Archive for 'Racing'

60-Foot Tris at 50% Attrition in Transat Jacques Vabre

Posted by John Callender on November 12th, 2005 at 6:44 am

Orange Project capsized in Transat Jacques Vabre

A nasty storm a couple of days ago in the Bay of Biscay, followed by ongoing mayhem from strong tradewinds, have knocked out 5 of the 10 60-foot trimarans competing in the doublehanded transatlantic race currently under way between Le Havre, France, and Bahia, Brazil.

Here’s a writeup from Latitude 38 with aerial photos of the capsized Orange Project and Foncia: Snap, crackle and pop at Transat Jacques Vabre.

As if starting the biennial doublehanded transatlantic race in 25+ knot, on-the-nose winds and rough seas weren’t enough for the 19 monohulls (Saturday start) and 16 multis (Sunday start), Sunday night a cold front rolled in, blasting primarily the multihull fleet with 35 to 45-knot winds and reported 20-ft seas. In the wee hours of Monday, EPIRBs went off on the 60-ft trimarans Sodebo and Orange Project. The former snapped off its port ama and capsized. The latter suffered a broken main beam and also went upside down. Three hours later, at 0615, a report came in that Foncia had also capsized. With the retirement of Brossard earlier on Sunday with a cracked main hull, that takes four of the ten 60-ft multis out of the running. The six co-skippers of the three capsized boats were rescued, some more banged and bruised than others but all okay. At this writing, their smashed boats were all either under tow back to land, or about to be.

Later, Groupama-2 pitchpoled (apparently) and capsized (definitely). Here’s a write-up from At around 1750 GMT tonight, the 60ft multihull Groupama-2

The prevailing conditions at the time were classic Trade wind 25 – 30 knots from the North East. The trimaran was sailing downwind and it is presumed that therefore the hull pitchpoled on capsize but this is not confirmed.

What we do know is that Franck Proffit was at the helm and was thrown violently forward, and has possibly broken his ribs. A helicopter has been sent from the Canaries to the zone to pick up Franck Proffit from the boat in order to give him immediate medical assistance.

Franck Cammas is staying on board in order to commence a salvage operation for the boat with his shore team. Groupama-2 had been pushing hard all day after their 5 hour pit-stop in Santo Porto at Madeira between 0400 – 0900 hrs local time this morning to repair their steering and rudder systems, and had been clocking average boat speeds over 25+ knots.

That brings to 5 (of 10) abandonments in the 60-foot trimarans of the ORMA class. Also retiring have been two of the Open 50 trimarans, and one of the Open 50 monohulls. So far the boats of the remaining class (Open 60 monohulls) have not suffered any retirements.

More info on the ongoing racing is available from the Transat Jacques Vabre official site. You can also check out cool realtime position maps of the survivors at the French-language site

Southern California Shorthanded Sailing Association Champ: Dan Rossen

Posted by John Callender on November 12th, 2005 at 12:19 am

actually, I don\'t know who this is of

SoCal boat broker Len Bose has been working to put together a local shorthanded sailing association, and he’s just announced the winner of the 2005 competition: Dan Rossen.

2005 SCSSA Champion is Dan Rossen.

Dan sailed to 2nd place Ensenada = 4 Points
3rd MDR to San Diego 3
1st Argosy 5
Two Around Catalina

Tim Coker on “MASQERADE”, Kerry Dever on “KAHOOTS”, Len Bose on “ONLY CHILD” and Bruce Anderson on “Chicken Little” were all very close to winning the SCSSA title.

This being the first season of the SCSSA we are going through the concept stages or “growing pains.” Should you wish to drop me a note and tell me you results please do.

Some additional information is in this Sailing Anarchy thread.

As near as I can tell, Bose put this together after the fact, figuring out in retrospect who had “won” based on races that had already taken place earlier in the year. In any event, it’s a neat idea, and I hope he can generate sufficient interest to keep it going.

Thanks to my brother-in-law Justin McJones for sending along the link.

Times of London on Volvo Safety Fears

Posted by John Callender on November 11th, 2005 at 6:23 am

VOR in port race no. 1 start

I was interested by this article from last week’s Times of London about the potential for mayhem in the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race: Global race starts under a cloud of safety fears.

The new Volvo Open 70s could hardly be more of a contrast to Volvo’s safetyconscious designs for the family car market. The boats are only 10ft longer than the old Volvo 60s, which were used in the last race four years ago, but they are much more powerful and much more dangerous.

Capable of exhilarating performance, with a top speed of up to 40 knots, the super-light Volvo 70s demand total concentration from their ten-man crews, with manoeuvres in rough seas having to be precisely choreographed if spectacular wipe-outs are to be avoided.

The new boats are more complex than the 60s and include hydraulically controlled keels that swing through an arc of 40 degrees either side of the centre line, giving the yachts extra lateral stability, plus daggerboards either side of the mast to prevent the boats slipping sideways.

Conceptually, it makes all kinds of sense. In flat water, under ideal conditions, I’m sure it makes for intense sailing excitement. But in the Southern Ocean, I just don’t know.

Neal McDonald, of Britain, who skippers Ericsson, admitted to a certain nervousness and fear of the unknown. “These are tricky boats — they are fast and powerful,” he said. “The hardest thing will be to know when to back off. When do we say, ‘Let’s put the no heroes flag up and knuckle down for the night and make sure we see tomorrow in good shape.'”

Paul Cayard, the Californian skipper of The Black Pearl, a boat sponsored by Disney in a unique marketing campaign to promote a sequel to the feature film Pirates of the Caribbean, is concerned about the swing keels, which have had a mixed reliability record in other classes. “The technology is a little more on the edge,” he said.

I continue to think that the relatively conservative (emphasis on the “relatively”) boats of the ABN Amro campaign may end up doing significantly better than their poor showing in the opening race last Saturday would seem to indicate.

I was also interested by the quotes coming from ABN Amro One skipper Mike Sanderson, as quoted in this post-race writeup from the official site: Worry no more.

Mike Sanderson put a brave face on a woeful performance by the best-funded boat in the fleet. In the preceding days he had made it clear that we shouldn’t expect a sparkling performance in light airs. ABN AMRO One is a fat-bottomed girl who likes a good breeze to allow her to strut her stuff. She doesn’t like it light and fluffy. “I can walk down the dock and I can show you the narrowest boat and I can show you the widest one,” said Moose. “It wasn’t the biggest surprise. We always knew that a six-knot In Port race — where we got the start wrong — would be our biggest nightmare. I think I’ve said that publicly before. You know that when you put your boat at one side of a fleet, you’re going to come first sometimes and other times you’re going to come last. We’re still adamant we’ve the right boat for the race. I don’t think we’ll be having this conversation in Cape Town.”

Time will tell on that one, obviously.

Photo: That’s In Port race one winner Ericsson taking the pin end at the start, on her way to stretching out to a big lead on the left side of the first beat. Photo by Rick Tomlinson.

The Dismasting of the Pride of Baltimore II

Posted by John Callender on November 8th, 2005 at 9:04 pm

Pride of Baltimore II before

The Pride of Baltimore II, a reproduction of an 1812-era tall ship, was dismasted on September 5 while competing in a race from England to Spain. The Captain’s log on the ship’s official site describes the event this way:

While sailing in a localized squall, the bowsprit cracked and broke at about half its length. Since there are wire rope stays from the bowsprit that secure the foremast, after five minutes in the rough seas the foremast cracked off three feet above the deck The wire rope stays that secure the foremast are also fixed to the mainmast, so it too broke off under the strain of the sea swells about 25 feet above the deck.

Thankfully, no one was injured in the dismasting. Writing on the web site she shares with photographer T.C. “Bhodi” Sheridan, Erin Doak gave the following description of what happened: Tragedy on the Pride.

On Monday at 3:45 pm, the second of two similiar squalls hit Pride II. The first had heavy rains and wind up to 45 knots that made the boat heel till the water was up to the tops of the bulwarks. We quickly struck the jib topsail, but before the sail was completely down, the squall was over. In mild conditions, we reset the sail and continued on. 10 minutes later, the second squall hit and the boat heeled again. I was standing on the starboard side of the quarter deck when I heard a loud crunch of wood and saw the bowsprit, jibboom, and all its sails go tearing off to port. I have never seen the crew rush onto deck so quickly and we all looked to the captain for orders. He called for the striking of the main and we rushed to comply, but it had just barely hit the deck before we heard the noise that sailors never wish to hear, the slow, loud crunching of a wooden mast. Looking forward and up, the foremast twisted to port and fell. Bhodi and I, along with most of the crew were still on the starboard side, and we pushed back against the rail and aft, watching as it fell along the port side of the ship. It collided with the main and the mast broke 30 feet off the deck, and came down with a crash little more than 6 feet from us.

Pride of Baltimore II after

There are lots of great photos on Bhodi and Erin’s Our Pride Adventures weblog, and information about the ongoing repairs to the ship, which is currently docked in Saint Nazaire, France.

Anyone who’s been dismasted remembers the experience vividly. I was aboard my father’s Columbia 52 Victoria when we were dismasted during the 1978 Santa Barbara Island Race. We were approaching the island on the evening of April 1, beating into a 25-knot wind just after dark, when a fitting at the base of the starboard shrouds failed. I was below at the chart table when it happened, and what I heard was not a slow crunch, but a tremendous bang, as Victoria’s aluminum mast snapped about nine feet off the deck. The bang was accompanied by a lurch that threw me onto the cabin sole, and I jumped up and ran up the companionway steps just in time to see the mast and sails settling into the water on the boat’s port side.

There’s a real sense of shock to losing a mast; a sudden, abrupt transition to a new reality. I’ve often thought that a sailor’s education is largely a matter of learning to cope with forces beyond human control, and a dismasting represents an extreme example of that. It’s the sort of lesson that no one would choose to experience willingly, but that certainly sticks with you afterward.

Dismasting-aftermath photo by T.C. “Bhodi” Sheridan, courtesy of

Ericcson Wins Volvo ‘In Port’ Race One

Posted by John Callender on November 5th, 2005 at 12:46 pm

Ericsson wins race 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race

With John Kostecki calling tactics, Ericsson won today’s opening “in port” race of the Volvo Ocean Race in Galicia, Spain. Winds were light for the two-hour buoy race, which Ericsson apparently won with a combination of a good start, light-air speed and the decision to go left on the first beat. Ericsson had a four-minute lead at the first weather mark and was never seriously challenged after that. Here’s the write-up from the official site: Blow by blow. And here’s the report from Team Ericsson’s site: Flying start in Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006.

Final results:

  1. Ericsson 01:51:29
  2. Brasil 1 01:54:55
  3. The Black Pearl 01:56:30
  4. Movistar 01:57:13
  5. ABN AMRO TWO 02:00:07
  6. ABN AMRO ONE 02:04:11
  7. Premier Challenge DNS

Reportedly the two ABN AMRO boats have been optimized for heavy winds, and they suffered badly in the light going. It’s an interesting question of whether that will pay off for them in the long run; as a Southern California racer I know that many overnight races are won or lost at night, when our local winds tend to be light. A boat that’s fast in light air can sometimes go two or even three times faster than a slower boat, building a huge lead in a very small amount of racecourse.

On the other hand, Southern California races don’t tend to feature 60-knot winds and 80-foot waves. A light-wind flyer might begin to look like a much riskier proposition in the high southern latitudes, where a boat built for rougher conditions could be pushed harder.

Time will tell, I guess.

Update: Tactician John Kostecki describes how the race looked from his point of view aboard Ericsson in this article from Yachting World: Kostecki on VOR win.

Wakeboarding Behind a Volvo 70

Posted by John Callender on November 4th, 2005 at 10:20 pm

wakeboarding behind a Volvo Open 70

In a few hours the Volvo Ocean Race will be starting in Galicia, Spain. (Well, technically, they’ll be sailing the first of the “In Port Races” that have been added to the event this time around. The first long-distance leg — from Vigo, Spain to Capetown, South Africa — starts a week from tomorrow.) In any event, in honor of the occasion, here’s a link to some humorous (well, to me) video footage of British wakeboarder Dan Nott wakeboarding behind one of the two boats being fielded by the Dutch ABN Amro team: Volvo 70 wakeboarding.

I can imagine taking a Volvo Open 70 out on the water. I think that would be really fun and exciting, if somewhat scary. I cannot even begin to imagine trying to race one through the Southern Ocean. Hat’s off to the people nutty enough to try it. Good luck, and I hope to see you all safe and sound at the finish about eight months from now.

(Footage from Scuttlebutt. Photo by Chris Ison.)

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