Alan Paris Rates Class Two
Derek Hatfield in Cape Town©Roy Riley/Marinepics
Around Alone - Leg Two
When most of the fleet is in port, it's hard to find compelling stories to write about, so I thank Alan Paris for sending this long and very interesting email. I agree with his assessment of Class 2.
Well the train that is the Around Alone has almost all arrived at the Cape Town station and if you compare our boats to box cars on the train, then I am surely in the Caboose. (except for Tiscali that was derailed twice in the Biscay, but now back on the track ).
After 68 racing days at sea, this includes 23 from leg one, I believe I have had ample time and am qualified to analyze the performance of myself and my yacht BTC Velocity as we compare with the rest of Class II. That's what we all do every day after each POLL, by asking the questions " why am I faster, why am I slower than ... " There have been occasions when all of us have been in similar weather systems, SE Trades for example, times when we have all fought light and shifty, the Force 8 gale during night one of Leg II in the English Channel, medium down wind running and light upwind. So for fear of contradiction and there may be some, I am going to list and rank in order Class II performances to date.
No. 1 seed
Brad Van Liew, Open 50, Tommy Hilfiger, Freedom America: This one is simple, tough, intelligent, experienced sailor, on a beautifully prepared and arguably the fastest by far yacht in Class II. However, fast yachts don't always come first and Brad has done an exemplary job of avoiding the weather obstacles and kept his boat together during times of minor breakage's ( halyards, reefing lines ) that could and do get worse without proper attention and have been known to scuttle the best of campaigns. Only weakness, under 8 knots when SOC and BTC are marginally faster.
No. 2 seed
Tim Kent, Open 50, Everest Horizontal: Amazing. Underdog ?? perhaps. An underfunded campaign, to say the least, on a solid yet slightly undercanvassed ( main a little small ) yet fast design with old sails. Tim has fought a never ending list of problems, yet maintains his spirits while zig zagging across the race course in what can only be described as mostly winning moves. Tim has had limited solo experience, not anymore, and an awful time with 'Hal' his recalcitrant autopilot, but again after being only hours out of 2nd place in leg one, has scored a solid 2nd in Leg II. Excellent. EH is a bullet above 15 knots, on the pace in 10 - 15 knots and as was seen in this leg subject to the constant pressure of SOC in air under 10 when he is slower than BTC and also perhaps Bayer Ascensia.
No. 3 seed
Derek Hatfield, Open 40, Spirit of Canada: Watch out everyone, Derek is a rock and constantly sails his 40 footer at or above 110 %. He built his boat over a period of 3 years, is a skilled racing as well as solo sailor and continues to perform to the highest standards. (somebody buy this guy a 60 footer ) Solid 2nd in Leg I and always in the hunt for a 2nd place in Leg II, yet tied for 2nd overall with EH after two legs. Although non sponsored in a ' title ' fashion his yacht is meticulously prepared, he is very focused and makes almost zero tactical errors. He and EH will continue to fight it out for the remainder of the race, and I predict soon to be joined in the fight for 2nd by Kojiro on SOY in the next leg.
No. 4 seed
Kojiro Shiraishi, Open 40, SOY: Experienced for sure, a true character with an obvious level of strength and perseverance. Has missed a couple of critical weather decisions in both Leg I and II ( I can relate, I joined him on the Grand Banks for our first mistake ) His yacht is very fast in certain conditions, particularly medium plus air 15kts and above, either downwind, reaching or upwind. SOY sails a little heavier than designed and therefore has been a little off the pace in light airs. Let us not forget the solid 2nd that Kojiro was in as we passed the Canaries and his blistering speed left us all standing still (except Brad ) until he strayed a little East and came to a stop. Prediction is that the Southern Oceans, with his experience in this area and the extra displacement not being as critical, he should be in the hunt for a podium finish in Leg III. (I hope so, as he would be a crowd favourite !! )
No. 5 seed
John Dennis on Bayer Ascensia: John is also a very experienced sailor and has been getting good levels of speed out of what I believe is the oldest yacht in the entire AA race, 10 years old. He has a fantastic Code Zero / Genoa hybrid sail that I saw in close proximity during the doldrums that moves his slightly heavier design at a good pace. A few issues with water ballast and autopilots have hurt John in some critical points of this leg, never mind starting behind the rest of us after the Bayona holiday, when he was 150 nm further to the north in adverse conditions at the re start point. BA is also similar to EH in that it is slightly under-canvassed in some 8 - 12 knots range, (headsails a little lacking ) yet when 15 knots or better kicks, in he is a rival for all but TH and SOY. Pops as he has become known is going to be in touch for a podium finish in this next leg again as the weight issue fades some and as Derek will remember in Leg I he can be a tough rival to shake.
No. 6 seed
Alan Paris on BTC Velocity: ( Hey that's not fair, I am the one doing the seeding yet I am in 6th place ?? ) Apart from it being politically correct, remember I was a Hotel & Resort Manager for 10 years, there is little room for not putting myself in this spot. Although I have now 28,000 nm of solo mileage and BTC Velocity has been built to an amazing standard, (thanks to Jon Sayer at Allyacht Spars Australia ) have you heard me complain of any breakage's so far ?? Nope none, so nowhere to hide on that account. I have unfortunately made a few bad weather decisions in both legs and have seen that BTC Velocity is, I believe the fastest in light air less than 8kts, we hold our own in medium running conditions, but in one critical area we are off the pace. 8 - 15 knots reaching. The narrower design of BTC Velocity lacks a little ' hull form stability ' and thus I see the others being approx. 1 to 1.5 knots faster in these reaching conditions. So am I doomed to 6th place in every leg. Absolutely not. Better weather decisions could on their own be enough, yet we will be fast in the Southern Oceans. In this area the narrow design pushes less water and just yesterday in 18 knots with a full main and 110 % genoa flying we hit 17.4 knots in a surf. Felt great to hear the boat humming and slapping the waves. So watch out, I can only get better.........
So there is the seeding. I hope I have given an acceptable rating summary as my peers will surely tell me in Cape Town. If no one come out to greet me I guess I will have my answer !!!
Regards to all.