Saturday, October 25, 2014


A pity they show so little footage from the bad weather part: they wanted to make a balanced movie with all parts of the race but it is a pity the movie to be so small. Certainly they have much more footage from the stormy part. What they show is just great ;-)

And another one taken by one of the fastest boats on the race (it appears also on the official video) the cookson 50 Cantankerous they were only 22th on IRC but this year big boats had no luck because they get much more light wind and less strong wind than the smaller boats. Anyway to give it a measure of their speed, that can be seen on the movie, they were among the first boats to arrive only beaten by the Maxi Esimit, the Mini maxi Shockwave and Ran and narrowly by the 60ft Wild Joe but they beat the B2  (a very fast TP 52), the VOR 70, three VOR 60, an Open 60, a Swan 82 and a 60.


First let me tell you that Saphire Yachst (a Switzerland builder) has nothing to do with Saffire yachts (a Dutch builder). Both words means the same but their boats are quite different even if both fast.Saffire builds daysailers and till now beautiful classical daysailers, at least classical above the waterline because the hulls are moderns and the keels are just performance torpedo keels. The building is high quality and with top modern materials and Technics so, the boats are light...and fast. 

This one is just a bit different since without losing the classical looks, all in what regards hull design and rig was performance orientated, including a long LWL.

The boat was selected for the European boat of the year contest and tested by several boat magazines and the results have been surprisingly good: On one of the tests they reached 17.8k!!!! You have only to look at the way the boat sails on the videos and to the big grin on the ones that are testing it to understand that is a great boat, very fast and very fun to sail.

The Saffier 33 is very light (2800kg), narrow (2.72m), with a big B/D ratio ( 39%) and a moderated draft ( 1.40m) and a big SA for the weight, specially downwind (SA upwind 45m2, SA downwind 97m2). The result is a beautiful boat, very well built with great interiors for a daysailer or weekend cruising and a blast to sail even solo since this boat has the running rigging adapted to it.

This boat runs for the European boat of the year on the same category as the AD44 and is its most serious rival. The AD 44 will have to prove that it sails as well as this beauty to have a winning chance.

This type of boats, beautiful and that give a huge sailing pleasure, designed for short period cruising or daysailing are in the rise in Europe, I mean on the market. It seems that there are many people that finding out that during their active life have not much time for cruising (just weekends and some weeks on the holidays) have understood that this type of boats, lighter, faster and more rewarding to sail are more adapted to their needs than a cruiser that they will not use as such for lack of time. It is a good thing because their boats will not only be more fun to sail as they are normally more beautiful since they allow to the designers more freedom to express their ideas.

The movie from Yacht de test (you have to click on the link):

The movie from Zeilen test:

and just look how well it surfs waves :-)

Friday, October 24, 2014


The Scarlet Oyster is a well know sailboat, a 26 year old Oyster 48 Lightwave with a great crew that manage to achieve surprisingly good results on Oceanic Races. The Oyster 48 is a living memory from the times Oyster made some very fast and light boats.
This edition of the Middle Sea race looked like the kind of race where they excel and they were making a great race when they broke the rudder. The story:

“We have two reefs in the main and the storm jib up, we saw 48 knots of wind and we have seen waves of over 20 feet. It is pretty tasty out here and we are most definitely concentrating on keeping everyone safe on board rather than boat speed. However, we surfed down a wave and it was too much for the rudder. It was a sickening sight as half of it appeared out of the back of the boat and for us the race is now over. Although Pantelleria is only a short distance away, we cannot steer towards the harbour there, so we are making are way towards Mazara del Vallo on the Sicilian coast and should be their tonight – absolutely gutted would be an understatement.”

When I read that I thought: WOW!!! these guys lost the rudder on the middle of a storm with 50K winds and didn't call for help: no Mayday, not even a Pan Pan but will they be able to make it to port on their own on these conditions?

This is the answer:
"The initial plan was to sail back to Sicily under this configuration but as the sea state worsened they decided to stream the drogue and turn the yacht downwind, using the sails and the drogue for some steerage as they pointed towards Malta. 
She is a twenty seven year old yacht weighing in at thirteen and half tons and her high profile long keel meant that she was very well behaved throughout initially sailing in a steady straight line under hove to sail configuration with ease. 
After one of the drogue lines snapped the decision was made to try sailing towards the shelter of the tiny Mediterranean Island of Pantelleria and this involved some strategic thinking to work out how many gybes and manoeuvres it would need to get there with such limited steering capability.

Late last night Scarlet arrived at the east side of Pantelleria and tied up behind an anchored fishing boat where a fellow Italian Rolex Middle Sea Race competitor was also hiding from the storm. Bliss! 
The crew prepared to get some rest, but just as they were about to drop off, the fishing boat they were secured to decided to put to sea! This meant that the already exhausted and seasick crew were tasked with hoisting the sails again and attempting the difficult manoeuvre of anchoring Scarlet under sail with no manouverabilty. Eventually in the pitch darkness they managed it and could finally get some rest. 

The Italians generously leant Ross their custom made emergency rudder which was strapped to a pole and used to wield out the back of the yacht to provide steerage. This enabled the yacht to get to the harbour of Scaira this morning where Ross is now desperately trying to make repairs and sort out a solution to get the yacht back to Malta. If anyone can do it, this man can - Ross Appleby is one of the most determined and resourceful skippers we know!
"I doubt that we could have done what we did on a modern build lighter race boat" says Andy Middleton "The weather conditions out there were pretty horrendous and the waves towered above us up to about eight to twelve metres with breaking seas and 48 knots of wind across the deck so we had a bit on but the yacht was built to last and we managed to get her to safety"

Truly amazing these guys and what a lesson of seamanship to all those that call a Mayday and abandon their sailingboats in much lighter circumstances. I hope on day to be that good :-)
And also some short but great movies made on the boat not only won the two handed class but also made 4th overall on IRC!!! They have made a fantastic race making it in d5 h4 m38 s44. They were among the last to finish it but they were faster than for instance an Akilaria class 40 , a Dufour GL 500 or a Fast 42...and they finished while many bigger boats give up.  A very well sailed Azuree 33 going with 40k winds:

The crew of thhis Azuree 33 is a very curious one:  

Stig Westergaard two times winner of the Finn gold cup a Soling champion medallist and two round the world races racing with a NA designer Pierpaolo Ballerini. Well, Ballerini know the boat very well, it is a Ceccarelli design but Pierpaolo was part of the design team, not less than the project manager ;-)
And it was not and easy race, I mean not only the storm, they had to dive in the middle of the night to free the boat from a huge net!!!! The story:

“On the first night we were caught in a fishing net, I don't like swimming in the dark but was round the keel the propeller everywhere, it cost us nearly two hours. When the storm arrived, we didn't know that it would be so strong, we thought it would be sailable and we were doing well in the race but as the smallest boat in the race, we got washed away big time. For us it was a case of stay in one piece during the night and make sure we make breakfast. Paolo and I are a match made in heaven for Double Handed, we were able to win our class and fourth overall because we are a combination of a sailor and a seaman. Any practical issue on board, Paolo took care of including all of the sail changes and I focused on driving the boat. Even in the heavy weather, the relationship didn't change. Paolo was struggling with sea sickness but Paolo showed exceptional stamina. He was still up on the foredeck, sea sick and changing sails in 40 knots, that takes tremendous courage.”

And the best collection of photos posted by Yacht de on their site:
and here too,on the Rolex site:
It seems that we are looking at the photos of one of the bad/good editions of the Sydney-Hobart ;-)

Thursday, October 23, 2014


There are still many boats making it for Malta, some in the race, some that had abandoned and taken a short from Sicily not turning around Pantelleria. After a very rough night the winds are still over 30k, some boats registering well over 40K. The ones that know what kind of sea this winds can rise on the Med know what they are passing through.

Here wild Joe, a Reichel Pugh 60 finishing the race.

Many boats retired due to the weather but also many due to breakage and the situation is not clear because that "invitation" from the Coat Guard to suspend the race (that I talked about on the last post) in what regards the boats that were near Pantelleria it was not an invitation but an order from the Port Captain to suspend racing and enter the port (the race rounded Pantelleria Island). There are boats that could have just stop racing not because they have abandoned but because they thought the race was suspended. Not a word about this on the official site but some here as well as photos:

That A13 that was making a fantastic race had really bad luck: they lost the mast at 20nm from the finish line.

Regarding the sea conditions these words by a very experienced racer (crew on the winning J122) are meaningful: “The sea was big, it was very windy, we don't know exactly how windy because the windex at the top of the rig blew off! – yes this race is up there with the toughest Hobarts I have done. In fact we were saying on board 'when was the last time we saw a sea like this?' and I had to say it was during a windy Sydney Hobart but to have those conditions for over 24 hours is very rare, almost exceptional. You are always learning in this game and the experience showed me that it is good to go with a bloody good crew! Truly, it is the only way you can sail the boat like we did. If you don't have a good crew, you just won't get through it or you will break things and when it comes down to it – a good crew is what you need and we have done a lot of miles together on Artie, they are my nephews, my friends and we have been together for thousands of miles at sea.

And this leads us to the winner on compensated (IRC ans ORC), a J122, a local boat (Malta) that had made just an incredible race. They did not manage to beat the first racing Class40 (a Pogo S2) that was about 2h 45m faster but they managed to be faster than a very fast XP44  (second on compensated). Regarding boats of the same size and type (performance cruisers) they were only beaten by this beauty:
That proved the Neo 400 is not only a beauty but a hell of a sailboat even on nasty seas. I had posted about it on the old thread but it will deserve a new post here...soon. The Neo 400 did not only beat that J122 (Artie) by 4 hours as it was faster than any 40class boat, beating that racing Pogo by more than an hour and the second (that was also beaten by the first J122) by more than 6 hous!!!!

What a boat, Ceccareli got this one right: it is not only able to win on compensated ( 3rd in ORC ) as it is incredibly fast in real time, that in the end is what it matters, at least for me.

A M34, the small racing boat that was used for the "Tour the France", showed once more that it is a very seaworthy boat, not only finishing, but making a great time. Also great races from a brand new Azuree 46 and a Grand Soleil 46, two comfortable cruisers that show that you can have comfort speed and seaworthiness at a reasonable price.

Kuka-light is a very fast 42ft but it seems that this year they did not manage to finish. Here they are on the water, on the stormy seas:

and Jolokia is an old Vor 60. They finished this race but the result was not good, They were beaten in real time by the small Neo 400.

Some selected results by real time order.

Coockson 50 d4 h2 m14 s;20 Carkeek 47 d4 h4 m12 s25 ; Swan 60 d4 h6 m7 s39; Swan 82 d4 h6 m11 s3; Farr 52 OD d4 h6 m26 s40; Cookson 50 d4 h6 m31 s55;  Neo 400 d4 h9 m30 s0; Pogo S2Class40 d4 h10 m49 s0;  DK46 d4 h13 m7 s0; Sydney GTS 43 d4 h13 m57 s51; J 122 d4 h13 m35 s5; XP44 d4 h14 m1 s11; BM Class40 d4 h15 m59 s55 Swan 45 d4 h16 m3 s54; Azuree 46 d4  h17 m9  s5; Grand Soleil 46 d4 h19 m55 s52 ; M34 d4 h20 m45 s19 20; j122 d4 h21 m40 s35 ; Swan 48 d5 h0 m9 s18; 

A word for the winner in compensated in ORC and IRC, Artie, a J122 (their words):
“It was a very very tough race. The crew have worked around the clock from day one and the race didn't start well for us but during day two we started to get our the shifts right and co-skippers Sebastian and Christian Ripard did a great job on the tactics and the end result was a series of correct decision that put us in a good position before the storm arrived. As always, having a good crew on board allows you to give the effort an extra push, with a good boat and an excellent crew are intention at the start was to win ...But now having had the opportunity to reflect on the race, even more important than winning was the achievement of actually finishing the race in the conditions that we had out there. Even near the end my worry was not finishing, right up until the end, we knew boats were in difficulties, which was very unfortunate and that was playing on my mind until we crossed the finish line. I would like to emphasize that one thing we really promote on Artie, throughout the year, is that we have young dinghy sailors on board and a main objective is to get these youngsters out sailing, combining them with our regular crew to create the future sailors that will be representing Malta.”

And from the Neo 400 (translated from Italian with some liberty):
"With us was a veteran of the Volvo Ocean Race and he said he never would thought that in the Mediterranean the sea could be like that with eight meters with a breaking and a a that has increased quickly from 20K to 25K and then up to 35K and 40 knots, so constant, relentless. At the end we saw 48 knots, without a break for 200 miles. We sailed between Lampedusa and Malta, for us the worst part, with storm jib and the mainsail with two reefs. We were consistently between 16 and 18 knots, with peaks around 22 and beyond. At 22 knots the log was out of water and did not work anymore, so we do not know how much speed we made, but it was really tough. The unusual thing was that the wind never fell, normally happen to take a blow at the Middle Sea, has happened to me often in the past, but this time the wind was violent, has been increasing steadily and there were never moments to rest as usually occurs. 40-45 knots for at least 12 consecutive hours, it was really hard.

Between Pantelleria and Lampedusa the sea was already very difficult and for us the wind was still about 25 knots. On the leeward of Lampedusa we sailed at 18 knots with flat water A3, two reefs on the main and J3, beautiful, then once out of the shelter of Lampedusa, well, the sea clearly advised us imediate prudence. An extreme situation. Waves as ever I've ever seen in Mediterranean and we manage of the boat in safety without giving up performance. Going to the bow was not easy, so we did it all without risking; the boat has behaved very well and we have not broken anything, I noticed a excellent behavior under storm jib. The arrival in the channel between Malta and Comino was surreal, at night, in continuous glide at 16 knots, with rocks on the right and left....

Then along the coast of Malta till the finish a continuous glide at 16 knots,...the race committee could not believe that we had taken so little time doing that Utrecht. Very tiring the last 200 miles, following the first three days of light winds,....It was a race where you, besides the result (that leaved us very satisfied) you realize how important was to bring the boat home with all the crew safely. We have outsailed 50 fters and beaten boats like the B2 and a Cookson 50..."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Yes the Med in the end of October can be quite nasty and about half of the editions of this race are prove of that. This year was a rough one even if the beautiful movies of the departure did not indicate that, but the Med can change on a  blink of an eye and that happened this year.

Waiting from the on boat movies, that this year will be certainly great, we have already some interesting news: There is a brand new A13 racing and is making a hell of a race covering 160Nm at the average speed of 18K!!!. There is also a Xp44 and two J122 making a great race. As usual on this race I bet that the class40 racers will be beaten by fast narrower performance cruisers: Definitively not at ease on the Med, the class40.

 The big fast racers had already arrived and as usual the fastest was the already old (and narrow) Maxi Esimit Europe that had finished in  d3 h10 m42 s5  followed two hours later by Ran and then Schockwave, the two mini maxi. They were the only ones that made it in less than 4 days.

Regarding the conditions this description by the skipper of a famous boat, the Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster is enlightening:   “We have two reefs in the main and the storm jib up, we saw 48 knots of wind and we have seen waves of over 20 feet. It is pretty tasty out here and we are most definitely concentrating on keeping everyone safe on board rather than boat speed. However, we surfed down a wave and it was too much for the rudder. It was a sickening sight as half of it appeared out of the back of the boat and for us the race is now over. Although Pantelleria is only a short distance away, we cannot steer towards the harbour there, so we are making are way towards Mazara del Vallo on the Sicilian coast and should be their tonight – absolutely gutted would be an understatement.”

Or this description by the skipper of the leading J122 (IRC 4): “The waves have been as high as 30 feet and the wind speed often gusting above 40 knots, it has been a really wild ride.” Commented Sebastian. “With the full main and jib top sail, we have been flying along. The game plan has been a mixture of pushing as hard as we can but also protecting the boat, so we have been taking it a bit easier in the big gusts of over 40 knots and then going for it when the wind speed drops a little.

All the way to Lampedusa we have been VMG running but when we turn the corner, Artie will be on a beam reach and we expect the waves to be crashing into the cockpit. Everybody will be on the rail, head down, hiking out for the final 100 miles. We expect to finish the race late this evening at around midnight.”

Some very nice pictures here that show the conditions out there:

and some movies of past editions that show how tough it can be:
After having made this post I have took knowledge that things were (are) a lot worse: Three sailboats had to be helped and one has abandoned with a broken mast. It is not clear if they were all racing. The Coastal Guard had issued a warning today at 13.00, talking about a  prohibitive conditions and a F8 that was going to increase inviting all participants to suspend the regatta and to enter on the nearest port. After that "invitation" several boats retired and some had to be helped to make it to port.

The situation is confuse but at least half of the 122 boats seem to have made it to port but probably many have retired and made it to port but probably there are still boats in trouble.

As I have been said, the Weather on the some Med areas is very difficult to predict and a F6/7 can become something frightening. I hope they all make it to safety.


I have posted here about most of the boats that are nominated for the the European boat of the year contest with some exceptions, boats that for a reason or other I don't like or that piss me because they could be great and become short for some reason.

That is the case of the OVNI 52 Evolution that has a great fast hull and screams for a deep swing keel with all the ballast on it, as a way of making it lighter, with more RM allowing the full exploration of that hull's speed potential. Instead it has an under-exploited hull and is a center-border as all the others on the market, with the ballast inside the boat.

The Southerly 535, abandoning the nice profile of their anterior boats assume the shape of a Oyster.
Even the denomination (535) is similar to the ones used on Oyster. The Southerly brand and style deserved better.

The Pointer 25 besides being inexpensive and relatively well designed has nothing special or innovative.

The same about the Wauquiez Centurion 57, except being cheap. Nothing new neither particularly attractive. The style is dated without being classic and only the running rigging is interesting.
The Moody 54DS I admit it is a personal thing: I was never able to like that mixture between a cat a motor sailer and a sailing boat. I know that it sails relatively well but I hate the looks, the big cabin and all the windage it will be responsible for and besides with all those vertical "windows" the boat should be incredibly hot on the Med and Caribbean where it is going to be used most of the time. I know that it has a powerful AC system (and a big generator) to solve that problem, but to me it seems  just wrong to do things that way.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Contrary to the magazines boat's of the year this contest is more relevant: It is not only the testers of a magazine that chose the boat but testers from 10 European leading sailing magazines (one for each country). All boats are tested on the water in two rounds, the last one after being selected the finalists on each category.

This year there will be two alterations: Multihulls will not be in a special class but competing with monohulls in the different classes and a  new class is introduced : Bluewater Boats. Regarding this last one, and taking into consideration the boats selected, it would seem to me more appropriated to call them Voyage Boats (that's the way the selected boats are called in Europe) but as the term is not used in the US, probably they went for a more dubious qualification. It would create some confusion since on the class of Luxury yachts there is also boats adapted to blue water sailing.

The Nominated boats:
Family cruiser: 
Dufour 310
Dufour 310

Bavaria Cruiser 46 
Dufour 310 GL
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349
Nautitech 40
 RM 890

Performance Cruiser:

Corsair Cruze 970
Dehler 46
Jeanneau SF 3600
JPK 1080

Luxury Cruiser:
Euphoria 54
Euphoria 54

Euphoria 54
 Italia 15.98
Moody 54DS
 Wauquiez Centurion 57

Special Yacht:

Advanced 44
 Astus 24
 Pogo 3
 Pointer 25
 Saffier SC 33

Blue Water Cruiser:
Boreal 52
Boreal 52

Boreal 52 
Rapier 550
Garcia Exploration 45
 Ovni 52 Evolution
 Southerly 535

The winners will be announced at the Dusseldorf boat show.