2016 VENDEE GLOBE: Southern Ocean Match Race

What a nail-biter! Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss and Armel Le Cleac’h on Banque Populaire have been swapping places at the front of the Vendée Globe fleet for some time now and are deep in the Southern Ocean, not too far west of the longitude of Cape Leeuwin at the southwestern tip of Australia. Le Cleac’h is the French heir apparent favored to win the race at the outset; Thomson is the Great Anglophone Hope, the only non-French competitor to have any chance of winning the race since Ellen MacArthur came a close second to Michel Desjoyeaux way back in 2001.

The ugly twist: Thomson has broken off his starboard J-foil (just as Ellen MacArthur lost one daggerboard after rounding Cape Horn in the 2000-01 race) and is essentially fighting with one hand tied behind his back. As the image up top suggests, when sailing on port tack Hugo Boss is a bit tender.

A few days ago the French Navy sent out a ship with a helo pad from the Kerguelen Islands and launched their chopper to make a spectacular video of the two boats racing by.

Here you can see pretty clearly how much on the edge Thomson must sail while on port tack to stay competitive. It seems his strategy is to pile on sail while keep the rig short. Where Banque Pop is loping along under a single-reefed mainsail and a masthead gennaker, Hugo Boss is burying her rail under a double-reefed main with a fractional genoa and staysail flying. Banque Pop, you’ll note, is sailing a whole lot flatter than Hugo Boss.

It amazes me that Thomson is doing as well as he is. There was some specious speculation that he was sandbagging everyone, claiming he’d broken a foil when he hadn’t, but the video makes it clear this is not the case. Look carefully and you’ll see the jagged bit of broken board sticking out the starboard side (when it isn’t totally buried underwater). Even if you couldn’t see the broken board, the difference in the attitude of the two boats makes it clear Boss is indeed crippled on this tack.

In another video published just today we find Thomson sailing on starboard tack within sight of Le Cleac’h, who is in a bit better breeze and passes him by (again).

Right now, as I write, Thomson is 15 miles behind Le Cleac’h and both are sailing on port tack.

Meanwhile, much further back in the fleet, Rich Wilson is doing quite well on Great American IV, running in 20th place ahead of five other boats. (Of the 29 boats that started, so far four have had to drop out.) Just yesterday he crossed from the western to eastern hemisphere west of the Cape of Good Hope.

You can follow Rich’s daily log on SAILfeed. To get an idea of how hard it is to sail one of these boats alone, I suggest you check out his description of the tacking procedure.

As the French might say: quelle pain!

The post 2016 VENDEE GLOBE: Southern Ocean Match Race appeared first on Sailfeed.

Posted in Uncategorised

2016 VENDEE GLOBE: Southern Ocean Match Race

What a nail-biter! Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss and Armel Le Cleac’h on Banque Populaire have been swapping places at the front of the Vendée Globe fleet for some time now and are deep in the Southern Ocean, not too far west of the longitude of Cape Leeuwin at the southwestern tip of Australia. Le Cleac’h is the French heir apparent favored to win the race at the outset; Thomson is the Great Anglophone Hope, the only non-French competitor to have any chance of winning the race since Ellen MacArthur came a close second to Michel Desjoyeaux way back in 2001.

The ugly twist: Thomson has broken off his starboard J-foil (just as Ellen MacArthur lost one daggerboard after rounding Cape Horn in the 2000-01 race) and is essentially fighting with one hand tied behind his back. As the image up top suggests, when sailing on port tack Hugo Boss is a bit tender.

A few days ago the French Navy sent out a ship with a helo pad from the Kerguelen Islands and launched their chopper to make a spectacular video of the two boats racing by.

Here you can see pretty clearly how much on the edge Thomson must sail while on port tack to stay competitive. It seems his strategy is to pile on sail while keep the rig short. Where Banque Pop is loping along under a single-reefed mainsail and a masthead gennaker, Hugo Boss is burying her rail under a double-reefed main with a fractional genoa and staysail flying. Banque Pop, you’ll note, is sailing a whole lot flatter than Hugo Boss.

It amazes me that Thomson is doing as well as he is. There was some specious speculation that he was sandbagging everyone, claiming he’d broken a foil when he hadn’t, but the video makes it clear this is not the case. Look carefully and you’ll see the jagged bit of broken board sticking out the starboard side (when it isn’t totally buried underwater). Even if you couldn’t see the broken board, the difference in the attitude of the two boats makes it clear Boss is indeed crippled on this tack.

In another video published just today we find Thomson sailing on starboard tack within sight of Le Cleac’h, who is in a bit better breeze and passes him by (again).

Right now, as I write, Thomson is 15 miles behind Le Cleac’h and both are sailing on port tack.

Meanwhile, much further back in the fleet, Rich Wilson is doing quite well on Great American IV, running in 20th place ahead of five other boats. (Of the 29 boats that started, so far four have had to drop out.) Just yesterday he crossed from the western to eastern hemisphere west of the Cape of Good Hope.

You can follow Rich’s daily log on SAILfeed. To get an idea of how hard it is to sail one of these boats alone, I suggest you check out his description of the tacking procedure.

As the French might say: quelle pain!

The post 2016 VENDEE GLOBE: Southern Ocean Match Race appeared first on Sailfeed.

Posted in Uncategorised

A Sea-Going Episode

It’s a big day to cross into a new hemisphere. Like crossing the Equator, yesterday we crossed the Prime Meridian, watching the West longitude change to East longitude on the GPS. Now we are out of both of our comfort zones, the Northern and Western Hemispheres!

Into the night, with another blow coming, we decided to head east for a bit to let the bulk of the storm pass to our south. We sailed with two reefs in the mainsail and the fractional gennaker. In the middle of the night, we got over 30 knots of wind, not forecast, and thinking that we might therefore get even more, I decided we had to furl the gennaker and use a smaller sail. But could we do it? In a lull to the low 20s of windspeed, I went at it. Usually it’s 40 grinds at the highest load. At 30, I could do no more, and switched to a lower gear, and was able to finish the job. Then we rolled out the solent jib, and proceeded through the night, still at high speed.

Small visitor in the night

Small visitor in the night

One thing I think I’m learning is that the extra sail area often brings marginal improvements in speed, and may in fact bring unnecessary risk. So I’m beginning more and more to trust my judgment rather than the computer’s perfect theoretical equations and sail recommendations.

Also last evening came a distress signal from Cape Town Radio by the Inmarsat-C unit. It was about a sinking bulk carrier cargo ship whose position was 120 miles north of ours. The alert asked vessels in the vicinity to go to the position; there were 19 crew aboard. I called Race Management to ask if they had further information; they did not. I called the emergency search and rescue telephone in France, and they gave me the number for their counterparts in Cape Town. I tried calling them, but for some reason the number would not ring through. At this time Race Management called back, said that they had spoken to Cape Town Search and Rescue, and that I was to proceed racing, and not divert. It would have taken at least 10 hours to get back to that ship’s position. About 30 minutes later came another alert, canceling the Mayday, and that the 19 aboard had been rescued, and that the ship now was a hazard to navigation as it had not yet sunk.

I remember well the skill, diligence and commitment of the crew of the New Zealand Pacific, who rescued us off Cape Horn in 1990. I wanted to make sure that I honored that tradition to the best of our ability.

Here are a couple of the messages:
—————————————–
LES 112 – MSG 1219 – NAV/METAREA Distress Call to Area: 7 – PosOk
NL BURUM LES 2-DEC-2016 17:25:02 033890
MAYDAY RELAY
FOLLOWING DISTRESS MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM
NSU INSPIRE/3FID5:
BULK CARRIER ANTAIOS/D5FW3 IN
POSITION 34 01.1 S AND 001 11.4 E
VESSEL IS SINKING AND CREW ABONDONING SHIP
19 PERSON ONBOARD.
ALL VESSEL IN THE AREA TO PROCEED TO THE DISTRESS
POSITION AND REPORT TO MRCC CAPETOWN
THIS CAPETOWNRADIO/ZSC
—————————————–
LES 112 – MSG 1287 – NAV/METAREA Urgent Call to Area: 7 – PosOk
NL BURUM LES 3-DEC-2016 04:19:08 045408
SECURITE
030040 UTC DEC 16
BULK CARRIER ANTAIOS / D5FW3 REPORTED TO BE SINKING IN POSITION 34-01.1S 001-11.4E
ALL CREW RESCUED
DANGER TO NAVIGATION
PLEASE KEEP A SHARP LOOKOUT
THIS IS CAPE TOWN RADIO/ZSC
—————————————–

Position
35° 38’S x 04° 33’E
Course
082° True
Speed
12.2 knots
True Wind Speed
18.5 knots
True Wind Direction
289°
Sails
Mainsail with 2 reefs, plus Solent Jib
Air temperature
66° F / 18.8° C
Sea Temperature
66° F / 18.8° C

Winch Pedestal Revolutions (daily) Amp Hours: Alternator (total) Amp Hours: Solar (total) Amp Hours: Hydro (total) Amp Hours: Wind (total)
1558 1498 376 6820 1104

The post A Sea-Going Episode appeared first on Sailfeed.

A Sea-Going Episode

It’s a big day to cross into a new hemisphere. Like crossing the Equator, yesterday we crossed the Prime Meridian, watching the West longitude change to East longitude on the GPS. Now we are out of both of our comfort zones, the Northern and Western Hemispheres!

Into the night, with another blow coming, we decided to head east for a bit to let the bulk of the storm pass to our south. We sailed with two reefs in the mainsail and the fractional gennaker. In the middle of the night, we got over 30 knots of wind, not forecast, and thinking that we might therefore get even more, I decided we had to furl the gennaker and use a smaller sail. But could we do it? In a lull to the low 20s of windspeed, I went at it. Usually it’s 40 grinds at the highest load. At 30, I could do no more, and switched to a lower gear, and was able to finish the job. Then we rolled out the solent jib, and proceeded through the night, still at high speed.

Small visitor in the night

Small visitor in the night

One thing I think I’m learning is that the extra sail area often brings marginal improvements in speed, and may in fact bring unnecessary risk. So I’m beginning more and more to trust my judgment rather than the computer’s perfect theoretical equations and sail recommendations.

Also last evening came a distress signal from Cape Town Radio by the Inmarsat-C unit. It was about a sinking bulk carrier cargo ship whose position was 120 miles north of ours. The alert asked vessels in the vicinity to go to the position; there were 19 crew aboard. I called Race Management to ask if they had further information; they did not. I called the emergency search and rescue telephone in France, and they gave me the number for their counterparts in Cape Town. I tried calling them, but for some reason the number would not ring through. At this time Race Management called back, said that they had spoken to Cape Town Search and Rescue, and that I was to proceed racing, and not divert. It would have taken at least 10 hours to get back to that ship’s position. About 30 minutes later came another alert, canceling the Mayday, and that the 19 aboard had been rescued, and that the ship now was a hazard to navigation as it had not yet sunk.

I remember well the skill, diligence and commitment of the crew of the New Zealand Pacific, who rescued us off Cape Horn in 1990. I wanted to make sure that I honored that tradition to the best of our ability.

Here are a couple of the messages:
—————————————–
LES 112 – MSG 1219 – NAV/METAREA Distress Call to Area: 7 – PosOk
NL BURUM LES 2-DEC-2016 17:25:02 033890
MAYDAY RELAY
FOLLOWING DISTRESS MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM
NSU INSPIRE/3FID5:
BULK CARRIER ANTAIOS/D5FW3 IN
POSITION 34 01.1 S AND 001 11.4 E
VESSEL IS SINKING AND CREW ABONDONING SHIP
19 PERSON ONBOARD.
ALL VESSEL IN THE AREA TO PROCEED TO THE DISTRESS
POSITION AND REPORT TO MRCC CAPETOWN
THIS CAPETOWNRADIO/ZSC
—————————————–
LES 112 – MSG 1287 – NAV/METAREA Urgent Call to Area: 7 – PosOk
NL BURUM LES 3-DEC-2016 04:19:08 045408
SECURITE
030040 UTC DEC 16
BULK CARRIER ANTAIOS / D5FW3 REPORTED TO BE SINKING IN POSITION 34-01.1S 001-11.4E
ALL CREW RESCUED
DANGER TO NAVIGATION
PLEASE KEEP A SHARP LOOKOUT
THIS IS CAPE TOWN RADIO/ZSC
—————————————–

Position
35° 38’S x 04° 33’E
Course
082° True
Speed
12.2 knots
True Wind Speed
18.5 knots
True Wind Direction
289°
Sails
Mainsail with 2 reefs, plus Solent Jib
Air temperature
66° F / 18.8° C
Sea Temperature
66° F / 18.8° C

Winch Pedestal Revolutions (daily) Amp Hours: Alternator (total) Amp Hours: Solar (total) Amp Hours: Hydro (total) Amp Hours: Wind (total)
1558 1498 376 6820 1104

The post A Sea-Going Episode appeared first on Sailfeed.

SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Delivery to Annapolis Completed

Departing Manhattan

Not surprisingly, the very best weather window for getting Lunacy from Huntington to Annapolis came over the Wednesday and Thursday of the Thanksgiving holiday, when abandoning hearth and family for the vicissitudes of offshore sailing would have cost many spousal brownie points. It’s hard not to feel a little anxious about these things this time of year. Every day lost means the day of departure, when finally it comes, will likely be colder, with a smaller weather window and a greater chance of stepping in something.

Not to worry. After the trauma of grinding my fingers through the anchor windlass I was due for a run of good luck. Stroke one: my old partner-in-crime Hank Schmitt (see image up top), a professional delivery skipper no less, was willing and able to ride shotgun on this next leg. Stroke two: it looked like our weather window was stretching out for a bit.

I drove down to Huntington the Saturday after Thanksgiving, had a fantastic meal with Hank’s family that evening, and we took off early Sunday morning after topping up on fuel at the Huntington Yacht Club. We spent the day motorsailing with fair current all through the heart of metropolitan New York, down the whole length of the upper and lower parts of the harbor, and were clear of Sandy Hook just before sunset.

Here at long last we had some fair breeze and a proper sailing angle, a fast reach that gradually morphed into a close reach as we traversed the Jersey shore, and so blissfully made easy miles with the engine switched off all through the night.

East River

Swept down the East River

Bundled

Yours truly bundled against the chill air off Sandy Hook as the sun slumps to the horizon

Sunday paper

Hank studies the Sunday paper as we sweep down the Jersey coast under sail

As far as the wind was concerned, our timing was perfect. We carried our northwest sailing breeze on through Monday’s dawn, where it finally left us and shifted softly south as we approached Cape May and prepared to enter Delaware Bay. With a 62-foot mast we were much too tall to think of transiting the Cape May Canal, so we had to stay outside to turn the corner. The entrance of the bay is choked with shoals (indeed, this is true of the entire bay) and the deep-water channel is all the way over hard by the Cape Henelopen shore, many miles out of the way. Hank, however, is a student of this passage, having done it, he estimates, about 100 times total and five times already this year alone. His present strategy, given daylight and a good chartplotter, is to hug the beach on the Cape May side and squeeze through some tendrils of deep-enough water, and I was happy to have him demonstrate.

Cape May transit

Our route around Cape May

Salem plant

Hank enjoys the Book Review section as we pass the Salem nuclear power plant at the top of Delaware Bay

By now we were motorsailing again as we trundled north up the bay in the weak southerly breeze. And the forecast, unfortunately, was worrisome. The south breeze, we were told, would build after nightfall, as we plowed through the C&D Canal at the top of Delaware Bay, and by the time we emerged at the northern end of Chesapeake Bay would be blowing 15-20 knots with gusts to 25 straight into our faces.

Not at all a nice prospect. The only thing worse was waiting a bit, as the wind was expected to increase during the next day, blowing 20-25 by late morning with gusts to 35 and driving rain.

But our luck was still holding. We emerged from the C&D on the Chesapeake side around 2130 hours on Monday night with fingers crossed and one lucky reef in the mainsail. The wind was still moderate, blowing 10-15, and stayed that way all the way down to Annapolis. By 0330 hours early Tuesday morning we were tied up at a fuel dock in Back Creek and were nestling into our sleeping bags. The rain started spitting on the coachroof as we drifted off to sleep.

Mission accomplished!

Lunacy is now in the custody of Bernie Jakits of Rogue Wave Yacht Sales at the Port Annapolis yard on Back Creek.

Yacht tug

Very cool yacht tug created by Port Annapolis staff to bulldog boats around the marina. A converted 13-foot Boston Whaler with bow-grabber pads on the front. The outboard pod in the middle of the tug rotates through 360 degrees

Bernie

Bernie on the job, writing up Lunacy’s Yachtworld listing

You can read the listing here. Asking price is now $115K. Call Bernie at 443-742-1792 to check her out!

The post SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Delivery to Annapolis Completed appeared first on Sailfeed.

Posted in Uncategorised

SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Delivery to Annapolis Completed

Departing Manhattan

Not surprisingly, the very best weather window for getting Lunacy from Huntington to Annapolis came over the Wednesday and Thursday of the Thanksgiving holiday, when abandoning hearth and family for the vicissitudes of offshore sailing would have cost many spousal brownie points. It’s hard not to feel a little anxious about these things this time of year. Every day lost means the day of departure, when finally it comes, will likely be colder, with a smaller weather window and a greater chance of stepping in something.

Not to worry. After the trauma of grinding my fingers through the anchor windlass I was due for a run of good luck. Stroke one: my old partner-in-crime Hank Schmitt (see image up top), a professional delivery skipper no less, was willing and able to ride shotgun on this next leg. Stroke two: it looked like our weather window was stretching out for a bit.

I drove down to Huntington the Saturday after Thanksgiving, had a fantastic meal with Hank’s family that evening, and we took off early Sunday morning after topping up on fuel at the Huntington Yacht Club. We spent the day motorsailing with fair current all through the heart of metropolitan New York, down the whole length of the upper and lower parts of the harbor, and were clear of Sandy Hook just before sunset.

Here at long last we had some fair breeze and a proper sailing angle, a fast reach that gradually morphed into a close reach as we traversed the Jersey shore, and so blissfully made easy miles with the engine switched off all through the night.

East River

Swept down the East River

Bundled

Yours truly bundled against the chill air off Sandy Hook as the sun slumps to the horizon

Sunday paper

Hank studies the Sunday paper as we sweep down the Jersey coast under sail

As far as the wind was concerned, our timing was perfect. We carried our northwest sailing breeze on through Monday’s dawn, where it finally left us and shifted softly south as we approached Cape May and prepared to enter Delaware Bay. With a 62-foot mast we were much too tall to think of transiting the Cape May Canal, so we had to stay outside to turn the corner. The entrance of the bay is choked with shoals (indeed, this is true of the entire bay) and the deep-water channel is all the way over hard by the Cape Henelopen shore, many miles out of the way. Hank, however, is a student of this passage, having done it, he estimates, about 100 times total and five times already this year alone. His present strategy, given daylight and a good chartplotter, is to hug the beach on the Cape May side and squeeze through some tendrils of deep-enough water, and I was happy to have him demonstrate.

Cape May transit

Our route around Cape May

Salem plant

Hank enjoys the Book Review section as we pass the Salem nuclear power plant at the top of Delaware Bay

By now we were motorsailing again as we trundled north up the bay in the weak southerly breeze. And the forecast, unfortunately, was worrisome. The south breeze, we were told, would build after nightfall, as we plowed through the C&D Canal at the top of Delaware Bay, and by the time we emerged at the northern end of Chesapeake Bay would be blowing 15-20 knots with gusts to 25 straight into our faces.

Not at all a nice prospect. The only thing worse was waiting a bit, as the wind was expected to increase during the next day, blowing 20-25 by late morning with gusts to 35 and driving rain.

But our luck was still holding. We emerged from the C&D on the Chesapeake side around 2130 hours on Monday night with fingers crossed and one lucky reef in the mainsail. The wind was still moderate, blowing 10-15, and stayed that way all the way down to Annapolis. By 0330 hours early Tuesday morning we were tied up at a fuel dock in Back Creek and were nestling into our sleeping bags. The rain started spitting on the coachroof as we drifted off to sleep.

Mission accomplished!

Lunacy is now in the custody of Bernie Jakits of Rogue Wave Yacht Sales at the Port Annapolis yard on Back Creek.

Yacht tug

Very cool yacht tug created by Port Annapolis staff to bulldog boats around the marina. A converted 13-foot Boston Whaler with bow-grabber pads on the front. The outboard pod in the middle of the tug rotates through 360 degrees

Bernie

Bernie on the job, writing up Lunacy’s Yachtworld listing

You can read the listing here. Asking price is now $115K. Call Bernie at 443-742-1792 to check her out!

The post SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Delivery to Annapolis Completed appeared first on Sailfeed.

Posted in Uncategorised