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Posts Tagged ‘storm’

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Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 7.54.24 AM

In 2006, the Pindar team launched the most powerful Open 60 ever built – a title the boat would never relinquish.  Unfortunately for Mike Sanderson (for whom the boat was designed and built) and later Alex Thomson, the boat was never a contender.  Too powerful and draggy, too hard to sail, and too physically demanding for even the strongest IMOCA men, Pindar was plagued by drama, failure, and weak results.  

Even in the hands of Alex Thomson, the JuanK boat was a dog (imagine that, a JuanK boat being a dog), relegated to corporate and PR sailing duty while Alex and his team sourced other boats for his racing.  And while losing a racing boat is never a good thing, we have to say that the world may be a better place without more JuanK grand prix boats around.  The embattled Argentine has to be relatively happy with this calamity; at least this one didn’t break in half, lose a keel, or kill anyone.  More on the wreck from Alex Thomson management team 5West boss and long time Anarchist Stew Hosford:

The boat had been laid up in LA since the end of a tour last year for our sponsor, and we chartered the boat to a new IMOCA team in Europe to who were going to enter this winter’s Barcelona World Race. Our team were bringing her back to Europe via Panama for a re-fit when TS Odile started to appear in the Pacific. We had worked out a number of stopping-off points in case of hurricanes with the team securing her in Cabo San Lucas well in advance of the hurricane strike, and given the forecasts, it was a massive shock to the team, city, and nation when the storm intensified into a hurricane and bore straight down on Cabo.

By all accounts, the storm was brutal; “The End of the Earth”, as locals called it, shocked the entire region, and the morning after the storm hit, the picture you see above is what greeted our delivery team.  The boat was remarkably still in her berth, but took serious damage from flying debris and boats that had come loose, floating around while still attached to big chunks of dock and pontoon.

For the first few days, the team used what they could salvage – freeze dried food, water, diesel, and satphones – to help locals near the marina.  But without comms, electricity, or any way to get off the peninsula, the situation began to deteriorate badly into the looting and later, military response that’s been widely reported.   It rapidly became a crisis situation for us, and the guys on the ground somehow managed to get a small plane out of Cabo and return safely to the states.

So now what?  To be honest, it is not clear; while we are used to dealing with crisis at sea, this is something of a new problem for us.  The boat is most definitely not seaworthy and remains tied to her slip, but until the local government gets control over security and infrastructure, there’s not much we can do besides work on a plan for what happens next.  Given the intensity of the hurricane, the loss of life and property, and the fact that there are many people still trapped there, it is a stark reminder of what can quickly go wrong.  Everyone here has great hopes for the people still on the ground, and we wish them all the best of luck.

 

September 21st, 2014 by admin

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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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