Friday, October 31, 2014


After the use of the System on Wild Oats the max yacht that won the last Sydney Hobart, contrary to what could be expected, there was not a rush to use the system. My impression is that the system will only work well on small boats on flat water and need by yachts to be able to perform adequately on Ocean conditions. Small boats have just to much pitch to make its use profitable.

For the ones that never heard about it is just a wing that goes perpendicularly to the boat hull, near the surface, on the opposite side of the wind and  that like an airplane wing provides lift creating RM and pushing the boat up, preventing it to heel. Its efficiency increases with speed. Look at this movie and you will understand how it works:

Recently there have been a lot of interest about it, since 15 October, when it was decided that contrary to the masts and keels, the appendices would remain free on the IMOCA class (Open 60's), with the already existent limitation of a maximum of 5 movable ones. There are several teams considering using DSS on their boats and even some interesting designs:
Hugh Welbourn, the system inventor and developer is working with several teams and even if for me the limitation of the 5 foils (two rudders, a keel and two daggerboards) make the utilization of the system complicated, he presents several solutions. Eventually there are two more that it seems not to have been considered: With a narrower boat the utilization of a single deep rudder that would allow an independent DSS system or a movable rudder, from one side of the boat to another, that would make possible the actual beamy configuration and again an independent DSS system.

But what have been studied  by now is a configuration that maintaining the two rudders as they are, modifying the movable foils that assume a double role:  Given grip to the boat upwind and creating lift. The drawing makes sense but the foil could not be completely raised out of the water and, as I see it, will create drag on light wind sailing. I am very curious and hoping any of the new boats will go for that, to see the real system potential and if the advantages will be superior to the disadvantages.

Another disadvantage, that has nothing to do with performance, but will be a practical inconvenient, is the impossibility to put the boat along a quay or pontoon. The boat can not go alongside but stay at some distance, with the foil hitting the quay. It will need some BIG fenders LOL.

Very interesting stuff anyway!
Hugh Welbourn and Dynamic Stability Systems Founder Gordon Kay says about all this:

"Dynamic Stability Systems welcomes this week’s decision by IMOCA to place no further restrictions on its class rule. This permits both the six new IMOCA 60s currently under construction, as well as the existing fleet, to be fitted with the lateral lifting foils which DSS has spent the last decade pioneering. ...

“These foils will allow IMOCA 60s to remain cutting edge as well as providing a performance enhancement every bit as significant as canting keels, which IMOCA pioneered during the 1990s,” ...

..Fitting DSS to a typical IMOCA 60 is complicated by the class rules which restrict boats to a maximum of five movable appendages – typically two rudders, a canting keel and two daggerboards.

The daggerboards are necessary to prevent leeway when the keel is canted, but on recent IMOCA 60s they have had a dual function as by being inclined in the hull is such a way that they are angled (ie off vertical) as they pass through the water, they also produce upwards lift. This lift helps reduce hull drag, but – most significantly – as it does not operate to leeward of the hull, it lacks the same lever arm and, in turn, the massive contribution to righting moment of the DSS foil. So while present generation IMOCA 60 boards make little contribution to righting moment, for their new boats teams have been investigating the use of more efficient L-shaped foils. With these one side of the foil prevents leeway while the other creates vertical lift down to leeward, in turn providing a massive boost to righting moment.

Teams have been looking at principally two configurations for these ‘DSS L-foils’:

a) Tip up: This is similar to a conventional daggerboard only its main shaft is vertical in the water when the boat is heeled, while its tip is effectively a DSS foil, close to horizontal in the water when the boat is heeled, to provide vertical lift.

b) Tip down: This is closer to the standard DSS arrangement where the main shaft of the foil protrudes horizontally through the bottom of the topsides providing vertical lift to leeward, while the downward-pointing tip of the board prevents leeway.

Welbourn, who is currently working with IMOCA teams on evolving this technology, says that while DSS is in the process of being accepted by the Class (just as canting keels were in the 1990s), the first designs to incorporate the DSS L-foils will be ‘middle of the road’ options, still retaining most of the familiar IMOCA 60 features. Thus rather than having the maximum permitted beam of 5.85m, he believes that new DSS L-foil equipped IMOCA 60s will end up closer to 4.8-5.2m....

According to Hugh Welbourn, an IMOCA 60 that relied even more on its DSS foil for righting moment would be an entirely different animal but unlike most innovations could represent further cost savings for the Class. The canting keel – along with all its added weight and complexity – could be dispensed with in favour of a simpler fixed keel and as a result there would be no need for additional daggerboards to prevent leeway as the keel foil could provide this (as it does on most yachts). Windward performance could be enhanced by fitting a trim tab to the keel, which is permitted for fixed keels under the present IMOCA rule. This would also allow conventional, straight lateral DSS foils to be fitted, which would be more efficient as their sole functions would be to provide vertical lift and increase righting moment.

Added reliance on the DSS foil would also result in less need for form stability derived from a beamy hull shape and Welbourn envisages the maximum beam of the ‘Ultimate’ DSS IMOCA 60 could be as small as 4.2m – at present the beam constraint is the shroud base required for the newly introduced one design mast, which has a specified size and weight.

A pure-DSS hull shape would also not require the fat bow that features in many modern offshore race boat designs to prevent nose diving when sailing downwind. “When you start supporting a lot of the boat’s displacement on the foil rather than the hull, what you need is something that penetrates waves very nicely at high speed, not a big fat bow. A slimmer type of boat does that,” states Welbourn.

The end result would weigh approximately 6 tonnes, almost two tonnes less than the present lightest IMOCA 60s. And once again, a substantially narrower and lighter boat, with a fixed, rather than a canting, keel and with straight foils, as opposed to L-shaped ones, can all result in a less expensive boat...

DSS foils or L-foils can also ‘turbo’ the performance of older generation IMOCA 60s. Retrofitting this to an existing boat would cost in the order of £50,000 maintains Welbourn. However this represents good value given that his simulations demonstrate they could take as much as five days off a round the world course compared to the same boat without the new foils.

Welbourn concludes: “Ultimately DSS is a way of producing more sea-kindly and safer boats, which are substantially faster for a negligible increase in cost and potentially with a reduction in cost. Almost all the daggerboards ever fitted to IMOCA 60s provide some degree of vertical lift depending upon their inclination in the boat. DSS foils are simply inclined much more and you get a lot more out of them.”

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Pogo 3 teaser - from Pogostructures on Vimeo.

The words are not mine but from Matthew Sheahan the responsible of Racing coverage and technical editor of Yachting world magazine. Matthew is not a kid or a young guy, like the ones that use to race these boats, but an old racer and he knows one or two things about racing boats: It's experience is huge and he tested and sailed many. Giving this background his enthusiasm by the new Pogo 3 is meaningful. He had never tried a mini racer and the least we can say is that he seems positivelly astonished. I have been pointing out the growing interest of the British regarding solo racers and fast cruisers derived from the solo racing boat concept, well, Matthew is certainly one of those that is discovering and appreciating the concept and making it popular also among British cruisers and racers.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Certainly not by the number of boats, "only" 91 on this edition but probably the biggest in public interest, even more than the Vendee Globe and there is a reason for that: This was the first Transat that said no to the ratting rules. Here you arrive first and you win. Simple as that. Yes I know they have introduced classes but that is not the same thing as ratting. Anyway that's one of the few races where they depart all at the same time and off course, independently of the classes the overall winner is the one that arrives first, even if the classification comes in classes.

Le Rhum, cap sur 2014 ! by routedurhum
On the first one, in 1978 there were no classes and it was the first Transat where you could race in a mono-hull or a multihull of any size for the win.  And the win went for a Multihull...but only by 98s after 23 days racing. That was really incredible!!! of course the Monohull was a lot bigger than the trimaran that won, but sizes are free on this race. 
You can pick the fastest mono-hull in a transat, that is certainly the new Comanche, and race it on this race on the class of monohulls bigger than 39ft (minimum size is the only limitation). There is a snag...someone would have to sail the huge Comanche solo :-)...because this is a solo race. Crazy? not more crazy then sailing on of the maxi trimarans solo (and they do it)...if someone has the balls and knowledge to do it and the rigging is adapted. Off course, probably you can count by the fingers of your hands the sailors that have the ability and the potential to do it and that is one of the things that make this race great: The boat counts but only the best have the ability to sail one of these monsters solo. Here the skipper counts more than in any other race. Just look at the size and speed of these boats.They have to be sailed by a solo master and they are all in this race, on different classes.

Yann Eliès sur Paprec Recyclage by routedurhum
Lionel Lemonchois sur Prince de Bretagne by routedurhum
Sodebo Ultim' - Thomas Coville : Objectif Route... by sodebo-voile
For me one of the most interesting boats racing are the Multi 50. They are very tricky boats to race, fast bur nervous and fragile. It's double interesting because in the end, specially if the weather is rough, their performance is very similar to the one of an Open 60. What normally happens is that just one or two manage to go faster on those conditions and it can happen that an Open 60 beats them all. As I say, they are fast but the risk of capsize is big, they are not that good upwind and have to have much more care not to break the boat than the guys on Open60's. Here you have them, being raced with a crew: look even with a crew how nervous these boats are. Really tricky for a solo sailor. To go really fast it has to be a very good one.

Multi50-2014 from Multi50 on Vimeo.
Sailing one of those solo is only for the best:
Actual - Yves Le Blevec by routedurhum
and then we have the well known IMOCA open 60's with all the stars from the Vendee Globe.
and the 40class, that here really looks like a promotional class. No, I know they are incredibly good sailors on those boats...except that they all want to go to one of the big ones and there are a reason why they have not arrive there yet...but the rising stars are all there, some coming from the mini racing. This racing is so interesting that an old legend could not resist to have a go at it.
Route du Rhum : Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, doyen... by OuestFranceFR
He is going to race an old Open6o. Because it is an old one does not race on the IMOCA category but on the category of monohulls bigger than 39ft. Off course the boat is old, but brand new when compared with him: 75 years and still racing with the best!!! Damn, how can he do that? Thumbs up for him ;-)

The race starts November 2 at 14.00 (French Time GT+1)


I had posted recently about the Mojito 888:

After having won the Voile magazine boat of the year contest the interest in the Mojito went up sharply and the boat has been tested by the other main French sailing magazines (Voile and Voiliers and Bateaux) and looking how the boat sailed on both occasions I bet we will continue to hear nice things about the boat. First a video with the boat being tested by Bateaux (very light wind) and then 3 others from the Voile and Voiliers test showing the boat sailing in medium wind in several points of sail:

The interest on the Mojito seems to make revive the interest on the Malango 888, basically the same boat with a different cabin and we have a new test, surprisingly by a British Magazine. It seems that on the last years finally the British, that have a more conservative approach regarding cruising boats, seem to be interested on the light fast and seaworthy cruising boats derived from the Ocean solo racer's hull concept.

The test is from Sailing Today. I did not like other test made by the magazine but this one is made by a new tester and what they say about the boat corresponds to the information I got about it, reading other test sails. It seems a good test to me. They say about the boat:

"The boats are drawn by Breton naval architect Pierre Rolland, who favours a purposeful plumb bow, hard chines and a wide stern. The racing pedigree is immediately obvious, and in fact, the design is derived from a singlehanded mini Transat racer. And yet, the boat’s raison d’etre is to provide a sporty sail for cruising sailors...It’s all about the pleasure of sailing,..

The techniques used to build the Malango are decidedly modern. Vacuum infusion spreads the resin evenly through the layers of fibreglass and honecomb-cell felt for the minimum weight.’s worth noting a key feature of the boat, and one of its chief concessions to cruising: the transom includes a deep 2.1m recess which perfectly accommodates a 2.4m dinghy. Being low to the water, the cut out for this dinghy garage doesn’t intrude on the stern cabin, but forms part of the structure of the stern berth.

.. we scoot upwind at an easy 7 knots, heading some 40° off a true wind of 13 knots. Reaching up and down off the beach at nearby Port-la-Forêt, dodging waterskiers, we settle into a 7.8 knot lope and we hit 9 knots surfing back downwind flying the 75m2 symmetrical spinnaker. Although this is a sporty boat, she’s very well behaved, reluctant to broach (you can really feel the chine digging in aft) and therefore easily handled by one."

The genoa is on a furler and the sheeting point is controlled not by a traveller (keeping the side decks clear), but by the increasingly fashionable light eye on a Dyneema strop – a barber-hauler which can be pulled closer to the centreline or slacked off.

Verdict: At a touch under 30ft, the Malango 8.88 ..she has the heart, soul and the capabilities of a larger cruiser.... Her lithe, sporty lines and muscular performance mark her out from the many gaffer-likes produced in Britain – we simply don’t have an equivalent to the Malango that I’m aware of. She’s fast, but stable and easy to handle, making her good for family cruising or outings with friends. She’s been designed to a firm cruising brief, with the ability to dry out easily on sand – perfect for her native Brittany and with a few modifications – renewables, watermaker, extra electronics – she’d make a capable, but cosy, bluewater cruiser. That’s why she’s able to make a European Category A rating and indeed one of the 11 boats built so far has crossed the Atlantic to the Caribbean".

They also have made a video of the test:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I confess that I have mixed feelings about Comanche, the new Maxi designed by Van Peteghem Lauriot Prévost (VPLP) and Guillaume Verdier: It looks enormous, not only a big sailboat but a huge sailboat, incredibly beamy and needing a very numerous crew. Anything but elegant to my eyes. I like monohulls but I have to admit that if Comanche is the way to go in what regards race monohulls, I find much more elegant the maxi trimarans, that are even faster.

On the video we can see how fast the boat goes downwind but also how surprisingly wet is and not even on big seas. I would have expected a 100ft racer to be less wet.

I can't wait for the next Sydney Hobart where Comanche will measure forces, in a race that is not predominantly a downwind race, with some of the fastest Maxis. I have no doubt that the Comanche is the fastest monohull downwind, but in what regards racing upwind in nasty seas, I have some doubts. That's why I think the next Sydney Hobart will be so interesting


Some years ago when I saw the first designs of the 7.5 (Dieter Blank) I was not very impressed mainly with the transom design that seemed to me too sharp on the transition allowing not enough heel upwind. Well maybe I was right if we consider absolute performance but it will make the boat easier to sail solo or with a short crew and easier to explore by a non expert crew.

Anyway the photos and movies showing the boat sailing through the water gave no doubt: this is a very fast boat and one that will not be only at ease in lakes but also in semi protected waters and that transom works very well limiting heel and don't seem to limit much performance.

The hull is moderate in what regards beam (2.5m) that is like on the Seascape 27.The Saphire 27 with more 0.5m in lenght has the same beam and the Seascape 27 has more 0.4cm. The Life 7.5 has a deep swing keel (0.75/2.00) with a very high B/D ratio (47%). The Seascape 27 with a similar keel has only 42% and it is a very stiff boat.The Life 7.5 should be even stiffer and the sail power: HUGE.

The hull design is closer with the one from  Seascape than with the one from Saphire. Like the Seacape it has all beam pulled back, a swing keel and two rudders. Even considering that the boat is 0.5m shorter the weight is impressive, specially if we consider the superior B/D ratio : only 1000kg while the Saphire has 1300kg and the Seascape 1370kg. 

Regarding sail the Life 7.5 carries upwind 43m2 (Saphier 44m2, Seascape 48m2). A huge sail area on a lighter boat as a result of that impressive stiffness given not only by the hull form stability (that is maximized on this type of hull) and by that impressive B/D ratio, specially in a 25ft boat with 2.00m draft. Even if stiff such a big sail are should imply a great performance in light winds but the need to reef in medium winds.

Slightly smaller the boat shares the Saphire 27 and Seascape 27 program: Daysailing, weekend cruising and regatta program with some offshore capability. Between the three (money considerations apart) I would chose without hesitation the Life 7.5 by a simple reason: Gorgeous boat, beautifully made and with cracking details.

 But that's me, to whom beauty is important, and no doubt the Life 7.5 is a beautiful thing...with a snag. For keeping it beautiful you have to sail it without an engine, even an outboard because contrary to the other two this one has not a dedicated space to put an outboard inside the boat (on a well) and with an outboard stinking outside the Life 7.5 the beauty is gone.

In what regards that aspect the Seascape 27 wins easily since it is the one that can carry the bigger engine and have that way much more flexibility while cruising. That makes it the one that will be able to be at ease in more situations, the one with the wider program. But who says that beautiful things has to be practical? .... love is blind and I just love the Life 7.5 :-)

LIFE 7.5, it's in the details from Peter on Vimeo.

LIFE 75 2012 from Life Yachts Group AB on Vimeo.

Monday, October 27, 2014


The first one and my favorite is taken on the Neo 400 the hottest 40ft performance cruiser in Italy and probably in the world. This one:
 They gave more than 4 hours to the 40ft boat that won the race in compensated, a J122.  On the beginning of the video we can see them, in light wind, going away from a race boat, a 40class one. What a boat!!!

An then we have a great video from Tulip, and aluminium classic 88fter, a German Frers design, a gorgeous boat that is only classic from the water line up. The hull is very modern with a big draft (lifting keel) and a torpedo keel.

 They are showing on that video that the boat can sail fast and comfortably even in a storm. They took more 5 hours than the rocket Neo 400 but even so they managed to sail faster than one of the racing VOR 60 and did not lose much for the others!!! Racing with class :-)

And finally a video taken on a Swan 45 (sistership photo):
They finished the race in 17th place (IRC) but took almost 7 hours more than the Neo 400 and two hours more than the Tulip.


Corsair is the more affordable brand of small cruising foldable trimarans and I love the concept, that is shared by Dragonfly: Fast solid boats that can fold their amas and enter a normal place in a marina. On most places multitudes pay 50% more than a monohull with the same size and given the prices of marinas that is very important. Also the folding amas and the light weight of the boats make them easy to be towed by a car and easier to transport.

 I like more Dragonly, by their better interior but the difference in price is very considerable and make the Corsair a very interesting small fast cruiser also with regatta potential. Unfortunately, even more than Dragonfly, the Corsair basic design has not been actualized in way to reflect the improvements in design that come fro the top racing scene, and they have been many. The boat just looks outdated, specially in the shape of its main hull.

And then Corsair comes out with Pulse 600 WOW!!! that one looks modern and I am sure it will be very effective. In terms of design it reflects all those developments. Just compare the two superior views and look how different are the hulls and just contemporary, sharp and modern the Pulse looks, specially when compared with the Cruze 970, that is a "new" boat.

Well, now it seems simple: Corsair has only to remake their cruising line following Pulse 600 basic design lines and I am quite sure that will give not only better and more beautiful boats as it will increase their sales. What are they waiting for ;-)?

Sunday, October 26, 2014


The Rapier 550 is a big cat, the last from Broadblue shipyard and was nominated for the European boat of the year contest. I don't see nothing strange in that, it is a push pull button boat, a light and fast sailboat that the shipyard describes as a performance model (they have a performance line and a cruising line). What strikes me as odd is the category she is competing: Bluewater boats.

Rapier 550
Off course it is a bluewater boat in a sense that it will have no problem in sailing offshore, but is a boat expressly designed for it, like the Garcia Exploration 45 or the Boreal 52? It is a more bluewater boat than the Euphoria 54, Italia 15.98, Moody 54DS, Centurion 57 or XP55 that run on the Luxury boat category and performance boat category? 

We can say that the Garcia exploration 45 and the Boreal 52 are imminently practical boats, the hulls are not even painted and therefore can be considered not luxury boats but the same cannot be said from the Rappier 550 or the Southerly 535 that have luxury as one of the main ingredients. Their brands confirm that: Broadblue talks about "Luxury interiors" on the Rapier 550 and Nordshore talks about "luxurious accommodations" regarding the Southerly 533.

Southerly 535
So I am a bit confused here: if they are as luxurious as the boats that run on the Luxury sailboat category and they are not more seaworthy or more designed for bluewater work than some of the boats on the luxury category why they put the Southerly 535 and the Rapier 550 on a different category, competing as Bluewater boats? Certainly those two have nothing to do with the Boreal or the Garcia in what regards their design purpose. Or they consider that a bluewater boat has to have a closed place from where the boat can be steered? That's odd to me, that is not what make a bluewater boat on my book, just a preference and besides the Moody 54DS can be steered from the interior. It is not a bluewater boat? 

Southerly 535
They should review their qualifications and categories: a luxury boat cannot be a family boat? Off course it can, but it seems that they are afraid to call family boats for what they are: Budget cruisers, boats made to a price that allows many to buy them and cruise. Luxury sailboats is a stupid qualification since they are not used for luxury purposes but for cruising, exactly for the same purpose than family boats, the only difference is that they are more expensive, have better quality interiors and hopefully a better built. They should be called as what they are: medium to high price cruisers.

So, after this rant, let's have a look at the Rapier 550 through a Yachting world test:


A pity they show so little footage from the bad weather part: they wanted to make a balanced movie with all parts of the race but it is a pity the movie to be so small. Certainly they have much more footage from the stormy part. What they show is just great ;-)

And another one taken by one of the fastest boats on the race (it appears also on the official video) the cookson 50 Cantankerous they were only 22th on IRC but this year big boats had no luck because they get much more light wind and less strong wind than the smaller boats. Anyway to give it a measure of their speed, that can be seen on the movie, they were among the first boats to arrive only beaten by the Maxi Esimit, the Mini maxi Shockwave and Ran and narrowly by the 60ft Wild Joe but they beat the B2  (a very fast TP 52), the VOR 70, three VOR 60, an Open 60, a Swan 82 and a 60.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


First let me tell you that Saphire Yachst (a Switzerland builder) has nothing to do with Saffire yachts (a Dutch builder). Both words means the same but their boats are quite different even if both fast.Saffire builds daysailers and till now beautiful classical daysailers, at least classical above the waterline because the hulls are moderns and the keels are just performance torpedo keels. The building is high quality and with top modern materials and Technics so, the boats are light...and fast. 

This one is just a bit different since without losing the classical looks, all in what regards hull design and rig was performance orientated, including a long LWL.

The boat was selected for the European boat of the year contest and tested by several boat magazines and the results have been surprisingly good: On one of the tests they reached 17.8k!!!! You have only to look at the way the boat sails on the videos and to the big grin on the ones that are testing it to understand that is a great boat, very fast and very fun to sail.

The Saffier 33 is very light (2800kg), narrow (2.72m), with a big B/D ratio ( 39%) and a moderated draft ( 1.40m) and a big SA for the weight, specially downwind (SA upwind 45m2, SA downwind 97m2). The result is a beautiful boat, very well built with great interiors for a daysailer or weekend cruising and a blast to sail even solo since this boat has the running rigging adapted to it.

This boat runs for the European boat of the year on the same category as the AD44 and is its most serious rival. The AD 44 will have to prove that it sails as well as this beauty to have a winning chance.

This type of boats, beautiful and that give a huge sailing pleasure, designed for short period cruising or daysailing are in the rise in Europe, I mean on the market. It seems that there are many people that finding out that during their active life have not much time for cruising (just weekends and some weeks on the holidays) have understood that this type of boats, lighter, faster and more rewarding to sail are more adapted to their needs than a cruiser that they will not use as such for lack of time. It is a good thing because their boats will not only be more fun to sail as they are normally more beautiful since they allow to the designers more freedom to express their ideas.

The movie from Yacht de test (you have to click on the link):

The movie from Zeilen test:

and just look how well it surfs waves :-)

Friday, October 24, 2014


The Scarlet Oyster is a well know sailboat, a 26 year old Oyster 48 Lightwave with a great crew that manage to achieve surprisingly good results on Oceanic Races. The Oyster 48 is a living memory from the times Oyster made some very fast and light boats.
This edition of the Middle Sea race looked like the kind of race where they excel and they were making a great race when they broke the rudder. The story:

“We have two reefs in the main and the storm jib up, we saw 48 knots of wind and we have seen waves of over 20 feet. It is pretty tasty out here and we are most definitely concentrating on keeping everyone safe on board rather than boat speed. However, we surfed down a wave and it was too much for the rudder. It was a sickening sight as half of it appeared out of the back of the boat and for us the race is now over. Although Pantelleria is only a short distance away, we cannot steer towards the harbour there, so we are making are way towards Mazara del Vallo on the Sicilian coast and should be their tonight – absolutely gutted would be an understatement.”

When I read that I thought: WOW!!! these guys lost the rudder on the middle of a storm with 50K winds and didn't call for help: no Mayday, not even a Pan Pan but will they be able to make it to port on their own on these conditions?

This is the answer:
"The initial plan was to sail back to Sicily under this configuration but as the sea state worsened they decided to stream the drogue and turn the yacht downwind, using the sails and the drogue for some steerage as they pointed towards Malta. 
She is a twenty seven year old yacht weighing in at thirteen and half tons and her high profile long keel meant that she was very well behaved throughout initially sailing in a steady straight line under hove to sail configuration with ease. 
After one of the drogue lines snapped the decision was made to try sailing towards the shelter of the tiny Mediterranean Island of Pantelleria and this involved some strategic thinking to work out how many gybes and manoeuvres it would need to get there with such limited steering capability.

Late last night Scarlet arrived at the east side of Pantelleria and tied up behind an anchored fishing boat where a fellow Italian Rolex Middle Sea Race competitor was also hiding from the storm. Bliss! 
The crew prepared to get some rest, but just as they were about to drop off, the fishing boat they were secured to decided to put to sea! This meant that the already exhausted and seasick crew were tasked with hoisting the sails again and attempting the difficult manoeuvre of anchoring Scarlet under sail with no manouverabilty. Eventually in the pitch darkness they managed it and could finally get some rest. 

The Italians generously leant Ross their custom made emergency rudder which was strapped to a pole and used to wield out the back of the yacht to provide steerage. This enabled the yacht to get to the harbour of Scaira this morning where Ross is now desperately trying to make repairs and sort out a solution to get the yacht back to Malta. If anyone can do it, this man can - Ross Appleby is one of the most determined and resourceful skippers we know!
"I doubt that we could have done what we did on a modern build lighter race boat" says Andy Middleton "The weather conditions out there were pretty horrendous and the waves towered above us up to about eight to twelve metres with breaking seas and 48 knots of wind across the deck so we had a bit on but the yacht was built to last and we managed to get her to safety"

Truly amazing these guys and what a lesson of seamanship to all those that call a Mayday and abandon their sailingboats in much lighter circumstances. I hope on day to be that good :-)
And also some short but great movies made on the boat not only won the two handed class but also made 4th overall on IRC!!! They have made a fantastic race making it in d5 h4 m38 s44. They were among the last to finish it but they were faster than for instance an Akilaria class 40 , a Dufour GL 500 or a Fast 42...and they finished while many bigger boats give up.  A very well sailed Azuree 33 going with 40k winds:

The crew of thhis Azuree 33 is a very curious one:  

Stig Westergaard two times winner of the Finn gold cup a Soling champion medallist and two round the world races racing with a NA designer Pierpaolo Ballerini. Well, Ballerini know the boat very well, it is a Ceccarelli design but Pierpaolo was part of the design team, not less than the project manager ;-)
And it was not and easy race, I mean not only the storm, they had to dive in the middle of the night to free the boat from a huge net!!!! The story:

“On the first night we were caught in a fishing net, I don't like swimming in the dark but was round the keel the propeller everywhere, it cost us nearly two hours. When the storm arrived, we didn't know that it would be so strong, we thought it would be sailable and we were doing well in the race but as the smallest boat in the race, we got washed away big time. For us it was a case of stay in one piece during the night and make sure we make breakfast. Paolo and I are a match made in heaven for Double Handed, we were able to win our class and fourth overall because we are a combination of a sailor and a seaman. Any practical issue on board, Paolo took care of including all of the sail changes and I focused on driving the boat. Even in the heavy weather, the relationship didn't change. Paolo was struggling with sea sickness but Paolo showed exceptional stamina. He was still up on the foredeck, sea sick and changing sails in 40 knots, that takes tremendous courage.”

And the best collection of photos posted by Yacht de on their site:
and here too,on the Rolex site:
It seems that we are looking at the photos of one of the bad/good editions of the Sydney-Hobart ;-)

Thursday, October 23, 2014


There are still many boats making it for Malta, some in the race, some that had abandoned and taken a short from Sicily not turning around Pantelleria. After a very rough night the winds are still over 30k, some boats registering well over 40K. The ones that know what kind of sea this winds can rise on the Med know what they are passing through.

Here wild Joe, a Reichel Pugh 60 finishing the race.

Many boats retired due to the weather but also many due to breakage and the situation is not clear because that "invitation" from the Coat Guard to suspend the race (that I talked about on the last post) in what regards the boats that were near Pantelleria it was not an invitation but an order from the Port Captain to suspend racing and enter the port (the race rounded Pantelleria Island). There are boats that could have just stop racing not because they have abandoned but because they thought the race was suspended. Not a word about this on the official site but some here as well as photos:

That A13 that was making a fantastic race had really bad luck: they lost the mast at 20nm from the finish line.

Regarding the sea conditions these words by a very experienced racer (crew on the winning J122) are meaningful: “The sea was big, it was very windy, we don't know exactly how windy because the windex at the top of the rig blew off! – yes this race is up there with the toughest Hobarts I have done. In fact we were saying on board 'when was the last time we saw a sea like this?' and I had to say it was during a windy Sydney Hobart but to have those conditions for over 24 hours is very rare, almost exceptional. You are always learning in this game and the experience showed me that it is good to go with a bloody good crew! Truly, it is the only way you can sail the boat like we did. If you don't have a good crew, you just won't get through it or you will break things and when it comes down to it – a good crew is what you need and we have done a lot of miles together on Artie, they are my nephews, my friends and we have been together for thousands of miles at sea.

And this leads us to the winner on compensated (IRC ans ORC), a J122, a local boat (Malta) that had made just an incredible race. They did not manage to beat the first racing Class40 (a Pogo S2) that was about 2h 45m faster but they managed to be faster than a very fast XP44  (second on compensated). Regarding boats of the same size and type (performance cruisers) they were only beaten by this beauty:
That proved the Neo 400 is not only a beauty but a hell of a sailboat even on nasty seas. I had posted about it on the old thread but it will deserve a new post here...soon. The Neo 400 did not only beat that J122 (Artie) by 4 hours as it was faster than any 40class boat, beating that racing Pogo by more than an hour and the second (that was also beaten by the first J122) by more than 6 hous!!!!

What a boat, Ceccareli got this one right: it is not only able to win on compensated ( 3rd in ORC ) as it is incredibly fast in real time, that in the end is what it matters, at least for me.

A M34, the small racing boat that was used for the "Tour the France", showed once more that it is a very seaworthy boat, not only finishing, but making a great time. Also great races from a brand new Azuree 46 and a Grand Soleil 46, two comfortable cruisers that show that you can have comfort speed and seaworthiness at a reasonable price.

Kuka-light is a very fast 42ft but it seems that this year they did not manage to finish. Here they are on the water, on the stormy seas:

and Jolokia is an old Vor 60. They finished this race but the result was not good, They were beaten in real time by the small Neo 400.

Some selected results by real time order.

Coockson 50 d4 h2 m14 s;20 Carkeek 47 d4 h4 m12 s25 ; Swan 60 d4 h6 m7 s39; Swan 82 d4 h6 m11 s3; Farr 52 OD d4 h6 m26 s40; Cookson 50 d4 h6 m31 s55;  Neo 400 d4 h9 m30 s0; Pogo S2Class40 d4 h10 m49 s0;  DK46 d4 h13 m7 s0; Sydney GTS 43 d4 h13 m57 s51; J 122 d4 h13 m35 s5; XP44 d4 h14 m1 s11; BM Class40 d4 h15 m59 s55 Swan 45 d4 h16 m3 s54; Azuree 46 d4  h17 m9  s5; Grand Soleil 46 d4 h19 m55 s52 ; M34 d4 h20 m45 s19 20; j122 d4 h21 m40 s35 ; Swan 48 d5 h0 m9 s18; 

A word for the winner in compensated in ORC and IRC, Artie, a J122 (their words):
“It was a very very tough race. The crew have worked around the clock from day one and the race didn't start well for us but during day two we started to get our the shifts right and co-skippers Sebastian and Christian Ripard did a great job on the tactics and the end result was a series of correct decision that put us in a good position before the storm arrived. As always, having a good crew on board allows you to give the effort an extra push, with a good boat and an excellent crew are intention at the start was to win ...But now having had the opportunity to reflect on the race, even more important than winning was the achievement of actually finishing the race in the conditions that we had out there. Even near the end my worry was not finishing, right up until the end, we knew boats were in difficulties, which was very unfortunate and that was playing on my mind until we crossed the finish line. I would like to emphasize that one thing we really promote on Artie, throughout the year, is that we have young dinghy sailors on board and a main objective is to get these youngsters out sailing, combining them with our regular crew to create the future sailors that will be representing Malta.”

And from the Neo 400 (translated from Italian with some liberty):
"With us was a veteran of the Volvo Ocean Race and he said he never would thought that in the Mediterranean the sea could be like that with eight meters with a breaking and a a that has increased quickly from 20K to 25K and then up to 35K and 40 knots, so constant, relentless. At the end we saw 48 knots, without a break for 200 miles. We sailed between Lampedusa and Malta, for us the worst part, with storm jib and the mainsail with two reefs. We were consistently between 16 and 18 knots, with peaks around 22 and beyond. At 22 knots the log was out of water and did not work anymore, so we do not know how much speed we made, but it was really tough. The unusual thing was that the wind never fell, normally happen to take a blow at the Middle Sea, has happened to me often in the past, but this time the wind was violent, has been increasing steadily and there were never moments to rest as usually occurs. 40-45 knots for at least 12 consecutive hours, it was really hard.

Between Pantelleria and Lampedusa the sea was already very difficult and for us the wind was still about 25 knots. On the leeward of Lampedusa we sailed at 18 knots with flat water A3, two reefs on the main and J3, beautiful, then once out of the shelter of Lampedusa, well, the sea clearly advised us imediate prudence. An extreme situation. Waves as ever I've ever seen in Mediterranean and we manage of the boat in safety without giving up performance. Going to the bow was not easy, so we did it all without risking; the boat has behaved very well and we have not broken anything, I noticed a excellent behavior under storm jib. The arrival in the channel between Malta and Comino was surreal, at night, in continuous glide at 16 knots, with rocks on the right and left....

Then along the coast of Malta till the finish a continuous glide at 16 knots,...the race committee could not believe that we had taken so little time doing that Utrecht. Very tiring the last 200 miles, following the first three days of light winds,....It was a race where you, besides the result (that leaved us very satisfied) you realize how important was to bring the boat home with all the crew safely. We have outsailed 50 fters and beaten boats like the B2 and a Cookson 50..."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Yes the Med in the end of October can be quite nasty and about half of the editions of this race are prove of that. This year was a rough one even if the beautiful movies of the departure did not indicate that, but the Med can change on a  blink of an eye and that happened this year.

Waiting from the on boat movies, that this year will be certainly great, we have already some interesting news: There is a brand new A13 racing and is making a hell of a race covering 160Nm at the average speed of 18K!!!. There is also a Xp44 and two J122 making a great race. As usual on this race I bet that the class40 racers will be beaten by fast narrower performance cruisers: Definitively not at ease on the Med, the class40.

 The big fast racers had already arrived and as usual the fastest was the already old (and narrow) Maxi Esimit Europe that had finished in  d3 h10 m42 s5  followed two hours later by Ran and then Schockwave, the two mini maxi. They were the only ones that made it in less than 4 days.

Regarding the conditions this description by the skipper of a famous boat, the Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster is enlightening:   “We have two reefs in the main and the storm jib up, we saw 48 knots of wind and we have seen waves of over 20 feet. It is pretty tasty out here and we are most definitely concentrating on keeping everyone safe on board rather than boat speed. However, we surfed down a wave and it was too much for the rudder. It was a sickening sight as half of it appeared out of the back of the boat and for us the race is now over. Although Pantelleria is only a short distance away, we cannot steer towards the harbour there, so we are making are way towards Mazara del Vallo on the Sicilian coast and should be their tonight – absolutely gutted would be an understatement.”

Or this description by the skipper of the leading J122 (IRC 4): “The waves have been as high as 30 feet and the wind speed often gusting above 40 knots, it has been a really wild ride.” Commented Sebastian. “With the full main and jib top sail, we have been flying along. The game plan has been a mixture of pushing as hard as we can but also protecting the boat, so we have been taking it a bit easier in the big gusts of over 40 knots and then going for it when the wind speed drops a little.

All the way to Lampedusa we have been VMG running but when we turn the corner, Artie will be on a beam reach and we expect the waves to be crashing into the cockpit. Everybody will be on the rail, head down, hiking out for the final 100 miles. We expect to finish the race late this evening at around midnight.”

Some very nice pictures here that show the conditions out there:

and some movies of past editions that show how tough it can be:
After having made this post I have took knowledge that things were (are) a lot worse: Three sailboats had to be helped and one has abandoned with a broken mast. It is not clear if they were all racing. The Coastal Guard had issued a warning today at 13.00, talking about a  prohibitive conditions and a F8 that was going to increase inviting all participants to suspend the regatta and to enter on the nearest port. After that "invitation" several boats retired and some had to be helped to make it to port.

The situation is confuse but at least half of the 122 boats seem to have made it to port but probably many have retired and made it to port but probably there are still boats in trouble.

As I have been said, the Weather on the some Med areas is very difficult to predict and a F6/7 can become something frightening. I hope they all make it to safety.


I have posted here about most of the boats that are nominated for the the European boat of the year contest with some exceptions, boats that for a reason or other I don't like or that piss me because they could be great and become short for some reason.

That is the case of the OVNI 52 Evolution that has a great fast hull and screams for a deep swing keel with all the ballast on it, as a way of making it lighter, with more RM allowing the full exploration of that hull's speed potential. Instead it has an under-exploited hull and is a center-border as all the others on the market, with the ballast inside the boat.

The Southerly 535, abandoning the nice profile of their anterior boats assume the shape of a Oyster.
Even the denomination (535) is similar to the ones used on Oyster. The Southerly brand and style deserved better.

The Pointer 25 besides being inexpensive and relatively well designed has nothing special or innovative.

The same about the Wauquiez Centurion 57, except being cheap. Nothing new neither particularly attractive. The style is dated without being classic and only the running rigging is interesting.
The Moody 54DS I admit it is a personal thing: I was never able to like that mixture between a cat a motor sailer and a sailing boat. I know that it sails relatively well but I hate the looks, the big cabin and all the windage it will be responsible for and besides with all those vertical "windows" the boat should be incredibly hot on the Med and Caribbean where it is going to be used most of the time. I know that it has a powerful AC system (and a big generator) to solve that problem, but to me it seems  just wrong to do things that way.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Contrary to the magazines boat's of the year this contest is more relevant: It is not only the testers of a magazine that chose the boat but testers from 10 European leading sailing magazines (one for each country). All boats are tested on the water in two rounds, the last one after being selected the finalists on each category.

This year there will be two alterations: Multihulls will not be in a special class but competing with monohulls in the different classes and a  new class is introduced : Bluewater Boats. Regarding this last one, and taking into consideration the boats selected, it would seem to me more appropriated to call them Voyage Boats (that's the way the selected boats are called in Europe) but as the term is not used in the US, probably they went for a more dubious qualification. It would create some confusion since on the class of Luxury yachts there is also boats adapted to blue water sailing.

The Nominated boats:
Family cruiser: 
Dufour 310
Dufour 310

Bavaria Cruiser 46 
Dufour 310 GL
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349
Nautitech 40
 RM 890

Performance Cruiser:

Corsair Cruze 970
Dehler 46
Jeanneau SF 3600
JPK 1080

Luxury Cruiser:
Euphoria 54
Euphoria 54

Euphoria 54
 Italia 15.98
Moody 54DS
 Wauquiez Centurion 57

Special Yacht:

Advanced 44
 Astus 24
 Pogo 3
 Pointer 25
 Saffier SC 33

Blue Water Cruiser:
Boreal 52
Boreal 52

Boreal 52 
Rapier 550
Garcia Exploration 45
 Ovni 52 Evolution
 Southerly 535

The winners will be announced at the Dusseldorf boat show.