Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Post race Portsmouth

It was surreal to be staying down on Gunwharf Quay. At the hotel I was staying in were also many crew including most of Brazil, as well as others such as Sir Chay Blythe.

Wandering around you'd come across Paul Cayard and his fellow Pirates deep in discussion.

Then there'd be every third person with a team jacket. Some crew, some shore team, some PR, some friends and family and some just fans. So I talked to a Pirate crewman, two Ericsson employees with stories of a wild gleam in Neal McDonald's eye and heard sad tales from the dad of a Movistar shore team.

During the day there was the question and answer session with crew from Brunel, Ericsson, Pirates and Brunel (the ABN teams were recovering from a party the previous night).

There was a lot of discussion about the future of the Volvo. The overwelming response from the sailors was support for the VO70 class. These boats might be extreme, but thats just fine by them. But they'd like more crew per boat to help do those frequent sail changes.

Should the Volvo be every 2, 3 or 4 years? The pretty Volvo girl I talked felt that three years would be a good compromise, sticking to the VO70. We deamt of a future with ten Black Betties storming round the world.....

Up close from the quay side she looked light years ahead of the others. Its not just her beamyness - its that the the widest point is at the stern, unlike the others that are broadest near their middle. The cockpit seen here is also very clean - a wide open platform to work in.

ABN1 is the boat all want to sail. Including Dee Cafari, guest of Mike Sanderson in the picture below. And no, I didn't recognise her.

All pictures (c) Captain JP

Monday, May 29, 2006

Portsmouth In-port Race Report

It was a day of blustery showers out on the Solent as the boats of the Volvo Ocean Race battled breakages and squalls for the Portsmouth In-Port Race. As the boats left Gunwharf Quay Mike Sanderson (below) looked confident. The weather forecast was in Black Betty's favour, with strong winds expected.

If you check his left hand you can also a new addition - a wedding ring. Congratulations to Mike and Emma!

Meanwhile the sun shone on Captain JP as he relaxed in the netting by the bowsprit on the gaff-topsail schooner J.R.Tolkien and admired the view ....

We had time for a quick lunch before the 1pm start.

All the boats got away cleanly, with Pirates and Brunel taking the left hand side of the course towards the island, the rest the right hand shore side. It was Pirates that was first around the windward mark and first back down - maybe because of wind shifts, because it was blustery conditions.

As they round the mark to start lap 2 it was ABN1, Pirates then Brazil. Behind there was tight battle underway between ABN2 and Ericsson. Brunel was already well behind.

Conditions worsened, with strong, gusty winds and rain squals lashing the fleet and surprisingly small spectator fleet. All round the fleet sails where being tested and boats were seen yawing under pressure. Waves were capped with white horses.

Then cries were heard - "Pirates have split their spinnaker!"

It was the break ABN1 were looking for, and they steamed passed.

Other boats too were feeling the strain as rain lashed us all out at the eastern end of the Solent by the forts.

Even though the conditions and winds eased, there proved to be nothing to stop Mike Sanderson and the boys on Black Betty, that cruised to a comfortable win.

Behind it was Pirates, then Brazil, then ABN2 - successfully holding off Ericsson (below), and finally Brunel.

It was a fun day out - which clearly showed how the in-port race has proved a welcome addition to the Volvo Ocean Race. It's just a shame more weren't out on the water to see it. But as noted before, coverage of the event in the UK is just awful.

All pictures (c) Captain JP

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

After the Storm

Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race has finished. But not all of the crew, and not all of the boats have made it safe ashore. It has been a long way and a long time since the first in-port race, back on 5th November last year.

And as the spray settles the questions get louder, asking why and how it happened, and in many cases whether it is the VO70 class that has caused all these problems.

It is worth looking at the two problems that cursed the last leg. Firstly the tragedy with Hans Horrevoets, with the events described at the press conference today here.

Lets be honest: off shore yacht racing is dangerous. Over the RORC season last year there were at least 3 cases of man overboard, two during night time. In all cases the crew member was recovered without serious harm. Yes we should clip on at all times as Paul Cayard says. But we have all taken risks, if only simply being unclipped for an instant when moving positions with a single harness.

When the wind rises from 12 to 25 knots or higher in moments, and when its dark, too dark to see the waves coming (as was the case), then these risks become visible, what ever boat you are sailing in.

In the current climate there is a temptation to look for someone or something to blame for everything. But sometimes it is just an accident. In this case Hans's loss was a accident, and a tragic one.

As to movistar, again we can ask where the problem lay. If it was the VO70 design all the boats would have been falling apart - but it was just the Farr boats that failed. As posted earlier, Farr Yacht Design accepted they are learning about the flows around keel boxes and the pressures involved.

At the same time the movistar team raised concerns about whether their shore crew was up to repairing and fixing the problems that arose so many times. And there's nothing for showing up sloppy fixes like wind speeds of 50-60 knots and wave heights up to 10 metres, as Matt Humphries on Brunel reported in the final storm.

Its worth listening to what the skippers and crew said in the interviews available on the Volvo web site. While mostly sombre in tone, there wasn't any voice blaming VO70. Maybe they are saving that for private, but there were definitely voices supporting the class.

Voices coming even from movistar - such as Chris Nicholson, saying yes he'd sail again on a VO70 "absolutely yes for sure". What was interesting is that he was most emphatic when discussing sailing on ABN2, which he described as a very different sail. He'd be back "in a heatbeat". It was he concluded "a good rule": they just needed more time.

So will the VO70 continue? There are definitely sailors who'd sail them, especially those that like going fast, that enjoy the adreneline rush of being on a 70 foot yacht going 35 knots, sometimes fully airbourne.

The question remains will the sponsors support it? Is the exposure positive, and does it represent value? That is a harder question, and again it is only with time that we will know.

Today all we know is the fleet is in morning for the sailor cut down by the cruel seas.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Farewell to Movistar

As ABN2 sails away from the abandoned Movistar let's remember her in happier days - here sailing in the Fastnet 2005.

And remember that many of the boats that were abandoned in the 1979 Fastnet were later recovered.

Pictures from Virtual Spectator and Captain JP

Movistar Abandoned

No one will forget Leg 7 of this Volvo Ocean Race. Already reeling from the death of Hans Horrevoets the fleet are having to come to terms with the abandonment of Movistar.

Its worth remembering the debate the crew had after their near sinking in the southern ocean. As reported here, o
ne crewman asked what could be said to their kids if the boat sinks and they don't come back. Another said he had "zero faith in the boat and the people fixing it right now".

As the figure above shows, the forecast for the western approaches (from here) is for force 10 storms, the type that ripped the Fastnet fleet apart in the 1979 race as described in this great book. Understandable the crew of Movistar took the safe option of transferring to another boat, and the nearest was the already bereft ABN2.

Their sister ship ABN1, called Black Betty in happier days, is already in Portsmouth. Mike Sanderson now knows he has won this Volvo Ocean Race.

But no one is celebrating today.

Figure from

Crossing the Atlantic

When sailing across an ocean there are two things you can't do. You can't get off and you can't stop.

So the grim mood on the boats of the Volvo Ocean Race after the tragic news from ABN2 must be matched by the grit to keep going. Since then ABN1 has battled through storm force winds and waves to reach the finish line before the runner up is even at the Land's End.

And yes, Ericsson has held off Pirates to get those 3.5 points as she claims second to the scoring gate. But its a long way from there to the Solent and both boats have either British born navigators or skippers who will be drawing on their experience and knowledge of the tides as they head up the channel.

And there has been no let up on the drama with Movistar suffering another critical keel breakdown, forcing them to drop sails, put on emergency suits and get the pumps going.

All this drama, but alas having to miss it all as Captain JP has crossed an ocean in more comfort than the Volvo fleets and is currently in the land of the free (or semi-free for those that have been following the debate on Playgoer about the Rachel Corrie play).

Apart from the on-board entertainment's 50 movies on demand, what was remarkable about the flight over were the icebergs. Looking out of the window between Greenland and Newfoundland the channel was swarming with 'bergs - I counted over a hundred - many more than seen before.

Maybe it's appropriate to ponder on global warming at 36,000 feet on an Airbus poring out CO2. But we are changing our planet, and while we have been shocked by the death of one crewman on ABN2, estimates of the deaths from global warming are in the millions.

Picture from NASA

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Cruel Sea

There is terrible news today from ABN2. Crew member Hans Horrevoets was swept overboard into the cold Atlantic in 30 knot winds and 5 metre seas. Immediately the boat went into man overboard mode, dropping sails and turning round. While they successfully recovered him they were unable to resuscitate despite advice from Plymouth Hospital.

Hans was an experienced professional sailor, who had been on Brunel Sunergy in the 1997-1998 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. He was the oldest crew member on ABN AMRO TWO and the only one who has a partner and a kid; an 11-month old daughter.

We know offshore sailing is dangerous and accept the risks. Han's Q&A before the race on the ABN site is especially p

But no knowledge or preparation can help against tragic news like this that wrenches one's gut. Our thoughts are with his family and his crewmates in this difficult time.

Picture from

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dee's Homecoming

Within the next 12 hours Dee Caffari should cross the finish line to complete her mammouth sail around the world "the wrong way". Having pounded her way against prevailing winds and currents for 180 days she is just hours from completing her task and entering the history books.

Her trusty Challenge 72 might have been slow but its been sure, the steel hull providing sold security when bashing head first against the storms of the southern ocean. For while lighter boats would have been quicker there would have been much greater risk of failure due to breakages.

On her second circumnavigation she has encountered icebergs and giant waves, but also dolphins and amazing skies, shown below with more to be found here.

No doubt we will hear much more about Dee not just in this weekends media blitz, but in the years to come on other boats on other races.

Pictures from

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Downhill all the way

Even the wind gods are currently favouring Mike Sanderson and the boys on Black Betty out at the front on Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race. The forecasts coming in suggest a downhill run all the way Portsmouth, making Moose's estimate of arriving Saturday a real possibility, screeching down through the Needles channel.

And if they can make it lunch time would be an excellent time to hit that particular spot, as he'd have the tide with him at 12:00 hrs UT - for even powered up Volvo 70's must notice flows of up to 4 knots on the nose.

The figures below show the forecasts at 24 hour intervals between tomorrow and Saturday, and overlaid is the approximate great circle path between ABN1's current position and Land's End. And all along the route the winds are in the right direction and there's only a few patches of lighter airs.

As expected Movistar's diversion north has not yielded appreciable benefits (an understatement - they are now 250 miles behind), and the rest of the Farrs are hanging on to keep in touch with the leader - and hopefully Ericsson will keep up their current good form till the finish line.

In the mean time it's again the rich get richer, and the road is wide open for Moose to Portsmouth with the Volvo crown easily in his grasp.

If only they don't hit any more whales or prang the much vaunted keel.

Wed 12Z:
Thursday 12Z
Friday 12Z:
Saturday 12Z:
Figures from

Monday, May 15, 2006

Dee and the Alien

The tension is mounting as Dee gets ever closer to the finishing line of her epic sail around the world the wrong way. During the past 180 days she has had to fight iceburgs, 60 knot winds, and the sort of loneliness that brings thoughts of suicide, rattling around inside a 72 foot boat designed for 18.

And now it seems even aliens, for she has been boarded by strange creatures like the one photographed above, creatures of a sort she has never seen before. Are they sent from the planet E'ln Ma-ca-thi to observe this new rival? Is the 40 tonne steel hull of the Challenge boat being checked out for strength for some interplanetary mission?

Time will tell.

Picture from Aviva Challenge

The Shipping News

While the rest of the boats of the Volvo Ocean Race steam east to tuck under the mid-Atlantic low, movistar is heading a more northerly route, sometimes even with a bit of westerly in it as they hunt the wind.

So what is Bouwe Bekking thinking? Is he a fan of E.Annie Proulx's book "The Shipping News" and has a yearning for Newfoundland, wishing, like the reviewer of that book in The Times, that he could sit in "The Flying Squid Lunchstop, eating Seal Fin curry, watching the icrebergs clink together in the bay"?

According to the Volvo site, its all about tactics, to take the hit now to get into stronger northerlies than the rest of the pack. Can't see it myself, unless the forecasts at stormsurf are horribly wrong - check them out here.

If the forecasts are right then the distance to Moose on Black Betty will soon become even more than the current 110 miles.

But if Movistar's calls look bad, its good to see another's that have been right. Ericsson is finally showing its potential and is currently in the second spot. But they've been there before, and peaked too early. I hope this time they can keep it up so we have a British skipper lead the Farrs past the Needles and into Portsmouth habour.

Graphic from Virtual Spectator

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ignore the Numbers

According to the current standings Brasil has crept into the lead. But don't believe a word of it, as its another of those cases where the shortest distance is not the quickest route. So the great circle used to calculate distance to finish and hence positions is more misleading than helpful.

For the boats of the Volvo Ocean Race are on port tacking heading east to avoid the low that dominates the north Atlantic, not on the great circle path that is nearly north. So ABN1 still heads the pack even if it is officially fifth.

But when was the right time to tack? Each of the boats has made a slightly different choice and it will be interesting to see who gains and falls behind.

So far it seems to be a case of to the winner the spoils, with ABN1 at the real front enjoying stronger 15 knots wind than Movistar still playing catch up in 10 knots. So its good news again for Mike Sanderson and the crew of Black Betty as they bring their victory ever closer. And good news also for Pirates as they fortify their hold on second.

Graphic from Virtual Spectator

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Racing the Volvo

Dee Cafari is only 829 miles from a triumphal return from her single handed sail the wrong way around the world. But she is just making around 200 miles per day so while the Volvo fleet is a much greater 2620 miles out if she is not careful it will end up as a race to the bar for the two events.

The good news is with not one but two major sailing events on the south coast over the next few weeks UK TV will finally give some coverage for the sport that we Brits are secretly quite good at.

Its just as well its happening this month, for in June its the Football World Cup, and anything not involving a ball wouldn't have a hope in hell of being reported.

Volvo's Coming Home

Out in the Atlantic the boats of the Volvo Ocean Race are racing towards old blighty and the port where the race began, back when it was known as the Whitbread.

Much has changed since the days when yachts would disappear into the wide ocean with contact lost for weeks on end - not least the civilised glass of wine with the evening meal.

Now the crew are racing in high powered super yachts that can fly at 40 knots, notching up 500 miles in every 24 hours, making this 3,000 mile leg 7 potentially a seven day sprint.

The direct great circle course above can be seen to arc high past Newfoundland, and the VOR organisers had the option of putting in an ice gate. However they have not (yet) done so, as the weather routing suggest the boats will break to the east at a much lower latitude.

The figure below shows the forecast for 24 hours out. A big low sits square across the fleet's path, and all of those who don't want another upwind battle after the Leg 6 pounding (i.e. all) will be ducking below.

After that is the well trod path up the Channel when navigation becomes as much about tides as wind, till finally Portsmouth, original home of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Figure from

Friday, May 12, 2006

Office Escapism

It was another dreary Friday afternoon in the office today when the email arrived.

"Nordic Challenge Reduced" it said, temptation coming from Challenge Business to try to lure workers away from the un-air-conditioned heat of offices full of PCs for a reduced price voyage amongst the glaciers and fjords.

It would be fun - heading down to Ocean Village to get on one of the splendidly robust Challenge 72s, to follow the North Star across the North Sea to Norway before heading into the Arctic Circle and Bodo.

Alas for now Captain JP can only dream, but for those not tied by the strings of work more info can be found here.

Picture from Challenge Business

VS Update

For all you armchair navigators out there that follow the Volvo Ocean Race there's a new update to the Virtual Spectator software thats worth downloading. It seems to have a fixed a number of bugs and now even shows isobars correctly on my laptop. There's also a resume option so you can see whats happened since last time you ran VS.

And of course it still makes lovely pictures like the attached, which Tillerman should like!

Graphic from Virtual Spectator

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Time Flies

Are they off already? Before we've all had time to digest the leg to New York all the boats of the Volvo Ocean Race have crossed the start line heading east. Even Movistar that had to wait another 2 hours in New York (sorry, can't get that sorry for them, lovely city) is now playing catch up on what is the last ocean crossing of this race.

Is it me or are you amazed too that we are mid-way through May already?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Victory for Pirates!

Ok, it was only first amongst the Farr boats. But when as yesterday the wind is enough for Black Betty to lift up her skirts, that is becoming all that the fair weather Farrs can hope for. And for Paul Cayard and crew the real battle is with accident prone Movistar for second place.

This time it was Movistar's winch system - as Bouwe Bekking put it: “The second gybe in Annapolis the bevel box (which links the pedestal grinders to the drums) exploded so we were top handling (winding the winches with a single handle in the top of the winch) for the rest of the leg. Whatever you do, hoisting a sail or tacking, it was a nightmare”.

For a boat that has been as long on the water as Movistar the number of serious breakages is indeed surprising.

It must have felt good on the Pirates boat to get second place not only on this leg but on the overall standings - and in sight of of the Statue of Liberty. And that's not such an unlikely pairing, for in the goldern age of piracy, ships were managed very much as democracies, where captains were voted in and out of power, and people of all colours, races, and creeds were welcome. Liberty for all - as long, of course, as they had no quarms about slitting the odd throat and plundering the odd ship!

I wonder how a Volvo captain would fare under that form of leadership?

Picture from

Monday, May 08, 2006

Battling to Windward

Dee Cafari is pushing past the Canary Islands heading to the North East to complete her single handed sail the "wrong way" around the world, against the prevailing winds and tides.

She's not the only one. Currently the Volvo fleet are getting the global challenge affect as they battle 20 knots of wind on the nose as they too sail north east, in their case towards New York.

The brisk conditions as in the forecast for 0Z hours tonight above have as expected seen ABN1 push pass the lighter wind favouring Farrs to open up an eleven mile lead with 143 to go.

Its going to be one bumpy night, and I doubt many will get much if any sleep.

Figure from

Drama as Clipper reaches Victoria

While the boats of the Clipper fleet have been arriving in Victoria, Canada in ones and twos, there is one boat still at sea. Last week Jersey broached then crash gybed in 40 knots causing serious injuries to crew member Hugh Gregory, who was airlifted by the USCG (who also took this picture).

The podium places went to Victoria, Durban and Liverpool, which means the current overall leader Western Australia has a real battle for first place on its hand. Unlike, of course, the Volvo Ocean Race.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

If you can make it there you can make it anywhere

Yup, the Volvo Ocean Race is heading for the big apple, the city so good they named it twice, New York and then again, New York.

Ands it's the American entry, Pirates, that is currently leading the pack, with ABN1 for once languishing at the rear.

Because for now it's Farr weather out there, but the light winds will be replaced overnight by a good 20 knot blow that the beamy dutch boats will like, making this a sprint of a leg one that will go to the wire. The figure above shows the forecast for Monday morning (east coast time) when the fleet should be half way there. More can be found here.

While ABN1 can survive one or two bad positions, the fight between Paul Cayard's boat and equally determined Movistar will be one worth watching, all the way till the fleet is in the protective gaze of the Statue of Liberty.

Graphic from

Highbury Heaven

Ok its nothing to do with sailing, but got to pay tribute to the last ever game played in Arsenal's legendary Highbury Stadium. And what a way to go, with Henry scoring a hat-trick to win the gunners the fourth place in the Premiership, opening up Europe yet again.

Fingers crossed that the team can repeat the magic in Paris on May 17th and bring the European Cup to their new home!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Brand new

For those that missed it, great story last week about how a brand new yacht hit the rocks just off Poole.

The brand new 250,000 pound Beneteau Oceanis 473 was on it maiden voyage, and on the return journey from the picturesque Lulworth Cove the skipper popped below to check the satellite navigation system, leaving his girl friend at the wheel.

Alas maybe more familiar with a tiller than a wheel within minutes she'd driven the luxury boat on the rocks, forcing the couple to fight for their lives in the pounding surf.

The good news is they were both rescued.

Alas it shows the sat nav does not necessarily avoid that crunchy sound when rock hits hull.

Children's Sailing Books

This previous post was about the children's book that first introduced us when kids to the world of sailing, including the wonderful Swallows and Amazons.

In a wave of nostalgia I rummaged through my bookshelves to find other examples and now have a fine pile of fifteen or so piled on the desk in front of me without including any from Arthur Ransome.

It's noticeable how so few are recent publications and how many were published not just before World War 2 but before World War 1 if not the 19th Century.

The first of all is of course Robinson Crusoe. Possibly the first novel in the English language its also a great story about sailing and shipwreck, and a classic for children.

It works on so many levels - as a description of sailing from the late 17th Century, of survival against the odds, of psychology, of resourcefulness, of farming, and must else besides. The story of a man alone against nature grips the imagination and transcends time.

And it's based upon at least two true stories. Firstly the marooning of Selkirk on the Juan Fernandez Islands (Captain JP's alleged ancestor William Dampier was a captain on the expedition that left him there and pilot on the one that rescued him). This was written about by both Dampier and Roger Woodes in their wonderful books, the travel best sellers of their days. The writings of both men would have been well known to Defoe.

The other less known story is that of the runaway slave Pitman who was marooned by pirates upon Salt Tortuga. Less known, but known to Defoe, whose publisher was in later years Pitman's landlord.

As for the other fourteen, they must wait for another day......

Hello Everyone

Over at the Proper Course Tillerman raised some questions about what makes a good sailing blog and an interesting post. If you check out some of the many links on his site you'll see that sailing blogging can take many forms, that reflect the range of reasons for blogging.

For some a blog is a diary, a personal record of their lives. For some its a forum to chat, particularly multiply owned blogs. For others its a space to let off steam, while for others its to write op-ed pieces, while for others its to publish their latest story or photograph. Blogs are entering the mainstream, as discussed on the BBC site here.

Given we're not being paid for writing this, the most important thing is the topic interests us enough to spend our time on it. But that might not interest everyone else. Maybe what we need is more blogs with multiple posters which makes it more likely that readers find something of interest. Any takers?

This blog has focussed a lot on races such as the Volvo Ocean Race not just because something happens reasonably often (so there's something to write about) but its of interest to me and hopefully its of interest to others.

But of course we all like the fun topics with humour that are easy to read - unlike the last post which might have been a bit obtuse a topic for many readers.

Writing of personal experience on the water, cock-ups and all, can bring immediacy. But living in London means I only get the chance to sail the odd weekend so only writing about days on the water would make for very irregular posts.

So to all of you out there, blobs on the blogger's map above, hello and thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Volvo Secrets

Computer simulations like Virtual Spectator and Google Earth have transformed how we follow offshore yacht racing. They can give the armchair sailor the ability to be transported out of the mundane world to join the fleet in the remotest parts of the world, to turn the kitchen table into that of a navigator.

Virtual Spectator up the stakes with not just graphics that give the ability to rewind and replay the crucial stages, but with layers of information that can be overlaid. Showing the isobars and wind direction helps understand the tactical decisions and explain why one boat flies ahead while another hits the buffers.

But it can do more, with access to the telemetry data that would be displayed to the helmsman as he races at over 30 knots through ice cold seas. Data such as boat speed and heading and similar stats for the wind.

That could give a potentially fascinating insight into each of the boats and how the teams have optimised for various conditions. By collecting the stats over each leg you could show radial plots of boat speed against true wind angle, and then compare these against boats by wind strength, by leg, by port vs starboard, by start vs end leg.... the opportunities for number crunchers are immense. And the opportunities for blog writers would be brilliant too.

A quick look at the Virtual Spectator installation showed a whole set of directories, one for each leg, each filled with files called something like "TEL_LEG04_00001.vsd". While the extension of ".VSD" is used by the Visio program, that program refused to open them, calling their file format invalid.

So JP approached Virtual Spectator on their forums here to ask if they could say what file format they were using. As you will see their response is clear - they are under contract with the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) and so are unable to release the data (even if they didn't have issues about protecting the IPR of their file format). They helpfully suggested I contact the VOR directly.

However the response from the VOR transferred the responsibility on, saying "the positioning data which we release to VS is not permitted to be released to the public due to contractual agreements with partners and the teams".

But why would the teams not want the information made public? Well the obvious answer is production of radials might be considered giving away too much of their design secrets, or at least reduce the value of their IPR.

I think that is wrong for two reasons. Firstly that information is already in the public domain as anyone can read it off the VS display. Of course that might take some time as it took me to get the numbers behind this post. But with the motivation and cheap labour or automation the numbers can be extracted.

As the VS forum moderator pointed out, this argument can not entirely be used to avoid the IPR of VOR. When playing a DVD all the bits are on public display, but that doesn't mean each bit is then open to being copied. But there is the concept of "fair use" where by limited copying is permitted - like photocopying a few pages but not a whole book.

So with a DVD - say of the TV series Lost - you can post comments about things you saw in the background if you think it a useful clue to the convoluted and mysterious plot without breaching copyright. Similarly you could argue that to use limited extracts from the data from VS program is acceptable under fair use - as I would argue if anyone complained about the post mentioned.

The second reason for making the data public is related to what is the purpose of the Volvo Ocean Race - in particular for those that actually pay for it. For Volvo, ABN AMRO, Movistar, Ericsson and the likes the purpose is publicity, brand recognition, good PR, corporate branding, moral boosting, CEO ego massaging, you name it. To sail around the world is just the means.

So there is a difference between DVD data and VS data. In the former the IPR owner is trying to make a return on their investment and copying the data will directly loose them revenue. In the latter the IPR owner is trying to get as much publicity as possible and releasing the data into the public domain will not cost them. Rather the increased publicity should help achieve their objectives.

The only counter argument is the boat designer companies might not want that. But remember their role is one of supplier: critical ones maybe, but they are not paying the bills, indeed they are the ones making the money.

And as pointed above, if anyone wanted to get the data out of VS they could. If there was real value in it (and I'm dubious given the lack of control on the measurements) one of their competitors will have done it. And we kind-of know the answer anyhow - ABN1 wins when reaching in winds over 10 knots and stops in less.

So less secrets and more openness VOR and release the telemetry data to the public. Let the bytes sail free.

Image from Virtual Spectator

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Crowded Waters

Are you fed up with fighting your way through the ever more crowded waters?

Do you find yourself comparing the Solent to the M25?

Are those pesky jetskis driving you mad as they swarm like a cloud of hungry scottish midges?

Fear not, for a solution is at hand and can be found here.

Thanks to Tillerman for that tip!

Volvo In The Drink

There are those that say the whole point of the Volvo is to keep the armchair sailor occupied during those long hours when we're stuck in the office doing what we misleadingly call "work". There's nothing like going for a spin around the southern Pacific with Virtual Spectator or doing the rounds of sailing sites and blogs to make the first and last hours go that little bit quicker.

And those helpful people at the Volvo Ocean Race web site understand this and have struck a blow for lower productivity with the launch of a new game - "In the drink" to be found here.

The only relief I can see for our company's productivity is that Captain JP is, to be frank, pretty crap at it and about 2,000 points behind current top scorer Jeroen on 2390!

Ps - is that high scorer any relation to an ex fellow shipmate the "Crazy Dutchman" by any chance?

Graphic from Volvo Ocean Race