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17 Dec 2012

The other kind of airfoil—Sailing News from the U.S. and Beyond

Sunset in the Southern Ocean  © Dominique Wavre
Given the lovely weather that we've been 'enjoying' in Seattle as of late (read: liquid sunshine, and lots of it), my family and I spent the morning checking-out a different kind of wing than the America's Cup variety, namely the ones that Boeing manufactures and assembles at their Everett, Washington facility. Here, we saw wing sections for 747s, 787s and 777s being assembled and attached to their fuselages in the world's biggest building. I couldn't help but smile when the tour guide referred to the supporting members that run internally down length of each wing as 'spars.'


I also couldn't help but consider that the scale of an AC72's wingsail won't be too far afield from what I was seeing on the massive assembly floor. Even mightier was the thought that BMW Oracle 90 used a wing section that dwarfed that of any commercial airliner ever built.


In another parallel to Grand Prix sailing, the new 787 is built using substantial amount of carbon fiber and composite materials. Also according to our tour guide, the 787's wings (which use a lot of carbon) are designed to flex more than 20 feet, purportedly to act as 'shock absorbers' (his parlance, not mine) to make flying through rough air a smoother experience. Yet talk to any skipper in the alone-and-around-the-world-nonstop Vendee Globe Race, and I strongly suspect that they wouldn't think of their carbon-fiber racing shells as having much in the way of shock absorption, especially now as they skim and skip along the often storm-tossed Southern Ocean.


Francois Gabart, Macif - 2012 Vendee Globe  Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendée Globe ©



At the time of this writing, Armel Le Cleac'h ('Banque Populaire') and Francois Gabert ('MACIF') were playing leapfrog for pole position, their next closest competition-Jean-Pierre Dick ('Virbac Paprec 3')-some 450 miles astern. According to reports, the fleet of 13 IMOCA 60s that are still left standing (out of a starting class of 20) are dealing with the extremes-either too much wind or not enough-thanks to Cyclone Claudia, which has been stalking parts of the racecourse.


Mike Golding, Gamesa - 2012 Vendee Globe  Mike Golding Yacht Racing ©



Skipper Mike Golding ('Gamesa') had an interesting recent moment of reflection when a sudden and strong puff broke a furling line, unleashing a massive flogging sail (at 0400 hours, of course). While the experienced British-flagged skipper reacted quickly and remedied the problem, Golding couldn't help but consider that this incident took place within 300 miles from where he was dismasted in the 2008/2008 Vendee Globe.


'I am reasonably sorted now, I am not going to go mad,' reported Golding after dealing with the sail. 'I just have to consolidate with the boat a bit and accept that I won't have my best day. Otherwise there is the propensity to get right into that downwards spiral and that's when bad things start to happen.'


Francois Gabart, Macif - 2012 Vendee Globe  Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendée Globe ©



On the other side of the conditions coin was Francois Gabert ('MACIF'), who added another impressive record to his resume several days ago when he broke the record for the fastest passage from the Cape of Good Hope to Australia's Cape Leeuwin (his un-ratified time is 11 days, six hours and 40 minutes), besting the old record (which was held by his mentor, the legendary Michel Desjoyeaux) by nine minutes. Even more astonishing is the fact that the 29-year-old Gabert has also chalked-up two other jaw-dropping records on his first Vendee, namely setting the (ratified) record for the fastest passage from Les Sables d'Olonne, France to the Cape of Good Hope (34 days 10 hours and 23 minutes), as well as bagging the most solo miles sailed in a day aboard a monohull (545.3 miles; unratified). Get the full Vendee news blast, inside this issue.


May the four winds blow you safely home,


David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor



Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Wild Oats XI set to fly
Rob Mundle,
The Wild Oats XI officially unveiled on Sunday the three key changes in her armoury in an attempt to win line honours for Boxing Day's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and even shatter the record of 1 day, 18 hours, 40 minutes, and 10 seconds the supermaxi booked seven years ago.... [more]
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Vendee Globe - Summer snow, gate move and the hook up + Video
Vendee Globe,
In the Vendee Globe, the West Pacific ice gate has been relocated whilst Francois Gabart and Armel Le Cleac'h face summer snow, Alex Thomson hooks up with Claudia and Gamesa skipper Mike Golding recalls his dismasting four years ago.... [more]
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Vendee Globe: A portmanteau and ‘gunslinging uncles', what's next?
Vendee Globe,
In the Vendee Globe, like many close relationships, the two French leaders are close to earning their own portmanteau: Gabac'h perhaps. Although, Armel has led the race for more days and may prefer Cléart, or if he is going the Brangelina route, Armois.... [more]
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UON SB20 World Championships 2012 - Brits put pressure on Russians
Lisa Ratcliff,
The UON SB20 World Championships 2012 has already reached its halfway mark with Russian team of skipper Oleg Zherebtsov and helmsman Rodion Luka still lording on top of the leaderboard despite facing pressure from Great Britain team led by Ben Saxton in the 42-boat racing event at Hamilton Island.... [more]
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Sail Sydney 2012 Day 2 - Plenty of action in solid breeze
Andrew Hawkins,
As we head into day three of Sail Sydney 2012 the competitors are tired but happy. The wind gods have been kind bringing 15-20 knots, though the afternoon of day two saw some gusts coming down the harbour up around 25 knots.... [more]
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Vendee Globe - Masters of their own universe + Video
Vendee Globe,
In the Vendee Globe, whilst the rest of the fleet struggle to deal with either no wind or too much, only the leader and Francois Gabart (Macif) and Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire) seem to be masters of their own universe. But even they will need to brace themselves for the cold to come as, 950 miles south of Australia, they dive down into the freezing Furious Fifties for the first time.... [more]
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Vendee Globe - Gabart breaks Indian Ocean and Cape Leeuwin records
Vendee Globe,
The Vendee Globe is currently underway and like every young man in a hurry to meet his destiny, Francois Gabart (Macif) arrived early last night and in his urgency, claimed an unexpected second record.... [more]
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UON SB20 World Championships - Russians display menacing form
Lisa Ratcliff,
On the second day of the UON SB20 World Championships, lighter breezes and one of the biggest tides of the year combined to create tricky conditions for the 42 international crews contesting the event and the race management team who were kept busy setting and re-setting fair courses.... [more]
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The resurrection of Olympic windsurfing + Video
Patrik Pollak,
Windsurfing has been thru ups and downs in recent years. End of the world predictions were almost truthful for Olympic windsurfing this year. There was a lot of discussions about why windsurfing should stay at the Olympics.... [more]
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What's on the horizon for the International RS Feva Association?
Golly Tucker,
2012 is nearing its end and what a year it has been! Memories of Hayling are still etched in my mind. I thought it would be great to give you an update on the International RS Feva Association to get you all enthused about 2013!... [more]
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Vendee Globe - Leaders shrug off pursuers at Cape Leeuwin + Video
Vendee Globe,
In the Vendee Globe, Francois Gabart and Armel Le Cléac'h are the double act which have shared the top two places through the Indian Ocean locked together for six consecutive days now. This evening, probably around midnight, the race's runaway leaders should pass the longitude of SW Australia's Cape Leeuwin in quick succession.... [more]
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America's Cup: Old photo evokes design assistance claims
Richard Gladwell,
The off the water pressure in the 34th America's Cup, clicked up a few notches today with an attack on the Emirates Team NZ and Luna Rossa co-operation agreement. The text, published on a major US sailing website, and elsewhere on the interweb, ran under photo of Emirates Team NZ's Wing Design Coordinator, Steve Wilson, pictured on board Luna Rossa's AC72... [more]
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Vendee Globe - Leaders reach Australia's West gate
Vendee Globe,
In the Vendee Globe, Armel Le Cléac'h passed the Australia West gate last night at around 1944hrs UTC on its most westerly mark 21 minutes ahead of François Gabart, who was 18 miles to the east, but it is Gabart who has made the overnight gain as the fleet heads under Australia.... [more]
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America's Cup: End of the sailing road for the first AC72
Warren Douglas,
On Thursday the Emirates Team NZ shore crew began to decommission the yacht while the team concentrates on finishing Boat 2. Winch drums and some hardware will be removed from the yacht and fitted to Boat 2. Boat 1 will be refitted in the near future and held in reserve, to be commissioned quickly in the event it's needed.... [more]
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Year-end gift to BoatUS Foundation benefits recreational boating
D. Scott Croft/BoatUS,
Boaters can assist themselves this holiday season by making a tax-deductible, year-end gift to the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit education and outreach organization operating more than a dozen programs benefitting targeting boaters. Donations are utilized year-round to help those on the water stay safe and to help keep our waterways clean.... [more]
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America's Cup: Emirates Team NZ design chief looks to the second AC72
Richard Gladwell,
Emirates Team NZ's Technical Director, Nick Holroyd outlines the changes he expects to be made to the team's second AC72, on Day 30, as New Zealand is decommissioned and packed away. Reading between the comments in this video interview with is reasonably plain that New Zealand, the team's first AC72 was always something of a sailing science experiment and the next will be a reliable race boat.... [more]
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America's Cup: Grant Dalton on hitting the big zero - Video interview
Richard Gladwell,
Emirates Team New Zealand have become the first, and probably only team that will use its allocated 30 days for the first phase of sailing AC72's. According to the virtual Official Noticeboard for the 34th America's Cup, the team has a zero alongside its name in terms of sailing days left. Many pundits see that as a measure of the current state of play in the 34th America's Cup. But is it?... [more]
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Yacht Racing Image of the Year Award goes to Kurt Arrigo
Bernard Schopfer,
The photographer Kurt Arrigo, from Malta has been awarded for his photography taken during the Volcano Race, featuring the yacht Nilaya and the reflection of the island of Capri on her hull. Some 46 photographers from all over the world participated in the contest.... [more]
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