Monthly Archives: October 2014

Who might win the 10th Route du Rhum?


Aneo Jean-Marie Liot

All photos c Jean-Marie Liot


Route du Rhum – St Malo to Guadeloupe



Line honours will go to one of the eight giant Ultimes but there are also victories to be gained in each of the four other classes. Here is a quick evaluation of the favourites at three days before La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.



The weather forecasts seem to promise a lot of fast reaching and downwind sailing and so it is hard to look past the three biggest multihulls, Spindrift 2 (Yann Guichard), Banque Populaire VII (Loïck Peyron) and Sodebo Ultime (Thomas Coville) and to a lesser degree Sport Idec (Francois Joyon) which are all capable of cruising speeds of more than 30kts. But speed and power are not everything, Guichard and Peyron must be able to manage their craft for long periods with no errors. It is most likely that there will be two races within this class not least between the three former MOD70s Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse), Musandam-Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet) and the newest Paprec Recyclage (Yann Elies).


Multi50 – four in the frame

It is the quartet of latest generation boats which seems to have the best chance naturally, fighting over the three podium places. Erwan Le Roux (FenêtréA Cardinal), Yves Le Blévec (Actual), Loic Fequet (Maitre Jacques) are the great adversaries in the Multi50 class. To this this trio, add Lalou Roucayrol a solo specialist (2nd in 2010 in the same category and 3rd 2002 ORMA), aboard a boat designed and built by him, Arkema Aquitaine, the most recent fleet.



IMOCA Macif jml

IMOCA 60 Macif – Photo c Jean-Marie Liot

IMOCA Open 60

There are two standouts, Vincent Riou (PRB) and François Gabart (Macif). Both have shown an edge during training and their boats are slightly quicker. Who will win between the two of them is the real question. Gabart showed exceptional consistent speed during his Vendée Globe win and may prevail in his first ever Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, just as he triumphed at his first tilt in the legendary solo race non stop around the world.

Jérémie Beyou (Maitre CoQ) rides a wave of confidence after his third victory in La Solitaire du Figaro-Eric Bompard cachemire and he is renowned for his competitiveness. Marc Guillemot (Safran) brings experience and a very longstanding intimate knowledge of his boat.


Class40: Ten or a dozen of the 43 strong fleet can win

There are at least ten skippers capable of winning, armed with competitive good boats and the fight is very likely to go to the finish line. With 43 starters, the Class40 may be the place for surprises though. But there are clear favourites on paper: Sébastien Rogues (GDF Suez) won everything last season aboard his Mach40 (Manuard design); double winner of La Solitaire, Nicolas Troussel was second on the Route du Rhum in 2010 (Credit Mutuel de Bretagne) and the very experienced Halvard Mabire (Campagne de France) has an exciting brand new Pogo. Kito de Pavant (Otio Bastide-Medical) may be a newcomer to the class but he is a great solo sailor and has trained a lot this summer.

The dark horse is very much Barcelona’s Catalan Alex Pella whose boat, Tales 2, proved very fast in last year’s Transat Jacques Vabre in which he finished second with Pablo Santurde. His is the only Botin design in the fleet but he has not raced in Class 40 since 2013’s Transatlantic to Itajai, Brasil, electing instead to train from Santander. Yannick Bestaven has a very quick new Verdier design (Le Conservateur), but the boat is almost fresh from the builders.


Rhum Class – A cocktail of designs

Which boat will win into the West Indies: a monohull or a multihull? It would be a dream to see either of the two small original yellow trimarans (Acapella / Charlie Capelle and Berto / Groupe Jean Paul Froc) do well or the two big black cigars (Kriter V of Benjamin Hardouin or Cap a Cap Location of Wilfrid Clerton).

Monohulls? Well, all eyes are on the defending champion, the Italian Andrea Mura (Vento di Sardegna) who has completely updated his Felci 50 footer to take try and pace the speeds of the 60 footer of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.In the Mulitihulls, Anne Caseneuve her Multi 50 Aneo should win.


To follow the race see:


By Route du Rhum media




Skippers from 8 nations set for La Route du Rhum



RdR St Malo ac

The fleet on the docks at St Malo – Photo © Alexis Courcoux



Route du Rhum – St Malo to Guadeloupe



As might be expected for a country for which solo ocean racing is a national passion – witness the huge crowds on the Saint Malo docksides today enjoying warm Indian summer sunshine – the vast majority of the entries for the La Route du Rhum – destination Guadeloupe are from France. But the record 91 strong field is peppered with solo skippers from eight other nations, nine men and two women hailing from Italy, Great Britain, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Belgium and Finland. In fact several of them rank as serious podium contenders in their respective classes.

Italian Alessandro di Benedetto – 11th in the last Vendée Globe and ninth in the 2013 Transat Jacques Vabre – is the only non French skipper in the IMOCA Open 60 Class and his racing challenge improves with every big race even if he considers his older boat is 30 per cent less powerful than the most recent generation of boats racing.

It is in Class 40 and the Rhum Class that most of the international skippers are entered. In Class 40 Conrad Humphreys (GBR) – 7th in the Vendée Globe 2004-5 – returns to the race with Cat Phones Built for it, the Akilaria RC3 which was previously Caterham.

Miranda Merron (GBR) races the well travelled, well proven Pogo S2 Campagne de France. Both will be looking to match the record of Phil Sharp who still ranks as the only British skipper to win Class 40 in the Route du Rhum, triumphing in 2006 when compatriot Ian Munslow was third.

Philippa Hutton-Squire is Anglo-South African and takes on La Route du Rhum for the first time, racing a Rogers Class 40. From Belgium Michel Kleinjans will take the start of his second La Route du Rhum – he won the Rhum class with a 45 foot mono in the 2006 edition. This time he sails one of the Farr designed Kiwi 40 FCs.

Italy’s Giancarlo Pedote (ITA) races his Tyker 40 Fantastica. Second on the 2013 Mini Transat, it is also Pedote’s first bit solo ocean race in Class 40. Barcelona, Spain’s Alex Pella is reckoned to be a strong podium contender with the very fast Botin designed Tales 2. He finished second on the last Transat Jacques Vabre with Pablo Santurde despite having had to pit stop in Northern Spain to repair their rudder. Pella has two podium places to his credit from his days in the Mini and finished fourth on the last Barcelona World Race with Pepe Ribes.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is very much ‘the Don’ not just of this edition of La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe but even of solo ocean sailing itself, returning for his second Route du Rhum at the age of 75. The legendary soloist was the first sailor ever to complete a solo non stop circumnavigation between 1968 and 1969. Three times Yachtsman of the Year his last major solo ocean race was in 2007 when he completed the Velux 5 Oceans round the world race. And he is no stranger to Saint Malo and the Route du Rhum having competed in the second edition of the race finishing 16th in his Sea Falcon, Olympus III, one day and three places higher than a young Loïc Peyron.

Don’t ask Knox-Johnston if he feels fit enough to race an Open 60 flat out or he is likely to challenge you physically:

“In my head, I’m 45,” replies the most famous of British sailors. He is loving the return to the fun, the camaraderie and the excitement, anticipating the race: “The atmosphere here is great,” he says smiling at the crowd. “My boat is almost ready, just a few things on the rig and then I’m ready to go.” His goal in the race “To the tip of Brittany, I will be very careful. It will be a tricky part, with lots of traffic. But then I think I will attack a little!”

For Knox Johnston the race is very much a known quantity, but for Finn Ari Huusela on his 40-foot monohull (Neste Oil) on his first big ocean race simply getting to the other side represents a victory in itself. Ricardo Diniz ( is the first Portuguese in all history of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe to run the course.

And Italy’s Andrea Mura (ITA) is back to defend the Rhum class title he won in 2010 on the 50 footer Vento di Sardegna. He is looking to step up to the IMOCA Open 60 Class in the next Vendée Globe.



Alessandro di Benedetto (IMOCA – Team Plastique – AFM Telethon)
“This is my first Route du Rhum and it’s magic for me. I am happy to be going back to Guadeloupe in because that is where I raced to when I crossed the Atlantic in 2002 on the Hobie Cat I love the Creole people. My goal is to just push the boat to 100%. I know that the new boats are 35-40% faster than me, but I want to do better and share my race with everyone including the kids of the AFM Telethon.”

Giancarlo Pedote (Class40-Fantastica)
“This is an incredible opportunity for me to be in Saint-Malo to race in this Route du Rhum. A few months ago I did not think it possible that I would be here. Then an Lanfranco Cirillo lent me the boat. Of course it is still a race to be finished prepping the boat in the time but I’m really happy to be here when it only takes place every four years. I don’t expect too much want to see what I can do after several years of the Mini 6.50.”

Philippa Hutton Squire (Class40 – Swish)
“After the last Normandy Channel Race, the boat owner Roderick Knowles asked me to take the keys to enter this race: an opportunity that just can not be refused! I have a great team around me to support me in my late preparation. I do not have specific concerns about the race to the extent that I have already completed a round the world race aboard a Class 40 at the Global Ocean Race (a race of nine months and 30,000 miles traveled, ed.) I know I feel very lonely at sea. I will do my best to finish. It is important to me because it is the first time a South African sailor takes on a race like this.”

Ari Huusela (Rhum – Ariel)
“I have some misgivings about the weather, but I feel good. This is the first victory for me to be here, it took me to work like crazy for a year and a half to finally make sure I could here here. Now I hope to get to the finish in Pointe-à-Pitre to become the first Finnish sailor to finish the Rhum. In Finland, many newspapers, radio stations are already following me and the awareness of this race builds all the time.”


By Route du Rhum,



GC32 Racing Tour ready for take off in 2015


GC32 Class pic sdb

Photo c Sander van der Borche



Racing for the GC32 foiling catamarans will be taken to a new level in 2015, when at least seven boats will compete on a five event European circuit, managed by a new organisation with racing run by world class officials.

“Now that we have established the class and it is growing, it is time to bring on additional people with specific areas of expertise,” says Laurent Lenne, the Amsterdam-based French businessman, who conceived the GC32 foiling catamaran and its racing circuit.

“Take the race management: like the America’s Cup, this is a new way of racing, and you need to have continuity to provide good quality racing and to maintain safety. For example if we had different race management at each event, with 10-12 boats going 35 knots, then we would run into safety issues. So we are trying to tick all the boxes, to create stability, so that when new owners come in, they have a good feeling about what they are getting into.”

To run the newly rechristened GC32 Racing Tour, a Class Manager was appointed earlier this year in Christian Peer, who runs the sports marketing agency evcom GmbH in Austria. Prior to being employed by the GC32 Racing Tour, Peer was Event Content and Schedule Manager and Head of AC Event TV for the 34th America’s Cup and worked on all different fields for the 33rd AC and the Louis Vuitton Trophy in 2010. He has also been a project manager for the RC44 Austria Cup and RC44 Cup Miami and worked for big European sailing events such as Kiel Week and Traunsee Week. Besides sailing, his agency is involved in sport sponsoring in other sports including handball, ice hockey and basketball.

“The last year has shown the potential of the GC32 class, but now it is up to all of us to take it to the next level. Our class management team for next year consist of experts in every field, from race management, through event operations to media and video production, however we are sure that the biggest strength of this class will be the owners. There is no doubt about this class reaching a high level of racing, but on shore we want to build a new and different community for owners and foiling enthusiasts.”

The intention is for the GC32 Racing Tour to be distinctly different from other catamaran circuits such as the M32s and Extreme Sailing Series.

In particular, as racing will be for ultra-high performance foiling catamarans, very short stadium sailing courses are not appropriate. While efforts will be made to lay marks close to shore, courses will be longer with the emphasis placed upon maintaining a high standard of racing.

David Campbell-James, an experienced Principal Race Officer (PRO) and former Olympic Tornado sailor, will handle the race management. Campbell-James is currently Class Race Officer for the Olympic 49ers and runs major championships for leading dinghy classes as such as the Optimists, Cadets, Lasers and RS:Xes, plus match racing events, notably the Argo Group Gold Cup.

“I am delighted to be invited to be PRO for the new GC32 circuit and I am really looking forward to a great year of competition in these truly spectacular catamarans,” said Campbell-James. He will be supported by France’s Anne Mallédant-Vadré, who was PRO for the GC32s at the Marseille One Design in September.

Similarly Portugal’s Miguel Allen has been appointed Chief Umpire for the GC32 Racing Tour. Allen holds this role with the 52 Super Series and is part of the umpire team for the RC44s, Alpari World Match Racing Tour and Volvo Ocean Race. But crucially, he holds previous experience of foiling catamaran racing, having been one of the umpires for the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco.

While sponsored boats will and already have been competing in the class, the majority of GC32s are privately owned. In this respect Christian Peer sees the GC32s being in the middle ground between Melges 32/RC44 and fully commercial circuits like the Extreme Sailing Series: “We are trying to create a big family here, and members should have a great time doing what they love to do, offering a great platform for sponsors, media and friends and to showcase the new way of sailing. It will be the owners who define the road we are taking, but we will also keep an eye on the commercial side of it. The core goal however is to be a stand-alone operation that doesn’t necessarily need sponsors to finance all the events, so we can guarantee a long lifetime of the project.”

To this end a GC32 Class Association has been set-up to ensure that owner’s interests are best represented. President of this is Swiss former Olympic Star sailor Flavio Marazzi, skipper of Armin Strom Sailing Team. Marazzi explains: “If people invest in a boat, they want to be involved – maybe they will never change anything, but they want to be able to, whether it is event dates or venues, so that all the owners agree.”

Marazzi anticipates that local fleets of GC32s will grow around the world and foresees circuits developing in Europe, the USA and, over the northern hemisphere winter, in Australia. Laurent Lenne agrees: “Continental racing is something we want – it is very good for owners, because they don’t want to go to Asia if they don’t live there- it is too far away and takes too much time.

“Right now Europe is set up for next year and our idea is to have a circuit going in the USA, maybe by the end of 2015. After that I think it would be good to have a circuit in Australia/Asia because we are getting more and more requests from there.”

The 2015 Europe venues and new teams for the 2015 GC32 Racing Tour will be announced in due course. In the meantime three GC32s will be practicing, tuning up and racing in Miami and Key West from the beginning of November until mid-January.


By GC32 Class



Sand Flies versus Foiling Moths


SSCBC Sorrento

2015 Moth Worlds host club, SSCBC at Sorrento – Photo © Alex McKinnon




2015 McDougall + McConaghy Moth World Championship at Sorrento



The delightful Mornington Peninsula in the Australian State of Victoria is renowned for many items in the natural and culinary worlds. One thing not referred to all that often are the sand or march flies that occupy the area during the Southern Hemisphere Summer. Most travellers know Australia for flies, but the sand fly is larger and bites. Good thing then that they are far slower and really easy to swat on your arm or leg. However, from January 9 to 16, 2015 another species all together are set to fly in. They are the International Foiling Moths and unlike the sand fly, they are really, really quick.

Sailing’s equivalent of the luge or the squirrel suit weigh just 26kg, fly at about one metre above the water and travel at around 60km/h.

Based out of the iconic Sorrento Sailing and Couta Boat Club, the 2015 McDougall + McConaghy Moth World Championship will be sailed on the Southern stretches of Melbourne’s Port Phillip. It is a relatively shallow, but expansive 1950km2 bay that holds 25km3 of water and has already been the location that hosted the 2005 Moth World Championships and also similarly for other classes like Etchells, Dragons and OK Dinghies.

At that time of year, the breeze tends to blow from either the South to Sou’west or alternatively the North and be 10-25knots, which is more than enough to make it an extremely exciting affair for these speed demons. If it is from the Southern quadrant, then the seas will be mostly flat and these craft will literally take off. Should a decent Northerly blow in, then the seaway will build quickly and it will add to the overall excitement and spectacle of it all, just as smartly.

Now there are two men of note who are very much looking forward to the 2015 Moth Worlds. One is indelibly linked to the class and this championship, for his name appears in the sponsors’ title role and he’s racing in it. The other is a former, two-time Foiling Moth World Champion, and both call Melbourne home.

Andrew ‘A-Mac’ McDougall is the man most responsible for taking the Moths on foils into the main game with Bladerider and then Mach2, well before the AC cats sailed above the water. A-Mac is sailing in the 2015 McDougall + McConaghy Moth World Championship.

“Definitely keen to see if I can get that elusive world title, but the body is creaking a lot these days, so I’m realistic as well. A top ten finish would make me very proud. I no longer have a serious speed advantage over the fleet, as they now all have the gear that I developed, so it is far more even out there now.”

“Sailing a Moth is not about being graceful, because there is just no mastering these beasts. If you’re worried about looking tragic, because it will happen, then choose something else!”

McDougall has just returned from coaching Emirates Team New Zealand and is now off to Lake Macquarie to conduct a training camp for Oracle Team USA. “The boats have become more stable through better design, but more adjustable as well. There a lot of nuances you have to know about and then how they match various condition sets. On-water adjustment of every control is really the norm now. It is the one area I can bring a lot to the table for these America’s Cup (AC) teams, as well as years of experience.”

“This will be by far the most contested World Championship we have ever had. So many AC and Olympic sailors are on their way to Sorrento. There are a lot of young guys in the fleet and they are much more agile than us experienced chaps. If it is a windy series it will suit the younger generation, whereas if is lighter it will favour the veteran crowd who will have a full suite of skills with all of those nuances we have just talked about. However, it can all be offset, just by missing one foiling tack, and you could find that you’ve blown your regatta right there!”

“The Moth is the only successful, open development class left because it so small. It is relatively cheap to use top-level technologies, as it does not place it in the hands of the world’s billionaires. However, no matter how much tech you have in the boat, you wont get a win from that alone. It is all about the user-friendliness of that technology and then how you sail it”, McDougall finished by saying.

Rohan Veal won the last Moth World Championship held on Port Phillip, back in 2005. It was held out of the Black Rock Yacht Club, further up the expansive track known locally as, The Bay. Veal commented,

“This was the first time we had a decent number of Moths up on foils. There were around 10 of us and the rest were low-riders. I had been at foiling since 2003 and had been practicing a lot over the Summer just prior to those championships. It must have worked, for I won every race in the series, which had not been done before in the Moth.”

“I do remember winning one race by 17 minutes (over another Moth legend, Simon Payne) in light winds, as I stayed up on the foils. I had been working so hard on getting my technique right. Port Phillip can get rough, which is really hard when you’re up on foils. Indeed one day was totally blown out. Come the last day of the regatta we had just four races in the bag and needed five for a series. Thankfully, another four were run on that final day in absolutely glamorous conditions.”

Veal went on to win the 2007 World Championship as well. This time it was on Italy’s stupendous, Lake Garda, and he did so in similarly spectacular fashion. “It was really difficult in 25-30kn and you felt out of control most of the time. Somehow I did not capsize in that particular race and lapped the second place getter. Back then it was all about control. Practice, practice, practice and manage that lift. When it is tough you have to remember that in order to finish first, first you have to finish. A-Mac could have won two (World Titles). He pushes so hard and damages his craft, which totally blows his regatta.”

“It will be a lot more protected from those Sou’westers at Sorrento. No, I am not dusting the boat off and racing, but I will be there! Rob Gough and Nathan Outteridge are good at getting their altitude correct. You have more controls in the boat now to manage it. Ride height adjusters reduce the risk downwind in big seas of having a major stack”, said Veal.

“The talent pool for this regatta is going to make it super competitive. It would have to be the most ever for any dinghy class – simply unreal. Just count the world titles these people have won in Moths and other classes. Glenn Ashby has 12 alone, plus two Olympic medals. There are easily 30 titles and 12 medals in the group and then there are America’s Cup stars like James Spithill and Tom Slingsby.”

When you look at the entry list it really is a bit like a dream team. There are likely to be six from Emirates Team New Zealand, the same number from Team oracle USA and Nathan Outteridge heads up a contingent from Artemis. The great Iain Percy, who at 100kg is a true heavyweight, is also set to be out there. “It is pretty physical, especially if you go down a lot and have to right it several times, but you keep learning and getting better”, Veal finished by saying.


Mothies BG tm

Bora Gulari – Photo c ThMartinez


As these two experts have already identified, some of the world’s greatest sailors are set to descend on Sorrento. They include superstars like reigning Moth World Champion and Olympic hero Nathan Outteridge, as well as luminaries like Bora Gulari and Glenn Ashby. There are also local young guns such as brothers Sam and Will Phillips, Harry Mighell and Sam England, who is part of a burgeoning female squadron amongst the fleet.

Before all the fun and spectacle there is the Victorian Moth Grand Prix on November 1 and then the Australian Championship from January 6 to 8.

Now if you’re thinking about foiling your Moth on waters used by many a class for their World Championship, then book in now via Where as if you are going to be in the area during January, make sure you check out sailing’s developmental class. Unlike the sand flies, you won’t have to worry about swatting the Moths, for they do a good enough job of that all on their own. The 2015 Moth World Championships are proudly presented by McDougall + McConaghy.

To be a part of the Social Media programme, join the conversation via #mothworlds15 or go and like

Enter Online at

Download the Notice of Race at


By John Curnow


Video wrap up of the EFG MothEuroCup 2014 Season


Moth Euro Cup1 mo


This year EFG sponsored the MothEuroCup. The Cup, with its six acts in six different countries, drew just under 100 participants from 12 countries this summer. Not only were the sailors allured by the beautiful venues, but also for the official prize money given to the top three sailors at each event. In total this season, the moth competitors were awarded just under Euro 14,000.


By Dani Rast


Over 30,000 took to the water for the first Bart’s Bash


Bart Bash summary



Final results show an amazing 30,717 participants took to the water, many for their first time, around the world, for the first ‘Bart’s Bash’ on 21 September 2014.

The sailing race was a fund raising event in memory of Andrew Simpson, the Olympic sailor who died in a training accident in May 2013.

Since race day the Bart’s Bash results team has been busy compiling and processing thousands of results and can now confirm that an incredible sixteen thousand, eight hundred and seventy (16,870) boats collectively sailed a staggering eighty seven million, seventy two thousand, seven hundred and sixty nine (87,072,769) metres, roughly the equivalent of sailing twice around the world.

The inaugural Bart’s Bash was a race run by sailing clubs around the world on behalf of the charity, the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation. Each sailing club sailed an individual Bart’s Bash race at their location. Race details were set locally by each club, but the course needed to be over 1km and sailed for more than 15 minutes.

Overall winners were; Hans Wallen sailing at Cape Crow Yacht Club in Sweden in a M32 Catamaran, Riccardo Macchiavello sailing at Circolo Nautico Rapallo in Italy in an Altura 1101 and Grant Piggott sailing at Weston Sailing Club in Great Britain in a Nacra 17.

For the final results table please visit


Initially organisers had hoped for fifty (50) clubs to sign up with two thousand (2000) participants in the UK. As the day drew closer it became apparent that clubs all over the world were using the opportunity to get as many people sailing as possible on the day.

Delta Lloyd open Dutch Championships recorded the highest numbers of boats sailing from the club at 233. In the UK Parkstone Yacht Club recorded a whopping one hundred and ninety four (194) boats on the water.

The Laser Standard dominated the dinghy class leader board, taking the top spot with one thousand six hundred and seventy seven (1,677) entries, Optimists were in second place with one thousand one hundred and seventy eight (1178) boats on the water and the Laser Radial took third with nine hundred and fifty three (953) boats.

Event Manager for Bart’s Bash, Tim Anderton said “At no point could we ever have expected over five hundred (500) clubs in over sixty (60) countries to embrace the idea of getting on the water, racing, having fun and celebrating everything Bart stood for. This has to be one of the largest sailing participation events in the world. We would like to thank all those who took part in the event and a special thank to the volunteers, over seven thousand of them, who made it possible.”


To view a video showing the highlights of the day see;

By Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation,



Going South


Volvo Ocean Race 2014 – 15 – Leg 1 Alicante to Cape Town



B&G Volvo Ocean Race Blog by Simon Conder



West was best!


We left the fleet a week ago just as they ran slap bang into the wall of the Doldrums. On the afternoon of the 21st October, the front row were lined up west to east, left to right; Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Team Brunel, Dongfeng Race Team, MAPFRE and Team Vestas Wind.

We’ve said several times before, but it bears repeating that traditional wisdom favours the west when entering the Doldrums, and so the smart money was always on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Brunel exiting first. And so it turned out.


The gate opens


The gate opened and Ian Walker and Bouwe Bekking’s boats shot out of it overnight on the 22/23rd October (all times are UTC). Behind them, the main pack now constituted Dongfeng Race Team, MAPFRE, Team Alvimedica and Team SCA – all still wallowing in Doldrums weather and playing cloud roulette.

The really interesting thing was the escape of Team Vestas Wind – up to third place and matching the speed of the lead pair. They were the most easterly boat going into the Doldrums – almost 150 miles away from the eventual leaders. Skipper Chris Nicholson and navigator Wouter Verbraak either sold their souls to the devil or played a blinder in the clouds. I can’t remember the last time I saw boats escape like this from both edges of the fleet – but then, this is the Doldrums and while you have to play the percentages, anything can happen.


Trade wind bliss


While it was blissful trade wind sailing for the front three, the rest of the pack struggled until later on the 23rd. By late afternoon the gaps were big: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing led the front-runner of the straggling pack, Dongfeng Race Team by 164nm – that was the real cost of the Chinese team’s broken rudder way back north of the Cape Verde Islands (read last week’s blog to find out why).

In all the talk of exiting the Doldrums, the other consideration that’s always mentioned is the lateral separation east to west. Once the boats get out into the south-east trade winds, they are all headed to the island of Fernando de Noronha (FdN), which they must leave to port. In theory, the further east a boat is positioned, the wider and faster the reaching angle in the south-east trades, and the faster it can go.


Team Vestas Wind separate


The huge separation between Team Vestas Wind and the two leaders gave us an opportunity to test this theory as they raced to FdN. The lateral separation east to west between Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Vestas Wind was 120nm and Ian Walker’s men had a 101.4nm lead over Chris Nicholson’s team.

It was now just before 2pm on 24 October, a little bit less than 24 hours later. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing was rounding FdN in first place to put the first points on the board, with Team Brunel just 18nm behind them. But look at the gap to Team Vestas Wind in third place, it’s down to just over 60nm. Chris Nicholson has gained 40nm in less than 24 hours because of his more easterly exit from the Doldrums. In fact, Nicholson has gained a third of a mile for each and every mile that his boat was positioned to the east of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

Just for the record and the nerds – Ian Walker has been here before, he pulled the same move in 2008-09 when Green Dragon was the most westerly boat into the Doldrums and led at FdN. The difference was that back then, his boat was a lot slower than most of the others, and they couldn’t hold it to Cape Town…


No time to Samba


The leaders might have rounded FdN and got a brief whiff of a Brazilian paradise, but this leg ends in South Africa. To get there, they have to deal with the St Helena High. Sunday morning and the teams have a massive headache on their hands and it’s got nothing to do with Saturday night.

The St Helena High stretches across most of the South Atlantic. The distinct area of high pressure is visible both through the loop of the single isobar, and the anti-clockwise flow of the wind around it (it goes the other way in the Southern Hemisphere). Oh yes… and the complete absence of any wind in the middle.

It’s this massive hole in the wind that dominates the strategy from FdN to Cape Town. The traditional route is to head south down the coast of Brazil, skirting the edge of the high and staying in that north to north-easterly flow down the left-hand edge.

Eventually, the boats will get far enough south that they will be within reach of a low pressure system moving from west to east. They will pick up the new fresh breeze from the low and – if they get the breaks and do it right – they can ride that wind all the way to Cape Town.


The road to hell


So the theory goes – it’s never as simple as that in practice. Fast forward another day to midday on the 27th October, Monday lunchtime and  the leading three boats – Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Team Brunel and Team Vestas Wind – have all had to gybe.

The reason was that as they sailed south they were moving relative to the centre of the high pressure, and going from a north-easterly breeze to a northerly wind. If they had continued on port gybe, the slowly shifting wind would have forced them straight into the centre of the high pressure. On the road to hell, game over. So the leaders gybed, while the rest of the fleet were still on the good shift and hammering into them. Result – we had some serious compression and the stress-o-meter went into the red.


A decisive moment?


The next 24 hours were all spent in the red zone – it was pick-a-lane time once again. All seven boats played the wind shifts in their efforts to get south, and avoid getting sucked into the centre of the high pressure and ending up parked.

Opinions clearly diverged aboard the leading three boats about how close they can fly to the centre. Working the western side really hard is Team Vestas Wind, with Team Brunel over on the eastern flank – almost two hundred miles to the east! Now that’s what I call leverage…Meanwhile, Mr conservative, Ian Walker is back to playing the fleet down the middle aboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

In the second row, Team Alvimedica and Dongfeng Race Team are backing Walker’s judgement and following his line. While in the third row, Team SCA and MAPFRE are both looking to the west to get them out of the cheap seats.


What happens next?

A very good question this week…. and I’ll see you back here next Tuesday to find out.

Oh, all right. I’ll give it a stab.

A small low pressure is spinning up just off the coast of Argentina and heading east from the mouth of the River Plate. It’s going to push the high pressure east with it, creating a band of wind between the two opposing pressure centres (shown on this chart). It’s this band of wind that will provide an escape route to the south and into the path of a much bigger low pressure that will allow them to finally head east.

It’s all going to be about the timing and the speed of passage of the low. The new, stronger breeze will come from the west, that will give the initial advantage to Team Vestas Wind and they should start to close the gap. Aboard Team Brunel, they are relying on the low pressure moving faster than Team Vestas Wind, so the new breeze gets to them before the chasing boats do. Once they are in the same wind, they should hold any lead that they still have as everyone heads south-east.

I think the leading pack will compress again, but I think that fast-moving low means that Team Brunel will still hang onto the #1 spot, chased by the Emirates, and then Team Vestas Wind. And none of that may count for a hill of beans in the long run, as the forecast shows high pressure locked down over Cape Town for the foreseeable future. There’s no simple route into the finish. This one is a long way from over.


By Simon Conder,



Berntsson joins sailing’s elite


AGC Final ca

Johnie Berntsson winning the 2014 Argo Group Gold Cup © Charles Anderson / AGGC



Argo Gold Cup in Hamilton, Bermuda



Johnie Berntsson and his Stena Sailing Team followed the world’s top sailors such as Russell Coutts, Peter Gilmour, Ben Ainslie and Chris Dickson in becoming a two time victor of the Argo Group Gold Cup, the sixth stage of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. The 42-year-old Swede claimed the title 3-1 over Switzerland’s Eric Monnin in perfect conditions on Bermuda’s Hamilton Harbour with 11 knots of northwest wind and the morning’s cloud cover giving way to glorious sunshine.

The first two races were close featuring lead changes despite big splits between the competitors across the race course. In the first race Berntsson sneaked ahead of the Swiss team coming into the weather mark for the first time and hung on to the lead from there, despite Monnin continually nipping at his heels. In the second Berntsson led Monnin down the run, eventually taking the Swiss team well beyond the leeward gate before gybing back with the advantage. Monnin kept it close, but was unable get in front.

For race three, at match point for Berntsson, Monnin narrowly won a tacking duel going into the top mark to sneak inside Berntsson. After big splits down the run and again up the second beat, when the two boats converged coming into the top mark Monnin had extended and maintained his lead to the finish.

The fourth race saw the most lead changes with Berntsson ahead out of the start, Monnin pulling in front by the top mark, Berntsson then rolling the Swiss on the run…. However the decisive moment came towards the end of the second beat when Monnin picked up a penalty for tacking too close.

3-1 to Berntsson, who with his crew of tactician Robert Skarp, Bjorn Lundgren, Oscar Angervall, picked up the winner’s King Edward VII Gold Cup as well as the US$50,000 prize for first place.

“Winning this is so extraordinary,” commented a jubilant Berntsson after his victor’s dip in Hamilton Harbour. “We have done it once, we never thought we could do it twice. We are so happy that we have been so successful this week.” Berntsson previously won here in 2008. “This and the Congressional Cup are the two top victories we have.”

Of his Swiss opponent, Berntsson said: “We were never safe – the races we won, they were so close behind we had to fight really hard. Thanks to Robert, Bjorn and Oscar, who drove the boat fast and picked the right shifts allowing us to come back when we were behind, which were really crucial to winning.”

Explaining the big splits, the winning skipper explained: “The wind was not shifty – it was more puffy, so it was crucial to find the best spot and with these boats if you tack too much, you lose speed. I think the corners were better than the middle of the course, so if one of the teams chose one side you had to choose the other one if you wanted to get in front.”

Runner-up Eric Monnin praised Berntsson. “Congratulations to Johnie and the whole team – they did an excellent job. We just tried to find somewhere to squeeze in, which we could sometimes, sbut in the end they were stronger than us. We made some little mistakes, but honestly speaking Johnie had a great race throughout.”


Semi Final surprises

On Sunday morning there was upset for the Alpari World Match Tour frontrunners when both Ian Williams’ GAC Pindar team and Taylor Canfield’s US One were knocked out in the Semi Finals. These races were held in a light northerly breeze blowing off downtown Hamilton, making for tricky, shifty winds on the race course.

Williams had picked Monnin to race in the Semi Final, leaving Canfield to line up against Berntsson. Williams, at this point unbeaten throughout this Argo Group Gold Cup, got off to a good start winning the first match, however Monnin went on to claim the next three.

The start of the penultimate race was particularly disappointing for Williams, as he described it: “We had him [Monnin] put away and we just got hooked and were a second over the start line with a penalty when we should have led comfortably off the line. He did a nice job, he did one tack and one gybe on each run and picked the left side and got it right. It was very hard to attack him from there.” The

Berntsson v Canfield Semi Final went the full distance and then wasn’t decided until the final run when Berntsson rolled Canfield. Canfield gave his take on this: “Johnie tried to roll us. We had a piece of him as we luffed up. By not coming up as well he was able to get over the top of us and lead down to the leeward mark. If he had gone up with us, we would have been in better shape and he wouldn’t have had as big of a lead or have even have gotten the lead. But the umpires saw it differently.”

In terms of the top of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour’s overall scoreboard, the outcome of the Argo Group Gold Cup makes no difference, with Williams still holding a six point lead over Canfield going into the final event of the season, the Monsoon Cup. However by finishing fifth here, Bjorn Hansen has moved to within seven points of third placed Mathieu Richard.




Eric Monnin and Johnie Berntsson in the Finals of Argo Group Gold Cup © Charles Anderson / AGGC



Semi Finals

Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team bt Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 3-2

Eric Monnin (SUI) Swiss Match Race Team bt Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 3-1


Petit Final

Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One bt Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 2-1



Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team bt Eric Monnin (SUI) Swiss Match Race Team 3-1



2014 Leaderboard Standings after Stage 6

1 Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 94pts

2 Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 88pts

3 Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 76pts

4 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team 69pts

5 Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 58pts

6 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 56pts

7 David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 39pts

8 Eric Monnin (SUI) Swiss Match Race Team 32pts


By Alpari World Match Race Tour



Light air drama decides semi-finals places


© Charles Anderson/ RBYC

Photos © Charles Anderson / AGGC


Argo Group Gold Cup – Quarter Finals in Bermuda



The 2014 Argo Group Gold Cup Quarter Finals were completed Saturday morning and the Semi Finals, Petite Finals and Finals will all be sailed on Sunday. Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar and Eric Monnin (SWI) Swiss Match Racing Team came through the quarters with 3-0 scores. Williams, the Alpari World Match Racing Tour leader at 12-0 is undefeated in all his races.

Racing in the Quarter Finals was postponed when what little wind there was, dropped away completely. Sunday will be starting one hour earlier, at 8am in Bermuda.

The Quarter Finals pitted Williams against Marek Stanczyk (POL) Henri Lloyd Rainmaker Racing, Taylor Canfield US One against Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team, Monnin against Pierre Morvan (FRA) Vannes Aggio Sailing Team, and an all-Swedish pairing of Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team against Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team.

The Quarter Finals were a first to 3-point knockout. The Four winners move on to the Semi Finals and four will go to the Consolation Round to decide places 5-8.


Quarter Final Results:

Ian Williams 3 – Marek Stanczyk 0
Taylor Canfield 3 – Steffan Lindberg 1
Eric Monnin 3 – Pierre Morvan 0
Johnie Berntsson 3 – Bjorn Hansen 2



AGC QF finals ca



Ian Williams, as the skipper with the best score in the Qualifying Round, got to pick his poison in the Semis. He has chosen to race Monnin leaving Canfield and Berntsson as the other pair. Williams defeated Monnin to win the Gold Cup in 2006, while Canfield defeated Berntsson to take the Cup in 2012. Berntsson won the Gold Cup in 2008. Is this Eric Monnin’s time to shine? He has certainly been on his game all week.

Williams and Canfield have met in the Finals of the last two Tour events. They are 1-2 on the Tour and 2-1 in the ISAF World Rankings. Monnin and Berntsson are not on the Tour, but have proved their skill in sailing the IOD sloops. Williams has sailed in 10 Gold Cups, Monnin has been in 11, Berntsson has sailed 8 and Canfield has 5 to his credit.

The flight of the day had to be final race in the match between Hansen and Berntsson. Berntsson took the win by two boat lengths and went into the Semi Finals. Locked at 2-2, Berntsson got the lead in the fifth race only to have the PRO David Campbell-James abandon the race when there was a 40º left hand wind shift. The next start went to Hansen and he led for three full legs and 90% of the final run.

Berntsson persevered and stole Hanson’s wind, collapsing his spinnaker and rolling right over him to take the lead and forcing to gybe away with 100 yards left to the finish. Berntsson kept on going to the Hamilton side of the course on a nice rift of breeze while Hansen suffered on the right. Berntsson took the win by two boatlengths and went into the Semi finals.

Sundays forecast: Winds northerly 10 to 15 knots, soon backing northwesterly, increasing west-northwesterly 12 to 18 knots in the evening… Widespread rain and showers, mainly to the south through east, with a chance of thunder and fair to poor visibility, becoming isolated showers by the afternoon.


2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour Standings: (after Stage 5)

1 Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 94pts
2 Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 88pts
3 Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 76pts
4 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing 63pts
5 Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 58pts
6 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 56pts
7 David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 39pts
8 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Luna Rossa 20pts


By Talbot Wilson,





Lively on Sydney Harbour for the Alf Beashel Memorial Trophy


18s Syd R1 fq

Photos © Frank Quealey



18ft Skiff Club Championship Race 1 on Sydney Harbour




The brilliant conditions which have prevailed for the opening races of the 2014-2015 Australian 18 Footers League season continued  for Race 1 of the Club Championship on Sydney Harbour.

After all teams registered their new equipment, they took to the harbour in a South-East breeze, which gusted to more than 20-knots.

Two of the top skiffs had major skipper changes. James Francis replaced Seve Jarvin on Gotta Love It 7 and Hugh Stodart replaced Michael Coxon on Thurlow Fisher Lawyers.

The change on the ‘7’ red machine made little difference as Gotta Love It 7 (James Francis, Sam Newton, Scott Babbage) scored another brilliant victory – by 2m 58s.

Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney, Mark Kennedy, Charles Dorron), sporting a brand new #2 rig, finished in second place, with Smeg (David Witt, Tom Clout, Reece Goldsmith) a further 1m 30s back in third place.

Yandoo (John Winning) was fourth, followed by (Keegan York) and Mojo Wine (Lee Knapton).

Knapton and his Mojo Wine team led to the windward mark in Rose Bay where they headed a closely bunched fleet headed by Coopers-Rag & Famish, Smeg and Gotta Love It 7.

Team Seven grabbed a narrow lead from Mojo after the long spinnaker run from Rose Bay to Robertson Point and maintained a 15s margin on the following windward beat back to Clarke Island.

Coopers 62-Rag & Famish and Smeg were next followed by Yandoo, and Asko Appliances (James Dorron).

Mojo Wine challenged ‘7’ strongly on the run to Chowder Bay but couldn’t bridge the gap, then ‘7’ powered away on the next work into Rose Bay.

Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel was making up time and moved ahead of Mojo Wine, whose chances disappeared in a wild capsize on the bear-away.

Little changed over the final four legs of the course with Gotta Love 7’s crew sailing superbly to record their convincing victory.

The Alf Beashel Memorial Trophy for the handicap section of the race went to John Winning’s Yandoo.

A wonderful result when the trophy honouring one of the greatest 18 Footer men of the past (Alf Beashel) is won by one of the present great 18 Footer men.


Follow all the racing on the Australian 18 Footers League’s website.


The LiveStream page can be found at


By Frank Quealey