Saturday, December 31, 2016

SAIL PARTY OF THE YEAR : THE BARCOLANA

Perfect conditions for sailing this October in Trieste on the Italian sail feast, the Barcolana, with many thousands of sailors. Well, maybe too much sailors for the ones that like less stressed racing but the Italians sail as they drive and nothing seems to bother them, confusion is part of their lifestyle and they seem to like it; they make a lot of noise but in the end they come always with a smile. Can be quite confusing for an outsider LOL.
The classification is not the more important on this race but the 1700 sailing boats and the many thousands of sailors, anyway the first was old Alfa Romeu, a RP 72 that beat a K80, proving that it is still a fast boat. I guess that Trieste has the biggest sailing party on this time of the year, sailors everywhere, the local beer and wine are excellent, the city beautiful. Difficult to find a better ambiance on the sea or at the coffees, breweries and restaurants, after the race.

Friday, December 30, 2016

THE 800NM INCREDIBLE RECOVERY OF ALEX THOMPSON


That was never been seen on the Vendee or in any sail race I know about, a recovering of 800 miles in 6 days!!! That is a difference of speed of 5,6K every hour during 6 days. Pretty much unbelievable, so much that some, even on a sail boat magazine (Italian one) wonder if Hugo Boss has really a broken foil. Pretty stupid since the images show that is the case. But the truth is also that Hugo Boss does not seem to be greatly affected in his competitiveness by the lack of that foil.

That recovery was only possible because Alex had much more favorable wind conditions over 6 continuous days, something never saw with this magnitude on the Vendee Globe, but there is no luck than stays forever and now they are on the same weather system, having similar conditions. The race started again, for the leadership, with Armel having only an advantage of 27nm over Alex (Hugo Boss). The sailing they have ahead and for 2 days, is a minefield, with lots of holes without wind and I believe it will be decisive for the race, or maybe not, since after that they still have the doldrums to cross, another very tricky region in what regards sailing and wind.

The next two days will be of very intense sailing, avoiding holes without wind and also two days were routing will be decisive to make a diference. After that they will get the trade wind speedway till the doldrums and a speedway were Hugo Boss will be at full potential, sailing on the side where its foil is intact.  Fantastic Vendee Globe and a great race by the two that fight for the lead.

Meanwhile, the 4th, Jean-Pierre Dick celebrates, sailing at speed and with champagne, his Cape Horn 5th passage. Chapeau!!!☺

Thursday, December 29, 2016

BEAUTIFUL NEW TOP OF THE LINE PRODUCTION YACHTS

Well, even Oysters and Swan are production boats but what I mean are big yachts from mass production brands, something that did not existed 15 years ago. Then mass production brands, the ones that produced less expensive yachts, didn't have boats over 54ft, but look now, only this year almost all brands presented big yachts over that size. And of course, it is not a coincidence but a market demand. Kind of a sad world where the rich are richer, the poor poorer and the middle class is disappearing for one side or another, well, more to one side than another ๐Ÿ˜
Anyway it is a good thing that the richest have come to yachting and cruising in such a big number that created the demand that all these boats are trying to supply. Not fair, these boats are not truly for the richest since they cost half the price of similar prestige yacht from some exclusive brands. These ones are for the ones that have the money to have them but not properly boats for billionaires, they are boats for the poorer among the rich.๐Ÿ˜ˆ
They are beautiful boats with great interiors, with a size that allows for a very comfortable living but that due to highly developed sail systems mechanization can be sailed by a couple, or even better by a couple with kids. The Grand Soleil GS 58 is the only one that points to a different clientele that joins the pleasure of living in luxury to the one of sailing and racing. Anyway they make all the sense if someone decided to sell the house and live on a boat and cost about the same price of a Catamaran between 47 and 52ft, providing about the same space.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

NEW RECORD ON THE SYDNEY HOBART AND BY PERPETUAL LOYAL!!!


The boats did not yet arrive, but almost and of course, Perpetual Loyal is winning and having a new record because Wild Oats had problems on the keel and had to retire. The big sensation on the race is Giacomo a VOR 70, old Groupama, that is in 2th beating several 100ft and also the newer Botin 80 Beau Geste. The 3rd is Scallywang, old Ragamuffin 100, now a Chinese boat owned by Seng Huang Lee. A great welcome to the Chinese. Sailing is becoming more and more popular in China and that is just great regarding world sailing.☺
To my Australian fiends: Do you want to make the Sydney Hobart a more competitive race in real time (the only one that really matters)? Follow the international sail racing rules, retiring that unfair advantage to Wild Oates in what regards using the engine for propelling sail systems, limit the size of crews to 6 and open a significant challenge for boats duo crewed. That will allow for a bigger competitiveness of smaller yachts regarding maxi yachts (that would have to be adapted for a smaller crew and would lose competitiveness). That would also contribute to increase the number of top professional racers in Australia
And before saying that it is not possible, that those big maxi need a crew of 25, let me say that is an anachronism that should be ended in what regards modern sail racing. There is a French crew on a big trimaran right now trying to beat the world's absolute circumnavigation record, this one:
Don't you find odd that you need a crew like that to win a sail race between Sydney and Hobart?

Monday, December 26, 2016

THE 2016 SYDNEY HOBART IS ON


After last year edition pointing to an internationalization of this race with several American and European boats racing, among them  Rambler and Comanche (that won the race), this year and very disappointingly, Sydney Hobart become a regional race again.

Sure, a great one but one that if does not search internationalization will became, on a global world, a side line event. I don't know what Australians can do for making it an international major sail event, or even if they are interested, but besides that several things are wrong on this race: Wild Oates using engines to power sail systems (not allowed in sail races, except on this one) and the exclusion of multihulls.

The big new on this race was CQS, a completed revamped Nicorette that proved to be a failure and almost capsized under sails on the departure, inside Sydney harbor. I had already posted about that yacht and I was very suspicious about its potencial performance and it seems with reason:
http://interestingsailboats.blogspot.pt/2016/11/new-nicorette-cqs-and-sydney-hobart.html

Without Comanche or Rambler, as usual, Wild Oates is leading and also as usual Perpetual Loyal is 2nd after a great start on the Sydney port, leading for some time the race. Regarding smaller boats no news also, the old local carbon racers and a complete absence of new production cruiser- racers.

The start, inside Sydney harbor, as always, was spectacular and you can see it on the video below:



Traditionally the Sydney Hobart is preceded by a race only for big yachts on the Sydney harbor, the Solas big boat challenge, that was won without surprise by Wild Oates with Perpetual Loyal in 2nd but that provided some spectacular images and near collisions:



Great images but incredible security conditions on that race!!!!
You can follow the Sydney Hobart race on a tracker, unfortunately one of the worse I have ever saw:
http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/tracker/

Sunday, December 25, 2016

NEW SOLO CIRCUMNAVIGATION SAIL RECORD



Thomas Coville arrived just in time to have a Christmas dinner with the family, passing the finish line today at 17h 57m CET. The new record is 49 days 3 hours 7 minutes and 38 seconds (average speed 24 K), about 8 days and 10 hours faster than Francis Joyon in 2008. This record is slower than the absolute circumnavigation record by only about 3 days and a half. That record belongs to Loick Peyron on the maxi trimaran Banque Populaire, with the help of a 13 men crew. Banque Populaire is a 40m sailboat while Sodebo, Coville's boat is a considerable smaller trimaran with "only" 31m. Amazing feat for Coville!!!....and a great new sail record.

THE BEST CHRISTMAS SONG EVER



Amazing and crazy, at the middle of nowhere, on the big austral desert, these two sailors decided to pass Christmas together  and they offer us a very unusual Christmas song. And both,  showing a big solidarity, decided to wait for the Irish Enda O'Coineen that, with big computer problems, is sailing blind without cartography or wind information. There is a Storm ahead so Bellion and Roura decided that Enda needed a bit of help to sail safely trough it. They sail all together now. Never saw on the Vendee globe 3 boats together on the Austral seas, much less three passing Christmas together.  That's almost a party. Cheers to them ๐Ÿ˜Š !!!



Meanwhile, alone, 5600nm ahead, at the lead of the race, Armel opens a champagne bottle for celebrating the passage of the Cape  Horn but contrary to other sailors, he does not throw away a bit of champagne on the ocean, a bit on the boat, he keeps it all for himself. Well done, what a waste to do otherwise LOL.

Friday, December 23, 2016

SANTA CLAUS YACHTS

Wishing all and especially the followers of this blog, a Merry Christmas, I offer you a personal selection of truly beautiful sailboats, with my thanks to all billionaires that have the good taste of spending their money in beautiful sailing yachts, that we can all appreciate, at least from far away ๐Ÿ˜.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmAkXwWkzAQ

NEW CHANNEL SAIL RECORD: COWES TO DINARD


Winter and strong winds are the time to break sail records and that's on winter muscular conditions that Phil Sharp, one of the best British solo offshore racers, made a new record for monohulls on the classic Chanel cross, from Cowes to Dinard.



Considering that he has made it solo on a small Class 40 racer, that is not even a carbon boat, at an average speed a bit over 15K, Phil Sharp deserve congratulations. Off course, any of the IMOCA with a good sailor would do better, as many other boats, but the fact is that none has tried it and even when they break it, this record would stand as one for 40ft saillboats.

The other two Cowes to Dinar records are harder to beat, the absolute record belongs to the trimaran MOD 70 Phaedo 3 at an average speed of over 28k and the solo record belongs to Francis Joyon, also on a 70ft trimaran (IDEC) with an almost 22k average. Below the Phaedo 3 during its record attempt:
 
MOD 70 Phaedo3 doing 35 knots during a World Record-breaking sail from Cowes to Dinard from Bill Springer on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

WHAT DO YOU CALL A DRAMA WITH A HAPPY END?


I confess that I thought that Thomas Ruyant was making a magnificent gesture trying to safe his boat but that in the end he would not succeed. I saw the condition of the boat, I saw on the weather forecast what he had ahead and I didn't believe it was possible. The weather he got was even worse than what I thought he would get, but strange things can happen when one has the strength to fight to the limit against all the odds, with all his forces.

On the words of Thomas Ruyant:
“  The damage at the front of the boat is spreading. The hull is opening up and the frame coming away more, everywhere. I’m sailing to the south of New Zealand. I’m not sure if it will all stay in one piece until then... 
The inside hasn’t been affected and with my watertight doors, I’m safe. The shock was exceptionally violent. It gives me the shivers just thinking about it. I was at 17-18 knots and came to a sudden standstill hitting what was probably a container seeing the damage it has done to the hull. The whole of the forward section exploded and folded up. Luckily the boat was not dismasted. 

It was really very violent. I was sleeping on my beanbag and fortunately I had my head down in that, as I ended up hitting the mast bulkhead. I found things that were stowed in the stern right up against the forward bulkhead. They got thrown 10m forward.”... 
A few hours ago, I thought that the story of my proud sailboat with the flying hummingbird was over. I could not make way in 45 knots of wind. I was inside with the finger on the button of the beacon for evacuation. I thought I was definitely losing Le Souffle du Nord. 

The boat was broached severely every two minutes. I could not control it with a rudder system destroyed. The rig was completely lose and I had no runners. Everything was held by a thread! ...

After this bad time and after having passed this famous cap (sailing under its protection) I realized that I was going to make it. I had a moment of truly happiness with an incredibly beautiful sunset along the New Zealand's coasts...

Since the passage of the southern tip of New Zealand, everything is secure, I think. We sail in sheltered waters. The boat is currently inclined to the bow but we are taking care of that.

 I have two New Zealanders on board my boat. We are installing a motor pump to try to empty the front compartment. I have 8 knots of wind and a flat sea. I think I can say that I am going to save Le Souffle du Nord and that we will succeed in bringing it home."

Those two that went aboard were New Zealander sailors, one of them was Stuart McLachlan the captain of Camper in the Volvo Ocean Race. They were put aboard by s NZ Guard Coast boat after Ruyant have managed to bring the "Souflle du Nord" under the protection of the South New Zealand coast, just in time to help save the boat.
At that time he was unable to bail out the water that was entering the boat relying on a watertight compartment to maintain it afloat. We was advancing at only 5k with the bow down on the water and the stern way above the sea with waves coming over the deck. Great video on the link below:
http://vid804.photobucket.com/albums/yy322/Paulo_Carvalho/963482464001_5256444951001_5256426487001_zps1nx4cc4b.mp4

A great story that will remain as one of the many great stories of this race, the story of a poor talented young sailor trying to save his boat. If he was already one of the great and famous ones on this race, probably he would have called the helicopter and would have abandoned the boat, but contrary to the others he knew that if he lost the boat we would never get a sponsor big enough to buy him a new boat, or even an used one as good as this one. He was not fighting just for the boat but fighting to save his professional racing career at the highest level.
I believe that his great performance on the race with an older boat and this big exploit had just made that and I am quite sure that the French will not forget Thomas Ruyant, that is one of the youngest sailors on the top solo class, a newcomer, after having won everything that was to be won on the smaller classes, namely the mini transat and the Route du Rhum in class40. Just look at the movie below:



If they offer him the means to have a new and competitive boat for the next Vendee I am quite sure he will be a contender for the victory. He was all it takes to be a vendee Winner.

Monday, December 19, 2016

MORE DRAMA ON THE VENDEE GLOBE



Thomas Ruyant, the one that on the last video, of the previous post about the Vendee globe, looked quite relaxed, at the sound of Regae, after having so much troubles with the boat before, was hit again hard by extreme bad luck: He was escaping a huge storm (60 to 70K winds) sailing North with winds well over 40, sometimes gusting over 50k and when he seemed to have the situation all under control----BAM---- the boat hit something at so much speed and so hard that almost broke the boat in half. On his words:

“It was a bit like a car accident. The boat came to a sudden halt. It was an extremely violent shock. I felt extremely down about it yesterday, but I’m finding the motivation to bring my boat safely to port. That is my priority”

He was still on high winds and heavy seas when he collided violently with something, probably a container. He understood quickly that he had a badly damaged boat, not only structurally but making water and almost without steering (one of the rudders broke and the other was damaged). He passed all night heaving too, with the boat almost stopped, trying to reduce to a minimum the boat stress and keeping it on one piece.



After that we went in emergency repair mode, filling holes with resin and trying to fix the remaining rudder while he tries to go slowly to a port on New Zealand coast, saving his boat. But more bad luck is on his way and at the speed he can make, he is going to be hit again by another storm, already near New Zealand South coast and I doubt the boat can resist to that. https://gis.ee/vg/

I am sure NZ rescue service is at full alert and ready to pick him up if his boat breaks in half, while he is attempting that heroic boat rescue attempt. While this is happening nobody cares about the race and all eyes are focused on this drama with everybody wishing the best of luck to him. He really needs it!!!

I bet that when Le Cam, one of the other racers, said some days ago that Thomas was going to cry, referring a storm on his way, he would never imagine how his words would be prophetic. On the end of the last movie he is almost crying. Very sad, he deserved not to have so much bad luck ๐Ÿ˜ž

Saturday, December 17, 2016

ICE 52


The Ice 52 had bad luck: Last year it was nominated for the European yacht of the year contest and had as direct competition the Solaris 50.  Hard to beat the Solaris 50, that has a great finish, a very good interior design and is a beautiful boat.

Lot's of tests, movies and publicity have been made regarding the Solaris 50 and very little to the Ice 52, only a real test sail by a German sail magazine, even if several yachts have been made and sold. The Ice 52 certainly deserved more. Last year in Dusseldorf I looked with special attention at these two babies, that share some common characteristics regarding design, including a dinghy garage and an interior that is not maximized for taking the maximum number of guests, but for two couples to cruise in comfort. Besides both are truly gorgeous boats.

The interior of the Solaris 50 seemed to me a bit better designed and maybe just a bit better finished while the interior of the Ice 52 was just a tad less glamorous but very comfortable and cozy. The price of the two boats is very similar and it is difficult to say which is the nicest looking boat, both being beautiful.

What makes the difference between the two is the Solaris 50 being a true production boat with a very high built quality and the Ice 52 being a more customized boat regarding its building. It can be built the same way as the Solaris, with infusion techniques, vinylester  resins and sandwich with a foam core, using some carbon as reinforcement but it can also be built using more carbon or can be a full carbon boat.

I had the luck to have the boat shown to me not by a dealer but by someone from the shipyard that knew a lot about boat building and knew exactly how the Ice 52 was built and the differences regarding the use of the different materials. Soon he had taken out all the floors to explain, with evident satisfaction, how the boat was built and how the structure was an integral part of the hull. All versions have a similar structural strength, with better materials allowing for less weight.

I have to say that I was convinced. Sure if I had to chose between the Solaris and the Ice, I would dig much more but I was truly impressed with what I saw and a bit surprised with the know how on a new shipyard. Later I understood from where that expertise came: the only new thing about the shipyard is them building their own boat because before that they had been building high tech big yachts mostly for Vallicelli and Felci. The list is impressive.
  http://www.iceyachts.it/the-shipyard/

The Ice 52 is a Felci design, not very beamy but with all beam pulled back. The hull design and proportions are not very different from the ones of the Solaris 50 (Soto Acebal), both have a big B/D ratio, having in account the deep draft, that is similar in both, (between 2.5 and 2.8m) and the main difference has to do with weight, that due to the high tech built and carbon use is less on the Ice 52.

While the Solaris 50 has a displacement of 14.2T, the Ice 52, depending on the building materials, has a displacement between 12.5T and 10.9T and that, in what regards performance (especially on light winds) can make a big difference. On that German test sail (Segeln), with the heavier boat, with just a F3 they were sailing at over 9K, meaning this is an easy 9k speed boat.

Regarding price, it seems not exaggerated. The Solaris 50 seems to me attractively priced, for the quality and the Ice 52, being bigger, lighter, with a more high tech built, costs about the same and therefore the Ice 52 is even more interestingly priced.

Both boats cost around 600 000 euros, even if the standard price is a bit less. Both can be equipped with a full button sailing system (with a manual backup) and that will make  them even more expensive. The one tested by the German magazine costs 705 000 euros, including VAT. I would say that for a powerful boat like this to be sailed solo or by a couple, the electric and hydraulic help makes sense.

Friday, December 16, 2016

VENDEE, THE STORMS AND THE RACE



These are the conditions that many sailors, in several different groups, have been experiencing. It has been a hard Vendee Globe, as if this race was not already hard enough!!! Maybe the one that expressed it better was Alan Roura, one of the sailors on a group faraway from the leaders:

"We started the survival mode. There is lots of wind, lots of sea and the boat pounds a lot. I have to keep the speed or everything will be blow apart. The Indian Ocean is the devil of the seas. You have to fight every day. It's winter. For three days I have very difficult conditions. It's mentally challenging. we have all disconnected our brains. We are trying to keep everything in one piece and salvage our boats. It is very hard. 

We were prepared for this race but you never know what will happen next. It is impossible to have a minimum of comfort. Eating is impossible, we sleep wet. Even to open the door of the boat it's complicated because we go a lot under water. I hope to be soon out of this. I will drink a drop of rum to celebrate when the weather improves. 

We work a lot between gybes and strategies to avoid losing too much, face to others. Soon we will have 50 knots. I'm pretty happy to be with Enda and Rich. It helps to know that we are not alone. Right now, I have 38 knots of wind. The wind is quite variable, it can go to 43 knots and it is at almost at 90 ° angle. The sea is very nasty and short. I will go North to have the wind downwind. The file shows 40 knots, so we will have close to 50 knots. It will be very difficult.

We must anticipate. I hope to eat something and rest because I didn't sleep on the last ten hours. To make things harder the autopilot malfunctions, from time to time and I have to go outside with a mask and a hood to reset it. It's freezing cold. We are here for the job but if we had not to go outside, it would be a lot better. 

I have three reefs and a J3. If this continues I'll have to put the storm jib. Normally, this is something you do not want to do when you're in survival mode. This is the last resort to keep the boat speed. For the moment the boat manages well the wind, I am quite fast in the fleet. " 



Even very experienced, top solo skippers seem frightened, look at the expression of Jean le Cam, on first movie, when he stand up to show us how it is outside.

Storms apart, back on the race, we can see that Armel, the leader, on non foiling conditions, with variable weather systems and lighter winds (involving a lot of changes in course and routing decisions) wins every day some miles over Alex.

He has now a 385nm advantage. A lot of routing work, for the ones on the lead of the race and routing has a fundamental importance regarding speed on these conditions, that will continue like this till near the horn.

Regarding the 3rd place, finally Beyou overtook Meilhat. Meilhat's boat is the last year winner of the Vendee and the fastest boat of the last generation. Meilhat and his team decided not to modify it with foils, estimating, like Riou, that on a design that was not designed as a foil boat, the adding of the new foils would not bring an overall significant advantage.

Curiously on Beyou's boat his team followed the opposite direction and added new foils to their boat. Beyou's boat was the one that finished second last year (then Armel's boat), just a slightly older design from the same NA. Last year was almost as fast (or as fast) as the one from Meilhat. 

It is very interesting to compare the overall performance of both boats. The strong points and weak points are different and I would not be surprised to see Meilhat going faster than Beyou on the lighter winds they will experience ahead. But then on those conditions routing is fundamental for boat speed and in what regards that, even if Melhiat has an excellent record as an offshore solo racer, that record cannot be compared with the one from Beyou, the 3 times winner of "La Solitaire du Figaro", two times French solo offshore champion, that curiously was also a multihull 60ft champion, back in 2005.

He is very motivated to make a good result on this race because even if he has won the last IMOCA transat, just before this race, he never finished the Vendee and he is already on his third one. He had to abandon on the two previous editions, one with keel problems, other with rig problems. 

A word for Ruyant, that continues to win over everybody, including the first. His confidence has been growing and even if he sails a boat from a previous generation, an older boat if compared with the ones ahead, he manages to sail at the same pace or faster. A pity that confidence not to be there since the beginning of the race. That and the problems he experienced on the boat puts him at a long distance from the first. He seems to be in a great mood however, Reggae and all ๐Ÿ˜‰

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

THE BIG STORM FALLS NOW OVER BEYOU AND MEILHAT


This menacing looking thing is a satellite photo and the red and white boats are Beyou and Meilhat, that have a good reason to sail as fast as they can, trying to go faster that monster of a front that is advancing towards them. But I believe it goes  faster than what they can go.  Beyou has sent a message regarding how things look viewed from his boat:

"Looks like the end of the world before the apocalypse. It's gray, we cannot distinguish the day from the night. Since many hours the crest of the waves smoke, sign that the wind has exceeded 35 knots. Strange feeling:  I am afraid to make an error, to break something or to be eaten alive. And at the same time this adrenaline of being here to challenge the elements. What a crazy race this is. Only on the Vendรฉe Globe you can experience these sensations!"
http://www.vendeeglobe.org/fr/actualites/17151/une-course-de-dingues

That front brings with it winds over 60k and huge seas. Well, they have to look it on the bright side, if all goes well, that big storm will make them win a lot of miles over the two first. Easy to say from my chair LOL.

Regarding the ones that were in trouble yesterday, they all managed to bring their boats intact out of the worst of the storm, being Le Cam the one that played better, losing less time, with his strategy of going slowly keeping the worst of the storm ahead. Jean-Pierre Dick decided to make a tour around Tasmania, losing a lot of miles with that but staying safe. He was filmed passing on the Bass strait. 



Yann Ellies took the harder decision and slowed down the boat almost to a stop, heaving to and waiting the storm to pass. Jean-Pierre commented that psychologically he would not be able to do that and that's why he preferred keeping sailing, even if he lose more time.

 Yann said about him and the storm:
"When I came out of the depression center, 36-48 hours ago, the wind was not too strong, but at some point, there was a large squall with winds over 50 knots. Then I started to became afraid and I chose to heave to. I stayed like that for a while but when I saw that Jean continued to advance, I told myself that I had to go on. Since then I sail with 40 knots average wind and violent squalls, on a big sea.

This morning, I got knocked down by a wave. It stressed me a bit because according to the files, I had not yet gone through the biggest seas and the worst of it. But I had a good surprise and recently the wind began to diminish and the seas stopped growing...
I even got scared, I admit, because when I saw the fury of nature unleashed like this around me and increasing in strength and power, I felt really small. I think the worst is behind now and I feel better, but it is not already over. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

SURVIVAL CONDITIONS FOR 2 SAILORS ON THE VENDEE GLOBE


We talk about survival conditions in sailing when one stops trying to go from point A to point B and is just trying to position his boat the better he can to survive the state of the sea and the intensity of the wind, trying not to break the boat or capsize.

The IMOCA, the type of boats that are racing here, are one of the most seaworthy boats around, 60ft, huge static stability and even better dynamic stability. We had seen Armel and Alex crossing a storm slowing their boats to just around 16k.

But the state of the sea that caught these sailors has no comparison, this is not only a storm, but a huge one with waves over 10m and gust winds over 70K. The storm completely blocked the way to three sailors, extending itself between Tasmania and the ice line on the South.

They are among the best solo sailors in the world and took different strategies to try to pass the big storm: Jean Le Cam decided to go more to the South, were the wind seemed less, going slowly and letting the storm go ahead of him, Jean-Pierre Dick decided to go extremely North, by the Bass strait, turning around Tasmania, running away and Yann Elies decided for the shorter way, facing the storm.

Probably he did not expect the conditions to be so bad because facing it and not run away from  it proved to be a bad call: For more than 24 hours  he is doing almost no way, with an average of 2.1k speed and on the last 4 hours, even worse, doing only 1.7k. He is maintaining the boat stationary to the wind and waves, trying to maintain it on one piece and not capsizing. They only do this in absolute extreme situations because the dynamic stability of these boats is better with the boat moving.

I hope all turns well for him. He his in this situation for more than 24 hours and he is yet on the middle of the storm, with many hours ahead till be able to resume racing.

The other two seem to have taken much better options, maybe the smartest was Le Cam. He is doing about 13k, controlling the advance of the storm and going as slow as needed to maintain the storm ahead.

Jean-Pierre Dick was also caught by the storm, but not on the middle, since he was already running away from it sailing North. He managed to make way very slowly, through the night, to North, averaging less than 5K, but he seems to be out of the worst of it now, going for the Bass strait at over 8k and increasing speed.

If we look at the general picture for the next days we will see that it is not only these three that will get a lot of nasty weather and some major storms. Trying to go as fast as they can, they go sailing at really low latitudes, looking for big winds. These guys are really storm chasers. Look at the map and see all those storms on their course and how the weather is "all green" at higher latitudes.

Interesting weather analysis here:
http://www.vendeeglobe.org/en/news/17091/big-storm-expected-december-13th-and-14th-south-of-tasmania
And the "weather" tracker here:
https://gis.ee/vg/

Monday, December 12, 2016

THE FRENCH GUNBOAT (68)

The ones that say that cats are ugly never saw this one. Surely, if small, the central cabin can be out of proportion, but this one has the right size to make all proportions right: What a magnificent sailboat!!!!

Why French? Because not only Gunboat was bought by the French company "Grand Large" (Allures, Garcia, Outremer, Gunboat) as it is now designed by VPLP, one of the French top NA cabinets.

Very little is known yet about the boat, that will be probably a carbon one, except what the images show, a design that cuts with the "classical" look of older models but also with the "aquarium" look of the newer ones. A true beautiful design, a future classic.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

ARCONA 465 CARBON SAIL TEST


Carbon is a bit misleading since it is not a carbon boat but one where carbon is used or that or I don't understand what is "carbon fiber reinforced Vinylester" . I mean Vinylester is the resin and I don't know what is reinforced, certainly not the carbon, or the vinylester. Maybe glass fibers reinforced with carbon fibers? I have already posted about this Arcona here:  http://interestingsailboats.blogspot.pt/2015/10/arcona-465-carbon-great-performance.html

And that's about what I have to say critically about this boat...off course the style as the interior are conservative but that is a personal taste. There is nothing of conservative regarding the sail performance and in what regards stability besides an obviously good one in what regards stiffness and sail power this boat will have a very good final stability due to a big B/D ratio (40%) on a keel with 2.5m of draft (even if not a better performance torpedo keel).

The price is very interesting, for such a light boat with lots of carbon: 410 000 euro without VAT, about the same price of a Lagoon 42.

The Arcona 465 Carbon was tested recently by Pip Hare for the magazine Yachting world and she, that is a racing sailor, says only good things about the yacht. No doubt that she knows what she talks about in what regards sailing, but the way she says it, well, it could be better LOL.

Friday, December 9, 2016

BIG STORMS ON THE VENDEE GLOBE FOR ALL


This is how it is right now for the two first and also for the ones that are 4000nm behind. Storms everywhere and the two on the front keep on racing, actually with the 2nd, Alex taking the opportunity to win some miles over the first, Armel, going faster.
The toughest race in the world just become tougher and I really cannot understand how those two on the front can have any sleep going at 19/20k average speed on confused seas with waves over 6m, for more than 24 hours. That says a lot about the incredible seaworthiness of those boats but also about the incredible will, stamina and knowledge of those sailors.

The two on the front did not yet passed over the worst of the storm, bigger seas are ahead and they will take at least more 12 hours to come out of that storm, more probably to Alex and what lay ahead seems not much better. Terrible weather on this vendee.

But the worse will hit the others that are behind, that will get in some days not only big winds but big winds with the huge seas formed by previous storms. See the white on those images? Well, it is the end of the scale in what regards size of seas, 9m waves and over and they are not talking about the bigger waves among those, just the average size.

All these guys are amazing sailors, not only the first. If you are not convinced this little story told by the NZ sailor (Conrad Colman), that sails in 12th place, will convince you otherwise:

 "When the wind shifted this afternoon from NW to N, I changed from my bigger reaching sail to my smaller flatter sail, the Solent or J2 which means its the second biggest jib on the boat. When I unrolled it I saw that the pocket that holds the sail onto the cable was damaged and the sail risked to unzip itself completely. 
As the front of the sail is only exposed when the sail is unrolled I would have to fix it when the sail was working and the boat was fully powered up because I couldn't bear away onto a run because the Ice exclusion zone itsn't far to leeward. So, with the wind blowing at 20 knots and boat speed sometimes the same, I climbed almost to the top of the mast and then hand stitched the pocket closed and then covered the repair with self adhesive sail cloth. 

Because I had a lot of stitching to do I did it i several sections, which of course meant I had to cut new lengths of string and re-thread the needle. 22 Metres in the air, one foot hooked around the sail and the other around the mast, bracing to stay stable and then concentrating on the needle I figured the closest possible comparison would be threading a needle on the back of a galloping horse while doing the splits and situps at the same time. I guess you need to have a head for heights!"

 News - http://www.vendeeglobe.org/en/news/16973/conrad-colman-it-s-emotional-and-shocking
https://gis.ee/vg/

Thursday, December 8, 2016

HUGE STORM BLOCKS THE WAY TO ARMEL AND ALEX

The doted lines show where Armel and Alex will be in 10 hours from now. They are now just on the outskirts of a big storm. No way to run from it since it goes from the South of Australia to the exclusion iceberg's line and they are going faster than the Storm. If they continue at that speed, and probably, on the stronger but not too strong winds before the storm, they could even go faster, they will be on the middle of it by that time and for a long time.
They will enter the storm in about 10 yours, maybe less and will be on that storm for more than 24 hours. The above map shows the situation in 31 hours. The seas, that are not be big now will be building with the big winds and in the next 18 and 31 hours will be like the maps below show (legend on the right near the bottom):
Waves with 7 meters and 44k winds but remember this is only the sustained measure, meaning that all waves will have 7m and the wind will be blowing at not less than 44k. Gusts and the bigger waves that appear from time to time will be considerably bigger, I would say gusting 60k and rough waves with 10m.
So what can they do? They can stop racing an let the storm go ahead of them, continue racing and take the risks that will result to keep on racing on the middle of a huge storm. The race direction can also suspend the race maintaining the positions, for a certain period of time, for safety reasons. Off course that will not prevent the other racers, that are way back to come closer. Anyway, very interesting all this, for all, except for Armel and Alex that are on a hard spot.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

VENDEE GLOBE: STORMS AND PROBLEMS FOR MANY


Stormy weather took their tool on the boats, more than on the racers. The 3rd, Sebastien josse, that was risking a lot on the routing, trying to take advantage of the bad weather to go faster and win miles on the leaders, saw is race finished  when surfing a big wave, at 30k, had a rough landing.

The foil itself did not broke, but the linkage of the foil broke.That was far worse than losing a foil since it cannot be repaired in a way that don't compromise the boat solidity while racing. The box can break and I suspect the hull too, given the forces applied there by the damaged foil. He had to retire from the race, but he is sailing his boat to Australia.

It was worst for the 10th, Kito De Pavant, on his 3rd Vendee Globe and trying to finish the first one. Kito, now with 55 years of age, had to abandon not only the race but his boat too and that was a first time for him. His IMOCA had hit hard with a keel something, so hard that the keel went out of the housing and was just there hanging on by a link.

Much worse than losing only the keel. On the last edition two sailors that lost the keel brought the boats to safety, one of them racing till the end and finishing among the first. The problem here is that the keel attachment is ripping the hull apart with the pendular movements, aggravated by being  on a gale with huge waves. Luckily for him a research French boat was at only 110nm and he is already safe aboard. With a bit of luck his boat would not sink (theoretically is unsinkable) and he will be able to recover it later.

Romain Attanasio damaged the two rudders!!!! hitting something. He is going to the South African coats looking for a place to anchor to see if he can solve the problem. He has a spare rudder and maybe he can make one, from the other two broken ones.

Conrad Colman had a fire aboard. He could stop it quickly and it seems he had repaired the damage.

Thomas Ruyant, one of the more talented sailors of the new generation, sailing on the 8th place on an older boat, had already problems, broken most of the mainsail battens. He had to bring the mainsail down to take the battens out and repair them. Now he has a much more serious problem, an unusual one due to some breakage on the system to fill the ballast tanks with sea water.

He had open water and had a lot of water coming inside the boat. He had to tack to the other side, to put the hole out of water. I don't know if he can repair it while sailing or if he has to go to the South African coast, or Australian coast, to repair that. He is on the middle of nowhere, with land at thousands of miles. Maybe he can repair it sailing but he certainly needs to get out of stormy weather.

Eric Bellion was sailing in huge seas when  gust of well over 50k lead to a big knockdown. It was so violent that he damaged a rudder. Another one that is going to the South African coats to find a sheltered bay, where he would try to repair the damage. 



Talking about stormy weather, that's what the two on the front will get in 24 hours. Alex is now  at 1143nm from the leader Armel, that seems to continue to push hard, even if he has not to do so to win the race. Maybe he doesn't want only to win the race but to get an outstanding monohull circumnavigation record, one that will be hard to break...and he has already a big advantage over last year's best time, regarding the place where he is.



And for last but not least, Didac Costa, the Catalan firefighter, that departed 4 days after the others, has finally starting to catch them. One is already overtaken and I really wish he will be able to take the next one, Pieter Heerema. There it is a lot of justice on that. Didac is sailing an old boat while Pieter is sailing a brand new boat with foils, very similar to the ones that are, or have been, on the head of the race. Cheers to Didac, a miniracer sailor that is showing that he can sail a big solo racer fast too!!!! Pieter is 900nm ahead. That is a lot, but Didac is recovering mile after mile.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A 35R


I thought that the A35 was gone forever, when Archambault went bankrupt, some years ago, but it turned out that the boat molds and the company were bought (in 2013) by BG race, a very small company that makes a racing 40class boat, the Tizh 40.
A small shipyard owned by two racing sailors, Louis Burton, that is making the Vendee Globe and Servane Escoffier. They seem a lot better racing than in promoting their boats. The quantity of information and photos regarding their production is very small and apparently very few sailboats were made, but those have been made have been winning a lot of races.

That's really odd. How it is possible that several great boats, among them the A35 and the A13, well built, with the same technology and materials they use to built race boats, winning races and proposed at a very attractive price don't find a place on the market?  It is only me that like that boat? In fact if I sailed alone, without my wife, that would be among the very short list of boats I would consider having for cruising.

Besides the more recent victories on this year's Pornic-Baiona or the victory on the 2014 Spy Ouest this boat has a great record of wins, among them victories and podium places on the Transquadra, the famous solo or duo French transat for small boats and amateurs.

The design has already some years but Joubert-Nivelt has here one of their best designs and one that continues to look and perform in a contemporary way. The A35 is very light, specially if we consider that from the 4360kg, 2100kg are ballast. The keel is a long foil made of lead with a very low drag. The boat has a draft of 2.20m, and a sail area of 67.5m2

This new version has a new designed cabin, a better looking one, a much better interior and a surprisingly good price for a high tech boat, around 130 000 euros (without vat). The A 35 can come with a rudder or two wheels, being slightly more expensive with two wheels.

Curiously one is making the ARC, sailed by a Spanish couple. They chose a South course that proved, for them and many, to be a very bad choice. They got pissed staying without wind, made a 24 hour stop on Cabo Verde for refueling, to see the views and waiting for the wind and are now sailing again, near a Discovery 55, a OVNI 455, a Tayana 55 and a Sweden 50, that did not stop at Cabo Verde. My kind of boat๐Ÿ˜‰

Sunday, December 4, 2016

SEBASTIEN JOSSE VIDEO BY THE FRENCH NAVY

Here it is the third video by that helicopter from the French navy, on the southern Indian Ocean, the opposite of the one I posted on the last post:

He is the one in 3rd place and the one that took the bigger regarding routing and bad weather. It seems that it turned out well, for now, he is just ahead of a big depression with huge winds and "all" he has to do is stay ahead of it, to go like a rocket on the next 24 hours. If he is caught by it he will be subjected to very nasty weather. He needed this boost to win miles over the two that are ahead of him. Look at this "weather" tracker, it is clear what he is trying to do. https://gis.ee/vg/?boat=2 
I wish him good luck, he is going already faster than the two ahead of him. Big balls anyway. Meanwile Colman, the New Zelander had to sort this one out. LOL:



Unfourtunately the Japonise Kojiro broke the mast and retired. He solved the mess alone and is going to Cape Town without needing help. A pity since Kojiro is not only quite a character as he was one of the best among the semi professionals on this race and putting on a big fight on that groupe, always with a smile on his face.


Portrait de Kojiro Shiraishi / Vendรฉe Globe por VendeeGlobeTV

Friday, December 2, 2016

BEST TRACKER TO FOLLOW THE VENDEE GLOBE

Just look at this, or better look here with everything moving: https://gis.ee/vg/ Besides being beautiful it is also frightening for the ones that know how to read it and it is not difficult. On the right side near the bottom you have a column with a a legend for the colors. Dark blue is 52K and this is not what we normally would call 52k, it is wind that blows for 10 minutes with at least 52k force. During that time  one would have experienced gusts of 70k or more.

This tracker. based on Windy, gives another reality to what these guys are passing through and also to the routing they made to get always a lot of wind, but not that kind of wind, neither the blue neither the violet. Yes, if those boats were on that position with that wind and the correspondent sea, they would be in trouble, but it is not the case. That picture gives the prevision in 44 hours and that doted line shows the position were the boats would be in 44 hours, if they continue at the same speed and with the same course. Great feature!!!

We can see that  some will pass the storm by North and that the one that appears to be in the middle of it is playing strong and in a way that implies some risks: He is going to try to win over that storm in speed and we can see that Sebastien Josse, the third on the classification, will be just a  bit out of it in 44 hours...if he can maintain the speed and if the storm does not advance faster then what is previewed. Big balls that will allow him to gain many miles over the two ahead of him....if everything goes according to the plan ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here we have Josse, that was also filmed by that French Navy helicopter, here on an inverse view, the helicopter being filmed by the boat. Soon we will have the opposite movie. and some days ago going at 24k

Thursday, December 1, 2016

VENDEE GLOBE: INCREDIBLE VIDEO - ALEX VERSUS ARMEL


Incredible video taken by an helicopter from a French Destroyer on the Indian Ocean, showing the fight between Alex and Armel. We can see Armel's boat, Banque Populaire, going very well and very fast and Hugo Boss, Alex's boat, going overpowered limping, with too much sail, without the foil that on that tack would make a diference, on a desperate attempt to keep pace....and the most surprisingly is that he is managing that. Chapeau to Alex.