The perfect boat: what makes an ideal offshore cruising yacht?

The perfect boat: what makes an ideal offshore cruising yacht?

Jimmy Cornell gives his expert analysis of the essential features that any offshore cruising yacht should have

Choosing a boat for offshore cruising is not a decision to be taken lightly. I have researched this topic on dozens of rallies, speaking to hundred of skippers. Everyone you speak to will have a different point of view about which boat is best and why, but few question the importance of getting it right.

No matter what your budget, there is a bewildering array of choice and a number of important decisions to make, any one of which could severely impact the enjoyment and eventual success of your voyage. What follows may serve as a checklist for first-timers as well as seasoned ocean sailors in helping to decide the essential elements concerning safety, comfort, performance and functionality, looking at the hull, deck, rig and interior.

HULL, KEEL AND RUDDER

Deciding on the size of a boat is not only the most important choice, but also the most difficult, and it is here that most serious mistakes are made. Some people choose a boat that is too large for their requirements, too difficult to handle short-handed and more expensive to run and maintain. Electric winches, furlers and bow-thrusters have made larger boats much easier to handle, but ask yourself this: ‘Can I sail this boat with just my partner or, in an emergency, on my own?’

But having said all that, my research shows that more owners complain about their boat being too small. It is a well-known fact that lack of space or privacy can have a negative effect on morale and lead to friction among crew on a long passage.

Monohull versus multihull

Deciding whether to go for one hull or two is perhaps an even more difficult choice than that of size. With regards to three hulls – I am yet to be persuaded that trimarans are suitable to be sailed on offshore passages by a small family crew.

In the early days there were similar doubts about the suitability of catamarans for offshore sailing, but their design has greatly improved, architects have put a lot of thought into their safety, while builders have done their best to produce strong, seaworthy craft. Their ever-increasing popularity among long-distance cruisers is the best proof of that. As they have many advantages over a monohull of the same length, I have an open mind on the subject of one hull or two.

However, those who plan to set off in a catamaran on a long voyage must choose their route carefully to minimise the risk of encountering dangerous weather. Always observe the safe seasons, and be aware of a catamaran’s weak points. Catamarans are much less forgiving than monohulls when weather conditions deteriorate. A catamaran needs to be helped to overcome extreme conditions, whereas a well-found monohull can be battened down and left to its own devices.

Rudders

According to various search and rescue authorities and figures compiled by the ARC and other offshore rallies, more cruising boats have been abandoned in the last 30 years because of rudder failure than for any other reason. A recent example is that of the yacht Dove II, which lost its rudder 400 miles east of Barbados while on passage to the Caribbean in December 2016. The crew, a couple with their children and another crewmember, were unable to improvise an emergency steering system and had to be rescued, abandoning the boat.

Rudders are an essential design feature that should dictate the choice of boat. Suspended rudders have gradually migrated from racing to cruising boats and, unprotected by at least a partial skeg, are extremely vulnerable. If you cannot avoid a boat with this kind of rudder, at least insist that the lower half of the rudder is sacrificial, as this is where it is most likely to be hit by debris. Regardless of the type of rudder, there must be an adequate emergency backup steering system that is easy to set up and known to all members of the crew.

On my Garcia Exploration 45, Aventura IV, a boat that I helped to design to my exact specifications, the two aluminium rudders are supported by skegs. As an added protection, the upper section of the rudder blades is made of light composite material that will crumple and compress without causing any damage to the hull itself. This is exactly what happened in a collision with a large lump of ice in the Arctic and the rudder continued to function normally for several thousand miles until repairs could be made.

Keel, draught and displacement

In all my research on the subject of ideal draught and keel type, there was a consensus that a fixed keel may be better suited for ocean passages, whereas shallow draught, whether with a shorter keel and bulb or a centreboard arrangement, was preferable when cruising. My two last boats had a centreboard and I can state unequivocally that both from the safety and convenience point of view, a centreboard works perfectly, both when exploring shallow areas and on passage.

Displacement should be a serious consideration for those interested in sailing performance, as I know too well from personal experience. At nine tons for her 36ft, my first Aventura was on the heavy side and an indifferent sailer in light winds.

I was determined to get a boat with a lighter displacement for my third Aventura. Indeed Aventura III’s designed displacement of 9.5 tons for a beamy 43-footer was as close to perfect as possible and I always made sure to keep her weight down to a reasonable level.

Hull material

As in the case of displacement, unless hull material is put at the top of the list of priorities, or you order a one-off, this is another decision that may be taken out of your hands. In most cases boats are built in the most suitable material the architect and builder have agreed upon. For a long voyage the builder might be persuaded to put some additional strength in critical areas, so it is worth discussing this as early as possible in the process so that such modifications can be done during the initial building stages.

Metal hulls, whether steel or aluminium, are attractive for their intrinsic strength, but there are disadvantages to both materials as well. Steel hulls and decks need good initial preparation for painting, and then careful maintenance throughout the boat’s lifetime. In the case of aluminium hulls, some people may be concerned about the risk of electrolytic reaction. This is quite unjustified: modern alloys as well as building methods have taken care of that.

SAILS, DECK GEAR AND RIGGING

For a long voyage one should make sure that the mainsail is made as strong as possible, with double, ideally triple UV-resistant zigzag-stitching and protection patches in the areas where the sail may touch the spreaders when fully let out. The furling foresail(s) should be provided with anti-UV strips.

I have considered the subject of the type of mainsail on a cruising boat and have no doubt that a fully battened mainsail, with slab reefing, is still the best answer for those who are interested in performance. Mainsail furling systems have evolved, and some of the boom furling arrangements combine the best of two worlds, by offering a quick and easy way to reduce sail surface, and, as the furling mainsail is provided with battens, the loss of performance is quite minimal.

Spinnakers and headsails

Spinnakers should be provided with adequate dousers or it will be difficult to drop them in a squall when this needs to be done quickly. While there isn’t much to choose between well-cut spinnakers, some dousers are better than others. Ideally, as on the Parasailor, the collar should be rigid and not made of soft material. The douser collar should also have a wide enough mouth to snuff the spinnaker easily.

Various light weather sails, such as asymmetric spinnakers, code zeros, cruising chutes, gennakers etc, come with their own furling gear, and can be a useful addition to the sailing wardrobe, as they are relatively easy to set up and take down on a short-handed boat.

Continues below…

Rigging

Initially I was determined to have a cutter rig on Aventura IV, but was eventually persuaded that a fractional rig with swept-back spreaders would be more efficient than a standard cutter rig. Indeed, the Solent jib performed very well when close-hauled and the mast was also much better stayed than on the previous Aventura. But I still insisted on a split rig, with a staysail set on an inner forestay to be used in stronger winds. It was a good solution and reinforced my conviction that the flexibility provided by a two-foresail configuration is a major advantage on any boat over 40ft.

While setting up the running rigging it is a good idea to have a close look at the existing deck layout and the run of the various sheets and lines, which should have a clear unobstructed run back to the cockpit helped by turning blocks at critical points.

As to halyards, the mast should have enough dedicated channels for spinnaker and foresail halyards, and their backups. On Aventura IV, the mainsail halyard was of Dyneema non-stretch material and I decided to have the boom topping lift from the same material so as to have a permanent backup for the mainsail halyard. I always prefer to have two spinnaker halyards so they can be used on the lee side when the sail is hoisted. The same halyards were used for the code 0 sail.

Deck layout

An efficient and functional deck layout is an essential safety feature that allows me and my crew to do most of the sail handling jobs from the cockpit. It is essential that the lines coming to the cockpit are colour coded and brought to individual clutches. The same goes for the control lines from the furling gear. Some production boats fail badly in this respect.

For tradewind conditions, use a fixed pole when running or broad reaching. It is a simple and efficient system that I have used on all my boats, and one I highly recommend.

For efficient sail handling, especially when short-handed, electric winches are almost indispensible. For example, when a foresail needs to be furled quickly before a squall arrives, the furling line can be wound on the electric winch at the touch of a button, while the other hand can ease the sheet gradually as the sail is being furled. This effortless operation rarely takes more than one minute. It works equally well when reefing the mainsail from the cockpit, with the reefing line being hauled in by the electric winch while the halyard is paid out manually.

CREATURE COMFORTS

Comfortable sea berths are essential on an offshore passage and there should be at least one all-weather bunk for the person off watch. As we normally spend most of our day sitting, serious thought should also be given to comfortable seating both in the main cabin and cockpit. One aspect that is easily neglected if planning to sail with crew is to have two heads compartments.

Good insulation as well as adequate ventilation with sufficient hatches and dorade boxes for rough weather are features often missing on production boats built for temperate climates. They are vital for cruising in the tropics. Good ventilation and sound insulation are essential for the engine room.

A well thought-out galley should be a priority. Compact, U or L-shaped galleys are to be preferred over open-plan ones. There should be sufficient storage space in the immediate area of the galley so that all essential items are within easy reach.

Good cockpit protection was one of the main items mentioned by the surveyed captains when questioned about essential features on an offshore cruising boat. Some designers have managed to provide this useful feature by incorporating a hard dodger without spoiling the overall looks of the boat, but the majority continue to be limited to soft dodgers.

Engine location and size

The engine location and general accessibility are features that can easily be overlooked although they should be a high priority. All points that need regular inspection or maintenance should be easily accessible. Equally important is easy access to the main components: alternator(s), belts, starter motor, seawater pump and impeller, injectors, oil changing, fuel and oil filters, engine intake seacock, seawater trap, transmission and stern glands.

This is a very tall order and few production monohulls under 40ft would meet half of those requirements. This is one aspect where catamarans win hands down as their engines are normally located in the stern, and in most cases there is enough space around the engine to make them accessible from all sides.

Most cruising sailors, and that includes me, reckon their boat needs a bigger engine. The old yardstick has always been one horsepower per foot of length. Some prefer a slightly higher ratio of 1.2hp per foot of length. Others use a different yardstick by aiming for 5hp per ton of displacement. I broadly agree with the latter.

SAFETY

Whenever I am invited to express an opinion on a yacht, I always start by looking at the boat primarily from the safety point of view. Very few boats satisfy me on all the following questions:

• How well protected is the cockpit?
• How exposed is the person at the helm?
• How safe is it to work at the foot of the mast or on the foredeck?
• Are there sufficient handrails provided?
• Do stanchions and lifelines look strong and reliable?
• How dangerously low does the boom pass across the cockpit?
• How easily accessible is the main bilge and is it provided with a pump of adequate capacity, as well as an emergency backup?
• How accessible is the steering mechanism and what provision has been made for an emergency?
• Is the liferaft stowed in an easily accessible place from where it can be launched by the weakest member of the crew?
• How can the dinghy be stowed safely while on passage?
• How easily accessible is the anchor chain?
• How easy it is to board the boat from the water or retrieve an overboard person?

Jimmy Cornell

DECISION TIME

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new,” Albert Einstein

This is why it is so important to learn not only from your own mistakes, but also from those made by others. At one recent rally it struck me that many of the participants’ boats were well prepared, yet they themselves were not. Too much seemed to have been neglected or left until the last minute, from onboard email capability to essential spares, not to speak of a backup for the autopilot.

I discussed this subject with an old friend whose comments perfectly echo my own views: “We have the great advantage of having started off by sailing on simple boats with no sophisticated equipment. Once you have sailed on such a boat you can easily adjust to a more sophisticated boat, but not the other way around. ”

There is certainly a bewildering choice of yachts and equipment available today, but if you consider the essential features listed here and then prepare yourself and your chosen yacht as thoroughly and as early as possible, you will be in better shape for completing long voyages in greater safety and comfort than we were when we first started off.

The post The perfect boat: what makes an ideal offshore cruising yacht? appeared first on Yachting World.

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Vestas skipper gives first account of fatal collision, and Volvo Race launch report on racing in high traffic areas

Vestas skipper gives first account of fatal collision, and Volvo Race launch report on racing in high traffic areas

Mark Towill, skipper of Volvo Ocean Race entry Vestas 11th Hour Racing, gives his account of the fatal collision on their approach to Hong Kong, and race organisers launch an independent report into racing in high traffic areas at night

A crew member of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing team walks on their damaged yacht, as it sits in a dock for repairs after a collision with a fishing vessel during the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, Photo: VIVEK PRAKASH/AFP/Getty Images

Following the collision between Vestas 11th Hour Racing and a fishing vessel in the final stages of the Volvo Ocean Race Leg 4 into Hong Kong on 19 January, which led to the death of a fishing vessel crew member, the Vestas 11th Hour Racing team has issued an update.

In a statement put out today, Vestas 11th Hour Racing reported: “The team has now been informed that investigations by the Hong Kong and mainland China authorities will be closed shortly with no further action to be taken.”

This morning Vestas 11th Hour Racing has released an account from Mark Towill, who was skipper for Leg 4, when the incident took place. It reads:

Vestas 11th Hour Racing co-founder, Mark Towill, spent time at home with family and friends after departing the Volvo Ocean Race Hong Kong stopover where the team’s VO65 was involved in a tragic accident with a fishing vessel.

Towill has now regrouped with the team and their VO65 yacht in Auckland, New Zealand, ahead of the next leg of the race. The team has now been informed that investigations by the Hong Kong and mainland China authorities will be closed shortly with no further action to be taken. As a result, Towill gives us his account on what happened in the early hours of January 20 in the approach to Hong Kong.

What happened as you approached the finish line of Leg 4? 

We were about 30 nautical miles from the finish, and I was at the navigation station monitoring the radar and AIS (Automatic Identification System), and communicating with the crew on-deck through the intercom. I was watching three vessels on AIS: a cable layer, which we had just passed, a vessel farther ahead moving across our bow and away, and a third vessel identified as a fishing vessel. There were a number of additional boats on AIS, many of them fishing vessels, but these three were the only ones identified in our vicinity.

What were the conditions like? What could you see?

It was a dark and cloudy night, with a breeze of around 20 knots and a moderate sea state. As we approached the fishing vessel that we had identified on AIS, the on-deck crew confirmed visual contact – the fishing vessel was well lit – and we headed up to starboard to keep clear. I was watching AIS and communicating the range and bearing to the crew. The crew confirmed we were crossing the fishing vessel when, before the anticipated cross, there was an unexpected collision.

Mark Towill was skippering Vestas 11th Hour Racing for Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race

What happened immediately after the collision?

So much happened so fast. The impact from the collision spun us into a tack to port that we weren’t prepared for. Everyone who was off watch came on deck. Everyone on our boat was safe and accounted for. We checked the bow, saw the hole in the port side and went below to assess the damage. Water was flowing into our boat through the hole, and there was concern over the structural integrity of the bow.

How did you control the ingress of water?

We heeled the boat to starboard to keep the port bow out of the water. The sail stack was already to starboard and the starboard water ballast tank was full. We also kept the keel canted to starboard. We placed our emergency pump in the bow to pump water overboard. We were able to minimize the ingress, but the boat was difficult to maneuver because it was heeled over so much.

What actions did you take immediately after getting your boat under control?

It took roughly 20 minutes to get our boat under control, and then we headed back towards the location of the collision. Upon arrival, several people on a fishing vessel nearby were shining lights to a point on the water. Our first thought was that they could be looking for someone, so we immediately started a search and rescue. After some time searching, we eventually spotted a person in the water.

Who were you in communication with? Did anyone offer assistance?

We tried to contact the other vessel involved in the collision, and alerted race control straight away. When we initiated the search and rescue, our navigator immediately issued a Mayday distress call over VHF channel 16 on behalf of the fishing vessel. There were many vessels in the area, including a cruise ship with a hospital bay, but they were all standing by.

Communication was difficult. The sheer volume of traffic on the radio meant it was hard to communicate to the people we needed to. Not many people on the VHF were speaking English, but we found a way to relay messages through a cable laying vessel, and they were able to send their guard boat to aid in the search and rescue.

Race tracker from the time of the search and rescue operation

How was the casualty retrieved?

Difficult conditions and limited maneuverability hampered our initial efforts to retrieve the casualty. The guard boat from the cable layer provided assistance and every effort was made from all parties involved in the search and rescue. We were finally able to successfully recover the casualty after several attempts. When we got him aboard, our medics started CPR. We alerted Hong Kong Marine Rescue Coordination Centre that we had the casualty aboard and they confirmed air support was on its way. He was transferred to a helicopter and taken to a Hong Kong hospital where medical staff where unable to revive him.

Did any of your competitors offer assistance?

Dongfeng Race Team offered assistance. At the time, we were coordinating the search and rescue with multiple vessels, including the cable layer that had a crewman who spoke Chinese and English and was relaying our communication. We advised Dongfeng that they were not needed as there were a number of vessels in the area that were closer.

Team AkzoNobel arrived while the air transfer was in effect. Race control requested that they stand by and they did, and we later released them once the helicopter transfer was complete.

What happened after the search and rescue procedure was completed?

Once we knew there was nothing more we could do at the scene of the accident, we ensured our boat was still secure, and informed Volvo Ocean Race that we would retire from the leg and motor to shore. We arrived at the technical area nearby the race village and met with race officials and local authorities to give our account of what happened.

 

Damage visible to Vestas 11th Hour Racing as it was shipped from Hong Kong to Auckland for repairs

It has also been announced that Volvo Ocean Race organisers have commissioned an independent report into ocean racing at night in areas of high vessel traffic density, ‘to establish what steps race organisers may take to mitigate risk going forward.’

The report will be conducted by an Independent Report Team (IRT), chaired by Rear Admiral Chris Oxenbould AO RAN (Rtd), former deputy chief of the Australian Navy and an experienced ocean racing yachtsman. He will be assisted by highly respected ocean racer and navigational expert Stan Honey, and Chuck Hawley, former chairman of the US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee.

The report team will examine all the issues associated with racing a Volvo Ocean 65, or similar racing boat, at night in areas of high vessel traffic density, drawing on the experiences in recent editions of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Any findings from the report that could benefit the wider sailing community will be released. It is intended that the report will be made available to Volvo Ocean Race by June 2018.

Phil Lawrence, Race Director, stated: “Understandably, there has been a lot of reaction to this incident in the sailing community, but the fact is, it takes time to make a responsible assessment of what could be done differently to minimise risk and increase safety.

“Our sailors, as qualified professionals, understand their responsibilities under the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, Racing Rules of Sailing and the Rules of the Volvo Ocean Race.

“As race organisers, we will continue to evaluate safety as we race over the coming months and take the appropriate steps to minimise risk.” concluded Lawrence.

Repairs to the VO65 have been progressing well, and the team plan to rejoin the race for Leg 7

Vestas 11th Hour Racing has confirmed that following substantial repairs to their VO65, they will rejoin the Volvo Ocean Race fleet for Leg 7, from Auckland to Itajaii, Brazil.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing statement:

Just after 0100 hours on the morning of January 20 (local Hong Kong time), Vestas 11th Hour Racing was involved in a collision with a fishing vessel. Shortly after the accident, nine Chinese fishermen were rescued, however, one other very sadly perished. The Vestas 11th Hour Racing crew were not injured, but the VO65 race yacht suffered significant damage to its port bow.

The loss of a life still weighs heavily on the minds of Mark Towill and Charlie Enright, the co-founders of the team, and every other team member. “On behalf of the team, our thoughts and prayers go out to the deceased’s family,” said 29-year-old Towill. Out of respect for the process, the deceased and his family, the team has remained silent throughout the investigation.

Towill was skipper on Leg 4 because Enright had to sit out due to a family crisis. During Leg 3, from South Africa to Australia, Enright’s 2-year-old son had been admitted to the hospital with a case of bacterial pneumonia. Immediately before the end of Leg 4, Enright traveled to Hong Kong to greet the crew at the finish line, but instead had to play an active role in the crisis management process from the shore.

“I have been asked if it would have been different if I was onboard. Definitely not,” said Enright. “The crew has been well trained in crisis situations and performed as they should. They knew what to do and I think they did a phenomenal job given the circumstances. There comes a point when family is more important than the job you’ve been hired to do and I was at that point. I did what was best for my family.”

“The team was engaged in search and rescue for more than two hours with a compromised race boat,” Enright said. “I’m very proud of our crew. We were in a very difficult situation with the damage to the bow, but everyone acted professionally and without hesitation,” added Towill.

Despite the badly damaged bow, Towill and the crew of the stricken Vestas 11th Hour Racing boat carried out a search and rescue effort, which culminated in a casualty being retrieved and transferred to a helicopter, with the assistance of Hong Kong Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre.

A new bow section was made by Persico in Italy, and shipped to Auckland Photo: Virgilio Fidanza/Persico Marine

The Vestas 11th Hour Racing VO65 was shipped to New Zealand from Hong Kong on January 28. A new port bow section was laid up over a VO65 hull mould at Persico Marine in Italy and then sent to New Zealand, where it was spliced to the hull of the team’s VO65 in the past two weeks.

Enright and Towill both complimented team manager Bill Erkelens, who has played a central role keeping the team together since the accident. Erkelens put together Enright and Towill’s program in the 2014-’15 Volvo Ocean Race and he was the first person they hired for the current team.

The team hopes to relaunch their VO65 in the coming days and will then spend some time practicing and possibly complete an overnight sail.

We take a closer look at the events of the collision, and other incidents which took place during the Melbourne to Hong Kong leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, in the April 2018 issue of Yachting World, out on 8 March, 2018.

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Team AkzoNobel grasps a nail-biting Volvo Ocean Race Leg 6 win

Team AkzoNobel grasps a nail-biting Volvo Ocean Race Leg 6 win

Just two minutes split 1st and 2nd in Leg 6 in the Volvo Ocean Race after 6,344 miles and 20 days of racing, while Dee Caffari saw a podium finish snatched away at the last minute

Leg 6 to Auckland, arrivals. 27 February, 2018.

twJust two minutes and 14 seconds separated the winner and the runner-up of Leg 6 in the Volvo Ocean Race after 6,344 miles and 20 days of racing. Less than half an hour separated the top five boats.

Wind back 24 hours before the boats arrive in Auckland and it was clear that there was a battle royale for the win shaping up between Team AkzoNobel and Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. The duo, who had tied at the front for two weeks solid, were split by less than 0.1 miles as they rounded the North Cape of New Zealand.

With a day to go, apparently safe in 3rd was Turn the Tide on Plastic, Dee Caffari’s team enjoying a solid 90-mile advantage over Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE. It looked as if the Auckland podium might not feature any of the pre-race favourites.

Dee’s team had gone from 6th to front-runners over the course of Leg 6. Racing south through the Pacific on the approach to Vanuatu Turn the Tide took the lead  from Brunel, while MAPFRE and Dongfeng languished at the back of the fleet. The blue boat was enjoying their moment in the sun.

Big seas for the fleet in the first week of the leg, racing in the South China Sea from Hong Kong to Auckland

A tough Doldrums crossing for Team Brunel

While Brunel made an error at New Calendonia that converted them to the back of the fleet, Turn the Tide held their place with the front runners. The trio of Turn the Tide, AkzoNobel and Scallywag lined up for an easterly course for New Zealand, with MAPFRE and Dongfeng 100 miles behind – the frustrations on the red boats coming through loud and clear on the onboard footage.

But a ridge of high pressure off the north east coast of New Zealand slowed the leaders, and a game of cat-and-mouse was on. Dongfeng and MAPFRE relentlessly chased down the leading pack, but until the very final hours it seemed as if they had left themselves too much to do.

At the front, Scallywag and AkzoNobel duelled their way around the North Island, the lead swopping constantly. It wasn’t until the final gybe off Rangitoto that AkzoNobel were able to nudge ahead, holding a marginal advantage into Viaduct Harbour to win by 2m 14s – their first big result of the race.

“It’s been a 6,500 mile match race, it’s unreal,” said AkzoNobel skipper Tienpont. “I’ve never sailed a race like this in my life. We’ve always been in each other’s sights. They were always there. It’s been neck and neck. Huge respect to Scallywag, they never stopped fighting and we never stopped defending. I’m so proud of our crew. They never flinched.”

For Scallywag a second top-two placing in a row has moved them up to 3rd overall – a fact skipper David Witt enjoyed needling the Volvo commentary team about as they spoke after the finish, he teased: “You’ve done a 180! You rate us now?!” [Look out next issue for our profile of David Witt, out on 8 March ]

“Our team never gives up,” said Witt on the dock. “We just didn’t pull it off this time. We had our chances, but AkzoNobel were just a little bit too good this time. But we’ve come a long way since leg one.”

Just boat lengths in it between Scallywag and AkzoNobel on the final morning’s approach into Auckland, 27 February, 2018.

Behind them, Turn the Tide on Plastic was being hunted. Cat and mouse sounds fun, but it’s actually a game of cruelty. Well, it is if you’re the mouse. MAPFRE and then Dongfeng rolled past the blue boat with just 20 miles still to go. Caffari’s team fought back, holding off Dongfeng for a final push, but in the end slipped to 5th.

It was a tough outcome for a team that had really found their form in Leg 6 and outsmarted the race leaders at some key stages.

Skipper Caffari said she was ‘gutted, even I don’t know what to say.”

“We had a good race, and we thought we were going to have a better result. But those pesky red boats always seem to get it their way.”

Dongfeng skipper Caudrelier magnanimously sympathised with her team, commenting on the dock: “We’re sorry for Turn the Tide on Plastic.

“They did a fantastic race and I think they deserved a third place finish, but that’s sailing, they’ve been unlucky today and we managed to come back… It was a good surprise.”

There was spectacular drone footage of Dongfeng slaloming through the reefs and islands on this Pacific leg

Interestingly, Scallywag and Turn the Tide were running a very different set-up to other teams for this leg, with both doubling up on navigators. On Scallywag Antonio Fontes returned after recovering from an arm injury sustained on the Cape Town to Melbourne stage, while Libby Greenhalgh, their navigator for the Melbourne to Hong Kong leg which saw Scally’s fortunes reversed with a leg win, remained on board.

Meanwhile on Turn the Tide on Plastic Brian Thompson worked alongside Nico Lunven, the pair explaining during one of the onboard broadcasts that Lunven worked on long-term strategy, while Thompson focussed on the more immediate navigation decisions. Caffari commented at the time how beneficial it was having somebody literally in the navigation station 24 hours a day, which is a big switch from how many of the Volvo 65s were raced last time around with smaller crews.

The leaderboard has seen some changes also – MAPFRE now have a strong lead on 39 points, with Dongfeng on 34, but Scallywag has pulled up to 3rd overall with 26. AkzoNobel and Vestas 11th Hour Racing are also tied on 23 points apiece. The next leg, from Auckland to Itajaí is the longest of the race, at 7,600 Southern Ocean miles. It also has double points for the winner and a bonus point for rounding Cape Horn first up for grabs: this race is far from over.

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Beached, abandoned mid-ocean, capsized… Acapella, the invincible little yellow trimaran

Beached, abandoned mid-ocean, capsized… Acapella, the invincible little yellow trimaran

A Capella is an iconic 37-year-old trimaran that has been abandoned and rebuilt three times, but will line up for the start of this year’s Route du Rhum solo transatlantic race

Acapella (the sister ship of Mike Birch famous Olympus) built by Walter Green in 1980 and skippered by Charlie Capelle, preparing to take part in “La Route du Rhum” 2018, La Trinite-sur-Mer, Brittany, France.

They say a cat has nine lives, A Capella is a trimaran which seems to have twice as many, writes Andi Robertson.

Next year the Route du Rhum, the storied French solo race from St Malo to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Part of the magic of this November 2018 edition will be a widely anticipated friendly showdown between three Walter Greene 12m (36ft) trimarans. The trio are near-sisterships to the tiny Olympus Photo that won the first ever Route du Rhum in 1978.

When skipper Mike Birch and the seemingly diminutive trimaran stole victory on the finish line by 98 seconds from under the nose of Michael Malinovski’s much fancied 21m monohull Kriter V, after 23 days of racing, it ensured the Route du Rhum would be forever synonymous with multihulls.

Acapella starting the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race ©Sportography

The 2018 race will be the sixth Rhum for Charlie Capelle’s faithful A Capella. A Capella (the name virtually homonymic with his surname Capelle, entirely coincidentally) is a remarkable trimaran which has refused to die, thanks to her faithful, deeply smitten owner.

Capelle’s personal association with the five-boat series of Acapella trimarans goes back to 1978 and Even Keel Road in Yarmouth, Maine, where Capelle learnt his craft boat building at the designer and builder Walter Greene’s yard. He has since worked on projects including Banque Populaire and Sodebo.

This particular A Capella was originally built for American sailor Spencer Merz as the third in the series after Birch’s Olympus, which was subsequently lost, and the second boat, Phil Steggall’s Friends and Lovers. In order to fund the boat, Merz chartered it to Philippe Poupon for the 1981 TwoSTAR race between Plymouth and Newport. Poupon went to Maine to see her, meeting up with Capelle then.

Capelle smiles at the still vivid memory, “Philou [Poupon] asked me to sail the boat back to Europe with him. Once back, Philou said ‘You might as well do the race with me.’ It was then I discovered a magical boat. Extraordinary. Intelligent. When I came back here, I set up my own yard.”

Acapella (the sister ship of Mike Birch famous Olympus) built by Walter Green in 1980 and skippered by Charlie Capelle, is preparing to take part in “La Route du Rhum” 2018 ©Christophe Launay

The automatic capsize system (ACS) is very simple. A pin keeps the sheets in two large Harken cam cleats. If the system detects a capsize then the pin is removed. It requires a certain amount of seamanship to set up the system and ensure that there are not too many wraps around the winch which the sheet needs to be released from. Or, if the sheets have been in place for some time, to make sure that salt has not encrusted them to such an extent that even when the system wants to release they stay stuck on the winch. As A Capella is smaller than IDEC, on which the system was developed, the movement of the yacht is such that the ACS can think a capsize is imminent when in fact it is not. Hence Capelle uses a ‘manual’ variant of the system, which works in the same way, except he has a button on a piece of string around his neck which fires the pin. ©Christophe Launay

Interior comforts are limited but stylish, with a custom-made chair, and original wooden fittings

The Acapella trimarans were designed and built as if to prove their strength, speed and longevity. Capelle recalls: “Walter Greene taught me how to build boats using moulded wood and epoxy with floats made of composites. There was a classic aluminium rig.

“What was interesting about these boats was that they were built with economy in mind in terms of the construction and fittings. They started to attract people. Mike won the 1978 Route du Rhum, proving that it was possible for a 38ft trimaran to cross the Atlantic and win races. All of today’s designers were impressed and influenced by the Acapella trimarans. These were pioneering boats and I just happened to be involved with them. Forty years on, I build boats and am lucky to be able to take part in races like the Route du Rhum and Fastnet.”

Chequered history

In 1982 A Capella did her first Route du Rhum sailed by Yves Le Cornec, who subsequently came up with the idea for the Trophée Jules Verne. He hit a wreck, the boat was disastrously dismasted and started sinking. She was beached near Brest in 1983.

“The guy who bought her from the insurance company contacted me as he couldn’t repair it by himself. He said I could buy the boat, but I didn’t have the money. A friend lent me the money to buy the wreck. I filled in all the holes down on the beach and rigged up some makeshift floats to sail her to La Trinité,” Capelle recalls.

“It took me seven years to restore her. I did it in my own time as I never wanted to mix my work at the yard with A Capella. It was always me alone working on the boat.”

The navstation is minimalist by modern ocean racing standards. Capelle will have a router for the Route du Rhum: the router’s job is not to give him the fastest route but rather the safest, keeping him away from larger swells and stronger winds. For Capelle the Rhum is an adventure and not a race, his aim is to prove to younger generations that it is still possible to sail competitively, enjoying yourself without multimillion Euro budgets.

The vintage yellow livery is even used for deck hardware such as this turning block

In 1998 Capelle sailed her to 2nd place in Class 3 in the Route du Rhum. For the delivery back from Guadeloupe he left A Capella in the hands of two friends. In May the following year on the transatlantic delivery home they hit a huge storm and capsized.

“The coastguards recovered my friends but the boat was declared lost, [then found] 18 months later. She managed to complete the Atlantic crossing upside down all alone and ended up in Galicia. But the local authorities didn’t inform us. The local kids used her as a toy to play around on. It was Nigel Irens who told me where she was and what was going on.”

Capelle went to Galicia and once again set out to bring his stricken craft back under jury rig. The boat was almost immediately dismasted off Cape Finisterre and was towed back by the coastguards. There he met Jean Luc van den Heede who offered to tow him under sail all the way back to La Trinité.

“I got hold of a long line and he managed to bring me all the way. I rebuilt her completely for the second time. Then I decided to do the Route du Rhum in 2006.

“The boat went upside down near where she was previously dismasted off Cape Finisterre. There was a bug with the autopilot, and three boats capsized with the same problem. There was a Class 40 not far from me sailed by Philippe Legros, who picked me up. I left my beacon on the boat, so we could find her again.”

Four days later he was dropped off at the Azores where he immediately chartered a tuna fishing boat from Yeu Island, and ten days later they found the capsized A Capella and towed her, yet again, back to la Trinité. “They were four difficult years. I told myself it was my fault she had capsized. Even if the big names told me that happens, but I couldn’t cope with it. I rebuilt her again, but this time only partially as she had only spent ten days in the water and the mast didn’t break. I saved the engine and got her back in shape.”

The indefatigable Capelle was back on the startline of the Rhum in 2010, slightly more cautious but still as in love with the race and his boat as ever.

“It was a tough Route du Rhum for me, because I was afraid of capsizing. This time I decided to bring her home on a cargo ship!”

The lifting daggerboards are now carbon, as are the floats, thanks to Capelle’s expertise

The mast is set on a stainless steel ball, and can be both rotated and canted

Back in the game

In between times, the fiery yellow A Capella has done dozens of other races, the Armen Race, the Fastnet, the SNSM, and inshore series. Capelle explains: “In France for two years I was Multi 2000 champion on her. I’ll be taking part in the next Route du Rhum, the sixth for A Capella and the fifth with me.

“She’s a boat that doesn’t want to die. Each time she capsizes, she comes back again. Each time people tell me I’m crazy. But I go for it each time and rebuild her.”

Capelle competed in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race, finishing fourth in the MOCRA multihull class. He describes the start as epic. “The exit out of the Solent was the best part of the race; straight out into a seaway. And the south coast of England was so beautiful I wanted to stop and visit.

“Downwind after the Rock was extremely hard work – this is her Achilles heel in a certain respect – as the boat is not adapted for large swell downwind in breeze. It is an extremely wet boat.” They raced three-up and all three remained on deck for the entire period from the Fastnet Rock to the arrival in Plymouth, with one on the helm and two on the sheets.

Next year’s Route du Rhum will be a rematch of the ‘Golden Oldies’, multihulls built before 1988. The trimarans have also raced each other in the Trophée SNSM, where Peyron’s Happy proved slightly faster than A Capella.

But Capelle says the result is not his main reason for competing in the 40th anniversary event: “The Rhum is an adventure for me. I try to do my best and see how I do against the others, but that is not the main goal for me. The aim is to finish and to continue the history of the Acapellas.”

SPECIFICATIONS

Length   12m (39ft 4in)

Beam   7.8m (25ft 7in)

Mast Height   16.8m (55ft 1in)

Displacement 2.5 tonnes

Build   Wood/epoxy

Design   Walter Greene &Nigel Irens, 1978

Additional translation by Tim Carrie.

The post Beached, abandoned mid-ocean, capsized… Acapella, the invincible little yellow trimaran appeared first on Yachting World.

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Beached, abandoned mid-ocean, capsized… Acapella, the invincible little yellow trimaran

Beached, abandoned mid-ocean, capsized… Acapella, the invincible little yellow trimaran

A Capella is an iconic 37-year-old trimaran that has been abandoned and rebuilt three times, but will line up for the start of this year’s Route du Rhum solo transatlantic race

Acapella (the sister ship of Mike Birch famous Olympus) built by Walter Green in 1980 and skippered by Charlie Capelle, preparing to take part in “La Route du Rhum” 2018, La Trinite-sur-Mer, Brittany, France.

They say a cat has nine lives, A Capella is a trimaran which seems to have twice as many, writes Andi Robertson.

Next year the Route du Rhum, the storied French solo race from St Malo to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Part of the magic of this November 2018 edition will be a widely anticipated friendly showdown between three Walter Greene 12m (36ft) trimarans. The trio are near-sisterships to the tiny Olympus Photo that won the first ever Route du Rhum in 1978.

When skipper Mike Birch and the seemingly diminutive trimaran stole victory on the finish line by 98 seconds from under the nose of Michael Malinovski’s much fancied 21m monohull Kriter V, after 23 days of racing, it ensured the Route du Rhum would be forever synonymous with multihulls.

Acapella starting the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race ©Sportography

The 2018 race will be the sixth Rhum for Charlie Capelle’s faithful A Capella. A Capella (the name virtually homonymic with his surname Capelle, entirely coincidentally) is a remarkable trimaran which has refused to die, thanks to her faithful, deeply smitten owner.

Capelle’s personal association with the five-boat series of Acapella trimarans goes back to 1978 and Even Keel Road in Yarmouth, Maine, where Capelle learnt his craft boat building at the designer and builder Walter Greene’s yard. He has since worked on projects including Banque Populaire and Sodebo.

This particular A Capella was originally built for American sailor Spencer Merz as the third in the series after Birch’s Olympus, which was subsequently lost, and the second boat, Phil Steggall’s Friends and Lovers. In order to fund the boat, Merz chartered it to Philippe Poupon for the 1981 TwoSTAR race between Plymouth and Newport. Poupon went to Maine to see her, meeting up with Capelle then.

Capelle smiles at the still vivid memory, “Philou [Poupon] asked me to sail the boat back to Europe with him. Once back, Philou said ‘You might as well do the race with me.’ It was then I discovered a magical boat. Extraordinary. Intelligent. When I came back here, I set up my own yard.”

Acapella (the sister ship of Mike Birch famous Olympus) built by Walter Green in 1980 and skippered by Charlie Capelle, is preparing to take part in “La Route du Rhum” 2018 ©Christophe Launay

The automatic capsize system (ACS) is very simple. A pin keeps the sheets in two large Harken cam cleats. If the system detects a capsize then the pin is removed. It requires a certain amount of seamanship to set up the system and ensure that there are not too many wraps around the winch which the sheet needs to be released from. Or, if the sheets have been in place for some time, to make sure that salt has not encrusted them to such an extent that even when the system wants to release they stay stuck on the winch. As A Capella is smaller than IDEC, on which the system was developed, the movement of the yacht is such that the ACS can think a capsize is imminent when in fact it is not. Hence Capelle uses a ‘manual’ variant of the system, which works in the same way, except he has a button on a piece of string around his neck which fires the pin. ©Christophe Launay

Interior comforts are limited but stylish, with a custom-made chair, and original wooden fittings

The Acapella trimarans were designed and built as if to prove their strength, speed and longevity. Capelle recalls: “Walter Greene taught me how to build boats using moulded wood and epoxy with floats made of composites. There was a classic aluminium rig.

“What was interesting about these boats was that they were built with economy in mind in terms of the construction and fittings. They started to attract people. Mike won the 1978 Route du Rhum, proving that it was possible for a 38ft trimaran to cross the Atlantic and win races. All of today’s designers were impressed and influenced by the Acapella trimarans. These were pioneering boats and I just happened to be involved with them. Forty years on, I build boats and am lucky to be able to take part in races like the Route du Rhum and Fastnet.”

Chequered history

In 1982 A Capella did her first Route du Rhum sailed by Yves Le Cornec, who subsequently came up with the idea for the Trophée Jules Verne. He hit a wreck, the boat was disastrously dismasted and started sinking. She was beached near Brest in 1983.

“The guy who bought her from the insurance company contacted me as he couldn’t repair it by himself. He said I could buy the boat, but I didn’t have the money. A friend lent me the money to buy the wreck. I filled in all the holes down on the beach and rigged up some makeshift floats to sail her to La Trinité,” Capelle recalls.

“It took me seven years to restore her. I did it in my own time as I never wanted to mix my work at the yard with A Capella. It was always me alone working on the boat.”

The navstation is minimalist by modern ocean racing standards. Capelle will have a router for the Route du Rhum: the router’s job is not to give him the fastest route but rather the safest, keeping him away from larger swells and stronger winds. For Capelle the Rhum is an adventure and not a race, his aim is to prove to younger generations that it is still possible to sail competitively, enjoying yourself without multimillion Euro budgets.

The vintage yellow livery is even used for deck hardware such as this turning block

In 1998 Capelle sailed her to 2nd place in Class 3 in the Route du Rhum. For the delivery back from Guadeloupe he left A Capella in the hands of two friends. In May the following year on the transatlantic delivery home they hit a huge storm and capsized.

“The coastguards recovered my friends but the boat was declared lost, [then found] 18 months later. She managed to complete the Atlantic crossing upside down all alone and ended up in Galicia. But the local authorities didn’t inform us. The local kids used her as a toy to play around on. It was Nigel Irens who told me where she was and what was going on.”

Capelle went to Galicia and once again set out to bring his stricken craft back under jury rig. The boat was almost immediately dismasted off Cape Finisterre and was towed back by the coastguards. There he met Jean Luc van den Heede who offered to tow him under sail all the way back to La Trinité.

“I got hold of a long line and he managed to bring me all the way. I rebuilt her completely for the second time. Then I decided to do the Route du Rhum in 2006.

“The boat went upside down near where she was previously dismasted off Cape Finisterre. There was a bug with the autopilot, and three boats capsized with the same problem. There was a Class 40 not far from me sailed by Philippe Legros, who picked me up. I left my beacon on the boat, so we could find her again.”

Four days later he was dropped off at the Azores where he immediately chartered a tuna fishing boat from Yeu Island, and ten days later they found the capsized A Capella and towed her, yet again, back to la Trinité. “They were four difficult years. I told myself it was my fault she had capsized. Even if the big names told me that happens, but I couldn’t cope with it. I rebuilt her again, but this time only partially as she had only spent ten days in the water and the mast didn’t break. I saved the engine and got her back in shape.”

The indefatigable Capelle was back on the startline of the Rhum in 2010, slightly more cautious but still as in love with the race and his boat as ever.

“It was a tough Route du Rhum for me, because I was afraid of capsizing. This time I decided to bring her home on a cargo ship!”

The lifting daggerboards are now carbon, as are the floats, thanks to Capelle’s expertise

The mast is set on a stainless steel ball, and can be both rotated and canted

Back in the game

In between times, the fiery yellow A Capella has done dozens of other races, the Armen Race, the Fastnet, the SNSM, and inshore series. Capelle explains: “In France for two years I was Multi 2000 champion on her. I’ll be taking part in the next Route du Rhum, the sixth for A Capella and the fifth with me.

“She’s a boat that doesn’t want to die. Each time she capsizes, she comes back again. Each time people tell me I’m crazy. But I go for it each time and rebuild her.”

Capelle competed in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race, finishing fourth in the MOCRA multihull class. He describes the start as epic. “The exit out of the Solent was the best part of the race; straight out into a seaway. And the south coast of England was so beautiful I wanted to stop and visit.

“Downwind after the Rock was extremely hard work – this is her Achilles heel in a certain respect – as the boat is not adapted for large swell downwind in breeze. It is an extremely wet boat.” They raced three-up and all three remained on deck for the entire period from the Fastnet Rock to the arrival in Plymouth, with one on the helm and two on the sheets.

Next year’s Route du Rhum will be a rematch of the ‘Golden Oldies’, multihulls built before 1988. The trimarans have also raced each other in the Trophée SNSM, where Peyron’s Happy proved slightly faster than A Capella.

But Capelle says the result is not his main reason for competing in the 40th anniversary event: “The Rhum is an adventure for me. I try to do my best and see how I do against the others, but that is not the main goal for me. The aim is to finish and to continue the history of the Acapellas.”

SPECIFICATIONS

Length   12m (39ft 4in)

Beam   7.8m (25ft 7in)

Mast Height   16.8m (55ft 1in)

Displacement 2.5 tonnes

Build   Wood/epoxy

Design   Walter Greene &Nigel Irens, 1978

Additional translation by Tim Carrie.

The post Beached, abandoned mid-ocean, capsized… Acapella, the invincible little yellow trimaran appeared first on Yachting World.

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Beached, abandoned mid-ocean, capsized… Acapella, the invincible little yellow trimaran

Beached, abandoned mid-ocean, capsized… Acapella, the invincible little yellow trimaran

A Capella is an iconic 37-year-old trimaran that has been abandoned and rebuilt three times, but will line up for the start of this year’s Route du Rhum solo transatlantic race

Acapella (the sister ship of Mike Birch famous Olympus) built by Walter Green in 1980 and skippered by Charlie Capelle, preparing to take part in “La Route du Rhum” 2018, La Trinite-sur-Mer, Brittany, France.

They say a cat has nine lives, A Capella is a trimaran which seems to have twice as many, writes Andi Robertson.

Next year the Route du Rhum, the storied French solo race from St Malo to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Part of the magic of this November 2018 edition will be a widely anticipated friendly showdown between three Walter Greene 12m (36ft) trimarans. The trio are near-sisterships to the tiny Olympus Photo that won the first ever Route du Rhum in 1978.

When skipper Mike Birch and the seemingly diminutive trimaran stole victory on the finish line by 98 seconds from under the nose of Michael Malinovski’s much fancied 21m monohull Kriter V, after 23 days of racing, it ensured the Route du Rhum would be forever synonymous with multihulls.

Acapella starting the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race ©Sportography

The 2018 race will be the sixth Rhum for Charlie Capelle’s faithful A Capella. A Capella (the name virtually homonymic with his surname Capelle, entirely coincidentally) is a remarkable trimaran which has refused to die, thanks to her faithful, deeply smitten owner.

Capelle’s personal association with the five-boat series of Acapella trimarans goes back to 1978 and Even Keel Road in Yarmouth, Maine, where Capelle learnt his craft boat building at the designer and builder Walter Greene’s yard. He has since worked on projects including Banque Populaire and Sodebo.

This particular A Capella was originally built for American sailor Spencer Merz as the third in the series after Birch’s Olympus, which was subsequently lost, and the second boat, Phil Steggall’s Friends and Lovers. In order to fund the boat, Merz chartered it to Philippe Poupon for the 1981 TwoSTAR race between Plymouth and Newport. Poupon went to Maine to see her, meeting up with Capelle then.

Capelle smiles at the still vivid memory, “Philou [Poupon] asked me to sail the boat back to Europe with him. Once back, Philou said ‘You might as well do the race with me.’ It was then I discovered a magical boat. Extraordinary. Intelligent. When I came back here, I set up my own yard.”

Acapella (the sister ship of Mike Birch famous Olympus) built by Walter Green in 1980 and skippered by Charlie Capelle, is preparing to take part in “La Route du Rhum” 2018 ©Christophe Launay

The automatic capsize system (ACS) is very simple. A pin keeps the sheets in two large Harken cam cleats. If the system detects a capsize then the pin is removed. It requires a certain amount of seamanship to set up the system and ensure that there are not too many wraps around the winch which the sheet needs to be released from. Or, if the sheets have been in place for some time, to make sure that salt has not encrusted them to such an extent that even when the system wants to release they stay stuck on the winch. As A Capella is smaller than IDEC, on which the system was developed, the movement of the yacht is such that the ACS can think a capsize is imminent when in fact it is not. Hence Capelle uses a ‘manual’ variant of the system, which works in the same way, except he has a button on a piece of string around his neck which fires the pin. ©Christophe Launay

Interior comforts are limited but stylish, with a custom-made chair, and original wooden fittings

The Acapella trimarans were designed and built as if to prove their strength, speed and longevity. Capelle recalls: “Walter Greene taught me how to build boats using moulded wood and epoxy with floats made of composites. There was a classic aluminium rig.

“What was interesting about these boats was that they were built with economy in mind in terms of the construction and fittings. They started to attract people. Mike won the 1978 Route du Rhum, proving that it was possible for a 38ft trimaran to cross the Atlantic and win races. All of today’s designers were impressed and influenced by the Acapella trimarans. These were pioneering boats and I just happened to be involved with them. Forty years on, I build boats and am lucky to be able to take part in races like the Route du Rhum and Fastnet.”

Chequered history

In 1982 A Capella did her first Route du Rhum sailed by Yves Le Cornec, who subsequently came up with the idea for the Trophée Jules Verne. He hit a wreck, the boat was disastrously dismasted and started sinking. She was beached near Brest in 1983.

“The guy who bought her from the insurance company contacted me as he couldn’t repair it by himself. He said I could buy the boat, but I didn’t have the money. A friend lent me the money to buy the wreck. I filled in all the holes down on the beach and rigged up some makeshift floats to sail her to La Trinité,” Capelle recalls.

“It took me seven years to restore her. I did it in my own time as I never wanted to mix my work at the yard with A Capella. It was always me alone working on the boat.”

The navstation is minimalist by modern ocean racing standards. Capelle will have a router for the Route du Rhum: the router’s job is not to give him the fastest route but rather the safest, keeping him away from larger swells and stronger winds. For Capelle the Rhum is an adventure and not a race, his aim is to prove to younger generations that it is still possible to sail competitively, enjoying yourself without multimillion Euro budgets.

The vintage yellow livery is even used for deck hardware such as this turning block

In 1998 Capelle sailed her to 2nd place in Class 3 in the Route du Rhum. For the delivery back from Guadeloupe he left A Capella in the hands of two friends. In May the following year on the transatlantic delivery home they hit a huge storm and capsized.

“The coastguards recovered my friends but the boat was declared lost, [then found] 18 months later. She managed to complete the Atlantic crossing upside down all alone and ended up in Galicia. But the local authorities didn’t inform us. The local kids used her as a toy to play around on. It was Nigel Irens who told me where she was and what was going on.”

Capelle went to Galicia and once again set out to bring his stricken craft back under jury rig. The boat was almost immediately dismasted off Cape Finisterre and was towed back by the coastguards. There he met Jean Luc van den Heede who offered to tow him under sail all the way back to La Trinité.

“I got hold of a long line and he managed to bring me all the way. I rebuilt her completely for the second time. Then I decided to do the Route du Rhum in 2006.

“The boat went upside down near where she was previously dismasted off Cape Finisterre. There was a bug with the autopilot, and three boats capsized with the same problem. There was a Class 40 not far from me sailed by Philippe Legros, who picked me up. I left my beacon on the boat, so we could find her again.”

Four days later he was dropped off at the Azores where he immediately chartered a tuna fishing boat from Yeu Island, and ten days later they found the capsized A Capella and towed her, yet again, back to la Trinité. “They were four difficult years. I told myself it was my fault she had capsized. Even if the big names told me that happens, but I couldn’t cope with it. I rebuilt her again, but this time only partially as she had only spent ten days in the water and the mast didn’t break. I saved the engine and got her back in shape.”

The indefatigable Capelle was back on the startline of the Rhum in 2010, slightly more cautious but still as in love with the race and his boat as ever.

“It was a tough Route du Rhum for me, because I was afraid of capsizing. This time I decided to bring her home on a cargo ship!”

The lifting daggerboards are now carbon, as are the floats, thanks to Capelle’s expertise

The mast is set on a stainless steel ball, and can be both rotated and canted

Back in the game

In between times, the fiery yellow A Capella has done dozens of other races, the Armen Race, the Fastnet, the SNSM, and inshore series. Capelle explains: “In France for two years I was Multi 2000 champion on her. I’ll be taking part in the next Route du Rhum, the sixth for A Capella and the fifth with me.

“She’s a boat that doesn’t want to die. Each time she capsizes, she comes back again. Each time people tell me I’m crazy. But I go for it each time and rebuild her.”

Capelle competed in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race, finishing fourth in the MOCRA multihull class. He describes the start as epic. “The exit out of the Solent was the best part of the race; straight out into a seaway. And the south coast of England was so beautiful I wanted to stop and visit.

“Downwind after the Rock was extremely hard work – this is her Achilles heel in a certain respect – as the boat is not adapted for large swell downwind in breeze. It is an extremely wet boat.” They raced three-up and all three remained on deck for the entire period from the Fastnet Rock to the arrival in Plymouth, with one on the helm and two on the sheets.

Next year’s Route du Rhum will be a rematch of the ‘Golden Oldies’, multihulls built before 1988. The trimarans have also raced each other in the Trophée SNSM, where Peyron’s Happy proved slightly faster than A Capella.

But Capelle says the result is not his main reason for competing in the 40th anniversary event: “The Rhum is an adventure for me. I try to do my best and see how I do against the others, but that is not the main goal for me. The aim is to finish and to continue the history of the Acapellas.”

SPECIFICATIONS

Length   12m (39ft 4in)

Beam   7.8m (25ft 7in)

Mast Height   16.8m (55ft 1in)

Displacement 2.5 tonnes

Build   Wood/epoxy

Design   Walter Greene &Nigel Irens, 1978

Additional translation by Tim Carrie.

The post Beached, abandoned mid-ocean, capsized… Acapella, the invincible little yellow trimaran appeared first on Yachting World.

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Man overboard mid-ocean: what really happens during a MOB rescue in the Volvo Ocean Race?

Man overboard mid-ocean: what really happens during a MOB rescue in the Volvo Ocean Race?

Alex Gough, who was swept overboard from Scallywag during Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, describes his man overboard recovery, while Jack Bouttell of Dongfeng Race Team explains the MOB routines on a Volvo 65

On 14 January, some 2,000 miles from Hong Kong, 25-year-old Alex Gough was swept overboard from the Volvo 65 Sun Hung Kai Scallywag as they prepared for a sail change.

Gough, who admitted after his rescue that it had been a ‘pretty stupid’ error, was not wearing a lifejacket, harness line, or personal locator device, yet his crew was able to return and retrieve him onboard within seven minutes. We spoke to Gough in Hong Kong about the man overboard:

Volvo Ocean Race crews are equipped with a Spinlock Deckvest lifejacket that has been specifically re-designed for the event with extensive input from sailors. It has been modified for wearing for extended periods, such as when grinding on the pedestals.

The crews also each have a Spinlock ‘bum bag’ or waist harness, known as the personal equipment pack, which carries a second MOB 1, PLB1 and emergency strobe light. But the safety equipment is not compulsory during daylight and moderate conditions, with crews applying their own judgement on when to don lifejackets or waist packs. Like any safety equipment, it is basically useless unless worn – although the waist harness is also designed so that it may be thrown to an MOB, with the safety devices placed in Neoprene pockets for extra buoyancy.

Fortunately Gough went overboard in daylight, and the Scallywag crew was able to locate him quickly. Many race followers debated whether the Scallywag team kit – in predominately black and dark grey – might have exacerbated the difficulty in finding him in the water, although Gough doesn’t feel that a different colour top would have made a difference – pointing out that only his head was visible above the water. “I was wearing a hat,” he commented, “but it got ripped straight off.”

Many of the race teams do have high visibility outer layers, but in ‘t-shirt’ conditions would typically be wearing base layers in black, grey or white.

The processes for recovering an MOB from a Volvo 65 are markedly different to those on a normal cruising yacht or cruiser-racer. Before the start of the race Dongfeng Race Team shared footage of the team performing an MOB drill. Some viewers questioned why the team didn’t follow the same procedures that many sailors have been taught, such as pointing at the casualty, and why they instead deployed a swimmer.

In Alicante, Dongfeng bowman Jack Bouttell explained why some of their procedures are unique to the race:

There are several key reasons for not dedicating one crew member to point at the casualty. When sailing at the typical 20-knot speeds of the Volvo 65 any MOB is likely to be out of sight within a matter of seconds, especially when the boats are sailing in high spray conditions. In typical race mode there may also only be three or four crew members on deck, so all hands would be required to begin slowing the boat down.

If conditions allow, there is instead potential for the onboard reporter to launch the drone to provide an aerial view and help find or monitor the casualty.

In the dark, the crews would be reliant on the AIS device, although as Bouttell explains, the boats will normally make a dramatic bear away or similar course change which gives a good indication of the MOB’s position on the navigation software – assuming they are spotted going overboard immediately.

The MOB routines for the Volvo 65 have been adapted for high speed and high spray conditions. Photo by Eloi Stichelbaut/Dongfeng Race Team

In Gough’s case, the Scallywag crew were preparing for a sail change so there was nearly a full team on deck. Gough was able to raise the alarm by shouting as he was washed overboard, and crew mate Annemieke Bes deployed high visibility safety gear such as the danbuoy from the back of the Volvo 65, which helped locate him.

The Scallywag team sailed back to Gough, then used the engine to slow the yacht down as they approached him. Gough was able to swim to the boat and climb back aboard.

Marie Riou practises the swimmer role during MOB training on Dongfeng before the race start

There is a different MOB drill to recover a crew who might be incapacitated. As Bouttell explained, on Dongfeng they have a dedicated swimmer on each watch who will get into the water to reach the casualty, and a lifting strop to retrieve them back on deck.

Despite Gough’s smooth recovery, a mid-ocean MOB remains every skipper’s worst nightmare. There have been five fatalities in the race’s history resulting from sailors washed overboard – most recently Dutch sailor Hans Horrevoets lost his life falling overboard from ABN Amro Two in 2006.

Successful mid-ocean rescues are also exceptionally rare. Joan Vila, navigator on Mapfre in this edition, recovered team mate Jordi Doménech from the ocean during the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Race, after Doménech had spent more than a quarter of an hour in the water in freezing temperatures. In the same race Bart van den Dwey and Tony Phillips were swept overboard from Creightons Naturally, Van Den Dwey was recovered unconscious but alive, Philips found 15 minutes later, having died from cold.

As Scallywag skipper David Witt told his crew after Gough’s rescue: “In a few more knots wind, and black [night], you’re dead, ok? The only reason we found you is you put your arm in the air.”

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Man overboard mid-ocean: what really happens during a MOB rescue in the Volvo Ocean Race?

Man overboard mid-ocean: what really happens during a MOB rescue in the Volvo Ocean Race?

Alex Gough, who was swept overboard from Scallywag during Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, describes his man overboard recovery, while Jack Bouttell of Dongfeng Race Team explains the MOB routines on a Volvo 65

On 14 January, some 2,000 miles from Hong Kong, 25-year-old Alex Gough was swept overboard from the Volvo 65 Sun Hung Kai Scallywag as they prepared for a sail change.

Gough, who admitted after his rescue that it had been a ‘pretty stupid’ error, was not wearing a lifejacket, harness line, or personal locator device, yet his crew was able to return and retrieve him onboard within seven minutes. We spoke to Gough in Hong Kong about the man overboard:

Volvo Ocean Race crews are equipped with a Spinlock Deckvest lifejacket that has been specifically re-designed for the event with extensive input from sailors. It has been modified for wearing for extended periods, such as when grinding on the pedestals.

The crews also each have a Spinlock ‘bum bag’ or waist harness, known as the personal equipment pack, which carries a second MOB 1, PLB1 and emergency strobe light. But the safety equipment is not compulsory during daylight and moderate conditions, with crews applying their own judgement on when to don lifejackets or waist packs. Like any safety equipment, it is basically useless unless worn – although the waist harness is also designed so that it may be thrown to an MOB, with the safety devices placed in Neoprene pockets for extra buoyancy.

Fortunately Gough went overboard in daylight, and the Scallywag crew was able to locate him quickly. Many race followers debated whether the Scallywag team kit – in predominately black and dark grey – might have exacerbated the difficulty in finding him in the water, although Gough doesn’t feel that a different colour top would have made a difference – pointing out that only his head was visible above the water. “I was wearing a hat,” he commented, “but it got ripped straight off.”

Many of the race teams do have high visibility outer layers, but in ‘t-shirt’ conditions would typically be wearing base layers in black, grey or white.

The processes for recovering an MOB from a Volvo 65 are markedly different to those on a normal cruising yacht or cruiser-racer. Before the start of the race Dongfeng Race Team shared footage of the team performing an MOB drill. Some viewers questioned why the team didn’t follow the same procedures that many sailors have been taught, such as pointing at the casualty, and why they instead deployed a swimmer.

In Alicante, Dongfeng bowman Jack Bouttell explained why some of their procedures are unique to the race:

There are several key reasons for not dedicating one crew member to point at the casualty. When sailing at the typical 20-knot speeds of the Volvo 65 any MOB is likely to be out of sight within a matter of seconds, especially when the boats are sailing in high spray conditions. In typical race mode there may also only be three or four crew members on deck, so all hands would be required to begin slowing the boat down.

If conditions allow, there is instead potential for the onboard reporter to launch the drone to provide an aerial view and help find or monitor the casualty.

In the dark, the crews would be reliant on the AIS device, although as Bouttell explains, the boats will normally make a dramatic bear away or similar course change which gives a good indication of the MOB’s position on the navigation software – assuming they are spotted going overboard immediately.

The MOB routines for the Volvo 65 have been adapted for high speed and high spray conditions. Photo by Eloi Stichelbaut/Dongfeng Race Team

In Gough’s case, the Scallywag crew were preparing for a sail change so there was nearly a full team on deck. Gough was able to raise the alarm by shouting as he was washed overboard, and crew mate Annemieke Bes deployed high visibility safety gear such as the danbuoy from the back of the Volvo 65, which helped locate him.

The Scallywag team sailed back to Gough, then used the engine to slow the yacht down as they approached him. Gough was able to swim to the boat and climb back aboard.

Marie Riou practises the swimmer role during MOB training on Dongfeng before the race start

There is a different MOB drill to recover a crew who might be incapacitated. As Bouttell explained, on Dongfeng they have a dedicated swimmer on each watch who will get into the water to reach the casualty, and a lifting strop to retrieve them back on deck.

Despite Gough’s smooth recovery, a mid-ocean MOB remains every skipper’s worst nightmare. There have been five fatalities in the race’s history resulting from sailors washed overboard – most recently Dutch sailor Hans Horrevoets lost his life falling overboard from ABN Amro Two in 2006.

Successful mid-ocean rescues are also exceptionally rare. Joan Vila, navigator on Mapfre in this edition, recovered team mate Jordi Doménech from the ocean during the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Race, after Doménech had spent more than a quarter of an hour in the water in freezing temperatures. In the same race Bart van den Dwey and Tony Phillips were swept overboard from Creightons Naturally, Van Den Dwey was recovered unconscious but alive, Philips found 15 minutes later, having died from cold.

As Scallywag skipper David Witt told his crew after Gough’s rescue: “In a few more knots wind, and black [night], you’re dead, ok? The only reason we found you is you put your arm in the air.”

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Vestas 11th Hour Racing involved in fatal collision in final stages of Volvo Ocean Race Leg 4

Vestas 11th Hour Racing involved in fatal collision in final stages of Volvo Ocean Race Leg 4

In the final stages of Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, Vestas 11th Hour Racing was involved in a serious collision with a fishing boat, which resulted in the death of a member of the fishing vessel crew.

Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, start. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 02 January, 2018.

In the final stages of Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race last night, Vestas 11th Hour Racing was involved in a serious collision 30 miles south-east of Hong Kong on Friday, 19 January. The Volvo 65 collided with a fishing boat, which resulted in the death of a member of the fishing vessel crew.

A statement issued by race organisers this morning read:

“The Volvo Ocean Race is deeply saddened to inform that the collision between Vestas 11th Hour Racing, a team competing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, and a fishing vessel has resulted in a fatality of a crew of the fishing vessel.

On behalf of the Volvo Ocean Race and Vestas 11th Hour Racing, we offer our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the deceased.

The incident occurred approximately 30 miles from the finish of Leg 4, outside of Hong Kong waters. Race Control at Volvo Ocean Race headquarters was informed of the collision by the team moments after it happened at approximately 17:23 UTC on Friday January 19, 2018 (01:23 local time on Saturday morning).

The Vestas 11th Hour Racing team, none of whom were injured in the collision, issued a Mayday distress call on behalf of the other vessel, alerting the Hong Kong Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (HKMRCC) and undertook a search and rescue mission.

HKMRCC informed Race Control that a commercial vessel in the area was able to rescue nine of the crew and that a tenth crew member was taken by helicopter to hospital. HKMRCC has since confirmed the death of the air-lifted crew member.

Volvo Ocean Race and Vestas 11th Hour Racing are now focused on providing immediate support to those affected by this incident.

All involved organisations are co-operating with the authorities and are fully supporting the ongoing investigation.”

Vestas 11th Hour returning to Hong Kong following the collision

At the time of the collision Vestas 11th Hour Racing was racing in around 20 knots of wind in 2nd place in the final stages of Leg 4, from Melbourne to Hong Kong.

We understand that after Vestas 11th Hour Racing collided with the fishing vessel, which then sank, nine members of the fishing crew were recovered by a nearby powerboat. A tenth member of the fishing crew was recovered by Vestas 11th Hour Racing, and was unresponsive. They were airlifted from Vestas 11th Hour Racing to a Hong Kong hospital.

Dongfeng Race Team, which was in 3rd place at the time of the collision, reported that they offered assistance but were advised to continue to the finish line, where they finished the leg in 2nd place.

In a Dongfeng Race Team statement before the fatality was confirmed, Dongfeng skipper Caudrelier commented: “Our first thought is that this is terrible news. We are of course very sad to hear it and very concerned about the fishing boat and await further news on that.

“It is always very dangerous when sailing in these fishing areas when there are so many boats and some have no lights. Obviously this is very bad news for these fisherman, the Volvo Ocean Race and for Vestas.”

Race organisers later requested AkzoNobel to support Vestas as the rescue and recovery situation developed. After a period of holding station close by Vestas 11th Hour, the AkzoNobel crew was released and resumed racing to Hong Kong. AkzoNobel continued racing to finish in third place while Vestas 11th Hour Racing retired and continued to Hong Kong under her own power.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing is a Danish-American team sponsored by a Danish wind energy company and 11th Hour, a US-backed environmental initiative. The team is skippered by Charlie Enright, who co-founded the team with Mark Towill, who is Team Director. For Leg 4 the yacht was skippered by Towill for Leg 4 after Charlie Enwright remained ashore in Melbourne following a family medical emergency.

This is the second Volvo Ocean Race entry sponsored by wind energy company Vestas to be involved in a collision. In the last edition of the race, in 2014, Vestas Wind grounded on the Cargados Carajos Shoals in the Indian Ocean, then racing with a different crew and skipper.

 

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Scallywag secures dramatic win in Hong Kong to take Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race

Scallywag secures dramatic win in Hong Kong to take Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race

Sun Hun Kai Scallywag won Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race in Hong Kong after a dramatic leg which saw them recover an MOB

Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, arrivals. 19 January, 2018.

In a leg that will have up-ended the scoreboard of the Volvo Ocean Race, Hong Kong backed team Sun Hun Kai Scallywag took the win on Leg 4 on Friday, 19 January.

Second went to Dongfong Race Team after Vestas 11th Hour Racing halted 30 miles off the finish line, having collided with another vessel while racing at around 20 knots.

Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier reported that he offered assistance to Vestas, but was advised by race control to continue racing. This saw the Chinese-flagged team sail past Vestas to take second place, moving them into the overall lead.

As the recovery operation following the collision developed, race organisers requested Team AkzoNobel, which was approaching Hong Kong in 3rd place, to divert to support Vestas. AkzoNobel later resumed racing while Vestas 11th Hour Racing retired.

Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, arrivals. 19 January, 2018.

For all their bluster and banter, this victory evidently meant a huge amount to the ebullient Scallywag crew. Skipper David Witt leapt from the yacht into the arms of his wife Kim, while Annemieke Bes was clearly emotional as she spoke to the waiting cameras.

“I was really impressed by the way we operated over the past couple of days,” Witt said. “We had a pretty big lead and then through no fault of our own, about two-thirds of it got taken away. But we stuck to our guns, did what we thought was right and it’s worked out.”

Scallywag skipper David Witt arrives in Hong Kong

“It was always going to take us longer than the others to get up to speed as we were the last to enter [the race],” Witt said. “All teams need a bit of confidence and I think one thing that is underrated in sport is momentum and this will certainly give the Scallywags plenty of that… We’re all still learning and we’re going to keep getting better as we go on.”

Much of the credit for their victory will rightly be attributed to navigator Libby Greenhalgh, who only joined the boat in Melbourne. Greenhalgh is the third navigator on Scallywag, who set off from Alicante with Steve Hayles. After Witt and Hayles were charged – and cleared – of charges of misconduct under Rule 69 following a video skit they made during Leg 2, Hayles stepped off the boat, with shore navigator Antonio Fontes taking the hot seat for the Cape Town to Melbourne leg.

Scallywag had a remarkable leg, with their lead uncertain right until the final few hours after much of the fleet elected to sail in ‘stealth mode’, which conceals their position from the online tracker and skeds for 24 hours, or until the first boat is within 200 miles of the finish.

Scallywag crew Annemieke Bes, arriving in Hong Kong in 1st place in Leg 4

They grabbed the lead as the fleet exited a particularly lengthy and frustrating north-bound Doldrums crossing. Scallywag opted for a more direct westerly route, while others headed north-east in the hope of reaching the tradewinds earlier. When the trades failed to materialize, Scallywag had pulled into first, leaving a painful hitch south-west for teams such as AkzoNobel.

There was another twist when Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag had a man overboard rescue on 14 Janaury. Crew member Alex Gough was washed overboard by a wave during a sail change, in winds of 15-20 knots. Gough was on the outrigger at the time, and neither clipped on nor wearing a lifejacket or EPIRB. Despite the difficulties of spotting a crew member wearing black kit in a dark sea, with no electronic positioning, the recovered Gough back on board within seven minutes, unharmed, and immediately resumed racing.

“He went out on the outrigger, I was driving, and we went off a big sea and it picked him up threw him off, like a horse,” skipper David Witt said after the rescue.

“The main thing is, we got him back on board. He’s safe. But I think it’s shown everyone how hard it is to see the guy in the water. Even on a sunny day, 18 knots of wind… You wouldn’t want to be doing this in 20 knots in the dark.”

Greenhalgh’s signing was just one of several changes made across the fleet going into Leg 4, in part due to the fact that the previous Melbourne stopover at the end of Leg 3 was a brief five-day pit-stop which left crews with little times to physically recover after a 6,000-mile southern ocean epic.

Pascal Bidegorry, Caudrelier’s navigator and right-hand man, was unable to sail on Dongfeng due to a back injury. They recruited a certain Franck Cammas to fill his seaboots. This will have made for an interesting dynamic onboard – Cammas last competed in the Volvo Ocean Race onboard Groupama, winning in 2012, with Caudrelier on his crew.

Onboard reporter Martin Keruzore described Cammas as relentlessly performance-driven. “You’d think Franck trusted no one. When he’s not happy with the boat speed, which is very often the case, he comes out of his hideout and pounces on the helm to get a real feel for what’s going on.

“He scrutinises and analyses the slightest detail and the slightest trim. He doesn’t think twice about going to check the trim of the headsails himself to be sure that the boat is at the absolute peak of her ability.”

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