By far, the sailing world’s biggest news has been the start of the nonstop, singlehanded Vendee Globe around-the-world race, which is commonly referred to as sailing’s hardest challenge. This year, twenty skippers set out from Les Sables d’Olonne, France aboard tricked-out Open 60s, some with their eye on the podium, others simply hoping to finish sans mishap or misfortune. (tho' one has already suffered just that).
Start of the seventh Vendee Globe. - © Thierry Martinez/Mirabaud
The rules are simple—essentially, to sail nonstop, around the world unassisted, keeping the three great horns to port—yet the challenge of a solo circumnavigation, much of it in the Southern Ocean, clearly emphasizes preparation, seamanship and knowing when to lean on the accelerator and when to back off..
Interestingly, of the 20 boats racing, six are now-generation designs that are purportedly lighter (read: 'potentially less robust') than earlier generations. For example, according to several sources, Vincent’s Riou’s 'PRB' allegedly has spots on her deck that are not safe to walk on, obviously trimming deck strength for stiffness. Other skippers have opted for older, heavier (read: 'probably more robust') boats, usually by financial necessity, that—while a touch stickier at certain angles—could prove advantageous, should the race become a war of attrition.
Inside this issue, get the full Vendee Globe media blitz, including images from the start, position reports, and all the latest Vendee Globe news, as it unfurls.
Hugo Boss - 2012 Vendee Globe - Alex Thompson Racing
Meanwhile, on the industry side of the sailing world, the annual METS tradeshow is taking place this week in Amsterdam. For gearheads like myself, there are few cooler shows, as the gear-only METS is where many companies unveil their latest creations in an effort to win a coveted DAME design award (stay tuned for more on these awards, as the week progresses), attract media attention and, of course, to sell product. I’ll be attending the show, so please also stand by for some sneak previews of interesting new kit that I discover.
Closer to my home in the Pacific Northwest, the annual Around the County Race took place this weekend, drawing some eighty-plus boats to come and play in the chilly late-fall race. The two-day race started and ended in Rosario Straight, which separates San Juan County from Island County (northern end of Puget Sound), and circumnavigates the San Juan Island archipelago, stopping for the night in scenic Roche Harbor. While I’m certainly envious of all the fun that my sailing friends had back home, it was nice to have warm fingers and toes this weekend!
On the other side of the sailing-conditions coin are the upcoming J/24 North Americans, which are set to take place this week (November 14-17) at the Florida Yacht Club in Jacksonville, Florida. The warm-water regatta is expected to see 34 boats battling for position on the starting lines, so stay tuned for more from this classic event, as it becomes known.
by David Schmidt
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6:04 AM Sun 11 Nov 2012GMT
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