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Has some of the true adventure been lost from modern day ocean racing? My first long offshore race was the Parmelia Race, a 13,000 mile jaunt from England to Australia. Nothing compares with rolling through the Southern Ocean trying to snatch a sun sight after five days of grey skies knowing that you are fast approaching the coast of Western Australia, but not really sure where you are. It was 1979 and the only way we could communicate with the outside world was to patch a single-sideband call through Portishead Radio in England. All we had for entertainment was the BBC World Service which we wired through to a cockpit speaker and listened to the evening news, or on Sunday nights a radio drama. Those we heady times for a 21 year old kid who grew up landlocked in South Africa.

So it was with great interest that I read about the Golden Globe Race being managed by long time solo sailor and adventurer Don McIntyre. Don competed in the 1990-91 BOC Challenge Solo Around the World Race at a time when the race was still an event for those seeking pure adventure rather than the competitive, professional event that it became. A sailing adventure, by my definition, attracts social misfits, renegades, loners and those running from ex-wives and/or the government and the early single-handed races attracted their fair share of all of the above.

The first Golden Globe race was held in 1968/69. It was the first ever solo non-stop race around the world and was won by Robin Knox-Johnston in his leaky double-ender Suhaili. Robin’s circumnavigation was pure adventure; over three hundred days eating canned food, no communication with the outside world except for a brief rendezvous off Tasmania to exchange mail, catching rainwater to survive,
and receiving a hero’s welcome when he returned to England. Now McIntyre wants to recreate that event on the 50th anniversary of Knox-Johnston’s circumnavigation, and he wants the race to have the same look and feel of the original. I love the idea.

In order to make the Golden Globe Race as authentic as possible McIntyre has a list of do’s and dont’s. For starters your boat must be “designed prior to 1988 with a full-length keel with rudder attached to their trailing edge.” That rules out most boats, but I am sure there are plenty of oldies but goodies out there with a lap of the planet left in them. The boat must be fiberglass, have a minimum design displacement of 6,200kg, and a hull length of between 32ft and 36ft.

Competitors have to navigate with a sextant, use paper charts (can you still get paper charts?), hand write their log books, and hand steer or use a wind vane. No powered auto pilots permitted. There are plenty of other rules including no outside assistance and one requirement that I think is quite clever. All sailors will be required to make a mandatory rendezvous off Tasmania in the same bay where Knox-Johnston stopped to make repairs to his boat. They will sail through a “gate” at which point the clock will stop, they will meet with the Race Director and media and hand over film and photos, but they may not take anything on board and definitely may not receive assistance in any way, by anyone. The clock will restart when they pass through the “gate” a second time.

McIntyre expects that he will get 25 entrants, the maximum allowed. He has received interest from 48 sailors in 15 countries, most of whom have been drawn to the race because of its simplicity and authenticity. This email from one potential competitor sums it up for all potential competitors. He wrote, “What I love about this race (apart from it solidifying a dream long held) is that you’ve created something that the average sailing person worldwide (with commitment) can compete in. It is therefore truly an open race as it is not open in class but truly ‘open to all’.”

I would love to enter but don’t think I have it in me anymore. I have been too spoiled. There were some answers that I didn’t see on the race website. I wonder if you can have modern foul weather gear. Clothing has come a long way since the days of oil skins (canvas coated with multiple applications of linseed oil sometimes finished with a layer of paint.) How about my iPad? Just for reading and music of course and are competitors required to eat a certain amount bully beef (spam) just for authenticity. I don’t know the answers, but look forward to following the race. Oh, and one last thing, Don McIntyre will compete in his own event. Now that’s commitment. – Brian Hancock. Check out his excellent blog.

 

July 30th, 2015

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The Royal Yacht Squadron celebrates their 200th anniversary with some big boat racing this week, something that might go unnoticed if it weren’t for Mark Lloyd’s eye for detail and impeccable timing.  The exclusive, absolutely spellbinding shot above of George David’s Rambler 88 is his gift to the Anarchists; check out the gallery here.

 

July 30th, 2015

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Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 10.41.09 AMFor almost two years we have been railing against the ridiculous state of affairs at Rio’s Olympic sailing venue, but official reactions from ISAF, the IOC and pretty much every other organization with an interest has been to plunge their heads deeply into sand.  We’ve wondered how long they could go on without meaningful action, but a report published today may change all that.

Despite multiple reports that Rio 2016 officials have already failed on the ‘guarantee’ they made on the water quality of the olympic sailing and rowing venues for the 2016 games, local politicians are still disputing the science with bullshit stunts like this one, and credibility challenged statements like last month’s from Rio2016 organizing committee spokesman Mario Andrada.  Adrada said that Rio would “guarantee safe competition and we will guarantee the health of the athletes,” although it’s pretty clear that a guarantee from the Rio2016 Committee is worth about as much as a bucketfull of the shit at the water’s edge in Guanabara.  And remember: They’ve already told us there’s no way in hell they’ll change the venue to a safer one…because dustbuster boats.

While the questionable value of Rio2016′s ‘guarantees’ is fairly obvious, quantifiable scientific data on just how nasty the water is was not; most national teams funded their own independent water quality tests, but judging from the official zeal with which those test results were guarded, there was some shit in there that no team wanted the public to see.

Those guarding the results have just learned what happens when you’re a little too good at hiding the truth, because the Associated Press got motivated enough to find the truth to spend a small fortune on it.

AP commissioned four rounds of testing in each of the three Olympic water venues and off Ipanema Beach.  Their summary? “Not one water venue [is] safe for swimming or boating, according to global water experts.”

Multiple national officials over the past year have told us that their investigations were ‘inconclusive’ or ‘showed manageable levels’ or some other crock of shit designed to avoid making waves, so it was surprising to see such unquestionable lab results from the AP tests, which:

found high counts of active and infectious human adenoviruses, which multiply in the intestinal and respiratory tracts of people. These are viruses that are known to cause respiratory and digestive illnesses, including explosive diarrhea and vomiting, but can also lead to more serious heart, brain and other diseases.

The concentrations of the viruses in all tests were roughly equivalent to that seen in raw sewage — even at one of the least-polluted areas tested, the Copacabana Beach, where marathon and triathlon swimming will take place and where many of the expected 350,000 foreign tourists may take a dip.

Perhaps most importantly, the test results viral discoveries call into question all national teams’ strategies of disease prevention.  Basically, you’re going to get sick if you spend any amount of time in the water or catching spray.  From the report:

Kristina Mena, a U.S. expert in risk assessment for waterborne viruses, examined the AP data and estimated that international athletes at all water venues would have a 99 percent chance of infection if they ingested just three teaspoons of water — though whether a person will fall ill depends on immunity and other factors…Viruses can enter the body through the mouth, eyes, any orifice, or even a small cut.

The certainty of infection, and the risk of much nastier bugs they didn’t test for, creates a new problem for every official associated with the event; they can no longer claim that death/disease/complications/infection wasn’t foreseeable for their competitors.  And under the laws of quite a few nations, that means they may be liable in court if and when the shit hits the fan.  SA’s Legal Research Department isn’t sure whether this liability could extend to the directors or CEOs of national sailing teams, but if there’s one thing that can motivate action when even concern for the health and safety of competitors can’t, it’s the threat of multimillion dollar lawsuits.

One of the few good eggs at ISAF – Head of Competitions Alastair Fox – made some noise about moving the venue back in April, but was quickly silenced.  Will Alastair or anyone else at ISAF have the balls to do something about it, especially now that they are properly on notice about just how bad it is?

Read the full report here, and send the IOC your thoughts via email.

Thread here.

July 30th, 2015

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First there was moth.  Then AC72.  Then C-Cat.  Then there was GC32, then SL33, FP, FCS20, Stiletto, that orange scow thing, and the hits keep on coming.  What do they all have in common?  You aren’t going to race across the ocean in one.

That changes today, because the first ocean-ready racing foiler is now flying (with apologies to the floating museum that is Hydroptère). Spend a minute with the modified Mod70 Edmond de Rothschild with L-foil and T-ruddered joy in her first-flight video above to see what’s coming, and if you like this, just wait til you see the 105′ foiling singlehanded Macif and the even more extreme Banque Populaire behind her in a few months.

 

July 30th, 2015

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Kelly Johnson of Windsor Ontario preparing to start the 2015 Bayview Port Huron to Mackinaw Race aboard her vintage Viking 28 Shenanigans. She went on to win the double handed class and finish 18th out of 100 overall.

 

July 29th, 2015

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post-20188-0-05869000-1437896549Who says beach cats can’t race offshore?  Randy Miller’s M32 catamaran horizoned the 100-ish NM Santa Barbara to King Harbor fleet this weekend, beating Bill Gibbs 52-foot cat Afterburner by almost three hours and the first monohull – a TP52 – by almost two and a half. Here’s Randy’s report, from the thread.

We deployed our gennaker right from the start and that kept us moving through the glass at 6-8kts but at least 15 degrees lower than most everyone else.  We made two short miserable tacks back to the fleet through about 120 degrees and then made up our minds that we needed to just keep the boat moving down the course, sail our own race, and that patience and perseverance would win the day.  Credit to our most excellent navigator. So we followed the beach with the gennaker up trying to sail as tight as we could without parking the boat and waiting for the pressure to build and clock North.  It finally happened at around 14:30.  The wind began filling in and clocking North and we got lifted right up to the West end of Anacapa doing 12-15kts close reaching in the light but building breeze.

Near Anacapa we saw a ton of wildlife.  Several whales, a large pod of dolphins, seals jumping out of the water, big fish jumping out of the water.  All very cool to see.

On the back side of Anacapa the wind was steady and mostly West with still some South I think so no lee off of Santa Cruz Island.  We bore away around Anacapa but stayed on Starboard for another 45 minutes making 17-18kts with great VMG towards King Harbor.  Then we gybed in for Malibu and slowly accelerated up to 20-22kts.  We had to gybe twice to clear a freighter in the channel but kept on building speed until we blasted by Pt Dume doing 24-25kts.

From Pt. Dume we had just about a perfect layline all the way into King Harbor that allowed us to come up at the end into the fading breeze to keep the speed on all the way to the bell buoy.

Even with 150lbs of extra safety gear and a painful start, we kept the boat moving and had a blast sailing 97.7 miles at an average speed through the water of 13.4kts.  We had a great crew that sailed well and stayed focused for the whole day.  This after 3 straight days of loading, and trailering, and building, and launching, and staging vehicles and driving around LA.  What a mission! Thanks guys.

This was my first mid-distance race on the boat and it was a fantastic experience.  I can’t wait to do more.  Hopefully the ORCA guys didn’t mind us playing in their sandbox.  Thank you ORCA for helping me satisfy the safety requirements for the race.  Santa Barbara and the whole coast and waters were absolutely beautiful.

post-20188-0-33745100-1437892996The only negative was getting a call from the race committee this morning delivering the infuriating news that one of the TP52s (guess which one) lodged a protest against us saying they were “sure [I] didn’t complete the proper course in the Santa Barbara race and should withdraw.”  And that I “should have rounded Anacapa Island.”

I replied by providing my GPS track.  This satisfied the race committee but not these guys because according to them, “not one person in the fleet saw [us] round Anacapa Island.”  Apparently, the mind cannot comprehend that inshore and in coastal waters an M32 beach cat crushes a TP52 lead mine all day long.

Despite the annoyance of managing the protest today I still managed to take my wife, uncle, and 93-year-old grandpa for a joyride out of Marina Del Rey and get down to King Harbor for the party and to pick up my winning silver octopus cupcake stand trophy.  Good times!

 

July 28th, 2015

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OCEANS-CHASE-08-master1050Even the most corporate-raiding sailor still considers himself something of a conservationist; the time we all spend amongst nature’s beauty means we pay more attention than most to the problems facing our natural world.  But to the overwhelming majority of sailors, seamanship and respect for other vessels is at least as powerful as our love of nature, which is why there’s such a love/hate relationship between sailors and the activists at Sea Shepherd.

Here at SA, we are overwhelmgly in favor of what they do. If world governments took more responsibility for the stewardship of our oceans, there wouldn’t be a need for the Sea Shaepards, but they aren’t, so we can thank this intrepid organization for their incredible efforts.

We don’t need to get too deep into who they are; the Whale Wars show and this story show just how agitating Paul Watson and his groupies can be.

New York Times Correspondent Ian Urbina shared a brilliant story this morning that shows the other side of the organization, though – the side that stands up for those who cannot.  It’s a story of a ten thousand mile chase through squalls, storms, and the Southern Ocean.  The cast of characters includes ships named after a Simpsons creator and a game show host and the world’s most wanted pirate fishing captain, and it all ends with a mysterious sinking and the hunters rescuing the hunted.  We’re not even going to give you an excerpt; the article is the single best piece of maritime journalism we’ve seen this year, so go over to the NYT site and check it out right now.

Photo from Simon Ager/Sea Shepherd Global. Title inspiration comes from the realization that a good song can become great when sung by a hot sailing chick.

 

July 28th, 2015

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Mini sailor on board “roll my chicken” the prototype 679, I am preparing the Mini Transat and also having fun with this fabulous machine.  We had fun last week end in La Rochelle (France) and made this video, a tribute to the performance of Alex Thomson and a good exercise for me and two young film makers. I hope you will enjoy it!  - Anarchist Vincent.

 

July 27th, 2015

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Next time ACEA tell you they’ve got China – ask them what they actually have. They will probably tell you they have CCTV5. This is ‘China Central Television Channel 5′

What they actually have is CCTV5+ which is an internet channel not normal terrestrial TV. This is viewed by 2 and a half people. Sorry, big country so probably a few more than that but (and I do know a few of the sailors in China) I only received one contact about the coverage and it wasn’t complimentary.

This event – from ALL the feedback I have seen – on SA, on blogs, even comments from serious experienced professional racer Facebook friends is that this clearly was NOT a success and it wasn’t to do with the weather. heavy handed stewards on the land, 4 pounds 50 for some chips and 3 quid for a cup of tea? someone’s making a lot of money! and on the water a viewing area that really required binoculars.

Well it was partly to do with the weather but if you have boats so pumped up they cannot sail when it is blowing hard what can you expect.

We can only be fans of so many events but having followed Volvo around the world, surely if ACEA wanted a clue or some little smidgen of an idea how to cover a yacht race they only need to check out the footage coming from Alicante. While they don’t have room for an OBR I am sure a couple of Go-pros or remote cams on a foiling cat wouldn’t slow it down too much and certainly give a better perspective to those watching on the app or TV – Oops sorry, App not available outside the US, glad I didn’t get my credit card out then.

Exciting catamaran racing – let me see. Yep, I think I shall just stick to the eXtreme 40s. As mentioned they are long in the tooth but exciting, a bit crash and burn at times, can capsize without bringing tears to the accountants and are not afraid of a few knots of breeze. Title inspiration thanks to The Normal.

See ya on the water.
Shanghai Sailor

 

July 27th, 2015

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Here’s what the morning revealed from our Surreal Hawaii post from yesterday…

 

July 27th, 2015

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