Thursday, January 28, 2010

Das Boot (Photos by Billy Black and Thierry Martinez)

Gone Sailing

We are scheduled to sail today, not across the Atlantic, but off the coast of La Rochelle, France. It will be a great test of the recent mods to the boat and get us all ready for the upcoming delivery. It was icy on deck yesterday (and snowy on deck last week) so hopefully the days will continue getting warmer. We’ll have some guests onboard including Yannick Bestaven with the Watt and Sea company, who developed the hydrogenerator technology, and a few other characters. I’ll meet the Mayor of La Rochelle later today, and I must say that this port has been more than gracious in greeting us and treating us like heroes. La Rochelle is obviously committed to the Velux 5 Oceans Race and committed to the competitors. The Port of La Rochelle is hosting the boat while here, and companies like Hydroem, Watt and Sea, Marc Lombard, Incidences, and even the local chandlery have pitched in to make it successful. More on the sail in my next report!

    Above Photo by Olivier Blanchet VELUX 5 OCEANS

The Blue Machine

Jan 27 2010

I am a fairly large guy, standing 6’1’’ (186 cm) with a barrel chest measuring about 50 inches (127 cm). So, consider that we have this very special car in France that we have coined The Blue Machine. It belongs to my friend and crewmember JC Caso and dates back to 1982.  He lives here in La Rochelle and The Blue Machine is part of his everyday life - he claims it is an “original French car," whatever that means.  I share this with you because seeing three grown men (including me) and about $500 in groceries (provisions for the Transatlantic) crammed into The Blue Machine is quite a sight.  I simply don’t know how we fit, but here is a photo to prove it!

Amazing Energy Production

Jan 26, 2010

My shore crew Jeffrey Wargo and JC Caso have been working hard in France for weeks to ready the new boat (new to me at least) for a transatlantic crossing in just a few days. We're going for a Saturday, January 30th Departure and this is not exactly the best time to do the trip!

Our mini-refit has been very productive and focused on two main tasts: Safety for the delivery to the US and specialty jobs best done here. We've had a full ultrasound of the keel done, rebuilt the hydraulics, met with boat designer Marc Lombard and sailmaker Incidences. One of the key specialty jobs has been the installation of our prototype hydro-generator system, something that we are incredibly excited about. If everything works right, this amazing technology could very well eliminate the need to carry any fossil fuels aboard for the entire trip. We'll be testing two units tomorrow along with the fully integrated electrical management system that registers the energy production aboard and the performance of the boat. Great geeky stuff for guys who love electronics, and perfect stuff for the spirit of this ECO 60 Class.

Rams By Gucci

The last two days have been busy here in La Rochelle, France on the new girl.  She's the old Proforms/Whirlpool and she is a gorgeous beast.  I'll post all her specs as soon as I can, but as you can imagine, we've been absorbed with moving through the list so that we can take advantage of the rare weather windows that open up this time of year.

We’ve been absorbed with the big job of installing the new rams for the canting keel. The keel hydraulic system is one of the biggest systems in the boat, and this is one of those specialty refits that was best done here in France, where the technology and hardware was developed. The new rams were made right here in La Rochelle by Hydroem, the company that made some of the first successful canting-keel hydraulics (think Isabelle Autissier) and also made the hydraulic unit in my old boat, Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America. They are as high quality as you can get with titanium parts, and my shore crew and I think they officially register as “Gucci.”