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Semaine Olympique Francaise
Photo by Guillaume Durand / DPPI / FFV. Click on image for photo gallery.

SOF Hyeres Perfect conditions blessed the first day of competition in the Semaine Olympique Francaise, fourth event in the ISAF Sailing World Cup.

The easterly breeze ranging from 12 to 18 knots in the seven different racing areas, big waves and sun provided for excellent racing in Hyeres and saw many favourites taking the honours. ISAF Sailor of the Year, Tom Slingsby (AUS) took a rocket start with two bullets in the Laser. The Australian, renown for his breeze sailing skills has dominated the competition in one of the three Laser group. Simon Grotelueschen (GER) scores his best day ever in the Laser with two victories in his group. Good performance as well for Brazilian Bruno Fontes (BRA) who places third overall after two second.

World # 1 Marit Bouwmeester (NED) has also given the pace in the Laser radial with two victories. "That was great, stable winds, I love it. Perfect sailing conditions. Tomorrow we will need more patience as they expect a sea breeze."

The British Armada continues to dominate the Finn fleet. Ben Ainslie is continuing on his good form after winning both races in the breeze despite his preference for the lighter conditions. Giles Scott, Miami OCR champion took a race in his group and a second to place second in front of PJ Postma (NED) while Andrew Mills and Ed Wright are one point behind in fourth and fifth overall.

British team coach Matt Howard, is taking this first day philosophically: "You can't win the regatta on the first day, but you can lose it so in that respect it's a good start. We were strong today but it's all about the gold fleet racing towards the end of the week and there's a lot of points to be won and lost between now and then."

The Women's Match Racing Race Committee started the first matches at 10h00 and finished the 40th match of the day eight hours later! A beautiful day of very closely fought matches amongst the 24 teams from 18 countries.

The 24 teams are divided into three groups for the Stage One round robins. Seven teams are undefeated in their groups: Claire Leroy (FRA), Sally Barkow (USA), Silvia Roca (ESP), Ekaterina Skudina (RUS), Tamara Echegoyen (ESP), Lucy Macgregor (GBR), and Renee Groeneveld (NED).

Stage One will continue tomorrow. The top two teams from each group will move into the Gold Group and the next two will move into the Repechage Group. The Repechage Group will sail a round robin to determine who will join the Gold Group in the knock-out quarter-finals.

Racing will start early on Monday for the second day of the competition. The race committee has decided to make the most of the remains of the easterly wind before the sea breeze, expected later in the day, come and upset the schedule. -- Corinne Rolland-McKenzie

sof.ffvoile.net (site in both French and English)

Forum Maritim Catala Finishes In Eighth Place
Saturday at 21 hours, 17 minutes and 24 seconds, Gerard Marin (29 years old) and Ludovic Aglaor (44 years old) crossed the finishing line of the Barcelona World Race and were the eighth crew to complete the regatta.

Forum Maritim Catala took 112 days, 07 hours, 17 minutes and 24 seconds to complete the course, of some 25,200 miles, theoretically, at an average speed of 9.35 knots. In actual fact, the skippers sailed 28,662 miles, at an average speed of 10.63 knots.

This was the first double-handed round the world regatta both for Gerard Marin and Ludovic Aglaor. The Catalan skipper has also become the youngest skipper in this edition of the regatta to complete the course. This is the second circumnavigation of the globe for Ludovic.

Gerard Marin, 29 and from the town of Figueras, Spain and Breton skipper Ludovic Aglaor both said how touched they were by the number of people out to meet them as they came in to Portal de la Pau.

The Catalan skipper, Marin, recognized the "big jump" he has made from sailing in a Mini to stepping up onto an IMOCA Open 60 and from solo to sailing with another skipper:"The jump from Mini to IMOCA is a tricky one. They are two completely different worlds. The Mini is more permissive, it lets you make more mistakes, whereas here mistakes come with a hefty cost.

Breakages are different. Sailing double-handed is also a big change. I did exactly as I pleased on the Mini and here you have to share the experience and give and take where necessary".

Forum Maritim Catala is the former Kingfisher, known later as Educacion Sin Fronteras with which Albert Bargues and Servane Escoffier completed the first edition of the Barcelona World Race, finishing in fifth place. In early 2010 the boat was totally overhauled and refitted with the latest IMOCA class innovations. It is an Owen-Clarke Design Studio model, built in 2000 in New Zealand, which Dame Ellen MacArthur skippered to victory in the EDS Challenge 2001 and the Route du Rhum 2002, finishing second in the Vendee Globe 2000-2001.

www.barcelonaworldrace.org

CSM Claims Third in Velux 5 Oceans Sprint Four
Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez, w-w-i.com. Click on image for photo gallery.

Velux 5 Oceans They say that in yacht racing it is never over until man and boat are safely across the line - and that was certainly the case for Chris Stanmore-Major today as he was struck by a violent thunder storm just 15 miles from the finish line of ocean sprint four.

After making frustratingly slow progress over the final days the finish line was finally in sight - but just as the sun was going down over Charleston, USA, the 33-year-old British ocean racer found himself battling a 45-knot squall and was forced to turn his Eco 60 yacht Spartan round and head back to sea.

By nightfall the storm passed through and Chris, known better as CSM, was able to return to his course and finish ocean sprint four at 2145 EST (0145 UTC), claiming the final podium position. He completed the leg in 25 days, 9 hours and 45 minutes, around 36 hours behind second-placed Derek Hatfield. It is the second time CSM has finished on the podium after also claiming third in ocean sprint three.

Since starting the sprint from Punta del Este in Uruguay on March 27 CSM sailed 6,043 at an average of 9.9 knots.

"I think this boat is quickest when we are reaching in heavy weather and hopefully that's what we will get with this next Atlantic crossing," CSM added. "When we crack off the breeze a bit that's when Spartan really trucks. If this final leg is windy I will give Brad a run for his money for sure!"

Positions at 0000 UTC

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

Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: Finished 19.04.11 in 23 days 4 hours and 58 minutes
Derek Hatfield, Active House: Finished 20.04.11 in 23 days 19 hours and 36 minutes
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: Finished 21.04.11 in 25 days 9 hours and 45 minutes
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 3175 / 0 / NA / NA

www.velux5oceans.com

Dubarry Crosshaven

Dubarry Crosshaven - The Best Gets Better
Click on image to enlarge.

You'd have to go around the world to find a better boot than Dubarry's Ultima or Shamrock - so they did. Green Dragon's raced round the world in Dubarry boots and their Southern Ocean feedback helped to create the world's best offshore boot. Top of the Dragons' list was a waterproof built-in gaiter with top draw-cord to make sure your foredeck forays don't result in a bootful of briney. They're warmer too, lined with GORE-TEX® Duratherm waterproof insulation, heel and toe reinforcement and a new super-supportive footbed inspired by Formula 1 technology.

Dubarry Crosshaven - boots born in the Southern Ocean.

www.dubarry.com

Summer-Like Finale for RORC Easter Challenge
Photo by Tom Gruitt / www.pwpictures.com. Click on image for photo gallery.

RORC Easter Challenge A RORC Easter Challenge where competitors not only head home wiser after three days of coaching, but also with suntans...so the July-like conditions continued for Easter Sunday, the final day of competition.

Racing got underway in the morning with just enough northwesterly gradient coming out of Southampton Water for the race committee to set courses to the north of Ryde Sands. The first race was held in 5-10 knots while in the second, the breeze dropped off after the second start.

Despite a protest over their start in today's second race that might have cost them the top spot, Rob Gray and Sam Laidlaw's Farr 52, Bob, won IRC 1 by a comfortable four points, the biggest boat in the RORC Easter Challenge fleet benefitting from clear air in the light winds.

In IRC 2, RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine was in his stride, scoring two wins aboard his First 40, La Reponse. This left him tied in first with Andrew Williams' Prima 38, Max 'Ed Out! which won having one more bullet.

The scorers also had to resort to countback in IRC3 where Chris and Hannah Neve's First 35, No Chance, was pipped at the post by Louise Morton's MAT 1010, which had two wins today to gain the all-female crew (apart from Volvo Ocean Race winner navigator Jules Salter) the overall prize on countback.

No Chance's tactician Phil Lawrence, grumbling that his match racer daughter Charlotte aboard MAT 1010 had beaten him, said that in the second race their chances were scuppered when they got gassed by the J/109, Toe in the Water, led by round the world sailing legend, Brian Thompson. "There was much less breeze and we are not so quick in that and Toe In the Water, which has been sailed really well, got past us and dropped us back into the pack. We could just never catch them."

The regatta's only run-away leader was Grant Gordon's J/97 Fever. She finished 16 points ahead of Robert Baker's X-332, Brightwork, despite losing today's final race to Alistair Evans' immaculate Swan 37, Alvine XV, winner of the Prix d'Elegance (as chosen by the ladies on the committee boat). -- James Boyd

Full results on www.rorc.org

MAPFRE Palmavela 2011
Photo by Maria Muina, www.mariaphotos.com. Click on image for photo gallery.

Palma Vela One of Europe's most scenic events came to an end today in the bay of Palma after four days of racing which delivered very different wind patterns and great conditions throughout the whole contest. In a good northeasterly breeze of 18 to 22 knots, the Mapfre PalmaVela regatta set up two coastal courses of 14,8 miles for the Maxis and Maxi Wally and 12,3 for the Vintage and Classic, whereas the rest of the classes completed windward-leeward races.

The honours in the TP52 class went to Guillermo Parada on Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, followed by Nikklas Zentrömm's RaN which was second, and Bribon which was third. RaN managed to win today's first race after a good start on the pin end, whereas Audi Azzurra Sailing Team was second and Bribon was third. The second race was won by Azzurra thus clinching the TP25 trophy, followed by RaN and Bribon. The Swedish boat showed a great performance in Palma and will be one of the contenders to take into account in the upcoming Audi MedCup Circuit due to start on May 16th in Cascais.

Italian Inti claimed first place in the Maxi Wally class after winning today's coastal race. Second was YK3, and also British Magic Carpet 2 dropped from being second to third. Open Season could have been second but a protest won by Magic Carpet 2 pushed her down to sixth place. With an almost perfect score of five bullets and a second place, Andrés Soriano's Alegre dominantly won the Maxi classification. Monaco flagged Highland Flying XI of Irvine Laidlaw crossed the finish line first today thus being second in the overall scoring, whereas British Jethou of Sir Peter Odgen was third.

J80 heavy weight Carlos Martínez's Mapfre signed a dominant win in the one design class for the third consecutive year. Two bullets and a second place in today's three races gave the Spanish team a fifteen point advantage upon Bufete Frau Abogados, which moved up to second after a third and two fourth places today. Third was Nextel Engineering of Ignacio "Trucha" Camino.

The trophy in the Vintage class went to Albert Kusak's Enterprise after crossing today's 12,3 miles coastal finish line first. Second was Moonbeam IV skippered by Mikaël Creac'h and third was Tim Liesenhoff's Marigan. Winner of the Classic class was Merengue IV of Xisco Pou, followed by Margarita Estalindalamar of Anton de Llano and Miguel Rigo's Freda.

Five bullets gave Pace the honours in the IRC class after four races and a tight fight with Fernando Leon's CAM in today's first contest where they crossed the finish line together. Third was S.Y. Ace of Fred Stelle.

www.palmavela.com

Hooligan Wins Another Major
Former Queenslander Marcus Blackmore fulfilled a lifetime ambition when he steered the exciting TP52 Hooligan to victory in the 2011 QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone race. Hooligan was cleverly sailed completing the testing 308 n/ml race in 1 day 8 hours 52 minutes 31 seconds at an average speed of 9.37 knots.

The speed sailing performance ultimately allowed both skipper and crew to retain a perfect score from major events in Victoria and, New South Wales before outpacing the fleet to win Queensland's major blue water classic over the Easter weekend.

Skipper Marcus Blackmore was impressed with the result explaining his re-entry into major class offshore races has been well planned.

However the successful skipper spent some anxious moments pacing the dock earlier today as he monitored the progress of the 1964 race winner Pagan who posed a threat when the trade winds propelled her on a wave riding spinnaker sail across the top of Hervey Bay. But Pagan ran out of time leaving the Hooligan crew to claim a popular win.

Peter Millard and John Honan signalled their former New Zealand maxi Lahana was on the pace when they claimed an impressive line honours win in the 63rd QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone race over the Easter Weekend.

The Lahana crew overcame a slow start in fickle and shifting winds to express her exciting speed potential to answer the challenge from their major rival Black Jack and complete the tactically demanding 308n/ml race in 27 hours 13 minutes 14 seconds.

Lahana sealed the victory during the first night at sea building a surprising 17 n/ml lead over the Mark Bradford skippered defending champion Black Jack while overall IRC handicap race favourite the Marcus Blackmore helmed TP 52 Hooligan held third continuing to firm a grip on another major trophy. -- Ian Grant

www.brisbanetogladstone.com.au

The Desire For Lightweight, Breathable Clothing Continues To Grow
Camet To meet these needs, CAMET International has introduced a new line of sportswear to satisfy it's sports-minded and outdoor enthusiast customers. The collection offers an array of possibilities from highly technical products that scream "performance", to lightweight, wrinkle-free products for on-the-water and off-the-water activities. We look for fabrics that move perspiration away from the body, dry quickly, and are wrinkle-resistant; characteristics sought by adventurers and sailors alike.

The technical products not only serve a purpose, they are also very fashionable. With solid color schemes, Hawaiian prints, and multi-functional designs.

Check them out at www.camet.com

San Fernando Race - Freefire Takes Line Honours
In the early hours of this morning, after nearly 62 hours of racing, Sam Chan's TP52, FreeFire crossed the finish line in San Fernando to take Line Honours in the 2011 San Fernando Race, organised by Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and run under the auspices of RORC.

Having faced the full range of South China Sea racing conditions, skipper Ian Walker of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing was happy with the team's performance;

"it was a race of two halves, upwind and very lumpy to start with, which was tough on the crew as I had them on the rail all the time. The second half was sailed in much easier conditions and overall the race was a very productive and useful experience for ADOR."

FreeFire was under constant pressure, giving time to Geoff Hill's TP52 Strewth, which was never more than 10nm behind. Strewth finished 75 minutes after FreeFire, and 50 minutes adrift on corrected time, with Hill enthusing that "it was classic 'San Fernando Race', ideal for the TP52's apart from parking up for six hours. The first night was very bumpy with confused seas and blowing 20-25 knots, but last night was great offshore sailing, spinnaker reaching under a red moon. The boat performed really well, we're using this as a qualifier for the 'Hobart."

As the TP52 crews unwind in San Fernando, the rest of the fleet is making good progress, however only Anthony Root's Archambault 35, Red Kite II, looks to have a realistic shot of taking IRC Overall from FreeFire's grasp. With a current ETA of 2018hrs, if she finishes before 2156hrs tonight, she will repeat her 2009 achievement of 1st IRC Overall.

All the competitors are fitted with a Yellowbrick tracking device, and race fans can watch the action unfold live online at live.adventuretracking.com/hksf2011

www.rhkyc.org.hk/sanfernandorace.htm

Blue Sunday
Photo by Tim Wright, www.photoaction.com. Click on image for photo gallery.

Antigua Sailing Week Fantastic sailing conditions marked the start of the 44th Antigua Sailing Week with clear blue skies echoed in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. A breeze of 15 knots from the east gave a gentle start to the regatta.

Eduardo Perez-Bengochea's Gunboat 62, CucuBelle won the first battle of the big catfight in Multihull 1. This is the biggest and most impressive multihull spectacle to come Antigua for many years and these flying machines light up in big breeze.

In Class 1, Hugo Stenbeck's Dubois 90, Genuine Risk, nailed the start to perfection. Ramping up the speed with a big dial down before crossing the start line on the "B of the Bang". However Peter Cunningham's Reichel Pugh 75, Titan Powerplay, won the first race in Class 1 by just under two minutes on corrected time. Today's big tactical decision in the big boat class was whether to sail inshore and take the shortest route or sail offshore to find more breeze and current.

Fred Smithers' Swan 77, La Forza Del Destino got a great start in Class 2, only to have to retire on the first beat with sail damage. Peter Harrison's Farr 115, sporting new hi-tech 3Di Sails sailed a smart race, no doubt assisted by the highly experienced Antiguan Olympic sailor, Karl James. However, Carol Swift and Stefan Lehner's Passion 4 C came out on top by over six minutes on corrected time. The German Trip 56 managed to stay in clear air and sailed well to score its first bullet of the regatta against talented opposition. Paul Fevang's Norwegian Swan 66, Godot, with a striking pink spinnaker, was third.

In Class 3, Antiguan sailor James Dobbs, racing his J122, Lost Horizon, was over-eager at the start and had to go back, which ultimately cost him the race. Phillip Lotz's American Swan 42, Arethusa won by a slender margin, just 26 seconds on corrected time ahead of Lost Horizon. Dig Van Der Slikke's Grand Soleil 43, D-Trip from St. Maarten was third.

Today saw the much talked-about duel between two local boats, Sir Hugh Bailey's First 456, Hugo B, and Carlo Falcone's one off, Caccia alla Volpe. The two boats were locked in a duel all day, barely more than a few boat lengths apart. Hugo B managed to get the better of Caccia alla Volpe by just 49 seconds on corrected time. However neither of the local yachts turned out winners. Calvin Reed's First 40.7, Elandra, took the spoils by over three minutes.

www.sailingweek.com

Featured Brokerage
Featured Brokerage Boat 2009 Melges 32. EUR 129,500. Located In Helsinki, Finland.

"Manta" benefits from a road trailer specially designed and built for Melges 32, the trailer tilts the boat so the load is 2,55 meters wide. She also has mast which can be taken to two pieces for transports. She has North Sails racing set, most of the sails have been used 5-6 times so all in extremly good condition, everything shows as new with this boat.

She's ready for Melges 32 OD racing or having some fun with mixed fleet.

Brokerage through Vinces Oy: www.yachtworld.com/vinces/

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

The Last Word
Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. -- Richard Feynman

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