Fog delayed the start of the first race of the UK J Class Regatta series 2012, postponing the 1200 start, positioned one mile south of Pendennis Point, by one hour.
By twelve o clock, the sun was still struggling to break through but visibility had improved enough to get the UK regattas underway. As 1300 approached, the number of spectators on the water grew towards the hundreds. Almost all spectators kindly complied with the race officers’ request to keep the start line clear.
After the ten minute gun, the yachts started circling and manoeuvring for the best starting positions, the atmosphere getting more and more tense as the minutes ticked away. The last few minutes were thrilling for all spectators.
At the start, the boats split into two sections; Lionheart and Ranger at the end of the line, and Rainbow and Velsheda at the port end.
As they accelerated towards the windward mark at Helford River, the support ribs and spectator fleet gamely tried to keep up.
Ranger, who had sailed on the seaward side of the course, managed to pull in front by a few boat lengths and by the time she’d rounded the windward mark had stretched her lead to 200 metres, along the short spreader reach, turning downwind and launching her 10,000 sq. Ft. Spinnaker.
Lionheart was next around the mark, but after an early gybe she ran into a spinnaker problem and was forced to drop it on deck and launch another, smaller spinnaker. This proved costly as she slipped to last place further down the leg.
Meanwhile, Velsheda and Rainbow sailed with spinnakers offshore, picking up a fresh wind from the seaward side and by the end of the leg, with freshening wind, closing the distance on Ranger.
After around 2.5 hours of racing in various wind strengths across the bay, the race was shortened, with Ranger crossing the line first, comfortably ahead of Velsheda and Rainbow, with Lionheart some distance behind.
1 – Ranger
2 – Velsheda
3 – Rainbow
4 – Lionheart
nose-diving right in front of the crowds gathered along Plymouth seafront, early in the race. Then, at the top of
the course Team Korea speared their bows into the waves and flipped over.
And tantalizingly close to the finish, Green Comm Racing was toppled by a gust on
the final leg of the race. Luca Devoti, sports director from Green Comm
commented later: “Nobody has been hurt and the wing has been damaged; we’ll need
two days to fix it.”
All day, the sailors and the boats were racing at
their very limits, unless a nonchalant James Spithill was to be believed after
the race. “It was great racing for sure, not even at the limit of the boats; still a way to go.” Brave words after a race that had spectators gasping with disbelief.
While Spithill won the race, his rival Dean Barker’s second place was sufficient to give victory to the Kiwis in the Plymouth AC Preliminaries.
In Sunday’s AC500 Speed Trials, it looked like the Kiwis had it in the bag with two great runs while others were spinning off the race track. James Spithill’s words nearly came back to haunt him as the ORACLE AC45 flipped right on to its edge – there were a few moments of doubt as to whether it would capsize – before it slapped back down on its floats.
With Spithill out of contention in the speed trials, it was up to the
remaining teams – and ORACLE Racing Coutts in particular – to take the fight to
the Kiwis. Once again Russell Coutts had the bit between his teeth and turned in
a scorching final run to post a winning time of 37:48 seconds.
Monday and Tuesday are off days at the America’s Cup World Series – Plymouth allowing the teams a chance to rest and repair both man and machine. Racing resumes on Wednesday with qualifying races for the Plymouth AC Match Race Championship.
Results – Plymouth AC Preliminaries
|1||Emirates Team New
Plymouth AC500 Speed
Trials – Sunday
|2||Emirates Team New
Big crowds in excess of 10,000 turned out to watch the first day of racing at the AC World Series – Plymouth, and they were treated to a display of excellent racing in challenging conditions.
Emirates Team New Zealand won two of three fleet races to open the event. Not to be outdone, Russell Coutts and his ORACLE Racing crew set the pace in the AC500 Speed Trials, posting the fastest time over the 500 meter runway.
The race course was set up in the Sound, just meters offshore from the Plymouth Hoe, making day one of the event pure ‘stadium sailing’.
“It was pretty awesome to see a crowd like that supporting the sport,” said Artemis Racing skipper Terry Hutchinson. “There were a lot of public on the Plymouth Hoe and around the course. I don’t think anyone expected something like that. Imagine what could happen with a sunny day.”
With the wind blowing in excess of 20 knots at times, boat handling was the key skill today, combined with brave starting. Dean Barker and the Kiwis took the first race with their big rivals from Cascais, Portugal. ORACLE Racing Spithill, in hot pursuit. James Spithill’s colleagues on ORACLE Racing Coutts were disqualified for being over too early on the start line.
Even in these big breezes, getting a great start was proving critical, and this time Spithill managed to control the Kiwis, keeping his rivals slow while he shot away to an early lead that grew as the race continued. In a big pile-up at the downwind gate, just meters away from the spectators on the sea wall, French team Aleph was forced to bail out to avoid a collision. With the breeze at its highest, some teams were really struggling with controlling the high-speed cats, and Artemis Racing narrowly avoided a capsize at one mark rounding. Team Korea meanwhile was forced to retire from this race with equipment problems.
Dean Barker learned his lesson from the previous start and this time had a great launch from the downwind end of the line to lead around the first mark, narrowly in front of Artemis Racing and Spithill. The American defender kept up the pressure until he got caught up in an altercation with a local sailor watching the proceedings from his small cruising yacht. Spithill was forced to bring his catamaran to a grinding halt while he waited for the yacht to motor clear of the course.
By the time ORACLE Racing Spithill was up and running again, the Kiwis were long gone. Now the race was with the other ORACLE boat, and they were shown no mercy by Russell Coutts who closed them out and sailed in front. Meanwhile Artemis had pounced on the ORACLE mishap to move into second place.
Emirates Team New Zealand’s two race wins on the day gave them the lead in the fleet racing, and Dean Barker did a fly-by for the crowds as he waved his appreciation to the people of Plymouth who had come to watch. Artemis finished the day on equal points with Spithill.
Immediately afterwards the nine teams lined up for the AC500 Speed Trial, and Russell Coutts and his experienced crew showed the younger teams how to get maximum speed out of an AC45 in a straight line. Coutts scored a time of 39.69 seconds, with a top speed of 28.18 mph, 1.48 seconds faster than second-placed Emirates Team New Zealand.
All Images Copyright Colin Merry
(Click on image to enlarge)
- 9 events confirmed for 2011 circuit spanning North America, Europe, Arabia and Asia.
- Mix of venues from iconic cities and unconventional ‘stadiums’, to established sailing destinations and emerging sailing markets.
- 10 top class teams representing 8 nations, and a dozen different nationalities of sailors.
- 5-day events offering a unique mix of ‘open-water’ racing and with high octane ‘stadium’ racing – high sporting integrity, but entertaining non-sailors and sailors alike too.
- Fleet racing, figure of 8 duels, time trials, match racing and other formats of racing will continue to be used – but always short, sharp and punchy!
- ‘Money can’t buy’ VIP experiences on and off the water – pioneering 5th man spots remain a key value of the event.
- 8-hour programme of entertainment (on and off the water) on every public-facing day.
- 12 x Optimists, 8 x 49ers, and at least 3 other classes of ‘support act’ over the season including windsurfers, kiteboarders,…
- 5-year vision and key developments planned for 2011
In Detail: Changing the way sailing is seen
On the eve of the World Yacht Racing Forum in Estoril (Portugal), the Extreme Sailing Series™ unveiled a great package of interesting and varied host venues, and top level professional sailing teams and skippers for 2011. The award-winning and ‘ISAF Special Event’ circuit is going truly global as it enters its fifth year, with 9 events spanning 3 continents, over 11 months and 10 teams representing 8 nations. A core objective of the event remains to be the most commercially sound way for brands and host venues to benefit from the great offer that professional sailing can present. This philosophy has been at the heart of the product since its inception in 2006, with the vast majority of teams since 2007 being sponsorship funded. The 2011 package provides a global sponsorship platform, at a very accessible budget level, and with a queue of sailors keen to compete.
“The circuit has come a long way since 2007 when we had just 4 European events and 5 teams,” commented Mark Turner, Executive Chairman of organisers OC ThirdPole. “We continue to attract new top sponsored teams, sailors and, importantly, major new venues where we can showcase the sport with our game-changing ‘stadium’ format. The choice of venues for 2011 has been our core commercial team focus since the end of 2009. We are getting closer to the perfect mix of established iconic cities, premium venues, great sailing destinations and emerging (sailing) markets.
“We continue to maintain the mix of sporting integrity and entertainment. We have shown inshore sailing can actually be fun to watch for the non-sailor as well as the sailor! Part of the DNA of the circuit since the beginning, our 5th man spot remains one of the sport’s greatest assets – be it for sponsors clients, media, TV cameramen, or prizewinners drawn from the general public,” he concluded.
The 2011 global circuit, which kicks off in Muscat in February 2011 and concludes in Singapore in December, is entering a new phase of development as part of a five year vision, after a challenging but successful 2010. Turner explains, “iShares was acquired by BlackRock at the end of 2009, which meant an end to the founding partnership of the event. We committed to running a test event in Asia and what was another successful European season in 2010 without a main partner. That was a big investment for our OC ThirdPole business, but one we believed in,” said Turner.
“Going forward we now have some meaningful host venue partnerships, strong teams, and a long term business plan with funding in place which will allow us to continue to develop the Extreme Sailing Series™ across all areas over the next five years – on the water, the shore-side public entertainment package and the media platforms,” he promised.
In addition to the host venue partnerships, and local sponsors for each event, OMEGA returns as Official Timekeeper, Marinepool join as Official Technical Clothing Supplier, and Pol Roger as the Official Champagne Supplier for the series. Further partners at both series and local level to be announced in the New Year.
A circuit spanning North America, Europe, Arabia and Asia
The 2011 Extreme Sailing Series™ kicks off in the Sultanate of Oman in February, as part of the annual Muscat Festival, before heading to China for Act 2 (location to be announced separately). The gateway between Europe and Asia, and European City of Sport for 2012, Istanbul, will host the third Act before the Extreme 40 fleet travels to the United States of America for the first time, to Boston’s waterfront in time for the July 4th celebrations.
Cowes Week welcomes the Extreme 40s for the fifth consecutive year for Act 5, ahead of a return to the Sicilian port of Trapani, for the second consecutive year. The French round will be staged on Mediterranean waters in Nice before Almería, in Andalucia, Spain hosts the penultimate event and the 2011 circuit will be decided in Singapore in mid-December.
10 Teams Representing 8 Nations, with sailors from more than 12 countries, and from diverse backgrounds (Volvo Ocean Race, America’s Cup, Olympic Gold medalists, World Match Racing Tour etc..)
Diversity and quality are once again hallmarks of the Extreme Sailing Series line upTwo-times runner-up Groupe Edmond de Rothschild returns (skipper as yet unknown); new entry Luna Rossa has snapped up last year’s winning skipper Paul Campbell-James as helm, with the boat skippered by America’s Cup winning sailor, Max Sirena. Oman Air Masirah, returns, skippered by French Volvo Ocean Race veteran Sidney Gavignet; double Olympic Gold Medallist Roman Hagara enters for the second season with his Red Bull Extreme Sailing team.
Britain’s Ian Williams, two times winner of the World Match Racing Tour joins Team GAC Pindar; another new Italian entry, Team Nice, led by Alberto Barovier and 2010 winners, The Wave, Muscat return to defend their title, this time skippered by emerging star Torvar Mirsky.
Alinghi returns to the fleet after winning in 2008, skippered by experienced Extreme 40 tactician Tanguy Cariou; Paul Cayard’s Artemis Racing is skippered by American Terry Hutchinson and finally, new to the 2011 circuit will be Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Kiwi America’s Cup winner, Dean Barker, who experienced Extreme 40 racing for the first time at the final event in Almería this year.
Event Format and new Class Rules
In 2011, each Act will generally consist of five days of racing as opposed to four days in 2010, and three in 2009. Each Act will be true to the core aspirations of the Extreme Sailing Series™ ethos – mixing ‘open-water’ racing with ‘stadium’ short-course racing in front of the public, including all the various disciplines and courses used already from fleet racing to match racing, straight line duels and speed trials. A large investment will be made again in the on-water umpiring – essential for ensuring the fans know the results as they watch, rather than wait for post-event protests.
Turner confirmed, “We are committed to maintaining the highest sporting integrity, as we have done since 2007. Recently taking control of the Extreme 40 Class from the creators, TornadoSport, has allowed us to also develop the rules of both event and boats in unison, to ensure a more equal chance to win, and also drive down many of the costs for the teams. We’ve limited sails (and dropped the price), decreased support costs with a central Tech Zone and team, and are managing all shipping logistics centrally as well as a host of other detail changes that all affect both return on investment for team sponsors, and ensure sporting equality regardless of budget size.”
The new Class rules are published this week. A typical full budget for a competitive year long campaign will range between 450k and 650k Euros, plus a boat at c.100k Euros per year (charter or depreciated purchased cost over 4 years).
Developing further the public events side, the organiser has committed to providing an eight-hour mix of entertainment on ‘public’ days. On the water a number of support acts, like the Olympic 49er class, windsurfing and kiteboarding, will build up to the main Extreme 40 headline act. A strong local community and charity campaign in each venue will see children given the chance to get on the water each morning. Wrapped around the on-water competition will be a comprehensive on-shore entertainment programme within the race village from interactive entertainment to music, alongside bars and food outlets. Music acts will also take centre stage under the Extreme Sailing Series ‘Sailing Remixed™’ banner at a number of the venues.
A global event such as this has a significant ‘footprint’. The environmental audit of the 2010 event is nearing completion, and will be used as the benchmark to improve all aspects of the event’s energy, waste and water footprint going forward. Initiatives from 2010, such as minimizing bottled water, are being analysed and evolved for 2011. This particular challenge has no finish line, but the race has begun.
And for the fans off-site, live commentary and audio from the boats will be streamed online, with possibility of live TV in some venues still under consideration. A new iPhone ‘app’ will also be launched during Q2, complementing a wide range of communication channels used by the event. Video online will continue to feature strongly, via YouTube and syndicated channels – especially for the short action clips the event is best known for. The current global TV programming platform will continue to be developed, but now also in HD format.
In 2010 Extreme Sailing Series has attracted coverage in over 120 countries in 13 languages including on CNN (Intl), UK Terrestrial station Channel 4, Bloomberg (Intl), Sky Sports (UK, NZ), Fox Sport (Australia), Sport+ (France) and ESPN (Brazil), with over 60hours of airtime for each programme in the five part series.
2011 Calendar & Host Venues:
Act 1: 22-24 February, Muscat, Oman (20-21 ‘open-water’ racing*)
?Act 2: 15-17 April, China (13-14 ‘open-water’ racing)
Act 3: 27-29 May, Istanbul, Turkey (25-26 ‘open-water’ racing)
?Act 4: 30 June – 4 July, Boston, USA (all days public event)
?Act 5: 6-12 August, Cowes, UK (all days public event)?
Act 6: 16-18 September, Trapani, Italy (14-15 ‘open-water’ racing)?
Act 7: 30 September – 2 October, Nice, France (28-29 ‘open-water’ racing)
?Act 8: 12-16 October, Almeria, Spain (all days public event)?
Act 9: 9-11 December, Singapore (7-8 ‘open-water’ racing)
* ‘open-water’ racing means that the Race Manager can use whatever part of the arena is best for racing – once the public village is open in ‘stadium’ mode there are sometimes constraints in this respect in order to ensure the fans can see all the action.
2011 Confirmed* Teams & Skippers:
Team Name/ Nat Skipper Name (Nat.)
Alinghi/ SUI – Tanguy Cariou (FRA)
Artemis Racing/ SWE – Terry Hutchinson (USA)
Emirates Team New Zealand/ NZL – Dean Barker (NZL)
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild/ FRA (As Yet Unknown)
Luna Rossa/ ITA – Max Sirena (ITA)
Oman Air Masirah/ OMA – Sidney Gavignet (FRA)
Red Bull Extreme Sailing/ AUT – Roman Hagara (AUT)
Team GAC Pindar/ GBR – Ian Williams (GBR)
Team Nice/ ITA – Alberto Barovier (ITA)
The Wave, Muscat/ OMA – Torvar Mirsky (AUS)
*initial entry period closed today, 13 December, however late entries may be permitted under the Notice of Race, up to a maximum of 11 boats, plus three wildcards for use by the organisation. The annual objective of Extreme Sailing Series™ is 8 quality teams.
With the forthcoming 2011 Extreme Sailing Series™ venues, teams and innovations due to be revealed at a Press Conference in Portugal on 13 December, for the next four weekends British viewers can relive the action from the 2010 circuit that is changing the way sailing is seen.
Four, half-hour shows, presented by double Olympic Gold Medalist Shirley Robertson and produced by Sunset+Vine|APP, kick off this Saturday 27 November at 7.25am on Channel 4. With on-board cameras on every Extreme 40 catamaran, the series takes the viewer into the heart of the racing where crews compete within a few meters of the crowds on tiny, ‘stadium-style’ race courses. Featuring Olympic Gold Medallists, multiple World Champions, round the World sailing stars and America’s Cup racers, the action is intense and even the very best are caught out. With closing speeds in excess of fifty knots and the potential for spectacular capsizes when it’s windy there is plenty of opportunity for drama.
CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for the Channel 4 TV Series
And the 2010 circuit had plenty of drama…
The first man to lead a crew around the planet in less than fifty days was stopped in his tracks at the UK round in a crash that left him with no control. Heading towards a concrete wall at twenty knots he makes the call to abandon ship. At the Italian round in Trapani wild winds hit the fleet which saw the premier sailors lose control as their bows head deep underwater, the crew suspended in mid air with no steerage. And at the finale in Spain the youngest skipper on the tour has less than a second to decide whether to sail safe or take a risk that could see his season end in shattered carbon fibre.
Five events, 130 races, 14 teams, but who will be crowned overall 2010 Extreme Sailing Series™ Champions? Watch this weekend, and for the next three weeks, on Channel 4 to find out more.
Channel 4 broadcast dates and times:
November 27th – 0725 (then at 0825 on Channel 4 plus 1)
December 4th – 0725 (then at 0825 on Channel 4 plus 1)
December 11th – 0725 (then at 0825 on Channel 4 plus 1)
December 18th – 0730 (then at 0830 on Channel 4 plus 1)
Scheduled for 1400 hours local time, the start of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race took place bang on target. The English punctuality didn’t favour Groupama 70, who were delayed following a collision with another boat whilst still tied to their mooring. Setting off around fifteen minutes late, Franck Cammas and his crew powered away and managed one by one to overtake 25 of their 27 rivals in some rather harsh sailing conditions and a light worthy of Beken of Cowes.
First to cross the start line, ICAP Leopard and Telefonica Azul put on an exceptional display, firing off at 25 knots into the Solent, the sound which separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland. Despite being over 30 foot longer than the VOR 70, ICAP Leopard, with Sam Davies navigating, got irreparably left behind, as did the rest of the fairly assorted fleet.
During this time, the crew of Groupama 70 attempted to quickly hoist their mainsail. Delayed following a failed manoeuvre by a competitor, which damaged the bow of the VOR 70, Franck Cammas could only watch, powerless, as his main rival, Iker Martinez, skipper of Telefonica, took flight. A double Olympic medallist in the Forty Niner, the Spaniard couldn’t have wished for a better start.
It remains to be seen now how the skipper of Groupama 70 will react. Prior to the start, the newcomer to the VOR category had this to say: “We’re here to drive the men and Groupama 70 into a corner, as well as to see how we measure up against an experienced, high performance crew”.
Having racked up a 5-mile deficit from the outset, Cammas had no other choice but to attack. He too tracked making 25 knots of boat speed, creating fabulous plumes of water in his wake, the skipper was clearly ruling Groupama 70 with a rod of iron.
Once across the Solent, the imposed route will call for a series of tack changes under spinnaker. Favouring a more northerly course, Jean-Luc Nélias, Groupama 70′s navigator, was the first to put in a gybe. It’s a manoeuvre which, in the breeze, requires perfect synchronisation. Unfortunately this element may well have been somewhat lacking aboard Celox 40, which lost her mast.
With the wind set to remain very steady, the competitors will continue to traverse the English Channel at pace, zigzagging between the numerous cargo ships picking their way across it. Suffice to say that in these conditions, any minutes spent sleeping will be both rare and precious if they are to keep performing well…
Crew of Groupama 70
1. Franck Cammas, skipper
2. Jean-Luc Nélias, navigator
3. Laurent Pagès, watch leader
4. Magnus Woxen, watch leader
5. Charles Caudrelier, trimmer
6. Erwan Israël, trimmer, under 30 years of age
7. Martin Strömberg, trimmer and pitman, under 30 years of age
8. Sébastien Marsset, trimmer and pitman, under 30 years of age
9. Mike Pammenter, bowman, under 30 years of age
10. Martin Krite, bowman, under 30 years of age
11. Yann Riou, media crew
About the race:
Distance to cover: 1,802 nautical miles
Direction of the course: clockwise
Best race time since 1976: Artemis (IMOCA 60) in 7 days and 4 hours
Largest of this year’s boats: ICAP Leopard measuring 30 metres
Smallest of this year’s boats: Arethusa measuring 10.9 metres
Number of VORs competing: 2
Start: Cowes, Monday 23 August 2010 at 14:00
Team Finland makes good progress with repairs in Taiwan as the temperatures begin to plummet for the crews heading north. ” “I have never felt the boat take such a beating,” says Spirit of Australia’s skipper
Team Finland’s crew have been working hard in Hualien, Taiwan, where they have diverted following the loss of the top section of their rig.
“We have had a productive morning, removing a seven metre piece of broken mast without incident,” reports watch leader and round the world crew member, Mark Cole. “All the standing rigging deck fittings have been removed in addition to the fittings from the broken mast piece. We have fitted some blocks to the masthead that should enable us to fly the tri-sail and storm jib if required and the holes in the deck at the starboard gateway have been temporarily repaired with a plywood/epoxy sandwich, bolted through the deck.”
A diver has also completed a full hull check to ensure there was no damage while the folded rig was hanging over the side of the 68-foot yacht.
Skipper Rob McInally and his team have been made very welcome by the local community who are celebrating Lunar New Year and the start of the Year of the Tiger.
“Last night we were hosted by the local Coastguard commander who invited us into their Mess. We enjoyed plenty of New Year toasts, local food and a bit of karaoke. Team Finland’s rendition of Eye of the Tiger will be remembered in Hualien for some time to come,” says Mark.
“Afterwards we exchanged flags with the commander to thank him and his crews for seeing us safely into harbour. I think this now makes us unofficial members of the Taiwanese Coastguard!”
The crew is working towards being able to leave on Wednesday morning Taiwan time and is currently refuelling to maximum capacity – 1,500 litres in the tanks plus an extra 200 litres – for the journey ahead.
Spirits amongst Team Finland’s multi-national crew are high and they are understandably proud of what they have achieved as a team – both on the water to make the boat safe in the wake of the dismasting and in port as they make their repairs. They can’t wait to get back out and on their way again.
Out on the course the other yachts have had a torrid time in the last 24 hours. Spirit of Australia, at the back of the pack a week ago, is maintaining the lead she has now built up at the front – and it’s been anything but easy.
Brendan Hall, the Brisbane-based skipper of the Australian entry, told us this morning, “Last night was quite something. I have never felt the boat take such a beating by the steep sided waves. The sound the hull and rig make as they come crashing down off the crest into the next trough is incredible, like the sound of a car crash. Again and again and again. We were reefed down to our smallest possible sail plan and still making very fast speeds.
“The Spirit of Australia crew are handling the conditions well despite not many being able to sleep and many unable to eat due to seasickness. The fact we are now in the lead of this race has made each of us dig that little bit deeper and find the extra energy to make that sail change or empty the bilges every hour. We will grind our way to Qingdao, no matter what it takes.”
California is determined to make it to the podium this time and is just 20 miles behind Spirit of Australia.
Skipper Pete Rollason is full of praise for his crew today, saying, “As the temperatures are dropping quite considerably we are now down to a maximum of one hour on deck before the need get below and warm up becomes vital. I cannot praise the crew enough, never a grumble or moan, just a dogged determination to continue to drive the boat hard and secure a good finish in Race 6.
“The sea state is atrocious and the wind even worse, although the weather files do show some easing in the wind later today so we should be grateful for small mercies if it comes.”
Erstwhile leaders, Cape Breton Island, have taken the slowly slowly approach in another wet and wild night in the East China Sea, according to skipper, Jan Ridd, who says, “As we approached the north of Taiwan we saw the wind build and reduced sails accordingly. We had the storm jib, staysail and third reef in the main, which I thought would see us through the night, and had just crossed paths with California. We tacked back to the west and not soon afterwards the wind rose considerably and the boat was becoming difficult to control as we were launching ourselves off some fairly large waves.
“I had to make a decision whether to keep on driving hard or to dramatically reduce the sail plan and calm things down, losing positions in the race. It was an easy decision to make. Even though I am as competitive as everyone taking part in this race my primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of the crew and the yacht. So we dropped the staysail and sailed very slowly through the night, heading east on a losing tack but hopefully into lighter winds which will allow us to start sailing properly again.
“It was as daylight broke that we saw the true size of the storm we were in. During the night we just had numbers on the instruments, the howling of the wind in the rigging and being caught completely unawares as a wave broke on the deck, flooding the whole of the cockpit area but this morning, in a miserable, grey, rainy light we could see what we had been sailing through in the night. There were five metre steep seas regularly breaking and wind gusting up to 50 knots.
“I do not know if the crew will thank me or curse me when they see the latest position report but I know I would make the same decision every time.”
Jamaica Lightning Bolt’s crew still have a 13-point haul in their sights for this race, even though their progress over the last 12 hours has been painfully slow and they have made just 16 miles towards the finish line in that time.
Skipper Pete Stirling says, “The crew of Jamaica Lightning Bolt had another exciting night last night. At about 0200 (local time) the wind increased from 30 knots to a steady 40 knots plus. We hove to so that we could drop the staysail in a safer and more controlled manner. Just as well, as more than half the brass hanks securing the sail to the stay snapped. It’s not a particularly large sail but in gale force winds and mountainous seas it took a huge effort by the crew to wrestle it back under control and get it down below. Once below several crew set about replacing the broken hanks and at first light we re-hoisted it.”
Pete makes the point that Spirit of Australia has managed to build up a healthy lead but, he says, “As seen already on this race, big leads can quickly disappear if the weather turns against you.”
Hull & Humber and Cape Breton Island discovered that to their cost in the early stages of this race when their lead was wiped out by a patch of light air which developed in their path.
Piers Dudin, Hull & Humber’s skipper, knows it’s all part of the ocean racing game and you get the impression from his report to the race office this morning that, despite the heavy conditions, the Salisbury-based skipper and his crew are having fun out there.
“We’ve struck out east again and tacked early this morning for our first positive attack run on Qingdao. After the last few days of trying out different sail configurations we’ve hit upon the right plan and Hull & Humber is galloping along in a solid Force 7 and lovin’ it! Initially charging over the deep Kuroshio rolls, we’ve now stepped up onto the continental shelf and charging full tilt towards China.
“Life below decks isn’t too unpleasant yet, although it’s getting pretty damp. Once in a while the bow arches and everyone braces for impact; if the helmsman has timed it right everyone cheers, or if the wave was more of a cliff the resultant SLAM sends shudders through everyone and they wince for Hull & Humber’s discomfort as torrents of water wash down her decks. But off she goes again regardless…
“Tonight we should experience a sharp drop in temperature as we close in on our destination but, without the huge waves of the Kuroshio to douse us and an abating wind forecast, we’re hoping to stay dry and warm.”
The team representing the Olympic sailing city is sure to get a warm welcome – whatever the temperature when they arrive in Qingdao.
The weather in the city, where the first members of the Clipper Race team have arrived to establish the Race Office, is not as cold as it has been on previous visits, although the wind chill factor will take temperatures down to about minus 10C overnight. Add to that freezing water across the decks and you get some idea of how cold it is out there for the Clipper crews.
Qingdao’s skipper, Chris Stanmore-Major, says, “The dragon is all fired up as she enters the home run. Helming was the name of the game last night with each taking a turn to tame the beast and point her head north. Six-metre swell with broken white faces and two-metre breakers flooding over the boat combined with horizontal rain and dropping air temperatures produced challenging conditions.
“For the skipper these are conditions in which sleep comes at a premium; with shipping to dodge, rig damage an ever-present thought at the moment and crew safety at the forefront of one’s mind, sleep is not possible except in five minute blocks, laying on the floor next to the nav station. I have now had 1.5 hours sleep in 36 but by the power of chocolate and coffee I am still a functional human being and I am enjoying the opportunity to get on the helm and provide hints and tips in conditions crew rarely get to experience.
“Stealth Mode means I will not be commenting on our place in the fleet – we had a plan, we are following it and the results may not provide a better fleet ranking but will put us in the geographical position we feel has the advantage. So far so good – you judge for yourself next time you log on.”
POSITIONS AT 0900 UTC, TUESDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2010
1 Spirit of Australia DTF 552
2 California DTF 572 DTL +20
3 Uniquely Singapore DTF 599 DTL +48
4 Cape Breton Island DTF 606 DTL +55
5 Hull & Humber DTF 610 DTL +58
6 Jamaica Lightning Bolt DTF 644 DTL +92
7 Qingdao DTF 669 DTL +118 (Stealth: position at 1200 15 February)
8 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital DTF 726 DTL +175
9 Team Finland DTF 750 DTL +199
10 Cork Did not start
The Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race started on 13 September from the Humber on the UK’s east coast and will return there in July 2010 after 35,000 miles of ocean racing. No previous sailing experience is required to take part as full training is provided. Crew can sign up for the whole circumnavigation or one or more legs. The overall race is divided into individual races and points are accumulated according to each individual race position. The yacht with the highest total at the finish wins the race trophy.
Plymouth’s Mayflower Marina is supporting a young sailor in his bid to become the youngest person to sail single-handed across the English Channel.
Oliver Hancox, from Devon, is just 14 but a keen sailing enthusiast. After losing his father to cancer last year, Oliver wanted to undertake a challenge which would raise both money and awareness for Cancer Research, but also make his father proud. His father, Neil Hancox, was the first person to windsurf across the English Channel in a team relay in 1983 and undertaking a similar challenge seemed, to Oliver, a fitting way to remember him.
Oliver has this month started an intensive eight week training programme with his safety boat; before the harsh effects of winter set in. The voyage itself is planned for May 2010. His boat will remain berthed in Mayflower Marina free of charge throughout the training period with the money instead being donated to Cancer Research.
Oliver will be sailing the 115 miles from Plymouth to Roscoff in a five metre, Silhouette Mk II Hurley. The journey is estimated to take around 24 hours. The boat, named Cariad, was carefully restored over the summer to prepare for the challenge.
Charles Bush, Managing Director of Mayflower Marina, commented: “Oliver is incredibly brave to even think of sailing across the Channel alone at the age of 14. The fact that he is raising money for Cancer Research, in the name of his late father, made it impossible for us not to support him in some small way. We will be providing him with free berthing throughout the duration of his training, allowing this money to instead be given to the charity. We really do wish him the very best in his quest and remain confident that his passion and determination will see him through to Roscoff.”
Oliver added: “This is one of the most important things I have ever done. I hope to raise £10,000 for Cancer Research, as well as boost awareness of the charity and its work. Cancer affects so many people and I think this is why the support I am seeing is already so strong. My Dad always loved adventure and this seems to have been passed down to me too. I am a little scared, but also incredibly excited and pleased that I can do my bit to help people in the future.”
Mayflower Marina is situated in the heart of Plymouth, in the midst of some of the UK’s best cruising waters. It was established in 1980 and is a member of TransEurope Marinas. The marina itself is owned by a number of shareholders (Sailport Plc) of whom the vast majority are berth holders. Fifty members of staff are employed on the site.
Significant investment into the marina has resulted in a high standard of all amenities. Mayflower Marina prides itself on its value for money and competitive prices. Customer care and attention are guaranteed at every visit.
For further information please visit www.mayflowermarina.co.uk