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When we saw this pic by Andrea Francolini from the Geelong edition of the SuperFoiler Grand Prix and we just thought of someone flipping the bird. You know, just like this class does to the sailing scene!


February 10th, 2018

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I am really looking forward to the Golden Globe around-the-world yacht race that starts on July 1 this year. It’s a brilliant idea, I only wish that I had thought of it, and judging by the number of entries it seems as if many others also saw it as a great idea. Thirty eight people signed up to do the race, but from the race website it looks like that number has been whittled down to 22, still a healthy fleet.

The Golden Globe race celebrates the 50th anniversary of the very first single-handed, non-stop around-the-world yacht race which was named the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race after the British newspaper that (presumably) put up some money to name the event. Nine sailors started that race, but only one finished. Robin Knox-Johnson lapped the planet in his 32-foot double-ender Suhaili in a stately 312 days.

The premise of the upcoming race is to sail around the world just as if you were doing it 50 years ago. In other words navigating by sextant, eating canned food, no auto pilot, no electronics and most definitely no iPad loaded with movies (porn) and books. Books are allowed, the old print and paper kind only.

So here is my question. Do you think that the voyage was more of a challenge 50 years ago than it’s going to be for the sailors competing in the upcoming race? While the boats for the new race are certainly better engineered and probably better designed and built, there is still a size limit of 36 feet and the boat has to be full keel with rudder attached to the aft end of the keel. There are also certain things that can’t be replicated like the out-of-date foul weather gear they wore back then as well as clothing.

No one is making the sailors wear scratchy wool sweaters and leaky boots and so one would think that the race 50 years ago was much harder. Well here is what I think. I think that the upcoming race is going to be much harder than the one five decades ago and there is a simple reason for my thinking. These modern day sailors know better and that’s going to make it a more difficult challenge.

Let me explain. I once saw a Facebook post where someone posed the question; “would you live in a house in the woods for a week without any electronic devices in return for $2,000?”  99% of those who answered said that they would not, that they could not. Unplugging for a measly seven days was unthinkable. (By the way I was one of the one percent who would most definitely take the money.) Fifty years ago you had no idea that in the future you would be able to plot your position on a chart with pin-point accuracy without having to do a thing. Just switch the GPS on. This is information that these sailors will know while they hang on trying to bring the sun down to the horizon with their sextant.

They will have this information in the back of their minds as they drag out the sight reduction tables to get one of three LOP’s (Lines Of Position) on the chart that intersect to form a cocked hat in the middle of which is your position. They will also have this information as they go days without seeing the sun and have to dead reckon their speed and course, taking into account currents and other vagaries, to come up with a rough idea of where they are.

Think about weather. There will be no information other than to look out the hatch to see what’s out there. Their barometer will be the most useful instrument on board as a rising glass predicts lighter winds and a dropping glass could spell trouble. While the sailors are staring at their barometers they will know that with just a click of a button they could get the very best weather information along with routing information, but that’s not allowed.

You see I know better. I am fairly sure that I could unplug for a week especially if there was a $2,000 cash incentive but could I go for almost a full year without streaming a movie or downloading a book?  I am not sure, in fact I don’t think so. We are all so used to living in a modern world that being deprived of some of its conveniences would drive the average person crazy.

Robin Knox-Johnston wrote a terrific book about his circumnavigation called A World Of My Own and in it he recounts what kept him motivated when things got challenging. He was sailing for “Queen and Country.” What an awesome idea and when things got tough he just toughed it out knowing that was what would be expected of him. Do you for a moment think any of the competitors competing in the upcoming race are going to be sailing for the pride of their country?

There are three Americans in the race. Can you imagine them, when things get difficult and  you know for sure that it’s going to get difficult, that they would just suck it up and say to themselves that they were doing it for Donald Trump and the good old US of A? Not sure about that. You see RKJ didn’t know about any of the modern conveniences of the future and was content and satisfied with what he had. It’s going to be a mind game for those competing in the next race to adopt a sixties mentality and push out of their mind the fact that a Red Bull could be quite useful at times. – Brian Hancock

Jump in the discussion here.


February 10th, 2018

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Eduardo Sylvestre, Brazilian sailing coach, PE teacher and World Sailing regional development co-ordinator for South America writes about transforming lives…

As World Sailing coach working on sailing development and having been involved with the Emerging Nations Program (ENP) for the past three years on two continents, America and Africa, it is easy to see the impact that our programmes are having in transforming the lives of both sailors and coaches.

Felipe Andre is one of thousands of youngsters – many of them talented and all of them enthusiastic – to have now benefited from the ENP, which must surely stand as one of the governing body’s most important and in the long term most influential achievements to date

In 2015 I first met Felipe Andre, a young sailor from Angola. A tall, timid teenager who was having his first ever formal coaching classes, learning upwind theory, trimming, sports psychology and boathandling. He was eager to learn and fast on the water, faster than everyone else in the clinic in Maputo, Mozambique.

When I saw him in Langkawi, Malaysia for the Youth Worlds the same year he was thrilled, and knew that without the ENP program he wouldn’t have been able even to participate in such an event. I was excited to see him and work with him again.

It was a great challenge for him competing against the best young sailors in the world. At the end of the championship he finished 40th out of 66th sailors – he was extremely disappointed.

Read on.


February 10th, 2018

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Our friend Jim Hahn was doing what he loved on Saturday, February 3, skiing in Vermont, when he had a catastrophic accident that has left him paralyzed from the waist down. Ski patrol rushed Jim down the mountain and he was airlifted to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, where he underwent surgery Saturday night to stabilize his spine. Jim, being the character that he is, made sure to quiz the Helo pilot on the maintenance records of the helicopter during the flight.

Jim is a loving father and husband, who, when not traveling the coast working boat shows for Ronstan, enjoys quality family time on their Express 34 Houdini, skiing with friends and family in Vermont, cooking up a meal, kicking off the “Merry Making Season”, “warming the deck” in May, and dreaming about sports cars, among many other things. A consummate cheerleader for everyone, Jim is always there with an encouraging “Send it!” in whatever you’re doing. In short, Jim is not just the life of the party, he puts the life in every day.

Jim has been a staple in numerous classes, including the Swan 45 and Swan 42 class. Alix, Jim’s wife, is a two time International Women’s Keelboat Champ (2016/2017) and a truly incredible person on and off the water.

There’s some chatter in the forums, and a GoFundMe site for those who wish to contribute or send positive vibes. The Hahn’s are attacking this full force, and are extremely grateful for the support they’ve received from our incredible sailing community.


February 9th, 2018

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A beautifully enhanced photo of what appears to be a Cal 34 dug deep off Coronado. Thanks to  Taylor Fausett Fine Art Photography. And the title is thanks to a Peter Gabriel classic that is currently helping the Ed get through a tumultuous relationship.


February 8th, 2018

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Out in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, some students at the University of Colorado have jump started their long dormant sailing team. Since restarting the team in 2015, it has grown to over 30 active members, competed around the nation, and greatly increased interest in the sport in their landlocked state.

They now sail regularly at Union Reservoir with their fleet of six 420’s and a Hobie 16. However, despite their recent success and expansion, they still need the support of the community to continue to grow.

Currently, they’re holding a fundraiser with the goal of purchasing a chase/coach boat for practices, safety purposes, and to assist with racing. Click here to get to their fundraising page. They currently only have $675.00 pledged, surely the Anarchists can brighten their outlook, can’t we?


February 8th, 2018

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The Biz

UK builder Oyster Yachts is considering its options after failing to secure sufficient funding to continue trading

Late on February 7, Oyster Marine Holdings, the holding company of the UK’s Oyster Yachts brand, entered into administration working with KPMG Restructuring. This process is now underway with the objective to find a buyer as quickly as possible.

In a statement yesterday, KPMG said: Neil Gostelow and Mark Orton from KPMG Restructuring have been appointed joint administrators to Oyster Marine Holdings Limited, the holding company for the Oyster Yacht group of luxury boat builders.

Headquartered in Southampton, the company also trades from Wherstead in Suffolk. Its main trading business, Oyster Yachts, is currently considering its options after failing to secure sufficient funding to be able to continue to trade. No other companies within the group form part of this particular administration.

Oyster Marine Holdings owns the Intellectual Property to all of the technical drawings and moulds used in the production of the yachts in the Oyster range.

Yesterday, Oyster CEO David Tydeman told IBI that in total around 330 people in the UK and US have been laid off. Continue reading thanks to IBI News.


February 8th, 2018

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I saw online that there was a Superyacht regatta in Antigua. The eighth annual apparently. It reminded me of a funny story. I raced the first Superyacht regatta in Nantucket many years ago. So long ago in fact that the biggest boat, the one that I was racing on, was a measly 125-feet long. I recently wrote an article about a new Superyacht that has just been launched. It is 198-feet overall, had a mast that towers  216-feet and a Gennaker that is 24,000 square feet in area.   That’s larger than 11 tennis courts, but I digress. I was crew boss aboard Timoneer, a S&S design, and it was my job (with clipboard in hand) to make sure that the drinks were cold, that the owner’s wife was well attended to, and that their daughter’s every wish was carried out; and promptly.

The handicap system was rudimentary, but since we were the biggest boat in the fleet and it was a pursuit race, we were last to start. Nantucket Sound is a wonderful stretch of water for a yacht race and we took off on close reach, quickly gaining on the boats ahead. As we got closer the skipper of Timoneer, an old South African mate of mine, paged me from the ivory tower where he was overseeing the helmsman (who by the way was steering with a joystick) and asked me to go down to the galley and look in the freezer and see if I could find a large frozen fish in there. Earlier in the month, on a passage from the Caribbean to Massachusetts, they had caught a 4-foot Mahi Mahi and wrapped it up and tossed into the freezer. 

I made my way down through the plush carpeted saloon, pushed a secret button  located behind the Picasso hanging on the bulkhead. The button opened a sliding door which led to the crew area where I found the freezer and the fish. I was not quite sure what the skipper had in mind but was soon to find out. I dragged the fish up on deck and noticed that the skipper was getting one of the fishing rods ready. The rods were mounted on the stern of the yacht and he motioned for me to bring the fish over.

We were still gaining on the boat ahead and as we drew alongside the skipper, having hooked the frozen Mahi Mahi onto the rod, slipped it over the side. The crew on the boat to leeward were all sitting on the windward rail but had not noticed the hi-jinks going on aboard Timoneer. The fish was now well astern of us when the skipper yelled, “look we got a fish.”  You can only imagine the looks on the faces of the crew on the other boat. They were getting overtaken, which was bad enough, but the fact that the boat overtaking them was fishing, and worse yet, catching was more than they could manage.

We ended up passing all the boats in the fleet and pulled the same stunt on all of them. We even caught the fish during a spinnaker drop at the leeward mark as we overtook two smaller boats. That evening at the prize giving the buzz was all about Timoneer and the fact that they were fishing during the race. It was only when the other crews swapped notes and realized that it could not be possible to catch a fish as we passed each and every boat that our cover was blown.

Personally I am surprised that no one noticed that the fish was frozen in a curve from being plonked in the freezer, and when it was being reeled in hardly put up a flight. You see the point of this story is that people are so easily fooled. They were more incredulous that we were fishing to notice that the fish was not only dead, but very frozen. Sadly the Superyacht regattas these days have become far too serious affairs and I am sure that if any crew tried to pull a stunt like that they would be ejected from the event. – Brian Hancock.

Photo thanks to Claire Matches


February 8th, 2018

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Awesome video of the Rob Shaw-designed  rocketship, Blink. Title rip off thanks to, well, The Catherine Wheel.


February 7th, 2018

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Some commentators on the VOR Stopover in Nansha clearly have no real perception or understanding of the requirements of a commercial event such as the Volvo. Either that or they are so parochial that they are frightened their own little territory might one day be eclipsed and perhaps sooner rather than later.

Snide comments such as Nansha isn’t really Guangzhou shows an ignorance of Chinese geography while any writer that thinks that the Volvo Ocean Race could exist AT ALL without the sponsors clearly has no grasp of commercial sports sponsorship. Let alone the Volvo Ocean Race.

It is important to remember that, like it or otherwise, the person that pays the bills normally calls the shots.

It is correct that every team had the inducement of avoiding what would have been effectively a 1 point penalty by making the trip to Guangzhou. However it may have missed some writers notice that the sponsors of every team have either commercial interests in China  or an important message to deliver so they weren’t going to complain.

Anyway, with that off my chest, what about the stopover itself?

Well, it was crowded. Not sure what the overall footfall will turn out to be but the daily attendance knocked that of Hong Kong into a cocked hat. Perhaps better promotion, easier access (there was a metro stop only a few hundred metres from the marina) or greater interest in something different, the reason doesn’t matter, the turnout proved the value of having a stop in mainland China.

The in port race was scheduled for close to the top of the tide to give a large a race area as possible and standing on the committee boat and seeing no wake while she sat at anchor belies reports of a 3kt current during racing.

They say in the America’s Cup that ‘There is No Second’. Sadly in the Dongfeng Guangzhou In Port Race there was, just one, one more in the pre-start than either Dongfeng or Scallywag would have wished with both being called over early and being forced to return while the rest of the fleet headed off up wind. A spot on call by race officer Bill O’Hara as video accurately aligned with the start line would prove.

As they were at the pin end – pictured above, both elected to spin round the pin and restart and off went Scallywag up the first beat. Not so Dongfeng though! Their spin was a little too sharp and they tried to take the pin mark with them. The trouble with torpedo keels is they can be akin to a fishing hook and by the time the local lads separated themselves from their oversized fender Mapfre was unfurling at the top mark with the two Dutch boats close astern.

Over the 4 laps of the short course where speed of furling and unfurling was at a premium Mapfre maintained, and in fact extended, their lead, the two Dutch boats swapped their places in 2 & 3 a number of times while Scallywag showed good pace after their belated start to overhaul Turn the Tide on Plastic with Dongfeng bringing up the rear while Mapfre just walked away from everyone to finish comfortable winners.

While I am sure the local sponsors were disappointed with trailing the fleet they appear to have learned enough about our sport to realise ‘that’s yacht racing’ and unless you have the occasional OCS you really aren’t trying hard enough.

And so on to the Awards Party, and it indeed developed into quite a party.

Again sponsored by Dongfeng and held in a high tech (and thankfully well heated) marquee it had a relaxed atmosphere which evolved rather than degenerated into a good old fashioned Volvo Stopover party which was still going strong at 0200 this morning.

As to the ceremony itself, it started with a troupe of Chinese female drummers – they do seem to like making big noises here and then Richard Brisius took the stage to welcome all. Richard comes across as a bit wooden compared to his predecessors but that shouldn’t be taken as a criticism as this was only the second time he had addressed the whole Volvo Ocean Race ‘family’ and it does take time and practice to become used to talking to several hundred people at one time, many of whom would be wishing for some pithy statement or other as to where the race is going after this one finishes AND when that will be. This was followed by an interview with ‘local’ skipper Charles Caudrelier. It was almost surreal with the questions asked by Andy Green and Jessica in English & Chinese, answered by Charles in his French accented English and in disembodied Chinese (actually DFRT lynchpin Li Li standing just offstage).

These two on stage appearances (Richard & Charles) demonstrate that in the increasingly public world of professional sport it is no longer sufficient just to be good at the job, the ability to communicate to the wider public is a growing requirement..

Ably presented by Andy Green alongside local girl Jessica the event included awards for the Hong Kong In Port Race along with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd for the Guangzhou In Port and of course, being China, lots of ganbays (bottoms up) with the local brew bizho much in evidence. That is kind of like a mix of rocket fuel and something, not quite sure what that something is but it hits the spot. That of course warmed everyone up for the party that decamped itself to the hotel bar. (I have yet to find an accurate finish time and those there are the end probably weren’t able to focus on their watch in any case.) Fight hard on the water, good mates off it. The free flow beer and rum certainly didn’t hold back the sailors with one corner dancing away, other in deep conversation and a third group apparently concentrating on getting copious amount down their neck – breakfast the next morning was a very quiet affair ☺.

So to the final day of action off Nansha Marina which was the Pro-Am with a twist. A Mr & Mrs challenge between Kenny Fok and his wife, multiple Olympic Gold Medalist, Guo Jing Jing with a head to head on Dongfeng and Clean Seas with honours going to ‘Mr’. Some guests even had so much fun they didn’t want to let go of the wheel and almost had to be prised back into the support RIBs. It is amazing what can be done with a couple of iPhones and a Wechat account. A total of 17 channels being deployed with the largest one being watched by 1.2 Million people. That has to be something of a Volvo Ocean Race streaming record.

So to the final evening which was a locally organised Gala Charity Dinner in aid of the WWF (China) Plastic Pollution awareness campaign. A sumptuous affair which apparently had the holders of no less than 20 Olympic Gold Medals in attendance where the Charity Auction alone raised in excess of ¼ Million RMB. The world is (thankfully) waking up.

And so there it is, Mapfre will certainly be happy with a (now) 5 point gap in the In Port Series, Dongfeng got their home stopover, they are happy, Mr Bekking enjoyed the food, David Witt appeared to be enjoying himself. TTOP had a small pavilion there and China is a huge market for Akzonobel so I am not entirely sure which two teams would have told certain writers they were not happy with the trip to China. On top of that, several 10’s of thousands of  people attended the stopover, the crews experienced a little piece of China, the sponsors had the opportunity to be visible in one of their markets, no one was penalised for not attending unless unavoidably detained, and yet the Volvo Ocean Race, a full on commercial sporting event has, according to some, lost some credibility by going to Mainland China. Really?

There is a basic rule in sports marketing – “Follow the Money”. Any event has to evolve or die.

Shanghai Sailor


February 7th, 2018


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