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Round-the-world race gets silver screening

The Velux 5 Oceans race around the globe has hit the big screen with a role in a Hollywood movie based around sailing.

South Carolina solo circumnavigator Brad Van Liew's former boat is featured in a new Hollywood drama on sailing.

The race, dubbed The Ultimate Solo Challenge, was chosen to be the round-the-world yacht race central to the film "Charlie St. Cloud," starring teen heartthrob Zac Efron. The film is an adaptation of the best-selling Ben Sherwood novel "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud," in which the eponymous hero falls in love with a young sailor days before she is due to go to sea in a challenging solo round-the-world yacht race.

Film producers chose to base the film on the 35,000-mile Velux 5 Oceans race - formerly the BOC Challenge and Around Alone - for its rich heritage spanning 28 years and reputation as one of the toughest sporting challenges known to man. It is the first time a major ocean yacht race has been featured on the silver screen.

Fittingly, the yacht used in the film is none other than Velux 5 Oceans skipper Brad Van Liew's old boat 50-footer named Gryphon Solo.

The timing couldn't be better, as Charleston-based skipper Van Liew is once again returning to the race, which sets out Oct. 17 from La Rochelle, France.

U.S. youth win three bronze medals

For the first time in 18 years, US  Sailing's youth world team won three bronze medals at the 40th Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF world championship.

The winners were Erika Reineke of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in the Laser Radial; Antoine Screve of Kentfield, Calif., and James Moody of Tiburon, Calif., in the 29er; and Taylor Palmer of Miami Shores, Fla., and Mac Agnese of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in the Sirena SL16.

The regatta put the world's best youth sailors - 344 sailors from 63 countries - up against challenging conditions and intense competition throughout the week.

"The medals don't lie," says Olympic coach Leandro Spina. "We are very happy. The whole team had a very good regatta in very challenging conditions. They were focused and disciplined and they approached the event day by day. In the end, all our training paid off. I'm very proud of them."

Passage-making cruiser groups to join forces

The Cruising Rally Association, organizers of the annual Caribbean 1500 Rally, and the World Cruising Club, organizers of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, are joining forces to become the largest global organization dedicated to the sport of passage-making.

The CRA's signature rally sails from Hampton, Va., to the British Virgin Islands and the WCC sails from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia.

The venture brings together the North American sailing events into the European reach.

"Our combined events will provide more opportunities for cruising sailors wishing to sail offshore in company, while strengthening safety standards and procedures and facilitating the sharing of knowledge and experience among cruisers," says WCC managing director Andrew Bishop. CRA president Steve Black said the joint venture would help ensure the long-term continuation and success of his organization's events. n

N.Y. Yacht Club supports Olympic sailors

The Sailing Foundation of New York raised $150,000 for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Program at the Golden Spinnaker Regatta and Gala. Hosted by the New York Yacht Club at Harbour Court in Newport, R.I., the day and evening event celebrated the hard work, teamwork and dedication required to achieve success at the 2012 Olympics and 2012 Paralympics.

"Once again, the Sailing Foundation of New York, along with New York Yacht Club, has stepped forward in dramatic fashion to support the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Program and our athletes," says Olympic Sailing chairman Dean Brenner of Wallingford, Conn. "Their generous support will enable our athletes to perform at the highest levels and achieve their goals."

2012 Olympic selection procedure announced

US Sailing's Olympic Sailing Committee finalized the selection procedures for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team with sailing in the 10 events selected for the 2012 Olympic Regatta, set for July 27-Aug. 12, 2012, in Weymouth/Portland, England.

Athletes will have the opportunity to qualify based on their combined performance at two international events: Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, in Weymouth/Portland, England, scheduled for June 5-11, 2011; and the International Sailing Federation Sailing World Championship, in Perth, Australia, scheduled for Dec. 3-18, 2011.

The exception is the Women's Match Racing event, which will have two separate qualifying regattas, available to U.S. athletes only: one in Miami in October, 2011, and another in Weymouth, England, in spring 2012.

LaserPerformance World Open results

Sail Newport brought together 95 competitors for the inaugural LaserPerformance World Open in Newport, R.I., in late June. Another 132 boats took part in a European portion of the regatta at the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy in England. The essence of the event was to combine a competitive regatta with fun sailing competition within a family-style atmosphere on a global spectrum.

The event got off to a great start with a steady 8- to 10-knot breeze with five fleets of boats launching. As the sea breeze kicked in, the puffs cranked up to about 14 knots.

The Laser/Sunfish fleets competed on a windward/leeward course and completed seven races. The Bugs competed in a "Fun Race" where their focus was not only to get around the course, but also to accumulate "style points" for such things as doing 360s on a leg of the course, singing and dancing (singing on key did not get you extra points), sailing backwards for 30 seconds and epic capsizes. There was also one sailor who received points for waiving around a fake sword and doing his best Jack Sparrow imitation.

A key part of the LaserPerformance World Open is the fact that there was an identical event taking place in the U.K., hosted by LaserPerformance Europe. At the conclusion of racing in both countries, class winners' results were entered into a scoring matrix, the same one used at Cowes Week, to determine an overall world open winner.

U.S. Laser Radial winner Eliza Richartz came away with the third-place prize, second place went to Ross McFarlane of the U.K. Laser 4.7 class, and the 2010 LaserPerformance world open winner was Nick Valente, winner of the US Sunfish Class.

Junior women's double-handed champions crowned

Shifty winds posed challenges for the 40 teams competing at the U.S. Junior women's double-handed championship during the late June event's final day of racing. It was a gorgeous day on Hingham (Mass.) Bay as the girls battled for the rights to claim the Ida Lewis Trophy.

At the end of the late-June regatta, the Mission Bay Yacht Club team of Kate Rackelly of Carlsbad, Calif. and Colleen Hackett of El Cajon, Calif., prevailed with another impressive showing. The California duo stayed on pace and held their lead by posting a bullet in Race 8. They secured the win by finishing third in Race 9, the final race of the championship. Rackelly and Hackett won by a seven-point margin and tallied 22 points through nine races. During the final seven races of the event, they never finished a race lower than third.

"We really did our homework," says Rakelly. "Before the races, we looked at wind and current to create a plan."

Runners-up, Erin Mullins of East Greenwich, R.I., and Erica Lush of Jamestown, R.I., put up a serious fight over the final two days of the championship. They won Race 9 and finished third in Race 8. The Rhode Islanders didn't finish below third over the final four races of the event. Finishing third was the hard-charging team of Holly Tullo of Staten Island, N.Y., and Haley Fox of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who posted a pair of fourth place finishes on the final day.

Vela Veloce named NYYC overall winner

After four days of racing in a variety of conditions across a mix of around-the-buoys and distance, New York Yacht Club's seventh biennial Race Week at Newport named the Southern Cross 52 Vela Veloce its overall champion.

Light winds threatened to cancel the last day of racing for the 35 competing boats, but by 2 p.m. Newport's classic southerly sea breeze filled in against a stubborn northerly and offered suitable conditions for racing.

All classes raced on a four-leg windward/leeward course and at the end of the day Vela Veloce was determined the best performing boat and was named the 2010 Rolex US-IRC national champion. Its owner and skipper, Canadian Richard Oland of St. John, New Brunswick, was presented with a specially engraved Rolex Yacht-Master at the Rolex Gala and Awards Party held at Harbour Court.

"This is a tremendous thrill for us," says Oland, who won his IRC class in March's International Rolex Regatta.

Steve Benjamin of South Norwalk, Conn., and his team onboard his Tripp 41 Robotic Oncology, which won IRC Class 3 and finished in second place overall.

"Today was great, but we were nervous because there was so much on the line," says Benjamin. "We have been trying to win with this boat for the past five years and, although we have had some success, there was all this added pressure."

Blair Brown's 55-foot Sforzando, of Padanaram, Mass., won the final race, it wasn't enough to move up in the standings, and the crew finished in third.

This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue.