Susie Goodall Pitchpoled

Most everybody interested in offshore sailing knows that Susie Goodall was pitchpoled on December 5th in her Rustler 36 while competing in the Golden Globe 2018.

And I’m sure many of you spent the next two days, as Phyllis and I did, checking the Golden Globe site, Facebook, and Twitter, for fragments of news about the rescue of this wonderful and adventurous woman. And then, like us, celebrated when the wonderful news that she was safe aboard a cargo ship came through.

As always happens with these sorts of things, within minutes of the news the speculation started about what happened, particularly since the GG 2018 release stated that:

…she said that before the incident, she had been enjoying the conditions and felt in control. But then the safety tube on her Monitor self-steering broke and she was forced to trail a drogue anchor astern and take down the mainsail.

She was below decks when the boat was pitchpoled, and when she returned on deck to assess the damage, found that the line attached to the drogue had parted.

I did a little investigation the morning after and it turns out that Susie had sourced three storm survival devices over the last couple of years:

Here’s my source for the last two.

I was not able to find out which of the above she was using when she was pitchpoled, or even which she had aboard, although I think there was a mention of using the sea anchor after the dismasting. Hopefully Susie will be able to tell us more.

And if it was the series drogue built by Ocean Brake, we will need to really dig into what broke and make sure there is not a potential weak spot at the bridle-to-drogue join.

The good news is that Angus and Ocean Brake have a great track record of learning from problems and improving their product, so I’m sure that if Susie was using their drogue they will be all over this looking for clues to what happened.

Here’s what Angus had to say in an email I received from him on the 6th in answer to my enquires:

I sold Susie her drogue a few years back now. It was a fairly standard 116 cone drogue, with 5m bridles and soft eyes inboard and outboard. I haven’t heard from her since.

We always splice with a very long tuck, at least 60cm, so I can’t believe that they have failed. I haven’t seen any images yet, but possibly there was chafe where the bridles were rubbing against the monitor self steer?

I am looking to do away with conventional double braid bridles from next year and only use dyneema, both from a chafe perspective and also from a weight perspective, but I will be looking into this situation to try and figure out what has happened.

I am incredibly concerned regarding what has happened, there is no reason why a drogue (or set of bridles) should have failed in “only” 60kts of wind.

That’s all I know right now and, further, I think it would be a waste of my time and yours to speculate about the causes until we have more information from Susie.

We also need to go into this realizing that we may never know what happened for sure. That said, if she was using the Ocean Brake series drogue, lack of real data won’t stop some people using this incident to claim that the series drogue designed by Don Jordan doesn’t work, even though putting a single incident with incomplete information ahead of hundreds of successful deployments, and solid science, is an epic failure of rational thought.

To those nay sayers I say “gotta better idea”? One thing the Golden Globe 2018 has proved for sure, is that the answer to that question is a resounding “no”.


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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

50 comments… add one
  • Scott A Dec 8, 2018, 1:11 pm

    Hi John,

    The references you make to Susie’s drogue/anchor parting (whatever drogue that might have been) were confusing until I backtracked and read the GGR source article. It might be clearer if you added something specifically about the parting earlier in the post.

    I’m definitely eager to learn more facts about the incident, and look forward to any further posts you make on the subject.

    Best regards,

    • John Dec 9, 2018, 8:31 am

      Hi Scott,

      Good point, thanks. I have fixed it now.

  • Jojo Dec 8, 2018, 7:34 pm

    Just listened to Don’s latest question and answer video and he confirmed that it was a series drogue that Suzie was streaming. He also suggested that it could have caused the pitch pôle by slowing the boat down too much, on a very steep wave!
    Everything I have read from people using a JSD in the southern ocean goes against this comment!
    But he also said that Robbin Knox Johnson was doing a review of all the issues boats have had in the GGR and would writer a report.
    So maybe it will all become clear. My fear is that this accident will fuel the debate!
    But so very very happy that Suzie was rescued successful!
    Thanks for writing this article.

    • Ernest Dec 9, 2018, 6:46 am

      Hi Jojo,
      I’d be interested in this video but failed to find it on the net – do you have a link?
      And at least as far as I am concerned I simply cannot envision the mechanics where the boat would pitchpole (i.e. stern over bow) because being “slowed down too much” simply because any drogue that is “slowing the boat down” will exert a force to the stern pulling it aftwarth-downwarth. I still believe that a drogue which is parting at the very wrong moment can induce an immediate acceleration resulting in a pitchploing event, but not the other way round. There is simply no mechanical model that would support this.

      • John Dec 9, 2018, 8:58 am

        Hi Ernest,

        I agree, to me anyway, any other theory is a failure of rational thinking.

    • John Dec 9, 2018, 8:57 am

      Hi JoJo,

      Yes, that comment makes no sense to me either, when seen through the prism of the wave science done by Jordan and the Wolfson unit before him. To me is a classic example of Number 8.

  • Peter Dec 9, 2018, 7:37 am

    Dear John,
    I agree with you that the JSD is probably the best overall hope for keeping out of trouble. However, if I may politely observe, the unswerving enthusiasm you display for the device followed immediately by the disclosure that its producers make a significant regular contribution to your website, doesn’t look good vis-a-vis keeping an open mind on these things! There are always new angles to discover.

    • John Dec 9, 2018, 9:12 am

      Hi Peter,

      I agree that the mix is unfortunate. But then surely it’s better for me to be honest about the potential problem, rather than hide it? Also Phyllis and I are hoping to eventually get rid of all corporate membership, which was part of the reason for the recent price increase, although we can’t do that yet and remain viable.

      All that said, I can assure you that I would not allow $600/year to influence my thinking. They say everyone has a price, but mine is way higher than that!

      Rather my unwavering enthusiasm is simply based on the science; and the experience of people like Tony, Trevor, and Suzanne. Both together show that the JSD simply works.

      That said, I agree about keeping an open mind to new options. But all I’m hearing right now, particularly around the GGR2018 camp is a lot of intuition based stuff.

      What I would really like to see would be a new study at say the Wolfson Unit at Southampton University coupled with systematic, tabulated, interviews of those who have used the JSD. The latter is something we have tried to do here at AAC—see later chapters in the online books.

  • Dick Stevenson Dec 9, 2018, 8:05 am

    Hi Peter,
    I would think that you might consider John’s being clear of this contribution to his web site as evidence of his good faith effort to be as objective as possible.
    I believe it to be nigh on impossible, in our world, not to have apparent bias and probably impossible not to have actual bias. That said, I also think it is quite possible to approach objectiveness and fairness. Part of the path toward fairness objectiveness is being clear where your own biases might creep in and keep a weather eye on them. Another is to be transparent in a manner that invites others to look over your shoulder and to point out areas where bias might have played a part.
    In both these areas, I believe that John has done well.
    My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

  • Philip Waterman Dec 9, 2018, 10:45 am

    However well founded the series drogue systems might be, one wonders how they cope with an extreme event; so called “rogue waves” (not a helpful term to my mind). Such events have been shown to be a statistical certainty, even in the absence of exacerbating currents or subsea topographical features. Moreover, satellite observations have shown them to occur far more often than one might think.

    Such extreme statistical events are not just categorised by wave height but also by wave shape and direction. Even a 5m high wave with a short wavelength, near vertical slope and moving in a direction different to the prevailing seas is going to ruin someones day.

    One can envisage the situation where the JSD is doing its job keeping the vessel correctly orientated and at a controlled speed relative to the predominant wave train and then a curve-ball wave screws things up.

    Such waves are likely to be very short lived as their energy gets sapped by the predominant wave train. If you encounter such a wave you are therefore extremely unlucky. (So I guess that we can all carry on sailing?)

    I have no idea whether such an event contributed to Susie Goodall’s predicament however, it is a possibility.

    More worrying is that there have been 20 retirements from the Golden Globe (so far!). At least three dismastings, two vessels with severe rigging damage and several debilitating injuries to various skippers, all incurred during repeated knock-downs.

    So have they all been unlucky in encountering “rogue waves”? I doubt it!

    Perhaps these results highlight how much modern navigation systems, weather and sea state forecasting, and autopilots contribute to our safety at sea (all such niceties are forbidden in the Golden Globe – except in an emergency). When you look at the low retirement rates in the Volvo Ocean series and other techfest sailing extravaganzas, even though vessels are highly stressed, one can surmise that knowing where the next gust is coming from and the sea state a mile ahead is a boon.

    As an addendum:

    Some sources define a rogue wave as one that is double the significant wave height. If I remember correctly, some observations indicate that waves do occur that are double the height of the next highest wave in 24h period. That is high!

    I believe that jury is out on the exact physics behind such events. I suspect that a combination of linear supposition, non-linear effects, chaos theory (look out for that flying fish plunging in to the big swell!), etc, etc. will just generate an unsolvable differential equation which in any case wont help you if you are blatting along in the South Atlantic.

    • John Dec 9, 2018, 1:12 pm

      Hi Philip,

      Some interesting thoughts, thank you. I too am thinking a lot about the implications of not letting the the GGR racers get modern weather information.

      The good news is that Don Jordan specifically engineered the JSD to deal with exactly that: rogue waves. That’s where it excels as has been proven by multiple no-drama Southern Ocean transits while using it.

      See this article for more:

      • Philip Waterman Dec 9, 2018, 2:00 pm

        Thanks John. I had seen the “no rogue waves” article.

        Perhaps I have a slightly different view of what is a rogue wave. The wave event, for want of a better term, may be extremely localised, perhaps a few hundred metres across or less; essentially an isolated mountainous peak and not a wave in the true sense. It may be momentarailly stationary or perhaps moving even at right angles to the prevailing wave train.

        If a series drogue is “dug in” to the prevailing wave train perhaps (and hopefully) several wavelengths worth, and a significant “mountain’ comes in abeam, the drogue will prevent the vessel from coming around to surf down the unexpected gradient. In these circumstance I feel that the vessel could get rolled and with the yaw, one side of the bridal might be fatally overloaded.

        Don’t get me wrong, I am talking about an extremely unlikely and unlucky event in which any storm tactic would probably not be effective. I am a firm believer in the JSD et al in every respect. It is just to make the point that Mother Nature can always come up with something, however unlikely, that will overpower any best intentioned preventative measure.

        When we hear of such events we should clearly look to learn from them. My view is that we should never denigrate a system, JSD or other, because it appears to have failed, as we don’t truly know what Mother Nature had in mind at the time.

        I apologise. This probably not the thread for such metaphysical discussions. But Susie Goodall’s and the other GGR skippers’ experiences are rather thought provoking.

        • John Dec 9, 2018, 2:31 pm

          Hi Philip,

          Lots of good points. I think you would find Jordan’s original research of interest, particularly since he investigated exactly the idea that a wave could be at right angles to the existing wave train and concluded that the wave science proved pretty conclusively that that scenario is an illusion, rather than a reality.

          A second optical illusion is that a dangerous breaking wave comes from a direction different from the prevailing wind and sea. The report of the Investigating Comm. for the Hobart Sydney disaster states “Exceptional waves were responsible for inflicting the damage or causing severe knockdown to yachts. These waves were 20 to 100% larger than the prevailing seas and came from a direction other than the prevailing wave pattern”.

          From physical considerations it is virtually impossible for a breaking storm wave to approach from a significantly different direction. Breaking waves are formed by the wind and by the addition of the energy of the smaller waves that they overtake. If a wave moved across a series of smaller waves it would lose all its energy in turbulence. We have many aerial views of the sea surface in the Sydney Hobart storm. If a large wave had moved across the smaller waves we would see a white streak running across all the other streaks. There is no such a streak. What actually happens is that if the boat is lying at some angle to the prevailing sea as the breaking wave approaches, the action of this wave yaws the boat until it is abeam. This yawing motion is not observed by the skipper and he thinks the wave direction has changed, whereas it is the boat that has moved. It is true, however, that the waves that caused the damage were “exceptional”

          The science certanly works for me. Of coure you will have to decide if you find it equally compelling:

          And for a really deep dive:

        • Stein Varjord Dec 12, 2018, 8:04 pm

          Hi Philip and John.
          For whatever it’s worth, I’ve actually observed the type of “rogue wave” that arrives at a significant angle to the main wave pattern twice.

          One time was zero drama, as I was not in a boat but rather bathing and the weather was nice but windy. Location was the north tip of Denmark in southwesterly wind. The spot goes into a very narrow tip aligned with that normal wind direction, which continues in a sand ridge under water. The main waves were on the western side, coming in along the beach and the direction aligning with the land tip. The wind was maybe 25 knots and there were also proper waves on the east “inside” of the land tip. These were at an angle with the waves on the west side, since waves and wind adjusted to the shore line on both sides.

          The waves were fairly big and they got very steep approaching the shallow ridge. At the shallowest point, they met the smaller waves from the east side at an angle of maybe 30-40 degrees. Mostly, this resulted in the waves cancelling each other some, but the bigger waves from the west would clearly dominate in the beginning. One could see them as well rounded swell quite far eastwards, under the smaller waves there.

          The interesting stuff with “freak waves” happened just east of the shallow. Completely out of the blue there would be huge mountains rising straight up. Some were 3-4 times the height of the average of the bigger west side wave train. We would actually try to be at the location when one happened, but without proper success. These waves were not really waves though. They just shot up from “nothing”, really high, and then just disappeared in seconds. They didn’t move any direction and didn’t break. They seemed to have spent all their energy in the vertical jump. In a boat with bigger versions of this, I actually think they wouldn’t be dangerous, but very scary, though.

          The only really dangerous offshore storm I’ve experienced, off Portugal about 20 years ago, steady around 60 knots of wind gusting way more, insanely huge waves. It’s impossible to guess wave height, but we agreed that when we were on any wave top, the next top was at least 100-150 meters away. They were mostly breaking. Very scary. I’ve never seen anything close to that.

          We didn’t know about JSD. I stayed at the helm for almost 20 hours on a tiny 5,5m2 storm jib, going 15 to 25 knots (light 40 foot catamaran) until we got into Bayona in the north of Spain.

          The wind stayed fairly steady on south, but once in the morning changed about 20 degrees west in just a few minutes. Since the wind was still very strong, the new direction got its own big waves within half an hour or so, while the original waaaay bigger waves continued rolling north.

          I assume many others have experienced a 20 degree wind change or more in heavy weather, so no surprises here, but the effect of the changed wind direction was almost immediate. The huge waves turned into well rounded swell, no tendency to break anymore, and the general conditions were considerably less dramatic. Rapidly, the new waves were also very big, although far from the previous insanely big ones.

          There was interaction between the old and new waves, especially a couple of hours after the change. It was way less dramatic than the effects I saw in Denmark, although the dimensions were way bigger, of course. I did kinda recognise it somewhat in that the highest peaks seemed to have lost their energy and speed and didn’t seem to break very often. Since we were deep reaching on starboard tack to get to harbour, our course got to be so that the swell came noticeably from starboard side while the newer waves were closer to straight aft. This made “never ending “ down hills and quite insane surfing speeds.

          Even when being targeted by a new wave on top of a swell wave or even worse, at the front of the swell, it didn’t seem to make much of a difference in wave energy. The dimensions got impressive and the angles got scary, but we saw no possibility of walls of water coming from other directions than the wind direction. The combination of wave directions was actually not a considerable problem. The risk of flipping was only from the waves going along the wind.

          So my take on it, so far:
          As long as there is wind, the dangerous waves will all be fairly aligned with it.
          There might be monsters from other directions, but they look scarier than they are.
          Non aligned monsters seem to have have low energy and live only seconds.

          Scary scenarios I haven’t experienced, that I don’t know how to solve:
          No wind and extreme waves, like the eye of a hurricane.
          Opposing strong wind and strong current, causing extreme breaking waves, like in the Gulf Stream.

          • Philip Waterman Dec 13, 2018, 6:29 am

            So……playing devils advocate……I don’t agree with these two statements:

            “A second optical illusion is that a dangerous breaking wave comes from a direction different from the prevailing wind and sea”

            “From physical considerations it is virtually impossible for a breaking storm wave to approach from a significantly different direction”

            With all due respect to Don Jordan, in the last 30-years the modelling of how oceanic waves develop and interact has evolved. I doubt that much of underlying maths has changed. After all, Schrödinger was touting his stuff long before then. Chaos theory has advanced somewhat but mostly it is Moore’s Law has obviated the need for the simplifications that were essential in the 80s.

            In the day, models were primarily simple harmonic and based on the damping effect of gravity and the energy input by the wind augmented by empirical studies. Moreover, for simplicity it was probably assumed that there was a reasonably constant fetch.

            Such models are still valid for oceanic wave prediction and are probably the source for generating commonly available wave GRIBS, which to be clear are remarkably accurate on a macro scale. However, I understand that there is now an appreciation of the potential effects of non-linear and chaotic inputs.

            Consider a typical low pressure system. It will be rotating and therefore the wind direction will vary through 360 degrees across the weather system. The wind speeds will vary depending on the pressure gradient plus the additive/subtractive effects of the velocity with which the system is moving. At sea level the winds will also depend on the convectional air currents, the surface conditions, etc. etc. That is to say that across the weather system, the surface of the sea will be subjected to a wide range of time varying wind speeds and directions. The wave frequency, amplitude and direction spectra from each point in the system and at each point in time will be very complex.

            As the speed of wave propagation is frequency (wavelength) dependent, dispersion will ensure that the longest wavelengths, which correspond to the strongest winds and/or longest fetches and therefore the biggest amplitudes, will travel most rapidly away from the storm system. One might think that this relatively uniform primary component (all-be-it with its statistical highs, lows and interference patterns) is all we have to worry about when sailing. However, the storm system is moving. It may be moving faster than the propagation speed of the fastest waves, and almost certainly faster than a typical sailboat. On its way, each point in the system will be spewing off its divers wave spectra.

            With dispersion, the waves experienced by the vessel at any one point will be the combination of waves from different points in the storm system and from different times during its passage. For example, the vessel may be experiencing the smaller wavelength, lower speed waves from when the centre of the system was at a bearing of 160 degrees mixed with the larger wavelength higher speed waves from when the system centre had advanced to a bearing of 100 degrees. This of course this will apply to all of the dispersing wave spectra from each point in the system and throughout its entire track. (Now there’s an an interesting finite element analysis that would warrant some time on China’s Sunway TaihuLight 200 petaflop supercomputer!)

            The vessel may only see/feel the dominant component at any one time, perhaps with more and more confusion as the dispersed wave trains interfere. Nevertheless, the complexity of all of these different wave amplitudes, velocities and frequencies arriving together could give rise to the non-linear and chaotic conditions that create a statistically rare extreme event.

            No doubt someone will point out that as the waves are arriving broadly from the same quadrant or from the same two quadrants, it would be impossible to generate a wave at right angles to the dominant component due to the needs to conserve momentum, However, I hypothesise that a “momentary mountainous event”, might not be carrying significant momentum to break any conservation rules. It will of course be carrying a massive amount of potential energy. The interfering waves are at liberty to exchange their kinetic and potential energies without infringing any fundamental conservation rules.

            Through this hopefully logical conjecture I merely wish to reiterate my previous point that we should not denigrate a system that works 99.999999% of the time just because Mother Nature is capable of some extreme, unpredictable and impossible to model scenarios.

            Even of we had time on China’s Sunway TaihuLight 200 petaflop supercomputer and could accurately calculate that at a particular moment 100 miles due south of Cape Horn there was a 1:1000000 chance of an exceptional momentary mountainous event, it wouldn’t stop people racing.

          • John Dec 13, 2018, 8:25 am

            Hi Philip,

            Interesting and well argued. I will leave it at that, since I simply don’t have the skills to discuss wave theory intelligently.

            That said, I totally agree that writing off a system as not effective because there might be a situation where it would fail makes no sense at all.

            For example, a bunch of people have claimed that the JSD would not have worked in the storm that capsized two GGR 2018 commentators and badly injured one of them. But in so doing they completely ignored the fact that Suzanne was in the same storm, very close to these two, but with a JSD out, and had no problems at all. Or that Trevor and Tony have sailed the same waters using a JSD and have never been capsized.

            So, while I’m a great believer in the application of science to these things in a logical way (as you have done) it drives me up the wall when the unqualified use unproven “science” to run down a proven solution to a problem.

          • John Dec 13, 2018, 8:10 am

            Hi Stein,

            That all makes sense to me. Your experience also demonstrates something I believe to be fundamental: There are two ways to survive a really bad blow with breaking waves, either slow down (JSD) or go like hell. That said, the big problem is when skippers select the second and either don’t have the steering stamina and skills to make it work, or when they try it on a boat that is fundamentally slow, like those in the GGR 2018.

            Bottom line, trying fast boat techniques on slow boats is a very bad idea. On the other hand, on a boat like your cat with a strong crew, going fast can be very safe, as Open 60s and Volvo boats demonstrate all the time.

          • JCFlander Dec 13, 2018, 6:36 pm

            Hi John et al.,

            I also have a problem on dismissing experienced sailor’s observations about “breaking waves coming from right angles” as optical illusions. And, yes, I don’t have anything concrete to back this up. This is just a hunch that there is more on this thing.
            Then again, Don Jordan is right about wave friction, but I believe on that time rotary core stormclouds and thunderbursts were not yet on the discussion. Namely, Micro/macrobursts push huge amount of energy to sea surface very quickly, and they might also be the source of irregular wavefronts.
            S/Y Destiny’s report from 1994 Queen’s birthday storm has some discussion of thunderbursts:

            Second thing: Isn’t the most common JSD failure mode, so far, been bridle entanglement with wind vane gear, and subsequent parting?


          • John Dec 14, 2018, 9:25 am

            Hi JC,

            As I understand it, Jordan was applying basic wave theory in fluids (an area well understood at the time he was working) when he stated that two wave trains coming from different directions to create a very large wave was an illusion. If he is right about that, then new understanding of weather is not going to make a difference to the basics he was relying on. I’m certainly not qualified to be any sort of judge in this, but I would be surprised if an aero engineer of Jordan’s experience and standing turned out to be wrong about something that fundamental.

            (He also confirmed that very large waves do happen but that the modality is different from that commonly assumed.)

            And yes, I agree, entanglement in a vane gear is a problem that needs solving. That said, while I have heard of several vane gears damaged by a JSD bridle line, I have not heard of any JSD failures from this modality. Or to take it a step further, the number of verified JSD failures are vanishingly small. (Yes, we have had cone degradation—fixed mow—but as far as I know, none have resulted in capsize.)

  • Chris Dec 9, 2018, 11:45 am

    This story stirred some deep emotions in me this morning, partly due to sheer empathy for the sailor, but also because I was there in that part of the ocean when I encountered severe conditions. If there’s any ego left in you by the time you hit the Southern Ocean it’ll all be gone by the time she’s done with you. It’s a Godforsaken, soul-crushing place that leaves scars for life. An anonymous poet once said, it is such a desolate place, even God is scarce.
    I was sailing in a Halvorsen Freya 39, a well-founded, ocean-going yacht specifically built for the Southern Ocean. I remember sitting in the cockpit, watching incredibly large waves rolling from behind, hypnotized by the sheer size and mass of water, liquid-moving mountains rushing towards South America. Antarctica is on the starboard side, another bone-chilling vision of ice, high winds and desolation.
    Truth is, our boats were never meant to sail those seas. Yes, it’s been done to the credit of all those legendary sailors and their incredible skill and endurance, but it’s always been a Don Quixote undertaking, part romance, part insanity. I feel really sorry for all the casualties of the GGR this year, it is unfortunate, but the fact is that fortune has much to do with the outcome of such a race, and that should tell us what we need to learn from this, that the forces at play here are way too powerful for us to control in any way. All the safety equipment and preparation in the world will not do a thing for us when that Southern Ocean is up. This is Everest horizontal, and the Southern Ocean is what they call in mountaineering the Death Zone. It will always capture our imagination, and there will always be people who for various reasons will attempt to take on the challenge, but there will always be casualties and losses.
    I’m happy to hear Susie is alright. She’s a brave young woman who showed a lot of strength and tenacity in a place that has brought many a sailor on their knees. I for one chickened out and veered north to the warm embrace of the South Pacific.

  • Steve Hodges Dec 9, 2018, 1:59 pm

    Comment 901 in the Cruiser’s Forum thread on the GGR brings up an interesting point regarding the JSD and shock loading that can occur when too little weight is attached.

    Of course I have no idea if this applies to the failure of Susie Goodall’s JSD (reportedly at its attachment to the bridle) but perhaps that will be addressed in some future ‘after-action’ damage assessment.

    • John Dec 9, 2018, 4:45 pm

      Hi Steve,

      Now that’s the most plausible theory I have heard yet.

      I can certainly see how a very light weight, or no weight at all, would allow the JSD to get a bunch of slack in it and generally get in a loose mess on the surface, and then when the big one comes the boat will be in full flight down the wave face when the drogue suddenly loads up. Nothing is going to withstand a shock load like that so the drogue then parts off, and the boat heads on down the wave face at speed to the inevitable capsize.

      Of course we can’t know if that’s what happened, but it’s the only idea I have heard yet that fits the facts, or at least the facts as we know them so far.

  • RDE Dec 9, 2018, 6:01 pm

    Hi everybody,
    If readers would like a close up look at a proper smallish and by no means modern and trendy boat designed for the high latitudes, follow Taunoi/Mo as she makes her third single handed rounding of Cape Horn in the care of Randall Reeves. Tough aluminum boat with tens of thousands of sea miles under her keel.

    He happened to be in the same patch of ocean as the Globe boats. The videos from a four day gale are worth the price of admission! As are his extensive accounts of repairs, tactics, and what works on a boat being tested by a 40,000 mile non-stop voyage.

    re “can the Southern Ocean be sailed safely in a small boat?” People seem to forget that the Pardey’s sailed their 30′ wooden cutter around Cape Horn the Wrong Way and up home to New Zealand. Certainly a tribute to Larry’s seamanship. They pulled it off by sitting in harbor until just the right weather situation enabled them to round the Horn to stbd. with a spinnaker up!

    I was guest sailing in Port Townsed by on an exact replica of their famous 24 footer when an inexperienced person at the helm managed to put the spreaders in the water in a 30 knot gust. I’ve never been a fan of heavy boats with fat sterns and narrow entry bows ever since! And I’m totally in awe of anyone who could round Cape Horn in one!

  • Drew Frye Dec 12, 2018, 12:36 am

    The JSD rode could have been either nylon or polyester, but not Dyneema, as stated in the notice of race. That puts a practical upper limit on fatigue life.

    • John Dec 12, 2018, 8:20 am

      Hi Drew,

      Good point. That said, I don’t think fatigue was the problem. Trevor (and others) have used the same JSD rodes for years and many long deployments in the Southern Ocean without trouble. The main reason Angus likes Dyneema is it’s resistance to chafe (me too).

      The best theory I have head on what happened is this one:

      Also, I think that if there is ever going to be another running of the GGR, the organizers are going to need to think seriously about relaxing some of their restrictions, particularly where safety is concerned. (I simply can’t see the authorities allowing another demolition derby like this one.)

      • drew Dec 13, 2018, 4:54 pm

        If I am following the reference correctly, what we are suggesting is that allowing the line to go slack reacts a shock load. This is actually more subtle than it seems, which would explain why it is overlooked. But mind you that this is VERY closely related to fatigue.

        The JSD cannot apply a huge shock load. With only 115 cones, anything over 1 ton is nearly impossible. The JSD will merely rip through the water. It is not like a sea anchor or ground anchor.

        However, the fatigue life of nylon is greatly influenced by the nature of the cycle. It will last several times longer when cycled between 1% and 10 % than between slack and 10%. I researched this (and encourage you to also) when exploring dock lines some years ago. It seems that just as important as minimizing shock loading is eliminating slack. It has something to do with how the fibers coil and uncoil at zero load. If you want your dock lines to last, it really helps to use a light line to keep them from going completely loose. Did she have too little weight? We will know this at some point. Was there something in the crossing patterns of waves that resulted in slack? I’ve seen a lot of weird waves and not even going to hazard a guess. Maybe. Maybe not.

        Which leads us to another problem that folks should be aware of. Long bridles are generally good; they provide more turning force. BUT several investigators have suggested that the apex angle should never be less than about 45 degrees, because yawing in chaotic waves causes single leg loading, and even worse, slack in that leg. A nylon leg that goes slack and then re-loads may only last 1/2 as long as one that always has some tension. This affects sea anchor rodes as well; constant tension is much better than cycling.

        Yeah, You may be onto something. I also wonder if this reasoning (if it proves accurate) will hasten the move away from nylon rodes for JSDs and drogues in general (not parachute sea anchors–different math). I used polyester for most of my testing, because nylon caused too many instabilities (a drogue that pulls out of a wave face will snap forward due to recoil).

        • John Dec 14, 2018, 9:10 am

          Hi Drew,

          That’s all interesting thinking. Since Don Jordan specifically stated that there was no benefit to having spring in the drogue line I think you may easily be right in thinking that we will, and should, see a move away from nylon, at least for the bridles.

      • RDE Dec 14, 2018, 12:48 am

        Brian Hancock recently wrote an article for Anarchy where he stated that Don Mcintire has been “coaching” some competitors to take avoiding action by sailing south or north to avoid storms that he can observe on weather reporting but the competitors are banned from using. Sounds like weather routing to me. Perhaps the organizers are concerned that this Globe will only have one finisher like the original race!

        In a world where being PC and gender neutral is an overwhelming concern of so many (while ignoring the oncoming climate disaster and species extinction events) being PC is sometimes a difficult path to walk.

        I appreciated Hancock’s comment that a single handed circumnavigation on a 100′ trimaran was less risky than doing the Globe on a Rustler 36.

        • Stein Varjord Dec 14, 2018, 5:44 am

          Hi Richard.
          I’ve seen several references to what you mention about weather routing from the GGR headquarters. In the last phone talk with Mark Slats, he mentions how that has been practiced and that the exact info on weather systems as a thing he wishes he could have access to, rather than just getting safety routing advice. That would, however, be an important breach of the essence of the race: The same tech as 50 years ago. Bringing digital cameras is also forbidden, but wouldn’t really make a difference to that core principles.

          The question might be, why is it so interesting to make it old fashioned? Is it only nostalgia? I don’t think so. I think the core is that we love the purity of it. The essence of long distance sailing. I think that’s some of the reason why solo sailing in general is also so fascinating. Not only that it’s impressive, but rather that it’s the real deal, no “cheating”. It makes the individual stand out. It makes it easier to identify with the sailor.

          If that is the reason, maybe one could device somewhat different rules. Maybe the situation of equipment 50 years ago isn’t really relevant or interesting? Why then not 200 years ago, or 2000? Maybe a one design more modern boat, specially developed for the race, better suited to the task, same boat for all, maybe even smaller than now, but much faster, not a sitting duck. Still a very simple strong boat. Still zero external assistance, but maybe more available knowledge?

          I know that PC can mean personal computer, but I have a hunch that’s not what you mean here. Having a non English mother tongue is sometimes a disadvantage…

          • John Dec 14, 2018, 10:34 am

            Hi Stein,

            I too have been thinking a lot about how to save the GGR race so that there will be future races.

            One thought. As far as I know Don McIntyre has no meteorological or routing qualifications. And in addition, it seems likely from his writing that he is biased toward some competitors. Therefore it’s possible that said bias could lead to better routing for some than others. Also, where does storm avoidance end and race advantage routing start? Given all these problems, clearly a different system is required if the race is run again.

          • Stein Varjord Dec 14, 2018, 11:06 am

            Hi John,
            Ive also noticed a seemingly biased tone in Don MacIntyres stuff, sometimes, but I still think it’s a way to show emotions and support to the ones in focus at any given time, kinda riding the attention wave, not actual preference of some participant. However innocent, I think that’s still probably not an ideal strategy. To get absolutely no doubt, there must be no possibility to make unevenness. Giving all participants continuous access to the weather info necessary to make safety or strategic choices, would do that.

            I really hope there will be a next race. I think the GGR is very close to a format that is totally missing today. The heroic and grand scale of a solo round the world race that is available to anybody with stamina. Old fashioned tech isn’t the core value. Small boats is the core, together with the relatively low cost non pro racing ambiance. We have plenty of amazing sailing with the big boats. I love that, but it’s a bit too uniform, in its extreme speeds, extreme tech and extreme costs. The GGR is refreshingly human.

          • John Dec 14, 2018, 5:59 pm

            Hi Stein,

            I agree that the GGR is worth saving. That said, I think doing so is going to take a more open minded attitude to changes and outside ideas than the organizers have exhibited to date. For example, if they don’t get the capsize problem under control in a realistic way I think they are probably all done.

            A good model for them to think about would be the way the open 60 class solved their keel separation problem using good engineering that arrived at a bullet proof standard keel. The equivalent would be to run a kickstarter to fund the Wolfson unit to do a real study of the problem and propose solutions—gonna bet they will come up with a JSD look-alike.

          • RDE Dec 14, 2018, 9:42 pm

            Hi Stein
            PC = Politically Correct.
            In the US it’s reached the point where people who work in the same office are afraid of engaging in normal human interaction and mating rituals for fear of being sued and fired.

            At the same time our exalted “leaders” have no hesitancy about buying whores and bribing them to keep their mouths shut while the wife carries on with baby production. Or in the case of the Clinton Couple, flying (17 times!) on a convicted pedophile’s jet to a private island in the Caribbean stocked with underage girls.

            Political Correctness is for the little people.

            I’m sure glad you don’t have similar problems in Europe.

          • John Dec 15, 2018, 7:58 am

            Hi Richard,

            Let’s not go down the road of political commentary. This is just not the place for it, and I fear it will lead to a forum type yelling match.

          • Ernest Dec 14, 2018, 9:48 pm

            RDE – well, unfortunately we do have similar types of “politicians”, and similar types of problems. Just not with such worldwide consequences. At the moment…

            Lets get back to sailing.

          • Stein Varjord Dec 15, 2018, 7:53 am

            Hi Richard,
            We do have some of the same in Europe, but perhaps with a more relaxed attitude. There’s virtually no risk of being sued, since the court system isn’t (yet) quite as focussed on harvesting money.

            Politicall correctness is however an issue for personal credibility, and some of the basic issues are good ones. Gender inequality and racism, for instance, are definitely still active diseases. Since they’ve been around so long and are so integrated in our mind sets, maybe we need some exaggeration to get rid of the shit? The beeps when anyone says a “bad” word is weird though. Seems like fake niceness, which can be defined as being worse than the beeped word. Dual standards, like you mention when exploiting underage or other women while promoting “Christian values”.

            There are several political figures in several countries, also the Netherlands where I live and Norway where I come from, with attitudes somewhat resembling a certain president. None of those are in real power, but the trend is going towards populism, selfishness and stupidity here too. It seems to be a worldwide trend.

            Some years ago I worked with importing fancy bicycles to Norway. We were 8 people in the company and one girl. Sports is a very male dominated business, so the (very pretty and sharp) girl was frequently asked by customers and others if she didn’t feel sexually targeted or harassed. Her answer was always: “Yes. Of course. Both. Otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered working here.” So, political correctness can be handled several ways. 🙂

            I couldn’t let go of this, but now I’ll get back to sailing correctness. 🙂

          • RDE Dec 15, 2018, 10:56 am

            John & Stein
            I agree: Let’s go sailing and leave the political BS in the dirt where it belongs.

        • John Dec 14, 2018, 10:02 am

          Hi Richard,

          I totally agree on the last point. Watching an open 60 at 25 knots in the Southern Ocean looks scary, but in reality they are taking far less risk that the GG 2018 participants. And I also agree that this whole routing, or not, thing in the GG is worrying.

  • Terry Thatcher Dec 13, 2018, 10:17 pm

    Off topic, but I hope you will also review and report on the dismasting and loss of the Beneteau 55.1 off Cape Hatteras. Kind of design you rightly criticize for offshore work. Thanks.

  • Terry Thatcher Dec 14, 2018, 7:13 pm

    Mentioned in most recent Inside Practical Sailor Blog

  • Bob McDowell Dec 15, 2018, 7:25 am

    Does anyone know the route that was taken in the original race. Was it as far south? As the weather patterns may have changed (unfortunately I am trying to be PC here and I am not very good at it) are a series of “gates” needed to keep the participants out of the most dangerous waters/conditions? Slightly controversial?

    Crash (an old nickname my brother reminded me of last night! Unfortunately, possibly well earned!)

    • John Dec 15, 2018, 8:02 am

      Hi Bob,

      The original route was simply a circumnavigation leaving the three great capes—Good Hope, Leeuwin, and Cape Horn to port. In the current race, they have exclusion zones to stop the competitors going too far south to shorten the distance.

  • Bob McDowell Dec 15, 2018, 9:20 am

    Ok, let me rephrase… Did the sailors in the original race actually sail as far south?

    • John Dec 15, 2018, 12:57 pm

      Hi Bob,

      I don’t know for sure, but given that the great capes of the course constrains things, I’m guessing it was close. For example, the furthest south on the course is required by rounding Cape Horn.

    • Drew Frye Dec 15, 2018, 2:34 pm

      The tracking map shows the course RKJ took. It seems roughly similar.

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