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Posts Tagged ‘RORC’

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Sydney Gavignet’s Oman Sail Musandem took line honors in the Round Britain and Ireland Race just past noon today, with a final time of 3 days, 3 hours, and 33 minutes (rounding up a touch).  This breaks the existing race record of the Volvo 70 Groupama by days, and beats the nearly twice-as-long Banque Populaire V’s absolute course record by around 16 minutes.  While technically it seems the RBI course may not comport with the WSSRC’s rules on a RBI record, we hope it stands; this is a giant-killing effort that saw a top speed of an incredible 43 knots…just fucking stellar!

One Design Spread

Meanwhile, the Volvo 65s are busting some big misconceptions; the first is that ‘One Design’ always means ‘close racing’; as you can see from the tracker, it doesn’t mean that at all – unless you are one of the three boats bringing up the rear.  Ian Walker is running away aboard Abu Dhabi with Iker and Mich Dej well behind, and the final trio in another time zone.  While generalizing from a single race is silly, it’s interesting to us that two boats at the opposite end of the preparation curve – Azzam with more than a year of prep time and Campos with around a month – are leading, while the boat with the most time on the water (SCA) is fighting for DFL with two other new entries.

The second misconception is about their speed, long thought to be significantly slower than a Volvo 70.  Sure, they’ve got perfect angle/gale force conditions unlikely to revisit this race for decades, but either Walker or Martinez is going to break Franck Cammas’ monohull record.  That ain’t slow.  Neither is the Volvo 70 Monster Project, nearly 100 miles behind the back marker VOD 65s, nor is Brian Thompson’s Open 60 Artemis, which is nearly 200 miles back.

Not Your Daddy’s Class 40

Remember when the Class 40 was designed to sail around the world as a cruiser or racer?  Tough as nails, cost-controlled, and bulletproof, right?  They’ve come a long way, baby – both in speed and in frailty.  Four of the five Class 40s are out, including the brand new Mach 2 Stella Nova and the slightly older but hells-quick Concise, which were both crushing the 50-footers until they bowed out with damage.  Get your shit together, Class 40 designers/builders!

Great shot from Mark Lloyd/www.lloydimages.com

August 14th, 2014 by admin

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Unlike the vast majority of the world’s sailing editors, we stay away from re-printing press releases and mass e-mails.  After all, we’re not lazy piles of crap.  But on a rare occasion, one of ‘em is so good that we have no choice.  Such is the report we got from Team Dongfeng yesterday from the Round Britain & Ireland Race; rather than the wooden and self-serving PR we got used to over the course of the last race, this thing is honest, painful, and brings the fans to the boat, rather than the boat to the fans.  Check it, and watch ‘em on Facebook.  Ironic title from one of the last real storytellers of rap.

Today we broke a sail.

Today our entire comms system went down.

Today we were in 3rd place and dropped to 4th.

Today we have decided that life onboard is not always easy.

In fact, today, it is really quite complicated.

First email from the Volvo Ocean 65 ‘Dongfeng’ boat early this morning reported:

“Difficult conditions last night and this morning. 30 knots. Life onboard complicated. Problems with onboard media system. Difficult conditions to troubleshoot, chances of success no more than 50%.”

Followed by an email from Team Director, Bruno Dubois:

“Just got a call from the boat. We’ve broken a sail, it’s split and completely unusable. Probably doesn’t make any difference in terms of sailing tactics, but not ideal. The media system doesn’t work anymore – they’re fighting to get it back to send pictures and videos. The boat is full of water in the back… One of our Chinese guys is not really in good shape. Team, I’m sure you realise this but it’s quite rough for the people and the equipment out there.”

Twenty-four hours into the 1,800 mile Round Britain & Ireland Race and the pace has been fast and furious. Starting from The Solent in the south, Dongfeng was parallel with Aberdeen in the north of Scotland covering 500 miles by 0900 BST this morning. But with speed, and the weather systems that deliver the strength to propel the boats fast, so comes the potential for damage; and the North Sea delivered boat breaking conditions last night in strong winds and steep seas forcing three competitors to retire, including sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who is living proof age has no limits! [other than the limit that he got his ass kicked and retired -ed]. In the early hours of this morning the team’s Fractional Code 0 ripped, rendering it unusable forcing the team to switch to the large jib – not the optimum sail for the conditions.

A brief phone call with Dubois, Skipper Charles Caudrelier elaborated further on the difficulties onboard. “We are on J1 and, for sure, losing some ground against the others. We are missing Pascal [Bidegorry, who got his finger sliced open and took stitches aboard] for the manoeuvres and with a reduced team we are a little bit slow in the transitions. We made a small mistake while sailing along the coast yesterday and we lost touch with the two leaders. Good news is team spirit is still in tact despite difficulties.”

Dongfeng Race Team is one of the five Volvo Ocean 65s currently flying around Britain and Ireland at a speed of 23 knots [45/KPH]. Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is leading ahead of Team Campos who have pulled out a 20-mile lead over Dongfeng and Alvimedica. Tiredness will be kicking in now after such a rough, opening ride and the rookie Chinese sailors onboard will have to dig even deeper. But this is ocean racing and with three days left anything can still happen.

Track the team here.

 

August 13th, 2014 by admin

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Update: There are few dropouts. Check it!

There’s only one multihull on the punishing 1800 NM course for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, and as you can see from this Lloydie pic, she is on a rampage!  Sydney Gavignet and a mixed pro-racer/Omani learner crew have averaged over 30 knots for the first few hours of the race in 30+ knots of SE’ly breeze that make up the remnant low of Hurricane Bertha. Sydney had already decided to postpone his MOD 70′s start to wait for the worst the breeze when organizers postponed the entire start by a day to keep the big boats from smashing into 50+ knots as they passed the tip of Scotland; as it is, the little boats mostly get screwed; good thing there are only a couple of those!  The change in official start time means that the RBI course record will most definitely fall; it’s one of very few outright benchmarks still owned by a monohull; in this case, Franck Cammas’ Groupama 70.  And if Gavignet can’t beat a Volvo 70′s time with a MOD 70 on any course in any ocean in any breeze, he needs a replacement!  (We kid…if Oman holds together, Syd should easily shave a day or more off Cammas’ 5d21h time).

In the highly anticipated Volvo on Volvo on Volvo on Volvo on Volvo matchup, every boat except Alvimedica has held the lead in the early hours.  140811_SSRBI_Start_037The girls on SCA showed they’re going for it all the time, taking a solid lead at the start, only to be rolled by Team Dongfeng and later, the rest of the fleet.  Now it’s a neck-and-neck battle between Abu Dhabi and Team Campos with Dongfeng just behind, while Alvimedica and SCA have fallen well behind.

 Talk smack in the RBI thread here, and track ‘em all over here. Hit up Lloydie’s Facebook Page to see what else he comes up with in an assortment of helicopters and RIBs as he chases them around the foggy isles for the next week.

August 11th, 2014 by admin

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Post Of The Week

The annual Sydney-Hobart ‘Let Multihulls Race’ thread is raging nicely in the forums, and the rambling discussion turned to the reasons behind the Hobart fleet’s shrinking trend, both in fleet size and worldwide stature.  Compared to the record fleets of recent Fastnets, Caribbean 600s, and Middle Sea races the Hobart is stagnant, even with one of the best Maxi/Canter/Mini Maxi fleets in recent memory on the line.  

Longtime SA’er and master debater ‘Chris 249′ got deep into the reasons for the Hobart’s decline, and his opinion is our Post Of The Week.  Continue the debate in the thread.

The Hobart is very much a big-boat fest these days, whereas when it was more popular the fleet was mainly composed of much smaller boats. That means that very few people can now afford to run a “competitive” boat, as in one that will finish close enough to the bulk of the fleet and among a group of similar boats.

The change can be seen by looking at the Hobart itself over time, and in comparison with the Fastnet both now and then. The fleets used to look quite similar in terms of the proportion of big boats to small boats; now the Fastnet has a vastly stronger small-boat and medium-size boat fleet.

Looking at the last races (and throwing Hobart PHS boats and Fastnet 2H IRC boats in their respective divisions) we see that there is a striking similarity in the number of boats of TP52 size and speed and more in each race. The Fastnet had 24 starters in the Canting and Zero classes (One 100′ supermaxi, TP52s, fixed keel mini maxis, Volvo 60, Swan 60, Farr 52 OD etc) whereas the corresponding classes in the Hobart attracted 23 boats, including three 100′ canters and a 100′ fixed keeler.

But in the next size down (39-46′ IRC racers like Rogers and Kers and big cruisers) the Fastnet had 52 boats, the Hobart just 17. The class after that (Beneteau 45s and 40s, etc) had 89 boats in the Fastnet and 19 in the Hobart.

In the smallest boats the disparity is even more marked; once you get under IRC 1.05-ish, (10m IRC racers, J/109s, Beneteau 36.7, Sydney 36, J/35, old IOR boats of 47′ or less) there’s a staggering 184 boats in the Fastnet compared to 17 in the Hobart!

If you add in the Class 40s and Figaro IIs (one designs I left out of the above calcs as there is no comparable scene in Oz) the proportion of ‘small’ boats in the Fastnet increases even more.

It’s also interesting to look at long-term trends. I found the ’79 Fastnet and ’77 Hobart fleets to compare their composition with the current fleets. At the time, the Hobart fleet (132 boats) was much healthier (compared to today and to populations) compared to the record Fastnet fleet (303 boats).

The Hobart fleet’s composition was also strikingly similar to that of the Fastnet, in terms of boat size and design apart from the fact that Class I (50 to 43 foot racing boats and big old cruisers) was miles bigger in the Fastnet, partly because of the 50-ish boats that did it because of the Admiral’s Cup*. For example if we look at (roughly) IOR 34-30 footers we see 116 boats in the Fastnet and 53 in the Hobart; pretty close to the ratio between overall fleet sizes.

Over time, though, the races have diverged to the Hobart’s cost. In the Fastnet it looks as if the number of “raceboats” over 38′ has actually declined as the fleet has grown and people move to cruiser/racers. The number of boats of 36′-ish and less has stayed static. The growth has been in the 40 foot cruiser/racers like Benny 40s….the sort of boat so many slag off but which keep so much of the sport going.

In contrast the Hobart has a larger number of big race machines, but a vastly smaller number of small boats and a much smaller overall fleet. If the Hobart had maintained the same sort of fleet composition as it used to have, and the same sort of composition the Fastnet still has, we’d see dozens of boats like J/109s, Archie A 31s etc bouncing down to Hobart.

And why have the small boats stopped? Not sure. The Cat 1+ safety requirements have hurt. The accent is also all about the big boats, and there’s no real stepping stone from small boats and small races like there used to be. I think in the last days of the “small boats to Hobart” scene there was a strong (and often expressed) feeling that anything under 36 feet just was not welcome. As another example the CYCA, which used to have a JOG division (= MORC, for boats under 31′) AND a separate half ton class, now bans any boat under 30′ from even doing day races offshore. We have nothing like the Euro/UK quarter ton and half ton scenes or UK JOG, or the smallish OODs of the USA; there’s no replacement for the JOG and half/quarter scenes of yore. No owner-measured IRC certs are allowed so almost no small boat owners spend the extra bucks for full measurement and there’s no PHRF, so for the small-boat owner there’s only golf handicap and therefore no reason to try hard or sail well.

I sold an investment property a few months back and thought of chucking the cash into a boat for the Hobart etc, but decided there was no point when the small-boat numbers have dwindled so much that there’s no one to play with. It’s a vicious circle, especially when no one seems to give a fuck about stopping the spiral. So I race dinghies and boards and will do some local racing; ironically now I’ve moved away from Sydney’s big boat oriented scene I can race my 4kt “SB” again. CBF crewing on big boats as I don’t want to specialise in doing just one thing.

What the Hobart and Fastnet analysis does show, IMHO, is that increasing the proportion of big fast boats, and the emphasis on them, really does nothing to increase the race’s status, viability, fleet size or competitiveness. The idea that putting in big multis will increase interest and therefore numbers falls down, IMHO, when we see that putting in big canters has done nothing to increase fleet sizes and may have reduced them. People are not getting into the race because the fast boats are getting faster….. in fact they are no longer turning up like they used to. It’s no fun getting to Hobart to find that the party is over.

As is so often the case, it’s the much-abused practical boats like Beneteaus that are keeping the sport strong and healthy, and the scene that concentrates on spectacular boats is the one that is sick.

And the Fastnet shows that people WILL still sail offshore in fairly small and cheap boats if they are encouraged, rather than bagged out for sailing 5 knot shitboxes. But there seems to be a big cultural difference between the RORC and CYCA these days.

All just my 2¢ worth, it’d be interesting to hear from Fastnet and Bermuda racers and guys who still do the Hobart.

* 57 boats did the AC but at least 9 or 10 of them were chartered UK boats or boats from France, Holland, Ireland etc which would have done the Fastnet even if there had been no AC.

November 1st, 2013 by admin

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Hannah Jenner checks in from the Class 40 Fastnet Race fleet aboard 11th Hour Racing.  Track the fleet here.

BTW – has anyone noticed that the English seem to have given up on ever getting to the finish line of the Fastnet before all the French have finished, eaten, slept, and eaten again?

 

August 14th, 2013 by admin

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 It’s the only race of this distance that’s been consistently growing over the past few years, with the most diverse fleet of 100+ footers racing anywhere in the world.  The course is gorgeous, the start/finish venue at the Antigua YC is spectacular, and the folks that run it are as helpful as can be.  What more is there to say?  Super-schooner Adela looks to have taken the Spirit of Tradition trophy, while the perpetually top performing canting 50 Privateer leads Bella Mente on CSA at the moment with the roles reversed under IRC.  Phaedo couldn’t pull out the handicap victory over the ass-hauling Paradox, though not for lack of trying; we’ve never seen a Gunboat sailed quite so much like an ocean racing cat.  The Yellowbrick tracker is the best spot to check overall results; look for the ‘leaderboard’ tab on the bottom left of the screen.

February 21st, 2013 by admin

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