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Ran - First Back to Back Victory in 50 Years
Photo by Carlo Borlenghi, Click on image to enlarge.

Fastnet Race For the first time in more than 50 years, the Rolex Fastnet Race has a back-to-back handicap winner. Following on from her victory under IRC in 2009, this afternoon the Royal Ocean Race Club has confirmed that Niklas Zennstrom's RAN (GBR) is once again the overall winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race and the prestigious Fastnet Challenge Cup.

Past double winners of the race include Jolie Brise (1929 and 1930), yacht designer Olin Stephens' Dorade (1931 and 1933), John Ilingworth's Myth of Malham (1947 and 1949) and most recently Richard Nye's Carina II (1955 and 1957). It should be noted that Carina II is not the same boat as the one of this same name being campaigned in this year's Rolex Fastnet Race by American Rives Potts.

The Judel-Vrolijk designed 72ft RAN finished in Plymouth on Tuesday at 12:53:44 and even then she was looking like a strong contender for the overall prize, but this afternoon her win was officially confirmed by the Royal Ocean Racing Club.

Under IRC, RAN's time corrected out so that she beat ICAP Leopard (GBR) by 4 hours, 38 minutes and 18 seconds, and Mike Slade's 100 foot supermaxi in turn a massive 10 hours, 40 minutes ahead of third placed Vanquish (USA), the Oakcliff All American Offshore Team's STP65.

RAN herself has seen a marked change compared to her two year old self with 500kg shed from her keel bulb at the beginning of 2010. Since then there haven't been any major changes, although the team have been constantly making small refinements.

Navigator Steve Hayles felt the forecast, while favouring the upper echelons of the Rolex Fastnet Race fleet, wasn't quite as favourable for them as compared to two years ago. "We knew there was a bit more reaching, and our boat is better upwind. We had to work hard on getting out of the Solent and the Channel and that went pretty well and then we hung on for dear life to be close as we could."

Their main competition had been Karl Kwok and Jim Schwartz's Beau Geste, and there was some friendly rivalry between the two boats as Gavin Brady skippered the Farr 80, but is also acting as tactician this year on Zennstrom's TP52 in the Mediterranean. "He slammed (tacked) on us a couple of times in the Solent and once down the Channel. It was a good race," recalled Hayles.

As of 1700 BST today, backmarker the Pilot Cutter Morwenna still is 30 miles short of the Fastnet Rock with 281 miles to go to reach Plymouth. At present 168 boats remain at sea with 39 retired and 107 finishers

The Tap Turns On
After an extremely quiet 24 hours, from last night boats have been streaming into Plymouth, with over 50 boats finishing between midnight and noon. There have been some tight finishes in this Rolex Fastnet Race between the Volvo Open 70s and the IMOCA Open 60, but the closest by far occurred in the early hours this morning in the Class 40, where the top five boats arrived within six-and-a-half minutes of one another.

Having led for the majority of the race, there was a deserved win for Tanguy de Lamotte aboard his Rogers-designed Initiatives - Alex Olivier (FRA), which arrived two and a half minutes ahead of the new Kiwi 40 Peraspera (ITA), in turn just 30 seconds in front of Red (GER), skippered by Mathias Mueller von Blumencron, former Editor in Chief of Der Spiegel magazine.

Having led for most of the race, Initiatives - Alex Olivier was overtaken by Peraspera at the last headland coming into Plymouth and it was only because their last tack into the finish took them further south of the Plymouth breakwater, that they won. "We could go on one tack to the finish line and that is where we pulled away and overtook them again," recounted de Lamotte. "It was a literally a few hundred metres before the finish line. So it could have gone any way, anyone could have won it."

Finishing 3 hours and 13 minutes astern of the Class 40 leader and 12th in Class 40 was the Class 40 Dragon (USA), skippered by Michael Hennessy, who recently sailed his boat in the Transatlantic Race 2011.

Peter Rutter's Quokka 8 (GBR), the UK IRC National Champion, arrived in at 07:31:12 this morning in IRC2, the boat on this occasion part of the seven-strong fleet entered by charter company Sailing Logic. Rutter and Sailing Logic's Philippe Falle were sailing Quokka 8 with a youth crew. "We did very well indeed," said Rutter on his arrival. "It was superb racing, as always with the Fastnet. It was quite a rough second night. After Bishop Rock we watched the whole fleet sailing up to us, we stopped and we managed to get slightly inshore of the rest of the fleet and then got 4 miles ahead in the space of about 1.5 hours, which was pleasing."

Just ahead of them on the water but sailing in IRC 1, was the Scheveningen-based Swan 42 Baraka Gp (NED) skippered by Piet de Graaf and sailed by a crew comprising many family members. "I think we sailed pretty well, especially in the first part of the race," said elder son Dirk de Graaf. "We worked well and our navigator and tactician did good preparation. We were off Land's End in a good position. In the Irish Sea we had some tough conditions and we saw 30 knots."

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Piracy Threat Forces Race Route Change
The escalating piracy problem in the Indian Ocean has forced organisers of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 to redraw the routes for the second and third legs.

The boats were due to have sailed through an East African corridor in the Indian Ocean on the second leg from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi and again in the third leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya in China but after taking advice from marine safety experts and the sport's governing body, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), the routes have been changed.

The boats will now race from Cape Town to an undisclosed 'safe haven' port, be transported closer to Abu Dhabi, and then complete the leg from there. The process will be reversed for the third leg before the race continues on to Sanya.

"This has been an incredibly difficult decision," said Volvo Ocean Race Chief Executive Knut Frostad. "We have consulted leading naval and commercial intelligence experts and their advice could not have been clearer: 'Do not risk it.'

"The solution we have found means our boats will still be racing into Abu Dhabi and competing in the in-port race there.

"Abu Dhabi is a very important part of our plans, a real highlight being the race's first-ever stopover in the Middle East, and we will now have a really exciting sprint finish to the emirate over the New Year period as well."

Abu Dhabi will host the race from December 30 to January 14 with a purpose-built race village at its Corniche waterfront site and a headline New Year's Eve concert amongst various festivities set to provide a spectacular welcome to more than 100,000 visitors.

"The measures taken by the Volvo Ocean Race are very much in line with the advice that the International Sailing Federation has been giving for some time." said ISAF Secretary General Jerome Pels. "The ISAF strongly urges all yacht skippers intent on sailing anywhere in the area to seek an alternative, which the Volvo Ocean Race is now providing."

RC 44 Sweden
Photo by Nico Martinez, Click on image for photo gallery.

RC44 Sweden The fleet racing portion of the event got underway today. Unfortunately the wind was very fickle and only allowed for one very light wind race. There was an abundance of sunshine though which made for a pleasant day.

Artemis Racing with Torbjorn Tornqvist at the helm sailed a great first windward leg and first run to hold a commanding lead at the half way point. Up the second windward leg, Artemis went to the left side while Ceref and Aleph went to the right. In the end it was the right that panned out. Mind you this all played out in 5 knots of wind.

Onboard Katusha, we were having a bit of trouble with the fickle wind and rounded the first mark in second to last place. We battled back a bit up the second windward leg and then down the final run to finish a respectable 10th. The finish is off a castle which is at the end of a narrow channel. With the wind running straight down the channel, this made for a very tricky finish with all the boats gybing on each other and bunching up. We had a bit of luck and things went our way to pass three boats in this last little bit of the race.

The forecast for tomorrow is better, in fact there could be quite a lot of wind. Gennadi had to attend to business and left after racing today so Sarah Gunderson will be our helmsperson tomorrow and through to the end of the regatta. -- Paul Cayard

For complete results go to

Dubai To Muscat Race
The UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation are pleased to announce that the 2011 Dubai to Muscat Race will be held over the period 14 to 25 November with classes starting from Dubai on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 November. The finish is planned to allow competitors to enter the subsequent 2011 Bank of Beirut Chairman's Cup Muscat to Khasab Race which will start from Muscat on Sunday 27 November.

The Organising Authority will be the UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation in Association with the Ministry of Sports Affairs, The Sultanate of Oman. On the water race management services will be provided by GWM Racing Ltd. The location of Regatta Headquarters, start and finish lines and all other details including entry fees will be published as soon as possible in the full Notice of Regatta.

Racing will be governed by the current Racing Rules of Sailing and boats in the following classes will be eligible to enter:-

- Multihull
- Rally Class

Scrutineering and registration are planned to take place during the period 14 to 18 November and the skipper's briefing and opening reception are planned for Friday 18 November.

It is intended to hold a prize giving reception in Muscat on the evening of Friday 25 November.

The Bank of Beirut Chairman's Cup Muscat to Khasab Race, for which the same classes are eligible to enter will start from Muscat on Sunday 27 November, with a prize giving lunch at Khasab on Thursday 1 December.

Solo Sailor Sets New Record For Circumnavigating Australia
Bruce Arms, a boat builder from Mooloolaba in Queensland, has just set a new record for a solo circumnavigation of Australia in his 14.14m Chamberlin-designed catamaran, Big Wave Rider, travelling 6698 nautical miles non-stop to complete his journey in just under 39 days.

He crossed his outbound path yesterday to take the record by a whopping three days from the previous record holder Ian Thomson, a campaigner for ridding the world of plastic bags.

BRUCE arrived back to Mooloolaba sporting several injuries when he was welcomed to the commodore's berth at Mooloolaba Marina.

He told the Sunshine Coast Daily it had been a tough ride. Unseasonable headwinds dogged him to the very end of the journey, forcing him to tack repeatedly as he made his way on the final leg from Cape Moreton to home.

The achievement set two records: at 38 days 22 hours, the fastest time for a solo, unassisted journey, and being the first person to do it solo in a catamaran.

Arms spent his last night at sea tacking repeatedly to avoid prawn trawlers and cargo vessels off Cape Moreton, sleeping for just 20 minutes during the last 24 hours of his journey.

With a bandaged lower leg and a damaged knee and ankle he laughed that his boat had held up better than he had. When off the West Australian coast his boat was so bashed by huge waves that he feared it may break up.

He pressed on south and into the Great Australian Bight where again winds that should have been rocketing him along from behind, came at him head on. Then the wind swung and the seas rose. He lost the sea anchor or drogue that was meant to slow Big Wave Rider as it raced up, over and down 13-metre swells.

His arrival at Mooloolaba was greeted by a flotilla of vessels from Mooloolaba Yacht Club, Mooloolaba Marina and the Coast Guard.

He says he hopes his example will encourage others to try to break his record in catamarans.

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Dubarry Crosshaven
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Dubarry Crosshaven - boots born in the Southern Ocean.

Soft Wind Final
Skippers and crews contesting the final race of the 2011 Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week were forced to drift about waiting for wind in the warm and windless Whitsunday Islands earlier today.

They waited patiently on a calm Pioneer Bay before a soft easterly wind filled in.

As expected the power sailing New Zealand maxi trimaran Team Vodafone again dominated after spending time in the aquatic parking lot between the Bluff Point and the Grimston Point rounding marks.

Thankfully a pleasant 10-12 knot breeze blew across the bay from the direction of Hayman Island allowing the record breaking Team Vodafone to record another runaway line honours win.

Team Vodafone skipper Simon Hull simply described the weather as being a lottery for the sailors but a perfect day for tourists- plenty of sunshine and a breeze hardly strong enough to ruffle the sea surface.

However the light and unstable wind failed to prevent the Team Vodafone crew from recording their sixth line honours win from six races.

They sailed fast but not fast enough to beat the smaller Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron trimaran Trilogy which was consistently sailed by skipper Keith Glover and his principal crew mates Ben Kelly and Julian Bethwaite to win the series on corrected handicap.

In other classes the former French Kiss Americas Cup sailor Pierre Gal steered his Coffs Harbour Yacht Club sports boat Kiss to a comfortable overall win while Peter Sorensen steered his Middle Harbour Yacht Club sloop The Philosophers Club to an impressive win in the Grand Prix IRC class championship.

Skipper Peter Sorensen hopes to retain this form when he lines up to contest the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week starting with the Lindeman Island race on Saturday. -- Ian Grant

Yachties Mourn 'Wonderful, Fearless Pilot'
Australia's yachting community has paid tribute to ABC pilot Gary Ticehurst, who is feared dead in a chopper crash in South Australia.

His colleagues, veteran journalist Paul Lockyer and cameraman John Bean, were also on board the helicopter that crashed near Lake Eyre yesterday evening.

Ticehurst covered three decades of Sydney to Hobart yacht races and was an integral part of the rescue operations during the disastrous 1998 race in which six sailors died and five yachts sank.

Yachtsman "David" told ABC Local Radio he will never forget Ticehurst's contribution in the rescue efforts.

"At the height of that terrible storm, the ABC chopper was buzzing not only us but a number of yachts for no other reason then to just provide comfort so to have this chopper flying nearby was really quite extraordinary and a remarkable thing by Gary and a terrible, terrible loss," he said.

Veteran yachting journalist and former Sydney to Hobart media director Peter Campbell says Ticehurst was well-known in yachting circles.

"A great loss, he was a wonderful character, a wonderful pilot, an absolutely wonderful, fearless pilot," he said.

"He made a great contribution to the Sydney to Hobart race and yachting in general, because of his ability to to get close and capture those moments of drama at sea.

"And of course, he played a vital role in the search and rescue in 1998 in the gale, he was out there spotting boats and relaying their position and then again in the rescue of the upturned yacht Skandia, he was very much involved in that.

Stephanie Hagger from Marine Search and Rescue says she met Ticehurst during the disastrous 1998 race.

"Incredible man and big heart," she said.

"Because of his piloting he saved I think it was 14 people off Business Post Naiad. Gary's piloting during that was incredible."

Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

China Team Part Ways with its Skipper
China Team, the Chinese challenger for the 34th America's Cup, has decided to part ways with its skipper Mitch Booth after the first AC World Series in Cascais, Portugal, last week.

China Team started the week on a strong note with manygood results, notably coming 3rd in the speed trial, and had some of the mostmagic moments of the event. China Team is in the process of finalizing therecruitment of another skipper to be announced shortly.

Not Sailing But Very Cool...
IBM researchers unveiled a new generation of experimental computer chips designed to emulate the brain's abilities for perception, action and cognition. The technology could yield many orders of magnitude less power consumption and space than used in today's computers.

In a sharp departure from traditional concepts in designing and building computers, IBM's first neurosynaptic computing chips recreate the phenomena between spiking neurons and synapses in biological systems, such as the brain, through advanced algorithms and silicon circuitry. Its first two prototype chips have already been fabricated and are currently undergoing testing.

Called cognitive computers, systems built with these chips won't be programmed the same way traditional computers are today. Rather, cognitive computers are expected to learn through experiences, find correlations, create hypotheses, and remember - and learn from - the outcomes, mimicking the brains structural and synaptic plasticity.

To do this, IBM is combining principles from nanoscience, neuroscience and supercomputing as part of a multi-year cognitive computing initiative.

While they contain no biological elements, IBM's first cognitive computing prototype chips use digital silicon circuits inspired by neurobiology to make up what is referred to as a "neurosynaptic core" with integrated memory (replicated synapses), computation (replicated neurons) and communication (replicated axons).

IBM has two working prototype designs. Both cores were fabricated in 45 nm SOI-CMOS and contain 256 neurons. One core contains 262,144 programmable synapses and the other contains 65,536 learning synapses. The IBM team has successfully demonstrated simple applications like navigation, machine vision, pattern recognition, associative memory and classification.

IBM's long-term goal is to build a chip system with ten billion neurons and hundred trillion synapses, while consuming merely one kilowatt of power and occupying less than two liters of volume.

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She can be delivered within 14 months.

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The Last Word
When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front row seat. -- George Carlin

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