Posts Tagged ‘Class 40’
While the 2017 Pineapple Cup once again sees a tiny fleet taking the start line in just a few minutes’ time, we’re happy to see the race happening for another year. It’s the ultimate Western Hemisphere big boat race course, and it always provides great stories for the competitors and for those of us stuck on dry land. Here’s a pre-race report from Michael Hennessey aboard the Class 40 Dragon. Pre-race photo gallery at the event Facebook Page and track the fleet here.
It looks like a classic. Forecast is for us to start out in relatively light easterlies, with a shift to the NE with a bit more pressure coming over night. That sets up a tactical beat from the start out over the top of Great Isaac, one of mny Bahamian islands we will be passing by over the next couple of days. The key will be how far to push the first beat to the NE. With that impending shift coming, you risk overstanding and giving up precious miles to the competition. At the same time, you want to use the Gulf Stream while you have it in order to get North.
This first leg is tactically important because whom ever makes it to the Northeast corner of Eluthera first gets the chance to turn down into the reach that will be the eastern side of the Bahamas. The forecast is to build, maybe into the low twenties, and it is going to be a fast ride so those who get there first will leg out on the fleet. This middle third of the race is also a parade… no passing lanes, no strategy, just pedal down speed. The best you can hope for is to get there first.
Then through the windward passage between Cuba and Haiti and you turn further downwind towards Montego Bay. This last third is all about the VMG running, surfing wave after wave. Strategy comes back into play with the decisions about which lane to take across the Caribbean, and when / where to make your gybes. It is champagne sailing when the conditions are right, and at the moment they look oh, so right!
The fleet may look a bit small with 11 boats, but there is some great hardware in this year’s edition. We are going to be benchmarking ourselves against the other Class40, Amhas with the added challenge that they are fully crewed with some impressive talent and I chose to go doublehanded with the even more impressive Kyle Hubley as my co-skipper. We think we are up to the challenge. And we also hope to handicap out well against the other boats.
This is my third time doing this race and I keep coming back because the course has the promise of so much awesome sailing, and the reception at Montego Bay is unrivaled in its hospitality. I am looking forward to getting there and drinking down some of that cold Red Stripe!
February 3rd, 2017 by admin
UPDATE: Tales II is just 6 miles from the finish. Go and welcome them in!
It’s been a wet, wild and fast first leg in this year’s Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing. Tales II hit 19.6 knots yesterday as they were rounding Hatteras and most of the teams have been consistently sailing in the teens, with Libby Greenhalgh reporting top speeds in the low 20s on the Zero.. Tales is still holding a 10 mile lead over Eärendil, but only 30 miles separates 1st to 6th. And there’s a four-way battle for third between Oakcliff, Toothface, Dragon and Amhas and they have been taking miles out of the leader all night. With winds forecast to lighten, decisions on when to exit the Gulf Stream and head for Brooklyn will make or break the leg.
Also, on this Memorial Day, the A Cup is proud to be supporting the Warrior Sailing Program in Brooklyn. We have a graduate of the Warrior Sailing Program working with us for the duration of the Atlantic Cup learning the ins and outs of race management and we are excited to have 4 warriors sailing in our Pro-Am race to give them some Class40 racing experience. Also we are collecting used and old sails as part of our sail drive with Sea Bags. Proceeds from that sail drive will benefit Warrior Sailing so if you are near to Brooklyn and have an old sail, come by the race office at One15 Marina.
Track ‘em here.
May 31st, 2016 by admin
Michael Hennessy checks in from the nav station on Dragon as the Atlantic Cup fleet gets ready for the long jump from Charleston to Brooklyn today! Head over to their Facebook Page to watch the start LIVE at noon ET (hopefully). And don’t forget – Now that it’s come to the revitalized borough, no Atlantic Cup coverage is complete without this tune.
For the past couple of days, we have been keeping an eye on this low pressure that popped up east of the Bahamas. First a trough, then a potential cyclone, now a depression.
She has threatened and teased, providing relief from the high pressure system that has gripped the southeast coast for the past several days and its light airs. But maybe too much relief?
The call is made, and today we are chasing storms. The system is moving a bit quicker than thought, and when we start in light north easterlies we will be racing east to meet her. As she comes to us, she brings a shift to the Southeast, and we will tack North on that building wind. Tonight should be sporty and wet with big confused seas. If we survive that, then we sail into lighter winds North of Hatteras.
The Transat knocked Carac out of the A Cup fleet, so we’re at 9 boats for this edition. Tales is the boat to beat, having won every race she has started. The rest of the fleet is pretty well matched, with each boat having its sweet spots. We are motivated – it was this race that made Dragon a YouTube star for the wrong reasons.
Stay posted. Much more to come.
May 28th, 2016 by admin
I discovered a 2ft x 3ft area of delamination- that is where the inner fiberglass skin separates from the core material and the outer fiberglass skin in the hull sandwich, and the area loses its structural integrity and becomes mushy. I don’t know whether I hit an object or just came down off a wave and crashed super hard- lord knows there was enough of those- but in any event, there is flexing in the hull skin and water seeping in- so the damage is significant enough that it needs to be addressed- and cannot be repaired at sea.
So, while this sucks to have to pull off the road, as I am anxious to get home, there is no question that the boat would not make it to Newport with this damage… so time to head for shore.
Punta Del Este, Uruguay has been a stopover port for both the Around Alone and Global Ocean Races, and GS2 friends have friends- so hopefully things can get done quickly and smoothly.
I am approx. 300 miles from Punta and am monitoring the hull flexing and water ingress closely as I point the bow in that direction- but would hope to be safely in port in a couple of days.
March 22nd, 2016 by admin
Michael Hennessey goes Latino with another great report, this time from Cuba, after his Class and overall victory in the first-ever Miami to Havana Race.
Apologies for the late update. The complete lack of internet or phone service in Cuba got my head into a space where I was not really paying attention to modern conveniences, and the attitude persisted once back in the States.
First and foremost, kudos to Chris Woolsey and the gang at SORC. It is difficult to put together a first class event with participants from around the United States in the best of circumstances, and doing it in this situation had its own unique set of challenges. But from start to finish, this was a really great event. It helped that the destination promoted itself, but that and SORC’s reputation only meant there were entrants. Everything else came from the effort and commitment of Chris and his team.
I had prepped the boat in Charleston in late February, and then my all-star crew of Merf Owen and Ashley Perrin did the delivery to Miami on February 4. They took advantage of the comfortable and romantic amenities aboard to get engaged on the trip, another first for the mighty Dragon. Then Kyle Hubley and I joined up with the boat down in Miami.
The party and Skipper’s meeting at Coral Reef Yacht Club was a great time, with a slick and fast check-in followed by what seemed like a never-ending open bar pouring cuba libres and mojitos all the rum you could drink. A great band and a skipper’s meeting that was notable for its limited time spent on bureaucracy and the rousing speech given by Commodore Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich, who clearly has picked up some rhetorical technique from Fidel. The rest of the event was a great chance to catch up with various folks from all over the place who had come in for this race.
Race day saw us headed out early for a start that needed to be out to the south of the channel to take into account the draft of some of the boats. Dawn had brought something that looked like 10 knot south westerlies, but that pretty quickly evolved into 5 knot north westerlies. We went off the line under kite, VMG running. Most of the leader pack through a quick gybe in to get off shore, where we chose to take it as far as we could to the west and benefited as the boats struggled a bit in what seemed like more current further out. When they came back in, we had some gains on our Class 40 competitors but were struggling to shake the Santa Cruz 52 and the J111 and J120s that were in our division. That cat and mouse game continued all the way down to the upper end of Islamorada as the wind gradually picked up into the teens and settled in for a near reach under Code 5 in westerlies. Those conditions allowed us to pull away from the non Class 40s, but also allowed Amhas and Long Bow to pull forward for what was evolving into a drag race between us. Long Bow turns out (no surprise) to be really fast in those conditions.
Routing from the Wednesday morning files suggested a near rhumb line race, with a departure from the reef somewhere between Islamorada and just below Key Largo. Virtually all of the fleet seemed to follow that course, with the distinction of Decision to committed to the most easterly course. Meanwhile, we pulled the 1800 hour files down and re-ran the routing. The westerlies we were experiencing were forecast to back, making the rhumb line route much less attractive. It looked like it was going to play out well for Decision who could use it to get east in a hurry and then Gybe on the lift for a straight shot at Havana, but the rest of the fleet was going to be spending a lot of time gybing to the rum and all of it in the Stream with its adverse current. We chose instead to use the lift to continue the follow the reef line us it curved to the southwest, maintaining maximum reaching speed and minimizing current.
That plan took us to well to the south of Key West, where Ashley called the layline from 57 miles out. Even a mile less and we would have been gybing, and a mile more would have been wasted. That last leg was a fantastic run under the A2 at 145 to 150 TWA in 12 to 17 knots. We had some set to the east from the Gulf Stream as well as much as 2 knots of adverse, and the conditions of wind against tide did not help with the wave state that much. But even with that, we did get enough wind driven wave action that we could get some lazy surfing during the run and kept up our average speeds.
We had not checked the tracker during this race, and as we came up on the coast we were worried about the lack of any other sails on the horizon. It was pretty clear that we were either going to be animals or assholes given the complete lack of any other boats. The finish was a straightforward thing complicated only by a hostile lee shore that was just below the government mark where we took our own finish time. Once we got things stowed it was a well marked channel through the reef, with both day and night markers to line up on. That took us into the manmade lagoon that is Marina Hemingway. The combination of Customs, Immigration, Health, Vet and god knows what else were very easy to get through other than a lot of signatures. They were polite and efficient, and the only thing they did that was unusual was to seal our satcomms with tape to prevent us from using them while on island. Then to the dock, an interview with Clean and tidy up. The hardest part was getting a taxi from the local hotel to a neighborhood closer to Havana where we had a Casa lined up through Air BnB.
Cuba is a time machine. The cars are a good metaphor for the island, a rolling museum that is kept going through necessity, ingenuity, and a great deal of pride. The buildings are a mix of worn but proud colonial architecture along side the American influenced Art Deco work of the early 20th century and some surprisingly well done modernist design of the 1950s. There are more recent buildings from the time of Soviet patronage which are pretty much what you would expect, low quality and poor design. In many respects the pre-revolutionary building are in better physical shape than anything that came after. But the combination of cars and buildings create a mood that is unique, one where you don’t have to stretch very hard at all to imagine yourself back 60 years. The topper is a complete lack of advertising. Not a single poster, billboard, commercial, or other form of media pushing you to buy or consume anything. Coming from a world where we are encouraged to consume by messages on every available surface, this was perhaps the most subtle but also the most pervasive difference. It makes all sorts of sense when you think about it in the context of a communist society with limited resources, but it was very unexpected.
All of the people we met are happy, positive and looking forward to the changes that are in motion. The Caribbean Communism created by Castro is still evident everywhere. The vast majority of people still have jobs provided by the State, where the government official makes the same money as the driver that they are provided. They still use ration cards, where each person is able to go to their local bodega (and only their local bodega) to buy food and clothing. Anything else has to be purchased using the CUC currency meant for foreigners. They don’t have much, but they have enough. And it is notable that we did not see a single homeless person, a single beggar or other person that did not look like they were at least cared for in some way.
In some respects, its interesting to compare Cuba and Puerto Rico when trying to judge the impact of the Revolution. Two island states, with economies that struggle with similarly limited resources and options. One has worked under the umbrella of the USA and unfettered capitalism for the past 60 years, and the other has been led by Castro with initially Soviet patronage and then some help from Venezuela in the past couple of decades. Is Cuba really any worse off than Puerto Rico? In many respects, they are better off. Less abject poverty, far less debt and a far less precarious future.
The job system, and lack of ownership has created a culture that lacks ambition, but the desire for more had lead to a robust black market economy that has now been given legitimacy by Raul Castro. Only in the past two years have they been able to own their own homes, and to start businesses. Those that forego a state job to run a Casa, or the private restaurants known as Paladars or their own taxi service end up paying taxes to the State, somewhere in the range of 50%. Which, when I think about it is about the same amount I pay in Federal, State and Local taxes. Those allowances are driving a strong current of change. There are signs all over Havana of grass roots efforts to renovate homes and buildings, along side what are clearly state sponsored efforts on bigger hotel projects.
It will be interesting to how Cuba navigates this evolution from Communism to a hybrid economy, and how thawing relationships with the USA impacts them. One thing is for sure… there will be change and as a result some of the things that make it unique will vanish. You should get there soon.
An epic awards party and pig roast on Sunday night ensured that we headed back on Monday with sore heads and bad stomachs, enjoying a 35-knot bash uphill to Fort Lauderdale. Wind against Stream made it wet and uncomfortable but quick, and we pulled into the Cut just after dawn only to be hit by a ferocious front that saw sustained winds in the 50′s and rain so hard that we could not see more than 50 feet. Which is probably a good thing, since apparently a tornado touched down just to the north of us, and then another one to the south of us.
We saw Ashley and Merf off, got the boat cleaned up, fixed our fuel system and oil sender, and caught up on sleep. We shortly shove off for what will hopefully be a 35 hour trip up to Charleston, and then back to the real world.
February 18th, 2016 by admin
IMOCA and Class 40 designer Merf Owen will race one of the 40s he designed to Cuba today, but something he posted this weekend gave us a real smile. We share it from Facebook and a huge congrats to two long time members of the SA family. For on-the-water coverage of the Havana Race start, head over to SA Facebook and the SORC page.
Perhaps it was the beautiful sunset, or the sleep deprivation after a 40kt Atlantic blow. Whatever it was my thirty years plus of bachelor days are coming to an end. Passing Cape Canaveral the other evening, sailing double-handed with my darling girlfriend Ash, I found myself on my knees emptying ‘the bucket’ , turned around and she was framed in the hatchway. I proposed and happily with a laugh and big smile on her face she said yes ! She’s now wearing the titanium and carbon ring I’d made her…happy couple.
February 10th, 2016 by admin
Michael Hennessey and Tristan Mouligne hit up the the irie-est race in the world aboard the Class 40 Dragon. Results here, and more info on the Pineapple Cup/Mo Bay Race on the SORC Facebook Page. Nigel Lord Photo.
Here I sit on the beach of the Secrets resort next door to the Mo Bay Yacht Club, watching my boat sail off across the horizon towards the western tip of Cuba, musing what marketing genius thought it was a smart idea to call a resort “Secrets”. Is there really that big a market for illicit affairs that they need 800 rooms and a full resort for them? Or does ‘Secrets’ refer to the secrets that couples keep from one another; things like, “I’d rather be on that boat, eating freeze dried pasta and shitting in a bucket, than sitting on this white-sand beach?”
It really is a nice resort. A collection of buildings, pools and beach that is hermetically walled off from the real Jamaica by concrete, iron, and security guards. Plush rooms, plush towels, plush seat cushions. The days seem to be centered around the tidal movement of people from food to beach to bar to food to pool to food. Its a lot like what I would imagine a very nice cruise ship to be, but with trees, no kids, and apparently, lots of Secrets. And I’d rather be on the boat.
Delivery crew Dan Valoppi and Kyle Hubley flew in yesterday and shoved off this morning, delivering Dragon back to Charleston. A good number of boats departed yesterday, Oakcliff bound for Antigua and the C600, then Amhas and Miss Maris for Charleston. Dragon will likely catch Miss Maris tonight, and then everyone will end up tied up in Lauderdale around Tuesday as they sit out a low that is going to fill in south of Hattarras. Other than the stopover, it looks like a run down the Caribbean, a short motor off Key West as the wind flips around and then a reach up the Keys. It’s delivery mode, so they have books and music and long naps to look forward to.
This was my second time sailing the Pineapple Cup/Jamaica Race, and it is still my favorite race. The course is unique and just long enough to feel like an ocean race. The vibe is low-key fun, warm hospitality and a welcome relief from the cold that has the Northern climes’ balls in its icy grip. We woke up on race day knowing that it was going to be an ‘athletic’ start, with most of us holding off our departure from under the bridge to spend as little time as possible being whipped around in the pre-start. We already had our main loaded and our trinquette (staysail) plugged in before leaving the dock, so it was a fairly simple matter of slapping our way out of the breakwater and getting far enough the beach to know what the wind conditions really were all about for the first part of the race.
Which was a very, very shy reach. Or rather, close hauled and fetching on port tack (ok, 55 degrees TWA in 25-30) with two full tanks of water ballast. The start was uneventful for us, not so much for a few others that had some issues getting their headsails under control. But the rust was showing, and it took us a good 2 or 3 hours of tweaking before we really got the boat moving close to its polars. In that time, we fought off Oakcliff but let Amhas pick up a couple of miles on us. The sea state coming across the Gulf Stream was a mess, with short steep waves coming from almost every direction until we got across.
Our bigger mistake was footing off a bit too much, ending up South of our first mark, Great Isaac. So when we got there around midnight, we ended up having to put a 3 mile tack to the north – something none of our competition had to do. Silly, stupid mistake on our part, followed by a much bigger one when I accidently auto-tacked the boat, and in doing so, dropped the bagged A2 in the water. Those bad boys get massively heavy when they get wet, and I still have the bruises from the lifelines where I leaned against them to get the kite back on the boat. Then, proving that I am much less smart than I think I am, I managed to auto tack the pilot again an hour later.
Those three mistakes set the table for our entire race – a bummer, because we really didn’t make any more for the remaining 800-odd miles. But the first three mistakes put us behind Amhas by a good 15-20 miles, with the wind clocking the entire time. Once we got past Issac we were able to put a bit more South in, and then more once we got past Stirrup, but the entire time the wind kept clocking forward which kept us on the wind and going slow. Meanwhile, the boats in front of us were able to get a little bit of cracked off sailing across the top of the Bahamas, and then once they got past Eleuthra, onto a full-on blast reach for five hours while we were still tight on the wind – translating into a 30 mile lead by the time we were able to crack off. And when we got to the corner on Saturday night, the wind had already clocked forward, so while we got a reach, they’d had a broad reach. It was a rich-get-richer story, most notably for the near record-setting Shockwave, but also for Amhas, Renegade, Vortices, and Oakcliff.
Down the east side of the Bahamas, it was a decent reach but never far enough back to get a code sail up. The wind settled a bit at 18 to 25 and as a result it was a very wet ride, by the light of a giant moon that had just started to wane. By Sunday morning we were down to the bottom of Cat Island – we chose to take it to the outside – then we had more wet, fun near-reaching through Sunday and into Sunday night. Demonstrating how much better that point of sail is for high-stability Class 40s compared to conventional boats, we managed to erase a 15-mile lead that SC52 Renegade and J/145 Vortices had and pull in front of them by early on Monday morning. This was as we approached Cuba, and judging from the thundercells building in the moonlight, we knew we were going to get plastered. Nighttime cells in the Caribbean are always interesting; with too much wind on the edges and no wind in the middle and all of it shifting over 360 degrees.
That, however, was not really the bad news – which, instead, was a big shift on the other side. We managed to get enough breeze to pull us within 2 miles of the eastern tip of Cuba by 7 am, but then the breeze shut off for 3 hours before it filled in from south west. Seriously… we had been upwind for 550 miles only to literally reach the part of the course were we would make a 90 plus degree turn to the west and we end up with a wind shift that put the wind blowing straight out of our destination. Meh.
The tracker showed Amhas and Oakcliff as having gone South into the Caribbean, and the forecast called for less breeze down there. We were going to get no leverage out of following them, so we decided to rock hop down the Cuban coast. In the end, they got about the same pressure that we got, and the tactic did not yield any meaningful results for us, but we did get to have a full day of sailing along one of the most beautiful coasts I have ever seen. Well worth the price of admission, and something that maybe a lot more Americans will be able to see soon. Throughout Monday, we continued to play tacking games with Vortices, the one boat that followed our lead down the coast. Not surprising for a J145, they pointed a hell of a lot better than us and gradually legged it out in front of us.
Monday night gave us a chance to get to know our American servicemen as we ended up within two miles of the base at Guantanamo Bay. The boys at Gitmo were unamused at our proximity to their exclusion zone, and they let us know via in no uncertain terms via VHF. I suspect that had it been daylight, they probably would have paid us a personal visit.
Tuesday morning saw the sun rise behind clouds, and saw the breeze clock back to the East, freeing us to finally make some better VMC towards Montego Bay. That continued to midday, when we had the front move through, the sky clear and the wind shift back to the WSW. Yet another solent reach, and we started to chip away at the 14-mile lead that Vortices had built on us. We caught one last tack to the West and then banged the layline from 80 miles out. In an effort to keep up boat speed, Vortices footed off to below the finish line, while we were still making a knot on them, drag racing to the finish. We thought for sure that we had them when they got to the beach a mile or so east of the finish line, but somehow they got lifted at the same time they went into some magical high point mode and they just pipped us at the line.
After a short motor to the dock (did I mention, free dockage?), we were met by our host family carrying a bucket of ice cold Red Stripe…at 3 Am in the morning. I think it is that moment that best shows what this race is all about. Jamaica is one of the most hospitable places anywhere in the world, and the members of the Montego Bay Yacht Club may be the best of all. The restaurant stays open all night as boats arrive, every boat gets a host family that helps out with anything that might be needed, the members staff all the finish line duties, and they throw a cocktail party or dinner for the week of arrival to make sure that you have a chance to hang out and tell tall tales of your seafaring adventures. It is the warmest, nicest bunch of people that I have had the chance to meet in sailing.
The Ocean Racing Anarchy thread on this race started out with a question about the state of this race and its relatively small size this year, and it’s a good question. The state of big boat racing in Florida, the longsuffering economy, and the RORC C600 have all conspired to pull a number of boats away from the bi-annual Jamaica Race. Couple that with – let’s face it – a weak marketing and communication effort over the past few years, and what you have is a decent little fleet – but not what it could or should be.
The reality is that the eastern Caribbean winter circuit is very enticing, but it is also a huge commitment of time and money. In the meantime, the (hopefully) imminent opening of Cuba should create an opportunity to build a mid-Caribbean circuit of three or four races that could follow Key West Race week and offer a lower cost, easier option to get winter racing in awesome waters. I know there are some Anarchists working towards this end, and that the Montego Bay folks are keen to figure out a solution, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with.
I can confirm that the miles down here make it a lot easier to get through a cold winter, and while the Eastern Caribbean would be great, it just doesn’t fit into my schedule or budget. But the Pineapple Cup does, and I’ll be back to do it all over again.
Until next time – Walk good and likkle more.
February 18th, 2015 by admin
A coiled-up fireball of enthusiasm and intensity and one of the smartest sailors you’ll ever meet, Matt Scharl defies labels; the 43 year old commodities trader and math wiz is also a fitness freak and adventurer – and he looks about 20 years old. Despite his financial acumen, Matt spends much of the months between June and October farming soybeans on his own acreage in the middle of Michigan. The longtime shorthander has either won or broken a record for just about every singlehanded race in the Great Lakes, mostly on his neon-green former ride Gamera, an F-25C Corsair. He’s also done well in the double handed Atlantic Cup, winning the last edition in a hard-fought battle and setting up his next big adventure – the Route Du Rhum.
With SA Favorite Mike Hennessey (Dragon) pulling his long-anticipated RdR plug after losing months due to his well-publicized prang of a well-known brick, just two American skippers are left to represent the USA in the world’s most famous singlehanded transoceanic race, both in the Class 40. Since one of them sounds French, we’ll focus on Matt’s attempt at the ultimate singlehanded glory outside the Vendee Globe. He checked in with us a few hours ago from due East of Newfoundland; track Matt right here.
Picture the scene: Lying back on your Fatboy thinking about taking a nap, but it just won’t come. Pan out a bit and you realize that you’re on the ocean, on a boat with every ounce of weight stacked in the back, beam reaching at 13-18 knots on a Farr designed Kiwi Class 40…it’s a Bodacious Dream, no doubt, and the song with the line “How Did I get Here?” comes to mind.
Flash back to Nov, 2012, while Dave Rearick was prepping for the round-the-world Global Ocean Race. I had lunch with Jeff [Urbina, BDX co-founder] one day, mentioning the Route Du Rhum as a possibility once Dave finished his circumnavigation. He thought “Why not? The boat will be there anyway.” When the GOR got pushed back a year or two and Dave went off to fulfill his lifelong dream of solo circumnavigating, I figured the Route Du Rhum opportunity was gone for four years, at least. Then I was told that Dave would be finished in time for me to do the Route Du Rhum.
Upon Dave’s return, the boat’s been gone through with a fine-toothed comb. Parts replaced, fixed, and purchased to get up to snuff for the most competitive race on the calendar. I worked hard to secure sponsorship, getting some personal support and help from friends and family as well as Chicago’s excellent Skyway Yacht Works, but was disappointed to find that, other than those mentioned above, none of the many companies I spoke to saw the value in such a sponsorship. To those who did, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I left alone (not counting my monkey mascot) on Monday for my qualifying passage between Rhode Island and France, and it gives me some time to learn the boat better, test sail combinations and in general get a feel for longish time spent alone. Anyone who knows me knows I spend plenty of time alone, but this time it’s been a little different – I’m leaving behind someone recently met but very special, thankfully she is very close to me in spirit even if I cannot feel her touch.
It took a few days to get in a rhythm, but I’m starting to feel it, moving well, motivated by making as much speed as possible. Thanks to an overheating generator I am learning to love the whine of the hydro-generator, even if that’s had mounting issues too – fortunately, my Macgyvering skills are up to snuff thus far! I generally hate deliveries – hence the trailerable trimaran I owned for years – but this is different. I am not delivering to St. Joe’s or Mackinac City – I am delivering to the Queen of solo racing; to crowds of over a million spectators; to the land where tiny frenchmen race 140-foot trimarans across the ocean alone. I am delivering to the Route Du Rhum, and that’s just fine. I couldn’t really believe it before, but I can now.
A final note: Without the extreme generosity of Gaye and Jeff, there’s a whole pile of guys around the world – as far away as Finland and New Zealand – who are able to do some of the greatest adventures and races in the world. None of us – especially me – will be able to ever thank you enough. We’ll try, but it will still never be enough. So thank you.
I’ll be speaking to Mr. Clean later in the week via Satphone for a Sailing Anarchy Innerview, so feel free to post in the Route Du Rhum thread or hit my Facebook Page if you have anything you’d like me to address.
-Matt Scharl, Skipper
Class 40 Bodacious Dream
- Tags: bodacious dream, Chicago, Class 40, France, Matt Scharl, route du rhum, solo racing, st. malo, yachting
September 4th, 2014 by admin
My second Atlantic Cup truly was a great experience. I love the event for so many reasons – it’s really the only Class40 race in the US, with very special venues and phenomenal organization. Charleston and Newport are great sailing towns with marinas, shipyards, and everything you could possibly need before a regatta, and New York – well, that’s got New York City, and it is a very special experience to approach the skyline from the sea after a few days offshore. Knowing my friends and family were nearby during both the finish and start made it even better.
My Atlantic Cup experience started back in February, when USMMA Sailing Foundation boss Ralfie Steitz offered me the use of the Foundation’s Class40; the pretty grey boat known to many of you as Icarus. I was so flattered by the offer and was looking forward to getting on the boat, but with my winter regatta schedule and the horrible winter in the northeast, I only had two opportunities to sail the boat before the start of leg 1 (including the delivery to Charleston)! At the start of leg 1, we put up our race sails for the very first time. We had three serious problems during this leg. The first was our inexperience with the boat – this certainly hurt us, but also meant that our learning curve was steep as we figured out ways to make the boat go fast. Second, we encountered trouble with our electronics – none of them worked for the first three days of the race and we had a faulty iridium antenna so we couldn’t download any weather information. And third, we blew up our A2 kite during the first day! With all of the trouble we encountered, we managed to keep a positive attitude. I saw how responsive the boat was and began to really understand its potential. All in all, while we would have loved to have had a better result, we were proud that we only finished just over three hours behind the leading boat.
While leg 1 was full of frustration, leg 2 was just the opposite. It was our time for redemption and our sailing was fantastic – our speed was fast and our navigation was spot on – the weather reporting we had from PredictWind’s (one of www.jeffreymacfarlane.com sponsors) high resolution forecasts certainly helped. The race was incredibly tight – I slept for just a single hour and my co-skipper Jake took only two hours rest. I drove the entire time and Jake stayed busy taking care of sail and boat trim. We managed to squeeze out a win over Dragon by just 80 seconds.
While the first two legs of the Atlantic Cup are sailed double handed, the third and final leg – the inshore series – is sailed fully crewed. Making the transition to sailing with five other people is not an easy task, but our fantastic crew made it worth it! We sailed with Phil Garland, Chris Poole, Ross Weene, and Ervin Groove. Phil focused on navigation and main trim. Phil knows the waters of Newport better than anyone and is an incredibly talented sailor. He and I communicate well on the boat and I was so pleased to have another opportunity to sail with him. With Chris’s great match race experience, I asked him to focus on boat-on-boat tactics.
Chris and I both represent Oakcliff but this was the first time we’ve had the chance to sail together, and hopefully it will be the first of many. He made great decisions and was able to help position the boat in strong places. Ross works for Roger Martin and helped design the boat. He trimmed the jib and kite, always keeping his eyes forward, watching to see what needed to be done. Ervin was at mast and helped Jake with the bow. Both of them worked together to make sure the front of the boat stayed organized and they moved very fast. Ervin’s height and strength coupled with Jake’s quickness helped us avoid errors. Together, we won two of the races and took second place for the inshore series.
At the end of the two and a half week regatta, we scored 34 points, tying with Gryphon Solo 2 for first place. Unfortunately due to the tie breaking method, we took second place. Regardless we were pleased with and proud of the result. The Atlantic Cup gave us the opportunity to do some fantastic Class40 sailing close to home and I look forward to sailing in the race again next year. Thank you to all of my sponsors and supporters for making it possible for me to sail in such an exciting event!
June 8th, 2014 by admin
By Saturday, Michael Hennessey’s Class 40 Dragon was finally on a roll in the Atlantic Cup. Tied for first place going into the final weekend of inshore racing in Newport, Dragon got a great start in the first inshore race today, with a great kite hoist leading to a 7 boatlength lead at the turning mark off Beavertail. And then disaster struck; Dragon clipped a big rock just as bowgirl and former SCOTW Emma Creighton went out on the bowsprit to set up the douse. The boat went from 12 knots to zero, knocking the crew off its feet and launching Emma off the bow, though the young Maine native’s badassery knows no bounds, and somehow she held on, and no one was injured on the crew.
The boat is another story however; have a look here and you’ll see what we mean. Cracked keel box, cracked grid frames, wrecked fairing, and cracked glass around the keel entry. Huge bummer on a beautiful Memorial Weekend sailing day, but it could have been much worse.
More info at the Atlantic Cup site here, huge thanks to SA’er “Mister Sail” for the shot of Emma to your left, and to Julianna for the keel shot.
May 24th, 2014 by admin