Frigid, Fast Sailing for Volvo Racers

February 4 - Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean is living up to its fearsome reputation, making life hard for crews as they prepare for even more cold blasting winds over the next few days.

Down at 58 degrees south the boats are literally dodging icebergs as they sail in driving snow, with water temperatures down to 1.5 C, and air temp about the same. Wave heights are increasing, with Assa Abloy experiencing some waves more than 25 feet high in the last 24 hours.

John Kostecki's illbruck, which may be on the verge of breaking a 24-hour speed record set in Leg 2, continues to consolidate her lead at the front and is now 45 nms ahead of Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One, with Tyco chasing hard in third place, 50 nms behind, which translates to less than about three hours sailing time with the present wind speeds. illbruck is currently sailing at about 14 knots in 20 knots of wind.

Kostecki commented that many boats have reported growlers, small bits of ice, which were not showing up on the radar screen. "This is scary. What do you do at night? Good question - we do not have an answer, except hang on and hope for the best. It is very difficult to sleep when you do get the chance. The boat is shuddering and bouncing around on top of the waves. The water noise is incredibly loud, rushing by at 25-30 knots of boat speed. Working the spinnaker sheet in and out as the boat surfs over every wave is probably the loudest noise on the boat."

Not all is utter seriousness aboard the lead boat, however. Dirk de Ridder confided that when the wind dropped 10 knots, the decks were keeping dry and the snow stayed on deck, Stu 'Waffler' Bettany turned into a 5 year old who was playing with the snow and throwing snow balls at everybody.

Paul Cayard, aboard Amer Sports One, writes, "Sometimes we sail with a shy kite at 140 true wind angle, then we have the 2-foot deep ice jacuzzi. When we go with the blast reacher at 110 TWA we have the five degree [Celsius] fire hose. Take your pick. In all cases everyone rides on the stack behind the helmsman to keep the bow up. It is a good place to view the scene. To be sadly honest, I love it. It is so bizarre, that you have to love it for the experience."

Anthony Nossiter, aboard djuice (in fifth place) says, "We've started waking up the new watch 40 minutes before they're due on deck. It's a little earlier than usual, but just enough time to put on the many layers of clothes we require out here."

More observations on icebergs: "Never seen so many icebergs and growlers in all my sailing in the Southern Ocean. Spotted our first one and then all of a sudden sighted many others with growlers everywhere. We were sailing through, surfing at 23 knots, small bits of ice and at one stage we passed within 20 feet of a growler. Those jokes 'the icebergs go away at night' have disappeared and there is real concern." - Ross Field, News Corp

"Icebergs are very scary things. Yesterday morning Alby [Pratt] saw a whale about five meters from the boat just under the water. We would have been in a very serious situation if we had hit it as we were doing 20 knots. Icebergs somehow are much more scary and I have a faint suspicion that they don't go to sleep at night as some people have theorized." - Nicholas White, News Corp

"We have two men on ice watch, one staring at the radar and another checking forward with night vision goggles. We passed many growlers during the day and saw many on the radar at night. As for the night vision, well I don't know what the call would be if the spotter at the mast saw one anyway because your range of vision at 25-30 knots of boat speed would take only seconds to reach what you saw." - Grant Wharington, djuice


Emma Richards drives and Katie Pettibone trims aboard Amer Sports Too.
Photo Courtesy
Amer Sports Too


Stefano Rizzi displays a shark he disentangled from Amer Sports One's prop shaft. The unfortunate victim was later buried at sea.
Photo Courtesy Amer Sports One


Rodney Ardern keeps his eyes front as an iceberg disappears behind Team SEB
Photo Courtesy
Team SEB


Olympic Classes Regatta Wrap-Up

February 4 - Miami, FL

The 2002 Rolex Miami Olympic Classes concluded Saturday with all but one of nine Olympic and two Paralympic classes working in light-air races on Biscayne Bay. The 5-6 knot breezes were welcome after Friday's total lack of wind, which led to cancellation of all racing.

The huge (49 boats!) Star Class only got in two days of sailing, Wednesday and Thursday. Germany's Marc Pickel and David Giles won with 12 points, followed by Bermuda's Peter Bromby and Martin Siese with 15. Sailing for Canada, Ross MacDonald and George Iverson finished third. San Diego's Vince Brun and Mike Dorgan were the top-finishing U.S. team, with USA's 2000 Olympic Gold medalists Mark Reynolds of San Diego and Magnus Liljedahl of Miami finishing sixth.

One competitor from the Bay Area took home gold. Adam Lowry of San Francisco and skipper Andy Mack of Seattle held onto a lead in the 49er class.


49er Gold: San Franciscan Adam Lowry and Andy Mack posed for a
photo opp with Olympic Sailing Committee Chairman Fred Hagedorn
Photo Courtesy US Sailing

Last year's Europe winner, Meg Gaillard (Jamestown, R.I.) won both of her races Saturday to rise from second to first in her 25-boat fleet. The victory will play well
toward a ranking on the 2002 US Sailing Team. "I've officially begun my Olympic campaign, and I'm feeling really solid," said Gaillard. Alameda's Krysia Pohl finished fourth.

Early leaders in the 470 Men's class, Steve Hunt/Michael Miller (Hampton,
Va./Charleston, S.C.) maintained their lead with a fourth-place finish in race one Saturday. The duo sat out the last race, having mathematically wrapped up the series. "We're happy because last year at this regatta we lost by one point," said Miller. Mark Ivey (Huntington Beach) and Ward Cromwell (New Orleans, La.), who were second overall going into the last day of racing, were disqualified for kinetics in Saturday's first race and fell to fourth overall. Their slip-up allowed the top women's team, last year's winners Courtenay Dey/Linda Wennerstrom (Westerly, R.I./Key Biscayne, Fla.) to better their position in the 21-boat fleet to a third overall. "We had a choice of sailing the 470 or the Yngling for this event," said Dey, USA's 1996 Europe Olympic Bronze Medalist, who in an unusual move has - with Wennerstrom - launched Olympic campaigns in both classes. "I'm glad we chose the 470, because the competition was great and this was the last chance to improve our U.S. ranking in that class. We'll get right into a Yngling next weekend for a ranking regatta in that class."

The Laser class was packed with action as Great Britain's Paul Goodison
showed his prowess and USA's Andrew Campbell (San Diego) and Brett Davis (Largo, Fla.) constantly nipped at his heels. In the end, what looked like a slight edge for Davis over Campbell became a solid second-place finish for Campbell, with Slovenia's Vasilij Zbogar playing the spoiler to Davis's would-be third.

In the Yngling class, Carol Cronin (Jamestown, R.I.), sailing with Liz Filter (Stevensville, Md.) and Kate Fears (Key West, Fla.), turned on the juice to edge out leading team Jody Swanson/Cory Sertl/Pease Glaser (Buffalo, N.Y./Rochester, N.Y./Long Beach). A team led by Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.) finished third in this dynamic fleet. San Francisco's Dawn Riley and Tiburon's Melissa Purdy, sailing with Hannah Swett, finished fifth out of 18 boats.

In the Paralympic classes, Tom Brown (Northeast Harbor, Maine), the 2002
IFDS World Disabled Sailing Silver Medalist, topped the 15-boat 2.4 Metre
class while Paul Callahan/Keith Burhans/Mike Hagmaier (Providence,
R.I./Rochester, N.Y./Northfield, N.J.) won the six-boat Sonar class. "This is
an important victory," said Callahan, "because it's the first time the disabled classes have been allowed to compete at this regatta. Personally, I'd like to leverage this into helping other disabled people know they can compete at this level."

Complete results and competitor's rosters are posted at www.ussailing.org/Olympics/MiamiOCR/


Hemingway's Head

February 4 - Key West, FL

In response to Friday's item on Key West, Dave Yearsley of Petaluma writes, "Glad to see a shot of Hemingway's toilet on your 'Lectronic Latitude. It reminds me of a favorite quote attributed to him that often comes to mind. Allegedly he was fond of saying, 'The most overrated pleasure in life is sex; the most underrated pleasure is a good bowel movement.' You have now shown us the source of his bliss."


Didja Hear the One About the Pelican. . .

February 4 - Vallejo

Nic Shields sent us this item about an unusual lunch customer: "Last November a pelican walked into Mugg's Coffee Shop at the Vallejo Ferry Terminal. The owner took a couple of Polaroid photos which I scanned and attached. The photo caption reads, "A pelican walked in and said, 'Tuna on sourdough please, hold the mayo, and put it on my bill'. "


YOTREPS

February 4 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace

Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? Check out YOTREPS - 'yacht reports' - at http://www.bitwrangler.com/yotreps/


Weather Updates

February 4 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/wind/. The National Weather Service site for San Francisco Bay has moved to www.wrh.noaa.gov/Monterey/.

California Coast Weather

Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.: www.ndbc.noaa.gov/stuff/southwest/swstmap.shtml.

Pacific Winds and Pressure

The University of Hawaii Dept. of Meteorology page posts a daily map of the NE Pacific Ocean barometric pressure and winds.

Pacific Sea State

Check out the Pacific Ocean sea states at: http://www.mpc.ncep.noaa.gov/RSSA/PacRegSSA.html.
For another view, see http://www.oceanweather.com/data/global.html.


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