Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Out of water is even more beautiful. A true piece of art not only in what regards building (cold molded mahogany) but also in what regards design (Martim Menzer/Berckemeyer yacht design).

These beautiful weekenders/daysailers are built by a small German boatyard (La Yachts) specialized in high tech wood boat building and I remember to see their boats on past boatshows,  beautiful built but averaged designed. Well, not anymore, and when you join top design with top building the results are truly amazing.

They had the two newly designed yachts at Dusseldodf, a 28 (the one on the pictures) and a brand new 35, that was not even properly finished on the inside. The inside is like the outside, plain varnished hull, a bit on the dark side, with the sort of equipment you expect to find on a weekender but nobody is going to buy this boat on account of the interior. This boat is about sailing and about sailing beauty and in what regards that the hull is so beautiful that you have a urge to pass your hand over it, to caress it.

A yacht for protected waters that will be able to sail at the  slightest puff of wind and that with weak winds will be able to go easily over wind speed, sailing already fast. These boats are very, very light and what is not cold molded wood  is mostly carbon, including the foil that holds the torpedo, with the lead ballast, the rig, the tiller, the geenaker pole and so on.

Starting with the smaller one, the L28, a 8.5m boat with a beam of 2.5m, a draft of 1.75m, it displaces only 1.5T from which 40% is ballast and includes a 2.5kw interior electric engine. The bigger one, the L35, has a length of 10.5m, a beam of 2.95m, displaces 2.8T, 43% of it ballast on a torpedo, at the end of a carbon foil. It has a lifting keel (2.10m - 0.9m) and the SA/D upwind is a staggering 31.7.

Two boats that will make any owner proud and that will deliver a sparkling performance, for a price that obviously cannot be a low one: 120 000 euros for the little one and 220 000 euros for the big sister. Price includes VAT but not sails. Expensive? off course, but excellency and perfection is always expensive and this one is not only a sailing boat but a work of art that can decorate your backyard during the winter 💓 

Monday, January 30, 2017


The sexiest boats are rarely very practical cruising boats, even if they do better than none what they are designed for: sailing. This year on Dusseldorf there were lots of beautiful boats, but two stand out clearly in what regards beauty and one of them was a Swan Club 50:

Swan come to the boat show with two boats, a 54ft and a 50ft, a Duck and a Swan. I will not say more about the 54 than that it has a very nice interior on an outdated hull, built with outdated techniques (single skin), clearly a comercial attempt to capitalize on all those that like old Swans, building a less expensive boat with the looks of something coming out of the early 90's.

Shame on Swan to have made a Duck 😈. But the new cruiser racer, the Club Swan 50, is really something out of the ordinary, a very advanced design, really state of the art.

Looking at that hull from below is looking at an art work: very fluid shapes on a hull that looks narrower than what it is, all soft curves with very fine entries and a transom that is narrow at the water level but beamy at the deck level, a boat that upwind will sail very asymmetrically taking advantage of the increased hull form stability that beamy transom will provide and that's the reason for the two rudders on a relatively narrow hull.

The rudders are like whale fins and not perfectly rounded, to diminish drag. The hull has a very soft chine, from the bow to the transom. On the bow it will increase lift and will contribute to a dryer boat, opening the spay, on the transom will make it slightly easier to control downwind, increasing a bit the stiffness without adding any significant drag while deeply heeled close upwind.

A master piece of Design by a master NA, JK, with an interior to match the exterior, absolutely zen, all carbon, like the hull, with lots of leader on a mixture that is very light but also cozy and agreeable, much more agreeable than what looks like on the photos.

This boat will be used mostly for racing but I do not see any reason not to be used  exclusively as a performance cruiser, for a couple or even two. A nice galley, completely enclosed, that will be great for cooking without spreading the smell for all the boat, a good head with separated shower, two cabins, a big storage locker and a big saloon will provide more than enough amenities to cruise comfortably.

The draft is clearly excessive for cruising ( 3.50m) but the it would not be difficult to diminish that draft for 2.6m, increasing substantially the ballast and maintaining a similar stability curve and since this beauty weights only 8500kg, more 800kg will not make a big diference, in what regards cruising. With 9300 kg  it would still be 2300kg lighter than a XP 50!!! and only 400kg heavier than a Pogo 50.
Off course, it would not make much sense since the boat could only be sailed, solo or with a short crew, very far away from his true sailing potential, while a boat like the Pogo 50 could be exploited much more easily, but upwind or on light winds, what a blast and what a lot of fun...and that huge deck space aft the steering wheels would be more than enough for several reclining deck chairs...well, we can always dream LOL.

A very curious hull comparison between an old Swan (ahead on the photo) and the new Swan 50:

More about the Swan 50 here:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Quite incredibly, after the RM 970 having won the family cruiser title, it was another small shipyard, that won the prize for 2017 best performance cruiser, with the Pogo 36. Pogo, like RM, makes cruisers that a few years ago were niche boats, very marginal boats that were preferred by few sailors. But now the Structures Shipyard, that won this year the prize with the Pogo 36 and Fora Marine, with the RM 970 are doubling victories in recent years, with the RM 1260 in 2013, and with the Pogo 12.50, in 2012. This double victory in recent years is as significant as they having won again this year.

Cruising boats that  some years ago were very marginal, are being considered, in the last 5 years, repetitively, by a jury of 11 test sailors representing the best European sailing magazines, the best new boats on their class, 4 times in 5 years. This means these boats are not marginal anymore, not only because the ones that know more about the boats on the market, having test sailed most of them, are preferring them, as the best choice for a given market sector, but because they are among the boats with a bigger waiting list. About the Pogo I don't know the waiting time but with several dozens of Pogo 36 already on command I bet it will not be a short one and the RM has a waiting list of about 18 months, while most boats I visited have a waiting list of 3 to 6 months for delivery.

Let's give the word to the ones that tested the Pogo 36 - The jury:
"This is what the community of offshore fans have been waiting for: Pogo Structures brings a new mid-size yacht. The boat is suitable not only for having fun going fast, but also for voyaging."

Bert Bosman. Waterkampioen, Netherlands:
"This French sailing machine provides tons of sailing potential in a civilized manner. It offers the possibility to enjoy many miles with the family and a well thought out and practical interior."

Joakim Hermansson. Båtnytt, Sweden:
"It is impossible to sail a Pogo without a big grin and the new 36 has inherited the same sailing joy of their race brothers, built by the French shipyard. One feels safe and protected in the cockpit, with many intelligent solutions to make the maneuver easier. The interior defines a new standard in Pogo, in design as well as in finish and functionality, although they are still a bit minimalist."

Roland Duller. YachtRevue, Austria:
"A boat with a strong looking design and exciting performance both in light or stronger winds, upwind and downwind. We liked how it moves on the waves, the rigging and the ergonomics of the cockpit. In the interior there is more comfort than expected and it has some really nice details."

Pancho Pi-Suñer Oses. Nautica & Yachts Magazine, Spain:
"Impressive is the word that defines this high performance cruiser. The new Pogo36 has everything to excel in its category. With a spacious and comfortable cockpit, it allows calm and relaxed sailing in all conditions.  The interior is spacious and well thought out in every detail. It also stands out by the swing keel that provides a wide range of possibilities of use, especially when trying to reach the most remote Mediterranean coves."

Loïc Madeline. Voiles et Voiliers, France:
"The long  awaited Pogo 36 has not failed its objective. With more than 35 boats sold before being shown to the public, the shipyard can expect a bright future. The 36 is a real Pogo: really fast and different from all other production sailboats. The look is very particular, with a curious cabin and a larger stern than what you can imagine. Also the layout is unique, intelligent and very functional. And once more, some will love it, while others will not even think about sailing it."

Axel Nissen-Lie. Seilas, Norway:
"It is always a nice experience to sail a Pogo. The 36 has created many expectations. I was not disappointed. I was surprised by the size of the boat, possibly the biggest 36 feet on the market. Spacious under deck, plenty of cockpit space and plenty of power to sail."

Jochen Rieker. Yacht, Germany:
"The Pogo 36 behaved exceptionally well in water. Both downwind  and close upwind all the sail pressure is efficiently transformed into speed. Above 15 knots of true wind, downwind, the Pogo sails always over 10 knots of speed, easily reaching 12-14 in the gusts. But I also managed to get a high VMG going against the wind. To navigate alone you need an autopilot because all the winches are mounted around the cabin, from where you can work very safely. Where I was most surprised was inside and not only because of the amount of space it offers but on account of the details. Finally a Pogo with a suitable head and many more features to enjoy sailing and cruising with the family."

Alberto Mariotti. Vela e Motore, Italy:
"The Pogo 36, that replaced the 10,50, is an agile, fun, safe and easy to maneuver boat. The interior is simple and without decorative elements. It is however complete and spacious with everything you need to do long range cruising. The quality of construction is another of its strengths. In 12 to 18 knots of true wind sailed downwind at about 13 knots and close upwind to bout to 7,8K. Thanks to the two rudders the Pogo 36 transmits very precise sensations allowing the helmsman to always have a good control, even in high angles of heel. The space and comfort on the cockpit are also very good."

Troels Lykke, BadNyt, Denmark:
"The Pogo 36 is a breath of fresh air: very simple, light and fast, set to surf the Atlantic or to cruise anywhere in the world. If you like traditional boats with lots of wood, do not buy a Pogo."

 Lori Schüpbach, Marina.ch, Switzerland:
"With the new Pogo 36, Structures, the French shipyard, has taken a decisive leap forward in what regards interior functionality and comfort without sacrificing their identity. The impressive sailing performance  has always been the main characteristic of the shipyard that also builds racing yachts. The Little 36 combines speed potential with an adequate cruising interior with three cabins and a separated head. This makes the boat more "European" and will cause more than one to remain open-mouthed, not only in France."

Toby Hodges. Yachting World, Britain:
"Pogo Pogo Pogo. The one we always get excited about. The contemporary new shape of the 36 helped cause more of a stir than any of its predecessors. And boy does it not disappoint. Gone are any past notions of these beamy designs being sticky in the light breeze. The Pogo will match any ‘traditional’ narrow hull shape upwind – then smoke it offwind. A Pogo guarantees fast cruising fun – but the performance in light airs of the 36 was a pleasant surprise. The build quality throughout is also first class. Pogo have made a concerted effort to make their interiors more comfortable for cruising and it shows. For me it’s the most exciting monohull of 2016."

And that is why I have made so many posts about it LOL.
More posts about the Pogo 36:

Sunday, January 22, 2017


After the success of the RM 890 it seems that RM managed to do even better with their new baby and that was not easy. The RM 970 won not only the competition on the contest, as it was praised by all testers with great compliments regarding its sailing potential, its comfort and the excellency of its cruising interior, in what regards functionality and enjoyment. Think I am exaggerating? listen to what the test sailors of the main European sail magazine said about it:

The Jury:
"RM970, more beauty, more speed, more comfort: this is a highly customizable sailboat that offers many options to the customer . In addition to the ten standard hull colors available, the future owner can choose between tiller or double-steering wheels. Also two keel variants can be chosen, a monokeel or a twin keel that allows the boat to dry out. An aluminium mast comes as standard with a carbon mast as an option.

Perfect comfort below deck: with a length of 10.57 and plywood epoxy construction the French from RM yachts delivered to the market a cruising yacht for the entire family. The articulated program results in a modern elegant design that is optimized by the shipyard for performance and speed. In doing so, the French managed to create a spacious, light-flooded atmosphere under the deck, which invites you to feel good."

Bert Bosman. Waterkampioen, Netherlands:
"The most beautiful and best sailer from the RM so far. The contemporary and striking interior is fresh and as bright and transparent as a greenhouse."

Joakim Hermansson. Båtnytt, Sweden:
"The plywood and epoxy construction sound a little weird in what regards building method in the era of GRP, but they, in the RM shipyard at La Rochelle know very well what they are doing. Their new 970 is relatively expensive but with a very good sailing performance, a great feeling at the helm and definitely safe, with enough capacity to navigate with a large family. It is understood why sailors faithful to RM buy their boats over and over again."

Roland Duller. YachtRevue, Austria
"A boat with a modern look, very habitable, both on the cockpit and inside. Impressive sailing performance in 20 knots of wind: very stable in close upwind and very fast in planing mode downwind." 

Pancho Pi-Suñer Oses. Boats & Yachts Magazine, Spain:
"May seem a small boat from the outside but inside it achieves an incredible feeling of space, thanks to the design of the bow window, with its large size, providing plenty of light and feeling of spaciousness. Fast and comfortable sailing on the cruise mode, completes the range of RM between 890 and 1070."

Loïc Madeline. Voiles et Voiliers, France :
"The RM 970 is very attractive and a bit pricey as a family cruise. But it is a pleasure to sail it, really quite fast and it offers a very nice and aggressive look. We also enjoyed the interior layout, with lots of light and a great outward view. The table card and the technical room are great features and the pieces of varnished wood are beautiful: the RP 970 punctuates in all the boxes."

Axel Nissen-Lie. Seilas, Norway:
"The French Atlantic coast is very demanding. Here sailors require high standards of building quality and functionality. The RM meets these requirements. It's a boat you can push on while sailing fast. At RM they are also masters of design. Both the interior and the exterior stand out and mark a trend."

Jochen Rieker. Yacht, Germany:
"In a varied mix of nominees, the RM wins thanks to its innovative design and practicality. It has one of the best cockpit distributions, a cool interior and sails convincingly. All that put together makes it a very versatile boat. You may not like the cabin open to the bow and the somewhat limited space in it, but it gives you a great feeling of volume."

Alberto Mariotti. Vela e Motore, Italy:
"A family cruiser that is comfortable even if offering  a lot of fun and emotion at the wheel, especially downwind. In a breeze of 18 to 25 knots it sailed close upwind at seven knots and went over 11 downwind with the gennaker. Some doubts about the large window that is slippery in wet conditions and not very effective against cold and high temperatures. The position at the rudder, seated, is a bit tight. The interiors are bright. There are two double cabins and a nice fixed chart table table that is there to properly navigate, a rarity in this type and size of boat nowadays."

Troels Lykke. BadNyt, Denmark:
"I really like the RM 970 concept of construction using plywood. The RM 970 has a good sailing performance, offering at the same time lot of space on cockpit and inside. The salon is resolved in a minimalist way with lots of light coming from the large frontal panoramic window."

Lori Schüpbach. Marina.ch, Switzerland:
"With the RM 970 the naval architect Marc Lombard has landed again a new bombshell. A spacious and comfortably equipped family cruiser that is impressive while sailing, with a surprising potential for speed and a great level of stability. Another plus: customers have the option of ordering their RM 970 with tiller or double wheel, as well as with a monokeel or a twin keel."

Toby Hodges. Yachting World, Britain:
 "Again the plywood specialists have produced a worthy winner, a model that demonstrates perfectly why the designer Marc Lombard is so astute in the middle segment, with boat lengths around 30 feet. The 970 packs an all-in-one thrilling performance on a fun, voluminous, versatile, refreshing, simple family cruiser. The design of the deck, including the rig solutions and the distribution of the winches only deserve praise, as does the feeling at the helm. It provides a really sporty feel but also offers the ideal balance for a quick family cruiser."

Friday, January 20, 2017


After having arrived in 2nd place on the two previous editions this time Armel LeCleah had done it, he has finally won the Vendee!!!!!, that had a great finale, with a relentless pursuit by Alex Thomson, that was much luckier wind the winds, but at had bad luck with the boat, having broken a foil, way back, near South Africa.

Armel, that arrived incredibly fresh at the finish, had also some breakage that resulted in not being able to hoist the more favorable sail to go upwind in light winds, one that he missed a lot while going up on that slow Atlantic passage, that had many times very weak winds. Typically of Armel he did only said that he had problems when he arrived. 😊

Armel never break and even with Alex beating the 24 hour record (on distance) on his tails, on the final fase of the pursuit, Armel was always able to control Alex's gains, maintained a narrow lead till the final, never giving a real chance to his chaser. Alex, visibly more tired, arrived on the next day, at down and, as Armel, it was escorted by many boats and cheered by a crowd.

Alex is a great guy, besides being a great sailor, that talked about Armel saying that he was a "machine", an incredibly good sailor, a very modest and underrated one that had deserved to win the race after two successive 2th places. At the quay among the many that were waiting for Alex, to cheer him, was Armel clapping his hands and congratulating Alex for a great performance.

Would it be different if Alex had his foil intact? It is something that we will never know. Alex talked about it and he said how he was pissed when he had to sail on the side of the broken foil, not so much  by a question of speed but due to the way the boat sailed. The truth is that all the final part of the race, for many days, just before the last small tack, Alex was sailing on the "good" side of his boat and he was not able to catch Armel or gain significantly over him and it is also true that if Alex had bad luck in what regards losing the foil, the luck come to him after that, in what regarding having several times, since the horn, more favorable wind conditions than Armel. A pointless exercise to talk about what could have happened on a race if something was been different.

Alex come out of this race a better sailor and I have no doubt that his reputation has grown hugely and deservedly.

No more Alex, the fast but mad boat breaker, but Alex, one of the greatest solo sailors of his generation. Contrary to several on this race he has not on his curriculum a single victory on the many races and transats with IMOCA boats. I bet that is going to change on the next years.😉

I believe Armel is going to leave IMOCA racing for now and probably will focus on the biggest accomplishment a sailor can have: To be the first man to have simultaneously the two solo circumnavigation records, the one with monohulls and the one with multihulls. What a dream!!!! If he manages that he certainly will enter sail race history with something that none had managed before and that will be very difficult to be equaled.

RM 1370

One of the good things regarding plywood/epoxy building is that it does not require a mold and that means that the boat can be changed slightly, without great costs, even in what regards the hull. That is what happened with the bigger of the RM regarding the anterior model, the 1360.

The new 1370 offers as new the option of a swing keel, maintaining the two previous offers (twin keel and deep draft torpedo keel) a new designed bow that increases LWL a bit as well as the bow buoyancy and a stronger and bigger bowsprit.

The 1360, was already strongly based on the RM 1350 as the 1370 on the 1360 . The 1350 was already a great boat and each evolution make the new model just a bit little better. The 1370 is the bigger sailboat produced by the shipyard and pointed clearly to long range voyaging. RM sells a lot more the smaller models  but even so from the previous version were made 6 boats and probably as many from the first version. Pretty difficult to find them on the used market and when they appear they sell rapidly. That says something about this boat.

The RM 1370 is light (9 400 kg) and powerful, has a huge stability due to a big form stability (beam 4.50) and to a big B/D (31%) if we consider that the ballast is on a torpedo at the boat has a 2.45m draft. The low CG will provide also a good AVS and a good reserve stability. 

That big draft can prove to be unsuitable to cruise in many places so there is an option with a slightly heavier twin keel (draft 1.95) and the new option, the swing keel, that will allow the same performance of the deep torpedo keel with a variable draft (1.30m -3.20m).

The swing keel is by far the more interesting solution, giving the boat program, but will cost more 30 000 euros that will be much better spent than on the optional carbon rig option that costs about the same. As usual on the RM,  this one will feature a  cutter rig and will provide a more solid and large bowsprit that eventually will allow to go out of the boat by the bow.

This is a fast voyage boat, with a large storage, a large tankage (600L of water and 300L of diesel). The diesel may not appear much but this is a very good sailing boat, able to sail well and fast, even with light winds. The upwind SA/D is 25.5, the downwind is 41.7, the D/L is 108.6. 

This boat even if with a good performance upwind will really shine on the trade winds with medium to strong winds where two digit speeds will not be hard to get. 

It is not a cheap boat but it offers a lot for the price, 295 000 euros without tax, standard with the fixed keel. With the swing keel. A well equipped boat should cost around 390 000 euros plus VAT for the Europeans.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Finally, just some days before the winners are announced at Dusseldorf boat show, Yacht.de posted on their site the last of the movies, the one with the performance cruisers and multihulls tests. The variety and quality of each year crop always surprise me, from very nice and good traditional performance cruisers like the Dehler 34 to highly innovative boats like the Ofcet 32 or to a Tricat 30, that for the first time offers a good coastal cruising interior maintaining an interesting price: What a lot of beautiful and desirable boats!!!

More movies and information about the European 2017 yacht of the year contest:

Monday, January 16, 2017


After the Alex's incredible recovery of 800nm on 6 days, due to very favorable wind conditions, surprising many, Alex have managed to stay in contact with Armel, both sailors going up the Atlantic in very odd an unstable conditions, with lots of light wind patches and very unreliable forecasts. On that wind minefield they started a very exhausting battle, always with Alex pursuing relentlessly Armel and with Armel resisting to the pressure.
Those light wind conditions are, by far, the worse, in what regards strain and  exhaustion for the racers: On stronger constant winds they can regulate the boat, put it on autopilot and have some sleep without losing much time. These boats are designed to be sailed on autopilot and they go on that mode 95% of the time. 

But on very light and changing winds they have to tune the sails almost constantly, for not losing time and on those conditions it can makes a considerable difference going on autopilot or doing manual steering. When they sleep the losses can be way bigger than on more sustained wind conditions. So you can imagine the fight between the need of sleep and the will to sail the boat as fast as possible. The result can be exhaustion and if they manage to control that, at least they become very, very tired on those conditions.

15 days ago Alex had managed to be at only 34.5nm from his rival but after that Armel, on the light winds, managed to win steadily for several days and 3 days later had already an advantage of 182.4nm. Then it was the turn of Alex to catch better winds and in one day  he reduced that distance in 50nm. Next the wind was favorable for Armel that, in two days of extraordinary sailing, increased the distance for more than the double, putting between them 342nm.

I confess that I thought that with that Armel had then the race controlled....but no. In 4 days Alex managed to diminish that distance by about 263nm and was then at only 78.8nm. Then it was Armel turn and he managed to increase in two days that distance for 253nm, only to see Alex reducing again the distance, in 3 days, for 88.5nm.

After that they entered on strong winds and both put the foot down. Alex's boat is probably the fastest on those conditions and Alex loves those high speeds and hard sailing. The prove is that he beat the 24 world solo sailing record for monohulls on that chase, doing 536.81nm on 24 hours. On 31 hours Alex had managed to recover 1nm per hour over Alex, that is controlling his gains, trying to reduce the risks of breaking the boat to a minimum. Alex , off course, is in full attack mode, sailing very well and both are doing average speeds well over 20, going sometimes near 30K.

Tell me if this is not the craziest vendee globe ever!!! Never saw anything like that😉

Alex is now at 78.4nm from Armel and they still have more 31 hours at full blast. If both manage not to break the boats, they will be facing the last challenge of the race, a ridge of high pressure already near the North coast of France. If Armel manages to continue to control Alex this way, limiting the losses to 1nm per hour, Armel will reach that point with about 58nm over Alex, meaning about a 4 hour advantage.

After that they will have only a bit more than two days sailing to the finish, but that involves a lot of  upwind sailing on light winds, tricky sailing, on conditions where the forecasts are not always very precise. We will have a great race to the final with these two fighting to the bitter end a huge war, like champions they are.

Friday, January 13, 2017

IKONE 7.50

Certainly this one deserve a post, a boat that puts a smile on the face of all that look at it. 😃 A funny boat that not only sails really well, except in what regards close upwind were the performance is a bit less than average, at a very inviting price, offering a big interior space and a very good stability and seaworthiness for the size.

The Ikone 7.50, that was elected last year boat of the year by the French magazine voile, was designed by Julien Marin one of the most talented and innovative young French NA and this boat shows just that innovation and talent. Nothing truly new but a successful cocktail of several well known elements on a Design that results new.

It has a  Cat boat sail configuration, a carbon almost non stayed mast (just some movable stays), a hull inspired on the minis,  a big pole also mini inspired and a twin keel to be able to stand on its "feet" on the dry. All this put together translated on a non expensive sailboat with a big full cruising interior, easy and fun to sail, able of great sailing performances in all points of sail except close upwind.

True that the quality of the finish is not great but the functionality is, as well as some delightful details like that support on the stern for having the boat stable if moored over the keels, that serves also of stair to go out or in the boat. The boat has everything, including a good galley with an oven and a closed  small head.

At  62 500 euros, including VAT it is hard to do better, even if that price does not include an interior engine that can comes as an option neither the spi (2 700 euros) neither the bath platform. I find the fixed engine ( 12 780 euros) and the bath platform unnecessary for this type of boat. with all those options the boat will cost 85 000 euros not adding much to the pleasure of cruising or sailing. 

Another great small coastal cruiser that will certainly is worth its cost in fun and cruising pleasure.

Dimensions: Length: 7.50m, Beam: 3.00m, Draft: 1.20m, Ballast: 2x420kg, Displacement: 2200kg, Mainsail: 35m2, Spi: 47m2.

Monday, January 9, 2017


Lots of interesting boats this year, as usual and among them the cute Ikone 7.5 (above). I cannot look at that one without smiling and it is certainly very interesting sailboat 😊. Yacht magazine, the biggest European sail magazine has made a very nice movie about the 2nd round of tests, in La Rochelle, were they got more wind than on the first round in Cannes. Beautiful boats, beautiful sailing.

I had already posted some movies of the first testing round:

Thursday, January 5, 2017


Well heroes, is a form of speaking, let's say those that accomplished incredible feats of human determination, courage, showing great sailing skills and all other that make them not only great sailors but almost super men. Let's start with the Yves Parlier story on the 2000 Vendee Globe. The French at the time were was so impressed that nick named him the extra-terrestrial LOL.

Yves was at the time a top solo sailor as well as a composite engineer . He won his first mini Transat at the age of 24, with a boat built by himself, having as the most odd characteristic a carbon mast, one of the first if not the first to be used successfully in sail racing (1987).

Since then he won lots of races, was the French solo Offshore champion in 1991 and had been 4th on the 1996 Vendee Globe edition. On the 1996 edition, he had to make a pit stop to repair a rudder (and was disqualified) but even so he finished the circumnavigation anyway, out of the race, just for the sake of it. Quite different from most of today's top sailors that when they have a big problem send the boat home on a cargo.

On the 2000 edition he was decided to do a great vendee and to finish it, no matter what. He started like a bullet and was the first to reach the Austral seas beating the 24 hour solo sail record on the process.

At the middle of the big austral Ocean Desjoyeaux (the only one that managed to win two times the vendee) overtook him. Yves was on a string of bad luck having been almost stopped for two days, without wind. A big fight for the lead started then. Yves was pushing hard for several days on big winds, sailing at almost 50º latitude, when, at the middle of nowhere, he lost his mast.  He sent this enigmatic message by telex: "I have dismasted. I am going on. I do not need assistance."

He knew that he was not going to win the race but he was decided to finish it without assistance at all costs. He jury rigged and started a slow journey to the almost deserted Stewart Island, on the South of NZ.

Refusing any assistance, not to be disqualified, he decided to make a rig good enough for allowing him to finish the race, meaning half way around the world. He started working but, on a moonless night, a storm with 60k winds hit him and he finished on a beach with the boat lying on the side.

 At the time we all thought that it had been a great effort, but that it had sadly ended....... Not Yves!!!!

With the aid of a raft he made with jerrycans, he manages to refloat the boat. The mast was broken in 3 pieces and he successfully joins together two of the parts making a polymerization, using an "oven" made with 25-watt bulbs, a survival blanket and polar clothing.

Alone, he manages to put the mast up, recuts the sails to the new mast size and after having made a huge harvest of seaweed, 12 days later, he sets sail for half a circumnavigation. He was already eating everything he could find ashore because he knew that the food was not going to last.

I cannot post the pictures because they are copy righted but don't miss them here. They are quite incredible. I love the raft LOL.

He got a big storm on the horn, lost all communication with land (no weather information) and was seriously weakened by the lack of food ( at this time he had only bad smelling seaweed to eat):  

"I'd collected about 400 kilos of seaweed, so it was just everywhere and there was also that smell and taste. One evening I had to force myself to eat. I really didn't want to eat any more; It made me sick. At the same time I was losing my strength. Then the wind started to pick up and my satellite phone broke down, so I no longer had any direct contact with land. I started to lose morale and threw myself at the food stores. I ate everything, all the chocolate and cheese. That was the hardest moment of the race psychologically,"

It was only by shear determination that he brought back his boat home, where he arrived about a month after Desjoyeaux , that won his first Vendee beating in extremis Ellen Mac Arthur. Even so he was not the last and left two other competitors behind. One of the best Vendees ever.

When he arrived at Sables d'Olonne he was received like an hero and had the biggest reception of the race, bigger than the winner or the one given to Ellen.

 Those are the men (and women) that made sail popular in France and it it is due to them that sail solo offshore racing has no difficulty in finding sponsoring to maintain a considerable number of professional solo sail racers. The French like them!!!

Monday, January 2, 2017


Let's start first with the ones that are used on the IMOCA that use foils, the last ones designed by Verdier and used on the Vendee Globe. These movies explain it better than any words:

But this design obviously has a problem: it substituted daggerboards that offered a very good grip upwind for foils that add practically nothing to the performance upwind and the little they offer is probably more than annulled by the extra drag.
We can see on this image (left) that when an Imoca goes upwind with the keel canted, the only thing that is on the right place as an upwind foil is that big rudder. That's why the new boats have a lousy performance upwind and the reason why on the last Fastnet, a race with upwind and downwind sailing, all the new boats were clearly beaten by older boats, even if the crews on the newer boats were probably better.

Hugh Welbourn, the father of the DSS system was the first one to show some designs regarding what could be the new foils on IMOCA boats. I made a post about that two years ago but what he proposed, even if with some similitude with the system they use had a basic difference: It would also contribute to upwind sailing.

Looking at the drawing we can see that in what regards lift it would work basically the same way but that the angle of the foil, in his more vertical part is completely different. This one is practically parallel to the rudders, meaning that it would contribute effectively for the upwind sailing performance.

Why nobody went for it? I don't know. But there is probably a good reason, or maybe not, maybe they just trusted more the one that has been designing the more successful IMOCA racers (Verdier), that has the support of VPLP in what regards very expensive programs for hydrodynamic studies and even tank testing.

Curiously the foils of the new Figaro III, designed by VPLP and probably also by Verdier, have nothing in common with the foils of the IMOCA boats, probably because the boat will be raced in many races where the upwind performance is as important as the downwind one and also to offer less drag while going upwind on light winds, also much more frequent on the racing program of the Figaro. The Figaro has also a fixed keel and that change many things in what regards foils and upwind performance.
There are also other type of foils being developed on the mini of Simon Koster, designed by by Mer Fort, even if on this one I don't understand why the foils are turned to the inside of the boat and not to the outside. These foils will also provide upwind grip. Till now the results have been not great, being the better a 3rd on the Mini en Mai race, but I am sure that the mini class, as usual, is going to contribute with a lot of experimentation and different solutions, in what regards foil development and different solutions, I hope already on some of the boats for the next mini Transat.

Anyway they are only at the beginning of the development of these foils and I am sure that very interesting and more efficient evolution will follow, just look at this baby: