One of the best things about the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race route is that each individual leg provides its own unique challenges whether it be extreme temperatures, strong currents or gale force winds.
Either way you can guarantee that Musandam and the crew on board are going to tackle these challenges head on and with a bit of old fashioned grit and determination and come out the other side as better people and sailors for it. The first leg from Muscat to the Maldives certainly did this. With an unpleasant first night at sea to the unpredictable high pressure dominating the northern stretches of the Indian Ocean we certainly had our fair share of varying challenges. “The first challenge for me was allowing my mind and body to adapt the routine at sea”, Haitham tells me, “Once I had got used to the three hours sleeping followed by three hours on deck it became a lot smoother for me”.
For Haitham and Nawaf this is all new to them. Six months ago they both knew very little about the sailing world and as their team mate I can vouch for the excellent way they are improving and learning new things about maintaining and sailing of these powerful trimarans. Upon arrival to the Maldives, Musandam was met by an armada of support boats waving and shouting their support as the crossed the finish line off the island of Male. “Seeing all the boats welcome us here all waving the Omani flag was overwhelming and it struck home how significant our role is”. It is clear chatting with Haitham and Nawaf that the tone in their voice is one of excitement and its evident that they are thriving in the ambassadorial role that they are playing.
Since arriving in the Maldives the past few days have been spent preparing and restocking Musandam whilst also allowing some time for some rest before the next leg. Although we would all love to stay in this beautiful place, we are all itching to get back out on the water and take on the challenges that they next leg will throw at us. Next stop….Cape Town!
Blog entry by Nick Houchin aboard Musandam
Over the weekend, the more easterly boats in the northern group of the fleet tucked into the Trade Winds while the western pack have yet to taste the north-east breeze. Although the endless headwinds have ceased, the 12 days of slamming upwind left a legacy for Giovanni Soldini and Pietro d’Ali on Telecom Italia with the failure of the upper swivel on their forestay furler. Fortunately, as the headstay crashed to the deck, the inner forestay held the mast in place and in the 0800 GMT position poll this morning, the Italian duo are making just over eight knots, 52 miles behind the race leader.
South of Telecom Italia, the current race leader, Tanguy de Lamotte and Adrien Hardy on Initiatives-Novedia have crossed the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and at the same latitude as the southern tip of Florida the French duo are continuing south-west towards the mandatory race gate off the island of St. Barts making the best speed in the northern group of 12.5 knots in approximately 16 knots of south-easterly breeze. Behind the race leader by 92 miles, Bruno Jourdren and Bernard Stamm on Cheminées Poujoulat in 3rd and Damien Seguin and Armel Tripon on 4th placed Cargill-MTTM have finally separated after sailing in close formation for the majority of the past week with Seguin and Tripon opting to drop south on Sunday afternoon and slipstream Initiatives-Novedia. Since this move south, Jourdren and Stamm on Cheminées Poujoulat have built a 30 mile lead over their French rivals on Cargill-MTTM with both boats currently averaging 11 knots.
Separated by just over 100 miles and in the same ESE breeze of around 16 knots, the Anglo-Australian team of Tim Wright and Nicholas Brennan on Sail4Cancer hold 5th place with a 61 mile lead over Peter Harding and Miranda Merron on 40 Degrees with the Finnish duo of Jouni Romppanen and Sam Öhman on Tieto in 7th currently 44 miles off the starboard quarter of 40 Degrees while Harding and Merron average the best speed in the trio of 11.6 knots.
Flanking the main body of the fleet, Felipe Cubillos and Daniel Bravo Silva in 8th on Desafio Cabo de Hornos hold the northern station while Denis Lazat and Frédéric Nouel on PLAN in 10th maintain their southern position and are enjoying the Trade Winds, while the Chileans in the north must wait a little longer for the north-easterly breeze. In 9th place, 588 mile behind the lead boat, Jacques Fournier and Jean-Edouard Criquioche on Groupe Picoty have taken the northerly option and, like the Chilean duo, will have to wait for the Trades while Stephen Card and Shaun Murphy on ORBIS further south in 11th reported earlier that they have already entered the north-easterly breeze.
Meanwhile, furthest north in the fleet, Patrice Carpentier and Victor Maldonado on Crédit Maritime in 15th place are in the grips of the Azores High which has returned to its traditional location over the remote group of islands and Yves Eclaret and Lionel Regnier, the fleet’s back markers on Vale Inco Nouvelle Calédonie, may have just linked with the Trade Winds. The southern group in the fleet are currently converging on the northern pack with Erik Nigon and Marc Jouany on Axa Atout Coeur Pour Aides in 12th place 712 miles behind the lead boat and 113 miles now separate Nigon and Jouany, David Consorte and Aubry Arnaud in 13th on Adriatech and Mike West and Paul Worswick on Keysource in 14th place with the British duo continuing to poll the highest speed average in the fleet at 13 knots.
Desafio Cabo de Hornos
“We don’t know how much wind we have but I think it’s around 20 knots and we’re reaching at 90 degrees, so we’re going quite fast, it’s comfortable and everything is fine. I think we’re going to sail more together with the rest of the fleet although I think, more or less, we’ll keep our position. We’re in perfect condition, we’ve slept well and we’re sailing in a direction so the boat isn’t slamming all of the time.”
The Mayas were the first to cultivate the cocoa bean in the 17th century BC on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. The divine drink xocoatl made from cocoa was said to nourish man after death, and its life-giving and aphrodisiac properties were already well known. Beans were dried, ground, mixed with hot water and then flavoured with chilli, spices or vanilla.
Spaniard Hernan Cortés disembarked in Mexico in 1519, conquering the New World. He was received like a God. He discovered xocoatl.
When Cortés returned to Spain in 1528, he described the virtues of this new beverage to King Charles I of Spain: “One cup of this precious drink enables a man to walk for an entire day without eating.”
The first commercial cocoa cargos reached Spain in 1585 but it was not until the time of Anne of Austria, Queen of Louis XIII of France and daughter of the King of Spain, that the drink reached France. Courtesans in Versailles adored chocolate.
Solidaire du Chocolat
The UK based VESTAS SAILROCKET team have returned to Walvis Bay in Namibia for one more assault on the outright speed sailing record. The 28 day record period will commence on the 2nd of October.
Here is a run down from Paul of the first days attempts.
“And so it begins… with what looks like a rather mild day.
It’s just gone quarter past two and that makes it high tide. We spent the morning doing final tweaks and instrument calibrations. The wind has swung into the WSW but isn’t building at a great rate. My gut feel says it will get to around 17-19 knots tops.
We are all geared up anyway and will go out for a shakedown run. I’m sure we will find out more about our level of preparedness out there… than tinkering in here. Also, we have a new team member in Jeff Mearing who will get to see first hand what is expected. I warned Jeff that many a potentially great career… has been ruined on the first day;) It’s always fun bringing in new people as you wonder what they will make of the whole days activities.
I hope we do get to do a semi decent run as I’m looking forward to re-acquainting myself with the beast. The last time I sailed it… I wasn’t sure if it was going to be the last, period. But we both now have a great opportunity to try once more for the highest accolade in speed sailing, the outright record.
This will be the final record attempt for this wonderful boat. It has endured a long and eventful life to reach its current level of performance and its structure bears the scars of many a hard earned lesson. This is truly a unique and significant craft which has shown the potential of a radical concept for achieving both stability and efficiency in high speed sailing craft. The team, together with the sponsors and supporters have shared a fascinating journey but their ultimate objective, to be the outright fastest in the world, remains. The journey will only end when this objective is reached, one way or the other.
Already, since committing to this final attempt, the bar has been raised by the mighty French Hydroptere. In fact the outright record has been broken 6 or 7 times by 3 (and nearly 4) different craft since Sailrocket was first launched in 2004. VESTAS Sailrocket has already beaten the record as it was when she was launched, but now she needs to go almost exactly 4 knots faster again to achieve the new outright record of 51.38 knots*.”
Pilot/ project manager, Paul Larsen- Firstly, Congratulations to the Hydroptere team, we’ve got some work to do… but we wouldn’t be in this game if we didn’t like a challenge. Whilst it has been great to race the other true ‘boats’, it is the outright record we all strive for. This means that ultimately we have to beat the board riders as well. The MI (Macquarie Innovations) boys showed that they were within reach, now thanks to Hydroptere, the boat record IS the outright speed sailing record. Soon it’s going to be our shot to see if we can turn it up some more.
Nothing focuses the mind like competition. The record hasn’t fallen so many times recently by chance. Sometimes the limits are as much psychological as they are physical. When the level you need to attain gets so high that your current best isn’t enough then your options become limited and in some respect the job gets easier. You simply have to change your sights and find another gear. In this case it is ‘all or nothing’. We will no longer focus on the mile record as the Walvis Bay course is a little too short to challenge the new benchmark. We will go down there with our eyes firmly on the outright prize. 50 knots is last year’s story… we simply have to go well over that now. I look forward to taking this wonderful boat out to do battle one more time. There’s a final chapter to be written and I’m sure she still has a few knots up her sleeve. It will be one hell of a ‘suck-it and-see’ ride on the ragged edge that’s for sure!”
VESTAS Sailrocket Designer, Malcolm Barnsley- Now, in order to achieve our ultimate aim, we need to go almost exactly 4 knots quicker. We have learnt so much since we started. Through constant development we have managed to solve most of the relatively minor issues surrounding a new concept and allowed the real potential to begin to shine through. All of the boat projects have shown that when it all comes together, there are still large performance jumps that can be made at the top end. On paper, the 500m record is definitely within reach but everything has to be just right and if we do make it I doubt it will be by a big margin. Even in a place like Walvis Bay, which provides fantastic conditions on a regular basis, it will take a special day. Let’s hope we get those perfect conditions to make chasing down those four knots as easy as possible!
There was no supernova of emotion, no tears… just huge smiles and a sense of arrival.
We did some pieces to camera and then carefully dropped the rig. Then we felt safe. It was only later when we checked the two onboard GPS systems that we saw we had actually hit sustained speeds over 50 knots peaking at 51.76 knots. We averaged 46.4 knots over 1000 meters. The mean wind speed was around 22 knots. VESTAS SAILROCKET had definitely arrived.
I reflected on the wing angle during the run and the knowledge that I could come in closer…. to flatter water. armed with this we headed straight back up the course. the wind was up a knot or so and the course was still lovely and flat. This was our dream day. We had plenty of time.
The wind was gusting to 25 on the second start indicating an average of around 22-23 knots… no more. I did an even flatter start up procedure focusing on getting the wing into 10 degrees as soon as she accelerated… and bloody hell… did she accelerate. apparently she pulled 0.35 G’s all the way up to 52 knots before the nose lifted. I expected her to step sideways as before but not this time. The nose floated higher… and then it went quiet… I was flying. i waited for some sort of touchdown… somewhere… but it didn’t come. the nose just kept going up until I was lookin vertically up at it! There was no rolling and I was just a passenger. It was still quiet… and strangely dry as we continued the loop. I sort of knew I was inverted. It all seemed to take so long. I consciously thought “righto boy, when this thing smacks down… get the hell out of it because you’re gonna be upside down”!!! I smacked down hard. Like someone big had full palm slapped my helmet with all their might. I was out of that boat in an instant. I was a bit beat up and bruised… but alright. I lay on the upturned hull and got my head together. My helmet was broken but I dragged the mic. over to let everyone know I was OK.
Read more about Paul Larsen’s record setting day at www.sailrocket.com