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Displaying items by tag: solo sailing

Garry Crothers, the indomitable 64-year-old one-armed solo sailor from Lough Swilly Yacht Club, hopes to get back to his Lough Foyle berth in Derry on Saturday after completing his Coronavirus Lockdown-enforced 3,500 mile marathon from the Caribbean in his Ovni 435 Kind of Blue.

This morning (Thursday) he is enjoying pleasant conditions as Kind of Blue passes the coast of Connacht far offshore, but as the day draws on the weather will deteriorate from the west, although the winds will at least remain in a favourable direction. While every attempt to comply with social-distancing restrictions will be in place at Foyle Marina as he reaches home, it is going to be a very emotional moment for his family and friends and many supporters when Kind of Blue comes up the River Foyle at the conclusion of this remarkable achievement.

Garry Crothers – with unsettled conditions in the Atlantic, it has taken a month to get back to ireland from the CaribbeanGarry Crothers – with unsettled conditions in the Atlantic, it has taken a month to get back to Ireland from the Caribbean

Published in Cruising

Fancy a little distraction? I've decided to show you some of the steps that we took to reduce waste during last year's Solitaire du Figaro writes Irish Solo Sailor Tom Dolan

Now more than ever we all need to think about what we buy, where it comes from and where it goes afterwards.

Snacks are difficult to choose; they need to be high in calories while at the same time being tough enough to survive banging around the boat for a couple of days. 

So, we can quickly get lazy when shopping and buy things that are triple wrapped in single-use plastic, things that we wouldn't normally eat on land. So why do differently at sea? It took a bit of searching. 

I found this great chocolate called 'Grain de Sail', which is manufactured in Brittany. The raw materials (green coffee and cocoa) come mainly from the Caribbean and Central America and are sourced equitably. The company are building their own sailing boat in order to transport the raw materials under sail! Their packaging is made entirely of paper and to top it all off it is very, very good! 

I bought dried and fresh fruit and stored it in reusable Tupperware boxes along with cold meats and portions of cheese all from the local market or shop and again wrapped in paper.

  • Sacrifices: Babybel, Snickers and penguin bars!
  • What I saved: A little under one small bin bag full of single-use plastic packaging
  • Shopping list: Lots and lots of reusable Tupperware!
Published in Solo Sailing

The Coronavirus outbreak has caused French organisers of the Solo Maitre Coq and the Transat AG2R La Mondiale to delay both events and with it the plans of Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan for an Irish bid in the Transatlantic Race. 

For now though, County Meath's Dolan, who is based in France, must sit and wait to find out how the French Offshore Racing Championship will be reorganised before the Solitaire du Figaro race begins this summer.

"I'm keeping busy with physical exercises, weather classes offered by Lorient Grand Large and a lot of paperwork", Dolan said on social media.

Also as Afloat reported earlier, Dolan is expected back to Irish waters for trialling with a new female sailing partner in a bid to represent Ireland in the World Offshore Sailing Championships. As also reported previously, these trials will now be sailed as part of June's SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race from Wicklow.

Published in Solo Sailing
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On Saturday, the 22nd February, Bill Hatfield became the oldest man to sail around the world solo and non-stop. But Bill is not only the oldest man to circumnavigate the world solo, nonstop and unassisted at age 81, he’s now also secured two official records regardless of age, as confirmed by the World Sailing Speed Record (WSSR) Council on the 11th March 2020.

The WSSR Council announces the establishment of a new World Record Reference Time:

Time: Around the World Westabout. Singlehanded 40ft
Yacht: “L’Eau Commotion”. Northshore 38. Monohull
Name: Bill Hatfield. AUS
Dates: 8th June 2019 to the 22nd February 2020
Start time: 02; 04; 10 UTC on 08/06/19
Finish time: 00; 28; 19 UTC on 22/02/20
Elapsed time: 258 days 22 hours 24 minutes and 9 seconds
Distance: 21600 NM
Average speed: 3.48 kts
Comments:
No previous record - hence this will be listed as an “Initial Benchmark Time”

When asked to confirm that this record is regardless of age, Bill wrote, “Yes it’s the first Westabout circumnavigation [solo nonstop] from Australia and the first Westabout circumnavigation from any country [solo nonstop] in a vessel under 40 feet regardless of age.”

“I really didn’t set out for it to be a big media thing. A few people said I must do a blog and, because I did it every day, I rather selfishly thought if I didn’t do it everyday people would take seriously any EPIRB activation and I did get a few alerts when I got closer to land than I should have. The girl in black (see photo) is my daughter, Katherine Ann Lambros with whom I race in National Masters rowing regattas in a double scull, the lady on my right is Angie Bell MP, Federal Member for Moncrieff and the upraised arm is that of my grandson Constantine Lambros.”

Published in Solo Sailing
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Solo sailor Jeanne Socrates, a member of the Ocean Cruising Club (OCC), has sailed into Victoria BC harbour on the west coast of Canada on 7th September after successfully completing another single-handed unassisted nonstop circumnavigation. Jeanne set sail from Victoria on the 3 October 2018 on NEREIDA with the intent of becoming the oldest person to sail alone around the world. She is 77 years old.

NEREIDA had severe mainsail damage in the Cape Horn area which took a long time to repair, suffered a knockdown SW of New Zealand after which she had to enter Timaru Bay in NZ to make repairs, and later lost her headsail in the North Pacific.

Jeanne’s single-mindedness and determination to complete this voyage has culminated in a successful conclusion and she received a warm welcome back from many of her local supporters. All OCC members offer Jeanne their congratulations and Bravo Zulu!

According to Marine Traffic, NEREIDA arrived at Port VICTORIA on 2019-09-07 at 16:22 Local Time (2019-09-07 23:22 UTC).

Published in Solo Sailing
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Barnacle growth was the root cause of Golden Globe Race Finnish skipper Tapio Lehtinen's slow solo circumnavigation but the 110-day difference between his and Race winner Jean-Luc Van Den Heede's time was definitely enjoyable.

"I have certainly got my money's worth from the entry fee." Tapio had joked with Race organiser Don MacIntyre before his return to Les Sables d'Olonne at 20:21hrs on Sunday. "This is the best-organised race I have ever taken part in...And the most selfish thing I have ever done... It is the fulfilment of a life-long dream...I'm not enrolling myself just yet, but yes, absolutely, I would do it again!" the 61-year-old from Helsinki said at his press conference today. 

"Yet asked what was the lowest moment in the race, the answer appeared to cover several months. "I had been sailing neck-and-neck with Istvan Kopar across the Indian Ocean when suddenly he started to get away. I thought there must be something wrong - perhaps a fishing line caught in the propeller - and dived overside during a calm spell before the Hobart film drop to investigate. It was not a rope or net, but barnacles growing all over the hull. When I first saw them on the bottom, I knew my race was over."

Other skippers had taken the opportunity to clean their hulls during their compulsory 24 hour stop in Tasmania, but by the time Tapio and his Gaia 36 Asteria reached Storm Bay Australian authorities had put a stop to it. Careening hulls had to be undertaken beyond the 200-mile territorial waters.

Tapio readily admits to an aversion to sharks, so when he prepared to dive overside during a calm period after leaving Tasmania he recalled "I was tying my improvised boarding ladder to the boat in preparation of diving overboard and spotted this huge shark swim alongside the boat - and that was the worst day of my life."

Tapio was accompanied the last 10 miles to the finish by Bernard Moitessier's famous yacht JOSHUA a French entry in the original Golden Globe Race 50 years before. "I sense the smell of Tahiti in Les Sables" Tapio shouted across in reference to Moitessier's decision to foresake the success of finishing by continuing towards a second circumnavigation 'to save my soul' as he put it, before finally dropping anchor off the Pacific island.

Published in Solo Sailing
Tagged under
31st January 2019

Solo Sailing in Irish Waters

I enjoyed watching world sailing history being made this week as 73-year-old Jean-Luc Van Den Heede became the oldest man ever to complete and win a solo non-stop round-the-world race. After 212 days alone at sea he won the Golden Globe Race, finishing in Les Sables d’Olonne in France from where he had started last July and which is also his home port.

I enjoy a little bit of solo sailing myself and, considering the number of top solo sailors from France and the races which start from there, the sport and that section of it get a lot of support.

Watching the big blue spinnaker push Jean Van Den Heede in his 36-foot. Rambler, across the finish line on Tuesday morning in a turbulent sea, accompanied by a flotilla of boats, with hundreds of spectators ashore, I thought - “that should make a point about ageism and underline that sailing really is a “sport for all ages…”

The Golden Globe Race marked its 50th anniversary and the single-handed French Figaro Race, including Irish sailors Tom Dolan and Joan Mulloy will mark its golden jubilee in Irish waters this Summer, with the opening leg of the three-race series from Nantes to Kinsale and a start from Kinsale to Roscoff. Other Irish solo sailors have also shown their abilities internationally.

"solo sailing here is still subject to Marine Notice No.24 issued in 2005"

But solo sailing here is still subject to Marine Notice No.24 issued in 2005, thirteen years ago, warning about solo sailing, which is still in effect. At least when I searched the Department’s website this week, I couldn’t find any indication that it had been withdrawn.

Marine notice solo sailingMarine Notice No.24 issued in 2005

It was controversial at the time, being interpreted as imposing a ban on solo sailing,, though it didn’t say exactly that. It warned about the requirement under the ColRegs – the International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions At Sea to “keep a proper lookout by sight and hearing at all times….”

I like a bit of quiet solo sailing myself aboard my Sigma 33 Scribbler in Cork Harbour and I’m very careful to keep a proper lookout, as there are a lot of commercial shipping movements in the harbour which have right-of-way. I’m also careful of insurance warnings I’ve seen about sailing alone. I’ve met like-minded sailors on the water and seen some racing solo when they couldn’t get crew.

Contrasting that with what I heard Tom Dolan describe in his series of club talks, makes me marvel at the ability of solo sailors.

Marine Notice No.24 of 2005 took a stern stance if a proper lookout wasn’t kept. The issue seems to be whether single-handers can do so effectively, especially when needing sleep. But one Coast Guard statement said that venturing to sea or on the water alone was “neither safe nor conducive to good seamanship."

The Marine Notice applied to “all vessels on the high seas and in all waters connected therewith, navigable by seagoing vessels.” That would include inshore waters and Cork Harbour and my Sigma is, potentially, “seagoing…”

Safety on the water must be taken seriously and an accident while alone can result in a dangerous situation.

The regulation is a warning about solo boating, including sailing, in Irish waters.

Are you aware of it?

Listen to the Podcast here

Published in Solo Sailing

With less than 1,700 miles back to the Golden Globe Race finish in Les Sables d'Olonne, 2nd placed Dutchman Mark Slats has sliced a further 393 miles out of Jean-Luc Van Den Heede's lead In terms of distance to finish over the past 8 days. At 08:00 UTC today, the gap was just 49 miles, Slats having gained 205 miles in the past 48 hours.

Jean-Luc, whose Rustler 36 Matmut has led the Golden Globe Race since passing the Cape of Good Hope and at one stage held a 2,000 advantage, has seen his lead being whittled away ever since the 73-year-old Frenchman suffered a knock-down and sustained damage to his mast during a Southern Ocean storm in the South Pacific in November 1.

Van Den Heede still holds a weather advantage and once passed the influence of the Azores high-pressure system, should be first to benefit from the reaching winds that will give him an easier passage north towards the Bay of Biscay.

But Slats is pushing hard despite a few problems of his own. In a satellite call to Race HQ on Monday, the Dutchman reported for the first time that he ran out of fresh water supplies a week ago, and is now using his emergency desalinator to turn salt water into fresh. It is hard work. An hour of pumping with both hands produces just 750ml of water - barely a cup full. The average daily intake is 2.5litres - 3 hours pumping!

Barnacles

He also reported that during a period of calm three weeks ago he had dived on Ohpen Maverick's hull and completely cleaned the bottom of growth and slime. `'It was perfect" he said yesterday. So imagine his surprise when he dived again five days ago to find the hull infested with barnacles once more. "The biggest are 3.5cm long, but most are about 1.5cms. They are growing all over the hull." His first efforts to clean the bottom again were thwarted by the sudden appearance of a 3.5m shark, but he will use the next period of calm to have another go. "So far, this must have cost me about 50 miles."

Third placed Estonian skipper Uku Randmaa whose Rustler 36 One and All, has also been beset by barnacle growth since crossing the Indian Ocean, is today caught in calms in the South Atlantic, some 3,000 miles behind the leading duo. He dived yesterday, and reported: "I'm swimming with dophins." We hope he recognises the difference between these mammals and their more agressive distant cousins!

800 miles to the South, American/Hungarian Istvan Kopar is making great progress northwards in his Tradewind 35 Puffin, seemingly having overcome his self-steering problems.

As is Finland's Tapio Lehtinen aboard his Gaia 36 Asteria who avoided the worst of one storm last week and is attempting to outrun another today. Now within 1,700 miles of Cape Horn but still beset with barnacle growth, he was making 4.3 knots today. Behind him though is the sceptre of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's Suhaili catching up in their virtual race round the world. Suhaili's relative position from 50 years ago was 512 miles behind a week ago. Today, the distance is nearer 280!

Igor Zaretskiy postpones restart from Albany

Back in December barnacle growth and rigging issues forced 6th placed Russian skipper Igor Zaretskiy to stop in Albany, Western Australia where a medical examination found a continuation of a heart condition, and he flew home to Moscow for further tests. Would this be the end of his challenge?

The good news is that his doctors and team believe it is not, but time to re-start within the Summer window in the Southern Ocean has run out. Igor's plan now is to restart in the Chichester Class sometime in October, to coincide with the Southern hemisphere Summer and complete what he started. In a statement, he says: “There is a natural and always reasoned rule: fight to the end. Until you see the buoy at Les Sables d’Olonne, the race cannot be stopped”

2022 GGR entrant Robin Davie returned to Falmouth on Saturday four days after he was posted overdue, and largely unaware of concerns for his safety. UK Coastguard had issued an All Ships Alert for his Rustler 36 C'EST La VIE after his brother reported him overdue, which he answered late Friday night. Explaining his delay, Robin said: "Faced with calms and very light head winds, I decided to take a long tack out into the Atlantic and back to test the boat in these conditions. We know that this race is won and lost, not in gale force winds, but when they are light so I used the time to test myself and the boat. Because these boats don't have autopilots and rely on wind-vanes to steer by, we followed the wind on a circuitous route that extended the distance from a 300 mile direct course to nearer 700 miles. I was well out of radio range, and it was not until I was 25 miles SW of the Scilly Isles that I first heard the alert."

Ham radio Net

Sailors have been making use of the amateur Ham radio net for decades. Competitors in the Nedlloyd Spice Race from Jakarta to Rotterdam back in 1979 were surprised to find that King Hussain of Jordan was an avid amateur operator and regular participant on their net. National telecommunication authorities have often turned a deaf ear to unlicensed operators using made-up call signs while at sea. But this may be coming to an end following a warning from one National regulator to a GGR skipper. They warn: "You use an amateur callsign and are making connections with amateur radio operators. The call sign letters are not registered, and thus illegal. I ask you to stop. If you have a legal amateur callsign then I urge you to present it".

Fair warning both to unregistered GGR skippers and to legitimate Ham radio operators communicating with them. In Britain, the Ham Radio net is controlled by OFCOM, which recently revoked more than 500 licences for non-compliance. This includes communicating with unregistered Ham radio operators. The maximum penalty is 6 months in prison, a £5,000 fine and loss of their licence.

GGR skippers have been using this free communication system to gain weather forecasts and maintain contact with their teams, which is allowed under the Race Rules, It is the responsibility of each skipper to ensure that they abide by National and International regulations. Such transgressions may not affect the outcome of the Race unless broadcasts have included position reports of GGR yachts which are not allowed. Should that be proved, then skippers face an immediate 48 hour penalty for the first offence, followed by disqualification.

Are you up for a Celestial Adventure with the 2018 Golden Globe Rce? GGR has partnered with RUBICON3 to send two ex-Clipper 60 yachts across the Atlantic on an adventure sail training and Celestial Navigation training exercise. You can join them and return home as a qualified Celestial Navigator. The first boat is full and only a few spots remain on the second for an end of March crossing. GGR will follow the voyage and profile the crew on Facebook. Susie Goodall was an instructor with RUBICON3 when she first heard about the GGR and they sponsored her sextant. Can you do it? YES YOU CAN! and why not.

Published in Solo Sailing
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Three days after the UK Coastguard first broadcast an 'All Ships Alert' for British solo yachtsman Robin Davie, the 67-year old sailor made contact late Friday night to say that all was well onboard. He expects to reach Falmouth, his home port, later today.

As Afloat.ie reported previously, Davie, who has completed three solo circumnavigations and is preparing to enter the 2022 Golden Globe Race, was three days overdue on a 300-mile solo cross-Channel voyage from France back to Falmouth. British and French Coastguard services have been broadcasting an 'an all ships' alert since Wednesday morning.

Davie made contact with rescue authorities at 22:00 on Friday saying all was well aboard his 36ft yacht C'EST La VIE and gave his position 25 miles south-west of the Scilly Isles.

"This is fantastic news" said Robin's brother Rick Davie who had begun to fear the worst. "I am so grateful for all the help and publicity provided by the Coastguard services and the media for publicising this.

Details remain sketchy, but it appears that faced with very light headwinds, Davie decided to take one long tack out into the Atlantic well out of radio range and the main shipping routes. rather than zig-zag upwind on the direct route north to Brest and across to Falmouth.

A more detailed account will be published on Monday once Robin Davie reaches his home port.

Published in Solo Sailing
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Falmouth Coastguard has issued an 'All Ships Alert' for British solo yachtsman Robin Davie, now three days overdue on a 300-mile solo cross-Channel voyage from Les Sables d'Olonne, France back to his home port of Falmouth in Cornwall.

The 67-year old experienced sailor, who has successfully completed three solo circumnavigations, set out from the French port at 10:00 on Saturday 5th January, telling his brother Rick Davie to expect him back last Tuesday. Nothing has been heard from him since.

Davie was reported overdue on Wednesday morning and the UK Maritime Coastguard Falmouth have been broadcasting alerts to all shipping in the area since then. No EPIRB signal has been detected.

Weather conditions have been light and variable for the past week. Davie's yacht, the Rustler 36 C'EST La VIE had recently undergone a complete refit including new mast and rigging, which had been fitted in Les Sables D'Olonne.

Davie had entered the 2018 Golden Globe Race but ran out of time to complete his preparations, and was returning home to Cornwall intending to compete in the next GGR solo round the world race in 2022.

Born in 1951 in St Agnes, Cornwall, the sea has always been in his blood. Davie recalled recently Robin Knox-Johnston's return to Falmouth at the end of the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1969 to become the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world. His school refused to give his class time off to watch the spectacle, but he remembers saying to himself: “I’ll do that one day”.

After serving in the British Merchant Navy for 20 years, Davie competed in the first BOC Challenge Around Alone Race in 1990 in yacht named Spirit of Cornwall, and went on to make his second and third solo circumnavigations in the 1994 and 1998 BOC races. During the 1994 race he was dismasted thousands of miles from Cape Horn and sailed under jury rig around the Cape to the Falkland Islands.

Published in Offshore
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Page 1 of 6

Fastnet Yacht Race 

This race is both a blue riband international yachting fixture and a biennial offshore pilgrimage that attracts crews from all walks of life:- from aspiring sailors to professional crews; all ages and all professions. Some are racing for charity, others for a personal challenge. For the world's top professional sailors, it is a 'must-do' race. For some, it will be their first-ever race, and for others, something they have competed in for over 50 years! The race attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between. The testing course passes eight famous landmarks along the route: The Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, the Lizard, Land’s End, the Fastnet Rock, Bishop’s Rock off the Scillies and Plymouth breakwater (now Cherbourg for 2021 and 2023). After the start in Cowes, the fleet heads westward down The Solent, before exiting into the English Channel at Hurst Castle. The finish is in Plymouth, Devon via the Fastnet Rock, off the southern tip of Ireland.

  • The leg across the Celtic Sea to (and from) the Fastnet Rock is known to be unpredictable and challenging. The competitors are exposed to fast-moving Atlantic weather systems and the fleet often encounter tough conditions
  • Flawless decision-making, determination and total commitment are the essential requirements. Crews have to manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course
  • The symbol of the race is the Fastnet Rock, located off the southern coast of Ireland. Also known as the Teardrop of Ireland, the Rock marks an evocative turning point in the challenging race
  • Once sailors reach the Fastnet Rock, they are well over halfway to the finish in Plymouth.
  • The lighthouse first shone its light on New Year’s Day in 1854
    Fastnet Rock originally had six keepers (now unmanned), with four on the rock at a time with the other two on leave. Each man did four weeks on, two weeks off

At A Glance – Fastnet Race

  • The world's largest offshore yacht race
  • The biennial race is 605 nautical miles - Cowes, Fastnet Rock, Plymouth
  • A fleet of over 400 yachts regularly will take part
  • The international fleet is made up of over 26 countries
  • Multihull course record: 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes (2011, Banque Populaire V)
  • Monohull course record: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi)
  • Largest IRC Rated boat is the 100ft (30.48m) Scallywag 100 (HKG)
  • Some of the Smallest boats in the fleet are 30 footers
  • Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001
  • The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result

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