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Clean Away
Aurora and Visconte at the start. Photo by Rolex / Kurt Arrigo. Click on image to enlarge.

Rolex Middle Sea Race Valletta, Malta: A low-pressure system moved over the island of Malta Friday night, bringing southerly breeze and thick cloud cover. The 70-boat 2011 Rolex Middle Sea Race fleet filled Valletta's Grand Harbour today with spectators crowding the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens, which offer unsurpassed views of the starting area.  The Royal Malta Yacht Club race committee was set up at Saluting Battery (immediately below the Upper Barrakka Gardens), where the start line ran between a mast on the Battery and an inflatable buoy across the harbour, just off Fort St. Angelo.

The first of four starts, the smaller Class 4 boats, were off at 11.00 CEST in an eight-knot breeze.

The last start, Class 1 - which included the scratch boat, the 100-foot Esimit Europa 2 (SLO), J/V 72, Ran (GBR), the Mills 68 Alegre (GBR), the Swan 80 Bernice Bis (ITA) - took advantage of the building breeze which was up to about 15 knots, though still puffy, to effect a quick exit out of the harbour.

From Grand Harbour, the fleet processed down the coast to a turning mark off St Julian's. Squalls and lightning followed, causing some boats to broach in sudden changing conditions. Around this time the German Open 40, Pogo, was the race's first retirement, out with a torn mainsail.

Heading towards sunset on Sunday evening and a handful of boats in the 2011 Rolex Middle Sea Race fleet have found themselves facing the ultimate drawbridge, the Strait of Messina. With the current having turned adverse, any boats still south of the Strait will need enough wind to get them through - and fortunately for most, there has been more wind than forecast. Otherwise, they'll find the door shut - until the tide turns favourable again.

One boat that made it through is Seawolf, a 38-footer from Gibraltar in Class 4. At 1730, skipper Dave Latham reported they were in great shape with the boat five miles from exiting the Strait, making eight knots over the ground under spinnaker, in a southerly breeze of 14 knots.

Another escapee was Nisida (GBR), skipper Peter Hobbs reported, " We just exited the Strait. We lost a bit of ground on the way up here this morning, having done well overnight. As we approached the narrows we came to a standstill and watched other boats come up towards us. But that happens now and again. Overall we are very happy getting through the Strait in good shape. The weather forecast has borne little relation to what we have received. Certainly we are here quicker than expected."

At 1800, Esimit Europa 2 (SLO), Ran (GBR), and Alegre (GBR) were around the corner at Stromboli and sailing along the top of Sicily - Esimit approaching the northwest tip, near San Vito lo Capo, with Ran, approximately 88 nautical miles behind her, still off the Aeolian Islands, and Alegre a further 21 nautical miles behind, closing slowly. Over half of the fleet is now in the 35-nautical mile stretch of water between the Strait and the turn at Stromboli.

In 2007, George David's Rambler (USA) established the current Course Record of 47 hours, 55 minutes, 3 seconds.

In order to beat this record the first boat must finish by approximately 11.30 CEST Monday, 24 October.

www.rolexmiddlesearace.com

Transat 6.50
The Intertropical Convergence Zone is now spread all over the fleet (more that 250 miles in latitude). The sailors that are experiencing very difficult sailing conditions are following the unconventional routes... Eric Llull (566 - Noble Cocoa) is no longer the Series class's leader. David Raison (747 - TeamWork Evolution) is still first in the protos but his chasers Thomas Normand (787 - Financiere de l'Echiquier) and Bertrand Delesne (754 - Zone large) are closing the gap.

Forced - for a short time - to head to the east and the African coast, Llull has attempted everything he could to get out from the tenacious wind hole where he has gotten stuck.

Update on the withdrawals...

This will remain one of the great questions of the 2011 Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50... Why there were so many problems with the rudders, problems that in many cases forced their victims to withdraw. Aurelien Ducroz has had to abandon this morning at Mindelo. David Prono (728 - Get it Right - www.esi-group.com) told the race director that in addition to its torn starboard rudder, there was a leak at the fittings. Brendan Archin (757 - Association La touline) also confirmed his withdrawal from the race. The Swedish Ulf Brandstrom (772 - GRPMS.com) ends his race for health reasons, his infected knee does not allow him to carry on. 7 Series boats are officially out of the race, to which will probably be added the unfortunate Bruno Simonnet who is on his way to Cape Verde. On Protos side, Aurelien Ducroz now is the fourth skippers to withdraw from race.

www.charentemaritime-bahia.transat650.net

Transat Jacques Vabre D - 7
Huge crowds enjoyed the build up around Le Havre's Paul Vatine Basin as the countdown to the start of the tenth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre moved inside 7 days until the start gun will sound. In the pleasant Autumn sunshine which blessed Haute Normandy, the walk around the docks was even more enjoyable and clearly visitors took their time to meander among the race boats, the activities and the many displays. 65 000 visitors were recorded over the weekend.

The 20 crew (40 sailors) which passed through Saturday to make the finals of the regatta exhibition Virtual Regatta then had to don their work clothes to go on the water. The races rolled on all the afternoon in a breeze gusting to about fifteen knots. Thomas Ruyant and Stéphane Le Diraison (Bureau Veritas - Dunkerque Plaisance) overhauled Arnaud Boissieres and his stand-in teammate Alexis Littoz, who replaced Gerald Véniard (Akena Verandas) and the two Loïcs – Fequet and Escoffier aboard Maître Jacques.

And so all three classes (Class 40, Imoca and Multi50) are all represented on the podium. The skippers have really enjoyed the game of short sprints on the windward-leeward course on the basin of the Eure. Now all that remains is the seven days to prepare for the start, next Sunday at 13:02hrs local time.

Monday and Tuesday, some of the race sailors will take time to go home to relax away from the hubbub of the dock and prepare their personal kit. They will be back in Le Havre Wednesday when they will attend the safety briefing.

Others have deliberately chosen to remain close to their boats to monitor the latest odds and ends or fulfill public and media requirements on behalf of their sponsors.

October 30, 1:02 p.m.: Start of the 10th Transat Jacques Vabre

First arrivals IMOCA Multi50 and Costa Rica from November 14, Class40 from November 22  

The defending champions 2009 (20 registered)

IMOCA:
Safran, Marc Guillemot - Charles Caudrelier Benac
Finished on 24/11/2009 in 15 days, 19 hours, 22 minutes and 10 seconds
at 12.46 knots average

Multi 50:
Winner: Crepes Whaou! Franck Yves Escoffier - Erwan Le Roux
Finished on 24/11/2009 in 15 days, 15 hours, 31 minutes and 50 seconds
at 13.41 knots average   

www.transat-jacques-vabre.com

Dubarry Sligo - Dash of a Different Kind
Dubarry Sligo Maturity's a directional thing - not that everything's going south you understand, but with wisdom and experience, you move up the professional ladder and back in the boat. Tearing around the foredeck is great for kids but it takes the brains at the back to make the right calls. Dubarry's new Sligo reflects your style and seniority in five stylish colourways, with its seasoned, quick-drying leather and classy waxed canvas upper, comfortable footbed to calmly absorb any shocks, and award-winning sole to give your decisions a firm footing. Dubarry Sligo - the only deck shoe you'll ever need.

www.dubarry.com

VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race
Audi ultra at the finish. Photo by RHKYC / Lindsay Lyons. Click on image to enlarge.

VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race At 09 39 24hrs (HKT) Audi ultra finally coasted across the finish line in Nha Trang to claim line honours in one of Asia's toughest races. Her elapsed time of 43h 44m 24s was less than one hour outside Skandia's seven year old record, which, given the demands of the race, was a phenomenal performance by the slightly smaller maxi.

Crew reported several severe squalls during the race, particularly overnight, and there will be some repairs to be carried out in due course, not surprising for a trip averaging around 15kts boat speed.

Three hours after the race finish, although at anchor in the lee of Hon Tre Island, the crew was still fully occupied on board, substituting the delivery main for the race main and tidying up the boat, so it has not yet been possible to get Ludde Ingvall's thoughts on Audi ultra's performance.

The next boat expected with an ETA of 1503hrs HKT is Neil Pryde's Hi Fi, which looks certain to defend her IRC title of 2008.

Yellowbrick tracking is on board all the competitors, updated at 30 minute intervals, and can be viewed at live.adventuretracking.com/HKVN2011

The leaderboard, showing ETA and estimated corrected times for all the fleet can be viewed at live.adventuretracking.com/Leaderboard/HKVN2011

VOR Rule Breach Applications Rejected
Two formal submissions by teams competing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, claiming that the race organisers had breached protocol by changing one of the strict Volvo Open 70 measurement rules, have been dismissed by an independent arbitration panel. Two applications were made to the arbitration panel claiming the Volvo Open 70 Rule Interpretation Group (VIG) had, in interpreting a class rule, changed that rule, something that is not permitted by the class rules and the Volvo Ocean Race Notice of Race.

"Specifically, the three teams believed that the VIG had overstepped its jurisdiction by interpreting Volvo Open 70 Class rule 10.1.9, in such a way as to change another rule, 10.1.6, which outlaws the use of any kind of adjustable standing rigging on the yachts."

At the heart of the collective application is believed to be the forestay system employed on the CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand boat, which the Abu Dhabi, PUMA and Telefonica purported is adjustable and could give CAMPER an unfair advantage during the 39,000 nautical mile race around the world.

The independent arbitration panel was chaired by British ISAF International Judge and arbitration specialist, Bryan Willis, who called on Australia's David Tillet, an ISAF International Judge and Chairman of the ISAF Racing Rules Committee, along with Brian McKenzie a barrister at law and solicitor from New Zealand, to help him make a ruling.

Before deliberating on the matter, the expert team requested written submissions from all interested parties. Input was subsequently provided by PUMA, Groupama sailing team and the VIG chairman Andy Claughton. A response from CAMPER by Emirates Team New Zealand rules advisor Russell Green included a statement by co-skipper Stuart Bannatyne. No oral hearing took place.

The official decision of the panel released today stated:

"The AP is not satisfied that the VIG acted outside its jurisdiction in giving its interpretations, or that they have changed any Rule. The Applications are therefore dismissed."

volvooceanrace.com

Decision Time for the Main Pack of GOR Class40s
Week Four (17-23 October) of the double-handed, Class40 Global Ocean Race (GOR) began with a fast dash south for the fleet leaders, Campagne de France and BSL, as a high-pressure system north-east of the Falkland Islands was forecast to spread across the South Atlantic and close the door for a downwind ride to the Leg 1 finish line in Cape Town.

Early on Saturday morning, Ross and Campbell Field took the lead, ending Mabire and Merron's  24-days at the front of the fleet as the gap between  BSL and Campagne de France and the following pack opened to 1,000 miles with the four chasing Class40s hammered by headwinds gusting over 30 knots.

With 1,100 miles remaining to the Cape Town finish line for the leaders, the final week at sea and the Leg 1 title will be decided by sheer determination, boat reliability and stamina. At 15:00 GMT on Sunday, BSL and Campagne de France were separated by 17 miles with Ross and Campbell Field sailing 50 miles to windward of Mabire and Merron averaging just under nine knots.

The four Class40s over 1,000 miles to the north-west of the leaders are now confronted with the centre of the high-pressure system 300 miles to the south, directly in their path. Conrad Colman and Hugo Ramon in third place with Cessna Citation have been making painful tacks to the east over the weekend while Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs on Financial Crisis and the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire on Phesheya-Racing have remained on port tack, heading west of south.

globaloceanrace.com

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

Running The Rhumblines
The year of 1998 remains indelible in the minds of Australian sailors particularly those who experienced the mood swing of Bass Strait in its wildest moment.

Both Bass Strait and the Tasman Sea have never been rated as the most pleasant places to be when the storm winds torment the sea surface turning the challenge of the crossing into a test of personal survival.

Mackay seafarer Bob Thomas who has often said he prefers to sail in the warmer waters off Mackay and in the Whitsunday Islands has the career distinction of winning the navigators trophy when he and the co owner of Midnight Rambler Ed Psaltis won the 1998 Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race.

That enormous struggle to beat the threat of growling white crested waves and the roaring gales remain with every sailor who was at sea when the wild weather turned the 1998 blue water classic into a massive rescue mission.

What the fleet can expect in terms of weather this year has not interrupted the pre-race preparations for the crews of the Whitsunday Sailing Club entries Merit (Leo Rodriguez) and the Terry Archer helmed Questionable Logic.

They have lodged their entry which is yet to be officially confirmed by race management and safety officers.

However Merit which flew the now famous spinnaker with the words "We would rather be sailing in the Whitsundays" last year and Questionable Logic are expected to be official competitors when the fleet set sail on Boxing Day.

Meanwhile the year 1998 is remembered by Whitsunday Sailing Club officials and their happy team of volunteers who successfully hosted the Hog's Breath World Hobie 16 catamaran championships on Pioneer Bay.

The regatta committee headed by Don Algie, Miles Wood and Geoff Smith set the foundation in place for the Whitsunday Sailing Club, Pioneer Bay and Airlie Beach to be internationally exposed as a World standard sailing venue.

Naturally South Africa's Blane Dodds and Steve Arnold winners of the open men's championship and the Australian crew of Kerry Ireland and Jacinta Tonner the open female champions both unanimously agreed that the venue was a perfect choice.

Sure their compliments at the time were appreciated by the club officials who understand they have a top class dinghy and yacht racing facility yet apart from hosting the Australian Sabot and Tasar championships and the annual Airlie Beach Race Week the excellent venue appears to have fallen from favour with the class associations.

Generally the decisions favour the clubs who support class racing but most of those clubs fail to compare with the Whitsunday Sailing Clubs access to a tourism related community which offers a selection of accommodation, restaurants and fast food outlets within a casual walk from the rigging area. -- Ian Grant

An Evening with Geoff Holt
There are now only 3 weeks before the first "An Evening With Geoff" takes to the stage and there are a few tickets left.  The two charity events are open to the public and offer a rare chance to hear Geoff tell his inspirational story and raise money for 4 worthwhile charities.  Individuals and businesses are encouraged to attend to support these worthwhile local causes. See below for dates and costs.

"We've got a great show lined up" says Geoff. "The format is different to my usual talks and we are going to have a lot of fun. There are some great money-can't-buy auction and raffle prizes too, music and great food, I'm really looking forward to meeting so many new people and raising money for some really worthwhile causes".

Saturday 12th November 2011, Royal Maritime Club, Portsmouth from 7.30pm in aid of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and Simon Says charity. Black tie dinner. Tickets priced £45 (standard) and £65 (VIP champagne reception). Enquiries to

Wednesday 23rd November, Langstone Cliff Hotel, Dawlish from 7.00pm in aid of the SW Multiple Sclerosis Centre (Exeter) and the Disabled Sailing Association (Torquay). Tickets £10. Enquiries 01392 447411

geoffholt.com

Paul Cayard Inducted into U.S. National Sailing Hall of Fame
At the inaugural ceremony this evening in San Diego, Paul Cayard was among 15 sailing greats inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame.

Having started sailing at the age of seven, Paul Cayard has become one of the best known American sailors of his time. A seven-time world champion, two-time Olympian, Round the World race winner and a veteran of six America's Cups, Cayard is also the CEO of Artemis Racing - Challenger of Record for the 34th America's Cup.

This evening's ceremony recognized the tremendous contribution made to sailing by individuals such as Joshua Slocum and Olin Stephens, as well as living legends Buddy Melges and Lowell North, to name just a few.

Based in Annapolis, Maryland, the National Sailing Center & Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational institution dedicated to preserving the history of sailing, honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to American sailing while also inspiring and encouraging sailing development.

Over the past year, Paul's father Pierre Cayard completely restored the El Toro which he built for his son in 1968, the start of his foray into sailing. This evening, Pierre Cayard presented El Toro #6168 to the NSHOF for display in the museum in Annapolis for generations to come. "On this very special occasion, I was able to be joined by my parents and my children which meant a lot to me," said Paul. "It is a fairy tale story. I got into sailing by chance when a second grade class mate took me one day. Sailing became my passion, then my vocation. Life is a journey and I have been blessed with an amazing ride."

In a few short weeks Cayard and Artemis Racing will return to San Diego for the America's Cup World Series which begins on 16 November, the first event of this Cup cycle to take place in the US

Meet Me On The Holodeck
Today Microsoft Research released a rather fascinating demonstration of one of its projects, what it calls a 'holodesk,' which has the potential to change the way we physically interact with digital items. Sounds trippy? That's because it is. The user, looking down on a pane of glass, sees items (balls, blocks, whatever) on that screen. With their hands underneath the glass, they can move their appendages and digits and prod those images as if they were directly touching them.

It's a bridge, essentially, between the physical and the digital. Microsoft dubs the idea at the "research project" stage only, so don't get your hopes up about getting one for yourself.

Now, if this is only a research project, why does it matter? Microsoft, as a company, is working on all fronts to build on what it calls 'natural user interfac[ing]." What this means is that the firm is looking past the keyboard and mouse and is instead working with touch, voice, and so forth.

At any rate, the video was worth the watch on its own. Still, it's hard not to wish that more of what Microsoft Research was market-ready. I want to play pinball on that sucker. And Starcraft 2. -- Alex Wilhelm in TheNextWeb:

thenextweb.com

Featured Brokerage
Featured Brokerage Boat Farr 80 NZL20 Racing Yacht. NZ$ 500,000. Located In Auckland, New Zealand.

Iconic IACC yacht. One of the most revolutionary yachts designed. Bruce Farr creation with tandem keel and rudder joined to bulb keel, designed for San Diego series in 1990's. Had potential to win the Cup but stumbled in the semi-finals. She has been impeccably maintained by current owner who sails her when in NZ. She has raced in the Millenium Cup and is a regular sight on the Harbour when the Louis Vuitton Cup is on in NZ. Currently on the hard stand in Auckland NZ.

Brokerage through All Boat Brokerage Ltd.: www.yachtworld.com/allboat/

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

The Last Word
Sometimes life is merely a matter of coffee and whatever intimacy a cup of coffee affords. -- Richard Brautigan

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