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North Sails clothing: A sailing kit revolution? (11 Jun 2021, 8:18 am)

North Sails has teamed up with Nigel Musto to produce what they believe to be the most advanced sailing clothing ever made. Toby Hodges takes a look at the technology.

Very rarely do new brands of wet weather gear come along, so when North Sails decided to enter the foray and produce their own North Sails clothing it had to be pretty confident that it had something new and enticing to offer.

The world’s leading sailmaker headhunted an industry leader to give it the jump. Nigel Musto, previously the long-standing designer and consultant for the eponymous former family firm, was effectively given a blank sheet of paper to design the best wet weather gear in the world.

The new range of high performance gear comprises four new lines to suit sailors from the highest end of Grand Prix and inshore racing, to offshore and full ocean foulies.

Optimised for Fastnet Race/Sydney Hobart type races, or up to five days offshore, these are light weight and available as smock (£700), jacket (£700) and trousers (£600)

Manufacturing is done in one of the very few Chinese factories licensed to use the Gore-Tex Pro membrane. “In our market there are only two companies with the license for Gore-Tex kit – Musto and North Sails,” says Nigel Musto.

Speaking from the North Sails Gosport loft with the first garments ready to go in store, he explained that he had been trying to solve a number of key problems for years when the sailmaking firm approached him in January 2019.

The first centred on water repellent coatings: “Over the last 25 years various EU directives have meant durable water repellents (DWR) have been gradually watered down.” This is to reduce the environmental impact of the fluorocarbons they typically use. The downside is that they became less effective. “Where water used to bead off for weeks, now a good DWR will wet-out after a few days offshore and the garment becomes colder and heavier.”

He found that water gets trapped between the nylon yarns, which quickly adds weight. “We worked with Gore-Tex on some new fabrics and developed a TightWeave, which comprises incredibly thin, tightly woven yarns. This prevents the moisture getting trapped.”

The new fabric features: 4-layer durable laminate for robust reinforcement; Tightweave facing fabric; Gore-Tex Pro membrane; and and inner protective scrim

This, he says, has prevented the majority of moisture absorption, so the Performance garments are lighter and more comfortable.

“Yachtsmen had been telling me for 30 years that they were getting damp bums,” Musto continues. “Even though we would pressure test them and prove fabrics were not leaking we still couldn’t figure out why it would happen.”

New tech for North Sails clothing

They traced the problem to the patches used on the knees and seat of trousers. “Cordura holds a lot of water so gains weight when it wets-out. When you sew a patch on, it creates a pocket that can never dry out. Body heat warms the water up in this pocket and the breathability process reverses and moisture goes inwards.”

DuraSeal is a new 1.2mm thin neoprene for a durable watertight seal

North Sails happens to be a world leader in lamination technology, says Musto, “so we found a way of laminating on top of Gore-Tex.” Called 4DL, which means 4-layer durable laminate, the fourth layer is a non-absorbent material on top of the 3-layer Gore-Tex.

Laminating the patches stopped water getting through and prevented pockets forming.
“We found we had fixed all of the issues suddenly and the bonus of the combination of TightWeave fabric and 4DL patches is a garment which weighs 30% less than others when dry and with 70-80% less absorption of traditional gear when wetted out.”

“From a sailor’s perspective this is so much more comfortable – not holding water so you’re not getting cold.”

The fabric could revolutionise performance sailing kit, says Musto: “4DL patches are as big an advance in technology as Gore-Tex was in the 1990s – the pros are saying it’s that comfortable.” IMOCA skipper Kevin Escoffier has sailed 30,000 miles in his kit.

North’s new Performance range also introduces other new tech such as a permeable nanofibre to help ensure its GP line is ultra lightweight, and a neoprene-based DuraSeal for waterproof neck and wrist seals, which won’t perish under UV like latex seals.

The range is currently available in unisex sizes S-3XL, with women’s-cut items due 2022.

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Ocean Race Europe: Leg two finish sets up close final leg (10 Jun 2021, 8:16 am)

The second leg of The Ocean Race Europe has come to a close with all seven VO65s finishing ahead of the fully crewed IMOCA60s

The second leg of The Ocean Race Europe finished in Alicante, Spain on Wednesday 9 June, the culmination of three days of tight racing between the 12 international crews since they left Cascais, Portugal on Sunday afternoon.

Bereau Vellee. IMOCA 60 closes in on the finish of the second leg of The Ocean Race Europe. Photo: Sailing Energy / Ocean Race Europe

The second leg of the race showed just how optimised the (mostly foiling) IMOCA 60s are for downwind oceanic passages and, although technically faster than the VO65s on the right point of sail, all seven of the one-design VO65s made it to Alicante by midday local time Wednesday, around 11nm ahead of the five IMOCA 60s.

The second leg of the inaugural edition of the three stage European event, which will finish in Genova, Italy on 19 June, proved to be a challenging affair with the teams facing a wide range of conditions along the 700nm course, finishing in Alicante, Spain, the home port of The Ocean Race, and the start venue for the round the world race in October 2022.

Article continues below…

Conditions on the leg ranged from fast downwind sailing in the Atlantic on the first day and night along the Portuguese coast to battling gale-force headwinds in the Gibraltar Strait on day two, and culminating with light wind, ghosting conditions for the final night in the Mediterranean Sea.

The first VO65 home was Portugal’s Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team who managed to prevail following a prolonged cat and mouse battle with Netherlands team AkzoNobel Ocean Racing which had been looking to pounce since the fleet entered the Mediterranean on Monday.

Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team was the first boat across the line. Photo: Sailing Energy / Ocean Race Europe

Before dawn today the pair drifted the final miles to Alicante under the cover of darkness and on mirror flat seas. The Portuguese yacht crossed the line just before sunrise at 0336 UTC / 0536 CEST – a little under half an hour ahead of the Dutch team.

Although the final 24 hours of close quarters match racing had been nerve-wracking for the two sleep-deprived crews, both skippers admitted the sailors thrived on the intensity of the racing.

“It was a long fight with Akzo,” said Yoann Richomme (FRA), skipper of the Mirpuri Foundation crew. “We manged to overtake them yesterday afternoon and then managed to hang on to our lead after that, which was very tough.

“We got very little sleep; the whole crew is very tired now. It was a full-on spinnaker run until the south of Portugal, then some strong upwind stuff through Gibraltar, and then straight into some light wind sailing. We were doing a manoeuvre – changing sails or something – every hour, so it was hard to get any rest.”

In the IMOCA fleet Thomas Ruyant’s LinkedOut crew successfully defended what had been almost an entire leg-long lead against final-hour challenges from a trio comprising Robert Stanjek’s non-foiling IMOCA, Offshore Team Germany (GER); the American 11th Hour Racing Team, skippered by Charlie Enright (USA); and Louis Burton’s French foiler Bureau Vallée.

LinkedOut was the first boat home in IMOCA 60 class. Photo: Sailing Energy / Ocean Race Europe

The leg two results have created a three-way tie in the IMOCA 60s, with LinkedOut, Offshore Team Germany, and 11th Hour Racing Team, filling the respective podium positions on Leg 2 – all tied on nine points apiece.

“It’s cool that we’re all on equal points – anything can happen! It’s not going to be easy,” said LinkedOut sailor Clarisse Clemer.

Analysing the Leg two performance, she noted: “We had a good start, we were fast and we managed to go to the right places on the water and so it all worked out. We didn’t expect to have no wind at times during this last night, so we were a bit nervous, and in the end it was tense and close, there was a bit of pressure on board.”

With such a close leaderboard at the top of both the IMOCA and VO65 classes there is a lot at stake on leg three, with the reasonable possibility that the final results could be decided by the outcome of the coastal race in Genova, which assigns bonus points to the top three finishers in each class.

Ocean Race Europe leg two provisional results


1: Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team (POR) – 7 points
2: AkzoNobel Ocean Racing (NED) – 6 points
3: Sailing Poland (POL) – 5 points
4: Viva México (MEX) – 4 points **
5: Team Childhood I (NED) – 3 points
6: The Austrian Ocean Race Project (AUS) – 2 points
7: Ambersail-2 (LTU) – 1 point


1: LinkedOut (FRA) – 5 points
2: Offshore Team Germany (GER) – 4 points
3: 11th Hour Racing Team (USA) – 3 points
4: Bureau Vallée (FRA) – 2 points
5: CORUM L’ Epargne (FRA) – 1 point

Ocean Race Europe standings after Leg Two


1: LinkedOut (FRA) – 9 points
2: Offshore Team Germany (GER) – 9 points
3: 11th Hour Racing Team (USA) – 9 points
4: CORUM L’ Épargne (FRA) – 6 points
5: Bureau Vallée (FRA) – 3 points


1: Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team (POR) – 11 points
2: AkzoNobel Ocean Racing (NED) – 11 points
3: Sailing Team Poland (POL) – 10 points
4: The Austrian Ocean Race Project (AUS) – 9 points
5: Team Childhood I (POL) – 8 points
6: Ambersail-2 (LTU) – 7 points
7: Viva México (MEX) – 6 points

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First look: Rapido 50 folding trimaran (9 Jun 2021, 10:53 am)

The recently launched Rapido 50 will share many of the same characteristics of her predecessors as a performance folding trimaran that should turn heads

The potent-looking Rapido 50, shown in its folded state

When launched in 2016 the Morelli and Melvin-designed Rapido 60 quickly established this brand as a new breed of ultra-fast, yet practical, performance cruising/racing trimaran

The Vietnam-based builder has two further models in development, at 40ft and 50ft. Both are folding multihull designs, which enables them to slip into a regular monohull marina berth and reduces storage costs when ashore.

Construction of the Morelli and Melvin design is of infused carbon foam sandwich, with beams, daggerboards and rudder made of pre-preg carbon. The central hull is configured for single-level living, with the cockpit and deckhouse both on the same level, although the Rapido 50 has a higher helm station to give a clear view over the coachroof.

Polars for this model show it being capable of well over 20 knots of boat speed across a wide range of reaching wind angles, and as much as 18 knots beam reaching in just 14 knots of breeze. The first Rapido 50 was built for delivery to an owner in Palma, Mallorca.

Article continues below…

Rapido is also working on a 40-footer with curved C-foils and T-foil rudders. As well as offering a performance boost, without the control issues of a fully foiling boat, these allow the interior to be opened up as there’s no need for a daggerboard in the central hull.

The result looks to be a very enticing high performance yacht with a civilised two-cabin interior and acres of deck space.

Base prices are ex works, ex sails and electronics, and with aluminium spars.

Rapido 50 specification

LOA: 15.24m / 50ft 9in
LWL: 14.96m / 49ft 1in
Max beam: 10.38m / 34ft 1in
Folded beam: 5.5m / 18ft 1in
Draught: 0.67-3.52m / 2ft 2in to 11ft 7in
Displacement (light): 6,550kg / 14,400lb
Base Price: US$796,000 ex VAT

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Yachting World is the world’s leading magazine for bluewater cruisers and offshore sailors. Every month we have inspirational adventures and practical features to help you realise your sailing dreams.
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Food for sailing: Our guide to the best options (8 Jun 2021, 4:33 pm)

Looking to choose the right food for sailing? Toby Hodges and Rupert Holmes highlight and review a variety of easy meals, snacks and supplements for the galley locker

Clarisse Cremer delights in fresh citrus during the 2020/21 Vendee Globe

While we know the top professional sailors, Olympians and America’s Cup grinders are lean, mean machines who inhale protein shakes to fuel their elite exercise routines, there is also a growing appetite from us mere recreational sailors to take nutrition more seriously when we consider the best food for sailing.

And while a liveaboard lifestyle of growing your own salads and herbs and living off fresh fish may be the dream, the reality for most is that we’re sailing for short periods and convenience food often comes first.

Volvo Ocean Race sailors tuck in to some much needed freeze dried food. Photo: Matt Knighton

Food for sailing typically still consists of ‘meal deal’ affairs, comprising sandwiches, sugary drinks and chocolate bars, but replacing the sandwich for a nutrient and calorie rich meal could pay, and certainly opting for snacks and drinks based on natural ingredients rather than sugary foods which cause spikes and slumps in energy.

There are also a growing number of natural products becoming available in easily digestible forms to help with sports recovery, which could prove useful to keep in the galley lockers. Turmeric for example has been linked with aches and pain relief and ginger can help alleviate seasickness.

Expedition Foods

Perhaps the most well-known brand of freeze-dried and vacuum-pack meals is Expedition Foods. This UK brand, favoured by sailors, rowers, mountaineers and adventurers, has a big range of dried and wet food, ration packs, gels, and snacks, with good information about calorie intake and three different calorie versions of each meal.

Will Hodshon and Richard Mitchell relied on Expedition pouches as their main source of food for sailing during their record breaking sail around Britain in a Wayfarer open dinghy in 2019. Having ingested two 1,000 calorie meals a day for their 15 day voyage, Hodshon says these ready meals were often a highlight of their day.

“Rich being a veggie, crossed his fingers for the mac and cheese, but I thought it was hard to beat the spag bol for a bit of home comfort on the high seas,” he tells me.

Buy Expedition Foods’ Spaghetti Bolognese from Amazon (UK)

Buy Expedition Foods’ Macaroni and Cheese from Amazon (UK)

Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. This doesn’t affect our editorial independence.

Le Bon Bag

This French firm is a giant in the industry and supplied a number of Vendee Globe skippers, including Louis Burton and Jean Le Cam, as well as Dutch Golden Globe Race competitor Mark Slats.

The premise is to produce meals that are as close to restaurant quality as possible. Portions are vacuum-sealed in aluminium pouches and can be boiled in their bags or heated in a conventional oven.

The cuisse de canard confite (confit duck leg) is super tender and juicy – if plated up with veg and potatoes you’d never guess it had come out of a sachet with a 3-year shelf life at room temperature.

On the downside this option falls short of being a complete meal in a bag and needs to be accompanied by carbohydrate and veg. It’s one of a range of 20 different recipes in which classic French meat dishes figure heavily.

Buy confit duck leg from Le Bon Bag


Available in pouch form to which you add boiling water, or, as we tried, as a ready to go meal with self-heater supplied with the pack. The heater bags just need a little water (50ml) to activate them, and can then heat the meal (or a soup or hot drink) in 12 minutes, with no fuel or fire needed.

The food pouches are ready meals, so no need to rehydrate them. This means the texture and taste is a lot closer to a freshly made meal than dried food, yet they still have a three-year shelf life.

The chicken Madras is tasty and spicy, with proper chunks of meat and texture. I was puzzled by the ‘zero trace’ claim on what looks like landfill packaging, but Forestia says all its packaging is 100% recyclable.

Buy Fiorestia Chicken Madras from Amazon (UK)


Adventurers started this Dorset company in 2017 after they couldn’t find tasty natural portable food. Founder John Fisher wanted a preservative-free alternative to the freeze-dried meals he was used to relying on when trekking and insisted on using locally sourced fresh ingredients with no additives or flavourings.

The complete one-pot meals are hand-cooked and then dehydrated – as opposed to the common method which mixes ingredients after they have been freeze-dried.

I have tried a couple of these, back when the company was fairly new and was impressed with the taste – particularly the chilli and risotto meals. Perhaps there is a psychological element at play, knowing you’re eating properly sourced and prepared food, but it certainly helps it taste a cut above any other dehydrated food.

Firepot has now extended the range of foods offered and developed a range of eco-packaged meals, which use bio-sourced compostable bags. These obviously need to be heated in a pan not a bag and have a reduced shelf life (one year as opposed to the three of its yellow plastic waterproof pouches), but present a great eco-alternative for those seeking environmentally friendly food for sailing.

Buy Firepot Chilli at Amazon (UK)

Freeze-dried alternatives


I’ve found that vegetarian freeze dried meals can have a more realistic texture than those with meat and Summit’s vegetable chipolote chilli with rice is no exception. Indeed there were few signs that it was freeze dried, though I allowed it to absorb moisture for longer than the stated period.

A recommendation from Tony White, veteran of many double-handed Rolex Fastnet races, as well as the AZAB and Round Britain and Ireland, is to empty the contents of a freeze-dried pack into a wide-neck Thermos jar, then leave the meal to soak up water for at least 30 minutes (three times the usual recommended period).

As well as the palatable texture, this chilli tastes good as well, especially if you like spicy food, though my first choice would still be a wet meal.

Buy Summit’s Vegetable Chilli with Rice from Amazon (UK)


Part of the Katadyn group, which includes Katadyn and Spectra watermakers, these German made products cater for all meals, snacks and rations.

TreknEat has partnered with the Global Challenge Race 2023 to provide skippers with reduced cost meal options. These freeze-dried products are quick and easy to make. The Chicken in Curried Rice smells and looks like it tastes – not great. Stodgy and unnecessarily sweet.

However, while these are not an everyday option for a cruising sailor, their five year shelf life makes them a handy alternative to have in the locker to warm you up and give you the protein and energy needed on a cold day at sea.

They average 600 calories per pouch. Breakfasts and desserts are also available, including muesli and mousse.

Buy TreknEat Chicken in Curried Rice from Amazon (UK)

Tribal Baobab smoothies

Described as the ultimate super-fruit, this African fruit is one of the most nutrient dense foods, which is rich in calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamin C.

The smoothies are created by blending wild harvested baobab with high-quality organic ingredients to provide a pouch that aids slow energy release, digestive health and strength.

These vegan friendly products are less concentrated than most energy smoothies so are easier on the stomach. Taste wise, if you’re not used to energy gels it does feel like you’re ingesting pureed baby food and it’s a tad acidic.

But I like that this Westcountry-based firm is bringing out prototype recyclable propylene pouches this summer and its founder Chris Martin tells me it is “part of an initiative to produce a compostable pouch from seaweed in Falmouth bay – which will take 18 months.”

Buy Tribal Baobab Smoothies from Amazon (UK)

If you enjoyed this….

Yachting World is the world’s leading magazine for bluewater cruisers and offshore sailors. Every month we have inspirational adventures and practical features to help you realise your sailing dreams.
Build your knowledge with a subscription delivered to your door. See our latest offers and save at least 30% off the cover price.

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Ngoni for sale: Stunning sailing superyacht yours for £45m… (8 Jun 2021, 1:54 pm)

For the first time the late Ed Dubois and Royal Huisman collaboration, Ngoni, has gone on sale. She remains for many one of the most stunning yachts ever launched

Photo: Breed Media

“Build me a beast. Don’t build me a sheep in wolf’s clothing. This has to be an edgy and innovative weapon; fast and furious.” This was the owners brief for Ngoni, which has now been listed for sale with Carrswood Yachts.

In other circumstances this brief would have been challenging enough, but when the project is a giant 58m (190ft) sloop with a displacement of nearly 400 tonnes you quickly start pushing the boundaries of superyacht design, deck hardware and materials technology.

Happily for those with a spare £45m and who might be interested in Ngoni, when Rupert Holmes (reporting for Yachting World) looked at Ngoni in detail and spoke with her designers, he found a boat that had more than delivered on the challenging owners’ brief.

Article continues below…

There is much to be impressed with on Ngoni, not least her rig. The towering mast, built by Rondal, is one of the world’s largest one-piece carbon spars. The rig had to look aesthetically perfect, so the aft four metres of the boom is an extension beyond the clew of the mainsail that’s shaped to match the profile of Ngoni’s stern.

The enormous square top mainsail covers almost a quarter of an acre – the equivalent of four tennis courts.


Photo: Breed Media

As well as contributing to the minimalist styling, the elimination of as much on-deck hardware as possible has reduced weight aloft, while minimising wind resistance and improving airflow, particularly over the headsails.

Another key requirement of the brief was that the boat needed to be fun and rewarding to sail.  It had to be a boat that you could sail all day and step off without feeling too tired from the excitement of hands-on fast sailing.

These requirements called for a high aspect ratio-balanced rudder allied to a manual steering system with no power assistance. The design process led to a single, 6.95m2 (75ft2) carbon rudder also made by Royal Huisman’s sister company Rondal.

Down below

An impressive racer Ngoni may be, but she is still a superyacht and down below she still displays the sort of finery you would expect for the price tag.


Photo: Breed Media

The interior was designed by Rick Baker and Paul Morgan. The pair do not work exclusively in the marine field so they were able to bring some bold, outside-the-box thinking to the project.

There are several specialist finishes which would not normally be associated with a contemporary yacht. These include artisan resin panels and metalised spray and lacquered textured effects. Other finishes include bespoke veneers, distinctive marbles and Italian onyx.

The deckhouse has a bar and dining area to starboard and informal seating, with coffee tables and a pop-up television, to port. A curved staircase leads down from the deckhouse to the owner’s and guest accommodation. The lavish owners’ suite takes up a significant proportion of the main accommodation deck.

It includes a full-beam stateroom with a large bathroom, a study and a spacious gym with an opening port in the topsides. There are two superbly appointed guest cabins – a twin to port and a double to starboard with a Japanese theme.

See Rupert Holmes’ full feature on Ngoni.

If you enjoyed this….

Yachting World is the world’s leading magazine for bluewater cruisers and offshore sailors. Every month we have inspirational adventures and practical features to help you realise your sailing dreams.
Build your knowledge with a subscription delivered to your door. See our latest offers and save at least 30% off the cover price.

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World’s toughest sailing record: New bid announced (8 Jun 2021, 12:36 pm)

French sailor Romain Pilliard to take on the world's toughest sailing record - around the world non-stop against the prevailing winds and currents - in Ellen MacArthur's former record-breaking trimaran

The former B&Q trimaran is now racing as Use it Again, with a sustainability message

An attempt on the toughest sailing record, the westabout round the world course, is being planned later this year by French sailor Romain Pilliard.

The 46-year-old Figaro sailor and IMOCA crew will be sailing with another as yet unnamed co-skipper in a bid to break the 34,000-mile ‘wrong way’ record non-stop round the world against prevailing winds and currents.

Pilliard will sail the trimaran Use it Again!, the 75ft Nigel Irens design (then B&Q) that Ellen MacArthur sailed to a non-stop eastabout round the world record in 2005.

The wrong-way record has been completed by only five sailors since it was first set in 1971 by Chay Blyth. Then dubbed ‘the impossible voyage’ it was a record of greater duration and vastly greater arduousness than the downwind route, as it involved punching much more slowly into a greater number of storms across the expanse of the Southern Ocean, as well as battling counter-currents.

Article continues below…

While all the previous record breakers have been on conservative, robustly built monohulls, and sailing solo, Pilliard will sail double-handed and follow a different route.

It has been a long-held theory that the record would next fall to a multihull, provided it was sufficiently manageable to round Cape Horn to windward. The argument goes that a multihull would be fast enough to sail into the more clement latitudes of the Pacific and Indian Ocean – in other words, could make the wrong-way route more right-way, albeit with some very gnarly corners.

The theory was put to the test in 2017 by Yves Le Blévec on the 100ft trimaran Actual. But Blévec capsized off Cape Horn when one of the trimarans port linkages broke in winds of 30-40 knots and 6m seas. Fortunately he was able to shelter inside until airlifted to safety by the Chilean Coastguard.

French record challenger Romain Pilliard

Pilliard has thousands of miles of solo racing experience on the trimaran, including racing in the 2019 Route du Rhum transatlantic race. He comments: “The choice of [two skippers] makes sense. Even if I know my boat well, it’s still a multihull, it can turn over. There can be days of waiting [near Cape Horn] if the conditions are not kind and it’s less dangerous to wait double-handed than solo, especially in bad conditions.”

Pilliard has been working closely on all the route options with weather expert Christian Dumard. He is using the project to promote the ethos of reduce, reuse and recycle and says his boat is an example of the philosophy.

“I want to show that not only will the human adventure be no less beautiful than a Jules Verne Trophy with a new boat, for example, but that it is necessary to make the greatest number dream differently.”

History of the world’s toughest sailing record

1971 – Chay Blyth, British Steel (59ft Robert Clark-designed cutter, steel), 293 days. Average speed: 3.85 knots

1982 – David Cowper, Ocean Bound (41ft Sparkman & Stephens cutter), 221 days. Average speed: 3.91 knots

1994 – Mike Golding, Group 4 (67ft steel Challenge cutter, David Thomas design), 167 days. Average speed: 5.61 knots

2000 – Philippe Monnet, UUNet (Philippe Briand design Open 60), 151 days. Average speed: 5.97 knots

2000 – Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, Adrien (85ft Giles Vaton-designed aluminium cutter), 122 days. Average speed: 7.43 knots

(2006 – First woman non-stop: Dee Caffari, Aviva, 72ft steel Challenge cutter, Rob Humphreys design, 178 days. Average speed: 5.09 knots.)

If you enjoyed this….

Yachting World is the world’s leading magazine for bluewater cruisers and offshore sailors. Every month we have inspirational adventures and practical features to help you realise your sailing dreams.
Build your knowledge with a subscription delivered to your door. See our latest offers and save at least 30% off the cover price.

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Atlantic crossing: Extra ARC rally added for bumper entries (8 Jun 2021, 12:19 pm)

Huge demand for places on the transatlantic ARC rally has led to the addition of a third rally this winter, with almost 400 yachts set for an Atlantic crossing

After a year of lockdowns and travel limitations, such is the pent-up demand for sailing adventure that World Cruising Club will be running three ARC transatlantic rallies this winter, bringing the combined expected fleet to a record-breaking total of almost 400 yachts taking on an Atlantic crossing.

The ARC from Gran Canaria to St Lucia and ARC+ rally via Cape Verde will start as normal in November, but will be followed after Christmas by another, new Atlantic crossing event named ARC January.

Many crews who had been forced to postpone their Atlantic crossing in 2020 had transferred to this November’s ARC. Those numbers were further bolstered by new entries, and entries had reached the maximum of 315 yachts even before the beginning of this year.

There has been huge demand for places for the 2021 ARC rallies. Photo: James Mitchell/WCC

“We had 180 boats hoping to go last year that transferred so we were already full, and enquiries kept on coming in. We had to find a solution,” explains Andrew Bishop, managing director of World Cruising.

“Rather than turn people away or have a big waiting list, we decided to launch a new event. We looked at all the options and in the end was best solution was to go in January.”

Within ten days of notifying skippers on the waiting list about the new Atlantic crossing rally, and before announcing it publicly, ARC January had 30 confirmed entries. “So far we have self-imposed limit of 75, but there is no reason why that couldn’t go up,” comments Andrew Bishop.

The rally will start on Sunday, 9 January 2022 and has the advantage of beginning in the height of the tradewinds season, so it should benefit from good winds and fast crossings along – or close to – the rhumb line between the Canary Islands and the St Lucia.

ARC January will not have a racing division, unlike the ARC, but it will feature parties, webinars and a shoreside programme similar to the slightly smaller, more family orientated ARC+ rally.

Meanwhile the ARC+ has a new destination for 2021 November. This year the ARC+ transatlantic rally via the Cape Verde Islands will finish at Port Louis Marina Grenada, also expanding capacity to 100 places.

In all, there will be three ARC rallies next winter, the main ARC direct to St Lucia, the ARC+ to Grenada and ARC January (also direct to St Lucia) in early 2022, creating between then places for 390 boats. This would be the largest number ever to sail across the Atlantic in organised groups.

The ARC and ARC+ transatlantic rally routes

The ARC+ has been steadily growing in popularity, especially among smaller family crews wanting to make a stop en route. However, to allow it to grow it had been split between a finish in St Lucia, where yachts had to leave to allow room for the main ARC rally starting two weeks later, and a finish in St Vincent. Now the rally has been brought together as one to finish in Grenada, where there is space for all 100 yachts.

“The opportunity arose to bring the two together,” explains Andrew Bishop. “The ARC+ felt overshadowed and now we can focus on them as a group without the pressure for them to leave, For many they can also start cruising in the area want to be in.”

“The ARC+ offers those looking to break the trip in two a good option,” he continues. “It is people who want to explore more places and is being chosen by people who are perhaps more lightly crewed who appreciate that break. It is a great opportunity to give the rally its own identity.”

The new route is a long-term arrangement following a five-year contract with Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina.

Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis marina, Grenada

Charlotte Fairhead, marina manager, says: “We are delighted to be the host venue. Our marina has recently undergone a fantastic renovation, with extra facilities for an additional 90 new berths, ranging from 12-22m.”

The ARC+ will start from Las Palmas on 7 November and the majority of the fleet is expected to make landfall in Grenada between 1 and 6 December.

See for more.

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Energy Observer: From ocean racer to tech wonder (8 Jun 2021, 9:13 am)

François Tregouet reports on Energy Observer, the former ocean racing catamaran now converted into a ‘zero emissions’ scientific platform

Energy Observer in the Svalbard Archipelago, August 2019. Photo: Energy Observer Productions

Few boats have had such a rich and varied history over the past 40 years as this one, now known as Energy Observer.

Would Nigel Irens and Mike Birch, the boat’s creators, even recognise it today? The slender bows of Formule TAG, now Energy Observer, remain the identifying feature of this famous ocean racer, but much else has changed during the boat’s many lives.

In 1983, the 80ft Formule TAG was launched as part of a revolutionary new generation of multihulls designed for ocean racing and record-breaking. At the time it was the largest ocean racing catamaran of its type, built using aerospace technology. The following year it beat the 24-hour record by covering 512.5 miles.

In 1993 it was bought by Peter Blake and Robin Knox-Johnston for a Jules Verne attempt, famously flying a spinnaker decorated with bright red and green apples under the name ENZA (Eat New Zealand Apples).  The second attempt, in 1994, succeeded and the boat set a round the world crewed record of 74 days.

Next, it became Royal & SunAlliance, skippered by Tracy Edwards. Although the Jules Verne Trophy proved elusive, Edwards and her team broke seven world records.

The Irens-designed catamaran was relaunched as Enza in 1993 for Peter Blake and Robin Knox-Johnston’s Jules Verne campaign, successfully taking five days off the previous record. Photo: Ajax News/Alamy

Then Tony Bullimore took it on, extending the hulls to 100ft and racing as Team Legato in the round the world race organised by Bruno Peyron to celebrate the year 2000: The Race.

In 2010, off Cape Finistère, it capsized in 15 knots of wind. Many thought the boat would never recover from such an accident: too old to race, too damaged to be repaired.

A new purpose

However, French entrepreneur Victorien Erussard, who has sailed everything from Hobie cats and Formula 18s to competing in the Route du Rhum and Transat Jacques Vabre, had a different idea.

His aim was to build the first 100% energy self-sufficient vessel. The chassis of a former ocean-racing catamaran would make the ideal platform, and ‘recycling’ an existing boat fitted perfectly with the project’s ambitions.

The two Oceanwings developed by VPLP have a total surface area of 64m² and are 1.8 times more efficient than conventional sails and rigs. Photo: Energy Observer Productions

Since Energy Observer was launched in 2012, the project has been in constant evolution, and has so far covered over 30,000 miles.

The Energy Observer team believes that in order to be feasible as a truly zero-emissions boat, capable of sailing from the Arctic Circle to the equator, the vessel requires a mix of energy sources. Having a diversity of sources improves “reliability, performance and safety” notes Louis-Noël Viviès, the project’s general manager.

The main propulsion on board is provided by two 45kW electric motors. These are generously sized and are not used to their maximum capacity, so offer high efficiency. Opting for a single battery bank capable of powering them over a long period of time without recharging would have sent the project into a downward spiral in terms of weight. Instead, Energy Observer has two smaller battery banks, with a combined total of 100kW, which is also safer.

This hybrid solution still weighs in at 1.4 tonnes. In the future, with lighter batteries currently being developed, this weight should be halved for the same capacity.

The batteries act as a buffer between the motors and the four different energy sources required to guarantee a 24/7 power supply. The most innovative of these is undoubtedly hydrogen.

Developed in partnership with Toyota, the two hydrogen fuel cells are capable of producing 10 times more energy than batteries on board for the same weight, and almost indefinitely. Photo: Energy Observer Productions

The battery was developed by the project’s partner Toyota, from the one used in their hydrogen-powered car the Mirai. “It provides 10 times more energy for the same weight than the other batteries on board,” says Viviès. There are two hydrogen batteries, one in each hull, with a peak power of 80kVA.

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Although they now cost three times less than the first generation batteries originally installed, the hydrogen batteries are still twice the price of a generator of the same power. On the other hand, they are guaranteed for 80,000 hours, maintenance-free, and have no associated fuel costs, since Energy Observer manufactures (via desalination, purification then electrolysis) and stores in eight tanks of 64kg its own hydrogen from sea water.

The efficiency of the battery is 2.5 times higher than that of diesel once you consider the energy needed to extract, refine and transport it to the pump. The battery also generates 50% of the heat used on board, so the crew never lacks hot water, and was able to enjoy a cosy warm interior during the boat’s trip north to Spitsbergen.

An iguana swims underneath the large superstructure added to the original racing hull to support additional solar panels. Photo: Energy Observer Productions

The third energy source is the solar panels, which cover 202m² of surface area and put out a cumulative power of 35kW. The solar panels use various technologies depending on their location on the deck or superstucuture.

Some are double-sided to capture the rays reflected by the surface of the water. Elsewhere, they are covered with a non-slip polymer that improves performance when the sun is not at its zenith.

Wind power is an area that has been modified a great deal since Energy Observer’s launch. After experimenting with vertical wind turbines and a traction wing, the catamaran now carries two Oceanwings, which are 32m² rigid wings developed by VPLP and inspired by their learnings from the America’s Cup.

The Oceanwings are made of Hydranet, a woven Dyneema sailcloth, and slide down the masts to reduce sail. Photo: Energy Observer Productions

The Oceanwings have been developed with the ultimate aim of making maritime transport less polluting, and Energy Observer is an ideal experimentation platform to develop the system.

Nearly twice as efficient as traditional sails, the wings can be used to either increase speed or reduce power consumption as a complement to the electric motors. The wings also allow Energy Observer to utilise its fourth source of electrical production, hydrogeneration from the propellers when the wind is favourable.

Adapt and refine

The basic Formule TAG hull platform was light, at just 15 tonnes. Although the catamaran no longer carries its original rig, the additional batteries, motors etc increased the final displacement to 30 tonnes. It was therefore necessary to increase the buoyancy of the hulls, achieved by grafting on a second skin, adding volume below the waterline.

In addition to adapting all of these emerging technologies to the corrosive marine environment, the Energy Observer team’s expertise lies in the fine management of these different energies, optimising efficiencies.

During coastal passages, Energy Observer has been making an average speed of 4.5 knots, but 6.34 on a transatlantic, with peaks of 10 knots. Photo: Energy Observer Productions

That ranges from selecting the most efficient mode of propulsion or electrical production at any given moment, to fine adjustment of the wings or the pitch of the propellers.

With all innovation, there’s often a big leap from theory to practice, but the project is creating the data to prove the concepts.

Energy Observer has been touring the world’s oceans since 2017. In March 2020 it set off on its most recent voyage, which will take in the Tokyo Olympics and the Dubai World Expo in 2021, before returning to Paris for the 2024 Olympics.

Over the 2,134 miles sailed so far on the current trip it has averaged speeds of 6.34 knots, with 83% of the energy produced used for propulsion or navigation, and only 17% used for the domestic systems used by the crew of five on board.

Over the last eight months, solar power has accounted for 56% of the on-board production, hydrogen for 7% and Oceanwings for 37% of the equivalent consumption of the engines saved.

Hydro-generation has been little used in the inter-tropical latitudes, but is expected to be used more in windier regions.

Energy Observer specifications:

Length: 30.50m 100ft 0in
Beam: 12.80m 42ft 0in
Draught: 2.10m 6ft 11in
Displacement: 30 tonnes
Sail area: 64m² 700ft²
Designer: Nigel Irens

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SailGP: Light winds for round 2 in Italy (7 Jun 2021, 8:50 am)

Light wind racing saw the new extended wingsails come to the fore as teams battled to stay on the foils in the second SailGP regatta of 2021

Team during some warm up racing ahead of the regatta. Photo: Bob Martin / SailGP

It was a weekend dominated by light winds as the SailGP fleet took to the waters of Taranto, Italy for their second regatta of 2021.

Even with the new wingsail extension, which was introduced to the class of foiling F50 catamarans this season to boost performance in light winds, the racing was very much a case of hunting the best pressure on the racecourse to keep hydrofoiling.

One thing is for certain, this was a much improved spectacle as compared with the light wind venues of the first season, the new wingsail extensions doing enough to keep the boats foiling for the most part in the very light wind conditions.

Ultimately it was Nathan Outteridge’s Japan SailGP Team that reigned supreme with a massive win in the final podium race. Spain finished in second place in front of Jimmy Spithill’s U.S team to move to the top of the SailGP Championship leaderboard following the opening two events of the season.

Overcoming disappointment in the first event of the series in Bermuda, Outteridge drove his team straight into the weekend’s podium race and on to victory. It was an
intense battle in the final race – for which only the top three boats from the weekend compete – with Phil Robertson’s Spanish team and an on form U.S. team.

Spithill was leading for much of the race, but was forced to pull out of the final race with a broken rudder after they got too high out of the water during a mark rounding, and crashed off the foils forcing the damage.

Outteridge manoeuvre during SailGP racing. Photo: SailGP

Outteridge said: “It’s really nice to win here. We knew that the result in Bermuda didn’t reflect our performance and obviously that was unfortunate. We sailed really well all the time here and it’s just been fantastic to have Francesco [Bruni] onboard – not just on the boat but the chase boat as well helping us with coaching – so to deliver a home win for him is just fantastic.”

Downsizing the crew between the fleet races and the final podium race to three athletes – a move used variously by a number of teams at different points through the weekend – due to the light winds meant Japan team flight controller Bruni would be repositioned onto the chase boat, but the win in Bruni’s home country in front of cheering crowds was a fairytale ending to his weekend.

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Bruni said: “It’s been an incredible event. We are super happy, it couldn’t get any better! We deserved some luck in the last race. I think we all sailed very well during the week, especially Nathan, Chris [Draper], and Tim [Morishima]. It’s really a prize for how good we sailed all week.

“It’s been unbelievable to see so many people on the water, and along the shore watching and cheering, especially for us, for me, and for the whole event. It’s been a great success.”

The Japan team now sit third on the season championship leaderboard with 14 points, with fellow finalists Spain moving into first place. Great Britain, winners of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess, are in second place despite a disappointing sixth-placed finish in Taranto under interim driver Paul Goodison, who has stepped in for an absent Ben Ainslie.

Sunday’s two fleet races were won by New Zealand and Japan respectively – the debut race win for Season 2 newcomers New Zealand with Arnaud Psarofaghis in the driving seat for the first time, while Peter Burling and Blair Tuke embark on defending their Olympic title.

Rounding out the event standings were New Zealand in fourth, Denmark in fifth, Great Britain in sixth, France – who made the podium in Bermuda – placed seventh, and Australia taking eighth spot.

The next leg of SailGP will be in Plymouth, U.K on July 17-18 as the third event on the global league’s championship calendar.

Italy Sail Grand Prix:

1: Japan
2: Spain
3: United States
4: New Zealand
5: Denmark
6: Great Britain
7: France
8: Australia

SailGP Season Championship:

1: Spain – 16 pts
2: Great Britain – 15 pts
3: Japan – 14 pts
4: New Zealand – 13 pts
5: France – 12 pts
6: Australia – 12 pts
7: United States – 11 pts
8: Denmark – 11 pts

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SailGP: New faces for the second regatta of the season (4 Jun 2021, 10:07 am)

This weekend will see several new faces in SailGP including Paul Goodison stepping in for Sir Ben Ainslie as the helm of the British SailGP Team

Saturday 5 June will see the second regatta in this second season of SailGP. For the first time ever the even will visit Italy with racing throughout the weekend in Taranto.

The opening event of the SailGP season in Bermuda set the stage with familiar rivalries, and some big crashes and casizes.

All eight of the teams have already been practising in Italy, giving each team a chance to reacquaint themselves with the high-tech, foiling F50 catamarans. Two crews – Great Britain SailGP Team and New Zealand SailGP Team – were also putting in some much needed practice time with new faces onboard.

Paul Goodison takes to the water helming the British team’s F50 for the first time

The current leader after the first event – the British SailGP Team – has swapped one Olympic gold medalist for another with Paul Goodison making his debut as the driver for the British team, replacing Ben Ainslie for the next two events. An interim shift, this substitution will have all eyes on the British team as it aims to retain its position at the top of the leaderboard.

Goodison said: “This is my first time ever sailing on the F50 and I was very impressed by the team and the boat and it was just great to get out sailing again. There is a little bit of apprehension for me going into my first event but, to be honest, I am just super excited and just can’t wait to get out there and line up with the other boats and start racing.”

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Swiss born Arnaud Psarofaghis also had his first two days in the driving seat. The double European champion in the foiling Moth class, takes the wheel of the New Zealand SailGP Team after the date shift for the Tokyo Olympic Games sees Peter Burling and Blair Tuke step aside into a supporting role for the next two SailGP events in Plymouth and Aarhus.

Additional crew changes on the New Zealand boat include the arrival of James Wierzbowski as flight controller, and Jason Saunders as wing trimmer. The three new team members took to the water for the first time with their sights firmly set on moving up the leaderboard from fifth position.

Team during some warm up racing ahead of the regatta. Photo: Bob Martin / SailGP

Southern Italy will see the reemergence of Jimmy Spithill’s United States SailGP Team and Nathan Outteridge’s Japan SailGP Team after a nearly catastrophic collision in Bermuda that severely damaged both boats and took them out of the running for the event.

After a race against time, both boats returned to the water just in time for some vital training ahead of the season’s second event this weekend.

Japan SailGP Team flight controller Francesco Bruni said: “It is very exciting to be out sailing on the water, especially for me at my home event. I’m really looking forward to seeing a lot of fans. It’s gonna be very good racing in Taranto.”

The wing extension used in light winds and newly introduced for this second season have been used in practise. Photo: Thomas Lovelock / SailGP

Joining the F50s on the water over the weekend are the successful candidates of SailGP’s boundary-breaking and gender equal Inspire Racing program. Fans can expect an on-water showcase of young males and females racing for the future – nine sailors on WASZPs, and 18 sailors on RS Fevas – who will share the racecourse with the supercharged F50 foiling catamarans.

Action at the Italy Sail Grand Prix gets underway at 1:30 p.m. local on both Saturday 5 and Sunday June 6. Fans unable to attend can watch the live broadcast in Italy through official broadcast partners Rai Sport and Sky Italia, and by downloading the award-winning SailGP App. For details on how to watch globally visit

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First look: North Sails’ foul weather gear (4 Jun 2021, 8:55 am)

North Sails has introduced their first ever line of foul weather gear. Starting from scratch has allowed unconstrained thinking, which, in turn, has seen development of some impressively innovative products

Vincent Riou onboard PRB

The news of North Sails’ first-ever range of foul weather gear for performance sailing and long-distance cruising immediately created a stir in the industry. Nevertheless, given the company has successfully diversified well beyond its core business over the past decade, creating a line of technical clothing intended to set a new bench-mark for foul weather gear was a logical move.

The North Technology Group now also includes the production of carbon spars, composite rigging and next generation ultra-thin pre-preg materials for composite structures.

All are underpinned by North’s phenomenal record of innovation and success. One of many examples is that the company has made sails for every America’s Cup winner since 1987, including this year’s victor in Auckland, Emirates Team New Zealand.

At the same time North has continued to prioritise the many thousands of leisure sailors, both cruising and racing, that it has served across the world for more than 60 years.

These directly benefit from the research and development funded by the high-profile campaigns that has led to innovative products such as North’s fully recyclable and long lasting 3Di Nordac polyester sailcloth.

North’s new TightWeave™ face fabrics, which have a smaller weave than standard fabrics that automatically reduces water absorption and penetration

The same rigorous approach has now been applied to foul weather gear. Starting from scratch, albeit with a considerable depth of industry knowledge, has allowed unconstrained thinking that has resulted in the best possible combination of new materials and garment design.

Nigel Musto worked with North’s team of talented engineering and technology PhDs with the aim of creating the world’s best marine clothing bar none. The result is four ranges of technically advanced clothing that’s lightweight, hardwearing and offers unrivalled performance.

All are made using North’s new TightWeave™ face fabrics, which have a smaller weave than standard fabrics that automatically reduces water absorption and penetration. The material also includes a GORE-TEX® PRO membrane for superior durable waterproof and breathable characteristics.

An important innovation for the Offshore and Ocean specification gear, as well as the Inshore Race Trousers, is the lack of traditional heavy reinforcing patches in areas of high wear such as the seat and knee.

Instead, these are laminated within the four-layer fabric itself in a process analogous to that developed for North’s 3Di sail fabric. These feature reinforcements for reef points, batten pockets and so on as an integral part of the structure of the sail – they are not add-ons that are stitched in place in the later stage of manufacture.

This approach also offers many benefits for lighter and more flexible foul weather gear that doesn’t restrict movement.

The Ocean line encompasses North’s most breathable, waterproof and durable smock

Eliminating conventional reinforcing patches has two further benefits. It eliminates the tendency to hold water, thus avoiding the all too familiar damp bum, and there’s no associated stitching that may fail and let in water as the garment ages.

The Ocean line encompasses North’s most breathable, waterproof and durable smocks and salopettes. It has already been thoroughly tested in the harshest possible conditions by Vendée Globe and Ocean Race sailors.

Those who compete in the classic 600 mile offshore races or cruise serious distances will be well served by the offshore range. This retains waterproofness and durability, but with improved comfort, lighter weight and a more attractive price point. This line offers a choice of smocks for serious use, or an offshore jacket for maximum comfort and flexibility.

Choices widen further in the inshore line, which includes smocks, a jacket and an innovative hybrid product that combines the best attributes of both, including a full front zip and an effective neck seal.

The GP Aero Waterproof Jacket weighs just 300g

The GP Aero line prioritises performance and light weight for ultimate performance when racing inshore at the highest levels. For this range the design team looked beyond the sailing world for inspiration, incorporating lessons learned from cycling and other high intensity sports.

As a result, the GP Aero Waterproof Jacket weighs only 300 grammes, while the range also includes both waterproof and fast-dry trousers and shorts, plus silk weight fast dry shirts.

Finally, there’s a line of mid-layer products designed to work with all the outer layers. These are available in different grades, to suit cooler or warmer conditions.

Significantly they don’t have an external shell layer, as these inevitably impede breathability, which eventually results in damp inner layers after extended use.

North Sails Performance – we can’t wait for you to try it, and even better we can’t wait for you to sail in it.

Visit to view the full range, or see it in the flesh at Ocean Leisure or Marine Superstore.

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