Archive | February, 2012

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Consistency helps Groupe Edmond to Rothschild keep leadership on day two of racing at The Wave, Muscat

Posted on 29 February 2012 by Valencia Sailing

It’s an old cliché but it was proved yet once again on the second day of Extreme 40 racing at The Wave, Muscat, home of the opening event of the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series. Consistent performance will guarantee a top spot after a long day of racing and that’s exactly what Groupe Edmond de Rothschild and Oman Air did today in Oman.

A total of eight races were sailed today off the beach at The Wave, literally meters from the pier, with conditions that went from a good sea breeze 12 to 14 knots, early in the afternoon, down to a slow motion drift race at the end of the day. However, both Rothschild and Oman Air clearly showed their domination throughout the day, alternating in the first two spots of the overall leaderboard, almost after every race.

This is the very first Extreme Sailing event we cover and it is a bit of a surprise to see that the organizer’s claim they run “stadium sailing” is much more than typical PR. The boats sail right in front of the beach and the pier and the race area is within a confined spaced, squeezed between the beach and a long breakwater. Both the general public and the VIPs and corporate guests have very good view of the races, the only difference being that the latter have the extra floor of the VIP tent. In fact, all of the photos today were either taken from the public area or the first floor terrace of the VIP tent. There is hardly any need for a proper photo boat if you don’t mind repeating the same angle throughout the day…

Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 1, Muscat, Oman standings after Day 2, 14 races (29.2.12)

1st Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) 85 points
2nd Oman Air (OMA) 84 points
3rd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 72 points
4th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 65 points
5th GAC Pindar (GBR) 62 points
6th ZouLou (FRA) 51 points
7th Alinghi (SUI) 50 points
8th Team Trifork (DEN) 35 points

Race 1
Despite this being his second day of racing on an Extreme 40 and his tenth sailing on these catamarans, Morgan Larson showed he’s means business right from the onset. Thirty seconds before the start and just when it appeared he would be late and off the pace, he charged, flew the winward hull and charged ahead, squeezing in between the fleet and the committee boat. Oman Air might have started a few seconds late but hit the line with full speed and, more importantly, got the favored right side in the first beat. Rothschild was always behind the Omani boat but were never able to threaten them. Morgan Larson extended the lead in the third leg and crossed the finish line comfortably ahead of the fleet.

Morgan Larson starts charging behind the entire fleet. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Morgan Larson squeezes in between the fleet and the committee boat. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Groupe Edmond de Rothschild sails on the right side of the course in the first beat. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Oman Air and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild lead the fleet in the first run of the race. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Morgan Larson helms the Oman Air boat to victory in the day's first race. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Groupe Edmond de Rothschild finish second in the day's first race. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Race 2
The tables turned in the second day of the day with Rothschild claiming victory and Oman Air finishing behind them. In these race the start is the key element and probably their most important part and that’s exactly what the French boat did. They had a great start in the middle of the line, ahead of the fleet while Oman Air opted for the pin end. Rothschild stayed ahead and extended their lead in the third leg, something that took place in various races today.

Start of the day's second race. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Groupe Edmond de Rothschild lead at the first mark. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Groupe Edmond de Rothschild lead in the third leg. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Alinghi had a very good recovery in third leg and finished the race in fourth place. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Race 3
This race was a repeat of the previous one with Rothschild building an even more commanding lead in the third leg. Once again, Oman Air finished second and the two teams consolidated their grasp on the two top spots of the overall leaderboard.

Start of the day's third race. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Light-air sailing onboard Oman. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Rothschild and Oman Air lead the fleet in the second leg of the race. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Red Bull claimed third place. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Race 4
Morgan Larson continued his winning streak with yet another excellent race. Once again, he opted for the pin end of the starting line and the left side of the course. Oman Air got ahead and stayed ahead, stretching their lead in the third leg. Rothschild had a tougher race, struggling in the middle of the fleet.

Start of the day's fourth race. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Oman Air opts for the far left side of the race course. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Oman Air lead in the third leg. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Loïck Peyron might be one of the world's multihull gurus but his team, Zoulou, hasn't been shining so far. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Race 5
As the afternoon advanced, the breeze dropped and shifted, forcing the race committee to make a radical change in the course. The starting line moved much closer to the shore with the pin end less than 2-3 boatlengths from the pier. The first leg was also shortened to less than 200 meters, making the start even more important. The Wave, Muscat had a superb start, on pace at the middle of the line and charged ahead to the first mark, rounding ahead of the fleet. Rothschild and Oman Air never threatened The Wave, Muscat and finished the race in second and third place, respectively.

The Wave, Muscat has a perfect start and rounds the first mark in the lead. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

The Wave, Muscat led the entire race, closely followed by Rothschild. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Race 6
The start was once again a crucial part in the race and the boat that nailed it was to claim victory. In race 6 of the day it was Roman Hagara’s Red Bull to hit the accelerator on the pin end and get first to the first mark, followed by The Wave, Oman air and Rothschild. While Red Bull managed to retain their comfortable lead it was the battle for second place that would prove more interesting. Oman Air was holding on into second halfway through but a wrong call in the third leg for the right side of the course cost them three places. Rothschild chose the left and managed to overtake the both Omani boats and finish second.

Jes Gram-Hansen, a newcomer to the Extreme 40 class, helms the Trifork boat in the prestart of the day's sixth race. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Start of the day's sixth race. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Red Bull leads at the first mark. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Red Bull and Rothschild lead the sixth race of the day. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Race 7
By the seventh race of the day the breeze had dropped even further and the race committee had to further shorten the legs. This was also the worst race, in terms of results, for the two leaders, Rothschild and, in particular, Oman Air. In the very light breezes, Morgan Larson seemed to struggle getting the timing correct and was found over the line at the start. By the time the Omani boat was back in the race the rest of the fleet was well ahead. The Wave, Muscat led from the start but the boat to stand out was Trifork, the Danish newcomers. Despite a pretty average start, they picked the correct side of the course in the third leg and moved from 6th to second.

Start of the seventh race of the day. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

The Wave, Muscat leads at the first mark while Red Bull stalls. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Ernesto Bertarelli helmed the Alinghi Extreme 40 boat to 3rd place. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Light-breeze sailing onboard Denmark's Trifork. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Denmark's Trifork cross the finish line in second place, their best result. The Wave, Muscat, 29 February 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

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Onboard Loïck Peyron’s Zoulou Extreme 40 – Race 2

Posted on 29 February 2012 by Valencia Sailing

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Onboard Loïck Peyron’s Zoulou Extreme 40 – Race 1

Posted on 28 February 2012 by Valencia Sailing

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Sailing onboard Loïck Peyron’s Zoulou Extreme 40 in Oman

Posted on 28 February 2012 by Valencia Sailing

VSail.info is in Muscat, Oman for Act 1 of the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series. The opening event of this year’s season started on Tuesday with 6 “open sea” races, that is with race courses further offshore than the usual “stadium” sailing races that are held as close as possible to the shore and, quite frequently, within heavily constrained spaces. The venue is at The Wave, Muscat, a real estate development very common in the Middle East, that includes a marina, housing the headquarters of Oman Sail.

This website and I in particular, have been quite skeptical a few times about the Extreme 40 yachts and their circuit, the Extreme Sailing Series. I questioned a few times the sports value of the races and wondered whether it was more of a show than an actual sports competition. It always seemed that organizers tended to put more value to the capsizes, collisions and crashes rather than the actual sailing that took place.

I have to admit I was wrong after being onboard Loïck Peyron’s yacht today in two races, the second and third of the day. It’s true that courses are short but that seems to be the trend nowadays. Today’s races were between 22 and 24 minutes long each, including the 2-minute prestart, a duration very similar to what the World Match Racing Tour has been doing and what the America’s Cup is aiming at. The race courses are really short, with legs that are probably less than half a mile long. As a result, a good start is tremendously important and you get squeezed at the staring line your chances are seriously reduced.

Still, as one can observe with just two races onboard one of the competing yachts, it is equally intensive as any other race. With a fleet of eight boats and two gates, both at the top and the bottom of the race course, there is plenty of space and tactical choices do play an important role. Crew work is equally important, just ask Peyron after the second race of the day to comment on the “sh–ty” gybes they had. Even if courses are much shorter than the TP52′s, with 25-30 races in four days you need much more than luck to win the event. You might get one or two lucky ones but it’s consistency that will put you on the top sport of the podium.

Race 1

Race 2

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San Francisco Mayor Lee and ACEA Announce Consolidated Venue Plan for 34th America’s Cup

Posted on 28 February 2012 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: America's Cup] Mayor Edwin M. Lee and the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) announced today a consolidated venue plan for the 34th America’s Cup, removing Piers 30-32 for use during the America’s Cup events, consolidating all racing teams at Pier 80 and build a race village at Pier 27-29.

“We are excited to host the 34thAmerica’s Cup, one of the world’s greatest international sporting events, in San Francisco and benefit from the jobs and economic impacts that come with it,” said Mayor Lee. “This consolidated venue plan with the teams at Pier 80 will ensure we are ready for races this year and in 2013 and brings new investment and improvements to our City’s Southern waterfront.”

“We want to thank the Mayor, his staff and the City of San Francisco for their incredible support and efforts working with us to make our collective goal of a remarkable race a reality. We believe that these changes will further the progress towards our collective goal while maintaining major investments in City Infrastructure,” said America’s Cup Event Authority Board Member Stephen Barclay. “We look forward to continuing our work with the Mayor and the City and delivering all the benefits this race will bring.”

The additional development at Pier 80 in Dogpatch and the Bayview will mean millions of dollars in improvements and job opportunities in one of the City’s most underserved areas. The infrastructure improvements and long-term development rights associated with the Event Authority’s investments, originally proposed for team bases at Piers 30-32, will now no longer be necessary for races in 2012 and 2013.

The America’s Cup World Series races will be held in San Francisco from August 11 – 19 and August 27 – September 2, 2012. The Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, will be held in San Francisco from July 4 – September 1, 2013 and the America’s Cup Finals will be held September 7 – 22, 2013.

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Alpari Announces Title Sponsorship of World Match Racing Tour

Posted on 27 February 2012 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Alpari World Match Racing Tour] Alpari, a global association of companies providing online foreign exchange (“Forex”, “FX”), precious metals and CFD trading services, today announced a five-year title partnership with the World Match Racing Tour. The agreement sees the world’s leading professional sailing series become the Alpari World Match Racing Tour from February 2012.

Jim O’Toole, CEO of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, today joined David Stuart, COO of Alpari in the City of London to announce the title sponsorship. To mark the start of the partnership a unique 3D street art project, recreating a match racing scene of two boats going head to head in a winner-takes-all competition, was revealed in the City. Passing City commuters had their photos taken “on board” one of the boats.

The deal will benefit both parties and is a timely boost to global professional sailing where other properties have struggled commercially against a backdrop of tough economic conditions. As a global sports series with events in North America, Asia and Europe, the multimillion-dollar partnership creating the Alpari World Match Racing Tour will help Alpari reach out to even more people across the continents and promote online trading to an even wider audience.

Speaking about the partnership, Jim O’Toole, commented: “To be collaborating with such a forward-thinking and ambitious organisation as Alpari is extremely exciting. We know from our research that the World Match Racing Tour’s fan base provides the perfect audience for Alpari to engage with and build its customer base. The partnership further underlines the strength of the Tour’s commercial proposition and I look forward to working with the Alpari team over the next five years.”

David Stuart from Alpari added, “We are very happy to announce our partnership with the World Match Racing Tour. The Tour and Alpari have so much in common and we’ll both be strengthening our brands by entering into this partnership. The Tour appeals to an international audience and specifically to people who are ambitious and self-motivated. These are essential attributes of successful traders so Alpari’s services should excite them.”

The world’s best match racers will compete for the ISAF Match Racing World Championship and the largest prize purse in the world of sailing (US$1.75 million). Britain has enjoyed back-to-back success with triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie winning in 2010, followed by Ian Williams who captured his third world title in 2011. Williams is once again on the list of nine skippers, also announced today, to have secured a Tour Card for the 2012 season. Selected by the Tour, the list of Tour Card Holders includes a mix of current and former World Champions, Olympic and America’s Cup campaigners as well as an exciting breed of promising younger sailors from around the world.

The Alpari World Match Racing Tour is currently increasing the number of Tour events to bring match racing and its star names to both traditional and emerging sailing countries. Today’s sponsorship announcement also coincides with the unveiling of the 2012 Tour Calendar which now includes a new event, the Chicago Match Cup in the US, to complement the other regattas in Germany, Korea, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Bermuda and Malaysia.

Commenting on the race calendar and list of competing teams, O’Toole added: “2012 will be a major landmark in the delivery of our owner’s vision for the Tour with the title sponsorship relationship with Alpari, our new venue in Chicago and an exciting line-up of Tour Card Holders including multiple World Champions seeking to break records and rookies hoping to make the big breakthrough. It promises to be a dramatic season all round. We can’t wait for our first race, Match Race Germany, to start!”

2012 Alpari World Match Racing Tour Calendar:
Stage 1: May 23 – 28 – Match Race Germany, Langenargen, Germany
Stage 2: May 29 – June 3 – Korea Match Cup, Gyeonggi, South Korea
Stage 3: July 2 – 7 – Stena Match Cup Sweden, Marstrand, Sweden
Stage 4: July 10 – 15 – Chicago Match Cup, Chicago, USA
Stage 5: July 24 – 29 – Portimao Portugal Match Cup, Portimao, Portugal
Stage 6: Aug 28 – Sep 2 – St. Moritz Match Race, St. Moritz, Switzerland
Stage 7: Sep 24 – 29 – Match Race France, Marseille, France
Stage 8: Oct 1 – 7 – Argo Group Gold Cup, Hamilton, Bermuda
Stage 9: Dec 4 – 9 – Monsoon Cup, K.Terengganu, Malaysia

2012 Tour Card Holders:
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team
Laurie Jury (NZL) Zoke Kiwi Match
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Extreme Team Morbihan
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar

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Groupama: Leg 4 – Day 7

Posted on 26 February 2012 by Valencia Sailing

Groupama: Leg 4 – Day 7

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Volvo Ocean Race: Conquering the East

Posted on 26 February 2012 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Groupama Sailing Team] The fleet is continuing to sail between the easterly monsoon and a disturbed air flow offshore of Japan. Seemingly the navigators are opting to make headway East as they await a little window of opportunity early in the week to dive down to the South-East. Groupama 4 has opted to position herself in front of the Americans, over 100 miles to the North of the leading New Zealand boat…

To make the finish in Auckland, it’s proving necessary to make for Japan! Indeed, by opting to avoid the zones of calm which were reigning offshore of the Philippines, the minute they were through the Luzon Strait, there was no other way through than to traverse the Japanese archipelagos of Iwo-Jima, Kazan and Oganawara, which form a long string of tropical islands extending out to the Mariana islands. In fact there’s a long band of light winds beneath the Tropic of Cancer (23°N), sandwiched between the disturbed northerly to westerly system, which is sweeping across 30°N, and the monsoon, which isn’t really getting up to cruising speed until around 17°N. This is the reason for this atypical course towards the East, which the crews are continuing to adopt and are doubtless rather familiar with after four days together…

Franck Cammas during Leg 4 of the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race. Photo copyright Yann Riou / Groupama Sailing Team

A gradual curve

However, the moment to switch course isn’t yet upon the fleet: the crews will have to wait until at least Monday before they can begin to curve their trajectories around towards the South-East. The hook round should be fairly gradual so as to avoid falling into the tropical zone of calms, which isn’t set to disintegrate fully until Tuesday morning. The wind reports this Sunday confirm this: whilst Groupama 4 and Puma are sailing in a north-easterly air flow of between 12 and 15 knots, Camper is making headway in around 10 knots of westerly wind and, the furthest South, Telefonica has hit a twelve knot SSE’ly wind!

That just goes to show that ultimately the “Great Plains” in the conquest of the East represent a terrain riddled with swamps, where the focus is on avoiding getting bogged down. The caravan is riding out at a gentle trot and has really become dispersed during this perilous pioneering adventure. Indeed there is no less than 150 miles’ separation in terms of latitude between the Americans in the North and the Spanish in the South… With her northerly trajectory, Groupama 4 is clawing back the miles. In fact, in just half a day, Franck Cammas and his men have snatched back a good thirty miles on the New Zealanders, who weren’t keen to have them breathing down their necks to the left. In addition, the Americans have managed to make up over 180 miles of their deficit in the last 36 hours after their atypical northerly route!

Restoring meteorological order

The problem is that at this pace, the ETA of the finish in Auckland is slipping further and further back. Off Taiwan, the leader was 4,700 miles from New Zealand and this Sunday afternoon, it still had 4,260 miles left to cover… 440 miles after four days at sea equates to a VMG of 4.6 miles per hour! Fortunately the easterly monsoon will ramp things up to over twenty knots for at least three days from Tuesday, and the resulting atmosphere of over 400-mile days will enable the fleet to lengthen their stride.

The benefit of this easterly course is that the fleet will have a more favourable angle for targeting Vanuatu by going around the equatorial Doldrums, which are holding sway offshore of New Britain and the Solomon islands. In the meantime it’s very hard to make out who will be the first to come out the other side of the Mariana archipelago: Groupama 4 seems to be in a good position to limit Puma’s comeback via the North whilst controlling Camper further to the South. We await the answer from noon on Monday, once the NNE’ly air flow, linked to a depression rolling down from Japan, causes the monsoon further South to re-establish.

Position of the competitors in the Volvo Ocean Race on the fourth leg from Sanya – Auckland at 1300 UTC on 26/02/2012:

1. Camper 4,244 miles from the finish
2. Telefonica – 13.9 miles astern of the leader
3. Groupama 4 – 48.4 miles astern of the leader
4. Team Sanya – 82.5 miles astern of the leader
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 86.2 miles astern of the leader
6. Puma – 96 miles astern of the leader

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