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Serious Conditions Ahead as Agulhas Current Comes Into Play
As night falls on the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, the notorious Agulhas current will come into play. Thirty-knot winds will whip six-metre waves into a hurling mass, caused by the wind blowing against the direction of the current. And it's much more difficult when it's dark.

The crews will not have time to acclimatise to the sea state during daylight hours. The boats will be on a fast reach, leaping off waves that the helmsmen can barely see, helped only by the light of a big moon and clear skies. It will be essential to play the waves, but these could be boat-breaking conditions.

Ken Read will be very aware of what can happen. It was on this leg in the 2008-09 race, which took the fleet from Cape Town to Cochin in India that PUMA's Il Mostro launched off a wave and landed with a sickening thud, damaging the main longitudinal frame. Ian Walker also ran into trouble on this leg previously when his boat, Green Dragon broke her steering gear and crashed into a horrendous Chinese gybe and, later, when a 50-knot gust ripped through the fleet, her boom snapped.

All this to look forward to tonight, meanwhile the past 12 hours or so have been very complicated. The fleet has continued to be in sight of each other, as they tacked down the coast of South Africa, something very unusual and unexpected in this race.

At 1600 UTC this afternoon, Groupama 4 became the new leader from Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson/NZL) and PUMA's Mar Mostro and held onto her lead at 1900 UTC tonight. CAMPER moved back up to second place, relegating PUMA's Mar Mostro to third. Team Sanya is now the back marker, having lost 28 nm by being becalmed in torrential rain.

ISAF Worlds Daily Wrap
Photo by Richard Langdon/Ocean Images, Click on image for photo gallery.

Perth Strong afternoon offshore winds of 20 knots or more proved a challenge for sailors on Day 11 of the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, with 10 capsizes in the 49er class and the withdrawal of Star Olympic champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson on Tuesday.


Percy and Simpson were forced to withdraw from the day's races and say they may not sail again at the Perth 2011 ISAF World Championships.

Percy had been suffering back pain after Monday's races but was determined to finish the first race today. However, when he and Simpson received their second yellow flag of the regatta, Percy was brought to shore for treatment.

Shortly after the race, Percy said on his Twitter account: "My back fully went today half way through the first race. Unfortunately the end of the championships and the beginning of a few weeks of physio."

After six races, Scheidt and Prada move into first position overall. Mendelblatt and Faith (USA) and Kusznierewicz and Zycki (POL) trail the Brazilians by only one point.


Laser world champion Tom Slingsby (AUS) has set himself apart from the rest of the fleet with three wins out of four races in competition at the ISAF Worlds in Perth.

Under ominous skies and on a day where one race went for 10 minutes before it was restarted because of a significant 20-degree wind shift, Slingsby was like lightning, streaking away from the fleet.

Slingsby was the only double winner and sits alone on single figures with nine points while his closest rivals are British sailors Paul Goodison (18 points) and Nick Thompson (19 points) and Germany's Simon Groteluschen (19 points).

Women's Match Racing

Women's Match Racing was charged with excitement and devastation in equal measures on Tuesday as places in the quarterfinals and the London 2012 Olympic Games Sailing Competition were finalised with the end of Stage 2.

It was an important day for all teams in the repechage round robin and perhaps a night of celebration for elated teams from Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and Portugal, who all secured a place for their country at the Olympic sailing competition at Weymouth and Portland next July.

Stephanie Hazard (NZL-1) and her crew got through early in the day after just two matches and were pleased with their performances despite being beaten by ESP-1. A close win against USA-2 in the last lap secured their spot.

Sweden's Anna Kjellberg and her crew got their country an Olympic place after beating Portugal and Denmark (DEN-1).

It was a nail biting finish as the final place in the Olympics was decided in the very last match of the day. Screams of delight came from the stand when the Portuguese team realised they had succeeded, thanks to Nicky Souter (AUS-1) beating Finland.


After a hard day of dramatically fluctuating winds and more than 10 capsizes in the racing, Denmark's Peter Kruger Andersen and Nicolai Thorsell are the overall leaders at the end of the second day of competition for the 49ers at the ISAF Worlds.

Wind changes caused huge dramas in the last race of the day resulting in constant course alterations, but this did little to hinder Stephane Christidis and Emmanuel Dyen (FRA) who crossed the line first, 21 seconds ahead of Will and Sam Phillips (AUS).

Favourites to win the last race, Outteridge and Jensen struggled from the start and ended up finishing 13th.

Men's RS:X

Israel's Nimrod Mashich heads the leader board after four races in the Men's RS:X event with two top ranked Polish sailors, including the world number one, just four points behind.

The second day of racing began with Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) leading a good distance ahead of the Blue fleet in race 3, until a lapse led him off track. Dropping from a clear first place down to seventh after the third marker, he wound up in 15th position.

The race went to Zachary Plavsic (CAN), the first win at the Perth 2011 World Championships for the Canadian RS:X team.

Women's 470

Spain's Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos have wrapped up the second day of competition in Women's 470 with wins in races three and four to claim top position overall.

Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout (NED) held on to their second place overall, while Japan's Ai Kondo and Wakato Tabata slipped from first to third in the fleet standings.

An Absorbing Interest
Click on image to enlarge.

An Absorbing Interest The America's Cup A History 1851 - 2003 by Bob Fisher

This collectors, 2-volume boxed set provides a definitive history of the America's Cup from 1851 - 2003. Recently revised, this new edition covers the drama, boat design, personalities and sheer fascination of the America's Cup, from the first race around the Isle of Wight to the 2003 Cup in Auckland. Lavishly illustrated with photographs, cartoons, paintings and figures, the subject represents a lifetime's work by author and historian Bob Fisher.

The work contains full records of all races and is made up of 32 Chapters - one for each of the 31 challenges plus one that charts the first event for the One Hundred Pound Cup, presented by the Royal Yacht Squadron as a prize for the regatta, won by the schooner America. In addition there are sidebar stories on the principal competitors and incidents that are part of the story of this international sporting event.

Lavishly illustrated
The beautiful illustrations for this book are drawn from a wide variety of sources. These include charts of the courses for the early races, line drawings, cartoons and caricatures, etchings, lithographs, paintings and a considerable number of photographs, both monochrome and coloured; all chosen to complement the text.

The true account of the Cup
Traditionally, history is written by the victors and produces a one-sided view. The America's Cup had, for 132 years, only one victor and every major work on the subject reflected this. Since 1983, when Alan Bond's wing-keeled Australia II finally broke the New York YC's grip on the 'Auld Mug', the Cup's progress has been far more international nature but still recorded by the winning teams for their own glorification. An Absorbing Interest retraces the history from all aspects, correcting those glaring errors that have arisen previously. It is carefully researched, using contemporary sources beyond those of the yacht clubs that have challenged for and defended the Cup

Author Bob Fisher is yachting correspondent for the Guardian and Observer and writes for sailing magazines worldwide. He was chairman of the Yachting Journalists Association and has been covering the America's Cup ever since his own victory in The Little America's Cup earned him the opportunity to cover the Cup in 1967.

Priced £250.00 Sterling + P&P

Read in Flipping Book format:

Volume 1

Volume 2

Order from: South Atlantic Publishing.

Visit Finland Ends Gold Coast Australia Winning Streak
Clipper At the end of a hard fought race from Tauranga, New Zealand, in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, Visit Finland has denied the home favourite, Gold Coast Australia, their sixth consecutive victory and a coveted home port win.

The Finns crossed the Race 6 finish line just after sunrise at 0444 local time Mondaywith the sun glinting off the distinctive high-rise skyline. They were just six minutes ahead of Gold Coast Australia at the end of the 1,300-mile race.

For Tasmanian skipper, Richard Hewson and the crew of Gold Coast Australia, the arrival in their home port is bitter sweet. The warmth of the welcome, as Southport Yacht Club members, family and friends applauded them up the pontoon to the club house where breakfast awaited them, countered by the disappointment of such a narrow defeat to Visit Finland.

The record of six consecutive victories in a single edition of the race, which is now in its 15th year, has stood since Clipper 98.

De Lage Landen finished third, one hour and nine minutes after the Australian team and while Gold Coast Australia and Visit Finland consolidate their first and second positions respectively at the top of the overall leader board, the Dutch team's result is enough to lift them back to third place.

The yachts will be open to the public during the stopover, with open boat sessions on Saturday 17, Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 December. There will also be presentations for Queenslanders interested in finding out how to take part in Clipper 13-14 and beyond at Moreton Bay Yacht Club, Scarborough, and at Southport Yacht Club, Gold Coast.

The fleet will set sail for Singapore in Race 7 of the 15-race series on Christmas Eve. All ten yachts will sail in formation along Main Beach in a Parade of Sail from the Gold Coast Seaway to Southport SLSC before the race start, which will take place at 11.30am on 24 December.

25th Anniversary Phuket King's Cup Regatta
Going into the last day everything was still to play for with many classes wide open. The strongest winds of the week were forecast for the final day and they turned up perfectly on cue.

The conditions played into "Team Premier's" hands today as skipper Hannes Weimer and crew took a win from the first race and a second in the final race to conclude the series as IRC Zero Class winner on 13 points, ahead of Neil Pryde's "Hi Fi" and Sam Chan's "Freefire" in second and third respectively. Today's racing was sponsored by PTT Group.

IRC 1 Class has been thrilling throughout the week with so many strong entries from around the world. Yasuo Nanamori and his all-Japanese "Karasu" team delivered a consistent performance taking first in the class. Steve Manning's "Walawala 2" scored a second and a first on the final day to take second place overall, from Singapore entry "KukuKERchu", skippered by David Ross, in third.

The IRC 1 Class was arguably the most competitive of all with 13 boats and sailors of 17 different nationalities. Winning entry "Karasu" is the first-ever all-Japanese team to win their class at the Phuket King's Cup Regatta.

Thailand scored a magnificent victory in IRC 2 Class, as Chief Petty Officer First Class Wiwat Poonpat's team on "Royal Thai Navy 1" honoured His Majesty the King of Thailand with a clear class win.

Second place went to Singapore entry "Foxy Lady V", skippered by Bill Bremner with Russian entry "Ruby Tuesday", skippered by Arbuzov Andrey, finished third.

2011 was the 25th anniversary of the Phuket King's Cup Regatta. The event attracted the largest fleet in the competition's history with 91 keelboats and multihulls, 38 dinghies and 19 Kiteboards, and over a thousand sailors from 33 countries across the globe. Conditions have been good for much of the week, and comments centred on the enjoyable racing and spectacular beach side parties each evening.

Full results for all classes at

Spinnaker Tales
Sport loving Queenslanders will have a feast of entertainment to watch after they celebrate the traditional Boxing Day lunch with family and friends.

The colourful spectacle of the Rolex Sydney Hobart blue water classic start will be broadcast live on channel 7 while the Boxing Day test between Australia and India on channel 9 will no doubt provide the 'arm chair admirals' with the perfect excuse to leave the noisy lawn mower motionless in the garden shed.

There is an interesting challenge for the aquatic punters to make a choice on the first yacht to finish with the Hamilton Island Yacht Club super maxi Wild Oats X1 rated as the favourite to win the line honours title ahead of Investec Loyal, Wild Thing, Lahana, and Ichi Ban.

However even this possible prediction stands to be challenged by a number of important factors including the prevailing weather which again is expected to be controlled by the savage 'Southerly Busters' that roll over the horizon from The Great Southern Ocean.

As expected even the most experienced weather forecasters are not prepared to provide a long range forecast.

But they have retained an interest in the vigorous 992 low pressure system which gain turned the storm tormented Tasman Sea into a no go zone earlier this week.

Hopefully there will not be a repeat of the horrendous conditions of 13 years ago when the Hobart classic was dramatically turned into a test of survival.

Naturally the media attention will be focused on the big boat battle where the Bob Oatley owned and Mark Richards skippered Wild Oats X1 the current race record holder is favoured to record her sixth line honours from seven races.

Her crew were particularly impressive in winning the Gun Boat of the series during the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in August.

The Wild Oats Xl crew revelled in the challenge to cleverly master the moderate to fresh and frightening winds claiming a perfect score by winning all short course races with comfortable margins over Investec Loyal and Lahana however the warm water racing around the Whitsunday Islands has little comparison to racing on the cold waters of the Tasman Sea and Bass Strait when they are in a stormy mood.

Almost every minute of the 628 nautical mile blue water classic presents a challenge and while Wild Oats Xl remains as the line honours super star there are a number of equally impressive smaller yachts who have both the crew and the hard core Hobart race experience to win the race outright.

Among the top choices is the new sloop AFR Midnight Rambler co owned by experienced Sydney skipper Ed Psaltis and Mackay navigator Bob Thomas winners of the toughest Hobart in history in 1998.

Local Sunshine Coast skipper Bob Robertson and his talented crew have the potential to rate Lunchtime Legend as a major challenger along with Loki, Ragamuffin, Dump Truck, Victorie and the 2009 champion the Andrew Saies helmed Two True.

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David vs Goliath Battle Set for RORC Caribbean 600
The 4th RORC Caribbean 600 Race looks set to stage a David versus Goliath battle in just over two months with a number of superyachts keen to do battle with each other whilst circumnavigating 11 Caribbean Islands, starting and finishing in Antigua.

Those superyachts entered so far range from 35m (114ft) to 66m (216ft) and will make an impressive sight as they line up for the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 on Monday 20th February 2012. As well as racing against comparable boats, they will also have to vie with a formidable fleet of much smaller, but highly competitive racing yachts in this challenging and tactical race including the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race winner Ran, the 2010 Rolex Middle Sea Race winner Lucky and Privateer, the winner of the 2009 Montego Bay Race.

The Goliath: Hetairos

Heading up the superyacht fleet is the largest yacht in the 600nm race - the six-month old 66m (216ft) Hetairos, which recently took line honours in the Transatlantic Superyacht Regatta from Tenerife to Virgin Gorda in her inaugural race, completing the 3,069 mile crossing in 8 days 10hrs 58mins 30secs. Her classic looks and sleek green hull may be based on the early 19th century pilot cutters, but as well as being built for comfort with a stunning interior, she is an ultra-modern competitive yacht and one of the largest composite sailing yachts in the world which also boasts the largest composite standing rigging.

Taking the Jaguar off-road with Team P2

The 38m (124ft) P2 owned by businessman and philanthropist, Gerhard Andlinger will make her debut into offshore racing with a star cast on board including top Caribbean sailor, Finn Class Silver Olympic medallist and America's Cup sailor, Peter Holmberg. Other helmsman for the race include Maurice 'Mo'Kurg, also from St Thomas, US Virgin Islands and ex-New Zealand America's Cup sailor, Paul Scoffin:

"P2 is a Perini Navi/Philippe Briand-design accustomed to fast cruising and serious day racing in the superyacht fleet," said Peter Holmberg, "but the owner is intrigued with the adventure of the Caribbean 600 course and the challenge it presents. It will be a bit like taking a Jaguar off-road, so we will have to sail smart, and will hope to have a good result against similar type yachts."

Whilst Hetairos may be the Goliath amongst the fleet, David may certainly be the much smaller Class40 contender, Vaquita. The yacht was recently the first across the Atlantic in the RORC Racing Division of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to St Lucia. The highly competitive crew took on the giants in the ARC fleet and arrived in St Lucia a full 36 hours ahead of the nearest competition and followed just behind the 28m (91ft) maxi, Med Spirit who took line honours amongst the 217 boat fleet, a few hours shy of the fastest time ever. Vaquita is from Austria and blasted her way across the Atlantic, exceeding 23 knots at times during her surfing runs, and managed to sustain 18-20 in the fresh conditions, covering the 2,800 nautical mile course in just over 12 days; a magnificent feat for a 40-footer.

Vaquita's owner, Christof Petter, will race with two friends, supported by three professional sailors, including ex-Volvo Ocean Race skipper Andreas Hanakamp. -- Louis Habib

Positive Outlook for Yacht Racing Industry
The fourth edition of the World Yacht Racing Forum started this morning, Tuesday December 13, in Estoril, Portugal. Over 200 delegates attended the presentations, collecting precious information and meeting the industry's key actors during the networking breaks.

"Most of the world's best boat builders are here", declared Dominique Dubois, President of Multiplast. "For us, it is a unique opportunity to meet the designers, the team managers, the sailors… The Forum is really the place to be if you are involved in the yacht racing industry, because this is where you meet the world's best in the field. Farr yacht design, Green Marine, Mark Turner, the Volvo Ocean Race, the America's Cup, Multi One Design… Everyone that counts is here."

Kevin Roberts, Editorial Director of SportBusiness Group, introduced the debates by setting the context: "Despite the economic situation, sponsorship carries on increasing worldwide. No less than 35 billion US dollars have been invested in sponsorship this year, mainly in sports (77%), and this figure will increase next year. However sailing isn't benefiting enough from this trend. The beneficiaries are mainly football, golf, basketball or Formula 1 whilst sailing doesn't seem to be on the radar. There are however many reasons to be cheerful and to look forward to the future."

The sport is indeed attractive, and current and new projects do have a great appeal and potential. The Multi One Design Circuit, for example, will see its first sailing season in 2012. Introduced at a previous World Yacht Racing Forum, in Monaco, the MOD circuit has now become a reality, dragging partners, suppliers and services providers in its wake.

Hertha Baumann, Vice President PR and Events management, Mirabaud, gave the "Yacht Racing Photo of the Year" as an example. "We have touched 15'000 people in less than two weeks, and reached a public that is much wider than the usual sailing audience. It is for us a different way to show our passion for sailing, and also the proof that there is a huge interest for the sport."

Talking about how to measure the commercial return of the sport, Nathalie Quéré, head of sponsorship, BT Global Services, highlighted the fact that the sport of sailing provides unique emotions and opportunities. "You can't just measure your commercial success by calculating your ROI. You need to include other elements such as the emotional factor or the networking opportunities offered by the sport, and those elements are not measurable with conventional tools."

Tomorrow's sessions will focus on the world's top yacht racing events, the Volvo Ocean Race, the America's Cup and the Olympic Games. Sessions will also be dedicated to yacht club management and the place of women in the sport.

Details of the conference programme and speakers are available on the event's website:

Letters To The Editor -
Letters are limited to 350 words. No personal attacks are permitted. We do require your name but your email address will not be published without your permission.

* From Sir Robin Knox-Johnston: The decision to punish Ben Ainslie for getting angry at being interfered with by a media boat raises a number of interesting points.

What possible punishment of the media boat can equate to being disqualified from the world championship by a competitor?

What were the organisers doing allowing media boats on the course and able to get in the way of competitors?

If the organisers allow no redress for interference by media boats or helicopters with competitors, what steps are they taking to police these media observers?

They cannot have this both ways.

If there is to be no redress for interference by the media boats then the organisers have the responsibility to ensure that the reason for redress is not allowed to happen.

The message being sent out by ISAF is that the media from Nation B can get in the way of the main competition from Nation A to favour their man and both they and their man can get away with it.

Under this system the best sailor won't win, the nation with the most aggressive media will.

* From Jamie Leopold: A few comments about Ben Ainslie and his recent brush with the press:

Why is it that Ben Ainslie gets thrown out of two races because he got in someone's face after they (a non competitor) interfered with him while he is competing in a World Championship event?

My take is that the press boat operator and the press people he was driving for ought to be banned from covering any sailing events for two years for interfering in and effecting the outcome of a race.

While we're at it, I have never gone sailing or been interested in sailing because I thought it might get me on television.

If you think television coverage is going to improve sailing, think again, and ask yourself why you like to go sailing and racing.

For me it's always been about getting out on the water, away from the crowds, with a little time and space to enjoy the challenge of the elements, and maybe mix in some friendly competition.

For those of you who want a three ring circus, try Times Square, or reality TV.

For me, "And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by" -John Masefield

* From Bruce Kirby: The penalty meted out to Ben Ainslie for pointing out in no uncertain terms that a TV crew had jeopardized his chances in an important regatta is deplorable. Why should one of the finest sailors ever to put his feet under a hiking strap have to put up with a press boat interfering with him during a world championship?

The TV crew should have been permanently booted off the racecourse and Ben should have been complimented for leading the charge.

The effect of a motorboat wake on a dinghy can be very severe, and when the dinghy - a Finn in this case - is in semi planing conditions the quarter wave of a powerboat can slow it down brutally.

There is no reason why a world and Olympic champion (or anyone else for that matter) should have to tolerate such ignorance.

It seems that powerboat drivers never look over their shoulders to see what their wake is doing. Before they leave the dock the drivers of press boats at an event of this importance should be checked out for their knowledge of what they are supposed to be doing.

There was only one guilty party in this incident, but two were punished.

If I had been in Ben's position at his age I think I would have decked the driver and committed the TV camera to the deep.

Featured Brokerage
Featured Brokerage Boat 2005 Cookson 50. Located in Sydney, Australia. A$ 895,000.

This Cookson 50 has had no expense spared since new, including a thorough preparation for the 2010 Sydney to Hobart resulting in a 4th overall in IRC open and 2nd in ORCi open.

Build 2004 in New Zealand by Cookson, she won the NZ Coastal Classic, around North Island Race, Auckland Race Week and Bay of Islands Race Week, before arriving in Sydney.

Complete with an extensive cruising inventory for fast comfortable passages, she is a great compromise. Alternativly, in race mode she is capable of being at the sharp end of any fleet.

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The Last Word
I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants. -- A. Whitney Brown

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