Monday, October 29, 2007


Just in from Europe--the worst of the San Diego fires were out by the time he arrived home--one Peter Isler, whose ride, Titan, bailed on the Middle Sea Race. The next stop for "Pedro" was Spain, to work with American Jonathan McKee and Barcelona homie Guillermo Altadill, prepping Estrella Damm for the Barcelona World Race start less than two weeks away.

I checked in re. wildfires and boats, thinking that a guy who has seen one after another America's Cup, Olympic classes, and a heap of ocean racing would have seen it all, but here is Isler on this deal: "It was incredible. I had never caught up with the Open 60 scene in Europe. You can't believe the boats.

"I hadn't realized that the Open 60 rule allows the mast to be any height at all. And there are boats with rotating masts, and some have masts with compression struts to widen the effective chain plate angle. Simply put, these are the coolest monohulls I've ever seen."

So what about the Farr-designed boat that Altadill and McKee will sail?

"They have a conventional rig," Isler said, "and they're by no means the favorites in this race. PRB is that. But as long as the boat holds together, Jonathan is brilliant. Having someone in the race that you know brings it a lot closer.

"With only two people on the boat, they're never going to be able to sail it a hundred percent. It's a matter of sailing singlehanded-style, so they split the sleep and let the autopilot do most of the steering."

Hmm, says I. I've heard Stan Honey talk about how he and Sally race their Cal 40 with the autopilot interfacing through software to the polars that Stan has carefully worked out, and the line goes, "There's no reason for us to steer because 'Otto' does such a good job." Stan being, among other things, the guy who figured out how write software to "paint" the yellow first-down lines in NFL broadcasts, he qualifies as the smartest guy in the room, most of the time. (He's working for British Cup challenger, Team Origin, at the moment.)

Isler again, "Yeah, I told these guys they should be talking to Stan about software. Unfortunately, they just didn't have the time."

Jorge Andreu/Estrella Damm Sailing Team

Oh, time. McKee entered the picture in August, after completing his commitments to Luna Rossa in the America's Cup in Valencia, and these two have been on a tear, just to be ready to leave at all. The race is attracting a lot of attention, in part because people are interested in the doublehanded aspect. Also, it's a heck of a fleet. That PRB that Peter mentioned is another Farr, this one to be sailed by Vincent Riou and Sébastien Josse, each with a rather impressive resumé. Other attention-getters are Alex Thompson and Andrew Cape, inbound now from England, who cleared Gibraltar on Monday and are expected to arrive in Barcelona Wednesday night or Thursday morning with their hungry-looking Hugo Boss.

Fleet of nine.

Starts November 11.


Language makes us who we are. It unites us, but of course it also divides us between the speakers of this language or that. I feel the pain of my French-speaking friends at the finish line of the Transat 6.50, earnestly trying to convey events in this largely-French event to an English-speaking audience. Most of the fleet has arrived in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, and kudos to the race team for making the effort to communicate.

Contrast that to a simple business decision made by Le Groupe IDEC for their golden boy, Frances Joyon, as he preps his giant trimaran for a shot at the solo round-the-world record now held by Ellen MacArthur. Notice in this pic, there's a human figure looking rather small . . .

© JM Liot/DPPVidec

Now, a phenomenon like this doesn't explain why a European can get sponsorship for a boat, while an American cannot, but it sure paints a stark contrast. David McCreary at Scuttlebutt Europe alerted me to the following gem unearthed by Cowes Online:

As Joyon's web site is exclusively in French, we emailed his PR to ask if they would be publishing reports in English for Joyon's many fans who don't speak French.
The response winged its way promptly across the Channel from PR Fabrice Thomazeau:

Malheureusement, nous ne communiquerons pas en anglais.
Le sponsor du bateau n'ayant pas d'objectif à l'international.
Best Regards,
Fabrice Thomazeau"

It didn't take a linguist to work this one out - the sponsor has no international objectives so there's won't be any English language communications.
Well, all we can say is - Tu te fous de ma gueule!

Me, I'm not quite over the too, too similar responses of our America's Cup litigants to the judge's nonruling of October 22. (Both were well pleased.)

We're still waiting for further announcements, remember. Either a call back to the commercial division of the New York Supreme Court for a summary judgment from The Man, or word of a settlement between the parties. In their words they don't sound far apart, but in the gaps between the words, methinks, there is a chasm and one or the other has a long way to fall.

Still hoping for a speedy way out of this place.

I remind you again of the following—Kimball