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Thomson's Relief at Cape Horn
British solo skipper Alex Thomson had less than 200 miles to make to Cape Horn at 1500hrs UTC this afternoon and should pass the legendary rock in the early hours of Friday morning lying in fourth place in the Vcndee Globe solo round the world race.

Though the skipper of Hugo Boss still has more than one quarter of the course to complete, and the ice strewn passage of the Cape in itself holds considerable danger through the next 24 hours, a successful release from the Pacific Ocean and into the Atlantic will also release many of the demons of past disappointments.

Two failed previous Vendee Globe races and one solo Velux 5 Oceans - when he had to abandon his IMOCA Open 60 in the Indian Ocean - mean that this will be his first Cape Horn alone. That he is in an excellent fourth place in an older generation of design, still in touch with the podium whilst managing an acute on board power shortage is already an enduring endorsement of his skills as a solo sailor. Thomson has been in power saving mode since he broke a hydrogenerator on December 11th, but plans to speak to Vendee Globe LIVE after his passage.

* Jean-Pierre Dick Horn crossed the Cape Horn last night, January 3rd at 4.02 TU.

"The Cape Horn is magical and symbolic. You can only deserve it after a long journey in the shadows area. You feel like you are back into the light again. You put the indicator to the finish line. Even if there is ice, wind and sea, you feel something strong inside yourself.

The South is usually a place of expression for me, but this time was frustrating. I'm happy to move on because the race is far from being over. Sailing back up the Atlantic will be very hard and intense. We are now in a new phase of the race and I'm getting into it more determined than ever."

* More support for Bernard Stamm from the fleet:

Reached by phone during the TF1 main news show, Francois Gabart sent a message to Bernard Stamm:

"I fully support Bernard, it is difficult for him. Whatever the jury decision will be I think he will do everything I can to get back to the Sables d'Olonne and sailing up the channel where I am sure many people will cheer him up. I hope I will be back because he can count on me to be there when he arrives."

Top Ten Rankings as of Thursday 03 January 2013, 20h00 (FR)

1. MACIF, Francois Gabart, 6552.1 nm to finish
2. Banque Populaire, Armel Le Cleac'h, 40.9 nm to leader
3. Virbac Paprec 3, Jean-Pierre Dick, 335.5 nm
4. HUGO BOSS, Alex Thomson, 615.9 nm
5. SynerCiel, Jean Le Cam, 1900.2 nm
6. Gamesa, Mike Golding, 2304.2 nm
7. Mirabaud, Dominique Wavre, 2377.0 nm
8. ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered, Javier Sanso, 2496.7 nm
9. Cheminees Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm, 2545.4 nm
10. AKENA Verandasm Arnaud Boissieres, 2567.4 nm

Stamm Requests Reopening Of His Case
The International Jury have received a request from Bernard Stamm to reopen the case regarding his disqualification.

Elaine Bunting weighs in:

What I wonder is exactly how small an act of assistance it would take to risk being thrown out of the race? Even if no-one had helped Stamm weigh anchor, presumably someone on board made fast the line from Stamm's boat. Does that count as well?

The principle of no assistance is what makes the Vendee Globe the ultimate round the world race. But these small acts for the safety of a vessel, which make no advantage for a skipper, are a real conundrum and maybe should weighed up again.

Set that beside the oddity that the rules allow any amount of technical information, photos, diagrams and documentation to be sent to skippers about how to make repairs. Sometimes they are talked through stage by stage by their shore teams. That's not as much, or more, a form of assistance?

Stamm will probably appeal, and good luck to him. If he doesn't win, I hope he'll carry on racing, overhaul some of those in front, and be treated to a hero's welcome and a moral victory in Les Sables d'Olonne.

* One of the stronger comments from readers on the Vendee Globe site (along with many who are amazed the the official site has stopped tracking Stamm):

"Let us look at the facts: They get him for having "material contact with another ship". The way I have understood the facts found, Stamm was moored off the stern of the Professeur Khoromov. Ergo no material contact. Mooring is allowed according to NOR 3.2. That leaves the fact that a person not immediately repelled from Cheminees Poujoulat, due to Stamms evaluation of the situation, heaves a line to another person. Gotcha! Hmmmm...wait a minute.

The guy on the foredeck of Cheminees Poujoulat was under his captains orders, as was the guy who received the line. Acting under orders constituted by maritime law. Bernhard Stamm did not throw the line to a outside person. He was briefly intruded upon by an action dictated by international maritime law. The jury can, with their hands firmly planted upon the rules declare Bernhard Stamm back in the race without even handing out a penalty."

Another Record Broken - 30 Entries By End Of Year
The RORC Caribbean 600 continues to defy the financial crisis with a record fleet expected on the start line when the fifth edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 kicks off on February 18th 2013. With the northern hemisphere in the grip of winter, racing 600 miles around 11 Caribbean islands in warm trade winds and surfing in ocean swell is proving to be very appealing.

"We had 30 confirmed entries at the end of 2012 which is twice as many entries as we had the same time last year," confirmed RORC Racing Manager, Nick Elliott. "It is encouraging to see that the race has captured the imagination of all sizes of yachts with a significant number of entries from yachts less than 50ft as well as much larger yachts, including superyachts, which you would expect to see in the Caribbean. Antigua Yacht Club will be hosting the event once again and since our last race, the club has made many improvements to shore side facilities for yacht crews. All in all, the fifth edition of the race looks all set to be a fantastic event."

Last year's Line Honours victory went to the magnificent 216ft carbon ketch Hetairos, in a time of 2 days 2 hours 39 minutes 32 seconds. Of the current confirmed entries for 2013, the 100ft Farr Maxi ICAP Leopard is the hot favourite to be the first monohull to finish the course.

"We didn't compete last year because Leopard was undergoing a major refit," commented ICAP Leopard's owner, Mike Slade. "Even though we have added a couple of tons with a full interior, Leopard has lost none of her pace. In 2011, we completed the course quicker than Hetairos in 2012 and Leopard has just demolished the IMA Transatlantic Race record, which was set by Hetairos. We know that we are in fine form for the RORC Caribbean 600. George David's Rambler 100 holds the outright course record and that will be very tough to beat, but ICAP Leopard will be giving it their all, as always."

Team NZ To Boycott Pre-Cup Regattas
Team New Zealand will boycott most of next year's America's Cup pre-regattas as the team believes it will be a distraction from the main event.

In what is certain to create further tension between Grant Dalton and Oracle chief executive Sir Russell Coutts, the mastermind behind the new-look event, the Kiwi team will instead concentrate on their AC72 programme.

Three America's Cup World Series events, which are sailed in the scaled down AC45 catamarans, are scheduled for next year - one in Naples in April, and two in an as yet unconfirmed venue in the United States, believed to be New York.

Emirates Team New Zealand have decided to bypass these events as Dalton believes they are an unnecessary distraction when they should be focusing on sailing their AC72.

After launching their first AC72 in July, Team New Zealand's performances in the ACWS events dropped away as the team struggled to balance their testing and development programme in the AC72 with staying race-sharp in the smaller boat.

Under the protocols governing the next America's Cup, Team New Zealand are required to take part in the pre-regattas but Dalton has a plan to circumvent the rules - he will send their youth team, led by Olympic silver medallist Peter Burling.

Under the original plans for the America's Cup, the teams were only supposed to compete in the AC45s up until July this year, with the 2012-13 ACWS to be raced in the AC72s.

But with only three teams signed to challenge Oracle for the Auld Mug, the field for the world series events would be significantly reduced, not to mention only one team - Team New Zealand - had launched their AC72 by August, and they weren't even close to being ready to race it at that time.

By April, however, the teams should be ready to race their larger cats, but organisers have decided to stick with the AC45s. -- Dana Johannsen

Oyster World Rally Starts 6th January
Photo by Louay Habib. Click on image to enlarge.

Oyster Rally 27 magnificent examples of the Oyster range will take part in the first ever Oyster World Rally. With the fleet hailing from Canada, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States, the rally is a truly international event. Nelson's Dockyard has become the 'Oyster village' as the participants, backed by the Oyster Support Team, help each other to make ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

Alan Du Toit's brand new Oyster 575, Legend IV will be taking part, this is not the first time Jean and Alan Du Toit have sailed around the world but the Oyster World Rally will be a totally different experience for the South African couple.

"This circumnavigation is a world apart from our trip back in the 80s. The support from Oyster to get the yacht ready has been exceptional and the information supplied is really useful. What we are really looking forward to is visiting some of the wonderful locations that we couldn't visit 25 years ago. Back then there were many places you couldn't enter legally on a South African passport and we had to sneak in and out of a few islands. This adventure is going to be much more comfortable and far better organised, which gives us great peace of mind."

The Oyster World Rally will visit 31 destinations during the circumnavigation. After passing through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific. The Galapagos Islands, Marquesas, Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea are the first ports of call.

From the Pacific the fleet will head to the Great Barrier Reef, round the top of Australia, partying in Bali and heading west for Cape Town for Christmas and on to Brazil for carnival, before joining up for a final grand party with the Oyster Caribbean Regatta in April 2014.

The Oyster World Rally starts in Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua on Sunday 6 January 2013. For more information:

Let's Dare To Be Radical
Volvo Ocean Race chief executive Knut Frostad has taken a frank look back at the last edition which finished in July and spoken candidly about his aims for 2013 and beyond in a special New Year's Day interview.

Q: In mid-2012 you announced in Lorient the fundamental switch to a one-design boat model. Six months on, how confident are you that the Race made the right decision with this?

A: I knew this was a bold decision but from the moment we made it, the reactions and feedback I have had from exciting potential teams, the sailors and in particular the sponsors, have been 100% positive.

In fact the more we get into the project the more it makes sense. That said, the project is also complex and demanding on our organisation as we now have added a whole new dimension and area to our team. There is a lot more to it than what was obvious to us when we started.

No one has ever created a true one-design class in high performance offshore racing before and I know why. It is not easy and it is a huge undertaking both financially and in terms of resources to make it all happen on time while working to the smallest possible tolerances.

But we are on track to achieve a great result and I can't wait to see the first boat out of the yard in the end of June 2013...

... Sailing is a beautiful sport, it is dramatic, it is a something so unique and different that I'm confident there is a good place for it going forward. That said, it is also a conservative sport and we must dare to be radical to evolve. It's not enough today to compare yourself to any other sport. You really need to study what people do watch on their iPads or on their TVs and ask yourself what you need to bring yourselves to the fore.

If sailing can make one big change in 2013 it would be to start working on how to tell its stories better for the fans watching.

Full interview at

Porsche King Of The Derwent
Photo by Peter Campbell. Click on image for photo gallery.

Porsche King Of The Derwent The Farr 40 class yacht Voodoo Chile today missed out on line honours in Hobart's iconic annual round-the-buoys keelboat race, the Porsche King of the Derwent, by just 17 seconds, but the skipper and crew were well and truly compensated by winning the major trophy, the King of the Derwent, and also taking out the elite Farr 40 division.

In a thrilling finish at the end of a long and, at times, frustrating day, the ocean racing yacht The Fork in the Road got through the lead on the final leg to beat Voodoo Chile, one of Hobart's fastest harbour racing boats.

However, on corrected time under IRC scoring, Voodoo Chile won the King of the Derwent by 63 seconds.

With co-owner Lloyd Clark on the helm, the crew of Voodoo Chile sailed a brilliant race to lead almost throughout the 20 nautical mile, although the lead changed several time in a day of most frustrating breeze.

Voodoo Chile's performance augers well for its prospects in the Aberdeen Asset Management Tasmanian championship for the Farr 40s to be sailed over the weekend when the local fleet of five boats are joined by four Farr 40s from Sydney, including top international performers Transfusion and Estate Master.

The Porsche King of the Derwent was decided on IRC handicaps, with second and third places overall going two yachts that had contested the Melbourne to Hobart ocean race.

Second overall went to Alan Trebilcock's Bandit, third to Wicked (Michael Welsh).

The King of the Derwent attracted entries from all three ocean races that finished in Hobart, the Melbourne to Hobart, Sydney Hobart and Launceston Hobart. -- Peter Campbell

2012 RC44 Championship Tour eBook
The RC44 class have for the first time created an eBook documenting the 2012 Championship Tour. The eBook is now available to be downloaded now from the iBook store.

To download from iBooks

To download for a PC

The publication celebrates the very best of the RC44 Championship Tour 2012.

Stunning photography and video highlights capture the high performance one-design class, in what has to be, one of the most competitive seasons the fleet has ever seen.

Young Tassie Women Collect Third Australian Mirror Nationals
Young Tasmanian medical students and champions sailors, Jessie Atherton and Katherine Maher, today won their third Australian championship in the International Mirror Dinghy class in a nail-biting last year against Victorian mother and son team, Anita Scott-Murphy and Ben Cruse.

Just one point separated the Tasmanians, sailing Kamikazi, and the Victorians in Bob, going into today's windswept final race in Montrose Bay on the upper reaches of Hobart's River Derwent. At the end of the race, the margin was still one point.

The Tasmanian crew, from Kingston Beach Sailing Club, south of Hobart, have been sailing a Mirror together for seven years and in that time have now won three National and six Tasmanian titles as well as finishing second all-women crew at the World championship in Albany, WA, two seasons ago.

The Frank Buxton Trophy for best placed parent and child crew went to Anita Scott Murphy and Ben Cruse), the Veterans Trophy to (skipper over 45) to Simon and Sidona Barwood), the Norm Deane Masters Trophy to Ken Barnes and Alex Kingsley, the Junior (under 16 crew) Trophy for the West Australians Ethan Prieto-Low and James Stout) and the Youth Trophy to Max Davey and Joseph Thomson. -- Peter Campbell

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 Eddie Mays: Bernard's disqualification is legally right, morally wrong and I believe not in the spirit of the Vendee Globe

* From Michael Knox-Johnston: The decision by the international judges of the infringement by Bernard Stamm is overstated and unfair. The race officials will understand how dangerous this race can be and that the preservation of your yacht and safe sailing must be the prime reason for any skipper to take on this race. The decision has made this race even more dangerous and may well bring this race into disrepute, which would be a tragedy.

I sincerely hope that common sense will prevail, god knows what Bernard Stamm is going through as he battles his way across the most difficult ocean in the world.

I was in La Sable at the start on Suhaili, these are great yachtsmen, but decisions like this will encourage other sensible yachtsmen not to enter in the future.

Bernard good luck , I am indeed very sorry that "the rules are rules culture" may well blight this race forever.

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The Last Word
In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity. -- Hunter S. Thompson

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