Vendee Globe Race and It's Going to Be a WILD One

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BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Nov 18, 2012 - 10:07pm PT
There was a bit of discussion about the two collisions with fishing boats. I guess a lot of them are small enough not to need an AIS or just plain don't bother in some places.

I believe that if the boat is actually fishing then the sailboat has to give way. So fault probably lies with the racers, or for all practical purposes does.

Another one bit the dust. A guy broke one of the hydraulics that cants his keel. He's toast.

I wonder how many will cross the finish line?
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Nov 18, 2012 - 10:42pm PT
It appears all these high-end racing sailboat designers have abandoned typical engineering safety factors and are pushing the red line of materials performance to squeeze every possible ounce out of these boats. That seems entirely in-line with how the sailors themselves push their boats and it certainly makes for fascinating 'man-against-nature' races with the boats tuned tighter than guitars with heavy gauge strings. The fact the boats are coming apart tells you just how close to the metal the designs and materials are running. I'm guessing you have to be an excellent sailor just to get one of these boats from any point A to any point B intact.
SalNichols

Big Wall climber
Richmond, CA
Nov 19, 2012 - 12:16am PT
It's difficult to argue that you're operating in a seaman like manner when you're napping and you run into someone. That's the major hitch in solo racing, especially I boats like an Open 60 that is moving so bloody fast. You're ALWAYS the overtaking/give way vessel, even when you're racked out.

If I had to guess...8-10 will finish.

Prod

Trad climber
Nov 19, 2012 - 06:17am PT
I would say that the fishing boat collisions are a black eye to the sport. Somewhat of wreckless megamillionairs vs working class seamen...

On another note, is there ever any worry of piracy in these races? Seems like they are traveling in that territory?

Cheers,

Prod.
The Alpine

climber
Nov 19, 2012 - 08:37am PT
Thin tolerances indeed. Repairs remind me of astronauts working with mission control:

Alex was forced to stop HUGO BOSS for an hour with big waves smashing into the back of the boat to enable him to change over the bars and get the starboard rudder steering again, allowing him to start sailing again.

Together with the onshore team back in the UK, the focus of the last 24 hours has been on the repairs to enable him to continue safely:

“The bar is a very thin carbon tube about 3m long which was broken in two places, and we do not carry a spare unfortunately,” explained Alex. “Cliff our composite engineer is a genius problem solver and he came up with a plan with Ross and Clarke which would splint the breaks using carbon strips. I firstly had to cut the strips with the grinder with a diamond cutting blade I have onboard. I was not looking forward to doing it because literally everything would be covered in carbon dust. I cleared the cockpit and got to work all while averaging 19 knots of boat speed. I managed to do it without cutting a finger off or cutting through the cockpit floor. Once I had finished I was covered in silver paint and back carbon dust and the cockpit looked like Cliff’s workshop!

http://www.alexthomsonracing.com/2012/11/alex-thomson-in-emergency-repairs-to-broken-rudder-tie-bar/
The Alpine

climber
Nov 19, 2012 - 09:11am PT
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 19, 2012 - 09:16am PT
I was covered in silver paint and back carbon dust

Carbon fiber dust and he's not wearing a high-tech dust mask?
I guess he doesn't figure to last long enough to see the folly of that.
The Alpine

climber
Nov 19, 2012 - 09:19am PT
In the vid you can see he wears a mask.

Dont want to be breathing in those nasty little bits!
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 19, 2012 - 09:27am PT
I only looked at the vid still frame. That cheapo mask he did put on might
keep out 80%. And I hope he put his clothes into a plastic garbage bag,
never to be worn again, before he ducked his head in the sea to wash his hair.
But maybe he comes from good English coal miner stock... ;-)
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 19, 2012 - 10:36am PT
Reilly those cavities are the rudder shafts and bearings, sometimes enclosed and sometimes totally open.

Mega millionaires? Interesting perspective but dubious at best. Most of these racers live on the financial edge akin to sacrificing everything to get a boat into the race.

Collisions are a serious problem and actually quite rare but the burden is certainly on the solo sailor. To have two within a short span and within the same area is scary to say the least.

And! to get one of these boats from A to A would be a challenge, let alone A to B.

These are full out racing machines, driven with the pedal to the metal and designed along parameters obviously still being tested. The ram that broke on the swing keel was designed to a load of 120 tons with an anticipated load high of 40 tons. Hard to imagine the fright of having a deep, hefty keel that can't be controlled from port to starboard and trying to come up with a system to at least stabilize it at a center position. Friggin 5.13 at least with a long long run out to your belayer.
Prod

Trad climber
Nov 19, 2012 - 07:30pm PT
Mega millionaires? Interesting perspective but dubious at best. Most of these racers live on the financial edge akin to sacrificing everything to get a boat into the race.

Didn't mean to offend. This is the first time I've followed sailing beyond our neighborhood Laser races when I was a kid. There seems to be huge money behind the racers though, those boats can't be cheap...

Anyone have any info on my other question of piracy? Is that an issue?

Prod.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 19, 2012 - 08:43pm PT
Piracy is far from my field, but most of what we read about happens in places like the Straits of Malacca and off the Horn of Africa (Somalia). Places with concentrations of commercial and pleasure shipping, and easy targets - mostly freighters, or people, they can hold for ransom. The around the world race goes south through the mid-Atlantic, does most of the circumnavigation at high southern latitudes, then returns via the mid-Atlantic. If there were any piracy, it'd be off the coast of South America or west Africa, and coastal. It doesn't seem likely.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 19, 2012 - 10:43pm PT
There was a round-the-world race just in the last year that had to load the
race boats onto freighters and move them past the Somalis.

Then there have been a number of sailboats jacked by the Somalis with fatal
consequences in at least one case.

The good news is that the Somali pirates are on the run. Successful jacks
this year are about 1/5 of last year's. For some reason the press didn't
make a big deal of the NATO led helicopter gunship attack on the main pirate
base in Somalia which laid a serious whoopin' on 'em. It seems the pirate
bosses are looking for less risky ways to invest.


The Economist:

Hung, drawn and quartered

Better deterrents are putting the Somali pirates’ business under strain

Nov 10th 2012 | from the print edition

IT IS too early to declare victory against Somali piracy, which cost the shipping industry and governments as much as $7 billion last year. But the fall in the number of successful hijackings since the peak of 2009-11 has been dramatic. The International Maritime Bureau, a body that fights shipping crime, counted 219 cases of pirates trying to board a vessel in 2010 and 236 in 2011. This year’s total is just 71, against 199 for the same period last year. Successful seizures are down from 49 in 2010 to 28 in 2011 and only 13 this year.

Pirate activity normally wanes between the end of May and late September, when the south-west monsoon is lashing the Arabian Sea and this year’s storms were particularly severe. The light skiffs (launched from bigger “mother ships”) that the pirates use to close on their prey can only operate in benign sea conditions.


But the pirate lairs along the Somali coast show little sign of preparing for a new hunting season. Associated Press reporters who reached one of them, Hobyo, found that the pirates’ flashy cars, booze and prostitutes had disappeared and the cash for new raids had dried up. Some think the pirate “kingpins” may just be stocktaking before reinvesting. But the “stock” of hijacked vessels and hostages has shrunk from 33 ships and 758 hostages in early 2011 to just nine ships and 154 hostages now. Some of these have proved hard to ransom and have been there a long time.

Tom Patterson, a maritime-security expert at Control Risks, a consultancy, points to three factors that have made piracy a lot riskier and less profitable. The first is that soaring insurance premiums and the threat to crews have forced shipowners to change their ways. Ships have been made harder to attack by a range of measures known as BMP, or best management practice. They cruise faster and practise evasive manoeuvres. Physical barriers such as razor wire are now fitted. Many have secure “citadels” on board for the crews to retreat to if all else fails. They also follow the reporting protocols established by the European Union’s naval task-force (EU NAVFOR) when crossing dangerous waters.

The second factor he cites is better co-ordination by the international naval task-forces. These include the EU flotilla, a similar one provided by NATO, an American-led coalition and warships under national commands from China, Japan, India, Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia. These all meet four times a year to discuss tactics and make better use of the intelligence coming from surveillance aircraft and Somalis who want to be rid of the pirates.

The legal issues around fighting pirates are still tricky. But the foreign naval forces have become more assertive. On October 11th an EU vessel arrested seven pirates because their dhow was carrying ladders and a large quantity of fuel and water drums. Pirate mother ships now face pre-emptive boarding and skiffs are destroyed rather than ordered home as happened in the past. Mr Patterson highlights the psychological importance of a strike in May by helicopters from EU NAVFOR on targets near Haradheere, a pirate haven. It destroyed fuel, outboards and speedboats. The force’s spokesperson, Lieutenant Commander Jacqueline Sherrif, says that disrupting logistics on land “sends a strong message” to the pirates and their investors who now know “they will no longer have impunity on the beaches”.

However, both Mr Patterson and Rear Admiral Anthony Rix, now of Salamanca Risk Management, say that the biggest game changer of all is probably a third factor. Mr Patterson reckons that more than a quarter of vessels now carry armed security guards. The shipping industry used to oppose this, fearing that armed guards would escalate violence. But not a single vessel with guards has been boarded. Usually a warning shot is enough to deter the pirates. Lieut-Commander Sherrif says: “The pirates go to sea to make money, not die in a firefight.” BIMCO, the biggest international shipping organisation, has recently produced a standard contract for the industry, known as GUARDCON. Most of the security firms supplying guards are British. Admiral Rix says that his company hires mostly former Royal Marines.

Nobody in the anti-piracy effort believes that a return to the epidemic levels of the past is likely, but some worry that complacency could allow the pirates to make a limited comeback. The shipping industry is in recession and under huge cost pressure. Defence budgets are under strain, too: the political will to support constant naval patrolling in the Indian Ocean may weaken. As Admiral Rix notes: “The pirates’ business model is still attractive. It would be naive to think that the current low level of activity suggests that they have found something else to do.”

from the print edition | International
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 19, 2012 - 10:53pm PT
If any of the Vendee sailors end up anywhere within 5,000 km of Somalia, they may have bigger problems than piracy.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 19, 2012 - 11:04pm PT
Well, actually they will be within 3000 kms of the southern limit of the
Somalis' operations. And who knows, maybe they'll set up a new base on
Amsterdam Island. ;-)
Prod

Trad climber
Nov 26, 2012 - 02:53pm PT
Very interesting Reilly.

Cheers,

Prod.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 26, 2012 - 06:35pm PT
16 days into the race with 13 boats left and only 19,700 nm to the finish. Approximately 1000 nm to the Roaring 40s and the Great Southern Ocean. Ice berg watch ahead.
Credit: guido



Prod

Trad climber
Nov 30, 2012 - 06:10am PT
Down to 13 racers, from 20. WOW.

Prod.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Dec 1, 2012 - 05:25pm PT
As for design safety, yeah, they have abandon ship goodies, but these boats are not designed to be that safe. They are designed to plane rather than the more normal displacement boats. They surf rather than cut through the water, and since most of the race is downwind, they are designed for this course. These boats might have a spinnaker and all sail up in a gale, surfing over the monster waves.

What sucks about these beamy boats is that when the capsize, they will be damn lucky to right themselves. They will turtle, and that sucks.

So these guys and gal are brave and outstanding sailors. The French have been ruling these races for a while now. No sponsorship money in the United States. You won't hear a peep about it in the news unless something really bad happens.

However, TV means very little to the sailors. They are in the moment having incredible experiences. These aren't rich guys. They are kind of like old first round draft picks. Very famous and accomplished to get a boat that expensive. Almost all of them don't own the boats, either, I would wager.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 2, 2012 - 10:21am PT
Allez, indeed! I can't even conceive of going that fast in a sailboat.
And don't need to thanks to le internet.

And I really dug the ad before the vid for a Mormon Christmas - LOL!
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