Isbjorn Offshore: Upwind to Lunenburg

8 Jul
It was spinnaker sailing for the first day out from Newport. Once around Nantucket, we opted to route the boat outside around Georges Bank in the hopes of keeping the following breeze for longer. Fog would be in the mix regardless, as WRI warned in their briefing prior to departing Newport. Read More

Big picture routing and Totem’s plans

7 Jul
The Mystic river was blanketed with fog when we poked our heads into the cockpit this morning. Totem is anchored roughly between Mason’s Island and Noank: the shoreline is only about six boat-lengths away, but impossible to see. We had to get a compass direction to know which way to point the dinghy to go […] Read More

Offshore Medical Emergency: Dealing with Appendicitis 90 Miles Out

7 Jul
Andy gets appendicitis on Isbjorn's Leg 6, from Annapolis to Lunenburg. They were 90 miles south of Newport when the symptoms got bad enough to warrant a diversion. Here's the story of what happened onboard, how the surgery went, where the business stands and how Andy made it back onto the boat only 12 hours after entering the hospital. This will post as a podcast on Tuesday July 12. Read More

New solo 24-hour record set

5 Jul
The massive trimaran Macif

While most of us in the United States were enjoying a long July 4th weekend, out on the water there was a new record being set. French sailor François Gabart aboard his huge trimaran Macif set a new single-handed 24-hour record covering a whopping 785 miles between July 2 and July 3. Let me save you from having to do the math and tell you that’s an average speed of 32.7 knots.  C’est incroyable as one would say to a frenchman.

Gabart left New York on July 1 and was on a mission to break the solo transatlantic record from Sandy Hook, NJ to Lizard Point on the southwest coast of England. The current record has been held by another Frenchman (surprise surprise) by the name of Francis Joyon since June 2013, and with a fast start Gabart looked to be in a position to better his time of five days and a couple of hours. That was until heavy thunderstorms appeared to have damaged his electronics. “The autopilot stopped working twice without warning,” Gabart reported. “I was able to take action in both instances to take over steering, but I do not think it would be a good idea to continue sailing at top speed with the sword of Damocles hanging over me. I do not want to take any unnecessary risk with regard to the boat.”

Can you imagine sailing at 30 knots all alone on a huge trimaran and without warning the autopilot let’s go? Luckily he was awake and able to regain control but think for a moment how quickly things could have gone pear-shaped had he been trying to get a little rest. These sailors like Gabart and Joyon, the current record holder, are some kind of superhuman beings but even superhuman’s have to sleep. It must take nerves of steel (or sheer exhaustion) to nap on a boat that is sailing in excess of 30 knots. 

The 24-hour record that Gabart broke was held by yet another Frenchman by the name of Thomas Coville. His distance was 718.5 nautical miles at an average speed of 29.93 knots. Gabart didn’t just beat his record, he smashed it and also became the first person ever to maintain an average speed of over 30 knots for a 24-hour period.

François Gabart now not only holds the 24-hour record single-handed on a multihull but he also holds the record on a monohull. During the last Vendée Globe, which by the way he won, he logged 545.34 miles on his IMOCA60 (also named Macif). I have never met Gabart but I know many people who know him well and they say that he is the nicest, kindest and most approachable person and is a real ambassador for the sport. I would really like to tell him in person that he is a truly inspirational person who simply sets aside the enormity of a challenge and just goes for it. I could only wish to be that fearless.


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Brian Hancock – owner Great Circle Sails


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John Franta on Rigging Tech.

4 Jul
We start the discussion by focusing on one of John’s most recent inventions, the so-called ‘ELHF’ furling system, and I use that as a sort of primer for discussing in general how he comes up with new ideas and what the design and production life cycle is like. John is as pure an engineer as there is, and LOVES the technical aspects of running a synthetic yacht rigging company, and it’s a joy to hear him talk about his passions so, well, passionately! He gets to play with CAD and 3D printers all day long, so what’s not to like (if you’re an engineer!). Read More

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