Navy to the Rescue...Baffling Cup decisions...Kiwis start in Europeans

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 10 Jul 2014

Navy to the Rescue...Baffling Cup decisions...Kiwis start in Europeans

The view of the yacht Django II from Otago's bridge wing as the ship considers the best way to effect a rescue in 4-metre swells  New Zealand Defence Force
Welcome to's New Zealand e-magazine for July 9, 2014

By any measure, the rescue of three crew from the stricken J/111 Django, was a remarkable feat of seamanship by the Royal New Zealand Navy and the yacht crew.

Conditions in the area were not nice. It was tough enough ashore in the 40kt plus winds on Tuesday night, let alone in the Pacific Ocean in 50-60kts winds and a 4-5metre sea.

Yesterday's rescue contracts with the tragedy of the Cheeki Rafiki, a Beneteau First 40.7 which capsized after losing her keel in the Atlantic just six weeks ago.

Both yachts were returning home after races. The British yacht had four crew aboard, the New Zealand one had three.

Both incidents started similarly, with the crews realising they had a problem and contacting a shore base. But that is where the two situations diverge.

Preparing the swimmer's gantry, for LT Simon Wasley, ship's diver, to dive into the water to further assist the rescue  New Zealand Defence Force

Django quite correctly went straight to a Mayday call status, activating a response from the Rescue Co-Ordination Centre in New Zealand.

They also got their liferaft rigged, stopped and waited for assistance. Maybe with broken steering in those conditions, they had little choice but to stop. However, Cheeki Raffiki kept sailing with a leaky boat, and kept the liferaft stowed in the boat.

From there, we don't know what happened to Cheeki Raffiki, as she sailed away from her last known position. It took several days and a restarted search before she was found.

Django had little choice but to stay put, and the crew sensibly made the decision to get off the boat when help arrived. Whether the boat would survive the night is largely irrelevant. The simple fact is that you aren't going to stay around and find out. Trying to evacuate in the night, in those conditions would have been very difficult at best.

The stricken yacht Django viewed from HMNZS Otago  New Zealand Defence Force

It is hard to envisage how the Royal NZ Navy could have trained for such a rescue. But they certainly had the resources aboard, made the right decisions at the right time, had a good plan and executed properly - even though they were under pressure of nightfall, and very testing sea state.

The courage of Lt Simon Wasley, in kitting up, diving into the ocean and swimming a line across to the stricken yacht, almost defies belief.

Doing such an act in calm weather, and flat seas may seem a little routine. But in 50kt winds and five metre seas - you have to have an awful lot of confidence in your own ability to survive. How he was able to swim in those conditions with a line dragging behind him is quite amazing.

The yacht crew seems to have done everything right, and remarkably are safe and ashore in New Zealand less than 24 hours after being evacuated.

A very happy Django skipper Ben Costello with crewmates Bex Heikema and Andrew Cooke- Django crew arrive ashore at Devonport Naval Base July 9, 2014  New Zealand Defence Force

So often these incidents end in tragedy. But this one has ended in smiles, gratitude and respect.

That does not mean there should not be an Inquiry. It is only from these events that we can learn - even if to show that the actions taken were correct. Maybe there is something that could have been done better. But if it does prove to be a textbook rescue, it is a textbook lesson that should be widely publicised, not just in NZ, but internationally.

In this edition, we bring you the best reports we can at this stage. Plus two audio interviews with the Commanding officer of HMNZS Otago, and the Rescue Co-Ordination Centre. We have also obtained reasonably high resolution images of the rescue, which while slightly out of focus, certainly show the scene on the water - and don't forget how much the camera flattens off any sea. Double or treble the sight that you see in the images, and you will start to appreciate the sea state and conditions.

- San Diego America's Cup World Series - Fleet Race  © ACEA /Gilles Martin-Raget

This morning the America's Cup Event Authority announced the list of Venues for the 35th America's Cup had been cut to two - with Chicago being dropped from the list.

Staying in the hunt are Bermuda, a tax haven, which seems to be driving the decision. Plus we suspect that they have offered the highest event fee.

Also in the frame is San Diego, venue for the 1992 and 1995 America's Cups. In some ways, San Diego is a credible venue, as any port that has hosted two America's cups would be.

Ian Gibbs' original Half Tonner, Swuzzlebubble, now owned by Peter Morton (GBR) is topping the leaderboard at the Half Ton Classics Cup 2014  Fiona Brown Communications

But talk of holding the Match inside San Diego Bay makes little sense. It is a confined stretch of water, notable for considerable shipping and traffic passage. Will the harbour be closed for racing? Will it be closed to allow the teams to practice ahead of the racing?

By our estimate, the available leg length is 2.2nm, assuming the wind is blowing straight down the channel. In San Francisco, the leg length was 3.6nm and took about six minutes to cover the downwind leg.

Expressed in Auckland terms, 2.2nm is the same as starting a race off the Tank Farm on the western Viaduct and having the windward mark off the Masonic Hotel on the Devonport waterfront. The boats don't even get as far as North Head - and that is an America's Cup course???

Volvo Cork Week 2014 - 1720, Heroes & Villains  © Tim Wright /

San Diego is notorious for its lighter winds. Some say that the AC62 will be more challenging for the crews as they attempt to foil in such conditions and will need a wider range of crew skills than sailing in the narrow 10kt wind band, single direction breeze that prevailed in San Francisco.

But if the venue is light winds in San Diego, why sail high-performance foiling catamarans in such a venue? Clearly they come into their own in a big breeze, and that is what gets the attention of the fans. Sailing conditions and spectacle should be what is driving this venue selection. The best sailing venue was dropped in the first cut.

What is happening with the venue selection for the America's Cup is just baffling to most Cup-watchers.

Volvo 65 Team Alvimedica practicing in Newport, RI  George Bekris ©

2014 Finn Silver Cup  Robert Deaves/Finn Class©
Stay tuned to our website for the latest news and developments.

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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Stay up with the latest sailing news, as it happens, at

Fantasy - Day 1 Half Ton Cup 2014  Fiona Brown Communications

49er and 49erFX European Championships 2014  © Mick Anderson/

2014 Nacra 17 European Championship  Antoine Beysens

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After being based in Australia since 2008, the Bakewell-White 30m Supermaxi 'Lahana' (nee Konica Minolta, nee Zana) has returned to New Zealand for what the designer called 'a major refit'. Renamed 'Rio', her new US owners wanted a boat that would be able to have a serious crack at the Barn Door Trophy in the Transpac Race, which runs from Los Angeles to Hawaii.... [more]
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Collinson FX Market Commentary: July 9, 2014 - New stat pushes ANZACs
Collinson FX,
July 9, 2014: A slow leak appeared in a rather large equity bubble overnight. The sell-off gained momentum with the DOW plunging back below the record 17,000 level. Nervous investors have been spooked by Banks predicting an end to the biggest monetary expansion in history.... [more]
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Rescued sailors reach shore after dramatic ocean rescue
.The three sailors plucked from the J/111 Django have reached shore after their dramatic rescue on nightfall yesterday. Just 170nm from the NZ coast the yacht broke its rudder shaft, in 50kts winds and 5metre seas. The crew made a Mayday call which was picked up by the New Zealand based Rescue Co-Ordination Centre who tasked, two vessels to divert about 90nm to the location of the yacht.... [more]
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Half Ton Classics Cup: Swuzzlebubble out front on Day 1 in France
Fiona Brown,
Stunning, is the best way to describe day one of the 2014 Half Ton Classics Cup in Saint-Quay-Portriuex. The weather offered something for everyone including plenty of sunshine and a range of wind conditions, the race management provided three great windward leeward races, and the Half Tonners and their crews excelled themselves by providing seat of the pants racing all day.... [more]
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NZL Sailing Team: 49er, FX and Nacra Racing underway for Europeans
Jodie Bakewell-White,
Racing is underway at the European Championships for the Olympic 49er and 49erFX skiffs (in Helsinki) and also for the Olympic Nacra 17 multihull (in La Grande Motte). Peter Burling and Blair Tuke sailed three races on the opening day in Helsinki. Conditions were 7-12 knots on the courses for the men's racing, building later for the women in the FX rigged skiffs who raced second.... [more]
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Nacra 17 Europeans: Success for Italy's Bissaro and Sicouri
Camille El Beze,
If the loss of the first day of racing at the Nacra 17 European Championships due to too little wind was the price to be paid in order to have great Mistral conditions today off La Grande Motte, then many of the 71 competing crews would accept that as a worthwhile tax.... [more]
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America's Cup: 2017 venue short-list reduced to two Cities
Two potential host cities for the 35th America's Cup have been shortlisted. Two cities have now been cut from the original list of four. A final decision is now to be made by the end of the year, instead of the end of September as originally indicated.... [more]
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Finn Silver Cup - Pedersen and Kistanov slug it out + Video
Robert Deaves,
At the Finn Silver Cup, Anders Pedersen (NOR) and Arkadiy Kistanov (RUS) engaged in a battle of wits on the third day in Hoorn, Netherlands to slug it out for the overall lead. Kistanov narrowly missed out on all three race wins but the final score was was one win for Pederden and two for Kistanov. This left Pedersen leading Kistanov by two points with Nenad Bugarin (CRO) 23 points back in third.... [more]
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49er and 49erFX Europeans: Pitfalls aplenty on day 1 + Video
International 49er Class,
The opening day at the 49er and 49erFX European Championships was a tricky one for a variety of reasons and started with a bang. 2013 European's Silver medalists, Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign hit a rock near the port layline of course C, splitting their hull wide open.... [more]
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Volvo Ocean Race - Team Brunel opt for experienced winner
Volvo Ocean Race,
Experienced French sailor Laurent Pagès has been chosen by Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking to complete his line-up for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. Pagès brings a winning pedigree to the Dutch challengers after he helped guide Groupama to victory in the last edition in 2011-12.... [more]
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Team Alvimedica practice in Newport, RI - Photos
George Bekris,
Photos of Team Alvimedica practicing in Newport, RI before the departure and transatlantic training run.... [more]
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18 foot skiff European Championship (Open Europeans) - Final results
Dan Ibsen,
The European Championship is one of the four Grand Prix races in Europe. Next race is in Travemunde, Germany in July and in the end of August the Dutch Grand Prix will take place in Bruinisse.... [more]
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Crew rescued by navy patrol from J/111 racer after Mayday in storm
Richard Gladwell/,
Updated to include images from the rescue and two interviews. Earlier, Maritime NZ have confirmed that the J/111 Django was abandoned off the coast of the North Island of New Zealand late Tuesday afternoon and the three crew taken aboard a Navy patrol vessel. The yacht was returning from the ANZ Fiji Race, when she experienced strong easterly winds about 170nm off the coast of the North Island.... [more]
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Red Bull 49erFX: This is why we do what we do best
Molly Meech and Alex Maloney,
This is why we come to Europe. 50 boats, from almost as many different countries around the world, on the same racecourse. At home, a tactical or boat-handling mistake might cost a place or two - here it is more like 10. This big fleet racing experience is critical to our build up to the Olympics in Rio 2016.... [more]
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Half Ton Classics Cup - Closely fought competition expected
Fiona Brown,
With pre-regatta registration now complete 22 teams have confirmed their entry to the 2014 Half Ton Classics Cup, hosted by the Sport Nautique Saint-Quay-Portrieux (SNSQP). Whilst the entry number might be smaller than in recent years the standard of the fleet is without doubt exceptional and a very closely fought competition is expected.... [more]
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