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Francis Joyon is in North Cove Marina in New York taking care of his maxi trimaran IDEC. Today, the official stand-by began as he awaits a weather opportunity to tackle the North Atlantic record between Ambrose Light and the Lizard. A legendary record.

Francis Joyon is in the thick of it. From today, in association with his faithful router, Jean-Yves Bernot, the helmsman of the maxi-trimaran IDEC has been watching the weather closely. The goal is to find the right low-pressure area – or preferably one which strengthens off the Gulf of Saint Lawrence – to be able to sail straignt across the North Atlantic in under 5 days 19 hours and 29 minutes. Or in other words keeping up an average speed of 21 knots... These figures may appear beyond belief and out of reach of ordinary sailors.  But Francis Joyon is not just anyone and the maxi-trimaran IDEC is not just any old boat. Fortunately, as when sailing solo, the task is truly reserved for an elite. We can remember how Ellen MacArthur just missed out on it,  and indeed only five solo sailors have managed to improve on the record launched by Bruno Peyron back in 1987. A time beaten by Florence Arthaud, before Bruno Peyron grabbed the record back. Then, there was Laurent Bourgnon and yes, already up there, Francis Joyon. It was in 2005 aboard the first IDEC trimaran (6 days and 4 hours). In 2008, Thomas Coville bettered that time with the record that is still his today after completing the voyage in 5 days 19 hours and 29 minutes.

Heading for an unprecedented Grand Slam?

"This is not an easy record," Francis Joyon warned us. "To keep up such a high average speed, you need to find the right weather and work hard at it all the time without any easing off."  So that is the real difficulty from a mathematical perspective... while in terms of sailing, he will also have to deal with the legendary mists, marine animals, shipping... and maybe also the wind dropping off as he approaches the coast of SW England.

For Francis Joyon and IDEC, this is a huge challenge. If he pulls this off, Joyon will become the only sailor ever to claim the Grand Slam of outright records. The skipper of IDEC already holds three other record times: the solo round the world record, the 24-hour distance record and the Columbus Route record. It will also be a way for him to gain his revenge after a failed attempt in 2011, when IDEC capsized at the start in New York. An incident that shows just how tricky the task of sailing this incredible wind-making machine can be, and indeed how scary it can be for a solo yachtsman. The North Atlantic record requires an all-out effort. However, that is something that attracts Joyon, who enjoys taking it to the limit, while making it all look so easy, giving the impression that he is just doing a normal sailor's job.  Two things that are far from being the case in reality.

The 5 record times so far set on solo crossings of the North Atlantic:

1987 : Bruno Peyron, catamaran, Explorer, in 11 days, 11 hours 46 minutes and 36 seconds
1990 : Florence Arthaud, trimaran, Pierre 1er, in 9 days, 21 hours and 42 minutes
1992 : Bruno Peyron, catamaran, Explorer, in 9 days, 19 hours and 22 minutes
1994 : Laurent Bourgnon, trimaran, Primagaz, in 7 days, 2 hours, 34 minutes and 42 seconds
2005 : Francis Joyon, trimaran, IDEC 1, in 6 days, 4 hours, 01 minute and 37 seconds
2008 : Thomas Coville, trimaran, Sodebo, in 5 days, 19 hours, 29 minutes and 20 seconds

Published in Offshore
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The RORC domestic offshore season sprang to life with a fast and, at times, furious 100 mile race to Le Havre for the coveted Cervantes Trophy. Sam Marsaudon and Géry Trentesaux's MC34 Patton, Courrier Vintage, finished the course in under 10 hours to win IRC Two and was declared the overall winner. Racing under IRC rule, the French team of seven included UNCL President, Marc de Saint Denis and was skippered by Géry Trentesaux.

Géry Trentesaux's MC34 Patton, Courrier Vintage, finished the course in under 10 hours to win IRC Two and was declared the overall winner of the Cervantes Trophy Credit: Peter Mumford-Beken of Cowes Géry Trenteseaux is one of the most experienced helmsmen in the race; he recalled: "We had more wind at the start than we expected and we had our big spinnaker up, which made for a very fast but at times tricky start, but Courrier Vintage loves going downwind in big conditions. I am too old to helm for ten hours, so we were rotating the driving. It was a very fast race and although the wind was down towards the end, we were not concerned as there was still enough to keep the boat going fast. We received a very warm welcome from the yacht club in Le Havre and celebrated with some dinner and of course some French wine and now we are looking forward to next week's North Sea Race."

Andrew Budgen's Volvo 70, Monster Project, took line honours and the IRC Canting Keel class in an astonishing elapsed time of just over 7 hours. Averaging close to 14 knots for the race, Monster Project was out of sight of the rest of the fleet shortly after the start.

Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, led the chasing pack out of the Solent with Ker 40, Magnum III, in hot pursuit, as owner Andrew Pearce explains:

"Well, what a race; quite spectacular and exciting in the extreme! The wind direction at the start made for a decision between a two-sail reach or our A3 kite and we went for the latter. With 20 knots at the start and rising it was an exhilarating first leg to clear the Solent. With gust after gust blowing through, it was all very exciting and in one bear-away we hit 20 knots of boat speed. Leaving the Solent, we changed to the Jibtop. As the wind increased, we reefed the main and hoisted the genoa staysail; if the breeze had been another ten degrees lower we would have surfed all the way to Le Havre!"

It was a case of digging deep and rotating the helm and trimmers for maximum input and sailing the best numbers. The wind speed was forecast to drop quite steeply through the late afternoon but it was a fast last leg into the finish, with just a slight softening of the wind strength on final approach. First in class and second overall was a satisfying result; we were beaten by Courrier Vintage and very well deserved it was too."

Magnum III was declared the winner of IRC One with Tonnerre de Breskens second and Edward Broadway's Ker 40, Hooligan VII, taking third.
Runner up in IRC Two was one of the two Figaro II entries from the Artemis Offshore Academy raced two-handed by Sam Matson and Robin Elsey, Artemis 21. RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine's First 40, La Réponse was third in class.

IRC Four was dominated by French yachts; Noel Racine's JPK 10.10, Foggy Dew, corrected out to win the class with Philippe Auber's JPK 9.60, Tusen Takk II, taking second place, a phenomenal effort as the boat was raced two-handed. Jean-Baptiste Crepin's Sun Fast 3200, Jubilon, was less than a minute behind after time correction, to take third.

19 yachts raced to Le Havre in the Two-Handed class with the entire fleet completing the race. The two pairs of young graduates from the Artemis Offshore Academy took the top two positions. Artemis 21, skippered by Sam Matson and Robin Elsey took the win from Alex Gardner and Dyfig Mon in the second Figaro II, Artemis 43, followed by Philippe Auber's Tusen Takk II in third place.


Momentum Ocean Racing was the only two-handed entry in the Class 40 Division, sailed by Dan Dytch and Emma Creighton, and the duo completed the race in just over nine hours to take the class win. Julian Metherell and Mark Denton's Fortissimo was second, with Brieuc Maisonneuve's AL Bucq, skippered by Stephan Theissing, in third.

"This was the first race of our season and we were delighted with the performance," commented Emma Creighton. "Third boat across the line, first Class 40 and first double-handed boat by hours! Then we turned straight around and after tucking the boat away in Hamble, it was time for a big breakfast and a nap!"

The RORC Season's Points Championship continues with the North Sea Race which starts on Friday May 10th, the 210 mile course taking the fleet from Harwich to Scheveningen.

In IRC Three, the top two boats on corrected time are subject to protests and therefore we await the decision of the Protest Committee before any trophies can be awarded.

Published in RORC
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#VOR - The Volvo Ocean Race team caught up with Ireland's own Damian Foxall on board Sidney Gavignet's MOF 70 yacht Oman Sail with fellow VOR veteran Neal McDonald.

As reported in March on Afloat.ie, Ireland's top offshore sailor - and watch-leader for last year's VOR-winning team Groupama - is part of an international crew that attempted to break the Round Ireland speed record that was unfortunately abandoned due to the harsh wintry conditions.

But Foxall vowed that a repeat attempt is on the cards, and tells the VOR website that his experience on Oman Sail "is exactly what I wanted to do after the Volvo. I just wanted to sail with a smaller team of friends, racing with a good crew."

He added: "Sidney, Neal and I have been sailing and working a lot together. It’s a very natural thing and it’s a pleasure.”

Foxall also sings the praises of the MOD 70 one design, heralding the future of the Volvo Ocean Race and the new VOR 65 yacht.

"It’s light in terms of logistics and repairs. On the water too, I’m looking forward to enjoy the best of the One Design sailing – the battle on the water and not in the boatyard."

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#James Espey from Ballyholme Yacht Club currently leads the last leg of the ISAF World Cup at Hyères having won the first race against the best on the world including former Olympic champion Robert Scheidt from Brazil.

Espey has just started with a new coach in his bid to qualify for his second Olympics at Rio in 2016, he also sailed the Laser at London 201.

A 39th in Race 2 sees Annalise Murphy move up to 47th overall following her 50th in race one in the Women's Laser Radial class. The Dun Laoghaire 23-year-old declaring this evening: 'It's been a really difficult day for me. I made a lot of mistakes but looking forward to trying to fix them tomorrow!'

Update at 8pm

The opening day of racing at ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères marked the return to action for familiar faces on the World Cup series as Robert Scheidt (BRA) stepped back into the Laser and Lijia Xu (CHN) and Marit Bouwmeester (NED) made a Radial return.

Xu and Bouwmeester last competed at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition where the Chinese sailor sealed gold in the Medal Race by taking the race win ahead of Bouwmeester who settled for silver. Following an extended break the pair are back in action in Hyères and from the off proved they still know their way around a Radial.

As racing got underway early in the afternoon following a morning delay due to light winds the conditions across the six race courses were tricky for the 800 sailors competing.

Xu and Bouwmeester read the scenario differently and held back from their familiar aggressive racing styles and opted for different sides of the course. At the first mark the pair were in the lead as Bouwmeester described, "She banged the right corner and I banged the left corner and we were first and second at the top which was quite funny."

Croatia's Tina Mihelic chased down the Chinese and Dutch sailors throughout the race to take the opening bullet. As the winds dropped in the second race Bouwmeester produced a 13th and Xu came down in 30th as Marie Bolou (FRA) took the win to hold a joint lead with the Mihelic. Nonetheless Xu was pleased to be back on the water, "My movement is a bit rusty but I enjoyed the light to medium winds because it wasn't that physical and allowed my brain to work out the mystery on the water. I tried to have really good starts, call the shifts and make the right tack."

In the Laser, Robert Scheidt (BRA) joined the fleet for his first 200-point regatta following a victory at the Laser Europa Cup on Lake Garda, Italy in March. The Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Laser medallist started positively and ended the day tied in second overall, "It was a very tough day because the breeze was very flukey and we had big wind shifts all day," exclaimed Scheidt. "I got a six, one and ten so I'm happy with my day because it's the first big regatta back in the Laser. It wasn't a great day, but not a bad one either so I'm pretty happy with that."

With Scheidt proving he still has what it takes to mix things up he will have his work cut out to catch light wind specialist Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) who took two race wins and the opening day Laser lead, "I knew I had to sail good because I am light and we have stronger winds in the next few days so I did what I could do best," said Stipanovic. "The first race I didn't catch the shifts so good but everything was almost perfect after that so for today I'm really happy."

The Croatian has a perfect scoreline having discarded his eighth in the opening race whilst Bruno Fontes (BRA), Giovanni Coccoluto (ITA), James Espey (IRL) and Scheidt all follow on six points tied for second.

World #1 in the Women's 470 Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Barbachan (BRA) and World #2 Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar (AUT) have taken in World Cup regattas in Miami and Palma with consistent results in both events. The Brazilians have won both and the Austrians have missed out on the podium twice, finishing fourth in the USA and Spain.

After the opening day in France Oliveira and Barbachan lead the Austrians by two points and Ogar is happy with the way things have been going despite missed opportunities, "It's not nice to finish fourth all the time but we leave the medal positions for the Worlds and Europeans," she said with a smile. "We always say we'll get the bad luck now and the medals in the future."

With light winds on the plate today and more of the same predicted on day two Ogar is happy with the way it's going, "Today was a pretty tricky day with light and shifty winds but we like these conditions and the first two races were really good with a first and second but in the third place we were black flagged but still really good and we're still improving."

Tied in third overall in the Women's 470 on six points are Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA) and Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Geron (FRA).

In the Men's 470 New Zealand's Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Wilcox recorded two race wins and a fifth to take an early advantage in 63-boat fleet. In split fleets of 32 and 31 the Kiwis enjoyed a successful light wind day in their fleet that included World #1 pair Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) who ended the day down in eight.

Home nation Men's RS:X favourite Julien Bontemps (FRA) enjoyed the tricky breeze on the opening day to take an early advantage in the 51-boat fleet. A second behind Race 1 winner Piotr Myszka (POL) set him up nicely to for victory in the day's second race. Myszka was unable to replicate his performance in Race 2 and finished down in 17th but with the discard kicking in he holds the joint lead with Bontemps.

Bryony Shaw (GBR), runner up at ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma, started Hyères off positively with a race win in the sole Women's RS:X race of the day after a dying afternoon breeze brought racing to a close. French sailors Eugenie Ricard and Charline Picon trail the Brit.

First off the water on the opening day in Hyères was the 68 strong Finn fleet. Australia's Oliver Tweddell and Great Britain's Ed Wright hold the joint lead after a race win apiece but less than impressive results in their other races could see them dislodged from the top with Josh Junior posting the most consistent results of 2-7.

Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign (GBR) picked up two bullets and a second from three 49er races to take an early advantage. They lead compatriots David Evans and Ed Powys (GBR) and Spain's Federico Alonso and Arturo Alonso who are tied on two points.

Germany's Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz lead the 49erFX fleet following a consistent display of light wind racing. A race win, second and a third gives them a three point gap over Great Britain's Charlotte Dobson and Mary Rook in second and five point advantage over Frances Peters and Nicola Groves (GBR).

Two races in the Nacra 17 were completed on the opening day as Maxim Semenov and Alena Pankratova (RUS) and Renee Groeneveld and Karel Begemann (NED) took the race wins to share the lead.

In the 2.4mR Megan Pascoe (GBR) and Lasse Klötzing (GER) share the lead and London 2012 Paralympic Games Sonar gold medallists Udo Hessels, Mischa Rossen and Marcel Van de Veen (NED) lead the fleet.

Racing resumes on Tuesday 23 March at 11:00 as the Qualification Series comes to a close ahead of the Final Series on 24 April.

 

Published in Olympic
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#isora – Irish offshore sailing chief Peter Ryan from Dun Laoghaire is calling for a strong turnout of cruisers for the first day race of the 2013 ISORA lynx metmAsts Offshore Racing Series series this Saturday (April 27th) (Notice of Race downloadable below).

The first race of a nine race series (that includes June's Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race) starts at 0955 from Dun Laoghaire over a course to Arklow and back,  distance of some 50 miles. A briefing is planned in Dun Laoghaire Marina prior to the race start.

Saturday's ISORA race will be run with the Royal Alfred Yacht Club 2013 Coastal Series race using the same start, course and finish line.

The start line shall be located in Scotsman's Bay in the vicinity of DBSC 'Pier' mark between the mast of a committee boat flying the RAYC burgee and a start mark at the port end. A boat shall not start later than 15 minutes after her Starting signal.

Prior to the start of each race boats are requested to obtain acknowledgement from the Race Committee.

The course will be confirmed at a briefing at 08.45 at the Marina offices and afloat to the competitors on channel 72 before the start.

The course will be text to all entrants immediately after the briefing.

The course may include "Virtual" marks. These are coordinates of a position that each yacht must round. Evidence of rounding the "virtual" mark must be taken and may be requested by the Race Officer.

This evidence may include: Photographic (iPhone or similar) evidence of the yacht's GPS showing its position at the mark. Yacht's chart plotter track showing the yacht rounding the "virtual" mark.

The onus of proof of having rounded the "virtual" mark will be with each yacht.

THE COURSE
The course may be as follows:
1. STARTING LINE
2. Muglins to starboard
3. Arklow North to Port
4. Muglins to port
5. FINISH LINE

The rekindled offshore racing fleet of more than 20 boats with interest  on both sides of the Irish Sea  is enjoying an active programme of offshore racing each summer. ISORA organise offshore races that include cross channel, coastal and overnight races for a mix of skills.

 

Published in ISORA

Jörg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur, aboard the Class 40 "Mare", secure victory in the fourth edition of the Normandy Channel Race. From Germany and France's Picardy region, the duo crossed the finish line at 22 hours 57 minutes and 30 seconds UTC on Wednesday 17 April, in a time of three days, seven hours, 57 minutes and 30 seconds at an average speed of 8.08 knots. They were 56 minutes and 20 seconds ahead of "Made in Normandie", skippered by local sailors Nicolas Jossier from Granville and Alexandre Toulorge from Cherbourg. "Campagne de France" skippered by Briton Miranda Merron and local Halvard Mabire, bagged the third step of the podium, just one minute and three seconds behind second place! "Geodis" skippered by Fabrice Amedeo and Armel Tripon, finished fourth followed by "Al Bucq" skippered by Briton Ned Collier–Wakefield and Brieuc Maisonneuve, who made a great comeback, "Red" skippered by Mathias Blumencron and Boris Herrmann and "Groupe Picoty" helmed by Jean-Christophe Caso and Aymeric Chappellier, "Momentum Ocean Racing" and "Phoenix Europe – Carac". The finishers arrived in quick succession into Ouistreham, testament to the growing uniformity of the Class 40 line-up.

Jorg Riechers: "It's great to win the Normandy Channel Race after three participations and especially after dismasting just before the race. It's a really hard, technical race. Sailing in the Celtic Sea was chaotic. We never let up. Despite a tough passage at Barfleur on the outward leg, we gradually moved up through the fleet through our speed and sheer determination."

Pierre Brasseur: "What a race! It was intense from beginning to end. Jorg and I got on really well, him often carrying out the manoeuvres and focusing on the boat's performance and me doing the navigation".

Alexandre Toulorge: "We're happy with our performance in this Normandy Channel Race, which was a first for us. We've got the measure of the Class 40. Over a short course like this, we spend a great deal of time making sail changes so it's incredibly physical."

Nicolas Jossier: "Mare" was going faster on a reach and the crew made good their escape at Raz Blanchard. We were working on the weather for the first part of the race and that bore fruit."

Halvard Mabire: "We came back from nowhere. It's a fine third place. A few more miles and we'd have secured second place. We took a minute too long."

Fabrice Amedeo: "What fun! Geodis goes well. We checked her performance once again in the Normandy Channel Race. We made a few mistakes, but we caught up as we headed down the coast of Cornwall. "Campagne de France" extended its lead over us during the passage around Guernsey. At that point we were sure of fourth place but very soon it was our rivals behind who were breathing down our necks. We finished the race with a sprint. We're all-in."

The top four in the Normandy Channel Race in brief

A fantastic victory for 44-year old Jörg Riechers from Hamburg, the jovial 2012 Class 40 champion, German sailor of the year 2012, winner of last year's Solidaire du Chocolat and the Atlantic Cup and an outstanding Mini sailor; and also 33-year old Pierre Brasseur, from Amiens, a tall sailor with model looks, crew to Jimmy Pahun on "Ile-de-France" and second in the last Mini Transat in the series category. After shooting off the start line last Sunday, the two sailors on "Mare" were less successful in the middle section of the race before going on to put up a faultless performance for the rest of the race. Despite dismasting prior to taking the start of the Normandy Channel Race, they managed to get to the race start bang on time with a perfectly optimised Class 40, Mach 40. Congratulations!

It was a personal victory too for second placed Nicolas Jossier, 36, and Alexandre Toulorge, 34. The two Norman sailors, familiar faces in the Tour de France à la Voile and the Solitaire du Figaro (13 participations all together) had never raced together before and they were competing in their first NCR and their first Class 40 race. They were the driving forces in this edition, holding the reins from Sunday evening through until last night. Nicolas Jossier is sure to have a fine career ahead of him in Class 40, as is Alexandre.

A boisterous Normandy Channel Race

The 2013 edition of the event, organised by Sirius Evénements, was played out in medium to strong winds. Blowing in from the south-west for the bulk of the race, it never really eased, save for a few hours after the start as the fleet negotiated the Saint Marcouf islands.

After setting out on Sunday at 1700 hours local time the competition, based in France's Calvados region, lived up to expectations from the outset, and it was a sight to behold on the water. In glorious sunshine, the 20 Class 40s powered across the start line. Since the Route du Rhum 2010, never have so many Class 40s taken the start of an offshore yacht race.

The pacy "Mare", Jorg Riechers' Class 40, immediately created a stir, taking control of the fleet at the first windward mark of the initial coastal course. The other Mach 40, "GDF SUEZ" also put up an impressive performance, despite the attack from "Campagne de France" skippered by Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron and the skill of the German sailors on "Red", Boris Herrmann and Mathias Blumencron, the former editor of "Der Spiegel".

Close-hauled in around 15 knots of breeze, the NCR fleet made for the Saint Marcouf islands. Some opted for an offshore option prior to this compulsory passage, whilst others took their chances with a coastal option. Early that night, "Phoenix Europe – Carac" skippered by Louis Duc from Cherbourg and Stéphanie Alran from La Rochelle, were the first to link onto the Channel crossing thanks to a cunning option hugging the coast where it was sheltered from the current. "Made in Normandie" was in hot pursuit whilst the stars seemed to get bogged down. Making headway downwind, the wind picked up. Remaining slightly to the West of the great circle route, Alexandre Toulorge, also from Cherbourg, and Nicolas Jossier from nearby Granville, took the lead. Aboard their Kiwi 40, the duo were really packing a punch in this their first Class 40 race and first Normandy Channel Race.

In the early hours of Monday, "Made In Normandie" negotiated the Solent with ease and, close-hauled, soon had it in its wake. Behind them, "GDF SUEZ" skippered by Sébastien Rogues and Ludovic Aglaor, "Groupe Picoty" helmed by Jean-Christophe Caso and Aymeric Chappellier, slowly made up ground on the leaders thanks to a rather dangerous option flirting with the sand banks around the Needles. "Norma Concept – Le Pal" skippered by Bruno Jourdren and Thomas Ruyant, always among the winning options since Sunday's start, climbed into second place. On the nose, the winds were becoming increasingly strong as the fleet headed down the South coast of England.

In a biting cold the fleet made good speed off Poole and offshore of Start Point, whilst overnight on Monday, several competitors suffered from technical issues. On Tuesday morning, eight competitors had retired from the NCR, "GDF SUEZ" and "Norma Concept – Le Pal" opting to make for Plymouth so as not to damage their brand new Class 40s. A front situated above Ireland was causing the racers some concern and the Race Committee and Race Management took the tough decision not to send the sailors into the difficult seas off Ireland. In this way, a virtual waypoint had to be rounded some 50 miles North of Land's End. "Made in Normandie" was first to link onto the return leg, with some surfing on the programme!

On Tuesday evening, the top four, "Made In Normandie", "Mare", "Campagne de France" and "Geodis" were already on the homeward leg. On a reach they were able to glide across the English Channel, "Mare" really smoking as she made gains on the Normans. With 35 knots of breeze in the area, coloured by great fatigue for the majority of the sailors, the Normandy Channel Race was really living up to form...

By Wednesday afternoon they were on the home straight, upwind and then downwind, the two major protagonists in the Normandy Channel Race devoured the Raz Blanchard with gusto. It was at Barfleur that they began punching tide, with "Mare" extending away from the fleet and taking the win in style!

Entertainment as scheduled

Back on shore, there is no change to the great programme of entertainment lined up for the Normandy Channel Race. The race village will open on Friday at 1400 hours local time and spectators will be able to appreciate the Class 40s on the pontoon in Caen and enjoy the numerous festivities planned.
Since 2010, the Normandy Channel Race has been followed by an increasing number of enthusiasts and they were out in force for the start of this fourth edition, particularly as the fleet left Caen and paraded down the canal between Lower Normandy's capital and Ouistreham. They're sure to be back this weekend. The Normandy Channel Race 2014 is scheduled for May and in the meantime the Class 40 will participate in the Transat Jacques Vabre, which will set off from Le Havre on 3 November, bound for Brazil.

The overall standing can be viewed at www.normandy-race.com from tomorrow's arrival of the last boat, skippered by the valiant amateur duo on "Obportus 3".

Published in Offshore
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#Offshore - A fleet of 20 French yachts racing to Ireland narrowly avoided sailing into serious trouble off the Dorset coast earlier this week.

As BBC News reports, UK coastguard authorities scrambled to warn the yachts via emergency broadcast that they were headed towards an exclusion zone set up for a live firing exercise at Lulworth Ranges.

"It looks like there was a slight error made by the French authorities," said a coastguard spokesperson, who confirmed that the yachts were diverted from their dangerous course after contacting the race director.

According to Practical Boat Owner, the yachts were competing in the Normandy Channel Race which began on Sunday 14 April and continues till this Friday evening.

The race route to and from Caen in northern France traverses a triangle across the Celtic Sea, past the most southwesterly tip of Cornwall, via Tuskar Rock and Fastnet Rock.

Published in Offshore

Follow David Kenefick's progress in his final qualification race for this Summer's figaro race. Today's race at 320nm miles is the longest the Crosshaven sailor will have completed to date. He's also lining up against some of the best French skippers. more here.

Published in Figaro

#MaritimeBorder - Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has signed a new agreement that establishes a fixed maritime boundary between the UK and Ireland's offshore areas, as The Irish Times reports.

Gilmore put pen to paper on the deal with British ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott that finalises a single boundary between the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) and continental shelves of both countries.

The agreement is expected to ease development of offshore energy projects, as well as improve fisheries protection and marine conservation in the EEZ, which lies above the continental shelf between 12 and 200 nautical miles off the coast.

However, despite the new deal, Ireland and Britain's differing claims over Rockall in the North Atlantic remain.

The small rocky islet, 228 nautical miles northwest of Donegal, is also claimed by Denmark and Iceland.

Published in Coastal Notes

#offshoresailing – There were four of them, back in 1968 in New York. There was Dick Nye (1903-1988). Briefly a theatrical hopeful, he'd got no further than spear carrier in an opera. But Broadway's loss was Wall Street's gain – the ebullient Nye had a stellar career in the wheelings and dealings of mergers and acquisitions and takeover battles, and this funded a love of offshore racing which he hadn't discovered until he was 44 .

Also present was his son Richard B Nye, business colleague and longtime shipmate in a hugely successful shared offshore racing career on both sides of the Atlantic, and across it. "Richard was the detail guy. Richard could remember every tack and sail combination on every race they had ever sailed. I only exaggerate a little. Between the two of them, they got maximum performance out of boat and crew."

The speaker is Sheila McCurdy, Commodore of the Cruising Club of America 2011-2012. She knew the Nyes well and sailed with them too, as she is the daughter of the third man present, yacht designer Jim McCurdy (1922-1994). Having served his time with the great Philip Rhodes, rising to head the Rhodes office's sailboat division, he had now set up his own partnership with his former boss's son Body Rhodes, and a new 48ft offshore racer for Dick and Richard Nye was one of McCurdy & Rhodes' first commissions.

McCurdy worked harmoniously with the Nyes. In 1955 in the Rhodes office, he had overseen the creation of their previous boat, the 54ft yawl Carina II, which had won both the 1955 and the 1957 Fastnets overall, and her class in the Bermuda Race too, plus a couple of Transatlantics. Carina II had been and still was a great boat, but the CCA rule had moved on. Being a beamy centreboard yawl had been a rating disadvantage under the RORC Rule, which made Carina II's Fastnet double all the more remarkable. But by 1968 it no longer conferred any advantage under the American rule either, something which was expected to be emphasised with the new International Offshore Rule.

It was hoped this ground-breaking global measurement rule would be unveiled by 1970. However, the Nyes - once they'd decided to move - were men in a hurry, and in August 1968 with Jim McCurdy they finalized a design which they reckoned would be a useful template for those framing the IOR. It was that and more.

The boat which emerged from their deliberations became the fourth member of the quartet, a personality in her own right. And with the death of Richard B Nye on March 14th at the age of 81, only Carina is left - American sailing's great survivor. She is still winning major offshore races in her fifth decade, still giving enormous pleasure to all who sail on her, and comfortably belying her age of 44 with timeless good looks.

She was built in aluminium, and kept as simple as possible. How about teak laid decks, even with their inevitable weight? As they say on Wall Street – fuggedaboudit. It wasn't that the Nyes were tight with the money, though they did shop around for value – their previous Carina had been built in Germany in a yard near Hamburg, as that offered the best deal at the time. But they readily spent money on the boat, particularly on the sails and rig, when genuine benefit would result.

And Jim McCurdy had an interesting approach to expenditure in building one-off yachts. Despite being of Ulster-Scots descent – you'll find McCurdys on Rathlin Island, and they're big around Ballymena and in The Glens – Jim McCurdy had a refreshingly open attitude to budgets, at variance with the popular perception of the Ulster-Scots' reputation for parsimony. In response to questions from Arthur Beiser for the latter's authorative book The Proper Yacht (Second Edition 1978), McCurdy suggested that anyone thinking of building the dreamship should consider "throwing financial responsibility to the winds and grabbing your dream as it slips away into an even more unfriendly future. There are those who have acted in this fashion and their irresponsibility turned, in fact, into wisdom that produced a great reward in enjoyment of sailing".
jimmccurdy
Jim McCurdy and Dick Nye aboard Carina in the 1972 Transatlantic Race to Spain, which they won by a huge margin. They were both great men for their cigars, earned here after a tactical gamble had paid off in spades.

Another time, he commented that those who concentrated on saving the pennies at every stage ended up spending more and achieving less than those who took the broader more generous view. Certainly with the previous Carina, when the Nyes' Wall Street speciality financial services firm was a much more modest operation than had become by 1968, the yacht style finish was to the highest standard, with all the trimmings. But with the sparse new boat, all was in line with the purpose of providing performance with just the basics of comfort needed by dedicated amateur crews for long races, and this remarkably handsome yet decidedly non-yachty sloop made her international debut at Cork in July 1969.

transatlantic
Shortly after the start of the 1969 Transatlantic Race to Cork, with Huey Long's maxi Ondine and the new Carina leading the only Irish entry, Perry Greer's Helen of Howth, past the Brenton Reef Light Tower. Photo: Tom Matthews

She'd raced Transatlantic, against a fleet which included one Irish entry, Perry Greer's John B Kearney-designed 54ft centreboard yawl Helen of Howth, which ironically had in some ways been inspired by the previous Carina. But Helen's owner was an inveterate gadgeteer and liked his cruising comforts. Even in racing trim, the Irish boat was no more than a fast cruiser, floating well below her designed waterline. The new austere Carina by contrast was very much a contender. So although in a big boat race to Cork the winner was the souped-up 12 Metre American Eagle from the 66ft S&S yawl Kialoa – Ted Turner from Jim Kilroy: there were giants in ocean racing in those days – Carina won her class in style, and her crew were enthused about her easy speed and good handling characteristics. Even today, after hundreds of thousands of miles, it's said she has never broached.

kialoa
Jim Kilroy's 66ft yawl Kialoa II placed second in the 1969 Transatlantic Race to Cork.

That Cork visit resulted in Transatlantic links to the Nyes which two years later in 1971 had the 22-year-old Ron Cudmore sail as crew on Carina in a fast delivery passage across the Atlantic. Dick Nye wanted to get to the 1971 Admirals Cup, Ron wanted to get home from the US, and as no Transatlantic Race was scheduled, they could sail the northern Great Circle route with no mandatory waypoint to keep them clear of ice. Carina zapped across in just over a fortnight on the open ocean - "Fast and very cold," as Ron recalls. "great boat, awesome skipper".

Another Irish sailor who particularly remembers her arriving in Crosshaven back in 1969 is Neil Kenefick. Aged 11 at the time, he and his father were invited to sail on Carina from Cork to Kinsale as the Nyes fitted in a tiny bit of cruising before heading off for Dick Nye's favourite regatta, Cowes Week, which included the Admirals Cup in which Carina was a member of the winning American Team.

carinainthesolent
Carina on the Solent in 1969, when she was a member of the winning American Admiral's Cup team. It's said that she has never broached, and here – tight spinnaker reaching under her original configuration of smaller rudder with trim tab on keel – she is giving the helmsman no problems.

Neil met up with them again in Cowes ten years later, when he himself was on the then-leading Irish Admirals Cup team aboard Golden Apple, and the Nyes were properly impressed. But Golden Apple was a 1979 Fastnet casualty, along with Ireland's Admirals Cup hopes, whereas Carina went round in style with three generations of Nyes aboard – Richard B's son Jonathan was in the crew. At the height of the gale Dick Nye, aged 76, roped himself into the cockpit the better to savour this storm of storms: "This is GREAT" he bellowed, "truly utterly GREAT!"

The boat had already won a Bermuda Race overall, and in 1982 with the old man finally feeling his years and retired from offshore racing, Richard Nye sailed as skipper on his own and Carina won the Bermuda Race overall again. The successes continued, but by the mid '90s the junior Nye was looking back on fifty years of active offshore racing. So Carina found an excellent new home with Rives Potts, whose CV included crewing for Dennis Conner in 12 Metres, and very varied boatyard work – it was he who had done most of the work in the angle-grinder event in Bob Derecktor's famous yard when Carina was given an up-dated keel and rudder profile to Scott Kauffmann designs in 1978.

carinabottom
Carina's hull profile as it is today, with the new keel-rudder configuration to Scott Kauffmann designs fitted in 1978. Originally she's had a skeg-hung rudder with a trim tab on the keel. Photo: Rives Potts

Since then in Potts ownership, the only significant change has been a new mast in carbon. It has been noted that it lessens pitching. But other than that, this is still the same Carina, immaculately and lovingly maintained. In 2010 she won the Bermuda Race overall, then in 2011 she came cross the Atlantic and won Class 5 and placed fifth overall in the record fleet in the Rolex Fastnet Race. Then she simply sailed straight off to Sydney under the command of the next generation, and got sixth in class in the Hobart Race and won the informal "father-son" division, and then sailed on round the world with a particularly impressive east-west crossing of the Indian Ocean from Perth to Cape Town to get back to the US just in time for the Bermuda Race 2012, and she won overall in that yet again.

She won't be in the Fastnet this year, but it's likely she'll be back in 2015. Rives Potts is a flag officer of the New York YC, which will sending a fleet across for the Bicentennial of the Royal Yacht Squadron. And in that fleet, the boat for true sailors will be this modest 46-year-old black sloop, American sailing's great survivor, a global superstar.

THE HIPPY HAPPY MIRROR DINGHY

Did you know there used to be Mirror dinghies for hippies, driven by flower power? Believe me, there were – we bought one for family use back in 1977 from a former suburban hippy round Dun Laoghaire way. Instead of a simple paint job for the hull, she was decorated in flowers from end to end.

The guy we bought her from was Norman Long. These day, he is of course F. Norman Long, senior sailor emeritus, pillar of the yachting establishment, and basking in the deserved glow of having played a key role – along with Theo and Avril Harris - of getting the annual frostbite series inaugurated under the auspices of the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, way back in 1974 or even earlier.

But in his more relaxed moments yonks ago, Norman would have dreamt of making the scene in San Francisco. I don't think he got there, yet he grew his hair long, and he painted his boat with psychedelic flowers on a pink background. But regrettably, it wasn't that which drew us to the boat. We simply wanted a Mirror dinghy because it offered so much for an impecunious family with two small children and another on the way, and Norman's was for sale as he was getting involved with offshore racing.

The Mirror was the right choice for us. They're great little big-hearted boats, one of the cleverest dinghy design concepts of all time. She gave us two happy summers and was everything we needed for local mini-cruises – some boats twice the size couldn't carry as many people - and the very occasional race. But it wasn't until the flowers had gone that we made our debut with our new pride-and-joy. We smuggled her back home on the roof of our battered little car, and hid her in the garage - it hadn't become an office in those days. When she reappeared, immaculate yacht white with a neat dark green boot-top – a proper boot-top, not silly stripes – the neighbours thought it was a different boat entirely.

mirrordinghyone
Mirror action at Rosses Point in Sligo. This year the class is celebrating its Golden Jubilee, and the Worlds are at Lough Derg in August.
Photo: Bryan Armstrong

These fond memories are evoked by the fact that this month marks the Golden Jubilee of the Mirror Class Assocation. It was actually 1962 when DIY guru Barry Bucknell and ace dinghy designer Jack Holt pooled their considerable talents to produce the smallest possible boat which could do just about everything, and they succeeded brilliantly. Of course they're now mainly known for their racing, but for simply sailing they're great too, and seaworthy with it – one intrepid Mirror sailor managed to get all the way from Shropshire in England across Europe to the Black Sea.

The essence of the design is that it was dictated by what could be done with marine ply by amateur builders. The stitch-and-glue technique conferred strength and shape, while the need for economy and internal space dictated the pram bow.

Inevitably over the years, racing demands have meant that people have lost sight of the original very basic concept. For instance, they now have bermudan rig, where originally they'd a sensible sliding gunter set-up with all the spars stowable within the hull when un-rigged, which was very user friendly.

Less user-friendly was the need to keep weight and price down, thus they were built with ultra-light inexpensive plywood, of marine standard but pushing it a bit. It couldn't be neglected at all. So in time there were attempts to build competitive boats in lower maintenance glassfibre, and when the Worlds were held in Ireland in 2001, the Australians turned up with plastic boats which did the business.

mirrordinghytwo
The shape of the Mirror dinghy is dictated by the demands of plywood construction, and the need for economy and light weight.
Photo: Bryan Armstrong

But in the long run, it's absurd to use fibreglass to build boats whose shape was created in the first place by the unique demands of plywood construction, utilising a totally hard chine shape. We mentioned that here some weeks ago in considering the 30ft van de Stadt-designed Royal Cape ODs. Those slippy little plywood sea sleds had given so much sport that somebody though it would be a great idea to build them in more durable glassfibre. But only four were built in plastic as the absurdity of sticking to the confines of a totally plywood design concept became obvious.

It should be possible to create a design which has the Mirror's excellent roominess, attractive sailing ability and compact size, while taking much greater advantage of the shape options which plastic construction offers. But of course, such a boat would need all the hassle of creating a new class, with its essential dedicated adherents. The Mirror dinghy comes with its own extraordinary ready-made hinterland of wonderful memories and great sport.

So we wish them a very happy 50th Birthday. And where does an impecunious sailing family go after two great years with a Mirror? Into a Squib of course – where else?

Published in W M Nixon
Page 27 of 35

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