Two maxi speedsters that wowed the West Coast with their transpacific feats this summer are getting new looks. In the case of the 100-ft Australian monohull Wild Oats XI, the overall winner of July’s Transpac, the surgeon’s knife cuts deep.
On Wednesday, folks around Sydney Harbour were treated to a most unusual sight: a 67-ft long, snub-nosed hull being towed upstream. The color scheme told the tale: this was Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI, revealing the extent of the modifications she is undergoing — her bow was missing.
Last week, the 33-ft forward section was removed, and on Wednesday she was launched, towed up-harbor, hauled out, and loaded onto a truck destined for the McConaghy yard, where a new and longer bow section will be attached. Another section will be cut off the stern so that when she is back in the water and in racing trim she will again measure 30 meters overall, the maximum length allowable in December 26’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.
The new forward section has already been prefabricated at McConaghy Boats, so the remainder of the project is expected to take about eight weeks to complete, and Wild Oats should be sailing again by mid-November.
The major surgery is designed to make Wild Oats more competitive in the Sydney Hobart against arch-rival 100-ft maxi Comanche, launched last year and owned by Silicon Valley tech giant Jim Clark and his wife Kristy Hinze. Comanche set a new 24-hour monohull world record of 618 miles — just 9 miles short of the Sydney Hobart course distance — on July 10-11 while competing in the Transatlantic Race.
Meanwhile Lending Club 2 (ex-Banque Populaire VII, ex-Groupama 3) is getting new colors. Her erstwhile co-skipper, Ryan Breymaier, is in the process of handing over the 105-ft VPLP trimaran, which set the outright L.A.-to-Honolulu course record in July, to Francis Joyon. The Frenchman plans to use the boat, to be rebranded Idec Sport, for a new assault on the Jules Verne around-the-world record. The time to beat, 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes, 53 seconds, was set in 2012 by Loïck Peyron on the Banque Populaire V trimaran.
Best known for his singlehanded exploits, Joyon hopes to become the first sailor to hold the solo around-the-world record (57d 13h 34m 6s, set in 2008) and the crewed equivalent.
The changes to Lending Club 2 will be more than just decorative. Joyon says, "We shall be fitting systems to protect the helmsman and the crew on the winches taking care of the sheets. These positions are too exposed for the Southern Ocean. They need to be better protected for the watches in that part of the world, with fittings to allow them to hold on to avoid getting swept overboard by the waves. We also need to install a desalinator, as well as a system to dry the waterproofs and boots," which means the boat can be lighter with less gear and fewer clothes on board. Joyon hopes to launch Idec Sport by October 8.
In the aftermath of last weekend’s tragic late-night boating accident in Catalina’s Descanso Bay that took the lives of two young boaters, another on-the-water fatality occurred yesterday, 26 miles away at Two Harbors.
According to an L.A. County Sheriff’s Department release, 22-year-old Belinda ‘Bel’ Joanne Nguyen was struck in the head by a powerboat’s prop at 12:10 yesterday while snorkeling in the Isthmus Cove mooring field. Baywatch paramedics as well as Harbor Patrol and Sheriff’s Deptartment personnel responded to the accident, but she could not be saved. Ms. Nguyen’s body was airlifted by helicopter to the L.A. County Coroner’s Office, and an investigation is being conducted by the Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Station.
One source reports that the vessel that struck the young swimmer was in the process of picking up a mooring when the incident occurred. Nguyen was an employee of The Galley restaurant, and formerly of the Harbor Department.
Naturally, the tight-knit Two Harbors community is in shock and grieving over the accident, especially in light of last weekend’s fatalities in nearby Avalon, and the tragic deaths last December at Avalon of a popular liveaboard sailor and a heroic harbor patrolman who died trying to keep a dive vessel from grounding on the beach.
Let the recent deaths serve as reminders to all boat operators and watersports enthusiasts that a moment’s inattention can have tragic consequences — especially in crowded harbors.
Send resumes and questions to Edward.
In the wake of America’s Cup 34 — where deep-pocketed syndicates dumped unprecedented resources into the development and advancement of foiling technology — more and more boats have begun flying. By doing so, sailing has arguably realized its single biggest speed gain since the first Mesopotamian trader hoisted up a piece of cloth to harness the power of the wind some 5,000 years ago.
In the two years since the battle on the Bay, seemingly every new ultra-high-performance boat on earth has been designed or modified to foil. From beach cats to the revolutionary GC32 race cats, all the way up to the AC45s and MOD70s, multihulls have been realizing huge speed gains almost across the board by implementing foils. These days, when designers scratch their heads in the age-old quest for speed, the answer is as simple as it is succinct: Make it fly. Foiling in dinghies and multihulls is now commonplace, yet foiling in a lead-ballasted monohull yacht remains one of sailing’s most elusive challenges.
After the last Vendée Globe — the quadrennial solo, nonstop around-the-world classic that’s contested in 60-ft monohulls — the IMOCA class voted to adopt one-design keels and rigs in an effort to achieve greater reliability for the event’s many corporate sponsors. With a new generation of boat being designed in the run-up to the 2016 race, designers again searched for an advantage. Unsurprisingly, foils held the perceived answer and the class overwhelmingly voted to allow foils to remain completely open. As more than half a dozen teams decided to pull the trigger on a new boat for the next race, almost all of them chose to enlist the services of famed French design firm VPLP and Guillaume Verdier to get their boats to achieve liftoff.
With the Vendée Globe just over a year away, new IMOCA builds are popping out of sheds and hitting the water with increasing frequency, and almost all of them are sporting distinctive foils protruding from both sides of the hull. Not surprisingly, this new breed of semi-foiling monohull is advancing and developing at the same frenetic pace as the AC72s did during America’s Cup 34. The first team to post pictures and video of their new steed beginning to achieve liftoff was Baron Benjamin de Rothschild’s Gitana Team with Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier aboard their all-new IMOCA 60 Gitana 16. She will make her racing debut in next month’s Transat Jacques Vabre in the hands of Josse and Caudrelier. With a record-setting 20 IMOCA 60s signed up for the biennial Transatlantic race, the class — and the sport — has been rejuvenated by foiling technology, and there’s nowhere to go but up, both literally and figuratively. We can’t wait to see what happens next.
Stay tuned to Latitude 38 for more on the Transat Jacques Vabre, which will start from Le Havre on October 25.
Before you take off sailing this weekend, remember that September 15 is the deadline to enter this fall’s Baja Ha-Ha cruising rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. Registration will close automatically at midnight on Tuesday (although exceptions can be made by emailing here). See www.baja-haha.com/welcome.html to sign up.
Since we posted the list of 99 entries on August 28, 17 more boats have signed up. Entry #100 was Glenn Twitchell and Debbie Jahn’s Beach Access, a Lagoon 380 from Newport Beach. Click here for the complete list of 116 entries to date.