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For the Transat Jacques Vabre race fleet Sunday's start looms ever larger on the horizon and Le Havre today was a mix of quiet activity and building anticipation. The analysis of the weather now promises some very muscular, challenging conditions as this biennial race often delivers.
Three days before start from Le Havre, bound for Puerto Limon in Costa Rica, the weather situation is starkly clear and it is not appealing. The first 24 hours of racing in the Channel are likely to be in moderate winds of the S-SW'ly, conditions will then deteriorate under the influence of a big depression coming from Newfoundland.
As it stands Sunday at 1302hrs Sunday, the start in the bay of Le Havre, the 36 competitors in the Transat Jacques Vabre 2011 should be treated to relatively mild weather with cloudy skies, with SW'ly winds of 10 to 12 knots.
This direction will press them towards the English coast of the Channel and towards the depression from Newfoundland and will reach the coast of Ireland with winds building Monday and Tuesday, reaching 35 to 40 knots and more as front passes on Wednesday morning . The sea, it will be big and, at times confused.
The co-skippers do not seem to have any other option than to follow this NW'ly routing. The weather situation is changing every day and if the big depression moves it could open a door to the south.
Friday morning, at the request of the Class 40, all the skippers in this class plan to meet the Race Director Jean Maurel to discuss the weather situation with him.
Outside of its French roots, the appeal of the imminent Transat Jacques Vabre remains as strong, if not stronger than ever.
In fact the international entry, in terms of the number of different non-French nationalities represented across the three classes is at its highest of this millennium.
Co-skippers from nine different countries, other than France, are scheduled to line up on Sunday's start line - Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Slovenia, the USA.
The 2007 edition had entries from four nations besides France, in 2005 there were seven, in 2003 and 2001 it was eight. Predictably, so far the international strength remains in the IMOCA Open 60 Class and Class 40.
* Dominique Wavre and Michele Paret are calm and collected three days out from the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre. Preparations continue onboard Mirabaud, but the pace is steady, as the bulk of the work has already been done.
"We are bang on schedule," said Dominique Wavre. "We have completed all the checks and inspections, including the security checks, and the measurers have sealed a few things that we are forbidden to touch while racing. Our provisions are onboard and while we have a few small things to pack, we are basically ready."
The trans-Atlantic should take approximately two weeks so the yacht is in "light" mode. "We only have 200kg on board for this race, compared to 600kg for the Barcelona World Race," explained Michele Paret. "We have the same number of sails, but a lot less spare parts, clothing and food. We will notice a distinct difference in performance."
In order to be in the best possible shape for the start, Dominique and Michele are making the most of their last days ashore to rest, eat healthily and finalise the final few details. They are also running through the different phases of the race in their minds.
"Sadly, we can't stockpile sleep," said Dominique, laughing. "But we are making sure that we sleep properly and eat well before the start. On Saturday we will try to do as little as possible. The day will be dedicated to resting and focussing on what is to come."
* When Mike Golding sets off on Sunday 30 October for his seventh consecutive Transat Jacques Vabre, armchair sailors can now follow him all the way with the launch of the Gamesa Sailing Team iPhone/iPad and Android app.
With the newly released app, supporters can catch up with all the latest news from Golding and his co-skipper, Bruno Dubois, onboard the newly modified IMOCA 60, Gamesa, watch the latest videos, as well as track them every step of the way as they take part in the 10th edition of the TJV race.
Download the iPhone/iPad app here: itunes.apple.com
Download the Android app here: market.android.com
In addition to the race data, videos, news and photos, the Gamesa Sailing Team will also be running three competitions over the course of the Atlantic crossing, for supporters to guess how far Mike and Bruno will sail over the course of a 24 hour period. The person closest will win a signed Gamesa Sailing Team t-shirt and everyone who enters will go in to a draw to win a Musto Sardinia Gamesa Sailing Team Jacket.
More Than Just an Ocean Race
Saturday's Iberdrola In-Port Race marks the start of over eight months of full-on competition and intense rivalry between the six teams - Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, Groupama sailing team, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, Team Sanya and Team Telefonica.
And while the Volvo Ocean Race is known as the world's premier offshore sailing test, teams cannot afford to ignore the shorter form. In-port races take place in all 10 host ports along the 39,000 nautical mile route and deliver over 20 percent of the points. Sailed close to the shore, they provide a spectacle for the millions of people who will watch the race worldwide, while also providing opportunities to climb the leaderboard.
* The crews who will compete in the opening battle of the Volvo Ocean Race - the Iberdrola In-Port Race - have been named by the six competing teams. As required by the race rules each team must name their 11 crewmembers 48 hours in advance of each race - and here they are...
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing:
Ian Walker, GBR - Helmsman
CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand:
Chris Nicholson, AUS - Skipper
Groupama sailing team:
Franck Cammas, FRA - Skipper
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG:
Ken Read, USA - Skipper/helm
Mike Sanderson, NZL - Skipper / Helm
Iker Martínez, ESP - Skipper
If you want to design the world's best offshore sailing boot, you don't fanny around in a lab. You go to the Southern Ocean. So Dubarry did, onboard Green Dragon. They learned plenty, then they made the new Dubarry Crosshaven boot. It's got a hard-wearing waterproof built-in gaiter with top draw-cord, which keeps water out of the GORE-TEX® Duratherm waterproof thermal insulation inside. The toe and heel are as tough as the sole and they're part of Dubarry's unique D-chassis system, developed using Formula 1 technology to deliver maximum support.
Dubarry Crosshaven - boots born in the Southern Ocean.
Unbeatable in Protos and Unpredictable Series
Unbeatable David Raison (747 - TeamWork Evolution)! Sailing each hour one knot faster than his chasers, he continues to increase his lead and may consider an arrival on Sunday evening. The fight for the heir's place is fiercer than ever. Unpredictable: the struggle between production boats with 10 leading boats in thirty miles.
Off the island of Fernando da Noronha, David can smell the first South American's scents. Bahia is now only about 670 miles away from him, to his current speed that means a little more than three days at sea.
24 hours ago, Benoit Mariette (599 - Odalys Vacances), on the direct route seemed able to capitalize his dozen miles ahead, to make certain his chances of victory in Salvador de Bahia. But the doldrums that again triggered important storm phenomena with squalls to over 45 knots, has shuffled the deck again for a compact group of 10 sailors.
Top three in Series at 1600 UTC October 27
Top three in Protos
Olympic Womens Skiff Trials Prototype
The boat utilizes the 49er hull, foils and boom with a new sailplan designed to suit the ISAF specified target weight of 110-130kg.
The wide beam of the 49er wings and 900mm lower rig gives the Mackay Womens High Performance Skiff Trials entrant unexpected stbility.
Two New Zealand sailors the diminutive Alex Maloney, an ISAF Youth Silver medallist on the 29er class, and Molly Meech a top female youth sailor in the Laser Radial class have been working through the test sail process under the eyes of David Mackay and John Clinton.
Mackay and Clinton, now work together at Mackay Boats, recognised as one of the top builders of Olympic boats in the 470 and 49er classes, and the company was recognised in 2008 with a award from yachting New Zealand recognising the company's achievement in building all three medal winners in the Mens, Gold and Bronze in the Womens 470, plus the gold in the Mens 49er class.
Clinton was previously with Southern Spars, overseeing much of the development of their dinghy spar technology. He is also part of yachting NZ's Olympic coaching team.
Surprisingly the Mackay boat is not some new creation developed as the ultimate Womens HP Skiff - rather it is the same 49er hull used for the Mens event, but with a smaller rig. A similar concept to the Mens Laser and Womens Laser Radial, if you will.
The commonality of equipment concept, with the well-established Mens 49er class wgich made its debut at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, is is vital to the Mackay prototype, and gives the boat some major competitive advantages. -- Richard Gladwell in Sail-World.com.
Full article at: www.sail-world.com
Gunning for the GOR Cape Town Finish Line
While the final miles for the leading pair of Class40s has been exceptionally tough with squalls delivering two knockdowns for BSL, the pack of four Class40s strung out in a line 670 miles across the middle of the South Atlantic remain frustrated by the collapsing high-pressure system blocking their route to the finish.
After 32 days and 6,700 miles of racing through the Mediterranean and North and South Atlantic, the final route into Cape Town has been exhausting for the Fields on BSL and Mabire and Merron on Campagne de France. Having opted for a southerly approach to the finish in the hope of finding stronger breeze, the Fields found between 20-48 knots with sustained periods of 30-25 knots.
West of Cape Town by a little under 2,000 miles, the main pack in the GOR fleet are staring at an area of light breeze separating the four Class40s from a quick route to the finish line. In fourth place with Paul Peggs on Financial Crisis, Marco Nannini explains the scenario: "There's little anyone of us can do about this high-pressure," admits the Italian skipper. "Cessna further east will have their path blocked and will have to come south at some stage; Nico Budel [Sec. Hayai] is driving south to this big park up and Phesheya is approaching the pay-and-display area from the north-west." The outlook appears bleak: "As none of us will be able to outsail this system, we all have to wait for it to dissipate and the new wind to fill."
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Japan Tsunami Debris Floating Across Pacific
A Russian training ship spotted the junk - including a refrigerator, a television set and other appliances - in an area of the Pacific Ocean where the scientists from the university's International Pacific Research Centre predicted it would be. The biggest proof that the debris is from the Japanese tsunami is a fishing boat that's been traced to the Fukushima Prefecture, the area hardest hit by the March 11 disaster.
Jan Hafner, a scientific computer programmer, told The Associated Press today (NZ time) that researchers' projections show the debris would reach the coasts of Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Canada around 2014.
They estimate the debris field is spread out across an area that's roughly 3200 kilometres long and 1600km wide located between Japan and Midway Atoll, where pieces could wash up in January. Just how much has already sunk and what portion is still floating is unknown.
The scientists want boaters venturing in the area of the debris to send them details about what they see. Researchers want to know details such as GPS position, time, weather and descriptions of the items.
"We are trying to get across our message that it is coming and it's about time to start planning some action," Hafner said. -- Jennifer Sinco Kelleher
New Operational Base for the Ellen Macarthur Cancer Trust
Dean & Reddyhoff, who have four marina's on the South coast, including Portland, Haslar, Weymouth and East Cowes, have supported the Trust over the last three years, providing free berthing for the Trust's yacht, Moonspray. The Marina will now act as a permanent operational base for the Trust, who plans to run all of their summer yacht trips from the new centre in 2012.
The Trust has recently celebrated their busiest year to date, having taken 302 young people on their life changing sailing trips in 2011, and with more trips planned than ever in 2012, the Dean & Reddyhoff Marina will form a vital part of the Trust's growth.
The Trust, established by Dame Ellen MacArthur in 2003 aims to inspire children's recovery from cancer and serious illness, and offers opportunities for young people aged eight to 24 to take part in a range of sailing-based activities, including the Trust's traditional four-day Solent sailing trips and the Competent Crew courses, which will now operate from the new East Cowes base.
Irish Vessel to be Exchanged with Six Dhows
A century-old Irish sailing boat has been loaded into a container to start a journey to the UAE as part of the Abu Dhabi leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.
In exchange, six traditional Arabian dhows will be sent to the Irish city of Galway for the finish of the race in July next year.
Nora Bheag is being brought to Abu Dhabi as part of the Maritime Heritage Cultural Exchange initiative, organised by Emirates Heritage Club and the Galway Hooker Association, and coordinated by the Irish expatriate Peter Vine.
This will be the first time the UAE has taken part in the race. Mr Vine said he strongly believed the Abu Dhabi boat Azzamwould win.
"It's going to be an exciting occasion and a huge celebration when the boats reach the shores of Galway, especially because the links between the UAE and Ireland, in business and in culture, are so strong," he said.
Padraic de Bhaldraithe, who co-authored the book Glorious Galway - Gaillimh na Seod about the history and revival of traditional Irish boats, said there were many similarities between the two types of boat.
"Nora Bheag was originally rigged with a dipping lugsail, which is not too dissimilar to the lateen sails on the dhows," Mr de Bhaldraithe said.
Both were put to similar uses, including personal transport and fishing. The hookers were also handy for moving peat, which was used for fuel.
The term "hooker" refers to four classes of traditional sailing boats from the west coast of Ireland. They all have black hulls with distinctive dark red-brown or black sails. Nora Bheag is the smallest type, known as a pucan, and was built in 1916. -- Marie-Louise Olson
Fun and fast, this Sportboat is Ideal for match racing.
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The Last Word
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