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Displaying items by tag: Damian Foxall

#vor – County Kerry's Damian Foxall, one of the biggest names in offshore sailing, is joining the Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) for the forthcoming treacherous Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Caudrelier and Foxall were on the Groupama boat that won the 2011-12 edition. The Irishman was the natural choice when Dongfeng's skipper looked for an experienced sailor to bolster his line-up for the 6,776-nautical mile (nm) stage from Auckland to Itajaí, Brazil, through the Southern Ocean and round Cape Horn.
Foxall, who has competed in four previous Volvo Ocean Races, arrived in Auckland fresh from victory in the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour (SATT), sailing with the renowned French sailor, Sidney Gavignet. He said on Thursday that he was thrilled to link up again with Caudrelier, who has guided his China-backed team to joint top of the current race standings.
"I am delighted to be back 'in the saddle'. This will be the 10th round-the-world event that I will be involved in and my eighth rounding of Cape Horn," he said. "It is a privilege to have the opportunity to join Charles and the boys onboard Dongfeng who have been doing such an exemplary job. My role is to fit in as seamlessly as possible and to bring the benefit of a fresh person to the team.
"It is hard to overstate the difficulty of the Volvo Ocean Race for the sailors and teams, the longest sporting event in any sport, and it is exactly this, the duration, that makes it so hard. A planned rotation of the crew at key times has become a crucial part of any successful team's strategy."
Caudrelier agrees. "This leg is going to be a tough, freezing cold, with big seas and strong winds – only the toughest sailors can endure it," he said.
Foxall could not be joining the race at a more challenging time. The first three boats finished the 5,264nm Leg 4 within just over eight minutes of each other after 20 days at sea with MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) becoming the fourth team to win a leg.
Dongfeng Race Team won the second leg into their home port of Sanya from Abu Dhabi in January.
Foxall will replace Thomas Rouxel (FRA) on this leg, continuing the crew rotation programme set by Caudrelier to ensure his eight-man crew are fighting fit and bringing fresh energy into the team.
Navigator, Pascal Bidégorry (FRA), is back and will undoubtedly find the Southern Ocean leg less painful than being rested on land as he was for Leg 4. Caudrelier has yet to confirm which of his Chinese sailors will sail in the forthcoming stage.
The crew will be announced next week for the leg, which sets off on Sunday, March 15.

Damian Foxall's four Volvo Ocean Race appearances

2001-02 (Tyco)
2005-06 (Ericsson)
2008-09 (Green Dragon)
2011-12 (Groupama sailing team)

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#tourofarabia – Cork and Kerry offshore sailors continue a strong performance in the Persian Gulf this week with Damian Foxall's Oman sail/EFG crew outwitting Crosshaven's David Kenefick sailing on Team Averda to lead the Tour of Arabia. 'Brutal conditions' were reported over the course of the latest 1100–mile leg with two boats in the seven boat fleet pushing speedo logs up through the hull in slamming wave conditions. 

A third place in the final leg was enough to confirm Frenchman Sidney Gavignet and his mixed Omani and European team overall winners of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour for the second year in a row. EFG Bank (Monaco) were not the only champions in Bahrain on Saturday however with the new Volvo Ocean Race Rookie Award for the top two Under 30 sailors of the event going to Team Renaissance Omani sailor, Ali Al Balushi and British sailor from the University of Plymouth team, Richard Mason.

A course change from east to west for the 2015 edition resulted in 14-days of testing upwind racing on the six-leg, 760-nautical mile course from Oman to Bahrain. Noted for being one of the toughest on record, the 11 pro-am racing teams with crews from 21 different nations experienced a truly unique, highly competitive, cultural adventure.

Gavignet and crew; Damian Foxall (IRL), Alex Pella (ESP), Nicolas Lunven (FRA), Fabien Delahaye (FRA), Mohammed Al Mujaini (OMA), Abdull Rahman Al Mashari (OMA), and Abdallah Al Shukaili (OMA), sailed an impressive series but they didn't have it all their own way.

They were chased hard throughout by Marcel Herrera and his young student team from Plymouth University on Team Averda, who took second overall, and Zain Sailing Team from Kuwait headed by seasoned Tour competitor Cédric Pouligny with Gérald Véniard navigating, who finished third.

Gavignet was delighted with the result: "It feels good to have achieved the goal we set, we had a great atmosphere onboard, which I believe helped our performance."

"It is clearly harder and longer than previous editions. I believe the tougher it is, the more its reputation will grow particularly for pro Volvo Ocean Race teams looking for a training ground."

The three Omanis onboard the EFG Bank (Monaco) winning team, plus the Omani Renaissance crew and Navy of Oman team are testimony to Oman Sail's vision of developing the region's sailing talent and rekindling its rich maritime heritage through creating role models to inspire the next generation of sailors.

Kerry-born Damian Foxall, Ireland's greatest offshore sailor, was enthusiastic about the progress made: "This event is a good tool to validate the progress of the Omanis. In previous years the crews struggled to visualise what the life of a professional sailor could be like. Now I think they like the idea which helps them progress quicker."

As one of the toughest on record, the 2015 event has endorsed its status as a prime option for professional teams seeking winter training venues and for young aspiring offshore sailors seeking a race that will put them to the test. Volvo Ocean Race recognition of the event as a leading development race for young offshore sailors and the new Volvo Rookie Award for the top two Under 30 sailors has added another avenue of competition. This year's lucky recipients will be flown to Newport, one of the Volvo stopovers for a weekend to watch the in port and pro am racing.

"EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is tough, even for hardened Irish sailors like me," said Foxall. "But the Tour package makes life really easy for teams that want to just turn up and race. You can concentrate on the sailing and not have to worry about boat prep because there's a technical team on hand all the way."

Three members of the Chinese Volvo Ocean Race team Dongfeng used the event as a tool to enhance their performance. Kit Cheng from Hong Kong said: "It was tougher than Leg 3 of the Volvo, so for training purposes, it is perfect!"

Second placed Marcel Herrera, skipper of British boat Team Averda, was thrilled with his result: "This shows consistency and proves that last year wasn't just a fluke. I am very happy with our result."

The all-Omani team who finished fifth aboard Team Renaissance gave an indication of how the Omani sailors have progressed. Their best result was a second place on Leg 5 – the toughest in the five-year history of the event. Fahad Al Hasni, a regular on the Oman Sail MOD70 trimaran and skipper for EFG SATT, said: "We have improved such a lot as a team, and I have every reason to believe we'll be on the podium in 2016."

With more and more teams recognising EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour as a prime event on the global circuit, this unique Middle East sailing adventure is on the brink of progressing to a new level with the potential of an even larger, more competitive fleet next year.

Overall Results

EFG Bank (Monaco) 12pts
Team Averda (UK) 21.25pts
Zain (KUW) 29.50pts
TU Delft (NED) 29.75pts
Renaissance (OMA) 39pts
Al Thuraya (OMA) 41.75pts
Bienne Voile (SUI) 42.75pts
GAC powered by DongFeng (CHN) 44.50pts
OMIFCO (OMA) 64pts
Royal Navy Oman (OMA) 69pts
IMCO (OMA) 70.25pts

Published in Offshore

#SailingArabia – After 21 hours of racing, Ireland's top offshore sailor Damian Foxall on EFG Bank (Oman) has won the opening leg of the Tour of Arabia. Second was Royal Cork's David Kenefck as a driver/trimmer on Team Avera. 

The wind increased to eight knots for a time before the finish for Foxall to cross the line on a close reach with spinnakers up. Although winds remain light, the Race officer is optimistic that all eleven boats will finish within the time limit. 

As Afloat.ie reported a week ago, The Tour is contested in a fleet of Farr 30 yachts and visits marinas in the Arabian Gulf. The event started at Muscat, then follows the fleet to Sohar and around the Musandam Peninsula to the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain.

Published in Racing

#offshore – A record number of teams – including Ireland's Damian Foxall and David Kenefick–  will line up at the start of the annual EFG Sailing Arabia – the Tour (SATT) on February 15.

Cork based Kenefck will be a driver/ trimmer on Team Avera. Foxall is teamed up with the Oman crew. 

Since EFG SATT was first launched in 2011, the fleet has crossed the start line in Bahrain and finished in Oman's capital city of Muscat but in 2015, the 760 nautical mile route has been reversed with 11 boats starting their campaigns at Muscat's premier waterfront development The Wave.

They will finish approximately 15 days later at the Amwaj Marina in Manama, Bahrain's newest marina, having completed six legs and two inshore races across seven different stopovers, which showcase the best marinas and facilities in the Gulf region including a new venue at Sohar in Oman.

The course change for this unique endurance event was designed to create a more exacting test for sailors in the form of strong and sustained headwinds in the early stages of the race, a move that has resulted in a higher entry level among teams in Europe and the Gulf looking for challenging racing and training opportunities with warm waters and a stable breeze.

"It is a great opportunity to get to know a new sailing area and we were drawn by the prospect of spending some time in warm, sunny conditions during the long European winter," said Bienne Voile skipper Lorenz Muller.

"Also, the concept of combining inshore races with legs is just very attractive. EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour has become the perfect successor of the Tour de France a la Voile, which has now omitted the legs in its new format."

In 2014, Sidney Gavignet's EFG Bank (Monaco) were crowned SATT champions and this year, the French skipper has returned with a new team, assembled with two key objectives: to win the event for the second consecutive year and give three young Omani sailors an opportunity to race alongside world-class professionals.

"We will start as favourites which is fair enough because we won last year and I am comfortable with that. We have a good team and we are professionals so winning is very important," said Gavignet whose crew includes one of the most accomplished offshore sailors in the world, Damian Foxall from Ireland.

"The new route, which features more upwind sailing will be more tactical and also harder physically for the teams but that should favour us because of our offshore experience. The harder the route, the better it is for us."

The line-up for this year's EFG Sailing Arabia – the Tour, the only Pan-GCC offshore sailing race of its kind in the region, features six teams from Oman and one, ZAIN Kuwait from Kuwait. Team Averda is made up mainly of young British sailors skippered by German sailor Marcel Herrera while Bienne Voile will be flying the flag for Switzerland, Team Delft for The Netherlands and GAC powered by Dongfeng for China.

"We have a very solid team and our guys are going to love the Farr 30 because they are like a big dinghy," said GAC skipper Nick Moloney whose crew is made up mainly of Chinese Olympic class sailors.

"Night sailing could be interesting and there will be a lot of it during the 760nms course but that will be the same for most of the crews.

"Tactics will be difficult for anyone who hasn't sailed the course which is everyone because it is being run backwards! I'm sure there will be some struggles but this is new to us and we love new challenges."

"We like the concept of changing the route to make it more challenging being an upwind race, therefore a lot more strain will be put on the boats, crews and time limits in general," added Herrera who last year came second on the EU-flagged Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team.

"We would really like to compete with the top of the fleet, and even occasionally mix for the chances of a podium finish on some of the legs and inshore races."

The first 100 miles of the first leg from Muscat to the International Maritime College Oman, are expected to be upwind and tough while the next leg, which at 172 miles is the longest of the event, takes the fleet around the Musandam Peninsula to Ras Al Khaimah, where fishing boats and nets pose a real hazard. The boats then head off on short hops to Dubai where the first of two inshore race days will be staged, then to Abu Dhabi.

The Four Seasons Marina at Doha will host the next stopover and the winning team will be presented with their trophy at the finish in Bahrain on February 28th.

Schedule:

Leg 1 – 15th February, Muscat- Sohar
Leg 2 – 17th February, Sohar – RAK
Leg 3 – 19th February, RAK - Dubai
Leg 4 – 23rd February, Dubai - Abu Dhabi
Leg 5 – 24th February, Abu Dhabi – Doha
Leg 6 – 26th February, Doha - Manama

Published in Offshore
Tagged under

#sailing – I have been friends for a long number of years with Ireland's two top international sailors who set new speed records for sailing in the Round Britain and Ireland Race. 
I hear regularly from them and am proud to be in touch with them and, as much as I could, have publicised the progress of their careers over the years I have known them. I believe that giving coverage to successful achievements by Irish sailors at international level is good for the country and for the sport.

Damian Foxall from Kerry and Justin Slattery from Cork deserve to be household names as much as icons in other sports. But, like many sailors, they are not in my view, being given the level of coverage they deserve in the general national electronic and print media.

The progress of the Olympic Providence IRL team at overseas events should also be given more coverage. This week John Twomey from Kinsale YC and his crew have been competing at the world disabled sailing championships in Canada in the hopes of qualifying for his 11th consecutive Games, but this has got little coverage nationally.

Hurling, the Irish women's rugby team, the emergence of potential new stars in Irish athletics, all deserve strong reportage but do Irish sailors not deserve coverage also?

The media at sailing events when there are problems – the GP14 Worlds in Strangford Lough this month; Dun Laoghaire in 2007 are examples of a degree of sensationalised coverage which lacked balance. They were reported as "near disasters," but lacked the qualification that the majority of the sailors looked after themselves, as they are expected in sailing to be able to do. If you go out in a boat, I was told from my first days in sailing, you take the responsibility of getting yourself back in safely.

Sailing deserves better coverage in the national media. Is it being denied that by either ignorance or bias against sailing, or the seemingly ever-present perception of the sport as elitist?

There are sailing journalists who attempt to counterbalance the generally negative attitude towards the sport, but as I found myself when working within RTE, it is an uphill battle and, in an island nation, this is not fair to the sport.

Justin Slattery from Cork is Bowman and a leading member of the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Volvo Ocean 65, Azzam, skippered by Britain's Ian Walker, which crossed the finish line of the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race off the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes in an elapsed time of 4 days, 13 hours, 10 minutes, 28 seconds. This broke the previous world and race record for a monohull set by Volvo 70 Groupama, in 2010, by 1 day, 8 hours, 16 minutes and 27 seconds.

It was the second world speed record in sailing broken during the Round Britain and Ireland Race organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club and another Irishman was also involved in the first.

DAMIAN_MOD_70.jpg

Record breaking Damian Foxall and Oman MOD 70

Ireland's Damian Foxall added the Round Britain and Ireland Speed record time to his impressive offshore sailing CV on board the Oman Sail MOD 70 catamaran. The crew of Musandam-Oman Sail, a MOD70 Trimaran crossed the finish line of the race at with an elapsed time of 3 days, 3 hours, 32 minutes, 36 seconds. This broke the previous world record for a multihull held by Banque Populaire 5 in 2011, by 16 minutes, 38 seconds.

"We hit a new top speed for the boat of 43 knots right at the start," said Damian, Co-skipper on the boat. "The hard thing about a race record, as opposed to a course record, is that with a course record you can wait until the weather is perfect and you just go. In a racing format you don't have that option. The only time we tacked in an 1800-mile circular course was after we had gone through the finish line!""

The MOD70 was skippered by Sidney Gavignet from France, one of the top sailors in the world and who is heading next for the tough Atlantic race, the single-handed Route du Rhum.

It was not all plain sailing for Abu Dhabi's Azzam. Two crew members were hurt during the race. Justin Slattery injured his ribs while trimmer Phil Harmer injured his hand.

And let's not forget the National Yacht Club duo that, despite very heavy weather and suffering major gear failure have persevered in the Round Britain and Ireland Race. The story of their sporting commitment deserves national coverage. Liam Coyne raced two-handed with Brian Flahive on their First 36.7, Lula Belle and they showed a level of spirit and determination that would bring pride to any sport when they won the two handed division.

NEW HELVICK LIFEBOAT

Helvick is a lovely spot on the South-East Coast. A fine little harbour, dominated by fishing boats, with a few dedicated leisure sailors also. I am not too sure about the location of visitor moorings outside the harbour, but at many parts around the coast those could be located in better, more sheltered spots. But that is beside the point of why I am writing about Helvick which is because it has got a new lifeboat through a strong contact with an English family. It is an Atlantic 85, built at a cost of €255,000. It has a number of improvements from the Atlantic 75, Helvick Head's former lifeboat, including a faster top speed of 35 knots; radar; provision for a fourth crew member and more space for survivors. It can operate safely in daylight in up to force 7 conditions and at night up to force 6. It also allows lifeboat crews to respond even faster in emergencies.

RNLB_Robert__Armstron.jpg

The new RNLB in Helvick and below the late Robert Armstrong after whom the new lifeboat, an Atlantic 85, is being launched in his name at Helvick Head lifeboat station

Robert_Armstrong.jpg

Its name is Robert Armstrong and it was funded by a legacy he left after his death in November of 2009. Born in 1936, he loved sailing, fishing and boats. His home was Blackheath but he had a holiday home in Potter Heigham on the Norfolk Broads, where he moored his own boat. There is a strong connection between the Armstrong family and Helvick. Robert Armstrong's aunt, Alice and her brother Charles, were the donors of Alice and Charles, Helvick Head RNLI's previous lifeboat and Robert had attended the naming ceremony there back in 2000 when he was given an RNLI jacket which he wore proudly.

CROW HEAD'S CABLE CAR

Paul O'Shea has written to me about an event at Crow Head:

"Hi Tom, I would like to promote an event on Crow Head on September 6. Lehanmore Community Coop want to replicate the first ever Cable Car crossing from there to the adjoining island. It will be a joint effort between Kerry Mountain Rescue and Castletownbere Coastguard Unit with the help of Castletownbere RNLI. All funds raised will be donated to KMRT."

HONOUR FOR JOHN TWOMEY

The decision to introduce a "President's Cup" event to honour John Twomey is well-deserved and recognises the achievements of Irish sailors, about which I have written earlier in this week's blog. Sailability Ireland, in conjunction with the ISA, has launched 'The Presidents Cup,' a new championship to encourage sailors with disabilities to compete in the classes sailed at Paralympic and international level.
'The Presidents Cup' has been named in honour of 10-time Paralympian and current President of the International Disabled Sailing Association, John Twomey from Kinsale Yacht Club. A team of 10 sailors from each of the four Irish provinces will compete in four different classes; the Hansa 303, SKUD 18, Squib and Sonar for this prestigious prize. Kinsale Yacht Club has kindly agreed to host this inaugural event which will be held on September 6 and 7. In 2013 the Club hosted the IFDS Disabled World Sailing Championships to incredible success and this event will form part of that legacy. Six races will be sailed and the team that has the best results in the four classes will be crowned champions. The event is being sponsored by Kingspan. A number of places are still available for both sailors with disabilities and volunteers who would like to participate in the championship. For more information Email: [email protected]

Sailability Ireland and the ISA are hoping that the event will encourage more sailors along the path to international competition. Supporting the availability of the sport to those with disabilities delivers on the commitment to sailing being a "sport for all". I remember the first time I reported on a disabled sailing event and how one lady competitor put me in my place when I asked her did she find it difficult to sail and she rightly responded: "Out on the water in a boat I am every bit as good as you!"

LOVE LIGHT AT A GREAT HEIGHT!

The tours of Ballycotton Lighthouse which began this Summer from the East Cork fishing village to the offshore island lighthouse have proved very popular, but now they are becoming a location for the lovelorn to commit their future!

A couple from Plymouth, Devon, became the first in history to announce their engagement at the top of the Llighthouse. During the scheduled noonday tour last Wednesday, 23-year-old Ryan Johnson proposed to 21-year-old Rebecca Daly on the lighthouse balcony and she accepted. They have a 5-month-old daughter, Lyra and were visiting friends in Ballycotton.

ballycotton_lighthouse.jpg

Happy couple back at ground level at Ballycotton lighthouse Ryan Johnson and Rebecca Daly on Ballycotton lighthouse

"Great to see romance is alive and well," said Derry Keogh, retired Ballycotton School Headmaster and local historian, who was the guide on their midday sailing trip to the island. "What a location to pop the question! When they heard about it, all the other tour visitors who were there gathered round and we sang 'Congratulations' - Phil Coulter maybe looking for royalties! This made it a double first for Ballycotton Island Lighthouse - the first ever sing song on the lookout tower!"

Since beginning in early July this year, the Ballycotton Island Lighthouse Tours have proved a great success with over 1,700 visitors hearing about the history of the lighthouse and seeing the view from the previously inaccessible lighthouse lantern balcony and island. This is an economic boost for the fishing village, both in profile and for local businesses.

VOLVO REPORTER

Irish sailing photographer and cameraman Brian Carlin has been appointed the Onboard Reporter with Team Vestas Wind for this year's Volvo Race. He has worked with the biggest names in the sailing world and on some of the biggest races.

Chris Nicholson, the four-time race veteran, who skippered Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand in the last edition of the race, will lead Team Vestas Wind, a campaign sponsored by Vestas, the Danish wind energy company. This is the seventh team in this year's Volvo round-the-world which begins with an In-Port Race on October 4 in Alicante, Spain.

SEAFOOD EFFICIENCY

And speaking about fishing and seafood which is increasing its attraction to consumers, retailers who sell fish are being urged to take part in a new scheme by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Irish Sea Fisheries Board, the State agency with responsibility for developing the sea fishing and aquaculture industries. This is the
"BIM Green Seafood Business Programme," aimed at assisting seafood businesses to reduce their environmental impact and save on energy costs. ""Making seafood processes more sustainable can improve a business 'bottom line' by reducing costs and enhancing their environmental reputation," says BIM.

In conjunction with Green Business and SEAI, BIM I are hosting a series of FREE, half-day seminars to assist Seafood Retailers. They will be held in Dublin on Tuesday, October 14 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dublin Airport; and in Cork on Thursday October 16, at the Park Inn, Cork International Airport. Advance booking is required as places are limited. For more information and to book, contact Lorraine O'Byrne in BIM on 01 2144185 or email [email protected]

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Tom MacSweeney, @AfloatMagazine

Published in Island Nation

#rorcsrbi – At 0700 BST, Damian Foxall's Musandam-Oman Sail was just 100 miles from finishing the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. The MOD 70 was experiencing about 15 knots of northwesterly winds in the English Channel. Musandam-Oman Sail was still achieving a speed of 25 knots but the wind angle meant a considerable number of gybes, drastically reducing their VMG. The team have approximately five and a half hours to cover the last 100 miles; it is too close to call if they can make the line before 12:59:14 to set a new world record. 

Azzam skipper, Ian Walker confirmed that another goal is within their sights during a satellite phone call to the RORC Media Team at 0600 BST:

"We are just rounding the Blasket Islands off the South West tip of Ireland, which seems incredible seeing as we only left Cowes less than 3 days ago," commented Ian. "We now have our running spinnaker up and conditions onboard have improved markedly. We have caught up on some sleep, eaten some food and are set up for what should be our last day and a bit at sea. We have wriggled away from the chasing pack overnight and now have a nice lead which we will aim to defend from here. It seems clear that the prize at stake is not just the first Volvo 65 but will also be the race record for whoever gets there first."

Ian Walker is referring to the monohull race record, set by Franck Cammas' Groupama in 2010 of 5 days 21 hours, 26 minutes and 55 seconds.

There is a battle royal going on between the chasing pack led by Team Dongfeng, skippered by Charles Caudrelier, SCA, skippered by Sam Davies, and Alvimedica, skippered by Charlie Enright. Rounding St.Kilda, SCA made a big gain. Dongfeng and Alvimedica gybed to the east, presumably to get a better wind angle, but SCA went almost all the way to the North Hebridian island of North Uist and looked to be in better pressure and angle of attack. The problem was laying the next mark, Blackrock, but SCA looked to get lifted off the land on the North West coast of Ireland and crossed in front of Alvimedica, making a 30 mile gain from St.Kilda to Blackrock. The all-female team on SCA have until 20:40:53 on Sunday 17th August to take the outright record for the fastest all-female team around Britain and Ireland. The current record is held by IMOCA 60, Aviva, which set it in 2009 and with two of the Team SCA crew onboard: Dee Caffari and Sam Davies.

IRC Overall
Yesterday evening there was a dramatic change in the weather conditions which will have a big impact on the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. Shortly before dusk, the southwesterly breeze that had provided fast reaching conditions backed to the west, then northwest. For those competitors still in the North Sea, this meant beating into headwinds. For the faster yachts already around the top of the course, downwind conditions prevailed. At approximately 1330 BST yesterday Jens Kellinghusen's Ker 51, Varuna, was the last yacht to reach the crucial turning point at Out Stack before the wind inversion and in doing so retains the overall lead under IRC. Realistically, looking at the weather scenario, only two canting keel flyers can now beat Varuna on corrected time. Andrew Budgen and Fred Schwyn's Volvo 70, Monster Project, and Brian Thompson's IMOCA 60, Artemis-Team Endeavour. However the two yachts are experiencing a period of light winds off the North West coast of Ireland, much to the advantage of Varuna which has a far lower handicap. Both of the canting keel challengers have moveable ballast while for Varuna to get in their winning position the crew would have been fully hiked out, especially in the early part of the race in the North Sea.

Poles Apart
This morning 14 yachts are making slow progress, beating into a cold north wind in the North Sea. The JV52 Hapsa Hamburg, skippered by Katrin Hilbert, and Class40, Swish, skippered by Roderick Knowles are close to rounding Mucka Flugga. At the back of the pack, two yachts are having a close battle and were contacted the RORC Media Team yesterday.

Ian Hoddle's Figaro II Rare, sailed with just two crew, is the smallest yacht in the race while Ross Applebey's Oyster 48, Scarlet Logic, is a fully crewed and heavy displacement yacht. The two yachts are poles apart in terms design and crew but both are enjoying a tremendous battle in IRC Two. In the fast downwind conditions, Rare is lightweight and able to plane but with the upwind conditions, Scarlet Logic's displacement will come to the fore.

"The adrenaline has subsided and life on board is now routine," commented Ian Hoddle by satellite phone. "When we rounded Lowerstoft on day two our focus was on catching Scarlet Logic who had a 7 mile lead during the first night. With a rhumb line reach, we reeled them in as we navigated through the banks off Yarmouth. It seemed to take forever to finally pass them within a few hundred metres and then our courses diverged, as we went further inshore.

In the late afternoon the front came through with a bad squall. We had timed to perfection the change from Jib Top to J4, so the effects of the 35 knot blast were contained. A second front passed through and left us with 25 knots S/W, so at around 19.00 we finally got some colour in the sky with the pink A4 hoisted. A fantastic blast doing 16+ knots at times. By 22.30 the sky had darkened again, so we dropped the A4, just in time for 30+ knots with gusts. A great day for calling the sail changes!

Yesterday we continued to make great progress up the Eastern coast of the UK. 25 knots S/W clocked left and around lunchtime we found the low pressure system forecast. Big uncomfortable sea state with 30 knots building to nearly 40 made a tough afternoon. With two reefs in the main, we battled some really big breaking waves. With the wind clocking West and now N/W, we are in upwind mode trying to hold the rhumb line to the Shetlands. Scarlet Logic has returned back in AIS range and has reeled us back in!

Both the boat and ourselves are very damp. Off watch is spent cat-napping on spinnaker bags on the cabin floor - it's like sleeping in a washing machine....Looks like this is going to be the norm for a while now: Muckle Flugga, 196 miles to go."

Ross Applebey's Oyster 48, Scarlet Logic, has taken part in thousands of miles of RORC races in recent years and Ross spoke to the RORC Media Team from the yacht, 200 miles from Muckle Flugga and beating into a cold northwesterly wind. "This is the toughest race I have done - if you asked me right now if this is a good race to do, I would say that the RORC Caribbean 600 would be a better call - it's a bit bumpy out here!" joked Ross. "It is now getting colder, especially tonight, it will be thermals and full kit on the rail. We will have to dig in its going to be another seven maybe eight days before we finish and I am looking forward to a beer."

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland

#rorcsrbi – Big celebrations in Cowes this lunchtime as Ireland's Damian Foxall added the Round Britain and Ireland Speed record time to his impressive offshore sailing CV on board the scratch boat, the Oman Sail MOD 70.

It came down to the wire as the giant MOD claimed the record but with only minutes to spare.

The crew of Musandam-Oman Sail, a MOD70 Trimaran crossed the finish line of the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race off the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes at 12.42.36 BST on Thursday 14th August 2014 with an elapsed time of 3 days, 03 hours, 32 minutes, 36 seconds. This breaks the previous World Record for a multihull held by Banque Populaire 5 in 2011, by 16 minutes, 38 seconds and is subject to ratification by the World Speed Sailing Record Council.

At 0850 this morning the Kerryman still had 80nm to go and even with boat speeds of 29 knots there was still doubts the MOD 70 could finish before 12:59:14 to claim the record. 

During mid–morning, as some pundits still expected the record to tumble, Foxall reported he was an hour from St Catherines Point and still pushing very hard. Ominously, the crew were expecting winds to get a bit lighter ahead with 42nm to go. It added perfectly to the drama of the three day record breaking dash of over 1,800 miles.

At noon, the giant Oman Sail Trimaran gybed for the finish line, hearts sinking at the prospect of Foxall missing the record by minutes. 

With 50 mins to go and 11 miles to the finish it was nail biting stuff. The MOD was doing 23 knots, but crucially the breeze was SW breeze giving the weary crew a beat against the tide.  

At 12.30 the distance was only 4.4nm with 28 minutes left to claim the record. The situation now looked much more promising than it had done only half an hour earlier. At 12.45 there was just a mile of their 1800 mile odyssey left to sail.

In the end, there was a margin of quarter of an hour. They had done it! Oman Sail had line honours and beaten the world record by 16m 38s, significantly in a boat 60ft shorter than the previous record holder.

It was almost unthinkable that a 70ft trimaran, with no ability to decide when to start, could defeat a 140ft trimaran that had decided exactly when to set off. However a fantastic boat, a perfect performance and an extraordinary series of coincidences lined up to make the impossible a reality.

Co–Skipper, Sidney Gavignet:

"I didn't think this was possible but we had exceptional conditions and a boat with amazing potential that was used properly. I know this course well because I have the solo record for the Round Britain and Ireland. I like it; it is a great course, very challenging, and I am very thankful to Sevenstar and the RORC for organising this race. Loick Peyron was the record holder and he phoned me after we crossed the line to say congratulations. He is a gentleman and someone I really respect as a sailor and a person but I know he will want his record back!

We have been the only multihull this time but I hope all of the others will now think that they should have been here, maybe next time they will. The Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland is a great event and very well managed and nothing needs to be changed, especially not the weather.

I am especially pleased for the three Omani crew. Fahad has been with the MOD 70 from the beginning of the project and we know each other well and we have made a lot of progress. We crossed an ocean twice together and he is experienced. With Sammi and Yasser, we did the Tour of Arabia together a few years ago. They are nice boys but at the time I thought there was no chance that they could make it in a boat like this. They went to Kiel with Damian (Foxall) to do some corporate sailing but that was their only experience before this race. Now I am so impressed with them, I have totally changed my mind - they have great potential because they understand the boat and the big loads involved. Their attitude is great and despite very rough conditions they were not seasick. I am so happy for Oman Sail.

Looking to the future, the Route du Rhum is the big race for Musandam-Oman Sail and in February we have the Tour of Arabia in Farr 30s. With regards to the RORC Caribbean 600, which is at the same time as the Tour of Arabia, we are thinking about it. This boat is made for the Caribbean 600 and it is always nice to show the boat to new people; on that course she would be a bird that can fly higher! We have not finalised our programme for next year but it is possible."

Co–Skipper Damian Foxall:

"We hit a new top speed for the boat of 43 knots right at the start. You really need the right conditions, perfect trim and the time to set that up to get to that speed and we hardly ever dropped below 25 knots the whole way round. Jan Dekker has done a huge amount of multihull sailing, including winning the America's Cup but when we were blasting down the West coast of Ireland, he turned to me and said, 'Don't you think Sidney should be thinking about preserving the boat for the Route du Rhum?' I said, 'Go and tell him that, he's going for the record right now!' We had in the back of our minds that it was possible - a long shot but it wasn't until we got to the Fastnet, where the wind was not as light as we expected, we were still doing 30 knots and we were thinking - OK this could be possible!

The hard thing about a race record, as opposed to a course record, is that with a course record, you can wait until the weather is perfect and you just go. In a racing format you don't have that option; it is an amazing coincidence that we have had this weather pattern precisely when a race, that is only run every four years, was taking place. Even the tides were with us at the start and the finish! This record was on because of an amazing series of coincidences; the final incredible fact is that the only time we tacked in an 1800 mile circular course was after we had gone through the finish line!

MOD 70 Musandam-Oman Sail crew
Skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) and team mates Yassir Al Rahbi (OMA), Sami Al Shukaili (OMA), Fahad Al Hasni (OMA), Jan Dekker (SA), and co-skipper Damian Foxall (IRL)

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland

At 1230 BST, Damian Foxall's Musandam-Oman Sail were 520 miles from the finish of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. To set a new outright World Record, the MOD 70 needs to cross the Royal Yacht Squadron Line by 12:59:14 tomorrow (14th August).

Musandam-Oman Sail has been on the charge all morning and last night averaged over 25 knots, hitting a top speed of 35 knots. At that pace the World Record would be broken by over 3 hours. Before the famous Trimaran left Cowes on Monday morning, Foxall told Afloat.ie a record breaking time was on the cards.

During the third night of the race, a northwesterly breeze of about 19 knots is expected in the Celtic Sea, which should be enough to keep Musandam-Oman Sail on for the record and make landfall at The Lizard around midnight tonight. During the night, the wind is expected to go lighter and back to the west, which could make for a dramatic last few hours as Musandam-Oman Sail round the Isle of Wight, before crossing the finish line from the east.

County Kerry's Damian Foxall called the RORC by satellite phone earlier today while racing at full pelt against the clock, past his native Ireland on the MOD 70.

"We are just 15 miles from Blackrock, in sunshine on the West Coast of Ireland. I can see Galway and Connemara to leeward," commented Damian. "The wind has just lined up beautifully and we haven't really needed to gybe, so we are just going straight, corner to corner, towards the next mark, Tearaght Island. We have the inkling of an idea that it might be possible, in a dream world, to beat Banque Populaire's record. We are pushing hard, towards near where I grew up; Bull Rock. With the wind going lighter and to the west, we will be dead down wind, which will mean a lot of gybes, but we will see how tomorrow goes; for now we are keeping alive the idea that we can break the course record."

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Volvo Ocean 65, Azzam, continues to lead the charge and has extended their lead on Team Campos, skippered by Iker Martinez, to over 30 miles. Ian Walker's team has a bevy of outstanding drivers, whom Walker praised when he spoke to the RORC Media team by satellite phone.

"10 miles until we can bear away at St Kilda and the thrashing will subside," commented Ian. "It was a tough night with up to 36 knots of wind and sustained periods of 30+. We have continued to push the boat as hard as we can - only once backing off as it felt like we were going to shake everything to pieces. I think it is paying good dividends having so many capable helmsmen, as we are going well. It is pretty intense on the body and mind. Most of the helmsmen's hands are in tatters for a start!"

Brian Thompson, skipper of IMOCA 60 Artemis-Team Endeavour, contacted the RORC Media Team as they rounded Out Stack. At their current projected finish time, Artemis-Team Endeavour will break the IMOCA 60 record, set in 2010, by over 24 hours.

"We haven't gone upwind since the start and, as we arrived at Muckle Flugga, the breeze switched around 180 degrees and we still haven't!" explained Brian. "I have held the overall record three times, including onboard Banque Populaire, so to add the IMOCA record would be fantastic. It's looking hopeful; four years ago it took Artemis two and a half days to get up to the top of the course, so we are already 12 hours ahead of their track. Apart from some bad sea-state plugging the tide at Great Yarmouth, we have been up to full pace. Right now, we are just taking it a leg at a time but we think we will be in Cowes for a Sunday Roast."

The competitors' blogs tell the story of the race through the words and pictures sent back by the fleet and one of the more humorous stories is told by Jankees Lampe's whose Open 40, La Promesse, is leading IRC One and currently 150 miles from Muckle Flugga. Earlier today, the Dutch skipper blogged about the culinary delights on board and the special dietary demands of his fellow Two-Handed crew.

"Bart Boosman's famous omelette (breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, whenever)
1. onions 2. onions 3. Red Leicester (cheddar) 4. eggs 5. pepper & salt 6. onions
The cooking is acrobatics. But, both Bart and I, prefer shaken, not stirred."

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland

#rorcsrbi – Liam Coyne's First 36.7 Lula Belle, racing Two-Handed with Brian Flahive, is just west of Sunderland with 1450 miles to go, which means that the Dublin Bay pair from the National Yacht Club will have about a week at sea before they finish the Round Britain and Ireland race in one of the smallest boats in the fleet. From the start, Damian Foxall's Oman Sail-Musandam had 3 days and 3 hours to complete the course for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race to set a new world record.

On Day Three of the race the trimaran's three hulls, sailed by Foxall, two British expats and three Omanis, are continuing to hammer on south. The lightening quick MOD 70 has hit the turbo charger, screaming along at 30 knots off the North West coast of Ireland. Currently Musandam - Oman Sail's expected finish time is approximately 1000 on Thursday morning, three hours inside the world record set by Loick Peyron's 140ft trimaran, Banque Populaire 5, in 2011.

"Records are there to be broken and it would be an honour to be bettered by such a great team," commented Loick Peyron by telephone to the Royal Ocean Racing Club. "Perhaps if they do set a new record it will also be good for the race. It will encourage other multihulls to come and try it - it is a fantastic course."

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam is leading the fighter formation of Volvo Ocean 65s that have now all rounded Out Stack and are heading home. At dawn this morning Azzam was passing Sula Sgeir, a remote island that marks the halfway point in the race and is best known for its population of gannets. However it is unlikely that the Volvo Ocean 65s, blasting along at over 25 knots, will have the chance to do much bird watching. Ian Walker, skipper of Azzam, called the RORC Media Team just after rounding Muckle Flugga at 2000 yesterday.

"The decisive factor in the race so far has been sail selection and timing of sail changes," commented Ian Walker. "Obviously you have got to go the right way, but that all ties in with where you decide to go and what sails you want to be on and then you can concentrate on putting the hammer down.

This has been a really tough race so far, right from the start, but we were all fresh for that and the North Sea was non-stop navigational decisions with oil rigs and sand banks on top of heavy conditions and sail changes. It is all about ragging it on deck, coping with the non-stop spray and pushing the boat as hard as we can. One thing we have seen in this race that we haven't seen in practice is being so close to the Spanish team - relaxing for just five minutes reflects in a loss.

The biggest call so far was as we approached Muckle Flugga, we stayed more to the west than the Spanish team. We spent four or five hours with the big sail on trying to get west so that we didn't get sucked up into the low pressure. We knew that as long as we had good wind speed we were inside the shift and, when we eventually gybed, the distance between us would become our lee. In the end the gybe call was very, very, difficult as the wind was very shifty. We gybed as late as we dared and just managed to just get round the top of the rocks. Navigating around a headland like that, with a 100 degree wind shift, was about as difficult as it gets and our navigator Si Fi (Simon Fisher) nailed it - we made quite a big gain."

IRC Overall
Jens Kellinghusen's German Ker 51 Varuna, racing in IRC Zero, is the new overall leader for the 20 strong IRC fleet. After time correction Varuna made the top of the leader board yesterday evening and, on the morning of Day Three, Varuna is estimated to have an eight hour advantage over Andrew Budgen and Fred Schwyn's Volvo 70, Monster Project.

However at 0700 BST, Varuna was still 70 miles from Out Stack with a complex weather scenario in front of them while Monster Project rounded Out Stack at about 0500 into the fresh northerly breeze and will almost certainly gain many miles on Varuna over the next seven hours or so.

Class40
Burkhard Keese's Stella Nova has retired with boat damage and they are making their way to Den Helder in Holland, expecting to arrive there before dusk tonight. This leaves Roderick Knowles' Swish as the only Class40 still racing. The British Class40 is expected to round Out Stack in the early evening. The highly experienced crew on board include South African Nick Leggatt, with three circumnavigations including the Class40 Global Ocean Race. He is joined by Ian Munslow with one circumnavigation, two Transats and a Route du Rhum, and Paul Peggs who has over 40 years of offshore racing including two Mini-Transats. So far Swish is on course to shatter the Class40 record set by Concise 2 in 2010.

IRC One
Jankees Lampe's Open 40, La Promesse, is the runaway class leader and currently enjoying a blast past Aberdeen in the North Sea at over 10 knots. Darren McLaughlin's Hanse 531, Saga, has made good progress overnight and is currently due east of Edinburgh. Saga is skippered by Peter Hopps, who has competed in every RORC Caribbean 600 and 12 Rolex Fastnet Races and the crew of Saga have been training for the race all season. For them, just finishing the Sevenstar Round Britain Race is their 'Everest'.

"So, we started on Monday morning at 9 o'clock when the rest of the world was going back to work... of course we are happy!" commented Peter by satellite connection. "Everyone enjoyed the spectacle of the start and the speed of the VO 65s and the trimaran, which was really impressive. Unfortunately we were taking our spinnaker down when the Volvos came past so we were a bit preoccupied! That sail has remained firmly in its bag since then - we had a good run up the Channel under poled out headsail which was very effective. We've been at sea for a while now and have settled into our watch system. We're all quite happy and heartily glad we are going anti-clockwise. It looks like we'll have to beat the last bit up to the Shetlands, but we're all here for the experience, which should include beating!!"

IRC Two
Ian Hoddle's Figaro II Rare, racing Two-Handed, leads IRC Two on the water. At sunset last night, just off North Yorkshire, Rare, the smallest yacht in the race, gybed offshore to cover Ross Applebey's Scarlet Logic, which had been making big gains. Through the night Rare led the way, just a few miles ahead of their bigger rivals, and this morning at 0700 BST Rare was six miles ahead of Scarlet Logic. However, after time correction, Scarlet Logic is still leading the class.

IRC Three and Four
Liam Coyne's First 36.7 Lula Belle, racing Two-Handed with Brian Flahive, is just west of Sunderland with 1450 miles to go, which means that the Irish pair will have about a week at sea before they finish the course. Rob Hammomd's J/109, Ruag White Knight 7, crewed by the Royal Armoured Corps YC is currently leading IRC Three on corrected time, and are four miles ahead of Keith Gibbs' C&C 115, Change of Course, sailed by David Dyer.

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland

#rorcsrbi – The decision to postpone this morning's Round Britain and Ireland race leaves the 1880–mile course and race record wide open, according to the co-skipper of the fastest boat in the race. Ireland's Damian Foxall, a former Volvo Ocean Race winner, says routing shows a possible three day circumnavigation time opeing up all sorts of record possibilities for the marathon course.

Foxall's scratch boat crew, racing on Musandam-Oman Sail, the Sultanate of Oman's flagship campaign, had already made the decision to postpone its own start for 24 hours before RORC organisers issued their own blanket postponement. 'We saw very strong winds for 24 hours so we had already opted for to delay our start until tomorrow', he told Afloat.ie, this morning.

The postponement, says Ireland's top Ocean sailor, means anti–clockwise winds for the whole voyage and possibly no upwind sailing at all. Foxall believes it will be reaching conditions all the way to Scotland. Then the wind is to clock north–easterly at the most northerly point of the course opening up further fast sailing times later next week.

Meanwhile, it has been a cracking day in Cowes today with sun shining and a top wind speed of 30 knots.

Irish skipper Liam Coyne, in the First 36.7 Lulabelle, acknowledged that they bow to RORC when it comes to safety and recognise RORC felt it would hit the 50's in the channel today but at the same time Coyne says he would have 'preferred to go today as the strong winds were on our backs and our plans were showing a 9 day race with us rounding Shetlands by Wednesday/ Thursday and catching the north westerly's down the west coast of Ireland'.

'The day delay for us [Liam Coyne/Brian Flahive] means we will hit the low pressure in north east later in the week and not get down the west coast till Saturday Sunday next and have 30knts on the nose. So while some may set records it has definitely made out job much more difficult', the Irish skipper said.

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland
Page 5 of 9

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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