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There has not been any other sailboat class that has sparked as much innovation as Classe Mini, the class association behind the Mini 6.50 sailboats. These tiny yachts are on the cutting edge of sailboat design and have been since the class was first introduced in 1977. Take for example the Mini Eight Cube which will be skippered by the Swiss sailor Simon Koster in the upcoming Mini Transat which starts on October 1. Koster was one of the first to go with the blunt scow-like bow rather than a conventional bow and the boat proved to be super fast in all conditions except upwind in light winds. While there is plenty of balls-to-the-wall downwind sailing in the Mini Transat there is also quite a bit of light upwind sailing and that led to a seventh place finish for Koster two years ago.

Two years can be a lifetime when it comes to sailboat design and trends come and go. Most recently the trend has been toward foiling and many of the new Mini’s have foils which allow the boats to fly well above the water. It’s unreal to see some of the footage of these boats ripping it along completely out of the water. Eight Cube was one of the first to be equipped with foils but Koster has reversed direction and ditched the foils replacing them with daggerboards.  “Changes have been made to increase performance, perfect the design and improve preparation,” he said. “The foils have been replaced by daggerboards, and the boat has been lightened and simplified.”

One of the skippers who opted to keep his foils is Quentin Vlamynck, skipper of the Mini 6.50 Arkema 3. The foils extend out of the side of the boat and make a sharp upward turn with the first part of the foil proving lift and the upward part acting as a kind of daggerboard to stop the boat from slipping sideways. One of the bigger innovations on Arkema 3 is its wing mast that looks and works in a similar manner to the wing masts on the Americas Cup catamarans except that the mast is not solid. The front section is a foil structure covered in fabric. The sail hinges at around the midpoint and the aft section is a full batten main. The sail hinges at the battens with the battens from the front section lining up with the battens of the back end. These are just two examples among many of the ways that Classe Mini is leading the way and pushing the barriers of yacht design. Those charged with coming up with a new class of yacht for the next Americas Cup would do well to talk to some of the young designers behind many of the new Mini 6.50s.

The next Mini Transat starts from the port city of La Rochelle on the west coast of France on October 1 and the first leg goes to Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, a distance of 1,350 nautical miles. It’s usually a struggle to get across the Bay of Biscay, a difficult stretch of water on a good day, but not fun as the early winter gales start to sweep in from the Atlantic. Once around the northwest coast of Spain the fleet will pick up the Portuguese Trades and have a ripping ride to the Canaries. After recouping and rebuilding the fleet will set off for Martinique in the Caribbean some 2,700 miles away. While on paper the second half looks to be the easier part of the  race, it’s often as much of a challenge as the first leg. In late October the Trade Winds start to blow long and strong and it’s a razors edge ride as the skippers pile on as much sail area as they can to get an edge. Most of the Mini 6.50s carry massive asymmetrical spinnakers set from extra long bowsprits say nothing of the boats flying out of the water. One can only wonder what it’s like to sail at those speeds, on such a small boat, at night when squall activity picks up.

The 2017 Mini Transat has attracted 81 sailors of which 11 are women. The bulk of the sailors, 54 to be exact, come from France with the rest from across Europe. Sadly there are no entrants from either the UK or the USA. This most iconic of all sailing events barely hits the radar screen of American sailors which is a bit sad because the race is an awesome show of innovation, perseverance and sheer guts. You can bet that it’s a challenge to sail all the way from France to the Caribbean on a boat that is four feet smaller than a J-24.

– Brian Hancock

 

September 21st, 2017

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Big Pimpin’

It was only a year ago that the HH66 was introduced to the luxury performance catamaran market; since then activity both in the boatyard and on the racecourse has been frenetic. The potential this boat showed in the design brochures and renderings from Morrelli & Melvin is translating into reality, with outstanding performance, reliability and, most importantly, customer satisfaction.

HH66 hull no1, R-SIX, which was delivered to Valencia in June 2016 and promptly set out to sea, cruising as far east as Cyprus, was put on display to an admiring crowd at the Cannes Yachting Festival, and then attended the inaugural edition of the Multihull Cup Regatta in Mallorca. Sailing in a competitive class of more seasoned peers, including Coco de Mer, Slim and Nigel Irens’ custom 78 Allegra, R-SIX pounced on the challenge, finishing in first place overall.

In January this year R-SIX crossed the Atlantic in time to shift from cruising to racing mode for the Caribbean 600, where light winds prevailed for much of the 600-mile course. With gourmet food and plush accommodation, R-SIX raced in comfort and finished third behind two rather less commodious MOD70s – not a bad result.

She then competed in the St Maarten Heineken Regatta in March, defeating all three 60-footers in class and coming in second overall behind the nimbler, seven-ton, custom-built Bieker 53 Fujin.

Read on.

Title thanks to legendary Steely Dan.

 

September 21st, 2017

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Five 12-metres damaged in the Caribbean. Most were dismasted. And as you can see in the photo, Stars and Stripes sitting submerged in the bay on it swing keel. Check it.

 

September 21st, 2017

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We like this post from our epic Forums.

Decided it’s time to update the sails on our cruising 40’er and have been getting some initial quotes on lower end of the composite range. Race the boat most weekends along with mostly shorter cruising trips to favourite anchorages and a longer coastal cruise every couple of years.

Divided the process into 3 areas, service, price and product/performance.

For service, have relied on recommendations and then initial local contact impression from the lofts. So far, all pretty much equal, the lofts are prompt in answering questions and providing advice, inviting me to come and look at their products, lots of information.

Price. So far, pretty even with Norths 3Di Nordac being a bit cheaper than the others I’ve got (Quantum Fusion MC4000 and OneSails Forte 110C). Have also requested UK x-drive. I haven’t pressed on price yet. Will probably choose from these 4 as they come recommended and am happy with initial discussions. More quotes will just add to the confusion.

Product. Yep, each says theirs is best for my needs/budget and explains why. This is where I lose it, how do you compare? How do you choose? Each says their manufacturing process is the best, their materials etc etc. Read the brochures and get more confused. Is there much of a difference in what I’m looking at or am I just over complicating it?

Anyone been down this path with the same dilemma?

Jump in.

 

September 21st, 2017

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Hometown Cleveland teams getting a briefing before a high school regatta on Sunday. First ever event @Foundry216, Cleveland’s first community sailing center!

 

September 20th, 2017

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Last year’s challenge with the China Club Challenge Match, or Club Cup as it is affectionately known was that 48 hours prior to the event, the largest tropical storm of the year, (statistics later showed it was the most powerful storm anywhere in 2016) made a direct hit on Xiamen, the venue for the event.
4 of the boats due to be used in the boat were sunk or dismasted along with many others.

To this day I am still amazed that they managed to pull it off and every entrant had a race ready boat on the morning of the first day and that was for 30 teams.
Two days out from the event this year the exact opposite appears to be the case. The forecast for the whole event looks to be light and fluky. With the tides being close to the Equinox as a further test, sailors wind sniffing skills will be at a premium.

The event, in its 13th iteration – making it comfortably the oldest regatta of significance in China and as it is only for Chinese sailors and/or teams has a special significance (note the absence of the word “international” in the event name).

It started rather ingloriously as a challenge between Ironrock Sailing Club, Xiamen and Zhuhai Sailing Club in two beat up J24s and has grown over the years in size, stature and most certainly quality both off the water and of course that shown by the teams on the water. Many years at a de-briefing session, one of the umpires mentioned that a dial up had never been seen at the event and the mechanics were explained on the whiteboard – next morning there were 6. They learn fast in China!

Only two people have been involved in every event. One Wei Jing, known affectionately as ‘The Captain’ had an interesting experience many years ago. He took a photographer from the local newspaper out sailing to get some shots for the paper when the fog came down. Strong tides off Xiamen but also off Xiamen is an off-lying island that is part of Taiwan – just 1,500m off the Chinese coast and you guessed it, they ran aground on Jimen (Taiwan).

With the photographers fancy cameras the Taiwanese authorities were suspicious and The Captain spent (I am told) some 3 months in a Taiwanese prison as a spy until the matter could be cleared up. Even if it is just scuttlebutt it is a great story but I am assured it is 100% true. No such worries this weekend! Back to the event!

The quality of officials has also had to be raised to meet the sailors growing expectations. In the early days it was knowledgeable, experienced sailors who took to the water with the flags. These days there are two International Umpires on the water for the event with this year’s finals being umpired by 3 IUs and an NU – no place to hide.

Perhaps an unusual format with the first stint of racing being in a fleet with on the water judging using Addendum Q – the same rules as Olympic Medal Races – and with an entry list pushing 50 the umpires will need to keep their eyes out of the boat, that’s for sure.

The top eight teams from the fleet racing return 1 month later for the match racing element which starts off with a round robin. This event regularly puts in 20+ races a day during the match racing – long enough for the sailors but spare a thought for the umpires who are out there EVERY race.

Updates will follow as time allows. – Shanghai Sailor.

 

 

September 20th, 2017

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So after giving this some thought, I’ve decided not to pursue the SWYC issue.  No protest, no legal action. Nada. It’s clear some people there hate me and I don’t see them changing anytime soon. Life is too short to battle with people who seemingly have almost no idea what they are doing.

Let them continue to run their crappy race. The number of entries says plenty about what people think of their race.

There’s really nothing more to it than that, it’s just time to move on. – ed.

 

September 20th, 2017

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We think the war on drugs is perhaps the biggest US policy failure ever. That this is what we send the Coast Guard to do is an insult to what their real mission should be. Thousands and thousands of people are jailed, families torn apart, while billions and billions of dollars have been and continue to be pissed away. The result? Almost exactly the same drug use percentage by American citizens now as when this disastrous policy was enacted decades ago.

In a ceremony in San Diego on Wednesday, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton offloaded an impressive 50,500 pounds of cocaine onto the pier. The drugs were captured in 25 interdictions in the eastern Pacific by the cutters Stratton, James, Dependable and Steadfast and the destroyer USS Chafee.

The ceremony capped off a record-setting fiscal year for drug seizures at sea. All in all, the USCG has captured cocaine shipments totaling to 455,000 pounds since last October, edging out last year’s record amount by roughly six tons. This year’s final number could be higher, as there is still one week left before FY2018 begins.

Read on.

 

September 20th, 2017

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“Hey look, those guys capsized…never mind.”

 

September 20th, 2017

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Proving that some people are not only small-minded and vindictive, but they also behave in ways that go against the corinthian nature of our sport. Is this really the pony that SWYC wants to bet on? Is this really the kind of publicity they want their club to get?

I guess the answer is yes. Perhaps they have not heard the saying, “be careful what you wish for.”

This morning I woke to this e-mail:

Mr.  Tempesta,

 As per the letter we sent you dated February 15 of this year, we are rejecting your entry to the Little Ensenada Race. The letter stated that we are rejecting any entry by you or the boat “Anarchy” for the year 2017.

Peter Blake, Little Ensenada Race Chair

One has to wonder how an entire yacht club can be driven by just a couple – if not one – members in doing something like this. Well, I am done wondering.

Today I have begun putting together not only a protest against SWYC, and a letter of complaint to US Sailing, I am consulting with an attorney to evaluate what, if any, legal options I may have.

I am done tolerating their bullshit. – ed.

 

September 20th, 2017

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