10 creative ways to trash a spinnaker

Anyone who has ever raced a yacht in anything above a Force 2 will appreciate that the spinnaker has a mind of its own – especially when it’s time to pull it down and head upwind again. Take a look for yourself in this compilation of mostly-spinnaker-related disasters filmed at an industry regatta in the Solent.



The Little Britain Challenge Cup is organised by – and for – the Construction and Property Industry with racing overseen by the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes. Typically attended by around 100 boats, the fleet completes four races over two days and is divided into numerous classes. According to the event website (www.littlebritain.co.uk): “All of the major architects and contractors send teams to the event and most participants are high-level industry professionals and big decision makers.”

How not to fly a spinnaker video

How not to fly a spinnaker video.

The relaxed atmosphere of an event such as this, with inexperienced crew on large boats explains why there were quite so many sail handling errors. Larger boats can squeeze more people aboard, however the sails – and spinnakers in particular – are, of course, that much bigger.

This year’s event was an extremely light-wind affair in early September when only one out of four races was successfully completed. Next year is scheduled for 10-13 September.

For more unusual sailing footage from boats.com, see: Sailing dog: amazing trapezing Collie or Video of the Week: Guitar Goes Sailing.

Endeavour Trophy 2014 winners

Pipping their nearest rivals to the post in the final race of the series was just enough for Matt Burge and Toby Lewis representing the Osprey class to secure the 2014 Topper Sailboats-supported Endeavour Championship.

Endeavour Trophy 2014

Endeavour Trophy 2014 winners.

With just two point separating the leading two boats (Osprey), and Matt Mee and Tom Pygall (Merlin Rocket) going into today’s final two races, the situations was always going to be close, and indeed, it went right down to the wire.

The penultimate race was sailed in lively conditions that reached 20 knots in the gusts. Charlie Roome and Jeremy Stephens (Lark) sailed well and managed the win from Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey (Streaker) by just one second on the finish line.

A sixth place however, for the Osprey team and a third for the Merlin Rocket boys, meant there was just one place between the leading contenders going into the final race. For the Osprey team to win, they had to finish ahead of the Merlin Rocket team.

The final race showdown was exciting with Ian Dobson and Holly Scott (GP14) establishing an impressive one-minute lead over Mee and Pygall (Merlin Rocket). Dobson and Scott maintained their position to the finish but in the closing stages of the race, Burge and Lewis (Osprey) were back in contention after being buried at the start and were able to take advantage of a favourable shift at the final leeward mark and just managed to beat Mee and Pygall across the line.

Matt Burge chatting about the gripping, final race finish, said: “The Merlin boys were beating us all the way round the race course, but we had a phenomenal last run. We then opted for the opposite leeward gate mark to them, found a nice bit of breeze, tacked on a shift, then slogged our guts out to the finish line. I’ve never hiked so hard and my legs were trembling. We beat them across the line by half a boat length.”

Commenting on his win, Burge added: “Winning the Endeavour Trophy is quite emotional. It has always been the event of all events I’ve wanted to win, so now I feel I can die happy having won it. “

Toby Lewis – four times Endeavour Champion crew – added. “It is great to win it with Matt. We had a tough day today, and a real fight on our hands. It was just an excellent last race. Today was a real case of not giving up. In both races we were buried at times but through sheer determination we pulled through.”

Endeavour Trophy 2014

The Topper Argo made its debut at this year’s event.

Second placed Matt Mee and Tom Pygall (Merlin Rocket) certainly didn’t make it easy for the eventual winners. Pygall commented: “Yes it was disappointing not to have won but we had a fantastic event. It was the first time I’ve sailed with Matt, and what a great guy he is to sail with. He is a legend really. We worked well together and I think the Argo is the type of boat that rewards teamwork, so yes, we really enjoyed it.”

At 16 years old, Rachel Grayson (Mirror class national champion) is not only one of the youngest helmsmen at this year’s event but according available records, she is also the highest placed female helmsman ever at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club-hosted Endeavour Championship.

Grayson sailing with Nigel Wakefield, who finished the event in sixth place overall, was noted for her extreme skill, professional composure and her consistent performance throughout the weekend. Commenting on her impressive result, a modest Grayson concluded: “It was really fun and I cannot believe where we finished. My biggest fear was potentially finishing last in every race, and I really didn’t expect to be any good, particularly as it was also my first time sailing with an asymmetric spinnaker. I did have an amazing crew, so that helped and I probably owe our success to him.”

Endeavour Trophy 2014 overall results

(eight races, 1 discard)
1st Osprey, Matt Burge and Toby Lewis (21pts)
2nd Merlin Rocket, Matt Mee and Tom Pygall (22pts)
3rd GP 14, Ian Dobson and Holly Scott (23pts)
4th Lark, Charlie Roome and Jeremy Stephens (33pts)
5th Streaker, Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey (33pts)
6th Mirror, Rachel Grayson and Nigel Wakefield (37pts)

For full results go to the Royal Corinthian YC.

How to trash a spinnaker!

This has to be the ultimate ‘must not do’ list for anyone who has a spinnaker! Unless you want to trash a spinnaker (perhaps it’s getting a bit past it, but you’re struggling to justify the cost of a new one!), in which case go ahead!

Sailing is often portrayed as the ultimate serene activity – no engine noise, just the breeze tugging at the sails and the hull bobbing gently across the waves. But when it comes to sailing footage on Youtube, the most popular clips show nothing of the sort!

Spinnakers are the ultimate racing sail – as light as a parachute and just as effective at filling with wind. So when it comes to racing with the wind blowing from behind the boat, the one with the biggest spinnaker, usually goes fastest.

But controlling the boat downwind is a much more difficult exercise than it is when going into the wind. With the sails pulled in tight, it’s simple to ease the sheet and reduce the power. But with the sheets already eased and the wind gusting from behind you… what options do you have?

How to destroy a spinnaker!

How to destroy a spinnaker!

In the first broach, the crew should have released the boom vang (or kicking strap) and also the halyard at the top of the spinnaker. Often this is the only way to dump the power from the huge out-of-control sail off the bow of the boat.

But as long as the rig stays upright and nobody goes overboard, these sorts of events usually sort themselves out and the crew is improved as a result.

Here’s a few more favourite hardcore racing and sailing video clips, including: Rogue Wave Smothers Clipper Yacht or Extreme offshore sailing or Extreme dinghy sailing: caught on camera.

Britain’s deadliest storms remembered

As October weather sweeps across the Atlantic, the deadliest storms with winds of hurricane force typically pass to the far north, hammering the Western Isles and the Shetlands and leaving the majority of the UK mainland soggy, but out of danger. However, extreme wind storms do affect the whole country every few years and remind us that there is little that can stand up to a 100mph gust.

Every year new extreme weather footage adds to the hours of Youtube videos featuring weather phenomena such as Waves crashing on lighthouses, Dramatic ocean waves videos and Biggest wave ever surfed. But Youtube also hosts full-length documentaries on freak storms and weather disasters, including the three deadliest storms in recent UK history.


1. Britain’s Biggest Storm – 1987: ITV Productions

Deadliest storm

Michael Fish: “There will be no hurricane tonight.”

Of course, when you raise the topic of weather and TV broadcasting – in the UK anyway – the first clip that comes to mind is poor old Michael Fish on the eve of the biggest, deadliest storm in the UK for three centuries that took 19 lives and caused billions of pounds worth of damage telling viewers: “A woman rang the BBC and said she’d heard there was a hurricane on the way. Don’t worry. There isn’t.”

Of course, technically he was correct, however hurricane-force winds pummelled the UK for most of the night and the poor forecasting on national TV and radio left most people totally unprepared for the ferocity of the storm.


2. The Greatest Storm 1953: Timewatch for BBC

In January of 1953, unusual weather conditions caused Britain’s worst national peacetime disaster of the 20th century. A storm surge flooded the eastern coast of England, killing more than 300 people and leaving thousands homeless. The disaster also affected the Netherlands and led to an enormous program of flood defences to protect the coast. Fifty years later, ‘Timewatch’ re-examines a calamity which is largely forgotten today.


3. The Fastnet Yacht Race Tragedy of 1979

The story of the Force 10 gale – sailing’s deadliest storm – which decimated the 1979 Fastnet race, the last of the Admiral’s Cup events in that year. A massive search and rescue operation was begun as half of the 300 yachts competing went missing in a 20,000 square-mile area of the Irish Sea. The death toll was 15, and the ramifications are still felt today with the increased safety requirements introduced in the aftermath

Bart’s Bash breaks Guinness World Record

Bart’s Bash, the global sailing race organised by the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation which took place on 21stSeptember, has set the new Guinness World Record for the Largest Sailing Race (24 hours).

BArt's Bash sailors - Weymouth

Competitors at this weekend’s Bart’s Bash event from the Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre, Weymouth.

While the Bart’s Bash technical team are still processing the data submitted by some of the 768 venues who took part, the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation is delighted to announce that the threshold of 2,500 boats sailing in regattas including at least 25 boats, the key criteria to meet the record, has been reached.

This announcement comes after processing the results of 3,600 boats, who have sailed over 10,000,000 metres in total, which equals 13% of the data the organisation expects to receive in the coming days.

“The event has proved a huge success and we are delighted to announce that, subject to ratification, we have set the new Guinness World Record. And we have done it in style with 87 % of the results still to be processed,” said Richard Percy, CEO of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation. “The turnout on 21st September exceeded our expectations and we are very happy that we provided a truly global opportunity for people to come together and enjoy sailing. We hope this event will become a regular feature in the global sailing calendar.”

The event was a world-wide celebration of sailing attracting over 18,000 participants of all ages and abilities, taking part in 68 different countries. For many people it was their first time sailing. Races were held between 0.00 and 23.59 GMT on 21st September 2014 globally.

Bart’s Bash was set up to remember Olympic gold medallist Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson, to inspire the next generation of sailors, to encourage clubs to open their doors and to fundraise in support of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation’s charitable programmes.

The Bart’s Bash technical team have created a system capable of handicapping several thousands of boats across hundreds of classes. The provisional results are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. The processed data will be ratified by Guinness World Records before the end of the year.

The Guinness World Record criteria is explained here.


Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson Remembered

Bart Simpson: Special Memorial to a Special Man

Toroidal vortex: dolphins blowing bubble rings

The ability to blow smoke rings is, perhaps, the mark of a man or woman with too much time on their hands. But think again – a smoke ring is a phenomenon known in the study of fluid dynamics as a toroidal vortex, which occurs naturally when volcanos puff smoke through round craters into the sky. But in the underwater realm, it turns out that blowing air bubbles in the shape of smoke rings is a popular past time enjoyed by dolphins, manatees, whales and, of course, humans. Take a look at this toroidal vortex footage (from 0:52 on the video) and prepare to be amazed.

Amazing water rings

Amazing water rings

Unhappily, the end sequence is also beautiful – the blast rings from an atomic explosion are also examples of a toroidal vortex, but the peaceful playfulness of the dolphins is what stays in the brain after watching the video.

Vortex rings were first mathematically analyzed by the German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz and are most commonly understood by boaters to mean the rings of bubbles created by the typical screw propeller beneath a boat engine.

Engine noise is certainly attractive to dolphins as they never miss the chance to swim alongside a boat buzzing through the water. Perhaps it’s all to do with the toroidal vortex…


More videos and news of the natural world on www.boats.com

Killer whales play in wake of speedboat

Watch humpback whale rescue in Sea of Cortez – video

Ferretti Yachts 870: focussing the light

The new Ferretti Yachts 870 has been optimised to make the most of the summer sun while enhancing the views from inside the boat. This is a boat designed to bring a bit of the outside in.

Ferretti Yachts 870

Ferretti Yachts 870: large windows on both decks

Search all Ferretti Yachts for sale in the UK on www.boats.com

The main and lower decks sport windows that are larger than usual, while amidships the gunwale has been lowered to improve the view from inside the main saloon. From the combination dining area and saloon, the lowered gunwale enhances the view outside. Abundant natural light flows through the open floor-plan thanks to the size of the windows and the full width glass sliding doors. The use of wood soles and a combination of satin-finished wood and lacquered surfaces creates a casual, almost beach-house-like feel.

Ferretti Yachts 870: Dining and main saloon

The design is a deliberate attempt to create a high-end casual environment – something like a floating, elegant pool house.


Galley and helm

Staying on the main deck, you’ll find the galley and the inside helming station. A number of European builders offering megayachts have started placing the galley below decks, in the crew area. But the Ferretti 870 situates the galley on the main deck. On the American version of the Ferretti 870, the galley is open to the helm.

Inside helms are increasingly being replaced by main-deck master suites, but having a traditional pilothouse isn’t just practical, it’s also well suited to chatting with the captain. Note the observation settee tucked to port.



The multi-paneled ports bring plenty of natural light inside the Ferretti 870′s master stateroom. There are five panes in all, and they’re to both sides of the stateroom. The stateroom is also full-beam, so even though it’s below decks rather than on the main deck, it doesn’t make you feel slighted.

Ferretti Yachts 870: Master stateroom

Despite being hidden away on the lower deck, the full-width master stateroom is very light.

There are three guest staterooms aboard the Ferretti 870, including a fixed-berth twin cabin with a three-panel port allowing plenty of light in. The same window arrangement is in the other twin stateroom across the hallway. And that stateroom allows the beds to be pushed together, to form a queen berth when wanted.


Upper deck

The teak-lined upper deck has a sun deck adjacent to the hot tub (covered in this photo), plus a handy pull-out shower in the base of the hot tub. There’s also a grill opposite the U-shape seating/dining area.

Ferretti Yachts 870: Upper deck

A hot tub (covered in picture), shower – set into the base of the hot tub, seating, retractable helm station and retractable hard-top: everything you could desire from a flying bridge upper deck.

Of course, ask any captain or owner-operator where he or she likes to drive the yacht, and the answer is nearly always “outside.” The Ferretti 870’s upper-deck helm has a comfortable bench-seat for two that can retract for times when the yacht is at anchor for a few days.

When the weather’s good, activate the sliding hardtop to make the flying bridge even more of an enticing spot, especially while the yacht is underway. With twin MTU 12V 2000 M94s, the Ferretti 870 should see a top speed of 30.5 knots and cruise around 27 knots. Range should be 300 nautical miles and 358 nautical miles at those respective speeds.


Ferretti Yachts 870 Specifications:

LOA: 26.6m

Beam: 6.25m

Draught: 2m

Displacement: 80,000kg

Fuel capacity: 7,400 litres

Water capacity: 1,321 litres


The Ferretti 870 shows that there’s an ongoing evolution of design among the models it offers. While some may find the exterior styling of the yacht (from Ferretti’s longtime collaborator Studio Zuccon International Project) more aggressive, it’s not off-putting. Nor is it so trendy that it will look dated before too long. Thankfully, too, the Ferretti Yachts 870 shows that the shipyard hasn’t lost sight of what a big base of its buyers wants: boats built around how they like to live while out on the water.


For more information, contact Ferretti Yachts.


More superyacht news and reviews from www.boats.com

Riva 88 Miami: Luxury power convertible

Top 10 coolest superyacht toys

Top 10 Fantasy Boats

Extreme dinghy sailing: caught on camera

Stuck in the office? Champagne sailing conditions out on the bay? Well take a break and enjoy a full 10 minutes of high-speed extreme dinghy sailing caught on camera.

It’s probably advisable to put your headphones on as well!

Extreme sailing video

Extreme sailing video

The video focusses on the Laser fleet attempting to keep racing in some very testing conditions. Big swells play their part but it’s chiefly the big breeze that is causing the carnage. The 470 fleet also gets a look-in with some truly tired looking spinnakers by the end of that sequence.

However, the best is saved for last as a Laser gybe goes comically wrong. Naturally that unfortunate skipper is subjected to multiple repeats of the event and will no doubt never live it down!

Witness multiple capsizes, including trapeze dives, where the crew on the wire has to leap to leeward once the dinghy has heeled over past the point of no return. There’s also some great heavy weather boat handling on display as one skipper overhauls several others on a boisterous downwind leg of a race.

It’s dinghy sailing at its most extreme and most entertaining. Enjoy!


More dinghy sailing news and reviews on www.boats.com

Snipe Class Dinghy: Still Going Strong After 80 Years

Laser to Become the Kirby Torch Dinghy?


Happy snappers: Cowes Week photo competition winners

Amateur photographers, Sophie Hunt, Simon Dear and Will Ball have been selected as winners of this year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week Photography Competition. The challenge for all entrants was to capture the ‘spirit of the regatta’.

Cowes Week photo competition: shoreside winner

Winner of the Cowees Week photo competition ‘Shoreside category’ – taken by Simon Dear

The competition, now in its second year, was created as an incentive for aspiring snappers amongst those attending Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week to upload and share their photos on the event website, entering them into three different categories; Shore-side, Racing and Under 18.

Cowes Week photo competition: under 18 prize

Will Ball, winner of the under-18 prize takes a selfie up the mast of ‘Antilope’ Grand Soliel GBR 43N.

The winner of each category has been awarded with a £250 photography equipment voucher, and the winner of the ‘racing’ and ‘shore-side’ categories will be given the opportunity to shadow a professional photographer at next year’s regatta that takes place between the 8th and 15th August, 2015.

Cowes Week photo competition: best racing photo

Sophie Hunt took the prize for the best Cowes Week racing photo.

And for what it’s worth, here’s one we reckon the judges overlooked…

Cowes Week photo competition: two yachts crossing

‘I wanted to take a shot of two sailing boats crossing over. I loved the position of the sails and shape it created at the point of contact.’
Submitted by: Yasmin

More amazing sailing and watersports photography from www.boats.com

Stunning surf photography: dark side of the lens

Oracle AC72 Capsize: Amazing Photos

Sunseeker Portofino 40: a memorable debut

Hydrofoiling bicycle: who needs the wind?

Innovations in hydrofoiling are rarely far from the headlines these days as the sport of sailing has spread its wings and taken to riding above the waves instead of slamming or surfing amongst them.

But who needs the wind? It’s often absent at the vital moment… so why not let the legs do the work instead?

hydrofoiling bicycle

Racing a hydrofoil bicycle through a slalom course.

Of course the beauty of this machine is that there is zero buoyancy. Not brilliant if you get a cramp halfway across a Piranha-infested Amazonian swamp, but ever-so-convenient for carrying on your back for the rest of your hike across the wetlands.

Another potential application for the technology could be as auxilliary power for foiling dinghies and yachts. Pedals could be capable of providing the extra speed needed to fly on the foils in light breezes, just as oars once served aboard Viking ships.

For fans of human powered hydrofoils there is a website devoted to many of the known permutations called, conveniently, www.human-powered-hydrofoils.com. Here you can find a video from 1953 also on Youtube demonstrating another extremely simple but ingenious human-powered hydrofoil (see video below).


More ingenious waterbourne machines on www.boats.com

Bad boys: 5 best Bond villain boats

RC boat video: all in miniature except the speed

Jetovator set for launch Down Under