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Gunboat 60 sailing in Annapolis, MD.

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img_09102012AC34 Challenger of Record Artemis Racing has had a rough year of it; first losing Bart Simpson, then blowing some $100M of team owner Torborn Tornquist’s cash in what turned out to be the a completely uncompetitive bid for the America’s Cup and the weakest in the fleet.

Artemis boss Iain Percy has been busy building Tornquist’s team for AC35, with helmsman Nathan Outteridge signing up again and a design team rapidly coming together, but Russia’s military action in Ukraine may throw a wrench in Tornquist’s money machine if a Reuters report yesterday is a sign of things to come.

Reuters (via BusinessInsider) says that the US Government’s latest round of economic and travel sanctions names Gennady Timchenko (on the right in the image above), Tornquist’s partner and the co-founder of oil and gas business giant Gunvor, writing that “Timchenko’s activities in the energy sector have been directly linked to Putin” and that the Russian President “has investments in Gunvor and may have access to Gunvor funds.”  Timchenko’s US holdings are immediately subject to an asset freeze and the oligarch can no longer travel to the US or its territories, and he ‘sold’ his 44% stake in Gunvor yesterday to Tornquist to prevent the turmoil from effecting the monster company he built.

With Europe in strong solidarity with the US and Russia showing no signs of backing down from its occupation and annexation of Crimea (and making strong moves now in Latin America), could Tornquist be next, potentially losing the ability to sponsor his Cup team or even attend any US-based events?  Almost as importantly, the Russian annexation and its consequences certainly crush any hopes that Russian gas giant Gazprom had for getting their own Cup team off the ground this year.  That could kill two well-funded AC teams off before the Protocol for AC35 even hits the mailbox, and the rumored Russian ACWS venue negotiations are not going to go well.

Nice work, Vlad!

 

March 21st, 2014

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Anarchist BooBoo brings it like few others!

This pretty much sums up our Round North island 2 handed race on the PEPE. We cleaned up our division on both line and handicap with 3 doubles out of the 4 legs. Managed 5th overall but any hope of an overall podium finish was dismissed when the last 700nm of the race was upwind and it turned into a big boat race…. So we decided to hit the bottle and put the fishing lines out to go for the fishing trophy which is as big as the overall race win trophy!

The only downwind in the whole race was a short 10hr stint and we made the most of it sending it HARD and smoking the fleet.

 

March 20th, 2014

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This story could only come from two places – Fresno or Florida. Florida wins this round, but Fresno is never far behind.

You may have heard about meth labs being busted inside homes, trailers and apartments, but on Thursday, Volusia County deputies said they dismantled a meth lab in a sailboat.

Investigators said the boat was moored in the Intracoastal Waterway near Daytona Beach. A Volusia County task force and Daytona Beach police were tipped off about illegal activity taking place on boats in the area, investigators said.

Based on those leads, agents investigated a sailboat belonging to 50-year-old James Smith. Inside, they found a homemade generator used in making methamphetamine, along with other supplies. Smith was arrested and booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine. A woman on the boat was also arrested on an outstanding warrant, deputies said. More at Mynews13.

 

March 20th, 2014

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A close look at the Chinese VO65 Dongfeng, thanks to Shanghai Sailor

I know many words have been written already about the VO65 but I was lucky enough to spend a week with Dongfeng Race Team at their training base at Serenity Marina in Sanya, China.Although 5 feet shorter than the 70 and with less righting moment (referred to as tippy by at least one who has sailed her) the boat has already proven herself with a 500+ mile day on a delivery trip It has to be remembered that – in the words of the VOR CEO Knut Frostad when referring to the breakages of the last edition of the race “ thank god we had some drama…     …but masts shouldn’t fall down” so this boat is engineered to get round the course.

The oldest cliché in sport is perhaps that ‘to finish first, first you have to finish’ and that applies to both boat AND crew and some of those principles are evident in the design of the boat.

Starting at the back, and with apologies to Queen, she is a Fat Bottomed Girl  with powerful (and I am not being rude) buttock lines running to the stern. The rather slab sides sit on top of a chine that runs all the way to the bow  and she does appear to have a relatively narrow static waterline forward.

Looking round the cockpit there are several differences from her predecessor. The cockpit sides appear subtly higher than on many of the previous version boats but looking forward the most obvious change is the height and size of the coachroof designed to throw the water off to the sides to try and prevent the swimming pool effect that was so evident with the previous generation Volvo racers.

Above the pit area is a little blister which doesn’t only afford the pit man a bit more protection but also houses – or will house – a specially developed camera that will literally be right in the face of the crew as they go about their duties for it must never be forgotten that the VOR is a professional/commercial event and media coverage, even from the depths of the ocean is vital to ensure the sponsors Return on Investment (ROI). Nothing cynical in this statement, without the skills of the sports marketers the likes of the Volvo Ocean Race – and many other events in the sailing world – just wouldn’t happen.

as6The pit itself is split into 3 areas each with their own winch, central, port & starboard with so many control lines it would keep Rick Wakeman happy and in the shot of the port winch you can see the rather simple solution to SCA’s criticism that water rushes down the line tunnels and disappears straight down below to the cabin.  The addition of simple piece of sailcloth velcro’d in position solves the problem.

Moving back aft from the pit there are 3 grinders which, ladies team apart, are unlikely to see them all used at once other than the in-port races. This girl does not lack power. These couple to the winches of which there are just 8 on board. 3 for the pit area,  2 primaries, the main sheet – which is fed through a nicely engineered and molded guard which still allows a degree of access should the line twist(8) – and of course the all important runners to keep the mast pointing skywards.

The wheels are protected by almost agricultural looking crash guards/grab rails  which if the coachroof does its job as intended should just be something to hang on to but such is the attention to safety which takes us aft to the communications “tower” (10) enabling not only race communications but the by now well known ability to provide images – as they happen – from anywhere on the ocean. This structure also houses is a reverse angle camera with light and the (hopefully) never to be opened liferafts.

Moving forward to the mast which in the shot has yet to have the radar fitted, you can see the multi-configurations that can be used on the two sets of running backstays each with a set of deflectors to keep the stick in the air. The two appendages on the lower spreaders are 2 more cameras that can be panned and tilted which along with the others (including the one in the hands of the On Board Reporter) (OBR) will bring almost superbowl type coverage to the boat from even the deepest ocean.

Unusually for a race boat of the this size, the mast is deck stepped keeping the boat much drier down below as all the halyards exit above the deck,  into the tunnels and down to the pit. Also should a rig tumble down reducing the chance of damaging the integrity of the deck should such an event occur.

Moving onto the foredeck the first thing that strikes you are the two – what look almost like girders running the length of the foredeck.

I understand they do help the strength of the structure and also give a very secure foothold to the bow and mid bow people on a heeled boat but they primarily house the likes of the tack lines from the bowsprit taking away one more thing for someone to trip over on a dark Southern Ocean (or any ocean) night. Hydronamically, (and I am guessing here) I would imagine they also start the process of directing water away from – ultimately – the crew in the cockpit.

as 14That brings us to a busy bowsprit  and while I must admit I wouldn’t like to have to climb over that central pulpit bar on a dark night if I had to get out onto the bowsprit but that is certainly preferable to falling through a space if there wasn’t a bar there and if the designed reliability of these boats is as reported (and intended) it is not a trip a bowman is likely to have to make.

Moving down below, the unpainted carbon makes her very dark with all the accommodation  aft of the main bulkhead. All there appears to be is the spare rudder clamped to a beam. But turn the corner and there lies the beautiful clearcoat carbon head (if ever a head could be beautiful)  and it proves the keel isn’t the only thing that cants on a VO65. At least there is somewhere you can be comfortable on one of these things.

Moving back into the main area – saloon I suppose – there is a rudimentary galley but when the required catering is just as rudimentary, more than adequate for the job. One surprising thing missing is virtually any form of grab handle or even rope and as more than one person has proved it is more than possible to fall all the way from the high side while down below. This has already been raised with VOR and when I was on the boat such a modification was awaiting approval.

Moving aft, (and thanks to VOR for this shot) is the nav station and OBR hangout where the motion of the boat should be gentler and although there are some nice touches like the whole nav table that effectively tacks by swiveling round. In this shot you can just see the luxury padded chair (not) for the OBR when they are busy editing together the latest images that will be bounced off the satellite using  the dome a few feet above his head. Apparently being part of the brains trust doesn’t bring much in the way of comforts on a VO65.

as19One final element is the 4.7m deep canting keel, the keelbox for which you can see at the bottom of the picture of the galley above. Sanya Serenity marina not quite clear enough to see the whole keel but the top of the bulb is just visible.

So that’s the VO65 inside and out- top to bottom. A brute rather than beautiful perhaps but she appears extremely well thought out and well up to the task ahead.

About the time that you are reading this the guys from Dongfeng Race Team will be on their way to Auckland, perhaps the toughest and certainly longest test yet of this new design – what feedback I get, I hope to share.

I would just like to thank skipper Charles and Team Director Bruno for letting me wander (and wonder) at will around and over their lovely lady and I would wish them luck in the challenges ahead.

These are potentially greater than some other teams with Chinese sailor selection to be completed – these guys are good but lack deep ocean experience which the Auckland run will start to address; getting the crew to a required level of communication – not necessarily easy with French, English and Chinese being the natural team members’ languages but I am sure they will succeed, there is a determination about the team.

On the other side of the coin, the western sailors – and I await the green light from the team to reveal who they are – are all “high mileage” ocean racers with more than their fair share of ocean crossings and circumnavigations to their credit and with comments already having been made that these boats are big planning dinghies on steroids who’s to say that being a dinghy sailor on one of these is nothing but an advantage rather than the other way round.

Would I want a go on one of these? Well let me tell you – you wouldn’t have to ask twice! – Shanghai Sailor

 

March 20th, 2014

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It took us longer than we thought to get this up and we thank you for your patience, but it’s worth it; this hour-long Sailing Anarchy Innerview with Hugo Boss skipper Alex Thomson tells the secrets behind his mast walk stunt (and whether it was a stuntman who did the big dive) and gets into dozens of other subjects thanks to your excellent questions; Alex shares his plans for 2014 and the next Vendee Globe, tells us who has new boats coming in the IMOCA world, and gives us the low down on his Caribbean 600 race on a Beneteau 40.  You can grab audio only via your smartphone or browser here on the Mixcloud, or download an MP3 file for later listening here.

We highly recommend you check out the “Behind the Mastwalk” video here as well; it’s even better than the other one.

 

March 20th, 2014

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What’s in a name? Keith Magnussen on the TP 52 Destroyer creeping to Puerta Vallarta tells us..

Today was a good day (so far).  Woke up to a beautiful sunrise in front of us as we got close to breaking 100 NM’s.  Cruising along in 12 kts of breeze at 130twa with a polyester 1A (ask your local sail maker) that had a pretty ugly repair done in Acapulco after it was blown up there in a race.  Bruce Cooper and I were looking at it before we left and both had the same thoughts on it.. So there we were… going along redlining this thing since we did not have a 3A (weird right on a TP52) and Bruce asked me when I thought we should switch.

Well since we only had a 2A, plastic 5A and a 4A my answer was when God takes it down.. So 20 minutes later God took it down.  Ripped right at the head repair.  Finally some action! All hands on deck and a pretty good recovery.  With options limited we put up the plastic fractional 5A and off we go.  This is an interesting sail with a lot of load even in 13kts of breeze.  We are doing our targets so thats good.  Less than 50 miles to go and I am ready to be at the swim up bar.

Been a really fun trip at times and the whole crew is so nice and upbeat you can not help but enjoy it. Here we are

-KMAG

 

March 20th, 2014

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We’ve already explained how Rio’s Olympic sailing venue is literally full of crap.  Yesterday, our friends at Sailors For The Sea took aim at this nasty little problem; check out Tyson Bottenus’s take on it. 

Last December Alan Norregaard, a Bronze medalist from the 2012 London Olympics, was just barely edging out Nico Delle Karth for first place as he approached the windward mark in the 2nd race of the 2013 Intergalactic Championships in Guanabara Bay, a rather large protected bay outside of Rio de Janeiro.

And then disaster struck when his 49er shuddered to a halt. He and his crew watched helplessly as the entire fleet passed by. Backwinding their mainsail, they peered into the murky water to see what had happened and what they saw was both infuriating and outrageous: their 49er was stopped dead in the water by a large plastic bag wrapped around their centerboard, floating haphazardly in the bay.

“I have sailed around the world for 20 years and this is the most polluted place I’ve ever been,” Norregaard told reporters after the race. He isn’t the only one complaining. This February, the Irish Sailing Team put out a request for funding to bring a doctor with them to Rio de Janeiro to assess “potential health concerns posed by untreated sewage water.” Stories and anecdotes are cropping up of dead horse carcasses and mattresses floating along the racecourse.

“The sewage is visible and we have identified it as a significant health risk to our athletes,” said James O’Callaghan, ISA Performance Director, to the Irish Times this February.

In 2016, sailing teams from all over the world will descend upon Brazil to take part in the Summer Olympics. Individuals and teams from around the world have been training for most of their lives for their chance to earn a medal. The least that can be hoped for is clean waters to compete.

Human impacts dating back to the late 1880s were found by a team of researchers when they analyzed sediment samples from the bottom of Guanabara Bay. But when these researchers looked closely, they found a significant increase in heavy metals dating back to the 1950s – approximately when Rio’s population began increasing exponentially. From 1950 onward, Rio’s population has ballooned more than 400%.

The effects of this population growth can be seen. According to the Associated Press, nearly 70% of Rio’s sewage goes untreated. Guanabara Bay is also the center point of a complex river drainage basin. Over 50 rivers flow into the bay bringing the untreated sewage and any disposed waste dumped from the 14,000 industries, 14 oil terminals, 2 commercial ports, 32 dock yards, more than 1,000 oil stations and 2 refineries that surround the bay.

A little more than a third of the 13,000 tons of solid waste produced every day in the Rio de Janeiro area is ejected directly into Guanabara Bay where it’s expected to make its way out with the tide. (Haven’t we learned that the solution to pollution is not dilution?) More often than not however, the trash ends up on Rio’s beaches and enmeshed in the meager mangrove forests that are left along the coast.

On top of that, three major oil spills have left a dirty mark on Guanabara Bay. While entering the Sao Sebastiao terminal in Guanabara Bay in 1975, an oil tanker from Iraq ran aground and spilled 70,000 barrels of oil. At the time it was the worst oil spill to ever occur in Brazil.

Twenty years later the Brazilian refinery operator Petrobras reported that a leaking pipeline had spilled over five times that amount. This put an immense strain on fishermen and their livelihood on the bay. Three years later Petrobras again admitted fault in yet another oil spill, this time because they had failed to install modern sensors on their pipelines.

The result was utter devastation. Brazil experienced an economic downturn as Guanabara Bay’s fisheries collapsed, leaving fishermen to find other sources of income. Environmental groups were furious at the level of incompetency demonstrated by Petrobras as Greenpeace protested by leaving oil-soaked birds and by chaining themselves to the railings outside of Petrobras’s headquarters.

As of today, there are less than two years till the 2016 Olympics. Can Brazil clean up over a century of economic development in the blink of an eye?

The Olympic Games have long been derided from an environmental standpoint as an unsustainable event. Think about all the resources that go into making the Games happen. Stadiums need to be erected, ski slopes must be carved, vast quantities of bottled water need to be on hand. It’s safe to say that the relationship between sport and sustainability is not always the most harmonious.

But if Rio is serious about it’s commitment to cleaning up Guanabara Bay, then this commitment has the potential to change the relationship between sport and sailing. For the sailing to happen, change must happen alongside. Only time will tell what kind of legacy Rio 2016 will leave behind.

 

March 20th, 2014

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Sailing Anarchy was launched right around the time when the first Moth – Brett Burville’s surface-piercer – went flying.  As the Moth took over the world of ultra high-performance single handing, SA took over the sailing internet, and we’ve had a special relationship with the Moth ever since.  That explains our joy when we see just how incredibly strong the Moth is, with 2014 likely to mark the strongest year in the history of the foiling Moth.

This year’s North American circuit is well underway, with longtime SA’er and two-time World Champ Bora Gulari defending his National title this coming weekend against new US Sailing Team member Brad Funk and a fleet including Star Gold Medalist Freddy Loof, multiple keelboat world champ Anthony Kotoun, and all the rest of the adrenaline junkie crowd.  We’ll be there helping the US Class get photos, video, and news out via the US Moth Class Facebook Page this Friday to Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Moth Worlds at Hayling Island in the UK is about to set an all-time record for entries in a Moth WC – with 5 months to go until the event!  We Expect somewhere over 150 boats in Hayling including full teams from a number of America’s Cup campaigns – foils will be the key to the next Cup, and the smart designers and sailors know that, with the A-Class split over whether to go forward or backwards, there is only one singlehander that will let them hone their skills for the biggest trophy of them all.

Europe is heating up just as quickly, with the first Act of the EFG MothEuroCup taking place in Bordeaux, France soon. It’s the first of six awesome events held all over Europe, including the excellent Delta Lloyd Regatta in Holland in May, the Swiss and German Nationals, Traunsee Week in Austria and of course Europe’s best sailing spot in Lake Garda has to be on the calendar as well. In this second year edition of the MothEuroCup, EFG Bank has stepped up to the plate as the series Sponsor, offering more than € 13,000 in total prize money.

With EFG Bank supporting Stars, Vipers, Melges 24s, and now the Moth, we’re giving them a shout out; keep it up, bankers!  For a little video teaser of the Europcup, check this out on Vimeo.  Thierry Martinez photo from Hawaii.

 

March 20th, 2014

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long beach

Hey, who knew SoCal would be rocking the big tri’s. This pic is indeed in Long Beach and taken by Anarchist John happens to show the new Puerto Vallarta race record holder.

 

March 18th, 2014

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This month, Kevin Hall does a little comparison shopping. Brought to you by Mauri Pro Sailing

I’m going to run with the family theme again. My sabbatical from the Cup combined with the fact that my cherished wife, Amanda, works full time mean that I have been working in the home for the past few months. Phone bill. School lunches. Tennis pickup. New gymnastics leotard (too small oops). Homework. Getting a serve from the my son’s 3rd Grade teacher for not writing down which book he read. Groceries. Laundry (wash, and fold)…you get the picture.

I’ve always thought the phrase “preaching to the choir” was a little off. I mean, if the choir is busy singing like they’re supposed to be, they can’t hear you preaching, right? If this comes across as preachy, I apologize. Want I want to say is this: it is a lot harder than it looks.

Many of you will have read this somewhere. I had. Or maybe heard it from a mate. I had. Or even had a little glimmer of it when you took care of the kids for a whole weekend while she went to the spa with the girls. I had. None of that begins to shed actual light on the reality that when it’s you, day in, day out, trying to keep the wheels near the car after they’ve fallen off again, you finally come to appreciate just how good you had it when your biggest worry was having left the Medium in the chaseboat when the seabreeze really kicks in.

In fact, that little glimmer of light you think you have is far worse than no light. Those couple days give you the false impression that you can extrapolate from your fun daddy weekend: We went to the movies in our pajamas! We had pancakes for dinner! Daddy gave me a sip of his beer then we watched Star Wars!… Just stretch that out to a month instead of a weekend, and that’s what it would be like. Right? We might think being on duty for a long weekend provides legitimate insight into what it’s really like running the household. I thought it did until very recently. I can assure you that it doesn’t. So if you haven’t for a while, thank her. Don’t buy her roses though, she’ll wonder what you’ve done wrong.

I have had one small victory. For years I have been frustrated by the amount of my waking life I spend looking for the correct Tupperware top. When we moved back home to NZ two months ago, I claimed two entire drawers in the kitchen. The Tupperware now goes in those drawers assembled. Not nested with tops flat against the side of the drawer. Each little box all put together with its top on it. Yes, it takes up more space. But I’m into time efficiency now, anything which will provide a predictable sequence of events. The fact that I have to walk down the hall to get a pan doesn’t bother me. I can count on exactly how long that will take, and it’s always less time than it takes my six year old to tie her shoes.

Some days I’m on fire. Treat in the lunches, nail the afterschool snacks, remember the playdate, everything. Those are usually the same days the kids pull clumps of hair out of each others’ heads just before dinner.

If you’re on a big sailing team, there will be days you have done everything right in your particular role, and the race still doesn’t go well. I’m glad I knew about this before parenting. Not that I had so many days that I did things right out there. I did see firsthand how possible it was for it to seem everything was going OK but the wheels fell off or the bows went in anyway. It’s an odd kind of frustration. Could one or should one have tried to help one of his teammates with his bit?

I think this is where it gets quite tricky. There’s no right answer. People with high confidence, which is a big part of why they are there in the first place, are often at risk of inadvertently letting the ball in their own court drop while trying to help others keep their balls in the air. The teams with longer-standing, stronger cultures have feedback loops which help facilitate getting information around the place to provide the necessary support for the struggling members. Newer teams may not have those loops. Whether they are explicit or they happen by the espresso machine and in the bar, they are extremely important.

Maybe new guy just doesn’t realize that the stopper knots he keeps putting in the end of the kite sheets not only have to be taken back out, but they also set off the moody bowman for the whole day. Or maybe someone who has been doing pro gigs for years and should probably know by now but for whatever reason doesn’t, still leaves the rubbish loose in the cooler even though every day there’s a rubbish bag right there. Things like that.

If you’re in the wonderful and thrilling part of your career where this all sounds like an armchair has-been typing boring words, I envy you. Racing sailboats is a wonderful sport with unlimited room for learning and challenge. Don’t get too distracted by this stuff (although being the guy who tidies the cooler and always carries sails shouldn’t hurt your reputation). If some of it sounds familiar, look hard for ways to help spread the issues and the load around the team you’re on. I recon the good old fashion piss-up can provide far more measurable benefit to team performance than you might think. If you were needing an excuse to grab a second or fifth drink with your mates while she’s home holding the fort down, tell her you’re working.

Title inspiration thanks to Black Flag

March 18th, 2014

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Bringing a new product to market, especially a new sailboat, can be a time consuming, risky, expensive and sometimes futile, but with the new mxNext starting full production this week, we feel that it’s all been totally worthwhile. Since we started SpeedDream it’s been a fun and interesting ride. The sailing public seem genuinely interested in something new and completely different and this is borne out by the fact that we have already sold over a dozen mxNext’s, most of them sight unseen.

The SpeedDream concept is about putting more innovation and excitement into sailing. We are not saying that we are the only ones with good ideas, but we are forging a path that brings a new look and performance potential to boats of all sizes starting with the mxNext. The idea of a carbon fiber boat, very light and strong with a lot of sail area including a sizable asymmetrical spinnaker, and hiking wings to allow the sailor to get their weight as far outboard as possible, is pretty cool. The hiking wings combined with the swept back wave-piercing bow work well while giving the boat a very distinct look. All the sailors that have taken the mxNext out for a test sail have loved it.

Mark LeBlanc, the builder of the mxNext is a very talented composite manufacturer having built carbon masts for Ted van Dusen for years and was the builder of the mxNext predecessor, the mxRay, which almost twenty years ago became the first production single-handed skiff to carry an asymmetrical spinnaker. Mark has set up shop in New Hampshire, built the molds and is ready for the full production. He is able to produce two boats a week and will roll the first one off his production line this week.

Among other mxNext news – together with Extreme Sailing Series we are developing an interesting opportunity to race a small fleet of mxNext’s in Europe as part of their opening act, but at this point can’t say much more as the contracts are not signed yet. If you are intrigued by this opportunity please make direct contact and we will provide more information. Contact Brian Hancock at brian@brianhancock.org.

 

March 18th, 2014

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While the big bad trimarans ripped down the course on the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta race, with the MOD 70 Orion setting a record of 2 days, 8 hours, 33 minutes, the rest of the fleet is hitting a fair bit of light air. Here is the report from KMag on the TP 52 Destroyer…

It is Tuesday and it has been eventful to say the least.  After a respectable start we started losing ground fast.  So I started going through the motions of why we were so off the pace.  Backed the boat down twice (we are one of the only ones without a kelp cutter) and then we started getting a vibration that reminded me of Transpac on the 125….  Not again I am thinking.  So we talk about what could be wrong.. all the time going slow.  The wind came up last night and the vibration got really bad.  in 20kts of wind I was struggling to break free and barely hitting 17 for a top speed.

Fast forward to today and we are lazily sailing in 7kts of wind.  I had had enough… Time for GoPro.  And to my horror what do I see?  Something that looks like a 20ft piece of rope hanging off the keel!  So time to stop the boat and investigate.  Sails down and Squezy (Eduardo Jr) goes in the water for some action (we have good video of this).  He comes up with a massive piece of kelp that was wrapped around the keel.  Shit!  Well at least we are clean now!

Now we have the 2A up and a pretty good angle and still in the game to some extent (have to stay positive out here).  It always seems to be something.. but hey that’s what offshore sailing is all about right? Track the fleet here.

Keith Magnussen

 

March 18th, 2014

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The Melges 32 2014 sailing season has arrived, and the class seems to have begun its rebound from the record low turnout this winter and a cancelled Gold Cup last fall. Video stud and reigning world champ mastman Petey Crawford checks in:

With head ARGOnaut Jason Carroll taking the reigns as Class President it’s a strong bet that the fleet will again find the golden fleece. Miami is host to the spring event in a few short weeks time as well as hosting the Gold Cup and the World Championship later in the year, and 3 more Melges 32 sanctioned regattas take place this summer in Newport including the US National Championship. With new blood in the fleet and some familiar faces from years past, it appears that the 32 class isn’t ready to lay down just yet. Still feeling the effects of my  car vs. bike episode in Key West earlier this year, I sat out the Miami Winter regatta and produced the first of what will be a series of videos targeted to keep stoking the flames. Stay tuned.

 

March 18th, 2014

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Soma Bow

Thanks to a European feel, long, reach courses, and the most festival atmosphere of any regatta, the Heineken continues to be one of the only regattas in this hemisphere to attract a vibrant big-boat multihull racing scene. Nils Erickson’s quick M&M Formula 40 cat Soma has owned that scene over the past few years, and he checks in with the best race report we’ve seen in a long time.  We’re not sure if Soma is still doing charters as her website advertises, but if you ever have a chance to get aboard, jump on it.  Top shot from YachtShots, the rest from Soma’s co-owner Meredith and Gunboat crew Jamie.

I learned an old German proverb a few years ago that I think applies to multihull racing in general, and this year’s Heineken Regatta in particular: “A smart horse jumps only as high as it has to”. If you remember the first season of the Extreme 40 class not a single boat flipped. By year two, a handful. Nowadays it seems like a boat flips every race. On a racing multihull you’d better be ready to press harder than your competitor and peer over the edge into the abyss we call the ”mineshaft” if you want to win. Just don’t go further than you have to, or you’ll be that dumb horse.

This year’s Heineken Regatta in St Martin saw the best, most modern assembly of multihulls in its history. The five Gunboats entered have (rightfully) gotten lots of love and press with their stories from Multihull Racing 1, but in addition to them were another 24 multis in 3 other classes. In Multihull 2 we had a Seacart 26, a sexy new Toro 34, a wicked fast Open 40, and perennial attendee and threat Carib Cat. We rounded out the fleet on our 30-yr old Formula 40 catamaran, Soma.

Not only was the list of boats formidable, but there were some industry bigwigs in attendance. Out of the blue, two weeks before the event, we got an email from Gino Morelli asking what it’d take to get an invite to sail on Soma. I doubt anyone doesn’t recognize the name, but Gino is the designer and builder of Soma, as well as, um, sum lesser-known boats like the first generation Gunboats (48, 62, 66, 90), Playstation, Stars and Stripes ’88, Alinghi and those quick little AC72s ETNZ and Luna Rossa/Prada.  Why one of the greatest designers in the history of sailing would want to slum it with a bunch of rank amateurs like us was beyond me, but it was an honor we couldn’t refuse. He was Soma’s Dad, and we’ve just been borrowing her.

We gave Gino his choice of jobs aboard and were happy to have his expertise on the mainsheet. Also sailing with us was multihull guru Torbjorn Linderson (ex-Marstrom, currently Future Fibres). Calle Hennix, owner of Seacart was racing his Seacart 26, Gunboat company owner Peter Johnstone was back on his 1st Gunboat, Tribe (GB6201). Designer David McCullough was racing on Slim (GB6606), multihull legend and the sailmaker for Soma and just about every fast multihull in attendance Paul “Whirly” Van Dyke was on Tigerlily (GB6603). Elvis/Team Argo (GB6204) had more collective world championships aboard than the rest of the 215-boat fleet combined. This wasn’t the usual collection of rum drunk Caribbean sailors like us on Team Soma. We needed to come correct.

The first day’s race was the Around the Island Race. There’s something pure about an around the island race.  No handicap squabbles, no BS, first to finish. That’s been our trophy 8 out of 9 years and we had no intention of letting it slip away this year. Conditions were on the high side of what’s comfortable on Soma with a puffy 18-22, and big gusts in the low 30s. Full main weather, but marginal in the puffs. The Gunboats had the first start in the 215-boat fleet; we followed 5 minutes later. After a short mile-long beat to weather we turned downwind for a run to the west tip of the island, Basse Terre. We had piled bodies at the back of the boat trying to keep her nose out of the water, and the wind was nuking. We were quickly reeling in the frontrunners Coco De Mer and Elvis. Just as we evened up with Coco we had our first HARD stuff, both bows digging in and the rudders coming out of the water. Torbjorn, the giant 105 kilo Swedish mast designer, was launched from the aft beam right through our tiller cross bar, breaking it like a finish line tape. The boat came crashing back down suddenly. In full-power, downwind conditions I only had the use of the weather rudder. I jumped to leeward and drove off the leeward rudder/tiller that was more likely to stay in the water as the crew scrambled to effect a repair. We used every scrap piece of spectra aboard and lashed a boat hook to the cross bar as a splint. I had a sinking feeling we wouldn’t last the race. “Are we pushing too hard?” I wondered. We got back on the throttle and began the upwind leg past Marigot. Conditions were great, flat water and reasonably steady wind.

Sprit CrushThe course takes the fleet into the full brunt of the Atlantic as you head up around the NE corner of the island, past the offshore island Tintimarre, and down the East coast to Phillipsburg. Seas and breeze were up, with ESE winds above 20 knots and gusting much higher. We had pulled one daggerboard up on our last tack to the weather mark, then cracked sheets and began the hot reach down the lumpy east coast of the island. We tried to crank up the weather daggerboard while barreling along at 25-28 knots but it didn’t want to budge. We blew up the uphaul line, then hurried to get a halyard to the top of the board to try to get it up. In the meantime my wife was sharing driving duties with me, getting blasted by spray sitting to leeward supporting the splinted tiller cross arm and following my lead on helm. The trimmers were ready to blow sheets at a moment’s notice in the marginal conditions, while our “floaters” were working on getting the board up. There was a LOUD crack and without looking I knew it was the daggerboard. I turned and, sure enough, saw the bottom half of our board roiling out of our wake. That sinking feeling again; we were snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and it was getting really expensive. I pushed those feelings away. We stacked bodies aft and pressed on. A steep sea was running, making the just-past-beam reach difficult in full power. If we sailed the course to the corner of the island we’d bury a bow and be upside down for sure. If we heated a touch we’d get fully airborne launching off the waves. If we dove deep we’d end up on the beach at Orient. We’d commit high for a mile or two (so we could shed power), then dive deep and soak down to the route, and repeat. We were living, but it was hairy.

At the end of the reach we met the current running around the S tip of the island and the waves got steeper. We had stuffed the bows several times already, but she had popped up unscathed each time. One mile from the finish we had our hardest nose dive yet, parking the boat, burying the bows to the main cross beam, and totally submerging our 22’ sprit. The sprit snapped just aft of the jib tack attachment. Both our furled code zero and screecher and half our sprit were underwater. The drag at the bow wanted to heat us up into the death zone and wanted to pull the bow under. The jib tack was 5’ in the air and to leeward. It was mayhem. I dove deep trying to depower. We pulled and yanked but nothing we did could get the sprit and sails out of the water. We turned head to wind, got the main off the lock, dropped the main, and began floating haphazardly in the vague direction of the finish line. We cut all the spectra lashings holding the sprit on and recovered the broken pieces. After 15 minutes of damage control we lifted our heads to see 2nd place Elvis sail around us. That was it. The trophy would be lost. The regatta would be lost. That sinking feeling was here to stay. A black pit in our stomach, we had gotten too close to the edge. Not only was the weekend going to be a total waste (the flights, hotels, effort to get to the start line), we had done thousands of $$$ in damage. Keep in mind, Soma is paid for on professional boat crew’s wages. My wife and I aren’t wealthy, we don’t have trust funds, and we just sank all of our money into buying our first house on a nearby island. She looked at me with tears brimming her eyes. We do this because we love it. The name Soma is a drug reference, it’s means the perfect drug, in this case the high you get from sailing fast. It’s an expensive addiction, and luckily my wife shares the addiction. This time the addiction got the better of us.

Just as we contemplated starting the motor and leaving in defeat, someone shouted out that Elvis had started 5 minutes ahead of us, and they were only a few hundred yards ahead of us with ½ mile to the finish. There was a chance! We dragged the main up 1/3 of the way, holding the leech away from the shrouds and limped across the finish line doing 10 knots. We later learned we finished 3m30s behind Elvis, but pulled off the fastest elapsed time by a mere 1m30s. We were elated. The weekend may be lost, but the Around the Island trophy would be ours!

Late Night Carbon PartyWe returned to the dock thrilled about our elapsed time win but dejected about the reality of our breakages. To add insult to injury, our French competitors protested us about our rating. Our rules adviser/tactician Jim Ryan and I went off to the yacht club to defend our name in the protest room. Waiting for the protest we learned that we had taken 1st on corrected despite the disasters on the water. Suddenly defeat didn’t seem inevitable. I rushed back to the boat to see if anyone was up for a late night. Gino, Chris Curreri, and Chris Hanson were a step ahead of me. While Jim and I had gotten the protest thrown out they had scrounged materials for a repair. The Gunboat crews had graciously offered tools, materials, shop space, expertise, whatever we’d need. We had a pizza party in the parking lot as the wives and girlfriends cut carbon and peel ply and mixed epoxy, the boys took a grinder to the carbon sprit and laminated a repair. Gino pitched in ‘til the very end and we walked away at 1:30 AM with hopes of sailing again.

At 5:30 AM we were back at the boat groggy and tired for a final hot-mixed layup. We bolted her back together, shoved the broken stump of a daggerboard down as far as we dared (and past Gino’s recommendations) and limped out of the bridge for race 2. We managed a 1st on day 2, a downwind course that avoided our weak point of too little daggerboard. Day 3 turned into a lottery. A short beat, a long run, then a big rain cloud that sucked out all of the wind. We saw the big brains on Elvis chase the gradient to the south, and watched as Highland Fling and Peter Holmberg found the same escape route. We followed, found some breeze, and secured a comfortable 1st for the 3rd day in a row to win Multihull 2.

Looking back, this was probably our best Heineken yet. No despite of the breakages, but because of. We went through hell and high tide. Our “shore crew” of friends, wives, and girlfriends (Sasha, Tara, Jill, Mindy, Jamie, Matt), the Gunboat crews that helped (especially Elvis), Gino’s expertise, advice, and good humor. What breakages? All we’ll remember are the good times and great people.

daggerboard recoveryIn hindsight, we probably drove the boat a little too hard day one. Alright, maybe a lot too hard. As we learned, a smart horse jumps only as high as it has to. I guess that makes me a dumb horse. Good name for a boat, that. Hmmm….

Epilogue: The Tuesday after racing my wife and I were motoring in glass calm conditions from St. Martin to Virgin Gorda aboard the Gunboat 62 we work on. She called out, “look, a shark, err, wait, no, a log, wait, no, our FRIGGIN’ daggerboard!” That’s right, 4 days later and 15 miles to leeward we almost ran over our stump of a daggerboard. We recovered it, but I doubt it can be fixed. Maybe we’ll make a bench out of it for our new house. Our first piece of furniture. Life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

 

March 18th, 2014

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AerialWindFarm_fullCoal and petcoke billionaire Bill Koch may have finally lost the last battle in his NIMBY war against the Cape Wind project that he and the ‘environmental group’ he founded has been fighting for more than a decade to keep off Nantucket Sound.  Koch, who admitted to Commonwealth Magazine last year that his problem with the 138-turbine wind farm was that it would “interfere with the aesthetics” of his home and the family compound he’s creating (and who also complained that his power bill might go up), has spent several million dollars in an attempted war of attrition against Cape Wind that likely ended this past Monday with a decision from US District Court Judge Reggie Walton.  The judge upheld the Department of Interior’s review of the process, rejecting a laundry list of pseudoscientific claims propounded by Koch’s group, and paving the way for the project to secure the financing it needs to go forward this year.

The whole case is fascinating and is a great lesson in what’s broken with America; even with no valid claim, truth, or science on their side, the ultra-wealthy can ruin almost anything or anyone.  Kudos to Cape Wind CEO Jim Gordon for having a massive set of nuts and sticking to his guns, something that even Koch is amazed with.  As the billionaire told Commonwealth, “Christ, this has been delayed for 10 years and any rational guy would have said there’s a time value of money and say, ‘Why am I doing this?”  At least Koch is clear about his part: To Koch, it seems that owning a palatial mansion on the water gives him the right to prevent anything from changing his view, right up to the point where rising sea levels and increasingly intense storms wash the whole mess into the sea.  Don’t count Koch out just yet though – this is, after all, the guy who went to war against his own family for more than a decade.

 

March 18th, 2014

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1905. Photographer: William J Hall. ANMM Collection

William Hall Photo, 1905. ANMM Collection.

Sydneysider Russell Debney stumbled across this lyrical explanation of the enduring, historical rivalry between the man at the bow and the bloke holding the tiller, and we knew we had to share it with you.  Meanwwhile, the massively dominant JJ winner Gotta Love It 7 could only manage a 7th in last weekend’s race, won by Rag & Famish with Cocko (Thurlow Fisher) a minute behind.  Full race videos are here.

 

“Let go that Jib” e’ yells. Now I should know

The way an eighteen footer ought to go.

“W’y don’t you ease ‘er ‘ead in them ‘ard squals?

W’y don’t you this? W’y don’t you that?” ‘e bawls.

 

Now I been in the eighteens sind a lad

I follerd in the footsteps of me Dad,

Who sailed with Ellis, Robbo and Chris Webb

I know the ‘arbour, both in flood and ebb.

 

I work the eighteen right in the breeze

By knowin’ w’en to ‘old and w’en to ease,

While that mug lair, our skipper, squats down aft,

Just frozen still at every fluky draught.

 

“You’ll ‘ave us in the drink!” he bellyaches

But ‘e’s just coverin’ ‘is own mistakes.

A catspaw snaking down of Bradley’s ‘Ead,

Strikes terror in ‘is ‘eart, til it’s like lead.

 

To sail our boat you’ve got to know just ‘ow

She likes ‘er ‘eadsail pinnin’ down the bow.

If I go payin’ out the bloody sheet,

She gripes – and shivers in the wind a treat.

 

I’ve got to nail ‘e down, or she won’t sail,

But all I gets from Muggins is a wail:

“You’d think you got a grey nurse on that line.

You’ll swim the mob and think you’re doin’ fine!”

 

But whats the use of tryin’ to explain?

E would’nt understand, though its quite plain

That is ‘e simply steers, and ‘olds his bib,

We’re in the money with me on this jib.”

 

March 18th, 2014

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Martine Grael Wins 49er FX in Palma

Check out the moves from Martine Suffiatti-Grael, daughter of Brazil’s ultimate rock star sailor Torben Grael as she takes her first Sailor Chick of the Week award!  The young Brazilian, with Kahena Kunze on the front, took the win yesterday by over 30 points as the Arenal Training Camp Trophy wrapped up in Palma.  This event – the prelude to the Pricess Sofia Olympic Class event – has exploded in popularity recently despite a tiny budget, pulling a strong mix of next week’s World Cup competitors and young sailors who want to share the same line.  The US team didn’t enter, though after Miami we have high hopes for them at next week’s event, and French and British sailors dominated the event with Spain taking some scalps as well, most notably in the 30-boat Nacra 17 class.  Full results here.

In other Palma news, the World Cup re-branding continues to prove how incompetent ISAF can be, with costs continuing to explode, still more format changes for seemingly every event, and dismal worldwide interest except in a few sailing-crazed nations.  To make matters worse, most of the live coverage from Palma promised to the public is now gone along with title sponsor MAPFRE; the Spanish company chose to spend their millions on a new Volvo Ocean Race campaign rather than throwing good money after bad on a dinghy regatta with a comparatively tiny ROI.   This is the last year of the Palma event’s contract with sailing’s international overlords, and if the island still has to come up with the money that ISAF wants to remain part of the ‘World Cup” for 2015, our sources tell us the awesome Mediterranean venue will be out of the running.  Frankly, as great a venue and event as the Palma regatta is, we’d be surprised if the event isn’t just as big without ISAF as it is with them.

Thanks to one of Europe’s best sailing photographers - Spain’s Jesùs Renedo - for the shot of the wonderful Martine, and get over to her campaign’s Facebook page for more info.

 

March 17th, 2014

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As long as Gunboat doesn’t get bored of spending money on creative video teams like Rachel and Richard, we promise we won’t get bored of watching them.  This one’s a fun look at Jason Carroll’s Gunboat 62 Elvis at the Heineken.  Title shout to Mojo Nixon; listen to the ultimate Elvis tribute in their 80′s punk classic here.

 

March 17th, 2014

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We just learned that longtime dinghy and sport boat sailor and early SA’er Scott Fox pled guilty last month to Fraud and Tax Evasion charges in an ongoing Maine scheme that would make Wall Street proud.  According to the DOJ, “Fox used his position as a loan officer at Casco Northern Bank and at its successor, KeyBank, to originate or authorize over $14,000,000 in fraudulent loans and lines of credit using the identities of four real individuals, without their knowledge or consent. He used over $5,800,000 of the fraudulent proceeds to keep the loans current and prevent the detection of his scheme. He used almost $8,200,000 for personal expenses including to pay for his children’s educations and family vacations, and to support his business, “The Boathouse.” Fox failed to report receiving any of this income to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) causing a tax loss of over $1,300,000 between 2006 and 2011.“ Fox also bought a home and paid to support a mistress on his ill-gotten gains.

While he’s been ordered to pay restitution to the bank and IRS, with his sentence likely to be at least 8-10 years in Federal prison (no parole), the reality is that Fox’s debt is a write-off.  The terms of his plea agreement don’t include a sentence so Fox could actually see the full 30 year maximum, though he’s entitled to appeal anything over about 12 years on the terms of the deal.

The US Attorney’s narrative on the scheme is here, and it’s a fascinating look at just how far one man can go to keep all the balls in the air.  There’s a thread about it here.

 

March 17th, 2014

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Sodebo Ultime Trimaran (ex Geronimo)

At 111 feet long and 72 feet wide, the old VPLP Gerononimo was a groundbreaking racer in many ways. When Olivier De Kersauson launched her back in 2001, record breakers like Fossett and Peyron and Lewis were positive that giant catamarans were just better, and they’d proven it so clearly that many thought De Kersauson a nutter for risking so much on a boat that clearly couldn’t accomplish anything.  But 100,000 mostly trouble-free miles and a Jules Verne (and several other) major records later, the boat’s clear advantages – safety, ability to be driven hard, motion, upwindedness – emphatically ended the era of the maxi-catamaran.  Geronimo would become the basis for the most dominant record runners ever, as well as the boat that took the America’s Cup back from Alinghi: Franck Cammas’ (and now Armel Le Cle’ach’s) monstrous Groupama 2/BP6, Pascal Bidegorry’s (and then Loick Peyron, and now Yann and Dona’s) BP5/Spindrift 2, and the BMW Oracle Racing 90 all came out of VPLP’s computers and all owe their heritage heavily and directly to Geronimo.

This history lesson may bore some, but to us, ocean racing is all about history and legend, and that’s why we share it with you.  And with 2014/15 seeing Thomas Coville rebuilding, refitting, repowering, and restoring Geronimo for his own Route Du Rhum, record aspirations, and Ultime solo 100+ footer class racing, we can’t wait to see history come roaring to life again on the starting line.  Coville was just a kid when he first began racing with De Kersauson, and the brilliant Frenchman has now been part of most of the last decade’s Jules Verne Trophy runs as well as a Volvo Ocean Race victory.  His narrow Nigel Irens Sodebo trimaran came tantalizingly close to claiming the Solo RTW record, but it’s clear that Coville has given up on that concept in favor of the heavier and far more powerful Geronimo.  Above is an Yvan Zedda shot of the boat as her refit moves ahead quickly at Multiplast’s yard; go here for a full gallery, here for a thread about the boat, and here for discussion on November’s Route Du Rhum.

 

 

 

March 17th, 2014

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