Ahoy crew and Happy New Year!
What an exciting year 2023 will be.
I had a great time in A Coruna last year with Chuny and his team looking after me very well at Marina Coruna. Its a beautiful port city and I particularly loved the old town area and its maze of alleyways filled with small cafes and bars. I returned to Australia in October taking some much needed downtime with my family and get this old skipper 100% medically and mentally ready.
Whilst Roaring Forty is ‘resting’ in A Coruna Spain, work continues in the background chipping away at a diminishing ‘to-do’ list in preparation for my return in April.
I am pleased to announce ZOOM SAILS (https://www.zoomsails.com/) as my sail supplier supporting my Global Solo Challenge. Working with owner and Kiwi expat Phil Auger, I placed an order for a full batten, PowerPlast (Italy) filmless SK99/Aramid heavy taffeta string membrane mainsail with four reefs; the 4th reef taking the place of a trysail. The beauty of string membranes is the load paths are incorporated into the design and it will have a bunch of extra woven anti-chaffe patches and other unique features incorporated into the design. The yarns are laid and fused to form the membrane at the Power Plast factory in Italy to the designers plan, and then cut for assembly by Zoom Sails at their OEM loft in Sri Lanka. The fusion process does away with the mylar film that is primarily responsible for delamination of laminate sails.
I have also ordered a hi-vis orange heavy Dacron storm jib.
HEADSAILS – TO REEF OR NOT TO REEF
I will continue to sail and train with my old soft hank Carbon Kevlar Millenium genoa and jibs with foot reefing. In fact these sails were the first ever fusion membrane that did not rely on a mylar film and even featured in the Millenium Product Brochure back in 2009. These heavy rugged sails lapped the planet in the 2008/09 Global Ocean Race and have the battle scars to prove it, but they have not delaminated. GSC event director and owner Marco Nannini also used Power Plast membranes during his 2010/11 Global Ocean Race, as does Andrea Mura on his record breaking Open 50, so they have demonstrated performance.
Before committing to new Zoom headsails, I need to make a decision on a structural furler.
The KZ Race Furlers (NZ) range includes a structural furler with a unique swivel halyard lock so you can raise and lower the headsail. The head is not lashed to the upper swivel and the lock works without any trip line. The halyard runs down the luff pocket when hoisting. Simply over hoist to lock and the over hoist again to unlock. A Cunningham would be incorporated on top of the furler to adjust luff tension.
There are also a couple of unique lower cost solutions using additional luff halyards that Marco and other Class 40 sailors have designed to avoid lashing headsails so you can lower them to deck. There are of course other structural furler options in the market (Karver, Facnor, Ubi Maior), so I will be looking at these options in the next few weeks.
Pros: safety; ease/speed of evolutions/operations; minimal time on foredeck; sail stowage on headstay; all in or all out so no damage from partially reefed use.
Cons: cost; complexity; composite forestay required; greater mast loading; risk of furler failure unable to furl; risk of sail damage if furler jambs mid-furl; alternative halyard solution required to avoid lashing head of sail; less options for sail configuration unless more sails purchased to suit luff length to enable furling; limited flexibility as to what sail can be flown on the headstay; potential performance gaps by compromising on sail area; windage and weight aloft having a negative impact on vessel stability.
FIXED HEADSTAY (no furler)
My old headsails have Equiplite webbing soft hanks and a reefing foot, so in effect that gives me four sail configuration options from two sails set on a fixed rod headstay and removeable dyneema inner forestay. With a reefing foot headsail there are two tack points and two clew points designed into the string load paths of the sail. When the breeze builds you lower the halyard to the new mark, then haul down the tack line and secure the new tack to the deck. New sheets are bent onto the second clew and the halyard re-tensioned. The reefing procedure removes about 25% of the sail area.
Pros: simple and effective; old sails can be used as spares without modification; more sail configurations equals more opportunities to maintain performance in changing conditions; performance gain; no windage from furled sail; stability maintained (no furled sail = weight aloft)
Cons: safety risk having the old man on the foredeck to reef and stow/remove/change hanked sails; slower; sail damage increased risk as reefed foot will flog and catch water if not secured.
As you can see, its not a straight forward exercise to simply install a structural furler, fit the new headstay and strap on a sail. There is a lot to consider given the knock on effect impacting budget, sail size, configuration, safety, damage and performance.
I plan to be back in Spain around mid-April.
My current water ballast system comprises four tanks supplied via two 316 stainless steel Fairfit thru-hulls bolted port and starboard about 500mm off centreline. They are unique in their design with a centre handle and plug with O-rings that slides inside the through hull. When closed the plug is sanded smooth with the outer hull. To open I simply lift the handle to raise the plug and the handle folds down at 90 degrees. The main distribution manifold is 3” Banjo Flange piping made in the good old USA and I have remotely operated Valterra knife valves.
I have replaced the original heavy cast iron engine driven ballast pump with two 380GPH Rule 12vdc general purpose pumps (fill and empty giving me redundancy), but they are not self priming so are subject to air locks, meaning they don’t work unless there is water inside the pump. To ensure there is a forced supply of water to the pump, I am installing a SofoScoop venturi valve to keep the pump primed and to also speed up ballast tank filling and draining. The scoop also functions to empty the ballast tanks giving redundancy. You simply push down on the handle and rotate so the scoop faces backwards. The scoop now works just like your 1980’s sailing dinghy bailer using the venturi effect to empty the tanks.
The Southern Spars mast will get some new halyards before being stepped back onto the keel and tuned using hydraulic rams. Southern Spars has been very helpful providing me with rig and tuning data.
SPARTITE is a rubber-like liquid compound that is poured into the gap between the carbon mast and deck collar when the rig is in its tuned position to prevent movement. When cured it has shore hardness of about 90SH. The old SPARTITE around the deck mast collar had been in and out several times over its life and is toast. Since I converted the rig from PBO continuous fibre to Sanrig 80 Rod rigging the position of the mast has changed and the SPARTITE has been making one hell of a racket. SPARTITE is meant to adhere to the mast, but also slide within the deck collar so you can tune the mast up and down or easily unstep and remove the mast from the boat. The problem was the bond to the mast had broken so the SPARTITE was moving freely on mast and collar. The creaking/groaning noise is amplified within the carbon hull making one hell of a racket.
Hull, rudder and rig reports will then be completed in May as per the GSC Regulations and once back in the water a stability test performed.
I had originally considered entering the RWYC Around Iceland Yacht Race as a shakedown and training test, however the May start date compounded by the high risk of foul weather and limited logistics support in Arctic waters if something were to break, resulted in my assessment being the risk outweighed the reward. If you recall in June, the IMOCA fleet were smashed in their Iceland race and the course shortened because of the extreme conditions, and that was in June.
AZORES AND BACK RACE (AZAB)
I will race Roaring Forty solo in the Azores and Back (AZAB) race. Leg 1 starts in Falmouth on 03 Jun and Leg 2 departs the Azores 20 Jun 23. It looks to be a very large and competitive fleet with some great boats and experienced skippers, so I am confident of learning at lot and sailing Roaring Forty beyond my current boundaries.
The AZAB is a good compromise for a shakedown due to the two legs with logistics support available during the Azores stayover.
After the AZAB I will cool my heels in Falmouth to make any repairs/modifications and restock before launching into my 2000nm GSC qualifying passage that will see me arrive back in A Coruna hopefully unscathed from any Spanish Orca interactions!
If you have been watching the reports as I have, the risk of damage resulting from Orca interactions is at present unacceptably high and increasing across a broader geographic area. I will have in place mitigation strategies and plans to minimise the risk of interaction and damage so far as is reasonably practicable.
I like to share my pain so here are links so you can at least follow the trend of the most recent interactions.
ORCA ATTACK REPORTING: https://www.facebook.com/groups/435540734439160/
Our mate Nathan ‘Bullet’ Draper is an Air Force Engineering Officer battling brain cancer every day. Through his own beliefs and sheer determination, supported by his loving family and surrounded by loyal friends and carers, Bullet has more than doubled the time of his original prognosis. BTAA is a wonderful organisation supporting not only the patients, but the families as they navigate through such a terrible time. Since 2012, Soldier On has the backs of Defence Members in need when it comes providing support during difficult times. Please give generously so they may continue offering their fantastic gift.
BRAIN TUMOUR ALLIANCE AUSTRALIA (BTAA): https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/global-solo-challenge-for-bullet
Please consider helping those less fortunate than I and donate to my charities before considering helping me.
If you would like to offer assistance to my campaign be that in person, product or financial, then please reach out to via my Aviator Ocean Racing Facebook page to see how we can assist each other.
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Thankyou for your support and encouragement.
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