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Gotta love the cartoon brilliance of Sarah Steenland.


November 29th, 2016

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I really thought I had seen it all until I read that FIFA, that sporting governing body which has hardly been short on ridiculous decisions and financial impropriety has charged Scotland & England for breaking their rules.

On 11th November each year the Great Britain & Commonwealth fallen of two world wars. The commemorative symbol is a Flanders Poppy, a red flower.

Scotland & England had an international football match on that day or very close to it (not into football enough to bother checking) and the players, fans and national associations felt it appropriate to wear poppies in memory of the collective sacrifice of millions of men and women.

It was against the rules – FIFA’s rules that is – and the Football Association and the Scottish Football Association rightly ignored FIFA’s ruling and wore the poppies.

Incredibly FIFA have now charged the associations with inappropriate behaviour.

Nothing more to say! Thank goodness our sport’s governing body is more in touch with reality. Isn’t it?

Title inspiration from both the Poppies, this song, and the fact that those pricks have to be really high to pull that horseshit.


November 29th, 2016

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Big Pimpin’

HH Catamarans continues to push boundaries in the already uber-cool world of performance cruising cats. 66-01 set the scene ablaze this fall when she made her debut at the Cannes Yachting Festival and went on to take 1st Place overall amongst a tough fleet at the Multihull Cup in Mallorca. 66-02 survived her first Typhoon unscathed and is now sailing the South China Sea.

Next to launch – the formidable HH66-03 ‘Nala’, a turbocharged, stripped down version with taller rig and longer longeron. This slick cat will begin sea trials mid December and make her first public appearance at the Strictly Sail Miami show in February.

Not far behind, HH66-05, pictured above, is slated to launch next summer. Kicking the wow factor up another notch, 66-05 will be the first in the line with inside central helm and forward cockpit AND tiller steering aft. A flush cabin top loaded with solar and carbon bucket seats make this cat the epitome of cool.

Keep up with the latest and all the excitement on the HH Facebook page. If you’re ready to get in on the action, contact company President Paul Hakes to discuss your customized HH66 and schedule an appointment in Miami.


November 29th, 2016

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cat_and_mouse_781165There is a cat and mouse game underway in the Southern Ocean along with a handful of intrigue. After a record setting run from France to the Cape of Good Hope Alex Thomson aboard Hugo Boss has finally relinquished his lead to Armel Le Cléac’h aboard Banque Populaire.

It’s a case of The Jackal and The Boss as the two skippers duke it out as if joined by a bungee cord. Le Cléac’h is nicknamed The Jackal because of his ability to seek out and hunt down prey and hunt he did making up a deficit of over 100 miles to overtaking Hugo Boss earlier this week, but his top spot was short-lived.

Thompson had gybed to the north in a lessening breeze and strictly on a ‘distance to finish’ basis he fell behind Banque Populaire, but once he gybed south again Hugo Boss reclaimed the lead but that too was short-lived. Le Cléac’h found a wind lane and practically in sight of Hugo Boss he snuck by to take over the lead once again. As of writing Banque Populaire holds a 20 mile lead over Hugo Boss as both boats gybe along the ice exclusion zone.

Race organizers have demarcated an exclusion zone that runs roughly along the 44th parallel for the first part of the Indian Ocean dropping down to 50 degrees south halfway between South Africa and Australia. There is a very real threat of ice and no one taking any chances. You don’t have to hit an iceberg to have a problem; hit a growler or bergy bit sailing at 25 knots and it straight down to Davey Jones’ Locker for the boat and skipper. The problem with the exclusion area is that most skippers want to sail as far south as possible to take advantage of the Great Circle route, but this means sailing right along the edge of the zone forcing multiple gybes.

The Great Circle route, by the way, is the shortest distance between two points on the globe. Because of the curvature of the earth the shortest distance between Cape Town and Cape Horn is right over Antarctica and not in a straight line between the two points. With satellite tracking you can bet that the Race Officials are keeping a close eye on things to make sure no skipper crosses the imaginary line.

Now to the intrigue. Alex Thompson reported a few days ago that he had snapped off his starboard foil and was sailing a crippled boat. Despite this he continued at a cracking (no pun intended) pace even on port tack when the stump of his foil would have been causing a good amount of drag.

Asked for some photos of the broken foil Thompson claimed that it was too wet and rough to take any, but the weather has since moderated. Indeed yesterday Alex did a nice selfie video shot in light winds and sunshine. He referenced the foil but did not snap a pic leading many to believe that he has been playing mind games with his competitors.  Did he really break the foil or has it all been a ruse? His shore team have indicated that he has a spare foil on board and that when the time is right he will ditch the broken foil and replace it with the spare. When Alex was asked directly if he had a spare on board he was more than a little coy about it. My guess is that it’s a mind game which makes this whole cat and mouse thing even more interesting.

While the leaders are approaching the Kerguelen Islands, a remote windswept archipelago at 49 degrees south, the bulk of the Vendée Globe fleet are dealing with the fickle winds of the St Helena High. By the way I happen to know it’s a remote windswept archipelago because I have sailed right by the islands and seen first hand what a rugged and beautiful place the Kerguelen’s are. But I digress. The South Atlantic or St Helena High is a tricky bit of weather to navigate.

There is a temptation to ‘cut the corner’ on it to sail fewer miles, but the high pressure expands and contracts at will and this time it expanded to suck in 10 boats among them Rich Wilson, the lone American in the race. At one point Wilson aboard Great American lamented a boat speed of 0.00 knots. I wonder what his ETA was showing at that speed?

Meanwhile Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront is welcoming two of the pre-race favorite skippers. First it was Vincent Riou on PRB who retired with damage and then Morgan Lagravière aboard Safran also retired after hitting something and damaging his rudder. As some consolation Lagravière was welcomed into Cape Town by a pod of 60 humpback whales. These two skippers along with Tanguy de Lamotte, who retired earlier in the race, brings the total remaining to 26 intrepid skippers.

If you enjoy Brian Hancock’s regular contributions to SA you might want to check out his blog on sails and sailmaking. His best selling book Maximum Sail Power is being updated and released in blog sized chunks – everything you need to know about that most important part of your boat – the sails. Click here for the skinny.


November 29th, 2016

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Everybody knows Finn sailors are crazy. Here’s your proof!


November 28th, 2016

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m24-worlds-bannerThe boats are splashed and the bomb is about to drop in Miami as a massive gathering of Melges 24s are on hand in South Florida for the 19th running of the World Championship. Five days of racing are planned starting Tuesday, November 29 and ending on Saturday, December 3. Already teams have enjoyed a couple of nice preparatory days of sailing, practicing and fine tuning their racing machines.

Truth of the matter is there is something of interest here for everyone. From a fully-fledged squadron of youth-based teams and aspiring junior sailors, to a multitude of women drivers and crew; from what is predicted to be a knock-down drag out amongst the fleets best all-amateur teams, to watching some of the biggest and brightest rock stars of the sailing industry duke it out for what is one of the most coveted titles in the world, one thing is for sure, there is not a moment to be missed.

There are many ways to keep up with all that is happening in Miami:

Follow the racing every day by checking out live tracking of the Melges 24 Worlds here.

Make sure you have LIKED the Official Facebook for the event: 2016 Melges 24 World Championship. Also, LIKE the International Melges 24 Class, and the U.S. Melges 24 Class. These channels are loaded full of photos, daily interviews, video highlights and race updates from the course as the days unfold.

Those are the big ones. But, there are more ways to keep your finger on the pulse of the Melges 24 Worlds. You can also find the event and updates via Twitter, Flickr, Instagram and YouTube as well as the Classes websites: melges24.com and usmelges24.com.

#2016Melges24WorldChampionship #Melges24 #USMelges24


November 28th, 2016

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Legendary boatbuilder, Harry Bryan, passes along timeless wisdom about being successful in this new short film by OffCenterHarbor.com.  You can click here to watch it in full, and we’ve asked OCH to let you opt-in to see two more of their best films about this profoundly wise man. Check it out here.


November 28th, 2016

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Big Pimpin’

zhik-adZhik R&D manager Tom Hussey says there’s no tougher a sport for testing the waterproofness and durability of modern technical clothing than offshore racing

In the past decade Zhik has listened carefully to the wants and needs of the world’s best smallboat sailors, with Zhik the gear of choice for many of the sailors at Rio 2016 including all the team members of three of the most successful nations: Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia. The gold and silver medallists in the dynamic 49er class – Pete Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) and Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) respectively – are among the better-known names who have been wearing Zhik for many years now.

Test fabrics are made into pockets that contain a control ‘test ball’. These fabric pockets are then placed in a rotating drum that simulates impacts against hard edges and also flat surfaces covered with non-slip grip. Test balls are shaped to simulate the parts of the body and other hard objects that impact a boat through the fabric

R&D manager Tom Hussey says, ‘When we started making neoprene garments back in the early days of the company, it was amazing what sailors were prepared to put up with. Or rather, they didn’t have much choice because most of the wetsuits available had been developed for surfers or athletes from other sports. For sailing they were pretty clunky, heavy and inflexible. Since then we’ve listened carefully to the world’s best and most demanding sailors to give them what they need, to create garments that are warmer, drier, lighter and more durable than what had previously been available.’

Recently Hussey and the team at Zhik have started to ask the same searching questions about offshore gear. ‘The goal was to produce the toughest, most durable kit that we could; it needed to outperform existing kit from rival brands. Read on.


November 28th, 2016

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screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-12-30-29-pmAs many US Sailing Team fans will already have noted, Managing Director Josh Adams has left for greener pastures, (though he is assisting with the transition to new leadership) while today,  two-time Aussie gold medal crew Malcolm Page was named new US Sailing Team Director.

A college dinghy and team racer who came to the team after years as a magazine publisher, Adams was charged with what may have been an impossible task for someone with his experience level; to bring the US Team back from its dismal, zero-medal performance in London and make a real impression in Rio.  Despite what seemed like a good plan for Brazil, the team’s 2016 performance was only tolerable in comparison to the 2012 debacle, and something had to change for the next quad.

Fortunately, US Sailing finally did what we’ve been begging them for a decade -  quit hiring your management consultant and magazine publishing pals from New England for this essential job, and find someone with a proven history of winning – even if you have to headhunt them from somewhere else.

Enter Mal Page, who aside from being the most decorated dinghy sailor in Aussie history, may be the only sailor to ever win a gold medal with two different skippers.  Page walks away from one of the toughest jobs in sailing – Marketing Director for ISAF – to take on another extremely tough job, but one he’s uniquely prepared for.  We say this not because Page has led a big team to success; we say it because he was part of one of the winningest Olympic sailing teams in modern history, and a very clever lad.

Perhaps more importantly, he comes from a decade worth of training under the world’s best olympic sailing coach – Victor “The Medal Maker” Kovalenko (pictured with Page, above).  While it’s too much to hope that Victor will defect to the USA as part of the deal (Kovalenko has famously turned down some huge international paydays to stick with his adopted homeland downunder), Page should have all the tools he needs to recreate the winning culture enjoyed by the US Sailing Team up until the past decade.

You guys always come up with the best questions, and I’ll be speaking to Mal tomorrow morning for this week’s SA Podcast.  What do you want to know about the 2016 performance, the plans for Tokyo 2020 and the team, about Malcolm in general, or whatever?

Post your questions here.

This post has been edited to reflect the fact that Josh Adams was not fired, but resigned instead.  We note, however, that numerous sources inside both the governing body and the team were extremely dissatisfied with the team’s performance and in our opinion, Adams was not long for the job.


November 28th, 2016

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Tanguy LaMotte’s charity-funded Initiatives Coeur may have officially abandoned the Vendee Globe after a masthead malfunction, but he can rest a bit easier knowing his boat has already made it around the world in record time.  Or at least, a cardboard version has! This pic from astronaut Thomas Pesquet from aboard the International Space Station.  For real.

And to see the French skipper ‘keeping it 100′ as his charity sponsor rescues poor kids from heart disease, check out  the track Tanguy’s traced in the ocean on the way back to France.  Have a heart, indeed.

November 28th, 2016


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