Chess games and offshore refits—Sailing News from the U.S. and Beyond
Ocean-racing and match-racing fans take notice: there's one heck of a good one-on-one battle going down in the alone-and-around-the-world-nonstop Vendee Globe Race between Armel Le Cleac'h ('Banque Populaire') and Francois Gabert ('MACIF'). The two have been engaged in a fascinating tactical duel, played out on the Southern Ocean's often storm-tossed seascape, for weeks, and things are getting seriously intense. As of this writing, Le Cleac'h was leading by a razor-thin margin of just two miles over Gabert, despite having been racing for almost six weeks. The two have now both entered the Pacific, with some 12,300 miles of racecourse remaining before the finishing line.
|Life in the Southern Ocean © Javier Sanso / ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered |
'I've entered the Pacific Ocean? Wow, that's great, another ocean for me!' reported Gabert to the Vendee Globe TV. 'That's perfect, let's round Cape Horn and go home, now.' No doubt the sentiment is the same aboard 'Banque Populaire', given the sheer duration of this tactical tussle.
|François Gabart, the young chess master © François Gabart / MACIF |
Elsewhere in the fleet, the remaining miles of the Indian Ocean have been dealing a walloping (read big seas and serious breeze) that's threatening to break both man and machine aboard Bertrand de Broc's 'Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM Projets'. The French-flagged skipper managed to mash-up his elbow and also tear-out a stanchion, creating a dangerous new 'aperture' in his hull. According to the latest reports, de Broc is considering anchoring in either Australia or New Zealand and trying to effect a watertight DIY job, so as not to disqualify himself from the race.
Meanwhile, Jean Le Cam ('SynerCiel') described one of the most poetic wipeouts imaginable in a recent onboard report. 'I did an incredible nosedive, the ‘nicest' crash in my life,' he said. 'It was like crashing your car at full speed into butter.' Better that than the slamming landing that is closer to hitting a brick wall with the hull.' Get the full Vendee Globe scoop, including some great 'air guitar' work by Tanguy De Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur), inside.
|Tanguy De Lamotte plays a mean air guitar Tanguy De Lamotte (FRA) / Initiatives Coeur |
Also offshore related, Southern Spars has been named the official spar builder for the 2014/2015 and 2017/2018 editions of the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR). Southern Spars will be building these carbon-fiber sticks for the new Farr-designed One Design Volvo Ocean 65. 'We will also be using our Thin Ply Technology in the rigs to get the best combination of stiffness and strength,' reported Southern Spars' Kevin Batten. 'The thin layers give us the ability to create a more highly engineered structure, with better margins of safety in key areas.'
And in Australia, sailors and raceboats are in their final-preparation modes as Boxing Day (December 26) approaches, bringing with it the start to Australia's notorious Sydney-Hobart Race. Bob Oatley, owner of the infamous 'Wild Oats XI', a Reichel-Pugh-designed 100-foot super maxi, today revealed some interesting modifications that he hopes will help him to break his own course record of 1 day, 18 hours, 40 minutes, and 10 seconds. These changes include 'keel winglets', a retractable bow centerboard and a new Code Zero headsail, as well as plenty of miles spent testing, tweaking and perfecting.
|Wild Oats XI revealing speed enhancing underwater modifications at Woolwich Dock Peter Blakeman |
'As was all too evident for us last year, we can't control the weather, but we can go into the race knowing that we can do no more when it comes to having the fastest possible yacht, and that is the case this year,' said Mark Richards, 'Wild Oats XI's' skipper. 'Wild Oats XI has never been better prepared for a Rolex Sydney Hobart race. Now it's up to us – the crew – and the weather to decide the outcome.' Amen!
May the four winds blow you safely home,
David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor
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