BoDream News/ T-Minus 4 Days Til’ Departure!

I’m back in La Rochelle, France after a short holiday in London and Ireland. Had the great opportunity to meet up with the London Office of William Blair, and share some stories. Great folks there, and one fun story to share … a typical Rearick story!

The plan was to meet at HIX Restaurant in the SoHo district, and I arrived a bit late after a couple of twists and turns on the subway (called the “tube” in London.) I explained to the hostess that I was meeting a group for dinner and she, without any hesitation, pointed me to the room down the stairs. I walked down and into a room full of suits and ties, and figured I was in the right place. Though I didn’t recognize anyone, I heard talk in the background of financial market conditions, and so I relaxed, ordered a beer and began to circulate. After a few minutes of conversation with one group of guys … (of course, you can imagine I wasn’t really dressed the part) … I finally thought to ask if this was in fact, the William Blair party. After a good chuckle, we figured out I was at the wrong party, though curiously enough, this firm does business with William Blair – so all was good. I excused myself, thanked them for my beer and went in search of my party. When I arrived at the proper table, beer in hand, they all knew where I’d been, as they had watched me walk in and disappear down the stairs. Well, what good would a sailor be, if he couldn’t walk into a strange party, tell a good story and get a free beer?

In London, I got a chance to take in some of the high points, especially the Maritime Museum in Greenwich. What an interesting place to visit, complete with the famous Cutty Sark heself, outside “on the hard.” The Cutty Sark, a clipper ship of the tea trading days, which long held the speed record of 73 days for its outbound passage from London to Australia back in 1874.

Cutty Sark Clipper Ship 1874

From London, I took a train and then a ferry to Dublin and spent a couple of days drenching myself in Irish culture and music. Way too short a time to spend, but circumstances being what they are, it was all I had, and a bit was a whole lot better than none at all.

So, now I’m back in La Rochelle, where it’s still raining. Bodacious Dream has been drying out and being looked after by good friends Pat and Michelle of the Croix du Sud, who are also planning on competing in the Global Ocean Race as a double-handed team. I’ll be spending the next couple of days doing the last minute preparations necessary before leaving La Rochelle and France, and then sailing for home on Wednesday. Jobs will include provisioning, water, sorting and packing, weather routing and maintenance.

Fellow sailor with Bodacious Racing, John Hosking has been keeping track of the weather and providing routing guidance for the trip back. So far, it looks like a decent start to the trip, but after a week or so, it gets a bit confusing with a few lows building and moving into my desired path. As you may know, low pressure systems are typically the systems that bring stormy wind and rain. Finding a route between them that still sustains good winds is what we call routing. It will be interesting to see how the whole weather systems play out, as the typical Atlantic weather is somewhat mixed up at the moment. There is an old saying—“Sail south until the butter melts, and then head west with the tradewinds.”  The trade winds are steady winds that blow in consistent directions through the tropical zones. These winds blow from the East toward North America in this area of the Atlantic, and so provided good sailing for the old trading vessels like the Cutty Sark … hence the name Trade Winds!

Here’s what our computer routing programs look like to us.Navigation Routing Display

The black line is the course to the Azores, south west of France. The Red line is one route by the computer, the blue line another. They are determined by computer weather models. The various shades of color represent wind strengths … blues being lighter, greens to yellows being heavier. The wind strengths are represented by the “flag” type symbols. You can see that some have one “feather” on them, while others have one and a half or two. Each full feather is 10 knots of wind, a half is 5 knots.  So, a feather and a half is 15 knots, two feathers is 20 knots. If you think of it as the feather on the back of an arrow, that is the direction of the wind.

So, just a few more days here in France. This afternoon, since it’s Sunday and most of France takes Sundays off, I’m going to try to make some time to travel north to the seaside town of Les Sables-d’Olonne, where the VendĂ©e Global Race is scheduled to begin on November 10th.

The Vendée Globe, begun in 1989, is the evolved version of the Golden Globe Race of 1968 when the first person, Robin Knox-Johnston, sailed his boat non-stop around the world in about 312 days. Nowadays, the race is filled with state-of-the-art, carbon fiber Open 60 sailing machines, each still manned by just one person, with the goal of racing around the world nonstop. The winners in this race typically take less than 90 days for the passage. The Vendée Globe, like the Global Ocean Race and the Velux 5 Oceans Race, are the premier solo world circumnavigation events.

There’s always a lot of discussion as to what would be harder … non-stop or stops in a circumnavigation. What would you think? Some say non-stop … some say stopping. With non-stop, once you build your lead, your strategy is just to stay ahead and not break anything. In the stopped version, you restart even at each port. Each leg then is a new race, and so you sail with a different strategy. Interesting question isn’t it? No doubt, 90 to 100 days, constantly racing your 60 foot boat is a great test of human endurance and fortitude. Check out progress on the VendĂ©e Globe at www.vendeeglobe.org.

Well, enjoy your day. I’ll send out one more update before I depart on Wednesday. Then I’ll be relying again on my friends at Firm Solutions to help forward news of my passage to you through these newsletters, the BD website and Facebook. My plan is to send out news along the route through our onboard satellite communication system – hopefully!

- Dave

BoDream News/ It Begins with a Bang!

Wow… what a great day of racing!! With 18 boats in the event, the racing is extremely top-notch and in very close quarters. It’s been totally full on from the starting gun through to the end of today’s races, with leads changing all the time.

We left the dock at 7:15 this morning just before sunrise, because of the tides and the lock/harbor entrance schedules. The first race went off at 9:00 am.

There was a slight time delay, but as the starting sequence of five minutes began, the boats began to work out their starting strategies and positions. The way sail races begin is with a five-minute countdown… you can’t cross the starting line until the gun goes off at the end of the five-minute countdown… so you try to position your boat so it’s at full speed to take maximum advantage of the winds and smoothly hit the timing of the start.

Class 40 Worlds at the Start

We started at the front of the pack, but quickly enough there was a general recall… meaning the line judge wasn’t able to see all the boats clearly, and so they restarted the race. On the second start, we were in an equally perfectly position with a clear lane for a fast start. We held our position and were the second boat around the first mark… working hard with winds in the high teens and low twenties. We went back and forth with the leaders the whole time, but ended up in fifth position just a boat length behind Mare – one of the race favorites, but all of the boats were very close in their finishes.

The second race was a long distance harbor race with 7 marks and about 25 miles to the finish. Again, we started strong and held onto a top position working our way up to third rounding the last mark. Confused by the translated sailing instructions, we misunderstood which mark would be used for the finish, and hoisted our A3 spinnaker, when we should have used our A4. With the boats as close as they were, this miscalculation cost us three positions, and so we ended up that race in sixth position.

Bodacious Dream in the Class 40 Worlds

Though we weren’t up front, our finishes were still quite respectable within the fleet of 17 boats.

It was a day of great sailing and of demanding performances under a variety of conditions. One leg across the harbor at 8 miles long went by so quickly, it was almost a shame. With Bodacious Dream skipping through French waters at speeds between 17 and 21 knots, it only took 20 some minutes!! All in all, it was a great thrill, and we are all very excited about racing again tomorrow.

Given this was our first time racing as a crew, and that we only had a couple of quick hour-long practices, we are confident we will continue to get better as the regatta continues. And I have to say, what a thoroughly great group of guys to sail with – happy, fun, energetic and excited to be taking part in a World Championship.

We’ll continue to try to bring you updates from the water as best we can. Until then… time for some much needed rest before the pre-dawn boat call tomorrow.

- Dave and the Bodacious Dream Crew

P.S. In addition to our own BoDream Facebook Page, the Class 40 Association has a Facebook page too, which while it is in French, looks like it will have lots of photos. We’ll pull the best ones… (i.e. the ones of BoDream anyway!) and post them on our FB page.

Normandy Channel – BD Update – Day 3

Hello everyone from the southern Coast of England!!
(50 deg 16.9615 N Latitude/ 002 deg 28.1460 Longitude)

We are about 15 miles South of Weymouth, England where earlier today we played some serious “Etch-O-Sketch” with the GPS Chart Plotter that keeps track of our navigation. We’ve learned some difficult lessons about ocean current here in the past few days. Yesterday, being just outside the grasp of wind put us behind and into an adverse current, and it took another tide cycle before we were able to enter the “Solent” and circumnavigate the Isle of Wright.

Today, again with the Etch-O-Sketch, I was diligently trying to catch the competitor just in front of us, when we noticed a different look to the wind and water. Heading up, we were able to sail into wind, and the competitor just missed it. That started a couple hour battle where the objective was to sail as fast as we could to counter the adverse 4 knot current – though seldom negating it altogether. We started a large circle, which we could see inscribed on the Etch-O-Sketch. Quite amusing, but more interesting is that we never went backwards through the whole, large mile-sized circle!! As we sailed forward at 3 knots, the 4 knot current drove us backwards and around in a loop!

We had a similar experience yesterday when with no wind, we were sent back and forth – east and west, across the entrance to the Solent waiting for wind, before realizing that it not being there at that moment was actually a good thing, as we couldn’t make forward progress, and so would likely have had to anchor and wait for the tide change anyway.

So, it’s been an interesting trip so far, to say the least. Frustrating for sure, as the current has not been our only issue; we have a compromised jib as well. In the recent repair of the batten pockets, somehow the leach cord, an internal trim line, had been severed. The result is that we aren’t as beautifully efficient an upwind sailing machine as we usually are.. and most this race so far, has been light and upwind!

But on the good side.. we are sailing on a beautiful day in the English Channel! It’s sunny with a crisp temperature, but a beautiful 9 knot wind and relatively flat waters. Even though we missed the current cycle last night, we had a beautiful sail through the Solent and around the Isle of Wright.. a famous spot from sailing history as the first America’s Cup race in 1851 was around the Isle of Wight.

Bodacious Dream at the start of the Normandy Race
Bodacious Dream at the start of the Normandy Channel (Photo by Sam Holliday)
In any case, we finally got some wind late in the day and sailed the last ten miles with our new William Blair spinnaker, which looked and sailed beautifully. Once in the Solent, we were able to sync with the tides and sail around the island and out the Western entrance.. all under the beauty of the setting sun and rising moon. Quiet, peaceful, not real fast – but forward – so we were quite happy. Needless to say, these two events make up for the time we spent assessing the latest position reports….Ugh!!

Right now, with the weather in front of us and our inability to sail as efficiently upwind, it looks like we may not finish the race until Tuesday or even later. There is a big high ridge that will block all of us for an extended period of time, not long after rounding Fastnet Rock. Such is the sport of Yacht Racing.

Until later.. hope you all had a great Labor day!! In the U.S. that’s the holiday that marks the end of the summer. And for those of you elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, hope you’ve having a great end of Summer. And for our friends in New Zealand.. winter’s almost over and summer’s on its way!!

- Dave (and Matt)

QuĂ©bec to St-Malo – BD Update – Day 14

Good Morning Everyone!!

I awoke from my off-watch this morning to the first sighting of France. The opposite watch was thoughtful enough to provide a sunrise to go along with it. What a joy!! This past week of North Atlantic weather has brought us little sunshine or warmth. We are all in higher spirits, as we can easily track the mileage left to sail. 3000 miles becomes 1000 miles and then 500, 250 then 100 and less than 40 and now just a short sail. We are excited to see a competitor we’ve caught and hope there may be one more in our target sights before the finish. We’ve sailed hard to come back from the depths of the ranks after a few problems. In just a few hours, we’ll be celebrating and laughing having finished our first Atlantic crossing – a milestone for many a sailor and we are certainly among them now.

Just want to thank all our friends that have supported our sailing along the way and throughout our lives, and who have encouraged and helped us to reach for our dreams. Thanks too to Mark and Dean Petrakis who have created our new web presence and have been getting the updates posted and to you all. Great guys!! Thanks to Henri Lloyd for the foul weather gear…it has been blessed and thanked for many times in the past two weeks!! Thanks to Watershed for their waterproof bags… they do float and keep things dry…field tested right here! And a very special thank you to our sponsors William Blair for their support and to Earthwatch Institute for all they do to support the environment and education of it. This ocean is a beautifully amazing place. I’ll tell you more in the coming days..

Remember to Dream Bodaciously. We do!!

Thanks everyone.

- Dave, Matt, Mark and Emma

Bodacious Dream Update (7.05.12)

BIG NEWS!  Bodacious Dream is now entered in the Transat Quebec—St. Malo race which starts on July 22nd!!

After much thought and consideration, we decided to enter the race. Not only will this be good fun, but it will give us the opportunity to make the trans-Atlantic crossing in order to get to France for our other races later this summer.

Check out the race web site at.. www.transatquebecstmalo.com

The race requires a crew minimum of 3 and we are going as a team of 4. Along with Matt Scharl, who you met during the Atlantic Cup Race, we will be adding Emma Creighton, www.emmacreighton.net , a fellow competitor and skipper of Initiatives in the Atlantic Cup and Mark Zaranski, a long time friend and crewmember of Matt’s.

We will be a great and fun team. And, at this point, the only American entry. I’ve heard from so many of you about how much fun it was to watch the racing in the Atlantic Cup, so I hope we will be able to provide you the same fun this time.

My good friend, Kevin Finnegan has just arrived here in Newport to help me transport Bodacious Dream around Nova Scotia, Canada and then back west up the St. Lawrence Seaway to Quebec City for the Start. We are rushing to try to leave the harbor here on July 4th figuring the trip will take us about 8 days—hopefully not too much motoring. We hear this is a wonderful and beautiful passage, and are looking forward to it. I’ll send more pics from the trip later!!

MORE EXCITING NEWS: The announcement of our sponsors.

William Blair, a Chicago based Global Investment and Asset Management Company will bring a great presence to our program.

Earthwatch Institute, an international environmental group that links support to scientist and educators in the environmental field. We will be providing them with raw data and observation while at sea that will be used by scientist and teachers to help with ocean health and awareness.

So… Bodacious Dream is sporting a new look today as we head out to sea.

Bodacious Dream

Hoping those of you in the USA had a great July 4th holiday and everyone is having a great summer…..or winter – if you’re in the southern hemisphere. I’ll send a more detailed update on the whole race in a week or so.
- Dave