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Around The World In (Under) 80 Days
The forecast for the finish keeps changing with the evolution of the Azores High ahead of the Vendee Globe leaders, but one thing seems certain, barring multiple failures in all of the first four boats, the record will be broken.

On Monday it looked like a January 26 and a 77-day finish, on Tuesday the long range forecast and routing suggested it might be January 27 or 28.

There are four boats who are likely to break the 84-day mark and all may even be able to claim that they went around the world alone in 80 days - although Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) would need a fast finish

The last skipper in 2008-9 finished more than 42 days after Desjoyeaux, in 2004-05 the gap was 38 days; in 2000-01, 64 days; in 1996-97, 34 days; in 1992-93, 43; and in 1989-90, 53 days. This time Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) should finish within 20 days of the winner.

There are places the race could have been faster - not least in the first two weeks, when they did not break the record to the Equator, the only major mark (Jean Le Cam's 10 days 11 hours and 28 minutes from 2004-05) not rewritten by this race. But [Race Directtor Denis] Horeau does not the think the positioning of the ice gates has slowed them down this time.

"In 2008 we kept them up in the Pacific (because of icebergs) and this time we did it in the Indian Ocean," Horeau said.

Rankings as of Tuesday 15 January 2013, 20h00 (FR)

1. MACIF, Francois Gabart, 3135.7 to finish
2. Banque Populaire, Armel Le Cleac'h, 191.2 nm
3. Virbac Paprec 3, Jean-Pierre Dick, 630.9 nm
4. HUGO BOSS, Alex Thomson, 875.9 nm
5. SynerCiel, Jean Le Cam, 1979.6 nm
6. Gamesa, Mike Golding, 2086.6 nm
7. ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered, Javier Sanso, 2269.8 nm
8. Mirabaud, Dominique Wavre, 2355.2 nm
9. AKENA Vérandas, Arnaud Boissieres, 2425.1 nm
10. Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM Projets, Bertrand de Broc, 3627.1 nm

vendeeglobe.org

Sir Ben Ainslie Crowned 2012 YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman Of The Year
Lady Pippa Blake and Bob Fisher, Chairman of the YJA, present Sir Ben Ainslie with the YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year trophy. Photo by Barry Pickthall/PPL. Click on image to enlarge.

Pantaenius Yachtsman Of The Year Sir Ben Ainslie proved beyond doubt today that he is the supreme yachtsman of our time when he capped a challenging sailing year by being named the British Yachtsman of the Year, for an unprecedented sixth time.

The title, awarded by the Yachting Journalists' Association in association with yacht insurers Pantaenius UK, caps his 2012 honours. His successes peaked with winning his fourth Olympic gold medal at Weymouth and Portland in the London 2012 Olympics, becoming ISAF world sailing champion, and receiving a knighthood in recognition of his services to sailing in the New Year's Honours.

Ben flew to San Francisco hours before the announcement to join the Oracle Team USA, the defender of the America's Cup. He is also preparing for the next America's Cup World Series regatta at Naples in April with his J P Morgan/Ben Ainslie Racing Team. YJA chairman Bob Fisher and Lady Pippa Blake, who was to present the award, caught up with him just before leaving, at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. However, he joined the awards luncheon and ceremony at Trinity House in London today via a live television link from the team's base in California.

Members of the Yachting Journalists' Association voted him as the yachtsman most deserving the title in the closest of ballots, narrowly ahead of finalists - Paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas MBE, a member of the Royal Southampton Yacht Club, and the four times match racing world champion Ian Williams, also from Lymington.

At Trinity House, the YJA also made a Special Award to David Howlett, MBE, the Olympic team coach, for his outstanding dedication to improving the performance of many of Britain's top sailors for many years. It also posthumously presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to Henry Strzelecki MBE, founder of Henri Lloyd, who died on Boxing Day. The award was received by his son Paul, the joint chief executive of Henri-Lloyd.

The associated YJA/Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year was announced on preview day of the Tullet Prebon London Boat Show. The winner is windsurfer Saskia Sills, aged 16, from Launceston, Cornwall. -- Barry Pickthall

www.yja.co.uk

New Season Heralds New Tour Card Holder Selection Process
London, UK: Preparations for the 2013 Alpari World Match Racing Tour, which kicks off in May at Match Race Germany, are gathering apace with the selection process for the list of 2013 Tour Card Holders. The deadline for all applications is 24 February 2013 with the final list set to be unveiled in less than eight weeks.

This year the Tour has introduced a number of changes to the invite policy, including the decision to guarantee all eight Tour Card Holders invitations to all scheduled events prior to the Monson Cup, the final event of the series. In return, each Tour Card Holder has a commitment to attend a minimum of five Tour events.

Teams making bids will be notified whether they have been successful at the end of February. The Tour management bases its selection on a set criteria including: current or past Tour or ISAF ranking, recent achievements across other sailing disciplines, media awareness and PR plans, and the team's logistical and financial commitment to the 2013 season.

Current World Champion Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar, together with Björn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team and Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively in 2012 are each guaranteed Tour Cards for 2013. A further 20 teams have expressed interested in contending for the remaining five places making this year the most tightly contested selection process.

As well as a combined prize purse across the series of USD$1.25million, the Tour will also award a Bonus Pool of USD$500,000 in 2013 which will be divided between the Tour Card Holders. The amount that each Card Holder receives depends on their final Tour standing. 

Tour Director, Craig Mitchell, said: "We appreciate that the Tour Card Holders are our biggest asset and the rigorous selection process ensures the Tour features the best of the best in tight, closely fought match races at every event. That's what sailing fans come to watch."

wmrt.com

Marinepool Revolution Nx Racing Top - Introducing A New Generation Of Sailing Clothing
Marine Pool What if there was a sailing top light weight like a shirt, super comfortable, made from highly flexible fabric, waterproof like the best offshore sailing gear and more breathable than anything you have ever seen or worn?

Impossible? Too good to be true? Well, not any longer!

The new Revolution NX top by Marinepool combines all the above mentioned highly regarded qualities in one new revolutionary garment with Dermizax NX technology. This high-tech and high-end racing top is one of the stars in the Marinepool 2013 collection. The Marinepool design team and Toray, the producers of the Dermizax NX fabrics have been working behind the scenes to bring this new product to market, while the world class athletes on the Marinepool Racing Team put the gear through a thorough testing programme.

Their feedback was inspiring the name of this racing top: Revolutionary!

Never before has a racing top ticked off the boxes like Revolution NX with unrivaled comfort, ease of movement and a breathability at 30,000g/m2/24h - 50% higher than any other product in our comprehensive product range. 

Athletes who turn every stone to reduce weight and who always are in pursuit of a competitive advantage will look no further: Revolution NX

Visit us at "boot" Düsseldorf from Jan. 19th to 27th and experience the new 2013 collection. Learn about new innovative products and our 2013 partners and projects, in a Press Conference on Jan. 20, 1pm, Marinepool Stand, Hall 11, H41. Meet leading figures from the world of sailing and business like Mark Turner (OC Sport, Extreme Sailing Series), David Graham (Oman Sail), Oliver Schwall (Sailing Team Germany) and many more.

www.marinepool.com

Matt Whitnall Wins Prince Philip Cup
Photo by Andrea Francolini, www.afrancolini.com. Click on image to enlarge.

Prince Philip Cup Squadron member Matt Whitnall has helmed Akula to a dominating victory in the prestigious Prince Cup 2013, sailed on Botany Bay last week with a fleet of 26 International Dragons from New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Matt's consistent performance was to the point he did not need to sail on Friday - which was a good thing as his toddler son had covered the house in honey and Matt spent the day cleaning up ...so much for glory!

Matt and his crew of of Rob Bishop and Christian Brook, the Squadron Club Captain, sailed a near faultless series, notching up four wins, a second and a third to finish with a net 17.4 points under the old Olympic scoring sytem.

It gave Akula a huge winning margin from runner-up Whimsical, helmed by Gordon Ingate, in itself a remarkable effort by the octergenarian yachtsman, a past Prince Philip Cup, America's Cup, Admiral's Cup and Olympic yachtsman. Whimsical, with Gordon's crew comprising David Giles and Bruce Hollis, won race six of the regatta and finished with 35.0 points.

A close third overall, on 35.4 points, was Sidewinder, helmed by another past Olympian, Carl Ryves, along with Dick Sargent, his co-Olympian in the Flying Dutchman class, Kevin Burman and Lindsey Burman.

The regatta was a huge success with no days lost. In fact, only one race was delayed in either the seven races of the Prince Phillip Cup or the Archie Robertson Memorial lead up three races. The interstate view was that Botany Bay is among Australia's leading race courses with true breezes, no power boat or Ferry traffic and the ability to run long windward legs of around 2nm. -- Anthony Armstrong / Peter Campbell

Spinnaker Tales
Friendly Mooloolaba Ocean racing sailors Rod Jones and Rob Lea will become serious rivals when they contest the annual Queensland Cruising Yacht Club Surf to City race over the Southport to Sandgate course on Saturday.

According to the forecast the high standard fleet including the Rod Jones skippered AUDI sponsored Alegria V and the Rob Lea helmed AUDI Sunshine Coast Young Guns have missed the chance to enjoy a fast spinnaker ride along the ocean beaches of Stradbroke and Moreton Islands.

The Weather bureau have predicted the moderate to fresh Southerly trade winds which peaked at 44 knots last Tuesday to be replaced by slower and softer head wind sailing into Northerly sea breeze.

However this is not expected to alter the match race between the blue water racing debutants manning the deck of the smaller AUDI Sunshine Coast Young Guns and the more experienced Alegria V crew.

Skipper Rob Lea the principal sailing instructor of the Mooloolaba based Sunshine Coast Sailing Academy has trained his young crew of Ocean racing students to be physically and mentally prepared to face a tough grind while the experienced crew racing under the dual Audi Australian championship winning helmsman Rod Jones remain as the combination to beat for IRC handicap honours.

They understand the value from making all the right decisions with the breeze that blows over the deck in their bid to master the match race for overall line honours against the equally impressive Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron sloop the Tam Faragher skippered Kerumba. Both crews who are listed among the top chances when the similar battle lines are set for honours in the 308 nautical mile Qantaslink Brisbane to Gladstone race over the Easter weekend are expected to share the same sea space when the duel for the first to finish trophy this weekend.

There will be some important sailing notes recorded by the Alegria V sailing team as this race involves the start of a long campaign during 2013 which includes the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

Besides being faced with the challenge to beat Kerumba skipper Rod Jones and his talented crew will need to prove they are on the pace to finish ahead of the smaller Black Jack Too and the Roland Dane owned and Michael Spies skippered Jessandra 11

Peter Harburg's Black Jack crew headed by skipper Mark Bradford winners of the ORC1 division in the Rolex Sydney Hobart race and the 2012 Brisbane to Gladstone blue water classic with the larger maxi chaser Black Jack will be suited to produce a strong performance in the expected forecast including a tough slog against a sea breeze which promises gusts to 18 knots.

Sailing conditions of this nature will also prove to be an ideal education for the 'rookie' ocean racers learning the ropes when the AUDI Sunshine Coast Young Guns crew endure the experience of racing on the open ocean. -- Ian Grant

EFG Bank Sailing Arabia- The Tour 2013
EFG Bank Sailing Arabia- The Tour, the gulf region's only long distance offshore sailing race, confirmed today the participation of Team Delft Challenge- TU Delft from the Netherlands, an experienced crew from the country's most prestigious technical college. The new team joins existing entry Team Messe Frankfurt in providing a substantial student presence at the competition, and providing a role model for the youth across the region.

Team Delft Challenge- TU Delft has previously been a competitor at the world famous Tour de France à la Voile, on which EFG Bank Sailing Arabia- The Tour is modeled.  The team's entry into the gulf competition marks the first time that they have switched allegiance to EFG Bank Sailing Arabia- The Tour, and underlines the growing importance of the event on the international sailing calendar.

EFG Bank Sailing Arabia- The Tour 2013 will launch Feb 10th at Manama, Bahrain, continuing on to Doha, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras al Khaimah, Dibba, Mussanah and crossing the finish line in Muscat on Feb 25th. 

Along the way, the teams will challenge each other over the inter-port legs and in short course racing in selected ports along the route, which include some of the finest watersports facilities in the region and indeed the world.  EFG Bank Sailing Arabia- The Tour is the flagship event of competitive racing in the region and this year's competition, which features two world-famous experienced round the world sailors, an all-female team and some of the best crews on the Farr 30 One Design circuit, is sure to push the event to the next level of competitiveness and provide the inspirations spectacle to inspire the students of the gulf.

www.sailingarabiathetour.com

Short Tacks
Mare Racing Team skipper, Jorg Riechers, will officially register his entry for the Barcelona World Race 2014-2015.

The event will take place on the 21st of January 2013 at 14:00h, at the Düsseldorf International Boat Show (Dusseldorf Exhibition Centre, Press Centre, CCD South), in the presence of skipper Jorg Riechers, Nikolaus Gelpke, CEO  of the Mare-Verlag publishing house and sponsor of the team, and Andor Serra, CEO for the Barcelona Foundation for Ocean Sailing(FNOB)-Barcelona World Race.

During the event more details will be given concerning the racing team, its project and participation in the race, as well as, Mare-Verlag's sponsorship. 

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

2014 SB20 World Championships have been awarded to Yacht Club Hercules in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Championships will run from 5th to 11th September. 

The Yacht Club Hercules organised the finish of the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race and has experience in hosting European championships. Hercules boasts a highly qualified technical staff and secretariat. Further news and developments about Hercules can be followed on their website: http://www.port-hercules.com. 

Ahead of the 2014 World Championships in St. Petersburg, the SB20 Fleet will contest their 2013 World Championships in Hyeres, France from September 7th to the 13th where a fleet of over 100 SB20 boats is expected. 

SB20class.com

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British yachtswoman Dee Caffari, the only woman to have sailed solo non-stop round the world in both directions, has returned to Oman as skipper and advisor to the Women's Sailing Team ahead of the Sailing Arabia - The Tour (SATT) next February. Caffari skippered Al Thuraya's all-female crew in SATT earlier this year and has high hopes for the all-female team, which now has a squad of seven Omani girls, in the next edition the regatta.

In addition to Caffari, the training team includes Olympic sailor Mary Rook, Niall Myant as the keelboat squad coach and Sarah Hornby who has recently joined Oman Sail

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

The Notice of Race for the 2013 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship, the 43rd version of the championship being held in Limassol, Cyprus has been released. Over 300 of the world's top youth sailors are expected to descend on Cyprus from 13-20 July 2013.

The 2013 ISAF Youth Worlds will see the Championship shortened from ten to eight days for the first time after a submission to do so was approved at the 2012 ISAF Annual Conference in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.

The reserve day and one other race day have been eliminated meaning the same number of races as previous years, 12, is scheduled for each event in a more compact schedule across five days of racing.

www.isafyouthworlds.com

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 Tim Thornton (ex RORC Rating Office Technical Secretary): Andy Ash-Vie's comments on the poor take up of IRC are interesting, and just show that nothing changes!

Going back a good few years when IOR racing was declining, and the IMS high-tech approach from the States had failed to make any impact in Europe, the idea of Channel Handicap (or IRC, as it has since become) was hatched by Keith Ludlow, and subsequently by Malcolm McDougall and myself, together with our French colleagues.

Up in London, the RORC committee thought that an owner would get a Channel Handicap certificate, enter his Moody or Westerly in RORC races for a season or two, and then "upgrade" to a new boat racing under IOR. Down in the engine room of the Rating Office, we saw it as a means of introducing a fair handicapping scheme for yachts that didn't necessarily want to go to the level of cost and commitment needed by IOR. We even managed to sneak in the dayboats before London realised what we had done, though we failed in our attempt to include multihulls.

Of course, even with the hindrance of a secret rule, the well heeled and committed racing guys entered the fleets, so sailors doing the occasional race have been out-gunned, and no longer want to play.

Is repeating the cycle with another new rule the way to go? Or, to satisfy the majority of sailors, should we separate out or penalise the top end so that they go and play elsewhere? But then I assume that a fair proportion of RORC committee members are the top end sailors alienating the majority, as they were when I was racing regularly. Oops!

* From George Morris: Every year we have a spate of 'boat of the year awards'. The J70 seems to have got the nod in many competitions this year. All very interesting but  the competitions are confined to new boats and next year there will be another and the year after that another. It would be a lot more interesting to know what was the best boat overall including existing boats. Is the J70 any better than the J80? The SB20? The X-boat? The Sonata? My own boat (a Weta) won the Sailing World  boat of the year  award in Annapolis in 2010 and must still be among the fastest and most capable general purpose 14 footers in existence but it will never win another trophy because it is not a new boat. Judging the 'best boat in existence' would be contentious and time consuming, but yachting mags are always looking for stunts - how about it?!

Featured Brokerage
Featured Brokerage Boat 2001 42' Custom Racer. EUR 250,000. Located In Germany.

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Sarnade is more than just a fast racer. Her luxurious interior design provides comfortable cruising with two separate double cabins and a huge forward cabin berth. She offers easy and fast sailing for just a couple as well as for a whole family with children. For a skilled sailor Sarnade is also easily to handle in single-handed racing.

Brokerage through Berkeley Yachts: www.yachtworld.com/berkeleyyachts/

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

The Last Word
Lady Astor: "If you were my husband I'd poison your tea."
Churchill: "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

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