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Once More, the New Normal

Sail Feed - 3 hours 49 min ago

All around top competitors Billy Besson and Matthieu Vandame join forces with Flying Phantom catamarans and show off the product.

Helmets, too are the new norm.

Fast foiling ride for Billy Besson and Matthieu Vandame from Jeremie Eloy/ Wanaii Films on Vimeo.

America’s Cup, Whither Away?

Sail Feed - 4 hours 22 min ago

By Kimball Livingston Posted November 24, 2014

Apparently, it’s easy to cast stones at the Golden Gate Yacht Club, sixth trustee of America’s Cup, as we confront the prospect of a 35th defense to be sailed (apparently) outside US waters.

What? Not in the Alcatraz Channel, the spectators’ grand arena? With the big winds, the mountains and the backgrounds that the cameras just love? Right under the windows of GGYC? What are they thinking?

I’m pretty sure they’re thinking

Dammit.

Remember, GGYC back in the day had finance problems and —

GGYC in its moment of distress glommed onto the only lifeline in the water.

Now GGYC is in the boat.

Perhaps you remember, Life of Pi?

Rolling back a few years (eons?) I beat the drum hard for my home town, for AC-N-SF, and there’s no point pretending now that I’m anything but disappointed at the turn of events since September 25, 2013. I haven’t felt this jilted since that night in high school . . .

Anyhow, I have a mind that can entertain more than one notion at a time. There is the traditionalist in me that values the standards passed from the New York Yacht Club to the Royal Perth Yacht Club and then to San Diego Yacht Club, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and

[BOINK]

La Société Nautique de Genève wasn’t going to defend on a lake in Switzerland. So SNG went venue shopping and wound up in the south of Spain, in Valencia, and that was a process that had begun, if you follow the thread, with the Russell Coutts decision to leave New Zealand’s national team and go to work for a billionaire from Switzerland. Kiwis took that as a national betrayal. Coutts took it as an opportunity to move the ball for himself — and to shove the Cup toward a more professionalized state of play.

I’m pretty sure that SNG never told Ernesto Bertarelli how to build a team or where to defend the Cup or much of anything else.

Meanwhile, I belonged to a YC that was one of a handful that had been approached by Larry Ellison when he was looking for a burgee for his team to fly. And I for one was perfectly (almost) content that Ellison had instead settled on the club down the street. I’m an America’s Cup enthusiast, not an America’s Cup romantic, and I’ve seen the damage the Cup can do. Of course I’d love to see my club’s name etched into the great trophy of the sport, but I had a theory then that we’d be better off without it, doing the things that we do well. Looking back over the last fourteen years, I’d argue that the evidence backs the theory.

‘Tis a tangled web, and I have often asserted that the America’s Cup has outgrown itself, and outgrown the yacht club structure grandly embodied in the Deed of Gift.

Any organized Yacht Club of a foreign country, incorporated, patented, or licensed by the legislature, admiralty, or other executive department, having for its annual regatta an ocean water course on the sea, or on an arm of the sea, or one which combines both, shall always be entitled to the right of sailing a match of this Cup, with a yacht or vessel propelled by sails only and constructed in the country to which the Challenging Club belongs, against any one yacht or vessel constructed in the country of the Club holding the Cup.

Not for the first time, I observe that this, the signature event of our sport, often serves us badly. The tensions between the 19th century notion of a gentleman’s yachting contest and the 21st century realities of pro sports and spectacle are now tilted heavily toward spectacle, and except for perhaps a decade here or there over the span, there has never been anything like stability. No yacht club can, within itself, manage what Cup competition has become, but how can an independent body swim with the Deed of Gift around its ankle like a ball and chain? And resorting to the courts is the worst, but it has sometimes been necessary and —

It’s worth noting that the now-revered, then newly-knighted Sir Thomas Lipton, when he arrived in New York in 1899 for his first of five challenges, thoroughly irked the local power set when they discovered that he was there with a scheme to use the races to promote Lipton’s Tea.

A scheme that, we might observe, worked rather well. Lipton is remembered as the father of the modern PR campaign. You may have heard of Lipton’s Tea, and the San Diego Yacht Club recently hosted the celebratory Centennial Edition of Southern California’s Lipton Cup, one of those Holy Grail regattas that define regional competition.

Time moves on. Opinion moves on. In 1930, three decades after Lipton’s first challenge, as NYYC Commodore Mike Vanderbilt was girding himself to dispatch Shamrock V and Lipton’s final challenge, he expressed a great sadness on Lipton’s behalf. Vanderbilt felt the weight of it, and he wasn’t going to not defend the Cup, but he felt no jubilation in the moment. The meddling tradesman had become the grand old man.

Predicting the future of America’s Cup is not a safe enterprise. Never has been. But if, indeed, the match moves offshore on a commercial basis, this is not a sudden turn. It’s one more apron string severed. Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts have been telling us for years that their goal is to make Cup racing a commercially-viable professional sport with a revenue stream based in television.

Depending upon the individual, that concept is anathema, necessary and practical, or merely a dream.

Our boys took huge chances with the San Francisco America’s Cup and almost lost the farm. Toward the end of a Challenger Eliminations series that reached its nadir with the loss of Andrew Simpson, naval architect Bruce Nelson summed up Cup Summer, “Epic fail.”

Which made The Comeback all the more epic, while missing certain marks.

By a hair, Ellison and Coutts get more runway for their experiment.

It’s not outlandish to guess that AC35 is Rusell’s last dance. If, in Bermuda, he can best enrich his already well-lined pockets while securing a workable new future for the Cup, his personal legacy is secure. Since 1995 we have been living in the Russell Coutts era of America’s Cup. We just didn’t know it for a while.

If the experiment comes a’cropper, history will remember that, too.

* * *

True to Tom Blackaller’s prediction, when we got the America’s Cup to San Francisco Bay, we showed the world how good sailing can be.

Now, what a let down.

Could we even begin to get this across without a little help from Loony Tunes? Thank you, Mel Blanc. It’s a Daffy old world out there.

[Lead image cropped, with apologies, from a shot by Gilles Martin-Raget}

At the Fishing Competition

Sail Feed - Sun, 2014-11-23 19:57

When I was eleven years old, a friend invited me up to her cottage one summer weekend. We had a great time – swimming in the lake, riding around in her dad´s motorboat, running around in the sunshine. And fishing. I´d never been fishing before, but I understood the basics: add worm to hook, drop in water, wait for bite then reel in. Pretty easy.

So my friend and I took our bait and our rods and plonked ourselves down at the end of the dock. The wooden boards were pleasantly warm beneath us. We dangled our feet over the edge, wormed up and threw in our lines.

It didn´t take long to get a nibble. Proud of my great accomplishment, I reeled in my line. There was a sunfish on the end of my hook. I grabbed the fishing glove – a studded green plastic thing that let me hold the fish without getting sliced on its spines. Out came the hook, and I threw my sunfish back in the water.

My friend and I kept fishing. She caught one, and back it went. I got another nibble. I reeled in another sunfish. I peered at it closely.
“I think this is the same fish,” I said. “Yes, look, you can see where the hook went through last time.” I threw my fish back in. Stupid fish. You would think getting a hook through the face twice in a row would take some of the fun away from eating a delicious worm.

But, no. The sunfish bit my hook again. And again. By now, the hook had emerged out the eye socket, and my poor sunfish was looking pretty grim. I threw him back, put down my rod, and retired from fishing forevermore. Unless I was going to eat the darn thing, I didn´t want to have anything to do with catching fish.

Twenty-five years later, fishing re-entered my life. The sport became fun again, because we on Papillon are strictly trollers – we throw out a line when we are a) sailing, and b) hungry. If we catch something, great. If not, it took no effort on our part.

But this weekend took me back to my first attempts on Rice Lake. It was Fishing Competition time on the island.

Normally, we would say a polite ´no, thank you´ to this sort of activity. Catching animals for fun just doesn´t fill me with the competitive spirit. But events intervened. A friend of ours has a new boat, and asked Erik to go along with him on Saturday. Fine. That makes for a fun day. And the competition organizers made the strategic decision to display all of the prizes behind the sign-up table on Friday night.

Indy beetled over to the racks of fishing rods and bait boxes. “Woooooooow,” she breathed, and I knew I was in trouble. “Oh, Mom, look!” She was caressing a tackle box that boasted 250 fishing-related widgets within. She gave me a determined look. “I want to win that tackle box. Let´s sign up for the kids´competiton. Please?”
I´m sure I made a face, because one of my friends leaned over and whispered, “It´s two hours on Saturday morning. The bus picks us up, they serve pancakes and ice cream, and you´ll be home by 10:30.”

Sold.

Stylish, however, was not so keen. “I do not want to get up early on a Saturday to go fishing,” she said. Her image flickered briefly as I saw the teenager she was to become. “No. I´m not going.”
“Yep. You´re going,” I said. I tried out the pancakes-and-ice-cream line that had worked so well on me. Stylish was unmoved. Lucky for me, she is still only ten and I can boss her around. She went.

We arrived at the pier at 8am. The sun was already punishing. We haven´t had a breath of wind this week, and the temperature regularly feels like it is in the low 40s C / 105-110 F. Indy was undeterred – she wanted that tackle box. Stylish remained annoyed with me, but was willing to give it a go, provided I stayed at least fifty feet away at all times. The price you pay.

Erik and the other grown-up competitors decided to stick around to watch/help/take over for the kids, which was fun. Indy immediately designated Dad as her underling.
“Come on, Dad, get that chicken on there and let´s get going!”

And she fished.

And she fished.

 And she fished.

The trouble was, Indy couldn´t stay still for a moment. She moved her line, she bobbed the rod, she walked back and forth on the pier. Any fish trying to eat her bait would have gotten too tired trying to catch her and given up. So poor Indy struck out.

Stylish was much more patient – not that it helped. I documented her efforts from my mandatory distance.

Late in the competition, Stylish was feeling friendlier towards me again, and I was invited to approach. She had abandoned fishing as a bad job, and was now using her hook to feed her bait to the shy crabs that lined the pier.
The crabs loved the chicken, and Stylish was far more entertained by them than by the elusive fish.

A few kids got lucky over the course of the morning. One four-year-old reeled in a stonefish. Thankfully she didn´t get stung – stonefish are nasty creatures. We always wear watershoes to avoid them.
Don´t step on me or you will be very sorry.

A pancake, an ice cream and many bottles of water later, we sent the adult competitors off to do their thing. The girls were a little glum that they hadn´t caught anything, but I was just as happy I hadn´t had to removed hooks from any fishy eyeballs.

Erik came home at dusk, covered in fish blood. There is a fillet at our friends´ house with our name on it. They didn´t win the competition, but it was a good day on the water. Indy gave her tackle box a last, loving pat at the awards dinner in the park yesterday, and now we have a piece of fish to enjoy one night this week. Sounds good enough to me.

San Francisco’s America’s Cup, the Legacy

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-11-21 16:06

By Kimball Livingston Posted November 21, 2014

There are forces afoot that, if the rumors (AC in Bermuda, 2017) are correct

And even if they’re wrong

Take to a new level

The old phrase, flag of convenience.

Not to name names.

And that picture doesn’t quite get it. Must keep searching.

And —

The triumph that the San Francisco America’s Cup competition became in its final few days never fully made up for years of high promises made along the cityfront, especially, but also to citizens’ groups citywide keen to pitch in, keen to build partnerships, keen to do the hard work to create the touted legacies sure to grow out of the the world’s greatest sailing event in the world’s greatest sailing venue.

In the aftermath, even as San Francisco rode high on memories of the incredible comeback of US-17, there was a muted, widespread deflation at the gap between the legacy programs the America’s Cup Event Authority offered to the community, and the near nothing that it delivered.

Muted because, briefly, there was the expectation that, next time, we’ll get it right.

In 2014, the lucky locals are those few who can make use of the various chunks of carbon being chucked out of Pier 80.

And —

(Somebody has to say it)

I finally found it. The legacy summed up in a single image.

Chopped liver.

* * * * * * * *

Now, have we finally turned that oft-discussed corner and stepped down the road toward having a Commissioner of America’s Cup Yachting, or an equivalent by a different name? The signature event of the sport continues to be its untamed problem child and I wonder, when was the last time that Russell Coutts, CEO of Oracle Racing, sat down with the full Board of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, sixth trustee of America’s Cup?

On December 2nd in NYC the America’s Cup Event Authority announces the venue selection for the 35th America’s Cup.

11:30 am – 2:00pm
The Crosby Hotel and Screening Room
79 Crosby St, Manhattan, NY 10012

By invitation only.

Strangers at Sea

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-11-21 14:40

Video Feature: Two Men Cross the Atlantic, Sailing Together for the First Time

by Chris Museler

Chris Museler’s excellent documentary on the double-handed New York-Barcelona Race came out today on the New York Times. “You’re the first to get the link,” says Chris. What follows is the complete documentary that Chris filmed and helped produced. It was the first time someone had documented a double-handed race as such. Hear Chris talk about the experience on the podcast by clicking here. Thanks to the NY Times for letting us run this. Click here for the original piece.

Ryan Breymaier is hardly known outside the national sailing community. In the port cities Barcelona and Les Sables-d’Olonne, France, he is recognized as a skipper of some of the most challenging racing sailboats in the world.

Breymaier’s training and ambitions are aimed at the Vendée Globe, a solo, nonstop, round-the-world race held every four years. He is the first American in a generation to be considered a threat to the French stranglehold on that race and on the Barcelona World Race, the nonstop double-handed race on the same track.

Pepe Ribes of Spain, a decorated America’s Cup and ocean-racing sailor, shares Breymaier’s ambitions.

In June, Breymaier and Ribes took major steps toward fulfilling their solo sailing hopes by winning the International Monohull Open Class Association Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race.

An unlikely match, the two were thrown together on a boat that was purchased only months before. On the delivery to New York from Europe, the mast broke; the two sailors wound up waiting until the start of the race to work together as a double-handed team.

They proceeded to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a 60-foot monohull, one of five boats in the competition.

“We wound up racing hundreds of 15-minute races all the way across, with each one putting more pressure on us,” Ribes said.

Conditions in the New York to Barcelona Race included drifting, 40-knot winds and breaking waves. Only three of the five starters finished the race.

The Ocean Masters founder, Sir Keith Mills, authorized a reporter to chronicle the race from aboard the boats. Only three of the five participating boats agreed to offer a spot.

Podcast: Across the North Sea, Pt. 3

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-11-21 00:03

This is Part 3 of Andy & Mia’s last big offshore passage on Arcturus from 2012, when they sailed direct to Sweden from Scotland. If you missed Parts 1 & 2, it was last  the last two Friday episodes, so you’ll want to hear these in order.

Thanks to the Blaggards for the music! Check them out at blaggards.com.

Want to come ocean sailing with Andy? New passages for 2015 announced on a Shnnon 43 ketch, a Swan 57 and a trip to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on Sojourner! Visit 59-north.com/events for details and to register.

2014 SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Goodness Gracious Great Mats of Weed!

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-11-20 22:12

As I had expected, we encountered mostly headwinds after we finally left Bermuda bound for St. Maarten on the morning of Saturday, November 8. Even worse, early on in the passage, when our headwinds were most vigorous, we spent about a day and a half pounding our brains out sailing continuously in the wrong direction. The photo up top says it all. When voyaging south, you do NOT want to see your bow pointed at the sunrise with deep reefs in your mainsail. This never smells like progress and is very bad for crew morale. At first, as skipper, I felt rather virtuous, getting all my easting in early in the game, regardless of the pain, but then later I got nervous. I started wondering: what if we NEVER get a chance to turn south?

By the time our chance finally did come, on Monday afternoon, when a weak squall line at last decelerated the wind and bent it a little in our favor, we had sailed east about 185 miles since leaving Bermuda and were actually 90 miles east of the longitude of St. Maarten, our putative destination. And, of course, all that squall line really did was allow us to motorsail toward the south, but we were by then so tired of getting beat up going in the wrong direction that this seemed like a great blessing.

Alas, it was a blessing that wore thin, as we had to do a great deal of motoring to get anywhere. Thankfully, we did have two streaks of good luck, on Tuesday and Wednesday, when the wind veered and strengthened enough that we were able to sail without the engine for several hours heading more or less toward our goal at a good rate of speed. Otherwise we had the engine running most of the time until we were below 22 degrees north latitude, where we at last picked up the trades, which were weak and blowing mostly from the southeast. In all we spent almost 80 hours with the engine running on this leg of the trip, which is the most time I’ve ever spent motoring on any passage I’ve made aboard Lunacy.

Sailing south at last, with some help from the screecher, seen here flying in tandem with the staysail

But we knew the wind was going to be uncooperative when we left Bermuda. So we couldn’t really complain too much about that. What we hadn’t counted on were the great nasty clumps of Sargasso weed that we encountered. Bits of the stuff started showing up here and there early on, and as we got further and further south the islands of weed just kept getting bigger and bigger.

We have seen the enemy, and it looks like this

Finally, on Saturday, our last full day offshore, the mats were so big they were choking the rudder. On three occasions, once that afternoon and twice during the night, there was so much weed caught on the rudder skeg our speed was almost cut in half and we couldn’t really steer properly. To put things right again we had to roll up the headsail and stop the boat each time so the weed could fall off.

It really did seem that the ocean did not want Lunacy to go south this year. But we did get there in the end and arrived early Sunday morning, almost eight days after leaving Bermuda.

Eggs! We must have eggs! Peter “Egg Man” Nielsen insisted on bringing a large supply

See? I told you Luke could eat 50!

Phil “No Targets” Cavanaugh finally spots one dead ahead

Sunset clouds to the east

Sunset clouds to the west (same sunset)

Thursday was laundry day. The reason Phil looks clean is because we humans bathed too, and reveled in fresh-water washdowns up forward on the bow. This was probably the most pleasurable part of the whole trip

At last on Saturday, our last day out, we were able to crack off the sheets a bit

Lunacy‘s home base this winter is at Captain Oliver’s Marina, in Oyster Pond, which is on both the Dutch and French sides of the island. She was last here six winters ago and is very happy to be back.

And it seems the iguanas are happy to have her back.

Inspect your sails: identifying UV damaged cloth

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-11-20 19:35


A dependable suit of sails to carry you towards the horizon is the basic tool of every cruiser. I’m sharing more of Jamie’s expertise as a sailmaker on the blog: most recently, about how to check the stitching in sails for UV damage.  This time- he’s going to tell you how to evaluate the cloth.

Jamie often checks sails on the boats we’re with. The cruising boats we meet in Southeast Asia have often done hard miles, but you don’t have to cross an ocean to have sailcloth damaged by UV exposure. He’d like to empower sailors with the right information to check their own to avoid an unpleasant days on the water, or worse.

Sailmaker says

Testing sailcloth for UV damage is not as obvious as the thread test, but should give you a good idea of condition before running off to a sail loft.

Kite’s main looks great at a distance, but inspection showed a few problems: UV and hinge points were factors.

Torn cloth

Sails tear for a variety of reasons, and any tear is a perfect opportunity to test for UV damage. Simply, tear at the existing damage (just a little!). Easily torn cloth is likely rotten. If it tears, but not so easily, then it may have some damage. Of course, 5 ounce cloth is delicate compared to 9 ounce cloth, so account for the relative strength of each cloth weight. If there is no convenient rip to tear into, then checking for UV damage is more of a look and feel inspection.

Light testing

Stretch the sail out, ideally on a sunny day. Lift the sail to walk/crouch underneath it and look to the sky, through the cloth. Light coming through sailcloth will show differently where the cloth is thinned from UV damage, wear, and fatigue. With use, plastics used in sailcloth to bind the weave and add bias stability break down. Hard creases will be obvious (more light shining through), indicating weakened cloth, though that doesn’t necessarily mean a problem. Look and feel if cloth is thinned, has pinholes of light shining through, has a softer hand than surrounding cloth, or has a rougher texture. These symptoms suggest more damage and a lower threshold for tearing.

Assessing the extent

If weakened cloth is found, you can assess how it may impact the sail, especially if there is no sailmaker near. Sails loads tend to parallel the edges, with the highest load along the leech. Weakened cloth oriented across the load (perpendicular to the leech, luff, or foot) is more likely to fail. Weakened cloth that parallels edges can also fail (due in part to the warp vs. fill yarn counts in the cloth), but are easier to repair, if only temporarily with sticky back Dacron. Natural hinge points, such as the edge of a reinforcing patch where multiple layers of cloth becomes one layer, are also susceptible to cloth damage. Mainsail flaking systems that force sails to crease along the same fold, like Dutchman systems, will weaken at those hing points over time. All chafe, wear, and fatigue damage is exacerbated by UV exposure.

Cover those sails!

Faded Sunbrella shows it has done an excellent job of providing sacrificial protection: the cloth on this sail is in fine shape.

Keeping sails covered when not in use is the best way for them to last a long time. A little inspection once a year can prevent sail damage or lead you to seek out a replacement sail before wasting good money on a tarp. Not surprisingly, professional opinions of a sail’s condition can vary. Armed with your own sail inspection know-how, perhaps some rockstar sailmaker won’t be so pressed to talk you into a new white suit.

~ ~ ~

Hopefully our Sailmaker Says series is helpful. If you’ve got questions, please reach out! He’s always happy to help. And of course, if that sail is beyond salvaging, Jamie is an active sailmaker and would love to provide a quote for a new sail! And whether you are interested in a new sail from him or not, he’s happy to just answer questions to try and combat the reams of misinformation he sees online about sails.

Savvy sailors know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

No UV damage here! Just a gratuitous picture of Totem’s pretty asymmetric.

Moving in THAT Direction

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-11-20 18:04

By KL Posted November 20, 2014

I reckon the first time that it really hit my radar screen to have a Western sailing team tied to an Asian or Middle Eastern flag was Valencia 2007. What had been a French effort that ran out of dough morphed into China Team with the avowed intent of developing, eventually, an all-Chinese crew for America’s Cup.

Didn’t happen.

Didn’t happen going into AC34 with the 45-foot cats, not for China, and not for Korea.

The Sultanate of Oham, meanwhile, is taking a different tack, building a small boat racing and sailing program, including girls and women, plus an offshore program ranging from take-a-ride to serious ocean competition.

Musandam-Oman was raced solo in the Route du Rhum by French skipper Sidney Gavignet, but the word now is—

Britain’s well-known offshore sailor Brian Thompson returns to the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship MOD70 trimaran Musandam-Oman Sail to take over from French skipper Sidney Gavignet for the return leg of the Route du Rhum, a trans-Atlantic delivery from Guadeloupe to Lorient in France. For the first time in the history of Oman Sail, the national initiative that began in 2008 with a mission to create a generation of sailors, the extreme 70ft multihull will be crewed by a majority Omani crew.

This is a landmark for the organisation and a second major achievement this year that saw the team set a new World Record against all the odds in the summer when it raced the 70ft trimaran around Britain and Ireland with a 50% Omani team shaving 16 minutes and 38 seconds off the record set by a boat almost twice its size.

Sidney Gavignet hands over the helm to Brian after an epic single-handed Route du Rhum sprint across the Atlantic from St Malo, France, to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean in 8 days, 19 hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds earlier this month. The French skipper remained on the island to spend time sailing with and preparing his majority Omani crew ahead of the landmark Atlantic delivery scheduled for Saturday.

“This delivery is a solid first step towards the 2015 season for Oman Sail,” said skipper Sidney Gavignet. “We are focussed on preparing for the future with the team and every opportunity to sail offshore is good for my Omani teammates. Our goal is to do this crossing in the best possible conditions for learning and to kick off the 2015 season on a good footing. I am really happy for my Omani crewmates who are 200% committed to this experience.”

This is a landmark for the organisation and a second major achievement this year that saw the team set a new World Record against all the odds in the summer when it raced the 70ft trimaran around Britain and Ireland with a 50% Omani team shaving 16 minutes and 38 seconds off the record set by a boat almost twice its size.

Sidney Gavignet hands over the helm to Brian after an epic single-handed Route du Rhum sprint across the Atlantic from St Malo, France, to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean in 8 days, 19 hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds earlier this month. The French skipper remained on the island to spend time sailing with and preparing his majority Omani crew ahead of the landmark Atlantic delivery scheduled for Saturday.

“This delivery is a solid first step towards the 2015 season for Oman Sail,” said skipper Sidney Gavignet. “We are focussed on preparing for the future with the team and every opportunity to sail offshore is good for my Omani teammates. Our goal is to do this crossing in the best possible conditions for learning and to kick off the 2015 season on a good footing. I am really happy for my Omani crewmates who are 200% committed to this experience.”

Fahad Al Hasni is a MOD70 regular since 2012 and an integral member of the offshore racing team – he will be joined by three fellow Omani sailors, Yassir Al Rahbi, Abdulrahman Al Mashari and Ali Al Balushi who are new to the 70ft trimaran this year, but who come from the offshore squad and dinghy racing team. They will also have French offshore regular Giles Favennec onboard.

“This will be the first time that we will be a majority Omani crew onboard the MOD70 and Yassir, Abdulrahman, Ali and I are really excited to have this opportunity. We look forward to sailing with Brian Thompson again; he has a lot of depth and experience and is very good at sharing his knowledge.

“The 2014 MOD season has been absolutely huge, first we beat the Kiel Welcome Race Record then set a new World Record for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race in August with a 50% Omani crew for the first time, and finally finished the year with Sidney Gavignet’s epic single-handed Route du Rhum race across the Atlantic – it has been an excellent learning curve for all of us and an inspiration for us to go even further in our careers and for the younger Omani sailors back in Oman to see what is possible and work hard towards it.”

This is a landmark for the organisation and a second major achievement this year that saw the team set a new World Record against all the odds in the summer when it raced the 70ft trimaran around Britain and Ireland with a 50% Omani team shaving 16 minutes and 38 seconds off the record set by a boat almost twice its size.

Sidney Gavignet hands over the helm to Brian after an epic single-handed Route du Rhum sprint across the Atlantic from St Malo, France, to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean in 8 days, 19 hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds earlier this month. The French skipper remained on the island to spend time sailing with and preparing his majority Omani crew ahead of the landmark Atlantic delivery scheduled for Saturday.

“This delivery is a solid first step towards the 2015 season for Oman Sail,” said skipper Sidney Gavignet. “We are focussed on preparing for the future with the team and every opportunity to sail offshore is good for my Omani teammates. Our goal is to do this crossing in the best possible conditions for learning and to kick off the 2015 season on a good footing. I am really happy for my Omani crewmates who are 200% committed to this experience.”

Fahad Al Hasni is a MOD70 regular since 2012 and an integral member of the offshore racing team – he will be joined by three fellow Omani sailors, Yassir Al Rahbi, Abdulrahman Al Mashari and Ali Al Balushi who are new to the 70ft trimaran this year, but who come from the offshore squad and dinghy racing team. They will also have French offshore regular Giles Favennec onboard.

“This will be the first time that we will be a majority Omani crew onboard the MOD70 and Yassir, Abdulrahman, Ali and I are really excited to have this opportunity. We look forward to sailing with Brian Thompson again; he has a lot of depth and experience and is very good at sharing his knowledge.

“The 2014 MOD season has been absolutely huge, first we beat the Kiel Welcome Race Record then set a new World Record for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race in August with a 50% Omani crew for the first time, and finally finished the year with Sidney Gavignet’s epic single-handed Route du Rhum race across the Atlantic – it has been an excellent learning curve for all of us and an inspiration for us to go even further in our careers and for the younger Omani sailors back in Oman to see what is possible and work hard towards it.”

rian Thompson made it into the history books by becoming the first Briton to break the Round the World sailing record twice. Also the first to sail non stop around the world four times. A vastly experienced and successful offshore racer on all types of high performance yachts – from 21ft Mini Transat racers to 140ft Maxi Trimarans, he raced the 2012 MOD70 season with Musandam-Oman Sail.

“I am very excited to be sailing the MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail back from its very successful Route du Rhum race skippered by Sidney Gavignet. I was following the race closely and was so impressed with the boat’s performance against its much bigger rivals.

“Next week we are going to be heading back from Guadeloupe in the Caribbean to our base in Lorient, France, and for the first time, the crew is going to be majority Omani – 4 out of the 6 total. I am honoured that Sidney and the team have given me the responsibility of skippering the boat back and expanding the experience of our young Omani sailors.

“To me having a majority Omani crew is a highly significant point and a sign of the great progress that Oman Sail has made in creating a pool of exceptionally talented sailors, who are able to transfer their skills to a wide variety of high performance craft. This bodes well for future Oman Sail campaigns.”

THE OLD WAY TOO

Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images

Oman is also a bridge between factions in the Middle East, as this account takes up:

NPR takes a look at Oman’s seafaring heritage as a crossroads trading nation

The Money Shot: Getting the Ultimate Cruising Boat Photo

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-11-20 12:29


For a racing boat the ultimate photo captures plumes of whitewater sheering off your bow. In your wake, just out of focus, a famous rival shakes his fists.

For a cruiser the ultimate photo captures your boat in some spectacular anchorage, or at least the photo evokes a sense of place. We all know getting there is half the fun, but the shot of your boat in the perfect destination proves you actually got somewhere. In addition, this photo should accomplish two goals:

1. Elicit immediate recognition and respect from fellow cruisers.
2. Make landlubbers think you’re a freakin’ daredevil.

Baie des Vierges (Bay of Virgins), on Fatu Hiva, must be one of the most photographed anchorages in cruising:


Photo courtesy of Brian on S/V Delos

Is there anyone who’s ever anchored there who didn’t at least try to get a good photo of their boat? If you can get one with your boat there alone, so much the better. The Bay of Virgins covers our two criteria: Any cruiser will either have fond memories of the place, or be dying to get there someday. After understanding that it takes sailing 3000 miles of open ocean to get there, any landlubber will be duly impressed.

It is arguably the most spectacular anchorage in the South Pacific, and it holds a once-in-a-lifetime shine because a cruiser is unlikely to return…until his next circumnavigation. It’s also usually the first landfall after the long haul. And there’s the story about how it was originally named Baie de Verges (Bay of Penises) because of the rock formations on both sides of the bay, but the missionaries renamed Baie de Vierges (Bay of Virgins) out of modesty. For a story that has been repeated in every travel book, cruising guide, and blog in the world, I wonder if it’s actually true? All of these make it a truly photo-worthy spot, but of course there are many others…

Some are iconic:

Sydney:

Rio:

Phang Nga Bay, Thailand:

Chatterbox Falls, in British Columbia, seems to be “that place” in the Pacific Northwest, and any cruiser who’s been there knows that to get the photo you must have transited the Malibu Rapids unharmed:

Photo courtesy of Windy and Mike Robertson from S/V Del Viento

For Harry and Jane on Cormorant, Whangamumu, New Zealand, was one of their more memorable anchorages during their 16? year circumnavigation:

Some photos don’t capture a destination, but a mood: the calm anchorage, happy children at play, the captain casually strumming a ukulele…c’mon!:

Photo courtesy of Kristianne Koch Riddle, S/V Pelican

And some photos take the beauty, mix it with a healthy dose of fear, and voila:

Photo courtesy of Jessica Rousseau

Or give us a sense of scale:

Telefon Bay, Deception Island, Antarctica

Then if you can get a photo like this of your boat, well, gee whiz, what more can you say?: Vlakvark, nee Tantalus, now Sweetwater in Antarctica:

Photo courtesy of Dudley Dix at Dudley Dix Yacht Design

My money shot? There’s only one choice. It’s on the bathroom wall, it’s on the business card:

The Cape Horn Windvane: Kamau Interviews Yves Gelinas at Annapolis

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-11-20 10:21

Kamau Kwabena interviews a sailing legend at the Annapolis Sailboat Show. Yves sailed non-stop (almost) and solo around the Great Capes in his Alberg 30 Jean-du-Sud, filming the iconic Around the World With Jean-du-Sud movie in the process, a classic sailing film. Hear Yves talk about his Cape Horn wind vane invention in this short interview. 

Also, catch Yves in long-form on the ’59 North Sailing Podcast’ by clicking here.

Nearing the end of the shipyard grind

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-11-19 06:11

We’re in the back half of our stay at Phithak Shipyard (PSS) near Satun, Thailand, and it’s pretty exciting to see work progressing on Totem.

As soon as we arrived, we went through our required projects and the wish list with the yard management. Based on their estimates and some help from home, we decided to go forward… with all of it. I might have had some happy tears at the prospect of these improvements to our Totem! So the plan changed from “a couple of weeks” to as long as our visas allow, keeping an eye on the costs, and getting as much done as possible within time/budget limits.

Progress Report

It’s going OK, even if only one project is completed so far- the stanchion bases (and wow, are they gorgeous!). The must-do list is tracking well. The refrigerator box is finished except for the lids, and reconfigured into a much more usable shape (wider base, shallower depth: I’ll be less likely to end up with three different jars of olives open because I’ve lost one in the bottom). When our fiberglass specialist, Sun, finishes the refrigerator box, he’ll wrap up the remaining few steps on the water tank. They’re both made from fabricated panels with a honeycomb patterned core: strong and lightweight. And with our launch date nearing, new bottom paint will go on shortly- and meanwhile, the hull is getting sanded and prepped.

how’s that for a sexy upgrade? it’s a better design, too

Always surprises!

We dropped the rudder for a full inspection, and it took DAYS to get it off! Unfortunately, it did not pass: there was clearly significant water intrusion. Fortunately, there was no corrosion to the stainless spine and frame. Fortunately, we’re able to get it rebuilt here. The rudder shaft was also bent, a quick job to fix thanks to the machine shop capabilities in the shipyard. What might have only taken days has been a project counted in weeks, but it’s an important safety measure. Check out the expressions on the guys as it finally, finally dropped in this this four second video!

 

Adding to the list

We’ve decided to tackle two other long-desired projects. When we bought Totem, almost eight years ago, I swore one of the first things we would do was replace the headliner. Guess what? We’ve had the same basketweave-embossed, icky, yellowing old vinyl headliner the whole time! Until now: it is GONE…in the main cabin at least, and hopefully throughout Totem soon. In place, we’re putting up white formica. It is clean, uncluttered, and brings in wonderful light into the cabin. This makes me so happy!

We also decided to reface the galley. It was pretty well torn up already to replace the refrigerator box, and with good help and tools at PSS it seemed like the right time to just do it. The galley also has the same original 1982 yellowing Formica, and these atrocious sliders made of smoke-tinted acrylic for cabinet access. GONE. It became easier to replace the upper cabinet box than just rebuild the front. I renewed my friendship with Pinterest and scoured for ideas on what to do: I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

It is hard, hard work

Jamie is working like a dog. He’s taken one day off the whole time we’ve been here, and seems to be bleeding at least once a day. Niall has been a big help too. They do as much as they can to make the carpenters on Totem as efficient as possible.

The girls pitch in as well, ferrying laundry, keeping our remaining water tank topped up, and other daily tasks that help us keep things running more smoothly. But they’ve also picked up a different job that’s keeping them especially busy, stepping in to care for a litter of motherless kittens found in the yard. They accompanied Jia and Julie, management at the yard, to the vet for checkups when it was clear two of the kittens weren’t thriving. They now administer eyedrops, vitamins, and antibiotics two to three times a day. And then just the other day, they found two puppies who also seemed to be fending for themselves, hiding in the lumber storage area. It’s too bad Totem isn’t an ark because we’re sorely tempted to add furry crew, but it’s just not something we can do right now.

Life in the shipyard

Living aboard has gone much better than I expected. OK: it’s not all roses. We have to use toilets on shore, and nobody wants to make that trip at night. We’ve had at least three rats on board, probably others we don’t know about. I can’t imagine why they choose us over the aromatic fishing boats, and maybe that’s why they don’t all stick around. The boat is always dirty and cluttered, because we’re moving things between cabins as different spaces become work areas. There’s a massive end-of-day cleanup effort but it’s still challenging.

Mairen makes sandwiches amid the construction mess

But we’ve made some new friends, who have really brightened our stay: Jamie, of “Follow the Boat” on Esper, who is doing a major refit on his pretty boat. The British nomads on Shanti, raising their two little boys afloat. We have been treated to gorgeous fresh bread by our Swiss neighbors on the Amel A Go Go. Julie and Jia organized a barbecue one night and grilled the most delicious prawns! There are long evenings spent spinning stories over bottles of Leo in front of the yard’s convenience store while the kids play.

Jamie does weekly vlogs and brought in the Totem kids to “project manage” one week – fun for them, another neat experience. Jamie has a gift for drawing out their personalities- I love this video he made!

 

Being back in Thailand is wonderful. I am very fond of this village where the shipyard is located: it is a small town, where I can go to the weekly market and run into people I know. It shuts down after dark, other than the call to prayer. There isn’t a whiff of tourism. It’s peaceful and beautiful!

We spent an unforgettable night on a special Thai holiday called Loy Krathong. Jia and Julie took a group of us to dinner at just the kind of place we love: where there is no English on the menu! Afterwards, we went to the river to watch ships hand crafted from banana trunks, palm fronds and flowers, lit with candles and incense and set into the water. Lanterns are sent to the heavens as well, and with Julie and Jia’s help, had our own to send off into the sky. These are wonderful memories we’ll always keep with us.

thanks to Julie for this photo of our family!

Almost finished!

Just like remodeling a house, there are times when it seems to zoom ahead and times when it feels grindingly slow. Some days feel like little has progressed, and on others, there are glimpses of transformation. But it can be frustrating: the yard is really busy, so work doesn’t always follow the timeline we expect. The stainless shop is backed up, so we have multiple stainless projects that haven’t even started: awning frame, bow roller, and a lot of reconfiguration of the stern rails and solar arch… oh, and we hoped to add to the bow pulpit also. It’s a little stressful, since it’s work we are especially keen to do, and we can’t extend for long. But we’ll do what we can, and meanwhile, it’s tremendous to see so man things starting to come together.

If you aspire to the perfect stainless solar arch you’re surely going to read this on the Sailfeed website.

The Really BIG SAIL

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-11-18 18:48

By Kimball Livingston Posted November 18, 2014

Want to get people out to watch sailboat races? Give’em that old college try. Give’em bands. Give’em the Big Sail.

Two years ago, during the Big Sail, Oracle Racing’s first foiling 72 augured in. A mile or so from the Big Sail, but still, it was quite a sight. No added charge for the show.

Big Sail as in four matches on the cityfront of San Francisco, the Tuesday before the local Big Game, Stanford vs. Cal, Cal vs. Stanford.

Varsity, Young Alumni, Masters and Grand Masters in St. Francis Yacht Club’s J/22s, and they split the day. Stanford’s Varsity and Young Alumni teams won their matches, 2-0. Cal’s Masters and Grand Masters won their matches 2-0.

That pic up top is the Stanford band going face to face with Cal. And I ask you, have you ever been inside the Stanford band? I’m still rocking. Lots of work with my big camera is stuck in said camera, pending a recharge when I get back to the office. Maybe even some pictures of boats, but who needs that?

No two ways about it, the crossover works. Football and yachting. At the edge of America.

Phone cams are not ideal . . .

All-in-one WiFi & cell data: Glomex WebBoat 4G & The WiriePro

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-11-18 18:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Nov 18, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

There are two reasons I was a little surprised to read that the Glomex WebBoat 4G won a DAME award this morning at METS. It seems like a minor update to the WebBoat 3G that Kees Verruijt covered here last year, and I thought that the DAME 2014 electronics and software nominees included several strong contenders. On the other hand, I know how hard it is to be a judge, and I thoroughly agree with their statement that WebBoat’s all-in-one approach to marine WiFi and cell communications addresses, “an area of rapidly growing interest in the marine industry.” I can’t count how many cruisers I met recently who were struggling with Internet connectivity, even along the U.S. coast. And I’m happy to report that another all-in-one solution, The WiriePro, will soon be available…

First let’s explore the WebBoat, specifications here (and also the manual). Inside the 12-inch high dome are two diversity antennas and a modem able to handle a whole lot of cellular frequencies and data protocols (though not some types found outside Europe). There’s also a high power WiFi antenna and radio for near shore connections, plus a router that joins both types of communications and serves them to devices on the boat via another WiFi antenna and radio. Kee’s cutaway photo above shows the original 3G model, but I doubt the 4G looks much different. The router/access point can be moved below with an Ethernet cable if metal decks block the WiFi, and that dark tubular piece at lower left houses a cellular SIM card slot with an access door on the dome’s bottom.

Managing the WebBoat is done with Android or iOS apps as illustrated in the main page video. Once set up there shouldn’t be much to do except scan for a new WiFi hotspot when you change harbors or force use of the cell connection if the WiFi gets flaky. But the original setup or changing SIM cards could be challenging and I encourage prospective buyers to check out the manual carefully. For instance, the correct APN (Access Point Name) has to be chosen by region and provider, and I’m not sure they’re all there. Also note that a prepaid SIM card with a PIN has to be unlocked in a phone before going into the WebBoat.

Once set up, though, — and note that the only cabling required is a 12 volt power feed — the WebBoat does seem as dreamy as this video capture suggests. It prioritizes the WiFi booster so that in harbor you may have a cheaper and possibly faster connection. But as you cruise out of WiFi range, WebBoat automatically switches over to the cell connection so you’re still blissfully sending off selfies (or checking the weather or keeping up with work email, or whatever :-).

The devil’s in the details, though, especially with technologies as fussy and dynamic as WiFi and Cellular hotspots on boats. That’s why I lean more toward the new all-in-one WiriePro even though its hardware looks, um, more utilitarian and it doesn’t auto switch between cellular and WiFi connections. That’s it in the yellow waterproof box at left, with its high power cell and WiFi antennas mounted externally. Also external is a waterproof Ubiquity Bullet M2 Titanium WiFi Adapter — latest and most ruggedly built in the Bullet line I’ve long appreciated. The company has also updated its WiFi-only WirieAP+ (at right) with Titanium and will soon have a cell-only Wirie xG.

Besides the high quality components, I like the look of Wirie’s browser-based management software. Note how the background screen above shows the status all three networks that an all-in-one like this enables. The inset cellular interface screen shows how the WiriePro lets you apply a PIN to a SIM card, and that’s not all…

The background screen in this collage shows how you can send SMS messages via the WiriePro interface, which is quite handy for adding credit to prepaid SIM cards. In fact, you can see that Wirie developer Mark Kilty has been doing just that, in French. The inset WiFi scan screen — which seems nicely simplified since I tested the original WirieAP in 2011 — also has a French Polynesian flavor, and that’s because the sailing development lab Irie has gone many miles, and done lots of Internet chasing, since I first profiled the product.

I appreciate the experience behind the new WiriePro all-in-one WiFi and cellular communicator, and also the company’s willingness to put their specs into the product comparison below. It may not be completely accurate — for instance, the WebBoat column probably needs updates for the new 4G model — but it’s a good place to start if you’re interested in the potential ease of having both offboard WiFi and cell connections working through one onboard WiFi router. I’ll add, though, that I just spent two months using separate WiFi and cell booster systems with pretty good results, and I’ll be expanding on that experience soon.

Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.

Podcast: Ted & Claudia Reshetiloff & Kids!

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-11-18 09:23

Welcome to the best episode yet…no joke. If you ever dreamed of leaving the corporate life and sailing off, on a tight bugdet and with a young family, listen to this episode. These are my friends Ted & Claudia Reshetiloff and their two kids, Max and Anya, 11 and 9. Mia and I joined them on ther boat, Demeter, a Wauquiez Amphitrite ketch in Nanny Cay Marina in Tortola to hear the story of how they left it all behind and headed out for adventure on the high seas and an entirely new lifestyle. They left Annapolis in 2012 and haven’t looked back since. Anya’s now in local school in Tortola, Ted works managing an outboard retail shop and they go sailing every weekend, taking longer stints off to head down island to Dominica and beyond. The voices you hear in the background are Mia (she makes her first podcast appearance!) and Paul Exner, who’s been on the show twice and also happens to live in Tortola. What a cool evening on Demeter. This is what long-term cruising is all about.

Writing feeds my cruising soul

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-11-17 05:10

A few months ago, I kissed the back of an envelope for good luck before dropping it into a mailbox in Singapore. Tucked inside was a publishing contract with my signature on it. Although it’s been years since I had my first paycheck as a freelance writer, I’ve only now had confidence to fill in the “occupation” blank on forms with WRITER. So to have a fellow blogger, Kim from SV Britican, tap me to follow her post on a tour of writer’s blogs is the kind of request that makes me sit back with a smile of wonder and amazement. Thank you, Kim, for the recognition!

What am I currently working on?

I’m divided between three different types of writing projects. The immediately obvious one is this blog, an evolution I never anticipated when I started it more than seven (!) years ago. The second is freelance writing magazine articles, which I’ve been growing slowly, marketing nonfiction pieces to boating, travel, and lifestyle magazines. Most exciting for me right now: I’m working with two other cruising parents, Sara Johnson and Michael Robertson, on a guide to voyaging with kids to be published by L&L Pardey Books (pinch me!).

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

You can’t swing a cat o’ nine tails in an anchorage without hitting a cruiser with a blog. It’s not a bad thing… during our pre-cruising years I would have loved such a resource pool to draw dreams and practicalities from. Overwhelmingly, these blogs are the record of a journey. My goal is to inspire others to choose the adventurous path:  to offer a window into the life, balanced with practical information, speaking plain truth from our experiences.

As a freelance writer, it depends on where I’m pitching: for sailing and adventurous living, I seek to have an honest voice, one that people can relate to and travel with vicariously (so, how am I doing?!).  There is a more  mechanical side of freelancing where I’m less concerned about differentiation, and simply want to be a quality content provider that editors love working with.

Why do I write what I do?

Writing has always been a way for me to process experiences, and share what I learn. I’m in my eighth year of writing as a way to externally process our cruising life, yet it’s really only been the last couple of years I felt I’ve had the space, miles, and personal experiences to be able to pull back and offer a broader view.

I want to support people who have the dream of cruising: families in particular. It’s incredibly rewarding to hear back from readers who have been helped or encouraged by what I’ve shared. I need to write, and I love our lifestyle, and by doing both together I’m finding happiness I never had in my prior professional life.

How does my writing process work?

I believe that 90% of writing is just putting your bum in the chair and setting fingers to keys. That’s certainly the way it is for me, yet I also have a notebook and pen as near constant companions. Sometimes the inspiration just hits, and I want to be able to grab it! Even if it drives Jamie a little crazy, because actually- I don’t have a notebook. I have many notebooks, and tend to leave them scattered around, then wonder with mild frantic distraction why I can’t find the one I want when I need it.

Of course, there are times when our environment makes the fundamental butt-in-seat difficult. My workspace is a small desk in the aft (master) cabin, which is not always peaceful and sometimes downright chaotic. Like today, when there are a half dozen shipyard crew on board adding the background cacophony of power tools and hammering.

So I pack up a bag, and shift to a spot near the shipyard office wifi. This often means I have children of the crew acting as curious helpers, shown in “extra helpful” ode in the photo higher up. They are sweet kids, but kind of distracting. Here at PSS Satun, have the rare luxury of an air conditioned and usually quiet room.. Of course, it comes with another kind of distraction: KITTENS! If you follow our Facebook page, you know the girls have been taking care of a motherless litter found in the lumber piles.

I’d like to tap Diane Selkirk and Sara Johnson as the next stops on the writer’s blog tour.

Diane has been my writing doula. She has nudged me, encouraged me, and had faith that I didn’t have in myself  I’m not sure I’d be IN a “writer’s blog tour” without her support! Diane has interviewed astronauts and Olympians, learned about laying up fiberglass and making ukuleles, canoed down a northern fur trade river and spent time on a police boat looking for yacht thieves – all for the sake of a good story.

Sara is another sailor who loves to write. We share the home waters of Puget Sound, and traveled many of the same miles in North America and the South Pacific. She especially enjoys writing about sailboat cruising, traveling with children, and all other aspects of life afloat – and how she does it all while living with Type 1 diabetes.

Writer or reader, you know I love it when you click through to find this on the Sailfeed website.

Avanti & Corsair Take Top Honors at the 25th ARC Caribbean 1500 Prizegiving

Sail Feed - Sun, 2014-11-16 09:57

In the slowest year since 2011, with the last boat still at sea as we go to press – with nearly 100 miles yet to go – the ARC Caribbean 1500 prizegiving last night was more of a milestone than a final ceremony.

“I usually end this evening thanking everyone and scurrying off to bed!” said event manager Andy Schell at the conclusion of the awards. “But we’ve got four boats coming in tonight, so we’ll be on the docks with the cold rum punch until the last boat is tied up!”

Despite several boats still at sea when the awards got underway, it was a very festive atmosphere on the beachside deck at Nanny Cay Marina. Crews that had been sweaty and salty for nearly two weeks at sea showed up in their shoreside best, with matching crew shirts and tropical island colors. After the crowd gathered round the bar for a quick beer or rum punch, the awards got going in earnest just before 5pm, as the sun was disappearing behind the hillsides in the west, offering up a much needed respite from the brutal afternoon heat.

“Hoooorayy!” shouted the crowd, as just in time, Aviva made their way into the cut and into Nanny Cay Marina with the largest audience of any of the arrivals thus far. “There is indeed something about being one of the last boats to arrive,” said Dorothy of Aviva. “That was really special having everyone cheer for us like that!” Dorothy, Fred and crew made it up to the beach just in time to see the awards get underway.

As we always do at the 1500, we emphasize the fun and special prizes over the competitive awards, and the ceremony kicked off as such with prizes for Best Mustache, Best Logs, Best Fishing Story (won by Serenity for their very timely bribe of 4 pounds of fresh mahi for the Yellowshirts lunches!), Youngest Skipper and more. 

Both the Mustach Award and the Best Bruise Award required audience participation. Three of the lady sailors came on stage to show off their best bruises, whereby the crowd cheered for a winner. It was no contest, as Cricket from Corsair easily garnered the biggest applause when she dropped her shorts right on stage and showed off a palm-sized bruise on her rip hip.

There were even more contestants for the Mustache Award. Rowena from the local BVI Movember (“Mustache November”) chapter was invited on stage to introduce Movember and start the competition.

“Each year the BVI participates in Movember to raise money for men’s health issues, namely prostate cancer,” she began. “Last year we raised a total of over $24,000, which goes directly to a few locals that are afflicted with the disease and require ongoing care. So thank you all very much for participating in what is a very fun, very important initiative for us in the BVI.

Despite arriving late to the contest and nearly missing the chance to show off his ‘stache (and this after he’d been complaining about how uncomfortable it had become), Levent from Adagio easily took the loudest applause and won a goody bag of Movember branded t-shirts and beer cozies. All the men who participated, included Rally staff Andy & Jake, lined up on the beach for a group mustache photo.

Lucky Strike, ironically considering their name, received the #13 banner that nobody seemed to want back in Portsmouth. Because of a very sick crewmember, they were forced to divert to Puerto Rico for medical help (he’s fine now, recovering in Michigan). Each crew at the party last night signed the banner in honor of Fred and is crew, and it will be mailed off to Lucky Strike next week, a reminder that despite their diversion, they were not alone.

Each boat also received a custom engraved plaque from Weems & Plath for participating in the rally, and was recognized on stage for finishing the event.

“You’re all winners to us!” exclaimed yellowshirt Mia from the stage, who was busy taking photos of each crew as they accepted their awards.


Later in the evening the competitive awards were distributed, with Avanti, Opportunity & Southern Cross taking home first place for Classes A, B and Multihulls respectively. Opportunity, despite taking 12 days to finish the course, is only starting on their longer journey. From the Caribbean, they are bound for the Panama Canal and the Pacific, and are in the process of taking the boat Down Under to Australia.

Before the night was out, the biggest awards were given, starting with a new perpetual trophy for 2014. Miles Poor, of rally sponsor MRP Refits, was called on stage to describe the new Hal Sutphen Seamanship Trophy, which, alongside the Tempest Trophy for Spirit of the Rally, will remain in Nanny Cay.

“Hal, along with rally founder Steve Black, was integral in promoting proper seamanship,” Miles began, “which starts long before you ever head to sea. When Hal died, his wife suggested we make an award in his honor, so we started with this silver cup in 2006. It will go to the yacht that sets the best example of seamanship in the rally.”

Though they weren’t present to accept it (they were still at sea), La Madeline took the honor for their incredibly detailed prepartions back in Portsmouth. Both safety inspectors Lyall Burgess and Peter Burch agreed that they were far and away the most well prepared. Each crewmember, in turn, had done live MOB drills, and they had detailed diagrams of each stowage space on the boat, fantastic use of safety equipment and more. They set the bar high for the safety checks in rallies to come.

Avanti was then called back on the stage to accept the Steve Black Trophy for winning the Overall Cruising Division, correcting ahead of all Class A and B yachts. The award was a little more meaningful this year, both because it’s the 25th running of the rally, but also because Steve Black passed away in February. The award has always bared his name, as Steve was a keen racing sailor in his heyday, and loved the friendly competition of the rally.

Finally, Avanti remained on stage to present the Tempest Trophy for Spirit of the Rally, as winner of it themselves in 2012 for guiding several yachts through a severe lightning storm in the Gulf Stream. 2014 was a fairly mild year weather wise, and an uneventful one at sea, with no boats really requiring the assistance of another. That being the case, the Tempest Trophy this year was awarded to Corsair, for their general enthusiasm since Day 1 in Portsmouth.

“On the first Monday in Portsmouth, when everyone else was tearing their boats apart to get ready to put to sea, I found Tom and his crew sitting in the cockpit listening to music and drinking wine,” said Andy Schell. “These guys were on it from the start. They were ready to go a month ahead of time, went to every function, were always smiling, and just set the best example of what it takes to participate in this event. They are very deserving of the award.”

Corsair’s name will be engraved on the Tempest Trophy beneath Avanti and Moonshadow’s from the previous two years, and it will remain in Peg Leg’s restaurant until next year. 

As of Sunday morning, only 2 yachts remained at sea, and are expected to arrive today and tomorrow (La Madeline and Amphitrite). Earlier this morning, Moonshadow, Chanticleer and Mystic Shadow arrived into Nanny Cay, with the dogs Maya and Rex on Mystic Shadow easily the happiest to be here. There will be a late-arrivals dinner on Monday night at the beach, where their awards will be distributed. That will officially mark the close of the 25th Caribbean 1500.

For the full results of each competitive class, click here.

Mega AV: UMSI installs KVH IP MultiCast, Crestron & much more

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-11-14 13:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Nov 14, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Whoever buys Island Heiress will get an amazing audio video system. The 1996 Cheoy Lee has gone through a massive refit — notice how much the satellite domes have changed from the original configuration — including a $250,000 custom entertainment system put together by Unlimited Marine Services Inc. (UMSI). You can be at any one of eight large Samsung LED HDTV screens using an iPad to choose from DirectTV, Apple TV, boat cameras, navigation screens, and the world’s first install of a KVH IP MobileCast superyacht package. In Fort Lauderdale I got to see some of the phenomenal complexity behind the AV goodness and even picked up some equipment tips possibly relevant to more modest vessels…

Here’s the iPad dedicated to controlling the speakers and TV in the sky lounge of Island Heiress. The security keypad is covering up some of the Crestron interface, but you can see the main video source categories along the top. During the demo this remote looked easy to use and switching sources was lightning fast. I was impressed with the LaunchPort case and mount system. Magnets in the case secure the iPad firmly to the mount where it is also charged inductively, and UMSI president James Porreca confirmed that it’s a complete winner on a boat.

What a rack! Actually the massive hardware complexity behind the simple iPad screens is housed in two racks, and I was glad to see them in the final install stage before the temporary tracks were stowed and veneer panels obscure goodies, like that Crestron 32×32 DigitalMedia Switcher showing eight of its cooling fans at lower left. Compare the backside of the switch shown on the Crestron page with your own AV system and be awed at what the UMSI install team had to do.

The DM-MD32X32 switch, able to manage 32 AV inputs and outputs of most any type, is arguably the heart of the system, as suggested in this diagram (even if the larger image you can click to see is still only 25% of the original). Now contemplate some of the inputs…

Seen in the left rack are 11 DirectTV USA receivers, 11 more for the same company’s Galaxy Latin America service plus 11 KVH IP MultiCast players and 6 Apple TVs. At top right are the controllers for the KVH Tracvision HD7 that’s bringing in the DirectTV and the matching KVH mini-VSAT TracPhone V7-IP antenna that supplies the boat with MultiCast content as well as high-speed internet and phone service. Next down is the KVH Media Server that automatically collects content when the VSAT connection isn’t otherwise in use — that’s the bandwidth efficiency behind MultiCast — and then a bunch more Crestron gear like a PRO3 Control and a Digital Graphics Engine. There are also 30 Crestron Aspire speakers now built into the yacht, plus some amps and an elaborate iPod dock.

James Porreca is proud that UMSI has an expert Crestron programmer on staff and also about how neatly his team runs wires. Consider, for instance, how many little IR remote extenders are hidden away in these racks so that no conventional remote ever has to be pointed at any of those media players. In the photo above we’re just seeing the major Ethernet, HDMI, coax and power cabling, though it also shows the neat hinging feature that goes with the rack roll-out track system.

Here’s a matrix of Island Heiress onboard cameras showing on the sky lounge TV (sort of like Raymarine’s new quad view). The install is not yet finished — more cameras and maybe position labels are coming — but you can see little yellow “running man” icons indicating that some of the video streams have motion detection turned on. It’s like the security system in a large institution, only available anywhere on the boat.

But the big AV system is mostly about content from shore and this IP MultiCast screen suggests how specific that can be. Besides offering fairly new movies and TV programs from around the world, there’s also TV and print news in several languages. And remember that MultiCast is going to work in places where DirectTV doesn’t and will still serve stored programming even when you lose mini VSAT coverage. But I’m told that there are restrictions on who can use MultiCast due to the content licensing — the yacht has to be set up as a commercial charter operation, I think. Inmarsat, incidentally, now has a Fleet Media service that similarly uses waste bandwidth to stock a media server, but it’s definitely oriented to commercial vessels, and I think it only streams to tablets and phones (which MultiCast can also do).

Finally, I got a peek at the Island Heiress bridge where the four 23-inch Hatteland displays were showing the output of a FLIR thermal camera and a Furuno NavNet 3D blackbox, plus the onboard camera matrix and a MuliCast movie. When finished, one of the touchscreens will also serve as the controller for TSAT — another UMSI/Crestron specialty I’ve written about — so the crew can arrange radar, plotter, camera and entertainment windows by flicking them around the bridge displays. Most of us will never consider an AV or navigation system like what’s on Island Heiress, but if you’re setting up a truly high-end WiFi network you might consider the Packedge routers and Ruckus access point system that UMSI favors. These guys seem to know their stuff.

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Lest We Forget: The Carib 1500 Crews Who Won’t Make it to Tortola This Year

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-11-14 09:32

Nothing ever bad happens in the rally, right? If you read the daily news stories over the years, you’d certainly think so. But despite what I sometimes think of as the ‘propaganda’ that we post in the news and features during the 1500 (and I’m myself responsible for producing it), I feel we ought to focus at least occasionally on some of the more unfortunate realities of ocean sailing. Namely, not everyone is, or will be, partying in the Virgin Islands when this thing is all said and done.

And I’m not talking about maritime disasters here. Since I’ve been involved with the 1500, I’m happy to say that we’ve had no major mishaps aside from some bumps and bruises and a dislocated shoulder last year. No sinkings or abandonments, no dismastings, just the normal ‘wear and tear’ that an ocean passage puts on a sailboat (knock on wood – believe me, I know how much luck is involved in that, especially with a large fleet of boats. Put me on a boat and I’m pretty confident we’ll get there. But with this fleet, it’s mostly out of my hands). But nevertheless, each year, there are always one or two boats that will fall by the wayside and ultimately be forgotten by the fleet that makes it safely to Tortola. And that’s the focus of today’s news item.

Before the fleet even left the dock, we had our first dropout. Rockhopper, a Morgan 45, was forced to drop out of the fleet for medical reasons. It was heartbreaking hearing the news from Frank and Suzanne, knowing that this was a dream of theirs as well. They’re two little doggies, Oz and Jonesy, provided some comfort with their constant yapping and smiling, but the news was still difficult to swallow. 

I can personally attest to their feelings, a little bit anyway. My dad took his boat, Sojourner, offshore to the Caribbean last year with the 1500, but he was one crewmember short. He and my mom had bought their boat, a Wauquiez Hood 38, in 2009, and had planned to cruise on it long-term over the following few years. Instead, mom got brain cancer and died in 2012. My dad stuck to his plans though, and with a heavy heart, headed offshore anyway last year, and again this year, leading the ARC Bahamas fleet to Marsh Harbor.

My dad wasn’t alone in that endeavor either. Without naming names, at least three other boats in the 1500 fleet this year are in similar situations, dreams altered with the loss of loved ones, but continued nonetheless. 

Thankfully for Rockhopper, Frank and Suzanne still have each other, and will continue cruising, just a little closer to shore. When we left them at Ocean Marine Yacht Center in Portsmouth, they were planning to cruise south on the ICW, remain close to medical care, and take their trip a day at a time. We wish them the best.

Shortly after the rally start, the fleet lost Heart’s Desire, a Pacific Seacraft 37. Though it ended well for John and his crew, it was a scary start for Rally Control. I got a phone call from the US Coast Guard while we were back in Pennsylvania, who said that one of our boat’s had issued a Pan Pan. After the initial shock wore off from the USCG call, I had to smirk to myself over the Pan Pan call. Mario Vittone, ex-USCG rescue swimmer, who had spoken during the seminar program in Portsmouth, had highlighted the usefulness of a Pan Pan.

“Nobody that I can recall ever required a rescue after issuing a Pan Pan,” he’d said. “A Pan Pan let’s us know that you’ve got a small issue on board but are working on it. As soon as it turns into a bigger issue, we know exactly where you are and what’s up, and can come and help. But usually, the folks responsible enough to call Pan Pan, end up working the issue out on their own.”

That’s exactly what John and his crew did. They had a minor engine issue, and managed to sail back to Virginia Beach without outside assistance.

“Turns out it was a very simple fix,” John told me on the phone once they were back on shore. “Almost so easy I’m embarrassed to even talk about it! The problem was, I was the only one onboard capable of fixing it, and I was too seasick to go below.”

John took the conservative route and headed back home safely. Last we spoke, he had gotten help from Trudy, our wonderful volunteer in Hampton, who rustled up some crew and helped John take Heart’s Desire to the marina for winter storage. He’s planning on following Rockhopped down the ICW and might make a run offshore to the Bahamas in early December once he gets a bit further down the coast.

Earlier this morning I spoke with Fred Ball, builder, owner and skipper of the Newick 50 trimaran Lucky Strike. They’d made it safely to Puerto Rico and Fred was about to board a flight to Miami while the friends he’d made in Portsmouth were enjoying a seminar on cruising the BVI.

“I’ve never been on a boat with someone that sick before,” Fred told me. “One of our crew, it turned out, had viral bronchitis. He was a little stuffy before the trip started, but figured it was just a cold and he’d get better. He didn’t.”

Fred said that this crewmember was so sick that he thought about the worst on a few occasions. They decided early on that with the upwind conditions, their quickest way to medical help would be to crack the sheets and aim for Peurto Rico, where they’d also conveniently be back in the USA and closer, in theory, to the American health system.

“We rolled him off the boat and got him into a hotel room the day we arrived,” Fred continued, “and immediately put him on an oxygen tank. He was on a plane the next day and is now back in Michigan in the hospital undergoing treatment. He’s getting better, which is good.”

It had to have been a brutal decision for Fred. This trip has been a longtime dream of his, and to abandon it only halfway through the passage had to hurt emotionally. Fred actually built the boat back in Michigan and had sailed it on the Great Lakes for it’s entire life. He’s getting a bit older now, and this Caribbean foray was to be a swan song of sorts. let the boat stretch it’s legs offshore, do the Caribbean racing circuit, maybe even cross the Atlantic to France, where multihulls are king. After all, he’d sailed Lucky Strike to victory in all the major Great Lakes races, so he had nothing left to prove back home.

But his trip’s not over yet.

“I’ll go back to Miami to be with Pam tomorrow,” Fred told me. “And the boatyard here is working on the engine and fixing a few minor issues. The boat did great. Aside from it being upwind and a little wet on deck, we had a great sail. I’ll be back soon enough and we’ll sail her over to Virgin Gorda where she’ll stay at the Bitter End for a while, and I’ll get back down here over the winter.”

Despite the situation, which appeared dire at times, Fred remains optimistic. Here’s to hoping he makes it. We owe you a rum punch, Fred!

So as the fleet continues to arrive in sunny Tortola, we in the rally office are making a point to think about the boats and crews who won’t make it here, who’s dreams of sailing over the horizon were put on hold, at least for a little while. With luck, we’ll see them down the line and will always be happy to lend a helping hand.

Podcast: Across the North Sea, Part 2

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-11-14 00:00

This is Part 2 of Andy & Mia’s last big offshore passage on Arcturus from 2012, when they sailed direct to Sweden from Scotland. If you missed Part 1, it was last Friday’s episode, so you’ll want to hear these in order.

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