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The Jackal Strikes
Gabart, who has led since the night of the start day on Saturday, has been forced to bear almost due west as he stalled this afternoon. The furthest east of the lead group, Gabart hit a high pressure ridge that has not affected those behind him and was making just 5.6 knots (mostly only to reposition) compared to Cleac'h's 14.3. Cleac'h has won back 48 miles in the last eight hours.

But Cleac'h, the favourite to win the race, is himself being hunted. Bernard Stamm, who has traded second place with Cleac'h six times in the last two days as they almost match-raced down the same route, was just six miles further back.

The other winner in the last four hours has been Alex Thomson, who has moved into fourth place, following almost directly in the wake of the Cleac'h and Stamm. But he only leads Vincent Riou, the furthest west, by 0.1 miles and Jean-Pierre Dick, between them, by 5.7 miles. Dick has had the best speed, 16.3 knots, in the fleet in the last hour.

* Saveol dismasted

At 1945hrs (French time), on Thursday, November 15th, Samantha Davies contacted the race office of the Vendee Globe to report that her boat had dismasted. Davies is not injured. She is safe inside the boat with all the watertight doors closed. She is monitoring the situation and does not require assistance. She is wearing her survival suit and has safety equipment at hand.

When the incident occurred, she was about 130 nautical miles northwest of Madeira (position 34º 20'N 19º 01'W). The conditions at the time of dismasting were: wind 260º, 40 knots, swell northwest, 3 to 4 metres. But the situation will gradually improve, with winds decreasing to 15 knots in the second half of the night.

After speaking to Davies, the race office contacted the Cross Griz Nez (France's Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) to release an urgent Notice to Mariners (AVURNAV). All vessels navigating in a 200 nautical mile radius around Saveol were informed of the incident and the position of the boat.

* Javier Sanso Seeks Shelter Along The Coast

The ACCIONA Sailing Team has been informed by its skipper Javier "Bubi" Sanso that the boat ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered has had to modify its sailing route having suffered a little damage to the track of the main sail halyard whilst sailing in very harsh sea and wind conditions.

At around 18.00 on Wednesday 14th November the skipper from Mallorca saw his main sail come down after a piece of the mainsail halyard track system failed (the line used to raise and lower sails.)

Faced with the sudden dropping of the mainsail in winds of 30 knots and a rough sea with waves of up to four metres, Sanso was forced to modify his route from 213º to 147º and find a downwind position that would enable him to make a first assessment of the situation.

Sanso will look for calmer sea conditions that allow him to go up to the top of the mast and recover the part and the halyard and be able to continue sailing under full sail.

The damage is not serious as Sanso was keen to reassure his shore team and the situation is being monitored.

Top Ten Rankings as of Thursday 15 November 2012, 20h00 (FR)

1. MACIF, Francois Gabart
2. Banque Populaire, Armel Le Cleac´h, 2.0 nm to leader
3. Cheminees Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm, 8.2 nm
4. HUGO BOSS, Alex Thomson, 85.9 nm
5. PRB, Vincent Riou, 86.0 nm
6. Virbac Paprec 3, Jean-Pierre Dick, 91.6 nm
7. Maitre CoQ, Jeremie Beyou, 108.3 nm
8. Gamesa, Mike Golding, 142.4 nm
9. SynerCiel, Jean Le Cam, 147.2 nm
10. Mirabaud, Dominique Wavre, 222.3 nm

Catastrophic Risks Ignored
Serious keel and rig failures have plagued this race, but designers say their suggestions of a solution were ignored by skippers. "We could have sorted this years ago"

"We've already lost one keel in this race, and it's quite possibly not the only one that's going to go."

So says one of the leading yacht designers for the Vendee Globe, a race that has been blighted with a disastrous series of keel and mast failures. Designers involved despair that the class - executive and skippers - has not listened to their suggestions of a solution and are vulnerable to repeated failures that risk lives, cost a fortune and are putting off sponsors.

While the Volvo Ocean Race has had no keel failures in the last three editions, the Vendee Globe has continued for well over a decade racking up calamitous breakages and perilous mid-ocean rescues.

To understand the scale of the problem, you need only look at the statistics. Since the 1996/7 race when Thierry Dubois, Tony Bullimore and Raphael Dinelli were rescued from their upturned boats in the Southern Ocean with hours to spare, there have been 17 keel failures in the class.

Rig losses, not always so serious, have been even worse. In the last five years, 20 boats have been dismasted.

The worst part of all this is that designers have been proposing a possible solution for years, but the class organisation and skippers who make the rule can't agree among themselves and have simply not taken heed...

... This has to be task Number 1 for Sir Keith Mills's new Open Sports Management, which is to set about his global ambitions for this class. IMOCA is in limbo. And it's not just about its commercial future. It's about skippers' own lives and the future and reputation of solo round the world racing. -- Elaine Bunting

A lot more between the elipses at

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Back To Naples, But Not To Venice
The chances of the America's Cup World Series becoming a self sustaining, commercially viable, professional sports product looks less likely with every announcement issued.

While the teams have managed to beg and borrow to enter the competition, the list of potential host venues for the event has been dwindling.

There has been talk that the rights holder 'ACEA' has rejected offers described as "more than any city has ever offered to host a sailing event - partly to try and cover the inflated costs of the high-tech TV production and partly because they believe the America's Cup brand demands a premium.

The ACWS was scheduled to return to Venice in April 2013, but in recent weeks the Venice event has disappeared from the official website and an announcement this week instead promoted two events in the USA in 2013.

The ACEA communications team have confirmed that there will be no Venice event in 2013, but no-one has told the Venice travel and tourism operators who are still promoting hotel-room packages on various websites.

We've searched for an official statement anywhere that deals with the Venice 2013 event being dropped from the calendar, but we can't find one anywhere. -- David Fuller in

Rolex Capri Sailing Week/Volcano Race 2013
Capri, Italy: The format for the Rolex Capri Sailing Week/Volcano Race 2013 was presented this morning at the Circolo Ufficiali delle Forze Armate d'Italia in Rome, Italy.

Exclusively open to Maxi yachts, the event will mark the beginning of next year's Rolex Mediterranean sailing season and takes place from 18-24 May.

The contest will take place in both Gaeta, a seaport on the Italian mainland located halfway between Rome and Naples, and the majestic island of Capri.

Gaeta will host the start of racing on Saturday 18 May when the fleet depart for Capri from under the shadow of the town's famous Bourbon castle. Following their arrival in Capri, the Maxi yachts will tackle an inshore race series on 20 and 21 May.

The competition concludes with a challenging 300-nautical mile offshore race, previously held in 2011 and 2012 as the Rolex Volcano Race. The course will take the fleet of Maxis from Capri to the Aeolian Islands, a wild volcanic archipelago, north of Sicily. The departure for the offshore race is fixed for Wednesday 22 May with the final prizegiving in Capri scheduled for Friday 24 May.

The Rolex Capri Sailing Week/Volcano Race 2013 is organized through the close collaboration of the International Maxi Association, the Yacht Club Gaeta EVS and the Yacht Club Capri. The event marks the beginning of title sponsor Rolex's Mediterranean yachting season and maintains a decade-long tradition of the brand's involvement in an international sailing week in Capri.

The 2013 edition is reserved for Maxi yachts, measuring upwards of 18.29 metres/60-feet. Entrants will be divided into different classes - the Mini Maxis, the smallest group, measure from 18.29-24.08m, the Maxi class from 24.09m-30.5m and the Supermaxis, measuring upwards of 30.5m.

The notice of race and the entry form are available at:

Sam Goodchild Launches A New Four-Year Solo Racing Programme
After an active short-handed racing programme over the last 12 months which included the Transat AG2R, Global Ocean Race, Solitaire du Figaro and Normandy Channel Race, Sam Goodchild is delighted to announce the formation of Sam Goodchild Racing Ltd - a new business set up to professionally manage the next step in Sam's career with the long-term goal of racing in future editions of the legendary solo Vendee Globe.

In 2013 Sam will be competing in both the Figaro and Open classes (Class 40 and IMOCA 60) with the long-term aim of having an 'entry' level campaign for the 2016 Vendee Globe. His four-year programme will focus on continuing to sharpen his boat on boat skills on the match racing circuit, competing again in the Transat Jacques Vabre on an IMOCA 60 or Class 40, and racing in the famed annual Solitaire du Figaro for at least the next three years. Alongside this Sam will be continuing to secure funding for an 'entry' level 2016 Vendee Globe campaign with the hope to progress to a new boat in the 2020 edition, which would see him on the start line looking to win at the age of just 31.

One of the first jobs of the newly formed company was to acquire a Beneteau Figaro II, the cornerstone of the next three years of competition. An investment by private partners has enabled Sam Goodchild Racing to acquire Figaro 85. The boat was previously campaigned by Mini Transat winner, Francisco Labato for the last two seasons.

Sam has been part of the Artemis Offshore Academy for the past two years, first selected for the Development Squad in 2010 then making the transition to a Graduate Sailor, and he will continue to work with the Academy as an Associate sailor on a programme specifically designed to help develop the commercial aspect of his campaign.

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Weymouth To Host Dragon World Championship 2013
Weymouth, UK: Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA), home of the sailing regattas of the 2012 Olympiad, is to host the 2013 Dragon World Championship from 5 to 13 September 2013. With its combination of great sailing waters, purpose built shore facilities, ease of access and fabulous Dorset location on the Jurassic Coast, Weymouth was the obvious choice when the British Dragon Association looked at potential venues.

Teams must qualify to take part in the Dragon World Championship and so only the very best sailors from each country will compete. Reigning World Champion Lawrie Smith, crewed by Ossie Stewart and Tim Tavinor, has confirmed he will defend his title.

mongst those expected to challenge are Russia's Dmitry Samokhin and Anatoly Loginov; Portugal's Jose Matoso; Germany's Tommy Mueller, Markus Wieser and Ulli Libor; Denmark's Lars Hendriksen, Jens Christensen and Joergen Schoenherr; Evgeny Braslavets from the Ukraine; Ireland's Martin Byrne and Simon Brien; Ben Van Cauwenbergh from Belgium; Ezio Gianni Murzi and Giuseppe Duca from Italy; Lowell and Phyllis Chang from Hong Kong and Richard Lynn from Australia.

The British will field a very strong home team led by World Champion Lawrie Smith and including Klaus Diederichs, Ron James, Gavia Wilkinson-Cox and Graham and Julia Bailey.

For those keen to get in some advance training on the Worlds race area, the British Dragon Association will be holding the 2013 South Coast Championship and the Edinburgh Cup, for the British Open Championship, at Weymouth. The South Coasts will be held on 23 and 24 June and will be immediately followed by the Edinburgh Cup from 25 to 30 June 2013. -- Fiona Brown

Semi Final or Bust for Top Two at Monsoon Cup
Current Alpari World Match Racing Tour leader Bjorn Hansen believes that anything less than a Semi Final appearance from either himself or main rival Ian Williams at the Monsoon Cup will end their challenge for the Tour title this season.

Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team maintains top spot ahead of Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar due to his early season successes at the Korea Match Cup and Match Cup Sweden, which powered him to the top of the leaderboard. The Swede goes into the Monsoon Cup with favourable head-to-head stats of 9-5 against his closest rival, the pair having battled to lead the overall standings for the majority of the season.

Twelve years after first competing at a Tour event, Hansen has never been closer to capturing the title. He outlined just what victory would mean to his team, saying: "No Swedish team has ever won the ISAF Match Racing World Championship and this year is the best chance that we as a team have had to secure the title. We feel comfortable with the 5 man teams at the Monsoon Cup and it is an exciting thing for us. We know that we can sail well in Malaysia but you always have to hope that the week goes your way too."

Reigning Tour Champion Ian Williams won the Monsoon Cup in 2011 and along with Hansen and Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing, is one of the skippers with the experience of having battled through several Tour campaigns.

Williams has recently been shortlisted by both the Yachting Journalists Association and Yachts & Yachting for their respective 'Sailor of the Year' awards, testament to his continued impressive form this year.

The Monsoon Cup, Malaysia's second biggest sports event of the year, will take place on 3-8 December at the Ri-Yaz Heritage Marina Resort & Spa, Pulau Duyong, Kuala Terengganu.

61.92 Knots Peak Speed
VESTAS Sailrocket 2 has finally begun the big reveal of the beast within. From our perspective, the speed wasn't any accident and certainly wasn't unexpected. We have been working in this direction for a long time now. We always said that we were aiming for speeds over 60 knots and that in the current speed sailing context it simply wouldn't be worth building a boat unless you were. I don't think anyone is really sure of what the potential of the kiters really is. Even the windsurfers are now showing that they had what it takes to get well over 50 knots. Everything about VSR2 was focused on 60+. We just hadn't found the right combinations to unlock the boats real potential. Being stuck in the low 50's was frustrating on one hand but very educational on the other. To be fair, the new foil didn't get stuck there for very long. We just needed to get enough runs in to work through a few theories. The change in performance once the fences were added was pretty remarkable.

So the peak was 61.92 knots (71.3 mph or 114.75 kph). The average was 54.08 knots over 500 meters and the best 5 second average was 59.08 knots. As mentioned, the low speed on the 500 meter average was 47 knots. Even if we don't go faster, it shouldn't be hard to bring that 47 up into the mid 50's. That should do the trick.

The thing is that I don't trust the kiters. They make me feel uneasy. They're hungry for this game and they are not going to give this speed mantle away without a fight. I'm not sure what their real limits are yet. For all this time we have been trying to bag this outright world record but even now... before we have even achieved that... I am wondering if that will make me happy. I guess this challenge has turned into something bigger than the actual record.

From Paul Larsen's latest blog post:

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The Last Word
Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go. -- Oscar Wilde

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