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Speed, Cup dreams and the Vendee—Sailing News from the U.S. and Beyond

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 28 Nov 2012
Paul Larsen and his Vestas Sailrocket 2 team celebrate their latest record © Helena Darvelid/VestasSailrocket http://www.sailrocket.com/
It’s official-the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) has ratified Australian Paul Larsen’s speed run over a 500-meter span of water as the world’s fastest run of this length. Larsen was 'sailing' aboard his wingsail and hydrofoil-powered Vestas Sailrocket 2 on Namibia’s Walvis Bay when he set the stunning average pace of 59.23 knots over this span, thus nudging out American kiteboarder Rob Douglas as the fastest man afloat.


Larsen is now the official holder of the WSSRC’s 'Outright World and World 'B' Division Sailing Speed Record', but Douglas has already let it be known that he plans to try to recapture his title at this year’s Luderitz Speed Challenge (December 3-16 for kiteboarders). Get the scoop on Larsen’s latest record, and stay tuned for more, as it unfurls.





Meanwhile, in Olympic sailing circles, Team Great Britain’s Ben Ainslie-the storied winner of four Gold and one Silver Olympic Sailing medals-formally announced his retirement from Olympic sailing. 'When I look back there are so many special memories; from that first medal in Atlanta 16 years ago to carrying the flag at the closing ceremony in London 2012,' reported Ainslie. 'London was an incredibly special Olympics, competing on home waters and in front of a home crowd, I don’t think anything will be able to top that experience. But you have to move forwards and it is time to move onto the next challenge in my career.'


For Ainslie, this next challenge is America’s Cup World Series 2012/2013, where he is skipper of J.P. Morgan-backed Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) team, and the build-up to the 34th America’s Cup as he gets ready to work with Oracle Racing next year, driving one of the team’s two AC72s in pre-Cup training.





'The America’s Cup has always been a goal for me,' said Ainslie, who has high and long-term ambitions for his BAR team. 'With the new format of the America’s Cup World Series and the increased commercialization of the event, I feel confident that we can continue to build towards creating a commercially viable team, with the ultimate goal of challenging for the 35th America’s Cup.' More, inside.





And in offshore-sailing circles, Alex Thomson (GBR) has rocketed into second place in the singlehanded, nonstop-and-unassisted-around-the-world Vendee Globe Race. While happy to see his place advance on the thirteen-strong fleet, Thomson was quick to acknowledge that this fortune could prove short-lived, depending on how the leading pack of IMOCA 60s enters the Roaring 40s, en route to the first of the three great capes. Don’t miss the full multi-media Vendee Globe report, inside this issue.


Also inside, get the latest previews of the World Match Racing Tour’s upcoming Monsoon Cup, learn about the 49erFX’s World Cup debut at this year’s Sail Melbourne, and find out why Syd Fischer, 85, is particularly excited to sail in this year’s Sydney-Hobart Race (his 44th).


May the four winds blow you safely home,

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