We begin our new 12-part multimedia series on Bluewater Sailing Techniques in stunning Fiji
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World Editor v2.0.02 (20 Mar 2019, 10:53 am)Greetings Pioneers!
We have made some improvements to the World Editor. Here's a list of what's been changed.
- Map loads faster now.
- Land renders faster and has a higher resolution.
- Improved land textures.
- Satellite imagery is used to make a difference between the rendering of desert areas and more fertile areas.
- Accumulated snow is now related to the actual temperature as well as terrain height.
- OpenStreetMap buildings and objects are constantly repositioned to keep them at the correct position with respect to the camera.
- OpenStreetMap buidings that are not situated on land are disabled.
- Added editor for seamarks.
We hope to see you out on the waters soon! Happy sailing everyone!
The Sailaway Team
Expert advice: How to sail across the Pacific Ocean (19 Mar 2019, 11:30 am)
Immense and diverse, the expanse of the Pacific offers some of the finest tradewinds cruising you’ll ever experience and a wealth of friendly cultures. Dan Bower explains how to prepare and where to sail
You can lose a lot of friends when you’re sailing across the Pacific. After the first couple of photos you post posing next to giant tortoises, swimming with hammerhead sharks your popularity will wane. You’re in the Galapagos among the sea lions, enjoying the sun, while your friends are in the midst of a European winter. And that’s just the start of a voyage of a lifetime across the world’s largest ocean.
A cruising sailor’s blog, newsfeed or Instagram account from the Pacific is an onslaught of images and videos of every flavour of paradise from the green, dramatic and rugged landscape of the Marquesas with its huge waterfalls, the coral atolls and blue lagoons of the Tuamotus, to Tahiti and Bora Bora, the volcanic eruptions and cauldrons of lava in Vanuatu, the breaching whales of the Coral Sea… Enough already, as they say!
The Pacific Ocean is by far and away the most diverse for cruising. The scenery and culture varies between each country but everywhere there is a welcoming and genuine hospitality – and the sailing is excellent.
What to expect when sailing across the Pacific
When examining planning charts and contemplating sailing the Pacific Ocean, it looks huge. It is 8,000 nautical miles from Panama to Australia (you can cross the Atlantic in 2,200 miles) and, because of the scale of the charts and the size of the islands, it appears to have little land. But zoom in on the chartplotter and the islands and island groups are plentiful.
You must make one very long crossing, the 3,000 miles from the Galapagos Islands to the Marquesas, but this is usually fast sailing with a favourable current bringing the passage time down to one similar to a transatlantic crossing. We’ve made this Pacific passage three times, and we reckon it’s easier sailing than on an average ARC. There has been less swell, more regular winds and no squalls, and after you arrive in the Marquesas you’re rarely more than four days from your next destination.
With an eye on the weather there are plenty of protected anchorages throughout the Pacific, and there are all-weather ports in most island groups.
But sailing across the Pacific is not without its challenges. There are tricky coral passes to negotiate, and it helps to speak French, but time spent preparing and planning can help make it plain sailing and, in my experience, the cruise of a lifetime.
Sailing through the Panama Canal
When you enter the Pacific from the Panama Canal you can feel this is a different ocean. The blue, warm waters of the Caribbean are replaced with the decidedly chilly, much darker nutrient-rich ones brought from Antarctica borne by the Humboldt Current. Its favourable effects can be felt under your keel as you head towards the Galapagos, and make for a bracing first swim. The 6m tidal range can also come as a bit of a shock.
Choosing your route
The passage to the Galapagos should pose no major problems but you will probably have to sail through The Doldrums and you will cross the equator. The national park in the Galapagos is sensitive to foreign species and so you can expect to have all your fresh food removed when you arrive. The authorities also don’t like any growth on your hull – they can turn you away or make you go out of the park to have your hull cleaned (an 80-mile round trip), so it’s worth pressure washing in Panama and getting all through-hull fittings thoroughly cleaned if you’re unsure.
From here you depart on the main passage to the Marquesas Islands and ahead the expanse of French Polynesia opens up. This ocean leg is the Pacific Ocean proper, with approximately 3,000 miles of what should be tradewind sailing at its best, a mile-melting broad reach and an equatorial current beneath you. Depending on the position of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) you may be able to sail down the rhumb line or, if not, head a bit further south for more stable conditions.
Arriving in the Marquesas is a pleasurable culture shock and is as dramatic socially as it is scenically. Away from the small towns it is a great place to cruise to quiet bays with beautiful beaches, trade odds and ends with the locals for the most delicious fruit and explore the interior with its wonderful waterfalls and archaeological remains.
Once you’ve had your fill of green and lush beauty (yes, it rains) and have filled the boat with Pomello grapefruit, mangoes, coconuts and pineapples, it’s time to push off to the Tuamotus. The hardest part about this leg is deciding where to go – there are 80 atolls to choose from.
Sailing the South Pacific
On arrival you need to get the tide times right to navigate a narrow pass, but the reward is a calm, clean and incredibly blue lagoon. Snorkelling is the highlight here and the lagoons are home to the prettiest and most diverse coral I have ever seen. The adventurous can drift snorkel through the passes on an incoming tide, and you can effortlessly glide amongst sharks and large fish feeding.
The Marquesas and Tuamotus are, in my opinion, the best bits of French Polynesia. It is tempting to rush off to the Society Islands (which include Tahiti, Moorea, Raiatea and Bora Bora) and tackle the inevitable jobs list, but most people regret it. The Society Islands have an interior like the Marquesas and lagoons like the Tuamotus, but neither are quite as good. However if you’re lured there by civilisation, Papeete is a city replete with a Carrefour supermarket, chandleries and most other things you could need. It can be a welcome stop to reprovision and attend to any outstanding jobs on the list.
Onwards from here you are never far from the next anchorage. Seas are gentle with long, lazy swells and, apart from the very rare trough reaching up from lows in the south, it is settled tradewind sailing. Now is the time to choose how long you wish to stay in the Pacific as that will dictate how much time you have on the way in order to make sure you’re in the right place for cyclone season.
It’s possible to make it to Australia and onwards if that’s your plan, but many cruisers fall in love with the region and cruise there for many years. If that is you, then it’s worth slowing down and enjoying more of what Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu have to offer. We’ve done three tours of the South Pacific and would happily go back – in fact we might return in 2020.
Highlights of the Pacific crossing are Suwarrow, a delightful stop and a part of the larger chain of Cook Islands. Tonga, meanwhile, offers wonderful short-hop cruising. You cross the International Date Line on the approach so you’ll lose a day. Tonga is made up of three island groups, and the northern one, Vava’u, has protected waterways with lots of safe and straightforward anchorages, unspoilt bays and friendly locals. If you’re there at the right time you can even snorkel with the whales and their calves.
Cape Horn sailors and ditch diggers sacrificed all to make the path between the Atlantic and Pacific easier for the…
Fiji is a huge cruising area and you could happily spend a whole season here and not do it justice, but if you’re going to pass through quickly, be sure to research what you are looking to do or you’ll barely scratch the surface of these amazing islands.
You can experience the flavour of India in bustling towns, head off to deserted bays and beaches or visit the Fijian villages and take part in kava sessions with the local chief. You can visit 5-star resorts and go diving everyday, surf world famous breaks, kite surf or escape into the mountains. It is also a good place to get work done and it’s a popular place to hole up or haul out for the cyclone season, with good links to the outside world.
Vanuatu, with its amazing volcanoes and local people and customs, so far removed from our society, makes an interesting stopover. Make sure you leave plenty of time for exploring all the islands – the volcano on Ambrym is the best. It’s an incredible feeling looking deep into the earth seeing a boiling cauldron of lava; we felt like we were looking into hell itself. Be sure to get to know the locals and visit some festivals and feasts – you’ll be made most welcome and it will be an eye-opening experience. Vanuatu is reputably the happiest country on earth and, to be sure, everyone greets you with a smile.
Whether your onward destination is Asia, Australia or New Zealand it is hard to leave the Pacific behind, and for us nowhere else beats it for easy pleasant sailing, lovely people and the best underwater scenery.
Preparations and practicalities
The big challenge of sailing in the Pacific is the remoteness, the distance from chandleries, supplies and expertise. If money is no object you can fly in pretty much anything and anyone, but for most people this is cost-prohibitive and realistically you can only expect to make repairs in Tahiti and Fiji.
The bigger issue is lost cruising time while repairs are made. Whether you’re on a rally or sailing independently you’ll likely have a schedule to keep. All this means boat preparation is key and you should replace anything suspect before you head off.
Consider that living systems are likely to see more use than usual, so take spares of water pumps, toilets and filters. Even new systems can fail so try to identify single point failures and build in redundancy for essential systems, for example, charging, refrigeration and watermaker.
Small marine generators are notoriously unreliable, so reduce your reliance with other means of charging. On passage we found the hydrogenerator to be invaluable. We also changed our 110V watermaker to a 12V one, meaning any excess power can be turned to water and we are not reliant on a generator.
Try to be as self-sufficient as possible, take time to understand your boat and systems and overhaul anything suspect. Carry a wide range of essential spares and materials for simple rigging repairs like rivets and thread repair.
Investing in new rigging gives for peace of mind, and it’s likely to be cheaper to replace everything at home rather than fix a few small issues on the way. Riggers advise that wire stays should be replaced at 35,000 miles – which is a circumnavigation – so if you’re going onwards round the world you probably need to do it at some point and that may as well be at home.
For sails, buy super-basic Dacron before you leave, as the UV and ocean sailing will kill anything exotic quickly.
Prepare for a huge amount of downwind sailing. Pad spreaders and have patches on sails and batten pockets to reduce wear. Pole fittings, gooseneck and vang attachments take quite a bit of punishment and can really slow you down if they break so consider upgrading any parts before you leave and keep the old as spares.
Communications become tricky as you’re often far away from wifi and phone signal for long periods of time. Your onboard comms can become the main system for staying in touch and receiving weather. Buying big bundles of satphone minutes works out cheaper.
SSB is good to have: you don’t have to be part of a rally to join in on cruiser nets to chat about weather, things to do or for advice. Local SIM cards for data are available in most places. Connections are not always great, but good enough for basic use.
You’re likely to spend around four months without seeing a shop bigger than your average newsagents, except in Tahiti which is madly expensive. It’s not often that you plan to spend so long away from a supermarket and since your comfort and contentment depends on the quality and variety of food that you eat, it pays to plan and provision in advance.
We were often surprised how little research cruisers had done on their next destination. If you have a time constraint, having a plan before you arrive will give you more time to get out and explore. Buy your guidebooks and pilot books to read in advance – other great books for an overview are Paddling the Pacific (Paul Theroux), Getting Stoned with Savages (J. Maarten Troost) and An Island to Oneself (Tom Neale).
Other cruisers’ blogs are a great source of information and there are compendiums available online written by other cruisers giving masses of practical information from local advice, to tours, restaurants and anchorages. Governments and yachting groups in French Polynesia, Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu produce their own free cruising guides, which are well worth downloading. Pilot books for the Pacific tend to be somewhat out of date.
While in Fiji and Tonga, we became great fans of using satellite imagery to create charts. This proved to be essential in many places and generally just useful everywhere else. Some chart packages have a satellite overlay – ut usually just for the land – so it’s worth becoming familiar with how to make your own, or download them from cruisers’ networks.
Oh yes, and learn French.
About the author
Dan and Em Bower run Skyelark, an S&S-designed Skye 51 taking 12 guests. They are regulars on the ARC transatlantic rally, have taken part in the World ARC and cruised tens of thousands of miles while sailing across the Pacific. They wrote and presented our Bluewater Sailing Series, which gives hints and tips on ocean sailing, from downwind sails to fishing on board.
The post Expert advice: How to sail across the Pacific Ocean appeared first on Yachting World.
The Tracy Edwards profile – why sailing’s trailblazer is back with Maiden (14 Mar 2019, 1:08 pm)
Trail-blazing skipper Tracy Edwards is back, with her next big project: The Maiden Factor. We found out why...
Sportspeople – and sailors are no exception here – can be a little… one-dimensional. That single focus which makes competitive athletes so successful often comes with a very straightforward mentality.
Tracy Edwards is the polar opposite. She is wholly, entertainingly (no doubt sometimes maddeningly) human, in all its contradictions. She has learned to be tough, yet cries ‘at the drop of a hat’, she can be warm and easy to talk to, but at times has closed ranks entirely. She’s no-nonsense, with a dramatic streak.
She went from teen tearaway to national hero to near recluse before she was 30. She skippered a multi-million pound catamaran, and was spectacularly bankrupted.
Edwards and her Maiden teams achieved incredible things in sailing, and paved the way for others to achieve more. She inspires unwavering loyalty among some of her team, but has also fallen out with more people in the sport than most. She is not a woman whose life has ever followed a linear path and, aged 57, she still isn’t backing away from controversy.
A life lived to the full
Tracy Edwards was born in 1962. Her mother, Patricia, was a remarkable woman in her own right – a former ballet dancer who had toured the world, she was a go-kart driver in her spare time, a rarity in the 1960s.
After her father died when Tracy was 10, the family moved to Wales and her mother remarried. Badly bullied at secondary school, and subject to an abusive relationship with her volatile stepfather, Edwards became an archetypal teen rebel. Following years of bunking off school, underage drinking, and run-ins with the police, she was eventually expelled aged 15.
What followed next is well known sailing lore. The teenage Edwards ran away to Greece, worked in a bar in a marina, then joined a motoryacht crew as stewardess. Despite suffering crippling seasickness, she discovered a love of the ocean.
Edwards moved from motor to sailing yacht, sailing across the Atlantic on her first passage under canvas, learning to navigate on the return crossing. She worked on a yacht chartered for King Hussein of Jordan, who became a lifelong supporter. She bumped into Whitbread Round the World Race crews on her travels and became fascinated by the challenge.
She argued her way onto the crew of a 1985 Whitbread entry as cook. And then, famously, put together the first all-female Whitbread campaign with Maiden (sponsored by Royal Jordanian Airlines), coming 2nd in class and winning two legs in the 1989-90 race.
She was heralded as a national hero, and hounded by the press. Her private life became tabloid gossip fodder (Edwards has divorced twice), and she disappeared from the public eye for a couple of years, rearing horses on a smallholding in South Wales.
Then she bounced back, put together an all-female team to try and win the Jules Verne trophy with the maxi catamaran Royal & Sun Alliance in 1998, before being dismasted in the Southern Ocean. She had a daughter, and moved into campaign management with Maiden II. The team was skippered by Brian Thompson, Helena Darvelid and Adrienne Cahalan, and set multiple world records.
Australian navigator Cahalan joined the Jules Verne campaign without hesitation. “When Tracy got in touch with me I was on a plane in about two days!” she recalls.
“Tracy is a good leader and she doesn’t micromanage.
“I know she is controversial, but working within her team I’ve always found it really a fabulous opportunity, and she’s always surrounded by a great team of people who enjoy sailing with her. Look at the personalities she’s managed and the great success she’s had, getting the best out of them. That’s what she’s good at.”
Edwards then organised the first ever round the world race to start from the Middle East, the infamous Oryx Quest. Four giant multihulls took part in 2005 in a glitzy event, thanks to a £38million multi-race sponsorship deal from the state of Qatar.
But despite the huge sums promised (the $1million 1st prize was then the biggest ever cash award for a sailing race), legend has it that the golden envelopes handed out at the prizegiving were empty.
Qatar had refused to pay up. Edwards, who had already been in financial trouble following the purchase of Maiden II, was forced into bankruptcy with £8million personal debts. She disappeared from the public eye almost entirely. And now, she’s back.
The yacht Maiden is the reason why Tracy Edwards has invited me into her home – and current mission command – after a decade of exile from the sailing community. Immediately after the Whitbread, Maiden was sold – first to an owner who cherished her, and then, like poor Ginger the hackney carriage horse in Black Beauty, she was sold on, falling further and further into ignominy. Eventually the yacht was discovered, rusting and abandoned in the Seychelles, in 2014.
Edwards, with typical impetuosity, announced immediately that she would rescue and restore her. There was the small question, though, of what to do next. It was Mackenna, Edwards’ now adult daughter, who suggested using the boat as a vehicle to raise funds and awareness for girls’ education.
The ongoing costs of the yacht will be covered by sponsorship, paid-for crew berths, and hospitality. The fundraising element of the project is wholly separate, with all charitable funds raised going to The Maiden Foundation, which then partners with small charities working to improve girls’ access to education through focussing on literacy and mentoring.
The yacht has begun a two-year world tour, raising funds in different territories as she goes. It is a significant undertaking, and has attracted some seriously big names: Dee Caffari will skipper for a period, as will Wendy Tuck, the winner of the last Clipper Round the World Race.
A legacy project
For Edwards, the Maiden restoration and tour brings together many things she set out to achieve in sailing – and since – to do with female empowerment. It is also a rehabilitation of both herself and the vintage yacht.
“I’d never really seen this as a sailing project,” she tells me. “Which I know sounds a bit weird because we’re doing a two-year tour sailing around the world. But that’s almost superfluous for me: this is about girls’ education and Maiden’s legacy. And it’s also not letting Qatar be the last thing I ever did, if I’m brutally honest.”
The fallout from the Qatar debacle was savage. “I lost everything,” Edwards explains. After the race, she was held in the country for a month. “They took away my passport. I couldn’t get an exit visa. It was terrifying.
“So, they didn’t pay us and when I threatened legal action, things got very nasty, very quickly. I got everyone out of the country. Mack was five and she flew out with my cousin. I stayed behind to fight the legal battle and suddenly found out I couldn’t leave. They bugged my phones. I was followed, threatened.”
Edwards had borrowed heavily against the contract, and when the money failed to materialise, bankruptcy was inevitable. The order came through on her 43rd birthday, and she had to sell the family home immediately.
“The worse thing for me was putting my mum into a home, which I still find quite hard to talk about because she was living with us and she was disabled, and that’s where she died.” Edwards recalls with emotion. “But you know what, I had a disabled mother and a five-year-old daughter, so what do women do? They get on with it.”
She decided to move to London. “We literally stuck a pin in the map and it landed on the Duke’s Head in Putney. So, we rented a tiny, little terraced house just down the road.”
As a first priority Edwards, a single parent, needed to earn money. Since her sporting celebrity days she had been an ambassador for the NSPCC and was invited to visit the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. Edwards was fascinated by their work, and when offered a job running a project for them she jumped at the chance.
“Can you raise £500,000 to bring 120 teenagers to London for a conference?” she recalls. “I can do that. God, I loved it. I was part of helping to write the 2009 resolution on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. How awesome is that? I would never have done that if all the bad things hadn’t happened.”
Edwards, who had dropped out of secretarial college after just a couple of weeks, now found herself working a desk job. “I don’t take well to bureaucracy,” she admits, “So that was hard.”
Inspired to learn more, she went to university to study psychology. “I started when I was 47 and graduated when I was 50. My mother was delighted – finally, she said, you have an education!”
After graduating she worked on an internet safety scheme for children, but was starting to look for her next challenge. “Then, right in the middle of me going: ‘Oh, God, what am I going to do next?’ I had the email saying, do you know who owns your boat, Maiden?” She mimes thanking the heavens.
The approach came wholly out of the blue – Edwards had cut herself off from yacht racing, not even sailing for pleasure. “I get really seasick anyway,” she points out.
“I often get invited on day sails, but I say no, because for me it’s a day of misery.”
“And I was angry. I was angry with some people in the sailing world. I was angry that people hadn’t asked for my side of the story before judging me, and I didn’t have the energy to fight at the time. So I had literally walked away.”
Maiden eventually returned to Hamble on the south coast, where Edwards had originally refitted her before the 1989 Whitbread. It was both the natural place for the yacht to go and slightly uncomfortable for Tracy personally.
“Going back to Hamble was very strange because I don’t have hugely fond memories. But then [we were] actually welcomed back with open arms into the fold. That was quite special because I didn’t quite know what to expect.”
Edwards is also back to her characteristic pull-no-punches style of operating. There are several “Oh God, don’t print that” moments as we get drawn into discussing politics.
She still sees it as her place to call out sexism in sailing, and says she ‘cried with joy’ when Wendy Tuck and Nikki Henderson took 1st and 2nd in the last Clipper Race.
She was part of a group that objected to a video the Scallywag team made during the last Volvo (featuring puerile jokes about how to treat a male crew’s crotch rash), along with Dawn Riley and Emma Westmacott. The group took advice from Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson on the employment law implications.
“We formed a committee. What did they call us? Old has-been hags, that’s what we were called by some of the guys in the Volvo. The rumour was that we were doing it because we were pissed off to be out of sailing and had something to prove.
“I don’t care anymore. I so don’t care what people say.”
“Because we love our sport and we want to see it succeed and we want it to be diverse and wonderful. We don’t want it to be male, pale and stale, which is what it is.”
Cahalan, who was onboard with her when Royal & Sun Alliance dismasted, says: “Tracy never shies away from responsibility, it’s never anybody else’s fault.”
Edwards is currently writing the third instalment in her autobiography, and is also the subject of a revelatory new documentary film, Maiden (see below).
One comment leaps out from the documentary, when Edwards recalls what her mother said when she mooted the idea of an all-female campaign. “You could do it if you stuck to it,” Patricia Edwards had told her daughter, “But you’ve never stuck to anything.”
Maiden succeeded the first time around because Tracy Edwards had something to prove – not just that women could race around the world, but that the teen rebel who’d been told she’d never amount to anything could pull off something audacious.
There’s a definite sense that this new project is about proving the critics wrong once again.
It comes with its own risks (the refit proved complex, and teething problems saw the yacht put in a couple of unscheduled stops on her first leg). But Edwards says she is no more risk averse than she used to be.
“Someone has to take the risk. This stuff has got to be done and I have always felt very strongly that you have to stand up and be counted. And I have never been afraid of standing up and being counted.”
The Maiden documentary
The film opens with a painfully young and nervous Edwards introducing herself as the skipper of Maiden, and traces the arc of how the Whitbread campaign came together through the race itself to their final triumphant return to Southampton.
“[Before filming] the girls called me and said: ‘Is this truth time, or is this like the first documentary where we just go everything’s wonderful?’” recalls Edwards, “I went no, it’s the truth. So they were like well, you might not like some of the stuff we’re going to say.
“Time does soften the memories and the documentary reminded me how awful I’d been, how angry I’d been a lot of the time and how difficult I was to deal with, and the girls were very upfront about that. That was quite difficult to watch. But it needed to be on record.
“It’s a very raw account. There’s no gloss. It’s us telling it like it is and then some amazing old footage.”
The documentary is a thoroughly engaging watch. Although before the Whitbread the Maiden crew were at pains to disprove critics who said girls couldn’t form a cohesive crew, there were deep tensions in the team. It culminated with Edwards and watch leader Marie-Claude Kieffer (née Heys) explosively falling out, and Kieffer leaving. Not all the Maiden crew were involved in the documentary.
Dawn Riley joined the Maiden crew knowing ‘absolutely nothing’ about Edwards. At the time Riley was working as professional sailor and Edwards, who had no background in helming racing yachts, wasn’t remotely on her radar.
“To be fair, at that time I don’t think anybody else on the boat had the weather routing skills she had,”
In the film journalists also discuss the appallingly sexist things they wrote about the Maiden campaign, and how they were proved wrong as the female crew delivered back to back leg wins.
The Maiden documentary was released across the UK on March 8 – for showing times see www.maiden.film It has also been well-received at film festivals around the world.
This profile feature appeared in the March 2019 issue of Yachting World, which also includes an exclusive onboard look at the Maiden restoration.
The post The Tracy Edwards profile – why sailing’s trailblazer is back with Maiden appeared first on Yachting World.
Trying to break the 40-day barrier: Thomas Coville and the most radical Ultime yet (8 Mar 2019, 5:56 pm)
Thomas Coville recently unveiled the newest, and possibly most radical, Ultime design yet - we found out more about the unique boat and its extraordinary skipper
This week solo yachtsman Thomas Coville opened the doors to the build of his Sodebo Ultim 3, the newest Ultime trimaran and a conceptually very different design to those seen in the class so far. Before the unveiling, I was lucky enough to spend time with Coville at a special event in Norway for Helly Hansen, talk to him about the new design, and get a little insight into the equally extraordinary man who will be skippering it.
Thomas Coville spent nearly a decade of his life pursuing the solo around the world record, finally smashing it on Christmas Day 2016, when he sailed back into Brest having completed his circumnavigation in 49d 3h 7m 38s.
Coville had demolished Francis Joyon’s record of 57 days, which had stood since 2008. But record chasing is a cruel sport and Coville’s hard-fought accolade of being the fastest man around the world was snatched out of his hands within the year, when Francois Gabart raised the bar to an incredible 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds in December 2017.
Having achieved the one thing that had dominated his entire life since his first aborted attempt in 2008, you might think Coville would have allowed himself a moment of quiet satisfaction. Actually, he says, it was the opposite.
“When I arrived in 49 days, as an athlete, the thing which was in my mind is that I wanted to achieve something else, because I wanted to kill the idea that I’ve done it by luck.”
After victory, he says, the most difficult thing is to win again. To prove (and it’s not clear who he’s trying to prove anything to, but one suspects mostly to himself) that there was not one iota of fluke in what he had just achieved.
“So six months later we launched the boat back in the water and I went to New York to beat that bloody record, crossing the north Atlantic in 4 days and 11 hours.
“And then I could release,” he breathes out deeply in recollection. “Yes! It was not only by luck!”
The Atlantic record was also a foretaste of the kind of speeds to come. He crossed from Ambrose Light, New York to Lizard Point, UK in a breath-taking 4 days and 11h, sailing at an inhuman average speed of 28.35 knots over 3039 miles.
Sustaining speeds of 30-plus knots is the parallel universe in which solo record sailors now reside. Gabart’s record was sailed at an average pace of 27.2 knots over six weeks.
Coville’s new Ultime is designed, like all the trimarans in this space-race class, to push the boundaries of what is possible yet further. And to achieve this, Coville took a unique approach.
Thomas Coville is not just a remarkably skilled and motivated sailor. Besides being erudite, witty and multilingual, he comes across as boundlessly curious about everything and everyone he meets. When it came to designing his new Ultime, he embraced that open curiosity and decided to have a yacht designed – literally – by committee.
“When I came back from my last round the world trip I went to my team and I said, if we want to build a new boat tomorrow, it won’t be made by only one architect, it’s too complicated. The future is, for me, collaborative.
“It’s going to be with that new generation of architects, and we’re going to find some solutions from cars, from planes, from Austria, Switzerland, New Zealand.
“So it’s open thinking, very collaborative – and we’re going to probably going to break some rules about the French way of thinking, the French way of naval architecture, but this is the only way if you want to make big process,” he tells me.
The design team is clearly impressive – besides long-term members of Coville’s team, like his technical director Elie Canivenc, weather router Jean-Luc Nelias, and Jean-Matthieu Bourgeon, who was in charge of R&D on the innovative Hydroptère, it also included the talented VPLP team, who designed the floats and forward beam, and Martin Fischer, the German designer of the GC32 catamaran, who created the foils.
The build was equally spread out – the central hull, floats and cockpit made by Multiplast, the front beam by CDK, the foils and rear beam by Persico in Italy.
The design group included talent from Ben Ainslie Racing, Oracle, and Luna Rossa America’s Cup teams. “It was quite funny because they’ve been working against each other for so many years and suddenly they’re on the same design team. They were looking at each other like cats and dogs!” Coville recalls.
But they also brought in expertise from motorsport and aviation, and adopted a policy that no idea was too crazy to consider.
The game change came when they looked into moving the heaviest part of the structure, the companionway and cuddy, radically far forward (it’s an idea Coville says came from discussions about a Porsche victory in the Le Mans 24-Hour Race victory, which was partly due to a decision to move the engine and shift the car’s centre of gravity).
Coville says the central pod weight amounted to 25% of the weight of the hull, and they have shifted it to forward of the mast, nearly over the centre of gravity of the boat. The effect of this is that it lowers the centre of effort down some 2 metres and reduces pitching moment.
The radical move ended much of the battle to save weight aloft. “You can’t imagine how much money we are ready to spend to move the gravity centre of a new boat like this down just 1cm. it’s more than €10,000 per kilo,” he points out.
The other knock-on effect is that it allows the boom to drop to almost flush with the deck, which radically changes the aerodynamic efficiency of the sail. Coville estimates that it reduces airflow disturbance and increases the efficiency of the whole sail area by some 20%. The rig height can also be reduced.
“And then – today we’ve got T-rudders to put the boat [back] on its nose because the foils, most of the time, are pushing too much,” he adds. “Suddenly, you align all of these [forces] and you don’t need to have such big rudders, so you reduce also the drag on the water.
“So everything, by one change, makes the spirals suddenly better.”
The post Trying to break the 40-day barrier: Thomas Coville and the most radical Ultime yet appeared first on Yachting World.
Through the Panama Canal in your yacht: everything you need to know (12 Feb 2019, 3:37 pm)
How to transit the Panama Canal in your yacht - preparation, costs, top tips and more from Behan Gifford for a smooth crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean
Cape Horn sailors and ditch diggers sacrificed all to make the path between the Atlantic and Pacific easier for the rest of us. It is a surreal situation to find yourself floating in a small yacht alongside a giant ship in a box of water 25m above sea level. Entering the canal was thrilling, stressful, and awkward. Descending the last lock was euphoric. The Panama Canal is a gem to treasure.
Considering the alternative routes, the canal is a blink between oceans. Yet a smooth transit benefits from advance planning. Our research began about three months in advance after we learned how seasonal congestion can increase the waiting time from arrival in Colón to an assigned transit date. Most of the year, four to six days is typical. During the high season from late January through May, six to 20 days is the range from completion of measurement and fee payment until an assigned canal transit date. For South Pacific-bound boats, December until mid-January is a sweet spot for minimal delay.
The slowdown escalates with the arrival of the World ARC rally. Having waved the fleet off in Colombia we decided to spend a few weeks of leisurely sailing through the turquoise waters of Panama’s Guna Yala instead of adding to the spike in transiting vessels. Hiring an agent was our answer to first staying in tune with the length of the delay, then having an advocate who could help us find a slot to get through sooner during the peak-season waiting period.
We arrived in Colón, Panama, followed by blustery tradewinds and rolling seas that finally abated behind the canal zone’s massive breakwater. Mooring options are few on the Caribbean side of the canal: there are a couple of designated areas for anchoring among the commercial stacks and cargo ships, but they come with security risks and limited options for going ashore. Boats waiting longer than a few days often sail either to nearby Portobelo or further afield to the Guna Yala (San Blas islands) or Bocas del Toro. The lone mooring option on the Caribbean side is Shelter Bay Marina, where we berthed our Stevens 47 Totem to await transit.
Step one: Get your boat measured
Our agent, Erick Galvez with Centenario, met us shortly after we tied up in Shelter Bay to confirm the process. A friendly face at the dock and perfect English softened the news of delays. You have to go through measurement and payment first before entering the ACP system to get a transit date assigned – a transit date cannot be reserved in advance.
Galvez accepted our payment and scheduled an Admeasurer (measurements for transit are only done by an official representative of the Panama Canal Authority, or ACP) for the next day. If you choose to do paperwork yourself, it’s a call to the Admeasurer’s office (English is spoken by all canal officials) to arrange a time and location for your boat’s measurement.
Our assigned transit date meant two weeks in the marina, but Erick’s efforts sourced multiple opportunities for earlier slots. In the end doing rigging jobs for Pacific-bound vessels sweetened the deal of a longer stay.
Step two: Pay canal fees
Galvez took care of payment as part of his agent services, providing a receipt outlining fees. If you’re organising your own paperwork, the Admeasurer provides a form which you take to Citibank and pay. The biggest variable is based on the size of your boat. Under 50ft, the transit toll is $800. For boats 50-80ft, the fee is $1,300. Length is a true ‘length overall’ including bowsprit, pulpits, davits, etc. Totem’s documentation shows our LOA at 46ft 8in but we exceeded 50ft when measured from the front of our anchor to dinghy davits. Deflating the dinghy edged us just below the 50ft mark of the Admeasurer’s indisputable tape.
In addition to the ACP charges, a buffer fee of nearly $900 is due. This is a bond to cover potential fines or additional charges which could be incurred by missing an assigned slot, being too slow, needing a water taxi for line handlers, or other events. An agent covers the buffer fee for you.
For do-it-yourself transiters, the fee (like other official canal tolls) can be paid by credit card, in cash, or bank wire transfer at Citibank along with other standard fees. The buffer will be reimbursed after a successful canal transit is completed.
Our all-in cost to transit the canal (including non-canal specific formalities) was a little over $2,000: this included visas, cruising permit, and clearance fees. It’s a lot of money, but Cape Horn and the North West Passage present inconvenient alternatives and the necessary gear would have set us back more than that!
Every step of the process with Canal authorities was above board, the only flaw being a port captain in Colón who claimed an error in our original entry formalities required a $20 fee to correct. As it was one hour from our scheduled departure, we were stuck without any option to dispute it – delaying transit could incur an ACP fine. It is one of the only times in our decade of cruising we’ve knowingly paid an ‘unofficial fee’.
Transit toll < 50ft, $800; 50ft+, $1,300
Line handlers $100/person (or seek volunteers from other transiters)
Fender return $12
Cruising permit $197
Step three: Organise transit logistics
Four line handlers are compulsory aboard, and four lines meeting canal transit specifications are required. You’ll also want robust fenders.
An agent will organise all of these, or you can source them locally yourself. The morning VHF net, marina bulletin board, regional Facebook groups, and the cruiser’s Coconut Telegraph will connect you with local suppliers.
Line handlers are commonly recruited from other cruising boats. Joining a boat to transit is excellent preparation for taking your boat through, and a way to pay it forward when it’s time to find your own handlers.
If you don’t find volunteers, experienced Panamanians can be hired for around $100. Whoever comes aboard, make sure they know how to tie a proper knot and have basic boat sense, and will be ready to work instead of take pictures.
Lock lines must be must be a minimum of 125ft long and between 7⁄8-11⁄2in (23-38mm) diameter. While most boats will gravitate towards standard fenders, the budget option of plastic-wrapped tyres are a fine alternative for protecting your hull from the rough concrete wall or your lock neighbour.
Final preparations to ensure a smooth transit include anticipating meals, snacks, and beverages for the duration.
Transit typically takes two days, the night spent tied to a large buoy just outside the channel in Lake Gatun.
In addition to line handlers, your crew will include at least one canal advisor (occasionally there’s a trainer/trainee pair). Hot meals are expected by the advisers, as is bottled water and cold Coke. Snacks should be available for the duration.
Step four: Time to go!
“Cristobal Signal Station, Cristobal Signal Station, this is sailing vessel Totem.” After weeks of anticipation and planning, this VHF call to inform the port entry co-ordinator of Totem’s location marks the start of our canal journey. We were assigned a one-day transit: the sky was just beginning to lighten when Totem’s advisor, Roy, was dropped off by water taxi. Roy proved to be a significant asset for ensuring a safe transit. Cruising boats are most commonly rafted in pairs or a trio to transit the canal as a block, and Roy directed our raft’s formation. Totem was designated centre boat (making Roy the lead advisor for the raft) based on propulsion ability.
We knew we liked Roy when he dryly commented, “Perfect, now we have big fenders to protect us,” upon seeing two aluminum-hulled Ovni cruising boats approach to raft up.
The canal is roughly 37 miles long, most of which is the waterway of Lake Gatun and Culebra Cut between the trios of locks at each end. Entering from the Caribbean side, three sequential chambers of the Gatun locks lift vessels up around 90ft. Howler monkeys in the jungle nearby greeted sunrise as we approached the first lock behind a large ro-ro car carrier.
When the lock doors close and water level changes, line handlers tension (or loosen) the lines according to the adviser’s instructions. It’s harder than it sounds and requires close attention. One of the boats next to us was inattentive with easing and caused the raft to shift, a potentially dangerous situation for the boats. The crew realised and scrambled to secure the line, and twice nearly caught hands in the process. So much better to keep focused on the role!
Our raft remained intact through the first three locks, then separated to cross Lake Gatun and proceed through the cut towards the Pacific side locks. This was the longest part of the transit, a time for us to relax and enjoy a meal. March is dry season; we could relax in the cockpit for this part of the journey, learning from our adviser about his experiences and appreciating the sights: our history buffs anticipated seeing the crane named Titan that was taken as a Second World War prize, and the animal lovers aboard worked at spotting birds, monkeys, and crocodiles (a 3m croc swam alongside us in the Culebra Cut).
The adviser isn’t the captain – you’re still responsible for boat and crew –but our number one takeaway to transit safely is that it’s essential to work tightly with the adviser. They understand the lock conditions: some instructions may seem odd, like directions to turn the boat to point towards a lock wall, but it’s for a reason. There could be a four-knot current deflected by the wall, and their goal is to prevent the raft from spinning out.
Leaving the Miraflores locks behind, Totem motored towards the Bridge of the Americas and the Pacific Ocean. This marked our return to the body of water where our journey began, the last leg of our circumnavigation, and the final weeks aboard as a family of five before our eldest heads for college. A momentous event, suitably witnessed by a monumental creation.
Tips for a smooth canal transit
• Keep decks clear. Move or stow items to keep the area around bow and stern cleats as clear as possible.
• Ensure all fairleads are fair to start. Re-leading takes time you may not have if currents start spinning the raft.
• Stern lines took the most load. Consider running them to a cockpit winch with the stern cleat as a guide to provide better control and mechanical advantage.
• Prep line handlers well. Hold a crew meeting. Make sure they understand how critical it is to be alert: they should not expect to use a GoPro or post on social media during transit.
• Repeat instructions from the adviser. It confirms you have heard and are responding to the action called for. It may serve to clarify the adviser’s intentions when issuing rapid instructions.
• Engage your adviser. Talk through manoeuvres in advance, asking for clarification on next steps and understanding actions they will want you to take before they need to happen.
• PAY ATTENTION! The lead adviser (who is not necessarily on your boat) may call for rapid engine and/or steering changes.
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Jean-Luc Van Den Heede wins Golden Globe Race after 211 days at sea (29 Jan 2019, 5:03 pm)
French skipper Jean-Luc Van Den Heede has won the Golden Globe Race, the 'retro' solo around the world race, in 211 days
Jean-Luc Van Den Heede today won the Golden Globe Race after an astonishing 211 days and 23 hours at sea, in an incredible demonstration of seamanship.
The French skipper sailed across the finish line under spinnaker, arriving back into a grey and damp Les Sables d’Olonne. Having completely run out of fuel, Van Den Heede then sailed up the famous channel of Les Sables under mainsail.
This was the first round the world race victory for the 73-year-old, who also set a new record for the oldest skipper to sail solo non-stop around the globe. He had led the solo race for almost its entirety, and finished with a margin of over 300 miles ahead of 2nd-placed Mark Slats.
Both he and his yacht, the Rustler 36 Matmut, appeared in excellent health after seven months of non-stop sailing. Van Den Heede was in high spirits on arrival, leading the crowd in song on the pontoons, and cracking jokes throughout the press conference. He gave no impression of being particularly tired or unsteady on his landlegs, but did say that he was looking forward to a bath, a steak and a beer – in that order.
First impressions of Matmut, meanwhile, were that the Rustler was in surprisingly good condition – there were no obvious barnacles (which have so plagued other Golden Globe competitors) on the hull, the deck was not green, the topsides were shiny. A little growth on the transom and some lines threaded around the port first spreader were the only hint of what the yacht and her skipper had been through.
The Golden Globe started on July 1 2018 with 18 entrants – of which just four are now still racing – and the hugely experienced Van Den Heede was among the front-runners from the outset. After fellow French skipper and early race leader Philippe Peche retired, Van Den Heede built an almost unassailable lead at the Cape of Good Hope.
While the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans saw multiple retirements and yachts rolled, dismasted and abandoned, Van Den Heede arrived at the mandatory pit stop in Hobart virtually unscathed. Matmut by then had a small leak to one porthole, but was otherwise standing up well to the rigours of prolonged Southern Ocean racing.
Before the start, Van Den Heede, together with his shore manager Lionel Régnier, had ensured Matmut was one of the most thoroughly prepared yachts in the race – including a shortened mast and all-new rigging and sails, additional watertight bulkheads, and upgraded deck gear.
But in November, in the middle of the South Pacific, Van Den Heede was knocked down in 65-knot winds and 11m seas. Although the mast held, a connecting bolt which attached the lower shrouds on the port side of the mast was damaged, leaving Van Den Heede unable to tension his rigging. He effected a temporary repair, initially planning to make for Chile to fix it, before deciding to continue racing, re-rigging ropes to support the shroud as he went – he climbed the mast seven times.
At today’s press conference he recalled: “For three days I thought about how to save the boat and so I ran off course. I started to plan my stopover in Chile … and then I said to myself: the mast is so… damn damn damn! I thought I was trying. We did have makeshift rigs, which were mandatory on board.
“Until then I have never abandoned a single race. But I admit that climbing a mast is no longer ok at my age. I climbed seven times! The worst thing was trying to undo the pins. It’s not easy in a workshop on land, but six meters high is a little bit ‘Fort Boyard’ [like the Crystal Maze]!”
With Van Den Heede having to nurse Matmut up the Atlantic, especially on port tack, Dutch sailor Mark Slats was able to reduce his lead from nearly 2,000 miles to less than 100. In mid-January the tracker was showing the theoretical advantage at just 49 miles, although Van Den Heede was better placed to extract himself from the Azores High system.
But Van Den Heede was able to reassert his lead through the final weeks, and despite a challenging Biscay crossing that brought a final test of 50-knot winds and 7m seas, arrived safely into Les Sables this morning just ahead of the gale force conditions which began battering the Atlantic town as Van Den Heede spoke to the waiting crowds and press.
The race win sees Van Den Heede complete his sixth full circumnavigation (he has started 10 times) in the ‘retro’ around the world race which set off last July to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Golden Globe.
The 2018-19 Golden Globe Race required skippers to recreate many of the limitations of the original around the world challenge, including no modern navigational aids, which made this Van Den Heede’s slowest ever circumnavigation at 212 days. Nevertheless, his Rustler 36 was a full 100 days faster than Robin Knox-Johnston’s original circumnavigation, the first ever single-handed non-stop around the world, in Suhaili.
This is also Van Den Heede’s first round the world race victory. He holds the record for the fastest east-west circumnavigation, set in 2004 at 122 days, and has twice returned to Les Sables d’Olonne to stand on the podium of the Vendee Globe (3rd in 1990, 2nd in 1994). He also finished 2nd in the 1986 BOC Challenge Around Alone Race and 3rd in the 1995 BOC.
Despite the downpours and biting cold, the people of Les Sables turned out to welcome Van Den Heede home, lining the famous channel and waiting patiently in the rain to cheer his victory. He is a true local hero, and lives in a seafront apartment in the famous Vendée town.
Would he do it again? “After my second Vendée Globe, I said no, I will not do it again. Then after my four world tours, I thought it was over for me. Then I did it the other way and broke the record (122 days).
“Now I will not sail around the world unless someone makes a great thing that still interests me… But hey, no, I don’t plan to go around the world again. That said, my boat is for sale and I can do coaching… ”
Second placed Mark Slats is due to arrive on Friday, 1 February. He initially planned to put into La Coruna to shelter from the storm conditions sweeping Biscay, but sent a message by YellowBrick tracker today “HEADING FOR LSDO [Les Sables d’Olonne]. WEATHER SEEMS TO BE BETTER AND I AM HUNGRY”
We’ll have a full report on the Golden Globe Race in the April issue of Yachting World, on sale in March.
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Düsseldorf Boat Show 2019: a guide (18 Jan 2019, 5:44 pm)
Your guide Düsseldorf Boat Show 2019, the world's largest indoor boat show, which is being held from 19-27 January 2019
Gone, sadly, are the days of the London Boat Show and the midwinter solace it provided for the landlocked sailor. But something far more impressive has taken its place.
The Düsseldorf Boat Show is the world’s largest indoor boat show. It runs from 19-27 January 2019.
Where the London Boat Show had one hall, the Düsseldorf Boat Show boasts 17.
It has become a key date in the diary for sailing enthusiasts, as it is in Düsseldorf that many of the world’s boat builders unveil their new models to the world for the first time.
Whether you’re in the market for a new yacht, looking for ideas and kit to refit your current boat, or just want to browse to your heart’s content, this is the winter boat show to visit.
At the show
Of the 17 halls at Messe Düsseldorf, three are dedicated to sailing yachts, another two to clothing and equipment, and others for charter and tuition.
Ample space is also given to watersports such as dinghy sailing, windsurfing and paddleboarding.
Not only will you be able to see the latest models, you can also compare complete ranges of yachts from most major manufacturers, and talk to the people who build them.
You’ll also find a wealth of exciting smaller brands you may not have heard of.
While details are still emerging of boats that will be launched, the winners of the European Yacht of the Year 2019 will be announced.
The nominees include the fast but fun RS21, the Hallberg Rassy 340, the Sunbeam 46.1, and the Arcona 435.
Other boats being launched include the Swan 65, a sleek and attractive boat that aims to offer comfortable and safe cruising for a family, but can also be set up for racing. Hall 16, A58
At the smaller end, the new J/99 is designed for short-handed offshore racing, replacing the J105. It’s been updated to include twin rudder, tiller steering and is optimised for IRC racing. She has plenty of headroom below and twin aft cabins. Hall 15, B21
For the more adventurous, the French aluminium builder Alubat will launch its new Ovni 400, which follows the trend for deck-saloon expedition yachts. She has a swing keel, reducing her draught to 98cm, and a voluminous bow section.
Bente have also introduced their second model. Following from the innovative Bente 24, the Bente 39 takes its inspiration from offshore racers with a large glazed dodger that forms the coachroof for the galley and chart table. It can be configured as a cruiser, regatta, or ocean. Hall 15, A22
French builder Dufour have two new models, the Dufour 390 Grand Large and the Dufour 430 Grand Large. Both have stronger hull chines and wider sterns for more form stability. Hall 16, B37
Travel and accommodation
Travelling to Düsseldorf from the UK is easy. Direct flights run from all London airports as well as Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds/Bradford and Southampton.
By car, it’s four hours from Calais and two and a half hours from Amsterdam.
There’s a shuttle service from the airport to the show, and advance ticket holders can use public transport for nothing.
It’s 20 minutes from the show to the city centre. There’s plenty of accommodation, although the best rooms get booked early.
The Altstadt is well worth exploring, and no visit to Düsseldorf is complete without having a drink in the Uerige Obergärige Hausbrauerei and a meal in Zum Schiffchen.
There are also plenty of great museums, arts venues and shops in which to while away your time outside the show.
Report by Yachting Monthly
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Multihulls: new yacht reviews (18 Jan 2019, 4:07 pm)
This looks set to be another thrilling year for multihulls with new models from Dragonfly, Lagoon, Fountaine-Pajot and Dufour and more
Yes, the racing world is stretching the boundaries, with 100ft foiling maxi trimarans tearing around the globe and F50s, the ex-American’s Cup catamarans, now turned-up to sail at 50+ knots for gladiatorial-style stadium racing. But it’s the production monohulls, growing ever more popular among cruising sailors, that are pushing this industry forwards.
The sector is a constantly bubbling melting pot of new ideas and models – some of which we explore in this Multihull Guide. In fact, the multihull market has grown so much that the world’s largest boatbuilder is launching its second catamaran range to appeal to younger, sportier sailors.
A new 40-foot flagship has been unveiled by Denmark’s folding trimaran specialist Dragonfly. The boat won’t reach the public eye until the Dusseldorf Boat Show in 2020, but we already have a good idea of how she will look and perform.
“The project has been influenced by past owners who moved up to larger multihulls for greater space, but reported missing the fun factor of their previous Dragonfly,” explains UK dealer Al Wood of Multihull Solutions. “Our owners and potential clients report that they don’t require more cabins when away cruising, but would welcome more living space below plus greater cockpit space for day-sailing with friends.”
The cockpit has been the focus of much of Dragonfly’s design work, with twin wheels and an optional bathing platform transom. It is also wider than on previous models, allowing sail controls to move aft for easier short-handing, and giving easy access to the stern for Med-style mooring.
The mast is in lightweight carbon – 18.5m tall for the Ultimate version of the boat or 16.5m for the Touring edition. Displacing just 4.9 tonnes in her ready-to-sail state, the boat is forecast to be capable of speeds up to 24 knots.
Other details are scant at the moment, except that Dragonfly is putting the emphasis on easy handling. The trademark folding crossbeams give her a beam of just 4m, down from her full span of 8.5m. The folding process slightly increases her length – from 12.1m to 13.5m. At this size, the boat is clearly not trailerable, unlike her little sisters, but with the Quorning yard’s high reputation, expect scintillating performance.
Price: From €425,000
Dragonfly 32 Evolution
Dragonfly has given the performance variant of its popular 32-footer a makeover. The old Supreme will be replaced with the Evolution, which sports a new wave-piercing float design and 20 per cent more buoyancy to make the boat more comfortable in strong winds and tougher conditions.
Interestingly, the mainsail has been trimmed by around 2.5 square metres, making the rig less powerful, but Al Wood of Multihull Solutions says that this was in response to the greater hull buoyancy. “The mainsail has a slightly reduced roach compared to earlier boats to alter the balance of the boat, which changed as these new wave-piercing floats generate significantly more righting moment with less immersion than the original design.”
The rudder section is slightly improved, to resist stalling in extreme conditions, and the new boat will premier at Dusseldorf this year. Pictured is the first 32 Evolution sailing and with the first of Dragonfly’s contemporary new Elm interiors.
Price: from €276,800
Lagoon says greater comfort is a key goal of its new model, the 46.
The French yard has charged former Renault designer Patrick le Quément with the task of meeting owners’ expectations about comfort in a market where the ‘cruising experience is becoming a lifestyle’.
The design team at VPLP has made fundamental changes to the successful formula of the old 450. Chief amongst these is moving the mast of the 46 further aft on the coachroof. As a result the jib becomes a self-tacker, and the larger forward triangle offers a greater choice of downwind sails. The boom has been shortened and the main has a higher aspect, reducing pitching.
The flybridge helm has been centred and sits directly behind the mast, which means that the footwell protrudes slightly into the cockpit below – something that has been disguised by turning it into a deep frame for the sliding aft windows of the saloon. There’s a sliding stool in the cockpit, and a hydraulic bathing platform.
Italian designer Nauta has made efficient use of the available space with queen-sized beds in all three (or four) cabins, plus a stylish-looking saloon. At 16.6 tonnes displacement, this is no lightweight racer, but it will get you to your destination in comfort.
Price: from €433,000
Contact: Lagoon Catamarans
Sneak peak: XCS by Beneteau
In the hotly-contested 40-something foot category, the Groupe Beneteau team behind Lagoon and CNB luxury monohulls is carving out a new cat brand called XCS. It is pitched at younger, sportier sailors with the tagline ‘be immoderate’. That translates in part to a bigger sailplan than ‘standard’ cruising cats, and with a higher aspect ratio – that is, tall and thin. This positions the mast further aft and allows a self-tacking jib.
The boats will also feature twin aft helm stations, in contrast to many production cats. “It is the ideal position to keep an eye on the sea and sails, whether windward or leeward, and above all, it provides the most sensations at the helm,” explains project director Bruno Belmont. He also says that having a low boom close to the bimini will increase the mainsail’s performance. There will be plexiglass in the hardtop for a better view of the sails, or the option of a fully retractable bimini.
Snippets of video posted online hint at a longeron between the bows offering a tack point for reaching and downwind sails. And the hull has heavily bevelled topsides with a striking chine just above the waterline, as well as generous curved hull lights.
Three interior layouts will be available, with pared down furniture to save about a tonne of weight. It all adds up to a boat that should be faster than the standard cruising cat, though short of the “super fast” technical offerings from the likes of HH and Gunboat.
“We want to be on the sporty side of the main cruising cat brands,” adds Belmont. “It won’t be an elitist range, but a brand where you get more sailing pleasure.”
There will be five sizes from around 36ft to 50ft, and the first two models will be launched at Cannes Boat Show in September.
Prices: close to similarly sized Lagoons.
Contact: Excess Catamarans
The French bluewater cruising cat specialist has continued its range refresh with a replacement for the hugely successful Helia 44, which has sold 260 hulls since 2012.
The new 45 was drawn by Berret Racoupeau, and is slightly bigger in all dimensions. In line with current trends, it offers more creature comforts but at the cost of nearly 1.5 tonnes additional weight than the Helia. That is partly offset by a larger 74m2 main and by a lower wetted surface.
“It means a higher top speed and more comfortable under engines,” says marketing manager Helene de Fontainieu.
What you get for the extra weight is compelling.
The bulkhead helmstation has been remodelled to improve line handling. Inside there is a bigger saloon with a huge galley down the port side and a dedicated navstation aft. There’s the new 8.5m2 forward lounging space, a barbecue in the transom seat and the option of a hydraulically lowering ‘beach club’ (swim platform and tender lift).
There are still sunbeds on the coachroof, and a seating area on the flybridge. The designers have introduced more light, with extra glazing in the saloon and the cabins.
The 45 hits the water in the summer.
Update: Gunboat 68
After years of development and design work and over a year in build, the first Gunboat 68 has emerged from the yard at La Grande Motte, southern France, and will be launched in late January. Hulls two and three are also in build.
Fresh details have emerged about the design itself. The hull is finished with paint rather than gelcoat in order to save weight, and to allow customisation to continue long after the boat emerges from the mould. Hull one is painted in dark silver Awlcraft, containing real flakes of metal. Meanwhile, the interior finish is super-light fabric panels that can easily be removed and offer a degree of insulation as well. “The bulkheads are, in effect, triple glazed,” says Gunboat COO William Jelbert.
The high-aspect, heavily raked rig comes in performance cruising and regatta versions. In the first, the boat will only fly a hull in more than 20 knots of true wind, whereas the racing rig achieves this at 16 knots with a rotating mast that is 4m higher. Velocity predictions suggest the regatta rig will perform 12 per cent better upwind and 20 per cent better downwind.
Gunboat also went back to basics with Jefa to design the steering system with the help of Michel Desjoyeaux. The 25kg carbon blades are fully retractable, sacrificial in the event of a collision and the whole system is designed to support T-foil rudders in the future.
Look out for hull number one at the BVI Spring Regatta.
Sailaway price: €5.5m
First look: ITA 14.99
A combination of sharp design, punchy performance potential, comfort and build quality brings plenty of appeal to this sporty new Italian-built cat. Its light displacement of 10.5 tonnes (fully loaded 13.5 tonnes) is impressive thanks to an E-glass epoxy-infused build with carbon strengthening.
“She’s reactive and stiff,” said designer Francois Perus during its debut at Cannes Boat Show, adding: “as soon as there’s a bit of wind she just wants to go.”
The layout will suit those wanting to actively helm. I like the position of the helmstations, with optional swing-out wheels, which give good forward views over the low coachroof. A central aft winch is employed for halyards and reefing lines, which helps keep the cockpit clear of lines.
Despite the lightweight composite build, weight is permitted where it will aid comfort, such as with the use of proper glass windows surrounding the coachroof and resin worktops in the galley. Elsewhere furniture is built in sandwich balsa with a teak veneer finish.
Price: €890,000 ex VAT.
Contact: Ita Catamarans
Dufour 48 Cat
Designed and built in Italy, the first Dufour catamaran was hastily finished in time for the Cannes Boat Show last September.
“This is the only cat of this size with a proper flybridge” said Umberto Felci on showing me his new design, “which is divided into three areas of driving [single helm], seating and sunbathing”. The flat coachroof top is huge, which, together with the flybridge seating is designed to act as a second cockpit. The aft position of the mast meanwhile creates a sizeable area for a self-tacking, non-overlapping jib.
There are nicely proportioned amounts of space inside for the cockpit, main deck and galley. I like the island worktop around the mast base to extend the galley. Guest cabins each have their own companionway entrance.
Contact: Dufour Catamarans
Sunreef is a ‘small family business’ that has grown to its current €50m turnover, said CEO Francis Lapp. He was addressing at least 30 journalists on the aft deck of the first Sunreef 80.
The boat is the queen of a new range that sees the Polish firm targeting the large charter market of 50ft–80ft crewed cats (around 80% of Sunreefs go to charter).
Business is booming, according to Sunreef, which says it has sold eight of the new 80s, eight 60s and ten 50s off the plans. Sunreef already has 500 employees and is looking for more to help meet this incredible demand.
The amount of space on offer on the new 60 and 80 has to be seen to be believed. The designs feature enormous open-plan saloons and adjoining cockpits, which are designed with very little fixed furniture – allowing them to be customised or to double as party lounges. And the flybridges, mostly with Jacuzzis, offer alfresco dining areas and yet more sun lounging space (oh, and the helmstations).
The first 60 to launch is a charter version with five guest cabins, while the privately owned 80 has the largest owner’s cabin I’ve ever seen on any size sailing yacht.
Price: Approximate pricing is €2.2m for the 60 and €5m for the 80.
Contact: Sunreef Yachts
The MC50 stole the show when it launched at La Grande Motte in April last year. Just four months later, McConaghy was back with its second Jason Ker design, the MC60, at Cannes Boat Show. It’s very much the larger sister and similar design to the MC50, sharing many of its standout features, including the aft flybridge helmstations, hydraulic centreboards and the sumptuous open-plan saloon and galley.
Its main benefits come down to volume and length. “You get more waterline length for not much more weight,” says Ker of the MC60. There’s more empty bow space and a lot more volume. The British designer also thinks it’s a size that can still be owner-operated – indeed there’s not even a dedicated crew cabin option.
McConaghy says the helm set-up, with its full views over the bows, suits those who want to sail the boat by themselves without a crew. The question remains how comfortable this position may prove in a seaway.
The Design Unlimited interior is styled to suit each owner. The first boat has a very pale finish with light oak veneer masking the foam sandwich build. Again it’s the huge electric opening side windows and three longitudinal skylights in the saloon that help provide the overall wow factor.
Price: €2.15m ex VAT.
Contact: McConaghy Boats
Never has a catamaran of this size offered so much living space. Bali takes its outdoor/indoor concept to a whole new level with its new flagship 55-footer.
Similar to its previous designs, Bali uses an open one-level saloon, galley and aft cockpit area, with a garage-style glass door that swings down to close off the aft when required. The flybridge is also enormous, with the majority of space given to leisure area, however the boom is pushed up high and there’s only one helmstation.
Accommodation space is also vast, stretched to both ends of the hulls. A solid deck is preferred to a trampoline to help increase foredeck cockpit space and forepeak cabins.
Two aft compact cabins meanwhile, accessed from the aft deck, also help maximise the number of cabins available. These use clever doors that hinge up like car bonnets, which will likely only suit fair weather sailing.
The four main transverse double guest cabins in the central hulls, meanwhile, are simply enormous.
Price: €755,400 ex VAT.
Contact: Bali Catamarans
I often think it a shame that they aren’t more new mid-size (10m/35ft) coastal cruising cats developed these days. The family cruisers of yesteryear at this size (for example Prout and Gemini) are typically now 10ft longer, much more voluminous and consequently expensive.
So I was keen to see this new offering from Aventura, a French brand which builds its more modest-sized cats in Tunisia.
I like the overall design, the fine entry of the bows and the comparatively low freeboard (by today’s standards), which makes boarding much easier.
Unfortunately there is no helm feedback while sailing in light breeze and swell, the single winch set-up is clumsy when tacking, and there is a lot of noise and vibration from the engines located under the aft berths.
But this design still offers plentiful accommodation space. The Aventura has a modern-style single-level main living deck with connecting galley/cockpit. It boasts plenty of natural light, generous-sized berths with large hull windows and reasonable stowage in the cabins and galley. And the price is another pleasant surprise.
Price: €159,000 ex VAT.
Contact: Aventura Catamarans
With dreadnought bows and low-slung coachroof, the ITA 14.99 captured attention from all quarters when she made her debut at…
They have two different boats, different sailing plans and two very different sets of experience. But what these cruisers have…
Review: Silent 55, the extraordinary solar powered yacht (18 Jan 2019, 4:06 pm)
Silent Yachts is tapping into the solar zeitgeist and creating a new meaning for the term ‘powercat’. Sam Fortescue reports
There is a slow, silent revolution under way in the yachting world. It is a revolution that is introducing tonnes of lithium and a sprinkling of silicon to the spec list of new boats. Holding out the promise of silent mobility, plus limitless domestic power on board, it made a big splash at the last Cannes Festival of Yachting – not least thanks to the new Silent 55 catamaran which debuted there.
From the pontoon side, the Silent 55 looks like a typical modern catamaran, with a big coachroof studded with windows and a flybridge helm. Except there’s no mast. Now, bear with me here. I realise that this is a sailing magazine, but we will shortly get back to more familiar territory. The unique qualities of this catamaran only become apparent from up top, where an expanse of solar panels stretches away fore and aft, embedded into the coachroof. The hard top itself carries yet more panels, and can be folded down flush to give an unshaded solar array of 49m2. During the heat of a summer day in the Med, this is capable of generating 10kW of power and up to around 60kWh in the course of the day.
“The boat’s house load is 5-10kWh per day,” explains Jean-Marc Zanni, who designed the 55’s electrical system using 140kWh of Panasonic batteries and the 370W Sunpower panels. “So you can go for weeks between recharging. The aim is to provide full comfort and silence at anchor or in port.”
It’s an intriguing possibility, and one that founder Michael Köhler is betting will appeal to a broad constituency of sailors. He has spent five years honing the concept of the solar-powered boat after he and his wife Heike finally sold the monohull in which they had sailed tens of thousands of miles. “We were annoyed by the fact that on a conventional sailing boat, you are usually motoring 50% of the time,” he explains. “And the whole energy system can’t supply all the boat’s consumption without running the generator.”
With insight gathered from years at sea, Köhler set about researching the best ways of harnessing renewable power aboard a cruising boat to keep the generator off. He weighed up wind, solar and hydrogenation (where the speed of the water flowing over the prop when the boat is sailing turns an electric motor to generate power).
“When you hear the wind turbine making all that noise, you think it will be producing lots of power,” he says. “But it’s not. When we did the measurements, solar produced much more.” The same is true of hydrogeneration using the main prop. “Regeneration starts making sense at 10 knots of boat speed. Before that, it is not as good as it seems.” In fact, Silent Yachts doesn’t include the contribution of regeneration at all in its power equation. “The simple truth is that solar is by far the most effective.”
But to make a solar system work in reality, Köhler had to go back to the drawing board on yacht design. The saloon and hulls have extra thermal insulation to keep air-con losses down, and the use of carbon and aramid in key areas helps reduce the overall weight to a decent 17 tonnes (a Lagoon 52 weighs 22.5 tonnes). He has tried to keep windows out of the direct sun with long overhangs and in contrast to the Lagoon’s 12 deck hatches, the Silent 55 has just two.
On the other hand, it has lots of opening windows, to allow a natural draught to do its job. “It’s a holistic approach – you can’t take the batteries and the drivetrain and drop it into another boat.”
Of course, using the propulsion system quickly takes its toll of the boat’s 140kW battery bank. The model on display at Cannes had two 135kW motors, giving you just half an hour of silent motoring flat-out, albeit at a top speed of over 20 knots. More reasonable 30kW engines and a single-digit speed give you greater range.
Nonetheless, the electric drive alone isn’t going to allow you to outrun a storm, or race home after a day at anchor, so the boat is designed to work with a generator hidden in the heavily insulated transom of its starboard hull. At cruising speed of around 5-6 knots, Köhler says there is rarely any need to use the generator, citing an owner who has just emailed him triumphantly about a second year totally generator-free. “In the end, you have to compare it to the performance of a sailing boat,” Köhler says. “It is as fast as a sailing boat in similar conditions – after all, there is no wind without sun.”
He went so far as to tell me during the sea trial in Palma, Mallorca, that he believed the majority of sailors would happily dispense with the hassle of sails and a rig if only they could enjoy silent motoring and anchoring. “As soon as people realise the incredible concept of this boat, they won’t understand why they ever did anything else.”
The market does not seem to agree with him – yet.
Sales of the boat have been good – they have already sold six, five of which are already in the water. But of those, four customers have taken the sail option, which means planting a 19.7m tall mast complete with boom and rigging slap bang in the middle of the coachroof solar array. “I was a bit amazed,” Köhler admits. “The shade from the rig reduces the energy generated by the solar area, while it costs more and is heavier, so consumes more fuel. Maybe it is for optical reasons.”
In fact, the shade of the rig slashes the average yield of the solar panels in half. In the Med, that means around 30kWh per day. But perhaps it figures. The typical profile of buyers is an environmentalist who has a Tesla electric car and is “an early adopter who likes to have things before others”. And at low speeds, with modest use of the air-con, the reduced energy generation should still cover daily consumption.
The performance under sail should be reasonable because of the lightweight build of the boat, its broad 8.47m beam and stub keels added to each hull. Control lines are led back via conduits in the coachroof to the flybridge helm station, to make single-handing under sail a possibility.
More interesting, I think, is a sort of halfway-house option using a kite rig. This optimises the performance of the solar panels and gives plenty of propulsion. On the smaller 55 and the 64, Silent Yachts currently recommends a 19m2 kite that costs around €25,000 – a fraction of the cost of a new mast, boom, shrouds and sails. “The sail automatically makes a figure of eight above the boat, and you can steer it with a joystick or an app on an android phone,” Köhler explains. “It can propel the 55 at up to 6 knots, even in light winds.” Perfect for an Atlantic crossing, then.
For the bigger Silent 79, which will hit the water in the summer, a commercial grade Sky Sail system needs to be used – a smaller version of the ones used on cargo ships. This kite can propel the boat at ten knots, but it costs more than ten times as much as its smaller cousin. Both are capable of pulling the boat upwind.
So far, so new. But outside the novel energy and propulsion system, the Silent 55 aims to do what many other cruising catamarans are trying to achieve. “Most of our clients order for circumnavigation and long-term cruising,” Köhler says. So the boat is aimed to be as comfortable and capable as possible with watermakers, TVs and an induction hob that all capitalise on the boat’s abundant energy.
A flexible configuration allows owners the choice of between three and six cabins – the latter designed for charter. The owner’s cabin lies forward of the saloon, under the windows of the coachroof, which provide magnificent views and abundant natural light. There’s a walk-around bed and steps down into the starboard hull give access to an en-suite shower room and heads.
In my view, the best cabin lies aft of this, accessed in the traditional manner down steps out of the saloon. The king-sized bed lies athwartships and the shower is larger than that of the master cabin. There’s more space down here, better headroom and still plenty of light courtesy of the many hull lights.
The finish is good rather than spectacular, with a range of choices around woods and fabrics. The intention is to keep weight down by using laminate where possible, but owners can choose glass or porcelain fittings wherever they want.
The 37m2 saloon is the star attraction on this boat, offering copious amounts of space for a well-equipped galley, a comfy dining or lounging area and a fully functional interior nav station.
It connects through sliding doors to the broad, uncluttered cockpit, which offers seating and a dining table with room for eight. A 4.5m tender can be slung from the underside of the bathing platform here, which can be raised and lowered hydraulically.There is more lounging space at the bow, where two little trampolines between the nacelle and the hull make comfy, if eccentric, nests. There are also cushions under the overhang of the coachroof.
When I had the chance to sea trial the Silent 55, albeit in motorboat format, I jumped at it. It was a contrary autumn day on Mallorca with 15 knots breeze – just a shame, then, that this wasn’t one of the sailing configured versions.
To start with, getting on board is made really easy courtesy of deep boarding platforms on the skirts. She feels rather square because of that vast, glazed saloon with its deep overhang, and perhaps because of the utilitarian nature of the hard top, which is really about supporting more solar panels. Nevertheless, the side decks are broad and uncluttered.
The space up top is designed to concertina down flat, hence the hydraulic rams, fold-down seat back and lowering console. It makes a great sailing position, though, with all round visibility, and is also perfect for sundowners at anchor. When the rain comes down, this feels quite exposed, but there is a fully sheltered helm at the front of the saloon, and it is also possible to drive the boat from anywhere using a tablet thanks to smart electronics.
Under power, the handling is superb. The quietness of the motors is astonishing, and I gather they’ll be inaudible on the next boat, which will do away with the gearbox. Even in the aft cabins, directly above the motors, there is no more than a distant hum. The boat responds instantly to the power and the wind seemed to have no impact at all. As with any propulsion system, the power consumption jumps as you pile on the speed – it was sobering to see. At 6 knots, both motors drew 10kW but at 8 knots it was closer to 30kW.
I liked the huge saloon with its raised table for 360º views. And the sliding door and window gives great access aft, connecting the saloon and cockpit in fine conditions. The finish was smart and in muted tones, feeling more Scandinavian than German.
Intriguingly, at least it seems to me, Köhler has tapped into something with the concept behind Silent Yachts – but not entirely for the reasons that he expected. Buyers are opting for the sail or kite versions of the boat because they want a comfortable wind-powered craft with abundant, quiet energy on tap.
It brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘powercat’
They have two different boats, different sailing plans and two very different sets of experience. But what these cruisers have…
Yes, the racing world is stretching the boundaries, with 100ft foiling maxi trimarans tearing around the globe and F50s, the…
The post Review: Silent 55, the extraordinary solar powered yacht appeared first on Yachting World.
Multihulls: owners’ experiences and reviews (18 Jan 2019, 4:04 pm)
How do you select the right catamaran to best suit your cruising? Learning from other owners is a good place to start
They have two different boats, different sailing plans and two very different sets of experience. But what these cruisers have in common is a desire to explore in two hulls rather than one.
Hal Haltom explains how he drew on decades of monohull sailing to choose a relatively light displacement Outremer 51 for the World ARC, while David Weible and Kellie Peterson tell of their snap decision to sell up and set sail in a Lagoon 42. They share hard won tips about setting up the boat for ambitious cruising and give an insight into life at sea.
Hal Haltom – Outremer 51
Hal Haltom, 59, from Texas, bought an Outremer 51 in 2016 and set off on the World ARC that winter. With his wife Marsha and daughter Haley, he has sailed more than 27,000 miles across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans to reach South Africa and believes that it makes sense to buy a lighter boat that performs better in light winds.
We did two trips through the eastern and western Caribbean with our kids about 10 years ago on a Tayana 52 monohull. This time we switched to a catamaran because it had features that we thought were better: living above the waterline, level (and not rolly) and easier sail handling.
Once we decided to switch, we started looking at the available boats in our price range. My wife Marsha and I have raced sailboats for many years and we wanted a better sailing cat, which ruled out the heavier ones. At the Miami Boat Show in early 2015 we looked at a Catana and St Francis but it was an Outremer 51 that interested us . Afterwards, we flew to the company’s factory in La Grande- Motte in southern France and were impressed. We thought the Outremer 51 was a boat that a couple in their 50s could handle and we ordered one and took delivery in May 2016.
Fit for bluewater
Ours is the base boat with only a few options added because Outremer builds a boat that is ready to go bluewater cruising. We have an aluminium mast, Mastervolt lithium battery system (360Ah at 24V), Dessalator watermaker, 560W of solar panels, and a Watt & Sea hydrogenerator. All this equipment worked well. As did the B&G instruments, Lecomble & Schmitt autopilot, Volvo D2-40 engines, and Incidence and Delta Voile sails. We don’t have a diesel generator.
Sailing on a sunny day, we can run the watermaker using only the batteries and on a cloudy day, I may need to turn on an engine for an hour or so. Each engine has a 110A alternator running through a Sterling booster. At anchor, we rely on the solar panels, which is all that is needed in the Tropics.
My advice would be to buy a boat that sails well and handles easily. Also, I would keep the equipment as simple as possible while maintaining the comfort level you need. Passagemaking is hard on boats. A light boat requires less effort to sail and a simpler boat requires less maintenance and repair. Even though our boat is a light cat, we have found it to be well-built and comfortable. Outremer has also been very responsive in dealing with any issues during the two-year warranty period and beyond.
After spending the summer cruising the Mediterranean, it was time to head off on our big adventure. We left La Grande-Motte in October 2017. We sailed to Spain and Gibraltar and crossed the Atlantic to St Lucia in November 2017 with the ARC+ rally. We joined the World ARC rally in St Lucia and sailed to Panama, through the canal, across the Pacific to Australia, and then across the Indian Ocean to Richards Bay, South Africa, where we are now.
The three of us have sailed more than 27,000 miles and are pleased with our choice of boat. Fast cruising is enjoyable and it is always good to get into port sooner.
We typically sail in tradewind conditions at boat speeds of 8 to 10 knots. We had six 200-plus mile days in a row during our crossing of the Pacific from the Galapagos to the Marquesas.
During our Indian Ocean crossing we had 30-plus knots of wind for several days and 4m seas. The boat also performed well in those conditions.
When cruising, you see more light air than heavy air and it is very nice to have a boat that will sail fast in light air. An additional benefit of a fast cat that is often not mentioned is the ability to sail with a reduced sail area and still go fast. We often sail with two or three reefs in the main and just our working jib in 15 knots of wind, which makes the boat very easy to handle, while still going fast. Another advantage is with narrow hulls and a smaller saloon the side decks are wider, which make moving around much safer. Our huge foredeck also makes sail handling much safer and easier, with less stress all round as we move through the water.
David Weible and Kellie Peterson – Lagoon 42
David Weible had a liveaboard adventure on a leaky monohull many years ago but he and his partner Kellie still managed to surprise themselves when they decided to sell their Florida home and go cruising. They chose a Lagoon 42 and, with few regrets, have just crossed the Atlantic to Saint Lucia after a summer in the Med.
A little more than a year ago, we were riding our bikes across the playa at the Burning Man festival in Nevada when a dust storm rolled in. We took refuge in a lighthouse art installation, talked about our dreams and hatched a plan: sell everything, buy a sailboat, sail the globe — and share our story on YouTube.
Four months later, we made an offer on a Tartan 44 monohull in St Petersburg, Florida. A sea trial and inspection revealed major issues, so we kept looking for another bluewater cruising boat. In February, we flew to San Diego to see a Tayana – another disappointment. But the effort wasn’t a total loss: we discovered catamarans. We looked at Leopard, Fountaine-Pajot and Lagoon. When we boarded the Lagoon 42, a comfortable catamaran that could really take us places, we were sold.
Hull #300 was delivered in August. We moved aboard on a Saturday and set sail across the Bay of Biscay the following Wednesday. Sitting at anchor in Spain, navigating narrow rivers in Portugal, picking our way through the Atlantic fog, surfing big swells on the way to Madeira, lounging with the wildlife in the Selvagens and currently sailing across the Atlantic Ocean have all added up nicely and validated our decision to buy the catamaran.
Starship Friendship handles a lot better than we expected. These heavier cruising catamarans sail really well with the right sail plan, but they do come with a relatively conservative set-up. The square-top main, Code 0 and ACH cruising chute options are a must. On a dead run, speed over ground exceeds half of the true wind speed; up to 45° into the wind, with 15 knots or more, she does even better. On a beam reach, she nearly matches true wind speed; fly the chute in as little as 8 knots and she’ll keep a comfortable walking pace downwind. In a solid swell, she’s balanced and comfortable. Crew members suffer little or no seasickness and are not worn out after longer passages.
We still have a wishlist of improvements including a dual battery charger for 110V and 220V, painted bow compartments to avoid fibreglass itchiness, an accessible place for wet gear and fishing tools, and a bit more solar and battery capacity (oh, and a Parasailor too). The broker recommended two rigid LG300 solar panels, which put out roughly 270W each at max output. This is not enough to run all systems on the boat, so when we go offshore, the generator becomes a necessity – we run it for roughly four hours per day. If money were no object we would have loved to put a custom stainless attachment above the dingy davit with three or four panels, which would be the correct amount of power necessary for our boat.
Otherwise, we have not done much to her. The lighting indoor and outdoor is bright and does not have dim or colour option. We put red spinnaker tape over our lights when offshore to create a more friendly night environment and intend to have red lighting in the Caribbean. We also installed an electric toilet in the owner’s cabin, which has been really nice.
The helm station is a hot topic among Lagoon 42 owners. It’s a love-hate relationship. A lot of owners find the seat uncomfortable and too short. We have seen many modifications. In bad weather we are cautious and always use safety tethers while at the helm. We run a piece of webbing on occasion from the arm rail on the seat to the grab rail on the helm for additional safety in heavy conditions.
Our only real regret is that we were rushed to meet our Atlantic crossing deadline. Buyers benefit from more time and support during the handover. Details like setting up the boat, walking through the installed gear, testing the systems and reviewing best practices make the experience less stressful and more satisfying for those with resources on hand.
If we ever pick up a new boat again, it would make sense to deal directly with a local representative — having boots on the ground seems to improve the experience for those we’ve talked to. Our friends in the Lagoon community rave about the assistance they received with warranties, training, and delivery services from local agents. That said, would we buy again? Yes. The stability, easy sailing rig, forgiving design and comfortable floor plan deliver one hell of a good lifestyle.
The Starship makes cruising easy and handles a variety of conditions comfortably. Her reliable performance under sail has made our passages pretty awesome. From France to Gibraltar, Tangier to Madeira, Salvagen to Cape Verde and across the ocean — the voyages of Starship Friendship have been stellar. She’s even a bit famous. The YouTube channel ‘Sailing Starship Friendship’ chronicles all the good and the bad. Luckily, the stability of a catamaran makes editing at sea easy and new episodes are published every Sunday – even in big seas and strong winds!
Yes, the racing world is stretching the boundaries, with 100ft foiling maxi trimarans tearing around the globe and F50s, the…
There is a slow, silent revolution under way in the yachting world. It is a revolution that is introducing tonnes…
François Perus: multihull designer profile (18 Jan 2019, 4:03 pm)
Sam Fortescue meets François Perus, the up-and-coming designer responsible for a broad range of new, fast multihulls
With dreadnought bows and low-slung coachroof, the ITA 14.99 captured attention from all quarters when she made her debut at the Cannes Boat Show last September. Designed to be the kind of catamaran that even dyed-in-the-wool monohull sailors would enjoy, she has a powerful rig and serious helm stations perched on the aft quarter. So it’s no surprise, perhaps, that the naval architect behind the boat grew up sailing and racing monohulls in that most nautical corner of France, Brittany.
François Perus doesn’t mince his words: “I think sitting up on the bulkhead looks stupid,” he tells me.
“I like sitting on the edge in the wind with the tiller in my hand. I think most of the world is designing floating apartments for charter holidays.”
After such an opening salvo, you might think that Perus favours the sort of extreme designs that barely concede a pipe cot below and frown upon any kind of shelter on deck. But you’d be wrong. The first cat he built after completing his engineering studies at Ensta Bretagne was a fast 8.5m dayboat called the Pandora 8.50, in honour of his grandfather’s 9m wooden boat.
“The concept of the Pandora 8.50 has been articulated around the idea of drawing a balanced boat,” he explains. “We listened to the wishes of potential sailors, then removed the extreme options – nice on paper, but difficult to use for most sailors.”
He began drawing the boat while completing his course as an intern at Berret Racoupeau, had it built as a prototype in Turkey, and it is still one of his favourite designs. He says it will comfortably manage one-and-a-half times windspeed, making a 50-mile daytrip with a picnic from his family home on the Golfe du Morbihan to Belle Ile and back a possibility. “We can be home in time for aperitifs,” he grins.
The Pandora 8.50 never went into series production, but all that may be about to change. “We started to make tooling but we lacked a proper partner to do sales and marketing. It’s in discussion. We will see.” He’s also hoping to find a buyer for a bigger version of the boat, the 13.50, still with tiller steering but with more accommodation and a large, open cockpit.
After spending a further year studying architecture in Paris, Perus joined Australian multihull pioneer Tony Grainger in Thailand. “I was used to multihulls that were either big floating caravans or crazy racing machines. I found a way in-between where we could mix the potential for speed and comfort.”
Grainger was designing cats with broader beam, longer decks in front of the mast and, thanks to lighter construction techniques, were capable of faster passages.
Back to France
The collaboration came to an end when Grainger declined to set up a European office. Perus moved back to France and in 2013 got his first real commission with the Slyder 47 – a design of which he is proud, although the German-Italian parent company slipped into administration in 2016. The boat was well reviewed by the sailing press and went on to sell a reported five units before the company went under.
“The brief was a bluewater family cruiser with good seaworthiness and sailing abilities, and a good look,” he says. Though there was good feedback from owners, he regrets that the boat was heavier than it should have been, so not as fast. “I gained experience: you have to be sure to adapt the design to the builder.”
The brand has since been resuscitated by a new owner and a new 49-footer launched. Just as the Slyder 47 project was getting going, Perus was commissioned to design the Pulse 600 for the folding trimaran builder Corsair. At 20ft LOA, this is the smallest of the brand’s trailable trimarans and has floats that fold up tight against the hull. It is designed unashamedly for fast, wet, fun sailing. “She had to be fast – the record I heard from the Hawaiian dealer was 26 knots sustained – and dinghy-sized. She’s light and the crew account for a lot of the righting moment, so it’s proportionally possible to have way more square metres of sail per tonne of boat than a bigger cruising multi.”
He designed the boat to blend stability and speed. But she was not designed for racing and there is a compromise: the bows are a little fuller to prevent nosediving and the rig could have been bigger to squeeze more from light winds.
Riding high from the public success of the Slyder, Perus was commissioned to design an even bigger and much more radical catamaran, the North Wind 55, which he says is a major step-up in the complexity of the design work. Drawn but not yet built for a niche Spanish yard, the boat aims to incorporate the latest technology, so can have a full carbon hull alongside T-foil rudders, Z-foils for stability and lift, and photovoltaic windows. “When we started I thought the foils would mainly improve speeds but in the end we came to the conclusion that they also brought seaworthiness, stability and safety.”
The ITA 14.99 is indicative of Perus’ design thinking, combining sleek good looks with strong performance and comfort for bluewater passagemaking. But he is still looking to the future. When I ask him about design trends he points to 3D printing, eco-friendly materials and production technologies and foils – both above and below the waterline. He also thinks that the growth of boatsharing is going to be a factor in design.
In a manner of speaking, he is involved in his own ‘boatshare’ through the Yacht Design Collective he co-founded with Romain Scolari. “The interest for us is the crossover of ideas and skills, and it helps to make us look bigger and stronger,” he explains.
At his own initiative, he is working on an eco-trimaran project, codenamed ‘Kanka’, with a wooden hull. “I am trying to make a homage to the traditional craft of Polynesia, but bringing it into the 21st century with Dyneema, low-friction loops and so on.” Measuring just 4m, she is also meant to be affordable and very portable. “You can carry the parts to the beach, put it together and go sailing,” he explains.
Now, I can’t wait to take that for a spin.
Report by Sam Fortescue
Yes, the racing world is stretching the boundaries, with 100ft foiling maxi trimarans tearing around the globe and F50s, the…
They have two different boats, different sailing plans and two very different sets of experience. But what these cruisers have…