TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing.  (Photo © Max Ranchi   MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing. (Photo © Max Ranchi MaxRanchi.com )

Auckland, New Zealand.

The new Provezza launched and has begun sail testing. Owner Ergin Imre and complete Provezza sailing team in Auckland take delivery of the boat. Andy Beadsworth still to join as he just finished the Caribbean 600 on TP52 Sorcha (2nd place overall in IRC and CSA).

Design Rolf Vrolijk, builder Mick Cookson, on site team project managers Chris Hosking and Tony Evans.

Congratulations to Ergin and team Provezza and good job Mick and the Cookson team, Chris and Tony! Enjoy the sailing.

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing.  (Photo © Max Ranchi   MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing. (Photo © Max Ranchi MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing.  (Photo © Max Ranchi   MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing. (Photo © Max Ranchi MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing.  (Photo © Max Ranchi   MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing. (Photo © Max Ranchi MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing.  (Photo © Max Ranchi   MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing. (Photo © Max Ranchi MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing.  (Photo © Max Ranchi   MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing. (Photo © Max Ranchi MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing.  (Photo © Max Ranchi   MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing. (Photo © Max Ranchi MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing.  (Photo © Max Ranchi   MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing. (Photo © Max Ranchi MaxRanchi.com )

 

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing.  (Photo © Max Ranchi   MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing. (Photo © Max Ranchi MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing.  (Photo © Max Ranchi   MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Provezza launch and sail testing. (Photo © Max Ranchi MaxRanchi.com )

 

Comanche has unfinished business with Wild Oats XI after being bested by just a few miles due to light airs in the middle of the course (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Comanche has unfinished business with Wild Oats XI after being bested by just a few miles due to light airs in the middle of the course (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

 

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.”

COMANCHE (USA), 2nd across the line in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Finishish Line COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Phot by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

COMANCHE (USA), 2nd across the line in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Finishish Line COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Phot by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

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

 WILD OATS XI (AUS) set the actual racecourse record in 2012 Race Start - WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards  (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

WILD OATS XI (AUS) set the actual racecourse record in 2012 Race Start – WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

 

Wild Oats XI  leads the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet in for a record eighth line honours win.  Wild Oats Xi finished the race in a time of  :  2 Days,  2 Hours,  3 Minutes and 26 seconds.

The only yacht capable of denying Wild Oats XI and Mark Richards an 8th win and a place in history was the American Maxi Comanche.  Ken Read and crew gave their best but weren’t able to close the 10 mile gap in the 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 proved to big for the Comanche team to overcome.

COMANCHE (USA) crashing through the waves on the way south to Tasmania Race Start COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

COMANCHE (USA) crashing through the waves on the way south to Tasmania Race Start COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

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. The Maxi Perpetual Loyal

Follow the race on the live tracker:

http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/tracker/

 

 

Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

 

Opera House and Harbour Bridge as impressive background for the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart (Phot by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Opera House and Harbour Bridge as impressive background for the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart (Phot by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Seven hours into the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Jim Clark’s 100-ft Maxi Comanche(USA) leads the fleet. A memorable edition of the 628-nm race appears certain, with the contest between the fleet’s five Maxi yachts living up to the pre-race hype.
At 8:00pm local time, Comanche leads seven-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI by one nautical mile, with Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal and Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100 just a few miles behind the leading duo. Overnight the breeze is forecast to lighten as a high pressure system approaches. How the frontrunners navigate this transition could be a critical factor in their race.

Comanche makes mark

Racing COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Racing COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

A fleet of 117 international yachts graced today’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race start. The thousands of spectators lining the shoreline in Sydney were treated to a dramatic start as the leading yachts powered their way out of Sydney Harbour and began the famous 628-nautical mile offshore race to Hobart.

Celebrations for the 70th edition of the race commenced with a Parade of Sail of historic Rolex Sydney Hobart competitors before the race start. A fitting tribute to the race, which has become an international icon since its inauguration in 1945.
Comanche had an incredible start reaching the first course mark at record speed.  Race record holder Wild Oats XI gallantly tried to keep pace, watching in awe as Comanche laid down an early indicator of her potential. “Look at that thing go!,” screamed Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards.

WILD OATX XI (AUS) SAILING TOWARDS HOBART  Racing WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

WILD OATX XI (AUS) SAILING TOWARDS HOBART Racing WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

“We couldn’t be more ready at this stage,” admitted Comanche skipper Ken Read shortly before the race start. “The team has done a Herculean effort to get the boat ready. We are here to compete, it’s the fun part of our job.”

“Going into a southerly the first night is always a bit of a challenge,” said Mark Richards going into the race. “(The boat) being ten years old though is a little bit of an advantage for us as we know the boat very well.”

MANOUCH MOSHAYEDI'S RIO 100 (USA), ONE OF FIVE 100FT MAXIS IN CONTENTION  Race Start RIO 100, Sail n: USA2121, Bow n: 98, Design: Bakewell-White 100, Owner: Manouch Moshayedi, Skipper: Manouch Moshayedi (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

MANOUCH MOSHAYEDI’S RIO 100 (USA), ONE OF FIVE 100FT MAXIS IN CONTENTION Race Start RIO 100, Sail n: USA2121, Bow n: 98, Design: Bakewell-White 100, Owner: Manouch Moshayedi, Skipper: Manouch Moshayedi (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Shortly after the start, Peter Isler, navigator on Manouch Moshayedi’s RIO 100 reported: “We are definitely learning our boat in these conditions. It’s very rough, sailing upwind in 25-27 knots, pounding hard into short, steep waves.”

The rough conditions have proved demanding for a number of the fleet with four retirements already recorded.

The race record for leading yachts to beat is 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds, set by Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI in 2012.

The Rolex Sydney Hobart is organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) and has been sponsored by Rolex since 2002.

Follow the progress of the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht fleet at: http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/tracker/

MATT ALLEN'S ICHI BAN DURING THE FIRST EVENING OF THE RACE  Racing ICHI BAN, Sail n: AUS01, Bow n: O1, Design: Carkeek 60, Owner: Matt Allen, Skipper: Matt Allen (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

MATT ALLEN’S ICHI BAN DURING THE FIRST EVENING OF THE RACE Racing ICHI BAN, Sail n: AUS01, Bow n: O1, Design: Carkeek 60, Owner: Matt Allen, Skipper: Matt Allen (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

 

ORC  Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

Clear sunny skies and a hot offshore breeze greeted the fleet today in their mid-afternoon start to inshore racing at the ORC European Championship. The summer weather and later start gave crews a chance to not only dry out from yesterday’s deluge, but also the opportunity to enjoy perfect sailing conditions to start windward-leeward racing in this four-day event.

 

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

But the 8-12 knot westerly breeze in the course area off the beach south of Valencia lasted long enough for only one 7-mile race to be held for both classes racing in this event, which is part of the Real Club Nautico Valencia’s annual Trofeo SM La Reina.

Accounting for the small-boat bias to yesterday’s offshore race results, today the cumulative scores became more equalized, allowing the teams with good starts, proper positioning on the 2-mile legs, and flawless execution at their mark roundings to rise through the standings.

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

Accordingly, Natalia Brailoiu’s Romanian Swan 42 Natalia has taken the early lead in Class A based on scores of 2-3, where the 2nd earned in the offshore race gets multiplied by the 1.2 points weighting to become 5.4 points overall. It was another Swan – Christian Plump’s Swan 45 Elena Nova – that also did well in today’s moderate, flat-water conditions to take second in the inshore race and stay just 0.2 points ahead of current third-place contender Koyama, Bernd Kammerlander’s British XP-44, helmed by Inaki Castener and winner of yesterday’s offshore race in Class A.

Today’s inshore race winner, Giuseppe Parodi’s TP 52 Hurakan, helmed by Marco Serafini with tactics called by Tommaso Chieffi, led around the 7-mile race track without challenge after their start, but will have further work to do in the series to overcome their 10 overall point deficit earned by finishing yesterday’s offshore race in 14th place.

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

In Class B it was Spanish sailing legend Pedro Campos on Movistar that won the race, but reigning ORC European Silver medalist Katarina II, an Arcona 340 owned and helmed by Aivar Tuulberg from Estonia, that took the lead in the standings with a third earned yesterday and a 5th earned today. But their 8.6 points overall is not safe against the class runner-up, newly-crowned ORC Mediterranean Champion Low Noise from Italy, Giuffre Giuseppe’s M37 (modified by Matteo Polli) who is on 12 points at this stage in the series. Yesterday’s Class B offshore race winner, Frederico Linares Garcia’s Spanish Dufour 34 Brujos, was in the middle of the pack today yet still lies third overall on 13.2 points.

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

An interesting topic in Spain is the influence the Spanish Royal Family has had on the sport of sailing, so a public round-table discussion will be held tomorrow at RCNV starting at 09:30 among seven prominent Spanish sailing journalists led by ABC reporter Pedro Sardina. This discussion should prove interesting, given this important political influence in the history of sailing in Spain.

After this morning battle of words and opinions, the battle of championship sailing will return to the water with the resumption of inshore racing at 1200 tomorrow and continue through Sunday when two podiums of new ORC European winners will be declared here at RCNV.

Real Club Náutico de Valencia wants to thank Conservas Cuca, Mazda, Heineken, Coca Cola, Plymouth, Café Candelas, NH Ciudad de Valencia, Holiday Inn, Zas Sailing, Navaltec, Varadero Valencia, Surgival and Ascensión Latorre for their contributions in the celebration of this event.
Photos: Max Ranchi  for more of Max’s work go to MaxRanchi.com

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

ORC Europeans Day 2 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

 

 

 Camper Regatta – Conde de Godó Trophy – Barcelona © Ainhoa Sanchez/Audi MedCup

Camper Regatta – Conde de Godó Trophy – Barcelona © Ainhoa Sanchez/Audi MedCup

John Cook, owner of the English Cristabella boat saga, and one of the most loyal fans and participants of the MedCup Circuit, passed away in late April after a long struggle with a disease that eventually took him away, despite him being a born fighter, as he demonstrated both on land and at sea.

The memory of the Cristabella saga and its owner John Cook will remain forever linked to the sea, the Mediterranean, the TP52 class, and the MedCup Circuit. The TP52 Cristabella was part of the fleet which started off the competition in 2005, and remained faithful to it, taking part in almost all its events, until she had to leave due to her owner’s health problems, the same that would finally cause him to pass away in late April.

John Cook (Photo by Audi MedCup Circuit © Ian Roman/Audi MedCup)

John Cook (Photo by Audi MedCup Circuit © Ian Roman/Audi MedCup)

English by birth, Cook ran under the flag of the Real Club Náutico de Palma, and was a “classic” sailor. In fact, the TP52 Cristabella was easily recognizable not only by her white hull and blue letters, but by her rudder wheel, which had not been replaced by the tiller, as it had already happened onboard the whole MedCup Circuit fleet in recent years.

John Cook’s is indeed an irreparable loss to the world of sailing, but his name will live on in the history of racing in the Mediterranean.

Atmosphere on the dockside at Les Voiles de Saint Barth © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

Atmosphere on the dockside at Les Voiles de Saint Barth © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

On the eve of the third running of Les Voiles de St. Barth, April 2-7, the palm-fringed port of Gustavia, St.Barthlemy quickly filled with an impressive array of race boats: ocean-racing maxis including the 90-foot Rambler and the Swan 112, Highland Breeze; classic beauties such the Olin Stephen-designed Dorade and the Fife-built yawl Mariella; a trio of IRC 52s, multi-hulls including the 66 Gunboat Phaedo, and two large racing classes with a mix of Melges, J/boats, and a mix of 40-footers, including the hot-off-the-press Carkeek 40, Decision.

Over 60 boats are registered for this years edition, up fromwith a large number of returning entries, proof that the regatta has filled the need for spirited competition towards the end of the winter season a time when tourism typically begins to wind down in the Caribbean. Though that was hard to tell yesterday, at the islands tiny airport, as the steady stream of small commuter planes landing were filled with a duffle bag-wielding collection of sailors from the ranks of the Americas Cup, round-the-world-ocean races, and Olympic competition, that included Gavin Brady (Vesper), Scott Vogel (Rambler), Bouwe Bekking (Nilaya), Cam Lewis (Paradox), Charlie McKee and Ross MacDonald (Mayhem), Tony Rey, Jeff Madrigali, and Nacho Postigo (Powerplay), and Dee Smith (Decision).

But its not just the professionals that flock to Les Voiles de St. Barth, the regattas program and mix of courses also appeals to a competitive group of amateur and family racers that hone their skills on the growing circuit of Caribbean regattas that take advantage of this sailing paradise.

Nilaya heads out for practice prior to the start of Les Voiles de St Barth © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

Nilaya heads out for practice prior to the start of Les Voiles de St Barth © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

While not the easiest of destinations to reach some U.S. west coast sailors logged 16+ hours in transit, while others from Europe only slightly less the island of St Barths itself is a welcome reward at the end of the road: a turquoise blue, crystal-clear sea, pristine white sand beaches, and an array of fabulous restaurants just payoff for a long days journey.

Francesco Mongelli, navigator onboard Jim Swartz IRC52 Vesper, is here racing in St Barths for the first time. The Italian sailor, who sails primarily in Europe, has been racing with the Vesper crew since last October, and was clearly keen to have touched down in this French paradise, Its a mix of all the best sailing places, together with perfect weather and good food. Having spent the afternoon in a tender carefully checking out the coastline and charted (and uncharted) rock outcroppings, Mongelli added, Its pretty similar to Porto Cervo, the difference is that there you more or less know where everything is, and the charts are accurate. You cannot take the same risk here that wed take in Porto Cervo.

Racing will run from Tuesday, April 3 Saturday, April 7 and will feature a mix of Olympic triangles, short coastal courses, and a 20-30 nautical mile round-the island race. The fleet will be split into seven classes: Maxi (> 21 meters), IRC52 (former TP52s that have been optimized for the IRC rule), Spinnaker I + II, Non-Spinnaker (racer/cruiser), Classic (vintage/traditional), and Multihull. Thursday is a layday at Nikki Beach, with lunch and a full afternoon of activities, including a paddleboard competition.

New this year, Les Voiles will offer real-time race tracking with 2D visualization via the internet. Waypoint-Tracking (www.waypoint-tracking.com) developed the system in close collaboration with ISAF. The site will allow enthusiasts to follow the daily racing action live or to replay at a later time.

Many of the competing boats are moored stern-to at the Quai General de Gaulle, site of the Race Village, where all of the daily breakfast and post-race activities and music take place. This evening, skippers and tacticians were on hand for the Skippers Briefing led by Loic Ponceau, Race Committee Chairman, and organizers Francois Tolede, Luc Poupon, and Annelisa Gee. Following that was Les Voiles St. Barth Opening Ceremony, where Bruno Magras, President of the Collectivit of St. Barth, welcomed more than 500 sailors to the weeklong event.

Whisper heads out to practice for Les Voiles de Saint Barth © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

Whisper heads out to practice for Les Voiles de Saint Barth © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

A regular and enthusiastic competitor in the Caribbean, Sir Peter Harrison was named the godfather or patron of this years Les Voiles. Harrison, owner of the 115-foot Farr-designed Sojana, told the crowd, As a visitor from England to this beautiful French island, one of the most beautiful in the West Indies, Im thrilled to be asked to the patron of Les Voiles. Bon vent Les Voiles de St. Barth, and good luck, everyone!

Also sailing on Sojana is Lionel Pan, who is also back for his third Les Voiles. He said, Obviously there are plenty of good reasons to be here, and to come back every year with the same enthusiasm: this place is made for sailing. In a very short time, Les Voiles de St. Barth has become the place to be, very much like Saint Tropez in the Mediterranean. And the word is spreading around. Shortly there will be a waiting list to be a part of the event!

The weather forecast for the next few days calls for light winds, though the breeze is expected to increase throughout the week. Racing is scheduled to start tomorrow, Tuesday, April 3, two miles northwest of Sugarloaf Rock off Gustavia; one race is scheduled with a start time of 12noon.

Gustavia Harbour on the eve of the start of Les Voiles de St Barth © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

Gustavia Harbour on the eve of the start of Les Voiles de St Barth © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

 

 

 

Niklas Zennstrom's Rán. (Photo: by  RORC/Tim Wright photoaction.com)

Niklas Zennstrom's Rán. (Photo: by RORC/Tim Wright photoaction.com)

 

It has been a busy 24 hours at the Antigua Yacht Club. At dawn on the fifth day of the RORC Caribbean 600, only three yachts were still at sea vying to complete the course before tonight’s Prizegiving celebrations and all of the class winners are now provisionally decided. The bar at the Antigua Yacht Club has been in full swing, buzzing with stories between the crews and songs in a myriad of different languages.

Team Selene skippered by Benjamin Davitt finished yesterday morning. The Swan 80 sailed an excellent race to claim third place overall and will lift the prestigious Swan Caribbean Challenge Trophy later this evening.

Without doubt, the closest racing for this year’s event was in IRC One. Colin Buffin’s Swan 62, Uxorious IV, was first to finish, but the team did not celebrate a class win. Buffin and his young team knew that Amanda Hartley’s Swan 56, Clem, was extremely close to eclipsing their corrected time. Just over three and half hours passed before Clem crossed the finish line to win the class by just 21 seconds on corrected time. There were ecstatic scenes dockside as the Spanish crew of Clem celebrated their class win. The entire crew of Uxorious IV including Colin Buffin sportingly applauded their rivals. Amanda Hartley spoke of their win.

“‘We had no idea until we crossed the line and turned on our phones which went crazy with people calling in from Spain. By our calculation we thought we had lost out by five minutes. We got stuck at Guadeloupe for four hours and we could only sit and watch Uxorious get away. We are obviously extremely delighted and really appreciate Colin and his team coming over to give us such a lovely welcome back to Antigua.”

Jaime Torres’ Puerto Rican First 40, Smile And Wave, finished shortly after midnight last night to claim third in IRC One.

Scarlet Logic, co-skippered by Ross Applebey and Tim Thubron, finished the RORC Caribbean 600 shortly after 2300 last night. The Oyster 48 has been vying for the overall win for the last two days. In the end Scarlet Logic missed out, but the team had put in an incredible effort and have been rewarded with a convincing win in IRC Two. Scarlet Logic has the best corrected time in IRC One, Two and Three and as a result will be awarded the fantastic prize of a week’s accommodation at the luxurious Inn at English Harbour.

“Fantastic, elated but bloody tired,” admitted Tim Thubron, co-skipper of Scarlet Logic. The weather lined up nicely for us and we were aware that we were in with a chance of beating the big, well funded professional teams and that really spurred us on and made us push even harder. A lot of credit must go to the whole team, especially Ross Applebey. Scarlet was immaculately prepared and we hardly had a single breakage, however we did need to drop the main to replace a sail slide. The job was done and the main back up in eight minutes, that to me says it all.”

There was joy and pain for both IRC Canting Keel and the Class40s. Ernesto Cortina’s Volvo 70 Gran Jotiti finished the race in just over two days. The Spanish team is racing the yacht formerly known as Telefonica Black in the last Volvo Ocean Race. Ernesto spoke about his team shortly after finishing. “This has been a great experience, even though our result was badly affected by a lot of sail damage. Many of the sails are tired from thousands of miles of racing. However, the crew have been a joy to sail with and this race is helping us build for the future. Gran Jotiti’s aim is to create a world class amateur Spanish offshore sailing team and we have learnt a lot through this race.

Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50, Privateer, showed exceptional pace and boat handling throughout. Unfortunately the American team failed to start correctly and accepted a 10% penalty from the race organisers resulting in Gran Jotiti being declared winner of IRC Canting Keel.

IRC One, Two, Three and Class40 Start. Smile and Wave, Scarlet Logic, Clem and Uxorious IV (Photo by Tim Wright)

IRC One, Two, Three and Class40 Start. Smile and Wave, Scarlet Logic, Clem and Uxorious IV (Photo by Tim Wright)

 

The Class40s turned into a battle royale between Christophe Coatnoan’s Partouche and Christof Petter’s Vaquita. The two Class40s were locked in a heroic tacking duel for the final push to the finish line, a 40-mile beat from Redonda to the finish in Antigua.

Vaquita crossed the line just after sunset beating Partouche by a slender margin, just 15 minutes in a race lasting over 3 days. However, Vaquita failed to start the race correctly and to the Austrian crew’s disappointment, the class win was awarded to Partouche: “It was a tough race and we had a couple of moments that really slowed us down,” commented Christophe Coatnoan who raced two-handed with Eric Calmard. “We picked up a fishing float after Nevis without realising and we probably lost 8 miles before we knew it was there. Later at Guadeloupe, I had to dive into the water to free Partouche from yet another fishing buoy. The race was an excellent test for our new design especially for our sails as I think we used every one of them during the race.”

Superyacht Start. Windrose, Adela, Hetairos, Sojana and P2 line up for the start. (Photo by Tim Wright)

Superyacht Start. Windrose, Adela, Hetairos, Sojana and P2 line up for the start. (Photo by Tim Wright)

Vaquita’s Andreas Hanakamp commented: “Obviously we are disappointed to have been penalised but we were delighted with our performance. Partouche is a brand new Finot design, whilst Vaquita is a 2006 Akilaria. The RORC Caribbean 600 is a testing race course and a very tough race, exactly what we needed to prepare for our main competition of the season, The Atlantic Cup later this year.”

The latest competitor to finish the RORC Caribbean 600 is Bernie Evan-Wong’s Mumm 36, High Tension. Falmouth Harbour exploded with noise as the smallest yacht in the race tied up right outside the Antigua Yacht Club. Thunderous blasts from megayachts, superyachts and foghorns literally shook the dock as the whole of the sailing community in Falmouth heralded the arrival of local hero Bernie and his crew.

“I said we would be here tonight but I always like to be early for appointments,” joked the Antiguan dentist. “It was a hard but satisfying race and the beat from Redonda to the finish seemed to take forever. We could see Antigua but it just didn’t seem to be getting any bigger, however a few miles out a massive rain squall hit and veered the wind favourably for us to speed our way to Antigua. After last year’s dismasting, I think maybe someone was looking out for us!”

Tonight the RORC Caribbean 600 Prizegiving Ceremony will take place at the Antigua Yacht Club. The two yachts still racing are Igor Zaretskiy’s, First 40.7 Coyote II and the RACYC Offshore Racing Team – White Knight’s Spirit of Venus. Both are expected to make tonight’s party, which should be a momentous occasion.

IRC OVERALL RESULTS

 

Rayon Vert Pulsar 50  (Photo by Tim Wright )

Rayon Vert Pulsar 50 (Photo by Tim Wright )