Downshifting into low gear—Sailing News from the U.S. and Beyond
Sailors racing in the fully crewed, around-the-world Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) have been enjoying glorious sailing for the past few days as the fleet painlessly crossed the doldrums and has long-since patched into the Caribbean tradewinds. Teams have been reeling off 500-mile days, and the pressure at the top of the fleet remains painfully acute as Puma Ocean Racing's Mar Mostro leads the Leg Six charge from Itajai, Brazil into Miami, followed by Emirates Team New Zealand's (ENTZ) Camper, and Telefonica just a mile or two astern of their Kiwi-flagged rival.
|Fast tradewind sailing calls for shirtless trimming. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race) Amory Ross/Puma Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race© |
|Groupama Sailing Team during leg 6 - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team © /Volvo Ocean Race|
But while the fleet has been enjoying the sort of sailing that you and I regularly dream about, the magic carpet ride is expected to grind to a halt as teams run out of their most precious commodity: wind. Interestingly, as the leaders park-up and search for their low gears, Groupama 4 and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam will get another bite at the restart apple, after having spent time languishing astern of the fleet.
Tactically, this could change everything, depending—of course—on how the weather plays out. 'We are expecting a little low, which will bring breeze, but before that it's going to be pretty light and fickle,' said an optimistic Rob Salthouse, helmsman/trimmer aboard ENTZ's Camper. 'We have got the boat for those conditions, but we will just have to see how it all pans out.' Get the full VOR report, inside.
Inshore and also in that part of the world, Antigua Sailing Week wraps up today after a fairly windy contest that tested each team's ability to handle their steeds in a blow. 'It's a long flight to get here from Australia but I have to say it has been worth it, great conditions similar to Hawaii when I used to compete there in the Kenwood Cup,' said sailing great Syd Fischer (85), a 40-time participant in the fabled Sydney-Hobart Race and a five-time America's Cup veteran. 'This is my first visit to Antigua but I have enjoyed the sailing so far and it was great to get a win today.'
|Spirit of Isis,Ondeck,CSA 1 - Antigua Sailing Week 2012 Paul Wyeth / pwpictures.com |
According to the most recent reports from the sovereign Caribbean nation, yesterday's racing included a mash up involving the Oyster 82, Starry Night of the Caribbean and Spirit of Isis, which is one of On Deck's Farr 65s. The result was a gaping hole in the smaller boat. 'The regatta was going really well and a fantastic performance has been put in by the team who are charter guests of mixed sailing ability,' reported Vicky Blunt, skipper of Spirit of Isis. '[While] we were on starboard tack there was an unfortunate incident involving Starry Night, which came at us on port tack, ending our regatta in dramatic fashion.' More, in this issue.
|Mirabaud LX - New wing mast for 2012 Pierre-Alain Folliet / Mirabaud |
And in high-speed sailing news, a truly cool 'boat' took flight this week as Thomas Jundt's refitted Mirabaud LX was re-splashed on Lake Geneva, preceding the 2012 racing season. The experimental foiler features a massive hard wingsail (think America's Cup) and sports a set of foils on its centerboard (think foiling Moths), allowing the crew to drastically reduce their wetted surface area. 'Last year, we concluded that the wing is a great solution, but unfortunately we under-sized our first [wing], thinking that its performance would compensate for the surface area,' said Jundt. 'In practice, however, the wing is much easier to handle than a soft sail as it never flaps, so our goal with this new [wing] is to have more power in order to foil earlier.'
Also in this issue, get the latest from the Global Ocean Race, where Erik van Vuuren and Yvonne Beusker, aboard Sec. Hayai just crossed the Leg Four finishing line in Charleston, South Carolina; check out the happenings from the ongoing Clipper Around the World Yacht Race, and get the post-racing report from the Interclub Dinghy National Championship, which just wrapped up on Irondequoit Bay in Rochester, New York.
And finally, stay tuned to the website this weekend for updates from the U.S. Olympic Team Qualifying Regatta, which is being held at Weymouth, England, site of the 2012 Games. This regatta will determine which team will represent the U.S. in the Women's Match Racing event at the 2012 Olympics. More, as it unfurls.
May the four winds blow you safely home,
David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor
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