2000-08-03 Update – Dawn Riley & The Sea Scouts
The Wocketeer had the opportunity to sail yesterday with one of his heroes. And for a good cause, too! My friend and supporter Grant Miller (and family) had arranged to take a great group of Sea Scouts out on the Bay, with none other than America’s Cup heroine, Dawn Riley. This sounded like such a great idea, that yours truly tagged along.
In case you had your head in the sand the last year, Dawn’s “America True” coed team had a terrific showing in the last America’s Cup challenger series. Against all odds, they routinely defeated the likes of Team Dennis Conner and fought all the way to the semifinals. Dawn has established herself as a tremendous organizer and leader and produced a team with an inclusive spirit that many fans identified with, myself included.
We sailed aboard Grant’s beautiful Little Harbor 47 from the America True headquarters in San Francisco. Dawn is an ex-Sea Scout herself, and it was great to see her interact with such a great group of young mariners. She is obviously a natural leader and was very comfortable with them. I had a great time myself, as a few of the gang loved hearing about my latest ocean adventure aboard “Rage.” We also brought along Campbell Rivers, who at only 16 raced with me on the “Rage” trip. He did a great job giving the kids pointers on sail trim, etc. I think it was good for the Scouts to meet someone their own age with so much experience!
I have to say that I pick my heroes carefully. I am drawn to those who have to work hard against all odds to succeed or win. Cycling greats Lance Armstrong and Greg LeMond are possibly my greatest inspirations. Then of course it is the sailing greats like Slocum, Chichester, Motissier, and more recently, Pettengill, Goss, Autissier, and Soldini. There are many great and talented America’s Cup sailors, but I find Dawn an inspiration, knowing the dogged determination it has taken for her to succeed against an established old boys network. It was a great honor to go for a spin on the bay with her. There was a real thrill for both of us in seeing the nervous smile of a young sailor as they get to helm a large sailboat for the first time. I wasn’t a Sea Scout when I was young, but it is a wonderful organization.
When our Open 60 finally hits the water, one of my goals will be to provide the opportunity for some Sea Scouts to feel the incredible thrill of high-speed ocean sailing aboard such a fast boat.
If they get half as big a kick as I did from that first big surf down a wave, they’ll be hooked!
2000-09-06 Wocket has been flipped “wightside up!”
Sorry to be slow on the updates since the Pacific Cup. I guess I’ve had a bit of Wocket writers bwock.
But I wanted to let you know that the Wocket has been flipped “wightside up!” A couple of pics are attached and I’ll send more once the plug material is taken out of the inside of the hull. The “plug” is the male mold structure that was made first, before the hull was formed on the outside of that. Now that the hull is flipped, Steve Rander & crew will remove the plug and weigh the hull structure. It will be nice to see how close the weight is to Tom (Wylie’s) calculations.
The feedback on the Pac Cup updates has been great. I’m glad to have provided a good excuse for folks to daydream about ocean racing, I know I do every day I’m not sailing! But I have to point a few things out: The progress on our Open 60 has been slow. The combined cost of doing the Pac Cup and the sending of the updates from the middle of the ocean was expensive for us. Without the financial support of certain individuals we could not have pulled it off. The idea was that it was an investment to generate more interest and confidence in our team and also increase contributions, which we really need.
I know that everyone thinks “Corporate sponsorship” is the way to go, but we have been hearing that corporate America still has a bit of a sour taste in their mouths from the America’s cup. To them, the AC was ridiculously expensive for the amount of exposure the sponsors received. Aside from Dawn Riley’s “America True” team, the image of the AC to many is still that of a super-rich mans sport. (Which is exactly what it’s turning out to be for the next go-around.) In Europe, real ocean racing has much more appeal to the public, and to sponsors. We are working hard to get American corporate support, but right now NO AMERICAN PROGRAM has landed significant title sponsorship. Not any AC team, not Mark Rudiger’s or Katie Pettibone’s Volvo efforts, not Brad Van Liew, and not me.
So for now, it’s all up to you. Please think about what you can do. Let your friends know about us and put in a good word for me if you can. Let me know if you want me to talk to anyone to let them know about our boat and our dream. I really appreciate your support and we need your help to finish the only American Open 60 that is now under construction. Your very own “Wylie’s Wocket.” Contributions ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE! Print out the form on our website, or contact me for details.
In the meantime I’m doing some rigging work to keep myself afloat. When I’m not dredging for donations for the Made in America Foundation, that is. Remeber, all donations go straight to our (your?) project. I don’t get a paycheck from the Foundation. Maybe someday I will, but those who know me know I will sail our boat around the world for free if I have to.
Keeping the faith,
Bruce Schwab, Skipper
Wocket Construction Photos – inner wood skins and longitudinal stringers..
I can’t resist showing off the latest pics from Schooner Creek Boat Works of our Open 60! (note: all photos at bottom of page) All of the plug material has been removed, showing the inner wood skins and longitudinal stringers. The whole inside will soon be coated with MAS epoxy (Thanks to MAS Epoxy!) to seal and protect the wood.
Then, we HAD to do a test fit of the carbon cockpit/coachroof structure, just to see how it looked. In fact, I’m going to Portland this weekend to check it out. I simply can’t hold out any longer, even if there is tons of work to do here.
By the way, the pics make the boat look wider than it is. When you look at the drawings, she’s really quite the Arrow! (or Wylie Wocket, that is)
Sponsorship update: While The Made In America Foundation is working hard looking for a “Title Sponsor”, we are VERY VERY proud of our Official Supplier Sponsors. Without them, and your contributions* we would be NOWHERE. Just a reminder of who these wonderful folks are: MAS Epoxies, Forespar MFG, Samson Cordage, Doyle Sailmakers, Nobeltec, Waypoint, and HF Radio on board.
We also have a NEW OFFICIAL SUPPLIER SPONSOR! They are a great American company and manufacturer that many of you will recognize. There will be an announcement soon, but first I propose a little contest: Can you guess who they are? I’ll give you some hints: They are NOT from the Marine Industry…., they can make your computer run faster that anyone else…., that’s all you get for now!
Hmmm, should we have prizes for the correct guessers? It shouldn’t be too hard to guess as I have dropped hints before…. Tell you what: Team Fleece jackets to the first 2 correct guesses, a Team fleece vest to the 3rd, a Microfleece shirt to the 4th, Long sleeve polos to the 5th & 6th, short sleeve polos to 7 & 8, and team hats to 9 & 10! No insiders eligible, and you get just one guess! So be careful…
*For all of you who enjoyed the Pac Cup updates: If you haven’t made a contribution to the Foundation, please consider doing so. Even a moderate donation from a fraction of our Pac Cup update followers would help cover the cost of sending the updates. The Atlantic Challenge isn’t far off….!
Bruce Schwab, Skipper
2000-09-17 Portland “Wocket” visit
Ocean Sailing fans,
Wow! I had a great weekend in Portland, Oregon, where I visited our beautiful Open 60 taking shape. The weather was fantastic, so it turned into a mini vacation for your humble reporter. After viewing (and drooling all over!) the “Wocket” saturday morning, I joined our esteemed builder Steve Rander aboard his Cal 20(!?) to sail in the “Sail for the Cure” regatta on the Columbia river. This was a for fun fundraiser for breast cancer research, obviously a most important cause. The event was great fun.
We pulled some hilarious stunts, including having the audacity to be first to the weather mark on a Cal 20, ahead of a fleet of boats up to 43ft! All the “racers” had to fetch a bucket out of the water to find a number inside that designated each boats downwind finishing order. We drew a 10, but put it up upside down so it was 01, and led almost all the way to the finish before being passed by the real “1”, a 43ft sloop. Then we dropped our kite, spun up and sailed backwards at full speed across the line. The committee didn’t buy our “01”, but said our finish would count if we finished backwards again, but topless (including our one female crew). Our heroine sportingly agreed and so we did it again as per the commitee’s instructions. Heck, if it helps cure cancer….
Steve gave me a tour of the spectacular Portland/Mt. Hood area sunday. Wow! I had no idea our boat was being born in such a beautiful place. This singlehanded sailor loves mountains, so Mt. Hood and the famous “timberline lodge” blew my mind. To top it off, we then visited the town of Hood River and the legendary Columbia River Gorge. This awesome little town is the mecca of serious windsurfers. These crazy radsters blast off the beach right in front of town where it is gas to watch. The wind was honkin and I was jumpin up and down cheering the stunts. I was especially turned on by the “kite boarders”, who windsurf with a giant kite. They jump and fly 30-40ft up in the air!
I was watching this thinking what nuts these guys are and then remembered that I’m the one going to sail around the world, solo, non-stop. Maybe they are smarter than I thought!!
ANOTHER HINT FOR THOSE GUESSING OUR NEW OFFICIAL SUPPLIER SPONSOR: It’s not Intel. It’s a smaller but well known company, but their super fast PC chips are putting some big chinks in Intel’s armor… There have already been some correct guessers, but I’ll give you another chance to win some great gear!
Attached are pics of an excited sailor checking out his future ride, contemplating mountain climbing, and ogling the Gorge surfers.
Skipper, Made in America Globe Challenges
The start of the Vendee Globe in Les Sable d’Olonne
Sailing fans (like me!),
I am off to France tomorrow with some of my supporters to view the start of the Vendee Globe in Les Sable d’Olonne. I pronounce this town as “lay sob dloan” which I think is close.
We will be taking lots of pictures and I will try to report back to you semi-daily if I can get online. The start of the Vendee is by all reports the most spectacular sailing media event there is. I will try to give the feel of what it is like to be there!
Even though we did not make the starting line this year, we did pay the (non-refundable) entry fee. As a result, the race organizers will give us close access to the boats and the solo sailing rockstars at the docks. It will be very exciting to see the boats in their final configurations, but bittersweet to watch them sail off without me. Our All American Open 60 will be racing next year, beginning our program of racing and training leading to the next Vendee in 2004!
For those that need to contact me, I will be checking my traveling email account: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, if you have important news and need to contact me by phone, fellow traveler Tim Danford will have his GSM phone which works in Europe. We will be 8 hrs ahead of Pacific time! 408-505-6523
Check out the new English Vendee website! http://www.vendeeglobe.com/home.asp?lang=us
Bruce Schwab Skipper,
Made in America Globe Challenges
Vendee Globe Update #1
Les Sables d’Olonne, France, first day at the “Vendee Village”. WOW. What a scene. It is difficult for words and even pictures to describe the excitement here. The crowds and publicity surrounding the preparations for the Vendee Globe Challenge are now in full swing. I arrived late last night on the TGV train and much to my amazement I was greeted by several friendly French people waving a sign with my name! They know I was entered in this race, and were very excited to meet a potential future American skipper. Well that and they rented us the houses too…
Everywhere in this good- sized city are signs, posters, and handouts about the race, which is this region’s signature event. I was also told that on the main NATIONAL French TV station, advertising time during the Vendee reports are the most expensive slots available. More than soccer and the race hasn’t started yet!
Early this morning I went to “Vendee Village” and received VIP passes for my supporters and press accreditation for myself. The gals in the Race office recognized me from the early entry list. They were Marcy, Mary, and Marine. Of course everyone calls them the 3- M’s. Marcy & Mary have been doing the English version of the Vendee website and were very helpful getting me caught up with the scene. I hung around for a while until Philippe Jeantot arrived. Mr. Jeantot is the 2-time BOC winner and head of the entire Vendee organization. He was very friendly and it was good to talk to him. From the window of his office we watched the huge crowds lining up to get to the docks. They only let 1000 people at a time on the pontoons to view the boats. Somehow they keep track with counting devices and radios but it doesn’t look easy.
The whole show is very organized and professional, which is good because every day the crowds grow geometrically as the start nears. Philippe told me that on the previous Saturday they had 21,000 people view the boats from the pontoons. On start day there is supposed to be 300,000 people in town to see the start! Yow.
I picked up Adrien and Tim in the afternoon at the train station. After getting them settled we went and hit the hospitality tents. And I thought the docks were crazy… More about the many cool booths later, but I did bump into Ellen MacArthur as you can see below. I don’t know if she will be able to grind a winch after signing so many autographs. There was quite a line.
Two other pics are attached. One is a shot of one of the innumerable vendor booths. This one was selling chocolate boats complete with bulb keels. The other is of the crew of “Sill” trying to get work done at night, with the Giant video screen overlooking the harbor behind them. The screen was loudly projecting live interviews with various personalities that were taking place at a press booth back in the hospitality zone.
More soon from “Wocket Weporting”
Vendee Update #2
What is the essence of singlehanded ocean racing? Is it fully supported, professional sailors with the highest tech gear possible and the need to win, or is it the devoted adventurer who wants to face the worst the sea can offer and come back alive? This is a debate I have heard (and pondered) for years.
In my personal sailing home base on San Francisco Bay, there is an avid shorthanded racing community that fields some of the area’s most well attended races. The annual “Three Bridge Fiasco” which often fields 200+ entries was my first singlehanded race (and first singlehanded win). The popular Singlehanded Sailing Society promotes this race along with many others including its signature biannual Singlehanded Transpac Race to Hawaii. Even within this organization there is a debate whether that race should become a more professional event or remain the fascinating and fun “Bug light for weirdos” it is now.
Yet for both schools of thought there is no debate about which is the ultimate singlehanded race. Singlehanded, nonstop, around the world, the Vendee Globe Challenge captures the imagination of every sailor who knows what an imposing goal it is just to finish. The modern version of this race has been held only three times. In 1989/90, the winner was Titouan Lamazou, in 1992/93 it was Alain Gautier, and in 1996/97 it was Christophe Auguin. Each one of these skippers is a legend for his victory, but in this race there are many legends and heroes. I am here now at Les Sables d’Olonne, France, at present the singlehanded Mecca and ground zero for the Vendee Globe Challenge. Even though I don’t speak French (yet) it feels everyone speaks the same language. I haven’t had any problems communicating with the skippers in this year’s fleet and with some of the legends that have built this race.
One of my personal sailing heroes is Jean Luc Van Den Heede, affectionately known to singlehanded fans as “VDH“. I met VDH for the first time last night. He had been doing a lot of interviews for French TV as a ‘color commentator’ at the Vendee Village. Adrien, Tim, and I had downed quite a few beers and we were heading out of the Vendee Village looking forward to another great French meal. I spotted the famous VDH beard and approached him in the dark rain outside the pandemonium of the huge Vendee Village tent. I introduced myself and gave him the quick pitch on my program and the Wylie Wocket. At first he didn’t recognize Tom Wylie’s name, but when I told him about Tom’s boat design in the 1979 Mini Transat his eyebrows raised when he remembered Norton Smith’s victory in ‘American Express’. “Ah yes! Very fast!” When he found out that our “Wocket” is a modernized “skinny” Open 60 his eyes lit up and he exclaimed “Do you have drawing?!” We went back inside the Vendee Village club house, grabbed a table, ignored the crowd and got down to discussing boat design and long distance single handed racing. I was of course delighted to show him the material I had brought along. We had a good time talking about design philosophy and the travails of fund raising. He got a kick out of the fact that I, an American, had memorized much of his racing history! His record is an example of the caliber of the many sailors hanging out here right now.
He was 3rd in the 89/90 Vendee and 2nd in 93/94, and he was also 2nd in the 94/95 BOC. VDH is one of the most respected skippers in the world. He has sailed consistently and safely (for the most part) around the world so many times it’s hard to keep track. To me he is one of the sailors who demonstrated both the desire to win, and to finish safely. All of his races since 1990 were aboard his famous slender yawl; an incredible boat that is no longer super competitive but is still racing. In fact, it is racing yet again this year under charter to Frenchman Joe Seeton. VDH has long been a proponent of a light, narrow, and safe boat as opposed to the wider more powerful (and sometimes dangerous) designs. Both he and his boat have repeatedly shown how hard they are to stop. Even after falling asleep from exhaustion and running up on an Australian beach in leg 2 of the 94/95 BOC, the indomitable boat and sailor were towed off the beach and through the surf relatively unscathed. He went on to finish 3rd in class 1! Last year his final race was an attempt on the West-East “Wrong Way” around the world record. After getting a huge lead on the former record his trusty yawl finally suffered some delaminations while pounding to weather in the southern ocean. VDH abandoned the attempt and evidently decided that he too had had enough.
But his boat is repaired and going around the world (the right direction, in the Vendee) again, and he is here to watch the new crop of great sailors head out to sea. He found out that he has helped to inspire a crazy American to build upon the spirit of his design philosophy. When we shook > hands and said good night, he had a heck of a big smile on his face, and I knew I just had one of the best experiences of the week.
I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world right now. Three days to the start!
Below are a couple of pics from the harbor, including VDH’s old boat next to the new PRB.
Skipper, Made in America Globe Challenges
Vendee report 11-4(am)
Well the weather is a bit less violent, but another front is on the way. There is talk in the Vendee Globe office of the possibility of postponing the start a couple of days. But they will play it by ear. It they can get the boats off of the pontoons I think they will go for it. One of the reasons for not wanting to start in excessive weather is concern about the spectator fleet. The last thing they need is a huge rescue operation to go through at the same time as the start!
This is a very exciting time, yet there is an odd feeling for me. Here I am supposed to be coming up with stories for Sailing World and Latitude 38, but I’m doing more interviews myself for French journalists! Francoise, the proprietor of the fantastic house where we are staying has been wonderful to us. Her neighbors, Marcel & Chantal, are Internet nuts and seem to have alerted their press contacts to my Vendee plans and our team’s ‘story’. They have volunteered to create a French version of our website and have already put some pictures of me on the website of the hotel. Sheesh! I don’t feel like I deserve so much attention for not making the race, but they love the fact that our team (as Americans) are serious about making the next one. It seems the French mentality is that they love stories of effort as much as stories of success. Maybe even more.
I haven’t said much on these updates about the skippers in this year’s landmark Vendee race. Part of the reason is that a lot of information about them is available on the Vendee race website. Also there’s the fact that many of them are such huge sailing superstars. But probably in the U.S. many of you don’t know a lot about them. This year there is a record 24 skippers. The most before was just 16 in 96/97. If you want my scoop on them, here are my picks as the top ones to watch. I’ll list them in roughly my order of likelihood of a top placing, but I change my mind every day. Hope I don’t jinx anyone!
Mike Golding, Team Group 4: British. This is the culmination of a multi-year-coordinated campaign to win the Vendee. Golding is the consummate professional skipper. He has won the BT global challenge and was leading the last Around Alone before he hit an uncharted sandbar. This team’s organization is incredible. Most of the other boats are scrambling in preparation but there is never anyone on Mike’s boat. It is all ready and I swear there isn’t one speck of dirt on this immaculate machine. As long he doesn’t knock off a daggerboard or rudder, Golding is my pick for this year.
Mark Thiercelin, Active Wear: French. Thiercelin has been at this for a while now and was second in the last Vendee (officially that is, Isabelle Autissier actually crossed the line in 2nd but had been disqualified for stopping to replace a rudder). He was leading the last Around Alone (after Golding crashed out and Isabelle flipped over) before losing his rig and handing over the lead to Giovanni Soldini. Perpetually 2nd or 3rd, it may be Thircelin’s time to break through. He certainly has the experience.
Michel Desjoyeaux, PRB: French. PRB wasted no time in replacing Isabelle after she decided she’s had enough capsizes. They went straight to the Euro ‘farm leagues’ and picked proven winner Desjoyeaux. This fellow has won the Figaro (a brutally competitive one-design singlehanded series), and a couple of transatlantic races. PRB is the newest open 60 and very radical. He has a very unusual type of rotating mast and also kick up transom rudders (coincidentally very similar to what Larry Tuttle has designed for our boat, which he did long before we knew PRB had them). Also there is a really cool around-the-boat traveler vang system. This would be my pick to win if things weren’t so new and if he hadn’t already broken his mast and boom….
Ellen MacArthur, Kingfisher: British. Ok, so maybe I’m a little enthralled with this one. But who isn’t? She has unlimited backing, a stellar design and construction team, years of planning, and a seemingly uncanny talent. Her victory in her very first Open 60 race, this years “1star” caused an explosive media frenzy. Ellen is possibly the biggest hero in Europe right now. No kidding, if you were here you’d see what I mean! The whole Kingfisher program has raised the bar on many levels. The big thing for Ellen I think is to not succumb to the pressure and push too hard. The Vendee is the ultimate exercise in pacing. This Cinderella story may come true.
Catherine Chabaud, Whirlpool: French. Actually the race within a race between Ellen and Catherine may overshadow the men in media attention. Catherine is near to Ellen in publicity exposure and has filled the shoes of Isabelle Autissier as the Great Frenchwoman Adventurer. Whirlpool is a really fast boat. Catherine was leading last years Transat Jacques Vabre (doublehanded to Columbia, see my website archives for a report at the start in Le Havre, France) before she fell into a hole at the finish and wound up second. She is the only woman to have officially finished the Vendee, in the 96/97 race she was last, but hey, she made it.
Also top picks: Thomas Coville on Sodebo, France. Roland Jourdain on Sill, France.
Damn! It’s 1am in the morning again. Add to list of things to do: I need to learn to type faster. Right after I learn French…. Attached are pics of Mike Golding and some interesting features on PRB. Check out the continuous furling spools and the strange ratcheting bowsprit tip!
Vendee report 11-4(pm)
By now you should have heard that the Vendee start has been postponed. The new start has been rescheduled for Tuesday 11-7. The reason for the delay is not the weather on Sunday, but that there is a major depression due in that evening before the boats get very far from the lee shore. The predictions are for at least 50kts. If any of the boats has a problem, it will likely be too rough to provide assistance or rescue.
The official position of the various team spokespersons I have talked with say that the skippers are unanimous in supporting the race organizer’s decision. However, I did hear a bit of (unofficial and unquotable) grumbling from at least one camp that wanted to get going as scheduled. The folks in the race organization office doing the website and press releases appear harried and tired. Press looking for the latest news constantly hound them. I think the poor gals are wishing they could go and hide.
In any case, there is such a flurry of cell phone calls to travel agents in Europe that Telecom France has likely already covered the sponsorship costs of “Voila.fr.” Voila.fr is the Internet division of Telecom France and is the sponsor of skipper Bernard Gallay. Which reminds me, I have yet to try to change my flight!!
At first the impression I had was that a lot of people thought it was a mistake to postpone if the weather was fine at the very start. After all, aren’t these boats supposed to take the worst the ocean can dish out? But the choice is probably wise. It would not be good at all for the fleet to get pummeled before they really get their sea legs. And if someone were forced up onto a nasty shoreline it would be truly dangerous. Keep in mind that in the really nasty stuff in the southern ocean they can maneuver to avoid a lot of the storms or run off if they get caught. At least they have a lot of ‘runway’ there. Here in the Bay of Biscay (a notorious piece of water), they would be trapped.
On a more fun note, today I met Sir Chay Blyth, the head of the Challenge Business group. They are the folks running next summers Atlantic Challenge as well as the BT Global and New World Challenge. He was very informative and is keen to get American entries in the Atlantic Challenge. This race will be a full-fledged international event! It is getting down to the wire for us to make this race, and we are completely ready to pick up the pace as support comes through. In case you didn’t know, Sir Chay Blyth (among other great achievements) was the first to sail solo non-stop westward (that’s the wrong way) around the world. Over 300 days! Just thinking about it is scary. Gives you an idea about how tough this bloke is! One of the best things about being here is getting to meet such exemplary sailors and adventurers.
Attached are shots of Sir Chay and me, and another of Fedor Konioukhov, the Russian skipper of “Modern University for the Humanities.” This guy has climbed seven of the world’s highest peaks including Everest (five solo!), been to the north pole three times and the south pole once. Oh, he’s sailed solo around the world three times too. Holy Guacamole!
Time to call United…Bruce
Vendee report 11-5
Originally scheduled to be the start day, today has turned instead into one of waiting. This is a good thing as it is absolutely howling outside, along with the “beacoup de pluie,” or lots and lots of rain. Adrien, Tim, and I had lunch in a café near the beach so we could watch the psychotic windsurfers get pounded. They were crazy to go out and came back pretty soon after eating it repeatedly in the confused breakers. We also watched a couple of fishing boats almost getting rolled while heading back into the harbor. We shot some hilarious video of each other getting blown around the sidewalks.
Philippe Jeantot and the skippers obviously made the right decision. Trying to start the race now would be insanely risky. The spectator fleet would be decimated, the TV helicopters couldn’t fly, and any boat with a problem would be on the shore immediately. Basically the right thing to do today is exactly what we are doing, staying inside, eating cheese and testing ‘du vin’ (wine).
In a response to yesterdays update, it was pointed out to me that I may have mislead you into thinking that Ellen MacArthur’s budget is unlimited. While the Kingfisher budget is most likely in the top ten, what I meant to convey is the unlimited dedication and organization of the Kingfisher team. There is a definite spirit that is aptly summed up by a team motto, “A donf!” which means, “go for it!” or “full on!” What is funny is that the phrase apparently came from a mispronunciation by Ellen of the original French term “A Fond!” But the new word by Ellen stuck like glue, and to say “Ellen, A donf!” is the cheerful rallying call of the team and their fans.
Many of the skippers in this monumental event enjoy the same dedication and spirit in their teams. It has taken years to prepare and reach the start and although it is a singlehanded race it takes a determined group to pull it off.
We have been watching the “Vendee Globe Junior” channel on the TV. This is a separate channel with news, stories, and interviews by and for teens and kids about the Vendee globe. It is very comprehensive, with older teens interviewing skippers and their wives and responsibly leading younger kids to see the boats. Sure beats watching teenage ninja turtles.
Tomorrow I will go over more of the skippers and their boats.
From a nice warm villa in France,
Vendee report 11-6 (am)
La Merde!! The start has been postponed again to Thursday! This means I will have to miss it. This is of course a big disappointment for me, but it is a good decision. It is WAY nasty outside. Even the fishing boats who know the harbor well cannot go out.
Check out the attached pic of the harbor entrance. The walls of the breakwater are a good 20 feet high so you can see how big the crashing waves are. No psycho windsurfers today!
Skipper focus of the morning: Josh Hall, EPB/Gartmore, British. Josh is another one to watch. A handsome and easygoing gent, it is quite inspirational that he is still going at this after what he has been through. In the 94/95 BOC, he hit a submerged object and began to sink. He managed to stay afloat until he was picked up by Aussie hero Alan Nebauer. Then in 98/99 he lost his rig in the Southern Ocean in Leg 3. But he is back, and his boat is the lightest in the fleet. Look for him to do well through the doldrums which may give him a tactical jump. But I’m sure it will be great for Josh and his fans to just make unscathed.
Actually, in this race my feeling is that is the priority for everyone! Especially when they look out to the sea here today.
I met another one of the favorites today, Michel Desjoyeaux. He talked openly about his very progressive boat PRB. His rig is lighter than I thought, but not as light as ours will be….hee hee. Honestly, PRB is very impressive. Michel is definitely one of the big favorites.
Damn, I’m bummed about this weather! But C’est La Vie!
AMD On Board!
Ocean racing fans,
Yours truly, the Wocketeer, is delighted to introduce to you our new Official Supplier for “The Atlantic Challenge”, Advanced Micro Devices.
There will be more press releases soon, but you are the first to know that we have “AMD ON BOARD!” All of our onboard computers where processor speed is critical for ocean navigation and weather analysis, will be AMD powered. Also, all of our shore based PC’s and traveling laptops will have “AMD ON BOARD!”
AMD‘s computer chipmaking technology is second to none. It is reassuring to me to know that with “AMD ON BOARD” I will have their speed, dependability, and efficient power with me.
AMD produces the incredibly high-speed “Athlon” as well the high-value “Duron” and the super power efficient K6(3) computer processor chips. They are based right here in the Bay Area and supply computer makers the world over. So it is fitting that our west coast based “Open 60” ocean racer will use their technology to power us in “The Atlantic Challenge”, truly an International event.
With “AMD ON BOARD!” we will race from France to Germany, England, the US, and back to France. This truly exciting race will be aboard “Open 60” race boats only, which are among the world’s fastest ocean racing monohulls.
Stay tuned for more “Wocket” construction pics!
Bruce Schwab, Skipper
Made in America Globe Challenges
Yesterday several of our Team went with me to Portland to check on the boat progress and pow wow with our builder on a number of details. I’ve included some pics from yesterday. At right is yours truly, with our builder Steve Rander.
Schooner Creek is just starting to really crank up, but a lot has happened in the last week. Things will be changing fast, and we will try to keep you posted.
Last week I reported that we now have “AMD on Board!”, and now I have more good news:
In the new year we will be announcing our
Made possible by a gracious Title Sponsor
This support boost gets us really close to our fundraising goals and will make it easier to bring more supporters aboard. Only a little further to go!
Of course we are all very excited, and tired too as there is so much to do to stay on schedule.
Bruce Schwab, Skipper
Made in America Globe Challenges
Happy New Boat Pics!
Much has been happening over the new year! Here we see the bulkheads in place.
For Release January 30, 2001
NEW U.S. SAILING CAMPAIGN TO DRIVE OCEAN AWARENESS MESSAGE
Revolutionary Sailboat to Pursue Global Race Schedule
OAKLAND, CA – In an unprecedented effort to raise global awareness of the marine environment, the Made in America Foundation announced today the naming of its new Open-60 class yacht Ocean Planet. Skipper and Foundation head Bruce Schwab of Alameda, California will sail Ocean Planet against a fleet of international competitors in some of the world’s most punishing ocean races. The ultra slender, streamlined yacht is nearing completion at Schooner Creek Boat Works in Portland, Oregon.
“Our new name reflects the interests of generous contributors Kevin and Shauna Flanigan,” said skipper and Foundation President Bruce Schwab. “Ocean Planet also recognizes hundreds of grass-roots supporters and contributors who share our respect and love for the world’s oceans. While the sea offers the sailor’s toughest challenges, it is also a fragile resource.”
Open-60 class yachts are designed for single- and shorthanded-sailing, and are capable of speeds up to 30 knots, or almost 35 miles per hour. Ocean Planet was designed by Tom Wylie, a San Francisco-based naval architect celebrated for his fast, innovative yacht designs.
Ocean Planet is the only state-of-the-art Open 60 racing sailboat under construction in the U.S. The boat will be among the lightest and fastest in its class ever built. The yacht will join the grueling schedule of international yacht races for Open 60s later this year.
Viewing the Yacht:
Ocean Planet is scheduled for launch and christening on March 1 in Portland, Oregon. Her racing debut will be the popular Singlehanded Farallones Race off San Francisco on April 14. The public can view the visually stunning sailing machine as the feature attraction at Pacific Sail Expo in Oakland, April 18-22.
Ocean Planet Skipper Bruce Schwab is a resident of Oakland, California. He is a professional sailboat rigger with a highly successful racing record. His wins include victory in the 1996 San Francisco-Hawaii Singlehanded Transpac race aboard Rumbleseat, a beautiful 1930-vintage sailboat he modified himself.
In 1999, he was awarded the Arthur B. Hansen Award from the U.S. Sailing Association for his rescue of a sailor during the previous year’s Doublehanded Farallones Race off the coast of Northern California.
The Made In America Foundation is a non-profit organization developing opportunities and providing inspiration for American amateur and junior sailors to participate in international single-handed and short-handed sailboat racing events.
More information on Ocean Planet and The Made in America Foundation can be found at: WWW.OCEANPLANET.ORG
For PR and sponsorship information contact:
V.B.S.I. Sailing Properties
1369 Cuernavaca Circle
Mountain View, CA. 94040 650-965-8597
Ocean Planet Progress
Wednsday we paid a visit to Portland, Oregon, to check the progress on Ocean Planet. There were a lot of details to go over with our builder, Steve Rander. However, I certainly don’t need much of an excuse to go see the boat, I’d move onto it right now if I could!
Several Team supporters and helpers came along too, and we were all very impressed with the progress. It sure makes a difference to see the boat in person. The attached photos don’t do her justice. For instance, the boat looks much longer and narrower in person than it does through a camera.
The cabin coachroof also looks much larger in the pics than it does in person. It is going to get cut down a lot anyway.
Don’t let the wood fool you into thinking that this is a “low-tech” boat. Kevlar and carbon are used along with the wood wherever the properties of the material are most appropriate. There are at least five different types of wood, each species selected for its particular density, weight, and strength: Western red cedar, aircraft “Finn Birch” ply, sitka spruce, okume ply, fir ply, etc. With the carbon, kevlar, e-glass, and epoxy, the end result is an amazingly light and strong boat. I won’t be afraid to take it anywhere! Our hull laminations are primarily with a special MAS epoxy. MAS is noted for its extremely low viscosity that gives great wet-out and wood penetrating characteristics.
Attached are pics of our deck begining to take shape, our custom Forespar carbon fiber bowsprit, a glimpse of the interior, and a computer rendering of the hull shape. No copying!!
Bruce Schwab, Skipper – Ocean Planet
“Schoolin’, Splicin’ and Boat Buildin'”…
Just a few more weeks left.
Ocean Sailing Fans,
Well it is only a matter of weeks now before “Ocean Planet” hits the water, does the IMOCA rollover test (required by the class rules), and becomes a real “Open 60.”
It seems a little surreal now, to be so close, like a dream. With so much work to do in so little time it seems impossible, but it is all coming together. When I think about it though, it is no mystery why the impossible is happening: Because so many people want it to happen! Everyone is working so hard on all the countless tasks, it is not a normal job for them. This is a dream we all insist on turning into reality! I can’t thank our Team and supporters enough.
Of course we always need more money but I’m used to that…
Ocean Planet goes to School!
Last thursday I did some “Ocean Planet” presentations for a couple classrooms of great kids. It is so invigorating to see how interested such young folks are about the sea. They have been studying about “old” sea voyagers like Magellan and Columbus so they get excited about a “hotrod” like an Open 60. They enjoyed hearing some of my scarier sailing stories from when I was young…. They like exciting stuff.
What was really great was giving a splicing demonstration! I had made up about 70 little splicing kits for them, and they just went nuts over figuring it out. It is amazing how smart some of these little sailors are. I had a feeling they would be smarter than the adults I show splicing to, and I was right! What fun. Even after the bell rang they wanted to stay and splice and hear more stories. I owe their teacher Ann Thomas (who is quite a sailor herself), for inviting me and letting me do my thing. Can’t wait to do it again. Ann is going to set up the class to check in with our email updates so they can stay in touch. These are some shots from one of the greatest group of kids, ever.
Tomorrow I leave for Portland for several days. There is lot to check out, although sometimes I’m sure Steve and the gang hope I’ll stay out of the way! But that’s tough, I need to know this boat inside and out, more so than any boat I’ve ever been on.
Bruce Schwab Skipper, OCEAN PLANET
510-562-4466 office 510-508-9491 cell
P.S. The following is a great letter from the Kids of “Mrs. Thomas'” 3rd grade class.
Thanks for our mention in your news to everyone. I put the photos up on my tv monitor in the classroom, and the kids typed these messages to you. I am going to put it on our school website, maybe with a link to your Ocean Planet website. That way the kids can email you, with parental approval, I hope.
Maybe, someday when you have time, you might start an address list for kid stuff, and send them special emails.
Anyway here is a long thank you note from my class. BTW some of the teachers around here think you are pretty hot. (har har har.. ed.)
“Dear Bruce, “We all really enjoyed you coming in and teaching us about sailing. We especially liked making the splice and the story of the killer whales. We hope you do well in your race. Thank you for coming and teaching us everything. We hope you visit us again!”
From,Brian, Barrie, Robyn, and Alexa.
“Dear Bruce, Thank you so much for visiting our class. Your presentation is the funnest we’ve ever had. The splice was very interesting and fun to try to make correctly. Your story was really scary and funny. We never knew what GPS is used for until you came. We will try to keep the ocean clean. We had a great time. Sincerely, Molly, Grace Marie, and Braden.”
“Dear Bruce, Thanx so much 4 coming to my class and teaching us about sailing. I enjoyed learning to splice and hearing your stories. singed, Christina.”
“Dear Bruce, I loved having you come to our classroom! I loves the splicing lesson that u taught us! i wish you good luck on sailing across to america! LOVE jamie .”
“Dear Bruce, Thank you so much for teaching us about boats. I loved the splicing lesson and the scary stories, like the killer whale story. The ocean is so interesting and fun; I want to preserve it forever!!:)Signed, Neda
Thank you for coming to read to us you taught us a lot about you and sailing. I can not believe you got that close to a whale. That was a awesome story. Thank you for telling us. Ryan.
Thanks so much for coming to my class room and teaching us about sailing. I liked learning to make the splice. I still have it and I like to take it apart and making it over again. I liked the story you told us about the killer whale it was funny and scary. I also liked to hear about you’re new boat you’re making the Ocean Planet I like the name and the reason for naming it that I thing it is a good way to encourage people people to protect the ocean. Emily.
Dear Bruce, We had fun when you were here.I liked the splicing It took a while for me to fix it but I did it. When I got home I took it a part and put it back together again because it was fun to do. When you came in I was exited Because you were sailing around the world. Well gotta go send us an e-mail, Hope Austin.
Bruce Schwa, I don’t know if you were trying or not but I learned that it is really important to not litter or do anything to harm the ocean! My favorite part of your class was the splicing part but please give Mrs. thomas one of those little strings because my little brother pulled the loop out so now I can’t get it to work even my dad tried and he couldn’t get it to work when he has been doing it for years! – Shelbi.
Bruce Schwa, Thank you for coming to our class for a visit. I enjoyed learning how to splice. When you did your splice, you made it look so easy. Then when I tried, it was hard. Also, I liked your story about the killer whale. My favorite part was when your dad was screaming and running around the boat. I hope that you come back to our class some day. If you do, come back soon. Thank you Bruce!!!!!! -Josh.
Dear Bruce,Thank you for teaching us how to make a splice. The story was interesting about the Killer Whale. I was amazed that the GPS is that useful. I learned so much from you also my moms brother as sailed alone to Hawaii and back by his self. From Graham.
Dear Bruce, Thank you for coming in. It was so fun. The splicing lesson was great. I have it in my room and I’m very proud of it. You told awesome scary stories too. The one about your dad and brother and the killer whale was so exciting. I really want to find out about your progress.Taylor.
Dear Bruce, Thank You for visiting us on Thursday. We liked your exciting story about the killer whale, it was sort of scary. We really liked the splicing lesson. We also liked about the thing that you told us to keep the ocean clean. We will always cheer for you! From, Yin-Ju, Tony, Sherie, Michael.
Dear Bruce,Thank you so much for coming to my class and teaching us the full experience of sailing from a real live sailer. I really enjoyed the Splicing lesson. It was really cool and fun. I also loved the killer whale story it was very exiting and suspenseful. Again, thanx a lot for coming, I learned a lot. Kelsey.
Dear Bruce, Thank you for coming to our school.I really enjoyed the splicing lesson. I told my brother that people used it to hang people. That scared him a lot. I also liked the killer whale story. If I were you I would be scared and I would probably panic. Thank you again, I will go on your website to see how you are doing when you are in the race. From Tanner.
Dear Bruce, Thank you for teaching us the spliing and all the information we need to now for sailing. one day I mite sail. From, Yellow Top, Spence.
Dear Bruce Thank you for that wonderful presentation. It was great to learn about life on a boat. The splices were difficult but fun. I loved listening to all your exiting stories. Someday i might want to be a sailor. Good luck on your race. Roxana.
Portland Ore. Update.
Hi from the Columbia River, in Portland, Oregon,
Included are some of the latest pics of the “Ocean Planet”. There has been quite a bit for me to go over, but the Schooner Creek team has everything under control.
We will be going over the hardware and layout this weekend, and they will be painting most of next week. Rollover test April 19th, nonstop systems installations, etc, etc. Very exciting to see it coming together. The “Ocean Planet” rules!
I really love the graphics scheme! Whether or not you miss our party in Portland (full announcement pending) on April 7th, definitely come by Pacific Sail Expo (April 18-22) to take a look.
By the way, all my updates come to you these days from our fantastic AMDpowered computers. This K6+ laptop is great, and what really rocks is the Athlon 1.2ghz powerhouse we have in the office. It is amazing. The only problem is now I can’t stand to use anything else…
Stern View… what our competition should get used to seeing!
Bruce Schwab Skipper, OCEAN PLANET
April 7, 2001 Splash!!!!
It’s happened! After an incredible struggle against time and limited funds, OCEAN PLANET has been launched!! A little after noon on Saturday, April 7th, the first American Open 60 in years was launched in front of a huge and enthusiastic Portland Oregon crowd of well-wishers, press, and TV cameras.
There was a bit of Oregon sprinkles, but the sun came through a few times to match our spirits. There were a few dignitaries on hand to say some words, including our title sponsors Kevin and Shauna Flanigan. Also on hand to show the local spirit was Portland commissioner Charlie Hales. He is a sailor himself and is very proud to have OCEAN PLANET be launched in Portland. I was also delighted to have the local Sea Scout cadets officially raise the American Flag aboard OCEAN PLANET and fire their cannon!
This is the most wonderful boat I have ever seen. Working with Tom Wylie to bring our shared vision of this boat to life, has been an incredible experience. A hell of a lot of work, more than a few arguments, but our inspiration has never given up. If I would reach a point of despair, Tom would keep me going. That and knowing how much all of our supporters share our dream. There are so many others that have worked so hard, especially Steve Rander and the crew at Schooner Creek Boat Works.
In the next few days we take OCEAN PLANET down the coast for Pacific Sail Expo in Oakland (my home town!). There, my heroine Ellen MacArthur will officially christen OCEAN PLANET, which I’m sure will bring us good luck!! That and the rainbow that came out when we stepped the mast (see attached photo)! I am so proud to have the chance to bring the OCEAN PLANET message of the importance of our oceans to everyone! Especially the younger sailors and school kids that I love to teach.
When I woke up this morning I thought it all was a dream. Then I walked down to the dock and there she was, waiting for us to get back to work on her!
Bruce Schwab – Skipper
“We Did It!” April 14, 2001
OCEAN PLANET Lives!
Well folks, I can hardly believe it myself. But the first American Open 60 in years is almost ready for Pacific Sail Expo.
We had a great trip down the coast. There was a good variety of conditions to test the boat in, although we were using a borrowed delivery mainsail. But that didn’t stop us from hitting over 27kts with our small chute up in some big breeze. What a kick. I can tell already that OCEAN PLANET is something special!
Surfing Ocean Planet home during the April delivery.We have an important message to send with OCEAN PLANET. People DO care about being involved and interacting with our Oceans. This is a strong statement made by the people that have by supported us. The very fact that this Open 60 was built almost entirely from donations says a lot! It also says that there is a lot of pent-up support for a bigger American involvement in the world of serious ocean racing.
Our Team has worked incredibly hard to make it to Sail Expo. I cannot say thanks enough to the fantastic crew at Schooner Creek Works. What a great bunch of guys Steve Rander has there. They have created one of the most fantastic boats you will ever see, in an impossibly small amount of time, at mimimal cost. I was there for the final few weeks, and I can tell you it was something to see.
This may sound strange, but now a new battle begins. I pulled every string and card I have to finish OCEAN PLANET and get her here for the show. The Made in America Foundation is now flat broke (me too). In order to race this great machine, we must raise, all over again, as much money as it took to build her! Sail Expo is our best chance to show what we have created, and generate the sponsorship and donations to get us out racing.
I hope to see you at the show, and thank you for your support! The image above is shot of one very tired but happy sailor bringing Ocean Planet home. To the right is a sneak shot of our Nav station. Notice the Navtreks navigation software running on the display?
Bruce Schwab Skipper