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Groupama Dismasts, Camper and Abu Dhabi in Puerto Montt
Photo by Yann Riou / Groupama Sailing Team / Volvo Ocean Race. Click on image for photo gallery.

Groupama Dismasts Groupama were tonight limping towards a haven in Uruguay after being forced to suspend racing from the fifth leg after the mast broke with a second successive victory agonisingly close.

"We just lost the rig now, all the crew is safe. We are working to stabilise the rig on the boat. Not easy" - Groupama skipper Franck Cammas

Groupama's dismasting while in the lead earlier today leaves PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA) with only Telefonica (Iker Martínez/ESP) able to challenge them for the lead in the final stage of what has been an incredible Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajaí.

With 677 nautical miles to go to the finish line, Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) dismasted 60 nautical miles (nm) south of Punta del Este, the Uruguayan port that has hosted the Whitbread Race [the forerunner of the Volvo Ocean Race] on three occasions.

The team held a narrow lead of about 2.2 nm over PUMA at the time and was sailing close-hauled on port tack, when the rig broke, level with the first spreader, about 10 metres above the deck.

"We just lost the rig now, all the crew is safe. We are working to stabilise the rig on the boat. Not easy," a desolate skipper Franck Cammas told Race HQ at the time.

"We suspend the race now and have a look at what doing. We are 59 miles to Punta del Este."

* Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will ship their boat to Brazil and return to strength for the Itajaí In-Port Race after damage forced them to retire from Leg 5.

The team made the tough call not to attempt to complete the 6,700 nautical mile leg from Auckland to preserve the safety of the crew and stop further damage to their yacht Azzam. Skipper Ian Walker notified race officials of his team's retirement at 1000 UTC on Wednesday.

With 50-knot winds and 10-metre seas forecast at Cape Horn for the next four days, Walker said their decision was "the only logical option".

"As skipper my overriding responsibility is the safety of Azzam and her crew and this is always at the forefront of my mind," Walker said.

"The Southern Ocean is one part of the world you do not want to head out into with a yacht that is not 100 per cent.

"We have carefully reviewed all our options, spoken with our build teams and weather experts and this was the only logical choice available to us."

Abu Dhabi first discovered the damage to the mid section of the left side of Azzam's hull on March 29 while battling horrendous Southern Ocean conditions.

The crew carried out a daring mid-sea repair in 35 knots and four-metre seas, drilling 30 bolts through the hull to reinforce the damaged section.

Despite the team's heroics, it was decided the repair was not strong enough to take on the remaining 3,000 nm of the leg.

On April 4 the team arrived in Puerto Montt Chile.

* The CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand crew is confident of resuming racing in Leg 5 to Itajai over the weekend with repairs on the boat's damaged bow section expected to take three to four days in Puerto Montt. The team arrived in the Chilean port at 2100 local time on Tuesday night and the shore crew, led by Neil Cox, wasted no time in assessing the hull with a full ultrasound survey to check for no further unseen damage.

Skipper Chris Nicholson, competing in his fourth Volvo Ocean Race and no stranger to adversity, said his team was determined to reach Itajai in time to compete in the in-port race.

Shore crew manager Neil Cox said on Tuesday he was hopeful of a quickfire pit stop. "During the course of all this work our sailing team will be getting their heads around the remaining leg as well as any other boat detailing, and with all best intentions and a little luck we hope to be in Brazil and in a position to finish the leg and compete in the in-port race there," he said.

Ummm... Yeah, There Are Only Two Boats Sailing...
Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad issued a statement on Wednesday expressing his concern at the continuing instances of boats suffering serious damage in the 2011-12 edition.

Frostad, who competed in the race four times himself, said it was not acceptable to have so many incidents of boats failing in a Volvo Ocean Race. Frostad said race organisers would continue to do everything possible to get the boats not currently sailing back in the race as soon as possible.

Text of statement, which was released after Groupama sailing team announced they had suffered a broken mast, leaving only two boats currently racing in Leg 5 from Auckland in New Zealand to Itajaí in Brazil:

"It's too early to conclude exactly why this has happened but we are obviously concerned about seeing so many incidents of damage to our boats both in this leg and in the race as a whole.

"It is not acceptable that in a race like this we have so many failures. It is not unusual for boats to suffer problems, and sailors and shore teams are used to having to deal with some issues with their boats, but this has been on a bigger scale than in the past.

"It's important that we don't leap to any conclusions about why these breakages have happened. Some of them are clearly not related. However, we will take the current issues into account as we make decisions on rules and technology we will be using in the future.

"We have already put in a lot of work, discussing with teams, designers and all other stakeholders about the boats and the rules we will use in the future, and we expect to be in a position to announce a decision on that before the end of the current race.

"For the time being, our focus continues to be on the safety of the sailors. We are doing everything we can to help Groupama, and the rest of the teams not currently sailing, get back in the race as soon as possible."

volvooceanrace.com

High Stakes for Last Qualification Day
Photo by Nico Martinez, www.nicomartinez.com. Click on image for photo gallery.

43 Trofeo Princesa Sofia The third day of racing at the 43 Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma ended the qualification stage for the classes sailing in groups. The Lasers, 470 and 49ers will be split on Thursday in Gold and Silver fleets with a Bronze fleet only for Lasers and 49ers.

With racing on schedule, all classes are discarding tonight their worse results creating some changes in the classification. Only Ben Ainslie (GBR) in the Finn, Marit Bouwmeester (NED) in the Laser radial and Thierry Schmitter (NED) in the 2.4 are conserving the lead after winning races today.

The 49ers will be split in three groups tomorrow with the top 25 selected into the Gold fleet. The 470 men and women have new leaders. The Croatian pair of Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic, third at the ISAF Worlds in Perth, have climbed to first after a third and a second place. World Champions Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) are taking second position overall after scoring similar results.

Australian Tom Burton is taking the lead in the Laser standard over Nick Thompson (AUS) and Charley Buckingham (USA). Two races victories was the only condition for Jared West to make it into the Gold fleet. In 45th position the Australian is narrowly making the cut!

In seventh position is Juan Ignacio Maegli from Guatemala. Qualifying his country for the Olympic Games in Perth, Maegli is following the family tradition: his father participated in three consecutive Olympic Games from 1976 to 1984 in the Finn.

Olympic Gold medallists are sharing top places in the Star class with Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson in first place two points from Brazilian Scheidt/Prada. This is a high point score regatta with all sailors collecting up and down results. Swiss team of Marazzi / De Maria and Loof/ Salminen (SWE) were the fastest across the starting line today with a win and an OCS each. Racing will resume on Thursday at 10 am for the Women Match-racing and 11 am for the other classes.

* The third day at the 43rd Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE proved to be a big day for the six teams in the Repechage - only two would advance to the Quarter Finals, the other four go home. The racing was very close with Ekaterina Skudina (RUS) winning the round with 4 wins and only one loss. The next three teams were tied with 3 wins and 2 losses and only one would advance. After digging deep in the rule book the tie was broken in favor of Claire Leroy (FRA) with Renee Groeneveld (NED) and Silja Lehtinen (FIN) losing out. Skudina and Leroy advance to the Quarter Finals and will face the top two from the Gold Group.

In the Gold Group, Lucy Macgregor (GBR) leads the way with an undefeated score of 3 wins and no losses. Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) and Tamara Echegoyen (ESP) follow closely with 2 wins each. The Gold Group will finish their round robin in the morning and the seeding for the Quarter Finals will be complete.

Day Three Results:

Repechage Round Robin:
1. Ekaterina Skudina, Elena Siuzeva, Elena Oblova - RUS : 4 wins - 1 loss
2. Claire Leroy, Elodie Bertrand , Marie Riou - FRA : 3 - 2
3. Renee Groeneveld, Annemiek Bes , Marcelien de Koning - NED : 3 - 2
4. Silja Lehtinen, Silja Kanerva , Mikaela Wulff - FIN : 3 - 2
5. Stephanie Hazard, Jenna Hansen, Susannah Pyatt - NZL : 2 - 3
6. Silvia Roca, Eva Gonzalez, Lara Cacabelos - ESP : 0 - 5

Gold Round Robin (after 3 of 5 flights - to be completed Thursday):

Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush , Kate Macgregor - GBR : 3 wins - 0 losses
Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer, Debbie Capozzi - USA : 2 - 1
Tamara Echegoyen, Angela Pumariega , Sofía Toro - ESP : 2 - 1
Sally Barkow, Elizabeth Kratzig-Burnham , Alana O'Reilly - USA : 1 - 2
Mandy Mulder, Annemiek Bekkering , Merel Witteveen - NED : 1 -2
Olivia Price, Nina Curtis , Lucinda Whitty - AUS : 0 - 3:

Racing begins at 1000 tomorrow with the remainder of the Gold Group followed by the Quarter Finals.

www.trofeoprincesasofia.org

Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup
The Royal Ocean Racing Club's more open rating bands for the 2012 Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup are having the desired effect: As the deadline closed for teams wishing to enter the British trials for this July's Cowes-based event, so 17 boats had registered - a near record compared to past trials.

While 17 boats are entered in the trials, still unresolved is the number that will make it through, as the GBR selectors have yet to decide whether they will enter three or four teams (each comprising three boats).

This year the selection is focussing on the performance of the 17 boats at two events: the RORC's Morgan Cup offshore starting on 5th May and the Royal Corinthian YC's Vice-Admiral's Cup inshore series over 18-20th May. The latter will feature a 'Commodores' Cup class'.

As to why so many boats have entered the trials in these austere times, one reason is certainly the RORC's amendment to the rating bands. For this year's Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup there is effectively one large rating band, with eligible boats required to have an IRC time correction co-efficient (TCC) of 1.020-1.230. Among each three boat team only one can be a 'big boat' (ie with a TCC of 1.150-1.230), so a team could field a team with no 'big boat'.

As present the British contenders include three Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup 'big boats' - the two Ker 40s, Jonathan Goring's Keronimo and Andrew Pearce's Magnum III, and Ian Blair's King 40, Cobra.

Several others are repeat customers from the 2010 British team. Former Commodore of the RORC, Andrew McIrvine is back with his First 40, La Reponse, while his co-2010 co-skipper Peter Morton has entered his own recently acquired Corby 33, Salvo. Steven and Jane Anderson are back, but on a different boat having bought the well known Corby 40, Cracklin Rosie, which Brian Wilkinson campaigned two years ago.

commodorescup.rorc.org

Round 1, 2012 Uk 18ft Skiff Grand Prix - Stone
The Australian 18ft skiff season finished last weekend, whilst on the other side of the world the new skiff season starts. Six UK teams arrived at Stone Sailing Club in Essex for the first round of the UK Grand Prix. On Saturday a mixed forecast contributed to a difficult rig choice with 2 of the 6 teams opting for smaller rigs.

In the first race most teams had some time in the lead as others had a few swims, mainly due to the gusty conditions and rusty crew work.

Although Sunday morning was forecast to have a fading light breeze the Stone SC Race Management team did a fantastic job to get a further 3 races away.

Unsurprisingly the experienced team Pica, Stewart and Jamie Mears with Tristan Hutt, dominated the first event with 4 of 5 race wins, but the enthusiasm of newer teams combined with the friendly and helpful guidance of more experienced competitors, it now seems that many more boats are capable of a podium position on the UK Grand Prix. The top positions may well become harder to defend later in the season. -- Ben Clothier

1. Pica, Jame Mears / Stewrd Mears / Tristan Hutt, 4 points
2. Hyde Sails, Jack Grogan / Mike Banks / Sam Caslin, 9
3. HPF, Steve McLean / Nick Murray / Tom Bruton, 11
4. Carsington, Richard Allen / Richard Bland / Peter Shaw, 18
5. Young & Reckless, Tom Hill / Miguel Andrew / Mark Kudlinski, 19
6. Aftica / Swordfish, Mark Watts / Marcelle Newbauld / Alex Farr, 24

uk18footer.org

Luna Rossa Challenge 2013
Palermo, Italy: Team Luna Rossa Challenge 2013, Challenger to the 34th America's Cup, has been presented today in Mondello, Palermo, at the Circolo della Vela Sicilia, the challenging Yacht Club.

The President of Circolo della Vela Sicilia, Agostino Randazzo, and the Team Principal of Luna Rossa Challenge 2013, Patrizio Bertelli, welcomed the guests, including the President of the Palermo Province, Giovanni Avanti, the President of the Italian Sailing Federation, Carlo Croce, and the Sports Delegate of the Sicily Region, Daniele Tranchida. A large group of media representatives and a delegation of the America's Cup Event Authority were also present.

Team Luna Rossa Challenge 2013 was represented by skipper Max Sirena, helmsmen Paul Campbell-James and Chris Draper, sailors Francesco Bruni and Manuel Modena, and the designers, coaches, and other shore personnel Roberto Biscontini, Andrea Casimirri, Steve Erickson, Antonio Marrai, Umberto Panerai, Matteo Plazzi and Luis Saenz.

Max Sirena, Skipper of Luna Rossa Challenge 2013, stated: "We have been working very hard in the last few months and the whole team has proved to be ready to meet the challenges of the upcoming AC 45 competitions. We are pleased with the status of our work on the construction of the new wing-sail catamaran AC 72 that we plan to launch in Autumn."

lunarossachallenge.com

Rolex China Sea Race 2012
50 years after the inaugural China Sea Race took place, the 2012 Rolex China Sea Race started at 1220hrs today in front of Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in Hong Kong's iconic Victoria Harbour.

Race Officer Jimmy Farquhar was on the water from 0900hrs, looking for breeze. In spite of a quiet patch at Lei Yue Mun gap, the gateway to the eastern approaches, Farquhar rewarded the crowds lining the balcony at Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and Shau Kei Wan waterfront with a Club start.

In 14 knots of swinging easterly, Farquhar sounded the warning signal on schedule, and the 26-strong fleet started jockeying for position on the line. Geoff Hill's Dubois 90, Genuine Risk, dipped the line 30 seconds before the gun to avoid an OCS call, with Sam Chan's TP52 Freefire only just making it back for the start.

Simon Powell's A40, Sell Side Dream got a great start, however it was only seconds before Genuine Risk, with her instantly recognizable rig, claimed her spot at the head of the fleet to lead it out of the Harbour, followed closely by defending champion, Hi Fi.

Many competitors cite the 'holes' approaching the Philippine coast as one of the major challenges in the Race, but were probably not expecting to get some practice in only half and hour after the start, as the leading boats hit a hole off Chai Wan which then spread west into Lei Yue Mun to slow down the back half of the fleet.

While Genuine Risk and Hi Fi slowed, they didn't stop, and were last seen disappearing past Tathong Point, known within RHKYC as 'Jimmy's rock', however viewers can follow the race with Yellowbrick Tracking, on the Rolex China Sea Race Website at www.rhkyc.org.hk/RCSR2012tracking.aspx

Setting The Record Straight
Last week in Sail-World we announced that Ukrainian-Russian crew aboard 30m sailing yacht Scorpius had claimed a new world record in sailing farther south into Antarctica than any other boat had gone, reaching 77 degrees. But we were wrong - well, in a way; because in 1965, Lt. Commander Steve Cockley, based in Mc Murdo Sound, had sailed a Moth, Tiny Too, an 11ft (3.4m) dinghy at 77.5 degrees south. Of course he didn't sail it TO Antarctica, just IN Antarctica.

To celebrate his achievement, he wrote a letter (not an email, in 1965) to the designer of the Moth, Hal Wagstaff

So it's the International Moth that holds the current world record for the furthest south a sailing craft has ever 'ventured'. A photo of the Moth, designed by Hal Wagstaff and built by his brother Gary in Wellington NZ, hangs even today in the Antarctic base at McMurdo Sound.

Sail-World would like to thank reader Rohan Veal, one of the pioneers of modern foiling moth racing and multiple Moth World champion for pointing this out to us. -- Nancy Knudsen

Read Cockley's letter at:
www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=95506

Race Record Expected To Roll
Grant Wharington confidently believes his QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone Race record of 20 hours 40 minutes and 50 seconds set by Skandia Wild Thing in 2004 stands to be challenged over the Easter weekend.

"All of the coastal weather with a constant 15-20 knot trade wind blowing suggests we are up for a fast race".

"My crew will complete their final training on Moreton Bay later today and will be race ready for what promises to another exciting yacht race". He said.

His personal confidence is buoyed by the recordings registered on the wind velocity metres located at the Cape Moreton and Double Island Point lighthouses overnight.

At Double Island Point the breeze never fell below 15 knots however the direction varied between South and East South East which indicates the tacticians will need to be flexible with their strategy.

This weather forecast will certainly suit the spinnaker sailing speed of Wild Thing and her major line honours challenger the Peter Millard helmed 2011 line honours champion Lahana when both experienced crews enter into their private 'tug o war' style match race.

Both 30 metre super speed sailing big boats who are nominated as the joint favourites for the Citizens of Gladstone line honours trophy promise to become tactically involved in a 308 nautical mile 'Drag Race'.

Selection of race strategy will play a major role in separating these outstanding blue water racing crews and naturally both skippers Grant Wharington (Wild Thing) and Peter Millard (Lahana) are remaining very protective of their tactical options.

However both are aware that the breeze normally blows stronger well offshore and they will need to race in the stronger breeze to log the required speed averages to finish before 7-40-50 am on Easter Saturday to set a new race record.

The expected moderate to fresh spinnaker and two sail reaching wind and associated 3 metre ocean swell will also set an interesting struggle in place to decide the overall winner on corrected time.

Robert Hanna's exciting speed sailing Royal Geelong Yacht Club TP 52 Shogun V remains as the favourite however her smaller challengers including the 8 time race winner the Sandy Cavill skippered Saltash ll and the four time champion Wistari (Scott Patrick) have the 'track record' and the shorter hull length that could allow them to surf the waves to victory. -- Ian Grant

Featured Brokerage
Featured Brokerage Boat 2007 J Boats J/100, 87,000 GBP. Located in Hampshire, United Kingdom.

This is a classic J/100 with a flag blue hull and teak decks. She also has removeable stanchions and guardwires so that she can be raced with them in place to comply with the racing rules, or cruised without them, so as not to interrupt her beautiful, pure clean lines.

Brokerage through Key Yachting Ltd.: www.yachtworld.com/keyyachting/

Complete listing details and seller contact information at
www.yachtworld.co.uk

The Last Word
Speaking for the great white father in Washington and all the American people, let me say we respect you savages for your native ability to instantly adapt and survive in whatever Godforsaken wilderness we move you to. Out there. Sign here. -- Firesign Theatre

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