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Team HiHo took first place in the North Sails IC24 Invitational Regatta

North Sails IC24 Regatta

Tortola’s Team HiHo took first place in the North Sails IC24 Invitational Regatta, held out of the St Thomas Yacht Club. Former Olympian Robbie Hirst led his crew to victory over last year’s winner Fraito Lugo of Puerto Rico. The tournament format saw 25 boats divided into a Gold and Silver fleet.

St Thomas sailor Chris Rosenberg, one of the innovators behind the IC24’s modification from a J24 swept to victory in the Silver fleet, but otherwise it was the BVI sailors who dominated.

New Beneteau 523

Beneteau has just unveiled the new Oceanis 523 Clipper, the long-awaited successor to the classic Oceanis 50. The 16.2 meter, Finot-designed Clipper was presented at this month’s London Boat Show. The 523 will be offered in owner and charter versions to provide alternative cabin/head combinations.

The 10.6 Oceanis Clipper 343, unveiled in September 2004 is already sold out until May as the company keeps on track to increase sales by 50 per cent from 2003-8.

North stars at Bitter End

The Bitter End yacht club’s 10th Annual Defiance Regatta and 3rd Scuttlebutt Offshore Championship saw a clutch of top names, including Russell Coutts, Lowell North and Ed Musto, congregate in Virgin Gorda. And it was North, along with Olympic medallist JJ Isler who took top honours in a fleet that included his Jeanneau 52, three Bavaria Charter Yachts, BEYC Freedom 30s and other local racing, cruising and charter boats. Coutts restricted himself to a coaching role aboard his all-girl crewed entry, placing seventh.

Boats of the year

Sailing World has picked its 2005 Boat of the Year Winners. Overall winner was J Boats 33′ daysailer J/100, retaining the award that was won last year by the J/133 racer/cruiser. Best raceboat went to the Seaquest 36, Best Cruiser/Racer to the Beneteau First 44.7 and Best Performance Boat to the Nacra A2 catamaran.

Calypso Marine Canvas

Trinidad’s Calypso Marine Canvas, based in Chaguaramas, has won the Industrial Fabrics Association International 2004 International Achievement Award. In short, Calypso has been honoured for design and technology innovation for its Dorado project, an entry in the Marine Upholstery and Interior Fabrics section. The winning entry was based on the refurbishment of a 1972 68′ Chris Craft. The Trinidad company was one of only two Caribbean winners in a field that included 370 entries from 21 countries.

Cuban charges dropped

A US judge has dismissed the charges against the organizers of last May’s Key West to Cuba race. 20 boats took part in the race but were warned they were violating US Department of Commerce licensing laws. Race organizers were subsequently accused of violating the Trading with the Enemy Act and providing unlicensed travel services to Cuba – offences which could have carried a 15-year jail sentence.

Update your address book

Doyle Sailmakers and UK Sailmakers have agreed to merge, according to Robbie Doyle and Butch Ulmer. The new outfit will be called Doyle-UK.

He’s the fastest

The BVI’s Finian Maynard has finally broken Yellow Pages’ 11-year sail speed record to become the fastest sailor on the planet. Finian hit an astounding 46.82 knots on his ‘speed gun’ board, powered by a Mylar film sail, over a 500 meter course on a canal in the South of France.

Breaking the waves

The concept of interactive media was given a new twist recently when a sailor listening to BBC Radio 4 off the coast of Scotland heard the presenter tell him, as the nation listened, to turn his radio off. The incident sparked off when Scottish coast guards found themselves monitoring not the emergency VHF channel but a Parliamentary debate on fox hunting. Realising that a local sailor was blocking the channel, they asked the BBC to broadcast an appeal not to listen. Within a matter of minutes, the guilty salt had cleared the channel.

Rolex ISAF World Sailors of the Year

Brazilian Laser legend Robert Scheidt and Greek 470 duo Sofia Bekatorou and Emilia Tsoula have been awarded this year’s ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award in the men’s and women’s category respectively. For Scheidt, the award capped a year that had seen a record seventh World Laser Championship and an Olympic Gold. For the Greeks, the prize recognized triumph over injury for Bekatorou to secure an Olympic Gold. Competition this year was typically stiff – Britain’s Ben Ainslie, France’s Francois Joyon and America’s Steve Fossett and Ed Baird were among other high profile nominees.

Hats off to Panama

The Panama Canal recently celebrated a five-year milestone. Opened in 1914, the 50-mile canal was handed over to Panama by the United States on December 31, 1999. And despite fears the handover would lead to chaos, the last five years have seen a reduced number of shipping accidents and an average of six hours sliced off transit times. A trend worth cultivating – the canal accounts for one fifth of Panama’s economy and five per cent of the world’s trade passes through the canal.

Animal Welfare fundraiser

St Maarten’s 12 Metre Challenge recently hosted its annual fundraising regatta for the island’s Animal Welfare Foundation. Among those who took up crew spots on Stars & Stripes, True North, True North IV and Canada II were children from the St Maarten Academy’s Interact Club, which aims to help local youngsters participate in community projects.

Grenada LaSource festival

The LaSource Sailing Festival kicks off January 28 to February 1, keeping the regatta on the calendar despite last year’s devastation from Hurricane Ivan on the Spice Isle. Started in 1994, the festival brings together local Caribbean racing boats, Grenadian workboats and sailors from Europe. Contact Sarah Baker on (473) 440 4089.

Round Barbados

The Sail Barbados Round the Island Race will kick off from Carlisle Bay on Errol Barrow Day, January 21. A mixture of racers, cruising yachts and catamarans are expected to compete for the AT&T Wireless Trophy among others. The fastest mono- and multihull winners will receive the skippers weight in Mount Gay Extra Old Rum. Completing the tour of the island is expected to take between 6 and 12 hours. Follow developments on www.sailbarbados.com

Spice Island Billfish tourney

The Spice Island Billfish Tournament will kick off on Friday 21st January, concluding Saturday. This annual 100% Tag and Release tournament off the coast of Grenada will see a proportion of the proceeds from the EC200/angler entry fee go towards the ravaged island’s Hurricane Ivan relief fund. To register, contact Pat or Wendy on sibtgrenada@jbin-gda.com

Caribwind Laser Midwinters

The 3rd Caribbean Laser Midwinters in Cabarete, DR, will be held from January 14 to 16. The change of date is to allow racers to compete also in the Miami OCR following the DR regatta. For more information go to: www.caribwind.com

St Maarten Lagoon Regatta

At the end of this month, the sail covers will once again come off St Maarten’s fleet of Sunfast Jeanneau 20s for the ‘Lagoon Regatta’, January 29-30. Racing will be in the successful round robin format with results then dividing the teams into Gold and Silver fleets. To enter, call Cary on (599) 552 0068 or email director@bigboatseries.com

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