Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Lijia Xu (CHN) were named the male and female winners of the 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards at a ceremony held at the Mansion House, Dublin, Ireland on Tuesday 6 November.
The ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards takes place during the International Sailing Federation’s (ISAF) Annual Conference, which this year is being held in Dun Laoghaire. The award ceremony welcomes the pinnacle of the sailing world including sailors, officials and conference delegates.
The annual Awards, sponsored by Rolex since 2001, are the highest honour a sailor can receive and is recognition of achievement in a twelve-month period, in this case from 1 September 2011 to 31 August 2012.
Competition for the 2012 Awards was formidable, with four outstanding female and five equally exceptional male candidates short-listed from a list of nominations made by the public at large. The winners were decided by the votes of the over 130 Member National Authorities of ISAF. Suspense was maintained until the very last minute, with the nominees and guests unaware who had won until the official announcement itself.
Ben Ainslie (GBR) – History Boy
The greatest of his generation. Four Olympic gold medals and now as many ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards. Ben Ainslie is the most successful Olympic sailor of all time. The 35-year old’s achievement at London 2012 elevated him to five Olympic medals (four gold, one silver), surpassing Rolex Testimonee Paul Elvstrøm (DEN), winner of four gold medals between 1948 and 1960. On receiving the award, Ainslie paid tribute to the team that has supported him: “Winning the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year award is a huge honour, especially for everyone who has helped me. There is a huge team in the background from family, friends, coaches and sponsors who helped make it happen. It is an honour to be part of such a group of exceptional sailors who were put forward for this award.”
Ainslie headed into his home Olympics under a colossal weight of expectation. He was given the honour of welcoming the Olympic torch on its arrival in the United Kingdom, and was chosen as the first of 8,000 torchbearers. Fittingly, after making history on the waters off Weymouth, Ainslie was selected as Team GB’s flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony. “To take part in a home Olympics was a completely unique experience,” reflected Ainslie. “I have never felt quite the same level of expectation but also level of support.”
Once competition started, it was another Dane – Jonas Høgh-Christensen – who contrived to stand between Ainslie and his fourth Olympic Gold. Ainslie began the 2012 competition better than any previous Games, but not as well as Christensen. Ainslie needed to react and he used a racecourse incident during the second half of the week to channel his competitive energy. The reigning Olympic champion found a new level, won two of the last four races and went into the decisive medal race needing to beat the relentless Dane but avoid conceding too many points to his other closest rivals. In front of a partisan crowd and following a nail-biting encounter, Ainslie emerged victorious. He cut an exhausted and emotional figure on the finish line. “These Olympics were not that easy for me, sometimes it flows, sometimes you have to fight for it,” he admitted. “It was tough fight all the way to the finish. Taking the gold medal in front of a home crowd – I don’t think I will ever experience an emotion quite like that again.”
Ainslie has been at the top for 20 years, enduring enormous self-sacrifice in his quest for perfection. A pursuit that involves never giving an inch in training sessions and a relentless competition schedule. His remarkable career has seen him claim nine European titles and ten world championships – the first back in 1993. Few sportsmen, in any discipline, have been at the forefront of their profession for such a sustained period.
He has given the sport some of its finest moments including two epic battles with Rolex Testimonee Robert Scheidt (BRA) at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games – duels that drew a wider public to sailing.
Driven and passionate, Ainslie is a compelling character whose future in the sport is expected to concentrate on his desire to launch a British America’s Cup challenge. As part of his ‘apprenticeship’ Ainslie is part of Team Oracle under the stewardship of two-time ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Russell Coutts, and alongside the 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor, Tom Slingsby.
There are a lot of fantastic sailors out there and when
you look at someone like Paul Elvstrøm, he
revolutionised the sport of sailing in his day and I
certainly don’t think I can claim to have done that
Ainslie’s excellence in the sport has been recognised with this record fourth ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award following titles gained in 1998, 2002 and 2008. However, Ainslie remains modest about his momentous achievements: “There are a lot of fantastic sailors out there and when you look at someone like Paul Elvstrøm, he revolutionised the sport of sailing in his day and I certainly don’t think I can claim to have done that. I am very fortunate to have had the support to do what I have.”
Lijia Xu (CHN) – Immense Competitor
The inspirational Lijia Xu etched her name in the history books in August 2012 becoming the first Chinese, and indeed Asian, sailor to win an Olympic Gold medal in a dinghy sailing boat. “I didn’t expect to be the winner,” admitted Xu. “It is an honour to be named ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year and become the first sailor from China to receive this award. I hope this award can inspire more children in China to take up the sport.”
It is an honour to be named ISAF Rolex World
Sailor of the Year and become the first sailor
from China to receive this award
Xu triumphed in the Laser Radial, one of the tightest and most dramatic competitions at London 2012. This after the Shanghai-born sailor hardly made an auspicious start to competition, finishing in the top three positions in only one of the first six races. During the second half of the week, Xu’s class came to the fore. In a manner reminiscent of her fellow 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year, she showed grit and determination to put herself in pole position for the deciding medal race.
Going into that final race, Xu could not afford to slip up with three rivals all in strong contention. In a winner takes all finalé, the 25-year old Chinese sailor sailed best, winning the race and adding Olympic Gold to the Bronze she claimed in Beijing. Her victory lap following the dramatic medal race was one of the sailing competition’s iconic moments. “It was a fantastic medal race that will be remembered forever,” said Xu. “On crossing the finishing line I realized not only my own dream but also the whole nation’s dream. Many people strived for this gold for so many years and despite all the difficulties and setbacks we conquered it.”
Victory in London proved the crowning achievement following an impressive year, where she won three ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas and peaked at the right time after claiming an impressive silver medal during a highly competitive Laser Radial World Championship in May.
A keen swimmer in her youth, Xu’s passion for sailing began from the age of 10 when she started Optimist sailing in Shanghai. She took to the sport immediately. By 2001, at the age of 14, she was Girls’ Optimist World Champion, a title she reclaimed in 2002. Her story is one of resilience. Xu has battled significant hearing and sight problems and missed out on a place at the Athens Olympics in 2004, when a routine medical examination revealed a tumour in her leg that subsequently required major surgery.
Xu bounced back and in 2006 won the Laser Radial Women’s World Championship. That success, together with the Bronze medal gained at Beijing, on the back of a serious hand injury, propelled Xu onto the international stage. “The most challenging part of my career has been facing injuries. It is important to never give in, never yield,” added Xu.
Xu, who was also her nation’s flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony of London 2012 is assessing whether to mount a campaign for the 2016 Games in Rio. In the meantime, she is taking time to complete her studies and reflect on the love she has for her sport: “Sailing has given me the chance to chase my dreams and the stage to show my potential. It has provided me with the opportunity to see, feel and explore the world. Sailing leads me to a path of a better life, a life full of vitality, excitement and joyful experiences.”
Xu is only the second Asian sailor to be named ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year following in the footsteps of female windsurfer Lee Lai Shan (HKG) who won in 1996.
Double Olympic gold medallist and World Sailor of the Year in 2000, Shirley Robertson, hosted the ceremony. The Awards were presented by ISAF President of Honour HM King Constantine and Joël Aeschlimann of Rolex SA. Both winners were presented with a Rolex timepiece and an ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year trophy.
A Stellar Supporting Class
In addition to the two winners, the list of nominees for the 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award included:
Mathew Belcher & Malcolm Page (AUS) – Men’s 470 – London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists, 2011 and 2012 World Champions & 2011-12 ISAF Sailing World Cup Champions
Nathan Outteridge & Iain Jensen (AUS) – 49er – London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists & 2011 and 2012 World Champions
Loïck Peyron (FRA) – Outright Around the World Record
Tom Slingsby (AUS) – Laser – London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist & 2011 and 2012 World Champion
Tamara Echegoyen, Angela Pumariega and Sofía Toro (ESP) – Women’s Match Racing – London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists
Helena Lucas (GBR) – 2.4mR – London 2012 Paralympic Gold Medallist and 2011-12 ISAF Sailing World Cup Champion
Saskia Sills (GBR) – RS:X – ISAF Youth Sailing World Champion & European Youth Champion
With the exception of Loïck Peyron all of the nominees attended the Awards Ceremony, celebrating a year of outstanding achievement.
ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards
The winners of the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards are decided by vote by the over 130 Member National Authorities of ISAF following a worldwide selection process that begins with an open invitation for nominations. Two awards, one for a female sailor/crew and one for a male sailor/crew, are presented to the individuals who are deemed to have most distinguished themselves during the qualifying period.
For Further Information
Please visit the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards microsite at: www.sailing.org/worldsailor
More than 20 crew on board a racing yacht have been rescued after it capsized off the Irish coast.
The US registered racing boat, Rambler 100, was taking part in the Fastnet Race when it overturned about 12.5 miles from Baltimore, Co Cork, just after 6.30pm on Monday.
The Irish Coast Guard, which co-ordinated the rescue operation, said 16 crew members sitting on the hull of the vessel were airlifted to safety. Another five who were in a life raft were taken on board other yachts.
Ian Loffhagen, racing manager, said the yacht – skippered by George David – capsized between the Fastnet Rock and the Pantaenius Buoy. “All 21 crew have been rescued,” he added.
Some 314 yachts are taking part in the Rolex Fastnet Race and set sail from Cowes on the Isle of Wight on Sunday.
The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s biennial event takes the fleet 608 miles along the south coast of the UK, across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock off south west Ireland, before returning around the Scilly Isles to the finish in Plymouth.
The event has a fearsome reputation following the 1979 race which was devastated by strong winds and seas resulting in 15 deaths.
A spokeswoman for the Irish Coast Guard said the seas in the area were not very rough at the time of the capsize, but that the weather conditions were foggy.
The Baltimore RNLI lifeboat was first on the scene, followed by the Shannon and Waterford-based rescue helicopters and the Irish Naval vessel the LE Ciara.
The yacht’s personal locator beacon was activated when it overturned.
Follow up on the rescue.
Feel0ng lucky to be alive, Australian Mike Mottl stepped onto dry land at the pier at Baltimore, west Cork to cheers, applause and an emotional embrace.
One of five crew of the Rambler 100 to be separated from the vessel after it keeled over in heavy seas, Mr Mottl and four others spent two hours adrift before they were plucked from the water.
“I’m feeling lucky to be alive, happy to be here and it’s great to see the local people here to greet us,” Mr Mottl said as he stepped into an awaiting ambulance at the pier.
Erle Williams, from Auckland New Zealand was at the helm when disaster struck seven miles north west of the Fastnet.
“I’m sailing all my life I’ve never ended up in the water like this, it was pretty scary. We were very lucky to get out in time, the navigator put out the call just as boat was tipping over and it went over phenomenally fast,” he said.
Foggy conditions prevented other boats taking part in the race from seeing the stricken crew.
“We were yelling and hollering out to them but obviously they couldn’t see us, it was a pretty frantic time,” he said.
A number of the crew members were asleep below deck when the boat keeled over.
“Some of our guys were very lucky to get out from under the boat so we are counting out blessings,” Mr Williams said.
Michael Van Beuren (44) from Portsmouth, New Zealand said the boat capsized within 30 seconds.
“We were going upwind in heavy seas when the keel fin fractured, the seas were quite big. It is such a relief that we all made it ashore.”
Skipper and owner George David was among five crew members set adrift from the vessel. They were plucked to safety by the crew of the diving vessel, Wave Chieftan .
“We could see them drifting away, we spent two hours clinging to the boat thinking and worrying about them, they were our main concern,” Mr Van Beuren said.
Bob Wylie (48) from Lake Quarry in Australia spent two hours on the upturned keel of the yacht.
“My first priority was my own safety and then to try to help the others,” he said.
“I saw the liferaft drifting away so I threw a rope. It just couldn’t reach them and they kept drifting out to sea.”
One woman on board the vessel, the partner of vessel owner Mr David, was airlifted to safety suffering from hypothermia following the incident.
The Rambler 100 skippered by Mr David was first home in the Transatlantic Race earlier this year. The Rambler crossed the finish line on July 10th in an elapsed time of six days, 22 hours, eight minutes, two seconds.
The Rambler established a new record for the 2,975 nautical mile course from Newport, United States, to Lizard Point, South Cornwall, in Britian.
Mr David is the former chief executive of United Technologies Corporation, a conglomerate based in Hartford, Connecticut, whose vast holdings include such diverse companies as Otis Elevator, Sikorsky Helicopters, Carrier air conditioners and aerospace and industrial systems Hamilton Sudstrand. Mr David is an avid yachtsman and racer.
Galway, which staged a hugely successful stopover in 2008-09, is back on the map again – this time as the finish port for the 2011-12 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Galway withstood strong opposition from several rival cities in the official port bidding process to earn the right to host not only the finale but also the overall prize-giving ceremony.
In 2008-09, Galway was the stopover for the end of the transatlantic leg from Boston. This time the fleet will sail from Lorient in France back to the Emerald Isle.
At today’s announcement, Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad said that the interest in hosting the event, particularly in Europe, had been “overwhelming”. He added that he was delighted the race was returning to Irish shores.
“I am very proud to confirm Ireland’s participation and Galway will be a magnificent port to stage the finish of the event,” he said.
“We have already experienced the enthusiasm that abounds in Ireland for the race and we are looking forward to bringing the competition to its conclusion in a country that really knows how to celebrate.”
At a press conference to mark the occasion, Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Brian Cowen, said: “The 2009 stopover in Galway made an abiding impression on the sailors, support crews, organisers and media, who were immersed in the warmth of an Irish welcome.
“Their presence, in turn, had an enormous beneficial impact on Galway, the west of Ireland and indeed the entire country. Their arrival here was spectacular and their visit helped generate a massive 55 million Euros for the regional economy, more than one third higher than the original projections
“Given its economic benefits and its importance to Irish tourism, I am more than happy to welcome the return of the Volvo Ocean Race to our shores and pledge our support for the event.”
The Galway stopover, in May 2009, was one of the standout successes of the 2008-09 race. A crowd of 30,000 flocked to the dockside for the arrival of the first boats home in the early hours. It set the tone for what was to follow.
Over 650,000 spectators filed through the race village during the week-long event. The crowd peaked at 62,000 on the in-port race day alone – with the seaside resort of Salthill drawing a further 120,000 visitors.
Green Dragon, the Irish/Chinese entry, grabbed a podium position by finishing third into its ‘home port’ at end of an eventful leg 7, triggering wild celebrations. The reception stunned skipper Ian Walker and his crew. Walker’s entry was the second Irish boat to contest the event after NCB Ireland in the 1989-90 Whitbread.
The balance sheet looked healthy as well with the final economic impact figure put at Euros 55.8 million by Deloitte. That was 30% above initial projections.
Galway completes the list of European cities hosting the 2011-12 race. The remaining ports will be introduced during the remainder of March.
All 16 crew have been safely evacuated to two sister yachts, Team Finland and California. All are safe and next of kin have been informed.
The Irish entry was sailing in 20-knot winds when she struck a rock off the small island of Gosong Mampango at 2018 GMT, 13 January The yacht was competing in the fifth race of the biennial global challenge which left Geraldton, Western Australia for Singapore on 3 January 2010.
Initial reports from skipper Richie Fearon stated that the boat is lying on her side on the rock with the toe rail under water and that some hull damage has occurred. Because the winds were increasing, the crew evacuated to the island as a precaution. Competitors Team Finland and California were in the vicinity and immediately stood by off shore. The skipper and crew of Cork have subsequently used their life rafts to transfer to the waiting boats and all are now safely on board. Team Finland’s skipper Rob McInally is relaying updates with both the race organisers and the coastguard agencies.
The yachts on station are best placed to assess the situation and consider what salvage options are practical. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Chairman of race organisers Clipper-Ventures said, ‘Clearly our priority has been the safety of the crew and we have received confirmation that all on-board have evacuated the boat and are now safe. Their welfare is our prime concern at this time.’
At this stage, it is too early to consider what impact the incident will have on the Irish entry and whether the team will be able to continue in the 10-month-long 35,000 mile race around the world.
California is now making her way on towards Singapore with eight of the Cork team on board. The remaining eight crew members, including skipper Richie Fearon, are on Team Finland which continues to monitor the situation.
Qingdao has now joined Team Finland and when the wind dropped earlier today, skipper Chris Stanmore-Major and team member Chris Connell (who is an active crew member with the RNLI) went ashore on Gosong Mampango in order to conduct a further assessment of the damage to Cork. This included taking digital photographs and video footage which can be sent back from the boats communication system, so that experts from around the world can better assess the situation and formulate a plan of action.
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital is also now abeam of the island. Colin Campbell, one of the team members on board, is a naval architect and he will provide further expert advise on the situation and the best options for recovery.
The Cork crew’s passports are already safely on board Team Finland and other valuables were collected when the boat was assessed earlier today.
In the event that Cork is unable to start Races 6 and 7, crew places will be available across the nine other yachts for the leg to Qingdao in late February and on to San Francisco in early April. Long before then, a clear understanding of the longer term implications will have become apparent and Clipper will keep all interested parties fully updated.
Of the boats whose position are known Spirit of Australia continues to lead the race with Jamaica Lightning Bolt and Uniquely Singapore close behind. With boats diverting to deal with the emergency, there will clearly be requests for redress once the fleet has arrived in Singapore.
Unsurprisingly, everyone’s thoughts are with their fellow competitors from Cork. Jan Ridd, skipper of Cape Breton Island, sent back the following to race HQ this morning.
“We are all so glad to hear that everyone on board Cork is safe and that no one was hurt. We cannot imagine how terrifying it must have been as the weather was awful last night and at one point, we experienced wind speeds of 56 knots.
“We are now in a very close tacking match with Spirit of Australia and Jamaica Lightning Bolt, but to be honest since receiving the news about the seriousness of Cork‘s situation to both myself and the crew, the racing does not seem important right now.”
was first across the start line to the delight of the home crowd as Race 5 of the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race got underway. Hundreds of supporters lined the breakwater in Geraldton, Western Australia, and cheered as the Australian team raced past with the other nine internationally sponsored yachts in hot pursuit. Conditions were perfect for the beginning of the next leg to Singapore with a strong southerly breeze blowing 15-20 knots.Spirit of Australia’s skipper, Brendan Hall, said, “I’m really looking forward to this one, it’s going to have a different flavour – a bit of an ocean race to start off with but then going up through Indonesia the navigational hazards are going to be a real challenge. It’s something a bit different but also something to sink our teeth into.
Spirit of Australia
Speaking ahead of the race start,
“The enthusiasm and the effort put into this stopover by the people of Geraldton has been absolutely fantastic. Words can’t describe the welcome we’ve had, all the crew have had a fantastic time in Western Australia and we’ll all be very sad to leave.”
Spirit of Australia was followed across the line by California and their closest rivals, Team Finland, with only three points separating the Finns and the Aussies on the overall leader board. Chasing the front three and in order across the line were Cape Breton Island, Uniquely Singapore, Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, Jamaica Lightning Bolt, Cork, Ireland, Hull & Humber and Qingdao.
By the time the fleet rounded the first mark, Hull & Humber had moved into third place with Spirit of Australia holding the lead and the Californian entry staying in second place. As the fleet headed out to sea the crews, who come from all walks of life, were just getting their spinnakers ready for hoist as the boats disappeared from view.
Race 5 is one of the most interesting and varied races of Clipper 09-10. The initial part will deliver some very high average speeds as the teams head north across the Indian Ocean. Approaching Christmas Island the conditions will then change quite dramatically as they sail across the Monsoon Trough, an area similar to the Doldrums where the winds will drop and temperatures will soar.
Race Director, Joff Bailey, says, “The crews face a number of challenges on this race and the winner will be the team that can quickly exit the light patch of winds and get themselves into the steady airflow further north. The boats will also be crossing the Equator again and the new crew joining for this leg will have to meet King Neptune just before the finish.”
The fleet is now racing towards the first of many gates on the course and this one is particularly poignant as it marks the site of HMAS Sydney, the Leander Class light cruiser which went down with all hands in February 1941. Following a fierce engagement with the Komoran, a German raider, both ships sank and while many from the German vessel managed to launch their life boats, HMAS Sydney went down so quickly that no one survived. 645 officers and men perished, making it the biggest single loss of life for the Australian Navy.
Each yacht has picked a representative to lay tributes in the form of a wreath of flowers as their boat passes over the war grave. They include a tribute from Her Majesty’s Royal Australian Navy which will be laid at the site by the crew of Spirit of Australia. During the three-week stop in Geraldton the fleet has been overlooked by a beautiful war memorial dedicated to the servicemen who lost their lives. Prior to the race start some of the crew headed up to the site to pay their respects, the centre point of which is a dome made up of 645 interlocking steel seagulls.
Jamaica Lightning Bolt’s skipper, Peter Stirling, sums up the feelings of all. “I know I speak for all my crew when I say what a brilliant stopover we had in Geraldton. From the moment we stepped ashore we had a fantastic reception from everyone we met. Several very well organised events were laid on including the procession / prize giving event, the New Year’s Eve party and the send off / race start. The people of Geraldton Greenough should be very proud of what they achieved.”
He adds, “For me the stopover was made particularly special by the fact that my girlfriend agreed to marry me.” Congratulations Pete and Su!
Now attention is turned once more to the racing. “Game faces on and we’re back in action,” as Spirit of Australia’s skipper, Brendan Hall, says.
California’s crew will be hoping the new year brings a reversal of fortune. They got off to a flying start, following Spirit of Australia across the start line in second place yesterday and, says skipper Pete Rollason, “Thereafter we switched into top gear and sailed passed her. We are now locked in a very close battle with Uniquely Singapore, Jamaica Lightning Bolt and Qingdao. Everyone is finding it strange to be back on the race course after such a long and enjoyable stopover.”
Cape Breton Island has taken the early advantage overnight, nosing ahead of Uniquely Singapore whose crew are hoping to become the first in this edition of the Clipper Race to win the race to their home port.
Across the fleet there has been quite a large crew changeover in Australia and, with five new people joining the Canadian team for the race to Singapore, skipper, Jan Ridd, knows it will take a little time for them to get back into the rhythm of life on the ocean. He says, “It has been quite an interesting first night for Race 5, after a good start we decided to hoist the spinnaker early and see if we could pull out an early lead. We held the spinnaker until nightfall and then dropped it and sailed under white sails overnight, very mindful of the long break we have all enjoyed as well as the new crew who have just joined.
“We are now on course for the Sunda Straits and have hoisted the spinnaker again but by the way the boat is swinging it feels like the crew are having trouble controlling it so it will not be long before we drop and go with poled out headsail. The long break in Australia was well needed but I am well aware that we all need to now focus on the race and put all our efforts towards getting our first podium position.”
Uniquely Singapore won’t easily let go of their chances of victory and a hero’s welcome at Marina at Keppel Bay on 23 January. Skipper Jim Dobie says, “Overnight we took the offshore option as we figured there would be more wind so, while one half of the fleet chose the inshore route, we went with the other half offshore and, as expected, the wind held out through the night.
“It seems now we are in the thick of the fleet with boats everywhere. From here it is a drag race straight for the scoring gate and it will make an exciting next four to five days of close racing. So as the crew settle down once more into the routine of a race yacht we look forward now to the fantastic reception that will greet us in Singapore.”
With just a dozen or so miles separating the teams at this stage of the race, Jamaica Lightning Bolt has also been mixing it up with the leaders – in second place at the 0600 UT sched, losing just a mile to Uniquely Singapore by the 0900 UT update on the Race Viewer, click here to view.
They, too, are settling in to the routine of life on an ocean racing yacht, says skipper, Peter. “The conditions have been perfect for the first day back at sea with good winds, mainly behind the beam, and a moderate sea state. With Australia having been such a long stopover the crew are inevitably a bit rusty and it will take a bit longer for them to find their sea legs. Furthermore we have six new crew on board, our biggest crew changeover of the race so far, and for them the favourable conditions are even more welcome.”
As well as new crew, Team Finland has a new skipper, Rob McInally taking over the reins from Eero Lehtinen who made the tough decision to step down at the end of Leg 3. Rob, who skippered Nova Scotia in Clipper 07-08, is taking a cautious approach to the start of this race.
He says, “After crossing the start line third we rounded the windward mark in fourth but took Hull & Humber as we turned. The kite went up for a time and then a bigger one then, as agreed by the crew, we are now enjoying the poled out Yankee 2 allowing less pressure on us and our yacht at these early stages of what is sure to be a very eventful leg. Meanwhile the crew and I are properly getting to know each other.”
Hull & Humber and Cork, Ireland got to know each other a little too well at the start of Race 4 – not so this time and both crews are clearly revelling in the experience of being back on the race track amongst the whole of the fleet.
Cork’s skipper, Richie Fearon says, “It is great to be racing in among the fleet again and at the minute we can see eight other boats around us which is fantastic racing. We were in ninth place earlier today but, as we’ve converged on the site of the HMAS Sydney II, we have passed five boats on the water and we have the others in our sight. We ran with a number 2 and one reef in the main for most of the night and changed to a full main and heavy weight spinnaker earlier this morning which has given us the advantage to pass half of the fleet. The crew is working very well on board and the hunger is in the crew now to start delivering the results and building on our victory in the race to Cape Town.”
Piers Dudin, Hull & Humber’s skipper, says, “We cleared the start line in clear air and at speed and with plenty of space – if a little late – but made it out of the bay in third place. Then the games really began! We’ve been peeled to the binoculars trying to keep track on the ‘who’s who?’ that Race 5 is quickly becoming. The fleet has been belting along in familiar southerlies and now our course opens up for the scoring gate in 950 nm – about five days’ time.
“It’s great to be out racing again with the others and refreshing to see such a turnaround in the standings! Mikey and Jack our ambassadors are living up to the high helming standards set by their predecessors. It’s pretty humid and a little overcast but as long as there’s wind it’s GAME ON!”
Wind is one thing the Race Office is keeping a very close eye on during this leg as Tropical Cyclones can be a big issue in this region at this time of year.
Race Director Joff Bailey explains, “There are two Tropical lows that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology is tracking at the moment which are in our area of concern. The first is near Darwin and is expected to become a Cat 1 Tropical Cyclone tomorrow and cross the coast near Darwin. The second is well to the west of the fleet and is moving further west. Forecasts have now downgraded this Tropical Low and are not expecting it to become a Tropical Cyclone. The Race Office is monitoring both of these systems and at the moment doesn’t consider that either of them will cause the fleet any issues.”
The Race Office will continue to monitor and advise the fleet accordingly – in the meantime the ten 68-foot ocean racing yachts are making fast progress north and making the most of the southerly airflow provided by the Indian Ocean High.
Early this morning the teams passed the first waypoint at the wreck of HMAS Sydney, a designated war grave 230 miles north west of Geraldton. They were there for a purpose – to pay tribute to the 645 men who were lost when the ship sank with all hands following a fierce battle with the German ship, Kormoran, in November 1941. The wreck site was discovered in 2008 and a memorial to those who died, among them men from Geraldton serving on board, now stands in the city.
Passing over HMAS Sydney’s final resting place was a poignant moment for all. Peter Stirling says, “We actually sailed almost directly over the site of the wreck and after dropping the wreath over the side observed a two minute silence as a mark of respect.”
Uniquely Singapore’s crew also held a minute’s silence as they laid their wreath on the ocean and Cape Breton Island’s skipper, Jan Ridd, says, “It was a solemn moment whilst we gathered on the aft of our yacht and thought of all the lives that were lost.”
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital crew member, Paul Rogers, read a touching tribute as they paid their respects. Paul, a 37 year old plumber from Hampshire, has joined the Scottish crew for this leg of the race to Singapore and Qingdao. As he visited the memorial in Geraldton before setting sail Paul read words sent to him by Spirit of Australia crew member, Lance Costello. Lance will race on leg 7 of the Clipper Race but asked Paul to speak on his behalf. Lance’s uncle was on board HMAS Sydney and is one of the 645 names engraved on the memorial.
In addition to their own wreath, Spirit of Australia’s crew laid another on behalf of the Royal Australian Navy. Skipper Brendan Hall says simply, “Crossing the gate over the wreck site was a touching moment for all of us as we quietly set adrift the wreaths into a building swell under a steel grey sky. Lest we forget…”
The jubilant crew of Cork, Ireland, has arrived in Cape Town after taking victory in Race 3, the South Atlantic leg, of the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race. They crossed the finish line in Table Bay at 1638 local time (1438 GMT), accompanied by a pod of dolphins surfing down the face of the waves. Earlier in the day the cloud had lifted to reveal the iconic shape of Table Mountain which dominates the Cape Town skyline but it was in brooding conditions that the team crossed the line with Capetonian crew member, Marlon Jones, 20, at the helm.
Cork is the first ever Irish entry in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Sponsored by a three-way partnership between Fáilte Ireland, Cork County Council and Cork City Council, Cork is skippered by Richie Fearon. He and his team have already begun the mammoth task of building a winning campaign.
This is where you’ll be able to find out more about the crew taking part and their adventures during the ten-month, 35,000-mile challenge across the world’s oceans. You’ll be able to read their diaries and follow their progress here when Clipper 09-10 starts from the Humber on 13 September 2009.
Cork skippered by Richie Fearon finish in 1st place in race 3 from Rio De Janeiro to Cape Town in the 09-10 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
The 3,300-mile Race 3 will take the teams across the South Atlantic, dipping south towards the Roaring Forties and the treacherous seas of the South Atlantic, before approaching the notorious Cape of Good Hope at the end of the course.
The Clipper 09-10 has taken will them from the Humber to La Rochelle and Rio de Janeiro, South Africa Still to come are Western Australia, Singapore, Qingdao, California, Panama, Jamacia, New York, Cape Breton Island, Cork and back to the Humber, where they are due to arrive on 17 July 2010.
A high number of racing enthusiasts, competitors, and supporters arrived at the Royal Western Yacht Club in Plymouth yesterday afternoon (23rd September), to celebrate the launch of the Shetland Round Britain & Ireland 2010 race.
Veteran sailor Mervyn Wheatley, who competed in the OSTAR 2009 earlier this year, was guest speaker at the event and beguiled the audience with his extraordinary tales of the race. As the 2010 race will be Mervyn’s sixth, there seemed no better candidate for this role!
Still four months from the entry deadline (31st January 2010), 26 teams have already signed up for the two-handed race, including the winner of the OSTAR 2009, Jankees Lampe. Jankees broke the record for a 40ft vessel when he completed the trans-Atlantic race earlier this year in just 17 days, 17 hours and 40 minutes; making him the one to watch in next year’s Shetland Round Britain & Ireland. The race is limited to 50 boats so it is advised that those interested in taking part contact the RWYC soon to avoid disappointment.
The Shetland Round Britain & Ireland race has the support of many sailing greats; including Pete Goss MBE. Supporters and 2010 competitors who attended the launch event included Mary Falk, Jerry Freeman and David Southwood (previously race director of OSTAR 2009).
Shetland Islands Council announced its sponsorship of the race in June and took a leading role in organising the launch. Sandy Cluness, Convener of the SIC, spoke at the event detailing why the council undertook the race sponsorship and the welcome it will show the competitors when they reach Lerwick.
Lerwick, one of the largest marinas in Shetland, is one of the four compulsory stops during the race. This marina, and 34 others, makes Shetland the ideal sponsor of the race; especially when you also take into consideration its maritime links and history.
Douglas Irvine, business development manager for Shetland Islands Council, commented: “We are really pleased with the success of the race launch and the support we have received from all involved. This is a fantastic race and we are proud to be a part of it. We have a number of beautiful marinas across the Shetland Islands and Lerwick is one of our most popular. The crews are guaranteed a real Shetland welcome when they arrive!”
The race will depart from Plymouth on 6th June 2010 and see the competitors sail 2000 nautical miles around the UK coastline. The race has been hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club every four years since 1966.
For further information about the Round Britain & Ireland 2010 race and those taking part, please visit www.shetlandmarinas.com or http://www.rwyc.org/oceanic/RBI10/rbi10viewev.asp?id=270
This is Shetland Islands Council’s second time sponsoring the RB&I, having first sponsored the race in 2006.
Shetland is one of the best kept maritime secrets and provides a beautiful setting to sail and explore one of nature’s most beautiful coastlines. The stunning Shetland coastline stretches for 900 miles and boasts 35 marinas and berthing places.
Instigated by Blondie Hasler, the Royal Western Yacht Club has hosted the Round Britain and Ireland race every four years since 1966. The course, about 2000 nautical miles, is split into five legs. These are separated by compulsory stops of 48 hours each at Kinsale in Ireland, Castle Bay, Barra in the Outer Hebrides, Lerwick in Shetland, and Lowestoft on the East Coast.
Peter Taylor, race director of Shetland Round Britain & Ireland 2010, added: “As well as those already signed up I am receiving interest from a number of other parties looking to take part in the race. We are getting a good mix of old and new competitors and it was great to see a number of these here at the launch. This race has a long history at RWYC and we are thrilled to have the support of Shetland Islands Council, allowing us to promote the race and what is stands for. It is a tough sail and the competitors will face some mighty conditions, it really is a great challenge.”
The race will depart from Plymouth on 6th June 2010 and see the competitors sail 2000 nautical miles around the UK coastline. The race has been hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club every four years since 1966.
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 7 Boston, USA to Galway, Ireland
(click on image to view gallery)