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screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-2-53-05-pmAs you’ve likely read on these pages before, one of our biggest beefs with the folks who run ISAF World Sailing has long been their willingness to threaten those who compete in non-ISAF sanctioned events with a ban from competition.  We’ve long maintained that the rule allowing them to do this (ISAF/World Sailing Regulation 19.14 (a)(ii)) is illegal in much of the modern world, and it appears that the European Commission agrees wholeheartedly.

Acting on complaints from a pair of Dutch speedskaters, EU regulators have told the International Skating Union that its threat to impose lifetime bans on speed skaters for taking part in unauthorized events is anti-competitive, putting pressure on the ruling body and other agencies with similar penalties to back down.  The skaters said the ISU threatened them if they competed in a big money “ice derby” in Korea, and after a year-long investigation, the EU agreed that the ISU violated the anti-trust sections of EU law.

For a legal description of what exactly happened and what the implications are for the ISU and other bodies (like ISAF), check out the EU Competition Law Review summary here.  We can sum it up quickly though:  The EU investigated ISU for a year, and determined that the ISU rules (that allow up to a lifetime ban for competitors) unduly restrict athletes’ commercial freedom and effectively discourage them from participating in events other than those organized by ISU or its members.  In other words, the international governing body’s rules are an attempt to create an impermissible monopoly over all skating events…

ISU now must issue a response to the EU, after which point the EU will decide what penalties and actions they will take against the ISU, and if the ISU’s incredibly condescending and dismissive initial response is any indicator, the EU is going to have to take a swing.  ISU said it was “surprised” at the EU view, and that, despite their investigation, they ‘failed to understand’ the international sports world.  Perhaps they meant to write that the EU  “failed to understand how crooked our international sports world is…”

The smarmy Swiss-based org went on to write that “any allegation that the ISU’s rules are somehow anti-competitive appears to be based on a misplaced understanding of the governance structure of sport and the Olympic movement. A neoliberal and deregulated approach to sport could destroy the Olympic values underpinning sport.”

It’s the same response that insiders always give when challenged with their malfeasance, and it’s always bullshit.  Bodies like ISU and ISAF need to face the fact that their monopolies are ending, and organizations that dedicate their resources to improving the services they offer in a competitive world are going to succeed. Those who stick their fingers in their ears and complain that the government just doesn’t understand them?  Folks who are allergic to transparency and equality?  It’s time to go.

We’ll dedicate an upcoming podcast to the wider-reaching implications of this anti-competition ruling, especially as it effects ISAF’s unfounded attacks on IKFO kiteboarders and the non-transparent and anti-competitive equipment selection process for the next Olympics.  The kiters are in almost the exact position as the Dutch skaters so we’d expect the IKFO to be filing a complaint with the same EU body very soon if they haven’t done it already.  This one is getting good.


September 29th, 2016

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You say you can’t do something? Fuck if you can’t.


September 29th, 2016

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When I was a kid one of the books I read that really captured my imagination was A World of My Own by Robin Knox-Johnston. It was his account of his solo, non-stop voyage around the world aboard his tiny ketch Suhaili. It was true adventure and as a kid all I wanted in my life at that time was adventure. Robin would become the first person in history to sail solo, non-stop around the planet and while I had full admiration for his accomplishment, I was kind of in awe of his boat. Suhaili was 32-foot William Atkins designed double-ender. Photos of the interior showed a tiny cramped cabin with a single burner stove.

Not sure where Robin slept because the boat was loaded with over a thousand tins of food. Yup this was before freeze dried food. Each tin had had the labels removed and was carefully varnished to prevent rust. Suhaili was built out of wood in a carvel planked fashion which in those days was a common way of building boats, but by today’s modern boatbuilding standards Suhaili was not much short of a leaky tub. I was in awe that Robin took the boat the entire way around the planet; Cape Horn included.

Fast forward 30 years. I was minding my own business raising a family when an email dropped into my inbox. The name on the email was Sir Robin Knox Johnston and the subject was “writer needed.”  I was a writer and had been writing about my own sailing experiences as well as about some sailing events, but this particular email was out of the blue. Robin by this time was Sir Robin, knighted for his contribution to sailing and in recognition of his epic circumnavigation. He was also the owner of the Around Alone race, formerly the BOC Challenge. At that time it was the only single-handed around-the-world-race that had stopovers.

rnj3I skimmed his email and smiled to note that he took the time to introduce himself – as if no one had ever heard of him. “We are looking for someone who can tell the story of the race through the eyes of the competitors,” he wrote. “You have been around the world and you can write so I thought we should talk.” I made contact with Robin and the rest is in the rearview mirror, as they say. I was hired to tell the story of the 2002/03 Around Alone Race and it was one of the most fun projects I have been ever been involved in.

For the previous – I am not sure how many years – Suhaili had been housed in a maritime museum on display for all to see, but Robin told me that he had “rescued” the boat from the museum and floated it again. “A boat like that needs to be wet,” he told me. And so Suhaili had been splashed and was in a small marina on the south coast of England. The first leg of the Around Alone went from New York city to Brixham, a seaside town on the south coast of England. I did not put two and two together, but I was soon in for one of the most fun days of my life.

The first Around Alone boat was getting close to the finish line and I was lined up to go out on the media boat to capture the moment. I had my gear ready when Robin stopped by my desk. “Come with me and bring your foulies,” he said, and so I followed him out of our media center to his car. We jumped in and as we took off Robin leaned over. “We are going for a sail.”  He was the boss but I had a job to do and was thinking of protesting when we pulled up alongside a small, wooden double-ender tied up alongside the dock. Suhaili: In the flesh, or rather, in the wood. We were going out for a sail on a boat that I had only read about and dreamed about.

It was just Robin and myself on board. We cast off and motored out of the marina to be greeted by a gentle swell and building breeze. I took the helm while Robin raised the sails and pretty soon we were rail down. The little boat came alive  effortlessly cutting through the chop. It was an extraordinary experience. I never dreamed that I would ever see the boat let alone sail on her and better yet with the big man himself.

Before long we saw the media boat steaming toward us and almost at the same time saw the Around Alone competitor, Bernard Stamm aboard his Open 60 Bobst Group emerging from the haze. It was on the edge of twilight and  the colors were softening. We bore off slightly and headed in the direction of Bobst Group sailing on a course to intercept. It was incongruous. A tiny wooden boat that taken Robin safely around the planet, and a massive carbon fiber IMOCA 60 just starting its trip around the world both powering toward each other. Within moments the Open 60 was alongside, Stamm grinning widely, and then in seconds they rolled by. We eased sails and bounced in Stamm’s wake.

rnj-2By now the sun was almost on the horizon and on shore the lights of Brigham were coming on. It was an incredible experience. Then it got just a little better. With sheets eased the boat sailed effortlessly, the full length keel keeping it on course without the need to helm. Robin slipped down below and shortly returned with a small hip flask. “Gin,” he said. “Take a drink.” I could see Bobst Group about to cross the finish line. I could see the media boat close behind, but I could barely see anything. I am nothing if not a sentimental person and the very fact that I was sailing on board a boat that I had only read about as a kid, with a man I admired  greatly, was one thing.

Maybe it was the sting of the gin hitting my throat that brought the tears, but looking back I am sure it was just the moment. One of those moments aboard a boat that gets seared into your memory.

I am writing about this now because I recently saw some awesome photos of Suhaili out sailing. The photos were taken by my colleague Nic Compton. Suhaili has been completely restored by Robin and the boat looks amazing. Take a look for yourself and just think about it. This little lapstrake double-ender has sailed all the way around the world. That was 50 years ago, back when the world was flat and the edges sharp. It took enormous courage (I think) to get on board, toss the lines ashore, and head toward the horizon.

Robin did it “for Queen and Country” and 312 days later he and Suhaili returned. Quite an adventure by any measure.

- Brian Hancock, pictures thanks to Nic Compton.


September 29th, 2016

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The Finn may be dropped from the Olympic classes. I just won my 6th Polish Champion title and just in case its the last in Finn as an Olympic boat, I wore a suit and said an elegant good bye!  - Piotr Kula.


September 28th, 2016

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We shared the tragic story of John Harrison Doucet, and sadly it has not gotten any better…

Surgeons had to amputate John Harrison Doucet’s right arm above the elbow Monday, his parents told their Gulfport attorney, Joe Sam Owen.

The lifelong sailor, 20, was shocked by an overhead electrical line as he parked his sailboat Sept. 18 at the Gulfport Yacht Club after taking his mother and her sisters on an afternoon sail. He was gripping the boat’s trailer as a cable from the mast touched an overhead power line.

“The arm that they amputated, there had been a great deal of muscle damage and it was obviously a significant problem for him,” said Owen, whom the family notified by email. “The burns are third and fourth degree, which is very serious.”

Owen said muscle from John Harrison’s back also had to be removed because it was so severely damaged. His legs had been amputated after the accident, when he was flown to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Jackson.

Read more here.


September 28th, 2016

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Big Pimpin’

Representing a revolution in concept, the Diam 24 new one design sport boat multihull is seducing its audiences across the world. Why?

Conceived carefully to correspond to the needs of the market – it is an exciting fun modern (strict) one design sport boat multihull that is affordable and technically accessible to a wide audience of both mono and multihull sailors through its innovative design and simplicity.

Well-constructed, the rigid, robust, low maintenance platform gives you the ability to experience high performance multihull thrills in complete safety. Why go slow..?!
The boat is everything you would expect, designed by the renowned Naval Architects VPLP in France; it assembles the best technological developments and innovations of the multihull world over the last 20 years.

Elegant modern design, a two part sleeved Carbon mast, well thought out efficient systems, quality hardware, good sails, solid composite engineering and appropriate construction techniques, (carbon and epoxy where you need it), an electric motor and its delivered complete with all mandatory safety equipment to boot.

It’s no surprise it’s been selected by the Iconic Tour de France a la Voile for its new spectacular “stadium and coastal race” format and is powering forward into the 21st century – rupturing a 36 year run of mono hull participation.
But more than a product it’s a concept. The product is supported by a class organisation and a simple set of easy to apply class rules.

Visit us at Annapolis Boat Show DOCK C – (special offers available). Grab your opportunity – demos by appointment NOW available in the USA – call +1 401 662 7658.


September 28th, 2016

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The monthly World Sailing show may be a relic from another era, but occasionally they stumble upon great stories. Never mind that America’s Cup and VOR video producer Sunset + Vine didn’t bother to use actual Olympic video, instead relying on still images and grainy camera phone for this piece; the story of Santi Lange’s gold medal performance in Rio is perhaps the most compelling in Rio 2016. Over 50 years old and sailing aboard the quickest Olympic boat of all, Santi took an unlikely gold just months after losing part of his lung to cancer.  Lange is one of the kindest and most generous people in all the sport, and his story should inspire all of us.

To read a deeper piece about Lange’s accomplishment, check out the NBC site here.


September 27th, 2016

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While we’re grateful to have support of awesome sponsors throughout the sport, we’re even more grateful when they have real news instead of just press releases!  Just six months after launch, the first in a new line of Morrelli & Melvin designed, high-performance carbon cruising cats proved her racing prowess, with HH-6601 R-Six winning her first regatta! The six-boat fleet gathered at Port Adriano last week for the inaugural Multihull Cup – a new event designed to provide a fun and competitive regatta platform for 50′ and over performance cruising multis. Other participants included three M&M designed Gunboat 66s: Slim, Coco de Mer, and Outnumbered; the Nigel Irens’ custom 78’ Allegra and a 60′ Bañuls’ MC2 Dragon.

Harry Dunning was named the official rating authority by the Multihull Cup organizers; his complex and impartial rating system takes into account weight, waterline and sail area measurements as well as daggerboard and rudder dimensions. The system sees further adjustment each day based on wind conditions and course length as determined by the race committee.

img_7931Racing took place over three gorgeous days, with one race sailed each day. Mostly sunny skies, decent sized wind swell and variable breeze set the tone for an exciting weekend of racing. R-SIX performed strongly each day, finishing third on day one, 12min 34sec behind Allegra and 1min 12sec behind SLIM, third on day two 7min 42sec behind Allegra and 52 sec behind Coco de Mer, and ending the regatta in dominating fashion on day three, taking line honors and finishing 49 sec ahead of Allegra and 5min 55sec ahead of both SLIM and Coco de Mer, who finished within one second of each other. On corrected time, R-SIX placed 1st on day one, 2nd on day two, and 1st on day three.

Aboard were the core crew; the owner and his two permanent crew who’ve been with the boat since it’s arrival in Valencia in June. Four additional crew rounded out the team, including co-designer Gino Morrelli and longtime Anarchist and HH commissioning skipper Chris Bailet. The crew felt their performance throughout the regatta was strong, save for a few tactical and execution errors. Gino surmised that the crew work and tactical calls improved each day, and explained that on day three they seemed to have “found a new gear” and really sailed to their full potential.

The boat itself proved solid, sustaining fewer and less severe breakages than other boats in the fleet. A chafe issue with the Antal line driver on the starboard daggerboard left the board fixed down for much of the race on both day one and day two. Big thanks are owed to rigger Scott, who sailed the regatta as crew on Allegra but worked overtime in the evenings to help address the board issue. Damage reports from the other competitors included a busted hydraulic hose on Allegra, breakages to multiple sails on SLIM, and a busted main halyard on Dragon, among others.

A first place finish amongst a strong fleet of boats that are optimized for performance and well sailed is an obvious testament to the design and build of the HH66. To read Gino’s full race report from each day, head on over to the HH website here, and if you’d like to join in on the mostly uninformed and typically combative banter regarding the event, hit up the Multihull Cup thread in the SA Forums here.

Jesus Renedo photos.

September 27th, 2016

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Fresh off the worst 18 months in ISAF/World Sailing management history, sailing’s governing body continues to search aimlessly for the slightest clue on how to fix its fundamental problems, but it’s hard to have confidence in a body that is likely in November to re-elect the same transparency-challenged, conflict-of-interest-laden Italian who engineered perhaps the worst responses possible to the Rio mess, the Malaysia anti-semitism debacle, and the America’s Cup. 

Yep – you heard is right.  Carlo Croce is somehow running for President again, and to guarantee his win, he’s hired the same multi-million-dollar PR and lobbying firm working to get Paris the 2024 Olympics and pushing for another Italian to take over FIFA.  Croce apparently believes he will be remembered not for feces and body parts on the race course in Rio or for Jewish sailors having to hide their nationality at an ISAF Youth World Championship, but for the wild success of the newly reimagined Sailing World Cup.  You know – that regatta that literally a few thousand people in the entire world pay attention to for 3 years out of every four?  Yeah, that’s the one.  As the only regatta that ISAF World Sailing actually owns, management has decided it’s time to try to build some revenue out of it…and the result is a little bizarre.

One of the oldest sailors to ever win an Olympic medal – and an Italian guy who builds Olympic boats, coaches sailors at the highest level, and knows Croce well – weighs in on the new plans for the new Sailing World Cup.  Read it and then let the folks at your MNA know you want them to vote for this guy instead.  Now, to Luca:

luca-devoti-finnLooks like World Sailing, completely overwhelmed by the Rio Olympics has lost contact with the sport’s reality. This Sailing World Cup needs to be completely rewritten. Andy Hunt, if you really don’t how to come up with something better than this, please feel free to contact us, we will help you.

Sailing needs events, we need to race and we need to know where, when and what to sail. Maybe World Sailing CEO Andy Hunt, doesn’t know the big rule of communication…

One of our Dinghy Academy sailors commented: “And… by the way… we can’t tell you exactly when and where the Sailing World Cup events will be. We will continue to impose drastic fleet size quotas (because that worked really well this last quad…), and we won’t tell you if your class will be in Tokyo until sometime next spring… But show up anyway, guys… And if you are a sailing venue, go ahead and bid for the privilege…”.

What is wrong in this proposed “non World Cup”? First of all, majority of sailors are not loaded with money, so very few of them, in reality not even one, will committ and take part in all the requested events. They simply do not have the budget.

Our Comment: “We need more events and discards and a grand final. Aussie plus some sailing in Melbourne. Canadian plus some sailing CORK in Kingston, American and even more than some in Miami, and the usual european circuit: Palma, Hyeres, Medemblick, Kiel and Garda, with max four counters for example. No limited entry, open and happy, sailing is our passion, sharing a drink with the mates, discussing the races a pleasure second to none. Sailing is a social sport”.

September 27th, 2016

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Dave and Steve Clark’s UFO foiler is moving incredibly fast, the unique catamaran already finding a reputable US-based production shop and deposits already starting to flow.  Meanwhile, with the Clark’s opting not to produce a bespoke trailer for the 90-pound boat, the biggest question on anyone’s mind turns out to be ‘how do I transport this thing?”

Project manager Dave Clark took the time to actually answer the question in an extremely comprehensive form that applies to any small dinghy looking for wheels, but papa Steve isn’t known for his patience, and he penned our ‘answer of the week’ in the thread.

It just hovers there. You pull it behind the car with a light piece of string tied to the mast step.
We were considering powerful magnets as the coupling device because it was much cooler than the bit of string, but a passing semi truck ripped the boat out of our magnetic field and the boat floated into an underpass where it attached itself to the steel I beams.
Turned into a hell of a mess, we had to stop traffic in both directions while Dave tried to lasso the rudder gantry with a bit of Rooster Braid (which sucks as a lariat).  Traffic ended up backed up for a few miles and the cops weren’t amused. Particularly when we mentioned Alien Technology. They called Homeland Security, and because it was a first reporting of a new kind of threat, we had to go down to the station and answer questions for 48 hours while they played Donny and Marie songs at us.
Didn’t think something as simple as move a boat would get so complex.  Maybe if we had just tied it down to something with wheels like thousands have done in the past…

September 26th, 2016

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