Official unveiling of the OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black "Volvo Ocean Race" Limited Edition timepiece (Photo © George Bekris)

Official unveiling of the OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black “Volvo Ocean Race” Limited Edition timepiece (Photo © George Bekris)

As the Official Timekeeper of the Volvo Ocean Race, OMEGA has been keeping a precise eye on this year’s action at sea. The sailors have now stopped in Newport, Rhode Island, to complete Leg 8 of the race, and OMEGA celebrated the moment by unveiling its newly-designed winner’s watch.

The Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black “Volvo Ocean Race” Limited Edition by OMEGA (Photo © George Bekris)

The Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black “Volvo Ocean Race” Limited Edition by OMEGA (Photo © George Bekris)

 The Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black “Volvo Ocean Race” Limited Edition will be presented to the winning team of this year’s race when it concludes in The Hague in June. The timepiece will also be available publicly, but only 73 models have been created overall (in tribute to the year that the Ocean Race first began).

 Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO of OMEGA, recently spoke about the watch and said, “OMEGA has loved following this exciting and unique race so far. We wanted our winner’s watch to be as beautifully designed as the boats themselves, and also precise and robust to reflect the tough sailing conditions that the competitors face. I think the ‘Deep Black’ is the perfect way to do this and we’re looking forward to presenting it to the winning team.”

Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO of OMEGA, America’s Cup Emirates Team New Zealand’s winning skipper Peter Burling and MAPFRE helmsman and trimmer Blake Tuke at unveiling (Photo © George Bekris)

 The 45.50 mm timepiece is a divers’ chronograph with a black rubber strap, yet its strong design is just as capable of withstanding the extreme pressures of ocean sailing. The casebody has been crafted from black ceramic, while red rubber has been used to cover the first 15 minutes of the unidirectional bezel. Liquidmetal™ then completes the rest of the diving scale.

 

The brushed black ceramic dial includes each Limited Edition number, as well as 18K white gold hour-minute hands and indexes. On the subdial at 3 o’clock, OMEGA has included a red Volvo Ocean Race ring with coloured hands and number 12. Another reference to the event can be found on the oriented caseback, where OMEGA has included the official “Volvo Ocean Race” logo.

OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black being modeled by Blair Tuke (Photo © George Bekris)

OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black being modeled by Blair Tuke (Photo © George Bekris)

Finally, it’s important to note that the winner’s watch reaches the pinnacle of precision, thanks to its OMEGA Master Chronometer calibre 9900. Having passed the 8 rigorous tests set by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS), this Master Chronometer certification represents the highest standard of performance in the Swiss watch industry.

Brian Carlin gave the press some insights on life aboard a VOR65 for the Imbedded Media Crew. (Photo © George Bekris)

Brian Carlin gave the press some insights on life aboard a VOR65 for the Embedded Media Crew. (Photo © George Bekris)

Prior to the unveiling Brian Carlin former embedded media crew on Vestas gave the press some insight into the life of they lead on the VOR65. The embedded are not allowed to participate in the sailing other than making coffee which he said can make you popular or unpopular depending on your ability to brew a pot.

The coverage a media member on the team has also changed drastically with this edition of the VOR because of the introduction to drone photography and video coverage.  They now have the ability to shoot photos and video from above and hundreds of feet away from the boat at distances out to sea that in other races was beyond the reach of chase boats and helicopters. For the first time 1500 miles from land in the southern ocean they have the ability to document and stream beautifully composed documentation of the boats at sea. It gives the audience around the world an ability to see what usually a helicopter would only be able to see. That prior to now has always been an impossibility in the VOR and any circumnavigations of the world where the boats travel well offshore. They can also inspect the rigging from above and meters away from the masts and sails for any impending problems or concerns.

I did have one question I asked Brian and that was if they lost any of those new drones to the ocean. He smiled and declined to tell me the number they have lost only that accidents do happen out there. I took that to mean the did loose at least one prior to arriving in Newport. But for the advantages given by having those drones losing a couple is probably an acceptable risk.

One shot I liked in the photo display at the village was by Media crew Jen Edney was a photo of a crew members watch wrapped on a stuffed animal. A little touch of soft comfy home life in comparison to the harsh environment they face daily and no doubt that stuffed animal was looked at numerous times daily to keep track of time.

Stuffed animal timekeeper by embedded Media crew Jen Edney (Photo © George Bekris)

Brian also took the press by photos taken by various embedded media crew during the legs so far. There was a display of prints by each boats media crew and some of their favorite shots.  As you can imagine it’s difficult to be in a 65 by 20 foot space for months at a time and keep the photography fresh and interesting.

 

 

Press conference for the OMEGA unveiling at the Sailor's Terrace in Newport. (Photo © George Bekris)

Press conference for the OMEGA unveiling at the Sailor’s Terrace in Newport. (Photo © George Bekris)

#VOR  #OMEGA #Seamaster #LimitedEdition #SeamasterPlanetOcean #VolvoOceanRace #VolvoOceanRaceNewport #VORnewport

 

The most westerly team in the Antigua Bermuda Race is Arnt Bruhn's German Class40 Iskareen © Ted Martin

The most westerly team in the Antigua Bermuda Race is Arnt Bruhn’s German Class40 Iskareen © Ted Martin

After the first night at sea for the international fleet in the Antigua Bermuda Race the pace is relentless. The leading teams Warrior and Varuna are now over 300 miles offshore, blast reaching through two metre swell in the Atlantic Ocean. Warrior was observed to be hitting a top speed of 25 knots last night. At 1200 UTC on Day Two, the turbo-charged Volvo 70 Warrior, sailed by Stephen Murray Jr. had averaged 18 knots since the start of the race and will achieve a 24 hour run of about 450 miles; well inside record pace. Jens Kellinghusen’s German Ker 56 Varuna is also set for a 400 mile run in 24 hours. Varuna is 30 miles behind Warrior but is estimated to be leading the fleet after IRC time correction.The most easterly of the chasing pack is Giles Redpath’s British Lombard 46 Pata Negra, skippered by Oliver Heer. Pata Negra’s crew include Gareth Glover, two-time skipper in the Clipper Round the World Race and the rest of the crew are all Oliver’s friends from Switzerland, and will be celebrating his 30th birthday today: “I love to sail, but it does take me away from my friends and family, so when I knew I would be at sea for my 30th, what better way to celebrate than with friends racing to Bermuda!” commented Oliver before the race.

The most westerly team is Arnt Bruhn’s German Class40 Iskareen. Arnt has competed in over five transatlantic races, winning his division on numerous occasions. After the Antigua Bermuda Race, Iskareen will compete in the Atlantic Anniversary Regatta, racing 3,900 miles from Bermuda to Hamburg, organised by the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (NRV) of which Arnt Bruhns is a member. Arnt will then take part in the solo Route du Rhum Race this November. Of the six German teams racing to Bermuda, Iskareen is second on the water behind Varuna. Sebastian Ropohl’s JV52 Haspa Hamburg and Joachim Brünner’s Andrews 56 Broader View Hamburg are locked into a match race, as are two German Swans; Hanns Ostmeier’s Swan 45 High Yield and Michael Orgzey’s Swan 48 Dantes.

The vast majority of the fleet are to the west of the rhumb line, putting in additional miles to avoid an area of high pressure that is expected to arrive from the northeast tomorrow (Friday 11th May). At the moment, the strategic decision is to decide how far west to go to achieve the best performance. Eric de Turckheim’s French Nivelt-Muratet 54 Teasing Machine, skippered by Laurent Pages has positioned closer to the rhumb line than the leaders; they will be hoping to stay in good breeze and sail less miles than the leading boats.

For more information visit: https://www.antiguabermuda.com/

Follow the fleet via YB Tracking: http://yb.tl/a2b2018
Social Media:

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Organised by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in association with Antigua Sailing Week and supported 
by the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Goslings Rum
The turbo-charged American Volvo 70 Warrior, USMMA Sailing Foundation © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com

The turbo-charged American Volvo 70 Warrior, USMMA Sailing Foundation © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com

Skipper Oliver Heer is celebrating his 30th birthday on board Giles Redpath’s British Lombard 46 Pata Negra © Ted Martin

A view of a recent Newport Bermuda Race send-off for Class 3 of the St. David’s Lighthouse Division. Photo: Daniel Forster/PPL

The 195 boats that submitted entries before the 2018 Newport Bermuda Race“application for entry” deadline are anchored by the usual excellent turnout of nearly 150 cruiser- and cruiser/racer-style boats sailing in the St. David’s Lighthouse and Finisterre (Cruiser) divisions. The race, which is co-organized by The Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, offers several other divisions for different types of boats and competitors, which truly makes this event seven races in one.

While some pre-start attrition is normal when a fleet faces 635 ocean miles across the Gulf Stream, a diverse fleet of 180 to 190 boats should cross the line on June 15th, crewed by a mix of both professional and amateur sailors. That would make it the biggest fleet since 2010, when 193 boats finished the race.

Among the entries in St. David’s and Finisterre divisions, the 2016 success of youth sailors guided by adult advisors aboard High Noon (link) has led to four entries by youth teams in 2018. There will also be new divisions of Multihulls and Superyachts, which have added seven boats to the fleet, the largest of which is the 112-foot Sparkman & Stephens design, Kawil.

Another key to the high entry total is the 20 boats entered in the Gibbs Hill Division, which is for high-performance racing boats that in many cases are steered and crewed professionally. Recognizing advances in offshore racing technology, the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee allowed entry this year by boats carrying water-ballasting systems and certain types of canting keels. In past years, Gibbs Hill typically has drawn 10 to 15 entries; in 2016, based on the high winds forecast in the days before the race, all of the Gibbs Hill entries elected not to compete.

Spirit of Bermuda Starts off the Race for 2014 (Photo By George Bekris)

“The BROC remains committed to the value of the race as an adventure and participation for its own sake,” says Jonathan Brewin, the event chairman and past commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. “The race is different than many competitions; it’s a chance to compete for an array of permanent trophies and be part of a history going back to 1906,” says Brewin, “but above all it’s a chance to challenge oneself and one’s crew to prepare to compete safely offshore at the highest level.”

 

Newport Bermuda Race Start (Photo by George Bekris)

The introduction of a Multihull Division was three years in development, and based on the standards adopted for 2018, not every multihull will be eligible to compete. Collaborating with an experienced cadre of multihull designers and sailors, the Cruising Club of America’s safety committee developed new ocean-racing safety standards for participating multihulls and set more rigorous safety training requirements than for monohull crews. In addition, the BROC collaborated with the Offshore Racing Association to create a new VPP handicap system for multihulls (ORR-MH) that was successfully tested in the 2017 Transpac Race.

See BermudaRace.com for news updates on the race. See Official Notice Board for current list of entries.

Genuine Risk At Start Of Bermuda Race (Photo by George Bekris )

Svea JClass (Photo © JClass/Carlo Borlenghi )

Svea JClass St. Barths Round the Island (Photo © JClass/Carlo Borlenghi )

 

Svea bounced back from one small error to retain their unbeaten record in the three boat J Class fleet at the first regatta of the season, the St Barth’s Bucket. It was the first ever round the island style coastal race for the Svea crew which is lead by their tactician, 2004 Olympic silver medallist Charlie Ogletree with Kenny Read sailing as strategist.

Though Velsheda sailed impeccably in the 12-17 kts SE’ly breeze and lead all the way around the scenic 23 nautical miles counter-clockwise circumnavigation of the island of St Barths, Svea was close enough at the finish line to save their handicap allowance and win by a mere 17 seconds.

Key to Velsheda’s early lead was the timing they chose to tack in to the island after the start. They chose to hang out early on during the short 20 minute beat to the corner, timing their tack in towards the island so that they could make the double gain of being inshore boat and getting the accelerated, lifting breeze at the corner. That was enough to allow them to break free of Svea and Topaz and build a small lead as they reached and then ran downwind along the outside, windward side of the island.

Svea shed some time when they lost the tack of their spinnaker on the second hoist, letting Velsheda away slightly, but thereafter they showed good downwind pace and closed down the famous J Class ‘original’ which won this race last year from 2017’s fleet of six boats.

After the mid-race cloud cleared for the final beat back up to the finish, the breeze picked up nicely to 16-17kts. With clear skies Velsheda and Svea stayed right and made use of a nice right shift, lifting on starboard and both stepping slightly further clear of Topaz which had sailed a good race, always in touch with the two yachts in front. The straightforward course offered little in the way of tactical passing options on the downwinds especially, and it was very much a boatspeed test for the trimmers and helms.

“We had a good race, even if we proved ourselves a little short on practice when the tack came off. We could adjust our strategy a little at that time but that cost us a bit of time. That was a clear case of lack of practice. We could not gybe until it was sorted.” Recalled Svea’s tactician Ogletree, “But we really just focused on our boatspeed, staying close enough to Velsheda. Tom did a great job steering the boat all the way around the course, it needed a high concentration level and he stuck to it.”

Adding their first coastal race win as a crew to yesterday’s two windward-leeward race wins Svea, her name meaning ‘Swede’ are in clear charge of the popular Caribbean regatta at its midway stage, four points ahead of Velsheda which has now sailed 2,3,2 from the first three races.

Velsheda’s tactician Tom Dodson admitted they could not really see what more they could have done in order to open enough time on Svea. ” I feel like we sailed really well. It was a good day but we cannot really deal with Svea, we are just racing her boat for boat and so we are happy to have beaten them across the line really. We had a plan and stuck to it and that seemed to work for us. We could have been a click closer to the line at the gun but we had our strategy to the corner just right and popped out ahead. We wanted to get inshore to the first headland to get to the lift, the accelerated breeze and the flatter water. That is what we thought and it worked.” Dodson recalled.

“Our boat is going well and Ronald steered really nicely and the trimmers were great. Svea got within about three boat lengths down the run and there was nothing we could do about that. We got away a little on the final beat as the breeze picked up. I feel we are sailing the boat as well as we can.” Dodson adds “And what is nice is that Ronald will go from here and cruise the boat like he always has.”

Once more the 2016 launched Topaz were in the mix early but faded slightly towards the end of the race, crossing third. Topaz crew boss Tim Kröger concluded: “We sailed well. Make no mistake here we still think of ourselves as the new kids on the block in this class. We are still learning day by day. Velsheda have been at this for a decade. But we are loving it. We have a great group here and we are enjoying learning together. There is a great atmosphere on board and we know how lucky we are to be doing this, sailing on this boat in this class. Everyone comes to the boat in the morning with a smile on their face.”

“We are still lacking in a bit of upwind speed but are working on it. It is all moving on, we are working here with a retrieval system on the spinnakers like Svea have and that saves some seconds here and there but that is where we are.”

2018 St Barths Bucket, Day 2 Round the Island Race.

1 Svea 2h 26m 17s, 2 Velsheda 2h 26m 34s, 3 Topaz 2h 28m 40s

Overall after three races

1 Svea 3pts 2 Velsheda 7pts 3 Topaz 8pts