Archive for 'Racing'

VOR: ABN AMRO 1 Sets 24-Hour Record; Ericsson’s Keel Goes ‘Bang’

Posted by John Callender on November 29th, 2005 at 7:45 pm

ABN AMRO One in spray

The four leaders in the Volvo Ocean Race are stretching apart in the final run to the Leg One finish at Cape Town, with first-place ABN AMRO One setting a new 24-hour monohull distance record of 546 nautical miles. From the official VOR site: Fastest on the planet.

Meanwhile, aboard Ericsson, currently in fourth place, last night got very exciting at one point. Again from the official site: Bitter blow for Ericsson.

“We were reaching on starboard tack at a speed of 20 knots,” explains Ericsson skipper Neal McDonald, “The boat was fully loaded, but these were normal sailing conditions. At 0045 GMT, we suddenly heard a loud bang. We immediately stopped the boat and took the mainsail down to investigate the problem. There was no visible damage, but it was obvious that the keel was flopping from side to side! After a few minutes of work, Richard Mason managed to lock the keel in one safe position. We are now sailing towards Cape Town in a much-reduced capacity.”

Photo: ABN AMRO One gives crew the firehose treatment in the Atlantic. Photo courtesy of the official ABN AMRO site.

Positions in Flux at the Front of the VOR Fleet

Posted by John Callender on November 26th, 2005 at 10:04 am

Brasil 1 at Fernando de Noronha

For the four boats at the front of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, it’s been a seesaw battle over the last few days. The boats have been in lighter wind as they try to get south; now they’re turning the corner for the finish line in Cape Town.

For a day or so Brasil 1, which had chosen to take an easterly line, took the lead (on paper at least). Now, though, the more-southerly ABN AMRO One has picked up the wind and turned east, and retaken the top spot. The computer rankings have ABN AMRO Two 50 miles back, Brasil 1 6 miles behind them, and Ericsson another 15 miles behind them. From the official site: Position maps and Turning the corner.

More discussion of what’s going on from (Who’s winning? Go on!)

Photo: That’s Brasil 1 during the mid-leg rounding of Fernando de Noronha; more images available from their official team site.

VOR: ABN Amro One Wins Mid-Atlantic Gate

Posted by John Callender on November 22nd, 2005 at 6:31 am

ABN AMRO One does a bow-plant

ABN AMRO One has led the way through the mid-Atlantic “gate” of the Volvo Ocean Race’s first leg at the Ilha de Fernando de Noronha. Details from Yachting World: First points for ABN AMRO 1.

Ericsson, which has been coming on strong in the last few days, was second through the gate. Combined with the points from her in-port win in Spain, that means that if the current positions hold up at the finish of Leg One in Cape Town, Ericsson will actually have a one-point lead over ABN AMRO One at that point.

Still, it’s early to be talking about finishing positions for Leg One. There’s still a lot of very rough water for these boats to go over (or through, as in this very cool image of ABN AMRO One by Jon Nash, and run here courtesy of the offical ABN AMRO site).

Geronimo Sets New Transpac Record

Posted by John Callender on November 21st, 2005 at 5:00 pm

Geronimo close hauled

The 110-foot trimaran Geronimo has successfully posted a new record for the Los Angeles-to-Honolulu passage. Details available from Los Angeles – Honolulu challenge.

Four days, 19 hours, 31 minutes and 37 seconds (subject to ratification) after crossing the start line off Los Angeles, Capgemini and Schneider Electric’s maxi trimaran Geronimo has set a new record for the transpacific Los Angeles to Honolulu Challenge . Crossing the finish line off Diamond Head in Hawaii under a moonlit night sky, at 4:36am local time (US Hawaii) November 18 and 14 36 40 UTC November 18, Geronimo and her men now have a hat trick of WSSRC sailing speed records.

According to the information at, Geronimo should have now completed her 2-day stopover in Honolulu, and be bound (again) for San Diego. I assume the return journey will be somewhat slower than the just-under-5-days it took them going out, but “slow” is very much a relative concept with this boat.

Profile of Carl Eichenlaub

Posted by John Callender on November 17th, 2005 at 8:03 am

There’s a nice write-up about Carl Eichenlaub in the latest issue of The Log: Carl Eichenlaub takes sailing to a new level.

I’ve never met Eichenlaub, though as a kid growing up racing in Southern California I competed against him a lot. His two tonner Cadenza, which was way ahead of its time in terms of having bold graphics spelling out the boat’s name over most of the hull, was frequently in the same part of the racecourse as my dad’s Columbia 52 Victoria, which tended to be depressing since we owed them time. But the boat was certainly fun to look at.

Geronimo on Track for Transpac Record

Posted by John Callender on November 16th, 2005 at 8:50 pm

Geronimo start

After starting off LA on Saturday, November 12, the 110-foot trimaran Geronimo encountered 12 hours of light winds before returning to port and re-starting on Sunday. The boat has been averaging 25 knots since then, and is currently 702 miles from the finish line in Honolulu. Details from The LA to Honolulu challenge.

Over the last 24 hours the Capgemini and Schneider Electric trimaran Geronimo has been eating up the miles as the Franco American crew pull out all the stops to break the current transpacific sailing record that stands at five days, nine hours, 18 minutes and 26 seconds set in 1997.

Updated information received from onboard Geronimo is that for the four hours from 13 17 to 1701 November 16 UTC the boat had covered 86.25 miles averaging 23 knots boat speed point to point.

The giant ocean record breaker has 822 miles to go to cross the finish line and if all the crew can maintain a 14.80 knots average boat speed from their current location to the finish line they will have their third speed sailing record in four months.

VOR: ABN AMRO 1 Leads; Details on Pirates, Movistar Breakdowns

Posted by John Callender on November 16th, 2005 at 8:25 pm


In the Volvo Ocean Race, the four boats that have not yet suffered any serious breakdowns are still very close together, with ABN AMRO One having an 11-mile lead on Brasil, then Ericsson 1 mile back, and ABN AMRO Two 2 miles back from there. See the official VOR site’s position maps page for details.

Five hundred miles astern, Sunergy is back on the course and racing, though at a significantly slower speed than the boats in the lead pack. And back in Portugal, some really interesting news has come out regarding the breakdowns to movistar and Pirates of the Caribbean, neither of which will be rejoining this leg.

An article from the Telegraph has extensive discussion with Paul Cayard about just what went wrong on Pirates — and it doesn’t sound pretty: Cayard fears for Volvo 70 safety.

Instead of having a keel with a hinge on the outside beneath the hull, like the Open 60s competing in the Transat Jacques Vabre, the Volvo 70s have their pins inside the hull. This leaves a door-sized hole in the hull bottom.

The box – dubbed by Cayard the “fish bowl” because it has an inspection window – sits over the hole in the hull and the hydraulic rams pass into it, sealed by industrial-strength gaiters.

Pirates’ problem was that the fairings are meant to seal the hull bottom. When one fell off, it was not just a question of lost speed through increased drag but of the entire integrity of hull depending on the “fish bowl”, which was not designed to withstand the tons of pressure that were building up inside it.

More info on the Pirates team is available in this update from Cayard at Yachting World’s site: We have now been in port for 36 hours…

Over at movistar, the damage to the hull and appendages that was revealed when they hoisted the boat out of the water has led the team to conclude that they must have hit something big — like a container. More details from the official VOR site: Bad, but not quite as bad.

Again, more detail is available in this item from Yachting World: movistar damage caused by collision.

Photo: movistar in happier days. Photo by Sally Collison,

Geronimo Tries for Transpac Record

Posted by John Callender on November 15th, 2005 at 6:49 am


The Log’s Marisa O’Neill has written an interesting article about Geronimo, the world’s largest trimaran, which is in our local waters (Update: er, was in our local waters — she left on the 13th) in anticipation of an attempt on the Transpac-course record: Trimaran eyes Honolulu record.

The 110-foot maxi trimaran Geronimo – fresh from Tahiti – will briefly make San Diego her home before attempting a record-breaking run to Honolulu, planned for next week.

Geronimo sailed into San Diego Bay at about 8 a.m. November 6 after sailing 4,000 miles in 12 days from Tahiti. She will stay at Driscoll Boat Works on Shelter Island while she prepares to break the Transpac speed record of 5 days 9 hours 18 minutes and 26 seconds.

“We want to make her very light for this record,” French skipper Olivier de Kersauson said. “Then we’ll go to Hawaii, stop two days – no more – then come back.”

Upon her return, Geronimo will remain at Driscoll’s until January. Then it’s on to San Francisco, Yokohama and Hong Kong.

At first I didn’t have a good sense of the boat’s scale from that image. When I looked closer, though, and realized that the boat is twice the length of the largest boat I’ve ever sailed on, I said, “whoa.” That would be something else to sail on — or even to see passing by on the water. Look quickly, though; she isn’t going to be there for long. :-)

VOR: Lead Changes, Fire, Men (Intentionally) Overboard, and Sunergy Heads in for Repairs

Posted by John Callender on November 14th, 2005 at 10:20 am

Brasil 1

It’s been a hell of a day at sea for the VOR racers, apparently. From the official site:

In an audio interview at 1230GMT, Ericsson navigator Steve Hayles told the Volvo Ocean Race web site that the boat was stopped in the water and crew members Jason Carrington and Richard Mason were in the water cutting away ropes from the keel and rudder. Thirty hours ago, during the first night, Ericsson had what Hayles described as an issue with a sail and a halyard, and had been sailing since with the debris hanging off the appendages. It was only now that the conditions were judged safe enough to put the swimmers in the water to resolve the problem.

Mike Sanderson, skipper of ABN AMRO ONE spoke to Race Headquarters at 1200 GMT and shocked radio reporter Guy Swindells with a very matter of fact report of a fire on board. Apparently a bolt had dropped into the battery box and lodged between a battery terminal and the carbon fibre structure. Carbon fibre is conductive and the resulting short circuit took out the wiring and systems in navigaton, communications and the media station. Once the fire was controlled, navigator Stan Honey, an acknowledged electronics expert in the field of TV and films, and not just an offshore navigator, has managed to re-wire the damaged areas so that they are now able to communicate and use their electronic navigation systems.

Meanwhile, Sunergy, the Australian team whose finances, and partcipation, were in doubt up until the last days before the start, has suffered a failure of the mainboom gooseneck, and is reportedly heading into port for repairs. More on the carnage in this Times Online article: Volvo boats crippled by raging seas.

At the front of the fleet, it’s currently a seesaw battle between Brasil 1 and ABN AMRO One, with Ericsson and ABN AMRO Two slightly farther back.

Photo caption: Water flows over the side deck into the cockpit of Brasil 1. ©Brasil 1.

Pirates, Movistar Out for Repairs; ABN AMRO Boats Lead VOR

Posted by John Callender on November 13th, 2005 at 10:25 am

VOR start

The Volvo Ocean Race is under way, and two of the seven boats are already headed to port for repairs involving the hydraulic canting keels. From Yachting World: Drama on leg 1.

Paul Cayard’s Pirates of the Caribbean was understood to have sprung a leak which had seriously damaged the electronics aboard their Volvo 70. According to a report on the official web site:

‘The boat had lost computer control of the keel hydraulics and that as a result, the keel was not operational, compromising the racing ability of the boat, though not its safety. Falmouth Coastguard MRCC was informed, and told that the boat was not in danger and was heading for Cascais in Portugal.’

Aboard Movistar the problems were understood to be more serious. Again, according to reports on the Volvo site:

‘….the boat [Movistar] had fractured a keel ram shelf, the support that carries the fixed end of one of the massive hydraulic rams that actuate the swinging keel.

‘Shortly after the original incident, however, the boat reported further problems. This more serious damage caused Bouwe Bekking, movistar’s skipper to report, “The load on the one ram must have been huge, as the main bulkhead buckled badly. No other option than to head to port as it is not safe to carry on.’

The team are understood to be heading towards Cadiz to assess the damage.

More on the Pirates and Movistar problems from the official VOR site: Unlucky for some.

Meanwhile, the ABN AMRO boats have done a good job of putting to rest the ‘too slow’ worries from the in-port race; as winds have picked up they’ve taken the lead, with ABN AMRO Two in first place and ABN AMRO One 10 miles back. Again from the official site: Seriously hardcore.

Photo by Oskar Kihlborg.

Weblog Home | Buyer's Guide | Weather | FAQ | Contact