Monday, November 30, 2020

VENDÉE GLOBE: ISABELLE


One of the revelations of this Vendée is Isabelle Joschke. Not that I didn't know her already, or that I didn't have great respect for her as a sailor, since the days of the Minis, but on her first Vendée consistently better than Samantha Davies?.... and aligning hour after hour some of the best averages, among the 2 or 3 fastest racers? 

Well, this is news and good news.

Cheers to Isabelle who just a few days ago, when her boat had a serious breakage, said that she was not at all satisfied with her performance. Well, she must be satisfied now. Better than that just to be the fastest of them all LOL.


Monday, November 23, 2020

ELAN GT6 STYLED BY PORSCHE


The GT6 is designed by Humphreys Yacht Design but they make such a fuss about the boat being styled by Porsche that I chose to mention it in the title. I don't see any reason for such a big relevance about that. In fact, the Porsche design cabinet has nothing to do with the Porsche car brand except being founded by the same person, Ferdinand Porsche, who died 60 years ago. The design firm was continued by his son, with the same name (died 20 years ago) and for many decades it has had nothing to do with the car brand.

As a design cabinet, it is not specialized in yacht styling and interior design, as other design cabinets are, and it is not even one of the big ones in what regards generalist design, but I guess the name Porshe associated with a boat that wants to have a sportive image will help the sales.

Luxury and power, it is how they describe the GT6 and the Porsche link suggests just that, but the boat power and performance deny that association even if the looks are well sorted out with the big freeboard being very well disguised by a sculptured hull with integrated "windows". The yacht looks like a mini maxi yacht, and that's precisely what they want it to look like. Two powerful associations.

It is difficult to evaluate the boat performance through the design because while the boat displacement is given as 14,327kg by some magazines that tested the boat, it is given as 12,450kg on the boat site, a huge difference. I have already commented here about the cloudy information regarding boat displacements, being the numbers referred by the brands the estimated project displacement that was used to certify the yacht, not the real number (after the yacht being built and weighted) and in some cases in boats of this size I have heard about differences of way more than 1000kg.

This is something that RCD should address, weighting the boats after being built, not only because the information to the consumers is misleading, with some brands being much more optimistic than others, but also because the AVS and the final stability, if the weight is different and bigger, will not be the ones referred on the technical documents that served to certify the boat, but poorer ones because with more weight and the same ballast the AVS gets lower as well as the final stability.
Solaris 47

12,450kg is a very good displacement for a 47fter with this type of interior, similar to the Solaris 47 displacement (12,600kg), on a hull that is beamier (4.49m - 4.36), has a similar hull length (14.33m - 14.35) and a close LWL ( 13.50 - 13.40m). 

Both boats have the beam brought back to the transom but the design is different having the Elan a much more marked chine than the one on the Solaris, that is also higher on the hull allowing more heel before being active.

On the Elan that chine (and hull design), will limit heel but will also diminish its performance upwind and on lighter winds. Forward, the hull entries are finner on the Solaris and if we add all that to the Solaris 47 bigger B/D (34% - 31%), the torpedo keel bigger draft (2.80 - 2.45m) and the bigger Solaris sail area (129m2 - 114m2) we will have to conclude that even if the displacement is the lower one (12,450kg) the Solaris will be considerably faster in all points of sail, and much more in light winds.

It will also be considerably slower than the Grand Soleil 48 or the  44, slower than the X4-9 (that is only slighter bigger) and that makes the GT denomination misleading as well as the Porsche connotation in what regards speed.

That resulted clear on a sail-test by Floatmagazine, in Croatia with wind conditions that went from 8 to 17 knots of wind: with 8.3 knots TW (true wind) and at 85º TWA, speed was 6.3 kt. The same speed at 130º with 13kt of wind. With 14 knots TW and a 90º TWA (true wind angle) they made 7.7 knots. With 17 knots and 75 degrees TWA, they reached nine knots.

They seemed very satisfied with the performance but that is not a good performance for a performance cruiser particularly with weak winds and they did not even test the close upwind performance with light wind, but if the boat was only making 6.3kt with 85ºTWA and 8.3TW, that performance can only be poor for a performance sailboat.

On the Yachting world magazine sail test Toby Hodges (in the movie at the end) did not seem so enthusiastic about the boat performance, pointing out that it is not a high-performance cruiser.

This doesn't mean that the Elan GT6is a bad sailing boat just that it is not a "Porsche" neither a Gran Turismo but just a good sailing boat on the frontier between main production cruisers and performance cruisers and I say good sailing boat because all testers reported the yacht's good manners at the wheel as well as the easiness in controlling the boat.

Now that I cleared that point it is only fair to say that Elan GT6 has some very well-designed features like the fixed cockpit tables that are not very intrusive when closed and offer handlebars and feet support for the ones that are seated on the cockpit when the boat is heeled. Handlebars are something that is very well treated not only on the cockpit but as well as in the boat interior.

Elan GT6
Also interesting the cockpit table possibility to go down offering a night berth with lateral support for sailing the boat into the night and have some rest. This set-up will work also for a siesta at anchor or for the ladies to get their tan.

The Bimini is huge and with the sprayhood cover all the cockpit at the cost of a less efficient main control system, that is over the cabin, without a traveler (that is optional) and with the two blocks fixation points not as separated as in some other boats, allowing only a mainsail limited trimming.

The running rigging is, unfortunately, the one that is more common today with only four winches that are well located, two of them electric. On the positive side, it comes with two small genoa tracks instead of the more common self-tacking traveler, allowing the use of a small genoa.

Solaris 47

The cabin height has an unexpected advantage in making it easier to store the sail on the sail bag and making it unnecessary to have two steps on the mast, probably one will be enough.

The space behind the wheels is not big. Enough, but not optimal and that's due to two big cabinets behind that serve as seats, one with a freezer inside, the other with a nice integrated grill. Certainly two nice touches for enjoying life while cruising.


The outside storage by today's standards is good with a sail locker near the bow, a central floor cockpit locker, another one aft and another under the starboard cockpit seat.

The interior that Elan says " delivers a luxurious experience" is of good quality if we take into account what test sailors said.

I had not the opportunity to see this one and with this Covid shit over Europe, I don't know when I will be able to do so, because boat saloons have been canceled everywhere, but I have seen other Elan and they have a good quality interior, not at the same level as the more expensive boats, but certainly better than mass production brands. I would say at the same level as Dehler.

In what regards interior design it seems better than the Dehler and even better than the smaller boat on the same line, the GT5, with some interesting details like an orientable big TV that enters the furniture and disappears, the same with a micro-wave that goes down and allows a bigger space to prepare food or the saloon table that has two positions, smaller or bigger using an ingenious rotating system.

For many, an interior with a big height is associated with luxury and that´s for those that this raised cabin is designed. It also provides lots of light but does not allow an outside view. It has also disadvantages like increasing windage and allowing sun and heat to enter when not desired and the shades to prevent that seem difficult to operate unless you are a giant. I confess that I am not a fan of big height on boat cabins, a bit over 2.00m is alright for me and over 2.20 unnecessary, but that's a question of taste.

What really seems wrong is a stove without an opening above or without a mechanical smoke (and fat) extractor. The same happens on the smaller GT5 but they can open a small "window" on the plexiglass surface, at the owner's request, except that here it would have to be much higher and I doubt that it would be practical to use due to that. A mechanical extraction system should have been thought of as standard on this yacht.

The Elan GT6 comes with three refrigerators and an incorporated small freezer and that is very nice, but it needs lots of energy to keep them running. And for that it would be necessary either a huge area of solar panels, that are not an option, or, most likely, a generator but the engine compartment is very limited without space for one, or other additional equipment.

In the Sailing Today test they refer that "there is space for a generator and watermaker aft of the engine under the cockpit sole" but that space seems to be occupied by a large and deep central cockpit locker and it is not shown in any of  the detailed "walk through" videos neither in any photos on the brand site or magazines. I also haven't seen on the photos and several videos any access to such a space. Quite a mystery that I would certainly be interested in unveiling, when I will have the opportunity to visit the boat.https://www.sailingtoday.co.uk/featured/boat-test-elan-gt6/

The layout has strong and week points. The galley seems good, the port side big seating area with the two-sized table looks very, nice but on the starboard side the very small chart table seems an add on and to be even worse the seating position is backward to the bow. Difficult to understand the utility of that space, even with the chart table converted into seating that looks uncomfortable and awkward. It would be better used for a big chart table and related storage space for a PC and a truly comfortable seating for the skipper.

The reason why that space is odd has to do with the space occupied by a big toilet that enters obtrusively in the saloon area and does not allow for a nice sized chart table/sofa with two seats, one on each side, a solution that is used on many boats and that allows a multi-functional space.

There is no space for that solution and I understand the utility of having two toilets with big separated showers but I don't understand why on the two cabin version that toilet is not brought a bit aft, into the storage "cabin" allowing for a two-seat decent chart table solution, given more space to the saloon and making it a lot nicer.

Sure, it makes production cheaper, but what one would gain in comfort, space, and beauty, more than makes for the difference in price. This has not to do with the designer but with a brand policy to have minimal changes between the two cabin and three cabin versions, that I believe is wrong and that takes away cruising potential to several boats on Elan line and none more than on the E5 that could have a good galley on the 2 cabin version, instead of an under-dimensioned one. I am quite sure that has a negative effect on sales, much bigger than what the small increase in price would have.

Elan followed brands that choose not to disclose on their site detailed information regarding how the boat is built. I asked several times for a brochure and standard specifications (that you have to demand on their site) but I didn't receive anything.

After I had published the post someone has sent me the information I asked. The hull and deck are built using vacuum infusion on a sandwich, using as core closed-cell foam and vynilester resins are employed. The hull structure is also infused and three bulkheads are made in a "glass plywood sandwich) and laminated to the hull and deck. The kell is a cast-iron one.

I saw once at Dusseldorf some cuts of the GT5 hull and I was not very impressed with the core small thickness but the presentation was bad and it was hard to understand from what part of the hull the samples had been taken. I saw on the same occasion cuts from Grand Soleil 46 hull and I was better impressed. 

Anyway, the materials and building methods are better than the ones used on mass production builders, except in what concerns the keel that is made the same way (cast iron). On the options list there is not an option for a better performance one, and that's odd because the standard one has only 1.99 m draft and on the specifications they talk about a better performance one with 2.45 m draft, which seems more indicated for a boat with this lenght. The same can be said regarding the spars where only the bowsprit can be in carbon. The mast and boom can be painted in black but that does not improve performance.

A nice boat with some very interesting solutions that could have been a lot nicer if some points were better addressed. It is worth mentioning that it comes standard with teak decks. 

Not a boat for someone that is looking for a true performance cruiser ( a Porsche) but an option for the ones that are looking for a main cruiser, the type that is usually produced by big brands, wants a better-built sailboat and also one with a better performance upwind in medium to heavy weather, at a higher price (369 000 euros without VAT) but not as higher as other options like for instance a Saare 46, but not far of the price of a Grand Soleil 46LC (379 000) even if the GS is a foot smaller.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

WILL LE CAM BE ABLE TO DO IT AGAIN ON SAINT HELLEN HIGH?


On the southern highway, against much faster sailboats, I will go cross-country as soon as I can, says Le Cam in this cartoon. It should say on the way to the Southern highway, but it is really what we all are waiting to see, whether or not he can do it again, if he can cross Saint Hellen high much better than the others and recover the leadership.

Linkedout, Ruyant's boat
Right at the beginning of the Vendée, when Ruyant and Dalin were many places behind Thomson, after Beyou had problems, I commented, on my facebook page, where I am following the race in detail, that the three that are leading would leave all the others behind, that if they did not break, one of them would win the Vendée, and that I would bet on Ruyant. 

And it seems I got it right, the three continue heading towards Southeast increasing, every hour, the distance to the others and there is no one who is able to match them in speed, except from time to time Simon, the only one in the two groups on the head of the race, who, like them has a new boat (2018/2019). 

Hugo Boss, Thomson's boat
Once again it shows how fast the evolution in these boats is and how good the naval architects who design them are, to the point that a boat designed 4 years ago is no longer competitive, at the highest level. Truth be told that unfortunately the best boat of the previous generation, the old Hugo Boss, is not competing, having been bought by an American to do the Ocean race, which unfortunately has been postponed. 
1
We can see that the first three are going at full speed without anyone else being able to keep up with them, everyone on the second group losing miles and that has been like that for days. 

Apivia, Dalin's boat
Among the leading trio, today, between 4.00 in the morning and 8.00, the fastest was Dalin (23.2) who is now chasing Thomson, who scored an average of 20.7 kt in the last four hours. Ruyant, who now leads, made the same average speed as Thomson.

In the second group Le Cam continues to surprise by making 17.4 and being faster than Samantha (15.4) and Burton (16.5), but Burton is placing his boat further West, sailing with a worse wind angle than that of Le Cam, which is the one that is sailing more to Southeast and that will cross the anti-cyclone of Saint Hellen more to the East. 

We'll see if he can get again another rabbit out of the hat and win a lot of miles there to everyone, as he has done before. Between the ones leading it is Ruyant who is more to the East and therefore also being the slowest of the three in the head of the race.

Yes we Cam, Le Cam's boat
In the second group four were faster than Le Cam, Escoffier (17.6), Boris (18.0), Bestaven (17.8) and Simon (18.2) but the truth is that they recovered little. 

Between 8.00 in the morning and 14.00 hours it has been pretty much the same, with the three leading boats going away from the second group, with Ruyant matching Thomson's speed, both doing 20.2kt average and with Dalin approaching them almost 2kts faster, doing 22.3kt. 

Behind, on the second group, Le Cam is doing 16.4 being faster than Escoffier (14.5) but slower than all others, with Samantha doing 16.8, Simon 17.1, Burton 17.7, Bestaven 19.2 and Boris 19.3. From all the others only Pedote on the third group was able to match these speeds doing 17.1kts. But again, Le Cam not losing much ground.

Le Cam is doing an incredible race but the reason he can do so well has not only to do with his great sailing but because this Vendée has been very slow, with winds weaker than previous ones and that does not allow the new foilers to show all their potential. 

To understand how much slower this Vendée has been if compared with the previous one we can compare the position of the one that is leading this one, with the position of the one that was leading last year, on a slower boat at the same time. Armel last year with 21days of race had already passed the Cape of Good Hope three days ago! 

At this point, approaching Saint Hellen High it's navigators’ turn again and the game is open in what regards choosing the best course to cross the weak winds of Saint Hellen high-pressure center, in the most efficient way, towards the highway of the southern winds. 

Here, in a day you can win or lose what you have won or lost at pure speed in 15 days. The big game is open, bets are accepted. 

The ones that want to follow this race with me can do so on my facebook page commenting in English or in your language. I will write in Portuguese but can reply in your language, if I can. Facebook has a good translator and that is great.




Thursday, November 19, 2020

"YES WE CAM !" LE CAM'S IMOCA


Le Cam is making a hell of a Vendée Globe in an older boat without modern foils. But where did his boat come from? 

The boat, which he has owned since 2015 and is now called "Yes we Cam!" was launched in 2007, the design a collaboration between Farr Yacht Design and Michel Desjoyeaux. 

At the time it was called Foncia and that boat would win the 2007 Transat Jacques Favre, the 2008/2009 Vendée Globe and the 2014/2015 Barcelona World Race, among other races while changing its name. 

After being Foncia it changed the name to Telefónica Movistar, then Mapfre, then Maître Coq, Mare, Cheminées Poujoulat, Finistère Mer Vent, Corum L'Épargne before being named “Yes we Cam!”. 

It was the boat on which Beyou made the 2012/2013 Vendée Globe (abandon) and where Le Cam made the previous Vendée, finishing in 6th place. I doubt that he can make it 6th on this one due to the large number of faster boats with modern foils, unless many of them break. 

Anyway a fast boat with a big history and one that can be very efficient in IRC races with a class for IMOCAS, because it is not only fast but also more versatile than the current faster boats, sailing better upwind and with lighter winds, an interesting sailboat.

On the photos, as Maître Coq, with Beyou sailing on the 2012/2013 Vendée and as Foncia winning the 2009/2009 Vendée with Desjoyeaux.

Monday, November 16, 2020

VENDÉE GLOBE: A WOMAN AS FAST AS THE FASTEST MEN



I am talking about Samantha who was the only one to achieve, without a new boat, an average of more than 20 knots (20.4) during the last 4 hours, on the Vendée Globe !!!  

The ones that came closer were Boris, who is trying not to let her go away, (19.9), Burton (19.0), Escoffier (18.3), Bestaven (18.4), all on boats of the same generation as Sam's, older boats with modern foils, and all making a hell of a race. 


In previous generation boats, without modern foils (with daggerboards), the fastest on the last 4 hours were Dutreux (18.2), Seguin (18.1) and Le Cam (17.9). 

In the new and faster boats Ruyant and Dalin, who are in pursuit of Thomson, were on the last 12 hours faster than the British and are gaining on him slowly. Ruyant and Dalin made an average of 21.3 knots in the last 4 hours while Thomson made 20.2 knots. 


Previously Ruyant and Dalin lost a lot of mileage on a route to the West that proved to be a bad option and gave a big advantage to Thomson, who chose a faster route and his leading the race. On the first stages Le Cam, on an older boat without modern foils dominated the race before wind conditions became favorable to the new boats. Under those conditions, that will be prevalent during the race, the new boats can be 3 or 4 kts faster than older boats without modern foils. 


Further back, the other modern boat that was among the fastest of the previous generation, Corum sailed by Troussel lost the mast and abandoned the race. 

Unless they break the boats, one of those three, racing on the fastest new boats, Thomson, Ruyant or Dalin will win this Vendee. A pity the problems on Beyou’s boat otherwise it would be four and not three fighting for the victory.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

VIRGIN MOJITO 650

On a small cruising boat, more than on a bigger one, it makes sense to maximize hull form stability and interior living space and that's what Mojito 650 is about. But its hull is not only designed to maximize space but also to offer maximum performance downwind. It is the one of the Maxi 650, the mini-racer that is a winner in the mini-class races.

There are differences, starting on the displacement, 950kg on the racer, 1200kg on the Mojito and on the sail area that is (upwind) respectively 44sqm and 38sqm. The keels are different too, a torpedo one on the racer and a swing one, with all the ballast on the keel, on the cruising boat even if this one can also have the racing keel.

It has a 1.60m draft on the fixed keel and 0.80/1.85m on the swing one. The superior area upwind on the racing boat, on a lighter boat, indicates a bigger B/D but both boats are certified as class C boats. That is not a good reference in what regards final and safety stability. Unfortunately, neither IDB neither David Raison, the designer, disclose the ballast in any of the boats.

It is very difficult to reunite on such a small boat the qualifications to have it certified as a class A boat, but not impossible as the Mini-racer Pogo3 demonstrates. I find odd the Virgin Mojito 650 not to be certified on at least Class B and certainly if I was interested in buying one I would certainly want to know more about the boat stability, particularly about RM at 90º, final stability, AVS and downflooding angle.

I have no doubt that the overall stability, due to the huge beam (3.0m) and the shape of the hull, with its rounded bow, will be a good one for a hull with 6.50m length, and I have no doubt that it will have an excellent performance downwind, a  very good one while beam reaching and even a satisfactory one upwind with the deep swinging keel (1.85m) help, at least on a flat sea.

The relatively good performance upwind may sound strange but the truth is that the racer, on a flat sea has an upwind performance as good as the one of a racer with a normal bow, or even slightly better due to more stability and the ability to carry more sail.

Of course, due to a lesser B/D the cruiser will not have such a good performance but I believe that even so, it would not be a bad one if we take into account the boat's large beam and understand that performance will degrade rapidly if waves are to be met, especially short-period waves, like the ones that are common on the Med or on the Baltic.

On such a small boat I find these trade-offs perfectly acceptable (with a reserve for the final stability) and the Virgin Mojito 650 has the potential to have a surprisingly good cruising interior, the layout showing an innovative galley solution and lots of storage. 

We will see if they manage to materialize that potential on the prototype that has already the hull and the cabin built, and it looks good!

About the way it is built, that at the IDB shipyard is normally a good one, I cannot say much because they don't use the habitual core material but they say this boat is"eco-innovative" and use a core made with linen, PET and cork. 

I know about cores made of cork but I have no idea about what they are talking about mixing linen, PET (plastic used on water bottles) and cork.

The rest seems pretty much the usual building techniques they use, for instance on the 650 racer, infusion, a polyester resin, with a boat structure made of contremouled frames, bonded, and stratified to the hull.

The IDB boats are not cheap, quality having a price, and this one is not an exception at 64 723 euros for a boat on the shipyard, without taxes, without an engine, without sails, without salon table, mini-galley, chemical toilet or interior lights. 

All those items are options as well as the engine that can be an interior one or an outboard. You can download here the list of options that is substantial:
https://idbmarine.com/fr/mojito/650/virginmojito650.php

Here you can see the racing version at speed. The cruising one will not sail as fast but on the right conditions, I am sure it will sail at double-digit speeds downwind.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

VENDÉE GLOBE 2020 STARTS IN A WEEK: ALL ABOUT IT



In these pandemic sad times, it is very satisfying to see that nothing will stop the Vendée Globe, that contrary to other recent yacht races, will have the biggest number of racers ever. There will be 33 IMOCA and 33 sailors at the starting line and among them six women a vast improvement over the last edition that did not count any.

Sadly and for understandable reasons the crowd that used to salute the sailors when they leave Sables-d'Ollone will not be there and the Vendée Globe Village was closed and the crowds cannot visit the race boats and talk with the skippers but I bet that this edition will be, by far, the one most audience.

Never so many competitive boats were racing on a Vendée: 13 were built in the last 5 years and 16 boats are between 9 and 13 years old, among them 10 redesigned with foils and only 3 boats with 20 years or more. The victory should come from one of the new boats all sailed by very experienced sailors with the exception of Kojiro Shiraishi who sails a 2019 VPLP.

Also designed by VPLP, Charal (2018) sailed by Jérémie Beyou, Hugo Boss (2019) sailed by Alex Thomson. Verdier designed two, Apivia (2019) sailed by Charlie Dalin and Linkedout (2019) sailed by Thomas Ruyant. JK designed also two, Arkea-Paprec (2019) sailed by Sébastien Simon and Corum (2020) sailed by Nicolas Troussel and finally, Sam Manuard designed the last of the new boats, L'Occitane (2020), sailed by Armel Tripon.

On the last race ( Vendée-Arctique) Samantha Davis showed that she and Initiatives Coeur (2010-VPLP-Verdier), one of the boats that were redesigned with foils could be almost as fast as the new boats, in fact, she was way faster than  Kojiro Shiraishi on a new boat as well as Kevin Escoffier PRB (2009 -VPLP-Verdier) that arrived close to Samantha showing that they can fight, probably not for the victory but for a podium place.

L'Ocittane designed by Sam Manuard and sailed by Armel Tripon, the last to be launched and the most radical of all Imocas, did not prove well, not being very fast at the beginning and soon damaged and forced to retire. The boat was repaired and we will see if it goes faster on the Vendée, even if I have some doubts.

It is said that the two best solo offshore sailors, Armel Le Cléac'h and Francois Gabart will not be racing, having chosen to race multihulls instead of monohulls. In this race the new generation will try to beat the "old-timers", the most experienced and legendary ones, Alex Thompson, Jérémie Beyou and Samantha Davies and the best between the young guns seem to be Thomas Ruyant and Charlie Dalin.

Charlie comes from the Figaro where he was a champion and learned the ropes on the IMOCA class with Yann Eliès one of the best ever on the Figaro, but not very lucky on the bigger boats. Thomas Ruyant has a different formation, first a top mini-racer sailor, then a top 40 class racer and then making the last Vendée on an old boat, sailing fast and refusing to abandon his boat even when it was almost broken in two, managing to bring it to NZ. You can recall that incredible story here:

https://interestingsailboats.blogspot.com/2016/12/more-drama-on-vendee-globe.html

https://interestingsailboats.blogspot.com/2016/12/what-do-you-call-drama-with-happy-end.html

Now, the public attention he got allowed him to have more sponsorship and a new boat. On this Vendée, he is there not only to show what he is capable to do, but to try to win the race.

The Vendée will start at 1.02PM, November 8th and as usual, will be transmitted live on many television channels, on Facebook and Twiter. There's also an App that you can download to follow the race. Here:

https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/vend%C3%A9e-globe-2020/id1531491499

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.vendeeglobe.www.twa

As usual, I will follow the race here. After the Ocean Race unexpected postponement, this will be the biggest offshore sailing event of 2020/2021 and I say unexpected because these races are mostly followed on the internet, the crews spend most of the time at sea and in the case of the Ocean Race only minor adaptations and precautions would be needed for the race to take place.

I hope many of you choose to follow it with me enriching the blog with your comments, making it better and more fun.