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We just noticed that the J/V 72 Lucky, which was on its way to winning Div 1 and 3rd overall has come to a screeching halt - from 17.0 knots to 1.7 knots - with about 30 miles to go! The boat has broken its rudder and has retired from the race. Isn't this normally where an emergency rudder comes into play?

Track here.

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That's really puzzling... You'd think after sailing a couple thousand miles you'd at least try to limp the last 30miles rather than retire...
It would be a lot more satisfying to make it (even if you fall in the rankings) than a DNF. Especially when you consider that "backup" steering is a requirement to participate in the race!
Is their setup so terrible that they couldn't even be bothered to try to use it for the last 30miles, or even just steer by trimming or something?

I guess the only "reasonable excuse" for giving up at this stage is if they were taking on dangerous amounts of water and needed external assistance but still...

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5 hours ago, Airwick said:

That's really puzzling... You'd think after sailing a couple thousand miles you'd at least try to limp the last 30miles rather than retire...
It would be a lot more satisfying to make it (even if you fall in the rankings) than a DNF. Especially when you consider that "backup" steering is a requirement to participate in the race!
Is their setup so terrible that they couldn't even be bothered to try to use it for the last 30miles, or even just steer by trimming or something?

I guess the only "reasonable excuse" for giving up at this stage is if they were taking on dangerous amounts of water and needed external assistance but still...

Maybe they engaged the iron headsail and did the honourable thing and retired

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1 hour ago, Rushman said:

Maybe they engaged the iron headsail and did the honourable thing and retired

Sure... But turning on the engine doesn't solve the steering issue so if you are able to motor in why not sail instead and finish the race! Would have been a great opportunity to test the backup system in "real world" conditions.

Obviously I'm armchair sailing here and sometimes retiring is the safe/smart thing to do but in that case they are lucky whatever happened didn't happen 500miles earlier if doing 30miles was going to be problematic enough to retire...

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6 minutes ago, Airwick said:

Sure... But turning on the engine doesn't solve the steering issue so if you are able to motor in why not sail instead and finish the race! Would have been a great opportunity to test the backup system in "real world" conditions.

Obviously I'm armchair sailing here and sometimes retiring is the safe/smart thing to do but in that case they are lucky whatever happened didn't happen 500miles earlier if doing 30miles was going to be problematic enough to retire...

My view from the armchair is similar to yours

I was thinking the motor was engaged to help with whatever problem they had, perhaps to maintain position

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It’s going to be a full shit show to get everything cleaned up and the e rudder on. 
 

guessing they had a kite up, staysail, full main and a stack of sails. Rudder goes and boat goes head to wind. Kite backs into the mast, stack pulled the boat around into a tack now everything is on the wrong side of the boat.  Takes a bit to figure out what’s going on, get shit on deck sorted and check below to make sure the hulls not leaking. 
 

then after all of that the boats still sailing in circles at like 5 knots. Have to deploy a sea anchor( aka a storm jib tied to a sheet) to try and slow the boat down. Now time to dig out the e rudder and hope you can set it up and limp across the line. 

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I read these comments a few times, thought of chiming in, walked away and came back again and concluded silence was a mistake.  So... To all the armchair yachties above...if you have never been in these specific conditions and lost your rudder, you really should temper the criticism until you fully understand the specifics. ( If you have, let me know those specific conditions in a similar sized boat, how you successfully solved it, and I will apologize profusely) .  Otherwise, some of your notions of what may work in practice sessions in smooth water simply don't work in big breeze, heavy seas. Personally,  I know of at least one crewmember aboard Lucky who has duplicated that situation exactly 30 miles from the finish of another offshore race and took his prior learning into this situation - assure all are safe, inspect potential damage, try to use sails to steer, drogue out, deploy a makeshift emergency rudder, etc - and still needed to make the right decision for boat and crew. Yes, I was there with him.  (Airwick was correct in assuming if motor was engaged, thus they needed to retire  by protocol - so the "if you can use the motor, why not sail" comment show no understanding of the situation, nor specific experience with it).  Fortunately, this crew made the right decision for their reasons after assessing the situation; and until you know those details and theh decisions that followed, criticism of it is inappropriate and misguided.  Glad to know the boat and crew made it safely dockside with no further commplication - except the disappointment of being so class to their Div One Win and watching it evaporate in sight of Diamond Head.

 

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12 hours ago, IMR said:

guessing they had a kite up, staysail, full main and a stack of sails. Rudder goes and boat goes head to wind. Kite backs into the mast, stack pulled the boat around into a tack now everything is on the wrong side of the boat.  Takes a bit to figure out what’s going on, get shit on deck sorted and check below to make sure the hulls not leaking. 

That's what I imagined with all of that happening in under 5 seconds plus the 8-9 crew sitting on the stack hiking are now suddenly dragging their feet through the water and scrambling to keep themselves & the stack out of the water.

What to do after I dunno, depends on the situation. Could have been a partial MOB hanging on.

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6 hours ago, Bulga Naba said:

I read these comments a few times, thought of chiming in, walked away and came back again and concluded silence was a mistake.  So... To all the armchair yachties above...if you have never been in these specific conditions and lost your rudder, you really should temper the criticism until you fully understand the specifics. ( If you have, let me know those specific conditions in a similar sized boat, how you successfully solved it, and I will apologize profusely) .  Otherwise, some of your notions of what may work in practice sessions in smooth water simply don't work in big breeze, heavy seas. Personally,  I know of at least one crewmember aboard Lucky who has duplicated that situation exactly 30 miles from the finish of another offshore race and took his prior learning into this situation - assure all are safe, inspect potential damage, try to use sails to steer, drogue out, deploy a makeshift emergency rudder, etc - and still needed to make the right decision for boat and crew. Yes, I was there with him.  (Airwick was correct in assuming if motor was engaged, thus they needed to retire  by protocol - so the "if you can use the motor, why not sail" comment show no understanding of the situation, nor specific experience with it).  Fortunately, this crew made the right decision for their reasons after assessing the situation; and until you know those details and theh decisions that followed, criticism of it is inappropriate and misguided.  Glad to know the boat and crew made it safely dockside with no further commplication - except the disappointment of being so class to their Div One Win and watching it evaporate in sight of Diamond Head.

 

This.

These types of narrow fin/bulb keel boats have the directional stability of a drunk gerbil without a decent rudder.  Motoring them without a rudder is very difficult.

I've been on boats that have lost steerage twice on the way to Hawaii on boats the size and design of Lucky.  On was a broken turning block leading from the helm to the quadrant and the other a bent rudder shaft.  We were able to fix the turning block sheave problem after installing the "emergency rudder" and having it last about 15 minutes and then just bobbing around (and throwing up) for a couple of hours.  

The bent shaft rudder got us back to California averaging about 5-7 knots, broaching out on every 10th wave.  We never even tried the "emergency" set up.  We knew it was going to be worse.

The problem is that it is nearly impossible to actually test an emergency rudder without removing the rudder completely.  Modern rudders are just too powerful to overcome their force with a smaller rudder.  With the rudder centerlined, you have too much directional stability.  Freely turning, you have too much turning force.  So...you have to drop the original rudder completely out, recover it, test the emergency set up, and then try to fish the rudder back up.  (How Pip Hare did just that on the southern ocean with her spare rudder is beyond amazing to me.  But they did practice just that at the dock and had all the bits and pieces of rigging organized beforehand.)  

I'm in the process of designing an emergency rudder system for another Hawaii race with a naval architect and metal fabricator involved.  It might work.  It will definitely pass inspection.  What the Hawaii races permit for emergency rudders to pass inspection is actually pretty "hopeful".

It will be interesting to hear what Lucky has to say.

 

 

 

 

 

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There a few comments on this thread about stacking and crews sitting on the stack.  You do realise that the Racing Rules of Sailing do not allow stacking.  The suggestion that everyone else does it so it is OK is the Lance Armstrong defense, its still not permitted.

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9 minutes ago, trt131 said:

There a few comments on this thread about stacking and crews sitting on the stack.  You do realise that the Racing Rules of Sailing do not allow stacking.  The suggestion that everyone else does it so it is OK is the Lance Armstrong defense, its still not permitted.

And then there’s this... please do tell us all about your expertise in the transpac sailing instructions. Could be NOR. My bad

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I like how judgmental and holier than thou you are without knowledge:

 

Movement of sails not in use while racing is allowed; however, all gear and sails not being flown shall remain within a yacht’s lifelines.

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1 minute ago, Afrayedknot said:

I like how judgmental and holier than thou you are without knowledge:

 

Movement of sails not in use while racing is allowed; however, all gear and sails not being flown shall remain within a yacht’s lifelines.

yup, NOR amendment 5, 1.4

Pretty standard for offshore races to allow it because it's actually as much of a safety issue as it is a performance issue.

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37 minutes ago, trt131 said:

OK, OK, I have now read the NoR.  However it may be standard in USA but not the rest of the world.

Except on the Vendee Globe, the IMOCA 60 class and a few unimportant races like that.  

 

One of the reasons for sail stacking on Transpac is to keep the ocean out of the cockpit.  Best way to defend against a bad case of boat butt.

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And The Ocean Race allow it but not many others.  The reason is not to keep water out of the cockpit, it is to increase stability outside of what has been measured.

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3 hours ago, trt131 said:

There a few comments on this thread about stacking and crews sitting on the stack.  You do realise that the Racing Rules of Sailing do not allow stacking.  The suggestion that everyone else does it so it is OK is the Lance Armstrong defense, its still not permitted.

Yes, we all know that. It's understandable that you're not familiar with the NOR/SI's for a race on the other side of the world.

3 hours ago, trt131 said:

OK, OK, I have now read the NoR.  However it may be standard in USA but not the rest of the world.

Stacking & moving the stack is not standard in the good ole USA. I think the TP may be the only race in NA that allows moving & stacking, but it could be that the Vic/Maui does too.

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2 hours ago, trt131 said:

And The Ocean Race allow it but not many others.  The reason is not to keep water out of the cockpit, it is to increase stability outside of what has been measured.

I think the real reason for the rule in the TP is to enable boats to get up and stay up for longer periods, making the boats slightly faster, the race slightly more fun & competitive all of which encourages participation. Others might say that the exception is really there to level the game between those who might stretch the rules and those who play by them. Less water in the cockpit & stability are just by-products of the real intent. Maybe.

Don't know about the OR but being shorthanded and being able to move sails about when you can / want to probably had something to do with it.

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Having raced TP a number of times (including this one), the main reason they allowing stacking is the stability/safety required for the early part of the race.

If the race takes 7-8 days, the first 2-3 days are hard reaching in up to 25 knots. The majority of these boats are designed for crews of 12-15 on the rail in these conditions, but since its mostly downwind, the crews are cut down to 8-10, and half of those are off watch. So, consider hard reaching with a crew of 4 on-watch, with really no on hiking as they are all driving or trimming. It makes for a very slow, uncomfortable reach. Then add to that the TP52s (and Comanche and Lucky and....) are effectively  in these reaching configuratins/conditions for the whole race, and you will understand the reason for stacking. If you break a rudder, stacking has little to do with it as the boats were designed with that load from the beginning (or should have been).

I understand it was blowing 33kts and had put the bow deep in a wave (ocean waves run at 12-15 knots) in the Molokai Channel when the Lucky's rudder let go, 7 inches below the water line. They were still on port about to gybe to starboard for the final leg to the finish. i'll let those onboard describe their decision making after that.

(note: There was also some discussion about several rudders of this same mini-maxi era, from the same builder, that had sheared off over the last few years and may have played into this. Taking a boat built for around the buoys in the Med and then taking them offshore....)

 

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4 hours ago, DarkHorse said:

Having raced TP a number of times (including this one), the main reason they allowing stacking is the stability/safety required for the early part of the race.

If the race takes 7-8 days, the first 2-3 days are hard reaching in up to 25 knots. The majority of these boats are designed for crews of 12-15 on the rail in these conditions, but since its mostly downwind, the crews are cut down to 8-10, and half of those are off watch. So, consider hard reaching with a crew of 4 on-watch, with really no on hiking as they are all driving or trimming. It makes for a very slow, uncomfortable reach. Then add to that the TP52s (and Comanche and Lucky and....) are effectively  in these reaching configuratins/conditions for the whole race, and you will understand the reason for stacking. If you break a rudder, stacking has little to do with it as the boats were designed with that load from the beginning (or should have been).

I understand it was blowing 33kts and had put the bow deep in a wave (ocean waves run at 12-15 knots) in the Molokai Channel when the Lucky's rudder let go, 7 inches below the water line. They were still on port about to gybe to starboard for the final leg to the finish. i'll let those onboard describe their decision making after that.

(note: There was also some discussion about several rudders of this same mini-maxi era, from the same builder, that had sheared off over the last few years and may have played into this. Taking a boat built for around the buoys in the Med and then taking them offshore....)

 

So the rules have to be changed to allow as you say "Taking a boat built for around the buoys in the Med and then taking them offshore....)" and have them perform at their best against boats designed and built to race in these conditions.

Fair to ALL?

There is no reason that a lightweight boat designed for buoy racing couldn't be sailed safely in those conditions by reducing sail to the point where loads were manageable and safe,  except that that wouldn't be as fast and that would reduce chances of winning,  (even if the chances were that the lighter boat would be fast enough to make the time up later when conditions suited them).

And yes I am old (and fat),  and started offshore racing early in the 80's in heavy IOR type boats,  but I have also done (& won) long race miles on a TP in a race where stacking was not allowed in conditions stronger than you quote,  OK 4 days not 7,  but the previous record was just under 7!

Organisers want the biggest and widest fleets they can get for their race,  of course.  But to achieve this and to make sure the "glamour" boats come they seem to bend over backwards to give them what they want.  Which usually is best chance of winning!

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