My issues with sailing began as a youngster. I will never forget my first race and rigging our Pelican dingy on the sandy banks of the Swan River at Royal Perth Yacht Club in Western Australia. I recall Dad saying “here’s how you set the spinnaker boys”, as he pulled on the halyard, then snapped the pole (a wood broom handle with handmade fittings) to the brace line and mast. The process seemed simple enough.
We had a good start and reached out through the white caps to the first mark at a fast pace in the heavy wind known as the “Fremantle Doctor”. We were lucky on the jibe by staying upright and headed off downwind, but this was not so for the half dozen boats that capsized. “OK Scott, time for the kite!” I yelled at my brother, as he went forward and attached the pole to the mast. The tiny purple & white kite cracked open as the stiff breeze caught it and we were off like a rocket. Imagine a pocket handkerchief size of nylon fabric straining at the seams as our boat skimmed over the waves.
Water started gushing from the centerboard like a geyser; spray hit our eyes, a rooster tail exploded from the rudder, as the whole boat shuddered with vibrations under the strain. Next thing we knew we were in the lead and pulling away from the fleet at an impressive rate, as most of the chicken livers did not set a chute. Somehow we managed to keep that little dingy on her feet and we were soon rapidly approaching the leeward mark and a rocky lee shore. “Time to douse” I yelled and irreverently released the spinnaker halyard, with the adrenaline still raging through my veins. The wind caught the sail and promptly blew it into the water in front of our bow. We spent much time shrimping to clear the chute off the centerboard and created a big tear in it before we packed it away. Meanwhile the rest of the fleet rounded the mark ahead of us as we slowly clawed away from the rocks. We spent a miserable hour floundering our way upwind in a semi submerged state before Dad finally took pity, threw a line and towed us ashore.
To this day I recall this hard felt lesson each time I control a halyard, by giving it a turn around the winch.
August 25th, 2015
The conclusion to Jen Edney’s G4 delivery story. Part 1 is here.
The best watches were typically sitting on 14-22 knots. Shannon would perch up at the helm with various gourmet snacks, euro-techno blaring, and hitting speeds at up to 25 knots. A two time winner of the America’s Cup, he has an almost incessant need to push. We all had tremendous confidence in his ability to multi-task while foiling at 25 knots, even in the dark.
The most challenging night was beam-on seas and breeze with gusts into the 30’s. We sailed with two reefs in the main and a reefed solent. The G4 handled brilliantly, albeit a bit wet. When cells of breeze rolled through, we’d simply bear off 20-30 degrees and let her unleash into the high teens. It was a wet and somewhat rough evening.
By the end of the passage, we all felt calm and at home sitting on speeds in the high teens. Eating, sleeping, walking around at this speed became normal. We had two days where we clocked between 350 and 400 miles – in cruising mode. “These are seriously big numbers,” Peter said to me. “This really may be the ultimate coastal cruiser for the performance set, easily sailed by 1-2 people.”
“There’s an inherent thing about speed and adrenaline and when you add it into an uncontrollable environment like the ocean, says Shannon. “All that foiling does is make you want to go sailing! Life has gotten so fast paced that people want to go cruising at 5 knots, but to have the option to up the ante to 25 on the G4 is something special.”
Peter is, as usual, full of vision. “The goal has always been to develop a coastal cruiser/racer that people like us, who get their performance fix from multihulls, kiteboards, racing yachts, or other waterborne activities, can handle with our families,” he told me. “We wanted Formula 40 speed with shorthanding ability, and during the development process, it became clear that foiling and flying would definitely be possible and an added benefit for our target audience. With hindsight, the foiling is absolutely brilliant.”
Peter said that the G4 can be pushed so much harder than any forty-foot performance cat, and the numbers bear it out: A F40 would top out at 23 knots, the original AC45 would top out at 27 knots, and beyond that, a pitchpole. The G4 has already been over 31 knots, and has plenty more to offer in speed. In summary, the foils take the G4 concept to a another level.
Shannon thought the concept worked best in the sense that you have something that can smoke so many things on a performance level yet you can really cruise it. “For me this is a weekend sailor, but it opens up your range for that weekend with the miles that it can eat up,” he said. “Like the original Gunboat, the G4 opens up a new door to how cruising can be perceived.”
“It’s not just about the boat, it’s about the concept of foiling in general, explains Shannon. “When people experience it, you don’t have to convince them of anything.” As a guy with a big family and hundreds of young local island fans, he’s clearly excited about what it means for the future. He preached to me: “Everything that’s happening in our sport will make it more accessible, kids will have more fun sailing than opti-training, and sailors who appreciate progression will rekindle their passion for sailing. People who have sailed their whole life will be blown away by it and people who have never sailed before will say ‘holy shit why has it taken so long?!’”
I’ve said “Holy Shit!” numerous times over the past couple of months – from going bow down into a wave while foiling on a GC32, nearly getting sliced in half by Moths while shooting under water, and helming a foiling cat offshore, and I hope I never have to stop saying it. And with the wave of exciting developments in innovation and design – and in how those innovations are being shared with the young people who are the future of the sport by folks embracing and nurturing their passions – It’s hard not to be excited.
August 25th, 2015
After coming in second over the line and fourth on handicap in the Bayview Mackinac Race, Curt Jazwiecki put his Melges 24 Gnarly Ruca into singlehanded mode for some outlaw racing in one of the last anti-sportboat regions left. Here’s Curt’s blog page, and here’s his story:
Putting the M24 in Mac race mode took a considerable amount of prep work. I figured that with the boat in “coastal” mode I might as well check a few more items off of the bucket list. The Lake Erie Solo challenge is on that list. But it wasn’t meant to be, at least not this year. I set off on a race of my own, for my own reasons, instead. Here’s the background on that.
At the start, most everyone was late. I intended to start 30 sec after the gun to stay out of the way, but did not realize that most people started minutes late. Well, I was there and had already timed my “outside the box” start. Off I went in light air about 50-60 degree off the wind. Auto on, A0/5 up, adjust rig….check.
This was my first official/unofficial singlehanded race, I was on a boat that everyone said could’t be singlehanded, and had one of the the shortest waterlines in the fleet. I had thought that I would be behind, but to my suprise I was out in front of everyone. I did’t want to sit on the lead boat, so I made a course change to go below him.
By 1400 I quickly horizoned most of the fleet and could only see two boats. This was an issue because I had spoke with the skipper of “Avatar” before we left the dock and agreed I would radio in every 2 hours starting at 1400 so he could make sure I was safe. I really appreciated the gesture, and hoped to contact him in the future to say thank you. I found myself out of radio transmission range of the handheld VHF from the rest of the fleet. I couldn’t find my masthead antenna after the Mack so I only had handhelds on board. I could hear them, but even climbing my mast a few feet and using the boost feature it seems I could not get a call out. I hope I didn’t worry anyone. I tried calling out to the boat behind that I could see, but got no response and figured he had his radio off altogether or on 16.
I played the routing game right and after tacking on a few big shifts the right way around Pelee Island, I couldn’t see another sailboat anywhere. A huge advantage sailing the smaller boat was the ability to tack and and complete sail changes easily and quickly. I reached Pelee Passage Light and found a fisherman in a bass boat. He looked at me like I was nuts, I looked the same at him. Considering the huge lead I had, I wanted to keep sailing on to Buffalo. Had I been racing officially I would have surely continued on. Logistics hassle and my Dad’s 64th birthday party Sunday afternoon said otherwise, besides I think the point was already proven about 5 min after the start.
After rounding I over-eagerly thought that I could fly the A1 to Huron. I knew better but did it anyway, and managed to make a course about 10 deg off the mark, but my autopilot was not enjoying itself. Spinnaker down. The boat responds so much quicker than the auto can, I see why high-dollar integrated autopilots are used by the minis! That’s what I get for being cheap and ordering an inexpensive pilot a few days before.
Conditions piped up a bit and it was getting dark. Time to grab a bite to eat and put my night gear on. I rolled into Huron after dark doing 9 knots with 4 foot waves reaching under jib and main with the occasional wave coming over the bow.
I gybed around R2 and headed for the islands. Perfect downwind sailing weather. I wanted to light it up with the big blue A2, but the autopilot was not enjoying the wave angle and there was decent traffic in the area on a Saturday night. The last thing I wanted to do was risk a collision with a drunk powerboater that didn’t expect a sailboat to be going 15 knots.
I was treated to a fireworks display from Cedar Point and cracked open one of the two Coors Lights I brought along. It was hard to resist the urge to pull into Put-In-Bay for pizza at Frosty’s. This is why you don’t see people doing long overnights on M24′s. Sailing fast during the day and hitting the bar at night with your friends is usually the way to go. Why punish yourself? Oh yea, the challenge and settling the debate….back to sailing.
Once I was in the lee of the islands around midnight, I hove-to, rigged the A2 and ate a MRE. After eating, my common sense prevailed and I left the A2 in the bag, after all it was only midnight and I still had to sail to 10 am. I was so far ahead of schedule that I would have run out of lake in less than 2 hours and would have to sail back upwind. I rolled up the jib and sailed under main alone making between 7 and 10 knots in perfect surfing conditions.
I was met with a big freighter at 5 am at the Toledo harbor light, I had to do a 720 to give it enough room to pass before I could round the lighthouse. Once back at the west end of the lake, I did everything I could to slow the boat down, after all, I had to make my trip last 24 hours. I thought about sailing on to Detroit, but my car and trailer were here. I made coffee, had breakfast, and sailed in circles. Hot Starbucks coffee on a Melges 24 sailing singlehanded, who would have thought.
The RO that started the race was out on his boat having coffee and kept and eye on the clock for me. I put the motor in gear at 9:31 am on Sunday and slid up to the dock at NCYC, making the passage under sail right on 24 hours as required. The Commodore and his wife welcomed me back and gave me a hand with the dock lines.
There you have it. 24 hours and 100 miles on a Melges 24. Done.
August 25th, 2015
If you followed the Transpac this year, then you probably read some of the many shocking reports of trash and (mostly) plastic debris scattered along the race course. Between the Japanese tsunami of 2011, the North Pacific gyre’s unfortunate position in a dominant high between earth’s two largest economies and a couple of el niño-influenced tropical storms driving the fleet north, 2015’s Transpac created a perfect storm scenario of a large racing fleet sending it hard through the world’s largest man-made minefield of horrors. Divisions were almost surely won or lost as a result of how many times one boat had to back down off of rubbish and nets vs. another boat, with a number of sailors such as Rio 100’s Gavin Brady urgently blogging about the severity of the problem in an effort to raise awareness, “I’ve never seen anything like it…. this is a great tragedy to have so much garbage out there. We’ve got to as racing sailors let everyone know about this, because otherwise no one would believe it.” Sobering words from the globe-trotting Kiwi.
Though a morbid thing to be stoked about, the numerous reports of rubbish in the ocean and this hurricane-induced, north-is-best Transpac year is fortuitously timed with Dutch wunderkind Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup: Mega Expedition project which is just now coming to a close. Sending a fleet of nearly 30 boats into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to trawl for water and plastic samples while also recording visual surveys into an intuitive smartphone app, the fleet consisted of returning Transpac racing boats, cruising boats and a 171-foot research vessel. With a goal of creating the most comprehensive map of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch ever assembled, Slat and his team broke the ocean down into a grid and mapped anticipated routes for the fleet to sail – both east bound and west bound – to strategically sample and map the most affected area, which many estimates put at twice the size of Texas.
I was the delivery skipper of Chris Hemans’ Newport Beach-based Rogers 46 Varuna for the delivery to San Francsisco, and with three other crew left Hawaii a few weeks ago to sail back across the Pacific while also participating in the Mega Expedition project. While the representatives and volunteers present from the Dutch non-profit The Ocean Cleanup were very accommodating and a true pleasure to work with, their presentation and training seminar at Hawaii Yacht Club was as polished as your average J24 and left many skippers and crews looking at their awkwardly-shaped and bulky “manta trawl” research devices with apathy and resentment instead of optimism and enthusiasm for being part of a higher cause. Attrition was a result. “Weeds out the wankers,” we concluded. Varuna was all in and set sail.
Lifted by a huge shift before running into calm conditions, Varuna made her turn from north to east at about 37° north latitude about five days out from Hawaii. “Entering the box” where The Ocean Cleanup wanted us to begin conducting research near 154 W by 37N – in it’s northwestern quadrant – we managed to get off four one-hour trawls in ideal glassy calm conditions, with the preferred speed being a mellow 3.9 knots. At that speed, everything worked perfectly, the boat seemed quite happy and our manta trawl ‘Steve’, named in honor of a crew member who had to bail last minute bobbed up and down to port of Varuna’s wake. From a distance, Steve closely resembled a dismasted foiling beach cat with wings getting up and off of the foils repeatedly. I will admit to looking at the manta trawl for a pretty long time under the blazing sun before coming to that conclusion, however.
When towing ‘Steve’, we also began conducting the visual surveys as requested by The Ocean Cleanup. Holy shit. There’s a lot more trash out there than any of us had realized. This is my fifth return trip from the islands and tenth overall crossing in the past few years, so I thought I had all the trash before. Visually disabled from a war injury and usually sending it as fast as possible, well away from the Pacific High, I had become jaded in my experiences at sea – and with my vision – had failed to look closely and truly recognize how much plastic there actually is in the ocean. In the presence of two ocean crossing first-timers on board that were shocked to see the amount of plastic in the water and a speed that was reduced to just 3 or 4 knots, it was eye-opening to say the least at just how much plastic there is covering great swaths of ocean. We hit and backed down off of two nets, hit two fishing floats, nearly hit a large mooring ball with a 6-foot pole aimed at our headsail, made evasive maneuvers to avoid debris and more.
At 37 north we were nowhere near the center, which is in theory much more contaminated, yet there was plastic literally everywhere we looked. One must only briefly research how plastics, chemicals, heavy metals and other toxins work their way up the food chain to make the dangers of over-polluted waters hit home. In a wasteland where plastic is widely reported to outnumber plankton – the basis of marine life – by 36 to 1 and getting higher, Boyan Slat of The Ocean Cleanup helps articulate the urgency for the project, “The vast majority of the plastic in the garbage patch is currently locked up in large pieces of debris, but UV light is breaking it down into much more dangerous microplastics, vastly increasing the amount of microplastics over the next few decades if we don’t clean it up. It really is a ticking time bomb.”
The high compressed a bit and moved west as we moved east, putting us back in breeze and headed towards the coast sooner than we had planned and hoped for, meaning that it was sails (and boat speed) back up into the 8-9 range, making it harder to both spot rubbish and particulate, not to mention it was significantly harder to both deploy and retrieve, as well as tow Steve in a sea way. Despite the challenge, we got off two more trawls one calm morning and one more the next before we began approaching the coast in rapid fashion. The number of trawls, 7, was far less than what we had hoped for, but we felt good about our effort and confident that our research was good data and in accordance with the guidelines. Upon our arrival in San Francisco, we met with now-local Dutch sailor Ella van Gool, who has been volunteering locally to help The Ocean Cleanup’s efforts in the Bay Area. Out at sea, we had no idea how the project was going, but were stoked to learn from Ella that most boats participating have been making the effort and actually collecting good data!
On Sunday, the fleet’s 171-foot flagship research vessel, the Ocean Starr arrived in San Francisco to a hero’s welcome. With a race/ research boat escort by both Varuna and the TP 52 Patches to San Francisco’s Pier 30/32, the Ocean Starr was met with a hero’s welcome including international press from Australia, New Zealand, Europe and all over the US. Boyan Slat and researcher Julia Reisser both spoke at the arrival event while press, supporters and spectators were allowed to tour the research vessel which returned from a month at sea with an even bigger haul of trash and more dense samples than expected. A simple Google search for “the Ocean Cleanup” reveals that Boyan Slat’s project and his goals are being spread near and far and his message is getting out there.
That message – so far – is again a sobering one, though one which needs to be heard: there appears to be even more plastic in the ocean than originally feared and predicted. I know that was the case on Varuna. Statistically, many will immediately doubt the findings and make semi-retarted yet serious claims that because they can throw a snow ball on a floor and can’t walk across a mythical island of trash that nothing’s wrong. But when 97% of the science community, world leaders and even the world’s most prominent religious figures begin bringing environmental issues to the forefront of the global and national debate, the momentum behind recognizing the issues that we face as a global community becomes too great to ignore and legislative change will have to occur. With the single most important global summit on climate change to ever take place just three months away in Paris – where world leaders will attempt to create a legally binding and universal agreement on climate – research like the Ocean Cleanup’s and other good data comes at a critical time in our history. Coming full circle to include Transpac boats to help map the Garbage Patch that was discovered by Transpac return sailor Charles J. Moore some 18 years ago, this year’s Mega Expedition was a unique opportunity where the good fortune of being a sailor could potentially help benefit the ocean that we all claim to love.
With support from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Bill and Melinda Gates, the Dutch Government, crowd-funding and more – not to mention a now global media following – the Ocean Cleanup is surging forward on a wave of momentum and support. Next year off the coast of Japan, a large v-shaped boom will be anchored to the sea bed and deployed as a prototype to allow the ocean’s currents to push water through the v, collecting all of the rubbish on the surface and removing it using barges for off-site disposal. A year later, GPS trackers will be deployed to precise locations – likely by more Transpac boats – to better understand how the currents and the Gyre in the North Pacific work, ahead of a planned 2020 deployment of a full-scale trash collecting device which is envisioned to work as the Japanese prototype will.
I may not speak for all sailors, but I know I speak for many when I say thank you Ocean Cleanup for taking the initiative to help clean the waters that we sail, surf in, eat from and live near. You shouldn’t have to do it from halfway around the world, but we’re all very grateful that you are. And a hearty thank you to my incredible crew Adrian Johnson, Walt Kotecki, Jenny Guzik and boat owner Chris Hemans for what was a fantastic experience, both delivering and ocean researching. You guys all rock. Thanks to these guys for providing today’s title inspiration.
delivery skipper s/v Varuna and Ocean Cleanup Mega Expedition participant
August 24th, 2015
As Mr. Clean works on the report of his 8-day trip hanging with the US Sailing Team Sperry, combing through the pollution of Guanabara Bay, and the endless ass parade that are Copacabana and Ipanema Beach, we figured we’d share some information with you that explains why we don’t ask Olympic Athletes whether they ‘feel comfortable’ competing in nasty and dangerous water. Because around half of them would literally choose death in five years if it guaranteed them a medal. From a New York Times piece on doping comes this description of the Goldman Dilemma, and here’s a pertinent study.
There’s a well-known survey in sports, known as the Goldman Dilemma. For it, a researcher, Bob Goldman, began asking elite athletes in the 1980s whether they would take a drug that guaranteed them a gold medal but would also kill them within five years. More than half of the athletes said yes. When he repeated the survey biannually for the next decade, the results were always the same. About half of the athletes were quite ready to take the bargain.
Only recently did researchers get around to asking nonathletes the same question. In results published online in February, 2009 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, exactly 2 of the 250 people surveyed in Sydney, Australia, said that they would take a drug that would ensure both success and an early death. “We were surprised,” James Connor, Ph.D., a lecturer at the University of New South Wales and one of the study’s authors, said in an e-mail message. “I expected 10-20 percent yes.” His conclusion, unassailable if inexplicable, is that “elite athletes are different from the general population, especially on desire to win.”
Check back later in the week for Sailing Anarchy’s carefully researched and written onclusion on the water problem. And in the meantime, let’s give new ISAF CEO Peter Sowery some props for at least getting a threat to move the racing on record.
August 24th, 2015
The Little America’s Cup may have lost a lot of its shine, but if you think the world’s most open development class (and the boat that birthed the modern America’s Cup) is done giving lessons to the world’s high-performance thinking, you’re dead wrong. Here’s the latest Anarchist team to send in their update for the upcoming Little Cup. Get to know Team Norgador over here.
On September the 12th, a historical event will take place, and it will provide a unique opportunity to watch genuine flying machines, a cradle for spacecraft technology. Two seasoned sailors are at the helm of this “interceptor aircraft”, and communication, commitment, know how, fortitude, mental endurance – these are the ingredients of our recipe. Share with us these values, so this very project –our project~~, this challenge is lead to success. “You are about to hear the heartbeat of our earth to the tune of wind, water and clouds.”
-Jean-Pierre de Siebenthal, CEO, Team Norgador
August 24th, 2015
Photojournalist Jen Edney continues to make her mark on the yachting world as her skills and network grow, and this is perhaps her most impressive work yet. Here’s Jen’s report as the third crew aboard the Gunboat G4 on her trip from the Caribbean to the Carolinas, and we encourage you to follow Jen via Facebook here.
I am about to take the helm of the Gunboat G4 Timbalero for the first time, and my nerves are getting the best of me. But on a perfect evening with maybe the perfect foiling catamaran watch mate – silky-voiced 2010 and 2013 America’s Cup winner Shannon Falcone – and it’s time for me to give it a go, and to give him a long-deserved break from the helm. The gentle giant gave me the coaxing I needed for my anxiety to clear, and I settled in with the tiller, only for Shannon to smirk and say, “I believe you are the first women in the history of the world to helm a foiler offshore.” I let that sink in a bit. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been ‘world first’ at anything, but I think I like it.
Most of us have a healthy dose of fear, anxiety, and emotions before leaving for an offshore passage. “That feeling pushes me to learn as much as I need to really know about the weather, the boat, and the passage preparations,” said Gunboat founder Peter Johnstone, our skipper for the trip. “Leaving St Maarten and setting sail for North Carolina was an emotional moment; here we are sailing offshore on a direct, open-water route to North Carolina on a boat that many fear,” said Peter, and he was right. A 1300 NM passage in what amounts to an open boat with virtually no creature comforts. None of us could recollect any sort of similar passage in such a high-performance multihull. “More than anything, I was very, very excited,” he said.
Peter’s word for this voyage was ‘glamping’, or glamourous camping, and we struggled to find the ‘glam’ part. “Maybe if the stove or toilet worked,” said Shannon. We were able to graze at will rather than dine, and we had to refresh our bucket etiquette. With the pressure water system one of the casualties of the tip in St. Barts, there were no showers and washing was limited to the bottled water we brought aboard. “The most challenging thing about this trip was doing it without wet wipes,” said Shannon.
We spent the first afternoon cautiously sailing the boat well throttled back, and getting everyone oriented aboard. As the day went on, we all felt much more at ease, and the speeds started to build as we gained confidence in her offshore open water capabilities. By sunset, the G4 was moving along mostly in skim mode, with occasional full flight on her foils.
Tune in tomorrow for the rest of Jen’s G4 delivery story.
August 24th, 2015
First all girl crew into Plymouth after the Fastnet Race was Class 40 Concise 2 owned by Tony Lawson. Girls did a great job in the tricky race. Hopefully more ladies will be seen on the course soon following these ladies foot steps. - Anarchist Pip.
August 23rd, 2015
Yet another article lamenting the untenable water situation in Rio. Note the highlighted paragraph at the bottom. Does anything encapsulate the lies, deception, and arrogance of the “officials” better than this?
Canada’s top sailors are taking extraordinary measures to avoid contamination from the polluted waters of Rio de Janeiro during a test event there this week.”It is a major concern, and we have already seen athletes from other teams getting sick,” national team coach Steve Mitchell told CBC Sports.
“Our daily precautions involve only drinking bottled water; hosing down head, ears, nose and face after sailing, and keeping your mouth shut when in the marina or in the harbour,” Mitchell said.
Members of the Canadian coaching staff are also using hand sanitizer in their boat when handling lines that are in the water when in the harbour. The steps are unusual. But Rio’s pollution has been in the spotlight since an independent five-month analysis by The Associated Press published July 30 showed dangerously high levels of viruses from human sewage at all Rio Olympic water venues.
Under growing pressure, Rio state officials are employing stop-gap measures to retrieve floating rubbish from the bay, track detritus from helicopters, and step up bacteria-only monitoring. Local organizers and the International Olympic Committee have rejected moving rowing and sailing to cleaner venues.
August 23rd, 2015
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August 23rd, 2015