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Düsseldorf Boat Show 2021 cancelled due to COVID-19 infection rates (21 Jan 2021, 11:43 am)

The latest boat show to succumb to the COVID-19 pandemic is Europe’s largest, with confirmation today that Boot Düsseldorf 2021 has been cancelled

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The 2021 Düsseldorf Boat Show will be delayed by almost 3 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic

The organisers of the Düsseldorf Boat Show ave today announced that Europe’s biggest indoor boat show will be cancelled for 2021.

In a statement, organisers Messe Düsseldorf GmbH revealed the scheduled dates for the next Düsseldorf Boat Show as 22-30 January 2022.

“The continuing high level of infection and the fact that the end of the lockdown is not foreseeable for the time being make a resumption of trade fair operations at the end of April appear increasingly unrealistic,” explained Wolfram N. Diener, CEO of Messe Düsseldorf.

“We have reassessed the situation with our partners and jointly decided to cancel boot 2021 early. Our priority is the health and planning security of our exhibitors, visitors and service providers. All activities will now be focused on the successful staging of boot 2022.”

The 2021 Miami Boat Show, originally scheduled for February 11-15, was cancelled at the end of October, leaving the 2021 Dubai Boat Show (March 9-13) as the next major event in the international boat show calendar.

However, those looking for a boating fix before then can join to the Ancasta Virtual Boat Show, which starts this weekend (23-31 January).

Potential buyers will be able to compare and contrast different models from Beneteau, Lagoon and McConaghy Yachts.

“Boot Düsseldorf is such a fantastic show and the cancellation, although understandable, is really disappointing,” said Will Blair, Ancasta’s Group Marketing Director.

“Many people use Boot Düsseldorf to compare and contrast different models, and we didn’t want people to miss out on that opportunity, so we’re holding our own virtual version.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming people onboard to assist them in finding their perfect boat ready for the 2021 season.”

For more information and to book an appointment, visit: ancasta.com/dusseldorf

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Selling a yacht: The best ways to sell your boat (21 Jan 2021, 8:35 am)

Terysa Vanderloo and partner Nick Fabbri have spent five years cruising on their Southerly 38, whilst vlogging on their YouTube channel Sailing Ruby Rose.

Sooner or later, most boat owners will find it’s time to change their yacht for a different size or model. No matter how well loved their yacht is, wants and needs shift over time and most owners will inevitably find themselves in the position of selling a yacht – whether to upgrade to something bigger, newer, or simply change to a different style of sailing.

Terysa Vanderloo

My partner and I have spent the past five years living on board our Southerly 38 Ruby Rose, on which we cruised between the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, including two Atlantic crossings.

Before setting off on our bluewater adventure, we spent years researching the perfect liveaboard boat for us, and settled on the Southerly 38. Although the waterline length was relatively modest for a full-time cruiser, we loved the interior space and build quality.

Importantly, we couldn’t afford bigger and we didn’t feel comfortable handling a bigger monohull. After eight years of ownership and five years of full-time cruising, we’re now upgrading to a 45ft catamaran. We recently sold Ruby Rose, and are awaiting the launch of our new Seawind 1370.

Selling a yacht privately or with a Broker

Choosing to sell privately or through a broker is one of the first decisions to make when selling your boat.

We opted to list Ruby Rose with Northshore, the dedicated Southerly brokerage, as well as list her privately on our own website. Because we listed her before arriving back in the UK, we also had to provide photographs and manage viewings ourselves. Ultimately we accepted an offer privately while we were still in France.

Rupert Knox-Johnston of Oyster Yachts Brokerage provides some advice for choosing a broker: “Look for brokers with a track record of selling your model of yacht and ask for recommendations. If you are unwilling or unable to conduct viewings yourself, you might wish to choose a broker that is close to your yacht.

Using a broker is a popular option

“Choose one with a good reputation that is affiliated to the appropriate trade bodies. In the UK, for example, brokers that are members of the Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents (ABYA) must have the requisite professional indemnity and liability insurance.”

Alex Grabau from Grabau International Yacht Brokerage agrees that it’s crucial to choose a broker who operates to high professional standards. He says: “Adhering to protocols of sale such as operating with correctly managed separate client accounts, professional indemnity insurance and the use of contracts written by top lawyers in the marine industry ensures a seamless sale process and transaction.”

When Vicky and Stuart Punshon sold their Moody S31 in order to upgrade to a Moody 46 they chose a broker based on their good reputation, proven sales record, as well as the commission price and the broker’s location in respect to the yacht.

They were very happy with this decision and had a smooth sale at a price they were satisfied with.

By contrast, when Robyn Hawkins and Dave Evans chose to sell their Dufour 34 in order to upgrade to a Hallberg-Rassy 42E, they chose to do so privately. “The main reason was the cost,” says Robyn. “I wasn’t happy to give away thousands of pounds for something I knew I could do myself.”

They had originally listed the Dufour with a broker, but their experience was not positive. Things got off to a bad start when the broker missed their first appointment to view and photograph the boat.

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Six months later there has not been a single viewing, so Robyn and Dave instructed the broker to take down the listing and successfully sold the boat themselves in weeks.

Whether you choose to sell privately or through a broker may be influenced by the value of your yacht, says Alan McIlroy of Berthon International. “Once you step over a certain value, purchasers in particular feel a little more comfortable in dealing with an established brokerage house.

“For the seller, the correct management of the sale is key. Having a professional broker doing this makes the process less stressful. The broker works for you.”

Grabau adds that although there is nothing wrong with selling a boat privately, the risks to the vendor and buyer can be considerable.

“It makes sense that a professional and trained hand is at the wheel at all times to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Ensure your boat is in good shape for potential viewings

“The sale of a yacht will ordinarily involve a whole raft of checks and processes including establishing clear and unencumbered title, reviewing VAT, RCD and registration documentations (which may include foreign languages or formats), dealing constructively with survey findings, safe handling of client monies, drawing up contracts to assist with the process of the sale and general ‘good sense’ when dealing with delicate negotiations.”

When selling privately, he cautions: “If mistakes are made, they can be costly to either or both parties.”

Photographs and video for selling a yacht

In order to choose your boat, potential buyers need to be able to firstly find the listing, and also have their interest grabbed enough to book a viewing. This is where marketing comes in.

If selling privately, it’s crucial to understand how important this step is to a successful sale. Good photographs, a detailed description and full specification list are imperative.

Robyn Hawkins says: “Having looked at loads of listings when we were looking for our next boat, the ones we liked the best were the ones that showed everything [so] that’s what we wanted to do for our boat.”

Alex Grabau agrees that the more photographs or video content the broker has at their disposal, the better. “Buyers are often time-poor and the ability to go online and get a really clear idea of the yacht, her layout and her condition before having to enquire further, can make all the difference.

“The most successful listings are the ones where there is a clear photographic or video walkthrough, both internally and externally.”

Photos taken in landscape rather than portrait format are more website-friendly, and ensuring the photographs are clear, taken in good light and portray the boat at its cleanest and tidiest is crucial. Countless times I’ve seen photos of very expensive boats for sale, with items left on galley countertops, bags on the seats, and people standing in the shot; which can be very off-putting.

“Very much as important as high quality photography, walkthrough videos are now

playing an important role in promoting a yacht,” adds Alan McIlroy of Berthon.

“A well put together walkthrough gives a prospective client a good feel for the yacht in terms of the yacht’s condition, the layout both above and below decks and acts as a useful qualifier prior to an actual viewing.”

Most brokers will list the boat on their own websites as well as brokerage websites, and private sellers should also advertise online. It’s also worth using social media, and there are pages and groups dedicated to buying and selling boats. If you have an internet presence already, as we did, that can makes your sale much easier.

Matt and Jessica Johnson are the creators behind the popular YouTube channel MJ Sailing, and when it came time to list their aluminium monohull, they chose to simply advertise it on their own platforms.

“To advertise our boat, we did a walkthrough video on our YouTube channel. Within the video we mentioned she was for sale. If parties were interested, we had a link with all the boat’s information as well as a number of photographs on our website,” says Jessica.

It worked; less than two months later, their boat was sold and they are now in the process of upgrading to a catamaran.

A smooth handover is just as important to the buyer as the vendor. We ensured our buyer was fully aware of any issues the survey may reveal well in advance. We tried to be as transparent as possible about any items that needed upgrading or repairing from the outset and kept lines of communication open at all times.

Matt and Jessica had the same approach when they came to sell their aluminium cutter: “We never shied away from listing every issue the boat had that we were aware of. We wanted there to be no surprises when the new owner took possession, so there were daily discussions about everything good and bad we could think of relating to the boat.”

Berthon is a big name in brokerage, particularly higher end yachts

Even if selling through a broker, Alan McIlroy still advises on adopting a full disclosure policy. “Whether selling privately or through a broker, it’s vital that any known defects or significant repairs are disclosed to the broker/purchaser.

Maintaining confidence

“Letting the purchaser’s surveyor discover a defect which was previously known of is not going to aid the sales process. At worst it may lead the purchaser to pull out, at best it leaves the broker the job of rebuilding the purchaser’s confidence in the yacht.”

Also check you have all your documentation in order. “Review your paperwork, title chain and VAT. Having just received an offer is not the time discover there is a vital link in the paper chain missing that might hamper the sale’s progress,” says McIlroy.

To seal the deal, Rupert Knox-Johnston believes there are three factors to ensure all goes well: price, location and condition.

“Your yacht should be [priced] broadly in line with other comparable yachts on the market. Make sure buyers can view your yacht with minimum effort – if you want her sold, bring your yacht to the market, don’t expect the market to come to her.

A used boat show is a good place to find a captive market

“And make sure she is clean, dry, and tidy. Money invested in her presentation is rarely wasted. If you’re getting viewings and not offers, it’s probably down to her condition.”

Moving on

Planning future sailing when you are uncertain of the date on which you plan to sell a yacht is awkward. If you buy your next boat too soon, before selling your current boat, it puts you under enormous pressure to sell as quickly as possible, which is what happened to Robyn and Dave.

“We had to buy our second boat before selling the first as we were full-time liveaboards and didn’t have anywhere to stay on land,” Robyn recalls. However, when their departure date was looming and they still hadn’t sold their old boat, they decided to drop the price – and soon after that they found a buyer.

We faced the same dilemma but chose a different approach. We are having a Seawind 1370 catamaran built in 2021 and could have kept our Southerly until just before launch to ensure we not only had somewhere to live, but also could continue cruising.

However, we chose to sell early and deal with a 12-month gap where we are both homeless and boatless.

We’re now temporarily living on land in Greece where the cost of living is low, the weather is good, and we’re never far from the sea. For us, knowing we’d released the equity from our first boat and could cover the cost of our catamaran was the least stressful option.

The final piece of advice from Vicky and Stuart Punshon is: be patient.

“Don’t take an early low offer. If you’re selling a yacht that is correctly priced, it will eventually sell for a price you’ll be satisfied with.”


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Prada Cup: How to follow and schedule changes (20 Jan 2021, 8:31 am)

Finally, the America's Cup 2021 is in sight as the three challengers prepare to start racing in the Prada Cup to see who will take on the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand

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Ineos Team UK's foiling monohull Britannia II will be racing competitively for the first time in the America's Cup World Series Auckland. Photo: Facebook/IneosTeamUK

The teams are there, the boats are there, and it won’t be long before the racing starts in the Prada Cup, the official competition to select the challenger to take on Emirates Team New Zealand for the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland.

The Prada Cup, as it is now named, used to be called the Louis Vuitton Cup – or Challenger Selection Series. It will decide which of: Luna Rosa Prada Pirelli; INEOS Team UK; or American Magic will take on Emirates Team New Zealand in the 2021 America’s Cup.

What do we know?

In a normal Cup cycle we would have seen plenty of competitive racing by now and would have some idea what to expect, but with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting plans for America’s Cup World Series events in Sardinia and Portsmouth racing has been extremely limited.

However, with the first weekend of racing in the Prada Cup, now under our belts we have a much better understanding of how each of the challengers compare at this early stage.

Our first real chance to see the AC75s racing one another was the America’s Cup World Series, Auckland which took place in December 2020. This should have been followed by the Prada Christmas Cup but that too was called off – due to a lack of wind after just one lacklustre race between Emirates Team New Zealand and INEOS Team UK, which saw both teams all but drifting around the race course.

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From the racing we did see in the America’s Cup Word Series, we know that the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand look like they will be tough to beat come the America’s Cup match itself. INEOS Team UK looked to have the most work ahead of them with a very disappointing showing at ACWS Auckland.

The British team, however, have worked incredibly hard and came out of the blocks fighting and have since won all four of their opening races in the Prada Cup, signalling their intent with an impressive double win on day one.

Though the Brits have looked very strong, it is difficult to discern much difference in boat speed, with all boats seemingly performing pretty similarly across the wind range – though there have been small advantages for each in various wind speeds and directions.

The biggest news of the opening weekend of racing was the dramatic capsize, damage, and near sinking of the American challenger, American Magic.

On Monday 18th January, American Magic announced they would take no further part in the Round Robin racing for the Prada Cup with the damaged sustained by their yacht, Patriot.

How does this affect the Prada Cup?

With only three challengers taking part in the Prada Cup, the Round Robins were only designed to select the top performing challenger, who will advance straight though to the Prada Cup Final.

Second and third place in the Prada Cup Round Robin will then go into a first-to-four-wins Semi-Final with the winner going through to the Final and the loser leaving the competition. As such, with American Magic now out of the Round Robins – but hoping to repair their boat before the Semi Final begins on 29th January – they will meet either INEOS Team UK or Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in the Semi Final.

Initially the final weekend of Round Robin racing was scheduled to take place over the 22nd-24th January, but without the Americans able to take part this schedule has been scaled back.

Revised Prada Cup Round Robin schedule

The new schedule will now see racing on only two days for the final Round Robin races.:

  • Saturday 23rd of January 2021 – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli vs INEOS TEAM UK – Start at 16:00 NZT (03:00 GMT)
  • 
Sunday 24th of January 2021 – INEOS TEAM UK vs Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli – Start at 16:00 NZT (03:00 GMT)

Although American Magic have pulled out of racing, it is not quite a simple as merely awarding wins to the team they were scheduled to race against in the remaining Round Robin races. The Prada Cup organisers have released the following statement explaining how the racing will unfold over the second weekend of the Prada Cup:



In order to comply with the racing Regulations, after finishing the [rescheduled] races both competitors will have to take the start of a “ghost race” vs New York Yacht Club American Magic to allow the Regatta Director to award the point to the relevant team. The “ghost race” will then be suspended just a few minutes after the start. The rule of 25 minutes between the two starts will not apply to these “ghost races”.

Who will win the Prada Cup Round Robin?

On paper it might look as though INEOS Team UK are now the standout favourites to advance straight through to the Prada Cup Final with their four points from four races compared to Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli’s two points from four races.

However, assuming both teams can cross the startline for the ‘ghost races’ against a non-existent American Magic – a team could feasibly sustain damage in a race and thus be unable to limp over the startline for the ‘ghost race’ – then INEOS will be two points clear of Luna Rossa.

If Luna Rossa were to beat INEOS Team UK in both of their races in the final weekend of Round Robins, they would draw even with INEOS on points, which would mean a tie-break is required.

In the rules of racing for the event, in the event of a tie, the winner will be the boat which last beat the other. As such, both wins at the weekend would see Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli go through to the Prada Cup Final.

If the British team wins either of the last two races they will progress straight to the Prada Cup Final.

Finally, if the Brits win the first race of the weekend on Saturday 23rd January and thus earn automatic progression through to the Prada Cup Final organisers have stated that: In that event the two teams will have the choice whether or not to race on Sunday. 

How does the rest of the Prada Cup work?

After the initial Round Robin, the best performing challenger goes straight to the Prada Cup final, while the two remaining challengers compete in a Semi-Final with the first team to four wins advancing to the final and the second placed team becoming the first team to be knocked out of the competition.

This Semi-Final starts in the last week of January and could run into February.

The Prada Cup Match itself (the final) will be held throughout February and the first team to seven wins will go on to challenge Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand for the America’s Cup.

What is match racing?

As is tradition for America’s Cup racing as a whole, each of these races will see one team racing a single other team, or ‘match racing’ as it is known. Match Racing is a unique discipline in the sport of sailing and is explained well by INEOS Team UK sailing team member Matt ‘Catflap‘ Cornwell in the video below.

How can I watch the Prada Cup?

All of the Prada Cup races will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, NBC Sports, TVNZ, RAI, and Sky Italia, as well as on the America’s Cup YouTube channel and Facebook page.

You can also watch via the Ineos Team UK website, which will also feature daily pre-race shows, hosted by Georgie Ainslie.

There is clearly no shortage of options available, the problem for European viewers is likely to be the timezone difference, with the Prada Cup Round Robin and Semi-Final racing taking place between 0200 and 0400 GMT, while the Prada Cup itself will take place between 0300 and 0500 GMT, so if you want to watch live, you’d better set your alarm clock!

The post Prada Cup: How to follow and schedule changes appeared first on Yachting World.


South Atlantic ocean: A crossing in mid-winter on Pelagic Australis (19 Jan 2021, 1:00 pm)

When Sophie O’Neill and Chris Kobusch ended up taking on a South Atlantic crossing in mid-winter, they knew it would be a lonely, stormy journey.

There was a crunching sound underfoot as we loaded Pelagic Australis with provisions for the South Atlantic Ocean crossing ahead. Snow flurries had covered the deck with a layer of white, reminding us that we were setting out in deep winter.

Monitoring the weather closely over the past week we had tracked a train of deep depressions that were wrapped around Cape Horn and funnelling across the furthest southern boundaries of the South Atlantic ocean. A shiver of adrenaline ran through my body. 

Sophie O’Neill and Chris Kobusch made the voyage from the Falklands to Cape Town double-handed

We were days away from casting off our lines from the Falkland Islands. We’d be taking the expedition yacht Pelagic Australis across a wintry ocean, during a time of year we knew few sailing boats would venture out. Where hours of darkness would preside over light.

What’s more, it would be just the two of us on board, my partner Chris and I. For the first time ever, I had a taste of fear mixed with a rush of excitement for the unknown.

This hadn’t been the intended plan. After 11 months in the high latitudes we were supposed to fly home in April after a busy season. Covid thwarted our plans, and worldwide travel restrictions left both us and Pelagic Australis sitting tight in the Falkland Islands four months after our last Antarctic expedition. But we couldn’t leave Pelagic Australis there: moorings are few and far between, and besides, she had become a part of us. So it was time to take her home, to Cape Town, South Africa via the South Atlantic Ocean.

Three of us and the South Atlantic Ocean

We had been searching for a third crew member who’d be prepared to fly to the Falklands during this challenging time – a big ask. Yet our friend Nikki Henderson, the youngest ever Clipper Race skipper, and runner-up in the last race – offered to help with the passage. Delighted, we set about furiously putting arrangements in place to get Nikki out to join us in Port Stanley.

This was no small feat. The RAF operates the only flights into the Falklands, and our initial request to the government to bring in an additional crew member was rejected. Hurdles had to be leapt and endless forms filled in. Finally Nikki was granted permission, only for her flight to be cancelled. We immediately made arrangements for her to catch the next one a week later.

With much excitement, Nikki boarded the plane and took off. Relief swept over us all, but it was to be short-lived: whilst refuelling in Dakur, they announced that the flight was being cancelled and returning to its UK base.

Chris and I were stunned into silence but realised that we couldn’t wait any longer. We called our boss, Skip Novak, and he said: “Maybe you guys need to consider sailing Pelagic Australis back on your own?”

He followed up with his advice: “Play it safe, keep low sails, head further north, hove-to when fatigued”. So, after a long walk to discuss it with clear heads we made the call. “Skip, we’ll do it.”

South Atlantic Ocean beckons

The day before our departure on 22 July an endless stream of people came to the boat in Port Stanley to wish us farewell and a safe passage. It seems the departure of Pelagic Australis was quite an event; there are so few yachts in these regions, and the Falkland Islands so remote, that slipping out of the harbour would never have gone unnoticed.

Heavy snow at Port Stanley prior to departure

After the last well-wisher had left, Chris and I sat in the saloon looking at the latest weather and ice reports. Normally before a voyage we both spend time carrying out a thorough pre-departure brief with the crew. This time, the brief was to each other. 

It felt strange to carry the weight of knowing that we’d be solely dependent on each other, in the South Atlantic ocean where there would be very few, if any, other vessels around, and in winter conditions that could be relentless for the next four weeks.

At 75ft and 60 tons Pelagic Australis is a large and heavy boat, if all went well then we could have a good, safe crossing, but if things went wrong, with just two people alone on such a big boat, that is operated entirely manually, we knew it could be brutal out there. Tension clenched my stomach, but I didn’t share my worries with Chris. Instead, we reassured each other that Pelagic Australis is built to go places, and has weathered many great storms.

“Chris, there are three of us here, it’s you, me and Pelagic Australis too,” I reminded him. After living on board for 11 months, Pelagic Australis wasn’t just a boat to us, it was our companion. We knew it would work hard to look after us, and we would do the same in return.

Casting off from the Falklands at the break of dawn

Slipping the lines

At the break of dawn we fired up the engine and slipped lines to make our way out through the Narrows. Looking back we quietly bade our own goodbyes to Stanley, which had been our safe haven over those strange past few months. In William Sound we hoisted the mainsail. Pelagic Australis creaked and groaned as if standing tall after a long period of sitting down. I looked aloft and marvelled at its beautiful rig. Very quickly we pulled into a sprint out of William Sound, the island at 52° south disappearing behind us.

That night icy cold Southern Ocean winds built to 35 knots and the sea state grew until we were surfing at 12 knots. We reduced sail area and eased the pressure off us all: after all, it was our first night at sea and we wanted to go easy on Pelagic Australis

But the conditions set the tone for the voyage, and the noise of the wind whistling through the rig was a sound that rarely abated. 

Heavily reefed, Pelagic Australis makes steady but rolly progress in the big South Atlantic seas

For the first eight days we headed roughly north-east, to get out of the ‘Furious Fifties’ and storm through the ‘Roaring Forties’ as fast as we could.

A hidden moon cloaked us in darkness for the first week until electrical streaks of lightning appeared, illuminating every detail inside the pilothouse while our faces flashed an instantaneous white. 

The crack of thunder overhead kept the off watch person wide awake.

Prior to skippering Pelagic Australis my partner, Chris, had raced around the world as a Clipper skipper. His yacht Qingdao had been struck by lightning off Brisbane, Australia, with the damage destroying their windvane, hitting their instruments and generator starter motor, even shooting down into the depth sounder. 

He was understandably anxious that lightning should not strike twice.

Every time the lightning storms set in, he shut down the entire boat’s systems, so in between the flashes we were truly in black out mode. For the first time ever Chris confided to me: “Of all the times I’ve cast off, this is the first time I have a strange feeling in my stomach.”

I confessed I’d felt it too, and was thankful he’d shared his concerns.

Double checking position with chart against GPS

It was during this first week that our main communications system went down. We were unable to download grib files and from then on relied on text messages from the handheld satellite phone to give us an outline of any weather systems coming our way. 

Before we had always spent a great deal of time reading weather files so it was strange to not have detailed information. However, it made us much more aware of the clouds and conditions around us instead, monitoring them more closely than ever before.

One eye was always on the barometer. At one point we watched it drop from 1005mb to 994mb in four hours, going from an eerie silence to the wind whipping up to 46 knots all around us. 

I’d committed myself to bettering my knowledge of celestial navigation and so endeavoured to take sights the whole way across the South Atlantic ocean. Even if I was off watch, Chris woke me up by putting the sextant in my hand, standing by ready to take the time. It felt more real now, and with our communications systems down, should we genuinely ever need to navigate this way I enjoyed being prepared for it.

O’Neill practises taking sun sights for position in case the electronics should fail

We made our way towards the lower latitudes in the 40s, relaxing into the trip more as each day passed, despite an endless gauntlet of squalls, both day and night. The air warmed us for the first time in nearly a year, and it felt great to finally be on deck without the cumbersome gloves that we’d worn for so long. 

At 0600 one morning I awoke to the high pitched ringing of an alarm telling us the propeller shaft was overheating. Pelagic Australis has a fixed propeller and the shaft spins: in the colder water further south it stayed cool enough to not overheat. We switched on the shaft pump but not long after the alarm sounded again; the pump had failed. 

If it continued to over-heat it could damage the seal and start leaking. We put the shaft brake on, but with each great surf over a wave the boat accelerated and the shaft spun, screeching on its clamp. The sound was ear piercing and excruciating.

Wanting to continue making forward progress we brought the canvas down to the fourth reef. The reins were pulled on, and Pelagic Australis drew back to a plod of just 5 knots, rolling heavily in the big swell under this sail setting. 

We set to work to replace the pump. Thankfully Pelagic Australis has spares for everything, all methodically arranged. Ironically, as we repaired the pump conditions eased to the best of the voyage so far, and we sailed in rolling waves with a pleasant interval between them and a steady breeze. Small fluffy clouds even lined themselves before us, looking like they were forming into the north-bound trade winds. We were reluctantly, and rather painfully, slow, but at least heading in the right direction.

But we knew never to get too comfortable, things could change out there so quickly. Just as we were leaving the 40s we received a weather text: ‘Head further north now. Big low behind you. Developing’. 

More checking of chart positions against the GPS

As the sun set that evening we saw behind us that the marching clouds had dispersed and instead there stood a towering cumulus. The sea seemed to loom from astern, waves began tumbling over one another, white horses colliding. 

Without hesitation we scrambled on deck to reef. 

Two big waves knocked Pelagic Australis onto her side, one pummelled into the cockpit and rushed inside the pilothouse. This was big, the reef had to happen now. Chris and I worked silently on deck, no words uttered between us over the screaming winds. We both deeply resent shouting on boats and this manoeuvre felt almost balletic as we were lifted up by each great wave while the sails formed into their new shapes, like a dancer on stage.

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That night the winds built to 50 knots and continued into the following day. A heavy grey covering hung over us and the winds blew wild across this open expanse of water. 

The wind speeds reached 58 knots and the waves roared, with just a few seconds between them as they surged into Pelagic Australis from all sides. We bounced, pitched and rolled as they tossed us around, and I pictured us as a Japanese piece of art with a tiny boat balanced on the top of a mighty curling wave, white spindrift flying from the top. 

Up ahead a 700ft bulk carrier, the Ionic Patris, appeared on the radar, our first sighting of another vessel since we set off. As we were already sailing deep we radioed to ask if they would mind keeping clear. A voice came back: “How are you doing out there?” Those were the roughest conditions yet but knowing other seafarers were out there too brought a degree of comfort.

Pelagic Australis is built and equipped for serious expedition yachting

Reaching for home

In between the periods of stormy weather we raced along, often reaching or running before the wind with a poled out headsail, our favourite sail combination! Pelagic Australis has a stunning rig, and although it has the fuel capacity to motor great distances, the explorer yacht is happiest sailing. If you are under-canvassed, the yacht will most certainly let you know. For a number of days in the 30° latitudes we enjoyed some truly fine sailing with steady winds.

Finally, the end was in sight. Pelagic Australis had carried the two of us across the great ocean, with never a cross word said. We three had got on better than we could ever have imagined. 

But it was as we made our final approach to South Africa that we experienced the strongest blows, with 60-knot winds – thankfully without confused seas – and enjoyed our fastest surfs, hitting 17 knots some 400 miles off Cape Town!

As our last night at sea pummelled us with squalls, Pelagic Australis kept charging on. When Table Mountain rose before us the next morning we both silently stared at this new world ahead we were about to enter. The sight of land would normally appear as a safe haven but we had sheltered so far from the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, 22 days after we set off, we were moments away from stepping into the midst of it. The whole journey had been an emotional rollercoaster. 

I thought back to my 12-year-old self, when I went sailing on the sea for the first time. Having only sailed on the Norfolk Broads before, I’d looked to my coach, Paul Whiteman, for reassurance as he held the transom of my Mirror dinghy. I whispered to him: “I haven’t sailed one of these before.” His hands let go and in his steady manner he replied, “It’s just the same.”

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How to improve spinnaker trim: Pro sailor Simon Fry shares his secrets (19 Jan 2021, 8:42 am)

Professional sailor and top trimmer Simon Fry shares some downwind speed tips with Andy Rice

According to ‘Stir Fry’, as he is widely known, a good trimmer is defined by his or her obsession to make sure the boat is going as fast as possible, all the time.

“Dave Curtis, one of the greatest one-design sailors ever, once told me something that has stuck with me ever since: ‘It’s not when you’re fast that counts. It’s when you’re slow that hurts’,” he explained.

Like any great trimmer, Stir Fry feels the boat’s pain when it’s going slow. “You feel the tension in the kite sheet getting too loaded, or too light.

Simon Fry is a professional sailor with a vast wealth of experience. Photo: Martinez Studio

“But it’s more than that; it’s the hairs on the back of your neck, it’s the heel of the boat, it’s the changing pressure in your bum cheeks as the boat moves underneath you. And it’s why I only like to wear shorts.”

Maybe the hairs on his legs have become attuned to the breeze, but Stir Fry is adamant that his knees have to be exposed to the elements to get the best out of his kite-trimming abilities!

But if you’re not prepared to shed your oilskins in the dead of winter, here are five more of Stir Fry’s top tips for trimming your spinnaker.

Be a forward helmsman

Every good helmsman knows that the less you rely on the rudder for changing course, the faster you’ll go. That’s why the relationship between the helmsman and spinnaker trimmer needs to be telepathic. You’re controlling the biggest, most powerful sail on the rig, and how you trim the spinnaker or gennaker has a massive effect on steering the boat.

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So think of yourself as the forward helmsman, working in unison with the person at the back controlling the rudder, the aft helmsman. I’ve been fortunate to sail with a number of top-flight helmsmen and just ‘click’ with them.

With Guillermo Parada on the TP52 Azzurra, we don’t actually talk the same language in real life, but when it comes to knowing what the boat needs, we just seem to understand each other.

Less spinnaker curl is more

Remember when you were first learning to ride a bike? You’d steer one way, but then you’d have to steer hard the other way to compensate. Eventually, you learn to tone down those massive over-adjustments until you can steer in a straight line.

You see that pendulum swing of overcompensation in the way less experienced sailors curl the kite. Very often, less is more. If you’re nervous, I guarantee you’ll move the sheet more. So focus on reducing that overcompensation and achieving greater consistency on the curl.

downwind-sails-X44-OneSails-asymmetric-credit-Francesco-Ferri

An X44 flying a OneSails asymmetric spinnaker. Photo: Francesco Ferri

Change gear

Knowing when to change gear is a critical part of trimming. Say you’ve got the choice of a VMG spinnaker or a runner. The VMG spinnaker is probably a little flatter, made of lighter fabric, and its job is to be the right sail when the pole is not squared all the way back. It’s likely a little smaller because it has a narrower apparent wind angle.

It’s designed for sailing in the lighter breeze and you should do your due diligence before you get on the boat and work out what the crossovers are. But a good general rule of thumb is, when you bear away around the windward mark, the VMG is going to be the right choice provided the pole is not too far off the forestay.

But as soon as you find yourself squaring the pole back, the bigger sail is going to be faster because now the sail is in drag rather than flow, at which point it’s all about maximum projected area.

Remember that your sail is always working in unison with the mainsail and you’re looking to match the two together, to create a unified sail plan. For example, easing or tightening the vang will have an effect not just on the leech profile of the mainsail, it will affect the interaction between the flow exiting the spinnaker leech and the flow on the leeward side of the mainsail.

Free the kite

Downwind in a strong breeze it can be very tempting to over square the pole, to feel like you’ll stabilise the boat if you really strap the foot of the spinnaker into the jib.

Remember your job as the ‘forward helmsman’. Rather than squaring back the pole too far, let the chute fly away from the boat a bit more and free up the sail plan, otherwise the helmsman will be constantly fighting the boat. Having a freer set-up will also provide more lift and make the boat less prone to nosedive.

Variety improves

Downwind in a strong breeze it can be very tempting to over square the pole, to feel like you’ll stabilise the boat if you really strap the foot of the spinnaker into the jib.

Remember your job as the ‘forward helmsman’. Rather than squaring back the pole too far, let the chute fly away from the boat a bit more and free up the sail plan, otherwise the helmsman will be constantly fighting the boat. Having a freer set-up will also provide more lift and make the boat less prone to nosedive.

This article first appeared in the January 2021 issue of Yachting World.


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American Magic capsize and damage: What went wrong? (18 Jan 2021, 10:45 am)

We hear from American Magic Skipper, Terry Hutchinson about what caused the American Magic capsize and near sinking, how long before they can be racing again and round up the rest of the action from the first weekend of the Prada Cup

Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

It is hard to believe that just over four days ago, the conversation for those following the build up to the America’s Cup was all about INEOS Team UK struggling with an uncompetitive boat, American Magic looking the strongest challenger, and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli having a lightwind package. How the tables have turned now that the first weekend of racing in the Prada Cup has concluded in dramatic style with the American Magic capsize

Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

American Magic update 

The biggest news of the weekend was that of the New York Yacht Club’s American Magic, steered by Kiwi, Dean Barker, which dramatically capsized in the final race of the weekend, took damage and began to sink with what appeared to be alarming speed. 

The boat was eventually saved with the help of the three other America’s Cup teams, along with America’s Cup Event Ltd, the race management team, Coastguard New Zealand, the Auckland Harbourmaster, and local fire and police personnel.

It is hard to say that Sunday’s events could be seen to have many winners, but if there was one, it was the sport of sailing showing the world what good sportsmanship looks like in the face of extreme adversity.

The American boat, Patriot, was finally pulled out of the water at around midnight local time after a herculean effort to first secure the hull and then tow her back the 10 or so miles to the team’s base. 

Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

Once the boat had been hauled from the water, the extent of the damage was quickly clear with a huge hole sitting between bow and foil arm on her port side.   

In a press conference on Monday 18th January, American Magic Skipper, Terry Hutchinson explained just what the team face in order to get the boat back onto the water: “We have a high level of resolve and I think what we will see over the next 8-10 days is the boat will be rebuilt. She might not come out of the shed as pretty, but she is going to come out of the shed and we are going racing.” 

This is good news indeed as there were times on Sunday it looked as though the boat might never sail again. However, the timeline for the repair will have serious ramifications. 

Hutchinson quotes 8-10 days for the repair, but Round Robin sailing in the Prada Cup is set to continue in just four days time on the 22nd January. Clearly, then, it seems the team will not be able to continue. 

American Magic’s Terry Hutchinson faces the press

All is not lost, however. With only three teams competing in the event, the Round Robins only select the winning team to go straight to the final of the Prada Cup, with the second and third placed boats going into a first-to-four-wins Semi-Final, which is scheduled to begin on the 29th January – or in 11 days time. 

The timeline looks tight for certain and there is a lot to get done. “It will be a big effort to get the boat sailing for the Semis,” Hutchinson explained. “We’ve had great support from the local Auckland community and the other teams. 

“The easiest part is the rebuild [of the broken hull]. The hardest part will be getting the electronics and FCS [foil cant system] up to speed. The yachts are finicky. Yesterday was day 45 for Patriot and she has been very reliable, but if you have worries it will be dealing with the gremlins inside the boat.”

There is sure to be more than we currently know to repair but at the moment the list looks daunting enough as it is. 

American Magic have already done a full ultrasound of the boat to see what levels of structural integrity they have managed to maintain. They will need to cut out any area of the boat that has seen delamination, repair the carbon skin, and repair the internal structure. 

Alongside this, the entire electronics system will need to be stripped out and replaced – itself no mean feat, these boats rely entirely on vast amounts of proprietary electronics –, the FCS is no longer usable, so the team will need to strip that out of their old AC75, Defiant, and fit it to Patriot. And that is just what we know from an initial assessment by the team. 

How did American Magic capsize?

There has been a vast amount of speculation as to what happened to American Magic to cause the capsize and the damage that nearly saw her sink to the sea floor. Hutchinson, in his press conference, walked through exactly what they think went wrong.

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“The foil arm dug in and the boat decelerated,” he explained. “We were doing a tack and bear away [around the windward gate mark] and 40 seconds before we tacked it was blowing 12.5 knots. When we tacked it was blowing 23.5 knots.”

“When you look at the wind graph, the time from 18 knots to 23 knots is about three seconds. 

“You have to race these boats hard, it is very unforgiving and you have to go hard, there is as much or more risk if you take your foot off the gas.”

Initially looking at the replay of the incident, it looks as though the leeward runner is not released, which seems to pin the mainsail in, and looks for all the world the cause of the capsize. But Hutchinson feels this is not the case. 

“We were looking at the [runner] about 15 minutes ago and you can see that it is a bit fetched up in the mid-stripe. But there’s a couple of things that happen when you go step-by-step through the manoeuvre. 

“When we come out of the tack, the traveller is all the way down the bottom of the track [to depower the boat in the high winds] with hindsight that is the first indication that something is going to go wrong. 

“Because the traveller is all the way down, the [runner] is eased, but the next thing that happens is that the mainsheet gets eased and that loads into the leeward runner. 

“Everything is set at a setting on the boat that has a certain amount of length to it. So when everything is eased, the boat doesn’t usually sail like that. I still need to check the data to see if the runner was at max ease, but I don’t think that is the thing that caused the problem,” he explained of the circumstances leading to the capsize.  

How did the damage occur to American Magic?  

On exactly how the boat took its damage, the answer seems to be much clearer. “When you look at the boatspeed through the trajectory of the turn, it’s going 47 knots or something,” says Hutchinson.

“When you look at it in slow-mo the boat gets a long way out of the water and we have a reasonable amount of bow up and then the boat slammed down… There’s transverse structure inside the boat and longitudinal structure, it is fine if it slams flat on its keel but when you land on the side on a flat panel, the structure inside just guillotines the panel.”

Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

There will, no doubt, be a lot more to come from the American team as they continue to attempt to repair their boat in time for the Prada Cup Semi-Final.

However, with the boat scheduled to be relaunched just days before the racing, and a best-to-four series against a challenger who will spend the coming weeks improving, chances of getting further than the Semi-Final now seem slim. But sometimes, a slim chance is all you need…  

INEOS Team UK now favourites 

With American Magic now out of the Prada Cup Round Robin series, INEOS Team UK  must surely be favourite to win and go straight through to the Prada Cup Final. 

The British team had a stunning first day of racing, beating both American Magic and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli. They then won a light wind race against American Magic on Sunday (conditions thought to be their achilles heel), before beating Luna Rossa once more in their windy and shifty race on Sunday. 

As such, the team now top the scoreboard with four points from four races. The schedule has the Brits racing American Magic a further two times (both ‘wins’ will go to the Brits without the American team sailing). This will give them a total of six points. They are also due to race Luna Rossa another two times. 

Luna Rossa currently sit on two wins from four races. They too are scheduled to race American Magic twice, so those ‘wins’ will put them on four points.

This means that in the remaining two races, if INEOS win a single race, they go straight through to the final. But, the rules state that should two teams be tied at the end of the series, the team that last beat the other will go to the final. 

Ultimately should Luna Rossa win the first race against INEOS then it will all come down to a final match race to decide the winner. 

Competitive across the board

A fascinating part of this America’s Cup cycle is the variation we have seen in sails, foils and hull shapes. But now we are into the thick of the racing it seems all three challengers are relatively evenly matched. At times one is slightly quicker or slower in a certain wind strength or direction, but it has broadly come down to the sailing. 

Though the Brits look very good with a 4-0 record, this has largely come from smart sailing by the whole team. In particular, the Brits benefit from having given Giles Scott a dedicated tactician role where this role is split between the two helmsmen on Luna Rossa, and is taken by Terry Hutchinson who is also working a grinding pedestal on American Magic. 

With such tight margins and someone who knows how to come from behind in Jimmy Spithill, Luna Rossa will be well up for the fight for the remainder of the round robins. The Brits might well be leading the series, and they might well be favourites for now but this is still very much all to play for. 


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American Magic capsize in the Prada Cup day three (17 Jan 2021, 9:41 am)

High drama in the Prada Cup day three as American Magic capsize and look to have caused some serious damage to their AC75

It was the sort of day where you felt like something might go wrong at any moment on the Waitematā Harbour in Auckland as the three challengers prepared for racing in the Prada Cup day three – the precursor to the America’s Cup.

And go wrong it did for American Magic, skippered by New Zealander, Dean Barker as they capsized and look to have done some serious damage to their AC75, though all crew are confirmed safe. The situation is still very much live as the team fight to save their boat.

UPDATE Monday 18th January 2021: American Magic did manage to return their boat to the dock without it sinking, but with significant damage. See here for Skipper Terry Hutchinson’s analysis of what went wrong, how the damage was caused and how long it will take to repair.  

Throughout the course of the day the wind was up, there were big waves, and dark ominous rain clouds were passing over the course bringing significant shifts and pressure increases along with them.

As commentator Nathan Outteridge, who seems to have a savant-like ability to predict what the Cup teams will do even before they have decided themselves, observed before racing: “They’re out there in the roughest part of the harbour today. I’m a little shocked that we’re out here [on this race course]. I don’t think many of these teams were thinking they’d have to sail in these kind of conditions in these kinds of waves).

“It’s going to be a good test for the structure of these boats isn’t it?”

In the second race of the day, American Magic was leading Luna Rossa Pirelli Prada into the final upwind gate in a significant wind increase on the front of yet another cloud. The Americans were approaching the gate on port and wanted to go to the left hand side of the course (looking upwind) to remain in the increased pressure.

This would require a tack at the mark immediately followed by a big bear away to head downwind. This is a tricky manoeuvre to pull off at the best of times. It was clear as they approached the mark that the team were tense with clipped comms and raised voices onboard. During the approach the mainsail trimmer (Brit, Paul Goodison) can clearly be heard saying this is going to be a ‘a hard manoeuvre, a real hard manoeuvre’.

They made it through the tack but with the wind up, as they tired to bear away, the boat immediately became massively overpowered and began to heel to leeward. It also appears that the leeward runner did not release.

These AC75s are unique monohulls in that they have no keel, just the two large foils on either side of the boat. They are designed to be sailed flat or with very moderate amounts of heel to windward or leeward. Once the AC75s end up with any significant heel, the lift dynamics of the foils change rapidly and they become almost impossible to keep upright. And so we saw today as the American boat heeled over, the foil lift changed and the bow was launched into the sky. From there, there is little to no hope of saving the boat from a capsize.

Photo: Luna Rossa Pirelli Prada

This is something we have seen before from a number of boats and, in fact, American Magic nearly did exactly the same thing on their first day on the water in this, their second, AC75. All crew were quickly confirmed safe.

Initially we were told that the AC75 would be able to self right in the event of a capsize, by dropping the heavy windward foil while the boat is on her side. However, there has been no evidence that this is possible and we have yet to see one of the boats right without the help of a powerboat. To that end it was no surprise that the American Magic support boat was quickly on the scene to help out with the race effectively over and the win going to Luna Rossa.

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However, it took a great deal of time to right the boat and it quickly became clear that something was wrong. As more support vessels, both from the organisers and other teams came over to help, American Magic was eventually righted. But she was sitting incredibly low, having clearly taken on significant amounts of water.

More worrying still, she seemed to be getting lower with the bow soon fully submerged. It briefly looked as though the whole boat may be lost. As help rallied round from the other teams’ support crews, some of the racing marks were also brought alongside in order to try to keep the boat afloat and the fire department turned up with industrial pumps to try to clear the water from within the hull. Divers were sent down too, in order to identify the problem and potentially find some way to staunch the flow of water.

As we write this, the boat is under tow on its way back to the dock dock, but they were still at sea at 11pm Auckland local time, the recovery mission far from over.

Even if the American Boat is able to get back to dock there are a whole host of concerns. What – and how significant – is the structural damage that is allowing the boat to take on water. What condition are the electrics and the hydraulics in, which control almost every aspect of an AC75? These are questions for another day, at the moment the fight to get the boat back home is still very much live.

The only slight sliver of positive news for the Americans is that further Prada Cup racing will not take place until next weekend, so there is at least some time to repair what needs to be repaired, but it is a small chink of light in an otherwise grey day for the team.

American Magic have released the following statement:

The team’s AC75 racing yacht, PATRIOT, was damaged during the incident and began taking on water. American Magic received rapid assistance from the three other America’s Cup teams, along with America’s Cup Event Ltd, the race management team, Coastguard New Zealand, the Auckland Harbormaster, and local fire and police personnel.

Efforts to stabilize PATRIOT and get the yacht back to shore are currently underway. American Magic is sincerely thankful for all of the assistance rendered to the team following today’s incident.

Brits unbeaten

With all the capsize action it is easy to forget that we did see some racing today. The first race of the day was set to be Luna Rossa Pirelli Prada against INEOS Team UK.

The race itself had to be abandoned at the first time of asking as a huge rain cloud descended on the course, shifting the wind 90 degrees and making the course essentially unsailable.

The race committee did a great job to get the race underway again shortly thereafter and the twin helms of Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni on Luna Rossa managed to beat the Brits in the start and lead for the opening portion of the race.

However, the more traditional tactician / helmsman role that the Brits have opted for with Giles Scott the former and Ben Ainslie the later once again came into its own. The Brits did a superb job of picking up the shifts and puffs, to overtake and pull away from the Italian team.

This fourth win in a row leaves INEOS Team UK in the lead of the Prada Cup after the first weekend of racing, and the only team not to have conceded a race so far. But, such is the drama from the American camp, the racing itself will not be the story of the day.

Here’s hoping American Magic can get their boat home and sorted in time for next week. they looked quick today and were romping away from Luna Rossa before their capsize.


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Yachting World is the world’s leading magazine for bluewater cruisers and offshore sailors. Every month we have inspirational adventures and practical features to help you realise your sailing dreams.
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Prada Cup day one: Surprise as Brits take both wins (15 Jan 2021, 7:28 am)

INEOS Team UK goes from zero to hero as Ben Ainslie and his team take victory in both opening races of the Prada Cup, day one.

What a difference three and a half weeks make! INEOS Team UK have gone from being a team that were borderline embarrassingly slow in the America’s Cup World Series in December 2020 to a team that looked unstoppable, winning both races of the Prada Cup day one in Auckland.

The racing for the Prada Cup, which will eventually select the challenger for the America’s Cup itself, starts with a round robin series with each of the three challengers racing each other on four occasions.

Today, Friday 15th January 2021, saw the opening two races as INEOS Team UK took on American Magic in Race One and Luna Rossa Pirelli Prada in Race Two, both sailed in medium conditions with around 15-17 knots at the windiest, top end of the course.

How has INEOS Team UK improved?

The big question on everyone’s lips will be how has this team managed to go from zero to hero in such a short space of time? This being the America’s Cup there will be those that wonder if they were deliberately sailing slowly in previous events to throw other teams off the scent. But the answer is likely much more mundane.

It is no secret that the Brits have spent a lot of time and energy developing their AC75 in recent weeks, with their base in Auckland regularly seen with the lights on throughout the night as the shore team desperately made modifications to their boat.

The two wins, then, are as much down to the hours put in ashore as they are to the sailors onboard. Ainslie was quick to acknowledge this fact. “That race was for the rest of the team back at the dock, our shore team, our engineers and for our friends at Mercedes GP who have all worked hard to turn these things around,” the five-time Olympic medallist said at the end of Race One, repeating the dedication after their second win of the day. 

In Thursday’s press conference, Ainslie made no secret of the extent of the surgery that had been performed on their AC75 to get it to this stage: “The team has been working flat out since the World Series and we think we have improved a lot from where we were,” he said.

C GREGORY

“We have brought a lot of new parts online including a new rudder, new rudder elevator, new mast, new mainsail, and new headsails. Then alongside that we have made modifications to our foils, to the aero package on our hull and we have changed the systems inside the hull. We knew our development from the World Series would have to be significant and we have certainly been busy.”

However, hidden within this good news are some warnings for the future. These races were conducted in much stronger winds than we saw in the America’s Cup World Series.

Ainslie was keen to stress at all opportunities that they were quick in these conditions, but said they still have a lot of work to do in the lighter wind range. The wind should get ever lighter as the event progresses through the rounds of the Prada Cup and on into the America’s Cup itself.

Prada Cup: Race One

The course today was heavily favoured to the right hand side with much stronger winds all day making it the clear favourite option.

In race 1 INEOS Team UK and American Magic did not engage much. Both boats ended up in a drag race to the line, with INEOS getting the windward position and perhaps a couple of meters ahead of American Magic, steered by Dean Barker.

From this position the Brits were able to tack early to the right while Barker and his team went all the way to the boundary. By the time the two boats converged again INEOS had stretched out a decent lead, and proceeded to keep heading back to the right, protecting the favoured side.

Photo: Sailing Energy / American Magic

INEOS Tactician Giles Scott and Ainslie made solid calls all day to protect their favoured side and sailed a tactically flawless race to increase their lead at all mark roundings to eventually win by 1 minute 20 seconds.

American Magic, once forced to the unfavoured left, struggled to find any chink in the Brits armour with every split they made to the left losing them ground, but short of following the Brits round the course there were few other options for them.

“We were looking for a couple of opportunities, there are a couple of areas we could have got a couple of opportunities, but INEOS sailed well and shut down all the options,” confirmed American Magic helmsman, Dean Barker at the end of the race.  

“Nothing changes for tomorrow, we’ll look back at the key moments and try to understand how we might have executed better. There are a couple of key areas that ended up being the difference, but in these boats, you just can’t give anyone else any advantage,” Barker concluded. 

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Prada Cup: Race Two

With the first race confirming the clear favourite side of the course, the start sequence for the second race looked set for a battle royale between Ainslie and Jimmy Spithill (who sailed together to win the 2013 America’s Cup).

Luna Rossa Pirelli Prada has a slightly different setup to the other teams in this America’s Cup with Spithill helming when the boat is on starboard and Francesco Bruni when on port. As such the start is largely Spithill’s domain (rightly so as the Australian is known as ‘The Pitbull’ for his starting prowess and aggression).

Photo: Luna Rossa Pirelli Prada

With Luna Rossa approaching the startline on starboard, INEOS tacked dead in front of them and it briefly looked like the Italian boat might be able to get underneath the Brits, luff them and force them off their foils, but they never quite made it and with both boats now late for the start, the Brits were able to lead back to the start, tack and cross the line on port, leading out to the favoured right hand side.

We were on time to the start and we thought we might have a shot at a hook, but then we had a big left shift,” explained Spithill of the start. “So we went from killing time, to racing, to being late and then they gave no opportunities to get past.”

This is as succinct a report of the race as it is possible to give. Once again the Brits perfectly protected the right, with Scott and Ainslie getting their tactics spot on. For their part, Luna Rossa managed to do a better job than the Americans had at staying in contention by finding space in behind the Brits on the right, but it was ultimately to no avail.

Having remained close for much of the race, they were eventually forced out to the left in the final lap in the hopes of finding some way past but this simply served to drop them from 13 seconds back at the final gate to 28 seconds behind at the finish.

Photo: Luna Rossa Pirelli Prada

More to come

There will be another two races on Saturday 16th January and then two more on Sunday 17th.

Saturday will see American Magic taking on Luna Rossa Pirelli Prada in the opening race and INEOS Team UK in the second.

Sunday’s racing will see Luna Rossa Pirelli Prada face the Brits in the opener and the Americans in the second.

Photo: C GREGORY

The forecast is for slightly lighter wind for Saturday, so we should start to get a clear idea of who’s fast in which conditions. Luna Rossa in particular are said to be quick in the lower wind range, so it will be interesting to see if Spithill and Bruni can make the most of any advantage.

As for the Americans, they have been spoken about as the strongest challenger in some circles for many months. They will have an opportunity on Saturday to get two wins on the board and Barker will be fired up to come back from today’s loss.

This is a long way from over…


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Yachting World is the world’s leading magazine for bluewater cruisers and offshore sailors. Every month we have inspirational adventures and practical features to help you realise your sailing dreams.
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Vendée Globe rollercoaster for Pip Hare as she makes mid-ocean rudder repairs (14 Jan 2021, 10:28 am)

Pip Hare has won many fans during the Vendée Globe for her determination, resilience, and brilliant communication. Her last week of Southern Ocean sailing had one final, enormous test - we share her story

pip-hare-vendee-globe-rudder-repair-credit-medallia
Photo: Pip Hare / Medallia

The Southern Ocean is renowned for its relentlessness. By the time they reach the final stages of the South Pacific, the Vendée Globe solo sailors have been at sea for two months and covered some 18,000 miles. Both boats and skippers are tired, and the cracks are – quite literally – starting to show.

After a tough start to the year, during which Pip Hare experienced wind instrument issues on Medallia and had to constantly monitor and update her autopilot, the leading British skipper in the 2020/21 Vendée Globe exhausted.

The final straw seemed to be when Pip discovered a large crack in the port rudder stock of Medallia, potentially ending her race. But Pip, remarkably, managed to swap her rudder for a spare, mid-ocean, and resume racing. In an inspiring extract from her blog, here’s her account of a memorable week:

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January 6

I said these last days in the Southern Ocean would be challenging and so far the experience has been incredibly intense. It’s a full-on experience that has every part of me working hard. There is no respite and Cape Horn doesn’t seem to be getting any closer with each new routing that I plot.

Right now it is just starting to get dark, this is the only definition in the sky today. The daylight hours have been of uniform grey for the full 18 hours of daytime. This heavy oppressive sky adds to the atmosphere of menace that has been hanging over this part of the Southern Ocean for the last couple of days.

It is a deeply unsettling place to be right now, there is not one sign of comfort or good times. Every feeling I have with every sense in my body tells me to be alert, this is not a place to relax.

Medallia racing in the Vendée Globe on December 17, 2020. Photo: Pip Hare

The sky is grey, with swathes of black clouds, the sea is almost black as well, save for the white crests and the foaming spume that streaks from the top of the waves. There are still albatross circling the boat but even they seem to have lost their colour.

I think it’s blowing 40 knots. It’s hard to tell but I would be surprised if it was less. The seas are still building but I think the waves are around 6m at the moment, though I am surprised by how short the wave length is, I was expecting longer. When Medallia picks up one of these waves we head off surfing at 22 knots and all I can feel is raw power. These surfs are driven by the ocean, not by me. The noise is a deep rumble and the vibrations come straight through the hull, into my bones. I am feeling every part of this.

Medallia is hard work in these conditions especially without the wind information. To check the sails, and do any trimming requires a trip on deck out into the elements. I am trying to do this every couple of hours at least. The main concern is that my course is downwind VMG so I need to steer Medallia as far downwind as the sail plan will let me.

Christmas Day aboard Medallia. Photo: Pip Hare

This means that I can’t really sleep for long at all as the pilot is steering on compass mode and if there is a slight shift in the wind Medallia could crash gybe. I have the pilot remote in my hand permanently and am making small course alterations depending on what apparent wind angle I can see on the instruments below and what the mainsail looks like through the window in the coach roof.

I am managing with 10 minute dozes, walking just the right side of my red line, very focussed on just keeping it all together to get through this bit of breeze.

I can’t say that sailing at the moment is fun. It’s hugely demanding, it’s stressful and I am asking a lot of myself both mentally and physically. Do I wish I wasn’t here? Well that is a difficult question. I don’t think anyone would say that this kind of sailing is something you enjoy, but it in the context of being on an IMOCA in week nine of the Vendée Globe Race and with 1400 miles to go to Cape Horn then I am exactly where I want to be. But I cannot wait for this particular weather system to be over and I would really like to see the sun again at some point.

7 January

Yesterday lunchtime, while doing my routine checks onboard Medallia I discovered that my port rudder stock is cracked and so I have had to suspend racing.

The crack is in the stock between the deck and the hull, just underneath where the quadrant attaches and every time the pilot was going to move the rudder the crack was getting a little bit worse. I have no choice but to change the port rudder.

If I continue sailing hard the stock will fail under load in a matter of hours. Naturally I am completely devastated about this failure and what it means to my race but the only thing to do right now is to put the racing on hold and focus on solving this problem to keep both me and Medallia safe.

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Photo: Pip Hare / Medallia

I have been lucky. I noticed the failure while I was on a port tack, so the rudder was not the one under load, which immediately allowed me to disconnect all of the steering linkage, but keep control of the boat with the starboard rudder. This has prevented any further damage to either the stock or the steering gear.

I am also lucky that I spotted this damage as I was due to gybe back onto starboard and sail hard in 30 knots of wind in the next three hours and it is certain that the rudder stock would have failed at that point, with the boat under full sail and fully loaded up. I have a spare rudder onboard and so we can fix this problem.

My main objective now is to find suitable conditions to make the switch. This is challenging in this location as the sea state needs to be relatively calm.

Naturally I am devastated. But I am also accepting. This has happened and it cannot be changed. I had a few tears but not many because this problem is a big one and there is only one way to deal with it – which is a total focus of energy on solving it and staying safe.

8 January

Every part of my body aches. I have bloody knuckles on every finger, bruises all down my legs and muscles I didn’t know I had that hurt but YES!!!!! The new rudder is in and Medallia is back in the game.

Alan Roura had to replace a rudder on this boat, in a fairly similar place, when he was racing it as La Fabrique in the 2016 Vendée Globe. I talked to Alan about this story and it always amazed me that he was actually able to change a rudder in the Southern Ocean, I couldn’t imagine how hard it must have been.

On the strength of his story I had a spare rudder built for my race and Joff and I practiced the procedure for changing the rudders over just two weeks before the start in Le Sables D’Olonnes. But there was doubt in my mind as to whether I would be able to do it.

Yesterday I was scared and apprehensive. The conditions were far from ideal, a big swell and a forecast for a light patch between gales. I talked through the procedure with Joff, the main concern was slowing the boat down enough to get the rudder in and then the boat landing on the rudder stock and doing damage to either. Eventually, with a drogue out of the back and under bare poles in 16-18 knots of breeze, I went for it.

I think the whole procedure took about an hour and a half with many hours of preparation and packing up before and after. My heart was in my mouth for the whole time. I ran around the cockpit, winding winches, pulling ropes, sliding over to the back of the boat to grab, yank, manhandle rudder ropes and anchor chain.

Once I was committed to doing it there was nothing that was going to get in my way. There were some tough moments and I had to plead with my boat and the ocean a couple of times but when that new rudder stock finally came shooting up through the deck level bearing, the out-loud whooping that came from me could easily have been heard for miles around…if anyone had been there to hear it.

I’m now back in the game, the breeze has filled in and Medallia is humming along at 15 knots, and I can’t quite believe that I did that.

I have always said one of the things that attracts me to solo sailing as a sport is that it allows me to become the best version of myself. When alone in the middle of an ocean there is no easy option. You must face every problem head on and find the solution from within. This race challenges every aspect of what it means to be a human being; on every level we are forced to perform and do extraordinary things..

Now can I please have a pass out of the Southern Ocean? I think I am done here now.

12 January

Finally it’s done. I have rounded Cape Horn. I had the full experience; close enough inshore for photos and spoke to the lighthouse keeper and his wife. But then I was crawling past the island at about 4 knots so I had time to be a tourist.

Yesterday was one of those Vendée tests. It was a day that ground me down from the very start, a day that started full of promise as the day I would pass Cape Horn, but then quickly descended into something just short of despair at its worst.

The breeze was difficult all day, the sky full of squalls and lulls. I just didn’t have the boat speed to stay in the more consistent breeze and so slowly fell back into the weaker breeze, which in itself was enough to frustrate. But I was battling with bigger issues as well, in the form of a leak from the rudder bearing on the side that I changed, which yesterday rapidly worsened and at its peak saw me in the back of the boat every hour bailing out over 40 litres of water that was washing from side to side.

We think that one of the seals in the bearing may have dropped out when I changed the rudder and so the water is able to come into the back of the boat. All day I have been in and out with a bucket, trying to work out whether the leak was stable or getting worse.

Photo: Pip Hare / Medallia

Just to cap it all off, on one of my expeditions I forgot the remote control for the pilot and a squall came up behind us. We took off fast and I could immediately feel that the wind was shifting as we started to roll to windward. I scrambled to get out of the back but it’s a hard job, crawling through a whole in a bulkhead that is bisected by one of the tiller bars.

I was too late. Medallia crash gybed (my first of the race) as the pilot in compass mode is not able to react to the squall. I was thrown across the back of the boat and then had to climb out of the hatch into the cockpit with the boat pinned on it’s side, mainsail against the backstay, code zero flapping and wrapped around the forestay.

It took me two hours to sort the mess out. Luckily nothing was damaged and I was able to get the zero down relatively easily. In the time it took me to get the boat back on its feet and driving again the back compartment was once again full of water. It’s like someone is repeatedly knocking you over. Every time you stand up another blow comes.

But there is only one way out and that is forwards with positive energy, facing one problem at a time. I have been sailing Medallia fairly conservatively, to keep the pressure off the rudder and make my life easier as I carry out repairs. Then after consultation with Joff and a lot of bailing out I have created a taller and more robust temporary boot to go around the rudder and stop the water from getting into the back of the boat. When conditions allow I will laminate a more permanent solution in place.

Sailing close to Cape Horn after this terrible day was just the tonic I needed. It made me smile despite my exhaustion and disappointment, it reminded me of just what I have achieved so far in this race and the possibilities of everything that has to come. It was incredible to see it up close and I will remember that vision for the rest of my days. For me I think the Capes are named the wrong way round, because this one definitely brought me hope.

For more Vendée Globe updates like this, read Pip’s blog at: piphare.com/blog or follow Pip on Instagram and Facebook.

The post Vendée Globe rollercoaster for Pip Hare as she makes mid-ocean rudder repairs appeared first on Yachting World.


Vendée Globe 2020 contenders: Who will win the world’s toughest sailing race? (14 Jan 2021, 9:16 am)

We pick out some of the skippers worth following closely in this year’s Vendée Globe, the world’s toughest sailing race

Not for nothing is the Vendée Globe referred to by many as the toughest race in the world. The singlehanded, non stop, solo race around the globe regularly sees fewer than half the 30 or so boats, which set out every four years to compete for the title, finish.

Anyone who has taken part in the race will tell you that merely getting across the finish line is achievement in itself. The 2020/2021 edition of the race has been no different with many of the front runners dropping out due to breakages and/or gear problems.

But who are the sailors still at the front of the field and which of them has the skill and determination to take cross the finish line first in the Vendée Globe 2020/21?

Extremely close at the front

Sometimes the Vendée Globe can be more-or-less sewn up as the leader re-enters the tricky northerly passage through the Atlantic. And sometimes things can be very tight. This edition of the race have seen extremely light weather for the leading boats off the coast of southern Brazil, which has allowed those behind to catch up.

As such, as the racers enter the final stretch of the round the world epic there are many names in with a chance of winning. The top six boats are all within 100 miles of one another. Any sailor would tell you that any one of them may win.

As things stand the top six are: Charlie Dalin – Apivia; Louis Burton – Bureau Vallée 2; Thomas Ruyant – LinkedOut; Yannick Bestaven – Maître CoQ; Damien Seguin Groupe Apicil; Boris Herrmann – Sea Explorer – Yacht Club de Monaco.

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Photo: Vincent Curutchet

Charlie Dalin

Age: 36
Boat: Apivia
Launched: 2019

A rookie in this race, but a well-fancied one, Dalin has a new Verdier design which proved an even match for Charal during the Arctic Race, where Dalin was second.

A naval architect by trade, Dalin’s IMOCA is more radical than Ruyant’s, with an almost entirely enclosed cockpit, and was built with the expertise of François Gabart’s MerConcept project management team.

With a reputation for being both talented and meticulous, Dalin is well-equipped particularly in close racing, having a solid track record of podium places in the hyper-competitive Figaro.

Though Dalin is a rookie he has acquitted himself extremely well in this edition of the Vendée, leading for signification portions of the event. However, he has not escaped damage either as he took damage to his port foil in December 2020 while leading the race and dropped back for a time, but remained in and around the top three. Recently Dalin has official retaken the lead as he, Thomas Ruyant and Louis Burton clawed back many miles on the leader Yannick Bestaven. These four are locked in a four-way battle for the lead at present and any one of them could come out on top.

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Photo: Vincent Curutchet

Louis Burton

Age: 35
Boat: Bureau Vallée 2
Launched: 2015

Louis Burton is following a textbook pathway going into his third Vendée Globe. Having completed the 2016 race on one of the older and heaviest boats in the fleet, which he sailed to an impressive 7th, this time he has acquired the former Banque Populaire VIII, the foiling winner of the last race.

Burton has been having a good race and was consistently near the front of the field. However, persistent problems with his autopilot caused him issues in the later stages of the Southern Ocean and resulted, ultimately in a wipeout gybe which caused damage to his headsails and mainsail track.

He managed to find shelter in the lee of the tiny, remote Macquarie Island in the Southwestern Pacific to effect repairs. These went well and Burton has been on something of a charge ever since. From looking like he might struggle to make the top ten while repairing his damage, Burton now looks to be a real contender for the Vendée Globe win.

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Photo: Vincent Curutchet

Thomas Ruyant

Age: 39
Boat: LinkedOut
Launched: 2019

Ruyant is an experienced ocean racer with a new, fast boat, and as such was a clear podium contender from before the start. Having retired from the last Vendée Globe after his boat began breaking up near New Zealand, Ruyant commissioned a brand new Verdier design before he had sponsorship secured.

The gamble paid off, and he now has a fully funded campaign and promising new foiler: LinkedOut. He took the early lead in the Vendée-Arctic Race, before finishing a close third to Charal and Apivia.

Ruyant has delivered on his early promise and made impressive progress throughout the Vendée, maintaining a top three position for much of the race to date. However, he did suffer a collision with something underwater in the south Atlantic and had some severe foil damage as a result.

In a situation reminiscent of Alex Thomson in the previous edition of the Vendée, Ruyant was forced to cut away much of his Port foil and has continued on without it. He has been making decent progress even with his now compromised boat and continues to challenge for the lead as the fleet enter the final stages of the event.

Yannick Bestaven

Photo: Vincent Curutchet

Age: 48
Boat: Maître CoQ
Launched: 2015

After an aborted attempt at the 2008/09 Vendée Globe, with Yannick losing his mast just hours after the start in the Bay of Biscay, the La Rochelle based skipper moved back to the Class40 circuit.

Since 2008, Bestaven has taken two victories in the Transat Jacques Vabre in Class 40, and fourth place in the Route du Rhum in 2014. Having secured sponsorship from Maître CoQ, Yannick managed to purchase the first foiler designed by architects Verdier – VPLP for the Vendée Globe 2016 – formerly Morgan Lagravière’s Safran.

Bestaven has always been known for his autonomy. In 2001, he won the Mini-Transat on a boat that he’d built himself with the help of Arnaud Boissières who actually finished third. For this 2020 edition of the Vendée Globe, he is his own shipowner, responsible for the project from start to finish.

This all-round knowledge of a well-sorted (if not absolute latest generation) boat has certainly contributed to a Vendée which has gradually moved from impressive to standout and he led the fleet back into the Atlantic having moved up into first just south of Australia and is still fighting hard within the leading pack of four boats.

Non-Foilers

Damien Seguin

Photo: Vincent Curutchet

Age: 41
Boat: Groupe Apicil
Launched: 2008

There have been a string of outstanding performances in this edition of the Vendée Globe from skippers sailing older generation IMOCA 60s. In part they have been able to keep up thanks to proven designs that offer good reliability. On top of this, this edition of the race has been slower than many expected with unfavourable winds for the latest generation of foilers to really show what they can do in the downwind conditions they are increasingly designed to favour. As such it may not be a surprise that several boats without foils have managed to cling on to the front of the fleet.

Due to the age of his boat and his position as a Vendée rookie, Seguin was not seen by many as a podium contender heading into the race. However, the multiple dinghy champion and Paralympic medallist (Seguin was born without the use of his right hand) has shown himself a quick study upon moving to solo offshore racing.

In the build up to this race he enlisted the help of veteran Vendée racer Jean Le Cam in helping to get his Finot-Conq designed boat up to speed – and to simplify systems onboard to tailor the boat for his unique needs. Seguin has sailed smartly and alongside mentor Le Cam is part of the leading field outright and a frontrunner on the foil-less boats.

Jean le Cam

Vincent Curutchet

Age: 61
Boat: Yes We Cam!
Launched: 2007

Jean Le Cam (King Jean as he is nicknamed) has put in an impressive race and was part of the leading field consistently early on. Not only did Le Cam show that age and experience can get you to the front of the field in an older boat, but he lost time (which will be reduced from his eventual finishing time) performing a dramatic rescue of Kevin Escoffier on PRB when his bow broke off, quickly sinking his boat and leaving the Frenchman adrift in a liferaft.

Le Cam is on his fifth Vendée, understands the strengths and weaknesses of his boat well, and has not been afraid to take a different route to the leaders – one that better fits his boat’s performance. The definition of a wily old(er) Frenchman, you sense there is still plenty to come from him during the tricky return north up the Atlantic.

BREAKAGES

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Photo: Gauthier Ledbec/Charal

Jeremie Beyou

Age: 44
Boat: Charal
Launched: 2018

Arguably the benchmark boat of the fleet, Beyou’s Charal has had the most thorough race testing of the new IMOCAs.

After retiring with steering issues in the 2018 Route du Rhum, Beyou’s black VPLP design has shown few signs of weakness, winning last year’s Fastnet, the Vendée Arctic race and Défi Azimut.

Beyou’s solo career includes podium places in all the major offshores, winning the Figaro Series in 2005 and 2014, the TJV in 2011, and the Transat New York-Vendée in 2016. This is his fourth Vendée.

He has retired from two races, while in the last edition he finished third, behind Alex Thomson and winner Armel Le Cléac’h.

However, shortly after the start of this edition Beyou suffered a series of incidents which lead to a great deal of damage onboard Charal. Beyou was forced to turn around, return to the start where he and his shore team could effect repairs over a period of days before he crossed the startline once more and set off alone.

After such a delay, Beyou stood little chance of winning the Vendée Globe but his determination to continue shows his character. He is currently essentially seeing how much of the fleet he is able to pass before getting to the finish line and is up into the mid-teens.

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Photo: Charles Drapeau

Sam Davies

Age: 46
Yacht: Initiatives-Coeur
Launched: 2010

Davies returned for her third Vendée Globe, this time competing against her husband Romain Attanasio. Despite being persistently asked about childcare arrangements for their son, Davies is much more enthusiastic to talk about the technical development work she’d done to her ten-year-old boat, which includes some of the biggest foils in the fleet and an innovative new autopilot system.

Initiatives-Coeur also benefits from the class’s ‘grandfathering’ rule, which allows Davies greater freedom with rig choices and sail plans. With enormous experience, Davies has clearly taken control of her campaign and is passionate about both the performance modifications and the charity it represents. But above all she desperately wanted a competitive result to assuage just missing the podium in 2008 and dismasting in 2012.

For Davies it was not to be, however, as her boat suffered significant damage following a violent collision with something underwater, which fundamentally damaged the structure surrounding her keel. Davies put into Cape Town where she was able to repair the her boat – though with outside assistance and so ending her assault on the Vendée.

She has since returned to the course in part to support the work done by her title sponsor, Initiatives-Coeur team, which combines sport with humanitarian work in the form of supporting the non-governmental organisation Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque.

The association enables children suffering from heart problems who come from underprivileged countries where it is impossible to get operations, to come to France where they are hosted by a family and receive treatment.

Every time someone likes the Initiatives Coeur Facebook or Instagram page, or shares a Facebook post, Initiatives Coeur’s partners donate €1 to the cause.

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Photo: Yann Riou

Additional reporting from Toby Heppell.

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Karma: The Maxi Dolphin 75 cruiser with Mini-Maxi looks (13 Jan 2021, 9:00 am)

Despite her Mini Maxi-style racing looks, Karma is a Maxi Dolphin 75 performance cruiser designed by Mark Mills

Extraboats.karma_0194

Translated literally, karma does not mean fate, as it is commonly misused, but action. It’s the actions you have taken in the past, take now, and will take in the future, and their consequences. Cause and effect, not some kind of cosmic levelling out of good things you did versus bad stuff you shouldn’t have.

So it’s a surprisingly fitting name for this yacht, which was designed with clear intent from the outset. Most aggressive racing one-offs end up looking that way because they are created to do a particular job. But for a cruising design to turn out looking – at first glance at least – as if it could line up on the Maxi Worlds startline was no happy accident, instead Karma is the result of a very deliberate set of actions.

The Maxi Dolphin 75-footer is from the drawing board of Mark Mills, the Irish designer behind the radically elegant Maxi 72 Allegre and the Wallycento Tango. Mills has a strong racing pedigree, but Karma isn’t a typical racer-cruiser compromise. Instead, the concept for the boat arrived at Mills’s desk with a fully-formed brief.

Photo: Francesco Ferri/Maxi Dolphin

As well as having recruited a highly experienced project manager with an America’s Cup background, Karma’s owner had a fixed plan for how his new yacht should look.

“From the outset, he had a very clear idea that this would be a flush deck, that the winches would be just in front of the wheels, that there would be very wide sofas in the cockpit. It really has varied very, very little from the original discussions,” recalls Mills.

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Maxi Dolphin 75 – have-a-blast excitement

The Italian owner, who chooses to remain anonymous, is a keen kitesurfer and has sailed fast multihulls in the past, but doesn’t come from a big boat background. Unsurprisingly Karma is designed for have-a-blast excitement with a strong emphasis on the aesthetics.

“I think it really was a bold step into the unknown. Clearly, being a kitesurfer, he was quite bullish about the fact that it should be a very sleek, cool looking high-performance cruiser,” says Mills.

Performance design elements include a chamfered bow, to improve airflow onto sails. Photo: Francesco Ferri/Maxi Dolphin

Photo: Francesco Ferri/Maxi Dolphin

“But there was almost no desire ever to race, which is normally what’s driving performance in quite detailed ways. You usually end up looking at the exact events that an owner is going to do and how heavy the crew weight is going to be, and all those sort of things play into the design. And I really didn’t here. The performance aspect was more around the fact that he wanted to be able to just jump on his boat and sail across to Ibiza, then go back to Italy or off somewhere else. 

“We’re missing a good word for this sort of boat – an express cruiser perhaps? He was never going to do a two-week offshore passage, that wasn’t his goal. It was about making the 200-300 mile trips as quickly as possible and have a cool apartment to stay in when you got there.”

With no box rules or racing parameters to work within, the beamy hull shape could become slightly higher volume forwards, with twin rudders for offwind handling. “It’s relatively reaching oriented, given that it’s not trying to race and it’s never going to do windward leeward courses, so it’s a relatively full bow volume wise,” explains Mills. 

Weight was kept low with a carbon corecell hull and deck construction, and Karma was built using female moulds for repeatability.

Karma also has a lifting keel from Cariboni, which Mills says is the only workable solution for balancing performance with any level of cruising practicality on this type of design. “It almost isn’t possible to get the combination of light displacement and stability if you do a fixed keel of reasonable, normal draught,” he explains.

“You’re going to end up with a much smaller rig or a much wider beam waterline, or more weight, or some other negative outcome if you can’t do a relatively deep keel, which means a lifting keel.”

Some areas of cruising convention have been dispensed with – for example, there is no pushpit provision to enclose the transom – while other nods to practicality have been stealthily hidden with neat detailing. Almost invisible in the expansive teak decks is a recessed stainless steel frame, which pops out to form the dodger arches to protect the cockpit. 

Because the back of the coachroof is angled at the companionway entrance, the washboards are made of tambour slats which also roll away vertically into a recess – like a very glamorous version of a slat-fronted bread bin.

Flush deck means clear view ahead for the helmsman. Photo: Francesco Ferri/Maxi Dolphin

Given his passion for kitesurfing, the owner is a very hands-on when it comes to helming Karma, and the 75ft boat has been set up for short-handed sailing with all controls led aft to the twin helm stations, headsails on recessed furlers, in-boom furling, and a swept spreader rig with square top main, but no backstay or runners for simplicity of handling.

Between the twin rudders there is – as you might expect – an enormous garage for toys, including a large jet tender. A central transom section folds down to become a swim deck and launching spot for kites or paddleboards.

Chill-out Zone

Karma’s interior is by Nauta Design in Milan. Generating sufficient headroom for a luxurious living space was the main design challenge given the yacht’s racing profile and relatively low freeboard, achieved through a barely perceptible hump or ‘bulge’ over the saloon in the otherwise flush deck.

The interior is designed to be casually stylish, with a large lounge sofa that can comfortably seat four people opposite a dining area that can accommodate eight. The galley is open plan, informal family style, instead of being closed away for crew use only.

There is a master stateroom forward, a guest double aft, an additional twin cabin with a Pullman berth, and crew cabin, each with ensuite heads. Rather than high shine finishes, Nauta has styled the boat with a ‘scratched’ effect oak cabinetry and linen fabric panelling, to add the relaxed contemporary feel.

“I personally really like that style, which is very relaxed. I think it’s like how people want to use their boats, to have a comfy sofa to go crash out on. And the ability to do it with lots of volume and space and not feel crowded was cool,” says Mills.

No backstays or runners add to the open transom. Photo: Francesco Ferri/Maxi Dolphin

In keeping with her raceboat aesthetics, the windows and hatches are discrete, with flush cabin and saloon deck hatches and the hull windows concealed by an outer film that appears white from outside, but lets the daylight in.

“The drawback of this sort of flush deck is you lose the coachroof sides, which everybody expects to see in glass, and therefore are an easy way to get light in. So there’s even more pressure to do something with hull windows – they could get bigger and bigger, but the goal was definitely to try and keep them muted,” explains Mills.

But Karma was never intended for sitting in and looking at the sea, It’s a boat designed for hoisting sails, launching kites, and blasting across off across the waves. Karma means action.

Specification 

LOA: 23.86m / 78ft 4in
LWL: 22.00m / 72ft 2in
Beam: 6.10m / 20ft 0in
Draught (min): 2.80m / 9ft 2in
Draught (max): 4.80m / 15ft 9in
Displacement: 26,000kg / 57,320lb
Sail area
Upwind: 317.3m² / 3,415ft²
Downwind: 645.8m² / 6,951ft²
Design: Mark Mills, Ireland
Build: Maxi Dolphin, Italy

First published in the January 2021 issue of Yachting World.

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