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Team Brunel strikes first blow in the Volvo Ocean Race

Posted on 23 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Team Brunel] On Saturday July 19th the starting gun was fired for the Marina Rubicón Round Canary Islands Race. The 670 mile yacht race led the fleet in three days around the Canary Islands.

After the start Team Brunel took the second place in the first contest between three brand new VO65-racers. The Spanish Team Campos of skipper Iker Martinez took the lead shortly after the start and the ladies of Team SCA started last. Sunday morning Team Brunel grabbed the lead from Team Campos. After that Bouwe Bekking and his men built their lead rapidly to over 10 miles.

Monday morning the Dutch boat doubled their lead at the Spanish team to more than 20 miles. “We are sailing at the most southwestern tip of the archipelago. At this time we could not see Team Campos and Team SCA. Last night we were smoking,” navigator Andrew Cape reported from the boat. It was enough for the victory in the first Marina Rubicón Round Canary Islands Race. Team Brunel crossed the finish line at full speed in a pitch black Monday evening for the coast of Marina Rubicón at Lanzarote.

Rokas Milevičius: “The race was really fun, with various conditions. We had strong wind, light wind, no wind and we sailed up- and downwind. We knew exactly what to expect, because Andrew “Capey” Cape has done this race before. He did a great job in preparing the race. We knew where the wind would die and where the wind would increase. The speed of the three VO65’s was almost the same during the beginning of the race. After the start we sailed a few miles close together. During the first night we had a lot of wind up to 30 knots.

We were pushing harder than Team Campos and Team SCA. We did some good sail changes, and after rounding Lanzarote we took the lead. At sunrise we could not see the Spanish boat anymore. But a few miles later we were parked in an area with no wind. We hoped that they would not overtake us from behind, but they parked first. Luckily we found the first wind. Clearly Capey has given us the victory.”

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The myth of the “commercially sustainable” America’s Cup

Posted on 22 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

According to Forbes Magazine’s list of the 50 richest Australians, Bob Oatley is sitting in 33rd place with an estimated fortune of US$830 million, as of January 2014, which at the current exchange rate is approximately €615 million.

No matter what currency you express it in, for the average person, that is a boatload of money and thousands of times what most of us would ever earn in our entire lifetime. Nevertheless, there is a tremendous difference between being very rich and being able to finance an America’s Cup campaign, and this is something that, apparently, Bob Oatley and his son Sandy, misjudged when they filed their challenge for the 35th America’s Cup last September.

It’s difficult to conceive how such an accomplished businessman wouldn’t see nearly a year ago that with an estimated cost of more than €100 million to run a competitive campaign and have a serious chance at beating Larry Ellison, it is financially a no-brainer. One cannot spend a sixth of one’s fortune on a yacht race, regardless of its appeal and the resulting status achieved, as well as the bragging rights. In fact, there were a number of knowledgeable people that, off the record, would also express their bewilderment during the 2013 Sydney Hobart race.

There will not be any Team Australia taking part in the 35th America’s Cup. Photo copyright Andrea Francollini

Most probably, the Oatleys thought they would be able to gather around them more wealthy Australian businessmen and corporate groups that would fund a national drive to take back the America’s Cup to Sydney. The final match in San Francisco might have been one of the most exciting and thrilling races but the entire event was a commercial disaster. None of the sponsorship and funding goals were achieved and a mere three challengers competed. We have commented on this many times and we will not go over that issue again. Still, it is interesting to remind ourselves of the budgets the four teams had last time, according to Bruno Troublé: Oracle Team USA spent €250 million to successfully defend the America’s Cup. Artemis Racing had a budget of €160 million, Luna Rossa had at its disposal €100 million while Emirates Team New Zealand reached the finals with €80 million.

As a result, the Oatleys started their negotiations with Russell Coutts and Larry Ellison at the €100-million barrier and unless they were able to negotiate a protocol that would substantially reduce costs compared to the 34th America’s Cup they had embarked on a mission impossible. After, allegedly, tough negotiations that went on for months, the result was quite surprising, to say the least. Not only did the Australian challenger agree to hand the Defender unprecedented rights, they put on additional burdens on the challengers that made the, already scant, commercial appeal even smaller.

Just the fact the challengers will have to compete in two different parts of the planet makes the logistics and finances prohibitive. In addition, marketing departments will have to make their pitch in the corporate boardrooms without even guaranteeing that their team will make it to the top four! Let alone the fact that before the end of 2014 they will not know the venue of the next event and the venue of the Challenger Selection round robin will not be announced before February 2015!

It seems that reality settled in on Saturday when Team Australia announced their withdrawal from the America’s Cup, stating, among others that “ultimately our estimate of the costs of competing were well beyond our initial expectation and our ability to make the formula of our investment and other commercial support add up.”

As of today, there are four potential and credible challengers that are, or could be, able to provide the initial US$3 million required for the entry. They are Luna Rossa, Artemis, Ben Ainslie Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand. There is talk of the possibility of a French or Chinese entry but we doubt they will be able to get the necessary funding.

The case of Ben Ainslie is an example of the impossibility of getting off the ground without the strong support of either a government or a group of wealthy financial backers. The world’s most successful and most accomplished sailor, a living sports legend in his own country couldn’t have started his campaign without £7.5 million of government funding and the contribution of seven founding shareholders. We aren’t saying that this is negative, it’s simply a fact.

We were criticized in the past for pointing out this but when the team that wrote the rules of a competition bows out because they consider it to be extremely expensive what should the rest think? It appears Russell Coutts is doing an excellent job though. Despite the PR to the contrary, the only task he has is to retain the America’s Cup, nothing more. So, with one of the five potential challengers out, achieving that goal became a bit easier.

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Photo gallery: Day 2 of the Moth World Championship

Posted on 21 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Spectacular shots from the second day of racing at the Moth World Championship by top sailing photographer, Thierry Martinez:

Day 2 of the 2014 Moth Worlds. Hayling, 20 July 2014. Photo copyright Thierry Martinez

Day 2 of the 2014 Moth Worlds. Hayling, 20 July 2014. Photo copyright Thierry Martinez

Day 2 of the 2014 Moth Worlds. Hayling, 20 July 2014. Photo copyright Thierry Martinez

Day 2 of the 2014 Moth Worlds. Hayling, 20 July 2014. Photo copyright Thierry Martinez

Day 2 of the 2014 Moth Worlds. Hayling, 20 July 2014. Photo copyright Thierry Martinez

Day 2 of the 2014 Moth Worlds. Hayling, 20 July 2014. Photo copyright Thierry Martinez

Day 2 of the 2014 Moth Worlds. Hayling, 20 July 2014. Photo copyright Thierry Martinez

Day 2 of the 2014 Moth Worlds. Hayling, 20 July 2014. Photo copyright Thierry Martinez

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Three bullets in a row for Greenhalgh at the Moth Worlds

Posted on 21 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: International Moth World Championship] Racing started around 1pm after the Westerly sea breeze came in. Blue fleet made up for their lost race from Saturday and then sailed two more races in the best of the breeze.

Yellow fleet were too far East to get the full effect of this and only managed a single race in what was a long day on the water for them. The race team moved Yellow fleet further west once Blue fleet were sent ashore, but the gradient and sea breeze were cancelling each other out and racing was abandoned for the day.

Robert Greenhalgh (GBR) was the man in Blue fleet who managed to stay up on the foils more than anyone else. Only top Australian helms Nathan Outteridge and Scott Babbage were able to keep in touch at all with Greenhalgh in the first race of the day.

Robert said after the racing, “Confidence is high – that’s three wins in a row and I was leading the race which was abandoned at the end of the day. In the light airs today it was very important to get off the line and after that I was very happy with my speed.”

David Cambell-James on the leeward mark boat took particular note of Robert’s start in Blue race 3 particularly, “He started on port at the pin end and crossed the fleet comfortably. He was off.”

Chris Draper ended his day on a better note with two 5th places after pushing it a bit too hard in the early Blue fleet race, “I was pushing it a bit hard downwind and speared it in just before the finish. To make things worse Simon Hiscocks just got past me on the line.” Draper’s 12th in race 2 is currently his discard, with his other counting result being a 6th.

Stevie Morrison has been consistently getting results around 15th and was happy with his day on the water. After finishing 50th at the nationals, he had some setup advice from Nathan Outteridge which has helped his foiling stability immensely. Even so, Stevie said the top guys can pull a new piece of kit out of the bag to gain a bit more pace, or as Nathan jokingly said at the bar having a beer with Stevie, “You just need to spend to win in this fleet!”

With only 3 or 4 qualifying races completed so far, depending on which fleet each helm is in, qualifying has been extended into Monday with the reserve day on Tuesday now being used for Gold and Silver fleet racing. Sunday’s Yellow fleet will head out early to make up for their lost race.

The overall results to date are tricky to show with the fleets out of sync. Of the Brits, Robert Greenhalgh is looking good with 3 bullets and an 8th and Chris Rashley has 1,2,1 in his three races. The Antipodeans are also looking strong with Josh Mcknight scoring 3,1,3, Scott Babbage with 2,2,3,4 and Nathan Outteridge scoring 3,2,2 after his gear failure before race 1 of the series gave him a DNC.

There are a few more who’ve been knocking in results in the top ten such as Rob Gough (AUS), Ben Paton (GBR), Andrew McDougall (AUS), Tom Offer (GBR) & Christopher Rast (SUI). With the light winds set to continue into the week, this kind of consistency could well be key to getting a podium result.

The stunning weather does make the racing very watchable from the Hayling Island beach. Why not come down, bring a set of binoculars, some suntan lotion and ice cream money to enjoy the unique sight of 138 foiling Moths battle it out in UK waters.

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Robertissima Crowned 2014 Melges 32 European Champion

Posted on 21 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Melges 32] Unstable racing conditions did not allow for a final race at the 2014 Melges 32 European Championship making overnight leader Roberto Tomasini Grinover and his Robertissima team newly crowned 2014 European Champions! Aboard with Tomasini Grinover was tactician Vasco Vascotto and crew members Federico Michetti, Giovanni Cassinari, Gunnar Bahr, Simone Spangaro, Steafno Nicolussi and Armin Raderbauer.

“We are delighted with this outstanding results, special thanks to all the crew, the sails and the boat were just perfect,” said an elated Tomasini Grinover. “We won here, repeating our victory in Talamone against a really strong fleet. After nine races and gaining leadership on Day Two, then defending our position up until the very end, we are so proud of what we have achieved so far.”

A hard fought battle between Richard Goransson’s Helly Hansen Inga From Sweden and Valentin Zavadnikov’s Synergy GT team has also come to a close, respectively finishing second and third overall. Naofumi Kamei’s Mamma Aiuto! finished fourth and Alessandro Rombelli’s Azimut by STIG was fifth.

Racing in the fleet for the very first time ever, Claudia Rossi aboard Wilma finished an impressive sixth overall out of seventeen entries. “Sailing the Melges 32 was an amazing experience – a really fantastic boat to race between so many high level crews,” commented Rossi post racing. “I managed to grow a lot, even in the windy conditions and inside a close race course, I am fully satisfied with my first time sailing the boat. I only started sailing ten months ago. I will be back soon in the Melges 32 fleet.”

And with the close of the fourth act of the 2014 Audi-Tron Sailing Series, another examination of the overall Series Ranking is in order. Still on top is Zavadnikov, followed by Mauro Mocchegiani aboard Fratelli Giacomel Audi e-Tron in second, followed by Edoardo Lupi on Torpyone. With only one more event remaining (Genova), Zavadnikov maintains his significant lead, but points remain tight for second through fifth.

Roberto Tomasini Grinover is the brand new Melges 32 European Champion. Photo copyright Carlo Borlenghi

TOP TEN RESULTS (FINAL – After Ten Races, One Discard)
1.) Roberto Tomasini Grinover/Vasco Vascotto, Robertissima; 3-4-3-2-2-1-2-5-[6] = 22
2.) Richard Goransson/Morgan Larson, Helly Hansen Inga From Sweden; 5-[15]-1-9-1-3-1-[5/SCP]-2 = 27
3.) Valentin Zavadnikov/Michele Ivaldi, Synergy GT; 4-1-2-3-3-[13]-4-7-3 = 27
4.) Naofumi Kamei/Manu Weiller, Mamma Aiuto!; [12/SCP2]-10-6-1-7-7-6-1-1 = 39
5.) Alessandro Rombelli/Freddy Loof, Azimut by STIG; 10-8-4-[14]-10-2-5-4-7 = 50
6.) Claudia Rossi/Nicola Celon, Wilma; 2-5-7-10-[15]-5-14-6-4 = 53
7.) Roberto Mazzuccato/Gabriele Benussi, Margherita; 8-[13]-11-8-6-6-3-3-[15] = 58
8.) Aurturo Di Lorenzo/Matteo Ivaldi, Malafemmena; [16]-7-8-6-4-9-8-8-9 = 59
9.) Giangiacomo Serena di Lapigio/Hugo Rocha, G Spot; 11-2-10-[15]-5-12-7-10-14 = 71
10.) Pavel Kuznetsov/Evgeniy Neugodnikov, Tavatuy; 9-11-15-11-8-4-[16]-11-5 = 74

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