The newly formed Sailing Yacht Research Foundation held an interesting 'meeting of the minds' of high-performance sailing this weekend at the Stamford Yacht Club in Stamford Connecticut. While I was unable to attend due to geographic constraints (I live in Seattle), I was fortunate enough to be able to send a proxy in my stead (thanks, Dad!). According to my East Coast eyes and ears, the presentation—which featured key-note speakers such as world-class navigators Stan Honey and Peter Isler, Grand Prix yacht designer Jim Teeters and veteran high-performance racer (and longtime sailmaker) Steve Benjamin—offered a fascinating glimpse into how technology can meld with hands-on sailing to produce better boats, more accurate VPP systems, better rating rules and even more accurate navigation. Stay tuned for more from this event, as the week continues.
And speaking of high-performance racing, the Farr 400 class has announced that five boats will be racing at Key West Race Week (January 20 – 25) as part of the greater High Performance Class. 'We really do not know what to expect,' said Jesper Banks, himself a double Olympic Gold medalist as well as skipper of the Farr 400, 'Santa'. 'We really are still getting to grips with how to sail the boat. We have a great crew, very experienced and we are confident we will get it to work together, but we are still relatively new to it. So far we have done two real events with the boat and one was in 30 knots of breeze, but we are really looking forward to measuring up against the other boats. The key for us will be to pick it up quickly and execute well.'
And in ocean-racing circles, the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) has put out the call for 'Onboard Reporters' for the 2014/2015 race. The wording is important here because the last two editions of the VOR required each team to carry a Media Crew Member, or MCM, who was responsible for producing onboard footage and reportage, but who was restricted from helping to physically sail the boat. In reality, MCMs spent a lot of their time cooking and cleaning, so as to help pull their own weigh. From the sounds of the VOR’s call for Onboard Reporters, which specifically calls-out the fact that sailing experience isn’t necessary, the new role will be vastly different from that of the MCMs.
'We're starting the hunt for proven media professionals to tell the real story of this extraordinary race,' said the VOR’s Director of Communications, Jon Bramley. 'We need people who can be at the top of their game despite conditions that test even the world's best professional sailors to the core. It's one of the toughest jobs in journalism but also one of the best—and we're looking for outstanding candidates to match.' If you think you’ve got the gumption to tough it out as an Onboard Reporter, be sure to check out the full job description, inside this issue.
Francois Gabart onboard Macif - 2012 Vendee Globe - © François Gabart / MACIF
Meanwhile, in the nonstop-around-the-world-alone-and-unassisted Vendee Globe Race, race leader Francois Gabart ('Macif') continues to pull ahead of Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire), extending his lead (at the time of this writing) to more than 250 miles. This is impressive, give that Gabart and Le Cléach were in lockstep for weeks, their mastheads separated by a mere few miles. Also interesting is the tug-of-war for third place that’s been taking place between third-placed Jean-Pierre Dick ('Virbac-Paprec 3') and fourth-placed Alex Thomson ('Hugo Boss'), as the two skippers continue to trade tactical fisticuffs as they punch northward into the South Atlantic.
'I’m doing good in terms of health and physically,' reported Dick, who like all the Vendee skippers is now entering his tenth week at sea. 'I’m tired, of course, I’ve used a lot of mental energy [and] I’m not as reactive as I was at the start. I hit a lot of things on board, I have bruises, but I didn’t get injured, and apparently, neither did the other skippers. It’s almost a surprise because we get shaken a lot, but I guess we’ve all been careful. Alex is not having great wind, so I guess I’ll be able to go faster than him. Armel is sailing faster than me, though, so I need to put an end to that situation. I think we’ll be able to catch up a bit in the near future. Right now the gaps are quite big.' Get the full Vendee Globe report, inside.
Also inside, check out the photo reports of go-fast teams training in Auckland, New Zealand aboard their 18-foot skiffs for the upcoming JJ Giltinan Trophy, don’t miss the wrap-up report from the Australian Moth Championship, where Peter Burling (a Kiwi Silver medalist at the London Olympics 2012) took top honors amongst a star-studded fleet, and finally, be sure to check out the latest edition of 'America’s Cup Discovered'. Enjoy!
May the four winds blow you safely home,
by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor
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11:15 PM Sun 13 Jan 2013GMT
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