Sailing (Yachting)

Sailing (Yachting)
▪ 2009

      The Olympic Regatta was held in the Chinese port city of Qingdao during the 2008 Olympic Games. The sailing venue, with its strong currents and light air, was a challenging one for competitors. The water itself had seemed polluted to most sailors in the early regattas held there in 2007, with a large brown pool in one location of the racecourse. All competitors were wary of any contact with the water, but by the opening ceremony of the Olympics, the water was somewhat cleaner, and the shore facilities drew high praise from all participants. Great Britain won the regatta, earning four gold, one silver, and one bronze in the 11 events, while Australia was second with two golds and one silver; 18 countries won at least one medal.

      The America's Cup sputtered in court for much of the year as the Swiss defenders and the potential American challengers argued their dispute over the terms of the next competition, to be held in 2009. After a finding favourable to the challengers was issued in November 2007, the Swiss team Alinghi appealed. A 3–2 finding by a New York state appellate court the following July reversed the previous finding and reinstated Spain's Club Náutico Español de Vela as the challenger of record, thus giving the Spanish team the right to negotiate the terms of the next challenge. The American team Oracle appealed the decision to the New York Supreme Court.

      The Newport–Bermuda Race, in which 201 boats participated in June, produced some unlikely results. Winning on corrected time in both the ORR (U.S.) and the IRC (British) handicapping systems was a boat from the 1960s—Sinn Fein, a Cal 40—and a skipper from the 1930s—septuagenarian Peter Rebovich, a retired elementary-school teacher sailing with a family crew. It was Sinn Fein's second consecutive win of a St. David's Lighthouse Trophy. In second place in both systems was a 1986 11.6-m (38-ft) McCurdy sloop, Selkie, sailed by the designer's daughter, Sheila McCurdy. Conditions were light and upwind for the entire race.

      In Britain the Commodore's Cup was resuscitated, attracting 15 three-boat teams from six countries to compete. Britain's Red Team (Fair Do's VII, a Ker 46, Erivale III, a Ker 39, and Quokka 7, a Corby 39) won the event after some close racing.

      At the Acura Key West Race in January, Barking Mad was the winner in the marquee Farr 40 class, in which a total of 25 boats competed. In April, 33 boats from 10 countries participated in the Farr 40 world championship in Miami Beach, where Vincenzo Onorato's Mascalzone Latino took the title for the third consecutive year.

      Box rule boats continued to gain popularity, led by the Transpac 52s (TP52s), which competed at each of the six venues on the Audi MedCup circuit. In smaller boats, the Moths continued to lead the world in the application of hydrofoil technology. At the Moth world championships, held at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy in Dorset, Eng., all 79 boats “flew” around the course at double-digit speeds. International 14s featured lifting foils on their rudders, and the foil technology was being backfitted into other dinghies, notably the RS600 class. In March a new sailboard speed record of 49.09 knots was set by Frenchman Antoine Albeau on a canal in France. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a new record for the smallest sailboat to complete a transatlantic passage: Frenchman Franck Andreotta, in a 172-cm (5.64-ft) sloop, made the voyage in 48 days.

      Several other sailing records were achieved during the year. In January the record for a solo nonstop circumnavigation was set by François Joyon of France, who sailed his 29-m (95-ft) trimaran IDEC around the world in 57 days 13 hr 34 min, averaging 15.84 knots. In June ICAP Leopard, a 30.5-m (100-ft) supermaxi, set a transatlantic record for a monohull yacht with powered winches of 7 days 19 hr 21 min. Frenchman Lionel Lemonchois and his 21.3-m (70-ft) maxi-catamaran Gitana 13 set several passage records: New York City to San Francisco via Cape Horn (43 days 38 min); San Francisco to Yokohama, Japan (11 days 12 min 55 sec), and Hong Kong to London (41 days 21 hr 26 min).

John B. Bonds

▪ 2008
 In summer 2007 the America's Cup completed its three-year course of almost continuous competition, with a spectacular final series between defending Alinghi of Switzerland and challenger Emirates Team New Zealand. The ACC boats— Alinghi and New Zealand, respectively—were equal in speed, and the crews were professional in their performance, after three years of full-time preoccupation with the quest for the Cup. After four races the two teams were tied at two races each before Alinghi went ahead four races to two. The seventh and final race saw the lead change numerous times, the last time at the finish line, and Alinghi won by a scant one-second margin as New Zealand completed a penalty just before finishing. It was an exciting encounter, displayed beautifully in 3-D animation online and by worldwide television, using racetrack software to provide an overhead view of the competition. Almost immediately, the Swiss team announced new conditions for the next challenge in 2009, some of which appeared to favour the defender. The potential challengers objected, and the American team Oracle filed an independent challenge to take place in 2008. The New York Trust Court would decide the case, determining what could be done under the terms of the Deed of Gift of the Cup.

      The Sydney–Hobart Race in December 2006 was a hard bash to windward, conditions that posed an engineering challenge for the new canting keel speedsters. Wild Oats XI proved its mettle, however, and repeated its 2005 first-to-finish performance. The IRC (the British empirical one-number system) corrected-time winner was Love and War, a 1973 14-m (47-ft) S&S wooden boat that thrived in the conditions, earning its third victory in this classic race. Wild Oats XI also won the 2007 race.

      In Europe there was no Admiral's Cup in 2007, but the Fastnet Race drew 300 entries (and more were turned away). First to finish was ICAP Leopard, a 30-m (100-ft) canting keel “supermaxi” that set a new course record of 1 day 20 hr 18 min for the 608-nm (nautical miles; 1 nm = 1.85 km) course (average speed 13.52 knots). The corrected-time winner was Chieftain, an Irish Cookson 50.

      The Transpacific Race from California to Hawaii saw unusually light air, which was a disappointment to many owners who had “turboed” their boats for strong winds astern. Even the big boats took a week to make the run. First to finish was Pyewacket (7 days 1 hr 11 min 56 sec), and Reinrag2 (J/125) was the corrected-time winner under the ORR handicapping system (IMS derivative).

      The offshore handicap transition continued, with IRC gaining adherents in the grand prix fleets around the world while IMS and its measurement-based derivatives maintained a following, particularly among dual-purpose cruiser-racers. Offshore one-designs remained popular, with the Farr 40 at the top of the pyramid. Box rule boats became increasingly favoured, led by the Transpac 52s, boasting a fleet of more than 20 in the Mediterranean, with tight competition.

      Several new records were set in 2007. Groupama 3, a 32-m (105-ft) trimaran, sailed across the Atlantic in 4 days 3 hr 57 min 54 sec, averaging 28.65 knots for the 2,925 nm and setting a new 24-hour distance of 794 nm in the process. The 18-m (60-ft) trimaran Gitana XI set a record going the other way—from Saint Malo, France, to Guadaloupe—of 7 days 17 hr 19 min 6 sec (at an average speed of 19.11 knots for the 3,542 nm), cutting 4 days off the previous time.

John B. Bonds

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

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