In just ten days time the final of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia will kick off at The Wave, Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, with six international teams competing for the inaugural title. The Series will end on a high with the Extreme Beach Party, a two day grand finale for the public over the Omani weekend.
Khamis Al Anbouri, bowman on Oman Sail Masirah, currently topping the leaderboard, is looking forward to returning to his home port. “We are pumped up and ready to take on the World!” he laughed. “It’s great to be coming back to Muscat and for the home crowd to see first hand the five other top teams competing on the circuit. They are promised an awesome spectacle.”
Six teams, racing radical 40-foot catamarans, started their battle for the inaugural title in Hong Kong at the end of November, before heading to Singapore mid-December… And now they arrive in the Sultanate of Oman for the grand final that takes place from the 1st-5th February. Global brands such as Red Bull and BT back two of the racing teams, and China has also entered a team for the first time.
Going into the deciding round, Pete Cumming (GBR) and his crew onboard Oman Sail’s Masirah have a 5-point lead over Nick Moloney’s (AUS) BT, tied with new team China Team, skippered by Thierry Barot (FRA). Just one point behind them, also tied, is The Wave, Muscat, helmed by Paul Campbell-James (GBR) with Omani powerhouse Nasser Salim Al Mashari (OMA) as his bowman and newcomer to the Extreme 40 circuit, Red Bull Extreme Sailing, skippered by double Olympic Gold medallist Roman Hagara (AUT) with his Olympic crew Hans-Peter Steinacher (AUT) as tactician. In sixth place is another double Olympic Gold Medallist, Shirley Robertson (GBR) skipper of Rumbo Almería joined by double Olympic Silver Medallist Ian Walker (GBR).
The Extreme 40 multihulls are ‘speed machines’ that race close to shore on tight courses, unlike most sailing events – and in this final event they will be competing in short, exciting, 15-minute races starting each day at The Wave, Muscat from 2pm. Race Director, Gilles Chiorri (FRA) will be throwing everything at the teams including possible speed trials, slalom courses and even some match racing – an interesting prelude to the much-anticipated mammoth multihull battle between America’s Cup antagonists Alinghi and BMW ORACLE Racing. (Note: traditionally match racing is only competed in monohull boats).
His Excellency Eng. Sultan Hamdoon Al Harthi, Head of Muscat Municipality said “The Extreme Sailing Series Asia is the first of a number of high profile sporting events that will be taking place in Oman this year and we are looking forward to watching some of the world’s best sailors compete right on our shoreline. Oman has a rich maritime heritage and this event is a perfect tool to help showcase the potential of the Sultanate as a key sailing location internationally.”
The first three days of racing will be dedicated to hosting VIPs, national and international media, while the 4th and 5th February will see Al-Hail beach, to the West of the capital Muscat, transformed into the ‘Extreme Beach Party’. Each morning from 10am there will be a five-a-side football tournament featuring members of the Omani national football team, winners of the 2009 Gulf Cup of Nations, volleyball matches, the Red Bull Street Style team for the Muscat leg of the international leg of the freestyle football competition, ‘try-sailing’ sessions, as well as family activities, food stands and entertainment.
Roman Hagara, skipper of Red Bull Extreme Sailing, has edged up the leaderboard, finishing second overall in Singapore after a disappointing sixth at the first event in Hong Kong where they struggled to overcome gear failure problems. “We are ready to race and proud to be invited to this beautiful country. It is not our first visit and we look forward to meet a lot of friends. I am sure that we will enjoy it. We expect a competitive but fair race.”
The Asian circuit follows hot on the heels of the award-winning Extreme Sailing Series Europe that, in just three years, has become a top five fixture in the international sailing calendar. The fleet which will race in Muscat includes three double Olympic gold medallists, a double Olympic Silver Medallist, 29 World Championship titles, 9 round the world navigations, 23 Olympic games attended and 10 America’s Cup sailors.
OC Events, organisers of the series, has brought the circuit to the Middle East and Asia for the first time to demonstrate the potential of a full-scale series in 2010/2011. Mark Turner, CEO of OC Group, explained, “Developing a series here in the Middle East is the next step in the evolution of this ground-breaking circuit. Never before has there been top-level racing, right in the heart of cities, within metres of the shore, designed to entertain the public, media and VIP’s – not just other sailors. It’s unique for the cities and it is unique for our sport.
“The GCC region is ideal for high-integrity sailing events and we are bringing the circuit here to demonstrate to key stakeholders and the media what a full scale circuit with top level on-water action coupled with high-end VIP corporate hospitality and an all-inclusive shore side entertainment package can deliver. The Muscat event promises to be a spectacular conclusion to this inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia.”
The Extreme Sailing Series Asia: Muscat is supported by the Muscat Municipality and Oman Sail, the Ministry of Tourism backed initiative to reignite the Sultanate’s maritime heritage and inspire young Omanis to achieve their potential through sailing.
Current standings after two events:
1 – Oman Sail Masirah: Pete Cumming (GBR)
2 – BT: Nick Moloney (AUS)
3 – China Team: Thierry Barot (FRA)
4 – The Wave, Muscat: Paul Campbell-James (GBR)
5 – Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team: Roman Hagara (AUT)
6 – Rumbo Almería: Shirley Robertson (GBR)
It was all clear at the top of the leaderboard at the end of five days of racing in Singapore under a kaleidoscope of weather as Oman Sail’s Masirah took their second consecutive win at the Extreme Sailing Series Asia. But the battle for second raged on through the afternoon with Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team finally taking second place with The Wave, Muscat in third.
The final day of racing in Singapore started with a light two knot wind and the six teams tactically fighting their way around the racecourse, searching for the best possible winds. The skippers and crews were tested by the Race Committee as they began two races with the more challenging downwind starts as the wind picked up to a more consistent 10 knots. But just before the start of the fifth and final race of the day, there was plenty of drama as a thunderstorm struck the reservoir soaking the sailors and the VIP guests onboard to the skin.
The heavy downpour was relentless, forcing the Race Committee to abandon the race and the day’s sailing for safety reasons as lightening powered down over Marina Reservoir. With the abandonment called, the calculators were out as the valuable last race double points were added to the previous race, but Masirah remained firm at the top of the leaderboard, continuing their domination of the Extreme 40 fleet. This win capitalises on their European crown in November and their win two weeks ago in the first leg of this Asian circuit in Hong Kong at the end of November.
Pete Cumming, skipper of Masirah, commented, “It’s been a really good week for the team and we are thrilled with the win. We would like to thank the Singapore Authorities for giving us the opportunity to sail here and to everyone who helped to make this event possible.”
With racing every afternoon, the past five days have been busy for the international fleet of Extreme 40 sailors. Every morning they have taken VIP and media guests out sailing on the reservoir, to experience first hand what it is like to race onboard an Extreme 40. Guests have included government officials, TV crews, journalists, key opinion formers from the business and sailing worlds here in Singapore, as well as youth sailors in the Singapore Olympic sailing squad.
Masirah’s win brings their score in the overall Extreme Sailing Series Asia scoreboard to a perfect 12, but the real battle is for second place with four teams in contention. BT and China Team and tied in second place with 7 points apiece and Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team and The Wave, Muscat just behind with 6.
Paul Campbell-James, The Wave, Muscat:
Hugh Styles, Helm, China Team:
Thierry Barot, Skipper, China Team:
Pete Cumming, Skipper, Masirah:
“Two regattas down, one to go and probably the most exciting one for the team as we are going to sail in our home waters in Muscat. We are really looking forward to the final event in Oman. A chance to sail in our home waters, it is going to be great to sail in front of our home crowds, we are hoping a lot of peole to come down and support us and the Omn Sail project and a chance for the team to see where they can get with their sailing. We are trying to inspire the young Omanis and for them to see these great boats come back to Muscat will be great.”
“The weather fits our style, we are light winds specialists and we had some good starts. It was a good day for us. It has been really nice here, with a great backdrop with the big wheel and close to the F1 racetrack. It is really, really outstanding and I hope we come back here next year.
Final Leaderboard for Round 2 at Singapore:
Overall Leaderboard after Round 1 & 2:
As the inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia gets off to a successful start in Hong Kong (20-24 November), OC Events, organisers of the Extreme Sailing Series, take a look back at the highlights of the 2009 iShares Cup, revealing the key statistics from the series third season, and preview the 2010 European Extreme Sailing Series.
For the planned six events in 2010, four countries are already confirmed, with events taking place in the UK, Germany, France and Spain. Venue announcements will be made over the coming months, but it can be confirmed today that the final round of the Extreme Sailing Series 2010 will take place in the region of Andalucia, Spain, at the port of Almeria over the national holiday weekend in mid-October.
Almeria hosted the 2009 finalé and recently published the results of an Economic Impact Report produced by the Council of Tourism, Commerce and Sport for Andalucia confirming that the event had generated 2.7m Euros of return on their investment. Over 75,000 spectators attended the Spanish event in October this year. A total of 15,000 tourists visited the city, 92% visiting because of the event and 80% of visitors expressed their intention to return. Hotel occupancy was up by 19.2 per cent compared to the same time in 2008, with more than 606,000 overnight stays. The visitors scored the event 8.1 points out of 10, considering the event to be ‘well organised’.
Seven teams who competed in the 2009 European series have already expressed their commitment to return in 2010 ahead of the publication of the official Notice of Race.
The full media evaluation report of the 2009 iShares Cup will be published shortly by independent agency Havas Insight. In the meantime, enjoy some of the key statistics from the highly successful 2009 circuit that saw 48 of the world’s best sailors compete in 108 races across six European venues with only two capsizes, compared to five in 2008, but six collisions…!
To find out more about the current Extreme Sailing Series Asia, CLICK HERE…
2009 FACTS AND FIGURES:
BT (EUR) – Nick Moloney (AUS)
Ecover (EUR) – Mike Golding (GBR)
Holmatro (NED) – Carolijn Brouwer (BEL)
iShares (EUR) – Shirley Robertson (GBR)
Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild (FRA) – Yann Guichard (FRA)
Groupama 40 (FRA) – Franck Cammas (FRA)
LUNA (FRA) – Erik Maris (FRA)
Oman Sail Masirah (OMA) – Pete Cumming (GBR)
Oman Sail Renaissance (OMA) – Loïck Peyron (FRA)
BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) – James Spithill (AUS) (Venice/Hyères only)
WIRSOL Team Germany Kiel Sailing City – Roland Gabler (GER) (Kiel only)
Rumbo Almeria – Fernando Echavarri (ESP) (Almeria only)
48 sailors across 12 teams
52 World Championships
7 Olympic medalists (4 Gold)
27 America’s Cup participations
17 Round the World navigations
11 different nationalities
108 races: Venice 17; Hyéres 19; Cowes 20; Kiel 19; Amsterdam 17: Almeria 16
Regatta wins: Oman Sail Masirah 4 (Hyéres, Cowes, Kiel, Almeria); Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild 2 (Venice, Amsterdam)
Number of 1st places: Oman Sail Masirah 36; Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild 19; Oman Sail Renaissance 16 (9 out of the 12 teams, all scored 1 or more race wins during the season)
Best number of race wins per venue: Oman Sail Masirah 11 (Cowes); Oman Sail Renaissance 5 (Kiel, Amsterdam); Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild 5 (Almeria)
2 capsizes: Holmatro at Cowes (practice day); Ecover at Kiel, day 1 (5 capsizes in 2008)
6 collisions: Oman Sail Renaissance hit Ecover (Hyéres); Team iShares hit spectator boat (Cowes); Oman Sail Renaissance hit WIRSOL Team Germany (Kiel) and Gitana Extreme hit WIRSOL Team Germany (Kiel); Oman Sail Renaissance hit Ecover (Amsterdam, practice day); BT hit Oman Sail Masirah (Amsterdam)
7 disqualifications: Groupama 40 (Venice); Oman Sail Renaissance (Kiel); Holmatro, Team iShares and BT (Amsterdam); LUNA and Team iShares (Almeria)
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
(2007 x 4 rounds / 2008 x 5 rounds)
(2007 57,000 / 2008 150,000)
2,124 VIP guests were entertained in the VIP facilities at the six events in 2009
93% of VIP guests agreed that the iShares Cup fell within the top three events they had ever attended.
Dee and Brian completed the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race from Le Havre, France to Costa Rica onboard Aviva. The first week of the race saw the fleet battle through some extreme weather conditions and subsequent damage to boats forced four Open 60’s, including fellow British sailor Alex Thomson, to retire from racing.
Dee and Brian had their fair share of problems but were able to replace a lost wind instrument in a becalmed period. Generator issues meant that both sailors had to hand steer for the majority of the time as they were without the pilot, however, a speedy pit stop in St Lucia for a generator part enabled them to get powered back up and stay in the race. Towards the final stages, the duo raced hard to finish in 8th position from an original fleet of fourteen IMOCA Open 60 yachts that started the transatlantic race 19 days ago. In the last few hours of the race Aviva experienced very light winds making for a frustrating and protracted finish into the port of Limon.
The Transat Jacques Vabre was the last of the races validated by IMOCA in the two year Open 60 season and Aviva’s result earned additional points for both Dee and Brian. Out of 33 skippers, Caffari was ranked 6th, in her first full IMOCA season, and Thompson 8th. The World Championship title was won by Marc Guillemot, skipper of Safran.
“To have finished 6th in the IMOCA rankings, alongside noted sailors like Michel Desjoyeaux and Marc Guillemot is an added bonus and makes me very proud of how much Aviva and I have achieved in the past two years.”
On arriving at the dock in Port Limon, Dee said:
“ The race was long and it was hard, in three different parts, the beginning and the stormy stuff, getting sorted out and then the finale in the Caribbean Sea. So it was very eventful, highs and lows. We have things to deal with and obviously a frustrating finish, but to be this close at the end of a race has been cool.
This is in a different league to my last Transat Jacques Vabre. Sailing with Brian has been great. He is cool and calm and you think: ‘ok this is fine and you get on with it.' So the intensity I have dealt with is much greater than I am used to. It was a much more enjoyable race than the Vendée Globe, and it was nice to be in among the people who were leading. The company I am keeping now is something I never even dreamed of. Now I want to carry on. I need to find the backing but I feel like I am growing at such a speed. This was a great race to do, you learn so much with the right person on board.”
Having now had chance to enjoy the creature comforts of dry land, like a shower, fresh food, a long sleep in a real bed and interaction with lots of people all at once, I have had chance to reflect on the race.
Having worked so hard and held such good positions during the race eighth place was disappointing at the time. The reality is that any of the four boats finishing with us could have finished in fifth and any order could have followed. We were in squall territory and it was a certain amount of luck for the final few miles. Even the conversations ashore with the other skippers and people involved in the race have all been talking about our huge gains at the end and also how fast we were at the start and during the big storm we all faced during the first week. This has off course made me feel better and I cannot deny I loved sailing Aviva again in a big race and it was great sailing with Brian. We had some problems to face and we did it all in a positive manner and had huge fun as well as the hard sailing together.
Now we are preparing the boat for the delivery home. Hannah Jenner and Katy Miller are busy helping with jobs on the boat to learn their way around as they will be joining James and Harry for the trip home. Let’s hope they will be home for Christmas. I know Aviva will look after them and I am confident that they will look after her well for me.
On arriving at the dock in Port Limon, Brian Thompson said:
“It was an interesting place to have the stealth play. There were light winds to the south on the more direct course, so people were deciding how far north to go, and we went a fairly direct course. It turned out there was a front which came through from Panama which gained us, we got through it early in the day and had clear skies for the rest of the day. Then we had nice sailing for the afternoon, maybe a little slower but we sailed less miles. But then we were next to W-Hotels and we thought it was Akena, but it was W-Hotels who had been 100 miles ahead. Then we were in constant squalls one after the other and were never becalmed until right near the end. They must have had the one squall which drove them all the way in.
It was a perfect, swashbuckling finale to bring the ninth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre two handed transatlantic race towards its final conclusion. Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier played the starring roles some days ago, Guillemot the hero of the Vendée Globe winning the top prize, but the final full day of racing proved a cliffhanger.
After over 5,300 miles and nearly 20 days of racing, when all four protagonists, scrapping over 5th to 8th places emerged from the cover of stealth mode at 1000hrs GMT/UTC (0400hrs local) this morning, less than eight miles separated fifth placed Veolia Environnement (Roland Jourdain and Jean Luc Nélias) from seventh placed Aviva (Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson).
And Akéna Vérandas (Arnaud Boissieres and Vincent Riou) was a further 15.1 miles behind the British duo
Having held fifth place for five days – since they broke into the Caribbean – the Spanish duo on W-Hotels, were never going to give it away easily.
Passed for the second time in the final 12 hours by Veolia Environnement, when the French duo rocketed off into the rainy gloom of yet another squall, on the strength of a sail change the Spanish pair just could not make in the gusty 25 knots breeze, they felt that they were destined for sixth.
But their determination never wavered.
The next squall brought them back to rescue their fifth, arriving like a spectre from out of the murk at 17-18 knots to haunt Veolia for the third and final time, just half a mile from the finish.
It was perhaps appropriate that the surprised Spaniards – on their own voyage of discovery, racing an IMOCA Open 60 for the first time ever – cemented their success arriving Puerto Limon, in the wake of their legendary forebear Christopher Columbus who sailed to the New World in here in 1502.
Ribes and Pella finished four minutes and 16 second ahead of their French rivals, exhausted but pleased to have taken fifth, in between two of the most successful IMOCA Open 60 racing skippers, Michel Desjoyeaux and Jourdain.
They had only sailed together for a few days before embarking on this race, and learned as they came down the track. Standing smiling in the torrential rain on the dockside they admitted to many mistakes and ‘beginners errors’ but they can be justly proud of their result in this highest quality field.
The Spanish were delighted. But there was disappointment for Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson on Aviva. At one point they were, according to Ribes, 100 metres away from Aviva.
They waited for the British pair to tack and, in the end, chose to do their own thing, gaining 15 miles in to the finish.
The British pair slowed in a final light zone, losing out to Akéna Vérandas in the last stages to finish eighth, just 27 minutes behind the 2004-5 Vendée Globe winner Vincent Riou and skipper Arnaud Boissieres.
Caffari and Thompson’s disappointment in losing out in the high stakes scuffle, which was largely carried out in torrential tropical rain and changeable winds, was obvious but Caffari reflected enthusiastically on how much she has improved since she competed in the last edition in 2007 as an IMOCA greenhorn.
All four boats finished within just over three and a half hours. 1876 was due to finish by around 1800hrs GMT and Sam Davies and Sidney Gavignet on Artemis later tonight.
Pepe Ribes, (ESP), W-Hotels:
“ The last 36 hours have been no sleep, no eating, nothing. We played the stealth card and so did everyone else at the same time. And when we played the stealth it was the first time that we saw a boat, with Veolia just crossing our bows, that was yesterday morning. Then since then we passed them once and then they passed us again, then we passed them again just half a mile from the finish line. I really don’t know what made the difference in the end. We went to the beach and then we saw Aviva, who were very close to us, only 50 metres away.
We went with Aviva to the beach and we waited for them to tack but they did not tack, and so we tacked and from there we were reaching really, really fast maybe 18-19 knots.
Then we saw a light and thought it was a cruising boat. We were sure Veolia were way ahead. In one of the squalls they managed to drop their spinnaker and put up their masthead genoa and go straight, so we had to bear away. So they left. And when we saw a green light we thought it was a cruising boat. I looked with the binos and told Alex and we could not believe.”
“ I think it is good result for us, very very good. We were not expecting such a good result at all. We did not know the level, and for me I thought between tenth and fourteenth and we finished fifth, so, fantastic. It is a good result for me, and I hope for Spain.”
“ I feel very, very tired. But we made many, many mistakes. At the beginning, not so much now. We made a lot of mistakes and lost a lot of miles. But we are going forwards.”
“ I think we were pushing the boat very, very hard and broke a lot of things. We were good together. We tried to share everything and learn about each other. He has a lot of strong points and I have strong points and it works well. He is more like an offshore sailor, more relaxed and I am more go, go, go. It is a good mix, I am always 100%. We pushed, I don’t care, I sail it like a Volvo boat, we keep pushing and I don’t care if the boat breaks.”
“But we made mistakes, it is double handed and it is new for us.”
Alex Pella (ESP) W-Hotels:
“ The boat is OK, but we broke a lot of small things, the spinnaker. We had problems with the pilots, sometimes they worked, sometimes they did not work. But we fived them with a spare compass, and they worked, and then two days later they did not. But the boat is nice and work towards the Barcelona World Race.
Pepe is a very good sailor. He has so much experience and pushes very hard, he has experience with the Volvo boats which helped, and I learned so much from sailing with Pepe.”
“ On the one hand he is a very methodical guy, very ordered but he wants to push all the time, to push hard.”
“ At the beginning of the race we had decided to go south, but then when we saw some going west, we said ok we try to catch this option but it was too late. In fact there was a time when we tried but we were too late. We went with the wrong option.
But we are here!”
“ Foncia and Akena went further south. We had a maximum of 50 knots in the third storm and big waves.”
“ I am really, really happy. We are hear to learn the boat. This is a training for the Barcelona World Race and here we are in Costa Rica, it is incredible….in between Foncia and Veolia. It is fantastic!”
Dee Caffari (GBR) Aviva:
“ The race was long and it was hard, in three different parts, the beginning and the stormy stuff, getting sorted out and then the final in the Caribbean Sea. So it was very eventful, highs and lows. We have things to deal with and obviously a frustrating finish, but to be this close at the end of a race has been cool.
This is in a different league to my last Transat Jacques Vabre. Sailing with Brian has been great. He is cool and calm and you think: ‘ok this is fine and you get on with it.’ So the intensity I have dealt with is much greater than I am used to. It was a much more enjoyable race than the Vendée Globe, and it was nice to be in among the people who were leading. The company I am keeping now is something I never even dreamed of..
Now I want to carry on. I need to find the backing but I feel like I am growing at such a speed. This was a great race to do, you learn so much with the right person on board.”
Brian Thompson (GBR) Aviva:
“It was an interesting place to have the stealth play. Ther were light winds to the south on the more direct course, so people were deciding how far north to go, and we went a fairly direct course. It turned out there was a front which came through from Panama which gained us, we got through it early in the day and had clear skies for the rest of the day. Then when had nice sailing for the afternoon, maybe a little slower but we sailed less miles. But then we were next to W-Hotels and we thought it was Akenas, but it was W-Hotels who had been 100 miles ahead. Then we were in constant squalls one after the other and were never becalmed until right near the end. They must have had the one squall which drove them all the way in.”
“Before, it was the English, now we have the Spanish! It was hard.! It was tough but fun, a great race for first place in this second group! It was intense with many challenges. We knew this course would be more varied in terms of the different weather conditions and that really was the case. We even had our small technical pit stop, we like them with Jean-Luc. That’s why I plan to make stages races. We would like to have played with the top of the fleet. The technical stop we could have done without. We did not think it would cost us. We were optimistic but saw time slipping.
Marco went very fast and I agree they went the right way, with the good options, but they went really, really fast.
Yesterday morning it was hell. We waited for the wind from the east and north and had southerly. We saw a boat behind and managed to escape. Yesterday evening we saw it again and gybed away. In a squall we tacked and put five miles on them. And then this morning we were sitting all but still and a racing car arrived, someone so quick we thought it was a motor boat.”
“But our boat is OK, it went well but on the other hand it is not a new boat. Veolia has gaps compared with the new boats. We still go well and make results because I know this Mobylette but it is nevertheless frustrating.”
Jean-Luc Nélias, FRA (Veolia Environnement):
“We passed W-Hotels in a squall, but they negotiated them better. When we cam out from stealth, we realized we had made five miles on them, and then this morning we took another squall and got it back. From a result point of view we are not that happy. We could have battled it out with boats such as Mike Golding but the others are faster. It is nevertheless frustrating because out mainsail mast track was broken. The first reef has been very useful. But we are glad we got here. We laughed a lot with Bilou. It was a good adventure.”
Breaking the finish line at 11:41:44hrs GMT Friday 27th November (05:41:44hrs local time, Costa Rica) after sailing for 18d 22hrs 11mins 44seconds at an 10.41knots average for the theoretical course (4730 miles) since leaving Le Havre on Sunday 8th November, Spain’s Pepe Ribes and Alex Pella on W-Hotels took fifth place in the IMOCA Open 60 class in the ninth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre two handed Transatlantic race. Ribes and Pella sailed a distance of 5790 miles at an average of 12.75kts.
W-Hotels finish 3 days 2 hours 49 minutes 34 seconds behind the winner Safran.
Breaking the finish line at 11:46:00hrs GMT Friday 27th November (05:46:00hrs local time, Costa Rica) after sailing for 18d 22hrs 16mins 00 seconds at an 10.41 knots average for the theoretical course (4730 miles) since leaving Le Havre on Sunday 8th November, France’s Roland Jourdain and Jean Luc Nélias on Veolia Environnement took sixth place in the IMOCA Open 60 class in the ninth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre two handed Transatlantic race. Jourdain and Nélias sailed a distance of 5734miles at an average of 12.52kts.
Veolia Environnement finish 3 days 2 hours 53 minutes and 50 seconds behind the winner Safran.
Breaking the finish line at 14:50:12hrs GMT Friday 27th November (08:50:12hrs local time, Costa Rica) after sailing for 19d 1h 20m 12s seconds at an 10.34 knots average for the theoretical course (4730 miles) since leaving Le Havre on Sunday 8th November, France’s Arnaud Boissières and Vincent Riou on Akena Veranda took seventh place in the IMOCA Open 60 class in the ninth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre two handed Transatlantic race. Boissières and Riou sailed a distance of
5823miles at an average of 12.73kts.
Akéna Vérandas finished 3days 05hours 58min 02s seconds behind the winner Safran.
Breaking the finish line at 15:17:12hrs GMT Friday 27th November (09:17:12hrs local time, Costa Rica) after sailing for 19d 1h 46m 12s seconds at an 10.33 knots average for the theoretical course (4730 miles) since leaving Le Havre on Sunday 8th November, Great Britain’s Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson on Aviva took eighth place in the IMOCA Open 60 class in the ninth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre two handed Transatlantic race.
Caffari and Thompson sailed a distance of 5700 miles at 12,45 knots average .
Aviva finished 3d 06h 25min 02secs behind the winner Safran.
Extreme Sailing Series Asia, Hong Kong Day Four. All change at the top of the leaderboard as Oman Sail Masirah dominated the fleet, winning four out of five races, and snatching the lead from BT. Shirley Robertson’s ‘Rumbo Almeria’ is currently lying in third overall. The final day of racing takes place tomorrow followed by the prize giving in the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.
With four wins in five races, the European Extreme Sailing Series Champion skipper Pete Cumming was pleased with their performance today, “We are racing with 50% of our original crew so to be back at the top of the leaderboard is real testament to how hard our new crew members Khamis [Alanbouri] and Leigh [McMillan] are gelling with the team. Khamis, in particular, has had a brilliant day. Every day he is improving and it is really satisfying to see him become an integral part of our team. This is only his third full day of top level competitive racing and we aren’t going easy on him, putting him in tough racing conditions but he’s rising to the challenge each and every time.”
It was the last race of the day that was the undoing for the team as Pete Cumming explained. “It was a school boy error and a lesson that you only need to learn once. We had a bad furl at the mark and were too focussed on the mark rounding and not on getting the kite away correctly. It’s tough in these race conditions, but we are all learning from our mistakes and it won’t happen again.”
For BT it was a disappointing day having dominated the previous two days racing in both the longer Around the Island Race and the shorter, sharper racing more familiar to these professional Extreme 40 teams.
Too late to play cat and mouse….. it seems like Safran – the super light, quick IMOCA Open 60 boat the sponsors like to call the ‘jet fighter’ – will have devoured Groupe Bel by the time that the Transat Jacques Vabre leader appears from under the cover of ‘Stealth Mode’ to cross the finish line off Puerto Rica this evening to take a well deserved, hard earned victory.
Both of the leading pair, Safran and Groupe Bel, pressed the stealth button in unison together to complete their final miles away from the public tracking system, but at eight this morning Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier-Bénac were already champions elect, with a 90 miles lead and less than 200 miles of the gruelling 4730 miles course from Le Havre to the finish off Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.
While Bel was last seen tracking slightly north in search of some last minute bonus miles as the trade winds fold, Safran was steadily rolling down towards the finish line, on the verge of a significant triumph. Second in the last edition of the race in 2007 and an heroic third on the last Vendée Globe when Guillemot brought the wounded Safran the final 1000 miles with no keel, Safran has lead this race since Thursday 12th, before battling through the storm of Friday 13th.
Guillemot was predicting a slightly ‘sluggish’ finish in light winds, but could not see any obvious reason why their long time rivals Kito de Pavant and Francois Gabart on Groupe Bel should close that significant gap.
“We still have a few more gybes to go and the final 50 miles look like being rather sluggish, but the lead we currently have allows us to remain composed. The lead over Groupe Bel could be cut, but we’re certainly not going to give anything away now.” Guillemot told his team today, happy with the routing they have taken since leaving the English Channel 14 days ago,
“We know that we have left a smooth trail in our wake. As not everything can be done by the two of us together, on the weather it was Charles, who did most of the work picking up and analysing the data. Then, we took decisions together. We always agreed about them.”
And they have always pushed extremely hard:
“With one or two exceptions, we always sailed with the maximum amount of sail. That requires a lot of energy. It really drained our reserves to carry out these manoeuvres and there were many of them. If we do manage to win, it will certainly feel good, as we really gave it our all throughout this race.”
Built-in reliability has been one of the keys to the two leaders successes this race After being hobbled by gear problems, not least a damaged main sail mast track in the Vendee Globe, Guillemot reports that their only damage is to their big spinnaker and slight mainsail damage.
The battle for line honours, between Crepes Whaou! – the Multi50 – and Safran is in the balance. While Franck-Yves Escoffier was relishing the chance to beat the monohulls home, the three times winner of the Route du Rhum and twice winner of his class in this race, is keen to break the finish tape first.
Mike Golding’s power problems have continued and the British skipper and his Spanish co-skipper Javier Sanso have been unable to start their engine for the last 48 hours and so are running with next to no electrical power. Mike Golding Yacht Racing had acceded a few miles to fourth placed Foncia but still has over just under 200 miles in hand over the double Vendée Globe winner with 412 miles to go to the finish. Foncia has been consistently quicker, while Golding’s avowed intent recently was simply to get across the finish with his boat and the podium finish intact.
Spanish fortunes are both climbing and declining. Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes on W-Hotels are positively buoyant with their speed on the Farr design, making miles all the time on Veolia Envirinnement and Aviva. Adding more sail area, to the main and their spinnakers, is paying a regular dividend as is their hard driving style. Meantime 1876 was just emerging back into the trade winds again but has dropped to ninth
Franck-Yves Escoffier (FRA) Crepes Whaou:
“Yes we are still hoping to get in before the IMOCA’s, even if our chances are reduced a little, we are little quicker on a straight course, but at night we tend to take the foot off the accelerator. But we are always truthful that our aim, that is for sure. When it happens, whoever is first – us or the IMOCA’s – there will not be very much in it. We think we will arrive during the night (Costa Rica time) But a little mouse told us there will not be much wind when we are arriving so nothing is for sure. We have fed flying fish with Whaou Crepes, they seem to like them because they keep coming back to the boat.
When we get there I will be congratulating the Crepes Whaou designers, saying to Vincent, to Erwan, Kévin and the others, that we have been on a boat which is great. It is good and looks good, which is good because I wanted a boat which was faster and more powerful, and I think that goal has been met.”
Marc Guillemot (FRA) Safran:
“All is good on Safran. We decided to go in stealth mode. We thought about it while passing through the West Indies, then thought about it yesterday but finally we went for it today. I understand it can be frustrating for those on shore, but it adds a bit of spice. But it’s a card to be played and it would be stupid not to use it before the end. There was a difference of 90 miles and with 250 miles to go, I don’t think we needed it or it will help in any way, there no great gains to be made. I don’t think we need to worry unduly about big surprises, unless Kito and Francois expect a big surprise. For the moment we have not really looked too closely at the weather forecasts to the finish, we are happy to be just racing in and to trim the sails. We kind of saw this time coming a couple of days ago. And we don’t have to do too much to push the boat. We have not really thought about breaking the finish line. Over this race focus has been 100% on the sporting result, there have been no side adventures, since the start gun the focus has just been on getting to the finish. These boats are very demanding, they require a lot of hard work to make them go. The physical effort has been great and we are tired of all the manoeuvres. If Crepes Whaou! get in first, so be it, it won’t bother me. And it would be good for Franck-Yves and Erwan but what interests us is in getting in before Groupe Bel and the others. They are a different class and did a different course.”
Yves Parlier (FRA) 1876:
“We have finally reached the trade winds and now have a much better speed, but we have been through some areas of terrible calms for the last 24 hours. We have started to have really hot conditions; there is a lot of light but not a cloud in sight. Yesterday it was 35º inside the boat, and now it is 32 with no shade at all. We have water so there is no worry of being dehydrated. However for the connections and the screens the pilots are broken, and so right now I am at the chart table and trying to drive at the same time with the only pilot that is working still. I am lying down at the bottom of the boat, head up looking at then gennaker through one window and when I want to correct the pilot I have to move, but at least I am in the shade! Pachi has just had a short rest as he has spent a lot of time taking the pilots apart and trying to repair them.”
“We are not too surprised that we were overtaken as until just a while ago we were only making two knots. But the road is still long and we hope not to lose any more positions, and even try and win something!”
Pepe Ribes (ESP) W-Hotels:
“Things are going extremely well. It is downwind in the Caribbean Sea, spinnaker, shorts and beautiful sailing here today. We are a bit surprised by our downwind speed, the last five or six days. In the Istanbul Race we were able to keep up with some of the boat here but now we faster than them, so the changes we have made are paying off.
We have a new main, much bigger, 17 sq m, and we have changed to downwind Quantum Sails, and so little by little we are getting better.”
“We are pushing very hard, the others will be doing the same. But it is hard, 12 hours every day on deck, the secret to be fast is not to use the auto-pilot, to steer as much as possible, you have to steer.”
“I think we are OK, a long way to go. We are maybe 50 miles to leeward of Veolia and maybe 120 miles to leeward of Aviva and it is a downwind race. We are sailing fast and in a good position.”
“ We share everything. Normally Alex pulls the grib files when he is off watch, but at the moment I am doing the weather. And we are sharing everything, we share the helm and just keep changing. We have little problems with the batteries and so on, but I hope we will be able to sort it out and have no more problems.”
In between the simple routine of just keeping their boats at maximum speed in the right direction, and picking their way as best they can, there is a certain quiet satisfaction underpinning the efforts of the top three duos in the IMOCA Open 60 fleet as these Transat Jacques Vabre leaders set themselves up to break into the Caribbean.
That is not to say that any of them have already accepted their position now will be the same when they cross the finish line off Costa Rica’s Puerto Limon, but with the gap between leader Safran and second placed Groupe Bel grown by 20 miles to 81 miles early this morning, and the margin between Bel and Mike Golding Yacht Racing, in turn 82 miles, then each feels they have breathing space which they perhaps did not expect this morning.
Instead of the expected initial compression, in fact Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier slipped away another 20 miles overnight on Safran, a gain which surprised Guillemot’s co-skipper enough to wonder this morning if their pursuers had a technical problem.
But in fact Safran has just had more a little more wind.
Satisfaction, such as it is, aboard Mike Golding Yacht Racing comes from being back in something closer to full racing shape after British skipper Golding spent much of yesterday night dealing with an electrical charging issue which firstly meant they could not start the engine, which then developed so they had a complete power failure.
But for his hard day’s night and recuperation yesterday Golding has remedied their problems and was pleased to be back in a more competitive mode early this morning.
Winds for the leaders are still very up and down, variable in direction. The leading trio have anything between seven and 12 knots this morning and winds will drop more at times as they approach the arc of West Indies islands
But the gap back to Michel Desjoyeaux and Jérémie Beyou has also opened another 20 miles to 290 miles between Mike Golding Yacht Racing and Desjoyeaux’s Foncia. Golding said his preference this morning would be to have been a little more south, but given his problems yesterday that has not been possible.
Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson creep closer to fifth all the time, this morning getting to less than 17 miles of Veolia Environnement their slightly more southerly position has been beneficial to the British Aviva duo, but both were slowed to less than ten knots this morning.
Battle continues in the middle order of the Transat Jacques Vabre
After successfully regaining sixth place yesterday and battling hard to maintain their position overnight, Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson onboard Aviva have narrowly lost out to 1876 in this morning’s polling.
The three boats currently in the middle of the fleet – 1876, Veolia Environnement and Aviva – are all positioned within 15 miles of each other and with over 2000 miles of the route to Costa Rica remaining, the battle for fifth to seventh place is set to continue.
The 10h00 race ranking positioned Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson, onboard Aviva, in seventh place, 575 miles behind race leader Safran.
“We have just spent darkness coasting along in a dying breeze under a canopy of bright stars. Flat water and warm temperatures have made it an uneventful but also a wonderful night’s sailing.
As predicted we will be fighting light airs with those around us. If we can keep working hard and keep at the front of this little group then we will reach the stronger breeze about 36 hours quicker. It is amazing getting a grib file now for weather information and realising how far we have come because we are also getting the Caribbean weather too.
To play tribute to this particularly tropical theme we also celebrated shower day onboard Aviva. So now she and her dynamic duo smell of roses as you would expect.”
Franco-Spanish duo Yves Parlier and Pachi Rivero are on good form this morning, making west at good speed in good breeze. On the quickest boat in the fleet just now, 1876 Rivero remarked that they will make their move south later today, but just 40 miles of DTF (distance to finish) separates fifth from eighth.
Mike Golding (GBR) Mike Golding Yacht Racing: “We had a problem, a big problem. As the batteries got low the engine would not start, and so the engine start batteries had not been getting trickle charge and so the engine would not start. That created an earthing problem on the engine as well, and so with no engine…no lights, nothing at all. It was pretty dodgy for a while. The switchboard 12v charger has blown, we had a spare but it has blown as well, so what I had to do was lift one of the main batteries out of the bank and use it to start the engine, so that took up most of yesterday night and the boat was a complete tip after that. So yesterday was spent getting tidied and getting the boat moving again, so so far tonight has been relatively quiet. We had no electronics, no navigation, no electronics, and it was pitch dark and so trying to see the wheel compass is hopeless. So we have ended up where we are. I am not especially pleased…we are where we are, we should be further forwards, we should be further south, but we are where we are.
I think there may still be some options and opportunities, but meantime we do need to make sure we get out of this light stuff. We probably haven’t done the job we wanted to to get out of it, we are doing 10 knots just now and probably have eight knots of breeze.”
Charles Caudrelier Bénac (FRA) Safran: “ It is going very well. We are trying in a way to understand what is going on because we expected less wind but that is not so. There must be a reason why we have gained so many miles on Groupe Bel during the night, maybe they have some technical problems?
We had a good night, between 10 and 15 knots, rolling along, and it makes good speed. We did two or three watches of three hours each and made no sail changes so it did not go too badly, and there are no clouds or squalls. But on the other hand the trade winds are broken down, and if there are no clouds during the day it will be hard because there will be no wind.
We are 1500 miles from the finish and it is just great. We can still break things if there are stronger trade winds, and there will be many manoeuvres before we get there.”
“The passage through the West Indies arc? Well it can make a big difference and we have already chosen, but we are not telling anything……”