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…


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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

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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.


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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!


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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

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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, Here you can find a video from 1953 also on Youtube demonstrating another extremely simple but ingenious human-powered hydrofoil (see video below).


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Extreme offshore sailing: what’s not to love?

Ocean racing (for owners) has been likened to standing in a cold shower tearing up large-denomination cash notes of the currency of your choice. And in every clip shown in the compilation below, it’s really not hard to see how that description came into being.

Extreme offshore sailing video

Flying off ocean waves at double-digit speeds… what’s not to love?

But of course that description makes it sound like there’s no fun involved at all, when as the clip demonstrates, the fun is never-ending… as long as doing double-figure speeds down into the trough of an ocean swell is your idea of fun!

And who wouldn’t love it? Well, insurance companies, for one – they hate extreme offshore sailing for some reason. Also, those who suffer from motion sickness, agoraphobia, claustrophobia; anyone who doesn’t like having latex neck and wrist seals on for days at a time; anyone with a fear of flying, since most of the boats in these clips seem to spend a quite a lot of their time out of the water preparing for a hard landing on the next wave. Anyone with back problems, heart problems, delicate skin, intolerance for extremes of temperature, who needs a varied diet and regular sleep… Anyone attached to notions of routine, order, privacy, cleanliness or health and safety also need not apply.

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Surfing pig Kama loves the waves

A surfing pig? Have you ever heard of such a thing! Nope we hadn’t either (but we only recently realised that there are so many surfing dogs that there are actually special competitions organised for them!). We enjoy a good, fun novelty video here at and this one is a cracker.

This surf-loving pig, named Kama, was filmed with his owner Kai Holt on Sandy Beach, Oahu where he joined the locals for a surf session with a Go-Pro to film the fun.

“He came into our lives at maybe a week old. He is the cutest thing ever,” says proud owner, Kai. “He fell into the pool one day and just started swimming. He followed me into the water, jumped on the board, paddled out and got his first wave. Everyone was tripping!

“It’s pretty funny to watch – like he knows what he’s doing!”

And his technique? Kai explains: “His hooves just lock right in on the board – if you look at his board you can see all the hoof prints!”

What’s his favourite surfing spot? “All he knows is he likes it big: three to four!”

surfing pig

Kama the surfing pig.

Fresh to frightening: sailing on the edge

Ferries running over skiffs, Il Mostro Puma wipeout at over 30 knots, Extreme 40 capsizes, Ocean racers, helicopter rescues… It’s all here in this action packed video of sailing scenes when the conditions are fresh to frightening, from

Fresh to frightening video

Fresh to frightening sailing footage.

The compilation of clips includes an 18ft skiff out-running the chase rib at over 25 knots practically foiling on its rudder and centreboard alone.

Some of the episodes are home-video or handheld quality and the strength of the wind combined with the speed of travel and the size of the waves might make you seasick just watching it.

However, many of the clips include commentary, which indicates that the footage has been, or was intended to be, broadcast. One commentator observes: “If it was any windier than this it really would blow the toppings off your pizza.”

The brave and daring helicopter rescue teams get their due as the crew of a broken ocean racer get retrieved safely from the sea. At times like these, the debate can rage on the marine forums over whether skippers are being daring or irresponsible; whether it’s right for ordinary tax payers to fund the rescues of those at sea deliberately pushing their equipment to the limit in search of extra speed with no thought for the consequences.

But more often than not, it’s the crew that gives in rather than the boat – as the first 18ft skiff clip shows. When conditions are fresh to frightening and the boat’s built to last, it’s important to remember that we’re only human, after all…

#Gillmostwanted: Cowes Week selfie competition

Gill Marine has launched a social media campaign and competition to support Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week 2014. During the week, the ‘Gill man’, dressed in full sailing gear including a distinctive sailing hood that disguises his face, will be amongst the crew and spectators in and around the Yacht Haven.


#Gillmostwanted : Cowes week 2014 – take a selfie with #Gillmostwanted man in full waterproofs and upload it to enter competition.

For a chance to win the Ocean Racer jacket and trousers he is wearing, worth up to £800, when you spot the Gill man, don’t just stand and stare. Go up to him and take a selfie with him. Then post that selfie on lnstagram or Twitter using the hashtag #gillmostwanted to be entered into the draw to win.

For anyone not at the event, follow Gill’s Facebook updates from the event 2-9 August and try to spot ‘Gill man’ in event photos that are posted each day. To enter the draw, just identify where he is in the comments box of the photo.


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Fareast 18 review: Speedy day-sailer

Founded 12 years ago and now based in Jiangsu Province, China, Fareast is a manufacturer of sailing craft ranging in size from small Optimist dinghies to 36-foot sailing catamarans, writes Martin-Sebastian Kreplin.

Fareast 18 under sail

The Fareast 18 is a capable cruiser-racer built in Jiangsu Province, China.

The Fareast 18 is a Simonis/Voogd design with conservative good looks, a retractable keel with ballast bulb, enclosed cabin, and a powerful rig. The design is narrow, with a closed stern, which is rare on sailboats this size, as is an enclosed cabin. There’s nearly 22 square metres of sail area between the main and jib. Add in the almost 28 square-metre gennaker (there’s a retractable bowsprit, too) and you’re talking serious sail power for an 18-footer.

We [the Germany test team] sailed the boat on Flensburg Fjord and discovered that it’s delectable to sail. Leaving the marina, it felt like a super-sized dinghy with a lively helm. There’s beautiful North Sail canvas that catches every breath of the breeze. The boat converts those breaths into speed without much intervention by the crew, which made it hard for us to turn the helm over to other crew members. In four knots of breeze upwind, the Fareast 18 managed 3.8 knots, tacking through about 90 degrees. As is usual on small boats, the motion through the water felt faster than it really was and Ann Kristin, who normally sails a 49er FX, was enthusiastic about the performance: “You really don’t need more boat,” she said.


Dinghy sailor’s delight

Fareast 18 - plan views

Interior, deck, and landscape views of the Fareast 18 reveal a sporty racer-cruiser.

Even though the wind was very light during the test, the boat felt so agile, and accelerated so nimbly, that it’s safe to expect little change in the level of fun when the breeze is up. Above 15 knots of true wind speed, the Fareast 18 should exceed hull speed on a reach, planing along at 10 to 12 knots without problems. That’s nice for dinghy sailors who might have a tough time getting used to the often ponderous feeling of small cruising boats. These sailors also know to appreciate the Fareast’s deck hardware consisting of quality products from Seldén and Harken. The only shortcoming on the test boat was the diameter of the mainsheet, which was too small. The line easily handles the load, but requires gloves to be gripped and held with any measure of comfort.

On deck it all seems to be fine for novices and those with experience of smaller classes. But what kind of interior can be realistically expected for less than £15,000? Despite the sizable cabin, the moulded liner feels as if it needs some bunk cushions, and indeed, you can check them on the options list. Some moulded cubbies and two seat lockers in the cockpit swallow the necessities; the rest is up to your creativity. Types like Ann Kristin are absolutely happy with this kind of fit-out, while others might want to add canvas lockers and maybe a portable pantry for added comfort.

Fareast 18 - performance, accommodation, build quality

The German team liked the Fareast 18′s performance, accommodations, and build quality.

With the proper gear, this little keelboat has enough space for two to survive a two-week trip. The headroom of 1.2m (4ft) under the companionway hatch is sufficient to don your waterproofs. The sitting headroom of 91cm (3ft) in the forepeak is reasonably comfortable. Ditto with the size of the berth: 2.3m by 1.4m (92in x 55in) offers more than enough space. What’s missing is a foredeck hatch or a secondary opening for venting the interior. The rounded and forward-reaching cabin trunk makes it difficult to retrofit an aftermarket product, which is irksome. The cabin is completely sealed off aft and parts of the interior are used for buoyancy, hence there is no access.

Nevertheless, there is enough total stowage volume to load down this boat and ruin its stellar sailing performance, so consider going without additional lockers and compartments, which will only tempt you to burden the boat with household kit. The lifting keel can be cranked up for the road with a small crane that is inserted laterally, but it’s not a solution for daily use. In venues where the slender T-shaped keel might cause problems (i.e. by snagging kelp), a more sensible choice might be the traditionally shaped fixed keel, which also has a 1.2m (4ft) draught.

Every component in the Fareast 18 is produced with vacuum-infusion technology, including the hull, deck, rudder blade, and keel fin. The ballast bulb is lead, the curved tiller is made of carbon fiber, and the core material for the hull and deck sandwich is PVC foam. Everything is finished in near-industrial quality, which goes to show the advances that have been made by the yard. A few years ago, some interior components of the Fareast 26 could be categorized as below average. Today, not one manufacturing detail on the Fareast 18 was cause for alarm. Especially well done is the hull-to-deck joint.

While the Fareast 18 has its limitations (though not many), we found it to be very capable, well thought out, and extremely well built – all qualities you might not have expected from a Chinese yard a decade ago.


Fareast 18 Review: Specifications

LOA: 5.61m

Beam: 2.20m

Draught: 1.20m

Displacement: 650kg

Sail area main: 13.10 sq m

Sail area jib: 8.80 sq m

View Fareast listings on


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