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The world’s premier offshore race and the most spectated sailing event of all, The Volvo Ocean Race starts in a bit more than a year.  But already, the discussion is getting real about where the Volvo goes after the next edition – the second sailed on the Farr-designed Volvo One-Design 65.  We grabbed Mike Sanderson, winner of the 2005 VOR – the first edition with the then-terrifying VO70, and Nick Bice, the creator of the VOR Boatyard and current VOR boss of boats and maintenance and a bunch more, to get their opinion on the state of the race and the options for the future; is the multihulling of the Volvo inevitable, or is there another way?

And these characters don’t disappoint – as you’d expect from a couple of guys who’ve gone around the world, they’ve got strong opinions and clever thinking and both would love to see great success in future races.  We also catch up with Mike about his friendly takeover and new CEO position of Doyle New Zealand, hear about the record mini-maxi fleet in Sardinia, and hear Moose’s real opinion of North Sails.  Listen above, download here for later listening, or subscribe to the SA Podcast on iTunes.

September 16th, 2016

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On Tuesday night a huge storm hit the beautiful port of Punta del Este, in Uruguay. The direction of wind, South, created a very high storm surge, breaking some moorings, with these sad results… – Anarchist McGyver.

 

September 16th, 2016

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death-threatIt has been a while since I wrote that piece about lifejackets and whether or not they should be worn at all times. It certainly caused a stir and I even got my very first death threat. I am not sure if the person would have actually gone through with it but he seemed pretty riled up. He was for wearing lifejackets at all times in case you were wondering.

So, since it has been a while I thought that I would stir things up once more.

This time it’s about the use of life harnesses. Yup as you might imagine I am not really big on them. I think that they give sailors a false sense of security. I have always been a “one hand for the task, one hand for the boat” kind of guy. Knowing that you are not clipped on heightens your awareness. Makes you super sensitive to your surroundings. Yes I know that a rogue wave could ruin my day but then apparently, so can wearing a harness.

Practical Boat Owner, a UK based publication, carried out a series of tests using a dummy that was weighted to resemble a grown person. Their report has been circulating for a while and reinforces what I have felt for a long time. You are no better off dangling alongside the boat still attached than you are if you fall off and the boat sails away from you. You can read the full report here but let’s take a closer look at things.

First of all when the wind is light there is little chance of someone falling overboard. I know it can happen but not likely. The report towed the dummy alongside sailing at low speeds to see what would happen. At two knots the dummy was being towed on its back with the head above water, but as soon as the speed increased the head started to dip below the water, and at four knots the body started to spin. This was on the leeward side of the boat and things got a lot worse when the boat heeled over onto the dummy.

Before you think that it would be a simple matter for the person in the water to  just haul themselves back on board, think again. I have tried it and it’s a struggle even at low speeds. Bear in mind that accidents like falling overboard will usually happen in rough seas and at higher speeds with the victim fully clothed and probably wearing a life jacket. All of this makes it very difficult to retrieve someone.  The Practical Boat Owner report was prompted by the drowning of a sailor off the UK coast. That person did everything by the book.

He was weathering a lifejacket and was clipped on, but even after slowing the boat down to 1.5 knots the crew were still unable to get him back on board. They finally attached a spinnaker halyard to him and winched him back onboard. The whole exercise took 16 minutes from the time he had gone into the water.

The test also included trying different length tethers. A person that fell overboard on the windward wide with a long tether ended up being sucked into the trough caused by the quarterwave and was repeatedly smashed into the hull. A long tether on leeward side even worse. I suppose it depends where about on the boat you are when you fall overboard, but for the dummy they used and with a long tether the victim got sucked into the quarterwave and was fully submerged. In fact the only good scenario was a short tether on the windward side. The short tether kept the victim from touching the water.

So I am not sure what to make of all of this. I am certainly not going to advocate that people not wear a harness, but I think we all need to think things through a little more than we do and not simply follow the herd.  Seems to me that without a tether there is very little chance of survival.

This report makes it clear that with a harness your chances of survival are not much better, but is “not much better,” better than drowning? Probably. So let me go back to the story I told about my brother in the piece about lifejackets. He lives in the bush in Botswana. Has done for 40 years. Never ever carried a gun and even though it’s wildest Africa, he has never had an incident. You see his logic is this. You carry a gun you get careless. You know that you have a gun there to bail you out if you get in trouble.

Without a gun your senses are heightened. You are very aware of your surroundings and you never take chances. You rely on your senses which over time become honed and heightened. Same thing on a boat. No lifejacket and no harness and believe me your senses are heightened. So I am sticking with that logic, and with fingers crossed, hoping for the best. I am certainly not suggesting it’s the right path for everyone and I certainly don’t want another death threat.

-Brian Hancock

 

September 16th, 2016

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Yeah, it’s my boat. Yeah, x amount of you are going to bitch about it. Whatevs! – ed. Huge props to Justin Edelman for the great work. The kid’s got skillz…

Thanks to Drake for the title inspiration

 

September 15th, 2016

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Local Knowledge

As if running what has recently been called in the media “the most genuine regatta in China” and maintaining that standard wasn’t enough along comes mother nature to add a little ‘spice’ just in case you had started to get a little blasé about things.

The China Club Challenge Match, sailed off Xiamen is this year in its 12th year and is due to be sailed this year in J-80s. The first problem was that, with racing starting on Friday mother nature in the shape of Typhoon Meranti decided to come calling.

Her advance warning was billed by the Taiwan Weather Bureau as the worst storm anywhere on earth this year has shore crews scurrying doubling up lines and the rest of us bracing for the worse. In the past the ‘worst’ was been a strong wind as one typhoon after another swung north or south and missed Xiamen altogether. If you don’t know where Xiamen is by the way, it is what Amoy Soy Sauce is named after.

This time the lady wasn’t for turning and she came on – head on in fact – and as I lay in bed at 0330 this morning it sounded like express train after express train was roaring past the hotel window. I wasn’t exactly scared but was decidedly uncomfortable as the windows rattled and bowed.

Winds in excess of 130kts had been reported and damage was widespread. Basically – Xiamen Island was trashed.

midnight-2We had two IUs from New Zealand stranded in Hong Kong and a local PRO who couldn’t even get out of his compound for fallen trees and the streets looking like someone had run down them with a giant chain saw.

Now I knew what it was like to live through one of the most powerful forces in nature. Not a good experience, I can tell you.  On the marina at least 4 boats sank, others lost their rigs and genoas unwisely left on the roller forestays shredded like a Kleenex.

Replacement boats were effectively sourced, the officials eventually managed to arrive via later flights or once people had chain-sawed their way out of their compound and the net effect was little more than a few hours delay to race day 1.

This weekend, which was oversubscribed more than 3 months earlier. sees the fleet racing element which pits 30 hopefuls against each other for the right be one of the 16 teams to advance to the elimination match racing element in a few weeks’ time.

With the post typhoon winds forecast to be the typically light and the full moon just behind us, challenging conditions will surely prevail over the next few days. Tune in a few days hence for the race report.

See ya on the water

Shanghai Sailor

 

September 15th, 2016

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Team Anarchy in action tonight at the End of Summer Series, thanks to photographer Justin Edelman. Pictured left – Paige Johnston, Right front to back: Rodrigo Doll, Ed Lorence, Keith Lorence and El Chapo Jr.

 

September 14th, 2016

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morning-commute

This is my morning commute in Northern California! – Anarchist Lyn.

 

September 14th, 2016

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Big Pimpin’

spartanThe Vendee Globe represents the pinnacle of offshore yachting- one sailor, totally alone, circumnavigating the world is a competitive concept anyone can grasp very quickly and equally quickly understand this is no ordinary pursuit.

The individuals who line up for such a challenge are uniquely tenacious and by start day have already been successful in a task some would say rivals what they seek on the high seas- the monumental operation of drawing together all of the funds and technical knowledge required to put one of the fastest monohull boats in the world onto the water and then have it ready to sail 27,000Nm without outside assistance. Simple Right? No. Unbelievably difficult. That’s not even the worst of it- normal attrition rates for the Vendee Globe are between 33 and 66% meaning that even if you get to the start line, getting to the finish line is not a forgone conclusion. Safe enough to say that there are only going to be a few individuals who ever enter the Vendee Globe and take the start line and fewer still who will make the finish.

If then we then as mere mortals want to experience some element of this incredible spectacle how do we get involved? Well we can join one of the estimated 400 million people worldwide who will follow the event online or work towards being one of the 1 million people who visit the race village before start day. If we take it a step further maybe you have a local friend with a boat or a corporate hospitality fund that needs using up so you get yourself actually out onto the water to witness the start first hand. However, once the fleet is gone maybe 10 or 15 minutes- the thrill is over and its just another day on the water.

So, its a closed shop- no doubts but what if there was another option? What if you could go that little bit further- really get under the skin of the event and be out there with them, watch the rounding of Finisterre from a position only a few hours behind as you calculate your own approach? Make your own assessment of the winds off the Canaries and plot your own course into the ‘Canary Cage’- wouldn’t that be awesome? Well, we thought so too and now for the first time it’s possible.

We love sailing- no surprise there- so we decided what the hell; as we own three 60ft Round the World Race boats ourselves why don’t we take our interest in the Vendee Globe to the next level and put on an event of our own that not only creates a spectator opportunity for the start but then sail South in the fleet’s wake across Biscay and all the way down to the Canary Islands? Would anyone want to join us? From the response so far- the answer is an emphatic ‘YES’.

True our boats are not as quick as the Vendee boats but with top speeds of 20-25 knots possible we can stay within an useful distance of most of the pack for the first few days and with satellite communications onboard we can keep abreast of all the early news coming back from the fleet and in our own way try to do our best to beat the stragglers.

Just think about it for a second, the pre-race build up, meet some of the skippers, see the boats, watch the start and then go through the line after them and then keep going and ‘race’ them all them for a week down to the Canaries.

Come on, that’s cool you know it is.

We think its going to be a thrilling opportunity and a unique view into the world of a select group of next level athletes – for companies or individuals this is a great opportunity to really be part of a world class event. The boat we will be using for this event is our Volvo 60 ‘Challenger’ and I will be skippering her. Having raced solo around the world myself in an Open 60 I hope to be able to provide you with a unique insight to what is going on both before and during the race start and then a comprehensive commentary out on the water of the early days of the race.

For more information check out our website and take your interest in the Vendee Globe to a whole new level- we’re going anyway so you can either be there with us onboard living it day and night for a week or still here checking tweets and facebook….

See you on the water.

Chris Stanmore-Major
Spartan Ocean Racing

 

September 14th, 2016

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Phil Sharp is crushing it  in the record 30 Class 40 boats on the start line of the Normandy Channel Race, a double-handed 1000nm zigzag endurance adventure starting and ending in Caen.

“Currently we’re screaming down a wave at 20knots, and averaging between 18-19knots, it’s insane, the boat is like a wild animal! It’s seriously windy, rough, and the sky is grey and dull. We didn’t expect this amount of wind as the forecast completely underestimated the force, but it’s definitely an exciting surprise!

“Last night was mad coming around Fastnet in the dark, and the conditions are still massively intense. Since then we’ve had to change sails twice to downsize to better cope with the ever strengthening wind, which uses a huge amount of energy, especially because the sea is so rough as it forces you to work twice as hard.

“At the moment we are reaching at a really fast angle and the boat is just accelerating down waves with serious speed. The motion is awful, it’s really violent, we are being thrown around so much that sleeping is near impossible. We literally haven’t stopped, and the amount of winching is phenomenal, it’s physically exhausting. Under the circumstances we are doing our best to manage our energy, thinking ahead for strategic decisions, which makes things interesting when the weather forecast changes!

“Going forward the forecast has changed for the worse, giving us more upwind through the Scilly Islands and Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) course. Getting through this cleanly will rely on sound tactics as we will probably have to make multiple tacks, and each tack could be the difference between losing or gaining miles”.

 

September 14th, 2016

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From the Facebook. Jesus.

 

September 13th, 2016

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