• Back in The Lorient. What's Next For 11th Hour Racing

    A review of the delivery of 11th Hour Racing's return delivery after the Transat Jacques Vabre to the base in Lorient France
    with Amory Ross providing the photos and the insight:

    With the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre now in the rearview mirror, team leaders Mark Towill and Charlie Enright have quickly shifted focus to the next phase of 11th Hour Racing’s campaign towards The Ocean Race in two years time.

    First up, the boat’s delivery back to Brittany, France this month. The team departed Salvador de Bahia, Brazil last Friday and are making their way across the Atlantic. The transatlantic crossing will take around two weeks to complete. After the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre, it is the first time for the team to test out the foiling IMOCA 60 during an ocean crossing in the full Ocean Race crew configuration.

    “Really looking forward to switching gears,” said Charlie of the coming weeks. “The team will be moving into crewed sailing next, which is great. It will give us the opportunity for the delivery back to get six people onboard. Try some folks out. See how we’re all going to fit, how we are going to live on board. Try some different scenarios out.”

    For Charlie, who has talked about the challenges and adjustments to sailing double-handed the past few months, it will be back to the kind of crewed sailing he is more familiar with from his past Volvo Ocean Race campaigns. And it will be the kind of sea trials and training that makes this campaign unique compared to past Volvo races when Charlie and Mark had only months of preparation time.

    I made the mistake of thinking an IMOCA 60 delivery could be boring without a sailing race going on around us. Not the reality at all!

    We are pushing this boat hard. TJV winner Charlie Dalin got a head start out of Salvador 15 hours before us, alone, on his latest generation foiler Apivia, but we rolled him on our first generation foiler during the fourth night. “I don’t think people fully understand the potential of these boats,” Charlie (Enright) said, alluding to the fact that the IMOCA boats performance numbers may be handicapped by their universal use in conservative singlehanded applications. We may be exploring some new ground out here with the full crew allotment.

    But six people onboard is going to be a lot to ask… Six days in and I don’t think anyone has come close to acclimatizing. We’re all still searching for optimal sleeping locations – nowhere seems to work too well. Leaks in the cockpit roof mean all but one or two spots are “dry,” so if you’re not driving you’re in the companionway, wet, or down below in the bilge or on a beanbag. Kind of feels like a full family trip in the minivan.

    Two nights ago was pretty surreal. Flat water, 20-25 knots of wind – we were absolutely tearing across the ocean in total and complete darkness, sitting on 30+ knots. Huddled in the cockpit staring at the maelstrom of spray and mist behind us, our wake from the foil and single leeward rudder disappearing into the dark faster than anything I had ever seen. 31, 32, 33, 34, the boat kept accelerating. No waves needed to surf, no huge amount of wind required. Just an overwhelming sensation that you were on a runaway train, surely to fly off the rails at some point. Never happened. Wild.

    Our to-do lists continue to grow but the focus lately has been a little bit more on handling our surroundings. This is a complex body of water and weather changes quickly. In an unfamiliar boat, staying ahead of the conditions is essential because decisions of consequence can creep up quickly. We’re doing our best to give Charlie a rest after his race south, but his expertise and knowledge of the platform has proven pretty essential.

    In the meantime, next big question is whether to continue our northerly route or push west, a little further into the Atlantic Ocean and away from some coastal high pressure systems and Cape Verdes wind shadows.

    Onboard Reporter, Amory Ross, gives an update on the team’s delivery run back to France on our IMOCA 60.

    General consensus on day nine is that if finally feels like a delivery. There are probably a few contributing factors there, but my guess is that we’ve [adequately] adjusted to life onboard at last. It took nine days, but bunking arrangements are pretty locked in and people are getting some rest, the galley and head routines are practiced to confidence, and what was once really foreign has suddenly become our day to day. I’m not sure going around the world this way would be recommended, but for another five days or so until France, think we will manage!

    On the sailing side, nine days has given the group plenty of opportunity to learn what life with autopilot is like. The Ocean Race hasn’t concluded what to do with autopilot, but it’s good to understand its strengths and weaknesses early. We’ve also seen just about every sail, through a variety of conditions. The sailplan is very different than a VO65 or Volvo 70, with the forestay-less furler configuration, deck-spreaders, and rotating mast.

    It’s also fair to say we’ve made plenty of mistakes – many to Charlie’s visible amusement (though he’d probably admit to having made all the same mistakes!) – but mistakes are kind of a necessary evil when it comes to learning new boats and new concepts. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way, and, for example, after a midnight weed clearing exercise gone wrong, everyone now knows where the “rudder-down” line lives, and how important it is to have pre-loaded on a winch. It’s just the beginning of the process and we’re lucky to have this time to iron out some big wrinkles.

    It also feels like we’ve entered the North Atlantic. Water and wind are noticeably cooler. The volatility of South Atlantic tropics and equatorial weather feels behind us, which makes the routing game a little easier, too. We’ve got a lingering high pressure ridge to round before latching onto a typical November Low moving East that will carry us on the rhumbline to France with little fuss, hopefully In time to talk with family back home on Thanksgiving. We’ve seen very little wildlife from inside the roofed-cockpit and the days have been short, wet and gray, but the next few look sunny and pleasant. The roof is open at the moment and it’s great to be outside again, Northern Gannets scanning our wake for lunch!

    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre Official Thread started by Photoboy View original post