Brian Hancock

Teenage Record Setters

1 Oct

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 ...
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Fastnet Force 0

30 Sep
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 256 boats among them some of the ...
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Flying boats

29 Sep
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 ...
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Bring it on – the origins of Le Trophée Jules-Verne

28 Sep
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 of 45 days, 13 ...
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Blood Moon Rising

28 Sep
There has been a story circulating around the Internet lately that has really got my goat. I thought that I might just let it pass but then it popped up again on my Facebook page and I took that as a sign to say something. The story was published in Australia’s Daily Telegraph. I am not sure if it was only online or in a print version, but it doesn’t matter. The headline, in 75pt font, read: Sydney to Hobart: Former model Kristy Hinze-Clarke out to create race history with Comanche.

OK let me start again by saying I have ...
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Golden Globe Race revisited

27 Sep
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.

Some of the true adventure has been lost from modern day ocean racing. I am thinking back to my first long offshore race, the Parmelia Race, a 13,000  mile jaunt  from England to Australia. There is nothing quite like 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 ...
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Worthy or not – you decide

26 Sep
Lending Club en route to Hawaii – photo credit Lending Club crew

It was fantastic to see Ryan Breymeyer and his team on Lending Club demolish the Transpacific record this past weekend. They sailed a superb passage and knocked more than a day off the record time set by the curmudgeon Olivier de Kersauson on Geronimo. To be fair Lending Club is 15-feet longer than Geronimo, but either way you look at it they had an amazing record breaking crossing. This is a young crew pushing the envelope on decent but not extravagant budget.

I contrast this with the recent ...
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Age is just a number

25 Sep

When I was in the army in South Africa I used to run long races. Half marathons and such. I would be running just fine until I saw some old bugger overtake me. I would look at the guy and think jeez how can a guy that age be running so fast. He must be at least 40. Yip these days I am pushing 60 and I can run further and faster than I could when I was 20. Which brings me to my story. It was really great to see Robin Knox-Johnston and his merry crew demolish the Transatlantic ...
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Ellen in the house

24 Sep

I first met Ellen MacArthur in 1999. She was relatively unknown then, at least to the sailing community. She was a young British girl that had done a bit of sailing. I had heard of her because she had sailed the Mini-Transat and I was a big fan of the event. I got a call from my friend, the yacht designer Merf Owen. He told me his girlfriend wanted to charter my boat for the Route du Rhum race but had very little money. He said her name was Ellen MacArthur and she was hoping to do the Vendée Globe ...
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23 Sep
French sailor Laurent Bourgnon is missing

The Swiss sailor Laurent Bourgnon was reported missing on Thursday after failing to return from a diving trip in French Polynesia. Laurent who, you ask? Well let me clarify that. If you are a non-European you probably have never heard of him and wonder why this is big news. If you are Swiss or French he is a household name, a sailing superstar, someone small French kids aspire to be, someone to whom the French President awarded the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest honor, equivalent to America’s Presidential Medal of Freedom. So yes Bourgnon is ...
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