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Perfect Conditions for the Start of Leg Four
Photo by Courouc-Marmara-Le Figaro. Click on image to enlarge.

Figaro Among several dozens of spectator boats, under a bright blue, sunny sky and in perfect flat sea conditions, at 12:12 precisely the 46 Solitaire du Figaro 2011 skippers set off for the 437 mile long fourth and final leg from Les Sables d'Olonne to Dieppe, where this year's champions will be crowned.

One could not have asked for a better day for the start of the last and decisive leg of the 42nd Solitaire du Figaro. Despite negative weather forecast announcing rainstorms and flimsy winds, sailors and organizers woke up today to discover Les Sables d'Olonne bathed in sun, a pleasant summer temperature and a perfect, cloudless blue sky.

After a general recall and a second procedure, the Committee fired the start gun at 12:12 precisely, as the first skipper to cross the line was Laurent Gouezigoux (Valorisons).

The leading skippers opted to stay inshore, as close as 400 metres from the beach, sailing upwind along the coastline in a north-westerly air, still around 10/12 knots. But, as per the 16:00 position report Marc Emig (Ensemble autour du Monde) and Frederic Rivet (Vendee1), who took more extreme offshore westerly option, were in first and second position respectively, most of the skippers were still closely packed east and less than three miles separated the front from the back of the fleet, with overall race leader Jeremie Beyou (BPI) in 9th. First rookie was Morgan Lagraviere (Vendee) in 5th and first British skipper Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence) in 14th position and second rookie, fellow countryman Sam Goodchild (Artemis) was 16th and 1.80 miles from the top. Portuguese Francisco Lobato (ROFF) occupied the 28th place, Conrad Humphreys (DMS) the 38th and Nigel King was 45th.

As the skippers head North upwind, they will probably be forced to multiple tacks to reach Belle Ile (a course mark to be left portside) during the night. Progressing towards the Brittany coast the wind should veer right, NE, thus allowing the solo sailors to ease their sails. They could then be approaching the following key point of Penmarc'h later tomorrow morning.

www.lasolitaire.com

Team Aqua by the Smallest of Margins
Photo by Nico Martinez, www.nicomartinez.com. Click on image for photo gallery.

RC44 Going into the final day of racing at the RC44 Sweden Cup just four points separated the top four teams. It was so tight at the top that the day would see a match race between Team Aqua and CEEREF to decide the eventual event winner and Islas Canarias Puerto Calero jump up the leaderboard to take third place.

The day started with a steady southerly breeze that built from 10 to 15 knots throughout the day. In race one Igor Lah/Michele Ivaldi and Team CEEREF (SLO) lead from start to finish, Team Aqua (GBR) crept inside No Way Back (NED) at the first leeward mark to take second place. By the end CEEREF had closed the gap by one point on Team Aqua in the overalls. The biggest drama came when Synergy (RUS) lost a man overboard as they hoisted their kite at the first windward mark, the successfully retrieved him and finished the race in 14th position.

There was more drama to come. No Way Back now lying in third overall jumped the gun in the second and were called back to restart - as they had been the day before - but unlike yesterday the Dutch team managed to pull themselves back through the fleet to finish seventh and still be in the hunt for the prizes.

Aqua clinched the overall title by a narrow four point margin, but for CEEREF they were pleased with their weeks work.

16 teams competed in Sweden and many of the new teams are starting to get up to speed. Six different boats took race wins. Only three: Peninsula Petroleum (GBR), No Way Back (NED) and Team Ceeref (SLO), enjoyed double race wins, and the victors in Marstrand lifted the trophy and gratefully accepted the Breitling watch having not taken a bullet in any of the nine races sailed.

Team Aqua's' second successive win of the season, keeps them at the top of the RC44 Championship Tour standings after four events, with one event discard now coming into play. ORACLE Racing (USA) despite a disappointing regatta is still second overall with CEEREF overtaking Katusha (RUS) to sit in third.

RC44 Sweden Cup Fleet Racing Ranking
(After nine races no discards)

1. Team Aqua, 41 points
2. Team Ceeref, 45
3. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, 52
4. No Way Back, 54
5. Aleph Sailing Team, 57
6. ORACLE Racing, 62
7. Peninsula Petroleum, 67
8. Artemis Racing, 72
9. Ironbound, 73
10. Katusha, 80
11. AEZ Sailing Team, 83
12. Team Nika, 85
13. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 86
14. MAG Racing, 113
15. RUS-7 Sail Racing Team powered by AnyWayAnyDay.com, 128
16. Team KSSS, 132

www.rc44.com

Wild Oats Sets The Pace
Click on image to enlarge.

Wild Oats Bob Oatley's super maxi Wild Oats X1 produced unmatched boat speed in moderate trade winds to break the 21 n/ml Lindeman Island race record in the warm Whitsunday Islands today. Skipper Mark Richards and crew were totally focused on setting a fast time in the opening race of the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week when Wild Oats X1 led the race out of the start to power ahead of her Sydney Maxi rivals Investic Loyal (Peter Merrington) and Peter Millard's Lahana.

The sail trimmers exercised their skill to create a fast sail shape when Wild Oats X1 sailed fast on the edge of the variable 15-18 knot trade wind.

This skill enabled the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race record holder Wild Oats X1 to hold a firm grip on the line honours when they sailed past Pentecost Island holding a handy lead over Loyal and Lahana while the smaller yachts headed by the Marcus Blackmore skippered Brisbane to Gladstone race winner Hooligan entered into an absorbing tactical duel for handicap honours. Wild Oats X1 racing for the first time in Queensland's premier yacht race week left a big impression with the tourists when she cruised at speed past Lindeman Island.

Her crew placed any challenges beyond reach when the spinnakers were set at Brush Rock for the 11n/ml run to the finish in Dent Passage.

They never let up on the attention to making sure the speed sailing maxi logged a fast pace power sailing away from her rivals to finish over 6 minutes ahead of Loyal while Lahana filled third place

The convincing race result was a deserved reward for the Wild Oats X1 racing team when they completed the course with an impressive 11.35 knot average breaking the previous record set by Alpha Romeo in stronger trade winds in 2005.

However while Wild Oats X1 was the star performer in the Grand Prix IRC class her course time fell short of winning the unofficial drag race against the New Zealand trimaran team Vodafone.

The official margin at the finish favoured Team Vodafone by 7-53 seconds or the equivalent of 22.5 seconds per nautical mile.

Class favourite the Marcus Blackmore owned former Team New Zealand TP52 Hooligan revelled in the match race against the defending Audi Hamilton Island Race Week champion Loki to register 2.minute 43 second win on corrected handicap while Loki and Wild Oats X1 claimed the minor places. -- Ian Grant

Results at www.topyacht.net.au/results/2011/ahirw/series/index.htm

www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au

Dubarry

Dubarry Storm - Style Over Fashion
Fashion's a funny thing. Everyone likes to make a statement but what does a jacket with spandex epaulettes, chainmail pockets and a dog motif say about you that you wouldn't mind being repeated? What if there was a jacket that did the basics well, a jacket that looks good and keeps you warm in the cold and dry in the rain? Meet the Dubarry Storm, featuring a waterproof shell and an inner storm flap to keep the weather out, and a polarfleece lining and a chin guard to keep you warm. Dubarry Storm - the calm within the Storm.

www.dubarry.com

Musto Performance Skiff UK National Championships
Click on image for photo gallery.

Musto Skiffs Following a short delay the fleet set off into a sunny south westerly Force 2-3. Today was a showdown between defending champion Bruce Keen and former 49er National Champion James McIntosh; James held a slim 4 point lead.

After a general recall the fleet got away and at the first mark Keen was leading from Rick Perkins and Matt Hollis; MacIntosh was in 4th. The racing was very tight and at the finish Keen wone from Perkins and McIntosh had pulled through to 3rd,

So with one race to go McIntosh has seen his lead cut to just 2 points; all on the final race. The fleet started cleanly and again Keen lead at the windward mark from Andy Peake and Rick Perkins; McIntosh was 4th; this was a championship winning sequence for Keen but McIntosh sailed well to move into 2nd at the end of the first lap and then actually into the lead for the finish with Keen 2nd followed by Dan Vincent.

A great win for James McIntosh sponsored by Harken.

A big thank you to all the volunteer members of MBSC who gave up their free time to run the championships for the class. Also a huge thank you to the class sponsors; Musto, Ovington Boats, Harken and Hyde.

Overall:
1. James MacIntosh
2. Bruce Keen
3. Mike Palfreman
4. Andy Peake
5. Ian Martin

Full results
Silver 1st: Richard Smith
Bronze 1st: Jon Simpson
Youths: Tom Wright
Master: Richard Smith
Grand Master: John Evans

mustoskiff.com

Event hosted by Mounts Bay Sailing Club www.mbsc.org.uk

EUROSAF Match Racing Open European Championship
Gold to Sweden, Silver to Denmark and Bronze to Finland

Team Bjorn Hansen won the Match Race European Championship in Mariehamn Aland Islands in Finland. The silver medals went to the Danish team Mads Ebler and bronze medals to the Finnish team Staffan Lindberg.

Teams from the 10 highest ranked countries in Europe participated in the championship arranged by the Aland Yacht Club (Alandska segelsallskapet) the 16-20 of August. The races were sailed in boats type J92s with four persons onboard.

PRO was Bjorn Kalm of the Åland Yacht Club and Chief Umpire Ewan Mc Ewan. Event manager Jan-Olof Engblom

www.segel.ax
Results: www.segel.ax

Record Entry Confirmed for Half Ton Classic Cup
With 38 entries from seven nations already confirmed the Half Ton Classic Cup 2011 supported by South Boats, to be hosted by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club Cowes from Sunday 21st to Friday 26th August, is all set to break attendance records. The fifth edition will feature yachts from the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Ireland and Spain. With five days of Solent racing under IRC handicaps and five nights of partying the event will once again bring together sailors from across Europe for a championship combining competitive but friendly racing, relaxed socialising and more than a little bit of nostalgia.

The Half Ton Classic Class encourages owners to maintain their yachts in "as original" condition where ever possible which helps to ensure the boats can still race competitively against each other boat on boat as well as on handicap and also keeps the cost of competing in the class within reasonable bounds.

Racing runs from Monday 22nd to Friday 26th August with daily prize giving and social events at the Royal Corinthian's delightful waterside clubhouse each evening.

The competitor line up includes plenty of familiar faces as well as a number of new teams. Following serious damage when she fell off her road trailer earlier this year there was some doubt as to whether the 1978 Jean Berret designed General Tapioca, winner of the past two Half Ton Classic Cups and owned by Belgium's Philippe Pilate, would be able to defend her title again this year. Fortunately repairs have been completed in time and she will be on the start line on Monday.

Others with an eye on podium positions include fellow 1978 Jean Berret design Blue Berrett Pi, owned by Xavier Van Der Ghinst of Belgium, which took 3rd place in the 2003 and 2005 Half Ton Cups and came 7th in 2007; King One, also designed by Jean Berret but this time as the prototype of the fantastically popular Evolution production boats, which won the 1981 Half Ton Cup with Paul Elvstrom as skipper and is now owned by Howth's David Cullen; Demolition a 1981 sister ship to Stephen Jones' legendary Smiffy which makes the trip to Cowes from Falmouth with owner Mel Sharp; David Evans' hugely successful Hullabaloo XV, a 1978 Stephen Jones Hustler 32 from the Walton Backwaters; and Sevcon Team Chia Chia, designed by Hugh Welbourne in 1984 and travelling from Liverpool to compete with owners Phil and Alex Eagleton and Nigel Waterhouse.

The furthest travelled boats are Finland's Blues, owned by T Stuschek and J Tulokas, and Spain's Half Capone, owned by Jean-Luc Courbon.

www.halftonclasseurope.net

Seahorse September 2011
What's in the Latest Edition Of Seahorse Magazine

Intense
Nowhere is the pressure for sail development higher today than in the Audi MedCup TP52s. Dobbs Davis talks to competing sail designers Dave Armitage And Chris Williams

Keeping (very) busy
That’s the best way to describe Ernesto Bertarelli - who is finding plenty else to occupy him out on the water beyond the Cup

Last of the Mohicans
Sharing excellence, and winning... and always keeping cool! Jocelyn Bleriot breaks bread with the cool Loick Peyron

If you haven't subscribed to Seahorse already we're keen to help you attend to that! - Please use the following promotional link and enjoy the hefty Scuttlebutt Europe discount... and it gets even better for 2 and 3 year subscriptions...

www.seahorse.co.uk/shop/subs

Salvaged Rambler Anchors in Baltimore
The 100m maxi yacht which lost its keel and capsized off Fastnet Rock with 21 people on board earlier this week has been anchored in Baltimore in west Cork.

The Rambler 100 hull has already become something of a tourist trap in the middle of the harbour, attracting more attention than if it was a Fastnet race winner. It was towed to Baltimore from Barley Cove early yesterday by the Ocean Bank deep-sea tug, owned by Bere islander Sean Harrington of Atlantic Towage and Marine.

The hull was righted on Wednesday off Barley Cove, after several attempts, and pumped out.

The vessel's 65-metre mast is lying on the seabed, marked with a buoy for retrieval later.

"Life is returning to normal," said Jerry Smith of the Baltimore-based Aquaventures diving company yesterday following the salvage.

Mr Smith and the crew on his dive boat Wave Chieftain rescued five of the 21 on board the yacht from the sea on Monday night, including owner George David and his partner Wendy Touton, while 16 were rescued by the RNLI Baltimore lifeboat in an operation that involved Valentia Coast Guard, the Irish Coast Guard's Shannon and Waterford helicopters, the Naval Service and local boats.

Some of the Rambler 100 crew are still in west Cork, while others who were booked to participate in further offshore races have already left. Divers retrieved some personal belongings from the hull earlier this week. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board has spoken to crew members as part of its preliminary inquiry into why the canting keel snapped, resulting in a sudden loss of stability.

The board has been liaising with authorities in the Cayman Islands, where the maxi yacht, worth between $10 million (€7 million) and $14 million, is registered.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club will conduct its own review of the Rambler 100 capsize. -- Lorna Siggins in the Irish Times:

www.irishtimes.com

Sovereign Ski Topper World Championship
Photo by Gareth Craig, fotosail.com. Click on image for photo gallery.

Topper World Championship Sailors arrived for the final day of the 2011 Sovereign Ski Topper World Championship at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland to be greeted by yet another day of calm seas and no wind. Those fervently looking at the forecasts were predicting some big winds coming over around 11:00am with a front of rain, but having arrived an hour early at the club based on yesterday's forecast of wind in the morning there were a few weary faces around the dinghy park.

Launching was delayed as the wind stubbornly refused to get going, and then at 10:00am a gentle breeze rustled through. There was rumour of 20 knot winds just down the coast at Wicklow as the PRO gave the decision to launch and the sailors took to the water in eager anticipation. Once again launching was completed quickly and efficiently. As the wind started to fill in, Gold fleet went into sequence at 10:50, which ended in a general recall. Second time around though they were clean away with a big pin end bias as the wind shifted.

The wind increased again slightly, but the rumoured winds over Wicklow hadn't made it to Dun Laoghaire! Before the start of Race 2, a wind shift to the right left the PRO no option but to lay a new course before getting Gold fleet away cleanly for Race 2.

The final race of the championship saw Gold fleet away followed by a general recall for Silver fleet and finally Bronze fleet. As the Bronze fleet completed their final race the rain started falling lightly again and the wind dropped off - the strong winds never came for racing, but as often happens started blowing through the boat park as the boats were being packed away.

After five days of racing in challenging and sometimes frustrating conditions consisting of mainly light and shifty winds coupled with a strong tide, Matt Venables (GBR) proved the man to catch, in the end finishing 33 points ahead of his nearest rival and taking an obligatory dive into the water on his way in to the slip. Laura Gilmore (GBR) came home 1st female. The top three in each fleet were:

Gold fleet:
1. Matt Venables, GBR
2. Robbie Robinson, GBR
3. Patrick Crosbie, IRL

Silver fleet:
1. Joe Henderson, GBR
2. Samantha Foster, GBR
3. Samuel McKay, GBR

Bronze fleet:
1. Thomas Moore, IRL
2. Conrad Parkinson, GBR
3. Oliver Martindale, GBR

During the closing speeches, Bill Brassington, President of the International Topper Class Association, announced that the 2012 Topper World Championship will be held at the Sailing Club Workum, in the Netherlands, from August 19th to the 24th. For 2013 the World Championship will travel to the beautiful island of Namhae in South Korea and for 2014 back to the UK and the waters of Tremadog Bay and the Lyn peninsular, hosted by Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club. -- Phil Harland

www.nyc.ie/sovereignskitopperworlds2011/

Palermo to Montecarlo Race
At mid-day on Thursday 18 August, 25 yachts all over 34 ft lined up for the start of the 7th edition of the Palermo-Montecarlo race in Mondello Bay in a 7 knot north-easterly breeze.

From the outset, the most competitive challengers led the way, such as the maxi Esimit Europa 2, owned by Igor Simcic, which set a new record last year of 2 days, 52 minutes and 21 seconds. Also noteworthy, the excellent start by Philippe Pizzichini at the helm of Money Time (TP52), winner of the 2011 Smeralda 888 international championship.

Esimit Europa 2 was the first one to cross the finish line of the 500-nautical-mile course. After having achieved line honours at the Giraglia Rolex Cup, the first ever European sports team, composed by some of the best sailors from different European countries, carried the message of unity and cooperation among European peoples to the highest step of the podium for the second time in a row this year.

Igor Simcic's (SLO) crew, skippered by Jochen Schumann (GER), faced a full range of unpredictable conditions and made some spectacular turns while chasing the good winds in the Strait of Bonifacio between Sardinia and Corsica. The navigator Juan Vila (SPA), the tactician Sidney Gavignet (FRA), the helmsman Alberto Bolzan (ITA) and the rest of the team showed that by joining their forces they can truly get the maximum out of the yacht.

This year's regatta, organised by the Circolo della Vela Sicilia in collaboration with the Yacht Club de Monaco, marked the 7th edition of the sport event. The prize-giving ceremony will take place on Tuesday, 23rd August, in the Yacht Club de Monaco

www.esimit.com
www.yacht-club-monaco.mc/en/node/867

Final Voyage
Charles Bertels, founder of Belgian magazine Yachting Sud, died on August 18. He was a jolly and modest man, fond of good beer and bad puns. Behind his congenial nature and his unassuming manners, he proved over forty years to be the most influential person in Belgian sailing. He had been active in the early development of the Europe Class, at the same time instilling a new spirit in cruising-racing with the University of Louvain Yacht Club. He then helped establish the Laser dinghy in Belgium, before involving himself in the Micro Cup Class for twenty years.

Meanwhile he created the Spirou Class, a travelling championship for kids. He eventually imported the Flying Fifteen class in Belgium. He never was a first class sailor, but enjoyed being on the water more and better than most. The small magazine he created 32 years ago was, like him, free from influence and authority. Charles Bertels said his mind and acted accordingly. -- Daniel Charles

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The Last Word
I will never surrender!! I will fight to the last drop of blood!! ... Saif, where is my suitcase of cash? Is the plane fueled? Saif?? Oh crap.... -- Muammar Khaddafy

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