Archive for the ‘Sailing’ Category

Fleet Firms Before Sydney to Hobart

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Image:

Open water yachting experts are saying the super maxis are not sure-things for this year’s prestigious overall honours in this year’s Sydney to Hobart.

While the battle will be on amongst the multi-million dollar, state-of the-art, ivy league super maxis for line honours, little yachts like Sean Langman’s Maluka are in with a real chance at winning on handicap.

Maluka is a gorgeous Huon pine 30-footer, the smallest in the fleet of 117. Love & War, an Oregon and maple wooden labour of love is not much larger, but has actually moved into favouritism against her larger rivals.

Langman, skipper of the 84 year-old Maluka is thrilled. His destiny is in his hands and those of the “weather gods.”

Love & War (a baby by comparison) is just hitting her straps at 41 years-old. She has previous wins in 1974, 1978, and 2006; and so cannot be discounted.

Curiously, it seems the weather is predicted to favour slower boats. Strong winds have been forecast to fill the sails of those at the tail end of the fleet, well after the super maxis have crossed settled in Hobart.

Other bolters to look out for are James Cameron’s 35foot Luna Sea, Ed Psaltis’ 40-foot Ariel, The 38 footer The Goat and the Wild Rose, coming in at 43 feet.

Size, age, sail area, and level of crew expertise all factor into the handicapping system applied to the race entrants.

It’s going to be a magic race!

Comanche Does Night Trials to be Ready for Sydney to Hobart

Comanche Races to be Ready for Sydney - Hobart. Image:

Latest entrant to the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, Comanche, is racing against the clock to be ready.

Owned by husband and wife Texan billionaire Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark Comanche has been designed and built for th sole purpose of wining line honors in the prestigious open sea race.

Skipper Ken Read has overseen every part of the process, from design to building, transportation to Australia and now testing.

“We know it will be a tight schedule,” he told reporters. “No one has ever seen a boat like this before, so we are stll learning all about her.

“But we want to put up a fight.”

Comanche is currently untested in the open seas. She has most recently competed in a fun harbour event; claiming second behind race favourite (and seven-time Sydney to Hobart line honours winner) Wild Oats.

On Thursday Comanche put to see undercover of darkness for the first time. The session was needed to test the lighting on instruments and to give the crew practice changing sails and working in the dark.

On Boxing Day the gun will crack on the 70th Sydney to Hobart race. The fleet is expected to boast 118 of the fastest, hardiest and most technologically up to date yachts in the word. They will battle it out over 628-nautical miles to the southernmost part of Australia.

Extreme 40s Coming to Sydney Harbour

Next week Sydney Harbour plays host to the eighth leg of the worldwide tour of Extreme 40s racing series.

What’s that? You ask.

Extreme 40s is sailing’s answer to speedway racing – including the crashes!

The series began in 2005 after the sailing fraternity acknowledged their sport was out of touch with most people. For too long competitive sailing has been perceived as belonging to a few wealthy, exclusive, class-ridden snobs; with much of the racing taking place without any audience at all – far out at sea.

Other, more inclusive, sports were reaping the benefit of appealing to greater numbers. And so it was decided to create a sailing series for the masses.

Enter Extreme 40s: Lots of high speed boats (sometimes reaching speeds of 60 km/ hour), crammed into in a short, tight course for a stadium stting. The boats are basically a super modified version of the Tornado class with a crew of four. They compete in multiple races of 20 minutes duration.

As you can imagine, there’s plenty of aggro, plenty of speed, and plenty of crashes. And believe me, when these boats hit one another they do damage.

Recently, in Qingdo, China, the Red Bull series leader attempted a risk manoeuvre to slip in front of Alinghi. It didn’t work. The portside hull of Red Bull drove into Alinghi like a knife, pinning the two together. At the speed they were travelling, I was incredible no one was injured.

“The first thought was to go in front of them,” Hagara, skipper of Red Bull told reporters.

“Just at the last moment I called ‘we are going in the back. We chose a little bit too late,’ he shrugged. “All we could do was get the gys in the back of the boat and … yeah, hold on.

“It was a big bang. But that’s the thing with multi-hulls, they’re very hard to manoeuvre, and if you’re too late, you have no steering anymore. You go straight.”

Pirates and Storms Warning for Second Leg of Volvo Ocean Race


The fleet racing in the Volvo ocean race are headed for trouble. Bad weather and the suggestion to be on the lookout for pirates has everone on edge.

Now in the second leg of the round-the-world race, the seven strong fleet has set out from Cape Town for Abu Dhabi.

Almost immediately they were battling into the teeth of a 35 knot gale. It was trying and sickening for all concerned.

The captain of Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright, wondered if “this could be the worst sea state these boats have ever seen.”

With 6125 nautical miles left of the leg they’d better get used to it. This leg is expected to take the fleet about a month, though should things get worse that expectation will change.



The fleet was given a warning by meteorologist Gonzalo Infante: “We have just started the tropical cyclone season in the south Indian Ocean and it seems like we will have plenty of this activity for this leg.”

The organisers have set an exclusion zone in an effort to shield them from the worst of the bad weather. Another exclusion zone near the East African coast, in the Indian Ocean, has been set up to keep them as far away from suspected pirate lairs as possible.

Nonetheless, there will be little sleep for many of them for the next month.

The Volvo Ocean Race is expected to take nine months to complete.

Sydney to Hobart Attracts Cream of the Crop

The 70th anniversary of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race will boast the largest line-up in the race’s history. Toeing the starting line will be five of the biggest, fastest (and most expensive) yachts in the world.

While the number of entrants won’t come near the race record of 371, set at the 50th anniversary in 1994; the 119 boats already exceeds the numbers in recent years.

Organisers have had to install a third tier on the start line. Without it the free-for-all for position can (and has) caused catastrophic collisions.

Perpetual Loyal. Image:

Perpetual Loyal. Image:

Anthony Bells 100-footer, Perpetual Loyal, is said to be taking on defending line honours champion Wild Oats. Also into the mix come Ragamuffin, Rio 100, and the newly built American yacht Comache. These five will be slicing through the water the Sydney water on Boxing Day and racing seriously for Hobart.

Mark Richards, skipper of Wild Oats and winner of seven line honours, said he was thrilled with the level and amount of competition. The boats are fast, the crews well trained and the skippers wily. It should be a great race.

Also declaring its intentions is Martin Power’ Bacardi (record holder for most Sydney to Hobarts raced), the 41 year-old Love & War, and the 80 year-old Maluka – a 30-foot tub, clearly the oldest and smallest vessel in the fleet.

Entrants hail from New Zealand, the Cayman Islands, the UK, Poland, Germany and the US.

Wild Oats xi. Image:

Wild Oats xi. Image:

Belcher & Ryan Win Fifth Consecutive World Crown for 470 Dinghy Class

Sailing duo Mat Belcher and Will Ryan have fought back from sixth place to win the world 470 class sailing crown. This is the fifth consecutive world crown for Belcher and second for teammate Ryan.

Mat Belcher and Will Ryan. Photo:

Mat Belcher and Will Ryan. Photo:

Belcher becomes the first man ever to win five successive crowns – and he did it on his 32nd birthday.

But they didn’t have it all their own way.

The two had to fight their way back from sixth place earlier in the Spanish regatta, held at Santander. Their fourth place in the last event – a double points Medal race – was enough to see them win overall.

But celebrations were put on hold as they were forced to stave off a protest. With everything in the balance Belcher was able to convince race stewards to dismiss the protest.

“I guess what I’m really proud of is that this week we really stepped it up another level as a team,” Belcher told reporters. “This means a lot. You have to be able to qualify your country (for the 2016 Rio Olympics) and for us to tick that off here gives us a lot of confidence.”

And confidence is what they’ll need as the 470 dinghy class is becoming more hotly contested each year.

Prolongoing Sydney’s Summer of Sports


So far, the 2013/2014 Australian summer has been one of high drama and high stakes. From Australia’s incredible cricket victories, to tough conditions in the Sydney To Hobart, to a number of early high-profile knockouts in the Australian Open, it’s been consistently surprising and engaging. It’s not over yet, though.

It’s true that a lot of international sportspeople will be heading for the Departures terminal in the next week or so, as big events wind up. What we’re left with, though, is a range of events that cater to tastes that are diverse and slightly left-of-field. Those hoping to assert their status as a well-rounded sports fan will do well to stick around in Sydney, situating themselves in a North Sydney hotel so they have close access to all corners of the city, which will play host to a variety of different sports in the coming weeks and months.

summer-surfingAustralian Open of Surfing

Surfing and youth culture have always gone hand in hand. It makes perfect sense, then, that the Open of Surfing doesn’t restrict itself to sport. Music, art, and fashion will also be on display during the nine-day event, which is free and is expected to attract about 125,000 spectators to Manly during February. There’s also a skateboarding element, ensuring that the tastes of teenagers the country over will be catered to. It’s pretty rare for an event to combine so many elements of youth culture, so don’t be surprised if your uppity teenager is asking to be booked into a nearby in the near future.

Dragon Boat racing

Now a cornerstone of Sydney’s annual Chinese New Year Festival, dragon boat racing attracts spectators for a number of reason. The physical prowess of participating paddlers is not to be scoffed at, for one thing. Dragon boat racing is also of great significance in Chinese culture, and both reflects and perpetuates national pride and collectivity. Equally important is the visual spectacle aspect that the races bring to Cockle Bay, as an armada of delicately crafted, exquisitely decorated boats – each twelve metres long and housing twenty paddlers – descend for a weekend.

Waratahs vs Blues

A February 7 preview match, to be held at Allianz Stadium, will serve as an interesting preview of what’s to come in 2014 for Super Rugby.

Readers unfamiliar with the curious love/hate relationships between Australians and New Zealanders may well find the stoush enlightening. Interactions between the two nations are like a more jovial, good-natured version of the French and English rapprochement, in sentiment if not in practicality. With the two sides last year occupying neighbouring slots towards the bottom of the Super Rugby ladder, fans will be waiting with baited breath to see who can gain the upper hand in 2014.

Observers from overseas are like to find that situating themselves in the heart of Waratahs territory will make the lead-up and come-down from the match even more exciting. So book yourself into the Chatswood Shopping Center hotel to truly  get a true indication of just how passionate New South Welshman are about their sport. Go ‘Tahs!

Australia’s Summer of Sports


The Australian summer is always shaped around rituals. First, of course, is Christmas; then Boxing Day; the trawl up the coast to a sleepy, beach-side town; and the sporting events scattered throughout the calendar.

Often the annual matches and competitions that occur over summer can go by – or be flicked past on the television – relatively unnoticed. However, it’s worth giving them a look-in, as these events draw huge crowds (and television audiences) year in, year out. They’re an important part of our national psyche, and engaging with them can help you feel more connected to your fellow Australians.


The Sydney to Hobart yacht race, which I’ve previously written about, is a chief motivation for avoiding alcoholic over-indulgence on Christmas Day. The knowledge that you’ll be spending the following day in awe of a sea of boats – perhaps from North Head, or even on a spectator boat – is reason enough to put the eggnogg away at a reasonable hour. Each year, the race generates a flurry of publicity in the weeks and months leading up to the start of the race. Equally intense is the swarm of bets – frequently placed in a last-minute, post-Christmas, still-somewhat-inebriated rush. In order to avoid this stress, dedicated commentators and observers alike are sure to learn how to pick and bet on winners well in advance. It is expected that this year, six-time line honours winner Wild Oats will engage in a fierce battle with Perpetual LOYAL for the prestigious pole position.

Although the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race is undoubtedly the highlight of the yachting calendar, races occur regularly across the year, meaning that enthusiasts can get their fix on a regular basis.


If you find it challenging to eschew the temptation of eggnogg (or other, more powerful spirits) on Christmas Day, then staying at home to watch the Boxing Day test might be preferable to testing your sea legs so soon after alcoholic consumption. Putting some money on the sporting events directly following Christmas is also a great way to maximise (or minimise) any generous Christmas cheques. There’s so much horse racing info online, but resources and odds for other sports like cricket are also easy to find.

This year, the Boxing Day test will be played against England, forming the fourth test of the current Ashes series. Australia is currently leading the series 2-0, meaning that this test could prove pivotal in securing the series for Australia after a disappointing, 0-3 loss in the last Ashes series. The test looks set to be a roaring success crowd-wise, with tickets already sold out – a potentially record-breaking feat.


You could be forgiven for thinking that following a cluster of Boxing Day events, things generally start to calm down in the sporting domain. Tennis, though, only begins to hit its stride in the New Year, with the Sydney International kicking off on January 5. Similar warm-up tournaments around the country will culminate in the Australian Open – perfect viewing when nursing a cup of over-sugared tea, waiting for the sun to begin its decline so you can return to the beach. Clued-in betting services like Practical Punting might suggest that Australia’s chances of producing a slam-winning player in time for the tournament mightn’t be all that great. But we can hope, right?

Sports With Less Energy


When you’re caught up in the adrenaline of a sporting competition, that’s all there is. Whether you’re a participator or a spectator, during the event your focus is on the finish line, the goal posts, or the podium.

What we tend to forget – at least in the midst of a sporting triumph – are the logistics behind sport. Putting on almost any event – from a game of ice-hockey, to swimming races – requires energy expenditure. As concern about climate change and energy efficiency continues to grow, elite sports teams and relevant bodies are working to minimise the negative impact they’re having on the environment.


For indoor sports, the efficiency of lighting arenas and stadiums is a key concern. Each event requires numerous hours – and innumerable kilowatts – of energy expenditure for stands, scoreboards, and playing zones, which can prove to be both financially costly and detrimental in terms of emissions.

In response to this, some sporting facilities are beginning to adopt LED lights, as explained in the New York Times. However, it’s not quite as easy as recognising the benefits of LED lighting and installing them immediately. Although they offer long-term savings, LED lights cost much more to install than the incandescent models which have traditionally been used. They are also much more complicated to initially install, despite lasting longer. The considerable upfront expense associated with LED lights has reduced the enthusiasm of some potential adopters.

Sports audiences have to be considered. While LED’s can be dimmed, thereby saving resources when floods of light are not required, they must also be vetted to ensure they do no negatively effect the vision of fans – in the playing facility, or watching at home on TV. Despite these potential difficulties, it is thought that LED lights will become more commonly used over time. In fact, they can be used to buoy players moods, due to their superior simulation of natural sunlight when compared to incandescent options.


For competitive sports requiring motors, improvements are being made in leaps and bounds when it comes to marine energy power systems. Compared to the motoring resources used in the past, contemporary options such as Capterpiller power generators are improving energy efficiency for competitive sports including sea fishing, deep-sea diving, and yachting. As with all means of energy provision, there is no doubt that improvements can still be made to increase the effectiveness of energy power systems further, but present trends indicate that this will surely occur.

Water-based facilities

There is little doubt that pools, with temperature-treated water, air conditioning, and extensive lighting, are big consumers of energy. By upgrading equipment – and perhaps, as previously discussed, transitioning to the use of LED lighting – these facilities are beginning to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. In part, these improvements are being aided by government-funded efficiency programs, such as that of the Geelong Council, demonstrating the effectiveness of collaboration between the public and private sectors when it comes to this issue.

Collective efforts

In order to encourage ongoing, meaningful change, sports stakeholders are banding together to encourage reductions in the energy expenditure in training and playing facilities. For example, the US-based Green Sports Alliance aims to “help sports teams, venues and leagues enhance their environmental performance”. The Alliance has been in operation for almost four years, with impressive results. Alliances such as Green Sports also work to educate fans, attempting to generate a sense of social responsibility among the fans of participating teams, and ultimately achieve genuine, effective change.