Friday, December 4, 2009

Talk at CYC Seattle on January 22

Looks like Craig Horsfield and I will be doing a talk at CYC Seattle on Friday January 22. I will post more details on time and such as they are nailed down.
Hope to see many of you there!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

reprint from SA

Here is the article I wrote for Sailing Anarchy while I was in Brazil: Again thank you to everyone!!!

The Leg 2 prizegiving was a couple of nights ago so all that really remains is to finish getting the boat apart to be shipped back to France. It is somewhat hard to believe it has already been 7 days since I finished, the days have been a complete whirlwind; getting caught up on sleep, greeting friends who were finishing the race, trying to see a bit of Salvador, getting the boat cleaned up and taken apart and eating a fair bit. I did not really expect how fatigued I would be from the race as I found my attention span was completely wrecked and only now seems to be getting close to normal. Some of this could be attributed to the weight I lost, am not sure how much but I know that most of my clothes now just hang on me.

The entire Mini/ TransAt experience has been absolutely amazing and I am so happy that that I took the leap and did it. As I basically jumped in with both feet and made it happen there have been a number of surprises along the way, both good and not so good. I did not expect how friendly almost everyone in the fleet would be, that was truly a wonderful thing. I have made some new friends that I know I will have forever. The other big surprise came during leg 2 and unfortunately was not quite as good. It was the level of weather information collaboration that some competitors felt was acceptable. Coming to the south side of the Doldrums, there were some competitors who I could hear on the radio both exchanging weather data from where they were and collaborating on figuring out what it all meant.

After the doldrums, I pushed hard to catch back up to the people who had passed me and I was partially successful with this. The sailing was quite pleasant but not hugely exciting as it was mostly fetching or slight cracked off jib reaching on port. We all slowly got lifted as we approached the NE corner of Brazil with Fernando do Nororonh (sp) needing to be left to starboard. The major tactical question was how close to get to the shore as it allowed a freer sailing angle and less distance sailed but also was potentially lighter winds. I opted for between 45 and 60 miles off here which increased to 80 after we went back to spinnakers when the wind freed. This was on the second to last night which was overcast with very little moon and winds up into the mid 20s. The top number I saw on the knotmeter was 15.89 but it could have been higher as I had the averaging up fairly high to smooth out the pilot responses.

The final puzzle of the race was transitioning from the trade winds offshore into the land breeze. I did not play this quite as well as I could have since I ms-interpreted what was going on and sagged south along the transition line instead of punching straight through it. Adding to the challenge was that my batteries had not charged fully during the day and I was starting to get low voltage alarms from various instruments. Finally everything except the masthead tri-color shut down so I reverted to using my handheld GPS for the final 5 hours of the race. Not having a depth sounder was really the only thing I had wished I had since in the dark it was difficult to really tell how close to the beach I was getting and there were some offshore rocks to be avoided.

Picking out the finish line in the pre-dawn light with the city lights was also a little challenge but not too severe of one. Once across the line it was sails down and pick up the very slow tow into the harbor. Waiting for me on the dock was a cold beverage, some great fresh fruit, my girlfriend who I had not seen in two months and some of my other competitors. The picture that was in SA was about 4 minutes after I stepped onto the dock. A minute or so later I was in the water of the harbor along with a bunch of other folks. This was probably a good thing since I doubt I smelled very well, I do know that the coffee I was drinking the last night was coming out of my skin. Note to self: 10 spoonfuls of instant espresso might be too much in 16 ounces of water.

Would I consider doing this all again, absolutely!!! It was not easy or inexpensive but in the end I have learned so much about myself and hopefully become a better sailor too. In that I went from complete mini novice to TransAt veteran in less than six months in a little amazing for me to ponder but such is the way the program played out. Being the top American in the race is a great added bonus but not something I had even remotely thought about as a goal. With more time in the boat I likely could have moved up some places in the rankings.

To get to this point has been a huge effort and there have been a lot of folks who have helped me make this happen and I need to recognize them. So, in no particular order, the folks I want to thank are:
-my family, especially my sister and her family for helping out with my house and mail while I was gone.
-all the friends who gave me rides to and from the airport, not having to deal with shuttles was really a great bonus.
-Tom Milne and all the people at Remote Medical ( They did my medical kit and provided me with some great first aid training. Fortunately none of which I needed to put to use but it was still great to have.
-Carl Sutter and everyone at Fisheries Supply ( for helping out with some equipment and always wanting to hear about how things were going.
-Jonathan McKee for almost too much to list. He was always available to answer my questions and provide advice that I know helped me avoid a number of missteps along the way.
-Sylvain Pontu at Demi-Cle in Locmiquelic ( for looking after my boat in France and helping me make sure I had all the required equipment on the boat.
-Isabelle and Alexi at Grand Pavois for being willing to take the time to explain things in English when I did not understand the French and being sure I had answers to all my questions.
-Anabelle and Sandrine at Classe Mini ( for truly making me feel a part of the mini family from the very start. Anabelle also helped with translating weather and race briefings at events which was incredibly helpful.
-Probably the biggest thank you needs to go to Kevin McMeel. Kevin did weather forecasts for me for both legs and they were amazing. Easy to understand even in a heavily fatigued daze and very accurate. On leg 2, Kevin had recommended going fairly far East and close to the African coast between the Canaries and the Cape Verde Islands, I started this way but ultimately chickened out and this was likely my biggest tactical blunder. I was worried the shift would continue to the East and not provide an escape, ultimately the shift came and it would have worked out just the way it was forecast.
-In addition to Kevin, I was getting weather info from Ken Campbell and the folks at Commanders Weather ( They did a great job as well and as both sets of information usually agreed it made things a bit simpler for me.
-Scot and Clean at SA for their support, kind words and being the best source of information on the TransAt for readers in North America.
-Last but by no means least is my girlfriend, April. She has helped me in some many ways it is difficult to imagine I could have made this all happen without her.

So what´s next? The boat is for sale and presently the plan is for it to go back to Lorient and be put up for the winter. I have spoken to a few folks who are interested in the boat but as yet, no one has decided they want to buy it. If it does not sell by next season, I will race the boat. I head home to Seattle in a few days and am really looking forward to being home for a while and will get back to work on other people´s boats. Many of my customers, in addition to sending me notes of congratulations, have also asked me to contact them when I am home so I think my job list will get filled quickly. Thank you to all of them for that loyalty!!

I did brielfy entertain thoughts of bringing my boat to the US but at present I will learn more racing it in France, also PHRF does not really know what to do with a Mini so racing it in that system is rather tough. Hopefully the mini fleets in North America will continue to grow and reach sizes large enough to host dedicated mini events. I want to do what I can to help support Mini/shorthanded racing in North America and hope that it does continue to grow.

I think North American sailors can continue to improve racing Minis in Europe but it will take a lot of work and some fundamental mind set changes. One of the biggest will be a change of attitude and to accept that racing in Europe we are guests, that things are done differently and that the system is what it is.Also looking beyond petty rivalries will be a big step, the sailors from countries work together to train, and work on their boats. The Italians and the Spanish were both very good about this. For me, I hope to be in La Rochelle in 2011 at least as a spectator and possibly as a competitor.

Random pics

I am now home in Seattle and am happy to be here. I don't ski but the it is comforting that the ski areas are opening and the weather is nice a cool. About 40 degrees F cooler than it was in Salvador. I am in the process of getting all my notes and my log book transformed into a chronology of the entire TransAt. I hope to have this done in the next week or so.
All taken apart and ready to go on the ship or onto the next adventure.

On the beach in Salvador.

Very ominous cloud while in the doldrums
Some of the dolphins who visited me, these were between the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands.

It sometimes rains pretty hard in the doldrums

The elevator between the upper and lower city in Salvador

Looking down on the fleet and the harbor in Salvador from next to the elevator
The combination meat store/gas station next to the Yacht Club in Salvador

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mini Anarchy

Some interesting links and stories to check out:

Sailing Anarchy has been a big supporter of Mini Anarchy and has a Ocean Racing Forum about the Mini Transat. The newest story on the frontpage is called Mini Moves.

For pictures from the Mini 650 start at La Rochelle from Lyn Hines Marine Marketing click here.

Interviews with Chris Tutmark and other racers at Funchal as well as video of the start from La Rochelle from from Duff at YachtPals are at: Mini Transat – Sailing 4,200 Miles Solo on 21' Boats

Official updates and photos at the Transat 650 site and the official tracker.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Stage 2 Starts from Funchal

Mini Anarchy has begun the second stage to the finish in Brazil. Chris Tutmark and the other Mini Transat racers will be facing some challenging weather conditions in the days ahead.

Live tracking available and weather descriptions at Transat Site
or click here for tracker

Saturday, September 26, 2009

some pics

Sailing out of La Rochelle for the start

Almost to Madeira, looking at Porto Santo with one of the Spanish Boats

Off the coast of Portugal

A couple of the many, many dolphins that visited me during leg one

One of the sunrises, it looked a bit better in person

One of the escort boats who took some pics of me

Almost 6 knots of boatspeed in 7 knots of wind, not bad for a 21´ boat

A couple of days before the finish, I think I spent almost the entire day on Port, getting south.

I have a few others on my phone which I will attempt to get posted as well.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday in Funchal

Greetings from sunny and rather warm Funchal. It is somewhat hard to believe I have already been here four days and the leg two start is just over a week away. Fortunately, my work list is getting shorter every day and the big items are already checked off. The two biggest are the small bit of damage to my jib which I have repaired and the non-functional fuekl cell. For both I am still waiting for parts which are to arrive on Monday, a new top batten for the jib and a complete replacement fuel cell. The replacement fuel cell is the same one I used as a service loaner earlier in the season and it worked flawlessly. My suspicion is that for 2009 the manufacturer has changed some items internally which are proving to be somewhat unreliable since the loaner is a 2008 unit and I have now had two 2009 units fail completely. I certainly hope they can sort out the issues since the technology is pretty cool.
 The remaining items on the to-do list are things I want to take care of but would not keep me from sailing if they did not get done. All in all a nice feeling. It was similar in La Rochelle where I had a bit of a list but things were generally well in hand. Evidently this seemed outwardly obvious since another American who was there helping folks out never once asked if I needed any help and was instead borrowing things from me to help out others.
I do need to give a big bit of recognition to Sailing Anarchy ( for a number of reaons; they are helping out my program directly, they have been one of the greatest sources of news of the TransAt for north american readers and they helped get the word out to help Craig Horsfield who is racing as a South African but lives in the Seattle area. He likely hit a whale or shark off Portugal and tore out one of his rudder fittings along with opening up the hull/transom seam. He put in to Portugal for emergency repairs and made it here a couple of days ago. Repairs are now well underway.
I have snapped a few pics and will try to get them posted soon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mini Anarchy in Funchal

As Chris prepares for the next stage of the Mini Transat, he continues to be in the media. There is a new article today in Sailing Anarchy and there is a story about Chris Tutmark and Craig Horsfield's Mini Transat Campaign in Three Sheets.

Chris Tutmark heading out to race start.
Photo courtesy Thomas Schmidt.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tutmark Finishes First Stage

Mini Anarchy arrived at Funchal to finish the first stage of the Mini Transat at:
13:08:02 September 21, 2009!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mini Anarchy Nearing Funchal

Live tracking available at Transat Site then click
on Suivi Cartographic
or click here to go directly to tracker

Chris Tutmark heading out to race start.
Photo courtesy Thomas Schmidt.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

MiniAnarchy at Lisbonne

Live tracking available at Transat Site then click
on Suivi Cartographic
or click here to go directly to tracker

Chris Tutmark heading out to race start.
Photo courtesy Thomas Schmidt.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The fleet at Cape Finisterre

Live tracking available at Transat Site then click
on Suivi Cartographic
or click here to go directly to tracker

Chris's video interview with
Duff from YachtPals is now up at:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

MiniTransat Tracker

Live tracking available at Transat Site then click on Suivi Cartographic

Thursday, September 10, 2009

in the news

Today is Friday and I am feeling pretty good about where things are; need to still get some fresh food and the bottles of optional water from the store, sort out the bag going to Funchal and the one going back to Seattle.
Have had some good chats with folks in the media and my supporters/sponsors. One was with Tom Milne of Remote Medical in Seattle. Our chat is posted on their blog page: I also did a video interview with Duff from YachtPals ( Lastly but certainly not least I had a very good chat with Lin Hines which he is incorporating into a story both on his page: and on Sailing Anarchy:
And probably my biggest news of the week is that Sailing Anarchy is going to be helping out my program for the TransAt. I am right now working on getting some stickers made up here in La Rochelle which might be a little challenging but I am optimistic.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Am here in La Rochelle getting the final details done before the TransAt starts in only 8 days. Things are going well, my list isn't that long but still some really important items on it. Today I have my security (safety) checks for the boat which should go just fine. Yesterday I got my survival container inspected, my medical kit dropped off for inspection and my race flags, banners and sail stickers picked up. Also got my boom and bow sprit re-installed as they were off from the road trip from Lorient.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

post on the TransAt site

Here's a post from the TransAt site, as some of it was translated from English to French and back to English it got a bit rough but still a nice bit on Jesse and me

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back in France

Greetings from rainy and grey Locmiquelic.
I arrived yesterday from Seattle which is just ending a major heatwave for the area. The weather here is not terribly cold but grey, with occaisional rain and so-so humidity. I will be here two weeks doing some final training before the TransAt and further refining some things on the boat.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Beyond the TransAt

A number of people have started to ask what my plans will be beyond the TransAt. At present I am not fully sure, I do know I very much enjoy the solo sailing and will look to do some more of it and probably some doublehanded stuff too.
USA 724 is presently for sale. The buyer can take delivery either in Brazil immediately after the TransAt or once the boat arrives back in France. I do not plan to bring the boat to the US.

I almost forgot...

Classe Mini sent me a letter while I was at Whidbey Island Race Week to let me know that my Qualifier had been accepted; some very good news.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Almost there

I had originally planned to be in France today but am still here in Seattle, not that being in Seattle in July is a bad thing. My lawn is a beautiful tan color, the boysenberries are all ripe, the days are long and it is supposed to be in the 90s the coming week.
I will be heading back to France next Sunday for a final two weeks of training before the boat goes to La Rochelle. I have really enjoyed being home but also have some Mini withdrawal going on too. Two weeks ago I sailed Whidbey Island Race Week on Brad and Gordy Cole's Melges 32. This is the same boat I have sailed on 3 of the last 4 Whidbey's and it is always a good time. This year we had a pretty good regatta with some rough races on Wednesday being the only thing that kept us away from a trophy for the week. We sailed 12 races over 4 days as Monday was a bust with no wind and although I did hear some grumbling from some folks about being tired from sailing 4 races on Tuesday I hope the organizers stick with this plan since I think people come to a regatta to sail more than to punish their livers although some folks seem to do both with equal vigor. In our class we had a J125, a 1D35 and a Melges 30 as the top three. Again I want to thank the crew of Nemsis, the Melges 30, for making the trek from San Diego.
As I have been gone most of the spring sailing season in the NW, many folks wanted to hear about my adventures in France which was nice. Of a bigger surprise were the number of folks who expressed interest in helping me out with the program. This was not something I expected at all.
With that in mind, if anyone reading this has a sponsor idea or wants to help my campaign out please contact me. The costs of the campaign have been pretty close to my expectations but it is still a big chunk of change and the help would be hugely appreciated. With the prevalence of companies in Europe using sailboats as marketing tools, it is somewhat baffling that American companies do not want to do the same. The only restrictions are that is cannot be alcohol, tobacco or something off color. For individuals who are interested in helping me out, I have a PayPal account and am working to get this linked to this blog page.
As for what's coming up, I head back next week for two weeks of training and then the boat will come out of the water to get the foils and hull section painted flouro orange. I will come home for a couple of weeks while this is done and then back to La Rochelle by September 4 for the pre-race inspections and other obligations. The TransAt is scheduled to start on Sunday Sept. 13 so it is just over 7 weeks away which I know will fly by.
On that note, I need to get back to making my house look slightly less abandoned that it has in my absence.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

pics 020709

Here are a bunch of pics I snapped during trip number 2 to France:

Leaving Douarnenez just after sunrise heading back to Locmiquelic after my Qualifier

Sunrise in Douarnenez

Pointe du Raz, I had about 2.5 knots of current going with me here

Wolf Rock on the way north during my Qualif.
Re island bridge, during my Qualifier.
North end of Re Island

Connigbeg Buoy, north of Cork, Ireland

Leaving Douarnenez on my Qualifier
Sunset near Penmarc'h during the MAP, the boat in the center of the pic is Jesse Rowse, another American

My very salty boots after the Qualifier

Another shot of Wolf Rock

Sunrise the morning of the MAP start in Douarnenez

The national flags of the competitors in the MAP in front of the Winches Club in Douarnenez

The fleet before the MAP

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

where's the time gone?

It's hard to believe my last post was 12 days ago but I guess being on a mini for 9 straight days will skew ones perspective.
Overall the Qualifier went really well and without much in the way of drama. A couple of little things had to get fixed which if they had not might have caused bigger problems done the line but that was not the case. Also had a few wind shifts/weather developments go in unfavorable directions as it seems I spent a majority of the time going upwind. In my log I kept track of the true wind direction along with heading, true wind angle and wind velocity so I will be able to go back and see what percentage was upwind. That said, I do know it was entirely upwind from the mouth of the bay at La Rochelle, out to Rochebonne and then all the way to the Raz.
For anyone who has not seen the Raz at full force it is an impressive place. It's the next big point south of Brest and to the west is about 15 miles of shoals and rocks so the tide stacks up pretty substantially there.
The three times I have sailed through there the tide was not running "very" hard and I had between two and three knots of current.
Anyway, enough about the Raz. I am now back in Locmiquelic, arrived early this morning from Douarnenez after a slow but relatively pleasant 80 mile sail. The only real unpleasant parts were the flies and whether the fishing boat that lit me up with his spotlight between the Glenans Island group and Groix Island was only doing so to get a good bead on me to run me down. I am hoping it was my Active Echo was lighting up his radar like I was a big target and he was trying to sort out what was causing such a big return.
So, now I have a few things to get together and make sure my paperwork for my Qualifier is complete and get that turned in. I should be able to do that tomorrow so that will be another checked off item. Assuming the Qualifier gets approved, I will be fully in the TransAt.
So what's next? I need to get the rudders, keel and a panel of the hull painted safety orange, so they can find me if the boat is upside down. No joke, that is truly the reason. I have spoken with some folks about a training session in Lorient in August instead of the Transgascogne. I want ot do a few more tweaks to the rigging systems, replace a few lines that are not performing as I want them to, and some work on the sails. Also some additional small things to do on the electrical and electronics side of things including my SSB antenna. All very crucial things which I will need to stay ahead of so they do not pile up at the end.
With that said, I am going to sign off here to upload some sail pictures and take care of these items. I have some pics from Douarnenez and others too, I'll try to post them soon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

1000 mile Qualif.

Am here in the Winches Club getting the last of the weather updates and sending off a few last minute emails. I will be leaving for my Qualifier shortly. For the trip, I have borrowed a SPOT Tracker and hopefully my sister will be able to post updates on my progress.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hoods and Reefs

It is Monday morning and it is raining rather hard here in Douarnenez. It woke me up a few times over the night but it looks like the sky to the west is lighter so we may have a break in the rain for a while.
I have pretty much recovered from the MAP. The race went pretty well although the forecast data I had was essentially completely off from what really occurred.
The race started with a ESE wind in the bay and getting out of the bay proved to be a little challenging. There was the shore breeze or S-SE and a competing sea breeze of N. I stayed in the shore breeze and this payed off pretty well as I was in the top group getting to the Raz.
The leg to Penmarc'h was partially upwind and then the North wind arrived. I was able to get around the buoys there just as the wind was dropping and the tide was building so this was likely a bit of a gate for the boats behind. The late night was a bit of a struggle as there was not much wind and the tide was not favorable.
As the sun came up on day 2 it was upwind to get around Groix. I do not think I did a very good job here as many boats worked hard to the NE and this seemed the better option. Once around Groix it was still upwind to Birvideaux as the wind had gone a bit more right.
Once around Birvideaux, I worked low to the south shore of Groix and this seemed to work well as there was a shift to the right came during the early part of the night which allowed me to get back to center heading to Penmarc'h. During the night there was a fair bit of rain and large shifts which made for a difficult night.
Once aaround Penmarc'h it was a beat to get around Chaussee de Sein. After looking at the current charts in the early morning I decided to work along the shore before a long starboard out to the buoy. The risk was that the breeze would go left and leave me beating more. As it turned out this was a good move and I was able to pass many boats that were further offshore. Once around the Chaussee de Sein, it was a long port tack fetch to the next buoy. Here was a fair bit of wind, I saw 26 knots of True wind for an hour or so with tide against the wind. I has 2 reefs in the main and one reef in the Solent which felt about right.
The next leg was a port jibe run at about 135 degrees. I put up my code 5 spinnaker but should have used the medium. Once around the last buoy it was a 100 degree reach which was great with the gennaker. I was having a great sail here with surfs over 10 knots and passed a couple of boats before the finish.
I finished up 20th in Proto and 33rd boat to finish. If I had been racing in the Series class which is my hope for the TransAt, I would have been 13th which is a result I am happy with.
I have a few things to work on the on the boat but overall the boat came through the race very, very well. The only item I broke was one on my water bottles that fell off the shelf and got punctured. This leaked about 4 liters of water into the boat which was not much.
I am going to get a look at the weather models but am hoping to leave for my Qualif. on Wednesday or Thursday.
I took a (hopefully) nice pic of the sunset on the first night of the MAP, I will try to get it posted later today.
The one thing that I think I will really take away from this race was how much I used the reefs in the sails and how much I used my hood on my smock. For most of the sailing I have done, reef points are something that the rules required but rarely if ever got used. This is not the case in the mini. The same could be said about hoods, I use it alot. However the reason I generally do not like them for crewed sailing does not apply to solo sailing and that is being able to hear the other folks on the boat.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

From Douarnenez

I am sitting here in the Winches Club in Douarnenez, on the map a little bit south of Brest. The weather is quite nice, in the 80s the last few days.

Tomorrow the MAP starts which is a 220 mile race along the coast. The present forecast does not show much in the way of wind until late on Saturday.

I had a nice delivery up here from Locmiquelic on Sunday, arriving early Monday morning as the wind was rather light. The pic was taken at sunset just south of the Pointe du Raz. I just made through the channel here as the tides run exceptionally strong here. For the Northwesterners, very similar to Race Rocks but possibly a little stronger. When I went through it was the beginning of the flood tide and I had 3 knots against me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Decompressing and reflecting

I am now back in Seattle and getting adjusted to this time zone.
Overall the last six weeks were very productive despite the original plan going out the window along with a few revisions too. I am somewhat disappointed with my race results but I am been able to learn some valuable things about both myself and the boat which will help down the road.
The to-do list on the boat is fairly short; sort out the VHF reception issue, modify the solar panel mounts and some sail recuts. The only item I broke was a single Harken 29mm block for the spinnaker tweaker, it likely hooked a lifeline and split so no fault of the block.
I head back to France the end of the month for the MAP and then to do my 1000 Mile qualifier. The qualifier has to be done before June 30 so things are starting to get a little close here but not too critical.
Probably the best part of the whole trip was all the great people I have met: the sailors, the race organizers, the people from Classe Mini and just people I met along the way. Everyone was absolutely great and made me, as a newcomer to both the Mini Classe and Europe, feel very welcome. I know I have made some fabulous new friends. A good example was my last Saturday in Lorient, a large group of us went out to dinner. By my count there were at least 7 countries at the table: Italy, France, New Zealand, UK, South Africa, The Netherlands and USA. Sitting in the middle of the table hearing conversions in a mix and variety of languages was pretty interesting and a great thing.
So now it is back to work here and get ready for the next trip and putting what I have learned to good use.
I have a bunch of new pics which I need to post, some from the sailing and from Monday when I walked around Paris. I had never been to Paris before (on the inbound leg of the trip I went straight to the train) so it was great to see with my own eyes all the sights I have only seen in books and on TV.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Leg 1, Mini Pavois

Am sitting here in Gijon, Spain after what was a little bit of a disappointing first leg. I had planned to stick fairly close to the rhumb line but when the wind freed slightly the first night I was a little too eager to hoist the spinnaker and when the lift never came, I ended up south of the rhumb line and paid dearly for the error.
There was a huge amount of animal life on the leg. Dolphins the first 24 hours, a little shore bird stopped off for a few hours rest on the second night. I managed to snap a picture but have not yet pulled it off my camera. On the second day there were lots of flies and bees which was quite surprising being over 30 miles offshore. Also, lots of small Portugese Man of War jellyfish, I had one get washed onto my foredeck which I had to be careful of.
On a positive note, the boat is plenty quick even in the light off the start. The new pic at the top of the page was taken shortly after the start while getting out of the bay at La Rochelle. Also I had no appreciable damage on the leg, which made things very simple here in Spain.
Leg two starts tomorrow. Right now the weather looks a bit light and unsettled for the first 100 or so miles. The planned course right now is to a light just north of Belle Isle and then to a buoy near Penmarch, south to a buoy off of the mouth of the Gironde River and then back to La Rochelle. The distance is 520 miles so more than double the first leg.
The event blog site should be updated regularily during the leg and each boat has a GPS tracker which appears to poll every hour.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Eve of the Mini-Pavois

So the Mini-Pavois starts tomorrow afternoon. Classe Mini approved my request to race which is a great relief.
The race itself has a blog page that should have pretty regular updates, here is the link to the english version:
The weather is looking a bit unsettled but it should be relatively benign for the first leg which is a straight shot to Gijon from La Rochelle.
The second leg could be more interesting both at it is over twice the distance and the late stages of the leg are close along the coast of Brittany.
Hopefully I will be able to get some stories and pics posted after leg one but it will depend on finding a cyber-cafe in Spain since I am leaving my computer here in La Rochelle. It may be that I will just post on my Facebook page since I will be able to access that with my phone.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Greetings from La Rochelle part 2

Ok now that I have the post I wrote in Pornichet posted, I can get on with telling the current story. I sailed down here on Thursday night, Friday morning, having a nice leisurely sail. Off of the Island of Yeu I managed to find a pretty good squall that was pretty much privately mine. The folks closer to the island got less wind and those outside got no change. I got a big blast, a big shift and a bunch of rain.
Since I have been here in La Rochelle, I am still waiting to hear whether Classe Mini will allow me to race the Mini-Pavois. I am hoping that they will. To that end I have been working on getting all the proper inspections and other required details done.
This race has a lot of the same boats which sailed in Pornichet with a few not here and some new boats here. According to the race director, there are at least 11 different countries represented here. Last night at dinner, our table was two English, two South Africans, one Norwegian and myself an American. As I sit writing this in my boat, I can here the Italians talking in the boat next to me. I am really enjoying meeting all the new people and making lots of new friends.
Also since I have been here, I am getting some of the problems taken care of on my boat. Today, Thomas the builder and I removed the rudders and their fittings and completely rebedded them and then reinstalled with nylock nuts so this problem should not arise again. Tomorrow, Thomas willl be back to do some work on the bow pulpit and fix a number of places where water is leaking in around screws. The folks from TEEM will also be here to install my proper sleeping timer and add a data port to the GPS. The data port will allow me to setup waypoints on my computer and then electronically transfer then to the Furuno GPS versus having to manually input them on the GPS' keypad.
The weather models for the race as looking rather interesting at this point with potentially north east winds to start,swinging to the NW later and then becoming highly variable. As the start is still 4 days away, I expect the models will change and then change some more before the start.
So, things are a little on hold as to whether I will be racing, which is tough, but the sun has been shining and I am getting the itmes that were problems taken care of on the boat so I am feeling a lot better because of boat

Greetings from La Rochelle

Has been an insteresting and somewhat stressful few days. On Thursday night I sailed from Pornichet to La Rochelle with a group of other Mini sailors. Overall was a very nice trip, took it very easy as my rudders were both loose, one more than the other and I did not want to unduly stress them.
Before I left Pornichet I wrote up a posting that I was not able to post, so here is that:

Yesterday the guys from TEEM arrived with two brand new batteries and another fuel cell. The fuel cell is an older model (140) that I will use while mine is sent back to the factory for repair. The one I had originally was the MaxPower 130 which is a brand new model, an evolution of the 110. It turns out that the methanol pickup was changed on the 130 and there have been numerous failures of the cap, resulting in the unit shutting down.
The batteries are ElecSol 100 carbon batteries and both were replaced as one or both were also defective. These batteries are a fair bit lighter that the typical lead-acid batteries but not in the league with the lithium batteries. However, these batteries also are not nearly as expensive as the Li-Ion ones either.
Today it is windy and raining here in Pornichet with the wind from the south-west. The weather pattern is alternating days of good weather and stormy weather. Tomorrow the forecast is calling for, in the wake of the front, sun and medium north-west winds which should be good for the delivery to La Rochelle. Ugrib is the program that most people seem to use which is generally pretty good. It sounds like most of the mini fleet will all be sailing to La Rochelle tomorrow en masse.
There is a Mumm/Farr 30 regatta here in Pornichet this weekend with ~20 boats. Most teams practiced yesteraday and it looks like almost all will be on the water again today. This appears to the be tune up for the Tour de France a Voile later in the year. The level of sponsorship/branding for these teams is unlike anything one sees in the USA in sailing. I think the boat whose graphics I like the most is the one sponsored by New Caledonia. Also here in Pornichet is a fleet of J80s as club boats. For a club boat this seems to be a pretty good choice, is simple, durable and still offers enough performance to be interesting.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Well things with the Select did not quite go to plan. A few days prior my fuel cell stopped working and I was unable to get it repaired prior to the start. While it was working, it may have been masking another issue, that the batteries were not holding a charge.

So, after starting the race with what I thought were full batteries after 12 hours I was into major power conserve mode. This meant no GPS, no instruments, no VHF and most painfully no auto pilot. During the first night it was tough but not too severe since there were a lot of boats nearby to gauge off of both speed and direction.

The boat seemed to be going well although sail changes in the variable conditions were a challenge without the pilot.

By the next day, fatigue was starting to mount and my mood was starting to deteriorate. Was near the back of the fleet getting to the turning mark at Bourgenay. This was a lot due to sailing the boat earlier in the day to maximize solar panel exposure versus for performance. At Bourgenay, I was able to talk to the committee on the VHF and let them know I was having some power issues. I had already missed a couple of mandatory check ins due to not having enough power to transmit.

Once around Bourgenay it was a port tack favored beat back to Yeu. That went pretty well as I was feeling a bit energized to be heading back towards the finish versus away from it. Also the sun was shining which never hurts. Both were to be short lived unfortunately. As it got dark, the wind continued to build with the approaching cold front. Once clear of Yeu, I sailed for another hour or so on port before tacking to starboard for the long hitch out to clear Belle Isle and hopefully lay Groix which was to be left to starboard. Without a pilot, my only option was to tie off the tiller to try to get a little sleep. This worked ok but was not really too great for performance.

Shortly after sunrise, during a boat check, I found that the starboard lower rudder fitting was leaking. The leak itself was not too severe but I was very concerned with the possibility of the holes in the transon elongating which would have made the leak worse and likely damaged the rudder. At this point I did not even have enough electrical power to turn on the GPS to get a position fix. The sun did come out long enough to get some power out of the solar panels to get the GPS working and find my position. I still had a quite a way to go to get to Groix and was very concerned with coming back south inside of Belle Isle in the dark without any sleep, or instruments as there are numerous rocks and reefs here. If this were an area I knew well this might have been a non-issue but I had zero interest in piling my new boat up on the first race.

So, at this point I made the tough decision to head for Pornichet and withdraw. That still wears a bit heavily on me even now 48 hours later. The frustrating part was that the technology which was supposed to make a tough race easier completely failed me and I was not able to make up the difference.

Now I am faced with how to continue on from here. Classe Mini requires a person to have a C-level race completed before they do a B-level race. The Select was to be my C race before the Mini-Pavois which is a B race. Yesterday, I sent an email to the Classe to ask whether I will be allowed to race in the Mini-Pavois. I hope they allow it. If they do not I will be unable to race in the Mini-Pavois so will have to come up with a new plan to get my miles done. Also I may face late withdrawal penalties from the Mini-Pavois for dropping out less than one month before the race.

A technician from TEEM electronics should be here today to get my fuel cell operational and sort out the battery issue. Yesterday I bought a battery charger and it has been charging since 1430 and is still humming away trying to get the battery levels up. When I finished, they was not even enough power in the batteries to charge my cell phone. There are a few other items on my to do list but overall the boat came through very well.

Here is a link to website that has a number of pics from the race:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Getting ready for the Select 6.50

Hello from Pornichet. We are about 60 miles south of Lorient. Sailed down here on Monday night. To add a few extra miles of sailing, we went outside Belle Isle which is the first mark of the course for the race tomorrow.

The sail down was good aside from my pilot tripping the breaker and shutting down for a while. My boat appears to be plenty quick which is a very nice thing.

Since arriving in Pornichet the days have been a bit of a blur. Had to get the boat fully measured and get all the safety inspections done. Finished that all up yesterday afternoon with my sails all getting stamped by the head measurer for the class.

Today will be looking at the weather, snapping some pics of the boat for class mini, emptying the boat and getting some food and rest.

The race tomorrow starts in the afternoon. Right now it is looking like it could be a little light on Sunday but overall the weather is probably going to be a mixed bag.

Here are some pics I took during the measurement:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lots of Lines

Got the boom back and the boat is now pretty much fully rigged. Prior to the boom going on, I took a few more pics of various things on the boat.

The cabin top with its plethora of lines. From port to starboard it is: Reef 2, Outhaul, Vang, Sprit flipper, tackline, MH Spinnaker Halyard, Main Halyard, Fractional Spinnaker Halyard, Solent halyard, Solent Reef, Babystay, Reef 3 and finally Reef 1

The lines on the cockpit floor looking aft. From starboard to port: Runner, Mainsheet fine tune, Runner fine tune, Mainsheet (not yet rigged) and port runner.

One of the checkstay adjusters

The adjustable foot rests or, as Bob Perry calls them, Bensons

The obligatory oarlock

The starboard side deck. From the center of the boat working out: solent athwartship adjuster, solent fore and aft adjuster, spinnaker twing, outrigger line, brace. The solent sheet and the spinnaker sheet will go through the two empty blocks just outboard of the brace clutch.

Another view of the same sidedeck area.

The autopilot computer. The NKE ram is currently connected with the other plug being for the Autohelm/Raymarine, spare ram.

A look down through the keel window at the keel.

Today I need to get some final bits installed up the rig and will be getting my sleeping alarm installed too. The alarm is LOUD which is a very good thing.