sailing

Autumn kiteing in Atlantic Highlands

The beach at Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club is lined with kites and spectators, as the 2015 Foil Race & WOO Big Air Contest is happening this weekend.

Green Hat Kiteboarding put on the event calling all kiteboarders and foilboard riders from the tristate area to get together, and compete. While the foil race course was set up in deeper water about a half mile from shore, the WOO Big Air competition could be watched right off the beach. How high do they jump? On Saturday Denis Televnyy took 1st Place at 33.3 feet. Rudy Willemson claimed 2nd at 31.4 feet with 5.3 seconds airtime, closely followed by John Keenan who matched the height but landed 0.2 seconds sooner.

All height and airtime data are recorded by WOO clip-on sensors, attached to each board.

New York Media Boat stopped by for some photos:



Surveying the Five Gyres

Swirls of microplastics are undulating through five major ocean gyres — and the ‘Race For Water‘ plans to sail its MOD70 through each one of these.

These aren’t huge islands of trash. You don’t see bottles, fishing nets, and six-pack rings all bunched up and going for a ride around the Pacific. There’s not a big patch that turns up on satellite images, and you’re not likely to run into a lone mound of discarded tupperware on your Atlantic crossing, according to NOAA.

But there certainly are clumps of microplastics — tiny particles that are the breakdown product, through UV light and other environmental processes, of larger plastics — that get caught up in the inner circle of major ocean currents.

“Regardless of the exact size, mass, and location of these areas of concentration, man-made litter and debris do not belong in our oceans or waterways,” according to NOAA.

Race for Water says it will attempt to survey the island beaches caught up in the middle of these bands of pollution. These islands include Bermuda, Easter Island, Hawaii, and Tristan de Cunha — along with other remote islands that aren’t caught up in the trash-laden currents.

Drones are the main means of data collection. The images of island beaches they yield will be handed over to researchers at Duke University and Oregon State University for analysis.

There should also be plenty of observational data, too, as the six-member crew — all of them sailors, not scientists — will sail the 70-foot trimaran through the five major gyres on a year-long journey from Bordeaux and back.

Here are some photos of their New York stopover. The vessel is currently docked at Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City.

Around Long Island Regatta 2014

NEW YORK, August 2 — Once again New York Media Boat covered the start of ‘The Around Long Island Regatta’, hosted by the Sea Cliff Yacht Club. The boats started six miles southeast off Rockaway Point, in twenty knots of wind, course set for Montauk. After rounding the eastern end of Long Island, they headed through ‘the race’ and west to cross the line in Mannhasett Bay.

Full-resolution photos are available for purchase, please inquire with sail number or vessel name.

Race Weeks: Busy Months in New York Harbor

May and June have been packed will all kinds of boats and regattas.

First to show her sails after a long winter was the Super-Maxi luxury yacht Leopard 3. She can entertain 20 guests, reach speeds of 30+ knots under sail, and was docked at North Cove Marina.

The Class 40 Atlantic Cup boats completed Leg 1 with a spectacular slow finish, as the wind died and the tide switched (the yellowbrick tracker screenshot shows a trying last mile). They also docked at North Cove Marina and restarted a few days later on Leg 2, course set for Newport.

The $6 million French MOD70 trimaran ‘Virbac-Paprec’ stayed at Liberty Landing Marina to host corporate sponsor sails around Manhattan.  New York Media Boat was the official photographer and we provided all transfers for their clients. The MOD70 got a mention in Sailing Anarchy when she was struck by a careless transient captain exiting Morris Canal. ‘Virbac-Paprec’ departed New York on June 1st for Kiel, Germany.

Fleet Week 2014 brought a couple of NAVY ships to town, most notably the USS Cole (DDG-67), which unfortunately didn’t make it up the bay to Manhattan and instead docked at Sullivans Piers on Staten Island. It was interesting to watch a Willard Marine 7 meter RHIB — the same craft we use here at New York Media Boat — being lowered off the USS Oak Hill (LSD-51).

North Cove Marina hosted the first OCEAN MASTERS regatta. All five IMOCA’s crossed the start line, as the canon was fired at 12:10 EST on June 1st. The Hungarian team retired within minutes and returned to port to refit their boat. They couldn’t do a 24hr turn-around after a very delayed arrival to New York.  The 60 foot boats  compete in this new dual handed race as part of the World Championship Series. It was great seeing Ryan Breymaier on (Hugo Boss) and Mark Guillemot (Safran Sailing Team) again. SAIL FAST!

Elliott Dale and Chris ‘Darby’ Walters launched their 19 foot long carbon/kevlar foam composite boat at Liberty Landing Marina to row the North Atlantic Ocean in under 55 days in an attempt to raise money for the Children’s Hospice South West.You canfollow their voyage here.

The Clipper Round the World race finished Race 13 from Jamaica to New York with the fleet spread over a hundred miles apart. ‘GREAT Britain’ was the first boat to arrive Manhattan and we welcomed them at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. It’s an interesting concept as each boat is skippered by one professional sailor and the rest of the crew made up of paying passengers — no experience required.

Our friend Giovanni Soldini is also in town with VO70 ‘Maserati’ for some PR sailing and is currently on stand-by for a North Atlantic record attempt. Also awaiting the right weather conditions is the 130 foot offshore-racing maxi trimaran ‘Banque Populair’. They hope to break their standing record of 3 days and 15 hours from Ambrose buoy in New York to Lizard Point in the UK.

Hit & Run: Beneteau strikes MOD70

Yesterday we saw the 38 foot sailing vessel ‘Halcyon Daze’ strike the docked MOD70 trimaran ‘Virbac-Paprec’ in Morris Canal, causing damage to the carbon fiber hull.

The captain tried to make a run for it without reporting the incident so we motored up to him to see what he had to say. As his crew attempted to remove the MOD70 paint evidence from their starboard hull and railing, the captain unfurled the main sail ignoring a verbal suggestion to return and report the damage.

An NYPD boat quickly joined the 4-knot ”chase” down the Hudson, ordering ‘Halcyon Daze’ to stop. The captain tried his best to ignore the NYPD’s sirens, lights, and hailer, but after a few minutes, ‘Halcyon Daze’ was forced to return to port and face the damage.

Norway Bound

Norwegian sailor Halvard Eneberg decided to take on some extra diesel before casting off on Easter Sunday. “It’s cheaper in the U.S. than in Scotland,” he said while filling about 20 jerry cans — bringing his fuel total to 150 gallons. The Norwegian crew of three was in high spirits as they made final preparations aboard the 37-foot BalticVaerbitt, which translates to ‘weathered.’

“We went to Pathmark and bought enough food and beer to get us there and back,” Eneberg said.

In 2012, Vaerbitt was sailed by her previous owner from Norway via Spain and the Canary Islands to Saint Lucia and Panama before arriving in New York Harbor. She was put up for sale and Eneberg purchased her with the intent to sail her back to Norway. “We won’t take the northern route because of the ice, and we will head straight for the Azores,” he said.

Clearing U.S. Customs and donning New York Media Boat swag, the team departed Liberty Landing Marina in New Jersey at 18:00 ET, hoisted sail, and set course due east. The crew was looking forward to reaching international waters and exchanging their guest flag for a jolly roger.

More info on the boat, the voyage, and daily position reports at www.vaerbitt.net.

Henrik Lundqvist: King and Captain

A few years back, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist starred in an episode of MSG’s The Game 365, giving host Fran Healy a tour of his native Sweden. Much of the second half of the interview was filmed on a yacht, cruising the waters outside of Gothenburg. Lundqvist said he didn’t own a boat there, but like any good Scandinavian, he had a deep love for the fjords and had accumulated plenty of sea time on friends’ vessels.

So, then, what better follow-up than some seafaring on the Hudson River? On Tuesday, Healy and Lundqvist boarded the 43-foot Beneteau Gemini at 79th Street Boat Basin to continue their conversation for another episode of the show. New York Media Boat hosted two MSG cameramen charged with getting wide shots of Healy and Lundqvist soaking up the sun and salt. (Since our RIB Aperture wasn’t available that day, we owe many thanks to Halcyon Sailing for loaning out Protector.)

One of the best-dressed and most seen athletes in New York, Lundqvist fit right in on a luxury yacht. His white button-down (top button unbuttoned, of course) tucked into his dark denim jeans with the help of a massive belt buckle emblazoned with the letter H. A dive watch and his classic stubbled face made it even easier to blend in as a sailor.

The shoot took about two hours, but few of the details from the interview made their way across the water.When the boats finally docked, everyone had a few minutes of downtime and conversations started.

The Swede was surprised to hear another Scandinavian name when he was introduced to Bjoern. He said he knew Flensburg, the northern German town on a fjord of the Baltic Sea where Bjoern grew up. The conversation was quick but we managed to snap a photo before Lundqvist was ushered off to the next event.

The episode is set to air at the beginning of the regular season in October.

Around Long Island Regatta

NEW YORK, July 25th — New York Media Boat is at the start of the 2013 Around Long Island RegattaStrong wind and rough seas make for exiting conditions as 74 boats sail across the line passing the committee boat just north of Ambrose Light.

The non-spinaker boats start first, followed by the ones with kites, then the double handed group, multihulls, and finally the IRC fleet — all heading east on this first offshore leg towards Montauk Point.

You can follow some of the boats via the Kattack tracking system and check out a selection of photos on our ALIR page. Full-resolution images are available for purchase, inquire with sail number.

Aground off Weehawken

We were talking logistics with the Solar Impulseteam at Surf City late Friday night when Bjoern received a Facebook message from friends at Liberty Landing Marina: “Ran aground. Can you tow a sailboat?”

We apologized to Jean and his cameraman and wished them luck with their 24-hour job ahead. (Solar Impulse took off from Washington D.C. at 5 am to complete the final leg of its record-breaking, solar-powered flight across the U.S.. which began in May in San Francisco. They were allowed a 2 am time slot to land at JFK airport – some 21 hours later. You can catch their NYC flyby between 9:30 and 11 pm tonight, and the entire voyage is being webcast live on the Google homepage.)

The sailboat had run aground in a deceptively shallow spot off of Weehawken – an area thatLiberty Landing Dockmaster Michelle Purinton knew well. She’d freed many boats in that area during her tenure as an instructor at Offshore Sailing School. Even though it was 11 pm, Michelle hopped aboard NY Media Boat to lend a hand and technical expertise – as did Pier 25 Dockmaster George Bennett.

Within 20 minutes, our crew arrived on the scene, just as the NYPD and FDNY boats were pulling up.  The ungrounding plan had been formed en route: hook our tow line to the sailboat’s main halyard so we could heel it over, freeing its keel from the Hudson muck and allowing the vessel to push forward.

The boat was stuck in about three feet of water and the outgoing tide was quickly streaming downriver, so the FDNY boat transferred our tow line across the shallows. They also took the sailboat’s bowline to give some extra forward momentum. The NYPD’s intense searchlight lit up the scene, making the whole procedure vastly easier.

Once the tow line was raised to the top of the boat’s 63-foot mast and her passengers were all perched on her port side, Bjoern put NY Media Boat in reverse and pulled the vessel into a steep heel.

You can see the outcome in the quick video below:

Safran Takes Solo Transat Record

As the sun came over Cape Lizard in England this morning, Marc Guillemot brought the IMOCA60 Safran across the finish line 8 days, 5 hours, and 20 minutes after leaving Ambrose Light in New York — usurping the record Alex Thomson set with Hugo Boss last summer.

It was an intense race across the north Atlantic between Guillemot and Zbigniew “Gutek” Gutkowski’s Energa for the title — for Gutkowski, there’s always next summer.

Energa, Safran Match-Race for Record

Two of the top IMOCA60 racers will battle it out in the North Atlantic in an attempt to seize the transatlantic monohull single-handed world record.

Zbigniew “Gutek” Gutkowski and Marc Guillemot will push Energa and Safran, respectively, to break Alex Thomson’s 8-day, 22-hour, 8-minute sprint from New York to Cape Lizard, set last summer in preparation for the 2012 Vendee Globe.

This afternoon, Gutkowski and Guillemot set out for the starting line at Ambrose Light in four-foot seas and about 15 knots of wind. Both sailors are banking on a low pressure system promising at least 20 knots of wind, with gusts up to 32.

Estimated start time is about 3 a.m. — until then, perhaps a scrimmage IMOCA60 Match Race at Ambrose.

UPDATE: Safran crossed the start line at 19:19 ET, Energa moments later at 19:31 ET.

Slavic Sailor Wants to Knock Out Record

When Polish sailor Zbigniew Gutkowski introduces himself, your hand vanishes into a massive palm that could engulf a football better than most quarterbacks.

“Gutek,” he says, and for a moment you think perhaps one of the Klitschko brothers has commandeered a 60-foot sailboat. Gutkowski is more boxer than sailor, with a wide frame that towers several inches beyond six feet. Stuffed into big red gloves, those hands could pack quite the punch.

But they’re usually busy with ropes or navigation software, at the helm or fixing yet another repair. They’ve been primed by years of sailing on the rough waters of the Baltic Sea. Blustery Polish winters were no barrier to getting out on the ocean; nor were the scarce resources of communism. “You didn’t have the best gear,” he says, remembering how cold his hands would get after a wintry day at sea. “Then when you go inside, they burn.”

Still, those hands are as agile and precise as a surgeon’s. On one leg of the 2011 Velux Five Oceans Race, Gutkowski’s wind generator sliced a gash in his forehead. “Blood everywhere,” he says, showing me a picture of the wound on his iPad. When I ask about medical attention, he makes a whirling motion over his forehead: “I sew it up.”

Now Gutkowski is trying his hand at the solo transatlantic monohull record – currently held by Alex Thomson — with his IMOCA Open 60 Energa. And he’s attempting it with one of Thomson’s former boats: Energa was re-fashioned from the ‘black and white’ Hugo Boss.

Gutkowski is from Gdansk, one of the most important shipbuilding centers in Poland during its heyday, providing vessels for Eastern Europe and some Soviet countries. The city is famous for its role in the Polish uprising: In the 1980s, Lech Walesa led tens of thousands of shipyard workers in strikes that are credited with ultimately leading to the fall of communism in the country.

When Gutkowski was growing up, membership in the local sailing club was reserved for shipyard workers, so he could only press his nose up to the glass — until his geography teacher, who was a member of the club, brought Gutkowski and some other students there for geography club trips.

Gutkowski was 10 at the time and took to the sport instantly. His talent was eventually recognized by a member of the sailing club and he was plucked to train with local competitive teams. By age 14, he was sailing with the Polish national team.

“Finally,” he says, “we have good equipment for sailing.”

But sailing the Baltic was still a challenge. Gutkowski recalls spring days spent waiting for large ships to cut a path through icebergs so he could sail.

“It is difficult and tough area to learn,” he says. “But it’s really good. If you can sail there, after that you can sail everywhere” – even in long offshore ocean races: which he started to do in 2000 in The Race, a non-stop round-the-world aboard the catamaran Warta-Polpharma.

His next step was a 2004 round-the-world speed record on an Open60, then a single-handed try in the 2005 Nokia Oops Cup aboard the ORMA 60 Bonduelle. After one other offshore event in 2007, Gutkowski set his sights on the Velux Five Oceans.

The prep time paid off because he took second place in that race in 2011 with the IMOCA60 Operon. He fought hard in the multi-leg race, suffering not only the forehead gash, but also two cracked ribs. A doctor in Brazil, where he stopped to recuperate for a mere 10 days, told him he was lucky to not have punctured a lung.

After the Velux, Gutkowski and his entourage, which includes the sailor Maciej “Swistak” Marczewski, convinced Energa — an energy company headquartered in Gdansk with a bent for alternative power — to sponsor a new IMOCA60. This time Gutkowski purchased an old boat off Alex Thomson, the ‘black and white’ Hugo Boss made famous by Thomson’s tailored-suit-soaking keel dive.

Gutkowski’s next plan: The 2012 Vendee Globe.

But like many others, Energa dropped out of the race after only 11 days. The trouble: autopilot malfunction.

Now Energa’s objective is to reclaim a record from her former owner. Gutkowski is hoping to smash Thomson’s 8-day, 22-hour, 8-minute record, which was set in the summer of 2012 as preparation for the Vendee Globe; albeit with a newer incarnation of Hugo Boss.
In purple, green, yellow, and orange, Energa leaves hardly a trace of the monochrome Hugo Boss, except for her reverse navigation station. And Thomson surely didn’t dine on the vacuum-sealed, dried Slavic specialties onboard: beef stroganoff, pork loin in dill sauce.

Gutkowski may encounter other traces of the Baltic Sea on his journey to Cape Lizard: icebergs are still in season in north Atlantic, and it’s unlikely he’ll have a cargo ship to clear them from his path. Fog and whales are two other tough opponents. But that’s no matter for Gutkowski. He’ll fend them off with a combination punch.

Joyon Breaks Record

NEWSBRIEF June 16, 2013 — Francis Joyon sets new record crossing the North Atlantic in 5 days, 2 hours, 56 minutes and 10 seconds.
He improved Thomas Coville’s 2008 record by over 16 hours.

Joyon staged in New York for about three weeks before he moored IDEC off Sandy Hook, NJ for final preparations and set sail on June 10th, as the sun came over the horizon at 05:00EST.

New York Media Boat successfully recovered IDEC’s mooring system shortly after.
Check out our photos of Francis Joyon and IDEC in New York.

Currently ENERGA and SAFRAN are in the cue, awaiting a weather window to challenge the IMOCA 60 transatlantic record. Stay tuned for updates.

IDEC & Atlantic Cup in New York

Lots of great boats in New York Harbor this week! Leopard3 (ICAP) visited North Cove Marina for some corporate sailing before heading over to the UK. She’s a 100ft super maxi yacht designed by Farr Yacht Design and powered with Doyle Stratis sails. Two hydraulic cylinders operating the 61 ton canting keel keep her vertical and the VIP guest safe. Talking about Farr boats… check out Halcyon Sailing, NYC — they just launched 4 Farr30’s in the harbor for corporate sailing and racing leagues.

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Francis Joyon arrived Sunday on the 97ft maxi-trimaran IDEC 2 to stage for his next trans-atlantic record attempt, which will most likely take place sometime in June. He hopes to break Thomas Coville’s 2008 record of 5d, 19h, 29 min. Check out these photos of IDEC from yesterday’s shoot in New York Harbor!

Tuesday night the Atlantic Cup boats arrived after sailing 642 nm non-stop from Charleston — finishing Leg 1 of the double handed race. New York Media Boat met the lead class 40 boat ‘Bodacious Dream’ (USA 118) crewed by skipper Matt Scharl and owner Dave Rearick as they sailed under the Verrazano Bridge and towards the finish line at North Cove Marina. Check out the photos here!

Check out our short & exclusive video and come to North Cove Marina to meet the skippers.

Kon-Tiki arrives in New York

A few days ago we showed you one of the world’s most decked-out private yachts —the $1.5 billion Eclipse.
Today, on the other side of the spectrum but just a few miles south on the Hudson, floats the world’s most primitive seagoing raft — the Tangaroa.

From a distance, it appears to be Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki built by the Norwegian explorer to show that people from South America could have settled Polynesia from the east, contrary to popular belief. They constructed Kon-Tiki from balsa wood and hemp rope — the same materials available before Columbus’ time. Heyerdahl and his crew navigated by the stars and ocean currents, and put down some respectable 4,300 nautical miles before wrecking Kon-Tiki on a reef in theTuamotu Islands after 101 days at sea. Heyerdahl’s 1947 expedition across the Pacific was a huge success: it made him Norway’s most famous person, his book became an international best seller, and their documentary won an Academy Award in 1951.

The raft currently docked at North Cove Marina is a replica and did not sail from Norway to New York, but was delivered by container ship instead. It’s here as a promotional stunt to highlight the newly released 2012 action movie ‘Kon-Tiki,’ nominated for a 2013 ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ Oscar.

Tangaroa however was not built to promote the movie, but rather float the Humbold Current as well. In 2006 a Norwegian team led by Olav Heyerdahl, grandson of Thor Heyerdahl, constructed the replica-raft in an attempt to duplicate the original Kon-Tikivoyage. They too crossed the Pacific, made landfall in the Polynesian Islands, anddocumented their voyage.

If you want to climb aboard Tangaroa, swing by North Cove Marina in Battery Park City. I’m told the raft is open to the public and will be there until April 22nd.

The movie opens in select U.S. theaters on April 26 so check out the trailer, and if you’re ever in Oslo, I highly recommend a visit to the Kon-Tiki Museum at Bygdøy.

Who’s Clocking Maserati?

NEW YORK – Maserati is on track to take the New York to San Francisco monohull speed record. But who’s keeping time?

That would be the World Sailing Speed Record Council, or WSSRC. Its New York commissioner Janet Hellman officially clocked the Volvo Open70 as she left Manhattan for forty-something days at sea.

Hellman is an executive assistant at the Sandy Hook Pilots, which always have a vessel stationed at Ambrose Buoy, the official starting line for the race. The Pilots visually confirmed Soldini crossing that line and entered it into their ship’s log book.

Check out our video interview with Hellman, and come back later this week for Bjoern’s images and coverage of Maserati’s arrival at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Around the Horn in 40 Days

American sailor Ryan Breymaier raised a thin metal pipe and chipped away at a layer of ice that had formed overnight on parts of Maserati’s deck.

Skipper Giovanni Soldini took a sip of hot tea from a friend on the dock and lit a cigarette to stay warm.

“We are looking forward to go and reach the hot water as soon as possible because it’s cold,” Soldini told me as we shivered in the morning light at North Cove Marina, where the crew was readying Maserati for her departure.

“When we reach the Gulf Stream,” he said, “the air will be warmer and life will be easier.”

The week was the coldest that Soldini and his crew of eight had experienced since they arrived in New York on December 4. They were awaiting the ideal conditions to make a run for the New York to San Francisco monohull world record: 57 days.

The northwest winds on this last day of 2012 were exactly what the modified Volvo Open 70 needed to push her “just south of east,” as navigator Boris Herrmann described the initial heading of 110 degrees. The 14,000-mile route first stretched the team south and eastward into the Atlantic almost the length of the continental U.S., around the elbow of Brazil, down the South American coast and ‘round the treacherous Cape Horn.

Then they’d rush back up north through the Pacific Ocean almost midway between French Polynesia and Chile, across the equator for a second time, and into San Francisco.

Since it’s impossible to predict the weather 40 days out – their target time, as they’d also like to take the overall record of 43 days, held by the catamaran Gitana – the forecast for the first week is critical. Soldini said the day’s increasing northwest winds, ultimately predicted to reach 35 to 40 knots, would help slingshot them well north of Bermuda, and eventually into the trade winds.

“If everything goes to plan, we could be in 10 days at the equator,” Herrmann said on the dock at North Cove at around 8 am on the last day of the year. “We hopefully only suffer two days from this cold.”

After hitting the easternmost point of Brazil, Maserati will stay close to the South American coast all the way to Cape Horn, where she’ll likely pass through the Le Maire Strait into the Drake Passage.

Soldini, Braymeier, and Herrmann have all been ‘round the horn, but never “the wrong way around,” Herrmann said.

“I’ve been around two times,” Soldini told me, “but in the good direction!”

Herrmann said that there’s a 60% chance the winds will be working against them, with the likelihood of favorable winds at “just a few percent.”

And the odds are high that they’ll have a low-pressure system waiting for them there.

“Getting around Cape Horn without having to stop and wait … is key to success with this record,” Breymaier said. “If you can get around quickly and get moving north again, you’re golden. If not you could sit there for a long time.”

Soldini said a storm could stymie them for up to a week. And once they get through, they’re still only halfway there. The next part of the voyage takes them far off the Chilean coast, thousands of miles offshore and possibly half way to the French Polynesian islands.

Then it’s back across the equator and up the North American coast – the “upwind part at the end that could be a little bit boring,” Breymaier says – and finally in to San Francisco.

“It could happen that we have to make a big detour” to get into San Francisco, Herrmann says. “It depends on the weather we find there. That’s too far away now to predict.”

Herrmann has tried to predict it, though. He’s run models for the trip based on 20-year historical weather data and the best routes put them in San Francisco in 42 days.

The average, though, is 55 days, and some – when the weather was never in their favor — put them in San Francisco much later.

The caveat is that the historical models were of “very low resolution,” Herrmann says, relying on weather information from only 12-hour intervals. But they don’t clash too much with the sailors’ intuitions.

“The multihull record is 43 days – that’s 16.5 knots average for the course, which is pretty high,” Breymaier told me after the ice had been hacked away. “We’re dreaming we can make it in 42 and say we have the overall record, but that’s certainly not a safe bet to make.”

“I think we’re gonna be somewhere between 45 and 50.”

The increasing winds – and the chill they brought – upped the crew’s motivation to leave, and by 10 am Maserati had pushed back from the dock at North Cove and sailed out into the Hudson.

Soldini said they haven’t made any definite plans if they do make it all the way around, but if they complete this historical route, there will be a “big party, first thing,” he says. “Then we’ll see.”

Interview mit Boris Herrmann in New York (German)

Kurz bevor Giovanni Soldini und crew in New York ablegten, sprach Navigator Boris Herrmann exklusiv mit ‘New York Media Boat’. Das Team versucht mit der 70 Fuss (21 Meter) langen Volvo Ocean Race Yacht ‘Maserati’ einen neuen Rekord von New York nach San Franzisko zu erstellen. Gestern segelten sie vor Manhattan an der Freiheitsstatue entlang, zur offiziellen Startlinie bei ‘Ambrose Light’ und Herrmann hofft in etwa zwanzig Tagen Kap Horn zu umrunden.

Sailing Maserati to the Starting Line

CHARLESTON — The Canadian model predicts four days at sea, the U.S. model predicts three, and the European model … well, that’s a bit much to run just for a delivery. Either way, the current course of Charleston to New York is significantly shorter than the one slated to start in about two weeks: an attempt to beat the monohull record for New York to San Francisco via Cape Horn.

The goal for that trip is 40 days, though the time to beat is a little over 57, a target set by Yves Parlier on Aquitaine Innovations in 1998. Veteran Italian sailor Giovanni Soldini will guide Maserati — a Volvo Open 70 modified to be significantly lighter — across some 15,000 miles, possibly more depending on whether the winds cooperate.  And it’s especially hard to get them to go your way around the treacherous tip of South America.

Bjoern is the on-board photographer for the Charleston to New York leg, a 600-mile journey that brings Maserati around another troublesome Cape — Cape Hatteras — although barrier islands don’t look quite as intimidating as massive rocky cliffs blasted by a roiling Southern Ocean.

It’s been a long journey to the starting line for Soldini and crew. They spent an unanticipated 28 days at sea after leaving La Spezia in early October, sentenced to time in the Caribbean as they waited for Hurricane Sandy to blow through.

After about three weeks in Charleston, the team got underway today around 2 pm, and Bjoern managed to transmit a few on-board photos while he was still close enough to the coast to have reception. Enjoy!

MAYDAY South of Hell Gate

The broadcast came across the VHF at 11:25 a.m. that Saturday: “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, this is the sailing vessel Blue Moon. We’re stuck below a bridge on the East River by Roosevelt Island.”

Escorting a NYC Swim event, I happened to be less than two miles away from the described location, and able to respond to the mayday call. When I arrived on the scene within minutes, her mast was lodged mid-span of the Roosevelt Island Bridge, and the strong current had turned the 35-foot hull broadside, leaning her 40 degrees. Water was washing over her starboard gunnel as two sailors in red life preservers took the high side, fearing the boat might not stay afloat much longer.

NYPD Harbor Unit’s 35-foot response boat #351 also arrived on scene and picked up the distressed boat’s crew from the downstream side. Meanwhile, an FDNY rescue truck stationed itself on top of the bridge. Sparks flew as the team cut open a metal gate for two rescue divers to access a ladder that led them down the stanchion of the bridge. The firefighters asked to come aboard my boat and use her as their stand-by vessel while they assessed the situation.

Next, a 55-foot “Kenny Hansen class” NYPD launch arrived and tied off Blue Moon’s halyard to their bow in hopes of pulling the mast free. But the halyard stood no chance. As the twin 740-HP Detroit diesels lurched, it snapped and whipped back at the boat.

FDNY’s new 64-foot fast-response boat ‘Bravest’ was there within minutes as well, and took station upriver of the bridge. This boat can pump over 6,000 gallons of water per minute, and the lettering of the vessel’s name was cut from steel salvaged at Ground Zero.

The NYPD and FDNY secured the scene and determined that the best course of action would be to summon a bridge operator and wait for the lift-bridge to open and free the boat.

The situation was under control, and I returned to the NYC Swim event, with a renewed sense of vigilance to the swimmers. The whole episode is a reminder of the extreme difficulties posed by the East River’s notorious 5-plus knots of current.