America’s Cup 35

Bermuda

Last night after I wrote my piece I realized that there is a lot at stake in today’s race between ETNZ and Oracle.  In fact, it may be the first race of the America’s Cup Finals!

If ETNZ wins the Louis Vuitton Cup, they will race Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup Finals starting June 17 and each race in that series will count the same as today’s race.  That is because the winner of this series which ends today, takes one point into the America’s Cup (AC).  So tune in at 13:00 Eastern today because it’s game on!

Now, of course,  as in all things America’s Cup, there is a caveat.  If ETNZ win this race today and then lose to say Artemis in the Louis Vuitton Cup (Challenger Finals), Artemis does not take the “point” into the AC. The only thing for sure is that if Oracle win, they will start the AC final with a one point advantage. I would say it is better than 50/50 that ETNZ will be the challenger in the America’s Cup Final so thats where I get to:

Today is the first race of the 35th America’s Cup.

On another note, and this is for sure, ETNZ will be the top challenger at the end of today and therefore have to pick their opponent for the Louis Vuitton (LV) semi final, which begins tomorrow. Who do they pick?  BAR who admittedly has struggled but has an army of technicians who could help improve speed or Softbank Team Japan who has looked brilliant at times but also struggled to “close the deal” when leading.  The other factor is that Dean Barker, skipper of Softbank, is a Kiwi and was the skipper of ETNZ for 10 years including the 2013 AC in San Francisco.  I would not put it beneath Grant Dalton, CEO of ETNZ, to use the Kiwi media to put pressure on Dean.  This, even though it was Dalton who dismissed Barker after the 2013 loss.

Just food for thought.  Enjoy the race!

Paul

America’s Cup 35

Artemis back on their game!

Bermuda

The wind was back today on Great Sound! 15 knots of wind from the South greeted the competitors and four races were held.  Different to other days, the wind was steady in both direction and velocity across the course. This made the racing less volatile and relatively tame.  All teams were on their high speed boards. In each of the four races, the team that won the start, led the entire way.  There were no lead changes; something that we had gotten used to and love to see.

In race 23, NZL to leeward, controlled Japan at the start, and sailing very smoothly, stretched their lead bit by bit to win comfortably.

In race 24, Artemis (SWE) hooked Oracle in the prestart and led off the line and throughout the race.  Artemis looked solid and back on form as they handed the American’s just their second loss, both at the hand of the Swedes.

Race 25, FRA was up against NZL. This was a must win for the French who got a bit unlucky at the end of the race yesterday against the Brits. NZL controlled the start and stretched on every leg to win very comfortably.  This race eliminated the French from the Challenger series.  It is always sad to see a team eliminated but that is the nature of sport and the French can be proud of winning races off BAR and Artemis.  This, very low budget, program put a lot of heart and soul into their campaign and they have a good launch pad for next time.

France on their way home

Race 26.  This was expected to be an important and big showdown between two strong teams. Once again, Nathan Outteridge controlled the start and led the entire way.  The Japanese did seem a bit quicker than the Swedes upwind, but the Swedes employed classic match racing tactics, blocking the wind of the Japanese each time they tacked.

Japan is on just 3 wins.

After 26 races, the Kiwis are on top of the leaderboard with 8 wins while Oracle has 7, BAR on 5, Artemis on 4, Japanese on 3 and French on 2.  Whichever team wins this round will take a one point advantage into the Cup finals.  Tomorrow ETNZ and Oracle do battle in the first race of the day and the winner of  that race will determine the winner of this qualification series and the one point.

For stories and complete results, go to: www.americascup.com.

 

Paul

America’s Cup 35

Softbank and Oracle looked solid in the trying conditions

Bermuda

Four races were held at the very bottom of the wind range today on Great Sound. The wind speed topped out at 7 knots today while 6 knots is the minimum windspeed for racing as stipulated in the rules. All boats struggled to keep the boats foiling, some more than others.  After the first three races, it was clear that the French and BAR were struggling the most and this made the fourth race of the day most compelling.

Race 19. France vs. Japan.  Japan starts on foils, French are not.  Huge speed delta.   Japan is able to foil almost the entire race.  French are not. Japan wins easily.

Race 20. New Zealand vs. BAR.  New Zealand shows strong ability to stay foiling in the light winds while BAR falls off almost continuously.  ETNZ stretches to huge lead and win.  BAR retires on final run.

Race 21. Oracle Team USA vs. Softbank Japan.  These two teams have shared design information as allowed by the rules and trained a lot together.  Both had similar ability to stay on foils. Oracle, late to enter, gets “dialed up” above the entry line. After one minute, Oracle gets penalized for not entering the starting box. Japan has lead into first mark and down to the bottom gate and maintains the led up the first windward leg and down the first run.  At the bottom gate for the second time, Oracle creates the split, takes left gate and heads right.  Oracle has decent wind despite that side being slightly under the land.  As the teams cross with Japan still in the lead and heading to the right (west), Japan falls into less wind while Oracle now finds more wind on the left.  When Japan tacks, their leeward hull falls in the water and they can’t get foiling.  Oracle remains foiling in the good pressure on the left side of the course and makes a 300 meter gain and takes lead. Oracle remains in control and takes win.

Race 22.  BAR vs. France.  We could tell from the previous races that these two teams were struggling about equally and suspected that this would be a good match, and albeit painfully slow, they didn’t disappoint.  BAR got a penalty on France in “dial up”. Cammas does a great job of working off the penalty with minimal loss of distance. Down the first run, as both boats gybe, they both come off the foils and sit down in the water. They become displacement boats rather than foiling boats.  Unfortunately, it looks like both these teams are deficient with their boards or possibly the power being generated by the wing.  The race was a true battle with many lead changes.  The race was shortened to finish at the top of the second windward leg. Around the last bottom gate, both boats took the left mark with BAR following the French by 60 meters.  The French made a good rounding foiling throughout.  Ainslie tacked shortly after rounding as he was in the French turbulent air. The French do not cover!  The French stretch into the lower right hand corner, behind the land. They tack and get stuck in lighter wind, not foiling.  BAR on the left is foiling the entire time and comes back just 20 meters behind the French.  At the next and final cross, the French have to duck and cross behind BAR.  BAR wins.

The final race was the best race of the day.  It looks like Japan, Oracle and ETNZ have the right foils and or ability to generate more power from the wing.  We will see these conditions again.  Is Artemis in the same league.  We don’t know as they didn’t race today.

The beautiful SV Rosehearty on the race course yesterday…no wind.

Another interesting note is that after Oracle finished their one and only race today, they stayed out  and trained alone for another hour when normally, all teams head in after they finish racing.  Despite leading the qualification rounds and looking likely to take the point for winning this stage into the Cup, Oracle press on knowing that their speed today is not enough to win the Cup in three weeks time.

Four races are schedule for tomorrow and the forecast has the wind up a bit to 8-12.  Four races are then scheduled for Saturday and this qualification round will be over. The Defender will go off on his own and the last place challenger will be dropped from the competition.  The remaining four challenger will begin the semi finals on Tuesday June 6 and finish by June 9.

Tomorrows line up:

ETNZ vs. Japan

Sweden vs. USA

ETNZ vs. France

Japan vs. Sweden

 

Go Warriors!

Paul

America’s Cup 35

America’s Cup Village photo by Ricardo Pinto

Bermuda

No races were held today in Bermuda as the wind was too light or non existent.  A Big high pressure system has come and squatted on us.

Today’s schedule is moved to tomorrow with a slightly better forecast of southwesterly wind at 4 knots building to 8 knots and building to 12 knots tomorrow night.  Let’s hope in comes in a bit earlier!

Friday looks like 8-12 knots and Saturday about the same.  At the end of next week, June 7-9, there could be too much wind for racing.  The beauty of mother nature.

Just a bit about the America’s Cup Village.  This America’s Cup has the most “Village” atmosphere of any Cup so far. There are bars, restaurants, shops for event clothing and all of the teams, VIP hospitality, Team

photo by Ricardo Pinto

Opening Ceremony May 27, 2017-Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget

hospitality, a public park, mega screens to watch the action, the broadcast booth, the Youth sailing area, interactive kiosks for grinding and sailing a wing sail, a stage for concerts and presentations, the media center and press conference theater.

 

Paul

 

America’s Cup 35

Artemis has had a tough 24 hours.

Bermuda

Three races were held today on Great Sound in 12- 14 knots of wind. It was a day to get more racing in as the forecast for the next few days is very light.  However the schedule was set in stone and so no changes were made.  Four races are on the schedule for tomorrow.

It looked to me that most team had their light air boards on, certainly Artemis and BAR did. Artemis had to race in the first and last races of the day and could not afford to get caught in the last race of the day with the small boards as the forecast had the wind dropping. Its possible ETNZ had smaller boards on in the race against Artemis as the Kiwi’s had just the one race to deal with today.

The first race of Round 2, Race 16, was a rematch of the last race of round 1.  Artemis was up against ETNZ and certainly looking for some redemption after they were wronged by an umpire call yesterday. Nathan Outteridge schooled Peter Berling at the start and Artemis held a comfortable lead all the way around the first lap. Up the second windward leg, ETNZ began making in roads on the Swedish lead.  It looked to me like mostly speed.  The wind did turn right all day so often the boat on the right in the splits would make gains.  Near the top of the second windward leg, the Swedish lead was all but gone. The Kiwi’s were coming on starboard and laying the port side of the windward gate.  Artemis was not crossing and should have gone behind but maybe that was too bitter of a pill to swallow after having a 200 meter lead just 3 minutes earlier. Instead the Swedes tried to cross and fouled the Kiwi’s who still managed to get around the windward mark after bearing away to avoid a collision. Penalty to the Swedes, game over.

Artemis vs. ETNZ II.  ETNZ gets a little loose coming into bottom gate.

Race 17: France vs. Oracle. No story here really.  Spithill schooled Gammas on the start and Oracle went on to win by a big margin.  One technique thing was interesting: Oracle was coming to the reward mark and a bit “thin”.  They put the windward board down to add lift to the package so the boat would not drop into the water as they “soaked” don to the mark.  Essentially, they crawled in on all fours.

Race 18: This was a huge race.  Artemis vs. BAR.  Either Artemis was going to suffer yet another loss or BAR were going to extend their losing streak to 5 in a row. Artemis got too close to the line too early and Ainslie was able to create gauge off the Swedes which allowed him to pull the trigger earlier and have more speed at the start.  BAR rolled around the Swedes and led the whole way. The race never got close.  The teams seemed pretty even in speed, both on light air boards I think.  Artemis has a hard 90 degree radius in their board where BAR is a softer radius. The harder the run, the more draggy I believe but also makes the span and the righting moment greater which are both pluses.  Interesting tradeoffs.  So far, technique and sailing skill has outweighed all these small design details.

Now is a good time to tell you about the format of this America’s Cup.  For the first time ever, the Defender is doing some racing with the Challengers, and it counts.  The Defender, Oracle Team USA is racing these first two round robins with the Challengers.  The team with the most points at the end of Round 2, will take one point with them into the America’s Cup, unless it is a challenger who doesn’t qualify for the Match.  A bit confusing but we will cross that bridge later if we need to.  The last place challenger will be eliminated and the defender will exit the racing and move to the finals starting June 17. Privilege of winning last time.

The remaining four challengers will race the semi finals of the Louis Vuitton Challengers series. The highest ranking challenger from the round robins will pick his opponent. The other two will race. Both series will be won by the first team to win 5 points. The winners of the semi finals will race the Finals of the Louis Vuitton, again a first to win 5 points series.  The winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup will race Oracle in the America’s Cup Finals, starting June 17, which will be a first to win 7 points.

The forecast is for tomorrow is northerly 4 to 8 knots, becoming variable 2 to 5 knots in the afternoon, then settling southwesterly 4 to 8 knots overnight… Not great.

Oracle moved to 6 wins, ETNZ is on 5, BAR on 4, Artemis, Japan, and the French all on 2 wins.

Tomorrows dance card:

Time Port Stbd
 1408 JPN FRA
 1437 GBR NZL
 1506 USA JPN
 1535 FRA GBR
Times are Bermudian.  EDT + 1.

Paul

 

America’s Cup 35

Artemis with pace!

Bermuda

The final three races of round robin 1 were held today on Great Sound.  The conditions were a bit windier than the first two days and the surprises kept coming.

Race 13 featured Groupama Team France against BAR of the UK.  Ben Ainsley schooled Frank Camas on the starting line almost forcing the French onto port tack with just seconds to go.  The French trailed the Brits at the first mark by 10 seconds or so.  Undeterred, the French kept their focus up the first windward leg and made some large gains on BAR. The race was close down the first run with the teams changing the lead twice.  Nearing the second windward mark, the French once again were a problem for Ainslee.  As the Brits approached on port tack near the port gate mark, the French were on starboard,  It looked as though the Brits could cross the French and go the the starboard gate mark which would have made the two fairly even heading down the final run.  Instead, the Brits chose to tack inside the French and round the port and mark.  This made them easy pickens for Camas as he rolled around the outside of the Brits at 30 knots and shot off never to be seen again.  Upset #2!  Maybe these aren’t upsets?  The French actually looked quick and are still have room to improve their maneuvers which is an opportunity for them over the coming week.

France coming on strong!

Race 14: This was the big Challenger showdown.  Artemis of Sweden vs. Emirates Team New Zealand. This was one of the best races ever in the Louis Vuitton Cup.  Nathan (SWE) schooled Pete at the start but pulled the trigger just a bit too soon and got penalized for being over the start line early.  So Kiwis lead down the first run and SWE set up the split at the bottom gate. Up the first windward leg, Artemis got in phase and sailed well passing ETNZ.  Down the run, ETNZ got to the east on the course where there is more pressure (wind) and passed Artemis back! Up the final windward leg, ETNZ does a poor job of matching the speed of Artemis as they duck on port.  So the next time they come back together, Artemis is on Starboard and ETNZ has to duck.  ETNZ did a nice job of slowing by luffing rather than reaching off behind Artemis.  This allowed ETNZ to make the right hand gate mark while Artemis made the left. With both teams virtually even, they headed off on the final run at 40+ knots.  Two thirds of the way down the final run, ETNZ on port tack was not crossing Artemis on starboard, so they turned up and went behind.  This set the Kiwis up for starboard tack and inside at the final mark.

Artemis once again looked very polished tactically to me in that they set themselves up to sail wide around the last mark knowing they may have to give ETNZ room but that if they arrived even or slightly behind they would easily roll around the outside of the Kiwis and win the race.  The Kiwis arrived, inside and a bit behind the Swedes.  They Kiwis gybed to head to the finish and the Swedes sailed right around the outside with twice the speed.  Game over.  Race to the Swedes.  Then, the umpires decided that the Swedes had fouled the Kiwi’s in the maneuver.  This was shocking.  The Swedes had to slow and let the Kiwis pass to work off the penalty.  In the end, the race went to the Kiwis.  Needless to say, all the spectators were surprised.  The call from the umpires was that this was a port/starboard infraction.  However, the Kiwi’s had entered the “zone” around the mark so another rule governed at that point.  I think all will agree that that call was a mistake…hopefully not a costly one for Artemis. penalties aside, this was the best race of the event so far!

ETNZ doing a wheely after trying to round inside at final mark vs. Artemis.

Race 15  FRA vs. JPN. Dean (Softbank Team Japan) took the conservative windward position at the start and had just a bit better timing and rolled the French on the first reach.  That was about it as Softbank Team Japan never looked back. Their speed and technique was impeccable and they went on to win by a large margin.

So after round robin 1, Oracle Team USA is leading with 5 points, ETNZ with 4, BAR with 3, Artemis, Softbank, and Groupama with 2. BAR only won one of the 5 races but because they won the AC World Series, they carried 2 bonus point into this round and that is saving them right now. At the end of the next round, 15 more races, 5 per team, the last place challenger goes home.

I am feeling more and more every day that this is going to be the best America’s Cup ever.  The boats are exciting.  The races are exciting.  Never have we had this many led changes! The races are short-20 minutes. There are lots of them every day! The energy in the village is great…. lots of different venues within. The Bermudians are so happy and friendly.  The Superyachts are in town!  What a show.

Tomorrow we start Round 2 and the pairings go in reverse order.  First up, Artemis vs ETNZ. You think Artemis will be coming out with a knife in their teeth?

Paul

America’s Cup 35

Oracle Team USA and Softbank Nippon duel at start of race 12.

Bermuda

Six fantastic races were held today on Great Sound, Bermuda, in 12 dropping to 8 knots from the southwest. What is of interest in a condition like this is to see who has the light air boards on and who has the all purpose boards on.

I have been here two days, and may be wrong, but by my eye Artemis had the light air boards on and Oracle had their smaller heavy air boards today.  What this means is that if the wind drops and you get caught with the smaller boards on you have trouble keeping the boat up on foils.  The speed difference between foiling and non foiling is about 6 knots.  So it doesn’t take much time out of a tack, with the hulls in the water, to lose a lead.  The reason to have the smaller boards is that they create less drag when the boat is at high speed in stronger winds.  Not only are the surface areas different between the boards but the sectional shape is different as well…thinner for the high speed foils.

One more subtlety; some teams use a smaller board on the port side of the boat than on the starboard side.  This is because the first leg of the course is a high speed reach and you want a smaller, thinner board for that.  So when the wind gets light, the first place boats struggle is tacking onto starboard tack up wind.

Again, I may be wrong.

In the first race of the day, race 7 of the round, everyone was expecting a non event but the French raised up and claimed their first scalp off Artemis. The French won the start but got rolled in the first gybe; still not steady or consistent in the maneuvers. However, the wind was shifty and up the first windward leg, Artemis got out of phase and the French climbed back and took the lead.  They we just able to hang on and win by one boat length.  Huge for the French!

Groupama France lead Artemis Sweden

Race 8 pitted Oracle vs. BAR. Br won the start handily and was ahead at the bottom gate.  oracle split and got some good shifts.  Passed BAR and stretched from there.  Game over.

Race 9-ETNZ vs. Nippon. Dean Barker on Nippon chased Peter Berling down to the pauline and left him there to have a slow start.  Nippon leads at first mark and up the first windward leg.  Down the first run ETNZ showed more wind on the east side of the course and made a big gain.  Nippon able to hold on but ETNZ goes to the east side out of the bottom and makes big gain on Nippon.  When Nippon switches sides to go the the east, the wind shifted to the west and put ETNZ ahead. Game over.

For races 10-12, my friend Joey and I got on the “Race Chase” boat and followed the competitors on the race course.  This is a very cool program offered by the event to give fans a very close look at the action on the water.

Race 10-Oracle USA vs. Artemis SWE. Wind down to 8 knots. Artemis on big boards, Oracle Team USA on small boards. Bad start by Spithill; locked out to windward. On second windward leg, Oracle had trouble foiling.  Artemis sails well and fast. Race over, Artemis wins.

Race 11-BAR (GBR) vs. ETNZ. Kiwis get a penalty in the prestart for a port starboard on the entry.  They have to get one boat length clear astern of BAR after start.  They do. After leading at the first mark, BAR wait too long to gybe for leeward gate. Kiwis gybe simultaneously and make the left gate mark. Kiwis stretch take lead and stretch.  Game over.

Race 12- Oracle vs. Nippon. Wind builds back up to 9.  Saves Oracle on the small boards. Good start by Oracle and they sail very well.  All tacks very smooth.  Stretch all the time-large margin of victory.

Tomorrow the last 3 matches of round robin one are scheduled; Artemis vs. Kiwis to be one of them. Oracle is done for this round finishing with a 4 – 1 record to win the round.  The forecast is for more of the same conditions so it will be interesting to see who changes to larger boards.

Lessons from the day; it seems better to error on big boards, and it is very shifty out there so the races are never over.

After two days, I think this will be a great America’s Cup.  Why:  Fast boats are cool if the racing is competitive and it is, lots of lead changes, short races, excellent venue to race these boats, the best AC Village ever (will describe another day), great television production, Bermudians are great hosts. I am really lucky to be here and looking forward to the entire month.

Paul

Look familiar? 4 years later, different venue.

America’s Cup 35

BAR and Softbank duel before the start

Bermuda

The 35th America’s Cup got underway today with 6 matches.  The conditions were ideal with southwest winds of 11-13 knots and flats seas.  The race course is inside Great Sound and the America’s Cup village and bases are at Dockyard, the most western extremity of the island.

I will be down here for the entire America’s Cup which runs from today through June 27th.  I have two roles; for the first two weeks I am an onboard expert ( a nice way of saying a “has been”) for the yacht Rosehearty and her guests.  From June 9, I will join the ACTV team for the daily broadcasts.  Also, I will try to write something every day for you.

The racing today was better than I expected.  Four of the 6 matches were very closely contested and 5 of the 6 teams seemed fairly even with only the French off the pace. The boats are very fast, 35-40 knots today and it is impressive to watch them live.  Two of the matches ere spectacular; Match 2, Japan vs. Sweden and Match 5; New Zealand vs. Oracle Team USA. In Match 2, Japan (Softbank) got out to a strong start and built a lead of 20+ second only to be reeled in and passed by the Swedes (Artemis), on the second windward leg.  There were 30 degree wind shifts on the course and Artemis played them well.  Japan tried to tack on Artemis half way up the second windward leg but the Swedes simply powered through them and forced the Japanese to tack away.  That was pretty much the end of it as Artemis got to the right and had starboard tack advantage at the next cross. Artemis went on to win fairly comfortably.

In the rematch of the finals of the 34th Americas Cup in San Francisco,  Oracle led at the first mark only to be passed by the Kiwi’s who got a left shift upon the first windward leg.  The Kiwis held the lead down the first run but the American’s got the split at the bottom gate and stayed out of phase  with the Kiwi’s but in phase with the wind up the second windward leg. At the windward mark, the Kiwis tried to tack onto starboard in front of Oracle but they were a bit late and the American’s shot through to gain room at the mark and luffing rights.  Oracle luffed the Kiwis rather aggressively but no contact occurred.  The American’s shot out in front and went on the win the race by 6 seconds.

Oracle Team USA at their dock and Super Yachts in the AC Village Harbor.

In both of these races it seemed the boat ahead, half way through the race, had an unsurmountable lead.  I am excited to think that we may see these types of lead changes for the entire regatta!

In the final race of the day, Team BAR (GBR) was up against Softbank (JPN).  A substantial collision occurred 20 seconds prior to the start.  BAR’s port hull ended up on top of JPN’s starboard hull.  Fortunately no one was injured although many of the JPN crew had to move out of the way.  The port hull of GBR got quite a bit of damage from the brining handles on JPN which punctured holes in the hull of the British boat.  The British were deemed to have fouled and were further penalized but the umpires.

In the two days that I have been here, I have toured one team base, talked to a few of the sailors on various teams and met with the chief umpire to understand how they make the calls.  I have reviewed tape of these teams practice racing.  I have only scratched the surface of this event.  But I feel like this is going to be very interesting and very competitive. I believe a big part of winning this event will be evolving, improving, learning technique, etc.  No team is going fast enough today to beat the eventual winner.  So the team whose shore team and technical team can make the biggest gains coupled with the sailing team who learns how to mast what they have and use it in a consistent manner, will most likely be the winner.

There is so much to master.  Flying these boats in a consistent way, so that the hulls never hit the water, is very tough.  You can have more conservative boards and pay for stability and control with top speed, or you can live on the edge of control and hit higher speeds but maybe dip the hulls in the water more frequently when tacking or gybing.  Then you have the crew who are grinding, or pedaling as the case may be, for the entire race to produce hydraulic pressure. The hydraulic pressure is used to control all the wing and dagger board functions, which are critical to the performance of the boats. These sailors have become world class athletes, at the same level as a triathlete or soccer (football) player.

I need to explain the schedule, the format, the village, the pairings and so much more but I wont try to do it all tonight.

The forecast for tomorrow is for less wind…12-8 knots and dropping to as little as 6 by late afternoon.  Then light winds on Monday. For information, scores and more, go to https://www.americascup.com

 

Paul

 

Australian IRC National Championship

photos by Andrea Francolini

Sydney

An aerial view of Sydney harbour and South head in the foreground 25/07/2015 ph. Andrea Francolini

An aerial view of Sydney harbour and South head in the foreground

After four days of racing and a mix of conditions, Team Beau Geste came out on top of the Australian National Championship.  It was an honor to sail with Karl Kwok and his team.  I have known Karl for many years dating back to the Admirals Cup days in the 90’s but never sailed with his Beau Geste.

Sailing - Australian IRC Championship 2017 Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Sydney 24/3/2017 BEAU GESTE

Sailing – Australian IRC Championship 2017
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia

Gavin Brady, who runs the Beau Geste Team, invite me to be the helmsman for two series down here in Oz. Gavin and I sailed together on AmericaOne in the 2000 America’s Cup and again on Money Penny in 2008.  It was fun to sail together and the results were there too so that made it even better. There was a great crew, including long time friend and teammate at Oracle and Artemis, David Brooke, who are regulars on Beau Geste and it was a pleasure to race with them as well.

Beau Geste is a TP52 that is optimized for the IRC rule.  This means it is slightly different than the Super Series TP52’s I sailed on last summer. The mast is slightly taller and we sailed with 15 crew instead of 12.

We had a mix of conditions from 18 knots and big waves on the first day to 7 knots today.  Beau Geste dominated the first two days of racing in the stronger winds. Interestingly, one of our competitors was a canting keel 66′ designed by Reichel-Pugh name “Alive”.  This boat was very tough to beat in todays’ lighter conditions.

Through it all we won the series rather handily. This marked the fourth time in a row that Beau Geste has won the Australian National Championship for IRC racing. They obviously have this figured out so I was just happy to be along for the ride.

I am headed back to San Francisco tomorrow and will sail next in Miami for the Star Western Hemisphere Championship, April 6-9.

Paul

_E3V4924

St. Barth’s Super Yacht Regatta

Photos by Carlo Borlenghi

St. Barths, French West Indies

Today was the final day of racing of the St. Barth’s Bucket, the annual Super Yacht regatta down here in the Caribbean.

I sailed as tactician onboard Rosehearty, once again, with my friend Joey Kaempfer and a fantastic team. We trained a bit on Wednesday and Thursday last week and had one race a day beginning on Friday.

The breeze was 18-20 knots from the east for the first two days. A tactical mistake by me on Friday gave us a third place finish, while our rival Perini Navi, Perseus, won the race and Meteor took second.

Perseus, Zenji, Maltese Flacon, and Rosehearty are all Perini Navi yachts from the famous yard in Viareggio, Italy. They are beautiful sailing yachts. Rosehearty and Zenji are sister ships at 56 meters (182′) and 500 tons of displacement. Perseus is 60 meters and Maltesse Falcon is 80 meters. All are exquisitely appointed and also very seaworthy capable of voyages anywhere in the world including the Northwest Passage and Antarctica.

Hatch open

Getting the spinnaker out of one of the forward hatches

Saturday was redemption day for Rosehearty was we got the bullet but not before a match race up the last windward leg, covering a fast approaching “Meteor. Meteor is a classic Schooner design built by Royal Huisman in Holland.

That put Meteor and Rosehearty in a tie for first going into today’s final race with Perseus 2 points back in third. Today’s course, clockwise around the island, is mostly upwind and favors Perseus so it was nice to have the 2 points on them. But it would be a duel with Meteor. The winds were considerably lighter at 12-18 knots from the east-southeast.

We had a good start and first downwind leg, passing Zenji, who rates just a bit lower and got a 30 seconds head-start on us. On the long windward leg up the north side of the island to the east end, we played the right side, ducking in and out of the small islands on that side, while our competitors went out to open water to the North. We benefited from smoother water and held the lead in our class as we rounded the northeast end of St. Barths. Meteor and Perseus were sailing fast and had closed in on us. Meteor, unfortunately for them, got tangled up in a bit of traffic and had to take another tack out to sea when we fetched the top of the island.

Perseus, closed to within 4 boats lengths as we round the last mark of the course. Our spinnaker set was perfect and theirs was not. Chapeau to the crew of Rosehearty! They make those of us up in the flybridge look good.

We pulled away from Perseus but Meteor continued to bear down on us sailing lower and faster. Perseus finally got their spinnaker set and started to come back into us a bit. We were never overly concerned about Perseus as we could afford to finish one place behind them and still win the regatta. What we could not afford to do was to be passed by Meteor. On the final maneuver of the race, Perseus’ spinnaker exploded as we both gybed for the finish. Meteor kept closing. It was a bit tense onboard, everyone wondering if Meteor would catch us. About one mile from the finish, it was clear that Meteor would run out of race track. Rosehearty ran down to the finish to take the win on the day and overall in our class.

St. Barths Bucket Race Day 2

 

This is the third time we have won our class in the Bucket on Rosehearty and it was clearly the toughest as the other teams are improving each year.  While we will be enjoying the win for a while, we will have to step up our game for next year.

I will be transiting to Sydney over the next 40 hours to race with the Beau Geste team in the Australian IRC national Championship starting Thursday.

Paul