Monday, June 29, 2009

Skiff Bites: Mark Foy Trophy 2009

Press Release :
Célia Mas-Delfault
Chargée de communication

Strong heat and no wind
on the packed parking of the Yacht Club de Carnac for this first day of competition. The 30 crews didn’t have the opportunity to confront one another in the bay of Quiberon and it’s really a pity! The teams brought together for this new competition which is to promote the 18 foot skiffs around the world is indeed rather exceptional. Among the helmsmen, there are no less than 4 winners of the JJ Giltinan International Championship, ran each mid-February in the bay of Sydney and considered as the equivalent of the world championship for this sport and nearly as much among the crewmen.

The Australian Trevor Barnabas, the most titled of them, has brought together with his family team two generations of champions on 24Hr Road Service. It’s his son Trent “the weapon” Barnabas, current titleholder, who is the front crewman. Daniel Philips completes this formidable crew. On the side of the Australians, among the five other boats another family is to be pointed out: the Winnings. John, the father (Yandoo), tireless veteran and generous sponsor of this amateur class and John junior (Appliancesonline), the son who has won several races during the last “JJ”, will be for sure two serious candidate for victory. If the winds are light, we should keep an eye on Grant Rollerson (Slam) and its team (Mike Coxon, double winner of the JJ on Fiat in 2006 and 2007). The three proud New Zealand crews who have come to Carnac should also give the Europeans a hard time.

Hopefully, the large number of boats from the English class have good arguments such as Robert Greenhalgh (Benny), only just disembarked from the VOR 70 Puma in the Volvo Ocean Race and winner in 2004 of the JJ. He has taken the most of this day to refine some very thin settings he has the knack of finding. The crew of Pindar, skipped by Andy Richards, actual European champions, those from Pica (Jamie Mears), Ronstan (Iain Turnbull), Investec Private Bank (Mason Woodworth), TMF Group (Jarrod Simpson) but also Gill/Wild Graphics (Ed Brown) are capable of winning a race and should be taken into account. The American Howard Hamlin (Macquarie), double holder of the precious trophy, coming at the last moment to defend the colours of the Stars and Stripes and the Danish Flemming Clausen, hardwearing competitor capable with his solid crew of astounding speeds as soon as the wind raises.

2 Hungarian teams, 3 French, 3 German and a Swiss complete the list which promises tight starts and very very hot buoy crossings! GPS have been embarked on the boats for a live broadcasting of the race on the website of the organizing club : Organized from the 28th June to the 4th July, this confrontation should find tomorrow enough wind to offer a real and virtual impressive show!

The photos are all provided by Christophe Favreau:

They Have YouTube Channel Up As Well!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Stay Tuned: Mark Foy Trophy is About To Start!

It's been awhile since I've chased around the 18 foot boys and sure wouldn't mind delaying the trip home from Sweden to make a side venture to France...especially when goodfriends are about to rip it up on these impressive skiffs. The next best trick, make use of the virtual resources to stay intouch with the boys and keep you posted here on anything juicy. For now, check out the site.

Puma's Rob Greenhalgh, winner of the JJGiltinan in 2004 is scooting over to France from St. Petersburg Russia to rejoin the class. The sailing is going to be hot when talent like that flies in. Though, we'll have to see if the heavy celebrations in Russia hinder his recovery time...the Volvo Ocean Race is not a gentle feeder to a skiff event!

In the mean time, packing up and getting ready to head home to catch up on sleep (hard to do when the days are 22 hours long!) and continue work with Mark Chisnell and crew working on the Volvo Ocean Race Book "Spanish Castle To White Night." I've read up through Chapter 6 and pretty excited about this book. It's not just for the sailor at all. Not at all. My cousin, advid snowboarder who dabbles in sailing was blown away and ordered three copies just to give away as gifts! We are a supportive family, but that usually means buying one, not three!

Taking that as my family's "thumbs up" for the current project.

There will be some good Volvo scoop to come and will be great fun to see what the sailors embark on after a well deserved rest. There are a few who've kindly agreed to let me peak back into their lives from time to time to see what they are working on while we all wait to learn more on who's returning for 2011-12. It would be great to think next week there'll be some press release confirming rumors of teams ready to commit, but that would be too quick. All good stories have a cliff hanger...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Breaking Bite: The Future Of The Volvo Ocean Race

Members of the media, skippers, syndicates and anyone interested in the future of the Volvo Ocean Race filed into this lovely "ship" for a press conference lead by Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race.

He began the presentation with a short video clip bringing us all back to 1973 when the pace was slower and few people knew of this race or it's people. We were quickly fast forwarded to 2008 and scenes of today's Volvo Open 70s reaching along. The race has changed, and for the good.

The presentation walked us through the impressive results of 2008-09, beginning with race details demonstrating how close the on-the-water competition was:
  • Leg 3 (Cochin-Singapore): Top 4 boats within 19m 26sec!
  • Leg 6 (Rio-Boston): Top 3 boats within 17m 52sec! (I won't forget that all nighter!)
  • Leg 7 (Boston-Galway): 22m 29sec between 2nd & 4th!
  • Leg 8 (Galway-Marstrand): Less than 1m between 2/3 and 5/6!
  • Leg 9 (Marstrand-Stockholm): 90sec between 1st and 2nd!!!! (This was the most impressive site, a true drag race!)
From there, jumped into the amazing spectator numbers, including the last count from this past Friday here in Stockholm. Total number thus far: 3,343,241, a 157% increase from 2005-06 edition of the race!!

It just got better and better as the numbers were all a massive increase from the event prior, however it was the online video game which stole the show! They were not sure how this virtual gaming venture would pan out and hoped for maybe 50,000 players. Folks, there are 219,499 players from 186 countries (June 21st.) With 79,000 online each day with 21,000 playing at the same time. Even better, 50% of them are non-sailors embracing the sport for the first time!

Why is the game such a success? It's unpredictable. This point tapped into another element about the Volvo Ocean Race which intrigues so many people: the natural unpredictability of events due to weather and interactions with the natural world.

There are many elements to this race which warrant it as the number one sailing event in the world of sailing (this may be my opinion of course.) Though Knut pealed away from the numbers and began a discussion on what's going on today for tomorrow.

We will see the event continue to embrace the world of new media, shorter and fewer stop-overs (11 ports to 8 or 9) and a shorter event as a whole. The 2011-12 event will start in Alicante Spain, sail a Western to Eastern course, completing the circumnavigation in Europe. There are 82 cities seriously competing in the bidding process to host one of these stops.

Currently, no teams have made formal announcements. Though, genuine interest and hope is to see 10-12 teams on the line in Alicante 2011. Alicante will see the Volvo Ocean Race Headquarters take shape in the start of the New Year with one exciting long term element: An event museum, visitor attraction to be added to the building housing the Headquarters.

For addition information, read the event's report.

It was a lengthy press conference and all quickly made way to the docks for some sailing. It's been a beautiful day in Stockholm, though light variable breeze for the Pro-am Racing.

Though most folks where back to a typical working schedule, the shore-line was well "dotted" with spectators, and in the most unusual places as well.

These last two days will be quite hectic as I sit down with all the Media Crew Members to disuss their contributions to the book and role in the race. Quite excited about them. These "characters" are extremely intriguing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Stockholm Inport Race: Following Along

Stockholm has been a beautiful host to the Volvo Ocean Race, however, there's a lot too it and nothing is quite simple. Take for example the venture we all embarked on to greet the teams: nearly 3 hour ferry ride to an island. Today, it was/is a slog of a motor for the teams and media, a bus ride to catch the boat. Though an amazing day, the wind forecast is light.

Folks, have to say, the armchair spectator may have the best seat in the house. You know you can fetch a bite to eat or a cup of tea and guaranteed working head in short distance. Though, there is real spirit here and the crowds expected are anticipated to rival those of the Sprint Race into town. Now, that will be a site. Those photographers in the air have in past captured the impressive number of people who've come out to experience the Volvo Ocean Race and anticipate their shots to take our breathe away later today.

Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.
The City Sprint from Sandhamn, the finish line of leg 9, to the city of Stockholm

Taking bit of a back-seat experience this go around, making use of all the media outlets Stockholm Stop-over Team has made available for us. It will be hard to miss a sailor sneeze, let alone a key moment in the race and quite excited to know I have a lovely toilet to count on!!
Post-Race Wrap-up:

It's a reflection back to yesterday's post on Telefonica Blue taking the cake for perseverance as they came from behind and got the job done during today's final in-port race of the event. The story could not have been scripted better. As you followed, it seemed after the first race Puma secured their placement on the podium, but no. Mathematically, the race for second is still on and sincerely not determined till the final leg. A much better story anyways! Can't wait for Mark Chisnell to get back in...some final tweaks to the book are yet to come.

Photos Of The Boats Arrivals Back Into Stockholm:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Award For Perseverance: Telefonica Blue Take The Cake!

Yesterday, we all waited patiently as the Telefonica media gals shared reports of Telefonica Blue's progress to all in the media center. Generally, everyone wanted to ensure they had a proper greeting at the docks. Regardless of the incident and the opinions of those at home watching, who's not hit a "rock" in their life? Whether that be literally or metaphorically.

So they landed on the rocks, who cares, it's how they got themselves off the darn thing, pieced the boat back together, which honestly should have been destroyed, and sailed on to Stockholm. Here they are, showing true perseverance and setting an amazing example to anyone who's had something drastic occur and how not to let it stand in your way.

It's really quite impressive how mangled the keel bulb was and in such short time they made it right (at least as right as they could - looking at it you'd never know!)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spectacular Sprint To Stockholm

A half million people?!?! Maybe not in the photo below. A shot of those gathered around the large screens displaying live footage of the Sprint race from Sandham to Stockholm. However, when they tallied Race Village attendance, on-the-water spectators and those who lined the shores for a glimpse of these impressive boats; it was figured, a half million all right!

Getting around was bit of a task! Taking pictures, nearly impossible. Trying to do both while enjoying a hot cup of tea- not advisable! Though, I did manage and while waiting for the fleet to come into shore-side viewing distance, battled the people and enjoyed the scene.

Shore-side spectators enjoyed live commentary (this impressive stage is perched on a floating barge!)

The mini-Puma City is also sticking to a floating theme, in fact, many elements of the Race Village are built on-top of barges. Including Ericsson and Telefonica Wet-base areas.

Eventually, the call came and the cattle drive to all viewable points commenced! Thank goodness for a "backstage pass" and a quiet perch away from the crowds to watch the "on-the-water-circus" arrive into town. For the crowds who lined the shore, it was a "tippy-toe" affair to catch a glimpse of it all.

Ericsson 3 made a perfect show of winning the Sprint and initiated a crowd response one surely must of heard all the way back to Sandham!

Later in the day Magnus and crew attempted a "rocket" number, though their high leg kicks could use some work! No matter, it was wonderful to see and feel his enthusiasm for their Second place finish during the Prize Giving. He has the most impressive smile, even when buried deep in the crowd spectating.

It was truly a spectacular day in Stockholm. We are currently experiencing some less then lovely weather but spirits are high. Everyone seems a bit more rested. All are excited to know Telefonica Blue are on their way and preparations and details getting sorted for Sunday's in port race. After having a hand in the on-the-water logistics and dealing with "spectator exclusion zones," then witnessing the madness of both the arrivals and Sprint Race. I believe the team(s), logisitcs and sailing, will have their work cut out for them!

There's been a break in the rain, time to get out of this media center!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nearly There: Volvo Ocean Race Stockholm

The Volvo Ocean Race "circus" is nearly done with it's global tour. Currently there is not enough coffee or hours in the day to keep pace as it feels someone has hit the fast forward button. Fast forward seems the theme, since arriving into Sweden it's been the most intense sailing-related trip to date. Just when I've sorted out the public transportation system of Gothenburg to Marstrand (it makes getting around Boston seem like child's play;) I'm packing up for a road trip to Stockholm.

We did not get on the road till nearly 10:00pm Sunday evening, however with the long days it felt like 5:00pm till when we finally rolled into Stockholm at 4:00am Monday morning when it looked and felt more like 6:00am...are you still with me? Basically drove through the night, though the "night" is about two hours long.

We sorted ourselves, selves being much of the media crew and made a bee-line to bed. The boats at this point were ripping it up and word was we needed to get sorted quickly as the ferry ride out to Sandham, a lovely Swedish island was nearly a 3 hour meander away.

So, we all took a nap, far from a sleep and a couple hours later, after discovering that the Stockholm Race Village could legally be mapped as a "small town" - it's massive, making Boston's Fan Pier seem nothing more than a street corner affair.

The old Pirate's of the Caribbean is on site, formally owned by Mean Machine's Peter DeRidder and now named the White il Mostro is quite striking.

As I got my legs and meander about the village, yet to see more than a quarter of the offerings, it's time to gather for the ferry ride to Sandham.

The ferry ride, though long, was AMAZING. The islands are gorgeous. The little homes perched about on the rocks - beautiful. Many of us found ourselves perched on the upper deck, bundled and huddled to stay warm, though unable to tear ourselves away from the view.

When we arrived into Sandham, we had about two hours before Puma and Ericsson 3 were expected to cross the line. This again kept the pace - quick, quick.

In fact, basically discovered the temporary media center, hit the head, checked email and headed out. When you are so focused, sleep, eating, etc. are all put on the back burner and the body goes into another mode, which I am just now coming out of two days later. Just part of the lifestyle and worth it. This has been an incredible venture made perfect with the spectacular finish between Puma and Ericsson 3.

There are no pictures to perfectly paint the insanity on the water as these two boats match raced all the way to the end. A Volvo 70 tacking dual, true test of the sailors endurance on such an impressive, powerful and exhausting boat. Now add in an impressive spectator fleet. They had to perform this impressive show of crew-work in the middle of it all. In the end, Puma prevailed as Ericsson 3's jib did not pass through cleanly during one tack, getting hung up on the radar mounted mid-way up the mast.

Would it have been lovely for the delightful Magnus Olsson and his E3 crew to take this leg, oh yes! What a party it would have been. However, Puma earned this leg win and was quite impressive and exciting.

Shortly after Puma and Ericsson 3 secured their lines, showered in champagne and endured the obligatory photo shoot; Ericsson 4 quietly slipped into port. Followed by the Green Dragon, Tele Black and Delta Lloyd. When the last boat was processed, media and sailors gathered for the ferry ride back into Stockholm. The shore-crews swapped their inland berths for the sailors while they stayed in Sandham to look after the boats and prepare for today's Sprint race into Stockholm.

We sailed back into Stockholm just before 5:00am and a repeat of the prior morning took place...straight to bed for a "nap" and back to work. I was joined on the ferry by Delta Lloyd's Wouter Verbraak, Nick Bice and Eduard van Lierde and found it quite impossible to fall asleep! Between the lovely rising sun, these boys where wide awake! Well, not Eduard, who had a serious case of the "snaps," poor chap!

The trouble was, they too had never been to this region of Sweden and with the dawn already upon us, the sites - beautiful.

The tale is longer than that, so merely a briefing on the last two days. A lovely way to reflect back and await the teams arrivals into port. Earlier this morning the shore-crews motored the boats part way, where they met the sailors and VIPs to participate in a sprint race for the final bit. A nice alternative since people could not enjoy the arrivals into Sandham.

More to come...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Marstrand Re-Start of The Volvo Ocean Race

Despite the news of Telefonica Blue's mishap with the Swedish Rocks, it has actually been a beautiful day on Marstrand.

This morning I was able to catch Green Dragon enjoying a final meal, which was mostly junk food!

Torben and I shared a laugh over the other night's game of darts, he's a sharp shooter!

While sharing a ride with the radio crew, which I had a one-line debut late in the commentary, was quite impressed with the spectators on shore and sea.

Our Volvo-powered boat made pace in keeping with the fleet and Guy never missed a beat as we rocketed off the swell.

Though a terribly slow start due to shifty light breeze, the pace quickened as the fleet rounded their final mark with Telefonica Blue leading the charge till their untimely fate with the rocks..

I'd rather end on this parting shot, though would like to say the team who jumped to the aid of Telefonica Blue was their arch rival for second place - Puma Ocean Racing, as seen managing the tow lines for the team:

It's been quite the day and time to pack up the media center, await news for Telefonica Blue and prepare for the trip to Stockholm.

Additional Photos, click here.

Telefonica Blue Has a Disasterous Start: LIVE Twitter

As I write this, Telefonica Blue is on the hard in a very bad way. Twittering live...

As of 4pm in Marstrand, Telefonica Blue is free...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Volvo Ocean Race Pit Stop in Marstrand Sweden

Sitting in the Volvo Ocean Race media center which is housed inside a fort! The fort is named Sodra Strandverkt and yet to have a conversation which provides a bit more history into the building. It's a hoot to be inside and over my should a lovely view out onto the water where 49rs have been sailing much of the day.

Well, has been a long journey to get here, horrid weather but lovely people. I enjoy Sweden, rain and all. The time here is split between Gothenburg and the island of Marstrand with the weather bit of a hindrance for getting about comfortably (one could have used a mask and snorkel the last few days), however have begun the photographic journal to peak through:

Volvo Ocean Race at Marstrand Sweden 2009 - Images by Jennifer Langille

My time in Marstrand feels all too short as we leave for Stockholm late in the day Sunday and I nearly got here on Thursday. Though much has happened in a short period of time. I've been scooped up by Dakini Books since arriving and onward with bit of a project to put my "professional social butterfly skills" to constructive use. Going forward there will be a lot of news and information on the Volvo Ocean Race Book "Spanish Castle To White Night."

A book, which I've now had the pleasure of reviewing the first five chapters, is beautiful. The words of Mark Chisnell and the photographic images are well chosen. It's a project I'm quite proud to be apart of. We have just launched our Face Book Fan Page and the book is available for pre-order, expecting an October distribution date. All parts are running on schedule.

More to come...

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Compass Rose: Volvo Ocean Race

I've been following Around The World sailing since a young child, though in 2005 there was something about that year's Volvo Ocean Race which captured my imagination and has been a compass rose ever since. I knew prior to leaving Pfizer, Inc. that I would like to work with this event in some capacity. Curious to what my own reaction would be if someone had walked up to me after a long day of lab work, informing that I'd be working along side the Volvo Ocean Race by 2008.

Back to the Volvo Ocean Race is what's next on my agenda, leaving for Sweden June 10th and reporting live by the 11th and through to the finish in St. Petersburg, Russia. Wrapping up Boston was bittersweet but getting back to the event and it's people will be exciting. Looking forward to keeping the behind the scenes scoop flowing.

Next report will be from Marstrand Sweden ~ Cheers!

Listening To Live Commentary From Galway

From Guy Swindells, "It's been the most spectacular stop-over..." and now it is time to head onwards to Marstrand, Listen in!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Bites For A Cause: Humpback Whale Huniting to Resume In Europe

Homing into the academic roots and study of marine sciences, it's been pretty easy to partner up with groups like Oceana to write about Sustainable Sailor practices or in this case, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) and their current campaign to encourage the world not to take for granted the North Atlantic Humpback Whale. Here is the latest news from the WDCS:

Humpback whales in the line of fire – Europe to decide their fate

The humpback whale is one of the most prominent large whale species (famous for their “singing”/long mating calls) and has been protected from commercial whaling since 1966.
However, this species will be in the firing line at the upcoming meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), to be held June 22 – 26th on Madeira, Portugal. Denmark is expected to request a quota to kill 10 humpback whales off the coast of West Greenland. The vote of the EU-block will be decisive in whether or not the first humpback whales in decades will be killed legally in European waters.

Denmark’s abuse of the aboriginals’ right to “subsistence whaling.”

Denmark, on behalf of Greenland, is expected to submit a proposal for the killing of 10 humpback whales a year under the IWC’s “Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling” (ASW)-category. Greenland claims that its current ASW-quota is not sufficient to satisfy its population’s need for whale meat.

If the international community were to approve this request, it would be the first time in decades that the otherwise totally protected humpback whale would be hunted in Europe. The position of the 23 European Union countries, which are also IWC members and who must vote as a block, is likely to determine the decision.

For the sailor, it's a unique love affair with marine mammals. They are beautiful and scary. Scary because an encounter with them, when today's ocean racing designs move so fast can be devastating for both the animal and the human. However, seeing one is such a special moment given how few there are in the world. One has to hope, with better understanding of these animals, setting up whale exclusion zones like that seen off Boston will help both sailor and whale to "move" about the oceans more harmoniously.

Stay tuned...more to come later this month. Furthermore, while reporting from Sweden and Russia later this month (Volvo Ocean Race;) it's my intention to collaborate with the WDCS to share their news and keep these gentle giants around for our children's children to appreciate!