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Gunboat 60 sailing in Annapolis, MD.

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Posts Tagged ‘brazil’

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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 by admin

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A couple of days ago in the doldrums, Open 60 PRB – probably the lightest Open 60 ever built, caught up to Gabart and Desjoyeux aboard Macif, who’d been leading almost from the gun.  Young Francois and the grizzled veteran Michel showed what they and their latest gen VPLP/Verdier boat could do that night, putting almost 20 NM on the orange boat by morning.  But maybe they are a bit too fast.

Macif continued to stretch her lead until yesterday when her rig went over the side, not all that far from where the same pair last lost the rig off the nearly identical boat during the Barcelona World Race (though that was Foncia, sistership to Macif).  The duo cut the mast away and are proceeding under jury rig to Salvador de Bahia, and they are still fast, sailing almost six knots with no mast at all.  Check the short jury rig video here, and track PRB, Maitre Coq, and Safran as they fight for the win with just one day left on the course.  More from Gabart:

We were sailing on port tack under full main and big gennaker in 15-20 knots with a small seaway coming from behind.  An hour or two before we’d had some gusty wind but the wind was stable when the mast broke.  We were under autopilot with myself in the cockpit and Michel resting inside when the mast went, breaking a dozen meters above the deck, meaning 18 meters of mast in the water.  The standing part was supported by the cabin top/coachroof.

We turned downwind, fortunately all safe when it happened.  It took about an hour to separate the upper part from the lower part, making sure we could preserve the boom for a jury rig.  We’re both in the same state of mind: Sad and disappointed, but we are forward looking people and at these times it’s better to do that than to dwell on problems.

The Failure

Within two seconds of the first noise, the mast was down, so it’s hard to speculate on what might have happened…I suspect it was a tube failure rather than fittings or attachments.  We were definitely pushing the boat but in a very usual way and in normal conditions; certainly not the first time I’ve pushed this boat since her launch!

After the Vendée Globe, we stepped a lighter mast that would hopefully not sacrifice reliability, but it was maybe a bit more fragile in the harsh conditions of this TJV.  I don’t want to second guess much, because maybe the Vendee Globe mast might have been fine, but maybe it would have broken too.  

I don’t think our match race with PRB had any impact on how we pushed the boat.  We took a step back at times, our goal was to sail better consistently. We did not want to overdo it, we wanted to sail cleanly and even if PRB had been a few miles ahead, or behind, then nothing would have changed.”

Second time unlucky

“I have had two dismastings in my life, both in IMOCAs between Brazil and Africa and both sailing two up with with Michel . We think of the dismasting which happened two years ago in the Barcelona World Race. But the reasons are different. But there is the same feeling of sadness because all of a sudden everything just stops. At the same time we look to the positives, it could have happened at any other time and that would have been worse for us and for the boat. It’s been great since it happened in the Barcelona . There is no reason why we can’t follow on the same after this second dismasting.”

 

 

November 21st, 2013 by admin

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 Every other year, France puts on a massive show for their ‘adventurers’, attracting over a million people to the start of two great races:  the solo Route Du Rhum alternates with the double handed Transat Jacques Vabre, which begins this coming weekend.  Here’s the story from US/UK entry 11th Hour Racing and their former SCOTW skipper Hannah Jenner.
Our Team 11th Hour Class 40 is in Le Havre, France with one week to go to the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre [pronounce it  "Jock Varb" with a soft 'j' to get close]. We have smiled and waved and signed autographs for the public and it now feels REAL! The race to get to the start is over, the lock gates are closed and there is no going back now.  It’s funny how the blood, sweat and tears of the preparation period dissolve into pre race excitement and all of those moments of wondering what on earth you are doing and questioning your crazy career choice are fading into the background.  (Although we may find ourselves revisiting those questions again looking at the forecast for start day.  It seems the weather gods know when its a TJV year and amp up the depressions that crash into this area of the world in November).
I was here in the same spot two years ago sailing on 40 Degrees and two years on I am back in the same boat under a new name and with a new co skipper (Rob Windsor).  This time around though we are streaks ahead in terms of preparation, and rather than the usual frenetic craziness, the atmosphere in the team is happy and relaxed.  After losing our rig in the 2012 Atlantic Cup we have a new and lighter rig, we have shaved weight of the keel, we have re-wired and upgraded the electronics and spent a lot of time training both on and off the water.  Above all, we feel we have a great team.
Having sailed 6,000 miles together this year, most of which have been aboard 11th Hour Racing, we understand what makes each other tick and how to get the best out of the boat.  We have been tired and frustrated and grumpy and we are still talking!  Its a good sign and most importantly we have the same aspirations in our sailing careers, which really helps to focus us when the pressure is on.
So all that is left to do is get through the scrutineering checks, attend the safety briefs and soak up the incredible atmosphere here in Le Havre.  As long as the boat stays attached to its mooring through tonight’s storm we are in great shape and ready to race.  This time around, it’s not about finishing: Our goal is CLEANER FASTER BETTER.
Like Facebook for the most up to date info on the team.

October 29th, 2013 by admin

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