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Day 2 Act 2 Qingdao: High Drama
The Austrian Red Bull Extreme Sailing team thought they had snatched the overall lead from Emirates Team New Zealand in the final race only to find their victory in tatters after Dean Barker's team were given redress (a rare occasion on this circuit); the 11-boat close combat racing resulted in two collisions; and, to top it all, Roland Gaebler's Team Extreme won their first race of the season with the Mayor of Qingdao on board in the 5th man spot, to the delight of the public.

Six 'open water' races were raced today outside the breakwater of Fushan Bay. The breeze was a up and down but predominantly strong enough to see the Extreme 40 fleet flying their hulls - when it dropped, the teams had to deploy a different set of tactics to find an advantage which split the fleet on numerous occasions.

Dean Barker's team was consistently good and finished inside the top four in the first five races, winning the penultimate race. It looked like the Kiwi team would retain their overall lead... But in classic Extreme style, the script appeared to be rewritten in the final race of the day... Barker's team was called over the start line and Roman Hagara's team were off leading the race all the way to the finish line. Emirates Team New Zealand needed to finish in 6th place or higher to keep their lead and fought all the way from the back, climbing into 7th place at the finish. It looked like they had lost their overall lead to Red Bull Extreme Sailing. But post-racing video footage proved that Emirates Team New Zealand were not in fact over the line and redress upgraded the team to 4th place - the overall lead at the halfway stage remains with the Kiwi team for now.

Extreme Sailing Series Act 2 Qingdao
Current overall standings after Day 2 (14.4.11)

Position / Team / Skipper & crew / Points
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Dean Barker / Glenn Ashby / Jeremy Lomas / Richard Meacham, 98 points
2. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT), Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Will Howden / Craig Monk, 96
3. Alinghi (SUI), Tanguy Cariou / Yann Guichard / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey, 92
4. Luna Rossa (ITA), Max Sirena / Paul Campbell-James / Alister Richardson / Manuel Modena, 92
5. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec / Christophe Espagnon / Thierry Fouchier / Herve Cunningham, 84
6. The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Torvar Mirsky / Kyle Langford / Nick Hutton / Khamis Al Anbouri, 81
7. Artemis Racing (SWE), Santiago Lange / Rodney Ardern / Morgan Trubovich / Andy Fethers, 70
8. Team Extreme (EUR), Roland Gaebler / Bruno Dubois / Sebbe Godefroid / William Wu, 56
9. Niceforyou (ITA), Alberto Barovier / Mark Bulkeley / Daniele de Luca Simone de Mari, 54
10. Oman Air (OMA), Sidney Gavignet / Kinley Fowler / David Carr / Nasser Al Mashari, 54
11. Team GAC Pindar (GBR), Ian Williams / Brad Webb / Gilberto Nobili / Jono Macbeth, 18

Juan Merediz and Fran Palacio Retire From Barcelona World Race
Click on image to enlarge.

Central Lechera Asturiana has confirmed today that they have retired from the Barcelona World Race because of safety fears if they were to repair and carry on. The damage to the ring frame could be repaired by the team, the onset of Southern winter in the Pacific crossing and especially for a Cape Horn passage would be extremely tough and is considered much too risky.

Ten days ago Central Lechera Asturiana reported a damage to the ring frame which supports the engine box. The first reaction of Juan Merediz and Fran Palacio was to contact their management team and the sponsor to decide what to do. Both agreed that the best course of action was to head to New Zealand.

Meredizand Palacio today stated:"In this difficult moments is when we are most grateful for the support that Central Lechera Asturiana and our team always have given us. It is never easy to make decisions like this. But safety is the first requirement that we put together and the southern winter is upon us. That really is the fact which we cannot get round or ignore.

Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak have less than 1400 miles to go on Hugo Boss to and this midday are under 120 miles almost due west of Madeira. They are still sailing upwind in NE'ly breeze but the weather scenario for them and FMC is changing quite significantly. The dominant Azores high pressure is getting weaker and a cold front is pushing in from the west. That is entirely decaying the Portuguese trades and the trade winds all the way down to the Canaries . For Meiklejohn and Verbraak they will likely have another day to in the remnants of the trades then it will be lighter, and so at the moment they will carry on the same course just east of north, but maybe hitch north again if there is an opportunity. And then there is the little low pressure on the Moroccan coast which will give them something to get upwind all the way to Gibraltar but it will not be as easy as it previously looked and they are still four days from the Med.

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Banque Populaire Sponsor Armel Le Cleac'h in Next Vendee Globe
As the IMOCA Open 60 fleet finish the Barcelona World Race, attention is being focused on the next edition of the Vendee Globe. While several British skippers are finding the task of raising sponsorship difficult, French brands are investing in proven stars. The concept of the sailing 'super-team' which leverages sponsorship of the sport across multiple events and disciplines, seems to be working well for brands like French bank Banque Populaire.

The company, perhaps best known in recent years for its backing of the record breaking trimaran, has just announced that it will sponsor Armel Le Cleac'h in an IMOCA Open 60 for the next solo, round the world race.

Armel Le Cleac'h, the skipper of the Banque Populaire VI monohull said:

'I'm very pleased. It's a surprise for me to be joining Team Banque Populaire. They are one of the sailing world's top sponsors. I have just finished with one sponsor who had been with me for five years and I'm proud to have been chosen. With all the skills you find in this team and around this fleet of boats, I believe this is an ideal situation.'

My goals are clear. I will be taking part in a full programme leading up to the ultimate goal of the Vendee Globe 2012-2013. For the 2011 season, I shall be training to begin with from the start of June, before taking part in the Artemis Challenge and the Fastnet in August. In November, I shall be lining up at the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre for which I haven't yet chosen my co-skipper, even if I do have a good idea.

The long term commitment to the sport of sailing by sponsors such as Banque Populaire, Groupama, Telefonica, Hugo Boss and Fonica shows that there is real ROI from this kind of activity, and it should help others to raise campaign budgets.

Spain's Juan Vila Joins Esimit Europa 2's Crew
Gorizia, Italy: Less than three months before the start of the yacht's second season, Esimit Europa 2 yacht's team is pleased to announce the first exceptional new entry to their crew. Juan Vila, America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race winner, has just confirmed his presence as the navigator of the serial maxi class winner. Igor Simcic, Esimit Europa 2's owner, is confident that Juan Vila's experience and extraordinary sailing talent will significantly help in achieving this season's ambitious goals.

"I have been admiring Esimit Europa 2's performance, the outstanding crew and the unique project behind it for the whole previous season. Most definitely, the maxi holds one of the most impressive victory records in the history of sailing. I was honoured to receive Igor Simcic's invitation to join his excellent team and I will do my best to secure new victories for this inspiring European sailing project," said Juan Vila.

The 30-meters long maxi sails under the patronage of Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, and is sponsored by Gazprom. In its first season in 2010, the yacht imposed itself at all the attended regattas and won 11 consecutive race victories, providing 11 occasions for Europeans to cheer for their continent and to see the European flag climb upon the highest step of the podium.

Future Solo Sailing Star?
Congratulations to Sam Goodchild, who has been selected as the X Factor style winner of the Artemis Offshore Academy. The 21-year-old has been selected as the most promising all-round future solo racing prospect after more than six months of intensive racing and training.

Sam will go on to compete in the Solitaire du Figaro solo races in July, in a circuit which is traditionally a hothouse for some of the great French sailing talent.

He has worked as 'the nipper' for Miranda Merron on the Class 40 40 Degrees and for Mike Golding on his IMOCA 60 and they have high praise for Sam.

He was selected from a group of eight promising offshore sailors including Olympic medallist Simon Hiscocks and Route du Rhum class winner Phil Sharp and says: "No-one was a weak link. I don't think I'm particularly strong in any area, but I'm good at a variety of things and my sailing's pretty good - I won the sailing series by one point, which for us was the only gaugable thing."

Sam's ambition is to race in the Vendee Globe and perhaps one day to be the first Briton to win it. "Fully crewed sailing doesn't excite me overly; it's solo racing I want to do," he says.

After the Figaro racing this autumn he will, like all of Britain's solo sailors bar Alex Thomson, be looking for sponsorship. What you can say about Sam Goodchild is here's your chance to be involved with a popular up-and-coming star at the beginning of what will probably be a long career in the sport. -- Elaine Bunting in her blog:

Yet Another New Rules Quiz Posted
Click on image to enlarge.

Rules Quiz 30 has been posted to the UK-Halsey website as well as to the UK-Halsey Rules Quiz program. Owners of the UK-Halsey Rules Quiz program will see the words "Update Available" in the bottom right side of the opening screen. If you can't see the bottom of the program's window, drag the window to the center of your screen. The quiz covers when you can legally turn on your engine after finishing.

To see all 30 quizzes for free on the UK-Halsey website click here:

If you are using our free online animated rules quizzes, you should consider buying our rules program from our online store. The download program comes with:

- Animations that can be played full screen
- Our new 37-question multiple choice rules test that comes with detailed answers
- Seven instructional videos that show Butch Ulmer at seminar's teaching different aspects of the rules -- with more to be posted shortly.
- A rules blog that includes writers like Rob Overton (head of US Sailing's Rules committee)
- PDFs with rules related information that you can download
- And frequent free updates

Being a download, you can buy the program and get it almost immediately. Click here to see a short video about the program:

San Fernando Race
20 boats are in the final throes of preparation for the 2011 edition of the biennial San Fernando Race, which starts in front of Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club's Kellett Island clubhouse at 1210hrs on Wednesday 20 April.

Run under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club the race, at 464nm, is one of RHKYC's shorter Category 1 Offshore Races and is popular with owners testing their vessel offshore for the first time, particularly as it offers a tactical challenge paired with some exhilarating sailing.

In the IRC Racing Division, Geoff Hill's TP52, Strewth has been active on the Asian sailing scene for over four years. Flying in for the race, navigator Lindsay May is no stranger to the boat, or the South China Sea, and will be well prepared for the traditionally lumpy first night out.

Sam Chan's new TP52, FreeFire, will be embarking on her first Asian offshore and will be spicing up her usual crew with 'the Volvo five' - members of the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team who will be using the race for some valuable offshore training and team bonding. The five includes Jamie Boag and VOR veterans Ian Walker and Paul Wilcox, together with UAE Olympic sailor, Adil Khalid and Emirati sailor, Butti Al Mheiri.

While the TP52's will be battling it out for Line Honours and may possibly break the race record of 49h 55m 12s, set by 70' ULDB Sled, Ffree Fire in 2001, the Division offers them some stiff competition on corrected time, with Anthony Root's 2009 IRC Overall winner, Red Kite II, returning to defend her title, with Mark "Lefty" Findlay as navigator.

The IRC Racing "new girls", albeit with a wealth of offshore experience on board, include Nick Burns and Fred Kinmonth's Mills 40.5, EFG Bank Mandrake, Steve Ho's Millenium 45, Surfdude and Simon Powell's Archambault 40, Sell Side Dream.

Race events kick off with the San Fernando Charity Dinner on the evening of Friday 15 April, when participants will bid on a variety of auction items to raise funding for the Home of Loving Faithfulness orphanage, which has been supported by RHKYC through its San Fernando Foundation since 1987.

The First Swiss-Made IMOCA
The first Swiss-made IMOCA. Photo by Philippe Schiller / RIvacom. Click on image to enlarge.

Bernard Stamm's new boat answers to the project name of Rivages 2012. Designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian, the most recent IMOCA built for the next Vendee Globe has received the utmost attention as we have come to expect from Swiss precision builders.

Bertrand Cardis: "It's always a pleasure to see a boat leave the yard. Starting back in 1984, she is the 58th boat to be born here in Eclubens. Since we began, we have always been lucky and built some exceptional boats. If you're talking about ocean racers, we gained a lot of experience with boats at the time of the Whitbread, with in particular the ketch La Poste, which went on to be skippered by Eric Tabarly. Then we worked on multihulls, the Class America boat for Team Alinghi, the Decision 35s which relaunched racing on Lake Geneva, and there was also a solar boat, the Solar Impulseā€¦ It's great that now we've worked on an IMOCA, which is such a fine class, and in particular on a boat for Bernard Stamm, whom I've known practically since he was a small boy, so that adds to the emotional aspect."

What are the most important aspects involved in the construction of an IMOCA designed for the Vendee Globe?

B.C: When looking at solo ocean racing, you always need to look at the question of reliability and ease of handling. With this goal in mind, we built a full scale model of the cockpit to ensure that Bernard would feel at ease during manoeuvres, that the distance between the winches and the ability to handle her were adapted to his size and his way of sailing. We had to decide too how far to go in certain directions to avoid going too far and to keep her simple. Over the past year, the overall philosophy of the yard has been to end up with a boat, which can be sailed easily."

Programme for 2011

- 4th April: The boat came out of the Decision SA yard in Eclubens (Suisse) and was transported by road to La Ciotat (South coast of France) where her keel and mast will be fitted and the deck hardware put in place
- 9th May: launch and first sea trials
- 2nd July: start of the Europa Race (Istanbul-Barcelona-Brest-Hamburg-Cowes)
- 30th October: start of the Transat Jacques Vabre

Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race Favourites
The 308 n/ml Brisbane to Gladstone race will be run over the Easter Weekend and New South Wales yachts Lahana (Peter Millard) and the impressively fast Hooligan (Marcus Blackmore) are favoured to win a state of origin war on the water.

Lahana the former New Zealand owned 30m maxi Zana winner of the Club Marine Brisbane to Keppel race holds a decisive 10m waterline length over Queensland's defending line honours winner Black Jack which suggests her crew remain as the short priced pre-race favourite.

However the Peter Harburg owned and Mark Bradford skippered Black Jack has been secretly modified with a full wardrobe of high performance North sails.

As to be expected this line honours duel shows the promise to become a drag race with the smaller 20m Black Jack well prepared for a tactical arm wrestle.

A similar intense tactical struggle for class handicap honours will test the 47 yacht fleet where the Marcus Blackmore skippered Hooligan dominates the prerace call of the card to win the prestigious 63 yard old Courier Mail Cup by registering the fastest corrected course time.

Hooligan recognised as Australia's fastest 16m yacht has set the pace by winning major short course races in Victoria and New South Wales to have an edge over the smaller Mooloolaba sloop Audi Sunshine Coast Alegria IV skippered by dual Australian ocean racing champion Rod Jones. -- Ian Grant in;

Brisbane to Gladstone website

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 Paul Cayard: My dad has recently retrieved my first boat, an El Toro that he built for me in our garage in San Francisco, when I was 8 years old. The link takes you to an article written by Eric Simonsen and some great shots. The plan is for my dad to restore the boat to original and it will be presented to the National Sailing Hall of Fame Museum in Annapolis later this year where it will reside with other U.S. sailing memorabilia.

Very cool for my dad to reconnect with something that he built with his hands and his heart 43 years ago!

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The Last Word
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