WYRF 2009 – A new plan

World Yacht Racing Forum

Monte Carlo – Just leaving Monaco this morning following two days here for the World Yacht Racing Forum.

Now in its second year, the Forum is really growing into quite an event. There were two parts this year: a commercial, sports side and in another hall, running contemporaneously, a technical forum with subects ranging from composite rigging to standards for construction of racing yachts.

It is kind of a collection of who’s who in yacht racing from the designers like Juan K and Vincent Prevost to the sailors like Brad Butterworth, Russell Coutts and Michele Desjoyeaux. I participated with Russell and Brad in the forum on the America’s Cup. The tone was very friendly and there was a demontrative expression from both of the teams to get out on the water and have their race ASAP. Each team showed a very high energy video/slideshow of their extremely impressive sailing machines. The fact is that after all the frustration and ugliness of the past two years, the race between the two giant multihulls will be a special moment in our sports history and something to see.

In the midst of the Forum, a light bulb went off in my head; we may have missed a great opportunity in the past two years. Rather than just sitting around and waiting in frustration, we, the Challengers, should have taken the initiative to put forward a Protocol to resolve a lot of the problems plaguing the current match. We have a unique opportunity right now; neither Alinghi and BMW Oracle knows who will be holding the cards for the 34th America’s Cup. So this is a time where each may be more willing to agree to a “fair and independant” event managment structure. Either could find themselves on the Challenger side for 34th America’s Cup and that party would certainly want a modern and objective event organization.

So after I mentioned this idea, many people came to me and said, “Hey, that’s a great idea. Its not too late. Get to work!”

I am in Geneva today visiting Torbjorn Tornqvist, the Artemis chief, and then my friends at Rolex this afternoon. San Fran tomorrow. Anyone need some frequent flyer miles?

Nestle Brasil Match Cup

Well we wound up 1 spot off the top but still pretty good result.

We won the round robin and then had a one race final against the second place team. In the one final race, things were tight and close the whole way but we could not get past Daniel Glomb and his team. The field was pretty talented with Robert Scheidt, Torben Grael, and Xavier Rohart all competing.

I had a great 4 days down here. The people are very friendly and there is a special spirit around competitions in Brasil. They are obviously winners, Torben Grael and Robert Scheidt have a few Gold medals to prove that. But there is a relaxed happy spirit here that overlays everything. The other thing is that you are almost never late here. It is just a matter of figuring out how late is going to be on time.

I am staying here most of the day tomorrow before my flight to Monaco tomorrow night where I will participate in the World Yacht Racing Forum.

I am going to hit the outdoor gym on Ipanema Beach tomorrow morning. I know it will be cold in Europe and in SF when I get home next weekend so I am going to soak up the sun!

Complete results at www.matchcup.com.br

Nestle Brasil Match Cup

Unfortunately the wind did not cooperate today. No wind and no racing. Seems like I have been experiencing a lot of this lately.

We did manage to have the Pro Am race at the end of the day. We took four boats out, loaded with Nestle guests, and had a race that started and finished right in the inner harbor in front of the Yacht Club de Rio. It was about as exciting as we could make it in 5 knots of wind. They seemed to enjoy it so that’s what matters.

Tomorrow is the last day of the racing so we are hoping for wind. It looks like the bad weather is clearing out so I am optimistic.

Complete results at www.matchcup.com.br

Nestle Brasil Match Cup

It was a rainy, blustery day in Rio today, but pretty tropical conditions. You could even say down right miserable.

Still a lot of racing took place. We on Team Cayard had a great day winning all four of our matches. We led all the way around in three of the matches. In the most exciting one, we trailed Joao Signorini and his team all the way around the course. But we kept it close, kept the pressure on them and took the lead in the final 100 meters.

The only other team that is undefeated is Daniel Glomb’s, they are 5-0. We will race them tomorrow.

Tomorrow we should finish up the round robin at which point the top four teams will go into the semi-finals.

The forecast is for this cold front to still be in place tomorrow so more rain is likely.

For complete results go to www.matchcup.com.br

Nestle Brasil Match Cup

I am in Rio for the 7th annual Nestle Brasil Match Cup 2009 today through Sunday. It is pretty local but that is not to say it is not competitive. Amongst the competitors is Torben Grael, five time Olympic medalist and Star World Champion as well as, Robert Scheidt four time Olympic Medalist and Star World Champion and Xavier Rohart from France who is a two time Star World Champion and Bronze medalist from 2004. There are a many good local young sailors keen to beat one of the guys with all these titles.

After a press conference this morning, the teams went out for about 2 hours of training in the boats. At 1500 the flights started. There is a small fleet race component to this event and that is what they started with for the first four competitors.

There are 4 boats, but 8 competitors so we don’t all race all the time. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t get to race today as our first race is in the fourth flight and the race committee only got 2 flights in before the wind died. There is a womens division in the regatta and they sail in J-24’s, while the men race in Bennetau First 40.7’s.

My crew is a bunch of Star sailing friends and two young Brazilian kids. Ross MacDonald and his wife Marcia (a former 470 and Europe dinghy Olympian for Brazil), Flavio Marazzi and his crew Enrico de Maria (who finished 4th in Athens in 04). Then we have the two kids, Lucas Brun (son of Gastoa and nephew of Vince) who was part of the ABN Amro youth team in the 2006 Volvo Ocean Race and Thomas Low-Beer who is an up and coming 470 sailor for Brazil in 2012 and an engineering student here in Rio.

I started out my day today at 0600 with a run down Ipanema Beach. I found the most beautiful gym in the world. It is outdoor and on the beach. I am going tomorrow and will take pictures. Now I am off to my friend Alan Adler’s house for a Bar-B-Q. Alan is another Star World Champ. There are 6 of us down here in this regatta! Alan is the promoter of this event and has another event this weekend in Sao Paolo with Maria Sharapova.

For complete results go to www.matchcup.com.br

Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

We had three races this morning to finish off the round robin part of the Pro Am. Ken Read and I were tied this morning on 5 wins each. We got to 6 wins each and it boiled down to the last race. He and his crew did a better job and won the round robin 7 to 6 over us. Anna Tunnicliffe had a good morning winning a couple of points and so she finished up third. Since I have to fly to Nice tomorrow, Anna will race Ken in the finals.

I went snorkeling this afternoon with a nice group of people. We had a great captain whom I have known for a few years down here, his name is Kinto. We hit three good spots including Richard Branson’s Necker Island. I love to see all the little blue and yellow fish. It makes me want to have a salt water tank in my house.

The photo of the day is me launching off the beach here before the beer can race last night.

I am out of here at 0645 tomorrow so I will take it easy tonight and get some sleep. I have a long treck to Nice (France) tomorrow and when I get there I have to be “on”. I land at 1000 Saturday and I am racing with the Artemis team in the afternoon. We, Artemis, are competing in the Louis Vuitton Trophy. The Louis Vuitton Trophy is a match racing regatta using the 2007 America’s Cup boats. There are 8 teams competing including BMW Oracle and Emirates Team New Zealand. The event lasts two weeks and I will write updates each day.

Singing off from the Bitter End. Sad to do so but all good things must come to an end. Thanks so much to the Bitter End staff and the great crews I have had the pleasure of sailing with this week.

Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Lay Day in Paradise

No racing today at the Bitter End Pro Am. This was not due to lack of wind or too much wind or any court order. Just a day off to enjoy the place!

I got up at 6 with Allie who had an early ferry to catch to get back to California and school. After she left, I did my pull up, sit up, push up routine, then went for a nice swim. After breakfast I did a little work. I know…a cardinal sin. Then I took a nap before lunch. This is something I never do. The a salad and a long Laser sail around the sound. Then I joined in the local beer can racing. Now I am at dinner at the Carvery which is my favorite restaurant here. Tonight is a wine tasting evening sponsored by Fosters Wine Group. Aussie stuff but very good none the less.

A large contingent went out to Anegada for lobster, etc. Others went snorkeling. It is hard to have a bad time down here.

Tomorrow, racing resumes at 1000 with the conclusion of the round robin.

Tom Leweck, the original Curmudgeon, is down here with his lovely wife Barbara, and wanted me to tell you all that he will not be filing a report today. He is taking the whole day off.

If you can’t tell, my batteries are getting recharged.

Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Today was the first “real” day of racing here at the Pro Am. The skippers were assigned boats and amateur crews at this morning’s briefing in The Pub. The racing format is three boat racing. Three boats start and only the winner scores a point. There are two types of boats being used, the Caribbean J-24 and Hunter 21s. The skippers rotate through so that we sail 5 races in each type of boat with various crew combinations. Kind of complicated, but not important. They have handlers that figure that out for you.

Anyway, Team Cayard managed 5 wins out of 7 races today to share the lead with Ken Read who had the same score. Ken Read knows a thing or two about J-24’s and was going fast this morning. However, in the last race of the day, Anna Tunnicliffe, beat both Ken and me. There was a loud cheer that went up from the spectator boats in the area as Anna crossed the line.

I sailed back to the dock with my daughter Allie who had sailed a Laser down to watch the racing. Allie was asking Anna (Gold Medal Laser Radial) for pointers between races. It is cool to see what an icon Anna is for young women in the sport.

After the racing, Tom Leweck hosted a panel with Zack Railey, Ken Read, Anna and myself. The subject varied from the Volvo to the Olympics and yes a bit of the AC. But really, none of us know what is happening with the AC except that it is bad. Having said that, tomorrow should be an interesting day in court in New York as the judge has called in three “sailing experts” to help her sift through the muck.

The crowd had some good questions and listened attentively. I have to say, that the passion fell to Zack and Anna. They are the USA’s two best prospects in our sport. Both in their early 20’s, both with Olympic medals already. The world is theirs and they are going for it. Both are specifically training for the 2012 Olympics in England. We, the USA, really need to support these great athletes!

Tomorrow is a day off from the racing here which resumes Thursday. I am leaving Friday for Nice and the Louis Vuitton Trophy, so I will miss the semi finals and finals.

Going for some snorkeling and windsurfing tomorrow.

Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Today was the Defiance Day race here in the epicenter of yacht racing. We started at 10:00 with the first race consisting of a 7 mile leeward course and a second race of a 7 mile windward leg. We did not have Gatorade or anything like that onboard. We had water but people were using that to clean their sunglasses. We had a golden beverage that had some bubbles in it. Not quite sure what it was but it seemed to make everything seem ok.

Apparently there has been a lot of angst over some race that is supposed to take place in Multihulls some time in the near future, or maybe not so near….I am not clear on that. So the idea floated by all the hardcore “amateurs” in attendance here was, why not get that race over with so we can move on.

So Ken Read had his catamaran and I had mine. They were one design Cats and we had our guest crews onboard as usual. Onboard the “Leopard”, we had a great run down to the Bath’s winning the Catamaran division with Captain Jim at the helm. On the way back, Ken won and we finished third, so we tied. Not sure what we solved there but we finished off the contest in the Pub playing pool at the Mount Gay party. As the sun went down, everyone seemed happy and we agreed to meet again tomorrow for more racing.

There were about 15 yachts in the race, most of the “pro’s” were in IC 24’s which we will race in the rest of the week. Tom Leweck of Scuttlebutt fame actually won the Multihull division with two 2nds. Keith Musto of the UK won the IC 24 division. I note that the two skippers have a combined age of 150 years which goes to show you that experience counts in this sport.

For those of you who don’t know the “Bath’s”, it is a very cool rock formation at the west end of Virgin Gorda. There are some caves and deep water pools formed by these massive granite boulders that look like someone placed them there. We had a bar-b-q down there in between the two races.

Yesterday I had a lot of fun racing Hobie Cats with my daughter Allie. She was on the trapeze and I helmed. We managed to have the best score after three races. That was my first multihull racing experience. Today we obviously did not fair as well but the music was much better on the Moorings 4000.

Tomorrow things start to get serious around here….3 boat racing. I have done this once before and am trying to remember how it works. I am not going to sweat it too much tonight though. Maybe tomorrow before the start I will have another think about it.