Paul Larsen and the VESTAS Sailrocket 2 Team continue to have an amazingly successful run in Walvis Bay, Namimbia. They are smashing records and opening champagne. Read below an excerpt from Paul’s blog describing the excitement of the team as they dial in Sailrocket 2 for record breaking runs.
Challenge and Adventure’s founder Vikki Penney was a long time supporter of Paul Larsen and his Sailrocket team and we here at Challenge and Adventure know she is up there smiling happily down on you ad the rest of the team Paul.
In Paul’s own words;
“So let’s get this down here before I start forgetting stuff…
Last Saturday looked like it was going to be a strong day from the moment it popped onto the long range Windguru forecast. Amongst a bunch of fluctuating average days it barely deviated as it approached. We began to focus on it as being the day when we would go all out. Almost annoyingly, the day before piped up and blew just enough to force us to fully gear up and head towards speed-spot. We stopped just short of launching the boat. It was annoying as it was strong enough to force us to react but we really wanted to focus on the next day. You have to be reactive as for whatever reason, the next day may not deliver. Every opportunity has to be seized this year and we had already had two remarkable days on average forecasts.
That night we had dinner back at the crew house. I was about to raise a glass to the following day and the last day of living in the 50′s… but decided not to tempt fate. We had an early night.
It was already blowing from the SW in the morning. This combined with the strong forecast spoke to us that at long last, after over six weeks, we were going to get some good, old-school, industrial Walvis Bay wind.
Our focus was to smash through a 60 knot average. After our previous record runs there had been a heap of interviews and discussions about what it all represents. people doing articles on Hydroptere, Luderitz and Rob and Alex were all suddenly diverted to that ‘other team’ in Walvis Bay. Everyone wanted to know what we thought she could do. My guess was a little over 62 knots average. Although our 59.38 knot run was obviously hugely satisfying for us, I wasn’t comfortable to leave it at that. I sincerely felt that it was still within striking distance of the kiters. They could have an epic day at one of the venues and now they had all the motivation in the world to pull the stops out. I could just sense that they were buzzing like a hungry bunch of knife fighters whose leader had just been shot. They would want revenge and although they would figure they were on the offensive… we knew that the gun had plenty more bullets. Today we would spend them.
I was nervous about the potential of the day. It could all end a number of ways. There are crash scenarios for this boat that I’m pretty sure would be lethal. If the forward beam stay failed, the failure mode would be pretty worst case. A snap roll of the fuselage to leeward. Considering that it is traveeling sideways at 25 degrees and would be combined with a forward pod nose-dive… it would be violent. We had spent the previous few days pulling the boat apart and checking everything. Alex put dormant safety lines in key areas and serviced the wing. Ben had installed padding around the cockpit edging to protect my head. The crash harness and quick release was all serviced. The boat was good.
As I lay awake in bed that morning I considered writing a little note that I hoped would never be read and stashing it somewhere. Too morbid. Just get it right Larsen.
We had set all the previous records in relatively mild conditions and were yet to sail in average conditions over 26 knots. What would a boat with unlimited stability that is demostrating its ability to sail at around 2.4 X windspeed do in a 30+ knot gust?
Yeah it was going to be a big day alright. There was a sense of definite energy in the wind. I had told a few close friends that this was going to be it. If ever they wanted to see this boat do its stuff… then this was it. We made sure that our good luck team member Wally was on side. I also made sure that our friend and guru RC model plane flyer Bernt was there. He had a plane which could fly at 110kmh with a GoPro2 on it. It was going to be windy so it was going to be interesting to see what he could do with it as he was literally flying against VSR2′s apparent wind. We had more to organise than on most days. I spent the morning fitting a streamlined nose cone to the stub-beam that holds the main foil. Malcolm calculated that it could be good for 0.25 to 0.4 of a knot. That could make the difference (in a way it did). Things like that are free speed. ‘Givens’.
The wind continued to build. The forecast was playing out. I fully believed that it was going to ‘over develop’ and build to a strength beyond what we could safely handle. I also felt that this might be the first and last big day of this record attempt. I knew what I had to do today. As the day built I began to feel that we had to get out there early. It could have built too quick and left us with the horrible realisation that we missed it. With the big crew it took a lot longer to get ready. We had to send over two RIB loads of people to speed-spot. By the time it was our turn to get towed over it was already over 25 knots.
On the way I sat in the cockpit and pulled my cap low over my eyes. I leaned back against the new side padding that Ben had installed and just relaxed. As we entered the end of the magical mile that is speed spot I began checking the conditions out in detail. I watch the kiters and windsurfers and check out what sails they have up, how easily they waterstart etc etc. Many come past the boat as it is being towed and we swap quick expressions to discuss the wind and such. I got Alex to pull into the timing hut where I ran up and did a quick wind check. Conditions were good…. not great but worth pushing forward with. We already had gusts up to 27 but dips to 22. The direction was good and things were only going to get stronger. I felt pretty edgey. Big things happen on days like this. It was great to see so many friends over on this normally desolate landscape. Close friends who knew what all this meant to us. Malcolm and george were here. Malcolm has never seen either boat go over 50 knots yet! He would have front row seats to see something special today.
FRONT ROW SEAT FOR MALCOLM AS VSR2 HEADS UP THE COURSE.
I ran back down to the boat and we quickly took it up to the top of the course. I had a quick chat to the boys to remind them to stay cool if it goes wrong. They would be a long way behind and would arrive well after the crash. I could be anywhere as they approach and in any shape. I don’t wear a life jacket as I don’t want to be stuck inside an upturned hull. Maybe I should. If my drysuit gets torn then it could be a bad thing. I drifted out of the upturned cockpit of VSR1 unconscious once. I’m still not sure how. I sit much deeper in this boat. I reminded them once more of the harness I was wearing and its mechanism… but mostly just to stay calm and turn off any emotion. No drama, just cool heads. I was nervous but in an excited way. I knew what I had to do and I also believed that I was about to have the ride of my life.
The wing went up cleanly and all the little rigging extras were removed. We had a clean ship. Everything was good. I had removed all the comms. to Alex i.e. ripped them off my helmet and thrown them in the piss after getting lost in the French language menu whilst trying to connect! Hand signals work. The release from the RIB went pretty well and I don’t remember too many issues with getting over the initial ‘hump’.
The run was pretty good. It was definitely fast although it is amazing how quickly you become accustomed to the speed. The leeward pod was flying high and I couldn’t get it down as the adjustment was at its limits. It was a good run… but not a great run. When the RIB pulled alongside and escorted me into the beach I quickly lifted the rear hatch and checked the numbers… 63.17 peak and 58. 4 something average. No good. I tried to radio the group of people making the long walk down and tell them not to bother as we were going to turn around and make another run ASAP. The radios weren’t working for some reason. More electronics had bitten the dust. Only the ICOM M-71 radios seem to handle it out there (no we aren’t sponsored… that’s how it is). Ben came down to film and I was pretty sharp with them for not monitoring the radio. ‘Breathe it out and turn it off’ Lars… calm down, make everyone feel cool and move on. This was not the run we wanted… but it did serve to remove any nerves we might have had. VSR2 had sailed beautifully and was handling the day easily. I was confident I could sail her full noise. We were into the day now and focused on simply getting it right. We returned to the top of the course and got set up for Run 2. This one did not start so well. It was messy. The leeward float sunk and the wing extension dug into a wave. I need to fully stall the craft in order to get it to bear away from the wind. I oversheet the wing to windward to force this. Sort of like backwinding a head sail or pulling the mainsheet traveller fully to windward. In this full stalled state the boat rolls hard to leeward like a conventional craft. In strong conditions and the larger waves that accompany them… this becomes a problem. I managed to pop the leeward float up by sheeting the wing out and getting the flow attached, the trouble with this is that it rounds the boat up towards the wind as the drive vector point way aft of the main foil. I had full left lock dialled on with the small rudder in order to stop us going head to wind. This is one of VSR2′s weak points at low speed. She continued to slowly turn into the wind and I sheeted the wing back in to try and prevent it. The boat accelerated onto the plane in this state. She continued to pick up speed heading at a tight angle towards the beach. The rudder was on full lock for a bear away which meant it was fully stalled and hence fully side ventilated. I sheeted on harder to help it come away but it wasn’t happening fast enough. The beach was close and the only thing to do was to ease the wing a little and dial the rudder quickly straight to get flow attached. This had the initial effect of turning us back in towards the beach. we were probably doing around 30-35 knots. The flow attached but we were getting into shallow water. I was strangely calm about it. I sheeted in again and turned hard away down the beach. The turn was too quick and the apparent wind struggled to come around with me i.e. I did not really accelerate into the turn down wind. The wing stalled. I checked the swirling leeward tell-tales. VSR2 began to de-accelerate so I eased the wing again to attach flow. I also turned her a little more in towards the beach. She slowly got hooked in and then BAM… she was off again.
She accelerated straight up to over 61 knots but I knew it was a dud run. Only 54. something average. Everyone commented about how close in I had come at the start. On reflection it was a bit marginal but on the other hand also a sign that I was comfortable with handling the boat in tight situations.
Now I was bloody minded and set to take from this day what we had come for.
We went back up for Run 3. Ben and Alex were their usual fast and efficient selves. The three of us can basically rig and run this boat. Wally was holding the bow and ready to be an extra set of hands if we needed them.
The day felt stronger. I called Helena on the now returned comms and got another wind check. She assured me that the peak gust was still only 31 knots but that the wind was now pegged pretty solid in the middle high 20′s. She called out a long string of numbers off the TACKTICK weather station, 27, 28, 28, 28 , 29, 29 , 29, 28, 28, 27, 28 etc. This was it. The course looked great and things were perfect. I didn’t want to have to do another run.
The release from the RIB was the worst yet. VSR2 stuffed the leeward wing in hard. The whole thing was out of sight underwater. The leeward pod was well under and even the beam end was in the water. I waited for something to break.
THE LEEWARD SIDE OF THE BOAT IS WAY DOWN HERE AND I’M SERIOUSLY CONCERNED THAT WE HAVE BLOWN IT. WAITING FOR SOMETHING TO BREAK. IT DIDN’T.”
For more information on Paul Larsen and Sailrocket 2 click HERE
See Video of Paul smashing the record HERE
Paul Larsen and the VESTAS Sailrocket 2 Team have pulled off the the amazing. On Saturday in Walvis Bay, Namibia they broke their own record.
He is an excerpt from Paul’s blog in his own words and photos the team reaction.
Fresh off the TRIMBLE… 68.01 over 1 second, 65.45 over 500 meters.
I’ll let the pictures tell the story. The triple rum and cokes are already hitting the mark.
MALCOLM AND GEORGE WATCHING THE BEAST DO ITS STUFF.
POD HIGH AND SMOKING…60+ RUN 2
BERNT WITH HIS GOPRO PLANE. THE FOOTAGE IS AMAZING. THIS GUY HAS SKILLS. BLOODY WELL DONE IN 30 KNOTS OF WIND.
I SAVED THE BIG REVEAL UNTIL I GOT THE BOAT BACK UP TO THE TIMING HUT. WALKING BACK UP WITH THE NUMBERS AND MALC.
I WROTE THE NUMBERS BACKWARDS IN THE SAND. THIS WAS THE MOMENT.
MALCOLM AND I. WE STARTED THIS GIG 11 YEARS EARLIER.
YEAH… PRETTY HAPPY WITH THAT.
GEORGIE BOY IS PRETTY HAPPY TOO.
SELF EXPLANATORY REALLY…
BRINGING THE BEAST BACK HOME IN ONE PIECE.
We are absolutely over the moon with todays performance. I’ll leave it at that. Tomorrow is already written off. So cool, so damned cool.
THANKYOU VESTAS FOR BACKING US ALL THE WAY.
That’s it. Job done!”
A job very well done! Congratulations to Paul Larsen and the VESTAS Sailrocket team for once again stretching the envelope.
MIKE GOLDING is back in the very familiar surroundings of Les Sables d’Olonne after arriving last night into the Port Olona marina with his IMOCA Open 60 Gamesa, following a fast and pleasingly uneventful passage from Southampton, UK.
Accompanied by his team of preparateurs, Graham Tourell and Mikey Ferguson, and met by his composite engineer, Ian McCabe, Golding arrived at the famous start port for the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe just in time to catch the last of the tide which allowed them to move directly into the marina.
Golding commented, “It is really good to be back and it was lovely arriving last night. We were met by a couple of RIBs and there were people on the canal side cheering and people at their windows and balconies welcoming us. It is a very nice reminder of the warmth and passion that the people of Les Sables d’Olonne have for the race and its skippers.”
Gamesa is the fourth IMOCA Open 60, of an expected fleet of 20, to take her place in the marina, the second to arrive from outside the Vendée region after Kito de Pavant’s Groupe Bel.
“We had a really good range of conditions, sailing in full Vendée mode, fully loaded with spares and food and we pressed the boat pretty hard. We were just footing a lot of the time, not hard on the wind, and then had some fast reaching from Ushant doing 23-24knots and everything was fine. We did some good miles at speed with some nice surfing,” recalled Golding.
“It is exciting to be here. After the long build up to eventually be here now feels really good. We all went for a nice meal together, steak frites of course, and reflected how much time we have spent here over the 12 years: it adds up to quite a bit!”
The Gamesa technical team have a moderately comprehensive list of work to get through over the coming days, but all of the tasks are relatively small.
“I have to say I really am happy with the shape the boat is in. I don’t think I have been here before feeling so well prepared. Usually there is something niggling with the boat, you are waiting for some part, or something random you are worrying about, but this time I am happy with where we are at. Thankfully that reflects our time investment this summer in making sure that we reach this point with the boat and the hard work by the shore team. And if that has been at the expense of sailing time on the water then I am fine with that. It has been a bit of a frustrating summer, but to have three weeks to go before the start and be here like this, this is where I have always wanted to be. I can say we are better prepared with the boat than ever before.”
Golding will return home to England this evening, returning to Les Sables d’Olonne at the weekend for the official opening to the public of the Vendée Globe race village. This will be followed by a few days of media interviews and commitments, before the final build up, which will start on 2 November, when Golding will be joined by the full complement of the Gamesa Sailing Team as they count down the final days to the start of the 2012-2013 edition.
British solo sailor, Alex Thomson has smashed the single-handed monohull transatlantic record, by more than 24 hours, crossing the finish line at Lizard Point, off Falmouth in Cornwall, in time to get back for the London Olympic Opening ceremony.
The 38 year old sailor crossed the line at 17:17 GMT (18:17 BST) setting the new time at 8 days 22 hours 8 minutes, beating the previous record, subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, which had been held for 10 years.
“It has been a long few days,” said Alex. “The first half from New York was great with weather conditions in our favour, but things started to slow down the closer I got. But the wind has held out this morning and it’s so fantastic to have broken this record.”
Alex set sail from New York on July 17th at 19.09GMT to cover 2800 nautical miles in a quest to break the record for what is officially known as the ‘West to East Ambrose Lighthouse to Lizard Point Under 60ft Single-Handed Monohull Record, Male’, which sat at 10 days, 55 minutes and 19 seconds, and was set by Swiss sailor Bernhard Stamm 10 years ago.
His secondary aim was to get home in time for the 2012 London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in order to support Chairman and good friend, Sir Keith Mills.
“When I set off I had no idea if I was going to be able to do it. And it has been hard. Lack of sleep, broken instruments on the boat and constant exposure to the elements has really taken it out of me. But it’s such a good feeling to have beaten it by such a great margin,” said Alex.
But the record breaking achievement is only half of the story. Alex is in fact lining up to attempt to be the first Brit ever to win the gruelling single-handed round-the-world race, the Vendee Globe, leaving from France in November on board his 60ft monohull, HUGO BOSS. And this record breaking achievement puts him in good stead.
“This record attempt was also a training exercise for the Vendee Globe,” said Alex. “We felt this record attempt would put me under real pressure and stimulate race conditions and I have felt a real value in it.”
He is one of three British competitors who will take part in the non-stop, solo, unassisted round-the-world yacht race starting in Les Sables d’Olonne in France, on November 10th. Currently only 50% of attempts to complete the race have been successful in the race known as the ‘Everest of sailing’
Start spreading the news ! New York will be start city for the new MOD70 class’s first ever trans-oceanic race when Race for Water (Steve Ravussin), Foncia (Michel Desjoyeaux), Edmond de Rothschild Group (Sebastien Josse), Spindrift Racing (Yann Guichard) and Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet) set off on Saturday July 7th to take on the MOD 70 KRYS OCEAN RACE’S 2950 miles of racing between the evenly matched new one design, high speed 70 foot trimarans. Skippers Ravussin, Desjoyeaux, Josse, Guichard and Gavignet will lead their five strong crews across the North Atlantic to a finish in Brest, France.
Officially launched at the French Consulate in New York, today Thursday 26th April in the presence of the Consul M Philippe Lalliot and renowned American sailor Dawn Riley, the American program which forms the prelude to the MOD 70 KRYS OCEAN RACE promises a full complement of activities between June 28 and July 7 shared between Newport and New York.
From Newport to New York City
Ahead of this first true ocean challenge, a short prologue from Newport to New York should prove an exciting initial taster of what is to come, followed in New York by an afternoon of all-out sprints, the Speed Match.
A full menu of action and excitement is promised for the class’ inaugural visit to the USA, where the fleet musters in strength for the first time ever.
History in the making in Newport and New York
Though the MOD 70 KRYS OCEAN RACE will start from New York, the fleet will first establish itself in historic Newport, Rhode Island where the MOD70’s will be based at the Newport Shipyard marina between June 28th and July 2nd, not far from where the AC World Series finale runs 26th June to July 1st.
While based in Newport, the boats will be put through all their safety and technical scrutineering, vital checks which are all the more important given that once they are docked at New York’s North Cove Marina, the MOD70’s will be in full race mode, with no further work allowed to the boats beyond stocking them for the passage.
For the five high speed trimarans, the 120 miles prologue races starts on Monday July 2nd from Newport – the world renowned sailing centre synonymous with America’s Cup – to a finish line off New York’s iconic Statue of Liberty where they would be due to finish July 3rd.
From the eve of the USA’s Independence Day, through the July 4th festivities, the fleet will have their home at Manhattan’s tranquil North Cove Marina.
Then on the afternoon of July 5th the fantastic five match up to see who will be New York’s sprint kings on the Hudson River, when Race for Water, Foncia, Spindrift Racing, Edmond de Rothschild Group and Oman Sail will take part in a speed match virtually at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. Race Director Jacques Caraës will be supported by the very active Manhattan Sailing Club under Commodore and Race Committee Chairman Michael Fortenbaugh.
The Race is On
But the excitement will peak for sure on July 7th at 1100hrs (LOCAL) when the French Consul in New York, Philippe Lalliot will be joined by the Mayor of Brest François Cuillandre to fire the start gun which will set off the KRYS OCEAN RACE across the Atlantic to Brest.
The gun marks the start of the first great oceanic adventure for the MOD 70’s and the 30 crewmembers, making history as the world’s first fleet of identically matched ocean racing one design multihulls goes head to head.
Over a course measured at 2950 miles, some of the world’s best ocean racers – some who are already winners of the biggest offshore races and records in the world – will finally compete at thrilling high speeds, on even terms over the ensuing six or seven days, fighting to be first across Brest’s finish line, into the very heart of the historic Tonnerres de Brest nautical festival.
Philippe Lalliot, Consul General of France in New York City : « The world of sailing, synonymous with epic journeys, but also with perseverance and endurance, is certainly one of those worlds that fire your imagination the most. Suspense and emotions will no doubt be part of this new, nautical adventure. I look forward to its opening impatiently and wish it the greatest success. »
Dawn Riley, Chief Executive Officer Oakcliff Sailing New York : “The MOD70 class already is full of French Rockstars and I hope that we will see an American Team joining them shortly. We are all very excited that these multihull machines will be in New York.”
Michael Fortenbaugh, Commodore Manhattan Sailing Club : “We have this incredible symbol which is the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the French. We always dreamed that someday there would be a race that would start from beneath it and connect with France, which New Yorkers are so closely linked to. This has great symbolic meaning and is the benchmark for future races.”
Franck David, Chief Executive Officer Multi One Design S.A. : “Multi One Design’s ambition is to build the ultimate sailing class of reference in the world…To start the MOD70 story with the KRYS OCEAN RACE in New York City is the exact representation of what we want to buil : an international circuit, with exiting host venues, combination of City Races and Offshore sailing adventures!”
The U.S. program for the KRYS OCEAN RACE 2012:
June 28 : Deadline for arrival of MOD70
July 2 : Start of the prologue
New York City:
July 3 : Finish of the prologue
July 5 : Speed Match
July 7 11:00 local: Official start of the first edition of the KRYS OCEAN RACE
Estimated arrival at Brest between 13 and 14 July 2012.
Now we are six.
The latest in the MOD70 series Oman Sail was launched today Thursday, April 12 in front of a very excited, expectant team.Less than eight months from the commitment of the Sultanate of Oman to the Multi One Championship to the actual launch of their new one-design trimaran today, at the helm is Sidney Gavignet, one of the most international of French sailors!
The team took ownership of OMAN SAIL, their MOD70 today, setting out on the first stage of learning and training process which over the coming weeks will lead to the inaugural event of the 2012 championship season, the KRYS OCEAN RACE, which starts in less than three months.
Behind the name, OMAN SAIL pulls together a large, comprehensive project implemented under the leadership of the Sultanate of Oman, which aims to develop tourism and to highlight and expand the historic maritime tradition.
The one-design trimaran OMAN SAIL is a key aspect of this project: taking on international competition on different seas. Complementing, this, closer to home sailing schools are emerging throughout the territory.
Sidney Gavignet, skipper of the MOD70 OMAN SAIL, comments : “The OMAN SAIL project is very close to my heart and the support itself is a real honor. The idea of the Sultanate is to create a sailing industry which works in parallel to the business of tourism to develop jobs. Within our team, there are Omani sailors who are opening up to the challenges of the maritime world. Today our story continues with the launch of OMAN SAIL and here together I see in the eyes of my teammates a whole lot of emotion. This is a first for us all, a touching, important moment in our history together.”
On the sporting front, the crew of the MOD70 OMAN SAIL will use the coming weeks to train, learning how to to take control of their trimaran and at the same time to continue the selection of the crew who will participate in the KRYS OCEAN RACE. However, Sidney and his crew are not starting with a completely blank page as they have already taken the opportunity to complete two sessions of workouts aboard another MOD70, Race For Water.
Sidney Gavignet : “OMAN SAIL is undoubtedly the new kid of this fleet as it is the latest and newest boat to be launched before the KRYS OCEAN RACE. We still actually only have a little less than three months of preparation. However, we sailed in Race for Water completed a short apprenticeship, learning the ropes recent weeks. We will now continue this learning aboard OMAN SAIL. Soon we plan to be training from Port La Forêt with Foncia and Edmond de Rothschild Group in two weeks and then to follow up a training week off comprising some night sails, all the time logging crucial performance data. Certainly, other teams at the moment are more experienced but our OMAN SAIL crew are good. Our goal for this first race is to finish it and do our best to be in the best possible place. “
By Fred Deichmann
Spirit of Bermuda enters Newport Bermuda Race in a Class of Her Own
The Bermuda Race Organizing Committee is pleased to announce that the Bermuda Sailing Foundation’s sail-training schooner Spirit of Bermuda will join the 2012 Newport Bermuda Race fleet, sailing in the new “Spirit of Tradition” Division. Her participation is expected to provide a demonstration of her sailing prowess in the spirit of the seafaring traditions of the Islands of Bermuda.
Because of Spirit of Bermuda’s three-mast schooner rig, she is unable to be fairly and officially rated for competition against the modern design boats that make up the rest of the fleet, and so will sail in a class by herself. Her “Spirit of Tradition” Division will highlight both her traditional design and the prevalence of the schooner rig in yachts racing in the early years of the Newport Bermuda Race.
Spirit of Bermuda is a purpose-built sail-training vessel owned by the Bermuda Sailing Foundation (www.bermudasloop.org) and based on civilian Bermudian-type schooners built in Bermuda by blacks and whites between 1810 and 1840. The original hull shape was adapted from the Bermuda-built Royal Navy “Shamrock” class: fast dispatch/patrol vessels that ran from the Royal Naval Dockyard northwest to Halifax and southwest to Jamaica to contain the rebel colonies.
In nearly six years of operation since September 2006, Spirit has provided a character development program based on experiential learning to over 2,600 young people and has sailed over 38,000 miles in overseas voyages to 17 ports in 10 countries.
Alan Burland, Chairman of the Bermuda Sailing Foundation, said, “The opportunity to participate in the Newport to Bermuda Race will help us to achieve our goal of providing experiences that instill Bermuda pride in our youth. We are honoured to be launching the new Spirit of Tradition Division.”
Spirit of Bermuda was designed by noted naval architect Bill Langan of Langan Design Associates of Newport, RI, built by Rockport Marine in Rockport, Maine and launched in 2006. Built to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) standards and operating to United Kingdom regulations under the Bermuda flag, she is 86 feet on deck and 118 feet overall including her bowsprit, and displaces 230,000 lbs.
The “Spirit of Tradition” Division in the 2012 race is an invitational demonstration division developed to experiment with the re-introduction of traditional schooner rigged vessels to the Newport Bermuda Race. Whether this Division will be present in future races will depend on the experience of Spirit of Bermuda in 2012 and the likelihood of developing enough interest to provide competition and to warrant development of a suitable rating system for such vessels.
On the eve of the third running of Les Voiles de St. Barth, April 2-7, the palm-fringed port of Gustavia, St.Barthlemy quickly filled with an impressive array of race boats: ocean-racing maxis including the 90-foot Rambler and the Swan 112, Highland Breeze; classic beauties such the Olin Stephen-designed Dorade and the Fife-built yawl Mariella; a trio of IRC 52s, multi-hulls including the 66 Gunboat Phaedo, and two large racing classes with a mix of Melges, J/boats, and a mix of 40-footers, including the hot-off-the-press Carkeek 40, Decision.
Over 60 boats are registered for this years edition, up fromwith a large number of returning entries, proof that the regatta has filled the need for spirited competition towards the end of the winter season a time when tourism typically begins to wind down in the Caribbean. Though that was hard to tell yesterday, at the islands tiny airport, as the steady stream of small commuter planes landing were filled with a duffle bag-wielding collection of sailors from the ranks of the Americas Cup, round-the-world-ocean races, and Olympic competition, that included Gavin Brady (Vesper), Scott Vogel (Rambler), Bouwe Bekking (Nilaya), Cam Lewis (Paradox), Charlie McKee and Ross MacDonald (Mayhem), Tony Rey, Jeff Madrigali, and Nacho Postigo (Powerplay), and Dee Smith (Decision).
But its not just the professionals that flock to Les Voiles de St. Barth, the regattas program and mix of courses also appeals to a competitive group of amateur and family racers that hone their skills on the growing circuit of Caribbean regattas that take advantage of this sailing paradise.
While not the easiest of destinations to reach some U.S. west coast sailors logged 16+ hours in transit, while others from Europe only slightly less the island of St Barths itself is a welcome reward at the end of the road: a turquoise blue, crystal-clear sea, pristine white sand beaches, and an array of fabulous restaurants just payoff for a long days journey.
Francesco Mongelli, navigator onboard Jim Swartz IRC52 Vesper, is here racing in St Barths for the first time. The Italian sailor, who sails primarily in Europe, has been racing with the Vesper crew since last October, and was clearly keen to have touched down in this French paradise, Its a mix of all the best sailing places, together with perfect weather and good food. Having spent the afternoon in a tender carefully checking out the coastline and charted (and uncharted) rock outcroppings, Mongelli added, Its pretty similar to Porto Cervo, the difference is that there you more or less know where everything is, and the charts are accurate. You cannot take the same risk here that wed take in Porto Cervo.
Racing will run from Tuesday, April 3 Saturday, April 7 and will feature a mix of Olympic triangles, short coastal courses, and a 20-30 nautical mile round-the island race. The fleet will be split into seven classes: Maxi (> 21 meters), IRC52 (former TP52s that have been optimized for the IRC rule), Spinnaker I + II, Non-Spinnaker (racer/cruiser), Classic (vintage/traditional), and Multihull. Thursday is a layday at Nikki Beach, with lunch and a full afternoon of activities, including a paddleboard competition.
New this year, Les Voiles will offer real-time race tracking with 2D visualization via the internet. Waypoint-Tracking (www.waypoint-tracking.com) developed the system in close collaboration with ISAF. The site will allow enthusiasts to follow the daily racing action live or to replay at a later time.
Many of the competing boats are moored stern-to at the Quai General de Gaulle, site of the Race Village, where all of the daily breakfast and post-race activities and music take place. This evening, skippers and tacticians were on hand for the Skippers Briefing led by Loic Ponceau, Race Committee Chairman, and organizers Francois Tolede, Luc Poupon, and Annelisa Gee. Following that was Les Voiles St. Barth Opening Ceremony, where Bruno Magras, President of the Collectivit of St. Barth, welcomed more than 500 sailors to the weeklong event.
A regular and enthusiastic competitor in the Caribbean, Sir Peter Harrison was named the godfather or patron of this years Les Voiles. Harrison, owner of the 115-foot Farr-designed Sojana, told the crowd, As a visitor from England to this beautiful French island, one of the most beautiful in the West Indies, Im thrilled to be asked to the patron of Les Voiles. Bon vent Les Voiles de St. Barth, and good luck, everyone!
Also sailing on Sojana is Lionel Pan, who is also back for his third Les Voiles. He said, Obviously there are plenty of good reasons to be here, and to come back every year with the same enthusiasm: this place is made for sailing. In a very short time, Les Voiles de St. Barth has become the place to be, very much like Saint Tropez in the Mediterranean. And the word is spreading around. Shortly there will be a waiting list to be a part of the event!
The weather forecast for the next few days calls for light winds, though the breeze is expected to increase throughout the week. Racing is scheduled to start tomorrow, Tuesday, April 3, two miles northwest of Sugarloaf Rock off Gustavia; one race is scheduled with a start time of 12noon.