Nothing much doing on the America’s Cup front this week. I guess it’s August and holiday time, but even in the Southern winter the New Zealand Herald hasn’t managed to come up with a story since the 7th August. There is a big article about Team Origin in the Times Online, but as it doesn’t even mention the current issues over the Protocol, I think we can safely ignore it. So has everyone just gone on holiday, or have Oracle and Alinghi traded their public dispute for backstage negotiating in smoke-free (these days) rooms? Let’s hope it’s the latter.

One piece of news was a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that Jochen Schuemann had left Alinghi and was now shopping for a new team. It remains to be seen whether United Internet Team Germany (UITG) will achieve their ambition of hiring him. UITG skipper, Karol Jablonski has told German Yacht magazine that they’ve made Schuemann an offer. But perhaps Schuemann will try to put together his own German challenge? Just like buses, nothing for ages and then two come along at once…

Elsewhere, it turned out that the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) did the right thing in postponing the start of the Fastnet Race. It got pretty ugly out there and of the three hundred entries, 271 made the delayed start but only 51 finished. It was a record breaking year for Mike Slade’s new ICAP Leopard, the thirty metre canting keel maxi completed the course in an elapsed time of 44 hours and 18 minutes, which beat Ross Field’s former record by 8 hours 50 minutes.

By all accounts, ICAP Leopard had a bit on, they lost a genoa out of the foil off Portland Bill, and then halfway to the Rock they hit a shark, which got itself stuck on the rudder and was only freed by a man going overboard. So much for those Sun tabloid stories about killer sharks off the coast of Cornwall, should have been the other way around...

George David’s 90-foot Rambler, a non-canting keel maxi skippered by Ken Read, was only 45 minutes behind Leopard. It was a great effort by Read and company, they are using the boat as a training ride for the Volvo Ocean Race entry, Puma. But they had to settle for second overall, about two and a half hours behind Fastnet winner, Ger O'Rourke's Cookson 50, Chieftain.

The Fastnet was also doubling as official prologue to the non-stop double-handed Barcelona World Race – and the IMOCA 60s were led home by race favourites Vincent Riou (Vendee Globe winner in 2004) and Seb Josse (ABN AMRO2 skipper). The pair set a new 60 record, beating the time set by Catherine Chabaud on Whirlpool in 1999 by just over three hours. Alex Thompson and Andrew Cape on Hugo Boss, and Jeremie Beyou and Signey Gavignet on Delta Dore, were also inside the old record.

There were plenty of retirements amongst the 60s as well, including Guillermo Altadill and Jonathan McKee. They bailed out just over three hours after the start, with keel electronics problems aboard Estrella Damm. They returned to Cowes, fixed it and have since departed for Barcelona to do the qualifying miles for the main event.

And finally, the other big regatta going on at the moment is the Pre-Olympic event in Qingdao. I tried to pull up the latest results, but the website is rubbish. Last time it successfully loaded, the Brits were gold in four classes; Bryony Shaw in the RS:X, Paul Goodison in the Laser, Sarahs Ayton and Webb and Pippa Wilson in the Yngling – and, of course, Ben Ainslie with a ten point lead in the Finn. Wouldn’t that just wind you up something chronic? You’ve just spent the last year busting your balls in the boat, only for Ben to step back in after 12 months America’s Cupping and sail to a brace of bullets and seconds?


Mark Chisnell ©