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Many in the sailing community know Billy Black from his work as a photographer in the marine industry. You may have seen his boat at regattas, seen his pictures in magazines, or if you are really lucky, had the chance to spend time with a man who turns every shared moment into some of the best moments you can remember.

What folks might not be aware of is that Billy Black had a fight with ocular lymphoma in 2013 that spread to his brain this past December. By May he had successfully achieved remission and since this type of cancer has a high relapse rate, the recommended course of action is to get a stem cell transplant following remission. He completed that treatment but the doctors say it will be a year before he recovers his previous energy and endurance. The prognosis looks good and over the past month or so he has been getting back on the water and resuming his work, which is fantastic news.

His insurance policy covered most of what was a very expensive treatment. The reality, however, is that he has been out of commission for over 6 months and as a result he had to cancel scheduled work, could not take new bookings, and had no revenue coming in. He and Joyce also incurred significant out-of-pocket expenses related to his treatment that were not covered by insurance and they had to dig into the savings they had put aside, spending a little over $100,000.

Those funds had been earmarked to purchase a replacement for the Silver Locomotive. You may have seen Billy towing his photo boat with this van, kitted out to serve as his home while he was on the road up and down the east coast traveling to shoot all of us on the water. The current vehicle has 350,000 miles on the odometer and is on borrowed time.

To know Billy is to love him. He is the nicest guy in the marine community, and someone who certainly makes me want to be a better person. He is generous with his time, his knowledge, his smile and his art. I know there are people who would like to help he and Joyce out, so Tristan Mouligne and I have organized an effort to pass the hat around. We have set up a joint account in Billy and Joyce’s name, and hope that folks in the community can join us in helping Billy bounce back from this challenge. A gift in any amount will help us put Billy back on the road and back on the water. If anyone would like to give, it’s simple:

For maximum benefit to Billy, make out a check to Billy and Joyce Black and mail it to the following address:

Morgan Stanley
C/O Tristan Mouligne
53 State Street
Boston, MA 02210

Tristan will take care of the details of getting it credited to Billy and Joyce’s account, and I will send out periodic updates of the progress.  If you would like to support Billy with an online gift, please go to www.youcaring.com/billyblack-908322 with your credit card.  It’s free to you.

Thanks so much for considering a gift. I know that Billy really appreciates all the support he has been shown by his friends throughout this challenge. If you want to get in touch with him directly, his email is [email protected]. He has been much more active on social media and email as he has recovered from his stem cell transplant, and I am sure he would love to hear from you.

Best Regards,

Michael Hennessey, Skipper

Dragon

August 21st, 2017

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Just weeks after seven sailors died in their bunks when the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Fitzgerald smashed into a stand-on cargo ship, another AB destroyer – the John McCain – collided with a tanker yesterday, and another 10 sailors are missing.

What in fuck’s name is going on with the US Navy?  Is the 20 million dollar AN/SPY radar set not good enough to spot a supertanker?  Or are America’s armed forces merely emulating the level of competence they see lately in their Commander-In-Chief? Either way, the loss of life for no reason at all is awful, and the damage to the US Navy’s reputation – just as regional conflicts begin to heat up and the Trump Train gets ready to get roll with live troops in wartime situations.

The Marines suspended all flying two weeks ago until they figured out why they keep dying in planes and helicopters; is it time for all the deck officers to head off to the local STCW instructor to learn how to keep a fucking watch?

Anyone know how two of the most advanced ships on the water crashed into two massive stand-on ships in less than two months?  Please let the community know!

UPDATE: The Navy has ordered a ‘pause.’  About time.

 

August 21st, 2017

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We’ve had plenty of ‘Monster Garage’ stories over the year, but the main full for the oddball foil/planing trimaran Frog has to win some kind of award for ‘monster roof rack’.  The small trimarans blog has all the info, with thanks to SA’er ‘groucho marx’ for the show and tell.  Title to an amphibian classic.

August 21st, 2017

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UPDATE:  We admit to getting fired up after seeing an InfoWars sticker alongside a prominent display of support for the youth pathway to the olympics. We may have even gone off a little half-cocked,  and we apologize to the US Sailing Team for mistakenly calling them out as supporters of one of the most toxic scumbags in the the media today.  If you don’t know just how much of an animal Alex Jones and his Infowars site are, spend a few enjoyable minutes with Jon Oliver for the deets.

CORRECTIONS:

-The car above is NOT owned by any member of the US Sailing Team or US Sailing – athlete or staffer.  In fact the US Sailing Team’s Development Squad shown in the sticker was more of a PR exercise than anything useful and was disbanded not long after being created.  Stickers were awarded to a few mid-level performers at some Olympic class events, and some of them are still rocking them.  The sticker combination above may even be a troll, in which case, yeah – we bit.

-Most of the people on the US Sailing Team and working for US Sailing are far too educated or worldly to be supporters of something like Infowars.  We spoke to a number of USS and USST staffers who were horrified to be identified in that way. We’re sorry for that.

SUGGESTIONS: Vandalism is bad and we’d never condone it. Still, it would be hilarious if suddenly that Infowars sticker was found sporting a Black Lives Matter or #resist bumper sticker right next to it!

 

August 20th, 2017

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With the announcement of its as yet unchristened new, foil-assisted monohulls for the 2019-20 crewed lap of the planet, and beyond, the Volvo Ocean Race continues its longstanding tradition of letting the Imoca class do much of its full-scale R&D. But has it all happened too fast this time?

Water ballast was first introduced in the Whitbread 60s for the 1993-94 race having been used on the Imoca 60s’ forebears, the Open 60s, from the early 1980s. VO70s made their Volvo race debut in 2005 with canting keels, some 12 years after Isabelle Autissier’s Ecureuil Poitou Charentes 2 became the first Open 60 to use one (and several more years after Michel Desjoyeaux – inevitably – had introduced the canting keel to the Mini 6.50 fleet).

Pictured above; It is September 1993 and the then Whitbread RTW race is taking its first big leap into the future after 20 years of evolving IOR design, race winner Ross Field’s Whitbread 60 Yamaha 2 leading the last ever IOR maxis out of the Solent at the start of Leg 1. Yamaha would return to the Solent only 10 hours behind Grant Dalton’s winning maxi… overall.

In comparison the latest change has been much swifter, the first foil-assisted Imoca 60s launched barely two years ago with the first foil-borne Volvo boats following just four years later.

What must be of some concern is that, compared to water ballast and canting keels, foiling technology is way more complex and tricky to engineer in an offshore environment. For example, of the five newgeneration semi-foiling Imoca 60s on their first major outing in the 2015 Transat Jacques Vabre, only Banque Populaire finished (with structural damage), while others suffered severe failures, the worst being Hugo Boss which was nearly written off.

In last winter’s Vendée Globe five of the seven foilers finished, with Alex Thomson famously breaking one of Hugo Boss’s boards. Upon finishing, race winner Armel le Cléac’h admitted that he had been cautious about using Banque Populaire’s foils: ‘I tended to use them [only] in situations where I thought I needed to boost my speed, like a turbo, when I needed to attack a little more.’ But this may also have been to avoid repeating the same damage that sistership Edmond de Rothschild sustained to the top of her port foil, which partially broke within its case leaving it, as skipper Seb Josse alarmingly reported, ‘just hanging by two screws’.

Read on.

 

August 20th, 2017

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Hey! You can own a piece (or pieces) of America’s Cup history. For a “suggested” bid of $229,000, you can own this outdated, slow and near useless catamaran. Don’t delay, jump over here and get your bid in, but we’d suggest starting with $22,900, not $229,000…

 

August 20th, 2017

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At the risk of insulting female sailors everywhere, we present this week’s SCOTW, courtesy of the New Yorker’s excellent cover illustration.  Of course we know that Dolt 45 doesn’t sail, and as far as we know, he’s not a chick. But we do know that he is a blow hard racist. Keep blowing, Twitler, it would seem to be all you are good for.

 

August 19th, 2017

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I am always interested to know people think of my opinions and the information that I share in my Great Circle Sails blog. Actually, for a while there I was wondering if anyone even reads my blog but lately I have been getting some fan mail so some people are enjoying my point of view. Not so much a person that goes by the name Anarchist David. Most of my blog pieces are published on Sailing Anarchy which is by far the most read sailing publication, online or on paper. You see Anarchist David took issue with the piece I wrote about David Witt, the skipper of the Volvo Ocean Race entry Sun Hun Kai Scallywag.

Anyone that knows me or has read anything I have written will know that I am a huge proponent of women in sailing. As a kid I marveled at Claire Francis when she did the singlehanded transatlantic race, and then went on to skipper a boat in the Whitbread Race. I was onboard with Tracy Edwards long before she led the first all-female team in the Whitbread and was simply blown away by Ellen MacArthur and what she accomplished. There were many other female sailors, both inshore sailors and offshore sailors, that have inspired and amazed me with their talent. So therefore I was very pleased when the the rules for the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race were changed to fully encourage teams to take women onboard by allowing them to have more crew members than simply an all-male team. One of the first teams to do so was the Spanish entry Mapfre and they dominated the recent so-called Leg Zero. The only team to go with an all-male crew was the aforementioned Team Sun Hun Kai Scallywag and I am not surprised and definitely not displeased to see that they came in dead last in the overall standings of Leg Zero.

Here is how Anarchist David responded to my criticism of skipper Witt (edited a little for brevity).  “Brian Hancock, SA’s resident grumpyguts, is at it again, desperate to exhibit his ignorance and prejudices in this article. He wants to death-ride David Witt, skipper of the Sun Hun Kai Scallywagentry in the Volvo Race for having the temerity to express an opinion about mixed-gender crews. (read full article here – ed.)

Witt is what we Australians call “fair dinkum” – a forthright bloke who doesn’t hide behind glib phrases or pretend to support every new outbreak of political correctness. He has decided to contest the Volvo with an all-male crew. It was a tactical decision and the rules allow it. Witt’s crime, according to Hancock, is to have been honest enough to give his reasons in public. Just for that, Hancock says he will be “happy” if Sun Hun Kai Scallywag does poorly in the race. Nice sportsmanship, Brian.”

Fair dinkum huh? Neanderthal more like it. Chauvinist for sure. You see I get Fair Dinkum. I have traveled all over Australia – I once hitchhiked from Fremantle to Sydney – and I love the Australian people, but fair dinkum is no longer an excuse for sticking your head in the sand as if the times are not achanging. The times have moved on from the stupidity of believing men are imminently superior to women. We aren’t and it’s high time we all got over that old outdated notion especially when it comes to sailing. I am a good sailor, but I will never be in the league of Ellen MacArthur or Sam Davies or Dee Caffari. They are far superior to me by any measure.

What I write is fair game and I am happy to take criticism, but I will also push back when the writer that challenges me has his head squarely up his outback. So Anarchist David, I am not a grumpyguts. I am an enlightened person who long ago ( at around the age of nine growing up in apartheid South Africa) came to the conclusion that no one person is superior to another in any way just because of gender or race or any other factor and your comments could not have come at a worse time as we in the US are dealing with a bunch of fair dinkum neanderthals who practically set the city of Charlottesville on fire last weekend.

-Brian Hancock

 

August 19th, 2017

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Just a month after Mischa Heemskerk and Stephan Dekker’s ridiculous, all-bullet (gold fleet) performance to win their first-ever F-18 World Championship, Mischa is back in the driver’s seat on Poland’s Baltic Sea coast as the A-Cat Worlds fleet fires up, and if this pic is any evidence, he’s on the prowl…[just joking, Carrie -ed].  Head to the thread to find out more about the deck sweepers, stabilizers, and no-boom rigs amongst the crazy tech in this fast foiling fleet.  Video preview here and big thanks toPJ Dwarshuis and the guys at DNA Performance for their help in putting together this comprehensive preview/form guide.  By the way, with both the Moths and A-Cats hosting their largest-ever world championships in 2017 and the average age continuing to plummet amongst the fleets, is there anyone out there who still thinks foiling is a fad?  News and photos from the event are over here.

19 nationalities and 150 boats on the entry list proves the growing interest in this highly competitive and foiling catamaran class. Dozens of past World Champs  in a variety of classes discovered the A class cat over the last few years as the ultimate in singlehanded excitement.  The A cats are challenging to sail, with nearly unmatched and highly-refined development in one of the last truly open classes left.  Many ideas coming from the A-class trickled down to other boats and even into the AC Cats; it’s not surprising then that many Cup sailors and designers play in the A for fun.  .

The reigning world champion and man to beat at the moment is DNA team rider, developer and fellow Dutchman Mischa Heemskerk. Mischa is on a roll, as last month he also won the Formula 18 class world title with 7 straight bullets in the goldfleet final and before that won the locally well known Round Texel race.

Mischa will face big competition from the squad from Polish A-Cat builder Exploder, which has put in countless hours in their effort to break DNA’s string of five straight A-Cat Worlds. Heemskerk’s biggest competition should come from Aussie Exploder riders like two-time World Champ Stevie Brewin and double Olympic medallist and Tornado world champ Darren Bundock, who’ve been working as a team to unseat the reigning Dutch champ.

While Poland may be better known for growing gorgeous women and brewing great vodka, their sailors are a major force to be reckoned with, especially with the added motivation of winning on their home turf.   The next generation of cat kids is led by 24-year old Jakub Surowiec who proved very strong at the last big European regattas, while Tymotek Bendyk and Jacek Noetzel are also factors – the latter is the longtime Polish champion and also the driving force behind the successful growth of the Class in Poland.

Mischa will again be sailing the stealthy black carbon DNA F1,  unchanged for the second year of production now. The platform is identical to his winning boat at last years worlds in Medemblik, Holland.

The DNA F1 is highly optimized for low aero drag, proving extremely fast in all conditions. The construction is state-of-the-art carbon/prepreg/nomex honeycomb, built in a unique one-shot method in Holland Composites‘ autoclave. Carbon fiber to weight ratio is unmatched, resulting in platforms that remain stiff for longtime.  We introduced the semi-rigid carbon trampoline last year, stiffening the platform and making the boat look extremely slick.

The ‘Z‘ foils, which have all four foils kept deployed in the water during sailing, as originally developed by DNA in 2014 are still unchanged. We have been playing with other foil designs however keep returning to the original shape – it is easy to optimize for one particular condition but in our view the best foil is the one offering the best all-around performance. You could see this clearly in the AC where they had various foils for different wind ranges – we have to make do with one throughout the entire event hence our quest for a good all arounder.

The decksweeper sails are common nowadays, but it was Mischa who developed the modern iteration of these super-efficient mainsails to a new level.  The sail seals all the way to the airtight trampolines, resulting in significantly higher efficiency of the rig.  This helped DNA take 1st and 2nd at the ’15 Worlds, and while Glenn is taking a much-needed family holiday instead of sailing Worlds, the America’s Cup winner and 9-time A-Cat world champ says he’ll be back soon to set things straight.

 

Sails might just be as important as foils in this fleet’s development, and Mischa Sails, the Polish Bryt sails and North Sails all use Contender Maxx cloth, which has proven very suitable for these refined and flexible rigs which needs to depower and repower within seconds. Brewin sails and Landenberger sails go for radial-cut sails from conventional laminates, some of them optimized for lower rigs and some top teams going boom-less, while other sailmakers stick to the ‘half-wishboom’ setup.  where other sail makers stick to the ‘half-wishboom’ setup.

Polish builder Exploder pushed foil development to the extreme by developing literally dozens of prototype foils and rudders designed by Spanish designer Gonzalo Redondo.  They’ve also varied their daggerboard and beam positions a lot over the last year, resulting in many different Exploders to come to the right setup. Exploder builds their boats out of home-made carbon prepreg/nomex, and in a more typical production method of two bonded halves per hull, making the boat a bit more straigh forward with less extreme beam shapes and conventional trampolines. Their Z foil (type number 21) looks to be the one to get right now, which surprisingly comes pretty close in surface and foiling angle to the now 4-year-old original DNA foil.

Foil design is all about finding the right compromise between control and speed , combining good low end performance with top speed and top control when it starts blowing. It really looks like the same challenge as seen in the AC , but on a smaller and more fun scale!

Upwind foiling seems to be the new challenge and it will be very interesting to see if this will pay off this championship. Australian sailors seems to have made a big step there, optimizing their rigs with shorter masts to get the center of effort lower for better, easier balance foiling upwind. Yet by doing this, they probably sacrifice some light wind performance there, so time will tell if it will pay off during the entire event.

 

Swiss manufacturer Schreuer with team rider and developer Sandro Caviezel pushes upwind foiling even further, developing his stunning airplane looking G7 with the same rigid trampoline technique first seen on the DNA F1. Sandro is looking extremely slippery upwind in this Swiss piece of art. Especially in moderate conditions and flat seas, Sandro could be a surprise contender.

It’s fantastic to see that the foiling revolution actually made the class stronger than ever. There has been a lot of discussion about foiling and about class rules in recent years, but the cool thing is that, in the end, those rules controversies led to the Z foil development, which proves to be the best foiling configuration possible for small catamarans. Loading boards from the top-down and leaving both boards down during racing brings easy handling of boats whilst sailing and also onshore. Most important, it eliminates the handling of boards up and down at each tack or gybe, and this important fact keeps racing interesting because tactical short tacks and gybes are not so costly.

The same type of boards are used now for the new Olympic upgrade of the Nacra 17. These boats are only on the water for a few weeks now, but sailors will quickly learn how to sail these boats fast and safe as happened in the A class. Without a doubt it will be an eye opener in the fleet of Olympic classes.

With the Polish Nationals/pre-Worlds having gone off in a mostly low-riding light-air affair, top Spaniard Manual Calavia came out on top, and the short-rigged Aussies may be scratching their heads to decide whether to go for the short rig (8 meters) or the common 9 meter rigs next week.

All European sailors stay with standardized 9 meter masts, nowadays nearly all produced by Scott Andersons’ Fiberfoam from Austria. Two choices there: The common and proven standard untapered section, which has been a class favorite for many years, or the tapered wingsection which was developed and built by DNA four years ago and now manufactured by Fiberfoam for DNA. The DNA’s mast section tapers from 165 to 125 mm, flattening out in the top to only 45 mm, so much more extreme than the original 60 mm thick standard section. Obviously, with the trend of foiling and smaller apparent wind angles these sections will become standard in the class quickly.

Attempts to wider wingmasts and even solid wings are still made in the class, but on the twitchy super light A-class, so far no one has proven any gain. But without any doubt, development also won’t stop in this area.

The A class is more alive than ever. More and more resources are put into development by builders and sailors, and foiling is no longer for pro’s only, but all average and above A class sailors are consistently foiling nowadays, making sailing the A‘s hugely attractive and addictive.

Which other class features competitive and attractive racing from 4 to 22 knots in all sea states, in more than twenty countries worldwide? We rest assured that the A-class remains the class to keep an eye on for the coming years.

-PJ Dwarshuis

 

 

 

August 18th, 2017

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Big Pimpin’

For the select few sailors looking for the ultimate in Grand Prix one-design, it looks like the TF-10 might just be it. With electronic rake control, off-watch bunks for distance races, and a M&M design that appears to be extremely well mannered, the TF-10 seems to answer all the right questions for even the out-of-shape or septuagenarian owner.

The boys at DNA put together the sea trial video above that includes quite a lot of info directly from the owners mouths – owners with experience in everything from Melges World Championships to J/105s at the Big Boat Series to Marstrom 32s in Sweden, and they explain why they’ve decided they’ve moved out of all that jazz and into this.  We’ve been told they’ve all signed off on the design, the components are greenlit, and production on hulls 2 and 3 is now under construction in Holland with the fourth beginning soon.

Sailing Anarchy will be aboard hull number 1 as soon as possible for a full review; a truly stable foiling multihull has long been sailing’s unicorn and we’re goddamned stoked to check her out.

Details and sea trials are over on the DNA site here.

 

 

August 18th, 2017

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