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Christophe Bullens Set To Restart Velux 5 Oceans Sprint Two

December 19th, 2010

AFTER an amazing effort by a team of volunteers on the dock in Cape Town working to fix his yacht Five Oceans of Smiles too, Belgian ocean racer Christophe Bullens is set to restart sprint two of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. The 49-year-old was forced to head back to Cape Town on Friday with rudder problems, just over 24 hours after starting the 7,500 nautical mile sprint to New Zealand.

On his return yesterday to the South African port, the second of the five VELUX 5 OCEANS hostports, a team of local volunteers jumped into action to help prepare Christophe’s Eco 60 yacht for the gruelling second leg which takes the fleet through the mighty Southern Ocean. The yacht’s twin rudders were removed countless times by the tireless helpers trying to sort problems with their alignment.

One of the volunteers was Cape Town marine engineer Allan Brink who has given his time generously since Christophe arrived in Cape Town early in December. Allan and his wife own the yacht Voortrekker II which did the BOC Challenge (the forerunner to the VELUX 5 OCEANS) in 1986 as Tuna Marine with South African solo sailor John Martin. Also helping out was Glenn Drewry, a fitter, turner and tool maker, along with Cape Town harbour master Steven Bentley and his crew Chris Roux.

Christophe is due to go for a test sail this morning where he will calibrate his autopilots. Then if all is well he will head off to join the rest of the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet en route to New Zealand. Christophe will face a south easterly breeze blowing around 30 knots when he restarts. The rest of the ocean racers are currently stuck trying to fight through a high pressure system blocking their route to the prevailing westerlies they need to send them to Wellington.

The Farr 30 Worlds are coming to San Francisco!

December 18th, 2010

The Farr 30 International One Design Class Association is pleased to announce that the prestigious St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, California will host the 2011 Farr 30 World Championship in conjunction with the renowned Rolex Big Boat Series, September 8th to 11th.

This will mark the first time in the history of the Class that they will see a World Championship held on the west coast of the United States.  San Francisco Bay, with her notorious breeze and strong current is an ideal venue to showcase what the Farr 30 was built for.  

“I am truly delighted to have the pleasure of working with the St. Francis Yacht Club and Race Manager John Craig on this historic event.  The St. Francis Yacht Club have a long history of hosting world class events with generous hospitality and this is an honor.  Racing on the Bay is always a challenging and exciting  venture and I couldn’t be happier about the venue” said Farr 30 International Class President Deneen Demourkas.

As further information becomes available it will be posted on the Farr 30 International Class website www.farr30.org


December 17th, 2010

Fleet still bunched after one day’s racing

CANADIAN ocean racer Derek Hatfield has reclaimed the lead less than 24 hours into the second sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. Keen to make up for a slow start at the beginning of sprint one in La Rochelle, the veteran solo sailor was the first of the international fleet to cross the start line of the second leg in Cape Town on Active House.

It was a tough start to the Southern Ocean sprint with light airs dogging the skippers as they tried to steal any advantage they could over their rivals as the five Eco 60 yachts headed south from the start. Polish ocean racer Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski on Operon Racing looked to have the advantage as the fleet passed Robben Island but it was American ocean sprint one winner Brad Van Liew on Le Pingouin who emerged in front at the first six-hourly position report.

However it was all change again by midnight UTC: despite Brad being further south than Derek and Gutek, Active House was more to the east and leading Operon Racing by just under one nautical mile with Le Pingouin in third 2.4 nautical miles behind. British skipper Chris Stanmore-Major on Spartan and Belgian ocean racer Christophe Bullens on Five Oceans of Smiles too were both 15 nautical miles behind the leading yacht, CSM opting for a more southerly route while Christophe took a more easterly heading.

All five skippers will face patchy light winds as they punch through a high pressure system which currently blocks their paths to the stronger westerly winds that they are searching for. The Cape Town to Wellington sprint, the second of five that make up the VELUX 5 OCEANS, is around 7,500 nautical miles with the first yachts expected to arrive in New Zealand in early January.


December 16th, 2010

Ocean racers to take on Southern Ocean in sprint to Wellington

THE second sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS solo round the world yacht race got underway from Cape Town today bound for Wellington in New Zealand. With the iconic Table Mountain providing a stunning backdrop, the fleet of five international ocean racers crossed the start line beginning a gruelling 7,000 nautical mile sprint across the Southern Ocean through some of the worst weather conditions known to man.

The original start of ocean sprint two had been planned for Sunday but it was postponed due to gale-force winds and huge seas off the coast of South Africa. The VELUX 5 OCEANS race committee constantly monitored the weather forecasts until they felt there was a suitable window in the weather to allow for a safe race start.

The fleet set sail from Cape Town in their 60ft Eco 60 yachts in around 15 knots of breeze from the South East. Canada’s Derek Hatfield on Active House was the first to cross the line, with a strong start that will make-up for his poor start in La Rochelle. He led the five impressive ocean racing yachts out of Table Bay and into open water where the wind dropped considerably in the shadow of the mountain. Tactics will now come into play with all five skippers trying to find some breeze to take them on.

Sprint one winner, Brad Van Liew on Le Pingouin followed Derek over the line, and a smiling Christophe Bullens on Five Oceans of Smiles Too was third, with this his first start with the entire fleet obviously meaning a lot to him.  Gutek (Zbigniew Gutkowski) and Operon Racing was next and finally Chris Stanmore-Major aboard Spartan who struggled to get his main sail up and lost momentum on his way to the start line.

Prior to leaving the dock, ocean sprint one winner Brad Van Liew could not be drawn on his tactics for the next leg. The 42-year old American has twice competed in the VELUX 5 OCEANS prior to this event, winning class two in the 2002/3 edition of the race.

“I’m just going to go out there, sail my boat and try to stay safe,” said Brad, skipper of Le Pingouin. “Safety is the key to this leg. I’m very competitive by nature so I will just see what happens once I’m there. I’m not going to go out all aggressive with a bone in my teeth. I think I’ll just get stuck into it and let the cycle of the leg do its own thing.”

Canadian ocean racer Derek Hatfield, skipper of Active House, was facing up to the prospect of Christmas alone at sea. “It will be a bit emotional but I will be able to call in,” the 58-year-old father of four said. “It’s a special day at home but for me it’s just another day racing. All the days meld together so when you’re alone at sea there is no real special day. It’s just another race day.”

Howling winds, freezing temperatures and mountainous seas await the skippers as they head south from Cape Town into the notorious Roaring Forties and Screaming Fifties, named so because of the sheer force of the winds that are found in those latitudes. The Southern Ocean is the only ocean in the world that is not constricted by land allowing waves and wind to mount up as they circumnavigate the globe unimpeded.

Run by Clipper Ventures PLC, the VELUX 5 OCEANS started from La Rochelle in France in October and features five ocean sprints. After heading from La Rochelle to Cape Town, the race is now headed for Wellington in New Zealand. Following that the race takes in Salvador in Brazil and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France. The 2010/11 edition of the race is the eighth its 28-year history. 

Skippers’ quotes:

Brad Van Liew:

“The second leg is a tough one to prepare for mentally because it is so different to leg one. This time round we have to face extreme winds and seas and cold. I’m definitely more apprehensive than I was at the start in France. This leg is about getting down south and once you’re there there’s only one way to go. It’s a bit like jumping off a high dive – you’ve just got to commit to it. It is a daunting leg to get into. I’m just going to go out there, sail my boat and try to stay safe. Safety is the key to this leg. I’m very competitive by nature so I will just see what happens once I’m there. I’m not going to go out all aggressive with a bone in my teeth. I think I’ll just get stuck into it and let the cycle of the leg do its own thing.”

Derek Hatfield:

“You never want to be too over-confident with these things because it can be the kiss of bad luck but the boat is ready and I am ready to leave. The weather is making everyone a bit nervous and going into the south you can’t underestimate the weather. I have been there twice and it’s one of those places that if I never went to again I wouldn’t feel too bad! First of all you don’t want to go there and as soon as you get there you want to get away from it. I feel a bit of nervousness but I just have to put it to one side and get on with the job and get through the start. The start is always a nervous time because you have boats romping around on the start line often in breezy conditions and also each skipper wants to be the first across the line. It’s important to get across the line cleanly and then settle things down, get into a routine, get round the Cape and then south of 40 degrees into the westerlies and then high-tail it to Wellington and be there right after the New Year.
“Leg one was a bit of a trauma for me because I struggled through the first couple of weeks before I found my stride. I found myself in third place and a little bit behind. I was able to maintain third place but I’m hoping for better positioning in the next leg. I’m not saying I’m going to be first or second necessarily but I am hoping to be nearer the front and pushing harder and be a lot more competitive.
“I don’t feel too bad about spending Christmas away from my family. I have been away for Christmas before – all these major ocean races seem to involve being away for Christmas. It will be a bit emotional but I will be able to call in. I know the kids will be with Patianne and their grandparents and having a good time. It’s a special day at home but for me it’s just another day racing. All the days meld together so when you’re alone at sea there is no real special day. It’s just another race day.”

Christophe Bullens:

“I’m a little bit nervous about ocean sprint two because of the weather conditions and also the boat is not yet 100 per cent ready so I am a little bit stressed. The good thing is I know the boat better now than I did when I left La Rochelle. In that respect the second leg should be easier for me.”

Chris Stanmore-Major:

“The big challenge of ocean sprint two is going to be the conditions, the terrain we will be going through. The Southern Ocean is mountainous; it’s part of the world where the seas can orbit without stopping. You get huge seas building up, massive winds, and waves that are taller than the top of the mast. It’s going to be very hard on the boat and very hard on me. We’re going to get the best the Southern Ocean has got to give. I face it with some trepidation but I have a lot of confidence in my boat. I think she will be good for it. I am going to take it very gently. You can’t compete for the overall results if you don’t make it to the finish line. As we came out of Spain in leg one I was second and I had Brad in my sights. If I can keep my errors down and my boat in one piece then there’s a chance I can get to the front.”

Zbigniew Gutkowski:

“For the next leg it’s totally different to the first leg. In comparison, the first leg was easy. The Southern Ocean is storm conditions nearly all the time. You’ve got to keep the boat in one piece. Safety comes first, and then the speed of the boat. For sure I will be looking out for Brad and the other guys and trying to make the best tactical decisions but staying safe is the top priority. It’s really easy to break something out there and if you do, you’re on your own with no help.”


December 10th, 2010

ALEPH, the challenge headed by Bertrand Pacé and Alain Gautier, has just taken a major step forward. The French campaign’s entry has been confirmed by the Golden Gate Yacht Club. ALEPH is officially a challenger for the 34th America’s Cup. With the backing of the French Sailing Federation, the French challenger has taken on the official mantle of “French Team for the 34th America’s Cup”, and has been re-named “ALEPH-ÉQUIPE DE FRANCE”.

Russell Coutts : «This is fantastic another new competitor joining the 34th America’s Cup ”

Jean-Pierre Champion, President of the French Sailing Federation: « « It is very satisfying that this campaign which we support has been selected as an official challenger. It is an important step and we are delighted. The entry also means that we can add the title of “Équipe de France”, as we had promised. Following the French Olympic Sailing Team and theFrench Match Racing Team, this is the 3rd French Team, and we wish them as much success as the other two French teams*!”

BertrandPacé : « Representing one’s country is a huge privilege, and one more reason to be at the top of our game and not disappoint. In line with its strategy, ALEPH – EQUIPE DE FRANCE will continue to bring together French talent focussing on performance-oriented team players.”

AlainGautier : « “This is a moment of pride and emotion for every single member of the team. The team spirit prevalent inthe French national teams of handball, athletics, swimming and more recently the superb French Olympic Sailing Team is a source of inspiration for ALEPH – EQUIPE DE FRANCE: success is built on the strength of a team, both in individual and team sports”.

ALEPH – ÉQUIPE DE FRANCE is the fourth international team to become an official Challenger for the 34th
America’s Cup. The team is hard at work to secure all financial partnerships before March 2011. The new format laid out by the organisation will deliver unprecedented media coverage for ALEPH – ÉQUIPE DE FRANCE’S sponsors.
(*The French Olympic Sailing Team won the 2010 World Cup, and the French Match Racing Team finished second on the World Match Racing Tour.)


ALEPH – ÉQUIPE DE FRANCE is the official competitive sailing team recognised by the French Sailing Federation to represent France in the 34th edition of the prestigious America’s Cup.

A member of the World Sailing Association which unites potential challengers for the America’s Cup, ALEPH-EQUIPE
DE FRANCE distinguished itself in 2009 and 2010 on the LOUIS VUITTON TROPHY circuit, beating the Italians (winners of the Nice event), the New Zealanders (winners of the Auckland event and multiple winners of the America’s Cup), the Russians (finalists in La Maddalena), the Americans (current holders of the America’s Cup) and the talented

ALEPH-EQUIPE DE FRANCE aims to combine the experience, enterprise and energy of players at the top level of the
French marine industry: sailors, naval architects and engineers to represent France in the 34th America’s Cup in 2013.

The AMBITION is to build in the long-term a solid and competitive team around Bertrand Pacé (6 editions of the
America’s Cup) and Alain Gautier (winner of the Vendée Globe and former team member of Swiss team Alinghi).

Through sensible management, the APPROACH is to enhance the combined intelligence, effort and performance of the

The OBJECTIVE is to enhance the image and competence of France. ALEPH – ÉQUIPE DE FRANCE is offering a humble and ambitious campaign, embraced by the public and proud to fly its colours.


December 9th, 2010

7,000 nautical mile sprint from Cape Town to Wellington starts on Sunday

If the first ocean sprint from La Rochelle to Cape Town wasn’t hard enough, the VELUX 5 OCEANS is about to get a lot tougher. Howling winds, freezing temperatures, mountainous seas and icebergs await the five ocean racers as they leave the comfort of Cape Town and head into the bleak expanses of the Indian Ocean bound for Wellington in New Zealand.  It is here they will encounter some of the worst weather conditions known to man – and they will face them alone. More than 7,000 nautical miles, and countless obstacles, lie between the skippers and their next port of call.

Sailing through this section of the world has been the downfall of many a skipper in the 28 years of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. In the 1994 BOC Challenge French solo sailing legend Isabelle Autissier’s yacht Ecureuil Potiou Charentes II was dismasted and later severely damaged south of Australia in horrendous conditions. Autissier was rescued but her yacht was never recovered. Twelve years later British solo sailing veteran Mike Golding carried out a heroic rescue of fellow competitor Alex Thomson deep in the Southern Ocean following keel failure on Thomson’s Hugo Boss. Golding’s Ecover was then cruelly dismasted 1,000 nautical miles from Cape Town just six hours after rescuing Thomson.

One man who knows firsthand the dangers and challenges that lie ahead for the ocean racers is VELUX 5 OCEANS race director David Adams, a veteran of two editions of the race and winner of class two in 1994 event, then known as the BOC Challenge. “Ocean sprint two is probably the most physically demanding,” David explained. “It’s a very tough leg. It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s wet, the sea is a nasty green colour and it is ferocious. For the whole sprint these sailors will be down in the Roaring Forties and the Screaming Fifties.

“It’s a very daunting challenge, but it is also the reason you do this race – good speeds, big surfing waves and the weather is behind you pushing you where you want to go. There are the high points and the low points but then there’s this whole other factor to content with: the ice. There are icebergs out there but nobody really knows where they are. You’ve got to be watching all the time, and that’s a real problem.”

After setting sail from Cape Town on December 12, the fleet of Eco 60s will head further south into the Southern Ocean, characterised by giant depressions capable of delivering hurricane force winds and waves the size of buildings. The constant crashing of the boat means little if any sleep for the skippers, and the violent seas ensure nothing onboard, however well stowed, is left dry.

To minimise the risk of sailing through the most dangerous iceberg-littered section of the Southern Ocean, the fleet must stay north of the Kerguelen Islands, a desolate archipelago midway between South Africa and Australia. But with the reduced danger of ice come more problems.

“It’s not so much the wind that is the problem, it’s the size of the seas,” David said. “If you happen to get to the Kerguelen Islands at the wrong time, when there’s a low pressure system, it’s really nasty. You’ve got this ocean that is up to four miles deep and then you get to the Kerguelen Islands and it goes to 100 metres. The waves just stand up like four or five storey buildings just coming right for you. You just listen to the roar of the waves as they are coming and you just have to work with them.”

After rounding the Kerguelen Islands the racers will then dip south again to pick up the strongest winds to power them to Wellington. “Sometimes it will be blowing so hard that even with no sails up whatsoever the boats will be doing 10, 12, maybe 15 knots,” David added. “Getting through ocean sprint two is a real skill – it’s all about risk management. The really skilful guys will know when to push hard and when to ease off and just get through the weather systems.”

Another safety gate below Cape Leeuwin, the most south-westerly point of Australia and the second of the Great Capes, will keep the fleet out of yet more danger from icebergs. A timed run between longitudes 50 East and 75 East will test the skippers’ speed and provide an opportunity to win bonus points.

Just when the skippers are within touching distance of Wellington and the finish line they will be faced with Cook Strait, the bank of water between the North and South Islands of New Zealand. A natural wind funnel, Cook Straight is prone to localised storms making it a formidable gauntlet for yachts to pass through.

Ocean sprint two starts from Cape Town at 2pm local time (12pm UTC) on Sunday, December 12.


December 8th, 2010


Round the world sailors inspire South African children at sailing school


The VELUX 5 OCEANS skippers took a break from working on their yachts yesterday to spend an afternoon messing about in boats with underprivileged children at a Cape Town sailing school. Chris Stanmore-Major, Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski, Derek Hatfield and Brad Van Liew paid a visit to the Izivunguvungu Sailing School in Simon’s Town on the Cape Peninsula.


Izivunguvungu was set up as a social development initiative to teach sailing and maritime skills to local children from poor backgrounds. Children from as young as 11 are first taught to swim before getting basic lessons in sailing. Since it was started in 2001 the sailing school has become a huge success, producing national champions in the Optimist and 420 dinghy classes as well as top results in the Mirror and Laser classes.


Despite 35 knots of wind blowing, it didn’t take long for the youngsters to rig up some Bosun dinghies and drag the skippers out for a blast around the bay. While Gutek, a former Polish dinghy champion, enjoyed some close racing with some of the more experienced children, CSM ended up in the water after his young helmsman fell out of their dinghy, which promptly capsized.


“It was great fun,” CSM said. “These guys are absolutely fearless. I am just happy to have been able to go sailing with these guys. I used to work for Outward Bound and this kind of initiative is what I am really into. These kids are having so much fun in an environment they wouldn’t normally get to experience and it’s great to see.”


Jonathan Cole, the coach at Izivunguvungu, added: “It’s great that such a prestigious race could honour us by coming to visit us. The VELUX 5 OCEANS skippers are a real inspiration to the kids and it is great that they are not just heroes on television, internet or in magazines or newspapers. I’m so glad they could come to sail with the kids here and get a taste of what we do at the local sailing project here in Cape Town.”

ORACLE RC 44 Cup Miami opens with testing conditions

December 7th, 2010

 Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts have their RC 44 BMW ORACLE Racing placed third in Group B after the first day of the ORACLE RC 44 Cup Miami.

Miami, FL Wednesday, December 08, 2010-Sailing in northwesterly winds blowing over 20 knots that faded later in the afternoon, Ellison and Coutts have a 4-2 record as they attempt to seal the 2010 RC 44 Season Championship. The crew began the event with a 2-point lead in the season standings.

“You always hope for more, but overall our record is a fair reflection of how we sailed,” said bowman Ryan Godfrey. “I thought we sailed well, even though we had a bad spinnaker takedown at the leeward mark in one race.”

Godfrey was referring to the race against Artemis Racing where BMW ORACLE sailed over the spinnaker during the takedown. That mishap tipped the race to Artemis.

BMW ORACLE Racing also had a close match against Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, which BMW ORACLE Racing lost due to a penalty for grazing a windward mark. Ellison led his yacht across the finish line 1 second ahead of the Italian yacht, but the penalty gave Mascalzone the win.

BMW ORACLE Racing is in Group Bravo in the preliminary match racing portion of the ORACLE RC 44 Cup Miami, the same grouping as RC 44 World Champion James Spithill and the yacht 17.

Spithill and his crew aboard 17 also posted a 4-2 record today and are tied for third with BMW ORACLE Racing, behind group leader Artemis Racing and second-placed Mascalzone Latino. 17, however, lost the head-to-head match with BMW ORACLE Racing.

“Today was windy more than wavy,” said Bryce Ruthenberg, boat captain of 17. “It was pretty shifty in the end and that made it difficult for the guys. The boat made it through the day unscathed.”

The round robin continues tomorrow with one flight scheduled before the top two teams from each group advance to the semifinals of the match racing event.

BMW ORACLE Racing set to contest first RC 44 regatta in American waters

December 6th, 2010

 Members of the BMW ORACLE Racing team, winners of the 33rd America’s Cup, are set to tackle the ORACLE RC 44 Cup Miami this week on the Atlantic Ocean off Miami Beach

 MIAMI, Monday, December 06, 2010 The yacht BMW ORACLE Racing leads the RC 44 2010 Championship Tour heading into this week’s final event. The crew, led by team founder Larry Ellison and CEO Russell Coutts, holds a 2-point lead in the overall standings and also leads the match racing and fleet racing subdivisions.

BMW ORACLE Racing placed second overall at the RC 44 World Championship in October, and Ellison returns to the helm this week after having missed the previous two RC 44 regattas, a welcomed event among the crew.

“The only two events we’ve won this year were with Larry driving. He’s a good helmsman,” said mainsail trimmer Dirk de Ridder of The Netherlands.Looking forward to the racing, de Ridder added: “Our setups are the same as the World Championship. If we remain consistent and avoid any major problems we’ll be fine.”

James Spithill guides the yacht 17 into action. The skipper and his crew are fresh off winning the RC 44 World Championship in October and are tied for third overall in the season standings, 4 points behind BMW ORACLE Racing.

“We made a couple of changes to some sails for this event,” said Spithill of Australia. “It’s looking like it could be a windy event so we’ve re-cut some sails. But we have to focus on our boathandling. The level here is so high if you make one mistake it stuffs you up.”

Spithill will be joined by class newcomer Doug Douglass for the fleet racing portion of the regatta, which requires helmsmen to be classified as amateurs by ISAF, the international governing body for sailing. Douglass is a veteran competitor of the Farr 40 and Melges 32 one-design classes.

The ORACLE RC 44 Cup Miami is the first event in U.S. waters for the class founded four years ago. The action among the 14 entrants begins tomorrow with the match racing portion of the regatta. The fleet racing begins on Thursday and runs through Sunday.