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Ben Ainslie Launches America's Cup Campaign
Photo by BAR / Lloyd Images. Click on image to enlarge.

Ainslie Launches America's Cup Campaign Three time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie today announced the launch of a new team that will initially compete in the next edition of the America's Cup World Series along with plans to join ORACLE Racing for the defence of the 34th America's Cup.

Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) will compete in the 2012/13 America's Cup World Series (ACWS), following the completion of Ainslie's London 2012 Olympic campaign in the Men's Singlehanded Heavy Dinghy (Finn class) event.

With the announcement of a new team, the triple Olympic gold medallist also set out his long term vision to challenge for the 35th America's Cup following the conclusion of the 34th Cup in San Francisco in 2013: "I've always tried to have a plan of what I'm doing next after the Olympics. The 2012 Olympics has been the focus, but from that has come the opportunity to be able to build a team which we hope can ultimately go on to challenge for the 35th America's Cup."

Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) will be entering the America's Cup World Series under the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club, which has supported the Olympian since the beginning of his career.

The AC World Series will provide a great testing ground and platform for Ben, as will joining ORACLE Racing for their 2013 defence. Ben will be added to an already impressive line-up which includes some of the best sailors in the world, such as James Spithill, youngest ever winning skipper of the oldest trophy in international sport, and Russell Coutts.

It will be the 34 year old Briton's fourth America's Cup campaign. After the 2000 Sydney Olympics Ainslie joined the American 'One World Challenge'. Post-Athens in 2004 he helped 'Team New Zealand' lift the Louis Vuitton Cup before joining Sir Keith Mills start-up campaign 'TEAMORIGIN' as skipper after his victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Ainslie will not rule out another bid for Olympic gold in Brazil 2016, but for now he sees his future with the America's Cup.

www.americascup.com/BAR

Clipper Race Secures Chinese Entry Until 2016
Clipper Ventures Plc announced at the London Boat Show today that it has signed a major sponsorship deal with Qingdao, host of the sailing events of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, to continue its participation in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race through to 2016.

Qingdao has fielded an entry and hosted the event since 2005 and has credited the Clipper Race with helping it not only prepare for hosting the Olympics but also in developing its brand as China's Sailing City. It will now become the first destination in the world to sponsor six editions of the unique biennial event.

The construction of an innovative new fleet of 12 Clipper 70 yachts, with an option for a further four, is progressing on schedule in China. It will be the world's biggest matched fleet of large ocean racing yachts. UK based suppliers of equipment and services are also being signed up for the new fleet and future races.

Speaking on the opening day of the 2012 London Boat Show, Clipper Ventures founder and chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said, "The manufacture of the Clipper 70s is now well underway and will help us to meet the growing demand from crew and sponsors with a forward programme through to 2020."

The eighth edition of the Clipper Race, Clipper 11-12, is currently halfway through its 40,000-mile circumnavigation en route from the Gold Coast, Australia,to Qingdao via Singapore. The fleet will reach Marina at Keppel Bay, Singapore, on 28 January and the yachts are expected to begin arriving at the Qingdao International Marina and Olympic Sailing Center from 22 February.

clipperroundtheworld.com

French Sailors Selected For London 2012
The French team were the only nation to qualify their country in all of the ten Olympic disciplines for London 2012 during the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships and they have named sailors for eight of ten events.

The members of the French team selected are:
Julien Bontemps (Men's RS:X)
Charline Picon (Women's RS:X)
Jean Baptiste Bernaz (Laser)
Jonathan Lobert (Finn)
Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos (Men's 470)
Manu Dyen and Stephane Christidis (49er)
Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (Star)
Claire Leroy, Marie Riou and Elodie Bertrand (Women's Match Racing).

Selections in the Laser Radial are ongoing with Sarah Steyaert and Sophie de Turckheim shortlisted for the one spot and in the Women's 470 Ingrid Petitjean and Nadege Douroux, Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Geron and Helene Defrance and Emmanuelle Rol will continue to compete for selection.

From the ISAF: www.sailing.org/37679.php

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The Strange Story of the Jules Verne Trophy
Reading the French newspapers over the weekend, you would never think that the record for the fastest yacht to sail non-stop round the world had once gone to a US yacht and skipper.

American adventurer Steve Fossett has effectively been written out of history.

Indeed the outright record Fossett and his crew set in 2004 in the maxi catamaran Cheyenne (still better remembered as PlayStation) has not been mentioned in France. It has been supplanted by Frenchman Olivier de Kersauson's circumnavigation in the trimaran Geronimo the same year - even though de Kersauson was more than five days slower.

Outright sailing records are monitored and ratified by the World Speed Sailing Record Council (WSSRC). To be eligible you pay an administration fee to cover scrutineers' time.

The prize, on the other hand, is the Jules Verne Trophy, a clever media concept dreamt up some 20 years ago by a group including top French sailors Florence Arthaud, Olivier de Kersauson and Titouan Lamazou.

You had to pay to be eligible for that club as well. And back in 2004, Fossett objected to the sum asked.

"It was botched up when Ellen MacArthur came on the scene with big sponsorship money," Fossett told me at the time.

"The Jules Verne Trophy organisation set a new high fee to take advantage of this and they asked me to pay €30,000, whereas my competitors, Olivier de Kersauson and Bruno Peyron were only paying €11,000.

"I thought that was inequitable and I offered to pay the same as my competitors."

They refused to take the same amount, and I believe Fossett was also asked to pay upfront, whereas the others only needed to pay if they won the trophy. The rest is history...or, in the late Fossett's and Cheyenne's case, not history. -- from Elaine Bunting's Blog

Read the full post at www.yachtingworld.com/blogs/elaine-bunting/

Spinnaker Tales
Black Jack the Peter Harburg owned and Mark Bradford skippered maxi-chaser is poised to set a fast course time in the Queensland Cruising Yacht Club Surf to City Ocean race this weekend.

The impressive speed sailing yacht has set her best times when racing in moderate to fresh spinnaker sailing winds and given a forecast of 20-25 knot South East Trade winds stands to challenge the present race record of 7 hours 10 minutes 46 seconds set by the catamaran Flat Chat in 2002.

Designed by the successful American loft of John Riechel and Jim Pugh Black Jack named after World motor racing champion Sir Jack Brabham a person friend of Peter Harburg has already secured line honours wins in the Brisbane to Gladstone and Brisbane to Keppel races which has naturally delighted her popular owner.

Black Jack which was laid up on the hard stand over the past 8 months while Peter Harburg pursed his motor car racing interests in Europe will use the Surf to City race as a full 'dress rehearsal' for the 2012 Brisbane to Gladstone Race starting on Good Friday April 6th.

Her crew including the successful Investec Loyal Rolex Sydney Hobart Race line honours winning crew members Mark Bradford and Vaughan Prentice completed their first training session on Moreton Bay last Friday and are fully prepared to express their speed sailing skill.

"We have re-stepped the mast and are ready to go racing again". Peter Harburg Said.

As expected Black Jack is strongly favoured to post another line honours win ahead of the match racing Farr 40's Lambourdini (David Lambourne) and Bribie Star (Ken Down).

But her crew will face a challenge of consistently recording a boat speed in excess of 12.55 knots over the tactically demanding open ocean leg of the course from the Southport Seaway to the North East Channel entrance and the tricky final stage to the finish line off the Fisheries Beacon in Bramble Bay.

Both the principal skipper Mark Bradford and the crew have the proved potential to set a new record but the result rests with the prevailing forecast which appears promising.

There is little doubt that Black Jack will leave a white water wake for her smaller challengers to follow with interest focusing on the match racing duel between the almost identical Farr 40's Lambourdini and Bribie Star who officials nominate as the most likely to fill the minor line honours places behind Black Jack.

Hopefully the promise of an ideal trade wind forecast will be set in place to provide the fleet with a fast spinnaker sailing breeze to set a form guide in place for the Qantas Link sponsored 308 nautical mile Brisbane to Gladstone Race over the Easter Weekend.

Last Minute Availability for RORC Caribbean 600
OnDeck Global sailing and training company Ondeck have last minute availability for the upcoming RORC Caribbean 600 (charter dates 18th - 24th February). A cancellation has made the superb 2011 Beneteau First 40 'Lancelot II' available for whole boat charter with a limited amount of individual berths also available on one of their Farr 65 Ocean Racing Yachts.

This 600 mile race around the Caribbean Islands starting and finishing in Antigua is fast becoming a favourite for sailors from around the world given the fact that no qualifying races are needed to enter. Ondeck will fully event manage your race and race entry, provisioning, wet weather gear and shore support are all included in the packages.

See www.ondeckoceanracing.com or contact UK tel: +44 (0)1983 284300 All other major Caribbean Regattas also available.

Nick Craig Lifts Yachtsman of the Year Award
Dinghy sailor Nick Craig won the coveted title of YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year for 2011. The announcement was made at an awards ceremony held at Trinity House, London. Nick not only won the highly competitive OK World Championship in 2011 but in doing so also became the only person ever, to hold the World, UK National and Inland championship titles. He also won the RS400 National championship. To conclude an outstanding year, Nick went on to secure an overall win of the extremely challenging Endeavour Championship for the 5th time.

The Endeavour Championship is an annual invitation only event, held at Burnham-on-Crouch, to determine the overall dinghy champion of champions from the UK's most popular dinghy racing classes. Winning the Endeavour Trophy is and always has been recognised as an ultimate dinghy racing achievement. So to win five times, representing different classes throughout the years, puts Nick amongst the most versatile and talented dinghy sailors in the world.

The trophy was presented by Geoff Holt MBE, the 2010 YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year winner.

afloat.ie

boats.com Launches BoatsPOD
BoatsPOD With the launch of BoatsPOD, an innovative online product , UK boating enthusiasts are now receiving a weekly mix of news, feature stories, and exclusive discounts relevant to their particular boating interests.

BoatsPOD ("personalized online download") is the first of its kind in the boating world. For the first time, boaters can sign up for a free weekly delivery of stories focused on their specific types of boating, including several written by experienced marine authors. In addition, subscribers receive dramatic offers from major marine companies unavailable elsewhere.

Readers can manage the type of stories they read each week through an online profile. "Besides giving subscribers the chance to fine tune each weekly edition," said Julian Gowing, general manager of Boats.com Europe, "what's exciting and unique about BoatsPOD is that readers can upload and share their own stories through the same interface." Subscribers may also place advertisements for readers in the their local marina area at no charge.

Dozens of special offers have been provided by major companies including Henri-Lloyd, 3H Italia, LaserPerformance, Hobie Exclusive, and Harken. While anyone may subscribe to boatsPOD, offers are currently only available in the UK.

Boats.com welcomes boaters and trade representatives to learn more about BoatsPOD at the Boardwalk lounge they are sponsoring at the Tullett Prebon London Boat Show. The show runs from 6-15 January at ExCel London.

www.boatspod.co.uk

33rd America's Cup Judicial and Arbitral Decisions
Hamish Ross, Graham McKenzie and Prof. Henry Peter have thought that it would be of interest for the international sailing community to collect, save and make available all judicial and arbitral decisions issued in relation to the 33rd edition of the America's Cup, in the same manner as has been done following the 31st and the 32nd America's Cup editions.

That book just came out under the title "The 33rd America's Cup Judicial and Arbitral Decisions" (Henry Peter (ed.); Hamish Ross; Graham McKenzie; Kluwer Law International, 2011).

This book - continuing the tradition of Kluwer Law International's earlier publications on the 31st and 32nd America's Cup - offers expert commentary (along with the decision texts themselves) on the judgments of various Courts and other dispute resolution bodies delivered during the tumultuous 33rd America's Cup. Since there is no official complete record of many of these documents, this book is the only source that presents them together, in sequence, in a single volume, with the added benefit of commentary.

- Commentary and all documents pertaining to the initial challenge launched by Club Nautico Espanol de Vela (CNEV). These documents include: the Protocol initially agreed by Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG), the then holder of the Cup, and CNEV; the version of the Protocol as thereafter amended as a consequence, inter alia, of the parties' controversy with the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC); as well as an arbitration panel award and a series of U.S. Court judgments regarding GGYC's successful attempt to nullify CNEV's challenge and therefore become the "valid" challenger for the 33rd America's Cup match.

- Commentary and all decisions (mainly U.S. Court judgments) regarding matters which became controversial between GGYC and SNG, leading up to the so-called "Deed Match".

- Commentary and decisions issued by the International Jury which operated during the 33rd America's Cup event.

- Commentary and documents executed by SNG and GGYC pursuant to which they eventually agreed to settle their disputes in 2010.

A concluding chapter provides information and documents pertaining to the America's Cup trademarks and other intellectual property issues and to the management of the America's Cup.

The book can be purchased online through the internet website of Kluwer Law International:
www.kluwerlaw.com

Peter Holmberg to Seek Third Title in 2012 Budget Marine Match Racing Cup
Photo by Bob Grieser / OutsideImages.com. Click on image to enlarge.

Budget Marine Match Racing Cup Simpson Bay, St. Maarten: Virgin Islands sailing legend Peter Holmberg - the only Caribbean sailor to win both an Olympic Medal and the America's Cup - will return to one of his favorite sailing venues next month to compete in the fourth running of the Budget Marine Match Racing Cup. The annual event, scheduled this year for February 28, will serve as the official kick-off to the 32nd edition of the world-renowned St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, which begins on March 2.

Holmberg, who won the first two editions of the innovative Budget Marine Match Racing series, was denied a third trip to the winner's circle last year when he was upset in the finals by New Zealand ace Gavin Brady.

Eight teams of sailors will once again gather in St. Maarten to compete for the $8,000 purse: $5,000 for the winning team; $2,000 for the runner-up; and $1,000 for the third-place finishers. But Holmberg said that the prize money was only a small part of the attraction in competing for the Budget Marine Cup.

"The racing is held in the Simpson Bay Lagoon to promote spectating, so we are often racing in between moored boats and marinas," he said. "This can make the racing quite tricky, but that's all in the spirit of the event. St. Maarten itself is a very friendly island, which always makes for a fun time visiting."

Holmberg will also be racing in the "main event" later that week - the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta - aboard the new Reichel-Pugh IRC 52, Highland Fling.

"Anyone who is an accomplished match racer, male or female, who would like to enjoy match and fleet racing, perhaps win a pile of cash, and enjoy some of the finest regatta parties in the Caribbean should email the regatta office () and submit their sailing CV for consideration," said Regatta Director Heather Tackling. "The cost of participation is only $100 though a refundable deposit of $500 is required to confirm the slot."

www.heinekenregatta.com

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 Euan Ross: Well, we expected smoke and mirrors at Ben's Bar, but what I for one didn't expect was such a mind-blowing cocktail. As an unreconstructed old cynic, I tuned in at ten o'clock on Tuesday expecting very little; what we got, however, was the deal of the century. Ben Ainslie has somehow parlayed his status as the World's best sailor into a contract package with no apparent downsides and, by the by, rescued Britain from a position of irrelevance at yachting's top table. There are still many aspects of AC 34 that clearly aren't working, principally in relation to excessive costs, reaching out to the disenfranchised community of traditional support and respecting the heritage of the Cup; however, there is no question that it's better to be part of all this than grumbling on the sidelines.

On the other hand, it's not immediately obvious why Oracle is prepared to go to such lengths to neutralise Ben through AC34. It seems more like a pact with the devil. They will launch Ainslie into AC 35 equipped with all the tools necessary to emulate Coutts himself when he jumped ship to successfully lead Alinghi into battle. Finally, I can't imagine that the newly endowed Barflies and Barbells will be popular among the other Challengers, or indeed with Mr James Spithill who will, it seems, now have to fight for the driving seat on the 72. In AC 32, with government-backed TNZ, Ben was never going to displace a Kiwi, but I'd guess that Oracle can swap an Aussie for a Brit without a qualm. 

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The Last Word
Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us. -- Calvin & Hobbes

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