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Fading Breeze Gives Second String New Hope
As the fleet racing in Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race enter the final 1,300 nautical miles to the finish in Miami, the breeze is softening. The high boat speeds, which allowed PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA), CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS) and Telefonica (Iker Martínez/ESP) to achieve in excess of 500-mile days, will evaporate and be replaced by frustratingly slow conditions.

The fading breeze, which will stall the frontrunners, could give Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), in fourth and fifth places respectively, a 'get out of jail free' card as they stay with the pressure for longer and reduce the deficit accordingly. At 1900 GMT tonight, Groupama led Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing by 31 nm, but were off the lead by over 100 nm.

CAMPER, in second place, are just 5.1 nm behind long-term leaders PUMA, while third-placed Telefonica, who are looking for a fourth leg win to bolster their position as overall leaders, are now 16.9 in arrears, having been as close as 5.2 nm on May 1.

Already the breeze is becoming lighter for the leading trio, dropping to 13 knots, and rotating to the right. Once they get past the island of Barbuda, around 200 nm ahead, the weather will become seriously tricky.

Some routing has suggested an option could be to thread through the Caribbean Islands, but it's a high-risk manoeuvre particularly for CAMPER and Telefonica who need to stay in touch with PUMA and not take fliers.

Sec. Hayai and Phesheya-Racing Finish Leg 4 in Charleston
On Wednesday 2 May, the two, mixed-doubles teams in the double-handed, Global Ocean Race (GOR) crossed the Leg 4 finish line off Charleston, South Carolina. First across the line at 19:06:30 GMT (15:06:30 local) was Class40 Sec. Hayai with the Dutch duo of Erik van Vuuren and Yvonne Beusker, followed just over three hours later by the South African team of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire with Class40 Phesheya-Racing at 22:39:20 GMT (18:39:20 local).

Although the Dutch team crossed the line before the South Africans after 6,000 miles of racing from Punta del Este in Uruguay, a 24-hour penalty applied by the GOR Race Committee for a pit stop in Brazil by Sec. Hayai results Phesheya-Racing taking third place for Leg 4.

For Van Vuuren and Beusker on Sec. Hayai, the 30 days of racing from Uruguay to the USA has been full of surprises. The Dutch Class40 left Punta del Este with Nico Budel and Erik van Vuuren as crew, but urgent business matters at home in Holland forced the team to pull in to Fortaleza on the Brazilian coast after 16 days of racing and Budel quickly returned to the Netherlands. However, determined to complete Leg 4, Van Vuuren's girlfriend and business partner, Yvonne Beusker, quickly mobilised, flew to Brazil and joined the boat having satisfied the GOR Race Committee that her extensive sailing CV qualified for inclusion in the race.

After the crew change in Fortaleza, Sec. Hayai re-started racing with a 200-mile distance deficit on the fleet and a 24-hour time penalty, but Van Vuuren and Beusker hit the ground running.

The four GOR teams now have 16 days to recover and prepare for the final leg of the circumnavigation from Charleston to Les Sables d'Olonne starting on Saturday 19 May.

GOR Leg 4 Ranking:
1. Cessna Citation: 28d 11h 45m
2. Financial Crisis: 29d 10h 22m 50s
3. Phesheya-Racing: 30d 4h 39m 20s
4. Sec. Hayai: 31d 1h 6m 30s (corrected from 30d 1h 6m 30s)

Gamesa Dismasted
Photo by Mark Lloyd, Click on image to enlarge.

Gamesa What a tough blow for Mike Golding, his boat Gamesa and all the members of their team: The monohull has dismasted. No one was injured in the incident but Golding and his Gamesa sailing team will now have to engage in a difficult race against time in order to limit serious delays in their 2012-2013 Vendee Globe preparation.

It was supposed to be a simple training session allowing Mike Golding to get even more familiar with Gamesa, the boat on which the British skipper will compete in the next Vendee Globe, the fourth in his career. Also on board were Boat Captain Graham Tourell and Mike Ferguson, in charge of preparation. But as the boat was sailing in twelve knots of wind on Wednesday off Thorness Bay (Isle of Wight), it lost its mast at 3.40PM, following what is apparently a Furling gear failure.

Golding, Tourell and Ferguson managed to recover the mast to the deck and Gamesa was towed to Ocean village in Southampton, where Mike Golding is based.

After Jeremie Beyou's Maitre CoQ, Gamesa is the second boat to dismast while preparing for the 2012-2013 Vendee Globe. Future Vendee Globe skipper Arnaud Boissieres had also lost his mast while competing in the Transat Jacques Vabre on Akena Verandas last December. For both yachts, the solution of building a brand new mast was chosen by the sailing teams. Maitre CoQ's is still under construction. It is now up to Mike Golding and the Gamesa sailing team to decide what they want to do after a thorough examination of the monohull and its damaged mast.

Irish Hopes of Commodores' Cup Defence Recede
Despite strong interest from clubs around the country and Irish Sea region for this month's BMW Cruiser Championships in Howth, Ireland is unlikely to field a competitive defence of the Commodores' Cup in Cowes this July.

For the last six months, it seemed likely the 2010-winning team captain Anthony O'Leary would again be competing with his Ker 39 Antix from the Royal Cork Yacht Club while the Welsh-Irish Corby 36 Roxy was also available.

Former team captain Colm Barrington confirmed yesterday he was set to make a return to the Commodores' Cup provided a suitable boat could be found.

The Grand Soleil 43 Quokka 8 was being lined-up as the third boat but this has since been secured by the Hong Kong team who placed second in 2010 and are widely tipped as pre-event favourites this year.

With less than three months remaining before the event, pulling together three crews comprising nearly 50 sailors plus shore and team support would be too late. However, the Irish Cruiser Racing Association is still interested in fielding a squad to maintain interest in the event and begin training for the 2014 event. -- David Branigan in the Irish Times

Falmouth Finn Festival Begins with UK Championship
Three years of planning for one of the most important Finn sailing events ever held in the UK is about to become reality in Falmouth, UK. The JP Morgan Asset Management Finn Festival combines the Open UK National Championships from 5-7 May and the Finn Gold Cup, the class world championship, from 13-18 May.

The UK Nationals has a pre-entry of around 90 boats, while the Gold Cup has, so far, 95 registered entries. There will be more details on the Gold Cup next week, but this weekend the event focusses on the UK Nationals with a very deep and very large fleet in attendance. While some of the international sailors are skipping the nationals, it has attracted 50 boats from the domestic fleet, a sign of the good health of the class in the UK.

Falmouth is about as far west as you can go in the UK but one of the reasons it was selected as the venue for these regattas is because of its similarity to conditions at the Olympic venue in Weymouth. Many sailors are already based in Weymouth in the run up to the Games in August, and many are using this regatta as crucial training before June's Skandia Sail for Gold regatta in Weymouth, and to get as much time as possible getting used to the conditions.

The UK Finn National Championship dates back to 1956 when Vernon Stratton persuaded the Sunday Times to donate an old pigeon-racing cup to the class. The Sunday Times Gold Cup has been a central focus of the British Finn class ever since. The two favourites for the title are sailing against each other in a UK Nationals for the first time ever. Ben Ainslie won back in 2002, while Giles Scott, won in 2007 and 2008.

Last year's open winner Rob McMillan (AUS) and national champion Allen Burrell are also back, but will have a hard time retaining their titles against the Skandia GBR Finn squad, and the very strong international contingent that has entered. Mark Andrews is another former champion who will be competing in Falmouth this weekend.

Other favourites for the open title include 2004 Olympic silver medalist Rafa Trujillo (ESP), double world champion Jonas Hogh-Christensen (DEN), double European Champion Ivan Kjakovic Gaspic (CRO), the runner up at the 2011 Olympic test event Jonathan Lobert (FRA) and winner of last week's Hyeres regatta, Brendan Casey (AUS).

Racing gets under way on Saturday 5 May, with two races scheduled. Three more races are scheduled for Sunday with the final two on Monday. Then there are five days of measurement and registration before the Finn Gold Cup races start on Sunday 13 May.

Ugly - But Fast?
Click on image to enlarge.

Ugly Boat! I'm torn when I think about the latest trend for ocean racing, the scow bow. On the one hand, it's a fascinating development. On the other...cripes, these new designs are ugly.

Round bowed scows have been well proven; the skimming dish designs have long been popular in the US, though less so in Europe. Yet the design principle made no major inroads into offshore design until last year, when French engineer and solo sailor David Raison won the Mini Transat in his self-designed mini 6.5m Mini Magnum/Teamwork Evolution.

This round bowed, push-me-pull-you 21-footer beat the 2nd placed prototype Mini to the finish in Brazil by 130 miles - a huge margin in such an evenly matched fleet - and recorded an average across the entire Atlantic of 6.8 knots.

Now there is a proposal from design group Reichel/Pugh for a 90ft scow designed to attempt to beat the Transpac record. We've got a full report on this intriguing design in our May issue.

The basic principle of the scow design is to maximise hull righting moment. The beam is carried well forward which means that, when heeled, the hull lines are further outboard than with a conventional bow. This makes the scow design very powerful when reaching, obviously important on races such as the Mini Transat or the Transpac, which have a predominance of reaching conditions. -- Elaine Bunting in her blog, full posting at

Grand Prix Guyader
Photo by Jacques Vapillon. Click on image to enlarge.

Grand Prix Guyader At the Grand Prix Guyader, there was once again a fabulous display with racing from the Dragon, Imoca, M34, Longtze, Open 7.50 and Mach 6.50 classes. More than ever, a true sailing festival was provided for the general public by the event organizers and their partners. This morning saw a particularly special and timely welcome for events with the arrival of the Danneborg, the Danish Royal family's yacht that docked in the port of Rosmeur.

Three committees were still out at work on the water today for the different races of the day with the monotypes (M34, Open 7.50 and Mach 6.50), the Dragons and the Imocas. Coastal races for some and windward-leewards for the others created a particularly lively and beautiful closing event for the first act of the Grand Prix Guyader.

The Imocas were the first to leave the docks at Treboul this morning to head out to the race course, with an additional sixth competitor in the fleet after the arrival this morning of Arnaud Boissiere and his 60 foot Akena Verandas.

The 60 mile coastal race was started by the Race Committee, headed by Jean Coadou, at 10.30am.

A clearly inspired Armel Le Cleac'h and crew held onto the lead from the start through to the finish to take the race of the day, a wonderful result for Banque Populaire as the subsequent overall official winner of the Grand Prix Guyader.

For the M34s it was a tough battle right down to the very last tack. The eight Tour de France à la Voile boats were able to sail a total of seven races, and having aimed to sail as many as possible, a particularly happy fleet of sailors will now head off to the next event in their Volvo Drive Race circuit.

Safran, Akena Verandas and Maitre Coq will compete in the offshore racing on Thursday and Friday, followed by the Defi Nautic on Saturday and Sunday, and will be joined by the Multi50, Mod 70 (Foncia has already arrived), Class40 and Francis Joyon's Maxi IDEC.

ISAF Women's Match Racing Worlds
Gothenburg, Sweden: The 16 entrants for the 2012 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, set to be held from 20-25 June in Gothenburg, Sweden, have been named. The regatta will be one of the last opportunities for the Women's Match Racing teams to test themselves against each other ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.

Amongst the entrants is World #1 and 2011 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Anna Tunnicliffe (USA). The American recently won gold at the Semaine Olympique Francaise, the fourth of seven ISAF Sailing World Cup Regattas, and leads the Women's Match Racing Standings on 56 points.

She claimed the honours at the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth, Australia in December last year and will be looking to make it back to back Championship titles.

The first placed skipper in the final results will be declared as the 2012 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion and will be presented with the ISAF Francoise Pascal Memorial - Women's Match Racing World Championship Trophy. The total amount of prize money will be 400.000SEK with 94,000SEK going to the victor.

World Ranking/Sailor/Nationality

1. Anna Tunnicliffe (USA)
2. Lucy Macgregor (GBR)
3. Claire Leroy (FRA)
4. Sally Barkow (USA)
5. Ekaterina Skudina (RUS)
6. Silja Lehtinen (FIN)
7. Tamara Echegoyen (ESP)
8. Renee Groeneveld (NED)
10. Anna-Claire Le Berre (FRA)
11. Silvia Roca Mata (ESP)
13. Olivia Pricen (AUS)
14. Camilla Ulrikkeholm (DEN)
15. Julie Bossard (FRA)
16. Mandy Mulder (NED)
18. Rita Goncalves (POR)
24. Anna Kjellberg (SWE)

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 Roland Gaebler: Today we experienced a real frustrating day at the ISAF conference in Stresa. It looks like the ISAF events committee do not respect the sailors wish for Olympic sailing equipment.

The new Nacra 17 just were one vote ahead of the Viper16. The same time the sailors, who tested the boats in Santander in March, made the Nacra17 to their clear favorite with 14 of 19 votes! Far ahead of all other cats at the evaluation event.

This shows that many members in the ISAF Events committee neither care nor respect the sailors wish and what the next generation wants. They do not follow the evaluation report of the ISAF Evaluation Panel, the sailors comments and the sailors 1st choice. They listen more to the lobby work of a multihull dealers inside ISAF committee than to follow, what to the sailors want to sail in the future Olympic Games.

As Tornado Class we can accept that sailors want another boat in the Olympics. But we cannot accept that ISAF committee members do not listen to the sailors. We think, soon ISAF will experience a revolution from the sailors.

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The Last Word
I've got all the money I'll ever need, if I die by four o'clock. -- Henny Youngman

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