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Abu Dhabi First To Lisbon
Photo by Paul Todd / Volvo Ocean Race. Click on image for photo gallery.

VOR Lisbon Abu Dhabi shrugged off seven months of frustration to seal their first offshore victory in a nerve-jarring transatlantic leg from Miami to Lisbon, while Groupama's second place finish -- five and a half minutes behind after more than 3,500 nautical miles racing -- was enough to take them top of the leaderboard in place of long-term leaders Telefonica.

Groupama spent days snapping at the heels of the Emirati team and were within a mile of their rivals as they headed up the River Tagus towards the finish line.

Ian Walker's team defended resolutely, however, matching their rivals gybe for gybe to ensure their first podium finish on an offshore leg would also be their first win, and spark wild celebrations lit up by a booming firework display.

For Groupama, the consolation prize came soon enough, as Telefonica's finish in fourth place -- behind PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG in the third podium slot and just ahead of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand -- meant the French team climb above them.

Abu Dhabi, who finished at 21:23:54 UTC, received 30 points for victory, with Groupama netting 25 after their finish at 21:29:21. PUMA took 20 points, Telefonica 15 and CAMPER 10.

Team Sanya finished sixth to pick up five points.

Four teams remain separated by just 21 points, making it the closest contest in the 39-year history of the Volvo Ocean Race with just two offshore legs and three in-port races still to come.

Telefonica eventually finished with an advantage of 102 seconds and less than a boat length for a five-point boost that could yet prove crucial.

The action resumes with the In-Port Race on June 9, followed by the start of Leg 8 to Lorient the following day.

Leg 7 results:

1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing - 11d, 04h, 23m, 54s
2. Groupama sailing team - 11d, 04h, 29m, 21s
3. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG - 11d, 06h, 26m, 52s
4. Team Telefonica - 11d, 08h, 28m, 27s
5. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand - 11d, 08h, 30m, 09s
6. Team Sanya - 11d, 08h, 44m, 25s

Williams Takes Command
Ian Williams leads the qualification table after day 2 Korea Match Cup. Photo by Andy Carter / AWMRT. Click on image to enlarge.

WMRT Korea Gyeonggi, South Korea : Current Tour Champion Ian Williams looks set to progress to the knockout rounds after taking pole position after the second Qualifying Session at the Korea Match Cup 2012, recording 6 wins and 1 loss so far.

Williams took a confidence-boosting victory over Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing, whose record four World Championships he is chasing down this season.

His only loss of the event came against Laurie Jury (NZL) Kiwi Match in controversial circumstances, Williams claiming that the starting boat had dragged its anchor and skewed the line.

Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing and Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Team Korea are heading the chasing pack in the qualification table, ending the day 6-2. Robertson continues his hot run of form, having taken a victory at the first event of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour season, Match Race Germany.

Winner of the 2011 Korea Match Cup, Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team went into an all-Swedish match up with Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team in flight 9 as one of three skippers who finished the first day's qualifying unbeaten. After picking up a penalty in the pre-start, Berntsson looked on the back foot but managed to pass his compatriot with an aggressive move around the mark on his last lap.

Hansen went on to finish the day 5-2 and will know that he only needs one more victory in the last Qualifying Session tomorrow to progress to the knockout rounds and stay in with a chance of holding on to his Korea Match Cup crown from last year.

The final Qualifying Session takes place on Friday 1 June from 1000 local time (KST). Live TV will be broadcast 1400 - 1600 local time on Saturday 2 June and Sunday 3 June.

Results after the Second Qualifying Session:

Ian Williams (GBR) - GAC Pindar 6-1
Phil Robertson (NZ) - WAKA Racing 6-2
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) - Team Korea 6-2
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) - Mekonomen Sailing Team 5-2
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) -Berntsson Sailing Team 4-3
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) - Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 4-4
Laurie Jury (NZ) - Kiwi Match 4-4
Peter Gilmour (AUS) - YANMAR Racing 3*-2
William Tiller (NZ) - Full Metal Jacket Racing 3-4
Simone Ferrarese (ITA) - Ferrarese Racing Team 3-5
Byeong-Ki Park (KOR) - Geoje City 0-7
Tae-Jung Kim (KOR) - Gyeonggi 0-8

* Deducted 1 point for causing damage

Running Before The Storm
With the four Global Ocean Race (GOR) Class40s chased across the mid-Atlantic by a deep low pressure system, speeds are remaining high despite drastically reduced sail. Meeting the strongest of the westerly wind on Wednesday afternoon, fleet leaders, Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough on Cessna Citation, continue to poll 11-12-knot averages, adding 64 miles to the separation with the chasing trio in the past 24 hours and leading by 400 miles at 15:00 GMT on Wednesday as the Kiwi-Australian duo leave Flores - the most westerly island in the Azores group - 150 miles off their starboard beam and climb north-east.

Dropping south overnight, but still northernmost boat in the pursuing pack, Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo in second with Financial Crisis began climbing back towards the stronger winds on Wednesday morning, hitting just under 11-knot averages as the system rolled east. Trailing Nannini and Frattaruolo by 196 miles on Wednesday afternoon and dropping 40 miles to Financial Crisis over the past day, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire in third on Phesheya-Racing crossed the bluQube Scoring Gate at 04:00 GMT on Wednesday with winds climbing to 40 knots and were averaging slightly under ten knots despite three reefs in the main.

Meanwhile, in fourth place, furthest south, the Dutch duo of Nico and Frans Budel on Sec. Hayai destroyed their A6 gennaker as the wind began building to 35 knots and have gained 30 miles on Phesheya-Racing since Tuesday afternoon, trailing the South African Class40 by 138 miles at 15:00 GMT on Wednesday.

Current weather files suggest that the northern boats, Cessna Citation and Financial Crisis, may stay with the stronger winds of 20-30 knots throughout Wednesday night, while the wind for Phesheya-Racing and Sec. Hayai should moderate to sub-25 to 20 knots shortly as the low pressure spins north, but horrific and confused sea conditions will remain in the system's path.

GOR leaderboard 15:00 GMT 30/5/12:

1. Cessna Citation, 1437 nm to finish, 11.7kts
2. Financial Crisis, 399 nm to leader 10.6kts
3. Phesheya-Racing, 595 nm 9.8kts
4. Sec. Hayai, 733 nm 8.8kts

* I've just had a dinner of rice with a thai green sauce and a peanut bar for desert, slowly recovering from the busy day. The gale we faced yesterday left us with a few issues to deal with. We had chosen a route that kept us away from the very worst of the deepening depression but as we sailed deeper into the low the wind was steadily above 40 knots and gusting occasionally at nearly 50 knots.

We had been rather conservative in every step, we furled the solent quite early on when the wind was still building, unfortunately the furling drum was wrapped with a spinnaker sheet and it took a minute or two to resolve, when it came to furling the sail we were hit by a gust and the violent flogging put a tear in the leach of the sail. We havent been able to assess the damage yet but hopefully it should be quite easily repairable, we just need to find a window of calm weather to deal with it.

The wind built rapidly and we spent a lont time with 3 reefs in the main and the staysail and still occasionally taking off massive surfs at 18 and occasionally even 20 knots. We were mainly below with the hatch closed as several waves broke in the cockpit...

The sea state deteriorated quite rapidly and occasionally we were hit by larger than average cross waves. All seemed perfectly under control until we sailed down the face of one of thes monsters, we started surfing almost vertiacally until the bottom of the wave where we buried the bow very violently. Sergio in his bunk was thrown forward by the sudden deceleration but luckily was sleeping feet first and wasnt injured, the whole boat tilted diagonally and just in that instant where you think you're about to come upright the very wave that had sent us surfing broke over the boat in a thunderous roar.

Eventually the boat re-emerged from the momentary sea burial as if nothing had happened, those were quite scary instants. We could have done a lot of damage but other than the fright we thought we had made it thorough uscathed, that's until I looked out I noticed we had blown the foot of the staysail, torn open by the force of the water breaking over the deck. The staysail can be reefed and luckily the damage is contained below the reef point, so we reefed the sail and continue rather undercanvassed for the rest of the night. Today as the wind decreased we put the small A5 spinnaker and I took down the staysail to assess the damage. It's quite bad, with one meter long vertical tear starting from the foot, but i think with a little patience i can fix it, at least to make it serviceable in case we need it again. -- Marco Nannini

World's Richest 18ft Skiff Event
The success of the inaugural 3-Buoys Challenge series in 2011 has encouraged the Australian 18 Footers League to stage an even bigger event on Sydney Harbour in 2012.

There will be more races, more prize money and a bigger video coverage to bring out the best of all competing 18ft Skiff teams.

LIVE Tracking will also be a feature of the 2012 series.

The 2011 Challenge was a 5-race event and paid prize money of $5,000. In the 2012 event, there will be 8 races with prize money totaling $10,000 - making it the world's richest 18ft Skiff event.

The 3-Buoys concept allows for progressive handicapping throughout each race as there will be four sets of rounding marks where there are staggered (white, blue and red) buoys intended to advantage those teams with larger pre-determined handicaps.

All races in the 'Challenge' will be sailed over four-lap windward-return courses with 'twin' bottom rounding marks. Handicaps are re-adjusted for the first three placegetters after each race.

Australian 18 Footers League President, and leading competitor, John Winning is a strong supporter of the event and the man behind the original 3-Buoys concept. "The aim of the system is to give all teams the opportunity to win each race".

"It also creates a much more interesting race for spectators as the positions tend to change regularly throughout each race and usually features the backmarker boats making a late challenge on the run to the finish".

To support Winning's comments, the 2011 five-race event produced five different race winners and the overall winner was decided only after a count back.

Most of last years teams will be back again for 2012-2013, but there are also a couple of new teams still to be announced by the League. There will also be one or two critical crew changes amongst the top group from 2011-2012. -- Frank Quealey, Australian 18 Footers League

Team GBR Hoping to Repeat 2008 Success
With the announcement of Great Britain's four team line-up for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, then force of numbers, at the very least, will be on the side of Team GBR when racing starts on the Solent on 22th July.

Run by the Royal Yachting Association, the British trials this year were based on two events, the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Morgan Cup offshore race followed by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club's Vice Admiral's Cup inshore series and proved to be one of the most competitive ever with 17 boats gunning for the 12 available slots. The 12 boats were chosen and then divided into their four teams by a selection panel comprising RYA Chairman and Head of the Selectors, Stacey Clark, Yachting Secretary of the Royal Yacht Squadron, Chris Mason and Cowes Week CEO, Stuart Quarrie.

Selections and the subsequent team divisions were determined on a straight points calculation following the two events, the only exception being the two Ker 40s, Jonathan Goring's Keronimo and Andrew Pearce's Magnum III, which were unable both to make the top team, GBR Red, as only one 'big' boat (ie with a Time Correction Coefficient of 1.150-1.230) per team is permitted.

So GBR Red this year will comprise Jonathan Goring's Ker 40, Keronimo, Andrew Williams' Mills 39, Dignity, and Mike West's Archambault 35, Eaujet - and they will be hoping to repeat the success of their forebears in 2008 when GBR Red last won the Commodores' Cup.

The smallest boat in the GBR line-up is Peter Morton's Salvo, the Corby 33 that won the Scottish Series two years ago as Salamander XX. She will be competing in July in GBR Black alongside the British Keelboat Academy on David Aisher's J/109 Yeoman of Wight and Cobra, the King 40 campaigned by Commodores' Cup first timers, the father and son team of Mike and Seb Blair.

Team GBR Red: Dignity (Mills 39), Eaujet (Archambault 35), Keronimo (Ker 40).
Team GBR White: Joopster (J/122), Magnum III (Ker 40), Philosophie (Beneteau First 40.7)
Team GBR Blue: Incognito (Beneteau 40.7), La Reponse (First 40), Premier Flair (Elan 410).
Team GBR Black: Cobra (King 40), Salvo (Corby 33), Yeoman of Wight (J/109)

Further details of the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup can be found at:

One Design Focus
Click on image to enlarge.

Cork Week This July, there will be eight different classes racing at Cork Week, Ireland's most prestigious sailing regatta. The vast majority of the yachts will be racing under IRC and ECHO handicap systems but Cork Week also boasts two one design classes, which will be bristling with talent. These are not closed events, far from it. Sailors from overseas are always given a very warm welcome to Cork Week and the one design J/109 and 1720 classes are sure to provide exhilarating racing.

The J/109 Irish National Championships will be part of Cork Week and it is an open event. This month, Royal Cork Yacht Club's Ian Nagle's racing J/109 Jelly Baby scored a fine win in the Irish IRC National Championship hosted by ICRA at Howth Yacht Club. In a very competitive division Jelly Baby won a tense last race to defeat the defending champion; Pat Kelly's J/109 Storm II from Rush Sailing Club. Jelly Baby will be racing in the J/109 Irish National Championship at Cork Week and Nagle is relishing the prospect.

The 1720 Sportsboat class first raced at Cork Week in 1996 and the class quickly established itself as an affordable competitive keelboat with 68 yachts on the start line in 1998. The 1720 Class has attracted world-class sailors, including Ben Ainslie and Dean Barker (who both failed to make the podium in 1998!). As an exciting fast planing keelboat, the 1720 experience is difficult to match. In recent years the 1720 Class has been undergoing something of a renaissance in Ireland with 25 pocket rockets based in County Cork alone.

From 8-10th June, the Royal Cork will host the 1720 National Championship with Mark Mansfield and Terry English looking to retain their title. Anthony O'Leary was runner up in 2011 and O'Leary will most definitely be looking to go one better in the National Championships but not during Cork Week, as he will be at the helm of his Ker 39, Antix for the regatta.

Besides the two one design classes, there will be six different handicap divisions and a separate prize for Quarter Tonners. -- Louay Habib

EUROSAF European Sailing Cup to Include Paralympic Classes
In a statement issued this week, EUROSAF have announced that along with their partners in the EUROSAF European Sailing Cup (EESC), namely Garda Olympic Week, Delta Lloyd Regatta, Sail for Gold, Kieler Woche, and Semaine Olympique Francaise, they have agreed to include the Paralympic Classes in a minimum of two of the regattas, possibly all five events. This will stand alongside the decision by ISAF to include Paralympic Classes in Sailing World Cup events.

The representative to EUROSAF from the International Association For Disabled Sailing (IFDS), Wilfried Klein, a member of their Executive Committee, has been involved in the discussions between EUROSAF and the event organisers since the proposal was first mooted over one year ago. Initially, it was thought that inclusion in two of the events would be sufficient, but Wilfried said "When I saw what events are to be included in the EESC and knowing the high standard they all achieve, I thought why not be part of more than 2 events. Kieler Woche, Delta Lloyd, Medemblik and Sail for Gold, Weymouth already include Paralympic classes, so this only leaves two more events to complete the whole series". He continued "ISAF decided to include Paralympic classes into the World Cup without limiting the number of events, so we will discuss this at the IFDS Executive Committee when we meet in June and if everyone is in agreement, we will discuss our options with the EESC Steering Committee. This will be an exciting new series for the Paralympic Classes involving a very high standard of race management and competition"

The EUROSAF European Sailing Cup commences in Europe with Garda Olympic Week in May of 2013. Details of the series calendar will be published very soon. For more information in the meantime please contact

Gazprom Cup
The Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg's 2012 youth sailing event programme has officially started with the Optimists of the Northern Capital racing in 'the Gazprom Cup'. The first of this four event series was held during the weekend of May 26 and 27 with another two events scheduled throughout the summer and the ultimate event during September. Attracting 70 entries from across Russia the first event successfully involved a strong youth sailing contingent.

Organized by the Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg (SPBYC) the event series is aimed at developing youth sailing within the region. Through support from Gazprom the goal is to produce a social set of competitions that benefit the youths by producing a fun environment to race in.

For many of the entries this was their first competitive sporting event that they have taken part in with ages ranging from 7 up to 14 years. The Optimist is the dinghy of choice for the event series due to the majority of Russian based children learning in this model straight from their time at Sailing Schools. A large number of the competitors graduated from the SPBYC onsite Children's Sports Club and are now part of the Yacht Club's youth sailing section 'Parusnik'.

Held inshore at Saint-Petersburg all four events are ideally suited to maximize spectator viewing with award ceremonies for each event being hosted on shore by the Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg, as well as a final overall presentation from the Gazprom prize fund. Winner of the first event in the series, Optimist sailor Bogdan Golovnin will look to defend his pole position at the next Optimists of the Northern Capital event to be held on June 3rd at SPBYC.


Optimists of the Northern Capital - The Gazprom Cup - Series Schedule
Event 1, 26 - 27 May
Event 2, 3 June
Event 3, 27 July - 2 August
Event 4, 2 September

Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg,

America's Cup Advisory Board
San Francisco, California: Some of the most prominent leaders in sports, entertainment and business are bringing a wealth of experience to the 34th America's Cup through their appointment to its Advisory Board. One of the most iconic events in sport, the competition will be staged in the US for the first time in nearly two decades, on San Francisco Bay.

Joining the advisory board are L. Jay Cross, President of Related Hudson Yards and formally the President of the New York Jets; Geoffrey Mason, Senior Production Specialist of ESPN and former Executive Producer at ABC; Harvey Schiller, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Global Options Group, Inc and the former Chairman of YankeeNets; Peter Ueberroth, Chairman of The Contrarian Group and previously CEO of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC); and Casey Wasserman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wasserman Media Group.

A further appointment to the Advisory Board will be made later in the year.

The America's Cup has dedicated itself to growing competitive sailing by the addition of the annual AC World Series races as well as through enhanced live television across Europe, Asia and the United States. Recently, NBC announced that the network will provide live coverage of the 2013 September America's Cup Finals as well as coverage of this year's racing in Newport and San Francisco.

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The Last Word
A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. -- Lao Tzu

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