Brian Hancock

Putting the foot to the floor

1 Jun

With a race that spans more than 45,000 nautical miles, there are many opportunities for snatching victory or having victory snatched from you and it comes down to consistency. Consistency when the wind is up and the boats are hitting blazing speeds, and consistency when the last puff fades within spitting distance of the finish line and steely nerves come into play. Those teams that are able to play at peak performance no matter what hand they are dealt are the ones that come out on top and there was no better example of this than the incredible performance turned ...
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Records fall and a nail biting finish in the Volvo Ocean Race

29 May
Wet and wild and record setting

This Volvo Ocean Race is turning out to be one of the best and most badass in history and much of the basassness was captured in Leg 9, the transatlantic blast from Newport, Rhode Island to Cardiff in Whales. The leg started off fairly benign but it soon turned into a battle of wits as the fleet diverged with Brunel, Vestas and AkzoNobel diving south in search of a chicane that they could ride. Turned out that they indeed found a slice of perfect sailing conditions and four days after the start it was ...
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Not an open and shut case

24 May

Ant Steward’s recently refit Open Boat

I don’t mean to be too picky about this but I was not the one that started it.  I wrote a piece about the amazing solo circumnavigation by the Polish sailor Szymon Kuczynski and compared it to a similar small boat voyage done by the South African sailor Ant Steward back in the early nineties. Ant sailed his ...
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The hard yards – Volvo Ocean Race

22 May

It’s somewhat of a dichotomy that an event like the Volvo Ocean Race, which covers over 45,000 nautical miles and spans close to nine months, is won and lost in the tiniest of moments. Take for example the heartbreak that was felt on board the Dutch yacht Team Brunel when, after leading for most of Leg 8, they had their victory snatched from them in the final few minutes of the leg when the Spanish entry Mapfre snuck by them in light winds and in thick fog to cross the finish line in first place. There was not a thing ...
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Around the world the hard way

21 May
Szymon Kuczynski aboard Puffin
It’s getting harder and harder to do something original in sailing, something that someone before you has not already done. There was a time when a circumnavigation was considered a mammoth accomplishment especially if it was a singlehanded voyage around the world. Now you have to sail three times around the world without stopping and with one hand tied behind your ...
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Lock ’em up, lock ’em up…

21 May

The VOR fleet in Newport, RI

I should know better than to step into this quagmire but sometimes I just can’t help myself. This, coming from someone who has been chucked out of a number of bars in my lifetime, is going to sound a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. However, I think it’s a bit of a disgrace (well maybe that’s ...
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16 May

The Open 60 “Imagine”

Imagine… such lovely word but what a nightmare of a project it turned out to be. Imagine was/is (dunno if the boat still exists) an Open 60 built for an American skipper planning on participating in the BOC single-handed around-the-world race. He got his sponsorship from a Colorado aluminium company, the same one that makes the beer cans for Coors brewery.
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Tense finish to Volvo Ocean Race Leg 8

8 May

That moment when Mapfre found a puff and overtook Team Brunel – Kristin Browne photo

This morning’s finish of Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race was both excruciating to watch, and extremely exciting. Yes I know; the top speed was barely one knot and the fog so thick it was all but impossible to see the yachts, but it was still very exciting. For
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To go or not to go – that’s the question

2 May
The 33-foot sailboat Hecate aground on the beach. Screen shot from CBS SF Channel 5 click for link.


When I started out sailing for a living in the late 70’s there was no money in it, well very little. I made ends meet by repairing sails for other boats on my hand crank Singer sewing machine, banged out articles on an old manual typewriter ...
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Sure footed

30 Apr

Racing sailboats is more like playing a game of snakes and ladders than it is playing a game of chess. Navigators pride themselves on plotting a strategy that is five steps ahead of their opponents, and sometimes their strategy works. Other times, well, it’s just a slippery ride down the back of some random snake, at least that’s how it feels for the seven boats competing in the eighth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Since leaving Itajaí, Brazil the boats have been sailing upwind in moderate conditions not unlike a bunch of dinghy sailors short tacking up a windward ...
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