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flying

At its boot Düsseldorf press conference last week, Finnish yacht-builder Nautor’s Swan said that the renewal of its product range has contributed to enhancing its financial performance. Turnover has risen 26% following the renewal of the range, which currently sees six new models in build. This has resulted in an active order book in excess of €110m, with 11 yachts being delivered in 2018 and over 20 anticipated this year. The new line comprises the Swan 48, 65, 98 and 120, together with the ClubSwan 36 and 125, the former of which features an inboard version of Torqeedo’s Cruise 10.0 electric drive system. With six new models in construction, Nautor’s Swan is confirming its leadership across a wide range – from 10m-40m (39ft-131ft). Three distinct divisions, Swan Yachts, ClubSwan Yachts and the Maxi Swan Division, enable Nautor to respond to all market needs. Read on thanks to IBI....

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see it

Here’s a sneak preview of the just-released documentary film about Vendée Globe competitor (and one time Seahorse contributor) Mike Plant. It’s an amazing, probably unrivalled glimpse into the psyche of a solo sailing icon Mike Plant was one of the most remarkable and fascinating figures ever to compete in solo ocean sailing, widely admired for his prodigious talent, superhuman toughness and single-minded determination. He burst onto the scene out of nowhere in the mid-1980s, built his own Open 50 on a shoestring and won his class in the first race he entered, the 1986- 87 BOC Challenge. In a career that spanned just five years before he was lost at sea while sailing his radical new Open 60 Coyote to the start of the second Vendée Globe, Plant achieved more – against all odds, sailing around the world three times by the seat of his pants – than most professional sailors do in a lifetime. Read on....

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it happens

A pair of sailors competing in the 334-boat Three Bridge Fiasco race Saturday were left rudderless after a collision with a whale in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Adam Spiegel, a technology CFO in San Francisco and his sailing partner had been roughly an hour into the grueling "short-handed" race around the Bay's three central bridges before the incident occurred. They'd rounded one the race's marks called Blackaller up by Fort Point near the Golden Gate Bridge and were heading toward Red Rock Island at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge when their J/105 sailboat abruptly came to a stop. "All of a sudden it felt like we'd ran aground," Spiegel told SFGATE. A second or two later, Spiegel said, there was another thud, followed by another thud. Then, the pair heard a loud, cracking noise and what sounded like a splintering sound coming from the 35-foot fiberglass racing sloop. After that, a gray whale, which Spiegel estimated to be at least 25 feet long surfaced next to them. Spiegel couldn't see any blood in the water or injuries to the whale, but they wondered if the whale was going to "come after" them. They also wondered whether their boat was going to sink. They figured out they'd lost partial steerage and couldn't get back safely on their own. Spiegel and his crew didn't report the collision to the Coast Guard. Soon after, the dockmaster of the St. Francis Yacht Club came out in a powerboat to rescue the pair and escort them back. The boat's rudder was dislodged and the underside of the yacht was scraped up by barnacles on the whale, Spiegel said. It's still not clear if the whale suffered any injuries from the small boat, which would have been moving around 5 knots, which is around...

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Big Pimpin'

pre-order up!

Over the past 6 months, hundreds of sailors around the world have pre-ordered the Vakaros Atlas. We’re excited to be finally shipping the sailing instrument we’ve been designing for nearly two years. As a result, the pre-order period and the 20% discount for the Atlas will be coming to an end on February 3rd. After that, the Atlas will be available at its normal retail price. Thank you so much to all of the sailors who made this possible. We couldn’t have done it without you, and we can’t wait to show you what’s coming next, from software updates to advanced wireless sensors. The Vakaros Atlas is the next generation of racing instrumentation. It combines industry-leading 18 Hz GPS with a gyro-stabilized magnetic compass and a sunlight-readable graphic display to deliver the ultimate on-the-water experience. Regular software updates bring new features, and with its 300+ meter wireless range, the Atlas is ready to support external sensors, coach boats, and more. Learn more about the Atlas right here. ...

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old guys rule

It was a fun final few days for Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, the seasoned Frenchman who this morning claimed victory in the 2018-19 Golden Globe Race. After some brutal conditions in the North Atlantic the wind finally swung into the northwest allowing him a downwind slide into the finish where he crossed the line off Les Sables-d’Olonne on the west coast of France with a full main and spinnaker flying. He completed his lap of the planet in this retro race in a time of 212 days, a full one 101 days faster than the reference time set 50 years ago by Sir Robin Knox Johnston. It was by any measure an extraordinary performance by an extraordinary man and let's not forget that he is 74 years old. The Golden Globe Race celebrates the 50th anniversary of the original solo, non-stop around-the-world-race and the 18 original entrants were compelled to climb into a time machine and race around the world as if it was 1969. No electronics, no auto pilots, no satellite comms, you get the picture. Of the 18 starters only five, not counting Van den Heede, are still out there grinding their way toward the finish. To give you some perspective on how long it has been since Jean-Luc last touched dry land, how many remember what you did to celebrate July 4th (in the US)?  Jean-Luc and the rest had already been at sea for three days by then. Yes it’s a long and slow slog in a small boat all alone and that must make his arrival in France that much sweeter. The fact that his Rustler 36 named Matmut had carried him 30,000 miles with hardly any issues speaks volumes about Van Den Heede's seamansip. When Jean-Luc sailed into Les Sables-d’Olonne this morning there was a...

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the big boys

Broadly speaking there seems to be a general decline in the numbers taking part in competitive sailing, with just a few exceptions. There are of course multiple reasons playing into this and it is true of many other sports in this day and age. In the UK cricket, golf and rowing are all in decline – only cycling is growing. Perhaps the noncompetitive culture in junior schools is having an effect but it seems more likely that the competitive bar has been raised so high that unless you are in an Olympic medal-targeted elite you fall out of any sport quite early. There are now more Maxi yachts in the world than ever before. Most new builds, however, are multi-purpose yachts and not pure racers. Relatively few are competing or if competing they do so in just a few events per year. Clearly there is a change in focus. Maxi owners rely on professional help. At the top end – for example, the Maxi72 racers – it is not uncommon that the only amateur/Corinthian sailor onboard is the owner-driver; usually with an Olympic and/or America’s Cup tactician giving him clear, detailed instructions. The owner-driver aspect is very important. Just ‘keeping the cheque book dry’ and sitting on the rail loses its appeal fairly rapidly, and sadly many affluent and successful men have left the sport after such treatment. Buying a Maxi is expensive, running one even more so. At Maxi level having professionals rather than your friends onboard might be unavoidable because of the size and complexity of the boats. But when the competitive drive leaves no room for friends it must be a disincentive to many, which takes us back to the problem at junior level. A very high-achieving elite group driving out the ‘less keen’ competition who feel...

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silliness down under

Matt Allen’s team on his Botin 52 Ichi Ban may have been unlucky not to repeat their 2017 handicap win in the recent Sydney-Hobart race but they more than made up for that disappointment in the just-concluded Australian Yachting Championships sailed on Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne. In ORCi Division 1 Ichi Ban lived up to its name (“Number One’ in Japanese) by scoring an astonishing eight strait bullets in the eight-race series. Even more astonishing, that extraordinary feat was matched in ORCi Division II by Khaleesi, the DK46 owned by Andrew Dalley, who also finished first in all eight races. Hang on, that can’t be right. Let’s check the results on the regatta website. Yep. There they are: eight first places for both yachts. With one drop that gave them a perfect series score of 7 points for the national championship. So how did the other boats go? Er, well, there were no other boats in ORCi. Behold the old “one boat shall constitute a race” rule in all its silly glory. To be fair, things weren’t much better in IRC which had just four entrants in Division 1, another four in Division 2 and just three in Division 3. So only two boats in the whole event missed out on a podium finish. Nice work if you can get it! (And the organisers now have four unawarded trophies left over for next year.) - Anarchist David  ...

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