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Bunch Up In Poole Bay
Photo by Christophe Launay, Click on image for photo gallery.

Fastnet Off Cowes, the rain stopped and the sun came out for today's start of the world's largest offshore race, the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial Rolex Fastnet Race. In the end, 335 boats set sail for Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock off south-west Ireland, with 292 racing for overall honours under IRC rating and a further 43 non-IRC boats.

As is tradition, the start was upwind into a West-South Westerly that for the first starts was around 10 knots, but slowly built to 15 as the sea breeze developed.

First away were the Multihulls, including the world's two fastest trimarans, Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard's 40m long, Spindrift 2, and Armel le Cleac'h's 31.5m, Banque Populaire, with the latter very late starting. Meanwhile the Sidney Gavignet-skippered, Oman Air-Musandam, was charging along up the mainland shore. Four hours in and Gavignet's team had managed to fend off the two larger trimarans as well as the new 80ft, Prince de Bretagne, trimaran campaigned by double Route du Rhum winner Lionel Lemonchois.

Among the IMOCA 60s it was fellow Vendee Globe winners François Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux aboard the former's, MACIF, that nailed the start line to perfection.

The third group away were the Class40s and Figaros. The Spanish team on the brand new Marcellino Botin-designed Tales II, skippered by Botin brother Gonzalo, also benefitted from heading down the mainland shore of the Solent and at 1600 BST was neck and neck for the lead with the Anglo-American couple Dan Dytch and Emma Creighton on Momentum Ocean Racing, both boats just off Swanage.

The IRC classes set off from Cowes with the smallest first, the boats in IRC Four bunching up at the favoured mainland end of the line. At 1600 they too were in the middle of Poole Bay with the French JPK 10.10, Alkaid III, of Gerard Quenot leading the charge inshore, while another French JPK 10.10, Leon, of Jacques Pelletier was in front of the offshore group.

Having started 10 minutes after them, the IRC Three fleet was in the process of overtaking IRC Four. Ian Kirkpatrick's X-37, Fatjax, was ahead in the inshore group with the J/109 sisterships, Kevin Armstrong's Jazzy Jellyfish and Stephen Morris' Jambol, front-runners among those offshore.

Again in IRC Two, the bulk of the fleet was sticking to the shortest course further inshore.

The bigger boats in IRC One were also pulling ahead of the smaller, slower boats with overall Season Points Championship leader Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, out in front, also on the direct route, close to Swanage. In this class the in shore boats are clearly doing better than those offshore, where the Clipper 68, Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, is ahead.

The IRC Zero boats have already overhauled the smaller boats and, as expected, the 72ft Mini Maxis American Hap Fauth's Bella Mente and Niklas Zennstrom's Ran 2 are locked in their own private match race, hugging the coast off Swanage. The Volvo Ocean 60, Team Heiner One, is on a flier offshore. Prior to leaving the Solent, there was disaster in IRC Zero for the brand new Botin 65, Caro, which went hard aground on Salt Mead Ledge.

Among the canting keel boats, the 100 footer Esimit Europa 2 is ahead, but not that far in front of Mike Slade's similarly long, but substantially heavier ICAP Leopard, both having just passed St Alban's Head. In the inter-Volvo 70 fight it is the Ian Walker-skippered Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing that is ahead of the (mostly) female crew on Team SCA.

This evening, the crews are expecting the wind to veer increasingly into the north-west putting them on to a starboard tack-favoured beat down the south coast of the UK.


Luna Rossa Challenge To Meet Emirates Team New Zealand In Louis Vuitton Cup Final
Luna Rossa wins semi finals. Photo by LUNA ROSSA / Studio Borlenghi / Borlenghi-Butto. Click on image for photo gallery.

Louis Vuitton Cup Final San Francisco, California, USA: Italy's Luna Rossa Challenge booked a match against Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton Cup Final when it completed a 4-0 sweep of Artemis Racing in the semifinal round of the America's Cup Challenger Series.

The Italian team, led by skipper Max Sirena and helmsman Chris Draper, has lifted its game since the start of racing and now gets to meet its one-time training partner in the 30th anniversary Louis Vuitton Cup.

"I'm hugely proud of our team, it's been a terrible period," said Artemis Racing skipper Iain Percy. "First and foremost at this moment, my thoughts go to my teammates and to 'Bart' and his family. He would've been so proud of us, considering this is something that none of us thought we'd be able to do two months ago when we lost him. We've enjoyed every second because we knew what an achievement it was just to be out here."

Facing elimination, Artemis Racing helmsman Nathan Outteridge took the action to Draper in the pre-start. Outteridge got a leeward hook on Draper and luffed him away into a tack. Draper tacked back to starboard with Outteridge still to his left.

Artemis Racing was penalized for a port-starboard incident when its starboard bow touched Luna Rossa's port hull, although it appeared that Outteridge had his helm all the way to port trying to maneuver away.

Artemis Racing received two more penalties during the race, both for crossing outside the course boundary, and Luna Rossa was never really threatened the rest of the race.

The Louis Vuitton Cup Final begins next Saturday, Aug. 17, with two races planned.

Canfield Wins Chicago Match Cup In Comeback Victory
Chicago, USA: Taylor Canfield and USone bounced back from 0-2 to take a last-gasp victory at the Chicago Match Cup today. Representing the US Virgin Islands but also a hometown favorite as race director of the Chicago Match Race Center, the crowd of spectators went silent with tension as Canfield and USone's Tom 28 keelboat rumbled towards the finish line of the final match, little more than a boatlength ahead of Keith Swinton and Black Swan Racing from Australia.

Then the crowd on Navy Pier erupted into whoops and cheers as USone took their third consecutive victory, and with it the winning paycheck of $25,000 from a total prize fund of $100,000, the biggest prize money in American sailing. Canfield offered the perfect riposte to his early exit from Stena Match Cup Sweden a month earlier, his victory in Chicago rocketing him up the leaderboard on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. Bjorn Hansen's eWork Sailing Team also won an important victory in taking the final match of the Petit Final against reigning Tour World Champion, Ian Williams and GAC Pindar.

The final match was less dramatic, with no torn sails or crashing dial-downs, just smooth execution by Canfield and his team to take the early lead and extend, bring it to 3-2 and the title win for the event.

The Petit Final was an intriguing hors d'oeuvre to the main action, and as in the Final, the Swedes managed to come back from behind to beat the Brits.

The Finals today was the closing act of a five-day celebration of sail that included Tall Ships Chicago, where 14 tall ships from around the US helped draw in even more crowds to the world-famous Navy Pier, Chicago's most popular tourist attraction.

To watch re-runs, visit:

Chicago Match Cup, Stage 4, Alpari World Match Racing Tour - Final Results

1. Taylor Canfield, USone, ISV
2. Keith Swinton, Black Swan Racing, AUS
3. Bjorn Hansen, eWork Sailing Team, SWE
4. Ian Williams, GAC Pindar, GBR
5. Pierre Antoine Morvan, Vannes Aggio, FRA
6. Phil Robertson, WAKA Racing, NZL
7. Adam Minoprio, Team Alpari FX, NZL
8. William Tiller, Full Metal Jacket, NZL
9. Johnie Berntsson, Stena Sailing Team, SWE
10. Gavin Brady, Team Vesper, USA
11. Don Wilson, Chicago Match Race, USA
12. Jordan Reece, Estate Master, AUS

Alegre 3 Looks Good with Ocean Safety Ultralite Liferafts
Ocean Safety 72ft mini-maxi racer Alegre 3, designed by Mark Mills, has just won Class 0 in the Copa del Rey MAPFRE as she conquers her way through the Mediterranean season.

Alegre 3, immaculate in every detail of preparation to achieve optimum performance,does not compromise to safety. Therefore its a natural choice for Alegre 3 to use the Ocean Safety Ultralite liferaft. In fact barely noticeable and yet right where you need them on deck are a pair of lo-profile carbon fibre cases containing two Ultralite liferafts.

Equipping with the Ultralites puts Alegre 3 in a club of pedigree racers along with the likes of Wild Oats which was carrying two of Ocean Safety's superlite liferafts when she stormed across the Sydney Hobart Race finish line to break the record in December.

She wasn't the only yacht carrying Ultralites at the front of the fleet. Mini-maxi Jethou, a close second in the event, also carries Ultralites.

The Ultralites are designed specifically for grand prix racing yachts. Shaving weight from every extra kilo saved can count when it comes to finish line position. The Ocean UltraLite Liferaft uses carbon composite technology to achieve an amazing 30% weight reduction compared to standard ISO liferafts.

Third Consecutive Lysekil Victory for Ulrikkeholm
By securing her third successive victory in Lysekil Women's Match, Camilla Ulrikkeholm will further strengthen her top position on the ISAF match racing world ranking. In the Lysekil finale the Dane beat Lucy Macgregor with a 3 - 1 score, but the British team still takes the Terry J Kohler Perpetual Trophy for the inaugural Women's International Match Racing Series.

Local sailor Anna Kjellberg defeated French Olympian Claire Leroy 2 - 1 in the petit finale, taking not only third place in Lysekil Women's Match, but also the WIMR Series' runner-up position.

Camilla Ulrikkeholm and her team of the Royal Danish Yacht Club in Skovshoved had an extremely joyful Saturday on the beautiful Swedish west coast, first defeating Claire Leroy 3 - 1 in their semi finals, then repeating the score after a couple of really exciting matches against Lucy Macgregor in the finale.

Results in the final of Lysekil Women's Match 2013:
Camilla Ulrikkeholm, DEN - Lucy Macgregor, GBR 3 - 1

Results in the petit final of Lysekil Women's Match 2013:
Claire Leroy, FRA - Anna Kjellberg, SWE 1 - 2

Results in the semi finals of Lysekil Women's Match 2013:
Claire Leroy, FRA - Camilla Ulrikkeholm, DEN 1 - 3
Anna Kjellberg, SWE - Lucy Macgregor, GBR 1 - 3

Three New ORC Europeans Champions Crowned
Sandhamn, Sweden: After a long week that featured everything from near-drifting conditions on Thursday to the brisk breezes of yesterday and Tuesday night, three class winners have emerged from at the Avantime ORC European Championship, held at the Royal Swedish YC (KSSS). The fleet of 60 boats from 8 countries was the largest ORC European Championship fleet assembled in a decade.

The champion among the ten teams competing in Class 1 took the lead early and never let go, even amassing enough of a lead in points to not sail the last race and use the resulting 11 point DNS as their discard. This would seem like a remarkable result, given that this team only added their tactician to the crew on the morning of the first race, but Thomas Nilsson said the true value of their Norwegian TP52 Trucknor Wolfpack is their strong team work.

"We have been racing together as a team for many years, not only on this boat but on an X-41 as well," said Nilsson. When Eivind [Melleby] came on board he fit in very well, and I have to say it was the team that drove his decisions, not the other way around."

The Corinthian division winner for Class 1 was Toni Hellman's 7th-placed Finnish Farr 40 Mare Bos.

In Class 2 the fight was on throughout the event for the 20 teams entered in this class, and would likely have had a different result were it not for the eventual Silver medalist having had a disastrous DSQ penalty in yesterday's second race due to a rule infraction at a crowded mark rounding. This left the door open for Bengt Falkenberg's Swedish First 40 Teknova/Albatross Racing to take their Gold medal victory, but by only a 3-point margin due to being recalled in the start of the last race and getting back to only a discardable 15th place.

The Corinthian Trophy winner for Class 2 was 4th-placed Silva Hispaniola from Germany, an Evento 42 skippered by Dennis Gehrlein, and winner of three of the nine races in this class.

The largest class in this event, the 30 boats in Class 3, provided some of the closest and most exciting racing, with multiple general recalls and black flag starts, close boat-on-boat action at the marks, and corrected time results decided within seconds to create final podium results within only 2.5 points.

Mihkel Kosk's Estonian team on his NM38 Sugar 2 won their Gold medals based on an impressive scorecard going into today, earning all single-digit results up until today's final race. Even with a discardable 22nd place in this race it was still enough to keep them ahead of the Silver medalists, fellow Estonian Aivar Tuulberg's Arcona 340 Katarina II, by only 2 points.

The Corinthian Trophy winner in Class 3 was also awarded to Team Arken Zoo.

Australia and Brazil Win Nations Cup in Denmark
Click on image to enlarge.

Nations Cup Brazil's women won a thrilling seventh edition of the ISAF Nations Cup final in Middelfart on Saturday an hour after Australia's men had also upset the form book and the home favourites by whitewashing Denmark.

In the Open event, Australia's men won 3-0 against the dominant Denmark team, who had only lost two matches all week and had looked unstoppable. It is the first time Australia has won the Nations Cup.

David Gilmour, the 22-year-old skipper, and his crew: Ed Powys, tactician; Luke Payne, pit, Pete Nicholas and Alistair Marchesi, bow, were unstoppable.

Middelfart, with the whole Triangle Region and Little Belt rallying behind it, has shown what a centre of excellence for match racing it is. It is one of a sequence of international events which have underlined how the sometimes opaque sport of sailing can be made fun and intelligible for sailors and spectators alike. During the event Sport Event Denmark reiterated that they are considering bidding for the 2018 ISAF World Championships.

"Denmark has a long-standing tradition for sailing and Danish clubs find it cool to stage all kinds of sailing races, including international events," Lars Lundov, CEO of Sport Event Denmark, said. "The many skilled volunteers in the clubs help to ensure that the major international sailing events in Denmark are well-planned and staged, both from a professional and a financial point of view. We, as the Danish national event organisation, are proud of the great events in the domestic sailing community and we are impressed by the skills and readiness to innovate. We are considering a Danish bid for ISAF Worlds 2018".

Full results:

Neilpryde UK Laser Nationals
Jon Emmett, Radial Champion. Photo by Mike Rice, Click on image to enlarge.

UK Laser Nationals This year's championships were held at Paignton S.C. between the 3rd & 9th August and were sponsored by NeilPryde, Harken UK & Nutshellaw (Solicitors). The regatta combined both the National (Home Countries only) & Open Titles. This year's international entries included three 2012 Olympians; Gustavo Lima (Portugal), Jee-min Ha (South Korea) and New Zealand's Susannah Pyatt as well as a strong contingent from Ireland.

In the Standard fleet the overall winner, Portugal's Gustavo Lima, was also the Open Champion. He won six of the 11 races sailed and it was only when he was black flagged in Race 10 did it seem there might be a slight wobble in his performance.

It was a similar situation in the Laser 4.7 fleet where Lithuania's 16 year old Romas Ovcinnikov was unstoppable reeling off seven wins and two 2nd places to secure the Open title with a day to spare. Behind him a group of 14 year olds fought for the National title. Ross Banham proved to just have the edge over George Ford & William Bedford.

With 127 entries the Radial fleet sailed a qualifying series in two groups for the first four days. The groups were re-assigned each day depending on their overall standings at the end of each day's racing. In the Yellow Group John Booth sailed extremely well to record five wins and a 3rd in his qualifying series. Equally impressive in the Blue Group Jon Emmett's scoreline was four wins and two 2nds. This meant that they ended the first four days tied on points and went into the final Gold series never having raced against each other.

Emmett edged Thursday's results (2, 1) against Booth's (1, 3) and so Friday's two races were critical. In the first Emmett sailed very well to take the gun whilst Booth finished 4th. In the final start sequence Emmett used match racing tactics to sail Booth into oblivion before escaping from the pack to win both the race and the title. Ireland's Patrick Cahill looked set to win the Silver fleet when he won both Thursday's races but poor mid-fleet results on Friday dropped him to 4th overall and the title went to Hugh Braidwood. -- Eddie Mays

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