CONRAD COLMAN MAKING PROGRESS UNDER JURY RIG

After dismasting late Friday the 10th of February, Conrad is finally underway again. After dealing today with some more problems to secure the base of the boom, he's moving slow but he's moving!

When the mast came down, Conrad had no other choice than to cut the rig and let the mast go to keep it from damaging the hull. Sailing under 3 reefs, he cut the mainsail just above and salvaged a part of the sail and the boom. Sadly, the boom was damaged during the dismasting, around 3m from the base. To even consider putting up a jury rig, the first step was to see wether or not it was possible to repair the boom. Here is what has happened in the last 5 days ...

Step 1: after talking with his small technical team and experienced friends, solutions were found to repair the boom. Conrad had to wait for favorable conditions to start the work as there were 7 to 9m swells and the boat is really unstable without a mast. On Sunday afternoon, he started working on the repairs and finished on Monday to consolidate the damaged future "mast". 

Step 2: the boom ready, the next project was to prepare the rigging. The cables and ropes that were going to hold the boom up needed to be measured, adapted, spliced and it took most of that day and night.

Step 3: the sail! It is nice to have a new "mast" but even better to have a sail to go on it. As Conrad managed to save the bottom part of the mainsail he had material to build a new sail and adapt it to the boom. Again measuring, cutting, stitching and remembering the good old times when he worked in a loft on the isle of Wight! That took most of Tuesday.

Step 4: All the elements being ready, it was time to try to put up the new rig and hope for the best. Conrad propped the boom on more sail bags, then on his shoulders while pushing the bags closer to the base to lift it. The repair held and the boom was up with a sail on it! He now still has to put up and attach the storm jib but the boat is moving again.

His goal now will be to position himself to get downwind conditions, the only way for him to progress with a jury rig. He has a little bit of food left and he will ration it until the end. He also has emergency rations that he will probably have to use before the end. We need to hope for fair winds pushing him towards the finish! 

You can read more about tactical choices for the weather in this article by the race organization and partner Great Circle.

A FEW TIPS FOR THE RACING RULES FOR 2017

First off, start by brushing up on the Definitions. There are some new ones this year but they don’t have much to do with the sailing rules (Part 2). The older definitions haven’t changed and they contain plenty of “meat and potatoes” as far as understanding the rules are concerned.  Take some time and read them carefully, it will be time well spent.

By far, the biggest change to the rules of Part 2 is in Rule 18.3 (Tacking in the Zone). Now it only applies to port roundings and only to a boat that tacks to starboard tack within the zone and another boat that has been on starboard since entering the zone. In other words, if two port tack boats tack to starboard in the zone, 18.3 will not apply to that situation.

When 18.3 applies, the requirements for compliance are the same as they were before. Specifically, the boat that tacked cannot cause the boat that has been on starboard to sail above close hauled to avoid her and if the starboard boat becomes overlapped to leeward, she must be given mark-room.

Starboard roundings, while seldom used by Race Committees, are the same interesting tactical situation that they have always been.

New rule 18.2 (d) tells you when a boat that was entitled to mark-room is no longer so entitled. This is the spot where you must understand the definition of mark-room. The shut off does not necessarily happen by just getting around the mark. It may also include room to tack or gybe if such maneuvers are “necessary to sail the course”.

Another change for 2017 hidden in the back of the rule book is Appendix T Arbitration.  Appendix T used to be a US Sailing prescription and was longer and more complicated. Now it just defines Post-Race Penalties and the Arbitration process. If included in the NOR or Sailing Instructions of a regatta, Appendix T will give sailors an opportunity to take a lesser penalty than disqualification if they break a rule of Part 2 and fail to take a penalty while racing.

Appendix T will likely become very popular with race organizers because it provides for Arbitration and Post-Race Penalties both of which can serve to reduce the need for protest hearings.

The U Flag Rule: The U Flag Rule has been added to Rule 30 STARTING PENALTIES. It may be used by Race Committees as the Preparatory Signal. When used, a boat that is OCS during last minute before her start will be disqualified without a hearing unless the race is restarted or re-sailed. The U Flag penalty is a little less severe than the Z Flag Rule and will likely be used in its place in many regattas.

Preambles; Part 2, Section A, Section C and Section D have preambles. Take the time to read them. They tell you when the rules referred to apply, or don’t apply or they serve to explain what the rules in that section are about.

For instance, the preamble to Part 2 WHEN BOATS MEET, tells you when the racing rules start to apply and the preamble to Section C (Rules 18, 19 & 20) tells you when those rules do not apply.  Specifically they do not apply “at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water or at its anchor line form the time boats are approaching them to start until they have passed them.”

LONE AMERICAN IN THE 2016 HOBART RACE

TRIPLE LINDY (dark blue hull) leading her class just after the start of the 2017 Sydney Hobart Race.
Duff Paisley photo.

Joe Mele's Swan 44 Mk II TRIPLE LINDY, whose home port is across the street from the founding UK Sailmakers loft on City Island, N.Y., was the sole USA entry in the 2016 Sydney Hobart Race.

Mele is a New York physician whose office is about the same size as the aft cabin of his Swan design Triple Lindy, which finished 6th in IRC 4 and 27 overall in IRC. (In ORCi he moved up to 18th overall while staying 6th in ORCi 4)

Joe wears a black plastic Casio watch, but he wants a Rolex. Joe wants to win one, not buy one. “I’ve decided I don’t want to buy it outright so I am going to keep doing these races until I win it, so it may be the most expensive Rolex watch ever bought, but I’ll be damned if I don’t try to get it.”

To that end, he has taken a sabbatical. “We are halfway through a pretty exciting year-and-a-half of racing,” he said after finishing the Hobart Race. “It started out with the Newport-Bermuda Race in 2016. The boat was shipped down to Sydney for the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Now we’ll go to Europe for the (Rolex) Fastnet Race and then on to the (Rolex) Middle Sea Race.

Joe Mele all smiles after knocking the Sydney Hobart Race off his "bucket list."

This year's Hobart race did see the fleet get slammed with a southerly buster, upwind conditions his Swan revels in. Instead, Joe said, "It was more like a Transpac race and we were not sailing a sled. Wind conditions were atypically DDW for most of the race; at one point during the first night we poled-out the No. 4 with great success in 30+knot squall when it was too windy to carry a chute.

"We used most of our sail inventory even the windseeker during one middle of the night two-hour near windless bit, but the A3 was the workhorse.  Surprisingly we never put a reef in the mainsail.

"We lucked out in not seeing the worst the Bass Strait had to offer.  The seas were confused and waves about 10 feet, reminiscent of the Gulf Stream.  The end of the race was incredible.  After crossing the line in downtown Hobart under full spinnaker we were escorted along a quay and received a standing ovation from over 1,000 fans. Every boat gets the same welcome.    The Aussies are amazing."

As for the boat's name, “TRIPLE LINDY is named after a high dive in a Rodney Dangerfield movie called BACK TO SCHOOL," said Joe. “I used to do a version of that dive as a young man, but when I was about to get married, my father-in-law told me it was too dangerous for a married man to do. Diving was a big part of my life and I needed to replace it in some way, so I started buying progressively larger boats and calling them all TRIPLE LINDY.”

After the race, Joe went cruising with his 85-year-old father-in-law in the archipelago off the south east coast of Tasmania on TRIPLE LINDY. 

SAFETY AT SEA VIDEO LIBRARY ON SALE

Available for the first time for all sailors, this 10-video library offering over two hours of safety-at-sea strategies, techniques, and tips developed by some of the world’s top ocean sailors and introduced by Storm Trysail Club member Gary Jobson.

The cost is $40 and the first ten videos cover:

  • Practical Man Overboard Recovery (24 mins.)
  • Understanding Weather (23 mins.)
  • Understanding Offshore Weather (24 mins.)
  • Flares and Pyrotechnic Devices (6 mins.)
  • Storm Sails (12 mins.)
  • Shipboard Firefighting Strategies (4 mins.)
  • Fighting Shipboard Fires (7 mins.)
  • Personal Safety Equipment (27 mins.)
  • Cold water survival & Life Rafts (3 min.)
  • Deploying a Life Raft (6 mins.)

Click here to buy access to the videos

Reflecting our dedication to educating sailors, UK Sailmakers' Butch Ulmer was instrumental in organizing the production of this video series and he heads the Storm Trysail Foundation's annual Hands-On Safety-at-Sea seminar. This year the seminar will be held May 20th at SUNY Maritime in New York City. Click here to register or get more information on the STC's Hands-On Safety at Sea seminar.

UPDATE ON CONRAD COLMAN'S VENDEE GLOBE RACE

Early in the race when Colman's FORESIGHT NATURAL ENERGY still had a full inventory of sails.

Even before he crossed the starting line of the Vendee Globe, Conrad Colman knew the deck was stacked against him. He could not afford a new boat, he only bought two new sails for the race (both UK Sailmakers Titanium sails), and he only got a naming sponsor in the week before the start. Yet, Conrad knew that, if he was going to break into the top levels of professional sailing, he had to get on the course and show the world he has the skills to compete. Conrad did more than that. For more than half the race he was the leading "old boat" in the fleet, ahead of many better funded teams.

His first disaster struck December 30. Conrad was pushing hard catching up to his IMOCA 60 mentor Nandor Fa, who at one point had been over 600 miles ahead. Conrad had closed to less than 200 miles behind. While surfing in 35-30 knots of breeze with two reefs and the Solent Jib, a 50-knot gust came through and the boat wiped out. With the sail luffing while the boat lay on it side, the Solent Jib blew apart. The Solent Jib, his biggest upwind foresail, was shredded and irreparable. "As suddenly as it had come, the gust was over in less than a minute, but had spiked at 50 knots and just those few seconds of extreme pressure had ripped the jib from luff to leach. A kung fu master couldn't have delivered a one punch knock out with more surprise."

But that was only the beginning of his problems. A seemingly minor problem with a broken batten car cascaded to the point Conrad had to consider abandoning his boat in middle of nowhere. Conrad had been riding the leading edge of a powerful weather front in the South Pacific halfway between New Zealand and Cape Horn. As long as he could stay ahead of it, he had great wind from the stern. But, when he lowered the main to fix the luff slides that had ripped free, he was overtaken by the storm that was much stronger than forecast. In that storm he came within a hairsbreadth of losing his mast when his forestay disconnected from the bow.

“I was sailing in 50-60 knots of wind and it was gusting higher. So I was sailing with just the third reef and no foresail. I was actually outside helming when I came off a wave with a big bang and saw the forestay go limp. I saw the pin at the bottom had broken or fallen out. That meant the primary forestay, which holds the mast up, which had a sail furled on it, was then free to fly about. And so as soon the forestay was not held at the bottom anymore, the genoa on it unfurled and was whipping the forestay about. That was in 50-60 knots of wind. At that point of sail, with the sail flying like a flag from the top of the mast, the boat was pulled over, almost capsized,” said Colman. “It stayed like that for several hours while the mast was shaking. I was very afraid to lose the rig at that point.”

There was nothing more Colman could do than protect himself as best he could inside the boat, waiting until the worst of the storm had passed. He then spent the best part of a day, including three periods totaling six hours, up his mast in 30 knots of wind, trying to cut away his knotted headsail. “To cut the sail away took five or six hours hanging in the harness, to separate it off the bottom of the forestay,” Colman continued, “Finally the wind reduced and I was able to put a new pin in and to put a lashing in place to secure the forestay. The mast stayed up."

After that he was down three sails and had lost 800 miles of his lead on the guys behind him. He was physically shattered and had some deep cuts from when he was aloft cutting away the genoa. At the time he wrote in his blog, "Emotionally, I am very disappointed; I felt like I was doing everything right, I was sailing very conservatively at the time. I was let down by a technical failure. The fact I ended up where I did was not because of my seamanship, but just the wear and tear on the boat."

Luckily, the New Year's disaster did not cost Conrad his life, his boat or the race. So far it only cost him one place. Eric Bellion passed Conrad shortly after the disaster before rounding Cape Horn, but Conrad has stayed within 300 miles of Bellion during the rounding of Cape Horn and during the race up the Atlantic.  It took Conrad several days to recover physically and mentally from his New Year's disaster, but he has continued the fight to the finish. It appears that his love of what he is doing may have dimmed for a moment, but his determination and sense of humor is evident in these two videos. One shows him crossing the Equator and in the other you'll hear him discuss his weather options for the final 1200 miles.

When Conrad was just under 700 nautical miles from the finish, he had closed to under 200 miles behind Bellion, but then the second disaster struck. At 2200 UTC February 10, Colman's boat was dismasted. In the dark he cut away the rig and mainsail and saved the broken boom. At this point he has repaired his crushed boom, stepped it as a jury rig and is attempting to finish the race. Colman's goal is still to be the first person to finish the Vendee Globe race without using a drop of fossil fuel. If he can't reach the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne, he will sail the boat to whatever safe harbor he can reach. “If there is anyone who you’d put your money on to do this it would be Conrad,” said British ocean racer Sam Goodchild who raced with Colman in 2011-12 on his first round the world race, echoing the belief of tens of thousands of race followers who have been entranced by Colman’s drive and bravery since he left Les Sables d’Olonne on November 6.

Conrad Colmam's jury rig is up and moving his boat toward the finish of the Vendee Globe.

UK's NEW J/105 TITANIUM JIB FASHION FORWARD?

Who knew that Titanium LiteSkin sails could be a fashion accessory. Wendy Oakes posted this picture on her FB pages saying, "The new jib matches my toe nails; we can keep it." She ended with an emoji of a smiley face with two thumbs up. The picture below shows the fast shape of the new Class Jib designed by Pat Considine and built by UK Sailmakers Texas.  Like a good fashion accessory, this sail will make you look good -- in the standings!

UK SAILMAKERS PHOTO CONTEST

Lighting, composition, action, mood, and from where to shoot, all contribute to superior photos. With that in mind, UK Sailmakers is running a photography contest and the winner will be decided on March 15th, a month from now. The prize for the contest is a UK Sailmakers LiteSkin duffel bag.

The rules are the follows:

1. Photo must show UK Sailmakers sails.
2. UK Sailmakers gets the rights to use all the submitted photos.
3. Those submitting the photos must have the rights to to the images and be able to transfer the rights to the images to UK Sailmakers.
4. Submitted photos must be high resolution: at least 4000 pixels on the long side.
5. Multiple submissions are accepted.
6. Submit entries via e-mail to Adam Loory: adam@uksailmakers.com
7. Judges' decision is final.

GET A DAILY SAILING FIX

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