Archive for May, 2012

Entering Raz de Sein – Light Air

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May 31, 2012 posted by admin

Thursday May 31, 2012

The MAP Race, (in French) got underway at noon today. The strong no outside communication rule is in effect. Thus no update from Diane directly.

The weather is 3 to 4 knots out of the west. Fleet Tracking is in English. The news feed continues in French announcing the fleet is around the first point of land and into the Raz de Sein. Also found a description of the race and its history in English.

There are 80 Minis entered in the race. The fleet has two division. There are 30 Prototype (one-off, custom) and 50 Series (production) boats. OGOC is a Series boat. At the first rounding, the point into the Rez de Sein, Fleet Tracking shows Diane in 5th place in the Series division.

Took these two screen shots – Diane alone and Diane with the rest of the Series fleet. Click for larger images.

And a shout out to Paul – Woo Hoo! – for picking out One Girls Ocean Challenge on the right, against the dock in yesterday’s Where’s Waldo picture.

The MAP Race Starts Thursday Noon

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May 30, 2012 posted by admin

Wednesday May 30, 2012

Tim again: Diane, suffering internet connection issues, reports: The weather routing is plugged in! We’re finally going to have some down wind racing even if it only averages 5-10 knots for the whole race. If we can keep up to the weather window, it looks like the wind will follow us all the way around the course. My spinnakers are finally going to see some sunshine!

The trackers are also loaded onto the boats and all of the security checks are in place. There are a few last pieces of equipment to offload from OGOC and then tomorrow at noon, 80 minis go charging off to the Raz De Sein and beyond!

Tim again: that’s tomorrow noon (local time) or Thursday 6am Toronto time for the start of the race. Here’s the course:

Diane sent four photos – click to see larger images.

Ever wonder why France has so many single handed and distance sailor? Classrooms of school children on field trips, come by to see the boats preparing for the race.

Although the toes look familiar, it’s another competitor sorting their masthead electronics.

There are 80 minis registered for the race. As Diane described it: Mini Heaven.

Where’s Waldo Diane? Or rather the boat. You’ll definitely want to click the picture into a bigger image.

With the race being organized in France, not surprising, the web site is in French. Although it might be too late to pay attention in grade 7 French class, here are a few links to the important pages. First up is the course description which includes the course graphic above. Yellow Brick is providing the fleet tracking, same as the UK Mini Fastnet, and hope to find and “English” button there. Expect the weather page will be running by the start of the race. As well, The MAP Race, Main Page is on the Winches Club web site.

Fair Winds Diane!

One More Race

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May 29, 2012 posted by admin

May 29, 2012
We’re in the race!  There are 80 minis in total racing in the Trophee Marie-Agnes Peron…and we’re all single handed.  There will be trackers on the boat so you can watch all the action! The race starts Thursday at 12noon here in France 🙂


Arrived Douarnenez

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May 28, 2012 posted by admin

Monday May 28, 2012

Tim passing along news from Diane: I’m in to Douarnenez :-).  I think it says in the manual that you can only go upwind in the Bay of Biscay in 25-30 knots of wind. It doesn’t matter where you’re going or what day it is… that’s the forecast.

Becky and I hit the Chenal Du Four around a bout the same time: 1600. [4pm Sunday – T]  At 1645 the tidal gate closes and the tide turns north. Jake (who was about 4 hours ahead of us by now) went all the way around Ouessant (the island outlying the channel).

At full stream the current in the Chenal Du Four is moving somewhere just over 4 knots… north, and I was in a south east wind… going south south east. At least the wind was flattening out the waves a little. What should have been an hour or so run in a favorable stream turned into a 4-5 hour slog upwind.

Speaking of wind, it started out light at the beginning of Chenal, but knowing that it was going to build to 15-20 I put a reef in and put the jib up so that I could have a little more manageable sail area up. I didn’t want to be on my ear sliding sideways with the stream, but then again I needed enough power to punch through the current.  By the time I got to the end of the Chanel we were in 15 knots and slamming around in the roughest part of the stream.

Then the clouds got dark and the wind continued to build. By sundown we were up to 25 steady gusting to 30, two reefs in the main and a reef in the jib. We tacked our way back and forth through some cardinal marks and made the turn to Douarnenez. Sailed up to the dock and went to sleep.

Just once I’d like to do a delivery (or a race for that matter), without the drama and a really nice kite ride for more than 20 minutes :-). But the good news is that we’re in Douarnenez.

Douarnenez?  That’s right.  We’re going to try to squeeze in one more race before flying back. It’s the MAP and it’s 220 miles solo.  The race starts on Thursday… one drive arm to repair and we should be good to go!

You can interact with this Google “chart” directly or click the link below to open it full sized:

View the UK to Douarnenez,France via Chanel Du Four delivery in a larger “chart”.

Delivery & Drive Arm Surgery

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May 27, 2012 posted by admin

Sunday May 27, 1028 GMT, 48°46.135’N 004°47.730’W Motoring

Tim again – blogging from Diane’s message: Here’s an update. I see the shoreline and signal is snapping in and out. It’s 10:28am.

We started off yesterday about 0930 in 25 knots. I had 2 reefs in the main and the storm jib up. The boat was nicely balanced. About ten miles put the wind started to pick up. Went to a third reef (we were about 45 degrees off of the wind).  Too tight and way too much wind for the code 0, and faster and more stable than with the reefed jib, which I started out with. The wind eased up going into the afternoon.

Jake took off going lower and reaching in the waves. I stuck to the rhumb line, but quickly lost him. He said afterwards that he was going to start working his way back up to the rhumb line, but I never saw him again. Becky joined the gang about three hours later. During the night the wind continued to ease up and shift a little but stayed close hauled. Becky got caught out in the lightening, but I was just ahead of it enough that I only got rained on.

During all of this is when my drive arm for the pilot decided to give up. I have two. One has been intermittent for a while.  The techs thought it was because the wire gauge was a little undersized. I upsized it. While running that pilot during the afternoon, the head that hooks onto the tiller pin jumped off and started freewheeling. The cap came off and a bunch of plastic shrapnel fell out. It hasn’t responded since. So I switched to the other drive arm. It ran great until the rain. Then it just stopped.  Hmmm. Fashioned up a quick tiller buddy with some line. That was semi-tolerant except that there was almost no wind to keep pressure on the rudders and we did a lot of donuts.

A lot of donuts while I figured out how to make two non functioning pilots into one. I pulled the motor out of the shrapnelled drive arm and ran power to it. It spun. Opening the other pilot, found a large amount of sea water swilling around in a nice dark rusted murky mud. Interestingly enough… that motor didn’t spin. What a shocker! So I carefully dried out the inside of the potentially functioning drive arm and shoved the functional motor in it hoping to line it up. The motor doesn’t actually have to line up with anything other than the teeth on the little cogs, but there is a screw head that has to be accounted for. So presto bingo and the darn thing is working again. It shakes and hops a little, but at least it’s driving for the moment.

I’m trying to get to the Chenal Du Four in time for the tidal gate. In fact I won’t make the start of the southerly stream, but I should make the slak tide just before it turns north. It’s a neap tide so it won’t be as strong, but the wind is on the nose…. if the wind builds (18miles to get there still), then I’ll have to go around, which will add hours and hours, for the sake of getting through this little 2 mile passage.  🙂

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device [Tim: Wow! From the ocean off France? Is it time to buy some RIM stock?]

You can interact with this Google “chart” directly or click the link below to open it full sized:

View Diane’s Plymouth, UK to Douarnenez, France Delivery in a larger map.

One More Race?

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May 25, 2012 posted by admin

May 25, 2012

The Trophee Marie-Agnes Peron  (The MAP) race starts May 31st.  It’s a 220 mile race single handed out of and back into Douarnenez, and it’s right along our route back home to Hennebont.  I’ve made a last minute application to try to get into the race but the entry list is pretty much full.  That means we’ll be on the wait list.  So the plan is to leave Plymouth early tomorrow morning and sail to Douarnenez.  I’ll go in tandem with Jake who is delivering a mini for another competitor.  We’ll park ourselves in the race basin, go through all of the race controls and then sit and wait for someone to pull out of the race.  There are 80 boats in this race.  The race should finish on or about the 2nd of June which gives us one day to sail 80 miles to Lorient, then motor up the river 3 hours to arrive at hi tide in Hennebont to be hauled out for the rest of the season.  I’ll then have about 12 hours to sort the boat and get to Paris to catch my flight home to Canada!  Everybody cross your fingers so we can get into the race!


Artemis Offshore Race Training

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May 23, 2012 posted by admin

May 23, 2012
You probably recognize the Artemis Offshore Academy name associated with the Figaro class and the fantastic racing development they have done.  This year Artemis added Minis to their training program.  They value the benefit of training their British racers and recognize the value of doing that within the Mini class.  So….as a result of that this year saw the first running of the Artemis Mini training program.  Next year will be the second running of the training. The training camp includes racers from multiple countries, and makes for a great training platform for Artemis’ British sailors.  In the spring One Girl’s Ocean Challenge will get to be part of this training.  We’re looking forward to the training with GREAT anticipation!  The opportunity to sail and trial against other boats, get feedback and opportunity to further develop skills is absolutely ideal.  Thanks very much to Artemis for allowing us to be part of this wonderful opportunity!


The Fastnet Race

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May 16, 2012 posted by admin

May 16, 2012

The UK Mini Fastnet Race heads out from Plymouth England to the Scilly Islands and then makes a northerly turn to the Fastnet Rock.  To get there you must cross the Irish Sea.  Then after you get around the Fastnet Rock, you make your way along the southern coast of Ireland to the Conninberg Light Vessel, make a sharp southerly turn and head back to Plymouth England, again crossing the Irish Sea.  The Irish Sea is a convergent zone of the Atlantic Ocean, the Celtic Sea, the English Channel and the Scottish Sea.  Low pressure systems spin up over Northern Ireland and Iceland and feed cold winds into their lows.  The lows get pinched in up there with the lows coming across the North Atlantic and the effects from the lows that pile in to the Bay of Biscay in France.  In Ireland those lows build, get cold and typically move off East, or South East.  This is what makes the Fastnet Rock races famous and so incredibly treacherous at times.



The wind prediction for this Fastnet Race would prove to be accurate. We started off in light wind in a little in port race, then headed out to Eddystone Rock and Bishop’s Rock (Scilly Islands). The wind was from the North West at a pleasant 10 knots and going North throughout the next two days…..and building to force 7, which is close to 30 knots. 30 knots isn’t the end of the world. But 30 knots in a mini, in the Irish Sea is horrendous.  The boat pitches insanely. 30 knots in the Irish Sea is a massive whirlwind of sea state. Nothing is consistent. The wind was going to blow cold from the North in a fairly large low that we were just touching the edge of.  Going in to the first night the wind started to build.  We started reefing, first with the main, then at 20 knots we took a tuck in the jib and continued reefing with the wind building.  It was going to be a really really slow slog. Our primary mistake was not eating tons of food during the good weather so that we were prepared for the weather that was to come.  Our other mistake was not fully appreciating how cold it would get. We had thermals, and thermals, and mid layers, and fleece layers, and fowl weather gear, and then the now famous “Canadian Bear Suits”…otherwise known as an orange Mustang floater suit.  This would prove to be insufficient for the onslaught of cold wind. During the night the wind continued to build and howl. The seas cranked up and the temperature and barometer dropped.  The pilot was handling the sail changes well, but we hand steered as much as possible in the confused sea.  By Monday we were in full blown 27 -30 knots of consistent wind and into the Irish Sea. We speculate the sea state was randomly between 8 and 20 feet at any given moment and the waves often came from opposite direction. By Tuesday morning we were free falling off of waves and then having side waves break and crash along the side deck. 10 and 15 foot waves would just “pop up” randomly anywhere and then pancake out right in front of you.  By now we were both sick, and incredibly cold.  The weather forecast was to be on the nose all the way up to Fastnet Rock and then to clock and follow us upwind out to the Conningberg light and then continue to clock all the way back to Plymouth with us. This was the kind of epic stuff that you read about in books. I talked with single handed ocean racers here at the bar that say the Irish Sea can be worse than the southern ocean when it gets confused like that. We slogged it out all day Monday.  Monday night the wind would hit 30 knots, but then started to ease off a little back down to 25 knots.  Now the free falling started.  We would climb up a wave and the boat would drop.  There wasn’t enough wind through the troughs for the small sail area and the pilot would get confused with the apparent wind and try to tack.   We were spent.  Tuesday morning we looked at the 120 miles left to get to the Fastnet rock, the prediction of the wind being on the nose all the way round, our state of sickness and decided that we had learned a huge amount, but that it wasn’t safe to keep going.  We would come back to battle the Rock another day.  The boat of course was fine. She was bashing along with no problems at all. Deciding to turn around and go back was a safety decision for us. After we decided to come back we learned that another boat had come in before us with a mangled winch.  We also were followed in shortly after by our friends on Mad Dog who were coming in with rudder damage and cracks in the hull from the free falling off of the waves.  A fourth boat, Mad Spaniel, was just behind them coming in with hypothermia. Jeff on Mad Spaniel was down below working his way in or out of his gear when the boat crash tacked.  In the panic to deal with the tack he came flying out of the cabin and instantly took a full body wave and was soaked to the skin.  Shortly after stage 1 hypothermia set in and they decided to retire. Jeff also proclaimed today that in all his years of racing around here that he’s never scene conditions more unbearable. The race should have finished on Thursday (tomorrow). The lead boats are only just around the Conninberg Light Vessel and have a little over 200 miles to go…upwind in light air that is going to build again and clock as they make their way back to Plymouth. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t finish the race, but we have learned TONS from it. This is the reason that we brought the campaign to France a year ahead. We will challenge the rock again and be stronger and faster from this experience (and warmer).  We’ll get our qualifying miles in, but we’ll do it with a new found piece of knowledge and be better prepared. This is all part of training…:-)


Arrived Plymouth – Retired From The Race

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May 16, 2012 posted by admin

5am Wednesday May 16th

Fleet Tracking shows OGOC with Diane and Andrew arriving in Plymouth. The Race Committee reports they are safely at the dock, that it is quite cold and recorded OGOC as retired due to “conditions”. It’s 5am local time in Plymouth (midnight Tuesday evening Toronto time).

Expect some details after they get sorted and some sleep. Welcome back Diane & Andrew.

Off Lands End and Heading for Plymouth

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May 15, 2012 posted by admin

Tuesday May 15

The fleet had 25 knots of wind overnight. About 9am (local time, 4am Toronto time) Diane & Andrew turned off the wind, heading away from Fastnet Rock (the next mark of the course). It appears they have discontinued racing. The race committee noticed and has been monitoring them since that time.

About 3pm (local, 10am Toronto) learned that Diane & Andrew have been in contact with Falmouth Coast Guard. Falmouth CG advises they are “Ok” and making their way back to Plymouth. That’s where the race was started and will finished.

As of 5pm (local, noon Toronto) OGOC are in 15 knots of wind out of the north west, making 7 knots east towards Plymouth, about 80 miles away. Several more hours before they are in.

Manu Poki is already back back at the dock, having retired from the race due to a broken winch and damaged wind instruments. Mad Dog, near Bishop Rock, has also spoken with Falmouth CG, advising hull and rudder damage, on an hourly radio schedule and putting in at Hugh Town, St. Mary’s. Mad Spaniel have also turned around and are heading for Lands End, with no details available at this time.

Looks like the Race Committee and Coast Guard are on top of things to ensure everybody gets home safely. Fleet Tracking allows one to monitor the retiring boats as well as the competitors continuing to race.

Found some photos from the start. I like this one with smiles.

Picture of Diane & Andrew on OGOC, all smiles at the UK Mini Fastnet start.

Diane & Andrew wearing Smiles and Foul Weather Gear for the Start. Click for larger image.