Grand Prix Sailor’s Monday Digest

Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Set To Start Thursday


Grand Prix Sailor is a 13-year-old racing news publication of Sailing World Magazine (http://

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the shortest day of the year has just passed by and we’re beginning our long, slow crawl back towards the Sun. Our sailing days are restricted to frostbiting and, hopefully, a winter event or two in warmer climes. Key West Race Week is only a few weeks away, the OCR Regatta and the SORC, regattas held on the warm waters of Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean off Miami Beach will be here before we know it.

While visions of jibe sets dance in our heads, folks in the Southern Hemisphere are enjoying late spring. A small, but extremely well-prepared fleet of some of the fastest raceboats in the world is preparing for the annual 630-mile bash from Sydney to Hobart on Dec. 26. The Around Alone sailors are (with one exception) plunging through the high latitudes of the Southern Ocean, and the two remaining challengers for the America’s Cup are preparing to decide which survivor goes on to face Team New Zealand.


The staff of Sailing World and Grand Prix Sailor wish you a happy holiday and a healthy and prosperous New Year. We hope that the next year brings you fair winds, perfect starts, penalty-free racing, and many pieces of silverware for your trophy case.

Olivier de Kersauson is on standby in Brest, France with his maxi-trimaran Geronimo, waiting for a weather window to begin another run at the Jules Verne record. This will be Geronimo’s second attempt at the record; last year de Kersauson and crew were forced to turn back after it became clear that their solitary rudder was unequal to the task of controlling the trimaran at speed.

De Kersauson and crew are hoping to beat the record set in May, 2002, by Bruno Peyron on the catamaran Orange-64d:8h:37m:24s. To follow Geronimo’s attempt:


Speaking of Orange, the big cat still boasts her Orange livery and bears a different, but just as well-known name, Kingfisher II. Waiting in Lorient and under the command of Ellen MacArthur, Kingfisher II will begin its wait for a weather window from mid-January on. To follow Kingfisher’s attempt, see:

At about the same time as many sailors in the United States are opening their presents on Christmas morning, 56 boats-ranging from the 96-foot Leopard of London to the Joubert 30 Impeccable-will be starting the annual trek down the coast of mainland Australia to the city of Hobart on the island of Tasmania.

Thanks to strict entry qualifications mandated as a result of the 1998 Sydney Hobart, in which six sailors died, the fleet is one of the smallest in recent memory, down from a high of 371 starters in 1994. The boats that made the cut include several entries which may well be capable of breaking the current Sydney Hobart record of 1d:19h:48m:2s, set by Nokia in 1999:


Leopard of London a 96-foot Reichel-Pugh maxi that survived a near-sinking in the Atlantic last spring. It emerged from a complete refit in time to be loaded on a freighter for transit to Australia. Staffed by a crew of Volvo, America’s Cup, and Sydney Hobart veterans, Leopard will be a force.

The 90-foot Alfa Romeo, formerly known as Shockwave, has been burning up racecourses all over Australia since it’s debut and win at Hamilton Island Race Week earlier this year. This Reichel/Pugh creation is the latest in high-speed design and, like Leopard, is crewed by a group of highly experienced grand prix sailors.

The 80-foot, water-ballasted maxi Nicorette blew the opposition away in the 2000 Sydney Hobart Race and was second across the line behind the Volvo 60 Assa Abloy in 2001.


The modified Open 60 Grundig, a 66-foot super skiff will be making its third attempt to arrive in Tasmania in one piece. Bad luck in previous races has kept this speedster from the podium, but extensive strengthening and underbody modifications should improve the boat’s chances this time around.

To follow the Sydney Hobart, see:

Miami Beach is a great place to visit even if you don’t have any excuse to be there. When you do have an excuse, such as the SORC, a four-day regatta at the end of February, the combination is even better. The 2003 Acura SORC will be held Feb.26 through Mar.2, out of Miami Beach Marina, where the Sailing World Race Village will be located. All boats registered by January 10th will be entered into a random draw with the winner having their entry fee waived. The final deadline for registering is February 10th, and you can do so on the event website,

Harman Hawkins passed away on Dec. 17, 2002, leaving a legacy of service to the sport. The former president of the U.S. Yacht Racing Union was constantly involved as a judge and in sailing’s associations, including theYacht Racing Union of Long Island, which he presided over at one time the United States Yacht Racing Union, and served the Manhasset Bay and Storm Trysail Clubs, both of which he served as commodore. At the USYRU he also served as chairman of the Appeals, Judges, Racing Rules, and Legal Committees.

During his years with the International Yacht Racing Union (now ISAF) Hawkins held the offices of vice chairman of the Review Board, and member of the Permanent (now Council), Racing Rules, and Constitution committees. He also participated in the drafting of Racing Rule Appendix 14 and the Eligibility code. Indeed, until his death, Hawkins was a member of the ISAF Review Board. In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the sport of sailing, ISAF honored him with the presentation of its Silver Medal.

From a Volvo Race press release: “Following a meeting of the Volvo Ocean Race Board in Sweden, Volvo is set to support sailing in an even bigger way than previously envisioned. Full backing was given to extensive plans to support new sailing events in co-operation with other partners in addition to the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006, which will show support for the sport of sailing in a much broader and more beneficial way.

“Final plans for the next Volvo Ocean Race were approved, and a press conference will be held in Auckland, New Zealand, on February 10th, where plans will be revealed. The new concepts now formalized are as a result of much discussion with ocean racing competitors, designers, potential entries and commercial partners, and the plans reflect the consensus of opinion distilled from this detailed consultation process. Along with the details of the new design of race boat, together with the intended new racetrack and race format, full details of Volvo’s integrated worldwide sailing sponsorship will be also be confirmed.”

GPS will publish an interview with Glenn Bourke, the new chief executive of the Volvo Race, in next week’s Grand Prix Sailor’s Monday Digest.

In a related news item, the Volvo Race management headquarters received a gift box last week holding a key and a certificate. The certificate read: “Merry Christmas to all at Volvo Ocean Race. We wanted to underline the fantastic experience we had with you during the first edition of the Volvo Ocean Race…so we wanted to offer you a special gift.

“Our precious gift was too big to wrap but it is located close to you in Southampton at Spitfire Quay. The female mold that was used to build the ASSA ABLOY boats is yours to keep and can be used over and over again to build identical hulls.

“Thank you for a good co-operation in 2002 and best wishes for 2003. ASSA ABLOY Racing Team”

The ASSA ABLOY boats were possibly the lightest VO60 boats ever built. One of the reasons for this was that they were the only VO60s built out of an 8mm thick, solid carbon-fiber female mold made by Green Marine. It took 5000 man-hours to build and cost $300,000.

Grand Prix Sailor and Grand Prix Sailor–America’s Cup Edition are weekly newsletters compiled by the editors of Sailing World magazine. If you’d like to subscribe, see http:// Contributing Editors: Tony Bessinger
([email protected]), Dave Reed ([email protected]), Stuart Streuli (, John Burnham ([email protected])


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