Nika nails it

Artemis Racing today won the fleet racing at the RC44 Virgin Gorda Cup, with a four point margin over Peninsula Petroleum, having led from the outset of the four day regatta.

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SUPER GOOFY SAILBOATS: Foggy, Sailing Yacht A, Surfari 44


‘Tis the season to hand out boat awards in the sailing industry. We’ve already seen SAIL’s Best Boats picks and are eagerly awaiting the opinionations of Cruising World and Sailing World re their Boats of the Year. But these competitions are for the most part restricted to common production boats, and the truly interesting (i.e., totally wacky) new sailboats, usually built for over-the-top rich people with more money than sense, never get considered. So I thought we here at WaveTrain should conduct our own survey of the scene.

Our first nominee, Foggy (see photo up top), designed by renowned architect Frank O. Gehry (the boat’s name derives from his initials) in collaboration with German Frers, is a one-off custom boat that got a lot of attention when it was launched at Brooklin Boatyard earlier this year. Gehry has always been an avid sailor and normally sails a Beneteau First 44.7 out of Marina del Rey, so he does have some idea of how a sailboat is supposed to function.

Reportedly he told Frers at the start of this project: “Don’t let me go too crazy.” You can decide for yourself if Frers succeeded in fulfilling this design brief.

Twin wheels

Twin binnacles and wheels with goofy aesthetic details. These are removed when the boat is racing


Ditto with the bowsprit


Companionway, with wavy glass deck panels overhead. There are similar panels in the topsides


German Frers (left) hanging with Frank in the saloon, the décor of which vaguely recalls that old children’s TV show H.R. Pufnstuf

Foggy under sail

Foggy under sail. Seen from a distance she appears almost normal. But still those glass patches on deck do look a lot like skating ponds, don’t they?

To give some sense of perspective here, you should ponder some of Gehry’s architectural work. For example:

Seattle building

The Experience Music Project building in Seattle. Unfortunately, Frank did not have German around to restrain him here

The very first thing I thought when I studied photos of Foggy was that it will be impossible to sell her to a second owner. Evidently Frank understood that, too. Really the cleverest part of the whole project is that he didn’t design the boat for himself. Instead he convinced a friend, developer Richard Cohen, to be the owner.

Frank and Richard

Frank on the wheel, with his buddy Richard Cohen on the right. Cohen, as you can see, is not smiling

Our next nominee, I respectfully submit, is not only super goofy, but is also a serious contender for the coveted title of Ugliest Sailing Vessel Ever Built. It also has a super goofy name, Sailing Yacht A, and was built for Russian megla-billionaire Andrey Melnichenko in Germany at an estimated cost of $390 million.

Sailing Yacht A

Sailing Yacht A in profile. Like the ugliest modern powerboats it looks a lot like a running shoe

Running shoe

See what I mean?

What is most impressive about this boat, of course, is its scale. It is the largest sailing yacht ever built and its masts are the tallest freestanding composite structures ever created (the mainmast is 300 feet tall, with a maximum section diameter big enough to fit a room inside).

Bow shot A

Bow shot, showing off Sailing Yacht A’s svelte tumblehome topsides

Aerial shot

Aerial view, revealing gorgeous teak decks and the enormous swimming pool pit. Allegedly there is also a helicopter deck in there somewhere, but damned if I can spot it. I’m guessing it is retractable and pokes out the side somewhere

Keel pod

Best of all, there is an observation pod inside the keel bulb! Superyacht designers everywhere are dope-slapping their foreheads wondering why they never thought of this before

As far as I can tell this beast hasn’t been sailing yet, but you can watch this viddy of her lumbering along under power:

Our last contender, the relatively tiny Surfari 44, built by Pacific Seacraft for Friendship Yachts, seems modest and humble compared to our first two boats. The client here is Jimmy Buffett, the Parrothead-in-Chief himself. According to the marketing literature the boat is “a luxury indoor/outdoor living platform” that is, for Buffett, “the perfect extension for living the life he enjoys.”

Perhaps they should just call it a “living boat” instead of a sailboat.

Surfari 44

Compared to the other two, frankly, I think this boat is pretty good looking

Fighting chairs

But it gets major goofy points for the fighting chairs in the back. You want to be damn sure that transom is closed before you start backing down on the marlin you just hooked. Note also the twin props under the hull: a sure sign the boat is more about living than sailing

Mock chairs

I thought maybe they were just kidding about the fighting chairs, but as you can see here they actually mocked them up during the build, so I expect we will see them on the finished product, which should get launched soon

Surfari profile

Full profile with accommodation plan

As they say, friends: goofy is in the eye of the beholder. Please cast your votes in the comments section down below.

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Peninsula Petroleum firing on all cylinders

Conditions on the penultimate day of the RC44 Virgin Gorda Cup turned volatile, reminding competitors that this exotic venue, while balmy and hot, is also in the centre of the Caribbean Trade Winds

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Sailing World College Rankings, November 25th 2015

Sailing World’s College Rankings, presented by Gill and Sailors for the Sea, are determined by an open coaches poll. For more information on the poll, or on how your team’s coach can become a part of it, visit The number of first place votes a team received is in brackets. This is the fifth national ranking for the 2015 season, based on results through November 25th.

For easy viewing and sharing, the PDF is available here:

Coed Rankings:

Coed Total Points
Yale [5] 262
Georgetown [5] 261
Coast Guard [4] 252
Charleston 241
Boston College 231
Harvard 191
St. Mary's 188
Old Dominion 176
Boston University 162
Navy 112
Bowdoin 110
Stanford 105
Darmouth 98
MIT 91
George Washington (tie) 73
SUNY Maritime 73
Hobart/Wm. Smith 62
Brown 54
Tufts 28
UC Santa Barbara 24

Also receiving votes: Eckerd, South Florida, Roger Williams, Cornell, Hawaii, Univ. Pennsylvania, Connecticut College, Rhode Island, Fordham, Southern California, Salve Regina, Vermont

Women Total Points
Rhode Island [11] 192
Dartmouth [2] 188
Yale [1] 155
Georgetown 154
Bowdoin 148
George Washington (tie) 105
Coast Guard 105
Vermont 98
Boston University 92
Boston College 81
South Florida 74
Tufts 50
Stanford 48
Charleston 45
St. Mary's 25

Also receiving votes: Brown, Old Dominion, Eckerd, Baylor, Harvard, Navy, Fordham, UC Santa Barbara, Roger Williams, Santa Clara, Hawaii, Hobart/Wm. Smith, Wisconsin

14 coaches participated: Stanford, Dartmouth, Cornell, SUNY Maritime, Eckerd, Brown, Harvard, Hawaii, South Florida, Univ. Pennsylvania, Bowdoin, Roger Williams, Vermont, Hobart/Wm. Smith

A Trip to the Sailmaker

This is the first in a series of blogs that will take my book Maximum Sail Power, update it and present it here in blog sized chunks. At the end of this blog is a link to subscribe so that you get all posts and can educate yourself on the subject of sails and sailmaking. There is also a great free gift when you subscribe. Thanks for reading.

You can download this blog as a pdf here.

Local sail lofts are getting replaced by giant sail production facilities in Asia and elsewhere

There was a time not long ago, that buying new sails for your boat included a pleasant visit to your local sailmaker. You called ahead to set up an appointment, and looked forward to an enjoyable few hours discussing the cut of your jib, so to speak. You would wander around the sail loft looking at all the new sails going through production while your sailmaker explained the virtues of the latest fabrics and newest trends in sail engineering. At the end you would write a check for a deposit, shake on the deal and wait for your sail to be delivered to your boat in the spring. Those days are gone – sadly for those who long wistfully for the past – but sailmaking, like most modern industries, is operating firmly in the 21st century. In a 2007 article published in Yachting Monthly, Nigel Calder toured a 200,000 square foot production loft in China, and summed up his visit saying he had witnessed the “globalized future of sailmaking” and described sailmaking as having “entered the era of established brand names tied to mass production facilities,….no different than Nike or Sony.”

China Sail Factory, the loft Nigel Calder wrote about, along with North Sails in Sri Lanka and Ullman Sails in South Africa churn out sails by the container load. Customers are none the wiser about where their sails were made, and many don’t care. What they care about are sails that are designed well, fit perfectly, and are high quality at a reasonable price. They can get all this and more from an offshore facility at a substantial cost saving over building the sails locally. They still need a knowledgeable sailmaker who can create an excellent design and insure the sail is specified properly. But where the sail is made means little. It wasn’t always so, but things have changed and the change started with sail cloth.

In the early days, well the 60s shall we say, fabric used to make sails was not that great. Basic woven Dacron and Nylon were the most common fabrics, but they were not that stable, they stretched, and after time your sails started to “bag out.” That’s all changed. Modern sail fabrics are highly engineered using incredible high performance, low stretch fibers and if your sail is used properly it will last a very long time. Add to this the use of sophisticated sail design software and laser cutting machines that take the panel layouts and cut them with pinpoint accuracy, you end up with sails that are almost always perfect. You don’t have to be a big Brand Name sail loft like North or Ullman to get your customers great sails.

Offshore production has long been used for cruising sails, but more and more racing sails are also being produced offshore. Now if you are a small, local loft you don’t need to invest in expensive equipment to make molded sails; you take advantage of the molds in offshore facilities and sell your customers a Load Path Membrane sail with your logo on it.

So the game has changed and I plan to stay on the cutting edge of this change. This site – Great Circle Sails – is designed to make you a better consumer of sails, a more educated consumer. It’s a confusing world for most sailors looking for new sails. Each sailmaker has their own line of products and their own acronyms for them. They all tout theirs as the best and in many cases they are. There is no denying that the big names like North, UK and Doyle make some stunningly beautiful sails, but you don’t have to pay for their overhead and marketing costs. Educate yourself and give me a call, or give me a call and I will educate you. At Great Circle Sails we can get you the sails you need at a price that is reasonable and does not include the built-in cost of those highly paid sailmakers gallivanting the world racing on the latest new design built out of unobtanium, cleverly documented in the full page ads of your favorite sailing magazine, at great expense.

I hope that you enjoyed this blog. I invite you to subscribe so that you will not miss a blog post. You will get a great free gift and weekly blogs about sails and sailmaking. Click the pic to subscribe.
Brian Hancock – owner Great Circle Sails

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