sailseaplymouth: MAPFRE getting hit by a 50 knot squall,…

Monday, May 4th, 2015


MAPFRE getting hit by a 50 knot squall, supposedly there’s been some really punchy squalls out in the Atlantic at the moment, so they’re not having the most fun!

Great video from Francisco, the OBR on MAPFRE. I’ve been obsessing about leg 6 same as usual, but not bothering to inflict it on my Tumblr followers. SCA has dropped off the back again, though not as far as on some previous legs. Dongfeng has been leading like the bosses they are, with Brunel and ADOR sticking close.

Good stuff, with the leaders currently expected to arrive in Newport on Thursday, May 7.

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MAPFRE rounding Cape Horn, March 30, 2015. Source.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

MAPFRE rounding Cape Horn, March 30, 2015. Source.

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Alvimedica, on port, crosses MAPFRE on starboard, Southern…

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

Alvimedica, on port, crosses MAPFRE on starboard, Southern Ocean, March 27, 2015. Source.

At the time Alvimedica was leading the fleet, with five boats within a few miles of each other, all gybing along the northern edge of the ice limit.

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A rough day in the Southern Ocean

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

High winds caught up with the Volvo fleet over the past day. There were some scary moments and torn sails, but no one was seriously hurt and all the boats are back racing. Details after a cut.

Four boats (at least) experienced uncontrolled crash gybes as they surfed at high speed on big waves. First it happened to ADOR, and then to MAPFRE, whose OBR Stefan Coppers posted this intense crash-cam video:

Rob Greenhalgh (Libby’s brother; the guy I pointed out in that leave-taking post the other day) was on the wheel at the time. You can see them surf down a big wave and stuff the bow at the bottom, causing the boat to pitchpole a little and spin out to port. The main gybes over, hanging up on the starboard running backstay, and they stop dead, pinned in position with the keel canted the wrong way.

You can see the crewmember who’d been on the mainsheet pedestal unclip his harness and start clambering around the cockpit, and Rob shouting for the engine to be started. (They need the engine so they can power up the hydraulics to cant the keel back to vertical.) Other things you can see during obsessive rewatching:

  • easing the sheet to let the headsail (the fractional Code Zero, or “FRO”) go forward
  • a cut after which the four-person watch on deck has been supplemented by the rest of the crew
  • easing of the starboard running backstay, allowing the main to go to leeward and the boat to start moving again
  • post-mortem commentary by Rob
  • sail repairs and re-hoisting the main

Dongfeng also did a crash gybe, though it was at night so their crash-cam footage wasn’t as compelling:

All three of those boats recovered relatively quickly from their crashes. The fourth boat, SCA, had a harder time when they suffered a series of mishaps around sunset yesterday.

Here’s their crash-cam footage:

It sounds like Sophie was thrown pretty violently across the boat during the gybe, but I think she’s saying that she was “afraid for her back”, and taking things slow, rather than saying she’d actually re-injured herself. Annie Lush got knocked down by a big wave a few days ago, and has been only gradually cycling back into standing watches, so the crew has definitely been banged up.

Sam gave more details during a satellite interview with Genny during today’s Inside Track episode:

Fifty-knot squalls with hail sounds intense.

SCA’s FRO was seriously damaged in the crash. Hopefully they’ll be able to repair it; it’s a crucial sail for running in medium to heavy air. They also broke one or more battens in the main, and apparently had the stack (the unused sails that they move around the boat for ballast) come partially free, such that it was dragging over the side for a while.

They ended up spending most of last night putting things back together and resting, only getting back up to full speed after sunrise. That sounds like a wise decision, given what they were dealing with, but the reality is that they dropped more than 100 miles behind the rest of the fleet by doing so. Here’s a tracker animation showing the time from their gybe to their recovery:


The boats should have lighter winds for a day or so as they pass the northernmost part of the iceberg exclusion zone. Then the wind should increase again as they push south toward Cape Horn. Here’s hoping they all stay safe.

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Nélias boosts MAPFRE

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Nélias boosts MAPFRE:

There is no need to hide the truth. Leg 1 didn’t go well for MAPFRE.

Skippered by Iker Martínez, the Spanish team arrived last in Cape Town on Friday.

Well, they would have secured sixth spot had they not ran into an almost windless area under Table Mountain shortly before the finish. Team SCA took advantage to sail in on a more favoured course and snatched sixth instead.

Three days later, it’s time to move forward. After a team debrief, the crew has taken some key decisions.

Jean-Luc Nélias, the man who helped mastermind Groupama’s win in the last race, will take over as navigator for the second leg, starting on November 19.

The navigator for Franck Cammas’s winning crew in 2011-12, Jean-Luc has already been working with MAPFRE as a weather analyst, and now replaces navigator Nico Lunven onboard.

The team also announced that Michel Desjoyeaux, the two-time Vendée Globe winner onboard for the first leg, will not be sailing any further stages but remains available to assist the team from onshore.

tl;dr: Navigator Nico Lunven and French sailing superstar Michel Desjoyeaux are out on Mapfre. They will be replaced by Jean-Luc Nélias, who navigated for Groupama, winner of the last VOR, and another crewmember to be named later.

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spoal: Never, never, never give up | Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 -…

Friday, November 7th, 2014


Never, never, never give up | Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 – Volvo Ocean Race

The condensed version of the SCA/Mapfre finish dramatics.

Congratulations to all the competitors on Leg 1 for living out their dreams and bringing me a lot of vicarious fun.

The Cape Town in-port race will be a week from tomorrow, on Saturday, November 15. Leg 2, from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi, starts Wednesday, November 19.

Now returning this blog to its usual inanity.

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Here’s the video from the livestream of the Leg 1 finish…

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Here’s the video from the livestream of the Leg 1 finish by SCA and Mapfre earlier today. A lot of it is just computer simulation with an aggravating music loop, but interspersed with that are onboard interviews by Genny Tulloch with the competitors. And that part is awesome.

I’m watching it now; as a public service I’ll list in this post the segments that aren’t just the simulation, so you can skip to those if you want. I’ll update this post as I work my way through the video.

  • 17:10 – 20:47 – Mapfre
  • 24:28 – 34:39 – SCA
  • 34:40 – 39:02 – Race meteorologist
  • 39:03 – 44:20 – Mapfre

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Haha. At midnight California time, looking at the tracker, I…

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Haha. At midnight California time, looking at the tracker, I thought, oh well. SCA gave it a nice try, but looks like they’re going to be DFL after all. So I went to bed.

And then Mapfre tried to take the inside route under Table Mountain and stopped dead, while SCA sailed wide and kept moving, right on through to the finish, taking 6th place.

I can’t wait to see video. They must have been over the moon on SCA. And they must feel absolutely awful on Mapfre.

I know 12 women who seriously owe the Spanish team dinner.

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Sigh. Doldrums. I happened to have the tracker open when this…

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Sigh. Doldrums.

I happened to have the tracker open when this update came in, and I actually laughed out loud. “Dongfeng is going backwards.” My wife, from the desk next to me, said, “You wouldn’t be laughing if you were on the boat.” Which was a good point.

Vestas is way to the east, and working their way farther east. They’re still behind, but their track is less squiggly than those of the other boats. That means one thing: wind.

If you hover over each of the little boat icons in the tracker to see their current boatspeed, there’s this:

  • ADOR: 4 kts
  • Brunel: 2 kts
  • Dongfeng: 3 kts
  • Alvimedica: 2 kts
  • SCA: 3 kts
  • Mapfre: 6 kts
  • Vestas: 6 kts

Six knots isn’t very fast. It would be a brisk walk on land. For a boat that can surf at 30 it doesn’t sound like much. But for competitors who take infinite pains to eke out a tenth of a knot advantage, going 50%, 100%, or even 300% faster than the other boats is huge. At the moment Mapfre and Vestas are crushing the competition, and they’re not having to use up much racecourse to do it.

It might not last. But at least for now, the eastern strategy looks like it has a chance.

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