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I’m leaving this morning to do my 1,000 mile solo qualifier for the Azores Race.  I have to sail from Lorient to Ireland to La Rochelle and  back to Lorient.  I’m in a rush to get out because there is a weather window I am trying to make, but I wanted to let everyone know that I’m off for the next week or so.  I will take pictures and video and post them when I get back. 

See you soon

-Ryan

BD Diagnostics onboard!

New Presenting Sponsor BD Diagnostics has come onboard RFOR’s Team.   BD Diagnostics located in Hunt Valley, Maryland, is a segment of BD ( www.bd.com), founded in 1897 and headquartered in Frankling Lakes, New Jersey with 29,000 associates in more than 50 countries.

A Press release is linked here:
www.s360s.com/ROFR-Press-Release.pdf

BD Diagnostics is a great sponsor who shares in helping all people live healthy lives!  BD’s capabilities are instrumental in combating many of the world’s most pressing diseases.

Thank you BD for your support!!

Ryan & Team RFOR

 

So I’m on a plane back to NOLA.  I’m eager to get home after finishing the Mini Pavois, and am satisfied with my placement on the second leg.  Nothing amazing out there, but I placed where I should have, 10th out of about 40 boats overall with series an protos combined, and 8th in the proto class. 

For me this race was significant in two major ways.   The first being that I have completed my 1,000 miles of Classe Mini racing, and all I have to do now is complete my 1,000 mile qualifier and I’m in the Azores Race.  The second is that I learned a lot about racing minis, and about my boat.  It’s really the first time I’ve been able to line up with the more professional sailors, and those guys were really fast.

Okay, it was significant in three ways…  The third is that I had a blast out there sponging as much from the experience as I could.  In an ideal world I’d be out there doing every race possible, because it’s such a challenging place to sail, and the competition is so good, one could get really good really fast.  I want that so badly now.  Before it was a concept, now I can taste it.  I just didn’t know I’d love Mini racing so much.  

I learned about some of my performance weaknesses too.  I used to assume that my boat was pretty quick upwind in breeze, because on paper it should be.   I was blisteringly adequate in light to medium upwind stuff, but once the wind was above 15 knots, I wasn’t performing.  Maybe I wasn’t using the boat properly, but there are some other things that I’ve changed recently that could have contributed, all of them having to do with the mast set up.  I know how to undo those settings, but couldn’t do it on the water, and it was a mostly upwind race.  I will have to wait until I get back to experiment with them. 

Also learned some things that seem slow intuitively, but were not, such as leaving water ballast in longer than I would usually, and also leaving the dagger board down in lighter winds upwind.  Any time I was near another boat, I’d start playing with this stuff, because it was really the only time I could get any actual performance feedback.   I would like to do some two boat testing off the race course, but it’s not so easy.

So I’m coming home to see Louisiana to build a sail, see some loved ones and to help protect Louisiana from the BP oil spill.  Living in South Louisiana is a lot like living in an old boat.  Very challenging, and we are always trying to keep our state from sinking.  It’s become a constant fight, and this is just another major blow we need to stand up against.   I’m in touch with America’s Wetlands to see what I can do in the short time I’m here.

More on that later.

-Ryan

Shrimping in the Bay of Biscay.

La Rochelle Start

Jaws

Ryan finished 8th in the 2nd Leg of the Mini Pavois. After finishing the Pavois, Ryan delivers Myrna back to Lorient in head winds beating his way home.

Ryan promises to update his blog shortly but in the meantime wanted to post these great shots above from French photographer Thierry Martinez . http://www.thmartinez.com/en/

We will be updating you on Ryan’s new Presenting Partner later this week. 

Beth

Ryan started the Mini Pavois in 25 knot conditions off La Rochelle, France. When I checked Ryan’s position that morning U.S. time Ryan was in 7th place.

I then find out from the Grand Pavois that Ryan is headed back to La Rochelle for repairs with auto pilot issues, a main sail batten and running backstay issues. After learning Ryan has 12 hours to restart or end with a DNF we frantically try to find out if Ryan needs any help to get back in the game. Thinking his cell phone must have been flooded out from carnage we put out an onshore RRM to help Repair Ryan’s Mini!

We later learn after calling everyone but the French Foreign Legion, that Ryan has made the needed repairs to his auto pilot and is now back on the race course sprinting to Gijon, Spain. Knowing  he has to make it before the winds are forecast to drop to nothing.

After arriving in Gijon his cell phone has now dried out and is working from the windy trip across the Bay of Bisacy. Ryan calls home to the team to say  that he is now searching for a welder to fix the bow sprit from the large hammerhead shark, who hit him head on after Myrna broached from the auto pilot failure off the coast of France. Fixing the sprit is critical to Ryan being competative in the next Leg if he needs to use his spinnaker. Luckily, Ryan is able to fix over the weekend.

For Ryan’s side of the story check out Sailing Anarchy’s article.
http://www.sailinganarchy.com/index_page1.php  “I Saw A Shark”

Leg 2 was postponed until today, May 10th because of Sunday’s forecast of gale force winds.

Ryan restarted Leg 2 today in light winds but this time all of the competitors also had light winds. You can follow Ryan’s progress on the 2010 Mini Pavois race tracker website http://tracking.iritrack.com/e-viewer/MP2010/   Go Ryan Go!

team member, Beth

Shark damage

I’ve been preparing like mad for the Mini Pavois  http://minipavois2010-uk.blogspot.com and trying to get as much done with preparations for food gear etc as I can from land.  I even stopped drinking coffee and started wearing a watch!  I’ve literally plotted 862 waypoints in my gps in the past few weeks.  That’s a lot of sitting around the house with dividers pouring over charts.  

I’ve also been getting the apartment ready for my departure stowing stuff and cleaning up, so that when I finish Pavois I can grab my bags and make my way to Paris to catch my aero-plane back to Louisiana. 

I’m nervous about the race, but trying to keep cool.  I know the competition will be very high, so I have to be very well prepared for this event, and am doing a lot of the work now so I can relax before the start, or at least so I will have time before the start to deal with surprise paper work and the like.  Who knows. 

I went sailing on Myrna with my friend Thomas yesterday.  As usual she was a rock.  I am home on that boat, and she feels like a truck compared to a few of the other minis I’ve sailed on.  I don’t know if that’s good for speed, but it’s good for avoiding fatigue which is always good.  My goal for this race is to stay up with the more experienced mini sailors in the fleet, and to not stress too much about it.  So at least I have a boat I’m comfortable sailing pretty hard and is pretty forgiving as far as steering is concerned.  I think skiff sailors would hate it, because you hardly have to move the helm at all when you are driving.  I’m just praying there is wind.  The Bay of Biscay has been lacking breeze lately, and makes for some really tedious sailing. 

More later from Lorient.

-R

We have moved to Lorient because it’s easier to run a mini there than in La Trinite which has become a place for picnic boats more than racing boats.  It’s a shame, but there you go. 

So I’m in Lorient and the scene is pretty amazing with minis and other solo boats all around.  It’s also really easy to find help here because there is always someone walking around who needs your help as much as you need theirs.  I’m at AOS which is a logistics company for Farr 30′s Minis and Figaros, and it’s really handy with all the things mentioned above.  The only thing we are missing is group therapy.

So today I’m helping Dan Dytch with his boat, and we may go sailing to prepare for the Demi-Cle race which starts on Saturday.  It’s doublehanded and short, and we should have a good time with it.  If you have time, check out his blog at:  nightfeverminitransat.blogspot.com

Also, my newest sponsor, Sailing Anarchy, just published an article that I wrote about my approach to this campaign, and most importantly me asking for money or emotional support.  A match made in heaven.

Check it out:  www.sailinganarchy.com

Got to run out and reduce this work list.

-R

That’s what I bought from the butcher the other day, because I couldn’t remember the word for “half”, which still would have been too many.  So I’ve been eating a lot of hot dogs, and surprisingly I’m not getting tired of them, just a little concerned for my health.

I’m like that guy on the left every morning.

There still isn’t room for me inside at Technologie Marine.   Charlie tells me next week for sure.  I’ve spent the rest of the week doing odd jobs like electronics, cleaning winches, puting on deck hardware and tomorrow I’ve got some rudder work to do.

Also, I started French classes again this week.  I’m really glad to be there because I need some interaction with people who are patient with my French.  Nothing like having a teacher to corner.

-R

So I’m talking to my girlfriend, M5K because she’s 5,000 miles away, and we get to a point where the conversation either has to end or I need to buy a plane ticket and fly back to NOLA, (not exactly in the RFOR budget).  So we hang up, I try to write a bit, and then decide I could use a beer.  Now you have to understand that I am in a very small town that hardly a soul during the daytime, and certainly nobody is out at night.  It’s so off season that I can’t even buy bread here without a bit of luck.  Anyway, I remember seeing a bar when I was on a bike ride yesterday, so I walk over to see if it’s open.  If it’s not, no big deal, I’ll just file it under “went for a walk”. 

It’s open.  However besides the woman behind the bar I’m the only person in there.  There is entirely too much light, too many chairs, too many parlor games and way too much disco playing for this place to be so empty.  I had no idea why she was still open this late, except for she was bar deep into a book of Sudoku puzzles, which is the simplest way for modern woman to announce that their reproductive system is no longer necessary.  So I order a beer, pretend to be interested in some of the posters on the wall advertising a circus that came to town seven years ago, and then go about trying to look busy with my cell phone, so I wouldn’t seem as out of place as I really was.  A minute passes.  I can’t stand it.  I ask her the postal code for Locmariaquer to fill in the final part of the puzzle that is my home address, then slam my Amstel Light and get out of there as quickly as I can.  I don’t even think she noticed me leave.

It’s good to be back home, I mean online.

-R

I’m waiting for some equipment to come from the United States of America!  The land of the free, home of the brave!  A bald eagle soars above me.  We make eye contact and he winks at me and gestures firing a pistol.  I smile and salute, feet firmly planted on the ground, though I am soaring inside.  Or maybe it’s just that I’m recovering from a stomach flu, which most definitely took place on the inside of me, with featured improv performances on the outside, but that’s not here or there.  Is it?

I’m also waiting for next week.  I will be bringing Myrna Minkoff inside for a bottom job.  I’ve got to wait first for the guys at Technologie Marine to finish a project they are working on.  The weather here is really crap, so there’s not much I can do towards that goal until I’m inside. 

I’m really excited to get the new rigging on the mast.  I visited the mast yesterday, which is hanging in a storage building on the property.  I was glad to see it’s in perfect order, just as I left it, except it’s been pushed even further out of harms way to accommodate a mold the built for a Multi 50′ trimaran ama.  So I was pleased to see it was safe, but have no idea how I’m going to get it down with the mold there. 

Here is Code Pi:  The new screecher from Ullman Sails.  I’m super pumped!

I have a new sponsor to introduce, soon.  I’m working on a little project for them now.

More later.

-Ryan

Dear Blog,

How’s it going?  Remember that time we did all that stuff together!  How’s your mother?  AARRGH!  Forget your mother, I just miss you so bad!  I’ve tried Tweeting and Facebooking and forum trolling, but none of them are good like you were, and none of them inspired me to love like you did.  I guess what I’m saying is, will you take me back?  I’ve changed I swear.

Your you,

 Me.

 P.S. Sorry I brought up your mother again.  I really do like her Jello salad.

Anyway,   I’m back in Locmariaquer, which is in the greater La Trinite area.  I flew in yesterday, and as usual I’ve damaged my sleep cycle by “just taking a quick nap” after lunch today.  I awoke at 4:30 pm and now I’m going to have to stay in bed with the lights out, clinching my eyes closed as if it were a way to trick my body into falling asleep.  It’s not going to work, and I know it going in. 

 Tomorrow I will be visiting Ms. Minkoff, and hopefully she is exactly as I left her.  I’ll clean her up a bit and then get to work tweaking some of the deck hardware with new stuff from Lewmar, and then I’ll look at doing the bottom again.  E-paint has sent me two gallons of ZO-HP bottom paint, and this time I’m going to put both gallons on to get max coverage and so I can sand it nice and smooth without worrying about removing too much paint. 

 I have a little repair underneath the bow to fix from where I hit something during my last race.  Hopefully it will not require too much grinding.  It’s a little aggravating that it has to happen, but par for the course.  

 It’s pretty cold here right now, and there is nobody around.  Stores close early and if you see someone, you are seeing a local.  So it’s nice in quiet in La Trinite right now, and the complete opposite of New Orleans, where it’s mostly out of town people and everything is exploding with excitement. 

 I wish I could have been there to see the Saints parade.  Watching them win the Superbowl was really amazing, and I’m glad I stuck around for what really was a once in a lifetime event.  It’s not every day that you get to see someone break a 40+ year losing streak!  Amazing.  I flew out the next day, and when I was in line (a very long line) there were literally two women in front of me and two behind who had reduced their speaking voices to a raspy whisper because of the amount of yelling they were doing during the game.  They were not the only Saints fans I met that had lost their voices that day.  It’s evidence of what an exciting time this is for NOLA. 

 More later.

 -R

 

It’s hard to convey how much fun I’ve been having being back in Louisiana without Myrna.  Last time I was here I was going insane working around the clock to get her ready to go to France.  All of my friends were here too, but I was too busy to see them.  It was not a good time in many, many ways.   This time I’ve made up for it, and inevitably fallen back in love with New Orleans.  It’s just an extremely fun place, especially these days with the Saints going to the Superbowl and Mardi Gras bubbling up from every pothole in the city.  I love being from here.

That being said, I’m excited to get back to FR to get on the water.  Actually very excited to do some real sailing again.  I’ve got a few little jobs to do on Myrna when I get back, the most significant being changing the standing rigging from steel to Dynex Dux from one of my new sponsors, Colligo Marine http://www.colligomarine.com/ .  This will save a lot of weight aloft allowing me to sail with a bit more sail up than usual. 

I’m also hugely excited to hoist some of the new sails I’ve built at Ullman Sails Gulfcoast.  We’ve built a Code 5 for tight reaching in light to moderate breeze and also to use as a downwind sail in winds above 30 knots.  It’s essentially a very flat spinnaker with mystical powers. 

At the moment I’m finishing up a new screecher that Dave Ullman designed last week.  It’s a slight development of the screecher I used in my last two races.  Most notably it’s a higher aspect sail built from a lighter material from Dimension Polyant www.dimension-polyant.com .  It has a very interesting luff curve to accomodate luff sag, and we jokingly refer to it as the Code PI.  I’ll post pictures later (as soon as I find the freaking camera cable). 

So I have one more week in the States and then I’m off to Paris, basically, because I want to watch the Saints at the Superbowl with my people.  People who are freaking out about the Saints right now.  It’s not like they are just talking about them all the time, it’s more like brain damage.  You drive around New Orleans and there are literally people all over the place yelling Who Dat! for no reason.  It’s awesome.  Combine that with Mardi Gras season, and I the brain damage case is even stronger.  I’m not far from it myself right now, and basically I have to leave before I too transform into little more than a drooling digestive tract that yells a lot. 

I’ll be back in May after the 800 mile Mini Pavois. 

SPONSOR PLUG!   This edition, Columbia Sportswear and Ullman Sails.  POW!

Sadly, those sun glasses are no longer with us.

More later.

-Ryan

Man it feels good to be back in Louisiana.  It’s strange understanding everyone around me.  I haven’t been able to do that for a while.  However, considering some of the things I’ve heard, there is something to be said for not knowing what people are talking about.  It’s also strange to be back in texting land, where I send and receive text messages all day.  There are benefits to both lives, and neither one is better at this point. 

The trip from Lanzarote to Guadeloupe was pretty straight forward.  The high pressure system that dictates the trade winds was pretty far south when we left, and light airs dominated both the west and southern options so we went south towards the Cape Verdes where we had an option to pick up some fuel if necessary.  It’s a conservative option for delivering a boat, but meant we had to cover a lot more distance to get to Guadeloupe because we were so far south.  So in the end it took us 18 days to sail 3,650 miles, and the crew which included my Dad, Phil Bylsma, and Tom Mullen did a really good job of staying on task.  There were four of us in all, and most of the trip was done with the spinnaker in winds from 15-20 knots.  I’d wake them up at least once a night to change from spinnaker to code zero, or to gybe and they were all enthusiastic to do the maneuver.  It’s a pleasure to work with people who actually enjoy sailing :)

Here is the foredeck of Kativa, complete with a dingy and staysail on hanks.

And here is the foredeck crew, Tom and what’s his face.  We had a system and nobody else was allowed in front of the mast :)

Our only equipment failure for this leg was a spinnaker halyard shackle failing at 2:45 am (of course) the night before we got into Guadeloupe.  Once again the team got on deck and we recovered the sail from the water without damaging it or the spinnaker sock.  Because it was only blowing 16 knots at the time we sheeted in the mainsail super tight and headed dead downwind so we were going very slowly with the spinnaker right along side the boat.  Three of us grabbed one tape while my Dad drove and had the sail on board within a few minutes. 

The most regrettable event of the whole trip happened a few days before we finished the leg when we hit a whale very hard.  After hitting the keel it surfaced next to the boat and turned and hit the rudder.  It is quite upsetting to me still because it was definitely bleeding a lot, and I could see it struggling in the water as we sailed off.  I will never forget that image, and I hope to never to do that again.  Our boat is 42,000 lbs and we were going about 9 knots at the time, so we must have done a lot of damage to the 20′ whale.  I don’t know what kind it was.  Truthfully I hesitated about even including this in the blog, but it is an unpleasant reality of sailing offshore.  We sailed away unscathed in this case, which would be unlikely on a racing boat like a mini.   Okay, enough of that.  I want to change the subject.

So I’m in Louisiana visiting friends and getting things lined up for my winter training assault in La Trinite, which after sailing on boat with headroom, refrigeration and hot water, excites me very much.  I struggle a great deal with displacement boat sailing, and look forward to flicking water off of Myrna’s bow in a month or two.

It’s good to be home too though.

-R

I bought four Budweisers to celebrate the halfway point.  It’s the first time I’ve seen Bud since being in Europe.  Of course we are in the Canaries, so it’s a little different.  The trip looks like it will be slow.  There is a lot of light air forecast, and we are going to have to sail way out of the way to get any pressure.  Near the Cape Verdes I think.  The trip down was easy and we did the 700 miles in 3.5 days in strong downwind conditions.  Now that’s over though.  Anyway, we’ve got to cast off, so, bbfn and I’ll write again in St. Thomas. 

-R

I’m leaving to bring my Dad’s boat to St. Thomas today.  I’m back in Spain with my Dad, Phil and Tom.  You don’t know these people, but they all be good.

I spent the last two weeks in Paris studying French and this is what I learned:

DSCI0198

It was nice staying in Paris.  I walked around a lot.  Until I couldn’t anymore, actually.  Fortunately I had a new pair of shoes from Columbia which were extremely comfortable compared to the old Crocs I was threatening to sport in Paris.  I visited some interesting cemetaries and found one that I found particularly great:

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Well, I gotta go fuel up the boat. 

First stop is the Canaries.  Looks like there will be a lot of wind on that little leg.  Update from there.

-R

 

And it feels good.  Winter is approaching here and the weather is cooling a bit.  The delivery to Sotogrande from Sardinia was very easy, if not boring at times.  A lot of motoring in the middle of the Med with the last bit from the eastern part of Spain to Gibraltar downwind in light air.  We did quite a bit of spinnaker sailing along the coast in lovely conditions that are worthy of one of the biggest gay-ball songs ever written.  In fact I made a video of our trip along Spain.

Observe:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTQWZfi1_Bw

Gibraltar was really amazing though.  I will look for any excuse to visit again.  Here are som pictures from the top.

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Here is the ridge view of clouds being launched from the windward side into vortices.  Very cool to watch in motion.

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Here is Dee with the clouds flying into the Atlantic side.  They are not going slowly either.

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I’m going to Paris tomorrow as a guest of Lablee family for a fun wedding at a castle.  There is rumored to be a pony and all kinds of good stuff. 

-R

 it’s beautiful.  Sailed here from Corfu, Greece through a nice chunky front that caused a great deal of flash flooding in Sicily and Tunisia and unfortunately there was quite a lot of human life lost on land.

  Dee and Tif did well, and the trip was relatively uneventful for us, beyond a 40 knot squall in the early AM hours the second night out.  It was upwind the whole way, as usual.  We leave tomorrow for Spain.

 

Okay let’s talk about sails.

So I’m preparing for life on the Gulf Coast again after this delivery is over.  I hope to build more sails at Ullman Gulf Coast over the winter break.  It has been really great working so closely with Dave Bolyard and Dave Ullman.  I cannot emphasize enough the value of sail development  and it’s relation to boat speed.

Before leaving La Trinite sur Mer I took my main and jib to a local loft and measured them in every dimension so there would be less guess work with the new set.  I also analyzed all the patches and batten details looking for improvements in weight and durability.  It’s a funny line to be walking the first time around and there are some things we nailed, some things we overbuilt and some things we underbuilt.  It’s all pretty obvious stuff to see when the sail is lying unloaded on the floor. 

So we now have detailed, real world numbers on a main and jib that have exactly 1,000 miles on them.

-Patches for luff and leech on both sails:  some will be bigger, some will be smaller, and the design will change a bit for the full hoist and first reef patches on both main and jib.

-Patches for batten ends:  all will be bigger except for one.

-Radial tape reinforcements to control bias:  I will suggest we rid of some entirely and extend others so they are doing more work.

-Batten placement:  The third batten is doing a lot more work than I imagined.  That will be moved on the new sail.

-Luff/Leech reinforcements will also be refined around the Dimension Polyant cloth we used.  Basically smaller and lighter in most areas and extended further up.

-Roach:  Will not change.  A six foot square top is enough for this boat. 

-The luff will be extended a bit now that I know the optimal rake position for my boat upwind.

There are some really weird loads happening with these large square top sails, and with what we’ve learned from this first set, I firmly believe the next set will leave little room for improvement.  I’d go into more detail about the measurements above, but I’m treating it like proprietary information belonging to Ullman and Dimension Polyant.  Because of all they have done for me, I want these groups to benefit from this info before anyone else.

 

I’ll make another post when I get to Spain in about a week. 

-Ryan

I’ve spent the last couple days packing up my friend Arnaud’s apartment, and cleaning his car so that when his family comes out to visit they will not be too shocked to see the amount of crap I have stacked in the downstairs bedroom.  I moved there a little over a week ago.  It’s near La Trinite in a small town named Locmariaquer  (pronounced: lock-my-yack- care).  It’s beautiful and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.  It’s the first time in years I’ve lived alone, and I was enjoying it.  However I won’t be back there until the middle of the winter. 

The other part of this equation was packing the boat up.  She is tidily packed away at Charlie’s place with all the loose deck hardware off, boom and bowsprit down below, tape on everything that needs UV covers, winches and clutches covered and the mast safely hanging inside a small warehouse attached to Technologie Marine.  So that’s all good.

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I have been spending my spare time with France Birch, Mike’s wife and the mother of my friend Tifenn.  The three of them have been and continue to be extremely helpful to me here in France, and have been great company to boot. 

France is in town visiting her apartment and working to get some visas for a music group from the Dominican Republic.  She’s been working with them for a couple years now.  Anyway, the point of this is that we’ve been eating a lot of Oysters at lunch time, and they are getting really good.  I’m guessing it’s a result of the season changing and the winter approaching.  The one’s I had earlier this summer didn’t even compare to oysters in Louisiana when they are in season.  The same can be said for the one’s I’ve been eating lately.  When I get back to Louisiana I’ll have to do some more measured tests.  Lie detectors, sensory deprivation, stenographers wearing blindfolds: that kind of thing. 

So now I’m in Paris, and Tifenn and I leave from here to go to Athens to meet my friend Dee at the boat.  Dee’s flying in from NOLA, and she’s sailed on the boat quite a bit.  I think it’s just the three of us for this delivery to Gibraltar, because my Dad may have to get back to the States for a little while.  It’s been six months for him on the boat, so…

 

More on this later.

-R

I’m glued to this race right now.  If you had told me it was possible for a series boat to lead the MT fleet I would have never believed it, but that is happening under the relentless attack of Francisco Loboto.  There is really no excuse unless the protos are holding back to be conservative.  The boat’s Francisco is in front of  right now cost 3-4 times as much, weigh as much as 500 lbs less, have taller lighter masts and deeper keels and are all carbon fiber.  I won’t even mention the canting keel advantage, because even down wind it’s significant.  So basically what he is doing is really phenomenal and inspiring.  This is a battle of mental strength and he is winning on many levels.  It’s like “Scanners” where if you look at him he’ll make your head blow up.  That’s what’s happening offshore right now.

Now that I’ve mentioned my enthusiasm for Francisco’s work he’s bound to break something.  Therefore I’m not including a link to the race.  You know, the rules of superstition and stuff.

Okay, enough of that.  What’s happening with Myrna?   Tomorrow I’m taking the mast down and bringing the boat to Charlie’s, Technologie Marine to get a bottom job.  I’m also going to prepare the boat for a new sponsor who is supplying synthetic rigging which is way freaking lighter than the steel stuff that’s up now.  I’ll mention them when we have the details ironed out.  

 I’ll take the weight savings aloft and remove the equivalent from the bulb to lighten the boat a bit more.  Than I’ll add more sail area with the new main and jib, because I think we can get away with it.  I’m not the type of person to say I like pushing my boat or going “balls out”, or decorating the walls with balls or something to do with balls, but I know what my boat wants and for some reason she likes having a lot of sail up.  I’m hoping to better define an “edge” by lightening the boat a bit and adding a smidge more upwind sail area.  Plus it will be fun to drill holes in the bulb. 

I’m going to Paris on the 18th or so to visit, then I fly out Athens maybe? to help my Dad deliver his boat to Spain.  He’s out of crew and as usual I get the tap.  It will be fun to see him.  We always have a good time sailing together and arguing about what sails to put up.  Then he tries to convince me that he’s preparing “the best steaks ever” and comes on deck with these black things that are oozing a mixture of blood and oil all over the place.  The bleeding grease shanks are usually followed up with a warm Red Dog, and as boredom mixes with beer I’ll start to joke with him about how he destroyed my childhood, because it always gets a reaction.  Inevitably we both end up laughing our asses off about it, because we both know wouldn’t change a thing, even if we could.  I’ll do an interview with him for those who don’t know him.  I leave for that trip on the 23rd. 

-R

P.S. I am not sponsored by AIG.  That was a joke.  I’m actually sponsored by Blackwater USA with logistics and catering supplied by the CIA. 

P.S.2 I like this picture by Bruno Bouvry  www.imagesdemer.com

 Ryan%20252

It’s posted:  www.sailinganarchy.com

I left Jesse and Conrad yesterday to get back to La Trinite.  Jesse seems very well sorted out for Transat and only used my help because I was there.  Conrad still has a few things to do, but is pretty well taken care of at this point.  Chris Tutmark and Craig Horsfield seem really sorted well, and didn’t require any help from me at all which shows they are well organized.  Most everyone is ready to go from what I could see. 

The Editor at SA said they’d be following me in the Mini Transat closely.  That should be easy to do since I can blog about it from land.  I guess he didn’t catch that I’m not going!  I hope that doesn’t throw a wrench in the works for SA.  I sent him an e-mail already. 

Strangely I don’t feel upset or anything about not doing this year’s race.  I’m excited for the guys who are going, but not jealous which surprises me.  I thought I was more petty than that.  I must be slipping.  I just feel relieved to have the hardest part of the mini over with.  That is the refit.  I’ve still got a small work list, but it’s nothing compared to the massive amount of work (for me) I put in over the past year.  Mostly I’m just feeling relieved to have gotten here, sailed in one race and made my sponsors happy with a good result.  Now the fun part starts and I am doing the budget for next season.  A budget which includes hotels with internet!   

Speaking of budgets, look at this:

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The massively modified and amazing Gitana 11, now 78 feet long preparing for the Route du Rhum in 2010.  One of Gitana’s problems being the 95′ Idec to port.  The other being the 100+ foot Sodebo about 100 yards away to starboard.  Consider this: the Route du Rhum is a solo race.  These are big boats for solo racing, and they are as fast as they are big.

As a sixty foot ORMA class trimaran, Gitana 11 sailed the 4,000 mile course in just over seven days under the spell-like control of Lionel Lemonchois.  It was a sublime accomplishment.  Historic and poetic. 

Sometimes these races are won by men behaving like machines, but Lionel’s record showed me solo racing can be more than that, and that’s why I’ve come to France.  On the mini it’s hard to get over the mechanics, because the boats are so small and are rarely, if ever fully in harmony with the sea.  The big multihulls are a much better medium to interact with the sea.  Their highs and lows are proportional and extreme, and to me it’s the purest and most honest way to go offshore. 

Until then, minis.

-R

I guess they are doing it in two parts.  www.sailinganarchy.com

Beyond that I’m in La Rochelle helping a couple Jesse Rowse and Conrad Coleman to prepare their boats for the Mini Transat.  It’s something I wish I had for all of my races, and I can offer it, so I am.  Maybe one day it will come back to me.  Who knows.  I’ll keep you posted about the race.

-R

A small explosion in cyber space.  People are actually looking at this blog.  What could it be?  Check Sailing Anarchy…  Okay that makes sense.  Now I have to produce a story.  Unfortunately because of SA it now has to be “extremely entertaining”.  How does one come up with an entertaining story about sailing a 280 mile race on a mini that is mostly upwind in 15- 20 knots?  If any of you have done it, you’ll understand there is nothing “entertaining” about sailing minis upwind, and with the confused sea state along the Aquitaine coast, it’s nothing short of absurd.  Maybe that’s the angle then.  I’ll write this today and get it to the ever lurking and sometimes dangerous Editor of Sailing Anarchy. 

We won the Port Medoc race.  I’m sitting outside on a sidewalk, it’s sunny, and I can barely see the screen, so I’ll do an update later with more info.  Just wanted to let everyone know.

-R

Ryan Passes His Final Paper Work Inspection 2 minutes before the race start.

Ryan Passes His Final Paper Work Inspection 2 minutes before the race start.

After spending the last month preparing Mryna for measurement.. Myrna passed inspection!!!. Ryan had a few last minute paperwork details and one tiny hurdle it will be more fun for Ryan to tell first hand. BOTTOM LINE Ryan and Myrna started the Port Medoc Race in wind and sunshine @ 10AM French time. After sorting last minute items and crossing the line last Ryan quickly maneuvered Myrna up to third place befor racing down the French Coast. Details to follow.

Headed to Start Line

Headed to Start Line

Vont Ryan !

Vont Ryan !

I’m taking the long way to get some training in, but I’ll be there by the 23rd.  That’s all for now.

-R

This included removing the entire system, bringing it home with a battery and troubleshooting it in my bedroom.  Then I removed the Rudder Reference Unit and smashed it with a hammer to see what was inside (encapsulated in an epoxy block).  Figured out which wires were what, found some corrosion, and jury rigged another brand’s RRU to make sure that was the problem.  Then today, I went to Lorient and went on a hunt for a part that is no longer in production, AND I FOUND IT!  Came back to the boat, replaced all of the wiring, hooked it all up and presto, it’s all better.  So I’m looking to go sailing tomorrow.  I have a bunch of little things to do first to prepare for my trip to Port Medoc, which is where the race starts from.  There is apparently nothing there, so I have to bring pretty much everything to make sure I can fix stuff.

That be all.

-R

See how shiny.  That’s why I didn’t use anti fouling paint.  They kick up, so I’m kosher at the dock.  I’ll see how they do after a few days of sailing, and decide if I want to keep it this way for next season.

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I mentioned before about having newer, smaller rudders made.

A.  It wasn’t in the budget.

B. When I sailed Myrna again, she was happy with the original rudders.  So I just concentrated on making them a little faster.  They are not perfectly fair by Olympic standards or anything, but they are a vast improvement over what they used to be.  I can tell these rudders didn’t come out of the mold perfectly, and making them perfect would have required covering the entire blade with fairing compound and starting from scratch.  There is no time for that.  However, the keel for this boat is solid carbon and pretty much came out perfectly.  I took it all the way back to bare carbon, primed it and painted it.  That’s all.  Much more time in the rudders.

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And here’s a picture of me doing something on the boat.

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I want to include this because this is a fake picture.  I’m pretending to do something in this picture.  I’m actually holding onto the bobstay and pinching the boat cradle.  This is when Tif and I brought the boat downtown and she thought it was important to have a picture of me and the boat on this occasion, and I don’t like posing for pictures.  So there you go.  I fake doing stuff for pictures all the time, to avoid fake smiling.  I can’t be only person that does that.

And finally, here is a nerdy rudder story.   I went AMCO (Jedi Master mini builders in town)  with a friend on a random trip, and they had a top prototype in the shed who was replacing his new generation rudders with an older design from Finot.  By older design I mean 1985!  He tested the rudders with the new design on one side and the older, much larger, design on the other side.  And well, all I know is he’s putting the 1985 vintage Finot rudders on his boat for this year’s Mini Transat.  My guess is that although small rudders mean less wetted surface and less drag, they also stall earlier, and require more helm to control the boat in real sailing conditions, so in the end they may be as draggy, or more, and less effective.  It will be interesting to see how it plays out in the Mini Transat.

I launch Myrna tomorrow.

-R

Just returned fr0m Morocco today.  I flew in to Paris last night and immediately went to the cheapest expensive hotel I could find to catch up on sleep.  In the morning I had coffee, which is considered breakfast here, and then got in a fight with a homeless guy, or mime, I can’t tell, but I think it was about leaving him staggering space on the side walk.  Then I was off on a whole day long train swapping extravaganza to get to La Trinitie s/Mer.  It’s nice to be back. 

  The trip to Morocco was very easy, and the boat very nice.  The owner and his pros, Gary and Kirstin, were similarly very pleasant.  They have a boat in the Azores and have cruised extensively, including the Arctic and Antarctic(http://www.wanderingalbatross.org/).  They should be on their way to the Azores right now, which is about 800 miles or so off the Portuguese coast.

This was my first passage on a luxury yacht, and I have to say is was more like being on a small island condo than what I’m used to, so “pleasant” is a word that keeps popping up when thinking about it. 

Here we are entering Rabat, Morocco. 

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And here’s the old town of Rabat.

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I would comment more on Morocco, but I was only there for a couple of hours, and doing so would make me sound enormously ignorant.  You know what, that’s never stopped me before!  I’m going for it. 

3…2…1… Morocco is to Europe what Mexico is to the U.S, and Canada.  The only difference in the beans and rice there is the presence of Allah.  Even the airport is familiar with lots of sun burned white people in designer shorts, and racoon eyes from wearing sunglasses without sunscreen.  They even have the essential dead cow/donkey off the highway as you drive to the airport.  I think they watch more satellite TV in Morocco though.  The roofs of apartment complexes bristle with dishes which seem to grow out of them like small plants.  If they represent the number of families in each building, you are looking at some pretty cramped quarters.   

I would have liked to stay longer, but had to get back to reality.  Yes, these observations were limited to a car ride to the airport, which is the worst way to see any place.  When I was a kid I used to read about M.C.Escher’s facination with Moorish 2D design, and later read a lot abot Matisse’s visits to Morocco.  I was only able to catch glimpses of these things from the road.  I have to explore beyond the highway next time. 

Speaking of reality, bye.

-R

P.S. I found the camera, of course.  Everytime I’ve had something stolen it’s popped up in a bag or in my pocket or in my hand…  Of course that means that Myriam’s bike also showed up.  A neighbor “borrowed” it and put it back on the other side of the house.  That’s crime in France for ya.

I’m leaving tomorrow to bring a 90′ cruising yacht to Morocco.  This is to help fund living in France.  The Breymaier family made the contact for me.  They are such a fine people.

This should take a week and then I launch Myrna and go sailing.  Tifenn and I moved her downtown on Friday after doing some work at Technologie Marine.  I had pictures, but apparently someone stole my camera from the car, along with Myriam’s bicycle, while parked at Myriam’s house.  Could be a good time for Negativland to kick up “Myriam’s purse fund” again.  I’ll have my secretary send them an e-mail.

This means no pictures until I get a camera.  I think I have one in Louisiana.  I’ll call my secretary in Louisiana to see if it’s around.

Also my Dad came to visit.  He is on mega world tour and it was great to see him.  He seemed to have a really good time and we both gained weight.

I leave for Concarneau tomorrow morning to meet the boat.  All I know is it’s a new 90′ boat and there are four of us.  Besides the money it’s nice to meet new people, and by going to Morocco I renew my tourist visa for the EU.  All good.

-R

P.S. I don’t really have a satelite secretaries.

Ryan has recently received a new computer from his Mother, Dr. Abbe Finn, P.H.D., or “Doctor X” as she is known to RFOR.  The significance of this is that this computer has a disc drive which enabled Ryan or “Rybo” as Doctor X calls him, to load his Rosetta Stone program which contains the entire language of France, known as “French”.  So rather than spend time updating his blog, Ryan has been spending his time gently massaging this program into his cluttered and inefficient brain.

He would like you to see the stickers he put on his little boat, hold on, I need to look up the name… Myrna Minkoff?  That’s what it says.  His boat, Myrna Minkoff.

Blog# 588

Apparently he had been trying to get those big Ullman stickers to say on his sails, but nature would not allow it, so BAM!  on the side of the boat.  It says here that the Lewmar Sticker is also new.

Then there is this.  Personally I find this disturbing, but hey I just work here.Blog# 589

A Grim Reaper?  I think a Jesus fish would be more appropriate.  Oh, wait, it says here it’s was a sticker being sold for a cancer charity initiated by Tom Neill.  Interesting choice of characters.  Oh, apparently it’s an reference to Tom’s series of boats named “Nightmare” which had the GR as their mascot.  Take that Jesus fish!

Tempting fate or tickling it?  Beats me, I’m just filling in for the dude.

Your trusty companion,

Calypso Finn.

This EP-Prime is tough stuff.  It’s a two part epoxy primer, and if you can spray it on, do so.  Spent hours today hunched over one rudder with a sanding board getting this thing smooth.  I tried using a power tool, but couldn’t control it enough for this fine work, especially when you are trying to protect the trialing edge of the rudder.  Plus it just wasn’t sanding as well as the board.

Blog# 586

The black spots are carbon and they show the high spots.  This side is pretty good now, and I’m almost done with the other side.  When both rudders are fair, Charlie is going to help me spray them with another thin coat of EP-Prime, one last bit of sanding, and then we’ll paint them.  I was going to use orange EP-ZO-HP, which is what the bottom is, and is Epaint’s high performance paint, but I changed my mind.  It’s fast stuff, but nothing is as fast as no bottom paint, and since I can lift the rudders out of the water at the dock, I’m just going to paint the rudders orange and then clearcoat them.

I have to go to Lorient tomorrow to meet Conrad for the gear, so won’t be onto the other rudder until Saturday, unless I get back early

Also got word back from Olive about my B&G mast head wind unit.  He thinks it’s “out of order” as he put it.  He’s bringing one from work so we can continue checking the instruments and wires.  He also may have a spare one for me which would be quite nice.  Additionally I picked up Mike’s survival suit from the pizza shop.  I don’t know if it will be legal, but I’m brining it to find out.  It’s been used.  Mike didn’t tell me how, but I’m sure it was necessary.

-R

uɐʎɹ-

I spent most of the day stripping the paint off the rudders and filling the lows to fair tomorrow.  The rest of the day was spent sanding the EPaint bottom of Myrna and her keel.  I’m dedicating this activity to Pat Kent.  He was often reminding me that the bottom was not smooth enough to race with, and that the boat might actually sink out of shame for hitting the  starting line with such a rough bottom, blah blah blah.  It wasn’t a priority in Louisiana though, at least that’s what I told him.  However, now that I can smell an approaching race I can hear his voice again, and somehow he’s more convincing, so I went ahead and did it.  The activity may seem ritualistic, but it actually does make the boat go faster.  The bottom is nice and smooth Pat, you can rest now.

Blog# 583

This has actually been a few days work, and I sanded through in some spots on the keel.  I’ll go over those areas with more EPaint and sand it down again.  www.epaint.com

I’ve also made headway with the safety equipment for the Mini Port Medoc race on August 26th.  Conrad Colman (www.conradcolman.com) has offered to lend me his life raft,  survival suit and flare kit for the event, which is hugely kind of him, and cuts down a lot on my cost for entering the race.  Mike Birch may also have a suit to give me in the nearby city of Auray, but I need to go check it out and see if it fits all of the certifications required by the class.  It would be nice to own one though, especially if I am going to be sailing this winter here.

Now this!

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Mast track.  More like it, eh?  Thank you Sebastien at Pro Fil Composites.

More sanding tomorrow.

-R

I know nobody is reading this blog anymore.  I can see the stats.  So now it’s time to take the gloves off.  I’m printing everything right now.  Every high and low.  I’m also going to start blaming everyone for my problems, so sit tight…

So, without any further delay, I want to list the top ten parties I deem responsible for screwing me over this year.

1. The media.  I’m suing the internet.

2. People from the mid-west.  No explanation needed.

3. Blockbuster.  I have not lived in New Orleans for years.  Stop calling me about late rentals!

Okay, I’m B.S-ing.  I just wanted to do a build up to a rant that doesn’t actually exist.

Look at this!

Blog# 576

That’s the mast.  There is a carbon tube (not uni-directional) bonded to the mast and faired in with epoxy puddy.  Mostly it’s microballoons.  I sanded this last weekend and Sebastian at Pro-Fil Composites routed out a slot down the middle and clear coated it.  This shot was before I sanded it.

I just picked it up last week, because I didn’t have the money until then to pay for the work.  It was expensive, but should work.  I’ll take a picture of the finished product soon.  It’ looks very nice now.

AND THIS!!!

Blog# 579

I spent the last two days in Lorient at this old WW2 submarine base getting my ISAF safety at sea certificate.  I need this to race in B level offshore races here.  It’s all about the paperwork over here, which doesn’t quite suit me.  What does suit me is that I was ten minutes late on the second day, freaking out, because I thought everyone would be pissed for me holding up the class, and when I showed up, there were folks hanging out smoking, and other people hadn’t shown up.  So what my close friends call “Finn time” on account of my Brother, Sister and Dad always being late for everything, is simply known as “time” here.  Am I generalizing?  Sure.  What are you going to do about it?

Onto more personal matters.  I have the mast and am ready to put the boat in the water to sort the electronics out.  That help is free for now, so I need to make sure I’m not wasting Olive’s time and have everthing in order for him to go through.  I have not launched the boat yet because I need insurance and have been working with Beth Perry on that.  We have a quote that is of course high, and prevents me from buying safety equipment to race, so I’m trying to sort out my plans for the rest of the season.

On Wednesday I get a survey for the insurance company (165 Euros).  Hopefully I soon after get a policy after dropping $1,600 Euros to get the paper work flowing.  From there I move the boat to down town La Trinite s/Mer and step the mast somehow.  I pray this can all happen next week.

Then I work with Olive to get the electronics sorted for real, not just testing leads etc…  Who knows how long that will take.

After that I need to get the boat measured by Classe Mini to make sure it’s legal to race (at least 200 euros).  I need to get that out of the way soon, so I’m not doing it right before an event.

Then, I need to borrow a life raft, survival suit, and maybe some flares.  It just depends how much money is left over after I buy the EPIRB.  They are very strict about regulations here and my EPIRB and raft are not up to standards.

My goal is to do the Mini Port Medoc race which starts on August 26th (www.voile-medoc.com).  It’s a 280 mile solo race, and it’s the only one I have a chance at making considering my finances.

What’s difficult about this is that I have so many in-kind sponsors who have given me great equipment to work with, but I never was able to raise any money for logistics or get the safety equipment sponsored.  Logistics and safety equipment have eaten my personal budget.  So that’s where I’m at.

If anyone who reads this knows anyone with the following equipment who isn’t using it from August 23rd to August 30th, please let me know.  I need to squeeze in one race this season at least to justify any worth to my in-kind sponsors.  If I sound desperate, well, you don’t have to read between the lines.  I will return all of the equiment immediately after the race, but this is the last race of the season besides Transat, and I can’t qualify for that now.

-Liferaft:     must comply with ISO 9650-1 standards.

-Survival suit:    must comply with ISO 15027-1 standards, category A, guaranteeing a minimal thermal protection of 0,75 clo immersed (whatever that means) and it has to be stated on a tag attached to the suit.

-EPIRB:    The 406 Mhz and 121.5 Mhz Sarsat-=Cospas EPIRB autonomy must be of at least 48 hours at a temperature lower than 20 degrees Celcius.  The MMSI number has to be coded for the ongoing year in the name of the boat and owner (Myrna Minkoff and Ryan Finn).

-Flares:      4 red parachute flares

4 automatic red hand flares,

2 floating smoke flares

1 Seamark dye marker (min, 40 gr)

2 white signal hand flares

-Dan buoy to OSR standards

-Watertight high powered spot light

Those are the big ticket items, that I need to race.  If you read through it, thank you.

Yes, I’m looking for a job here and studying French.

Well, now you all know what’s up!

And that stick in the last post isn’t attached to anything.

-Ryan

So today is a good day.  All six pieces of laminated foam floatation are bonded to the interior of the hull.  Here are four of them, in case anyone was interested in seeing them.

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There is a 3mm sheet of marine plywood laminated to the tops because they may be subjected to a lot of abuse since there will be a lot of gear placed on them while sailing.  The sides are just thin walls of fiberglass.

I have to do a bit of lamination on the inside still, but that should be pretty strait forward at this point.

I also have had some very good oysters here.  People are pretty outraged when I say that the oysters we have between Louisiana and Apalachicola, FL are the best in the world.  So I’ve been eating a lot of the local oysters to get to the bottom of this argument.  The one’s pictured below have made things a little less clear, and I’ll have to come home and check.  But these were pretty damn good.

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They used to live in front of a friend’s house here.  The nice thing is, when the tide goes out, you can walk out there and grab them.   If only there was a way to get Northern Gulf Coast oysters here so we could have some sort of contest.

Here I am writing this blog.  I’m including this picture because my room is so dark that without the flash, I didn’t know half of those things were in this room.  I mean, what’s that stick thing?  I’ll check after I’m done writing this.

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I’m glad the room is dark though, because dusk isn’t until after 11 pm here and dawn is only a handful of hours later.

Tomorrow I’ll finish with the foam installation and I’m meeting with an electronics guy named Olive who is a friend of a bunch of friends and the B&G guy for the Gitana team.  I hope my problems are really easy for him to figure out, because you know the guy has seen everything.

-R

So, what’s up?.?.?.  While I love being here in La Trinite, and am generally happy with “things”, not everything is peachy-rosy.  Some have been squishy.

What I didn’t cover:  My Gulf of Mexico crossing ended up being a good sea trial.  That is, I discovered a lot of problems.  The most obvious one occurred during the last ten hours of the trip which was upwind in 18-20+ knots.  The boat felt great, better than ever.  For the first time I was really enjoying sailing this boat upwind because she seemed to leap forward into the wind like she was meant to go there, which she’s not.  That’s all fine and dandy, but for the final 4 hours of sailing the mainsail track started coming off at the head of the first reef.  I was not too happy about it to say the least, but nursed the boat to Fort Myers beach, feathering the mainsail and pinching with a sea state that was flattening in the lee of the beach.

This happened in the same way the luff pulled out originally, a lumpy sea state and one reef in the main, except now, with the luff problem solved, the next guy in line is the track.  I was in a rush to pack the boat up and get her to Baltamore to ship so we didn’t do an in depth inspection of the rig before Europe.  Once in Belgium though, Jesse and I inspected the rig and found other places where the bond between track and mast was bad, and I have decided to replace the entire track instead of wasting my time and energy with this one.

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Finding a good solution in La Trinite wasn’t as easy as I though though because very few people use a D section mast here, so the Holt/Allen aluminum extrusion doesn’t quite fit properly.  After talking to several “giants” in the field of minis and maxie multihulls I was able to locate a rig guy who has an expensive carbon solution that he’s used on his brother’s mast for the past year with no problems.  So tomorrow I will go to Belz to do some dirty work so he can clearcoat the new track he’s put on.

Sea Trial problem #2:  My instruments don’t work.  Except for depth and voltage I have no good data coming from them, so I had to sail the whole time in a light and shifty breeze with an autopilot that only drives to compass.  It’s not a set up I would bother starting a solo race with.

ST problem #3:  Once at the Edison Sailing Center in Fort Myers I left the boat tied up with the instruments still on.  I do this often, for no really good reason.  When I came back to the boat the next day the autopilot had every conceivable alarm sounding and the ram was running back and forth sporadically.  I’m guessing the computer is fried.  I have no idea why it waited for me to get to the dock to do this, but I’m glad it waited.  I need to find an electronics guy here to help me solve both of the above problems.

Classe Mini Problem #1:  Cat 5 was not able to get my floatation sorted before I left, so I am having to do this here.  I’ve been at Charlie Capelle’s yard, Technologie Marine, where they build beautiful boats in any material you can imagine.  Charlie’s 40′ trimaran Acapella (http://www.acapellaocean.com/) is there too and it is flawless.  Totally gorgeous.  This boat has an amazing history, but that’s material for a book not a blog entry.  Anyway, he has opened his doors to me and lets me run around there using material etc… as if I know what I’m doing.  Thankfully I don’t consider myself a craftsman because among his projects my work would be embarrassing.   So I’m building 6 foam forms that fit together on port and starboard and will be laminated to the inside of my boat.  It’s a pain in the ass to do this after the boat is built, because normally this sort of structure goes in before the deck is attached.  It should only be two forms, but I can’t fit two forms through my hatch!

Class Mini Problem 2: I need to buy a new liferaft to be legal to the new rules.  They used to allow a modified version of the raft I have, but not any longer.

Class Mini Problem 3:  My deadline to finish my qualifier is the 30th of this month.  At this point I don’t have a working boat that is class legal.  The electronics are the biggest question mark because I have no idea what the problem is with them, and it may not be anything big at all.  But I wouldn’t know!

I can get an extension for the qualif, but that means I will likely miss the start of the English Mini Fastnet race which starts on the 5th of July.  Without that race I cannot qualify for the MT.  So the timing is as tight as it possibly could be and I’m still not in the water.

On top of those problems is the one that calls the most shots around here.  I’m pretty much out of money.  After paying to transport my boat by land in the U.S. and Europe and paying to have my mast track issue resolved and paying for the other half of my new batteries, there will be very little money left.  Basically I’ll have enough left to have the boat inspected by Classe Mini and enter a couple of races.  But there’s certainly not enough in my bank now to pay for a new raft, boat insurance for the Mini Transat, all the race entry fees,  and other safety equipment like flares and a survival suit.  That is my reality, and I am fully responsible for it.

I’m not giving up on the Transat qualifier, but unless I can resolve some big issues in a very short period of time and a sponsor steps in after I’ve qualified, I’m out of options.  I was supposed to do some fund raisers before I left the U.S., but just like the boat, I ran out of time to organize such events.

I hope I have not let anyone down who is reading this.  Things are not really so bad.

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I have a great place to stay (above: Myriam Marello’s apartment designed by Nigel Irens), a loner car, I’m surrounded by boats and people that we only read about in the States (see picture below), and if I don’t make the Mini Transat start there are still plenty of races that I can do to get some great coverage for my current in-kind sponsors.  Also the experience of training out here for the 2,600 mile Les Sables- Azores- Les Sables Mini race happening next year will improve my odds of placing very well.  So I’m just going to keep at it like I have this whole time and we are going to get the results we are all hoping for from Myrna.Blog# 567

Sorry for taking so long to get this in print, but for obvious reasons I’ve been putting it off.

Thanks again for reading.

-Ryan

Jesse and I put Myrna away this afternoon.  We pretty much drove strait to Belgium and back in one shot sharing driving napping duties.  It’s pretty amazing actually.  His little four cylinder diesel was able to tow my boat up all the hills and everything!  I would have never believed it unless I saw it.  We are in Lorient now heading back to pick up the car I borrowed from Kip’s very dear friend Arnaud.  Then it’s back to La Trinite for me to start putting Mrs. Minkoff back in order.  Looks like she made the trip with no problems.  Unfortunately little gnomes didn’t crawl all over the boat fixing stuff for me.  Guess that’s one myth about Belgium that is busted.

More later.

 

-R

Okay, I’m sorry I’ve been out of commission with updates.  It’s been hard to find wireless I can get onto with my computer.  Anyway, this place is great!  I’ll name drop later but everyone here has been great so far.  I have to run though because Jesse Rowse and I are about to head out to pick Myrna up in Zeebruge.  A quickey about La Trinite: It’s gorgeous and it’s pretty much a boat factory at the same time.  I’ll update more soon.

Louisiana oysters are still the best though (sorry Brittany)

-R

I’m in Boston today visiting with my friend Tifenn Judet de La Combe who has been helping me sort out some logistics in France from the French Library in Boston.  We are heading up to Maine today to visit with her Step Father Mike Birch, who is a legend in the world of solo racing, and one hell of a nice guy.  We will also see my friend and mentor Kip Stone who I worked for for a few years during his very successful campaigns on the beautiful Owen Clarke Open 50′ Artforms. 

It will be very good to relax with them and discuss the upcoming events in my life and campaign and catch up with the events in their lives.  They have been where I’m at many times (in fact Mike is building a boat for himself right now) and understand the stress and fatigue factors that I am experiencing at this point.  Honestly, and they may not know this yet, but I need them to help me get my head on strait and to try to help me remember that this is supposed to be fun.  To race and do well means first having a boat which functions perfectly so that it is simply an extension of the sailor’s every synapse,  and secondly it’s all about attitude.  In my case one may be directly tied to the other, but until Myrna is working completely I will not know.  That said I need to improve my attitude to get her to that point.  So I head North for council before I jump into the fire of preparing Myrna for the qualifier in France. 

Please excuse my lack of updates, but I just wanted a break from all things boat for a while. 

I’ll do an Ullman sail update before I leave for France on the fourth.

-Ryan

Well, she’s off to Europe.  Matt Scarpelli and I drove from Florida to Baltimore with Myrna and over the course of four days we managed to get the boat loaded on the Wallenius Wilhelmsen ship http://www.2wglobal.com/www/wep// .

BaltimorePPhoto by Beth Perry (she c0nsistently takes good photos).  Guy decorating boat: Matt

 Well actually Matt and Beth Perry managed to do it.  I was not allowed into the shipping area because I didn’t have the proper identification.  Matt also managed to prevent an 18 wheeler from taking my mast out while it was backing out of the loading area.  Big shock there.  Why wouldn’t that happen at this point?  Thankfully Matt smokes because otherwise he wouldn’t have caught it.  

More significantly we managed two trips to South of the Border http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_of_the_Border_(attraction)  in South Carolina, and had a great breakfast at Pedro’s diner.  South of the Border is a roadside sociological event, and I recommend anyone who is driving up or down I95 to visit.  It’s super bazaar.

Before leaving Fort Myers I received my new spinnaker in the mail.  Dave Bolyard overnighted it to me to make sure it fit, and it is a big improvement in both cloth weight and shape over my current spinnaker which is a cut down fractional runner from a 30′ sportboat.  This is a design straight from Dave Ullman and Bolyard and the team at Ullman Gulfcoast knocked it out very quickly just for a single hoist in Fort Myers before Myrna was packed up for France.  It’s an amazing group to be working with.

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Dave Ullman is busy designing the rest of the sails and I plan on spending the next week in the loft puting those together with Bolyard before leaving for Europe myself.  No rest for anyone here.

-R

Well, I’m made it to Fort Myers very early yesterday morning.  All up the trip across was about 440 miles, which took me three and a half days, a very slow pace.  I was becalmed on a daily basis and rarely saw wind over 10 knots.  I had to do a lot of sail changes and maneuvers to make it to Fort Myers without an engine.  

 I was hoping to make this qualifier a vacation and sleep a lot, but there is no way to do that when the wind is light and shifty because you simply won’t go anywhere and I have, like, these deadline things.  This means I will have to do my qualifier in France because I didn’t make the 1000 miles, which is just another set back.  Just add it to the list :)

It all started with the 70 mile trip to Ship Island off the coast of Gulfport, MS.  The trip out there was easy enough and I made a very nice discovery about the turboed Myrna that I had not anticipated.  On the beam reach north of Cat Island which is just west of ship, the breeze picked up to 15 plus knots and Myrna started planing flat out with just a jib and mainsail.  Flat and fast with all the water ballast and gear stacked.  She would never do that before and it’s exactly the reason I had Dave Bolyard build my flat screecher sail at the Ullman loft in Mandeville before the Bermuda 1-2.  Clark and I call it “the thing” because it’s the thing that the IMOCA open 60′s do so well with the apparent wind well forward of the beam, and we could only get Myrna to do it a 100 degrees true in 12-15 knots.  Now with the new larger sail plan and the carbon mast she does “the thing” with main/jib at about 80-90 degrees TWA, which is really exciting.  It’s not like the boat goes 15 knots at that angle, but she will now average above 8 knots which is two knots above hull speed and feels great.  

Here we are leaving Lake Pontchartrain.

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Also upon rounding Cat Island to sail upwind to round Ship Island the wind increased and I had to reef the mainsail, and discovered that her heavy air upwind speed has gone up a lot.  She feels like a rocket upwind in over 15 knots now and seems to just launch forward when before she would just punch through.  I used to look at the gps speeds fluctuater rapicly (because Garmin dampening is pretty bad) from around 5.7 – 6.2 knots upwind in breeze.  Now, with the same gps the speed fluctuates from 6 – 6.5 knots (sometimes up to 6.8 which I know is BS).  These are not good representations of real upwind speeds, but it does tell me that the average has gone up significantly and you can feel it easily from the helm.  What’s great about this is that I was only trying to improve her speed in light air when I made these modifications.  I’ll take it.

Here I am taking my mandatory picture in front of landmark for Classe Mini.  It was very wet and at this point and you can hardly see the fort on Ship Island in the background.  

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Here’s the not so good part.  Once I was outside of the Mississippi Sound and beating int some really short steep waves that were being compressed and stacked in between Cat and Ship Island, I noticed the mainsail luff peeling out at the mast.  This was with the first reef in and the peeling stopped at the top two battens where the battens were under a lot of compression.  Conversly the head of the sail is bein leveraged away from the mast by those battens as one applies leech tension.  So I spoke to Sam Vasques at Gulfport Yacht Club and sailed to the club under jib only to meet him.  He helped me put the boat away and gave me a couch to sleep on.  Then I borrowed my friend Jeremy Richmond’s Dad’s truck the next morning (it takes a village) and brought the sail to Dave Bolyard’s loft to switch out the bolt rope to a larger one.  Dave mentioned to me that he thought the bolt rope was too small, but I liked the way the sail went up and down and wanted to see what would happen.  Well now I know what he knew!  We play mental tug of war often and I’m getting used to him winning.  

So I get to the loft, drop the sail off, drive to NOLA to pick up some spectra luff tape from the North loft there then drive back to Mandeville and Mark (Oz) Oswald and I set about doing some surgery.  He and Julie Bolyard did the bolt rope which I made little bits or something small and tedious, and we cut the boltrope down at the head and attached two plastic slugs which we knew wouldn’t pull out since that is where the biggest aft loading is happening.  

The next day I left again and the big breeze had shut down.  I missed a really good window for sure.  I would like to annouce this now.  The Gulf of Mexico has officially shut down for the sweltering summer which approaches.  She takes a vacation like this every year and lies around getting fat and lazy, only to punctuate her behavior with a hurricaine or three.  It can be pretty aweful, but like a family member, we love her anyway.  Either way, I was off sailing in the Gulf of Mexico again.  The place where it all started for me so many years ago. 

I’ll continue with the rest of this tomorrow.

Here’s a picture Sam Vasques took while towing me out.  Part of the tow agreement was that I had to participate in their boat parade which was litterally the least I could do considering that Same came and got me at 11 pm two nights before.

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I stole this from Facebook.  He called the picture “BET and 32 0z.”   The back story there is that he picked me up and we grabbed some beers on the way to his house.  Sam and I sat around for a while watching cable.  At some point it occured to us how funny it is that a bunch of people thought I was bravely sailing alone into the Gulf of Mexico while I was actually laying on Sam’s couch, showered, drinking a big beer and watching a really dumb movie on Black Entertainment Television.  These things happen.

-R

The lack of wind..

The lack of wind..

Here is the OPC weather prediction center’s forecast for today. Painfully light winds if any. Hang in there Ryan!

Hi there Ryan is finally sailing and he left me his info. to update his blog – this could be dangerous! Here is the latest, on Thursday Ryan called to say that he was headed into Gulfport, Mississippi for a quick pit stop. There was a big breeze and Ryan’s main sail had started to come out of the mast track The bolt rope was too small a width in the windy conditions, luckily there was no damage to the main. Ryan was able to quickly swap out the bolt rope. On Friday he was back on the water continuing towards Florida and hopefully the wind will hold out to finish his 1,000nm journey before shipping Myrna Minkoff to Europe.

Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms. Well I’m sure Ryan would say that!

- Beth

Of  course by tonight I meant this morning.  The wind last night was gusting up to 20 knots straight down the Bayou Castine channel, and I didn’t feel like I could short tack out because it’s very narrow for a long way.  Nobody would have been around to get me out of the mud.  So I got some rest instead and am off to walk down to the boat.

Bye now.

-R

I’ll be checking in by cellphone at every cell range I can get to.  Beth Perry or Pat Kent will be updating the blog as I go.  All of my waypoints are near land, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be get through.  

Here are the legs.  

1. Ship Island light house to Tampa Bay ship channel.  

2. Tampa Bay to a light north of the Dry Tortugas.

3. Dry Tortugas to a light south of Apalachicola.

4. Aplachicola to Fort Myers.  

I have a bit of a treck to get to Ship Island and that’s why I’m leaving tonight.  

I’ll be in touch.

-Ryan

I’m getting ready to leave.  I’m hoping to go on Wednesday, but there is a lot of little stuff to do that could add up to prevent me from leaving that day.  I didn’t go to Baton Rouge today because I need a notarized bill of sale, and that should be here soon.  I’m packing stuff up and doing little odd jobs on the boat now.  Tomorrow I need to go to the Ullman loft and tweak the main and jib a bit before leaving and I also need to laminate some holes on the ballast tanks that are leaking. 

The leaky tanks are from a gian hole saw hole I had to cut out to get my hand in there to undo a nut for the old pushpits.  I tried to seal that hole the easy way, and that just didn’t work.  I hate water down below, so I am doing some lamination in the morning.  I had to get back there today with a grinder which was really nasty.  I have stuff down below so to keep the dust from making its way all around the boat I sprayed water all over the aft quarters to keep it nice and moist for the dust to stick to.  It seemed to work pretty well.  

I also had a visitor today.  A 6′-7′ alligator swam up the bayou and right past the boat.  Normally they are not so bold, and to be honest it looked like it was just out for a nice stroll and seemed to be smiling.  It was quite funny.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera.   

I’ve got to run to Slidell and put some stuff in storage.  I’ve been ready for this moment for a long time.  

-R

But you can never take today back!  So I ran some errands, and put a new tiller extension on the Columbia Sportswear sponsored canard.

rfor-blog-059and among many other little things I’ve been doing, I also re-nonskidded the foredeck, because it was only grippy when the deck was dry.  This only happens on minis when they are at the dock.  In almost every sailing situation, nothing is dry onboard a mini.

I also fit the solar panels.  These are amazing because they also tell one’s future if you stare into them long enough.  

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Of course they don’t do that, but they do let me fall asleep offshore which at least helps me manage my future a little bit better.  

Tomorrow I need to run to Baton Rouge to register my bateau for the Wallenius trip to Europe.  It should be utterly tedious and unrewarding.  Anyone who knows me knows I hate responsibility and the paper work that is involved.  

Bureaucracy is alive though.

 

-R

I’d like to introduce my newest sponsor.

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Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (www.walleniuslines.com) have come on board to ship my boat to Europe and not a minute to soon.  They were interested in my project, like the America’s Wetland message, and just wanted to be part of the team. 

A special thank you is in order to my agent Beth Perry from Sailing 360 Sponsorships (www.s360s.com) who brought my project in front of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics.  She’s worked tirelessly on helping me and is the most prominent touchstone for my project.  My goal is to make it pay off for her in the in the coming years.  

-Ryan

Well, mostly it’s smashed all over the deck…

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Love bugs!  They are nasty, and when the wind dies this time of year, they are on you.  The worst part about them is that they are very delicate and soft, so when you try to “shoo” them away they just smear on your arm or whatever.  By the end of my first solo trip on Myrna it was total carnage on deck because I had to do a bunch of sail changes and there’s now love bug mash all over the boat.

These were taken yesterday afternoon when I was delivering Myrna back from NOLA.  I left in a southerly breeze of about 10 knots and had the spinnaker up immediately to check the masthead bits.  We were moving at a steady 8 knots in totally flat water and in the little puffs coming off land we planed immediately at over 9 knots.  Myrna is accelerates more quickly than she used to and the bow pops up more readily than before. 

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The best part is the mast is totally stable now, so that anxiety is reduced drastically.

Here are the inhaulers in action in light air.  

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with love bugs all over the place.  They got much worse too!

The overlapping headsail and lightweight Dimension Polyant material makes Myrna much faster in light air.  I was also able to play with the mast rake and it didn’t totally eliminate the lee helm when the wind fell below 4 knots, but it was an improvement over the old set up.  It would have been deadly fast to have Myrna in this setup for the last Bermuda 1-2.  I feel justified in doing all the work I did, even if it took much longer than I was expecting.  

I’m now getting ready to do my solo qualifier and hope to leave next week for my 1000 miles.

Lot’s to do to prepare for the trip.  On the list are the charging system, a new batten system on the luff of the mainsail (see picture on post above) and a bunch of other tweaks that are a result of my stuborness!  

-R

P.S. It’s really great to be sailing again.

I’m just sitting in the bar room at Southern Yacht Club waiting for the wind to lay down a bit so I can start testing my autopilot and deliver the boat back to Mandeville.  Collin Ross and I sailed Myrna across the lake yesterday.  There are still some things to tune in the rig, but it is much much better.  I think we are in the clear for now.  It was an upwind port tack beat for 25 miles and Myrna is noticeably faster upwind than before and she points better as well.  The wind was blowing around 12-15 knots and we were fully ballasted up the whole way across with a significant Lake Pontchartrain chop.  The only time our boatspeed was below six knots we were pinching up to avoid tacking to get into New Orleans Municipal Marina.  

So Collin and I got in to NOLA and picked up Dave Bolyard, Clark Thompson and his son Phin.  Then we did a little Wednesday night race, and finally got some off the boat pics of us sailing.  We look like a bunch of refugees on a little boat like this, but it was a lot of fun.

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I was hoping to get some pictures that showed the whole sail plan, but there you go.  Phin just chills on the back porch and askes hillarious questions.

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More later.

-R

Follow the Rhum!

There is plenty Rhum race left even though, as I write this Frank Cammas is finishing and winning the first Route du Rhum open to the Giant class in over a decade.  His time of just over nine days isn’t a record, but the conditions weren’t close to what the ORMA fleet experienced in the 2006 event in which Lionel Lemonchois set a seemingly impossible record of 7 days and 17hours on a the then shorter Gitana 11.  However like Groupama 3, Cammas’ win is huge.  One needs to only see the vast number of maneuvers he has made in the last three hundred miles (http://routedurhum-labanquepostale.geovoile.com/2010/?lg=fr)  to see that he has worked his ass off for this win. 

Behind him several races are unfolding that are worth following.  Firstly the race between Coville and Joyon, two rivals who, as far as I know, have never faced off solo on the same course.  Their race has heated up in almost mythical ways.  The only way it could be hotter would be if Cammas hadn’t showed up with a bigger gun.  But between these two big red Irens trimarans we get to see a fascinating battle surface that has been around for years.  To sum it up Coville went north with Oman Air (now abandoned) and Joyon went south, between Groupama and Gitanna 11.  It was a huge split, and it’s the same split that has created drama in every transatlantic race to the islands ever.  For much of this event Coville led Joyon, but now, right at the very end, it looks like Joyon is going to be in front.  Of course they still need to get around the island of Guadeloupe to Point a Pitre, but I know where I’d put my money. 

In the IMOCA Class the split seems to have worked out the other way, with the lead guys having an almost Figaro style race in the North, and with underdog, Arnaud Boissieres and overdog Michel Desjoyeaux, racing next to each other in the south.  There is a fantastic race here between leader, and 2006 race winner, Roland Jourdain and Brit Air skipper Armel Le Cleac’h who is rubberbanding his distance to leader at every sched, and much farther south than Jourdain.  Jourdain has to get south to seal the deal.  The question is can he before Armel closes the gap between the race leader and Point a Pitre?  Also will the deep south play out last minute for Boissieres and Desjoyeaux? 

Split/Demolition Derby, disparate class race 5000 in the Multi 50 fleet!  There is too much going on here to reduce to a coherent paragraph, but essentially, it’s bad luck to lead the Multi 50 fleet.  Whoever is in the lead one mile from the finish will probably spontaneously combust, or a plane full of shore crew and race organizers will crash on them right at the finish line.  Either way, there is a great race unfolding up to that point.  Basically the three race favorites have all had problems while leading this class.  First Lemonchois, while opting for the northern route early in the race, had a halyard lock problem that put him out of contention as he headed back to Spain to fix it.  He managed to fix it and rejoined the race, but was well behind the two leading southern  boats Crepes Whaou!, and Actual.  Crepes had a comfortable lead on Actual, but after the bow FELL OFF! of his central hull he’s had to kind of slow down a bit.  Actual took the lead quickly, but then had central hull flooding that led to the overloading of the structure, or something like that, and he discovered cracks in his forward beams.  Basically he too is now nursing his boat to the finish with seamship, not racing, as the new agenda.  So the race is now being led by ex-Banque Populaire skipper Lalou Roucayrol on his self designed 50’ tri with Lemonchois on Prince de Bretagne, in hot pursuit on his very fast Irens design.  So, can Lalou hold off Lemonchois’ relentless attack on a faster boat?  They are both ORMA skippers, and with 1000 miles left, they have about 150 miles to volly back and forth before getting to Point a Pitre.  Watch this one.

Now, race of the centry, because the boats are so much slower, and there are so damn many of them: The Classe 40’s. 

600 miles separates the 42 remaining boats in this class, north to south.  At the Northern most position is my co-skipper for the GOR, Conrad Colman sparing with another GOR entry Marco Nannini.  Arguably Marco has a better name than both of us put together, but hopefully that won’t have much of an effect on the race.  At the extreme southern end, Vendee Globe hero and all round nice guy Pete Goss, who is banging the southern corner hard.  In between is the real meat of it though with Thomas Ruyant speeding away to the north, and Figaro ninja Nicolas Troussel leading the southern contingent.  What should be noted about Troussel is that besides winning the Figaro Solitaire twice, has also won the Transat Ag2r and Trophee BPE, both Figaro races ending in the islands from France.  So he knows how to get a production boat to the Caribbean quickly and is sailing a new Pogo 40’ for this event.  In between Ruyant and Troussel is Yvan Noblet who is doing a fantastic job of covering the middle.  It’s a difficult position to win from traditionally, but it’s the one with the most options at this point.  There is a fleury of activity behind them with boats fighting onboard issues and trying to stay in the race.  I’m closest to Conrad’s battle, and know he has been working very hard to fix his large spinnaker which has been out of commission for days now, and has kept him pinned out to the north much longer than he wanted.  If that’s what’s happening on the only boat I’m keeping tabs on, you know there is a whole world of shit going on within the remaining 40+ boats negotiating this very complicated course.  Plus, the longer you stay out there, the more stuff happens, and that fleet is barely halfway across the Atlantic!  So, will Nicolas Troussel close the door on the rest of the fleet as he has before, or can the cool and focused Thomas Ruyant hold him off to Guadeloupe while negotiating the more complicated Northern route? 

Finally, the traditionalists in the Rhum Class.  This is a much more personal class than what you see at the top of the fleet, and closer to what you see as the origins of this race.  It’s the only class where multihulls and monohulls race together, and you have the most variety amongst them.   There are three Walter Green trimarans up to 40’ including the only American, Etienne Giroire on ATN.inc and the immaculate and storied trimaran of Charlie Capelle, Acapella, easily the most beautiful boat in the entire fleet.  The Rhum category is also the new home for the now defunct Open 50’ class with three of these boats banging away within the top five.  This fleet is well mixed within the Class 40’ fleet, and interestingly, although some of them are faster boats they are well behind the leading Class 40’s.  It’s just the nature of having guys pushing each other in bigger fleets.  Some would call this the adventure class, but the truth is, whenever a boat leaves the dock singlehanded, no matter how professional the team or how expensive the boat, they are part of an adventure.  That is the endearing legacy of this race, and it always will be. 

So for those of you who aren’t already, tune in and enjoy the many layers of action this race has brought us for over thirty years:  www.routedurhum-labanquepostale.com 

This is history.

Excuse the absence, I’ve been on vacation in Louisiana, and it’s been really awesome.  But I won’t blog about that.

Instead, this:

When I decided to come to Europe with Myrna, just a couple of years ago, I was like all of these people:

After a few months of sailing and racing over there I’m like this dude:

Well, maybe not that bad, but it covers at least part of it.

Mostly that transition took place over the past several months, culminating in an Azores Race that had just the right conditions to reveal several time bombs hidden within my boat.  Some old, some new, all of which I am responsible for in some way.

Here’s a brief summary, I broke the mast three days before the start.  People were surprised how calm I was about it, and I didn’t really understand it myself.  It’s as if I was clear of the incident at the start.  Then 500 miles from the finish I lost my leeward rudder gudgeon after hitting something.  That left me with limited control under spinnaker and I had a particularly bad broach which left me with a broken companionway hatch.  These and a few other things were repaired in Horta, and the boat was ready again for the second leg, though the accumulation of damages was starting to sink in, and I began to worry more about finishing the race than competing.  I realized I wasn’t as clear of the mast incident as I thought.   Lo and behold, on the first night the hatch repair began falling apart, and by mid morning of day two, while sailing with a fractional spinnaker in big waves the running backstay tang laminated to the mast ripped off.  I still had about 1,100 miles to get to the finish at this point.  It’s an inline rig with the same fittings holding the rest of the mast up, so I doused the kite which now looked like a compound bow, and sailed north under full mainsail and winged out jib in big breeze, to get into lighter winds.  I was not able to jerry rig the runner without doing dodgy stuff to the existing terminals, so I sailed on towards the finish with the boat as it was.  I was fine on starboard tack, but when the wind went back to the north I had to sail with heavily reduced sail area to relieve the mast.  To get headstay tension on port I would double reef the main and put on loads of mainsheet tension along with lots of upper checkstay tension.  It seemed to stabilize the mast.  It was rainy and overcast to the point that my solar charge controller was showing zero solar activity in the middle of the day, and with more than 500 miles to the finish I ran out of batteries completely.  It was then I decided to head to Lorient where the boat was based instead of finish the race.

 I hand steered for the first day of no power.  I was really enjoying the lack of instruments.  You get so glued to watching those numbers that it detracts from the joy of sailing sometimes, and sailing without them was surprisingly pleasant.  The second day of no power was getting old, but there was enough solar activity to use the pilot for a couple hours that day, and that night I experimented with balancing the sails to make progress, though it wasn’t very fast.  The third day I was just excited to get to Lorient, and I steered happily the entire day motivated by many things, mostly that this was probably my last sail on the boat and the conditions were really nice in the bay with flat water and fast code five reaching on starboard tack.

 Finishing in Lorient at 2 AM was a private and lovely experience.  The wind was calm, the harbor was beautifully lit and there wasn’t a single person around.  I docked the boat, put on some relatively dry clothes, and walked to a payphone and called my family to let them know I was okay.  It was then that I discovered there was a bit of drama surrounding my detour.  Mostly that the Mini Class was really upset that I didn’t notify them that I was dropping out.  I had misunderstood how to use the beacon which, unlike the Transat becons, only had one shiney red button.  Apparently I was supposed to push it once if I was dropping out, and if I was in need of assistance I was supposed to push it every fifteen minutes, or every fifteen seconds for an undetermined amount of time.  I never got a straight answer on that sequence, but I thought that pressing the button equaled asking for assistance and I didn’t need assistance, so I never touched it.  Then I found out rumors had been spread that I intended to drop out from the start and that my fiancé/girlfriend/wife (depending on who told the story) was meeting me in Lorient.  I wish at least part of that was true.  So, Classe Mini decides that based on these rumors they would publish something suggesting almost as much.  I was surprised they would do that, but not mortified, because the mini fleet is a pretty small world, and after this year, I had no plans to rejoin the class and am working on another sailing project for 2011. 

That being said, the Azores race is a perfect race for preparing for the Mini Transat.  The guys who completed this race in preparation like Bertrand Delense, Xavier Macaire and Jorg Reichers are going to be so hard to beat next year, it’s not even worth talking about until the race ends.  Those guys did an amazing job in that race, and truly the whole Azores fleet has a leg up for next year.  Pretty much anything that you can break on this race broke.  Also it was a lot of fun getting to know these sailors over the last several months.

But for me it’s back to my roots on bigger boats.  I have missed them dearly over the last several years, and had to pleasure to sail with Conrad Colman (www.conradcolman.com) on the recently chartered 40 Degrees, an Owen Clarke Classe 40.  It’s their most recent design, and she’s proven to be very competitive against the newest generation of 40’s out there, proven by Conrad’s third place in the Happi Baie.  Conrad will be participating in this year’s Route du Rhum (www.routedurhum-labanquepostale.com) which starts at the end of October, and I’m going back to FR to help him prepare for the event, and hopefully act as a pressure valve for him so he can relax a little before the race.  It’s a huge event, and I’ve worked for guys before in Conrad’s position, so I know what he needs me to do.  I enjoy that work very much. 

Meanwhile Conrad and I are also looking for sponsorship to participate in the Global Ocean Race (www.globaloceanrace.com) which starts in one year.  It’s great to have a really solid product to offer a sponsor with a great co-skipper in Conrad, a competitive boat that is large enough to host corporate hospitality events and a venue that is truly international with stops in Spain, Cape Town, New Zealand, Uraguay, and the United States.  We are very excited about the event, and the boat is an absolute joy to sail.  Much more comfortable than the mini, more ergonomic, easier to maneuver and in the end it’s where I came from. 

40 Degrees:

I leave for France Next week to rejoin Conrad for his upcoming event. 

More from there.

-R

I get to update Ryan’s blog one more time before he takes over his own blog again. I enjoy writing in Ryan’s blog while he’s at sea, although Ryan is more humorous than I ;).

Couple of questions people have asked me are how do Mini sailors communicate when offshore?

Minis are equipped with a VHF with the ability to also hear air traffic overhead or within so many miles. Typically the VHF is only good for a limited range . They are also equipped with a SSB (single side band) which can receive transmissions based on certain frequencies that must be dialed in to receive incoming transmissions. The Classe does not use Satellite phones.

Ryan will update you on Leg 2 shortly, but below is a quick update.

Ryan arrived back in France early in the morning on Thursday 2 AM French time. He detoured to Lorient versus Les Sables after losing battery power from overcast skies limiting the charging of the batteries from solar power for days. Ryan hand steered for 3+ days. The port running backstay broke early in Leg 2 causing Ryan to head North to calmer seas to try to fix where he was becalmed for a while. With the port running backstay not working, a starboard tack was preferred to keep the mast upright.  That along with a few other technical difficulties caused Ryan to head back to his home base in Lorient to make repairs.

Ryan’s French fans sent him the following photo. They said they will be ready on the pontoons next time.

~ Beth

Portugal

Special thanks to the Portuguese Navy! for checking on Ryan’s safety.

Ryan had taken a Northern route on Leg 2 away from the fleet. Yesterday there was concern because Ryan’s boat slowed down considerably. Winds had lightened but later picked up and Ryan’s lack of boat speed at 2 knots caused considerable concern that Myrna or Ryan may have suffered damage or injury. Race organizers tried to contact Ryan by radio and could not.

The following update was posted on the Les Sable Les Acores race website:

With technical concern, that Ryan had not answered the calls of the direction of race, requiring of him to activate its beacon to announce that all went well on board. After having asked for the sailing ship White Hermine of divert itself on its position, the director decided to inform the MRCC of Bridged Delgada of the situation. The Portuguese Navy immediately sent a plane on zone which contacted the American skipper. Obviously, all goes well on board. The boat is not démâté (damaged) and is not travelled towards sands of Olonne. False alarm… It is once more necessary to note the effectiveness and the reaction speed of the MRCC of Bridged Delgada which already showed in other circumstances, the relevance of its action around the archipelago of the Azores.

The good news is that Ryan is safe and Mryna appears in one piece.  Ryan has since picked up some speed so I am sure Ryan is working to fix any mechanical issues that are hampering his speed.  We look forward to Ryan’s report as soon as available.

Currently Ryan is 44 0 31.80 N   18 043.08W  at 6.7 knots heading East. 

Special Thanks again to Classe Mini, the Vessel White Hermine and the Portuguese Navy for their help!!

U.S. Shore Team ~ Beth

 

Thanks to the photographer Chris Breschi http://www.ricochets17.com for the arrival photos in Horta…
Ryan’s Leg 1 Recap
I was going well, but I just broke more important stuff during the race. Old boats do that. I lost my port rudder 500 miles from the finish, and had to sail the rest of the way in slowly so that the windward rudder stayed in the water. It was starboard tack the whole way. I have an article for sure though. My last race in this boat, and I just keep breaking shit. However, I was aiming for 10th place, as tenth in this boat means I can win in a new boat, and I am sure I would have hit that mark before this happened. I still have one last leg, and I am not going to throttle back just because the boat doesn’t want to go fast. I think we did 250 miles in 24 hours leaving Finistere, and am trying to verify that.

Leg 2 starts today August 17th.

Don't Break ANYTHING!!

                                                                                                                                                             Ryan finishes Leg 1 of the Les Sables Les Acores Race today at 8:40 AM Horta time finishing 14th in 7 days 20 hours 53 minutes. Looking forward to Ryan’s report after he catches up on sleep.

Attached is the race tracking map with Ryan’s approach to the finish.

French photographer & US sailing supporter, Laurence Caille took these great shots today of Ryan leaving the canal in Les Sables. Will post more photos as we receive. Currently Ryan is in 12th position choosing a course farther North of the fleet heading to the South West.

That’s right boys and girls, it’s time for the Mini Class Azores Race, aka www.lessables-lesacores.com

The fleet is small this year with 38 boats, however most of the serious mini campaigner’s preparing for next year’s Mini Transat are participating, so the competition should be as good as it will get within the mini class. 

It’s a fascinating thing to see all of these little boats getting ready and sailors walking up and down the dock all day.  You can tell everyone is ready to go though, because seeing the same faces for days on end and saying bonjour, salut, hey, blah blah blah is getting old for all involved.  But what we all know is that we are all heading out on an ocean race, in tiny boats, and that no matter how much we try to sort our lives out at the dock, something is going to happen.  Joy, pain, fear, broken boats, broken spirits, hallucinations, you name it. The adventure element will never disappear from this kind of racing, and if there is one thing we all have in common it is empathy.    

 We go out there to race, but also to discover things that are impossible to find out without actually putting ourselves out there.  As I do this more it’s the thing that is most exciting about the sport. 

Here is a picture of Myrna representing SA in Les  Sables.  The last time this branding was here is was with Bruce on Ocean Planet, and the same supporters of his campaign have stepped up to help me here too.  It’s been really wonderful to have that support by extension.

Oh, and I broke my mast two days ago in the prologue race.  We had guests on board, and one of them accidently opened a runner clutch during a gybing in 17 knots of wind, just before I had the new runner on, and the mast fell forward and broke in two just below the deck.  That’s why there is no mast in this picture.

So that sounds really bad, however, after the mast broke it stayed up because I have lines below securing the mast fore/aft and there was enough compression from the runner I put on quickly and the halyards etc…  I managed to get the new, very big BD kite ( www.bd.com) in the boat safely and the boat head to wind with forestay and runners on tight.  We even managed a tack to crab off the coast a bit until a boat could come tow us in. 

Once at the dock we pulled the rig, laid it on two saw horses, and I simply tugged at the bottom and it came off cleanly!  It should be noted that Classe Mini had already arranged for a carbon guy to come look at the mast by the time I was at the dock.  They definitely want sailors in their events, despite much of the bureaucracy we complain about over coffee and on forums.   The sailors were all very supportive too, sharing ideas and experiences about how to fix the rig.  I wasn’t too nervous about getting it done because besides the lower bits everything was still intact.  Wind instruments, mast track, sails, rigging, all that stuff.  Luckily it managed not to fall overboard.  The guest was extremely apologetic and I have no hard feelings about it because it was an accident.  Besides, I had to focus on getting it back together, and this is it as it stands in the boat now: 

 One piece.  I had a good guy on the project.  He built a sleeve for the inside, scarfed the good parts of both tubes into the sleeve and then built it back up to the original laminate.  I am confident it will perform as new.  He’d done this many times before, and I’m not worried for some reason.

 I mean, I’m sure I’ve worked out all the bugs in my boat at this point.  What could possibly go wrong that hasn’t already!  It feels so good to have these difficulties behind me, now I can just focus on enjoying the race.  I also brought a whole volume of Garfield books to read on the way because the first leg looks so easy, and I find that cat’s sardonic nature so titillating.  That Garfield, will he ever change!

Wasn’t someone talking about a font for sarcasm?  Should be applied to the paragraph above.

We start Sunday afternoon.  The weather looks really nice for the first leg with a lot of reaching and running, and we are all excited to get off the docks here.  Follow our dots:  www.lessables-lesacores.com

Next stop, Horta.

-R

Not officially, but I got word through the tiny strand of grapes that is the mini world, that my qualif was accepted. 

So onwards and upwards.  I’m going to be wetsanding the orange paint that I just put on the keel.  I’m really excited for that, because I love wetsanding.  I also like falling down the stairs, spilling coffee and cleaning up broken glass.

When that’s done, the boat can go back in the water and I can start sorting my electronics.  It’s mainly calibration stuff.  Speaking of electronics, this occurred to me the other day.  I’ve been using 90 watts of IQ solar panels, Genasun charge controllers and Genasun LION batteries, and the electrical system has been amazing.  I’ve sailed for the last 3,000 miles with this system only, no backup, and my voltage has literally never dropped below 13.1 volts.  Pretty awesome products there. 

Later.

-R

I’m back.  Had a very easy qualifier.  Less wind than I wanted but easy none the less.  It seems like I slept the entire first two or three days, then kind of woke up when the wind got light and I had to do sail changes. 

 I used a Pogo 2 mainsail and a very small jib so as not to wreck my racing sails.  The P2 sail is about the size of mine reefed and the jib is also the size as my jib with one reef, so I didn’t have to reef either sail, even while reaching in 27 knots across the English Channel.  It was great!  I guess that’s why cruising  boats have such small sails.  It’s just more relaxing. 

Once I was back in the bay I set my course for Ile de Re, which is at La Rochelle, and I rounded the island in major thunder storms with cloud to cloud lightning that lit the sky like the sun and streched from one horizon to the other.  It was unpleasant to say the least, but also beautiful.  Very differant in scale to the storms we have on the Gulf Coast.  Ours are more explosive and more compact.  These squalls maxed out at 30 knots and I just took the sails down, because I was in restricted waters rounding the island, and waited a few minutes for them to pass.  Then just sailed on. 

I returned to Lorient eight days after leaving, and even though I was a little sad to be out there for the first couple days, upwind in breeze, I really enjoyed the trip overall.  I’m waiting to hear back about the qualif from Classe Mini to see if I’m accepted in the Azores Race or not.  Until then I’ll just carry on preparing.

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