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Posts Tagged ‘elvis’

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Pro racer and team boss Chad Corning checked in after the ubiquitous Gunboat 62 Elvis made her Caribbean 600 debut this week.  Check the video following the story for the Race Wrap reel from a brutal C600 that knocked out more than half of the entrants, and props to Mojo Nixon for the song that kept Elvis famous long after he stopped deserving it.
We’d heard good things about it: A fast race with lots of reaching, great scenery, and solid winds in a warm climate. Sounds perfect, right? Team Elvis was excited to finally take a crack at the RORC’s Caribbean 600 this year.
Alarm bells started ringing about a week before.  Long term forecasts showing colors from the angry red side of the palette with a sea state to match.  If anything, the forecasts were low and the race became a heavy-air war of attrition.
We had a few good days of training where we worked on perfecting reef-in,reef-out, tried different heavy-air sail combos and broke all sorts of bits.  When race day dawned, we felt reasonably well-prepared, and after some final comparisons of routing times with our neighbors (a favorite activity leading up to the race) and some gallows humor-style jokes, we pushed off for the start.
Conditions were as they would be for much of the race, 22-30 knots TWS, 3+ meter waves, with a nice squall mid-sequence to get everyone in the mood.  Leg 1 is a short 8 mile beat up to the eastern end of Antigua, with spectacular visuals sailing through the fleet here, with the feisty sea state and the hills of Antigua creating a dramatic backdrop.  Once around the east end, the first of many power reaching sections began, with a 35 mile slide down to the Barbuda mark.  Elvis may have loved it but it was quite hard on the guys, especially those trimming in the forward cockpit.  Firehose spray and frequent filling of “the bath” to mid-shin made the forward trimming a character-building experience.  Since we put tillers on the boat the helmsman took it on the chin quite a bit as well.  I’d always thought those helmets with visors the Volvo guys wore looked like maybe a bit much, but all of a sudden, I got it.   My preferred position?  Mainsheet and traveler under the roof, cozy and dry(ish!).
Once around the Barbuda mark, we put the A6 on and began the 50 mile VMG run down to Nevis.  We were in company with Warrior and Proteus while Rambler 88 and the [ORMA with fridges -ed] Paradox were busy sailing over the horizon.  Proteus seemed to be exploding spinnakers as fast as she could put them up, and Warrior was on a hard luffed sail so we were able to slide by both by sailing lower with our soft-luffed A6.  As we congratulated ourselves on a great leg we found the A6 lock had failed causing us to run off and to get it down thus losing all our gains!
Once sorted out, it was back to more power reaching for 50 miles to the next mark at Saba.  We slid into the lee of the island and had a chance for a short breather after a very wet leg.  The respite would not last long as Saba brewed up some huge katabatic gusts and rolled them downhill at us like a giant in a Sinbad film.  A couple of lifting gusts pegged the dial over 40 knots so we were on high alert, especially after facing very similar conditions resulting in a near-capsize at Les Voiles a couple of years back.  Armed with the PTSD from that brown-trousers moment, we were most definitely on our toes.  It was with relief that we got through to more stable winds on the other side as we began the 30NM-beat to St. Barths.
As we were pounding away upwind, navigator Artie Means noticed a PLB light up by Saba.  We thought it may have been Proteus who looked to have abandoned the race just then but tragically it turned out to be our good friends on Fujin, who had probably been caught by one of the big katabatic gusts in the lee of Saba and had capsized.  Brad Baker’s excellent account of the incident is here, and we give our kudos to the very professional crew on the all-black Ker 56 Varuna and the team on the Gunboat 60 Flow who both stood by until the team was safe and the boat was headed to harbor.
All the way to Saba we had been looking at Fujin on AIS and pushing the boat at near 100% of polars to try and stay ahead.  It was a very sobering moment to realize just how wrong things can go and we were happy to lift off the gas pedal a bit and keep things in one piece for the rest of the race.  We’ve really enjoyed the rivalry with Greg and the Fujin team over the years, and wish them well in getting the boat back online.

Once around St. Barth’s, there are a couple of zig zags around St. Maarten and Tintamarre before the long, 150-mile blast reach down to Guadeloupe.  This is the leg we were licking our chops for but fatigue had begun to set in and the firehose reaching had become less then fun, especially for those helming and up front.  Though a tad unpleasant it went by quickly and we found our way to the next big hurdle of the course, getting through the massive lee of Guadeloupe.  There were as many opinions as people on the dock on how to get through here but we seemed to get off easy – coasting through the light patch about a mile offshore with just enough time to make a pot of coffee and heat up the lasagna (finally).  The beat up to Desirade was less than pleasant with a large left shift making port tack head right into the big seas, which our boat (heavy with a lot of rocker) did not particularly enjoy.  More power reaching past Antigua (unusual amount of “let’s take a left here” jokes) to the Barbuda mark was next, followed by a couple hours of VMG running before the final 33-mile beat into the finish.

Elvis crossed the line behind Paradox (line honors), Rambler 88 (mono line honors) and the turbo Volvo 70 Warrior (ex-Camper) finishing after dawn on Wednesday, with an elapsed time of around 43 hours.  Jason has had the vision to turn Elvis into a magnificent machine and she took all that we threw at her in the race with ease.  Just the halyard lock and one winch button as far as gear failure goes, otherwise the boat was flawless in a race that destroyed containers-full of equipment among the fleet.  It was a rough race and hats most definitely go off to the boys on the Seacart 30 Morticia who got it around the course as well as all the smaller boats who couldn’t have had an easy time of it.  It was a race that was rewarding to finish and, with the short memory that most offshore racers are blessed with, most will be back for another go around one of the world’s best racetracks.

March 1st, 2018 by admin

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SORC once again delivers on one of the quickest races in the land, this time, a recordbreaker.  From Chris Woolsey (and go here for more great photos from Marco Oquendo and the SORC media team):

Every so often, the weather gods deliver the famous conditions that bring people back to the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race year after year after year. For starters, winter storms up north usually have folks looking to points south by the time the new year rolls around. South Florida and the warm waters of the Gulfstream always provide a welcome place to thaw out. Couple that with the South Florida winter cold front cycle of a new blast of NE breeze every few days, which allow high speeds on nice waves down and around the bend of the Florida Keys to the Happy Place known as Key West, and you have a recipe for something more fun than shoveling snow and crossing items off of the honey-do list.

So it goes to figure that those blasting conditions would coincide with the race date roughly every other year, delivering racers to Key West overnight as quickly as (I Dream of) Jeannie can fold her arms, blink and say “Pepe’s!” As is sometimes the case, those conditions were a bit overdue, with the last all-out downwind romp coming in 2007. Those who made it for the 2017 running, hosted as always by Lauderdale Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club, finally got a treat.

As a result, David and Peter Askew, and their all-star crew (including AC legend Marco Constant, Star world champ Phil Trinter, Artie Means, Ralf Steitz, Chris Larson, and half the Alvimedica VOR team) on the Reichel Pugh 74 Wizard romped across the finish line in record time, and pushed Carrera’s 2005 monohull record run to second-best by a few minutes. Jason Carroll’s warhorse Gunboat 62 “Elvis”, with Anderson Reggio navigating, crossed a few minutes later to take the overall quickest time (thanks to a later multihull class start), but never threatened Stars & Stripes record pace of last century. The happy crew revelled in letting the big cat get out and really stretch her legs in the fresh conditions.

The rest of the fleet is still rolling in and we may yet see some surprises in the results. Hook in, hold on and stand by.

 

January 12th, 2017 by admin

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Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 11.15.04 AM2-time Melges 32 World Champ Jason Carroll doesn’t do things by halves, and he poured a small fortune in upgrades into the well-worn Gunboat 62 Elvis over the winter in preparation for an active 2016.  Ryan Breymaier took the Navigator’s award last week guiding the big cat from Lauderdale to Key West.  Here’s RMB’s first (of many) high-speed reports from 2016:

The forecast was for northerly 15 knots at the start and easterly at the finish, which would have meant short-gybing all the way from Lauderdale in order to avoid the worst of the Gulf Stream current; not the forecast we were looking for, considering that Elvis has been modified with 4 meters more rig, a longer boom and a longer bowsprit in order to power the boat up and fix persistent lee helm.

The end result of the mods is that the boat has 50% more mainsail and 55% more downwind sail, with a roller-furled, tight-luff gennaker replacing a spinnaker in a sock. We were afraid that we would not have quite enough power in the VMG conditions with a tight-luff sail and would have bad gybing angles resulting in about a thousand gybes down the course.

The boat also has bigger winches to deal with the sailplan, a real traveller and hydraulic mainsheet (instead of a bridle mainsheet to the transom corners), and the secret weapon; tillers which allow steering from outside instead of the wheel inside just aft of the mast – which is ideal for communications and comfort, but not at all for feel.

Start day dawned exactly as predicted with a nice northerly. We happily got our favored pin end and headed offshore on port with the big A3 pulling nicely.  We even lifted a hull as we crossed the line! Regardless of the adverse stream, there was more wind offshore and we wanted to avoid the wind shadow that is often found near the Miami skyline.  This was an immediate split from our main competition, the newly launched Arethusa, 60 feet of Nigel Irens-designed Gunboat. They outweigh Elvis by around 8000 pounds, but have a big mast and the soft luffed full-size kite which we feared would be our undoing.

As Arethusa (and most of the fleet) headed inshore, we made a couple of short gybes and stayed in the pressure offshore, especially in light of the approaching transition zone which we could see in the cloudline ahead.  Sure enough, we ran into the clouds and were rewarded with an earlier than expected easterly shift and pressure.  We started to soak, but not too much in order to keep the speed advantage given by luffing slightly with our tight luffed sail.  Elvis loves this; we were sailing between 2 and 5 knots faster than the breeze at 130 TWA.

After a little while the northerly tried to reassert itself so we went back inshore to consolidate and cemented about a 4 mile lead.

We had been watching the radar further down the course, where there was plenty of squall and rain activity.  This is classic KW race behavior, with the northerly on the north side of the keys fighting against the easterly breeze offshore.  As the squall line  showed itself to be just South of the lower keys, tactician Anthony Kotoun and I agreed to gybe back inshore in order to get into it as late as possible.

We were rewarded with a huge northerly shift as we got to the beach with the TWD going from 75 to 350 in the space of about 5 minutes.  We were on starboard so we just bore away and found ourselves headed SW in the perfect direction down the rhumb line, but directly into the squalls.

As we came into the first rain the breeze came up quickly and we eased sheets to stay on course and peeled to our Screecher/FRO, and one of those spectacular runs you hope for came together; 30 knots of boatspeed at the peak, with about an hour around 25.  Awesome crew work from the Elvis crew through 3 headsail changes and reef in and out allowed us to stay at full speed, putting a further 8 miles on our competition.  That’s when we decided to do some monohull hunting, looking for Wizard and Spookie, who had started half an hour ahead of us.

As we finished the last 25 miles of the race we realized that Wizard had the VMG edge on us (to be expected as they are 70 feet or so and very well-sailed) and that we were just slightly faster than Spookie who we passed in the channel heading up to Key Weird.

Unfortunately for the more awake amongst the crew, we arrived a couple hours after last call and so had to content ourselves with a big lunch and even bigger evening the next day.

I am definitely looking forward to getting to the Heineken regatta where there promises to be a big Gunboat fleet to line up against, as well as the awesome dock parties which I am confident we can also win, especially given all the training the boat’s built-in rum pump has given us all!  The Elvis team are a great crew; sailing regularly with the same core team shows in the quality of teamwork on the water. It’s also been a lot of fun for me to reunite with some guys I haven’t sailed with since college 13 years ago – a great way to start the 2016 racing year.

Ryan out.

January 18th, 2016 by admin

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The influx of knowledge and skill pouring into the Gunboat fleet over the past five years was blatantly apparent during a picture-perfect week in Sint Maarten for the 2015 Heineken Regatta, and Richard and Rachel captured the feel of the Caribbean’s most picturesque regatta well.  Two-time Melges 32 World Champ Jason Carroll barely held off professional A-Cat World Champ and multiple F-18 champ Mischa Heemskerk with both skippers sailing to the limits of the multi-million dollar cruisers, and both teams already thinking about next year’s rematch.

They (thankfully) didn’t shoot what we love most about SXM – the insanely hot French and Dutch girls, the cheapest and best wine and alcohol in the Caribbean, and drug-addled all-night parties from one end of the island to the other.  Nope – you’ve gotta come racing for all that.  If you don’t have a boat, give this chick a call.  She’ll get you some silverware and her crews are no strangers to debauchery.

 

April 6th, 2015 by admin

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Les Voiles De St. Barth continues to provide one of the best all-around regattas around, provided you can afford it.  Here’s another spectacular drone video from the boffins at Pigeon Vision who are pushing sailing drone coverage further than anyone we’ve seen yet; be sure to watch it through right to the end or you’ll miss the best part of the vid.  There’s also a mediocre event-sponsored vid here, and a completely unrelated but awesome drone vid here.  Then check out Sam Roger’s story below on the hard-charging team of Gunboaters aboard Jason Caroll’s Elvis at Les Voiles.  Carroll, Chad Corning, Scotty Bradford, Dave Allen,  Dave Hazard, Weston Barlow, Anthony Kotoun, John Baxter and Sam Rogers nearly made the headlines for all the wrong reasons, but continued the Elvis tradition of pushing everything – on and off the water – to the redline.  Check out more from Sam at 42 Marine.

Growing up in tornado prone Minnesota, there are a few safety measures engrained in one’s psyche when summer weather sirens begin to sound.  If caught indoors, find a stable structure to ride out the storm; a basement, bathtub or when all else fails, a doorway. While racing the 62 ft Gunboat Elvis at Les Voiles de St. Barths this past week, I didn’t imagine a scenario where deploying tornado safety measures would be needed, but on a windy Day 3, when danger found us, I found the doorway.

For cruisers and racers alike, Gunboat catamarans are an appealing option. For cruisers, the modern, chic layout and design both inside and out allow the boat to hold its own in the swankiest harbors in the world, with a brand that’s known throughout the yachting world. Staterooms are comfy and roomy, there are plenty of nooks for relaxing, and as the many who have stepped foot aboard Elvis know, there is space for a sizeable party, complete with an impressive sound system, disco lights, and a dance-inducing 16-gallon rum tank and tap.

At 62 ft long, 30 ft wide, with carbon fiber throughout and a full compliment of racing sails, Elvis easily goes from Grand Ballroom to Grand Prix, capable of sailing 15 knots upwind and rumbling into the high 20s when cracking sheets.  As a sailor used to fast boats but without the leverage of being 30 ft wide when heeling 10 degrees, or having lead underneath them and simply waiting it out when a wipe-out occurs, the Gunboat sent me accroos to the lap of Anthony Kotoun when lifted 60 foot of starboard hull out of the water for the first time.  The comfortable mix of cruising and white knuckle sailing attracts owners like Jason Carroll who are looking for more than a standard racer/cruiser.

Our practice session and the first two days were in 11-15 kt tradewinds with moderate seas that gave Voiles competitors idyllic Carribean racing in and around the surrounding islands of St. Barths. Racing the Elvis at full steam took the max effort of 9 capable sailors, as we ran the gamut of our sail inventory on the winding courses.  The bow team was busy on the trampoline completing sail changes, as well as the pit/trim team managing sails, dropping and raising boards and pushing to maintain max vmg at all times. With a favorable rating on a Seacart 26, we found ourselves with two 2nds, and 2nd overall heading into the lay day.

The lay day is exciting moment for sailors. For some it provides a relaxing evening followed by a day of exploring which is often not afforded at most regattas, and for others it essentially is a hall-pass for a night on the town without a harsh wake-up for boat call.  After a fun night at Baz Bar, we posted up at noon for a regatta sanctioned “lunch” at the famous Nikki Beach, gawked at the menu listing 30,000€ bottles of champagne, and washed down our body surfing sessions with magnums of Rosé.  Yes, Rosé, its what they do in St. Barths, and we were in no position to question it.  If we knew what was awaiting us on the racecourse the next day, we may have opted for a pot full of calming herbal tea.

Sipping our coffee on the morning of day 3 from the perch of our villa, we could see the Trades were in full effect, and the Carribean at full noise.  With my experiences on Elvis being new, different and very smooth up to this point, I had veiled excitement as we headed to the racecourse; I did not know enough to be nervous.  With the wind instruments reading 25-28 and monster seas rumbling through the straight between St. Barths and St. Maarten, it was enough to drop the rig on the mighty 72 ft. Bella Mente.  Still not fully grasping the potential of the Elvis in this condition, we hoisted sails and put her on the wind.

Once sheeted on, the speed ticked up quickly, and from the comfort of Anthony’s lap, I felt our starboard hull lift for a few moments, then gently touch down.  Racing 38 ft scows that can touch 25 kts on a lake and easily capsize, or a Melges 32 down big waves in big breeze does not make me nervous.  The magnitude of racing a 62 foot Gunboat with the potential to tip over in big waves in the Carribean Sea made me nervous, and I instantly felt the weight of this for the first time.  With a monster puff descending on us and entering it unprepared on a fat angle without sheets ready to ease, we lifted off again but this time we kept going, with the heel angle reaching 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 degrees….

It was a forgone conclusion that we were going over as the worst case scenario loomed. With some braver team members reaching for their knives and winches to cut sheets or find a last ditch effort at salvage, others braced for impact, and when we reached the point of what I thought was no return, I found the nearest place to ride out the situation which happened to be the windward cockpit door frame, finally putting my childhood tornado education to use.

From our estimation, and from a handful of other sailors who witnessed our starboard hull rising from the water the heel angle reached somewhere in the low 40s before it stopped, held for a few moments, and quickly descended back into favorable numbers, like 0.  As the Elvis sat for a few moments, sails totally luffing, our team stared at each other in a mix of nervous laughter, and total shock that we were still floating upright.

Seeing steady breeze in the high 20s, the Bella rig go down, and potentially our near capsize, the always fearless Carribean/French RC sent all racing boats to shore for a postponement.  With every crew-member wound like a coiled spring ready to explode at any back-pat, sound or hint of trouble, we motored to Columbie’ (a beautiful beach lined natural harbor around the corner from Gustavia). Once we got settled, the team quietly separated to different areas of the boat, reflecting on what went wrong, what could have been, and how fortunate were to have our only damage be bruised egos.

In the end, our momentary lack of respect for the boat and conditions got us close to capsizing.  Being too cavalier, pushing the boat at 100% while not being prepared with having everyone in their racing positions, with someone calling puffs full time, and the driver and trimmers ready to react to the smallest wind increase or direction change was careless, and we fully understood that.  The Gunboat is a very fast, exciting boat that can be sailed in big heavy seas, but if a team is going to push it as hard as we intended, everyone needs to be on high alert any time the sails are trimmed; you can’t race this boat in the same way that you party on it.

With a few hours at anchor to calm our nerves, thank our respective spiritual leaders and share some more nervous laughter, we headed back out at 2:30 for a start in a breeze that had died slightly.  Pushing the boat at 85%, we completed the course and slowly got our confidence back to tame Elvis in 20-25 kts.

The final day saw similar conditions, and using our experiences from the day prior, we came to the racecourse more prepared, pushed harder, and enjoyed the sailing.  Once the magnitude of the boat and the conditions were fully understood, the Elvis seemed perfectly at home in similar conditions that caused us trouble a day earlier. With satisfaction that we could push the boat hard and get it back to the harbor in once piece, we returned to our mooring in Columbie’, relaxed on the comfortable layout of Elvis, put on some reggae, clicked on the ice maker and watched the gauge on the rum tank slowly go down.

After an amazing week of Red-Lining our sailing and on-shore activities on the Elvis team, it is very apparent St. Barths and Gunboat sailing are a stellar combo.  It might just be the perfect place for the first ever Gunboat World Championships in 2016…who’s in?

 

April 21st, 2014 by admin

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As long as Gunboat doesn’t get bored of spending money on creative video teams like Rachel and Richard, we promise we won’t get bored of watching them.  This one’s a fun look at Jason Carroll’s Gunboat 62 Elvis at the Heineken.  Title shout to Mojo Nixon; listen to the ultimate Elvis tribute in their 80’s punk classic here.

 

March 17th, 2014 by admin

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