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Not only is this cool as hell, it might make a nice little stocking stuffer present for that studious sailor in your family… You can thank us later.

 

November 24th, 2016

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For Americans, today is a day to remind us how much our friends and family mean to us, wherever we are.  And we would never discount how important that is, but let’s not forget what  Thanksgiving is really all about.

And this year, it’s the day we find out which of them we’re not gonna talk to for four years! In all seriousness, we are quite thankful this year for all of you; our contributors who share so much of their lives with us, our advertisers who allow us to continue to provide great inside stories, breaking news, and the best analysis of the sport for more than 2 million users this year.

Best wishes to our old pal pagan and his beautiful family cruising down the islands, reminding us that sailors will always find a way with this pic of their Thanksgiving dinner.

November 24th, 2016

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screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-2-16-48-pmOur continued coverage of the Vendee Globe is brought to you by Musto, Torqeedo, Doyle Sails New Zealand, And Ocean Planet Energy.

With Vincent Riou limping off to safety after cracking his keel, Seb Josse losing hours to repair UFO-damaged rudder linkage last night, and Alex Thomson somehow holding on to a 100+ mile lead with just a stub of a starboard foil, it’s clear that the biggest hurdle to winning the 2016 Vendee Globe may very well be floating – or swimming – in the water.  With PRB down it’s also clear that it ain’t just a foil thing, and don’t forget the famous secrecy of some teams; we may only be hearing a portion of the actual damage reports.

With Thomson seeming to easily hold off Banque Populaire at sustained speeds of 20+ knots, we asked his team for a photo of the Hugo Boss damage to address some of the speculation that Alex is playing head games with other teams and that there was no collision.  We were told there were no pics yet because the stump is under water and spray at 20 knots, and said we’d all see pics and video of Thomson’s foilectomy when the weather moderated.  We’ve also just learned exclusively that the non-French ocean racing world’s biggest hope may not be over at all, thanks to a spare starboard foil aboard the Boss!  Alex will attempt to cut away and jettison the remaining stub and insert the spare downward from the deck openings ; it is a very tricky operation but they’ve practiced it at least once, and it’s the reason for their unique deck/foil exit configuration.

The reality of the situation is dramatic enough, but we loved SA’er ‘nedev’s explanation of Thomson’s problem way more.

To be honest, structural failure and hitting stuff in the open ocean both seem quite unlikely to me… After all, the engineers know what they are doing right? And in that vast ocean, what is the chance to hit a teeny tiny floating object?

If you ask me, I think the most likely thing that has happened is that aliens visited AT and try to abduct him and perform scientific experiments on him. In his blind panic, AT ripped off his own foil with his bare hands and used it as a blade to fight off the extraterrestrial intruders. Stunned by this display of will power and strength, the aliens didn’t know what to do and decided that there would probably be easier test subjects to be found elsewhere on this weird planet. What they didn’t know was that during their stay on the big black boat, one of the landing lines of the UFO got wrapped around the rudder. So when they tried to fly away, the rudder got pulled up and the UFO got destabilised mid flight, causing it to crash into the ocean and sink into the depths.

So I think we should all be grateful for Alex’s heroic actions, saving humanity from the alien invasion. Quite possibly, humanity would have been wiped off the planet if AT hadn’t sacrificed his own foil to save us all!

Talk about these discoveries and more in the Vendee Globe thread.

 

November 23rd, 2016

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The US stock market continues to celebrate the election of an anti-tax billionaire while the rest of us search for more substantive silver linings in the cloud that is a Trump presidency.  One small positive for sailors came minutes ago with the announcement of new Education Secretary Betsy Devos to his cabinet; Devos is a sailor herself as well as a member of the multi-billionaire Amway-founding, Quantum Sail owning Western Michigan family that’s put so much time and money into sailboat racing over the past couple of decades.  Betsy is wife to Dick Devos, helmsman of the big MaxZ Windquest as well as the Quantum Racing TP52 and Melges 32, but while he was messing around trying to be Governor, she’s been quietly and relentlessly pushing to radically change school systems for a long, long time.  Whether or not you agree with the politics (and we do not – ed.), it’s always good to have sailors in high places and we wish Devos the best of luck with a tough job.

Unfortunately, that scintilla of good news comes with news of another appointment with potentially ugly repercussions for yacht racers in the Southeast; the lawyer who crafted Bush’s rules ending the last open era with Cuba was just named to Trump’s transition team.  He’s called Mauricio Claver-Carone, and he ran a group vehemently opposed to Obama’s recent moves to end America’s closed-door policy with Cuba.  Clearly Trump did something to run up his Latino vote in crucial Florida, and if the appointment of Carone an indicator that he’ll pay back the anti-Castro bloc with a hardline policy in Cuban relations, you’ll be very happy if you bit the bullet and raced to Cuba in 2016, because it ain’t gonna happen for at least 4 more years – if ever.

Maybe there’s time for one more race to Havana, before mid-January…

 

November 23rd, 2016

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Vendee Breaking

The skipper of PRB hit a UFO on Sunday morning, while speeding along with the frontrunners in the Vendée Globe on his way towards the Cape of Good Hope (a different incident from yesterday’s, when his rudder kicked up). Following on from this collision, Vincent Riou did not initially notice any damage and was able to continue to sail normally. It was only three hours later that the keel started to vibrate and emit loud noises, indicating there were huge strains on the appendage. These sounds continued to grow during Sunday night.

Taking into account the weather conditions (25 to 30 knot winds with average speeds around 19-20 knots), Vincent was unable to go and check the keel housing, but informed his shore team of the incident. The PRB team and the boat’s designers (Guillaume Verdier) and the structural calculations team at HDS GSEA Design (Hervé Devaux and Denis Glehen) began to study all the hypotheses based on what they knew (essentially the type of noise coming from the keel).
It was only this morning while sailing in calmer conditions that Vincent was able to carry out the necessary checks.

He discovered that the axis of the keel had been damaged in the collision. This titanium part is an essential element on the boat. It allows the keel to be attached to the monohull with a plastic ball joint and it is also this axis that allows the keel to be canted. They have made the decision to retire. More here.

 

November 22nd, 2016

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Over the weekend British sailor Alex Thompson racing in the Vendée Globe was shredding the course with his speed at times averaging in the mid 20 knot range. He, along with five other competitors, are in a leading pack that is riding a tight low pressure system that is propelling them past the latitude of Cape Town and soon into the Southern Ocean.

Thompson aboard Hugo Boss has been leading the group and seems to be pushing the hardest. Indeed he pushed so hard that he bettered the fastest 24-hour solo speed record set in the last Vendée Globe by François Gabart. Gabart’s distance of 534.48 nautical miles was an astounding accomplishment, but Thompson bettered it by sailing 535.34 nautical miles. A new record right?  That’s what I would have thought but it’s not to be. Apparently the official rules of the record state it must be broken by one whole mile in order to be recognized. And Thomson’s distance falls short of that by just 259 meters. It was a record that was that wasn’t.

To add insult to injury Hugo Boss collided with a submerged object which ripped the starboard foil off slowing the boat down at a time when he could have, in the following hours, upped his mileage to break the record. Just to be clear the 24-hour record is not a noon-to-noon kind of record; it’s the fastest 24-hours over any 24-hour period so it could be noon-to-noon or it could be midnight-to-midnight but in any case with his boat crippled Thompson was forced to slow down.

It’s unclear how much the lost foil will cost him. Right now the wind is blowing 30 knots out of the north-northwest which means they are essentially sailing downwind, a point of sail where the foils would probably be retracted. If the Southern Ocean dishes up it’s usual wind conditions much of the next ten thousand miles will be downwind and therefore the loss of the starboard foil won’t be felt that much. Once they round Cape Horn it’s a different story.

Most of the voyage up the coast of South America will be on starboard tack meaning that Thompson can make full use of the port foil. As they get closer to the equator it will more than likely than not be on starboard take again allowing him to use the port foil and even once back in the Northern Hemisphere as the boats skirt the Azores High much of the sailing will be done on starboard tack so while losing his starboard foils is a huge blow, it may not be a fatal blow. Only time will tell and judging by the pace of this race I feel certain that François Gabart’s 24-hour record will be toppled, if not by Hug Boss by one of the chasing pack.

-Brian Hancock.

 

November 22nd, 2016

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Clean Report

2016 will be remembered as the year when manufacturers finally realized they should be spending all their development money on Superyacht toys, but a handful of companies are working to improve high-performance sailing.  I sampled pretty much everything new from the 1500+ exhibitors at the METS show in a mostly sober state, and after all that, the winner was actually quite easy to choose.  After more than 8 years in development by the folks at Mich Desj’s “Mer Agitee”, the Electronic Tell-tale/Trim Control system is mostly ready for prime time, and whether we’re talking about significant average speed boosts for cruisers and racers , integrated sail control for bigger yachts and super/megas, huge efficiency increases for thousands of wind power producers, or potential stall-control systems for foilers, this thing could be game changing – and soon.  I grabbed a few minutes with Dimitri to show me how it works and where it’ll change the world; watch above and stay tuned for a more thorough breakdown of the show – and my European trip – later this week.

 

 

November 21st, 2016

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screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-8-43-31-amAs President-Elect Trump taps a leading climate-change denier and paid-for Exxon policy wonk to run the Environmental Protection Agency, startling new evidence from the poles threatens to finally put an end to decades of ridiculous arguments against man-made climate change.

For the first time since accurate recording began (1971), Arctic and Antarctic sea ice are both running at record-low levels.  At the same time, low-latitude temperatures are at record highs.  From the WashPost:

Mark Serreze, who heads the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., agrees that something odd is going on. Not only are air temperatures unusually warm, but water temperatures are as well.  “There are some areas in the Arctic Ocean that are as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit above average now,” Serreze said. “It’s pretty crazy.”

What’s happening, he explains, is sort of a “double whammy.” On the one hand, there is a “very warm underlying ocean” due to the lack of sea ice forming above it. But, at the same time, kinks in the jet stream have allowed warm air to flow northward and frigid Arctic air to descend over Siberia.

“The sea ice is at a record low right now, for this time of year, that’s one thing,” Serreze said. “And why it’s so low — again, there’s so much heat in the upper ocean in these ice-free areas, the ice just can’t form right now. The ocean’s just got to get rid of this heat somehow, and it’s having a hard time doing so.”

At the same time, weather forecasting is about to get much more accurate thanks to the just-launched GOES-R geostationary weather satellite, at least if you believe the folks at NASA and NOAA.  Capturing the entire US weather situation in the time previous satellites could barely shoot one small region, GOES-R should improve extreme weather forecasting as well as long-range trend analysis for Earth’s atmosphere and even ‘space weather’.

Of course if you believe the fake news, 97% of Americans don’t care about global warming, so maybe none of this matters.  At least until all those nonbelievers are watching their shit float away downstream…

November 21st, 2016

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screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-7-53-47-amSailor Chick of the Week

We’re not exactly sure how 21 year-old Emily Nagel got the call to cross the stream with Jimmy, Shannon, and an Oracle-tinted crew, but the young match racer and BDA Youth AC team member is clearly on the way to making a name for herself thanks to a Red Bull publicity stunt that just ended last week.

Nagel helped crew Bronco -  Michael Domingez’s Newport-based DNA F4 foiling catamaran – on a passage from New York to Bermuda with Spithill, Falcone and several other crew (along with a Red Bull media contingent) on what turned out to be a fairly underwhelming attempt to make some noise.  Their 66-hour trip – that’s about three times the outright record -  was only noteworthy for the survival conditions, but Emily does become the first woman to make the crossing on foils, and we’re always fans of women – especially young, passionate sailing chicks – getting a ‘world first’ under their belts.

After watching the surprisingly dull teaser video for the trip, we’re mostly struck by just how uninspiring and monotonous ‘James’ Spithill has become now that age, success, and media overtraining have clearly ended any chance he had of leading the next generation of inspired racer.  Maybe the full-feature movie (dropping in a couple of weeks, we’ve heard) will show another side, but we doubt it.  It’s too bad Red Bull can’t hang their sailing hats on someone young, brash, and extreme….like Jimmy Spithill, circa 2005.

Meet Emily in a Red Bull video over here, and if you’re allergic to Youtube, there’s a full profile of Nagel from the Bermuda News.

If the DNA F4 looks familiar to you and you’d like to understand how it differs from the Gunboat G4 we all know and love (to hate?), take a half hour and watch this full video tour of the Holland Composites/DNA Performance Sailing facility in the Netherlands performed by Mr. Clean this past Thursday.  You’ll get a full history of the shop as well as a close look at the world’s fastest foiling A-Cats as well as a close inspection of the most advanced electro-hydraulic foil controls ever built.

November 21st, 2016

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With jagged bits falling off his now-wrecked starboard side foil, Alex Thomson has tapped into his inner Brit, keeping the proverbial ‘stiff-upper lip’ despite watching his huge 120NM+ lead erode sched by sched.  How long can he hold the charging Armel and Seb off?  It all depends on the wind direction, and the closer they charge toward the Antarctic Exclusion Zone, the less choices Alex will have to make.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-7-28-41-amWestern France is collectively breathing a huge sigh of relief to see the rosbif’s game-changing race begin to falter, but they shouldn’t count their Maitre Coq before it hatches; this edition of the Vendee has been noteable not only for the dominance of Old England, but for the incredibly lack of attrition up to this point.  It won’t last, and if one foiling 60 can wreck a foil, they all can…

Meanwhile, we’re not sure who made it, but props to the Anarchist who brought the beautiful Windyty streamlines to the Vendee Globe tracking data to produce this ‘world’s best’ tracker for the VG.  Check that link here, go over here for a full-fleet performance graphing option, and of course wade into the thread if you love the Vendee.

 

November 21st, 2016

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