Archive | January, 2012

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Slow-moving in Singapore…

Posted on 31 January 2012 by Valencia Sailing

Slow-moving in Singapore…

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Energy Team promo 2012

Posted on 31 January 2012 by Valencia Sailing

Energy Team promo 2012

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Close-hauled, riding the waves

Posted on 31 January 2012 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Groupama Sailing Team] Goodbye to the Straits of Malacca and hello to the South China Sea! For the past day, the fleet has rid itself of meteorological uncertainties to once again link up with the north-easterly monsoon on their sprint of nearly 1,000 miles to Sanya. This will involve a long beat where the main difficulty will lie in playing the wind shifts and finding the right compromise between the Vietnamese gale and the perfect trajectory…

We’re in the process of falling into some light airs, which weren’t forecast and we’re considering how best to manoeuvre in response to these new conditions. It’s not an easy period for us as we thought we’d get pass the Anambas islands more easily… The atmosphere is a bit tense and everyone’s on deck! It’s nightfall and we can still see Telefonica’s nav lights: they’ve made pretty good gains on us over the past half hour when we ended up in this wind hole. Puma has also been within sight of us since this morning, but they’ve headed over to the other side of the race zone. The shipping has calmed down considerably since we exited the Singapore Straits and we’re entering a more open sea, which is just as well as the waters are more deserted now. We’re satisfied with our lot, even though we’d have liked to have been ahead of the Spanish, who are sailing well and fast, particularly upwind!” said Franck Cammas during the noon videoconference this Tuesday.

Franck Cammas helming Groupama 4. Photo copyright Yann Riou / Groupama Sailing Team

Exiting the archipelago

Midway through the night (local time, UTC +7), the Spanish were the first to leave the lights of Singapore in their wake, with Groupama 4 some three miles behind and Puma seven miles astern of them. Franck Cammas and his men then linked onto the long beat which awaits the fleet in their climb up to China. The first imperative in this journey is to get away from the coast as quickly as possible, so as to hook onto a monsoon system which is less disturbed by the effects of land, before making northing to quickly escape the archipelagos dotted about between Malaysia and Borneo (Anambas, Bunguran, Natanu-Besar, Mida…). Indeed, aside from the fact that these islands cause some extremely localised, pernicious effects, as Franck Cammas observed at noon this Tuesday, the route will be completely clear from 5°N and the temperatures will become more bearable.

The next 800 miles are going to be complicated, sailing into the wind with fairly heavy seas along the coast of Vietnam: there’s a fine battle in perspective and we’re on the pace. Right now we have between ten and thirteen knots and gains and losses will be very fast in the making. The configuration of the end of this leg doesn’t really lend itself to any major strategic coups and everyone is likely to adopt approximately the same route to get around Vietnam. To have the leader within our sights motivates the whole crew: there are various stakes at play as well as tension, but we’ve made good progress on our weak points (upwind and light airs). We pulled off some good tactical coups in the Straits of Malacca and our confidence is building, though we’re not yet in front!

A crescendo tempo

The current game plan involves getting into the right rhythm for tack changes, which is essential for maintaining (or even increasing) our lead over the Americans, whilst keeping an eye on the courses adopted by Camper and Abu Dhabi, who opted to remain offshore of the islands. Above all though, the crew is keen to hook up with Telefonica, and even overtake her thanks to a good option. Now that they’re out of the Straits of Malacca, the crews no longer have the heading and speed of their rivals on a permanent basis. Instead the AIS (positioning system using VHF radio) has been replaced by the usual 3-hourly position report. As a result it’s become more difficult to anticipate the reactions of their rivals if they’re not within sight, particularly at night when the nav lights only carry for one or two miles.

It’s a pretty demanding leg in terms of trimming and concentration on deck. We’re happy to have escaped it without damage because the Straits of Malacca contain a huge amount of objects floating in the water. The only thing that got hit by a lump of wood was a rudder. We sailed through various fishing nets and Groupama 4 is unharmed. Right now, we’re tackling some long beats in our drive northwards, but that won’t last all the way to Sanya… There are some fine wind rotations to be exploited and we now know the major options which are on the cards: we’re going to make considerably fewer manoeuvres than of recent days for sure!

Standing at 1600 UTC
Telefonica 888.6 miles to the finish
Groupama 4 some 3.6 miles astern of the leader
Puma 11.6 miles astern of the leader
Abu Dhabi 74 miles astern of the leader
Camper 84.7 miles astern of the leader
Sanya 179.7 miles astern of the leader

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Emirates Team New Zealand AC45 relaunched at Auckland

Posted on 31 January 2012 by Valencia Sailing

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Update from Terry Hutchinson

Posted on 31 January 2012 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: America's Cup] The Artemis Racing sailing team begins its 2012 training program this week in Valencia, Spain, with a two-boat training session on the team’s two AC45s. For skipper Terry Hutchinson, this is a chance to begin ‘chipping away’ at what he calls a ‘laundry list of things we have to work on to get better’.

“I think that having the two AC45s will make a big difference to our training,” Hutchinson says. “I think what we’re after is consistency. In the America’s Cup World Series Cascais as well as in Plymouth and San Diego we showed moments in all three regattas of really good sailing and then we showed some less good moments, so it’s a matter of improving our consistency.

“I really think by spending time on the AC45s, both in training and in developing our equipment… It’s just a case where we need to put in the hours and practise the same way we race, focusing on small improvements.”

Thinking ahead to launching the team’s first AC72 later this summer, Hutchinson says he’s looking at the giant catamaran with equal parts awe and respect, with a little bit of trepidation mixed in as well.

“This boat will be something that will bite you very, very hard the moment you don’t respect it,” he said. “The good side is that we all respect what we’re getting ready to take on. You have to apply a lot of common sense and logic and not be afraid to leave your ego on the dock. We’re really luck to have Rodney (Ardern – pitman) and Curtis (Blewett – bowman) bringing along the experiences they had with Alinghi in 2010.”

Hutchinson also says sailing the ORMA trimaran last year was useful for the sailing team to get accustomed to flying along at speeds near 30 knots. But he adds that neither the 60 foot trimaran, nor the AC45 is directly comparable to the AC72 the team currently has under construction in Sweden.

The trimaran has a completely different stability profile compared to the catamaran he says and the AC45 is “dramatically smaller and underpowered when you compare it to the AC72.”

Like many of his brethren in the Cup world, the experienced Hutchinson is clearly on a steeper learning curve and often sailing out of his comfort zone these days, something the winter training sessions in Valencia should help alleviate. And while he’s looking forward to getting back on the America’s Cup World Series circuit this summer, he’s also excited about spending more time in San Francisco in 2013, where the Bay holds some good memories of success.

“I love San Francisco,” he says. “I won a Farr 40 world championship there, I won a J24 world championship there and a J24 North American championship as well. It’s going to be great sailing on the Bay again.”

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Telefonica lead the way into the South China Sea

Posted on 30 January 2012 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Team Telefonica] The Malacca Strait is now history for “Telefónica”. At 16:05 UTC today (Monday January 30th) the crew headed up by Iker Martínez passed Horsburgh Light, the point where the South China Sea begins. More stable conditions are expected from here, but incredibly difficult ones: strong headwinds that will mean that the Spanish boat is expecting a long upwind slog to Sanya (China).

“Telefónica” entered the Malacca Strait last Friday, 27th of January and from that moment on, the crew has defended the lead on this second stage of the third leg in the Volvo Ocean Race. In total the boat took some 75 hours and 55 minutes – over three days of racing, to put the ‘hellish’ Malacca Strait behind them and to get back into racing on the high seas.

Antonio Cuervas-Mons “Ñeti” explained that “we haven’t slept much over the past few days. It’s really hot, there are a lot of manoeuvres to do and there’s very little breeze – which makes it a bit stressful, and has meant that the boats have all been very close together, but we can already see the light at the end of the tunnel.

For Neal McDonald, these have been “intense days and we’ve had to work really hard. There hasn’t been much breeze and we’ve been within sight of each other more or less the whole time. After some very different conditions and other various occurrences seeing two boats is incredible. We’ve had enormous wind shifts, tornados… all of the sorts of things you can expect to get in this part of the world, but I hadn’t experienced them yet sailing.

On course for China, upwind

It’s hoped that in the South China Sea the conditions will stabilise and according to the reports, “Telefónica” will be facing medium to strong breeze with upwind sailing for four to five days of competition, a situation that is considered as incredibly positive on board the Spanish boat: “The boat is well thought-out for these conditions. We think that we have some great sailors on board, our sail inventory is good and we are comfortable in these types of conditions. I think that any of the three boats in front, leading the fleet at the moment could take it on”, confirmed Neal McDonald.

“Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons voiced the fighting spirit on board the boat with the exclamation that “We’ve got to keep on fighting!

Who lives in a house like this?

After nine days of racing and now at the height of the Equator, the effects of the extreme hard work are beginning to show, as Ñeti Cuervas-Mons pointed out: “It’s like a sauna in here. There are eleven guys who stink to the high heavens and the water is at 27ºC to 28ºC and the food is warm. It’s uncomfortable inside the boat. The good thing is that we are so tired that the little time we have available for sleeping, we really sleep, but it’s hard.

PROVISIONAL RANKINGS STAGE 2 – LEG 3
Day 9 – 18:00 UTC – 30th January 2012

1 Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 1,065.8 miles from finish
2 Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), +4.1 miles
3 Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +9.5 miles
4 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +24.6 miles
5 Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +26.4 miles
6 Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +177.7 miles

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Puma lose Volvo Ocean Race leadership due to fishing net

Posted on 30 January 2012 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Puma Ocean Racing] Yesterday I said it was going to be a make or break 24 hours. It appears now — after a full 24 hours — that we were headed for a breaking.

Mar Mostro pulled to within a few hundred yards of Groupama and Telefónica late yesterday, and we were able to match them for most of last night staying offshore while they chose the inshore route; at one point we might have been ahead.

Then came the hostile confrontation with a submerged net early this morning and it cost us a good hour of progress and 10 or so miles on the charts.

Far worse, while untangling the tangled we sat idle as the dwindling night winds vanished, and we now find ourselves struggling in a windless transition zone while the leaders sail away in the old breeze and the trailers catch up in the new. It is upsetting.

Can it get any closer in a round-the-world race? Malacca Strait, 29 January 2012. Photo copyright Amory / Puma Ocean Racing

We are now closer to CAMPER and Abu Dhabi than we are the other two. Like I said: make or break, and we broke.

Not exactly our fault, but nonetheless, it’s another gut-wrenching setback of the likes we haven’t been able to avoid all race. Fortunately there is still a lot of track left, decisions to be made, and comebacks to be had.

Everything else on board remains relatively unchanged, or in some cases even enhanced.

It has actually found a way to get hotter — shocking, and freeze-dried flatulence is at an all-time high. Several new challengers for supremacy have surfaced, too. I’m proud to say that I’m a boy amongst men in that contest, but it’s true, there’s something in the air (or the food) that’s taking things to a new level. Ohhhh the wonders of live on board entertainment…and it’s only day eight!

Amory

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Spindrift racing MOD70 n°5 launch

Posted on 30 January 2012 by Valencia Sailing

Spindrift racing MOD70 n°5 launch

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