Saturday, May 12, 2018

CLOSED FOR SAILING


Not really closed, you can post comments and I will do my best to reply but I will be too busy having fun to post...except if I have to take shelter from the Meltemi (I hope not).

If you want to follow my voyage you can do that on my facebook page where I post photos of the places where I stay (normally at anchor). That's in Portuguese but the Facebook translator is pretty good.
https://web.facebook.com/paulo.pernao

Don't ask me where I plan to sail to because I do not really have a plan. I sail accordingly to the conditions to where sailing is nicer and the wind is not too strong or too weak. Lots of great choices on the Aegean and almost any direction has interesting places and nice anchorages.

I sail out of Nea Peramos (photo below) where Stavros Manitsas has a great shipyard. He is a very nice guy, I like the ambiance and the only thing fixed about this trip is the endpoint, at Nea Peramos (Makedonia, Greece) again, sometime in October.



Friday, May 4, 2018

AG2R, GREAT RACING ON THE 32ft TRANSAT


For the ones that are not following, a strong recommendation, don't miss it, the race has been great. Now for the first time the leaders, the duo  Hardy/ Ruyant, have managed some advance (18.5 miles) and are pursued by Simon/Lagraviere that have Marchand/Loison at 28 miles.

These are all top young sailors and we all remember on last Vendee the great performance of Thomas Ruyant sailing his very broken IMOCA to safety: he did not want to lose the boat because he knew he would have difficulty in finding another sponsor or another boat. Remember that great story here:
http://interestingsailboats.blogspot.gr/2016/12/what-do-you-call-drama-with-happy-end.html

The ladies, on Team work, are sailing at 10th place at about 110 miles from the leader. They are also great sailors and the best women solo sailors from the new generation. Clarisse is also racing but she has yet a lot to learn to reach the level of Justine and Isabelle. Clarisse is teaming with a man, a good sailor, Le Turquais and is 14th at 155 miles.

The tracker: http://player.georacing.com/player_ag2r2018/

Saturday, April 28, 2018

THE UNKNOWN TOP TRANSAT IN 32ft RACERS


Well, it is not really unknown but out of France and out of those sailors that really like duo or solo racing, it is pretty much confidential. How I do know that? Just look at the number of views on the videos: pretty much ridiculous. How do I know it is a great race? I have followed it for many years but if you don’t believe me, just look at the sailors that have won or have finished on the first positions:

In 1992 on the winner duo was a certain Michel Desjoyeaux ( before winning two times the Vendee Globe), in 1994 the winners where Le Cam and Roulain Jourdain, in 1996 Gautier was part of the duo that won and Franck Cammas was on the duo that finished 3rd. In 1998 two of the best sailors ever, the duo Cammas/Desjoyeaux finished only in 8th place, Lionel Lemonchois was part of the duo that won in 2000 and Yan Ellies was on the team that finished 7th. In 2004 Le Cleach was part of the winning team and he would win again in 2010, before winning the last Vendee Globe.



You get my drift: on the list of winners of this Transat we can find most of the best solo sailors, the ones that today race IMOCAS or have won the VOR and the quality of the participants is very, very high, most of them coming from the minis and having already sailed the Figaro championship for some years. Some that race already on IMOCAS.

Most have been professional sailors for a long time and some of the participants have already a contract and will have a brand new IMOCA for racing the next Vendee Globe, among them the ones that lead for several days and are now 2nd, Simon/Lagraviere. I mean Lagraviere has already an IMOCA and raced the last Vendee, Simon will have a brand new boat designed by JK.

You have also some of the best women sailors, Justine Mettraux that has left the VOR Dongfeng to make it, teaming with Isabel Joschke and Clarisse (the one that finished 2nd on the last mini transat –series) teaming with Le Turquais.



As usual the race is very interesting with lots of different routing options. I will not be following it here since I am going to sail away and don’t have time to post anymore but the important thing is to draw your attention to this race.

You can follow it on your own and if you like sail racing you are going to love it: great sailors, small one class fast boats, lots of them (20) and to make things more interesting, they have already had bad seas and over 30k winds off the Portuguese coast and probably more will be on the way. Two boats retired with broken masts and one with a broken boom…and the race is just beginning. Enjoy the AG2R: http://player.georacing.com/player_ag2r2018/

Thursday, April 5, 2018

VOR - THE NEW BOAT, THE BEST VIDEOS




Now that all seems to be defined on this leg, it is time to have a look at the race: A new race leader, Dongfeng, a new leg winner, team Brunel, that made an impeccable race. Dongfeng made a magnificent effort to catch Brunel, that had managed a 50nm advance, but it fell just a bit short, only 15 minutes, after 17 days of race.

The third was AksoNobel; the 4th, unless they have big problems on the boat, will be TTP and Mapfre will finish last after having suspended the race for 12 hours for repairs. Scallywag abandoned the race after having lost a crew member and Vestas abandoned after having lost the mast.



Dongfeng is leading the race without having won any leg and it may very well win the race without any leg victory. The rules with double points on some legs  and points earned here and there contributes to that. Dongfeng have already won several Port Races but those don't add any points on this edition.

Four legs to go and one, Newport to Cardiff, with double points. Four boats can still win the race, Mapfre and the ones that made the podium on this leg. This has been a very competitive edition and in what regards that, one of the best VOR ever.



About the new boat there are big news: it seems that it will be designed following the IMOCA box rule and that will allow not only these boats to race the Vendee Globe but also the ones that race the Vendee to race the VOR. Probably the masts will be different (bigger the one for the VOR) as well the running rigging that will be adapted either for solo racing or for crewed racing.

This idea was proposed from the beginning but was initially rejected by IMOCA. Things have evolved since then and there are now very promising talks between the two organizations and the designer, Guillaume Verdier, regarding the possibility of a a boat that could race both races. Verdier is also the best IMOCA designer so it should not be difficult for him to design a great new VOR, faster, easier to sail and offering a better protection to the crew.



The New VOR would be considerably beamier with a bigger RM, a superior stability, easier to sail and therefore not needing such a big crew as the VOR65.

Recently Thomas Luven, the two time winner of the Solitaire du Figaro and navigator of the VOR65 TTP was asked in an interview if the VOR 65 was a completely missed design, as it was said by Charles Caudrelier, Dongfeng's skipper. He made some expert explanations that help us to understand
what is wrong with this boat.



In the opinion of most skippers, it is a boat "completely missed" as said Charles Caudrelier.


"In what regards racing, at the conception level, this boat is far from being a marvel, says Nicolas Lunven. It is heavy, but not very stiff in what regards sail area. It must be sailed with lots of sail area for sailing fast, but it does not have enough righting moment. When the sea is strong, it is hard to steer, and heels too much. It is too difficult to get into speed. It is necessary all the time to make sail changes. The center of gravity of this boat is high, so it is unstable. It is very tiring to maneuver. You need a big crew. For sure it is strong, the structure is very reinforced. If we pushed like that on a crewed IMOCA, it would break in a week. "


The next boat, currently being designed by French architect Guillaume Verdier's team, would be a mix of VOR 65 and Imoca. It should be able to be crewed and sailed solo after some modifications. Plans are eagerly awaited.

"It will be designed differently, says Lunven, It will be necessary to ensure that it offers better protection, that will be more efficient, at least four tons lighter and with an heavier bulb so that it is stiffer to the sails" (interview to the Journal Ouest France, translated)



And it is with great satisfaction that I hear also some saying that the organization of the VOR is thinking not only about changing the actual crew rules but also the model of the race. The actual crew rules make this race something strange: it's the biggest offshore crewed sail race but instead of being raced by the best, is raced by crews with a mixture of top sailors, rookie young sailors and women both chosen not by their intrinsic value as sailors, but because their choice allows bigger crews.

What I heard makes a lot of sense: the actual VOR 65 will be raced by young crews, with an age limit and top IMOCAS will be raced by smaller crews (they talk about 4 to 6) of top sailors, the best sailors in the world. That would make the VOR a real top race not only by its difficulty but because it would reunite all top sailors.That is far from happening today.


Monday, April 2, 2018

CIRCUMNAVIGATING BY THE HORN ON A MAXUS 22


That's crazy? Yes, lots of risks taken if we consider that Szymon Kuczyński, the Polish sailor that is doing that, is making it solo and non stop. I am not an apologist of promoting craziness but the fact is that this sailor had done it already by the Panama canal four years ago on the same boat. I posted here about it: http://interestingsailboats.blogspot.pt/2014/11/circumnavigating-on-small-coastal-boat.html

This circumnavigation is a completely different affair, he is not only doing it by the Horn, sailing on the Southern ocean at high latitudes, but he is also trying to beat the "record" circumnavigation for small boats established by Alessandro Di Benedetto 8 years ago on a modified 21ft mini racer, a kind of record I don't think  should be encouraged.

I mean the sail circumnavigation record  on the smallest boat makes about as much sense as the  solo record circumnavigation for the younger or oldest person, or for the biggest sailboat. 

It is just too dangerous and on the sportive level it means nothing. Sure one has to be a great sailor to do that but there are a huge number of great solo sailors and the competition between them in equal terms is what counts for sportive meaning. The Mini transat results are by far more meaningful regarding the competitiveness of solo sailors on small boats than any of these circumnavigations that are adventures.

Confirming the risks these high latitude circumnavigations in small boats have, both Benedetto and Szymon had the boats crippled near the Horn, having capsized over 90º. Benedetto lost the mast and had to improvise a jury rig that allowed him to complete the circumnavigation.

Szymon has not lost the mast but has made a bent on it and it was so weakened that he had to dismount the boom and strengthen the mast tying the spinnaker pole around it, using also several cables for better support. He is only using forward sails to diminish mast lateral stress.

Benedetto not stop circumnavigation on the mini racer and Szymon one on the Maxus 22 will remain as incredible feats not only in what regards sailing but mostly in what regards living for half a year under atrocious conditions in a tiny space crowded with all the food one needs for survival for that time. 

Let's hope his mast holds on till the end. He is not far from finishing, but not far is still a lot of miles to cover. He is entering the doldrums and approaching the equator, almost entering North Atlantic. You can follow his track here: https://share.garmin.com/atlanticpuffin

The Maxus 22 is a polish made boat, a good design but this boat was modified expressly for doing a circumnavigation and the differences in strength, seaworthiness and stability are huge. 

The original Maxus 22 is a category C boat, a boat for sheltered waters when this Maxus 22 could probably bee certified as Class A and certainly as B.

This boat, the Puffin, has not made "only" two circumnavigations with this sailor, but also other offshore voyages and among them one made by two Polish girls, Katarzyna Sałaban and Dobrochna Nowak, from Poland to Iceland and back, a cruising voyage this one.

Some interesting data from that voyage: Maritime miles: 3411 Sailing time: 700h. Average speed; 4.87kt. Engine hours: 0.  Number of hours in the wind over 6˚ B: 150h.  Wind over 40 knots: 48h. Wind above 50 knots: 8h

The objective is to prove that it is not needed a big and expensive boat to cruise offshore. 

Benefiting from the publicity these extensive offshore voyages  have done to this boat the shipyard could and should make a replica of this very special Maxus 22 and offer it as a small series, as an offshore category A or B sailboats, even if at the cost of a much higher price. I would be very interested in knowing how much such a version would cost. 

 I hope you don't buy a standard Maxus 22 and try to sail it offshore, much less to cross the Atlantic on it. Remember the standard Maxus 22, in all its comercial versions is only certified category C, an inshore sailboat:" boats operating in coastal waters and large bays and lakes". All this publicity about a Maxus 22 circumnavigating can be dangerous if someone thinks that they are talking about a standard Maxus 22.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

VOR: GREAT RACING AT THE HORN


Leaving behind a tragic accident, the race goes on and hotter than ever with several boats trying slightly different approaches to the Horn. Brunel is making a fantastic race, determined to win, maintaining and even increasing their lead over all the others.

Except for Brunel that managed to increase its lead to almost 50nm, all others are very close with Vestas being the fastest on the last 24 hours, winning over everybody and overtaking Dongfeng.

Conditions are strong but better than what was predicted some days ago: mostly between 25 and 30kt. They left behind the worst of the bad weather and their transition to the Atlantic ocean should be done without problems. The same cannot be said about Scallywag that, due to the MOB situation, is almost two days behind.

They will get worse weather than the one that will be experienced by the other boats. I don't know if they have retired from this leg. I did not see any statement regarding that but the tracker is not giving them as racing so probably that's the case. If so, without the pressure to go fast, they will be in a better position to maneuver to avoid the worst of the bad conditions.

Talking about bad conditions and danger you may like to know that a little Westsail 32 is approaching the Horn too, solo sailed by Jerome Rand. Crazy stuff given the conditions on the area. I wish him all the best and lots of luck. That's not the first small boat to have passed the Horn lately.

Even more crazy was the passage of a little Maxus 22. The boat had been modified with a different keel with much more ballast and strengthened. Also a solo sailor on a non stop circumnavigation, the Polish Szymon Kuczyński, that had previously solo sailed the same boat around the world.

Regarding the MOB on Scallywag and the loss of John Fisher, not much more is known. He had, like all the other sailors on the volvo a Spinlock lifejacket that incorporates an AIS MOB with a stroboscopic light. That device is able to pinpoint a MOB position on the boat plotter with a very small margin of error, just some few small meters.

The device has a working life of 24 hours and the signal is received on a 5nm radius. With a 10 hour search it is hard to understand why they could not find him and I continue to think that something went wrong. Did the MOB AIS or the boat AIS receptor malfunction? Was he using the life jacket? As strange as it may seem the race rules don't make mandatory the use of a lifejacket or the use of an harness in any conditions. Look at the photos on the post.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

VOR MAN LOST OVERBOARD: SOMETHING WRONG



Yes of course, accidents are inevitable and racing involves always some sort of risk. But there were two cases of man overboard on this race, both on the same boat. It can be a coincidence but I remember the first sailor was wearing a black tee shirt that made difficult his localization, even on good sea conditions (according to statements of a crew member). Why is it not mandatory bright colors on the crew equipment?

Now another one in very demanding conditions and this time a man lost. As I said accidents are unavoidable and a man overboard can happen, what should not happen is not finding him. And it is unacceptable because there are ways that would have allowed to find him. That is absolutely unacceptable on a top race like the VOR where state of the art technology is everywhere.

Why is not mandatory a MOB AIS device on all sailors, on demanding conditions?  No, it is nothing new, neither expensive or big. It can fit in almost any pocket of the sea suit they are wearing in bad weather. Sure, they could have taken too much time to find him on a 9º water...or maybe not but that is not the point. The point is that they should be able to find him and give him a chance.

Many will say that I should not be saying this at this moment over a dead man out of respect. I disagree, I believe that it is now, and on his memory, that this should be said, not to happen again. Risks are inherent to any racing activity but there is no excuse for avoidable risks and the risk of not finding a man overboard is an avoidable one....it is only necessary a piece of personal equipment that costs 250 €.

Edited with new information: It seems that all the crews have the new Spinlock life-jacket that includes a MOB AIS, the one that is picture above with the stroboscopic light. the question remains, they searched for 10 hours and could not find him. Why?!!! if he had a MOB AIS active and a very visible lifejacket with a yellow head cover?

Did the AIS MOB malfunctioned? Was the boat AIS receptor out of service? Was he wearing a life-jacket? Somebody said that his disappearance was only noticed two hours after and that may explain why they have not found him, since the MOB AIS range is 5nm, but that MOB AIS sets on not only the AIS alarm but the DSC VHF alarm. How is it possible that, with a big crew, nobody was with him on the deck on bad weather? How it was possible that nobody has heard the alarms?

Regarding the MOB AIS, it is not only necessary to have it aboard but having it all the times outside and if the lifejacket is not used extensively, it should be carried on any pocket on the vest one is using. The MOB AIS is small and much more comfortable then the life jacket.

Note that I am not advocating the non use of the lifejacket, quite the contrary, but fact is that the race rules don't make the use of the lifejacket mandatory in any circumstances and we can see many photos with difficult conditions where the sailors are not using a lifejacket.