Two boats, six hulls, zero fish


The latest from Spindrift 2 and IDEC as they rocket towards the Equator.


Jules Verne Trophy record attempt Day 4

And remember, Spindrift 2 is THE boat that presently holds the 45 day record. 

Position: 18 24.32’ N – 26 46.62’ W
274 miles ahead of the record holder, Banque Populaire V
Distance covered from the start: 2,254 miles
Distance traveled over 24 hours: 736.5 miles
Average speed over 24 hours: 30.7 knots

Sails: Two reefs in the mainsail, and the Solent
Area: Tradewinds of the Northern Hemisphere, Western Cape Verde, latitude of Dakar (Senegal)

 roughly the relative locations of the two tris and Henrik. Seems as though he is safe now

Roughly the relative locations of the two tris and Henrik.  Seems as though he is safe now.Spindrift 2 is to the north, IDEC  is to the south. Spindrift is over three hudred miles ahead of Banque Populaire, (that is her own pace,) for the same number of hours sailed.

Message from Dona Bertarelli:

Chatting over a coffee-grinder

“Isn’t it strange that we still haven’t seen any flying fish?” I ask Seb Audigane, who is at his post at the traveller, ready to ease off the sail immediately if the wind picks up. “It won’t be long,” he replies.

The water temperature indicator shows 22 degrees Celsius. Is it too hot or too cold for these small fish, whose wings allow them to leap out of the crest of the waves and fly several hundred metres on the water’s surface?

We’ve not seen many animals since we set off.

“We’ve not even seen any dolphins, yet we saw some at every training session on Spindrift 2,” I tell Seb.

“We’re going too fast for the dolphins,” he replies. “Only bluefin tuna can swim this fast.”

But unfortunately there aren’t many bluefin tuna, so they are a rare sight indeed. The bluefin tuna are currently listed as endangered species, so protecting them should be everyone’s responsibility. We should stop eating them to help stocks recover so that our grandchildren can see them, and perhaps also eat them.

At the current rate of consumption, there’ll be none left. Not even in aquariums, because these migratory fish travel hundreds of miles, crossing oceans at speeds of 80 km/h (50 mph).

The word tuna is derived from the Greek thuno, meaning to rush.

Image from Spindrift 2 racing, so credit to where/who ever they got it.

Image from Spindrift 2 racing, so credit to where/who ever they got it.

With torpedo-shaped streamlined bodies, Atlantic bluefin tuna are built for speed and endurance. They can even retract their fins to reduce drag, enabling them to swim through the water at incredibly high speeds. They are top ocean predators and voracious feeders, eating herring, mackerel, hake, squid and crustaceans. Unlike most fish they are warm-blooded and can regulate their temperature to keep core muscles warm during ocean crossings.

Their incredibly beautiful metallic blue topside and silver-white bottom help camouflage them from above and below, protecting them from killer whales and sharks, their main predators.

At 2-3 metres long, the Atlantic Bluefin is the largest species of tuna. One was reported to be 6 metres long! It’s incredible to think that they can dive deeper than 1 km.

When Bluefin is prepared as sushi it is one of the most valuable forms of seafood in the world. The species is listed as ‘near threatened’ on the IUCN red list. So let’s all think twice before buying some at our local markets. They might not be as cute as dolphins, but they are worth protecting!​

– See more at:


IDEC SPORT has kept up a very fast pace. Francis Joyon and his men are already off the Cape Verde Islands three days after setting sail from Ushant. The Equator is merely 1000 miles away and the record on this first stretch of the Jules Verne Trophy is set to be broken.


The record for the stretch from Ushant to the Equator

also held by Loïck Peyron and his crew on Banque Populaire V (Now Spindrift 2) since 27th November 2011 – is:

5 days, 14 hours, 55 minutes and 10 seconds.

At 0600hrs on Wednesday 25th November 2015,

IDEC SPORT was sailing at 32.9 knots at 17°32 North and 26°59 West, 90 miles West of the Cape Verde Islands. Bearing: south (201°). Lead over the record pace: 227 miles.

This long straight run will remain in the history books. The wind shadow of the Canaries is behind them and the steady NE’ly trade winds are blowing allowing IDEC SPORT to speed along at between 30 and 34 knots in the dark of night. This historic pace – two straight tacks down from Ushant –  has given us some figures which are bound to please the six men on board. For example, they have now covered more than 2000 miles since leaving Ushant. You read that right. 2000 miles in just three days and three hours. To give you an idea of what that means, if that pace continues, they would complete the voyage around the world in around thirty days, but we know that getting the time down to less than 45 days is going to be tricky.

ALREADY 2000 miles in their wake

First aerial images of IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon and his crew, training off Belle-Ile, Brittany, on october 19, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Logically at this very fast pace, the lead over the record time has increased. It was over 220 miles at 0500hrs this morning with IDEC SPORT approaching the Cape Verde Islands, which they will leave to port. Yesterday evening, the big red trimaran sailed by Francis Joyon, Bernard Stamm, Alex Pella, Clément Surtel, Boris Herrmann and Gwénolé Gahinet overtook the point Banque Populaire had reached at the end of her third day of sailing during her record run.

This morning, we can say that IDEC SPORT is 8 or 9 hours ahead of Banque Populaire. That is a lot after just three days of sailing. Remembering that at the moment IDEC SPORT is covering on average 715 miles a day and that there are just 1000 miles left to the Equator, it is likely that the record from Ushant to the line separating the two hemispheres (5 days, 15 hours) will be beaten and with a huge advance.

IDEC position versus Crois du Sud

Croix du Sud to the north EAst, IDEC to the SW, traveling at over three times the pace of the Class 40 of Henrik Masekowitz

Croix du Sud to the north EAst, IDEC to the SW, traveling at over three times the pace of the Class 40 of Henrik Masekowitz

Gryphon Solo 2: sailing solo, with two

Apparently Joe  Harris was not fully briefed on the presence on the North Atlantic of, would you believe another sailor in a Class 40 making an attempt on the 137 day record Gryphon Solo 2 is working on.

This report and challenge arrived from Gryphon Solo 2 earlier today. This is a cut and paste in italics


Joe aboard GS2- 28’21 N X 56′ 14 W on 11/20/15
Hello folks-

Today I became aware of a new competitor out here on the great Atlantic race course and that is a gentleman named Henrik Masekowitz. Henrik is from Germany and is attempting to break the same record as I am- 137 days around the world, solo, non-stop, unassisted for a monohull boat 40′ or less. Henrik started from France two days before I did and is sailing a Class 40 Akilaria RC 1 named “Croix du Sud”, whereas as I am sailing an Akilaria RC2. Both boats were designed by naval architect Marc Lombard in France and built in Tunisia by MC-Tech- Henrik’s in 2007 and GS2 in 2011. Pretty darn similar boats. I believe Henrik’s web site is: and he is also on YB tracker at

(Cooper inserts YB tracker for HM-my comments at end)

Yellow Brick tracking position for Henrik Masekowitz, Croix du Sud, at 0500z Sat 21-11-15

Yellow Brick tracking position for Henrik Masekowitz, Croix du Sud, at 0500z Sat 21-11-15

So it is “Game On” sports fans… we have a race on our hands, which is I think is what both Henrik and I were hoping for in both originally trying to do the Global Ocean Race, which is no longer happening.

So here we are- completely unexpectedly- joined on the race course around the world- but he coming from France and me coming from Newport. I think the mileages are pretty similar and we will meet up at the equator and then sail the same course around the bottom of the globe- leaving the five great capes to port and Antarctica to starboard- and ultimately around Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America and then back up to the equator and then splitting paths, with Henrik back to France and me to Newport.

Henrik's weather for 0900z on Sat.

Henrik’s weather for 0900z on Sat.

Wx chart from Passage Weather for Henrik’s area for 0900z Sat. 221-11-15. Henrik is at 33 degrees 46 mins north and 16 degrees 21 minutes west.

Henrik’s record attempt is also being reviewed by the World Speed Sailing Records Council in England as my attempt is. It’s quite ironic, isn’t it?

Upon reflection, I do think it’s pretty cool… as long as I win smile emoticon However, if I break the old record but lose to Henrik, that could potentially suck… but let’s not go there girlfriend.


Henrik 1200z Sat

The Wx chart from Passage Weather for Henrik’s area for 1200z Sat. 221-11-15

I know for a fact that this will sharpen my competitive instincts and cause me to push even harder, while remembering that you can’t win unless you finish safely.

So, Henrik- I wish you safe and fast passage… just not too fast pal… and for the first leg… I’ll wager you a bottle of fine French champagne I get to the Equator first- even with your two-day head start!

Best to all-


Henrik is, as of 0400 Saturday, 21-11-15 about 60 miles north of Maderia in modest trades making 7 knots. In 2 hours he will have been going for 8 days . His DMG from last Friday at 0600z to present is on the order of 1100 miles. Based on eight days, his average speed has been around 5.7 Kts.

Next up, the two maxi tris on standby for a shot at the Jules Vern Trophy. That is apart from the boats returning from the TYJV and the Mini Transat…(well those not going by ship anyway). Sheesh going to need a traffic cop out there pretty soon.






Headsails, 150, 130 what’s it mean?


One of the most quoted yet least understood phrases used in discussions about headsails, their size, is the “LP”. Customers and prospects alike use phrases like 130, 150 or 100 regularly. But when I inquire as to their understanding of the number, it is rare for the average weekend sailor to get it defined correctly. It is actually very simple. The initials L.P. stand for Luff Perpendicular, usually written as LP. This is a dimension, but not an edge, of the triangle that is a headsail. Its definition is:

“A line drawn at right angles to the luff and that passes through the clew of the sail.”

The LP is drawn from the luff or the sail and passes through the clew. In this image, the line , parallels to the luff is indicated by the pencil. THe distance between the clew and the LP is "x" The percentage of LOP is then x/J

The LP is drawn from the luff of the sail and passes through the clew.  The distance between the clew and the LP is “x” and the percentage of LP is then x/J.

The “size” of a headsail is determined by taking the LP length  and dividing this number by the boat’s “J” The J dimension is, for the purposes of this discussion, is the distance from “the forward face of the mast at the deck to the intersection of the deck and the head stay pin at the stem head”. The J dimension and the LP are inseparably connected.

The LP number, this 150, 120 percent etc., is the length of the LP dimension divided by the boats “J”.  So for example if the boat’s “J” is 10 feet and the LP dimension on a sail is 13 feet, the sail has an LP of 130%.

Two sails, for the same boat can have the same LP yet have different clew heights

Two sails, for the same boat can have the same LP yet have different clew heights

In the image above, there are two sets of dashed liners. the red dash lines are the LP length.The green l one, long with short dashed between is the trim line. That is the axis along which the sail will want to sheet.  It is worthwhile noting too that the LP and the height of the clew of the sail are connected only by the fact that both a low clewed sail and a high clewed sail can both have the same LP.

I often am asked about all the missing area at the bottom of the sail, with respect to a high-clewed sail. There is no area missing if the sail has the desired LP. It is merely that the clew is high rather than low. The area of a genoa is arrived at by the formulae: LP x Luff length x 0.5. A moment’s reflection will indicate that the length of the foot, the most common answer to my question “what is the LP?” is incorrect.

The clew height is a function of where the sail is proposed to sheet AND the LP for the sail. And these are a  function of the purpose and use of the sail.

The clew height is a function of where the sail is proposed to sheet AND the LP for the sail. And these are a function of the purpose and use of the sail.

The length of the foot of the sail is a function of the LP and the clew height.

In the move image/sketch there are two LP lines the red dashed lines. They are the same length. You can see that there are however two clew positions. The clew positions are a function of the “trim” line, basically where on the deck the sail will sheet.

So, the height of the clew is governed by several variables but is driven by firstly what sort of sail it is, for what boat, for what use, where, and then so where the sail needs to sheet. This will be discussed in another post.

D.I.Y boat building

The Mini Diaries, 06 JAN 2015

Do-it-yourself boatbuilding is both very satisfying and often the only way one can realize one’s dreams of having a particular boat. This series of essays/blog posts discuss the home building of my boat, a Mini Transat 650. Well it was not actually built in “a home” but largely by me in a variety of locations in New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Is. and Massachusetts. The boat is a pretty specialized boat, built for single-handed racing, across the Atlantic. How I got involved in that is outlined here.

This group of blog posts, The Mini Diaries, starts in October 2014 in Durham NH, at the home of a mate of mine a fellow sailor, home builder par excellence and a fantastic woodworking craftsman, Vince Todd. My Mini had been parked on his property for while and I finally got to the point where I could re-start work on the refit I started a few years ago.

"The Mini" on her trailer in Vince's Bush Boat Yard. The paint jobs will be discussed later. Emmett's (Vince's son) J-24 next to me.

“The Mini” on her trailer in Vince’s Bush Boat Yard. The paint job will be discussed later. Emmett’s (Vince’s son) J-24 is next to me.

The scene: a sunny day in Durham NH. The first item on the work list is to finish rebuilding the cockpit. Again why this is so will be addressed later on. In order to start on this decent sized fabrication Vince put the boat in a plastic hoop shed, described below, on his property. I refer to this venue as Vince’s Bush Boat Yard because he has his own family yacht, an early 1960’s Ted Hood Robin, a 37’ wooden, centerboard yawl that Vince has restored to better than new. There is his son’s J-24, an Alden motor launch Vince is doing some re-build work on, a skiff under construction in the basement of Vince’s office and various assorted ribs, small sailing boats and dinghies.

The Good Yacht Thora, largely rebuilt at Home by Vince

The Good Yacht Thora, largely rebuilt at home by Vince


Inside the hoop shed, even with the temp at 35-40 degrees outside, it is 55 plus on a sunny day. Parallel to this is my involvement with the organization of Block Island Race Week, a prominent regatta in the NE of the US. The event chairman is an old shipmate of mine, one Peter Rugg. He and I have done lots of miles together double hand on his J-105, Jaded that was destroyed and written off by the insurance co. Thus Peter is boat-less in the face of the forthcoming Race Week. In conversation one day Peter remarked that we ought to sail my mini in the DH class at Block Island. Motivation is a wonderful thing and Peter’s remarks gave mine a wonderful swing upwards.

Bushranger inside the hoop shed at Vince's Bush Boat Yard.

Bushranger inside the hoop shed at Vince’s Bush Boat Yard. Test fit of the new cockpit/deck sides

After some discussion in the entire caper with Vince and figuring on the entirety of the Caper, I/we decided it would be prudent to have the boat closer to Newport, where I live, than Durham NH, a 3-hour drive (each way). So first off we discussed the fabrication of a hoop shed to be erected on the grounds of the Newport Shipyard, in of course Newport. The Shipyard is much closer, just 2.8 miles from my house and in the center of one of the bright-stars in the world’s boat building galaxy, Newport.

Vince and I discussed the basics of the shed, sizes materials costs, time required to fabricate transportation erection for starters. A couple of days later I drafted out on square paper a sketch of the shed, took a few pictures of it with my phone and sent them to Vince as a double check and we agreed we were are basically on track.

My design of a hoop shed. Turned out to be a pretty close sketch of what was built.

My design of a hoop shed. Turned out to be a pretty close sketch of what was built.

Shortly thereafter we assembled at Vince’s Bush Boat Yard to fabricate hoops.

More to come…..Coop





Code Zero Spinnakers

Some thoughts on sail design:

With particular attention “pointing” ability

Especially with respect to Code Zero sails

This essay is in direct response to a statement from another sailmaker to a customer that “a laminated material will point higher” compared to the heavy nylon I was proposing.This is an altogether a too broad a statement.

The type of fabric from which a sail is made is not at the top of the list when contemplating sail shape. Certainly building say a heavy jib of too light a material is not going to be effective but bear in mild also shape is only one aspect of a sail. Apart from “the shape” sails need to consider the following criteria, in no particular order.

Cost, durability, ease of handling, response to hard handling (aka tear strength) range of utility, (wind speed and angle), stowage issues are some of theses criteria.

A code zero is a unique sail in that in most cases it needs to rate like a spinnaker but to work like a genoa. That is it is intended to be used in light air when the boat wants to go up wind and for want ever reason, the “normal headsails” on the boat are not as effective as a “code zero” thus the response about pointing. Years ago such sails might have been referred to as cheater sails

The original code zeros were invented over 20 years ago for the Volvo Ocean Race. Due to the sail limitation rules and the lack of a normal overlapping genoas, Paul Cayard’s team fell upon the idea of having a sail that was designated a “spinnaker” but used as a headsail. They beefed up the boat to take the high loads generated by the tight luff that this sail needed. Fast forward to about 10-15 years ago and similar sails started making their appearances on the domestic recreational race course. Since they had to measure as a spinnaker, which is a girth* issue, all the girth was in the leech, rather like the roach on a mainsail. The other issue with such sails on furlers is the tremendous loads required to set up the luff of the sail so the sail would actually roll around the luff. The boats or the masts that Corinthian sailors sail were just not built for such loads.

About 8 years ago, Hood developed a version of this cheater headsail that was able to set and handled like a normal spinnaker, and was measured as one. This sail did not need a furler, tight luff rope and related costs, was made from Nylon yet could sail as close as 40 degrees apparent.

These sails fit the use profile of the non-professional sailor: They were inexpensive-nylon is cheaper than laminated materials, especially the more recent ones designated code zero materials, they were easy to handle-Just like a normal kite, took up a pretty small space, and considering the infrequence with which they are used this is appreciated by weekend racers. And a particularly appreciated aspect of nylon sails is their relative tear resistance compared to the very light film sails from which code zeros are built. Also nylon is much more resistance to damage from flex, read flogging than Mylar film, a detail if you are to be caught out in a squall somewhere.

With respect to the statement above, a review of design issues is in order.

The pointing ability of a sail is a function of at least two details: the draft of the sail and the entry angle. The draft is of course the fullness of the sail, technically the chord depth. And this depth changes vertically up the sail too. Consider for a moment a conventional spinnaker. If it is full, you can only head up so much in any kind of luffing match with it in pole-on-the-head-stay conditions, close reaching. This is why boats have a flatter reaching spinnaker. Same idea applies to the zero it is flatter again than a regular spinnaker, but fuller than a headsail.

The entry angle is a bit less obvious. This is the angle between the chord line and the angle of the very front couple of inches of the luff of the sail. A narrower angle here means the boat can point higher BUT it also requires that the boat be more accurately steered in order to keep in the groove. If the boat falls out of the groove as when a wave passes, the boat will slow down & the trim needs to be adjusted and the boat brought up to speed again. It is not uncommon for one-design boats to have different shaped headsails for use in flat, moderate of choppy waters. The choppier the waters the wider the angle of attack needs to be so the boat can be steered around waves with out stalling. Stalling is the “falling out of the groove” feeling.

With a sail like a code zero, intended to be used by most production cruiser racers generally in under ten knots true, a wider angle of attack is to be preferred. This is to accommodate the wide variety of conditions that such boats generally sail in.

The loads on a sail diminish dramatically as soon as the sheets are started even a small amount. For instance the load between a spinnaker trimmed hard enough to develop a crease between the tack and clew, as when trying to keep it full in really light air, diminishes quickly when the sail is eased to where the crease vanishes. That is why you may need someone to crank the sail to get it to that stage, but ease it a foot or so and the trimmer can trim by hand.

Going back to the sentence above about building a heavy weather jib from light fabrics, one enters the realm of properties of the fabrics in question: Nylon and code zero fabrics. The latter are a sandwich similar to composite boat building in that there are several layers and glue.

By far and away the vast majority by area of a code zero fabric is Mylar film. Bear in mind that the fabric has two sides, so the Mylar film is 50% of the total fabric in area. This film is half a mil thick. For comparison, a normal laminated sail might be .75 of a mil Mylar for a light air headsail for a 35 foot boat up to say 2 mil Mylar in sails on a bigger boat. It is pretty rare to get thicker film than that because such fabric becomes a real bear to handle.

Next in area is the other 50% of the sail fabric which is very thin deniers (small, tiny in fact yarns) woven polyester that is not shrunk. This is glued onto one side of the fabric.

Finally we get to the strong fibers. These fibers, called tows are glued in between the film and the taffeta. They are described by their denier. This is how thick they are, roughly like half inch line is thicker than quarter inch but thinker than five eighth. 50 denier is what light nylon sails are woven from, 1100 is a thick denier. Most fabrics operate in the 300-900 denier, as a broad statement. Reading the data from one of the major cloth suppliers in the US, their second to lightest material is made as follow:

Half a mil of film:

A tow (cloth speak for a “bundle” of fibers-Visually a tow will look like a thick piece of string) of 1140 denier aramid fiber, gold in color, set on half inch centers on the zero axis. The zero axis is parallel with the length of the roll.

There is a flat X shaped 750 denier tow of an aramid called Technora, this is black

There is a taffeta on the other side of the film.

There is a glue line holding the lot together.

To review

This material is 2.1 oz

This code zero fabric is close to two times the cost per yard than 1.5 oz Nylon.

It is about 30% more expensive per yard than grand prix nylon.

It is about half as stretchy on the zero axis as a comparable nylon

The film on this fabric is only half a mil-Not a strength consideration but a handling and durability question:

Durability is a factor in the sense of dragging the sail over life lines, across stuff on the deck, by the rigging turn buckles with cotter pins just starting to poke thru the electric tape, meat hooks on the halyards of the mast, and around down below. And as noted if caught out in building breeze and it spends time flogging, this (flexing) will degrade the film more than any overloading will do. At any rate most sailmakers to day will make the clew so the ring fails before the sails blows up.

This video is of a Hood Code Zero on a J-105. I was sailing this boat from Newport to Fishers Island alone. In this circumstance we are actually beam reaching, not going to go up wind. I have used this same sail in 25-30 knots true sailing at 90 apparent double handed from Block Island to Greenport in a race. We won because we had a sail we co old set that was right for the conditions.