This Saturday: Schooner Races on Martha’s Vineyard

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If you’re heading the to Vineyard this weekend for a perfect almost-fall getaway, you’ll be treated to an awesome sight as our beloved customers, Gannon & Benjamin, host the 28th Annual Pat West Gaff Rig and Schooner Race on Saturday, September 16.

All Gaff Rig boats and schooners are welcome to enter. The race is held each year in memory of Francis (Pat) West Jr, and benefits the non-profit organization, Sail Martha’s Vineyard.

You can even register to race in this Vineyard classic, aboard the 122′ Gloucester Dory Fishing Schooner Adventure! Continue reading

Chaos and Champagne in the 50th Newport-Bermuda Race

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In this 50th edition of the famous ocean race, an early forecast threatened the fleet with nasty wind and waves in the Gulf Stream, but it didn’t stop ‘Comanche’ from setting a new course record. The rest of the racers now battle light air instead of gales, with most only halfway to Bermuda.

Comanche, the super fast 100-footer built by Hodgdon Yachts of Boothbay, Maine was built to shatter records and she has done just that with a new course record for the Newport – Bermuda Race. In this 50th anniversary running of the race, Comanche finished the 635 race in 34hrs 42min 53sec, almost five hours ahead of the previous record of 39:39:18 set in 2012 by George David in Rambler. Continue reading

The A-Cat Foils and Foiled

This sweet video from last week’s A Class Catamaran worlds in Punta Ala, Italy shows just how crazy hairy these fast flying multihulls go… But if you’re showing up at the world championships then it’s implied that you have your “ship” together and are ready to fly. But things didn’t go exactly as planned for the US crowd who sent their boats and equipment over to Italy in advance of the event. When they arrived to unload their container of 7 boats days before the start of the regatta – the cupboard was bare. Actually – the container didn’t make it out of Italian Customs. The prickly customs office refused to release the US container of boats after error in paperwork concerning US custom stamps. Ugh.

So in the spirit of sportsmanship and great sailing, a spare boat was assembled with help from other sailors and was offered to Bristol neighbor, Ben Hall, who in turn handed the boat over to high ranked sailor (also neighbor) Lars Guck. Lars had been working on custom low drag boards and rudders that they planned to test at tje event while stacked up against the best sailors out there.

The A-Cats are a class that moves ahead of the speed of technology, it seems. Always at the front of a design tweak or development, Lars and others had hoped to launch another innovation to the front of the finish line, but instead he was thankful for a borrowed boat and a 13th place finish, far behind leader and Team NZ skipper, Glen Ashby.

There are some lessons here amidst the customs debacle, but the best thing to come of it for the US sailors was the generosity of others who pulled together to make sure the best guy for the course was out there doing his best to reel in the front of the fleet. Don’t count Lars and the other top US sailors out of the front of this fleet just yet! Just keep an eye out at the next regatta for the US sailors to come with trailers and car topped A Cats – leaving the containers and international shipping aside. Because by then I’m sure they will have figured out a way to get the towing vehicle to foil it’s way across the ocean to arrive with their own tricked out boats on time and in one piece.  Oy.

The New Hugo Boss: Boat Building and Aesthetic

British yachtsman, Alex Thomson, unveiled and launched his brand new IMOCA “Open” 60 foot racing machine this week with the same sponsor name emblazoned on the hull and sails: Hugo Boss. Another big name sponsor brought their brand to the boat as well, with Mercedes Benz coming to the team, also focused on winning a number of ocean racing events.

First up is the Transat Jaques Vabre which is a 5200 mile race from the coast of France to Itajai, Brazil. Thomson and a crew will race doublehanded along the route, setting out to prove that this boat can win not only Transatlantic races, but also nonstop solo around the world racing.

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The hull is state of the art, the design of the deck hearkens the deeply buried honeycomb heart of the carbon fiber machine and Thomson, who most recently had to retire from the Barcelona World Race with a broken mast, is looking to set course and world records with his new black boat. Watch the video and get psyched to watch Alex and team race Hugo Boss to the ends of the earth.

And from the madman files – we showed you his MastWalk stunt which followed his KeelWalk stunt – so who can even begin to guess what kind of a stunt he will next attempt…. it will be exciting to see Alex and his team put this boat to the test.

 

 

Our Race to Alaska – A Waterlust Film

Back in the spring, we blogged about the crazies from all over the country who met up in the Pacific Northwest to gather together for a fairly typical sailing race start. But everything that took place after that start was pretty atypical. These sailors were not just racing around the buoys or doing an overnight distance race. They were off with their bows pointed – more or less – towards Ketchikan, Alaska.

The 750 mile race is divided into 2 stages – almost cut in half.

This jovial race description meets you on the R2AK website and it’s so fitting I’ll share it here:

It’s in the spirit of tradition, exploration, and the lawless self-reliance of the gold rush that Race to Alaska was born. R2AK is the first of its kind and North America’s longest human and wind powered race, and currently the largest cash prize for a race of its kind.

It’s like the Iditarod, on a boat,
with a chance of drowning
…being run down by a freighter, or eaten by a grizzly bear.

There are squalls, killer whales, tidal currents that run upwards of 20 miles an hour, and some of the most beautiful scenery on god’s green earth.

Even if you didn’t care then – care for the first few minutes of this cool video accounting some East Coast sailors who traveled cross country to race their “beach catamaran” in this crazy race. The video is somewhat long – but it’s really well done and the story of this race is so cool. And when it pops up again next spring, you’ll be following the crazies. I know I will.

The Fastnet Race Starts Today!

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The Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 will start for the first class – the multihulls – at midday today, Sunday 16th August. The course is unchanging; 603 miles along the south coast of England to Lizard Point, and then turning north-west into the Irish Sea and heading for the Fastnet Rock off the southern tip of Ireland. Once around, it’s south-east back to the Isles of Scilly, before turning back east to the finish in Plymouth.

Of the entry list of 400 boats, many raced across the Atlantic from Newport in the Transat and stuck around to compete in the Fastnet Race, like the speed machine, Comanche and the storied race course classic, DoradeDorade has won the legendary 603-mile race twice before: in 1931 and again in 1933 and part of her mission with these big ocean races is to again capture the silver at the finish line.

After the start full coverage of the Rolex Fastnet Race will continue with pictures and video on the multimedia page, the latest news and the Competitors’ Blog to keep race fans up to date. All of the yachts in the Rolex Fastnet Race will have YB Trackers so the worldwide audience can track their progress in real time – 24 hours a day.

Visit the official Rolex Fastnet website: www.rolexfastnetrace.com/

 

O’Pen Bic RI Intergalactics Were a Blast!

IMG_1950A forecast of 20+ knots and hazy, hot and humid weather did NOT deter the 60+ junior sailors yesterday at the O’Pen Bic Intergalactic RI UnRegatta. It was a huge success with super swag, amazing prizes (Thanks, Charlie Enright for the signed shirt off your back for first place prize!) and some super FUN and sweet sailing in our secret cove.

With a variety of exciting courses set up by the Mike3 RC, (3 Mikes busted butt to put this thing on. All other Mike’s invited to help next year! And many other volunteers were paramount to the event’s success, like Scoring Goddess, Nina M.) the kids had a blast and were treated to some super fun and challenging sailing in Gull Cove.

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Every sailor was paired with another in anticipation of switching off and a building afternoon breeze which lent itself nicely to sailing with a buddy.  Courses were set up for some crazy buoy racing, a capsize race where all sailors went for a swim when the horn sounded, a stand up course where you had to stand for the whole race! and some wacky, narrow navigating around rocks and squirt gunning teammates through a slender cut about as wide as the trailers used to bring the boats to the event.

Ice Cream and pizza was served for all and new friends and awesome memories were made.  The winning team of Olin Guck and Ronan M. were surprised with an epic first place prize of signed Team Alvimedica shirts from our hometown hero Volvo Ocean Race skipper, Charlie Enright. (see last photo in slide show of a very stoked first place winner!)

These fun UNregattas which have become an O’Pen Bic thing, are a great way to run a junior sailing event. The focus was on involving everyone, having fun, staying safe and fast, awesome sailing!

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Thanks to all the Mikes, all the volunteers and to the yacht clubs, parents, coaches and sailors who showed up with their FUN factor in place and raring to go. Let’s do it again next year!  (or go to Hyannis, MA on August 11 for the next nearby UnRegatta!)

Fun movie from GoPro footage coming soon! If you have footage to submit for inclusion, please send to kristinb@jamestowndistributors.com
And if your kid is begging: Buy your own O’pen Bic here!

Transatlantic Race – First Boats Leave Newport on Sunday

Sunday is the start of the second iteration of this particular Transatlantic Race (First one was in 2011) and the line up of yachts at all 3 of the starts is sure to be a sight.  The race starts at Castle Hill in Newport and stretches some 2,975 miles to the Lizard in England. Historically, there have been many Transatlantic races since the very first one in 1866, with massive schooners taking part, placing wagers for winning and setting records. The Schooner ‘Atlantic’, seen in the painting below, built of steel in 1903 with no hydraulics and just ten crew, set the record for the transatlantic crossing at 12 days, 4 hours and 1 minute. A mono-hull record that would stand for 100 years. Since The Great Race in 1866, there have been 27 transatlantic races. In 2011, Rambler 100 (Video above) set a new with an elapsed time of 6d 22h 08m 2s. (Rambler went on to compete in the Fastnet Race in 2011 where she lost her keel and miraculously everyone survived).

Dorade, the 52′ Sparkman & Stephens yawl, won the race in 1931 and was treated to a champions ticker tape parade down Broadway in NYC. Dorade returns again to seek another ocean crossing victory, and with a spectacular fleet of varied boats preparing to cross the Atlantic Ocean, the competition will be fierce. Continue reading

Dorade’s Transatlantic Quest

Dorade’s Quest to Repeat her 1931 Transatlantic Race Victory

Personally, I think Dorade is one of the coolest older wooden racing sailboats afloat. The Sparkman & Stephens yawl is a beauty in every way, in every harbor, to every yacht designer. It’s certain.

She was once a record wrecker, winning many of the big ocean races, like the TransPac, the Fastnet, and Newport-Bermuda amongst others. She became known and feared as a serious blue water racer and her latest owner has vowed to snatch back the trophies again – with 2 of 3 down and one to go: The TransAtlantic Race.

On June 28th, Dorade and her 40 fellow competitors, will head out of Newport, bows pointed towards the Lizard, the most southerly point on mainland Great Britain, some 2,800 nautical miles from the Newport start.

Follow along at the Dorade blog – Excerpt below:  SO COOL! GO Dorade.

10-Day Countdown to Transatlantic: How to Follow Dorade

Dorade in Newport in 2010. (Photo Credit Billy Black)

The Transatlantic Race is the third in a series of four major ocean races in the “Return to Blue Water Campaign.” Conceived shortly after Brooks and his wife Pam Rorke Levy bought Dorade in 2010, the campaign was initially called “Matt’s Crazy Idea,” but soon after the completion of a year-long refit Dorade began winning races, both offshore and in coastal regattas in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean and on the West Coast, proving that she could once again be competitive. The team silenced the campaign’s critics once and for all in 2013, when Dorade was the overall winner (on corrected time) in the 2013 Transpacific Yacht Race, 77 years after its first victory with the race. That was followed by an IRC class win in the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race. The campaign wraps up this August with the Rolex Fastnet Race, which Dorade won overall in 1931 and 1933.

HOW TO FOLLOW:

  • For frequent updates between events and during racing, follow Dorade on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Hashtag: #DoradeSailing #ReturnToBlueWater
  • For full race reports and updates from the team, visit http://Dorade.org/blog/
  • Real-time tracking of Dorade will be available during the 2015 Transatlantic Race through the event’s YellowBrick system (link will be available next week)
  • For updates on the entire 2015 Transatlantic Fleet, follow the event on Facebook and at http://transatlanticrace.org/

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And because we love a good video – take a ride on Dorade to Bermuda…

 

The Whitbread Around the World Race Film

Having just come down from the high of having the Volvo Ocean Race in town (Newport) for the only North American stopover, we bring you this oldy-but-goody video of the 1973-74 Whitbread Race – the very first edition of this circumnavigation race.  Unlike the current version of this race (now called the Volvo Ocean Race), there were no onboard reporters with video cameras being forced in faces and no daily blogs from the boats. Very few videos exist at all – and from the 73-74 edition there were some great clips to include in this video which also features lots of photos from the race.

The video really points out how far this race has come. From the boats used in the race, to the kind of sailors (now all pros) that were invited along, it had a flavor of serious ocean racing but this newer Volvo Race has embraced the “extreme” angle, and with good reason. Modern audiences watching VOR YouTube and Facebook videos that are only hours old and are coming from every entry, scream that this is a dangerous and definitely very extreme undertaking.

Three sailors were swept overboard during this Whitbread Race and two were never recovered. (Paul Waterhouse and Dominique Guillet). French sailor, Eric Tabarly,  entered his famous ocean racer, Pen Duick VI, which never finished the race due to mast failure, but he later raced the boat singlehanded into Newport, winning the transatlantic race with his boat, built to be sailed with twelve aboard. There is plenty of amazing history in this film, and aside from the now comical comments about “modern” navigation equipment and other zingers like it – it’s a great movie for sailing buffs.

So take a trip back in time and enjoy some history of the birth of what is one of the coolest and craziest races on the ocean.  And decide for yourselves if you would have rahter sailed with Sir Peter Blake on his sturdy entry in ’73, or perhaps with the crazies out there on Volvo Ocean 65’s who are currently crossing oceans and blogging daily about their extreme adventure at sea.