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Guest Editorial: Bob Fisher
I stand in awe at the achievement of Tom Ehman and his close supporters with the Super 12.
For some years the world of yacht racing has been denied the majestic sights that the Twelves provided during the America's Cup when there was any breeze. Those of us who were fortunate enough to have attended the long summer of 1986/7 in Fremantle (generally reckoned to have been the best America's Cup summer of all time) will remember the sight of the over-pressed 12-Metres approaching a leeward mark in Gage Roads - Indeed I see that Tom uses a photograph of the 12-Metre World Championship fleet with some of the spectators waiting expectantly, in his promotional material.
They were days when the crews did readily comprehensible tasks, most of which could be seen to change the performance of the boat - and thus enhance the position of the spectator. He understood, to a large extent, what was going on. How does he react to the incomprehensible tweaking of hydraulic valves that alter the angles of incidence of the foils on today's AC boats? He cannot.
What the Super 12 class promises is a return to the grandeur of yesteryear with boats that have been designed specifically for their task with the benefit of hindsight and the accumulated knowledge of those who were the leaders in the design of similar boats back in the Eighties. The wealth of knowledge has received the additional boost of the return from retirement of Bruce Farr whose "Plastic Fantastics" are the cutting edge of 12-Metre technology. With his inherent knowledge and the backing of the team that has taken over his design office, this is a project that is guaranteed not to fail.
The use of Westerly as constructors of the boats has been carefully considered and it is a firm that captures the trust of its clients, and there are three already committed - a number that will doubtless grow rapidly as confidence is boosted by definite movement in the boatyard. More orders will be need to produce the sought-after fleet for the initial regatta in San Franciscan July 2017 (right after the date when the 35th America's Cup should have been held there) but there are healthy awakenings, as I understand.
July 2017 is a firm date in the diary for me - I suggest that you make it one in yours.
Bracing For The Worst Conditions Since 1998
Wild gale-force winds could play into the hand of the first overseas line honours victory in the Sydney to Hobart since 2009 with foreign raider Comanche rushing back into the calculations for victory in the famed race
Earlier this week the forecast appeared to be a made-to-measure for a ninth Wild Oats line honours win but that has changed with predictions of one of toughest Sydney to Hobart's since the 1998 disaster on the cards.
There is, however, nothing in the forecast to indicate a repeat of the conditions which caused mayhem 17 years ago.
However a particularly nasty Sydney to Hobart - with the potential for prolonged and dangerous gale force winds across the notorious Bass Strait - has sailors on alert but could level the playing field in the 628 nautical mile race.
The forecast could also bring the top five yachts - Wild Oats, Comanche, Ragamuffin, Perpetual Loyal and Rambler - closer together.
Meteorologist Roger Badham has stressed the forecast could still alter but one favoured weather model continues to indicate potentially boat busting and body breaking conditions, including 40 plus wind in the Strait and wild seas.
143 And Counting...Entries Climbing For 2016 Quantum Key West Race Week
The number of entries to the 2016 edition of Quantum Key West Race Week has exceeded 100, indicating one of the strongest early turnouts in years to this mainstay on the international sailing calendar held over January 17-22, 2016. Currently there are 16 classes organized: nine one-design and seven monohull and multihull classes racing under handicap. This indicates a diverse range of boat types attracted to race in the winter sun in Key West, with teams from 10 nations represented among the entries thusfar.
One design classes include the following: Melges 24's (16 entries), J/70's (38 entries), J/80's (5 entries), Farr 280's (5 entries), J/88's (8 entries), C&C 30's (11 entries), J/111's (9 entries), and J/122's (2 entries).
Among the handicap classes, IRC 0, 1 and 2 have thus far attracted 15 committed entries, and the three new class offered at this year's event are also gaining interest: ORC Club (14 entries), Multihulls (2 entries) and Performance Cruisers (7 entries).
Besides providing the best in race management on the water, organizers from the Storm Trysail Club will enhance the shoreside experience for all entries with afternoon seminars, evening prizegivings and social events, and full logistic support through their partners and vendors on site...plus the unique ambience offered by time spent in Old Town Key West.
For more information and to enter 2016 Quantum Key West Race Week, visit www.keywestraceweek.com
IDEC Rounding The Horn Tomorrow
After an extraordinary weekend, which saw them regain 850 miles and move ahead of the record time, Cape Horn is coming up for the six sailors on IDEC SPORT skippered by Francis Joyon. Even if they are slowed down in the centre of a small area of low pressure, they should round the infamous cape Tuesday evening within the record time. In other words just over 30 days, meaning they are still in with every chance during the climb back up the Atlantic.
Pushing hard on the direct route (averaging 32 knots with peak speeds of 40), IDEC SPORT has swapped a deficit of 600 miles for a lead of 250 over the record pace. All of that was achieved in just 48 hours between Saturday morning and Monday. "It's really great being ahead of the record once again," Francis Joyon confirmed this afternoon. At 1500hrs, the big, red trimaran was only 600 miles from longitude 67°16 West, the official position of the legendary Horn.
However, the return to the Atlantic via the infamous cape will require a lot of effort, because of a small area of low pressure with light winds not far away to the south of Francis Joyon and his men.
Spindrift Will Also Round The Horn On Tuesday
From 470 miles down to 430 miles up on the current record in just two days! What a turnaround for Spindrift 2's crew as they prepare to leave the Pacific! After two hours in rough seas and snowy squalls, they must now navigate through easing winds. Spindrift 2 is still averaging 27.8 knots for the past 24 hours and will round Cape Horn in the morning or around noon. It's difficult to predict the exact time because of the unstable conditions. Current forecasts predict a half-day lead over Banque Populaire V. Tomorrow we'll find out!
Day 30 - 16h30 GMT
428.74 nm ahead the current record holder Banque Populaire V
Distance covered from the start: 19,191.6 nm
Average speed over 24 hours: 27.8 knots
Distance over 24 hours: 668.2 nm
2016-17 World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations Published
The 2016-17 World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations (OSR) have been published on the World Sailing website.
The purpose of the Offshore Special Regulations (OSR) is to establish uniform minimum equipment, accommodation and training standards for monohull and multihull boats racing offshore. In the new 2016-2017 edition of the OSR, the regulations have been simplified and shortened to improve their clarity for all sailors, inspectors and race organizers. The categories of events remain unchanged and the intent of each clause is not changed except for the changes agreed at the 2015 World Sailing Annual Conference. The OSR are accompanied by a safety training manual where the relevant guidelines and recommendations from the OSR will be located in the next edition of the, "World Sailing Guide to Personal Offshore Safety".
A number of changes made at the World Sailing Annual Conference affect the new 2016-17 edition of the regulations.
Unless otherwise specified the amendments are effective on 1 January 2016. It should be noted that national prescriptions may take priority over the World Sailing text and you should check with your relevant authority.
The 2016-17 OSR:
Elf On The Shelf Takes Up Sailing For Christmas
This year the Elf on the Shelf has taken up sailing for Christmas! The annual Christmas tradition, which sees the festive toy appearing in unexpected places, has found its way to the wintery world of sailing.
The Elf on the Shelf was snapped sailing a Volvo 65 at North Sails HQ in a tribute to the landmark offshore event of 2015 that saw six teams sail nearly 40,000 miles around the planet.
Follow @North_Sails on Instagram to trace the Elf over oceans as he pops up on the sailing scene, you may even spot him down under...
Russian Champion Returns To Defend Youth Worlds Title
Russia's Stefania Elfutina will be returning to the Youth Sailing World Championship in Langkawi, Malaysia to defend her RS:X Girls title from 27 December through to 3 January.
The Russian makes up part of the 23-boat RS:X Girls fleet and she will be a strong favourite to retain the title she won at the Tavira 2014 Youth Worlds. The RS:X Boys fleet will feature a fleet of 30 sailors and with no returning medallists, new names will be carved on the trophy.
2015 will be a record year for the Youth Worlds as more than 430 sailors from 80 nations are making the trip to the beautiful Malaysian island of Langkawi to race across nine fleets. New and returning nations make up the numbers to easily surpass the previous best of 67 set in Tavira, Portugal last year.
Sailors will start to arrive at the Langkawi venue on 27 December where they will receive the supplied equipment from Ovington, UpMarine, Nautivela, Sirena Voile, Neil Pryde and Laser Performance/Maclaren.
From there, the ceremony on 28 December will signal the start of the Youth Worlds before racing commences on 29 December. Racing will run through to Sunday 3 January with Friday 1 January a lay day for the sailors.
Seahorse Sailor Of The Month
Last month's winner:
Hakan Svensson (SWE)
Ian Walker's Green Dragon, Kenny Read's two Puma campaigns, Freddy Lööf and a gold medal at London 2012 and now match racing in M32 cats, Håkan Svensson has done a great deal for sailing in recent years. 'You won't find a nicer or more enthusiastic person in the sport' - Ian Walker; 'Håkan is changing the game' - Tom Gross; 'He is taking the steps that no one else is willing to do to encourage the young teams' - Chris Poole; 'First he is my husband and second he deserves to win!' - Chatarina Bjorkroth.
This month's nominees:
Brian Thompson (GBR)
What a year Brian has had, grabbing the reigns of the MOD 70 Phaedo3 with owner Lloyd Thornburg, wracking up race win after race win and record after record. The competition has come and gone but the Phaedo crew have been unstoppable. In our opinion their finest result was snapping at the heels of the giant Spindrift 2 all the way around the Fastnet course before finishing just minutes behind
Knut Frostad (NOR)
No two ways to say this, the Norwegian race veteran saved the Volvo Ocean Race with his decisive move to one-design VO65s. No ifs, no buts, Frostad faced down the waverers and made the call early enough for a complex build programme to be executed in a reasonable time frame, also putting enormous energy into helping ‘his’ teams find backing. He leaves the Volvo Race with a strong foundation for the next edition in 2017
Seahorse Sailor of the Month is sponsored by Henri Lloyd, Harken McLube & Dubarry. Who needs silverware, our prizes are usable!
Cast your vote, submit comments, even suggest a candidate for next month at seahorsemagazine.com/sailor-of-the-month/vote-for-sailor-of-the-month
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Grenada Announces Support For 2016 RORC Transatlantic Race
The third edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race will start on 26th November 2016 from Marina Lanzarote to Port Louis Marina, Grenada.
The RORC Transatlantic Race was brought to a conclusion on Friday 18th December with a closing ceremony held at Camper and Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, Grenada. Competitors, guests and friends of the race enjoyed a Westerhall Rum Punch and Caribbean barbecue prepared by the staff of the Victory Restaurant at Port Louis.
RORC Chief Executive Officer, Eddie Warden Owen introduced RORC Commodore Michael Boyd who announced that the Grenada Tourism Authority had pledged their continued support for the RORC Transatlantic Race, and that the third edition would start on 26th November 2016 from Marina Lanzarote and finish in Grenada, hosted by Camper and Nicholsons Port Louis Marina.
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 Don Street: Dick York's email in Scuttlebutt regarding MOB is short solid and to the point. It is the best letter or article I have ever read (or personally written) in the last 50 years
* From Dick Enersen: MY hope is that the Super 12 class will be attractive to sailors who "get," and respect, the idea of one-design racing. There will, of course, be measurement, but the driving force will, I hope, be the individual's interest in fair play.
Tom Ehman's concept will not be every sailor's cup of tea, to be sure, but I believe it will provide a lot of fun, excitement and beauty for those who want to play, and/or watch, the game.
This Cookson 50 is designed by Farr Yacht Design, built and marketed by Cookson Boats NZL. She is built in carbon with a canting keel which makes her extremely fast, strong and easy to sail; the perfect IRC-ORC offshore racer
See the RaceboatsOnly.com collection at seahorsemagazine.com/brokerage/
The Last Word
Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -- Frank Zappa