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Windsurfing Out, Kiteboarding In To Olympics; U.S. Sailing Wades Into The Debate

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As many of you know, the ISAF voted to remove wind surfing as an Olympic category in favor of kite boarding. The ISAF decision certainly seems a bit disturbing on the face of it – wind surfing has been a great sport, and has a lot less gear than kite boarding, not to mention it also seems a good bit safer. What do you think – should U.S. Sailing rethink it’s position?

U.S. Sailing recently sent out the following note in support:

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (May 23, 2012) – Every four years, difficult decisions are made about Olympic sailing events. The choices made always leave some part of the sailing community frustrated and feeling, at least on some level, disenfranchised. I say this as a former Soling sailor who was quite upset with decisions made in November 2000, and a long-time keelboat sailor who did not agree with the recent decisions to exclude keelboats from the Games entirely. I know, first hand, how it feels to have the part of the sport I care most about excluded.
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This Guy Is Cruising On An Open 40 – With His Family

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Totally nuts, but totally awesome. And not only with his family, but with his young kids (3.5 and 1.5 years old) – IN THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. Wonder how long until it all goes wrong.

James Burwick writes on his blog:

We arrived in Fremantle, Western Australia on 12 May 1012 after 30 days from Simons Town, South Africa.

Boat preparation was long and detailed. This was to be one of those trips where it was better to send a report in after we arrived safely, not before.

It was late in the season for sailing in the Southern Ocean in many minds, but not mine. I felt I could go above 40S, avoid ice, and avoid low pressure cells dropping off of the Indian Ocean summer cyclones. Leaving in mid-April just meant more darkness. Well, it always seems to happen at night, so with longer nights, maybe the possibility of more bad stuff to deal with.

After approximately 1200 hours of boat preparations by myself, after sailing solo 32,000nm and with the family aboard 13,000nm, I felt the risk could be managed.
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Crash Of The Week: Offshore In Serious Conditions

While not technically a crash, this video shows some pretty serious conditions, and the proper way to handle them. Conditions look like 50 knots to me, with sharp, occasionally breaking waves. What looks like the yawl is highly reefed and working downwind with the wave on their quarter. Note the wave state, with the sea shifting from discrete waves, to constant, white, streaky foam. Indicative of approaching and crossing the forty to fifty-knot wind threshold.

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Design Review: Aquila 45 – A Pure-Bred Race Boat

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Purebred animals many times are graceful creatures. Built to go achieve a certain goal, they often sacrifice a complete, well-rounded nature in pursuit of that goal. In many ways, the Reichel / Pugh designed Aquila 45 raceboat reflect similar goals. Her design is unambiguous: she is meant to go fast especially downhill, with a sail area to displacement ratio of over 35, Length to beam over 3.17, and a 10-foot draft. We saw her in Annapolis this past year, and she’s a fierce looking creature. Priced at $495k, the entry to this level of performance is just the beginning for a program these types of boats deserve and demand.

Naval designer Bob Perry has a review in Sail Magazine of this design.

This new Reichel/Pugh design is being built in China in a town called Foo Yang at a yard called Sino Eagle Leopard. One boat has been produced so far and they are targeting the racing market. I find this a very good-looking boat, and no doubt with that Reichel/Pugh pedigree it will be a very fast boat and a lot of fun to race.
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Two Men Rescued From Raceboat Off California

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Two sailors are safe after heavy weather damaged the 68-foot Geraldton Western Australia raceboat, and injured the crew members. The vessel is competing in the Clipper Round The World Race. The wave came over the stern, knocking the crewman into the wheel, and sheering the pedestal. Conditions were gusting from 40 to 60 knots, with large waves. That’s the adventure they pay for, right?

CNN has more coverage:

After bad weather hindered earlier emergency efforts, two seriously injured sailors were safely on a boat off California’s coast Sunday evening — preparing to fly to San Francisco after their 67-foot racing yacht was damaged a day earlier by high seas, a Coast Guard official said.
Four members of the Geraldton Western Australia’s crew were injured Saturday in stormy weather as they sailed from China to San Francisco for a leg of what’s called the Clipper Round the World Race, race organizers said. The rest of the crew was described as “uninjured but shaken.”
Inclement conditions had hindered initial attempts to send a helicopter to the site, located about 270 miles west of San Francisco.
But by early Sunday evening, a rescue swimmer was in the water near the boat. Eventually, two of those hurt — identified by Coast Guard Fireman Jordan Akiyama as a 50-year-old woman and 67-year-old man — had been transferred to a small boat.

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Crash of the Week: Ocean Sailing

While not technically a crash, this is a great video of some of the incredible conditions aboard these submarines – I mean VOR sailboats. Amazing how much water they take over the boat. If you haven’t seen the Telefonica near-knockdown, definitely check that out too (see further down the page). Those guys are earning their paycheck on this leg.

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J/70 Test Sail: First Report

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The folks over at Sailing Anarchy have this report from an (obviously unbiased) Jboat dealer. He had a chance to take out the new J/70 in California. Still, if these numbers are accurate, it should be a fun ride.

I sailed on both boats last Thursday, invited along with the sailmakers and hardware guys to help evaluate sail sizes, rigging and set up for input to class rules. Pix herewith in no particular order.

Observations:

Wind was 10-12 then quickly built to 16 with a max of 18. I based the wind speed on the consensus of four professional sailors that were on board at the time. The boat cruises along nicely downwind in that breeze – between 12 and 14 knots of boat speed. I based that on my GPS which was in my pocket.

The boat feels very balanced with good bite on the helm. We were approaching the top end of the sails at 18 but both sets of upwind sails were made oversized and a little fuller than the boat wants, especially the jibs in my opinion. Once the sails get sorted, the boat will go upwind in 20+ very happily.
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Rogue Wave Takes Down Telefonica

All I can say is wow. Technically not a rogue wave – but it sure looks like one. Two big wave hits, both captured on camera. In my mind, this is what a rogue wave experience is all about – one minute you’re sailing along with rough but manageable conditions, the next the boat is knocked down and you’re hanging on for dear life.

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Crash Of The Week: Laser Pile-up

We reached back deep into the archives for this one – a true pile-up at the leeward mark. Fantastic. The color commentary is great, as well. Sounds like they had a good time reviewing the film.

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Four Girls And A Sailboat

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Nice video story of the crew from Rafiki, and a collaboration with other J/30 across the U.S. And more importantly, they look like they’ve had fun doing it. This is what sailing is all about – competitive fun in the sun with family and friends. Oh yeah, and the sailing.

RAFIKI 2011 from Kate Hayes on Vimeo.

Spinsheet has a nice piece, picked up by the J/30 page:

Last month, I witnessed a kindhearted, wild-haired sort of idea sprout, magically open doors, and manifest itself into one exceptional sailing weekend. This may be my first and last Milwaukee-New-Orleans-Chicago-Annapolis sailing story with an Oahu twist, so bear with me as I untangle the details.
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Crash Of The Week: Watch Your Fingers

Sent in from our reader – Steve – we had a fun time watching this one. This is pretty much how we’ve seen these types of incidences actually occur on the race course. You’re zipping along, and then all of the sudden wham. That’s one advantage of staying on the high side. Thanks Steve!

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Crash Of The Week: Epic Surfboat Crashes

We can across these historic videos showing epic waves – and absolute bone-crushing crashes. These really show the amount of power stored in those waves, and the bravery of those willing and able to challenge that power. Good stuff.

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Blogger Reflects On VOR and The South Pacific

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As the Volvo Ocean racers pass through the Solomon Islands, one blogger reflects upon his own travels in that region.

Last weekend, when three of the Volvo Ocean Race teams couldn’t quite fetch the eastern edge of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, they were
forced to find a path through this territory of nearly a thousand obstacles. This brought back memories for the bloggers at Practical Sailor magazine, who envisioned what it must have been like when these two cultures collided:
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The remote and still poorly charted Solomon Islands offered a trickier-than-usual navigational challenge for the three boats that chose the route through the archipelago, but they seemed to skate through without too much problem.
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A Promising Sign For Near-Shore Racing: Extreme Sailing Series Doubles Media Value

The Extreme Sailing Series – which features high-speed cats in near-shore and urban settings – has seen continued growth in market value according to marketing agency Havas. This is a promising sign for these types of close-shore race – including the upcoming America’s Cup. Racing so close to shore helps make the experience more tactile and could result in more fans of the sport.

Havas Sponsorship Insights released today the full and final independent media evaluation report for Extreme Sailing Series 2011 showing a 2.7 times increase in value compared to 2010, to €25,747,203. Leading evaluation agency, Havas Sponsorship Insights, who has evaluated the media value for the Extreme Sailing Series since 2009 using consistent methodology, published the report following their interim statement in August 2010 that estimated an annualised media value of €23m. Read More »

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No Photoshop, No Problem!

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One of the most spectacular photos and videos we’ve seen for a while, Hugo Boss’s keel walk is full of amusement. The owner, Alex Thomspon was also the model for the shoot on “Hugo Boss” an Open 60 with a massive orange (that’s fast, right?), canting keel. Awesome – and done for real in the cold, wet water.

The note on the You Tube video reads: 8 tonnes of carbon fibre yacht, a 255 horsepower jet ski, 45 combined years of sailing experience, and one crazy guy in a suit. Alex Thomson attempts what he calls ‘The Keel Walk’, a stunt that has become infamous throughout the world thanks to the iconic image of Alex ‘riding’ the keel of his 60ft yacht ‘HUGO BOSS’.

Here’s the making-of video. Worth a watch.

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Crash Of The Week: 49er Mind The Pole

These modern asymmetrical spinnakers are great, especially when they’re set on a pole. Fast to deploy, plenty of power, they really give these boats an enormous amount of maneuverability. More importantly, they’re useful tools for sweeping the decks of competitors. Nothing says “I’ve got right-of-way” like a bowsprit across the back of a competitors head. No wonder these one-design, Olympic class boats are so popular.

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Volvo Ocean Race: No More Gambles

The VOR fleet – led by Puma and Camper – has emerged from their concealed positions surrounding Abu Dhabi and the Somalia region. But this time, they are taking no chances, with all six boats staying within 15 NM of each other as they try to make the most out of moderate 10 to 15 knot conditions. Next up, Sanya China. Telefonica, the overall leader, has suffered a gear failure (broken fitting on the Code Zero sail – damaging the sail), but has stayed within close distance of the leaders.

No, we don’t understand the Camper guys, but the Telefonica video is straightforward.

For the next 1,000 nautical miles, the Volvo Open 70 fleet will predominantly be on port tack in a drag race that is taking the fleet across the southern tip of Sri Lanka and into the Bay of Bengal towards the waypoint at Pulau We and the entrance of the Malacca Strait, nine miles off the northernmost tip of Sumatra.

The landmass of Sri Lanka is continuing to produce a slight wind shadow, which has slowed the fleet, but once clear of the island and out across the Bay of Bengal, about 125 miles to east of the fleet, the breeze will pick up and the charge towards the barn door will begin in earnest. Read More »

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Crash Of The Week: Farr 3.7

Dinghy racing is fun. Dinghy racing alone, on a cold lake in a wet suit is even more fun. Dinghy racing after you capsized in a cold lake with no one else around isn’t quite as much fun. Especially when you land butt-up on your sail. At least he has a sense of humor about it.

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Team Sanya Complete Repairs, Outrun Cyclone

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We covered their ill-fated attempt to roll the dice, and approach a substantial low early in Leg 2. That didn’t end well. But now Sanya has a new rig, and is heading for glory – or at least the rest of the fleet – for the next leg to Singapore. Just two days remain until the start of the next leg – to Sanya, China.

Confidence is soaring on board Sanya as the team race out of a tropical cyclone danger zone in the Indian Ocean and head for the long awaited reaching conditions of the trade winds.
Team Sanya survived an up-wind thrashing overnight in winds gusting in excess of 25 knots that proved to be the perfect test for the team’s new rigging, which was replaced at Madagascar after they suspended racing on December 20.
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This Is What 40 Knots Looks Like: The Round-the-World Record Has Been Beaten

A new round-the-world-record has been set by the massive 130ft trimaran Banque Populaire V, beating the previous record by more than 2 full days to 45 days, 13 hours and 42 minutes. For context, the round-the-world record just 20 years ago was at 80 days. With speeds peaking in excess of 43 knots, this was a fast, thrilling ride.

We are all living in an era of truly remarkable development within the world of offshore sailing. Banque Populaire V, a 130ft ocean racing trimaran has just shattered the round-the-world nonstop sailing record by more than 2 days with an average speed of 26.51 knots.

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