VO70 AZZAM arrives Auckland

March 11 2012 – Auckland NZ

After 20 days of racing the Volvo Ocean Race fleet has arrived in the Auckland - the city of sails. Given that fully a third of the sailors in the race call New Zealand home and the countries storied history in the race and it is no surprise that this is one of the most anticipated stop overs of any in the race. The Via Duct Basin has been transformed into the Volvo Ocean Race village and the place has a definite buzz about it. Something like 25,000 people came through yesterday even before any of the boats had arrived.

As I write this, Azzam has just finished and Sanya will be crossing the line in less than an hours time. Amazingly the boats in places 2 – 6th have all finished within the space of a few hours, and on a Sunday afternoon for the Auckland crowds on top of that. The crews will get a long sought after meal and a brief chance to decompress while the shore crews will dive into the jobs list addressing both major and minor issues late into the nights to get the boats back in the water by Wednesday in preparation for the inshore race schedule and the restart next Sunday. We seem fortunate not to have too many major issues to deal with but we’ll have to wait and see when the boat arrives. A week is not a lot of time and the crews face the demands of the southern ocean when they leave here so everything has to fixed and reliable for one of the biggests tests they will see over the 9 months of the race.

While the repairs and reprovisioning continue I will be working with the team here debriefing from the last leg, looking at what went right and wrong and working to re-mode the boat within the limited range of options we have for the expected conditions of Leg 5. Certainly a 5th place is not what we were after on this leg and I think it hurts more to be within 15 miles of second place after racing for 20 days. But the teams spirits are high and we will be ready to go on the next leg and show everyone what we are made of.

Stay tuned …

Britton Ward, Vice President/Senior Naval Architect

Key West Wrap Up

It's hard to believe that it has already been over a couple weeks since the last day of racing in Key West.  The time away from racing has allowed me to take a step back and truly evaluate the regatta for the Farr 400s.  It was absolutely fantastic to see 5 Farr 400s on the line with their own one-design start. The boat was launched in the spring of 2011, so to get this amount of traction so quickly is a great thing to see.  Conversation on the dock among sailors as well as owners was very productive and helps to ensure that the class will continue to move in the right direction.

The racing all week was very close, and each boat improved as the week went on.  If you made a mistake, the fleet would make sure you knew about it.  There were no free passes for bad boat handling or trimming.  I can't help but to wonder how much time we left on the course, compared to where these boats will be in one year's time.  This could realistically turn out to be more than a couple of minutes.  This Key West Race Week was a mix of many conditions. We saw 20+ with a decent sea state, mid teens with flat water and chop and had some mornings of sub 10 knot winds. It was great to really see the boats in a variety of conditions.  With any new class, there will be refining in how the boats are sailed, but I still think the 400 performed very well against (even or better) boats of similar size.

I personally had a fantastic time at Key West Race Week 2012. I was very pleased with how the 400 went upwind and the downwind ride exceeded my already lofty expectations. Everyone on the crew has a purpose, beyond hiking, and contributes to sailing the boat. From the trimming perspective, the athwartship jib tracks allow you to set the headsails up exactly how you want to. The most common questions all week about the 400 dealt with a full bow. One of the best ways to understand this feature is to sail the boat downwind. You'll be at the leeward mark before you know it. Luckily the drop line system will help with turning the corner to go back upwind. The more we used the drop line during the week, the more I grew to like and appreciate its usefulness. Overall the Farr 400 is a stable, well mannered, speedy boat with a blossoming one design class and a bright future. I'm looking forward to sailing more on the Farr 400s in the future.

- Emerson Smith,


KWRW 2012 - Day 3 Racing - Farr 400 Class

Day 2 report from Emerson Smith sailing on Sled Shelhorse's Farr 400 MERIDIAN X.

No wind today! The race committee waited most of the day for the breeze to fill in, but in the end we stayed on shore. However, lack of racing gives me a chance to talk about the boats a bit.

This is my first event sailing on the Farr 400. I was involved in the design of the boat, and it is always good to see ideas come to life. Along the same lines, seeing what works and what needs to be tweaked or altered in incredibly useful. In general the boats go upwind very well. The full bow alters the motion a bit, but you soon realize the difference is a benefit to boat speed. The 400 mainly goes over the waves instead of through, submerging less into each.

As I've said before, downwind the boat really comes alive. We are able to maintain high average speeds, while many other boats are simply surfing or rocking and rolling through the waves. The large rudder offers plenty of bite and allows us to point the boat where we want.

Outside of the sailing attributes, the pedestal driven primaries and the drop line system are what have really stood out for me. The pedestal allows you to take the power of the crew and put it to use more efficiently; whether it's in a tack, gybe, hoist or take down. Using the drop line, lead to a powered primary winch, makes take downs so much easier. No longer do we need half the crew on the foredeck to gather in the large spinnaker. By using the drop line, we suck the majority of the spinnaker in through the forward hatch. This translates to more options at leeward marks and better roundings.

We are still learning new things about the boats each day, but from what I have seen so far, this is a class with a bright future.

KWRW 2012 - Day 2 Racing - Farr 400 Class

Day 2 report from Emerson Smith sailing on Sled Shelhorse's Farr 400 MERIDIAN X...

Seeing the forecast for the remainder of the week, the race committee made the call to begin racing early on Tuesday, in hopes of getting in 3 races. The breeze was a bit lighter today, in the 10-15 knot range, but turned out to be plenty to allow 3 good races.
Similar to yesterdays racing, the fleet has remained very tight. RED has started to slowly separate themselves at the front of the fleet. The years they have spent racing together in competitive one-design fleets are coming in handy.

We had a bow, to bow finish with 403 in the first race yesterday, losing by a nose to fall to 4th. Race 2 of the day was marred by a bad spinnaker hoist, which dropped us to 5th. Race 3 of the day, went a bit better as we were leading around the first two marks. RED slowly reeled us in and passed us, while we hung on for 2nd.
All in all it was a great day of sailing. Everyone is definitely still on the steep slope of the learning curve. Weather for Wednesday looks light so cross your fingers for some breeze.

KWRW 2012 - Day 1 Racing - Farr 400 Class

Day 1 report from Emerson Smith sailing on Sled Shelhorse's Farr 400 MERIDIAN X...

Well the weather forecasters got it right today. They predicted a similar day to yesterday in terms of wind speeds and we got it. Winds were anywhere from 15-20 knots with gusts a bit higher. The key to the day would be avoiding the big mistakes.

The first race of the day for the Farr 400's started just before lunch. It was a clean start with most of the fleet digging into the left. True to one-design form, all 5 boats reached the weather mark within a minute of each other. We had a clean set and the fun really started. Like yesterday, the speedo was camped out around 18 knots with trips into the low 20s. On Meridian X we had a clean race and crossed the line in 2nd.

For race 2 the race committee called for a 5 leg course (finish upwind). On the second downwind, while in 3rd, and having a pretty good run, our big mistake of the day came. We were hit by surprisingly powerful gust which put us into a broach. While recovering we lost the use of our starboard wheel. We proceeded to hookup the back up tiller and steered the rest of the race (1 upwind leg) with that. All in all, our mistake didn't hurt as much as some others and we finished 3rd in the race.
Our 2,3 on the day is good for a share of second place with the tie-breaker going against us. Congratulations to RED, who scored a 1,1 today and are 3 points clear of the next boats.

We have our work list for the afternoon but nothing that will prevent us from sailing tomorrow. The forecast calls for a bit less breeze and I'd imagine the racing will tighten up even more.

Key West Race Week 2012

A few of the FYD team made their way to KWRW over the weekend to take part in the racing and Farr 400 One Design class support, in particular, Emerson Smith.  Emerson is a Naval Architect and Marine Engineer who has been with the FYD team since 2008.  After a good day of practice, he reports the following:

"Every year hundreds of sailors flock to Key West in the middle of January. This year I am sailing on Sled Shelhorse's, MERIDIAN X, one of our new Farr 400 One Design's. Yesterday, Key West showed why so many sailors make this trip each year. Sunday is the last practice day before racing begins so we arrived to the boat a bit early to complete the last few items on our work list. We quickly ticked off what was needed and left the dock around 10am. Once out from behind the shelter of the island we found a steady 15-20 knots with gusts to 25. It was the first time that we had the entire crew sailing together, although there are a large group of regulars. We managed to put the sails up and down, while doing a few laps. Nothing too exciting, but I did come away with some general thoughts.

It was my first chance to sail the Farr 400 is any kind of substantial wind. Call me a homer, but I was thoroughly impressed. The boat settled into a nice groove upwind and REALLY comes alive downwind. We were able to point the boat where we needed and were rewarded with speeds in the high teens to low 20s.
Conditions tomorrow should be very similar to today. I'm looking forward to the Farr 400's having their own start and getting everyone lined up and sailing together. Check back later for an update. Hopefully the internet here (SLOW!) will allow for some pictures or video."

YDTS at the 2011 WRYF by Patrick Shaughnessy

This year I was fortunate enough to be asked to deliver the key note address at the Yacht Design and Technology Symposium which is part of the World Yacht Racing Forum held in Estoril Portugal.

In way of back ground I would first have to say that Estoril Portugal is a beautiful spot and fortunate to have such a friendly and welcoming people. Each time I have been there I have stayed at the Palacio Estoril Hotel which is a gorgeous place to visit.

The conference itself is a well organized event put on by the Informa Yacht Group and is divided into two separate distinct parts. The Design and Technology portion of which I was part attracts numerous noteworthy industry experts who speak to a number of very relevant and interesting technology subjects. The Yacht Racing Forum attracts the business and sailor side of the sport and speaks to trends, sponsorship, and business interests in our sport.

For the attendees it certainly is a difficult choice which side to sit on as both portions offer very interesting discussions which would interest anyone in our sport. Between the various discussions, both groups empty out into a hall for refreshments or lunch which offers a great opportunity to catch up with your peers and to meet that elusive contact. Certainly there are excellent networking opportunities to be had. I always come away from this sort of opportunity impressed with the great people in our sport and the genuine want to make something really special. Very encouraging.

I would strongly encourage anyone with an interest in how the technology of the sport works, or wondering how the who’s will use what to keep us all sailing in the future to attend in 2012. December is a wonderful time to visit a warm place like Estoril.

For more info check out http://www.worldyachtracingforum.com/index.html