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AY7Q0632At around 200 entries for 2015, the Heineken seems to have stabilized their losses of the past few years, and with literally dozens of youth sailors entered from multiple islands on a variety of big boats, the future seems well assured.

America needs to take notes on just how quickly Caribbean sailors have responded to the lack of youth in sailing with some awesome new programs to get kids engaged with the parts of the sport that turn them into lifelong sailors.

We were sad to see the SA friends aboard Smile and Wave (Melges 32) and Soma (Formula 40 cat) hit snags enroute to the 35th anniversary Heineken Regatta, but there’s still plenty of interesting sailing ahead during a seriously windy weekend ahead.

The bloody dude pictured here is Spike Abrams, boat captain and bowguy of the Gunboat that launched the brand – the 15 year old G62 Tribe. Spike lost a battle with a metal furling drum he was working on while going upwind in the same 28-33 knots and 6-8 foot waves that have beating the area for weeks; he replaced the skin with tape and the lost blood with Heineken…good to go.

Friday will see record-breaking weather for the MOD-70 Phaedo^3, with 30 knots forecast for the first counterclockwise running of the Around St. Martin race in recent memory.  Stay up to date on the Gunboat Facebook Page, and find results at the Heineken site.

 

March 6th, 2015

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Gotta love this PSA from our friends at West Systems

Hi Everybody!

Dr._RivieraI am happy to report we have solved the brittle mixing pot issue and have been shipping the new, improved cup for close to a month now. Hopefully, the supply pipeline has been (mostly) purged of the offending cups. I want to thank you all for your comments whether supportive, indifferent, helpful or bad – thereefgeek in particular for starting the discussion. The one thing I hope you all will take from the discussion is the fact that all of us at Gougeon Brothers, Inc. are obsessed with your success in every project.

When a customer chooses to spend his or her hard earned dollars on West System products they WILL work as designed or we will find out what went wrong and then make it right! For those that might not know we are an ISO 9001-2008 company – which means our quality control systems are documented and audited. We take customer satisfaction seriously. We have reworked the injection molds to provide more uniform wall thickness, ceased flame treating the ejection pin ridges and narrowed the supply chain on the quality of the feedstock. We think these changes should ensure super-duper mixing pots for the next 30 years, or so.

We would like to offer each and every one of you that took the time to comment in the original thread  a dozen new 16 oz. mixing pots at no cost. Zip, Zilch, Nada. It’s our way to say thanks to our sailing friends on SA. In order to make that happen, we need to know who and where to ship the mixing pots to, so if you are one of the eligible 30 people (yes Dorothy, I made a list) please send me a private message with your name and shipping address. Once I have your info I will ship you your new, improved mixing cups with our compliments and our thanks.

Jump in the thread here

 

March 6th, 2015

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how cold 2

Cape Cod / Buzzards Bay. This is normally somewhere we moor/race keel boats. Its been fully frozen for weeks and strong enough for pond hockey and snow kiting! They say the last time this happened was 1984. Never thought I’d see this in my lifetime.  - Anarchist Tom.

 

March 5th, 2015

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Longtime SA supporter UK Sailmakers presents the first of a series of articles that  aren’t pimping their product, rather, pimping the sport. And that’s a good thing.

Pay_It_Forward_logoThose of us that race sailboats lead a privileged life relative to what others in our communities face daily. Not every sailor can afford a boat and those that can’t end-up sailing OPBs (Other People’s Boats). Yes, it’s a hell of a life we lead when the biggest challenge we have to face is choosing between Mt. Gay and Goslings. But put down your umbrella drink for just a moment and give a thought about what you’re doing, where you’re doing it, and (here’s the tough part) who you are. Then, after you recognize all that sailing has given you over the years, perhaps it time to ask yourself what you can do to give something back to the sport of sailing.

You don’t have to be a bleeding heart liberal to considering giving back…or paying it forward. Consider these opportunities:

  1. Get involved with a local community sailing program. It could be a formal organization such as Boston Community Sailing or Sail Newport. It could be a local Sea Scouts post. It could even be a local high school’s after school program. You got your sailing chops by sailing with and learning from someone willing to share sailing with you…perhaps you can pass along that gift.

  1. Become part of the adaptive sailing community. No, you don’t have to be disabled to be part of adaptive sailing. However, there are numerous organizations such as Shake-a-Leg and Sail to Prevail that focus on sharing sailing with disabled people and, as is the case with Florida’s Freedom Waters Foundation, at-risk kids. If you really want an experience, become a sighted guide for a blind sailor—that’s a real experience as you’ve got no downtime. Or, as the Larchmont and American Yacht Clubs have done with their Robie Pierce Regattas, start your own adaptive regatta or program. NY’s Nyac Sailng Club has a “try sailing” weekend for people with disabilities that…if nothing else…give them rides on sailboats. However you go about it, you and your club will never be the same again…in a very good way.

Take two

  1. Become a mentor for a junior sailor. Doesn’t have to be your kid, so every sailor can do this. If it’s your boat, make it a practice to have at least two kids sailing with you every race. (Two is the magic number as the kid will feel more comfortable if there is a “friend” along.) If you’re a crew, tell your skipper you’ve got some fresh meat that wants to sail. They will learn, they will do whatever you tell them to do, and they will be your most loyal crew for years to come. We’ve all seen kids with a passion for sailing develop into excellent sailors…and people; but that doesn’t happen without someone like you who is willing to invest in a junior’s future.

I speak from experience in this area. Tom Nash started sailing with me on my Express 37 when he was eleven and shortly thereafter brought his eight-year old sister Eileen. They were part of my regular crew for over a decade. Today Tom is the captain of an 80-footer with his 100-Ton license and Eileen is a third engineering officer on a merchant ship with a double degree from SUNY Maritime.

  1. If your club doesn’t have one already, start a junior big-boat sailing day. You’re not going to rob them of their dinghy sailing, but you’ll show them another aspect of the day. It doesn’t have to be racing because we all got hooked on sailing by just messing around in boats. Fun, engaging, and empowering…and easy to do.

Some of these ideas are major commitments of time or resources, yet others can be done more easily or merely require only a slight attitude adjustment. If you really love sailing, maybe not it’s time you considered giving something back to the yachting community. If you’re one of those folks who can whip out a Sharpie and check off the boxes based on what you have/are/will be doing, that’s really terrific. However, if you’re not giving back yet, Sharpies are only a buck so buy one, get into gear, get involved, and start checking off your own boxes.

Sure, UK Sailmakers’ focus is on making fast, durable sails, but we also are interested in feeding the roots of the sport.

Adam Loory, UK International’s General Manager.

 

 

March 5th, 2015

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how cold was it

Local Knowledge

We are so frozen in here on the Hudson in Kingston, New York,  that the sailing club checks the start line can by snowshoeing and skiing to it! – Anarchist River Sailor. Got some good Local Knowledge in your area? Send it on in and get featured on SA.

 

March 5th, 2015

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Big Pimpin’

sail racer 3 15SailRacer.net is a software company which has developed a smart phone app (Android and iPhone) for sail racing professionals and amateur racers. The basics are free, but a 10 euro annual subscription brings Premium features equal to a 2000 euro value (what would be needed to spend on mast mounted devices having similar features).
As said on their website – SailRacer.net is an additional tool next to the standard yacht equipment to take tactical decisions faster and to boost the performance of the boat and the crew. The interface is designed in a way that the important information is captured in a splash of a second without the need to analyze the numbers.
The app has the capability to incorporate NMEA data, integrates with the www.sailracer.net website – with a real time tracker, polar library, race course coordinates and marker sync.

The main 5 key features:

1) Time to burn
Guides the boat for an accurate and precise start, to cross the starting line at the very last moment at full speed.

2) Distance to starting box laylines
Supports getting to the best possible place at the Pin or the Boat end of the starting line.

3) Course laylines
Helps navigate to a mark in the most efficient manner, taking into account wind, polar and adjusted for the effects of currents.

4) Wind development curve (short and long term)
Tracks the oscillation and development of the wind, helps predict and choose the winning tack and to plan maneuvers.

5) Boat efficiency (%)
Provides first indication to readjust the travelers and to tune the rig. It is calculated according to polar, actual speed and target speed.

And they have nice and very addictive online game: The wind is real. Try it.

 

March 5th, 2015

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The SA Innerview

Martin Sohtell is the public face (and Commercial Director) of the overgrown beach cat we used to call the Marstrom 32, and we caught up with him back in Sydney this past December to learn all the details of the new M32 Cup and Series.  We’ve been big fans of this quick, jibless cat since Goran Marstrom pushed the first one off the beach at Miami’s rowing club, and with 8 boats racing in Miami this weekend and the Scandinavian summer getting ready to fire up, it’s worth paying attention to this relatively ‘light’ way to get into ultra-performance racing.

 

March 5th, 2015

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Oh it’s on! Kite v Moth v Nacra 20 foiler v M32. Who’s coming out on top? Weigh in here, and then we shall see who knows what’s up and who’s blowing smoke…

 

March 4th, 2015

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Class Action

Viper 640s Miami Scorch A Blustery Event

scorchedThere are a lot of reasons to come to South Florida to race Vipers in March.  The weather is usually great.  The competition is excellent.  But it’s not all about the racing around the buoys.  There’s also the race to the restaurant, known as the midweek “Miami Scorch.”  Historically a blast reach from the mainland to Key Biscayne for a midday lunch, the event epitomizes the camaraderie in the Viper 640 Class and is an unofficial highlight of the week.

The two-day EFG Winter Cup Regatta for the Viper 640 sportboat, in Florida’s Biscayne Bay on March 1-2, was sailed in (by anyone’s description) ideal conditions. Easterly winds in the low to mid teens with seven well run races.  But as TV pitchman Billy Mays used to say, “But Wait…there’s more!” On Tuesday Sscorch 2015 – 2 a fleet of 16 Vipers assembled at the US Sailing Center Miami for the Miami Scorch – supposedly a screaming reach across Biscayne Bay to No Name Harbor at the southern tip of Key Biscayne. As it turned out, with a 12 knot easterly blowing, going over was pretty much a fetch. Sailing in the bright blue waters for an hour across the Bay was a delight. When the Armada arrived in NNH, everyone tied up at the seawall and congregated at the Boater’s Grille for some amazing Cuban food ranging from paella and pork butt to salads and fried plantains. A total of 65 sailors and guests sat overlooking the balmy lagoon of No Name Harbor while sea stories and boat-handling tips were shared by all.

This informal “race” started between the outer most channel markers for the Coconut Grove channel.  Hampton YC’s Steve Taylor and his crew were first to reach shore in No Name Harbor. Taylor was reported exclaiming, “We won the Scorch! Apparently I need to do more races that end at a bar.” Bermudian and EFG Winter Cup champion Somers Kempe, however, claimed bragging rights for having six feet on the shore—with drinks in hand.  Others claimed victory by being the first to arrive via automobile, though in the end, everyone was a winner.

During a “quiet break: in the conversation, Viper Class Administrator Buttons Padin welcomed the group, shared a few comments about the day, and thanked everyone for their continued support of the Viper Class Association and the sport of yacht racing.

After lunch and dessert, it was back in to the Vipers for a rather peppy spinnaker reach across Biscayne Bay to Coconut Grove with the Vipers hitting 12+ knots. Once back at the US Sailing Center, it was back to business as boat prep for the upcoming Bacardi Miami Sailing Week that runs Thursday through Saturday.

The Viper Scorch is just one more example of the personality and culture of the Viper 640 class. Yes, these folks sail extremely well…and extremely competitively; but when together they share information and insight, they go out of their way to help other Viper sailors, and the know that there is life for the Viper Class off the water as well as on.

The Class has already made its reservation to return to the Boater’s Grille next March following the 2016 EFG Winter Cup. Photos here.

 

March 4th, 2015

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anarchy everywhere

Even within spitting distance of the US Naval Academy! This pic is from the Severn  Sailing Association who have a little fundraiser coming up. Check it out..

Please join us for the 4th Annual Severn Sailing Association Junior fundraiser. Wear your nautical best. Enjoy an open bar, live music, oyster on the half shell and hors d’oeuvres. There will be A silent auction and an awesome view of Spa Creek and the Chesapeake Bay. Rumor has it there will be SA gear to bid on..

The SSA Jr. Program strives to maintain accessible and affordable programs, providing opportunities for area youth interested in learning to sail, from basic recreation to Olympic aspiration. This year’s spring fundraiser event has been dedicated to replacing the fleet of Club 420 sailboats, used by both the high school and summer camp participants. Continuing to serve the community at the highest standard requires both safe and up-to-date equipment. Clicky.

 

March 3rd, 2015

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the rottersIt is often said that a fish rots from the head down.  If the rot inside ISAF can be defined by corporate officers or race officials as ignoring Conflict of Interest, then the rot starts with ISAF President Carlo Croce.  Croce has been President of Yacht Club Italiano since 1987.  He has also been President of the Italian member national authority to ISAF, Federazione Italina Vela since 2008.  So exactly how is Croce free of conflict of interest while serving as President of ISAF?  Oh yeah, he is also the former President of the Luna Rossa America’s Cup team.  Given Croce’s leadership example, is it any wonder then that other ISAF officials are fraught with conflict of interest issues?

Meet Chris Atkins who is an ISAF certified International Judge and International Umpire. Atkins is also an officer of ISAF, serving as Vice President.   In his capacity as Vice President, Atkins has oversight for the Office and Administration, and the Sailing World Cup. Atkins has been unresponsive twice to questions asked about this article.

Atkins was appointed by ISAF to be a member of the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race jury, and is a Vice Chairman of that Jury.

ISAF and Abu Dhabi have an extensive six-year economic relationship, per the agreement for Abu Dhabi to host the ISAF World Cup Grand Finale. Abu Dhabi also has an entry in the Volvo Ocean Race.

As an ISAF Vice President and certified IJ/IU Atkins is required to know every ISAF Regulation and requirement to hold and maintain an ISAF certification.   Atkins is required to know, and uphold, the ISAF Conflict of Interest Guidelines for Race Officials.  Because Atkins is both a member of the Jury for the Volvo Ocean Race, and an ISAF Vice President, this gives the appearance he can protect ISAF’s economic interest with Abu Dhabi over all other sailors or teams in the Volvo Ocean Race.  Atkins inclusion on the Volvo Ocean Race jury is a both a perceived and real Conflict of Interest.

It is the responsibility of Atkins to avoid Conflict of Interest, and he has clearly failed to do so. Worse yet, even if somehow he was previously been cleared by ISAF of this Conflict of Interest, that would show collusion by ISAF and a certified Race Official to subvert the ISAF Regulations and the ethical requirements of an ISAF Judge appointed by ISAF for an event.  Atkins inclusion on the Volvo Ocean Race Jury, while serving as a Vice President of ISAF, which has an extensive economic relationship with Abu Dhabi, while Abu Dhabi also has an entry in the Volvo Ocean Race, demonstrates a gross breach of the ISAF Regulations and ethics by both Atkins and ISAF.

The ISAF Conflict of Interest Guidelines specify “potential and actual CoI’s cannot and should not be ignored. An omission to declare a CoI, whether actual or perceived, or the failure to request clarification from the ROC to determine if an actual or perceived CoI exists, may lead to action being taken against the RO as stated in Regulation 35 “Misconduct of ISAF Race Officials and ISAF Representatives”.

This is taken from the ISAF webpage on Conflict of Interest: ISAF Race Officials are ambassadors and role models guided by principles of fairness, impartiality and integrity. At all times we must avoid the appearance of conflicts.

Atkins acceptance of an ISAF appointed position on the Volvo Ocean Race jury pool produces a perceived conflict of interest, which he was required to declare and then avoid.  The ISAF Race Officials Committee Guidelines For Assessing Conflict of Interest For Race Officials Appendix A, shows that because Atkins has oversight for the ISAF World Cup, and that Abu Dhabi is the long term host, that would necessarily lead to a “4” grade (the most severe) on the conflict scale.  If this were not enough to be a Conflict of Interest sufficient to disqualify Atkins from service on the Volvo Ocean Race jury, what would be?  If he was given a waiver by ISAF, exactly who gave it to him, and why?

To be clear, none of this conflict of interest is a result of anything done by either Abu Dhabi or the Volvo Ocean Race.  I asked Knut Frostad why Atkins, and ISAF Competition Manager/In-house Counsel/Solicitor Jon Napier were allowed to be on the Volvo Ocean Race Jury.  Knut told me via an email reply that Atkins and Napier were both appointed by ISAF.  One would be hard pressed to think that Abu Dhabi, in particular, and Volvo generally, are thrilled about the conflict of interest that ISAF has created.   Do teams not file a Regulation 35 report against Atkins and Napier about this because of fear of reprisal by ISAF against them?

fishLike the rotting fish in Rio which ISAF refuses to take the IOC to task over and force the move of the Olympic sailing venue to cleaner waters, ISAF also turns their head and holds their nose to avoid the smell of the rot that persists while they ignore yet another conflict of interest matter by a member of an ISAF appointed Jury.  If ISAF will not require strict adherence to their own Regulations by their own certified race officials, why should they expect anything other than anarchy to reign in the sport? Title inspiration can be found here.

Peter Huston

 

March 3rd, 2015

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Local Knowledge

The first 5 days of learning to ride a foiling kite board have been an overwhelming experience. I’ve gone from wanting to give kiting up completely, to having realized that this might possible be the coolest sport ever. Below is a video of one of my buddies learning to foil. It pretty much sums up everything I experienced the first 2 days. The OMFG moment came on day 3 when everything went silent and the board lifted out of the water.

Day 1, February 16th:I felt like a total newb. I could hardly water start the foil board, nonetheless try to ride it in a straight line. I wiped out dozens of times just going out a few hundred feet past Anita Rock and back- which took me almost 30 minutes. It felt like trying to ice skate with roller skates.

How is this even possible, I thought to myself. For the most part, I tried to ride bow down so as not to foil and learn some control but the foil is super sketchy in displacement mode. The early season gusty winds didn’t help much either was I was either left op’ed or left floundering with a 9.0 kite.

I face planted into the board, catapulted over the side, tumbled off the back, and crashed to both leeward and windward- all in epic fashion. The most terrifying- when the board came foiling towards me after having jumped off. At least one of us got to foil. I made it back in without killing myself, anyone else or getting rescued!
Foil board 1: Steve 0

Day 2, February 20th: Waterlogged, exhausted but not yet defeated. I got a serious beat down today getting chucked off the board multiple times at full foiling height. I wasn’t trying to foil but the board just jumps out of the water once you reach a certain speed and tends to leave the unprepared behind. I spent most of my time in the water- trying to waterstart the board flat. Little did I know, if you turn it on its side, you pop right up. By trial and mostly error, I’ll eventually get it but this is really going to hurt.
Foil board 2: Steve 0

Day 3, February 24: Everything got very quiet and before I knew it, I was foiling. There was no sound as the board lifted off from the water. In all my years of sailing and windsurfing, Id never felt anything like it. I leaned forward to control the pitch and rode what seemed liked minutes but was actually seconds before coming crashing down. The multiple beat downs I was experiencing were taking their toll but it all seemed worth it for that brief 5 second introductory ride I managed to get.
Foil board 2: Steve 1

For the rest of the adventure- head over to the blog. – Steve Bodner.

 

March 3rd, 2015

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Some days, you just gotta stay home.  This dude on Sydney Harbour had one of those days, but at least the Manly Ferry folks had some fun!

 

March 3rd, 2015

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cheekeeLongtime SA contributer and multihuller Ron White embarks on one of the more interesting sailing challenges in North America. 

I’m leaving in the morning for the Sunshine State for my third Everglades Challenge, often described as the toughest small boat race in the world.  Starting Saturday morning at 7:00 AM and running 300 nautical miles from Ft. DeSoto Beach on Tampa Bay to Key Largo, the EC has 3 mandatory checkpoints, two inside the Everglades.  It’s a multidiscipline race that requires sailing, paddling or rowing, and in some cases, getting off the darn boat and dragging it. The navigational challenges are enormous, and we have once again scouted sections of the course in advance to find the most efficient routes possible.  This is a race where experience with the course and preparation are HUGE, with lots of tough, longtime veterans making their annual pilgrimage to what can be a minefield of a race.  Simply finishing the EC is an accomplishment.

For the second year in a row, I’m sailing with Mike McGarry on a highly modified Tornado that should be faster than last year’s, when we were 2nd out of 142 boats.  The only way to improve is 1st!  Just like last year our “Tribe Names” are SwampMonkee and Chainsaw.  I’m often asked what you get for winning or finishing the EC, and unlike most races, eeryone gets exactly the same award…a two foot long wooden paddle with your class name carved into it and a sharktooth necklace.  I’ve won loads of races over the years, and there’s only one trophy on permanent display in my house – the Everglades Channel paddle.

Since starting training for my first EC in 2012 I have lost a total of 37 lbs, it has literally changed my life.  This year I made a goal to drop another 6 and I actually dropped 9, down to a stable 202 which is less than I weighed when I got married almost 36 years ago.

Last year we finished in 57hrs 55 minutes and never stopped to sleep; that’s when this photo was taken.  Follow us via tracker or learn more about the race here. Or just click into the SA thread here.

 

March 3rd, 2015

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Offshore obsessive and solo Figarist Henry Bomby turned a little help into a berth delivering the MOD-70 Phaedo (ex-Foncia) from the Canaries to Antigua, and he wrote one of his customarily good reports on the trip.  Follow Henry over here.

Sitting here in Antigua airport waiting for my flight back to London, life is good having just blasted across the Atlantic in just under 9 and a half days on board the new Phaedo3 MOD 70, one of the fastest sailing boats in the world.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 8.23.13 AMI originally joined the team just for the day to help take their race sails over to Portsmouth for painting. When I got back to France however my name was next to a bunch of jobs on the job list! I agreed to help out for the week as I heard talk they were going sailing on the Friday, and I was hoping I could tag along to grind for the afternoon if I was still around!

Tag along I managed to do and the next day I was asked if I fancied joining them for the trip across the Atlantic. I was super excited but hesitant, it would mean missing a weeks training in the Figaro and also (and much more importantly of course) mean missing a long planned Valentines weekend away with my girlfriend.. Fortunately coaches and Soph agreed it was a fantastic opportunity, and so it was sorted!

Arriving in Antigua
Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 8.23.07 AMWe were to be five on board. Skipper Mr Brian ‘easy cool, cool easy’ Thompson, the most laid back man on the planet, Sam Goodchild fellow Figarist currently enjoying a side project while on standby with Mapfre. Romain Attanasio, another Figarist (and Volvo ‘WAG’!), and Warren Fitzgerald (the boat captain fresh off the Hydroptère project) and me. We would be two watches, the roast beefs and the frogs, with Brian floating in between.

The first night we got straight into it and ripped across the Bay of Biscay at over 22kts. Rounding Cape Finistere within 15 hours. The boat as I said, is pretty remarkable…Shortly after leaving the sun went down, and we were straight into the watch system, Sam and I alone on deck of this 70ft machine which quite frankly scared the crap out of us in 25kts of breeze! We joked that Brian clearly had way more confidence in us than we had in ourselves as two young Figaro guys tore across Biscay in the pitch black. I broke my own personal speed record during our first watch, 30.7kts, with two reefs in the main and the J2 up, certainly ‘not pushing’ hard in anyway. Apparently?! The whole watch all I could think of was Brian’s last words before he went down for a nap ‘escape is down, escape is down, escape is down..’. On multihull a broach is a capsize, and you always need to know where your escape route is, 125 TWA is down , 95 TWA is up, as a very general rule. Anywhere in between is just terrifying!

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 8.23.22 AMAfter two days motoring South, we passed Spain and Portugal and were soon into the trades, 16-23kts and downwind VMG sailing all the way to Antigua. This thing punches out 500nm days like it’s nothing. At the beginning Brian was telling me how on Bank Populaire V during their Jules Verne record attempt, 30kts by the end felt slow, and how in a weeks time, 20kts would feel pedestrian to me too. I couldn’t believe him, but it was true. You do get used to the incredible pace these machines chuck out, and it’s hugely addictive; you just want more and more.

It’s worth noting that the MOD70 is probably the 7th ‘ish’ fastest boat in the world, and it would absolutely eat up the latest high-tech new 100ft monohull on any angle of sail and in any wind speed.  It struck me massively on this trip: why aren’t trimarans more common, especially for offshore racing? I for one, am completely sold on them! Tthey are faster, and definitely more dangerous which suits many offshore events which label themselves ‘extreme’, meaning they really do need the very best sailors in the world to sail them. They are also dryer, comfier and have the potential for foiling which is definitely the way professional sailing at least, is going. In fact Gitana already has t-foil rudders fitted to their MOD 70 and is currently in the shed to develop full flight for this season.

Maybe now with the Americas Cup in multihulls, the tide is turning, and by the time I am 40 years old, I fully expect the boat taking on the Jules Verne record to be a fully foiling machine, so learning to sail these machines at any possibility is vital experience. I am unbelievably thankful to Brian and the guys for allowing me to jump on board with them. My eyes have officially been opened and dreams now become even bigger! Exciting times ahead in sailing that’s for sure.

Aerial photo by Team Phaedo/Rachel & Richard

 

March 3rd, 2015

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With Great Lakes ice cover now at 88% – 2% more than even the cold and icy 2013-4 winter – it may seem like the hundreds of thousands of Midwest sailors will never even get soft water.  But if the lakes do thaw out before July, there’s some damned good long distance racing ahead thanks to the 500-plus boats that will race the two Mackinacs this year.

Chicago Yacht Club cemented their role as one of the forward-thinkers in offshore American sailing yesterday, announcing their amendment of the Chicago Mac rules to award the overall first-to-finish trophy to the first boat instead of the first monohull.  That’s 65 years of historical mistake they’re rectifying, and it’s about fucking time.  In doing so, they make the countries other big-fleet distance races – The Cruising Club of America’s Newport Bermuda Race and the Transpac – look positively mesozoic.

tpyc catAnd while The Transpac does give a multihull trophy (first awarded in 1997 to Bruno Peyron in Explorer)  the TPYC’s most prestigious trophy – the Barn Door – goes not to the first boat to finish, and not even to the first monohull to finish…instead, they give it to the tortured category of ‘first non-power assisted yacht to arrive that isn’t a multihull.’  That makes sense </sarcasm>. But hey – at least the Transpac allows multihulls to enter.  The Bermuda Race doesn’t even do that.

On the other side of the lake, we’ve heard (but not yet verified) that Bayview’s ‘Easy Mac’ – the shorter, more sheltered Port Huron-Mac – has opened up its rules as well, allowing smaller, more sporty boats to compete on the 200 NM shore course.  Melges 24s at dawn, anyone?  More smart thinking from adaptable Midwesterners, and more inclusivity on the water – never a bad thing, and a good explanation of why there are 500+ yachts distance racing over two weekends on the Lakes.  Nice work, Detroit and Chicago!

In a final bit of excellent Great Lakes news, the CYC also announced that 2015 would be a Super Mac year – that means the most intrepid teams will race from Chicago to Mackinac and then continue right through the finish line, sailing another 200 miles to the riverine entrance of the Port Huron Yacht Club.  We called it ‘five hundred miles of freshwater hell’ when we ran it aboard Bruce Geffen’s Nice Pair the last time the race was held in 2009 – here’s a full account of that one.

Where else in the world are you going to get a 500 mile course through water you can drink?  Check the CYC website for more info over here.

 

March 3rd, 2015

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lake michigan

Unreal shot from Lake Michigan by Nam Y. Huh. How cold was February? Average temp in Chicago was 14.6 degrees, tying the previous low in 1875.

 

March 2nd, 2015

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Face it, none of us can stop sailing. It’s a life long addiction. The Chili Peps may stop their song from being on this vid, but they can’t stop us! Props to Anarchist Jeff.

 

March 2nd, 2015

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IMG_3924 cropA huge thanks to Gunboat skipper Chris Bailet for spending so many hours on this interview.  Catch up on the Loss of the Rainmaker with Part 1, Part 2, and the report from Ocean Crescent and be sure to read through to the end of the story for Mr. Clean’s take.

SA: So they were 20 minutes out, and they would have 18 minutes to rescue 5 of you.

CB: Yeah, there wasn’t going to be time for grabbing your favorite pillow.  I prepared Brian and Max for what was about to happen, and walked them through the steps of evacuation. I went down into the port hull through the hatch to retrieve passports, wallets, cellphones and boat documents. I put everything into a dry bag backpack including the boat computers and the GoPro with which we’d been filming earlier. I went to the bow and set up a bridle with two long dock lines on each forward cleat and a large inflated fender tied to the ends of both.

SA: Was there any thought about making the boat watertight or setting up some way to track her long term?

CB: There was barely time to get our gear together and get the boat ready for the evac!  The helo and C130 were on site as we finished final prep for abandonment, and the helo circled the bow and hovered over our port side. The rescue swimmer gave us the thumbs up and began descending towards the water. At the first attempt, the boat surged down a wave at 6kts and we were pushed further downwind from the rescue swimmer. I started the starboard engine again and brought the boat beam to with the boards down at 90degrees. At the second attempt, the helo came over our port aft quarter and the swimmer descended.

SA: Where were the crew at this point?

CB: George was on the transom with Brian and Max, Jon was on comms with the helo, and I was at the helm. Max was the first off, then Brian. Both had help from George, who inflated their lifejackets and assisted them off the port transom towards the swimmer. George was third, then Jon, both with inflated life jackets. I had a few seconds to put the boat through a systems shutdown on the C-Zone, to put the boat into a secure mode to save battery and prevent fire. I stuffed a blanket and cushions into the port companionway to slow the ingress of water into the port hull, and finally, I lashed the EPIRB to a winch.  Because of the rescue swimmer not using a basket, I dumped the backpack and transferred the small items into two dry bags, which I clipped to my life jacket. I set off a personal locator and zipped it into my chest pocket, and prepared to abandon as the sun was going down. I jumped off the port transom and met the swimmer, Claude. Once I was in the helo, we were told we’d be landing at Dare Regional in Manteo, NC.  They would not be able to make their regular base at Elizabeth City, a few miles further.

SA: Can I get off the edge of my seat now?  What was the helicopter ride like?

CB: Long.  Freezing cold.  Really, really loud.  I’m going out on a limb to recommend folks try to avoid that flight.

SA: So now there’s a couple million worth of carbon floating around with a gangsta storm coming.  Who went looking?

CB: Quite a few guys tried to be cowboys, as you can imagine, including one fishing vessel Fine Tuna, which took Gunboat employee Michael Reardon aboard.  They were on station by Monday night Fine at the last location transmitted by the EPIRB; one media report incorrectly wrote that the CG had slapped some kind of beacon aboard, but the Tuna had only the pings up until they stopped.

SA: And it was crazy out there?

CB: They said they had 80 knots of wind and seas to 25’. And over the next three days, they managed to find some debris along with some items from Rainmaker, but no boat.

SA:  Identifiable debris?

CB: Yeah – seat cushion, a deflated fender, beanbag chair, floorboard, ditch bag, couple of other things.  Enough to know they were in the right place.

SA: Did you give up after that call?

CB: No, we tried to get up and find her on Tuesday via plane, but naval radio comms told us we were in a closed hot zone practice sector and grounded us.  We went out for two searches on Wednesday, with the first centering on the last transmitted position, where Fine Tuna was still searching.  We saw floating debris from the air.  For the second search, we researched the wind, current, and swell and focused on the probable drift location of the boat had the EPIRB come free during the nasty weather.  We had over two hours on station for each search with a pattern of east/west 40 nm, south 10/15mn, then back to the north before heading to Dare regional to refuel.

SA: Final conclusion?

CB: Debris on both searches, but no sign of the Gunboat 55 Rainmaker.

SA: Do you think she will turn up?

CB: It’s a big ocean.  Do you?

SA: Okay, you’ve had a chance to tell your whole story, and now there are a bunch of other questions I’d like to ask you to put this whole thing to bed.

CB: Shoot.  I’ve got nothing to hide.

AB: How many times have you sailed hundreds of miles offshore in the middle of winter? How many times were you the captain in those past experiences? In situations where you weren’t the captain, what type of discussions and preparation did you witness/participate in regarding “plan b” in the event of a catastrophic failure?

CB: I’ve done a handfull of deliveries out of New England as late as Christmas, a few out of FL all heading to the Caribbean.  Acted as Captain on 2 of the 5. We saw some pretty nasty stuff on Tribe one trip down in late December with 40+.  Plan B was Bermuda with the southerly, or wait it out and try to make bahamas with the NNW, or back to NC once it all cleared.

SA: How much experience/training do you have with regards to self rescue in the event of a dismasting or other catastrophic failure? Have you ever deployed a sea anchor or drogue? Have you ever had to construct a jury rig? Have you ever had to clear fouled props at sea? Have you ever had to board up windows, companionways, or other points of possible water ingress? Have you ever had to clean up a hydraulic or other slick spills? Are these things you’d thought about? Prepared for?

CB: Until last month, I’d never been on a boat where the rig came down.  I’ve deployed a drone on a monohull in a nasty storm, but that’s all. We were prepared to use the storm jib as a drogue, but felt that it would either bring the bow into the waves and bury the longeron or bring the stern up and bring water into the boat.  We never really needed to stop the boat, as it turned out.

SA: In the middle of the RM crisis, what was your thought process? Did you and the other crew members discuss your options for self rescue and weigh it against the dangers associated with assisted rescue?

CB: We all discussed it after the first damage assessment. We looked at options, spoke to the Coast Guard, and they told us to fire off the EPIRB immediately, because we’d told them out situation, and they knew what was coming.  If we were confident we could have gotten away from the coming front, maybe it would have been a tougher decision, but staying in the same spot and taking hours or a day to get everything sorted – that would have put lives in more danger, period.  And being on the very edge of helicopter range adds another reason to the ‘abandon’ column; if things get worse the next day, are you now out of range?  At some point you swallow your pride and the idea that you’re invincible and decide you’ve got a shit hand that you can’t bluff your way out of.  And you fold, before you lose all your chips.

SA: If rescue hadn’t been an option, and you ignore the weather forecast for a second, are there ways you could have improved the condition of the boat and got things going again?

CB: We didn’t have anything big enough to cover the window that could have supported wind and waves, so that is something to keep in mind.  We could have sorted out our engine trouble with enough time and maybe a little less sea state – similar to clearing the prop, which is a hate mission in big waves.  I’d like to think that the boat was still a platform for us as long as we needed it, and I don’t have much doubt that, if rescue wasn’t an option, we’d be repairing electronics, engine and window, and waiting for a lull so we could start stripping the longeron to rig it up as a jury mast. It would have definitely taken a few days.  BVI, here we come!

SA: You say weather was the biggest factor in your decision to abandon, what was your “plan b” for a catastrophic event when you set out, given the unforgiving forecast? You mentioned the Bahamas and Bermuda. Why weren’t those viable options? Was attempting to get to one these points discussed as a possible option onboard at the time?

CB:  I can’t emphasize how quickly things happened out there, it was pretty much a rush from the time we got the rig cleared to the evac, so we may have overlooked some of the options. Bermuda was still 450nm, and wasn’t going to be easy to get to with a NW, N to NE coming in the next 24 hours.  Cutting away the longeron was risky and would have taken a lot of thought to do it without dropping someone in the water or punching a hole in the boat. And until we got both engines running and the longeron on deck, we were not going anywhere.  And it was the same issue I mentioned above – go towards Bermuda, and now you don’t have a helo option.

SA: The photos from Ocean Crescent show no signs of visible damage to the port hull. Do you think it’s possible that the blow you experienced could have resulted in little/no structural damage?

CB: That photo was taken before they hit us. Look at the picture, the way its set up, was just before we collided with their starboard side.

SA: Having sailed with you before I know how competent and experienced you are, but this is obviously the biggest challenge you’ve experienced in your career. What’s the biggest takeaway for you as a captain (other than “sometimes shit happens at sea”)? What have you learned? How has this experience made you wiser, stronger, better?

CB: There are plenty of small lessons to learn about handling that specific situation in that specific boat, but really, we got our asses kicked by the ocean, and thankfully, no one got hurt.  Maybe what I’ve learned best is to pick myself up, dust myself off, and put my fists back up.  I love my job, and I love the ocean, and if you spend enough time out there, you’re gonna get cold cocked sooner or later.

SA: That’s it?

CB: What else can I say?  We don’t know how much wind hit us, we don’t know what happened to the rig, and we don’t know what happened to the boat.  I’m confident Gunboat is investigating everything they can to address some of the problems we had and I’m sure you’ll hear from them at some point, but my actions were all about making sure everyone was as safe as possible, and I don’t have any regrets.  It’s better to be a live donkey than a dead lion.

SA: Thanks very much Chris.

CB: See ya in St. Martin, Clean

 

Clean Reports

Because of Gunboat’s stature as one of the sport’s most visible brands, and their long association with Sailing Anarchy (and the fact that there are thousands of cabin-fever crazy anarchists buried under the snow), there’s been a massive amount of interest in the forums in the Rainmaker saga, with a small but vocal number of you complaining that you weren’t getting ‘the whole story.’  We have some advice for you: Get over it, because 15 years ago, you wouldn’t have heard about it at all.  We’re grateful to be able to bring a factual account of the story to you, one that we’ve backed up with information from Commanders and other crew.  We’re also so glad to have quality advertisers like Gunboat who would never even consider asking us to quash this report or threaten us in any way.  Like us, they believe in transparency, and like us, they wanted the story to be told.  But it’s important that you know our stand on this interview, and our own thoughts on this incident.

First off, Bailet is a personal friend of mine, and a longtime reader of SA.  Would I lie for him?  Not in a million years.  But rather than ask him hard followups, I trusted him enough to accept him at his word.  If you want to call that a soft interview, that’s your right.  No one is making you read it.

Second off, Gunboat founder Peter Johnstone is a sponsor, advertiser, and friend of SA almost since Gunboat began.  Would we lie for him, or let him write his own version of the news? Never.  Would our feelings for PJ and Gunboat make us go a little lighter on them than another brand?  We have to admit this is possible.

Finally, this is a multi-million dollar loss that’s now a multi-million dollar check for an insurance company to write, and you know what insurance companies really do, right?  They sue people – especially when they have to eat millions of dollars.  So we’ve got a maritime incident on international waters on a private luxury yacht owned by a very wealthy man, and all the details are in the hands of a tiny number of people, none of whom are about to go against their legal advice.  Now there’s no way that Chris was running all this by a lawyer, but I have little doubt that he was advised on parts of this interview.  It was either that or nothing at all.

Finally, while almost all the gaps in the report are due to lack of information (the rig failure mode, for instance), there are definitely a few revealing gaps that bother me.  While I prefer to avoid speculating in the absense of evidence, I need to point them out so I can feel good about all the work I’ve done on this report.

Gap 1: Departure.  While I wouldn’t have hesitated to leave on the forecast Rainmaker had, it would be for the express purpose of hauling ass.  Rainmaker’s average speeds up to the dismasting don’t indicate she was in any rush at all, and if that’s the case, there was no reason for them to leave with that forecast.

Gap 2: Brian and Max.  There are a couple of references to the owner and his son being in shock, but otherwise they are barely mentioned in the story at all.  This feels more to me like Chris’s well-known loyalty to his employer than anything else, but it seems to me that Brian and Max’s condition may have played a bigger role in the decision to abandon than the interview lets on.

Gap 3: Mayday or Pan Pan. The decision to abandon was made much simpler because of the Mayday call and the USCG advice to switch on the EPIRB.  Once that happened, the crew spent all their time working on rescue-related jobs until evacuated.  I am not second-guessing their call, but I am definitely wondering whether it was another factor (see above) that kept this very experienced and resourceful crew from at least making the effort to get the boat shipshape and start to think about what it would take to self-rescue.

Gap 4: Mainsheet.  While one of the crew took the helm from the autopilot within a second of when the squall hit, because he was immediately wrestling with the wheel, he was  unable to reach the emergency mainsheet dump button about a foot in front of the helm.  The rig came down a few seconds later.  Would a mainsheet dump have saved the rig?  We weren’t there, but there’s certainly a chance it could have.  But if I was sailing along on a delivery at 10-20 knots in 35-40 knots with a storm jib and triple reefed main up, I might think one person could handle both jobs from a foot away, too.  I’d be wrong, but I didn’t know that until after this incident.

Overall, I find Chris and the crew to have done an exemplary job keeping themselves and their novice bluewater sailing owner and his son alive after a nasty dismasting in an unforecast and extreme weather event and complicated rescue.  There will be people second-guessing this one for years to come, but neither the crew nor Gunboat have anything to be ashamed about.  Chris Bailet proved that his shoreside preparation is tops and that he’s great under fire, and he’ll no doubt be working on another Gunboat before too long.  And I wouldn’t hesitate to do a delivery with him, any time, anywhere.

Don’t agree?  Go argue about it here.  We’re done.  And if you want more Gunboat action, wait til Wednesday when 5 of ‘em hit the Heineken St. Martin race course.

 

March 1st, 2015

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Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking brings the pain…

Even that the first couple of days out of Sanya in the Volvo Ocean Race were uncomfortable, it was again a relative light leg with a lot of of cloud action. After TeamBrunel’s move to North started paying of, we knew it was not going to be an easy lead to hang on, as we were sailing into lighter air. Is it frustrating that when you sail into lighter air and the other catch up? Of course it is, especially knowing that once across the equator the situation was not looking better for us.

The east was strong and during one sched, we got overtaken while we we stuck under a big thunderstorm. Then a unexpected the breeze build 10 knots more than forecasted and we shot back in the lead, pushing hard doing 130 miles in 6 hours. The issue was that we got more lifted breeze than the the boats behind and with a forecast of a hole to the west we decided to do a gybe towards the east. And that ‘s were we made a small but costly mistake.

The weather forecast changed in 12 hours completely and basically gybed too late back and every mile we sailed east was a loss, we went from 1st to 5th. If you would have had that crystal ball, we should have been sailing on, as afterwards the girls team, made a swift transition in the west. We got right back in the leaders and could the other boats during one night as we were all lined up with a separation of 8 miles measured east -west. Then the breeze filled in from the east, while we were stuck under a thunderstorm with no wind. Within 12 hours we were 70 miles behind the leading boats. That was it, form there on it was follow the leaders.

So what brings the next leg: hopefully some nice down wind sailing in some big breeze., where we have showed not be slow. For sure it will get very nippy and moist, also downstairs, where through condensation the interior changes into a rainforest, with continuous dripping water of the ceiling., with a 100% humidity . What is wet , stays wet. Unfortunately we are not allowed to install a diesel heater downstairs., to dry things out. Some of you might agree and say we are pussies, but when you haven’t been there, you don’t know how it is and what a miracle a bit of heat can do for the crew.

If you still think we are not tough enough try following: next time you step in your car in temperatures around 0 – 4 C( 32 – 38 fahrenheit) , while it is raining, having sleet or snow, LEAVE YOUR HEATER OFF, open your windows and drive around for couple of hours, or better even longer:-) I bet you change your mind us being pussies. For sure it will be the toughest leg until know.

cheers,

Bouwe

 

March 1st, 2015

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