Archive for October, 2009


by on Oct.22, 2009, under Uncategorized

By now, I assume most of you know that we did not finish the Middle Sea Race, so here is a recap of the race until we retired.
The start was in light air, with a J 1 on a close hauled course. We had a good start but Luna Rossa was a bit better than us and squeeked out ahead out the harbor. Once out the harbor, we sailed upwind for about 2 miles and were able to over take them. We then rounded a mark to starbord and reached to Sicily. And thus began the sail changes. In quick order, we put up the Code 0, to the A3 to the A 1, to the A 1.5. By now (only a few hours into the race) we could already see Sicily. A line of clouds approached us and we quickly changed to the A4. We kept this sail for a few hours as we sailed up and approached the Straits of Messina. The sun was getting low and a big header rolled through, and an all hands was called to get the A 4 down. But as soon as everyone was on deck, the breeze shifted back and settled down once again. False alarm. Then about an hour later, the fun really began. In a four hour stretch we did 16 sail changes. And that doesn’t count many sail change preps, then hold and change to something else. For over 4 hours we were changing sails constantly. Once one was up, we were getting the next sail ready. The guys below were packing furiously. It was non stop. The breeze was shifting constantly, increasing, dying… Our sails were varying from the Code 0, A1, A1.5, J1, and the jib top. And in all different order. It was a mental exercise keeping everything clear at night without much time to think about it. We finally got through the Straights and began some light upwind sailing. I went off watch to try and get some rest but ended up only with about 30 minutes sleep. Once, I came back on deck, we were going upwind in big seas and 17-20 knots of wind with the J 3. It was still dark as we went around one of the volcanoes at Stromboli and got to see lava shooting into the sky and down the mountain. Really cool. Once we rounded the island, the breeze built a little more and the call was made to reef the main. The maneuver when smoothly as the seas were still building. At this point, we are about 100 meters behind Ran and a few other boats right around us. As soon as the reef is put in the breeze climbs to 27 and keeps increasing and the call is made to peel to the J-5. This was the change. I knew this was going to be a tough one. The boat was launching off waves and plenty of water was coming over the bow. We prepped the jib on the rail. Once we were all ready we dragged it forward and began the operation. First step was to take tension on the tack line to relieve the tension on the jib Cunningham. Once that was done, I spiked away the tack of the jib so that we could hoist the new jib on the outside. I hooked up the new tack and loaded the head of the jib in the foil. At that instant we went over another wave, and a failure of the jib at the top batten caused to pull away from the headfoil and rip the headfoil off the headstay in the process. Once this happened, the jib broke in 2 with one part falling in the water and the other bit flying from the mast. We bore away, gather the broken sail out of the water and I go up the rig to get rid of the other bit. I had to spike it away and let it fall into the water. By the time I got back on deck, the decision has been made that we are retiring from the race. An hour after our incident, Rosebud broke their mast when a D 1 failed.
At this point, we retreat to the straits and take refuge in a harbor in Sicily before we recross the channel back to Malta. There was 30-40 knots forecast on an upwind angle at night. We thought it prudent to hold back a little.
So we returned to Malta defeated. It’s not a pleasant feeling to have to retire from a race. I don’t like turning around. We were happy that no one was injured in the ordeal, which is always a priority for the team. This was the final event for this season for the Bella Mente. Now, the boat gets shipped back to Newport, RI where we will sail next year for half the season and then ship over to Europe to compete in the circuit there.

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Starting Tomorrow

by on Oct.16, 2009, under Uncategorized

We start the Middle Sea Race tomorrow. Our start is around 11 AM. For now the forecast is to have some good breeze for the first part with possibly over 30 knots, and maybe a little more. The start is in the harbor, go to a mark set just outside then head up the coast for 2 miles to round another mark. From there, we head off to the Messina straights. This currently seems like a quick reach becoming a run. Then through the straits and around Stromboli which is just north of Sicily. Then we beat up wind for about 6-9 hours and then fetch to Trapani. The hope is then it widens up again for a long run back to Malta via a few more islands to the south of Sicily. So I’m sure that there will be plenty of sail changes and plenty of work to do. I’m sure it will also b e a wet ride. This boat is not exactly super water tight around all the openings, so there will plenty of pumping, bailing, and wet gear.
If you want to follow us on the race, go to We have a tracker on board and I am on the Bella Mente.

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Last day in Palma and onto Malta

by on Oct.14, 2009, under Uncategorized

Sorry for not updating the last day of the TP 52 worlds.
We actually had some good starts but we struggled with pace and positioning. We did not have a great day in results but we did have solid boat handling and in the last race there were some twisters a few miles away which was cool to look at. I thoroughly enjoyed racing the TPs. It was nice to be back on a boat with poles and A sails and staysails. I enjoy the challenge of the coordinating the team to make the boat go around the course smoothly. John Cutler as our tactician was very pleasant to sail with.
So we finished our regatta in 7th place with a win in the first race being a nice bonus. Next year, the TP’s get bowsprits, less crew and a bigger keel and main. I look forward to competing on the circuit next summer and strengthening the team.
On Monday morning, I flew out of Palma through Munich and onto Malta to sail the Middle Sea Race on the Bella Mente. This is our final event for the season. It is a 600 mile race that goes up through the Messina straights and basically a long sail around Sicily. We have been sailing here for 2 days working out a few issues. The race starts on Saturday, but it’s still a fair way out for a decent forecast.
I have never been to Malta before. It is quite a spectacular place. Lots of history here since it was such a strategic location in the Med. There are lots of ancient buildings built straight into the rock.. I’ll try and get some pictures in the next few days.

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coastal race

by on Oct.10, 2009, under Uncategorized

Again a long AP ashore. We finally started a coastal race at about 4:15 pm. It was to be about 22 miles and basically a windward leeward with a triangle in the middle. We had a good start by the pin. We eventually had to tack to clean our air and rounded the top mark in the top group. We set on the offset leg, and quickly gybed. We all got quickly headed and started reaching then the breeze did a full shift, and we all hoisted jibs. Boats were everywhere in different breeze. We sailed upwind to the next mark, hoisted another kite, and had a run to a leeward gate. We wounded that in second. Now for a long beat to a weather mark. There were 2 breezes with a transition zone constantly moving. We lost quite a few boats up here. As we neared to top we changed from the jib to the code 0. Most of the fleet was parked about 5 lengths to leeward of the weather mark and we were coming charging in another breeze. Then race abandoned.
Tomorrow we start earlier and they are going to try and get a few more windward leeward races in.

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day 3

by on Oct.09, 2009, under Uncategorized

One light air race today. We had a decent start at the leeward end of the line. We worked our way up the left side of the course. We got tacked on by Quantum and we had to hip on the layline. We got around the top mark clean and had a decent run down in mid fleet. Second beat seemed to be a bit tough for us and we got passed by a boat or 2 and rounded the top in 7th. We worked downwind and passed a boat to finish the race in 6th. We then waited around for a bit before we were sent in for the day. I have to say that it has been a little while since I have sailed A sails with poles and I forgot how much fun they are. They can be challenge when things are moving quickly. Yesterday we had 2 good Sambooka moves at the top and those usually provide some excitement. That maneuver is a bearaway that turns into a gybe set.
You get the pole off the mast once the move is called. Then as you are hoisting the kite, you pull the clew around. As the boat is gibing, you drop the jib then quickly get the pole back on and staysail up.
Tomorrow is a coastal race.

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Day 2 worlds

by on Oct.08, 2009, under Uncategorized

2 races today were held again in the later afternoon. The race committee seems to be excessively picky about the course and they postponed us for 20 minutes in good breeze because of a 6 degree shift. Oh well. First start we were midline about ¼ length off. We were in the top group coming in on port at the top but struggled to find a spot to fit around the mark. Tim Powell tacked just ahead of the russians and managed to squeeze our boat around the mark. It was slow and painful but a lot less than having to duck the whole fleet. We lost and gained a few spots in the race and finished 6th. Second race we started at the committee boat. There was a bit of a line up and we ended up squeezing between the French boat and the RC. We tacked off pretty quickly and worked the right side of the course. By the bottom mark we were in 4th place and were holding that until the top 3rd. Audi Q8 started tacking on us and bounced us out a few more times with a total of 6 extra tacks. That cost us a little and we finished the race in 5th. We felt like we sailed ok today and where able to get in and out of some really tight situations.
2 more windward/leeward’s tomorrow.

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by on Oct.07, 2009, under Uncategorized

2 races today. We didn’t start the first race until about 5 pm. So it was a late day. First race, we had an average start at the boat end, but we were able to tack quickly and head off to the right, which was our plan. Only thing was, we were the only ones going there. At about half way up the beat, we tack were able to cross the whole fleet. We rounded the top mark in the lead and with some good boat handling and decent speed were able to hold off the fleet and win the first race of the world championship.
After a quick turnaround, they started the second race. We worked our way to the committee boat end but paid a heavy price and ran out of time to get to the line. So from the get go, we were behind. We were dfl at the top mark. To add to our problems, we had a hydraulic issue caused some serious jib trimming issues. On the run, we were to close the gap a little with the rest of the fleet. By the end of the race, we passed a boat and nearly caught another one. So that was a 9. Oh well, we will try and get some more good results tomorrow.

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TP 52 Worlds

by on Oct.06, 2009, under Uncategorized

I’m here in Palma, Spain for the third time this year. This time though I am sailing on the TP 52 Cristabella for the World Championships. There are 10 boats in this very competitive class. We had a practice race today where we finished 7th. Conditions were pretty light. Tomorrow is the first day of racing and it seems like they will be light again.

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