Just one of the awful images from the ’79 Fastnet Race
It has been 36 years since I raced the disastrous ’79 Fastnet. For those that don’t recall what happened an intense low pressure system passed over the fleet decimating a large portion of it. The event was part of the Admiral’s Cup and attracted not only the best sailors in the world, but also many, many amateurs whose only offshore experience was the biennial race. It was a combination of a number of inexperienced sailors, shallow water in the Irish Sea, and an un-forecasted low that led to the ... Read More
The start of the mini Transat from Douarnenez, France – photo credit Jacques Vapillon
This past Saturday the Mini Transat started from the tiny town of Douarnenez located in Brittany in the northwest region of France. There are 72, yes 72 boats competing, an enormous fleet of futuristic boats all headed for Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe with a stop along the way in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. It’s 1,250 nautical miles from France to the Canary Islands, and 2,770 miles from the Canaries to the Caribbean for a total course distance of just over 4,000 miles. The Mini Transat is raced in ...
I was interested to read that Knut Frostad was stepping down as CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race. Curious as to why I went online to read the official statement and then something hit me. Knut was only six years old when the first edition of the race, known then as the Whitbread Round the World Race, took place. Last week the Whitbread/Volvo celebrated 42 years since the first race back in 1973 and how things have changed. On the VOR website there is a photo of the very dashing crew of a boat called Second Life. I know that ... Read More
This past weekend there was a tragic death aboard one of the boats competing in the Clipper Round the World Race. A crew member, Andrew Ashman, was struck on the head by either the mainsheet or the boom, or both, and died of his injuries. It was the first fatality in an around-the-world race in a long time and it begs the question “is it safe to race around the world with paying amateur crew?” I am going to answer that right up front and say yes, but let’s take a look at the issue.
Crews competing in the ... Read More
The 97-foot Qingdao China getting ready for a trip through the Northeast Passage
These days it’s getting harder and harder to do something in sailing that’s never been done before. It used to be that a solo circumnavigation was enough. Then it had to be non-stop, then it had to be non-stop the wrong way around. In the late 70’s I met an Australian by the name of Jon Sanders who had done a solo, non-stop circumnavigation and was setting out to do a single-handed, double, non-stop circumnavigation. Once he completed his double he decided that he needed to better ...
I watched a really great movie last night. Maidentrip, a documentary about Laura Dekker and her solo circumnavigation to become the youngest person ever to make a lap of the planet. It was great on so many levels but what resonated with me most was that when I was a teenager I read the book Dove by Robin Lee Graham, the California kid who set off at 16 to become the youngest person ever to sail alone around the world. I could not get enough of the book and a series of articles that came out in National Geographic, but ... Read More
Rambler 88 drifting around Fastnet Rock
There is a single word that sums up the Fastnet Race currently underway from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, around the Fastnet Rock off the coast of Ireland, and back to Plymouth on the south coast of England, and that word is breathless. Yup breathless as in no wind and definitely not from too much breath taking action. The 90th anniversary of this iconic event has been a driftathon of gigantic proportions, an epic event of just about nothing.
The race attracted a record fleet of 356 boats among them some of the ... Read More
When my children were small one of their favorite books was The Wreck of the Zephyr by Chris Van Allsburg. The story was about a boy and his obsession to become the world’s greatest sailor. He so badly wanted to be the best that by sheer willpower he was able to coax his boat out of the water to fly above the waves. It was a fanciful story but my kids would always finish the book and say, “boats will never fly.”
Fast forward a few years and what do we have; flying boats and boats that almost fly. Since ...
The mighty Spindrift – just a stunningly beautiful boat
Fall is shaping up to be the battle of the giants. Two of the biggest racing sailboats are gearing up for one of sailing’s toughest challenges; a non-stop lap of the planet to claim the Jules Verne Trophy, or by it’s real name Le Trophée Jules-Verne. Francis Joyon, the humble French sailor who currently holds the record for the fastest solo, non-stop circumnavigation will sail IDEC, while Yann Guichard and Dona Bertarelli are readying the giant trimaran Spindrift, each with an eye to break the existing record ...
Bernard Moitessier was one of the competitors in the first Golden Globe race. Nearing the finish he decided that he didn’t want his time at sea to end so he turned around and sailed to Tahiti.
Has some of the true adventure been lost from modern day ocean racing? My first long offshore race was the Parmelia Race, a 13,000 mile jaunt from England to Australia. Nothing compares with rolling through the Southern Ocean trying to snatch a sun sight after five days of grey skies knowing that you are fast approaching the coast of Western Australia, but not really