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Key West Race Week 28th edition begins January 18

Posted on 18 December 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source:Premiere Racing] High-speed foiling catamarans, powerful 72-foot Maxi yachts, innovative High Performance Racing designs and large classes of exciting sport boats are heading to the Florida Keys. Quantum Key West Race Week 2015 will once again showcase the full spectrum of sailboat racing amid the beautiful setting of aqua-colored waters and warm sunshine.

Many of the world’s best sailors will come to the Conch Republic for the 28th edition of Key West Race Week, being held Jan. 18-23. For the fourth consecutive year, Quantum Sail Design Group will serve as title sponsor of the iconic event, which is organized by Premiere Racing.

“One important thing Key West has done for Quantum: It’s brought us closer to our clients,” said Farley Fontenot, a managing partner for the international sailmaking company. “We are a company that wants to help sailors achieve their goals. A week in Key West gives our professionals a great opportunity to get out on the docks and interact directly with clients and do whatever possible to help them improve their boat’s performance.”

Fontenot will be on hand to provide coaching for Doug and Dalton DeVos in the Melges 32 class and will be joined in Key West by Quantum professionals sprinkled throughout the fleet, which will feature as many as 11 classes consisting of boats ranging from 23 to 72 feet.

A touch of the America’s Cup will come to Key West for the first time with the addition of the GC 32 class. GC stands for ‘Great Cup’ and the state-of-the-art foiling catamarans mimic the larger models used in the most recent America’s Cup by providing an airborne racing experience. “These boats are fun and fast,” said Chad Corning, program manager for skipper Jason Carroll and the Argo team. “The GC 32 can achieve speeds of 40 knots in 20 knots of breeze going downwind, which is exhilarating.”

“Key West is a really good venue for these boats because it has generally flat water along with big breeze,” Corning said. “Aboard Argo, we are still learning the boat and refining our techniques so this event is a crucial steppingstone in our preparations.”

From a spectator standpoint, the most majestic racing machines in Key West will be those racing in the Maxi 72 class, which typically requires a crew of 17 to race. Minneapolis-based skipper Hap Fauth and his crew aboard Bella Mente return after capturing class honors in 2014 and will do battle with a pair of familiar foes in Numbers (Gunther Buerman, Highland Beach, Fla.) and Shockwave (George Sakellaris, Framingham, Mass.).

Terry Hutchinson, a veteran of multiple America’s Cups and a former Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, recently joined the Bella Mente as tactician. Hutchinson, who has competed at Key West almost every year since 1991, has spent most of the past decade calling tactics aboard a TP52 and Farr 40 at this regatta.

“This is the first time I’ll be racing a boat of this size in Key West so it will be interesting,” Hutchinson said. “We’re going against two strong programs loaded with great sailors so it will be fun, challenging racing. If it’s light air, we’ll have our hands full with Shockwave, which won in those conditions off Copa del Rey.”

One-design racing continues to increase in popularity worldwide and there will be several strong classes at Quantum Key West 2015. For the third straight year, J/70 will be the largest class in Key West with a whopping 38 boats entered so far. Jud Smith (Africa, Marblehead, MA), Mauricio Santa Cruz (Bruschetta, Brazil) and Carlo Alberini (Calvi Network, Italy) are among many well-known skippers that will be competing this year.

One of the nice storylines of the regatta is the resurgence of the Melges 24 class, which is showing a significant increase in entries over last year – a positive sign for this iconic sport boat class. “The Melges 24 is experiencing a grass roots revitalization and Melges sailors are always excited about sailing in venues such as Key West, which has long been popular with the class,” said Peter Craig, President of Premiere Racing.

Brian Porter (Lake Geneva, WI) and his team on Full Throttle have enjoyed significant success on the Melges 24 circuit for a sustained period of time and will certainly be a favorite in Key West. Bora Gulari (Detroit, MI) is another accomplished skipper and a threat to win any class in which he competes. Premiere Racing is very pleased to have a pair of J/Boat classes making one design debuts at Key West Race Week. To date , the J/111 has attracted seven boats while J/88 has six on the scratch sheet. Cleveland skipper Rob Ruhlman steered Spaceman Spiff to victory in PHRF 1 last year and is looking forward to one design racing against other J/111s.

“I think it’s absolutely outstanding that we have a one-design start and we are very excited about the
caliber of competition,” Ruhlman said. “It’s really a great class because the boats are so evenly matched.” This will be the 13th Key West for Ruhlman, who is president and CEO of Preformed Line Products. Ruhlman started coming to the Conch Republic in 1994 with a Tripp 26 and has also raced a Mumm 36, Farr 40 and 13D5 in the regatta. “It’s January and I get the heck out of Cleveland!” Ruhlman said when asked what he loves most about
Key West. “Seriously, the whole event is just fantastic. I think the format has greatly improved over the years. Not much has changed on the water… the race management is still top-notch. However, some of the off-water tweaks the organizers have made over the years have been for the better. There is a sense of camaraderie at Key West that you don’t find at other big events.” The Farr 280 will make their Key West debut next January. Four boats will battle for one design subclass trophies within a larger PHRF class.

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Comanche loses to Wild Oats XI SOLAS Big Boat Challenge

Posted on 09 December 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source:CYCA] A large spectator fleet watched Bob Oatley’s 100 foot maxi Wild Oats XI declare that Sydney Harbour is still her back yard, the brand new, revolutionary American upstart, Comanche notwithstanding.

Wild Oats XI sliced across the finish line beside Fort Denison 1 minute 22 seconds ahead of Comanche for yet another line honours victory in the annual SOLAS Big Boat Challenge, having led the fleet for much of the race.

Fellow Sydneysider Matt Allen steered his 60 foot Ichi Ban fifth across the line, behind Black Jack and Perpetual Loyal to win the race on handicap. Nicholas Bartels’ Terra Firma won the PHS class.

Skipper Mark Richards steered Wild Oats XI to a perfect start and quickly accelerated ahead until a fouled first spinnaker set allowed Comanche and Perpetual Loyal to ease past her on the approach to the first mark, with Peter Harburg’s blisteringly fast Volvo 70 Black Jack making up the quadrella.

The four boats weaved across the Harbour under spinnaker as they raced towards the first rounding of Fort Denison. As the giant yachts furled their spinnakers to beat around the fort, Wild Oats XI and Comanche were neck and neck. A daring cut between the Australian boat and the Pinchgut rocks gave the Americans the edge, until Wild Oats XI reasserted herself, clawing her way to a lead she would not relinquish again.

With the Rolex Sydney Hobart just weeks away the win will be a big confidence boost for Oatley, Richards and the crack crew aboard Wild Oats XI. She has dominated the ocean classic since her triple record breaking/line honours/overall winner triumph of 2005, a feat she repeated in 2012, but 2014 is shaping up as her greatest challenge yet .

Despite annual modifications and upgrades nine years is a venerable age for a racing yacht, and now she must not only beat arch rival Perpetual Loyal, she must outrun the just launched Comanche and Ragamuffin 100.

The light conditions no doubt helped the cause of the pencil thin Wild Oats XI, as did the tight course. The new generation 100 foot maxis are powerful, wide beamed beasts, and this was not a day for pushing a wide hull through the water.

Bob Oatley will enjoy today’s win, but he will be well aware that the winds will be stronger offshore, the seas bigger and more suited to the big power hitters than the harbour. And each week the crew on Comanche will learn more and more about their brand new, radical boat and how to sail her.

“We were very impressed with Comanche,” Richards conceded after the race. “The conditions suited us rather than her. They went upwind very well. They pointed very high.“

With her huge beam Comanche should be fast downwind, but in an essentially upwind and close hauled race today she gave little away to Wild Oats XI.

“We were very pleased with how the boat went upwind,” Comanche’s skipper Ken Read said. “Every day we sail this boat we learn a huge amount. That is why you will see us out practicing so much before Boxing Day. We could not have been happier with how Comanche went. She was designed to do exactly the opposite of what we had today”.

“This boat is a beast. Do we know how it will handle (the tough conditions off the New South Wales coast and Bass Strait), will it stay in one piece? We have no idea.”

It was a disappointing day for Perpetual Loyal. Another big, beamy beast, she matched Wild Oats XI and Comanche early on for boat speed, but soon lost her way. “We’re improving though,” quipped skipper Anthony Bell. “Last year we shredded a spinnaker. This year we just tied it up in knots.”

While the big boats are all focuSsed on line honours, Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban is all about winning the Rolex Sydney Hobart outright, on handicap. Launched just weeks before last year’s race the 60 footer has undergone a number of modifications recently. “We’ve seen a big improvement in performance,” Allen said.

He was delighted with how fast the boat went, giving little away to the bigger, canting keeled Black Jack all day.

The win will be a real shot in the arm for team Ichi Ban, though like Wild Oats XI, they too know that the real challenge lies ahead. Winning the Rolex Sydney Hobart is an even bigger challenge than winning line honours.

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Gothenburg to host ACWS event in 2015

Posted on 26 November 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Artemis Racing Team] Artemis Racing and the City of Gothenburg are set to host an America’s Cup World Series event during the last weekend of August (28th – 30th) 2015.

Beginning in the summer of 2015, the circuit will feature all of the America’s Cup teams racing in one design AC45 catamarans, providing an early opportunity to win points that will carry forward into the next stage of the competition.

The overall ranking position in the America’s Cup World Series will determine the starting points score of the teams in the America’s Cup Qualifiers in 2017.

“It’s super exciting to announce that the America’s Cup World Series is coming to Sweden next year. It will provide a great opportunity for Artemis Racing to showcase our sport and our America’s Cup program” said Iain Percy, Artemis Racing’s Team Manager.

“There is an incredible momentum within the group right now, and we hope that the Swedish public will be out in force to cheers us on. We’re really looking forward to showing them what we can do next August”, said Fredrik Lööf, 3 time Olympic medallist and tactician for Artemis Racing.

Max Markusson, Event Manager at Göteborg and Co, commented “Gothenburg is a city with a proud maritime history and next year will see a summer of global sailing events. It’s a historic occasion with not only Volvo Ocean Race in June, but also America’s Cup World Series in August. Artemis Racing are taking on an incredible challenge and for us the races will provide a global platform to showcase the city by the water, and it will be a spectacular event for the people of Gothenburg”.

Max Salminen, Olympic Champion and grinder for Artemis Racing, said “It’s amazing what’s happening in sailing right now with the move to foiling boats. The AC45 is definitely the most exciting boat I’ve ever sailed, it’s just an incredible feeling when it lifts up and takes off.”

“Having a fleet of foiling AC45s racing in Gothenburg will be a spectacular sight and one not to miss”.

Racing will take place either on the Gota River close to the city centre, or at Långedrag, and the race village will be located in Frihamnen.

“One of the goals of the America’s Cup World Series is to connect our teams with their fans,” said Harvey Schiller, Commercial Commissioner of the America’s Cup. “This event in Gothenburg will bring the racing close to shore. and allow Swedish America’s Cup fans an opportunity to experience the speed, power and excitement of America’s Cup racing in person.”

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Fast foiling ride for Billy Besson and Matthieu Vandame

Posted on 24 November 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source:Phantom International] Phantom International is proud to announce that Billy Besson and Matthieu Vandame are joining the Phantom Sailing Team for the 2015 season. To celebrate and seal this collaboration Billy and Matthieu enjoyed a fast foiling ride with the Flying Phantom in the sea off Saint Malo – FRA.

Billy and Matthieu are sport catamaran specialists. Billy was twice Olympic catamaran world champion in 2013 and 2014 with his teammate Marie Riou, 2013 Formula 18 World Champion and finished second in the International C-Class Catamaran championship. Matthieu was 2012 Formula 18 World Champion with Olivier Backes on the Sail Innovation Phantom F18 and crewed for famous skippers such as Franck Cammas and François Gabart. He is also pursuing an Olympic campaign with Audrey Ogereau.

In 2015, the Phantom Sailing Team will therefore be a 2 boat team with Billy Besson – Matthieu Vandame and Gurvan Bontemps – Benjamin Amiot. Both crews will compete in the 2015 regatta season and will foil the Flying Phantom around the world.

Billy Besson: “The Flying Phantom is a fantastic boat and very well optimized. With this technology, we can feel the spirit of the last America’s Cup inspiring us. This boat really represents for me the new generation of multihulls. The feelings you get onboard are very good, it is shorter than a C-Class catamaran but the speed is great and the stability amazing due to the design of the foils. All the details are optimized and even if I was sailing the Flying Phantom for the first time, it was a great pleasure to foil and I was as comfortable as if it was my own boat: superb sensations.

It is important for us to be part of the Phantom Sailing Team, we are very positive and looking forward to 2015. Next year will be an exceptional year with all the Flying Phantom boats that are appearing. We will have a big fleet and definitely great regattas. Both Matthieu and I started sailing sport catamarans a long time ago on non-flying boats, but today this is a unique opportunity for us to move to the foiling world. I’m also thinking of all the young sailors that have the chance to become part of this new era. They will be able to learn foiling from the basics at the beginning of their learning process and it will be very impressive in the near future.

In 2015, in addition to the Flying Phantom season, we are continuing our commitment to Olympic catamarans with our teammates. The Olympic Games in Rio are in sight and we will do every thing to master the racing and bring back a medal.”

Matthieu Vandame: “After some foiling sessions, I really think that we are at the beginning of a new evolution for sailing. New sensations, new ways to sail with foiling: I feel lucky that it is happening now and that we are not too old. Sailing with Billy is a good opportunity, as he is a reference in the world of sport catamarans. His experience with foiling boats will ensure we make progress in our handling of the Flying Phantom, with the maneuvers and also learn how to act based on what we feel. Furthermore, I greatly appreciate Billy, as we have known each other for 15 years and we also share a lot of time with the French sailing team, which is very enjoyable. I’m really looking forward to 2015 in order to compete with the Flying Phantom and start the first racing regattas in front of a flying fleet.”

The next rendez-vous for the Flying Phantom and Phantom International is the Paris Boat Show that will be held at the Porte de Versailles from December 6th to 14th. During this event, the 2015 Flying Phantom Class events calendar and some fantastic news for young sailors will be announced. Come and visit us and meet the team at booth M49-Hall 1.

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GC32 Racing Tour 2015 dates and venues announced

Posted on 21 November 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source:GC32 Class] For 2015, its third season of racing, the GC32 foiling catamarans are to compete around Europe on a five event circuit known as the GC32 Racing Tour.

Representing the state-of-the-art in catamaran design, the GC32 is attracting considerable interest due to its conceptual similarity to the AC72 and AC62 foiling catamarans pioneered in the America’s Cup. However as the GC32s are smaller one designs with soft sail rigs, they provide both professional teams and private owners with the opportunity to experience airborne catamaran racing and all the excitement of the larger AC catamarans, but on a much more modest budget and on boats that are far easier to handle while still having the potential to achieve top speeds approaching 40 knots.

The 2015 GC32 Racing Tour schedule:

27-31 May: Austria Cup – Lake Traunsee, Austria
24–27 June: Cowes Cup – Cowes, UK
30 July–2 Aug: TBA – Germany
27-30 August: Trofeo di Roma – Rome Fiumicino, Italy
10–13 September: Marseille One Design – Marseille, France.

The season kicks off on the mountain-lined Lake Traunsee in Austria, where the boats will be based out of Gmunden at the northern end of the lake. This will be the third occasion the GC32s will have competed on the picturesque lake after a successful event this year when the line-up featured sailors from the Luna Rossa and Oracle Team USA America’s Cup campaigns.

Christian Feichtinger, CEO of the Traunsee event’s organisers PROFS Marketing, said: “We are very excited about the latest development of the class. It has proof that we took the right decision two years ago when we started with GC32 races on Lake Traunsee. The past two events were quite successful, but we can´t wait to see more boats and more action on our waters. We believe that this is the best sailing product on the market right now and we are proud of being part of it.”

After two GC32s competed in the 2014 J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, with one claiming line honours in what was one of the lightest events on record, the GC32 Racing Tour returns to one of world’s most historic race courses – the Solent. Here, during the circuit’s UK stopover, racing will take place over three days before the grand finale in which the GC32 fleet will once again race around the Isle of Wight. While the Round the Island Race was first held in 1931, this course was also famously that of the first America’s Cup held in 1851 (when it ran in the opposite, clockwise direction).

Mike Peskett, Race PRO of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race commented: “The Island Sailing Club is delighted that the GC32 class will be attending the 2015 edition of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race and that the Club will be also running the UK leg of the GC32 Racing Tour. As organisers of such an iconic yacht race, we continually work hard to broaden its appeal to our worldwide audience, followers and race partners.”

Full details of the GC32 Racing Tour’s German stopover will be announced soon, but will be followed at the end of August by a new event being held off the beach at Fiumicino, just 8km from the centre of the Italian capital, Rome. With Italian sailing fans being enthusiastic supporters of the America’s Cup and fielding their own team, the Trofeo di Roma is certain to attract the crowds.

The GC32 Racing Tour once again will culminate at Marseille One Design, where the GC32s will participate alongside other foiling classes. Backed by the Ville de Marseille in the build-up to the French Mediterranean city becoming European Capital of Sport for 2017, racing will once again take place on the waters of the Rade Sud to the south of Marseille’s main city centre. At the end of Marseille One Design the GC32 Racing Tour champion will be decided.

In 2015 Marseille will also be the venue for an early season training regatta both for teams and race management, a ‘Pre-Event’ to be held over 16-19 April.

Didier Réault, Deputy Mayor of Marseille in charge of maritime affairs, commented: “The Marseille One Design 2014 showcased the extraordinary progress that has been made in sailing via your amazing GC32s. On behalf of the City, I am delighted that your class association has chosen to host its first gathering of the season at the Roucas Blanc Nautical Arena in April 2015. I’m also especially thrilled that you’ll once again round off your European tour in our harbour, within the context of the Marseille One Design 2015. In fact, we’re imagining that at the end of this final race in September, some of your crews might winter and train in Marseille as they wait for the warm-up sessions to kick off on our waters once again in the spring of 2016.”

The standard format for each event will be to run between six and eight races each day. However PRO David Campbell-James is being permitted some flexibility with the race schedule to include speed trials, long distance races and other formats at his discretion. As always there will be an opportunity for VIPs, journalists and corporate guests to sail on board the GC32 foiling cats during racing as a ‘sixth man’, provided conditions permit this.

GC32 Class Manager, Christian Peer concludes: “In the name of everyone involved in this Class, I would like to thank the organisers for their support and trust. The 2015 schedule is covering great sailing markets and most of our teams next year will sail once in their home waters. We thank Laurent Lenne for his support and look forward to seeing new teams coming to join us for 2015. All in all we are very happy with the current situation.”

A minimum of six to eight teams will compete in all the events with new participants already signed from across Europe and the USA in addition to GC32 founder Laurent Lenne’s SPAX Solutions team and Marwin Sailing Team of Swiss Olympic Star sailor Flavio Marazzi. Details of the new teams will be announced over the next weeks.

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Keeping a Good Watch

Posted on 24 October 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source:RMSR] Peter Dimech, Principal Race Officer and Race Chair spoke about the storm that raged through the fleet. “The remaining yachts racing in the Rolex Middle Sea Race are expected to arrive at the Royal Malta Yacht Club by today and tomorrow. Whilst the wind speed has decreased, the sea state is still significant and we are keeping a close watch on the yachts still at sea. Before the start of the race, every yacht was inspected to make sure that they were in compliance with the special regulations for the race. During the storm, that safety equipment becomes a vital part of safety on board. In general, the fleet has showed excellent seamanship in difficult conditions, probably the biggest lesson we have learnt is that communication with yachts is very important and the tracker has been invaluable in that respect.”
Whilst there are still yachts racing, the class winners for the 35th Rolex Middle Sea Race have all been decided.

DMITRY SAMOHKHIN'S PETITE FLAMME (RUS) ENTERING MARSAMXETT HARBOUR TO CROSS THE FINISH LINE. Photo By: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo

DMITRY SAMOHKHIN’S PETITE FLAMME (RUS) ENTERING MARSAMXETT HARBOUR TO CROSS THE FINISH LINE. Photo By: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo

Line Honours Winner

Skipper Jochen Schumann, Maxi 100, Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) “We would have come sooner if we could!” Joked Jochen Schumann, enjoying a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine, at the Royal Malta Yacht Club. “In a special way, light airs racing is also very difficult. The sail we used the most during was the wind seeker and using that to its full potential requires a huge amount of concentration from all of the crew on deck. We needed to keep alert because if we stop, the boats behind can see that on the tracker and can avoid the wind hole we have found ourselves in. Ran made a big gain at Pantelleria, we stopped for a while and they caught us up, that is very difficult to defend against, but in general if we think we are going to park up, we would choose a place where the competition would need to pass close to us, to negate that effect.”

For the boats still racing, it looks like they will have a lot of wind over the next few days, they don’t really need my advice. I am sure they are really prepared and so is their equipment they are all good sailors but the race could be quite tough for them.”

Winner IRC 1

Niklas Zennstrom, JV72, RAN V (SWE)

“All you can do is try to win your class and hope that the weather is in your favour” commented Niklas Zennstrom. “As always, Team Ran prepared the boat and raced to a very high standard, so we can be happy with our performance. I would like to thank the Royal Malta Yacht Club, for organising the race and especially coming out to the boat with cold beer and warm greetings at the end of a long race.”

Winner IRC 2

Paolo Semeraro, Neo 400, Neo Bank Sails (ITA)

“It was a tough race from Favignana, especially for a small boat of just 40 feet” commented Paolo Semeraro. “We had a lot of wind, from Favignana but it was manageable and between Pantelleria and Lampedusa we were often sailing at over 20 knots of boat speed. After Lampedusa the first two hours were okay but after that we had something like 45 knots of wind on the beam and waves of six metres. We finished with two reefs in the main and a storm jib but it was still too much sail area up – the Comino Channel was really hard, maybe 50 knots at times. My crew is very good and we are proud to see that we were up with the bigger boats in real time, not just corrected, which was incredible.

This is a new boat, launched in February and I built it in Bari, this is the first one – the prototype. I think that offshore racing in Italy is on the increase because ultimately you spend less days on the shore and more days on the water. When you go windward – leeward racing in a regatta, you have to stay five days in the hotel and feed and accommodate ten people and often at regattas you lose days racing because of too much or too little wind. Inshore, the amount of money for the hours of sailing is not a good proportion. In a race like this, you get a full five days sailing and long distance racing is becoming more popular in Italy because of this.”

Winner IRC 3

Josef Schultheis Xp-44, XP-ACT Bank Sails

XP-ACT is a local boat and I live in Malta, this is the biggest event of our calendar, we wait all year for the race. XP-ACT has been on the podium for the last three years, no other boat has done that. I am very proud to win this race with this crew on board. In conditions from no wind to 47 knots with huge waves, with the right crew on board you can achieve anything. It was satisfying to manage the boat in such conditions. The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a yacht race that any boat can win, the fast professional yachts don’t just disappear in their own weather system. In this race all of the boats have different wind systems so it is a more level playing field. Performing well is always a combination of the crew, the sails and the boat and 22.9 knots is the fastest we could go with two bedrooms and two bathrooms!

ARTIE (MLT) CREW, WINNERS OF THE ROLEX MIDDLE SEA RACE 2014. Photo By: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo

ARTIE (MLT) CREW, WINNERS OF THE ROLEX MIDDLE SEA RACE 2014. Photo By: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo

Winner IRC 4

Lee Satariano, J/122, Artie (MLT)

Lee Satariano was asked before the race if the record entry of 122 yachts and the fact that Artie is a J/122 was an omen? “I am not superstitious anymore!” commented Lee just after stepping ashore. “It was a very very tough race. The crew have worked around the clock from day one and the race didn’t start well for us but during day two we started to get our the shifts right and co-skippers Sebastian and Christian Ripard did a great job on the tactics and the end result was a series of correct decision that put us in a good position before the storm arrived. As always, having a good crew on board allows you to give the effort an extra push, with a good boat and an excellent crew are intention at the start was to win and we hope we have achieved that.”

Winner IRC 5 and Double Handed (ITA)

Azuree 33, Pierpaolo Ballerini and Stig Westergaard

Azuree, Stig Westergaard two times winner of the Finn gold cup, multiple Soling medallist and two round the world races teamed up with boat builder and designer Pierpaolo Ballerini for the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Azuree won the double handed class and took the win in IRC 5 by just under six minutes from Isidoro Santececca’s JOD 35, Cuor di Leone.

“On the first night we were caught in a fishing net, I don’t like swimming in the dark but was round the keel the propeller everywhere, it cost us nearly two hours. When the storm arrived, we didn’t know that it would be so strong, we thought it would be sailable and we were doing well in the race but as the smallest boat in the race, we got washed away big time. For us it was a case of stay in one piece during the night and make sure we make breakfast. Paolo and I are a match made in heaven for Double Handed, we were able to win our class and fourth overall because we are a combination of a sailor and a seaman. Any practical issue on board, Paolo took care of including all of the sail changes and I focused on driving the boat. Even in the heavy weather, the relationship didn’t change. Paolo was struggling with sea sickness but Paolo showed exceptional stamina. He was still up on the foredeck, sea sick and changing sails in 40 knots, that takes tremendous courage.”

The prize giving ceremony for the Rolex Middle Sea Race will take place on Saturday 25th October at the Republic Hall, Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta at 12:00pm. Attendance is by invitation only.

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Artie’s Heroic Return

Posted on 23 October 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source:RMSR] After probably the toughest 24 hours in the 46 year history of the race, Lee Satariano’s Maltese J/122, Artie finished the Rolex Middle Sea Race on Thursday 23 October 2014 at 00h 45m 5s in an elapsed time of 4Days 13hours 35mins and 05secs.

Artie was the first Maltese boat to finish the race and is the provisional winner of IRC 4 and ORC4. 72 yachts are still racing, however Artie’s corrected time, which decides the overall winner is unlikely to be beaten by any of the remaining competitors.

Lee Satariano was asked before the race if the record entry of 122 yachts and the fact that Artie is a J/122 was an omen? “I am not superstitious anymore!” commented Lee just after stepping ashore. “It was a very very tough race. The crew have worked around the clock from day one and the race didn’t start well for us but during day two we started to get our the shifts right and co-skippers Sebastian and Christian Ripard did a great job on the tactics and the end result was a series of correct decision that put us in a good position before the storm arrived. As always, having a good crew on board allows you to give the effort an extra push, with a good boat and an excellent crew are intention at the start was to win and we hope we have achieved that.”

Christian Ripard has competed in numerous offshore classics including the infamous Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, often with many of the Artie crew. – “The sea was big, it was very windy, we don’t know exactly how windy because the windex at the top of the rig blew off! – yes this race is up there with the toughest Hobarts I have done. In fact we were saying on board ‘when was the last time we saw a sea like this?’ and I had to say it was during a windy Sydney Hobart but to have those conditions for over 24 hours is very rare, almost exceptional. You are always learning in this game and the experience showed me that it is good to go with a bloody good crew! Truly, it is the only way you can sail the boat like we did. If you don’t have a good crew, you just won’t get through it or you will break things and when it comes down to it – a good crew is what you need and we have done a lot of miles together on Artie, they are my nephews, my friends and we have been together for thousands of miles at sea.”

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Line Honours for Esimit Europa 2, big breeze for others

Posted on 22 October 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source:RMSR] Last night, the 100ft canting keel Maxi, Esimit Europa 2, skippered by Jochen Schumann, was outside record pace for the course but this is the fourth time Esimit Europa 2 has taken Line Honours for the Rolex Middle Sea Race and that has never been achieved before. Royal Malta Yacht Club Commodore, Godwin Zammit, presented Esimit Europa 2 with their fourth line honours flag.

DAY 5 AM UPDATE 09:00 CET: The expected frontal system arrived around Midnight last night at the northwest corner of the course. Reports of storm force winds and big seas have been received by the Race Committee and 17 yachts had officially retired from the race by 11:00 CET on Wednesday 22 October.

The Race Committee has received no reports of any injuries to crew from the fleet. Officially retired from the Rolex Middle Sea Race: GYR Scarlet Oyster, Alcor V, Intuition Kabestan, Varuna, Walle G, Gordons, Lady Ruth ACR, Il Moro di Venezia XXVII, Unica, El Stan, Durlindana3, Ton Ton Kabestan, Salana, Mascalzone Latino, Magic Dragon, Little Emily, Gaetana and Zenhea Takesha.

The yachts still racing cracked sheets last night, hitting the turbo, flying downwind at incredible speeds. It will be a blast on board, surfing down waves with the salt spray hissing at the rail and warm water breaking over the bows and cascading down the deck. This speed comes with a price, if the boat loses control or accelerates into the waves too fast, the loads involved can be too much resulting in damage. The saying; ‘To finish first, first you must finish.’ will be very much the mantra.

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