Archive for the ‘pirates’ Category

Sydney Hobart Race 2009

Sydney Hobart Race 2009

Sydney Hobart Race: Alfa Romeo, Wild Oats and Leopard Sailing into Hobart

The yacht Alfa Romeo has taken line honors in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, sailing from Sydney to Hobart in 2 days, 9 hours, 2 minutes and 10 seconds. Neville Crichton’s victory brings to an end an extraordinary run of four straight line honours wins for Wild Oats XI, and is the second line honors victory for Crichton, who won in 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart with a previous yacht named Alfa Romeo. Then the 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race line honors podium filled this morning when Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI and Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard finished in second and third positions.

Wild Oats XI finished at five minutes after midnight, two hours and three minutes behind her Reichel/Pugh 100 near-sister yacht Neville Crichton’s Alfa Romeo. Leopard, a Farr 100, finished at 0545, five hours and 40 minutes behind Wild Oats XI.

Next to finish, at 0734, was another 100ft maxi, the Greg Elliott-designed Investec Loyal (Sean Langman), which previously raced for New Zealand owners as Maximus.

Fifth home, at 0927, was Niklas Zennstrom’s Ran from the UK, a Judel/Volijk-designed 72-footer that was overall handicap winner in the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race.

Ran has a chance of winning the race’s major trophy, the Tattersall’s Cup, for the first yacht on IRC corrected time. She has certainly beaten Alfa Romeo, which led the IRC overall standings for a time yesterday, denying Crichton the rare handicap/line honours double.

Wild Oats’ Mark Richards was gracious in defeat. “It was a tactical race and we never got a look in really,” Richards said. “They had a little edge on us on the first night and the next morning we were in a big parking lot together. They got out first and put 30 miles on us before we knew what had happened.”

Mike Slade had an historical perspective of the close three-way battle of the maxis: “When Napoleon turned up at Waterloo he knew he was in for a bad day, he had a bad day at the office didn’t he? I’ve been a bit like that. It was a fantastic race and well done Alfa, bloody marvellous.”

Slade said that Leopard had gambled by sailing farther offshore than Alfa and Oats down the east coast of Australia rather than sailing in Alfa’s wake. “We went offshore because there was no point in covering Alfa’s tracks; she had about 20 miles on us and we just got locked out. We had about four shut-downs and it was as frustrating as hell. We sat there for hours, watching them go away. That cost us. We got punished.”

Rounding Tasman Island was the worst Slade had experienced. “There was no wind and appalling seas; really nasty because it’s a lee shore, you’ve got no steerage because there’s no wind, but the seas were huge and that took us a couple of hours.

“Alfa and Oats had already gone round. The rich get rich and the poor get poorer, that’s what the game’s all about. So it was a shocker but we loved every minute of it. We will be back to do another one I think – the boat’s a glutton for punishment.”

Ran, after performing well in the fresh upwind work on the first night, parked in calms before zooming back into handicap contention with a blistering run on the new nor’-west breeze off Flinders Island.

Ran’s owner/skipper Niklas Zennstrom said: “The race at times was frustrating, we got parked up. Yesterday afternoon we had a fantastic run, we were reaching at up to 24 knots of boat speed, averaging 18 and 19 knots. It was excellent sailing.

“This morning was also very good; last night we had a few stops and goes. But we are happy with how the boat performed on corrected time and we will have to wait and see how the other boats are going on handicap.

“At times it looked really, really bad for us and really good for the small boats, but that’s how it is. All you can do is sail as good as you can and avoid making as many mistakes as possible. I don’t think we made too many mistakes.”

Ran’s tactician Adrian Stead said that after riding the nor’-wester fast, Ran hit a light spot last evening, 20 miles northeast of Maria Island. “We got through that and sailed the last bit up here pretty well, very conscious that 10:20 was our deadline to beat Alfa,” he said.

With six yachts finished, and five yachts retired, there are 89 yachts still racing.

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Pirates Attack Ship La Somme

Pirates Attack Ship La Somme

Pirates Attack French Navy Ship

According to the the French military, Somali pirates attempted to storm the French navy’s 18,000 tonne flagship in the Indian Ocean after mistaking it for a cargo vessel. The crew of La Somme, a 160-metre (525-foot) command vessel and fuel tanker, easily saw off the brazen night-time assault by lightly armed fighters on two lightweight skiffs and captured five pirates, a spokesman said.

“The pirates, who because of the darkness took the French ship for a commercial vessel, were on board two vessels and opened fire with Kalashnikovs,” Admiral Christophe Prazuck said in Paris.

La Somme is the French command vessel in the Indian Ocean, overseeing French air, sea and land forces fighting Somali pirates and hunting terrorists under the banner of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom. Officers on the ship have directed commando operations to free French hostages in the hands of Somali pirates.

The pirates tried to flee when they realized their mistake but were pursued by French forces who, after an hour-long chase, caught one of the skiffs, Prazuck said. On it they found five men but no weapons, water or food as the pirates had apparently thrown all of the boat’s contents overboard, the spokesman said.

A Western official at sea in the area, said that there had been an exchange of fire between the warship and the pirate launches. “One of the skiffs managed to get away in the night because La Somme was busy with the first pirate boat,” he said.

“Despite the arrival of other vessels, they haven’t yet managed to find the second boat,” he said, adding that many warships in the area were busy hunting another group which attacked a cargo ship off the Seychelles on Sunday. The world’s naval powers have deployed dozens of warships to the lawless waters off Somalia over the past year to curb attacks by pirates in one of the world’s busiest maritime trade routes.

La Somme was operating 250 nautical miles (460 kilometres) off the Somali coast, on its way to resupply fuel to frigates patrolling shipping lanes as part of the European Union’s Operation Atalanta anti-piracy mission.

This was not the first time that Somali pirates have mistakenly attacked a French naval vessel. Several pirates were captured in May when they attempted to board a frigate in the area.

Somalia has had no proper government since it plunged into lawlessness after President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. The country is riven by factional fighting and pirate gangs operate freely from several ports along its Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden coasts.

Last year, more than 130 merchant ships were attacked, an increase of more than 200 percent on 2007, according to the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur. Pirates have in recent weeks resumed attacks with the end of the monsoon season. Last week Somali gunmen captured Spanish fishing boat The Alakrana with 36 crew members in the Indian Ocean.

Read about Pirate Attacks on Sailboats in 2009

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Sailing Photo of the Day: Open 60 sailboat

Open 60 Sailboat

Open 60 Sailboat

Stay tuned tomorrow for more sailing news from around the world.

Pirate attacks off the Somali coast appear to be mainly opportunistic and there is no indication that vessels are targeted with the help of intelligence from international contacts, a maritime watchdog said Friday.

The International Maritime Bureau said there was no evidence to support media reports that individuals with access to information about shipping routes and cargoes may be helping pirates to locate the most vulnerable ships, and ones most likely to yield large ransoms.

Pirate raids on vessels off the Horn of Africa have surged this year, confounding authorities who have been hard-pressed to curb the assaults despite the deployment of an international task force of military craft.

Many experts and authorities believe the pirates target ships almost at random, but the burgeoning business of collecting ransoms from shipping companies eager to free their crews and cargoes has triggered a debate about the degree of sophistication of the assailants.

“Further allegations have been made in the press that London-based information channels have been utilized to provide intelligence to the pirate gangs,” the London-based bureau said. “There is no evidence to support these allegations.”

“Further, there is no information in the public domain that would enable pirates to precisely locate a targeted vessel at sea and then to mount a successful attack off the Horn of Africa,” it said.

The bureau said attacked vessels included fishing boats, bulk carriers and a supertanker, with assorted cargoes bound for a variety of ports. It said pirates have tried to attack naval units, mistakenly believing them to be merchant ships.

“Pirates target vessels that are easy to board and in their vicinity,” the bureau said. “If an attack is successfully repelled they move on to another vessel.”

On Wednesday, the commander of the European Union’s naval task force said searches of captured “mother” pirate ships operating off the Somali coast have revealed for the first time that gangs are coordinating their attacks against commercial shipping.

But British Rear Admiral Philip Jones said he was “bemused” by media reports that the pirates were receiving intelligence on the movement of commercial shipping from sources in the West, adding that the searches of the mother ships had yielded no such evidence.

Despite the international naval presence, attacks on commercial shipping off the Somali coast have increased in the last two months as pirates have taken to sailing far out into the Indian Ocean to attack vessels beyond the patrol range of the warships.  – AP

Pirate Attacks on Sailing Yachts. Piracy Warnings for Sailboats 2009