A Maverick Fastnet review

A Maverick Fastnet review

Author: Piers Hugh Smith

www.sailsmithracing.uk

The dust had barely settled from the Tour Voile before I was onto the next project… A 14hr drive back from Nice to Hamble saw me venturing across the Solent the following day to join Team Maverick, the title sponsors of the Tour Voile project, for the lead up to one of sailing’s most iconic and notorious races- The Rolex Fastnet. Despite the Fastnet race being the closest 600-mile race to home- it is the last on the list for me to tick off- so I was exceptionally excited to be racing with Maverick for this edition.

We had an excellent training day in the solent in 20knts of breeze, a good shake down for the boat after the team at SRM Marine have been putting in so much hard work to get the boat sorted. As the DSS foils have not been applied to any other medium size race boat before this, and very few others designed totally around the DSS- Maverick presents many engineering and technological challenges that take time and effort to work out. The boat has been sailing for around 18months and has continually been improving throughout that time.

I was lucky enough to be on the wheel for the start, it was pretty special starting such and iconic race with the view of hundreds of other yachts who had started in earlier starts beating out the Solent ahead of us. We were contesting our class with Rambler 88, the Volvo 65’s and the odd IMOCA so it was a star studded start. Following the advice of tactician Mike, we kept clear of the much taller rigs in the bunch, and held our own lane for the start. About halfway up the Solent I changed off the helm for Kees and got ready for the world’s longest windward leg!

It was Ocean Rodeo dry suit on pretty much from the beginning, beating into a tide that was turning against, and a meaty 20knts of breeze meant plenty of waves over the boat and I made a commitment to stay dry! It was cold too, so the suit didn’t really come off until the finish of the race. I was at risk of my planning having let me down but was okay in the end- I decided to only take one spare mid layer and one spare inner- these went on during the first night and stayed on until the finish. My kit bag, a 10ltr dry bag, stayed empty the entire race, so at the least I was confident I took the lightest set up possible!

For me the upwind was fairly featureless beyond the normal tariff of living offshore on Maverick. One major tactical decision for Eric, the navigator, as to either to head across the channel and hit the corner of the beat to lay land’s end, or whether to head up the shore line, short tacking up with English coast. For the rest of us, during the on-watch we pushed the get the most out of our upwind set up in a dying breeze. The drop in wind strength made for a more comfortable ride but unfortunatelya slightly slower one. During the off watch I committed to only eating Asian Beef with Noodles from the freeze dried selection and maximised my sleep time! As the bowman the upwind legs are often quieter than the downwind, and with a windy 200mile downwind leg coming up after rounding the iconic Fastnet rock, I focused on maximising my sleep so I was in the best possible shape.

We edged round Land’s End, entering the Irish Sea and not long after the psychological halfway mark of the rock came to the fore of our minds. Whilst not a literal halfway mark, as the rock sits 400mile into the 600mile race, mentally most of the guys see it that way. It’s a 180 degree turn and puts you onto the homeward stretch into Plymouth. A nice rounding for us, in the company of a media chopper and a class 40, we peeled onto our A2, the second biggest downwind sail. Coincidentally I clocked off watch at the end of this change, so hit the bunk for my 4 hours of rest.

I was awoken about 2.5/3 hrs into my off watch by the sound of the world ending. Maverick is a cacophony of noise when going downwind in breeze- the impact and rush of the water on the empty carbon hull echoes throughout the while structure, and the howl of sheets being eased accompanies a deafening roar as the keel pump drives the hydraulic sail controls. Underscored by the whirr of the pedestal gearbox by my head; there was not much stopping me from being awoken! The breeze had risen go 25knots +, so out of range of the A2, we leaped over and through waves with a cascade of water pouring into the cockpit every minute. Eric and Mike made the call for a change to the A3, so myself and Q, the mid-bowman, ventured to the front of the boat to get the sail ready to go. The change went pretty well despite a small bit of damage to the foot of the A2 from water pressure and a wobble I had on the front whilst releasing the tack line - the prospect of falling off the boat loomed and I decided it wasn’t for me; luckily holding my balance to stay on board!

The A3 was the prefect sail for the conditions- it was a lighting quick Irish Sea crossing as we hit up to 26-27 knts storming downwind. A few gybes for the Traffic Separation Scheme Exclusion Area and we rolled into a simple A2 to flatter and smaller Jib-top peel for the reach to Plymouth from the Scilly Isles.

A really simple but wet leg! Keep it lit up on the JT, more or less due East, and try and close the gap the more upwind oriented boats had got on us earlier in the race. A really quick leg again, up to 22/23 knts boat speed, waves carving over the boat at speed. Ski goggles went on so I could maintain visibility and we pushed hard to get the boat home.

A few of the guys had stayed up past their watch the previous night, we suffered a breakdown of the watch system at about 5am, as guys who were technically ‘ON’ had already been up all night pushing the boat downwind, and guys who were ‘OFF’ might have been off for a while. In my eyes this was a bit of a failing as I believe it’s really important to adhere to the structure of the watch in order to make sure everyone receives regular and efficient rest. Otherwise the burnout risk becomes too prevalent. We had a rest and decided to lease with each persons opposite number to work out what sleep levels they needed- we run a one hour rolling watch, so you have one buddy who wakes you up and you wake him up- this split allowed the guys who needed it to rest and the guys who didn’t kept on pushing. This did a pretty good job of keeping the pace up on the last stretch into Plymouth.

In the end we finished at around 1530hrs BST, an oddly civilised time for finishing an offshore as I am used to these races finishing in the dark! We rolled into the bar for some post race celebration and some much needed food- there is only so much freeze dried I can take! I feel we were a little unfortunate with the weather, a little too much upwind for Maverick, a downwind focused machine, we struggled to compete on IRC. However- we sailed a good race and ticking off the last Rolex offshore this year, plus the Trans-Atlantic race ticks off a bucket-list goal for me in getting all those done in 12months!

An incredible couple months of sailing and one of the busiest times of my life- it’s now time for a bit of R&R and to maybe not see another boat for a little while! Though who knows how long I can willingly stay away- the Diam 24 UK national Champs are approaching and you will see Team Maverick SSR back out on the water there.

Ciao!

Piers Hugh Smith

#BeAMaverick #FollowTheStory

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TEAM MAVERICK HOST A PARTY

TEAM MAVERICK HOST A PARTY

 

AND YOU'RE INVITED!

Doors open: 19:30
Free Rock Rose Gin & Tonic on arrival
Live band & DJ
Hog roast from 20:30
Venue: The Loft, Barbican in Plymouth
Future Fibres prizes to be won!


Ever wondered what it's like to be a Maverick? Now's your chance to find out as this year Team Maverick are hosting a party at The Loft, Barbican in Plymouth. Team Maverick would like to invite you, if you dare, to embrace your inner bull and spend the evening eating, drinking and dancing like a Maverick!

GET YOUR WRIST BANDS TO GET IN!

You'll need an orange Maverick wristband to get in, which you can get from a member of the crew or on the door!

INSTAGRAM & TWITTER COMPETITION

Got a good photo of you being a Maverick? Please post it to your Instagram or Twitter account tagging us in via the details below WITH #BeAMaverick for your chance to WIN a Maverick t-shirt!

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?
— Dr. Seuss

Instagram: @team_maverick
Twitter: @yachtmaverick
#BeAMaverick



DETAILS

Date: Thursday 10th August 2017
Doors open: from 19:30 until you fall over
Venue: The Loft, Barbican, Plymouth

Lets get this party started!
#BeAMaverick #FollowTheStory


Thank you to our sponsor!


 

Team Maverick's Diam 24 Team conclude the RORC Vice Admiral's Cup!

Team Maverick's Diam 24 Team conclude the RORC Vice Admiral's Cup!

The RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup has just concluded for the newly liveried Maverick SSR! We are really excited to be out there, representing the Maverick colours in what we think is a pretty awesome colour scheme. 

We are really excited to be out there, representing the Maverick colours in what we think is a pretty awesome colour scheme. 
— Piers Hugh-Smith

Events had slightly transpired against us before the regatta had even started- both myself and Ed had exams on the Friday of the event. Unfortunately this meant missing out on some champagne sailing conditions on Day 1, and also having to carry 3 DNC (did not compete) results for the regatta- effectively taking us out of the overall standings. It isn’t all about the result however- with the Tour Voile looming on the horizon, the VAC represented a good opportunity to test run some navigation techniques and systems, and focus on an area that is exceptionally difficult to train for by yourself- starting. 

Start of Day 2 all looked positive, with what we thought was a convincing lead in Race 1. It would have been, despite missing the gate 10 m before the line and being disqualified from the race- turns out the navigational practice objective was very much needed! Vowing not to make this mistake again, we managed to secure a pretty good start in the 2nd race to take the win with a 2 min margin on the second boat. The weather was getting better and better, with a now 18 knt. breeze channeling down the solent the boat was ripping at up to 21 knts, and we were very excited at the prospect of a third race, conditions were becoming more challenging and also a lot more fun! However, in light of a chartered boat’s capsize in race two the RC called in there for the day. 

A great regatta for us that gave us some confidence in our speed and boat handling whilst also outlining some key areas to focus on.
— Team Maverick SSR

Day 3- Starts were the name of the game here, and we didn’t really manage to play, scoring a disappointing 4th in the first race. Slightly lighter conditions than the day before but awesome fun all the same, we set out to make it right in race 2 and 3- showing a bit more competence and posting a 2nd and 1st. Race two was really down to the line, the final gybe into the line causing 1st to slip away from us by meters and Riccardo’s boat, Gaetana 3, blasted in on the lay line at 16 knts, pipping us to the finish in the final minute. 

A great regatta for us that gave us some confidence in our speed and boat handling but also outline some key areas to focus on. We have a great list together now of some areas to work on and we will be pushing hard as we take this into our 3 pre-tour training camps that are coming up. Starts will definitely be a feature- expect some videos of our two boats match racing it out in training, AC style- to sharpen each other’s skills ahead of what is sure to be a packed line at the Tour de France a la Voile. The next Diam UK event is on the 10th/11th June- hopefully here we will try and keep the scoreline a little more consistency close to 1! 

Piers Hugh-Smith - Team Maverick SSR

#BeAMaverick #FollowTheStory

Team Maverick support Diam fleet to form Team Maverick SSR Racing

Team Maverick support Diam fleet to form Team Maverick SSR Racing

SSR and Team Maverick are pleased to announce they are to combine forces to take on the Tour de France á la Voile as the only British team to ever compete in the event’s current format. Team Maverick’s support as a title sponsor of Sailsmith Racing now gives the SSR a new identity and vision; as Team Maverick SSR.

Team Principal of SSR, Piers Hugh Smith, is enthusiastic about joining Team Maverick’s vision, commenting,

“Having been a member of the Team Maverick program aboard the Infiniti 46 ‘Maverick’, and experienced first-hand the ground up, enthusiastic and supportive approach of the team, it’s a natural extension to bring Team Maverick into the Tour Voile fleet. We are doing something new and different as the only British team, involving young and upcoming sailors, so it seemed like a great fit to get involved in the #beamaverick ethos as Team Maverick SSR.”

Hannah Cotterell from Team Maverick commented,

“As the great Dr. Seuss stated, ‘why fit in when you were born to stand out?’ Team Maverick is all about trying something new in the hope of doing something different. Unorthodox, original and dedicated we leave egos at the door and tell it like it is. Supporting Team Maverick SSR will be an extension of this ethos, helping grow our approach to being a little different. Good luck to all our Diam24 sailors.

Stay foolish, stay hungry #BeaMaverick.”

The Team have now launched their new boat, ‘Raygun’ in its striking Team Maverick attire which will be seen at an array of international and local events for the coming season as well as practicing out on the solent!

www.maverick49.com

Maverick retire from Caribbean 600 due to injury

Maverick retire from Caribbean 600 due to injury

ANNOUNCEMENT

Maverick has retired from the Royal Ocean Racing Club RORC Caribbean 600

"Maverick diverted to Nevis to drop Steve Taylor off at the hospital after suffering an injury to his right hand. As soon as the incident occurred the team retired from the race and made best speed to Nevis.

Piers has gone with Steve to the hospital in Nevis. The rest of the team are safe and well. We are on a mooring outside of Charlestown Nevis and will clear customs tomorrow morning.

Our thoughts are with Steve. His next of kin have been notified."

Oliver Cotterell, Skipper 

#rorcrc600

Olly Cotterell RORC Transatlantic race skipper blog: Day 14

Olly Cotterell RORC Transatlantic race skipper blog: Day 14

Dear Team Maveric Fans!

I am sure you have some questions.....

I left you on day 11 with the potential for having to go dead ship. The good news is that we managed to reset the alternator brain and put the spare blades in the hydro-generator. Good news.

Right I am going to talk about the "daisy chain" of events that has led to us beig slower than we hoped and really close to loosing out to Leopard for Class win. At one stage we thought that this would be reasonably straightforward. This is yacht racing however and nothing is ever easy and while this might be frustrating now it is why we love it.

Event 1. We lost the tack on the A2. This was not our fault, we are still not sure why it failed. The failure is so perfect it could havebeen done with scissors. The frustrating thing is I had been saving this kite for this event so it had only been flown a few times in trials and corporates. It had not been used out of range and when we lost it we were not abusing it!

Event 2. We lost the A1.5 TheA1.5 was meant to be a spare to the A2. However it had been used hugely out of its range in the Rolex Giralia Cup race and as a result I elected to used this kite in deliveries etc. It had done a lot more hours but was in good nick. Unfortunately just as a crew member had gone off deck to wake up the next watch we had a wave induced slow down followed by a large wave grabbing the stern and a 25kt gust.This induced a broach that I was not able to stop on the helm. Sean did his best to ease the kite sheet and the main sheet at the same time. One flog and it was all over the kite had a big rip in it. This was the first broach in a long long time and it just coincided with a watch change. Bad luck.

Event 3. Pinch in the (FRO). With the A2,A1.5 dead we elected to go to our FRO (Fractional Code 0) this deployed fine but after a furl gybe it developed a "pinch"

A "pinch"  is where a furling sail grabs a bit of the sail prematurely and furls one part in the opposite direction to the majority. This means that you cam't get the whole thing to unfurl. We have used this sail a lot and never had this problem. We are not sure whyit has started happening but we managed to clear relatively easily the first pinch but had th take the fro down on the deck to clear a double ?pinch" the next time.

Event 4: Missing bowsprit pin. While driving the yacht hard i felt that she was sailing a little bow down. I got Kees to go inspect the crash bulkhead. His first impression was "oh o did not know whe had a light in here" The 2 in stainless pin that attaches the bowsprit to the yacht was somehow missing. We immediately furled the FRO and set about a solution, both to help the structure and secondly to stop the water coming in. We improvised a fix with a winch handle and a shammy.

Event 5. The need for an A2. Unfortunately as I sit here and write this we are not getting the best out of Maverick. We are taking it a bit gingerly on STBD tack but also for thee past 48hrs we really have had some small gear up in the sky. She is underpowered. This is massive on this yacht because the step change from being on the foil or not is huge.

So all in all things are good on Maverick. The crew are welland while my shoreside "to do" list is now as long as a Harrods receipt after a visit by Paris Hilton we are still averaging a little over 10 kts VMC. It is going to be very tight with Leopard.

Regardless of the outcome I am very proud of my team. They have all worked incredibly hard in some physically and mentally taxing conditions. This is what makes Ocean Racing unique. It is a marathon and not a sprint. If you cannot keep the yacht together then you will not finish. As they say in order to win first you need to finish. Maverick has given us some of the best sailing experiences of my life during this race and I will always remember them. By signing up to the RORC Transatlantic Race we knew we would be put against some of the best teams out there. We would not turn up to a knife fight with a gun so to speak. We are going to push hard right to the end One thing this crossing has shown me is that this yacht with this team will e a force to be reckoned with in future events. Being our first ocean race we will go away and review the performance work on the reliability and be back for more. Sometimes I forget thatthis yacht has only been in the water for seven months...

Olly out

Oliver Cotterell RORC Transatlantic race skipper blog: Day 12

Oliver Cotterell RORC Transatlantic race skipper blog: Day 12

Hey Team Maverick Fans,

Firstly a massive HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Nikki Curwen who sadly could not be hear today. We are thinking of you and know you would have loved this sweat pit.

Right and eventful 24hrs. Where to start.... Ah the first KITMARE... there we were going along at 16 kts or so in about 20 in the middle of the night (of course) when ping... the tack went. A bit strange as the kite is nearly new, has not been abused or used out of range. For once this was not self induced!

Now this was no big deal. At first I assumed that the tack release system had accidentally tripped however it soon became clear that a very neat tear had occurred and the tack was actually still at the end of the bowsprit. Very quickly we got the A1.5 on deck and set and were on our way.

Soon after this event it was reported to me that the engine would not charge the batteries. We deployed the hydrogenerator instead and charged on this. Unfortunately at some stage the hydraulic system inside the hydrogennerator that controls the pitch of the props failed and this would not work.

This morning Eric and I jury rigged/ magivered this so that it would work with a fixed pitch of blade. However I have just been informed that two blades have snapped off. We have two spare blades on board. I am currently trying to make as much water as possible while we still have power so that we have enough to get us comfortably to the finish. There is a high probability with both of our power generation capabilities downthat we are going to have to do the last part of the race "Dead Ship" All the power turned off... We need to save some power for Keel function and the odd comms.

We have passed five ARC yachts now. They must be a little in awe as we pass them at 16 kts to their7 or so. The Arc is fantastic but it is a rally for cruisers. They all had kites down as it was night etc. The nice thing about the RORC Transatlantic Race is that the yachts are form a racing stock and are pushed hard.

Anyway I have a lot to do... lets hope the words of Dr Seuss hold true

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."

Dr Seuss

Olly out...

Piers Hugh-Smith RORC Transatlantic blog: Day 11

Piers Hugh-Smith RORC Transatlantic blog: Day 11

1000miles broken!

Cause for brief celebration today as we broke the 1000nm to go barrier to the finish! we are positively hurtling to Grenada at 14-17 knts and have been posting the highest averages of the fleet, an achievement i'm pretty proud of considering we are up against 70-100ft competitors. i am weary of starting the countdown early but it does seem that the end is getting very close, and the potential for a race win has been discussed, which is making us push harder than ever.

in other news, my eye, whilst still infected and carrying more bacteria than some chewing gum on the floor of a public restroom, does seem to be improving steadily, maybe just in time for our arrival. it is also absolutely boiling here, the R in Infiniti 46R must stand for Roasting, as it is probably around 35-40degrees in this carbon machine as the sun from the clear blue skies beats down upon it.

thats all from me, and i daresay the next update you may hear from me will be at the finish, though only time will tell.

ciao,

PHS

Oliver Cotterell RORC Transatlantic race skipper blog: Day 11

Oliver Cotterell RORC Transatlantic race skipper blog: Day 11

Good Morning team Maverick Fans!

Well today my story is about suicidal flying fish. As you may know we are not the largest yacht and we have a very low freeboard. I can tell you that getting hit by a flying fish while doing 17 kts hurts!

Progress is good and we are enjoying the fresh trade winds. Maverick is really doing very well looking after us and smashing down the distance to run. As I write this the only other vessel in our class "leopard" has only 300 nm to run so should be in within 24 hrs and take Monohull line honours. Well done to them! Hopefully we will not be too far behind!

As it is we are still hunting down Aragon. There is a little moon now on the early night watches and this is helping massively. We have been having some sat coms issues but they seem tobe ok at the moment.

Anyway thats all for now...

"Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have tea first? (we have no coffee or teas left!!!!)"

Alice in wonderland

Olly out

Eric Holden RORC Transatlantic blog: Day 10

Eric Holden RORC Transatlantic blog: Day 10

We are currently past the halfway mark by a couple of hundred miles but more importantly, back in good breeze with incredibly quick speeds pointed more or less at the finish in Grenada.

How quick? for the past 12hrs, we have been the fastest boat in the fleet. We have averaged 14.7 kts for the past 6hrs. Our top speed in this time was 21.2 kts. All this achieved with an average windspeed of only 17 kts true..!

The conditions we are experiencing now are what we had hoped to get for 80% of the race. Unfortunately it was not to be this year however it has been really testing and ultimately very rewarding so far. We are learning more about the boat each day and growing in confidence by the hour.

Running a three hour, rolling watch system is working very well. Off watch down below is quite hot and sticky, with an odour I'd rather not describe. My greatest luxury at the moment is a pair of noise cancelling head-phones. Lying in my bunk, it sounds like we are in the midst of Armageddon until I pull them on and all of a sudden its like we are cruising at a sedate 7 kts..!

1200nm to go with similar conditions,

Roll on...

Eric