Wednesday 31 December 2008

Vendée Globe 2008-9: Onboard Images

Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Sam gets out her Roxy bikini earlier in the race. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Roxy in the Southern Ocean. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Ice sighted. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

An albatross for company. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Fiery ocean sunset. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Sam's Christmas gifts in the Southern Ocean. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Sam puts her feet up at Christmas. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Shrimps caught by Roxy. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

The handle of Sam's tea cup falls off: "I would like my skipper to take care of me with the same passion that she applies to care for her boat...". Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Arnaud Boissières looks down at the kite on board Akena Vérandas. Image copyright Arnaud Boissières/Akena Vérandas/Vendée Globe.

Mike Golding looks down at Ecover from up the mast. Image copyright Mike Golding/Ecover/Vendée Globe.

A deluge on Foncia as she hits a new speed record on autopilot of 30.44 knots. Image copyright Michel Desjoyeaux/Foncia/Vendée Globe.

Foncia in stormy seas. Image copyright Michel Desjoyeaux/Foncia/Vendée Globe.

Southern Ocean stormy seascape. Image copyright Michel Desjoyeaux/Foncia/Vendée Globe.

Seb Josse in his mirror. Image copyright Seb Josse/BT/Vendée Globe.

Splashy time on board for Seb Josse. Image copyright Seb Josse/BT/Vendée Globe.

A sunset from on board BT. Image copyright Seb Josse/BT/Vendée Globe.

Santa in the Southern Ocean. Image copyright Roland Jourdain/Veolia Environnement/Vendée Globe.

A bird hitches a ride on Brit Air. Image copyright Armel Le Cleac'h/Brit Air/Vendée Globe.

A little damp on board Artemis. Image copyright Jonny Malbon/Artemis/Vendée Globe.

Loïck Peyron up the mast. Image copyright Loïck Peyron/Gitana Eighty/Vendée Globe.

Nauticsport Kapsch. Image copyright Norbert Sedlacek/Nauticsport Kapsch/Vendée Globe.

A yellow Christmas for Norbert Sedlacek. Image copyright Norbert Sedlacek/Nauticsport Kapsch/Vendée Globe.

Rough seas and high winds on Christmas Eve, as seen from Bahrain Team Pindar. Image copyright Brian Thompson/Bahrain Team Pindar/Vendée Globe.

Dominique Wavre's Christmas on Temenos 2. Image copyright Dominique Wavre/Temenos 2/Vendée Globe.

Vendée Globe 2008-9

Vendée Globe comes to New Zealand (unfortunately)

by Seb Josse' media and SailRaceWin

Sailors, especially the leaders in the 2008-9 singlehanded around-the-world Vendée Globe race, have been troubled by the Southern Ocean. Seb Josse is one of the latest casualties and is now heading for New Zealand.

From Sébastien Josse (Monday, 29.12.08): "Today at around 0500 GMT the wind dropped enough for me to lift the rudder system, and check what the problem was. I quickly discovered that the issue was on the port rudder and understood why the two rudders were not in line anymore."
 The starboard rudder is undamaged, but the port rudder which would have been fully exposed to the crashing waves when the boat was upside down is badly damaged.

Sébastien Josse. Image copyright Sébastien Josse/BT/Vendée Globe.

The bond between the carbon and titanium fitting placed at the articulation point between the rudder head and the blade, which receives the transmission bar linking the two rudders, has been broken under the extreme forces of the waves battering the boat whilst it was upside down. This failure explains the misalignment of the whole steering system, preventing BT from sailing at more than 10 knots and making a passage of the Pacific Ocean one risk too far to take.

Image copyright Sébastien Josse/BT/Vendée Globe.

The fitting that has failed is a complex element made of titanium and carbon, moulded and glued under pressure. It is challenging to laminate even under normal working conditions, and there is no possibility for Seb to repair that crucial element onboard. The result being that even if there was a spare rudder onboard, BT could not easily continue as she could only sail on one tack. Considering the strong chance of another storm before Cape Horn, with the much greater risk of losing control, and breaking the boat even more, and also in a place where rescue is nearly impossible, it is just not safe or wise to continue. "If the Pacific Ocean was behind us and not in front, maybe it would be possible to slowly make our way to the finish line regardless of performance, but that is not the case.

"These last few days since the capsize, my objective was definitely to continue the race, even if my reason for being in this race was purely to win. Not having total control of the boat means there is no way I can go back south and head for Cape Horn without gambling with my safety and that of the boat. If the boat starts to surf and I cannot prevent a wipeout because of the failed steering system, it can lead to a dismasting in a matter of seconds, not forgetting the coachroof is still quite weak and could easily be completely broken in such circumstances. Abandoning the race and heading for New Zealand is of course a huge disappointment not only for me. Now I try to to look forward, and to winning the IMOCA races in 2009. I will plot my course to New Zealand now.

"I am very disappointed, not just for me, but for everybody that has given seconds, minutes, hours and months to this project - the 'wet' team, the 'dry' team and all the sponsors especially BT and Renault. We started two years ago, and we were one of the teams in the best shape on the start line in Les Sables in November, and we can see that in the results of the race until just a few days ago. The Vendée Globe is one of the hardest challenges in the world, sometimes it lets you pass, sometimes it breaks you. I am just very sorry we can't go to the end this time."

Auckland, New Zealand, is just over 1200 miles away, but Seb will have to climb further north first to get around the top of an anticyclone and thereby allow him to sail downwind towards NZ. Only being able to use one rudder will restrict his speed, but he should be able to safely make it to land without assistance in 7 to 10 days time. The BT shore team will be there to meet him and decide the best method for repairing the boat and bring the BT IMOCA 60 back to Europe in readiness for the IMOCA 2009 season that kicks off in June alongside the BT Extreme 40 racing campaign and Ellen and BT's sustainability activities.

Below are images taken by Seb showing the extent of the damage after BT capsized in the storm. All images below are copyright Sébastien Josse/BT/Vendée Globe:

BT Seb Josse

Vendée Globe

Rolex Sydney Hobart 2008: Calm Between the Storms

Valheru passing Tasman Island. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

by Giles Pearman

An eerie calm in Bass Strait and light and variable winds along the Tasmanian coast split the smaller and slower boats in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart race fleet from the fast-finishing 50 to 55 footers, which have dominated the overall corrected time placings.

Knocked out of contention for the race's major trophy, the Tattersall's Cup, for the overall IRC handicap winner in this general slow-down were some of the overseas entries.

International entries are, however, in the top three placings in two of the four IRC Divisions, which group boats of similar rating.

Chris Welsh's veteran Spencer 65 Ragtime has won Division 2; Harry Heijst's 36-year-old Sparkman & Stephens 41 Winsome is leading Division 4 with near sister S&S 41 Pinta-M, both from the Netherlands, third with yachts still finishing.

Ragtime a narrow-gutted "splinter" of a boat, built in plywood to a design by the New Zealand genius John Spencer 43 years ago, was well ahead of both the major calms in finishing four hours behind the last of the hot TP52s.

The international jury awarded her redress time of one hour 55 minutes for backtracking and standing by the sinking Georgia on the race's first night. That left Ragtime 11th on IRC handicap overall and at the top of IRC Division 2.

41 Sud from New Caledonia. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Ragtime, legendary in USA West Coast racing in the 1970s, won line honours in the 1973 and 1975 Los Angeles-Honolulu Transpac races. After competing in fourteen Transpacs, she slipped into a neglected state. Welsh bought her at a sheriff's auction in 2004.

Welsh repaired the hull, installed a new rudder, new keel, carbon rig, added a new mainsail and five new asymmetrical spinnakers for a highly competitive IRC handicap-racing package.

He says: "We checked all the boxes on what a Rolex Sydney-Hobart race should be. We had a damaged rental car, the sinking of a vessel we were intimately involved with, high winds, changing winds, a lot of surfing like crazy. We had the right sails; had some gear failures."

The biggest problem was the number four jib pulling out of the headfoil four times, every half hour or so, as Ragtime slogged across Storm Bay in 38 knots.

The highest downwind speed Ragtime's crew saw was 26.5 knots. "It was really on fire, we had decent waves to surf," said Welsh. "Geny Tulloch is the strongest driver we have in that kind of stuff. She is truly gifted as a helmsman. She just lights up, the boat lights up and she keeps the boat on the edge of power."

Quantum Racing. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

The first shutdown in the wind, although strong winds had been forecast for the area, split the fleet in two in Bass Strait. Ed Psaltis, co-skipper of the modified Farr 40 AFR Midnight Rambler, among the leaders in IRC Division 3 at the time, said: "We almost got through but didn't and sat there for several hours in no wind at all; an absolute mill pond." Psaltis, who with co-owner Bob Thomas skippered the previous AFR Midnight Rambler, a little Hick 35, to win the storm-swept 1998 Hobart race, added: "It was much different to '98; an easy race but just a frustrating race with too many calms."

The downwind nature of the race did not suit the two Dutch S&S41 IOR designs Pinta-M and Winsome, which are at their best upwind in strong winds and Pinta-M blew out her biggest spinnaker on the first night. Harry Heijst said that yesterday had been a very tough day for Winsome. "We had lots of wind, then no wind just getting close to Tasman Island. We lost it completely and then all of a sudden the wind came from 100 degrees somewhere else and we had no clue what we were doing at that time."

"We were so lucky with the Derwent River because as we entered we were just carrying our number one genoa in 21, 22, 25 knots and even though it should only go to 20 knots we managed to keep it on. We had read that the wind is closed from 10 in the evening until 6 in the morning on the river, and we arrived outside the closing time," continued Heijst.

Sister-yacht Pinta-M finished three and a-half hours later after being becalmed for an hour only three miles from the finish. The wind filled in briefly from the south and she finished under spinnaker, the only yacht to have done so to that time. "We missed out by three miles; finishing an ocean race in a river!" said owner/skipper Atse Blei."

Pachamama: Swiss Top to Top Global Climate Expedition. The first Swiss entry ever in the race's history. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

The Scottish Beneteau 47.7 Jus'do it 3 (Ian Darby), 16th in IRC Division 3 after being well placed early in the race, ghosted through the first calm in Bass Strait to stop in the second one off the Tasmanian coast yesterday. Darby said: "We were up to second or third in our class and then went from 40 knots of wind one night to absolutely no wind the next day on the Tasmanian coast. We were 20 miles north of Tasman Island, about five miles out, in no wind and we saw the fleet sail past on the inside and also out to sea.

Darby finished up saying that, "we just sat for the best part of 14 hours going absolutely nowhere. It was disappointing from a position point of view but everybody enjoyed themselves. We had a great race and we would have gone very, very well apart from that one circumstance. We've all loved it. The crew and the entourage have enjoyed it."

By 1845 AEDT, eighty-seven of the one hundred starters had finished the 64th Rolex Sydney Hobart. With seven yachts having retired and one disqualified, five yachts are left on the course, with Murray Wilkes' Nest Property holding last position 10 nm south of Mariah Island on the eastern coast of Tasmania. Ahead of her are Polaris of Belmont, Getaway Sailing 2 - with her mainly Russian crew, the oldest yacht in the fleet, Maluka of Kermandie, and Inca, which is the only one of the five due to finish before midnight AEDT. The good news is that barring disaster in the closing miles all competing crews will be able to see in 2009 ashore in Hobart.

John Walker, of Impeccable, the oldest skipper in the fleet at 86, with CYCA Commodore, Matt Allen. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.


IRC OVERALL (Provisional Top Three)

1. Quest, Bob Steel (AUS/NSW), TP52
2. Cougar II, Alan Whiteley (AUS/VIC), TP52
3. Wot Now, Graeme Wood (AUS/NSW), TP52

IRC Div 0: Quantum Racing, Ray Roberts (AUS/NSW), Cookson 50
IRC Div 1: Quest, Bob Steel, (AUS/NSW), TP52
IRC Div 2: Ragtime, Chris Welsh (USA), Spencer 65
IRC Div 3: Tow Truck, Anthony Paterson (AUS/NSW), Ker 11.3
IRC Div 4: Winsome, Harry Heijst (NED), S&S 41
PHS Div 1: Telcoinabox Merit, Leo Rodriguez (AUS/QLD), Volvo 60
PHS Div 2: Lloyds Brokers - Too Impetuous, Lindsay Patterson (AUS/QLD), Holland 43
Sydney 38: Morris Finance Cinquante, Ian Murray (AUS/VIC)
Cruising: Pippin, Roger Sayers (AUS/QLD), Farr 37

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2008

Rolex Sydney Hobart 2008: More Classic Images of the Competitors

Overall winner: Quest. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

Rush, owned and skippered by Ian and John Paterson. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Wild Oats XI battles it out with Skandia Wild Thing. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Wild Oats XI on her way to a fourth successive line honours victory in the 2008 edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

Wild Oats XI at the start of the 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Ragamuffin in the frey. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Ragamuffin. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

Loki chases Limit. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

ASM Shockwave 5. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Alan Brierty's Limit. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Telcoinabox Merit. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Yendys. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Ginger and Quantum Racing. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Wild Oats XI. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2008