Not really wanting to venture into the super circus the event organizers are calling America’s Cup Park between Piers 19 and 26 on the San Francisco waterfront, I opted to watch Saturday’s first race featuring the America’s Cup AC72 catamarans via the safety of the tube.
Amazing boats. Ragged edge of the envelope-style sailing. Still not sure how they managed to engineer short, thin foils that would take that degree of rig loading without exploding every hour. Shitloads of hydraulics raise, lower, rotate, and bend everything. Forty-five knots of boat speed in 16 to 18 knots of wind, and it is nothing short of jaw dropping.
It’s a shame that Bart Simpson drowned underneath the trampoline of one of the Italian boats after a big pitch pole during the Louis Vuitton Cup. I actually marked that occasion months earlier. After viewing what the 45 footers were capable of and understanding that a foiling 72 footer was waiting in the wings for the late summer establishment rounds, I knew it was a matter of time before somebody was killed.
Found this in the archives and thought I’d repost. I’m sure most of the links are dead, however, but if you are into sailing, the story of the Orange II is worth googling.
– Bruno –
It’s been a few years since Orange II, the French Maxicat, circumnavigated the globe, nonstop, in 50 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes, and 4 seconds.
But for a few select and lofty sailing circle perches and a publication or two, the feat went largely under the radar of the general public. I’m sure that most of you pinheads were not even aware of people named Joshua Slocum, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, or Bruno Peyron, much less the fact that such a thing as the Jules Verne Trophy actually existed.
It’s perfectly understandable. Sailing under canvas on a ship at sea is no longer a critical link in the global economic chain. The days of the giant Clippers battling for prime berths in key ports with dramatic speed as their only weapon are forever gone. Steam ships, then airplanes, and finally telecommunications linked the world’s nations and their economies with speed never imagined by those that handled the halyard and yardarm. However, their pioneering exploits over the waves and around the great land masses spawned sportsmens’ tests of endurance like no other.
Sailing nonstop around the world in 50 days. Take a moment if you will, to wrap your dull noodles around that one, dear pinheads.
Averaging a tad over 20 knots for a click short of 22,000 miles. Never stopping; always seeking maximum speed. I’m not sure what the crew of 13 aboard Orange II set as watches, but the usual for such passages is 4 hours on watch, then 4 hours off.
The few times I’ve experienced brief blips of offshore sailing, there was no sleeping on a pitching boat. Everything is wet from constant sail changes. You strap in a pipe berth on the high side, only to be awakened for a tack so you can move your weight, fitful dreams and all, to the new windward side of the boat.
And to slog through this routine for 50 days with no break, while pushing a 103 foot catamaran as hard as it can be physically pushed?
Truly an amazing feat of human endurance with an assist from modern technical wizardry.
I’ve never seen the Roaring Forties or rounded Cape Horn. I’ve only read the stories of the green walls of water and wind whipped foam of breaking beam seas. I’ve never been cast adrift in the Doldrums or the Horse Latitudes.
This group of sailors had no real time to romance the vision of the craggy rocks of the Cape as they faded to port. But the elation of completing such an epic journey must have more than made up for the lack of pause.
It would be interesting to ask what Phileas Fogg might think of the 50 day mark. Perhaps after re-starching his deflated stiff upper lip, he might doff his cap to the victor.