Archive for the ‘Events’ Category
In one of the most challenging editions of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race in recent years, the 100 foot Maxi Ragamuffin 100 overcame several early stumbles for a thrilling finish in the veritable race. This year’s event saw a wide range of conditions, with high winds that led to nearly a third of the fleet retiring, and light winds at the finish that tested sailors patience. Ultimately, Ragamuffin 100 passed Rambler 88 in the final mile of the race to take second across the line in light winds that stood in stark contrast to the early part of the race. Ragamuffin 100 had Mark Fullerton of Doyle Sails Qingdao sailing aboard, and the boat was sailing with a full Doyle Stratis sail inventory. Most impressively, the massive Square Top main was first fitted on the original Ragamuffin 100 in 2013, stayed with the boat as a new hull was built for the rig and deck, and has now powered the yacht to 3 Sydney Hobart Races, 2 Transpacs and set the record in the 673 mild Hong Kong to Vietnam Race.
The first night of the race was the most intense, with a 40 knot front blowing through the fleet in the dark of night with intense rain completely reducing visibility. In the process of changing sails for the breeze, the massive furled A3 came partially unfurled forcing the yacht to bear away to try to get the 9,000 square foot sail back on deck while running downwind with a full main and J4 at 20 knots, into the swell. After getting the foredeck under control, the yacht began reefing, only to have the reefing line for the second reef break. In the chaos that ensued going for the 3rd reef, the yacht crash tacked, with the keel and water ballast now to leeward.
Skipper David Witt was thrown off the back of the boat in the process, only hanging on to the back but unable to help get the boat righted.
“It was 10 to 10.30 at night when the southerly hit. It was intense and relentless. We were trying to get the main down heading north when the boat literally capsized on top of us. Shave (Justin Shave) was on the bow and under water, the main, half down, knocked me off the back of the boat. I was hanging on to the back end and my sea boots were dragged off me.
“All I was thinking was, ‘can someone press the canting button (to centralise the keel), cos I can’t reach it from where I am’. We were under water for 15 minutes – the ballast was on the wrong side of the boat and so was the keel. Frightening doesn’t describe it,” Witt recalled.
While the team lost some miles in the process, they were able to continue while two of their main rivals, Wild Oats XI (R/P 100) and Perpetual Loyal (Juan K 100) were forced to retire with damage. There was more drama to come, as one of Ragamuffin 100’s daggerboards broke, forcing the team to “tack” the intact daggerboard, no easy feat with an 19 foot, 650 pound board. But in the end, the boat kept going and began reeling in the miles they had lost, and had the perseverance to pass Rambler 88 right at the finish. In contrast to the earlier parts of the race, the final day saw nearly any wind. “We never give up on this boat … we managed to get them in the end,” Witt said.
The race was also an achievement for owner and sailing legend Syd Fischer, who at 88 years old was was the oldest competitor to ever sail the Sydney-Hobart Race. “It was good to beat them – a good feeling. And I crossed another one off – my 47th,” said Fischer upon finishing.
Mark Fullerton, of Doyle Sails Qingdao, has worked with the Ragamuffin team for years and managed their sail program. The Ragamuffin sails were produced at Doyle Qingdao, which is owned and operated by sailors John Hearne and Fullerton. Looking back on the race, Fullerton was impressed by how well the original main is still holding up. “Everyone on board couldn’t believe how it survived the first night. I have no idea how and why the rig didn’t come down. It was about as messed up as you could get things. There were no broken battens or any damage to the main. As the race went on and we pulled the reefs out I was amazed to see there was no damage to the mainsail. No more than a few minor bits of chafe” Fullerton commented. The main is a light weight, Stratis Carbon/Technora main that was fitted prior the 2013 Transpac Race, and has now been with the same rig after a new underbody was produced for the boat in 2013 and mated with the original Deck and Rig. Having now powered the yacht through thousands of offshore miles racing, the sail is a testament to the performance, durability and light weight of the Stratis sails that are being utilized on many of the world’s highest performing yachts.
For complete results, please visit here
To learn more about Doyle Stratis Sails, please visit here
The combination of ideal conditions on Montagu Bay in Nassau, Bahamas, provided boats and a substantial prize purse brought out some of the very best Star sailors in the world for a week of intense competition. The end result found Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih on the podium, winning in a field that included a handful of past world champions and Olympic gold medalists. For this regatta, the team was utilizing Doyle’s latest M14+ Main, and J6R and J8H Jibs.
Surviving the qualifying and knockout rounds to triumph, the Americans won the second Star Sailors League Finals on Saturday December 6th in a thrilling finale that came down to the final run. They bested a field that included 2012 Olympic gold medalist Freddy Loof and crew Anders Ekstrom of Sweden; Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki of Poland; and Jorge Zarif and Henry Boening of Brazil. Over the course of the regatta, the Mendleblatt and Fatih won 3 races (of 9) in the qualifying series, then finished with a 2-1-1 in the finals to secure the victory.
Defending champion Robert Scheidt, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and crew Bruno Prada of Brazil were eliminated in the semifinal. Top-ranked Diego Negri and crew Sergio Lambertenghi of Italy were eliminated in the semis.
Four days of competition meant that after three days of qualifying, the top 11 teams from the elite field of 20 advanced to the quarter-finals. The winner of the qualifying round – Swedes Freddy Loof and Anders Ekström – went directly to the semi-finals, while the crews that qualified in 2nd to 11th positions advanced to the quarter-finals, with the best 6 going forward to the Semi. The Semi finals determined who got to sail in the grand finale, with only the top 4 advancing. The unique elimination arrangement made every race that much more important, and put an emphasis on performing under pressure.
“The first race we were feeling in danger for sure. Halfway up the first beat we were feeling ‘This isn’t good’, you know. We talked to each other and said ‘Let’s just stay calm here and keep working together and use our speed and get back’. And it worked. We were going well.”
The quarter-finals saw plenty of competition, with last year’s runners up, Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki leading early on in the race, only to have defending champions Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada of Brazil pass them on the run. But Kusznierewicz was back in front on the second windward leg and was able to hold it to the finish. Mendelblatt and Fatih were second and third place went to the Finn world champion, Giles Scott (GBR) and Steve Milne.
In the semi-final and final, however, Mendelblatt and Fatih appeared to put the afterburner’s on, to win back to back races against the very best in the Star class. “This was a race of a lifetime,” said Mendelblatt. “To beat guys like Freddy Loof, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, and Robert Scheidt and all the other guys who are here is incredible. We did not have any expectations coming in: only to sail our best regatta. And you know these guys beat me more times than I beat them in my career as a Star sailor. With Robert, I can count the number of times I beat him on one hand and I’ve been sailing against him for 25 years so it feels great to win this event.”
The wind for the final, a six-leg race, had shifted more to the north but was anything but stable. Mendelblatt was forced to tack out from under Zarif early one which would eventually prove to be a winning move, putting Mendelblatt ahead around the first windward mark.
On the third beat, Kusznierewicz sneaked ahead at the top mark and led down the final leg. All of the boat were withing striking distance, with the crews aggressively working the waves while trying to play every shift as well. Kusznierewicz appeared to have the win within grasp as the teams narrowed in on the finish line, only to have Mendelblatt and Loof, coming in on a tighter reach, sail in from leeward to take the first two places. Kusznierewicz, who was runner-up last year, finished third and the rookie, Zarif, was fourth.
“I’m really hoping that the Star Sailors League continues. I think it is fantastic. I think the Star boat obviously is bringing in the best sailors in the world still,” said Mendelblatt. “The format is excellent. It’s exciting, it’s great. I have no plans to sell my Star. I’m keeping my boat and I’m going to do some more Star regattas, for sure.”
Doyle One Design has been active in the Star class for a number of years, and this year’s Star Sailors League Finals is just the latest in a string of victories for Doyle’s Star customers. In November, Luke Lawrence and Joshua Revkin won the Schoonmaker Cup, while in October Tomas Hornos and Revkin placed 2nd at the Star North American Championship. and in July William Swigart and Fatih teamed up to win the Cedar Point Open for the Bedford Pitcher. Doyle’s success stems from a highly technical design process, on the water testing and constant refinements and customer service.
For full Results of the Star Sailors League Finals, please visit here.
To learn more about Doyle’s Star Sails, please visit here.
Bob Fisher contributed to this report
The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a highly rated offshore classic, often mentioned in the same breath as the Rolex Fastnet, The Rolex Sydney – Hobart and Newport-Bermuda as a “must do” race.
The Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club co-founded the race in 1968 and 2014 will be the 35rd Edition. The event’s fascination is largely drawn from its alluring, 608-nautical-mile racecourse – a rigorous anti-clockwise loop around Sicily which introduces numerous “corners” that present changing and complex meteorological shifts. The route includes the deep azure waters around Sicily including the Aeolian and Egadi Islands, as well as Pantelleria and Lampedusa. One of the most stunning vistas is Stromboli, the active volcano which is a course mark.
2014 marks the first year that the R/P 72 Shockwave has participated in the race. Having won this years Caribbean 600 and Newport-Bermuda Race, Shockwave is looking to build on its impressive offshore record. As with past races, Doyle Sailmakers founder Robbie Doyle will be sailing with the team on Shockwave as the stratitician.
Q: As the stratitician on board Shockwave, can you compare this race to any other? The Around Britain race? What is it about this race that will be unique?
A. I have more work to prepare for the race, but from what I have read to date I don’t see it comparable to any other race that I have done. The time of year in which it is raced means the weather can be almost anything. Unlike some other races like the Newport-Bermuda Race (where we had a very precise weather forecast narrowed in), we are setting the boat up for any eventuality which means we will carry a maximum number of sails and accept the penalty for rig adjustment.
Q. The Rolex Middle Sea Race is deemed to have unsurpassed scenery with its course, taking competitors close to a number of islands within the Maltese archipelago, which form marks on the course. Ted Turner described the MSR as “the most beautiful race course in the world”. However, the islands must pose some serious navigational challenges. Is there anything else about this race that is a potential challenge like the proximity to Africa, the northeast tip of Sicily and the western area called Favignana – will this be different than say the Newport Bermuda – in what way?
A. Navigationally this race is very challenging. Unlike Bermuda where you have an open ocean, but some artificial gates such as the most desirable point to enter the Gulf Stream, this Race has real gates such as the Straights of Messina that is only 1.6 nm wide, and can have 4 knots of current running through it. One needs to position themselves to take maximum advantage of the current, or to avoid the worst of the currents.
It has strong tidal currents that vary massively producing eddies and a bubbling effect in the water known locally as Bastardi’s. Rounding Islands is always tricky as there are always local effects, particularly when rounding high lands such as Strombolini Volcano.
Q. Shockwave has enjoyed a remarkable season with winning the Caribbean 600, the first-to-finish, as well as overall winner in the Gibbs Hill Division, during the Newport Bermuda race, winning your class in the Regata Copa del Rey in Spain, and enjoying a full season of racing in Europe. Is the Middle Sea Race the last of the season for Shockwave. What’s next?
A. Its our final race for this season. We will begin next season with Key West Race Week in January, then the Jamaica Race, and then back to Europe.
Q. This year’s race entry currently stands at more than 123 participants, up from the 99 participants last year. Is there something about this year’s event that is different? Is the playing field changing/evolving and in what way?
A. My feeling is Ocean Racing is making a comeback all around the world. I feel yachtsman are a bit tired of too many around the buoy racing and are looking for the adventure and experience that only offshore racing can bring.
Doyle Sailmakers is proud to be involved in the inaugural J/70 Worlds in Newport, R.I., running from September 8-13 at the New York Yacht Club. Many of our Doyle customers and sailmakers will be competing in this inaugural event. Doyle’s One Design team has built sails for many of the competitors and with over 90 boats on the starting line for this event, the starting line will be crowded with numerous world champions in other classes – all vying to be the first J/70 world champion.
The boat has also recently been chosen as Sailing World’s 2014 Boat of the Year and is designated as an International Class by ISAF (International Sailing Federation). At only two and half years old but over 600 boats sailing in over 20 countries, Doyle Sailmakers is proud to be one of the premiere one-design sailmakers for the fleet.
Adding to the luster of competing in the inaugural worlds is the fact that many of Doyle’s sailmakers will be a part of this event, including 2006 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Jud Smith, who has been building sails for many Doyle customers in the J/70 fleet as they prepare for this event.
“Although this is the Worlds, at this time it will primarily US Boats being sailed but this will be the regatta to peak for,” Smith said. “It will be interesting to see how some of the boats do who are peaking right now. There are some boats who are at the right time to peak and there are certain players who have emerged strong very recently – so this is their time.”
Many Doyle customers and sailmakers will be at this event. Peter Duncan, who got into the J/70 class early on, has been training all summer after campaigning his Etchells for most of last year. Sailing USA 49 “Relative Obscurity” he brings along long-time crew Tom Blackwell and has added Mark Ivy and Doyle’s own Greg Marie. Earlier this year, Duncan finished 3rd in the 40 boat fleet at Bacardi Miami Sailing Week.
Jud Smith will be sailing with his wife Cindy, Jake Ladow, and Doyle One Design’s Will Felder. Earlier this summer, Smith won the J/70 class at the Marblehead NOOD regatta.
Doyle CFD’s Tyler Doyle, who has spent extensive time developing proprietary software to analyze sail shape and boat setup in real time for the J/70, will be sailing with Chris Boulter, Indre Jankeviciute, and Terra Berlinski on USA 245.
Brad Boston of Doyle Boston (Canada), fresh from winning the Viper 640 North Americans last week, will be racing with team “Hooligan”, with skipper Tres Sheehan, Curtis Florence and Lindsay Bartal.
Mark Ploch of Doyle City Island in New York will be racing his USA 61 “Sugar Daddy” with Mark Foster, Rob Fear and Tomas Hornos from Doyle One Design.
We are looking forward to a very exciting and successful regatta.
Full regatta information can be found here.
Laced with the Who’s Who of the sailing world, the Mini-Maxi Class (IRC0) in this year’s Copa del Rey regatta provided very close and exciting racing throughout the week long, 10 race event. Leading from start to finish was the oldest boat in the fleet – the Reichel/Pugh 72 Shockwave – skippered by George Sakellaris and powered by Doyle Sails, including her latest Stratis ICE headsails. This inshore regatta win complements the Shockwave Team’s offshore victories in this year’s Newport-Bermuda Race where Shockwave was the elapsed time winner, while sweeping 1st overall in the Gibbs Hill Division under IRC and ORR. In the spring of this year Shockwave won overall the rough and tumble Caribbean 600 Race.
The secret to Shockwave’s success has always been the combination of all aspects of the latest technology driven by a close knit team sailing the boat. Doyle’s CFD Team led by Tyler Doyle worked with Reichel/Pugh to fine tune the keel and bulb, and worked with the Future Fibre’s team to optimize the mast in terms of weight and windage. Similarly all sail decisions in terms of inventory, and shapes are done with in-depth CFD analysis with the CFD team working with the sail design team to analyze effects on performance and rating.
One of the latest advances for this regatta came from utilizing Doyle’s latest Stratis ICE fiber, which allowed the team to create a new jib which maintained the standard ultra-light weight requirements of the program while still maintaining its shape through a wide range, so that a single jib could be used from 10 to 22 knots.
Four out of the five Mini Maxi boats won at least one of the 10 races held, and the top three teams faced the last day separated by only three points. The title was decided in the final race with victory and championship for Shockwave with 19 points, and Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, with a partial Doyle inventory, on 22 points, and Roberto Tomasini’s Robertissima III, on 23 points, completing the podium.
For full results, please visit here.
To learn more about Stratis ICE, please visit here.
George Sakellaris and the team aboard the Reichel/Pugh mini-maxi Shockwave crossed the finish line off Bermuda’s St. David’s Lighthouse Monday morning at 5:34 race time EDT (6:34AM local time). Her elapsed time was 63:04:11. The close contest between Shockwave and her rival Bella Mente, Hap Fauth’s 72 foot Judel/Vrolijk mini-maxi, was a near repeat of the 2012 race, where both boats smashed the course record and finished with Bella Mente a mere 3 minutes ahead. This year, Shockwave led by seven minutes, after the two had battled head to head within sight of each almost continuously for over 635 miles. Although the boat for boat racing was close, Shockwave won comfortably on corrected time besting her rival Bella Mente by 1 hr and 44 minutes in ORR and similar margin in IRC.
As with the 2012 Race, Robbie Doyle sailed as the “stratitician,” working with the navigator, Andrea Visintini, the Tactician, Stu Bannatyne, skipper George Sakellaris and overseeing the sail program.
Doyle said, “There was a constant analysis and dialog onboard as the position of the Stream was fluid, and the weather pattern was also shifting. We had to hunt to find the (Gulf) Stream… we never found the 4 knot real road to Bermuda. It had broken up before we got there. Forecasters had predicted it might, but they suggested we might get there before it would start to dismember. The Stream was really breaking up pretty quick.”
“We tried some new ideas and ways to optimize the boat for the ORR rule” explained Doyle. “Bella Mente is a more powerful reaching boat than Shockwave so in order to defend our 2012 victory we felt we needed to improve our rating as we did not feel we could beat her in a reaching drag race which the Bermuda Race can often be. After a detailed weather analysis of the past 10 races over a 20 year period we made the decision to switch to a fractional spinnaker hoist. We designed and built a new full size Fractional Code 0 (labeled Super-FRO by the crew) to complement our existing smaller FRO. We only carried one free-flying spinnaker and then two Fractional Code 0′s.” Both FROs were set on top down-furlers for easy sail handling and crossovers. The combination proved successful, as the powerful “Super FRO” carried the boat through some crucial transitions. “Surprisingly its best moment came when VMG running in 8 knots TWS into head seas with Bella Mente right on our tail. Even though she was carrying a full size mast head spinnaker we were able to open up on her with the more stable Super FRO.”
“We had one day of practice with the Super FRO, during which we saw what a powerful weapon it could be, but also how much it really loaded up the sprit. We had Doyle’s CFD team working with Reichel/Pugh’s office to re-engineer the sprit to handle the sail, and the guys were reinforcing the sprit until 3am the morning of the start! A total team effort to pull off this incredible result again.”
The win adds to Shockwave’s growing list of recent victories, highlighted by their division win in the 2012 Newport-Bermuda Race, the 2013 Montego Bay, and the 2014 RORC Caribbean 600 Race. Originally launched in 2008 as Alpha Romero 3, Shockwave has proven to be a dominant force in the last 3 years. Doyle Sailmakers has been intimately involved in the boats resurgence, helping optimize not only the sail program, but also the mast and keel for a full aero and hydrodynamic package.
For more information on the Newport-Bermuda Race, please visit here.
Results from this years race can be found here.
Q. To get an edge on the competition, what should competitors, navigators, or tacticians be doing now to get prepared for the race in mid-June?
For all competitors, right now you should be reviewing the weather from past races and watching the Gulf Stream and surrounding eddies. Begin to get a feel for what to expect in terms of weather and determine how the Gulf Stream is setting up and moving. Don’t wait until two days before the race to do this. The Gulf Stream and accompanying meanders and eddies play a key role in the race so you need to know where all the key elements will be when you get there, not just at the start.
Q. As well as watching the Gulf Stream, how important are weather patterns and forecasts and why?
My first Newport Bermuda Race was 38 years ago and we relied on celestial navigation, and much of the weather was predicted by the navigator’s arthritis. The prevailing strategy was what emerged from past races. It was basically thought that you head 180 degrees until you get into the Gulf Stream, and then head for Bermuda. Along with everything else, weather forecasting has gotten a lot more accurate but you still cannot trust the forecast 100 percent.
On Shockwave we are preparing with the goal of winning it. So, currently, we are doing a study on weather data over the decades and we are basing our analysis on a number of factors. The reason the weather predictions are so important is that we will decide on our sail inventory from our analysis. If we choose wrongly, or if I advise wrongly, that does not give me a warm, fuzzy feeling. These decisions of what sails to bring and what sails to leave behind are a huge factor in preparing for the race and can determine a great deal. We need to submit our rating by May 22 so most key decisions must be made by then. We will make our macro inventory decisions then but exactly which sails come and go will be decided the day of the race. Despite all the technology we have, you never win the Newport Bermuda Race if you don’t make some big guesses and that is all part of what it takes to win the race.
Q. Are there some factors that many competitors could take greater notice of as they consider their competitive strategy?
Yes, and it is about sail inventory. Read the ORR rules again or talk to your local sailmaker. The rules have a clear effect on the sail inventory because with ORR rules you are rated with the spinnaker factored into your rating whether you choose to use one or not. You are rated based upon the minimum ORR area whether your actual spinnaker is that size or not. If your spinnaker is larger than the ORR area your rating goes up, but not vice versa. Some teams will have a spinnaker on the boat that may be well under what you are rated for. Similarly, you are charged for a minimum jib area and a cruising boat with a non-overlapping genoa is likely to be under that for jib area. It is very easy to miss these details and you should take time right now to figure out your sail inventory to your best advantage.
Q. What are some common pitfalls for competitors?
You want to make sure you establish your watch system immediately and stick to it from the start. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get into a rhythm and stay rested. People tend to want to stay engaged or participating in the decisions even when they are off watch -but it is better to preserve your energy. You will need it. Another pitfall is that you don’t rest on your laurels after you pass through the Gulf Stream. As a rule the sea state is calmer but people are tired and it is very easy to stop thinking strategically. There remain a lot of tricky currents and decisions made in the final 200 miles of the race where it can be won or lost.
Q. What else have you learned about the Bermuda Race?
The more I learn about the race and the more I know, the less confident I have become about winning it. The Newport Bermuda Race is one of the most challenging races of all time. You have the Gulf Stream, with hot and cold air meeting each other. It is an oceanographic and meteorological laboratory and we are the RATS! It is really, really tricky. It is always interesting, challenging, and rewarding to take part in.
– See more at: http://bermudarace.com/robbie-doyle-bermuda-race-strategy-sail-selection-crew-care/
– Written by Laurie Fullerton