boy toys'. It's well known that Scotsman have for centuries been rather extraordinarily well 'endowed', as it were, and Isabella had a number of young Scots brought to the IOW. It would be nearly impossible to determine without wildly expensive DNA testing, and an exhumation of whatever remains might be left in her tomb, to substantiate or invalidate the Earl's claim."

As for the financial repurcussions to the IOW economy should McTavish' claims be found valid: "I'm not going to make everyone on the Island pay me royalties for misappropriating my property for the last 900 years... I'll settle for RYS life membership and a nice berth for my new yacht. Oh, yes, and a new yacht. And as dear Isabella would have said... make it a big one.",_Countess_of_Devon

World Match Racing Tour's New Boat... A Trimaran!
The World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) has announced the final selection of the new boat bidding process... a 28 foot folding trimaran. The new boat was selected from a number of designs submitted after last fall's London press conference where WMRT affirmed that it was sticking with monohulls after the America's Cup boat was announced.

"We've just not had much support for monohulls" said WMRT CEO Jim O'Toole. "The whole world of sailing is now so supportive of multihull racing we just had to follow the wishes of our organisers and sailors."

One of the attractions of the new design is that it folds up to a minimum width that is highway legal for towing throughout Europe. "This will significantly lower the costs for new events", said WMRT's Craig Mitchell. "We will assign a boat, trailer and a car to each of our Tour Cardholders, and they will be responsible for transport to the events next year in France, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland .. and any new events. We will ship a fleet of boats via containers to Korea, Bermuda and Malaysia. This will give the Tour Cardholders a boat for practice between events, and save event promoters ALL boat costs. A win-win."

Another big change for 2012 is based on the tank testing of the new design... it won't tack without slowing to nearly a standstill. So all further courses will be strictly downwind zig-zags. "Broad reaching is SO much more fun than slogging upwind in some lead sled" said 2010 Tour Winner Ben Ainslie. "And the races will be over in a matter of minutes, so we can sail more of them. Thus avoiding the risk of running out of time for semi-finals and finals on the last day. We'll sail dozens of matches on any day we have wind and just get it done... "

Inaugural Teignmouth Electron Race This Summer
We've seen yacht racing combined with mountain climbing, snow skiing, even culinary arts... but the combination of solo single handed racing with literature, well, not since the discovery of Donald Crowhurst's diaries post-Golden Globe Race. Not until this summer, that is, when the Royal Totland Yacht Club's inaugural Teignmouth Electron Race takes place.

Open to any yacht and any yachtsman, the contest begins on the first of July and lasts 10 days. The Notice of Race is certainly unique... the race is open to any boat and any sailor (extra points will be alloted at the start for being woefully unprepared both in terms of the boat and skipper skills) and the sole requirements are to stay out of sight of land for the duration of the race, and to return with no less than 100 pages of written text.

"Personal musings, the great American novel, hundreds of new limericks, brilliant gibberish, all of it will be welcomed and examined by our distinguished literary board" said race organiser Robert Hendy-Freegard. "The winner will receive a publishing contract, sailing lessons and complimentary marine services for a year." Regrettably the organisers have had to ban the first entry, that of Bob Fisher. "He's too good a sailor and far too good a writer, we want amateurs, in the spirit of Donald... And Bob would probably just hide out in some French fogbank for 10 days drinking very expensive wine and then produce something he wrote a century ago" said Hendy-Freegard.

ISAF Olympic Events Selection Update
The 2011 ISAF Mid-Year Meeting in St Petersburg, Russia on May 4-8 will grant final approval on the list of events for the 2016 Olympic Games that was tentatively established at the 2010 ISAF Annual Conference held last November in Greece. Sailing is allocated ten events, and it is up to the ISAF member nations and ISAF committees to determine both the type of event, and the equipment (ie, boat type) that will be used in each event. The challenge of this assignment is in the process: what is good for the sport versus what is good for each country. Here is the provisional list agreed in November, but almost certain to be amended at the May meeting.

Event - Equipment
Men's board or kite board - To Be Determined
Women's board or kite board - TBD
Men's one person dinghy - Laser
Women's one person dinghy - Laser Radial
Men's 2nd one person dinghy - Finn
Men's skiff - 49er
Women's skiff - TBD
Women's keelboat - Elliott 6m
Mixed multihull - To be determined
Mixed two person dinghy (spinnaker) - 470

The next few weeks should be interesting as nations begin to disclose their positions, and then work behind the scenes to seek votes for their preferences. Submissions can be made either by National Authorities or International Class Associations with the latest submission announced by ISAF from the International America's Cup Class Association.

Their submission is for the multihull event only, proposing the use of the exciting new AC45 boats for use in the mixed multihull event. Up to 16 of these boats are currently being built in New Zealand by the America's Cup Race Management, the entity established to provide independent, professional, and neutral race management for AC34. The boats will be used to compete in the America's Cup World Series (ACWS) that will begin later this year. With the schedule for this series now finalised, the boats will be used for only brief periods during the year and the ACRM were looking at ways to generate more events for the AC45's and provide a stronger link between the Olympics and the America's Cup.

CEO of ACRM, Iain Murray continues: "Having competed in both the Olympic Games (Star 2008) and the Americas Cup (1983 & 87) I have been very keen to foster closer links between the world's two premier sailing events. We were also concious of the fact that the AC45's will only be lightly used as syndicates gradually move on to the larger AC72s and are looking for other avenues to use the boats. We see the use of the boats as a way of reducing the cost of countries to campaign at the Olympics as the boats are strict one design and would be managed by ACRM with a draw for boats similar to the way the Lasers are currently allocated at the Olympic Games. The way we see things developing is that crews will train initially on smaller boats such as the A Class which the current crop of AC sailors such as James Spithill are doing, and perhaps running an Extreme 40 campaign which has proven to be a huge success, and with strong commercial backing for these boats, the cost to MNAs for an Extreme 40 campaign should be cash flow posititive."

Jerome Pels, ISAF Secretary General commented "Everyone is excited about the prospect of seeing the AC45's competing off Copacaban Beach in 2016. Before releasing this submission we canvassed it amongst several MNA's both large and small, with almost universal agreement that this was indeed an exciting coming together of the two pinnacle events in sailing. We look forward to progressing the proposal with ACRM".

The Last Word
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