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.

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.

Volvo Ocean Race: Leg 2 – Lisbon to Cape Town

The 2nd phase of the Volvo Ocean Race got underway yesterday. This is a 7000 nautical mile leg from Lisbon, Portugal to Cape Town, South Africa. From not quite winter, in Portugal, through the tropics to not quite summer in Cape Town. It is important to sail the Southern Ocean in summer, because in winter it is impossible. In May of this year a 19.4 meter wave was recorded. (That is just shy of 64 feet for you folks who struggle with the metric system.) That’s about a 6 story building.

This is a bit of video of the start of Leg 2 under what looks to be nearly ideal conditions. Flat seas, and lots of wind = lots of speed.

There is better video if you are interested in more, but this is accessible to the non-sailing audience, and is fun.

Volvo Ocean Racers Pass The Island of Porto Santo and Head North

Only 33 miles separate the lead boat form the 7th. This is after about 900 nautical miles and 4 days of sailing. Downwind flyers – the fleet pushes north – Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18

The only thing of note to happen so far: Vestas 11th Hour Racing had a failure of a hose.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing, having survived a scare when a ballast tank hose failed, dumping 800 litres of water in the bilge, was first around and is now charging towards the new ‘virtual mark’ set yesterday, dubbed Porto Santo North.

800 liters (or more than 200 gallons) of water in a place you don’t expect it, can be a bit disconcerting on a boat. (And yes, I know from personal experience.) There is video, but it isn’t particularly interesting. Click thru if you are interested.

The position of the fleet is as follows. (Or was, earlier in the day.)

  1. Vestas 11th Hour Racing — distance to finish – 572.0 nautical miles
  2. MAPFRE + 12.2nm
  3. team AkzoNobel +13.3
  4. Dongfeng Race Team +22.9
  5. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag +29.7
  6. Team Brunel +32.7
  7. Turn the Tide on Plastic +33.0

Volvo Ocean Race: Start of Leg 1

The 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race is scheduled to start today, at 08:00 Eastern Daylight Time. This is a race around the world. (From Spain, to the Hague.) It is NOT nonstop, but is run in a series of legs. Leg one runs from Alicante, Spain to Lisbon, Portugal around the Portuguese island of Porto Santo. That makes leg 1 about 1450 nautical miles in length.

Prior to the start of the main race, the festivities kicked off in the past few weeks with round-the-buoy racing. This is only interesting because it gives you a nice view of the boats – the open 65, that all teams are using.

Of a bit more interest is this video from from 6 years ago that gives a flavor of what open ocean racing must be like. (Remember all that water, is cold. Some of it is ice cold.) The boats in the 2011-2012 race were open 70s. A bit different than those introduced 3 years ago.