15 thoughts on “Extreme Sailing”

  1. Amazing stuff, real adventure. Thirty knots sustained on something that size must be exhilirating as well as exhausting. The Roaring Forties, not for the timid.

  2. They lost a guy overboard a few years ago and didn’t even turn around. You are on your own there. Everybody has a half dozen cables holding them to the boat.

    Personally, I like warm water. When we went through the Mexican hurrican, he were dressing in swim trunks, safety narnesses and life lines. It must have been 90 knots of wind, like opening a furnace door.

    Stan Honey is the master of this and has done a couple of Round-the -World races as navigator. He gets well paid as these guys are all pros, He doesn’t need the money as he is the guy who invented the “yellow line” that marks first downs on NFL games. He has a bunch technical inventions. When he wants to sail for fun, he takes his Cal 40, Illusion.

  3. Back in the 19th century, when sail was the only choice, several clipper ships, which had immensely strong rigs, are thought to have sailed right under and disappeared. They were too heavy to surf as these boats do. My own boat, in Transpac, would surf in 50 knots squalls to the point that the hul back to the shrouds would be out of the water. The knotmeter sensor was in the midline, ahead of the keel. When we would get really going, the knotmetter would read zero as the sensor, and the hull back to the keel, was out of the water. A friend of mine, who has a Cal 40 which is almost bulletproof, has seen his knotmeter go to 92.9 knots when they start really surfing. Apparently, his model doesn’t go to zero but to infinity.

  4. Timm, the owner, is a crazy engineer who has sailed with me and brings enough gear with him to run the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant. The Cal 40 was light in its day but is no Volvo 70. The stresses on that rig are enormous. Timms’ boat, like mine, was built in 1967. I still miss it. As we age, and acquire the infirmities of age, we have to give up more and more. The memories almost make up for it. Sorry to go all sentimental on you. Chicago has a great sailing tradition and lost a couple on the last Chicago-Mac race. I did a Port Huron to Mac race and my sone has done the Chicago version. I’m not as bad as Cornelius Bruynzeel who had his boat, Stormy, equipped with a coronary care unit, an ICU nurse and a body bag, in case the worst happened. He was not going to give up sailing ! He and Robert Johnson, builder of Windward Passage, were both in the plywood business and sailors and the story of their race to Hawaii in 1965 is a classic. Johnson was sailing Ticonderoga, one the greatest yacht ever designed ! Johnson Later built Windward Passge but was robbed of the record and the win by a foul caused by a smaller boat at the start, He died before the next Transpac. Brynzeel’s yacht, Stormvogel, is one of the most famous in sailing history, as is Windward Passage. Bruynzeel’s later boat, Stormy, was the one equipped with the CCU for the TransAtlantic Race.

    From The Great Gordon
    “The Cape to Rio race started yesterday. It’s a 3,500 mile sprint across the South Atlantic from the gorgeous city of Cape Town nestled at the foot of the African continent, to the equally gorgeous city of Rio de Janiero, nestled under the watchful gaze of Christ the Redeemer, the massive statue atop Corcovado. Between the two famous seaports lies a wide ocean swept by a constant trade wind and laced with 40 years of Cape to Rio history. It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 40 years since the inaugural event in 1971.

    As a child growing up in South Africa I was a hardened and devoted fan. There was extensive media coverage leading up to the start of each race, and daily position reports in the newspaper as the boats raced toward Rio. There was always a special supplement in the paper that came out a week before each race. It unfolded into a large map of the South Atlantic, and you could plot the positions on the map and join the dots with brightly colored lines. I would wait by the gate at the end of our driveway anxiously waiting for the newspaper man who would come with the latest edition containing the latest positions. I could usually hear the squeak of his wheels long before sighting him, and the noise would send a thrill through my tiny twelve year old body.

    The early races were epic events. In 1973 the venerable Cornelius Bruynzeel, or Kees as he was known, set off aboard his yacht Stormy. Bruynzeel, a plywood magnate from Holland, had won most major international races but it was not because of his sailing prowess that he was being closely followed in the press. The year before he had suffered three heart attacks and at 72 was told by his doctors that it was suicide to go on the race. Bruynzeel disregarded the advice opting instead to take a cardiac nurse, some specilised cardiac equipment, and a burial-at-sea kit. Stormy not only won the race on line honors, but also on handicap. Bruynzeel went on to live another 27 years healthier than ever and died in his bunk doing the Middle Sea Race in 1980.”

    And so it goes.

  5. The Roaring Forties, not for the timid.

    The iceberg line is the limiting line of the course. It is summer in the southern ocean. No racer has ever hit an iceberg but, in fact, they they have described weaving between bergs.

  6. Even that race to Honolulu would be exciting! I have always thought, too, that these solo sailors who take almost dinghy s around the world are made of the right stuff. Wasn’t there a 16 year old girl who recently circumnavigated the globe?

    Get caught in a squall and I’ll bet you talk with your Maker a lot!

    I remember years ago – going to the Greenwich observatory (or was it the Naval College) up the Thames and seeing this tiny boat that Francis Chichester sailed around the world.

    Man that takes some cojones.

    A bit off topic but if you ever read the book Unbroken – the story of Louie Zamperini, who went down in a B24 in the Pacific – he is floating in this raft for over 100 days with no provisions.

  7. Chichester hated his last boat, Gypsy Moth IV. He hadn’t sailed it but a few times and discovered it had many bad habits. He was a bit of a nut anyway. He lived on watercress.

  8. Thank heaven for little boys. It’s great that there are people to do this. Maybe, I have a lot to learn but,is it really possible to get 92 knots from wind? I could believe that from an ice boat,but on water?

  9. “Weaving between bergs”

    Having spent a bit of time on a large, steel-hulled vessel, the top speed which was around twelve knots (downhill, with a tailwind, as the joke went), my appreciation for the risks involved here, increase dramatically. If memory serves correctly, bobbing amongst the bergs meant not only the berg itself, but numerous pieces, chunks, growlers, they were called. This could range in size from a potato chip to something the size of the USS Nimitz. Those who berthed below the waterline well remember the sphincter-tightening bangs on the hull.

  10. Michael – your mentioning the extreme speeds available with sail (unknown to me before) and the fact that clipper ships had speed but not hull design makes me think that like electric cars, their further development was stunted with the advent of the internal combustion engine.

  11. Very nice. I used to race 14′ Internationals and we could hit those speeds on a windy day. They are tiny though and we used to dump em’ all the time. We could literally sail them out of the water but those puppys are huge.

    Cats are fast but I think I could point a 14′ International a bit further up wind. We only hit those speeds planing on a broad reach but when she popped up onto the plane the speed would nearly double while everything got real quiet. We’d tiptoe about trying to keep the spinnaker full while not falling off the plane.

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