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Posts Tagged ‘Vendee Globe’

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Arrival at the pontoon © Conrad Colman Ocean Racing

Few sailors have made the kind of sacrifices Conrad Colman has in his pursuit of solo ocean racing glory. We love his story, we love his passion, we love his attitude; “I’ll sail the shit out of this boat, or die trying.”  Conrad’s looking for some love from the SA community, so give yourself something to root for in the next Vendee Globe and throw some cash his way.  Get to know Conrad in depth in this SA Innerview we did with him during the hate mission that was his Barcelona World Race, and enjoy his writing, as we do.

Sick of the election? Want to focus on something cool in November? Come vote with your wallet and help get me into the Vendée Globe. As some of you will know from previous posts here, I won the Global Ocean Race and co-skippered Nandor’s boat in the last Barcelona World Race. I am now signed up for the Vendée Globe, the solo non-stop race around the world that starts in November. I have secured a boat, completed a refit, and will be sailing across the Atlantic next week to participate in the solo race from NYC at the end of May.

Lifting the boat © CCORAfter the BWR I don’t need to do another race to qualify but as one of the only English speakers in this class I am coming to the States to share my campaign and the Vendée Globe with as many of you as possible. I am still looking for a title sponsor and have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help keep the wheels on until I do. Please click here to participate by signing up for a T-shirt or to join me on board a real Open 60 for the pro-am races in Newport and NYC to experience life in the IMOCA fleet – first hand.

In a professional racing class defined by big budgets as much as fast speeds, I am one of the few projects scraping through on the smell of an oily rag. This winter most skippers checked in on their refits once a week whereas I have been pulling 16 hour days in the boatshed with one day off since the new year, and have personally sanded the bottom, painted, laminated, screwed, wrenched and cursed my way through the winter. Number of full-time employees at Gitana? 35. Number of full-time employees at team C? 3 (Me, my wife and one preparateur).

IMG_0917In addition to repainting the whole boat, repairing the mast, servicing the keel fin, replacing the electronics and redoing the rigging we ripped out the diesel engine! That’s right, we’re going fully electric and zero emissions for the race around the world. In partnership with Sailing Anarchy advertisers Oceanvolt, Power Sails, Super B batteries, Gori propellers and Fischer Panda (to get through the IMOCA tests) I will race around the world without burning diesel with only solar panels in my mainsail and the hydrogenerator function on the motor providing clean limitless energy.

Why go green? Because we should! Sailing is the only clean mechanical sport, and from Tesla to the COP21 the world is going electric and zero emissions. It’s also lighter than an engine and fuel, with less moving parts and provides a huge buffer of stored energy that buys me time to find solutions in the case of problems. In comparison with the tricky prototypes on the Acciona boat four years ago, all the technology is off the shelf and I hope my race around the world will show that its a good solution for the general yachting population.

I hope you join me in this crazy adventure, either online here on SA, by participating in my crowdfunding campaign or by becoming a sponsor of the campaign. The Vendée is one of this year’s biggest international sporting events, I’m one of the only English speakers and I have a TV deal to top it all off!

Send me an email if you would like to browse a sponsorship proposal, or if you have any ideas or questions about solo sailing, eco-friendly energy solutions, or just want to say ‘hi’!

 

April 29th, 2016 by admin

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Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.29.58 AMCORRECTION: WE ATTRIBUTED THE TRANSLATION BELOW TO THE WRONG ANARCHIST.  WE SALUTE SA’ER SURLEPONT FOR HIS HARD WORK, AND TO ALL THE ANARCHISTS WHO SPEND HOURS AND HOURS TRANSLATING NEWS TO ENGLISH EVERY YEAR SOLELY SO THEIR ANARCHIST PALS CAN KEEP UP WITH OCEAN RACING.

Names like Chichester and Hasler graced the first-ever solo transoceanic ocean race, and while it’s seen its share of rocky times since its 1960 birth, the Transat Bakerly (née OSTAR) is back with a vengeance in this Vendée Globe year, and it’s the first time the historic race is back on its original course – from Plymouth to New York City.  This time, it features four classes – Class 40, Multi 50, Open 60, and Ultime multihulls.

Will the 2016 edition look like Chichester’s, in which he famously said of the course: “Every time I tried to point Gipsy Moth at New York, the wind blew dead on the nose,” said Chichester. “It was like trying to reach a doorway with a man in it aiming a hose at you.”  There’s a good history of the race on the event site, and the IMOCA thread is probably the best place for breaking news.

The race starts on May 2nd, and a huge thanks to the Anarchists for translating this excellent Seb Josse interview from Ouest France (Edmond De Rothschild foiler):

The Transat bakerly. Sebastien Josse on his foiling Edmond de Rothschild hopes to get a lot of answers from this race. Start from Plymouth on May 2nd.

Sebastien, why did you have to cancel the warm-up from Saint-Malo?
We had a bit of a complicated start up, racing against time since getting the boat back into the water. Everyone is working on a very tight schedule and the Vendee Globe will be here in no time. Calibrating the foils takes a lot of time. We had a problem with one of the foils, which we could manage at our base in Lorient, but which would have been a lot more complicated to do in St-Malo.

The boat’s winter refit was quite long. Why?
The goal was to get rid off the teething troubles that plagued us during the Transat Jacques Vabre. We had seen that there were structural problems with all the new boats, so we had to deal with those too. Apart from that, the goal was also to carry out some major modifications that we won’t reveal and that are not visible right away. We basically came out with version 2 of the boat, which will be the final version for the Vendee Globe.

Did you mainly have to erase the weaknesses or enhance the strengths?
We knew that upwind, the foiling boats weren’t among the fastest, but we were able to really measure against the others during the Jacques Vabre. And it stung even more (laughs). Like Banque Populaire, we also tried to close those gaps.

Yet, in the end, did your early retirement in the Jacques Vabre in a way allow you to catch up?
Yes. The boat was only three months old and we left in heavy weather. I think we would have certainly been subject to big breakages if we hadn’t turned around. Like Jean-Pierre Dick, who ended up in Madeira with a broken boat and a lot of time lost. Our boat was still intact. So we did as the other boats, we reinforced the structure, because all the new IMOCAs clearly had a problem in that regard. And then we were able to do a delivery trip to St Barth’s and race the Transat B to B, so in the end we did two transats, something no other (new) IMOCA has done, which allowed us to clock up valuable miles.

So the problems you experienced during the Transat Jacques Vabre were quite serious
We had a succession of minor damages – with outrigger, mast, rigging – which, in 45-50 knots, showed that it wasn’t reasonable to continue in a storm, only if we wanted it to have a catastrophic ending.

In the B to B, the return transat to Brittany, you encountered very heavy weather conditions that allowed you to test the reliability of your boat Edmond de Rothschild
Yes, I had 50 knots of wind for about six hours, but those behind me had 60 knots, and for even longer! But, for me, it was a great experience because you don’t get these types of conditions during training, you don’t go out in such a storm because it’s dangerous for the boat. But it allowed me to tick a box: 45 knots with a 6 m swell works with this boat.

So what did you really work on during the winter refit?
Let’s say stability. I don’t want to divulge more. But it’s not just about the foils, which represent only one third of the boat. There are the ballasts, the keel, the sails Not everything revolves around the foil issue, even though it is our primary field of questioning, for which we’re still waiting for answers, just like the other teams.

You and Banque Populaire are the most advanced teams
Two weeks ago Banque Populaire was at the same level as we are, but they broke their second generation foil, and were forced to go back to the first generation, so they made a step back. Surely to be taking two steps forward later. We are waiting for answers. We have sailed five times with the new configuration and The Transat will either validate our approach or bring more questions, something only a race can do. So we can say that we are the least behind the older generation boats that benefit from 8 years of development or more. If we manage to do the two transats back-to-back (The Transat and New York/Les Sables) with honorable rankings and without a hitch, only then can we claim that we widened the gap with the previous generations. We can’t say that yet. But if a foiler wins The Transat, then I will say that the die is cast.

And if that doesn’t happen?
Then we have to look at the circumstances. If we are two days, or two hours behind. If the upwind conditions aren’t too crappy at the end During the Transat Jacques Vabre, if Armel hadn’t had his problems near the end, plus the doldrums where he had to tack, which rarely happens, he would have left everyone in his wake. Deep down, he must be pretty confident to hold some reserve But now, our new boats, which are much more powerful than anything that was done before, have to win a race to ratify all that.

You were the first to sign up for The Transat, even though it isn’t part of the IMOCA schedule
Yes, but is is a legendary race that exists since 1960. So yes, it is risky in terms of breakage, but we’ve signed up for the Vendee Globe, which can bring tough conditions, so this is a major test for both man and boat. Whoever finishes The Transat garners a lot of points in preparation for the Vendee Globe. We shouldn’t only do races where everything is to our advantage. We might be leaving Les Sables d’Olonne in November with a southwesterly blowing 30-35 knots in the Bay of Biscay and have four days of upwind sailing, which amounts to half a Transat

What are your expectations for this transat?
It is clearly a warm-up. Creating reflexes, getting into the swing of things, not hurting myself. The Transat is a race where you have to show good seamanship, it’s not a speed run. It is a tough race, you have to be mentally strong, have stamina and tenacity. Whoever finishes The Transat is a sturdy one.

You are now using a second generation set of foils. How much progress do they bring?
I have a good feeling about it, but I haven’t been able to test against others. I couldn’t do the training at Port-la-Fôret. I can’t wait to start this race. But we can already say that between the first and second generation of foils, there is a 5-6% performance increase, which is considerable. But we have to test their reliability.

Lifting boats, even making them fly, is part of what the Gitana Team is about, isn’t it?
Yes, it fascinates me since I first saw the foiling Moths in 2005 And speed, innovation and avant-gardism are the Gitana Team trademarks. When it comes to foils, using them was a no-brainer. We have Gitana XV (former MOD-70) which serves as a real-life model for the design and construction of the new maxi-trimaran that will be launched next year. It is an exciting way to go for the entire team. There’s a whole world to explore with tremendous room for improvement. The next 10 years will bring us amazing things. We will reach speeds that, two to three years ago, we were barely able to touch, over 40 knots (on a multihull) at a steady speed.

Jérémie Beyou’s boat, your pontoon neighbor, will be the only boat of the older generation to have installed foils. Was that, in fact, not the ideal compromise?
His goal was to keep the benefits of the older generation boats combined with the addition of foils. There is a hole in the IMOCA rules that greatly benefits these older boats that want to incorporate new technologies. Today, a boat like Maître CoQ is free in terms of power! They were able to strengthen its mast, keep important ballasts, a wide angle of keel, and even add more power with the foils, while all of that has been restricted for our new generation boats, with a one-design mast and a MR of 25 tons/meter. Jérémie made an interesting gamble and fully to his credit.

Will the transat New York – Les Sables, which normally should be more favorable to the latest generation boats, be able to show everyone’s true colors?
No. I think that it will already happen during The Transat. The level is high, it includes the boats that finished first and second in the Jacques Vabre, and the one that won the Vendee Globe they’re all there. I’m not saying that the others don’t count, but if a foiling boat were to beat one of these two other boats, it would be very reassuring for the choices we made.

How is the construction of the maxi coming along?
It’s going well Launch is scheduled for a little over a year, these kinds of boats take a long time to build. We have moved beyond the moulding stage for the three hulls and the arms. It is a tremendous job for the design office, with four people working on it full-time.

You have chosen to build a 33 m long boat, which is one meter longer than the Ultim class box rule. Why?
Why limit ourselves? Our goals with this future maxi-trimaran are the Transat Jacques Vabre and the Route du Rhum, which do not impose any limits. The box rules set by the Collectif Ultim will come into play when they start organizing races. For the moment the only one scheduled is the solo around the world race in 2019, which is still far away. And we will be able to fit into the box if necessary.

You will cut a meter off the boat?
We’ll see

With the former Mod 70 that you use as test boat, it seems you blew up the speedo?
Yes, we recently sailed at 43 knots. We’re able to get a steady speed of 40 knots, which before wasn’t possible with a 21 m trimaran. It’s very exciting! Even though these speeds bring about quite some stress as well, as there is no zero risk.

Isn’t it frustrating to go back to an IMOCA after that, with which you cannot reach these speeds?
No, because for me, the Vendee Globe is a dream. The 2008 edition left me with a taste of not having had enough, as I had to give up on my ambitions off the coast of New Zealand. It’s a race that you want to be able to nail. Finishing alone is a feat. Making the podium or even winning is a whole other story. Given the level, you have to be fired up. The high level of the participants is what makes it so interesting.

 

April 25th, 2016 by admin

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The haters will whinge at yet another Alex Thomson/Hugo Boss Sailing stunt while the marketing wonks will nod in admiration at the latest in the now trilogy of Thomson’s ‘walks’, but when we first heard AT had another stunt in the chamber after the Keelwalk and Mastwalk, we winced a little in fear.  I mean, would anyone really be surprised if Alex put on a vintage leather biker jacket and jumped an actual shark?

So with full expectation of a shark jumping moment, we sat back with quickened pulse and watched an earlier version of the video above.  And motherf^&ker – they did it again!

They’re calling it the Skywalk, and whether or not you think it somehow sullies the honor of your ‘sport’, you have to admit – it’s a seriously badass bit of stuntery and they make it look damned good.  There’s a reason these pieces work so well; they are slick, ballsy, and push the envelope a little further each time, in a sport that seems made for extreme stunts – what other athletes carry around a hundred foot carbon fiber stunt pole? Alex’s enthusiasm doing his own stunts shines through and a small fortune spent on production make the new Skywalk pop and crackle; if only Hugo Boss’s coming Vendee Globe qualification run and transatlantic race are as successful…

Pics and more behind the scenes tomfoolery at Merc.

 

March 14th, 2016 by admin

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A maxed-out fleet of 27 boats, the most international field in years, the fastest round-the-world ocean racing monohulls ever.

SA will be there, of course, as we’ve been for a decade now.  So will a forecasted 2 million other ladies and gents.  Will you?

 

February 18th, 2016 by admin

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Vento Di Sardegna only had a few months with an Italian name before being taken over by Mich Desj’s Mer Agitee management company, and while we continue to operate under rumors that a Dutch sailor will make a run at the Vendee in this beast (and we think it’s this guy), no one seems to be able to confirm whats coming for this new VPLP/Verdier just yet.  Similarly, the 5 new builds in the 2015 TJV are staying mum about their issues and findings, so for now, we have only Alex Thomson’s frank account.  Fortunately, our Senior Editor is headed to Europe to the METS show next week on a factfinding expedition, and no one can hide from Mr. Clean…

Think you can spot what’s wrong with the Persico build of Vento?  We can’t, but we do love time lapse.

 

November 10th, 2015 by admin

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UPDATE: After unsuccessfully attempting a repair for several hours at sea, Alex Thomson and Guillermo Altadill onboard HUGO BOSS have made the difficult decision to proceed to Vigo. This partial repair will not allow the duo to cross the Atlantic serenely.The technical team is currently en route to Vigo, Spain, to join the crew and try to consolidate repairs.More information tomorrow.

With two of the newest VPLP/Verdier foiling 60s already out of the TJV, it comes as no surprise that a third is now on the ropes.  With just a few days of sailing under her keel before the start of the race, Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss is the newest of all of ‘em all, according to Facebook, Alex and Guillermo Altadill will spend the next few hours hove to in the North Atlantic as they dig into unspecified technical issues and try to save their race.  On one hand, the attrition rate of the new boats is a big failure for the teams; on the other hand, reliability is never great at the extreme edges of any development box…especially on the first real outing as they build up to the big dance next year.

Our Senior Editor sat down with Thomson just before the Boss left for France earlier this month to chat about everything Open 60, with questions mostly provided by you Anarchists.  It’s another great chat between Clean and AT, and there’s plenty to listen to as you wait to see if they get back in the race.  You can download the full video from Vimeo here to play later. Track the TJV fleet here.

October 28th, 2015 by admin

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While the Macif foils have finally been revealed, details on the latest and greatest VPLP/Verdier Open 60s remain scant, in part because the secrecy in IMOCA world is exceeded only by that of the America’s Cup.  Fortunately we’ve got connections, and our Senior Editor headed over to England last night to become (we think) the first reporter in the world to sail on an offshore foiling monohull.  He’s headed offshore tonight with the one guy who continues to keep the torch lit for anyone who wants to see a non-Frenchman take the Vendee Globe trophy: Alex Thomson.

Alex and his Hugo Boss team have had unprecedented success with sponsors and the media over the past decade, but less so on the race course, with Alex able to grab a few victories in low-profile events and a couple of hard-fought 24-hour solo distance records. Bad luck ended his two strong chances to win the Barcelona World Race, but his 3rd place in the last Vendee (with a now 3-generations old boat) cemented his credibility as a potential race winner, if he could only build a competitive ride.

That has now happened, and we’ve got a couple of days to dig into Alex’s program and his new boat, and more importantly, to answer any questions you guys can come up with – as long as they’re not about the details on the foils, and if we told you about them, we’d have to kill you.  We’ll have a report on the boat and on the new Mercedes-Benz stickered Hugo Boss before the TJV begins, and if you ask your questions today over in this thread, we’ll put them to the team. 

For a fond look back at the two-generations old Farr Open 60 that Alex took his Vendee podium with (and Ryan Breymaier is about to doublehand across the ocean), check out the very cool video above. ‘cause boats have souls…

 

October 13th, 2015 by admin

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Alone in the sea of brand-new foiling(ish) Open 60s is the UK’s Alex Thomson and his new Mercedes-Benz sponsored Hugo Boss, the sort-of sistership to the new VPLP/Verdier monsters that are dropping in the water seemingly every week as the TJV gets close.   Speaking of the French doublehanded classic, there are a jaw-dropping 21 IMOCAs registered for the start in Le Havre.  Will you be there?  Sailing Anarchy will.

We’re a bit shocked to see the Hugo Boss change color from the silver that we assumed was such a perfect fit for Merc (and its silver arrows racing brand) but we forgot to check in on the team that HB seems to get all its design inspiration from.  Sure enough, they just turned black this year as well.

More pics on the ATR Facebook page, and the world’s best source of breaking information about the IMOCA fleet is, of course, right here in the Ocean Racing Anarchy forums. Title shout to a great song for a blind date…or a stalker.

September 5th, 2015 by admin

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One of the well-proven adages in business is to spend, spend, spend during a recession.  Marketing hard and growing fast when the markets are down is a great way to build market share, and it seems that the big names in the United Kingdom sailboat racing business are doing just that, despite all kinds of fears about austerity measures and deficit problems.  Here are three quick bits to illustrate.

The Great Contender

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 10.24.53 AMRussell Coutts chased off the most serious challenger for the next America’s Cup.  Then he pulled the rug out from both his own hometown and the team that came a couple of minutes away from ending his run at AC34.  Just one of those is fully funded by a billionaire, but it’s the less well-funded one – Ben Ainslie Racing – who currently has the best chance of ending Larry Ellison’s reign of bullshit and the constantly waffling hypocrisy from the Russell Coutts Flying Circus.

Why, you ask?

Because Ben and his team are genuinely not in it for cash, but for nation, for country, for all those things that the rest of the world finds quaint and anachronistic.  Their hashtag is #BringTheCupHome, and that resonates like a motherf&%*ker.

That’s how he got longtime Mclaren Formula 1 team boss Martin Whitmarsh involved, and that’s where Red Bull Formula 1 designer and aerodynamic wunderkind Adrian Newey came in.

And perhaps most importantly, Ben will have home field advantage, as we’ll see during next month’s ACWS event in Portsmouth.  Bermuda is unfailingly British, and there are we cannot find anyone from the United States who wants to see the betrayal of Ellison and Coutts go unpunished.

Don’t underestimate the power of the crowd; unlike the almost entirely mercenary teams (and Oracle Team NOT-USA just added yet another non-american to the mix), Ben can get talent like Whitmarsh and Newey to help him despite being unable to pay them what they made when they worked for the F1 juggernaut.  And the more one-design the boat, the more cerebral the game becomes – and the more morale and confidence come into the mix.  If you don’t know what we mean, head over to Portsmouth and listen to what an estimated half a million people sound like when they are cheering.  The biggest questions remain about Ben himself; is he a fast enough driver in foiling boats?

Longtime pommie sailing boffin Matt Sheahan wrote a solid profile of the team and its obstacles over at howtospendit.  Check it out here.

Long Overdue

The Extreme 40 has been long in the tooth for the better part of 5 years, but much of that time was devoted to ensuring the Extreme Sailing Series survival and OC Events future cash flow.  As the rest of the world’s catamarans innovated, the Extreme Sailing Series looked more every season like a race for lorries in a downtown parking lot.  But Mark Turner’s stature as one of the sport’s best organizers doesn’t come from his generosity; he is a master of spending only when necessary.  Thanks to a few years of downturn and the ineptitude of his ostensible competitors, the X40 got a bit of breathing room – but not anymore.

And while Turner has been saying for years that ‘foiling is not for them,’ on Wednesday the ESS announced just the opposite; 2016 and beyond will likely see the new Extreme boat flying.  Turner says they have ‘four options’ that they haven’t distilled down yet, but the clock is a-ticking.  The X40 hulls are a mess, with dozens of repairs adding weight and reducing stiffness throughout the fleet, and one-design something of a joke.  The design itself is as dated as you’ll see in a modern event, as you’d expect from a boat created more than a decade ago for the 2005 Volvo Ocean Race; the event that re-launched stadium sailing (though not a new concept; cf. the Formula 40 series in the 90s, the wildly successful 150,000-person Match Cup Sweden in the late 90s and early 2000s, the One-Design Grand Prix circuit, the…well, you get the point).

So there are a lot of reasons for a new boat and it’s almost imperative for it to happen quickly, but it is already pretty late for one of the brand new designs being evaluated by OC to impact the 2016 season.  Enter the GC32, currently the front-runner for the Extreme series next year.  It’s a bit small for much of the corporate PR and VIP work that’s the bread and butter for Turner, but Martin Fischer’s flying boat is furious and exciting in anything over 8 knots of breeze.  Perhaps more importantly, two years of now-solved foil issues has taken much of the value out of the GC32, and having spent millions on the creation of his dream boat and a relatively low-budget series, GC32 creator Laurent Lenne is ready to get back to racing instead of running a sailboat marketing company.  That could mean ‘bargain’ to the famously cost-conscious Turner, solving all his problems for 2016.  The only other option for next year is to modify the truck-like X40 for foils, but that’s crazy talk.

And for 2017, look for an all-new X36/X37/X38 – a straight or foiling daggered monster that looks as modern as possible.  Whether you are talking about markets, boat types, or formats, the world is a-changing, and Mark Turner and his group will continue to be one of the most important drivers of those changes.

Watch the final day of ESS racing from Cardiff today.

He’s Got The Look

WSince we couldn’t get a new rendering from the Alex Thomson Racing team, we’ll keep this one short, but a monster piece of sailing sponsorship news hit the wire this week providing further evidence that a good look, a strong marketing team, and a few successful PR stunts are far more important than performance when it comes to finding big money for sailing.  Thomson’s team announced on Thursday that Mercedes-Benz had joined the Hugo Boss/ATR racing program as a ‘Core Sponsor’ in advance of this summer’s launch of Thomson’s brand new VPLP/Verdier Open 60 HUGO BOSS.  The move comes on the heels of last years defection of Hugo Boss from the McLaren F1 team to the all-conquering Mercedes Silver Arrows, marking the end of F-1′s longest team sponsorship deal.  The best part about it?  Thomson doesn’t even need to change his color scheme.

With Alex scoring a 3rd in the last Vendee in a last gen boat, and telling us numerous times that he’s getting a bit old for all this noise, and with golden boy Francois Gabart sitting this one out in favor of a much faster singlehander, 2016 will mark Thomson’s best chance ever at the biggest win ever for an Englishman since Sir Robin beat Moitessier in 1969, nearly 50 years ago.  That is, if he can finish, unlike the last BWR, or the one before that, or…

 

June 21st, 2015 by admin

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Did anyone expect the first bluewater foiler to be a monohull? We sure didn’t, but Morgan Legraviere’s new Open 60 Safran looks ready for takeoff.  Sick work from the dominant duo of Verdier and VPLP, and you can hit the “New IMOCA” thread for video and more pics.  Oh – and you’ll like what Verdier calls them; ‘Dali Moustache’ foils.  We’re a little confused though; When did dropping hundreds of balloons into the sea become ok? Biodegradable or not, seems like a bit of a dick move.

March 8th, 2015 by admin

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