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It's hard to believe that the summer sailing season is coming to a close. The weather gods have provided great sailing on Manhasset Bay and Long Island Sound the past few weeks, making it especially difficult to give up wanting to take an afternoon sail. But with the fall season upon us, and colder weather around the corner, sailors are busy hauling their boats and preparing them for winter storage. Soon the bay will be empty of boats with their masts marking the horizon, and a quiet will descend on local waters. Such is the rhythm of the sailing season. In just a few weeks, on Sunday, November 4, the frostbiting season will begin, considered by many the best sailing of all.

The results of the final standings of the Sonar Fleet have become available. The top winners in the Championship Series: 1. Sounder, #652, Rick Jordan/Jeff Shane, 2. Delight, #396, Bob Kirtland, 3. Ping, #451, Sue Miller/John Browning, 4. Weekend Warrior, #421, Bill Simon/Dan Simon, and 5. Lark, #436, Bill Brakman. The results in the Saturday Series: 1. Sounder, 2. Ping, 3. Delight, 4. Weekend Warrior, and 5. Lark. The Sunday Series: 1. Housemartin, #375, Greg and Beth Danilek, 2. Sounder, 3. Delight, 4. Ping, and 5. Weekend Warrior. The Handicap Series results: 1. Elusive, #316, Ed King, 2. Free Spirit, #96, Herb Schmidt, 3. Tzuris, #368, Stanley Rosenberg, and 4. Laurie B, #356, Bob Baskind. Bob Kirtland won the Tune-up Series. Winners of the Singlehanded Race: 1. Rick Jordan on Sounder, 2. Bill Simon on Weekend Warrior, and 3. John Browning on Ping. Crew Race Results: Allen Thompson won the first crew race on #396, Delight; Stephanie Baas won crew race #2 and #4 on Ping; and Cindy Jordan won crew race #3 on Sounder, #652.

Virgin Island Peter Holmberg sailing for San Francisco's Oracle Racing Team challenge for the America's Cup beat Kiwi skipper Gavin Brady from Italy's Prada Challenge in three straight races to win the Colorcraft Gold Cup on Hamilton Harbor. It was the first time Holmberg has won the trophy. Paul Cayard, Director of Sailing for Oracle, raced as bow man and tactician for Holmberg and between them they demolished the young New Zealander and his crew. Holmberg, who has been on top of his game all week, raced masterfully before a big spectator fleet off the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. The club is organizer of the event, which is the third in this year's eight-event Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour. In the Petit Final to decide third and four place, American skipper Ed Baird defeated Sweden's Magnus Holmberg 2-0. Four skippers in the top 8 finishers were here in Manhasset Bay in August for the Knickerbocker Cup: Ed Baird, Jes Gram-Hansen, Morten Henriksen and Ken Read. The Colorcraft Gold Cup final standings: 1. Peter Holmberg (USA/Oracle Racing) $20,000; 2. Gavin Brady (ITA/Prada Challenge) $12,000; 3. Ed Baird (USA/Team XL Capital) $7,000; 4. Magnus Holmberg (SWE/Team Stora Enso) $5,800; 5. Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN/Team Marienlyst) $4,500; 6. Morten Henriksen (GER/illbruck Challenge) $4,100; 7. Peter Bromby (BER/Team Bacardi) $3,650; and 8. Ken Read (USA/Team Stars & Stripes) $3,300. For more information: Event site: http://www.bermudagoldcup.com, and the Swedish Match Tour: http://www.swedishmatchgp.com.

The Volvo Ocean Race, previously known as the Whitbread Around the World Race, began as a conversation between sailors who in 1971, who, while downing a few pints at the local pub, thought of staging the ultimate race around the world -- a trip of nearly 27,000 miles. It would be a race that pushed the endurance of the crews and boats to the outer limits as they navigated sweltering Doldrums, freezing oceans filled with icebergs, and gales that blew unabated for weeks on end -- a race that would be considered the Mt. Everest of ocean racing. Such a race, if it could be arranged, would have no equal in sports. No other competition would ask so much of both man and equipment. No other event would put so many competitors at such risk, for so long, so far from help. To put their idea in perspective, at the time, fewer than ten private yachts had rounded Cape Horn - in one piece. Moreover such a race had already been tried, and had ended badly- The Golden Globe Race sponsored by The Sunday Times of London, and only one boat out of eight finished - the others either gave up after near catastrophic equipment failures, capsized, or sank. These were not the sorts of events race sponsors were eager to have associated with their names. However, these brave racers had blazed a trail for 'round the world sailors, providing an inspiration to others. By mid-1973, the first Whitbread Round The World Race was ready to begin. On 8 September, 17 boats, carrying 167 crewmembers hoisted sails, and jockeyed to the starting line in Portsmouth Harbour. With the shot of a simple starting pistol, the first Whitbread began.

Fast forward to October, 2001. The Whitbread is now called the Volvo Ocean Race, but it still remains the ultimate sailing challenge. Four weeks ago, the start of the race was described as looking like the running of the bulls at Pamploma, as the challengers, who set their asymmetrical spinnakers in 15 knots of wind, soon blowing 25 knots, were on a race course with 400 spectator craft who, within two minutes of the start, were jockeying to get a good look at the competitors. As the wind increased so did boat speed. Illbruck's speed ranged from 11.8 to 18.6 knots. Dalton emerged as the leader although his reacher halyard was jammed for four minutes. Both Assa Abloy and Amer Sport Too blew out spinnakers in the first 30 minutes. As of Oct. 21, it is as little as three days until the first V.O. 60 crosses Table Bay and finally arrives in Cape Town. However, it could also be another week before the last boat arrives at the "Tavern of the Seas". The crew have endured food shortages, cold and wet weather and other vagaries that ocean racing presents. Parents who have attempted a vacation by car with small children can identify with the lament from back seat, "are we nearly there yet?" It appears this plea is not confined to car trips, and not as age-specific as one would tend to believe. For the crews on Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One and John Kostecki's Illbruck Challenge have only recently replaced their tales of woe from the 'backseat' with a complete focus on the job in hand. "Things have been somewhat quieter below as we push the boat as hard as possible," commented Jamie Gale onboard Illbruck. No longer do the leaders worry about food and fuel supplies. It is a match race that, going by the last four weeks of racing, will be taken to the wire. At present illbruck are taking miles out of leader Amer Sports One and have closed to within just 15 miles. All 97 competitors from 16 countries are remembering that Paul Cayard on EF Language won the start in 1997 and went on to win leg one and the Whitbread Race. In fact, the team that has won the first leg in the past has won the race six times. The competition will be fierce right to the finish line. Tune in to ESPN 2 on Sunday, Nov. 4, at 6 pm for highlights of Leg 1. Positions as of 1600 hrs GMT Oct. 21 (Boat - Distance to Finish - Distance to Leader): 1. Amer Sport One - 1734 - 0; 2. Illbruck - 1774 - 32; 3. News Corp - 1827 - 263; 4. Tyco - 1922 - 367; 5. ASSA ABLOY - 2003 - 461; Team SEB - 2245 - 817; 7. djuice dragons - 2248 - 820; and 8. Amer Sports Two - 2250 - 855. For more information: http://www.volvooceanrace.org


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