Big-boat sailing headlines are being driven by the Rolex Middle Sea Race, an event that is widely reported to take place on one of the world’s most spectacular racecourses. According to reports, Michele Galli’s 'B2', a modified TP52, currently holds the fastest corrected-time performance, completing the course in just over three days. While there are plenty of boats that are still competing, 'B2' could be looking strong on corrected time if the breeze remains soft.
ESIMIT EUROPA 2 (SLO) approaching Stromboli at sunset - Rolex Middle Sea Race
Yet despite their great performance, the sailing was anything but all smooth for the 'B2' team. 'On the second night we had a major problem,' reported the team’s navigator, Nacho Postigo. 'All of our electronic instruments shut down completely. So we have been sailing with a smartphone for a compass, we have raced 'B2' like a dinghy and Francesco [de Angelis] has had to call the strategy almost completely blind, I don't think he has had more than two hours sleep, he must be exhausted.'
E1, AUT - Rolex Middle Sea Race
Get the full story on the Rolex Middle Sea Race, inside this issue.
Meanwhile, in Cup circles, the hiring game has already begun for the 35th America’s Cup. Not surprisingly, given the Australian-flagged Challenger of Record (CoR), Aussie sailors are in high demand, especially Jimmy Spithill and Tom Slingsby, who served (respectively) as skipper and strategist on Oracle Team USA.
Oracle Team USA v Emirates Team New Zealand. America's Cup Day 3, San Francisco. Oracle Team USA's Tom Slingsby at the Media Conference after Race 5
'They have to act really fast,' said Slingsby, referring to the CoR. 'After the Cup, there's a sort of transfer window. Less than a week after the Cup I had a few teams approach me and I have been in talks with a lot of them.'
While Slingsby fully aims to eventually sail for Australia in the Cup, he’s realistic about the foreseeable future, as well as his still-active contract with Oracle. 'I want to be part of a team that can win the Cup,' said Slingsby. 'It's great that Australia's back in the race and full credit to [the CoR] for making that happen. I expect to be part of an Australian team in the America's Cup, but whether it is this one or 10 years down the track, I don't know yet.'
Emirates Team NZ sailing crew - 34th America’s Cup
Also in Cup news, word recently hit the streets that the New Zealand government has given Emirates Team New Zealand a five-million dollar cash infusion to keep the team rolling towards AC35. 'The extent of the enthusiastic reception when we arrived back in New Zealand was both unexpected and encouraging and an incentive to challenge again,' said Grant Dalton, ETNZ’s Managing Director.
'We have been talking informally to existing and potential sponsors,' said Dalton. 'Decisions by Oracle on venue, dates and class of yacht are fundamental to the way ahead.'
2013 Mini Transat fleet.
And in France, the skippers who have assembled for the start of the Mini Transat are still getting vexed by a weather system that simply isn’t giving the RC a good (read: safe) window to start the sprint from Douarnenez, France to Puerto Celero in the Canary Islands. Because of this, the sailors are resorting to a variety of activities and strategies to stay sharp and fit, prior to the eventual start.
'We enjoy the small activities offered by [the event organizers], and we like to go walking,' said David Genest. 'In any case, one is better off here than if we were at sea and a fortnight stopover in Douarnenez is really not so bad, there is so much to discover in the area. In the evenings we put the world to rights, it was even suggested that one day the Mini will start from the Mediterranean!' More, inside.
Luderitz Speed Challenge
Also inside, get the full report from the Luderitz Speed Challenge, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and the Hobie 16 and Hobie 18 North Americans.
May the four winds blow you safely home,