Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mercado De Fuencarral opens in Valencia!


I know, you'll be saying that there are quite enough shops and shopping centres in town already, but this latest is well worth a visit. At the top end of the Río Túria towards the new Parque Cabacera is the sparking MDF (Mercado De Fuencarral), two floors of designer stores and a floor of food, drink and entertainment, and topped by a floor of multiplex cinemas showing a great regular selection of movies in Original Version (VOS).

Valencia is now the new site for this great concept which originated in Madrid, International designer names like Adidas, Camper, Chevignon, Pepe Jeans, Puma and Mango Accessories are to be found alongside lesser known but equally as interesting shops selling everything from jewellery to clothes to works of art and luxury foods and drink.

There are great places to eat and drink too, with free wifi and a DJ on hand all through the day and late into the night playing your favourite sounds. The Sofa Club is the heart of Fuencarral a place to sit and relax and take a coffee or a cocktail or catch a concert or your favourite dj. There is also Laydown, a restaurant where you do just that, serving food and drink all day and dinner shows too. Pepita, a bar restaurant serving great food and drink. Propaganda Cafè, serves great shakes and smoothies and the best burger in town. Opera Prima have two locations serving great refreshments and there is Waqas Döner Kebab.

It will come as no surprise that Fuencarral is the place to be on New year's Eve!

Mercado de Fuencarral | C/ Tirso de Molina 16 | 46015 | Valencia | Spain

Monday, December 29, 2008

A flat for sale in the heart of the city of Valencia

Here is a great opportunity to buy a lovely flat just off the Cathedral Square in the heart of the historic centre of Valencia. This is a three bedroom, first floor flat in a pedestrian street close to the Plaza de la Virgen. The photos do not do this flat justice! It has three good sized bedrooms, large lounge, kitchen and nice bathroom. The unique thing about this flat is that it has a central courtyard which gives the flat a lot of light(and adds a lot of space too!) only 200,000 euros or near offer!

The FIB Heineken 09 Line-up Starts to Take Shape

Franz Ferdinand, Kings of Leon and Paul Weller are the first confirmed names for the line-up of the most exciting and excellent summer music festival in Spain. This is going to be a line-up that you definitely do not want to miss!
Here's a reminder that 4-day tickets are on sale at a special launch price of ₤140 until January 15th. Tickets include free camping between the 13th and 21st July.
For more information go to tickets.fiberfib.com

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Americas Cup Delayed Again

The future of the America’s Cup once more rests with the lawyers following the failure of Team Alinghi to provide the documents requested by BMW Oracle.

In notifying Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) of the decision, Marcus Young, Commodore of Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) said: “Over the past 17 months, we have made a number of constructive suggestions to resolve the dispute outside of court and get the America’s Cup back on track. Yet SNG and your defense apparatus have consistently refused to negotiate with us in good faith.”

Alinghi’s response was: “Yesterday's announcement by BMW Oracle and Golden Gate Yacht Club is not a surprise as they have never shown any interest in joining the competition alongside the 14 teams, currently officially entered. Instead, at every turn, they have chosen to insist on pursuing their selfish legal strategy.”

The next, and final, court hearing commences on 10 February 2009 in the New York Supreme Court of Appeal. Meanwhile, Ernesto Bertarelli’s attempts to stage a pre-America’s Cup regatta here in Valencia next June are looking decidedly shaky.

The Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, which starts in Auckland on 31 January, will put a serious dent in the budgets of those teams who have already entered. Other, newer teams will struggle for sponsorship money until a court decision is handed down; probably sometime in April. This will leave little time to get their teams up to speed and many will prefer to conserve their resources for the main event, whenever and wherever that might be.

It is impossible to predict which way the final Appeal Court decision will go but it seems probable that the delay will make a 2010 America’s Cup series look very doubtful. The best we can hope for, if BMW Oracle win their appeal, is for a spectacular ‘Deed of Gift’ series in 90ft catamarans. But it will be nothing compared to what we witnessed here in Valencia last year during the 32nd ACC Series.

Mike O’Neill

Monday, December 08, 2008

America’s Cup Dealine Approaches

The two open letters below, one from AYRE Challenge and the reply from Russell Coutts of BMW Oracle, seem to show a closing of the chasm between Ernesto Bertarelli of Team Alinghi and Larry Ellison of BMW Oracle.

The documents referred to by Coutts are critical to the reaching of an amicable settlement of this long and expensive war between two of the richest men in the world. Bertarelli’s original plans for the 33rd AC Challenge were unacceptable to Ellison and to many other teams. In an effort to overcome the resulting 15 month stalemate, Bertarelli organized meetings in Geneva with other challengers which resulted in these plans being significantly revised. Team BMW Oracle were not at these meetings and their own suggestions for avoiding further court action were ignored. Bertarelli has declared a deadline of 15 December for entries and Coutts has requested copies of the proposed plans by 8 December, giving his team a week to study and digest the plans.

As the AYRE Challenge letter states: “The only important issue is to remedy the reasons that caused BOR’s action”.

Quite simply, if BMW Oracle receive the documents and proceed to nit-pick and prevaricate over relatively minor details, I believe they will lose the goodwill and respect of the majority who have supported their stand.

If BMW Oracle receive the documents and, following clarification of certain points, feel able to re-submit their challenge, then it seems likely that the America’s Cup will be able to proceed as planned in Valencia in 2010.

If Team Alinghi fails to provide the documents requested by 8 December, then BMW Oracle are, in my opinion, perfectly justified in pursuing their claim through the courts.

This will be very sad for all those who have had to put their lives on hold while this drama has unfolded, but it would be worse to see this 157 year old trophy brought into further disrepute.

Mike O’Neill

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Thursday, 04 December 2008- An open letter from BMW Oracle's Russell Coutts to the America's Cup Challengers

BMW ORACLE Racing CEO and Skipper Russell Coutts has replied to Ayre Challenge skipper's oppen letter with another open letter to the AC33 Challenger community. In it he says that his team is willing to consider entering AC 33 “by 15 December even though it is a totally arbitrary deadline” but he needs to see “the current drafts of the protocol, event regulations, and competition regulations.”

He adds, “If we do not receive these materials as requested – or our review of them shows there has been insufficient progress in resolving fairness issues – we will cease our 17-month effort to resolve this dispute with the Defender and other Challengers, and will rely on the New York State Court of Appeals to decide.”

Here is the full text of his letter.

Dear America’s Cup colleagues,
As you know, my colleagues and I at BMW ORACLE Racing are eager to join the Challengers for AC33 and we’ve made genuinely constructive suggestions and concessions to make that happen, including embracing ISAF’s willingness to mediate this dispute.

We share your interest in having a world-class field of Challengers for our sport’s pinnacle event, and appreciate your belief that BMW ORACLE’s participation is essential.
We are willing to consider entering the competition by 15 December even though it is a totally arbitrary deadline. However, inasmuch as we’ve been excluded to date from the discussions, we need further clarity on fundamental issues (which you say have been addressed) to meet our concerns, and those of others, about fair and competitive rules.
Specifically, we ask that you arrange to have the Defender send us by Monday, 8 December the current drafts of the protocol, event regulations, and competition regulations. This would give us a week to properly review them against our Ten Point Plan and determine our course of action before the 15 December deadline.
If we do not receive these materials as requested – or our review of them shows there has been insufficient progress in resolving fairness issues – we will cease our 17-month effort to resolve this dispute with the Defender and other Challengers, and will rely on the New York State Court of Appeals to decide.
With respect to the lawsuit, we are moving into the home stretch with a decision on our appeal expected early next year. Given the stakes involved in preserving the integrity of this great event, we do not believe a few more months presents an unreasonable delay. As we’ve said before, if we prevail, as we expect, we will work toward having a fully competitive, conventional multi-challenger regatta with fair rules in 2010.
Still, we are willing to give a settlement outside of court one last try. In the cordial, friendly spirit of your letter, I hope you will help move this process along by arranging to provide us the documents we request.
Russell Coutts
CEO and Skipper

Meanwhile in a report in El Mundo yesterday Rita Barberá, Valencia's mayoress, after a meeting with the president of Valencia's regional government, Francisco Camps, said that both are ready to close the deal for the 33rd America's Cup to be held in the city.

“Pending the judge's decision, we are both ready to close the deal as soon as possible”, Barberá stated "For us it is already mentally here." she then told journalists to ask the central government's Vice President, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, "when she comes", whether she also agrees.

“We have the will to support the celebration of the 33rd America's Cup in Valencia with all the boats and teams possible and it should take place in July 2010, with two pre-regattas in 2009 as offered by Alinghi", she concluded.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

America's Cup: An open letter from Ayre Challenge's Pedro Perello to BMW Oracle's Russell Coutts

Ayre Challenge represents the prestigious Yacht Club of Denia, one of Valencia and Spain’s most important yacht clubs. It is the second of two Spanish challengers for America's Cup 33.

Dear Russell,
The reasons that induced me to write this open letter stem from the respect I have towards you and your team.

Ayre challenged for the America’s Cup more than a year ago, hoping to take part in a competition that thanks to the excellent organization set up by ACM and the Valencian and Spanish public institutions became a world reference and example of what a global sports competition should aspire to.

The success of the 32nd edition in the summer of 2007 in Valencia surpassed all expectations and was also due to the active participation of all Teams, with BMW Oracle Racing undoubtedly being a clear example. Ayre was born because of the 32nd edition being so successful.

Unfortunately, any judicial procedure in any field causes serious setbacks to the proper development of any activity and in this particular case all teams are suffering from this eternal lawsuit that, without pointing any fingers, looking for reasons or blaming anyone, has paralyzed the 33rd edition of the Cup.

Alinghi has recently decided to get sailing back on track and reactivate the organization. They have gathered all teams that have legally entered and started a process of rebuilding the competition. I truly believe this was the correct procedure because the current situation is greatly detrimental to all involved but also to the image of the America’s Cup.

After three meetings in Geneva, all participating teams have been able to confirm Alinghi’s predisposition to carry out the necessary modifications to the Protocol, the Event and Competition Regulations, as well as the design of the new box-rule, in a completely democratic way. As a result, great advances have been achieved in a short time.

Ayre considers that at this moment we objectively have the evidence that demonstrates the change in situation. Race Officials will be selected from ISAF officials. The Protocol and the Event and Competition Regulations are being modified in a democratic way, open to all registered Challengers. We believe that going back to an exhaustive 10-point list, most of which have already been addressed, is not the most cordial way to reach an agreement. Nor is it a considerate gesture towards the teams present in the meetings.

We want to believe BMW Oracle Racing wish, as they have repeatedly stated, the return to an open competition, open to all Challengers, as soon as possible.

Ayre thinks that at this moment the only important issue is to break the current deadlock, without any accusations or analysis, without declaring winners or losers in a dispute that has hurt all parts equally. The only important issue is to remedy the reasons that caused BOR’s action, within the democratic framework Alinghi has put in place with all the teams participating in the 33rd America’s Cup. A DoG Match will irreversibly damage the possibility of having a multi-challenger edition in the near future.

As a challenger that represents the prestigious Yacht Club of Denia, one of Valencia’s and Spain’s most important yacht clubs, we think that the effort and patience shown by the Valencian and Spanish public institutions should not be wasted.

The deadline for inscription in the 33rd America’s Cup is on December the 15th. After that date, no team will be able to join. Ayre thinks that BMW Oracle Racing’s presence is essential and its absence will strongly weaken the competition. We also think that BOR has the right to participate, as long as it’s done before the deadline and within the formal framework.

Let this friendly letter be a demonstration of our admiration towards a team that through its perseverance and capacity has demonstrated that, despite suffering sports setbacks, because of its spirit of fair competition it has been able to come back and compete.

Dear Russell, the America´s Cup needs the three-time winner of the world’s oldest and most prestigious sports event, and probably the world’s best sailor, to be part of it, adding to its prestige.


Pedro Perelló

A nativity scene in Valencia Cathedral

There is a long tradition of 'Belén's' or nativity scenes in Spain. At this time of the year they can be seen all over the city and in towns and villages. Some villages hold competitions each year and there are shops devoted to the art. Christmas Markets have stalls dedicated to the models and parts for the scenes too.
Many homes have them, some on a really grand scale.
Valencia Cathedral has one for the first time in 400 years this year. It is a lovely Belén and is free to visit every day until the 6th of January. Expect queues at weekends.

Monday, November 24, 2008


American singer-songwriter Josh Rouse has been garnering a growing reputation over the past seven years with his soulful, country-tinged music. He recently left his hometown of Nashville and settled in Valencia. thisisbalencia caught up with him...

thisisvalencia: You've been on the music scene for over 10 years, recording and touring the U.S. and Europe. Your latest album 'Nashville' went international. Why do you think so many people connected with it?

Josh Rouse: Well, it's only been 7 years of touring and releasing records, but it feels like ten. All of my records have been released internationally and thus I've been playing concerts with a band or solo to support those records. I think the culmination of touring, word of mouth, press; all these things have helped in finding an audience, especially for someone like myself who is not "mainstream". The album prior to Nashville, "1972" really reached a wider audience than my previous albums. thus Nashville was well received because my fan base had grown significantly...and it was a good album as well. Hah!
read more by clicking the headline


Praying Mantis in a fig tree

Thursday, November 20, 2008

America's Cup: GGYC publishes a 10 point plan for Protocol changes

The following is a 10-point plan that articulates simple changes to the proposed Protocol for America’s Cup 33 that would address the concerns of many Challengers who want to ensure that the rules of AC33 are fair.  With the exception of #10, the plan is based on the points we negotiated with the Challengers in December last year, and reflect further concessions since offered.  Agreement to these 10 points by the Challenger community could return AC33 to the water as early as 2010.
1. Once the changes to the Applicable Rules are completed, any further changes to Applicable Rules governing AC33 shall be mutually agreed between Defender and the Challenger of Record (COR) (subject to point #2).
2. All Challenger of Record decisions, including agreeing to the ACC Rules, Event and Competition Regulations, shall be made by majority vote of the Challengers in a Challenger Commission, one vote per team, including the COR who also has one vote, except that material amendments to the Protocol, Event Regulations or Competition Regulations, once agreed and issued, can be made only by unanimous vote of Competitors.
3. The current Arbitration Panel shall be dissolved and a new Arbitration Panel shall be appointed comprised of five members; SNG and the Challenger Commission shall each appoint two members, and the other four shall select the fifth member.
4. The Defender can race in the Challenger Round Robins, Challenger Sail-Off and Challenger Secondary Series. The Defender cannot sail in the Challenger Semi Finals and Final. Larry Ellison’s letter of 17 October 2008 to Ernesto Bertarelli offered several options in this regard, which BOR stands by.
5. The “Fair Competition” clause (2.3 of the Protocol) shall be expanded to include the Officials, Sailing Jury and Arbitration Panel.
6. The Defender and Challenger of Record shall jointly appoint a Regatta Director who shall be responsible for ensuring fair races are conducted in accordance with the terms of the Protocol. The Regatta Director shall have the same powers as for the last America’s Cup (he or she appoints/manages race committee, appoints measurement committee, umpires, and other officials as needed, prepares and publishes Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions).
7. Entries from AC32 challengers shall be accepted and not thereafter disqualified provided continued compliance with the rules, and then only by the Arbitration Panel.
8. AC33 shall be held in Valencia with AC32 teams retaining their bases if they desire.  In addition, the format and Schedule to be published by ACM ahead of time and not to be altered without consent of affected Competitors.
9. Each Challenger and the Defender may be limited to building only one new boat. As a result of this change, and as consideration for allowing the Defender into the Challenger selection series, there can be no Defender selection series.
10. There shall be no restrictions on Competitors’ sponsors or any control by the Defender or ACM over Competitors’ sponsors beyond the traditional restrictions (e.g., no tobacco sponsors). Moreover, ACM shall not ambush existing team sponsors, and if ACM secures an Event sponsor that conflicts with a major sponsor of a Competitor, that Competitor shall be under no obligation to display ACM sponsor logos on its yacht, base or team gear or otherwise promote or associate with such Event sponsor.

Love the things you see on walls here in Valencia

These little signs just tickled our fancy!
Why would you be closed for Italian reasons?

A busy Weekend

The weekend of the 7-9 November was a busy one - the CNEV Regattas with for teams from the America's Cup competing fro the CNEV Trophy (read all about it by clicking the headline) then there was the Ski and Mountain show in the Riverbed and an art fair that took over two floors of bedrooms in the Hotel Astoria,

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hats and Masks - the latest thisisvalencia party

with thisisvalencia.com
Saturday 8 November 2008
From 11.30pm
at 39º27N, Marina Juan CarlosI, Port America's Cup
and we have tickets for Las Animas Puerto at crazy prices on the night!

con thisisvalencia.com
sábado 8 noviembre
a partir de las 23h30
en 39º27N, en el Puerto America's Cup
habrá entradas de Las Animas Puerto a la venta a un precio especial

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Brazilian Grand Prix

Brazilian Grand Prix
Sao Paulo
Sunday 2 November 2008

Track: 4.31 km
Laps: 71

The Race
If you have heard that this was an exciting race, you were misinformed. This Brazilian Grand Prix will go down in history as one of the all-time great Formula 1 races.

The scene was set with a young up-start who appeared on the scene just one year ago and proceeded to demolish former world champions with apparent ease. The fact that Lewis Hamilton had the World Championship within his grasp in his first year just left everyone open-mouthed. When he lost to Kimi Raikkonen in 2007, there was a feeling of relief within the Formula 1 family. This year there was no mistaking Hamilton’s intent and after several impetuous mistakes, he almost visibly became a calmer, more assured and responsible driver. He came to Sao Paulo this year with a 7 point lead over Felipe Massa, his only rival for the title.

Thunder clouds were gathering as the cars lined up and the start was postponed as the first heavy raindrops fell. The safety car was brought out as the rain eased off but, with the forecast of no further rain for 40 minutes, the cars got away just a few minutes later. Led by Massa, Jarno Trulli, Raikkonen and Hamilton, the expected drama at the first corner came from those who followed. Heikki Kovaleinen, who was supposed to protect Hamilton’s rear, was himself overtaken by both Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. David Coulthard’s last F1 race ended shortly afterwards, having been hit by Rosberg and then by Nakajima. Nelsinho Piquet’s race was also over in this first lap. The resulting carnage meant the safety car emerging until the track was cleared on lap 4. As soon as the track began to dry, Alonso and Vettel dived into the pits for a tyre change. The leaders followed but somehow Hamilton managed to lose a place and was then slowed by Adrian Suthill (Force India).

There was a belief that the Ferraris were on a 2-stop strategy for fuel but this proved to be wrong as Massa stayed out until lap 38, by which time he had pulled out over 20 seconds on Hamilton. Alonso was next to pit, followed by Raikkonen and Hamilton. Raikkonen pitted for just 5.1 seconds to get out ahead of Hamilton, who was now lying 5th. With just 14 laps remaining, cars were alerted to rain due in ten minutes. Nick Heidfeld was first to pit, followed by Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton. Massa came in but rejoined the race still in the lead. Timo Glock stayed out on dry tyres which drew him up into 4th place. As the rain got heavier, Vettel overtook Hamilton with just 3 laps to go, pushing the young Briton into 6th place and out of the championship! Hamilton tried everything to get back, but Vettel was just too quick. Coming into the final straight, the Ferrari team were on their feet cheering Massa. As Vettel and Hamilton raced through the final bend, they caught and passed Glock who was struggling on dry tyres. Massa wins the Brazilian Grand Prix but Hamilton wins the World Championship, the youngest driver to do so. Fernando Alonso drove a superb race to take second place and move up to fifth overall after a dismal first half of the season. Kimi Raikkonen was third and also moves up to third overall. Ferrari takes the Constructor’s championship once again with McLaren and BMW Sauber second and third.

What a superb end to the season!

Mike O’Neill

The top eight finishers were:
1 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
2 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
3 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari)
4 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
5 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
6 Timo Glock (Toyota)
7 Heikki Kovaleinen (McLaren)
8 Jarno Trulli (Toyota)

Top ten drivers in 2008:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 99
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 98
3 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 75
4 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 75
5 Fernando Alonso (Renault) 61
6 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 60
7 Heikki Kovaleinen (McLaren) 53
8 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso) 35
9 Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 31
10Timo Glock (Toyota) 25

Top Teams in 2008:
1 Ferrari 172
2 McLaren 151
3 BMW Sauber 135
4 Renault 80
5 Toyota 56

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Brazilian Grand Prix

Brazilian Grand Prix
Sao Paulo
Sunday 2 November 2008

Track: 4.31 km
Laps: 71

Felipe Massa stamped his authority over the Formula 1 field at Interlagos today, gaining pole position for the third successive year. Alongside him is Jarno Trulli (Toyota) who planned carefully for this final GP of the season. Two days ago he was in bed with ‘flu. But today he conserved his tyres and then went for it; later saying:”this shows the progress we have made this season. Now we hope to finish on a high." Kimi Raikkonen claimed third spot ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who has to finish in the top five if Massa wins, otherwise he will forfeit the Championship that so nearly was his last year. Heikki Kovaleinen (5th) will have to be ‘rear gunner’ with a vengeance tomorrow if he is to keep Fernando Alonso (6th) from harassing his former team-mate. Sebastian Vettel is seventh, just ahead of Nick Heidfeld. Sebastian Bourdais is ninth, with Timo Glock tenth.

A real surprise is that Robert Kubica, lying third overall in the championship could only manage thirteenth due to problems with grip.

This will be the final Grand Prix race for David Coulthard (37), who starts 14th on the grid. We wish him well for tomorrow’s race and for whatever plans he has for the future.

The forecast? There is a threat of thunderstorms during the race which starts at 14.00 and can be seen (in Catalan) on TV3. A repeat is usually shown on CH33 at 22.00.

The grid line-up:
1 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
2 Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
3 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 57
4 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
5 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
6 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
7 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
8 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW)
9 Sebastian Bourdais (Toro Rosso)
10 Timo Glock (Toyota)

Top six after 17 races:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 94
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 87
3 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 75
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 69
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 60
6 Fernando Alonso (Renault) 53

Mike O’Neill

Sunday, October 26, 2008

America’s Cup Latest 26 October 2008

Well, it appears that Team Alinghi’s announcement that they are “taking the necessary steps to get the 33rd America’s Cup back on track”, failed to acknowledge the conciliatory proposals put forward by Larry Ellisson of Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) in his 17 October letter to Ernesto Bertarelli of Société Nautique de Genève (SNG).

In essence, the letter comes down to nine points:

1 GGYC support plans to up-date AC regatta to extent possible under current Deed of Gift.

2 Agrees some SNG proposals to update have merit but should not be implemented without serious consideration and then only after consultation with ‘the important stakeholders’ [presumably Trustees, recent challengers and prospective challengers]

3 GGYC agrees to end legal action if SNG agree to run 33rd Challenge with similar rules to 2007 event.

4 Strongly supports a one boat per team to help cut costs, provided there is a return to similar rules to 2007 event.

5 GGYC not in favour of Defending team (Alinghi) being able to join in Challenger Selection Series as this risks diluting the ‘impact and suspense of an America’s Cup match’.

6 GGYC would be in favour of 5 if ‘points earned during the CSS against the eventual challenger are applied to the America’s Cup Match’ or

7 GGYC would be in favour of 5 if ‘the races involving the Defender do not score (or lose) points for any Challenger vis-à-vis the other Challengers in the selection series.

8 GGYC believes selection of the new type of yacht should be decided in consultation with all interested parties. Alternatively, retain the existing design for one more Match as this would be the cheapest route.

9 GGYC agrees 2010 would be a good target date for the next Cup series.

Note to Points 5, 6 & 7: GGYC are saying they accept that a one-boat campaign (to reduce costs) means that the Defender (Team Alinghi) would be at a disadvantage in not being able to race-tune effectively. It is only for this reason they would agree that, for the first time in the Cup’s 157 year history, the Defender be allowed to tune up against the potential Challengers.

What GGYC do not accept is that these ‘tune-up’ races should be allowed to build up points for the eventual Challenger as in previous Selection Series, since the Defender could potentially influence the results and therefore the eventual outcome of the Series.

This two-page letter suggests the two opposing teams are very close to having the same goals and yet, from Team Alinghi’s announcement just six days later, it seems that once again, doubt and indecision could find us waiting for a New York court’s ‘final’ decision in the New Year.
Mike O’Neill

Friday, October 24, 2008

America's Cup Latest

America’s Cup Latest

As autumn takes hold here in Valencia, there comes just a glimmer of hope for an end to the 16-month long dispute between cupholders Team Alinghi and would-be challengers BMW Oracle.

Team Alinghi and their yacht club, Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) have announced that they are “taking the necessary steps to get the 33rd America’s Cup back on track” along with their chosen Challenger of Record, Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV) “and all challengers keen to join the competition.”

The announcement comes just weeks after Ernesto Bertarelli of Alinghi met with Larry Ellisson of BMW Oracle in San Francisco. Whether some form of agreement was reached has not yet been disclosed. However, it cannot have been a coincidence that Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), Ellisson’s club, offered to end its court action immediately if SNG agreed to hold: “a conventional, multiple challenger regatta under rules similar to those that governed the event in 2007.”

A decision from the New York Supreme Court of Appeal is still awaited. For BMW Oracle to be a party to SNG’s proposal would require them to drop their legal action which disputed the validity of CNEV as the Challenger of Record. Considering the vast sums of money expended by both parties in this monumental legal wrangle, it seems unlikely that Ellisson would forego the opportunity to reverse the June decision without some fairly substantial say in the procedure leading up to the proposed regatta.

Rules for the 33rd America’s Cup would be “discussed and accepted by all those joining the competition”. If agreement can be reached by the 15 December closing date for entries, it is planned that the Cup matches would take place in Valencia (subject to final negotiations with the Spanish authorities) in 2010. Racing would be in a new class of yacht which has yet to be decided. There are also plans to have pre-regattas in 2009, using the existing America’s Cup yachts.

Let us hope this really is the end of this long-running saga and let battle re-commence on the high seas off Valencia! More news soon.........

Mike O’Neill

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Friday, 17th October, saw the opening of the 13th Gourmet Fair in Utiel. Held in the Paseo de la Alameda, visitors were invited to enjoy the rich gastronomy of the district, ranging from bread, oils, sausages, cheeses, sweetmeats and wines. Much of the food was produced by the local 'Housewives' Associations' and tickets ranged from 4-8€, entitling the bearer to try delicacies from the 30 or so stalls along the avenue. In the afternoon there was a wine-tasting organised by the Association Circle Enófilos Utiel Requena, which gave everyone a chance to decide which wines to go for with their tickets.

Tell me again what it is we're doing here ...

First came an exhibition (and sale) of classic cars in the deliciously named El Patio de la Delicias, arranged by the Utiel Classic Motor Company, followed by a roast-beef tasting in the style of the Argentine Court, courtesy of the Argentine Association of Valencia. Then there were some interesting culinary treats to try from the II Cooking "Utiel Gourmet" School. Some not quite to my taste but, each to his own. 'I'll take the chicken breast, you can have the feet'. I know how to share.
Good eating .....

At six o'clock came the Ceremony of the Gourmet Gold Award (13th edition). The award was presented by Mayor Ajero, after which gifts were handed out to the exhibitors. At 7 o'clock the pergola at the centre of the fair came alive to music from the Argentine Association of Valencia entitled: "Living the Tango", giving us a chance to witness one of the most extraordinary dances ever choreographed. And then, as if we hadn't had enough, we were encouraged to indulge in sausages and grilled bacon. Unnnnhhhhh......

Should you be eating that sausage? Are those twins or am I seeing double?

Utiel is an interesting town and well worth the drive (about 80k from the city on the Madrid A3 road). With its history of wine-making, the landscape is rich with vineyards against a backdrop of hills and valleys. Utiel-Requena wines have much to offer but my advice is to try before you buy as they can be both strong and dense. Go in late August for the grape harvest festival or the sausage fair held in Requena (just before you get to Utiel) in early February. Both are great fun and offer a chance to chat with the locals while indulging yourself in foods you wouldn't normally eat. And, in some cases, will never eat again. Apart from the fairs there are guided tours of the old quarter of the city and don't miss the traditional Ruta del Tapeo (Tapa-Tasting Route), which brings together eleven establishments that offer the public a taste of their own culinary specialities.

Caption competition: Somebody's 'friend' seems a little out of sorts. ¿Un poco aire, quizás?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's Party time with thisisvalencia

It's party time at thisisvalencia.com - the first of our new regular parties with a theme.
This First one is Black and White- Blanco y Negro.
Time and Place
Start Time:
Friday, October 24, 2008 at 11:30pm
End Time:
Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 3:30am
Serrano Morales, 9 (zona Cánovas)
Valencia, Spain

John Says
every1 knows clubs r out and pubs r back in!!!!!!
gonna b a great nite all the rite people, not on til 2 late, and the best thing is u can get up early the next day and have a paella on the beach without too much of a hangover!!!!
get in!!!
todo el mundo lo sabe k las discotecas ya no estan de moda!!!
ahora lo mas chulo son los pubs!!!
vamos a pasar pipa!!!!
mucho color y lo mejor es k al dia siguiente puedes despertar sin mucha resaca y comer una buena paella en playa tranquilo como dios manda!!
See us on Facebook and let us know you are coming

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Chinese Grand Prix
Sunday 19 October 2008
Lewis Hamilton stormed away at the start of today’s race, followed by Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. Fernando Alonso was in touch with the top three but Heikki Kovaleinen in the second McLaren seemed to be dropping back. It was later disclosed that his tyres had been incorrectly fitted.
Jarno Trulli started 7th but was hit by Sebastian Bourdais (Toro Rosso) at the first corner and had to retire. Massa pitted first after 14 laps, followed by Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen. This gave Kovaleinen a brief spell at the front but Hamilton was soon back in command. At this stage, the top four remained unchanged but soon Robert Kubica, who had started 12th and Nick Heidfeld (9th) began to work their way up the field. Kovaleinen, who had fallen back, pitted on lap 35 with a shredded tyre. He came back out but later had to retire.
Meanwhile Hamilton had opened a comfortable gap over Raikkonen, who was noticeably slower towards lap 50. A grateful Massa finally slipped past into second and finished 15 seconds behind the young Briton. Raikkonen made it a 2,3 for Ferrari and Alonso came in fourth, followed by Heidfeld and Kubica.
Nelsinho Piquet, who started 10th on the grid, managed to pass both Sebastian Vettel and Sebastian Bourdais in the Toro Rossos. He was in turn passed by Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) and Timo Glock (Toyota) but, with the loss of Trulli and Kovaleinen, gained another point for Renault.
Ferrari seem to have the Constructor’s title safely in hand but what does seem surprising is that Sauber BMW are now just ten points behind McLaren. Despite the McLaren being clearly faster, Kubica and Heidfeld have simply scored points in more races than Hamilton and Kovaleinen.
Felipe Massa is now the only driver standing between Hamilton and the Drivers’ Championship, so it is perhaps fitting that the final deciding race will be in front of the Brazilian’s home crowd in São Paulo. Both drivers have five race wins and only seven points separate them, so the Brazilian Grand Prix on 2 November should provide a thrilling finish to an excellent season.
The top eight finishers were:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
3 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari)
4 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW)
6 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW)
7 Timo Glock (Toyota)
8 Nelsinho Piquet (Renault)
After 17 races, the leader board looks like this:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 94
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 87
3 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 75
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 69
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 60
6 Fernando Alonso (Renault) 53
7 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 51
8 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso) 30
9Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 30
10 Timo Glock (Toyota) 22
1 Ferrari 156
2 McLaren 145
3 BMW Sauber 135
4 Renault 72
5 Toyota 52
Mike O’Neill

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Chinese Grand Prix

Chinese Grand Prix
Sunday 19 October 2008

Track: 5.45 km
Laps: 56

All week there has been a build up, perhaps sparked by the media but not so far denied, of animosity towards Lewis Hamilton from other top Formula 1 drivers. The situation has surfaced following Fernando Alonso’s comments that “without doubt, if I can help, I will help” to support Felipe Massa’s bid for the championship. Massa is being diplomatic, saying only: “I am not going to take problems on the track off it”. Team mate Kimi Raikkonen however, is a little more explicit. Referring to last weekend’s first corner clash with Hamilton and Kovaleinen, he said: "I have no idea what the drivers behind me were thinking. They braked so late that it was impossible to avoid the following chaos." Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW), who is currently lying third in the Championship says that Hamilton is too aggressive.

This could be just sour grapes from those who have been out-raced and out-manoeuvred by the British driver but it certainly didn’t stop Hamilton from pulling out another storming qualifier to take pole position for tomorrow’s race. As he said before the qualifying session: “I do my talking on the track. If other people want to expend their energy thinking about it, that’s for them.”

Hamilton will have the Ferraris of Raikkonen and Massa on his tail from the start tomorrow. Behind them will be Alonso who, after recent remarks, will no doubt be closely watched by the stewards! Heikki Kovaleinen (McLaren) is ahead of Sebastian Vettel(Toro Rosso), who has already shown that he is capable of upsetting the leaders at the slightest chance. In seventh is Jarno Trulli (Toyota), followed by Sebastian Bourdais (Toro Rosso) and Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW), who qualified sixth but was penalised for slowing David Coulthard. Mark Webber

By this time last year, Hamilton had scored 107 points and was 12 points clear of team-mate Alonso. This year, with a far slimmer margin, we are seeing a far more polished driver who should be better able to deliver results.

The forecast? There is a chance of showers during the race which starts at 08.00
and can be seen (in Catalan) on TV3. A repeat is usually shown on CH33 at 22.00.

The grid line-up:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari)
3 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
4 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
5 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
6 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
7 Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
8 Sebastian Bourdais (Toro Rosso)
9 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW)
10 Nelsinho Piquet (Renault)

Top six after 16 races:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 84
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 79
3 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 72
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 63
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 56
6 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 51

Mike O’Neill

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Over the long summer my head has rarely been out of a book. However, the latest 'best sellers' have been, quite frankly, second-rate. Only one in five have been deserving of merit, which is not only disappointing but worrying. Why are standards slipping? Why are so many books getting through when they don't deserve it, especially when it is generally accepted that the Brits are the most prolific (and among the best) writers in the world? I am vexed by the suspicion that the Americans are stealing our thunder. This cannot be allowed to happen but when we see an ad in the Daily Telegraph, placed there by a frustrated, unpublished writer (and judging by the English construction a brick stands a better chance of success) pleading for notice, I get an unpleasant sensation in the pit of my stomach that the worst may not be over ....
See main website


This is Danny Scheinmann's debut novel. He has a terrific story to tell. Born in 1896 in Ulanov, a small village close to the Russian border, Moritz Daniecki, at 16 years old, falls in love with Lotte Steinberg; he the son of a cobbler, she the daughter of a wealthy fur-trader. They share one kiss and promise themselves to each other, despite knowing that their circumstances will never permit marriage. When war is declared he is sent to The Front. Finally, after many hardships and great suffering, he is abandoned in Siberia and, with Lotte's memory to sustain him, he begins the long walk home, a journey that will take years and one that will test his courage, his love and his endurance. Wonderful. This story more than stands up for itself, why then muddy the waters with the story of Leo Deakin, a young man who loses the love of his life in a terrible accident while back-packing in South America ? Leo Deakin is not a sympathetic character and I found myself unable to warm towards his tireless self-pity. DS made a mistake in using a parallel story to illustrate the extraordinary events of his grandfather's life because this was the lifeblood of the book and made it worth every moment of the time spent reading it. Again, I think Scheinmann was not best-served by his editor. A good read that could have been better.


HALF OF A YELLOW SUN by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Lazy journalists are sometimes guilty of not actually going to the event, listening to the play, or even reading the book. I am heartily sick of the 'stunning review' ethos of back cover blurbism. These reviews often end in disappointment and this book is no exception. As a writer, I don't enjoy giving a bad review but 'Half of a Yellow Sun' has to rate as one of the most dull and charmless books I've read in a long time. And I don't give up easily. The book is set in 1960's Nigeria and weaves together the lives of its main protagonists: Ugwu, young houseboy to Odenigbo, a university lecturer and the beautiful Olanna who gives up a life of privilege to be with Odenigbo, and Richard who falls in love with Olanna's twin sister. So far so good. Except it isn't. At the beginning we are led to believe that the professor is white. Then we learn he is black and extremely weird-looking. Ugwu is obsessed with masturbation and throughout the first thirty-one pages references of a sexual nature involving all parties become extremely tedious. I don't know any Nigerians but I now believe them to be peculiar, sex-obsessed beings who speak in a strange, stilted and unconvincing way. The characters lack depth but, worse, we don't like or care about them. Ugwu has little to recommend him, the professor is bizarre in a bad way and Olanna is ... look, I didn't even get as far as Richard or the twin. We are told that Adichie is the author of the best-selling 'Purple Hibiscus' and maybe it was really great. I do hope so. But the old cliché 'everyone has a book in them' may be hackneyed yet it still holds good. To be fair Margaret Forster wrote: 'I wasted the last fifty pages, reading them far too greedily and fast, because I couldn't bear to let go .. magnificent.' I don't like Margaret Forster's books either ....

THE RETURN by Victoria Hislop
Victoria Hislop, we are told, is the bestselling author of 'The Island'. Yes, I did say exactly the same in my review above. Her second book is, according to her publisher, about 'pain and passion at the heart of war-torn Spain'. Sonia, trapped in a loveless marriage decides to go to Granada with her friend Maggie to take Salsa lessons. Neither know anything about the history of the region or about The Spanish Civil War. Where have they been? By chance, she meets a bar owner who just happens to have known her mother. As we move back and forth between the 1930's and the present time, we are given a story that defies belief. Even though we know truth can be stranger than fiction, the storyline simply isn't plausible, unless we're discussing Mills & Boon.
Indirect exposition seems to have passed VH by and her copious use of adjectives and adverbs was annoying. Maggie said confidently, responded Sonia, snapped Maggie, he said bluntly, he interjected, breathlessly, philosophically, rhetorically, teasingly..... open the book at any page and they jump out at you. The dialogue is so bad in parts it's risible. 'The teachers are wonderful' said Maggie. 'They're life-enhancing, aren't they?' agreed Sonia. If you know anyone who speaks like this, drop them. One of my favourites: 'Sonia noticed a picture (of a Semana Santa parade) at the end of the wall. 'They look like the Ku Klux Klan. They're really sinister.' This statement is made by a supposedly educated, intelligent woman who is half Spanish. Again, real people do not speak like this. Why not use the moment to explain about the Nazarenos and their role during Semana Santa? When one of the characters refers to her husband as: ...'him upstairs'., it bears a lamentable association with 'er indoors', and ruins the moment. Hislop repeats herself far too often, sometimes in he same sentence and after Dolores Ibarruri's famous speech 'They shall not pass' we are left with: 'She's inspiring, isn't she?' said Antonio.
Yet Hislop has done her research and sometimes she really gets into her stride and we are caught up in the events of her story but she lacks staying power. Her descriptions of one of the most devastating and disturbing conflicts of all time left me almost indifferent. To be fair I think Miss Hislop has been badly let down by her editor. This book simply isn't good enough to be on a best seller list. Sorry, but there it is.

Karen Joy Fowler’s The Jane Austin Book Club. This book has had extraordinary reviews, including 'dangerously addictive'. The Daily Mail defies us not to 'fall head over heels for this lovely novel'. So, what’s it all about?

In California’s Sacramento Valley, a group of misfits meet once a month to discuss Jane Austen’s novels. The publicity blurb would have us believe they’re ordinary people, neither happy nor unhappy, but all wounded in different ways, all mixed up about their lives and relationships. This is an understatement. If these people are 'ordinary' I'm leaving the planet. 'Ordinary people' these are not. Monthly clubs devoted to book discussion are filled with the lost and the lonely. Trust me. I've been there. It was a close call.

Despite my feelings on the subject, I liked this book. A little slow to start it gained in interest rapidly and I found myself drawn in. Certainly a good read for a rainy afternoon or a holiday. It made me want to re-read Austen – and indeed, although her books are all in print, this small novel has created something of a renaissance – always a good thing.

That's it for this month. In October I shall be reviewing, among others, Alison Weir's 'Innocent Traitor'. I am half way through and am having to limit myself to twenty minutes at a time. One, because it's so beautifully written, with descriptions that evoke all the senses (take note VH) and two, because I can't imagine what will take its place after I've read the last page.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Japanese Grand Prix

Japanese Grand Prix
Sunday 12 September 2008

In one of the most exciting race without rain this year, Fernando Alonso reminded us just how he came to be a double world champion by coaxing his Renault to an overall victory at the Fuji Speedway in Japan.

Grid leader Hamilton got away to a slow start, allowing Kimi Raikkonen to get ahead. As they approached turn 1, Hamilton braked late and, according to the stewards, forced Raikkonen off the track. Robert Kubica and Fernando Alonso (who started sixth and fourth) saw their chance and stole away into the lead.
Hamilton fought back but, approaching the chicane on lap 2, Felipe Massa’s wheel hit the McLaren, spinning it around. Hamilton re-joined the race but, with a drive –through penalty from the first lap still to do, his chances were not good. The only consolation came when Massa was awarded a similar penalty for their collission. Meanwhile, team mate Heikki Kovaleinen was hanging on to third place, ahead of Jarno Trulli and Kimi Raikkonen until lap16 when smoke appeared from the McLaren engine and he was out of the race. Alonso pitted behind Kubica and took on less fuel to get out ahead. He then put in some dazzling laps to ensure that when he pitted again with 23 laps to go, Kubica was firmly in second place. Raikkonen tried everything to get past the Polish driver but had to watch out for Nelsinho Piquet in the second Renault who was closing fast in the final laps.

Felipe Massa’s penalty had relegated him to 14th, but he had worked his way back up to tenth when he collided with Sebastian Bourdais, who had just rejoined the race after pitting. Massa spun, but still managed to finish eighth. Stewards later gave Bourdais, who had finished sixth, a 25 second penalty which dropped him to 10th and gave Massa an extra point.

Since McLaren failed to gain any points, Ferrari move back to lead the constructors’ table.

With just two races to go, Hamilton will be working hard to control those racing instincts that got him into so much trouble today. Next week, the F1 Show moves to Shanghai, China for Race 17.

The top eight finishers were:
1 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
2 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW)
3 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari)
4 Nelsinho Piquet (Renault)
5 Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
6 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
7 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
8 Mark Webber (Red Bull)

After 16 races, the leader board looks like this:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 84
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 79
3 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 72
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 63
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 56
6 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 51
7 Fernando Alonso (Renault) 48
8Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 30
8 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso) 30
10 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 21

1 Ferrari 142
2 McLaren 135
3 BMW Sauber 128
4 Renault 66R
5 Toyota 50Mc

Mike O’Neill

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Japanese Grand Prix

Japanese Grand Prix
Sunday 12 September 2008

Track: 4.56 km

Laps: 67

The Japanese Grand prix will take place tomorrow at the Fuji Speedway, where Lewis Hamilton holds the lap record from 2007. He drove a superb lap in qualifying to take pole position ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who is believed to be running a light fuel load. Whether this will give him the edge into the first corner remains to be seen but, with team mate Massa back in fifth place, Ferrari will be hoping that the Finn will be able to slow Hamilton enough to give Massa a chance to claw back some of the 7-point lead that Hamilton has in the Driver’s Championship.

Heikki Kovaleinen (McLaren) was third in qualifying and will no doubt be hoping to improve on his ‘rear-gunner’ skills to hold off fourth-placed Fernando Alonso (Renault) and Massa in the second Ferrari. Robert Kubika (Sauber BMW) in sixth is always a threat and the Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock have improved greatly since mid-season. Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) is only one point behind Raikkonen but, starting 16th after failing to get into Q2 will make things a lot tougher for him.

The Fuji Speedway provides plenty of passing opportunities and, with just three races to go, some drivers may feel they have nothing to lose!

The forecast? Rain could be an issue but the outlook is for cloudy, windy conditions. The race starts half an hour earlier than usual at 13.30 and can be seen (in Catalan) on TV3. A repeat is usually shown on CH33 at 22.00.

The grid line-up:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari)
3 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
4 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
5 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
6 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW)
7 Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
8 Timo Glock (Toyota)
9 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
10 Sebastian Bourdais (Toro Rosso)

Top six after 15 races:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 84
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 77
3 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 64
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 57
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 56
6 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 51

Mike O’Neill

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Singapore Grand Prix

Singapore Grand Prix
Sunday 28 September

In a thrilling and eventful race, Fernando Alonso (Renault) claimed his first victory in what, for a two times world champion, has been a very frustrating season with an uncompetitive car.

Felipe Massa led from pole and, with a light fuel load, was expected to pit early. Whether it was the unfamiliar track, the floodlit circuit or a lapse of concentration; things started to go wrong on lap 14, when Nelsinho Piquet (Renault) crashed into the concrete wall. Team mate Alonso had pitted earlier and was spared the pain of watching the fuel draining behind the safety car. This lack of fuel forced Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg to incur 10 second penalties for re-fuelling whilst the pit lane was ‘closed’. When Massa finally pitted on lap 17, a faulty light signal prompted him to accelerate away with the fuel hose still attached. The hose ripped out of the bowser, bowled over one of the pit crew and dragged behind the Ferrari until Massa stopped. Further seconds were lost as the crew raced after the car and wrestled the nozzle from the tank. Massa rejoined the race in last place.

Meanwhile Rosberg (Williams) had re-joined the race and, as one by one the cars ahead pitted for fuel, found himself in the lead, followed by Jarno Trulli (Toyota) who was on a one-stop strategy. Rosberg finally pitted for his penalty, leaving Trulli in the lead. Once Trulli pitted, Alonso was clear away and began to build a strong lead. Meanwhile, David Coulthard had moved up into third, with Lewis Hamilton fourth. Alonso pitted on lap 40, by which time he had built a sufficient lead to re-join just in front of Coulthard. Hamilton saw his opportunity and passed Coulthard seconds later before a final pit stop.

Raikkonen, who had patiently worked his way back into fifth position after the earlier chaos, crashed out with just four laps to go. Team mate Massa had spun off on lap 50; pulling away just before Adrian Sutil (Force India) crashed into the barrier. Not a good evening for a team which started 1st and 3rd on the grid.

In what could become defining moments in the 2008 championship, Ferrari lost their constructor’s lead to McLaren and Renault pulled ahead of Toyota to take fourth place behind BMW Sauber.

The next grand prix takes place in Japan on Sunday 12 October.

Mike O’Neill

The top eight finishers were:
1 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
2 Nico Rosberg (Williams)
3 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
4 Timo Glock (Toyota)
5 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
6 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW)
7 David Coulthard (Red Bull)
8 Kazuki Nakajima (Williams)

After 15 races, the leader board looks like this:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 84
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 77
3 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 64
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 57
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 56
6 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 51
7 Fernando Alonso (Renault) 38
8 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso) 27
9Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 26
10 Timo Glock (Toyota) 20
10 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 20

1 McLaren 135fer
2 Ferrari 134
3 BMW Sauber 120
4 Renault 51
5 Toyota 46

Formula 1 Night Race - Singapore

Singapore Grand Prix
Sunday 28 September 2008

Track: 5.067 km

Laps: 61

With just one point separating the world championship leaders, today’s practise on a new street track was always going to be tense. This tension was increased by having to qualify under floodlights. The Singapore circuit will see the first ever Formula 1 night race, which gets under way at 20.00 local time.

Felipe Massa gained a psychological advantage by qualifying over half a second faster than Lewis Hamilton but this may have been achieved with a significantly lighter fuel load. This will make Ferrari’s pit stop strategy even more critical than usual. Massa later said: “The track is very difficult and requires total concentration lap after lap because there is no room for error: it's much harder here than in Monaco”. Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari qualified third, with Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) fourth. Heikki Kovaleinen (McLaren) finds himself sandwiched between the two Sauber BMWs, having Nick Heidfeld behind him in sixth place. Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso), who won his first Grand Prix at Monza earlier this month, starts seventh with Timo Glock (Toyota) eighth. The two Williams drivers are ninth and tenth, giving Kazuki Nakajima his first ever top ten start.

Fernando Alonso failed to get into the top 10 after several promising runs in practice. His Renault engine cut out during the second qualifying session, which means he will start in 15th place.

The forecast? Thundery rain is expected but when and how much is still undecided. The race starts at 14.00 (or 20.00 if you happen to be in Singapore!)

The grid line-up:
1 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
2 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
3 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari)
4 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW)
5 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
6 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW)
7 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
8 Timo Glock (Toyota)
9 Nico Rosberg (Williams)
10 Kazuki Nakajima (Williams)

Top six after 14 races:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 78
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 77
3 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 64
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 57
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 53
6 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 51

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


VALENCIA – Sunday, 14 SEPTEMBER 2008

Sunday was the last day of this fun, three day event down at the Port. A good crowd turned up to watch and the atmosphere hummed with press and spectator side-by-side, eager to see whether the hot favourite (Peyron) would actually pull it off. With varying breeze and no-one taking a flyer to come storming up from the rear, Luc Dubois (Alinghi Red) sailed a good race to come in first, followed by Nicolas Charbonnier, who looks like a fun sort of guy, with Loïck Peyron (seven times winner of this event) in third place.

Score Board, for those who like the details

Claire Leroy (women's match racing world champion 2007/08) and her all woman crew suffered a capsize early in the first race and had to be brought back to shore. Looking shaken and disappointed there was some confusion as to what happened to the third crew member. The race continued but later we saw a stretcher being taken away by ambulance on the far shore. A press release from the organisers' office would have been good but nothing was forthcoming. We trust she is now fully recovered.

Capsize of Leroy

From years of sailing in The Solent the bliss of guaranteed sunshine and at least a bit of breeze made me yearn to be out there on the water. But after an extremely scary capsize on a Hobie Cat some years ago, perhaps a glass of wine in the safety of the press enclosure among sensible people was the way to go ... maybe ....

All in all it was a great event and, at the prize-giving, with a history of looking the wrong way at the right moment, I managed to get sprayed with champagne; a sticky end to an almost perfect day.

Getting ready to go racing

A puff of breeze

The winner, Alinghi Red, Luc Dubois


You would have to be pretty desperate to attempt this!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Italian Grand Prix

Italian Grand Prix
Sunday 14 September


In what proved a shrewd move, the safety car was deployed before the start to avoid the usual first-corner ‘scramble’ which, in the wet conditions, would have almost certainly caused a major crash. As it was, the race got away to a smooth start and the safety car pulled off after a lap. Showing a maturity far beyond his 21 years, Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso) defended his pole position from second-placed Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) and quickly secured a few seconds over the Finn.

Starting from 15th on the grid was a new experience for Lewis Hamilton but at least he had company for there at 14 was Kimi Raikkonen. The pair soon showed a clean pair of exhaust pipes to David Coulthard (Red Bull) and Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India) and on lap 42, Hamilton managed to get past Raikkonen. Four laps later, Hamilton touched wheels with former team-mate Fernando Alonso (Renault) and slipped into 7th place, looking hot for a podium finish. Meanwhile, Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) was playing a one-stop strategy, having started 11th on the grid. With 22 laps to go, he had pulled up into second place before pitting and changing to intermediate tyres.

Alonso, who had earlier been passed by Hamilton, had also switched to intermediate tyres and it was this strategy that allowed him to turn the tables on the Englishman and secured him a fourth overall. Felipe Massa had a relatively uneventful race apart from an overtaking incident with Nico Rosberg (Williams), which the Ferrari team decided he had to five back. Realising he still had Hamilton behind him decided the Brazilian on a cautious approach which narroes the gap between them to just one point.

Unhappiest man of the day has to be Sebastian Bourdais (Toro Rosso) who, after qualifying fourth, stalled on the grid and lost a lap whilst being re-started.

His team-mate Sebastian Vettel is now the youngest driver ever to have won a Formula 1 race. As he later said when asked how it felt: “It is better than I had ever expected. A big thank you to everyone in the team for their great work.”

The next grand prix takes place in Singapore on Sunday 28 September

The top eight finishers were:
1 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
2 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
3 Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber)
4 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW)
6 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
7 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
8 Mark Webber (Red Bull)

After 14 races, the leader board looks like this:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 78
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 77
3 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 64
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 57
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 53
6 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 51
7 Fernando Alonso (Renault) 28
8 Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 26
9 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso) 23
10 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 20

1 Ferrari 134
2 McLaren 129
3 BMW Sauber 117
4 Toyota 41
5 Renault 41

Mike O’Neill

Italian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Italian Grand Prix
Sunday 14 September


Track: 5.79 km

Laps: 53

Monza is the ‘spiritual home’ of Ferrari, just 180km north of their factory at Modena, so just an hour away for the average Italian driver. The ‘Tifosi’, as the great band of Ferrari fans are known, will be out in force to cheer on Felipe Massa who, following the controversial decision at Spa last week, is just two points behind Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers Championship table.

It is probably the fastest track in the current Grand Prix calendar. The long straights encourage the use of full throttle and low downforce, so less grip in the corners. If you add torrential rain into the equation, it becomes very interesting indeed. This was very evident in Saturday’s qualifying sessions as first one, then another top driver failed to keep his car pointing in the right direction. Whether it was poor tyre choice or simply bad timing, both Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen failed to post good enough times to get into the top ten. Even Felipe Massa struggled to claim sixth on the grid. It was left to Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso), to show the way and secure pole position. Vettel turned 21 in July and so becomes the youngest driver ever to head a Formula 1 start. He is joined on the front row by Heikki Kovalainen, with Mark Webber (Red Bull) in third. Sebastian Bourdais is fourth in the other Toro Rosso with Nico Rosberg (Williams) in fifth.

The forecast is for more rain on Sunday. The big questions are when and how much? The race starts at 14.00.

The grid line-up:
1 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
2 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
3 Mark Webber (Red Bull)
4 Sebastian Bourdais (Toro Rosso)
5 Nico Rosberg (Williams)
6 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
7 Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
8 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
9 Timo Glock (Toyota)
10 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW)

Top six after 13 races:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 76
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 74
3 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 58
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 57
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 49
6 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 43

Mike O’Neill

Trofeo Clairefontaine - Saturday 13 September

Racing was always tight and exciting to watch
TV 'chopper over Alinghi HQ
Peyron's classy move in Race 5!
Spectators on the Velas i Vents balcony
Claire Leroy chases Fernando León
Ed Baird talks to TV News after racing

Racing got under way a little later than expected today, thanks to your reporter failing to check the up-dated programme!

Conditions were perfect with blue skies and a nice 8-10 km/h breeze. The first race was an out-of-harbour race won by Loïck Peyron, with Ed Baird in second and Nicolas Charbonnier third.

The remaining races (nine in total) are being held in the America's Cup Harbour, or Marina Juan Carlos 1 as it's now known, right in front of the Velas i Vents jetty. Race 2 went to Spanish sailor Fernando León, with Peyron second and Charbonnier third.

Race three was spoilt by the noise from a TV helicopter that hovered no more than 50m above our heads, drowning out the commentary provided by Sailing One, the event organizers. Luc Dubois led around the course, followed closely by Loïck Peyron. At the final turn, Peyron showed why he has won this event no less than seven times. Seeing Dubois about to lose his wind to an approaching
boat, Peyron squeezed up for clear air and took the lead. Dubois fought back and managed to cross the line just one second ahead.

Claire Leroy who is World Women's Match-racing champion sailed an excellent race 4, leading at the final mark. In a surprise reversal of fortune, she lost out metres from the finish to Dubois, who was beginning to look a serious threat to Peyronís overall lead.

In a breathtaking display of sailing skill at the start of race 5, Loïck Peyron sailed below his slower competition until, almost touching the commentatorís box, tacked and crossed the entire fleet.

Fernando León tried a similar move in race 6 but found his way blocked. He raised both hands in disbelief when the umpires refused to issue penalties and finished a dejected 8th.

After six races, Loïck Peyron is just three points ahead of Luc Dubois, with the very consistent Nicolas Charbonnier in third. America's Cup Winner Ed Baird is tied in fourth place with León, who will be hoping to put today's disappointment out of his mind before tomorrow's final three races get under way.

It is difficult to convey just how quickly it all happens once the count-down begins. Five races had been started and finished within two hours this afternoon.

Racing starts tomorrow at 13.30 sharp. The final three races will be followed by the prizegiving at 15.00. Get there by 12.30 and you will be assured of a good viewing position.

ps Car-parking under the Velas i Vents building is free. So not only do you save yourself a walk, the car will be nice and cool when you come to drive home!

Mike O'Neill

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fun in the Port of Valencia, The Trophee Clairefontaine

The Trophee Clairefontaine got off to a great start yesterday with their sailing equivalent of the qualifying circuits at Formula One, the Warm-up Rhodia. It makes for a highly entertaining afternoon. The races in small catamarans are short and so close to you in the Basin of the Juan Carlos 1 marina, that you can almost touch them!
Racing continues today from 12 O'clock with 'Raids'off the beach at Las Arenas, followed by 2 hours of races back in the basin. The final day and trophy giving is tomorrow, Sunday.
The best news is that it's all free to the public and the best views are from the Veles i Vents building.
More from our sailing correspondent Mike O'Neill later.