Archive | January, 2013

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Katusha dominates first day of fleet racing at RC44 Oman Cup with two bullets and a third

Posted on 31 January 2013 by Valencia Sailing

Whether it’s at the helm or calling tactics, in light winds and flat seas or fresh breeze and lumpy seas, Andy Horton has been delivering extraordinary results onboard Katusha. The Russian boat clearly dominated the first day of fleet racing at the RC44 Oman Cup with a combination of nearly spotless tactics and certainly flawlees crew work. They scored two commanding victories in the first two races and even after a mediocre first beat in the last race they clawed back to finish a very decent third in the last race.

katusha’s life was made much easier in the third race when their direct opponent, Team Aqua, ran into serious trouble. At the first weather mark Team Aqua’s bow hit the stern of Ironbound. At that moment it didn’t seem as too serious of an incident but when Ironbound was rounding the bottom a large piece came off the bottom of her scoop and a couple of minutes later the entire scoop fell off. Following a protest and hearing, Team Aqua was disqualified in the race and received an additional three-point penalty for the damage caused to Ironbound.

Muscat once again lived up to its promise and despite the slightly delayed start, the breeze came in, topping 15 knots in the afternoon, with lumpy seas that offered some exciting and spectacular racing. Unfortunately, the forecast for Friday isn’t as optimistic and PRO Peter Reggio has already signaled an one-hour postponement. Racing isn’t scheduled to start before 12:30pm and we should expect very light breezes.

Race 1
What a difference a day makes. Even if racing was delayed by half an hour, the first fleet race of RC44 Oman Cup got off under nice conditions. The breeze was about 10 knots and building up. This proved to be the key in the tactics teams would use. According to the locals, as the breeze increases in strength it shifts to the right. Team Aqua and Katusha got it to perfection and rounded the first weather mark, in first and second place respectively. However, Team Aqua’s lead was to be short lived and Katusha was already ahead at the bottom gate. From that point the Russians didn’t look back and held on to their lead until the finish line.

Start of the first race of the day. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the first race of the day. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Team Aqua approaches the first weather mark in the lead. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Katusha rounds the first weather mark in second place. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Katusha rounds the first weather mark in second place. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Katusha has taken the lead in the first run. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Lunajets rounds the bottom gate. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Mag Racing and Synergy had a very disappointing first race, here rounding the bottom gate at the back of the fleet. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Katusha rounds the final mark in the lead. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Ironbound started the day with a good performance, rounding the last mark in fourth place. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

RUS7 had a good race, finishing third. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Race 2
Katusha’s domination over the race course off The Wave, Muscat became even clearer in the second race of the day. Thanks to a clean start, spotless tactics and crew work, the Russian boat got into the lead at the first mark and never had to look back. Andy Horton perfectly called the right shift that made the race committee change the course 10 degrees and Katusha scored their second bullet with a comfortable lead.

Start of the day’s second race. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the day’s second race. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Katusha takes the lead at the first weather mark. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Chris Bake’s Team Aqua tried hard to overtake Katusha but Andy Horton and the Russian crew held on. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Katusha leads comfortably at the approach to the bottom gate. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Aegir Racing at the approach to the bottom gate. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Artemis were unable to find their form and were trailing the fleet at the bottom gate. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Artemis and Synergy definitely disappointed in the day’s first two races. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Katusha rounds the least mark comfortably ahead of Team Aqua. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Great comeback by Aegir Racing that round the last mark in third place. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Nika was another team that had a tough race. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Race 3
As the breeze got brisker and the sea bumpier it became evident that most of the crews were still a bit rusty. There were plenty of incidents, collisions and penalties even if conditions weren’t dramatic or extreme. However, of all the incidents, the most important in terms of the leaderboard was the one involving Ironbound and Team Aqua. Going into the third race, Chris Bake’s team was sitting second, just two points behind Katusha.

Both Team Aqua and Katusha hit the starting line on the pin end and opted for the left-hand side of the course in the first beat, a move that cost them dearly as the right was once again favored. As a result, they had to duck half a dozen boats as they approached the first weather mark and fall back to the second half of the fleet. In that moment, Team Aqua’s bow hit Ironbound’s stern but nobody thought this would result into serious damage. Nevertheless, things turned out fairly different. While Ironbound was rounding the bottom gate, a large piece of carbon came off her scoop and then the entire scoop fell off. That put, obviously, Irounbound out of the race but, more importantly, prompted the jury to disqualify Team Aqua and give her an additional penalty of three points for the damage caused.

The penalty to Team Aqua coupled with the remarkable comeback by Katusha from seventh place to third meant that the Russians ended the day firmly in command of the RC44 fleet in Muscat. Katusha might be the leaders of the day, it is also important to point out that the third race was won by Artemis. Owner Torbjörn Törnqvist had a disappointing start in the day and even missed the offset mark in the second race.

The full sequence of Ironbound’s incident at the bottom gate can be seen here

Start of the day’s final race. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Synergy finally got off to a good start and eventually finished second. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Team Italia had an average day overall but sits fourth in the leaderboard. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Peninsula Petroleum can’t do any worse since they are dead last in the overall scoretable. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

The left doesn’t pay at all for Katusha in the first beat! Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Artemis leads the race in the first beat. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Synergy rounds the bottom gate in third place. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Katusha rounds the bottom gate in fifth place. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Ironbound’s scoop peels off at the bottom gate. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Ironbound’s scoop breaks completely. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

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Photo gallery: RC44 Ironbound’s scoop falls off

Posted on 31 January 2013 by Valencia Sailing

When things go wrong on an RC44! On the first day of fleet racing at the RC44 Oman Cup, Team Aqua’s bow hit the stern of Ironbound at the first weather mark of the last race.

When Ironbound was rounding the bottom gate, first a piece of the bottom of her scoop came off and then the entire scoop fell off.

Ironbound’s scopp falls off while rounding the bottom gate of the day’s last race. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Ironbound’s scopp falls off while rounding the bottom gate of the day’s last race. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Ironbound’s scopp falls off while rounding the bottom gate of the day’s last race. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Ironbound’s scopp falls off while rounding the bottom gate of the day’s last race. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Ironbound’s scopp falls off while rounding the bottom gate of the day’s last race. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Ironbound’s scopp falls off while rounding the bottom gate of the day’s last race. Muscat, 31 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

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Match Race Highlights RC44 Oman Cup 2013 presented by Oman Shipping Company

Posted on 31 January 2013 by Valencia Sailing

Match Race Highlights RC44 Oman Cup 2013 presented by Oman Shipping Company

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Andy Horton on Katusha dominates RC44 Oman Cup match racing

Posted on 30 January 2013 by Valencia Sailing

It’s good to be back in Muscat, Oman for the curtain-raising event of the 2013 RC44 Championship Tour and probably the entire 2013 sailing season in the northern hemisphere. The Sultanate is being increasingly involved in sailing and The Wave, Muscat is the obvious venue here, given the impressive facilities the marina and Oman Sail have put in place.

The RC44 class has now started its seventh season and as we have frequently commented here it has managed to survive, and prosper, despite the horrendous economic climate that has decimated a number of classes and circuits. Its health is reflected in the number of participating teams, 13 on the starting line this morning off the Wave marina. The more RC44 regattas we attend the more we are convinced this must be THE monohull made for a travelling international sailing circuit.

VSail.info was at the Wave, Muscat last year for the Extreme Sailing Series and we knew what to expect. Conditions are light to moderate but that doesn’t come as a surprise but it still is one of the very few places on the northern hemisphere where one can have a decent seabreeze in late January, early February. Another positive aspect of this venue is something we have also mentioned frequently. Oman doesn’t simply provide a venue, albeit excellent, so that a dozen of international crews spend a week and then return a year later, if they do. Oman Sail is country-wide grassroots sailing program that, officially, has seen more than 10,000 children take at least a few classes. Even if the official numbers were inflated by 100% it would still be a magnificent achievement. In fact, there were many small dinghies sailing during the five hours the RC44′s were racing.

As we said, the day started very slow with a half-an-hour postponement. Still, even after the breeze had built up and settled it was quite light, topping 10-11 knots at around 3pm. Under the usual pattern here, the seabreeze starts blowing at around noon and gradually increases while shifting right. It peaks at around 3pm and then starts shifting back to the left and then drops completely at around 5pm, half-an-hour before sunset.

Despite the light weather, the race committee managed to run seven full flights and some of them had thrilling and exciting moments to offer. Andy Horton, the US sailor, took the helm of Katusha, the Russian boat, and led the team to perfect score. We focused more on photos on this opening of the RC44 Oman Cup because the tight and squeezed format they use with five simultaneous matches and very short courses makes it much more difficult to closely follow all the races while taking shots. However, it was impossible to miss Andy Horton steering the wheel of the Russian boat and rounding all the marks ahead of his opponents.

Fleet racing starts on Thursday at 11:30am local time with again under light conditions. Friday is also expected to be similar but Saturday is forecast to see the strong northwesterly breeze, known locally as Shamal, bring 20 to 25 knots and sand.

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Match racing day at the RC44 Oman Cup. Muscat, 30 January 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

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11 countries represented at Red Bull Youth America’s Cup trials

Posted on 30 January 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: America's Cup] The line-up for the Selection Series for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup will include 11 national teams, attending the two qualifying sessions in San Francisco from February 9-24.

A British team, the GBR Youth Challenge, has been added to the roster to take the place of the previously invited French Youth Team, who now qualify directly for September’s event after gaining support from the French America’s Cup World Series entry, Energy Team.

“The America’s Cup is the greatest thing you can do in sailing,” said Adam Lees, of the British team. “The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup is about getting more people involved in the competition and making it more accessible to young sailors so the next generation is involved early on.”

The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, scheduled September 1-4, 2013, begins with the Selection Series in San Francisco in February. With the goal of ensuring the best of the best are on the starting line of the main event, the Selection Series will narrow the field through two rigorous training workshop and regatta sessions from February 9-15 and February 18-24, 2013.

“The goal of the selection process is two-fold,” said Hans-Peter Steinacher, a double Olympic gold medalist who shares the role of Sports Director for the event with Roman Hagara.

“First, we want all of the teams at the selection series to learn and improve and maximize their potential. At the same time, we must evaluate the crews over the course of the week so that we can invite the top teams to race for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup in September. This is such a great chance for these young teams to launch their careers.”

“We will have this one chance to see the youth teams train and compete under high-pressure situations during the selection camp,” agreed Hagara. “It’s a fantastic way to assess who can perform to their best and to select those who deserve to qualify for the main event.”

American Youth Sailing Force during their AC45 trials. San Francisco, 12 November 2012. Photo copyright Guilain Grenier / Oracle Team USA

Emirates Team New Zealand, Artemis Racing, China Team and Energy Team have all indicated they are supporting teams for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. Youth crews with the support of an America’s Cup World Series team are eligible for direct entry to September’s event via the Regatta Director.

ORACLE TEAM USA, the current holder of the America’s Cup, conducted its own training camp before Christmas to select which American teams it would support. USA45 Racing (representing the USA), and American Youth Sailing Force (representing San Francisco) will both spend the coming months training for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup under the stewardship of the American Cup defender.

The Selection Series in February will be held on the same AC45 wing sail catamarans the youth crews will race in September. These are also the same boats the America’s Cup teams race in the AC World Series.

Teams participating in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup:

Selection Series Session 1 – February 9-15
AUS – Objective Australia
AUT – Team Austria
DEN – Danish Vikings
GER – STG-NRV Sailing Team
NZL – Full Metal Jacket Racing
RSA – Team i’KaziKati

Selection Series Session 2 – February 18-24
ARG – Argentina Youth Team
GBR – GBR Youth Challenge
ITA – Team Italy powered by Stig
POR – ROFF-Cascais
SUI – Team TILT

Youth crews supported by America’s Cup World Series Teams
CHN – China Team / Name TBC
FRA – Energy Team / Name TBC
NZL – Emirates Team New Zealand / Name TBC
SWE – Artemis Racing / Swedish Youth Challenge
USA – ORACLE TEAM USA / American Youth Sailing Force (SFO)
USA – ORACLE TEAM USA / USA45 Racing (USA)

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Auckland returns for double dose of Volvo Ocean Race

Posted on 28 January 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Auckland, a world renowned sailing capital, returned to the race route for the first time in 10 years in 2011-12 and staged a spectacular stopover at Auckland Viaduct, with spectators packing the Race Village and the Waitemata Harbour.

Widely reported results from Google showed Volvo Ocean Race was the second most searched term in New Zealand in 2012, demonstrating just how the event caught the imagination of the people.

Once again, the 2014-15 route will see Auckland play host to the start of the main Southern Ocean leg, sending the teams on their way around Cape Horn and on to the leg finish in Itajaí in Brazil. The dates of the stopover will be revealed next month.

“Sailing into Auckland after a 10-year gap felt like the race was coming home,” said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad. “Tens of thousands of passionate fans packed the Race Village each day, and the crowds for all the arrivals plus the In-Port Race and Leg Start were among the best we’ve ever had.

“Auckland people know sailing and know the race. As soon as we arrived it was clear that we’d been away from this stunning city too long and it’s hugely satisfying to be able to say that we’re coming back straight away this time. Having an agreement in place for the next two editions is just the icing on the cake.”

This will be the ninth time the race has stopped at Auckland, which is known as the City of Sails for its affinity with the sea.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown said: “This is an exciting win for Auckland. New Zealand’s fabled sailing heritage, and the affinity Aucklanders have with the sea which surrounds us, makes this city the perfect Volvo Ocean Race destination.

“My goal is for Auckland to become the world’s most liveable city. A key component of us meeting that goal, and delivering on our ambitious economic transformation objectives, is to play host to major events such as the next two Volvo Ocean Races.”

Auckland is the fourth Host Port for 2014-15 announced so far, following the start point of Alicante and the two Brazilian ports of Recife and Itajaí. The rest of the route for 2014-15 will be revealed over the coming weeks.

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RC44 Championship Tour enters its seventh season

Posted on 28 January 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: RC44 Championship Tour] The seventh season of RC44 Championship Tour is about to kick off with the RC44 Oman Cup presented by Oman Shipping Company and hosted by Oman Sail. Anticipation amongst the 13 competing teams is growing; who can stop Team Aqua taking the Championship for the third year in a row. Who will master the conditions in Oman, a venue that most are unfamiliar with and who will be the most consistent team this season, in a race format where no individual races can be discarded, you have to count four out of the season’s five events and the final event that doubles as the World Championships cannot be discarded.

The event format remains the same in 2013, one day of match racing where the pros or owners can steer followed by four days of fleet racing where only the amateur owner can helm. 50% of the team has to be amateur and with this season spanning 10 months, the teams must continue to improve throughout the season and keep sharp over a long time period to win.

Chris Bake’s Team Aqua have been the victors of the last two RC44 seasons, Bake’s long term tactician Cameron Appleton knows what they will be looking for this season. “As always we will look to have continuous improvement in all areas of our program, whether they are large or small refinements in how we race these boats in the toughest one design class.” And are they expecting the result to be the same. “We would like to be in the same position as last year but know we need to approach things differently to be able to get to the next level above the other teams.”

This year the multinational crew on Team Aqua is extending their youth programme to young sailors from nations across the world. The first youth member to join the team in Oman will be Michael Boucher, 20, from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Lion Foundation Youth Training Programme, a scheme two of the team, Cameron Appleton and Andy Estcourt, graduated from. The team will then give the experience to sailors from Denmark, the UK and USA – the countries represented within the crew of Team Aqua.

Having dominated the Match Racing in 2013 Valentin Zavadnikov’s Synergy Russian Sailing Team are not making any changes to their crew, American match racer Ed Baird will be calling tactics for the second year.

John Bassadone’s Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team won the final event in 2012, and were crowned 2012 RC44 World Champions, their only crew change will be Gustavo Martinez Doreste standing in as tactician for the first event of the season. Boat Captain, German Panei revealed their team’s goals for the season. “We are always working to improve, last season was a great success; we improved race by race, with a fourth place in the Championship Tour and a win at the World Championships. This year we will fight to be on the podium at the end of the season and we will try to repeat the performance at the World Championship last season.”

Stepping into their first full RC44 season is Brian Benjamin’s Aegir Racing (GBR). The team will be joined for the season’s opener by class founder Russell Coutts. Benjamin is used to winning in his mini maxi, but how does he see his team faring in the RC44 class. “We would like to win of course! But we would be happy this year if we can consistently be in the top five boats. I’m really looking forward to Oman having never sailed in that part of the world before.”

Another team who are not underestimating the competition this season is Igor Lah’s Team CEEREF. “With the class getting more and more competitive it gets also more difficult to keep track of good results”. The team is not planning any major changes to their crew in 2013 and tactician Michele Ivaldi is looking forward to sailing somewhere new. “The RC44 circuit is going back to the Middle East and it is a very good thing for the class and for the sport of sailing in general. I have never been to Oman and I am looking forward to visiting Muscat and enjoying the brilliant sailing conditions I have been told about.”

Two more new professional sailors will join the Tour; 2008 Olympic gold medallist Paul Goodison (GBR) will join David Murphy’s Ironbound and former America’s Cup helmsman Flavio Flavini will be calling the shots on the newly named Team Italia.

Oman Sail will play host to the RC44 Class from their headquarters at The Wave, Muscat. “Oman is proud to be staging the RC44 Oman Cup at Oman’s elite sailing venue,” said David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail. “While Oman Sail aims to reignite Oman’s maritime heritage, from helping to show its youth the attraction of water sports, up to developing its top sailors into Olympians and participants in the other pinnacles of sailboat racing, hosting regattas for classes such as the RC44 clearly has the potential for bringing wider reaching economic benefits to the country.”

Oman Sail actively promotes Oman as a premier venue and host country for high profile sailing events with EFG Bank Sailing Arabia – The Tour, Mussanah Race Week – both created by Oman Sail – and the Extreme Sailing Series Muscat already well established. In 2013 the Laser World Championships will be held in Oman for the first time.

Also supporting the 2013 RC44 Oman Cup is Muscat Municipality. The RC44 Cup will be one of the key events taking place during The Muscat Festival (30 January – 28 February) a cultural, artistic and entertainment festival that will give the RC44 sailors and guests an opportunity to explore Oman trough numerous activities.

Racing at the RC44 Oman Cup presented by Oman Shipping Company will start on Wednesday 30 January 2013 at 11.30 GST (0730 GMT) with the final day of racing Sunday 3rd February.

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François Gabart, MACIF, winner of the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe Press release

Posted on 27 January 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Vendée Globe] François Gabart’s Vendée Globe is a story of transformation. In a little less than 80 days, the young skipper, viewed as a talented outsider, he evolved turned into a race leader, successfully keeping the other competitors at bay.

A spectacular start

From the outset of the race, François Gabart set about upsetting the order. He took the lead in the Bay of Biscay, imposing his fast pace and sailing in a style akin to the French short course solo racing circuit, the Solitaire du Figaro skipper than a long-distance sailor. The weather conditions favoured the front runners, who soon extended their lead. It took them three days to reach the Madeira latitude, where the first strategic choices were made, followed by Armel Le Cléac’h storming into the front.

François Gabart on MACIF wins the 2012-13 Vendée Globe. Sables d’Olonne, 27 January 2013. Photo copyright Christophe Launay

4-way match

Sailing down the South Atlantic after a complicated the doldrums confirmed the situation, that the race was dominated by a leading quartet featuring Armel Le Cléac’h, Vincent Riou, Jean-Pierre Dick and François Gabart leaving Bernard Stamm and Alex Thomson in their wake. As they reached the Roaring Forties, the skippers ahead picked up the pace, resulting in a series of amazing performances. On November 30, François Gabart broke the first 24-hour distance record (482.91 miles). Shortly, after Vincent Riou was forced to abandon and three skippers – Jean-Pierre Dick, Armel le Cléac’h and François Gabart – entered the Indian Ocean together as a tight pack while Bernard Stamm, ranked fourth, lurked behind.

The great escape

On December 10, the MACIF skipper drove the point home by setting the ultimate solo distance record on a monuhull, covering 545 miles in twenty-four hours. Armel Le Cléac’h was the only one able to hold on and the two Frenchmen, positioned at the front of the fleet, built up an impressive gap in only a few days. On December 13, Jean-Pierre Dick was 155 miles behind. 24 hours later, the gap had increased to 300 miles and eventually 500 miles on December 15. The Southern Ocean adventure then turned into a spectacular duel in which the two solo sailors were rarely more than twenty miles apart. At one point within visual contact on several occasions. François Gabart returned to the Atlantic on January 1, securing the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe edition a place in the history book as the first race in which a rookie rounded Cape Horn as the race leader.

François’ trick

Leaving the Le Maire Straights behind them, the two frontrunners laboured through a windless hole and Gabart managed to slightly widen the gap, sailing forty miles ahead. On January 5, Le Cléac’h broke the union for the first time since the Amsterdam gate and tacked west his sights set on a ridge of weather. François Gabart kept sailing along his eastern route, taking him to the edge of the Saint Helena high. Demonstrating his strategic acumen, Gabart extended his lead and positioned himself back in front of the Banque Populaire bow. He crossed the Equator five days ahead of Michel Desjoyeaux’s record. Despite a tricky Doldrums crossing, Gabart kept warding off Le Cléac’h’s attacks throughout his climb back up the North Atlantic. At 29, as he crossed the finish line, he became the youngest Vendée Globe winner ever. Alain Gautier was 30 years old when he won the 1992-1993 edition in 110 days and 2 hours. What a difference a decade makes.

Key figures

Longest distance covered in 24 hours: December 10, 545 miles at an average speed of 22.7 knots.
Number of rankings with Gabart leading: (5 rankings a day): 234
Days spent leading the race: 44 days 20 hours
Les Sables to Equator: 11 days 00 hours 20 min (Jean Le Cam’s 2004-2005 record: 10 days 11 hours 28 min)
Equator to Good Hope: 12 days 03 hours 25 min (JP Dick’s record: 12 day 02 hour 40min)
Good Hope to Cape Leeuwin: 11 days 06 hours 40 min (new record)
Cape Leeuwin to Cape Horn: 17 days 18 h 35mn (new record)
Cape Horn to Equator: 13 days 19 hours
Equator to Les Sables: 12 days 01 hour 37 minutes

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