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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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how could you forget me?

From our unreal forums... This is nuts. Boat looks like it was left on a sunny afternoon ready to go out the next day. Well, almost. Roller-furling main is still in; jib was removed. But the dodger is still up. Everything basically ready to go and looks to be in good condition. And then comes the ice and sinks the thing.  Check it out!...

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move it

A recent innovation applied to the most basic form of watercraft offers potential for alternative future propulsion. Innovative lateral thinking resulted in the installation of a hydrofoil based on the equivalent of the wing layout of a scale model aircraft under a surfboard. It has revolutionized recreational surfing and has been applied to small watercraft.  Read on.  ...

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always a weapon

Sometimes when a designer draws a boat they don’t just get it right, they get it very right. That is most certainly the case with the Cookson 50 remarkably drawn 12 years ago by Bruce Farr. In the recent Royal Ocean Racing Club Transatlantic Race a Cookson 50 did it again. Skippered by VOR veteran Roberto de Bermudez de Castro, himself a veteran of 7 VOR/Whitbreads, the Cookson 50 “Kuka 3” (that’s cubed) took the victory in spite of having to pitstop to sort a problem and deal with a fire on board. De Castro compared the boat to the VO65 as having many of the same systems and abilities of that other and perhaps better known boat, curiously also drawn by the Farr design office. Kuka’s victory in the Transatlantic is added to Victoire in the Sydney Hobart, Chieftain in the Fastnet and Mascalzone Latino’s in the Rolex Middle Sea. That really only leaves the Newport Bermuda for a nap hand. In fact if you want a top 10 finish in the Tatersall Cup - that’s the real Sydney Hobart sports fans the Cookson 50 is the way to go, not something twice the size. In the last 10 years of the Sydney Hobart the Cookson 50 - just one design - has achieved 13 top 10 finishes including 4 podiums, an IRC Overall win (Victoire) and an ORCi overall win (UBOX). On the other hand the mighty 100 footers which grab all the coverage (yawn) achieved 3 top ten finishes albeit all of which were podiums with Wild Oats achieving 2 overall Tatersall Cup victories. Bang for the buck? Do I even need to ask that question? And now she has added another victory to her Curriculum Vitae. She has to be one of the most competitive designs...

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kiwi classics

New Zealand’s Mahurangi Regatta is this weekend, and our friends at OffCenterHarbor.com will be there shooting new videos. While we wait for those to come out, check out this video from their last trip Down Under....

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