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Will Love & War surprise the big shots again?

love 146x206On 26 December the 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race race will begin. Over the past 64 years, the Rolex Sydney Hobart has become an icon of yacht racing. The 628 nautical mile course is often described as the most gruelling long ocean race in the world. But the nice thing is that it attracts professionals and amateurs alike. Some entrants are as big as 100′ this year but also some as small as 30′.

A few years back I was so impressed by the S&S classic yacht Love & War when it won the Sydney Hobart race – for the third time! Of course this shouldn’t happen – the gruelling race favours the 100 footers – five of them have entered this year. They are remarkable yachts in themsleves and I would love to be on one of them – but how much more thrilling to be on the 37′ classic S&S launched in 1973, pictured here.

This classic timber sloop is one of the oldest boats in the fleet. She is a two-time overall (1974 and 1978) and multiple divisional winner, including top placing in the 20 Year Veteran Division of the 1994 50th anniversary race. Peter Kurts, one of the oldest skippers at 79, and son Simon will campaign the magnificent Love and War.

Will Love & War surprise the big shots again? → Click here to continue reading →


Zero to Open 60 in 18 months

I remember seeing Dee Caffari being given an Honorary Doctorate for her achievements dee2during my son’s graduation ceremony at Leeds Met . Dee herself graduated from Leeds Met in 1995, and she became a teacher, shortly after that she took up sailing…after only 10 years Dee set a world record in the Aviva Challenge 2006, for being the first woman to sail around the world single handed against the prevailing winds.

Then in February 2007, she went to work with a team of sports science experts from Leeds Met to shape her into the ultimate professional sailor. She was preparing to race the world’s ‘Open 60′ elite sailors in her Aviva Ocean Racing Campaign. She has set out on an accelerated learning curve to go from ‘zero to Open 60′ in under two years.

Sports science experts at the Carnegie Faculty of Sport & Education’s Centre for Performance Sport. set to work. The centre is one of the world’s leading sports development centres and has helped some of Britain’s best athletes including Dame Kelly Holmes and Tracey Morris.

The scientists regularly carried out measurements on her heart, body mass and the effects of the training programme. To assess her fitness levels, the Carnegie Centre for Performance Sport used state of the art finger-tip blood sampling technology to measure haemoglobin and blood lactate alongside monitoring heart rate response and blood pressure during incremental running on a treadmill.

Then after only 18 months experience with the open 60’s she came 6th in the Vendee Globe 2008 becoming the fist woman to sail singlehanded round the world in both directions

Elapsed time for course: 99 days 1 hours 10 mn. 57 sec.
Actual distance sailed: 27906.9 Nm.
Actual average speed: 11.7 KTS
Average speed over course: 10.45 KTS


Three French Skippers Defeated!

The early stages of the Vendee Globe are turning out to be be typically tough. So many starts have seen yachts dismasted or hit bad weather that is so bad they race has to be re-started! This year has been no different with 3 yachts withdrawn. Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss has suffered a huge crack in the French built Hugo Boss. Pascal Conq, one half of Finot-Conq, the French team that designed the boat is very pessimistic about getting the boat back in the race. Rough seas also forced Marc Thiercelin and Kito de Pavant to quit after losing their masts. Yannick Bestaven’s mast snapped during a storm on Monday and he was heading back to Les Sables d’Olonne to repair the damage. Bestaven becomes the third French skipper to quit after losing his mast.

Several other sailors have experienced problems because of the heavy weather during the sixth edition of the single-handed race, and returned to port for repairs.