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Manta Hits the Big Four-O

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-07-17 12:16

By Kimball Livingston Posted July 17, 2014

There are huge differences between the formula classes and the one-design classes of landsailing.

Which doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who play both games.

It’s one thing to be a tinkerer and build a very-cool formula flyer, but hauling along a one-design yacht, when you head to the playa, means extra time sailing. And with something like the two-seat Manta—the Manta being the most popular class at the Landsailing World Championship this week at Smith Creek, Nevada—you can have your “cruise” time with a friend. Having been a passenger aboard a two-seat Manta with Bob Dill, past president of the North American Landsailing Association and one-time holder of the outright landsailing speed record, I can attest that there are plenty of thrills built into this visually-modest little ship. As the moment, pics of the single seater are easier to come by. This is racing at the Smith Creek Playa, and I note that unless there is a lot of dust blowing off the wheels, the camera just doesn’t show the speed . . .

And remember all that chatter about The Bear Away in the early days of America’s Cup 34? There was even one TV reporter who wanted to know why they didn’t just not do bear-away maneuvers. We won’t go there. But in a Manta as in an America’s Cup catamaran, there is that moment of truth when you want to get it right . . .

The price points are right. A new Manta single goes out the door of WindPower Sports for $1,825, the twin for $2,775. There’s a $190 ratchet block upgrade available for each, or choose beach tires at no extra cost. That’s it. That’s one-design sailing. WindPower Sports builds a range of items from kites to kite buggies to cross country mountainboards that can be used with or without a kite. Kids today, I tell ya.

But the landsailer had its peculiar origins four decades ago. I’ll let Russ Foster take it from here—

Adversity created popular 40 year-old one-design land yacht class

By Russ Foster, NALSA

The infamous 1973/74 Oil Embargo caused a big problem for Oakland, California-based hang glider manufacturers Alan Dimen and Russ Thompson. In late 1973, the shortages and rising prices of gasoline and the resulting uncertainty caused many customers to suddenly stop buying their popular Manta hang gliders.

Faced with rapidly-declining sales and a big stock of the aircraft tubing and parts used in the gliders, they needed a new product, and quickly!

Thus was born the Manta Winjammer land yacht, now commonly called the Manta Single. First produced in early 1974, it is arguably the oldest continuously-manufactured one-design land yacht in the world.

The aircraft-like quality of the Manta, with its light weight, portability, ruggedness, ease of use and reasonable cost made it popular from the outset. In the early days, hundreds were produced, and many were shipped to international customers.

The design celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and as featured as a one-design class at the FISLY-NALSA 14TH Landsailing World Championship (the Worlds) continuing through Saturday at Smith Creek Playa near the town of Austin in Northern Nevada. NALSA, the North American Land Sailing Association, is hosting the event and is the U.S. Affiliate of FISLY, the International Federation of Sand and Land Yachts, the world governing body for competitive land sailing. One design classes must adhere to strict “as-built-by-the-factory” specifications and emphasize sailor (pilot) ability, not experimental design. They are popular because the designs are constant, offer a pure test of sailing ability and do not create an expensive “arms race.”

While the Manta Single has enjoyed steady but moderate sales, its popular two-seater sibling, the Twinjammer (Manta Twin) introduced in 1976 and also a one-design, has outsold the Single by a 10-to-1 ratio for many years and regularly fields the largest fleets at U.S. landsailing regattas.

At the Worlds, Manta Singles and Twins both play important roles as charter yachts for international competitors who are unable to bring their own land yachts but want to sail in the regatta. The competition is fierce.

This Wednesday video from the Worlds shows a mix of formulas and one designs, plus a bit of Germany’s Frog Team that shipped its bus to Baltimore and then made a road trip of the 2014 Worlds adventure.

A Grand Day Out

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-07-17 11:43

Back in the day I had a yen to do a Whitbread race, as it was then. I envisioned myself steering resolutely down towering Southern Ocean swells, setting new boatspeed records to the acclaim of my crewmates, and sipping champagne from stilettos in the post-race parties. Of course a lack of skill and ambition in that direction scuppered any chances I had of doing a round-the-world race, and now of course the last thing I would contemplate doing is exposing my middle-aged self to the frigid wastes of the Roaring Forties, let alone the Furious Fifities or the Shrieking Sixties. I’m good with experiencing all that vicariously through the Volvo Ocean Race’s excellent videos.

I was reminded of those youthful pipe dreams last week when I was invited down to Newport, RI for a sail on Azzam, the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team’s new Volvo 65, courtesy of sponsors Etihad Airlines. The race is entering a new era now, with the six teams competing in identical boats designed by Bruce Farr. “This is now a strict one-design class,” Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker told me. “Each boat is delivered fully equipped and we can’t change a thing.” Even the ends of sheets and halyards are bar-coded so organizers will know if they’ve been shortened.

This means big adjustments for the sailors who’ve competed in previous editions.  Walker is on his third Volvo, and most of his Azzam teammates have several races behind them (one has already done five!). “The boat does not feel that different from the 70, but the very strictness of the rule means that we have to adapt to the boat, rather than tweaking the boat to suit ourselves,” he says. “We are sailing with fewer crew and only have seven sails instead of 11, so the more time we get on the boats before the start, the better.”

The affable Walker reckons this will be the tightest race in the 40-year history of the event. I think he may be right.

Now that’s what I call a transom—just over 18 feet wide! Having all that beam carried aft means the boats needs twin rudders to retain control when hard on the wind. The central tower houses liferafts and communications equipment.

Trimmer/helmsman Justin Slattery was celebrating his 40th birthday on the day. Here he tends one of the three coffee grinders, just before summoning yours truly to help sweat the mainsail up.

Thankfully the women from Etihad also put their backs into it. The multi-geared carbon fiber coffee grinders and winches from Harken are amazingly powerful.

The pit—where all the sail controls are handled in the cockpit—is split into three parts, with mot lines brought to the central pod. There’s a dedicated winch for each cluster of lines, which can also be diverted to other winches nearby. You can see why the French nickname the pit area the “piano!”

Slightly less clutter in the outboard pit area; not the arrows on the port primary winch, which is “handed”—the sheet is wound on anti-clockwise to ensure a better lead from the turning block.

The cockpit is long, wide and uncluttered—when crew often have to move quickly and in poor visibility, they need to know their way around instinctively, and the fewer tripping hazards, the better.

Here’s an indication of the kind of loads these boats have to handle—no more than 10 tons of tension on the forestay, folks…

Home, sweet home…  All the cooking—aka adding water to freeze dried food—is done here by the boat’s media crewman, who isn’t allowed to help handle the boat but does get to do domestic chores.

Here’s where the brains trust—skipper and navigator—hang out. Pretty simple really – a pair of laptops for navigation, interment repeaters, and adjustable seating. The aftermost chair is for the media crewman, who has his own editing station.

The palatial accommodations. There are eight bulkheads within the boat, most of which have watertight doors to contain flooding. In the center you can see the forward water ballast tank—there are two others aft. In the tropics, the unventilated all-carbon interior will be sweltering hot and dripping with condensation. In the Southern Ocean, the unheated all-carbon interior will be freezing cold and dripping with condensation…

Voila, the throne room. It’s a lot more civilized than the arrangements I’ve seen on some ocean racers. That carbon fiber toilet is gimbaled and all plumbing is right out there in plain view. And the compartment is screened on three sides so there is a modicum of privacy.

Skipper Ian Walker explains the provisions. Each of these bags contain two days’ worth of food for the crew of nine, all carefully measured and bagged for maximum caloric loading. Each crewman must consume 5,000 calories a day to avoid losing weight. It’s not all freeze-dried mush—each bag contains packages of treats to give the crew something to look forward to. The bags are labeled in the order they’ll be consumed—days 13/14 and 15/16 are shown here.

It was a thrill to steer such an exciting boat; in the light breeze she still hit an easy 10 knots under spinnaker. The day after our outing, Azzam and her crew left for England. Here they are, in delivery mode. They’re a great bunch of guys and I wish them well in the race.

Invention Trumps $$ at Landsailing Worlds

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-07-16 11:25

5.6 Mini Yacht Championship decided, other classes begin competition at Landsailing Worlds

By Kimball Livingston Posted July 16, 2014

A sailor is a sailor, no matter what the sailor sails.

And my point is?

The strongest reaction I ever received to a magazine article came from a piece about sailing model yachts. Those people have a passion. What’s more, I discovered that many of them are the usual suspects, people I already knew from sailing what they call “people boats.” They just have this other thing too.

So it is with landsailing.

Austin, Nevada is remote. Add a few miles and you’re at Smith Creek Playa, slightly more remote but flat and open and perfect for sailing on the hard. The world is gathered this week on the playa for a world championship almost as diverse as the world of wet-sailed boats. And yes, they call them boats. Or yachts. “Skipper” here becomes “pilot.” There are one-designs and one-offs, formula classes for tinkerers, some very sophisticated experiments in engineering and other experiments that lean toward the agricultural end of the scale. And there are the usual suspects.

The 2014 Landsailing World Championship is being managed by Santa Cruz sailor-sailors who have been at this game for a good long while. That would include Russ Foster, who observed the first day of racing for the 5.6 Mini class and fretted that he was watching an arms race taking off. To some extent, that’s built in by a class rule that allows multiple sails for different wind ranges, with no limit on sail area. The platform component of the 5.6 Mini rule requires a small boat but allows a dreamer to dream and a tinkerer to tinker: All wheels of the vehicle (three wheels, we assume) must fit within a continuous loop of small diameter rope 5.6 meters long, laid on a flat surface with the land yacht at rest. Now, Mr. Engineer, go play.

Foster observed, “First, reducing drag is important. Most of the leaders were lying down fairly far aft (increasing righting moment and rear wheel traction) in yachts with streamlined bodies and, in some cases, wheel pants and fully-enclosed front wheels. Moreover, on one or two advanced machines, the boom is very close to the deck, creating a ‘deck sealing’ effect and increasing sail efficiency.”

You can take that as far as you want to go, but—this time out at least—the hottest 5.6 Mini came out of Lakeside, Montana in the hands of John Eisenlohn, who designed and built US 772 himself of parts from home supply stores. He licked some showy international opponents who had gone the way of more exotic components, and in the process he probably tamped down the arms race a tad.

The 5.6 Minis were the first class to wrap their championship. (More info via the North American Landsailing Association.) Much more racing is under way, continuing through Saturday. Frenchman Bernard Morel traveled a long way to race in Class 3 and got, um, this. All images courtesy Carels Photography, Belgium. Yep, there is ample justification for a roll bar.

Breeze on to Hawaii

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-07-16 01:10

July 15, 2014 – The breeze is on and many of the fifty-five boats racing in the 2014 Pacific Cup are posting double-digit speeds and 200-nautical-mile-plus days. At this pace, Kaneohe Bay could be welcoming the first finisher as early as this Friday, July 18.

Venture, a Jeanneau 49 skippered by Michael Chobotov and leading the Holo Holo Cruising Division, has the bit in her teeth again and is starting to smell the Hawaiian plumeria with less than 600 nautical miles to go. She’ll want to keep an eye on the rear-view mirror as Invisible Hand, a Reichel/Pugh 63 skippered by Frank Slootman, is lit up and gaining fast at 16+ knots. If things stay at this pace, the Hand, which won its division in the 2013 Transpac, will be the first to enjoy Kaneohe Yacht Club mai-tais.

Moore 24 Snafu continues to dominate the ‘Iwi Doublehanded Division, with Blade Runner and Green Buffalo within striking distance. Meanwhile, in the Kolea Doublehanded Division, Wolfpack has the pedal to the metal, posting a 219-nautical-mile day – one mile less than California Condor. Awesome speed for this 30-foot boat!

Azure continues to lead the Alaska Airlines Division, with Back Bay and California Girl in hot pursuit. Green Buffalo has taken the lead in the Cal 40 drag race, while Azure, California Girl and Green Buffalo stand 3rd, 4th and 6th in the PHRF overall standings.

The leads for the Weems & Plath, Matson and Sonnen BMW divisions have changed within the past twenty-four hours. Sailing in the Weems & Plath Division, Free Bowl of Soup had a ‘souper’ day, posting a 202nm day in the last twenty-four hours to take the lead from Sweet Okole. This is the most competitive division in the race with only twelve hours separating the first boat from the last. In the Matson Division, Encore also had a great day, posting 196nm. Hamachi lit the afterburner with a 246nm day to move in front of Swazik in the Sonnen BMW Division; the top seven boats in this division are all in the hunt.

In the Latitude 38 fleet – the race’s fastest boats – Pyewacket, Roy Disney’s Andrews 68 and the sole Hawaii-based boat in the race, continues her leadership of the division as well as rating/overall dominance; both the Alameda, CA based Invisible Hand (Reichel/Pugh 63) and the Melbourne, Australia based Scarlett Runner (Reichel/Pugh 52) posted 300nm days while weaving their way through the fleet.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast suggests that the boats north of the rhumb line will see more breeze.

REBEL HEART: Lawsuit Against Sat-Phone Provider

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-07-15 20:28

Charlotte and Eric Kaufman, who brought the Wrath of the Mass Media down on their heads when they evacuated their Hans Christian 36 Rebel Heart back in April, have filed suit in San Diego against Whenever Communications LLC (doing business as Satellite Phone Store), their Iridium satellite phone service provider. As they described in their radio interview with Ira Glass on This American Life in May, they were using their phone to seek medical advice for their sick 1-year-old daughter when their service was intentionally terminated by the provider. Believing their HF radio had been disabled by a deck leak and that they had no other means of seeking help for their daughter, they set off their EPIRB and so ignited the chain of events that has since made them notorious.

The Kaufmans announced they would file suit last week and did interviews with Good Morning America and KGTV ABC 10 News in San Diego. The KGTV interview can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube:

 

It’s well worth watching. The nut comes at 11:33, where the Kaufmans explain that the four California Air National Guard para-jumpers who jumped out of a plane 900 miles offshore to come help their sick child didn’t do anything once onboard that they couldn’t have done themselves had their sat-phone been working. That is: the PJs simply called a doctor for advice on their sat-phone and stabilized Lyra, the sick child, using only medication that the Kaufmans already had onboard.

This certainly makes it seem there is a strong argument that but for the termination of phone service the Kaufmans would not have had to abandon their boat.

Some of the reports last week on the nature of the lawsuit seemed a bit off-base to me, so I contacted the Kaufmans’ attorney, Dan Gilleon, and he provided me with a copy of the complaint, which he filed yesterday. He also answered some questions I had:

 

WaveTrain: News stories about the suit are reporting either a) the Kaufmans are seeking to compel the defendant to recompense the rescue agencies; or b) the Kaufmans intend to use part of any award recovered to recompense the rescue agencies themselves. Reading the complaint, these interpretations seem inaccurate. The complaint on its face has the Kaufmans seeking a declaratory judgment that they are not liable to recompense the rescue agencies, and the agencies are welcome to join the action if they would like to seek recompense from the defendant.

a) Are the news stories in fact inaccurate? Have the Kaufmans indicated to you they would use money recovered in the suit to pay the rescue agencies?

b) Is my interpretation correct?

Attorney Gilleon: I was more than disappointed with Good Morning America. I almost did not let the interview go forward. The comment about using money recovered in the lawsuit to repay the taxpayers is simply wrong. I spent at least 20 minutes with that reporter explaining what we were doing. We never said that. Instead, I explained that seeking reimbursement for the tax payers is easier said than done when we have no political support for the notion. There’s lots of people out there griping about how the US rescue forces are used by, for example, Carnival Cruises, but are never repaid when rescues occur.

The US will not go after the Kaufmans due to a policy of not seeking reimbursement as against the people who are rescued, as doing so may discourage people from calling for help. This does not, however, legally prohibit the US from seeking reimbursement should the Kaufman’s attain financial compensation from the satellite phone company. We have offered to assist the US obtain compensation of their own through this action, but our means of seeking that cooperation is somewhat limited until an attorney is assigned to the case. I reached out to Rep. Duncan Hunter’s office, for example, but have gotten nowhere.

If the US government does not want to cooperate with us through this lawsuit to obtain reimbursement for the rescue expenses, then we want the court to terminate their claim against the Kaufmans. They should not be allowed to wait around and see if money comes, and then take that money. If they want to assign their damages to us, we can seek recovery of those damages through this lawsuit. Until then, all we can seek is compensation for the loss of the boat and the associated damages.

WaveTrain: Why is Eric named as a nominal defendant? The complaint isn’t quite clear about that, as he is not referenced in any cause of action.

Attorney Gilleon: Eric is named as a nominal defendant because he signed a contract that changed the venue to Florida. Charlotte didn’t sign that contract. However, even though we don’t need him as a plaintiff in the case, he needs formally to be part of the action due to community property issues with the boat. Even though Eric is named as a “defendant” just like the United States and California, in reality they’re just “indispensable parties” and naming them as “defendants” is the only way to bring them within the jurisdiction of the court to make a judgment final and certain.

WaveTrain: The complaint states that “Eric could not continue the voyage alone.” Why not? He had previously sailed the boat singlehanded from California to Mexico. The boat was leaking, but the leak was manageable. In their press conference, I believe one member of the rescue team stated pretty explicitly that Eric made a choice between staying with the boat or staying with his family.

Attorney Gilleon: There are several differences with Eric singlehanding in Baja versus continuing the Pacific crossing alone. He would crewless, without an EPIRB, and without a satellite phone. Combined it presents a threat that is clearly too high for multiple additional weeks of transoceanic passage making.

WaveTrain: Prior to setting out across the Pacific, Eric, posting as Rebel Heart, actively participated in online sailing forums and on at least two occasions described to forum members several problems he had with the defendant, his sat-phone provider:

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/ham-radio-vs-marine-ssb-121982-6.html#post1493195

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/iridium-service-plans-114895.html#post1384452

These included billing disputes and sudden phone deactivations for no apparent reason. Given this, it seems the Kaufmans in fact had fair warning their sat-phone service was unreliable. Doesn’t this prejudice their claim against the defendant?

Attorney Gilleon: He had the phone for nearly two years and in that time he can remember once where it simply did not work, the other time the issue cleared itself. In the first case a phone call to them resolved it and he walked away with the feeling that it was an isolated incident. If he thought the device was unreliable he wouldn’t have continued using the service. During the other nearly two years he used the phone constantly both for data and voice.

SatellitePhoneStore.com’s billing habits always seemed a bit off kilter but he chalked that up to the types of clients they’re dealing with (global, hard to reach). Also, they told him they were doing a big change to their billing system so long term there would be improvements.

WaveTrain: Have you developed any information that Iridium, as opposed to the named defendant, is also at fault? If so, can you share that information? Do you anticipate including Iridium as a defendant?

Attorney Gilleon: We have no evidence that Iridium was at fault in any way and furthermore would like to thank Iridium for being as forthcoming as possible in helping us to understand what happened to Eric’s account as it was handled by Whenever LLC.

 

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to this exchange, but to me Gilleon’s answers seem reasonable. The issue of whether Eric could have saved the boat by finishing the voyage on his own was the one I was wondering about most. To me it seemed this might have been a real possibility (as I mentioned in a previous post), but I had not considered the lack of communications. He had at least two more weeks of ocean sailing in front of him, in a boat taking on 60 gallons of water a day, or more, and doing so alone without even an EPIRB aboard would be enough to give anyone pause.

Reactions on the cruising forums have not been so generous. It seems independent-minded cruisers (and wanna-be cruisers) have a strong aversion to the concept of filing any sort of lawsuit related to things going wrong on a boat offshore. You can check the mostly negative reactions on the Cruisers Forum here and the Cruising Sailors Bulletin Board here. I note that Jon Eisberg, who gave me some grief after my own adventure in January, is leading the charge on the latter. He seems to have nothing positive to say about anyone who abandons a boat, whatever the circumstances, and I can only pray for his own sake he never has to abandon one himself someday.

At least one critic on the Cruiser’s Forum has charged that Eric has been deleting and revising past posts he made, seemingly in preparation for litigation. I asked attorney Gilleon in a follow-up question if he had any comment on this and so far have not heard back from him.

For myself, as a former attorney and as a bluewater sailor who carries a sat-phone, I have absolutely no problem with the Kaufmans filing suit against Whenever. Given the facts as we know them, they have a perfectly legitimate claim. I note in particular that Eric in the interview up top there (at about 20:38) claims to talked to his service provider just a week before heading out on passage and apparently received no notice as to any issue with new SIM cards. He may well have also mentioned the upcoming trip to them. In the complaint, too, there is an allegation that the company tapped the Kaufmans’ credit card for a monthly payment on the very same day they intentionally deactivated their SIM card.

I’ve noticed too on the forums that some people are now painting the Kaufmans as narcissistic media whores, which also seems unfair. I am sure they’ve turned down many more interview requests than they’ve received, and my take on what we’ve seen from them so far is that they’ve pretty much done the minimum they need to do to protect their own rights and reputations.

The Kardashians they are not.

Having said that, I should note Eric is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser in August for the That Others May Live Foundation, which provides non-profit support for Air Force rescue personnel.

Some may call that narcissism, but to me it seems an act of gratitude.

Landsailing Worlds

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-07-15 18:35

At Smith Creek Playa, Nevada, the world of landsailing has gathered to play. Some drove in, towing trailers. Some flew in and chartered “boats.” Containers have arrived from far-flung parts of the globe, and a German contingent of nine, the Frog Sails team, shipped their bus to Baltimore, then took off across the country, cooking in parking lots along the way. Here is team captain Kai-Uwe Ilts barbecuing for the team in a Wal-Mark parking lot in Pittsburg. Now, that’s how to see America, on the way to the Wild West, at that.

From a slow start in sputtering winds, things picked up early this week, and the venue is paying off. Here is video from the Worlds.

Frosty Defender/Challenger Relations in AC?

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-07-15 18:09

Stuart Alexander, writing in The Independent, recounts a weekend meeting in Los Angeles between Oracle Racing and the six committed, or would-be committed, challengers for America’s Cup 35. The challengerslaid down a number of peeves.

The lack of an announced venue.

The lack of San Francisco.

The lack of an announced PRO.

The plan to split the venue, possibly between hemispheres.

The absence of (my words) adult supervision of the process, with a deadline for entries mere weeks away and all the above making planning and fundraising harder than they have to be.

Stuart is a consummate veteran of Cup matters, and his information comes by way of his contacts at Ben Ainslie Racing. It’s his story, and he tells it here.

Thanks to Gilles Martin-Raget for the (slightly altered) pic.

John Rousmaniere, legendary sailor/writer on the 59º North Podcast!

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-07-15 00:04

To anybody that’s been near a sailboat, today’s guest needs no introduction. John Rousmaniere is a legendary sailor/writer whose been in the thick of the sport for over 40 years. He’s logged over 40,000 sailing miles, mostly offshore, raced at the highest levels of the sport, and written 15 books and counting on the subject. Andy met John at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club following the Newport-Bermuda Race a few weeks ago. John has been in charge of media for the past three editions of the race, and reprised his role in 2014. Then he jumped aboard the McCurdy & Rhodes designed ‘Selkie’ and sailed back to Newport! John and Andy Skyped, Andy in Sweden, John in NYC, and they chatted for almost an hour about John’s career as a writer, what it was like to sail in the ’72 Bermuda Race and infamous ’79 Fastnet Race, his motivations for writing about sailing and specifically safety at sea, and what he fears offshore. Enjoy!

Inmarsat iSatPhone 2, a solid satphone but here come Globalstar Sat-Fi & Iridium GO

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-07-14 11:00

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

A brief test of the new Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 showed it to be quite a good satellite phone. Compared to the original IsatPhone Pro I tested in 2010, the new phone locks onto both GPS and Inmarsat satellites noticably faster and the voice calls seem to sound better. I also found the screen quite readable in most conditions including direct sun, and the user interface struck me as fast and easy to get the hang of. However, if you sense some “buts” coming, you are correct. At nearly $1,000 street price, this phone is not the “game changer” promised in 2010. Also long gone are the $200 prepaid SIM cards good for 250 minutes and two years mentioned in my 2010 review; Inmarsat phone service is pretty costly these days. Perhaps more important, we are just entering an era when we can supposedly have all the services of a satphone without actually having to own another darn phone, and possibly at a lower overall cost…

Before getting into the latest on Globalstar Sat-Fi and Iridium GO, here are a couple of IsatPhone 2 screens I appreciated. At left is what you get by tapping the dedicated Call History key and then the Options soft key. So just two taps and you’re ready to add a number to contacts, text it, etc. At right is the similar Messaging History screen, quickly reached via Menu soft key and mail icon. All messages, though, are texts; you can send or receive them using an email address but they’re still limited to “approximately 1600 Latin characters or 740 non-Latin characters” including the recipient’s email address. And you have to use the phone’s alphanumeric keypad to compose texts, like an old cell phone. (The phone has Bluetooth — especially useful for a headset as its antenna needs to be carefully aimed, at least at my location — but it doesn’t support a keyboard.)

It’s apparently possible to use the IsatPhone 2 as a modem for real email and maybe even weather files, but note that Inmarsat doesn’t even mention the possibility in its marketing. This may be because once the original IsatPhone was data enabled (after my test), it turned out to be very slow. Global Marine Networks (GMN) estimates IsatPhone data speeds as follows: setup, 40-50 seconds; latency, 5 seconds; raw average down speed, 12 kbytes per minute; and raw average up speed, 6-8 kbytes per minute. That’s real slow, even compared to the slow Iridium system, which GMN rates thusly: setup, 20 seconds; latency, 1.5 seconds; raw average down and up speed: 15 kbytes per minute. Not to mention Globalstar — if you have working coverage — with 5 seconds setup, 0.25 seconds latency, and 60 kbytes per minute raw average download and upload speeds. An offshore boater wanting even minimal data services probably shouldn’t consider the IsatPhone 2, or at least will need GMN’s Redport Optimizer to squeeze usefulness out of the slow connection.

The IsatPhone 2 has dedicated tracking button which can be set up to auto send a track point every 5 to 9,999 minutes. It worked fine in my testing but it’s sent as a text or email text and does not collect to an online tracking map, like the DeLorme inReach, unless arranged via a third party. Similarly, the user has to specify their own Assistance service contact to make that button useful, as I’m being told on left screen above. (Inmarsat does offer free 505 emergency SAR dispatching, but only for FleetBroadband services including the new FleetOne.)

I photographed the New Contact screen at right above because I was surprised it didn’t include an email address field. You can add one easily enough via the Options menu, but it was another indication to me that the IsatPhone 2 is mainly designed for voice calling and texting.

When Jeff Bezos recently spent ninety minutes introducing the Amazon Fire smartphone he didn’t even mention voice calling. But while we’re all generally using our phones less and less for phone calls, that may be less true of satphones. Being out in the middle of the ocean may be exactly when the intimacy of a voice call with loved ones is most valuable. A phone call may also be the most efficient way to troubleshoot a medical or mechanical issue, especially without fast email and Google. So the fact that calls on the IsatPhone 2 sounded good and were easy to make may be quite important versus my various negatives. The Iridium Extreme I tested in 2012 is also an able voice phone, and actually a little more “global” than Inmarsat credits on its comparison list above. And now that Globalstar’s new satellites are online, maybe its satphone deserves to be on that list (it’s now marketed as the Spot Global Phone, though it’s still less global than the other two).

But what if you could use an app on your own smartphone to easily make satellite voice calls? And another app on a phone, tablet, or PC to easily manage narrow-band satellite email, downloads, and possibly limited Web browsing? That’s the promise of the Iridium GO device which we discussed here in February and which is slated to ship in a week or so. It’s also the promise of the Globalstart Sat-Fi which I was so embarassingly skeptical about in that entry! Sat-Fi is not only interestingly real — not nearly as portable as GO, but that fixed marine antenna looks good for serious offshore — but Sat-Fi is already available from GMN and other dealers, and has already earned a favorable Wired review.

Meanwhile, Iridium GO service pricing was recently revealed and it seems as aggressive as promised, ranging from long-term prepaid cards to unlimited data rates that will likely make their phone customers jealous. Globalstar doesn’t differentiate between phone and Sat-Fi rates but they seem quite competitive with GO, especially considering the much higher data speed. I look forward to hearing more reports from the field, and maybe testing these new satellite hotspots myself. Will a satellite call on my phone sound as good as the IsatPhone 2? Will making such calls be as reliable? If so, will the traditional satphone go the way of the bag phone?

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Pac Cup Away

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-07-11 20:00

Point Richmond, CA, July 11, 2014
Today was the fifth and last start for the 2014 Pacific Cup race, so all 56 competitors are on their way. The boats now heading toward Hawaii run the spectrum: Moore 24’s and the Nelson/Marek 92; double-handers and a boats with ten or more crew; first-timers like Shearwater competing with veterans like Sweet Okole and Green Buffalo; amateur sailors and professionals.

The wind conditions for the fleets are looking a little bleak at this time. The high has decided to slide south, dropping all the way down to a latitude even with San Diego and making the passage to Hawaii suitable for water skiing. Today’s starters are likely to have breeze along the coast, and will probably dive well south. The early starters, now about 800 miles out, will have few options but patience. Things appear to improve late on July 14th as the high strengthens and moves back to where it belongs, north of San Francisco.

The Latitude 38 division started today — the race’s fastest boats, with long waterlines and powerful rigs that let them scream across the Pacific at speeds undreamed of in other divisions. These are the boats that could possibly break the race’s standing record of five days, five hours, 38 minutes, ten seconds, set by Mari Cha V in 2004, although this is highly unlikely given the current forecast. The division is named for Latitude 38, the San Francisco Bay area based sailing magazine. They have been covering the Pacific Cup since the race began in 1980.

There are five boats in this division, three of them international boats that came to the start line via the Panama Canal. All are strong contenders, but there’s a lot of diversity here as well.

The biggest boat in the division is Hector Velarde’s Locura, a Nelson/Marek 92. Velarde, who hails from Lima, Peru, won fourth overall in the 2010 Pacific cup skippering Mirage, a Santa Cruz 70. The core members of Velarde’s 2010 team – including the navigator, tactician and bowman — are sailing again this year as part of Locura’s twelve man crew.

This will be the first Pacific Cup for Roy Disney’s Andrews 68, Pyewacket (formerly Pegasus, Equation, Magnitude), and only Roy’s second Pacific Cup, but this will be his twenty-second Hawaii race. And while Roy takes pride in being able to do any job on the boat, he, project manager Robbie Haines, and rigger Scott Easom have assembled a remarkably talented team including Olympic gold medalists, Volvo Ocean race and Americas Cup winners, and Hawaii race record holders. They laugh that although the youngest crew member on the boat, local Bay area sailor Dan Morris, is 25, the average age of the crew is over 50, and they have accumulated over one-hundred Hawaii races.

Max Klink, the young German owner of CARO, a Botin 65 launched in 2013, is aiming at competing in as many major regattas as he can around the world, but also enjoys cruising her with friends. She’s a dual-purpose boat with wood decks and the feeling of home, but also highly automated, all hydraulics (no grinders) and dual rudders. Two Kiwi crewmen on the boat joked that this is the first race where they will finish closer to home, not further away.

Invisible Hand, a Reichel/Pugh 63 skippered by Frank Slootman, won its division in the 2013 Transpac, and at least half of its thirteen-person crew has done the Pacific Cup before. In 2010 this boat won the Pacific Cup’s “fastest passage” award under another name (Limit) and owner.

For Scarlet Runner, the Pacific Cup is a leg on its circumnavigation around the world, bringing its Aussie crew closer to home (after a week of fun in Hawaii). This Reichel Pugh 52 from Melbourne, skippered by Robert Date, is a very successful ocean racer and the smallest boat in the division.

Race details and photos will be posted on the Pacific Cup’s website and Facebook page. You can follow the boats on the Pacific Cup website’s tracking page or the Yellowbrick app for iPad, iPhone and Android devices. Note: Yellowbrick data is delayed by six hours until the first boat reaches the 200 miles to the finish point, when the data will become live, and its position predictions are based on a boat’s latest VMG, so if someone catches a wave while being polled, their position improves. The daily tracking report on the Pacific Cup’s web site uses a two day average of VMG.

The Evils of Cockpit Flooring

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-07-11 19:35

There are many things I love about my boat.  It is a comfortable home. It sails beautifully in heavy weather. It is very pretty.  But even Papillon has its flaws.

The girls and I were playing a game in the cockpit. Stylish rolled, and the die skittered off the table. All of us shrieked and grabbed for it, but it was too late. It fell through the cockpit floor.

What, you might wonder, is the big deal? Our floor is painted aluminum with a teak grid overlay. It is a good concept: when water gets into the cockpit, it falls through the grate and disappears down the drains in the corners. Meanwhile, you have something non-slippery to stand on. Simple and practical – two of my favourite things.

But let’s think this through a little. More than water can fall through those holes. Noodles, Lego people, beads, coins, shells – down it goes. Now add some dust and hair, and you’ve got a thick mat of yuckiness coating the floor.

I made a face at the die nestled in one of the squares. The squares are too small to allow you to extract anything from the top. Instead, I had to put a finger in each of the adjacent squares and nudge the die up from underneath.

“Catch it!” I cried as it toppled out of my fingers and fell into another hole.

I washed the dust off my fingers and the die. “That’s it,” I said. “Time to clean the floor.”

Which is no big deal… as long as you have a few hours to kill.

Step one: get the floor boards out. Sounds easy, right? The floor comes in three pieces. Just lift and go and quit whining.

Not exactly.

The back boards are okay. Unscrew the removable benches, remove the upright pieces, wiggle the boards out around the hose and the throttle, and you’re done.

The main piece is a little more finicky. I sat on the port bench, lifted the table on its hinge, put my feet on the starboard bench,and rested the table on my knees.  I hooked my fingers into the grate, ignoring the dirt driving itself under my fingernails, and started to lift.  Man, that thing is heavy.  I eased the board up, inch by inch, dragging one end away from the binnacle and raising the other against the companionway.

“Stylish! Indy, I’m stuck, someone help me out.”

Stylish grabbed the end of the board as I shuffled along the bench and got a new grip. Slowly, slowly I got the board upright, and then onto the dock.  And this is what was left underneath:

Dusty, dusty dust.

It looks like there is a still a floorboard there, doesn’t it?  Nope.  Just lint and bits of paper.

Next stop: Shopvac.  There is no point washing until you have scraped off everything you can.  A broom won’t do it, because everything is glued to the floor.  I was delighted to find very little food hiding under there – a miracle, since we eat almost all of our meals in the cockpit.  My girls are growing up.

As I shut down the vacuum, Indy appeared in her bathing suit. She is keen on any activity that involves the hose, and it isn’t often we do a job that needs so much water. She sprayed down the cockpit, squirted out some soap, and was off to the races.

Indy is a fan of the scrub brush. She pushed the sludge into the corners, and then I got to do what moms do: pick it up and get rid of it. Sometimes I am sorry we have so much hair. As Indy rinsed the floor again, I saw some movement by the drain. I moved closer to get a better look, ready to kill whatever bug was trying to escape.

But it was a lizard.

Where did all of this soap come from?

As soon as I said the “L” word, Stylish materialized in the cockpit. She isn’t much for cleaning, but when it comes to animal rescue, she’s all over it. She gently scooped up the lizard and marched off down the dock to find him a better home.

We scrubbed and rinsed, scrubbed and rinsed, and finally the floor was clean.

I wrestled the boards and removable benches back in place, and we were done.

So cleeeeeaaaaan! Just the way I like it.

A few hours later, the girls and I sat down for some brie and baguette. As she gabbled about scrubbing boards on the dock, Indy casually swept some crumbs off the table and onto the floor.

I watched sadly as they drifted through the grate and settled on the aluminum below.

Roble Leads Women’s Match Racing

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-07-11 18:40

July 11, 2014

Defending champion Stephanie Roble of Wisconsin won five races straight in a brilliant opening day contesting the Women’s Match Race Championship at Oakcliff Sailing on Long Island Sound. Winds were light, and further racing was packed in as the air went calm.

Racing continues through Sunday. The prize is the Allegra Knapp Mertz Trophy plus an invitation to the open US Match Racing Championship on San Francisco Bay in October.

In second is SF Bay sailor Nicole Breault, who has past women’s world champion riding shotguh. Breault finished the day with a strong count of four wins and a loss.

The scoreboard
Roble 5-0
Breault 4-1
Hayes 3-2
Hearst 2-3
Gallo 2-3
Gill 2-3
Maxim 1-4
Barbuto 1-4

Event web site

The best sails for downwind cruising

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-07-11 01:24

What’s the difference between a drifter, a gennaker, a code zero, and a screecher? Where does a spinnaker fit in? And if you’re a cruiser, what sail should you use for downwind sailing, anyway?

There is no single “best,” because everything on a boat is a compromise, and individual styles/needs vary, but we have some opinions on the optimal choice for most cruisers.

This question came up on a women’s sailing forum I participate in recently. Because Jamie is a sailmaker, I asked him for help with a response that would be useful to differentiate the options for downwind sails. Differences between these sails aren’t difficult to understand, but get confusing because the names are mixed up or misused. I knew Jamie’d make sense of it, so he’s helped me organize this primer to provide basic general information on each sail, as well as his opinion on what’s the best for cruising purposes. Punchline: code zeroes are great for cruising. Does it cover all bases? No! What’s the catch? Keep reading!

Flying the asymmetric on Totem in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Courtesy of Jesse / SV Frances Lee

The descriptions below are for cruising context, racing applications add complexity. Putting this together was a pushme/pullyou between me and Jamie: my urge is to simplify (I’m a fan of Big Animal Pictures), Jamie wants to share detailed technical knowledge (he knows way too much about the subject). Hopefully we struck a balance, but if terms are unfamiliar, it might help to read some the definitions at bottom- or if you’re impatient, skip to the summary: What sail should you use?

 

Spinnaker

 

-     AWA: 90° (beam reaching) -180° (DDW)
-     TWS: 3 to ? (most likely 20 to 25 TWS, but can be higher if you dare)
-     Complexity: moderate to high, for experienced sailors; easier on catamarans
-     Sailcloth: nylon or polyester (not good for cruising), 0.4oz to 2.2oz per SY
-     Construction: tri-radial is best (and typical); older sails can be bi-radial or crosscut
-     Hoist/douse: with a sock (easiest) or directly from bag
-     Storage: very bulky

This is a symmetrical sail, so vertical edges are free flying and either can be luff or leech.  For monohulls, a spinnaker pole attached to tack controls the sail’s angle relative to the wind and boat. In some situations, monohulls can “free float” a spinnaker without pole. Multihulls can use a pole or free float the sail between hulls. Spinnakers have more involved rigging (sheets, guys, pole, topping lift, downhaul, halyard) and require more attention trimming, although catamarans have it easier because they can fly from the hulls and avoid a pole. Cruisers tend to over-trim to reduce the attention otherwise required, so they’re rarely used optimally. Spinnakers can be designed and built as general-purpose, or for specific wind characteristics.

Merlin’s crew estimates they used a spinnaker for 80% of the Pacific crossing. This pic of their boat above (courtesy of Emmanuel Beucher-Hall) helps show why it’s easier on a catamaran: instead of needing a pole they can fly it from each bow, using a quick release clip on one side for safety. (PSA: this beautiful boat is for sale!)

 

Drifter

 

-     AWA: 45° – 180° (DDW if poled out)
-     TWS: 1-5
-     Complexity: easy
-     Sailcloth: nylon or polyester (not good for cruising), 2oz to 3oz per SY.
-     Construction: crosscut or miter cut
-     Hoist/douse: from bag
-     Storage: very bulky

A drifter is for the lightest of winds only and the size (geometry) varies widely. It’s often attached to a stay, but can be a free flying luff with Dyneema luff line. Drifters have a very full shape to slowly bend wind around the sail. They’re relatively inexpensive, but have a very limited range of use.

Poles: not just for sailing!

Cruising chute / gennaker / MPS /asymmetric

 

-     AWA: 90°-ish (beam reaching)  to 180° (DDW) if poled out.
-     TWS: 3 to ? (most likely 20 to 25 TWS, but can be higher if you dare)
-     Complexity: moderate
-     Sailcloth: nylon or polyester (not good for cruising), 0.4oz to 2.2oz per SY
-     Construction: tri-radial (best) or bi-radial
-     Hoist/Douse: with a sock (easiest) or directly from bag
-     Storage: very bulky

Unlike spinnakers, asymmetric sails have only one vertical edge that can be the luff, unless hoisted incorrectly- which is symmetrically embarrassing! Sail shape is fuller in the front (luff) and flatter in the back (leech), like a headsail. It is easier to rig and fly than a spinnaker. In general, the tack attaches at the bow via a tack lines and has a free-flying luff. There are many geometry and shape variations based on boat/purpose/etc. but a general-purpose sail is most common. Using a spinnaker or whisker pole adds complexity (though still simpler than spinnaker setup), but helps the sail fly better. When close reaching, attaching the tack to pole give complete control of tack location. For broad reaching to DDW, attaching pole to clew helps project the sail to keep it filled and reduce collapsing.

 

Code zero / screecher

 

-     AWA: 60°-ish – 180° (DDW) if poled out.
-     TWS: 5 to ? (very sailcloth / AWA dependent – closer angles = less max wind, otherwise similar to asymmetric)
-     Complexity: easy to moderate.
-     Sailcloth: nylon or polyester (not good for cruising) or laminates (polyester and/or high modulus fibers)
-     Construction: tri-radial
-     Hoist/douse: continuous line furler (stows in bag with sail)
-     Storage: rolled up, so less bulky

Now we’re into it! Code sails (0, 1, 2, 3, etc.) are designed with very specific purpose (wind velocity/angle) for racing. A “code zero” for cruising doesn’t really fit what implied within racing. Some sailmakers are branding names (Doyle UPS, etc.) but let’s just call it a cruising code zero (CCZ). A screecher for cruising has the same general characteristics as CCZ, but for multihulls. To simplify here, they’re collectively called CCZ/S.

Asymmetric sails blend features of spinnaker and headsail to simplify flying. CCZ/S takes design another step closer to headsail than the rest: it still has a free flying luff, but geometry and shape slide closer to a genoa. This sail’s purpose is to increase effective AWA sailing range, and can approach close hauled angles, and handle a higher load (windspeed). It’s easier to fly, and takes up less space stowed. Furling is generally easy, although practice and good gear help. CCZ/S can be made with a UV cover to remain hoisted for longer periods, making it again one step easier to use.

The virtues of the CCZ/S Jamie wanted to share run for several more paragraphs, but this hopefully captures the essence.

What sail should you use?

 

Every boat, every crew, every situation are different, but Jamie offers these opinions as a general guideline. It’s not an attempt to be the gospel of downwind sail choices, but a summary to help cruisers understand the relative pros/cons in a succinct manner. Meanwhile, there are other options like double headsails, a poled out headsail, etc.

Hanna’s mainsail cover stayed on during wind-and-wing saling for at least 17 days out of their 21 day Atlantic crossing. Thanks Jan A. for this photo! 

  –     Spinnakers are too much effort for most cruising boats, although they are easier on cats. It’s best sail for deep angles or dead downwind, but DDW is a slow point of sail best minimized. If you have one, make the most of it, but if you’re shopping for a new sail, I wouldn’t recommend it for most cruisers.

  –     Drifters have a limited purpose, so aren’t usually a good choice unless you’re in an area with very little wind and endowed with a great deal of patience.

  –     Asymmetric (cruising chute/gennaker/MPS/etc.) are a step in the right direction, but their all-purpose designs, tend to limit wind velocity and angles. We have an asymmetric sail for Totem that’s gotten far less than expected: it’s either to light, too windy or the angle is too tight. (Jamie wishes we had a code zero!)

  –     CCZ/S is the best choice, for three reasons. First, they can be used across a wider range of wind speeds and angles. Second, they’re easy to set and fly. Finally, they’re more space efficient to store. Further, most cruising boats don’t spend much time beating upwind (close hauled and tacking). A CCZ/S can’t sail higher than 60°-sh degrees like a genoa, but from that angle back a CCZ/S is a better sail than a genoa; thus, for many boat eliminates the need for a genoa. Instead a CCZ/S and 110%-ish all-purpose furling headsail cover a big range of conditions

If you’re in the market for a CCZ or any sails, Jamie would love to work with you. He’s collaborating with a New Zealand sailmaker to build great sails, shipped anywhere in the world. His expertise can benefit you, and your orders help us keep cruising. Not in the market, but just have questions about sails? Feel free to get in touch and Ask the Sailmaker. And, thank you!

As always, Code Awesome readers know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Definitions

Sailmaking terms

Symmetrical – Both vertical halves (left and right if projected in front of the boat) of the sail are identical (the same geometry). Either vertical edge of the sail can be luff or leech.

Asymmetrical – All sails, except spinnakers are asymmetrical, but the general term refers to downwind sails whose vertical halves (left and right if projected in front of the boat) are not identical. There is only one luff and one leech.

Sailcloth weight – refers to the actual weight of one “sailmakers yard” (SY) of cloth. A sailmakers yard is 28-1/2” x 36”.

Crosscut – panels are run perpendicular to leech (actually to line between head/clew), across the sail.

Miter cut – a sail constructed with 2 sections, separated by the miter seem which is roughly perpendicular to the luff and intersects with clew. The leech section panels run as in a crosscut sail, the foot section panels are perpendicular to foot.

Bi-radial – Narrow panels radiating out of head to about mid-height of sail. The lower half has wide panels oriented horizontally.

Tri-radial – Narrow panels radiating out from each corner, intended to follow the load paths in the sail.

Sailing terms

Free flying luff – the luff (leading edge) of the sail is not attached to a stay or spar.

AWA – apparent wind angle, no big definition here other than to say the direction that the wind feels like it coming from while the boat is moving.

TWS – true wind speed

DDW – dead down wind, meaning wind come from directly behind the boat

Naked in Public Podcast

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-07-11 00:00

Welcome! New concept this week borrowed from Tim Ferriss and his podcast, which I’m a huge fan of (check it out). Every Friday I’ll be recording an essay of sorts – stories, opinions, ideas, Q&A if we can get some folks involved, that sort of thing. It’ll be a nice compliment to the interviews I do with guests, which will be out earlier in the week. So enjoy this story of my first experience being naked in Scandinavian-style with my wife Mia, her best friend Johanna, and my best friend Clint in the sauna in Finland.

Four Races and a Crowded Pacific

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-07-10 20:01

July 10, 2014
With three sailing races and a rowing race under way to Hawaii, the Singlehanded Sailing Society of San Francisco Bay is serving up this snapshot of how the positions looked at one recent moment. Entries in the Singlehanded Transpac started June 28 and are farthest down the track. Pacific Cup racers have been going off in stages, with a final start on Friday for the big guys. The Vic-Maui fleet working down from the north is pretty obvious, and to the south we have the rowers of the
Great Pacific Race.

Yes, there is a Vic-Maui entrant headed to San Francisco instead of Lahaina. That would be the Farr 395, Anduril. Here’s the scoop from Skipper Greg Harms: “Many thanks for offers of assistance, which we decline. We are making 6 knots to SF under storm jib and trysail, 440 miles out. E-tiller is functioning satisfactorily. Steering quadrant turning sheaves broke the mounting box tabbed to the hull, rendering any sort of repair impossible, short of a boatyard. The strong northerly winds we will have to buck are a bummer but there is no emergency. We expect to see you all in Hawaii after making SF and sorting things out.”

I’m also noting John McPhail’s left turn, laterally across and through the fleet with his J/160, Jam, to settle into the most-southern lane. I seem to remember that, in the 14-boat Cal 40 fleet of the 2005 Transpac, Sally Honey and her all-woman crew aboard Illusion did something of the same, and it worked. The Pillsbury family with Ralphie had made a big dive south from the very start, and they were gone. Ralphie was going to win the division unless it broke or sank.

The only race left was for second.

Sally won that one—Kimball

PacCup Racing – A Little Slow

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-07-10 19:25

Prior to the first send-off, based upon a weather briefing, we provided an upbeat, optimistic outlook for the San Francisco Bay-Kaneohe Bay crossing known as the Pacific Cup. Sure, there were predictions for so-so winds halfway down the course, 15 knots perhaps, but none of the slow-and-go that we’ve seen in the real deal. Now there is this:

For Immediate Release

Day Four of the Pacific Cup – Off to a Slow Start

Point Richmond, CA, Thursday, July 10, 2014 — As the fourth start day of the Pacific Cup race dawned, California coastal conditions remained a low wind challenge, and today’s starters will likely see very light air until Saturday, when the breeze begins to fill from the Northwest as the high takes shape.

The first boats to start on Sunday, the cruising division, are starting to slow down as they reach an area of lighter air. The Monday starters are closing in on the cruising boats and will also be challenged with light conditions in the near future. There’s a horse race among the three Cal 40’s which will be fun to watch.

The first division leaving San Francisco Bay for Hawaii today was the Sonnen BMW division. The boats in this division are powerful, speedy, and nimble and require a high degree of skill and teamwork to sail to their full potential – and their start was more characteristic of a bouy race than an ocean race. They will be scored using the Offshore Racing Rule (ORR) for division honors, although “Certified PHRF” will be used for the overall Pacific Cup prize.

There is a surplus of transpacific racing experience in this division, and very successful experience at that. Sebastien de Halleux’s Swazik, a Swan 45, was the overall winner (on corrected time) of the last Pacific Cup race, and Hana Ho, Mark Dowdy’s Santa Cruz 50, was second overall. Contemplating the conditions outside the Gate, de Halleux remarked, “it could be worse – I could be at the office,” a sentiment no doubt shared by many of the competitors.

The other Santa Cruz 50 in this division, J World’s Hula Girl, skippered by Wayne Zittel, alternates between the Pacific Cup in even years and the Transpac in odd years. With a crew comprised of coaches and clients assembled as a team just a few days before the race, J World’s Hula Girl has accrued a respectable record. Thomas Garnier, from Southern California, won the 2007 Transpac on his J-125, Reinrag2. There are five members of the Garniers clan on Reinrag2, making her a strong contender for the Pacific Cup’s “Family Award” as well as race honors.

Though skippering his own boat for the first time, Bob Hinden, the new owner of Surprise, a sleek Schumacher 46, has done this race twice on other people’s boats and has Kame Richards, veteran of eleven races to Hawaii on his crew. (Like several other competitor boats, Surprise also did the race under a previous owner. Steve Chamberlin, current Commodore of the 2014 Pacific Cup Yacht Club, took her in two Pacific Cups, winning fifth overall in 2004.) Steve Stroub, an experienced Bay and coastal racer but another first-time Pacific Cup skipper, has Will Paxton, who has done 11 Pacific Cups , as navigator on his Santa Cruz 37, Tiburon.

William Weinstein’s Riptide 35, Terremoto from Seattle is the smallest boat in the division. The boat is water-ballasted and can hold 1,200 lbs. of water, a real bonus the first days off the coast if it’s windy. The largest boat in the division is Delicate Balance, an Andrews 56 Custom ULDB skippered by Douglas Storkovich. Doug is a veteran of one previous Pacific Cup, but many other ocean and coastal races. His experienced crew includes Robin Jeffers, who stopped counting his crossings to Hawaii after the number topped thirty.

Tiburon and Hana Ho, say that Hamachi, Greg Slyngstad’s J-125, is the boat they will be watching. Hamachi’s well-tuned crew is mostly from Seattle, but includes navigator Trevor Baylis of San Francisco. “Hamachi” is Japanese for yellowtail, a good luck fish in Japan – and Hamachi may be a good luck boat in the Pacific Cup race.

The second division to start today was the Hokulea Multihull Division. The Hokulea is a full-scale “performance accurate” replica of a Polynesia double-hulled canoe, built in 1975, that continues to demonstrate today the feasibility and performance of these boats on long Pacific trips. It seemed an appropriate name for the Pacific Cup’s first multihull division.

The Hokulea division has two participant boats, both trimarans. Lawrence Olsen is double-handing his 35′ Walter Greene Acapella trimaran, Humdinger, with Kurt Helmgren. Rick Waltonsmith’s 37′ Transit of Venus will have four on the boat. This division is a coin-toss: one boat will be first in division, the other will be, well, second in division.

Tomorrow, Friday, July 11, is the final start of the Pacific Cup Race − the day the big boats head out. Starting times for all divisions can be found Pacific Cup’s 2014 Race Entries by Division list. Details and photos will be posted on the Pacific Cup’s website and Facebook page. You can follow the boats on the Pacific Cup website’s tracking page or the Yellowbrick app for iPad, iPhone and Android devices. Positions are delayed by six hours until the first boat reaches the 200 miles to the finish point, when the data will become live.

CA-Wide Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags?

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-07-10 19:05

A word from Save the Bay

California could finally pass a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags (SB 270) in the next few months. This is California’s fourth try at passing a bag ban. What’s different this time? Mainstream business organizations like the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the California Grocers Association are lining up behind the ban.

The fact that bag bans are finally palatable to both businesses and consumers is due in large part to the fact that Save The Bay has demonstrated the value of a consistent regional approach to regulating bags. By working locally to pass city-by-city and countywide ordinances, and even achieving collaboration between counties, we’ve proven that bans work to keep plastic out of our waterways and don’t harm businesses.

It’s remarkable that an idea once considered controversial has become mainstream so quickly. In just four years of advocacy by Save The Bay, most Bay Area municipalities have banned single-use plastic bags. The fact that every Bay Area legislator is expected to support SB 270 is validation for our work and the support you’ve given to enable it. The bill should go to the Assembly floor for a full vote in early August.

Women’s Match Racing at a Boiling Point?

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-07-10 13:54

By Kimball Livingston

“The first boat I can remember was a Vanguard 15 . . .

“When my dad bought it, he threw me right in there because he’s a big guy . . .

“Six feet, seven inches . . .

“And with his six-year-old daughter crewing, the mix was just about right.”

Meet Madeline Gill.

And I reckon her old man did OK. Madeline Gill is one of eight skippers racing this week in the US Women’s Match Race Championship, opening Friday at her second home, Oakcliff Sailing. Which is a story in itself. Which is part of Gill’s own story. Or as Oakcliff Sailing would have us know, “Before Oakcliff, there was no clear route from dinghy sailing and college racing to high-level keelboat racing. We train young, promising sailors in every aspect of the game, from seeking sponsorship to offshore navigation. Only at Oakcliff are those sailors taught the skills they need. Elsewhere, they’re just supposed to pick them up, over time.”

As Gill puts it, “The great thing about the Oakcliff program is that it doesn’t target people who know exactly what they want to do. Be a sailmaker, race around the world, run campaigns or whatever. It shows them things. All my life I had been sailing, but it hadn’t occurred to me that working in the industry was a possibility.”

Gill did her childhood sailing on the north shore of Long Island Sound. Later, at the University of Virginia, she was part of an effort that saw the sailing team go from nowheresville to qualifying for the Nationals. Of meeting Dawn Riley, Oakcliff’s executive director, she recalls, “Dawn has this thing she calls a mind map, to focus life goals and sailing goals.” With that focus and then that focus aligned, Gill’s next move after college was to go to Oakcliff, where she was introduced to the skills that are useful for skippering keelboats inshore and offshore. And she was beset with a fever for match racing.

“It’s been around a long time,” Gill says, “but match racing is up and coming in our time, right now. A lot of young people are getting involved, getting tour cards. When I was a junior sailor, the instructors at Cedar Point Yacht Club introduced me to match racing, but it wasn’t until my college years that I really got it, that this game is different from anything else in sailing. Similar, in parts, to team racing, yes, but not the same beast.” As the first woman to graduate from Oakcliff’s development program, Gill is aware that, among those getting seriously into the game of match racing, there are “not so many girls.”

And here she is.

“After graduating Oakcliff,” she says, “Jon Hammond and I proposed to the board that we create our own racing team and represent Oakcliff. As 212 Degree Racing — obviously, we chose the name because it’s the boiling point for water — we are responsible for setting our own course and finding our own sponsorship. To save money, when we travel, we recruit local crew. Fortunately for us, Oakcliff hosts the majority of match race events in the U.S. right now.”

Which brings us back to where we started, the US Women’s Match Race Championship for the Allegra Knapp Mertz Trophy. The competition will be sailed in Oakcliff’s Swedish Match 40s. Gill describes the boat as “a 40-foot keelboat that whips around like a dinghy. I think they’re my favorite boats. I grew up in dinghies, but steering a keelboat is just plain fun. These combine the best of all worlds. And there’s a lot of overhang behind the wheel station, so close crossings can be hairy. The Chicago Match Race Center has Tom 28s, which use tillers, and it’s probably a good thing that the two big match-race centers in the U.S. have boats that are very different from each other.”

Championship racing runs Friday through Sunday, with teams of six. With that many aboard, Gill observed, “The sixth person becomes officially a floater.”

Wisconsin’s Stephanie Roble, currently ranked #1 in the USA and #3 in the world, looks to be the woman to beat. Along with engraving on the Allegra Knapp Mertz Trophy, winning earns a slot at the open US Match Race Championship to be sailed October 3-5 on San Francisco Bay. The 2013 winner, Jennifer Wilson of Chicago, is not competing, but two-time past winner Liz Baylis will be crewing this time for Nicole Breault of San Francisco. Other past winners include names you know: Sally Barkow, Genny Tulloch, Anna Tunnicliffe-Funk, Cory Sertl, Debbie Capozzi, Betsy Allison . . .

The Molly Riley shot below depicts a men’s race, but for the record, this is the look of Swedish Match 40s. By Sunday, I would expect we’ll have plenty of images of women in these boats.

A DOSE OF REALITY

Madeline’s day job for the summer is coaching junior sailing at Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club (“near enough to Manhattan to be convenient, but a world away”), which goes full circle on her kid time at Cedar Point Yacht Club, where six-foot, seven-inch Harrison Gill is the 2014 vice commodore. Sponsorship is just not easy to come by, pending a few high-profile successes. Nor is certainty in life.

At the University of Virginia, Madeline studied environmental sciences—ecology, hydrology, geology, atmospherics—and she could be going back that direction some day. Meanwhile, that background places her smack-dab in line for the sort of conundrum so many of us face in one way or another. She relates, “Dawn set up a community collaboration session about how to tap wind resources for power. That led to discussions about offshore wind farms, and there I’m stuck. The ecologist in me wants to see us using what we have. The sailor in me doesn’t want to have to slalom through a minefield of wind turbines to race around Block Island.”

To quote a certain, late, great CBS anchorman, And that’s the way it is . . .

Unlocking the Ocean

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-07-09 18:51

Via Sailors for the Sea

By Paul Cooper, CARIS USA, and John A. Hersey, SURVICE Engineering

Smart ocean planning using crowdsourced data

The marine and coastal zones of the world host a growing number of overlapping and at times competing uses and activities. The commercial, recreational, cultural, energy, scientific, conservation, security, and other interests of these users drive our ocean priorities. These include the protection of life and property, securing renewable energy resources, developing and sustaining ocean productivity, supporting national security and of course ensuring its enjoyment by recreational boaters.

Smart ocean planning helps guide these priorities and creates a program that organizes the demands placed on the ocean by industry and individuals. Smart ocean planning is an adaptive, integrated, ecosystem-based planning process that uses sound science and good data. It is developed for analyzing current and anticipated use of offshore, near shore and coastal space (see Figure 1). In practical terms, ocean planning provides a public process to better determine how the ocean and coasts are sustainably exploited and protected now and for future generations.

Smart ocean planning provides the evidence to support plans for development in the most suitable sites for a range or class of activities. It provides the information that will reduce conflicts among different users, reduce environmental impacts, facilitate compatible uses, and preserve critical ecosystems. Some examples of successful ocean planning include moving shipping lanes outside of Boston Harbor to prevent hitting whales and protecting the coral reefs of the Florida Keys.

Limits on ocean research capabilities

Given the size and extent of the ocean, the limited worldwide oceanographic fleet cannot adequately document navigation and environmental hazards, especially in support of smart ocean planning dynamics. Over the past several years, the scientific community has begun supplementing the work of these ships with fixed sensors. In the United States, the National Science Foundation Ocean Observing Initiative and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Integrated Ocean Observing System are establishing permanent surface and seafloor installations that allow for constant and persistent monitoring of ocean processes. The drawback is that these fixed-location sensors are relatively expensive to operate, limiting how widely they can be dispersed.

Your afternoon on the water can support smart ocean planning

Every citizen in the United States can help with smart ocean planning by encouraging legislation that supports it. However, recreational boaters and those that work in the marine industry have the opportunity to also contribute much needed data, often using the sensors already installed on their boats.

ARGUS™ is a patented, autonomous, crowdsource bathymetry (the study of underwater depth) system that provides continuous, automated acquisition and processing of depth data. ARGUS™ interfaces with vessels’ existing GPS and depth-finding systems and automatically processes the information for both data aggregation and sharing across the web. Originally demonstrated as part of a NOAA research grant, ARGUS™ has processed over 100 million depth soundings from an international fleet ranging from 18-foot bass boats to 1000-foot commercial cruise liners. The wide spectrum of users provide representation for the maritime community in the ocean planning process, and provides valuable data in support of this process for areas that may not have been surveyed in decades.

The National Ocean Policy highlights the importance of stakeholder participation throughout ocean planning. ARGUS data helps track the uses of different types of boats in Baltimore Harbor and provides indications as to the current state of shipping channels. At right, a chart of Baltimore harbor.

ARGUS™ in action

ARGUS™ is being used to great effect in one of the busiest waterways in the United States, the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net is an online social media forum focused on the ICW, and is a treasure trove of useful reports and articles provided by and consumed by ICW cruisers. The website informs others via chart displays, enhanced with access to information such as fuel prices, marina accommodations, and navigation hazards like misplaced buoys and shoaling. These reports are also enhanced by the millions of water depth measurements made by cruisers during their routine ICW transits, autonomously delivered and processed through the ARGUS™ crowdsource bathymetry innovations of SURVICE Engineering and CARIS USA. What was previously a fleeting number on a chartplotter screen, that may or may not have been looked at and interpreted, is now useful knowledge thanks to this pioneering partnership.

How do you know that data is trustworthy?

We can all appreciate the value of repeated measurements. If my boating neighbours and I consistently measure the same depth in a location, we become confident in that depth measurement. The concept of “trusted partner” development strives to advance the crowdsource bathymetry process by certifying the incoming data and maximizing the accuracy and utility of the aggregated solutions. This is being done through the application of ever-improving hardware and scientific expertise in the field of hydrography, fueled by academic interests in big data and information visualization. Continued development will soon make information gathered from crowdsource bathymetry better than the pre-1940s “soundings” that are the basis for the majority of modern charts.

The concept of trusted partners is the perfect complement to the limited availability of both ships and fixed ocean sensors, enlisting ships of opportunity from the maritime industry along with recreational boats, to collect a wide range of oceanographic and meteorological data. This is a powerful and practical approach that inexpensively leverages an unlimited, distributed workforce that frequents, as well as relies on, the marine and coastal zones of interest

The image at right depicts global vessel traffic, which is highest in the same coastal zones in which smart ocean planning is most needed. Leveraging these vessels, of which there are millions available, insures that mariners are involved in an ocean planning process that is based on scientific measurements rather than uninformed policies.

More opportunities

Very localized weather and other environmental data from this worldwide ocean-going fleet can also be input to weather models or used for confirming the data supplied by satellite systems. Better forecasting combined with real-time dissemination to the vessel bridge will provide safest routing as vessels negotiate ocean storms. Additionally, real-time updates from the ship ahead can provide following vessels with advance warning of conditions.

Trusted partnerships are self-enabling opportunities for industry to not only collectively reap the benefit of each other’s measurements, but also to collectively influence longer-term smart ocean planning with trusted data. Industry’s contributions are matched by scientists, researchers, and the public at large, to complete the partnership. Making involvement in trusted partnerships a part of a company’s corporate social responsibility policy demonstrates a theme of contributing to society. Such responsible companies are generally welcome neighbors and are looked upon favourably by local consumers and environmental advocates.

The most effective ocean planning will come from a mature and growing marine spatial data infrastructure of traditional data sources complemented by trusted partners contributing to the greater purpose. Such partnerships will speed progress toward better environmental management, and provide for unprecedented sharing of information and costs across the base of ocean users.

About the Authors

Paul R. Cooper – CARIS USA
Mr. Cooper is the Vice President of CARIS USA and the current President of the Hydrographic Society of America. He is also Vice President of the U.S. National Section of the Pan American Institute of Geography and History and a board member of the Mid Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observing System (MARACOOS).

John A. Hersey – SURVICE Engineering
Mr. Hersey is the Research and Technology Team Leader for SURVICE’s Applied Technology Operation, focused on the development of innovative solutions to meet the requirements of Federal and commercial customers.

The Next Big Thing

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-07-09 13:32

What is it about a full decade of striving?

It took Richard Jenkins a full decade of building and redesigning and rebuilding and rolling the dice to set his landsailing speed record of 126.2 knots.

It took Paul Larsen a decade and change to set his 500-meter water record at 65.45 knots with Sailrocket 2, a name that does not reflect the umpteen iterations, crashes, pratfalls and redesigns to both of the Sailrocket platforms over the years. Larsen learned very well what it means to go airborne in a machine that does not fly, and does not have a “landing” protocol. (Video)

What of the next decade? Below, Paul looks back upon the “brilliant, unrestricted canvas” that he faced in setting a 500-meter record—that’s Sailrocket 2 depicted to the right—and he thinks forward to the next big thing, an extrapolation of the same concept, He’s fishing for funding for a next-generation ocean-going speedster, and I don’t mind giving some free publicity to a man who has proved his mettle and then some.

Wed, 9 Jul 14
The Sailrocket team have been developing their concepts for an offshore sailing boat which utilizes the innovation that helped them smash the outright world speed sailing record. They believe the craft they are working on can re-define what high performance wind driven boats can do across the oceans of the world.

In November 2012, the Sailrocket speed sailing programme* delivered on 11 years of dedicated work. Whilst the last run stunned the sailing world, the deep satisfaction within the team came from the fact that the run proved not only that their theories were sound and the numbers were good… but that they, as a team, could turn them into reality.

Although speed sailing provided a great environment to demonstrate both the innovative concepts and the teams potential, the next challenge should be to demonstrate its practical application.

Whilst they will reference today’s benchmark boats, the team is looking much further down the track. They believe that these proven concepts can be used to make faster, more stable craft that can be practically sailed from A to B in the broad range of conditions you can expect to find offshore.

Paul Larsen – Our passion with sailing goes beyond just a sporting pursuit. We have a deep fascination to see what is possible with the forces of wind and water. Speed sailing offered us a brilliant unrestricted canvas. We were free to use whatever designs we figured could best get the job done. We chose a concept that could take on the challenges of the future rather than just aiming at the standards of the day. Whilst the boats we created were pretty impractical one trick ponies, they did a great job of proving a point. We learnt a lot more than just how to go fast. We know the core concepts that yielded such a huge jump in outright speed are also very efficient, stable and scalable. We know how they can be applied to ocean crossing yachts for similar gains.

After finally achieving such a long sought after goal, I personally wondered if I could muster the energy and motivation to go again. I gave myself time to let the answer come naturally. I looked around at what was out there and realised that there is so much to be done and that we are perfectly placed to take it on. Ideas that had been pushed to the side in pursuit of outright speed came flooding back. Ideas became drawings and drawings became working models. We started putting numbers into our well refined velocity prediction programs (VPP’s) and the ones that came back out are very exciting. They represent a big jump forward on many levels and I can’t ignore them. I sat there with the first scale model of Sailrocket 2 on my living room floor. Next to it was the bigger model of our next concept. We had lived and breathed every detail of turning that first model into full-scale, 65+ knot reality and it thrilled me to think that we could do the same with the new numbers on the bigger one.

On one hand it is still just a model and a concept… and a bunch of numbers in a VPP… but what it really represents is much more than that. It’s a road that beckons. On a personal level, the value of our last success was way more than the rush of the final ride or the name on the certificate that hangs on the wall. It was the thrill of the chase that we lived with every day. It was the feeling that every day we were closer to making a better world. That is what we crave and that is why when we climb one mountain we look for another.

A large part of the challenge ahead will be in navigating the path between what is theoretically possible and what is practically achievable. Whilst we need to take bold steps, they need to be done in a manner that allows logical progression. This cannot be a simple leap of faith. We have good reason to believe that the new craft provides the perfect platform to do this. It aims to be all round fast in all the conditions you can expect to encounter at sea… with a few big tricks up its sleeve. The project will be structured in a manner that gives our choices the best chance to demonstrate their merits… and then demonstrate them in the most convincing way possible.

The main purpose of sharing our plans now is because we need to find partners whose passion can help carry the burdens of the journey ahead. On one hand I would prefer to keep developing the concept in secrecy but the fact is that we now need the resource that others can bring. We have no doubt that there are people out there we have never met who understand and would like to share our journey.

It will take time, money and patience to get where we are going. Our team can only bring so much to the table however we know there are individuals and companies out there who are as keen as us to take on the responsibility of the future and make it happen… not wait for someone else to maybe do it one day. We need to connect with them.

The response we got for our speed sailing achievement was very emotive. The respect and offers of support from people we have the utmost admiration for was humbling. I realised that this journey we are on can be a fantastic focal point for a lot of very talented people to do what they are really passionate about. This will be difficult and our resolve will be tested. We need to do our homework very carefully and choose well who we travel with.

For now we will hold back on the specific targets we are aiming at and what the full-scale craft will actually look like. We need to have more in place before either is revealed. We know already what we are proposing is possible. The journey we are offering is to be the ones to make it real.

*Sailrocket 2 currently holds the outright world speed sailing record at 65.45 knots. She is designed and structured to go much faster. The project has no further sponsorship obligations and remains an ideal platform to develop the next generation of high speed foils.

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