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Ainslie Scores Hat-Trick In Mammoth Conditions
Photo by Mark Lloyd, Click on image for photo gallery.

Finn Gold Cup Awesome is an overused word, but today it doesn't really come close to adequately describe the performance of Ben Ainslie (GBR) on day five of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Finn Gold Cup in Falmouth.

In the toughest, roughest conditions that much of the fleet have sailed in for many years he took three race wins and is now within a whisker of his sixth Finn World title. Ed Wright (GBR) remains in second while Jonas Hogh-Christensen (DEN) moves up to third.

The morning forecast was somewhat daunting as the fleet set out under the threat of 30 knots winds and big seas by the afternoon. Three races were scheduled to make up for those lost on Wednesday, and though 85 boats made the first start, by the third race there were only 53 boats left on the water. The wind rose from 15-16 knots for the first race of the day to 20-25 knots in the third, and the wave also built to reach 2-3 metres in height.

Ainslie described the day, "It was a pretty big day, amazing conditions. There were massive waves. It was an amazing day's sailing for everyone I think. It is not often we race in conditions like that so it was great, I think there will be a lot of tired sailors but I think most people had a smile on their face most of the time."

In Friday's medal race Ainslie just has to finish cleanly to win a sixth Finn world title. Wright also has to just finish to win the silver. The real interest is the bronze, where technically any of the next six boats can take it out of the hand of Jonas Hogh-Christensen (DEN).

Following the medal race, the 11th and final race will be sailed for the rest. For some this is an important race as will determine the final places at the Olympics. Poland has already qualified. Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, China and Norway currently occupy the next six places, though some are dependent on National Authority requirements.

The medal race will feature GoPro stern cameras on each of the 10 boats, so hopefully by the end of the day we will have a idea what it take to be a world class Finn sailor.

Results after nine races (1 discard)
1. Ben Ainslie, GBR, 10 points
2. Edward Wright, GBR, 30
3. Jonas Hogh-Christensen, DEN, 64
4. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic, CRO, 72
5. Tapio Nirkko, FIN, 72
6. Piotr Kula, POL, 80
7. Mark Andrews, GBR, 81
8. Andrew Mills, GBR, 82
9. Pieter-Jan Postma, NED, 85
10. Zach Railey, ISA, 93

Full results:

Energy Team at the Top After Day One in Venice
Venice, Italy: Youth and experience won on the opening day at the America's Cup World Series in Venice, Italy. Team Korea's Nathan Outteridge, at 26 years old one of the youngest skippers in the fleet, won the first fleet race. Then, Loick Peyron, 52, rallied his team for a come-from-behind win in race two to top the day's leaderboard.

It was beautiful racing weather in Venice on Thursday. The sea breeze was in the 8 to 11 knot range, under crystal clear, sunny skies. Not surprisingly given the conditions, the local spectator fleet was out in force to enjoy the competition.

Overall AC World Series leader Jimmy Spithill and his ORACLE TEAM USA crew had a difficult day in the fleet racing Thursday, posting an 8-4 scoreline to sit in seventh place on the leaderboard. Dean Barker's Emirates Team New Zealand, second in the overall Series, wasn't able to take full advantage, underperforming their own high expectations in fourth place, just three points clear of Spithill.

"It was a lot of little mistakes, and they all just added up," Spithill lamented. "We've just got to sharpen up..."

The local favorites, Luna Rossa, had mixed fortunes on the day. The Piranha team, led by Chris Draper, battled to a sixth place finish on the day. But Paul Campbell-James' Swordfish crew, with skipper Max Sirena, had two finishes in the top four, and holds down second place.

In the opening races of the Match Racing Championship, China Team was eliminated in a one race qualifying match by ORACLE TEAM USA - Bundock. Then, all of the Quarter Final pairings were 2-0 sweeps with Energy Team, Artemis Racing, ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill, and Luna Rossa Piranha advancing to the Semi Finals. The losing teams have been assigned their final finishing positions as per the Sailing Instructions.

Fleet Racing Championship - Provisional Results (after two races)
1. Energy Team, 18 points
2. Luna Rossa Swordfish, 16
3. Team Korea, 15
4. Emirates Team New Zealand, 13
5. Artemis Racing, 13
6. Luna Rossa Piranha, 12
7. ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill, 10
8. ORACLE TEAM USA Bundock, 7
9. China Team, 4

Match Racing Championship - Qualifying and Quarter Final Results
Qualifier 1 - ORACLE TEAM USA - Bundock defeated China Team
QF 1 - ORACLE TEAM USA - Spithill defeated Luna Rossa - Swordfish; 2-0
QF 2 - Luna Rossa - Piranha defeated Team Korea; 2-0
QF 3 - Artemis Racing defeated Emirates Team New Zealand; 2-0
QF 4 - Energy Team defeated ORACLE TEAM USA - Bundock; 2-0

The winners of the Quarter Finals advance to the Semi Finals. The losers are assigned final finishing positions (5th to 9th) as per the Sailing Instructions.

5. Emirates Team New Zealand
6. Team Korea
7. Luna Rossa Swordfish
9. China Team

Best Ever Chance of MOB Recovery
Ocean Safety Three Ocean Safety products have teamed up to form the ultimate Man Overboard system. Ocean Safety has integrated the innovative Jonbuoy-Danbuoy man overboard marker with an inflatable horseshoe to provide an all-in-one support system as well as a visual indicator for the person in the water, seriously improving the chances of identification, survival and recovery.

The Jonboy-Danbuoy, which replaces the traditional Danbuoy, is mounted in a compact container on the yacht's pushpit and is simply unclipped and thrown into the water, automatically inflating to become a bright yellow 'stake' marking the location.

Also in the container is the Jonbuoy inflatable horseshoe, a direct replacement for the solid horseshoe, which, like the Jonbuoy-Danbuoy, inflates automatically. It also has an oral top up tube and is fitted with reflective tape.

The combination is fitted with a whistle, and the Jonbuoy-Danbuoy is fitted with a light. The product meets the all-important requirements of ISAF Offshore Regulations, making it a lightweight and discreet alternative on racing yachts, while is it equally suitable for all vessels.

The combo is highly visible and quick and easy to deploy towards the person in the water. Keep your crew together until the finish line and win with Ocean Safety!

Finnish Sailors Triumph
In cold but sunny weather with oscillating winds between 15 and 28 knots the Radial sailors at the Audi Laser World Championship 2012 in Boltenhagen finished the last races of their qualifying series today before being divided into the gold and silver fleets for the finals. The choppy waves out on the Wohlenberger Wiek proved challenging and again there were several capsizes.

The two Finnish competitors seemed to feel right at home and both scored a first and second in today's races. This pushes Sari Multala from fourth to first place overall, three points ahead of Lija Xu (CHN) who is steady in second place. Alison Young from Great Britain drops to third place as the results of a ninth and fourth place in the yellow fleet.

With the exception of the very first race of the qualifying series Marit Bouwmeester (NED), currently seventh overall, is achieving consistent Top 10 results and will be trying to close the twelve point gap between her and Multala in first place during tomorrow's gold fleet races. Josefin Olsson (SWE) who had been working her way up in the results capsized on the last down wind of the second race, losing two points. Righting her boat fast enough meant she still finished eighth in the blue fleet.

In the strong winds Irish Annalise Murphy is showing her strength and repeats her scores from yesterday with a first and second place. Improving twelve places she is now 15th overall due to a rather disastrous first day of racing where she was 65th and 33rd. Similarly the conditions seem to suit Paige Railey (USA) who is only two places and one point behind Murphy with much more stable Top 10 results over the last two days.

In the U21 ranking another American is pushing ahead. Erika Reineke overtook Marie Bolou (FRA) who had been leading throughout the first two days. In third place is Michelle Broekhuizen (NED), who will be racing in gold fleet tomorrow along with the current Top 10 of the U21 competitors.

Complete results:

Grant Simmer Joins Oracle Team USA
Three-time America's Cup winner Grant Simmer has joined the America's Cup champion team ORACLE TEAM USA as General Manager.

His role gives him day-to-day operational responsibility for the American team that is currently designing and building the race boats to defend the America's Cup in San Francisco in 2013.

CEO Russell Coutts, four-time winner of the America's Cup, remains in overall strategic charge of the team whilst also fulfilling his role of ensuring that the 2013 America's Cup is the most successful in the 161-year history of the most iconic event in sport.

The careers of both men have coincided before. Simmer was brought into the Swiss team Alinghi by Coutts for the 2003 America's Cup and acted as consultant to Ben Ainslie Racing, which will be entering the 2012/13 America's Cup World Series in August. Ainslie, the British Olympic quadruple medalist, is also an ORACLE TEAM USA sailing squad member for the 2013 America's Cup.

"Having won the America's Cup with and without Russell, and then having been beaten by his team in 2010, I think we have healthy respect of each other's abilities and what it is required to win," said Simmer. "It's good to be working together again."

Europa Warm'up: Start On Saturday
Around the dock in Barcelona where the seven IMOCA' Open 60's are moored in front of the famous Port of Barcelona building, there is no shortage of attention being paid to the boats, the skippers and the steady work of their technical teams by the multitudes of passers by. This is, after all, one of Barcelona's busiest waterside walks.

The chat around the race pontoon reveals a common feeling of pleasure shared among the skippers, crews and technical teams. First of all they are happy to be in Barcelona where the local reception has been warm and enthusiastic. Besides the obvious enthusiasm and passion the FNOB has built, with just a few weeks notice, a race village and activities to be proud of, the like of which would be the envy of many big race organisations.

But most of all this has the feel, for all, of being an important stepping stone towards the Vendee Globe. Each boat arrives from winter refit and some training skirmishes together, it is only on the race course proper that the measure can be made of each boat's real performance on different points of sail in different wind and sea conditions, but also how they match up in close quarters racing.

There are the four VPLP-Verdier designs, Virbac-Paprec 3, Banque Populaire, PRB and MACIF, which will get the chance to line up with the new Juan Yacht Design Cheminees Poujoulat which had to retire from last year's maiden Transat Jacques Vabre, and Javier Sanso's brand new Acciona 100% Eco Powered, the Owen-Clarke design which has been based from Sanso's home port of Palma Mallorca, and - as the name indicates - is not reliant at all on fossil fuels.

And there is the highly optimised Groupe Bel of Kito de Pavant who is keen to redress the balance after his disappointing Transat Jacques Vabre.

While the city may be welcoming, the first leg in the Mediterranean is not so reliable. In springtime on the passage to and through the Straits of Gibraltar anything can happen, from flat calms and slow going to sudden squalls and gales.

The program:

Barcelona (Spain)
Boats mustered from May 14 to 19
Exhibition Race - CHRONO W HOTEL: Friday, May 18
Race Start: Saturday, May 19

Lisboa-Cascais (Portugal)
ETA boats: between Tuesday, May 22 and Wednesday, May 23
Exhibition Race - CHRONO CASCAIS: Friday, May 25
Race Start: Saturday, May 26

La Rochelle (France)
ETA boats: between 5 and 6 June
Exhibition Race - CHRONO LA ROCHELLE: Friday, June 8
Awards: Saturday, June 9

The skippers:

ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered / Javier Sanso (ESP)
Banque Populaire / Armel Le Cleac'h (FRA)
Cheminees Poujoulat / Bernard Stamm (SUI)
PRB / Vincent Riou (FRA)
MACIF / Francois Gabart (FRA)
Groupe Bel / Kito de Pavant (FRA)
Virbac-Paprec 3 / Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA)

This pan-European race can be followed in four languages on the website: French / Spanish / English and Catalan :

Sea Sure Ltd Will Be Exhibiting at Sea Work on Stand No Q3.
Sea Sure Sea Sure will be showcasing their commercial marine and industrial equipment at SeaWork 2012 . Their in-house capabilities range from research, design and development to tool making, manufacture and distribution.

Sea Sure has secured many marine and aerospace MOD contracts, all manufactured to the highest standards from the highest specification materials, 100% tested in house, with traceability and audit by MOD contractors. Sea Sure manufacturing is ISO9001 certified.

Luke Yeates, Head of Technical development stated "Many visitors to Sea Work will recognise the wealth of engineering innovation and expertise that we have to offer to this marine sector, with proven record of design and production in yacht racing equipment".

Guest Editorial: Euan Ross
Sailing is not unique as a sport which labours perpetually under poor management. FIFA and the UCI are probably worse. Even so, it's a source of continuing bafflement to me why the ISAF and our own RYA have for decades run around as headless chickens haplessly seeking to second guess the whims of the IOC. Every daft decision is justified in terms of maintaining yachting as an Olympic sport, in the context of a remote and all-powerful IOC which is perceived to be, at best, unimpressed by sailing and, more likely, keen to see the back of it. And with IOC President Count Jacques Rogge an alumni of Olympic Yachting, it's becoming increasingly hard to hard to pull the wool over his eyes. Normally, if you are not welcome at a party you leave, but in this case it seems that a drip-feed of IOC funding makes the continued humiliation somehow bearable.

Neil Pryde has recently warned that sailing may be kicked out of the Games, and that kiteboarding, an' uninsurable' game which is consequently unable to develop a youth pipeline, may be its death knell. There is also the issue that ambitious young sportsmen and women are forced to race mostly obsolete and in some instances poorly-designed boats that no one, not even life-long sailing enthusiasts such as myself, has any interest in watching. So these fabulously skilled young professionals are not entertainers like the heroes of popular stadium sports, but beneficiaries of state aid and commercial charity labouring out of sight and out of mind, preferably somewhere well offshore. This surely cannot be obfuscated forever.

I also have concerns that we will now have six classes provided through open-ended 'sweetheart' deals with a small number of favoured manufacturers - something which most other equipment-based sports have avoided (the two Laser classes, and now the doubled-up 49er deal, are particularly imprudent). Neil's own contribution the RS-X as 'supplied equipment', which has been retendered regularly as windsurfing has developed, is perhaps in a different category.

Take away the IOC money and is there any reason for sailing to stay within the Olympic Games? I have yet to hear any convincing arguments in relation to popularising the sport or creating a legacy. The Games are a blip in the yachting calendar which does neither. And of course it doesn't even represent the pinnacle of the sport. In that it's no different from football, road cycling, tennis or golf (inexplicably returning in 2016), other sports which already have separate pinnacle events and which should also be cleared out the Olympics. The supporting argument, that the Olympics in these sports don't necessarily involve everyone who should be there due to national quotas and other restrictions, has never been more focussed than in the case of the Finn Class this year.

The current ISAF Sailing World Championships is just part of the build-up to the Olympics, it's not an alternative. But if sailing was kicked out of the Games, rather than whine and try to weasel our way back in, I'm sure we could come up with an event or multi-event format that would justify the title. Current initiatives to market 'stadium sailing' are great as far as they go, but they don't go anywhere near identifying our very best sailors. The stadium format can never do that and why should it be expected to? Real champions emerge from proper sailing competitions, held on the open sea over traditional, long, challenging, championship courses.

So the sport can't evolve monolithically into something satisfactory, it has to split; but not necessarily into professional and non-professional circuits. Remember that more or less everyone, from America's Cup superstar to Laser Radial straggler is an ISAF Group 3 professional. This is of course nonsense. If sailing-based spectator sports are ever going to become a big deal in the eyes of the general public we have to separate out the 'entertainers' from the 'competitors'. The former can safely be left to seek employment in an industry which can evolve into something worthwhile and sustainable through the natural selection of the marketplace. As for the latter, we have to work out a fair deal which incorporates them in the mainstream of competitive sport without prejudice.

But let's be honest, without the national jingoism of the Olympics, the idea that someone should be paid to go to work on the gunwale of a white-sail dinghy class is simply unsustainable. Those who choose to continue sailing antediluvian Tupperware with preternatural skill should of course be lauded and recognised, but the sailing community has no responsibility beyond that.

Qingdao Named as Asian Venue for ISAF Sailing World Cup
Qingdao, China has been named as the fourth venue of the ISAF Sailing World Cup. With two confirmed regattas from 12-19 October 2013 and 11-18 October 2014, the announcement marks a huge step forward for the ISAF Sailing World Cup.

The sailors in the six confirmed events, Men's and Women's RS:X, Laser, Laser Radial and Men's and Women's 470, will also benefit from today's announcement with 300 boats available to charter during the regatta. For the first time in the history of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, there will be a great incentive of $180,000 USD in prize money, which will be divided amongst the medallists of each event.

Set to be held at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center, the Chinese venue joins Melbourne, Australia, Palma, Spain and Hyeres, France in the list of named venues.

Rule Changes Confirmed for 2012 Alpari World Match Racing Tour
Several rule changes have been confirmed for the 2012 Alpari World Match Racing Tour, coming into effect at the first event of the season, Match Race Germany in Langenargen on May 23 - 28.

Following the decision by the America's Cup to move away from monohull sailing and subsequent revision of their rules, organisers at the Alpari World Match Racing Tour began a re-think of the rules, inviting comment from sailors and event organisers to establish what, if anything, they would like to see changed for the 2012 season. The resulting discussion paper identified a number of areas which were generally agreed to be open for experimentation and ultimately permission was given by the International Sailing Federation to implement the final decisions under RRS86.

Several changes have been included in order to tidy up existing wording and define certain aspects more clearly but amongst the slightly more controversial additions are a revision of the penalty process, limiting boat requests for redress and an amendment of proper course restrictions which it is hoped will allow the trailing boat increased chances to overtake - expected to get a mixed reaction amongst sailors and sailing aficionados alike.

The removal of proper course restrictions which will allow a trailing boat to gain an overlap from astern and luff their opposition away from the mark should increase opportunities for a trailing boat and may well see a change in how the leading boat will choose to defend their advantage. The added opportunity afforded to challenge the match leader is designed to encourage a tighter margin between teams. Mitchell, said:"We are the most competitive sailing series in the world and we hope that these changes, amongst others, continue to create the closest, most intense battles out on the water."

The major change in the penalty process for 2012 is the removal of double penalties for serious rule infringements. It was felt the old process tended to 'kill-off' a match and officials will now award a red flag instead of a double penalty, for which the infringing team will need to take an immediate penalty turn. Should that same team still be in control of the match after the turn, umpires can award another penalty.

Full list of changes at

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 Jim Champ, re: Jamie Campbell's remark that "small boat sailing has declined as a sport since the heady numbers of cheap, plywood dinghies"

We do need to be careful with our nostalgia. I was about in those days and by any index you care to use boats were expensive by modern standards. In 1974 I paid 200 quid (UK pounds) for the first secondhand boat I bought out of my own pocket, and I reckon I'd pay about UKP600 to a UKP1,000, maybe UKP 2,000 tops, for something roughly equivalent today. If you consider that relative to beer, or houses, or wages, or anything else then entry into the sport is far cheaper than it used to be. As I recall we stopped buying wood boats and started buying plastic ones not because wood ones were cheap, but because they were expensive.

Featured Brokerage
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The Last Word
A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God. -- Alan Perlis

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