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Displaying items by tag: Offshore

Solo sailor Joan Mulloy of Mayo has teamed up as co-skipper with France’s Alexia Barrier on the latter’s veteran IMOCA 60 4Myplanet to become the only all-female crew in the 30-strong IMOCA 60 Class in the 12,000 mile Transat Jacques Vabre, which starts next weekend from Le Havre, headed for a finish in Bahia in Brazil.

In all, there’ll be 67 boats on the line at Le Havre in three classes in an event which last month brought aboard an additional sponsorship partner in the Normandy Region. This reflects the increasingly positive corporate approach of French regional administrations to major sailing events, where the pace has been set by the Vendee Region with their pillar event, the four-yearly Vendee Globe non-stop solo round the world race, which has succeeded in raising the profile of the relatively little-known Vendee to a new international awareness.

alexia barrier2Alexia Barrier, tired but happy after completing another solo challenge. Her finish in last year’s Transatlantic Route de Rhum has already qualified her for next year’s Vendee Globe Solojoan mulloy3Joan Mulloy where she is happiest – in open water with the boat going well
In France, the regions are in competition with each other and internationally to attract such events. The Port of Brest, in one example, has taken over the historic OSTAR. But in smaller countries, it’s a case of the entire nation wheeling in support, as is being seen this morning in Malta where a major offshore race – once of interest to only a select few on the island – is now high on the priority list of the government’s promotion department.

Today, in the almost absurdly picturesque and distinctly crowded history-laden Grand Harbour of Valetta in Malta, it will take seven different starts to get the total fleet of 112 boats in the 40th Edition of the 606-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race cleanly away. From this inevitably tense and crowded start to a multi-island-rounding course in the Mediterranean, they’ll have the finishers back in port and the results declared by the time the Transat Jacques Vabre comes top of the agenda on Sunday October 27th.

middle sea start4Classic start for a classic race – the Rolex Middle Sea race tacking out of Grand Harbour Valetta in close formation. Photo Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

For devoted inshore sailing enthusiasts who think that night-time is when you should be comfortably ashore in bed after a good day’s sailing in pleasant coastal surroundings, both of these major international events are simply seen as being lumped under the general heading of “Offshore & Ocean Racing”. And their overall response is “Thanks but no thanks…..”

Yet for aficionados, not only are they long hauls which will be avidly followed throughout with total dedication, but the very different types of offshore racing which they exemplify are all part of the fascination.

For the Rolex Middle Sea Race is one contemporary version of the classic Royal Ocean Racing Club “long one”. These are the well-established events such as the Fastnet Race itself, the Sydney-Hobart, the RORC Caribbean 600 and the Newport-Bermuda, all of which fall within the 600-650 mile distance range. Also generally included is the Round Ireland, even though it clocks up 704 miles. And all – when they were founded – were regarded in their day as marathons, a title which most participants continue to happily support.

middle sea race course5The Middle Sea Race course – anyone who thinks it’s a walk in the park is often brutally surprised
But with the international ocean racing bar now being set very high by the Vendee Globe with its off-the-wall IMOCA 60s, public perception may have become more muted in response to the more traditional events. Yet the fact that the biennial Fastnet Race’s basic entry limit for 350 boats is hit within minutes of the online acceptance opening for business tells us that the mystique of these classics is strong, and for recreational sailors of competitive offshore interest, they are very much something they want to have in their CV.

Because there’s a real continuity to these events - with a shared sponsor in Rolex - part of the interest is in discerning special patterns. So although George David’s great round Ireland record-holding Rambler 88 will be seeing can she better the Middle Sea Race’s 47 hours 55 minutes and 3 seconds record he set with Rambler 90 in 2007 (a decidedly tense-making four minutes and 57 seconds inside the magic 48-hours barrier), there’ll be every bit as much interest in how things go for Wizard, the Askew brothers’ former Volvo 70 from America.

Originally Groupama 4 and designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian for the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race - which she won for France skippered by Franck Cammas - this splendid “old” warhorse has by no means gone gently into the sweet night of retirement.

On the contrary, she reappeared under New Zealand ownership for the 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart re-named Giacomo, owned and skippered by wine magnate Jim Delegat, who had several of his family in the crew, including the youngest race participant, 18-year-old James Delegat Jnr, as Australian rules preclude anyone under 18 doing this race. Conditions suited a Volvo 70 almost to perfection and they managed second on line honours among much larger craft, and this in time converted into the overall win.

Thus Giacomo was arguably the first of the former Volvo 70s – they initially appeared in 2005 - to make a significant input outside the Volvo Ocean Race bubble. But the former Groupama 4 was only getting going. Having won outright in what was only his third Sydney-Hobart, Jim Delegat decided to get out while still on top, and soon he sold Giacomo on to Peter and Dave Askew from America, who lavished much TLC on a craft renamed again. She became Wizard, and she lived up to her new name from the get go.

wizard at speed6The former Volvo 70 Wizard making knots. One of the world’s most successful offshore racers, since 2012 under three different names she has won the Volvo Ocean Race, the Sydney-Hobart, the RORC Caribbean 600, the Transatlantic, and the Fastnet. Photo: Rolex
Skippered for the brothers by Charlie Enright, Wizard has continued as a real life-enhancer on the international offshore scene, and with the Volvo Ocean Race and the Rolex Sydney-Hobart trophies already in the collection, she hit the 2019 programme in style, taking line honours in February’s big-fleet RORC Caribbean 600, and then correcting into the overall win.

Next outing was the RORC/NYYC Transatlantic Race with the weather in the North Atlantic in an increasingly obtuse mood, with calms later plaguing the smaller boats. But it was by no means a cakewalk for the biggies either, yet Wizard called it just right, and took the overall win.

Then up came the Rolex RORC Fastnet Race on 3rd August 2019, and in the livestream at the start, as the camera panned past Wizard somebody in the commentary box let slip a remark to the effect that this was “an old Volvo 70, not really suited to this race”, or words to that effect.

wizard at fastnet7Having made a brilliant job of the tricky outward stages to reach the Fastnet Rock, Wizard did even better on he final stage to Plymouth to win overall. Photo: RolexNow that was some hostage to fortune….not only did Wizard make such a perfect job of getting through the sticky calm-plagued patch between Start Point and the Lizard that we assumed the great Ian Moore must be the navigator on board (he wasn’t), but then when Wizard’s group arrived at the Fastnet itself, a complex frontal system was going through to baffle many. Yet Charlie Enright called the sail changes to precise perfection, they piled on the miles to a challenging position, and swept into Plymouth to correct into such a strong time that soon Wizard was declared the overall winner.

charlie enright8Charlie Enright of Wizard, a skipper of genius
david and peter askew9Sporting owners – David and Peter Askew in Antigua, February 2019, after Wizard had been declared overall winner of the RORC Caribbbean 600
By this time Wizard was so cheerfully the ambassador for American offshore racing that it was natural to overlook the fact that her take-everything victory was in fact yet another corner-stone in the French domination of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2019. But while she may have been French in her origins, it’s only right and proper to credit that David & Peter Askew and Charlie Enright, plus Jim Delegat before them, have put their stamp firmly on a record of unrivalled and varied success which extends directly back to Franck Cammas in 2012.

So with the Volvo Ocean, Sydney-Hobart, RORC Caribbean 600, Transatlantic 2019 and Fastnet Race securely under her belt, Magic is surely the boat to watch as the fleet set about exiting Grand Harbour Valetta this morning for a challenge whose name suggests balmy Mediterranean sailing, yet experience has shown that the Middle Sea Race in October plumb in the midst of Mare Nostrum can be tough and then some.

dazcat 1495 steady10Ireland’s Barry Hurley will be racing a Dazcat 195 catamaran in the Middle Sea Race today – this is how she looks in steady going……..

dazcat 1495 at speed11……and this is the Dazcat 1495 in a bit of a breeze
Ireland’s most experienced participants in it is Barry Hurley, with something like 14 tilts already logged for this circuit of islands which include - for something a little different - the active volcano of Stromboli. Former OSTAR Class winner Hurley has been well in the frame in mono-hulls in the Middle Sea Race several times, but this year he’s trying a new approach in a multi-hull, in this case the DazCat 1495 Apollo.

It requires very special skills and nerves of steel to race a catamaran flat out along a course which takes in coasting along steep mountains and through areas notorious for sudden squalls, but if the chips fall the right way the rewards are immense.

A more orthodox entry with Irish interest is ISORA Pwllheli-based skipper Andrew Hall with his J/121 JackHammer, a much roomier proposition than the vintage ultra-slim J/125 JackKnife which he raced – usually in the frame - in the Irish Sea during the 2019 season.

stromboli volcano12 How’s this four a mark of the course? There’s no guarantee that the Stromboli volcano won’t be erupting as the Middle Sea Race fleet rounds it. Photo: Rolex

His crew includes NYC sailor Willie Despard, so we have direct interest in at least two boats, and doubtless, other Irish participants will emerge as this intriguing race progresses. But anyone with an interest in the general wellbeing of world offshore racing cannot help but feel involved in the continuing extraordinary progress of Wizard. This is one well-sailed and classy boat which has given many people an immense amount of sporting satisfaction, and though it's grossly unfair to be heaping so much expectation on her prospects in the Middle Sea Race, but that’s the way it is. And we can be consoled by her string of established successes if things don’t work out to perfection this time round in a complex race in which the defending champion is France’s very special Gery Trentesaux in his JPK 11.80 Courier Recommande.

gery trentesaux13Defending champion: France’s veteran superstar Gery Trentesaux (centre) is defending title-holder in today’s Middle Sea Race
As to how things will be shaping up in a week’s time in the final countdown to the Jacques Vabre start off Le Havre, Alexia Barrier and Joan Mulloy don’t pretend that their 1998-built oldie 4myplanet – a pioneering Marc Lombard design in her day - is anything other than a sporting entry when set against the likes of Alex Thomson and Neal McDonald in the former’s latest addition to the Huge Boss line, and much is also expected of other fresh-out of-the-wrappings IMOCA 60s like Clarice Cremer and Armel le Cleach in Banque Populaire.

After all, with the basic budget of €5 million which created the new Hugo Boss, you could buy a dozen vintage IMOCA 60s…….

banque populairex14The latest – Banque Populaire X continues a long line of financial services sponsorship in French ocean racing 
new hugo boss15Ultimate racing machine? The new Hugo Boss will be using the Transat Jacques Vabre 2019 as a debut event.

Published in Vendee Globe

The sixth edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race is set to feature a huge variety of yachts racing across the Atlantic Ocean with the Royal Ocean Racing Club. One-design VO65s and Maxi yachts have expressed their goal to take line honours and a tilt at the race record. Teams racing optimised performance cruisers will be aiming for class and the overall win under the IRC Rating Rule. Two-Handed teams will add a fascinating dimension to this bucket-list race.

The Wally 100 Dark Shadow is the largest yacht on the entry list and although the 100ft Frers-designed carbon-fibre Maxi has close to 5,000 sq. ft. of sail area, she faces fierce competition for line honours. Dark Shadow's Race Skipper will be Australian Yerin Hobson and the international crew have sailed for the owner in over 30 races, including two previous Transatlantic Races. The team's first objective is to beat their own transatlantic race record of 11 days, 21 hours, 33 minutes.

Several Maxi yachts have expressed their interest to race as well as a number of One-design VO65s, including the Austrian Ocean Racing Project, a young team skippered by Konstantin Kobale. The VO65 Childhood 1 will be skippered by Dutch legend Bouwe Bekking who has sailed in eight round the world races in a career stretching back to 1985. In the last four editions of the Volvo Ocean Race, teams with Bekking as skipper have been on the podium three times. The race record of 10 days 5 hrs 47 mins 11 secs (2018 Pier Luigi Loro Piana's Supermaxi My Song) is under threat from these ocean greyhounds.

One of the smallest entries will be competing in the IRC Two-Handed Class. Richard Palmer's British JPK 10.10 Jangada returns for their second RORC Transatlantic Race after winning IRC 2 and IRC Two-Handed in 2017. Palmer will be racing with his long-time team-mate, Jeremy Waitt.

The RORC Transatlantic Race is unfinished business for Giles Redpath's British Lombard 46 Pata Negra which has the National Yacht Club's Conor Totterdell onboard. Totterdell is racing with a small crew of 6, including Figaro Sailor Will Harris.

In 2016 Pata Negra retired after damage to the starboard rudder. Since then Pata Negra has won the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race and the Antigua Bermuda Race, and must be considered as one of the favourites for the 2019 RORC Transatlantic Race. Also returning is Benedikt Clauberg's First 47.7 Kali, owned by the Swiss Ocean Racing Club, and making their debut in the race will be the overall winner of the 2019 La Trinite Cowes Race, Jean Pierre Dreau's French Mylius 60 Lady First 3.

Entry is still open for the 2019 RORC Transatlantic Race and several teams have charter berths available to aspiring transatlantic racers. The 6th edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race will start from Marina Lanzarote on 23 November 2019. -- Louay Habib

Published in Offshore
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#Rowing: Ireland will send a big team to the World Coastal Rowing Championships in Hong Kong early next month (November 1st to 3rd). Coastal Rowing is growing and may become part of the Olympic programme.

 Niall O’Toole (49) was Ireland’s first world rowing champion. The three-time Olympian now runs Crew Class for indoor rowers. He tried his luck at the Irish Offshore Rowing Championships in September in Co Antrim. Here are his impressions.

The Rock’n Roll of Offshore Rowing

By Niall O’Toole

I was excited for my first offshore race. Rounding the corner, I arrived at the location to big breaking waves crashing onto the shoreline. I immediately knew this was something different: it was going to be ugly and unpredictable.

 I fully hoped that the regatta would be called off, due to the extreme weather conditions. I looked to other competitors for solace. Instead of being able to gauge their fear, I was met with wide grins and a crazy glint in their eyes: they were unfazed. This was their normal. They were just looking forward to getting amongst it.

 I’m used to something different. A sterile environment in your own lane, as fast as you can row from A to B over 2km. You train for your own race, your pace and pushes planned down to a T. You have very little to think about on the day, other than executing that race plan. A starter holds your stern, everyone in line, traffic lights signal the off. It’s all inch-perfect and highly controlled. You may have one or two glances out of the boat, but essentially you row without interference from others.

 In Olympic-style rowing, we are guarded from the elements. Most international courses are strategically located to have a prevailing wind in one direction to avoid rough water. If there is wind, the water tends not to be affected. I wasn’t used to nature writing the rules.

 There was a delay to racing due to a late change of course. We were told that it was no longer safe for the safety boats, and that rowers were likely to be pushed onto the rocks. When the officials said, “You need to ask yourself, is it safe for you to row today?” the answer was screaming in my head. The organisers said they’d run the first race and would review whether they would continue the regatta after that. I took this to mean that the first race competitors were now officially the canaries down the mine. They got around, despite buoys moving during the race, and the regatta continued, to my growing fear and dismay.

 Shouldered with the weight of some rowing heritage behind me, I had to harness my dwindling toughness and get out onto the water, launching amidst breaking waves on the beach. Within 30 seconds I was completely soaked and instantly thought we needed a bigger boat.

 The race starts with a floating start and is the only real part that you can plan. There are no individual lanes, just a fight for the best line around a 4km course of buoys. Your only real hope is to fly out the start and get clear of the field down to that all important first buoy, before traffic starts hitting you and rowing becomes a contact sport.

 Battling the elements, and trying to keep the boat straight without a tiller was absolutely exhausting. Given my experience, I went out high and hard, but found it difficult to factor in the added dimensions of staying away from other boats and staying on the right lines to hit the markers. Trying to keep the boat straight against a crushing side-wind completely seized up my forearm within minutes of the start. Within the washing machine of the wind and waves, and the physical exertion of breathing through your ears, you are punished for small navigational mistakes which are big errors, handing away hard-fought lengths to more savvy and seasoned competitors.

 I did enjoy it though, despite myself. The rush of adrenaline you get flying around buoys, fighting for your line, with other boats breathing down your neck. You are completely focused on getting in and out of the turn as quickly as possible, whilst also paranoid that your competitor is taking a better line, for reasons as yet unknown to you. The sheer volume of data you have to integrate along with the physical exertion maxed me out in a way I couldn’t have imagined.

 This is one hell of a sport. Chaotic, unpredictable and exhilarating. It really is the rock’n roll of rowing. I’m completely hooked.

Niall O’Toole was part of the winning men’s quadruple, a composite crew of Wicklow, Kilurin and Ring, at the Irish Offshore Championships. 

Published in Rowing

Although the offshore sailing season is drawing to an end; it is never too early to look to your 2020 sailing season. Offshore racing, both crewed and shorthanded, is one of the biggest growth areas of sailing domestically and internationally.

UK Sailmaker's Yannick Lemonnier is one of the most experienced offshore racers in the country. With over 10 years of experience and more than 80,000 miles under his belt, mostly solo and double-handed, he is full of offshore sailing knowledge. Here gives us some top tips to bring into your 2020 offshore sailing season.

The Mainsail

The main is the one sail that we always have up, no matter the point of sail. Trimming and managing it is crucial to success – so how can you make life a bit easier?

A reefed mainsailA reefed mainsail

  1. Stitch all your battens. This is as simple as using a hand sewing needle to put a quick stitch at the extremity of each batten pocket. This fully secures your battens no matter what weather you encounter. The consequences of losing battens can be dramatic for the integrity of the sail and its performance.
  2. Reefing. Tie the bottom part of your mainsail with small diameter bungee and plastic clips instead of solid rope. Releasing your reef with one tie remaining can seriously damage your sail – and can easily happen when tired or on a dark night.
  3. Glow-in-the-dark draft stripes. These make trimming your sails at night so easy. Each stripe should be marked at the 50% chord length to give a good shape reference. These stripes can be retrofitted to older sails (depending on their age). 
  4. Reef assistant. This is a great option for regular offshore racers. Basically it is an additional pennant set just above your reefing eye at the luff end of your mainsail. It gives you a solid anchor to either pull your reef towards its hook or release pressure to unhook the reef in strong winds.
  5. Tie up the sail, not the boom! This is one we see a lot. When lashing up your reefed sail to not tie it around the boom. Instead, lash it around itself. You should have a tie going from the leeward side, around the loose sail between itself and the boom, and tied securely on the windward side with an easy to release knot.

glow sailsGlow in the dark sails

A reefed mainsail tiedA reefed mainsail tied

Headsails

When sailing upwind or tight reaching, depending on your inventory, you will be using your headsails – quite likely multiple headsails. Keeping on top of them and practising crew manoeuvres with them is critical to a successful offshore race.

  1. Stitch all your battens. This is the same as with your mainsail – but even more so as your headsails are more exposed to flapping as they are hoisted and dropped. Securing the battens is essential. This is a really quick and basic job which can prevent a lot of trouble down the line.
  2. Peels and tack peels. This manoeuvre is a must – and it is not complicated with proper training and the correct setup. Having a second attachment either side of the tack attachment point is recommended. And make sure to keep a close eye on your halyard to ensure no wraps occur. I would recommend to always drop the sail on the inside as dropping outside is risky and can lead to you losing your sail!
  3. Glow-in-the-dark draft stripes. As with the mainsail, these make setting halyard tension, car positions, sheet tension etc much more efficient at night. Glow tell tails on the luff make steering and trimming a doddle on those dark nights. 
  4. Spare sheet and block. This is to clip onto the outside rail, or purpose installed padeye, to outhaul the headsail on a reach. This is essential. Every time your clew moves up and down you are losing power. A well-positioned outboard lead padeye and the hardware to go with it makes a huge difference to off the breeze speed.
  5. Know your inventory. Knowing your sails is critical regarding wind range and angles. Where is your limit between J2 and J3? Between an outhauled genoa and code zero? The only answer is practice and recording. Experiment with different setups and take note of what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t!

Outboard lead 9239957504 oOutboard lead

Spinnakers

We all love sailing downwind when offshore. It can be fast and fun. It can certainly be a lot more comfortable than beating into a gale! But it brings its own challenges.

SpinStopsOnDragonTackSpinnaker stops on sail tack

  1. Choose your colour carefully. White spinnakers are difficult to trim at night. They are like a ghost. I would recommend a dark colour to get more contrast – I also find white harder on your eyes in bright sunshine.
  2. Velcro for control. Heavy spinnakers should be equipped with Velcro banding to keep them deflated while hoisting. They allow you to hoist the sail and stabilize the boat, then pop the sail out when everything is ready.
  3. Repair early. Gets lots of 100mm insignia tape (stick-back dacron) to fix small tears that can become a bigger problem. This tape can also fix other sails along with a bottle of acetone (nail varnish remover) to remove salt and dry the sail surface.
  4. Inspect for chafe. Don’t worry, we’re talking about your halyards! If on a long spinnaker run chafe can become a real issue. Covers can wear on sheaves or deflectors overnight. Ease the halyard a foot and check with the binoculars for visible signs of damage. If you can see it with binoculars it will be a bigger problem sooner rather than later.
  5. Peeling practice. Peeling spinnakers is actually easier than peeling headsails. The most crucial element is good halyard management. Have a spare peeling sheet, with snap shackle, ready and accessible. Think and talk the manoeuvre through – and, as always, practice!

Storm Sails

Whether we like to admit it or not, there is a tendency to see storm sails as a box-ticking exercise. Not many sailors have a clue how to rig them, never mind use them properly! 

StormSailsWave2Storm sails

  1. Firstly they should be stored in a separate dry bag. Piston hanks tend to corrode in an offshore environment unless used regularly – they should be replaced with soft shackles.
  2. The storm jib should have a tack strop of a set length. This should position the sail at a height that lines the clew up nicely with your jib car position.
  3. The trysail should ideally be on a separate track. It should be rigged with spinnaker sheets lead inside the guard rails – as we discovered after training in just under 50 knots!

Summary

A huge part of offshore racing is managing your energy. By making the boat as easy to sail as possible, and removing any potential issues before they occur, you can put 100% of your energy into making the boat go fast. Plan, practice, and enjoy your offshore adventures

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland

This week’s attempt by the Monaco-based Malizia II to set up a Transatlantic west-east record time for a fully-crewed IMOCA 60 with two Irish – Shane Diviney and Brian Carlin – in the crew of five, has been knocked off course by a crew injury which has necessitated a diversion on Day Three for medical assistance at St Pierre in southeast Newfoundland.

Fortunately the crew member – as yet un-named – is not seriously injured. But it has left Malizia’s delivery skipper Stuart Maclachlan and his shipmates on Malizia II in St Pierre with the problem of how to deal with Hurricane Dorian, which is moving steadily towards northwest Newfoundland along America’s east coast, and will be reaching Nova Scotia later today. Having seen the damage witch Dorian has done where it has hit land, there is no guarantee that the harbour at St Pierre will be totally sheltered.

Published in Offshore
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The IMOCA 60 Malizia II is one busy boat these days writes W M Nixon. She hit the global headlines by conveying climate activist Greta Thunberg across the Atlantic to New York in a carbon-neutral way courtesy of skipper Pierre Casiraghi of Monaco and shipmate Boris Herrmann of Germany. Now the big speed machine is busy again, gearing up for a west-east stab on the classic New York to Lizard Point Transatlantic course.

Skipper for this venture is Stuart Mclachlan and his no 1 crewman is noted international campaigner Shane Diviney of Howth, with Sharon Ferris-Choat and Arno Bonnert making up the sailing strength, while every aspect of the venture is being recorded by the very experienced cameras and other equipment of Brian Carlin of Tralee. The boat is being sorted to be ready to take advantage of hyper-active developments in the Atlantic weather systems, meanwhile here’s a vid of the busy on-board scene in New York: 

Published in Offshore
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One of the things I have done in my life is an iceberg watch on the bow of an offshore yacht racing in the Atlantic during the dark hours of night, keeping an eye out for ‘growlers’.

These are small chunks of floating ice that may only be barely visible above the surface of the water, perhaps a foot or two. They could do quite a bit of damage to a yacht. I was on the 83ft NCB Ireland at the time, racing across the Atlantic from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton.

It was the final leg of the 1989/1990 Round the World Whitbread Race, now named the Volvo Race. Because of the variety of weather conditions encountered on that leg, it was a microcosm of the entire race, quite rough and touch and benign at varying times. Somewhere around the cold Labrador Current which flows from the Arctic Ocean south along the coast of Labrador and passes around Newfoundland, continuing south along the east coast of Nova Scotia, a continuation of the West Greenland Current and the Baffin Island Current that meets the warm Gulf Stream at the Grand Banks southeast of Newfoundland, I learned about “iceberg watching” from the NCB crew! It was cold at night, but the warmth of the ‘nav station’ with radar sweeping around seemed to be where “iceberg watching” was done, so I thought that would be ok, only to find my watch was not there but on deck, in the cold, looking for “growlers”. In spring and early summer, when NCB was crossing the Atlantic the Labrador Current transports icebergs from the glaciers of Greenland southwards into the trans-Atlantic shipping lanes.

All that came back to mind this week when I heard Angela Heath, then Angela Farrell from Dun Laoghaire, describe “iceberg watching” as “terrifying”. Indeed, you didn’t know whether to call an alarm or hope that what you saw in the dark was only another wave.

Angela had done “iceberg watching” in much tougher waters in that race – the Southern Ocean – crewing on the all-women’s yacht, Maiden. That 58 ft. British boat was skippered by the legendary Tracy Edwards, then 27 years old and set a new level for women’s participation in sailing. This is the 30th anniversary year of Maiden’s trailblazing achievement which is the subject of a film documentary in the cinemas by Director Alex Holmes. Maiden changed the view of women in world sailing and Angela is still committed to that approach as part of Irish Sailing’s campaign to encourage more participation by women in sailing. Angela helmed the yacht ‘Crazy Horse’ in the Pathfinder Women At The Helm’ regatta in Dun Laoghaire where 200 sailors raced in 61 boats.

She was talking on my radio programme, This Island Nation, to my colleague Justin Maher. I was transfixed listening to her description of sailing on Maiden and “iceberg watching” and how, after having a family, she returned to sailing and how important the ‘Women at the Helm’ programme is.

She concluded her piece with the words about sailing: “Go and do it, it’s so good for you.”

It would be hard to find a better description of the lure, the attraction of our sport. It’s worth listening to.

• Listen to Angela Heath on the Podcast below where she starts by describing what ocean offshore racing is like.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Former Vendée Globe skipper Norbert Sedlacek on his Open 60 is sailing south of Ireland today on his way to the North-West Passage on his journey around the world.

Sedlacek's Open60AAL 'Innovation Yachts' officially crossed the starting line at 07:16:10 p.m. in ideal weather conditions and under the auspices of the World Speed Sailing Record Council to begin a record attempt on the five oceans.

Sedlacek has set a course for the Arctic Ocean, passing the Northwest Passage from east to west and then heading south to round Cape Horn for the first time.

He will then sail around Antarctica in the Southern Ocean and pass Cape Horn a second time before heading north back home to Les Sables d’Olonne.

Innovation Yachts is an Austrian-French shipyard designing and building unique customised racing and cruising yachts. The yard uses new trendsetting fully sustainable and recyclable materials to optimize quality, performance and the protection of the environment during and after construction.

The Open60AAL is the first 60’ which has been built in Les Sables d'Olonne, France. This revolutionary prototype launched in 2018 is made from volcanic rock fibre, balsa wood core and biocompatible epoxy.

The yacht represents the vanguard of a new generation of high-quality boats, very powerful, safe and, it is claimed, ecological.

If this record attempt is successful Norbert Sedlacek will be the first sailor ever who did a singlehanded, nonstop circumnavigation without assistance through all oceans including the Arctic and the Southern Ocean.

This challenge represents approximately 34,000 nautical miles and around 200 days at sea.

Published in Vendee Globe

The clear record of Seamus Fitzpatrick’s First 50 Mermaid IV (RIYC) in the coastal racing of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta slipped today, taking quite a knock with an 11th while the Pwllheli J/109 (Peter Dunlop) was on top form to take the win, with second going to the J/97 Windjammer (Lindsay Casey & Denis Power, RStGYC), while Nigel Ingrams’ J/109 Jet Stream from Holyhead was third in a developing coastal wind pattern which suited the smaller boats. Mojito is now leading overall across the board with 7 points to the 13 of Mermaid IV and Jet Stream, fourth overall being held by the veteran Mills 30CR Raptor, where the owning RIYC syndicate is listed today as headed by Fintan Cairns – now there’s democracy in action for you, and no mistake.

Mermaid First 50 4443Second overall - First 50, Mermaid (Seamus Fitzpatrick)

Jet Stream 4576Third overall - J109, Jet Stream (Nigel Ingram)

Mermaid First 50 4587Fourth overall - Mills 30CR, Raptor (Fintan Cairns)

Windjammer 3138Fifth overall - J97, Windjammer (Lindsay J Casey & Denis Power)

WOW XP44 4477Sixth Overall - XP44, WOW (George Sisk)

Rockabill VI 3302Seventh overall, JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins)

J109 JayDreamer 4628Eighth overall - J109, Jaydreamer (Paul Sutton)

Jackknife 4514Ninth overall - J125, Jackknife (Andrew Hall)

Express Martini 4407Tenth overall - Farr 40 Expresso Martini, Glyn Sheffield

Published in J109

The spirit of the Whitbread Round the World Race is back with the announcement of the 2023 'OCEAN GLOBE RACE' (OGR), a retro event starting from a European port on September 10th 2023 celebrating the 50th anniversary of this major milestone in adventure sailing according to organiser Don McIntyre who is also organiser of the Golden Globe Race.

In a world now dominated by professional sailors, foiling yachts and eye-watering budgets. This retro Race reopens once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for ordinary sailors and adventurous yacht owners to follow in the wake of Tabarly, Blake, Van Rietschoten, Blyth, Knox-Johnston and of course Mexican Ramon Carlin, winner of the first Whitbread fully crewed global challenge in 1973 with his production Swan 65 Sayula II

Ocean Globe RaceSleigh ride in the Southern Ocean, aboard Conny van Rietschoten's 1981/2 winning yacht Flyer. Photo: Julian Fuller/PPL

The Course

Organised by Australian adventurer Don McIntyre along similar lines to the highly successful 2018 Golden Globe Race, which he also founded, the 2023 Ocean Globe Race (OGR) will follow the original Clipper ship sailing route around the Globe, just as the Whitbread Race did in 1973. The course traces the classic four-leg route from Europe to Africa and on to Australasia, then back via a South American port: 27,000 miles and seven months passing under the three great Capes with Cape Horn the prize for most. The final course will be published in late 2020, together with the Final Notice of Race. Cities in the UK, Europe, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil are being invited to bid to host the ports of call

Retro Rules

Just like the 2018 GGR, this new fully-crewed challenge is equally retro, sailing similar well-proven yachts to those entered in the first Whitbread and with technology limited to what was available to those pioneers back in 1973. That means no high tech materials, computers, satellite systems (including phones and GPS), as well as mobile phones. Navigation will be limited to sextant plots on paper charts, communications via SSB and VHF radios, and music will be played on cassette tapes.

Yacht Types


Entries are limited to ‘approved’ fibreglass production yachts designed prior to 1988, from 47ft (14.32m) to 66ft (20.11m) LOA segregated into two groups:

ADVENTURE 47 to 56ft (14.32-17.06m) & SAYULA 56-66ft (17.07-20.11m) classes. In addition, original entries from the first three Whitbread Races (1973/4, 1977/8 and 1981/2) together with ‘Class surveyed’ production sail training yachts up to 68ft (20.73m) make up a third FLYER Class.

Nautor Swan production yachts that fall within the age/length parameters are currently approved, and similar well-proven production yachts will be considered on application. The fleet is limited to a maximum of 30 yachts and the Race will be sailed under the International Collision Regulations.

Race Concept

Race founder Don McIntyre says: “For the first time in 3 decades, ordinary sailors and yacht owners have an opportunity to experience racing around the world in an affordable, safe and fun way. You don’t need to be an elite sportsman nor require a huge support team. And as far as budgets go, the cost of a campaign need not cost any more than just one of the carbon fibre foils on an IMOCA 60.” (See breakdown budget below).

So many sailors harbour dreams of circling the Globe and racing around Cape Horn. The Ocean Globe Race now makes these ambitions possible once more.“

Best practice safety and security arrangements recognized by maritime agencies around the world have been adopted for the Race and strict minimum crew standards and numbers are specified for each class. Each yacht must also include at least one woman and youth crew aged under 24 at the start of the Race.

McIntyre went on to say that the experience of running the 2018 Golden Globe Race has shown up a strong appetite for simple adventurous sailing around the world and has created a great platform to launch the Ocean Globe Race. “The GGR was a huge success for competitors and attracted a large passionate following around the world. The Race achieved everything we set out to do on a very limited budget. We learned important things about what works and why, and now have a unique formula that provides strong point of difference to any other event.”

The 2023 Ocean Globe Race will be run under the auspices of by the Royal Nomuka Yacht Club in the Kingdom of Tonga and is underwritten by McIntyre Adventure Ltd.

Budgets

What will it cost to enter and campaign a competitive entry in the ORG?

A competitive ADVENTURE CLASS entry with 8-9 crew might start with a good NAUTOR SWAN 55 example on brokerage: 180,000 Euro 
Refit using crew labour:                                                                 100,000 Euro 
Entry fees:                                                                                      25,000 Euro  
Insurance and misc. costs:                                                             20,000 Euro 
Total Capital outlay:                                                                        325,000 Euro 

Your crew should contribute total operating cost around the world, food and maintenance. At the conclusion of the Race sell your SWAN for 200,000 Euros. The experience has cost 125,000 Euros. (You could do it for less with a smaller entry) 

*By comparison, just one carbon foil for an IMOCA 60 will set you back between 5-600,000 Euros, so you take on the challenge of the Ocean Globe Race for 25% of a set of foils!

More on the Ocean Globe Site here

Published in Offshore
Tagged under
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