Iceberg Alley

16 Dec

Ice in the Southern Ocean at 30 knots is a scary prospect. And Banque Populaire has an ice field astride the fast route to Cape Horn, so it is diverting north and headed for a region of light winds.

That's the bad news. The good news is that the descent to the Horn after that is looking good. It's all about keeping the boat in one piece, and they are in a zone of maximum risk. So for the moment it's better to be smart than daring.

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Volvo Update

15 Dec

The Volvo Ocean Race is shuffling around off the bottom of Africa, trying to find the best route north to Abu Dhabi, and here's what you need to know:

The boats are through the washing machine of the Agulhas Current and no one dropped a rig. So that's good.

There was a big fleet split to get there, with Groupama again showing a penchant for wild gambles. So far, that's not so good (for them).

Telefonica, again with smart tactics and smooth sailing, is establishing itself as the class of the fleet. Nice to see an ocean race in which ...

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Vestas SailRocket: Foiled Again

14 Dec

A bad day for Paul Larsen and his intrepid speedsters. Their latest speed sailing session is over and they were plagued by the strange behavaior of every speed foil they plugged into their otherworldly craft. Here's a summary of the final day action (full report here):

We did 5 runs today. 3 slow, 1 grounding and 1 moderately fast run. I'm not happy. I can't believe we didn't even achieve a 50 knot average throughout this record attempt. I really can't believe it. Well it wasn't for lack of trying… or pushing.

I'll summarise the whole session in

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The Story Of PUMA’s Leg 1

14 Dec

You never need to miss anything these days. The creative team at PUMA puts out a nice video summary of how PUMA got to Cape Town despite dropping its rig in the South Atlantic.


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Banque Populaire Truly In The South

14 Dec

The big maxi-trimaran has had a dream run so far, and is passing New Zealand after just 20 days. But now it gets trickier as they are at 56S and the Southern Ocean threatens BP's 2000 mile lead over Groupama 3 with strong winds and boat-threatening conditions, then light air, and, to top it all off, a big depression as they descend toward Cape Horn. But that's what they (and we) signed up for.

For the first time, their daily video really looks as if they are in the Southern Ocean. 

And here is the report from the boat, via ...

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Dept. Of Sublime Moments: Double Rainbow

13 Dec

The Volvo Ocean Race is as hard-core as sailing gets. But when there is no wind, there is no wind, and you have to take what the sea gods give you.

In this case, the sea gods have seen fit to bestow a beautiful double-rainbow on the long-suffering crew of PUMA. They no doubt are grateful. But there is one thing, and one thing only, that they care about after dropping their rig in Leg 1: winning this leg to Abu Dhabi and clawing their way back into the running (which is possible only because two other boats–in other ...

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