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French Victory in the First Leg of Sailing Arabia - The Tour
Photo by Mark Lloyd, www.lloydimages.com. Click on image for photo gallery.

Sailing Arabia - The Tour The first leg of Sailing Arabia - the Tour concluded in darkness in Doha, Qatar, last night (13 February) with Daniel Souben's Courrier Dunkerque claiming a leg one victory for the all-French team.

Souben's crew led the nine-strong fleet from start to finish, rounding the windward top mark in clear air ahead of closest rivals Bertrand Pace on Team Commercial Bank (QATAR), and Cedric Pouligny, Team BAE Systems (OMA).

Souben continued to pile on the pressure in fast downwind sailing conditions and eventually crossed the finish line 31min 32sec ahead of Team BAE Systems with Team Commercial Bank finishing a close third.

The yachts started the first leg from Manama, Bahrain with a fresh 20 knot northerly promising an exciting downhill run all the way to Doha but with the wind forecast to ease throughout the race, early pace was the key and it was here Souben's crew excelled.

Despite the gap between Souben and Pouligny at the finish the remainder of fleet remained tightly packed for most of the race with little opportunity for tactics or cunning to come into play.

The second leg of the race sails from The Pearl Marina, Doha south to Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club on Wednesday February 15 (1000 hours local time) and is the longest and most challenging of the tour covering 296 kilometres.

Over the course of 15 days of racing, the fleet will cover 1,408 kilometers, sailing from Bahrain, to Qatar, before heading to the UAE where they will visit Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah. They will then take in three stops in Omani waters - Musandam, Mussanah and the final port in Oman's capital, Muscat.

All boats are fitted with on board tracking. You can follow the fleet at
www.sailingarabiathetour.com

Class40 Financial Crisis Closes In For The Kill
After 16 days and over 3,000 miles of racing in Leg 3 of the Global Ocean Race (GOR), the recent pain continues for Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel as Cessna Citation remains glued to the sea in dead calm conditions at 55S with Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon charging in from behind with Financial Crisis and getting ready for a close battle to the Felipe Cubillos Cape Horn Gate at the southern tip of South America. As the fleet leaders battle with light airs, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire have been heavily-reefed and hitting big speeds west of the bluQube Scoring Gate with Phesheya-Racing.

The overall conditions at 55S are beginning to extract a heavy cost from the Spanish sailor: "We're less than 3,000 miles to the finish line in Uruguay, but having raced over halfway around the world, it doesn't seem so far," continues Ramon. "This is lucky, as the whole of my left side is covered in bruises having slept in a bad position as the boat slammed around and I'm looking forward to a soft mattress!"

At 15:00 GMT on Monday, Nannini and Ramon were just over three miles off Colman and Kuttel's starboard quarter. "The cold is truly horrible right now," Ramon reports. "Whenever we have to trim sails it takes forever to warm up again and your hands never really recover," he explains. Currently, Financial Crisis is 1,400 miles from Cape Horn and around 1,000 miles north of the Abbot Ice Shelf in the Chilean sector of West Antarctica: "Every time I go up on deck, I think I'm going to come face-to-face with an angry penguin!" adds Ramon.

While the crews of Cessna Citation and Financial Crisis could potentially rely on each other for assistance in case of a drama in the Southern Ocean, Phesheya-Racing is isolated 800 miles north-west of the leading duo. Leggatt has been looking at the electronic charts on board and at the nearest land to the north in French Polynesia: "Zoom in a bit on the chart to check the name of the atoll," he suggests. "Mururoa. Mmm...not a lot of help coming from there then, ever since the military blew it up with an atom bomb, just for fun," says Leggatt of the area's 30-year history of French nuclear tests.

The nearest inhabited island to the South Africans is Rapa, or Easter Island: "It is 1,222 miles away and any thoughts of help from there bring on visions of Polynesian war canoes gliding across tropical seas," comments Leggatt. "So hopefully you'll forgive us if we sail a bit cautiously and conservatively for the next couple of thousand miles..." At 15:00 GMT on Tuesday, Phesheya-Racing was averaging the highest speeds in the trio at 8.6 knots with 240 miles remaining until the bluQube Scoring Gate.

GOR leaderboard at 15:00 GMT 14/2/12:
1. Cessna Citation, 2847 to leg finish, 1.9kts
2. Financial Crisis, 3.6 nm to leader, 6.4kts
3. Phesheya-Racing, 935 nm to leader, 8.6kts

globaloceanracing.com

ORACLE Racing Returns to San Francisco Bay for Training Session
ORACLE Racing, Team USA for the 34th America's Cup in 2013, returned to San Francisco Bay today, commencing the first of two training sessions.

The team took its two AC45 wingsail catamarans out for practice with full crews. The wind strength built into the teens in the afternoon and the session was welcomed by the sailors.

"It was a cold day but a beautiful day. The sun was shining and we had a great breeze in the afternoon," said team skipper Jimmy Spithill. "It's good to be back in town and get back into sailing. The shore guys have done a great job getting the boats in shape and I think everyone is looking forward to getting wet again."

The team's American tactician John Kostecki, originally from the Bay area, agreed.

"It was an unusually nice day for winter sailing on San Francisco Bay," said Kostecki. "We ended up having a nice strong seabreeze pretty similar to the summertime breeze, and it was good to get both boats out and slamming around."

Two years ago today Spithill and Kostecki were but two of the many celebrating ORACLE Racing's victory in the 33rd America's Cup off Valencia, Spain. In about 18 months, on Sept. 7, 2013, the 34th America's Cup Match is scheduled to begin between ORACLE Racing's Team USA and a yet-to-be determined challenger.

While a year and a half is a long time, the match is virtually around the corner for team members.

"It's definitely crunch time," said Kostecki. "Time's valuable. The Cup's just around the corner and we're definitely feeling the heat."

"It's amazing how quick the time has gone," Spithill said. "It doesn't feel like two years ago we finished the last one and the next is a year and a half away. Everyone's happy we're back at it and going forward, but it's a case now of making the correct decisions as we go forward."

The training session will conclude on Feb. 24, and a second two-week session is planned.

www.oracleracing.com

Sales Professional - Luxury Sailing Yachts
Oyster Award winning, UK yacht builder, Oyster Marine, has an exciting opportunity for an experienced sales professional to join our international sales team.

The successful candidate will have to demonstrate an ability to earn the respect and confidence of Oyster's discerning customers, with a proven track record of building strong customer relationships and selling a premium product. Whilst marine industry knowledge would be useful, e.g brokerage sales, the successful candidate must be an experienced yachtsman. Fluency in at least one other European language, in addition to English, would be an advantage but is not essential.

Full training will be given whilst initially based at our UK head office. By mutual agreement the applicant could be located at our head office in Ipswich or at our new office in Palma, Mallorca.

Applications will be treated in the strictest confidence and should be sent for the attention of Murray Aitken to

No agencies thank you.

www.oystermarine.com

Times Take Toll on Veolia Sponsorship
Sponsorships come and go. While it is true that long term partnerships deliver better returns than short-term sponsorships, even the most successful deals come to an end.

Many outlets reported the news that Veolia Environnement has ended its partnership with Roland Jourdain with horror - but while hugely dissapointing for Bilou and his team, the deal has been one of sailing's most enduring partnerships of recent times and should be held up as a case-study of how the sport can deliver in the worst of times.

In fact, it is testament to the belief Veolia Environment has in the sport, that the company has backed Open 60 and MOD70 campaigns through a time when its share price has fallen from around 60 euros in 2008 to around 8 euros in January this year.

Its times like these that we are reminded that teams of this sort are not just the person driving the boat, but a group of hard-working specialists who live and breathe competitive sailing who will be affected. From that point of view, the end of a sponsorship deal like this is a blow to the sport.

But perhaps some comfort can be taken from another sport, which suggests that there is still a healthy appetite for sponsorship.

Unilever is not normally a company that does sponsorship deals with sports like F1, but last week, the Lotus Formula One team - formerly Renault - announced that two Unilver brands would sponsor the team in 2012.

Rexona, the deodorant brand known as Sure in the UK, Degree in the USA, and anti-dandruff shampoo brand Clear will be on the cars driven by Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.

Unfortunately, while parts of sailing aspire to be like F1, the offer to sponsors still falls short in many areas. In other parts of the sport, there is incredible value for money, but in a time where every cent of marketing spend is under scrutiny the pitch has to be perfect. -- David Fuller in YachtRacing.biz:

www.yachtracing.biz

174th Royal Hobart Regatta
Click on image to enlarge.

Royal Hobart Regatta The Royal Hobart Regatta is second only to Sydney's Australia Day Regatta in longevity, today celebrating its 174th anniversary on a perfect late summer's day in the capital of the island State of Tasmania.

Regatta Day has been a public holiday since 1838 when the then Governor, Sir John Franklin, declared it a day of recreation and fun afloat and ashore for the citizens of the then small Hobart Town on the banks of the River Derwent.

Sir John and Lady Franklin led a sail past to the regatta grounds, still used today, and with a benevolent gesture, turned on free beer and food for the populace.

Tasmania's current Governor Mr Peter Underwood AC arrived by water, too, on the historic launch Egeria, but his Government House budget no longer runs to providing drinks and food for the citizens of this city of now some 250,000 people.

Apart the summer of the horrific bushfire of 1967, the Royal Hobart Regatta has been held continuously since 1838, not far behind the Australia Day Regatta which on 26 January this year celebrated 176 years of unbroken continuity.

Wayne Banks-Smith's War Games was out again for the Royal Hobart Regatta, this time taking line honours from the 23-boat fleet in perfect sailing conditions, a constant 14-16 knot south-easterly seabreeze, gusting to 19 knots.

Winner of the historic Lipton Trophy, decided on PHS handicaps, was the smallest boat in the fleet, Greg Rowling's J24, Another Toy, from Ian Johnston's Portabello and John Hunn's Atilla.

The AMS division saw a win for Ian Stewart's Mumm 36 TasPaints from Colin Denny's new Beneteau First 40, The Protagonist, and Total Locks and Alarms, skippered by John Mills. This was the first race for The Protagonist under an AMS rating, with an AMS division introduced for the first time in this year's Royal Hobart Regatta. -- Peter Campbell

Coutts Not Worried by Lack of Challengers
Sir Russell Coutts is confident that more than three challengers will line up in next year's America's Cup, but says even a condensed fleet would produce top quality racing.

The head of Cup defender Oracle Racing says he "highly doubts" that the three challengers now building AC72s - Emirates Team New Zealand, Italians Luna Rossa and the Swedish Artemis challenge - will be the only competitors in the Louis Vuitton Cup, sailing off San Francisco in July next year to find an opponent for Oracle Racing in the America's Cup match.

June 1 is the deadline for the other six teams now racing AC45s - smaller versions of the Cup boats - to pay their entry fees as viable challengers for the 34th America's Cup.

"I do think there will be more than four boats. But I don't think in my involvement in the America's Cup have I seen four teams as good; they are as competitive as any I have been involved with," Coutts told Boating New Zealand magazine.

"In a competitive sense, I don't think it matters that much. In an awareness sense, if you have teams like Korea, China and France.

Full story by Suzanne McFadden, in the Taranaki Daily News:
www.stuff.co.nz/sport/

The Fulcrum Files by Mark Chisnell
Fulcrum Files by Mark Chisnell The young Ben Clayton was one of Britain's brightest boxing prospects, until the day he slammed a left hook into a fragile chin. Sickened by the consequences he turned away from the ring, found solace in the arms of the beautiful Lucy Kirk and looked to a new challenge - winning the America's Cup in the great J Class Yachts.

On the 7th March 1936, after almost two decades of peace in Europe, Hitler ordered the German Army back into the Rhineland. It was a direct challenge to Britain and France. Still unnerved by the toll of the Great War, the politicians dithered and history teetered on a knife edge. But the spymasters were busy - just one man could make the difference between war and peace, victory or defeat. And that man was Ben Clayton.

Mark Chisnell's brand new spy thriller returns to an epic period of history, and an epic period of sailing. Now available at Amazon:

www.amazon.co.uk/The-Fulcrum-Files

Spinnaker Tales
The exceptional one-design sailing skills of Hamilton Island skipper Glenn Bourke and his Sunshine Coast crew mates Rod Jones and Greg McAllansmith will be placed on notice on Tasmania's River Derwent this weekend.

As expected the talented trio who race Club Marine Blue under the Hamilton Island Yacht Club burgee are listed as the pre-title favourite for the 12 race Australian SB3 sports boat championship to be contested on the tricky Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania courses from Saturday to Monday.

They have been the National pacesetters in the strict art form of one-design racing in this exciting clone class since finishing fourth in the 2011 World championship in England.

However while the trio of Club Marine Blue sailors have gained enormous respect they will need to be at the top of the game of 'nautical chess' to master the class of local Tasmanian helmsman and former World Dragon Class champion Nick Rogers at the tiller of Toll Shipping.

Victories in the heavy weather Queensland championship at Hamilton Island last August followed by an equally impressive win in the open Victorian State title on Geelong's Corio Bay in late January has set the form guide for Queensland's Club Marine Blue racing team to be listed as the pre-nationals favourite.

But as every sailor who has had the experience in racing in this tantalising class realises there is no margin for even the slightest error in tactical strategy or crew technique.

The stakes are high and the tactical pressure to master sailing in the cooler latitudes in what is expected to be a variable forecast represents a challenge for all crews including Glenn Bourke, Rod Jones and Greg McAllansmith and their Mooloolaba rival Phil Gray's Dulon Polish combination.

Both crews who were involved in a collision during the Queensland championship which resulted in the Dulon Polish crew reluctantly recovering their sails and broken mast from a wind tormented Dent Passage understand the importance of taking risks to maintain the upper hand.

But as Phil Gray explained "I took the chance to cross their bow knowing it would be close but came off second best". He said.

Similar close racing is expected to become a feature on the River Derwent this weekend when the highly competitive fleet tension their sails for the important points and major place medals Australian championship.

The hard core knowledge of local conditions suggests Nick Rogers and his Toll Shipping crew has the experience and tactical skills to present a serious challenge to the inform Queenslander's in Club Marine Blue.

However the forecast of showers combined with a temperature range between 12 to 21 degrees plus an element of uncertainty in the wind direction and velocity suggests this championship will be decided by the crew who sails the smartest and fastest with the wind that blows over their deck. -- 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 John Harwood-Bee: Ben Ainslie was indeed wrong to react in the manner he did. Even a 'driven' person such as Ben should maintain control. However to suggest that there is a comparison between his reaction and that of Eric Cantona  is stretching believe. There is a vast difference between violent kicking and throwing punches and a bit of pushing and shoving. Judged on the evidence so far ( by the way where is the film footage?), no court would have handed Ainslie the punishment metered out to Cantona.

The most telling word in Brad Dellenbaughs comment is 'INNAPROPRIATELY' in reference to the trialling of the media coverage. Not only was it inappropriate, it was downright ludicrous. A proper court case would demand to see all the evidence, would review the experience and actions of the media boat skipper, the ISAF decision making process and the video footage. It is my considered opinion that the court would then find Ainslie guilty with extenuating circumstances, that he acted under extreme provocation and that ISAF had to be held at least 50% responsible. The punishment would be no more that he has already suffered and neither should it be.

* From Jonathan Crinion: Re: Media on, above and over the race course.

Imagine a football game with electric golf carts weaving around filled with camera people attempting to get the best photo. Imagine them stationing themselves in front of a striker and then in front of the net as he runs up to take a shot on goal so they can get a good photo. There is no difference between this scenario and the one going on in the sailing world. The solution: Sailors unite and simply refuse to start a race until the course area is clear and they have assurances that it will be kept clear and policed for the duration of the race. If a boat (or person) enters the space, the race stopped until the course is cleared and a new start line is established and the race restarted. A football game is stopped if someone comes on the playing field and this is what should happen if someone comes on the sailing course. End of story.

* From Gerald New: Water Rat, well attempting to justify a case for greater sanctions on Ben Ainslie, fails to compare like with like and deliberately ignores the reality of the two very different sports and situations.

Sailing has not yet reached the fanatical level of spectator bias that has plagued football for decades. I have yet to see mass course invasions triggered by the deliberate provocation of players as is the norm in football. Or roaming gangs of "supporters" smashing up shops and attacking bystanders when they feel aggrieved with a sail race result or jury decision.

The potential for crowd mayhem and injuries (and deaths) triggered by player actions at football matches is such that the controlling sports bodies have had to apply sentences that will not only deter players from such actions - even when deliberately provoked - but that will also protect themselves from any legal challenge by the injured parties.

Sailing has come a long way from the days of self-policing, but does not need such attempts by anonymous commentators to talk up a situation.

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.

Brokerage through Yoti: www.yachtworld.com/yoti/

Complete listing details and seller contact information at
uk.yachtworld.com

The Last Word
The quieter you become, the more you can hear. -- Ram Dass

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