Friday, October 31, 2014

J/105 Lipton Cup Preview

J/105s sailing off San Diego (San Diego, CA)- “It is no less important to the Commodore as air or water,” said Staff Commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club Chuck Nichols. The Lipton Cup is arguably one of the most iconic regattas in the sailing community. This three-day regatta is an invitation-only event where the best sailors from around the country compete to represent their yacht clubs. For the Commodores of these Yacht Clubs, winning the Lipton Cup for their club is often considered the highest accolade they can accomplish.

Current SDYC Commodore Chuck Sinks noted, “The field for this historic regatta is truly representative of the finest yacht clubs and the finest sailors in the country. This regatta is a true test of each crew’s skill, coordination, communication and cooperation. It is going to be fantastic to watch. I wish I was sailing.”

This year marks the 100th challenge for the Lipton Cup, named after tea baron and decorated sailor Sir Thomas Lipton. In 1903, Lucien Blochman, the Commodore of what later became known as the San Diego Yacht Club wrote to Sir Thomas Lipton asking if he would lend his name to a West Coast yacht race. Lipton happily agreed and had a trophy sent to the club for the first ever Lipton Cup in 1904.

Since then, the race has served as a competition between the best of the best in West Coast sailing, although recently Yacht Clubs from across the country have been invited to participate. As the SDYC skipper responsible for winning the cup in 2013, Brad Rodi knows just what it takes to keep the trophy in San Diego. Rodi will need to leverage his experience with the regatta against the intense pressure coming from other clubs, each hoping to engrave their names next to the title of 2014 champions.

J/105 sailing on San Diego BayAlso competing against the host club and defending champion San Diego Yacht Club are 7 past Lipton Cup champions with a rogue’s roost of top skippers and world-class tacticians ready to lift the big silver trophy off its pedestal from SDYC.  Those teams include California YC (Alan Field), Coronado YC (Rick Harris), Newport Harbor YC (Jon Pinckney with Mike Menninger and father Bill Menninger), Southwestern YC (Ian Trotter), Long Beach YC (Dustin Durant & Erik Shampain & Keith Magnussen), St. Francis YC (Chris Raab with Russ Silvestri), and San Francisco YC (The Perkins Brothers, led by Chris with Phil and Jon aboard along with Paul Cayard and Craig Healy as trimmers/ tacticians!).

Additionally, four clubs are looking to add their name to the Cup for the first time: New York YC (Ken Colburn with Bill Lynn), Kaneohe YC (Eric Aakhus with Jesse Andrews tactician from Hawaii), Seattle YC (Jay Renehan and Brian Ledbetter) and Cortez Racing Association (Rick Goebel and Greg Tawastjerna, who as a team recently took 2nd at the 2014 J/105 North Americans!).  To say the deck is stacked against the SDYC defending team would not even begin to describe the coming nuclear winter if the host team loses!

The race will be sailed on chartered J/105s, with each club stopping at a floating dock in San Diego Bay and switching boats between races to ensure that the only advantage on the water is having the best sailors competing. The race will be held from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 in front of the beautiful San Diego city front.

Spectators wishing to view the regatta’s final day of racing from the water can make reservations online to attend the Sunday Tea Party about the beautiful yacht America. Racing is scheduled to begin at 12:00pm each day. Otherwise, shore side viewing is available from the Embarcadero or Harbor Island.  Furthermore, watch the event "live" on the Internet on, the world's coolest tracking/ analysis app for iPhones and Android phones!  From Friday to Sunday, watch "live" J/105s sailing San Diego Bay on

Thanks to supporting sponsors Sunroad Resort Maria, San Diego Boat Show, JK3 Yachts, Ballast Point Brewing, Jackson Design & Remodeling, Dixieline Lumber & Home Centers, Jones Lumber, North Sails One Design. And special thanks to the local J/105 owners lending their boats to make this regatta possible.  For more J/105 Lipton Cup sailing information

Swedish J/111 Sailing’s Last Blast!

(Marstrand, Sweden)- Peter Gustafsson’s J/111 BLUR in Sweden recently reported (and recorded) their “last blast” of the 2014 sailing season.  They sailed 107nm from Helsingborg to Gothenburg, a northerly routing, in a SSE 16-22 kts TWS breeze.  According to Peter, not the best direction for nice big surfing waves, but nevertheless a fun escapade for the crew!

“We gybed 12 times on the way north to Gothenburg.  We had 4 people as the total crew, it was perfect to keep weight down but still push hard.  We blew the A2 kite halfway there (3 years of hard racing took it’s toll) but the A5 was just as fast when the wind was over 20 knots.  With all the gybes and some extra distance, we averaged 11.78 knots during 10.5 hours and topped 20.64 kts!  WOW! Pretty good way to end a great season of sailing!”  Thanks for Peter’s report; they have big plans already for their 2015 sailing season!  Watch the J/111 BLUR sailing video here

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bright & Breezy Hamble Winter Series #3

(Hamble, England)- All last week the forecasts agreed that this weekend was to be a brutal one. But contrary to the expectations of most of the fleet, the weather gods allowed the race team to fit in one race on this, the third Sunday of the 2014 Garmin Hamble Winter Series – but it was in conditions that put boats and their crews to the test.

As boats motored out of the Hamble in the early morning, conditions seemed mild, with a light breeze from the South-south east. But as they cleared the lee of Calshot Spit, it built to around 18-20 knots. With the wind forecast to increase further throughout the day, the race committee broadcast their intention to sail only one race, which was gladly received by the fleet.

By 1200 the wind had built to 25 knots, which combined with bright sunshine provided some stunning sailing for the 70-odd competing yachts – along with the odd impressive wipeout. The starting line was near Royal Southern buoy, with a cascading course up to marks near the Bramble Bank for most classes.

In IRC 0 Class Louise Makin’s J/111 JOURNEYMAKER II took second and her sistership, the J/111 ICARUS sailed by Chris Body took third in class.  Both boats seemed to revel in the tough conditions and at this stage are sitting in 2nd and 3rd overall after four races. Fourth is Martin Dent’s J/111 JELVIS.

The four J/88s that are sailing IRC 2 Class are all taking their turns at posting awesome performances on the water.  At this stage, Paul Ward’s EAT SLEEP J REPEAT is lying 2nd overall with Ivan Trotman’s JOJO in 4th, Stew Hawthorn’s JIFI in 6th and Dirk Van Beek’s SABRIEL JR in 8th.

In IRC 3 Class, the J/97 BLACKJACK came in second, at the head of a trio of J/97s for their sole race.  As a result, Andy Howe’s BLACKJACK crew continue to lead the series with a scant 6 pts, but closely followed by Charles Ivill’s J/97 ETB TYRES/ JUST LIKE THAT in second with 8 pts!

The J/109 one-design fleet saw Adrian Wheal’s JOLLY JACK TAR beat Owain Franks’ JYNNAN TONNYX to take the top spot. The series leader continues to be Roger Phillips’ DESIGNSTAR with 6 pts, followed by Wheal’s JOLLY JACK TAR and Chris Burleigh’s JYBE TALKIN, in 2nd & 3rd, respectively.

Back at the club, the day sponsor was Key Yachting, which provided Champagne and other prizes to the winners in each class.

Doyle Sails Hamble One Design Championships
This weekend also hosted the second of two Doyle Sails Hamble One Design Championships. Racing on both Saturday and Sunday, the J/70, J/80 and J/109 classes enjoyed some thrilling, close racing in exciting conditions over the weekend.

Over the two weekends, the J/109s fitted in 9 races. This class was won by Tony Dickin’s JUBILEE, tied on points but edging ahead of Iain MacKinnon’s TIGHT SOLIUS II on countback. Steven Tapper’s STALKER was in third place.

In the White fleet, the thirteen boat J/70 class was racing for a place at their 2015 J/70 World Championships. Over 10 races, it was David Atkinson’s JAWBREAKER that topped the fleet, finishing 9 points clear of Simon Cavey’s JUST4PLAY. Nick Munday’s J7T was third.  TEAM RAFBF SPITFIRE skippered by Capt Simon Ling is sitting on 4th and 5th is Andrew Barraclough’s JENGA 8.

The thirteen-boat fleet of J/80s was won by Douglas Struth and crew in DSP. They finished eight points ahead of second-placed Brian Denney’s JALAPENO, with Yannig Loyer’s J/OUT-OF-THE-BOX in third place.  Stu Southan’s JOYEUSE took 4th and Patrick Liardet’s AQUA-J placed 5th.

Thanks to all competitors and to the volunteers and race officers for their help in making the Doyle Sails Hamble One Design Championships possible.

Next weekend sees the return of the MDL Hamble Big Boat Championships and the fourth weekend of the Garmin Hamble Winter Series, for which the day sponsor is the Impala 28 class, this year celebrating its 35th Anniversary.  Thanks for report contribution from Ben Meakins.   Sailing Photo Credits- Hamo Thornycroft and Bertrand Malas   For more Garmin Hamble Winter Series sailing information

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hong Kong J/80 Class Championship

J/80s sailing Hong Kong, China (Hong Kong, China)- The fifth Hong Kong J/80 Class Championships will be held on the 1st & 2nd of November.  The event is organized by the Royal Hong Kong YC, one of the oldest sailing clubs in Asia with a history dating back as far as 1890.  Expected to be the biggest international J/80 event in Asia thus far, over twenty J/80's are planning to participate with some of the high profile sailors from the region.  This year a number of visiting teams will travel down from Mainland China to test their skills against the local fleet.

The regatta will be sailed off the southern tip of Lamma island, in open waters.  November typically offers optimal sailing conditions; East-North Easterly breezes of between 12 and 18 knots, a light swell and clear blue skies.  Add in local hospitality, stunning location and facilities of the host- the Royal Hong Kong YC- and its no wonder this event is growing in popularity.  For more J/80 Hong Kong Championship sailing information

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

NRV Wins Deutsche Segel Bundesliga #5

Three Regatta Wins Gives NRV Commanding Series Lead
(Friedrichshafen, Germany)- “As you were” may have been the stand-down phrase after “colors” were struck at sunset for the past five stages in this year’s Deutsche Segel-Bundesliga.  After all, it’s not often that the first event in a summer-long series of events becomes the prognosticator of the ultimate outcome after sailing hundreds of races.  However, that was indeed the case once the top three teams on the podium completed their first regatta in Starnberg; with NRV (Norddeutscher Regatta Verein) in 1st, VSW (Verein Seglerhaus am Wansee) in 2nd and DTYC (Deutscher Touring YC) in 3rd!  Consistency paid off for these teams with steady crews and, for the most part, avoiding massive pitfalls along the way.  NRV’s series-long scoreline is impressive, Starnberg 1st, Travemunde 1st, Berlin 2nd, Kiel 2nd and Friedrichshafen 1st.  Their collective total of 88 high points for the series gives them a very comfortable 18 pt lead over the next closest team.

Behind them, it was not so clear what the outcome was going to be headed into the Friedrichshafen regatta, sailed on Lake Constance and hosted by Württembergischer YC.  The next four teams all had their “snakes & ladders” experiences over the previous four meetings.  DTYC was 2nd going into Kiel, but had a bad outing and dropped to 3rd overall.  VSW sailed well to hop in the second spot in the series after Kiel.  The WYC (Württembergischer YC) and SVI (Segler Vereinigung Itzehoe) were fighting for their lives to remain in contention for the top three.  On the last weekend, WYC redeemed themselves well and collected a 2nd at Friedrichshafen.  But, SVI and DTYC faltered a bit,  Here’s how it all happened for the three-day event sailed on beautiful Lake Constance (a.k.a. Bodensee).

The first day started out slowly for the 38 teams assembled on the Bodensee.  After a gray, foggy start to the day, the breeze slowly filled in by 1400 hrs and the sun popped out, too! Friedrichshafen showed up with fantastic weather at its best!  The catch was that the wind was slow in coming.  Consequently, despite the PRO’s best efforts, only two races were sailed on the first day of the 45 scheduled!

The second day of sailing started off on-time and the fleet sailed a full schedule of races all the way until sunset!  It was a very, very long day; with a good wind forecast the first set of races were completed by 8:30am! Steady winds helped the sailors to a successful day of racing— 25 races in total for the Premiere division!

At this time, NRV was already leading the last event.  But, the “local heroes” were clearly WYC, winning four of their first eight races and matching NRV with number of 1sts!  That was quite a turnaround performance compared to their last outing in Kiel where they had some bad races and ended up mid-fleet!

The final day was unusual in that it was the first time that teams that had been sailing in the Premiere League and the Standard League would end up meeting one another.  There were a total of 144 sailors from 36 sailing clubs that, ultimately, sailed a total of 66 of 90 schedule races on Lake Constance!  

"It was a bit lucky for us to win today as well. It is a nice feeling and we now stand firm as the winner of the 2014 Segel-Bundesliga. The victory was only possible because we had such a great team," said helmsman Carsten Kemmling of NRV.

As a result of the Standard League also completing their events, it was now clear who were going to be the top qualifiers to start racing in Hamburg for the start of the 2014/2015 season on November 7-9!  For this group, it was a weekend of extreme tension, because of light winds and lots of launch delays, so every point counted. At the end, the top qualifiers were Wassersport-Verein Hemelingen (WVH), Segelklub Bayer-Uerdingen (SKBU), Münchner Yacht-Club (MYC), Hamburger Segel-Club (HSC), Potsdamer Yacht Club (PYC) and Segel-und-Motorboot Club Überlingen  (SMCU)

"After a bad race this morning, we had almost written off the qualification into the Premiere League in Hamburg. That we had performed so well during the afternoon was very surprising. We need a lot more training opportunities to be able to participate at the top level in the Premiere League," said Wilhelm von Weyne from WVH.

The grand finale, the sixth and last event, of the 2014 Deutsche Segel Bundesliga takes place in J/70s at Hamburg, Germany on Alster Lake, concurrent with the Hamburg Boat Show that also takes place from October 30th to November 2nd.  Coincidentally, this may put even more pressure on the host NRV team (the “home-boys”) to sail well on their home waters!   For more J/70 Deutsche Segel-Bundesliga sailing information

Monday, October 27, 2014

Denmark Wins SAILING Champions League

J/70 SAILING Champion League winners- KDY(Copenhagen, Denmark) – Twenty-three clubs from fourteen nations competed over three days (October 17-19) off the spectacular Copenhagen city waterfront.  The sailing featured incredibly tight-racing at a world-class level, boats rapidly changing positions from mark-to-mark as wind-shifts and tactics came into play on the tight 10-13 minute race course.  While the premiere of the SAILING Champions League may have ended on a cloudy, drizzly day, the atmosphere was absolutely brilliant amongst the teams competing in fleet of identically-matched J/70s. In total, 45 races were sailed over the long weekend.  Fortunately, there was good breeze each day and the spectators in front of the world-famous “Little Mermaid” were treated to front-row seats in a true “stadium-sailing” format, the boats were often tacking just 20-30 feet off the seawalls!  No wonder, among the 92 sailors were more than 22 Olympic sailing medalists, multiple World Champions from various classes and even Volvo Ocean Race winners!

J70s sailing the SAILING Champions League off Copenhagen, DenmarkThe sought-after silver bowl from Robbe & Berking will stay with the hosts from the Kongelig Dansk Yachtklub in Copenhagen, it was their KDY Team in the end that won by a mere 0.5 points difference over the second place team- Circolo Canottiere Aniene (Italy). Third was the Oman Sail Team that notably sailed in the top three virtually all three days!

In the “Sail for Charity” campaign, where technology partner SAP donated 25,000 Euro to the World Childhood Foundation, it was the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein Team (Germany) that won that “charity race”, raising the most money of any of the teams participating.

The final outcome of the regatta was not settled amongst the top three clubs until the very last race. At the end, the Kongelig Dansk Yachtklub (KDY) with helmsman Michael Hestbæk (participant at the Olympics in the Star 2012 in London), Joachim Aschenbrenner, Lucas Lier and Frederik Berg took the lead with their J/70 and made their mark in the history books by winning the first SAILING Champions League.

“It feels fantastic to win on home waters. We felt the pressure before the last race. We had a little advantage at the start and it worked out for us”, explained a very happy Michael Hestbæk after his arrival ashore. Their team was excited to lift the five kilogram silver bowl from Robbe & Berking – the Robbe & Berking SAILING Champions League Trophy – into the air (fortunately, no one went swimming, as is the tradition after winning regattas).

The Italian team from Circolo Canottiere Aniene in Rome (consisting of pro-sailor Lorenzo Bressani, Offshore World Champions Matteo Mason and Samuele Nicolettis and Michele Paoletti) started off the series with an astounding record of six 1sts and two 2nds in their first nine races!  But then, the “wheels went flying off their shopping trolley” in the 10th race on the second day.  Whatever “magic dust” they were using seemingly disappeared.  As the winds went more west and the fleet could sail longer courses, it seems the Italians kept “jogging right” when everyone else was “going left”.  Posting a second to last in that last race clearly killed their momentum and confidence.  During the grand finale Sunday, the CCA team struggled to finish mid-fleet in the championship round of all the top teams.  In the last race, KDY finished 4th while CCA took a 5th, just enough for KDY to take the championship.

In the “Sail for Charity” campaign, fans of the 23 international clubs helped “vote” for the favorite teams; as a result, technology partner SAP donated 25,000 Euros to the World Childhood Foundation (Childhood) founded by the Sweden’s Queen Silvia.  “SAP is very happy to collaborate with Childhood. It’s an honor to help Childhood to do great things,” said Sofia Hesselkilde, Senior Marketing Manager of SAP Denmark. Susanne Labonde, Executive Director of the World Childhood Foundation in Germany adds, “I’m excited to be here at this great regatta. Special thanks to SAP for the donation and to all the supporters, who voted for their club. The journey will go on in 2015 and I’m looking forward to it.”

J/70s sailing SAILING Champions League- Copenhagen, DenmarkThe KDY raised the bar quite high for clubs hosting the event in the future. Ashore and on the water, sixty volunteers arranged a perfectly organized event.  “I am proud that we hosted the premiere of the SAILING Champions League here in Copenhagen. To be honest, I didn’t think that it is possible in such a short period of time. We are ready for next year and hope to be part of the SCL again,” said Lars Ive, Vice Commodore of the KDY.

The organizers of the SAILING Champions League– the German “Segel-Bundesliga”, the Danish “Sejlsportsligaen” and the Royal Danish Yacht Club– did an extraordinary job managing the entire program of 45 races (15 for each club).  After experiencing close racing in a spectator-friendly format, it was clear the sailing “Bundesliga” has caught fire and a number of other countries will soon be copying the format and introducing their national sailing leagues in the near future.  For more SAILING Champions League regatta information

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rolex Middle Sea Race Update

J/122 Otra Vez sailing Rolex Middle Sea Race (Gzira, Malta)- As of late Tuesday afternoon, it appears the two leading J/122 teams from Malta, ARTIE and OTRA VEZ, are leading the race both IRC Overall and IRC Class 4!  The teams are about halfway around the spectacular 608nm course– a rigorous anti-clockwise loop around Sicily that introduces numerous “corners” that present challenging and complex meteorological shifts. The route includes passing by the Aeolian and Egadi Islands, as well as Pantelleria and Lampedusa Islands. One of the most stunning vistas is Stromboli, the active volcano that is a course mark.  Here are the latest reports from the Rolex Middle Sea Race website.

DAY 3 PM Update 1700 CET Analysis
By Midnight, virtually the entire fleet racing in the Rolex Middle Sea Race had passed through the Straits of Messina, heading for Stromboli, the active volcano that marks the most northerly part of the 608 mile course. As high pressure moved in from the north, the area around Stromboli had virtually no gradient wind and for those yachts yet to reach Stromboli, a south flowing current has slowed proceedings even further. For the competitive offshore yacht racer, performing well in light wind is more difficult than blasting through a storm at top speed.

After two nights at sea, the crew may well be at their lowest energy level for the whole race. The rhythm of offshore life has not been established and the ever changing wind saps energy through numerous sail changes. Concentration also becomes difficult. After the excitement of the start, adrenalin levels are now lower and keeping alert is not as easy. In light airs, losing focus on the helm, or on the sail trim, can be very costly and stalling the boat in little wind makes it difficult to get going again.

Half of this race takes place in the hours of darkness. When the crews are deprived of the sense of sight, spotting changes in the wind on the water becomes difficult but other senses tend to make up for this deficiency. Feeling the breeze on your cheek, sensing the heel of the boat, hearing the sails flap or the bigger wavelets tapping at the hull, these become the prime indicators. The first two days and nights of the Rolex Middle Sea race have not been about surfing down big seas with the salt spray hissing past the wheel, but racing well in light airs is a dark art, and there are plenty of magicians out there.

At Stromboli two Maltese yachts in IRC Class 4, OTRA VEZ and ARTIE were first and second in IRC over the whole fleet. Aaron Gatt Floridia's Maltese J/122 OTRA VEZ was leading the class at Stromboli after time correction and immediately headed south towards the Aeolian Islands. At 0900 CET OTRA VEZ was sailing almost two knots quicker than their Maltese rival, the J/122 ARTIE skippered by Lee Satariano.

Frustrating as it may be for the crews racing on the slower yachts, time is not standing still. In fact, the lack of breeze should be very encouraging.  The overall winner of the race could easily be decided by the current weather conditions, a slow start for over half the race with a fast finish for the smaller boats.

DAY 4 AM Update 0900 CET Analysis
The fleet continues to battle the light winds but are making significantly better progress.  Boats that have taken a more northern route after passing Stromboli appear to be benefitting from slightly more breeze than those boats along the shore of Sicily.

Floridia's OTRA VEZ may no longer be the overall leader of the race.  Their local rivals, Satariano’s J/122 ARTIE, had a very good night. ARTIE passed OTRA VEZ around midnight. OTRA VEZ tacked south and ARTIE covered them from in front and both yachts are now heading for the Sicilian coast, presumably looking to benefit from more wind as the land heats up during today.  But for the moment, it looks as though ARTIE has the upper hand.

Perhaps the biggest movers overnight include the other J/122 DAMACLE (skippered by the Italian Roy Caramagno), not more than 10nm behind her sisterships, and the J/133 OILTANKING JUNO (helmed by David Anastasi) and the J/109 JARHEAD (sailed by Greg Nasmyth from Great Britain).  Amazingly, all three J/122s are in front of the Volvo 70 MONSTER PROJECT that appears to be stuck along the Sicilian coastline!  And, two fast TP52s are all of 30nm in front of them (e.g. getting smoked on IRC handicap time). 

DAY 5 AM UPDATE 09:00 CET Analysis
92 yachts are still racing in the Rolex Middle Sea Race. The expected frontal system arrived around Midnight last night at the northwest corner of the course. Reports of storm force winds and big seas have been received by the Race Committee and 25 yachts had officially retired from the race by 15:00 CET on Wednesday 22 October. The Race Committee has received no reports of any injuries to crew from the fleet.

The yachts still racing cracked sheets last night, hitting the turbo, flying downwind at incredible speeds. It will be a blast on board, surfing down waves with the salt spray hissing at the rail and warm water breaking over the bows and cascading down the deck. This speed comes with a price, if the boat loses control or accelerates into the waves too fast, the loads involved can be too much resulting in damage. The saying; 'To finish first, first you must finish.' will be very much the mantra.

IRC 4 Class:  By morning, only two yachts in the class had passed Pantelleria, Lee Satariano's J/122, Artie was nearly four hours ahead of Aaron Gatt Floridia's J/122, Otra Vez. Artie is now the clear favorite to win the class and have a real chance of winning the race overall. The majority of the fleet is close to Pantelleria experiencing storm force conditions.

Ross Applebey, co-skipper on a 48-footer called in by satellite phone this morning. “We have two reefs in the main and the storm jib up, we saw 48 knots of wind and we have seen waves of over 20 feet. It is pretty nasty out here and we are most definitely concentrating on keeping everyone safe on board rather than boat speed. However, we surfed down a wave and it was too much for the rudder. It was a sickening sight as half of it appeared out of the back of the boat and for us the race is now over. Although Pantelleria is only a short distance away, we cannot steer towards the harbour there, so we are making are way towards Mazara del Vallo on the Sicilian coast and should be their tonight – absolutely gutted would be an understatement.”

DAY 5 PM UPDATE 1500 CET Analysis
Lee Satariano's Maltese J/122 ARTIE has emerged as the hot favorite to become the overall winner of the 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race. However, at 16:00 CET, Artie was still 80 miles from the finish and the Mistral storm is still raging. In addition, there are several yachts behind Artie that could still claim the overall prize. On board Artie, Sebastian Ripard spoke to the media team earlier today.

“The waves have been as high as 30 feet and the wind speed often gusting above 40 knots, it has been a really wild ride.” Commented Sebastian. “With the full main and jib top sail, we have been flying along. The game plan has been a mixture of pushing as hard as we can but also protecting the boat, so we have been taking it a bit easier in the big gusts of over 40 knots and then going for it when the wind speed drops a little.  All the way to Lampedusa we have been VMG running but when we turn the corner, ARTIE will be on a beam reach and we expect the waves to be crashing into the cockpit. Everybody will be on the rail, head down, hiking out for the final 100 miles. We expect to finish the race late this evening at around midnight.”   Find Rolex Middle Sea Race on Facebook   For more Rolex Middle Sea Race sailing information