The awesome boats thread

I just learned that the USS Gerald R. Ford is going to make a port visit to Oslo tomorrow.

The Norwegian police also just announced a no-fly-zone (for all except commercial airliners) over all of the inner Oslo fjord from midnight today until next Tuesday, they are also being very coy about where the super carrier will berth or anchor up, as well as when they will arrive and leave.

I will do as well as I can to get some photos of the carrier and its escorts. It's not every day you get the chance to see a US Navy super carrier. I also believe this is the first port visit of USS Gerald R. Ford outside of the US. This sends a very strong message, so strong that the Russians are not happy about it.
So the draught was too deep for the USS Gerald R. Ford to be moored to a pier. So they had to anchor it in the fjord adjacent to Oslo, Bunnefjorden. Notice how far back the island is on the Ford class, they did this for aerodynamic reasons to disturb the flight operations less.



The air wing seems to be purely Super Hornets, no F-35Cs. They have rented a lot of boats to transport the 4500 sailors to/from the shore. The association that organises many bars have also announced that they will accept US Dollars as payment.

I have only seen a US super carrier once before, the USS Carl Vinson, CVN 70, in San Diego across the bay from the USS Midway museum.

The Ocean Race is coming back to Europe at the moment. With a nice dose of low pressure, and the gulf stream helping. Which resulted in the previous monohull 24 hour distance record being beaten by not one, not two, but three of the boats participating. In terms of race points this is meaningless, but well.... you know racers. The new record was accomplished by Team Malizia - by abount half a mile over Holcim-PRB.
The leading trio consisting of leaders 11th Hour Racing, overall leaders Holcim-PRB and new speed kings Malizia is passing the Orkney Islands right about now, and with the high speeds they are going, they will likely arrive in Aarhus on the Danish east coast in 30 to 36 hours (educated guess). Perhaps another night time arrival.

Sadly, the fourth team, Biotherm, apparently had some technical difficulties resulting in them falling off the weather system carrying the other three and because of that, being unable to have their try at the record and more importantly, being over 600 NM behind by now.
Even more sadly, team number five, Guyot, suffered a dismasting in the closing stages of the last leg (Brazil to the US) and their boat is being transported by cargo ship back to Europe. Perhaps they manage to get a new mast and rejoin (being dead last due to only finishing two out of five legs), perhaps not.

The current overall ranking puts the top three teams within just one point. The current, transatlantic leg counts for double points (10 for the winner, 8 for 2nd, and so on), and there's only two more (normally counting) legs after that. Perhaps that's why this leg seems more tense than the ones before, with a notable lack of epic drone footage from the boats. Or perhaps it's because the drones can barely keep up with the boats at full speed. :D
Anyway, I will go to Kiel in just under two weeks to watch the "fly-by" of the race there. I hope for an awesome sight - and given that not only the IMOCAs, but also the slower VO65 class fleet (which only does the "European" legs this time) will participate, I am sure I will have something to watch.

A sidenote about the speed records: In my opinion foiling boats should have a separate category...
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More from the Ocean Race. Last weekend, the short but tough leg 6 from Aarhus/DK to The Hague/NL via Kiel/D happened. And I actually went to Kiel to watch the boats do their "fly-by", meaning they went into the harbour, around a turning mark and back out again. Sadly no positional battles right there, the closest we got to see was the two (half-) German boats passing each other when Guyot had just turned the mark while Malizia was just about to do the same.

Anyway, some pictures (clickable thumbnails). First, the leaders at the time, 11th Hour Racing, who went on to win the leg by a mere 12 minutes and are on first place in the overall standing:
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Third to come in was Biotherm. The TV helicopter pilot was on fire here:

... as is also visible on video:

Unfortunately, the Germans from Team Guyot and Team Malizia came through in fourth and fifth/last place, respectively:

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Malizia managed to make a good comeback and chased the leaders down to the finish line, again almost catching Holcim-PRB and coming into the finish just 80 seconds behind them on third place. It's incredible how close the racing in this race is, and sad how most often Malizia is on the wrong end of a tiny margin. But, kudos to 11th Hour and Holcim, they are just a tiny bit better and will fight for the overall win on the last leg which starts om Thursday.

To even have Guyot back in the race was a small wonder, as they had broken their mast near the end of leg 4, had to scramble money from sponsors and support from the other teams to get a replacement mast (they actually did get 11th Hour's spare mast) and got it fitted just in time, arriving in Aarhus just a day before the start. The other teams provided logistical support as well, apparently. Of course, the team is dead last, but it's awesome to see that the competitors help each other - of course, with such a tiny fleet, it's in everyone's interest that it stays complete to provide good racing.

Finally, a bonus picture: the most beautiful sailboat on "display", even if it was just a private boat going back and forth for hours. :D
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The boats are awesome, but the helming in this case was not, sadly:

OUCH. :( For those who don't know the rules, it is a clear cut case, Team Guyot coming from the left had to give way to 11th Hour Racing (the point-of-view boat of the video), but failed to see them*.
Guyot skipper Benjamin Dutreux immediately assumed responsibility. In another video, footage from Guyot's onboard reporter confirms that by the time they could see the other boat, it was basically five seconds or less to crashing.

This crash, while fortunately not causing any injuries, catapulted both boats out of the race. So, second-placed Team Holcim-PRB basically only needs to get to the finish in Genova to win the race. Unless... the protest filed by 11th Hour is awarded with redress in form of some points; Apparently, awarding a boat that's caused to retire by a crash that's not their fault being awarded "average points" is not unheard of in the sport. In any case, the Ocean Race 2023 will now be decided by the sporting authorities, not on the water (unless Holcim-PRB manages to not reach the finish line as well). And that is a shame, regardless of wht the decision will be.

11th Hour has a lengthy story on their website about how they experienced this. It's a sad read.

* You steer a sailboat sitting on the windward side so you can see forward past the sails, which are of course on the leeward side. Unfortunately, this creates a huge blind spot looking forward and to lee (therefore another crew member should keep a lookout there, but these boats are short on crew under the rules of the race, so no boat did that).
Under Racing Rules of Sailing, this accident is clearly the fault of Guyot. Under normal, non-racing rules, I'd say 11th Hour maneuvred right into the path of Guyot (therefore forfeiting their right of way by maneuvering) and also their "last ditch" attempt to avoid the collision was far too late, especially given the known-to-them difficult maneuverability of both boats - these IMOCAs are made to go fast in a straight line, not to turn quickly. But this was racing, and they had every reason to assume that Guyot would a) be aware of their presence and b) about to tack to port (make a left turn) anyway as that was the way where the race course went. To be clear, that's my assessment under the inapplicable assumption of "civilian traffic rules", I'm not blaming Charlie Enright on the helm of 11th Hour in any way.
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