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Sailaway 2.08 (13 Dec 2019, 11:52 am)

- Fixed some of the issues with special characters øöé (in some cases it will help to type the text again, because it was stored incorrectly in the database)
- Added a tiny button next to the Depth indicator to overrule the depth. This will help sailing areas that have incorrect depths. It only works if you're not in a race or challenge and do not have other people on board. It also doesn't work when offline.
- The measurement tool in the map didn't always show.
- The foils on the Imoca would show water splashing up at the extended position even though they were half or fully retracted.
- Badges didn't always show in the leader board
- The stars in the night sky were aligned wrong
- The last position of the boat in the boat chooser showed N/S instead of E/W next to the longitude
- The effect of the traveler on the angle of the mainsail was reversed
- The texture and customization settings of the mizzen stay sail on the Ketch were not not saved correctly

Road to the America’s Cup podcast episode 4: AC75 control systems explained (12 Dec 2019, 9:27 am)

Sir Ben Ainslie explains how the AC75’s control systems work in the latest episode of our America’s Cup podcast

Data from the AC75’s complex systems will have a built-in time delay to prevent ‘autopilot’ sailing by the crew. Photo: Harry KH / Ineos Team UK

The systems that control the aero- and hydrofoils of the new AC75 are covered by some of the most complex parts of the America’s Cup Class. The section on control systems takes up 12 pages of the 67-page rule.

There has been a major philosophical change from the 35th America’s Cup, when all the power to adjust the wing, sails and hydrofoils had to come from the crew. In the coming America’s Cup, the AC75 rule requires the sailors to power the control of the soft wing mainsail and the headsail, along with legal rig adjustments like the runners, but allows electric batteries to power the hydrofoils.

“We’re given a minimum number of batteries,” explained Ben Ainslie. “We’re allowed more but that’ll add weight and because it’s so tough to build these boats within the maximum weight rule, we really don’t want to do that. So once again, it comes down to having super-fit sailors and efficient control systems so that we can really push the boat to its limits.”

But designing and building efficient control systems is a huge challenge. There are many competing requirements to be balanced in every element of the control systems and deck layout. “This is something that’s a really interesting focus for all of the teams as we’re coming into the design of the second boat, the race boat, and trying to work out just what the requirements of the crew are for this style of racing,” said Ainslie.

Return to grinding

What we won’t see is any more cyclors: the rule has been designed to keep them out, and force the use of traditional grinding pedestals. “I think it’d be hard to find a way around that, but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of interesting work being done to work out how best to optimise the power of the sailors.”

This work will reach into many areas, and some of them will be obvious, like the position of the grinding pedestals. It’s not just about power and efficiency, the position of the crew changes righting moment and the hull centre of gravity and impacts the potential top speed.

Others will be more subtle, hidden in the hydraulic engineering and plumbing deep inside the boat. And between these two extremes will be what’s now called the HMI – the human machine interface.

Back in the good old days this used to be the steering wheel and the sheets. The AC75 still has a wheel, but that may only be because the rule mandates it. The rest of the HMI is more likely to be a box of electronics with more than a passing resemblance to a games console. These will be on deck, but the teams will be doing their very best to stop the opposition and the fans seeing them.

“Last time the rules tried to prevent the control of the boat by an autopilot,” explained Ainslie. “However, the rule only forbade direct control, and so that effectively left a loophole that allowed an autopilot to display its output.

And by that I mean what the autopilot thinks the foil should be doing to optimise performance, and the sailors [were] then able to control the foil to mimic that output by following a dot on the screen.

“This time around the Kiwis have reinforced the original intention to stop the boats being sailed by autopilots by delaying the instrument data that appears on the displays. It goes through what we call a media box. So there’s a short time delay there. So even if you were to run an autopilot and show its output for the crew to follow, it would be a second or so behind the action, and that’s a long time in a foiling boat.”

The enforced delay in the data appearing on the crew’s displays, or Crew Information System (CIS) as it’s called in the rule, is combined with a lot of other detailed rules designed to prevent the CIS from knowing anything about the boat state. It’s all intended to prevent teams from running an effective autopilot.

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Even slicker

The outcome is that crews will need even slicker ways to control the systems that control the boat. That’s why everyone will be so protective of what’s on those games console-like screens.

“We do rely on guidance. We’ve talked about autopilots that are not allowed under the rules, but there are certain prompts which help the key people in those trimming roles and steering roles to maintain the boat’s optimised position or trim.

“Then it’s around your natural instinct as a sailor. It’s the choreography of the whole team that will keep this boat sailing fast and racing well. It really comes back to a full team effort.”

Sir-Ben-Ainslie-Team-Principal-and-Skipper-headshot-bwAbout the author

Ben Ainslie is the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, and Team Principal of the British America’s Cup challenger. INEOS Team UK will be challenging for the 36th America’s Cup in New Zealand in 2021. Each month he talks to Mark Chisnell about the innovations and technology behind the new AC75 foiling monohulls.

The post Road to the America’s Cup podcast episode 4: AC75 control systems explained appeared first on Yachting World.

Beam seas: Pip Hare’s top tips on dealing with the most challenging conditions (12 Dec 2019, 8:59 am)

Pro sailor Pip Hare shares explains how passage planning, sail setting and autopilot settings can help you to navigate beam seas safely

Shortening sail reduces the combined heeling moment from waves and wind to reduce the risk of a broach or knockdown. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

Big beam seas can be the most challenging, unpleasant and dangerous of all conditions to sail in. Exposing the entire length of your vessel broadside to oncoming waves allows the energy in those waves to have maximum impact on your hull.

This causes excessive heeling moment, which can result in broaching or, in extreme scenarios, a risk of inversion. Extreme conditions should, if possible, be avoided but here are my tips for how to handle the top end of manageable beam seas.

Passage planning

Use wave buoy data and wave height forecasts to assess sea conditions. Pay careful attention at the passage of fronts; a rapid change in wind direction will often cause big seas to break.

Depending on hull characteristics, wave heights of as little as 30 per cent of your length overall can start to become dangerous beam-on, so consider alternative routes early. Most routing software has an option to avoid waves over a certain height but make sure your GRIB files include wave data.

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Sail setting

Sailing fast through beam seas will allow your helmsman to steer around waves, reducing their impact on your hull; so don’t shorten sail too early. That said, your sails should be set to limit heel, as the force of oncoming waves will already be heeling the boat over.

When sailing in larger waves your apparent wind speed and wind angle can change so sail shapes should also be forgiving to allow for this. Go to town on twist: the bigger the waves, the more the twist. Slide the jib cars back to open the top of the headsail if you normally reach using an outboard lead, and consider moving the sheet to the inboard upwind track as waves get bigger.

Soften your mainsail leech by moving your traveller up the track, easing the mainsheet and vang and pulling on your backstay. Shorten sail when the combined heeling moment from waves and wind feels too much. You may need to harden up the leeches immediately after reefing, putting power back into the top of your sails to keep sufficient speed and manoeuvrability. As conditions continue to build apply twist again.


Helming in big beam seas takes skill and concentration. Good helming in these circumstances is about anticipation and feel. Employ all of your senses to dial into wave patterns; you will start to sense the size of oncoming waves by how the boat feels underneath you. Look for relatively flat spots between them and steer dynamically from one to the next.

If you are not able to avoid a high crest or breaker, take action to minimise its impact on your hull by heading up or down. Don’t underestimate how challenging helming can be, so don’t rely on one person and if there is the option to alter course, then take it.

Autopilot settings

Older generation autopilots can really struggle with beam sea conditions and usually require tuning. Here are a number of pointers to help:

  • Remember sail trim: if your pilot is constantly rounding up when you heel first try more twist, then reef. In big conditions set the pilot to steer a true wind angle. If your system does not have this function consider changing course to head into the waves.
  • If you can, maintaining speed through beam seas will help the helmsman to steer around the waves, but don’t shorten sail too early this function consider changing course to head into the waves.
  • Bear in mind that your pilot cannot see oncoming waves and does not care about your welfare; try actively steering through wave sets using the control pad. This is less tiring for the helmsperson and more comfortable for the crew (remote controllers are great for this).
  • Increase response or gain so the number and size of corrections the pilot makes per minute matches those of your helmsman. Also increase counter rudder settings if your pilot is weaving an ‘S’ shape after corrections. And increase wind damping or decrease wind response to allow for the amount of extra movement at the masthead caused by wave action.
  • Charge your batteries, as this will be a power-hungry point of sail for the pilot. Some modern pilots are now able to measure pitch and yaw and automatically adjust settings to match whatever the conditions.


Avoid big beam seas if at all possible, but if you do get caught out in these conditions make sure washboards are in and tied in place. Crew should be harnessed on short tethers, keep a good look out using AIS and radar and ensure everything below is well stowed with locker doors, top opening fridges and floorboards secured in place.

First published in the February 2018 edition of Yachting World.

The post Beam seas: Pip Hare’s top tips on dealing with the most challenging conditions appeared first on Yachting World.

Sailing Galicia: Exploring the enchanting rias of North-West Spain (11 Dec 2019, 9:17 am)

With its many inlets and pretty harbours, this unspoilt corner of north-west Spain is a delight for cruisers. Daria Blackwell explores Galicia

Photo: Josep Miquel Ubalde Baulo / Alamy

Dreams of white sand beaches fringed weather with granite boulders warmed by the Galician sun finally took flight. We departed from Crookhaven in Ireland at the break of dawn with a westerly wind of 12-15 knots. This provided us with the ideal conditions for a swift passage southward and across the Bay of Biscay.

It certainly was fun surfing along at nearly 10 knots. It was the first time we had covered 200 miles in a day in Aleria, our vintage Bowman 57 ketch. Since the was so cooperative we decided to bypass La Coruna and Finisterre, heading directly to the rias where we would begin our cruise southward with a fleet of 60 boats taking part in the Irish Cruising Club Rias Baixas (pronounced Bishash) Rally.

We reached the Real Club Nautico Portosin (RCNP) in the Ria de Muros e Noia, a total of 504 miles, in exactly three days, arriving at 0600 in mystical morning fog, along with the entire fishing fleet of the region. We then spent two months cruising the rias of Galicia.


Photo: Jam World Images / Alamy

Switching over from foul weather gear to shorts, T-shirts and sandals was no problem, but needing jumpers and jackets at night caught us by surprise. The weather in Galicia is not as hot as we expected, nor is the water warm. Being on the north-west coast of Spain, Galicia has an Atlantic maritime climate, more like Ireland than the Mediterranean coast or Spanish interior.

Walking the streets of Portosin and exploring the small town’s environs was a joy. Tapas bars served the crisp white albarino wine of the region and we found the freshest seafood. It was easy to slip into the local rhythm. We rode our bicycles to the fine white sand beaches flanked by granite boulders and tiptoed gingerly into the frigid waters. We visited Santiago de Compostela, a magnet for tourists and pilgrims, especially in the summer, but well worth a visit.

Every day more Irish boats sailed in to the marina, the starting point of the rally. We wondered how 60 boats could be accommodated in the four ports in the four rias (estuaries) we were to visit, but it worked as easily as a child’s puzzle. The marinas had everything arranged for us and knew exactly where every boat would be placed on arrival.

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The marineiros who handled the lines were good natured and helpful, but most only spoke Gallego (the language of the region, a derivation of Spanish and Portuguese) and communication was difficult.

We were soon on our way to the next ria, but as the events were spaced three days apart, we had plenty of time to meander, finding anchorages and interesting villages to visit along the way. We stopped in Muros, an ancient town north-west across the estuary from Portosin, and experiencing a resurgence due to a new marina.

Narrow alleys lead up the hill to a church built like a ship with more statues in it than we’ve ever seen. The festival of Our Lady of Carmen takes place in July and we had heard the fireworks and music when back in Portosin.

sailing-galicia-mapIdeal cruising

In the rias, navigation was relatively easy except when passing between the barrier islands and rocky outcrops, which requires extreme caution. The region is blessed with inlets and dotted with inviting harbours and villages. As in Scotland, we could weigh anchor in one harbour, stop in another for lunch, and continue on to a marina in a third village for the night.

It makes for ideal cruising and, unsurprisingly, is a destination for charters as well as a favourite for staging when sailing across the Atlantic. We got lazy about pulling up sails between some destinations, but there were days when the wind was just too good to pass up a more lengthy passage. Team Mapfre has its base in Sanxenxo and could be seen putting its Volvo 65 through its paces.

In the Ria de Arousa, the largest of the rias, we made for A Pa do Caraminal, avoiding giant mussel rafts en route and anchoring off the marina in sheltered waters. Galicia is one of the world’s largest producers of mussels.

The rafts are everywhere, but it was easy to manoeuvre among them with their anchor chains hanging straight down from the rafts. There was an international gathering of yachts in every harbour with Irish, British, French, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, and Spanish flags flying.

Festival day

Caraminal is a lovely old town, with a tree-lined waterfront avenue, restaurants lining the harbour, and meandering alleys leading up past walled estates to the old church overlooking the harbour. A footpath runs the entire length of the harbour parallel to the popular beach.

From there we took a tour of Granbazan vineyards, the largest producer of the crisp albarino wines for which the region is known. It was interesting to see the unique style of parra – a pergola trellis system of vine growth for maximum sun exposure and ventilation.


The unique horreos, or granaries, dot the coastline at Combarro, in the Ria de Pontevedra, along with stone crosses. Photo: Age Fotostock / Alamy

The next day, we toured the boatyard at Xufre on the Illa de Arousa. It was the major festival day; the fishing fleet was dressed for a parade of ships and the town was closed. So we anchored off the beach just inside the Punta Caballo (where the lighthouse is now a high-end restaurant) for a quiet and peaceful night.

No visit to Galicia would be complete without a stop at the very charming town of Combarro on the Ria de Pontevedra. The new marina has a massive outer concrete pontoon with 3m of water at MLW. This is in contrast to the shallow depths shown on outdated charts, which had caused us to approach with extreme caution.

We were glad to have such good access to this viliña mariñeira or mariner’s little town. It drew us to stroll down its historic streets with its traditional Galician houses with covered porches, wraparound balconies, and tiny gardens and flower planters.

The granite streets wind along a rocky coast loaded with horreos (granaries), cruceiros (crucifixes) and shops and restaurants cut into the stone walls. The fleet of small fishing boats supplies restaurants with the fresh catch of the day. The food and wine were excellent, the atmosphere festive.


Raft-up in Barra, with Celtic Spirit as the anchor vessel, Aleria and Grand Slam tied alongside, and Papageno tied alongside Aleria

An epic rally

The following day we took part in a raft-up of Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) members’ yachts in the Ria de Vigo off the magnificent (and nudist) beach in Ensenada de Barra. Eleven yachts took part, four of which rafted together while the others anchored off. Twenty-six OCC members and crew were hosted aboard Michael Holland’s 72ft Celtic Spirit of Fastnet.

It was a brilliant evening, with the older salts advising the newer recruits about crossing the Atlantic and sailing around the world, as well as making the most of the Med. The final night of the Rias Baixas Rally took place in the spectacular setting of the Monte Real Club de Yates de Bayona.

The yacht club and marina are on the grounds of the 12th Century walled fort and castle, now an upscale parador state-run hotel. The panoramic views from the walk along the walls of the fort were stunning. The beaches lining the Ensenada de Baiona are first rate, with a bicycle and walking path running the length of the bay.


Bayona, with its pretty harbour and imposing fort at the outlet of Vigo Bay. Photo: LOOK Die Bildagentur der Fotografen GmbH / Alamy

We rode our bikes along the beaches and climbed to the Virgen de la Roca statue, which stands sentinel for mariners as they embark on their journeys. The facilities at the yacht club are unparalleled and the club now welcomes visitors. We enjoyed cocktails in the clubhouse grounds overlooking the marina and the closing dinner was at the parador. It was a fitting end to an epic rally.

Reverberating boom

Now we were on our own. We hopscotched our way north to the Ria de Corcubion in the shelter of Finisterre, where we spent five days at anchor. The ancient village of Corcubion sees few tourists and fewer yachts. There is no marina but the anchorage has good holding and shelter from the predominant northerlies in the summer. A few pilgrims stop in for a spell as they walk the obscure reverse Camino route from Santiago to Finisterre to see the end of the world.

We launched our dinghy and assembled our bicycles to explore. The charming winding granite stone streets, architecture and welcoming atmosphere combined to create an authentic Galician experience.


Aleria, our sturday Bowman 57 ketch, makes the most of the conditions

Adjacent to Corcubion is Cee, a modern town with all the amenities you would need, including a giant supermarket. One morning, we were jolted from sleep by a reverberating boom. At noon, a second boom sent shock waves down our mast and hull and echoing off the hills.

This was soon followed by at least a dozen more explosions. We learned that the festival taking place was letting the world know it was open for business. That night we had the best seats in the house for the most spectacular fireworks display we’ve ever seen.

From Corcubion, we worked our way back to the Ria de Vigo where we had chosen the Punta Lagoa marina as Aleria’s winter berth. We took in the magical river and waterfalls at Ezaro and watched fishermen diving for scallops at Sardiniero before continuing on to visit each of the barrier islands that constitute the Parque Nacional das Illas Atlanticas. We had applied in advance for permission to anchor among the islands and now requested permission, via the internet as required, to visit on specific days.

We found the Illas de Cies fascinating with three main islands and several smaller ones. They receive more than a million visitors annually from one ferry operator alone. The long white sand beach with Caribbean blue waters was clearly their main attraction, but the walks out to the lighthouse and unusual rock formations far from the crowds were well worth it. The vistas around the rias and of the Atlantic were breathtaking.

Deserted village

The Illas de Ons have far fewer visitors and a smaller population. The walks to the lighthouse and blowhole were somehow less interesting topographically than Cies had been, and the village at the ferry terminal had several nice but crowded restaurants.

We found the Illa de Salvora most pleasing as it was quieter. We walked to the faro (lighthouse), then to the deserted village where pequeño wild horses roam free, and toured the chapel and its Castillo, which was once a fish salting facility and is now a museum. The lovely crescent beach overlooked by a mermaid carved into a stack of rocks was gone under the high tide when we returned.


The mermaid on the rock in Salvora keeps watch patiently

We allowed at least two days for each of the islands and nipped into the rias in between, visiting Santa Uxia de Ribiera, San Vicente, Cangas, Cambados and Vigo. At San Vicente I enjoyed the magnificent beaches while Alex crewed aboard Miss Demeana in the Classics Regatta, a favourite event of Juan Carlos, the former king of Spain.

In Cangas, we met up with friends and sampled more of the region’s wines. We roamed the perfectly arranged streets of Cambados, the albarino wine capital of Galicia with its large central square, castillo winery, large church and, of course, many wine bars.

We took a slip at the Real Club Nautico in Vigo right in the heart of the old city. There we were transported back to a different era of European distinction – with exotic plants and trees defining parks replete with fountains and statues.

The plethora of restaurants forced us to make choices for fine dining. To top it off, the super modern computer-operated laundromat made doing weeks’ worth of laundry a snap while topping up the food supply from the local supermarket.

One day, our friend Alberto Lagos of legendary Astilleros Lagos boatyard, offered to take us on a tour of the mountains bordering Portugal near A Guarda, where we were filled with awe by the stunning views overlooking the Rio Miño.


Stunning views of the Rio Miño from Monte de Santa Trega, near A Guarda. Portugal can be seen in the distance

We stopped at the impressive monastery of Santa Maria de Oia in the lovely village of Oia en route while Alberto regaled us with stories about growing up in Galicia and spending summers at his grandfather’s small hunting and fishing lodge on Cies.

Ria de Alden

Our last stop before returning to Vigo turned out to be one of our favourites. We anchored in the Ria de Alden for several days. The waters there were the warmest; as the shallow waters recede, the white sand heats up, then warms the water when it returns with the tide.

The aqua blues of the waters against the magnificent deep blue skies was akin to a Caribbean experience. We enjoyed cocktails at the beach bar and took the dinghy to the fine restaurant next to the slipway from where we watched the most impressive sunset of our stay.

A friend had told us about a magnificent cruceiro (cross) at the village of O Hio, up the hill from the harbour in Alden. We were not disappointed when we saw the amazing history of Christianity carved into stone in front of the church on the hilltop with expansive views of the Ria below.

We were enchanted by this ancient land, its Celtic people. We thought two months would be too long, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Small wonder so many cruisers from Britain and Ireland are choosing to leave their yachts in Galicia for years of exploration.

sailing-galicia-daria-alex-blackwell-bw-headshot-600-squareAbout the authors

Daria and Alex Blackwell are members of Mayo Sailing Club, the Irish Cruising Club and the Ocean Cruising Club, of which Daria serves as rear commodore and Alex is rear commodore for Ireland. They are co-authors of Cruising the Wild Atlantic Way and Happy Hooking – The Art of Anchoring. They have completed three Atlantic crossings and spent a year in the Caribbean. They have cruised in Ireland and Scotland for the past few years and live in Westport, County Mayo.

First published in the November 2017 edition of Yachting World.

The post Sailing Galicia: Exploring the enchanting rias of North-West Spain appeared first on Yachting World.

MOB retrieval gear: Jonbuoy vs Catch and Lift in head-to-head test (9 Dec 2019, 9:01 am)

How would you get an MOB casualty back aboard? Rachael Sprot and Bruce Jacobs test two of the latest MOB retrieval devices

Hoisting a casualty aboard using a Jonbuoy inflatable man overboard raft

Jonbuoy Recovery Module

The Jonbuoy is a well-respected piece of equipment. Many boat owners would have one on board, were it not for the upfront cost and annual servicing requirements. Nevertheless if it can solve the age-old problem of MOB retrieval, many people might consider it worth the expense. We wanted to test one out before potentially equipping both Rubicon 3 expedition yachts with self-inflating Jonbuoys.

The unit is simple to mount on the pushpit, and its compact case makes it much less cumbersome than stowing a danbuoy or horseshoe lifebuoy. We tested it with a real person in the water, in benign conditions and sheltered waters in the Azores.

It was a lot easier to deploy than a standard danbuoy – you simply pull a tag and the whole thing releases straight over the side. There is no separate light to throw in, no drogue in a pocket to remove or bundle of floating line to worry about. Perfect.


No sooner had we had deployed it, than the first question was raised: is this a marking device or an MOB retrieval device? We deployed it as soon as we could, in order to use it as a starting point for a search if we lost visual contact with the casualty. If we were sailing downwind at speed on a dark night, how quickly would we have managed that? We would do well to get it within 200m of the casualty.

In our test scenario, our fit, young guinea pig Graham had the wherewithal to lie on his back and scull himself 20m to reach it. Is that realistic in any kind of wind or sea state? If not, perhaps it would be wiser to keep the Jonbuoy on board and deploy it nearer the casualty on your return but, in the meantime, what do you mark them with? The danbuoy that you thought you were replacing? Hmm.

The next snag was getting into the Jonbuoy. Wearing a 290N offshore lifejacket, our test casualty struggled with this, although he did manage after a few attempts. Could he have done it in more of a sea state or if he’d been less agile?


Our able-bodied test casualty climbs on

A standard 150N lifejacket would make it much easier of course. Perhaps a three-sided design with an internal grab handle would help, so that you could slide onto the floor rather than have to heave yourself over the edge. Other minor snags were that the flagpole was wedged into the raft and the casualty had to free it. Part of the casing, which acts as a drogue, fell off.

Once inside, it was secure and safer than being in the water. MOB retrieval was easy. We came alongside, grabbed the lifting strop with a boat hook, which is conveniently Velcroed to the flagpole, and clipped it on to a halyard to winch on board. Also included in the Jonbuoy module is a 5m throwing line for a conscious casualty to use.

This is so nearly a brilliant piece of kit. For inshore or coastal sailing it will be a valuable tool in your armoury, but we have a nagging suspicion that in anything over a Force 5 a casualty won’t be able to reach it, or get into it.

Price: £649.96
YW rating: 3.5/5

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Catch and Lift MOB retrieval system

The Catch and Lift system is a brand new and entirely different idea. It is designed to lift a conscious casualty from the water by using a drogue, the boat’s forward motion and a pulley on the shrouds. Before testing it I was convinced that it was either ingenious or utterly bonkers.

To set up the MOB retrieval system, you must first install the correct sized clamp on your shrouds to act as a permanently rigged strong point. The rest of the system lives in a hard yellow case, with an optional deck-mounting bracket.

When the casualty falls in, you open the box and attach the swivel block to the strong point on the shrouds. The block has a long floating line running through it. One end of the line has a floating sling and carabiner and the other has a drogue. Deploy the sling and circle the casualty until they can reach it.


The permanent fitting on the shrouds is a good feature of the Catch and Lift device

Once the casualty has clipped the carabiner on or donned the sling, the drogue is deployed and the vessel driven away from the casualty. The force of water in the drogue will pull the casualty towards the boat, before a final nudge of the throttle will pick them up and bring them on board.

No winching, no jabbing with a boathook, and, if you’re really slick, you don’t even have to leave the cockpit. What’s more, no close-quarters boat handling is required: the casualty comes to you rather than the other way around.

It sounds like an incredible solution to that age-old problem of how a smaller person might retrieve their larger partner. But there are some considerable downsides to this system. Firstly, doing circles around a casualty in a big swell and strong winds is dangerous.


The lifting mechanism is certainly powerful, but also non-reversible once in motion

You could always make a normal upwind approach to the casualty and throw the sling to them once they’re close enough to reach it, but the floating line needs to be shorter to use it in this way.

Secondly, in its current configuration, there is no way to release the casualty. Although you can pause the manoeuvre by stopping the boat, it is not one that can be reversed. During the test our casualty accidentally put on both the carabiner and the sling, which made it very uncomfortable to be lifted on board, but we couldn’t lower him back down.

Thirdly, if you are not careful, the casualty is drawn in alongside the boat from the stern where there is the potential for them to slip under the transom. Careful boat handling and turning towards the casualty in the final stages of approach will bring them in on the beam, but this means adopting a different point of sail, and risks the boat speeding up too much.


The casualty needs to be able to manoeuvre to the end of the floating line to attach themself to the strop or the carabiner

There is a training model to help demonstrate the process, however, and you can deploy the Catch and Lift system and repack it yourself.

Some aspects of the system are brilliant. I particularly liked having the strong point permanently rigged to the shrouds. This was simple, unobtrusive and could form the basis of a very effective MOB retrieval system.

With a clamp on each shroud and a ready-to-use purchase system in a cockpit locker, you could rapidly rig up a pulley system to bring a casualty on board from the shrouds, avoiding the need to go back to the cockpit and man a winch.


The entire device stows into this deck-mountable suitcase

The drogue part of the system is less convincing. In our test scenario it worked surprisingly well, but I have serious doubts as to how safe it would be in any kind of sea or weather, especially if sailing with the mainsail hoisted, as it nearly always would be.

Price: From €495
YW rating: 2.5/5


There is a very real problem in the marine industry in that it is difficult to test equipment on real people in real situations. No matter how simple the plan or how clever your rescue equipment, you still need to train with it. The Jonbuoy is more intuitive than the Catch and Lift, but more or less impossible to train with. The Catch and Lift seems much more complicated, but with regualar practice it might become a useful tool.

Boat owners need to identify the right kit for their particular needs, and practise with it. The cry of ‘man overboard’ will always send shivers down the spines of those who hear it, but with the right equipment and the right training, you’ll be able to implement a plan to get them back.

About the authors

Rachael Sprot (pictured right) and Bruce Jacobs are the co-founders of Rubicon 3, an adventure sailing company that specialises in expeditions and voyages to some of the world’s more remote and exciting locations – ideal proving ground for testing sailing equipment.

First published in the December 2017 edition of Yachting World.

The post MOB retrieval gear: Jonbuoy vs Catch and Lift in head-to-head test appeared first on Yachting World.

1979 Fastnet Race: A lucky escape – Sir Peter Johnson’s story (9 Dec 2019, 8:29 am)

In the 1970s-80s, Sir Peter Johnson wrote a column in Yachting World. This was his article in the issue immediately after the 1979 Fastnet Race

Innovation, an OOD 34, was one of the competitors in the 1979 Fastnet Race

To start, it was hardly distinguishable from any Round the Island race. Our beat down the Solent among so many Ton Cup series yachts and sailing round the buoys in IOR boats seemed to blur the distinction between inshore and offshore racing – a dangerous confusion.

The first night at Portland Bill witnessed one of the most extraordinary scenes that has been known in ocean racing. Those who decided to take the inshore passage at the Bill reached it against the first of the flood and with the help of the eddy along the east side. As we approached in Innovation, my OOD 34, there were Admiral’s Cup yachts with headsails down, jilling under mainsail. What was going on?

We soon found out as we reached close to the Bill under the flashing lighthouse, only to be pushed out into the race by the nine or ten knot stream from the west side of Portland (it was extra high spring tides that day). The barrier was impenetrable even by the largest yachts and there we sailed about, sometimes trying a rush and then waiting like others under mainsail only, back in the eddy.

Racing in thick fog

When the tide eased, the trapped fleet broke through into West Bay, but some yachts had been off the Bill for over three hours. Yet others who went offshore and plugged the stream in the Channel showed little advantage, as they had to contend with a longer period of foul tide.

On the previous Friday, Radio Solent had given what turned out to be a remarkably accurate long-range forecast for the race. This included fog in the west Channel. Sunday morning saw the beginning of this.

As we approached Start Point the fog could be seen thickly on its western (windward) side. We skirted the rocks in the first of the inshore favourable stream, tacking into the little bays towards Salcombe. The Eddystone was never sighted, only its fog signal used to avoid the rocks.

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Later we swept past the Lizard and the Runnelstone buoy only made a brief appearance between fog banks as we tacked with other boats round in the dark of early Monday morning. It was at around 0430 that the wind became very light and the barometer had dropped 5mb in 12 hours. At daylight there was a heavy swell from the west, but it was the sky that we noticed.

Seldom had I seen such a cloud cover. There was layer upon layer of greasy, rolled-up grey stuff. Talking to those from other yachts later, it does seem that our experiences on Innovation for the rest of Monday duplicated many others. After the light airs of the forenoon, the barometer dropped four more millibars and the wind freshened from the south-west.

By 1330 it was 30-35 knots (Force 7) from the south-west and we were sailing well on a reach under a heavy genoa and one reef in the main. Earlier our light spinnaker had been completely blown out. The 1355 forecast for Fastnet was ‘south-westerly 4 or 5, increasing 6 or 7 for a time, veering westerly later’.


The crew of Innovation with designer Rob Humphreys at the helm

The evening was one of successive reduction of sail, from full size genoa to No 2, then two reefs in the main, then the No 3. When the time came to put in the third reef, we lowered the whole mainsail to do so and then decided to lash it to the coachroof. So we sped on in great style towards the Fastnet Rock under No 3 genoa alone and when that became too much, then under the OO 34 jib, which is also the storm jib.

By 0130 on we had lowered the storm jib and had no sail. The anemometer was ‘on stops’ at 60 knots in both lulls and gusts. The former I estimated at 63 knots and the latter at 75 knots, which is known as hurricane force.

Our feelings then were those of many others to whom I spoke later: rather bemused by conditions, but happy with the behaviour of the boat, expecting such a heavy gale both to blow through quickly, keeping our position as far as possible by some sort of fore-reaching so that when conditions eased we could press on to the Fastnet Rock. But the next few hours changed everything for us and many others.

This is something different

First we began to hear on our VHF that others were in trouble. Morningtown, a communications boat with the race, spoke of men in a liferaft and then of persons in the water. At that moment there was a cry from on deck that our tiller had parted from the rudder head.

I gathered tools and went into the cockpit, where luckily the tiller was still held by the helmsman. The buoyant rudder head bobbed up and down as I hammered the alloy block back over it, then a sea swept the cockpit, filling it and floating me, attached to my harness. The hammer I still grasped, but other tools were gone.

Hardly was that repair as good as we could get it than our main hatch stops sheared off. Worried that someone might be dislodged, complete with main hatch, I actually rebored new holes with a hand drill and drove in heavy self-tapping screws, which became effective stops.


Sir Peter Johnson aboard Innovation

Still we tried to edge north and I tried to observe the actual drift of the hull for dead reckoning purposes, but in reality we were a-hull and at around 0400 came the first knockdown.

The helmsman was thrown over the side and subsequently recovered by the second man in the cockpit by his harness [this was one of only two British Standards Institute-approved harnesses on the market at that time], one man below deck broke a tooth, another was cut on the arm, a third hit in the face by a flying tin, and I was flung against a half bulkhead and found out later that I had cracked a rib.

Marks of food tins from a locker under the settee berth can since be seen on the underside of the coachroof. The masthead instruments were mangled and thereafter the wind speed and direction could not be read. On the second knockdown, the masthead again entered the water; I remember seeing the beautiful pale green of the deep sea through the starboard windows.

From then on, the helmsman no longer tried to head north, but came from sea and gale to steer about 030°. Yet this was still not the answer, for a third knockdown took place, my 10.4m yacht corkscrewing over and emerging nearly into the wind. After these unnerving experiences, we decided to run straight downwind under the bare pole.

One of the most exceptional aspects of this race is that almost every yacht in the 303-strong fleet suffered knockdowns. Many were much worse than us, for we shipped only a trickle of water and lost a few winch handles. The seas in that wind were coming to pieces like those on a dangerous harbour bar in a gale and so boats were just overwhelmed.

Carving the chart with a knife

Sometimes they shipped vast quantities of water, like Griffin and Trophy. Sometimes they came back up with the rig destroyed. Sometimes batteries came out, tearing away connections, footprints were seen on the underside of coachroofs, navigation gear was smashed and made useless, engines were flooded, men badly injured.

As for keeping track of position, have you tried using a pencil on newspaper that has been six months in a rubbish dump? Ballpoint pens seized up. So I carved the chart with my knife. The barometer had fallen 30mb since Sunday afternoon.

So we ran dead down the huge seas, which built up by the forenoon of Tuesday. Others towed warps, some lay by the head to improvised sea anchors of sailbags, some lay a-hull without touching the helm, and some carried a scrap of sail in the hove-to aspect. Who is to say which was right?


A yacht 150 miles north-west of St Ives under jury rig. Photo: PA Archive

For our light displacement, broad-sterned boat we found that if the helmsman watched the sea looking always astern we avoided further serious trouble.

The bottom bearing of our rudder had loosened and this action put less strain on it. There was, of course, plenty of sea room. At times we spoke to other yachts and through one of them related a message to Kinsale A gas rig that all was well with us, for we had begun to hear of tragic happenings to other boats on the ordinary news bulletins.

When intending to transmit on VHF I ran the engine; this avoided flattening the batteries and kept the engine warm and ready to start instantly (other boats entered Plymouth with us later having no power at all). Our electrics worked perfectly in the damp and we praised the electricians and mechanics at the builders.


Those who finished dry out in Plymouth. Photo: Barry Pickthall / PPL

At 1800 we began to hoist sail and laid a comfortable course for the Longships, some 95 miles away. At 0545 on Wednesday morning, we gave our exact position to Land’s End Coastguard and an hour or so later had a link call through to my wife, asking for replacement equipment to be brought to Plymouth and organising a repair to the rudder. It was a pleasant sail past the Longships and round the Lizard, with some hours motoring in a flat calm before reaching Plymouth.

And what about the Fastnet Rock? Well, it did end up so far to windward that we never went back to it, but in two years’ time with a few minor modifications I will be very happy to race round it in Innovation. I have sailed round it in other boats, so why not this one? She and her crew just had a different sort of experience this time.

300 stories for the telling

Something happened to every boat, yet many stories are quite similar and many lessons for all of us are to be re-learnt. One heard of yachts where stoves fell out and batteries and anchors broke adrift. Even cars have their batteries clamped down and not having them so breaks existing RORC regulations.

We had only a single case of seasickness in a crew of seven, but some crews did suffer and one hears of inadequate clothing. Most of us had a polar suit and newish oilskins, though the efforts of most foulweather manufacturers leaves much to be desired.

We always wore our harnesses, clipping them on to a jackstay in the cockpit before leaving the hatch. Before the race we had adjusted them for each person and marked the adjusted harness with his name on boat tape.

Many crews, including ourselves, would have liked smaller storm jibs: no rule prevents this and designers should specify them more seriously. Some of boats that were knocked down took on a frightening amount of water; as they also lost or broke washboards, it is likely that this water entered by the main hatch area.

We kept all our washboards in with the hatch pulled over, but some skippers left out the top washboard for communication and ventilation. This is now seem to be a mistake, for in a knockdown the lower washboards can – and did, in a number of cases – fall out. One yard had washboards smashed and the builder will make the obvious change.

Two yachts of the same class as mine were lost, both after severe knockdowns. Charioteer, whose mast broke in two after a sixth rollover, had her crew taken off by the superb seamanship of a French trawler. Griffin’s crew were rescued by the French She 36, Lorelei, as their liferaft began to disintegrate. In any boat in future main hatches with their doors or washboards must be able to be fastened from inside and out.


Alan Tabor’s painting of the rescue of Griffin captures the sheer chaos of the Fastnet disaster

Many were the heroics in those (as I estimate) 16 hours of the severe gale – by warships, trawlers and yachts of a number of nations, and aircraft of the Navy and Air Force as well as lifeboats and coastguards. More impressive on arrival at Plymouth was the dedication and organisation of volunteers on shore with their ever-ringing telephones.

Aboard Innovation we were happy we were one of the lucky crews. We were happy with the excellent strength of our hull and glad of the time consumed on preparation before the race and earlier in the season.

After a day or two of repairs and cleaning up in Plymouth and with a few different crewmembers, as previously planned, including my 13-year-old son, we set a course confidently for Ushant and a subsequent successful short cruise of north-west Brittany – after all, that is what a production cruiser racing boat is intended to be able to do.


A memorial to those who died in the 1979 Fastnet Race can be found on Cape Clear Island in Cork. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In memory of those lost during the 1979 Fastnet Race

  • Paul Baldwin
  • Robin Bowyer
  • Russell Brown
  • David Crisp
  • Peter Dorey
  • Peter Everson
  • Frank Ferris
  • William Le Fevre
  • John Puxley
  • Robert Robie
  • David Sheahan
  • Charles Steavenson
  • Roger Watts
  • Gerrit-Jan Williahey
  • Gerald Winks

The post 1979 Fastnet Race: A lucky escape – Sir Peter Johnson’s story appeared first on Yachting World.

43 of the best bluewater sailing yacht designs of all time (5 Dec 2019, 9:29 am)

How do you choose the right yacht for you? We highlight the very best bluewater designs for every type of cruising

Photo: TimBisMedia

Which yacht should you choose for bluewater sailing? This question generates even more debate among sailors than questions about what’s the coolest yacht, or the best for racing. Whereas racing designs are measured against each other, cruising sailors get very limited opportunities to experience different yachts in real oceangoing conditions.

Here, we bring you our top choices from decades of designs and launches. Over the years, the Yachting World team has sailed these boats, tested them or judged them for European Yacht of the Year awards, and we have sifted through the many to curate a selection that we believe should be on your wishlist.

Making the right choice may come down to how you foresee your yacht being used after it has crossed an ocean or completed a passage: will you be living at anchor or cruising along the coast? If so, your guiding requirements will be space, cabin size, ease of launching a tender and anchoring closer to shore, and whether it can comfortably accommodate non-expert-sailor guests.

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All of these considerations have generated the inexorable rise of the bluewater catamaran – monohulls can’t easily compete on these points. But if your itinerary and agenda calls for more time at sea and varying conditions, or you plan to go to places that could be more challenging, a monohull has it. A Lagoon is going to be quite wrong in Jan Mayen or the Beagle Channel…

As so much of making the right choice is selecting the right boat for the venture in mind, we have separated out our edit into categories: best for comfort; for families; for performance; and for expedition or high latitudes sailing.

Best bluewater sailing yachts for comfort


Photo: Graham Snook

Amel 55

This is the successor to the legendary Super Maramu, a ketch design that for several decades defined easy downwind handling and fostered a cult following for the French yard. Nearly a decade old, the Amel 55 is the bridge between those world-girdling stalwarts and Amel’s more recent and totally re-imagined sloop designs, the Amel 50 and 60.

The 55 boasts all the serious features Amel aficionados loved and valued: a skeg-hung rudder, solidly built hull, watertight bulkheads, solid guardrails and rampart bulwarks. And, most noticeable, the solid doghouse in which the helmsman sits in perfect shelter at the wheel.

This is a design to live on comfortably for long periods and the list of standard features just goes on and on: passarelle; proper sea berths with lee cloths; electric furling main and genoa; and a multitude of practical items that go right down to a dishwasher and crockery.

There’s no getting around the fact these designs do look rather dated now, and through the development of easier sail handling systems the ketch rig has fallen out of fashion, but the Amel is nothing short of a phenomenon, and if you’ve never even peeked on board one, you really have missed a treat.


Photo: Sander van der Borch

Contest 50CS

A centre cockpit cruiser with true longevity, the Contest 50CS was launched by Conyplex back in 2003 and is still being built by the family-owned Dutch company, now in updated and restyled form.

With a fully balanced rudder, large wheel and modern underwater sections, the Contest 50CS is a surprisingly good performer for a boat that has a dry weight of 17.5 tonnes. Many were fitted with in-mast furling, which clearly curtails that performance, but even without, this boat is set up for a small crew.

Electric winches and mainsheet traveller are all easy to reach from the helm. On our test of the Contest 50CS, we saw for ourselves how two people can gybe downwind under spinnaker without undue drama. Upwind, a 105% genoa is so easy to tack it flatters even the weediest crewmember.

Down below, the finish level of the joinery work is up there among the best and the interior is full of clever touches, again updated and modernised since the early models. Never the cheapest bluewater sailing yacht around, the Contest 50CS has remained in demand as a brokerage buy. She is a reassuringly sure-footed, easily handled, very well built yacht that for all those reasons has stood the test of time.

This is a yacht that would be well capable of helping you extend your cruising grounds, almost without realising it.


Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II

For many, the Swedish Hallberg-Rassy yard makes the quintessential bluewater cruiser for couples. With their distinctive blue cove line, these designs are famous for their seakindly behaviour, solid-as-a-rock build and beautifully finished, traditional interiors.

To some eyes, Hallberg-Rassys aren’t quite cool enough, but it’s been company owner Magnus Rassy’s confidence in the formula and belief in incremental ‘step-by-step’ evolution that has been such an exceptional guarantor of reliable quality, reputation and resale value.

The centre cockpit Hallberg-Rassy 48 epitomises the concept of comfort at sea and, like all the Frers-designed Hallberg-Rassys since the 1990s, is surprisingly fleet upwind as well as steady downwind. The 48 is perfectly able to be handled by a couple (as we found a few years back in the Pacific), and could with no great effort crack out 200-mile days.

The Hallberg-Rassy 48 was launched nearly a decade ago, but the Mk II from 2014 is our pick, updated with a more modern profile, larger windows and hull portlights that flood the saloon and aft cabin with light. With a large chart table, secure linear galley, heaps of stowage and space for bluewater extras such as machinery and gear, this yacht pretty much ticks all the boxes.


Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Discovery 55

First launched in 2000, the Discovery 55 has stood the test of time. Designed by Ron Holland, it hit a sweet spot in size that appealed to couples and families with world girdling plans.

Elegantly styled and well balanced, the 55 is also a practical design, with a deep and secure cockpit, comfortable seating, a self-tacking jib, dedicated stowage for the liferaft, a decent sugar scoop transom that’s useful for swimming or dinghy access, and very comfortable accommodation below. In short, it is a design that has been well thought out by those who’ve been there, got the bruises, stubbed their toes and vowed to change things in the future if they ever got the chance.

Throughout the accommodation there are plenty of examples of good detailing, from the proliferation of handholds and grabrails, to deep sinks in the galley offering immediate stowage when under way and the stand up/sit down showers. Stowage is good, too, with plenty of sensibly sized lockers in easily accessible positions.

The Discovery 55 has practical ideas and nifty details aplenty. She’s not, and never was, a breakthrough in modern luxury cruising but she is pretty, comfortable to sail and live on, and well mannered.


Photo: Latitudes Picture Library

Rustler 42

You can’t get much more Cornish than a Rustler. The hulls of this Stephen Jones design are hand-moulded and fitted out in Falmouth – and few are more ruggedly built than this traditional, up-for-anything offshore cruiser.

She boasts an encapsulated lead keel, eliminating keel bolts and creating a sump for generous fuel and water tankage, while a chunky skeg protects the rudder. She is designed for good directional stability and load carrying ability. These are all features that lend this yacht confidence as it shoulders aside the rough stuff.

Most of those built have had a cutter rig, a flexible arrangement that makes sense for long passages in all sea and weather conditions. Down below, the galley and saloon berths are comfortable and sensible for living in port and at sea, with joinery that Rustler’s builders are rightly proud of.

As modern yachts have got wider, higher and fatter, the Rustler 42 is an exception. This is an exceptionally well-mannered seagoing yacht in the traditional vein, with elegant lines and pleasing overhangs, yet also surprisingly powerful. And although now over 20 years old, timeless looks and qualities mean this design makes her look ever more like a perennial, a modern classic.

Oyster 575

The definitive crossover size, the point at which a yacht can be handled by a couple but is just large enough to have a professional skipper and be chartered, sits at around the 60ft mark. At 58ft 8in, the Oyster 575 fitted perfectly into this growing market when launched in 2010. It went on to be one of the most popular models from the yard, and is only now being superseded by the newer Rob Humphreys-designed Oyster 565 (just launched this spring).

Built in various configurations with either a deep keel, shoal draught keel or centreboard with twin rudders, owners could trade off better performance against easy access to shallower coves and anchorages. The deep-bodied hull, also by Rob Humphreys, is known for its easy motion at sea.

Some of the Oyster 575’s best features include its hallmark coachroof windows style and centre cockpit – almost everyone will know at first glance this is an Oyster – and superb interior finish. If she has a flaw, it is arguably the high cockpit, but the flip side is the galley headroom and passageway berth to the large aft stateroom.

This design also has a host of practical features for long-distance cruising, such as high guardrails, dedicated liferaft stowage, a vast lazarette for swallowing sails, tender, fenders etc, and a penthouse engine room.


Privilege Serie 5

A true luxury catamaran which, fully fitted out, will top €1m, this deserves to be seen alongside the likes of the Oyster 575, Gunfleet 58 and Hallberg-Rassy 55. It boasts a large cockpit and living area, and a light and spacious saloon with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living, masses of refrigeration and a big galley.

Standout features are finish quality and solid build in a yacht designed to take a high payload, a secure walkaround deck and all-round views from the helm station. The new Privilege 510 that will replace this launches in February 2020.


Gunfleet 43

It was with this Tony Castro design that Richard Matthews, founder of Oyster Yachts, launched a brand new rival brand in 2012, the smallest of a range stretching to the flagship Gunfleet 74. The combination of short overhangs and centre cockpit at this size do make the Gunfleet 43 look modern if a little boxy, but time and subsequent design trends have been kind to her lines, and the build quality is excellent. The saloon, galley and aft cabin space is exceptional on a yacht of this size.


Photo: David Harding

Kraken 50

Conceived as a belt-and-braces cruiser, the Kraken 50 launched last year. Its unique points lie underwater in the guise of a full skeg-hung rudder and so-called ‘Zero Keel’, an encapsulated long keel with lead ballast.

Kraken Yachts is the brainchild of British businessman and highly experienced cruiser Dick Beaumont, who is adamant that safety should be foremost in cruising yacht design and build. “There is no such thing as ‘one yacht for all purposes’… You cannot have the best of all worlds, whatever the salesman tells you,” he says.


Wauquiez Centurion 57

Few yachts can claim to be both an exciting Med-style design and a serious and practical northern European offshore cruiser, but the Wauquiez Centurion 57 tries to blend both. She slightly misses if you judge solely by either criterion,
but is pretty and practical enough to suit her purpose.

A very pleasant, well-considered yacht, she is impressively built and finished with a warm and comfortable interior. More versatile than radical, she could be used for sailing across the Atlantic in comfort and raced with equal enjoyment at Antigua Sailing Week.


Bowman 40

A modern classic if ever there was one. A medium to heavy displacement yacht, stiff and easily capable of standing up to her canvas. Pretty, traditional lines and layout below.


Photo: Voyage of Swell

Cal 40

Well-proven US legacy design dating back to the mid-1960s that once conquered the Transpac Race. Still admired as pretty, with slight spoon bow and overhanging transom.


Hylas 46

Capable medium displacement cruiser, ideal size and good accommodation for couples or family cruising, and much less costly than similar luxury brands.


Photo: Peter Szamer

Malo 37

Swedish-built aft cockpit cruiser, smaller than many here, but a well-built and finished, super-durable pocket ocean cruiser.


Tartan 3700

Designed as a performance cruiser there are nimbler alternatives now, but this is still an extremely pretty yacht.

Brokers choice


Discovery 55 Brizo

This yacht has already circumnavigated the globe and is ‘prepared for her next adventure,’ says broker Berthon. Price: £535,000 + VAT


Oyster 575 Ayesha

‘Stunning, and perfectly equipped for bluewater cruising,’ says broker Ancasta International. Price: £845,000 (tax not paid)


Oyster 575 Pearls of Nautilus

Nearly new and with a high spec, this Oyster Brokerage yacht features American white oak joinery and white leather upholstery and has a shoal draught keel. Price: $1.49m

The post 43 of the best bluewater sailing yacht designs of all time appeared first on Yachting World.

Wild anchoring: Pip Hare explains how to secure your boat in remote spots (5 Dec 2019, 9:28 am)

Dropping the hook in unfamiliar locations can throw up a number of problems. Pip Hare explains her wild anchoring technique

When the water is too deep, securing to land is the best alternative

The further off the beaten track I have ventured, the more my definition of an ‘ideal’ anchorage has changed. Sometimes, to gain access to the shore or to find refuge from the weather, I’ve had to take whatever shelter nature has to offer and get creative with my own mooring techniques.

I once spent a week escaping the wrath of the Roaring Forties, strung up between the rocks in a caletta (small bay) on the Argentine coast. There was no room to swing and not enough runway to lay out a decent anchor, but it was the only available haven so we just adapted by securing multiple lines ashore. Here are some of the solutions I have used for wild anchoring.

Attaching to the shore

When the water is deep and the shore steeply shelving, it’s not always practical or possible to use anchors, so securing to land becomes the most viable alternative. The most common way to do this is by reversing towards the shore, dropping the bow anchor on the way so it’s pulling ‘uphill’ then running a couple of positioning lines ashore from the stern.

It’s not simple setting up these sorts of mooring systems and needs thought. If possible make a dinghy recce first, or set up land anchor points. It’s useful to have a variety of ways to fix to the shore. I used lengths of chain that could be secured around boulders, steel stakes hammered into soft ground (as used with canal boats), and webbing straps to wrap around trees.

Once anchored, one crew member will need to hold the boat in position against the anchor, while a dinghy takes positioning lines ashore; ideally use a floating line, paid out from a reel. If shore anchors have not already been put in place, quickly make off one line as a temporary mooring; if in an area with trees try a tensionless hitch.

This hitch uses friction alone and will work on any cylindrical object – simply wrap your rope around the tree trunk four or five times and leave. There’s no knot tying required so this can be done by any crew.

Narrow tidal channels

I try to avoid setting in-line bow and stern anchors as slack ground tackle can easily get caught under the boat. But, in narrow tidal channels with no room to swing, there may be no alternative. Anchors should be of equal size if possible; if one anchor is smaller or has inferior ground tackle, ensure you use extra scope to even out the holding capabilities.

Set your stern anchor first, dropping it from the stern then motoring forward to lay out the chain. You will need a double length rode when setting the anchor initially, so attach extra line if necessary. Motor into the tide to drop your bow anchor then fall back gently taking up on the stern as you go.

Using a stern bridle can help reduce the risk of the stern anchor snagging. Set up a length of line on one stern cleat, with a loop or snatch block in the end. Pass the anchor rope through the loop then make it off on the opposite cleat, trimming the first piece of line to spread the load across both cleats.

Attaching a fender to the bridle can help prevent line from drifting under the transom. When lying on the bow anchor, the current should carry the fender and slack anchor line away from the back of the boat.

The Bahamian moor

A variation on this wild anchoring method is the Bahamian moor, which combines the ‘V’ method of anchoring. Set your anchors fore and aft as previously described, but once in your final position take the stern anchor chain up to the bow.

To avoid chain rubbing on the topsides the stern anchor can be attached using a shackle or rolling hitch to the bow anchor chain, then lower the join into the water just under the bow.

If choosing this method ensure there is enough room for your boat to lie to wind at slack water and watch for anchor chains twisting around each other at the turn of the tide.

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Anchoring for swell

Anchoring when there is a beam-on swell can be totally miserable and even induce seasickness. The obvious solution to this problem is to find a more comfortable place to stop. However, where that is not possible, then try positioning the boat into the swell rather than the wind.

Anchor to the wind using plenty of chain and take time to ensure this primary anchor is well dug in. Set a smaller anchor using the dinghy from your windward quarter to position the boat bow into the swell. When using this set-up ensure your small anchor is free to drop quickly in the event of an emergency and always consider your escape route.

Escape routes

  • Whenever wild anchoring in tight spaces and with multiple anchors you need to consider the ‘what ifs’. Think about what would happen if conditions changed, and make an escape plan.
  • I always ensure secondary anchors are buoyed with a tripping line and attached to the boat using rope that can be quickly released or cut in an emergency. Secondary anchors are always smaller with less substantial ground tackle. This ensures that if the whole system is put under pressure it is the secondary anchor that will drag.
  • If other boats come into your anchorage make sure they know where your primary anchor is set, if you are not lying to the wind. This will avoid any positioning problems should a secondary anchor let go.
  • Above all, be prepared to drop it all and leave if conditions change rapidly; you can always return in the dinghy once conditions are safe.

First published in the April 2018 edition of Yachting World.

The post Wild anchoring: Pip Hare explains how to secure your boat in remote spots appeared first on Yachting World.

The adventures of Infinity: Sailing to Antarctica on a 120ft handmade ketch (4 Dec 2019, 9:12 am)

An 8,300-mile trip deep into the Southern Ocean proved to be 60 days of pure adventure for Andy Jamieson

All photos: Ayack Wanderer

“When I say ‘Jump!’ y’all say ‘How high?’. If y’all don’t want to say ‘How high?’ you can pack your bags,” demanded the owner of the superyacht I was aboard.

The captain and I looked at each other and, without exchanging a word, answered in unison that we would be packing our bags. Just like that, my plans of spending the winter drenched in sun and rum in the Caribbean were over. It’s not easy working for billionaires.

But word spreads fast and just a few days later another voyage came my way. My friend Clemens Oestreich, a long-haired, chain-smoking, philosophic German hippie phoned and wanted to know if I could join his expedition to Antarctica on his 120ft, handmade ferrocement ketch, Infinity. The next day I was on a flight to Auckland.


Who wouldn’t want to join Clemens’ crew? After all, humour is important to maintain spirits on a long, difficult passage

Five years previously, whilst failing to concentrate on revising for my university finals, I’d stumbled across a listing on

Infinity was looking for crew for an exploratory diving and surfing expedition in Micronesia, so I spent the next few months visiting barely chartered atolls, meeting tribal communities, sailing in some of the least spoiled waters on the planet and diving on World War II wrecks.

The good memories flooded back on that long flight to Auckland. Then I started to get nervous. Infinity is pretty rough around the edges. I had spent the previous few years sailing on superyachts with unlimited budgets.

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Infinity was moored in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour and it was soon obvious there’d be a lot of work to do. Not only was Infinity not designed for ice, but she’d barely been out of the tropics in her almost 40 years. Clemens assured me she was in good shape but admitted there were a few projects remaining.

Looking around I quickly realised something was amiss. The engine room was minus a fairly critical component: the engine. I was confused by this – Clemens had told me they had a new engine. It transpired there was a new engine, of course, it just wasn’t installed. Sometimes details are important.

We worked around the clock. A rudimentary heating system and insulation was installed. A lorry load of pasta arrived, enough to last three months for our motley crew of 16.


Infinity, a 120ft ketch, is home built from ferrocement and is set up for adventure cruising

Next was the fuel truck and lastly, we installed our new to us, but not exactly new, engine. With everything in as satisfactory a state as it was going to get, and crew visas expiring in a matter of hours, it was time to leave. Carb-loaded, under a bright starry sky, we slipped our lines late one January evening.

Any vessel venturing into the deep south must be self-sufficient. One of the biggest dangers on any ocean crossing is crew health. Ideally, we’d have taken a doctor but our budget didn’t stretch that far so we settled for Pascale, a volunteer French vet.

He wasn’t worried. Not only did he have experience in all manner of operations, births and even euthanasia, but he’d worked on a variety of creatures from hamsters to monkeys. Humans are just another animal, he explained. I took solace in not being pregnant and hoped his euthanasia skills wouldn’t be tested.

As the days went by we got increasingly further south. The days got longer, the temperature dropped and the frequency of gales increased. We still went for the odd swim but no one could stay in for long. We experienced snowstorms and made a snowman.

Southern Ocean challenges

By the time we were in the ‘Screaming Sixties’ they were living up to their name. We experienced our first severe gale in which we hove-to, reducing the stress on both yacht and crew. One of the challenges of the Southern Ocean is sailing in light winds after storms have passed but with large, often confused, seas remaining.

During one of these lulls, we were struggling to sail and just discussing taking down the sails to motor when the mainsail violently backfilled and exploded. Within seconds we had the main down. The stitching had failed from luff to leech between two panels. We were now roughly 2,000 miles from safety with no main.


Fixing a blown mainsail took around 100 hours of work

Thankfully, Infinity is ketch rigged, and the route was mainly downwind in high winds meaning a reduced sailplan wasn’t catastrophic. Fixing the main became an all-consuming project with two people often working around the clock.

One person would be inside the sail and another on the outside pushing the needle back and forth. The repair involved completing three rows of double stitching. All in, we estimated it took about 100 tedious hours to complete.

A few days later, whilst asleep, I heard cries of “Iceberg off port bow!” Within seconds, the whole crew had assembled in a collective state of awe. No-one in the crew had sailed in icy waters before so our first iceberg was quite a novelty. We sailed close to it and looped around it, everyone had their photo taken with it. Titanic sprung to mind.


Infinity navigates through densely packed ice floes at night

From more than 60 days in the Southern Ocean’s grasp, I can count on one hand the amount of times the sun shone. But we were blessed with wall-to-wall sunshine on the day of our arrival in Antarctica, 32 days after we slipped our lines in Auckland.

Sailing into Cape Adare, 71° S, snow-capped mountains towered overhead, icebergs could be seen in all directions and we even had an escort of about 30 orca. This was what we had come for.

Before we could drop anchor, we first had to meander our way through a minefield of ice. Trying to focus isn’t easy when penguins are drifting by on ‘bergy bits.


Sharing an Antarctic anchorage with the locals

Remembering advice from a high latitude guide, we aimed for the inside of a large grounded iceberg (in shallow water, other ‘bergs will hopefully get grounded instead of hitting you).

The anchor, however, still wasn’t ready to be dropped, it was firmly frozen in place and it took some gentle persuasion with a sledgehammer and hot water before we finally got the hook down.

After dealing with the inconvenience of frozen fuel lines on the outboard, our landing party was underway. Landing was easier said than done. Strewn along the beach were countless car-sized blocks of ice. The ice was moving with each wave, threatening to enclose any gap and crush our glassfibre tender.


At anchor in Antarctica

Having successfully run the gauntlet of the moving ice, we landed in penguin territory. Being on land after more than a month at sea was remarkable, but to be surrounded by thousands of penguins took things to the next level.

One thing no photo can convey, however, is the stench. Technically, Antarctica is a desert, penguins aren’t too fussed with toilet habits and, with no rain, the place stinks.

Returning to Infinity we grimaced our way through yet another dinner from a can while downloading the latest GRIB file. A deep low was tracking our way so after just two memorable shore excursions we headed deeper into the Ross Sea in an attempt to get below the worst of the storm and take refuge in a bay.


Expedition leader Clemens Oestreich and some of the Infinity crew

But to our horror, we discovered that the bay we were aiming for had already iced over for the year. With no other choice, we’d have to ride out the storm at sea.

Infinity was hastily made storm ready as best we could, in anticipation of strong and prolonged winds in heavily iced waters. For once, the forecast was accurate: the wind increased until it was blowing 70 knots and gusting off the anemometer.

Sea spray was freezing mid-air and pummelling anyone unfortunate enough to be in its path. No matter your clothing, the wind-chill froze you to the bone. Accordingly, we rotated through short watches of around 30 minutes.

Ferocious weather

The plan was simple, go straight downwind, keep perpendicular to the waves and don’t hit any ice. We dove deeper south, to 72° 18’S – we think further south than any other sailing vessel that year (2014).

Sail trim was easy as we were running bare poles whilst surfing breaking waves big enough to roll us. Setting a drogue wasn’t possible as it would have limited our capabilities to avoid any stealthy ice.

Messing up was not an option, getting rolled or striking ice meant certain death for all aboard. Even with immersion suits, survival would be limited to hours, if not minutes, in these waters.


Big seas: exactly what you’d expect to find in the spectacular but fearsome Southern Ocean

The violent motion, extreme cold and rotating through short stints on the helm meant sleep evaded me for over three days, and I wasn’t the exception.

We all dug deep into our reserves but, fuelled by adrenaline and fear, we survived. When the wind finally dropped, we were able to take stock of the situation. We could now walk unhindered, be outside without being lashed to the helm, cook, sleep and function like regular human beings.

It was still blowing about 40 knots – but that was calm compared to what we’d just endured and relatively normal for the Southern Ocean. Up to her first spreaders, Infinity was plastered with a thick coating of ice. Smashing the ice off was both necessary from a stability and functional perspective, and also highly therapeutic for the crew.


Living with ice at the helm

Days later, I felt comparatively refreshed but Clemens kept telling me I looked exhausted and needed more rest. Unbeknown to me, he ordered no-one to wake me for my next watch and covered it himself. I slept for 17 hours.

Following dinner, I thanked Clemens for his concern, did my watch and went for another uninterrupted 12 hours of deep sleep.

Having survived hurricane force winds, torn most of our sails, and already been at sea for over a month, we were now tackling a 4,500 mile Southern Ocean passage to Patagonia. The final leg dragged. The main event was behind us, the cold was relentless, the sun barely shone and each day was a repeat of the previous.

Lightening the mood

Like the sky, the mood was often grey, so keeping spirits buoyant became important. Movie nights, games, any extra effort on the food front, fancy dress parties and a sea shanty writing competition all helped break the monotony.

Storm sailing became the norm, more sails were torn, more sail repairs were carried out. Ice was spotted every day until we were two days away from Chile.

All this time, we were also busy trying to resolve many mechanical problems. Somehow, during the depths of the storm, we had syphoned seawater into our diesel. Despite our best attempts at polishing the fuel, stripping down the entire system and rebuilding everything from injectors to pumps, we never quite got on top of it.


The engine often needed nursing to keep going

If the engine could just hold out for the final hurdle of the rock-strewn Chilean fjords, without seizing too badly, then we would be OK. At least engine maintenance got me out of sail repair duty.

After what felt like an eternity, Chile was finally spotted. Davey Jones blessed us with another rare sunny day whilst we navigated the fjords of Patagonia. Birds soared overhead, we could smell land and trees, we could see glacier-covered mountains, and even passed a lighthouse whose cheery keeper hailed us on the radio.

We’d gone from sensory deprivation to sensory overload and were high on life. The bars of Puerto Natales did very good business that night.


With hindsight, it seems almost unfathomable that we did the trip: an 8,300-mile Southern Ocean passage. I hadn’t given the prospect of a foray to Antarctica serious thought but simply jumped at the opportunity. I don’t regret the trip but definitely underestimated the gravity of such a voyage and wouldn’t repeat it.

Sea gypsies

Among our team was Nico Edwards, from California. Nico is the worst sufferer of seasickness I have ever encountered. Despite his perpetual mal de mer, his camera batteries constantly failing and the fact that he had never made a movie before, he managed to make a multi award-winning movie of our voyage. Sea Gypsies; The Far Side of The World is available on DVD, iTunes and Vimeo, see for more information.

The Infinity story

At 120ft, Infinity is believed to be the world’s largest ferrocement yacht. Conceived with expeditions in mind and launched in 1977 she was never quite finished and ended up being used as collateral in a failed business deal. Clemens Oestreich acquired her in the 1990s and has called her home ever since, bringing up five children aboard.

Equipped with a large solar array, she can function off-grid for extended periods. But she’s not luxurious. All winches are manual and none of the sails furl. Air conditioning means opening hatches and the art collection is whatever Clemens’s children (who live aboard when Infinity is not sailing to high latitudes) have created.



About the author

Andy Jamieson describes himself as a lifelong adventurer whose other passions include skiing, diving and climbing. He is a professional captain and currently running a luxury yacht in the Caribbean.

First published in the February 2018 edition of Yachting World.

The post The adventures of Infinity: Sailing to Antarctica on a 120ft handmade ketch appeared first on Yachting World.

Belinda: This refurbished 1980s quarter tonner is a real labour of love (3 Dec 2019, 9:21 am)

Rupert Holmes looks at the latest yacht to join the highly competitive vintage quarter tonner class after a comprehensive refit and upgrade


Spending around 1,800 hours and the price of a new boat on revamping a 30-year-old 26ft keelboat might seem extraordinary, yet it’s par for the course for a quarter tonner. The enthusiasm this class inspires in its owners means that a large proportion of the fleet has benefitted from this sort of unusually throrough refit.

One of the latest to undergo the full refurb treatment is Belinda, a 1986 carbon Kevlar Gonzales custom design, which had a full makeover in the hands of John Corby. The entire project came in at a six-figure price, including sails, electronics and VAT.

“She had been built to a really high standard in a male mould and was already a very sweet boat,” explains Corby. “I had a client, Tom Hall, who at the time owned another quarter tonner [the 1977 Whiting-designed Runaway Bus] as well as a Spirit yacht and wanted to refit a boat from scratch.


The revived quarter ton class races under IRC. Photo: Paul Wyeth

“Fortunately Tom and I aligned well in terms of what we thought was the best way to approach the project and our visions for the final outcome,” says Corby. “He wanted a boat that looks right – not all quarter tonners do – and the detailing had to be as good as possible.”

Substantial changes

The original keel was to be replaced with the Mark Mills-designed foil that has become almost standard among the reworked boats in the class. However, the original was bolted through a massive baseplate in the bilge and the keel bolts were thoroughly corroded.

The easiest solution was to cut the entire area away with a chainsaw, leaving a 1.2m (4ft) long and 0.46m (18in) wide gaping hole in the bottom of the hull.

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Dismantling of the boat didn’t stop there; all the remaining metalwork, including chainplates and deck hardware, was removed and discarded, as was the coachroof. Below decks the bunk fronts and a partial bulkhead are all that remains of the original interior.

There’s a new substantial grid in the floor to take the keel loads, as well as a vee girder joining the partial bulkheads underneath the mast step to add strength and stiffness to this part of the boat. “In all there is a huge amount of new structure around the keel, the mast and the chainplates,” says Corby.

To optimise the feel in the helm he also wanted the keel to be slightly forward of its original position. “Over the past 30 years mainsails have become much flatter,” he explains. “Designers used to struggle to reduce weather helm, but now you can be struggling to achieve enough feel.”


The asymmetric tack line emerges from just below the bow, which gives a better lead to the end of the pole

The boat has a slightly smaller sail area than some others in the class, reflecting that as a relatively late custom build (the majority of quarter tonner new builds were launched between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s) the structure is light, and even with 120kg of lead in the bilge the displacement will be around 50kg lighter (more than three per cent) than most of the other top boats in the fleet. However, the new carbon boom has been made over-length, so that additional area could be added.

One indication of the attention to detail that has gone into this boat is that, while most replacement coachroofs are fairly slab-sided and flat-topped, Corby and his team produced a one-off curved design that both looks better and is stiffer. It’s around half the height and much narrower than the original, which allows for a 6.5° headsail sheeting angle without the need for inhaulers.

Another example is the deck and sheer line around the front stanchion, which had a noticeable dip, as was common for IOR boats of the period. This was faired in with around 10-12mm of foam. In addition, the whole hull-deck joint was ground back, rounded off, and faired, while the new chainplates are composite.


A key decision was whether or not to move the rudder post forward. In the end it was decided to keep it in its original position

One new idea is the lateral compression post through the coachroof at deck level, which helps to prevent the rig squeezing the hull inwards at the chainplates. This is a hollow carbon structure, so control lines can also be run through it. Even the instrument pod on the mast is custom made in carbon, shaped to fit the individual instruments.

Creating complex deck layouts is easy, but it’s a much harder task to simplify them without compromising on the ability to control sail shape. Nevertheless, Belinda’s layout is much more streamlined than the original. Jib halyard tension, for instance, is controlled by a tack downhaul, with a block and tackle system used to provide purchase.

Similarly, the lateral curved jib car tracks and narrow coachroof avoid the need for inhaulers. The jib car controls are crossed over so everything can be operated from the rail, and jib sheets can be taken to either the leeward primary winch, or to windward.


The curved transverse jib cars. Note the control lines that run through the athwartships compression post under the coachroof, the square end of which can be seen here

The spinnaker bag in the companionway is mounted on an upside down jib track to make it easier to slide back and forth. As well as competing in quarter ton class events, which ban asymmetric kites, Belinda has also been taking part in other races such as the Round the Island Race and Cowes Week, which don’t have that restriction.

There is therefore provision for using an asymmetric spinnaker with twin spinnaker halyards to make it possible to peel to a different sail. The tack line exits in the bow a few inches below the forestay chainplate, creating a perfect lead to the ends of the spinnaker pole, which is 350mm longer than the J (base of the foretriangle) measurement.

Corby identifies this as being one of the most challenging bits of the project. “Structural stuff doesn’t faze me,” he says. “The big hole in the bottom of the boat after we cut the keel out was little different to building a boat from scratch. But the painting and fairing was relentless.”

A detailed inspection of Belinda’s hull and deck after weeks of long boarding and fairing revealed it was not absolutely perfect, so an extra 40 hours of sanding was added to the work schedule. The end result is stunning.


LOA: 7.74m (25ft 4in)
LWL: 5.69m (18ft 8in)
Beam: 2.70m (8ft 10in)
Draught: 1.65m (5ft 5in)
Displacement: 1,341kg (2,956lb)
Headsail area: 14.85m2 (159.8ft2)
Spinnaker area: 45.46m2 (489.3ft2)

First published in the November 2017 edition of Yachting World.

The post Belinda: This refurbished 1980s quarter tonner is a real labour of love appeared first on Yachting World.

Frers design: The family dynasty behind some of the world’s most beautiful yachts (2 Dec 2019, 8:34 am)

Germán Frers and his son Mani are among the most popular and revered yacht designers of their era. Tim Jeffery finds out what makes them tick

Photo: Luca Butto

It was the economist J K Galbraith who said that there was “no absolute standard of beauty. That,” he added, “is precisely what makes its pursuit so interesting.” That interest in the pursuit of beauty is something that Germán Frers and his son Mani have spent their working lives striving to attain. In the process they have created some of the most revered yachts and are among the most admired designers of their era.

“It’s a gift in a way,” says Germán about the felicitous lines that mark out a Frers design. The essence of his work is in the emotion-stirring aesthetics. “It comes naturally,” he says. “But it’s also a belief I have that design should transcend generations. It’s easy to do something fashionable, something that has momentary success but doesn’t last very long.”

Mani tells the story of being in St Tropez last year when his father was racing Fjord III, the classic 50ft yacht built in 1947. “He said: ‘Come and see this boat. It was one I really loved as a kid’. So I arrived in St Tropez and it was full of white classic yachts. I didn’t know where Fjord was but I picked this one boat out straightaway. So there is some sort of connection. It was the first time I thought there might be something in genes and inheritance.”


Photo: Nico Martinez

Just as one line – the sheer – can define a boat, so it connects Germán and Mani. “I discussed sheer lines with my father and we see things exactly the same way. Yet he never taught me that. As a kid I was simply picking up a pencil and was in the design office every day, surrounded by photos of beautiful yachts and hearing all sorts of stories at the dinner table at home. There are plenty of guys in the office yet no one picks up the sheer that my father and I can draw.”

And how they can draw. Both Frers are responsible for some of the world’s most desirable yachts and Germán, now 76, has no thoughts of winding down. “I am not planning to retire,” he says, adding that he might “go gaga” if he did. “I’ve really enjoyed my profession and there’s nothing I’d rather be doing.” Besides, the demand for his work is undiminished, particularly from clients of his own generation.

Mani is similarly committed to his craft. “We don’t realise the time it takes because we love what we do,” he says. “Then there is having the eye for it. We can work on a boat, review it, say it fits the brief but decide it is not the complete package. So we – how do you say it? – pull our sleeves up and do it again.”

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Mani and Germán now work less together: they are so close that they don’t need to. Across three generations the Frers family has been responsible for 1,300 designs. When Germán Sr was Germán Jr, his father was already a prolific designer in Argentina.

Back in the 1920s his father designed his first yacht, Fjord. Yachting was a nascent sport in Argentina, based mostly on imported International Rule inspired boats from the US or UK. Fjord was a Colin Archer style heavy double-ender, and it was Germán Sr’s idea of a proper yacht for ocean voyaging.

He later explored how plywood could be utilised, coming to similar conclusions as Ricus van de Stadt, Dutch boatbuilding pioneer. “He ended up drawing long waterline, hard chine, light displacement types,” explains Mani. “That was a huge step.”


Swan cruiser-racers

The influence of his grandfather and father is manifest: “My father took over my grandfather’s mantle and made beautiful, fast boats of every size. To keep this tradition and rate of development you have to go at an intense rate. But this must be done from a very solid base.”

The Frers name came to international notice in 1954 when one of his designs, the 40ft Trucha 11 came 2nd overall in the Bermuda Race. A string of successes followed for a series of Frers-designed and owned yachts with the name Fjord.

His son was equally drawn to design and at just 16 drafted his first boat. It was for a friend of his father who had returned to Argentina from the US excited about the new material glass fibre. “He wanted a design and my father said: ‘I’ll let Germán Jr do it. Just go ahead’.”


Shamanna, a Frers Nautor Swan 115. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

The 10m yawl was launched in 1958 and represented the younger Germán’s ideals: flush deck, clean lines, aerodynamic with a rounded deck-edge. It represented a big step away from the light, chined boats his father was drawing which, though popular, were not treated kindly by the CCA (Cruising Club of America) rule, which evolved into the IOR (International Offshore) rule.

The younger Frers studied naval architecture at the University of Buenos Aires and then worked at Sparkman & Stephens in the United States from 1965 to 1968. The ability to fashion a beautiful yacht that was optimised to a rating was something that Frers honed while working at S&S before setting up on his own in Manhattan.

In time, Frers returned to Buenos Aires to run the studio his father started back in 1925. The 1971 and 1973 yachts Matrero and Reculta were making names for themselves in the Argentine Admiral’s Cup teams and the son was now established in his own right.


The stunning lines and high performance of Barong D make her a formidable sight. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

By the mid-1980s he had become one of the most successful designers of the IOR era. The yacht names still resonate – Ron Amey’s Noryema, Ted Turner’s Tenacious King Juan Carlos’s Bribon – to name but a few.

Frers’s name was synonymous with success on the maxi circuit from the early days of Herbert van Karajan’s Helisara, through to Bevin Koeppel’s Congere, John Kahlbetzer’s Bumblebee, Huey Long’s Ondine, Bill Koch’s Matador, Raul Gardini’s Il Moro di Venezia and Jim Kilroy’s Kialoa. One of his most famous designs was Conny van Rietschoten’s Flyer II, which won the 1981-82 Whitbread Round the World Race.

In the late 1980s Mani came to England to complete the renowned yacht design course at the Southampton Institute. After graduating in 1992, he went to Milan, where his father had opened a second office to service the 1992 Il Moro di VeneziaAmerica’s Cup campaign. Germán had been travelling monthly from Argentina but with Mani now in Italy he could remain mostly in Buenos Aires. This is largely how father and son have worked for the past 20 years.


Prada/Luna Rossa

The different generations have different working practices as well as different offices. Germán has a long-standing and close-knit team, including designer Nestor Fourcade, who has been with him for 42 years. Mani, by contrast, uses a global network of 40-plus specialists, relationships built up especially during his time as designer, with his father, in 2000 with the Prada/Luna Rossa America’s Cup campaign and as sole designer in 2003 and 2007 for Sweden’s Victory Challenge. In an age when corporate teams had taken over, Mani was probably the last named solo designer.

Each has a different way of working, too. Germán is close to his team in Buenos Aires –“It’s bit like those old marriages!” – while Mani admits to being happier at the drawing table, pencil in hand creating lines, or running a design through advanced software programs rather than communicating between offices.

But both Germán and Mani have worked on numerous projects together. “To have Mani make a success of it in his own right is very nice,”says Germán.“As long as he is happy, we continue with our good relationship and continue to cooperate on a couple of projects, I am happy. I thought that we would continue to work as I did with my father but I recognise there are difficulties in that. Different generations do things in a different way. It was similar for me.”


German Frers on Rebecca: “We had to bend over backwards to please the owner, to the point the boat was started without a bow because we were still discussing whether to do a plumb bow, a long overhang or something in between. To my regret, I gave up a little too much to the client… a concession to classical aesthetics.”

The family thread remains a strong tie between the three generations. Germán has reworked (for modern construction methods) a 20m ketch that was designed by his father but never built due to wartime material shortages. She was Recluta II and will employ the contemporary rig and gear saved from the original Recluta, which was lost in a grounding.

In all there are over 10,000 yachts bearing three generations of the Frers marque. It is a hallmark of Germán and Mani that they eschew self-promotion, despite having created some of the most innovative and revered yachts of the modern era.

Between them, the body of work includes Horst Holmberg’s 1981 ketch Volador, which stood at the cusp of modern systems taming large rigs for small crews and Gianni Agnelli’s 1987 Extra-Beat, which heralded the trend for high performance daysailers.


German Frers on Stealth: “The brief was: ‘I want a boat that will give me pleasure. It’s going to be called Stealth. It’s going to be black with black sails.’ It was high-performance, good looking and pointed the way towards a new type of yacht.” Photo: Gilles Martin Raget

Other landmark designs have been Jim Clark’s 155ft sloop Hyperion, built in 1996, a fully networked vessel that had 60km of fibre optic cabling to her self-learning computer controlled systems. Then Agnelli’s Extra Beat follow-up, the 1995 Stealth – 98ft of pure speed and able to hold 30-knot speeds with minimal crew and scarcely more than a head, a sofa and means to boil a kettle.

One of the most beautiful designs is the 140ft classic ketch Rebecca, commissioned by owner Charles Butt in 1999 and still referenced 20 years later as one of the most soul-stirring and elegant yachts afloat.

Frank Gehry, the architect, chose to work with Germán Frers on his own, slightly eccentric flush-decked Foggy, launched in 2015, something that shows Frers is appreciated as much by the cognoscenti as by owners of humbler production boats. Asked about their popularity, Mani says: “Clients come to us because they could not find what they liked on the market. For them, none of the existing yachts were seakindly or efficient in terms of drag.”


The distinctive Foggy, was a commission for architect Frank Gehry

Many clients come for motorboats, too, often from a sailing background. In 2017 Baltic Yachts launched the first MY78, for which Mani was the designer. It utilises lightweight composite construction and Mani believes it is a breakthrough combination of low displacement, high performance, fuel efficient, seakindly hull forms.

Germán Frers says all the miles that three generations have logged at sea go to shape yachts that are not just practical and efficient but sensuous too. “My father once said to me that ‘between the faces of Sophia Loren and San Martin [an 18th Century Argentine war hero] is only a few millimetres of difference, but the effect is very different’.” It is with these subtleties that the Frers, grandfather, father and son, have excelled.

First published in the December 2017 edition of Yachting World.

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