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Good News: Shosho's Charles Nankin  Sep 21, 14:32

There is a post today over on the Challenger Commission blog with the happy news that Shosholoza's Charles Nankin, injured during the German Sailing Grand Prix, is making a steady recovery.

Good follow-up news from what by all reviews was a terrific event in August.

Good News: Shosho's Charles Nankin  Aug 12, 12:00

goodnews2Happy to hear that Shosho crewman Charles Rankin, who was injured on the final day of the German Sailing Grand Prix, is doing well following surgery Monday in Kiel.

Details on the Challenger Commission Blog and the Team Shosholoza website.

On behalf of all involved with BMW ORACLE Racing, our best wishes to Charles and his family Phillip and Flavia for his rapid and complete recovery.

GSGP: Epilogue  Aug 8, 13:30

[Updated Wed 0915 -- with additional photos thanks to Michael Paege whose family was a guest of our team on Sunday. See his comment (below) for nice remarks about the event, and a link to even more photos by Herr Paege.]

gsgp_head1This morning the webmaster for our main team site, Roland Neubauer (GER), drew my attention to the very nice pics of the German Sailing Grand Prix now posted in the photo gallery section of that site. Click here to see the as always excellent shots by Gilles Martin-Raget from each of the four days in Kiel.

Also, Roland has posted a "making of" story about the Kiel event, and the efforts expended by Mirko Groeschner and the rest of our marketing department, along with Shosho's and UTIG's. Well deserved nice ink.

What I want to know is who had the direkt link with the weather gods? Just look at the clear blue skies we had again on Sunday....

Mayor Volkquartz firing the starting gun for Sunday's first race. We learned during the regatta that Mayor Volkquartz has a lot of energy and enthusiam. Indeed, she can be a real pistol at times. That's our team's GSGP project manager "Pope" Benedict Horber (GER, marketing department) on her left.

"Room to tack!" Just after the start of the fleet race the action was tight up against the western shore of the Fjord where the spectators were located.

The fleet racing course on Sunday was action packed: four-leg windward-leeward (two laps) with only 1.5 mile legs.

UITG's regatta ended Sunday with the unfortunate breaking of
their forestay during the match with our guys. However, the
German team averted a disaster -- a broken mast -- by rapidly
rigging spinnaker and jib halyards to the bow in lieu of the
forestay and lowering the main.

Again on Sunday hundreds of spectator boats of all sizes and types followed the racing, all of which was run inside the narrow confines of the Kiel Fjord to the delight of the tens of thousands of spectators lining the shore.

Apparently not wanting to be upstaged by the spectators, the action in the Fjord was also surrounded by thousands of jellyfish of the non-stinging variety -- luckily for the Shosholoza crewman, who went overboard during Sunday's racing.

Our Sunday match with Shosholoza thrilled the shoreside crowd. On Monday morning the papers said up to 150,000 people had attended the four-day event. That may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but without doubt there were tens of thousands. Photo courtesy of Michael Paege.

Fantastiche! Photo courtesy of Michael Paege.

Final race on Sunday: a no-points "Thank You Kiel" exhibition match
between RSA 48 and USA 71. Click above to see a brief slide show of
the spectacular jibing dual into the finish line. There's audio (narration),

After the final match with Shosho, our team did a "flyby" down the western shore of the Fjord to thank the enthusiastic spectators. Photo courtesy of Michael Paege.

Then it was time to dock-in. Driving Chase 2, Capt Craig Christensen (NZL, head of support boat ops), gets 71 on a sidetow to back them into the yacht dock along the promenade where spectators were crammed ten deep. You can see Rodney Ernst (USA, head electron), far right, already at work dismantling the comms and TV gear on the back of the yacht so Scotty "Leroy" Sanford (NZL, logisitics), far left in the bow of Chase 2, and the other members of our shore team can get 71 quickly unrigged and towed around to the Knierem Shipyard for transport out of Kiel. Photo courtesy of Michael Paege.

Suffice to say it was a beautiful, exciting and, for
some, relaxing scene. Photo courtesy of Michael

15 minutes after docking in the teams were onstage for the perfekt prizegiving ("short and sharp" is how Sue Dickson later described it) in front several thousand people -- a bigger turnout and more exhuberant ceremony than we have seen for several of the Acts and a number of previous America's Cups for that matter. Photo courtesy of Michael Paege.

Peter Harry Carstensen, Ministerpräsident for the state of Schleswig-Holstein welcomed and congratulated the Mayoress, organizers and all three teams. SH is Germany's northern-most state and lies on the base of the peninsula of Jutland between the Baltic and the North Seas. Kiel is on the Baltic, and the Kieler Canal between the two seas is one of the busiest man-made waterways in the world.

Dicko and the rest of the sailing team on stage with the Ministerpräsident, the Mayoress and other officials. Moments later (note the big green bottle in Tony Kolb's hands, left of center)...

...they were being douched with Moet. Capt Craig seems to be leading the way, though there were others happily involved. Jann Neergaard (DEN, sailing team), Tim Hacket (NZL, shoreteam manager) in his blue team shirt, Max "Hello" Hollerl (AUT, marketing team) and the Mayoress get the brunt of Craig's champagne hosing.

Tony Kolb (GER, sailing team) holds the GSGP championship prize aloft to the delight of the several thousand who remained after the racing for the prizegiving.

The sailing team threw their hats into the crowd to wild cheers, especially from those who managed to catch one.

One of the nice touches lent to the proceedings by Bruno Trouble: inviting local Optimist sailors to sit on the stage during the prizegiving, and giving them a prime position for getting autographs afterwards.

There were winners on the water and off: a delighted Chris Dickson led our team to victory, and the Mayoress who could not have been more pleased or proud with the event and the job done by all connected with it in "Kiel Sailing City."

After the prizegiving the sailing team were swamped for autographs. Above, Rod Dawson (NZL, strategist/weather) Stu Clarke (NZL, aft grind/pit assist) takes careful aim with his pen. With thanks to the sharp-eyed anonymous commentor for setting us straight (see below).

Executives in Charge: Shosholoza's Lars Boeking (GER), UITG's Michael Scheeren (GER) and our Mirko Groeschner (GER, marketing director) soon after the event ended Sunday afternoon -- looking a bit more relaxed than they had in several weeks.

Even Bruno Trouble (FRA, Louis Vuitton media center) got into the German swing of things after the terrific prizegiving ceremony which he orchestrated Sunday afternoon. They'll love this picture in Paris -- and Valencia.

Zuruck: Some of the beautiful "Kiel Klassic" powerboats that
served as VIP spectator boats lined up at the dock after Sunday's
racing. Many were saying this regatta was a classic, and one
would not be at all surprised if America's Cup racing returns to
Kiel sooner than later.

Most of the team left Kiel very early Monday morning for the 90-minute run down the A7 to Hamburg airport and flights home. The team was nicely accommodated at the Hotel Steigenberger, which was rather more quiet when this picture was taken Monday morning than it had been the previous five days.

Final Day: Tough Breaks for Shosho and UITG  Aug 6, 17:24

gsgp_headAnother sparkling day in Kiel, with thousands of spectators lining the shores and hundreds of spectator boats taking in the action -- and another nearly flawless performance by our guys on USA 71 in the four races today, giving us the GSGP title.

Unfortunately, a Shosho crewman was flicked overboard during today's first fleet race. He managed to hold onto a rope from the cockpit but was dragged under the boat where his back struck the rudder. After surfacing he was pulled aboard the chase boat (captured live on TV) and rushed to a local hospital. The doctors said he will be okay, but will require surgery this week for several fractured vertebrae. Reportedly, there was no nerve damage, but he faces a few months of rehab after the surgery. Our best wishes for a full and rapid recovery!

Shosho nonetheless finished that race, and they gallantly finished out the day's program of races.

UITG looked good in the fleet race, finishing a close second to us. This set up what appeared to be a winner-take-all match between UITG and ourselves. Today's matches counted double -- 12 points for a win compared to the 6 for winning a match racing on Friday and Saturday. During a tacking duel half way up the first leg, UITG's forestay (the wire that holds the mast up in front, and to which the front edge of the genoa is attached) broke. This often results in the mast snapping. However, their crew were quick to rig spinnaker and jib halyards in lieu of the forestay, and they got the sails down quickly to reduce the load on the mast. Likely the mast suffered some structural damage, and UITG had no choice but to retire from the regatta.

We went on to beat Shosho in today's match, giving us another 12 points. We also bested them in the final "fleet" race (two boats only). So BMW ORACLE won the GSGP handily, and UITG finished just ahead of Shosho in total points to claim second overall. Details on our main team website.

With the regatta clinched by 71 and a bit of extra time before the prizegiving scheduled for1530 with the mayor and the state governor, Shosho and our guys agreed to a "friendly" for no points over a 0.8nm per leg windward-leeward. The yachts did a particularly aggressive match-racing start, then tacked up and jibed back down the west shore of the Kiel Fjord to the delight of the tens of thousands assembled, and crossed the finish line in a virtual dead heat. Nothing short of spectacular.

By any measure the regatta was a huge success on and off the water. No doubt this event opened a lot of eyes to what is possible, or should be possible, at similar events with ACC yachts anywhere in the world -- whether an exhibition or official AC event.

Full marks to Tom Ross and his organizing committee, the entire race management team led by Eckart Reinke and Benjamin Storm, to Mirko Groeschner and the rest of our marketing department and those of Shosholoza and UITG, Bruno Trouble who was here representing ACM/LV and serving as emcee as well as media center maven, and especially Sam Usher and his stellar TV crew from Narrowstep along with the very capable Virtual Eye graphics-display team.

From the sound of the phone call just received from the hospitality center, our team is in the midst of a well-deserved celebration. Later this evening will be a thank-you barbecue for all the teams, organizers and media.

Our hearfelt thanks to the organizing committee, to Kiel and the Schleswig-Holstein region, and to all who made us feel so welcome here. We'll try to get some pictures posted tomorrow morning, and in the meantime enjoy the photos by Gilles Martin-Raget on the team photo site. And look for more exclusive video on the Valencia Sailing website.

A photo from yesterday's match with Shosho, which could be an ad saying "We Love Kiel."

Perfekt!  Aug 6, 07:22

Day 2 was perfekt for the GSGP and BMW ORACLE Racing.

Excellent weather and wind, good decision by organizers Tom Ross, Eckart Reinke & Co. to run the fleet races back to back (the nine miles out to Schilksee, finish, start FR2, and race back into the fjord to finish in front of the huge crowd on the promenade), and then all three matches in the fjord. It was a first for Kiel to have such big boats racing "inside." The TV production, despite the curve ball we threw at them at the last moment yesterday morning when we moved the match racing inside, hit another homerun. Check out the GSGP video clip running again this morning on Valencia Sailing.

And as you may have read elsewhere (our main team website is running great GSGP reports), Dicko & Co. won all four of their races yesterday -- two fleet and both matches. 71 looked happy in the 12-15 knots, and our crewwork was nearly flawless all day, especially in the match with UITG where 71 came from behind on the short (1.5 mile) run to the finish.

Photos? Well they, too, are all over the web. But, again, check out our terrific team photo site for all of Gilles Martin-Raget's latest shots.

Finally, my favorite shot of the regatta so far, if not the entire year, is below, courtesy of the Louis Vuitton Media Center and Bruno Trouble. As usual, click on the photo to enlarge -- this one's well worth the extra click.

Near the end of the second fleet race Friday, won by Shosho, as the yachts pass the Kieler Yacht Club. The fleet of Optis racing here last week for the German Optimist Dinghy Championship sailed out to greet the fleet. Photo by Richard Walch (GER).

Another perfekt day in store for today. Our thanks to Chris Bedford for keeping us posted with wx info and these daily slides from Valencia. And to Pierre Orphanidis (Valencia Sailing) for the kind email about how useful CB's daily weather slide is for all.

GSGP Day 2: Preview  Aug 5, 07:34

Even the weather is cooperating. Could not have been better yesterday -- warm, no rain, nice 10-12 knot breeze. Today it has dawned clear and cool, and Chris Bedford's forecast is for stronger winds again out of the northeast -- the perfekt direction for the alignment and location of the race courses we have here in Kiel.

Today's format and timing the same as yesterday's:

12:00 - Warning Signal, Fleet Race 1
12:05 - Start, FR1, in the Kiel fjord off the Promenade
13:15 - Finish, FR1*
13:30 - Start, Match Race 1, USA vs GER *
14:30 - Start, Match Race 2, GER vs. RSA*
15:30 - Start, Match Race 3, RSA vs. USA*
16:30 - Start, Fleet Race 2*
17:50 - Finish, FR2, in the Kiel fjord off the Promenade

*Finish of FR1, all match racing, and the start of FR2 takes place in the famous sailing waters off Schilksee, site of the 1972 Olympic Harbour.

Even the weather is cooperating. Today should be the windiest of the three days we are racing here in Kiel.

Spectator Spectacular  Aug 5, 07:00

First, check out the video of yesterday's racing on the Valencia Sailing website. Bloody spectular job Sam Usher and his team from Narrowstep are doing here with the TV: onboard cameramen, brilliant heli shots, clear, stable shots from the camera boat; the racing is shown live throughout the venue including a huge screen on the public-event stage, and at times live on German TV; highlights packages are being sent by satellite to broadcasters the world over each evening.

Then, if you are anywhere near Kiel, or have friends who are, the promenade is the place to be -- or on one of over 1,000 spectator boats expected today and tomorrow. Yesterday the RC said they had over 200 spectator boats.

Typical of the viewing for yesterday's fleet racing off the promenade in downtown Kiel. Our team won the first fleet race; Shosholoza eeked out a win in the second with BMWOR was overlapped in second place and UITG only a boatlength behind us. Racing continues today and Sunday. Over 100,000 shoreside spectators are expected at the venue this weekend. Photo courtesy of the official event photographer Marina Koenitzer.

Super Fantastiche!  Aug 4, 21:04

gsgp_head2Sorry, but just too busy to write an extensive post tonight between debriefs, VIP and media functions, the team BBQ, etc. Suffice to say it was a fantastic day in (at least) the modern history of the America's Cup. For the straight scoop and more, check out:


An excerpt from an email to key members of the org cte just received from Bruno Trouble:

On behalf of everybody at the Louis Vuitton Media centre , I would like to
congratulate you for the quality of the event:

- The weather is ideal
- The race courses are clever
- The TV coverage is AMAZING
- Virtual eye works perfect !
- The racing is close - penalties are flying which is a good sign!!
- The village is friendly and very alive

WELL DONE to everyone involved . It is a great promotion for the America's Cup and I am pleased and proud on behalf of LV to be involved!

That pretty well sums up the day as well or better than anything I could write. Before showering and running off to the VIP center to emcee a charity auction for the local childrens' hospital [update 0615 Saturday morning: €3600 was raised through the generosity of the three teams, each of which had donated significant prizes for the auction and an enthusiastic audience of VIPs], here is my favorite moment of the day -- the fabulous finish of the second fleet race notwithstanding....

Ian "Fresh" Burns (AUS, sailing team navigator) being mobbed for autographs, along with other sailing team members from all three teams, by local junior sailors after the finish of the day's racing. Just look at the expression on this young lady's face -- super fantastiche, indeed.

The three teams coming into the finish line this evening at the end of the fleet race back into the Kiel Fjord from the match racing area off the 1972 Olympic Yachting Village. Congrats to Shosho for their well-deserved win. In our sport, it doesn't get better than today.

Thursday: GSGP Day 1  Aug 4, 04:45

Day 1 in a nutshell: great venue, good organization, nice weather, enthusiastic mayor, fun pro-am regatta, shakedown sail for USA 71 and the sailing team, unexpectedly large public turnout (5000+), eating ostrich (interesting) at the teams' BBQ hosted by Shosholoza.

Things were in full swing at the venue early Thursday, where we were greeted with the casual German morning greeting, "Moin, moin."

All systems go: the 0900 "event operations meeting."

Bruno Trouble (FRA, left) is here to run the Louis Vuitton media center. Karen Webb (USA, Oracle Corp and BMWOR marketing team) is managing the VIP Hospitality Center. Benedict Horber (GER, marketing team) is the overall projekt manager for the GSGP, and has done a nice job pulling the details together here in Kiel over the past several weeks.

Sam Usher (GBR), head of the TV production for the World
Match Racing Tour, is running the television show here which
includes live coverage and regular news features on German
TV, highlights packages being fed by satellite each evening to
the USA and South Africa (among other countries), and live
coverage of all the racing each day on the TV screens
around the venue.

Tom Ross is a lawyer by day here in Kiel. An avid racing
sailor, he also heads the organizing committee for Kieler
-- the famous annual regatta here in "Kiel Sailing
City" which, year after year, is one of the world's largest
sailing events. Tom is also head of the local organizing
committee for the GSGP.

As the ops meeting was wrapping up in the VIP Center, a ferry boat passed by the venue headed for the docks just to the south of the venue. One of many ferries each day coming in and out of Kiel, this one I believe makes the run to and from Goteborg, Sweden. Many of the GSGP races (fleet and match) will be started and finished where the ferry boat is in the photo above -- which will give great viewing for the public onshore as well as for the hundreds of spectator boats expected.

The Louis Vuitton media center was already in use Thursday morning. Over 100 media have been accredited, more than for Act 12 in Valencia.

Press information is being provided in five languages.

Meanwhile back at the hotel, the sailing team was studying the charts of the racing area. Above left is Ian "Fresh" Burns (AUS, sailing/design teams) who will the navigator on USA 71, Skipper/CEO Chris Dickson (NZL) and bowman Tony Kolb (GER). Tony has sailed extensively at Kiel and has plenty of local knowledge, onshore as well as afloat. Racing will be in the fjord, so avoiding the shallow spots will be one of the challenges for Fresh and chase boat captain Craig Christensen (NZL).

Making final adjustments to the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions: Race Director Eckhart Reinke, Race Committee navigator Juergen Gottschald, Principal Race Officer Benjamin Storm (all are esteemed local sailing officials), and Jury Chairman Tom Ehman (USA, BMWOR's head of external affairs). Other members of the jury (not pictured) are Capt. Salvatore Sarno (RSA, managing director of Team Shosholoza) and Wolf Dietz (GER, UITG's rep to the Challenger Commission and a member of their sailing team).

Support team members taking in the opening ceremony: Capt Craig Christensen (NZL, chase boat), Scotty "Laurent" Sandford (NZL, logistics manager), Kevin Batten (NZL, masts/rigger), Pete Balash (USA, winches), Ryan Godfrey (AUS, sails) and Tim Hacket (AUS, shore team mgr).

Mayor Volkquartz welcomes the teams and public to the GSGP....

...taken in by some of the dozens of media in attendance including all of Germany's major TV networks...

...and a surprisingly large crowd for a Thursday afternoon. Organizers reported over 5,000 people passed through the venue yesterday.

Late afternoon the teams were introduced in a tow-by parade, first "host team" United Internet Team Germany's GER 72 led by skipper Jesper Bank (DEN).

Then came Team Shosholoza's RSA 48 skippered by Mark Sadler (RSA). Mark won yesterday's informal pro-am regatta run in J-80s.

Last but hopefully not least came BMW ORACLE Racing's USA 71 towed by Chase 2 manned by members of the support team...

...then the "clean look" of USA 71 and our sailing team in their "summer whites." A nice touch: each of the sailors on all three teams were introduced by name and home country by the GSGP shoreside commentator.

After the parade it was time to relax in the convivial atmosphere of the "teams' compound" at a South African barbeque hosted by Shosholoza. If we get time later today we will post some more shots from this friendly and enjoyable affair.

Wednesday: GSGP Day 0  Aug 4, 04:37

Wednesday morning in the "Gorch Fock" room at the Hotel Steigenberger, the "organizing committee" from BMW ORACLE Racing, Shosholoza and United Internet Team Germany crossing the t's and dotting the i's on preparations for the German Sailing Grand Prix which gets underway here Thursday.

Wednesday afternoon the sailing team arrived from Valencia. Our Chef d' Mission for this event is Mark Bradford (AUS, sailing team). Shortly after everyone was settled in, Mark called a team meeting in the Hotel Steigenberger lounge.

GER 72, RSA 48 and USA 71 have been launched and brought around to the basin at the "GSPS Village" along the promenade fronting on the Kiel Fjord in downtown Kiel. The yachts will be "wet-sailed" (left in the water) for the duration of the event.

The venue includes an attractive public exhibition area with a stage and large-screen TV (the event will have live TV coverage!), a spacious VIP hospitality lounge and deck, a sail loft, and team "compound" area shared by the three teams making for a friendly, fun and festive atmosphere.

The tented sail loft which is also shared by the teams.