Tuesday, December 28, 2010

WE MOVED TO www.vsail.info

Dear readers & friends,

This is the last post of the Valencia Sailing blog.

As of today, please change your bookmarks to


Wild Oats XI first boat to Hobart

[Source: Rolex Sydney Hobart] Bob Oatley’s champion 100-foot supermaxi Wild Oats XI has reasserted its claim as one of Australia’s greatest ocean racing yachts by being first across the Rolex Sydney Hobart finish line.

After storming to the finish at 15-19 knots of boat speed over the final miles, Wild Oats XI reached the finish line off Hobart’s historic Battery Point at 8:37pm this evening, Tuesday 28 December.

Wild Oats XI has been named the provisional line honours winner of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia organised race pending the decision of the International Jury over a protest by the Race Committee regarding their HF radio. The jury will convene at 1:00pm on Wednesday 29 December at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, the race finishing club.

Wild Oats XI, provisional line honors in the 2010 Rolex Sydney Hobart. Hobart, 28 December 2010. Photo copyright ROLEX / Daniel Foster

Wild Oats XI, from the Reichel Pugh design board, led the 87-strong field out of Sydney Harbour after the 1pm start on Sunday afternoon and held pole position for the entire 628 nautical mile race, finishing 30 nautical miles ahead of her nearest rival, Sean Langman and Anthony Bell’s supermaxi Investec Loyal, with Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban a further 51 nautical miles behind and currently in third place.

Wild Oats XI’s elapsed time was 2 days 7 hours 37 minutes 20 seconds with an average speed of a tad over 11 knots of boat speed over the challenging course.

After Neville Crichton’s 100-footer Alfa Romeo blocked Wild Oats’ quest for five straight titles last year, skipper Mark Richards vowed their race preparation would change dramatically.

This year the boat contested many more offshore races and spent significant time on the water ironing out the wrinkles and perfecting the teamwork of a crew comprising some of the biggest names in Australian and New Zealand ocean racing, and now with a staggering 220 Rolex Sydney Hobarts between them. A number of modifications were also made to the boat to improve her upwind performance.

Richards has long resented suggestions that Wild Oats XI was just a fair wind flyer. Her dominance throughout one of the toughest Rolex Sydney Hobarts in recent years should silence the sceptics once and for all.

As in previous years Wild Oats XI will only have a short stopover in Hobart, the delivery crew due to push off between 9:00am and midday tomorrow, Wednesday 29 December, as planned to return to Sydney for the annual Pittwater to Coffs ocean race which starts January 2, 2011


Monday, December 27, 2010

Vincenzo Onorato replies to Salvatore Sarno

Salvatore Sarno, owner of Team Shosholoza, the first ever America's Cup challenger to come from Africa, stated in a recent interview in the Italian newspaper Quotidiano Nazionale that the 34th America's Cup was very expensive and as a result Shosholoza wouldn't be taking part. Vincenzo Onorato, owner of Mascalzone Latino, Challenger of Record, sent Quotidiano Nazionale a letter, replying to Captain Sarno's claims. [Note: The translation from the original Italian text is mine]:

I take inspiration from the interview by Captain Sarno in your newspaper to provide my testimony on the current state of the America's Cup and the budgets the teams that will require in order to participate. Captain Sarno is obviously not informed about the latest changes in the Protocol, dating from December 12th, among which it is reported that the entry fee was lowered to US$ 100,000 instead of € 1 million. The performance bond instead of US$ 3 million dropped to US$ 1 million (200,000 by April 1, 2011 and 800,000 by December 31, 2011).

Russell Coutts (left) and Vincenzo Onorato. Rome, 6 May 2010. Photo copyright Gilles Martin-Raget / BMW Oracle

The spirit with which we acted Russell and I was to dramatically reduce costs; the proof is that for the first time in the history of the Cup, during the first two years racing will be held on one-design yachts of 45 feet. This decision was also motivated to provide time for the teams to find sponsors and funding. I have never stated the minimum budget would be € 80 million. It is plausible Captain Sarno could do the next America's Cup with Shosholoza by spending € 17 million as he stated his budget was in the 32nd edition. This is certainly not a budget to win but the Captain Sarno has demonstrated he was able to achieve more than flattering results with limited resources.

The heart of the problem is different: the world economic situation is very different from the ebullient financial markets that marked the 32nd edition. It is correct when Captain Sarno refers to "these times" as "crazy". For Russell and me this has resulted in filling, in reduced terms, the event and therefore the value of the sponsors' investments.

I would also like to remind that Mascalzone Latino's position is not different from that of the other teams. We do not have any sponsors to date, although we have some important negotiations in progress, and it is our subjective interest (to be able to participate in the event) and objective as Challenger of Record (to have many teams in the race), to keep costs as low as possible. We at Mascalzone Latino declare in all honesty that we are struggling to survive. With the same clarity I would have preferred that important teams such as Team Origin and Shosholoza, instead of using pathetic excuses related to the event format, the catamaran revolution and the budgets, to name a few examples, they limited themselves with more dignity in declaring that at this moment they had no money and no prospects for a sponsor.


Vincenzo Onorato

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Bass Strait delivers punishing conditions

[Source: Rolex Sydney Hobart] The forecast gale-force conditions made good today for the bulk of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet with yachts experiencing 40-50 knots of gale to storm-force winds from the west-southwest -- together with massive seas. The toll today was nine yachts retired, some with severe damage, but all crews were reported in good shape.

At 1542 AEDST, Ludde Ingvall’s 27-metre Yuuzoo retired from the race with structural and rigging damage. Exact details were unknown but the yacht had reached a safe port in Eden by 1800.

Within the hour of the maxi’s retirement, a string of yachts followed suit with the Sydney 38 Swish, the 46-foot Reichel/Pugh Shamrock, the Volvo 60 Southern Excellence and the Nelson Marek 52 Wot Eva abandoned the difficult race due to damage in the unbelievably rough seas and extreme wind conditions.

Nick Athineos’ Dodo headed to Eden to drop off an injured crewman who had sustained a broken arm, but was not retiring. Crew onboard the yacht recorded gusts of 45-50 knots.

Niklas Zennström's RAN. Photo copyright ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi

Martin Power’s 44-footer Bacardi snapped its mast 35-nautical miles east of Batemans Bay, midway down the Australian New South Wales coast. “Search and rescue options and assets are being arranged as I speak, if needed,” reported Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Commodore Gary Linacre, who had just arrived in Hobart.

At 1820, Rob Reynolds’ 14-meter yacht Exile sustained steering damage and retired. Shortly after, Jim Cooney’s supermaxi and pride of Australia, Brindabella, dropped out after suffering damage to her mainsail in the severe conditions. At 1905, Jarod Ritchie’s Beneteau 57 Alchemy III was out with damage to their boom and was headed to Sydney.

Earlier, via an 1830 phone interview (listen here) with Ian Burns onboard Wild Oats XI, race favourite and current line honours leader, reported from the treacherous Strait, “There’s still quite a messy seaway leftover from that earlier blow we had. But things are finally settling down. In a couple hours we should be in flatter seas, and probably 10 -15 knots (of wind).”

He continued, “This morning around Gabo Island, it was pretty arduous going, very hard to slow the boat down enough to keep it in one piece. We had to get down to very, very small sails and work at keeping the boat slow, so we weren’t crashing off the tops of waves too much – it was pretty rough going. We had many gusts up to 40 knots, and when it gets that windy in Bass Strait, you’ve got a bit on.”

“The crew have done a fantastic job. It’s a pleasure to watch. In pretty trying conditions up on the foredeck, often pitching two to four feet underwater. The guys are up there are hanging on to sails and getting them up and down, without a murmur of a problem.” Burns concluded, “The crews are really settled into it now, the second half of the race is really getting starting now.”

The forecast for tonight is for winds west to south-westerly at 25 to 35 knots and locally reaching 40 knots in the east then moderating to 20 to 25 knots later in the night overnight, with squalls, associated showers and big seas. Seas are expected to abate overnight, down to 2 - 3 metres later in the evening.

Current overall handicap race leader is Stephen Ainsworth’s 63-footer Loki, currently 80 miles southeast of Gabo Island.

The remaining intrepid Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet continues battling it’s way to Hobart. The remaining 77 boats include six international entries from the USA, UK, Italy, France, as well as two partly crewed Russian boats, and entries from seven of the eight Australian states and territories.

Wild Oats XI, overall leader. Photo copyright ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Video: Ludde Ingvall talks about the Australian challenge in the 34th America's Cup

Ludde Ingvall and Dario Valenza, respectively skipper and project manager of YuuZoo Big Boat Racing, talk about the Australian challenge they submitted for the 34th America's Cup. Despite its length, the video is quite interesting because it allows to see the logic behind the Australian challenge. According to Ingvall we should consider that this challenge has been practically accepted, even if the project lacks any funding. It is surprising that they decide to enter the America's Cup and then start looking for the necessary funds to compete and not the other way round.

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Video: Dramatic scenes at the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart

Wild Oats XI leads fleet out of Sydney Harbour

[Source: Rolex Sydney Hobart] The Mark Richards skippered 100 footer, Wild Oats XI, shrugged off a cheeky challenge from Grant Wharington’s Melbourne 98 footer, Wild Thing, to stamp its mark early on the Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours battle.

Despite forecasts that this will be one of the toughest Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Races in years, the 87 strong fleet started in remarkably mild conditions on a flat Sydney Harbour at 1pm today in an 11 knot west-nor-westerly breeze.

Both start lines reported clean starts as nearly 1000 competitors began the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Aussie yachting classic under overcast skies in a light wind that produced a colourful spinnaker procession out of the Harbour before the fleet turned at the seaward mark to point south towards Hobart.

On the eastern side of the front start line, reserved for the largest boats, Grant Wharington staged a nail-biting and brilliant start with just seconds to spare at the helm of Wild Thing. The 100 footers, Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI and Sean Langman and Anthony Bell’s Investec Loyal squared off on the western side, while Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki timed things perfectly about a third of the way down the tightly congested line.

Wild Oats XI leads the fleet. Sydney, 26 December 2010. Photo copyright ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi

As Wild Oats XI and Investec Loyal sprinted down the western harbour shore, Wild Thing steamed along the eastern shore in better pressure past Vaucluse and Watsons Bay.

Wild Oats XI won the sprint to the sea mark, 13 minutes 48 seconds into the race despite trailing her jib briefly in the water as she changed to her light Code Zero sail minutes after the start. Once she turned seaward, Wild Oats’ Code Zero made way for a giant spinnaker as the four-time line honours winner gybed to find the shortest route to the seaward mark.
Two boat lengths behind Wild Oats XI, Wild Thing and Investec Loyal converged on the harbour mark, Wild Thing squeezing her rival out as she slipped inside.

Investec Loyal immediately headed towards South Head and Wild Thing held her course toward the north, looking for the pressure advantage they needed to have any chance of mowing down the leader in these flat conditions.

The gamble didn’t paid off for Wharington, who also had an incident with a media boat just inside South Head, and by the time Wild Oats XI was at the sea mark, the point at which the impressive fleet converged and gave chase and turned the sea into boiling whitewater, the thoroughbred had opened a handy break on her line honours rivals.

The last boat to leisurely leave Sydney Harbour was the Italian entry Onelife, one of two entries in the Cruising Division.

Sometime this evening the fleet will encounter a southerly change of 15 to 20 knots accompanied by scattered thunderstorms.

RAN at the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Sydney, 26 December 2010. Photo copyright ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Captain Sarno: This America's Cup is very expensive; Shosholoza will not take part

An unknown outside South Africa, Captain Sarno became a household name in the sailing world when he built from scratch Shosholoza, the first ever America's Cup challenger from Africa. An Italian by birth but a fervent South African at heart, Captain Sarno showed the world what the new South Africa was able to do by entering the world's oldest sports trophy competition and managing to have a decent performance despite being absolute beginners with a relatively low budget.

Sarno spoke to the Italian newspaper "Quotidiano Nazionale" about Shosholoza, the America's Cup and why there won't be any South African entry in this edition:

What is happening? Do you ever get stopped by sailing fans that want to ask you about Shosholoza? Can you tell us what they tell you?

"Well, it happens much more often than I would have ever imagined. Shosholoza has remained alive in the minds of sailing fans because everybody could have been in the role of one of my guys. I'm asked whether we'll take part in the next America's Cup and I reply it will be very difficult. Many people want to know what my guys are doing and they are not surprised to learn that almost all of them went back to their original jobs."

Let's step back a few years. How was Shosholoza born?

"Shosholoza was a dream and now it's a reality."

How do you make a dream come true?

"It costs tremendous stress. My son who is an excellent surgeon has always told me there two types of stress: the good one and the bad one. The good one is a product of work you like and projects like Shosholoza: something that tires you but doesn't make you sick. The bad one is produced by people's wickedness but also form work that you don't like. One can fall ill and have his health deteriorate, just like it happened to me due to the wickedness after Shosholoza. I have always been a dreamer, just like the song of Peppino di Capri. As a child, at my home in Nocera, I used to climb the mountain to see a glimpse of the sea, and dreamed of conquering it, one day, sooner or later. I have never stopped, I have always believed in it and in every thing I have done I have always put all my effort and above all my passion."

Is there a secret in all that?

"The secret is simple and complex: you really have to believe in your dream, even if it's a big one; never re-dimension it or settle with anything less. Of course you need a thorough analysis of a project but the most important ingredient is passion and that strange thing you feel in your chest when you think about it, that thing called "feeling" in English. Having that thing you are able to transmit the passion to the rest of people, those that have to follow you and, above all, those that have to finance you. I can guarantee you that people can see if there is true passion."

So, we now come to Shosholoza. When did the adventure really start?

"In the moment I started having a crew of black guys, in 2001. I thought it would be possible to show the world that in the new South Africa, blacks and whites could achieve something good working together, and what stage could be better than the America's Cup? That's when I talked to my sons and wife."

What was the first real step towards the Cup?

"Surely the name. I would have liked to use "Madiba” which is how black people called Mandela, but then I thought someone would insinuate that I wanted to use Mandela, and I profoundly love and respect him to let somebody insinuate something like that. This is why I chose Shosholoza, which is a hymn to team work, just what we wanted."

Professionalism at the highest level, no set working hours and always a thousand unexpected things around the corner. How does the table of sailing's giants look like?

"It's much easier than you think and in any case much easier than my normal job that is full of uncertainties and difficulties of any kind."

And now, that everything seems to have changed with the new catamarans, what will happen to the dear old America's Cup?

"(The expression on Sarno's face becomes dark) It's not a beautiful thing… Larry Ellison has let Coutts do everything, and I think the result is absolutely catastrophic. Aside from the spectacular yachts they wanted to go too far with the evolution. The 90-foot yachts proposed by Alinghi would have provided the same spectacle and would have cost less."

Mascalzone Latino as Challenger of Record?

"Onorato has accepted too many of Russell Coutts' ideas. He offends the intelligence of all Italian sportsmen when he states, in agreement with Coutts, that costs have been reduced and then goes on to say that you need a budget of 80 million euros. By increasing the entry fee to one million and the performance bond to two, they wanted to restrict the number of possible participants. Team Origin and the Germans have stated that a challenge costs much more than the 25 million many have budgeted (including ourselves at Shosholoza). Even if one appreciates the sportsmanship, it seems ridiculous to me that a team has to go to New Zealand to do more or less a sailing course, in order to then think about beating the teachers. Everybody should know that in the previous edition, the French, the Germans, the Chinese and the Swedish had a real budget of 25 million, +39 was at around 20, the New Zealanders at 35 and ourselves at 17. You now need 3 million just to start and then go to New Zealand to train on the fixed-wing catamaran. In short, as stated by the organizers themselves, you need between 40 and 70 million for 3 years: Crazy in these times!"

What will the next America's Cup look like? Putting aside the last strange challenge, can it be better than the 32nd where Shosholoza took part?

"The 32nd America's Cup will go down to history as the most beautiful sailing competition ever. I will never forget Trapani. We will never repeat a similar number of visitor and a similar enthusiasm. The Acts provided that extra thing to the final competition. Without any doubt the next Cup will be spectacular and the yachts (I can't say how many, 4 or maybe 5?) will give a nice show but it won't be match racing. A sort of Formula 1, perhaps that, but is the public ready for such a drastic change? Probably we will need some more time and in any case I hope that at the end, sailing, with or without a fixed wing, will continue to amaze."

However, will a new African challenge be possible again?

"Certainly yes, but not in this edition. The world is still in crisis and the way I see it, mobile phones can only sponsor one or two boats each time..."

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BMW pulls out of Oracle Racing

[Source: BMW Oracle] At the end of the year BMW will bring to a close its longstanding partnership with ORACLE Racing and thereby end its involvement in the America's Cup. This is by mutual agreement of both partners. Both parties set ambitious goals and achieved the ultimate objective: winning the America's Cup.

BMW has partnered BMW ORACLE Racing since 2002. Technology and skills have transferred freely between the automaker and sailing team, most notably in the fields of structural engineering and high-modulus composite construction. The result was celebrated in the February when the yacht USA 17, the fastest yacht in the history of the America’s Cup, won the 33rd Match with a resounding 2:0 victory off Valencia, Spain.

"On the design and engineering front, BMW engineers set new benchmarks in terms of intelligent lightweight design," said Ralf Hussmann, General Manager BMW Sports Marketing and Brand Cooperation. "In winning the 33rd America’s Cup, we achieved all of our ambitious goals. We will continue to be involved in the sport on a national level."

"The America’s Cup combines a technological challenge with a sporting one and success is measured by the result on the race course,” added Russell Coutts CEO of BMW ORACLE Racing.

No more BMW in BMW Oracle Racing as of January 1st, 2011. Photo copyright Gilles Martin-Raget

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Australian Syndicate Submits Notice of Challenge for the America's Cup

[Source: YuuZoo Big Boat Racing Team] Today a Syndicate of Australians including legendary yachtsman Ludde Ingvall, skipper of the YuuZoo Big Boat Racing Team, has submitted a Notice of Challenge to the defending Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco. The Syndicate aims to bring together nationwide resources and skills in a true people's challenge. Lodging the application reserves a place for Australia to return to competition for the world's oldest international sporting trophy.

Ludde Ingvall: "Excellence in youth sailing is my objective. We want to bring home the many talented Australians sailing for other countries and give them a chance to compete for their country. We want to create a legacy for future generations, something to aspire to, a reason for any Australian youngster to get out there and take part in our wonderful sport of sailing at all levels."

Project manager Dario Valenza: "Bringing an event to Australia would rival Oprah's visit in tourism value as well as boosting Australia's marine industry."

Ludde Ingvall, skipper of YuuZoo at the 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Photo copyright ROLEX / Kurt Arrigo

Syndicate member and multi hull expert Peter Baker: "Australia has been the challenger at seven and the defender at one of the 33 America's Cup events so far and has sought to challenge on three other occasions. Australia has provided America's Cup teams worldwide with more members than any other nation in modern times. We want to bring them home. The last America's Cup was won for the USA by an Australian skipper on a boat designed by an Australian racing against another boat designed by an Australian for a Swiss team. Yet Australia has been out of the game for 13 years."

YuuZoo Co Founder Ron Creevey says: "We are delighted and excited about partnering with the Big Boat Racing Team to work on the feasibility for the Australian America's Cup entry. Personally I would like to call on other Australian corporations and individuals to get behind the idea and bring the America's Cup back to Australia. We have watched the cream of Australian talent such as James Spithill and Adam Beashel compete for many countries over the past 20 years and it will be extremely satisfying for YuuZoo to be involved by providing the platform for talented Australians to represent our country."

"The best sailors on the fastest boats" - The F1 of sailing. This is the new format America's Cup: a level playing field where giant, faster than the wind, 22 metre catamarans powered by 40 metre rigid wings fly on the edge of control with one hull in the water and the other metres above. The furious action takes place in locations across the globe including Australia. On courses which are chosen as natural amphitheatres, close to shore where spectators can almost reach out and touch the amazing machines dueling in short races in rapid succession.

An independently managed, ongoing Annual World Tour is planned and part of the Syndicate's strategy is to stage events in Australia.

YuuZoo racing at the 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Photo copyright ROLEX / Kurt Arrigo

The new boats will test strength and finesse, require nerves of steel and super fast reflexes. Skills required in all sailing but honed to perfection in the giant AC72 yachts. The new Australian Syndicate wants to bring AC Supporters together in giving young, talented Australian sailors the chance to step up and shine on the world stage.

Ludde Ingvall: "We want to get everyone working together to make possible a true people's challenge for the benefit of all Australians. The new format America's Cup is a once in a lifetime chance to jump to the front of a sporting and technological revolution. Being part of the America's Cup also means bringing races to Australia, fantastic for tourism and the chance for Australian fans to see their team in action. Our aim is to engage the Australian public, corporate Australia and Australian sailing institutions such as yacht clubs and associations. We are undertaking due diligence with well respected business advisors reporting on the economic impact of taking part in what is the third largest sporting event in the world."

The Syndicate is seeking the advice of the sailing community through an Advisory Panel, seeking the support of the Australian public through a Supporters Club and the support of the Australian Government through both Sport and Tourism Authorities. "Most importantly we need the support of the whole Australian sailing community," said Ludde Ingvall.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Valencia Sailing comes to an end and moves ahead

Dear friends & readers,

After nearly six years online, the Valencia Sailing blog is about to sign off. I started it in March 2005 as a test to see whether anyone would be interested in having weekly updates from the construction of the America's Cup Port in Valencia and the activities of the teams and, I hope, it now has reached a point where it became a reliable source of daily sailing news from around the world. Well, it is now time to close this chapter and move ahead.

To start with, the name of the site doesn't make any sense any longer. As you most probably have seen from my photos on Monday, BMW Oracle is definitely leaving its Valencia base in a week and Valencia will cease to have the importance it once had in the sport of sailing. It will in fact become just like any other Mediterranean city, most probably holding one or two main regattas each summer. Even if the city goes ahead with its plan to tear down most of the bases, the infrastructure in place will make it easy to host an RC44 or AUDI Medcup event. However, this will never come close, even remotely, to holding two consecutive America's Cups.

I took this opportunity to make some radical changes. First of all, Valencia Sailing will change its name. I still haven't decided and I have a handful of names in mind but all of them will be redirected to the final name. Most probably, the new website will be called vsail.info.

Secondly, the site will no longer be a blog. It will move to a "normal" news website format will all the bells and whistles you would expect from it. In fact there is a demo already online and I would appreciate if you checked it and gave any kind of feedback you thought appropriate. It's not yet the final version but it won't be radically different.

Click here for a preview of the new version

News Sections
As you can see from the demo website, there is a new navigation bar that has all the news separated in sections. The broader categories will have sub categories, for example the offshore category is divided into the Barcelona World Race, Vendée Globe etc. The America's Cup category is divided in three subcategories (32nd, 33rd, 34th) and most probably the 34th America's Cup will further be divided to news according to each team. The same will apply to the Volvo Ocean Race. As a result, if your interest is just the news on Artemis in this edition of the Cup, you can have a dedicated page.

Featured News
Right under the navigation menu, you have the 5 latest Featured News, the 5 most important news but not necessarily the latest. For example, when BMW Oracle announce the venue of the 34th America's Cup, such an important information could remain in the featured news section for one or two days.

Latest News
Right beneath the Featured News you have the Latest News, providing the latest 6 articles, in strict chronological order.

Recent Videos
This is a brand new section and I hope it will be an easy and practical way to have the latest 5 videos right in front of you without the need to leave the front page. All you have to do is click on the title of the video and it will automatically switch.

One of the reasons that also made the change necessary were the inherent limitations in advertizing placements of the blog format. The new website now offers new technologies for advertizing campaigns that can have a great impact such as the ones Gillette and Braun are using in various major websites. Send us an email to learn how you can take advantage of the new technologies.

Transition period
Please bear for a week until the new site is fully functional. My aim is to switch it on the eve of the Barcelona World Race start, on December 30.