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Posts Tagged ‘volvo ocean race’

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Things are still pretty chaotic at Volvo Ocean Race HQ but the content is certainly flowing in from a fleet that’s all still within sight of each other hundreds of miles down the track. The Leg 1 Start coverage may not have been inspiring but at least it wasn’t embarrassing, and you should watch it here if you haven’t.  And for those looking to really embark on the VOR adventure, click the player above to check out the first episode of Life At The Extreme – the weekly series Volvo is banking on to attract millions of new fans to the race.  We’re not at all sure it’s the right path to follow (especially if the series relies on the British version of Twiki for the voiceover), but it’s a creditable half hour of documentary TV introducing the key players on many of the teams.   Producers continue to struggle to get these pro sailors to show even the remotest enthusiasm or humor when they’re on camera, but that’s a universal problem that time and good interviewers can hopefully solve.

It’s no easy task for a fan stay on top of the disorganized stream of info coming from the fleet, and the most complete index for all of it might just be the Leg 1 thread in Ocean Racing Anarchy. The forum-adverse can hit the VOR Watch Log here and the ‘new article’ link here for an easy content dump, and we encourage everyone to check out past SCOTW’s daily show The Inside Track on this playlist.  For the best place to see the raw boatfeeds, subscribe to Pierre’s Vimeo page.

There’s already been some good carnage; Brunel had to cook up a repair for a snapped spinnaker sheet outrigger, Tony Rey crushed some ribs, and there’s a few more human and non-human breakages, though our favorite story so far comes with a side of sashimi.  From Brunel:

Jens Dolmer is looking restlessly around. The boat is not sailing to his liking. His eyes dart nervously back and forth. Suddenly the Dane pulls a large a serrated knife from his pocket and runs to the aft deck. Behind the boat is a fishing line with a giant tuna at the end, fighting for his life. In the distance a Moroccan fisherman in a tiny rowboat balled his fist! With a quick movement Dolmer cuts through the thick fishing line.

Helmsman and gastronome Laurent Pagès cannot believe his eyes. “Two days,” he calls somewhat disappointed. “For two days we could had eaten delicious tuna.” He shakes his head. However Dolmer looks happy. He does not like fish and the boat runs harder.

Oh yeah – the VOR’s tracker has been universally panned, losing a great deal of functionality from the past two editions while getting a cartoon look.  There’s an alternative over here until they get their shit together, and if you don’t mind using more CPU than a copy of Planetside 2, hit up the Virtual Eye tracker.

 

October 15th, 2014 by admin

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More busy times in the land of the video editor, and we’ve got 5 good ones for you to start your week off right.

Getting To Know You

It’s gratifying to see so many sailing videographers finally focusing on individual people; it’s the kind of character-building we’ve felt has been missing from the landscape for the better part of a decade.  The characters are there – the sport’s full of ‘em – and this video from Ben Hartnett is an absolutely gorgeous and innovative way to get to know UK-born Aussie Olympic Finn sailor Oli Tweddell.  Watch closely – it might make you a better sailor, too.

Show and Show

Olympic 470 Dutchie and longtime SA devotee Kalle Coster showed off possibly the hottest racing product at the Annapolis Boat Show to Mr. Clean and Petey; here’s a 6 minute look inside the best-looking race display on the market.  Keep an eye on Penalty Box Productions’ Vimeo page for more videos from the show dropping on Tuesday morning, including our first-sail on both the Gunboat 55 and 60.

Humbled

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the awesomely close one-design racing we’re already seeing in the Volvo Ocean Race, but we ought never forget that they are competing on a forbidding and potentially deadly field.  If there’s one thread running across all of Waterlust’s videos, it’s humility, and this VOR vid from the Waterlust team is a beautiful look at that humbling ocean.  As an aside,  we thank VOR TV for fixing many of the problems that plagued the in-port race during their much better race start coverage.

What A Long Strange Chip It’s Been

Petey Crawford takes a soup-to-nuts look at the breezy E-Scow Blue Chip Regatta last month on Lake Pewaukee Lake.  It’s got carnage, kids, drones, and Jimmy Spithill helming one of these classic surfboards; a strong buildup to next year’s 50th anniversary Blue Chip.  If you’ve been a Mystery Guest before, mark your calendars – they’ll be inviting every one of you to come along for the fun in September 2015.

Back Of The Pack

While the top boats get the prettiest videos, we love to check in with the rest of the fleet, and this video from 30th place Hyper Viper at the 34-boat Viper 640 North Americans has plenty to make you smile.  Congrats to Brad Boston, Curtis Florence, and Chad Corning for the win.

 

October 13th, 2014 by admin

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While it’s a little early to burn your bras in support of Team SCA, the pink ladies have most certainly answered any questions the world may have had about their ability to hang with the men of the VOR.  That’s thanks to a brave call from Libby G to split from the fleet toward the Spanish shore, where shift and velocity launched the girls clear into the lead at the last real geographical constraint until they get into the islands.  Will the Northerly position pay as the fleet heads out into the Atlantic?  Discuss it in the Leg 1 thread.  And check out the girls Flickr page for more great shots from Corinna.  Track the fleet here.

October 13th, 2014 by admin

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First one-design race around the world? Yeah, we’d say it’s pretty momentous.  Enjoy the start of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, and good luck to the teams!  For a little pre-start weather forecast for Leg 1, check in with our old friend Genny. And track the fleet here – they are really mixed up!

 

October 11th, 2014 by admin

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The next generation of sailing studs is clearly taken with Charlie and Team Alvimedica, even if they can’t say the name.  This is too damned cute, and thanks to Brandon for the heads up about our favorite Ratz of all.  And while we hate to give love to another idiotic use of the ‘Everest of Sailing’ tautology, it’s good to see the young American getting some solid ink from the WSJ.

 

October 6th, 2014 by admin

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Charlie Enright’s Alvimedica Team may be the youngest in the Volvo Ocean Race but they didn’t look it on Saturday; the Turkish-flagged, American-helmed crew looked smart and conservative, letting the other boats mostly take themselves out of racing with a litany of boathandling flubs.  Bad gybes, worse furls, screwy roundings, ugly laylines – most of the teams had one or more of these issues – but not Charlie.  So the boys in orange get the morale boosting In-Port Race victory over Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi team with the Spanish

The coverage itself was a bit embarrassing even for the first go-round, with the sole production bright light being brilliant talker and ex-Olympic Star guy Mark Covell on the microphone.   Unfortunately, the hysterically screaming play-by-play Englishman beside him snuffed that light out most of the time with brilliant observations like “they are really close together!!!” and “this is the team’s third Vendee Race together!!!”  The actual pictures weren’t much better – two helicopters, zero on-board footage, and what looked like iPhone footage from the water making up nearly all the images on the Youtube and broadcast feed.  Even the Virtual Eye (or more likely, a knockoff based on the poor quality and completely inaccurate speeds) was useless.

We get that the VOR needed to cut costs, and we get that the In-Port now counts for almost nothing, and we get that the In-Ports are now pretty much internet only – and we applaud all these decisions.  But we don’t get how the sponsors can look at this level of coverage and not be embarrassed to be involved.  No coverage of any part of the world’s premier ocean race - the Formula 1 of the ocean – should be outspent and outperformed by live coverage of the World Match Race Tour, the Great Cup, or even the 5o5 Worlds.  But this In Port coverage was.

Organizers deserve a little leeway because it’s their first attempt for this one but it ain’t like the VOR staffers haven’t been down this road before, so they don’t get much.  Step it up, guys and girls, or give up on your claims of being the Big Show.

 

October 5th, 2014 by admin

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It’s been a while since we had this many good ones, and the stories to go along with them.  Enjoy another edition of Video Anarchy.

Big Man in Big Boat

Jim Clark’s record-breaker 100 Comanche is just about ready to splash, and Mr. Clean walked through her last week to show you what this new VPLP/Verdier monster is all about.  Wanna know what the absolute coolest part of this new boat is?  Watch the video.  Editing thanks to Penalty Box Productions, and a huge thanks to everyone at Hodgdon Yachts for their total openness with our bald avenger.

Big Man In Little Boat

The continuing and unnecessary mystery of the cause of Andrew Simpson’s death combined with organizers obsession with a Guinness record may have turned us off a bit on Bart’s Bash, the inaugural festival has already raised some $400,000 for an extremely worthy cause; getting more people into sailing.  And thanks to AC ambassadors like Jimmy Spithill, the event itself accomplished that as well – even in the heart of the Midwest. Petey Crawford shares.

One of the best parts of last weekend was being on hand for the Bart’s Bash Opti race as the bookend to an amazing 3 days of sailing at Pewaukee Yacht Club for the E Scow Blue Chip. Local Opti kids, their parents, and some E -cow sailors were all in on a chance to get to race against Jimmy in what was a World Record event – Bart’s Bash. I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it, I love shooting kids (not Bang Bang but Click Click). Youth events are so much fun to shoot because the kids are always having such a great time. This outing was no different, and the smiles on the faces of the kids and adults alike were priceless. Parents with 1 and sometimes 2 kids all crammed into an Opti is a pretty cool sight for anyone with a love for sailing. Everyone had a great time and the never-ending stream of youth sailors in the autograph line was evidence that they were all stoked to race against Jimmy. I think I even caught him digging it a few times. All wrapped up was an epic regatta of action, smiles, fundraising and a bit of debauchery. Final highlight reel coming up next, with way more killer scow action, awesome aerial footage, crashes, and interviews.

Mona Lisa Overdrive

It’s partly a Vodafone publicity stunt, partly performance art, and partly a very creative way to showcase one disabled sailor’s drive, and in a sport that often lacks creativity, we salute 23-year old Lasse Klötzing and the boys behind the First Sailed Mona Lisa project. Their mission: Sail a GC-32 foiling cat through 271 waypoints on the Baltic Sea to create a GPS track of the Mona Lisa over 3 days.  Klotzing will use the Vodafone 4G/LTE network for all their connectivity, and they claim the entire thing will be live streamed on their website over the same network.  It all starts tomorrow morning, and we’ll be watching.  Hit the movie above for the full story.

Title shout for all the cyberpunks out there.

Milk Run

Yvan Bourgnon is easily the baddest motherfucker in all of sailing.  He’s won some of the biggest events in the sport, but it’s his ultra-extreme cat records that have kept us following him for a decade.  This is the dude that sailed around Cape Horn, across the Mediterranean, and across the Atlantic alone on a beach cat, and last year he embarked on possibly the only real challenge he had left:  Alone, unassisted, around the world.  On a beach cat.  With no electronics.

Check out the video above, and read on to learn how you can help this French cowboy finish his trip.

Around the world Yvan was stopped in Sri Lanka, but our Swiss adventurer does not want to stop there!  He needs us to continue.  He wants more than anything to complete his dream, up the channel of Les Sables d’Olonne after rebuilding his cat and a new beginning in Sri Lanka in January 2015.  Yvan has been able to recover much of the equipment (about 1/3 of the boat), Forward Sailing will make her new sails and help fund two new hulls, which are ready to go to Europe. The rest will be rebuilt and reassembled on site in a construction site, with the strong mobilization of Sri Lankans.

But to realize this childhood dream, Yvan needs support and appealed to all lovers of catamarans. He recently set up a crowd funding campaign to allow it to revive its “Louloutte.” He must find € 40,000 budget to rehabilitate his boat.

Today we represent the last chance to Yvan to finish this round the outstanding world. It will only be through your generosity that Yvan will complete the circle.  So hop on board and join this fabulous adventure -contribute here.

Caught in the Glow of the TV Screen

Above is the wholly underwhelming official Volvo Ocean Race promo clip released with yesterday’s announcement that the VOR would be hitting American TV screens, and we’re cautiously optimistic about the deal’s ability to help solve the race’s decade-old struggle to register on mainstream American radar.  The deal commits NBCSN (the America’s Cup broadcast partner) and OutsideTV to air 20 hours of programming produced by Sunset + Vine on behalf of the VOR.  For Americans wanting to see Alicante-sized crowds in Newport next summer, dissecting the impact of this deal is important, so let’s have a look.

OutsideTV is a nonentity in terms of viewership, though its support provides access to the millions of readers of Outside mag and OutsideOnline – a great demographic if you’re looking for new interest in sailing.  Last month’s Outside showed the Abu Dhabi boat blasting around the atlantic to some 1.2 million readers.

The NBCSN deal is more complicated, because the old Versus has been remaking itself as the educated, cosmopolitan man’s sports network.  Their America’s Cup broadcast adds to programming like Formula 1, Premier League, and the Tour De France, and with the US fans going increasingly global in their spectating, it’s a good spot to be in.  All that being said, NBCSN is still a guppy in a very big ocean; it’s only available to a bit more than half of the US, and if you go by the numbers from the America’s Cup – doubtless a bigger draw than the VOR to Americans – the best any sailing show would be likely to get is somewhere around 150,000 viewers, in a country with around 300 million people; 0.05 percent of the population.  Not inspiring.

Let’s add that to the VOR’s choice of producer; the ubiquitous Sunset + Vine.  Responsible for a lot of VOR movies – especially the live racing – for the 2005 and 2008 events, their work always seemed to make extremely exciting action somewhat less so.  Shirley Robertson’s CNN Mainsail show has always been reliable and watchable and full of good info, but again – it just lacks a little soul.  That might work for overseas markets, but not here – remember the America’s Cup Undisclosed or whatever that 750,000-episode long series was called?  Whatever it was, it failed – and badly.  Whether it was because S+V underbid the series by a fortune or because they are just not that good, the awfulness of the AC Underfunded series was epic.  The series never picked up any devotees and had a constantly shrinking viewership throughout its life, and if that’s the kind of product they feed to American TV, they won’t even get a tenth of what the AC got.  And we don’t know who made the promo above, but it has the same scent.

But of course this is a very rapidly changing world, and the AC suffered from awful promotion and almost zero advertising when it counted; if a growing network can succeed with a shit ton of cross-platform and cross-partner promotion, and if the live racing and weekly highlight shows are reliably spectacular and engaging, this deal could open those elusive golden doors to the US public.  We have heard that the deal includes a big number of tune-in promos to the race programming over the 9 months. That’s a positive, especially if they run during NHL, Premiere League or F1.

That is, if NBCSN realizes what it’s selling, and if we go by NBC Sports President of Programming Jon Miller’s statement, our optimism wanes. “NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the Louis Vuitton Series and the 34th Americas Cup was a tremendous success and demonstrated the country’s strong appetite for sailing on television.” said Miller.  We struggle to reconcile Miller’s statement with the fact that the final race of the ‘biggest comeback in the history of sport’ drew a rating of around 189,000 households; around what Major League Soccer games get.  Does that really mean the country has a strong appetite for it?

While we sound cynical, we’re actually quite pleased; while Americans won’t soon see VOR in-port races on a major network, the new deal is a long way from the last-second FSN regional programming they had last time ’round, which wasn’t worth the dinner napkin it was written on.  Is a hundred thousand or so bodies on a dying medium worth the effort when the digital avenue could garner significantly more if executed really well?   That’s a whole different conversation.  And we’ll be in Alicante in two weeks to have it.

Iggy Pop supplied the title.

 

 

September 26th, 2014 by admin

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Team Vestas Wind - Volvo Ocean Race 2014/15

We’re stoked to see so many long time SA contributors rounding out both the in-house and on-board media spots for the upcoming Volvo; here’s a spectacular look at Rob Salthouse at the helm of the Vestas Wind during their qualifier from Irish photographer and OBR Brian Carlin, who’s got more in-board reporting miles than anyone on the planet over the past year.  Great work and a nice taste of things to come.

 

September 11th, 2014 by admin

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Sailing Anarchy only logs about 30,000 readers annually from beautiful Denmark, but we do love our Scandinavian friends – and one of them took issue with our Vestas Wind story yesterday. 

Dear Sir:

I would like to draw your attention to a small error.  You reported yesterday that the Vestas Wind boat is the ”the first-ever Danish-flagged Volvo entry”, but this is not true.  SAS BAIA VIKING, a Kjaerulff  50, competed in the ’85/86′ Whitbread with skipper Jesper Norsk.

While we were technically correct (and mostly due to the handicap vs. box rule situation, we have always felt as though the Volvo Ocean Race was more of a descendent of the Whitbread than the same race),  our new friend Niels is certainly correct to point out the Danish history in this race; one boat, the smallest in that year’s Whitbread, and it crossed the line last.  We hope and expect the Vestas Wind team to do quite a bit better…

The full story is here in “BaadMagasinet”, including links and time stamps from the archived movie of the ’85 race.

 

August 28th, 2014 by admin

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We first got to know Chris Branning when he was barely out of diapers as part of Disney’s Morning Light program, and as a former shipmate of Mr. Clean (poor kid – ed)), and as he’s gone from grommet to sought-after offshore navigator to helicopter rescue pilot, we’ve seen what an incredible young man he has become. And when Charlie and Mark from Team Alvimedica brought him aboard their Volvo 65 during tryouts, we were extremely excited to see it – and not for Branning’s sake.

We see the US-skippered Alvimedica as having a genuine chance of really impacting the sport’s perception here in America, and Branning would make that about a hundred times easier.  Branning is the anti-yachtie.  He’s soft-spoken but extremely bright, wears his heart on his sleeve, is tall and good-looking without being intimidating, and he just oozes honesty and character.  In other words, he’s a media dream.  Add to that the fact that his job as pilot of a USCG Search-and-Rescue chopper makes him one of the only human beings on Earth that this divided America unanimously loves; the most ignorant redneck fisherman on the Florida panhandle is just as much of a fan of USCG rescue pilots as a Wall Street investment banker sailing his Concordia out of the NYYC.

Which makes this video all that more poignant, because no matter how much we wish it was, is isn’t a crew profile.  Rather, longtime SA videographer and now VOR moviemaker Sam Greenfield put this movie together to show us that best intentions are not always enough, and that life can sometimes get in the way of the perfect opportunity; thanks to his demanding job saving lives, Branning will be watching this VOR from afar.

As you’d expect from a guy of his character, Branning is still 100% supportive of his friends, and he sent a few words over to share his thoughts on what they’ve done:

“I think it will take years before what the sailing world realizes what Mark and Charlie have done. For sailing to progress as a commercially viable sport, to compete against the mainstream sports especially in the USA, the process of fund sourcing had to shift. Sailing doesn’t need another watch captain, skipper, rigger, or trimmer; though we greatly appreciate the talents of those roles. Sailing needs “board-room” sailors. Educated, professional sailors who can take off the foul weather gear, put on a suit and walk into the board room to pitch, present, argue, defend, convince, cajole, and earn the money to go sailing at the highest level. That is what our sport needs. Few people can fathom the amount of work and risk that takes.  Charlie and Mark, in their mid-twenties, did just that.

“They brought another boat to the starting line of the Volvo Ocean Race, and in the process, they paved the path for younger sailors to do the same.  Did they change the sport forever?  It’s too early to know that.  But they did something no one has ever done here, and I salute them for it.”

 

August 27th, 2014 by admin

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As we told you when we first broke the world-exclusive news about Chris Nicholson’s VOR Entry last month, we expect a shit-kicking team aboard Team Vestas Wind, and we’re getting one. As the team puts their sparkling new VOD65 (in its sponsored livery, above) through its sea trials on the UK’s South Coast and gets to know it inside and out, familiar names are bubbling up the list.

Nico first knocked off the shore boss spot, with Neil Cox able to fill that role better than perhaps anyone else alive. Nico then killed two birds with one stone: Danish title sponsor Vestas means a few Danish sailors need to be aboard for the first-ever Danish-flagged Volvo entry, and Dane match racers (and recently, Extreme 40 sailors) Peter Vibroe and Nicolai Sehested got the nod.  They’re also both under 30, which covers that problem too.

A good look at the videos and Facebook photos of several sailors reveal three more names, every one of them a rock star: Rob Salthouse, Wouter (The Router) Verbraak, and Tony Rae all showed up on the boat in the past days.  While none are confirmed as crew just yet, with barely a month to go before the start of the race, there won’t be much trying out.  As if those guys need to.

Just 5 weeks left, boys and girls.  Let’s get that party started.

 

August 27th, 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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nichoVolvo Ocean Race Breaking News

We’re extremely stoked to be able to report to you with 100% confidence that Chris Nicholson will get another shot at winning the Volvo Ocean Race this coming October!  VOR fans will remember the affable Aussie sailing to a runner-up spot in the last two editions of the race, including an incredible run from the back to nearly a win in the previous race as skipper of Camper.  

Multiple sources have told us the the former 49er standout is the guy with the helm for the final Volvo 65, and the fact that we haven’t been able to reach him despite blowing up a dozen connections over the past two days might even provide a little confirmation in itself (we’re told he is ‘out of internet range’).  This confirms what we reported hearing back in June, but there’s a new twist; rather than Russian sponsorship as we opined, it now appears that one of a select few Danish corporate giants will be footing the bill as title sponsor for a Danish-flagged Volvo 65.

It isn’t hard to name the Danish companies with deep involvement in the Volvo; Satcomm giant Thrane & Thrane and shipping behemoth Maersk have been major corporate partners and sponsors for the race for years, and if the VOR allowed them, either would probably be happy to be a title sponsor for a team put together by a two-time runner-up in the race.  But our favorite rumor, and one that we think may be the real deal, is that monster windpower manufacturer and installer Vestas will be behind the effort.

The name Vestas is probably better-known to our readers than many sailing sponsors thanks to an extremely effective branding campaign with Paul Larsen’s wildly successful  Sailrocket world speed record program, and a Volvo team makes some sense for them; while they still are at the top of their field, significant competition has seen their market share erode since the mid 2000s despite their growth throughout the world.  A major international effort in a green sport like sailing could help drive the Vestas name to a wider audience, while the hospitality part should be easy; Volvo has been accommodating the folks at Maersk and Thrane for years.

While we’re not as sure of the Vestas connection as we are of Nicho’s appearance, allow us some wishful thinking; how cool would it be to have a giant windpower sponsor – one we already dig because of their support of the batshit-crazy overachiever Paul Larsen –  in the sport’s most visible ocean racing challenge?  And with one of the sport’s coolest customers and best racers at the stick?

We love it, and fans of great racing should love it, too.  While it is indeed the 11th hour, with just 8 weeks left until the gun sounds in Alicante, we have zero doubt that Nicho can put together a shit-kicking team, and with Neil Cox back in his role as one of the world’s most highly regarded shore/team managers in the game, we expect the Vestas boys to be damned fast, out of the box.  Bouwe, Ian, Iker, and Nicho all have some seriously unfinished business ahead of them, and it just got a lot tougher to win.

This is going to be war…and we just got a new favorite for the win.

MORE BREAKING NEWS

In another bit of somewhat astonishing news that continues to throw the early form guide into disarray, we have also recently learned that France’s most famous and legendary living sailor, Michel Desjoyeaux, will indeed race aboard the Spanish Team Campos, as a Watch Captain, filling in for Iker as skipper during the two or three legs when he’ll be off on Olympic duty in the Nacra 17.  Not many people can say they’ve got MichDej sailing for them as a watch captain.

Want more?  Hit the thread.

 

August 2nd, 2014 by admin

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DeRidderVOD65As the entire world (or maybe just a few thousand die-hard ocean racing fans on the SA Forums) waits for the identity of the mysterious skipper behind the 7th and final Volvo Ocean Race team, just the other day,  former Mean Machine owner Peter De Ridder got behind the helm of one of the VOD65s and, if you believe the look on his face, had a hell of a time.

If you’re new to this whole game, De Ridder made plenty of noise on the international one-design and box rule circuits, with highly successful and well-oiled Mean Machine Farr 40, Mumm 30, and TP52 campaigns, and a hot pink paint job that you couldn’t miss.  When he announced his VOR campaign and bought a previous generation boat to train on, everyone cheered; it’s not every day an amateur owner/driver steps up to the Volvo.

Alas, the global financial crisis emptied PDR’s petty cash box out quite rapidly, and with no sponsors jumping, he pulled the plug on the Volvo challenge, staying out of the high end of the sport altogether for the past few years.

Yet here he is in Europe, sailing around on a Volvo 65.  Is this the beginning of something new, or is PDR just having a go with a few of his old pals?  Or is De Ridder getting in some practice for his new boat – a Volvo 65 named Mean Machine? We don’t know more – do you?

 

July 28th, 2014 by admin

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That shock of fuzzy hair looking over things at the back of the unbranded (though the color gives away Spanish bank MAPFRE) Team Campos VOR is no other than France’s top ocean sailor, Michel Desjoyeux at the start of the ‘Round the Canaries’ race – the first real tète-a-tète for any of the VOD65s yet.  While it’s impossible to find anything on the official VOR site about this pre-race race, we can tell you that the legendary Mich Dej was apparently not enough to overcome Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel, with the girls coming home 8 minutes behind Team Campos.  With the final team still unannounced (and some thinking that a desperate VOR may finally be giving Boat 7 to the chronically underfunded Giovanni Soldini/Maserati), it’s still early days, though the addition of Desjoyeaux to an extremely skilled and experienced Spanish team makes them the odds-on favorite in our book.  He’s that good.  While VOR’ers are playing it very close to the bone, we think there’s a good chance we’ll see Mich racing at least part of this Volvo.

With plenty of sexist assholes still thinking the girls don’t have a shot, we think they acquitted themselves quite well, and continue to have high hopes for Team SCA winning a leg or three…here’s their report, and the go-to spot to chat about the pre-race is right over here in Ocean Racing Anarchy.

Photo from Pierre Orphanidis/Vsail.Info with a load more here.

 

July 22nd, 2014 by admin

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droneWe love the innovation in coverage that we’ve seen from quadcopter/drone shooters over the past year, but it’s time to inject a little common sense into the mix before we see the first inevitable fiery crash.  The problem comes not from your little Phantom crashing into a boat, after which you might need to pay for a sail repair – no, the big issue is something that any drone operator should realize is a REALLY BIG DEAL: Other aircraft.  So here’s our Public Safety Announcement:  DO NOT DLY YOUR DRONE ANYWHERE NEAR HELICOPTERS OR SMALL PLANES.  If a bird can take down a jet and a sparrow fart can take down a helicopter, what do you think your quadcopter can do?  It can kill, and if it does, you will end up either in jail or bankruptcy court when they sue you for tens of millions for wrongful death.  Plus, you’ll have fucking killed someone!  Don’t believe us? Here’s a note from a well-known videographer.

Want to know the sketchiest thing that’s ever happened to me when shooting from a helicopter?  It happened yesterday, just off Fort Adams, while I was shooting the Alvimedica and Abu Dhabi teams as they set out from Newport for Europe.

While we were flying along chasing boats, the pilot suddenly yelled “FUCKING DRONE!” and threw in a huge turn and began climbing hard.  Suddenly, looking out the open door, I’m staring at a toy that could eviscerate our tail rotor and kill us all.  It passes 50 feet below us in the opposite direction; so close that I can easily see that it is a Phantom 2 with a GoPro Hero aboard.

I’m sure I love my drone just as much as the guy who shot this video, but when helicopters are in the air, all drones should be grounded.

-Near-Miss in Newport

 

July 11th, 2014 by admin

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Anyone who spent last summer wincing at the sound of “Oracle Team USA” when referring to a 12-man team with 1.5 Americans aboard will be slightly happier to learn that the Team Alvimedica Volvo 65 will include at least 4 US-based sailors in its Newport-based boat.  Skippers Charlie Enright and Mark Towill officially named Newport badass Nick Dana to the crew, while Amory Ross will reprise his role as On-Board Reporter, though this time with far more freedom than he had during the PUMA days.  That’s four Americans out of 9 total spots (including the media guy), and we understand that Enright is working hard to reach agreement with another US sailor, who we hear is San Fran skiff legend Matt Noble, though that remains unconfirmed.

We can’t hide our disappointment that the kids behind who created the All-American Offshore Team decided they couldn’t perform in the VOR with a young, fully US crew, especially given the non-Americans they named for their official roster: Inshore one-design racer Alberto Bolzan (ITA), 50 year-old navigator Will Oxley (AUS), and Kiwi Volvo Ocean Race backmarkers Ryan Houston (Delta Lloyd, Sanya) and Dave Swete (Sanya).  Could they really find no US offshore and inshore one-design performers with back-of-pack VOR experience like Housty and Swetey?

We admit that we know very little about the constraints the Alvi team is operating under, and we’re happy to see that they are clearly serious about putting together a team with a chance.  But we’re still sad to see the final nail in the coffin of the Morning Light/King’s Point/All-American Offshore Team; a great bunch of kids that we’ve been following since we met the Disneys and the kids at the Morning Light premier about a decade ago.

Head over to the Team Alvi Facebook Page here for the full story, and re-live Mark and Charlie’s first VOR interview with SA from all the way back in February.

 

July 7th, 2014 by admin

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IkerAnother of the worst-kept secrets in sailing went public this morning, with Spain’s Pedro Campos proving to be the ultimate masochist in the Volvo Ocean Race; 4 consecutive races and 4 consecutive disappointments…will number 5 be the one?  With Iker and Xavi signed up under Campos’ generally strong management team, you know they are instant contenders.  But they’ve given a hell of a head start to the rest of the fleet…

Spain’s representation was never in doubt, but it’s good to know that Alicante will have a million visitors rather than half a million; let’s just hope Spain’s Volvo team is better than their futbol squad

We’re told the final announcement will drop in days, and that the final entry is a Dutch semi-pro team.  Mean Machine?  Some Tonnerre money with a Delta Lloyd kicker?  We have NO idea, but it’s fun to speculate – and the best place to do so is right over here in aisle 6.

UPDATE: Now we’re hearing that Chris Nicholson is the call with a private entry.  Could it be the Russian owner of Skyy Vodka, who got to know Nicho during the last Volvo and as a major sponsor of the ETNZ Cup effort?  Or maybe Nicho got occasional employer/owner and private army gazillionaire Tony Buckingham involved as a backer?  We think Russia sounds most likely, but there’s a lot of risk and weirdness associated with it.

 

 

June 19th, 2014 by admin

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Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 9.28.24 AMPro:  We’re a little old to have jumped on the Instagram bandwagon, but there’s no denying it’s a cool tool to reach lots of people, and we think it is great that even a ‘conservative’ entry like the Abu Dhabians is embracing the latest in social media delivery.

Con: When you print all this promotional shit on the bottom of your boat, your message makes us a bit uncomfortable.  You’ve either got very little faith in your keel, or a whole lot of faith in your underwater camera work.  Or maybe it is just a very clever answer to the perennial sponsor question: “Where do we get value if you flip the boat and have to retire from the race?”

 

June 18th, 2014 by admin

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