Preparations for Race in 2020? Such is the Vendée Globe

Alone. Nonstop. Around the World. No Assistance. That is the Vendée Globe.

New boats are being launched. New teams announced. This isn’t the kind of thing you decide to do at the last minute.

The 2nd boat to bear the name La Fabrique was launched this week for her skipper. News – Alan Roura has launched his new IMOCA – Vendée Globe. (As always, click the image for a better view.)

Alan Roura could not hide his emotions on seeing that his dream will continue. The 24-year old Swiss skipper, who finished twelfth in the last Vendée Globe on one of the oldest boats in the fleet, is about to begin a new chapter in his ocean racing career.

This is no small undertaking. An IMOCA 60-foot sailboat costs between 3.5 and 4.5 million dollars, or maybe a bit more. (There is talk of introducing a cheaper class, maybe 50 ft in length, but as far as I can determine it is only talk at this point.)

The Transat (Trans-Atlantic) Race is less than 3 years off, and it serves as the qualifier for the Vendée Globe. So there is that deadline to deal with.

Getting an entire country to embrace off-shore racing is no small task. News – A new Irish project for the 2020 Vendée Globe – Vendée Globe

Nicholas O’Leary recently raced alongside Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss in the Rolex Fastnet Race. It is in fact the team that ran Thomson’s last project, led by Stewart Hosford, that is behind this new campaign called Ireland Ocean Racing. Their goal is to enable an Irishman to complete the non-stop solo round the world voyage for the first time.

Ireland Ocean Racing has some interesting information. If you’re interested in sailing, it’s interesting.


Highlights from the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta

The Main Event at America’s Cup picks up later today, with Emirates Team New Zealand up 3-to-0 over Oracle Team USA. In the meantime, they’ve been running a superyacht regatta. Highlights from the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta 2017 in Bermuda – 35th America’s Cup

A short video of the highlights of this week’s race.

Lionheart, with round the world racer Bouwe Bekking in charge, won the J Class and with it the top prize for the regatta.

The details of the J-Class are down in the weeds of yacht design, but they can be found at the Wiki. There are currently 8 boats racing that conform to the J-Class rules (as amended in 1937). 10 were built in the 1930-1937 era, but only 3 survived. The rest are recent builds with one boat being launched this year.

America’s Cup Red Bull Youth Finals

There is a regatta of youth teams competing at the America’s Cup. (See that link for today’s news story.) They are mostly sponsored by the teams and companies involved in the main event.

They are racing the old boats from 4 years ago, the AC45. And it looks like they aren’t foiling the boats. But I’m not sure if that is in the rules, or just a judgement call on the part of the skippers.

The video is interesting because is shows the pandemonium that usually characterizes regatta racing. (As opposed to match racing between two boats.)

The main event resumes tomorrow.

gCaptain: The USS Fitzgerald Is At Fault

This is an interesting, step by step outline of why the Captain of the USS Fitzgerald will be found at fault for the recent collision. The USS Fitzgerald Is At Fault. This Is Why. – gCaptain

Lots of interesting points. Here is one that is worth noting. The amount of time a merchant captain spends on the bridge of a commercial ship, dwarfs the amount of bridge time that a naval office has.

But unlike the merchant captain and the enlisted specialists working on navy ships, the U.S. Navy Captain and his bridge officer (OOD) are generalists. A large percentage of their careers are spent working shoreside jobs and their shipboard time was spent rotating through positions: the engine room, the combat information room, in administrative positions and elsewhere.

In short, the merchant ship captain and bridge officers have significantly higher number of hours spent on the bridge then their naval counterparts.

The video is not of the “Fighting Fitz,” but it is of another Arleigh-Burke Class destroyer making a 180 degree turn.

And finally, specs on the ACX Crystal. (Compare this with the 100,000 HP of the USS Fitzgerald.)

She has a single 8-cylinder diesel engine capable of pushing one propeller with 29,200 horses for 3/10ths the amount of power of the destroyer. The acceleration of a ship like this is measured in miles, not minutes like the destroyer. Diesel engines like hers are the size of a modest house and are locked into a certain speed at night. The bridge officer can cut speed immediately but at the risk of damaging equipment. Changing speed safely requires that the engineers wake up, change into work clothes and walk down to the engine room to check the equipment before moving the throttle.

America’s Cup – Main Event

Day 2 Highlights video: Emirates Team New Zealand are ahead 3-0 over Oracle Team USA in first to 7 match. (I really love the fact that they have adopted the graphics techniques from NFL Football.)

Going on at the same time is the Superyacht Regatta. These boats are not as super-high-tech as the foiling catamarans in the main event, but they are worth a look

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The USS Fitzgerald Collision and the Maritime “Rules of the Road”

I have been looking through the articles on the USS Fitzgerald collision. I can’t find anything about the conditions leading up to the collision.

It may sound odd to you landlubbers, but there are “rules of the road” on the water. They are meant to avoid exactly this kind of thing. COLREGS – International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972

Suffice it to say, that someone is responsible. It may be the case that both captains are responsible. (There isn’t always a vessel that has the “Right of way.”)

Rule 2

(a) Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case.

(b) In construing and complying with these Rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these Rules necessary to avoid immediate danger

There is – especially among sailors (on sailboats) I’m sorry to say – the idea that some vessels have the “right of way.” While in some cases it may be that one boat is the “Stand on” vessel, and one the “Give way” vessel, in all situations, the skippers of both vessels have a duty to do everything to avoid a collision. The “limitations” of your average commercial container vessel, is that they don’t maneuver very well. It is best to stay the hell out of their way. Somebody failed to do something in this case. (See Rule 17 in the referenced document.)

It is hard to tell exactly what happened because reporters apparently know less about boats than they do about guns. But the bulk of the damage on the Fitzgerald SEEMS to be on the starboard side of the vessel. Though there is also damage on the port bow. If the initial collision hit the Fitzgerald on its own starboard side, that would imply that the US naval vessel was the “give way” vessel.

Rule 15
Crossing situation

When two power-driven vessels are crossing so as to involve risk of collision, the vessel which has the other on her own starboard side shall keep out of the way and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel.

Inquiries will go on for months, unless I miss my guess.

Superyacht Regatta – America’s Cup Festivities

Some of my sailing friends complain that the America’s Cup boats (The America’s Cup Class – ACC for short – foiling catamarans) are not very practical as boats go. Gunboat has a production foiling cat that is almost (almost) a racer-cruiser. But I haven’t been able to figure out what they cost. (If you have to ask…)

So in addition to the ACC boats in the official races, there is also a regatta of more traditional boats. But they are superyacht sailing vessels. The smallest enrolled to compete in the regatta is Wild Horses, and it is just a bit longer than 76 feet.

Still, they are beautiful boats. And they are sailing this week in Bermuda. (While we wait between the end of Louis Vuitton Cup and the start of the America’s Cup. Here’s a video to whet your appetite.)