VOR – Team Vestas Wind Navigator Wouter Verbraak’s first interview after shipwreck – images and subtitles courtesy NOS Sport. Interview by Sailing Anarchy.
COOL BOAT DESIGNS – For all you scow lovers out there, check out this new design designed by Thomas Tison and penned by Peter Gustafsson.
Thomas Tison and Nomad Composites (Benoit Quemener) are to launch an extreme and innovative single handed dinghy this winter.
The TT Scow has been designed with only speed in mind. It is the only recent dinghy to have an unstayed canting wing mast for improved aerodynamic efficiency. It also has a scow hull shape for improved form stability. Buailt to a high standard in carbon fibre, it is the ideal dinghy for adults, especially those who like to sail fast, with minimum constraints and on a nicely finished and exclusive boat.
The prototype has been built and will be undergoing testing this winter in France. It will then be on display in Europe and in the USA.
AC NEWS – Team Principal, Ben Ainslie looks back at some of the highlights of an incredible year for BAR. They are preparing to ‘win’ the Cup back for England.
VOR – Team Vestas Wind’s stranded Volvo Ocean 65 boat has been retrieved from a remote reef in the Indian Ocean and on Monday (Dec. 22) was heading on a round-trip via Mauritius and Malaysia back to Europe.
Beginning Friday (Dec. 19), after three days’ planning, the Volvo Ocean Race boat was gingerly floated clear of the reef in St Brandon on Sunday evening (Dec. 21), where it had laid since November 29, and on to a nearby lagoon.
From there it was lifted on to a waiting Maersk Line ship to complete the delicate first stage of an operation, which could yet see the boat being reconstructed.
The shore manager of Team Vestas Wind, Neil Cox, and the boat’s skipper, Chris Nicholson (AUS), oversaw the complicated process of extracting it from the rock where it was trapped.
Nicholson had led his crew to safety just over three weeks ago after the boat ran aground on the reef, 430 kilometres from Mauritius, at around 19 knots (35 kph), in the middle of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Volvo Ocean Race COO Tom Touber explained that the retrieval was achieved thanks to meticulous planning beforehand in which several scenarios were explored with a detailed plan of action for each.
“Our preferred plan – to rescue the boat as intact as possible – worked out,” he said. He paid tribute to the race’s shipping partners, Maersk Line, and their retrieval company, Svitzer, which had played a large role in the operation. “We have had awesome co-operation,” he said. “They were a dream to work with.”
Touber continued: “For both ourselves and the sponsors of the boat – Vestas and (sub-sponsors) Powerhouse – it was also completely key that we made sure that the environment in this beautiful part of the world was looked after too.”
Team Vestas Wind CEO and Vestas Chief Marketing Officer, Morten Albæk, added his voice to the praise for Maersk and the residents of the island who assisted with the retrieval.
“We have been in contact with the shore manager of Team Vestas Wind, Neil Cox, throughout and were so relieved to hear that the operation to lift the boat intact on to the ship was a complete success thanks to great teamwork involving Maersk, our team, Volvo Ocean Race and the local people.
“For us, the environmental side of this project was a key objective. It’s mission accomplished. We’ll make an announcement on the outlook regarding a potential return to the 2014-15 race before the start of Leg 3 (January 3).”
Cox added: “We had to bounce slightly and re-invent the wheel, we just needed to be very careful and just make sure that we finished the job swiftly.”
It was a job which was always going to be fraught with difficulty – but even more so after three days of working around the clock to clear the area and ensure the structural integrity of the boat.
“We’ve been really lucky that from the minute the incident happened, we’ve developed a relationship with the guys who actually live on the island here,” he said.
“We’ve employed the workforce that already exists out here, and without it we couldn’t have done the job, full stop. There’s probably a work force of 10 guys.
“They’ve been standing knee deep in water with waves hitting them all day, they’ve been carrying oxygen bottles for us to be able to cut the keel off, they’ve been helping us re-anchor the boat otherwise things would start moving across the reef.”
Cox was cautious about over-promising on next steps – the boat will be checked out more fully in Malaysia before heading to Europe, possibly Italy, for a rebuild.
“A week ago the light at the end of the tunnel was getting smaller and smaller, but what we’ve been able to retrieve off the reef is substantial.”
He added: “I’m not going to say it’s great by any means, but it’s the first stepping stone, and it’s enough to shine a light and to work hard to put things back into place. “
More photos here.
ROUTE du RHUM – Every four years, France’s most intrepid off-shore sailors take part in the Route du Rhum. Check out this great race recap by CNN’s Mainsail. A must see video!
COOL BOAT DESIGNS – I’ve always been a sucker for pocket cruisers, so when Ken Lange, the owner of International Marine, offered the chance to sail the builder’s newest micro-adventurer, the Voyager 20, it didn’t take much arm twisting.
Ken and I spent an afternoon putting the boat through its paces in near-perfect conditions for the boat, 8 to 11-knot wind breeze on Sarasota Bay. Along with us were two perspective customers who were downsizing from an Endeavour 40.
As often happens, the vagaries of life had conspired to interrupt their cruising dream, but they still had a zest for sailing and exploring, and the Voyager 20 seemed like the perfect platform for more modest adventures closer to home.
FOR THE REST OF THE STORY BY PRACTICAL CRUISER CLICK HERE!
SYDNEY HOBART RACE – Comanche’s owner, Jim Clark talks on all things including “breast feeding”. He concedes that a Rolex Sydney Hobart isn’t the ideal first race for such a big, complex machine, but: “I am married to an Australian, and I’ve seen the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart a number of times. My good friend Neville Crichton challenged me to come down.” And then comes the clincher, the phrase yachties around the world can only dream of as they pour the family fortune into a watery hole: “MY WIFE MADE ME DO IT,” Clark insists.
XS WORLD NEWS – Stay updated! Go to our XS World News page for sailing news from 40 different Sailing News websites. We keep adding links, RSS feeds and forums so you can get sailing news and events from around the world. The page is constantly being updated everyday and every hour thru RSS feeds. Check back a couple of times daily for up to minute news. XS Sailing -Where Sailing Lives!
SYDNEY HOBART RACE – Warwick Sherman never really wanted to do the Rolex Sydney Hobart, he’d done plenty of ocean racing, but bashing his way across Bass Strait to get to Tasmania just didn’t grab him. Perversely, all that changed when he was diagnosed with cancer.
Of course, everything changes when you get a diagnosis like that. Yet when he steered his Ker GTS 43 Occasional Coarse Language Too across the start line of the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart while undergoing the often brutal rigours of chemotherapy. Sherman was unimaginably courageous.
“There’s no point in wasting your time,” Sherman says of that decision to race. “If you don’t get your full term, that’s just a fact of life. I’m a bit of a fatalist.
“I don’t think I’m tough. It was just something I needed to do.”
In the event, Occasional Course Language Too won her division in that 2012 race. If Sherman ever felt he had anything to prove to himself this, surely, must have wiped the slate clean.
Yet two years later he is back; feeling stronger now. The chemo is past; Sherman only needs to check in with his doctors every six months.
“I don’t believe I let anyone down in 2012,” he says, “but I was very tired in the second half of the race. We take three to four days to get to Hobart and those last 24 hours are when it gets really physical demanding, everyone is tired.”
Sherman seems to be saying that, when the crew on his yacht were at their weakest he became a burden, though no-one else on board would have imagined that. “This time I’m significantly healthier. Stronger and more mobile.
“I am proud of what I did in 2012, but this year I am doing it on my terms.
“Back then, not knowing what it could be like, I was more gung-ho. This time I know what to expect.”
He dismisses any suggestion that what he is about to do is special. “A lot of people do it in lesser boats than ours. “
Sherman has a top notch crew with him, including the daredevils from Tow Truck, the Lake Macquarie gang who built their reputation improbably blasting around the ocean on what was really not much more than a 30 foot skiff.
“They are really good sailors,” says Sherman. “They push hard but they know where the line in the sand is. I’m very comfortable. I would not go to Hobart unless everyone in the crew was better than I am.
“The thing is we all get along. We play hard, race hard, but it has to be fun. We’ve had some very good sailors in the past that we’ve let go because we couldn’t get along. Even if I had the most highly skilled crew, if they were all monosyllabic I’d rather not sail.”
The preparation for the race has been meticulous. “If anything is even slightly worn it gets replaced. If something breaks on the left side we replace both sides.
“You get people who a desperate just to go to Hobart, and they will get on any boat just to do it, not knowing anything about the boat at all – unbelievable. You have to be completely confident about your boat and the guys you are sailing with in Bass Strait,” the CYCA member says.
“We’ve made one change from last time, we’re accepting a rating penalty by taking an extra spinnaker. It’s just a bit extra in the armoury – if you blow all your spinnakers you’ve really lost the race.
“I don’t do anything in life without trying to be the best at it. We have really strong competition in our division. St George Midnight Rambler and Chutzpah will scream along in the right conditions, while we need some hard on the breeze stuff.
“No-one can afford to be complacent. Someone said that, after the last time, if we don’t win our division that would be an anti-climax, but if we do well and get a good result I will be happy,” Sherman finishes.
Carpe Diem, as they say.
A Parade of Sail will take place from 10.30am to 11.30am, before a fleet of 117 will set sail from three start lines in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on December 26 at 1.00pm AEDT.
By Jim Gale, RSHYR media
WOW – In this week’s World on Water the Extreme Sailing Series culminates in Sydney with GAC Pindar crashing, the MC38’s twilight races also on Sydney Harbour, a preview of Foiling Week 2015, Comanche owner Jim Clark weighs up their chances prior to their first ocean race the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart this week, starting on Dec 31 we look at a IMOCA boat competitng in the two hand Barcelona World Race and a look back at Ben Ainslie Racing in 2014.
COOL BOAT DESIGNS – McConaghy Boats is pleased to introduce the new MC31, from the drawing board of Harry Dunning. This new high performance design follows in the footsteps of the MC38 One Design, taking high performance yacht racing to a new level in the 30 ft range. CHECK IT OUT ABOVE!
VOR – Recap of Leg 2. Exactly one week ago Team Brunel won Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race. It was a very intense leg, where the crew had to face a tropical storm and the doldrums. In the end there was an epic battle with Dongfeng Race Team. Experience Leg 2 one more time from start to finish above!
SAILING LESSONS BY NATHAN – In these 5 tutorials, Nathan Outteridge explains and demonstrates the steps to rigging, launching, flying, gybing and tacking a Moth. Watch these videos and sail as good as Nathan!
SYDNEY HOBART RACE – Australia’s premier ocean race has always had an international flavour; Captain Illingworth, who started the whole Sydney Hobart thing was, after all, an Englishman.
In the heyday of the great aluminium maxis, legendary boats like Nirvana, Kialoa and Condor of Bermuda would trek from across the Pacific for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s race to thrash it out with the local Helsals, Sovereigns, Apollos, and Ragamuffins on the Derwent.
Each year you have been able to find boats and people from England, New Zealand, America, Germany and Russia – a veritable UN of sailors – scattered among the boats in town for the Rolex Sydney Hobart – manoeuvring for a clean start on Boxing Day.
And so it is that this 70th race has maintained the international tradition. In spades.
Of course most attention has been focused on the brash American newcomer, (Jim Clark pictured above), and his new maxi ‘Comanche’. Launched just weeks ago in Maine, Comanche’s American and multi-national crew, including Australian America’s Cup winner, Jimmy Spithill, have been spending the as much time on Sydney Harbour as they can, working out how to sail this genuinely radical monster of a boat.
Comanche’s owner, Jim Clark, concedes that a Rolex Sydney Hobart isn’t the ideal first race for such a big, complex machine, but: “I am married to an Australian, and I’ve seen the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart a number of times. My good friend Neville Crichton challenged me to come down.”
And then comes the clincher, the phrase yachties around the world can only dream of as they pour the family fortune into a watery hole: “MY WIFE MADE ME DO IT,” Clark insists.
“This race represents the greatest race in the world,” Matthew Fortune, the skipper of the German Tripp 57 Passion 4 C declares. “It is so exciting to be here. It is a privilege to do the Rolex Sydney Hobart. I’m up with alongside the greatest boats of all time; a little guy in a sea of giants.
“The planning for this started four years ago. We have journeyed 13500 miles to get here. Then we’ve had to refit the boat in the last two weeks from ocean crosser to Hobart racer.”
“It’s taken us five years to get here,” Poland’s Mariusz Koper says. His Oyster 72 Katharsis II has covered more than 70,000 miles in that time. “I am not a racer, more like an explorer.
Two years ago we sailed the North West Passage in the Arctic, next year we aim to go to 78 degrees south. On the way we thought it would be amazing to come here.
“We crossed the Atlantic, ended up in Tahiti, but instead of coming straight here we went around Cape Horn to Patagonia, then down to Antarctica. So we had to come back here, but I did not want to take the same route, so we sailed north to Greenland, meaning we have come from the very top of the world.”
Koper will concede that his hefty 50 tonne Oyster will not threaten the likes of Comanche or Wild Oats XI (unless maybe physically). Most of the other foreigners, though, are not just here for the experience.
Manouch Moshayedi, the American, has made massive changes to his Rio 100, the former Lahana. He has widened the boat and made her two feet longer, fitted twin rudders, eliminated the water ballast to make her lighter and installed a lifting keel that can be raised and lowered between 14 and 19 feet. He describes her as a TP52 stretched to 100 feet, with the Transpac Race in mind.
“We are very good downwind in light winds. And of course someone told us there were light winds in the Rolex Sydney Hobart and we came here. I guess we were misinformed,” Moshayedi jokes.
“We are made for lighter winds. If it is really windy Jim Clark will enjoy it, if it is really light I will.”
“In light air downwind we are not that good,” Jim Clark concedes. “This is a cross wind boat. We have a massive front end, a lot of surface area. We have to get it on its side for it to go.
“When the boat is on its side, 25 degrees or so, we probably have the same wetted surface as Wild Oats XI, but it still has plenty of power. But it still has a lot of boat to bash into the sea, so if there is a lot of chop to the water, it would slow us down more than they would.
“If I had just wanted to win the Hobart I would have just copied the most successful boat ever.”
Clark frequently describes Comanche as a Volvo 70 on steroids, and basically he wants V70 conditions, though maybe not too V70.
New Zealander Jim Delegat and his V70 Giacomo would love a rip-roaring, hang-on-by-your-fingernails Rolex Sydney Hobart, as would the local V70 Black Jack. These are the dark horses in the race for line honours this year. Fast, almost as fast as the 100 footers, but able to keep going when the bigger boats have to think about survival as much as winning.
”Comanche is new, to a new design,” Clark says. “The design and analysis have been very rigorous. Lots of simulations and tank testing. I am very confident it is built well, but these conditions (off the southern New South Wales coast and in Bass Strait) can be nasty. The most difficult thing is slowing the boat down in high winds so we don’t beat it up.”
You take whatever comes with the Rolex Sydney Hobart. With such disparate boats on the race course the weather, as much as tactics and boat skills may separate the victors from the also rans. It is a long way to come, from the other side of the world, for a lousy forecast. But come they do.
The British Swan 68 Titania of Cowes is back for her third straight race. “We thought she would be going back to England, but after we finished last year the owner, Richard Dobbs, changed his mind and said he wanted to do it again,” says her bemused but delighted sailing master, Tasmanian Gina Hewson.
So for yet another year, almost 8 tonnes of cruising gear is being hauled out of the luxurious Swan onto the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia dock to get her down to racing weight.
Max Klink, the skipper from the first ever Cayman Islands entrant called Caro, a Botin 65, a plush, push-button cruiser that “can race a bit.”
‘Race a bit’ as in smashing the ARC race record by 8 hours, and loading the boat with Volvo Ocean Race veterans for this event.
It is said that every politician secretly carries a Prime Minister’s baton in their pocket. It can probably be safely said that every sailor who has crossed the Boxing Day starting line has his or her eye on the Rolex watch waiting in Hobart for the winner.
Over and over you hear from international sailors that they have always wanted to “do the Rolex Sydney Hobart”. “Just finishing the race will be good”, they declare. Yeah, right. That is why they have brought their gleaming thoroughbreds and homely cruisers half way around the world.
Even “explorers of the world, not really racers”, like Mariusz Koper can always use a good timepiece.
The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia and webcast live to a global audience on Yahoo!7.
A Parade of Sail will take place from 10.30am to 11.30am, before a fleet of 117 yachts set sail from three start lines in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on December 26 at 1.00pm AEDT.
BWR – The Barcelona World Race is the first and only double-handed, non-stop, round the world regatta. It is a lap of the globe starting and finishing in Barcelona. This is an extreme sporting challenge and ocean adventure that puts human limits to the test. The start of the third edition is on the 31st of December 2014.
AC NEWS – A sailor on Oracle Racing’s winning America’s Cup team claims in court that he had to shell out $68,000 for a lawyer to fight charges that he tweaked the rules by adding extra weight to a sailboat. Matthew Mitchell sued Oracle Racing Inc. on Wednesday in Superior Court. Mitchell claims his employer told him to add the weight, so the employer should foot his legal bills.
SYDNEY HOBART RACE – Financial guru Paul Clitheroe calls all his boats Balance; as in balance sheet, balanced portfolio, bank balance and balance in life.
This year he graduated from racing a Beneteau 45, a displacement, more or less family friendly cruiser/racer to a TP52, a noisy, high speed jock’s sort of boat which could never, ever take the family out for a weekend cruise. So, on balance, what are the differences?
“They’re more expensive” is the first thing he has to offer.
That figures. It’s not just the fact that TP52’s are bigger, made from more exotic materials, and with bigger sails. The golden rule of sailing is that the cost to waterline ratio rises exponentially with each extra foot, but buying a TP52 is a statement.
“You’re serious about racing. You’re serious about winning. Why else would you bother?”
Clitheroe and his crew are determinedly Corinthian, which means amateur; so were all his competitors in the Beneteaus. The racing was intensely competitive, that was its great satisfaction, but TP52’s are grand prix boats, many with quite a few professional sailors on board for the big races. For the time being, anyway, Paul is resigned to being a follower more often than a leader.
“At least when we get lost we’ll have someone to follow,” he jokes. “Take Onesails Racing, (Ray Roberts’ Farr 55) – the talent on that boat,” Clitheroe says.
“We are on a learning curve. We won’t push the boat as hard as they will. If we see a screaming sou-wester coming towards us and think it’s faster to go out, we’ll probably stay closer to the cliffs. It’s less pressure, but we’ll feel safer.
“Sometimes, when it’s marginal, the other TP52’s will stick with a bigger kite than we will. We know we’re amateurs, so we race a bit more conservatively.
“People say we could win this year because we have done so well in the Blue Water Point Score, but it’s all been pretty easy sailing. We haven’t had to cope with a big storm, and I’ve yet to be in a Rolex Sydney Hobart without at least one big blow. We have to be sensible.
“In the Beneteaus we all went as hard as we could, but this year we’re still learning, and the first priority is to get to Hobart safely.”
Of course he expects to have a ball on the way. TP52’s are just great fun. Beneteaus go through the water, these go over it. “It takes me back to my windsurfing days. In 20 knots you can be sailing downwind and consistently reaching speeds of 16 to 20 knots in 20 knots of wind! We all holler with joy, it all feels so effortless.
“We’ve gone very fast on the Beneteau 45, but down waves, wondering what will happen at the bottom…”
And this is where it gets curious.
On Balance, Clitheroe rates these speed machines safer than the more wholesome cruiser/racers.
“These are designed as tough ocean racers. There is no darned spinnaker pole, and if anything is going to get you it’s a spinnaker pole.
“We’ll get to Hobart a day earlier than we would with our other boat. That means less time for another front to come through and get us and less fatigue.
“The guys in the TP52’s think it’s a big step up, but they forget how hard it is to race a displacement cruiser/racer. When the wind gets up you try to get as square as you can (the wind right behind you) because you don’t want to create any apparent wind,” he says.
“But the loads are terrifying. At 180 degrees to the wind, you get the death wobbles. A Chinese gybe in Bass Strait is bloody awful. TP’s never go lower than 150 degrees. They may broach – there will be a lot of flapping about – but you get it under control quickly.
“And when you’re pushing 11 tonnes through the water in 20 knots, a 5 knot gust puts the boat under tremendous extra pressure and strain. But if a TP is doing 17 or 18 knots over the water, and a 5 knot gust comes through, it just goes 5 knots faster. There’s no extra strain.
“We are finding this boat easier to sail than our 45. They guys in the Beneteaus will have a tougher job than us.
“But we are respectful, very respectful. The kites on these things are huge. You could wrap a house with one. Bearing down at 20 knots on the rocks or a mark and if you get a halyard jammed would be terrifying.
“Everything is happening at high speed. When we won the Cabbage Tree Island race (in November) we crossed the line at 19 knots and then realized how little space there was beyond the line. I thought we were going to collect one of the navy ships at Garden Island,” he said.
“On a Beneteau, bad things happen, but they come up on you slowly. On TP, stuff comes at you really quickly. You can be going along fine and then bang, you’ve got a crisis,” Clitheroe ends.
In our conversation Clitheroe has used the word terrifying a few time. I point that out to him.
“Yes,” he concedes, “I’ve gone from one terror to another.”
Oh and there’s one other thing the new Balance has going for it. As it happens, TP52’s tend to get around Tasman Island and up the Derwent before the river’s infamous shut down. That really matters.
“A couple of years back, we were rounding Tasman Island with Victoire, another Beneteau 45, and Ed Psaltis in his AFR Midnight Rambler and we were winning the race,” Paul recalls. “One of the crew remarked on how nice the Tasman Light looked in the dusk, he’d like to see it one day at dawn.
“‘Don’t say that’, I told him. Sure enough, we drifted away from Tasman Island (near Storm Bay) for a few hours and then we drifted back. He got to see Tasman Light at dawn.
“For me Storm Bay is more Lake Placid.”
The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia and webcast live to a global audience on Yahoo!7.
By Jim Gale, RSHYR media
VOR – The essence of sailing: incredible footage by Onboard Reporter Amory Ross, with music from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra , conducted by Michael Seal – with special thanks to Visit Abu Dhabi.
SAFETY AT SEA – The Cruising Club of America (CCA) has confirmed that its 2014 Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship will be awarded to Derry-Londonderry-Doire skipper Sean McCarter. The award is in recognition of the way he directed his crew during the man overboard rescue in the harsh northern Pacific Ocean last March.
The Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship is an internationally renowned trophy awarded annually for an act of seamanship which significantly contributes to the safety of a yacht, or one or more individuals at sea.
Sean McCarter grew up in the Derry-Londonderry area and learnt to sail on Lough Swilly in County Donegal, Ireland at just five years old. A former Royal National Lifeboat Institution volunteer, Sean says: “The CCA is a club that has over 85 years of promoting the adventurous use of the sea and puts a premium on safety and seamanship.
“I am honoured to have been selected to receive The Rod Stephens trophy for Outstanding Seamanship but must accept it on behalf of the entire crew of Derry-Londonderry-Doire on the Pacific leg. Finding and rescuing Andrew Taylor in the midst of a North Pacific gale was not down to one person but to the skill and determination of a well-trained team.”
Andrew Taylor, 46, from London, went overboard in the middle of a Pacific Ocean storm, approximately half way through the 5,600 mile race from Qingdao, China to San Francisco, USA. He was recovered after 90 minutes in the water. The search was particularly difficult due to low visibility, high winds and mountainous seas which caused Andrew to drift quickly out of sight from the yacht.
Andrew made a full recovery after initial shock, hypothermia and a badly bruised leg. He continued the remaining six races to complete the circumnavigation when the race returned to London in July 2014.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston says: “The recognition of Sean McCarter’s leadership and motivation by the Cruising Club of America’s prestigious Outstanding Seamanship Award during the recovery of Andrew Taylor during the passage across the North Pacific Ocean will be welcomed by many.
“Sean’s determination to recover Andrew motivated the crew and it is fair to say that had Sean not shown outstanding leadership Andrew might not be with us today.”
The city of Derry-Londonderry has been represented in the Clipper Race since 2011 and finished in fourth position at the end of the last edition earlier this year.
The City of Derry-Londonderry Mayor Cllr Brenda Stevenson extending her congratulations to Sean, said the people of Derry-Londonderry and the North West region were extremely proud of him: “We are absolutely delighted that Sean has been honoured in this way, it is a huge achievement for him. This is an extremely proud moment for all of us.
“The way in which Sean and his crew dealt with the emergency on board their yacht was truly inspiring and I am delighted that his talents as a skilled yachtsman and leader has been acknowledged in this way. He is a very worthy winner and an inspirational sportsman that we all admire. Well done Sean.”
Previously the Rod Stephens trophy has been awarded for diverse acts of seamanship such as the rescue of 51 Haitians by the captain and crew of Corwith Cramer, a Brigantine sail training ship. In 2007 it was awarded to Mike Golding for his rescue of Alex Thomson during the 2006 Velux Ocean race when Thomson’s boat Hugo Boss was sinking.
The award will be presented during the Annual Awards Dinner of the Cruising Club of America at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan on 6 March, 2015.
Sean McCarter and his crew were also recently nominated for Yachts and Yachting Magazine Achievement of the Year Award. Winners will be announced in February.
There is still the opportunity to apply for crew places in the next edition of the race in 2015 which is already 80 per cent full.
Find out more here
VESTAS WIND UPDATE – “Every now and then I feel like I’ll wake up and it’ll all just be a crazy dream, and I’d say, “wahoo, wasn’t that the worst dream I’ve had in a long while?”
Neil Cox has been Chris Nicholson’s shore manager for two Volvo Ocean Races before they entered their third one together with Team Vestas Wind.
But the Aussie expert had never, ever been in the situation he is in now – heading to a remote Indian Ocean reef to recover the blue Volvo Ocean 65 after it ran aground in the middle of the second leg, on November 29.
“The ultimate plan, the gold-medal prize we’re reaching for, is to get the boat buoyant enough to float it across the lagoon to get it into more protected water,” explains Neil, or Coxy, as everybody calls him.
“That would stop it disintegrating out on the reef, and at the same time, once we get to the other side of the reef, it gives us the chance to set it up in a controlled fashion to either be able to tow the boat back to Mauritius, or there is a Maersk Line ship coming on Monday and we’re hoping to use their derrick to get it on the ship.”
Coxy pauses to take a breath.
“The race has taken me through some pretty bizarre scenarios, but I would say that this one is pretty unique.”
Chris, the skipper, joined him in Mauritius yesterday evening. They’ve set up the recovery operation in Port Louis, liaising with local resources, chartering a boat they’ll use as a mother ship, getting all the necessary tools through customs and the permits to go back to the Saint Brandon archipelago.
In the meantime, the Île du Sud inhabitants have maintained a watch on the boat, and sent some photos with the supply boat two days ago.
It appears that the boat hasn’t moved much. Coxy and Chris are now sailing to the location along with their shore crew Tom Kiff plus two local guys, five recovery people from Durban, South Africa, and a cameraman.
“The rest of the team offered to come and help,” adds Coxy, “but there is nothing out there so you cannot take a whole work force with you because you cannot provide enough water or power for everyone.
“We’ll base ourselves on this mother ship, on the inside of the lagoon. It’s on the leeward side of the reef and two and half miles away from the boat. The ship has the facilities for us to live onboard, because there is no way for us to stay on the island. We’ve also chartered local fishing boats to cross the lagoon everyday.
“It’s a case of how structurally sound the boat is, and what we can utilise to get it buoyant again. And anything that floats, float tanks, buoyancy bags, you name it, is coming out with us.”
Coxy, Chris and Team Vestas Wind have a plan, and a strong will to get the boat off the reef. But there are a lot of difficult factors to take into account.
“We want to bring as much of the boat back as possible,” asserts Coxy.
“If anything can be recycled or used for a potential new boat, we have to do everything in our power to make that happen.
“The reality is, it’s a very dangerous workplace we’re going to. It doesn’t have all the nice things we have in the stopovers… it’s in the middle of the ocean. We’re on our own. And, while I’d avoid the cheap shark headlines, yes, there is a lot more activity on the reef at nighttime.”
He pauses again.
“We’ll get there by sunrise tomorrow. We’ll go straight to the boat after that.”