Les Voiles de Saint Barth 2012 fleet (Photo by Tim Wright)
With winter weather persisting in northern parts of the U.S. and Europe, sailors could be envied for heading to the Caribbean to extend their racing calendars. As it is, over 60 yachts and crew are currently on the island of St Barths, in the French West Indies, preparing for tomorrow’s start of Les Voiles de St. Barth. The fourth edition of this regatta will offer up four days of racing on a mix of courses and a social schedule equally as demanding, with dockside entertainment each evening and a lay day (Thursday) full of activities at Nikki Beach on St. Jean Bay.
As it has for its prior three editions, Les Voiles de St. Barth again has drawn a competitive mix of international yachts and crews from the UK, USA, France, Italy, Ireland, The Netherlands, Belgium, and South Africa, as well as a strong Caribbean contingent from Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Anguilla, Antigua, and Trinidad.
The inaugural event in 2010 drew 27 boats, and since then, entries have steadily grown as the media and sailing’s coconut telegraph helped spread the word. Event Director François Paul Tolède was enthusiastic as yachts tied up stern-to at the Quai General de Gaulle in Gustavia. “The atmosphere is great on shore and the weather looks perfect,” he said. “With 62 boats entered so far (registration closes at 5 p.m. today) and considering the current economic climate, the turnout shows what great regard the yacht owners have for the Voiles de Saint Barth.”
Tolède continued: “Luc Poupon (Course Director) has come up with some new courses, slightly longer in some cases, as many of the sailors wanted to spend more time on the water, and so racing will start a little earlier. We expect anywhere between 15 to 20+ knots of wind this week — ideal conditions for the fleet, which ranges from 24 feet (Melges) to 100 feet (the Swan 100 Varsovie).”
The fleet is divided into eight classes: Maxis; Spinnaker 1, 2, and 3; Melges 24; Non-Spinnaker; Classics; and Multi-hulls. Organizers can chose between 28 course variations, from 11 to 40 nautical miles. Racing begins tomorrow, Tuesday April 9, with the first signal at 1100.
Jim Swartz, owner/skipper of the TP52 Vesper, is the anointed “godfather” of this year’s regatta. An enthusiastic competitor, he has participated in all four editions. For Swartz it is a do-not-miss event. “The conditions are fabulous,” he said. “Sailing around this island is beautiful — the winds are always predictable, they are always a lot of fun, particularly when we get a good breeze on the back (windward) side of the island.” Sailing onboard Vesper will be former America’s Cup sailors Gavin Brady (tactician), Rob Salthouse (jib trim), Kazuhiko Sofuku (mid bow), and Jamie Gale (navigator), past Volvo Ocean Race crew.
After Vesper competed in the TP52 Worlds in Miami last month, the boat was shipped to St. Thomas to get it race ready and then delivered to St. Barths this week. “Les Voiles is always on our calendar,” Swartz said, “It’s the atmosphere — the racing is great, the people are great, as is the organization. It all runs very well. And the dining and shopping (for the ladies)…all that St. Barths is about, we enjoy the same thing!”
Over half the boats and skippers are return competitors. Notable new editions this year include Jens Kellinghusen’s Ker 51 Varuna, which has raced in the year since its launch at Kiel Week and Les Voiles de St. Tropez; the Volvo 60 Cuba Libre (ex-Heineken) in Non-Spinnaker (while the V60 Ambersail will be in Spinnaker 1); Phil Lotz’ Swan 42 Arethusa, which is fresh off winning the Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean; Jolt 2, a Baltic 45 that has already stretched its legs on the recent RORC Caribbean 600; in the Classic class, Heroina, a 74’ cold molded Frers design build in the ‘90s; and the 51’ Aage Nielsen-designed ketch Saphaedra, a seasoned ocean racer.
At this morning’s media briefing at Hotel Carl Gustaf on the hill overlooking the harbor of Gustavia, Nils Dufau, Vice President of the Collectivity of St. Barth’s and president for the Tourism Committee, said, “Les Voiles de St. Barth has become a formidable communication tool for our island as an up-market destination. This event conveys to all the “state of mind” of an island that has built up over time and which today has become a haven of peace and stability — the very basis of its reputation.”
In a further nod to this relatively new event, the Caribbean Sailing Association named Les Voiles de St. Barth and the BVI Spring Regatta “Best Events of 2012.”
This evening is the Skipper’s Briefing after which event organizers will kick off the week with the Opening Ceremony and party in the Race Village on the Quai General de Gaulle.
The event enjoys the continued support of watchmaker Richard Mille as well as sportswear brand Gaastra. Other event partners include leading St. Barth villa rental agency WIMCO, which offers a gorgeous portfolio of private villas for rent on St. Barth. WIMCO’s sponsorship includes presenting eight Les Voiles class winners with a complimentary week in one of their top villas, inclusive of a concierge ready to attend to every request.
Rambler in 2012 (Photo by Tim Wright)
MAXI Racing – MAXI Racing Cruising
Design : MAXI 80
Skipper: Tony McBRIDE
Design : Souther Wind 78
Skipper: Mark DICKER
Design : FARR
Skipper: Jose DIEGO-AROZAMENA
Design : Swan 100
Skipper: Tomek ULATOWSKI
Design : Swan 80
Skipper: Benjamin DAVITT
Design : TP 52
Skipper: Jim SWARTZ
Design : KER 51
Skipper: Jens KELLINGHUSEN
Design: VOLVO 60
Owner: Benedikt Clauberg
Owner: Patrick DEMARCHELIER- Skipper: Karl Spijker
Owner: James BLAKEMORE
Design: Swan 45
Skipper/Owner: Gideon MESSINK
Design: Farr Vo 60
Skipper: Simonas STEPONAVICIUS
Design: Beneteau First 40
Skipper: Christian ZUGEL
Design : J 125
Skipper: Greg SLYNGSTAD
Design: MELGES 24
Skipper: Antoine LEFORT
Design : MELGES 24
Skipper: Mowgli FOX
TEAM ISLAND WATER WORLD
Design : MELGES 24
Skipper: Frits BUS
Design : MELGES 24
Loa: 24 ‘
Skipper: Andrea SCARABELLI
Design : MELGES 24
Loa: 24 ‘
Skipper: John GIFFORD
Design : MELGES 24
Skipper: Didier Roulault/Bernard Sillem
Design: J 122
Skipper: Sergio SAGRAMOSO
VOILES au FEMININ
Design: J 109
Skipper: Sophie OLIVAUD
Design : A40
Skipper: Alain CHARLOT
Design: BALTIC 45
Skipper: Peter HARRISON
Design : X 34
Skipper: Raphael MAGRAS
Design : First 31,7
Skipper: Serge MAZEIRO
Design : BORDEAUX 60
Skipper: Nicolas CHALAPHY
Skipper: Alexis GUILLAUME
Design : DUFOUR 34
Skipper: Raymond MAGRAS
Design : SWAN 42
Skipper: Philip LOTZ
Design : JPK 9,60
Skipper: J-L LEFEBVRE
Design : DUFOUR 45
Skipper: Jean Michel MARZIOU
Design : FIRST 40,7
Skipper: John “Jack” WATSON
Performance Yacht Charter-Northern Child
Design : Swan 51
Skipper: Christian REYNOLDS
Design : B 28
Skipper: Jean-Michel FIGUERES
Ptits Filous Lipton
Design : A 40
Skipper: Philippe CHARRET
White Rhino Holdings
Design : Swan 56
Loa: 56 ‘
Skipper: Jack DESMOND
Design : Reichel Pugh 37
Loa: 37 ‘
Skipper: Peter PEAKE
MARTINIQUE PREMIERE – CREDIT MUTUEL
Design : SUNFAST 3200
Loa: 32 ‘
Skipper: Andrzej KOCHANSKI
Kick ‘em Jenny 2
Design : MELGES 32
Loa: 32 ‘
Skipper: Ian HOPE-ROSS
Design : J-105
Loa: 35 ‘
Skipper: Peter LEWIS
VOILES 44 CAVA
Design : POGO CLASS 40
Loa: 40 ‘
Skipper: Rodolphe SEPHO
Design : Beneteau 47
Loa: 47 ‘
Skipper: Alain CHARLOT
Design : Swan 57
Loa: 57 ‘
Skipper: Joan Navarro Guiu
Design : HANSE 47
Loa: 47 ‘
Skipper: Han de Bruyn Kops
Design : MARTEN 49
Loa: 49 ‘
Skipper: Steve CUCCHIARO
GIRLS for SAIL
Design : ELAN 37
Skipper: Annie O SULLIVAN
Design : X-612
Skipper: Nico CORTLEVER
Jaguar Island Water World
Design : J 120
Skipper: Ben JELIC
Design : Beneteau Sense 50
Skipper: Alexandria KILMON
Design : SWAN 57
Loa : 57′
Skipper: Bruno CHARDON
HOTEL CALIFORNIA TOO
Design : SANTA CRUZ 70
Loa : 70′
Skipper: Stephen C SCHMIDT
Design : MUMM 36
Loa : 36′
Skipper: Bernie EVAN-WONG
Design : DUFOUR 425 GL
Loa : 45′
Skipper: Pascal REY
Design : J/95
Loa : 31′
Skipper: Thomas MULLEN
Design : Beneteau 45 f
Loa : 45′
Skipper: Sir Robert VELASQUEZ
Design : JEANNEAU 44
Loa: 44 ‘
Skipper: Eduardo LENTZ
Design : First 300
Loa: 30 ‘
Skipper: Garth STEYN
Design : Swan 65
Loa: 65 ‘
Skipper: Alan EDWARDS
Skipper: Erik CLEMENT
Design: F 40
Skipper: Stéphane CATTONI
Design: Irens 63′ Trimaran
Skipper: Olivier VIGOUREUX
Design: Trimaran F40 Montesinos
Skipper: Bruno ESCALES
Design: W Class
Skipper: Donald TOFIAS
The Blue Peter
Design: Alfred MYLNE
Skipper: Mathew BARKER
Design: Classic wood ketch
Skipper: Jamie ENOS
Design : Frers
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Wild Oats XI near finish (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)
|DOUBLE TRIPLE WITH ICING ON THE TOP
|Robert Oatley’s Wild Oats XI was announced this morning as the Overall Winner of the 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart. It had become clear overnight that none of the yachts still at sea could better the corrected time established by the 30.48m (100 foot) maxi skippered by Mark Richards. Wild Oats XI has repeated its historic performance of 2005, when it secured the treble of Line Honours, Overall Winner and Race Record.
Aside from Rani, in the very first race, Wild Oats XI is the only yacht ever to have achieved this impressive display of dominance. She has now done it twice. Bob Oatley was understandably impressed: “The main aim was the fastest time. To get the handicap too was fantastic, a real bonus. Getting the record trip was really the icing on the cake.”
By 15:00 AEDT on 29 December, 13 yachts had finished the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart including two of the international entries: KLC Bengal from Japan and Ambersail from Lithuania. Last year’s winner, Loki, has so far come closest to unseating Wild Oats XI. Finishing last night at just before 21:00 even she was two hours adrift on corrected time. Black Jack, which arrived an hour before Loki, lies in third overall. Chris Bull’s Jazz holds fourth.
Victorian yacht Calm had appeared to have the best opportunity of the yachts destined to arrive before dawn today. Needing to finish before 01:31, she was behind schedule yesterday afternoon. Owner Jason Van der Slot believed they would pick up pace but had not counted on stalling close to the finish: “We parked for two hours off Tasman Island and for an hour in the Derwent. We were aiming to finish in time to win and up to Tasman Island we were on track. It had all gone according to plan until then.” She eventually finished at 06:06 this morning and holds fifth place.
Five yachts have retired so far and, for the 58 yachts still racing, a difficult evening lies ahead. In the lee of northeastern Tasmania there is a substantial wind shadow. From midway down the eastern seaboard to Tasman Island spindrift is flying off 3 metre waves in a 26 – 36 knot west-southwesterly. These conditions are forecast to prevail through much of 30 December too.
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Wild Oats approaching the Hobart finish for 2012 Line Honors (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)
|On the morning of 28 December 2012, Wild Oats XI once again stamped her name in the Rolex Sydney Hobart history books. From the moment the start gun fired on Boxing Day the silver wraith seemed intent on condemning her rivals for line honours to the position of also-rans. Wild Oats XI’s finish time of 1 day 18 hours 23 minutes and 12 seconds sliced 16 minutes 58 seconds off her own record. Another commanding performance in a race she has begun to treat as her own.
Without doubt skipper Mark Richard’s crew of thoroughbred racers had some luck, but their race was not without problems. The first night saw the wind drop in the scheduled transition and her opponents close down the lead she had worked to establish during the afternoon. The crew held their nerve and once the northeasterly settled in they were off.
Ragamuffin-Loyal’s endeavours to stay in touch with Wild Oats XI were hampered by a headsail gear failure from which the 100-foot maxi never recovered; Syd Fischer’s equally accomplished crew forced to accept the unwelcome role of bridesmaid. Ragamuffin-Loyal finished almost five hours behind Wild Oats XI. Had the apparent error of starting the race too early been converted to a penalty, her crew’s sense of disappointment would have been complete. Fortunately, the International Jury found that race officials failed to notify Ragamuffin-Loyal after five minutes that they had jumped the start, leaving the crew unaware that they should have returned and restarted.
By 20:30 AEDT only four yachts had completed the 628 nm course. Lahana rounded out the maxi contingent just before 19:00, while Black Jack was the first mini maxi some 40 minutes later. Loki and Ichi Ban will be next home. None have so far been capable of posting a time that knocks Wild Oats XI off the overall podium position. The door may be open for a smaller yacht if the weather obliges. Calm, Jazz, Quest and Shogun look best placed to foil a second triple crown. They need the wind to shift substantially in their favour, something it has singularly failed to do so far.
Wild Oats XI near finish (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)
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MALUKA OF KERMANDIE the smallest yacht in the fleet (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)
The 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart got underway in exceptional conditions. The forecast southerly breeze providing the perfect angle for a spinnaker start and run down the harbour. The angle would prove less kind as the yachts exited the Sydney Heads and made their turn towards Hobart, finding the 20 – 25 knots now firmly on the nose. Mark Richards and Wild Oats XI looked to be in no mood to be interrupted in her bid to claim a sixth line honours, blasting off the line and showing Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin Loyal a clean pair of heels before popping out of the Heads comfortably in the lead.
An interesting night lies ahead. The decision how far to head out to sea was the first conundrum facing the crews. So far the bulk of yachts appear firm in the belief that staying inshore, and inside the rhumb line will pay better. Only, one or two boats have shown a determination to head offshore for any length of time. Mike Broughton, navigator on Chris Bull’s Jazz, felt ahead of the start that the fleet would do well to stay inshore for the initial section of the race, certainly until the major swing in wind direction expected during the night. This transition should see the wind back to the northeast and will have the yachts running under spinnaker for an extended period.
Start of the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart
Earlier this morning, Gordon Maguire, tactician on Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki, indicated some of their pre-race routing suggested the bigger yachts could profit enormously from the predicted northeasterly. If it arrives on cue, they could bite a huge chunk out of the course during the hours of darkness and be lying off Green Cape by mid-morning on the second day, 27 December. The small boats, meanwhile, such as race veteran Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose, might only find themselves parallel with Jervis Bay as dawn breaks. The difference in power between segments of the fleet will be all too apparent at this juncture.
Wild Oats XI leads out of Sydney Harbor (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)
WILD OATS XI, after the start
At 17:30 AEDT Wild Oats XI was 8 nautical miles north east of Kiama travelling at 12 knots, with some 50 nm under her belt after 4.5 hours of sailing. Any thought of setting a new record seemed to be on hold as navigator Adrienne Cahalan called in to report the wind speed dropping as evening arrives. Ragamuffin Loyal lies within striking distance just astern. Lahana, Ichi Ban and Black Jack round out the top five on the water. Conditions have been wet and hard on crews during these first few hours and the measure of performance differential between front-runners and back markers is clearly demonstrated by Charlie’s Dream. Averaging just 3.4 knots, Peter Lewis and crew were parallel with Botany Bay having knocked a mere 13 nm off the 628nm course distance.
Black Jack charges down the harbor (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)
The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart is like few other yacht races. The natural amphitheatre formed by the deep-water harbour offers great viewing potential from the water, at water level from the beaches and coves, and grandstand opportunities from higher ground. Every Sydney-sider has a favourite location, and South Head must be one of the most popular and dramatic. A huge crowd always assembles to watch the fleet barrel down the harbour and make the sharp out into open water. This year’s spectacle was worth the effort involved. After a dreadful Christmas Day, when rain and wind battered Sydney, Boxing Day has been a joy. Blue sky and reasonably warm temperatures brought the locals out in their thousands to cheer the determined and enthusiastic crews off on their compelling adventure.
Crowds on the South End enjoy the spectacle. (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)
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Syd Fischer and Tony Ellis (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)
The 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race promises to be one for the true believers; if you admire people who constantly challenge your values, fire your imagination, refuse to quit when the going gets tough, can’t be told that they are too old, are too stubborn to give it away and who keep coming back for more, then this year’s race is a Christmas present you’ll never forget.
At centre stage of the race, again run by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, is Sydney yachtsman Syd Fischer, a national living treasure who is still in the grip of finish line fever. At the age of 85, when most men of his age might be shuffling around a retirement village in their slippers with their trousers braced up around their chest, Fischer wants to win line honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht race – again.
He’s taken over the boat to do it, Investec Loyal, last year’s first across the line. The 100-foot super maxi becomes the latest iteration of Fischer’s Ragamuffin series, Ragamuffin Loyal.
Syd – lean, leather-skinned, laconic, highly competitive and still the subject of discussion for his exploits on and off the water – personifies Sydney: he won’t lie down.
The challenge he mounts at the front of the 80-boat fleet caps off an indifferent year for Australian sport internationally, a disastrous year for world cycling, but a great year for Australian sailing.
We had success at the Olympics with Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page in the 470 Men’s, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen in the 49er, Tom Slingsby in the Laser and Olivia Price, Nina Curtis, and Lucinda Whitty in the Women’s Match Racing in the Elliott 6. The TV coverage at the superb Weymouth venue has reinvigorated interest in sailing and helped to demystify it for non-sailors.
Fischer will be on his 44th Sydney-Hobart. He has already won line honours wins with Ragamuffin in 1988 and 1990, with an overall win in 1992 aboard an updated Ragamuffin.
This year he is leasing Investec Loyal with a view to knocking off five-time line honours winner and race record holder (1:18:40:10 set in 2005) Wild Oats XI, whose skipper, Mark Richards, is just young enough to be his grandson.
Last year Loyal, skippered by owner Anthony Bell, beat Wild Oats XI in the fourth closest finish in the race’s history; three minutes and eight seconds.
This month Richards and Wild Oats XI recaptured a psychological advantage over Fischer by taking line honours in the 180 nautical mile Cabbage Tree Island Race, when Ragamuffin Loyal had to drop her mainsail after a pin dropped out of the port runner block. Sailing with a scratch crew, Fischer made repairs, but was unwilling to risk the rig. It must be noted she was eight miles behind Oats at the time and contesting her first ocean race with Fischer.
Prior to winning last year’s race, Loyal was second across the line in 2010 and fourth in 2009. Not only has Fischer leased Loyal for the next two Hobart races, he will buy it outright when the lease runs out.
For this year’s Hobart race, Fischer will have right-hand man, Tony Ellis, and David Witt as boat captain. Ellis will sail his 46th race (one behind the record), but will sail his 40 together with Fischer, while Witt was one of Australia’s best known 18ft skiff sailors in the 90s. He made the transition to ocean racing, via the great events: the Rolex Sydney Hobart, Melbourne-Osaka double-handed race and the Volvo Ocean Race.
Asked at today’s official launch if there are many arguments between him and Fischer on the boat, Ellis said: “We’ve had plenty of cross words over the years – but it stays on the boat.” Does Ellis win any of the arguments? “Syd’s won a few arguments with me,” Ellis quipped.
When asked about the crew that will be onboard for the Hobart race, Ellis said, “We’re going to have a pretty well rounded crew by the time we get to the start line… Andrew Cape (multiple Volvo Ocean Race and Rolex Sydney Hobart yachtsman) is going to come and navigate for us. The last time we sailed together (the 1992 Hobart), we won the race overall.
Geoff Huegill, the Aussie swimming legend and former butterfly world record holder, is back, sailing aboard the same boat he did his first race on in 2010; Ragamuffin Loyal. “To be part of a crew that has such great experience behind them is something that I am really looking forward to,” he said.
“Once you’ve got the bug for sailing it really gets you – the teamwork aspect is an opportunity that I really enjoy,” Huegill commented.
The hardest part of his first race, the retired swimmer said, was “Sleep deprivation – but I’m used to it now, because I have a 10 month old baby,” he said.
Owner, Bob Oatley, has gone back to the drawing board with Wild Oats XI after her defeat in the Derwent last year. Oats had been no match for Loyal in light weather. She keeps her retractable daggerboards that were fitted before last year’s race, but she has a new retractable, centreline fin, three metres aft of the bow.
The aim of all three is to reduce leeway, but they are each used in different phases of light weather sailing, the forward fin being used first before being retracted. In addition, there is a new fitting on the bulb of the keel, whose role is to minimise ‘tip vortex’, curling water at the tip of the bulb that can reduce lift.
Skipper, Mark Richards said at the official Rolex Sydney Hobart launch today, “Last year’s race was a great race all the way until the finish, but Loyal was quicker in light air – and we’ve made some radical modifications to rectify that. We’ve tested the new set-up and it’s
This then is the battle royale to which we can look forward to at the front of the fleet, the old bull versus the young bull for the fastest boat at sea, but there will be other contenders.
Peter Millard and John Honan’s 98ft maxi Lahana is back after finishing third across the line in 2010 and 2011. Also on the front row of the grid is Grant Wharington’s Wild Thing, which took line honours in 2003, when she was named Skandia. The 98 footer has undergone modifications ahead of the race, including being lengthened to 100 feet.
Last year’s overall race winner, Stephen Ainsworth’s Reichel/Pugh 63 Loki, is back to defend her title and still appears to be the boat to beat. In August, the CYCA boat broke the 13 year-old record for a conventional yacht in the Audi Sydney Gold Coast Race and won the race outright. This month she won the CYCA’s Cabbage Tree Island Race and she goes in to the Rolex Sydney Hobart as the pre-race favourite.
On board again are sailing master Gordon Maguire and navigator Michael Bellingham. Ainsworth has also declared this is his last. He will be selling Loki and spending future Christmases with his family (unless he suffers the Fischer Syndrome at some stage).
Fischer first took line honours in 1988 in a gale-strewn race that ended with one of the smallest boats in the fleet, the Davidson 34, Illusion, win the race outright. Illusion is back as well this year, this time in the hands of Kim Jaggar and Travis Read.
The two bought the boat in April and, according to Jaggar, have spent more on its reconfiguration than the actual purchase. They are seeking to reduce the boat’s rating by going to a masthead kite, smaller headsails and a longer spinnaker pole. It will sail with a crew of eight.
“We’d like to beat Hicko (Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose) and Simon (Simon Kurts’ Love & War),” Jaggar said, “but it has to be right race for us.”
Love & War is always a sentimental favourite for handicap honours in the race. Peter Kurts won the race in 1974 and 1978 and, after his death in January 2005, son Simon gave the nod for his navigator Lindsay May to sail the wooden boat to Hobart the following year.
May sailed her to an emotional third win in 2006 and is back in his role as navigator, while Peter’s son Simon will skipper the yacht with his 21-year-old son Phillip having his second crack at the race.
Bob ‘Robbo’ Robertson’s top performing Queensland yacht Lunchtime Legend is on a mission, coming off a win in the Magnetic Island Race Week series and second in both the Audi Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach Race Weeks.
“This is our year; we have to do it this year,” Robertson said, having built and launched the Beneteau 40 in time for the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart race and scoring a highly creditable third in IRC Division 4 after scoring the exact same overall time as Andrew Saies’ same design Two True (SA) and in the company of pacesetters of the calibre of Hickman’s Wild Rose (NSW) and David Rees’ Whistler from Tasmania.
This time, Lunchtime Legend has a younger crew fired up, Robertson says, after the Australian successes at the London Olympics: “That has done so much to get young people involved again in sailing. I reckon our average age will be 20 years lower than in the 2011 race.”
This is a strong fleet of 80 boats: four maxis and nine previous winners of the major trophy, the Tattersall’s Cup, presented to the overall winner.
Joining Illusion, Loki, Love & War, Wild Rose and Wild Oats XI in the previous winners’ club are Geoff Boettcher’s 2010 winner Secret Men’s Business 3.5, Andrew Saies’ 2009 winner Two True, which is one of four South Australian entries, Bob Steel’s 2008 winner Quest and Luna Sea, which won the nightmare 1998 race as AFR Midnight Rambler, which is now in the hands of James Cameron.
Anthony Lyall’s Cougar II, which was second overall in 2008 in the hands of Victorian Alan Whiteley, leads the Tasmanian contingent in this year’s race. She has just won the Maria Island Race in record time and claimed the treble of record, line honours and overall win.
All states and the ACT have boats in the fleet with the NSW fleet numbering 43, Victoria 13, Queensland nine, Tasmania and South Australia four each, WA two, the ACT one and there are four overseas entries.
The overseas boats include the first Lithuanian entry, Ambersail (Simonas Steponavicius), a Volvo 60 that had been the Assa Abloy training boat for the 2001/2 Volvo Ocean Race.
Beneteaus make up the biggest design contingent, 12 of them, all in the 40-foot range. Two True and Lunchtime Legend will be up against the other form boat, the reigning Blue Water Point Score champion, Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire and the chartered Balance, now known as Peugeot Surfrider, which will feature a mostly French crew headed by Sebastien Guyot.
Once again, David Kellett will lead an experienced team on the Radio Relay Vessel (RRV), JBW, which accompanies the fleet to Hobart each year, generously loaned again by John Winning. Young Endeavour will act in the role of Communications Support Vessel to the RRV this year, under command of LCDR Michael Gough, Commanding Officer STS Young Endeavour.
The CYCA’s annual race starts at 1pm AEDT on Boxing Day, December 26 on Sydney Harbour. The fleet will sail from two start lines off Nielsen Park. The start will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia, webcast live to a global audience on Yahoo!7 and the Australia Network throughout the Asia Pacific Region.
By Bruce Montgomery, Rolex Sydney Hobart media team
THE 2012 RACE
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Atmosphere on the dockside at Les Voiles de Saint Barth © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth
On the eve of the third running of Les Voiles de St. Barth, April 2-7, the palm-fringed port of Gustavia, St.Barthlemy quickly filled with an impressive array of race boats: ocean-racing maxis including the 90-foot Rambler and the Swan 112, Highland Breeze; classic beauties such the Olin Stephen-designed Dorade and the Fife-built yawl Mariella; a trio of IRC 52s, multi-hulls including the 66 Gunboat Phaedo, and two large racing classes with a mix of Melges, J/boats, and a mix of 40-footers, including the hot-off-the-press Carkeek 40, Decision.
Over 60 boats are registered for this years edition, up fromwith a large number of returning entries, proof that the regatta has filled the need for spirited competition towards the end of the winter season a time when tourism typically begins to wind down in the Caribbean. Though that was hard to tell yesterday, at the islands tiny airport, as the steady stream of small commuter planes landing were filled with a duffle bag-wielding collection of sailors from the ranks of the Americas Cup, round-the-world-ocean races, and Olympic competition, that included Gavin Brady (Vesper), Scott Vogel (Rambler), Bouwe Bekking (Nilaya), Cam Lewis (Paradox), Charlie McKee and Ross MacDonald (Mayhem), Tony Rey, Jeff Madrigali, and Nacho Postigo (Powerplay), and Dee Smith (Decision).
But its not just the professionals that flock to Les Voiles de St. Barth, the regattas program and mix of courses also appeals to a competitive group of amateur and family racers that hone their skills on the growing circuit of Caribbean regattas that take advantage of this sailing paradise.
Nilaya heads out for practice prior to the start of Les Voiles de St Barth © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth
While not the easiest of destinations to reach some U.S. west coast sailors logged 16+ hours in transit, while others from Europe only slightly less the island of St Barths itself is a welcome reward at the end of the road: a turquoise blue, crystal-clear sea, pristine white sand beaches, and an array of fabulous restaurants just payoff for a long days journey.
Francesco Mongelli, navigator onboard Jim Swartz IRC52 Vesper, is here racing in St Barths for the first time. The Italian sailor, who sails primarily in Europe, has been racing with the Vesper crew since last October, and was clearly keen to have touched down in this French paradise, Its a mix of all the best sailing places, together with perfect weather and good food. Having spent the afternoon in a tender carefully checking out the coastline and charted (and uncharted) rock outcroppings, Mongelli added, Its pretty similar to Porto Cervo, the difference is that there you more or less know where everything is, and the charts are accurate. You cannot take the same risk here that wed take in Porto Cervo.
Racing will run from Tuesday, April 3 Saturday, April 7 and will feature a mix of Olympic triangles, short coastal courses, and a 20-30 nautical mile round-the island race. The fleet will be split into seven classes: Maxi (> 21 meters), IRC52 (former TP52s that have been optimized for the IRC rule), Spinnaker I + II, Non-Spinnaker (racer/cruiser), Classic (vintage/traditional), and Multihull. Thursday is a layday at Nikki Beach, with lunch and a full afternoon of activities, including a paddleboard competition.
New this year, Les Voiles will offer real-time race tracking with 2D visualization via the internet. Waypoint-Tracking (www.waypoint-tracking.com) developed the system in close collaboration with ISAF. The site will allow enthusiasts to follow the daily racing action live or to replay at a later time.
Many of the competing boats are moored stern-to at the Quai General de Gaulle, site of the Race Village, where all of the daily breakfast and post-race activities and music take place. This evening, skippers and tacticians were on hand for the Skippers Briefing led by Loic Ponceau, Race Committee Chairman, and organizers Francois Tolede, Luc Poupon, and Annelisa Gee. Following that was Les Voiles St. Barth Opening Ceremony, where Bruno Magras, President of the Collectivit of St. Barth, welcomed more than 500 sailors to the weeklong event.
Whisper heads out to practice for Les Voiles de Saint Barth © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth
A regular and enthusiastic competitor in the Caribbean, Sir Peter Harrison was named the godfather or patron of this years Les Voiles. Harrison, owner of the 115-foot Farr-designed Sojana, told the crowd, As a visitor from England to this beautiful French island, one of the most beautiful in the West Indies, Im thrilled to be asked to the patron of Les Voiles. Bon vent Les Voiles de St. Barth, and good luck, everyone!
Also sailing on Sojana is Lionel Pan, who is also back for his third Les Voiles. He said, Obviously there are plenty of good reasons to be here, and to come back every year with the same enthusiasm: this place is made for sailing. In a very short time, Les Voiles de St. Barth has become the place to be, very much like Saint Tropez in the Mediterranean. And the word is spreading around. Shortly there will be a waiting list to be a part of the event!
The weather forecast for the next few days calls for light winds, though the breeze is expected to increase throughout the week. Racing is scheduled to start tomorrow, Tuesday, April 3, two miles northwest of Sugarloaf Rock off Gustavia; one race is scheduled with a start time of 12noon.
Gustavia Harbour on the eve of the start of Les Voiles de St Barth © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth
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Maltese Falcon (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)
Having cheered on the first six yachts when they departed on the Transatlantic Race 2011 two days ago, the 14-strong group of yachts that will take the second of the three staggered starts now have less than 24 hours until they begin the race across the North Atlantic for themselves. The warning signal at 13:50 Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday, June 29, will cue the largest group of yachts to depart, including the show-stopping Maltese Falcon, and spectators are guaranteed to see a unique sailing spectacle when the cannon is fired at Castle Hill Light.
Without doubt, tomorrow’s start will feature the most diverse battle of the race. The Open Class has just two yachts, but they are two of the showiest yachts in the race. Maltese Falcon, at 289’, is the largest yacht competing and is up against the only multihull entered in the race, Phaedo, the Gunboat 66 owned by Lloyd Thornburg (St. Barthelemy). The Lamborghini-orange catamaran and the futuristic Perini Navi will be a spectacular sight as they head off into the Atlantic.
In IRC Class Two, Jazz, a Cookson 50, has a star-studded crew including the highly experienced navigator, Mike Broughton (Hamble, U.K.), and skipper, Nigel King (Lymington, U.K.). Unfortunately, due to family commitments, owner Chris Bull is unable to make the trip. Two German teams on nearly identical yachts will also go head-to-head in the class: Christoph Avenarius and Gorm Gondesen’s Shakti and Jens Kellinghusen’s Varuna should virtually match race across the North Atlantic.
IRC Class Three will feature six yachts, including Snow Lion, the Ker 50 owned by former NYYC Commodore Lawrence Huntington (New York, N.Y.). Snow Lion is a proven winner, having won her class in the Newport Bermuda Race, and should be highly competitive on corrected time. There are, however, some real fliers in this class, not the least of which is Zaraffa, the Reichel Pugh 65 owned by Huntington Sheldon (Shelburne, Vt.), whose crew includes several veterans of the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. The Volvo 60 Ambersail, skippered by Simonas Steponavicius (Vilnius, Lithuania), is a much-travelled yacht having logged over 100,000 miles since being purchased in 2008 to celebrate a thousand years of Lithuanian history. After sailing around the world, Ambersail took part in the 2010 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, winning class honors and placing second overall.
The youth entry from Germany, Norddeutsche Vermoegen Hamburg, will be helmed by Eike Holst whose third Transatlantic Race will be his first as skipper. And while the majority of the team aboard the Andrews 57 are university students in their 20s, two of the crew are just 18 years old. Many of sailors in the race were introduced to the sport as a family activity, which means the parents of these sailors, in particular, have a degree of understanding and ease with the undertaking at hand. That was not the case for Jerome Vigne, the Parisian-born mechanical engineering student who will have a very relieved mother welcoming him home to Germany.
Blending a comfortable interior with the performance of an Open 60 is Ourson Rapide, the Finot-Conq 60 owned by Paolo Roasenda (Vedano al Lambro, Italy). This is a special boat that should have a dream-like ride downwind. Scho-ka-kola, named for the German chocolate confection, is a Reichel Pugh 56 owned by Uwe Lebens (Hamburg) that has completed two previous Atlantic crossings.
Prodigy, a Simonis/Voog 54, is a proven winner. Owner Chris Frost (Durban, South Africa) took line honors in the 2011 Heineken Cape to Rio Race and will compete in the Rolex Fastnet Race, as well as the Rolex Middle Sea Race, as part of a year-long campaign. Of the 10 crew on Prodigy, two – including Aaron Gillespie (Butler, N.J.) and John Fryer (New York, N.Y.) – were recruited by Frost using the “Crew Finder” feature on the event’s website. It will be Gillespie’s first Transatlantic crossing.
The two smallest yachts in start two are both Class 40s: Dragon and Concise 2, the latter skippered by Ned Collier-Wakefield (Oxford, U.K.). Tony Lawson (Haslemere, Surrey, U.K.) assembled a crew of young aspiring sailors from Great Britain to make up Team Concise. The team has become a force to be reckoned with having won the 2009 Class 40 World Championship, set a world record for the Round Britain and Ireland course and taken class honors at the RORC Caribbean 600 for the last three years.
Dragon is the only boat racing across the Atlantic double-handed. Owner Michael Hennessy (Mystic, Conn.) has been an avid sailor ever since introduced to the sport by his father at the age of four on San Francisco Bay. Following college, Hennessy logged thousands of miles cruising along the New England coast before he started to focus on short-handed distance racing in 2002. Since then he has competed in four Newport Bermuda Races, as well as dozens of other races across New England. In 2008 he took notice of the fast growing Class 40 fleet and took delivery of his Owen Clarke-designed boat. In just two short years, Dragon has become a fixture on the ocean racing circuit. Joining Hennessy will be co-skippered Rob Windsor (East Northport, N.Y.) who grew up sailing with his family on Long Island Sound.
Sponsors of the TR 2011 are Rolex, Thomson Reuters, Newport Shipyard, Perini Navi and Peters & May, with additional support by apparel sponsor Atlantis Weathergear.
For more information, visit http://www.transatlanticrace.org/.
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Carina passes Castle Hill Lighthouse At Transatlantic Race Start ( Photo by Amory Ross / Transatlantic Race 2011 )
The sunshine burnt off the morning fog almost on cue as the first start of the Transatlantic Race 2011 got underway with six of the smallest yachts in the fleet beginning their journey across the Atlantic. A gentle breeze wafted in from the southeast to give the competitors some champagne sailing conditions, at least for the moment — all of the yachts competing in the TR2011 know there are bound to be difficult times ahead.
Skippered by Rives Potts, Jr. (Essex, Conn.), local favorite Carina, a 48’ sloop, got away to a great start, hugging the coast to escape a knot of foul current. Onboard are four fathers and five sons, as well as the youngest crew member in the race, Dirk Johnson, Jr. (Middletown, R.I.). At just 16 years of age Johnson has been sailing since he was a baby and has always wanted to sail across an ocean. “I don’t like trimming so much as I find it hard to concentrate. But I love my position as float. I like to get involved everywhere on the boat. I have been sailing short offshore races for a while and I really wanted to do this race,” he explained. “I guess I will miss home comforts the most, especially my Mum’s lamb chops. But all of my family are sailors and this is in my blood.”
The Army Sailing Association’s British Soldier currently leads the fleet on the water and her skipper, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Bate(Falmouth, Cornwall, U.K.), was relishing the challenges that lay ahead, as he commented just before the start.
“The first goal for us is to get around Nantucket Shoals and then we’ll head into the Atlantic proper. I love the open ocean and the big rolling waves. After a day or so the crew will settle into a routine. For me, the most marvelous thing about this race is enjoying the fun and banter with the crew, you just cannot get that anywhere else. There will be difficult times ahead, but we will battle through. We know that we will get some pretty foul weather, but we know that it will improve. The crew of British Soldier are not all highly experienced offshore sailors, but they are all good characters who can keep each other entertained when the going gets tough and I think that is priceless.”
British Soldier at Transatlantic Race Start ( Photo by Amory Ross / Transatlantic Race 2011 )
With just four crew aboard, the German entry Sasha is going extremely well. Owner Albrecht Peters and his wife Erika had a conservative start with their 42’ Olin Stephens design. Eighty years ago another Stephens design, Dorade, won the Transatlantic Race that also started in Newport (finishing in Plymouth, England), and, if the right conditions prevail, Sasha could be extremely competitive after time correction.
Hans Albrecht’s beautiful 86’ yawl, Nordwind, is the oldest boat in the race. Built in 1939, Nordwind has been fully restored by her German owners and sailed 11,000 miles to take part in the Transatlantic Race 2011.
While the high performance yachts that are yet to depart will undoubtedly grab headlines, this group of yachts is worthy of equal praise and the starting area was full of spectator boats wishing them well. The rocky outcrops and grassy hillsides along Fort Adams and Castle Hill were filled with people who cheered the boats on as they crossed the starting line at the Castle Hill Light. Once they leave the shore, it will be several weeks before these yachts will see land again.
For more information, visit http://www.transatlanticrace.org/.
More about the Transatlantic Race 2011
The Transatlantic Race 2011 charts a 2,975 nautical mile course from Newport, R.I., to Lizard Point, South Cornwall, England. Pre-start activities will take place at the New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court clubhouse in Newport, while awards will be presented at the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Cowes Castle clubhouse on the Isle of Wight. Three separate starts – June 26, June 29 and July 3 – will feature 30 boats ranging from 40 to 289 feet in length. In addition to winners in seven classes (IRC Class 1 Racer, IRC Class 2 Racer, IRC Class 3 Racer/Cruiser, IRC Class 4 Racer/Cruiser, Classic, Class 40, and Open), whichever yacht finishes the course with the fastest elapsed time will set the benchmark for a new racing record from Newport to Lizard Point, to be ratified by the World Speed Sailing Council. Rolex watches will be awarded to the record holder and the overall winner (on corrected time) under IRC.
The Transatlantic Race 2011 is also the centerpiece of the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series (AORS), which includes the Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race, RORC Caribbean 600, the Annapolis to Newport Race, Rolex Fastnet Race, Biscay Race and the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Of the seven races in the AORS, three races, including the TR 2011 must be completed to qualify for a series victory. Each race is weighted equally in overall series scoring with the exception of TR 2011, which is weighted 1.5 times. All entered yachts are scored using their two best finishes in addition to the TR 2011. Awards for the AORS will be presented in November, 2011, at the New York Yacht Club’s Annual Awards Dinner in Manhattan
You Can Track The Transatlantic Fleet HERE
Transatlantic Race Fleet at Start ( Photo by Amory Ross / Transatlantic Race 2011 )
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