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calendar   Saturday - December 26, 2009

Tomorrow’s News Today

UPDATE: Over the horizon WIN for Alfa Romeo!

image

Hi Tech for sure - note Alfa’s hydraulic canting keel visible below the water. It can swing 45° to either side!

Heck, even the paint remover on this giant surfboard uses nano technology


UPDATE 10pm: SUPERMAXI Alfa Romeo has crossed the line first in the 2009 Rolex Sydney-Hobart classic.

Neville Crichton’s 100-footer took line honours in a time of 2 days, 9 hours, 2 minutes and 10sec, crossing the line just after 10pm with its nearest rival, four-times champion Wild Oats XI, 14 nautical miles astern.

It is the first time the New Zealand supermaxi has sailed against Wild Oats XI in the Sydney to Hobart since running second to the Bob Oatley 100-footer in 2005.

The UK supermaxi ICAP Leopard’s gamble of staying East to catch a freshening breeze this afternoon failed. The breeze stayed closer to shore where Alfa and Oats picked up the faster ride.

Alfa Romeo led the race for line honours since the opening night.

Looks like they found the right winds at the right time. 14 nautical miles ahead of the competition means you could climb to the top of “twice born">Alfa’s 42.2 meter tall carbon fiber mast and still not be able to see the #2 boat ICAP Leopard (currently 16 nm behind!)

Catching the breeze has been a real problem for this race. Only a small handful of the boats were smart enough and lucky enough to find the wind. The top 6 boats, including UK’s RAN (currently about 60 nm back in 4th place) found the wind. The next group is nearly 100 nm astern, well ahead of the remaining boats in the fleet. They’re all pretty much becalmed out in the Bass Straight between Australia and Tasmania, sitting around playing cards because the wind has ceased to blow! At this point many of them are having to ration food and water; the race should have taken only 3 days at most, and after 2 and a half days they’re barely even halfway. If this continues much longer there will be a whole lot of DNFs and the boats will have to be towed home. How embarrassing!

The tiny and old Polaris of Belmont trails the pack 420 nm from the finish line, 80 nm behind the back of the rest of the pack, and has not even left the coast of Australia to enter the Bass Straight yet. That’s barely more than halfway. But to be fair, it isn’t really a racing yacht, it’s more of a cruising one.



Alfa Romeo Opens Big Lead in Down Under Boat Race




Hey, we can’t all be snowbound, right? Biggest sailboat race of the year is underway right now, the 727 mile (1170km) Bluewater Classic race from Sydney Australia to Hobart Tasmania.

Ok, I’m not a yachting guy, but these are some high tech sailboats. And big ones too, the leaders being in the 30m - 100 foot - size bracket. Each one is crewed by a dozen or two sailors, and this race has 100 of them going as fast as they can out in the open ocean down the east coast of the Land Down Under. Well, as fast as they can when there is any wind. When there isn’t ... not so fast then. But there’s lots of tactics involved, and it’s the middle of summer for them, and it’s not another bloody soccer game.


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Alfa Romeo holds onto the lead at Sydney Head



supermaxi Alfa Romeo has opened up a five nautical mile lead in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Alfa is locked a two-way tussle for the lead, with six nautical miles separating Neville Crichton’s Kiwi yacht from UK supermaxi ICAP Leopard, owned and skippered by Mike Slade, and four-times line honours winner, Wild Oats XI, skippered by Mark Richards (NSW) now 10 miles back and being challenged by maxi-chaser Ichi Ban (NSW).

The leading yachts had slowed to as little as three knots earlier this morning, little more than drifting for the 100-footers.

Alfa Romeo is sailing the rhumbline route (most direct course to Hobart) and of the three, ICAP Leopard has chosen to sail furthest east of the rhumbline as they move south.

The winning yacht is not expected in Hobart until lunch time on Tuesday, making it one of the slowest races of the past 10 years.

I gather there are two classes of boat in this race; the regular ones, and the shorter ones (about 70 feet long or even quite a bit less) that go in the handicap class.

The overall race for handicap honours was taken over by Sydney boat Shortwave, the yacht owned by the late Andrew Short, who was killed in the Flinders Islet race down the NSW Coast in October. It is being skippered by his brother Matt and crewed mostly by members of the Short family.

Tactics and crew work will decide the race, and Alfa’s crack international outfit, consisting of America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veterans, could give it the edge.

“We’ve had a few years without America’s Cup sailing, which has given us the cream of the crop,” Crichton said. “They all want to be on a winning boat.”

Crichton’s skipper Mark Richards said tactics would be the key.

“It’s going to be a tricky race, nowhere near as windy as everyone thought, which is going to be a good thing for the fleet,” Richards said.

“It’s going to be testing times for all the big boats. A very tactical race, a real mindbender.”

Another supermaxi, Investec Loyal, racing as a Tasmanian entry, struck trouble early when the boat’s giant headsail ripped, and a crewman had to be sent up the forestay to retrieve it.

Loyal lost valuable ground and was seventh on the water last night, just behind fellow-supermaxi Lahana, with smaller yachts RAN (fourth) and Ichi Ban (fifth) the meat in a supermaxi sandwich.

RAN, of Britain, had an early lead in the battle for the overall handicap title.



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British handicap entry RAN seems to leap from seas while reaching across the wind



The RAN is currently in 4th place, well ahead of the main part of the pack but nearly 40 nautical miles behind the leader Alfa Romeo. Defending champion Wild Oats XI is in 2nd 16 miles back, and Ichi Ban in 3rd.

Lots of links, plenty of pics, even a real-time yacht tracking web page, with speeds and stuff. A list of favorites, and a bit of background.

The Rolex sponsored race began at 1pm local December 26th. From what I can tell, most of the boats are built from carbon fiber and Nomex, and so are the sails. There is at least one old wood boat in the mix though. Was, perhaps. There have been a number of them pulled out due to damage. This is racing, and they’re going at it hammer and tongs, even if they’re only moving at 7mph sometimes.

Ok, who wants to make the first wisecrack about racing a supermaxi? Let’s just say it’s not the first choice of names we’d pick here in America.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/26/2009 at 11:21 PM   
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