Please select your home edition
Edition
Pittwater to Paradise 2018 728x90

The other kind of airfoil—Sailing News from the U.S. and Beyond

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 17 Dec 2012
Sunset in the Southern Ocean © Dominique Wavre
Given the lovely weather that we’ve been 'enjoying' in Seattle as of late (read: liquid sunshine, and lots of it), my family and I spent the morning checking-out a different kind of wing than the America’s Cup variety, namely the ones that Boeing manufactures and assembles at their Everett, Washington facility. Here, we saw wing sections for 747s, 787s and 777s being assembled and attached to their fuselages in the world’s biggest building. I couldn’t help but smile when the tour guide referred to the supporting members that run internally down length of each wing as 'spars.'


I also couldn't help but consider that the scale of an AC72’s wingsail won’t be too far afield from what I was seeing on the massive assembly floor. Even mightier was the thought that BMW Oracle 90 used a wing section that dwarfed that of any commercial airliner ever built.


In another parallel to Grand Prix sailing, the new 787 is built using substantial amount of carbon fiber and composite materials. Also according to our tour guide, the 787’s wings (which use a lot of carbon) are designed to flex more than 20 feet, purportedly to act as 'shock absorbers' (his parlance, not mine) to make flying through rough air a smoother experience. Yet talk to any skipper in the alone-and-around-the-world-nonstop Vendee Globe Race, and I strongly suspect that they wouldn’t think of their carbon-fiber racing shells as having much in the way of shock absorption, especially now as they skim and skip along the often storm-tossed Southern Ocean.





At the time of this writing, Armel Le Cleac’h ('Banque Populaire') and Francois Gabert ('MACIF') were playing leapfrog for pole position, their next closest competition-Jean-Pierre Dick ('Virbac Paprec 3')-some 450 miles astern. According to reports, the fleet of 13 IMOCA 60s that are still left standing (out of a starting class of 20) are dealing with the extremes-either too much wind or not enough-thanks to Cyclone Claudia, which has been stalking parts of the racecourse.





Skipper Mike Golding ('Gamesa') had an interesting recent moment of reflection when a sudden and strong puff broke a furling line, unleashing a massive flogging sail (at 0400 hours, of course). While the experienced British-flagged skipper reacted quickly and remedied the problem, Golding couldn’t help but consider that this incident took place within 300 miles from where he was dismasted in the 2008/2008 Vendee Globe.


'I am reasonably sorted now, I am not going to go mad,' reported Golding after dealing with the sail. 'I just have to consolidate with the boat a bit and accept that I won't have my best day. Otherwise there is the propensity to get right into that downwards spiral and that’s when bad things start to happen.'





On the other side of the conditions coin was Francois Gabert ('MACIF'), who added another impressive record to his resume several days ago when he broke the record for the fastest passage from the Cape of Good Hope to Australia’s Cape Leeuwin (his un-ratified time is 11 days, six hours and 40 minutes), besting the old record (which was held by his mentor, the legendary Michel Desjoyeaux) by nine minutes. Even more astonishing is the fact that the 29-year-old Gabert has also chalked-up two other jaw-dropping records on his first Vendee, namely setting the (ratified) record for the fastest passage from Les Sables d'Olonne, France to the Cape of Good Hope (34 days 10 hours and 23 minutes), as well as bagging the most solo miles sailed in a day aboard a monohull (545.3 miles; unratified). Get the full Vendee news blast, inside this issue.


May the four winds blow you safely home,

Beneteau SAIL Oceanis 35.1 37.1 41.1 660x82 1PredictWind.comX-Yachts AUS X4 - 660 - 1

Related Articles

Ian Walker - Musto Ambassador on the Volvo Ocean Race, America's Cup
Ian Walker on his Volvo Ocean Race win, why food and clothing are so important offshore, his views on the America's Cup We speak to Musto ambassador Ian Walker about his Volvo Ocean Race win, why food and clothing are so important offshore, his views on the America's Cup, his new desk job, sailing for fun, and 20 years of the John Merricks Sailing Trust.
Posted today at 12:19 am
Black Jack Yachting. Bigger boat. Bigger team. Even bigger performance
Throughout the iterations of maxis called Black Jack, a strong, consistent and talented team has been their focus Throughout the iterations of maxis called Black Jack, a strong, consistent and talented team has been their focus. Some were sail makers, like Skipper Mark Bradford and also Vaughan Prentice from North Sails’ Brisbane loft. Others were riggers, such as Bruce Clarke, and there are even boat builders, like Gary van Lunteren, as well as Ash Deeks.
Posted on 20 Jul
Gladwell's Line - America's Cup returns to its new home and thinking
Emirates Team New Zealand's win in the 35th America's Cup ends 17-years of wandering in the AC wilderness Emirates Team New Zealand's win in the 35th America's Cup ends 17-years of wandering in the AC wilderness and will open a new era of America's Cup, New Zealand and World Sailing. A rookie crew won the most prestigious trophy in sailing, and one of the most difficult to win in any sport.
Posted on 29 Jun
SuperFoilers Are Go!
SuperFoilers represent many things. Whilst those components are disparate and virtually from different planets SuperFoilers represent many things. Whilst those components are disparate and virtually from different planets in the great scheme of things, they come together in the one form as harmoniously as a Rolls Royce, and also deliver intense energy way past the sum of their parts, just like some amazing band.
Posted on 28 Jun
Poppy takes Australia to her dad who’s afflicted with Parkinson’s
It’s a very sad way to begin such a great voyage. Not that you would know from the ultra-effervescent Poppy Moore... It’s a very sad way to begin such a great voyage. Not that you would know from the ultra-effervescent Poppy Moore, mind you. So the chance to talk with her and learn her tale was fantastic, and she is also the best one to recount it. “I decided to sail around Australia to raise awareness and funds for Parkinson’s, because my father’s got Parkinson’s
Posted on 5 Jun
Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600 - It just works
Every now and then a boat just clicks. It has all the right bits, of the correct dimensions, in the appropriate places Every now and then a boat just clicks. It has all the right bits, of the correct dimensions, in the appropriate places, and out of it all you get something that simply sings. The Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600 is one of these craft. It was designed and built in parallel to the other, more well known versions of the brand’s vessels, and benefits from being more geared towards performance, without going tot
Posted on 23 May
The return to Coffs!
The word is out that the new race to Coffs Harbour is on. The phoenix would run once again in the Christmas timeslot The word is out that the new race to Coffs Harbour is on. The phoenix would run once again in the traditional Christmas timeslot, and also be the much easier to digest 200 or so miles. The ‘new’ race would also be geared towards club racers, so they, and their non-pro crews could be out and back, and almost more importantly, returned to work before anyone missed them. Bring it on...
Posted on 22 May
America's Cup - Southern Spars AC50 build for Emirates Team NZ + Video
The Peter Blake skippered Steinlager 2 put Southern Spars on the map 27 years after Steinlager 2 put Southern Spars on the map with her unequalled clean sweep of the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race, Southern Spars were called on to build Emirates Team NZ's America's Cup Challenger. Here's a look behind the scenes at the composite engineering process Southern Spars employ on projects ranging from Volvo OR spars, to Olympic bike wheels to an AC50
Posted on 1 May
Debbie says the 8thP with Insurance is Patience (Pt.III)
We’re back to keep exploring the nature of TC Debbie and how she came to tell us about the eighth P of insurance We’re back to keep exploring the nature of TC Debbie and how she came to tell us about the eighth P of insurance. We’ve looked at what it was like to come into a disaster zone, seen the evidence of those that did the right thing, and how the area is already on the road to recovery. Now we’ll see why patience is the key in the aftermath of her fury.
Posted on 30 Apr
Debbie says the 8thP with Insurance is Patience (Pt.II)
We’re back to keep exploring the nature of TC Debbie and how she came to tell us about the eighth P of insurance We’re back to keep exploring the nature of TC Debbie and how she came to tell us about the eighth P of insurance. We looked at what it was like to come into a disaster zone and now we see the evidence of those that did the right thing, and how the area is already on the road to recovery.
Posted on 25 Apr