Long distance challenges are always something that get me excited, particularly in offshore, short-handed configuration. My first significant ocean experience was competing with a prototype in the 2005 Mini Transat, racing single-handed from France to Brazil, where I got to know fellow competitor and Slovenian skipper, Andraz Mihelin. Having helped develop the new Seascape27 yacht, and an opportunity arose with him to take on the double-handed class of the world’s oldest and longest annual freshwater events, the Chicago – Mackinac.
Not only would we be competing in the double-handed division, something we hadn’t done since the Mini Fastnet 2006, but it would also be interesting to get behind the tiller of this little lightweight rocketship. Being the smallest boat in a fleet of 300, you can’t exactly consider racing for line honours, but our objectives were to win the double-handed division and find out what a serious US Regatta is generally all about.
Logistics for this race were not commonplace, and raised quite a few eyebrows from members of the Chicago Yacht Club. I flew from in the UK, Andraz from Slovenia, and the owner Svein Hubinette brought the boat from Lake Champlain, some 900 miles away! Needless to say we were one of only a few oversees entries.
Our double-handed division was first to start, and in very light reaching conditions the J29 “Relentless” in our class, headed off with very similar speed. It became immediately apparent that a class win was not going to be as straight forward as we’d hoped, particularly as we had to complete the race 10% quicker than the J29 in order to win on corrected time.
For the first half of the course we followed our routing strategy up the west side of the lake, staying close to the Wisconsin (west) coast, which we hoped would give us more pressure by avoiding the centre of a mini high in the lake. As well as taking advantage of the increased gradient and thermal enhancement on the coast, we were also hoping to put ourselves nicely west before the wind shifted to the south, in order to give us a good angle of approach to the Islands of Manitous at the top of the lake.
This strategy didn’t exactly turn out to be a ‘slamp-dunk’, with a large proportion of the fleet opting to instead follow the rhumb line, with a reasonable level of success, finding more wind in the middle of the lake than forecast.
One unique feature of this racecourse which we hadn’t noticed in the guidebook was the severe quantities of flies on the lake. Whenever the wind was below about 15 knots, swarms would descend on the boat, and always seemed find an area to bite into that you’d missed with insect repellent. However their bites did have the advantage of keeping you awake when you were just starting to drifting off at the helm , a common problem when short-handing it.
Inevitably when sailing double-handed you have to sacrifice quite a lot of sleep. We had a very basic autopilot and so where driving the whole time, changing every two hours. By the time the person off-helm had done navigation, helped with manoeuvers, sail changes and also found time to eat, there wasn’t really time for more than 3-4 hours of sleep in every 24.
For eating during the race we took a Jetboil for a stove, mounted in a gimballed frame for cooking hot pasta meals. It wasn’t until we started the race however that we realised it didn’t have a self ignition system, unlike all the ones we’d used previously, and that neither of us had brought a lighter. So we had to wave goodbye to any chance of a hot meal, tea or coffee, and instead ate cereal the whole race, which fortunately we’d brought quite a lot of.
The last few hours of the race saw the wind increase to 20-22 knots, and the boat really came into its own and enabled us to start doing some serious overtaking. Being a light and very stable design, a fractional a0 for reaching conditions gave us some impressive average boat speeds of 14 to 15 kts, which just showed how much power this boat can harness. Wind gusts are turned into rapid forward acceleration instead of just heel, which is a sensation that brings a serious smile to your face if you are lucky enough to be driving. That’s us hauling us thanks to Boatpix.
The Isle of Mackinac is an interesting place to finish a race to say the least. Cars are banned on the streets and instead, horse and carts fill the main roads, with beautiful greens and mansions watch over the main harbour – not to mention the colossal Grant Hotel where the race party was held. It was like a fantasy island from the past that had been frozen in time for the last 100 years, and presented an extreme and refreshing alternative to the skyscrapers of Chicago we had left behind. Perhaps aside from the very pungent smell of horse urine that also floated around the streets.
Being an ORR race, we of course had to wait for our result to come through on corrected time, and were happy to hear that we had finished in first place, just 12 minutes ahead of the J29. This was particularly satisfying based on the fact we’d been sitting in second for most of the race.
With this mission accomplished, it’s now back to Europe to continue work on my Vendee Globe campaign. I’m particularly excited to be developing some innovative new concepts for a new IMOCA 60, including a zero-emissions energy systems that must be totally regenerative, but also very light. But before I leave this country I must first check out the lights of Chicago – it would be rude not to.
Some facts of interest about our race:
Fastest average speed over 100m: 14.68 kts
Fastest instantaneous speed: 15.4 kts
1st in Double-handed division
43rd out of 317 in overall ORR results
July 23rd, 2014
The Snapper Report
We started racing the Europeans on Monday after a fantastic British Open Regatta on Friday and Saturday. All hopes were for much of the same as long as you didn’t spend any time looking at the weather info.
After a 6+ hour delay we finally raced on Monday and got two races in. The PRO, feeling the pressure to get the fleet sailing had us up against the cliffs in a heavily slanted course that even after a weather mark change became a parade.
Aboard US 83, Llanoria, we had what we thought was a stellar day. Taking a close second to Matt Brooks’ Lucie in race one (later to move into first after a Lucie DSQ) and winning the second race only to find out when we hit the dock that we were scored OCS, along with the other US boat, Flapper.
Being over early is a part of yacht racing, we all know that. However, the fact that the RC has chosen to not hail over OCS boats, even when there are only apparently two of them who were quickly identified, is pretty ridiculous, I was told that at ‘prestigious regattas boats are not hailed’. Apparently, we have not attended a prestigious regatta before. Our opinion is that in an era of more inclusive RC radio communication, hailing over early boats needs to be done, especially when it’s only a couple of boats. The RC representatives gave us their reasons, which we respect, and also understand that nothing will change for this regatta.
After no racing yesterday, at the competitors briefing this morning we were told to head out in a blistering 2 knot southerly, turn right for three miles and get ready for what we have named the ‘Lizard Nudge’. Well, we got to the race area, known as Race Area Barf (not on the charts) and proceeded to roll wildly in no wind and six foot swells for a couple of hours. At one point, we were planning to go by the RC boat and do a synchronized crew vomit to let them know that this was really not working for us, especially after a night at The Chain Locker.
Instead, we threw the anchor out and held fast. This seemed like a good tactic applauded by Rod Davis on the Sophie 2 support boat and one several clueless boats who just drifted towards the rocks decided not to do. They were later rescued because hoisting sails to get your boat off the rocks is simply not the done thing.
The fleet was finally moved into smoother water and then sent back into the harbor while the RC bravely sat by Black Rock watching the multitude of occluded puffs and cluster chop filter in and out.
We were in a convoy with Flapper’s Protector, Flapper, us, and the very Canadian team on Blade Runner. Instead of opting to go back into the harbor we dropped anchor in Shag Bay to have lunch. This was one of the highlights of our week as we got to witness one of the only sports the British do well in, apart from sailing: Snogging.
Yes, we got to watch top shelf, elderly snogging and were wondering if there was a Benidorm division featuring the best orange tan. Either way, it helped pass the time.
We then headed into the harbor only to be told to get the Feock out to the race course. Off we went and to the PRO’s credit, it did look like we were going to actually get a race in, briefly. However, it quickly died and any hopes for a race were dashed..
There are a number of support boats for this event. RC boats and tenders for probably 6-8 boats. The race committee asked that these boats help with towing the fleet when needed. When the RC finally abandoned racing for the day one team stood out – Scoundrel One. They worked their way away from the fleet and then hooked up to their tender and left the course offering assistance to no one. They win the award for worst and most unsportsmanlike team at the event and they must be very proud. I was hoping the RC would mention this in the morning but figure having a million people read what selfish knob heads these guys are will make them and other tender drivers think about their actions. Congrats, Scoundrel One, on your first Snapper Award.
We are hoping for some breeze tomorrow and Friday (the extra race day) and that the RC are planning to run as many races as they can and not yield to social events pressure. We came here to race and given two days of nothing, the competitors, and I’m sure the PRO Chris Hadden will want to have a successful event with the maximum races as possible. Fingers crossed for breeze! The awesome photo thanks to Dana E. Olsen.
July 23rd, 2014
Created by the team of wing designer from France (Hugues de Turckheim), wing camber builder from Switzerland (MB Composite), platform designer from Sweden (Stefan Törnblom), wing envelope sail maker from Sweden (Mats Johansson, Gransegel), and builder from Hungary (Pauger Composite), this quick 1200 kg all carbon is the T29 trimaran, “T for 3” is the first production multihull to be equipped with a hoist-able and reef-able wing.
Maximal sheeting load on the main is greatly reduced compared to a conventional wing mast rig, from around 1600 to 80 kg, thanks to the balanced wing and the boat tacks through 70 degrees with unusual ease for a multihull. More about the wing in the Seahorse August edition. Photos in the Stockholm archipelago by Swedish junior sailor Olivia 12, usually helming « T for 3!
Title inspiration thanks to, um, Soft Cell.
July 23rd, 2014
Got any idea what and where this is?
July 23rd, 2014
Maybe it’s just us, but the accusations, blame and finger-pointing contained in the article below seem to be wildly off the mark. An 85 year-old schooner sank in a nasty gale, but now blame for neither the boat nor people being found is being levied at those who tried to find them? We don’t see it that way. An old wooden boat sank in a nasty storm. Major rescue efforts were launched. Sometimes bad things happen at sea. Attacking others to somehow find them culpable is ridiculous.
Families of seven people lost in the Tasman when their yacht vanished have criticised New Zealand’s search as poorly managed. And a close friend of one of the lost says the Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCCNZ) failed to find the 85-year-old US-flagged schooner Nina a year ago because it searched 354 kilometres too far east.
“They used the wrong drift modelling, they wasted valuable time and resources and tragically, it may have cost lives,” New Plymouth offshore sailor Paul Wilson said. At the same time international satellite phone operator Iridium Communications Inc denied hampering the search for the yacht that left Opua on May 29 last year for Australia. Read on.
July 23rd, 2014
Especially this breed of drunk hillbilly white trash. USA! USA! USA!
July 23rd, 2014
Thanks to an entire crew of AC superstars, Luna Rossa Challenge principal Patrizio Bertelli embarrassed the Puig 12-Metre Worlds fleet last week in Barcelona in his beautiful Nyala, taking bullets in 5 of 7 races he sailed. That’s not really news (though this gorgeous photo from Martinez Studio might be), but certainly newsworthy were LRC Director Max Sirena’s comments about Team Australia’s challenguss interruptus, as translated by SA’er ‘Xlot’ in the “Another Incredibly Bad AUS Challenge’ thread:
Max Sirena got to Barcelona for the 12M Worlds (won by PB’s Nyala, btw) straight from LA where last Sunday a meeting was held with representatives of challengers and defender for the next Cup. – Were you informed in LA about the Australians’ decision to withdraw from the competition? Sirena: Absolutely not. This came out of the blue for all of us”. – When will the next CoR be selected?: “Formally, it should be the first one who challenged. For the time being it’s just us and Artemis”. – Does this mean LR is aiming for that role? “I’m not a candidate, we are sitting on the sidelines. I have already spoken with Russell Coutts and Ben Ainslie and I proposed we should have a videoconference already next Wednesday.”
Expectations – “I’m not a pessimist. Already in LA last week I had noted in the defender a certain willingness to negotiate and I believe that this new situation might be exploited to bring about changes, even significant ones concerning the future”. Do you mean that even the Venue choice for the event could be rediscussed? The two left (Bermuda and SD) do not convince Sirena: “I’m not ruling that out”. For the second time running Coutts got the CoR selection wrong. The Australians, like Mascalzone Latino in the previous event, dropped out before even starting. “This cannot be denied. But like I said I’m an optimist, from this mistake may come positive consequences for all”
July 22nd, 2014
UPDATE: From the forum…
7/23 – Wanted to let you all know that Bob Winson passed away this morning at about 3:30a. He was surrounded by his family – as he was when this terrible accident occurred. Bob was surrounded by family wherever he went. He loved being on the water with Dale. He was a wonderful man. I miss him already.
Want to set the record straight – Pythagoras is owned by Dale Winson and his dad, Bob. Dale and Bob have been ocean racing together for 40+ years.
Pythagoras left Alamitos bay this past weekend with the entire family aboard for a Sunday sail. While sailing on starboard tack, Pythagoras was struck by a charter sailboat on port tack. Pythagoras did their best to avoid the collision, however, the bow of the sail boat – and bow anchor – struck Dale’s 84-year old dad in the head as he sat on the leeward side.
Bob was struck in the head by the bow anchor resulting in a massive brain injury from which he will not recover. Dale and his family are by his father’s side – they understand that he will pass away soon. This is a really sad tragedy and to speculate any further is just that – speculation. Hoping you will all say a prayer for Dale and his family.
The Olson 40 Pythagoras was the latest powerboat casualty in the world of yachting; according to Channel 16, she was run down by a powerboat off Alamitos Bay. At least one crew member was injured and taken off by lifeguards, and the only news we can find is right here in the thread.
How many more people need to get wounded before we all decide to start carrying flare guns in our cockpits to fire at these motorboating yahoos? Thanks to SA’er “LBC” for the shot.
July 22nd, 2014
That shock of fuzzy hair looking over things at the back of the unbranded (though the color gives away Spanish bank MAPFRE) Team Campos VOR is no other than France’s top ocean sailor, Michel Desjoyeux at the start of the ‘Round the Canaries’ race – the first real tète-a-tète for any of the VOD65s yet. While it’s impossible to find anything on the official VOR site about this pre-race race, we can tell you that the legendary Mich Dej was apparently not enough to overcome Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel, with the girls coming home 8 minutes behind Team Campos. With the final team still unannounced (and some thinking that a desperate VOR may finally be giving Boat 7 to the chronically underfunded Giovanni Soldini/Maserati), it’s still early days, though the addition of Desjoyeaux to an extremely skilled and experienced Spanish team makes them the odds-on favorite in our book. He’s that good. While VOR’ers are playing it very close to the bone, we think there’s a good chance we’ll see Mich racing at least part of this Volvo.
With plenty of sexist assholes still thinking the girls don’t have a shot, we think they acquitted themselves quite well, and continue to have high hopes for Team SCA winning a leg or three…here’s their report, and the go-to spot to chat about the pre-race is right over here in Ocean Racing Anarchy.
Photo from Pierre Orphanidis/Vsail.Info with a load more here.
July 22nd, 2014
I know that was our first question. Run something over? Nope. Dragging something? Nope. Maybe dropped something? Bingo!
Thanks to Anarchist Andras in Hungary.
July 21st, 2014
We heard that on Friday of the Farr 40 West Coast Champs in Santa barbara, there was a 10 boat protest for one incident. Yes, 10 boats!
July 21st, 2014
Lanai owner Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle Corp. (and the world’s fifth-richest person, according to Forbes magazine) is a big basketball fan and was reported in April to have an interest in purchasing the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team.
An Ellison associate told the Wall Street Journal, for example, that Ellison has basketball courts on at least two of his yachts and shoots hoops for relaxation on the open water. To retrieve his errant shots that go overboard, Ellison hires a ballboy in a powerboat to trail the yachts.
July 21st, 2014
We were!!! We swear!! We used to have it goin’ on, yo. For real. But maybe never this young. Or cool. Oh never mind. Click here for more pics of kids having more fun than you ever had….
July 21st, 2014
Hello Anarchists. I’m back from the Half Ton Cup in Brittany, it was a wonderful event with a great mix of inshore/coastal races on beautiful boats in an incredible scenery. Excellent recipe for fun. I have some rants about the winner but I need to be precise! I was just a mid-packer in this series and winning or losing one place would change nothing to me, because we were far from podium. Pictured here is our boat, Jaja.
I would like to react to Mr. Morton’s FuzzleFest (the article, recreator). Like him, I really enjoy Farr designs. I dig vintage stuff and performance stuff. Seeing work on Swuzzle was wonderful and winning races in 2014 on a legendary boat is cool. What I don’t like is the effect such projects could have on a not so strong class boats.
It’s cool to make this rebuild compete in IRC, that’s a race of money, buy speed, don’t pay for it too much in rating, fun for wealthy people. But for the Half Ton Cup it was a pity to see nice well maintained classic boat like General Tapioca ( has a new keel with a bulb, new rudder and a new rig – ed.), or Brittany Drizzle (which has a new keel, rudder and carbon rig. – ed) being humiliated by Fuzzlething. Fuzzlebubble is 2014 TP52 tech attached to a layer of fiberglass from the late 70s. It’s nowhere near the Half Ton class level of tech or spirit.
One could argue the rules are respected but half tonners are the cheapest crewed boat around, you can find very nice boat under 15000£ (in tapioca/brittany state of preservation) bring some friend and enjoy nice racing. Competing with a machine (and pro/semi pro crew) like fuzzlebubble is ten time the budget.
So today the 1st place is no more accessible to amateurs, which is not a good point for such a class. I don’t think a pro crew or a Volvo designer for fins and bulbs are working where they should be if they work for half ton cup 2014.
There is a simple solution: Bring much more restrictive rules, forcing owners to use original rigs, sail plan, weight, fins and all. But then some would consider this bad because it will be more expensive to maintain the boats and kill their HN/IRC capability. Plus many boats would have to be « downgraded ».
I think it’s a responsibility to competitors in vintage classes to compete wisely. Usually racing should be an all-out thing. All my energy, my time and my money. But please come humble to such a class. Keep your energy for other toys and compete with « acceptable » tech, it’s better for everyone. – Anarchist Antoine.
July 21st, 2014
The 6 Meter British Open – which is the precursor event to the Europeans – wrapped up on Saturday. For those of you who think 6 meter sailing is all about rich coffin dodgers sitting in the back of their boats yelling unintelligible commands to the minions, you are partially correct, but the boats are sailed by top crews with all the latest gear and are minion free.The fleet is all about affluence and a quick glimpse at the docks shows finely tuned boats with all the go fast gear and your stereotypical pone ass crews trying to look like they are all doing something important because they have to.
For certain teams, smiling has to be kept to a minimum as it’s a sign of weakness and to actually socialize could result in a fate worse than a fate worse than death!
Day one’s racing was held under conditions that would have made my PNW friends proud. Multiple shades of grey and haze made marks hard to spot and considering the leeward end of the line was bordering on French waters, there was no hope of any VHF calls on over early boats which meant a conservative start unless you were French.
The RC have been very proactive on the radio but will not list over early boats. This is how it’s done in Cornwall and we will live with it.
After day one and two, it was apparent who were leading the division charges. Valhalla and Llanoria (with our very own Snap looking like he knows what he’s doing!) in their respective divisions.
In the moderns, Battlecry showed that sails that are not carbon fibre but carbon dated can scare the pants off the fleet. This boat is unusually fast off the wind and has a Game Of Thrones spinnaker, which mesmerizes and terrifies the fleet.
In the classics, the top dogs are Llanoria, Gallant, Flapper and Lucie, all North American boats. We will see how the Brits and other Euros respond after this weekend.
The European Champs start on Monday. Best of luck to all teams! Photos thanks to Dana E. Olson.
July 20th, 2014
Loick Peyron has launched his Walter Greene trimaran and headed out for his first sail preparing to take part in La Route du Rhum. Happy is the sister ship of Mike Birch’s famous Olympus.
Said Petron: “First training session on “HAPPY”, nothing but happiness. Small is beautiful! So far so good. and very impatient to start my 49th crossing of the Atlantic.” Look at that: this is Happy in Christophe’s eyes !!” Check out the awesome photo gallery right here.
July 20th, 2014
What a cool shot from Anarchist Jay. On their way to Bermuda, we think.
July 20th, 2014
So as I write this on Saturday afternoon, Team Hula girl are inside the 100 mile check in point to the finish of the Pacific Cup, about 75 miles from the finish line in Kaneohe Bay on the north side of Oahu, to be precise. We should finish tonight, or – more specifically – early tomorrow morning, having made the crossing from San Francisco to Hawaii in the 2014 Pacific Cup in about nine and a half days. Average speed over the 2070 mile course would be a bit over nine knots. We are the third boat to Hawaii in our class (maybe the seventh or eighth boat overall), however (because of rating differences) a number of boats will ‘correct’ out in front of us, so we’ll likely be 6th in class, and about 12th overall.
Those are the stats. What they don’t show, of course, is the human side of the experience. As the Hawaiian Islands come into range on the distant horizon and Hula Girl charges along in the late afternoon sun, a whole range of emotions begin to take hold. And when you cross that finish line, pull into the dock and step ashore after having traversed the Eastern Pacific Ocean, you can at once feel gratified, relieved, excited, exhausted. You have accomplished no small feat, and, most importantly, YOU have accomplished the feat. This wasn’t any cruise ship. No one just took you for a sailboat ride. In the past 10 days, each of our team was on watch a total of 12 hours per day, and drove about 4 hours per day. That means that over the course of the race, each driver drove for the equivalent of a 40 hour work week!
And I can tell you the level of improvement has been just fantastic. At the start of the race, for plotting and routing purposes, I generally assume we’ll be going about 85% of our target boatspeeds. I’ll modify this a bit one way of the other depending on a variety of things (experience of the crew, race conditions, etc.) but we were pretty close to that number. By the time we got to the halfway point, I was using 90%. The next day I bumped it up to 95%. That’s pretty impressive. I can’t really tell you how fun it is to see a team go from just ‘hanging in there’ sailing the boat (and sometimes not even able to do that in the darkness of night and shifty conditions) to full-on efficiency across the whole spectrum, day, night, squalls, and tradewinds. And, of course, it’s not just driving… the trimming, the crew work, the understanding of the relationships between all the positions, etc. etc. just became stronger and stronger. and contributed to our increased efficiency day after day….
One of our team mentioned that it’s really like having four coaches aboard: not only are there three ‘regular’ coaches, but the group has been pro-active at working together, fostering a real sense of unified purpose and experience, and sharing with each other to improve as a whole. I’ll admit, I might have been premature in calling a group of diversified sailors who had never stepped on a boat together before a ‘team’, but that designation is certainly justified now. I’m proud of all of them. Marko, Joe, and Alix came aboard with extremely limited exposure to sailing, and I couldn’t be more impressed with how they have progressed. Dale, Mike and Jimmy all brought more experience aboard and all rose to a high standard. And, beyond them all just doing great, we had a fantastic time. I have to say it was an extreme pleasure to sail with each and every one of them, for the first time or again.
So good on you all, team. We were up against probably one of the toughest fleets I have ever raced to Hawaii against. Each and every boat in our fleet was immaculately prepared, and the crew rosters read like a who’s who of West Coast offshore racing. This is the real McCoy, a true grand-prix offshore racing event. The fact that our young team could even think of competing against these guys was cool. The fact that we were able to be competitive against them was awesome.
An finally, a huge thank you to coaches Geoff and Jasper. These guys did a great job. It’s no small feat to pull together a new crew and head off on a serious adventure like this, and the loin’s share of the credit goes to the great oversight and instruction provided by these two. I know I consider myself fortunate to have had them both aboard. Thanks tremendously, guys.
Now I’m going to head out into the cockpit for the final evening and enjoy the warm weather, the trade winds, the good company. I’m looking forward to getting to Hawaii, to be sure, but I am just as excited about the next couple hours. Although I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that a Mai Tai is sounding really, really good about now…
Have a good watch, friends. And we’ll try to post some pictures in the next couple days.
Wayne Zittel and the Huligans
July 20th, 2014
No, not every drone experience goes well. Ryan Breymaier needs some help. The string was the first clue!
July 19th, 2014
Forwarded to our legal department….
I am the owner of Lagoon hull 82 (Nipper), about whom Yann Masselot wrote when referring to the sinking of my boat. (Masselot is the Lagoon Catamaran Director – ed).
My website is www.lagoonlitigation.com.
I have written to Masselot demanding that he withdraw comments made about me on your website. If he does not do so, I intend to sue him for defamation.
For the record, the boat was seized by Simpson Marine (the Singapore Lagoon dealer) and sold to satisfy the debt. I never left Singapore, and the debt was satisfied by the sale of the boat.
July 19th, 2014