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Black Clouds
It has been a long, hard night for PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA), who have been fighting to stay in pole position on Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race to Miami. As the leading trio of PUMA, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS) and Telefonica (Iker Martínez/ESP) fought against black, wind-sucking clouds in the midst of the Doldrums, PUMA bled miles continuously throughout the night.

PUMA's lead of 30 nautical miles (nm) from Telefonica at 1300 GMT on Monday was eroded painfully when, at 1900 GMT, CAMPER swept into second position, 26 miles astern. Throughout the night, hard-pushing CAMPER and Telefonica continued to apply the pressure, closing to within seven nm at 0400 GMT this morning. By 0700 GMT, the margin had narrowed a fraction more to just 6.2 nm, with third-placed Telefonica just a mile astern of CAMPER.

As the squalls rolled through, bringing rain with them, the crew of PUMA tried every sail they had on board to keep the black boat moving, but to no avail. A final squall brought CAMPER and Telefonica within sight, while PUMA lay becalmed with only the mainsail hoisted. There was not enough breeze even to unfurl a headsail. With the keel canted to one side to prevent the boom from sweeping uncontrollably across the deck, the PUMA crew could do nothing.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) have been able to bring their deficit back under 100 nm and at 0700 GMT were 82.7 nm adrift of the leaders. Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA), who have also been struggling for much of Leg 6, are poised to break through the 100 nm barrier too, as both teams continue to make good speed while the leaders hit the wall in the Doldrums.

The leading pack is 290 nm southeast of Cayenne in French Guiana, making a miserable average speed of three to four knots. Today is set to be another painful once as the fight to reach the steady northeast trade winds continues.

volvooceanrace.com

Hat Trick for Cessna Citation in GOR Leg 4
The Kiwi-Australian duo of Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough took first place in Global Ocean Race (GOR) Leg 4 from Punta del Este, Uruguay, to South Carolina with Akilaria RC2 Class40 Cessna Citation, crossing the finish line off Charleston at 05:45:00 GMT (01:54:00 local) on Tuesday morning. Colman and Cavanough took 28 days 11 hours and 45 minutes to complete the 5,700 miles from Uruguay to Charleston.

Colman and Cavanough led the GOR fleet from the start on 2 April in Punta del Este, building a lead of 230 miles by the time Cessna Citation reached the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate at the easternmost point of Brazil after 12 days of racing and increasing further to almost 400 miles as the duo closed in on the Caribbean. For Kiwi skipper Conrad Colman, this isolation at the head of the fleet was satisfying, but the lack of close combat left an empty feeling: "We actually felt a little bit envious of the others as we made a quick break at the beginning and then the wind favoured us, so we very quickly extended out," he explains. "Then it was just us and the flying fish, whereas the other guys were bouncing off each other and having a good time," says Colman. "I'll never get sick of winning, but it was a fairly relaxed way of winning the leg."

* Financial Crisis finishes second:

Finally here we are, Sergio and I literally just crossed the finish line in front of Charleston Harbour, it's the middle of the night, just after midnight local time, the race officials are about to board the boat to check the engine seals and then we'll be able to drop the sails and motor towards the marina. Hopefully we're still in time to get our first beer in the United States but we may have to wait for immigration officials before we're allowed to get off the boat, they are pretty strict over here with this stuff...

It took us just under 30 days to sail from Punta del Este to take second place in Charleston, three days faster than we had anticipated, finishing within 24 hours of race leader Cessna Citation. We are very pleased with our performance on this leg, we are again first of the vintage boats, it may have been the mildest of all legs from a weather perspective but it was quite tactical and required relentless attention to boat speed and sail trim.

In many respects it was a rather boring leg, I will remember the heat and the endless amount of time spent under big spinnaker on the same tack with little more to do than regularly check for sail trim and weed in the rudders.

The easier weather conditions luckily meant that we have no damage to report. We stupidly lost a spinnaker sheet during a manouvre and the only thing that needs attending is the main alternator that has stopped working a few weeks ago, let's hope it does not require and expensive replacement. We are looking forward to the time off in Charleston before the final sprint back to Europe, I can't believe I really made it this far, the start in Palma seems a world away and now Europe is just a transatlantic crossing away...

As always, very humbly and openly I thank anyone wishing to help with the stopover costs or simply wishing to offer a celebratory beer, you can do so online at www.marconannini.com/help

Also, don't forget the boat is up for urgent sale and offers are invited as soon as we're back in Europe. For further information please email Ella at

www.marconannini.com

Artemis Round the Invisible Mark and Head for St Barths
On Saturday afternoon (28th April), the 16 strong Transat AG2R La Mondiale Figaro fleet passed the Canaries waypoint; a gate between La Palma and a co-ordinate off the North coast of the island. Artemis skippered by Sam Goodchild and Nick Cherry, rounded the invisible mark on Saturday in 8th position within sight of six other competitors, before turning their attention to the true transatlantic section of the race, 2,500nm across the Atlantic Ocean to Saint Barthelemy (St Barths).

This morning Goodchild and Cherry continue to push southwest with the fleet in the hope of avoiding the light winds of an unusually far south Azores high pressure. Artemis remains in touch with the leading pack and is currently in 10th place, sandwiched between the current race leaders to their west-northwest and a competitive group of four boats playing the left side of the course to the south. Watch the leader pack cross the Canaries waypoint here.

On passing the La Palma waypoint, the race was thrown wide open forcing the 32 skippers to decide whether to sail a more direct westerly route to St Barths risking the light winds in the eye of the Azores High; or to head south and search for stronger trade winds. By Sunday evening the leading pack had divided, with Banque Populaire and Sepalumic gybing south first whilst the rest of the fleet lead by Nacarat and Cercle Vert remained on a more westerly course.

Staying on the median course between both sub-fleets, Artemis moved up into 5th. However by Tuesday morning, Goodchild and Cherry, now in 10th, have joined Banque Poplulaire (13th) on the more southerly route, both boats banking on the south paying off over the coming days.

Nacarat and Cercle Vert are experienced competitors and although they had joined the push southwest throughout Sunday, by Monday evening they were trucking west overnight, before returning to their southwest course by Tuesday morning, hoping to get a jump on the fleet by being the most westerly boats they do run the risk of slowing in the light airs of the high pressure system. It'll be some time (perhaps a week) before it becomes obvious which tactic has worked.

www.artemisoffshoreacademy.com
transat.ag2rlamondiale.fr

A Passion For The Sea
Sperry Top-Sider Since 1935, Sperry Top-Sider® has been the leading brand of footwear for those with a Passion for the Sea. From its introduction of the world's first boat shoe, which features the first siped rubber outsole for non-marking traction, to advanced technical fabrication to combat the elements, Sperry Top-Sider remains the vanguard of the nautical lifestyle.

Sperry Top-Sider is the official footwear of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Race Week, the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider, the Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regattas, the US Sailing Association, the Salt Water Sportsman Seminar Series and the National Safe Boating Council.

Sperry Top-Sider also supports Team Sperry, a group of global athletes, many of whom will compete in the sailing events of the 2012 Olympic Games. The current team includes 17 athletes from the USA and 18 from Europe. 26 athletes in total will represent the brand at the Olympics.

Available at independent marine stores, Sperry Top-Sider shoes move seamlessly between the shore, the dock and the deck to provide the greatest comfort and traction in wet or dry conditions.

Based in historic Lexington, Massachusetts, Sperry Top-Sider® is a division of Collective Brands Performance + Lifestyle Group, a subsidiary of Collective Brands, Inc. (NYSE:PSS).

For more information, please visit www.sperrytopsider.com

Spinnaker Tales
Click on image to enlarge.

Bay to Bay A wet and windy forecast promises to provide the 32nd Bay to Bay fleet with a supreme test of exciting sailing conditions on The Great Sandy Straits this weekend.

Traditionally this classic two day race from Tin Can Bay to Hervey Bay with an overnight stop at Garry's anchorage on Fraser Island attracts a national standard fleet.

They include many of Australia's fastest day sailing mono and multihull yachts with Sunshine Coast boat builder Julian Griffiths in Hot Vindaloo favoured to stage a class match race with the Darryl Dorsett skippered catamaran Pork Chop.

Based on the forecast both skippers are expecting to have their crews drenched in spray as they set up a challenge against the present multihull class record set by Sunshine Coast skipper George Owen when he steered the Victorian catamaran APC Mad Max at a hull blistering pace in 2009.

The connections of APC Mad Max have accepted the Notice of Race and could be nominated as a late entry when Race Director Colin Verrall briefs the crews with the final instructions and weather forecast at Tin Can Bay on Saturday morning.

Colin Verrall who has been the principal race officer for all 32 Bay to Bay Classics has progressively seen the mono and multi hull fastest times challenged over the past 32 years and expects the fleet to set another fast time.

Specialist sports boat skipper the former French Kiss Americas Cup sailor Pierre Gal has been nominated as a likely record challenger in the Mono class fleet with his super fast self designed 8m sports boat Kiss.

Gal and his Kiss crew who race under the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club burgee expressed their class to win the Airlie Beach Race Week Sports Boat championship by a comfortable margin last August.

They were the star performers when the breeze gusted above 15 knots and with a similar strong wind forecast for the Great Sandy Strait this weekend should allow the Kiss crew to again sail in the fast lane.

Only time will tell if their performance will be fast enough to outsail their high .916 Performance based handicap to win the race on corrected time.

A similar performance over the tactically demanding Bay to Bay course suggests that the Kiss crew would be capable of winning the line honours and corrected handicap double.

However there are a number of equally impressive challengers including specialist Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club Blazer class skipper Chris Annear in Feral and the former Brisbane to Gladstone Courier Mail Cup winner Bruce Tardrew in No Limits.

No Limits can also set a consistently fast speed in the stronger wind range and providing her aggressive skipper avoids spending time recovering from frightening wild uncontrolled broaches then No Limits has the speed potential to be rated among the handicap contenders. -- Ian Grant

Rolling In The Deep
Photo by Paul Wyeth, www.pwpictures.com. Click on image for photo gallery.

Antigua Sailing Week After two days of big breeze, day three of Antigua Sailing Week saw similar conditions for the competitors. However the Ocean mark laid for today's big boats was a new addition. It took over 300 feet of line to lay the mark four miles off the leeward coast of Antigua. The sizeable yachts in CSA 1 were an awesome sight today, smashing through the start line to windward through the Caribbean surf and after coming off the wind at the Ocean mark, the yachts speared off downwind, bow up, accelerating off big waves to surf at speeds of 20 knots plus.

In CSA 1A, Geoff Hill's Santa Cruz 72, Antipodes scored its first win of the regatta. Geoff Hill has been to Antigua Sailing Week many times before but, surprisingly, this is the first visit to the Caribbean's longest running regatta for the true Australian sailing legend. At 85 years of age, Syd Fischer is probably the oldest competitor at Antigua Sailing Week. Syd shares a record of five America's Cup challenges and has won just about every classic yacht race going, including the Fastnet and the Sydney Hobart Race, which Fischer has competed in on 40 occasions.

'It's a long flight to get here from Australia but I have to say it has been worth it, great conditions similar to Hawaii when I used to compete there in the Kenwood Cup. This is my first visit to Antigua but I have enjoyed the sailing so far and it was great to get a win today. We have only had the boat for a very short time and it always takes a bit to get a new yacht up to speed.'

Antipodes beat Peter Harrison's Sojana in today's race by less than a minute. However Sojana has a virtually unassailable lead in the division. Jan Rupert's Tripp 75, Blackbird is in third.

Tonight, Ky-Mani Marley will play to a full house in the historic setting of Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbour. Thousands of fans of the reggae artist are expected to pack out the Antigua Sailing Week venue for the live concert performed by Bob Marley's son. Tomorrow is Lay Day on Pigeon Beach beginning at 2:30 pm, so it could well be a late night for many of the competitors at Antigua Sailing Week. -- Louay Habib

www.sailingweek.com

ISAF Mid-Year Meeting
From 3-6 May 2012, the eyes of the sailing world will be on Stresa, Italy for the ISAF Mid-Year Meeting.

Following the Equipment Committee meeting on 28 April in Southampton, Great Britain, the Audit, Events and Executive Committees will gather along with the ISAF Council in Stresa, Italy. The hot topics up for discussion are the evaluation trials for the Women's Skiff and Mixed Multihull equipment and kiteboarding format for the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition. After an in depth equipment and format evaluation period from 17-25 March at the Prince Felipe High Performance Sailing Centre in Santander, Spain, detailed reports, analysis and recommendations have been published.

Kiteboarding will also be on the agenda in Stresa with its possible inclusion at the 2016 Olympic Games. ISAF Council will decide between Kiteboarding and/or windsurfing following a recommendation from the Kiteboarding evaluation group that specified that Kiteboarding could become an ISAF event from 2013 onwards.

The ISAF Council will meet on 4 and 5 May to discuss the recommendations and expert opinion recommendation from the evaluation panels, the Equipment Committee and the Events Committee and make their decisions.

The boats aiming for selection are:

The six skiff entries:

- 29erXX - Ovington Boats
- ARUP Skiff - ARUP
- AURA - Ovington Boats
- Hartley Rebel - Hartley Boats
- Mackay FX - Mackay Boats
- RS900 - RS Sailing

View footage of all the skiffs on the ISAF TV Player here

The seven multihull entrants:

- Hobie 16 - Hobie Cat - Hobie Tiger - Hobie Cat - Nacra 17 - Nacra Sailing International - Nacra F16 - Nacra Sailing International - Spitfire S - Sirena Voile - Tornado - International Tornado Class Association - Viper - Australian High Performance Catamarans (AHPC)

View footage of all the multihulls on the ISAF TV Player here

The Royal Thames Cumberland Cup
The Royal Thames Yacht Club, in the heart of London's West End, is bracing itself to welcome an influx of sailors from across the world, all eager to begin the competition to win the Cumberland Cup, the only international yachting event to be held in the capital. The Cumberland Cup is once again supported by the Royal Thames YC's corporate partner, Audemars Piguet.

The eight confirmed teams for the 2012 event present a worthy sample of the World's best team racers: Eastern Yacht Club (Marblehead, MA), New York YC, Seawanhaka Corinthian YC (Long Island), Southern YC (New Orleans), Royal Northern & Clyde YC (Scotland), Royal Perth YC (Australia), Island Royals (a combined team from Royal London YC, Royal Corinthian YC and Royal Yacht Squadron) and the Royal Thames YC.

The Event is a four-day celebration of sailing, both ashore and afloat. There is a full social programme including a Reception at St James's Palace in the presence of the RTYC Commodore, HRH The Duke of York, and a Regatta Dinner at the Royal Thames YC's Clubhouse at 60 Knightsbridge.

Racing, which starts on Friday 11th May, with Thursday 10th scheduled as a practice day, runs virtually non-stop with each two-boat team competing against every other team. All the sailing will be taking place at the home of the RTYC J80s, Queen Mary reservoir. The fantastic shore-side premises ensure visitors are able to have a great view of all the on the water action.

royalthames.com

Featured Brokerage
Featured Brokerage Boat 2007 Dehler 39 SQ. 169,000 GBP. Located In Hampshire, United Kingdom.

This must be the highest specification Dehler 39 SQ ever built. She is here with us in tip top condition. She cost in excess of Euros 360,000. She can be be purchased for £ 169,000 Excluding VAT which is extremely good value.

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

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

The Last Word
I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil. -- Robert Kennedy

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