McMillan to steer X40 Ecover

18 05 2010

With two weeks to go until the start of the Extreme Sailing Series the Ecover Sailing Team have announced an all British line up for the season ahead.

British Olympic Tornado sailor Leigh McMillan is one of two new crew announcements, as he takes on the helm of the Ecover Extreme 40 in 2010. America’s Cup and TP52 sailor Jonathan Taylor also steps onboard in the role of bowman when they line up for the first event in Sète, France at the end of May. Skipper Mike Golding takes on the role of trimmer, with 2009 Ecover crew member Will Howden remaining in the joint role of mainsheet and tactician.

The new line up reunites McMillan and Howden, who competed together at World and Olympic level in the Tornado class from 2004 until to 2008. As one of the world’s top dinghy and multihull sailors, Leigh is no stranger to Extreme 40’s. In 2009 he took charge of Oman Sail Masirah during the 2009 Extreme Sailing Series Asia, steering the team to victory during this inaugural event.

“Since the Tornado class was withdrawn from the Olympics the Extreme 40 seemed an obvious choice. I did some coaching for the Ecover Sailing Team during the European season in 2009, and then jumped onboard Oman Sail Masirah for the Asian series. These boats are multihull sailing at its best, it’s fast, intense and the standard of competition is very high. It’s great to be sailing again with Will, and the experience Mike and Jonathan bring from the world of IMOCA and the America’s Cup is invaluable. I’m looking forward to getting some strong results and mixing it up with the top teams from last season,” Ecover Sailing Team helm, Leigh McMillan.

After a small refit on the boat, the team has been training out of Hamble in the build up to the first event.

“Training has gone really well. Will and Leigh have a great synergy onboard, so it has been a very smooth process working in the role changes. 2009 was a learning curve for all of us, and I hope this year will see us raise the bar in terms of performance on the water. Leigh will be fantastic on the helm, and we intend to make an impact on the leaderboard this season”. Ecover Sailing Team Skipper, Mike Golding (GBR)

Despite its position in the Mediterranean, Sète has a history of being a great location for sailing. The town of Saintes-Maries-de-Mar (commonly known as ‘the trench’ in France) is close by, which has been the location for many speed records most recently in 2009 when l’Hydroptère set a new World Sailing Speed Record there. As a result the region can provide a perfect backdrop for spectacular sailing, but with the Mediterranean on the doorstep there is always the threat of a high-pressure system coming into throw the racing off track.

“We have a fantastic team in place and the series will take us to some brilliant locations for racing. I am sure the competition will, as always, be very close. I hope to attend some events and I am looking forward to seeing the Ecover Sailing Team in action. Good luck for 2010!” Michael Bremans, CEO Ecover

Ecover Sailing Team Crew:

Mike Golding (GBR) Skipper/Trimmer
Leigh McMillan (GBR) Helm
Will Howden (GBR) Mainsheet/Tactician
Jonathan Taylor (GBR) Bow

2010 Extreme Sailing Series Europe Calendar:

Sète, France 27-30 May
Cowes, UK 31 July – 5 August
Kiel, Germany – 26-29 August
Trapani, Italy 23-26 September
Almeria, Spain 9-12 October

We've got an interview with Leigh about how to muscle a multihull downwind without capsizing. It's on SailJuice here:

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Nice TP52 blast reaching photo

16 05 2010

Nice on-board work from Ian Roman

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Kiwis blitz TP52 season opener

16 05 2010

The current Audi MedCup champions proved they have lost nothing from their competitive edge as they both opened their respective 2010 season with resounding wins in the Portugal Trophy, Cascais.

After another day of muscular breezes which produced fantastic racing conditions off Sintra, just to the west of Cascais, Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) and Puerto Calero (ESP) had both set up unassailable regatta leads, clinching their respective trophies with a race to spare.

Through the five events of the 2010 Audi MedCup season, regatta trophies are a bonus, and this is Emirates Team New Zealand’s fifth successive regatta title in a row, but the dominant Kiwi crew will be even more content to leave Portugal with a comprehensive lead of 20 points over Franco-German Circuit newcomers AudiA1 powered by All4ONE.

AudiA1 powered by All4ONE may have finished with a sixth in the final race of the regatta, but the team which is headed by four times Olympic Jochen Schuemann (GER), finished consistently in the top half of the fleet through the second half of the regatta to prove they have the talent and the tools to be podium contenders. It is Schuemann’s best podium finish on the Circuit, bettering his third in Puerto Portals in 2008 with Platoon Powered by Team Germany.

The tough conditions produced a typically bruising final day which placed big demands on crew work and equipment. Emirates Team New Zealand proved, once again, a cut above the rest in the breeze but there were gennakers shredded again today and several teams not managing to convert on the final day, due to mechanical or sail failures, whether or not they were the product of crewing errors.

The British America’s Cup crew lost their gennaker sheet under the boat during the first race to finish 10th. For some of the time today Ben Ainslie (GBR) and the TeamOrigin (GBR) crew looked like an truly exceptional unit, leading again during the first race of the day, but they still have a speed deficit downwind which needs rectifying.

Ainslie summed up the event for the team, "A tough day on the water but the overall result was a good one for our first regatta with limited preparation time. There is plenty of scope for improvement which is promising for the rest of the season."

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Euro-Silver for Ed Wright in Finns

16 05 2010

Ed Wright claimed sailing silver for Great Britain at the Finn European Championship on Sunday (16 May) after a testing week of light wind racing in Split, Croatia, with Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Ally Martin also returning with silver from the Women’s European Match Racing Championships in Hard, Austria.

At the Finn Europeans, the 32-year-old Wright was in second place heading into Sunday’s final 10-boat medal race, where a third place from that race was enough to keep hold of the silver medal, with victory going to local hero and defending European champion Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic.

Poor wind conditions dogged the six-day event for the Olympic heavyweight dinghy class, with just two of the intended six races having been possible by the halfway stage of the regatta.

But some late racing on Friday, with the sailors returning to shore in almost darkness, helped get the championship – and Wright’s medal assault – back on track.

Skandia Team GBR’s 2006 European Champion Wright had seen an indifferent start to the week in the light wind conditions, with 10,11,10 from his opening three races before fighting his way back through the fleet, making the most of the improved breeze for Saturday’s two races to start Sunday’s double-points scoring medal showdown just two points behind Spain’s Rafael Trujillo.

Trujillo suffered in the 10-boat final, finishing seventh in the race and outside of the overall medal positions in fourth, while Kljakovic Gaspic took second to Wright’s third in the medal race to finish equal on points with the British sailor, but with his better placing in the final race handing him the European title.

“Having won the Europeans in 2006 I really wanted to get gold again here, but with the conditions we’ve had this week and considering where I was at the beginning of the week, I’m happy with silver,” Wright explained. 

“The medal race was a tricky race, just as it’s been all week,” he continued.

“The wind was off the land so we had very shifty and gusty conditions.  I got a pretty good start but I couldn't really tack because there were a lot of boats on my hip.  The Croatian, Mate, managed to tack and cross and he was away for the race.

“On the first run [Mate and Ivan] just got away really and we were just trying to catch them the rest of the race.”

Fellow Skandia Team GBR sailor Giles Scott also featured in the final medal race, finishing his regatta in seventh, with teammates Mark Andrews and Andrew Mills ending their Europeans campaigns in 14th and 17th places respectively.

“It’s certainly been a week for smart sailors,” surmised Skandia Team GBR Finn coach Matt Howard.

“It’s incredibly tiring and mentally draining on the sailors being on standby for so many hours each day, and then having to raise your game to start racing at 6 or 7 o’clock in the evening.

“It’s great for Ed that he’s managed to come away with silver after such a testing event, and he still remains the most consistent performer in the class this year.”

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Kiwis on a roll in Cascais

16 05 2010

Emirates Team New Zealand has stretched out their lead in the Portugal Trophy after winning the coastal race for the first time in their Audi MedCup history.

Dean Barker and his crew on board NZL380 dominated the 38-mile race running between Cascais and Lisbon, relishing the strong northerly winds which gusted over 25 knots.  

Today’s victory – Emirates Team New Zealand’s first in a coastal race in six Audi MedCup regattas – has given the defending champions a 14-point lead going into tomorrow’s final two races.

“We’ve got a nice little buffer now,” said Barker.

“It was a perfect course for us today, and we were determined to come out of the blocks firing.”

Emirates Team New Zealand was second off the startline behind closest rivals TeamOrigin, but took the lead around the first mark off Cabo Raso, the western tip of Cascais.  But as they rounded, their gennaker exploded, allowing TeamOrigin back into the battle.

“We blew out the chute on the hoist, but the guys did a fantastic job to recover, and we passed TeamOrigin again,” Barker said.

NZL380 then established a sizeable lead at the end of the run, continuing to build on that, gib-reaching to the eastern end of the course at the historic Belem Tower on Lisbon’s River Tajo.

At the finish directly off the Marina of Cascais breakwater, Emirates Team New Zealand crossed line one and a half minutes ahead of the next boat, Matador, of Argentina, which had Italian Francesco Bruni calling tactics.

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Weird Coastal Race for Team Origin

15 05 2010

Weird Coastal Race for Team Origin

Today saw the spectacular coastal race take place on day four of this Audi MedCup series, a 38 mile battle with winds forecast between 15 and 25 knots. This was an important race in the series as the results hold a 1.5 point multiplier. TEAMORIGIN started with great promise, yet again an awesome start and leading for the first lap, but then appearing to struggle for speed in the long downwind legs, ending up in a disappointing 9th position. Emirates Team New Zealand took a comfortable race win consolidating their position at the top of the leaderboard with two races to go. TEAMORIGIN now lie in a very close 4th place going into the last day.

For full story go to

TEAMORIGIN quotes from today:

Mike Sanderson, TEAMORIGIN Team Director : “We had an awesome start, led from the outset and had a great first lap. Near Cape raso mark we seemed to slow, maybe foul tide and ETNZ got ahead of us, they then blew a spinnaker and we passed them again and from then on we were completely off the pace. We are not sure why, maybe we caught a bag or something but it did not feel right so we are spending the time to analyse and work it out.

All in all a very disappointing day for the guys, for sure you do not expect to be leading for a whole lap after an awesome start and then finish in 9th place, pretty unheard of so something is wrong for sure and we will find the way to put it right and move on.”

Juan Vila, TEAMORIGIN Navigator, added “We had a pretty good first beat and 1st run and going into Cabo Raso mark we felt a bit slower there, from then on other boats overtook us and we couldn’t really find the pace to get back into it, now we need to find the reason why.”

Coastal race results from today:
1. Emirates team New Zealand
2. Matador
3. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE
4. Artemis
5. Bribon
6. Bigamist 7
7. Quantum
8. Cristabella
10. Synergy
11. Luna Rossa

TP52 Series results – overall after Day 4
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 27.5 points
2. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), 41.5
3. Artemis (SWE), 42
4. TeamOrigin (GBR), 42.5
5. Synergy (RUS), 49
6. Matador (ARG), 52
7. Quantum (USA), 53.5
8. Cristabella (GBR), 55
9. Luna Rossa (ITA), 61.5
10. Bribon (ESP), 64.5
11. Bigamist 7 (POR),75

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Iain Percy – bouncing back from a bad day in Cascais

14 05 2010

Iain Percy, Tactician, “We almost had a very solid day, but one little misjudgement cost us. I was very pleased at how we responded to that mistake though, it is making the most out of those bad races that this long series is all about.”

So said Iain after Day 2 of the Audi MedCup Circuit event in Cascais, Portugal. It’s early days for Team Origin and their brand new TP52, but so far so good.

To read more about Iain’s tips on how to get out of a bad spot, check out the SailJuice exclusive interview with the gold medallist here:

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