Saturday 29 November 2008

Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2008 - 113 yachts entered

It's that time of year again and the CYCA launched the Rolex 2008 Sydney Hobart challenge this week. The following is the article written by Peter Campbell from their website magazine:

An elegant gaff-rigged cutter on which champagne corks are frequently heard to pop; a battered, steel-hulled cutter which has sailed among the icebergs of Antarctica; a stoutly-built, double-ended cutter now cruising the Caribbean; a sloop owned and skippered by a yachtsman who was to become Prime Minister of England; maxi yachts from Australia, America, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany and Denmark; a tiny half tonner from Tasmania with a rather suggestive insignia on its transom.

Then there’s been a state-of-the-art ocean racer developed from America’s Cup technology, a one-off little sloop from an Aussie designer, the latest design for an IMS ocean racer, and a round-the-world 60-footer, the maximum 30m length Reichel/Pugh maxi and the classic Sparkman & Stephens 47 winning the Tattersalls Cup for the third time.What do these yachts of widely varying age, size, shape, construction and rig have in common?
They have all achieved a place in Australian and international yachting history by taking line honours or winning overall handicap honours on corrected time in Australia’s most famous ocean race, the annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Now in its 64th year, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race ranks in world status with the Rolex Fastnet Race in England and the Newport to Bermuda Race in the USA.

The yachts mentioned above – Nerida, Solo, Freya, Morning Cloud, Kialoa, New Zealand Endeavour (called Tasmania for the 50th Sydney to Hobart in 1994), Ragamuffin, Morning Glory, Screw Loose, Brindabella, Kialio, Ondine and Sayonara, Terra Firma, AFR Midnight Rambler, Yendys, Nokia, Wild Oats XI (above)and Love & War are just a few of the great ocean racing yachts whose names are inscribed on the Sydney Hobart Honour Roll at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s clubhouse at Rushcutters Bay in Sydney.The great race south, at 628 nautical miles, starts from Sydney Harbour at 1pm Boxing Day.

Over the past 63 years, the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has become an icon of Australia’s summer sport, ranking in public interest with such national events as the Melbourne Cup horse race, the Davis Cup tennis and the cricket tests between Australia and England.

No yachting event in the world attracts such huge media coverage – except, of course, the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race – than does the start on Sydney Harbour. And they only happen every four or five years.

Article courtesy Peter Campbell and CYCA
Start image courtesy Carlo Borlenghi
Other images courtesy CYCA
You can catch up with the latest on the official Rolex Sydney Hobart 2008 race on their website

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

You can read more about cruiser racing in 'Port of Refuge' Va' Vau, Tonga in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana', downloadable from my website

Monday 24 November 2008

FOB Light Weight Anchors for Sailboats

We recently ran a blog all about testing various anchors on the market. It was a very thorough test of fourteen anchors and can be reviewed on

However, in the meantime, it has been pointed out to me that an anchor that is quite widely used but doesn't get much wattage are the French made FOB light weight and THP anchors. So, under the heading of balance, I thought it only fair that we review this lightweight anchor which is along similar lines to the fortress lightweight aluminium, but with the addition of some French flair.

Go to their website and check out what the manufacturers have to say and then you can Google 'Anchors Group Test' and 'FOB Anchor' for additional testing data and results.

As you would expect, the results are many and varied with as many opinions as to which anchors set well, re-set and hold. Suffice to say that the weather and sea conditions on the day, and the type of bottom being anchored into, figure largely on the success of the operation.

It could also be added that the skills of the anchoring crew play a substantial part in the success or otherwise of this sometimes traumatic exercise!

The best endorsement I have come across for the FOB anchor is an article in the October 2008 issue of Practical Boat Owner. It relates a tale of woe in Greece whereby a yacht attempting to reset anchor in a crowded anchorage without lifting properly, drags over several other boats' anchor chains, lifting them out in the process, with the subsequent mess all drifting down onto the authors' vessel. His FOB held them all, in a fresh afternoon breeze until the situation could be brought under control along with severe beration leveled at the perpetrator.

The article is written by Richard Hare and headed 'Holding Fast' (not available online as yet), and I quote, '..........The FOB earned its spurs in my book, by preventing what could have been an awful disaster, and retained them for the following three years as well'.

Images reproduced courtesy FOB Anchors and article quote courtesy Richard Hare.

You can read more about anchoring techniques and adventures in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana', downloadable from my website

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Sea Anchors, Drogues, Brakes for Sailboats

In really extreme weather and large following seas, when a yachtsman wants to slow his boat down, some kind of sea anchor can be beneficial in achieving this.

The concern is that in very large following seas a boat, even under bare poles can be travelling so fast down the face of a wave that it can dig its bow in at the bottom of the trough and pitchpole, or, broach and roll.

Either of these possibilities are to be avoided at all costs - the ensueing damage, or even possible tragic consequences are not worth contemplating. The other point is that these circumstances, if to happen at all, will most likely be far offshore, where the likelihood of assistance from anywhere would be very slim indeed. So having some method of slowing the boat down is good insurance.

There are many products on the market that are available to cruisers and you can, and no doubt will have endless discussions with other sailors the pros and cons of the various types - as you know, sailors can discuss the shape of a knot on the end of a rope for hours!

Here is one product which stands up well and is widely carried in yachts cruising the oceans of our planet:

'Seabrake is a variable drag drogue that was invented by Captain Abernathy after working for many years in the rough waters of Bass Straight that fronts on to the famous Southern Ocean. The Seabrake’s unique patented concept of more speed equals more drag has been used successfully used by sailors around the world to control broaching or surfing and is accepted by Yachting Australia for use as emergency steering.
Burke Marine is Australias' market leader for wet weather gear, performance footwear, boating accessories, safety equipment and Personal Floatation Devices.

A family owned business established over 37 years ago, Burke has dominated the Australian and New Zealand market for many years. The iconic brand has built its reputation on great value products that always perform to the highest standard and therefore welcome Seabrake as a permanent part of the Burke Marine brand portfolio.'

For further information, visit their website
Extract courtesy Voiles News.

Images courtesy Burke Marine
Google up ' sea brakes, drogues, sea anchors' for a further in depth article.

Personally, I never carried one on my voyage, working on the premise that I had enough rope and other junk, including an old storm sail, that I could tow behind the boat which would slow her down sufficiently(never tested).

Nonetheless, carrying a good drogue is good insurance and if you have sufficient stowage, the modest investment of $300-400 is best seamanship practice.

You can read more about extreme weather sailing in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website