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Rockets are headed to Madiera
There will be some serious pressure for redemption at the next start in Madiera.
(A great Day for photos.. see more Mini 650 start)
At 4,200 nautical miles with 84 participants from 14 countries, the 17th 6.50m Transat is getting close to its start on Sunday. There has been plenty of breeze and wind predictions on the dock for Cape Finistere are in 30-35 knts.
What is the 6.50 class? There are actually two classes, prototypes allowed more sail, canting keels, composite materials and one-design series boats like the now popular Pogo2.
The prototypes have initiated carbon rigs, canting rigs and keels, daggerboard foils and large roached sails and 36 will be in this years race compared to the 49 “series” boats.
The race from La Rochelle to Madiera and then second leg to Salvador Bahia Brazil go three critical zones: the Bay of Biscay, entering Madiera and the Doldrums. The course record was set in 2007 at 23 days by Yves Le Blevec who like all the others had to sail his 2000 miles qualifying runs (1000 racing, 1000 training).
In this race, no weather routing equipment is allowed which levels somewhat the playing field although it is a distinct advantage to understand French as weather reports are translated reports.
Craig Horsefield -- A transplanted South African living in Seattle.
“ I had sailed my Olsen 30 for some time but the fleet was dying in Seattle and I didn't want to stay in PHRF. I had wanted to do the the Transat for some time but the Transat2007 didn't work out for in time dealing with a backlog of production boats and custom boat hitches. It might have been a good thing really. I sailed the boat for 2 years in Seattle, and then sent boat to Brittany.”
LH – What are the strategic race points in your mind?
“Well first, it helps to understand French; the organization, weather broadcasts, on the VHF.
At Finistere, if there is a front, go west, otherwise go straight.
Finistere – if there is a front, go west, otherwise go straight in Fuchal you have be careful of the light airs. On the second leg, to get through the Doldrums.. if you are too close, it is a wider area, further away.. the band is narrower but further distance, if you don't know. .. opt for 30 degrees Long.
Problem with going to far West is you might not fetch the headlands of Brazil and would have to tack...not an option in this type of downwind reaching boat.
Of course just the basics like enough sleep is important. You are supposed to aim for 20 minutes sleep and get 4-6 hours per day otherwise you just get delirious and can't do basic jobs like take a position sight.”
Chris Tutmark, from Seattle, is sailing his 2008 Nacira Design, has been coming to grips with complying with Med-kit and other requirements in French this week. New to single handed sailing but able to count off around the bouys and ocean races on both US coasts, Chris benefited from another Seattle sailor's advice, Johnathan Mckee, who almost won the race in 2003.
“Johnathan was great. He sat down with me a week before leaving and gave me information and advice on everything: sleep, weather, food, electronics, boat prep....”
LH- If you can't get advanced weather information, how do you prepare?
“I'm getting some forecasts sent the day before from Commanders Weather, in New Hampshire, which will give me 4-5 days out weather picture also recommendation relative to rhumb line, what to look for.
I also have their “Road Guide” an historical look at the weather, anomalies, trends which covers leg two, Madeira to Bahia.
LH - Cape Finistere, Spain has the reputation of being a key tactical element, what are your options?
“There is a transition zone from a North-East breeze to Northerly breeze. The zone is bigger closer to shore, so it is a choice of sailing extra distance for a smaller zone but it also depends on if there is a front.”
LH – What kind of supplies, repair material, food are you packing in?
“I've got the basic resin/glass material but also quite a bit of extra line. On a race like this, lines wear out so it is good to have. Just keeping the breakages to the minimum is key which is one of the advantages of a U shape traveller track and no vang. Food wise, its mostly Freeze dried from REI but I exchanged some with others here just to test it out. Actually the REI stuff is pretty good.
LH – So you're saying you would invite a date to freeze dried?
“Okay no, its not date dinner but its not bad really.....
LH - On the Figaros they have a “hocky puck” which over-rides the autohelm?
“Actually that is a feature with the NKE systems; which a majority of boats are using, if the “hockey puck” is 50 meters away, the autohelm goes to zero degrees, which with the kite up will probably destroy the spinnaker but the options are that great either.”
Jesse Rowse – Originally from Boston living in Newport RI.
“I've had the boat for 4 years and this is my second season in France. I keep the boat in Lorient where there are about 30-35 boats of all sorts, Figaros, Class 40's, Open60's and the Banque Populaire Maxi is Based there. Its a good environment and place to save money. I have been sailing on some Class 40s as well.
Strategy wise, no breakdowns especially on the first leg. To keep the boat going all the time, at 8 knots, no such thing as “changing sails in the morning” when it really needs to be done now.
Yeah I think there is a French factor, the weather being translated, guys switching channels on the VHF.
Weatherwise, I will do all the Maxsea routing ahead of time, 7 day Grib files and upload the waypoints on to the GPS, most people seem to do that.
LH – What kind of sail setup do you use for when its blowing 35 like the predictions are for Finistere and I noticed your “hi-tech” thimbles.
“I probably will have a double reefed main and
reefed solent. You really need to have a something up in front because these
boats have huge mains and if you start to round up you need the jib to work
your way down. Yeah the thimbles, from precourt.ca, are light strong and I'm
using them for high load situations where you really don't need blocks.
To follow the racing