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Swings And Roundabouts
Seven hundred miles east of South Island New Zealand and some one hundred miles apart, Armel Le Cleac'h and Alex Thomson are working through the centre of a low pressure system, playing out their respective choices at the front of the 22 boat Vendee Globe fleet. As they transit the changing breezes at different times - largely a first in first out scenario - there will be some small gains and losses, but the biggest concern for the British skipper Thomson may be the seven or eight days ahead of him racing on port tack when his damaged foil leaves him disadvantaged against his long time rival.

Conventional routing based on equal speed potential places the two leaders almost equal after several days of racing in the NW'ly breezes they will have. But that does not account for Thomson's evident speed deficit due to his damaged foil. After a relatively benign spell around midnight UTC, making 6-10kts Armel Le Cleac'h was just over 70 miles ahead of Alex Thomson this morning.

Yesterday evening it was third placed Paul Meilhat's turn to enter the Pacific and early this morning Jeremie Beyou did the same, crossing the longitude of South East Cape, Tasmania. Everything is going well for the skippers of SMA and Maître CoQ, with relatively stable, fresh winds (20-25 knot NW'lies). They will probably not be affected by the very big area of low pressure which will concern the three boats behind them. Yann Elies, Jean-Pierre Dick and Jean Le Cam will be battling it out tomorrow in this low, which stretches from Tasmania to New Zealand generating 50-55 knot winds tomorrow morning for Queguiner-Leucemie Espoir,and then tomorrow afternoon for StMichel-Virbac, and later for Finistere Mer Vent.

* Dick routes north towards Bass Strait to avoid violent storm

As he seeks to take avoiding action to miss the worst of a deep low pressure system which threatens violent storm force winds, in excess of 65kts, and huge seas, Jean-Pierre Dick may become the first sailor in the history of the Vendee Globe to race continuously through the Bass Strait, between Tasmania and Australia.

The French skipper of StMichel-Virbac indicated today that his current routing set to escape the worst of the storm would require a significant detour. Whether he actually passes through the strait, north of Tasmania, will ultimately depend on the speed that the low travels east and the resulting wind speed and direction. Since the race started in 1989-90, it was only during that first edition that a skipper raced into this area. Guy Bernardin sailed into Hobart in the first edition suffering from severe tooth problems. He continued after treatment and finished unclassified.

Grand Finale For Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series Regatta
Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series Regatta Melges 20 (Act III), J/70 (Act II), GC32 (Act II), M32 (Act I)

Now in its fourth season, the Yacht Club de Monaco's Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series, from October to March in collaboration with SLAM and instigated by Valentin Zavadnikov, has been given new impetus with the arrival of the GC32 and M32 catamarans.

The three GC32s invited by Pierre Casiraghi pulled off race after race with speed and regularity supervised by GC32 Racing Tour PRO Anne Malledant. After 11 races, Jerome Clerc (Realteam) won with Sebastien Rogues' Team Engie in 2nd and Malizia led by Pierre Casiraghi assisted by Sebastien Col and Boris Herrmann in 3rd. It was a close-run finish reflecting the intensity of the battles on the water throughout the weekend.

Newcomers, the M32 cats, completed 11 back-to-back races every seven to ten minutes, with victory going to the YCM's Guido Miani (Team Neverland) who pipped the Swedish Cape Crown Viking to the post by a point, with Italia Sailing Team in 3rd.

In the 34-strong J/70 fleet from 11 nationalities only five points separated the first six. Italian Luca Domenici (Notaro Team), crowned European Champion here in 2015, won, with Russian Valeriya Kovalenko (ArtTube) in 2nd, equal on points with Charles Thompson (Brutus), 3rd. Stefano Roberti (Piccinina), European Vice-Champion, confirmed his position at the head of the Monegasque armada (11 entrants) by finishing 8th.

Eight of the 14 Melges 20s were Russian, but it was a Polish team led by Krzysztof Krempec (Mag Tiny) who won with Pirogovo Sailing in 2nd and Victor in 3rd.

On the Saturday evening, Martin Fisher, the man behind the GC32 who also heads the design team for the French America's Cup Challenger, gave a conference on the latest developments in foiling.

The next Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series regatta is 13-15 January 2017 for the Melges 20, J/70 and M32 classes. The Primo Cup-Trophee Credit Suisse is on 2-5 February 2017.

Final ranking:

GC32 (after 11 races)
1. Jerome Clerc (Realteam), SUI, 19 points
2. Sebastien Rogues (Team Engie), FRA, 23
3. Pierre Casiraghi (Malizia), MON, 24

J/70 (after 4 races)
1. Luca Domenici (Notaro Team), ITA, 20
2. Valeriya Kovalenko (ArtTube), RUS, 21
3. Charles Thompson (Brutus), GBR, 21

Melges 20 (after 4 races)
1. Krzysztof Krempec (Mag Tiny), POL, 10
2. Alexandr Ezhkov (Pirogovo Sailing), RUS, 11
3. Alexander Novoselov (Victor), RUS, 16

M32 (after 11 races)
1. Guido Miano (Team Neverland), MON, 20
2. Patrick Sturesson (Cape Crown Viking), SWE, 21
3. Riccardo Simoneschi (Italia Sailing Team), ITA, 25

Coville Crawls North In Record Attempt
Thomas Coville (FRA) and his 31m maxi trimaran Sodebo Ultim' has yet to wander too far from the South American continent in his attempt to break the solo round the world record. Crossing into Brazil today, his 24 hour run of 457.8 nm decreases his margin to 1651.66 nm (-41 nm) ahead of the current record pace of 57d 13h 34m 6s set by Francis Joyon (FRA) on the 29.8m trimaran IDEC in January 2008.

Alinghi: Four In A Row Secures The Championship
At the mid-seasons stage the task of overcoming their rival, Oman Air, would require no less than four wins from the last four Acts, a mammoth task. After winning in St Petersburg, Madeira and Lisbon, the Swiss team arrived at the grand finale in Sydney with the job nearly done, but with one last hurdle to overcome - the eighth and last stage in Sydney harbour. Having won this in Australia this weekend, Alinghi have done it - they are the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series Champions!

Following on from previous victories in this Series aboard the Extreme 40s in 2008 and 2014, this win marks the first for Ernesto Bertarelli's team on the flying GC32s, making it three overall on this prestigious international circuit.

Eight races sailed today, in winds varying from nine to 18 knots. The season has closed and Alinghi has met its objective, adding the first foiling Championship to its previous achievements.

Extreme Sailing Series Act 8, Sydney standings after Day 4, 25 races
1. Alinghi (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Timothe Lapauw, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey, 238 points
2. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Kostner, Mads Emil Stephensen, Pierluigi De Felice, Renato Conde, 226
3. Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari,215
4. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Stewart Dodson, Adam Piggott, Brad Farrand, 215
5. Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Neil Hunter, Chris Taylor, Will Alloway, Sam Batten, Adam Kay, 193
6. RNZYS Lautrec Racing (NZL) Chris Steele, Graeme Sutherland, Luca Hyatt Brown, Harry Hull, Logan Dunning Beck, 178
7. Visit Madeira (POR) Diogo Cayolla, Frederico Mello, Gilberto Conde, Luís Brito, Tom Buggy, 177
8. Team Australia (AUS) Sean Langman, Seve Jarvin, Marcus Ashley-Jones, Gerard Smith, Rhys Mara, 132

Extreme Sailing Series 2016 overall standings
1. Alinghi, SUI, 101 points
2. Oman Air, OMA, 99
3. Red Bull Sailing Team, AUT, 91
4. SAP Extreme Sailing Team, DEN, 83
5. Land Rover BAR Academy, GBR, 70
6. Visit Madeira, POR, 63
7. CHINA One, CHN, 29
8. Team Turx, TUR, 11

Lawrence Bows Out After Six Years At Extreme Sailing Series Helm
He's run more than 50 Extreme Sailing Series Acts over six years in charge of the on-the-water action, and guided the global Stadium Racing tour through its game-changing transition to foils.

But long-term race director Phil Lawrence is now handing over the helm with a parting gift - a thrilling season finale on the waters of Sydney Harbour that saw Alinghi take the 2016 top spot after four days of sensational racing.

Lawrence's reputation as one of the most cool, calm and collected figures in professional sailing precedes him and he is respected the world over for constantly delivering racing of the highest order.

The Brit, who has competed in some of the biggest events in sailing including the Olympics and the Admiral's Cup, was approached by the Extreme Sailing Series in 2010 and took charge of racing the following year. The rest, as they say, is history.

Lawrence, 61, will now be succeeded by Canadian sailor John Craig, a world renowned race official, but he's by no means slowing down - he's off to Alicante, Spain, to start a new challenge as race director of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Different Challenge Same Objective
Seahorse The contrasting clothing demands of an America's Cup multihull crew and a Vendee Globe skipper are meat and drink to a good R&D team

The coming year is a big one for round-the-world racing, with the Vendee Globe reaching its climax at the start of 2017 and the Volvo Ocean Race kicking off at the end of the year. Musto is closely involved in both events, with three of the big Vendee names opting to partner with Musto for their three-month solo circumnavigation. Musto is also the official clothing partner for the Volvo, with a number of crews choosing to wear Musto for their own nine-month adventure around the planet.

One man who knows both events better than most is new CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, Mark Turner. It was Turner who ran Ellen MacArthur's Vendee Globe campaign in 2000 when the diminutive 24-year-old finished runner-up at her first attempt on the solo classic. MacArthur was wearing Musto then and Turner has worked closely with the British brand ever since.

Greenhalgh Repeats At Ms Amlin International Moth Regatta
Hamilton, Bermuda: England's Rob Greenhalgh is a hard man to bet against when there's money on the line. Just ask Chris Rashley or Dylan Fletcher-Scott.

For the second consecutive year, Greenhalgh came through when it mattered most and successfully defended the MS Amlin International Moth Regatta hosted by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

Last year Greenhalgh entered the final day trailing Rashley by 1 point. He then went out and won four races to score an 8-point victory.

The MS Amlin International Moth Regatta attracted a field of 50 Mothists from 10 nations.

MS Amlin International Moth Regatta Final Provisional Standings
(After 12 races, including two discards)

1. Rob Greenhalgh, GBR, 22 points
2. Dylan Fletcher-Scott, GBR, 25
3. David Hivey, GBR, 34
4. Ben Paton, GBR, 61.5
5. James McMillan, GBR, 64
6. Dan Ward, GBR, 75
7. Jonathan Heathcote, GBR, 75
8. Simon Hiscocks, GBR, 76
9. Stefano Rizzi, ITA, 79
10. Rory Fitzpatrick, IRL, 92

Ludde Ingvall Announces Multi-National Crew For CQS
Sydney, Australia: Ludde Ingvall has announced a very strong international, provisional crew to sail CQS in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, starting on Boxing Day, 26th December.

In addition to the three New Zealand watch captains already announced, Chris Dickson, Rodney Keenan and Chris Main, there are ten other Kiwis in the crew, five Australians and two from Britain.

Skipper, Ludde Ingvall, and navigator Scott Disley are both Australian, as are Sir Michael Hintze, Jude Burrell and David Ward.

The British component in the crew are Charlie Egerton-Warburton and Michael Rummel.

The team doctor on board is New Zealander Adam Bartlett, then a string of rising young Kiwi sailing talent makes up the rest of the team.

Final crew training will commence on Monday, with any adjustments to the crew list to be made by the middle of the week.

The remainder of the crew are:

Chris Skinner - NZL
Malcolm Paine - NZL
Logan Andresen - NZL
Lucas Chapman - NZL
Ant Crossan - NZL
David Wood - NZL
Martyn Baker - NZL
Simon Minoprio - NZL
Ron Creevey - NZL

Sir Peter Blake's First Handmade Yacht Lovingly Restored
Photo by Chris Skelton/Fairfax NZ. Click on image to enlarge.

Sir Peter Blake A small boat that played a big role in New Zealand's maritime history has been lovingly restored to its former glory.

In 1966, at the age of 17, New Zealand yachting legend Sir Peter Blake started to build his first keel yacht in the backyard of his family home in Bayswater on Auckland's North Shore.

With help from his brother Tony and good friend Crawford Duncan, the yacht, named Bandit, was built and modified over the next three years.

The Blake brothers and Crawford raced Bandit in the Hauraki Gulf, claiming the New Zealand Junior Offshore Group Championship in the 1968-69 season.

Following its racing years Bandit was retired from the water and sold.

In 2013, Bruce Tantrum from the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust, discovered Bandit was being kept in a shed near Warkworth.

Tantrum had Tony Blake confirm the boat was Bandit and in 2013 he paid a token sum of 20 cents to acquire the yacht.

Over the past three years Yachting Developments in Hobsonville has carried out a complete rebuild of Bandit.

"They have done an amazing job, I do not think anybody could have done it better," Tantrum said.

The $42,000 cost of the rebuild was covered by Tantrum and Yachting Developments and was supplemented by a number of donations.

With the rebuild finished Tantrum says Bandit will be put on display in the New Zealand Maritime Museum.

He said he would ideally like to see Bandit on display beside NZL 32, also known at Black Magic, which won the 1995 America's Cup.

"This would be a great way to show young kids what they can achieve. They too can go from small beginnings to achieving huge things like winning the America's Cup," Tantrum said.

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