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Class focus - Canting Keel: In the Blood

Tim Davis and Chris Bull before the start of the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race Photo: Rolex/Carlo BorlenghiChris Bull's Cookson 50, Jazz is competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race in the Canting Keel Class, along with Adrian Lee's Cookson 50, Lee Overlay Partners, they are the smallest in a class of giants, literally half the size of Rambler 100 and ICAP Leopard. Jazz and Lee Overlay Partners are locked in an intense battle. Just after dawn, following the first night at sea, Jazz was just ahead but slight differences between the two yachts, means that Lee Overlay Partners is just ahead after time correction.

Despite the Australian sail number on Jazz, Chris Bull comes from England but has lived and worked in Australia for many years and spends as much time as he can sailing around the Australia, a country close to his heart.

"I have spent so much time in Australia that I consider it my second home and I have always sailed with Australians, even before I went to work there," explained Bull.

The Cookson 50 is an Australian boat, which I bought in Sydney and there are as many Australian crew as there are British. Our bowman is Stuart Pollard who comes from Sydney and races on the RC44, Farr 40 circuit. Andy Hudson is also from Sydney and an exceptionally talented all-rounder. He was part of the winning crew at this year's Rolex Farr 40 World Championship in Australia. Tim Davis is from Geelong, Victoria and has been sailing with me for years, an excellent trimmer who is also in charge of the sail programme on Jazz and he is a huge asset. Jake Newman is also from Geelong, a big strong guy, who is a very talented heavy weather helmsman. Jake is exceptional at getting a boat to fly downwind in a blow, either at the wheel or pumping the main to surf down waves. Australia is blessed with some really tough talented offshore sailors, it is just in their blood."

Chris Bull's Jazz competing in the 2010 Rolex Sydney Hobart. Photo: Daniel Forster. Photo: Rolex/Daniel ForsterThere are very few boats that have competed in both the Rolex Sydney Hobart and the Rolex Fastnet in the same season but Jazz has now achieved that feet. The 2010 Rolex Sydney Hobart was a tempestuous affair with big breeze and Jazz reveled in it. Chris Bull and his team were a hot contender for the overall win but as the breeze died towards Tasmania, so did Jazz's hopes, eventually coming second overall.

"Obviously, we were disappointed to come so close but I was not down-hearted, I realised that we had a very competitive boat and decided to commit to an extensive race programme. The day after we finished the Rolex Sydney Hobart, half the crew took the boat up to Melbourne to load her onto a ship, bound for the RORC Caribbean 600. Since then we have competed in the Annapolis to Newport Race and won our class in the Transatlantic Race. We have come along way, if you take all of the mileage that the boat has actually sailed it comes to about 8,000 nautical miles. I just love to do as much offshore sailing as I can, it is my great love."

Winning the Canting Keel Class would be a dream come true for Chris Bull, this morning Jazz was third in class, behind ICAP Leopard and Rambler 100. The early part of the race provided moderate to fresh conditions, which suited the Maxis, however lighter conditions are currently prevailing in the Celtic Sea, which may swing the balance towards the smaller boats in the class.

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