Sunday, October 31, 2010

Armchair sailing

With the off season setting in, some of us will be sailing less and spectating more.  There is now some excellent web coverage of large events. 

Personally I will be watching several interesting sailing events that are taking place this winter.  The first is the Velux 5 oceans.  This event is raced in open 60's that were built before 2003 and are designed to minimize their environmental impact.  As I have previously mentioned Derek Hatfield, racing "Active House" is the Canadian entry.  As I type this the two leading boats have entered the trade winds on the southern side of the doldrums and are powering away from Derek, who is stuck still stuck in light air.  Two other boats are behind Derek, further North in the Atlantic.  Here's the link for the race viewer:

 Another interesting race that is taking place this winter is the Barcelona World Race.  This one is in Open 60’s, but with double handed crews.  The advantages and disadvantages are explained in the magazine section of the website.  The end result is that the boat can be pushed harder with two crew than with one.  In fact, in the last race in Alex Thompson and Andrew Cape set the 24 hr speed record for open 60’s, Including those raced with full crews.  It was an interesting race last time, and probably will be again this time out.  Here’s the link:

Down in Australia the 18 footer season has just started.  This is an annual tradition in Australia.  The boats race every Sunday on Sydney harbor, dodging ferry traffic pleasure boats, and the occasional freighter.   They are 18 feet long and have three trapezes and an enormous spinnaker.  There is excellent video shot from the 18 footer .tv website’s dedicated camera cat.  They have completed two races already, and more to come.  Check it out at:

Good video coverage of the Extreme 40 catamaran series that finished in September is available on the class website.  The class is quite possibly the most exciting, spectator friendly sailing event around.  The boats are fast, the courses are short and wipeouts, crashes, and close racing abound.  With both on boat and multiple off boat camera’s the action is always well documented.  Check it out at:

Hopefully that will keep your sailing itch scratched without having to get cold and wet.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Worst mark rounding ever

I just saw a video of the worst mark rounding ever.  Here's the link:

From the same source, here's quite possibly the most polite mark rounding ever

What is it like at your club race night?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Canadian Ocean Racer starts Velux 5 oceans race

Our Canadian ocean racer has started the Velux 5 oceans race.  The race is run in 5 ocean sprints.  From La Rochelle France to Cape Town South Africa, then to Wellington New Zealand, Salvador Brazil, Charlton Carolina, and back to La Rochelle in June of 2011

It's been a long hard road for Derek to get where he is.   Here's the short story:

First he Built an Open 40 at his parents home on the east coast of Canada.  He funded the build from his own money, but was unable to secure a title sponsor for the boat.  To pay for gear and racing expenses he solicited donations from Canadians.  In exchange he gave donors a piece of branded gear and painted their name on the hull.  He campaigned the boat under the name of "Spirit of Canada"  In 2003 he entered the "Around alone" race.  Unfortunately he was dis masted rounding cape horn.  He spent several months in Brazil acquiring a new rig and installing it.  Then he went back out and finished the race.  What I found remarkable about this was that when the race finished, Derek was still at sea.  He attended the closing ceremonies virtually, and when he did finish he was awarded 3rd place in class II.  From this success he started fund raising to Build an Open 60.  The fund raising, and the build wasn't complete until 2008, when Derek entered "Spirit of Canada" in the Vende Globe race, again with funds raised from Canadian sailors and yacht clubs.  The Vende is the single handed ocean race with no stops.  Derek was dis masted in a vicious storm shortly after the start, and along with several other competitors returned to the start to make repairs and restart the race.  He was able to make good progress and catch back up with some of the fleet when he again suffered rig damage.  This time a spreader and some shrouds failed.  He abandoned racing, jury rigged a repair and sailed into Australia.  He made repairs and sold off the boat to cover the loans he had taken out to pay his expenses to a Canadian Consortium who renamed her "O Canada" and are expected to race her in the next year or so.

That brings us up to the present.  Having been bitten by the ocean racing bug Derek didn't give up campaigning.  He entered the current edition of "Around Alone", now called the Velux 5 oceans after it's new sponsor.  The new innovation in this edition is the Eco 60 class of Yacht, which consists of open 60's built before 2003 and requires skippers to produce the smallest ecological foot print possible during the race.  Derek is going around with electricity generated by wind and solar and is caring no diesel fuel at all.  This time around Derek has a title sponsor, "Active House"  They have provided Derek with the funds to ensure the boat is in excellent shape and to pay for new sails immediately before the start.  In the past Derek has raced with the gear and sails he could afford and didn't always have the best of equipment.  As the boat is now painted in the Active House colors there is not a place for the names of the donors on the outside of the hull.  They are now painted on the inside of the cabin roof where Derek will see them daily and remember all those who have supported him.

As I write this Derek and Active House are headed for the equator and the Doldrums.  He didn't have a great first couple of days at sea and made a couple of tactical errors that placed him to the east of his competitors and in lighter wind.  The Duldums should slow the other boats and hopfully Derick can play his cards correctly and make some gains.

Here's some links for more info

Saturday, October 9, 2010

America's cup goes in a new direction

I have written a bit about some of the happenings in the America's cup.  I think things have solidified enough for me to venture an opinion on the prospects for the 34th cup.

First, the boats look really cool.  The goal seems to be to contest the America's cup in the most advanced sailboat available.  They will run 40 foot cats with rigid wing rigs for the first year, then up to 70 foot cats, again with wing rigs for the rest of the lead up events and the final event.  The boats are expected to be the fastest and most powerful boat available.  They are designed to be very very fast, but also may be hard to control.  They will definitely be different from what has been sailed in the past.  They look interesting enough for me to start thinking about sailing cats in 2011.  My club has a Nacra 570 and an F 18.  Both cool, fast cats but not nearly as crazy as the big boys.  Last year I thought Tasers were the coolest thing around but I am now looking forward to playing with cats.  I think other sailors who are exposed to the wing rigged boats may think about moving away from mono hulls and into cats as well.  Some of the pro teams don't seem to feel the same way though as they have decades of experience and time invested in mono hulls and don't want to play the new game.  It looks like it will be a draw with some teams leaving and new teams forming to replace them.  

The racing format will be designed for T.V.  This can only be a good thing.  T.V. coverage of a sailing event with fast, exciting boats?  Close to land, with Formula 1 style camera work?  I'll be watching that!  I don't see how this could be bad, but some of the existing teams do.  They say the format is unproven, and is unlikely to economically viable.  From the example of the VX 40 cat series that has good T.V. coverage and is run in an accesable venue I think it will work out just fine.

The defender has tried to set up the series with a mind to controlling costs.  They have done this by including a lot of services in the initial entry fee.  You pay one fee and you get a 40 foot boat to race the first year, a base at each venue and weather resources at each venue.  They are also making rules to limit support staff and the size of the sailing team.  Makes for a steep entry fee, but lower operating costs.  Previous additions of the cup required an enormous budget and huge resources to run a campaign.  I think its a positive sign that they are attempting to address the issue at all. 

So far it looks like a few teams have chosen to take their mono hull experience and compete in the Audi Med cup in TP52s rather than run a cup campaign.  This can also be a good thing as it keeps a good series of races in very high performance mono hulls, and allows the America's cup to develop into a venue for extremely high performance catamarans.  I think the commentator who said that the teams that don't get in this year and balk at the cost now may never go back to cup racing latter as the cost will be even higher as teams start to develop and the standard of racing goes up.  If they chose to enter the cup in its current format they will likely get the most level playing field there ever has been.  At this time there are only a few sailors with experience designing, building and racing these boats.  Admittedly they all work for the defender right now, but at least all the challengers are all in the same boat.  They all need to go find cat sailors and get them on board asap. 

All in all I think that the event will be good for the sport of sailing.  Anything that gets T.V. time is going to get exposed to more people.  More exposure that can only result in more interest in sailing.  Especially if people see sailing as being a fast paced, exciting sport rather than as as dull, uninteresting and hard to understand.