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Chris Nicholson is indeed on the move for the Mediterranean, but not for the reason we all thought – at least not yet.  Nicho is headed to Malta for the start of the Middle Sea Race aboard George Sakellaris’ Mini-maxi Proteus.  As both the VOR and MSR start on the same day, it’s pretty clear someone else will be at the helm of Team AkzoNobel, at least until Lisbon.

We EXCLUSIVELY hear that former Vestas Wind and Camper skipper Chris Nicholson is headed for Spain right this moment to take over the AkzoNobel program, and of all the possible choices the paint group could make, this one is probably the best thanks to Nicho’s complete genuineness and the level of respect he gets from all sailors.  Best for getting the crew on board with the new program, best for having a chance to do well in the race, and best for Akzo.  Unfortunately for everyone, it sounds like it will take an Amsterdam judge to figure out who is to blame for the team’s going off the rails. 

Outgoing skipper Simeon Tienpont put out his own release last night with one crucial bit of information inside: According to Simeon,  Akzo’s allegation that he has breached their management contract “is absolutely unfounded and is very damaging to my reputation, especially in view of the timing, just before the start of the race. I can only guess that it is about a small budget overrun on a safety issue, but we have always been 100% transparent to AkzoNobel about our financial affairs and all our expenses have been made with their approval. It is them, not me, who is in clear breach of the contract.”

Meanwhile, Akzo published their own statement a few hours later:

“– Simeon Tienpont’s management company STEAM breached its contract to manage the team AkzoNobel entry in the Volvo Ocean race 2017-18
– The breach was serious enough for AkzoNobel to terminate the contract with immediate effect and AkzoNobel then took over the full management of the team
– Simeon was offered the option to continue as skipper but opted not to continue and has left the team

AkzoNobel has restated to us its unwavering commitment to our entry in the Volvo Ocean Race.  The sailing team and management are working together to move forward and find the best solution for the race which starts in seven days time.  As soon as the new skipper is confirmed we will make sure our sailing fans are the first to know about it.”

So, like any good argument, both parties think they are 100% correct, and that the other is to blame, and Tienpont has himself confirmed that the team was overbudget (some sources say by as much as $2M), but it’s telling that AkzoNobel’s messaging is completely silent – over and over again – on the nature of the breach.  Looking at our crystal ball and knowing how sensitive AkzoNobel’s brand new CEO is to bad publicity, we’d guess Simeon gets a quiet payoff in a few weeks…



October 15th, 2017

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Volvo may wish the world was talking about the Alicante In-Port Race – the first event of the 2017 Volvo Ocean Race – but most continue to talk about the last-minute ousting of Simeon Tienpont.  With VOR’s messaging off the rails (and still no information coming out of AkzoNobel other than a short statement) and now crew telling one publication that they are not leaving for Cape Town without Simeon, what VOR needs more than anything else is a breezy, heart-in-the-throat race around the mediterranean port.

Unfortunately, the forecast is for 10 knots or less, meaning the racing is likely to suck.  More fortunately, Andy Green and Sally Barkow are in the commentary booth.  If Facebook is blocked in your country, head over to the VOR site to watch their bespoke, un-embeddable player (yep, somehow, some brilliant media staffer built a bespoke player…in 2017…seriously).

UPDATE: Is the VOR so broke that they don’t even have onboard audio and video for this race?   Holy shit, this thing really is off the rails.  Piss poor graphics, no narrative setup, dockout show, or dock walk – we heard they had cut their video budget way down, but we didn’t realize they had less money in their live budget than the 5O5 worlds…

To be fair, the first in-port race is as much of a practice for everyone – including the media folks – as it is a real race, but if it were practice, you’d think they would at least have all their assets in place. If this is the sum total of the LIVE EXPERIENCE OF THE MOST EXTREME RACE IN THE WORLD as VOR would have you believe?  We all might just be yawning our way around the world.


October 14th, 2017

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Craigslist Find

1986 Flush Deck Evelyn 26. Great PHRF rating. $1800. Check it.

And you do know, don’t you, that we don’t really mean “crush it for $1,800”, right?

We mean get the thing in the door (maybe) for $1,800. Whether you choose to spend $1,500 on it or $15,000, either way, the purchase price simply gets you in the door of the awaiting house of horrors. Or in this case, no house.

Check it.


October 13th, 2017

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Apparently, even Europe isn’t safe from Atlantic Hurricanes this year! The latest nasty blow comes from Ophelia, and like the rest of the storms this season, she’s going after a yachting destination as well as the homeland of the guy who wrote Hamlet.

Good luck to the people of Cork and the English and Irish South Coasts as this extratropical storm gives you a bit more than you’re used to this time of year.

NOAA Discussion here.

October 13th, 2017

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UPDATE – Statement from AkzoNobel:

Following a breach of contract Simeon Tienpont left his role as skipper of team AkzoNobel in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race on Friday, October 13, 2017.  AkzoNobel, the owner and title partner of team AkzoNobel, has confirmed it’s fully committed to the team competing in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race.  An announcement confirming who will take over the skipper role will be made shortly.

The jury is definitely still out on whether Simeon breached his contract with Akzo, or Akzo breached their contract with Simeon, and there are undoubtedly lawyers somewhere billing a lot of hours on this one.  We’ve also learned that Simeon’s crew will take the AZ on the water tomorrow without him…

Two time VOR racer and America’s Cup winner Simeon Tienpont was the first in with the only brand-new VO65 in the race, but weeks of rumors that his job was on the rocks have crescendoed today with the first In-Port Race on the air tomorrow.  While Tom Ehman (now the second person in the world to bother breaking VOR news) reported a few minutes ago that Simeon’s been excused from further duties with the team, we’ve heard from several sources that the decision hasn’t been made yet and that the Dutchman may still salvage the situation…with about 16 hours to go until tomorrow’s race.

No one will talk on the record so there’s just one way to find out what’s happening.  Tune in tomorrow as the 2017 VOR shitshow begins!



October 13th, 2017

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With just four boats at the Valencia Melges 40 Grand Prix, the Melges 40 seems to be having trouble getting traction. Are they cool tools and fast as hell? No doubt. But they are expensive, far from pretty, and with the Fast 40 Class taking off, this was always going to be a tough go.  Now add the brand new Melges 37 into the mix and that is not a recipe for M40 success.

It would be great to have that kind of paper to play in this arena but few do, and if there were hopes of current and former Melges 32 owners stepping up, that does not appear to have materialized.  We love Melges boats and hope to be proven wrong! Photo thanks to Barracuda Communications – tons more really good shots here.


October 12th, 2017

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Reader Riff

So the America’s Cup is going mono-hulls again, but is it really? Foiling boats don’t use their hulls for displacement, but rather just for take-off and landing. Just like planes use their wheels, but we don’t call planes “cars”, so why care if it is a foiling mono-“hull” or foiling multi-“hull”… the hulls don’t count!

If the new rule states that they SHALL sail in displacement mode upwind and then MAY foil downwind, then we have a challenge that relates to the sailing community that the rest of us live in….

Or else they will be nothing more scaled up Moths, a technical feat easily solved with altitude control computers/hydraulics, but boats that will not trickle down to us, and yes, more of the same.

– Anarchist Roger


October 12th, 2017

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…For way less than half the cost of a Melges 40, one could jump into a decent Ker 40. Just something to ponder – brought to you by Seahorse Brokerage.


October 12th, 2017

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Or is it? Here’s a question that at first has the obvious answer of “NO”, and that is once we start sailing the Anarchy III (first race is the CRA Halloween Regatta October 28!), do you think we should fly the blooper that came with the boat?

Pictured here is the Santa Cruz 33 Freight Train sailed by Gary Swenson in the (we think) 1977 Santa Barbara to King Harbor race. It is obviously working in the pic, but would it today?

Jump in and let the insults fly!

NEW: Here’s the best response in a pretty long, and remarkably fun thread about said Blooper:

Scooter, I had a Santa Cruz 27 for a decade — from 1975 (new from the factory) until I moved to Europe in 1985. Since my brother is a sail maker, I had every sail anyone could imagine, including bloopers. The first few years, most other SC27s also had bloopers, and we often had several well sailed SC27s in any given race.

After about a year or two of Wet Wednesdays and other high-frequency events, it was very, very clear that bloopers were slower. Whichever boats used bloopers were down positions or at least distance by the leeward mark, no matter which boats used or did not use bloopers. And we all sometimes used them, and sometimes did not. All these boats had good sail programs and good sailors. All the boats were new. Racing was very tight.

SC27 and SC33 have essentially identical hull forms, SA/D, SA/WS, D/L ratios, so I would be astonished if this lesson did not apply to your SC33.

So I would CERTAINLY fly a blooper, just because its fun and keeps the entire crew involved, and is appropriate for the era the boat was built. Like playing tunes by the Beach Boys in a ’63 Corvette convertible, or Highway Star in a ’71 Plymouth Cuda Hemi with a 4 speed.

But I no longer care about winning trophies: I threw away a dumpster full of them in 1985. If you want trophies (nothing wrong with that!!) then don’t fly the blooper.

I’m turbo-ing the shit out of my Olson 40!  I could not care less what happens to my rating.


October 11th, 2017

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Many people say the future of sailing depends on the development of 3 lines of attack, 3 markets if you like. I believe there is a 4th apparently undiscovered by most MNAs or World Sailing but that’s a subject for a different article.

Sunday 1st October saw the opening of the Optimist Asian and Oceanian Championship in Hong Kong with 132 youngsters ready to do battle. Importantly these included around 50 girls therefore ticking the first two boxes towards building our sport – youngsters and female competitors which at 38% represents a much higher ration than in most of the adult classes (Where do we lose them to our sport?)

The third box ticked of course comes in the title of the event as Asia is very much an up and coming area for our sport with many of the keen developing nations located in the area. It was interesting to see that along with the more established teams like China and Singapore, Myanmar fielded a team, one of whom provided, what was for me, a highlight of the event (more on that later).

Also there were some of the more experienced sailing nations including the New Zealanders who performed a traditional Hakka (less traditionally led by a girl) and the Australians accompanied by inflatable boxing kangaroos od AC 1983 fame. It was interesting to see that although the late Alan Bond has since been vilified for corporate and tax affairs the national sporting symbol his team introduced is still much in evidence.

They were met by Lion dancers and as the opening ceremony coincided with China’s National Day and 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover so the gathered assembly was treated to a spectacular firework display from barges placed in Victoria Harbour and as the Royal Hong Kong YC is the only piece of original shoreline in the harbour they had the best view in the city.

The actual action started the next day at RHKYC’s Middle Island base. There can be few yacht clubs that have 3 such wonderful and varied facilities as this, one of Asia’s premier yacht clubs.

Throughout the week the sailors had all sorts of conditions thrown at them but mainly in the 8-15 knots range giving idea competitive sailing. A current that with the event being sailing in near spring tide conditions added to the challenge to the sailors with much overstanding of the top mark and sometime difficult conditions for the race management teams on the committee boat and support craft. Course Race Officer, Charlie Manzoni with the airwaves buzzing with “course axis” and “course range”. That said the target time of around 50 minutes for a race was pretty much always about spot on and all races were completed.

Start lines were crowded, more often than not at the pin end, sometimes because it was indeed biased but I suspect there was an element of sheep like behaviour in the mix too and often a clear air start with a good lane in the middle of the line might have been more advantageous.

This crowding led to the Black Flag being in much evidence in the regatta and boy does that colour appear to focus sailors minds somewhat as error rate regarding being OCS fell like a stone each time it made its appearance at the Preparatory Signal.

As you would expect at a regatta of this stature on the water judging was in force, particularly looking for Rule 42 infringements which while not of epidemic proportions – one or two clearly thought that having been caught once meant they wouldn’t be caught again leading to an expensive DSQ. Most of the youngsters however clearly understood the phrase  ‘only the wind and water’ and used just those two elements. Encouraging to see!

The 4 days of racing with the fleet split after the first two days into the upper and lower produced a worthy winner in Singapore’s Muhammad Daniel Kei Bin Muhammad Yazid, who pipped China’s Lin Xilun by just one point.

3 of the next 4 places were filled by young Turks however showing the growing strengths of this country as a sailing nation, certainly at the youth level.

In the team racing, held on the Wednesday in the middle of the race the top 16 teams did battle, not only with each other but the weather with the racing suspended at one point with the rescue teams on standby as lightning hit a radio town at the nearby Ocean park and 33 knots of wind and needle like race swept the course reducing visibility to under 200 metres at one point.

Nobody ran away though and after many hard fought battles the Chinese team faced the Young Turks in the final which eventually went China’s way.

A great regatta that had just about everything, good (fair) competition, well managed, a team of volunteers that almost outnumbered the competitors. If all our sport was like this, suffice to say no one would worry about its future.

One last thing – that ‘highlight” I alluded to earlier. It was the last race and everyone had finished. Wait – there was still one competitor still way down the course. Everyone – committee boat, finish line, safety boats, jury boat ALL stayed on station. She was a young sailor from Myanmar at clearly her first big regatta. She could easily have sailed off the course and gone home but she battled on -VERY last.

As she approached the finish boat on the starboard layline she sailed into the lee of the finish boat and tipped in. Again she could have given up. She got the boat upright, bailed it a little and battled out of the wind shadow.

Over the radio came the instruction from Course Race Officer Manzoni “Leave the finish line open” (I deliberately didn’t check my watch). As she crossed the line she received spontaneous applause from all the boats around. Competing isn’t just about winning, for some it is just about finishing what you started – It was her own victory!

I’m sure many of our sailing careers started that way but many of us forget. It kind of sums up the professional and yet realistic manner in which the whole event was run.

Shanghai Sailor

Title inspiration thanks to, without irony, Future. – ed


October 11th, 2017




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