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Posts Tagged ‘round-the-world’

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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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Francis Joyon and the crew of IDEC Sport are doing incredible things out there as they blaze their way to a likely smashing of the outright round-the-world record.  After watching the video above, we are, quite simply, in awe, and praying for no record-ending problems.  There’s up-to-the-minute info in the thread, and a nice graphical interface for the trip here.  Below is a translation from SA’er ‘Laurent’ of the latest info regarding light air and repairs:

“We are in some kind of ridge that is regenerating itself as we progress. Eventually, two wind systems from the general direction of South East will merge and become the true SE Trades wind. We should be able to use it up to the Equator. We should escape from the current light variable winds sometime in the middle of the night.
 
“We had some computer problems. We fixed the bow and then the mainsail traveler. We had to dismantle it and put it back together. The gennaker furler drum freed itself and dinged the hull in a dozen places. I fixed the small holes to make sure that the honeycomb will not get torn off by waves. We took advantage of the light winds to fix everything. One hour wasted now does not delay our crossing at the Equator. Whether we go fast or not right now does not really matter.
 
“We go fast because the guys cannot help themselves… As soon as there is a puff, they trim in the sails, and then we fall in the next wind hole… It is in their nature, you cannot stop them. It is just as well like this.

Also, Marcel van Triest explains that between a close-to-Argentina route, with a lot of close hauled sailing and a looong curved route towards the East, they decided to take a median route. It is a little bit “chaotic” (fast, stop, fast, stop) but they are satisfied with it.

 

January 17th, 2017 by admin

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When the sailing community heard that French multihull phenom Yann Guichard was dating billionaire pharaceutical heiress Dona Bertarelli, plenty of jaded sailors smiled knowing smiles for the Frenchmen’s good luck.  Six years, an engagement, and a hundred thousand miles or so later, we’ve all accepted that Dona ain’t just another ultra-rich swiss sailor, and in this 15-minute interview with Mr. Clean shot last week in Sweden, the fastest female sailor on the planet shows that she’s the real deal and then some.

The down-to-earth Dona talks about women in professional sailing and her LadyCat program (and whether we’ll see it on the M32 circuit), where the Spindrift name comes from, the great (and not so great) things about racing around the world with your lover, whether the World Match RAcing Tour will once again become the feeder for the America’s Cup, and just how likely it is to see a second Bertarelli and the first-ever female-owned team challenging for the America’s Cup.  Clean’s obviously crushing on this amazing role model pretty hard; watch above and you might be too.

You can watch Dona’s soon-to-be husband racing all next week in the million dollar finale to the World Match Racing Tour in Marstrand, live (with Clean’s gravelly voice on the mic) from the 4th to the 9th.  More here.

 

July 1st, 2016 by admin

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Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 6.22.50 PMSir Robin Knox-Johnston’s Clipper Around the World Race has lost its first sailor; we just picked up the breaking news off the BBC that a crewmember aboard the IchorCoal entry died early this morning off the Portuguese coast.  Reports identify the UK’s Andrew Ashman as the crew on the Clipper 70 who was knocked unconscious ‘while trimming a sail’ on the highly loaded, heavily-laden boat, and whether it was a clew or a boom that struck him, he didn’t regain consciousness and the ‘race’ boat is diverting to Portugal to offload the body.

A past skipper of the race told us his only surprise is that it hasn’t happened sooner.  “Anyone who’s done the race will be reminding themselves of the number of unprepared skippers and crew they raced with and against,’ he said.

Our condolences to Ashman’s family and friends, and if you have loved ones on a Clipper boat, send an email to let them know you love ’em. We’ll have more news as it develops.

UPDATE: OFFICIAL STATEMENT HERE.

 

September 5th, 2015 by admin

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Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 9.57.17 AMUPDATE:  STORY LARGELY CONFIRMED BY DALTS

Once again, Grant Dalton has shown he can get blood from a stone, if Pierre at Valencia-based Vsail’s latest Volvo Ocean Race scoop is accurate (and we have every reason to think it is).  Pierre reports that Emirates Team New Zealand has teamed up with Spanish bank Mapfre to get their hands on the sixth Volvo One-Design 65 in a project much like Chris Nicholson’s Camper/ETNZ joint that pulled off a stunning second-place the last go-around.

Pierre’s sources say the total budget is around 16 million Euros, with 10 of those coming from ETNZ.  A longtime SA source who asked to remain anonymous tells us that was the number to ensure Nicho’s role as skipper; 3-time VOR racer Pedro Campos will have a managerial role along with Dalton.

With a number of Spaniards committed to the Barcelona World Race the ETNZ/Mapfre venture’s full crew makeup will likely be a mostly Kiwi and Aussie affair.  This means only one or two boats are left for purchase, and if our earlier rumors continue to prove correct, that leaves a British and German team fighting it out for the last spots.  You’ll know more when we do, and eventually, the thread knows all.

 

February 25th, 2014 by admin

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Well, he finally shut the naysayers up! And we couldn’t be more excited to see Alex Thomson finish on the podium in Les Sables D’Olonne where he completed the race in 80 days 19 hours 23 minutes 43 seconds. Here’s the full press conference following Thomson’s Arrival; check it out to show your support for a guy that has earned every inch of his exceptional Vendee Globe podium finish with a last-generation boat and 2 months of neverending repairs. And for one hell of a finale, he made it through 35 knots and huge Biscay seas right to the finish. Meanwhile, JP Dick has to decide whether to weather a Biscay gale without a keel…more drama ahead!

January 29th, 2013 by admin

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Months of comparative quiet belie the amount of work going on behind the scenes at Volvo HQ.  We’ve already told you about the Media Crew Member program’s renaming, revamping, and restaffing announced last week, and now we have some concrete news, thanks in part to Pierre at VSAIL.

The Girls

No surprise to see the old Puma dressed up in pink for the girls for feminine product manufacturer and sponsor SCA, and we hear the selections are coming along, though the list is hush hush for now.  We hope the Swedes let some US blood into the mix, and there’s plenty to choose from; Emma Creighton and Ashley Perrin obviously have what it takes in the distance game, while Anna Tunnicliffe should let herself be persuaded to work the race into her Olympic schedule; the girl is stronger than half the guys on the last Volvo and a better helmsman than even more.  On a more international note, we hope blonde bombshell and SA favorite Anna-Maria Renken makes the cut, but most importantly, wouldn’t they be crazy NOT to go for Dee Caffari or Sam Davies as the skipper?

The Route

The big news today is from Recife, Brazil, which gets a stopover and a team for the 2014-15 Volvo.  Thanks to some of the VSAIL info, we’ve got a pretty good idea of the route, though a lot of the details are missing.

1. Alicante – This is the start for this and at least one more Volvo Ocean Race, though considering the new multi-million dollar VOR Museum’s grand opening soon, we think both the organization and city are committed to quite a few more.

2. Recife – See above

3. Abu Dhabi – A long trip necessitated by a keen Abu Dhabi team sponsor and a pile of cash for the organizers and a Cape Town that doesn’t have a nickel for the VOR.  But the biggest question on a leg like this remains:  How about them pirates?  It’s a long way off and increased militarization may conceivably have quelled the problem by 2014, but are we going to see the silly load on/load off again?  As much of a wrench as it threw into the race’s continuity, the whole process generated some major headlines, so maybe it stays?

4. India – Pierre’s sources say a short stopover will likely happen in India, most likely for the benefit of the big sponsors and Volvo’s corporate bigwigs.  A stopover will also serve to encourage India to start thinking about putting together a race team for 2017.

5.  Hong Kong – Like China, but better.  We’re not sure if this info would mean Sanya is out, especially given how keen China were on the Team Sanya effort being a warm-up lap for a real, fully funded effort with Moose Sanderson at the helm.

6. Auckland – ETNZ is in for another go-round, and Auckland was massively successful this past trip.  Besides, it’s an ideal place to get ready for an assault on the Horn. Never mind that Auckland knows it, and pulling money out of them is like, well, pulling money out of kiwis generally.  In other words, it ain’t easy.

7.  Itajai – Again, a very successful 2012 stopover means another likely stop in the Brazilian beach town on the way North.

8. Newport – VOR would have you believe there is competition for this spot from Baltimore, but they just can’t handle another bad US stopover so Newport is the pick even if Baltimore had any money for Knut – which they don’t. Newport may not offer much cash, but its proximity to so many major metropolises (metropoli?) and the local community’s passion will make up for it.  Miami told VOR to pound sand.

UPDATE: High-powered lobbyist/consultant Rob Housman is part of the team behind the Baltimore bid, and he made sure we knew that their bid is very real and very advantageous to the VOR’s objectives.  He points to their 350,000 numbers from the 2005 stopover – which we believe to be hopelessly inflated –  and the 1M people that checked out the Sailabration Tall Ships event this past summer to show their ability to attract a big crowd.  While Baltimore’s inner harbor is an awesome amphitheater and they certainly have put a lot of effort into showing that they can pull it off, we’d hate to see yet another US stopover swallowed up by yet another large American city that doesn’t give a crap.

9. France – Another reasonably successful stopover despite the inevitable Scandinavian/British vs. French cultural conflicts.  If Groupama honors its agreement with Cammas, it’ll work just fine.

10. Rotterdam – With Galway unhappy about its cash burn after the last race, Ireland is out, and a big European host port is important for sponsor business to business action. So Pierre’s Rotterdam rumor makes sense, and we’d love to see it in what is an extremely fun town.

11. Gothenborg – A Swedish finish has always made more sense than an Irish one for Volvo, and with their world HQ just outside “YoteBoyg”, why would you go anywhere else?  More importantly, the rumors we’ve heard of a confirmed entry from Berg Propulsion, also located just outside the beautiful West Coast town, makes this a sure thing.  There’s even been talk of a two-boat team from Berg…boss Hakan loves this shit, and for that, we love him.

That’s the latest and greatest from the digital coconut telegraph here at SA; hit the thread for more breaking news when it happens.

 

January 17th, 2013 by admin

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