Brian Hancock

Dumb luck or not – you decide

22 Jan
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag – Leg 4 winners

Like many other sailors out there I have become a tad obsessed with the Volvo Ocean Race tracker especially at the start and finish of each leg. And I confess that  in the last few days I have been keeping a close eye on the Hong Kong entry Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. Some that read my stuff on a regular basis will know that I am not a big fan of David Witt, the skipper, although I have never met him and he may indeed be a great guy in person. ...
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Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag win into Hong Kong

19 Jan
Scallywag approaching the finish line in Hong Kong


It was a hometown heroes welcome for David Witt and his crew aboard Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag as they rocketed into Hong Kong to take their first leg win of the Volvo Ocean Race. The racing had been intense since the Scallywag team snatched a surprising come-from-behind lead as the hunters hunted them with every bit of grit and determination, but they fended off all challengers by employing a well known inshore tactical strategy; they placed themselves squarely between those chasing and the finish line, and the tactic paid in spades. By

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Man overboard in the Volvo Ocean Race

18 Jan

Crewmember Alex Gough being helped back on board

Over the years I have been pretty outspoken about the use of lifejackets and safety harnesses, and have received my fair share of grief from readers who have a different opinion. Basically I view it as a personal responsibility kind of thing. You know when you need either, or both, and it should be up to you to decide what’s best for you. I am, however, having to rethink things a little after the recent man overboard incident in the Volvo Ocean Race.

We are told that the sailors racing in the
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Spindrift 2 dismasted

16 Jan
Spindrift 2 dismasted
There is a superstition among sailors that it’s bad luck to change the name of a boat. According to legend, when a boat is named the name is recorded in the ‘Ledger of the Deep’ and is known personally to Neptune, the god of the sea. If you want to change the name of a boat you need to consult Neptune first (not exactly sure how you go about doing so) otherwise the renamed boat will invoke Neptune’s wrath and bad things will happen. I personally don’t go along with legends and superstitions but I am starting ...
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New life for an old boat

10 Jan
 
I often wonder what happens to old boats. There must be thousands of yachts that were once commissioned, designed, built and raced hard, and then pretty much forgotten. I was sure that this was what had happened to a boat I used to race on in the early 80s. The boat was designed by German Frers, built by Palmer Johnson in Wisconsin, and owned by Chuck Kirsh and Jack Batts. Chuck Kirsh made his money as founder of Kirsh Curtain Rods (one in every home) and Batts pioneered injection-molding coat hangers. There’s money in coat hangers I guess. The boat ...
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Fazisi, it ain’t easy

4 Jan
Fazisi, the Soviet Union’s first, and by happenstance, last entry in the Whitbread Race

When she was first launched there was a saying going around, “Fazisi, it ain’t easy,” and I guess it was prophetic as the iconic Soviet yacht was recently spotted on a barge being hauled to points unknown. Fazisi was one of hundreds of yachts that were washed ashore as Hurricane Irma slammed its way across the Caribbean. The boat was badly beached and battered and I wonder if this time it’s finally broken.
I have a special place in my heart for Fazisi. You see back ...
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Record time for Sydney Hobart race.

27 Dec
 Wild Oats XI overtakes LDV Comanche to take the lead – photo credit www.adventuresofasailorgirl.com

A Boxing Day start is always a little tricky for a long offshore ocean race. First you have to deal with that Christmas pud and a couple of beers still sloshing around in your belly and then you have to deal with the forecast, which, in the case of the Sydney to Hobart race is usually not very pretty. This year was different, however, and the sailors participating in this iconic race woke up to a very pleasant forecast that promised a fast and relatively easy
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Slippery when wet

19 Dec

I saw on the Volvo Ocean Race website that Annie Lush, one of two women racing aboard Team Brunel, was injured when she and Peter Burling (remember him?) were washed into the aft guardrails by an errant wave. Burling was fine but Annie was in very real pain. “It felt like one of the wires had done something inside,” she said. “I had a big pain in my right hand side and couldn’t really move my right leg and I really needed to get off deck because we needed to gybe for the ice gate.” She continued, “I tried to
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Done and dusted – new record set

17 Dec
No need to caption this – just awesome

I don’t think that I have enough superlatives in my already superlative soaked vocabulary to describe how amazing the new solo, nonstop circumnavigation record just set by French sailor François Gabart is. His immaculate performance is a feat that will, in my opinion be unmatched in a generation. Yes I know I said that last year when Thomas Coville set the record that Gabart has just obliterated, but this is beyond superhuman. François Gabart is, in my humble opinion, the best offshore sailor; ever. Period. Yes I know there was the great
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A blog is not an article

15 Dec
There is a difference between a blog and an article. I know, because I write both but on balance 90% of my writing these days are my various blogs. Blogs, at least the way I view things, are there to provoke a conversation, to get people thinking and talking (and arguing if necessary). I recently wrote a piece about the new America’s Cup design saying that I didn’t much care for it. As you can imagine I got some hate mail but at least I didn’t get a death threat like the one I got when I wrote a piece ...
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