All But Clinched
Ian Walker (GBR) and his Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew all but clinched the 12th edition of offshore sailing's toughest challenge in the early hours of Thursday, when a third place in Leg 8 left them with an eight-point lead in the Volvo Ocean Race with one stage to go.
Only a very unlikely combination of a last-place finish in Leg 9 to Gothenburg from Lorient, France, plus at least two penalty points can deprive the team of a remarkable achievement.
For Walker, 45, it is the realisation of a career ambition to become the first British skipper to win the overall trophy in the 41-year-old event, although John Chittenden won the Cruising Division of the 1989-90 edition won by Sir Peter Blake's Steinlager2.
And it is no less of an extraordinary achievement for the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing project, which only entered the race for the first time in 2011-12 and finished a disappointing fifth. The team and skipper Walker learnt hard lessons.
A pre-race strategy for 2014-15 of a podium finish in each leg has been carried out almost to perfection - they were fifth in Leg 7 - to take them through to a handsome victory.
Their triumph was set up at 0305 UTC/0505 local time on Thursday, when they finished in the final podium position behind fairy-tale Leg 8 winners Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) and runners-up, Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS).
With MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) obligingly sandwiched in fourth between Azzam and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), it was mission all but accomplished for Walker and his ecstatic crew.
"It's not really sunk in yet," said a still dazed Walker. "When we passed the finish line we all went quiet and asked ourselves 'is that it?'
The boats will have a short maintenance period before Sunday's SCA In-Port Race Lorient (June 14) before the fleet set sail for Gothenburg, via a much-awaited pit-stop in The Hague, on Tuesday, June 16.
The Race is anything but over, of course. No less than four boats can still finish runner-up behind Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing with Team Brunel (27 points), Dongfeng Race Team (29), MAPFRE (31) and Team Alvimedica (33) all within six points of each other.
Bravo To Team SCA
Skipper Sam Davies (GBR) and her Team SCA crew struck a resounding blow for women's offshore sailing with the Leg 8 victory.
The comfortable victory was the first leg win for a female crew in offshore sailing's toughest challenge since Tracy Edwards' Maiden clinched two stage wins in Class D of the 1989-90 race.
At least as satisfying for the first all-women's crew to enter the race in 12 years will be the opportunity to silence critics who suggested that they were looking outclassed in the current 12th edition by their experienced male rivals.
True, the Swedish entry has yet to claim a podium place until now, but the crew has clearly improved leg after leg and many observers felt that a breakthrough performance was just around the corner.
The win was certainly no fluke in an upwind leg that tested seamanship to the full with an often heinous sea state and strong winds virtually throughout.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Weymouth & Portland
Photo by onEdition. Click on image for photo gallery.
At the midway stage of the fleet racing, the leaderboards are starting to shake up and give an early indication as to who will come away with the ISAF Sailing World Cup medals, a share of the prize fund as well as an Abu Dhabi Final qualification spot.
Live Medal Races on Sunday - that will be available to view from 11:00 local time here - will bring the competition to a close.
Top Three Overall Results
1. Helena Lucas, GBR, 3 points
2. Antonio Squizzato, ITA, 6
3. Al Mustakim Matrin, MAS, 10
1. Stuart Mcnay / David Hughes, USA, 5
2. Mathew Belcher / William Ryan, AUS, 10
3. Paul Snow-Hansen / Daniel Willcox, NZL, 14
1. Jo Aleh / Polly Powrie, NZL, 4
2. Hannah Mills / Saskia Clark, GBR, 5
3. Tina Mrak / Veronika Macarol, SLO, 8
1. Victor Bergstrom / Victor Vasternas, SWE, 23
2. Marcus Hansen / Josh Porebski, NZL, 26
3. Peter Burling / Blair TUke, NZL, 30
1. Alexandra Maloney / Molly Meech, NZL, 10
2. Martine Soffiatti Grael / Kahena Kunze, BRA, 13
3. Maiken Foght Schutt / Anne-Julie Schutt, DEN, 19
1. Giles Scott, GBR, 4
2. Jonathan Lobert, FRA, 6
3. Josh Junior, NZL, 7
IKA - Open
1. Florian Trittel, ESP, 57
2. Florian Gruber, GER, 57
3. Oliver Bridge, GBR, 52
1. Andy Maloney, NZL, 9
2. Jesper Stalheim, SWE, 13
3. Philipp Buhl, GER, 13
Laser Radial Women
1. Marit Bouwmeester, NED, 3
2. Evi Van Acker, BEL, 9
3. Alison Young, GBR, 10
1. Jason Waterhouse / Lisa Darmanin, AUS, 19
2. Matías Buhler Matias / Nathalie Brugger, SUI, 21
3. Thomas Zajac / Tanja Chiara Frank, AUT, 23
1. Tom Squires, GBR, 10
2. Nick Dempsey, GBR, 11
3. Mattia Camboni, ITA, 16
1. Isobel Hamilton, GBR, 10
2. Bryony Shaw, GBR, 12
3. Flavia Tartaglini, ITA, 12
1. Marco Gualandris / Marta Zanetti, ITA, 4
2. Alexandra Rickham / Niki Birrell, GBR, 4
3. Will Street / Megan Pascoe, GBR, 9
1. Colin Harrison / Jonathan Harris / Russell Boaden, AUS, 4
2. Aleksander Wang-Hansen / Marie Solberg / Per Eugen Kristiansen, NOR, 6
3. Hannah Stodel / John Robertson / Steve Thomas, GBR, 7
Dubarry Crosshaven - Preferred By Professionals
If you had to invent the most punishing ordeal for offshore sailing footwear - an extreme boot camp perhaps? - then it would be a professional, fully-crewed round the world race: thousands of ocean-bashing, boat-trashing miles around the planet. If there's even the slightest imperfection in boat, man or gear, this race will find it, break it, then tell everyone about it.
For most of us, it's the ultimate contest of man and machine against nature. For Dubarry, it's R&D. After supplying its ever-green Shamrock boot to the professional crew of Ireland's Green Dragon entry in a 2008-09 round the world race, Dubarry's most fanatical designers listened, developed, tested, listened some more, tweaked, analysed and tested again. The result was the Crosshaven boot.
When Green Dragon arrived in Galway at the end of leg 7 for the best party the race has ever seen, elbowing their way through the "craic addicts" was Dubarry's research team, wanting yet more feedback. Their finishing touches sealed the Crosshaven's reputation as the offshore professional's boot of choice. Where's the proof of that? Professional teams chose Crosshaven in the 2011-12 and 2014-15 round the world races.
Dubarry Crosshaven - Born at sea
Departure Of Design Chief And Two Sailors Sparks Crisis Meeting For Team New Zealand
Fresh turmoil is engulfing Team New Zealand. Design chief Nick Holroyd has quit and several members of the sailing team have followed him out the door.
Holroyd confirmed to the Herald last night that he had resigned, but was unavailable to talk at length about the reasons for his departure.
Grinders Winston Macfarlane and Derek Saward have also resigned. There are rumours several other members of the team's sailing and shore operations are also set to leave.
Macfarlane said he parted ways with Team NZ last month, but would not be drawn on why. "It's for a whole lot of personal reasons that I don't really want to get into."
Saward, who is understood to be sailing in Europe, was unable to be contacted last night.
It is believed the team will hold a crisis meeting at its Viaduct Harbour base today to address the departures and plot the way forward, with the first event on the America's Cup World Series circuit now less than six weeks away.
Holroyd, in particular, is a major loss for Team NZ. The naval architect and engineer has been with the syndicate since 1997, and led the design effort for the last campaign, during which the team made the leap from monohulls to high-performance foiling catamarans.
He will take with him out the door a wealth of intellectual property from nearly two decades with the team, including its design secrets from the last America's Cup. -- Dana Johannsen in the New Zealand Herald
The central Solent delivered spectacular racing conditions for the first day of the Landsail Tyres J-Cup in partnership with B&G. An easterly to south easterly breeze, oscillating 20 degrees during the day, kept the sailors racing the 67-J Boat fleet on their toes. Warm sunshine and a solid breeze of fifteen knots had the high performance J-Boats surfing at double digit boat speeds. Smart starts and getting the right side of the tide and the shifts were the key to success, as well as downwind boat speed and slick mark roundings.
Three teams remain unbeaten after the first day of racing at the Landsail Tyres J-Cup. Robin Stevenson's J/92, Upstart was in impressive form winning all three of today's races and Ian Nagle's Royal Cork YC team, racing Jelly Baby tops the leader board for the Lifedge J/109 National Championship. Geoff Carveth's Gill Racing Team is unbeaten in the J/70 Class.
The inaugural J/88 National Championship got off to a highly competitive start with three different teams winning today's races. Stewart Hawthorn's Ji Fi won the first race by 26 seconds. Paul Ward's Eat, Sleep, J, Repeat won the second race by just 10 seconds and David Apthorp's J-Dream won the last race of the day by just 6 seconds. Eat, Sleep, J, Repeat lead the J/88 National Championship by a single point after three races.
When it comes to performance in yacht racing readers will surely agree that weight positioning and weight saving are crucial - and the most efficient way to save weight is to leave it on the dock. Over the past 30 years big steps have been made. The 2015 TP52 at 7,000kg is half the weight of the IOR50 of the 1990s and (very) considerably faster in all directions. Weight management is always key to performance.
So you have to chuckle reading recent PR on TP52 cruiser-racer hull sisters being equally good or (why not) even better than the pure race version. You cannot have your cake and eat it and you cannot win a race dragging hundreds of kilos of unused space and comfort along with you, let alone while dreaming away in a comfy bunk or having a shower and a shave before returning to the deck to have breakfast under the sprayhood…
That is if rulemakers understand that racing is sport and that sport is what makes people build and buy boats and accept a class rule.
Full article in Seahorse magazine:
A Three Cornered Title Fight
Photo by Ingrid Abery, www.ingridabery.com. Click on image for photo gallery.
From two sparking races, one windward-leeward, one coastal, the screws turned ever tighter as the three cornered battle at the top of the fleet at the 52 SUPER SERIES' Settimana delle Bocche on the Costa Smeralda sees only one point separating the top three teams.
Class newcomers Bronenosec, Vladimir Liubomirov's Russian flagged team which has a strong Italian flavour, continue to more than hold their own among the more regular top of the table duellists, Quantum Racing and Azzurra.
On the strength of their three race wins Bronenosec are credited with the regatta lead on countback ahead of the quietly consistent Quantum Racing. Both are on 16 points while Azzurra, today's best scoring team with a 1,2 hold third overall on 17pts after five races have been sailed.
The home club's Azzurra needed to bounce back strongly after a disappointing Wednesday coastal race. The wheels pretty much fell off their challenge momentarily on that 31 miler, repairing to a seventh place.
Breezes are expected to be significantly stronger Friday and Saturday, setting the scene for a big finish to what is already one of the most exciting and closest fought regattas of recent years.
Standings: Settimana Delle Bocche - Porto Cervo, Overall after 5 races
1. Bronenosec, RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS) 16 points
2. Quantum Racing, USA (Doug DeVos USA) 16
3. Azzurra, ITA (Pablo/Alberto Roemmers ARG) 17
4. Sled, USA (Takashi Okura USA) 23
5. Provezza, TUR (Ergin Imre TUR) 23
6. Gladiator, GBR (Tony Langley GBR) 27
7. Platoon, GER (Harm Müller-Spreer GER) 31
8. Alegre, GBR (Andres Soriano USA) 34
9. Paprec FRA (Jean-Luc Petithuguenin FRA) 38
New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta Presented By Rolex
When it comes to delivering world-class competition, the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex has a long track record for success. One hundred and sixty one years to be exact. Tomorrow, the oldest regatta in the country will resume its pattern of excellence, hosting an impressive 167 boats for three days of racing on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound. Starting things off is an optional 19 nautical mile sprint around Conanicut Island; it will be followed on Saturday and Sunday (June 13-14) with buoy racing.
Seventy percent of the fleet will participate in Friday's separately scored Around-the-Island Race, including all nine of the C&C 30s, which are sailing for their first time ever here as a one-design class. The Rhode Island-built boats feature teams from Michigan, California, Maryland, New York and Rhode Island.
In addition to the C&C 30s, the regatta also hosts racing for eight other one-design classes (Marstrom 32, 12 Metre, S Class, Swan 42, Etchells, J/30, J/109 and J/111s) as well as divisions for IRC and Classics (Spirit of Tradition, Spinnaker, Non-Spinnaker classes). At the other end of the spectrum are PHRF boats that want a more relaxing race experience. For the weekend, they will compete in the Navigator Division, which sails one race per day around government marks.
Normandy Sailing Week: The Diam 24ODs Open Festivities!
Today saw the start of the first event of this Normandy Sailing Week 2015. In a 10/15-knot easterly wind on flat seas, the spectacular DIAM 24ODs let battle commence. After 4 intense races it was the Combiwest team who pulled out all the stops, setting themselves up nicely for the next stage in proceedings. The crew of Groupama and the locals of the competition on Normandy Elite Team complete the podium for this first day.
The 16 DIAM 24ODs were champing at the bit on the start line of the first race at 14:00pm local time. After a general recall, 4 incredibly intense races were unleashed.
At 09:00am local time Firday, racing will pick up where they left off with the DIAM 24OD crews linking onto a long-distance adventure challenge along the coast between the white cliffs of Etretat and Deauville. Next, it will be the turn of the J/80s and the IRC and Osiris racer-cruisers to take centre stage in a series of windward-leewards off Le Havre. To round off this second day of the event, the long nocturnal race will set sail at 20:00pm.
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* From Alistair Skinner: I must defer to Bob's (Fisher) perspective in terms of SCA's performance on this (just completed) leg and a deserved victory for sure. It is just that so often these days the various PR machines seem to forget the efforts of previous generations. Generations being the appropriate word as Maiden's successes of 25 years ago happened before some sailors in the current fleet were born. There are not enough women in sailing and hopefully SCA's profile in this Volvo Ocean Race will help attract more to our sport just as we in China are seeing an uplift in the interest in sailing because of Dongfeng Race Team's performance.
* From Adriaan Brink: In response to Bob Fisher: I raced the boat that became Maiden with Tracy Edwards for 2 years prior to selling to her team. It was a pig of a boat to sail fast - ex Disque d'Or III IOR racer built by Feldman for the early Whitbread. By the time Tracy bought her from us her IOR optimisations were distinctly dated and I thought they did really well to get where they got to! We also won races on that boat but against the odds - it was seriously hard work to sail fast. Either way - go girls! We need more women in sailing in my opinion. Well done to Team SCA - great win.
One of the finest TP52's ever built. Optimised for IRC and ORC, 2013 world champion in ORC, in 2014 proved competitive in Super Series and a winner in IRC! Best racing yacht ever?
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The Last Word
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