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Gunboat 60 sailing in Annapolis, MD.

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Posts Tagged ‘storm’

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The start of the bi-annual Cape Town-Rio De Janeiro Race may have been warm and ultra-light as the Maserati Turbo Volvo 70′s video shows, but the 34-boat fleet knew it was in for a major hammering from a deep cold front and its associated low pressure system at the start.  No one chose to sit out the start and delay a day or two, though many of the boats chose to sail North rather than West into less breeze and easier seas; amongst those that didn’t was the Bavaria 54 Bille, which paid the ultimate price; one unnamed crew was killed, the skipper and another crew injured, and all crew have now been taken off onto South African rescue vessel Islawana.  

Various other boats have sustained major damage; rudders, engines, flooding, and we’re sure there’s plenty more, but at the moment, everyone is accounted for and most of the fleet continues on its way to South America.  As a CAT 1 classified ocean race of thousands of miles, the fleet needs to be able to weather this kind of storm, but questions are already arising about the Royal Cape and whether, with the well-forecast front, they should have postponed the start, as we increasingly see in even the most hardcore of offshore races.  We’re still on the fence; a delay can easily turn into a budget-busting, month-long drama like the Mini Transat fleet saw in November and can make skippers complacent about their ultimate responsibility, but it’s hard to argue that a human life is worth more than all that.  One thing is for certain:  This race is yet another reinforcement that robust trackers like the Xtra-Link stuff used by much of the commercial shipping industry is no longer an option, but an absolute necessity for any major race; only thanks to the highly accurate GPS info coming off the yachts that Bille could be quickly located in the 8 meter seas that would otherwise make her almost invisible from the water until a mile or so away.

Get in the thread for more info, and hit the tracker for the fleet position or to replay some of the bad parts.  The Cape2Rio Facebook page is the best source for the latest news from the event organizer.

 

January 6th, 2014 by admin

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5087906912_20b229411a_zOne of the most popular foreigners in the IMOCA fleet, Swiss sailor Bernard Stamm continues to find himself cursed with the same bad luck that saw him DSQ from the last Vendee Globe and destroying his bow against a cargo ship in an earlier race.  And this time, it nearly killed him.

Stamm and co-skipper Damien Guillou were delivering Stamm’s Open 60 Cheminees Poujoulat – a pre-fab metal chimney manufacturer with a creepy black cat as its logo – home from Brazil after the TJV, running ahead of a not-unusual winter storm with winds to around 50 knots and seas of 30 feet, according to the British Coast Guard (it turned out to be the deepest low recorded in the British Isles since the 1880s).  When his JuanK designed boat fell off a wave, the boat literally cracked in half forward of the daggerboard casings, and only by immediately shutting the watertight crash doors did Guillou and Stamm keep the boat afloat long enough to be rescued.

The rescue itself was a super sketchy affair, with two helicopters and a plane attempting to either pull the sailors out of the sea or drop them life rafts – all efforts failed thanks to a lack of light and the huge seas.  One aircraft remained on station, guiding a Norwegian cargo ship to the stricken Open 60 and rescuing the sailors as the boat sank underneath them.  We’ll probably never know whether it was a design or construction defect that led to this near-fatal accident, but we do know this:  After Rambler 100, Artemis Racing, and now Cheminees Poujoulat, Juan K might might be either a woeful designer or just unluckier than Bernard Stamm.  And they both might be looking for a new career soon.

Here’s an interview we did with Stamm in happier days, before the last Vendee Globe, and get into the thread for more news and information on the rescue.  Photo from Stamm’s earlier Velux 5 Oceans-winning 60, mostly to show you the kitty.

 

December 26th, 2013 by admin

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Gunboat 60 sailing in Annapolis, MD.