HAPPY NEW YEAR! – From all of us at XS we wish you a Happy New Year 2015! Lets make our New Year’s resolution to get on the water more! HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Monthly archives for December, 2014
BWR – As ever emotions ran high as the eight IMOCA 60s left the dock, one after the other, heading for the 13000hrs start of the 23,000 miles Barcelona World Race. There was scarcely enough wind to lift the flags but the warm morning sunshine offered an idyllic setting as the crowds build under the watchful eye of the Christopher Columbus statue.
Bubbly and openly nervous round the world rookie Jorg Riechers of Germany and his quiet, focused French co-skipper Seb Audigane were first to leave on Renault Captur, followed by by Spirit of Hungary (Nandor Fa, Conrad Colman). Fa looked relieved but determined saying goodbye to his family earlier after a normal breakfast in his hotel.
Spanish duo One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton (Aleix Gelabert, Didac Costa) were next, waving to the growing crowd, whilst the Garcia brothers stood shoulder on the deck and they bid farewell to their supporters on We Are Water. Neutrogena (Guillermo Altadill (ESP) and Jose Munoz (CHI)) lead the dock out from the north side of the pontoon, both looking cool and ready.
Stealing the show was Alex Thomson (GBR) and his four year old son Oscar who shouted to each other until Hugo Boss was out of sight. The biggest cheer was for Anna Corbella, though, the first Spanish woman to sail around the world as she set off on GAES Centros Auditivos with Gerard Marín (ESP), while Jean Le Cam on Cheminées Poujoulat had his normally substantial hairstyle cropped back to the ‘wood’ as he docked out with co-skipper Bernard Stamm (SUI).
Reigning champion Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA) was on the dock to bid the skippers farewell.
The Barcelona World Race has begun. To follow the fleet go to the TRACKER.
BWR UPDATE: As if to underline their billing as pre-race favourites to win, Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes on Hugo Boss led the eight-strong fleet of IMOCA 60s off the start line of the third edition of the Barcelona World Race, two handed race around the world. The British-Spanish duo made the best of the very light winds, setting up with speed at the gun, to eke out a small lead to the turning mark, 1.5 miles away from the line.
With 23,450 miles to sail, of course the early advantage to the British-Spanish duo might only appear to be psychological and within the first hour of racing they found themselves snared by the combination of very calm winds and wash from the sizeable spectator fleet, and were passed by the Swiss-French pairing Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam on Cheminées Poujoulat, but the main objective for all was to ensure they stay in the lead group on what will be a tricky, challenging descent of the Mediterranean to the exit doors at the Straits of Gibraltar.
As per forecast breezes were only very light for the start, 2-6 knots. But the sun shone brightly and brought out huge crowds to the beaches of the Catalan capital. To all intents it felt less like the last day of 2014 in the depths of winter, and more like a day stolen from summer.
The warmth of the sunshine leant an almost surreal air to the emotional scenes as the 16 skippers left the Barcelona World Race dock this morning. They may be heading for some of the most feared stretches of the world’s oceans, but there was a welcome serenity as the crowds bid farewell to each of the duos. To those observers and skippers more used to the oppressive atmosphere of other winter race starts, usually contemplating Atlantic storms, it was a pleasant change.
But for all that, emotions bubbled to the surface, tugging hard at the heartstrings. Who could fail to be moved when Alex Thomson and his four-year-old son Oscar shouted ‘Good bye’ to each other across the widening gap between the pontoon and the departing 60-foot monohull? In their private world it was a beautiful toddler waving his dad off to a day at the office – even if Thomson blinked back a tear behind the Hugo Boss designer shades – but to everyone else it was a harsh reminder of the imminent three months of separation from the son whose illness precluded his participation in the last edition.
Hugo Boss team-mate Pepe Ribes’ farewell to Pepe Ribes Jr was no less touching, considering the last time he left on this race his son was only three weeks old. This time GAES Centros Auditivos’ Gérard Marin’s son is only a few months old.
The biggest cheer of the morning was for Anna Corbella, the only female skipper in the race who became the first Spanish woman to sail around the world when she finished the second edition of the race in April 2011 with Briton Dee Caffari. Corbella and Gérard Marin, both local to Barcelona, have been training for two years with their GAES Centros Auditivos and harbour high hopes of a podium finish.
Their partisan fan club were, predictably, the loudest. Corbella’s smile wavered as if to crack but as the docklines came aboard, her game face was fixed and she was immediately in ‘race mode’.
When the gun sounded at 1300hrs local time (1200hrs UTC) GAES Centros Auditivos looked to have made the best start along with Hugo Boss and Renault Captur (Jorge Riechers and Sébastien Audigane), but both GAES Centros Auditivos and One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton (Aleix Gelabeirt and Didac Costa) jumped the gun and had to restart.
As well as media, family, friends and team-mates, the dock was dotted with key figures of the race including twice winner Jean-Pierre Dick, who saw off the eight boats, and Race Director Jacques Caraës, who helped many teams slip their lines. FNOB president Maite Fandos, the depute mayor of Barcelona; IMOCA President Jean Kehroas; Peter Bayer, General Manager of Open Sports Management, and the President of the Spanish Sailing Federation José Ángel Rodríguez, all joined the farewell.
Meanwhile the city of Barcelona delivered a ‘tapas menu’ of live performance featuring wind instruments, spraying water, seashells, and performance artists by the Fura dels Baus as a fitting show as the Mayor of Barcelona Xavier Trias lowered a flag on the La Dona of Mil·leni sculpture to signify the start of the race.
Winds might only have been light at the start but the skippers know the pressure is absolutely on from the start. The race start sat between two wind zones. To the east the brisk NE’ly Tramontana is a strong lure, to sail more miles to reach this corridor of breeze does represent the high risk option but with potentially the biggest reward. A fast passage to the Balearics would allow the leader(s) to hold on to this wind longest. Conversely, this breeze will fade first, potentially leaving any gamblers on this flank downwind in very gentle winds. The alternative is to sail the direct, rhumb line – or to the west of it – and wait until the NE’ly has strengthened all the way to the Spanish coast.
The overall balance between the options remained unclear. For sure there is a ‘rich get richer’ scenario for anyone who breaks through the Strait of Gibraltar first, breaching the brisk, favourable trade winds first for quick train ride south. But the greater likelihood is of a period of very light winds in the busy gateway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
Ranking at 14:00 UTC December 31, 2014:
1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm – J Le Cam) 23 448.3 miles from the finish
2 GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella – G Marino) 0.3 miles to leader
3 Renault Captur (J Riechers – S Audigane) 0.6 miles to leader
4 Hugo Boss (A Thomson – Ribes P) 0.7 miles to leader
5 Neutrogena (G Altadill – Muñoz J) 1.2 miles to leader
6 We Are Water (B Garcia – Garcia W) 1.2 miles to leader
7 One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert – Costa D) 1.2 miles to leader
8 Spirit of Hungary (N F – C Colman) 1.3 miles to leader
Guillermo Altadill (ESP), Neutrogena:
“The last GRIB files are showing a little bit variable conditions that are quite tricky. It’s going to be quite open to the Straits – you could go inshore, offshore, so I think it’s going to be quite tricky and very open for all the fleet. We hope to be at Gibraltar ahead, but it’s not very relevant in one race that’s 25000 miles to be ahead 10 miles at Gibraltar, it makes you feel better but it’s not very important.
“You make your own pressure, but it’s going to be pressure for everybody because everybody is going to push the boat and be the first one out to Gibraltar, but for us it’s about holding onto the fleet and to be with the fleet the first part of the race.”
“I’ve probably [raced to Gibraltar] 20 or 25 times. The Med is very unpredictable, so the more you know and the more you race here… you get more confused!”
Nandor Far (HUN), Spirit of Hungary:
“I’m quite relaxed. We did our best to be finished, to be 100 per cent prepared, but you never know. The boat is a very complicated piece so there is always something which is going wrong. Right now I feel the boat is well prepared.
“We are concentrating on the wind and the proper sail choice, and going out in a safe good way, that’s all. It will be nice to have time to think about everything. If we want to be in a good place we have to make good progress, but I’m not worried really.”
Anna Corbella (ESP), GAES Centros Auditivos:
“I’m feeling excited and happy. I want to get going! The weather is OK, it’s nice. It’s easy – in terms of physically, so it’s not going to be a lot of sail changes, I think it’s nice downwind to Gibraltar. Probably at some point it’s not [going to be] easy, but I think what is important is to be at Gibraltar in a good position, and to go out in a good position.”
Alex Thomson (GBR), Hugo Boss:
“I think the first 5-6 hours there probably won’t be very much wind, and then after that we should see some breeze, some fairly good breeze hopefully. Then the breeze will run out, but whether we get to Gibraltar or not I don’t know.
“I think for all of us the routing shows that the people at the front will gain and the people at the back will lose – so all the pressure is to be at the front of the pack and not to not lose too much is important. We feel fortunate that we’ve got a boat that can probably catch everybody up if we need to catch everybody up, but we don’t really want to be in that position really!
“As a team we feel very confident. We’ve put in a lot of work and a lot of prep. These last moments are always a bit heartfelt because of the family and leaving them behind for three months. I think it’s not something you would want to get used to, because if you got used to it then it would maybe mean you don’t care as much as you do.”
TV server on http://tv.barcelonaworldrace.org
SYDNEY HOBART – As everyone knows by now, Roger Hickman’s Farr 43 Wild Rose has been confirmed as the overall corrected time winner of the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Completing the legendary 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart race course in 3 days, 7 hours, 4 minutes and 43 seconds, Wild Rose arrived in Hobart on Monday evening, finishing with a corrected time that proved insurmountable for the yachts drifting through an abating breeze to Hobart.
Hickman acquired Wild Rose in 1991 from Bob Oatley, the owner of the all-conquering 100-foot Maxi Wild Oats XI. Two years later Hickman – along with co-owners Bruce Foye and Lance Peckman – won the race on the boat then called Wild Oats.
How fitting that on the year Oatley, who sailed the great race three times with Hickman, witnessed his stellar Wild Oats XI crew make history with an eighth line honours success that Wild Rose claimed the race’s most significant prize. “Fantastic, wonderful, surreal, it hasn’t sunk in,” said Hickman, a Hobart native. “I am so elated. Every sportsman old and young loves the feeling of competing and winning.”
VIDEO OF THE DAY – A compilation of all different sailing footage from Beau Outteridge during 2014. It includes Moths, A-Cats, AC45s, Olympic classes, Kite-boards, Extreme 40s, and many types of keel boats. XScellent!
SYDNEY HOBART – Lisa Hickman captured the action as just declared Handicap Winner ‘Wild Rose’ rode out a Chinese Gybe on their way to Hobart. Luckily there was no damage to the boat and the crew were all safe.
TORNADO WORLDS – Tuesday the 30th December saw the first day of the ISAF Tornado World Championships and Global Mixed Championships in Perth, Western Australia.
30 teams from 7 nations have made the trip to Nedlands Yacht Club to enjoy the sunshine and fantastic sailing conditions that Perth has to offer.
Since the 26th December the majority of boats have also been warming up, sailing in the Australian Championships. Team Redbull sailing their boat Glory & Drama won that event. 8 races were sailed over the two days in action packed conditions.
The first day of Tornado World Championships started with a practice race for the 7 boats who chose to take part. The warm Easterly breeze which kept building throughout the race put the sailors through their paces and provided some of the best sailing of the day.
As expected the Easterly breeze died out and the wind shifted to the West with the sea breeze coming in. The afternoon was very warm with temperatures of 41 degrees providing unstable winds from the South West between 8 and 14 knots.
The first race was won by Gavin Colby and Pete Dubbelaar (Australia) who led from the top mark. They managed to hold off many others in a close race to the finish with Team Redbull (Greece).
The second race of the day was a reverse of places with Iordanis Pachalidis and Konstantine Trigonis (Team Red Bull) taking the victory followed by Gavin and Pete.
This leaves both teams on equal points but with the Greeks leading on countback going into day two. In 3rd place from Australia are James Clark and Ben Taylor on the same points as local hero’s Brett Burvill and Ryan Duffield.
Tonight the class held their Annual General Meeting in the clubhouse of the Nedlands Yacht Club.
Tomorrow three races are scheduled, one in the morning and two in the afternoon.
BWR – A perfect sunny Tuesday afternoon allowed the sixteen skippers who will start the 22,500 miles two handed Barcelona World Race to fully enjoy their final hours on dry land before taking Wednesday’s 1300hrs (CET midday UTC) start.
For the organized duos – those who have had upwards of a year to prepare and know their boats intuitively – there was family time, long lunches, siestas and time to peruse the latest weather files with their consultant of choice (there is no outside routing allowed once the race has started). For the twosomes who have been battling against the clock in the final months, the realisation that their round the world challenge is now less than 24 hours away was truly biting them.
Relaxed and affable on the surface, Alex Thomson (GBR) and Pepe Ribes (ESP) spent an hour at the busy Hugo Boss show-trailer meeting their public, signing autographs and giving away postcards and posters. Jean Le Cam (FRA) and Bernard Stamm (SUI) were in equally good humour as they participated in the main meteo briefing with Marcel van Trieste, along with the other French speaking skippers.
The start will be given by Barcelona’s Mayor Xavier Tries with the line set in front of the iconic 90m tall Hotel Vela (W-Hotel). The mayor will signal the start with a traditional sound as well as the emblematic lowering of the ‘flags’ on a new sculpture on the Placa del Mar on the Barcelona sea-front.
The onshore activity will begin at 10 am when the IMOCA 60s bid their farewells and dock-out from the pontoons at the base of the Columbus statue. From 12.30 pm on the beachfront a starting ceremony will begin with a live performance by the Fura del Baus musicians at the Dona del Mil·leni sculpture. The Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, will drive the mechanism that moves the arms, waving a flag signal, which will start the circumnavigation of the globe. Musicians from a Catalan theatre group will also perform on the sculpture.
The IMOCA 60s will dock out in order, Renault Captur (Jorge Riechers, Seb Audigane) first off, followed by Spirit of Hungary (Nandor Fa, Conrad Colman), One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton (Aleix Gelabert, Didac Costa). Then it is the turn of Bruno and Willy Garcia on We Are Water, Neutrogena (Guillermo Altadill and Jose Munoz), Hugo Boss (Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes), GAES Centros Auditivos (Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin) and Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam).
There are two options for a circuit along the beach before heading south. The most likely is a two miles reach to a turning mark where the fleet will pass before heading for the Strait of Gibraltar, 535 miles down the track. Winds are forecast to be light around start time although the weather models are dynamic, changing all the time. The weather situation has the N’ly Tramontana still blowing to the east of Barcelona and the NW’ly over to the west on the Rio Ebro delta region, accelerated by day.
The meteo situation suggests there will be a variety of options after that final turning mark, and hence the fleet could possibly spread. The balance is always whether to take a big risk early or to try and remain moderate and race the fleet. Initially there might be the choice to go east to hook into the existing stronger breeze or wait until it is filled across to the Spanish coast. Essentially Barcelona lies in no-go zone, between the winds. The brisk NE’ly will carry the leaders down to the Balearics by between 2200hrs and midnight (about 90 miles) where the routing suggests passing just to the east of Ibiza. The winds through this first night will peak at just over 20kts but after the Balearics through the early hours the winds will ease, receding from the shore.
The ‘Elephant in the Room’ is a period of very light winds in the Alboran Sea, which will become progressively worse. There is a remote possibility that the leaders might just be able to beat this shut down to the east of Gibraltar and ease out into the very well organised, brisk trade winds. Indications suggest that at best three and a half days to get out of the Mediterranean, but maybe as slow as five for the leaders!
Neutrogena’s Guillermo Altadill (ESP) explained: “The weather in the Med has been changing quite a lot over the last three days, it was looking good and now in the last 24 hours it’s looking like less wind. It’s going to be quite tricky, because it’s going to be very variable conditions, especially on the first night, with a lot of tactical options”.
“I don’t think it’s going to be the key point in the race, because it’s so long. But it’s going to determine who is going to be the first up out of Gibraltar and who is going to take first into the trade winds, it’s always something you have to keep in mind. I don’t think it’s going to make the winner of the race, but it can make the next three weeks like a game once we are all out of the Med.”
Nonetheless with the ‘new’ course for the race now eliminating Cook Strait – no longer do the skippers pass in between New Zealand – a new Barcelona World Race record is likely. The course is about 2200 miles shorter, and hence Jean Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron’s mark of 93 days 22 hours 20 mins 36 seconds, must be vulnerable.
Guillermo Altadill (ESP), Neutrogena:
“When you start a race this long, if you put 100 days food on you look negative, you have to be more optimistic. I think it’s not going to be more than 90. If it’s more than 82 then we will eat less for the last week, but it’s not a big problem. As well, one day of food once you count everything, the power bars and everything, that takes quite a lot of weight. So if you say we put 10 days more on then sometimes that is maybe 50 kilos more, which starts to be a little bit too much extra. So that’s we’ve gone with 82, not because I think it’s going to be 82, it could be 75 or 95, but I think it’s a good number.
“The good thing now is that we don’t have to pass through Cook Strait so I think we can save four or five days there and if the gates are not moving too far north then maybe we think we can save one or two days more there too. So that means we can do it in 84 or 85 days.
“I think in the first week there’s not going to be a lot of difference [between the boats], but in the next three weeks the boats that are slightly faster will pull out – Hugo Boss, Cheminées, us and probably GAES as well. They will naturally be gaining miles every day. And I think by the time we arrive by the South Atlantic the fleet is going to be quite spun out.
“The main goal is just to finish the race, the second is not stopping. If we make these first and second goals then I think it’s going to be easy to be in the top two boats finishing here.”
Anna Corbella (ESP), GAES Centros Auditivos:
“It feels very different this time around, but it’s not because of the change of skipper. The last time was my first round the world race, and I was very new to all that. This time it’s a different approach to the same thing. I remember last time I finished the race I said to myself ‘If I have to do it again I need to be more physically prepared!’ And now I have done a lot of training, I’ve prepared a lot.
“It’s so important to have a good average the whole time. So to have a good speed, but a high average and to be constant, not to burn all at the beginning. We know that it is a long race, that a lot of things can happen, and that a lot of boat, normally 30 or 40 per cent never get to the end, and we want to finish. So we are we going to be constantly fast.
“The boat, we know it very well. The boat has done two round the world races, we crossed the Atlantic two times, so we are confident with our boat and with our team.”
Barcelona World Race 2014-15 entries:
Cheminées Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm (SUI) and Jean Le Cam (FRA)
GAES Centros Auditivos, Anna Corbella (ESP) and Gerard Marin (ESP)
Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson (GBR) and Pepe Ribes (ESP)
Neutrogena,Guillermo Altadill (ESP) and Jose Munoz (CHI)
One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton,Aleix Gelabert (ESP) and Didac Costa (ESP)
Renault Captur, Jorge Riechers (GER) and Seb Audigane (FRA)
Spirit of Hungary, Nandor Fa (HUN) and Conrad Colman (NZL)
We Are Water, Bruno Garcia (ESP) and Willy Garcia (ESP)
SYDNEY HOBART RACE – Roger Hickman is surrounded by the family and friends whom he describes, with apologies to Tina Turner, as ‘Simply the Best’.
They are the Wild Rose crew who fought their way to the corrected time lead in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet until Tasman Island only to see that lead jeopardized when the steering cable broke when the boat broached.
They fixed it, continued to hold the lead and went on to win the Tattersall’s Cup that is given to the boat that performs best relative to its size, sail area, etc.
Today, Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia John Cameron presented Hickman with that trophy and Jean-Noel Bioul of Rolex SA handed him the coveted Rolex timepiece.
For Hickman it was the second overall win on the same boat in 21 years, though in 1993 it was named Wild Oats, a boat he bought from Bob Oatley of present Wild Oats XI fame. Hickman also won as sailing master on SAP Ausmaid in 2000.
Others on the crew had to wait 38 years, but for his brother Andrew, and sister Lisa, it was first time lucky and an emotional win, given the death this year of Roger’s mother Leslie, who used to plaster the fridge at her Hobart home with media stories of his successes.
‘She lived her life through us kids,’ he said.
Roger Hickman’s adventures at sea go back a long way, to primary school days in 1950s Hobart when he and his friend Phil Endersbee did their first overnighter on father Jim Hickman’s extended Dragon design Bronzewing. Endersbee was on the crew again today.
So this was a family affair, one for the true believers, a victory for the closest and dearest of friends, people who have sailed through the good times and the tough and the tragic times. And this one was a battle.
‘A battle? A battle? It was a tough yacht race,’ Hickman said at the presentation.
‘From Sydney to Tasman was pleasurable, beautiful down the NSW coast and the lovely Tasmanian coast,’ he said. ‘But Tasman Island to Hobart was just so tough: gales, winds, becalmed, hail. They say it’s a normal Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.’
Was it the hardest?
‘From Tasman to the finish, absolutely. That’s also because you think you might do well, you hope you might do well.
‘You’re close; you know the boats behind you, the boats ahead of you. You add the anticipation and the challenge that you might win, will Lady Luck look on us favourably.
‘So you add that and it is tough. We were losing time on the guys who’d finished, and gaining time on the guys behind us. It was tough. They’re always tough. And you know why it was really tough? Because it was the one that’s closest in your memory.’
Wild Rose, as the leader last night, won the race today after having to wait to see what redress would be applied to the seven yachts that stood by at Cape Raoul at about the same time as she was finishing last night, to see whether they could offer any assistance in a light plane crash incident at sea.
All seven were given a one hour, 45 minute time allowance, but it was not enough to overhaul Wild Rose.
But who could have known at any stage of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race that boats touched by Bob Oatley and both bearing the name ‘Wild’ in their title would take line honours and overall corrected time honours in the 70th edition of the race and the 70th anniversary of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia?
That is exactly what happened today. The Farr 43 Wild Rose, Bob Oatley’s first grand prix ocean racer, sailed into Hobart yesterday, her owner Roger Hickman having to wait until today to be declared overall winner of the race with the 29-year-old yacht.
On Sunday, Bob Oatley’s 100-foot supermaxi Wild Oats XI logged a record eighth line honours victory after an epic battle with brand new super maxi Comanche, cementing Oatley’s place in ocean racing history.
What it says is that two yachts with the Oatley name attached have won line and overall honours in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart.
This is not the first time Hickman has won the race with the yacht that he affectionately refers to as “the old girl”. With his partners Bruce Foye and Lance Peckman, Hickman won the race under the old IOR rule. It was in conjunction with an IMS overall winner, Cookoo’s Nest.
With 38 Sydney Hobart races under his belt, Hickman, from the host club in Sydney but a Tasmanian by birth, can claim the title for himself and his boat alone in the boat he bought from Bob Oatley for next to nothing.
“I feel lucky and privileged to have Bob Oatley’s boat,” Hickman said this morning.
“I sailed with Bob Oatley on this boat and with Hugh Treharne (America’s Cup winner 1983) and Rodney Pattison (English double Olympic gold medallist).
“I did three Hobarts with Bob on this boat. When I bought the boat from him in 1991, he almost gave it to me,” a clearly emotional Hickman said.
“I was a young merchant navy officer then. I was honoured and privileged to sail with him and the others. Six years later when I went to buy the boat, I only had half the money, so I asked Bob if he could wait while I tried to raise the rest. He said to me, ‘Roger, you were the only guy to ever go to the bar and buy me a drink, don’t worry about the rest’.
“He was so gracious and I wouldn’t have been able to get involved in that boat at all without that generous offer,” Hickman said, with tears in his eyes. “Bob Oatley has helped me and Ricko (Oats’ skipper Mark Richards) and so many others get where we are today.
“So now we have Wild Oats XI and Wild Rose in the winner’s circle – the Ricko and Hicko show,” he said.
He paid tribute to his crew of:
Peter Inchbold, Phil Endersbee, Phil Warburton, Jen Wells, Kim Ketelbey, Sam Scott, Andrew Scott, Dan Morrow, Antonia Fong, Jackie White, Daniel Williams, Lisa Hickman and Andrew Hickman
“I couldn’t have done it without them,” he said.
Of the 117 starters, 103 teams completed the race.
By RSHYR media
KITESURFING – Francisco Lufinha, world record holder for the Longest Journey Kitesurfing without stops, managed to complete the oceanic crossing between the Savage Islands – the southernmost territory of Portugal – and Funchal. Lufinha, now the first and only Kitesurfer to do this course, overcame another challenge in the Portuguese waters, on a trip of 306 Km during 12 hours.
Despite the fewer miles covered in this Odyssey, the journey was specially difficult because it was done in winter time, started with a night dive into the deep ocean to launch the 10m kite from the support boat at 6 am, followed by kitesurfing against the wind – blowing 20-25 knots from ENE – and facing the 4 meter NE swell that was pushing Francisco away from his destination.
After the departure from the Savage Islands at dawn, the arrival to Funchal was held at 6 pm on the City Pier, in a festive environment, where hundreds of persons were expecting the adventurer, after achieving his goal to connect these two points of the Madeira Archipelago speeding over the deep Atlantic Ocean waters.
The Savage Islands-Funchal was the first oceanic stage of the MINI Kitesurf Odyssey and follows the 2013 successful challenge where Francisco Kitesurfed from Oporto to Lagos in 29 hours, setting a new world record for the longest Kitesurf journey without stops.
This odyssey was possible due to sponsorship of MINI Portugal, Lusitânia Insurances, Montepio Bank, BP Portugal, Oliveira da Serra and Dom Pedro Hotels. It also has the institutional support of the Sea Ministry, the Portuguese Navy, the Savage Islands Natural Reserve, Madeira’s Regional Tourism Office and the Lisbon University, among a lot more technical partners.
18 FOOTERS – A collection of the fastest spinnaker rides and biggest crashes in the first half of the 2014/2015 season. Footage is from the 18 Footers League in NSW, Australia. Racing starts up again January 11th. XS Sailing will cover the action!
SAILING IS FREEDOM – After being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, Sara finds freedom from her body’s restrictions by sailing. Do you know someone that is inspiring? Tell us about it! Subscribe to the Optik Local YouTube Channel: youtube.com/user/OptikLocal
BWR – The 16 skippers, eight duos, who are set to take on the 2014-2015 Barcelona World Race gathered to face the media at today’s busy official press conference, the last official gathering of all the teams before the race start on 31st December, now less than 48 hours away.
The conference was opened by Jean Kerhoas, IMOCA Class President, who introduced the UNESCO marine research and education programmes which are essential to this edition of the race, innovating by integrating the round the world competition with an ambitious scientific research programme and a global, openly available further education programme.
He was followed by Race Director Jacques Caräes who explained the starting procedure, which will see the eight IMOCA 60s start at 1300hrs, heading north-easterly along the Barcelona beachfront, before rounding the North Buoy turning mark and heading for Gibraltar and the Atlantic.
But all attention was focused on the 16 sailors gathered on stage. As ever body language and attitude spoke louder and more comprehensively than the words they uttered. Some, like veteran Jean Le Cam (Cheminees Poujoulat), appearing like it was just another work day at the office, relaxed and enjoying the build-up to his second Barcelona World Race. When asked about his final preparations, Le Cam joked that he was going to be mostly eating for the next two days. Guillermo Altadill (Neutrogena), approaching his seventh global circumnavigation, also played to the gallery:
“I live in a small village 90 kilometers from Barcelona. And I realised that I had left the lights on.. So my plan for the next two days, will be to go back tomorrow and put them out!”
But for all his humour, fiery Catalan Altadill knows he has been given a gilt edged chance of winning the race which starts and finishes on the waters where he first learned to sail, an opportunity of a victory which would rank him as the first Spaniard to win a major IMOCA race, the same as it would be for Pepe Ribes who grew up in Benissa beside Calpe, 75 kilometres down the race track.
THE OCEAN – Team Alvimedica navigator Will Oxley – once a marine scientist, now a professional sailor, always a lover of the ocean! During the Abu Dhabi stopover he paid a visit to Fossil Rock, deep in the desert, to check out a 30 million year old coral reef…CHECK IT OUT ABOVE!
SAILORS SPEAK! – TWO-time America’s Cup skipper James Spithill believes the Sydney to Hobart could attract more international entries and interest from a young generation of sport fans if a division of spectacular multi-hulls was added.
Spithill raced to Hobart aboard the American super maxi Comanche, which finished second to Wild Oats in the line honours race on the last international yachting event of 2014.
On Monday, he headed back to Sydney to prepare for the first ocean event of the year, the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour race he will do aboard the Team Australia trimaran owned by Sean Langman.
“I’d love to see it in the Hobart,” said Spithill of a multi-hull division.
SYDNEY HOBART – By 17:00 AEDT, 39 yachts had completed the 628-nm race, as the docks filled with tales from another dramatic contest. Of the 117 starters, 65 yachts are still sailing and a further 13 officially retired, unable to complete the course.
Current forecasts have four veteran yachts – Love & War, Quikpoint Azzurro,Wild Rose and the fleet’s smallest and oldest boat Maluka of Kermandie – all in contention for overall victory. All three boats represent vast contrasts to the sleek, carbon fibre-built 100-foot Maxis which dominated the race for line honours.
Simon Kurts’ Love & War is a three-time winner of the race (1974, 1978, 2006). The boat, built over forty years ago, needs to arrive in Hobart before midnight this evening to retain any chance of claiming an unprecedented fourth Tattersall’s Cup. This wooden classic won in two contrasting eras of ocean racing underlining the boat’s durability and the true spirit of the Rolex Sydney Hobart: any crew stands a chance of victory provided they demonstrate true teamwork, tactical nous and an intrepid spirit. Love & War, featuring veteran navigator Lindsay May competing in the race for a staggering 41st time, is currently approximately 40-nm from the finish.
Roger Hickman’s Farr 43 Wild Rose is a mere 29 years old and pushing hard for that elusive first Tattersall’s Cup. In poignant synergy, Wild Rose was once owned by Wild Oats XI’s Bob Oatley, whose crew yesterday claimed a record-breaking eighth line honours victory. Wild Rose has already produced a stern, resilient performance, overcoming adversity on her journey south. “We had a massive broach in 30 knots this morning with the spinnaker up,” Jenifer Wells, the crew’s navigator reported. “We laid her over a couple of times, broke the steering cable and it was looking very dicey. “We got out the emergency tiller and pulled the kite down, repaired the cable and we were back racing in 12 minutes.”
Another wooden classic is Maluka of Kermandie, a gaff-rigged huon pine beauty. Owned by one of the race’s colourful characters, Sean Langman, the 30-footer still lies some 122-nm from the finish line.
Currently leading on handicap though is Shane Kearns’ Sparkman & Stephens 34 Quickpoint Azzurro 108-nm from Hobart.
The crews arriving in Hobart this afternoon carried the look of seasoned offshore racers: tired, proud, red-eyed, salty and wind-swept.
“The race is always very different and always extremely challenging and this one was special as it was my wife’s first Rolex Sydney Hobart,” explained Philip Coombs, owner of the 42-ft Simply Fun, whose amateur crew performed miracles to even make the start line. “The team I have are brilliant. Three days before we were due to leave for Sydney our boat had extensive damage so the boat builders worked night and day for two weeks to get us ready. We are happy to be here considering all of the factors involved.”
Mark Covell on the British-flagged Swan 68, Titania of Cowes, reported: “It was an absolute classic, starting off on the nose, plenty of rail time, lots of waves over the boat, before it slowly lightened up. We then got kite up and breeze kept coming up and up; we ended coming up the Derwent (River) on the nose in a hailstorm. We pretty much had everything!”
Shortly after lunchtime on Day 3, Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI claimed her eighth Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours victory in ten years. This morning skipper Mark Richards was able to reflect on a momentous achievement for the 100-foot Maxi. “An eighth Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours win is something we never would have dreamt about ten years ago. The reception from hundreds of spectator boats and tens of thousands of people on the dock is a spectacular way to finish a yacht race.”
That high level of interest continues as the sailing world stands by to learn the identity of 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart overall winner. By regattanews.com
SYDNEY HOBART – Sean Langman is currently in first place on handicap to win corrected overall. Check out his boat and story below:
Originally built 80 years ago of Huon pine, the gaff-rigged Maluka was lovingly rebuilt by Sean Langman, better known for his high-octane yachts AAPT and Loyal. He sailed Maluka in the 2006 Rolex Sydney Hobart and was the first boat under 9.5m LOA to finish. In fact, she was the smallest boat to compete, placing eight overall, the year of the ‘golden oldies’ when Love & War won, Bacardi was second and Impeccable fifth.
In 2011 and 2012 she had the distinction of being last on line (but finished 34th overall in 2011), the irony being Langman was listening when his former Loyal sailed to a line honours win in 2011. While she carries a Sydney Amateur Sailing Club sail number, Maluka of Kermandie is representing the Port Huon Yacht Club in southern Tasmania, where Sean has extended his business interests.
WORLD ON WATER – In this week’s WoW we are in a 20 knot powerboat at full throttle chasing Jim Clark and Kristie Hinze Clark’s new USA super-maxi “aircraft carrier” Comanche as it blasts over the start line of the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and turn at the first buoy at the heads in a stunning 4 min 34secs, a race record time, Team Vestas Wind’s Volvo 65 is removed from the reef, Jim Clark explains his “Comanche” campaign, we catch up with Loick Peyron in Australia for the Moth Worlds in January and Bob Oatley’s maxi Wild Oats XI wins its eighth line honours trophy for the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart.
SYDNET HOBART – It’s a 3-way finish as the two super maxi’s Rio100 and Ragamuffin with the smaller Volvo 70 Blackjack, are all grouped together trying to finish. Who will win? Follow the action and check out the ‘finish’ video by CLICKING HERE for the latest news.
COMANCHE NEWS – As far as the America’s Cup winning skipper Jimmy Spithill is concerned, there is now unfinished business between Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winner Wild Oats XI and the US supermaxi she beat across the finish line, Comanche.
Spithill was one of six helmsmen on Comanche.
“We can’t leave it at that,” he declared after finishing in Hobart. He says that on his watch this morning the boat reached a top speed of 32 knots and knows what she is capable of.
“Everybody got to see the true potential of this boat at the start. I remember looking up at Kenny (Ken Read, the skipper) and he just had this huge grin from ear to ear. Unfortunately we just didn’t see those sort of conditions again until the end of Bass Strait.”
Of course, young James doesn’t pay the bills. Logistically it is impossible for Comanche to come back to Australia next year but is 2016 likely?
Skipper Ken Read deferred to co-owner Kristy Hinze Clark who said it was a matter for the Big Chief, husband Jim Clark.
Ken: “Kristy, they want to know if we’ll be back next year?”
Kristy: “They’ll have to talk to big chief!”
Ken: “Big chief is not going to talk about that now!”
Read reflected on the crucial point of the race – the high-pressure ridge in Bass Strait.
“We were about a quarter of the way into Bass Strait and expecting a westerly breeze, and all of a sudden Stan (navigator Stan Honey) came up from down below and said ‘I just got a new weather file, this is not looking good’.
“We were two miles ahead of them, in bumpy seas, and they literally went by us, probably going a knot or two faster at the time, and they just sailed into more pressure and just kept extending on the whole fleet.
“Both boats sailed a flawless race; but they had their day. They had 12 hours where they had Wild Oats’ weather, but that’s racing.
“You can already see Comanche is already changing sailing as we speak,” Read said.
So after this first race have they identified any changes they will make to the boat?
“Here’s the start of my list,” he said, holding up a piece of paper with top-secret to-dos written on it.
“It’s brand new, we’re just starting. Before this race started, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We knew we had a good boat right off the start line, the way it just took off on that windy reach.
“Unfortunately we’ve always known we had that one blemish in light air, and that became a dominant feature in the race, so that’s unfortunate for us.”
Designer Xavier Guilbaud said he couldn’t take his eyes off the yacht tracker, keeping notes as Comanche changed angles and the wind circled the compass.
And, he was a bit more forthcoming with his list.
“I’m excited to see Ken’s list, but on top of my own list, what I can see, is work on the weight of the boat to try to lighten her up a bit more, to increase performances in light winds,” he said.
“I’ll discuss with the guys here, a little later, the little bits and pieces on the deck to improve manoeuvres, how the boat is sailed. Then on the sail configuration; how to use each sail, in which condition and improve the sail shapes.
“I think we do have a record breaker on our hands. The real answer will be in June next year when it does the Transatlantic Race. I think the boat is really fast.”
Read was effusive in his praise of the Wild Oats’ crew.
“Wild Oats deserves all its success,” he said, though fate had been against them on Day 2 in Bass Strait when Wild Oats made the better of negotiating a weather ridge that proved the defining moment of the race.
“This was their day; they had their 12 hours; they had Wild Oats’ weather; but that is boat racing,” he said.
“They deserve their eighth record, Lord knows we tried hard to take it from them. This team, our team, did an unbelievable job, and special credit to the boat builders and the design team because Lord knows we tried to break it, and it wouldn’t break.”
By Bruce Montgomery, RSHYR Media
SYDNEY HOBART – Another boat bites the dust – After being dismasted a short time ago in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, Giacomo, the Volvo 70 owned by New Zealander Jim Delegat, is motoring to the lee of Maria Island where her owner and crew will assess the weather ahead before deciding whether to motor to Hobart. Eleven yachts have retired from the race to-date, and with Wild Oats XI taking her record eighth line honours victory and Comanche finishing a short time later, 104 yachts remain at sea.
In other race news, a very disappointed Bill Wild has retired his Reichel/Pugh 55, Wedgetail, from the race after suffering mast damage in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 628 nautical mile race at approximately 7.40pm off Schouten Island. All are safe and well on board. The yacht is motoring to Schouten Passage.
In last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, Wedgetail, from Queensland, was dismasted in a south-west gale east of Tasman Island in the early hours of December 29; this time it was the hard running conditions that took their toll.
Last year not forgotten by the crew, sailing master Kevin Costin said prior to this race, “We’re checking everything, and checking it twice; dotting our ‘Is’ and crossing our ’Ts’.”
The next three yachts expected to finish are the two supermaxis, Manouch Moshayedi’s RIO 100 (US), Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100 along with Peter Harburg’s VOR70, Black Jack – and not necessarily in that order. Ragamuffin 100 has been taking miles out of her US counterpart and may beat her to the punch. The trio is expected around 10.30pm, provided the breeze in the Derwent does not shut down on them.
By Di Pearson, RSHYR media
SYDNEY HOBART RACE – She did it! Wild Oats XI wins record 8th Sydney Hobart first to finish trophy. Comanche gave a great effort as she lead 50% of the way but a light wind hole gave Wild Oats the lead she needed to win. Less than 10 miles behind, Comanche is close to the finish and a great maiden voyage finish! To see Wild Oats XI finish CLICK HERE! To follow the fleet CLICK HERE!
SYDNEY HOBART – The only yacht capable of denying Wild Oats XI a place in history is the American Maxi Comanche, lying some 11-nm behind and rapidly closing the gap as the crews prepare for the notoriously unpredictable final stretch through Storm Bay and the Derwent River and to the finish line in Hobart, Tasmania.
The Mark Richards-skippered Wild Oats XI extended her lead throughout the second night, taking advantage of a high-pressure ridge in the Bass Strait. Wild Oats XI’s lead is far from insurmountable, the stretch through the Derwent is likely to be decisive. Given the designs of the two Maxis are so vast, the conditions in the final leg of the race could still favour the Ken Read-skippered Comanche.
The remainder of the fleet are compressed coming down the New South Wales coast and expected to benefit from the dramatic increase in breeze forecast from Sunday evening to Monday morning.
Of the 117 yachts which started the race, nice have been forced to retire.
Follow the race on the live tracker:
SYDNEY HOBART – The crew on the American super maxi Comanche have not thrown in the towel. They do not believe the race for line honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart is over despite Wild Oats XI’s commanding lead.
“Nothing is over until it is over,” was the determined word from crewman Kimo Worthington this morning.
Over the past three hours they have steadily whittled down the Australian yacht’s lead from 40 miles to less than 15, and they believe that if they can get that gap down a little more by the time the leaders reach Tasman Island they will be in a position to capitalise on any misfortune that befalls the race leader. Currently Comanche is sailing at 14.9 knots while Wild Oats XI is sailing at 10.5….
“The guys have pushed really hard to get the gap down,” Worthington said. “It is going to be very tricky down there. We are going to cross our fingers and hope we will be a little lucky. We want to put on a good show in the Derwent River.”
The fluky conditions forecast for Tasman later today have decided the race before. It is the frontrunner’s dilemma, when the lead boat sails into a hole and watches her rival sail around her. It happened to Wild Oats XI in 2011, when Investec Loyal sailed around her to win the race. Incredibly, Stan Honey, who is navigating Comanche this year was the navigator on Investec Loyal that year.
Indeed Wild Oats XI owes her lead to yesterday’s bizarre conditions in Bass Strait. The lithe Australian squeezed through the gate of a high pressure ridge moving across the Strait and then scooted away from the heavier, beamy Comanche as she wallowed in the breathless air.
“We didn’t like that at all,” says Worthington. “The head sea was awful. We were just banging away while Oats sailed away from us.”
But whatever happens today Worthington says the crew are delighted with how well their untested boat has performed, her Bass Strait misadventures notwithstanding.
“We knew we wouldn’t be good in five knots and a head sea, but look at the last few hours. We’re very pleased.”
BWR – The Barcelona World Race is the first and only double-handed (two crew per boat), non-stop, round the world regatta. It is a lap of the globe starting and finishing in Barcelona (Spain). External assistance is permitted, although there are strict penalty regulations. This is an extreme sporting challenge and ocean adventure that puts human limits to the test.
The Barcelona World Race 2014/15 is the third edition of the regatta. The first edition was held in 2007/08 and the second in 2010/11.
The start of the race is on the 31st of December 2014 at 13h00, with the starting line positioned opposite the W Barcelona hotel at the city’s port. The finishes are forecasted for the end of March 2015.
The boats cover some 23,000 nautical miles in a circumnavigation from Barcelona to Barcelona, putting the capes of Good Hope (South Africa), Leeuwin (Australia) and Horn (Chile) to port (their left) and the Antarctic to starboard (their right). During the three months of racing the skippers make their way through 12 climate zones and cross 3 oceans, as well as sailing in the Mediterranean Sea. [The course]
The crews race on IMOCA 60 yachts, 18 metres in length. Their masts can reach up to a maximum of 29 metres, as high as a building with ten floors.
Regulations for technical stops
- The Barcelona World Race 2014/15 permits a maximum of three technical stops.
- A ‘technical stop’ is any stop during the race to carry out technical repairs with external assistance to enable the crew to complete the regatta.
- The technical stop begins when the boat is moored at a port or an anchoring spot.
- If the boat anchors at sea, with no external assistance, this is not considered a technical stop.
- The total number of days for a stop (or the total of all three stops) must not exceed eight days.
- When a technical stop is made, the boat must stay at the port, or the location where assistance is being received for a minimum of 24 hours before restarting the race. That rule is applicable to any stopping point on the course.
- A return to Barcelona after the start is not penalised, but the yacht must restart the race within eight days.
SYDNEY HOBART – Will the 70th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race have been decided between lunch and tea today?
That’s the conclusion that one might well draw from the huge difference in the performance of the Hamilton Island super maxi Wild Oats XI and her main challenger, the US boat Comanche
In the words of race photographer Daniel Forster, who flew over the fleet this afternoon, “Comanche looks like she’s stuck to the water”.
Having passed Comanche at about 10.00am as they entered Bass Strait in light airs, Wild Oats XI maintained a speed of 12-15 knots, twice that of Comanche, for most of the afternoon, until the lead had opened out to more than 20 nautical miles at 6 pm and now has a 38 mile lead.
Meteorologists offered the view that Wild Oats XI had managed to sail through a ridge in Bass Strait, while Comanche had been stalled by it.
Asked why she was only doing 6.6 knots, Comanche tweeted, “No wind”.
With the wind expected to clock round from the west to the north-east during the night and strengthen, the leading boats may reach Tasman Island by early afternoon tomorrow, but they may also face light and variable winds in Storm Bay and the River Derwent. Those conditions may be Comanche’s only salvation.
Unfortunately for them, she appears to have found one of the few holes in the wind. Elsewhere, Forster reports, yachts were enjoying champagne sailing conditions.
The biggest casualty in the race so far is the third-placed super maxi Perpetual Loyal. She is making for Sydney having suffered hull damage during the night, caused either by slamming into the sea from the tops of waves or hitting something, according to afterguard crew Tom Slingsby.
Loyal is the eighth retirement.
Leading on corrected time is Sam Haynes’ Rogers 46, ADA Celestial. Sam is a Sydney veterinarian who is raising money for Assistance Dogs Australia, dogs for the disabled.
“We are going ok. All is well,” he said.
“Pretty nice, but the residual swell against the tide is making the kite trimmers and helm busy.”
Kevin Costin on Wedgetail nailed it at Green Cape this afternoon when he noted:
“It seems the navigators and tacticians have made some different calls here. It will be interesting to see who buys the beers!”
On board Wild Rose, navigator Jenifer Wells pondered the night that had been:
“The breeze wasn’t so bad; it was the strong current that made the seas rough.”
On Balance, skipper Paul Clitheroe reviewed the discomfort for all concerned:
“The old saying goes ‘shaken not stirred’ but last night we were both shaken and stirred; 25 to 28 knots from the south/south-east saw a very lumpy sea state.
“Balance, and I sure the rest of the fleet, spent the night either flying off the short but sharp seas or much to the dismay of the crew, charging straight through them.
“I’m not sure what is worse. The flying is OK, but landing a 52-foot carbon boat time and time again makes me very nervous. She crashes back into the water, the rig compresses and groans and off she goes again.
“Driving straight through a wave is much better for the boat, only we all get saturated.”
SYDNEY HOBART – The lighter wind and going to weather favors Wild Oats XI as she has passed Comanche and has a 5 mile lead. She is sailing faster and pointing higher in the lighter stuff. But if the wind increases slightly, Comanche seems to hold her own going to weather. So it could be in the hands of the wind gods on which boat will claim first across the finish line. To track the fleet CLICK HERE!
UPDATE #1 – Wild Oats XI is moving out on Comanche. What was a 5 mile lead is now 15! currently Wild Oats XI is sailing at close to 13 knots and Comanche only 7 knots. Either Comanche has a problem or they are stuck in a hole. Stay tuned…
SYDNEY HOBART – One of the super maxis vying for line honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal, has retired and is returning to her home club at Rose Bay in Sydney.
The crew believes the yacht may have hit something at about 9 pm last night (2100 AEDT), the hull started delaminating and the yacht took on water in the bow.
The crew is safe and expected to arrive at port in about 24 hours.
The extent of the damage will not be known until the yacht is out of the water.
Understandably, the crew is “devastated”.
Perpetual Loyal advised the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia it was retiring with hull damage just after 0800 AEDT today when she was east of Eden.
Broken rudders, sail and hull damage rendered in a tough opening night’s southerly have forced eight yachts to retire in less than 20 hours of racing.
The retirees are Tina of Melbourne, Bear Necessity, Willyama, Last Tango, Occasional Coarse Language Too, Triton, and Brindabella and Perpetual Loyal.
SYDNEY HOBART – Above you will find TWO starts – The first by the SH organizers and the second by Boats on TV taken ‘raw’ in one take. Check out the speed of Comanche at about 2 minutes in the ‘raw’ video… pretty impressive!
FRIDAY UPDATE #2 – Comanche and Wild Oats XI have pulled away from the pack. It’s a match race as they are within a mile of each other with Ragamuffin 100 fifteen miles behind them.
FRIDAY UPDATE #1 – Comanche still leads ahead of Wild Oats XI but just by a mile. It is a match race now. They are currently just behind the elapsed record pace set by Wild Oats XI which now stands at 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes 12 seconds. The top 5 boats are within 9 miles of each other with Blackjack, a Volvo 70, sitting at 5th elapsed only 9 miles behind Comanche. Great racing!!!
To follow them on the TRACKER, CLICK HERE.
SYDNEY HOBART RACE – It was Boxing Day and time to race! XS Sailing posted the start of the 70th running of the Sydney to Hobart LIVE FEED. It was an amazing start to an amazing race to date. Check the updates below to catch up and to follow the fleet on the TRACKER, CLICK HERE!
UPDATE #5 – Comanche is on the move. As Perpetual Loyal and Comanche converge, Comanche seems to have better speed and has taken the lead. But it is a tighter race with the top 5 maxi boats within 5 miles of each other. Wild Oats XI is only 2 miles behind the leader in 3rd place. It’s still anyone’s race.
UPDATE #4 – The inside paid off! Perpetual Loyal and Ragamuffin 100 are in 1st and 2nd place respectively. Comanche and Wild Oats XI went outside and lost ground. But the racing is still tight as the spread between the top four maxis is less than 4 miles.
UPDATE #3 – Comanche and Wild Oats XI are heading out to sea while Perpetual Loyal and Ragamuffin 100 are staying inside and tacking up the coast. Which navigator will be right? Looks like the guys inside are leading sailing faster… but will the wind and direction hold for them?… Stay tuned!
UPDATE #2 – Comanche wins the start and leads the fleet to the ocean. Wild Oats XI is in second but pointing higher as they tack up the coast.
UPDATE #1: At the final briefing for crews at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia this morning, the Bureau of Meteorology’s Andrew Treloar told the sailors that a southerly front is expected to move through Sydney about an hour before race start.
So it will be a colourful spinnaker start in a 15 knot southerly before the yachts turn at Sydney Heads to begin a long first day’s bash into a 20 to 28 knot offshore southerly, with the breeze even stronger the further south the boats go.
The fleet will be led out to sea by the five 100ft maxis, but don’t blink or you’ll miss them. They will drag race to the first mark, and will be there in minutes. It will make for perhaps the race’s most exciting start in its 70 year history.
Once they turn south, the skippers of these giants will then have to tread a very fine line, choosing when to race flat out and when to slow down to preserve the boat.
Ken Read, the skipper of the untested American Comanche can’t wait. “We’re ready. To me it looks like a nice sailboat racing day. A little breezy, a little lumpy, but if our boat can’t handle 25 knots and a little bit of bump then something’s wrong.
“We’re pretty psyched with this forecast; we’ll do a little bit of reaching across Bass Strait, which is quite good for us. It’s really the end of the race that looks a little difficult, a little bit light.”
“We hate the light stuff and certainly like the heavier stuff,” Perpetual Loyal’s Anthony Bell enthused now that the latest forecast is saying that at the time the front runners enter Bass Strait the wind will be a bit stronger than expected a few days ago.
“I don’t think we should leave much in the tank at the front end of this race,” Bell says. All the maxi skippers believe that being in the best place for the transitions from one weather pattern to the next will be critical on the dash for line honours.
With better breeze now expected off the Tasmanian coast, the front runner will hold a real edge. There do not appear to be too many passing lanes on offer later in the race.
There will be times though, on the weekend, when the breeze will be quite soft before a powerful northerly drives the back half of the fleet home. An outright Rolex Sydney Hobart handicap victory is the holy grail of Australian ocean racing. In recent year it has been the preserve of the 50 and 60 footers, but Ed Psaltis, the skipper of the Ker 40 St GeorgeMidnight Rambler, reckons this could be the year of the 40 footers.
“This forecast is fantastic. We couldn’t get a better forecast. It’s good for the 50’s but better for us. They come home on a building breeze, but it will be well and truly set in when we come down the Tassie coast, we’ll be smoking.”
That big northerly on Monday will push the small boats home at full speed, and Psaltis concedes that it will suit his arch rival, Bruce Taylor’s Caprice 40 Chutzpah. “We need to get in front of them on this first night by a reasonable amount,” Psaltis says. “We’re better upwind, but Chutzpah is the fastest downwind 40 footer in Australia.”
Michael Spies, who will be one of the drivers on the Farr 55 Onesails Racing, concedes that the 40 footers are looking good: “If you were holding the book, you’d definitely have the small boats covered,” he says.
But he knows the weather never goes to plan and the 50s could still triumph: “It doesn’t take much to turn the race around. If we can get through the light patch alright it could definitely go back to the 50 footers.”
Probably a record fast start, probably not a record race, definitely a fascinating contest over the next three or four days – impossible to nominate an outright line honours or handicap winner.
The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia and webcast live to a global audience on Yahoo!7.
A Parade of Sail will take place from 10.30am to 11.30am, before a fleet of 117 will set sail from three start lines in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on December 26 at 1.00pm AEDT.
By Jim Gale, RSHYR media
SYDNEY HOBART RACE – The brand new super maxi Comanche lived up to all the hype today when she lead the Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet out of the Harbour in one of the most spectacular, high speed starts in the race’s history.
Designed for fast broad reaching, the 15 knot plus south-easterly breeze on the harbour was made to order for the big red and black hulled yacht owned by American Jim Clark and his Australian wife, Kristy. After a brilliant start slightly ahead and to leeward of Wild Oats XI, Comanche swiftly unfurled her giant spinnaker and took off, quickly ‘rolling the Oats’, causing skipper Mark Richards to exclaim from the wheel of Wild Oats XI “She’s smoking – look at that thing go.”
As they raced down the harbour, Comanche, skippered by Ken Read, steadily widened the gap. In around five minutes they were rounding the first mark with Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI more than 30 seconds behind her. Then came Syd Fischer’s newly hulled Ragamuffin 100 and Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal.
The sleigh ride was over. Down came the spinnakers, Wild Oats XI and Ragamuffin quickly reefed their giant mainsails, while Comanche just kept going as the frontrunners began to beat their way out to the seamark in a lumpy, uncomfortable sea that was fast being churned into full washing machine mode as the spectator boats cluttered around them.
With their sails hardened up, WildOats XI hung onto Comanche’s coattails as they clawed their way to the mark. Just ten minutes into the race, the American passed the yellow buoy. There are no records, but unofficially no boat has left Sydney Harbour more quickly in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 628 nautical mile race.
The two leading boats continued beating out to sea, as did the third placed Ragamuffin 100, but startlingly, Perpetual Loyal tacked around the mark and charged through the spectator fleet towards the cliffs at South Head, tacking again under the Macquarie Lighthouse to head offshore in slightly cleaner water as most of the spectator fleet followed Comanche and WildOats XI.
Next out to sea were the V70s Blackjack and Giacomo, already engaged in a fierce one on one duel that will not end until the reach Hobart, followed by Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio 100.
And behind them the remainder of this 117 strong fleet paraded between the Heads in a remarkably tight line, every single boat enjoying this amazingly swift start. Well placed were Ichi Ban, OneSails Racing and last year’s winner, Victoire. And one of the big unknown quantities in this race, the Botin 65 racer/cruiser Caro from the Cayman Islands has shown a very good turn of speed. Watch this space indeed.
Even Sean Langman’s 82 year old gaffer Maluka of Kermandie, the oldest and smallest boat in the fleet, had rounded the first mark inside 30 minutes. An unheard of time for the little 9 metre veteran that may, or then again may not, arrive in Hobart in time for New Year.
Sadly, not long after the start, two yachts were forced to retire: Tina of Melbourne with hull damage and Bear Necessity with a damaged rudder. Both are returning to Sydney.
By Jim Gale, RSHYR media
SYDNEY HOBART RACE – From a day ago, the skippers of the five 100 foot super maxis battling for Line Honors in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race speak about the boats, the weather and their expectations.
In less than 3 hours the race will begin! Stay tuned as we will bring you live streaming video of the start. Who will get out of the gate first?
SYDNEY HOBART RACE – To get you in the mood for this year’s 2014 Sydney Hobart race let’s go back one year to see how challenging this race can be to say the least.
Last year Wild Oats XI had to come from behind to win against Perpetual Loyal. With Comanche ‘on paper’ a faster boat, can Wild Oats XI hold off the two wide flat bottom girls?
SYDNEY HOBART RACE – If talk around the dock in the last 24-hours is anything to go by, the big boats are genuinely concerned about keeping their craft in one piece. Check out this excellent video report by SBS news.
SYDNEY HOBART RACE – He cut his Sydney to Hobart teeth in the fiercest race of all under the toughest taskmaster of them all.
Now, 16 years later, as he prepares to race against his 87-year old mentor Syd Fischer, James Spithill insists he is still learning, despite recently being named male World Sailor of the year.
Spithill is about to embark upon his third Sydney to Hobart, scoring a place on the star-studded crew of new American supermaxi Comanche, the boat co-owned by American billionaire Jim Clark and his Australian wife Kristy Hinze-Clark.
Spithill is no stranger to being a gun for hire, having skippered two triumphant America’s Cup campaigns for Larry Ellison.
It was his future employer Ellison, who Spithill didn’t know back then, that took Sydney to Hobart line honours on Sayonara in 1998, the first time the Australian contested the iconic ocean race.
Aboard Fischer’s Ragamuffin, Spithill endured a torrid initiation to the race in a year in which six sailors lost their life in hellish conditions.
“It was definitely an extreme, no question,” Spithill told AAP.
“I really remember thinking how lucky I was to have such a great team around me on Syd’s boat.
“He just had so many experienced guys. I think a few of them aboard had been involved in that (1979) Fastnet race (in which 18 people died), so collectively on board it was a team with a lot of depth and it was a pretty well-proven boat.
“But it was quite the initiation.”
Spithill is just one of many young Australian sailors who served an apprenticeship with Fischer, who at 87 is the oldest competitor in the race’s history.
“He said to me ‘if you want to be a professional sailor, you can’t just steer the boat, you’ve got to learn how to run the boat’,” Spithill said.
“I went to running his boats and that really gave me the opportunity in ocean racing, but also ultimately in the America’s Cup, he gave me my start.
“I think for a lot of Australian yachtsmen he’s given them an opportunity and you know it’s not an easy door to walk through.
“He’s a hard man, but certainly some of the key lessons I’ve learnt, I’ve learnt because of him.
“I always looked up to him, the fact that he came from nothing and worked his way up and I loved that.”
Spithill sailed aboard Comanche in her first competitive race in the recent Big Boat Challenge and accepted an invitation to join the crew for the Hobart.
“It’s an impressive boat, very very powerful, and there’s a lot of potential there,” Spithill said.
“It’s a collection of guys that have won the Volvo Ocean Race, America’s Cup winners, there’s some very very experienced guys.
“It’s definitely some of the best ocean racing guys in the world.
“It’s a fantastic learning opportunity for me, and it’s just great to be back down under for the race.”
Story by AAP
SYDNEY HOBART – Sailors in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart should watch what they eat on Christmas day or they may well watch Christmas dinner all over again on Boxing Day.
At the Christmas Eve briefing at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia this morning, the skippers of the 117 competing yachts were told the race will start in a 15 knot southerly, with 20 knots of breeze offshore. By Friday afternoon it will be blowing between 20 to 30 knots, and with a southerly wind pushing against a current from the north, the seas will be very choppy and uncomfortable, on a two to two and a half metre swell.
It all makes for a very uncomfortable day before the sailors have time to fully develop their sea-legs. Many crews will find managing sea-sickness as big a challenge as managing the boat.
Those 20 knot southerlies will persist over Friday night, though as the frontrunners get further south they will cross a ridge of pressure that will swing the wind from the south-east to the south-west and the breeze will be pretty light as they head across Bass Strait.
It will freshen up from the west in the afternoon in the Strait, boosting the frontrunners, while further north, the back half of the fleet will begin to revel in their first taste of a northerly.
On Saturday evening the wind in Bass Strait will be pretty light again, though it will be fresher from the west as the leaders approach Tasman Island.
The breeze will freshen up on Sunday, and the back half of the fleet will scoot across Bass Strait in a good overnight northerly, and really crack down the Tasmanian coast as the Bureau of Meteorology expects to issue a strong wind warning.
It is a real mixed bag of a forecast for the super maxis racing for line honours. They are such different styles of boat and the forecast doesn’t appear to overwhelmingly favour one design over another.
Anthony Bell though, the skipper of the wide powerful Perpetual Loyal, likes what he sees for that first day. “The first15 hours are something we are probably really looking forward to,” he says, though all the skippers of the big boats concede that there will be times on Friday afternoon when they will have to slow their boats down.
“Going into a southerly on the first day is always a challenge, especially for the big boats,” says Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards. “We’re going twice the speed of the smaller boats in those conditions, so it’s a real challenge to keep the big boats in one piece. Our boat being 10 years old is a bit of an advantage for us, because we know the boat very well.”
Ken Read, the skipper of the untried Comanche agrees that the first day will be a big test for the brand new super maxi. “We’ll all try to keep our Christmas dinners down,” he jokes.
”It would almost be a bit of a shock if we didn’t get a southerly front in this race, so we’ll try to keep it in one piece, but this is an entirely untested boat and I am as curious as anybody about how she is going to react. We’re ready to go. There are only so many days of preparation you can do.”
This is not a wonderful forecast for the very wide American dubbed ‘the aircraft carrier’. “You could just about fit two Wild Oats XI’s inside our hull,” Read says. “The design concepts were built for two very different reasons.
“Comanche is meant to reach across the oceans – to break Trans-Atlantic records – to take advantage of cracked-sheet conditions. Did we try to design something that would go upwind? Of course, but she’s s not designed specifically for this race.”
Yet while boat preservation may be the order of the day on the maxis, on day one Bell is inclined to press his advantage. “My tactician reckons the rich will get richer in this race. The front is something we want to do really well at, and for us to do well in this race, we’ll probably have to chance our arm a little bit.”
The dark horses will be Rio 100 and Syd Fischer’s as yet pretty much unseen Ragamuffin 100. Rio’s skipper Manouch Moshayedi likes the fact that without technical do-dads like canting keels, the lightweight Rio is a lot simple than her rivals. “There is less to go wrong,” he says.
Syd, despite some hectic days repairing a major structural problem with Ragamuffin 100’s deck is, as always, keeping his cards close to his chest. I think Rags will hold together,” he offers, “she’s pretty slippery through the water.”
In a perverse sort of way, Wild Oats XI had a bit of luck on the weekend. A boom fitting broke. “It was a problem that has obviously been there for a quite a while. It’s one of those things you don’t see until it actually breaks, so we were fortunate that, in not a lot of wind, it broke on Saturday.”
They are still fixing the problem, and the crew will have to interrupt Chrissie lunch for a test sail, but the fault could have so easily have revealed itself six days later than it did.
All the big boat skippers concede that this will not be a race-record year.
It will be a slow race, and the slower it is the happier Lindsay May, the renowned navigator on Love & War will be. He steered the veteran yacht to a win in the slow, long-bash-to windward 2006 race and he likes what he sees this year. With a good northerly expected, after the hot shots are already in port, he’s even put a couple of quid on the boat at the TAB, though he reckons he will have to watch out for Wild Rose, another veteran designed to the old IOR rule.
May wants conditions in Bass Strait to stay soft for the 50 and 60 footers, as well as the race leaders, so a lot depends on the timing of the wind transitions. There will almost certainly be a few holes off the Tasmanian coast as well. “If they have just a couple of hours when they are below their optimum rating figures, it really helps us slower boats,” he says.
“The soft patch on the second day – how long it lasts and how quickly it fills in could take the race from the 45 to the 50 footers,” says Wild Rose’s skipper, Roger Hickman. “If there is fast running down the Tasmanian coast it could be the 50s that win this race. They’ll run away from us.”
Ray Roberts owner of the Farr 55, OneSails Racing, agrees. “If we can crack sheets we can do comparatively well.”
Things will change between now and Boxing Day. The initial front is coming through earlier than the Bureau had anticipated earlier this week, and the speed and strength of the westerly transition remains the sixty-four thousand dollar question.
The forecast seems to have a little bit for everyone, tantalising the swift 40 footers like St George Midnight Rambler and Chutzpah as well as the usual suspects, the 60 foot Ichi Ban, the TP52s and the Cookson 50, Victoire, last year’s winner.
“There’s another front coming in that could hurt the tailenders. I always worry about the timing on that,” says Victoire’s owner, Darryl Hodgkinson, “but for us, being a 50 footer, I’m reasonably pleased.
“I’ve not got a sad face. I’ve got a little smile,” Hodgkinson says.
The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia and webcast live to a global audience on Yahoo!7.
A Parade of Sail will take place from 10.30am to 11.30am, before a fleet of 117 will set sail from three start lines in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on December 26 at 1.00pm AEDT.
By Jim Gale, RSHYR media
Panel – from left: Ken Read – Skipper, Comanche, Mark Richards – Skipper, Wild Oats XI, Manouch Moshayedi – Owner RIO 100, Anthony Bell – Skipper, Perpetual Loyal, Sid Fischer – Owner Ragamuffin 100.
RIGGING MADE EASY – Make an easy to grip handle for the end of your control lines. Works on Laser Cunninghams and Outhauls, Laser Vangs, or any dinghy or small keelboat where you need the extra grip. CHECK OUT THE VIDEO ABOVE!
RIO – Olympic chiefs have pledged to arrest fears that sailors and windsurfers at the next Games will not just have to deal with their rivals on the water but a potential super-bug under it. Researchers have found a bacteria more typically encountered in hospital waste which produces the enzyme KPC in several different locations along the Carioca River, which feeds Guanabara Bay where the sailing events will take place. Check out the video above for more.
LIVING LEGENDS – Loick Peyron has won almost everything in ocean sailing. He is the fastest sailor around the world. He won this year’s Route du Rhum and beat his ’round the world’ 130 foot boat and he did it singlehanded. Then there’s more. Check out this interview as Loick visits Australia.