Sunny start to the New Year—Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond

Bernard Stamm, Cheminees Poujoulat - 2012 Vendee Globe
© Bernard Stamm / Cheminées Poujoulat
When most people think of Seattle they immediately reach for their foulies and an umbrella, but not this year…at least so far. At the risk of jinxing the ski season, the past three days here have been the definition 'splitter': a cracking blue sky, no clouds, plenty of Vitamin D (read: sunshine) and fantastic visibility. The Olympic Mountains (situated to the west of Seattle, across Puget Sound) were bathed in majestic alpenglow at sunrise and sunset today (sadly, the two events are not widely staggered this time of year at nearly 48 degrees north), but at a price that us cloud dwellers don’t often experience: Cold temperatures, down jackets and ice scrappers.


Still, it’s a bargain that any sane Seattleite would make after a fall that practically required a snorkel just to cross the street. Unfortunately for the sailors who are racing in this weekend’s local Duwamish Head Race, the dark curtain is set to roll back in this evening, likely delivering some liquid sunshine in the real thing’s stead. The silver lining, of course, is that cloud cover traps heat, so while potentially soggy, the event will likely be served warm(er) than today.


VENDEE GLOBE 2012/2013 - INDIAN OCEAN - 02/12/2012 - PHOTO FRANCOIS GABART (FRA) / MACIF - SUNSET IN THE INDIAN OCEAN - A LONG WAY, WET BUT WORTHWILE
© François Gabart / MACIF



On sailing’s grander stage, the three lead boats in the nonstop-alone-and-around-the-world Vendee Globe Race have now rounded Cape Horn, their bows pointed east-northeast as the skippers contend with several hundred ice-ridden miles. The match race continues for race leaders Francois Gabart ('Macif') and Armel Le Cleac’h ('Banque Populaire'), with Gabart slowly earning a few more miles on his countryman, who (at the time of this writing) was some 40-plus miles astern.


Armel le C'leach, Banque Populaire, Vendee Globe 2012
© Vincent Curutchet / BPCE



While the long-distance match race at the front of the pack is impressive to watch, the news that Bernard Stamm ('Cheminees Poujoulat') was disqualified for receiving 'outside assistance' during a anchor-dragging fiasco off of New Zealand that involved a research vessel and an unexpected (and uninvited) Russian crewmember. According to the latest reports, Stamm intends to continue racing and to request redress for the RC’s decision. Get the full story, inside this issue.


And in One Design racing news, Nacra Racing has suspended delivery of their Nacra 17 catamarans, which will be used in the 2016 Summer Olympics, due to quality-control issues relating to the boat’s carbon-fiber masts. According to reports, aluminum rigs will be sent to teams that have already received their carbon rigs, and the company plans to resolve their quality-control issues ASAP. More, inside.


Also inside, get the latest news from the World Sailing Speed Record Council, get the preview report from the upcoming Rose Bowl Regatta and check out the latest from the RORC Caribbean 600.


May the four winds blow you safely home,