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This is what a typhoon will do. From Deep Water Bay. Fucking ugly…

 

July 16th, 2018

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Navigator supremo Artie Means sends these reports from soon-to-be-fleet leader Prospector, the beautiful Mills 68, en route to Hawaii...

Quite the differing of opinion between us and Pyewackett…..pretty happy where we are on the southern route; but will take a few days to see who’s right. We had a killer start, led out the gate and been upwind ever since, it is so time for a change! Hopefully pushing some furling sails up later today, before kites tomorrow.

Probably most interesting is to see if the ‘frenchies’ (the foiling Beneteau Figaro 3) can get out of the north. They are leading now, but potentially very tricky to get to Hawaii from there!

Below is an article written by Matt Landry for their home Shelter Island YC. – Artie Means.

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We were promised board shorts and T shirts.  So far it has been brisk, tight angle jib reaching since more or less the west side of the Golden Gate.  Over the past 24 hours, the air temperature as crept slowly upward as the sun poked through a rather consistent cloud layer, offering tantalizing previews of the conditions which garnered the tag line “The Fun Race to Hawaii.”

Prospector could not have asked for a better start with 20-22 knots of breeze at the mouth of San Francisco Bay.  Sporty conditions all around as we jockeyed for starting position with Pyewacket within spitting distance of St. Francis Yacht Club.  With boat speeds near 12 knots, and a fairly short line, the real challenge at the start was to find a place to slow down, hold a spot and prepare for a speed run seconds before the gun.  Luckily, we were able to defend a window on the boat end of the line, allowing a clear lane out of the harbor.

Once through the Golden Gate and its wind tunnel effect, the breeze sat down dramatically.  By about 5 miles offshore, we changed from our J2 into the J1 for better light air performance.  It’s now early Sunday, and we’ve been in that setup since Friday afternoon…

Currently, the goal is to get around the southern edge of a windless zone that has swallowed up the Wednesday and Thursday starters.  We’ve been on starboard tack the entire time; a drag race to get to the southerly trades. In this environment, nothing stays still. Sails are stacked and re-stacked.  Jib sheets, mainsheets and runners are in constant motion, squealing protests against their winches as the on-deck crew squeezes every knot of boatspeed. For the off-watch crew, life below is like trying to sleep inside a guitar.  Every burp of the jib or drop on the runners sends shockwaves echoing through the hull, magnified to the point that might just shake some fillings loose.

For now though, we press on in cracked sheet upwind mode.  Routing suggests we should be into the traditional Fun Race to Hawaii weather in another 24 hours or so.  We’re already starting to see some of the lift we need to move into our off the wind inventory, and hopefully beginning putting up big numbers to Hawaii. – Matt Landry.

 

July 16th, 2018

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The Isle of Wight is an historic and almost mythical place for sailors.  From Cowes week which started in 1826 to what is now known as the America’s Cup and its origin in 1851, the sailing tradition there is long and storied.  We were already planning a trip to Europe this summer, but when asked if I was interested in helping a friend by driving his RIB as a chase boat in this year’s Round The Island (RTI) race, my wife Marjorie and I jumped at the chance.

The RTI has been a British sporting tradition since 1931.  It started with a mere 25 yachts and has grown to a massive event peaking in 2016 with more than 1,800 entries.  RTI is one of the largest yacht races in the world and the fourth largest sporting event, by participation, in the United Kingdom.  The 50 nautical mile course is straight forward; start at Cowes, head west around the Needles, turn the corner, keep the island to port and finish back in Cowes.  Although seemingly simple, the course has a variety of tactical questions, including strong tides, shallow areas and other obstacles to avoid. Rules governing both the course and boats allowed to compete have varied over the years with one of the most significant changes coming in 1961 when multihulls were first allowed to enter.

Our team is lead by accomplished British catamaran sailor, William Sunnucks who, with his crew Mark Self (easily one of the nicest guys in the sport!), will be sailing his modified Marstrom 20, the Vampire Project.  This will be William’s sixth trip around the Isle of Wight and, like all his others, will be unofficial since race organizers do not allow small catamarans of this size to enter. We’re told that this limitation is in the name of safety, however, with our collective depth of experience in long distance catamaran races (Worrell 1000, Tybee 500, F-18 raids, etc.), we aren’t too concerned.  Team confidence is also buoyed by William’s incorporation of a dedicated chase boat which I will be operating as well as the fact that my wife, an active duty US Army officer and critical care nurse will be joining us on the trip.

From the outside, my task for the day sounds simple: “keep up with a 20 sailboat by driving a 6.1 m RIB with 140 hp outboard engine”; that is, until its factored in what I’ll be chasing.  The Vampire started life as a Marstom 20, a high powered all carbon/nomex catamaran designed to be the fastest boat of its size and eclipse the mighty Tornado. William employed the help of designer Kevin Elway and boat builder Graham Eeles to integrate canting T-foils with a Moth style control system, but with the beam– and therefore righting — of a catamaran.  The Vampire first foiled in July of 2014 and has been undergoing continuous development and refinement since then; you might even notice the similarity between it and the current generation of America’s Cup yachts.

On Friday before the race, we load up and set off from Essex to make the three-hour trip to Gosport.  Upon arriving at Hamble Point Marina, we get the Vampire setup and head out for a test sail just as the afternoon West Solent breeze fills in.  William and Mark are ahead of us with Marjorie and I following along closely on the RIB. Once clearing the shallow water of the harbor area, the rudders are lowered and locked in place, the leeward foil is dropped and it’s party time.  Although I’ve known William for a couple of years, followed the Vampire Project closely, and even witnessed its speed in-person on Lake Garda, watching it in action never gets old. My wife has crewed for me on my Tornado and been our team manager for multiple Florida and Great Texas 300’s and her reaction to seeing the boat in action summed it up perfectly, “WOW… that… thing… is… FAST!”

Much to my delight, after 15-20 minutes of driving the chase boat, William slowed down and motioned to me that it was my turn.  I quickly donned my trapeze harness and life vest, eased over to the windward side of the Vampire and traded places with Mark. After a quick tutorial of the control lines and directions that I would be receiving, William gave the tiller a pull and off we went!  “As soon as the leeward hull starts to fly, sheet in and we’ll start to foil” were my instructions, and as I pulled, the boat quickly accelerated and immediately gained altitude. After mere seconds we were seeing upwind speeds in the mid-high teens and I was do my best to adapt and respond to William’s commands requesting more and less righting moment.  We made a slow tack, swapped foils and were off again; after a couple more minutes of upwind work, I was told that we would be shifting to downwind mode where we would see some real speed.

Upon completing a couple of quick foil angle adjustments “on the fly”, we headed down and almost instantly doubled our current velocity.  To say that the speed was breathtaking would be a massive understatement and although I could have stayed out there for hours, daylight was fading and we had to be up early for the real race the following day.  Although it was a short “test” sail, we easily eclipsed my previous personal speed record from the 2002 Worrell 1000 by a couple of knots and reset the bar at 29.8 kts… oh so close to 30! I’ve sailed a couple of other foiling catamaran platforms, but nothing comes close to the raw power and speed of the Vampire.

This year’s RTI race was the Vampire’s first trip around Wight and although it regularly sees the speeds we enjoyed the day before, the forecast doesn’t look promising, so we prepared for a long day on the water.  Upon leaving Hasler shortly after 0600, we fixed a tow line and headed toward the race course. Since we weren’t an official entry, William had made the decision to respect the starting line and at 0640 started just to windward on the north end of the line.  It was a beautiful morning for sitting outside with a cup of coffee; not so much for a sailboat race. The breeze was a light 3-4 knots out of the West with a swift outgoing tide. Regardless of the lack of wind, the sight of just over 1,200 boats getting ready to start at their assigned times in the Solent was breathtaking.

To be continued…

 

July 16th, 2018

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Hard to argue that Ganbare isn’t the most important design in the modern era. How impressive to see that it is not only well-loved, but that it still wins! From the Doug Peterson FB page.

If Ganbare isn’t the greatest, what is? Jump in the thread

 

July 16th, 2018

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Our friend Wayne Zittel and his SC 50 Hula Girl are on their way to Hawaii in the Pac Cup. Track the fleet here.

We are into day 4 of the 2018 Pacific Cup aboard J/World’s Hula Girl, and it’s pretty different out here than it was on our last report. Yes, we made it through the low pressure that blocked our path and slowed our progress towards the tropics. We punched out the other side, and finally, finally started moving. We were sailing pretty tight with the big #1 jib for the morning, then the breeze began veering and we got into the jib top for a bit, then (woo-hoo), a spinnaker. And life was good and we were scooting towards Hawaii at a steady 12 knots.

Did you catch the past tense? Alas, in the late afternoon our A3 spinnaker decide it had had enough, and poof. The head blew off the sail and she ripped along both tapes, so we dragged the pieces aboard. A quick change to the Code 0 with Genoa Staysail has kept us moving nicely, but the A3 was going to be an important sail for the next couple of days. We also lost our wind instruments… well, they are still up at the top of the mast, just not working and sending the info to our computer! We have a replacement and will get up there in a day or two, but for now it’s kind of liberating to be sailing in dinghy mode! And we are hardly roughing it given all the other electronics we have aboard. We are a ways off from navigating to Hawaii as they did the early days of racing to Hawaii: head south until the butter melts, then sail West until you hear ukulele music coming over the AM radio, then you know you are close…

As of this morning, we have climbed into second place. Zamazaan did a great job negotiating the light conditions and came out of it about 15 miles ahead of us. We spent the day slowly pulling on them, but we owe them a good amount of time so it’s going to be tough to come back from our deficit. Meanwhile, the other J/World boat Cazan apparently thinks they are a big boat…. they dove south with all the super sleds. That, or maybe Paul was feeling a bit too far from Mexico! Bold move, seeing how they were winning when they split from the pack. Will it pay? You’ll have to stay tuned…

Life onboard is good. I was worried that some of the crew might be losing it earlier when were were just drifting in circles. Russ (who builds satellites or something like that) was asking for aluminum foil this morning… I was worried he was going to make a hat to keep ‘them’ from reading his mind, but alas he was just applying a fix to a stripped bolt. It’s middle of the night out here right now (quiet time for me to get these reports together) and we are still moving nicely (but the wave pattern is a bit lumpy and we are lurching all around the place as we skip from wave to wave). It’s still a bit cool out, but definitely warming.

Ok, that’s it for this report. More soon.

Wayne Zittel and Team Hula Girl

 

July 16th, 2018

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Big Pimpin’

(Multiple) America’s Cup-winning sparmaker and composites pioneer Eric Hall has been at it again… with his perennial mantra: simplicity

For most product designers simplicity is the ultimate goal. The obvious benefits include lighter weight, lower prices and simpler servicing. Alphalock Systems had just those goals in mind in the design of their new automatic halyard locks. ‘The best-engineered products are always the simplest products,’ says Alphalock president and designer Eric Hall.

Hall explains that, to date, locks requiring no tripline have necessarily had systems of multiple torsionally acting springs, latches and ball detents. ‘Although they work fine as intended,’ he explains, ‘their springs eventually wear, the ball detents, which must be tuned for proper locking flipper operation, tend to rust if left idle for a time and their relatively complex disassembly and assembly, especially when reinserting the custom springs, have made servicing them a bit of a chore.’

‘Alphalocks, on the other hand,’ says Hall, ‘have basically only two moving parts, the counter-rotating locking flippers. When servicing them all you need to do is unbolt the clamshell housings and take out the flippers. To reassemble insert the two self-aligning flippers and refasten the clamshells.’

Read on.

 

July 16th, 2018

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That is one hell of an impressive front row start for at least 12 of these tri’s on the Tour Voile.

 

July 14th, 2018

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Brian Hancock makes sense. Stop the press!

The 2017/18 Volvo Ocean Race has slipped into the history books and I have to admit, I kind of have withdrawal symptoms. Clicking on the race tracker was starting to become a bit of an obsession – say nothing of a giant time-suck – so maybe it’s a good thing that “normal” life has resumed. I took some time away from the Internet (to get married and also to buy my house with my new wife from myself and my ex-wife, an interesting challenge I can assure you). The time away was perfect because it gave me some time to reflect on the race and to come to terms with how the Volvo Ocean Race has changed and is evolving. Here are some of my observations.

The racing was intensely close and exciting and for sailors that’s about as thrilling as it gets. To not know who would be the overall winner until the last few minutes  of a nine month long event was nothing short of mind blowing.

The idea to return the race to the Southern Ocean, including the leg around Cape Horn, was just what the event needed. The race found it’s roots by racing in the Deep South and the video footage and imagery that came out of those legs was beyond spectacular.

While on-board reporters were not a new idea for this go-around, the OBR’s in the race ratcheted things up to a whole new level. Not only were they superb photographers and videographers, they were unbelievably great drone pilots. One thing that has been lacking from previous races was the ability for the sailing public to get a birds-eye view of the boats pummeling through some incredibly rough weather. I now have a new respect for what the sailors had to deal with on a day-to-day, or more to the point, hour-to-hour basis.

There is such a thing as poetic justice. One of the first pieces I wrote about this Volvo Ocean Race was well in advance of the start. It was after the VOR management released a new crewmember system that gave an number advantage to teams that took on female sailors. Scallywag skipper David Witt promptly declared that he had no interest “in participating in some kind of social experiment.”  He was going with all-male crew. Well Mr. Witt I think that it’s fitting that the only female skipper in the race, Dee Caffari of Turn the Tide on Plastic, handed you the last place finish by putting enough boats between themselves and Scallywag at the final in-port race in The Hague to put Turn the Tide on Plastic into 6th overall.

I also learned that I should not be so quick to judge.  I watched an interview with the aforementioned David Witt after the race was over and he came across as a pretty decent guy. He was humbled by the experience and very introspective about the loss of Scallywag crew member John Fisher in the Southern Ocean. I used to think he was a bit of a wanker; now I would like to buy him a beer.

During the race I said enough about how I didn’t like the VOR65 boats and I am glad that the race management has announced that they will be including IMOCA 60s in the next event, a move that I applaud as loud as I possibly can. I am not sure that anything I wrote led to this move but I hope it did. The future of the VOR is going to be great in foiling monohulls pushed beyond there safe limits by experienced crew.

I used to think that the VOR sailors were just a bunch over overpaid prima donnas but that has changed. I guess I was just a little bitter that we made so little money back in the old days that forged the event while the modern sailors are pulling down decent salaries. Now, having seen the drone footage and watched what they went through I think they have earned every right to be a little supercilious.

The idea of finishing each leg right off the breakwater in the finish port looks good on paper but it’s not such a great idea, to my mind anyway. Team Brunel might well have been the overall winner had they not been pipped by Mapfre at the post in drifting conditions in Newport. Brunel deserved to win that leg. There was only a handful of spectators up at that time of day so the idea that the finishes would draw huge crowds was good on paper. My suggestion is for them to still have the leg finishes right off the docks, but give the race committee the ability to shorten course if the outcome of the leg would radically changed due to the wind dropping or an absurd amount of fishing boats as was the case in the dark off Hong Kong.

And last, and this is good and a story that will be appreciated by every racing sailor. I got this from a blog written by sailing journalist Mark Chisnell and it’s right on. Mapfre should have won this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, but they blinked. As the approached the traffic exclusion zone on the approach to The Hague, Mapfre was a comfortable two plus miles ahead of Dongfeng Race Team and they could have stayed between them and the finish line all the way to the finish.

But at the separation zone third place Team Brunel decided to remain to the west of the separation zone while Dongfeng and Mapfre were set to go to the east. It’s that ‘oh shit’ moment we have all experienced racing sailboats but what made it worse was that there was a massive no-go zone that had to be honored. On a normal race course you can gybe to cover but in their case it was as if there was an island inbetween them. I know for sure that numbers were being crunched by the gigabyte, and then Mapfre blinked. They had been covering Dongfeng but gybed back to cover Team Brunel and the game was over.

Mapfre can’t really be blamed for their decision. Team Brunel had hunted them down and had won three out of the previous four legs. They probably thought that they would be able to put away Dongfeng. Monday morning quarterbacking is always easy but the data seems to show that it was in those moments of hesitation aboard Mapfre about who to cover lost them the top spot and if that’s not superb yacht racing I don’t know what is.

I am already looking forward to the next race. Foiling monohulls, enhanced drone footage, Southern Ocean sailing, what’s not to like?

 

July 13th, 2018

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Good breeze getting out of ‘Frisco is nice; sailing into the light air that awaits, not so nice… This is Start recap video of Thursday’s lone Pacific Cup start; the Pasha Hawaii D division. The first of two ORR divisions to begin racing in the Pac Cup this year, the final start is today. The big boys, including four 70′ sleds, a mini-maxi and the bitchin’ Riptide 41 ‘Blue’ begin today.

Wednesday and Thursday starters have set off into very light air offshore thus far, while the foiling Beneteau Figaro 3 ‘A Fond le Girafon’ still leads on line honors and the J/120 ‘Jamani’ is your new overall handicap leader.

 

July 13th, 2018

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This story makes us happy. That uncaring people have so polluted the ocean that incidents like this likely happen thousands of times makes us sad. Don’t tell Dolt 45 – he’ll side with the nets and ban turtles from entering the oceans….

On July 10, Vic-Maui International Yacht Race competitor OxoMoxo saw a sea turtle entangled in a ghost fishing net, took down the spinnaker, stopped the boat mid-ocean over 900 miles North-North-East of Hawaii, freed the turtle from the net, and removed the net from the water so it could not continue ‘fishing’.

Congratulations from Vic-Maui to skipper Doug Frazer and the crew of OxoMoxo, a Swan 39 sailboat from the Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle. Read the full story.

 

July 13th, 2018

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