Two reefs in

Yachtmaster training continued last week with a long distance passage, building skills and sea miles for a coastal skipper exam next week.

Last week was interesting to say the least. Our old crew of myself, Richard, Steve and Ally joined 42ft yacht Miss Reality in brisk breeze, which built up to force 8 gusting 9 at times during the week. Swinging and bobbing in the boat made everyone feel more or less queasy for a day or two, but soon the symptoms disappeared and waves didn’t look that big anymore.
Continue reading “Two reefs in”

Following Barcelona World Race 10-11 made easy

Catalans know how to do it! The media coverage of the Barcelona World Race 10-11 looks amazing. The non-stop live broadcast features pre-start inverviews, commentary, footage from the docks following yachts to slip lines and head out to the start line, footage from helicopters, twitter feed explaining what’s happening prior to start etc. The only inconvenience for non-Spanish speakers is that the live TV commentary is in Spanish only, however the twitter feed is in English. For Spanish speakers the commentary is very informative and interesting (ranging from medical information to boat construction), so now it’s good time to brush up some language skills.

The armchair ocean racers can play BWR game, which has been specially developed for the race by Universidad de Pompeu Fabra. The game looks great, however non-Spanish speaking players have to proceed with the strategy of trial and error figuring out how it works, as currently the game instructions are in Spanish only. The gamer community has already given critique on the limited range of colours that are available for boat customisation, and surely enough, all colours are depressingly dark and the range of them is plain ugly. There is no way one can build a dashing yacht in the game, but these are the crinkles that hopefully will be ironed out for the future releases of the game. The vast number of female players might also want to see a female sailor in the 3D view instead of the generic short-haired guy sitting in the cockpit.

<update Sat 1 January 2011>

Teething problems have been a prevailing issue with the BWR game during the first day of the regatta. Many players have been locked out unable to enter their game account and therefore they cannot change sails, or worse, running to ground. I suspect that this newly developed game may not have gone through a thorough testing with thousands of players before, and therefore these problems crop up when 14 000 players try to participate simultaneously. Hopefully the developers will fix quickly these bugs, as the gamer community already shows signs of impatience, especially the non-Spanish speaking population which does not seem to have equal opportunity in the game due to language restrictions. Understandably for game admins it is quite a handful to sort these problems out, and quite possibly they have been caught by surprise with the volume of support requests. The forthcoming days will be critical for the success of the game, so good luck and godspeed.


The race website is comprehensive and features also a section for youth.

I’ve always loved Barcelona, it’s without doubt my favourite city in Europe and a strong hometown candidate, should I stay in Europe. Everything about these race preparations and available information just enforces my opinion how good Catalans are with digital media and communications. Really good job, BWR media team! Hopefully the standard of the media will remain equally high for the rest of the race.

Good luck to all competing teams.

First boats finish Rolex Sydney Hobart 2010

Wild Oats XI has already arrived to Hobart, and the rest of the fleet is making their way across the Bass Strait. Video footage has started appearing to various locations, so now finally it is possible to get a glimpse of the conditions and boats out at sea.

YuuZoo and their Big Boat Racing Team seems to offer the best video coverage from the boat through their YouTube channel. This is not a surprise, as they have a dedicated media person on board and one of the partners is a mobile content provider. YuuZoo team has certainly understood that the vast number of armchair spectators want to see and hear firsthand accounts from the race boats. The team also publish a blog about preparations and race itself. Unfortunately YuuZoo has retired from the ongoing Rolex Sydney Hobart 2010 race though, due to an accumulative combination of several issues, namely two men overboard, leak on the forward compartment and seasickness of the crew. What a shame, hopefully next year their campaign will be more successful.

And here’s the much searched video from the race start

News footage & view from the media boat colliding with Wild Things

Commentary about YuuZoo yacht

Crew view from the start line

Footage from Investec Loyal

News clip about the protest that the race committee has put forward against Wild Oats XI and Rán for failing to do a mandatory radio report.

Main photo shows a cloud formation on course to Hobart as captured by ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi

More recent photos on the Rolex Sydney Hobart 2010 race photo gallery

Hunting high and low for footage

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2010 started 10 hours ago, and now a hunt for video footage has begun. It is a Christmas tradition in Australia to watch the start of the race on telly, but here in UK (the other side of the globe) it is incredibly difficult to get access to any proper footage.

What I gather from news is that the start has been exciting: Wild Thing hit a stern of a media boat (which arguably should have kept clear), but fortunately she did not get damage and was able to start the race. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is also interviewed in the same news clip.

It would be so great to see the full start sequence for education and excitement. Each race boat tries to hit the start line at full speed exactly when the gun goes off. This can be nerve-wracking or exhilarating, yet always electrifying onboard. The art of start is something one learns through experience only, however it would be magnificent to get a view on the pre-start manoeuvres of professional crew. When one is on a start line herself, there is no big picture but only the boat, countdown and the start line. Other boats are inconveniences between you and the ideal course over the start line. Afterwards one may not recognise any of the situations the other crew members tell about, for everyone focuses on sailing the boat in their own role. The big picture seems to escape everyone else but the navigator / tactician. As a bowman my eyes are always peeled on the start line transit, so I really cannot recall anything else but the nervousness when trying to see the transit through other boats sails!

The race itself is going to be taxing with the southerlies, with a current traveling the opposite direction of the wind. This will mean lumpy seas and high waves, rather reminiscent of a washing machine. A race news article explains that the first part of the race is the helmsman’s race, second part is the navigator’s race.

By Monday night, life on board will be a proverbial washing machine.  The drivers’ job will be to get the boats down to Flinders Island in contact with their rivals, while keeping them in one piece. —

Once in the lee of Tasmania the second race begins:  the navigators’ race.  In difficult to predict conditions, they will have to make the tactical decisions that will win the Tattersalls Cup, or lose it.

“You will be able to lose the race in the first 300 miles,” says Will Oxley, the navigator of Rodd & Gunn Wedgetail, “but not win it.  The second half, off Tasmania, is where the race will be won and lost. —

Ironically, while this will be the time for the navigators and tacticians to star, it is also precisely the half of the race when the boat drivers will need to lift their game an extra gear.
Cold, wet and tired after some 36 hours of drenching watches perched on the rail, crews will need to find the reserves  to drive themselves and their boat just that bit harder than anyone else, putting in that extra sail change, executing maneuvers with the same precision as they do on a day’s sprint around the buoys.

“You’ve got to be 95% fighting fit on the Tasmanian coast, otherwise you’re out,” says YuuZoo skipper Ludde Ingvall.

“Managing tiredness will be a huge part of every skipper’s job in the first half of the race.”

Read the article for good insight on managing watch systems. It seems that discipline and fighting spirit are the key. Ah, how lucky! I just happen to know a minuscule Finn who fits that description, perhaps the race 2012 could be an option? (Subtlety has already escaped. Where’s my berth?)

Video Gallery / Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2010 (very slow connection – or a lot of traffic!)

Audio Gallery / Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2010

Race tracker

Photos from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2010 start:


ROLEX/Carlo Borlenghi


Wild Oats XI at the turning mark during the Rolex Sydney Hobart 2010. ROLEX/Carlo Borlenghi


Grant Wharington’s supermaxi Wild Thing exiting Sydney Heads. ROLEX/Carlo Borlenghi


Wild Oats XI just before she encountered the southerly. ROLEX/Carlo Borlenghi


Bill Wild’s Rodd & Gunn Wedgetail in open water. ROLEX/Carlo Borlenghi.

First race – 6th finish!

Go Team Lion!

Team Lion secured 6th place on their class in the first race of the Hamble Winter Series 2010. In total there are 12 boats competing in the same class. This result is a great start for a scratch crew and beginner racers, and from now on we’ll just keep improving our boat handling skills and maneuvers, squeezing seconds on every move.

We didn’t do any major mistakes on the race, apart from a headsail sheet coming off and one spinnaker wrap. Naturally mistakes happen when you’re just learning, so now we’ll just keep consistent performance, cull the mistakes and get smoother and faster on every move.Hiking

All crew was more or less battered after hard work. My arms, knees and shins are black and blue – bruising seemed to happen even when just standing still. In action you don’t notice any injuries, it is only when returning to the rail that one starts wondering where the blood is coming from. Somehow I got a bump on my head by a spinnaker pole too, which was a harsh but good reminder that attention is required at all times, so keep an eye on everything that moves. Manicures are ultimately useless too as nails get ripped to even shorter stubs, no matter how short you would trim them to begin with!

It was a fantastic weekend manhandling sails and spinnaker poles. No doubt we’re all looking forward to the next race on Sunday.