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Libby Greenhalgh reviews the Rolex Middle Sea race on Maverick

Libby Greenhalgh reviews the Rolex Middle Sea race on Maverick

Just over a month ago I joined Team Maverick on their Infiniti 46 with DSS Foils for the Middle Sea Race. This 600 mile race typically provides all weather conditions and as always an absolutely stunning backdrop to the race.

This year was no exception the forecast was for a strong NNW winds, in the region of 35+KT from a little over 24hours into the race, it was enough or  some to consider not starting and overall resulted in a war of attrition during the race with roughly only half the fleet finishing.

We had a couple of days of light to moderate wind training before the start. Allowing me to get up to speed with the boat and understand how and where the performance of the boat changes with the deployment of the foils.

We started amongst all the big boats in the small and beautiful Valletta harbour looking like a fly buzzing around the bigger animals. A short sprint downwind and we are all heading off to Sicily just cracked off the wind. As the breeze pushes above 8-10 KT and the boat reaches maximum power the foils can be deployed on both sides, to act as righting moment to windward and to provide lift and stability this is particularly beneficial as the sea state worsens.

With the bright orange aeroplane wing foils deployed the boat sits at an optimal heel angle of about 10 degrees and sounds like a rocket trying to take off.
— Libby Greenhalgh

The boat is responsive and light on the helm and with the foils deployed we powered upwind in the building breeze once past Stromoboli. The effect of the foils on the stability and reducing the pitching of the boat in a big sea state makes going upwind almost a pleasure.  As you gradually bear off as always you eventually hit the power zone and from a True Wind Angle of 070 or wider you feel the boat accelerate and you need to level her off to keep her quick, it can be fairly easy to over trim in this situation.

The real fun with the boat started when we turned the corner and headed downwind and the boat lit up. With the bright orange aeroplane wing foils deployed the boat sits at an optimal heel angle of about 10 degrees and sounds like a rocket trying to take off. The aeroplane like foils self adjust the lift, as the boat lifts and the foil comes to the surface then the lift reduces which means despite it being howling winds the  foils can still be used. The water piles over the deck like fireman’s hose blasting at you which does at times make it pretty hard to stay on the side of the boat, but with boat speeds in excess of 20 KT an peaking a 27+KT is pretty impressive for a 46 footer.

Under three days to complete and we drying out back ashore as the 4th boat to cross the line behind largely 100 FT boats. All in all a boat that is a lot of fun, a team that is a lot fun and I am looking forward to sailing this boat again in 2018.

Libby Greenhalgh

#BeaMaverick #FollowTheStory

Rolex Middle Sea race preparation update!

Rolex Middle Sea race preparation update!

Fastnet to Malta; time flies when you're having fun!

After the Rolex Fastnet, our last major race in the U.K. for some time, Maverick went back to the Solent for a great Corporate day with Deloitte!

Stuart Miller then packed her up and put her on a Peter's and May ship to Palma.

We launched off the ship and a glorious morning gave way to driving, torrential rain for the 10min delivery to STP shipyard! 

Maverick was hauled out the following morning for some minor fairing and paint repairs by DeCabo. We also sent a number of sails off to Doyle to be remeasured for our ratings.

We launched last Monday and had a busy few days getting fuel, water, provisions and sails on, as well as a hydraulic overhaul.

Eric (our navigator) then stepped on like the rockstar he is and took off on the 620 nm delivery to Malta! A leap of faith but well placed thanks to the shore team/delivery crew of Cathrine Jack and Jorge.

As I type from the cramped seat of Veuling's Airbus 320, some of the team are already on the ground in Valletta, Malta's historic capital. Newport's Dan Morris and I arrive in a couple of hours behind Gordon Kay, Luke and Libby Greenhalgh from Team SCA.

We're all looking forward to a couple of good days training before taking on what Ted Turner once famously described as 'the most beautiful race course in the world'.

Stay tuned Mavericks...

Sean McCarter (aka Chicken Joe...)

Find out more about Sean and his Vendee 2020 ambitions here.

#BeAMaverick #FollowTheStory

Photo credit: Hannah Cotterell Media

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

Navigator Eric Holden's RORC Transat Blog: Day 3

Navigator Eric Holden's RORC Transat Blog: Day 3

Day 3 Blog

Conditions have been pretty gentle today with winds of 5-10 kts and a light northerly swell. This has allowed us to chase down some gremlins in the boat systems. We have an oil leak in the hydraulic system, air is getting into the watermaker plumbing, and we're getting about half the expected output from the hydrogenerator. Earlier we fixed an electrical fault in the bilge pumps and boat instruments. The watermaker is behaving again and we're monitoring the other problems which aren't critical at this stage.

With the weather as benign as it currently is, the team is asking when we might see the trade winds. I hesitate to answer as it looks like we're stuck with what we've got for the next few days. This is not really the conditions that suit us over the larger boats but as we're still making progress and sailing a couple knots above the wind speed we don't have much to complain about.

A nice perk in these conditions is that we're all getting plenty of rest while the boat glides along gently. This is a treat as when she gets moving she is noisy and rough, and sleep only gets easy once exhaustion sets in.

Until later....Eric

Maverick skipper blog update 15th November

Maverick skipper blog update 15th November

Good Morning Team Maverick Fans,

We are making good progress under "Iron Mainsail tonight" the moon is very large making the evening watch pleasant in the cool Mediterranean  air. Turns out with world events there is plenty to talk about.... I dropped the "Trump........... discuss" early doors in the watch.

The Palma stopover has been hectic. There was a lot to get done and the repair to the "Universal Joint" in the prop shaft was an unexpected occurrence from the Malta Palma delivery. Unfortunately this cost the team approximately three days of work.

The good news is that most of the important parts of "the list" have been dealt with and if the delivery proves to be fast we should get into Lanzarote (or Lanza as Nikki likes to call it) in good time. We aim to have Maverick at her best for the RORC Transatlantic Race but still have some work to do.

We have a good delivery crew on board with Archie Willis (normally full time on Ranger), Eric Holden, the wonderful Katherine Knight, Edoardo Bianchi (normally the Mate for Sean MCcarter) the delectable Nikki Curwen and myself.

We sent Kees ashore to be shore support and make sure that he arrives in Lanza with all the bits and bobs we might need!

It looks like the wind is going to fill in from the NE around midday tomorrow. We should be well past Ibiza and are hoping that this will give us a good push.

The Med rightly has a reputation for having too much wind or not enough. We are trying to get west as it is likely to be a bit less windy when it does arrive. We are all hoping that the GRIBS are accurate and we don't have one last big Med blow. It will be nice to turn off the engine as there is no insulation in the boat (too heavy) so it is very loud and hot!

Thanks as ever for all the support. I am heading back up on deck away from the racket of the engine to enjoy the rest of my watch.

Tonight I'd like to give a shout out to my Aunty Lindy and Aunty Sandy who will be watching our progress on the Yellow Brick!!

"Just keep swimming" Dory Finding Nemo....

Oliver Cotterell (Skipper)

Learning points from Palermo-Montecarlo by Kees Postma

Learning points from Palermo-Montecarlo by Kees Postma

Learning points from the Palermo Monte-Carlo race

With a 4th place on the water, behind bigger boats and teams with more practice and experience on their boats, the Palermo Monte-Carlo race was a big success for Team Maverick. But there was also a lot of stuff that went wrong during the race. Continuous improvement is a big part of the team culture, so it’s important that we learn from the things that go wrong. And we want to share that learning with all of you.

Problem #1: Lost the staysail halyard out of the mast

The swivel for the staysail halyard is held on to that halyard by a stopper knot. Unlike the swivels for the other furling sails there is no slot inside this swivel for a dogbone, which would be a more reliable stopper.

When we went to change from the J2 to the staysail in strong winds on the approach to Sardinia, this stopper knot came undone which meant the staysail went for a swim and the halyard plummeted into the mast. Mousing a halyard through the mast in these conditions is not possible, so flying our staysail was no longer an option. Sadly we have had this problem before and thought we had resolved it by using a different stopper knot.

Learning point: Improve the reliability of the stopper knot. Solution pending at time of writing.

Problem #2: Jib tack line snapped

Approaching the mandatory course gate off Porto Cervo in the dark and 30 knots of wind, the jib tack line snapped. Maverick’s jib tack line runs forward from the cockpit inside the boat and comes out of a small cavity in the deck all the way forward on the bow. The cavity is tiny, which makes it incredibly difficult to re-mouse a new tack line around the stainless rod that directs the line up to the sail. With all this happening at night and on the bounciest and wettest end of the boat, it took over 20 minutes of fiddling before a new tack line was ready to go.

Learning point: Have ready-to-go backups for all systems and controls that are hard or impossible to access, especially in the conditions in which those systems and controls are likely to fail.

Problem #3: Failure of hydraulic controls

The keel evidently had such a good time on full cant to starboard that, after foiling past Bonifacio at 20kts+ and straight into a massive wind hole in the lee of Corsica, it decided it wanted to stay there. As the hydraulic vang and traveller were still working, the fault seemed to lie in the connection between the control buttons and the PLC (Programmable Logic Controller: the brain that receives all hydraulic commands and sends them on to the hydraulic system). The frustrating thing here was that the hydraulic system itself was still working, we just had no way of telling it what to do.

An attempt to resolve the keel control issue accidentally resulted in a very mysterious but very complete disablement of the entire PLC, which meant that there was now no way of telling any of the hydraulics what to do. The rest of the race was sailed without the use of our hydraulic vang and traveller.

Learning point: There should be a ready-to-go backup method of commanding the hydraulics that bypasses the PLC.

Problem #4: Lack of testing and knowledge of manual keel controls

With no electronic control of the keel, we resorted to the often-discussed-but-never-really-tested manual keel controls. A set of manual hydraulic controls for the keel is obviously a great plan, but its usefulness is vastly reduced when most of the crew has never used it before. It didn’t take very long to educate people, but in an emergency situation it could have been a more serious problem.

Learning point: Everyone on board must have sufficient knowledge of the hydraulic valves and switches to be able to work at least the manual keel hydraulics.

Problem #5: Alternator no longer charging batteries

Around the same time that the hydraulic controls failed, we discovered that the alternator on the engine wouldn’t charge our batteries anymore. Perhaps it decided that with all our hydraulics down we didn’t need power either.

Learning point: Have another way of charging the batteries.

In this case we were one step ahead of the game! We carry a hydrogenerator that deploys off the back of the boat, makes us power-neutral at around 7 knots of boat speed, and charges our batteries at anything above that.

Problem #6: Damage to hydrogenerator

We felt very smug about our hydrogenerator until the sea state built enough that the entire device bounced out of its bracket on the transom and was dragged behind the boat on its safety line. The good news was that it was quickly noticed and recovered back on board. The bad news was that one of the blades had snapped off and we didn’t have any spares on board. We tried using it with only two blades, but it wasn’t generating a lot of power and the imbalance was causing so much vibration and drag we had to pull it up.

Learning point: Make sure the hydrogenerator can be locked into its bracket. And don’t leave the spare blades on a shelf in the container.

Although we always race to win, this program and especially its early stages are all about learning as much as possible. All of these problems are frustrating but they do translate into the quickest way to learn your yacht. At some stage the gloves need to come off and you need to stress test not only the systems, but also the people using them. The Mediterranean provides a great safe arena for this. Preparation is about preventing problems but also being ready for the inevitable one you did not anticipate.

We are looking forward to one more race in this arena in October, the Rolex Middle Sea Race, before we set off on the RORC Transatlantic Race in November.

Stay tuned as we keep sharing our progress with you.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn”

Kees Postma, Team Maverick