Solo Ocean Race Dramas - Sailing News from the U.S. and Beyond
by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 26 Oct 2011
For distance-racing fans, the annual Rolex Middle Sea is always a favorite. Race veterans often describe the course as the most beautiful of any ocean challenge, and navigators and tacticians are often quick to point out the race’s fickle nature. This year was no exception, with a strong line-up and plenty of tactical challenges to keep the 'brain trusts' satisfied. Igor Simcic’s Esimit Europa 2 nabbed line honors with an elapsed time of 61 hours, 24 minutes and 35 seconds, a feat that he also pulled off in 2010. 'We kept some land breeze longer and we stretched there,' said Esimit Europa 2’s navigator, Juan Vila. 'Everyone on the boat did a good job of keeping the boat going and we probably managed to keep going with the little bit of wind that was going north. To keep the boat moving in these light airs, we knew it would be tricky - as the Rolex Middle Sea Race is - especially the first night. We thought it would be a deciding point of the race, getting by the eastern coast of Sicily and through Messina. From Stromboli it was light, but we managed to find some clouds, so we were jumping from cloud to cloud.'
Meanwhile, in the Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50, two singlehanded Classe Mini skippers have had to abandon their boats in recent days. First, Mathieu Claveau (405) hit an unidentified object, causing massive damage to his boat. In a coordinated effort between a cargo vessel and one of the race’s escort boats, Claveau was safely plucked from his liferaft and brought aboard the escort boat, where he’ll remain until the fleet arrives in Brazil. 'I had 10 knots of wind when it happened. I was asleep and I was awakened by a great shock,' said Claveau. 'I saw the water gushing under my kitchen board. I went down, I plunged in my hand and I felt the wood of the hull that had exploded. I think that I hit a metal object, which destroyed my hull. The boat was filled with water in an hour. I tried to bail out but I quickly realized that this was not possible and that it was completely useless. I was surprised that everyone was there so quickly. I had everything prepared to stay one or two days without help. All is fine... '
Then, Australian Scott Cavanough (79) was forced to abandon after sustaining a collision with a super tanker that resulted in 'substantial' damage to 79’s bow. According to reports, race officials dispatched an escort boat to Cavanough’s aide, but help was many hours away. American sailor Emma Creighton (574 Pocket Rocket selflessly answered the law of the sea and man, standing by Cavanough overnight until the cavalry arrived the next morning before re-starting her own race. Get the full story inside, and stand by for more details, as they become known.
And in another tale of an offshore drubbing, be sure to check in with the Global Ocean Race, where the main fleet of four boats has been slammed with serious conditions. 'The only way to describe the sea is the French word ‘méchante’,' said Hugo Ramon (Cessna Citation). 'It’s more expressive than ‘pretty bad’ or ‘really messy’ as the current sea state is malevolent, vicious and wicked, and is giving us hell. The boat is flying from the top of waves, throwing us around the boat in every direction and landing with such an impact that it leaves the rigging shaking and vibrating.' Get the full scoop inside.
Also inside, check out the latest inductees into the National Sailing Hall of Fame, the newest Cup media and Paul Larsen’s update on his speed-sailing ventures.
And finally, be sure to check out Sail-World.com’s massive media plans for the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race and the 2012 Olympics—you will not be disappointed.
May the four winds blow you safely home,