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Sydney-Hobart Kudos  Jan 4, 08:25

sydhobmap250Over the past 61 years, the Sydney-Hobart has become an icon of Australia’s summer sport, ranking in public interest with such national events as the Melbourne Cup horse race, the Davis Cup tennis and the cricket tests between Australia and England. One of the two or three most prestigious ocean races in the world, no yachting event today attracts such huge media coverage -– except, of course, the America’s Cup and the Round the World Race.

Congrats to BMWOR's design coordinator Ian Burns (AUS) and sailing team member Rodney Daniel (AUS) who raced aboard first-to-finish (second year in a row) Wild Oats XI in last week's 630nm "bluewater classic."

They were champs on shore as well. At the 2 January prizegiving it was announced that the Wild Oats XI crew had clubbed together to donate AUD$ 2,000 for the cancer fund-raising being carried out during the race by British skipper Michelle Colenso, who's Oyster 55 Capriccio of Rhu won the Cruising Division. Mid-way through a round the world cruise Colenso was diagnosed with breast cancer and she competed in the Sydney Hobart despite being mid-way through her chemotherapy treatment.

More at the Sydney-Hobart Race official website.

Wild Oats XI leading the fleet out of Sydney Harbour soon after the start on Boxing Day (26 Dec).

On board Wild Oats Fresh normally pulls navigating duties. Contrary to earlier reports, that is not his polished dome pulling on a halyard at the mast, but Tim Wiseman who, one hears, is often mistaken for Fresh -- hopefully only in photos like these, not in the pubs.

Line honours: WO XI was first to arrive into Hobart with an elapsed time of 02:08:52:33.

David "Ratty" Blanchfield (AUS), David "Brookie" Brooke (NZL), Noel "Nitro" Drennan (IRL) and Phil "Blood" Jameson (NZL) raced on 4th to finish and IRC Class B winner Yendys. Yes, that's Sydney backwards. Ratty was integral in making it all happen, not only as boat captain but in recruiting the other BMWOR sailors. We can make out Blood sitting on the rail forward, far right above.

One hears some of our guys may have been racing on Ichi Ban, which was second to finish and won IRC Class A. As always, any help from those in the know would be appreciated.

Only Three Months to Go!  Jan 3, 11:49

hourglass24Hard to believe, but the final AC 32 pre-regatta, Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13, begins on 3 April -- three months from today. The Act 13 Notice of Race has now been published by Regatta Director Dyer Jones, and is available to read or download here.

The Challenger Commission has a good (in your Ed.'s humble opinion) story posted that explains the 2007 AC racing program, including Act 13's fleet racing format and schedule.

Why is Act 13 so important?

+ It is the last time the Defender formally gets to race with the Challengers. When the AC 32 Protocol was negotiated, Alinghi insisted on having Act 13 as a means for the them to "check in" with the Challengers, because....

+ In Act 13 the Challengers and the Defender must use one of their "declared" AC 32 yachts (on or before 31 March each team must declare the one or two Version 5 ACC yachts, built in their home country, that they may use in the LVC and/or Match). With the LVC starting just eight days after Act 13, you can be sure that the Challengers will be using their Top Gear. The Defender? We shall see.

+ The Defender aside, the Challengers will be battling for their final Louis Vuitton Ranking points. This is a "times three" regatta so the top Challenger in Act 13 will score 11 x 3 or 33 ranking points, second place 10 x 3 or 30 points, etc. Together with points accrued in Acts 4-12, these final ranking points will determine the overall standing of the Challengers going into the Louis Vuitton Cup, which in turn determines how many bonus points each Challenger gets to carry into the LVC Rounds Robin. There are LVC tie-breaking implications as well. (See the above-mentioned CCB post for details.)

+ Act 13 will be the first time a number of Challengers will race a new ACC yacht; and likely the first some will race their second new yachts.

+ It the last chance for the Challengers to check in with each other, sort their boats and technology, and polish their tactics and crewwork before the start of the LVC only nine days hence.

+ Finally, it is an all-systems warm up -- for the teams, organizers, television, host city, etc. -- and a chance to promote, locally and worldwide, the imminent start of the the Louis Vuitton Cup and, shortly thereafter, the 32nd edition of the oldest, and arguably most prestigious, trophy in international sport.

To whet your Act 13 appetite, we'll end this post with some great Gilles-Martin Raget shots from previous fleet-racing Acts.







Coming Soon...  Jan 1, 12:19 waters near you, assuming you live in or around Valencia, more AC racing in less time than any similar period in the 156-year history of the America's Cup -- the oldest trophy in international sport. Below is the 2007 Racing Schedule as issued by AC Management; click here to see or download a larger Adobe .pdf version, or click here to download an even larger (still one page) MS Word .doc version.


Coming Soon...  Jan 1, 10:35 a website near you, the Notices of Race for Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13 (3-7 April 2007), and for the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup "Challenger Selection Series" (16 April - 12 May 2007). See the New Year's Eve post on the Challenger Commission Blog re. their publication by Regatta Director Dyer Jones yesterday.

UPDATE: The NORs for Act 13 and the LVC are now posted on the CCB here, along with a simple explanation of the entire 2007 AC racing program.

Goals: to select the AC 32 Challenger, and to help prepare a final Challenger that can "Relieve the Defender from the burden of holding the Cup.".

Awesome First Year  Nov 19, 20:36

This email received today from Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams, sent to family, friends and supporters....

Today we finished off what has been an awesome 1st year winning the Star North American’s in Miami USA. Within a strong fleet of 77 boats, +/- a few teams from the Worlds.

This regatta went extremely well, we had great upwind and downwind speed in the light to moderate conditions. Again coming here early was a key to our success, having the extra time in the boat to iron out the wrinkles and learn about sailing the Miami conditions. Miami was completely different from San Francisco with short choppy waves, and on weekends there is a mass of cigarette boats blasting past adding to the confusion. We didn’t change anything from the worlds in fact we used all the same gear.

We started the regatta off well with 2 wins on the first day to have a 6 point lead from the French pair Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau who placed 5th & 3rd. The 2004 Olympic silver medalists Ross Macdonald and Mike Wolfs where in 3rd position overall carrying a 2nd & 8th. Conditions were great for the star with 8-12kts and a few waves to catch down wind. We ended the day feeling that we were going fast enough but knew it was a strong fleet and that tomorrow was another day.

Day 2 was again excellent conditions with a range of 8-12kts with the exception of one 30kt squall on the final run of the 4th race. This was probably the most interesting race. As we rounded the final mark of race 4 there was thunder and lighting striking everywhere, the winds built instantly from 12kts to 30 kts! This can be a little dangerous in the Star as the smallest of mistakes can cause the rig to come tumbling down. We were lucky enough to escape with no such drama. But Macdonald/Wolfs where not so lucky dropping from 2nd to finish 54th over the line when a runner block broke. We ended day two with a 3rd & 7th to remain in the lead by 1 pt, us with a total of 12pts and Rohart/Rambeau on 13pts. In 3rd spot was Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada on 23pts

Day 3 turned out to be the trickiest day of all with only 1 race scheduled. The breeze shifting 15-30 degrees with big wholes and pressure lines all over the course. This race however turned out to be the regatta winner for us. We managed the tricky conditions safely and ended up in 2nd spot at the top mark with a comfortable lead from 3rd place. We pasted Hans Fogh up the second beat and that was where we finished. With Rohart/Rambeau finishing down the fleet and our win giving us an unbeatable lead. So we won the regatta with out having to race the last race.

From here Carl heads back to his 2 boys and wife in New Zealand while Annabel and I go to Valencia before leaving to Lake Como, Italy where I will help finish off our new boat that is being built as we speak. Next regatta will be Olympic classes regatta 21st of January in Miami which I will sail with David Giles while Carl is busy with BMW Oracle.

Thanks to everyone for their support over this year, it's been fantastic. Regards,

Carl and Hamish

Nice shot, and nice BMWOR branding. Terry Kohler and Tom Whidden (North Sails) will like this shot, too. Photo courtesy of Fried Elliott.

BMWOR's Carl "Tiny" Williams and his skipper Hamish Pepper, winners of the Star North Americans, at the prizegiving ceremony in Miami Saturday evening. Turns out the top three at the NAs were the same as at the recent Worlds in SF. Photo courtesy of Fried Elliott.

Stars  Nov 18, 10:58

Congrats to Hamish Pepper and Carl "Tiny" Williams (Carl is a member of our sailing team) who have won the North American Star Championship with a race to spare.

They also won the World Championship six weeks ago in San Francisco, having been sailing in the Olympic class for just eight months. After winning the first two races on Wednesday, they slipped a bit on Thursday. They came back strong on Friday, winning another race against the "very classy" 79-boat fleet in Miami, Florida. Hamish and Carl are now in an unbeatable points position with one race to sail on Saturday.

The victory caps off an amazing year for the Kiwi crew, who have risen from zero to be #3 in the ISAF rankings -- and should be #1 when the latest rankings are announced in a couple of weeks.

Full story on the Star Class website

Hamish and Carl winning the Star Class world championship in SF six weeks ago. Photo courtesy of Fried Elliott.

Slim Lead  Nov 17, 08:44

From the story on the Star Class website by Lynn Fitzpatrick about the Star North Americans taking place in Miami....

Carl Williams is still smiling after the conclusion of the second day of racing. He and skipper Hamish Pepper are sitting one point in front of Rohart and Rambeau. Freddie Loof and Anders Ekstrom redeemed themselves by taking a 1, 2 for the 3rd and 4th races of the series.

Results (after 4 races; 79 boats)
1. Hamish Pepper/Carl Williams (NZL) 1-1-3-7, 12 pts
2. Xavier Rohart/Pascal Rambeau (FRA) 5- 3- 4-1, 13
3. Robert Scheidt/Bruno Prada (BRA) 7-6-5- 5, 23
4. Andy Horton/Brad Nichol (USA) 25- 2-2-13, 42
5. Marc Pickel/Ingo Borkowski (GER) 9-7-8-19, 43
6. George Szabo/Mark Strube (USA) 20-12-9-11, 52

Full story

Factoid: Close Racing in 2006  Oct 10, 12:35

Hourglass23Ivor Wilkins (NZL), our good friend and journalist extraordinaire whose services our team are fortunate to have from time to time, has put numbers to the incredibly close racing we had here in VLC this year. Ivor observes:

"Looking at the combined results of the two 2006 match racing Acts 10 and 12, the final margins in 45 matches were less than 30 seconds. Five were less than 10 seconds. One match, between +39 and Areva, was decided on a thrilling one-second delta. There were still plenty of one-sided contests, but the number of close battles clearly has increased dramatically since the opening shots of the AC 32."

To say nothing of how much closer racing is than previous Cups. Will the deltas continue to fall when we get into the LVC next year? Or will certain teams have "breakthrough" boats that give them a wider edge in 2007?

Increasingly, your Ed. has the feeling that the 2007 LVC will go down in history as one of if not the best ever (at least comparable to 2000); likewise that the 2007 AC Match will rival or exceed in competitive spectacle those in 1920, 1934 and 1983.

Regardless, hard to believe it will all be happening in just over five months.

Ivor Wilkins: author, photographer, gentleman, friend. To say nothing
of something important like connisseur of vino tinto. (Photo: TFE)

They are the Champions...  Oct 8, 21:39

...of the World! Hamish and Carl with the Star Worlds trophy at the prizegiving Friday evening at St Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Lyn Coffey/St Francis YC.

Gold Star!  Oct 7, 07:58

Hearty congrats to Kiwis Hamish Pepper and his crew (and BMW ORACLE sailing team member) Carl Williams for their win in the Star Worlds. Click here for the final results. The official St Francis YC release can (finally) be found here. To help understand the significance of their win, read Richard Gladwell's editorial in Sail World NZ.

Hamish Pepper (left) and our own Carl "Tiny" Williams after the sixth and final race in the Star Worlds in San Francisco, yesterday. Photo courtesy of Chuck Lantz.