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The waterway between Lanzarote on one side of the Atlantic to the British Virgin Isles on the other measures around 3,000nms and for most intrepid seadogs takes anything from two and six weeks to cross.
If Geoff Holt makes it to Cane Garden Bay in Tortola in January, his log book won't just chronicle the usual steep seas and ghastly storms but the key moments in an emotional journey spanning 25 years to the place where his life changed forever.
In 1984, he sailed into the bay as a beefy 6ft 4in delivery skipper with saltwater running through his veins and a career in professional yachting fully mapped out.
He left in an ambulance after charging down the beach and diving headfirst into shallow water and has been in a wheelchair ever since.
Holt carved out a successful career in marketing then auctioneering before returning to the seas in 2007 to become the first quadriplegic to sail around Britain.
It was a hugely complicated logistical operation, involving 109 days, a shore crew of seven, 1,445 miles and 51 stopovers where his wife Elaine, who was his nurse during rehab and their young son, Tim, were always waiting despite it being one of the stormiest summers on record.
His tales of triumph over adversity, starting with the first hour of his voyage when his boat flipped over in the Solent and he nearly drowned, proved inspirational for many and Holt decided to go a step further with a bigger challenge that would also help him in his quest for closure over his accident.
And so to the Impossible Dream, a 60ft specially-adapted catamaran in which he aims to become the first disabled sailor to complete a single-handed crossing of the Atlantic.
He won't be alone of course since he has to be lifted in and out of bed, needs help dressing and going to the toilet. His carer is a New Zealand nurse called Susana, who has done a bit of sailing but not much while a third hand will look after media demands though nothing else.
"Everything on the boat is push-button technology but if something falls on the floor, I'm not going to wait to be rescued before I ask someone to pick it up," says Holt, 43, who lives in Hampshire.
"If something goes horribly wrong at sea I'm not going to make everyone get in the life raft before I leave the boat. It will be a case of chuck me in the life raft and let's go. I am a husband and a father. There are no medals or accolades for doing this." -- Kate Laven in The Telegraph
Full article: www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/
Home Sailors Sweep The Board
Expected light south-south-westerly winds did not eventuate on Sydney Harbour for the final day of racing on Tuesday, instead a lovely northeaster, mirroring Monday's conditions, eventually filled in, allowing Sail Sydney Principal Race Officer, Tony Denham, to officially get racing started just before 13:00, instead of the planned 10:00.
Hannah Nattrass (AUS), who had gold taken from her in a protest situation on the last day of the regatta last year, was the easy winner this time round in the 29er event, her boyfriend, 470 Olympian Graham Biehl (USA), crewing for her before leaving to resume 470 racing at Sail Melbourne, the first event of the 2009-2010 ISAF Sailing World Cup, due to start in a week.
Former double World Champion and Beijing Olympian Tom Slingsby's (AUS) third in the shortened Laser series was enough for the overall win by three points over New Zealand's Sam Meech, winner of this year's Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship Laser Radial event.
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) stayed focussed in spite of their huge lead in the 49er class - the mark of true professionals. A bullet and a second place just increased their finish points over second placed Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) and Euan McNicol and Tim Austin (AUS).
Beijing Olympic gold medallist in the 470 dinghy class, Malcolm Page (AUS), sailing with his new skipper Mat Belcher (AUS), won the 470 class cleanly. Two of their training partners, Sam Kivell and Will Ryan (AUS) and Stacey Omay and Chelsea Hall (AUS) finished second and third overall respectively in a mixed men's and women's fleet.
Coached by Victor Kovalenko, who has now helped win gold medals for four Australian 470 teams (two apiece at Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008), the three teams are on track for their Olympic and World Championship goals. -- Di Pearson
Top three by class:
Laser Radial Men
Laser Radial Women
Complete results at www.sailsydney.org.au/site/yachting/event/22143/
Spanish Castle To White Night
On the first day the adrenaline was pumping and no one slept much anyway, and by day three the crew was getting into the new rhythm. It was the bit in between that was tough, and on this leg it was not being made any easier by the conditions.
Rick Deppe wrote from PUMA ... "My own theory is that people are still recovering from the physical and mental toll taken on them by Leg 5, there's been no real downtime for months now, so being out here and going between zero and three knots is understandably frustrating."
Ericsson 4's Kiwi watch captain Stu Bannatyne wrote of his own concerns: "In Rio, there was barely enough time to regain weight, let alone any conditioning or strength lost on the previous leg.
"This means that most of the sailors on Leg 6 will still be at sub-optimum physically. Add to this the travelling for the guys that flew home from Rio and it makes for a tough turn around.
Extract taken from the Official Volvo Ocean Race Book - packaged together with the official DVD and available for order now at: www.seahorse.co.uk/shop
Day 1 Of The World Yacht Racing Forum
One of the highlights of the day was the presentation by sports marketing expert Richard Moore (CEO; Capitalize), who confirmed that the global Sports business has been less affected than other industries by the worldwide economic crisis. "The sport industry has increased by 0.4 percent this year and the predictions for next year are for an increase of 11.2 percent. However", he added, "the sport of sailing represents only a marginal percentage of this pie."
Indeed, the sport faces several fundamental issues. "In most disciplines, the revenue is split in three equal thirds that come from hospitality, gate revenues and sponsorship. However sponsorship represents most of the revenue in sailing, and this situation is potentially dangerous."
Managing Director of IFM Sports, Ulrich Lacher confirmed that the yacht racing industry doesn't sit in still waters. "Your sport is difficult to understand", he told the audience. "There are too many series, too many events, different types of boats... What sponsors want nowadays is to know exactly what return they can expect. You need to tell them precisely what your potential is, and what return you can offer them. The potential of sailing is massive yet largely unexploited. The strengths of the sport are the business opportunities it provides, the emotions it generates and the hospitality platform it offers."
Mark Turner, who is one of the industry's most creative event organisers, said the same when he claimed that "our job is not to have fun sailing: it is to sell the passion and the emotions that are unique to sailing. What sponsors want is to entertain. We need to develop strong hospitality programs because sailing provides a platform that is absolutely unique. It is our strongest asset."
More at www.worldyachtracingforum.com
Mundial 40' In Gijon
Ned Collier-Wakefield on Concise is the 2009 World Champion, a title he won in Hamble (England) ahead of Simon Clarke and Felipe Cubillos. Ned is the man to beat (on Akilaria) knowing that Tanguy de Lamotte is back following his recent victory in the Solidaire du Chocolat. The battle should be impressive especially as new boats and new designs will compete for the title. As for the racecourse, Gijon with its proximity to the Cantabrian mountain range can create some interesting surprises with coastal effects and current traps. Everything is possible in the sea in front of this city, which is attracting more and more sailing events...
A complete programme!
Mundial 40' 2010:
Top ten in the 2009 Championship:
Dubarry For Xmas: Get Rid of the Old Boots!
ISAF Match Race Rankings
The big mover at the top in this Ranking release is British triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie (GBR). After finishing as runner up in both the Monsoon Cup and Sunseeker Australia Cup (losing the finals to Minoprio and Mirsky respectively), the TeamOrigin skipper climbs 11 places in this Ranking release to enter the world top 10 for the first time at a career-best Match Race Ranking of #8.
At the ISAF Grade 2 Mumbai International Match Race, Mahesh Ramchandran (IND) showed why he's his country's top ranked skipper by scoring overall victory ahead of Farokh Tarapore (IND). The win helps Ramchandran climb from #45 to #33 in this Ranking release, putting him just behind Brazilian skipper Henrique Haddad.
Claire Leroy (FRA) was back to winning ways this month and remains top of the Women's Rankings for the 39th consecutive release, a run that stretches back to 4 May 2005. A third place in Korea at the ISAF Grade 1 Busan Cup in October was followed by victory this week in the US Virgin Islands at the ISAF Grade 1 Carlos Aguilar Match Race, keeping her in the world #1 spot for now.
However, for the first time in over two years, Leroy's world #1 ranking looks to be seriously under threat. ISAF Sailing World Cup winner Lucy Macgregor (GBR) is quickly closing the ground to the ranking leader, with victory in Korea her seventh ISAF Graded event win of a very successful year. Macgregor is looking particularly well-placed for an assault on the world #1 spot at start of next year, as she is counting such a strong series of scores from the Grade W World Cup events.
Another strong contender for Leroy's crown is the Australian duo of Katie Pellew (nee Spithill) and the current ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion, Nicky Souter. In this Ranking release the pair exchange places, with Pellew climbing to #3 and Souter dropping back to #4, but both remain well placed to take on Leroy's hold of ranking top spot in 2010.
Top ten, open rankings:
Top ten, women's rankings:
Full rankings: www.sailing.org/mrrankings
Challenge Bruno Peyron Around The World
Take the helm of your maxi-multihull, study the weather and your boat's polars, find the right sails (five different configurations are possible) and go into stand-by mode to the north of Ushant for the start marked by the Creac'h Lighthouse...
All you have to do then is set off around the world and try to be back at the Lizard in less than fifty days, 16 hours and 20 minutes in order to beat the record set by Bruno Peyron and the crew of Orange 2, which is still the outright record today. All of the information you require for the adventure is supplied and updated in real time on the screen of your computer or iPhone: wind direction and speed, bearing and boat speed, compass directions, weather supplied by the prestigious American NOAA...
It is completely free to enter the game and in order to ensure that everyone is on an equal footing, there are no paying options.
Gladwell's Line: Monsoon Cup Coverage Sets New Standards
The 2009 edition of the Monsoon Cup, the final and richest regatta in terms of prizemoney on the World Match Racing Tour is produced by Redhanded TV and distributed by Boulder Creek International. This UK led team has been together since the inception of the Monsoon Cup regatta, and are now a well-oiled machine. Their experience and familiarity shine through.
A production team of 27 with a further four on the distribution side ensure that the Monsoon Cup is one of the smoothest run from a Television and Distribution standpoint. All of the team have at least some sailing background, and the crossover of this experience results in a television sailing experience that works for the viewer - achieving that rare combination of action, entertainment and telling the story of the race.
Even those who are not normally match racing fans are enthralled by the action from Terengganu, as the television production literally gives the viewer the best seat in the stadium.
The use of Virtual Eye is now commonplace in top level sailing coverage, with the technology developed over an 18 year period now being extended into fleet racing. Red Handed were one of the first production companies to use Virtual Eye technology. Their experience with the product developed by Animation Research Ltd in New Zealand, shows in its very subtle and seamless use in their event coverage.
On board cameras are not particularly new either, having debuted in match racing in the mid nineties, and then extended onto fixed gyroscopic camera placement aboard America's Cuppers and the like.
What sets the Monsoon Cup coverage into a league of its own is the diversity of the angles and devices employed to give the viewer the best possible seat in the house.
Again, the use of handheld or helmet cam, is not new, but in 2009 this technology is linked with an on board commentator - who interacts with the world's foremost race commentator, Peter Montgomery - as well as providing visuals from onboard the competitors. Because the onboard commentator is standing in a fixed position, the camera angle is always changing - giving the viewer the perception of being on board the yacht and, in fact, sitting just behind the helmsman.
Full article at www.sail-world.com
* From Michael Brown: Can someone please explain to me what is the "World Yacht Racing Forum" - who gave it this title and by what right? Who is it aimed at and is it trying to achieve anything of value for the Corinthian racing sailor. As far as I can see it is an attempt to con yet more money out of sponsors to benefit a relatively small number of professional sailors. Money that could be better used to sponsor major events with very large attendances e.g. Cowes Week, Cork Week, Kieler Woche and the like around the world, also for training programmes for young sailors. I would argue that this would provide a far better return in terms of exposure for the sponsors and benefit far larger numbers of yachtsmen.
Vega is a 1927 Fife built by Dickies in Mahogany on oak and designed by William Fife. This boat underwent a complete Restoration in 2003, bills available to view at Bangor. The class still enjoys very competative one design day racing in the Menai Straits.
Brokerage through Dickies International: www.yachtworld.com/dickies/
Complete listing details and seller contact information at
The Last Word
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