Archive for the ‘Racing’ Category
In the fastest Vendee Globe in history, after 74 days at sea Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss has taken out second place, gaining a coveted podium space and finishing just 16 hours behind race winner Armel Le Cléac’h on Banque Populaire. This is Thomson’s second consecutive podium finish in the Vendee Globe, considered the toughest sailing race on earth, after finishing third in the 2012-2013 edition.
Doyle Sails is extremely proud of their involvement in Thomson’s campaign as sail supplier to Hugo Boss. “We have lived and breathed every minute of this race and we think Alex has done an incredible job,” says Mike Sanderson, CEO of Doyle Sails New Zealand. “We’re so proud of what Alex has done in so many ways and are pleased to have played our part in helping him achieve this amazing result.”
Arriving into Les Sables-d’Olonne after completing the race in 74 days 19 hours 35 minutes and 15 seconds, Thomson provided a nailbiting race throughout with highs and lows and first place all to play for right until the final stages. Having lead the race for most of the early stages Thomson suffered a huge blow when he damaged his starboard foil on the 19 November 2016, limiting the boat’s performance when on the port tack and costing him an approximate 20% of the boat’s speed. Despite this setback he continued to push, keeping constant pressure on Le Cléac’h until the very end, maintaining a formidable drag race over the final week and finishing just hours apart – an incredible feat in a race spanning over two months at sea.
During his 74-day race Thomson broke a number of significant records along the way including the world record for greatest distance sailed solo in 24 hours, with an average speed of 22.4knots, made all the more impressive as this record was set in the final few days of the race. Thomson also set two new race records in one day, for the fastest time to reach the Cape of Good Hope, completing this stretch in 17 days 22 hours and 58 minutes (5 days and 48 minutes faster than the previous record) and for the fastest time from the Equator to the Cape of Good Hope, passing in 8 days, 15 hours and 56 minutes (previous record 12 days, 2 hours and 40 minutes). Thomson is now also the fastest Briton to circumnavigate the globe on a monohull, beating his own record set in 2012/2013.
Throughout the race Thomson has paid tribute to his sail inventory, citing it as a key influence to his performance during the circumnavigation and one of his main advantages over the other competitors. “Aside from our foils the one place where we are completely different to the other IMOCA 60’s is our sails, which obviously play a huge part in this race,” says Thomson. “The Stratis product lends itself brilliantly and I would be very surprised if anyone has anything as light and as durable as we have; if you want something different, something fast, if you want an edge, it is best not follow the crowd.”
Hugo Boss carries a full suit of Doyle Stratis ICE sails as part of a long term relationship between Doyle Sails New Zealand and Alex Thomson Racing. Thomson and his team worked closely over several years with Richard Bouzaid, Head of Design at Doyle Sails New Zealand, to develop the inventory carried by Hugo Boss. Doyle’s involvement included extensive sail design team input during the design phase of both the boat and aero package as well as significant on-the-ground support during the construction and sail trial phase of Hugo Boss, and Thomson believes the time invested has paid significant dividends in the result of the race. “The sail plan that Richard developed for us has made a big difference and is the reason I was able to stay at the front of this race with the others after we lost the foil, says Thomson. “I appreciate all the work the team has done; Richard cares, he seriously cares, about this campaign and he put a lot of his time and effort into it and we wouldn’t be where we are without him.”
“It’s hard to say enough really of what Alex – and all the sailors in this race – have achieved; it’s been a privilege to work with him and his team over these two race cycles and I’m excited for the future,” says Bouzaid. “After careful consideration of the new IMOCA 60 rule we developed a different sail combination than presumed, different to the other teams, and that in combination with the whole approach we’ve taken together over the last eight years, has helped achieve this great result. The cool thing is that this is just the beginning.”
As well as the sail configuration itself Thomson is full of praise for the durability and reliability of his Doyle sails. “In terms of performance, even after nearly 75 days at sea in these hugely challenging conditions my sails are still like they are brand new,” he says “The reliability of the product is just brilliant and I think that’s where Doyle really are different to everyone else and it’s a big reason why we choose to work with Doyle – it’s the service, product and the relationships and the fact the team really cares and brings significant added value to the campaign.”
With the first of the competitors now safely back in port the race continues. Hungarian sailor Nandor Fa on Spirit of Hungary, also powered by a Doyle STRATIS inventory, is currently lying in eighth place, over 500nm ahead of his nearest rival, in another testament to the durability and performance of a Doyle inventory. “We’re so pleased to have worked with both Alex and Nandor and hope to keep showing that when it comes to high performance sails there is an alternative choice,” says Sanderson.
Doyle Sailmakers is enjoying the down to the wire pace of this years 2017 Vendée Globe unfolding this week. With UK sailor, Alex Thomson, on board HUGO Boss, and Armel LeCléac’h just 42.2 nautical miles ahead, we have seen seamanship, racing skills, and the sheer skills of both sailors. In the case of Alex Thomson, it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with Alex Thomson Racing through the Vendée Globe campaign.
“There is lots of talk about different foils we have on Hugo Boss but as always the speed edge we have does not come from one place and the other place where we are completely different to the other IMOCA 60’s is our sails, which obviously play a huge part in this race.” says Thomson, speaking from on board Hugo Boss. “The number of sails we can carry is limited to nine and they have to be light enough to be used single-handed and strong enough to survive the world’s toughest yacht race, so it’s a tough challenge for sail designers. The design team at Doyle Sails put in a huge amount of effort in the last two years to help us come up with the right suit of sails for Hugo Boss; the Stratis product lends itself brilliantly and I would be very surprised if anyone has anything as light and as durable as we have. It just goes to show that if you want something different, something fast, if you want an edge, it is best to not follow the crowd.”
Thomson has not only shown that his sail inventory has kept him very much in the hunt for first to finish, but Thomson has just set a new solo 24 hour distance record!! Sailing an incredible 536.81 nautical miles in 24 hours, Alex has beaten Francois Gabart’s previous world distance record of 534.48 in the Vendée Globe.
Doyle Sailmakers is proud to be rooting for all of the incredible sailors in the Vendée Globe, but in particular we must tip our hats to the talented Alex Thomson.
When asked what he thought Alex’s secret was, Robbie Doyle’s response was, “If anyone saw Alex’s video of a couple of days ago, they saw his secret: absolute calm. This was just hours before he went on to set the world 24 hour record for solo sailing of 536.81 nm! I had the privilege to participate in some sail and boat testing with Alex when he was in Newport. Even though he was still working out the kinks, our speed edge was obvious. At the end of the day he asked, “Any suggestions?” As one who is not reticent to respond to such queries, all I could say was, “Perfect what you have, and hold it together.” Even with a broken foil, he has more than held it together. It is going to be an exciting and challenging race to the finish. Regardless of who wins, both Alex and Armel have set a new standard for not only solo sailing, but monohull sailing itself.”
Doyle would like to congratulate our customers Mark Mendalblatt/Brian Fatih and Paul Cayard/Josh Revkin on finishing first and second place respectively at the Schoonmaker Cup this past weekend in Miami. This is part one of five of the Star Winter Series and was attended by 24 teams. Doyle Star sails are designed and produced at our loft in Salem, MA.
Jud Smith brought a new team together for the Rolex Big Boat Series, hosted by Saint Francis Yacht Club, serving as the only opportunity for Africa to get up to speed on bay conditions in San Francisco prior to the Worlds, a far cry from East Coast conditions. This team consisted of Victor Diaz (tactician), Alec Anderson (trimmer), and Ed Wright (strategist.) Racing at 730 pounds (not particularly heavy relative to other teams), they finished fourth in the big boat series and went on to get a podium finish of third in the Worlds, scoring more first place finishes than any other boat.
For this windy event, Jud used the same jib design, Doyle J6R, which won him the light air San Diego North Americans. This design has always had a much higher clew, which allows for more effective inhauling and a longer foot (since all the girth measurement points move closer to the head.) Inhauling assists with pointing and improves the effective performance range of the one and only jib. We use Dimension ProRadial HTP, as it has the lowest stretch and can handle the abuse of constantly furling and flogging during starts and wind shots.
Our Doyle M2 CrossCut mainsail sets up on a straighter mast than the competition. We target no more than 3 cm of pre-bend at the base setting for 10 to 11 knots of wind. Although Doyle sails are considered fast in lighter conditions, Africa won the heaviest air race during the Worlds by a big margin. Our upwind sails are built from heavier, lower stretch, more durable fabric. We added luff curve to our main prior to Rolex to improve the heavy air performance without compromising our light air speed.
This summer, we developed the AIRX 650 Spinnaker we used at Worlds. We found this design had more power all the time, from soaking to full planing conditions. Our speed advantage has generally been upwind, but we now have an edge downwind, which did not go unnoticed. The kite allowed the team to improve their downwind planing technique each day, knowing the difference between a good run and a bad one can change the outcome of a regatta in just one leg.
Learning to sail the boat flatter upwind and depower just enough to accelerate again after a nasty set of waves took some getting used to. Every beat of the Rolex series, the team did a better job of steering and trimming to maintain that mode and accelerate in waves without heeling too much. At the top of the wind range, they tensioned the rig to the highest setting with tighter lowers, allowing use of the backstay without washing out the main. Doyle refined our rig setting protocol to a 2:1 ration of turns above base. Considering numerous poor starts, Jud became very confident in their speed, as they were forced to sail back ‘from the dead’ in bad air and skinny lanes.
Transitioning from the big boat series to the Worlds, the size of the fleet doubled and the new PRO, Mark Foster, was using a midline boat. It quickly became clear on the practice day that the committee was prepared to identify as many OCS boats as they could. Therefore, Africa took conservative and cautious pings with their Velocitek and would check their pings by running the line. Jud believes some teams are not careful enough with how they ping the line.
The first two days of the Worlds, the wind was strong enough to get racing off on time. The earlier races as the wind was filling in were the most challenging. During the morning races, the middle and left side could fill in first and the breeze could wobble left or right. Not only were there patches of pressure, but there were big holes downwind that were deadly if caught in one. The heavier air afternoon races were more straight forward starting and speed contests, and the faster boats found their way to the top of the fleet by the end of the race. The afternoon races were generally in the ebb and got thrashy with short steep waves, much as we saw in Rolex regatta. Africa performed best in this condition relative to other teams, and it showed as they led the regatta for the first two days. Even after the first 5 races, the top five boats were very close in the standings.
The third day was the most challenging, featuring very erratic wind and pressure, since the wind took much longer to fill in during the afternoon. Even then, the wind did not fill down into the right side of the course.This is the day that decided the regatta. Several of the top boats including Africa, got caught in much lighter air on the run by gybing early. Africa and Petite Terrible got caught on wrong side of run in race 9. Flojito got caught in that light air side on the run of race 10. Catapult stayed on the train downwind in those races and ground back to have all top 10 finishes in those challenging races 8, 9 and 10. Finally, during race ten, conditions became fresher as the wind filled in and Africa managed another first.
Going into the final day, Africa was in 4th, knowing they needed two good races for a chance at a podium finish. They had a good start, sailed all the way out on Starboard tack to stay ahead of Calvi Network (who was within striking distance.) Flojito and Catapult went right, and although leading their side, Africa led that first beat and remained in first during race 11, bumping them up in the standings. The final race had breeze, but the standings remained the same as the top five boats in the race were the top five boats in the standings.
For Doyle, we were very pleased with a podium finish, Africa having improved their heavy air technique and speed significantly. It is obvious Africa is no longer considered a ‘light air flyer.’ Doyle sails and our recommended set up are fast in all conditions upwind and downwind, which didn’t go unnoticed. Jud is very pleased they had the chance to compete at that level and is now looking forward to sharing lessons learned with the J70 fleet in preparation for the 2017 season and the 2018 World Championship in his hometown of Marblehead, MA.
In the increasingly performance-focused superyacht racing scene, Doyle Sails helped propel many yachts to the front of the fleet at this years St Barths Bucket, held off St Barthelemy from March 17-20. In the end, Doyle powered yachts won three of the five pursuit classes that saw nearly 40 yachts competing. The regatta saw the fleet sail three races around the archipelago, which challenges the yachts with close roundings around islands and rocks, making the imagery even more stunning. This year saw moderate breezes for the first two days of racing, and then high winds and big seas in the final day to push all the crews hard to keep these massive yachts moving well.
38m Perini Navi sloop P2 continued her string of impressive performances with a win in Class B: Les Elegantes des Mers. P2 has long been a superyacht regatta favorite, and just the previous week P2 won Class B at the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta in Virgin Gorda. Under new ownership this year, the boat has continued her impressive ways, and after P2‘s win on Saturday’s “Not So Wiggley Course”, which sees the yachts weave through a number of turns which requires multiple spinnaker sets and douses, tactician Tony Rey commented “The owner and his guests were so engaged and so into the race; everyone was excited. Honestly, it’s what we came here for; these last two races have been some of the best superyacht racing I’ve ever done. We can’t wait until tomorrow.” P2 has been carrying the same Doyle Stratis Carbon/Technora racing sails since 2013, and her consistent performance is a testament to the incredibly fast shapes and durability of the Stratis sails.
In Class E: Les Grandes Dames des Meres 56m Rosehearty and 50m Ohana finished tied at the end of the final day, with Rosehearty’s wins in Races 1 and 2 breaking the tie in her favor. After winning last year’s Perini Navi Cup, Rosehearty was fitted with a new A3 spinnaker and Mizzen Staysail to ensure that the boat could keep moving at full speed during the Bucket’s many challenging courses. On the final day of racing, the big breeze helped push the massive yacht at 13.5 knots downwind, but upwind proved a challenge. A fitting on the genoa furler snapped off in a puff, forcing the yacht to sail a good portion of the long upwind beat with just a staysail. Ultimately the genoa was partially unfurled to keep the boat moving steadily upwind to the turning mark. Paul Cayard, serving as tactician on Rosehearty, commended the crew of Rosehearty all week, but was especially impressed on the final day “The crew did an outstanding job of dealing with today’s adversity and kept the maneuvers tight so we could preserve the fourth place we needed to win overall. A very happy owner and all concerned.”
This year saw Robbie Doyle and Glenn Cook from Doyle Salem on Axia, Andrew Schneider of Doyle Salem on Rosehearty, Peter Grimm of Doyle Florida East on Perseus^3, Quinten Houry of Doyle Palma on Clan VIII, John Baxter from Doyle Midwest on Blue Too, Nick Bonner of Doyle England on Surama, Simon Lacey of Doyle New Zealand on Emmaline, Matt Bridge of Doyle New Zealand on Seahawk, Alan McGlashan of Doyle Salem on Bella Regazza, and Mario Giattino and Salvo D’amico of Doyle Italy and Justin Ferris of Doyle New Zealand on Ohana.
Doyle Sailmakers is proud to have a long history as a sponsor of the Bucket regattas, and has established lofts in all of the superyacht hubs around the world to ensure excellent service for the world’s largest yachts. Recently Doyle has delivered sails to many of the world’s largest yachts, including the 60m Perini Navi Perseus^3, which made her debut at St Barths this year, the 46m Royal Huisman Elfje,and the 89m Perini Navi Maltese Falcon. In the coming months Doyle Sailmakers will deliver sails to the two largest sailing yachts in the world, both measuring over 100m in length.
Full results can be found here.
A windy and cool Key West Race Week wrapped up last week, with 48 boats racing in the J/70 class. At Doyle Sailmakers, we were very pleased with two boats in the top ten and Peter Duncan’s Relative Obscurity clinching second place to be the top American finisher. We were able to have a conversation with Peter after the event for his perspective on the event. Peter was quick to note the merits of his exceptional team of multiple world champion winners Moose McClintock and Karl Anderson, as well as North American Champion Victor Diaz. They were sailing in the range of 730-740 pounds, which Peter finds to be a comfortable weight in all conditions, but particularly in waves where having weight on the rail is important.
While Duncan primarily campaigns his Etchells, the transition to the J/70 has been a good one, and Relative Obscurity was 7th at the 2015 Worlds in La Rochelle, France. While the Key West fleet was still smaller than Worlds, the top end of the fleet was still incredibly competitive with the top three finishers at World’s competing against each other again.
Comparing the two events, Duncan noted Key West was breezier, with much bumpier seas, so they had to work to keep the boat powered up more. Because of other commitments, and the weather just prior to the regatta, the preparation was condensed and forced the team to make sure the boat was well prepared so there were no hiccups in the event. Each day of the event, Relative Obscurity was able to do a couple of hours of two boat tuning with my team on Africa. Both boats were using Doyle Cross Cut Class Main, Pro Radial Jibs and VMG Spinnakers for the regatta. We were able to test not only tuning for the conditions and weight placement, but also learn a lot about the course with five minute split tacks and split gybes on each side of the race track.
The team primarily relied on Commanders for weather and forecasting, which the race committee kept heavy tabs on as well and Duncan found to be very good throughout the week.
Starts were extremely important with such a large fleet on a short starting line. I asked Duncan about his regatta and starting strategy. At first, they were tentative, but they switched to a more aggressive mode and ended up over the line early twice. On one occasion, they were able to come back and win the race, whereas the other OCS was more difficult to dig out of and they placed 21st, their throw out. These made them more conservative, trying to attack the line without pushing it too hard. They tended towards the favored end of the line, but prioritized less crowded areas. Peter figures they sailed the first weather beat fairly conservatively, never really losing contact with the fleet. Their results were very consistent in this competitive fleet, which they achieved by getting to the edges, without ever going for anything really extraordinary. Each crew member clicked into a specific role on the boat, with McClintock in charge of overall strategy, Diaz calling boat to boat tactics, and Anderson keeping his head in the boat for tuning and sail trim.
Moose McClintock, who has now sailed with a number of different J70 programs, had some interesting
observations regarding the Jib in particular. “I was impressed with the ease of using the sails. I prefer pull and go so I can keep my head out of the boat and I think you achieve this in your designs. I think we learned a lot about the inhaul use on the Pro radial Jib over the course of the week, having Victor aboard was critical for us as he used the same inhaul technique on the Jib that you used at North Americans. He did say after sailing Friday that the inhaul was the key on Friday as he ended up with the same jib sheet setting and played the inhaul depending on how much power he needed, mostly a different way to get to the same end. Eye opening for me.”
With fast upwind and downwind speed and an obviously harmonious team, Peter is planning to do Bacardi Cup, North Americans in Texas, Europeans in Germany, and Worlds in San Francisco, hopefully with a similar team depending on everyone’s schedule.
In the Etchells class, the Sidney Doren Memorial Regatta took place January 9-10,2016, hosted by Biscayne Bay Yacht Club. Shannon Bush, sailing with Brad Boston and Curt Oetking on La Tormenta, came out on top with a ten point lead. The three have been racing together for the past three years, and Boston believes they work really well together and most importantly, are able to have a lot of fun which allows for enjoyable regattas. The team has had good events in the past and won smaller events, but this was the first major event they won together. Shannon and her team are always trying to climb the ladder and be faster, which seemed to click this regatta.
Catching up with Brad after the regatta, he explained that their regatta strategy was to capitalize on their boat speed, which Brad claims is incredible. Therefore, they would prioritize a big hole at the start, while trying to be as close to the favored end as possible while avoiding traffic. The Midline boat worked well for La Tormenta and they started there in 3 out of the 4 races such that they seemed to be able to do as they pleased off the line for the first few minutes. Consistency is always a key factor and Brad figures they were able to pull that off by letting their speed get them out of any bad positions and by staying relaxed. The team would get away from the fleet and slowly pick their way through with clear air and clean lanes. To accomplish this speed, they used Doyle’s AP-2 Main, VMG bi-radial spinnaker, and alternated between the Marblehead Light Jib (MHL) in lower velocity conditions until two people were on the deck, when they switched to the DCM Jib to hold for the remainder of the time.
When to change sails and settings had been the focus of the last several regattas and during the practice time prior to the Sid Doren. La Tormenta tuned up against Peter Duncan and Jud Smith’s team on Raging Rooster, and they both received some help from Moose McClintock on a powerboat. For weather models and forecasting, the team depended on Commanders, Wind Finder, and Sail Flow. Although the models were all slightly different, there was agreement that the wind would trend right, so they were sure to protect the right, especially when dark clouds came in.
We also asked Brad how his success as a five-time Viper 640 North American Champion translated into the Etchells Class. Aside from being accustomed to racing in large fleets, Brad insisted that it was the absolute inverse. The Etchells is a highly technical boat, which doesn’t have huge speed changes like a sport boat might, so every little thing matters. It is one of Brad’s favorite fleets to race in because the skills he learns from racing Etchells in speed and tuning carry over to all other one design classes. Congratulations La Tormenta on a great win on Biscayne Bay.
Full results can be found here.
For more information about Doyle’s Etchells Sails, please visit here.