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Race Record Time Still A Possibility
Mark Richards, the skipper of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race record holder, Wild Oats XI, sees the current weather outlook for this year's big race - which starts on Boxing Day - being more favourable for high speed sailing than what was experienced when the 30-metre long supermaxi set record in 2005.

His belief is reinforced by yachting meteorologist Roger Badham, whose latest forecast has the leading yacht arriving in Hobart on record pace.

Crewman Steve Jarvin, who is going for a record 11th line honours in the Hobart, has written the '07.40.09 Friday' inside his weather beaten sailing cap. That's the time by which Wild Oats XI needs to finish should she lead the fleet into Hobart and also claim a race record.

To claim line honours Wild Oats XI, which is owned by winemaker Bob Oatley, must beat three other big boats: last year's line honours winner, Ragamuffin Loyal, skippered by Syd Fischer; the heavily revamped Wild Thing (Grant Wharington), and Lahana (Peter Millard and John Honan).

The Wild Oats XI crew is hoping an addition to their sail inventory, a huge 525-square-metre Code Zero headsail, will be a powerful weapon in the light winds that will prevail during the transition stage off the NSW South Coast, and if it is then it could provide a winning break.

The first yacht home needs to average 15 knots to establish a new mark. Considering that Wild Oats XI is capable of 12 knots sailing upwind, and should sail at twice that speed across Bass Strait, then on paper a record time for this year's line honours yacht is distinctly possible. -- Rob Mundle

Le Cleac'h Steals the Christmas Lead
It was the night before Christmas when the top two skippers in the Vendee Globe exchanged positions once more, Armel Le Cleac'h taking over the lead by a mere 2.5 miles. Other than for Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm who is climbing north towards New Zealand and better weather, the entire Vendee Globe fleet are set to spend their Christmas Day sharing the same present, strong wind.

There will be little time to celebrate Christmas aboard Armel Le Cleac'h's Banque Populaire or François Gabart's Macif today, nor indeed will there be any more or any less than the usual goodwill evident between the two leading rivals, but the two top skippers were once again very close during last night.

Le Cleac'h was consistently faster, nearly two knots quicker than Gabart overnight, between the 2000hrs and 0500hrs (French time) rankings.  As they cross the western mark of the Pacific West gate, 1800 miles east of Dunedin and with 2860 miles to Cape Horn, Le Cleac'h has his nose in front again. They look set to spend Christmas Day in close company, fast reaching in 25kts of SW'ly winds. When yesterday they were separated by 20 miles of lateral distance last night it was reduced to just a couple of miles at times.

If third placed Jean-Pierre Dick has a significant margin to close on the leading duo, just over one day behind at current express speeds, the French skipper of Virbac-Paprec 3, who is spending his fifth Christmas at sea, has cut 50 miles from that margin during Christmas Eve, building the best 24hrs run of the Vendee Globe fleet at 423 miles.

Top Ten Rankings as of Tuesday 25 December 2012, 20h00 (FR)

1. Banque Populaire, Armel Le Cleac´h, 9570.7 nm to finish
2. MACIF, Francois Gabart, 3.9 nm to leader
3. Virbac Paprec 3, Jean-Pierre Dick, 487.6 nm
4. HUGO BOSS, Alex Thomson, 998.0 nm
5. SynerCiel, Jean Le Cam, 1872.1 nm
6. Cheminees Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm, 2021.7 nm
7. Gamesa, Mike Golding, 2297.7 nm
8. Mirabaud, Dominique Wavre, 2319.3 nm
9. ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered, Javier Sanso, 2511.9 nm
10. AKENA Verandas, Arnaud Boissieres, 3046.5 nm

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Wight Vodka Voting ends at midnight UTC tonight.

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White Dolphin Wins Panerai Transat Classique
At 3.49 p.m. (Barbados time) White Dolphin crossed the finishing line of the Panerai Transat Classique 2012 and added her name to the list of winners of this exceptional race for exceptional yachts.

Under an unsettled sky, a mixture of sunshine and squalls, the big white yawl appeared on the horizon with all sail set. Her powerful bows, garlanded with a fine wave, were almost surfing over the swell. As she passed the Panerai buoy, the only route mark since the Canaries, the crew began to celebrate their victory with smoke flares billowing from the foredeck of their White Dolphin. Pascal, the owner, Yann, the skipper, Fred, Nicolas, Arnaud, Jean-Fabrice and Jordan were revelling in the moment. The committee boats soon met up to welcome them and pay tribute to their achievement.

After an ultimate tack to drop her sails, White Dolphin entered the port of Bridgetown where a fantastic reception awaited her from the thousands of Barbadians standing on the quays.

At 19:34 hours Red Hackle, sailing in the Rally category, crossed the finishing line of the Panerai Transat Classique 2012 before joining White Dolphin in the port of Bridgetown. Guy, Jacques, Olivier, Antoine and Fabrice received a touching ovation as they passed under the bridge to gain the Inner Basin at the heart of the town. In addition to her successful run in the race, the German Frers design made a wonderful crossing under the guidance of circumnavigator Jacques Caraes.

NACRA 17 Orders Pile-Up
It is expected that over 100 crews from more than 30 Nations will launch an Olympic campaign in new mixed Olympic discipline with the Nacra catamaran 17. The multihull with curved boards also seem to be creating interest in the open market. According to Nacra Marketing Director Gunnar Larsen orders for more than 200 catamarans have been placed.

The first ships are delivered, and the potential Olympic teams make their first experiences. Among them are the Austrians Thomas Zajac, 49er sailors and Tornado World Championship runner-up and 420 youth world champion Tanja Frank ex. -- Gerald New

* The International Sailing Federation reports the following communication from Nacra Racing: Due to quality issues with the upper section of the carbon mast, decision has been taken to suspend delivery of the Nacra 17 with the carbon mast.

The Nacra17 will be delivered with an alloy mast until further notice. This mast section is similar to that of the Nacra F16 and F18. All teams which have already taken delivery of the Nacra 17 will receive an alloy mast and fittings to retrofit their boat.

We expect that delivery of the carbon mast will resume as soon as we are 100% convinced about the solution. All alloy masts in the marketplace will be swapped back to carbon masts. Instructions will follow.

Above actions has been discussed and agreed with both ISAF and NACRA 17 class association.

In the process of finding the limits sailing with the curved daggerboards equipped Nacra 17, various teams have been sailing in conditions above 25 knots of wind accompanied with big waves thus huge loads on the boat during sailing and capsizing.

Although expected and taken into account in the design and test phase we found that some teams discovered cracks in their mast above the hound below the top of the mast.


VOR NOR Allows One Extra Crew Member for In-Port Races
Teams will be allowed an extra crew member for In-Port Races in the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race in 2014-15, in one of a series of rule changes announced in the Notice of Race on Friday.

The document underlines the Volvo Ocean Race's commitment to broadening the platform for entry by allowing extra crew members for all-female and mixed teams and mandating the use of at least two Under-30s crewmembers on each team.

The Notice of Race for the 12th edition of the world's leading offshore sailing event, which is being issued just over five and a half months after the end of the 2011-12 Race, includes the following stipulations:

- Each team will be able to name 1 extra crew member for the in-port races, subject to certain restrictions
- The standard crew size will be 8 plus 1 non-sailing multimedia reporter
- Mixed teams (with no more than five male sailors) will be able to race with 9 plus 1 non-sailing multimedia reporter
- All women's teams will be able to race with 11 sailors plus 1 non-sailing multimedia reporter
- Each team will again have to race with 2 Under-30s crew members at all times
- There will be a new, fully competitive warm-up race, which although it will not carry Race points, must be contested by full racing crews

The decision to bring in one extra crew members for In-Port Races came after race management concluded a team of eight sailors would find it too difficult to perform the necessary sail changes and manoeuvres to guide the powerful One Design 65-foot boats around tight inshore courses.

The full document can be viewed at:

Seahorse February 2013
What's in the Latest Edition Of Seahorse Magazine

Seahorse Magazine

From the front
Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad is onside with our campaign to improve engineering safety and Marcello Persico is getting thoroughly immersed in the VO65 team spirit

Ben Ainslie tells Blue Robinson about life after London 2012 and of the changing demands of sourcing an America’s Cup sponsorship deal

Quietly beavering away
Stephane Dyen and Switzerland’s Hydros Team are working hard to broaden the argument for lifting foils

Olympic retrospective
Andy Rice reflects on the changes, good and bad, in the Olympic family

A Swedish Mohican?
Leading a French Cup team while consulting to the Swedes, Bill Goggins asks how Loick Peyron can possibly keep everybody happy...

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Palamos Christmas Race
A South westetly breeze shyly appeared in the bay as forecasted and the 49ers sailed out to complete the Medal Race. French sailors Julie D'Ortolli and Noe Delpech claimed the title in 49er finishing fourth while Spanish team Diego Botin and Yago López climbed to second place with a second place in the Medal Race. A bullet brought Great Britain's James Peters and Ed Fitzgerald to third place overall.

The FX and Women's 470 were the next to start but the wind dropped and the races had to be abandoned in both classes.

The fleets waited afloat and finally the Race Committee decided to cancel the day's racing as there were no signs of wind.

With no races sailed in all other classes, the leaderboard remained the same:

1. Àlex Muscat (ESP)
2. Andril Gusenko (UKR)
3. Andrew Mills (GBR)

1. Elliot Hanson (GBR)
2. Mathias Mollatt (NOR)
3. Jonasz Stelmaszyk (POL)

Laser Radial women
1. Alison Young (GBR)
2. Amelie Riou (FRA)
3. De Kerangat (FRA)

Laser Radial boys
1. Marcus Magnusson (SWE)
2. Sebastian Kalafarski (POL)
3. Alberto Guillen (ESP)

1. Julien D'Ortoli/Noe Delpech (FRA)
2. Diego Botin/Yago López (ESP)
3. James Peters/Ed Fitzgerald

1. Victoria Jurczok/Anika Lorenz (GER)
2. Ida Marie Baad/Marie Thusgaard (DEN)
3. Johanna Sommarlund/Sofie Düring (SWE)

Women's 470
1. Lara Vadlan/Jolanta Ogar (AUT)
2. Joanna Freeman/Katie Tomsett (GBR)
3. Ewa Szcesna/Irmina Mrozek (POL)

Men's 470
1. Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan (FRA)
2. Gabriel Skoczek/Achille Nebout (FRA)
3. Kevin Pepponet/Julien Lebrun (FRA)

1. Martí Llena/Oriol Mahiques (ESP)
2. Carla Munte/Marta Munte (ESP)
3. Nil Mas/Jordi Llena (ESP)

1. Pierre Garreta/Michael Elliot (FRA)
2. Machetti Hippolyte/Dantes Sidoine (FRA)
3. Victor Migrain/Thibault Cour (FRA)

Full results:

A Full House for the Yorkshire Dales Brass Monkey
Photo by Steve Larvin. Click on image to enlarge.

Yorkshire Dales Brass Monkey With a forecast of sunshine and strong wind on 27 December, and entry already full, the Yorkshire Dales Brass Monkey looks set to be a humdinger of an event. The first time it has been included the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series, the Brass Monkey already has over 120 entries in 32 different dinghy classes.

Event organiser Keith Escritt said: "It's a pity we can't make the lake bigger, but 120 is all we reckon can fit comfortably on the water and ashore. So we're asking if anyone who has entered but reckons they won't be able to make it on the day, to let us know in advance so we can pass their spot on to another boat."

Just three days after comes the third event in the Series, the Grafham Grand Prix. Entries are growing by the day but to secure a spot, competitors should book their spot at:, the event website managed by SailRacer.

The GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series kicked off a month ago with the Draycote Dash where 90 boats competed across the two days. Peter Nelson won at Draycote in his RS600 singlehander, and so leads the Series after the first of a total of six events across the winter. With seven different classes represented in the top 10, early indications from the Draycote Dash suggest the Great Lakes handicapping system is producing very even racing for a big variety of different classes.

Top Six after one event of the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series:

1. RS600, Peter Nelson
2. Merlin Rocket, David Hayes & Jonny Ratcliffe
3. Phantom, Andy Couch
4. Merlin Rocket, Matt Biggs & John Hackett
5. Laser, Ian Morgan
6. 505, Andy Smith & Alex Davies

Full list of scores after one event of the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series here:

Running The Rhumblines
The warm tropical sailing environment of North Queensland's Pioneer Bay will become a distant memory for several Whitsunday Sailing Club crews who will focus their attention on Tasmania over the Christmas New Year holidays.

Leading the way will be the former Volvo Around the World race challenger the Leo Rodriguez skippered Merit while an equally enthusiastic group of much younger Whitsunday sailors will test their endurance and tactical sailing talent in Australian dinghy championship regattas on the cooler and calmer courses on the River Derwent.

The Merit crew are encouraged by the slug fest forecast of strong winds and the typical flesh and fabric testing seas whipped into a supreme torture test of human and hull torture for the annual Bass Strait bash to Hobart.

They have the distinction of winning the Performance Handicap class blue ribbon before and while they normally prefer to race in T-shirts and shorts will be rugged up in their storm weather suits before they can step ashore onto Tasmania's historical Constitution Dock to enjoy a warm shower and hopefully celebrate another top result with cold local brewed beer.

A strong fleet of Optimist sailors headed by school girl skipper Eva Lorenz have some important time to continue with their pre-championship preparations on Pioneer Bay before they line up to contest the Australian Optimist series in Hobart from January 6-13.

Their Club coach the former Australian Optimist class Bronze medallist Klaus Lorenz who has now focused his career on the international 420 dinghy will also be in Tasmania competing in the Australian championship followed by the important OAMP Insurance National Youth championship and selection trials for the World Youth team.

Klaus despite racing and training alone with his crew on the familiar waters of Pioneer Bay has progressively shown the required boat speed to match his Interstate rivals in the 2012 Australian 420 series over the Sandy Bay course on the River Derwent from December 28 to January 4.

He has the respect of his rivals and remains as the skipper who has the determination to become the first North Queenslander to set a career path on winning selection as the 420 class representative in the Australian Youth Team.

However while Klaus Lorenz has personally developed his skill from endless hours of practice the time has come for the teenage 420 sailor to produce the results against Australia's best when the sails are tensioned in Hobart. -- Ian Grant

Governor's Cup Race - Battling Winds off the South African Coast
The fleet in the Governor's Cup race are now three days into the 1,700-mile downwind journey from Simon's Town to the remote island of St Helena in the Atlantic.

After a near perfect start from False Bay Yacht Club on Saturday, and a tricky and tactical first couple of days, the 19-strong fleet is beginning to settle into life at sea off the Western coast of South Africa.

Most of the fleet have experienced light airs generally from the south-west (from zero to 11kts) over the last 24 hours but the forecast shows more wind expected, which should improve overall progress of the race towards St Helena, particularly for those nearer the coast of Africa.

The crew aboard Unwind - Niels and Margret Hendrik's Simonis Voogd 501 design - advised Cape Town Radio yesterday of their retirement due to rudder problems. They arrived at Yachtport, Saldanha Bay yesterday afternoon but they intend to resume their voyage to St Helena once the steering problem is fixed.

According to this morning's tracker, Kevin Ward's Elan Impression 434, Canace, sponsored by Nampak Bevcan's CAN DO!, is currently leading the fleet - on the water. Skippered by Kevin Ward and crewed by a team of six between the ages of 52 and 70, Canace is now in a favourable position to really gain a further advantage on the fleet, she will be hoping that the winds fill in from the South. However, she is currently stuck in an area of high pressure, which could affect her position if the likes of Rob Newman's Du Toit catamaran - Compromise - one of the early race leaders, maintains her current consistent speed. -- Sue Pelling

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The Last Word
The two most joyous times of the year are Christmas morning and the end of school. -- Alice Cooper

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