If you’re a sailing-gear junkie like myself, there’s no finer place to spend a few days than at the METS tradeshow, which is held every November in Amsterdam. Here, a smorgasbord of great, exciting new equipment—some of it domestic (USA) but plenty of it foreign—is on display, giving a visitor the chance to check-out kit that’s not normally found at the local chandlery. And while METS has fully occupied my attention for the last few days, the rest of the sailing world has been abuzz with interesting happenings, from Vendee Globe reports to news that Australian Paul Larsen is making speed-sailing history with his SailRocket 2 project.
Vestas Sailrocket 2
In the non-stop, around-the-world-solo-and-unassisted Vendee Globe, François Gabart continues to lead the pack of Open 60s, followed by Armel Le Cleac’h and Bernard Stamm, as the fleet plunges downhill towards the Canary Islands. Thus far, two boats have already had to dropout due to structural failures or accidents (one broken keel and one collision with a fishing boat), thus signaling the start of the Vendee’s time-honored war of attrition. There have been two more since.
And, given that the Vendee is a hardcore ocean race, the remaining 16 skippers are not exactly enjoying cocktails on sunny teak decks or the shade of cockpit awnings. 'What a chaotic sea, I feel like I'm in a roller coaster,' reported Stamm. 'I wasn’t expecting such conditions at this point. I hope it’s soon over because jumping over waves like this is difficult, I can’t stay up, and even squatting or kneeling is difficult. It's so noisy, it feels like someone keeps firing a cannon! Be sure to get the latest Vendee report, inside.
For Cup fans, make sure to spend some time reading (read: drooling over) Richard Gladwell’s amazing report from his day of sailing aboard Emirates Team New Zealand’s AC72 wingsail-powered catamaran. 'The AC72 is a boat like you’ve never seen or experienced before, wrote Gladwell, who got to see the number 43.6 knots appear on the speedo. 'The first impression is of a very stiff platform (multihull-speak for the combination of hulls, beams, deck and supporting truss underneath the 40metre tall wingsail). There was no twisting. The whole boat is a single locked unit, as she charges into the moderate sea.' Get Gladwell’s awe-inspiring report, inside this issue.
Meanwhile, in Namibia, Paul Larsen and his Vestas Sailrocket 2 team are hard at work, trying to best the outright sailing speed record. 'Just in... 61 + knot peak speed and a 54,' wrote Larsen. 'Something average. Had to stop as the end was coming up fast. Everything went into fast forward. I was saying 'This is fast, this is fast' and then she took off again... 'This is real f*****g fast'!!! I thought we might have bagged the outright [record] as well... as you would after hitting over 60 knots... but the average wasn't there... I think. Everyone is getting the data down now. We broke our own [Personal Best] twice today... so that's 2x triple rum and cokes in pint glasses... and of course the 60-knot bottle of champagne also falls. Happy days.' Get the full report, inside this issue.
May the four winds blow you safely home,