All across America, families and friends are gathering, feasts are being prepared, dusty bottles of wine uncorked and the warm glow of myriad holiday hearths is working to spread cheer across our nation. Here in the Pacific Northwest the day dawned misty and damp, but—thankfully—rain was absent from our skyline. While it’s doubtful that this reprieve from the 'liquid sunshine' will last, today’s weather certainly helps to define all the small things that are worth saying 'thank-you' for, especially as we prepare to enjoy a sinfully rich dinner and the glad tidings of loved ones.
In the greater sailing world, the same can’t be said for the remaining 14 skippers (out of a starting class of 20 boats) who are racing in the non-stop-and-unassisted around-the-world Vendee Globe Race, which kicked off on November 10. While less than two weeks have elapsed since the report from the starting guns was registered, attrition has been the name of the game, with skipper’s dreams succumbing to everything from collisions to dismastings to keel failures.
According to reports, Zbigniew 'Gutek' Gutkowski, sailing aboard 'Energa', is the latest victim of this war of attrition, courtesy of a faulty autopilot system. 'I know I did everything I could, working on my electronics issues for many days,' reported Gutek. 'Having no autopilot means I can’t race, and if I can’t race, I have to retire… It’s like driving at night on a road you don’t know, a road with many turns, surrounded with trees. Suddenly your lights go off and you can’t slow down. How many chances do you have to survive?'
On the more fortunate side of the equation is the tale of Spanish sailor Javier ‘Bubi’ Sansó, sailing aboard 'Acciona 100% EcoPowered', who had to stop for a full two days last week to tackle a mainsail/rigging problem that required the soloist to climb his 100-foot stick, alone and unassisted. Fortunately for Bubi, the Doldrums granted fast and easy passage, allowing him to already start applying pressure to the rest of the pack.
'Coming from the back is sometime a little bit easier, so I think I had a bit of luck and east was a little bit better,' reported Bubi. 'We’ll see. When I’m through I will be east of the Mike Golding group. It should be good.' Get the full Vendee Globe report, inside this issue, and be sure to lift a few extra forkfuls of your holiday leftovers for these 14 skippers who are likely 'enjoying' a lovely ration of freeze-dried indigestion and reverse-osmosis water, not oven-roast turkey and a delicate wine.
And in speed-sailing news, Australian Paul Larsen continues his siege on world speed-sailing records, this time snatching the fastest pace of a measured mile from skipper Alain Thebault’s French-flagged 'L’Hydroptere'. Impressively, Larsen averaged 55.3 knots over the mile, hitting a staggering peak speed of 64.78 knots (these numbers are still awaiting ratification from the World Speed Sailing Record Council) aboard his 'Vestas Sailrocket 2'.
'I started the mile at only 38 knots,' reported Larsen. 'The wind had come up to near ideal design conditions so I knew that if we could get onto the course that the record would be in serious trouble. Well now we were on the course in good shape so the hammer went down. [Sailrocket 2] launched quickly over 50 knots once I sheeted the wing in. I now had a glorious long minute to soak up this wonderful craft flexing her newfound skills. I could see the gusts ahead on the water. The view from the cockpit is perfect. No spray. It's panoramic. The drops in speed between the gust-induced lunges of acceleration weren't that big.' Don’t miss the full multimedia report, including dramatic video footage of Larsen’s historic run, inside this issue.
Also inside, be sure to check out the happenings from Artemis Racing’s AC72 program, get the latest U.S. college-sailing rankings, and don’t miss the latest media coverage of the two-boat testing that Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa have been doing on NZ’s Hauraki Gulf aboard their first-generation AC72s.
May the four winds blow you safely home,
by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor - 8:52 PM Thu 22 Nov 2012 GMT
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