Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Back to new boats - Vendee Globe

So Alex bust his starboard foil shortly after I last posted about the VG. While there are rumors that he has a spare and we haven't seen the damage he definitely slowed down here and there.

This has evolved into between Hugo Boss and Armel Le Cleac'h's Banque Populaire who has been holding a narrow (10-20nm) lead for the last couple of days.

At the moment they are blasting along on port but about to hit starboard tack again (the weather in the above image is at +3hrs).

At which point Hugo Boss will be foiling again. Watch this to see how excited Alex is with the idea...

Yes that's right, VERY.

100 years strong and still going strong

And still quite stunning!

Friday, November 18, 2016

New Boats - Vendee Globe Week Two.

This is a really nice summary of the first couple of weeks of the Vendee.

I'm really happy to see Alex leading the race. He comes over as a really nice guy and fingers crossed that his boat holds together through the pounding coming their way as they enter the southern ocean.

If you're not a sailor and you're reading this these guys are racing, solo, around the world. This will take several months and is a massive test of the boat, their minds and their bodies. These boats are stripped of all comforts and full of technology. They are lightened to the max and the skippers have to coach them through the oceans. Once the winds are above 20 knots they are often reducing power to the maximum level they think the boats can take.

When things go wrong, which they do all the time, they have to fix them. They try and do this while keeping the boat going at the highest speed they can for the situation.

They are technicians, tacticians and endurance athletes of the highest level. They have to change massive sails in the dark while pounding the oceans after weeks of little sleep.

Their teeth get knocked out, they break bones, they stitch themselves up and keep going if they can.

Condolences to Tanguy, I've enjoyed his prior races and it's sad to see him forced out so early.

Props to Hugo Boss for their continued sponsorship and just how smart their boat looks!

Weekly Highlights #2 : Welcome on the highroad... by VendeeGlobeTV

Friday, November 11, 2016

Old Boats

With the Vendee Globe hotting up its nice to look back to some older designs.

The helm balance struck me on this, something I struggle with on Kraken who requires a lot of work from the main trimmer to keep her on her feet.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Vendée Globe foiling on Hugo Boss

With the Vendée Globe underway now this talk about Hugo Bosses foils - actually their original design after issues with their second attempt - has some extra relevance.

Watching the start I was pretty impressed at the steep heel angles of the lead boats and while the southern oceans should be downwind and all about boat structural stability I wonder if Boss' ability to sail flatter upwind will be a boon for Alex's fatigue levels during the race.

With awesome race tracking, new foiling tech and a track history in great public relations - lots of skippers interviews and feedback this race is one of the best long distance races to track and this iteration is one of the most fascinating yet.

Will the foilers speed to the finish or shake their boats and skippers to pieces????

Monday, October 17, 2016

36.7 Sailors - Use the Cheek Blocks

A couple of regattas back I gotten bitten by the change bug. We changed our foredeck to drop the pole to the deck (typical in SD) rather than into the boom bag to see if it went faster. We stopped using the cheekblocks to lead the sheets because twists in the line would snag there. We had some crew changes - just down to who was available.

And going into the regatta thinking could be a top three finish we came out second to last of seven boats.

The main issues were:

  • Cheek blocks, without them you get overrides, more on one side than the other, and more so as the wind rises. Out practice had been with a slightly smaller sail in lighter winds. There could also be a technique issue here but the sailors on board were good sailors so I'm inclined to think the problem is worth avoiding - use the cheekblocks!
  • Dropping pole to deck. We've got pretty good with the pole in the bag but during the Yachting Cup (2nd place overall) we'd concluded that the bag was slowing our douses a little bit. Going to pole on deck worked well in a practice but when tried in anger, while pushing douses as late as possible (errr too late!) things went wrong.
So, don't change too much, especially when things were working okay.

We changed things back for the CYC fall regatta and placed 3rd, one hole in the wind off second and a hole in the wind plus a little pointing off first - think our genoa is getting a bit old.

We definitely made a few other mistakes and at times in the lighter winds other boats had that "we've got more air" look about them downwind.

The future of sailboats

It's increasingly concerning to me that sailboats represent such a waste of resources. This is actually self harming to the industry as well, we end up with large numbers of basically unwanted sailboats of ancient designs clogging up our marinas, and looking extremely dated to the newer generations who are increasingly aware of both material impacts on our environment and what modern designs are out there.

So the two main sailor types the "lets get out into our environment"s and the "lets do something exciting"s are both put off.

No wonder sailing has an identity crisis.

There is some hope out there though - this last weekend I was talking to some fellow Krakheads about my misgivings on the sport and right after SA ran an article on some people who care.

Personally I'd be very interested in a recyclable SeaScape 27 or similar. A go fast go clean machine.

So, there's a market of one if anyone wants to build it!