Mark RothfieldFrantic’s awesome run in Sydney Noumea Yacht Race

SMOKING RUN: Newcastle-registered Frantic reaching towards New Caledonia in the Sydney Noumea race.MICHAEL Martin wasn’t the quickest Wallaby of all time, nor is his yacht Frantic the fastest TP52 running around, but both are tough enough to be effective in their own way.

The Newcastle-registered yacht secured a record-breaking line-honours victory in the recent Category 1 Sydney Noumea Yacht Race, riding the sou’east trade-wind conveyor for most of the four days, two hours and 23 minutes spent between the start and finish lines.

That’s a whopping one day, 19 hours and 12 minutes faster than the previous race record set in 1991 by pocket maxi Brindabella – a yacht 13 feet longer in length – and it added to Frantic’s success in a Lord Howe race some years ago.

Martin, a roofer by trade, is arguably the ‘island king’ in his spare time.

The weather window for the first Sydney Noumea race in 25 years set up a dream run after being delayed for a day by gale conditions and the container spillage.

WET WET WET: Newcastle yacht Dare Devil at the race start. It was a wild ride for the crew, who endured tonnes of water over the deck.

A downhill reaching and running race suited the slick TP52, although it was neck-and-neck with the leading group until the last afternoon.

“We had some of the best downhill sailing we’ve ever had … it’s why we sail,” Martin said once berthed at Port Moselle. “When the breeze got up to 25-30 knots we just smoked.

“But every time we set a spinnaker you had to go and see the bank manager … we blew up a fractional code zero and a kite, but it was worth it.”

Another Newcastle entry, Sibby Ilzhofer’s Farr 47 Dare Devil, arrived on the Friday morning ahead of well-performed production yachts Wings and Kayimai after a wet and wild ride.

“We had that much water over the deck, it didn’t matter what we shut … tonnes and tonnes of water got inside the boat,” Ilzhofer said. “We are wet to the bone and had to sleep saturated most of the race.”

Dare Devil will now bravely line up for part two of their Coral Sea adventure, joining the sixth edition of the Groupama Race around New Caledonia starting Sunday.

Michael Graham’s Swan 43 Santana from Lake Macquarie Yacht Club was officially the last yacht to complete the 1064 nautical mile course, just over a week after leaving Sydney Harbour.

Second across the finish line was GBP Yeah Baby, owned by twins Marc and Louis Ryckmans. The historical advantage favoured the Welbourn 50 over Frantic but destroying a key sail within the first four hours proved costly.

“We were excited to see Frantic on day three and have a dosey-doe with them to the finish,” helmsman Lindsay Stead said. “But congratulations to Frantic … they did an awesome job.”

Third to cross was Smuggler, Sebastian Bohm’s Rogers 46, which would later be declared the overall IRC winner. Conditions also proved ideal for the lightweight yacht and high calibre crew.

“We were surfing waves and sitting on 14 knots constantly,” said Bohm.

“Our navigator David Van Der Wende made some great tactical decisions and got us as far east as we could, anticipating the big sou’easter coming in, and that set us up for a nice angle straight to Noumea.”

On Smuggler’s IRC honours Bohm added: “Everyone’s ecstatic. We don’t have the biggest budget, we just know it’s a really good boat and we want to show everyone it can win races.”

They eclipsed GBP Yeah Baby and Tony Kirby’s Patrice for the minor handicap placings.

FLEETMASTERS’ DEBUTWHITTLEY’S Fleetmaster 23 and Fleetmaster 26 will make their public debut at the Melbourne Boat Show from June 28 to July 1 before heading to the Sydney International Boat Show in early August.

The 23 is a soft-top sportscruiser with a double berth, galley and toilet for overnighting. A large moulded rear platform also makes it perfect for watersports and fishing. Package price with a Mackay trailer and Volvo Penta V6 200 engine is $99,990.

The Fleetmaster 26, meanwhile, has a hard top with sliding cabin door, accommodating up to four people for a weekend afloat. With the same motor and a trailer, it’s $149,990.

EXTREME OFFSHORE ARRIVESYAMAHA’S latest outboard offering sports a thumping big V8 under its hood, churning out 425 horsepower from a 5.6-litre naturally-aspirated block.

Called the XTO, or Extreme Offshore, it was designed specifically to drive bigger boats via a special, large-diameter propeller engineered for maximum thrust. Direction injection improves fuel economy while ensuring “the highest compression ratio of any outboard”.

All this, without requiring hydraulic or electric pumps – an industry first, according to Yamaha. Instead, you get ‘steer by wire’ helm and ‘drive by wire’ throttle systems, along with an updated multifunction touchscreen display and Helm Master joystick docking and positioning system.

Bees use patterns of scent to ID flowers

Bumblebees can tell flowers apart by identifying their invisible scent patterns.Bees can identify different flowers by the invisible patterns of scent across their surface.

New research led by scientists from the University of Bristol and Queen Mary University of London reveals how bumblebees learn the patterns and distinguish between flowers.

Flowers have different patterns of scent across their surface, and visiting bees find that the edge of the petals may smell different to the centre.

In addition, patterns found on flowers – such as lines pointing to the centre – help guide bees and other pollinators towards the nectar.

Dr Dave Lawson, from the University of Bristol, said that if you look at a flower through a microscope, you can often see patterns in cells that produce the flower’s scent.

“By creating artificial flowers that have identical scents arranged in different patterns, we are able to show that this patterning might be a signal to a bee,” he said.

“For a flower, it’s not just smelling nice that’s important, but also where you put the scent in the first place.”

The study found that once bees learnt a pattern of how scent was arranged on a flower, they preferred to visit unscented flowers with a similar arrangement of visual spots on their surface.

Dr Lawson described this as being the equivalent of a human putting their hand into a bag to feel the shape of an object and then picking out a picture of it.

“Being able to mentally switch between different senses is something we take for granted, but it’s exciting that a small animal like a bee is also able to do something this abstract,” he said.

Professor Lars Chittka, from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, said the researchers already knew that bees were clever, but were surprised by the fact they could learn invisible patterns on flowers – patterns that were just made of scent.

“The scent glands on our flowers were either arranged in a circle or a cross, and bees had to figure out these patterns by using their feelers,” he said.

“But the most exciting finding was that, if these patterns are suddenly made visible by the experimenter, bees can instantly recognise the image that formerly was just an ephemeral pattern of volatiles in the air.”

Australian Associated Press

Detecting signs of heart attack during the holidays

NSW Ambulance paramedics have urged the community to look out forsigns and symptoms of heart attack and cardiac arrest this Christmas.

NSW Ambulance traditionally sees an increase over the Christmas and New Year periodin Triple Zero calls for patients with cardiac related problems.

Paramedics responded to 2154 incidents betweenDecember 24,2014 and January 1, 2015, including225 on Christmas Day.

NSW Ambulance Director of Education, Alan Morrison said people were just as at risk of suffering an episode on Christmas Day as any other day.

“Unfortunately tomorrow we will respond to homes, parks and beaches across the state where families have gathered to celebrate a joyous occasion, only to have one of their loved ones go into cardiac arrest,” Chief SuperintendentMorrison said.

“Too many people lose their lives because they don’t call Triple Zero (000) quickly enough.

“Every second without medical intervention counts and can make the difference between life and death.”

Mr Morrison said emotional stresses, excitement, hot weather and over indulgence of food and alcohol can also impact on a person’s health and wellbeing, putting them at higher risk of cardiac arrest.

NSW Ambulance encourages people to watch their friends and families for the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack, which includeunusual pain, pressure, heaviness or tightness in the neck, back, chest, face, arm or shoulder; nausea;shortness of breath;dizziness and a cold sweat.

Signs of cardiac arrest also includeabsent or abnormal breathing; and no signs of life.

Chief Superintendent Morrison advised people to callTriple Zero (000) as soon as they notice these signs and to start administering CPR while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

“While most of the state will wind down to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones, NSW Ambulance remains fully resourced and our call takers will dispatch help to you immediately.”

Australia v West Indies: Windies captain Jason Holder downplays bowlers’ ‘bad game’ in Hobart as a one-off

West Indies captain Jason Holder is confident the fast bowlers who let them down in Hobart will better demonstrate their talent in Melbourne.

Holder, a bowling all-rounder who was his team’s best bowler in the opening Test, conceded their fast bowlers “had a bad game” at Blundstone Arena, as Australia coasted to a commanding innings victory.

Australia’s Josh Hazlewood joined the criticism of the attack, admittedly depleted by the tour-ending injury to Shannon Gabriel. He said Australia knew Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach generally pose more of a threat than they did in Hobart, and expected they would lead the improvement in the Boxing Day Test.

“I think they’ll be better. A lot of their guys, [especially] their batting group, hasn’t played much in Australia, so I think they’ll get better every match and put up more of a fight,” Hazlewood said on Thursday.

“I think their bowlers are the one thing that was disappointing. Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach are pretty good bowlers, they’ve had great success in the past against us and other teams, so I think that’s one are they’ll improve a lot on: their opening bowlers.”

Holder, who took over as captain from Denesh Ramdin after the mid-year series against Australia in the Caribbean, said he had faith the fast bowlers would make amends.

“If you look at our performances for the last couple of months our bowlers have been pulling us through. They’ve been bowling well up to that point. All throughout in the Caribbean we played Australia and England, then we went to Sri Lanka and they did really well there as well,” he said.

“I just put it down hopefully to one bad Test match and hopefully we can pull our socks up.”

Holder said an improved fast-bowling performance would help lift their body language, for which they were widely criticised in both Hobart and last weekend’s practice match in Geelong.

“We know our body language probably wasn’t the best in the first Test match,” he said.

“When we start well in terms of our bowling, the energy filters through the entire innings. That’s one of the things I really want to stress on in terms of the body language. Once we do that we have the energy a lot longer.”

Holder confirmed bowling all-rounder Carlos Braithwaite was likely to make his debut ahead of Miguel Cummins, the paceman recently added to the squad in place of Gabriel.

“Carlos has been in the squad for a little while now and he’s waiting for his opportunity, so he’s pretty much front line to go ahead of Miguel. But we’ll see how the conditions are,” he said.

The captain gave little away about whether they would swap left-arm finger-spinner Jomel Warrican, who claimed the important wickets of David Warner and Steve Smith on the opening day in Hobart, with leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, who claimed 6-80 in the only time he bowled to the Australians in the June series in the West Indies.

One player whose spot for Boxing Day looks assured is opener Rajendra Chandrika, who has scored three ducks in his first four Test innings and has 25 in the other.

The right-hander, who has a first-class average of 25.33, fell for 28 in the practice match. Nevertheless, Holder hinted he would stay in the team ahead of the two reserve batsmen in the squad: Shane Dowrich, who made 70 against Australia in Dominica earlier this year, and Shai Hope.

“Rajendra is the specialist opener. If you look at the rest of the batsmen, they’re middle-order batsmen. Shai has opened in the past but I don’t think he’s a specialist opener,” he said.

“I think we have to give Chandrika some time to get into what he’s doing and we’ll see how he goes in the next couple of Test matches.”

Holder said he was buoyed by the opportunity to play in a Boxing Day Test, as part of the first West Indies team to do so since 2000.

“It’s a very special occasion. Everybody knows what we’re up against. I remember walking on the field for the first time when we got here to Melbourne, it was a really nice feeling,” he said.

“I’ve been here before but not to play in a Boxing Day Test. The majority of the guys haven’t been here before to play in a Boxing Day Test either. We’re all up for it. It’s a wonderful occasion and hopefully we go well.”

AUSTRALIA (from): Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Scott Boland, Joe Burns, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Peter Nevill, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Adam Voges.

WEST INDIES (from): Jason Holder (c), Kraigg Brathwaite (vc), Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Rajendra Chandrika, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shai Hope, Denesh Ramdin, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Jomel Warrican.

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Saved from a six-metre fall by the wheels of his scooter

SINKING FEELING: A sinkhole opened up beneath Alwyne Watkins, 90. Picture: Simone De Peak.ALWYNE Watkins escaped with his life by the widthofhis mobility scooter yesterday whenthe Wallsend park he’s spent a lifetime inthreatened toswallowhim up.

“The ground opened up and swallowed me and I was underground,” Mr Watkins, 90, said.

“All I knew was thatI was driving, and the next moment my head was level with the ground.”

Mr Watkins wasridingona path along the fencelineofGeorge Farley Oval at 3.30pmWednesdaywhen asinkholewitnesses describeas six metres deep and four metres wideopened up beneath his wheels.

The scooter lurched nosefirst intothemanhole-sized crater,tipped sideways and pinned Mr Watkins tothe rim. A pair of prescription glasses and sunglasses tumbled into the dark.Mr Watkins hit his head on the ground andsuffered a chipped elbow and acracked rib.

Two men playingsoccerranover and freed Mr Watkins, with only hisscooter’srear wheelswedgingit to the rim. Police and paramedics attendedand Mr Watkins was taken toJohn Hunter Hospital overnight.

“I call [the two rescuers]heroes, and I want to thank them,” he said.

“Everyone was frightened to go near the hole because when they got close to the edge it kept caving in around me.”

CLOSE CALL: Alwyne Watkins at the hole that nearly swallowed him up. Picture: Simone De Peak.

Mine Subsidence Board workerscordoned off the crater andspent the night andtoday pumpingthe hole with concrete. Comment is being sought from the Mine Subsidence Board.

The park holdshistory for Mr Watkins, whopassesthroughat leasttwice a day. He played football there as a young man.Fifteen months ago, on nearlythe samespot asthe sinkhole, he was accosted by a muggerwho received “a broken nose” for his trouble. One of the trees holda plaque toMr Watkins’ late wife Norma, and he leaves flowers every morning.

Alwyne Watkins recounts narrowly missing falling into a sink hole at Wallsend while riding his mobility scooter. pic.twitter老域名/jRuRVs7KWh

— Simone De Peak (@simonedepeak) December 24, 2015

Ken Lewington, one of twoneighbours whosecured a rope tothescooter and pulled it free, said sinkholes weren’t unexpected in the historically undermined suburb, but still concerning.

“We’re in a mine subsidence area, so I suppose you have to expect it at some point,” Mr Lewington said.

“But it’s a highusage park. Alot of kids go along that pathto use the skate park.”

Mr Watkins said he was satisfied with an undertakingfrom the Mine Subsidence Board to replace his scooter, which still runs but has a bent chassis and veers to the right.

REPAIRS: Mine Subsidence Board workers pump concrete into a sinkhole in Wallsend. Picture: Simone De Peak.