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Dongfeng’s broken rudder setback

Posted on 18 October 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Dongfeng Race Team lost the lead in the Volvo Ocean Race early on Saturday after the boat hit an unidentified object and broke their rudder. They lost the lead but replaced the decimated part and they were soon back sailing at 20 knots. The problem enabled Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to take the lead but the rest of the fleet were still hot on their heels. The Chinese team’s problems began at 0210 UTC when a ‘violent impact’ hit the boat. Dongfeng’s onboard reporter Yann Riou picks up the story: “We had two options, installing the emergency rudder or removing what was left of the old rudder and putting the new one in place. We decided to go for the second option.

“Thomas (Rouxel) put the diving suit on. He jumped into the water… removed what was left from the old rudder (not much) and we put the new one in place.

“We are all disappointed… it does not look very fair but there’s nothing to do about this.”

It has not been plain sailing for Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi crew either. They reported narrowly missing a net yesterday afternoon but the winds were so light that they were able to take avoiding action. Team Brunel and Team SCA were not so lucky and were held up briefly after debris caught in their keels. The Dutch boat even had to send a swimmer into the water to dive down to remove a strip of rubber from their keel. The women’s team also showed an irregular track and reported running into a fishing net, leading to more lost time behind the rest of the fleet who are now some 50 miles ahead of them.

The seven-strong fleet were expected to arrive in Cape Town in the first leg from Alicante at the beginning of November but their estimated arrival may be delayed after light winds in the Atlantic held up their progress.

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The real Volvo Ocean Race

Posted on 15 October 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Although we have been critical of the Volvo Ocean Race communication philosophy a few times, we have to admit that the quality of footage produced by the onboard reporters on Alvimedica and Vestas Wind is outstanding.

Brian Carlin, onboard Vestas Wind, sent a very sincere report of a difficult 24 hours that saw one laptop dying after taking a swim and a VO65 getting trapped in a breeze of 1.5 knots while the rest of the fleet was sailing away. Move forward to 2:03 in the clip to watch how skipper Chris Nicholson described his boat’s situation: “We’re in deep s–t here”. One can’t give a more honest assessment of one’s troubles!

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Record 123 yachts to compete in 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race

Posted on 14 October 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Rolex Middle Sea Race] A record-breaking 123 yachts from more than 20 countries will cross the starting line of the Rolex Middle Sea Race on 18 October, reflecting the international stature of this popular offshore race organised by the Royal Malta Yacht Club.

The unprecedented number of entrants – a 24 percent increase over the 99 yachts competing in 2013 – includes boats from as far away as the United States and Australia along with thirteen yachts from Malta. More than 15 boats will compete for the first time.

The Line Honours favourite is Igor Simcic’s Maxi, Esimit Europa 2, skippered by multiple Olympic and America’s Cup winner Jochen Schumann. The 100ft canting keel maxi has taken line honour victories in the years from 2010 – 2012, becoming only the second yacht in the history of the RMSR to take it three times in a row. Unable to compete in last year’s edition due to damage suffered on the mast on their way to the race, the crew is returning with the goal of taking line honours for an unprecedented fourth occasion.

Now in its 35th year, the Rolex Middle Sea Race (RMSR) is a fixture in the season, ranking alongside the Rolex Fastnet, Rolex Sydney–Hobart and Newport-Bermuda as a “must do” race.

“For yet another year, the Rolex Middle Sea Race has grown in the number of boats that have committed to compete in this ever popular offshore race,” said Godwin Zammit, Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. “There are a number of factors which contribute to the increase in participation. Naturally, the scenic yet challenging course plays a very important role, however one must mention the renowned hospitality that our Club offers its guests, which is spoken of highly by participants, often leading competitors to sign up simply through word of mouth recommendations. Last, but not least, is our strong connection with other Clubs and our affiliation with the Royal Ocean Racing Club.”

The event’s fascination is largely drawn from its alluring, 608-nautical-mile racecourse – a rigorous anti-clockwise loop around Sicily which introduces numerous “corners” that present changing and complex meteorological shifts. The route includes the deep azure waters around Sicily including the Aeolian and Egadi Islands, as well as Pantelleria and Lampedusa. One of the most stunning vistas is Stromboli, the active volcano which is a course mark.

Challenging, enchanting and historic, the Rolex Middle Sea Race starts in Malta’s spectacular Grand Harbour at 11am on the 18 October.
“Security and safety of both racing teams and spectators has always been imperative for us and a number of procedures have been put in place. We have worked closely with the Armed Forces of Malta and Transport Malta to ensure that only authorised vessels authorised by the Race Committee will be allowed into the Grand Harbour. Both entities will be present on the day to ensure that all procedures are strictly adhered to on the day”, said Peter Dimech, Race Committee Chair and Principle Race Officer.

Supported by Rolex since 2002, the race commences and finishes in Malta. Winners will be announced throughout the week with an award ceremony wrapping up the week-long event on 25 October.

The Royal Malta Yacht Club thanks the general public for their co-operation in ensuring that all safety instructions issued by the relevant Authorities are adhered to, in order to ensure the safety of all concerned. Moreover, boats in the vicinity of the race courses are advised to navigate with caution and to keep a sharp lookout.

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Team Alvimedica reports on the third night of Leg 1

Posted on 14 October 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Team Alvimedica] There was absolutely nothing charming about night number three. All of that talk about the reality of the race setting in, leaving the med this and that–the biggest challenge we have had so far was in making it through the night. A malicious front that has turned out to more aggressive, less predictable, and last much longer than anticipated—particularly its sea state—has left us licking our wounds a bit in these early hours of the morning. As Dave Swete acknowledged, “35 knots, upwind—yep. Feels like the Volvo to me.” Even Ryan Houston admitted that this had been a “proper touch-up,” a standard not easily (or pleasantly) met.

Quote Charlie Enright: “We’re managing, still in the peloton after a massive mistake so all good, cant ask for much more.”

Theatrics aside, everyone has taken the opportunity to fall into their respective heavy-air roles and I think it’s best to get these bashings out of the way early. We always seem to come out stronger as a team and everyone’s aware that our inexperience shows most at the weather’s extremes. But it is also where we have the most to learn, and there have been some mistakes to analyze when the dust settles. Charlie gave a quick synopsis before I sat down to write: “We’re managing, still in the peloton after a massive mistake so all good, cant ask for much more.” He’s referring to a costly sail call that left us with the smaller J3 in the air for too long, when we should have been going faster on the larger J2. A midnight sail change to rectify the problem and we’re off again in chase of the leaders. Lesson learned, and we’ll get the miles back so nobody’s too fussed.

Next up are the Canary Islands and an inside track along the northwestern coast of Africa. New territory for all of us and it should be exciting once the sun comes up! But for now everyone’s just trying to take care of each other and the boat, and I will borrow Charlie’s signoff in that I can’t ask for much more than that.

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Team SCA leads Volvo Ocean Race fleet out of Gibraltar Straits

Posted on 13 October 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Team SCA] Team SCA is the first team to reach the Straits of Gibraltar this morning!! After a bold tactical move that saw them break away from the rest of the fleet and take a northerly approach, they reached the Straits first in the early hours of this morning.

“We have a very happy boat!,” comments Libby. But with conditions light and tricky the team cannot spend too long enjoying their moment. At 0340h UTC the team was leading the fleet by some 4nm and sailing in some 4 knots of wind. “It is important to get to there [Gibraltar Straits] first, so that we can capitalize on the acceleration that the Strait can give us.”

The team now has to make their first big strategic decision, and as Libby predicted before the start they will “have to pick the west or south side towards the waypoint at Fernando de Noronha. This first decision will depend on the trade winds.”

So we will just have to wait and see what the team decides to do – exciting times for all!

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