Monday, 11 April 2011

BWR: From Weather Strategy to Rigs on HUGO BOSS

Andy Meiklejohn (NZL) on board HUGO BOSS. Image copyright Wouter Verbraak/Alex Thomson Racing.

by Wouter Verbraak

With close to a hundred days at sea, you get to know each other quite well. Yet, today Andy really surprised me in a positive way, which has made for a very interesting day. You see, for almost 100 days Andy, inquisitive and determined to get to the bottom of things, has been asking me hundreds of questions on weather and strategy. The knowledge transfer has worked the opposite way as well, as at the same time, I have been trying to learn every trick in the book when it comes to the bow. I am not fluent yet, but I can stand my own now at the pointy end of the yacht.

Today, when the topic of sails and rigs came up, Andy has come out of the corner in an unexpected way. Sure he has been working for Southern Spars and knows his way around a rig, but his knowledge is much broader and in depth with the whole performance package then I ever suspected. What was supposed to be a swift watch handover with a cup of tea, dragged on for a couple of hours discussing everything from America’s Cup twist inducing rigs and sail development, to 14 foot skiffs. Of course a lot of it applies to the Open 60 rigs, as the short handed sailing throws in a few extra twists that need solving, and with the open unrestricted nature of the rule you can pretty much do what you want. So plenty to discuss here as well.

Note from SailRaceWin: Andy Meiklejohn is a skiff sailor (12 footers)... and skiff sailors tend to know rather a lot about rigs... Anyone remember back to the days of Julian Bethwaite's whippy, then innovative, carbon-top rig on the 18 footer AMI? (This is immortalised in the absolutely excellent "Ronstan's Awesome Aussie Skiffs 1" DVD/video - which is some of the best sailing to watch going!)

Andy Meiklejohn
Wouter Verbraak
Alex Thomson Racing
Barcelona World Race