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America's Cup Teams Welcomed To San Francisco
Photo by Guilain Grenier / Oracle Racing. Click on image to enlarge.

AC Press Conference San Francisco, California, USA: Today the field of international competitors for the 34th America's Cup revealed their game plans for winning the trophy and bringing the honor of hosting the Cup to their home country.

Teams representing China, France (with two teams), Italy, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Sweden and USA made their first appearance together in the host city of the 2013 America's Cup at a press conference where organizers introduced the line-up. The ninth team will be announced at a press conference on June 23rd in Europe.

Among the challenging nations, Republic of Korea is new to the America's Cup, while China is entering for just the second time.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee welcomed the teams to San Francisco, home of two 2012 America's Cup World Series events, and the Louis Vuitton Cup, America's Cup Challenger Series July 13 - September 1 and the America's Cup Finals September 7-22, both in 2013.

The nine competitors will face-off for the first time in August at the inaugural America's Cup World Series event in Cascais, Portugal where a fleet of ten AC45s will do battle in both fleet and match racing. ORACLE Racing will enter two teams in the 2011 AC World Series.

The inaugural AC World Series competition will be held August 6 - 14 in Cascais, Portugal. The second stop on the circuit will be Plymouth, England on September 10-18, followed by the final stop in 2011 in San Diego November 12-20.

In addition to the unveiling of the official slate of competitors, event organizers also introduced the new brand expression for both the 34th America's Cup and the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup, the America's Cup Challenger Series.

The competitors for the 34th America's Cup are (nation, team, yacht club)*:

China - China Team, Mei Fan Yacht Club
France - Aleph - Equipe De France, Aleph Yacht Club
France - Energy Team, Yacht Club de France
Italy - Venezia Challenge, Club Canottieri Roggero di Lauria
New Zealand - Emirates Team New Zealand, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Republic of Korea - Team Korea, Sail Korea Yacht Club
Sweden - Artemis Racing, Kungliga Svenska Segel Sallskapet
United States - ORACLE Racing, Golden Gate Yacht Club, (Defender)

* The Ninth confirmed Team will be announced at a press conference June 23 in Europe

* Richard Gladwell weighs in:

Of the eight teams announced, only two have won the America's Cup previously , and only one of those, Emirates Team New Zealand have made a multi-challenger Final of the Louis Vuitton Cup. Official sources report that a ninth team will be announced later this month, in Europe.

Oracle Racing are also the Defender, meaning that there are just seven Challengers announced for the Louis Vuitton Cup, which is the Challenger Selection Series, for the America's Cup which will be sailed in September 2013. Late entries can still be accepted, however a serious team would have a full design team up an running from October-November 2010.

The usual number of challengers for an America's Cup, since 1987, has been between 14-17 teams from 10-12 countries.

The numbers announced in San Francisco are well down on that figure, despite a change to a new class, a 72ft catamaran, and claims by organisers of cost reductions in a campaign - disputed by experienced Challengers who off the record say that the costs are really unchanged from previous America's Cup campaigns put at USD100million.

Absent from the announced lineup is an Australian team, however they were believed to have had representatives in San Francisco for today's function. The team, Team Australia came to Auckland in March and sailed the prototype AC45 yachts - at that stage available only to entered teams. Also missing is a Canadian team, who were believed to have pulled out soon after the Competitors Meeting in Auckland, when at that stage a USD200,000 performance bond was due on 30 April 2011.

Due to the organiser's policy of not announcing entries, given the teams were unusually given the option of being recorded as an entry (in terms of numbers) but remaining confidential, it is not possible to track which teams have dropped out from the original 15 announced at the end of March.

Richard's full report:

Quantum Racing Lead In Marseille
Photo by Nico Martinez, Click on image for photo gallery.

Medcup Marseilles Precision and patience were just two of the virtues required on Marseille's Rade Sud race area today as the Marseille Trophy opened with two light wind windward-leeward races which were punctuated by delays waiting for the breezes to settle.

If world champions Quantum Racing prevailed in Cascais last month, the American team may have emerged from the first day's racing on the Audi MedCup Circuit's French regatta with the slenderest possible margin, but they had to work hard for their fourth place in the first race after a modest start and only just squeezed out Bribon early in the second heat to win Race 2.

Their fourth and first places allow them to top the Marseille Trophy leaderboard, ahead of Jose Cusí's Bribon (ESP). The Spanish crew with Ross Macdonald (CAN) calling tactics were solid and consistent, scoring a third and a second to lie second only on countback.

Racing was open and even in the breezes which struggled to muster 10 knots. After a delay of 90 minutes to wait for the winds to settle and build, the first race was blessed with 7-11 kts while, after another delay, the second heat saw 5-7kts. The later afternoon breeze did hold enough pressure to deliver a slower, but equable contest over which precision and subtlety were vital.

Clean starting was perhaps the most telling component today. In the first heat the team on Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA) came off the line like a rocket, their speed advantage standing out as the two boats below them - Quantum Racing and Synergy Russian Sailing Team and were both slowed in the final seconds. -- Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

Marseille Trophy
52 Series

Results after 2 races
1. Quantum Racing (USA), 4+1= 5 points
2. Bribon (ESP), 3+2= 5 points
3. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS), 2+4= 6 points
4. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA), 1+7= 8 points
5. Container (GER), 7+3= 10 points
6. Ràn (SUE), 5+5= 10 points
7. Audi Sailing Team Powered by All4One (EUR), 6+6= 12points
8. Gladiator (GBR), 8+8=16 points

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Newport J Class Regatta
Two of the most competitive yachts in the world are coming together for the first race of the Newport J Class Regatta, R.I. USA - a series of five races from 15-19 June. The yachts, their entourage of support boats, containers and crew have been arriving over the last few weeks in preparation for this event: bringing the famous J Class yachts back to sail on Newport waters.

Both yachts have been practising on the proposed course around the harbour and under the famous Newport Harbour bridge. With 175 feet of mast above the deck there is little clearance for these yachts, making sailing under the bridge truly spectacular. Racing is due to start at 1.00pm local time on a start line near Fort Adams, allowing spectators stunning views of these wonderful classic yachts.

Velsheda dates back to 1933 when she was owned and built by Mr Stephenson, to spar against the UK yacht Endeavour. Ranger is a replica build of the famous original, launched in 2002. The original successfully defended the America's Cup against Endeavour II in 1937.

This has been a big commitment by the J Class Association to bring these wonderful yachts back to the home waters of the 1930s era of America's Cup sailing. It had been hoped that more would be competing, but Shamrock V could not make the Atlantic crossing due to European commitments and Hanuman (a replica of the 1937 Endeavour II) declined to race.

This event starts the run-in to the 2012 series of J Class regattas in the UK planned for Falmouth, June 2012, The Solent, July 2012, and the final "Hundred Guinea Cup Race" around the Isle of Wight on the original 1851 America's Cup course.

Results and reports will be posted at

Battle To Cherbourg: The Morgan Cup
The RORC Season's Points Championship continues this weekend with what looks like a tough race to Cherbourg. Over 100 yachts will be competing and hoping to lift the Morgan Cup. Dating back to 1929, the solid silver trophy is one of the oldest and most prestigious prizes. But the fleet may have to battle against strong winds to reach Cherbourg.

Weather models are predicting a wet beat to Cherbourg; it could well suit those yachts and crew that can best handle the tough conditions. Tactical weather expert Mike Broughton will be in the afterguard of pocket rocket Keronimo for the race.

"A large area of low pressure has been stationary 200 miles west of Ireland all week. By Friday morning it looks like a secondary low pressure system will be riding around its southern flank, moving like a slingshot towards the south western approaches. There will be gales in the western channel with Force 6/7 in the central channel from the westerly quadrant. However, it all depends on the final track of this system; even a little change in its direction will make a big change in the conditions for the race. It certainly looks like being windy on Saturday morning with potentially 25 to 30 knots from the west at dawn. If the low pressure system tracks south or intensifies, we could see significantly more wind and a difficult sea state," commented Broughton.

IRC Zero will be a match race between two high performance racing yachts: Derek Saunders' Venomous and Rob Gray and Sam Laidlaw's Bob.  IRC One could well be a skirmish between Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, and Jonathon Goring's Ker 40, Keronimo. However Chaz Ivill's Grand Soleil 54, John B, and Mike Greville's Ker 39, Erivale, are also proven race winners.

IRC Two has 32 yachts entered and the largest class could probably be described as the most competitive racing to Cherbourg. Nial Dowling's J/111, Arabella currently leads the class for the season but is not competing in the Morgan Cup. However, RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine's First 40, La Reponse will, no doubt, be in fierce competition with Neil Kipling's J/122 Joopster.

Seventeen yachts are entered in the Two-Handed Class. Nick Martin's J/105, Diablo-J, leads the 2011 Season's Points Championship with Matthias Kracht's JPK 9.6, Ultreia!, lying second. The Le Havre based Ultreia! will be looking to continue their winning ways, having won class and second in IRC overall in last month's Myth of Malham Race.

The Morgan Cup Race starts at the Squadron Line at 1900 BST on Friday June 17th. Late Entries are possible until Thursday 16th 1900 BST. -- Louay Habib

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'Modern Day Mark Foy' Wins The Original's Trophy
Photo by Frank Quealey. Click on image to enlarge.

Aussie 18 Skiffs John 'Woody' Winning is regarded in Australian 18 Footer Sailing circles as the 'modern day Mark Foy' due to his achievements in prospering the present fleet and the introduction of the 3-Buoys handicap system which has revolutionized the 'handicap' racing on Sydney Harbour.

How appropriate that 'Woody', who has won every major international championship over a period of 35 years, has now added the '2011 Mark Foy Trophy' to his long list of victories.

Along with his team of Andrew Hay and David Gibson, 'Woody' took the YANDOO skiff to victory against a 20-boat fleet at Sonderborg, Denmark last week.

Final placings were:
1. Yandoo, Australia
2. Pica, UK
3. CT Sailbattens, New Zealand
4. Mounts Bay, Australia
5. Panasonic, Australia
6. CST Composites, USA

Next on-the-water challenge for 'Woody' and his YANDOO team will be the San Francisco International Championship (21-26 August) before returning to Australia for the Australian 18 Footers League's season, which begins on Sydney Harbour on Sunday, 9 October.

In the meantime, the unstoppable Winning will be at the forefront of the League's planning for the 2011-2012 Australian season.

As Club President, he has a very 'hands-on' involvement in producing a quality, competitive fleet on behalf of competitors, sponsors and supporters of the Sydney Racing, and has been instrumental in the revival of the Western Australian and Queensland fleets.

John, Andrew and David are great representatives of the sport and worthy winners of the 2011 Mark Foy Trophy. -- Frank Quealey, Australian 18 Footers League

Boston, Here We Come!
Photo credit: Fan Pier Boston. Click on image to enlarge.

Extreme Sailing Series in Boston After the epic Act in Istanbul, the Extreme Sailing Series now heads to new shores for Act 4 - Boston in the USA - the first time the circuit has staged an official event in the United States. "Boston is proud to be the first U.S. city to host the 2011 Extreme Sailing Series to our waterfront for the city's July 4th celebration - one of the largest in the nation," said Thomas M. Menino, Mayor, City of Boston.

The Boston event will be staged at Fan Pier. Taking place from Thursday, 30th June to Monday, 4th July, every day is open to the public and there will be plenty of attractions. The 11-boat Extreme 40 fleet will showcase their close combat 'stadium' style of racing in front of the spectators at Fan Pier, a 21-acre site on Boston's waterfront spanning nine city blocks, owned by the Fallon Company, the official host venue partner to the Boston Act.

The Extreme 40s will be supported by 49er racing, Laser and J22s racing for the official charity Courageous Sailing, fireworks, live music and street performers, and aerial demos from the Red Bull Air Force skydivers. Media partner Boston's Fox25 TV will be capturing all the action as part of their scheduled live programming from Fan Pier.

A total of 43 races were staged in Istanbul - the most ever at one event in the circuit's history - and this could be replicated, or even exceeded, in Boston if the weather plays ball. The short 15-minute races are mentally and physically demanding.

49 Skippers for the Solitaire Du Figaro
A total of 49 skippers have confirmed their entries for the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro. Making up the group of predominantly French sailors are six foreigners, four British, one Portuguese and one German, and of the 49 starters almost 20% of the fleet are in their first full season in the Figaro class taking on the challenge of arguably the toughest singlehanded race. The fleet will sail a 1700-mile course over four stages, starting in Perros-Guirec on the North Brittany coast on 23 July and visiting Caen, Normandy, Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, Les Sables d'Olonne, Vendee, before finishing in Dieppe, Pas de Calais, on 28 August.

Three past winners of the Solitaire du Figaro will be racing in an attempt to join that elite club of skippers that have two overall victories to their name. Amongst them are Nicolas Lunven, who won the title in 2009 and is regularly at the top of the class leaderboard. He will be up against Jeremie Beyou, winner in 2005 and one of the top players in short-handed offshore sailing. Eric Drouglazet, the third participant to have won the race in the past, took the top podium spot in 2001 and has long been a central character on the Figaro circuit. Frederic Duthil, Gildas Morvan and Thierry Chabagny have all earned podium finishes and will be doing their level best to finally get to the top step of the podium.

Since 1970, 13 Britons have participated in Solitaire du Figaro. Nigel King is now the doyen of that group coming back for his third attempt. Amongst his compatriots are Conrad Humphreys of Vendee Globe fame, the very current Phil Sharp of mini transat success and the extremely talented Sam Goodchild, prodigy of the Artemis Academy.

2011 Key Dates:

Perros Guirec
Village opens: Saturday 23rd July
Eric Bompard Prologue: Friday 29th July
Start of the 1st leg: Sunday 31st July

Caen (320 miles)
ETA: Tuesday 2nd August
Start of the 2nd leg: Sunday 7th August

Dun Laoghaire (470 miles)
ETA: Wednesday 10th August
Start of the 3rd leg: Sunday 14th August

Les Sables D'olonne (475 miles)
ETA: Wednesday 17th August
Start of the 4th leg: Sunday 21st August

Dieppe (430 miles)
ETA: Wednesday 24th August
Postlog: Sunday 28th August

Walter Fischer
The sailing world lost a great friend the night of June 13. Surrounded by his family, Walter passed away peacefully in his sleep after a 2 year battle with cancer.

Walter joined luxury retailer Little Switzerland in St Thomas in 1961. Starting as a watchmaker, he rose to become President and CEO. In 1989, he joined Rolex as head of sales for the Caribbean and Latin America. In 1999, he was named President and CEO of Rolex Watch USA. While in St Thomas, Walter was responsible for the creation of the International Rolex Regatta in 1972. It has long been known as the "Jewel of the Caribbean." in the early 80s, Walter and a group of friends brought the first J24 to the Caribbean. He also served as the head of the Race Committee and Commodore of St.Thomas YC. Walter sailed all kinds of boats from steering his J24 Sting to grinding winches on a maxi, which he always referred to as "grind til you puke."

As President of Rolex US, Walter expanded the company's relationship with the New York YC, of which he was a proud member; many aspects of US SAILING, including sailors with disabilities; Storm Trysail Club's Block Island Race Week and Collegiate Regatta; the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta; and the Rolex Big Boat Series at St. Thomas YC. Perhaps Walter's greatest joy was watching his 8 year old granddaughter, Caroline, sail her Opti off the beach at the St. Thomas YC.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions be made to the St. Thomas YC Junior Sailing program. Donations should be made out to the St. Thomas YC, with the notation Walter Fischer Junior Sailing fund and mailed to Bill Canfield, St. Thomas YC, 8-58, 6624 Estate Nazareth, St. Thomas, USVI 00802.

Sleep well, Walter. Your many friends miss you already. Our hearts go out to Walter's wife Jill, son Greg, daughter Stefanie and his four grandchildren.

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The Last Word
By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth. -- George Carlin

Your humble narrator is travelling many miles for a reunion and a wedding; here's hoping your weekend will be as fun as mine...

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