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Big Pimpin’

sail racer 3 15SailRacer.net is a software company which has developed a smart phone app (Android and iPhone) for sail racing professionals and amateur racers. The basics are free, but a 10 euro annual subscription brings Premium features equal to a 2000 euro value (what would be needed to spend on mast mounted devices having similar features).
As said on their website – SailRacer.net is an additional tool next to the standard yacht equipment to take tactical decisions faster and to boost the performance of the boat and the crew. The interface is designed in a way that the important information is captured in a splash of a second without the need to analyze the numbers.
The app has the capability to incorporate NMEA data, integrates with the www.sailracer.net website – with a real time tracker, polar library, race course coordinates and marker sync.

The main 5 key features:

1) Time to burn
Guides the boat for an accurate and precise start, to cross the starting line at the very last moment at full speed.

2) Distance to starting box laylines
Supports getting to the best possible place at the Pin or the Boat end of the starting line.

3) Course laylines
Helps navigate to a mark in the most efficient manner, taking into account wind, polar and adjusted for the effects of currents.

4) Wind development curve (short and long term)
Tracks the oscillation and development of the wind, helps predict and choose the winning tack and to plan maneuvers.

5) Boat efficiency (%)
Provides first indication to readjust the travelers and to tune the rig. It is calculated according to polar, actual speed and target speed.

And they have nice and very addictive online game: The wind is real. Try it.


March 5th, 2015

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The SA Innerview

Martin Sohtell is the public face (and Commercial Director) of the overgrown beach cat we used to call the Marstrom 32, and we caught up with him back in Sydney this past December to learn all the details of the new M32 Cup and Series.  We’ve been big fans of this quick, jibless cat since Goran Marstrom pushed the first one off the beach at Miami’s rowing club, and with 8 boats racing in Miami this weekend and the Scandinavian summer getting ready to fire up, it’s worth paying attention to this relatively ‘light’ way to get into ultra-performance racing.


March 5th, 2015

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Oh it’s on! Kite v Moth v Nacra 20 foiler v M32. Who’s coming out on top? Weigh in here, and then we shall see who knows what’s up and who’s blowing smoke…


March 4th, 2015

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Class Action

Viper 640s Miami Scorch A Blustery Event

scorchedThere are a lot of reasons to come to South Florida to race Vipers in March.  The weather is usually great.  The competition is excellent.  But it’s not all about the racing around the buoys.  There’s also the race to the restaurant, known as the midweek “Miami Scorch.”  Historically a blast reach from the mainland to Key Biscayne for a midday lunch, the event epitomizes the camaraderie in the Viper 640 Class and is an unofficial highlight of the week.

The two-day EFG Winter Cup Regatta for the Viper 640 sportboat, in Florida’s Biscayne Bay on March 1-2, was sailed in (by anyone’s description) ideal conditions. Easterly winds in the low to mid teens with seven well run races.  But as TV pitchman Billy Mays used to say, “But Wait…there’s more!” On Tuesday Sscorch 2015 – 2 a fleet of 16 Vipers assembled at the US Sailing Center Miami for the Miami Scorch – supposedly a screaming reach across Biscayne Bay to No Name Harbor at the southern tip of Key Biscayne. As it turned out, with a 12 knot easterly blowing, going over was pretty much a fetch. Sailing in the bright blue waters for an hour across the Bay was a delight. When the Armada arrived in NNH, everyone tied up at the seawall and congregated at the Boater’s Grille for some amazing Cuban food ranging from paella and pork butt to salads and fried plantains. A total of 65 sailors and guests sat overlooking the balmy lagoon of No Name Harbor while sea stories and boat-handling tips were shared by all.

This informal “race” started between the outer most channel markers for the Coconut Grove channel.  Hampton YC’s Steve Taylor and his crew were first to reach shore in No Name Harbor. Taylor was reported exclaiming, “We won the Scorch! Apparently I need to do more races that end at a bar.” Bermudian and EFG Winter Cup champion Somers Kempe, however, claimed bragging rights for having six feet on the shore—with drinks in hand.  Others claimed victory by being the first to arrive via automobile, though in the end, everyone was a winner.

During a “quiet break: in the conversation, Viper Class Administrator Buttons Padin welcomed the group, shared a few comments about the day, and thanked everyone for their continued support of the Viper Class Association and the sport of yacht racing.

After lunch and dessert, it was back in to the Vipers for a rather peppy spinnaker reach across Biscayne Bay to Coconut Grove with the Vipers hitting 12+ knots. Once back at the US Sailing Center, it was back to business as boat prep for the upcoming Bacardi Miami Sailing Week that runs Thursday through Saturday.

The Viper Scorch is just one more example of the personality and culture of the Viper 640 class. Yes, these folks sail extremely well…and extremely competitively; but when together they share information and insight, they go out of their way to help other Viper sailors, and the know that there is life for the Viper Class off the water as well as on.

The Class has already made its reservation to return to the Boater’s Grille next March following the 2016 EFG Winter Cup. Photos here.


March 4th, 2015

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anarchy everywhere

Even within spitting distance of the US Naval Academy! This pic is from the Severn  Sailing Association who have a little fundraiser coming up. Check it out..

Please join us for the 4th Annual Severn Sailing Association Junior fundraiser. Wear your nautical best. Enjoy an open bar, live music, oyster on the half shell and hors d’oeuvres. There will be A silent auction and an awesome view of Spa Creek and the Chesapeake Bay. Rumor has it there will be SA gear to bid on..

The SSA Jr. Program strives to maintain accessible and affordable programs, providing opportunities for area youth interested in learning to sail, from basic recreation to Olympic aspiration. This year’s spring fundraiser event has been dedicated to replacing the fleet of Club 420 sailboats, used by both the high school and summer camp participants. Continuing to serve the community at the highest standard requires both safe and up-to-date equipment. Clicky.


March 3rd, 2015

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the rottersIt is often said that a fish rots from the head down.  If the rot inside ISAF can be defined by corporate officers or race officials as ignoring Conflict of Interest, then the rot starts with ISAF President Carlo Croce.  Croce has been President of Yacht Club Italiano since 1987.  He has also been President of the Italian member national authority to ISAF, Federazione Italina Vela since 2008.  So exactly how is Croce free of conflict of interest while serving as President of ISAF?  Oh yeah, he is also the former President of the Luna Rossa America’s Cup team.  Given Croce’s leadership example, is it any wonder then that other ISAF officials are fraught with conflict of interest issues?

Meet Chris Atkins who is an ISAF certified International Judge and International Umpire. Atkins is also an officer of ISAF, serving as Vice President.   In his capacity as Vice President, Atkins has oversight for the Office and Administration, and the Sailing World Cup. Atkins has been unresponsive twice to questions asked about this article.

Atkins was appointed by ISAF to be a member of the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race jury, and is a Vice Chairman of that Jury.

ISAF and Abu Dhabi have an extensive six-year economic relationship, per the agreement for Abu Dhabi to host the ISAF World Cup Grand Finale. Abu Dhabi also has an entry in the Volvo Ocean Race.

As an ISAF Vice President and certified IJ/IU Atkins is required to know every ISAF Regulation and requirement to hold and maintain an ISAF certification.   Atkins is required to know, and uphold, the ISAF Conflict of Interest Guidelines for Race Officials.  Because Atkins is both a member of the Jury for the Volvo Ocean Race, and an ISAF Vice President, this gives the appearance he can protect ISAF’s economic interest with Abu Dhabi over all other sailors or teams in the Volvo Ocean Race.  Atkins inclusion on the Volvo Ocean Race jury is a both a perceived and real Conflict of Interest.

It is the responsibility of Atkins to avoid Conflict of Interest, and he has clearly failed to do so. Worse yet, even if somehow he was previously been cleared by ISAF of this Conflict of Interest, that would show collusion by ISAF and a certified Race Official to subvert the ISAF Regulations and the ethical requirements of an ISAF Judge appointed by ISAF for an event.  Atkins inclusion on the Volvo Ocean Race Jury, while serving as a Vice President of ISAF, which has an extensive economic relationship with Abu Dhabi, while Abu Dhabi also has an entry in the Volvo Ocean Race, demonstrates a gross breach of the ISAF Regulations and ethics by both Atkins and ISAF.

The ISAF Conflict of Interest Guidelines specify “potential and actual CoI’s cannot and should not be ignored. An omission to declare a CoI, whether actual or perceived, or the failure to request clarification from the ROC to determine if an actual or perceived CoI exists, may lead to action being taken against the RO as stated in Regulation 35 “Misconduct of ISAF Race Officials and ISAF Representatives”.

This is taken from the ISAF webpage on Conflict of Interest: ISAF Race Officials are ambassadors and role models guided by principles of fairness, impartiality and integrity. At all times we must avoid the appearance of conflicts.

Atkins acceptance of an ISAF appointed position on the Volvo Ocean Race jury pool produces a perceived conflict of interest, which he was required to declare and then avoid.  The ISAF Race Officials Committee Guidelines For Assessing Conflict of Interest For Race Officials Appendix A, shows that because Atkins has oversight for the ISAF World Cup, and that Abu Dhabi is the long term host, that would necessarily lead to a “4” grade (the most severe) on the conflict scale.  If this were not enough to be a Conflict of Interest sufficient to disqualify Atkins from service on the Volvo Ocean Race jury, what would be?  If he was given a waiver by ISAF, exactly who gave it to him, and why?

To be clear, none of this conflict of interest is a result of anything done by either Abu Dhabi or the Volvo Ocean Race.  I asked Knut Frostad why Atkins, and ISAF Competition Manager/In-house Counsel/Solicitor Jon Napier were allowed to be on the Volvo Ocean Race Jury.  Knut told me via an email reply that Atkins and Napier were both appointed by ISAF.  One would be hard pressed to think that Abu Dhabi, in particular, and Volvo generally, are thrilled about the conflict of interest that ISAF has created.   Do teams not file a Regulation 35 report against Atkins and Napier about this because of fear of reprisal by ISAF against them?

fishLike the rotting fish in Rio which ISAF refuses to take the IOC to task over and force the move of the Olympic sailing venue to cleaner waters, ISAF also turns their head and holds their nose to avoid the smell of the rot that persists while they ignore yet another conflict of interest matter by a member of an ISAF appointed Jury.  If ISAF will not require strict adherence to their own Regulations by their own certified race officials, why should they expect anything other than anarchy to reign in the sport? Title inspiration can be found here.

Peter Huston


March 3rd, 2015

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Local Knowledge

The first 5 days of learning to ride a foiling kite board have been an overwhelming experience. I’ve gone from wanting to give kiting up completely, to having realized that this might possible be the coolest sport ever. Below is a video of one of my buddies learning to foil. It pretty much sums up everything I experienced the first 2 days. The OMFG moment came on day 3 when everything went silent and the board lifted out of the water.

Day 1, February 16th:I felt like a total newb. I could hardly water start the foil board, nonetheless try to ride it in a straight line. I wiped out dozens of times just going out a few hundred feet past Anita Rock and back- which took me almost 30 minutes. It felt like trying to ice skate with roller skates.

How is this even possible, I thought to myself. For the most part, I tried to ride bow down so as not to foil and learn some control but the foil is super sketchy in displacement mode. The early season gusty winds didn’t help much either was I was either left op’ed or left floundering with a 9.0 kite.

I face planted into the board, catapulted over the side, tumbled off the back, and crashed to both leeward and windward- all in epic fashion. The most terrifying- when the board came foiling towards me after having jumped off. At least one of us got to foil. I made it back in without killing myself, anyone else or getting rescued!
Foil board 1: Steve 0

Day 2, February 20th: Waterlogged, exhausted but not yet defeated. I got a serious beat down today getting chucked off the board multiple times at full foiling height. I wasn’t trying to foil but the board just jumps out of the water once you reach a certain speed and tends to leave the unprepared behind. I spent most of my time in the water- trying to waterstart the board flat. Little did I know, if you turn it on its side, you pop right up. By trial and mostly error, I’ll eventually get it but this is really going to hurt.
Foil board 2: Steve 0

Day 3, February 24: Everything got very quiet and before I knew it, I was foiling. There was no sound as the board lifted off from the water. In all my years of sailing and windsurfing, Id never felt anything like it. I leaned forward to control the pitch and rode what seemed liked minutes but was actually seconds before coming crashing down. The multiple beat downs I was experiencing were taking their toll but it all seemed worth it for that brief 5 second introductory ride I managed to get.
Foil board 2: Steve 1

For the rest of the adventure- head over to the blog. – Steve Bodner.


March 3rd, 2015

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Some days, you just gotta stay home.  This dude on Sydney Harbour had one of those days, but at least the Manly Ferry folks had some fun!


March 3rd, 2015

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cheekeeLongtime SA contributer and multihuller Ron White embarks on one of the more interesting sailing challenges in North America. 

I’m leaving in the morning for the Sunshine State for my third Everglades Challenge, often described as the toughest small boat race in the world.  Starting Saturday morning at 7:00 AM and running 300 nautical miles from Ft. DeSoto Beach on Tampa Bay to Key Largo, the EC has 3 mandatory checkpoints, two inside the Everglades.  It’s a multidiscipline race that requires sailing, paddling or rowing, and in some cases, getting off the darn boat and dragging it. The navigational challenges are enormous, and we have once again scouted sections of the course in advance to find the most efficient routes possible.  This is a race where experience with the course and preparation are HUGE, with lots of tough, longtime veterans making their annual pilgrimage to what can be a minefield of a race.  Simply finishing the EC is an accomplishment.

For the second year in a row, I’m sailing with Mike McGarry on a highly modified Tornado that should be faster than last year’s, when we were 2nd out of 142 boats.  The only way to improve is 1st!  Just like last year our “Tribe Names” are SwampMonkee and Chainsaw.  I’m often asked what you get for winning or finishing the EC, and unlike most races, eeryone gets exactly the same award…a two foot long wooden paddle with your class name carved into it and a sharktooth necklace.  I’ve won loads of races over the years, and there’s only one trophy on permanent display in my house – the Everglades Channel paddle.

Since starting training for my first EC in 2012 I have lost a total of 37 lbs, it has literally changed my life.  This year I made a goal to drop another 6 and I actually dropped 9, down to a stable 202 which is less than I weighed when I got married almost 36 years ago.

Last year we finished in 57hrs 55 minutes and never stopped to sleep; that’s when this photo was taken.  Follow us via tracker or learn more about the race here. Or just click into the SA thread here.


March 3rd, 2015

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Offshore obsessive and solo Figarist Henry Bomby turned a little help into a berth delivering the MOD-70 Phaedo (ex-Foncia) from the Canaries to Antigua, and he wrote one of his customarily good reports on the trip.  Follow Henry over here.

Sitting here in Antigua airport waiting for my flight back to London, life is good having just blasted across the Atlantic in just under 9 and a half days on board the new Phaedo3 MOD 70, one of the fastest sailing boats in the world.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 8.23.13 AMI originally joined the team just for the day to help take their race sails over to Portsmouth for painting. When I got back to France however my name was next to a bunch of jobs on the job list! I agreed to help out for the week as I heard talk they were going sailing on the Friday, and I was hoping I could tag along to grind for the afternoon if I was still around!

Tag along I managed to do and the next day I was asked if I fancied joining them for the trip across the Atlantic. I was super excited but hesitant, it would mean missing a weeks training in the Figaro and also (and much more importantly of course) mean missing a long planned Valentines weekend away with my girlfriend.. Fortunately coaches and Soph agreed it was a fantastic opportunity, and so it was sorted!

Arriving in Antigua
Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 8.23.07 AMWe were to be five on board. Skipper Mr Brian ‘easy cool, cool easy’ Thompson, the most laid back man on the planet, Sam Goodchild fellow Figarist currently enjoying a side project while on standby with Mapfre. Romain Attanasio, another Figarist (and Volvo ‘WAG’!), and Warren Fitzgerald (the boat captain fresh off the Hydroptère project) and me. We would be two watches, the roast beefs and the frogs, with Brian floating in between.

The first night we got straight into it and ripped across the Bay of Biscay at over 22kts. Rounding Cape Finistere within 15 hours. The boat as I said, is pretty remarkable…Shortly after leaving the sun went down, and we were straight into the watch system, Sam and I alone on deck of this 70ft machine which quite frankly scared the crap out of us in 25kts of breeze! We joked that Brian clearly had way more confidence in us than we had in ourselves as two young Figaro guys tore across Biscay in the pitch black. I broke my own personal speed record during our first watch, 30.7kts, with two reefs in the main and the J2 up, certainly ‘not pushing’ hard in anyway. Apparently?! The whole watch all I could think of was Brian’s last words before he went down for a nap ‘escape is down, escape is down, escape is down..’. On multihull a broach is a capsize, and you always need to know where your escape route is, 125 TWA is down , 95 TWA is up, as a very general rule. Anywhere in between is just terrifying!

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 8.23.22 AMAfter two days motoring South, we passed Spain and Portugal and were soon into the trades, 16-23kts and downwind VMG sailing all the way to Antigua. This thing punches out 500nm days like it’s nothing. At the beginning Brian was telling me how on Bank Populaire V during their Jules Verne record attempt, 30kts by the end felt slow, and how in a weeks time, 20kts would feel pedestrian to me too. I couldn’t believe him, but it was true. You do get used to the incredible pace these machines chuck out, and it’s hugely addictive; you just want more and more.

It’s worth noting that the MOD70 is probably the 7th ‘ish’ fastest boat in the world, and it would absolutely eat up the latest high-tech new 100ft monohull on any angle of sail and in any wind speed.  It struck me massively on this trip: why aren’t trimarans more common, especially for offshore racing? I for one, am completely sold on them! Tthey are faster, and definitely more dangerous which suits many offshore events which label themselves ‘extreme’, meaning they really do need the very best sailors in the world to sail them. They are also dryer, comfier and have the potential for foiling which is definitely the way professional sailing at least, is going. In fact Gitana already has t-foil rudders fitted to their MOD 70 and is currently in the shed to develop full flight for this season.

Maybe now with the Americas Cup in multihulls, the tide is turning, and by the time I am 40 years old, I fully expect the boat taking on the Jules Verne record to be a fully foiling machine, so learning to sail these machines at any possibility is vital experience. I am unbelievably thankful to Brian and the guys for allowing me to jump on board with them. My eyes have officially been opened and dreams now become even bigger! Exciting times ahead in sailing that’s for sure.

Aerial photo by Team Phaedo/Rachel & Richard


March 3rd, 2015

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