Monday Morning Digest

A look at the week ahead and the week behind
Onne Van Der Wal

A timely left shift on the second beat of the final race helped Chris Law turn a lead of six feet into one of a half dozen boatlengths and win the UBS Challenge. Law, of Great Britain, knocked off Ed Baird 2-1 in the finals of the event, which is part of the nine-stop Swedish Match Tour. With nine of the 16 skippers in the event representing America’s Cup programs, many thought the finals would be a preview one of the match-ups that will take place in Auckland once the Louis Vuitton gets underway in October. But in the end it was two crafty, and unaffiliated, veterans who took center stage on Sunday afternoon and squared off for the $35,000 first prize.
For the complete story, see:

The 2002 edition of the Figaro, a 1691-nautical-mile jaunt from the English Channel to the Bay of Biscay via the Irish Sea and the Atlantic, began on Sunday. This event has long been a breeding ground for some of the best-known names in the world of singlehanded sailing, including Ellen MacArthur and Michael Desjoyeaux. For the first time, the Figaro will begin north of Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, before heading towards Crosshaven, an Irish port south of Cork, Les Sables d’Olonne, then Gijon, Spain, before crossing the finish line in Cherbourg.

This will be the last year that the race will be sailed in the Figaro Bénéteau, a 30-foot sloop that’s been the standard for 12 years. In 2003 the Figaro Bénéteau 2, designed by Marc Lombard, who also designed the Open 60s Sill Plein Fruit and Whirlpool. To follow the progress of this challenging race, see


We can’t all be world-famous sailors with thousands of sea miles under our belt. For a great tale about a beginning racing sailor and his first regatta, check out this story by Stuart Streuli.

John Ricci sees no reason to inflate his level of sailing expertise. He has a minimum and he isn’t afraid to admit it. “My sailing resume is non-existent,” he says. “It consists of two nights of PHRF racing last year and the four-day sail it took to deliver my boat from Annapolis to Marblehead.” But that didn’t stop Ricci from entering his newly acquired Frers 33 Whitecap in the Sailing World NOOD at Marblehead Race Week. He gathered a group of his friends, most of whom don’t know much more about sailing than he does, signed up, and trudged ahead. Today, out on the racecourse east of Marblehead Neck in a light easterly breeze and lumpy 6-foot swell was where his enthusiasm finally ran out of punch. It could get him a boat, get him out on the course, but it couldn’t get him ahead of any of the five other boats racing in his class. Unfamiliar with the workings of a spinnaker, Ricci and his team fell well off the pace on the downwind legs and finished last in each of two races. For the rest of the story, see:

The bars in Cowes, The Isle of Wight are getting a workout this week as light air dominates the scene at Cowes Race Week. Over 900 boats are entered in the annual bacchanalia/regatta , the high point of the English racing season.


First held in 1826, and running since–with brief breaks for World Wars 1 and 2–Cowes Week boasts classes from skiffs to modern IRC boats and everything in between. To assure full participation, Cowes week is held before the start of grouse shooting season in the U.K. For complete coverage, see

Harry Melges, of Zenda, Wis., and Jeff Ecklund of Lake Minnetonka, Minn. won the 2002 Melges 24 World Championship, sailed in Travemunde, Germany. USA-409, Star ended the regatta with 36 points, 28 points ahead of the second-place team of Sebastien Col and Philippe Ligot of France. Jamie Lea and Richard Thompson of Great Britain, took third. Melges and Ecklund were sailing USA409, owned by Kristian Nergaard from Norway, but better known as Brian Porter’s Full Throttle. For full results, see

The Middle Sea Race now has a three-year sponsorship agreement with Rolex. The 607-nautical-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race takes place in the heart of the Mediterranean and starts and finishes in Malta. The route includes the waters off Sicily, the Straits of Messina, the islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa and, Stromboli’s active volcano as a course mark. In addition, two days of coastal races around Malta and Gozo will be organized prior to the start of the Rolex Middle Sea Race.


Scheduled for October 26, the Rolex Middle Sea Race will include a Double Handed Class for the first time as well IMS/ORC Club Racer, IMS/ORC Club Cruiser, IRC/IRM Class Racer, and IRC/IRM Class Cruiser.