June 15, 2018

Three Teams Tied Going into VOR Finish

Another stunning performance by Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel has seen the Dutch entry now pull dead even with perennial race leaders MAPFRE and Dongfeng atop the leaderboard of the Volvo Ocean Race, with just one more leg to be sailed. Many race followers will remember that Brunel — who had high expectations at the start of the event — performed far below expectations in the first half of this Volvo Ocean Race. Sailing into Auckland at the conclusion of Leg 6, Bekking’s team sat in sixth place with just 20 points compared to then race leader MAPFRE’s score of 39.

Team Brunel rockets into Gothenburg, Sweden, sporting a full mainsail and triple-headsail rig, perhaps offering a clue as to how they had an apparent and noticeable speed advantage in a variety of reaching angles during Leg 10.

© 2018 Jesus Renedo / Volvo Ocean Race

In what has become typical of the race since switching to the one-design Volvo 65 platform, the nearly 1,500-mile Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales, to Gothenburg, Sweden, was won by another razor-thin margin, with Brunel leading MAPFRE to the barn by less than two minutes. Once clear of the northern tip of Scotland, the fleet was forced to put the bow up a few degrees and blast across the North Sea en route to the finish in Sweden. In these tight-reaching conditions, MAPFRE led over Dongfeng and Brunel before the Dutch boat simply found another gear and overhauled both her rivals to create this unprecedented scenario of three teams being tied with 65 points apiece headed into the final leg.

The fleet sailed out of Cardiff, Wales, in very light breeze before hooking into a depression west of Ireland and rocketing toward the north.

© 2018 Volvo Ocean Race

In what is primed to be the closest and most exciting finish in Volvo Ocean Race history, the fleet will begin the short 700-mile sprint from Gothenburg, Sweden, to The Hague, in the Netherlands, on Thursday, June 21, with Brunel and MAPFRE tied at 65 points to Dongfeng’s 64 points. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Dongfeng is expected to pick up an additional bonus point for "fastest elapsed time" around the world, effectively putting all three teams at 65 points. In a potential tie-breaker scenario — which now seems unlikely — MAPFRE’s lead in the in-port racing would come into play.

This helicopter shot shows just how close the racing was as the two leaders descended upon Gothenburg, Sweden, in a strong frontal breeze and cloudy skies. In the end, Brunel beat MAPFRE by just 1 minute and 55 seconds after nearly 1,500 miles of racing.

© 2018 Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

As this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race draws to a close, the future of the race includes a handful of question marks, as the race has officially been sold by Volvo Cars to Atlantic Ocean Racing Spain, a group led by several multi-time VOR veterans. The next race will begin in three years in 2021, and initial rumors suggest that it could include two divisions, including the venerable one-design Volvo 65 and IMOCA 60’s.

This Bud’s for You

Having a ‘Bud’ on Friday is a common American ritual, but this Bud was poised to pack a different punch. As hurricane season ‘officially’ opens on June 1, we start keeping a weather eye out for indications of what’s ahead. On Thursday, Cabo San Lucas and the Baja peninsula looked set for a bullseye as Tropical Storm Bud was headed right for them.

It didn’t have a strong wind forecast, but whenever you have bright colors with a white bullet in the middle, boat owners and marina operators get nervous.

© 2018 NOAA

We spoke to both Marina Cabo San Lucas and Marina de La Paz to see how they fared and, as often happens, the online graphics were the most worrisome part of the non-event. There was rain, some wind and some power outages, but apparently no real damage along the waterfront. 

Neil Shroyer said, "It was a good fire drill. We always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and this time we got the best. Typically these early-season storms peel off to the west and they tend to head north toward us later in the season but this one ignored history and chose the late-season path."

For both marinas and boat owners, it’s probably good to have a warning shot like Bud come by to remind you to drop your furling headsails, lower dodgers, and be ready with other storm preparations. But in the end, you can only prepare so much. The hurricane season will make up its own mind.

By Friday it was OK to relax with a Bud again. Tropical Storm Bud petered out and became just another watered-down event.

© 2018 NOAA

The tension that made landfall as purple took over weather maps is gone, for now. We’re ready to relax with Friday night beer can racing, a Bud, or your local craft brew.

Folsom Lake ‘Lectronic

Reader Mark Werder sent us the first in a series (or dare we say essay) of photos back in April:

The April issue of Latitude, on the left — and used here as a type of water-level gauge — shows a full-ish Folsom Lake, with the January issue, on the right, for comparison.

© 2018 Mark Werder

"Folsom Lake is filling fast" Werder wrote us via Facebook. "Should be a great Camellia Cup. Our boat is 2-Step, Santana 20 #923." This April saw the 52nd running of the Camellia Cup with 45 boats in seven divisions. Werder and 2-Step took third in the seven-boat Santana 20 fleet. He’s been keeping an eye on the Latitude (by which we mean level) of the lake. Framing things with the June issue, Werder reported that:

"Folsom is full; bring on summer!"

© 2018 Mark Werder

For more information about sailing on Folsom Lake, we’ll refer you to the Folsom Lake Yacht Club. We’re also going to be talking about another lake (not far from Folsom) in an upcoming issue of Latitude. Spoiler alert: It’s Tahoe.

A Feeling About the Weather, Part 2

As we discussed on Wednesday, sailors’ relationship with the weather is as complex as any marriage. Add to that the notion of climate change, and couples therapy might be in order. 

One of our readers — a mechanical engineer by trade — said that even professional scientists are limited by the data available to properly examine climate change. "Studying weather on the scale that we do today is a new phenomenon that we have not much to compare to historically. The trouble is most of the data we can compare with is a mere eyeblink since even the last ice age, so we are comparing to nothing really. The last ice age ended arguably 12,000 years ago, so you are looking at .5% of the potential data."

After a lengthy but positive discussion with us, the reader took issue with the premise that "we all agree that there is something called ‘climate change’ going on. I am simply here to tell you deniers are not all fanatics, and there is an argument."  

We realize this discussion strays a bit from the sport of sailing, and can potentially lead down a rabbit hole. We will have the full back and forth in the July issue’s Letters. For now, we wanted to ask what you think — if you’re a climate change believer or denier, please let us know.

In this month’s Sightings, we posed the following question: Have the winds been getting lighter in California? This is not an uncommon query we’ve heard from some of our readers, and a seemingly relevant question to ask given the planet’s changing climate.
Remember that one time we went sailing with Giovanni Soldini aboard Maserati? It’s been almost exactly a year, but for a while, it was all we could talk about (it’s amazing what a ride on a next-level boat will do to your perception of sailing).
The Atlantic Cup, an event designed for the box-rule Class 40s, wrapped up in Portland, Maine, over the weekend, with Bay Area sailmaker Sylvain Barrielle sailing aboard Oakcliff Racing.
This spring, an innovative experiment proved successful in opening up sailing on the South Bay to more people.