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Bouwe Bekking takes a look back at leg one of the Volvo Ocean Race. Enjoy!

Sitting on the veranda of a nice winery near Stellenbosch , a bottle of water, some small healthy snacks and my lovely wife besides me. The sort of drink and food thanks to our splendid health advisors. It sounds maybe strange but not even missing the alcohol after nearly 9 months standing dry. You have to do something to stay in shape and leaving the booze for what it is has helped me a lot. Actually right now preparing for our crewmeeting on wednesday, when all the boys are due to back for business. During that meeting we will go over all the aspects of the first leg, underneath the leg review. Good thing is that I can stripe that of the agenda for our meeting .

We didn’t do a lot of homework in Alicante, no outside weather expert on site, saving money and more important, as Capey (our navigator) said, this one I have got the grip on and know what to expect.
First impression: the easiest leg I have ever done into Capetown: reason not very windy. One front passage leaving Gibraltar gave us briefly 40 knots , although on the nose and from then a cake ride , with the most breeze in the southern ocean was only 27 knots.

The start was good ,leading the way and maybe most important happy faces for sponsors and the hunderds of cloggies who where there to say farwell. It amazes me always so quickly you get back in the routine. One thing I learned from previous races is not to go crazy with sail changes in a thundery conditions like we had: it burns the guys out , but more important is that they don’t get pissed of , as very often if the reactions are impulsive you end up quickly with the wrong sail, meaning doing another sail change. We had our game plan ready and more less stuck to it until we arrived in Gibraltar. Our aim was always to be within 4-5 miles of whoever was leading and don’t split. That girls made a jump on us didn’t worry us for a moment. They made the right move avoiding the big east going current in the Straight of Gibraltar, but we stuck with the fleet, which meant we twice had to cross the east going river, with 4 knots of current. If one other boat would have gone towards gibraltar, we would have tacked as well, but we didn’t want to lead in.

Once well in the Straight we were in a solid 2nd place, but parked under rain cloud. Half an hour later, 8 miles behind number two, ouch, that hurted it bit, but you have to stay calm in such a situation. That evening we had the front passage and that went extremely well. We did the right things there, always well in time to size down in sail combinations and tacked at the right time when the front hit us , you sail quickly away form the mark, of you have a 70 degree windshift. From being 20 miles behind the girls, we were right up front with the others.

From there on it was hugging the African coast, as the Azores high was not established in its usual place, due to some big low pressure systems going across to Europe. For a couple of days it was playing the shifts and the south going current and always keeping an eye on the bearing compare the other boats. The reports Volvo organization is sending 4 times a day don’t mean any thing: we are actually only use the position of the other boats and having our own leaderboard / scoring system. The Volvo score might have a boat in the lead, meaning shortest distance away from Capetown, but in reality this boat can be last , if you take the routing into the account. One gybe can cost tremendously. So we always look at crosswinds, bearing and distance, that really says if we do well or not. As well of course we know if we had any hick-ups during a so-called sched. We did three back downs sailing close to the african coast , to get shit of our keel, not nice as these cost heaps, one did cost us nearly 8 miles!

Once leaving the coast of Mauritania we had a plan in place how we wanted to attack the doldrums. To option , go west, or go SW through the Cape Verdes islands. I don’t know how many routes Capey ran into our imaginary waypoint at the doldrums, but the western Route was never more than 20 minutes behind. A no brainer for us , that route through the Cape Verdes was too risky.

We were in close company of Abu and in in good shape, sometimes they lost, sometimes we lost due to clouds, amazing how much impact this can have. One example: once we were in the SE trades, only 2.5 miles to leeward, we ended up on the wrong side of a cloud. Within 45 minutes, Abu was 8 miles to weather and gained 90 degrees of bearing and this loss got more expensive as from there they always sailed first into the lifting pressure.

The south atlantic we played again conservatively , knowing that south was king, we didn’t do any strange things and stayed to our game plan. Vestas sailed heaps more miles, but risky in our opinion. Ok , they did cross us eventually, but only with 3 miles. If the shift would have come any earleir , they could have missed out by a lot. Abu played middle ground and lost out to us both. This was the point where we started riding the first weak front, 20-23 knots of breeze. We were going well, slowly gaining on both and we knew at one stage we had to make our 90 degree turn in to capetown.. We always wanted to be the most southern boat, as for whatever reason south has very often 1-2 knots more pressure, Abu gybed one hour before us and dongfeng 2 hours before. We lost respectively 22 and 44 miles , not too worried at that stage, but as we all know the pressure never came and we lost out. Game over for the leg. But i have to say we were happy with our performance that last part, not losing out as much as we expected against the leaders and sailing away from the windmill boat. By the way, same team will be onboard TeamBrunel for leg 2.

cheers,

bouwe

 

November 10th, 2014

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the winner

RdR Breaking

Loick Peyron just did the almost impossible, he set the new Route du Rhum elapsed time record! 07 Days 15 hours 8 minutes et 32 seconds, 22.93 knots average speed and he  beat  Lionel Lemonchois record by 2h 10mn 34s! See more here, and we’ll have the full story shortly. Photo thanks to Mark Lloyd.

 

November 9th, 2014

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An interesting look at part of the VOR we tend not to think much about…

During the first leg, the nine crew members of Team Brunel all lost a number of kilos of muscle mass and fat. Team Brunel has a specialised medical staff in order to ensure that they are fit for the start of the second leg to Abu Dhabi on 19 November. Manual therapist Mark Haak plays an important role, and has previously supported the Ajax footballers and various Olympic athletes in their recuperation.

 “At the finish, the men are still pumped up with adrenaline and stress hormones,” Mark explains. “They still feel reasonably good at that point. It’s not until the second day that the tiredness hits them and they lose the muscle coordination in their legs. The switch from top gear to first gear also costs energy. The most important change is their sleeping patterns however. Instead of snatching four hours’ sleep, they can now spend a full night in bed during a stopover.” Read on.

 

November 9th, 2014

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Leg 1 of the Volvo is over, the Rhum fleet screams towards the Caribbean, some Midwest college action, remembering the memories, and much more in this week’s edition of Video Anarchy.

The King of the Atlantic

it was a different Banque Populaire Maxi that Loick Peyron took to the ultimate record smash, but today’s accomplishment is almost as good; the affable Francais and SA fan is just a few hours from breaking the absolute Route Du Rhum record, more than a hundred miles ahead of the bigger, faster boat he once skippered!  Peyron needs to average around 15 knots to break the Lemonchois record (of 7d aboard a boat he was only recruited to sail a couple of months ago, and with Michel Desjoyeaux and Franck Cammas flailing around in their own pursuits lately, Peyron cements his legendary place as today’s king of the Atlantic.  The Route Du Rhum thread just keeps getting better and better, especially now that Anarchist “Laurent” is back putting English translations on the best videos from the course like today’s note from Loick; thanks Laurent! The latest page of the thread is here, or read from the beginning here.

Heart of Darkness

The last time we got excited about a sailing movie was when Peter Weir brought Patrick O’Brian’s incredible Master and Commander to the big screen with the help of at least one Anarchist rigger.  The movie was badass to sailors and mostly well-received by critics, though it never got close to making up the USD$150 million it cost to make – part of the reason we haven’t seen another big budget nautical movie in the intervening decade.

But now there’s a new one, and it’s based on the scariest fish story of all time.  Heart of the Sea is directed by one of the best of the generation, adapting a spectacular book written by a guy who once won a major Sunfish championship.  You can learn more in the thread, but for now, just click “HD” and turn the sound up.  This one is worth it.

Final Fourth

It’s full of clips that any real Volvo fan saw days or weeks ago, isn’t really targeted at knowledgable sailors, and occasionally forgets that it’s telling stories about a race rather than a cruise, but the fourth installment of Volvo’s Life at the Extreme TV series continues to improve on earlier episodes, even if only in fits and starts.  If anything, it’s a great show to share with non-sailing squares – students at school or your friends, families, or whomever has shown an inability to really comprehend what you do on Saturdays and Wednesday nights, or why you always have bruises after some of those long weekends.  For our part we don’t expect to embed these for you after this one – there’s just better stuff coming from the teams and VOR and we prefer to highlight that.

We’re not particularly bullish on cable TV and we don’t expect to get bowled over by the race’s American TV ratings now that NBCSN is running the series, but we’re not at all sure it matters.  With over a million Facebook fans and a monster news, social media and video footprint right now, it’s clear the investments they’ve made in staff, one-design boats and communications are paying.

The race’s biggest problem is the typical Sailing Anarchy reader, because they need you.  It’s your support that keeps interest up between races and it’s yachtie brand-loyalty that sustains interest in this race over the decades.   But you know too much, you expect too much, and it’s impossible to keep you happy, which is why we tell everyone that the Ocean Racing Anarchy forum threads are really the best tool to follow the race.  Let the Anarchists curate the information coming out of the boats and race HQ for you, and follow along there yourself.  Relive the leg 1 thread here, and be ready for Leg 2 by subscribing to the thread.  Check the short Leg 1 review reel here.  Those of you coming over to Cape Town for the festivities, the schedule is here.

The People’s Skipper

Whitbread skipper, sailmaker, and everyone’s favorite Cork character Joe English died last week, and we salute the Irishman with this short film following Joe and wife April’s journey with the early-onset Alzheimer’s that eventually took his life.  If the film (or Joe’s memory) touched your life, consider donating to The Alzheimer Society of Ireland.  Thread here.

Big Fish/Little Pond

Our friend Sarah Sloan over at the Michigan Sailing Team hits us with a little news from the Big Ten Team Race last week in Ann Arbor; scores and details here, and thanks to U of M sailor Zachary Frankel for the movie.

Six months after the Worst Winter Ever and the resulting perpetually froze lake caused the University of Michigan Sailing Team to postpone and reschedule the Big 10 Team Race regatta, six teams from the MCSA came to Ann Arbor to compete for the top prize (in this case, a giant jar of Halloween candy and their name on an impeccably polished trophy).

In an uncharacteristic display of charity, Michigan Weather decided to provide us with exceptional fall weather and wind Saturday and Sunday. The University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin, Northwestern University, Marquette University, the University of Notre Dame, and the Ohio State University sailed all day under blue skies and with a blowing breeze. Michigan ended the day undefeated in first, and everyone returned back to campus for a night of relaxation and warm showers.

Even though there was a decrease in temperature and wind speed on Sunday, the level of competition was still incredibly high, with the day ending in a sail-off between the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin. Michigan won the final race, but subsequently lost off the water when a protest brought to the judges went in the favor of Wisconsin, who clenched the top spot for the weekend.

It seemed, however, that everyone drove away Sunday afternoon feeling victorious. UofM isn’t going to name names, but we overheard members of another team claiming they haven’t had as much fun at a regatta as they did at Big Ten since they were freshman. It’s hard to stay upset about your performance on the water when you put your accomplishments in perspective; how many college students can say they got to spend the weekend on the water with the coolest kids across the Midwest?

 

November 9th, 2014

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Thousands of dead fish have begun mysteriously washing up in the polluted Rio bay that will host sailing events at the 2016 Olympics — and experts are at a loss to explain why.

Guanabara Bay has already been the subject of concern amongst sailors who are to compete in Rio because of the human sewage that gets pumped into its waters. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has expressed confidence that Guanabara will be fit for purpose by the time of the games.

But the recent appearance of thousands of dead fish, and the foul stench of their rotting carcasses, has attracted further scrutiny with the Olympics less than two years away. Read on.

 

November 9th, 2014

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Local Knowledge

illusion 1The second of the 2014 – 2015 season’s Illusion Regattas took place at Bembridge over the weekend. The race report reads as follows:

Saturday’s racing for this year’s Illusion Guy Fawkes Trophy at Bembridge was almost “ridiculous” in the F 5-6 gusting F7 Southerly winds, and on Sunday conditions were almost “sublime” with a F1-3 South/South Westerly!

With racing very definitely restricted to the harbour, eight boats braved the very breezy conditions on Saturday. The second race went Mark’s way with his wife Jo having a great race coming in second and Julia Bailey third ahead of Graham who had at one time been almost at the back of the fleet. In the final race of the day, with both Graham & Raymond deciding enough was enough & retiring, the way was left for Mark to notch up his second win of the day; Julia survived and came in second and Jo was third. After retiring in the two earlier races, it was good to see Alastair Speare-Cole finishing in fourth.

A flat RIB battery, a stuck crane, two minutes silence at 11:00 and no wind lead to Sunday’s start being postponed for just over half an hour. However, patience paid off for the increased fleet of twelve Illusions and although never above about 8 knots and very shifty, there was some close racing in the calm conditions off Silver Beach. In the final race and with the breeze backing southerly as it progressed, it was James Meaning’s turn to show everyone a clean pair of heels. Bruce & Mark were a very close second and third with Andy Christie in a very creditable fourth.

Overall results (with a discard):

1. Graham Sunderland ( 15 points)
2. Mark Downer (17 points)
3. Raymond Simonds (20 points)
4. Julia Bailey (21 points)

 

November 9th, 2014

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Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 11.43.30 AM

After two years of fleetbuilding, Caribbean Melges 32 President and former Mr. Clean crewmate Jaime Torres checks in from San Juan.  Meanwhile, the 20 year-old Prince of Monaco is leading the M32 Gold Cup fleet after 2 races in Miami Beach.  Joy Dunigan photo.

In 2012, there were a handful of Melges 32s scattered all over the Caribbean, many of them either fading away under the hot sun or barely being used in their local waters; the one exception being Mark Plaxton’s Intac. Plaxton had been racing his boat very successfully against handicap competition in the northern Caribbean while getting his one-design fix stateside, but he was looking for more, and he and his team were instrumental in convincing the International Melges 32 Class Association to bring their roadshow to the Caribbean in the spring of 2013. This 3-event tour opened the eyes of local sailors to the phenomenal experience of racing this kind of ultra-high performance one design racer in the world-beating conditions at our wonderful Caribbean venues.

I was the first to jump at the chance, picking up what would become Smile and Wave and a largely Puerto Rican team to help represent the Caribbean at the 9-boat-strong events.  When Puerto Rico’s Luis Juarbe saw the kind of fun we were having he jumped in, though his new (to him) Soca ran into shipping issues and only made the last event.  I kept pushing for other owners to join the fun, and usually after a few hours aboard Smile and Wave, they were in.

For the 2014 season, Ian Hope Ross from St. Maarten revived the aging Jurakan, renaming her Kick ‘em Jenny, while extremely successful  handicap skipper Sergio Sagramoso joined the fun with Lazy Dog.  And just recently, Midwest racer Tom Elsen bought Catapult and will be making his Caribbean debut soon.

As it stands today, we have 5 boats racing with a 6th boat in the Dominican Republic making plans to make the move East for the Spring 2015 events.  In Trinidad there’s a 7th boat looking for an owner…

To focus all this energy, we’re getting the local Melges 32 fleet organized. We built a simple website, came up with some proposed Class Rule changes to reflect the specified needs of Caribbean owners, and we’ve planned a ranked series using some of the awesome events that call the Caribbean their home.  Our first warmup event for the 2015 season was last week’s Discover the Caribbean Regatta [which Torres won -ed] at Ponce’s gorgeous Yacht and Fishing Club in PR, and in a couple of weeks, we’re off to the St. Croix International Regatta.

2015 should be a big year for the local Melges 32 Caribbean fleet as all the well established northern Caribbean events have pledged full support for Melges 32 One Design racing, including dedicated courses and events tailored to the needs and desires of the owners.  If you are a Melges 32 owner looking to put your boat and crew through the paces in some of the world’s most popular and beautiful race events, you have plenty of time bring your boat to these amazing events and the Melges 32 Caribbean group will be there to assist you in any way you need.  We’re dedicated to providing very inclusive, high-quality racing for the Melges 32 fleet, and we can help you learn how to do it at a surprisingly low cost in the best sailing spots in the world.

Check out our site here and Facebook page here, or email me with questions here.

Jaime Torres, Smile and Wave

President, Caribbean Melges 32 Association

 

November 8th, 2014

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Well not exactly easy, but the Route du Rhum fleet is well on their way (most of them). The folks at Easy Ride put together this beautiful video from the start just a few days ago. Dig it.

 

November 7th, 2014

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Class Action

smile and waveHow cool would it be to compete in a National One Design class on a Morelli and Melvin designed catamaran that can be bought easily for around $2500?!

Imagine sailing six races a day, flying a hull, and competing against several world champions, and still have the energy to attend the after race party.  It is here and we are doing it!

The International Wave Class Association’s  Wave North Americans are underway at the Pensacola Beach Yacht Club.  Say what you will about the Hobie Wave, but they are fun, faster than a Laser on all points of sail (in >10k breeze), and hell it is one design! With only one string to pull, they are far less tweaky than most other boats.  We all have our high performance beach cats and/or PHRF boats but we love our one design races too.

The competitors are great; Tom Whitehurst is a former World Champion in Sunfish and Olympic medalist in 470′s. Most recently he and Kirk Newkirk (also several National titles) won the Florida 300. Tom is now a professional coach and has helped me for years. We even have a SCOTW in the fleet!

We got in 3 races on day 1 with light and fluky north winds. The breeze changed directions four times and challenged the competitors and race committee.  My wife, the SCOTW, managed to pin Tom on the left side so I could capitalize on fresher breeze coming in from the right. Nothing like husband/wife team racing! Rick White (IWCA founder and former Wave Nat’l Champ) won the day with a 1,3,1. I am pumped to be two points out of first with a 2,2,3. Tom is in third with a 4,1,4. It feels great to be beating my coach although I know it is short lived and I should probably put the boat on the trailer today and end on a high note.

Day two brought steady breeze, six races, and many changes in the points.  The top three competitors shuffled with Tom Whitehurst in the lead with 14 points, myself tied at 14 points, and Rick White slipping to 20 points.  The race for overall female also closed to within 2 points.  The wind did not cooperate on day 3.

All of the essential elements were here, great competition, awesome after race parties at the Pensacola Beach Yacht Club, lots of smack talk, protest threats quilled by beer bribes, hot chicks and most importantly, the camaraderie that only exists while sailing with hot chicks. Kirk Newkirk of Key Sailing competed and supplied the committee boats.

My coach won on a tie breaker, but I am still married to a SCOTW! Full results here. Photo Gallery here.

Come and sail with us in Islamorada December 4-7 at the Wave Nationals. – Anarchist Mike.

 

November 7th, 2014

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It’s over, final, fin; the Chicago boating season for 99% of us is complete. Upon coming to this harsh reality, I reached out to friends and friends of friends via social media interwebs and garnered images to wrap up the season. The response from the community was fantastic.

I collected so much more than images. What I found is all of us share the same desires and habits. Our love of the water brings us together whether we sail, fish, swim, paddle board, or fly a kite on the beaches. Of course, it seems rum and beers bring us together pretty well too. After sifting through the images, it’s obvious that whether we know each other through personal experience or not, we know each other through the love of boating and the water.

I want to send out a huge thank you to everyone that participated and gave me permission to use their photos. You’re the best and I’m proud to be a part of the Chicago boating community.

Achtung! Neither Crowley’s Yacht Yard nor I own these photos and were given permission to use them for this purpose only. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. Click here for the pics.

 

November 7th, 2014

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blink coad

Brothers Race Nov 2014

The forecast looked pretty good, reach/downwind out of the harbour, upwind in 20 knots to round the Brothers Islands, then a downwind blast in 25-30 to get home… Wellington’s northerly quarter winds often get accelerated and this day was no exception. The first reach and run out of the harbour were sublime, Blink led the rest of the 40-footers out of the harbour by 5 minutes, and at the south coast extended to a 15-minute lead. If the forecast held, a race record seemed possible and calculations led some friends of ours to arrange a helicopter for some photos. Unfortunately the beat up from the south coast to the other side of Cook Strait came with a 35-knot headwind, and we couldn’t keep our VMG high enough in those conditions to stay on record pace.

There was still hope, downwind with the A6 up in mid-30s windspeeds might make up some of that lost time… but it wasn’t to be. a series of lulls on the downwind kept us off full pace and then we were greeted by 35-50 knots just ahead of our beam all the way back across the south coast and then a tough beat with multiple short tacks into the harbour against 40+ knots and outgoing tide. Not so fast.

But the big wind wasn’t the scary part, the holy crap moment came when we gybed while doing 18 knots of boat speed to see a large whale about 20 metres dead ahead on our pre-gybe line. Had we not gybed we’d have hit that at speed and it wouldn’t have been nice for us or the whale. – Tony Wells, owner of the Shaw 40 Blink. Photo thanks to Chris Coad.

 

November 5th, 2014

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first blood 2

Abu did it. A bunch of great shots courtesy of Trevor Wilkins are right here.

 

November 5th, 2014

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Of course the recent midterm elections only confirmed that this country is maybe dumber than ever, and that’s really saying something. But without a doubt, the epicenter of Dumbfuckistan this time has to be Lake County. The 633 ignorant retards who voted to elected Russell Purdock to the Lakeport City Council really should have their right to vote eliminated.

This allegedly murderous, corrupt ex-cop scumbag killed someone through sheer negligence and disregard, yet the fucks of Lake County elected him to a government position? God help us all…

 

November 5th, 2014

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Yes, they have! Watch the finish with Genny Tulloch and Mark Covell, live above.  And thanks to VOR for doing it.

 

November 5th, 2014

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Quite a feat. Full story here.

 

November 5th, 2014

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Mark Chisnell reports on the week four action in Leg One of the Volvo Ocean Race, as the teams dodged around the St Helena High and dived south for their first taste of the Southern Ocean. It turned out to be a fickle beast this time around, and they got just a brief high speed ride before they found themselves back dodging the high pressure. Twice. And the high is still lurking in the final approach to Cape Town.

We are into the final approach and there isn’t much race left for a prize-winning move by any of the navigators. Read on.

 

November 5th, 2014

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Not your average kit boat, to be sure, but no doubt a really great opportunity for the right guy….

C:Documents and SettingsUlfLokale indstillingerTempBGPlot_1LYMAN MORSE Boatbuilding of Thomaston Maine is offering at auction the rare opportunity to purchase a partially complete 70′ offshore cruiser.  Approximately 60% complete, the yacht can be purchased as-is and finished to your specifications.

Partially finished, this yacht was designed by Ulf Rogeberg, the architect responsible for so many of the proven sea going Deerfoot designs. With many of the mechanicals in place, build time is significantly less than starting from scratch.

Pick your finishes and let us finish the boat to the typical high end standards of Lyman-Morse, or get involved and create a yacht to suit your every desire and enjoy the satisfaction of being part of the remaining specification process. More here.

 

November 5th, 2014

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That we are even having this discussion is retarded, but we wonder if this announcement from the America’s Cup is an indication that Bermuda is going to be the actual venue for the AC?  The retarded part is not Bermuda, but rather that San Diego remains the supposed front runner for the choice. Light air Dago, in a stupid small venue, in a protected, boring bay for christ’s sake!

The America’s Cup World Series – a racing circuit featuring the best sailors in the world, competing on foiling, wingsailed catamarans – will be coming to Bermuda in October of 2015.

Read on.

 

November 5th, 2014

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first blood

The new Farr 280 bested the new C&C 30 at the STC Annapolis Fall Regatta. The 30 beat em boat for boat in all three races, and the 280 beat em on corrected in all three races. Sounds like there’s gonna be some good battles to come! Results here.

 

November 4th, 2014

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Solo Figarists Nick Cherry and Henry Bomby continue with Sailing Anarchy’s 2014 Route Du Rhum coverage, sponsored by Bruce Schwab Energy Systems. Please get in touch with the Vendee veteran to find out how his energy storage, solar power, and charging systems can benefit your cruising or racing boat today, and enjoy Nick and Henry’s latest analysis.  Hit the thread for all the latest news, photos, videos, and analysis.

Big conditions meant a premature end to the huge ‘thank f*** they’re gone’ party for Route Du Rhum shore crew and race staff in St. Malo on Sunday night, just as it has for some 13 official abandonments on the race track.  A further 20-odd boats are in less-dire-but-still-bad shape, headed to port or to find some shelter in order to fix damaged sails, rudders, and bodies.  Obviously the weather has been heinous, with two solid fronts kicking the fleets in the face with gusts reported up to 60 knots and some nasty seas, especially rounding the corner at Brest. The most high-profile casualty has been Thomas Coville, who managed to prang a cargo ship in the night just in front of the TSS off Ushant. With closing speeds between the ship and trimaran of 40 knots, dark skies, and awful visibility, it’s a wonder that more of these guys haven’t hit anything. It’s yet another blow for the Sodeb’o campaign, which adds this failed attempt to something of a pile of them over the past few years.  Coville may be one of the world’s best, but we wonder if he didn’t piss off an old gypsy woman sometime over the past decade…

Perhaps most worrying amongst the early dropouts are two keel losses/failures on the new Sabrosa Mk II Class 40 sisterships of Francois Anglouvant (picked up by a chopper from his capsized hull) and Marc Lepesqueux, who managed to fill ballast, drop sails and sail downwind to Guernsey. I’m no mathematician but the chances of both these guys hitting a submerged object seems pretty low, and we guess their design and build team (which included Anglouvant) is trying to figure out what happened right now, while thanking their lucky stars that no one was killed.

The decision by race director Gilles Chiorri to send the fleet off into this storm is refreshing in the light of so many big races being delayed in recent years. Many skippers – particularly in the handicap Rhum class –  chose to do something we rarely see these days; they waited out the worst of the storm before going yachting.

Ultimate Update

All the fleets have spread out by now, but none more so than the Ultimes, where Loic Peyron is having an absolute blinder aboard BPVII, steadily pulling out a sixty mile lead over Yann Guichard on the Spindrift (who isn’t showing any signs of using his extra nine meters of length to catch up). Watching these guys go off the start was jaw dropping, with Coville looking picture perfect early on and Sydney Gavignet giving the spec fleet some ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ flying his center hull as he weaved through the spectator boats.   We caught up with Sidney here; click the link for a video interview where we chatted about ‘Oh, Sheet’ release systems and weather routing.

Bollard cleatGiven that sailing a big multi alone is a full-time job, these guys are aiming not to go downstairs at all during the race. Yann Ellies on Paprec has a staff of three top guys holed up in a house in Brittany running a watch system looking at forecasts and on-board data basically playing a full-on version of the virtual race game. He’s planning to have Skype messenger on 24/7 and regular sat phone calls, leaving him free to ease sheets off one of these bollard/cleat arrangements at any time. Whatever you think of shore-based routers they are here to stay, and this race pits the best weather guys against each other across the Ultime fleet.

Macif Attack

Francois Gabart is, once again, showing why no one has been able to touch him for the past couple of years; 30 miles over Jeremie Beyou in a sistership and 50 over Marc Guillemot aboard Safran. Vincent Riou and Tanguy De Lamotte are all but out of this race with mainsail track issues and rudder damage respectively. These guys are in for a fast crossing with few passing lanes; look for Gabart to continue to push his lead right through the finish line.

Rogue Racing

True to form over the last couple of years, Seb Rogues in GDF Suez is leading the way as the 40s reach down towards Cap Finisterre. There’s been a definite split in this class, with the first fifteen or so boats who made it out of the channel in good shape having put some serious miles on the B fleet of stragglers as they get into better and better breeze.

Fifty First Dates

The prize for most dropouts goes to the Multi 50 fleet, where currently only six out of eleven starters are left in the running, with the three favourites occupying the top spots. On the dock some of these boats looked like they might be better off in a museum than a storm and it seems that maybe Neptune agreed!?

Fast Forward

Looking ahead at the weather, things are starting to calm down for the big trimarans and IMOCA fleet, and with the Azores high still located quite far north, these skippers should be able to sail a fairly direct route for the next few days before the wind drops a little and goes further aft.  Then it’ll be lots of gybing to line up their approach to Guadeloupe.  The slower boats will have to negotiate another (hopefully less violent) front toward the end of the week, which could create some lanes for some of the early losers.  We’ll keep you posted.

-Nick and Henry

UPDATE: DAMAGE REPORT FROM DAYS 1-3

Sunday 2 November
-9h00 : Luc Coquelin (Classe Rhum) hit by dive boat when at anchor, damaged bowsprit.
-13h15 : Jean-Édouard Criquioche (Class40) rig problems, starts at 1900hrs.
-15h00 : Ricardo Diniz (Classe Rhum) diesel problem and other issues. Arrived back in Saint-Malo at 1800hrs left Monday 1700hrs
-19h00 : Charlie Capelle (Classe Rhum) stops in Saint-Quay Portrieux to let worst of weather go, restarts Monday 0800hrs
-19h45 : Jean Galfione (Class40) strikes unlit buoy off Bréhat and damages hull. Arrives Saint-Quay Portrieux at 5h30 Monday, aims to leave 19h Monday
-20h15 : Giancarlo Pedote (Class40) sail problems heads for Roscoff. Arrives at 7h, leaves Monday 11h
-23h00 : Marc Lepesqueux (Class40) loses keel fills ballast heads to Guernsey under engine arrives 10h Monday Abandon.
-23h30 : François Angoulvant (Class40) loses keel, helicoptered off at 00h40 Monday to Brest. Abandon.
-23h35 : Loïc Féquet (Multi50) float damaged, towed by SNSM to l’Aber Wrac’h at 8h Monday. Abandon.
-23h45 : Thomas Coville (Ultime) hits a cargo ship. Damages main bow and starboard float. Arrives Roscoff at 11hrs Monday. Abandon.

Monday 3 November
-0h30 : Bertrand Delesne (Class40) has problems with sails halyards and headsails. Heads to Perros-Guirec then Roscoff. Arrives 9h, depart 13h.
-1h15 : Bob Escoffier (Classe Rhum) sail and rig problems. Heads to Roscoff, arrives 08h Monday. Aims to leave Tues 06h.
-1h45 : Thierry Bouchard (Class40) wrist injury, heads to Saint Malo. Arrives 16h Monday. Abandon.
-4h20 : Brieuc Maisonneuve (Class40) pilot problems, heads to Roscoff arrives 10:45 Monday.
-5h35 : Gilles Buekenhout (Multi50) breaks rudder, towed by SNSM to Roscoff arrives 16h Monday
-6h30 : Nicolas Troussel (Class40) twists ankle, routes to Brest arrives 15h Monday. Abandon.
-7h00 : Hervé de Carlan (Multi50) breaks daggerboard, heads to Saint-Brieuc.
-7h15 : Erik Nigon (Multi50) shreds mainsail, heads to La Rochelle, Abandon.
-8h10 : Pierre-Yves Lautrou (Class40) loses two wind vanes. Heading to Camaret. Arrives 17h Monday.
-8h45 : Alan Roura (Class40) water ingress, other varied problems. Heads to Roscoff, ETA 19h
-9h45 : Tanguy de Lamotte (IMOCA) rudder damage, route towards Brest since 1400hrs.
-10h00 : Vincent Lantin (Class40) various problems, heading to Camaret.
-10h10 : Patrick Morvan (Classe Rhum) various problems heading to Camaret. due 18h30 Monday
-10h15 : Alain Delhumeau (Multi50) dismasted, heading to Brest Abandon.
-10h45 : Julien Mabit (Classe Rhum) pilot and electronics problems heading to l’Aber Wrac’h. Arrives 14h00.
-12h00 : Bertrand de Broc (IMOCA) pilot problem and injured elbow. Heading to Lorient. Abandon.
-14h00 : Arnaud Boissières (Class40) crack on deck and other pbs heading to Les Sables d’Olonne. Abandon.
-15h00 : Philippe Fiston (Class40) technical problems. Arrived Camaret at 17h Monday
-14h00 : Benjamin Hardouin (Classe Rhum) arrived Roscoff to repair leak, plans to restart Tuesday 06h
-16h00 : Conrad Humphreys (Class40) arrives Camaret 16hrs sail problems, batten car damaged
-16h30 : Nils Boyer (Classe Rhum) arrives at Roscoff to replace life-raft
-17h15 : Vincent Riou (IMOCA) damaged mainsail track mounting, heading downwind slowly to repair.

Tuesday 4 November

-Afternoon: Pierre Antonie (Multi 50) lightning strike; holed.  Airlifted to safety.

 

November 4th, 2014

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