Yacht Racing World Newsletter – Issue 21
Monday February 21
Emirates Team New Zealand – Glenn Ashby to attempt wind powered land speed world record
Some childhood dreams can become realities, others remain just that- dreams. For a 10-year-old boy growing up in Bendigo Australia, his childhood dream was to go faster than anyone else had done, powered by the wind.
Speed has always been at the centre of Glenn Ashby’s existence, on yachts, motorbikes- or land yachts. The quest for speed has won him 3 America’s Cups, an Olympic Silver Medal and 17 World Championships in 4 different classes of boat.
After the 36th America’s Cup victory in 2021 the stars aligned for both Ashby and Emirates Team New Zealand, who he has been an integral part of for over 10 years, bringing together his lifelong ambition with the depth of design, technology and innovation of Emirates Team New Zealand. All the while utilising the window of opportunity that existed with the usual lull in AC activities during the transition from the 36th to the 37th America’s Cup.
Emirates Team New Zealand has always commissioned external contracts to keep the design team sharp and engaged during these periods. So, when the independently funded project to attempt to beat the Wind Powered Land Speed World Record emerged it was not hard to find willing designers, engineers and shore crew to put their talents to the test from being fastest on the water of the America’s Cup to being fastest on land ever.
The speed record attempt has been a common point of discussion for a number of years between Ashby and ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton, who himself has had a long-held interest in such a record shot. “The wind powered land speed record is something I have always been interested in, so when bringing a design challenge like this into ETNZ I knew it would be beneficial on a number of fronts to keep the technicians and the innovators of the organisation engaged durin g a down time with new, complex technical issues to solve with a cool project.” said Dalton.
Cup Insider – Paul Goodison signs on again as American Magic announce leadership line-up
British Olympic gold medalist and three-time Moth world champion Paul Goodison has revealed that he has re-signed with the New York Yacht Club American Magic syndicate for a second consecutive tilt at winning the America’s Cup – writes Justin Chisholm.
Goodison – who raced the 36th America’s Cup as wing trimmer on the American Magic AC75 – ended month’s of speculation over which team he would join for AC37 during an interview with his former British Olympic sailing squad teammate Shirley Robertson’s on her podcast.
Speaking at the end of the second instalment of the two-episode interview Goodison said: “I have just re-signed for the American Magic and I’m super excited to be going again and part of this team.”
Earlier in the interview the British sailor had spoken of his frustration and disappointment after the American team crashed out of the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland following a spectacular capsize in a Prada Cup challenger series race against the Italian Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli syndicate.
After the capsize the American Patriot AC75 was narrowly saved from sinking. Things looked bleak, but against all odds the team then rallied magnificently to repair the boat and get it back out racing again. However, there was no fairy tale ending to the story and soon after American Magic was the first team to be eliminated from the competition.
Unsurprisingly – given that ignominious exit – Goodison told Robertson that the America’s Cup “feels like unfinished business”.
Sydney Morning Herald – Netflix series Untold to tell story of Australia’s 1983 America’s Cup victory
The final interview [Australian prime minister} Bob Hawke gave before his death in May 2019 will air in the second season of the Netflix series Untold in an episode focusing on Australia’s unlikely come-from-behind victory in the 1983 America’s Cup – writes Karl Quinn.
Chapman Way, the 35-year-old who co-created the series with his 31-year-old brother Maclain, insists the victory by the Alan Bond-financed Australia II in the best-of-seven yacht race after being 3-1 down “truly is the greatest underdog story in the history of sports”.
It’s a big call, but Maclain backs it up. “It’s almost astounding how much of an advantage the New York Yacht Club had in this race,” he says. “Technologically, the winning streak, the funding, the money is mind-boggling, which is why they won for 132 years.”
The America’s Cup episode will be the third of five standalone films in the second season of Untold, in which the brothers – who created the Emmy Award-winning series Wild, Wild Country about the Rajneesh commune in Oregon, and who count the actor Kurt Russell as an uncle– go deep into stories from the sports world that we may think we know already, but more often than not really don’t.
Typical is their season-one film on Mardy Fish, the American tennis pro who went public in 2015 with his mental health struggles. The deep-dive interviews with Fish and his friend and sometime rival Andy Roddick are the antithesis of the post-match “I gave it 110 per cent” press conference that constitutes so much of modern sports content.
“We don’t just show up with a camera and say, ‘Hey, give us a one-hour interview’,” says Chapman. “We spend days getting dinners and spending time together to really work with athletes. We’re there more to help shape a story than we are to grill.”
John Bertrand, who skippered the Australian boat, was the main conduit through which they chose to tell the story of how “the longest winning streak in the history of sport” was brought to an end. But as they sifted through reams of archival footage the brothers knew they needed to speak with the Prime Minister who declared on the morning of victory that “any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum”. If they could get him.
“And Bertrand was like, ‘I’ll call him right now. Let’s make it happen’,” Chapman recalls. “And we’re like, ‘Wait, what?’ ‘Yeah, I’ll get him on the phone right now. Let’s do it’.”
Sailing World – How John Quinn didn’t drown
In Sydney, Australia it’s called a southerly change, and it does what it says on the tin. It’s a shift from a northeasterly summer sea breeze to a southerly wind, often driven by the arrival of a cold front and an associated low-pressure system sweeping up from the Southern Ocean – writes Mark Chisnel.
The waves meet the shallowing floor of the Bass Strait, and the southerly wind meets the East Australian Current, flowing south at around 2 knots along Australia’s east coast. The combination can make the ocean off the southeastern tip of Australia one of the roughest pieces of water in the world. And as it’s about halfway between Sydney and Hobart, the words “southerly change” can have an ominous ring for sailors preparing for the start of the annual Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
“When we saw the race [weather] briefing, it was a little bit fuzzy,” Hobart veteran John Quinn says. He had been speaking to me earlier this year but recalling events almost three decades ago, back in 1993. “It could have been tough; they were a bit uncertain.” The crew’s biggest concern the morning of the start was the new mainsail. “We were tossing up whether to use it or not, and we came to the decision to use it. As it turned out, the [southerly change and accompanying low-pressure system] was a lot worse than what we thought it was going to be.”
With winds reaching over 70 knots, it was equivalent to a low‑grade hurricane, and Quinn and the crew aboard his J/35, MEM, hit the full force of the storm in the Bass Strait on Monday night, December 27, 1993. Before midnight, a wave came out of nowhere. “It came from an odd direction. It was a big wave. Picked us up, threw us straight over on her side. We had three down below, fortunately. All of us on deck, I think bar one, went over the side. I got washed straight out of the cockpit. And when my weight hit the harness, it busted. It was a harness inside the jacket that had been well cared for; it must’ve split the webbing or whatever happened. But anyway, I ended up in the water,” Quinn says.
The crew hit the man-overboard button and recorded the yacht’s position, which was transmitted with the mayday call, and the search started. The water temperature was about 18 degrees C. The predicted time to exhaustion and unconsciousness is between two and seven hours at that temperature, with the outside survival time at 40 hours. It was the only thing he had going for him. “We’re talking about seas of on average 8 meters, and they’re breaking,” Quinn says. “So, the chances of seeing one individual off a yacht in that sort of condition in the middle of the night—and it was in the middle of the night—are sweet f— all.”
It was around 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning when the oil tanker Ampol Sarel arrived at the search zone. The captain, Bernie Holmes, started at the original point where Quinn had gone overboard, then shut down the engines and let the ship drift downwind. He turned on all the lights so she would coast silently through the search area lit up like a Christmas tree.
Brent Shaw, a seaman aboard the tanker, heard Quinn’s cries. “I was on the wing of the bridge, portside lookout, wearing my raincoat and rain hat when I thought I heard a scream,” he told reporters. “With all the wind and rain, I wasn’t sure, so I took off my hat, and then I positively heard the scream. I directed my searchlight toward the area—and there he was, waving and screaming.”
Quinn was about 20 meters away from the 100,000-ton tanker. “The scary part was we spotted him, and then he drifted out of the searchlight, and then he was in the dark again,” Shaw said.
The Ampol Sarel crew radioed to other search boats that they had seen Quinn, and one that heard the message was the 40-footer Atara. Its crew had already had their own share of adventure that night. One of the crew was 21-year-old Tom Braidwood, who would go on to a career with America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race teams. “It got to that stage where you couldn’t see the waves in the troughs. The white foam was filling all the troughs up. And the only way we knew—you’d hear the wave coming like a train and you’d be like, ‘Here we go.’”
Yachting World – Comanche vs Scorpios showdown set for RORC Caribbean 600
The RORC Caribbean 600 is set to return for 2022 with a 70-boat fleet due to start the increasingly popular middle distance race on Monday, 21 February – writes Toby Heppell.
One of the final international racing events to take place before the covid 19 pandemic in 2020, the RORC Caribbean 600 was cancelled in 2021, but is back with a strong international fleet this year.
The 600nm course circumnavigates 11 Caribbean islands starting from Fort Charlotte, English Harbour, Antigua before heading north, as far as St Martin, and south to Guadeloupe taking in Barbuda, Nevis, St Kitts, Saba and St Barth’s.
The big battle at the front of the fleet will be between the two giant monohulls, Comanche and Skorpios – both of which were built to break ocean records and take line honours wins.
The two boats have met before in last year’s Rolex Middle Sea Race, where Comanche came out on top. Skorpios led in the early part of the race, but ultimately surrendered the lead to the smaller (only 100ft compared to Skorpios’ 125ft) maxi class yacht.
Launched in 2014, the VPLP/Verdier-designed Maxi Comanche is a well-proven yacht with many records to her name, now racing under new ownership while skippered by Mitch Booth. The team will go into the RORC Caribbean 600 after a strong start to their campaign, also winning the RORC Transatlantic Race for both line honours and IRC overall on corrected time.