Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Horse, Mystery Horse, Winged Horse

Too cool to not share.

In a year when we've seen one-design keelboats hit new levels in the USA—47 entries at the Beneteau 36.7 North Americans, 69 entries at the J/105 North Americans—it looks as though the Europeans are showing us the way to long-distance one design racing.

We're talking yet another entry in the overcrowded field of long distance, shorthanded, professional events, but the one design aspect is a unique wrinkle, and dig the 52-foot prototype digging the English Channel off Normandy . . .

Photo by Jean-Marie Liot

Twin rudders, daggerboards, oh my. Also wide and flat; I believe that's an escape hatch in the transom.

Photo by Jean-Marie Liot

The SolOceans notion is to have a fleet of these things leaving France on October 25 for a stop in New Zealand, followed by a race back in 2008.

Having been up-close and personal with a Laser Generation that used to go to the factory to hand-pick a hull, I have to wonder a bit at the proposition of, "16m high-tech Oceanic One Designs® all completely identical to each other with regards to hull, equipment and sails," but no doubt they'll be close enough that skill and the fortunes of war will count far more than any differences in the boats.

We expect glowing reports in circumstances like this, but let's quote Yvan Griboval anyway. Returning from tests led by Erwan Tabarly, Griboval writes, "At the helm, it's a real treat." And I find that quite plausible.

Meanwhile, also in Europe

From the department of not-just-waiting-for-the-judge comes an announcement by America's Cup Management that two more yacht clubs have entered challenges with the defender, Société Nautique de Genève.

ACM does not name Mascalzone Latino, but the Italians have named themselves. From the team's web site comes this rare marvel of economy:

"On Saturday 17th November 2007, Mascalzone Latino launched with Reale Yacht Club Canottieri Savoia its challenge to the 33rd America's Cup."

Which, frankly, is everything there is to say, but I'm accustomed to finding it said in two pages or more.

You will recall that Vincenzo Onorato's team had a fast horse this year but not enough development time to pay it off. They did, however, kick off challenger racing with a bangup, upset win over Team New Zealand.

Turning to the ACM announcement: One new entry is a mystery team that may or may not be the Italian Rascals ("has requested confidentiality pending its own announcement") and the other is Ayre, a new team but representing (thank you, heavens above) the known entity of Real Club Náutico de Denia. Is this team a well-funded, honest-injun deal or just smoke at an opportune time? Dunno, but at least the YC is real as well as Real. Located in Denia on the Costa Blanca, about halfway between Valencia and Alicante, the Real Club Náutico de Denia has been around for 40 years. Team chairman Pedro Perelló had some comments regarding an association of Spanish clubs still forming, to spread the influence, or something, but I'm afraid I lost that in translation. America's Cup challenges often wrap themselves in high-minded ideals, and they're hard enough to follow (swallow?) in English, which returns my thoughts to Onorato's economy.

This brings to seven the number of "accepted challengers." ACM's statement further says, "the number of entered Challengers for the 33rd America's Cup could increase over the coming days, as there are two more teams who have started filing the necessary registering documents with the event organiser . . . Other positive news for the organisation and the teams of the 33rd America's Cup came from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, confirming that the Spanish Senate has approved a number of financial measures that were committed in the Host City Venue Agreement, such as tax benefits and social security exemptions."

The unentered challenger, of course, is BMW Oracle Racing, and if you don't already know we have a court case brewing, this is not the place for you to start your catch-up reading.

Because it is . . .

. . . a cool pic, even though it's no longer fresh news that Sally Barkow won the Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship last weekend, this is worth sharing. What we have here is the elite of women's sailing in the USA, with Barkow on the left and Olympic Laser Rep Anna Tunnicliffe reaching down toward us on the right. Girls rock—Kimball

Photo by Dan Nerney/Rolex