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vor onboard

not hot

Leg 7, Day 7
27 May 2012 

Amory Ross, MCM,
PUMA Ocean Racing

LOCATION: 130 miles S of North Atlantic Ice Gate 
WINDSPEED: 8.1 kts 
BOATSPEED: 9.5 kts 
DISTANCE TO FINISH: 1,800 miles 

Getting a sunburn where we are now is probably a lot harder than yesterday made it seem, but when you spend the majority of the day laying on the bow – as we did – just about anything’s possible. Following a few busy days of upwind sailing, yesterday’s light air offered ample time to catch up on rest; drifting in the middle of a high-pressure system meant there was almost nothing to do but doze and dream. Michi, who after multiple wake-up attempts typically hops out of his bunk just a few minutes before he has to be on deck, had to be woken up to go off watch…and that was good for a solid laugh! 

But really, as comfortable and pleasant as a warm mid-Atlantic day in the sun can be, it’s not what we want to be doing and it’s always hard sitting still for so long. Were it not for three knots of Gulf Stream current under the boat, yesterday might have been a complete write-off. We would no doubt vote unanimously: 24 hours and 500 miles of extreme discomfort is always better than 24 hours and 150 miles of book-reading bliss. We’re here to go fast and win a race, and it’s hard to do that in just four knots of wind. 

The mind seems willing to put up with a certain amount of frustration if an end is in sight, and as we convened on the bow the topic of conversation mostly revolved around our escape – the first boat out of this high should have a massive head start – and whether our northerly position that we worked hard to get would soon pay its dividends. Everything pointed to a first night of fast sailing ahead, but as has been the case with much of this race, the weather isn’t cooperating and last night brought no breeze and only more frustration. It defies logic…sailing away from the high should produce stronger winds, but for the time being it’s only getting lighter. 

Regardless, we’re here now and we’re committed to the north, and there’s really not much to do other than keep the old girl going as best we can. Eventually the high will move on and we’ll get to punch our ticket for the fast ride east towards Lisbon. We just hope it fills here first! As long as we get first dibs at post-high pressure, its belated arrival could mean nothing more than a delayed finish in Lisbon. 

May 27th, 2012

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fish eyes

A different look from Barcelona by our friend Jesus Renedo.

May 27th, 2012

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post of the week

pretending?


This, from our AC Anarchy forum….:

In a recent post on AC Anarchy, Peter Houston says, "Coutts hasn’t given America a reason to care about the team that pretends to be from America." (my italics)

The contradiction of the name given the team by its sponsor with the nationalities of the crewmembers is enough to give viewers who know little of sailboat racing and all everyone knows of his and her homeland a reason to say something’s not right here. A commentator telling a viewer how the boats compete or what happens when USA Bundock, having misfurled their gennaker in the prior turn, rounding the top mark they lose a two-boat length lead on Team Korea says nothing to ease the viewer’s misgiving. So knowing how better to watch the racing will not lead a viewer to accept a truth ACEA needs to convey while the viewer puzzles over accents he does not hear in the speech of fellow Americans: America wins when Oracle Team USA wins. The pretense created by identifying nation with the qualifying club lays bare for all to see when Booth and Jobson tell us one or none of our team is American. This confirms for the viewer he hears the accents right; it does nothing to help the viewer unravel the puzzle the commentators have affirmed is there.

Coming to appreciate what we see on the screen and so on the water will never bridge the divide between representation and reality Spithill and others recreate each time they reply to a question. Sailors are indifferent to a puzzle yacht clubs perpetuate when a member hires the best sailors available for a competition the Deed presents as being among nations. They countenance the usual practice: from the day of the first America’s Cup, a member of an eligible yacht club has purchased skills on the world market, as he can afford them. The way things are in professional sailing satisfies a knowledgeable viewer his team is the best it can be. Other viewers not so knowledgeable do not share the sailors’ perspective: the team flying the stars and stripes should be the best our nation fields. Since the first America’s Cup competition the ear of the sailing community has been dull to a ring those outside their circle hear is hollow. 

Now the Defender and Challenger tell us they intend the race format, the choice of design and much more to attract a new and larger audience to watch their nations’ teams compete. Steeped in other national and international competitions, viewers new to the America’s Cup do not know to think American yacht club or Team Korea while they watch sailors from anywhere race their flagged boat. Sailors from anywhere cannot resolve a competition among nations. Yet the step that would color the competition so as to make it conform with the flags of the boats, removing the incongruity and so making it easy for any viewer to jump to his feet and yell, "We’re winning!," will have to wait on a competition that goes on beyond the reach of any camera. Those who hold a race result dear must be led to recognize that more of what we cherish can be shared but only by risking their confidence in the outcome.  A race among nations takes in a commentator shouting, "The America’s Cup is America’s again!" and he being right. If this idea is to win over an ability to prevail at any cost, and a willingness to pay that cost, the nation we honor must have its moment onstage. I intend this post to be the moment.

Peter Houston points us to a shortcoming in Coutts’ leadership. I believe Peter has given light to a perpetual blindness that is common to sailors of many nationalities. What we have today is pantomime as the Defender and Challenger act on the thinking of many in the sailing community.  The box the sailing community struggles against is more real than the Defender and Challenger can make disappear by authoring a Protocol to mandate a method of measuring LWL, a maximum crew weight and national identity. As Peter Houston tells us, our accepting the authors’ specification for national identity draws us into the author’s pretense. Houston sees the pretense for what it is because he is not so drawn. Unlike most in the sailing community, when he reads what the authors give him on nation along with the requirements for measurement and crew weight, Houston refuses to put what the authors say a competition among nations is in place of a nation that provokes Houston to demand better of the Defender and the Challenger. History shows Houston’s voice to be unique among sailors. He cares that they get the nation part right, as do I. Measurement and weight do not work this way on anyone.

Unlike a measurement method and a maximum crew weight, the final item in my list—nationality—does not read as a third subject the Defender and Challenger are obliged to specify if we are to know how to proceed in the pending competition.  We know the stirring of nation, for good or ill. The authors of the Protocol and the sailing community get the stirring wrong. Sailors, and the Defender and the Challenger are sailors first, must be shown wrong by a means other than citing Schuyler’s work. I intend my example of the viewer brought to his feet by pride in his nation winning to be such a showing.  Try drawing on the pride in him, working from a burgee, a national symbol painted large on the wing and a crew roster. Whatever you bring out in the viewer, it will not endure Spithill’s reply to "How did it go out there today?" and,as we know, pride in nation endures challenges greater than a discordant accent. It isn’t pride you’ve perpetuated in the viewer; it’s your confusion, again. With no change in sailors’ effort to join more people with our national entry in the oldest trophy competition in sport, we will distinguish AC34 and those to follow solely by their positions in a chronology of America’s Cup competitions. Historical orderliness, measurement and weight neither take hold nor do they stir. Jump in.

May 27th, 2012

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cup chat

Saturday marks our first On-The-Water Anarchy “Cocktail Hour” since August, and tonight’s live talk show will feature the inside story on the Atlantic Cup from the folks who created it and keep it running.  Founder Hugh Piggin, PRO Anderson Reggio, 11th Hour Racing’s Rob MacMillan, and a member of the video production team will chat with Clean about the innovative event’s genesis, the obstacles they face and have faced, and where the first race of its kind in North America is going.

Newport Shipyard is hosting the set, and Pabst Blue Ribbon’s convenient sponsorship will help keep everyone well lubricated.  This is the first of two Newport shows – tomorrow evening we’ll have the most interesting of the skippers for a slightly more humorous show.

Check in here at 1400 PDT/1700 EDT/2200 GMT for the live show, and watch it on the 8.8-million view strong On-The-Water Anarchy channel if you want to use the chat window to give us your questions.

Our show is sponsored by the good folks at Quantum Sails Newport, as well as the designers of the Leg 2 Champ Bodacious Dream, Farr Yacht Design.   Check ‘em out.

May 26th, 2012

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ready to fall

Anarchist Anni spied this on a hotel building in Vienna. Created by Erwin Wurm, an Austrian artist and art professor. People are weird. Title thanks to Rise Against with one of our all time favorite songs.

May 25th, 2012

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pov

battle of the boards, continued

Dear US Sailing:

I find your recent statement on Kitesurfing incredibly disappointing.

I cannot believe that US Sailing can in good conscience support "100%" an obviously flawed vote. Just the fact that the expert committee voted to retain the RS-X sailboard 17-2, but ISAF’s broader forum rejected it 19-17 should raise a large red flag. Spain’s recent admission of error is just icing on the cake.

As a matter of principle US Sailing should petition ISAF to re-vote the issue. As the leading democratic country in the world we should not condone or support votes that are flawed. It might be hard to set aside US Sailing’s self interest in medal count and stand for principle but that is the American way and would restore my faith and pride in your organization. That is the main reason to reverse course, Now for the five reasons.

Mr. Brenner’s five reason are, I suspect, not the real reasons for voting against Windsurfing. The pros and cons of either sport can be debated ad nausea. The obvious reason is that he thinks we will have a better chance of winning a medal in kiteboarding than windsurfing. Why wasn’t that said? Was it to self-interested? Given the stated policy of Mr. Brenner to only spend money on medals that he thinks we can win this seems self evident however it is certainly NOT in the Olympic spirit and is likely to NOT come to pass. The other countries will rapidly start up with money and coaching and quickly eclipse us and our current technical advantages (thank you Greg Aguera). Gone are the days when our US Olympic contenders could win on their own. Sailors today need full time funding and coaching to succeed.

I remember about ten years ago when I asked Mr. Brenner to spend some money, any money, on our windsurfing team, He said no, not until they start winning. This despite our several medals previously won in the class and the low cost of providing support to a windsurfer versus a keelboat. There has therefore been an unavoidable decline in our windsurfing medals once the other countries started bringing in coaches and funding which we have not answered. With Israel currently leading the RSX regatta at the ISAF world cup it just goes to show that US Sailing’s decisions not to support or fund windsurfing showed a singular lack of vision. Don’t you think we should be able to compete head to head with the smallest countries in the world?

US Sailing has never supported windsurfing to any significant degree. Why, for example, is it not required to include windsurfing in the US youth champ regattas? Such an easy change would really have helped windsurfing but there was no will to do so. Meanwhile windsurfing at the youth level is flourishing everywhere else around the globe providing a strong pipeline of future Olympians.

While Kendall and Sayre have already covered Brenner’s five reasons I thought I would give you my point by point rebuttal. Note that we three are all windsurfers AND kitesurfers.

1. Kiteboarding is an exciting and rapidly growing area of the sport.

Of course but where are your statistics? In Newport kitesurfing leveled off four years ago with no additional growth since then. My local beach in Florida has the same 20 or so kiters as ever. The current Kitesurfing World Cup in Holland (http://www.prokitetour.com/news.php?id=304) had 14 entries for men. After four years as an ISAF class this is pitiful. Claims of huge production numbers are not relevant as they are only recreational gear and mostly for replacement. I find I need to replace mine each year.

2. The infrastructure required will be minimal.

Not in my experience – Kiting needs more infrastructure as kites take up more space. Kites will want multiple kites ashore rigged and ready to go. Boats for each kite will be required for safety and launching. I calculate you can put 17 windsurfers into the line area of one kiter. More support boats will be required.

3. The potential exists to bring in new countries to the sport of Olympic Sailing, and at Council, there was support from every continent and region: Europe, Caribbean, South America, North America, Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Mid-East.

No more so than windsurfing while windsurfing already has established programs which will be hurt by your decision. In addition many areas have banned kiting so there is no growth possible there. New York just banned kitesurfing at ALL of it’s public beaches

Additionally the RSX is a One Design. Kiting is an open class. The cost will be astronomical and the equipment disposable. This is not emerging country friendly.

4. Kites can be sailed close to shore, increasing spectator possibilities.

Onshore Winds: the spectators will need to be backed up out of harms way. Offshore Winds: the breeze will be fluky and unfair to the competitors. They certainly are no closer to shore than windsurfing. When kites are racing they will still have tons of gear on shore that the spectators will need to be kept well clear of. Where will all of these support boats go?

5. There have been major advancements in safety, and the evaluation and technical reports said exactly that. Those interested in this debate, really should read that report, linked here.

Sure there have been advancements but just try and convince the insurance companies (or New York) that kiting is safe. All my friends who are long time kiters seem to wear knee braces. There has been no change in the danger that the four or so razor sharp kite lines pose which is the most significant safety issue for kiting. The release on the kite is better but you still need to pull it in a heck of a hurry in order to have it work and then the kite is out of control on 25m – actually make that 40m kite lines. Kiters can still get into serious trouble. In a squall a windsurfer can lay flat. What do you do with a kite besides let it go. Don’t be to leeward when a kite flailing lines and a bar comes at you.

I have read enough of the ISAF Technical Report to know a sales job when I see one. There are safety claims that are untrue and claims for the sport overall when only a tiny fraction of 1% of all kites and "hulls" made are for racing. Just one example of many: The report claims a weight band of 55 to 90 kg but this is impossible on a planing hull and will be completely disproved once the sport has enough participants to be fully competitive.
I have collected some recent posts online for you to read from Kendall, Maslivets, Manchon and Sayre. I thought you might appreciate having them all in one place.
They are here.

Particular attention should be paid to the Olga Maslivets letter to Fiona Kidd which really lays out in detail what a flawed decision ISAF reached.

I hope that US Sailing will get onto the right side of this issue.

yours sincerely,
Platt Johnson

ps: Just as a disclaimer:I have windsurfed since 1973 and kite surfed regularly since 2006 and have no particular axe to grind as I am no longer an owner of a windsurfing shop or involved in either industry. I just can’t stand to see such a wrong headed decision stood behind by our national sailing association. And just because I figure you will want to know I have been a member of US Sailing and US Windsurfing for many years but currently am not.

May 25th, 2012

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pi in the sky

The P28 goes sailing. Interesting as hell, now we’ll see if it works!

May 25th, 2012

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getting ready

gun and bullets

Time to load the weapon

Mike "Rail Meat Hennessey looks ahead in the Atlantic Cup.

So I spent the first couple of days this week taking Cat 1 gear off the boat, stripping her down to the Cat 5 standard required for the inshore racing. Certain items required by the Class Rule such as the monster sized anchor and rode, or the storm jib and try sail, need to stay on but there was still a lot of weight that could be pulled off the boat. Spinnakers were pulled out of socks and banded, and the boat was otherwise tuned up for the inshore racing.

A weapon without any ammunition is not going get us very far so we have also lined up an all star crew

  1. Chris Museler – Co-skipper for the second leg, Chris is new to the Class 40 but has a deep resume in competitive sailing. Has been on the part of 10 teams from 1998 to 2011 that have won US Sailing Championship medals in match racing and team racing (5 Gold, 2 Silver, 3 Bronze)
  2. Mark Washeim – Owner of the Doyle Long Island loft and sailmaker for Dragon. Mark has an extensive and successful racing CV, including getting to the podium in seven North American championships in four different classes. 
  3. Stan Schreyer – Co-skipper on Estrella Damm when they set the benchmark time for the NYC-Barcelona Record. Member of the Tommy Hilfiger Team that won the Extreme 40 Sailing Series. Schreyer, a Little America’s Cup project manager for Cogito, has also been a U.S. Olympic Coach and a Collegiate All-American.
  4. Robbie Dean – Two-time British American Cup Champion and Collegiate All-American
  5. Ned Jones – Multiple National and World Championships in the Snipe Class. Jones is also a former sailing coach for Northeastern University and the U.S. Naval Academy

And then of course there is me. I will give you one guess on which team member is the weak link.
The team has hit the water and run practice sessions, and is feeling loose and good. 

May 25th, 2012

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sanya man

Mike Sanderson gets back in action in Miami, and here he finally shares just how close they were to sinking after the Auckland start, how to handle crew and sponsor disappointment, his thoughts on the next VOR, and much more.  Always a great interview with this long time Anarchist.

Standings Day 5 – 13:00 UTC – 25th May 2012

  1. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 2,058.3 miles to finish
  2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker),  +11.3 miles
  3. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +18.8 miles
  4. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +26.2 miles
  5. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +39.5 miles
  6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +77.1 miles

Latest VOR vid here.

May 25th, 2012

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onboard

sticktoitiveness

Update from the Helm 
Leg 7, Day 5
25 May 2012

Ken Read, Skipper
PUMA Ocean Racing

This is strange. Not just the guys on board (pretty weird) or the route we take (sailing straight into a Tropical Storm after the start – not too bright).  The strange part is the weather and the route and the fact that every time we leave the dock it seems like we say, “It is never like this out here.”   

Wherever you sail in the world when you ask a local what the conditions will be like, it’s a fairly traditional response for them to give you an answer that has little to nothing to do with what the weather currently is. “It is never like this around here.”  

You would think the law of averages would finally catch up with this fleet. No trade winds on a trade wind leg. Upwind on a downwind leg. Light air on a heavy air leg. And certainly plenty of heavy air on light wind legs. Really, the only legs so far that have panned out according to plan have been the leg to China (all upwind, so of course that would play out) and the Southern Ocean leg (windy as hell and cold, so for sure that would pan out!).   

This could only be described as bizarroworld. Lead changes all over the place. Way behind to way ahead to way behind again. More weather features than you can shake a stick at. Typically this time of year you head north to a low, get in front of it and haul the mail to Europe. Not the case this time, it appears. 

So what gives? Why isn’t it more straightforward? I wish I knew. This is the wind gods trying to make this regatta close in order to drive us all crazy and keep you on the edge of your seats. I think it is working.

Seems to me that everyone has lead at one stage or another on this leg except for maybe Sanya and us. We are the lurkers. For sure we have made a few positioning mistakes, but fortunately have been patient enough to let things just play out and hang around. Nothing great, nothing horrid to date. But the leg is still young!   

Now we are going to go north in order to go east. Up the Gulf Stream, beating into a strong north-easterly with 3 knots of current under us (sounds like lots of fun) in order to drift through the center of a high and hopefully find a fast south-westerly flow that launches us towards Portugal. Let us hope that is how it pans out. 

I have to say that last night it was pretty frustrating sailing. We had been emerging miles to the south and finally got a shift to jibe on and get back in touch with the fleet. I turned around during the jibe and there was the tiniest sliver of moon on the horizon behind us. As if someone was winking at me, kind of snickering maybe? I thought that may be the case and then turned around a second time to see the expression change a bit. I think the wink was to say, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be all right.”   At least that is my story and I am sticking to it! 

– Kenny 

May 25th, 2012

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reverse curse of the designer

Camper only started performing well after Marcelino Botin’s design was heavily criticized by Grant Dalton.  And just after complaining about his Farr Design ‘bleeding miles constantly’ aboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker is currently blasting along at the head of the VOR fleet, 28 NM ahead of Camper’s bow.  Is this the leg that finally proves whether Azzam is dog or falcon?  They’re in a pack of 3, well split off from Telefonica on the East and Groupama in the middle.   

Despite big differences in the designs, these boats all keep battling for the lead.  How different are these designs really?

Anarchists in the VOR Leg 7 thread have found a great post from Jacques Taglang detailing all the differences, with carefully reconstructed line drawings for decade’s worth of Volvo Ocean Race boats. Check it out here.

May 25th, 2012

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soldier’s stories

People may have scratched their heads a bit at the Atlantic Cup Organizers’ decision to shove 10 media crew members aboard the doublehanded Class 40s, but if this Charleston to New York recap is a sign of what’s to come, it was the right decision.  It’s a 12-minute documentary on the first leg of this groundbreaking race, and the production value and development of the hard-charging characters in this video are easily as good as anything coming out of the big three with the big budgets; the VOR, Vendee, and AC.  Check it out above, and look here Friday morning for an announcement about Sailing Anarchy’s own live broadcasts planned during the exciting In-Port weekend coming up Saturday in Newport.

May 25th, 2012

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lake of fire


Anarchist Gabor sends this good shot from the 2012 European 18 Footer Grand Prix I, sailed in Lake Balaton, Hungary. The Meat Puppets provided the title.

May 25th, 2012

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live line

Ever since the first live-streamed sailing video hit the web, we’ve dreamed of a day when a major ocean race featured full, live access to the deck of a racing yacht on a round-the-world trip.  We imagined a Brady Bunch grid interface, where you can click on the square you want to see life through the eyes of the camera aboard your favorite team.  With crew getting in front of the camera at set times for interviews, reports, or comedy routines.  

The technology has been there for a while, and hopefully the Inmarsat costs will someday make something like the above vision a reality.  In the meantime, we’re stoked to see that the Volvo Ocean Race is launching a primitive version of just what we’re talking about.

Called Live Xs, the live video interviews – nine days of them for the final 6 weeks of the race – will be hosted by Rick Deppe, and if you’ve connected to the Livestream feed, you can post instant comments, questions, and responses in the chat window of the VOR channel.  

Head VOR-TV guy Robert Penner sent us a little note with a schedule for Friday’s live shows.  

We carried out a series of mostly successful tests with each boat, and on Friday, May 25 we have our next series of Live X interviews to mark the halfway point through Leg 7.  You can see examples from yesterday’s test day on our page here.

LIVE VIDEO CALL TIMES – FRIDAY, MAY 25

  • 0530 UTC Groupama (if available)
  • 0900 UTC Telefonica
  • 1300 UTC Abu Dhabi
  • 1400 UTC Team Sanya
  • 1500 UTC PUMA
  • 1530 UTC CAMPER

May 25th, 2012

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sonic youth

Hard to imagine a better life than the one this kid is having in this video… Title inspiration here.

May 25th, 2012

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on board

crack on

Hey Anarchists! It’s back to old tricks now after the madness of the first two days has slipped away. We’re still moving at a fair clip though, averaging over 18 knots at 130 TWA. Bermuda lies roughly 180 miles to the south east of us now, which is made evident by the amount of shipping and cruise lines whizzing by tonight.

The route ahead, according to our latest weather models, is still showing a slightly more southerly route then a normal Atlantic crossing. However, if the Azores high pressure moves any further north, subsequently pushing our narrow low-pressure trough up with it, we will be forced to head for the higher latitudes to stay in favourable conditions. Until then, we will get east as fast as possible in the diminishing secondary low that was formed off of the tropical storm.  

On board things have gotten back to the old routine now. IPods are being busted out now that people have caught up on sleep, and the daily candy war has begun again. We just lost sight of Telefonica ahead of us before nightfall and still seem to be holding our own amongst the fleet. Sail changes and any manoeuvres at this point will be critical. It’s a drag race due east right now, and it’s likely the same old scenario of the rich get richer.

It definitely feels good to catch up on a bit of sleep – you don’t realize how knackered you really are until the adrenaline wears off. Then you crash hard. The view from Azzam was spectacular last night, so that was some consolation. It was if we were sitting on the edge of a battleground. Huge lightning storms engulfed half the horizon behind us, lighting up mountainous cloud heads that reach miles into the sky. This was tropical storm Alberta – and we saw the eye of it.

In the early hours of the morning we began noticing a sharp increase in wind along with very sudden shifts in wind direction. Trademark signs that we were being sucked into the edge of a tropical depression. We knew about the depression, and us along with the rest of fleet, were seeking it out. Thankfully that is behind us and we can crack on with getting to Lisbon! – Nick Dana, Abu Dhabi. The latest positions:

  1. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 2,334.2 miles to finish
  2. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +9.2 miles
  3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +18.4 miles
  4. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +21.4 miles
  5. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +22.7 miles
  6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +65.9 miles

May 24th, 2012

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new 70?


Got this picture
of this new Ullman-branded 70 in SoCal today. Interesting, isn’t it?

May 24th, 2012

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pov

calling bs

US Sailing sent out a lengthy article in support of the decision to replace Windsurfing with Kiteboards in the Olympics. Kiwi Bruce Kendall (won the Olympic windsurfing Gold medal in 1988, Bronze medal in 1984) is calling BS on it, and Bruce’s comments are inserted in the italicised US Sailing piece below.

US Sailing Statement on Kiteboarding vs. Windsurfing
Prepared by Dean Brenner, US Sailing Board Member and Chairman, Olympic Sailing Committee

Every four years, difficult decisions are made about Olympic sailing events. The choices made always leave some part of the sailing community frustrated and feeling, at least on some level, disenfranchised. I say this as a former Soling sailor who was quite upset with decisions made in November 2000, and a long-time keelboat sailor who did not agree with the recent decisions to exclude keelboats from the Games entirely. I know, first hand, how it feels to have the part of the sport I care most about excluded.

Most will agree that fleet to match racing in keel boats being dropped from the Olympics after 2000 was a backwards step, especially considering the retention of the Star for a further 12 years.
A keel boat should be in the Olympics. It is well represented placed in the para Olympics & able bodied sailors should have more opportunity to race against those handicapped sailors.

Possibly a mixed keel boat class would have been more sensible than mixed multi hull? No disrespect intended.
Now that the America’s Cup is on multi hull, possibly this should be the Olympic Fleet to Match racing class? All food for thought.
Previous dubious decisions do not make following dubious discussions OK.

There is no right and wrong here, or good and bad. On behalf of US Sailing, I would like to raise my hand and explain the reasoning behind the votes.

History has proven there are always right & wrong decisions & some times both sides weigh equally.
Wrong decisions are more likely to be made when the subject has not been thoroughly been researched or there is a vested interest.
Weighing up all the facts of this decision, at this time it appears the May 5th decision to replace windsurfing with Kite racing is a wrong decision.

While the Board of US Sailing makes final decisions on all recommendations to our ISAF delegation, much of the thinking on Olympic events and equipment originates in the Olympic Sailing Committee, which I lead. The OSC believes, and I continue to support this 100%, that kites will be good for the sport of sailing, worldwide. The reasons are simple:

1. Kiteboarding is an exciting and rapidly growing area of the sport.
Kite racing is currently a small & undeveloped sport compared to windsurfing was back to the mid 1970′s.
It is still too early to judge if kite racing is a narrow niche sport with a low ceiling of participants & if the numbers would naturally continue to increase without the Olympic ticket.

Currently the majority of Kite retailers have not stocked kite racing boards as the evolution of design has been too fast & superseded designs have to be sold at below cost.

Most of the Kite board brands have not invested in building kite racing board molds & are waiting for the evolution to slow down as it has been too hard to sell racing boards to retailers.

The major Kite board manufacturers have not been making many racing boards for some time due to the above reasons.
As a consequence, Kite racing boards are not widely available & kite racing has not been enjoying the same growth the rest of the Kite boarding market has.

2. The infrastructure required will be minimal.

This is a non argument to replace windsurfing, but is an argument to replace some of the other Olympic Sailing Classes.
Infrastructure for windsurfing is less than required for kite racing as the boards are the same size & Kite rigging and launching areas require more space than to rig & launch windsurfers.
Windsurfing certainly requires less infrastructure than all other sailing classes.
The infrastructure in terms of developing kite surfing compared to windsurfing may in fact be more in some locations where a higher ratio of support boats to sailors may be required.

3. The potential exists to bring in new countries to the sport of Olympic Sailing, and at Council, there was support from every continent and region: Europe, Caribbean, South America, North America, Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Mid-East.

Potential also exists also for windsurfing to continue to bring new countries more than other Olympic sailing classes.
This is proven with RSX’s track record of the growing number of nations trying to qualify for the OLympic Games in Windsurfing at the last RSX class world champs in Cadiz in 2012.

The only thing that has stopped Olympic windsurfing’s continued advance is ISAF changing the class every 8 years. The laser class is larger than the RSX, but how long has it been intact?

Many new countries just as before, will not be able to compete in Kite racing due to a lack of ability to

  1. Keep pace with design evolution
  2. lack of ability to competitive equipment
  3. Compete against established nations with good programs.
  4. Kites can be sailed close to shore, increasing spectator possibilities.

The length of the size of the fin is almost the same as the RSX so in fact there is no difference about being close to the shore.
It is only ISAF that have restricted the RSX class’s ability to compete close to the beach.
In off shore gusty conditions windsurfing can in fact compete closer to the beach than Kites.
Little has been said about the limitations of kite racing due to unsuitable weather, launching & landing conditions.

5. There have been major advancements in safety, and the evaluation report said exactly that.

Those interested in this debate, really should read that report, linked here.
The report was widely circulated & before the May 5th meeting.
An official letter was sent by Ben Barger the ISAF Athletes rep asking for more detail & solid evidence to back the claims. It has never been replied to.
Evidence to refute some of the statements in the report were already common knowledge. The Safety issues have never been fully answered.
Kites are banned in many more places than all other windsurfing & sailing often due to actual historical safety reasons in that area.
Kite surfing has possibly had more serious accidents in the last 5 years than the whole of sailing combined.
Safety concerns are a factor in any sport & for many parents, safety & liability is a reason some choose not to do a sport.

Is there work to be done? Every time events or equipment are changed, work is required. There will ALWAYS be more work to get a new event established vs. the continuation of an existing one.

When something is not broken & already established, there is a lot less work to do than with an unknown quantity.

By 2015 everyone would have seen kite racing naturally evolve without as much "panicked action to get up to speed" and risk as it will be experienced now.
Environmental costs and the carbon foot print of Olympic Sailing should be more of a consideration at this time.

It appears that ISAF & US Sailing has thrown a good toy out of the pram on impulse for some thing new that may not be an improvement. What is the environmental cost to this action?

Does US Sailing have work to do in supporting the industry’s pipeline development? Of course. For kiteboarding to flourish, the kiteboarding community will need to commit to increased support in this area. US Sailing will work on developing pathways for kite sailors to make the Olympics, just as it has done in other classes.

It appears US Sailing has done very little if anything to support the windsurfing industries’ "pipe line development." This has been clearly reflected by USA’s Olympic windsurfing & sailing results since 1992. US Sailing may not realize that their inadequate approach to developing & promoting all kinds of Olympic Sailing in the US & close developing nations has partially jeopardized sailings position as an Olympic sport .I hope for those in the US, & the rest of the world, US Sailing will be more mind full of all sailing sports & their development & promotion than it has been.

The decisions on Olympic events and equipment are never easy. But I stand behind ISAF’s decision 100%. Kiteboarding will be good for the sport of sailing, in the USA and worldwide.

If well researched & considered logical steps are taken in a timely fashion, correct decisions are much more easily & likely to be reached.

Kite racing is good for the sport of sailing.

It is too early to know if it will be good for and compatible with the Olympic Sailing Classes. Another 4 years would have proved this.

Certainly the loss of Windsurfing is a great loss for Olympic Sailing as it is proven to be the most affordable to campaign & largely focuses on the difference between the sailors efforts & ability & not on the check book.
The very large numbers and range of nations currently competing on a large range of windsurfers around the globe dwarfs the numbers kite racing.
Why drop the 2nd strongest Olympic sailing class in the world for a sport not fully proven? This makes no sense.

I am extremely disappointed that US Sailing has not supported windsurfing in the US or globally.
US sailing have a disproportional influence compared to Asian countries [the main area to develop sailing next]
Asian nations are big losers in this decision as they are by far more successful in windsurfing than any other form of sailing

ISAF & US sailing may not have considered that dropping windsurfing from the Olympics may actually further erode Sailing’s already current tenuous position as an Olympic sport.

There are already comments in the IOC from those that have influence & a vote regarding which sports remain Olympic and consider dropping windsurfing to be a backwards step for sailing. I hope ISAF & US sailing reconsider their decisions in a timely fashion.

May 24th, 2012

Article Separator

clean report

mess in miami

I used to run major regatta reports with the title “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.”  but before anyone accused me of being a crappy, cliché-dependent title writer, I ditched it.  Which pisses me off a little, because a three-level analysis is an awfully convenient way to report on an event.  

The other day, a prominent sailor challenged me to ‘not be so negative on Miami,’ So rather than a 66% negative analysis, I’ll go 50/50, and in the process, create a new grading system that will probably last as long as my attention span – a few weeks.  It’s the WWCD system, which stands for Worst-Weak-Competent-Divine, and the dopey acronym of course can also stand for something else.  Hint, hint.

The Volvo Ocean Race Miami stopover was extremely important for both the race and for those looking at hosting or sponsoring major sailing events in the States, so it’s essential to look at its successes and failures as objectively as possible without fear of hurting anyone’s feelings.  I probably can’t afford any more enemies, but as the people who support our advertisers, you readers make my job possible.  Because it is the best job in the world, I figure I owe you the same honesty that I expected back when I was just a reader myself, and the same honesty that’s helped Sailing Anarchy become the world’s most visited and dependable source for sailing information and entertainment.  So let’s get on with the analysis.

Divine:  I am convinced that one of the reasons for the comparatively weak on-the-water turnout was that about ten million Miami boaters and friends of sailing were busy volunteering for the Volvo.  Okay – maybe not that many, but the local stopover organizers and a volunteer army led by Wendy Kamilar (and a few other luminaries) did a laudable job on most everything.  From the huge Course Marshall/Press Boat/Jury Boat fleets – nearly all of them donated, private boats from Coral Reef Yacht Club – to the sexy shoreside help, to crowd control, to those pumping things up via their own Facebook sites, it was a smiling and enthusiastic group that gave Miami’s boaters a good name.  For the VIPs, Miami was also a great stop.  Volvo’s hospitality people told us that uptake on invites to the stopover were huge while sponsor employees and guests themselves said it was a lucrative trip for business relationships.  And why shouldn’t it be? For the well-heeled Volvo or Berg client with a wallet full of fifties, the town rocks.  Plenty of business deals happen in strip bars, posh restaurants, and nightclubs – three things that are better in Miami than perhaps anywhere in the Americas.  Another bright spot on an otherwise inky-black page was the broadcast – not because the predominantly light air made it a great spectacle, but because organizers succeeded in getting the high-traffic Fox Sportsnet to carry it live throughout the Miami market.  That’s rare, and they should be proud of it.

Competent:  When a pitifully small welcoming flotilla guided Leg 6 winning skipper (and sole US entry) PUMA through the finish line and into Government Cut earlier this month, we thought it was a sign that the departure fleet  would be embarrassingly empty on the water for the In-Port Race and Leg 7 start.  Saturday wasn’t great, but Sunday saw, by our count, nearly 400 boats on the water spectating, and a lot of them were big, private luxury craft loaded with people.  Volvo flew hundreds of its best sales people, affiliates, and clients from all over North America down to the town, and along with a big contingent of B to B guests from Telefonica’s Latin American affiliates, they added literally boatloads of people to the on-water spectator count.  For one of the largest boat-owning cities in the US it was still embarrassing – especially compared to the thousands-strong spectator fleets elsewhere – but it was a hell of a lot better than it could have been, and as Ken Read told us in the interview below, it gave the sailors a nice bit of morale as they raced.  Back to broadcasting, we’re glad to see the VOR getting more and more airplay in US markets.  We’ve seen it in sports bars, we’ve seen it flipping through the satellite guide, and independent auditors say that quite a few North Americans are tuning in on a couple of different channels – or at least they have the opportunity to do so for the first time.  We also want to give credit to local organizers for thinking outside the box in their promotion of the event, even if lack of follow-through and bad resource allocation meant that all their efforts were for nought.  They had bloggers and social media consultants, they handed out 100,000 flyers at Miami Heat playoffs games, they hit local radio, and we’re told there were flags and posters in quite a few spots – though, strangely, and as we’ll detail below, those were gone almost a week before the race started.

Weak:  We already mentioned the weak on-water welcome from US fans for the winning US skipper and nominally US team, but it bears repeating:  You Florida sailors and boat owners should have done a lot better.  We know you aren’t going to bring 10,000 of your friends to the race village, but a couple hundred boatowners following PUMA in could really have done a lot for the US image of the race, not to mention the confidence and pride of US sailors by showing up for a major finish like this one.  I guess it’s part of the much larger problem you find when you choose a city like Miami for an event like this one: The Volvo Ocean Race doesn’t even make a blip on the radar, even to sailors and boaters.  

Another major problem, though one that wasn’t really the Stopover or HQ’s fault, was a nasty storm that literally flooded out the entire race village. When we arrived on Wednesday, the whole place looked like the active construction zone that made the 2001 stopover’s location such a joke.  Passersby would have been surprised to even know you could enter, much less that there was an entire race village filled with free attractions beyond the excavators and payloaders. We’ll go into the deeper problems of promotion and marketing below, but this last-minute SNAFU, and the time and money it took to repair, made a bad problem much worse.

Worst:  Much of our analysis comes down here in the basement, because much of the Miami effort was just shockingly bad.  As jaded as we are, we were genuinely amazed at some of the decisions that led to the ghost town that was the Miami Stopover race village. 

Let’s start with the selection of Miami itself.  When Knut and the Board chose Miami over Newport, we wrote that it had the potential of being a good host location, but only if organizers were prepared to spend a metric shit-ton of money to promote and advertise to a population that wouldn’t know a racing yacht if it was dropped by a hurricane onto their house.  We also wrote that the 2001 stopover debacle could only be repaired if the actual docking location and race village were somewhere that had a chance to get the foot traffic and visibility that would get the millions of locals and tourists to wonder just what was going on.  Instead, the stopover port – a canal next to the Miami Heat arena and flanked by a downtown park – was virtually invisible unless you were standing on top of it.  And since there is basically no foot traffic anywhere in downtown Miami, we tried a little experiment, driving to the village from every possible direction.  In every case, we literally saw nothing until we were directly abeam of the canal cut.  And at 30 mph, that view lasted for precisely 8 seconds.  A couple of cool looking Volvo rally-style racing trucks in front of the North entrance looked more like parked construction vehicles than anything associated with the carnival atmosphere that the VOR village shoots for, and a huge concrete wall obstructed the entire village from view unless you were up in an office tower, where trees obstructed much of the park anyway.  From the South, the arena is a massive monolith that prevented seeing anything VOR until, as we wrote earlier, you came around another concrete wall and the boats popped into view.  For 8 seconds.  Miami has far too much going on to expect any traction when you put an invisible race village in a spot with vehicle traffic only.  It was our first “what were they thinking” moment.

But we really scratched our heads on the promotion and advertising, or lack thereof.  Most visitors’ first look at a VOR comes at an airport, where they do a great job putting up posters, buy advertising spots on the wall, and erect cardboard cut-outs promoting the race.  At least, they do that everywhere else but Miami.  Maybe the MIA airport rates were too expensive for the organizer’s budget, but if we were typical tourists, we simply would never have known the Volvo was in town unless we were run over by a VO70 on its way out of the cut.

That’s not strictly true; we laughed our asses off when we saw organizers solution to ‘getting the word out’:  Two of those yellow, generator-lit construction signs on Biscayne Blvd, one facing North and one South, that said “VOLVO OCEAN RACE” in yellow dots.  We’re not joking, folks; the same race that plants 2 miles of beautiful, 8 foot wide LIFE AT THE EXTREME flags on every coastal road in the other stopover port, puts billboards up at every freeway entrance to those cities, and covers buses, supermarkets and DIY stores with VOR murals somehow thought that two fucking construction signs were the solution to their problems in the biggest city they visit on the entire nine-month odyssey.  Strangely, we’re told that there were, in fact, flags and posters on Miami’s main drag, but that they were inexplicably removed on Tuesday, precisely when they were needed to show people where to go.  Maybe someone forgot to pay the City’s bill? Whatever the reason, an inexcusable screw-up, and yet another reason why the total visitors to the Race Village were significantly less than the number of pervs packing into the EXXOTICA porn fair just down the road.

We sent a couple of Anarchy scouts down to South Beach to see if any of the tens of thousands of beachgoers on Saturday or Sunday knew what those brightly colored things were moving around the horizon.  Out of a hundred random people asked the question, not a single person knew that it was a sailboat race.  Not one.  Apparently, oyster bars and car wash joints can afford to hire planes carrying those flying signs around the beach, but the VOR can’t.  You might remember rumors about Sony Music working with the VOR to get huge artists to Miami to play the event (names like Shakira and U2 were bandied about), guaranteeing tens or hundreds of thousands of visitors and a smashing success to the stopover.  That, like pretty much everything else that could have a real effect on a jaded and busy Miami public, didn’t happen.  Instead, some random and unmemorable band spent the week clanging away in the race village with no one even noticing them.  And speaking of bands, you might know about the “Cultural Exchange” that’s become a very cool part of the race; it’s when each venue sends over hundreds of native people, performers, or other colorful folks bedecked in costumes, dancing and singing and banging on things to show off their culture’s brightest and most interesting points as they bid goodbye to the fleet.  Indigenous Brazilian warriors, Maori tribesmen, Chinese dragons – that kind of thing.  You know what we sent to the dock to send the sailors off?  A high school marching band. Seriously – that’s apparently the best we could do.

Radio, print, and TV dollars got spent on a week or two of advertising with little to no effect, while social media marketing fell completely flat.  These are proven methods of driving up visitor counts, so why did they fail so spectacularly?  Time, money, and the age-old problem of a European organization being unable to comprehend how things work in the USA.  You might think more than a decade of crappy US stopovers would have taught them something, but as evidenced by the numbers, it didn’t. This is America, where marketing and PR was invented, and this is Miami, where glitz is everything.  If you don’t stand out, you might as well not come at all.

The Miami marketing and advertising effort – or at least, its appearance — was a quarter of the size of what we’ve seen in other stopovers, and that’s precisely the reverse of what you need to succeed here.  The stopover’s PR company had just a few months of lead time to accomplish what other major events have two years for, and unlike in other ports, they had two major jobs: The first was to educate the public about the very existence of sailboat racing; the second, to get them to come check it out.  To complicate matters, the local PR company hired by the local organizing group and the national PR company hired by the VOR didn’t really know what the other was doing, leading to major gaps in the promotional campaign. VOR staff and local organizers didn’t see eye-to-eye on some important issues, and despite the local group having some serious local marketing expertise, many of those issues ended up being decided by the VOR. In private conversations, some of the local organizing team were near tears at the stopover’s abject failure, while many of the US racing crews were shamed (if unsurprised) by the fact that their massive and wealthy country just didn’t seem to care about the race at all. 

Final Thoughts:

In hindsight, Newport would have been a much bigger success in terms of foot traffic and exposure than Miami, even if only the local sailors turned out.  From the fan standpoint, it’s a much better choice of venue for an event like this, if only because there are dozens of passionate sailing populations within a stone’s throw of the sailing-crazy town.  The actual micro-location may or may not have been an issue, but certainly, in the future, venues must be chosen that put the show in the center of the action – not out on a commercial strip where people never go anyway.  Organizers and sponsors might claim that Miami was a far better venue to attract their clients and B to B networks, but that avoids a really important reality for the long-term success of the race:  If you focus only on what works best for a few thousand commercial customers, you lose the public.  If you lose the public, all that’s left is those well-heeled customers, and they want to be part of something special and something grand – not a private party for them alone.  But if you make financial and venue decisions to maximize public appeal and exposure, you grow the event’s stature and visibility, and then you have an engaged public and happy corporate VIPs.  Oh, and bring back something on the water to hold the public’s attention during the stopover – the Extreme 40s in the otherwise unremarkable city of Baltimore were widely credited with the best turnout and overall stopover since the 90s.

Miami is one of a very few black marks on an otherwise brilliant race effort from almost every metric, and there’s no denying that, even for more prominent sports than yacht racing, the US is an extremely tough nut to crack.  As the VOR rolls into their venue selection process for the next race, we hope they learn from their mistakes.
Paul Todd photos.

May 23rd, 2012

Article Separator

vor

marvelous in miami

Update from the Helm 
Leg 7, Day 3
23 May 2012
Ken Read, Skipper,
PUMA Ocean Racing

North American sailing has taught me something this past week. 

The Miami experience was bitter sweet for sure. Great to be back in the States, sad to leave “home” at the end and head back out to sea. I was actually only home for two days back in Newport, R.I., checking in on family and friends and heading over to the New York Yacht Club for a quick bite to eat on Saturday night. This is where my North American experience really started. Seeing how addicted and educated the NYYC members are about this event. And, they don’t seem to be the only ones. 

There is no doubt that the overall “numbers” were down at the Miami stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race compared to other stops around the world. I am not smart enough or close enough to the event to know why. But, what I do know is that those who showed up had some serious enthusiasm for the sport. I met people from Canada, California, the Great Lakes region and throughout the Northeast, all flying themselves to Miami to see this event. It was fantastic to reunite with a lot of old friends that I hadn’t seen in years, but it was the perfect strangers that shocked me. People who I didn’t know from Adam certainly knew quite a bit about us! Thanks to the internet, I presume. 

So why does sailing have such a bad rap, that the sport is going down the tubes? Doesn’t seem like it to me. Here are major league enthusiasts spending their hard-earned cash to check out the VOR stopover. All with a smile and a passion that was infectious. It was a great couple of weeks in my life. 

I am tired though, and the start to this leg to Portugal has not exactly let us relax much. The routing had us heading north to the outskirts of dying Tropical Storm Alberto and sure enough, it snuck up on us and smacked us in the butt. All but Groupama delayed the jibe to head for Lisbon at the bottom of the low pressure a bit too long, and we got trapped by the very compact low pressure on the wrong side. We figure we waited about 15 minutes too long to jibe and suffered huge consequences because of it. Not a great start to the leg. 

But, we only lost touch with the one boat so I guess it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Now we are drag racing in the remnants of this storm across The Pond averaging about 21 knots overnight. Blast reaching, which makes it really, really wet on deck. 

But that is what we do, and it is all the more satisfying after obviously touching so many people in a positive way in Miami. And, it is safe to say they all touched me as positively as you could ever imagine. A bit overwhelming to be honest. 

So a huge thank you to all of North America, and especially to the volunteers and fans who attended the Miami stopover. You certainly made it very special for the PUMA team and yours truly. I hope we did the same for you.   

– Kenny 

May 23rd, 2012

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