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Posts Tagged ‘open 60’

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With both foils extended and the Open 60 getting almost entirely airborne as she gets healthily into the 30+ knot range, Alex Thomson Hugo Boss looks as much like a huge bird as she does an oceangoing yacht.  Hitting a top speed of nearly 34 knots on this reach with never a hint of nosediving, this vid is a great example of the conditions where so-called ‘Dali foils’ absolutely destroy a non-foiler setup.  The video is an instant classic; a great antidote for those who are already tired of the VO65’s somewhat more ponderous ways, and the shoot’s location makes us think that perhaps the Hugo Boss organization has another ‘walk’ coming?

November 26th, 2017 by admin

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The only window most non-sailors will ever get into our sport comes through a movie or TV screen, but only a tiny handful of films have portrayed sailing in anything like a realistic or positive light.  For every Thomas Crown Affair capsize scene or White Squall or Master and Commander gun battle, there are unfortunately dozens of Dead Calms, Waterworlds, Captain Jack Sparrows, or god forbid, “whompers” making sailing look insane and sailors look like idiots – or gilled fishpeople.

So when a documentary has so much interest that it has to add a third and then a fourth showing at a major Midwest film festival and goes on to win the Audience Award at said festival, it’s worth our time to tell you all about it and get you as stoked as we are.  If you’re in Napa for the Film Festival in a few weeks, go and check it out.  if you’re in the entertainment business and want to help a great movie about sailing reach serious audience sizes, get in touch with them and see if you can help find some wide distribution.  And now, since it’s not every day our sport gets portrayed honestly and realistically on the big screen (and since you can’t watch this thing unless you’re actually at the right film festival), we devote a pile of text to three different reviews we received about Coyote, the Mike Plant story.

First, from longtime rock star Midwestern racer Sam Rogers:

Final Frontier

“It’s a pity your son [Mike Plant] was born 100 years too late… there’s no frontiers left.”

There are countless stories about chasing dreams, many of which are cliche’ justifications for unremarkable pursuits. Occasionally, there are stories of chasing dreams that elicit change in people, leaving them inspired and believing they can run through a brick wall.  A recent screening of the newly released documentary – COYOTE – at Twin Cities Film Fest, gripped the community, and with few dry eyes the audience witnessed the life of iconic American adventurer Mike Plant and his dream to become a legendary, around-the-world, solo sailor.

Like his Uncle Mike Plant did at age 34, COYOTE Director Thomas Simmons took an abrupt turn in life, leaving a secure finance job to become a filmmaker and for the purpose of re-telling Mike’s story. Learning on the fly just as Mike did, and piecing together archival footage of Plant during each of his campaigns along with a catalog of informative interviews from family and industry experts, Simmons successfully re-creates the life, challenges and passion of Mike Plant. The film transcends sailing, capturing the essence of chasing dreams and highlighting Plant’s prowess as an adventurer alongside his pioneering sailing career.

The documentary picks up Plant in Newport, Rhode Island amidst the spark for his dream to build a sailboat and race around the globe; a movie – called The Ultimate Challenge – on the 1982-83 BOC Challenge, an around the world sailing race. Confronting Plant’s dark side, Simmons includes his checkered past, highlighted by an incarceration from an outstanding warrant for drug trafficking that puts his solo-sailing dream in peril.  Throughout the film, Plant transforms from a bold rebel with nothing to lose, to a talented solo-sailor that circumnavigates the globe three times, challenging the vaunted French contingent for solo-sailing supremacy.

In a quest to win the 1992 Vendee Globe, Plant commissions a radically designed Open 60, Coyote, and as noted sailing journalist Herb McCormick colorfully comments in the film, Plant and his team “are on a mission from God to kick some French ass.” At this stage, Plant is one of five people in history to solo-circumnavigate the globe three times and his sailing cache’ of talent, courage and fortitude are undeniable.

As Coyote pushes design, technology and boat building technique to the limit – combined with a funding shortage and a deadline to get to the starting line – Plant sails himself into a situation that even he is unable to escape. On October 16th, 1992 Plant departs New York for a routine transatlantic trip to Les Sables d’Olonne, France, for the starting line of the Vendee Globe. Billy Black’s famous photo captures Plant looking back as he blasts off on Coyote, the last image of Plant the world would see.

Despite Plant’s impressive track record, there are some that argue he should have never departed with Coyote – that he was reckless, unprepared and that he should have pulled the plug. Pulling the plug was not an option…Plant accepted the consequences of the life he had chosen, good or bad, as a solo sailor or adventurer is forced to do. Call it reckless, but if Coyote had been successful it would have been a legendary feat and could have spawned a generation of bad ass American solo sailors, much like the impact Bernard Moitessier had on generations of French sailors from his epic display in the 1968 Golden Globe Race.

As the film tracks each of Plant’s campaigns and we clench our jaws wondering when disaster will strike – and if he will beat the French – we also get insight into Mike Plant’s true character.  In his first non-stop Globe Race when he makes a pit stop at Campbell Island near New Zealand to make a repair, which is grounds for DSQ, Plant debates whether to continue racing or retire.  In a solid display of sportsmanship and integrity, Plant radios that he has received help and withdraws from the race.

99% of sailors at this stage would find the nearest safe harbor with a cold beer and call it quits, but despite being disqualified, he finishes the race for the pure sense of adventure while earning the respect of French sailors and scores of sailing fans as he is welcomed back to Les Sables d’Olonne to a huge crowd. Much like Moitessier did decades earlier when he abandoned The Globe race and continued sailing, it seems the races were just an excuse for Plant to be on the water and ride the towering waves of the Southern Ocean.

The parting shot in the film is perhaps the most powerful, as Plant speaks candidly to the camera in what could be considered the first ‘go-pro’ footage. Throughout the film, Plant is asked why he sacrifices everything to chase his dreams at sea, and he repeatedly struggles to provide a solid answer – even showing annoyance with the question at times.  As the credits roll an at-sea shot of a happy, relaxed Mike Plant behind the wheel explains; ‘it’s gorgeous out here’, ‘the ocean is such an incredible color, it’s so deep blue’, ‘the bird life gets better and better everyday’.  While he doesn’t pinpoint his exact reasons, Plant touches on why we all sail; to experience adventure outside of our daily lives, to feel the changing wind and get beyond the rough seas to enjoy the smooth seas, even if short lived.

The next Coyote review comes from Anarchist “QBF”:

Yesterday, I attended the showing of Coyote at the Twin-Cities Film Festival. The audience seemed filled with Mike’s family, friends, supporters, and those who knew him. Having so many people that were close to Mike in attendance allowed me to observe reactions to the film that would not have been otherwise.

The Director of the Coyote documentary is Thomas M. Simmons who is also Mike Plant’s nephew. Mr. Simmons family relationship works well as he was able to have “conversations” with Mike’s family, and not just interviews. A lot of archival footage used throughout the film, and was supplied by Mike’s family, friends, and supporters. A local TV station in Minnesota covered Mike’s races, and also supplied film footage.

The first part of the film is dedicated to Mike’s early years leading up to his involvement with offshore racing. From being diagnosed with very poor eyesight as a youngster and having to were coke-bottle glasses, to dinghy sailing on Lake Minnetonka, to his wilder years as a teen and in his twenties. The film also documents Mike’s involvement as an instructor at Outward Bound, and his journey through South America. The time-line moves to when Mike purchased a boat in Greece, and his involvement in drug smuggling which would come back to haunt him during his qualification sail for his first BOC race which landed him in a Portuguese prison.

Mike’s first BOC race in Airco Distributor was covered well with segments on each section of the course. The loss of Jacques de Roux who was leading Mike on the second leg of the race, greatly effected Mike, and he considered not stopping at Sydney but continuing around.

Duracell was next and the first Vendee Globe race. It was in this race that a rigging part broke forcing him to stop at Campbell Island south of New Zealand. Duracell dragged and Mike received help from some meteorologists there in order to save his boat. A film clip showed Mike informing the race committee of his disqualification. Mike’s continued on to les Sables d’Olonne unofficially finishing seventh, and arriving to a cheering crowd.

The film moves on to the building and loss of Mike’s last boat, Coyote. This was a somber section as everyone knew what was coming.

There are interview segments in the film with Helen Davis (Mike’s fiancée), Mary Plant (Mike’s mother), Julia Plant (Mike’s sister and the author of “Coyote Lost at Sea: The Story of Mike Plant, America’s Daring Solo Circumnavigation”), Tom Plant (Mike’s brother), and audio segments with Frank Plant (Mike’s father).  Interview segments from friends and sailors include Rodger Martin (Designer of Airco Distributor, Duracell, and Coyote), Billy Black (Photographer and Mike’s friend), Philippe Jeantot (Founder of the Vendee Globe), Ken Read (North Sails), Herb McCormick (Executive Editor of Cruising World magazine) and Mark Schrader (BOC Challenge Race Director).

Interview’s with non-family members that were most interesting to me where those of Billy Black who I met briefly in 1999. When I mentioned Mike, Mr. Black was visibly moved. Mike’s loss was still very much alive within him. Hopefully, this film will alleviate that loss. Philippe Jeantot’s words reflected great admiration for Mike, both as a sailor, and as a man.

This documentary is a fitting tribute to the accomplishments, and to the memory of Mike Plant.

The final review comes from Wayzata Community Sailing Center Director Matthew Thompson:

Hopefully you’ve gotten a ton of emails & reviews. Showings have had huge support in MN so far. Here goes:

Full disclosure, I never met or knew Mike. He passed when I was four. His mother Mary was a small (but perhaps larger than I knew) part of my childhood in sailing. A well known face with a supportive smile. I’ve known of Mike’s sailing exploits on some level since I was seven, through his mother and snippets of stories. As I grew older, the rougher side of his coin from folks in our community who perhaps never really saw the life he found after he left MN. One I guess I used to pretend didn’t exist. So he could stay on a pedestal, unmoved from my childhood memory.

I just walked out of the theater, locked in some weird emotional limbo. In my head – I expected an epic tale. Crashing waves, uplifting music, a true sailors battle. While watching the movie, that changed, expecting to feel a true “gutted” moment when we reached the end of his story, where he inspired thousands. Neither really came. I think that’s what really works out of the whole movie. Too often we expect the stories we create to have an impact on someone else, to share it, to proliferate some ideal or sense of adventure. As charismatic as Mike seems to have been, it’s clear that his adventures were not for us. Coyote captures this selfish and unrelenting drive, through humor and the family that was perhaps a bit in tow. It means more than an epic tale could have. Easily the best sailing movie I’ve seen. Not because it provides us with some dream or some epic tale but because I spent tonight feeling confused and torn, but drawn towards the screen. I watched a struggle that has never been truly laid out, from a family of folks who loved him, and walked away considering what I really care about. The loves of his life were unflinching and left him at ground level, as one of us. Thomas captured what we all really want to be able to verbalize about sailing.

Go see it. But don’t expect an epic or uplifting tale. Let it wash over and just listen. I didn’t feel like we were supposed to mourn Mike, but neither did it ask you to celebrate his life. Instead we shared moments with his family, friends, and Mike himself. Its the history we want to hear but often gets drowned out in our collective race to capture every moment. We get to make our choice and play in the grey space.

Coyote is worth every second.

October 30th, 2017 by admin

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On the 21st episode of the Sailing Anarchy Podcast, we go straight to the source for an analysis of the new direction announced last week by the Volvo Ocean Race.  First, Clean updates us on the Podcast’s status, tells us his story of hunting and killing a 300 pound alligator in Charleston, and gives us his view on the new Volvo plans.  Then VOR big boss Mark Turner explains the reasons for their decision to use foiling monohulls for the offshore legs and foiling multihulls for the inshore legs of the two or three races following the next one.  Listen for Turner’s views on what other options they considered, what the new 60 footer will look like and how it is expected to perform, how the new lease model will effect the organization, and why teams have had such difficulty finding major sponsors.  The discussion moves to the timetable for full flying boats to take over the race and safety considerations between mono and multihulls, and finally what kind of events would make up the more permanent annual racing schedule for VOR teams.

Next we spoke to Nick Bice, Director of Boats and Maintenance and founder of the Boatyard, about more technical matters: How, exactly, a new-rules VO60 can be converted to an IMOCA-legal Open 60, what kinds of differences does a Volvo require compared to a singlehanded boat, and a whole lot on foil control systems and logistics for a two-fleet race owned entirely by Volvo.  Clean and Bicey got deep into the subject of the continually shrinking crew component and the impact of this shrinking pool to ocean racing and the sport in general, and plenty more.

Finally, we spoke to pro trimmer and former VO70 crew (ABN AMRO2, 2005) and medical officer George Peet on the anniversary of his crewmate Hans Horrovets’ death about a race that remains very close to his heart.  GP and Clean got deeper into crewing issues with a general discussion of the state of professional offshore racing as well as the usual pull-no-punches analysis of the new classes with a guy who always tells the truth.  As a bonus, we got Bear – one of the nation’s top Moth racers – to give us his America’s Cup picks…

Enjoy, and subscribe to the SA Podcast for more great shit (iTunes, Stitcher) , including our full form guide and preview of the America’s Cup dropping today.

May 27th, 2017 by admin

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There’s only one place in the world where you’d see an 60-foot racing yacht hoisted up on a nation’s most recognizable landmark, and it’s no surprise that place is France.  Go here to find out what’s going on with Initiatives Coeur and the Eiffel Tower this coming May.  Head to the finally-winding-down Vendee Globe thread for more info.

March 22nd, 2017 by admin

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We’re not sure what it is about Conrad “The Crazy Kiwi/Friwi” Colman, but every race he enters becomes an Odyssian epic.  His Global Ocean Race, Barcelona World Race, and now Vendee Globe have been long, grinding, obstacle-strewn voyages, and through conquering them, he’s proved to be one of the toughest sonofabitches in all of ocean racing.  Conrad arrived in Les Sables D’Olonne yesterday after a two-week slog under jury rig to finish his first Vendee Globe, the first by a kiwi skipper, and the first-ever round-the-world finish without using a single drop of diesel or gasoline, and if we could get the busy man on the phone, we might be able to bring you a full debrief.  Until then, we’ll give you the full finish report from his media team.  Photo thanks to BRESCHI/Foresight Natural Energy with a full finish gallery over here.

After being dismasted late on the evening of Friday 10th February, when he was in tenth place and some 250 miles west of Lisbon, Portugal, Colman constructed and stepped a remarkable jury rig which has allowed him to sail the final 740 miles of the 27,440 nautical miles race which started from Les Sables d’Olonne on November 6th 2016. Since he was dismasted in what should have been his last big storm of his race, only three and half days from the finish line where he seemed assured of an impressive 10th place, Colman has run out of food and lasted out his final days on the survival rations from inside his life raft. On Wednesday he confirmed by radio that he had only two biscuits left.

Colman, a trained sailmaker and rigger, set one of the most efficient jury rigs seen in the history of ocean racing, working diligently and smartly to the end to improve the sheeting angles and hence efficiency of the rig which is constructed from his boom, part of his mainsail and his storm jib. Only Philippe Poupon and Yves Parlier have previously completed the Vendée Globe under jury rig, while others, like Mike Golding and Loïck Peyron had to set up jury rigs to bring their boats back to shore. He achieves his goal of becoming the first ever skipper to race solo non stop around the world completing the Vendée Globe using no fossil fuels, only renewable energies, his electrical power generated by an innovative electric motor, solar and hydro generated electricity and stored in a bank of high tech batteries.

Before leaving Les Sables d’Olonne he explained: “The objective is to have it as a reflection of my philosophies. Growing up in New Zealand I was aware of the hole in the Ozone layer there. I converted to become a vegetarian not especially because I care about cute lambs but because I was more concerned about the global impact of the chain, of food production and consumption. And so the project is a reflection of my ideals.”

He also is first New Zealand born skipper to finish the epic solo round the world race, concluding a remarkable storybook adventure which has captivated race watchers from all around the world since long before the start. His finish reflects his incredible tenacity, drive and talent, the culmination of a dream which saw him move from the USA to France over 10 years ago to pursue his goal of competing in the legendary solo round the world race. From pursuing an academic and business career in the USA, where his late father was from, Colman worked different marine related jobs to expand his skillset to a level where he could achieve a competitive finish in the Vendée Globe.

Before the start he spoke of how he had staked his financial future in taking part in the race. He found an unloved IMOCA 60 designed by South African Angelo Lavranos which to date had a chequered, limited racing history where he lived in Lorient, where it was being used for day charter hires, and set about refitting and re-optimising the boat in order that he could realise the boat’s true, untapped potential. Even a matter of ten days before the race start Colman did not have the funds to compete at what he considered to be the very minimum level of participation. But he was determined to go anyway. An absolute last minute call found support from the London based Foresight Group. His boat was only branded two days before the Sunday 6th November start.

On start day he said:  “I feel great. How could I not. It is the start of the Vendée Globe and it is a sunny day. It is a dream I have been chasing for years and years and I have it here in my grasp. It was hard to say goodbye to my wife. I hang my wedding ring in the cockpit so she is always with me.” His spirit and skills have been tested in equal measure and on many occasions he has overturned situations which would have ended the Vendée Globe of lesser sailors. Even just days into his race he found an innovative way to repair a keel ram problem which jeopardised his race. An electrical fire damaged the wiring on his Foresight Natural Energy which sent his autopilots haywire. In one incredible 12 hour period he climbed his mast three times, spending hours aloft to repair sails.

The 33 year old has made mast climbing an almost commonplace skill among his extensive personal armoury of abilities required to compete in the Vendée Globe, despite the fact it was a fall from the top of a mast which took the life of his father whose legacy Colman holds dear.

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, near to the most remote point on the race course, Colman was caught in the path of one of the biggest storms of this race. His forestay, which holds up the mast, became detached when a pin failed. His IMOCA was knocked flat and stayed over for some hours in huge seas and winds gusting to 40-45kts. He took four days to recover, replacing the forestay, finally losing touch with Nandor Fa, the Hungarian skipper with whom he raced the 2014-2015 on Fa’s Spirit of Hungary who went on to take eighth place.

Conrad Colman’s remarkable Vendée Globe

9th November Conrad Colman is a Political Sciences graduate of the University of Colorado. He reacted to the news of the election of Donald Trump. “It is a bit of a shocker. I thought my uncle was playing a joke on me when the news came through. It makes me happy to be out here.”  Colman, 17th, conceded a place to Louis Burton after sailing close to him approaching Madeira. “It is great being at sea, getting to know the boat after three weeks not sailing together. It took a little while to get into the groove. It’s good to be able to learn against Louis who has a slightly newer boat.”

11th November He ended up closer to Madeira than he had hoped. “The local effects of the island really slowed me down. I had been trying to pass over the top of Madeira and really got stuck there. I got sucked in by the shifting winds.”

12th November I hoisted my heavy weather furling spinnaker (which means it’s rolled up around a flexible cable). Just before I finished hoisting, the sail started to unfurl. I had to continue hoisting quickly otherwise I risked breaking the rope and losing the sail into the water.

The time that it took to top of the sail however, all hell had broken lose at the bottom. Because the sail had unrolled prematurely, the furling unit blocked and wrapped itself up in a collection of tack line, furling lines and sheets to create a thick bar tight multistrand cable with an angry sail on the end of it. It took me over four hours of non-stop work to rig another line to secure the sail.

15th November It is very much a course of learning by doing. That is one of the advantages of ocean racing is that you have plenty of time to sort things out, to learn and try different scenarios. So I have been trying different sail set ups, different ways of trimming. The boat is good upwind and downwind, reaching is not so good.
16th November Leak in the hydraulic system
18th November Out of the Doldrums. “It was easy in the Doldrums – I never stopped, my strongest squall was about 30kts.”
22nd November Four rookies in this part of the fleet put the pressure on the more experienced rivals around them – Frenchmen, Fabrice Amedeo and Stéphane Le Diraison, the Japanese sailor, Kojiro Shiraishi and the New Zealander, Conrad Colman are only a few miles apart.
25th November Climbs the mast to replace some lashing. “Going up the mast is the worst job to do onboard the mast. It’s really scary, it’s really dangerous. You’re 100ft or 30 metres up in the air, so the slightest movement of the boat or the smallest wave sends the tip of the mast swinging through an enormous arc and the thing that’s really tricky is there’s no-one here to help us climb to the top. Every time I come down I’m heavily bruised because of the violent movement at the top.”
Duel with Nandor Fa.
28th November At the latitude of Porto Alegre, struggling in light winds sometimes down to below six knots. “I’m fed up with the highs.”
2nd December Conrad celebrates his 33rd birthday. “I’m celebrating my birthday by doing the Vendée Globe. I’m also celebrating by eating salad. It’s made up of beansprouts, and I’m really excited to have fresh salad onboard. My wife also made me a special birthday food box containing some crusty dehydrated astronaut ice cream, which actually tasted terrible.

4th December Knocked flat. “An electric bypass destroyed one of the solar charge controllers and it damaged the electric cables next to it. It stopped the electronics and thus the pilot, and I lost control of the boat as I wasn’t at the helm. By the time I got there the boat was on its side and the gennaker in the water.”

“I saw black smoke and yellow flames leaping from behind the chart table. One of the solar charge controllers was burning and was in the process of taking down the entire electrical system. When the flames were gone I heard one beep from the autopilot and my world turned upside down. the boat bore away from the wind and did a crash gybe with me still inside, hands full of molten plastic.”

8th December “I feel a little like I’m sitting on death row and my fellow competitors have already been taken to have their last meal. It’s emotional and shocking to hear about Kito’s rescue and to think that for the third time in a row he won’t make it back to Les Sables under his own steam.”

Losing oil from hydraulic ram. Electronics problems. Had to climb the mast again to repair damaged solent.

16th December Pacific storm. Two reefs and small jib and still reaching peak speed of 27 knots.

18th December Crosses the longitude of Cape Leeuwin. “As a Kiwi I cannot going celebrate going past Australia too much. I always think Cape Leeuwin is the runt of the litter when it comes to the three Capes. It does not belong in the same company as the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn.”

27th December After working on his autopilot problems, Conrad had to prepare to face a storm. 36 hours of violent winds and the need to be quick to remain ahead of the worst conditions. His boat was knocked down and he ripped his J2.

2nd January 60 knot gusts. Damage to standing rigging. (forestay pin) Had to wait for quieter weather to carry out repairs. 3 days of work. Exhausted after doing that in 40 knot gusts and then continued towards the Horn. Boat knocked down during the storm and another sail shredded. “Physically I am shattered. Emotionally I am very disappointed I felt like I was doing everything right, I was sailing very conservatively at the time, I was let down by a technical failure.”

12th January Colman rounded Cape Horn in 10th place at 0416 UTC after 66 days, 16 hours and 14 minutes

21st January Slow climb back up the coast of South America due to weather conditions and lack of sails.

30th January At 0845UTC Colman returns to the northern hemisphere

31st January Happy to be out of the Doldrums

5th February Looking forward to the final straight. Hard to find the route back across the North Atlantic. “My route to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne looks like a dog’s breakfast, a smorgasbord of options. I can either get hit on the head really hard, or get hit on the head really, really hard. I can go upwind in 40kts or downwind in 50kts. It is not an easy choice.”

7th February After passing Madeira, back in European waters.

10th February 2200UTC dismasts 300 miles off the coast of Portugal. Waited for calmer conditions before inspecting the damage. Had to repair his boom to use it as a jury rig.

24th February Takes sixteenth place


February 26th, 2017 by admin

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Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 7.32.26 PMUnless Conrad Colman can figure out a jury rig and slog it out to the finish, the elusive ‘first non-fossil fuel Vendee Globe finisher’ may have to wait four more years, as today the Friwi dismasted just 300 nm from the Portuguese coast.  According to VG media, Conrad ditched the rig and saved the boom, and is sorting out the mess as he and his team figure out the next step.

Latest on the final few finishers in the thread, and note that Conrad’s likely to have a truly epic write-up of his saga on Facebook when the time comes.


February 10th, 2017 by admin

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What do the Vendee Globe champion, the Volvo Ocean Race winner and the solo mono 24 distance record holder all have in common? They all trust one company to keep them warm and dry wherever the hell on the globe they find themselves.

Armel Le Cle’ach and his entire Banque Populaire team stood out amongst the throng in the Vendee start village with their smart and sexy shoreside Musto gear, while Armel showed just how smart he is offshore with a brilliant, textbook race that let him finish some unfinished business.   Congratulations to both Armel and Alex and to Musto – pwning offshore for generations. Learn more at Musto’s site.

January 20th, 2017 by admin

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vendee winner

UPDATE: French sailor Armel Le Cléac’h has today won the Vendée Globe, setting a new record for the solo non-stop round the world race in the process. Le Cléac’h, 39, from Brittany, crossed the finish line of the race in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, at 1537hrs UTC after 74 days, 3 hours, 35 minutes and 46 seconds at sea on his 60ft racing yacht Banque Populaire VIII.

His time sets a new record for the race, beating the previous record of 78 days 2 hours 16 minutes set by French sailor Francois Gabart in the 2012-13 edition by 3 days, 22 hours and 41 minutes. Le Cléac’h, the runner-up in the 2008-09 and 2012-13 editions of the Vendée Globe, covered 24,499.52 nm at an average speed of 13.77 knots during the race, which began from Les Sables d’Olonne on November 6 last year.

Armel benefitted significantly from the early-race foil breakage of what most believe to be a much faster design in Hugo Boss, but despite Alex Thomson pushing Armel as hard as maybe any human could have, we once again will have to wait another four years for the chance of a non-French winner to emerge from this quintessentially French race.

We continue to be amazed at Thomson’s ability to remain glued to Le Cle’ach’s transom for the better part of 70 days despite the damage to his boat, but Le Cle’ach played the game more as a wise owl than a sneaky jackal, and sailed a masterful covering match race from Cape Town all the way home.

While Armel had all the pressure of the favorite, once again, Alex has proved he belongs in the solo racing Hall of Fame with the performance of a lifetime.  Beating his own 2012 race time by nearly 10 days and setting the Vendee Globe and outright solo monohull 24 hour distance record in yet another edition (only exceeded by four crewed boats in the record books), Thomson really is the only hope for taking the title away from the French – and only if he comes back and gets it right, this time without the bad luck.  Photo © Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / VENDEE GLOBE

Ask Alex and Armel ANYTHING!  We are 99% sure that we’ll be doing audio or video with both these top dogs in the next day or two for the Sailing Anarchy Podcast, and as usual, we like your questions better than our own.  Ask Alex and Armel your own questions in this new thread and we’ll see if we can get them answered.

Join the Vendee thread for the latest chatter.

Title should to the movie adaptation of a classic Forsyth spy thriller.


January 19th, 2017 by admin

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No French solo sailor has more personality than “Le Roi” Jean Le Cam, and he’s in good spirits as he passes the Horn on the last day of the year.  Watch from about 1:10 to see him wrestle verbally with his Osmo camera’s auto-spin function, and go to the JLC facebook page to see dozens of great Vendee Globe cartoons.


December 31st, 2016 by admin

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15542407_2171604479732111_3482903604691254755_nDefying the odds – and the rapidly disintegrating Open 60 Le Souffle Du Nord, Thomas Ruyant has thankfully made it to port at the Southern tip of Kiwiland.  Stuart MacLachlan posted the first shot of his first sleep in a long time; there has rarely been a more hard-earned rest after the front fell off…

Also Ram

In other news, it looks like fourth place Paul Meilhat may have run his race as well, but unlike Ruyant, Meilhat is as far from rescue as is possible on Earth. the winning 2012 boat – now called SMA – seems to have a cracked keel ram cylinder.  As of an hour ago, his team posted (as translated by Gtrans): “This afternoon at 3:15 pm French time, Paul Meilhat contacted his team to report a problem of keel ram. The cylinder was cracked for 40 centimeters and resulted in the rocking of the keel downwind of the boat…It was after a suspicious noise at the beginning of the afternoon that the skipper of SMA went to inspect his well of keel. He immediately realized that the oil in the hydraulic circuit had flooded the cylinder compartment. He first suspected the rupture of a pipe of the hydraulic circuit, before finding a crack of 40 centimeters on the cylinder itself.”

Meilhat is roughly 2000 miles East of New Zealand, and if he can’t lock down the keel, the situation could quickly become dire.  Monitor in the thread.

December 20th, 2016 by admin



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