Amusing Sunsail Racing

rwoofer

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I was tucked in at King's Creek near Osborne Bay when I saw the whole fleet of Sunsail boats sailing upwind to a mark a few hundred metres downwind of us. Starting to hear starboard shouting and thought this will be interesting to watch. The shouting then got much much louder as it became clear that people where running aground at full speed.

The race officer had put the upwind mark where it was too shallow for anyone to reach!

Much embarrassment I imagine as the race had to be abandoned.
 

Debenair

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Reminds me of racing at Burnham Week in the late 90s.
Contessa 32 fleet were up immediately before us. First Saturday we were sent round a leeward mark on the edge of the Buxey sands- except it was a bit shallow.
Most of the Contessas were aground as we approached drawing a good 6" more than them. About a cable short of the buoy we started bumping along the bottom and eventually parked up about 2 boat lengths from the mark. The rest of our class sailed past, hardened up round the mark and whistled off uptide.
After about 5 minutes we bumped our way round the mark and set off in pursuit. However as highest rated boat in our class it was an uphill struggle and we finished 4 th on handicap.
I thought of protesting the race committee but they had sensibly covered their backsides by observing in the SIs that it might not always be possible to sail the rhumb line course between marks due to varying depths in the estuary.
 

dom

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Wonder iif all of the boats have been pulled out to have their keels professionally checked - as we now know they should,
 

BabySharkDooDooDooDooDoo

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Reminds me of racing at Burnham Week in the late 90s.
Contessa 32 fleet were up immediately before us. First Saturday we were sent round a leeward mark on the edge of the Buxey sands- except it was a bit shallow.
Most of the Contessas were aground as we approached drawing a good 6" more than them. About a cable short of the buoy we started bumping along the bottom and eventually parked up about 2 boat lengths from the mark. The rest of our class sailed past, hardened up round the mark and whistled off uptide.
After about 5 minutes we bumped our way round the mark and set off in pursuit. However as highest rated boat in our class it was an uphill struggle and we finished 4 th on handicap.
I thought of protesting the race committee but they had sensibly covered their backsides by observing in the SIs that it might not always be possible to sail the rhumb line course between marks due to varying depths in the estuary.

I remember when the old America's Cup 12m rocked up up for Burnham week a few years before and then promptly went aground on the horse just downstream of the start line!
 

Seajet

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Wonder iif all of the boats have been pulled out to have their keels professionally checked - as we now know they should,

Good point !

It may have been tongue in cheek, but AFAIK the bottom there is quite rocky and solid; could they be deferring any resulting snags so as to be able to blame them on subsequent charterers, getting them or their insurers to fund repairs ?
 

dom

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That is of course a possibility, but I was also thinking of the MAIB's Cheeki Rafiki report. Smack a yacht hard on the ground and out it should come for a professional check. And that is precisely what Sunsail should now do in order to give the grounded boats a clean bill of health before leasing them again.
 

lw395

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That is of course a possibility, but I was also thinking of the MAIB's Cheeki Rafiki report. Smack a yacht hard on the ground and out it should come for a professional check. And that is precisely what Sunsail should now do in order to give the grounded boats a clean bill of health before leasing them again.

At least before doing a transat.
The risks in glorified dinghy racing in the Solent are somewhat less.
 

dom

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At least before doing a transat.
The risks in glorified dinghy racing in the Solent are somewhat less.

I agree, sort of. But a race to say Chbg (if they do that) might be a different matter. Either way these boats will soon be sold; should the buyers be made aware that these boats may have suffered several, hard, fully powered up groundings?

Btw the reason I said "sort of" is that you're clearly a highly competent sailor, but what about Jo Blow who hires a boat with a few mates ...keel falls off, then what?
 

DanTribe

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I remember when the old America's Cup 12m rocked up up for Burnham week a few years before and then promptly went aground on the horse just downstream of the start line!

Crusader I think. She actually ran aground on the start line. I recall the race officer on the radio asking her to lower her mainsail because they couldn't see the line.
 

lw395

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I agree, sort of. But a race to say Chbg (if they do that) might be a different matter. Either way these boats will soon be sold; should the buyers be made aware that these boats may have suffered several, hard, fully powered up groundings?

Btw the reason I said "sort of" is that you're clearly a highly competent sailor, but what about Jo Blow who hires a boat with a few mates ...keel falls off, then what?
We need to keep a little perspective.
Thousands of boats ground in the Solent every year, very few keels fall off. This has been the way of the world for about 3 decades now.
CR's keel gave a lot of warning then fell off later in rough mid Atlantic conditions. Had it started to give problems say a few hours into a Fastnet, I doubt anyone would have got wet, let alone killed.
 

dom

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We need to keep a little perspective.
Thousands of boats ground in the Solent every year, very few keels fall off. This has been the way of the world for about 3 decades now.
CR's keel gave a lot of warning then fell off later in rough mid Atlantic conditions. Had it started to give problems say a few hours into a Fastnet, I doubt anyone would have got wet, let alone killed.

True, for example Gurnard Ledge off Cowes will no doubt have a few stories to tell. But most boats I know are lifted after a hard knock , given a once over by an engineer and typically dropped back in the water ready for the next race. In fact most race boats have engineers constantly fiddling with the foils, dropping them for transport, fairing and so on. Pretty much the same applies to motor racing.

But what we see to have here is the MAIB saying, "look guys these boats do need a proper check if you give them a smack"; the industry's response seems to be non-compliance on the basis that accidents are rare. If this malarkey continues, and if there is god forbid another terrible accident, us pleasure yachties will probably find ourselves lamped with intrusive regulation.

Slight drift, I work in finance, we as an industry fecked around with complying with good practice, and now the SEC, DoJ, FCA, Bafin, BoE, ECB, etc have us by gazoolies and charge us handsomely for the privilege!
 

Talulah

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CR's keel gave a lot of warning then fell off later in rough mid Atlantic conditions. Had it started to give problems say a few hours into a Fastnet, I doubt anyone would have got wet, let alone killed.
Except of course these boats get bought up by sailing schools and then get sailed hard.
Stormforce bought/managed several ex-Sunsail Sunfast 37's
 

Seajet

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A sailing school boat may well be sailed hard - ( and dare I say it, a touch carelessly, the ' hire car ' approach ) but any hero can trundle flat out into a rock then prefer not to report it.

Not sure what the answer is, other than the current ' if buying a fin keeler, get a good survey ' .
 

lw395

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.... In fact most race boats have engineers constantly fiddling with the foils, dropping them for transport, fairing and so on.....!

That's not what I've observed to be the norm in certain Solent OD fleets and IRC club fleets over the past 20 odd years.
I suspect it's true of the big budget dry-sailed boats.

One person's hard knock is another's modest bump.
 

sighmoon

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The race officer had put the upwind mark where it was too shallow for anyone to reach!

It raises an interesting point though - we often trust others' judgement on the depth being appropriate.

We've had a harbourmaster asking us (fin keel) to use a drying mooring and once nearly grounded trying to get round a channel marker that was way off station.
 

dom

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That's not what I've observed to be the norm in certain Solent OD fleets and IRC club fleets over the past 20 odd years.
I suspect it's true of the big budget dry-sailed boats.

One person's hard knock is another's modest bump.

Yep, when I said race boats I did actually mean race boats; no point in carrying your bed fridge and kitchen sink around the track ;) Either way the MAIB was pretty clear in its recommendations re keel fixtures and Talulah is right to point out where lots of these boats end up. The way I see it yotties as a group must either sort our own act out or someone will sort it for us!
 

lw395

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Yep, when I said race boats I did actually mean race boats; no point in carrying your bed fridge and kitchen sink around the track ;) Either way the MAIB was pretty clear in its recommendations re keel fixtures and Talulah is right to point out where lots of these boats end up. The way I see it yotties as a group must either sort our own act out or someone will sort it for us!
CR probably had a fridge and a cooker.

I think it is perhaps manufacturers and surveyors who can do most to sort this out?
 

dom

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CR probably had a fridge and a cooker.

I think it is perhaps manufacturers and surveyors who can do most to sort this out?

Exactly. CR had a similar liner to the race boats I refer to - only difference is that they are usually carbon monocoque. The existence of internal furniture considerably complicates inspection. The MAIB's comments were wide ranging (P59 & 60): https://assets.digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk/media/55408664e5274a157200005b/MAIBInvReport_8_2015.pdf

Incidents like CR and the practices to which this thread refers will effectively force the MCA to put their thinking caps on; and rules, regs and new laws are what makes these guys get up in the morning.
 

haydude

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That is of course a possibility, but I was also thinking of the MAIB's Cheeki Rafiki report. Smack a yacht hard on the ground and out it should come for a professional check. And that is precisely what Sunsail should now do in order to give the grounded boats a clean bill of health before leasing them again.

And what skipper is going to declare that they ran aground and forfeit their deposit?
 
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