Posts Tagged ‘water ballast’

Sailing without a keel

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Normally I would say that sailing without a keel is impossible but recent events have proved me wrong. Marc Guillemont (Safran) finished the Vendee Globe on 16 February, having sailed the last 1,000 miles without a keel. He used Safran’s water ballast to counterbalance her mast and kept the yacht well reefed down.

Marc had been given 82 hours of redress for the assistance he rendered to Yann Elies (Generali) earlier in the race. When the redress was applied, he beat Sam Davies (Roxy) who had finished on 14 February by just 79 minutes! On his blog, Captain JP claimed the margin was just 0.06% of the total time taken.

So there was a close finish, after all. And yachts can sail without keels!

Sailing highpoints of 2008

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Did you go sailing as much as you’d like to in 2008? If not, what changes can you make to allow more time aboard this year?

Here are some our highpoints in 2008:


What we lacked in quantity we certainly made up for in quality. The highlight of our year was the week that we spent in the South West Wilderness, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

To ensure a successful voyage and arrival at Port Davey in daylight, the first leg was from Hobart to Southport. A six o’clock start meant that we arrived well before dark but the lack of wind meant motor sailing nearly all the way.

The beauty of the place, its remoteness and the brute force of a two-day storm at the end of our stay gave us a welcome break from suburbia. Flying out in a six-seater on the tail of that storm was the final excitement! Film from this visit is included in The Joys of Sailing, a DVD that you receive free when you purchase The Boating Bible Manual of Seamanship.


Like many other armchair sportsmen and women, we watched what we could of the Olympic sailing events.

In the final of the 49ers, Australia had a good chance of winning. However, they left their spinnaker up too long and ended up in the drink. Given the wind and sea conditions, perhaps they should have sailed the final leg with their headsail for greater stability.


We’ve already blogged about the Sydney-Hobart, but it’s worth repeating here. This blue water classic has been turned into a race for motor boats, to the detriment of our sport. Yachts with canting keels and water ballast keep their motors running 24 hours a day. This is not in the spirit of sailing and we were glad that the overall handicap winner, Quest, is not one of their number.

Most sailors have little interest in which speedster is first to Hobart, knowing that far greater skill is involved in achieving a handicap win. See our blog post.

Your sailing highlights

If you’d like to share highlights of your sailing year, please do so by posting a comment below.