Sailing News Roundup: Some Sad, Some Light, Some Political

Since I do this for my enjoyment (and not yours) I will include three bits from the world of sailing.

The serious news is that a British sailor was lost at sea in the Southern Ocean in the Volvo Ocean Race. Sailor lost during Volvo Ocean Race wasn’t tethered when he was knocked overboard

Volvo Ocean Race sailor John Fisher of Britain wasn’t wearing his safety tether when he was knocked off his sloop into the frigid, remote Southern Ocean in gale-force conditions just before sunrise Monday, according to a timeline released by Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag.

Fisher, 47, was lost at sea some 1,400 miles west of Cape Horn, with no other boats within 200 miles.

In the lighter news, the final rules about the next America’s Cup race were published. America’s Cup: AC75 Class Rule Published >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News

That is the design rules for the next class of boats. They are abandoning catamarans for the time being, and going to a foiling monohull. I guess the thinking is it will be less expensive to compete. They are also putting significant limits on the number of hulls, foils, masts etc. that can be built. This should also hold down the total cost. (There are 2 videos at the site, but they are probably only of interest to sailing nerds.)

The political news is a sign of the times. Sailing’s Barcelona World Race abandoned over Catalan uncertainty

The Barcelona Race is an every-four-years regatta of 2-man teams sailing around the world. (26,000 miles) It Starts and ends in Barcelona, the capital city of Catalan, but given political “unrest” in that part of Spain, the 2018-2019 race has been canceled.


Volvo Ocean Race Boat Collision With Fishing Boat 30 Miles from Hong Kong

This is going to be a mess. Volvo Ocean Race Yacht Involved in Fatal Accident Near Hong Kong – The New York Times

A sailboat competing in the Volvo Ocean Race, a marquee around-the-world sailing competition, collided with a Chinese fishing vessel near Hong Kong early Saturday, killing one of the Chinese boat’s crew members, race organizers and Chinese state media said.

The Vestas 11th Hour Racing team managed to hit a Chinese fishing boat. They were in a tight race with the Dongfeng Race Team of China. (Conspiracy theorists, call your office.) The boat was forced to retire from the leg, though not the race. Nine members of the fishing boats crew were rescued. The tenth guy didn’t make it, despite being flown by helicopter to Hong Kong for treatment.

The collision happened at the end of the 5,600-mile segment from Melbourne, Australia, to Hong Kong.

Was the race boat keeping a watch? (The waters around Hong Kong are very congested with all kinds of traffic.) Was the fishing boat lit with proper running lights? Was the race boat for that matter? This was the end of leg 4, of a grueling around-the-world race; did fatigue play a part? These are questions that will have to be answered. Inquests can take a long time.

For some of my thoughts on Colregs (Collision avoidance regulations) see this post from after the series of US Naval vessel collisions last year.

The 2017-2018 race started in Spain on October 22nd and should end at the Hague sometime in June.

Around the World Solo Sailing Speed Record

MACIFA new record was set on Sunday, and I missed it. Francois Gabart Sets New Round-the-World Record

Gabart sailed around the world, covering 52,000 kilometers or more in 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds. (Timing brought to you by the wonders of GPS!)

On Sunday, December 17 at 2:45 (French time), Francois Gabart, onboard the Ultime Trimaran MACIF, crossed the the finish line between Cape Lizard and Ouessant to successfully end his solo world tour. On his first attempt, at the around-the-world record, Gabart smashed the standing time of 49 days, previously set by Thomas Coville, the skipper of the Sodebo Ultim. MACIF sped through the nearly 28,000 nautical mile journey in just 42 days 16 hours 40 minutes and 35 seconds.

The last time I had checked, more people walked on the moon than did the solo race around the world in these giant catamarans. (MACIF is 100ft long.)

If I can find any decent video, I will add it in the comments. (All the interviews are in French. It is a French boat, a French skipper, leaving from and returning to a French port, in sport that Americans don’t usually care about.)

The Dawn of Ocean Yacht Racing

Not surprising that the idea was fueled by alcohol. Gordon Bennett and the First Yacht Race Across the Atlantic by Sam Jefferson review – the super-rich in a thrilling contest on the waves

The dawn of ocean yacht racing can be pinpointed to a drunken night at the exclusive Union Club, on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, in October 1866.

Because what are a bunch of super-rich playboys gonna do when they are convinced they can one-up each other. The set out on Tuesday the 11th of December 1866.

It was a close race that ended on December 23rd. At least 6 men were lost overboard.

There was much fanfare in England when the boats arrived. The Queen even granted them an audience at Osborne House.

In the opinion of the Times, the Great Ocean Yacht Race was a very American innovation: “We would not say that an Englishman would not have accomplished such a race,” the paper noted, “but the idea would perhaps hardly have occurred to them.”

(That’s the London Times for those not in the know – They never specify which city, because London.)

New America’s Cup Monohull Design Introduced

America's Cup AC-75 concept for 36th runningThe next America’s Cup will be raced on foiling monohulls. THE AMERICA’S CUP CLASS AC75 BOAT CONCEPT REVEALED

The Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa design teams have spent the last four months evaluating a wide range of monohull concepts. Their goals have been to design a class that will be challenging and demanding to sail, rewarding the top level of skill for the crews; this concept could become the future of racing and even cruising monohulls beyond the America’s Cup.

Emirates Team New Zealand currently holds America’s Cup and will defend at the next running. Luna Rossa is the officially designated challenger, and both have a say in the design.

One of the problems with foiling boats traveling at 40 knots or more, is that things go bad very fast. And if that results in a capsize, a catamaran is in need of help to be righted. The AC-75 boats will be fully foiling, and self-righting in the event of a capsize.

The 36th America’s Cup match race will be held in 2021. (Preceded as always by the Louis Vuitton Regatta to select the challenger.)

Volvo Ocean Race (Leg 2 – Day 16)

The boats are back in cold weather, after a quick trip through the tropics. They should make Cape Town in about 5 more days (or less). The video below is the review of Week 2, it is mildly interesting in that it includes the equator crossing. (And so the visit from King Neptune.)

Leg 2 – Position Report – Monday 20 November (Day 16) – 13:00 UTC

1. MAPFRE — distance to finish – 1,832.6 nautical miles
2. Vestas 11th Hour Racing +32.8
3. Dongfeng Race Team +39.7
4. team AkzoNobel +62.8
5. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag +83.7
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic +88.0
7. Team Brunel – Stealth Mode

1300 Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) is 0800 Eastern Standard Time.

Team Brunel was in 2nd place when they invoked stealth mode. They had been in last place for a while, but have been steadily pulling ahead. The stealth mode lasts 24 hrs. and keeps the competitors from knowing where you are or what you are doing.

After 16 days and about 5500 miles of sailing, less than 90 miles separates the fleet.

Volvo Ocean Race: One Week Into Leg 2

After a week of open ocean sailing, less than 1 nautical mile separates the 1st and 2nd place boats. (They are about a third of the way through this leg of the race.)

The highlights video is from Thursday, but it gives you an idea of what the conditions are like.