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Big Southerly and Only One Retirement in Rolex Sydney Hobart
Bob Oatley's Wild Oats XI continues to lead the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet early this morning; Mark Richards has skippered the super maxi to a 10 nautical mile advantage over Anthony Bell's Investec Loyal in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's annual blue water classic after sailing in rough southerly winds overnight.

Grant Wharington's Wild Thing (Qld) and Peter Millard/John Honan's Lahana were giving chase, 13 and 19 nautical miles astern of Investec Loyal. The top 15 yachts reported winds of up to 30 knots last evening around 6.00pm.

Mark Richards said from Wild Oats XI this morning "We are through the worst of it," and this morning were sailing in a 15 knot southerly 14 nautical miles east of Green Cape. They are expected to enter Bass Strait after 10.00am this morning.

Despite the lumpy seas and winds of up to 30 knots, there was only one retirement overnight. Shortly before midnight, Sam Haynes retired Celestial from the race after breaking the gooseneck. All aboard are well and the boat is due back at the CYCA today. The fleet is now at 87.

Meanwhile, although a little premature to talk up overall contenders, Wild Rose (Roger Hickman) is leading the chase with his Farr 43 which won the race overall in 1993. Two Beneteau 45's are behind him; race favourite, Victoire (Darryl Hodgkinson) and near sistership Balance (Paul Clitheroe) in second and third respectively.

The three are just beyond Batemans Bay with fourth placed Alacrity, the Beneteau 44.7 owned by Olympian Matt Percy. -- Di Pearson

rolexsydneyhobart.com

Telefonica Take Knife-Edge Victory In Leg 2, Stage 1
Photo by Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race. Click on image for photo gallery.

Volvo Ocean Race Team Telefonica will charge into 2012 as leaders of the Volvo Ocean Race after snatching victory over CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand in a thrilling finish to the first stage of Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.

The final 24 hours came down to an intense match race between Iker Martínez's Telefonica, winners of Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town, as well as the Cape Town In-Port Race, and CAMPER.

The stakes were high as the two teams headed towards the secret safe haven, with CAMPER needing to finish in front to leapfrog Telefonica to go top of the leaderboard.

Chris Nicholson's team got close, leading for long periods over a thrilling final battle between Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but in the end Telefonica came through, grabbing the definitive lead with just eight nautical miles to go.

They held on to finish at 1757.20 UTC on Monday, just one minute and 57 seconds ahead of CAMPER.

The result remains provisional after CAMPER informed race management they had raised a protest flag over a manoeuvre made towards the end of the race.

Telefonica claimed 24 points for first place in the first of a two-stage, 5,430 nautical mile (nm) leg to from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi, where 80 per cent of the available points have been awarded. CAMPER take 20 for second.

The provisional leaderboard sees Telefonica top with 61 points, followed by CAMPER on 54. The finish line was set at an undisclosed destination to protect the six-boat fleet from pirate activity. The boats will now be shipped to a point off the Sharjah coastline in the northern United Arab Emirates in time to start what is sure to be an exciting, day-long sprint to Abu Dhabi in early January for the remaining 20 per cent of the leg points.

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG are currently in third place, followed by Groupama sailing team in fourth and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing fifth. Team Sanya were forced to suspend racing and head for Madagascar, where they are repairing the rig and focusing on getting in shape for Leg 3 to their home port of Sanya in China.

www.volvooceanrace.com

Kru Sport and R10
Ocean Safety A couple of vital safety products are making their way around the world - at the same fast pace as (most of) the Volvo 70s. On each competing yacht in the Volvo Ocean Race there is a Kannad R10 AIS Survivor Recovery System (SRS), one for each crew member, and on five of the yachts there are Kru Sport Pro lifejackets for each crew member as well. Both products are from Ocean Safety and both have the potential to save lives.

The Kru's waistcoat design makes it very comfortable and barely noticeable to wear. Plus there's even more to the Kru Sports Pro than just keeping afloat. The Kru can be fitted with the innovative and compact R10 to make a completely integrated personal safety system. The R10's size means it can be also carried in a pocket. The R10 alerts AIS receivers on vessels within a four mile radius with precision position information, so if a crew member falls overboard, the alert will transmit both onboard the yacht, and also on other vessels in the area.

The combination of Kru Sports Pro and R10 is a winning one for providing the best possible safety back up to the Volvo crews.

www.oceansafety.com

Clipper 11-12 Race 7: Gold Coast to Singapore
Photo by OnEdition. Click on image for photo gallery.

Clipper Race The day after Christmas, two hundred miles to the north east of the Great Barrier Reef, the Clipper 11-12 fleet is revelling in the more settled conditions, sunshine, blue skies, flat seas and some serious spinnaker flying.

Tropical Cyclone Grant has been downgraded for the time being to a Tropical Depression but is still likely to bring winds of up to 40 knots to the fleet, according to meteorologist Simon Rowell, who sends the daily weather files to the teams and provides some analysis. Winning skipper of a previous edition of the Clipper Race, Simon says the winds will possibly gust up to 40 per cent higher when the remains of the cyclone cross the fleet's path in a few days' time.

Anyone who has seen the galley of a Clipper 68 will appreciate the skills of the mother watches in turning out Christmas feast quite as spectacular as they have been. For those who haven't, you can just about fit two people in the galley, one at the sink, one at the stove. There is a small propane gas oven with a three-ring hob and a separate oven that is generally used to bake the day's bread rations. No microwave, no fridge, no freezer. And more often than not it's tilted at an angle just to add another layer of interest to the task of conjuring up tasty and filling meals for 18 people three times a day.

With 4,000 miles to the finish line in the Singapore Straits plus light and fluky winds and the possibility of further Tropical Cyclones developing, there will be plenty to keep the teams on their toes and race followers entertained before the end of Race 7 and the arrival of the whole fleet at Marina at Keppel Bay, Singapore, on 28 January.

Positions at 1800 UTC, Monday 26 December

1. Gold Coast Australia, 3989nm to finish
2. Singapore, 4007nm (+18nm to leader)
3. New York, 4009nm (+19nm)
4. De Lage Landen, 4016nm (+27nm)
5. Visit Finland, 4022nm (+32nm)
6. Qingdao, 4022nm (+33nm)
7. Welcome to Yorkshire, 4025nm (+36nm)
8. Geraldton Western Australia, 4034nm (+45nm)
9. Derry-Londonderry, 4041nm (+52nm)
10. Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, 4045nm (+55nm)

www.clipperroundtheworld.com

45 Boat Fleet for Yngling Worlds on Sydney Harbour
Current world champion Maarten Jamin racing at the last world championships. Photo by Yngling Association. Click on image to enlarge.

Yngling Worlds A fleet of 45 boats, more than half of them from overseas, have entered for the 2012 International Yngling World Championship on Sydney Harbour, with the international regatta starting tomorrow with the three-day Yngling Class Open Regatta and Youth Gold Cup.

The fleet for the World Championship, which will run from 3-9 January, includes four past world champions and a former Olympic representative in the three-crew keelboat class.

Crews have arrived from Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden to race against 20 Australian crews, almost all racing out of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron which is conducting the international regatta.

The Netherlands has six crews competing, headed by Maarten Jamin, a dual World Yngling class champion and current titleholder, and Tom Otte, also a dual past World champion, along with several talented youth sailors, including Jiloui Tor Horst, winner of the European Youth Championships 2011.

The Danish team of six boats includes Jorgen Ring, the 1978 World champion who has competed in every World title regatta since 1977. Australia's Chris Harper has sailed in 25 worlds.

Also in the strong Australian team is Neville Wittey, who won the 1996 and 2004 World championship and also represented Australia at the 2000 Olympic Games in the Soling class, and Karyn Gojnich, who sailed as a crew member in the Yngling women's class at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, as well as in the 470 women's class at the 1988 Olympics.

Two other strong Australian contenders in the 2012 World championship on Sydney Harbour will be the 2010 and 2011 Australian champions, Hamish Jarrett and Michael Nash, along with his brother Adrian Nash who finished third in the 2004 Worlds. -- Peter Campbell

www.ynglingworlds2012.com

Dubarry Sligo - From High Seas to High Street
Dubarry Sligo You don't stop being a yachtsman when you step off the deck. It's not just the year-round tan and the weathered hands, it's something about your style too. Dubarry's latest deck shoe, Sligo, gives you the perfect combination of performance and panache so you'll look at home whether you're on the high seas or the high street. The stylish uppers feature Dubarry's signature DryFast-DrySoft leather combined with waxed canvas, a removable EVA footbed gives you shock-absorbing support and the sole gives you award-winning support. Dubarry

Sligo - the only deck shoe you'll ever need.

www.dubarry.com

Entries Open folr the 2012 RYA Volvo Youth National Championships
After a successful 2011 for Britain's youth sailors entries for the 2012 RYA Volvo Youth National Championships, the premier event on the RYA Youth Racing calendar, are now open.

The 2012 regatta will be staged at Pwllheli Sailing Club (North Wales) from the 31st March - 6th April and look set to attract the top Youth racers from around the country vying for top level competition, including those looking to earn selection to the RYA Volvo National Youth Squads.

Racing will be highly charged as selection for RYA Volvo Team GBR - the team which will represent Great Britain at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship in Dublin in 2012 - will also be up for grabs along with the opportunity to stake their claim as Britain's top young sailors and win a host of International travel grants.

RYA Volvo National Youth Squad, Transition Squad and sailors who are making the step up from the RYA Junior Squads are all expected to make the trip to North Wales to compete at the pinnacle event on the Youth racing circuit. In addition to the British sailors, RYA event organisers are expecting a strong turnout from International squads including strong competition from as far as Sweden and New Zealand.

Last year's conquerors Craig Dibb/Charlie Cox and Jess Lavery/Georgie Mothersele who sail in the double-handed 420 class are expected to be in fine form as they look to secure the Championship crown for a second consecutive year as well as the prestigious RYA Volvo Team GBR spot.

Last year's RS:X champion Jade Rogers will also be looking to build on her success from Hayling Island in 2011 but will face strong competition from the RS:X U17 World and European Champion Noelle Finch. Now that Sam Sills and Connor Bainbridge have made the step up into the Skandia Team GBR Transitional Squad, Kieran Martin will be amongst the ones to watch in the male RS:X fleet.

The RYA Volvo Youth Racing programme, which receives generous support from title sponsor Volvo Car UK and official clothing supplier Henri Lloyd, has had a fantastic year winning a total of 60 medals at World and European Championships as well as at major international regattas.

The entry deadline for the RYA Volvo Youth National Championships 2012 is up until midnight on Sunday 25th March - late entries will not be accepted.

For more information on the 2012 RYA Volvo Youth National Championships visit www.ryaracingevents.org.uk

Strong Fleet for Sabot Nationals
A highly competitive fleet has nominated to contest the 48th Australian Sabot Championships over the Southport Yacht Club's Broadwater courses from December 28th to January 5th.

The diminutive 2.43m snub-nose Sabot sailing class has played an important role in developing the careers of numerous open class World sailing champions including Olympic Gold medalists.

As expected this National championship has attracted the best young Sabot dinghy sailors in the nation with the early 109 entries representing clubs from Tasmania to Tropical North Queensland.

They have taken advantage of the school holidays to spend lengthy training sessions with their respected State team coaches in preparation for a series which promises to test their personal endurance and tactical strategy.

Their steering and boat handling skills combined with sharing the sailing space with a consistent flow of wave wash from tourist ferries and recreational craft promises to add a tactical challenge.

However the enthusiastic crews have been taught to understand that every Australian championship venue presents a unique set of tactical challenges and the busy Southport Broadwater is no different.

Naturally there is an element of pride that exists with the Southport Yacht Club who is preparing to host their first ever Australian Sabot championship from their modern dinghy sailing division at Hollywell.

Talented Southport Yacht Club skipper Kyle O'Connell helming Guided Missile has been nominated among the top contenders to contest the major medals in the Senior championship while former Australian Olympian Christine Bridge will be an interested spectator when daughter Carissa launches her Australian championship campaign with her dinghy The Wobbly Boot.

The traditional New Year Eve party will be the social highlight of the regatta while an extensive program of entertainment promises to add a special family friendly feel to the post race activities.

As expected the excellent Southport Yacht Club facilities at Hollywell and The Gold Coast tourism infrastructure has proved to be a popular choice of venue with the competitors families and supporters welcoming the chance to combine their annual holidays while the nation's best compete for championship honours. -- Ian Grant

www.sabotnationals.com.au

Soto 40 European Championship
Photo by Jesus Renedo. Click on image to enlarge.

Soto 40 The annual meeting of the European Soto 40 class owners was held in Valencia on the 13th of December. The balance of the 2011 season was made, and the future of this exciting One Design in Europe was discussed.

Looking ahead at the next season European Soto 40 class owners unanimously agreed to create for 2012 the Soto 40 European Championship. It will consist of five events, including Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre in Palma de Mallorca in mid-July, and the European Finals with double scoring in the Port America's Cup of Valencia in late September. This competition will crown two winners: the Soto 40 European Champion and the Soto 40 Owner Driver European Champion.

The meeting also sealed the creation of the European Soto 40 Owners Association, an ongoing project that has been under development since September. It will serve to govern the interests of its members by promoting the class in Europe and tie bonds with other international associations, especially with the International Soto 40 Class.

Soto 40 Class was born in Argentina in late 2008 and was recently recognized by the ISAF as International Class. It is currently in a major growth phase throughout the world and now has 33 units in countries spanning from Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Japan, United States, Britain, Germany to Spain.

Events such as the Asia Cup, Mitsubishi Sailing Cup, Rolex Ilhabela Sailing Week and the South Atlantic Circuit already have the Soto 40 boat as a star.

Sailjuice Global Warm-Up 2012
The third edition of the SailJuice Global Warm-up kicks off in just over a week's time at the Grafham Grand Prix. This winter championship brings together five of the biggest winter handicap racing events into a unified series, to find out just who is tough enough to race their way through a British winter. Over the past two years this Series has seen some of the biggest names in dinghy racing compete in a range of classes.

Five major handicap events constitute this winter's series. They are:

Grafham Grand Prix, Grafham Water Sailing Club
Monday 2nd January 2012

Bloody Mary, Queen Mary Sailing Club
Saturday 7th January 2012

Steve Nicholson Trophy, Northampton Sailing Club
Saturday 28 January 2012

John Merricks Tiger Trophy, Rutland Sailing Club
Saturday 4th & Sunday 5th February 2012

Draycote Dash, Draycote Water Sailing Club
Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th February 2012

For the first time, each of the events will be using a set of PY handicap numbers based on the analysis provided by the Great Lakes Group. This group of experts has analysed the results of past grand prix events and produced a set of numbers that should yield a much more even spread of success across a greater number of classes. The success of this approach has already been proven at recent editions of the Bloody Mary.

SailJuice.com has once again teamed up with SailRacer.co.uk to provide an online entry system. This enables competitors to enter four of the five events in advance. To enter the Series, all you need to do is sign up for at least one of the events online. This costs exactly the same as entering on the day, but saves you the hassle, and means you qualify for the Series and give yourself a shot at the prizes.

With each event run on a different format, SailRacer has also devised a scoring system to balance up the relative value of each event, whether you're competing in one massed fleet such as at the Draycote Dash, Bloody Mary and Tiger Trophy, or in smaller divisions such as at the Grafham Grand Prix and Steve Nicholson Trophy. This scoring formula was used successfully in last year's series, won by Andy Peake in a Musto Skiff.

Enter the Series here: www.sailracer.org/globalwarmup

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 Jack Griffith: I heartily agree that dumbing down sailing is the wrong approach for building an audience. Just listening to the commentary on the ACWS broadcasts you can hear the struggle of how to present sailing so as to attract a wider audience. Some think it needs to be dumbed down. I suggest the announcers need to be smartened up. Yes, sailing is complicated. So are baseball, cricket, American football and, yes, F1. The fans are smart, they can learn the complexity if it's well explained. And, no you don't have to have played the game - I can explain LBW (leg before wicket) in cricket and plenty of American women can explain NFL football. Good news: ACTV has Stan Honey developing amazing augmented reality tools. Bad news: ACEA and ACTV do not have a clear plan of how to use these tools to captivate sailors and educate non-sailors. But they will get there. Hint to ACTV: stop cutting from scene to scene every half second. In the sixties, Stewart Brand made buttons and bumper stickers asking, "Why haven't we seen a picture of the whole earth yet?" and sure enough, NASA turned the cameras around and we got that beautiful picture of our little blue planet. "Why haven't we seen video of a whole gybe yet?"

I've started posting short video Briefings on http://www.cupexperience.com, trying to give people background info. If you have time to take a look and give me your comments, I'd appreciate it. Let me know how you think I'm doing at hitting a useful level of detail.

* From Michael O'Hagan: I have noticed over many years the exponential increase in words per participant in reports on yacht races. It used to be that a report would have 20/30 words per entry. Now the reports covering RTW races and the like have escalated to 500/600 per participant. Shame; quantity before quality: like most French wines.

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The Last Word
Let me tell you the secret that has lead me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity. -- Louis Pasteur

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