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They say it is not over until the fat lady sings! Perhaps it would be more accurate if the statement was “it is not over until the fat lady stops singing”.

Having rounded ‘The Rock’ in 1st and with a comfortable (for this fleet) lead Dongfeng stood on further south for (presumably) faster angles but Mapfre sailing a shorter distance, took the lead back and there they remained until we woke in China with 30 miles to Plymouth and a resurgent Dongfeng hunting them down.

As I started writing this article the fleet were heading towards the finish line where VOR CEO Mark Turner and CNN’s Shirley Robertson were reportedly waiting in a RIB – in the middle of the night, now that’s dedication.

Barely had I started typing than the tracker’s latest update showed DFRT had clawed back Mapfre’s lead then typing had to stop as the Chinese boat sailed more southerly than came up on Mapfre just in front.

Edge of seat stuff with Charles’s crew edging over the finish line a mere 56 seconds in front of Xabi and his guys. That’s Mapfre pictured left, following behind the white masthead light on Dong Feng to the finish.

Two places to be in the lead in The Fastnet Race – at the Rock and, of course, at the finish. A useful psychological double for the Chinese team.

It was almost too easy with the almost match race between these two to forget there were others in the race, but of course there were, most with their own pieces of glory.

Brunel, perhaps the third of the ‘favourites’ triumvirate crossed next with Simeon Tienpont bring in Akzonobel in 4th all almost within the time it took to draw a couple of breaths, grab a fresh cup of coffee and get back to the keyboard. Akzonobel must be pleased with their race as they took it to the top three, particularly in the early part of the race and showed this team has some excellent pace, especially upwind although their downwind speed let then down a little. Of course as they become more familiar with the correct polars, sail selections and angles they are likely to become more of a force as the race approaches.

That is not forgetting Brunel with Skipper Bekking having unfinished business. This quiet professional brings more to this edition of the Volvo than any other and is living evidence of the expression that when the going gets tough….. and this wasn’t exactly the toughest Fastnet ever from a weather point of view.

Further down the fleet Vestas led the rear-guard with the 8 man Scallywag in second from last spot and Dee Caffari’s 10 person team perhaps unsurprisingly in last place with the crew only being formed in the last few weeks, in fact if I understand correctly not all even confirmed as yet. Even so Turn the Tide on Plastic at times showed remarkable boatspeed in this race and although last in class in THIS Fastnet she has been less than 2% off the pace overall.

So now the fat lady can shut up!

At this rate it is going to be a very long 9 months staring on October 22nd in Alicante.

Better get the strong coffee and heart pills on order now guys.

Shanghai Sailor

 

August 8th, 2017

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If you’ve got drugs aboard and are having battery issues on your boat, maybe you shouldn’t call the Coast Guard for help.

That’s what happened in San Diego on Sunday morning, leading to the seizure of 1,200 pounds of marijuana, the US Coast Guard said Tuesday.

The distress call came in over the radio to the Coast Guard from a person on the boat, who said they were having battery trouble. When members of the Coast Guard Cutter Sea Otter arrived to the boat, located southwest of Point Loma, they discovered more than an issue with a battery.

Around 50 bundles of weed, weighing 1,200 pounds, were discovered during the inspection of the boat, the Coast Guard said. Read on.

Nice work, dumbshits! – ed

 

August 8th, 2017

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Blair Tuke made all the local papers when he signed up with MAPFRE last month with taglines like “Tuke Aims At First Triple Crown.”  John Kostecki famously became the first – and only – sailor to hold the distinction of winning a Whitbread/VOR, Olympic medal, and the America’s Cup, but since JK’s medal was only silver, it left things open for Tuke to be the first to get the “Real” crown – the golden one.

The pin-up looking Olympian may be fighting for it against a familiar face, with Pete Burling looking for all the world like he’s the latest addition to Bouwe Bekking’s Brunel entry in the Volvo.  There have been rumors of Burling looking for a big deal from one of the teams for a while now, and Bekking knows the importance of fast drivers more than perhaps anyone who’s done this race. This pic from before the Fastnet popping up in the forums doesn’t seal the deal, but the fact that Bouwe hasn’t been returning calls lately makes us think the Burling announcement is imminent.

Rumors continue to swirl about NZL 49er FX standouts Alex Maloney and Molly Meech joining another Volvo team, but whether it’s the long-awaited Team 8 (perhaps a Kiwi-ish effort under the management of Craig Monk) or they do part-time duty for an already-entered while training to improve on their Olympic Silver we do not yet know.  One great skiff driver and one giant of an athlete…both under 30…why wouldn’t you?

Talk it up in the VOR thread.

August 8th, 2017

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The RNZYS is taking their Coutts housecleaning seriously, with the entire America’s Cup Facebook page disappearing overnight and being replaced with a brand new one.  The Americascup.com domain has been scrubbed too, replaced with an online store to sell all the laundry left over from AC35, and the AC App finally died the death it should have faced long ago.

What’s in store for fans of the America’s Cup?  We’re not sure yet, but a great way to show the world they’re serious about embracing the fans would be to upload the entire library of qualifiers, playoffs, and AC 35 races to Youtube immediately, making the long-restricted races available to the world for free.

 

August 8th, 2017

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Who knew Dennis Conner had a podcast? Love him or hate him, we’re glad to see his voice out there in public.

Listen to him beat up on Bermuda, Russell Coutts, nationality rules, and kids on his lawn in this half hour episode of whatever the hell he’s calling it.

August 7th, 2017

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Yes, the McConaghy 38 was entered in the BBR by the Massachussetts Maritime Academy.

No, they weren’t racing.

Yes, they should know better, even if they are inexperienced (and judging by their results…)

August 7th, 2017

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We don’t know yet whether Mudratz grommet Peter Cronin has what it takes to be an all-star professional racing crew, but we’re quite sure he’s already got what it takes to be the youngest On-Board Reporter in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race when the next race starts in 3 years.  We’ve been following Peter for a while now – Clean actually spoke to him last year for the SA Podcast during the Mudratz’ youth Melges 24 campaign – and he just continues to impress everyone with his energy and ability to share his experiences with the wider community.  Huge thanks to our Boatyard pals Bicey, Rodrigo, and Amalia for taking time out of their busy schedules to help fire up the next generation, and for understanding just how important that is.  Got teens? Share this with them.

You don’t have to be an old man to look back and reflect on your life, and I guess I’m lucky to have some wild examples of how seemingly unrelated experiences, chance encounters and everyday life events can come together over time, leading to opportunities one could never had imagined or even dreamt of. I am 17, and in 2 short years I have been fortunate to live a dream.

In March of 2017, after my grandfather’s passing, I learned I would be traveling with my grandmother to Portugal to spend a few days in the countryside and Lisbon. I would then travel to the UK for a few days, and end the trip by sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on the Queen Mary 2. It was to be a memorial trip, a trip that they had been planning for years; a trip he sadly would never take.

There are aspects of this vacation that any traveler would fall in love with: The blue water of Cascais, Portugal; the vineyards that seem to go on forever in the rolling hills to the North; the walled city of Obidos; or perhaps the area of Nazare, home of the biggest wave ever surfed. Yet when I was told we would be spending 4 days in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, only one thing came to my mind. Not the awesome restaurants, the 12th century buildings or the 21st century shops — but the fact that it was the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) Headquarters. I knew that I had to break away from my family and somehow make my way into the Volvo HQ, even if just to look through the locked fences.

Two days before I left for Lisbon, my skipper Zach and I sailed our third Secor Volvo Fishers Island Sound race. We were sailing to defend our last two victories, but on the last race of the last day, we lost our grip on the lead we’d held throughout the regatta. I was commiserating with one of our biggest supporters – Sailing Anarchy’s Alan Block – and talking about writing an article on the race, and I wasn’t quite sure what he planned when he asked me what my schedule was in Lisbon, and if I thought I could escape the family for a day.

A day and a few texts later and I had an invitation from VOR communications boss Rodrigo Rico to come and check out The Boatyard!

It seems like ages ago when, as a 15 year old during the 2015 stopover I fell completely in love with the Volvo Ocean Race. As a young sailor, as part of our sailing club the MudRatz, I had been lucky enough to get a tour of parts of the VOR race village, meet members of the crew from Team Alvimedica and sail on an M32 catamaran. I was able to manage 3 visits to the village during that stopover, and my love of the race has only grown in the years since. The idea of getting a personal tour of the race HQ was a dream come true. Actually, it was beyond any of the dreams I had!

The days leading up to my visit to the boatyard were spent touring Portugal, but my mind stayed focused on one thing: The Boatyard. When I met Rodrigo and began learning about the Boatyard operations, my idea of “one design” was completely redrawn. While I understand the importance of the boats being identical, when Rodrigo explained the processes by which a hull was refitted and put back together, it blew my mind. He explained that for all eight boats, the same person would do the same job for each boat to ensure that there were no discrepancies between them.

For the past year, the VOR boatyard has been busy refitting the boats for the upcoming start. Rodrigo walked me through the stations of the boatyard where specific steps for each boat were completed. He explained to me that there were three steps that were completed indoors before the boat was ready to be set on its keel. Upon arriving in Lisbon, the boat was sent to stage one where the entire hull was taken apart and every single piece of equipment was logged. From gears in the winch pedestals, to bolts in the engine, every single part of the boat was recorded to perfect duplication between the boats. Furthermore, every inch of the hull and all the parts of the boat were examined with ultrasound to make sure there were no structural weaknesses.

After completing the first stage, the hulls were put back together and sent to stage two. First the hulls (including the centerboards) were sanded and washed, with the same pair of men that have sanded every other boat in the Volvo fleet working together, plank sanding the entire hull. By using the same people for the same job there is no doubt each boat is 100% identical and no one boat is faster than the other. After the boards were completed and the hull smoothed, the boats moved onto the third and final stage that was completed indoors.

Here, in stage three, the cosmetics of each ship were born. Rodrigo walked me into what looked like a run of the mill storage container but, upon opening the doors, I was amazed to see a fully automated paint mixing machine and the shelves fully stocked with paint. Because carbon fiber can be damaged when exposed to prolonged periods of UV, no carbon can be left uncovered. By having a fully automated paint mixing station, they can customize paint colors in quantities as small as a pint – this allows for minimal waste and exact duplication of colors. After the paint is mixed, the same team that has painted all the boats before, gets to work in covering each square inch of exposed carbon on the deck. After a strict inspection of the boat is completed, the boat moves out of the protection of buildings into the light of day, where fitting of its keel, mast, and communications tower began.

Because all of the boats had already been through these stages, there was no action in those areas of the boatyard, but the Sail Loft sure was busy. The first thing that caught my eyes were a stack of battens – in my experience, a little fiberglass stick perfect for giving splinters or dropping overboard before a regatta. I laid my hands on a batten that was easily 10 feet long and made purely of carbon fiber. As if that wasn’t enough to get my mind spinning, laid out in front of me was the largest sail I had ever seen. The square top alone may have been longer than an entire 420, and the main is nearly 100 feet tall! Covered in baby powder to protect it from moisture, the sail of team Turn the Tide on Plastic was getting its custom designed paint job. I knew that these sails needed to be made rugged, as they were about to go some 35+ thousand miles around the earth and experience unimaginable loads, yet the sheer strength and ruggedness I could feel in the sails was more like some kind of steel than any fabric I knew. I wish I could have seen an A3… Of course, that wasn’t nearly as mind blowing as getting to meet Dee Caffari, skipper of Team Turn the Tide on Plastic, when she came in to inspect progress on her sails.

As if the day couldn’t have gotten any better, Rodrigo took me somewhere I had only ever dreamt of being. Though four of the eight boats were scattered around the world, the other four were staying in Lisbon. Two were out practicing, team Turn the Tide on Plastic sat in the dock, and the last boat to reveal its team was on dry land towering nearly 20 feet in the air as it sat on its bunkers, awaiting its wrap. Rodrigo took me out of the sail loft and we began making a beeline towards the hull.

It isn’t too often that I find myself at a loss for words, but this surely was one of those times. I had just stepped on board a Volvo 65S, one of the boats that will be sailing in 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. As Rodrigo took me through the vessel, I felt like a kid in a candy store. From the hydraulic rams which control the canting keel, to the joystick for the remote controlled on-deck cameras, to the massive steering wheel, I just couldn’t take it all in at once. As we continued to go through the boat, I learned about the intricacies of systems I only had vague knowledge of: the desalinators, camera controllers, hydraulic systems and state of the art electronics. I got to feel firsthand how cramped everything is below decks, and I can only imagine how tough the conditions really can be, underway in the most challenging ocean race conditions…though that still doesn’t stop me from dreaming that one day I’ll be racing on a Volvo Ocean Race boat!

The next time I come in contact with the Volvo boats will be in the spring of 2018 in Newport, and it can’t come soon enough. I’m excited to watch the race and I know I will see it from a different perspective based on everything I learned at the Volvo Boatyard. Perhaps in 15 years MY name will be on the roster for the Volvo race.

-Peter Cronin, Mudratz.

August 7th, 2017

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Props to Kent Haeger, the 2017 WYA C Scow Champion! Haeger finished with close to half as many points as the rest of the podium. After four races in very shifty, puffy, challenging conditions on Nagawicka Lake, the B-12 finished with 16 points and not a single finish in the double-digits.

Only one point separated silver from bronze. Ed Eckert and Matt Schmidt (A-136) took second place, edging out Will Haeger, Will Hutchings, and Hannah Noll (B-1) who finished in third.

Rounding out the top five were Jim Gluek and Alby Rolfs (V-137) in fourth and the family program of Steve, John, and Wendy Schmidt in the E-88. Check it out here.

 

August 7th, 2017

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…and the poor get poorer. Fastnet 2017.

 

August 7th, 2017

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Big Pimpin’

McConaghy Boats are celebrating a half-century in performance boatbuilding this year with an impressive pedigree of raceboat excellence that, in the hands of the world’s best sailors, has now won pretty much every major contest in the sport. This ranges from Aussie 18s in Sydney Harbour to custom offshore IOR, IMS and IRC designs, ACC America’s Cup boats, first-tofinish maxis, supermaxis… the list goes on and on. Oh yes, did we mention the Andrew McDougall Mach 2 foiler Moths which continue to pour out of the door of the company’s Chinese facility?

Yet, rather than rest on these laurels of always being on the cutting edge of composite fabrications, McConaghy have recently further notched up the pace to adopt some recent innovations that will have this firm well poised to enter the next half-century with greater efficiencies and versatilities in production of a new range of boat types wider than ever before.

A recent infusion of capital from Tiger Group Investments prompted a significant growth in infrastructure, placing McConaghy in a position to meet the ongoing demands of a competitive marketplace that is evolving in its appetite for every form of performance sailing boat from those foiling Moths to supermaxis. Read on.

 

August 7th, 2017

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