Saturday, January 31, 2009

Barker takes Coutts - Round 1

Photo Gilles Martin-Raget / BMW ORACLE Racing Click on Images to enlarge!

Photo Gilles Martin-Raget / BMW ORACLE Racing
Barker Beats Coutts in Waitemata Racing

AUCKLAND, NZ – Russell Coutts was gracious in defeat today after losing a race in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series to Dean Barker, his old crew mate from Emirates Team New Zealand. Sailing the BMW Oracle Racing boat USA 87, Barker beat the Coutts-led American crew in USA 98 by 28 seconds in the first race of the day.

At a press conference in the Race Village afterwards and in front of a big public gallery, Coutts was asked what it felt like when the apprentice beat the master. Coutts answered dryly and with a smile: “It’s happened before!” He added, “We would have been happier with a different result but they won that one pretty convincingly.”

After eight races over the first two days, Emirates Team New Zealand has two points in Pool A, while Pataugas K-Challenge from France and Damiani Italia Challenge each have one point. In Pool B, Switzerland’s Alinghi is the leader with two points while Britain’s TEAMORIGIN has one point.

A shifty, gusty southwest breeze averaging 16 knots delivered challenging racing conditions as the boats raced twice-around 1.7-mile legs from a start line off Rangitoto to a windward mark just off the Orakei Basin. The racers took a break after the third race while commercial ships and a barge moved through the area.

In the first race the promise inherent in the series was realized with a tough, tight race between old rivals Emirates Team New Zealand and BMW Oracle Racing. The Kiwis got the right after a pre-start battle and Coutts fought back, rounding the first leeward mark only two seconds behind. Coutts enjoyed a brief lead, only to see Barker use the leverage of the favored right hand side and kill any chances of an American victory.

Gavin Brady, the Kiwi skipper of the Greek Challenge, and his mixed Greco-Kiwi crew had something to prove after suffering a penalty from a collision yesterday that put them in minus scoring territory. In the second race Brady pounced on the South African boat Shosholoza in the pre-start and the umpires had landed a penalty on his opponents before the start gun had fired. Brady started in frront and worked to a clear 56 second win over South Africa’s Italian skipper and helmsman Paolo Cian.

In similar fashion Francesco Bruni at the helm of the new Italian team Damiani Italia Challenge put his stamp early on the third race. He shut out two-time World Match Racing Tour champion Ian Williams aboard China Team, forcing him above the start boat just before the gun. The Italians won by 1 min 17 sec in a race when the deltas were never less than one minute and the lead at times as much as 500 metres.

In the last race of the day, Alinghi won handsomely by 50 seconds over Virgin Islands match racer Peter Holmberg at the wheel of the Italian boat Luna Rossa. Holmberg mis-timed his last minute manoeuvres approaching the start line and in an effort to win clear air he conceded 40 metres to Ed Baird on Alinghi as they crossed. The Swiss were never threatened again.

The event web site went live this week in English French and Italian. Race reports, press reports, features and photographs are being updated daily. The site includes a link to live streaming radio commentary about the racing originating from Auckland’s radio BSport Sailing 103FM.

The Louis Vuitton Pacific Series is being organised in association with the New Zealand Government, Emirates Team New Zealand, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Auckland City and SKYCITY Entertainment Group.

Oh so close - Green Dragaon... Makes it home!

Image © Volvo Ocean Race/ Rick Tomlinson - WE MADE IT! - GD
Green Dragon are just over 20 miles away from completing Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race. It has been a real test for man and machine as they battled storm conditions, damage and the very real prospect of not making it to China. For Ian Walker and his crew the arrival into Qingdao will be a significant moment for all onboard, and a serious accomplishment after 14 challenging days at sea. Green Dragon is currently 24 miles away from the finish line off Qingdao, but light conditions are delaying their arrival, which is now expected this evening around 2000/2100 local time (GMT + 8).

UPDATE: After 14 days at sea an elated crew onboard Green Dragon completed one of the most challenging legs in the races history. With nearly half the fleet forced to retire or suspend racing it was a huge accomplishment for the team to finally cross the finish line and claim a valuable 4 points on the leaderboard raising them to fourth overall in the race. View the latest images of the…

Friday, January 30, 2009

Live Streaming Commentary: LVPS

Live Streaming Commentary - Click Here NOW!

If not try this link:

Repairs begin...

Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race Qingdao - China. Telefonica Blue and Puma have been lifted out for repairs and maintenancein Qingdao, the boat will be housed in a purpose built heated building forrepairs as the outside temperature is around 0 degrees.-

Origin wins Day 1 in Louis Vuitton Pacific Series

Juerg Kaufmann of By Stuart Alexander in Auckland -

Ben Ainslie steers Team Origin to victory with Iain Percy as tactician
A satisfying first win was notched up by Britain's Origin America's Cup team in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in New Zealand today.

It was made sweeter because it was against one of the top teams attracted to the opportunity of some stiff competition in a European winter and at a time when the Cup itself is frozen in the American courts.

With quadruple Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie as skipper, the British team made short work of a crew which is led by Peter Holmberg and includes Ainslie's arch rival on the Olympic circuit, Brazilian Robert Scheidt.

"We are really happy to win out first ever match race against Luna Rossa, a team always viewed as one of the top four in the America's Cup," said Ainslie's tactician and double gold medallist Iain Percy. "Ben did a great job gaining an advantage off the start line."

But there was a costly mix-up at the start of the race between the Cup holders Alinghi and a brand new team from Greece, though skippered by the US-based Kiwi Gavin Brady. A misjudgement caused a collision with the stern of the Team New Zealand boat which the Alinghi crews was sailing, resulting in a chunk being knocked out of the matching TNZ boat being sailed by the Greeks.

Sam Davies is set to move up to third on the water in the Vendee Globe solo round the world race after second-placed Roland Jourdain reported he had lost his keel bulb.
'Bilou', as he is known, is limping the 600 miles to the Azores, but his hopes of making it all the way back to the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne, are slim.

Davies, whose boat Roxy was first in both 2000 and 2004 as PRB, has to beat the man in fourth place, Marc Guillemot, by over 50 hours to secure that third place as he has 82 hours in hand for standing by Yann Elies during a rescue operation and Davies was given 32 hours for being diverted.

It would also mean Brian Thompson would move up to fifth, Dee Caffari to sixth and Steve White to eighth.

The leader, Michel Desjoyeaux, was moving through the 700 miles to go marker but a shadow was hanging over his prospect of adding 2008-09 to his 2000-01 win as it has to be established if he has a valid certificate for his 60-foot Foncia. He could finish on Sunday.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Action shots from down under: LVPS

Sponsored by
Photo Gilles Martin-Raget / BMW ORACLE Racing -
America’s Cup teams swing back into action.
For the first time since June 2007, BMW ORACLE Racing takes to the water in America’s Cup Class yachts again to compete in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in Auckland, New Zealand.
Racing takes place over two weeks, starting on Friday, January 30 and will see 10 teams from nine nations gather to compete for a special trophy newly minted for this event.

BMW ORACLE Racing has a bye on the opening day, but will compete in one of the highly anticipated matches against Emirates Team New Zealand on Saturday.

For BMW ORACLE Racing skipper, Russell Coutts, the gap between racing this class of yachts has been even longer. March 2003 also in Auckland was the last time he raced in the America’s Cup, notching up an unprecedented record of being undefeated in 14 straight America’s Cup matches.

“It hopefully won’t take too long to get back into it again,” said Coutts. - Read more

We made it...

Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race

PUMA Ocean Racing, skippered by Ken Read (USA), finishes second, on leg 4 of
the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China at 08:17:36 GMT

Kenny Read/USA, guided PUMA through the finish of Volvo Ocean Race leg four
in Qingdao, China today at 0817 GMT (1617 local time) to claim second place
after an unbelievable effort, which saw the team break their boom and drop
anchor in the Philippines order to make repairs.

On arrival in Qingdao, PUMA's skipper, Kenny Read said:

"Our crew really became a team on this leg. We have really found our legs.
After our problems we came back with an unbelievable effort. We came
together." -

Veolia Environnement has keel problem

Roland Jourdain is continuing towards the Azores.

At around 0400hrs GMT this morning, Roland Jourdain called his shore team to tell them that he has a problem with his keel.

For the moment, the boat is stable and continuing on her way towards the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores, some 640 miles to his North East.

Towards the end of the night while sailing under mainsail and genoa, Jourdain heard a suspicious noise on board Veolia Environnement and went to find out where it came from. He stopped his boat to inspect it, but did not find anything unusual. It was only after trimming the sails on again that the boat took on an abnormal heel.

Jourdain concluded almost immediately that there is damage to his keel.

For the moment, he does not know whether he has lost the bulb or whether the keel blade has been damaged.

Today's problem is possibly a consequence of his collision with a sea mammal on 8th January as the boat has had no subsequent impact with any type of floating objects; -

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More from Auckland... LVPS

Few more photos from Auckalnd as the teams prepare for the LVPS.
Photos by STEFANO GATTINI in Auckland.


Update 10:50 PST - BMW Oracles Trimaran heads out of San Diego Harbor to begin more sea trials.

Still in the game... Green Dragon

Photo Green Dragon
Leg 4 is certainly living up to all expectations; the most challenging leg so far has thrown all that it has the Volvo Ocean Race fleet and it is not over yet! With just over 500 miles remaining for Green Dragon, four boats are still sailing to Qingdao. The latest victim of the conditions was Delta Lloyd, who reported structural damage to the bow of the boat late last night forcing them to suspend racing. They are now safely tied up alongside Ericsson 3 in Taiwan.

Green Dragon have the equivalent to a Fastnet Race remaining, and spirits onboard remain high considering the extent of what they have been through. Phil Harmer summed up the feeling onboard after sailing through toughest leg of his life. “I feel very lucky and proud to be part of a team with such amazing team spirit and determination. We are all competitive people on this boat, but we are also all good friends. When one is down, the rest are there to pick him up again, and that why this team is so good to be a part of. It is also what I believe the race is all about and this leg for all of its highs and lows, will stick with me forever. Mostly because of the people I am sailing with, and for that I’m lucky and grateful. Looking forward to seeing and speaking to you all in Qingdao in a few days time.” You can read his blog in full here

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Anticipation builds at Louis Vuitton Pacific Series

AUCKLAND, NZ – The ten international sailing teams contesting the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series learned about the order of battle for the early rounds of the regatta at a reception in Auckland last night. The draw that split the world class fleet into two pools of five boats was revealed to the sailors. They then drew for the order in which they will match race on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour when racing starts on Friday, 30th January.

Tomorrow, 29th January, skippers from all teams will make their first joint public appearance during a press conference and reception at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS), the organizing authority for the regatta.

The tone was upbeat and friendly at the SKYCITY Grand Hotel last night as the ten team representatives crowded a long table, joined by race officials led by the event’s international Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio and the Commodore of the RNZYS, Scott Colebrook.
Old rivals from more than a decade of Louis Vuitton Cup competition were there, along with impressive new talent from the Olympics and World Match Race regattas. Event organiser Bruno Troublé, representing Louis Vuitton, spoke of the wide support and enthusiasm for the compressed race format and wished all the teams success.

Competing in the two pools, crews will race one-on-one in Emirates Team New Zealand’s NZL 92 and NZL 84 and BMW Oracle Racing’s USA 87 and USA 98. The format for the opening round robin means there will be four races a day while one team from each pool enjoys a bye.
The second scheduled race of day one, between Britain’s TEAMORIGIN and Italy’s Luna Rossa is perhaps the most anticipated match. Other day one matches are Pataugas K-Challenge from France vs China Team and Emirates Team New Zealand vs Damiani Italia Challenge. For its maiden race, the fledgling Greek Challenge drew Switzerland’s juggernaut Alinghi, holder and twice winner of the America’s Cup. BMW Oracle Racing from the USA and South Africa’s Shosholoza will sit out the first day’s racing.

Following the first five days, the boats will split into gold and silver fleets. At that point, Emirates Team New Zealand, in its role as host team, will advance directly to the final race series for the special Louis Vuitton Pacific Series trophy while the top remaining challengers compete in a ladder competition to decide the other finalist.

As teams wrapped up a week of practice on the Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf, workers were adding finishing touches to the Race Village at the Viaduct Basin. The village will open at 8:00 am on Friday and the public is welcome to come for breakfast and see the boats depart. Virtual Eye digital 3D coverage of the racing will be viewable all day on a big screen and the public can join the evening press conference each night.

The event web site went live this week in English French and Italian. Race reports, press reports, features and photographs are being updated daily. The site will also include a link to live streaming radio commentary about the racing originating from Auckland’s radio BSport Sailing 103FM.

The Louis Vuitton Pacific Series is being organised in association with the New Zealand Government, Emirates Team New Zealand, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Auckland City and SKYCITY Entertainment Group.

Drawing Straws

Photo by Juerg Kaufmann.
Who gets what and when... teams draw boats for the LVPS.

LVPS on air!

From Friday January 30th through until Saturday February 14th BSport sailing will be on-line and on-air with live expert commentary from the water.

No matter where you are as long as you have an Internet connection or a radio in Auckland you can keep tabs on all the action!

As we get closes to the launch date you will find more and more information on the event and what BSport is up to here. -

Ericsson 3 heads back

Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo OceanRace
Ericsson 3 are the latest to turn around on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race,giving up their second place and heading for Base Camp after structuraldamage saw them start to take on water. But a combination of emergencyrepair work and the bilge pumps have the situation under control, and theywill be moored up in Taiwan very soon. -

Monday, January 26, 2009

Big Breeze at Circuito Atlántico Sur Rolex Cup

Amazing photos from Matias Capizzano during the Circuito Atlántico Sur Rolex Cup. The regatta included an offshore race, for boats 26 feet and longer, from Olivos / Buenos Aires to Punta del Este; followed with two days of inshore windward/leeward racing, a day race of the Circuito la Barra, and a race around Isla Gorriti on the final day in Punta del Este. - For results go to For more awesome photos go to

Life on the edge... VOR

Coutts can focus on plain sailing

Photo Juerg Kaufmann.
By Paul Lewis NZ Herald: Russell Coutts is watching intently as Larry Ellison's superyacht gingerly picks its way past the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series yachts at the Viaduct Harbour.

He is grinning at the delicacy of the task - the 183-foot vessel, owned by the billionaire owner of the BMW Oracle syndicate, is tiptoeing past berthed yachts and other obstacles a little like an elephant scared of bee-stings might cross a field of daisies.

"Imagine the cost if you dinged that," says Coutts. "You'd have to haul it out of the water and it'd be a huge bill - even before you got to the cost of the other one," he adds, gesturing at another massive superyacht which has slipped into the shadow of Ellison's craft as it passes.

It's an interesting moment. Listen to the naysayers re Coutts and there is a refrain that he is more CEO than sailor these days; more interested in the money game than the game itself.
But it seems, from watching his face, that this is still a man compelled by matters sailing; with a competitive instinct; who still thinks about the sea as opposed to his BMW Oracle CEO title. He likes the challenge, it is clear, of threading something like the superyacht through the needle at the Viaduct.

He watches the Zenji with the intensity for which he is known - redolent of the day almost 25 years ago when an almost fiercely intense Coutts seemed about to lose his gold medal in the Finn class at the 1984 Olympic regatta at Long Beach, California.

He stood to be disqualified after his gear weighed in heavy but Coutts and the New Zealand yachting team argued for a re-weigh and then another. At the third try, with Coutts himself carefully arranging each garment, the weight finally behaved itself and one of the most famous careers in modern yachting was launched - after he'd revealed he'd sailed the crucial days in the regatta with a burning boil on his bum in the Finn's cramped space and hard seat.

IF THERE'S a boil on the bum of the America's Cup, it is the land-locked, lawyer-choked schemozzle that continues to strand itself on the sand bar of the American legal system. Coutts is relishing the challenge of the Louis Vuitton series, which starts this week, as a chance to get out of the corporate wars and into the game of chess on the water.

Yet it is BMW Oracle that has helped to promote this situation, with its court challenge to holders Alinghi over what many found an autocratic protocol released at the end of the last Cup regatta; which many said demonstrated an unacceptable degree of control by the holder over the event. That began a tortuous legal process in 2007, destined to come to an end only by late March or early April. Read full article...

New Images - Damage, Repairs and Rough Seas VOR

Mikel Pasabant/Telefonica Black/Volvo Ocean Race
Telefonica Black in 50 knot winds near the Philippines

Casey Smith/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Erle Williams onboard PUMA Ocean Racing, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China

Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race
Ericsson 3 getting closer to the Taiwan coast on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race

Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Michael Muller takes a rest from repairs, onboard PUMA Ocean Racing, on leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China

Sander Pluijm/Team Delta Lloyd/Volvo Ocean Race
Team Delta Lloyd ripped the leach of the mainsail in 40 knots of wind and 5 meter high waves. They had to put up a storm jib and a trysail, while surging for a bay to do the repairs on the main.

Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Shannon Falcone tends to PUMA Ocean Racing skipper Ken Read's finger after
he got his finger trapped in a titanium block.
Erle Williams onboard PUMA Ocean Racing, on leg 4. -
Update from Green Dragon Racing:
The Dragon maybe wounded but they are determined to sail across the finish line in Qingdao. The pit stop in the Philippines allowed the crew to work around the clock to repair the damaged bow section. But after several hours of racing the Dragon has sustained further damage around the repaired bulkhead. Skipper Ian Walker reported last night, “We were inspecting the bow repair at the time and while the repair held firm the bulkhead let go either side of it. Since then I have been agonising over how best to proceed. Do we go to Hong Kong, Xiamen or even Shanghai to make repairs? Do we go back to Subic Bay? Is it safe to cross the Straits in the current weather? Should we soldier on slowly and nurse the boat to Qingdao - maybe even get there without retiring and using the engine? Right now we are doing just that but more damage could rapidly change things”. The crew will continue to assess the situation and are at present still carrying on, albeit gingerly. This leg is far from over for the Dragon, the crew remain 100% focused on getting to Qingdao, “There is nothing we want more right now than to sail into Qingdao however long it takes us”. Latest updates from onboard suggest that the crew and boat are well and sailing at 90% capacity.

Elsewhere five more boats remain on the race course, Telefonica Black who are now officially retired from the leg, have pulled into Subic Bay, which must seem like a familiar site for the locals after seeing two Volvo 70’s in the Bay the previous morning. Telefonica Blue still holds a plus 38 mile lead over the two Ericsson twins who are chasing hard, but conditions in the region are challenging. Volvo’s race expert Mark Chisnell filled us in: Telefonica Blue, Ericsson 3 and 4 have all been struggling with some difficult conditions. What was happening was that the wind had shifted round to the east, and was blowing directly onto the shore of Taiwan that the leaders were sailing along – and it’s very mountainous. The breeze was swirling up and over the land, making conditions along that windward coastline very difficult... -