Challenger - GBR301 Froggy bows out.

on . Posted in 2016 Blogs

When you buy a race boat there are a number of things you always get as part of the package; 1. A box of spares that do not seem to fit anywhere on the boat, 2. the joy of discovery as you uncover all the cowboy repairs the last owner failed to mention 3. a pile of old spinnakers which if you take them on spec are an awesome sail inventory but are in fact old, tired and fit to pop at any moment.  We own four 10-20 year old 60ft race boats so yeah.... we have a lot of the above.

The spare parts just get tossed in the trash to allow for the moment 3 months later when you realize 'ooh that's what that bit was, ooh its custom you say? $1000 minimum you say...ooh .S*^t. The cowboy repairs we can actually take in our stride as we have an awesome set of hard skills among our crew that can whip any boat into order in short order. So that leaves the kites.

Spinnakers for this size of boat range in the $10,000 to about $15,000 range- so when I say we have 35 that makes it sound like we are sitting on a fortune. Not so. The reality is 17 of them were built in 1992 for Yamaha one of our boats that competed in- and won- the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race. When we spread these sails out for assessment they are impressive- the size of a tennis court- wonderful strong blues and reds, famous sponsorship branding- the very sails in fact that featured on sailing magazine covers all over the world BUT. BUT. Time is not a friend to the material these things are made from- a light woven material like a tent flysheet. Now, 20+ years down the track we are outside of the life span the sail makers expected and perhaps even beyond the lifespan of many of the sailmaker. So what do you do? Part of me wants to hoard them in our store room, unpack them annually, look at them, fold them, pack them, talk about them at the yacht club because when they are gone they are gone. Luckily the other part of me, the 51% does not believe in Sunday best. Why save the best you have for special occasions when all manner of unforeseen tragedy can befall you at any moment robbing you of the opportunity to ever experience whatever it was you were saving. Therefore, I use the best china every day, all of my Star Wars figures are out of their original packaging and we put up old kites whenever we can. Which, circuitously brings me finally to Froggy.

Froggy is a fractional spinnaker we discovered in our inventory early on which was a perfect match for our sail training schedule. Froggy is a smaller, more controllable sail designed originally for very heavy winds (30 knots) and high boats speeds (22.5knots by the polars). In our situation as a training platform for ocean racing Froggy was equally good for people new to the boat to learn to drive with in normal breeze. So why Froggy? This sail had a huge green frog on it licking a big red and white lollipop and the branding read 'Lollipop Hospital Radio for Children' hence Froggy. Built 24 years ago and no doubt hammered all to hell in the Whitbread race by Ross Fields and the Yamaha crew Froggy then waited 20 long years in the perfect storage conditions offered by his long term home in California before exploding back on to the racing scene (!) in the 2016 Antigua Race week where he literally led us to a string of podiums in the Ocean Class.

Spool forward through 6 months of sail training work where Froggy has been a mainstay and that brings us up to the present where for the last 48hrs he has been doing exactly what he was meant to do forging downwind (albeit in a mere 20knots)in a major open ocean race. After a squall last night that saw him brought down for the hours of dawn, Froggy came back onto deck this morning around 0900 and stepped up to the plate for the final time. In brilliant sunshine, over blue seas, straining against a crisp breeze, Froggy broke 14knots for the last time and then bowed out from professional sailing forever.

With a gentle almost polite ripping sound Froggy slowly descended into the water in a number of pieces and after a momentary swim alongside the boat was ceremonially retrieved by a thankful crew and packed for the last time. A quiet descended over the deck, farewell Froggy we shall never forget you. Amen.

Never ones to be knocked down for long the Spartans passed around a stiff pot of expresso coffee later and got back to work.

We are currently hoisting a new kite- exciting! This one is from 1997 and has a Fish on it.Sweet! Lets see how far this one gets...

All well on Challenger.











Maverick - GBR4945R - Kees Postma

on . Posted in 2016 Blogs

We have had a mega frustrating 12 hours on board, all a domino effect started by the A2 tack blowing up for no reason the other night. Then we had no choice to go to the A1.5, which also not surprisingly blew up around midnight last night. Then we had no choice to go to the FR0 which was pretty slow all night long and we lost ground. This morning we decided to gybe over because the sea state looked better on the other gybe, but when we unfurled the FR0 on the other side it wouldnt unfurl properly so we had to drop it on deck and it took us 1.5 hours to sort it out. We are doing everything we can to hold on to 2nd overall, as 1st looks out of reach now realistically. Hopefully we manage that. Don't be surprised to see some dissapointed faces if we don't. We've been pushing so hard for 2 weeks, so desperate not to give it all up now..

Campagne de France FRA147 Jeudi Matin

on . Posted in 2016 Blogs

Bonjour à tous
Pas trop de littérature ce matin sur Campagne de France. Nous nous relayons non stop à la barre et c'est un peu chaud sous les grains...(30 kts et plus...)
Mer toujours aussi désordonnée et nuits toujours aussi noires dès que la Lune disparait, ce qui nous empêche de voir la mer et les vagues et rend la tâche à la barre encore plus difficile. Par contre quand il y a de la Lune et que le ciel est dégagé, c'est superbe.
Comme nous sommes en Lune croissante, je me demande si nous ne devrions pas ralentir un peu pour en profiter plus, car chaque nuit qui passe la Lune se couche un peu plus tard (non, je blague).
A la prochaine
Campagne de France 11°16N/46°51W- sous une série de grains du matin

Campagne de France FRA147 - Heading West

on . Posted in 2016 Blogs

We have gybed and are now heading in the general direction of Grenada, which makes a change.
Rather ominous sky  - just to the south it looks like either the doldrums which are further north than normal, or something equally malevolant. One street of trade wind clouds visible in the murkiness just to the north.
Campagne de France

Maverick - GBR4945R - 1000nm Broken! - Piers

on . Posted in 2016 Blogs

Cause for brief celebration today as we broke the 1000nm to go barrier to the finish! we are positively hurtling to grenada at 14-17knts and have been posting the highest averages of the fleet, an achievement I'm pretty proud of considering we are up against 70-100ft competitors. I am weary of starting the countdown early but it does seem that the end is getting very close, and the potential for a race win has been discussed, which is making us push harder than ever.

In other news, my eye, whilst still infected and carrying more bacteria than some chewing gum on the floor of a public restroom, does seem to be improving steadily, maybe just in time for our arrival. It is also absolutely boiling here, the R in infinit 46R must stand for Roasting, as it is probably around 35-40degrees in this carbon machine as the sun from the clear blue skies beats down upon it.

Thats all from me, and I daresay the next update you may hear from me will be at the finish, though only time will tell.

Challenger - GBR301

on . Posted in 2016 Blogs

So, has anyone noticed this race is taking forever? Now granted we are not leading the pack but hell's teeth we're still within spitting distance of Africa! Where are the white fluffy clouds? Where is the constant 20kt tradewinds we were all expecting? Come on RORC flip the switch- it's hot out here. Had I known it would be like this I would have lasso'd Maserati when they bowled past us at 25kts off Lanzarote and simply retired to the aft deck with a Martini for the rest of the race.

As it is with a crew of 14 we now find ourselves having to make decisions about food and how best to deploy it. This is not to say there is a problem- there isn't- but sailing boats at sea are in a unique position of being in possession of a strictly finite number of resources to use up whether that is food, water(unless you have a watermaker) tools, spare parts, medical supplies moral etc,when it is gone, it is gone. There is no Seven Eleven or Home Depot out here to pop into so we have to be cautious to only use what we have in moderation.

As the skipper it is therefore incumbent on me to ensure that we arrive safely, physically and emotionally in one piece having consumed what we have at a rate that does not exceed the limitations of the supply. Whilst we have all number of communication devices on board and can summon help from surrounding ships, satellites and your good self dear reader at the press of a button I am not sure how well the call of 'Mayday we have run out of sugar' would go down and yet it could hit morale and therefore speed and the crew's well being as squarely as blowing out the kite.

In this manner I have always found life at sea to be a microcosm of problems that affect our whole planet. Today's quartermaster wants to make the best meal possible so he takes a few items from tomorrow's food bags to win the applause of his diners- no great shakes. Tomorrow's quartermaster takes stock of what is left from his bag and decides to take just a few bits from the next days supply just so it's as tasty as yesterday's grub and so on until suddenly on day 14 when we should have a few days food left-bang the cupboard is bare and we have a big problem. Having seen this pattern play out many times during a 20 year career at sea I have to use my good judgement to rein in each portion everyone eats now to make sure that the situation I see over the horizon does not transpire. Scale this up to a planetary level and the rate at which we are robbing tomorrow's supply of resources should be of great concern.

Further to this on the boat if we make all the wrong decisions under the sun we can; in theory at least anticipate that we would break into the provisions in the liferaft or even get into the liferaft wholesale and start to use that rescue options or we could call over a ship and get supplies passed to us or a multitude of similar serious but possible avenues could be explored if life on board the boat was just too intolerable. We therefore have other options. Conversely, that I am aware of no lifeboat options, or external help options exist at a planetary level and so for a number of years I have kept in mind what I think is a 60's phrase- 'Lifeboat Earth' to moderate my impact at a personal level on the environment. This phrase accurately transmits the scale of the issue we are dealing with globally- if we mess up our resources allocation- that's it we're screwed. We're already in the lifeboat.

As you sit with your coffee, your air con and your comfy Ikea decor choices this point may seem very far away and lofty. But to me as I sit here with 7 bags of food and 500 litres of water to go and 175hrs showing left to the finish- it seems so much more pointed and real.

All well on Challenger. CSM

Maverick - GBR4945R - Day 11 - Olly

on . Posted in 2016 Blogs

Good Morning Team Maverick Fans,

Well today my story is about suicidal flying fish. As you may know we are not the largest yacht and we have a very low freeboard. I can tell you that getting hit by a flyingfish while doing 17kts hurts!

Progress is good and we are enjoying the fresh trade winds. Maverick is really doing very well looking after us and smashing down the distance to run. As I write this the ony other vessel in our class "Leopard" has only 300nm to run so should be in within 24hrs and take Monohull line honours. Well done to them! Hopefully we will not be too far behind!

As it is we are still hunting down Aragon. There is a little moon now on the early night watches and this is helping massively. We have been having some sat coms issues but they seem to be ok at the moment.

Anyway thats all for now...

Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have tea first? (we have no coffee or teas left!!!!)
Alice in wonderland

Olly out

Campagne de France - FRA147 Trade Winds

on . Posted in 2016 Blogs

After a night of unstable breeze, a few baby squall-type creatures before dawn, we now have passable trade winds.

At the request of my nieces, Alice and Eleanor, we have been keeping a look out for Father Christmas should he do a fly-by in this part of the world. I think it's more likely to be at night as otherwise the reindeer risk sunburn and heatstroke. There are possibly some children on boats crossing the Atlantic who have been good this year and written a polite letter.

Miranda - Campagne de France

Campagne de France - FRA147 - Mardi 6-12

on . Posted in 2016 Blogs

Bonjour de Campagne de France

Nous voici donc au portant, sous spi. Dans les Alizés? Plutôt une espèce d'Ersatz d'Alizés. En effet la brise est instable en force et en direction et pas de houle organisée, mais un mauvais clapot assez désordonné, qui au lieu de favoriser des belles glissades en surf sur les vagues secoue le bateau. Plutôt la sensation d'être sur un chemin de terre défoncé dans un véhicule aux suspensions usagées que d'être sur une autoroute dans une Citroën au confort moelleux.

Le désordre de la Mer doit en grande partie être du aux courants océaniques que nous rencontrons. En tous cas nous constatons grâce à notre électronique embarquée qu'il y a effectivement des courants car notre vitesse et notre cap sur le fond sont altérés tantôt dans un sens et tantôt d'ans un autre par rapport à ce que nous faisons sur la surface de l'eau.

Nous avons bien téléchargé à bord des fichiers de courants pour essayer d'y voir plus clair et je vous avais dit que cela ressemblait à des dessins de fou, tant les veines  de courants sont complexes et dans toutes les directions. A y observer de plus près, je crois que c'est normal que cela ressemble à un dessin de fou, car ces fichiers doivent vraissemblablement être pondus par un logiciel fou, tant est grande la différence entre ce qui est indiqué sur la carte et ce que nous constatons sur l'eau. Remarque, pour le gars qui produit ces cartes de courants, il est assez peinard dans la mesure où il y a tellement peu de monde à aller voir sur place si c'est juste ou pas qu'il risque peu d'avoir des remontées de bretelles en retour de ces informations erratiques. Ce n'est pas comme si on confiait à la même équipe le soin de nous dessiner les cartes des reseaux routiers. Il y a tellement d'usagers sur les routes, que tout le monde se rendrait vite compte qu'une route qui est sur la carte n'existe pas ou bien  qu'une autre qui est indiquée en sens unique, l'est en fait bien... mais dans le sens opposé. Il y aurait vite fait du soufflage dans les bronches et des complaintes des associations de quarante douze millions de consommateurs.

Ici on fait avec ce que l'on a et on trouve déjà bien beau que des grands esprits altruistes se penchent sur la vaste question des courants océaniques et essayent d'y comprendre quelque chose. Il faut dire que c'est très important, car tout ce système complexe est interactif avec le Climat et si justement on ne s'y retrouve plus, c'est bien qu'il doit y avoir des cochonneries quelque part dans les engrenages de cette vaste machine. Je n'irais pas jusqu'à dire "y'a plus d'saison ma bonne dame", mais il y a quand même des questions à se poser.

Donc pour l'instant pas encore de vrais Alizés pour Campagne de France, mais tout de même, du vent plus ou moins d'Est, c'est pas mal quand on veut aller à l'Ouest. Même s'il faudra tirer des bords, car pour l'instant le vent est pile dans l'axe et nous empêche de faire la route directe. Mais on ne va pas se plaindre.

A bientôt

Campagne de Fance 13°36N/39°16W, dans un endroit où on aurait pu s'attendre à "normalement" toucher les Alizés de Nord-Est, mais de nos jours rien n'est acquis et il faut pouvoir s'adapter à tout.

Maverick - GBR4945R - Day 10

on . Posted in 2016 Blogs

Good morning Team Maverick Fans,

What a difference a day makes. I belive looking at the last Sked that we are currently the fastest yacht in the fleet, even faster than the mighty Leopard at this time.

From just before dawn the wind had been building and as a result so have the boat speeds. Currently as I look at the nav screen we are dong 14-15 kts in 17kts of trades. With the boat speeds going up as has the mood on board. It is a tall ask but everyone on-board is pushing the yaht hard in the hope of clawing back a position or two. We are firmly focused on Aragon at this point in time.

While spirits are up it does not mean life is eassy. While the weather is warm and pleasant the deck is currently a car wash and you get absolutely soaked. There are two ways of dealing with this get wet and accept it or put on foulies and get wet sweating! I have elected for the former while other crew are electing for the latter. Good thing we brought the sudacream!

Down below is not much better with a cacophony of noise as th yacht leaps from wave to wave. Sleeping is very difficult as there is little ventilation possible (so much water over the deck) so you are nearly as wet with seweat down below than as you are on deck!

On the boat fixing front, thankfully all seems to be OK at the moment. We had a thru deck fitting leaking above the Nav station after it had to work hard for 1500nm so I managed to seal it with some sickaflex this morning. I am a big fan of keeping water outside of the yacht, especially near the nav PC...

Still life goes on...... sail, eat, sleep, repeat.... go big or go home.... A wave just washed over the entire deck the deceleration was awesome....

As I write this we have 1250nm to go to Grenada and talk has turned to what we are going to do when we arrive.... beer, jerk chicken, a shower!

Anyway Sean is making me some delicious Expedition Foods Custard and Apple so I'm off to get some sran.write this.

Olly out!

Given that we are on and Infiniti 46R

"Some infinities are bigger than other infinities"
John Green

Bring on the 65R!!!

Maverick - GBR4945R Eric and Olly Day 9

on . Posted in 2016 Blogs

Good Morning Team Maverick Fans,

Welcome to day 9. Well we are over half way in terms of distance but we are hoping that the second half of the track is a lot faster than their first half of the track.

We are currently lying in 4th on the preliminary leader board but are hoping that with a bit more wind we will be able to claw our way back up a few spaces. It was nice to get to meet the crew of "Stay Calm" we were berthed next to them in Marina Lanzarote. They are currently our closest competitor on the water but we are hoping that maybe we can start to pull awaay from them.

We had our first wildlife encounter in a few days with playfull dolphins playing on the bow. I always love to watch their displays as they surf on the aquatic ridge pushed frward by the yacht.

This evening in a "Classic Piers" moment he was hit in the face by a  flying fish. This is our first fish strike but having seen a few fly over the yacht in the night I am quite sure it will not be our last.

As the wind has built so have our speeds and a nie benefit of this is that we can use our "Watt and Sea" Hydrogenerator again. With temperatures on the increase it is getting increasingly uncomfortable down below and running the main engine to charge the batteries only makes this worse. The increasing temperatures also make choosing the right kit harder. Really you want to be in shorts and a T-shirt but it gets very wet on this yacht...

It is another increadably dark night. The nav lights light up the kite and there is nothing else to see. No moon, no stars, no lights on the horizon, just an eritheral darkness that hides "that wave"

Congradulations to Phaedo for thier win in this event.

best get back up on deck now..

Olly out

'If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary."

Jim Rohn

Day 9 and we have finally crossed the halfway point. This took a lot longer than we had all envisaged when planning this trip. We are all eager to get into some more steady Trade winds tomorrow and do the second half of this trip faster than the first. This is something that we are counting on as yesterday we did an audit on our remaining food and made a decision to voluntarily preemptively cut down on our consumption so we'll not be forced to later.

The weather conditions remain quite interesting here with a high overcast cloud cover and a few drops of rain. We had a brief glimpse of the sun this afternoon but it has been otherwise very gray. The temperature has begun to  increase after a cool and pleasant day yesterday.

Tonight will be another dark night with the cloud cover blocking out the little moon there is. The sea state is stil lumpy with a few different swell sets coming from various different directions.