“Talking Sailing” by Richard Crockett – issue 26

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issue – 26
9 December 2014

by Richard Crockett

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‘Tis the season to be jolly!

As most readers are rapidly winding down towards their annual year-end break it’s appropriate to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and a very happy and prosperous new year.

With Eskom keeping us in the dark and feeding us on bullshit, here’s a useful tip and stocking filler too. Over the years I have reviewed several different headcams, and while they are a must on board at night, they now have another use too – domestically around the house. The latest Jetbeam HC20 boasts brightness of 800 lumens, is lightweight and comfortable too.

So, as a stocking filler for Christmas, get one for each member of the family. They will definitely prevent you stumbling over the furniture, the dog and dinging your shins during load-shedding. Check them out at: www.jetbeam.co.za

Talking About…
• The Volvo Ocean Race OBRs
• Team Vestas Wind – What went Wrong?
• Someone With a Sense of Humour
• Someone With A Warped Sense of Humour!
• Wow! Did I Get My Knuckles Rapped!
• Donald Alexander – A Singlehander in the Making?
• Youth Nationals
• Sandefjord ; Her Voyage Around the World – DVD Available
• A Lasting Christmas Gift – Give a Subscription to SAILING Magazine
• Thanks Are Always Appreciated
• A Kind and Very Generous Gesture From An Old Sailor
• I Like This!
• Nautical Superstitions
• Some Selected Responses to “Talking Sailing”
• The Bitter End

The Volvo Ocean Race OBRs
I continue to marvel at the absolutely brilliant job the onboard reporters (OBRs) do during the Volvo Ocean Race. The information, pics and video footage which comes off the boats is absolutely world class. The OBRs are exceptional guys who work under very difficult conditions – how many people would be able to work on a bucking bronco – and produce exceptionally high quality material at the same time?

The role of the OBR was highlighted when Team Vestas Wind hit the brinks. The OBR, Brian Carlin, kept the cameras rolling throughout the period, and what’s more he had the blessing of the skipper, Chris Nicholson, to catch all the action ‘warts ‘n all’ and be open and honest about the entre situation.

In this country we are used to all controversy being swept under the carpet or censored, so this honest approach was refreshing.

Team Vestas Wind – What went Wrong?
I have always admired Chris Nicholson as he is a no-nonsense highly competent guy, so when his boat hit the bricks, he was man enough to admit openly that ‘human error’ played a role. How many others would have done that, and how many would have let the cameras catch all the action? As a result we have seen some absolutely dramatic footage of ‘that crash’, and great stills too of the boat on the reef, the damage and the mop-up operation.

While their crash is not good for our sport, nor the Volvo Ocean Race, it does highlight the fact that electronic navigation can, and does, have limitations. I don’t want to regurgitate all the gory details and some really cruel comments on facebook about this here, but one needs to consider some implications of electronic navigation.

All electronic navigation users have constantly been warned over the years that some remote reefs and islands may not be exactly where they are on the charts – both paper and electronic. Many were surveyed hundreds of years ago, or by locals using primitive methods, so one has always been warned to take a wide berth.

In the case of electronic charts, and particularly with Vestas Wind, unless one really drills down into the chart by zooming right in, some shallows can be missed easily. No excuses for not zooming in – and the Vestas Wind navigator has also manned up to this fact.

This is not the first incident like this, or will it be the last. In the 2010 Clipper Round the World Race boat, City of Cork, hit a reef in the Java Sea and sunk – and that reef was 1000 metres east of its charted position!

Another theory about this crash is that the VOR boats are quite simply under-crewed. There are just 8 sailing crew as the OBR plays absolutely no role in sailing the boat. For a 65-footer that is being sailed to its optimum 100% of the time – day in and day out – it’s easy for fatigue to become a very real issue. Take the fact that the navigator, who is also the weather router, needs to spend a ton of time researching the route and different routing options, he probably has a full-time job even before he gets on deck to crew. The skipper is often not on a set watch, but roves as he too has major responsibilities and is the person ultimately responsible for making the calls a to where the boat goes.

Basically, in previous races the skipper and navigator have not always been part of the watch system. In this race these guys are doing both – so sleep is short and fatigue undoubtedly played a major role in the demise of the Vestas Wind boat.

Having said this, the question everyone really wants to know is simply this : Did the navigator fall asleep at a critical time?

Someone With a Sense of Humour
Despite the tragic loss of Team Vestas Wind, the following popped up on Gumtree not long after her incident:

One slightly used Volvo Ocean 65 Class – if you collect it, you can have it. It’s at this link :

Someone With a Warped Sense of Humour!
“Only two sailors in my experience, never ran aground. One never left port and the other was an atrocious liar.” – Don Bamford

The corollary to that is simply this:
There are two types of navigator – those who have run aground, and those who haven’t – yet!

Wow! Did I Get My Knuckles Rapped!
In the last issue of “Talking Sailing” I spoke at length of sailing with the ‘girls’ of SCA. Well a USA-based reader rapped me severely over the knuckles as I use both the term ‘girls’ and ‘ladies’. They are neither as they are simply ‘Women’.

Now you know – and so do I!

Donald Alexander – A Singlehander in the Making
Mention the Name Campbell Alexander and most yachties in the country will recognise it and know that he is a fanatical Laser sailor – and a good one too. Few people know his brother Donald – yet he too is a fine sailor and kite-boarder. Donald was in fact selected for the first ever SA Intervarsities sailing team way back in the mid-‘70s.

Having known him since school days I mention this as a chance meeting in February this year had us reminiscing about the ‘gold old sailing days’. That was until he hit me with the fact that he seriously wanted to get a 60-footer and do some singlehanded sailing. To cut the proverbial long story short, I persuaded him that a 60-footer may be a little too much to chew on, but that a Class 40 would suit him perfectly. Having chatted further I put him in touch with Phillippa Hutton-Squire and Nick Leggatt – and the rest is history as they say.

On 5 August I received this mail from Donald:
“It is a while since Campbell’s 60th and your advice to me that the only way to cross the Atlantic solo is a Class 40. Some of the best advice I have ever received.

And you also referred me to Phillippa in Hamble.

Well, a lot has happened since then, all starting with you, as you can see from the attached pics. They were taken yesterday evening after a 2 day maiden voyage from La Trinite in France where I took delivery of Fitz from a very pleasant German who was eager to sell. She is virtually brand new, only 5000nm and 130 hours on engine. She is beautiful and, inspired by her numbers (and various other reasons), I have renamed her Power of One.

As an aside, your referral to Phillippa was inspired. She has been absolutely amazing and introduced me to other members of the Class 40 clan like Paul Peggs and Nick Leggatt – both of whose help has been invaluable. And such good people.

Richard, the journey has started and, without you, I wouldn’t have got to first base. So, from me, a very big thank you!”

In October he communicated that he had initially based himself in France, then La Coruna on the north west tip of Spain having crossed the Bay of Biscay. His destination was Grenada – and he made that passage across the Atlantic safely and singlehanded.

In a mail to me, having docked, he simply said the following: “There is no question that this was the greatest experience of my life and one good thing coming out of it is that I am pretty clear that there is no inclination to sail solo around the world or to become a cruiser going from port to port.”

Well done Donald – just a pity that you will not be following in the wake of our South African singlehanded greats – yet anyway, but hopefully in the not too distant future?

Youth Nationals
This event starts in a few days time as our youth compete for the various class ‘national’ titles.

These are always hotly contested affairs where lifetime friendships are forges with like-minded people from around the country. The competition is usually healthy and conducted in a sportsmanlike manner.

Sometimes the atmosphere of these events is charged by over zealous parents, often those who have never sailed themselves, who believe that their offspring has been unjustly treated on the water or in the protest room. I must remind these parents, and indeed all parents who will be there, that the sport has a comprehensive rule book that has been fine-tuned over many years, and that protests are simply part of sailing. When handled by competent protest committees, the results are usually fair and correct.

Some years back a New Zealander David Pearce wrote a book entitled ‘How to be a successful Optiparent.’ It’s something all parents with kids competing in regattas should read, as it offers excellent advice to every parent irrespective of what their children sail. The fact that it has been written by an Optimist parent is why the class is singled out.

To me, one of the best pieces of advice the book gives is the following extract, in bold and underlined in the book:
‘Leave the coaching to the coaches and maintain your role as a support person. Never question a coach’s decision – if you feel you need to express coaching opinions, go and do the Yachting New Zealand coaching courses. Please don’t interfere with the trained professional – their job is difficult enough as it is without having their judgement questioned’.

I also like the description of OptiParent and OptiKid which is as follows:
‘OptiParent (N); Parent who shares the ownership of an Optimist dinghy and all the hopes and dreams that come with ownership, with one or more OptiKids’.

‘OptiKid (N): child enjoying the great adventure of learning more about the Optimist every time they go sailing together’.

Sailing is a ‘great adventure of learning’. It’s a life-skill and a lifetime sport. That’s what makes our sport unique, ad so great. Let’s keep it that way during the youth nationals.

Sandefjord ; Her Voyage Around the World – DVD available.
This DVD is now sold in aid of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI). The cost is R100 per disk – and orders can be placed by e-mailing:

This DVD tells the story of six spirited adventurers – five young men and a woman – who refitted a battered 50 year old ketch in Durban, and sailed her westward; through the islands of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian; around the world in 627 days.

The disk is sold as film maker and crewman Barry Cullen designed it in 1990 after he transferred the original 1967 vintage 16mm movie to digital. For those who love sailing, it is a collector’s item … and for those who do not understand why people sal … this will have you hooked.

It is quite simply a beautifully told story.

In 1913 Sandefjord was launched at Risör, Norway, the 28th ketch built for the Norwegian Lifeboat Society. These study wooden sailing craft, designed by the legendary Colin Archer, were built to put to sea t the first sign of a storm and to assist vessels in distress. During her 22 years’ service, Sandefjord was attributed with saving 117 lives and assisting 258 vessels through fog and storm to safety.

After being sold out of the lifeboat service in 1935 she was owned and sailed, first by Norwegian Erling Tambs who completed three Transatlantic passages in her and later, in the care of Tilly Penso, she sailed under the burgee of the Royal Cape Yacht club for almost 25 years. Sold out of his estate in 1961, the ketch passed through a quick succession of owners, the last of whom all but abandoned her as a rotting hulk in Durban.

It was a desperately sad shadow of the once proud and gallant Sandefjord that was found, half sunk at her moorings by the Durban brothers Barry and Patrick Cullen in 1963. The task of refitting her required almost two years of had work before she was ready for sea. She was taken from the water, stripped of all doubtful planks and timbers and slowly restored to a state of complete seaworthiness.

Finally, in February 1965, Sandefjord was ready. She was provisioned for 400 days and with her complement of five young men and a girl, she sailed from Durban on what proved to be her greatest adventure yet.

Through the West Indies, Panama Canal … and on into the mighty Pacific. Sandefjord made her landfalls in the exotic South Seas in much the same way as Cook and other early navigators. Without exception, she was well met at all her ports of call. She made friends easily … for herself and her crew … as loyal and devoted a crew as any ship could ever wish to have.

Sandefjord sailed 30,279 nautical miles in 21 months in this memorable circumnavigation, receiving a thrilling homecoming welcome in Durban, Tuesday, 8th November 1966.

This film is dedicated to the Crew of the Sandefjord.

For copyright reasons NSRI regrets, this movie is not available in the USA, Canada or Caribbean Islands.

A Lasting Christmas Gift – A subscription to SAILING Magazine
Need a gift for a loved one, sailing friend or crew? A subscription to SAILING Magazine will last the whole year round as we produce 12 issues per year – and it costs just R250 per year.

Call 031-7096087 or e-mail: derri@sailing.co.za

Subscriptions are available as a printed magazine OR a digital e-zine. Your choice.

Thanks Are Always Appreciated
The difference between being a sportsman – or woman (remember I was rapped over the knuckles about this!) – is that sportsmanship is a key ingredient in being a great sport – or simply being known as one who is rude and dismissive of those who give back to allow competitors to have their time on the water.

I recently received the following report written by Taalia Naidoo, and feel that it’s worth sharing as this young woman is going places in our sport – and she recognises those who have assisted her passage.

“The RS Tera World Sailing Championship was held in July this year at the Pine Lake Marina Resort, Western Cape. The event, generally called the RS Tera Worlds, is held every year in a different country. This is the first time the Tera Worlds was held in South Africa. The previous 2 years it was held in England and Italy while next year, 2015, it will be held in the Netherlands. There are two classes of boats that sail in the Tera Worlds, the Sport and Pro classes. The Sport class is for youth up to age 16 and the Pro class for youth up to age 19. I participated in the Sport Class.

Two years ago it was announced that South Africa would host the 2014 Tera Worlds. All South African youth sailors were very excited as it was a chance to see and attend a world championship event in our country. I was sailing an Optimist boat at the time and decided to change to the Tera which would give me a chance to practice on the Tera. Fortunately, there was a group of sailors in Durban sailing the Tera and we often practised together.

Through 2013 I participated in our KZN points series league competition and was fortunate to achieve 1st place in the Tera Class. I also participated in the KZN and Vaal Provincial events where I managed 1st places. The SA Youth National Sailing Championship was held at Midmar Dam in December 2013; I managed to secure a first place in the Tera Sport class. I got used to the boat and thought with a bit of luck I could do reasonably at the Worlds in July/Aug 2014.

The Worlds was a big event with sailors from many countries and international judges. It was my first experience at a Worlds event, although I did attend two African Continental Championships sailing the Optimist boat. The competition started well for me as I was lying third after the first day and close to the top sailors. Unfortunately, I got severe flu and sinusitis after the first day and had to take a lot of medication and almost had to retire. The weather was extremely cold and I managed to hang on through the competition for the next 5 days and luckily finished in 2nd place on the podium amongst the girls and 4th overall with girls and boys combined. I was really happy with the result because I had been sailing this new class of boat for only about 7 months before the event.

The best thing about sailing in these open events is that you make friends from so many countries. During the event there is something arranged every night for the sailors to have fun and interact with youth sailors from all over. You get to see that children from other countries have mostly the same likes and dislikes that we have here in SA.

We met the President of the International RS Tera Class Association who personally invited all podium finishers to the Dutch event next year. I hope I may be able to attend the Worlds in Holland in 2015 (school work and travel costs?). The event is being held offshore and should be quite exciting as I believe they get ‘big winds’.

I am really thankful to the coaches who taught me so much over the past few years. I must also say a big “Thank you” to the Principals and teachers at Eden College for always supporting and encouraging me with my sailing.

A Kind and Very Generous Gesture From An Old Sailor
Chris Phillips is a well-known inland sailor who campaigned his F1 around the country for many years.

After receiving the last “Talking Sailing” he advised me that “Because of my age and physical condition I have had to give up sailing”.

That in itself is a pity as I never like to see anyone hang up their sea boots as ours is a lifetime sport.

Instead of selling his yacht ‘Radio Holland’ Chris gave it to his friend and crew Dale Hamman in appreciation for his friendship and the wonderful times they sailed together and raced as a team.

Chris that’s an awesomely generous and kind gesture.

I Like This!
“Christmas is a time when everybody wants his past forgotten and his present remembered.” – Phyllis Diller.

Observation: Why is Christmas just like your job? You do all the work and the fat guy in the suit gets all the credit.

Nautical Superstitions
Cutting one’s hair, nail trimming and beard shaving at sea, in days of yore, were seen as a big no-no.

Some Selected Responses to “Talking Sailing”
●  Thank you Richard. Enjoyed, Keep up the good work!

●  Great read, as always.

● Thanks, That was good to read.

●  Well done – as I travel this world I can really say that I look forward to receiving your e-mail and the informative content therein.

The Bitter End – So Who Wins the Award?
As this is the last “Talking Sailing” for the year, it’s time to judge the worst ‘Bitter End’ of the year.

Well I could not break the tie between two, so leave it to you the readers to make the final call on these two:

The ‘Jiggery Pokery’ that made a mockery of the J22 Nationals, or, the no vote by RNYC members NOT to merge with the PYC.

The ‘Bitter End’ is the inboard end of an anchor chain or rode which should be attached to the vessel so as not to be lost overboard in it’s entirety. In terms of “Talking Sailing” it’s things about our sport which get up peoples noses!

“Talking Sailing” is written by Richard Crockett, the Publisher & Editor of SAILING Magazine, South Africa’s monthly sailing mag.

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