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Do Groupama Have Doldrums Timing Right?
As one by one the boats disappear into the anti-piracy stealth zone, the skippers and navigators have been finalising their Doldrums strategies.

Leg leaders Groupama sailing team had entered the zone with a lead of 76 nautical miles over second-placed PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, who followed them into the stealth zone on Thursday afternoon.

The chasing pack have been pinning their faith on the transient Doldrums band for an opportunity to reel Groupama back in and as expected the fleet began to compress on Thursday with the two leaders feeling the first effects of the light wind zone.

On board third-placed Telefónica who entered the stealth zone this evening, navigator Andrew Cape said he thought Groupama's lead would make it difficult for them to be caught, but reaffirmed the team's determination to chase them down to the safe haven port.

Ian Walker's Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing continued to trail the fleet but Britain's double Olympic silver medallist said he still hoped to get back into contention.

"We will have a window of several hours after the other boats enter the Doldrums to track their progress and adjust our approach accordingly," he said.

"Pretty soon Groupama will be doing half our speed and we will come hauling into the back of them. But it's not just about catching up, you need to get level or ahead otherwise they will just pull away when they get through."

As the fleet continued northwards the boats continued to compress, but if Groupama have their timing right they may be able to escape an easterly moving low pressure wave. If the boats behind them are forced into a time consuming detour, there will be no stopping the French.

By 1900 UTC tonight Groupama 4 were tending to the west, with second-placed PUMA heading east and crossing Groupama's tracks.

www.volvooceanrace.com

Quantum Key West 2012
Key West, Florida, USA: Top-of-the-line IRC 52 racing is alive and well and headed for Quantum Key West 2012. A strong fleet of eight 52-footers will compete in the 25th anniversary edition of the renowned midwinter regatta held off the southernmost tip of the continental United States. Included in the class are brand new IRC 52 designs from Reichel-Pugh and Judel-Vrolijk.

Terry Hutchinson will be competing at Key West for the 16th time, although this year was somewhat of a surprise. Hutchinson, an Annapolis native, did not expect to do any monohull events this year while training in catamarans as part of his role as skipper of Artemis Racing, the Swedish syndicate challenging for the America's Cup.

However, Hutchinson will now take a break from the team's training camp in Spain to serve as tactician aboard Quantum Racing, a TP 52 being entered by the regatta's title sponsor and skippered by Doug DeVos. Quantum Sail Design Group, which captured the TP 52 World Championship in 2008, 2010 and 2011, and the Audi Med Cup in 2008 and 2011, is bringing a star-studded crew to Key West.

J/80s: In an era when a brutal economy has negatively impacted participation in sailing regattas all over the world, the J/80 class is somewhat of an anomaly. While other one-design classes have seen fewer boats traveling to major events, the J/80 has actually seen some growth.

Farr 30s: Long a stalwart one-design class in Key West, the Farr 30 had a one-year hiatus in 2010 while undergoing a re-organization. Owners took over management of the class and returned to Key West in 2011 with Jim Richardson and the Barking Mad team capturing the Midwinter Championship.

"The racing at Key West was terrific last year and we expect it to be just as intense this year," said class president Deneen Demourkas, owner of the California boat Groovederci.

Seven boats from California to New York, not to mention one from Sweden, will duke it out on the azure waters off the Conch Republic at Quantum Key West 2012. Demourkas said 17 boats have already registered for the Farr 30 Worlds in Sweden and believes there will be a similar number of entries in Key West next year since the 2013 worlds are being held on the East Coast.

J/Boats: Quantum Key West 2012 will mark the introduction of a J/Boat specific handicap class. There are eight J Boats entered in PHRF 1 that will be broken out and rated by Rod Johnstone and his consortium and scored Time-On-Time.

"This sub class is comprised of the old (J/35) and the new (three J/111s) and promises to be a building block for J classes in the future," event director Peter Craig said. "The concept of J Boat specific handicap classes will become a reality at the 25th anniversary event and owner feedback suggests the 2013 edition of race week will attract two strong J classes."

Regatta dates are January 15 – 20, 2012.

Event information, past results and photos: www.Premiere-Racing.com

German Frers - A Passion For Design
German Frers This coffee table biography provides an insight into the lives, designs and passions of one of the most prolific design families - all named German Frers. It is a book to delight all owners of Frers designed yachts, those that have crewed on them, and all students of yacht design.

It charts a family design heritage spanning 3 generations that has been responsible for the launching of more than 10,000 boats from dinghies to day keelboats, distinctive cruisers to successful racers, powerboats and superyachts.

Early chapters chart six generations of family history: How one ship owned by a Frers ancestor, was escorting a pirated Portuguese frigate back across the Atlantic in 1820, took formal possession of what are now known as the Falklands, an act that remains is central to Argentine claims over the Malvinas Islands today; the influence that revolutionary Che Guevara, a first cousin, had on the current generation, and German Frers apprenticeship with the best designers - his Father, and the New York masters Olin and Rod Stephens.

During the 50's and 60's when the design skills of German Frers Snr. were at their zenith, good yacht design was very much down to intuition and experience. This book shows how those traditional skills continue to hold true, but are now mixed with the very precise demands of structural analysis, aerodynamics, computer wizardry and hi-tech engineering.

'A Passion for Design' also highlights the rise of Frers Snr.' first son German in the world of IOR and Maxi yacht racing during the 70's and '80's, his involvement in three America's Cup campaigns and his pioneering work in developing performance oriented cruisers and superyachts. Now, German (Mani) Frers Jnr. the third generation, is adding to this reputation, having worked with his Father on some of the most prestigious projects from Dr Jim Clark's 155ft Hyperion and Prada boss Patrizio Bertelli's 105ft Ulisse, to a variety of successful Open class racers and on his own account, Sweden's Victory America's Cup challenger.

"Flipping Book" excerpt:
issuu.com/pplmedia/

Written by Barry Pickthall
Format: 302 x 234mm. 207 pages
Illustrations: 194 colour pictures + 83 Drawings
Price: £35.00 Sterling + P&P ISBN: 09531044 0 0

Order from: South Atlantic Publishing. www.southatlanticpublishing.com

The Brakes Go On South of Tasmania
Halvard Mabire raids the bluQube advent calendar while hunting for chocolate supplies. Photo by Campagne de France. Click on image to enlarge.

Global Ocean Race As the leading double-handed Class40s in the Global Ocean Race (GOR) prepare to enter the Tasman Sea with 1,200 miles of Leg 2 remaining, the light conditions are conspiring to shake up the ranking table for the remaining miles to the finish line in Wellington, New Zealand.

After leading the fleet for 13 days and over 3,000 miles and having logged phenomenal speeds and broken the GOR's 24-hour distance record, Conrad Colman and Sam Goodchild on the Akilaria RC2 Cessna Citation have hit the buffers 350 miles below Tasmania at 49S with Ross and Campbell Field, further north in second place with BSL, slowing down, but holding the breeze and closing in. In third place, the Franco-British duo of Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron are polling the highest speed averages with Campagne de France as they drop south taking miles out of the leaders.

Recovering from 60-knot blasts, Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon in fourth on Financial Crisis have cleared the eastern end of the Australian Ice Limit and are drying out in good conditions as they prepare to slip below 45S and in fifth place, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire are 40 miles north of the ice limit in stunning, running conditions with Phesheya-Racing.

Sailing without a major sponsor, Nannini and Ramon have survived on personal savings and donations to fund their campaign, but the recent storms have caused breakages on board that will seriously impact their budget. However, help is at hand: "Christmas has come early on board Financial Crisis and donations to the race funds have come in hard and fast," Nannini confirms. "One person in particular donated a staggering £1,000." Initially, Nannini was confused by this incredibly generous gesture. "A brief message added that his wife has MS, multiple sclerosis, and wished we could remind the world of this terrible disease," he explains. "So if anyone in Wellington knows people working in this field, perhaps working for a charity either researching MS or assisting people affected by this disease, we'd like to meet them and see how we can generate some informative interest on the subject during the stopover using this race as a loud speaker to the rest of the world."

The GOR's Australian Ice Limit at 45S, 600 miles south of south-western Australia, may have been a factor in reducing stress levels on board the competing Class40s: "Being below Australia is a huge milestone and psychologically it makes you feel better because rescue is closer and New Zealand is just around the corner," Dee Caffari believes. "The teams need to beware though because the Southern Ocean tests everyone to the limit and passing Tasmania and crossing the Tasman Sea can be a challenge," she advises. "Even when they think the hard part is done, never under estimate Cook Strait," warns Dee. "This last test will use the last ounces of energy the crew can find to get to the fabulous hospitality of Wellington," she predicts. "After all, the nickname 'Windy Wellington' came about for a reason!"

GOR Leg 2 leaderboard at 18:00 GMT 22/12/2011:
1. Cessna Citation: DTF 1189, 1.7kts
2. BSL: DTL 117, 9kts
3. Campagne de France: DTL 488, 10.5kts
4. Financial Crisis: DTL 1139, 9.9kts
5. Phesheya-Racing: DTL 1489, 8.5kts

globaloceanrace.com

Safety at Sea Seminar Registration Opens
The 2012 edition of the Cruising Club of America-Newport Bermuda Race Safety at Sea Seminar will offer an expanded curriculum on March 17-18, at the Newport RI Hyatt Regency Hotel. Registration is now open and all sailors including skippers and crew are invited to attend. New rules apply for Newport Bermuda Race participants that require a minimum of 30% of all crewmembers to complete a sanctioned Safety at Sea seminar. The captain and either the navigator or a watch captain must be included in the required 30%. Two crewmembers must be First Aid/CPR certified as well.

Saturday's program will feature both a full US SAILING Sanctioned Safety at Sea Seminar and an ISAF Offshore Personal Survival Refresher Course for those who have completed two or more sanctioned seminars since 2002. Sunday's program offers three options - a Red Cross First Aid/CPR Course, a Newport Bermuda Race Preparation Seminar and a Practical, Hands-On Training Seminar.

The program is open to all mariners, not just Newport Bermuda Race participants. Register now at https://ssl3.pair.com/bythesea/

The Hyatt Regency offers a special rate for safety seminar attendees through Feb. 14 at https://resweb.passkey.com or call (888) 421-1442

Dubarry Crosshaven Dubarry Crosshaven - The Best Gets Better
Click on image to enlarge.

You'd have to go around the world to find a better boot than Dubarry's Ultima or Shamrock - so they did. Green Dragon's raced round the world in Dubarry boots and their Southern Ocean feedback helped to create the world's best offshore boot. Top of the Dragons' list was a waterproof built-in gaiter with top draw-cord to make sure your foredeck forays don't result in a bootful of briney. They're warmer too, lined with GORE-TEX® Duratherm waterproof insulation, heel and toe reinforcement and a new super-supportive footbed inspired by Formula 1 technology.

Dubarry Crosshaven - boots born in the Southern Ocean.

dubarry.com

Green Comm Racing Partners with the Region of Lombardy
Milan, Italy: Green Comm Racing, the youngest team to compete in the history of the America's Cup, brings together two of Europe's most dynamic regions, Lombardy and Valencia, in its challenge for the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco by promoting the values of sustainability.

With the presence of the key Officers of the Lombardy Region, the President of the Real Club Nautico de Valencia, Manuel Pons, the President of Circolo Vela Gargnano, Lorenzo Rizzardi, Green Comm Racing and its Executive Chairman, Francesco De Leo, a major milestone was reached, by securing the institutional support of the Lombardy Region in promoting the first European Challenge for the 34th America's Cup.

Green Comm Racing and the Real Club Nautico de Valencia (RCNV) have engaged with Circolo Vela Gargnano (CVG) to reinforce the ties between Italy and Spain, and promote the first European Challenge in the history of the America's Cup.

With a budget of 54 million Euros for its 34th America's Cup campaign, Green Comm Racing is now working on the development of the AC72 multihull, which will be launched on the waters of San Francisco at the beginning of 2013.

www.americascup.com

Innovations Introduced for Warsash Spring Series 2012
Trustmarque Playing Around and Visit Malta gained podium places in the 2011 Warsash Spring Series. Photo by Eddie Mays, www.eddiemays.com. Click on image to enlarge.

Warsash Spring Series 2012 Warsash Spring Series is now in its 29th year and the 2012 event gets underway from Sunday 18th March. Again the Spring Series and Spring Championship will follow the popular tried and tested formula but the race management team at Warsash Sailing Club has also taken on board feedback from competitors with a view to improving the event still further.

New for the 2012 Spring Series will be a J-Sprit class for J/105, J/100, J/97, J/95 and J/92 designs, racing together under IRC ratings.

The Spring Championship weekends, with racing on Saturday and Sunday, are being held on 21st/22nd and 28th/29th April. Classes for 2012 can include the whole of IRC1 and IRC2, rather than being limited to the light displacement "big boats" of previous years. Racing will also be arranged for triallists aiming at selection for the Brewin Dolphin Commodore's Cup.

A text messaging system is being tried for 2012 which will improve pre-race communications with competitors.

Sports boats (up to 8.5m LOA and DLR 160 or less) are welcome to enter under IRC and if at least eight are entered by 9th March, then a separate sports boat class can be provided.

Lower-rated IRC4 boats are especially welcome in the Series and will again have a 1000 start from their own line closer to the mainland shore off Hill Head.

The Spring Series will include four IRC classes plus J/109, Sigma 38, Laser SB3 and J/80 in addition to the new J-Sprit division. Spring Championship weekends will cater for IRC1 and IRC2 boats as well as Farr 45, J/109, Laser SB3, J/80 and Quarter Ton classes plus triallists for the Brewin Dolphin Commodore's Cup.

The provisional Notice of Race is now published on www.warsashspringseries.org.uk and competitors will be pleased to know that entry fees have been kept at their 2011 rates. -- Flavia Bateson

www.warsashspringseries.org.uk

Running The Rhumblines
Merit the 1997 generation Volvo Globe race sloop will enter another absorbing challenge when her tropical Whitsunday Sailing Club crew set their course in the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Race on Boxing Day.

Skipper Leo Rodriguez and crew have naturally set aside any thought of the warm sailing waters of the Whitsunday Islands to again face another test of their personal character and ocean racing experience in the race which is regarded among the toughest on the International offshore sailing circuit.

Every wave which splashes on the deck and every gust of wind will become a reminder for the crew who normally sail in shorts and coloured tropical shirts that every nautical mile they sail deeper into the Tasman Sea promises to become a test of skill and endurance.

However they have successfully mastered the elements before and remain ranked as a major contender to feature in the battle for corrected handicap honours in the Performance Handicap class.

They already have the distinction of recording a class victory and promise to again show that the well rigged Volvo 60 is no spent force when the seas become angry and the wind gusts into the fresh and frightening range.

A fresh forecast of reaching and spinnaker sailing winds would lift the expectations for the Merit crew to repeat their previous victory but both the master helmsman Leo Rodriguez and his experienced team have the proven experience to deal with whatever conditions prevail. Meanwhile the pre-race interest centres on the expected State of Origin type match race between Merit and the recently modified New South Wales Volvo 60 the Andrew Wenham skippered Southern Excellence.

As expected both crews remain confident of being the first of these famed older type globe race yachts to fix their mooring lines to the historical Constitution Dock.

Southern Excellence is naturally strongly supported by those who live south of Point Danger while Merit has her team of loyal Queenslander's.

While this boat on boat match race between Merit and Southern Excellence remains as an interesting pre-race topic the real battle for the first to finish trophy focuses on the Bob Oatley owned and Mark Richards skippered super maxi Wild Oats X1.

Sail master and principal helmsman Mark Richards has openly stated that the recent hull modifications have proved successful with Wild Oats X1 now capable of sailing at higher speed.

However while this is encouraging the experienced crew of professional sailors will need to respect both the weather and the improving boat speed of their maxi rivals Investec Loyal, Lahana and Wild Thing to pilot Wild Oats X1 to a history making sixth line honours from the past seven races. -- Ian Grant

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 Brendan Foley: I am sure that like many of your readers and I you must be wondering what is happening to the coverage of sailing?

If I was to sum it up I'd call it the LCD factor - the lowest common denominator factor. In a desperate bid to be seen on the same terms as other sports the powers that be in sailing, hungry for sponsors and huge audiences are dumbing down our sport. To give insight into this just look at the two most visible sailing events happening now; the Volvo Ocean Race and ISAF World Championships.

1. The Ben Ainslie controversy in Perth highlights that competition is not being put first. The media is. This is happening so that ISAF can gain media muscle and relationships and ultimately power. I'm not saying that we cannot have media involvement, I am saying that we need to do it the right way. Just look to the Americas Cup in it's modern format and we can see this being handled properly. The difference with the AC is that it is directed and managed just like a movie rather than the ISAF event which seems a free for all. Why is it a free for all? The answer; coverage at any cost.

2. The coverage of the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race was brilliant. Mark Chisnell's regular online updates as the 'pundit' was akin to the Sky Sports or ESPN 'punditry' in football, rugby or any other sport, that allowed expert analysis and insight of navigation and strategy. Sadly we no longer have this expert type of editorial and punditry. This coupled with the now demised VOR Magazine provided the sailing public with great coverage and information - certainly not LCD reporting. What have we now? No pundits and most updates are more suited to the 'lifestyle and living' sections of a Sunday paper. At least on the live aired VOR TV Jerry Kirby brings a welcome sailing punditry. But once again we are seeing LCD coverage - dilute it down to appeal to all.

So where does this leave us? I believe our sport is at a crossroads.

Do we preserve what many of us love about sailing - adventure, skill, tactics, strategy, determination, stamina and fun or do we decide to make this a media driven or LCD sport? If we go for the latter option of Lowest Common Denominator or dumbed down version of sailing, the national associations following the lead of ISAF, the IOC, the VOR and the AC will start to construct the sport locally to provide 'good television' sailing. If this happens then our children may never know what a tack is as they scream downwind doing timed runs for the cameras! The amazing stories of bravery, sea(person)ship and adventure from the Southern Ocean will be a thing of the past as Antarctica doesn't have a large enough tourist budget to attract in port racing! The skills that have formed the basis of sailing for hundreds and maybe even thousands of years dissipate in a frenzied need for TV coverage!

Featured Brokerage
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The Last Word
Christmas gift suggestions: to your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect. -- Oren Arnold

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