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#VOR - They may be training behind the pack on the race legs, but the women of Team SCA flexed their muscle in Auckland, New Zealand a few hours ago to take their second in-port race victory of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race.

And as the VOR website reports, it was a convincing victory at that, as they look the lead from the start line and held position through the course that took the fleet under the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Team skipper Sam Davies said the win would "boost our team's morale for the next few days" as the six-boat fleet awaits the passing of Tropical Cyclone Sam before they can safely embark on the voyage across the Southern Ocean to South America and Itajai in Brazil - the longest leg of the race by far at some 6,776 nautical miles.

The win marks the all-female team's biggest highlight of the VOR since their New Year in-port race first place in Abu Dhabi.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOR - MAPFRE have crossed the line at Auckland to take victory in the fourth leg of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, just minutes ahead of their closest rivals Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – with Irish bowman Justin Slattery among her crew – and Leg 3 winners Dongfeng Race Team.

Indeed, only eight minutes separated the three yachts as they sailed into the Viaduct Harbour in New Zealand's largest city just over an hour ago. And Team Alvimedica were not far behind, crossing the line within the last few minutes.

What's more, there's still a battle to escape last place, as Team Brunel and Team SCA were just nine nautical miles apart according to the most recent live tracker update.

"Today is a very good day for the team!" said MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernandez as his boat and crew reached the finish line at 9.31pm local time.

And there were no hard feelings from second-place Abu Dhabi, with skipper Ian Walker saying he was "very pleased for Xabi" after "a very, very exciting finish, and a few nerve-wracking days."

The result marks an incredible change in fortunes for the Spanish team, who finished dead last in Cape Town after the first leg but steadily improved their form as the fleet traversed the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea towards the Pacific.

The Volvo Ocean Race website has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#vor – Volvo Ocean Race's six-strong fleet heads out towards Auckland from Sanya for Leg 4 on Sunday with some big calls to make in the latest instalment of a marathon offshore contest.

Charles Caudrelier's (FRA) Dongfeng Race Team have their noses in front by a single point after the stage from Abu Dhabi to Sanya, but know that they could so easily follow the example of Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), who could only muster fifth place on the leg to China after winning the previous one.

The Chinese team, which became the first from the world's most populous nation to win a leg in the 41-year-old race last month, have yet to announce their crew plans for the 5,264-nautical mile trip to Auckland, New Zealand.

These will be unveiled on Friday (February 6) and it will be fascinating to see how many changes they make to a crew which is performing so surprisingly well.

Chris Nicholson (AUS) and several members of the Team Vestas Wind crew, whose boat was badly damaged on a reef in the Indian Ocean on November 29 during Leg 2, will watch the departure in Sanya.

The skipper from Lake Macquarie, New South Wales, reported on Thursday that Vestas Wind had arrived at the Persico yard in Bergamo, Italy, and the first stages of the rebuild were now underway with a hoped-for return to the race in June.

Meantime, the latest round of the In-Port Race Series - this one named the Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race - will be held on Saturday with Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) aiming to continue their good form following victory in Abu Dhabi.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOR - SailRacing Magazine recently sat down with Volvo Ocean Race veteran Neil Cox to get his views on the new design VOR 65 that will sail in the next edition of the round-the-world race next year.

A project consultant for the early stages of the build process, Cox - previously a shore manager for the PUMA and CAMPER crews - says the designers started from scratch "with a blank canvas" as opposed to previous designs based on iterations of "the Volvo rule".

He also enthuses about the change to one design racing in the VOR, which "means the greatest speed advantage will come from being able to push the boat harder than anyone else".

SailRacing Magazine has much more on the story HERE.

Meanwhile, TVNZ reports that Auckland in New Zealand has been announced as the latest stopover port for the 2014-15 edition of the global yachting challenge.

Volvo Ocean Race chief Knut Frostad described the race's return to New Zealand in 2015 and again in 2018 as a "no brainer" after last year's visit to the country's largest city on the Southern Ocean leg.

Two stopovers in Brazil were previously unveiled for the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, the most recent of which enjoyed a memorable conclusion in Galway last summer.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

I am reflecting this week on a varied list of maritime issues which have arisen in my writings on marine topics.

Following recent pieces I wrote about the attitude of political parties in the General Election towards the marine sector, I had a telephone call from a senior Fine Gael politician and, lo and behold, the party included the marine sector in its manifesto, pledging to restore the Department of the Marine, abolished by Fianna Fail. I await post-election developments with interest.

It has been a good week for those interested in protection of whales and dolphins. Hundreds of dolphins were spotted off the Old Head of Kinsale, apparently following shoals of herring and sprat on which they were feeding.

In the Antarctic the Japanese whaling fleet was forced to give in to pressure to stop culling. The Japanese have killed hundreds of whales every year, claiming this was for "scientific purposes," even though it has been identified worldwide as for human consumption. The fleet was ordered home by its Government after increasing international pressure.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group published its annual report this week. It was formed in December 1990, dedicated to the "conservation and better understanding" of cetaceans - whales, dolphins and porpoise - in Irish waters through "study, education and interpretation." IWDG turnover in 2010 was around €300,000. It has dealt with up to 10,000 queries a month for information on its website. A total of 92 strandings of 128 individual cetaceans was reported to the IWDG in 2010. This compares to 137 strandings of 169 animals for 2009.

This week oil prices rose because of the unrest in Libya and David Surplus, Chairman of B9 Energy Britain's largest windfarm operator, warned that sooner or later oil will run out. BP is examining the possibility of building a fleet of carbon-neutral, wind-powered sail ships planned, to carry world trade.

On the international sailing scene the new AC 45, forerunner of the next generation of America's Cup boats was launched in New Zealand and had its first capsize. The wing-sailed catamaran is designed for speed and close racing, capable of making up to 30 knots, while intended to be handled in tight, tactical courses. An exciting boat to sail, it will also be very testing of ability. The first capsize of the new boat occurred on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, hit by what was described as "a freak gust of wind," while the crew were doing maintenance on board before a sailing test.

FIRST_CAPSIZE_OF_ADMIRALS_CUP_45

Back in dock after the capsize

It capsized fully, ending upside down. Three support vessels were needed to pick up the crew and right the boat which was sailed back to its base in Auckland. There was damage to the wing sail, but no injuries to the crew. However, helmets may be an additional precaution needed for sailing these boats, which are to be used in the AC World Series! This will be a circuit of eight regattas for which venue bids are being made at present, with fleet and match racing, to raise the profile of high-performance sailing on worldwide television. Racing is to start in July, with regattas running until May of next year, leading into preparations for the next full AC series in the bigger AC72 catamarans in 2013 in San Francisco.

As the past week showed, there is always something interesting in the sea.

This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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