Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Finally, just some days before the winners are announced at Dusseldorf boat show, posted on their site the last of the movies, the one with the performance cruisers and multihulls tests. The variety and quality of each year crop always surprise me, from very nice and good traditional performance cruisers like the Dehler 34 to highly innovative boats like the Ofcet 32 or to a Tricat 30, that for the first time offers a good coastal cruising interior maintaining an interesting price: What a lot of beautiful and desirable boats!!!

More movies and information about the European 2017 yacht of the year contest:

Monday, January 16, 2017


After the Alex's incredible recovery of 800nm on 6 days, due to very favorable wind conditions, surprising many, Alex have managed to stay in contact with Armel, both sailors going up the Atlantic in very odd an unstable conditions, with lots of light wind patches and very unreliable forecasts. On that wind minefield they started a very exhausting battle, always with Alex pursuing relentlessly Armel and with Armel resisting to the pressure.
Those light wind conditions are, by far, the worse, in what regards strain and  exhaustion for the racers: On stronger constant winds they can regulate the boat, put it on autopilot and have some sleep without losing much time. These boats are designed to be sailed on autopilot and they go on that mode 95% of the time. 

But on very light and changing winds they have to tune the sails almost constantly, for not losing time and on those conditions it can makes a considerable difference going on autopilot or doing manual steering. When they sleep the losses can be way bigger than on more sustained wind conditions. So you can imagine the fight between the need of sleep and the will to sail the boat as fast as possible. The result can be exhaustion and if they manage to control that, at least they become very, very tired on those conditions.

15 days ago Alex had managed to be at only 34.5nm from his rival but after that Armel, on the light winds, managed to win steadily for several days and 3 days later had already an advantage of 182.4nm. Then it was the turn of Alex to catch better winds and in one day  he reduced that distance in 50nm. Next the wind was favorable for Armel that, in two days of extraordinary sailing, increased the distance for more than the double, putting between them 342nm.

I confess that I thought that with that Armel had then the race controlled....but no. In 4 days Alex managed to diminish that distance by about 263nm and was then at only 78.8nm. Then it was Armel turn and he managed to increase in two days that distance for 253nm, only to see Alex reducing again the distance, in 3 days, for 88.5nm.

After that they entered on strong winds and both put the foot down. Alex's boat is probably the fastest on those conditions and Alex loves those high speeds and hard sailing. The prove is that he beat the 24 world solo sailing record for monohulls on that chase, doing 536.81nm on 24 hours. On 31 hours Alex had managed to recover 1nm per hour over Alex, that is controlling his gains, trying to reduce the risks of breaking the boat to a minimum. Alex , off course, is in full attack mode, sailing very well and both are doing average speeds well over 20, going sometimes near 30K.

Tell me if this is not the craziest vendee globe ever!!! Never saw anything like that๐Ÿ˜‰

Alex is now at 78.4nm from Armel and they still have more 31 hours at full blast. If both manage not to break the boats, they will be facing the last challenge of the race, a ridge of high pressure already near the North coast of France. If Armel manages to continue to control Alex this way, limiting the losses to 1nm per hour, Armel will reach that point with about 58nm over Alex, meaning about a 4 hour advantage.

After that they will have only a bit more than two days sailing to the finish, but that involves a lot of  upwind sailing on light winds, tricky sailing, on conditions where the forecasts are not always very precise. We will have a great race to the final with these two fighting to the bitter end a huge war, like champions they are.

Friday, January 13, 2017

IKONE 7.50

Certainly this one deserve a post, a boat that puts a smile on the face of all that look at it. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ A funny boat that not only sails really well, except in what regards close upwind were the performance is a bit less than average, at a very inviting price, offering a big interior space and a very good stability and seaworthiness for the size.

The Ikone 7.50, that was elected last year boat of the year by the French magazine voile, was designed by Julien Marin one of the most talented and innovative young French NA and this boat shows just that innovation and talent. Nothing truly new but a successful cocktail of several well known elements on a Design that results new.

It has a  Cat boat sail configuration, a carbon almost non stayed mast (just some movable stays), a hull inspired on the minis,  a big pole also mini inspired and a twin keel to be able to stand on its "feet" on the dry. All this put together translated on a non expensive sailboat with a big full cruising interior, easy and fun to sail, able of great sailing performances in all points of sail except close upwind.

True that the quality of the finish is not great but the functionality is, as well as some delightful details like that support on the stern for having the boat stable if moored over the keels, that serves also of stair to go out or in the boat. The boat has everything, including a good galley with an oven and a closed  small head.

At  62 500 euros, including VAT it is hard to do better, even if that price does not include an interior engine that can comes as an option neither the spi (2 700 euros) neither the bath platform. I find the fixed engine ( 12 780 euros) and the bath platform unnecessary for this type of boat. with all those options the boat will cost 85 000 euros not adding much to the pleasure of cruising or sailing. 

Another great small coastal cruiser that will certainly is worth its cost in fun and cruising pleasure.

Dimensions: Length: 7.50m, Beam: 3.00m, Draft: 1.20m, Ballast: 2x420kg, Displacement: 2200kg, Mainsail: 35m2, Spi: 47m2.

Monday, January 9, 2017


Lots of interesting boats this year, as usual and among them the cute Ikone 7.5 (above). I cannot look at that one without smiling and it is certainly very interesting sailboat ๐Ÿ˜Š. Yacht magazine, the biggest European sail magazine has made a very nice movie about the 2nd round of tests, in La Rochelle, were they got more wind than on the first round in Cannes. Beautiful boats, beautiful sailing.

I had already posted some movies of the first testing round:

Thursday, January 5, 2017


Well heroes, is a form of speaking, let's say those that accomplished incredible feats of human determination, courage, showing great sailing skills and all other that make them not only great sailors but almost super men. Let's start with the Yves Parlier story on the 2000 Vendee Globe. The French at the time were was so impressed that nick named him the extra-terrestrial LOL.

Yves was at the time a top solo sailor as well as a composite engineer . He won his first mini Transat at the age of 24, with a boat built by himself, having as the most odd characteristic a carbon mast, one of the first if not the first to be used successfully in sail racing (1987).

Since then he won lots of races, was the French solo Offshore champion in 1991 and had been 4th on the 1996 Vendee Globe edition. On the 1996 edition, he had to make a pit stop to repair a rudder (and was disqualified) but even so he finished the circumnavigation anyway, out of the race, just for the sake of it. Quite different from most of today's top sailors that when they have a big problem send the boat home on a cargo.

On the 2000 edition he was decided to do a great vendee and to finish it, no matter what. He started like a bullet and was the first to reach the Austral seas beating the 24 hour solo sail record on the process.

At the middle of the big austral Ocean Desjoyeaux (the only one that managed to win two times the vendee) overtook him. Yves was on a string of bad luck having been almost stopped for two days, without wind. A big fight for the lead started then. Yves was pushing hard for several days on big winds, sailing at almost 50ยบ latitude, when, at the middle of nowhere, he lost his mast.  He sent this enigmatic message by telex: "I have dismasted. I am going on. I do not need assistance."

He knew that he was not going to win the race but he was decided to finish it without assistance at all costs. He jury rigged and started a slow journey to the almost deserted Stewart Island, on the South of NZ.

Refusing any assistance, not to be disqualified, he decided to make a rig good enough for allowing him to finish the race, meaning half way around the world. He started working but, on a moonless night, a storm with 60k winds hit him and he finished on a beach with the boat lying on the side.

 At the time we all thought that it had been a great effort, but that it had sadly ended....... Not Yves!!!!

With the aid of a raft he made with jerrycans, he manages to refloat the boat. The mast was broken in 3 pieces and he successfully joins together two of the parts making a polymerization, using an "oven" made with 25-watt bulbs, a survival blanket and polar clothing.

Alone, he manages to put the mast up, recuts the sails to the new mast size and after having made a huge harvest of seaweed, 12 days later, he sets sail for half a circumnavigation. He was already eating everything he could find ashore because he knew that the food was not going to last.

I cannot post the pictures because they are copy righted but don't miss them here. They are quite incredible. I love the raft LOL.

He got a big storm on the horn, lost all communication with land (no weather information) and was seriously weakened by the lack of food ( at this time he had only bad smelling seaweed to eat):  

"I'd collected about 400 kilos of seaweed, so it was just everywhere and there was also that smell and taste. One evening I had to force myself to eat. I really didn't want to eat any more; It made me sick. At the same time I was losing my strength. Then the wind started to pick up and my satellite phone broke down, so I no longer had any direct contact with land. I started to lose morale and threw myself at the food stores. I ate everything, all the chocolate and cheese. That was the hardest moment of the race psychologically,"

It was only by shear determination that he brought back his boat home, where he arrived about a month after Desjoyeaux , that won his first Vendee beating in extremis Ellen Mac Arthur. Even so he was not the last and left two other competitors behind. One of the best Vendees ever.

When he arrived at Sables d'Olonne he was received like an hero and had the biggest reception of the race, bigger than the winner or the one given to Ellen.

 Those are the men (and women) that made sail popular in France and it it is due to them that sail solo offshore racing has no difficulty in finding sponsoring to maintain a considerable number of professional solo sail racers. The French like them!!!

Monday, January 2, 2017


Let's start first with the ones that are used on the IMOCA that use foils, the last ones designed by Verdier and used on the Vendee Globe. These movies explain it better than any words:

But this design obviously has a problem: it substituted daggerboards that offered a very good grip upwind for foils that add practically nothing to the performance upwind and the little they offer is probably more than annulled by the extra drag.
We can see on this image (left) that when an Imoca goes upwind with the keel canted, the only thing that is on the right place as an upwind foil is that big rudder. That's why the new boats have a lousy performance upwind and the reason why on the last Fastnet, a race with upwind and downwind sailing, all the new boats were clearly beaten by older boats, even if the crews on the newer boats were probably better.

Hugh Welbourn, the father of the DSS system was the first one to show some designs regarding what could be the new foils on IMOCA boats. I made a post about that two years ago but what he proposed, even if with some similitude with the system they use had a basic difference: It would also contribute to upwind sailing.

Looking at the drawing we can see that in what regards lift it would work basically the same way but that the angle of the foil, in his more vertical part is completely different. This one is practically parallel to the rudders, meaning that it would contribute effectively for the upwind sailing performance.

Why nobody went for it? I don't know. But there is probably a good reason, or maybe not, maybe they just trusted more the one that has been designing the more successful IMOCA racers (Verdier), that has the support of VPLP in what regards very expensive programs for hydrodynamic studies and even tank testing.

Curiously the foils of the new Figaro III, designed by VPLP and probably also by Verdier, have nothing in common with the foils of the IMOCA boats, probably because the boat will be raced in many races where the upwind performance is as important as the downwind one and also to offer less drag while going upwind on light winds, also much more frequent on the racing program of the Figaro. The Figaro has also a fixed keel and that change many things in what regards foils and upwind performance.
There are also other type of foils being developed on the mini of Simon Koster, designed by by Mer Fort, even if on this one I don't understand why the foils are turned to the inside of the boat and not to the outside. These foils will also provide upwind grip. Till now the results have been not great, being the better a 3rd on the Mini en Mai race, but I am sure that the mini class, as usual, is going to contribute with a lot of experimentation and different solutions, in what regards foil development and different solutions, I hope already on some of the boats for the next mini Transat.

Anyway they are only at the beginning of the development of these foils and I am sure that very interesting and more efficient evolution will follow, just look at this baby:

Saturday, December 31, 2016


Perfect conditions for sailing this October in Trieste on the Italian sail feast, the Barcolana, with many thousands of sailors. Well, maybe too much sailors for the ones that like less stressed racing but the Italians sail as they drive and nothing seems to bother them, confusion is part of their lifestyle and they seem to like it; they make a lot of noise but in the end they come always with a smile. Can be quite confusing for an outsider LOL.
The classification is not the more important on this race but the 1700 sailing boats and the many thousands of sailors, anyway the first was old Alfa Romeu, a RP 72 that beat a K80, proving that it is still a fast boat. I guess that Trieste has the biggest sailing party on this time of the year, sailors everywhere, the local beer and wine are excellent, the city beautiful. Difficult to find a better ambiance on the sea or at the coffees, breweries and restaurants, after the race.