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Brian Hancock and Tracy Edwards rather thoroughly say what many of us are thinking…

There comes a time when it’s time to say something and I am going to say what’s been on the mind of many; why the heck are the women on Team SCA so far off the pace? Yes I know it’s a touchy subject but people are talking about it (amongst themselves) and many want to say something but they are scared of offending. Well forgive me I don’t want to offend either. I have been a major supporter of women in everything, not just sailing, for a very long time, but the performance by Team SCA has set women in sailing back decades. Before the barbs come out let me quickly interject that I think that the sailors on the boat have done an awesome job starting with the immensely talented Sam Davies who has led a great crew most of the way around the world. They are clearly a good team but unfortunately their results have been less than impressive, as I am sure they will agree.

There are a couple of things that account for this and none of it has to do with a woman’s ability to compete on equal terms with men. Indeed there have been some women sailors whose skill far exceeds that of almost all men. Florence Arthaud, Ellen MacArthur and Isabelle Autissier come to mind. Amazing sailors all, so the argument that women are not as good simply goes out the window. The main problem is that over the last four decades men have convinced themselves that they are superior and have excluded women from sailing at a top level. Not all men and not all sailing, but most women simply never got the chance to hone their skills at the top of the game. The pool of women that have the capability to compete on equal terms against men in a race such as the Volvo Ocean Race is tiny. Someone else can do the math but I bet there are a couple dozen collective circumnavigations among the male teams. You simply can’t compete when you don’t have the depth of talent. At the risk of alienating even more myself let me pose this hypothetical. I bet that Team SCA would beat a team made up solely of black men. Same reason; very few people of color have competed at this level.

So that’s one argument. The other is a bit trickier because none of the crew are willing to discuss it. SCA is a huge corporate entity that has carefully honed its message to maximize their exposure in the race, so much so that reading their press releases you would think that Team SCA was the first female team ever to compete. This is outrageous and is a complete disservice to others like Tracy Edwards and her all-female crew on Maiden (88/89), the women of Heineken (93/94), EF Education (97/98) and Amer Sports Two (01/02). Along with size comes politics and SCA as a corporate entity seem to be making decisions that would be best left to Sam Davies. Sam is the skipper and the buck stops with her but it’s general knowledge that Sam does not have the authority to hire and fire. I once did a Whitbread where that was the case and it was a disaster beyond measure. Ask Skip Novak who was the skipper without authority. There have been some bad tactical decisions made yet no one has been held accountable and no heads have rolled.

It’s time we get beyond this all-female and all-male nonsense. I agree with Skip in the article he wrote for Yachting World. If Volvo really wants to be progressive, and I assume that they do, then for future races let’s mandate an equal number of men and women on each boat and once and for all shut up this ridiculous debate about who is better. Although I am quite certain that would open up a completely different can of worms.

Those are my thoughts but I think it’s important to hear from someone whose entry in the 89/90 Whitbread had a huge impact on the event. Tracy Edwards skippered the first all-female crew to compete in a Whitbread, and with impressive results. Maiden won two legs of the race, finished second overall in class and 3rd in the Non-Maxi Division. I know that Tracy has been following this VOR with interest and probably with some dismay at how little recognition she and other all-women teams have received from corporate SCA. I think it’s time we got her take on the Team SCA situation so take it away Tracy…

When Team SCA was first announced and I saw the level of money, time and effort going into what looked like a very professional campaign I was ecstatic! Finally it looked as though there was going to be an all-female entry that was not an afterthought addition to a male campaign. There are so many incredible female sailors out there who have been let down by previous Whitbread and Volvo campaigns. I was so excited to see what they could do with enough funding, time and expertise. I began following their progress and this really reignited my interest and excitement in the Volvo which I have to admit had tailed off over the years.

And then someone posted the SCA promotional launch video. The voiceover told me that they were the first all-female crew to attempt to sail around the world. I was stunned and then horrified as I realised that it was Volvo who had released and promoted the video along with Scuttlebutt – both of whom should have known better (to expect the idiot from scuttlebutthole to know anything is a stretch - ed.). After a lengthy battle fought online and via email to the CEO of SCA, by me and many, many others, it was finally changed. The apology from the CEO was begrudging and trite. At first I was upset and then I was furious that Maiden was being treated in this way. The SCA media team then proceeded to announce that the girls were the first all-female crew to do the Volvo (originally the WRTWR). And so it was Dawn Riley’s turn to be forced to fight her corner and remind them that she skippered Heineken and that after Maiden, Heineken, EF Language and Amer Sports Two they were in fact the fifth all-female crew to sail to race around the world. Instead of apologizing profusely, the SCA media team announce on Twitter that SCA would be the BEST all-female crew to race around the world – to which someone replied that they needed to win then.

What was even more upsetting was that all of us who had so looked forward to supporting the women on SCA had been forced to defend our achievements instead of cheering our friends on. Two of the women on SCA actually emailed me to apologise and let me know how mortified they all were with the media.

Even so, with all that behind us, women sailors of the world looked forward to the start and watching SCA build upon our successes of the past 25 years. To say that we are all disappointed would be an understatement. But my disappointment is not with the women of the team who I know are all extraordinary sailors, much better than I ever was and definitely fitter! We all knew something was going terribly wrong, but we all kept quiet, afraid of being accused of being women bitching about other women. This could not be further from the truth for me and every woman I know who just wanted SCA to WIN! I gave Sam Davies her first break as a nipper on RSA when we attempted the Jules Verne and broke many world records, consequently we are good friends and I was desperate for her to do well. I have followed her career with pride and excitement.

I am gutted that they have not performed as we had all hoped, but on the plus side, they were building their knowledge and experience and that is what is needed for success next time. It is so difficult for women to gain experience of Ocean Racing so this could be used as a wonderful opportunity to build upon for the next event. What I have a real problem with is the media team and the way they are portraying the results as some sort of victory. It is toe curling. This is so damaging to women’s sailing and it lowers the bar for excellence and expectation. When Maiden did really badly on Leg 4 we were devastated to lose our overall lead which we had held at the half way mark. Our press conference and consequent press releases talked about what we had got wrong (my navigation) and how we could improve – because that is what sports teams do. They do not portray coming last as a victory and make themselves into a joke team which is humiliating to women’s sailing, dragging it back to the days before Maiden.

I know that the women have been uncomfortable about the way they are portrayed but cannot say so because it is not their campaign. And herein lies the problem I think. Team SCA is managed and run by Richard Brisius and Johan Salen of Atlant – not by the women themselves. Richard and Johan also ran the all-female EF Education which played second fiddle to Paul Cayard’s EF Language so I am astonished that more lessons were not learned.

All of us on Maiden (the actual first all-female crew) did everything ourselves. We raised the funding, we found a wreck and turned her into Maiden, we decided what training we would do, I chose the crew and we did our own press releases. We sweated blood and tears to get Maiden to the start line and we fought with every fibre of our being, every every inch of the way to prove that women could be as good as men. I am so proud of our Maiden’s performance and achievements, but when we crossed the finish line 25 years ago we all looked forward to the day when an all-female crew would win – and this discussion would no longer be necessary.

To think that even 15 years ago I put together and skippered Royal SunAlliance during which 11 women sailed one of the biggest, fastest multihuills in existence at the time and held broke a number of world records, including the fastest ocean record (Cowes to Dinard) for a number of years. And now we are cheering mediocrity.

There is no doubt in my mind that an all-female crew could win the Volvo but we have a whole generation of women sailors who were cut out of the Volvo when the Volvo 70s came into play. The men barely had the strength to control those ridiculous boats and so women were excluded. Until someone puts a campaign together which places the women at the centre and in charge at the very beginning I think we will fail. There are some amazing women out there such as Dawn Riley, Emma Westmacott and Adrianne Cahalan (to name a few) who could run an awesome campaign but none were approached by Atlant. Volvo have benefitted greatly from the SCA publicity which we, as women sailors, feel has all but wiped out our past achievements. No other sports team celebrates failure – why do they think its ok for women?

I am not sure I would want to see a mandate for equal men and women on each boat. That could cause its own problems. Maybe it would work. Whatever the outcome of this event; It’s time Volvo made a concerted effort to encourage more women to enter and to assist them in every way possible. I also think that the best way for SCA to redeem themselves is to sponsor Sam Davies (if she wishes to take part) for the next event but WITHOUT Atlant. Let Sam or whoever, pick her team and run her own campaign using the many lessons learned from this one and the past 25 years of women’s sailing. That would show that SCA are serious about supporting women’s sailing.

I will leave the final word to a 16 year old future Olympic sailor whom I met whilst speaking at a Yacht Club. I am paraphrasing what she said but in essence this is it: “Watching the ridiculous flag waving of SCA Media Team every time a team of women manage to sail from one Port to another, is to watch a Corporation aided by Volvo take women’s sailing back 25 years.” She finished by telling me that the boys in the Youth Squad now make fun of the girls and offer to cheer if ‘they make it from one side of the reservoir to the other’.

Well done Atlant.

 

May 18th, 2015

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Big Pimpin’

polar oppositeNASA scientists report that it’s been 800,000 years since the last magnetic pole switch took place and the earth is way overdue for such an event as reversals typically occur every 600,000 to 700,000 years.  As noted by NASA and UC Berkley, the last reversal happened over 780,000 years ago.  Analyzing this data shows a potential shift is right around the corner.

As the magnetic field weakens, the North and South Magnetic Poles will fracture appearing in several locations at once.  In the natural world, we won’t see massive storms or increases in solar radiation; however, animals and insects (birds, bees, bacteria and sailors) that depend on magnetic fields for directions will become lost and disoriented.  But never fear! Nautalytics has you covered. Justin Coplan, technology partner of Nautalytics, said “We have a plan in place to recalibrate the new North back to the old North or whatever direction the people of earth decide is up.”

Until then, the Alloy magnetic digital compass by Nautalytics will keep your life simple by giving you the information you need to make tactical decisions on the race course, big numbers, no buttons to push or batteries to change. Buy this month and receive a free pole switch recalibration coupon.  www.nautalytics.com

 

May 18th, 2015

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Crossing

Looks like some potential rules trouble that the VOR might be sweeping under the rug. It would appear that Dongfeng, Mapfre, and SCA entered the feared Traffic Safety Separation Exclusion Zone. Below is Abu Dhabi’s Matt Knighton’s perspective. Jump in the thread here for all the dope!

“I wanted to be in front of Dongfeng so we could control them”, Ian said in frustration as he sat on the bow in the light wind. “Now because of all this Exclusion Zone business, they’ve managed to slip away from us.”
Just minutes earlier, we had gybed several times around an invisible mark in the ocean. The spectators on the last few power boats shadowing us would never have guessed it was there – there was no blinking buoy or square floating mark – it’s marked by GPS coordinates.

This specific mark was the corner of a larger box that forms a Traffic Safety Separation Exclusion Zone. Consisting of two lanes for incoming and outgoing ships with a figurative barrier between, oceangoing vessels use these TSS areas for safety in high traffic areas. Before the leg, race management decided that teams needed to either respect the correct flow of traffic in the lanes or not enter the zone at all.
Dongfeng, Mapfre, and SCA entered the zone.

We watched as their courses on the nav computer sailed deeper and deeper into the red colored box against the traffic flow. Their routes didn’t just cut the corner on a piece of open water with little significance – no, they were the equivalent of riding a bike across an eight-lane highway and then turning left into oncoming traffic.

They had raced several miles down the course while we had to perform several tacks to get around the zone. Ian, SiFi, and the rest of the guys – still buzzing on deck from the magnificent send-off in Newport – were furious at the loss.

The day has now turned to a familiar darkness and below deck you can hear the light drips of water on deck from the dense fog bank we’re sailing through. The deck is faintly glowing through a dull haze lit by the red instrument lights.
Chuny somehow managed to smuggle a half dozen bags of potato chips onboard before we left and just broke a bag open. Sharing it with all the guys gathered around the nav station, there’s a faint crunching sound as every eye is fixed on the gap that’s growing between Dongfeng and ourselves. Will there be a penalty? We don’t know. All we can do now is chase them down as Lisbon grows nearer on the horizon.”

 

May 18th, 2015

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Light sea breeze and gorgeous 80-degree temps mean a great day for watching sailboat racing.  At least if you’re down here in Newport.  Enjoy.

 

May 17th, 2015

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You’ve got 40 minutes left before the start of Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race.  Spend the next 15 getting the very latest news from Mr. Clean’s Dock Walk, finished just minutes ago in a full frenzied Newport.

May 17th, 2015

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mapfre

Big red Mapfre getting the win in Newport. Thanks to Mike Jones / Waterline Media for the shot.

 

May 17th, 2015

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Dongfeng Mainsail Replacement.

Comments in the Sailing Anarchy Forums have even spoken about a conspiracy regarding Dongfeng’s mainsail so I thought it was time to comment, with a few facts thrown in about the real picture.

1. The rules have always allowed the use of a replacement sail – from the pre-race sail inventory if none is available in the race sails.

2. Dongfeng had not potentially “put themselves out of this race” in the words of some less informed anarchists. Their mainsail damage was 100% the result of a mast breakage and the inability (danger to life and limb) of putting someone up the poorly supported remains of the mast resulting in loss of the top section of the mainsail and laminate damage to a significant portion of what was left. Unless of course you believe they deliberately broke their mast, retired from the leg and the resultant 8 points that earned them.

3. SCA’s damage was down to a broach in heavy weather so far more of a ‘racing incident’ than any damage caused to Dongfeng. Still unfortunate but…..

4. The Dongfeng ruling makes two clear points that the SCA ruling does not. A/ it was felt that Option 1 on the repair would have potentially given DFRT a performance advantage by having a less stretched top section especially in heavy air (there were skippers from 2 or 3 other teams present) THAT IS A DEFINATE NO NO. Option 2 would (OK – in the opinion of those present and particularly the IJ if you want to split hairs) would have left a sail that could give way in heavy weather that could cause a safety risk to the boat and crew which is NEVER acceptable.

This whole thing is rather like the footballer (soccer player for our American fans) who falls over in the penalty area. If the referee doesn’t give a penalty one set of fans will cheer, the others will boo him off the field. If he does give a penalty the opposite will happen. That, as I see it, is exactly what we see here.

I wonder if arguments in SCA’s favour, and against Dongfeng, would be quite so strong if gender was taken out of it and FDRT wasn’t a Chinese entry – just saying. I am sure much of DFRT argument was they didn’t want to unnecessarily spend 30 grand (the figure quoted in the North Sails damage report) or take the cheaper option that could put boat & crew at risk should the repair fail (North themselves reckoned that could happen – read their report)and the other skippers certainly didn’t want fresher sailcloth at the top of DFRT’s mast.

The talk here on the forum of DFRT getting a new mainsail, is of course complete fabrication (or total lack of understanding as to how much use the pre-race sails got). The pre-race sail, with the amount of training DFRT did before the race – Round Britain Ireland, half a Sanya-Auckland leg, a TransAtlantic and multiple long training stints means that the ACTUAL mileage between the sail destroyed at Cape Horn and the pre-race sail is far from what some people have suggested, if at all. New mainsail indeed!

The decision of the IJ has NOT handed DFRT an advantage which it was felt an Option 1 repair could have done although it could also be said that it simply didn’t hand DFRT a massive disadvantage had they ruled that Option 2 had to be carried out.  I freely admit to both being a fan and in complete admiration for what Charles has achieved with his crew including the Chinese (can hardly call them rookies anymore) sailors but I have tried looking at this situation taking into account the following

1. As someone on the forums mentioned, the undoubted integrity of the International Jury. I have mentioned my personal experience of two of the members and would back their ability knowledge and integrity 100% and it is a pretty safe assumption regarding the other jury members.

2. I have seen or read the report on the damage to both sails and agree damage to both sails is severe. However the top ¼ to 1/3 of a mainsail may be up the mast in the strongest of winds and that would not be the case for an FC0

3. We don’t know the strength of the arguments in each hearing however the presence of the other skippers in DFRT’s case would point to their concern regarding performance gains and it would appear the IJ have treaded the path between increased performance and reduced safety – not an easy job.

I would add that, Alvimedica apart, I know and/or admire people on every boat which leads me to wish everyone has a safe AND fair conclusion to what – thus far – has been one of the most exciting Whitbread/Volvos and I have followed them all and been involved on the fringes of a few. The decision is what it is and has been made now let’s get back to following one hell of a yacht race! - Shanghai Sailor.

 

May 17th, 2015

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If you’re getting tired of Volvo Ocean Race videos, you’ll probably want to look away.  But if you like straight talk from the leaders of the race about some very serious and some not-so-serious topics, spend another hour with Clean, Nic, Charles Caudrelier, Ian Walker, and Mark Turner and watch this show.

 

May 16th, 2015

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MAPFRE wins the In-Port Race and then hits the bricks as they wave to the tens of thousands of spectators at Fort Adams.  Soundtrack courtesy of Team Vestas Wind.  UPDATE: MAPFRE diver is down prepping ‘a few scratches’ for underwater epoxy.  No hauling allowed without a penalty, no big worries until the repair falls off!

UPDATE 2: Knut said that the Spanish team can haul and repair, but team spokesperson Helena Paz says that it will not be necessary, as the damage is minor.  A happ-ish ending after MAPFRE’s first In-Port victory of the VOR.

 

 

May 16th, 2015

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Don’t even think about watching the Newport in-port race without getting the last-minute goss from Clean and the team.  Here’s yet another excellent Dock Walk at the VOR dockout, brought to you by our friends at Sperry.

May 16th, 2015

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With the Race Village registering just under 100,000 bodies through the gate as of Saturday noon, Newport has now doubled the numbers of every other VOR stopover in the modern era.  With a nice 12-15 knot sea breeze, the weather is showing off too, and the silver-tonghed Kenny Read will be joining Knut, Nico, and Nialls in the commentary chair for today’s In-Port Race.  Watch it live above.

 

May 16th, 2015

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Clean Report

Opinion amongst Volvo vets is unanimous that Newport is light years beyond any of the recent US Volvo Ocean Race stopovers in every way, and we’re extremely glad we’re here to be part of it this week thanks to our friends at Sperry and the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard.

With so much staff coverage available from the teams and VOR media, we wanted to give you something different this week, and today at 1130 PST/1430 EST/1830 UTC, we’re bringing you Sailing Anarchy’s first-ever live, two-camera talk show from the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard – in front of a live audience!  We haven’t skimped on guests, either, and since we’ve been wanting to sit down with the leaders of Team SCA for some time now, we asked, and they thankfully agreed!  Team CEO Richard Brisius, Performance Director Brad Jackson, and the afterguard of Dee, Sam, and Sally will sit down with co-host Nic Douglass and me for an hour-long chat about everything VOR.  We want to know all about their race, and all about them.  What’s the future look like for Team SCA, and what does their race mean for their careers, for their fans, for their families, for their sponsors…

You’ve already given us some great questions; please head over to the thread and post more, or hit us up on Twitter and use the hashtag @asksailinganarchy if you want yours answered today; the best three questions win Team SCA t-shirts, but you only have a couple hours to get ‘em in.  Wanna learn more about the girls?  Check out the brand new well-produced reality series No Ordinary Women.  We’ve enjoyed the first two episodes, and we think you will too.  And don’t fret if you miss our show today; it will be archived for your pleasure here.

And if you have questions for VOR CEO Knut Frostad, Boatyard Director Nick Bice, the two guys tussling for the race lead; Ian Walker and Charles Caudrelier, or Vestas skipper Chris Nicholson, get those questions in too; we’re recording their show tonight for publication tomorrow morning at around 1000 EST.

Nic’s been doing a great job getting interviews with all the boys and girls; head over to her channel here for a stack of interviews that go far beyond the usual tripe.  And be sure to keep an eye on SA Twitter and Facebook for many more face-to-faces coming up this weekend, especially for the last-minute pre-race Dock Walk video posted to our page, 20 minutes after dock out for the In-Port Race and Leg Start.

 

May 15th, 2015

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Florida 300 Day 1John Casey checks back in from the first real foil-off between the FLying Phantom and his Nacra 20 FCS. His photo, and of course our title reference to one of the funniest shows of the 2000s.

If you’re having a light conversation with someone and they say, “Hey, you should come down to the Keys for a sail,” you meant yesterday.  The sun was peering down on us, the wind was around 12 knots with low puffy clouds drifting over the shore and the water was about the same balmy temperature as the wind. It was absolutely pleasurable.

The real story of our day came courtesy of large clumps of sargasso lining up on their march to shore, just hanging out waiting for us. Yes, they play havoc with our daggerboard boats, but a unique and surprising thing happens when the FCS foils through the weeds; they slice right though them. What we thought was going to be the biggest hindrance on this flat water leg from Islamorada to Key Biscayne was actually helpful to us, as the slower boats had to clear their boards far more often.  We called our day ‘mowing the lawn’.

The Nacra performed brilliantly as we foiled the entire upwind/close reach day except for a couple lulls and when we had to pinch up high to get over the sandbar protruding from Elliot Key. We finished in exactly four hours. The powerful sail plan definitely helped in the lighter conditions, as the curved board Nacra 20 Carbon arrived to the beach in second place 20 something minutes after us. It’s really all about sawing that mainsheet as well. My crew, Colin Page, played it like a tug-of-war anchorman all day. Sail trim is so important for the balance you need to stay smooth on the foils.

The tried-and-rock solid Nacra 20 crew of Steve Lohmeyer and Jay Sonnenklar are leading the biggest fleet of Nacra 20s.

For more action, check out the Florida 300 site, and stay tuned for my final report over the weekend.

 

May 15th, 2015

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As the Carriacou Sloops make their biggest media push ever, Our old friend Mark Feilberg checks in from a classic sloop regatta in the Caribbean.

feilburg2The sun was way too sunny in St Barth, the sea too clear and clean, and that blue was just too right.

The sunset was a postcard and the sea breeze constant as we arrive on Spirit Of Zemi to dock at Generale de Gaulle around 2200, late of course having had an epic delivery of 80-odd miles from Antigua, the small rum punch-filled crowd hanging around after the opening night movie premier of “Vanishing Sail” and pre-regatta celebrations gave us a clap for getting there. We could tell this regatta had potential.

Angus “Biff” Biffin, the owner of Zemi had called me with bad news a week before I was due to fly, the rig had been taken out in a port / starboard incident during the Antigua Classic Regatta and the boat had suffered some damage. The guy who was using the boat was getting a new rig shaped but it’s looking tight. The rigs are made from wooden telegraph poles and shaped with an adze. There is a loaner boat available if it doesn’t come off so in the end we are on the loaner and rename it “Spirit of Zemi” for the regatta.

feilburg3Day 1.

Our crew Biff, Scotty Biff, Charles RS, Arthur and myself are supplemented by a crazy arse rasta Jason who somehow attached himself to the crew, and some local girls (Alice, Josephine and Valentina) allocated by the race organizers to get our crew numbers in line with the other Carriacou Sloops. We made no complaints.

The course is drawn out on a tourist map and handed out at the skippers’ briefing, and the start happens when some boat crosses the line.  We sort of take it in and get out on the course for the passage race of 15 odd miles in a 15 – 20 knot trade wind.

We’ve blown the start along with half the fleet, and talk of trading in our rasta, but get away in the end in reasonable shape with a long way to go. We made gains all day and it turns out that Spirit of Zemi is a weapon on the breeze. We’ve had a good day. No idea how we went and it’s not all that important.

Day 2

feilburg1I am assigned the race briefing duties, but unfortunately no curfew for the previous night.  So after a St Barth breakfast I was sitting comfortably at number 11 Struggle Street with no chance of a quick recovery.  There was talk of a race, a raft up and then a sprint race home.  I’m fuzzy on the details.

We nail the start and have a close tussle with another sloop all the way to the finish. We would try to reach over them, then bear away under hard but they responded well and held us out over the last 5 miles to beat us by a boatlength. The raft-up is a blast and the bay awesome.

The sprint back happens, and we had a great day. Still don’t know how we are going on handicap and it is still just as irrelevant as it was yesterday.

When all is said and done, Spirit of Zemi is awarded the “Spirit of the Regatta” trophy, the mayor personally invites us back anytime and Biff confirms the entry for next year. “That’s the way,” says Chuck, and the boys open another bottle of lady petrol.

Photo Credits: Charles Ross Smith.

May 14th, 2015

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s

The 2015 Sailing Anarchy/Sperry World Tour takes us to Newport, RI this week, along with a hundred thousand of our closest friends, and videographer Petey Crawford caught this shot of Mr. Clean trying to ‘fit in’ with other New England sporting traditions.

But poking fun at Patriot superfans is only part of the reason we’re here; The US stop is traditionally the point in the race where the next edition’s details start to solidify, and we’re here to dig up all that information. We’re also here to bring you two full hours of live TV talk shows from the VOR’s Boatyard; the first will present Sam, Dee and Sally from Team SCA, along with performance coach Brad Jackson and CEO Richard Brisius.  There are tough questions to answer, and kudos to these guys and gals for stepping up to answer them live, with big thanks to Nic Douglass for helping out as co-host alongside Clean.  You can watch it all happen tomorrow, right here on the front page, from 1430 local time.

Ask questions for the girls in the Newport stopover thread or send them in via Twitter with the hashtag #asksailinganarchy.  Best three questions win Team SCA t-shirts.

May 14th, 2015

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Waterlust once again takes you to new frontiers. Title thanks to Game of Thrones

 

May 13th, 2015

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This is a great story. It’s inspirational and a good reminder that the men and boats of yesteryear cannot be forgotten….

In 1947, two rocket scientists started playing around with sailboat design and started a project in their back yard in S. California. The result was SPARKLE — the boat to beat on the U.S. west coast for the next several decades (and still today in Port Townsend, WA).

Our friends at OffCenterHarbor.com have done it again on their 247th video!

 

May 12th, 2015

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Big Pimpin’

Here’s another exclusive from the ‘Ask Ullman’ series, this time with insights from Brad Stephens, Ullman Sails’ new Head of Technical Development, who talks about innovation in sailmaking and what’s next on the horizons for sails. Brad, a Sydney-based sail designer and sailmaker, has some serious credentials under his belt, including 30 years as a central figure in the development and optimization of D4® membrane technology and extensive experience as a technical expert and regional agent for sail and rig design software leader, SMAR Azure Ltd.

Q: Where do you think the next innovations in sailmaking will be? How can sails be made to hold their designed shape longer, yet be lighter and also more durable?

A: Shape holding, weight and durability form a series of constraints where it is hard to improve one characteristic without affecting another. Boat owners today see the trade-offs whenever they purchase sails. When a sailmaker offers a product with increased durability for club racing, we see that the boat takes a slight weight penalty. If the owner wants a lighter sail, they will find reduced durability. New innovations are being directed to improving each and all of these three constraints, but ultimately I think the trade-offs will always exist.

As to specifically what the next innovation in sailmaking will be, you will have to wait and see. Part of my role at Ullman Sails will be to join their ongoing efforts to identify and investigate innovation possibilities, help determine which opportunities show the most potential, and hopefully move to implement and test the best.

Q: What was the culture and environment that led to the development of the D4® membrane? When did you know you were developing something truly unique?

A: For various reasons Australia did not win the Kenwood Cup, held in Hawaii, in 1994. But one thing was clear – North Sails with 3DL had found a way to differentiate themselves from every other sailmaker. Whilst other sailmakers doubted their ability to compete against the new product, we took it as a challenge.

Looking back we were in a rather unique position to develop D4®. The design software that I had written in combination with previously undertaken design developments offered great insight into what would be meaningful in creating a new product. That, and the fact that particular patents of Peter Conrad were not registered in Australia, reduced the possibility of infringing existing intellectual property and gave us an initial market. Ultimately Bob Fraser’s skilled management of the business and our partners’ willingness to fund the project made the difference.

When I look around now and consider the number of sail membrane manufacturers using a similar approach to D4®, it is hard to see the initial uniqueness of D4®. In truth when we started none of the required machinery or software existed and we had to develop all that in order to get sails to the water.

Q: What mentality should boat owners take towards advances in sailmaking technology? Should they be holding their breath in anticipation? If something new is offered should they wait until after it’s been tested?

A: Boat owners should be excited about developments in sailmaking technology, but difficulties do arise when the application limits of new products are not well understood. Sailors should look out for the inappropriate use of the “next big thing”.
In sailmaking, just as in other fields of technical endeavor, new product development does not happen overnight.

There may be three to five years of R&D, proto-typing and testing prior to product release. By the time new sailmaking technology has hit the market a responsible sailmaker will have conducted a significant program of tests. This includes a sufficient quantity of both laboratory and real-world trials across a range of conditions. The trials provide meaningful feedback that is studied and incorporated into the product as it is refined until the product is finally ready for the market.

If you have a question for Brad or any other sail experts over at Ullman Sails about anything from sail design and construction to sail handling and tactics, send them to me and I will choose the best to forward on! – ed.

 

May 12th, 2015

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sleeve yachting cup friday.

After a tough go in our first regatta (the smallest boat in breeze and chop), the GP 26 Sleeve of Wizard got going in the CRA Opening Day race this past weekend. Big thanks to Doyle Sailmakers for building some fabulous sails for us.

The boat really is bitchin, but at 26′, we can see that it is much better racing to be in a fleet with like size speed and size boats. So come on So Cal, let’s get this fleet going! This is a fun, fast, sexy little rocket ship that is priced way below what you might think. Photo thanks to Cynthia Sinclair.

 

May 12th, 2015

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Glenn McCarthy keeps the heat on the ISAF and their Brazil boondoggle…

From International Sailing Federation’s (ISAF) perspective, here is exactly why ISAF must abandon the courses inside and outside Guanabara Bay immediately and order the event moved elsewhere to a clean water site in Brazil, it is no longer about the pursuit of perfection and fair play, it has become a Game of Chance:

CONCEPT 1
International Sailing Federation has not hired a statistician who has calculated the: boat damages; illness competitors have picked up; and, boats that have been stopped by hitting garbage in practice and regattas, and has not showed the math that Guanabara Bay will work. The evidence has shown that it doesn’t work to provide a fair contest.

CONCEPT 2
No one ever designed the sport with the expectation that the water can provide illness to competitors or is full of trash hampering competitors advances on a race course. There are no rules that address this.

Read on.

 

May 12th, 2015

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