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The Great Escape
Sailing their own match race into the open wilds of the Pacific, the leading duo in the Vendee Globe have begun to extend away again. But not from each other. Armel Le Cleac'h (Banque Populaire) said he could see Francois Gabart (MACIF), no more than two miles away they passed the Auckland Islands, on the radar overnight. For his part, Gabart sent home a video trying, but not wholly succeeding, to show Le Cleac'h's sails in the distance.

The two did not hesitate as they crossed the Campbell Plateau, with the big rough seas caused by the vertiginous shelf on its western boundary. Le Cleac'h spoke of hand steering through an area where the human touch is more responsive than even these modern autopilots.

Le Cleac'h maintained the slenderest of leads - just 2.2 miles - at the 1500hrs UTC ranking. "We could see each other (Gabart) in the fog," Le Cleac'h said. "I wanted to talk to him on the VHF, it didn't work, but, no, I'm not mad at him or anything. I'm definitely keeping an eye on him, though."

Denis Horeau, the race director for four of the seven editions (the first in 1989 and the last three since 2004-05), cannot remember anything like it. "Never," he says. "There are two reasons, firstly the gates have changed the strategy and the second is that they are very similar sailors in the boats that have both been made by Michael Desjoyeaux (the only two-time winner of the race). They are getting the same weather files and they have the same conditions so it is natural they are in the same place."

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

1. MACIF, François Gabart, 11438.4 nm to finish
2. Banque Populaire, Armel Le Cleac´h, 3.5 nm to leader
3. Virbac Paprec 3, Jean-Pierre Dick, 582.5 nm
4. HUGO BOSS, Alex Thomson, 928.8 nm
5. Cheminees Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm, 930.5 nm
6. SynerCiel, Jean Le Cam, 1712.4 nm
7. Gamesa, Mike Golding, 1868.5 nm
8. Mirabaud, Dominique Wavre, 1993.8 nm
9. ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered, Javier Sanso, 2056.2 nm
10. AKENA Verandas, Arnaud Boissières, 2731.5 nm

www.vendeeglobe.org

Hat Trick for Geoff Carveth
It was a gripping finish on the deciding day at the UON SB20 World Championships at Hamilton Island with Geoff Carveth sailing into the class history books, crowned SB20 world champion for the third time.

It was the closest finish at any SB20 worlds with Carveth's British WKD team, Glenn Bourke's Australian entry, Club Marine, and Rodion Luka's Team Russia all wrapping up their series tied on 41 points after six days and 12 races. A countback was needed to separate the ultimate victor from second and third.

Hamilton Island CEO Glenn Bourke almost added another world title to his belt. "I have the utmost respect for the two guys we tied with," said Bourke. "It's testament to Geoff's talent and their crew work that they kept working their way out of deep positions, particularly in the last six races".

Winds were easterly and shifty for the final day of competition at 7-9 knots for the first race and up to 14 knots for the decider.  Denis Thompson pulled his black flag out again in race 11 after three general recalls due to wind shifts and antsy crews. On the fourth attempt the fleet got away cleanly. Three SB20s were pinged and individually recalled in the final race 12.

A countback separated first and second, Team Russia and Club Marine, with WKD, a mere three points off the frontrunners heading into today's final two sprints. The tension on the dock this morning was palpable with a world title riding on the final act for the three contenders, and points still to be claimed for those with their sights on the minor placings.

The SB20 class will hold their 2013 World Championship in Hyeres in the south of France next September.

Top ten final places

1. WKD, Geoff Carveth , GBR, 41 points
2. Club Marine, Glenn Bourke, AUS, 41
3. Team Russia, Rodion Luka, RUS, 41
4. The Beard, Robert Greenhalgh, GBR, 58
5. Bango Powered bySLAM, Ben Saxton GBR, 70
6. Hyeres2013, Thomas Rouxel, FRA, 77
7. One Design Sailing, Ian Brown, AUS, 84
8. Aquaholics, Anna Basalkina, RUS, 92
9. ALTEA, Andrea Racchelli, ITA, 93
10. Stenghele, Pietro Negri, ITA, 129

Results at worlds2012.sb20class.com and www.hamiltonisland.com.au/sb20-worlds-2012/

Ec6 Bundled Carbon Rod Rigging Is Proving Itself Once Again In The Toughest Race On Earth!
Southern Spars The current Vendee Globe fleet are now well into the Southern Ocean and a third have been forced to retire. Five of the leading eight yachts in the race are sporting EC6 continuous bundled carbon rod rigging supplied by Southern Spars and from all reports their rigging has been 100% reliable.

EC6 cables are constructed from a bundle of small diameter carbon fiber rods - even if "a single twig breaks, the bundle of twigs is strong".

In record and boat breaking conditions you need to ensure your rigging is up for job; EC6 provides you with that supreme confidence.

For more information on EC6 rigging please visit www.southernspars.com or email for a quote.

Return Of Swan 42, Resurgence Of Melges 24
Key West, Florida: John Hele has wanted to compete in the popular annual race week off Key West ever since he got into sailboat racing. The New York Yacht Club member will finally get to achieve that goal next month because the Swan 42 class is coming back to the beautiful blue waters off the Conch Republic.

The return of the Swan 42 as a one-design class and the resurgence of the Melges 24 fleet are among many highlights of Quantum Key West 2013. The Event Organizer and officials with title sponsor Quantum Sail Design Group see those two success stories as further indication the popular winter regatta has weathered the storm.

The Swan 42 made its Key West debut in 2007 when renowned Hong Kong sailor Makoto Uematsu captured first place in IRC 3 class aboard his brand new Esmeralda. A whopping 12 Swan 42s were on the starting line the following year with Andy Fisher and his Bandit team winning a hotly contested regatta. Swan 42 remained a one-design class in 2009 when Jon Halbert sailed Vitesse to victory, but the past three years have seen just one or two of the beautiful club racers competing under the IRC rule.

A strong group of seven Swan 42 sloops are currently registered with two-time United States national champions Philip Lotz (Arethusa) and Ken Colburn (Apparition) already tabbed as the boats to beat. Fisher is back with Bandit while Halbert will sail Vitesse at Key West for the sixth straight year.

A similar theme has been sounded within the Melges 24 class, which will be the second-largest at Quantum Key West 2013 with no less than 22 boats. That marks a significant increase from last year and is due in part to a grass roots effort by class leaders working closely with Premiere Racing.

Other positive developments surrounding the 2013 edition of Quantum Key West include the debut of the J/70 class, which will be the largest with a whopping 37 of the popular new sport boats. Organizers are also excited about the growth of the High Performance class, which will feature intriguing new designs like the Carkeek 40, Farr 400, GP 42 and Lutra 42. This will be their first class start in Key West with the 8 boats being scored under the HP Rule. -- Bill Wagner

www.Premiere-Racing.com

Wight Vodka Favourite Yachting Bar
Wight Vodka Over 3000 votes in so far, with Navi Bar still holding onto first place, followed by Sint Maarten Yacht Club and The King and Queen in Hamble UK.

Voting continues until midnight December 27th...

While you ponder your choice... linger over this festive holiday drink:

- Take your best champagne flute, run it under cold water and place it into a freezer for the moment.
- Place fresh ice into a cocktail shaker.
- Pour one shot of Wight Vodka into the shaker.
- Shake or stir for a minute or two.
- Pull the champagne flute from the freezer.
- Pour the Wight Vodka into the flute.
- Top up with your favourite chilled champagne.
- Add a splash of Blue Curacao.

Cast your vote at www.scuttlebutteurope.com/sailors-bars.html

Oracle Believed to be on Wrong Side of Spying Decision
It is believed that the International Jury for the 34th America's Cup has ruled on a protest lodged by the Italian Challenger Luna Rossa, against the America's Cup defender Oracle Team USA.

Sail-World's information is that the US team have been found in breech of the Surveillance provisions of the Protocol.

In the incident complained of by the Italian Challenger, Oracle Team USA's spy boat was stopped some distance from Luna Rossa's AC72, and took photos from close range as Luna Rossa sailed towards them. Evidence produced by the Italians showed that the US team's spy boat was 105metres from the Italian catamaran - around half the distance permitted under the Protocol, unless permission had been given - which had not occurred in this case.

If correct, the implications of the finding could be quite serious, as this is one of the first in America's Cup history where an actual team member has been caught in the act of spying on another team - usually it has been third parties such as divers etc who have been seen or apprehended. -- Richard Gladwell in Sail-World.com

www.sail-world.com

Safran's Broken Keel: Results Of The Investigation
Following the withdrawal of the Safran ocean racer skippered by Marc Guillemot shortly after the start of the Vendée Globe round-the-world race, a group of three Safran specialists, in mechanics, quality and materials & processes, worked with everybody involved in development of the boat's keel (naval architects, designers and manufacturers) to determine the causes of the broken keel.

The specialists analyzed the break in the keel's fin by microscopic observations to determine the failure mode. Samples were also taken from the metal to check if its characteristics matched the values used for strength calculations. At the same time, other experts calculated the loads experienced by the keel, based on observations of the break, and compared them to the standard loads used as a basis for its design.

The investigation was able to exclude the possibility of a break due to a collision with an "unidentified floating object". It also noted that there were no metallurgical defects, and that the welds showed no anomalies that could explain the break. The investigation shows that the break was due to damage caused by metal fatigue, engendered by repeated shocks from contact with waves. There are no indications of a high-frequency vibration phenomenon.

www.vendeeglobe.org

GAES Palamos Christmas Race
The 37th edition of the GAES Palamps Christmas Race has kicked off with over 200 teams at the starting line racing in shifty conditions in a southerly wind, 6 to 8 knots.

With two races sailed in the Finn class the leader is Spanish sailor Alex Muscat followed by Ukrainian sailor Andril Gusenko and Briton George Harry in third place overall.

French team Julie D'Ortolli and Noé Delpech lead the 49er standings after the two races sailed. The Spanish Paz brothers sit in second place closely followed by Spanish youth sailor Diego Botin with crew Yago López.

The 49erFX brings Denmark to the top of the leader board Ida Marie Baad and Marie Thusgaard followed by Johanna Sommarlund and Sofie Düring from Sweden.

In Laser Standard Polish sailor Jonasz Stelmaszy leads the fleet with a fifth and two third places after the opening day. Norwegian sailor Mathias Mollat is second with just one point difference and third place overall is Poland's Piasecki.

Great Britain's Alison Young leads the Laser Radial fleet followed by Celine Therese Herud from Norway by just two points and Alizée Gadel (FRA) is in third. In the Laser, Sweden's Marcus Magnusso occupies top spot followed by Polish competitor Adrian Raczkowski in second place and Spanish sailor Borja Mas in third place overall.

Poland's Agnieszca Skrzypulec and Natalia Wojcik lead the Women's 470 fleet and Kevin Pepponet and Julien Lebrun (FRA) have the advantage in the men's fleet.

Full results: www.christmasrace.org

German Frers - A Passion For Design
German Frers This coffee table biography provides an insight into the lives, designs and passions of one of the most prolific design families - all named German Frers. It is a book to delight all owners of Frers designed yachts, those that have crewed on them, and all students of yacht design.

It charts a family design heritage spanning 3 generations that has been responsible for the launching of more than 10,000 boats from dinghies to day keelboats, distinctive cruisers to successful racers, powerboats and superyachts.

Early chapters chart six generations of family history: How one ship owned by a Frers ancestor, was escorting a pirated Portuguese frigate back across the Atlantic in 1820, took formal possession of what are now known as the Falklands, an act that remains is central to Argentine claims over the Malvinas Islands today; the influence that revolutionary Che Guevara, a first cousin, had on the current generation, and German Frers apprenticeship with the best designers - his Father, and the New York masters Olin and Rod Stephens.

During the 50's and 60's when the design skills of German Frers Snr. were at their zenith, good yacht design was very much down to intuition and experience. This book shows how those traditional skills continue to hold true, but are now mixed with the very precise demands of structural analysis, aerodynamics, computer wizardry and hi-tech engineering.

'A Passion for Design' also highlights the rise of Frers Snr.' first son German in the world of IOR and Maxi yacht racing during the 70's and '80's, his involvement in three America's Cup campaigns and his pioneering work in developing performance oriented cruisers and superyachts. Now, German (Mani) Frers Jnr. the third generation, is adding to this reputation, having worked with his Father on some of the most prestigious projects from Dr Jim Clark's 155ft Hyperion and Prada boss Patrizio Bertelli's 105ft Ulisse, to a variety of successful Open class racers and on his own account, Sweden's Victory America's Cup challenger.

"Flipping Book" excerpt:
issuu.com/pplmedia/

Written by Barry Pickthall
Format: 302 x 234mm. 207 pages
Illustrations: 194 colour pictures + 83 Drawings
Price: £35.00 Sterling + P&P ISBN: 09531044 0 0
Order 4 copies for your crew and get a 5th copy free

Order from: South Atlantic Publishing. www.southatlanticpublishing.com

Launchings
Click on images to enlarge.

Stimson Yachts "A blend of elegance and performance in a boat that is easily handled and uncomplicated to sail" was the description of our Windseeker 66ft Touche. The 80ft builds on their experience gained with that yacht and takes it to the next level. A round-the-world capable yacht, displacing 45tonnes and fitted with a 3.5m lifting keel she has mile-eating performance combined with a spacious interior. Three distinct cockpit areas - a helming/working area right aft, a comfortable lounging/sunbathing cockpit amidships and a raised seating/dining area forward by the companionway. With naval architecture and styling by Stimson Yachts, and engineering by Gurit she will be built at MAG Marin in Tusla, Turkey. A flush deck version of the 66 in the same flush-deck style is currently in design and due to start in March 2013

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Beneteau's new cruising yacht the Oceanis 55 premiered at the Salon Nautique de Paris on 7th December 2012. The new model combines clean modern lines and contemporary style with the quality and comfort for which Beneteau is known.

The interior is meant to be bright thanks to the many openings, and the generous volumes of each space.

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Icon 48 The Icon 48 "Leeloo" will be handed over to its owner just before the Christmas weekend. K&M Yachtbuilders.

The owner, a Dutch entrepreneur, had his ship designed by Kees van de Stadt from Satellite Yacht Design according to his own wishes and requirements.

"Leeloo" has a striking, chic appearance; the hull is dark-brown metallic, and the metallic superstructure is champagne-coloured. The hatches, designed in collaboration with the owner, are in a flush position in chocolate-coloured Esthec, a composite deck cover. The anchor, the anchor attachment and the furler are below deck. All the lines run from the mast below deck to the cockpit. All this gives the deck a very neat look.

And what about the name "Leeloo"? Cult fans will probably recognise it from the film "Fifth Element", in which "Leeloo" is the fifth element which complements the primal elements of earth, fire, air and water.

-----------------------------------------

Exo The yacht Exo has been developed in partnership between Claydon Reeves and Dykstra Naval Architects.

A sailing yacht designed to add a new element to the experience of performance cruising. Instead of a hull providing a strong sense of enclosure it instead allows unparalleled views of the external and underwater environments.

The main load bearing elements are constructed from a carbon monocoque space frame, much like that of a modern motorbike, whilst the hull skin are to be developed using lighter construction methods.

Not Sailing But Very Cool
Hubble Telescope No, this image is not one of the Mayan apocalypse. NASA has a tradition of releasing spectacular Hubble images in time for the winter holidays, such as a 2011 photo of a space "snow angel," and 2012 was no different.

This year, NASA published a breathtaking photo of a planetary nebula called NGC-5189, located some 3,000 light years away in the constellation Musca (the fly).

Nebulas like the one shown here are formed by dying stars - ones like our own Sun except that have run out of fuel and are ejecting their outer layers, which become superheated by the remaining stellar material and billow outward as clouds of gas, turning into beautiful patterns and shapes. The nebula pictured, NGC-5189, is said to resemble a "glass-blown ornament," according to NASA, hence it being featured as this year's holiday favorite.

idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com

Featured Brokerage
Featured Brokerage Boat 2010 Arcona 430. 339,000 GBP. Located in Hampshire, United Kingdom.

A rare opportunity to purchase an effectivley new Arcona 430, she has been lightlty used since new and only sailed around the Solent. Very highly specified and comes with upgraded cream Alcantara fabric making her feel light and more contempary.

Full suit of Quantum sails, main and genoa in carbon/technora double taffeta, Coda O with a Karver furler and spinnakers. The 0.6oz has never been used.

She is very well set up and this Arcona 430 makes for a wonderfully quick passage making yacht with great comfort below. Viewing is highly recomended.

Brokerage through Nicolle Associates:
www.findaboat.co.uk

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

The Last Word
The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live. -- George Carlin

Your humble narrator has big plans for a big vat of Eggnog and will be back on Boxing Day... Happy Holidays to all...

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