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no one home

UPDATE: It turns out that at least some of you were home:

That YouTube stream of the 52 Super Series only had 36 people watching because it was an internal stream that was not being distributed. It was not the stream being pushed out to 1000s of people. On the second stream, the one I was watching, there were between 2000-4000 people watching at any one time.


March 12th, 2017

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When you grow up do you think you’ll be doing this? We didn’t think so…

webb 2Here is an update from St. Helena, after GANNET’s 23 day passage from Durban. Instead of harbor hoping along the South African coast, we went offshore, the only boat this season to make the passage direct. We lay ahull three times and again took knockdowns that put the masthead in the water and broke another Windex. They just don’t make them strong enough for GANNET. GANNET’s fastest noon to noon run of 180 current assisted miles, and her slowest of only 13. A final week of easy trade wind sailing enabled us to arrive in good shape. We sail for St. Lucia on March 14.

You are welcome to use any or all of this. The photo was taken from GANNET on her mooring at St. Helena. The other image is GANNET’s Yellowbrick track. Her tracking page is:

Trust all is well on the mainland. I heard no news while at sea—a pleasure—and haven’t bothered to catch up since I arrived.

GANNET is on one of 22 or 23 moorings put down for visiting yachts at St. Helena Island in the South Atlantic Ocean, about 2/3s of which are full. When I was here 29 years ago you had to anchor in very deep water and use your dinghy to get ashore, which with a lot of surge was an adventure. There is still a lot of surge and intermittent 20 knot gusts of wind. One of those gusts blew a Sportaseat overboard. I heard it go, but it was already out of reach and on its way north. This isn’t a harbor, just an indentation on the lee side of the island. The moorings are off a several hundred foot high cliff. Lots of terns flying up there where I assume they nest.

I didn’t try to go ashore the day I arrived, but stayed on board and sorted things out and had a fresh water solar shower and put on clean clothes.

The passage from Durban, South Africa, seemed longer than 23 days, perhaps because the parts were so different.

The weather this year never provided even 72 hours of fair wind along the South African coast. I got tired of waiting and decided to make this an ocean passage rather than a coastal one, and went to sea intending to stay there rather than harbor hop. I expect that GANNET was the smallest boat to clear into Durban this season. I am certain she was the only one to clear for St. Helena. The Immigration officer asked me where it is. Sorry, Napoleon.

Along the South African coast GANNET had her best day’s run ever, an Agulhas Current assisted 180 miles. I was routinely seeing SOGs of 12 and 13 knots when we were sailing 8 and 9. And six days later her slowest day of only 13 miles, when we lay ahull for 12 hours in 20-30 knot headwinds and then were becalmed for 12 hours forty miles off Cape Agulhas, which we passed three times, two sailing west, one drifting back east. We could have sailed against the headwinds, but would have been beaten up and I chose to wait rather than suffer unnecessarily and unproductively.

Once clear of Cape Agulhas and the Cape of Good Hope, we had mostly good sailing except for a couple of days of gale force winds when we again lay ahull. When those winds first reached us during the night I saw an SOG of 14.1 knots before I could reduce sail, the highest I have ever seen on GANNET, though she may have gone higher when I wasn’t looking. Two waves caught us and knocked us down, at least one of which put the masthead in the water because the Windex up there is broken. That Windex was new in Durban, a replacement for one broken last year in a masthead-in-the- water knockdown in the Indian Ocean. GANNET is hard on Windexes. The electronic masthead unit is still working.

The last week was easy trade wind sailing. I could have gone faster, but just let GANNET ease along under jib alone. I’ve done a lot of hard. Easy was nice.

I expect to be here until March 14. I’d like to get laundry done and need to change water. The water in my jerry cans has stuff growing in it. I’d also like to replenish some essential supplies. I’m short of paper towels and gin. I need to remove everything from the v-berth, dry it out, and reorganize the stowage. Several bags up there and the water jerry cans are tied in place, but even so knockdowns are mighty shifters. I will inflate and dry out the Avon, which hasn’t been used since Darwin, though it has gotten wet and I expect is moldy.

GANNET didn’t take a lot of water below, except in the knockdowns. The spray hood definitely helped. So far it has been exactly what I hoped. I do have a couple of leaks that I’ll try to find. But basically the little boat and I are in good shape.

Two Raymarine tiller pilots have died. The Pelagic tiller pilot performed flawlessly even surviving the gale knockdowns. I don’t use it all the time because it is noisier than the Raymarines. I did use sheet to tiller part of the time.

I haven’t looked at the Yellowbrick tracking page, but saw from some emails that it uploaded as it was supposed to. I also sent and received three emails from Carol, who is the only one who has that address. I carry Carol with me everywhere, including the monastery of the sea. The Yellowbrick email worked flawlessly. On some past passages there was a software problem. The Yellowbrick now shows 53% charge.

I like St. Helena very much. It is remote, quaint, and unchanged ashore from when I was here in 1988. An airport has been built at a cost of more than three hundred million dollars and was supposed to open last year, but almost unbelievably they built it in the wrong place, on the edge of the cliffs on the windward side of the island where turbulence from the trade winds meeting those cliffs makes landings and takeoffs unacceptably dangerous. How such a mistake could be made by presumably professionals boggles the mind. In any event, when any of the 4,000 residents of St. Helena see an unfamiliar face they still know you’ve sailed there on your own and are charmingly friendly.

St. Helena’s land moved exceedingly beneath my feet for the first few hours I was ashore. On this passage we moved from the Eastern Hemisphere to the Western. On the next we will move from the Southern to the Northern. Time and chance permitting, next stop St. Lucia, 3800 miles distant, bearing 295º.

If we make it, we will have done more than half the planet since Darwin, Australia, with two stops, Durban and St. Lucia. Darwin 131ºE. St.Lucia 61ºW.

I didn’t even plan that. It may just happen.

Webb Chiles


March 12th, 2017

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cabo wabo

Holy christ, this is the nightmare that everybody hopes doesn’t happen on a long distance race, but certainly does. And is, now, on the Newport to Cabo San Lucas race. Rio 100, Pyewacket and Condor have already thrown in the towel, and given that even the big fast trimarans like Phaedo are currently going 2 knots this one is not looking too promising. Track ‘em.


March 12th, 2017

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Big Pimpin’

power trippingPower-reaching has always been a highlight of offshore racing but more sailors are now also looking beyond those up and down inshore courses

There is nothing more exhilarating in offshore sailing than power reaching – the point of sail we dream about that makes the other legs of a tough race worth the pain… High speeds, spray and that visceral thrill we get knowing a boat is being pushed to its limits as the miles are speedily devoured.

A drawback on this point of sail, however, is the heeling and imbalance that can happen when there’s either too much force on the sailplan from the masthead Code 0 (MH0) or even the fractional Code 0 (FR0), resulting in costly sometimes brutal course deviations to hold on to these sails. Yet the speed and power are hard to give up, even with the extra miles covered – while constantly recalculating the VMG trade-offs against a lower heading.

Often the only way to stay high enough to stay on course is to reduce the power and heeling moment by dousing the larger sails and shifting down to smaller headsails. But then there is a significant loss of power and speed, with more of the mainsail needed to maintain drive force.

Using more main means shifting the load balance aft, which in turn results in more helm pressure to stay on track. The more main used, the more weather helm needed, and the greater the rudder angle which creates drag, inhibiting speed further.

Read on.


March 12th, 2017

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higher and faster

Yes they are, but we think the Head Check Writer in the back of third place Provezza could probably at least pretend to hike. But what the hell, it is his boat… Great shot by Max Ranchi of the TP 52 Super Series, which was won by Azzurra.


March 11th, 2017

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On Board

Keith Magnussen is already pissed. His brand new $400 “Fuckberry Boots” fell apart before the start. We think he’ll survive.

here we go againSo here we go again! Racing down the coast in one of my favorite events, the NHYC to Cabo Race. Although, looking at the forecast I’m not sure if that will still be a statement I say I’m the future.

Again I’m with my friends on the J-125 Timeshaver, wouldn’t have it any other way. Viggo, Blake, Tom, Cody and myself are joined this year by Damian Craig who is going to try and navigate this thing around all those holes that have opened up along the baja coast.

We have an interesting assortment of boats with some newcomers rounding out our fleet. I wonder how the Melges 32 are going to fare? That thing is going to seem really small in this light breeze.

I am super excited even though the wind is shit. We have anew ORR main, 2.5A and larger spin staysail so I’m hoping that this set up pays dividends in this light stuff. All the staff at Ullman Sails stepped up and we are stoked on the new look.

Our big question on the first day is inside our outside those little islands? Glad I’m not the one calling this!

Title inspiration thanks to the best rapper you have never heard.


March 11th, 2017

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Clean Report

The final day of the TP52 SuperSeries in Miami is live from 1300, with a possible three races to round out the weeklong series.  As you can see with the excellent Day 4 Highlights above, Azzurra leads by a nice margin, while perennial favorites Quantum Racing tries to find its way on to the podium. You’ll also watch old Scottish mediaman Andi Robertson try to find a way to a hip look…and fail.

Thread is over here to chat about the only real big boat Grand Prix racing left in the world…and Sunday’s live racing can be seen right here.


March 11th, 2017

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Damn this series is tight, yo!


March 10th, 2017

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Despite the coming of the Foiling Revolution, there remain very few sailboats capable of breaking the 30-knot barrier.  We all know the Moth is one with speeds recorded into the low to mid 30s in the right conditions, but average speeds near 30 are extremely rare.  S’african video specialist Keith Brash managed to find one of those days with Quantum Racing skipper Bora Gulari, ripping together the above video of a 30-knot moth sesh. For more excellent Quantum content, including full time-lapsed TP52 races from Miami this week, head over here.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 11.11.29 AMThis Beach Cat Goes To 35

According to most crews who’ve sailed them, the Diam 24 hasn’t lived up to her ultra-sexy VPLP trimaran looks.  Sure, there are some top teams sailing the now-beachy Tour De France, but that’s one of the only options for crewed teams looking to race in France.  But thanks to months of testing, design, and construction work and the perseverence of Francois Gabart and his team, the Diam is now a full-flying 35 knot beast they’re internally calling the Macif 24.

For more on the flying Diam, head over here.

March 10th, 2017

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Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 10.41.13 AMWhen last week we reported on NOAA’s new Geostationary Lightning Mapper and it’s potential for helping sailors, we ignored one of the great tools already out there for real-time lightning strike mapping.  Thanks to about a dozen Anarchists, here’s the link to, where you’ll find real-time worldwide lightning mapping, historical data, and all sorts of other cool tools for those looking to chase or avoid storms.


March 10th, 2017

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