The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Susie Goodall Pitchpoled

Update April 2019: We now know exactly what happened with Susie’s drogue.

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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Scott A

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,


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.


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.

Richard Phillips

Just to confirm – I also saw the video from GGR saying she was using the series drogue. We await the full report to see whether this is confirmed and begin to understand the lessons to be learned.


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.

Dick Stevenson

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

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.

Philip Waterman

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.

Stein Varjord

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

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.


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?



Hi John,
This is a very interesting technical analysis of downwind yacht behavior in heavy following seas: His experience as a designer and circumnavigator leads him to quite different conclusions to that of Don Jordan– at least when it comes to the style of boat that he advocates.

“The most dangerous situation develops in heavy following seas, when the front face of the waves can become overwhelmingly high in relation with the length of the vessel. In this instance, a boat that hasn’t managed to accelerate and outrun the crest can pitch down by the bow severely, and even engage the foredeck in the sea.”

And: “Attempting to tow drogues in heavy weather is a double-edged sword:”

“(1) By increasing drag and overall resistance, a drogue pulls the yacht further up the slope of the wave as it approaches, into a steeper gradient and closer to the broken water of the crest. *
(2) By introducing an additional resistance force located as far aft as practical, the drogue can mitigate or cancel the shift in hydrodynamic resistance towards the forebody of some hulls. This can greatly help with preventing excessive course instability from developing.”

The boat that he created is superficially similar to the A40 design that was developed on this site, but is specifically designed to behave entirely differently than the style boat that has come to grief during the Globe Challenge. It is well worth a look:

*That is why surfers paddling out dive through the wave rather than allowing themselves to be swept “over the falls” by the breaking crest.

Stein Varjord

Hi Richard.
The guy behind Nordkyn seems very experienced and also like a good and thorough thinker. I’ve read several of his articles earlier. Very useful and interesting. Most of this article also fits completely with both my experience and logic. I totally agree that some boats are fundamentally unsafe for going with the weather. That is an important issue, since those boats are typically the old fashioned strong boats seen as very sea worthy, like those in GGR. However, when he at the end shortly mentions JSD and drag devices in general, he doesn’t use his own logic explanations from earlier in the article. That makes the conclusions about drag devices flawed.

As he correctly observes, when hulls not designed for high speed accelerate to speeds way out of their design capacity, the lateral centre of resistance moves very far forward. Since the boat mass is the main driving force at this point, and the centre of that is far behind the centre of resistance, the system becomes very unstable and can only be handled by very active steering. Since the rudder is often operating in white water from the braking waves, the small rudder older designs normally have is left with an impossible task.

The conclusions from this is, as stated on the Nordkyn site, and I agree with, that the boat should be able to plane well or some other strategy is needed. He basically says that the alternative strategy is to not be in that weather with a boat that cannot plane well, because a drag device is a two edged sword and quite a risky undertaking, so its not a suitable alternative. This does not seem to follow neither logic thinking nor observations.

He says that the mentioned unbalance of the poorly planing hull is mitigated by the drag device being attached to the stern, but fails to point out that the main reason for turning it into a stable system is that the drag device removes the speed peaks causing the unbalance. Held at 2 to 5 knots max, the lateral centre of resistance does not move forwards noticeably. The bridle pulling on the stern moves it extremely far aft. Hanging on a JSD, any hull shape is a fundamentally stable system, no matter where in the wave the boat is.

His main issue with a drag device is that it will hold the boaat back so it will experience the portion of the wave where the worst action is. The steepest parts and the breakers. Running with the weather with a good planing boat can avoid this. All true, but I think there are some misunderstandings in this. As mentioned several places in this thread, the water of the waves doesn’t move much, mostly up and down. The motion of the wave is thus to some extent an illusion. This illusion becomes more real in the breaking part, where the actually moving pressure wave is distorted so the water falls down from the broken crest and can then be redirected “forwards” by hitting its own lower part.

This does give the illusion of the whole wave being a moving mass of water, like in a river. This can indeed have destructive force, but it is definitely on the surface and the mass is vastly less than it seems. As also mentioned before, I’ve never used a JSD, but I have run with the weather in insanely big waves and hurricane wind strength with a fast boat. We did get some breakers hitting us when I wasn’t good enough in my predictions to steer away from where they would land. It was very scary and wet, but surprisingly unviolent. It’s a lot of water, but at least just as much air. I’d guess more air than water actually. In those conditions, there’s lots of water in the air all the time, of course.

My point is, as one might have guessed already, that being held back by a drogue to experience the steepest part of the wave, and the breaking part, is probably not such a bad deal. The descriptions from those that have done it supports that. Of course one could argue that there might be a risk that an extreme wave comes that has just too much power. I doubt that the huge waves behave very differently from other waves and would assume that it will only mean being lifted higher.

If we still say this is a real risk of catastrophe, how does this risk hanging on a JSD compare to the risks with running with the weather? Is the latter strategy without risks? Definitely not, of course. There’s a lot higher probability to be exposed to one of the several risks with this. It demands skilled and very active steering, nonstop, until the weather and waves are calm enough. It also demands a lot of distance available to lee. If something goes wrong, like with the steering, which does get a beating, it’s a near certain catastrophe. If the one at the helm makes a mistake, very big risks arrive in seconds. If one gets too tired and theres no one to take over, the solution is easy…… one needs a JSD!


Hi Stein:
Extremely well thought out analysis as usual! As always there are trade offs. I personally am not qualified to decide which approach is best because I haven’t been there and done that. Unfortunately my boat building years outnumber my sailing miles!


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

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.

Drew Frye

Don Jordan recommended 20-50 pounds on the tail, probably in the form of an anchor, depending on the size of the boat. 35 pounds was the suggestion for a boat and drogue the size that Goodall had. On the other hand, Ocean Brake recommends 15-20 pounds of chain. 15-20 pounds of chain is typical for speed limiting drogues.

Chain is handier and safer in rough conditions. I would typically lash a bucket just inside the stern rail and keep the chain portion in that to avoid scratching, which was quite handy. I used chain in my tests (90 cone JSD), but I used 25 feet of 3/8-inch, which is about 35 pounds. If I was going to pack a JSD, I’d figure out 35-50 pounds of chain, if just for handling (the secondary rode leader should be about right–that is what I used). Personally, 15-20 pounds seems light for extreme conditions, but that is more gut feel than engineering analysis. You see, when the wind is really up, the difference between 15-20 and 35-50 pounds seems like a rounding error. I’m not sure that is enough to pull the slack out. Maybe. I just don’t know.

I also tested with less chain (15 feet of 1/4-inch = 11 pounds), to see if the JSD could make an adjustable steering drogue (it stinks for that–long story linked below). It tended to ride near the surface, skip around, and the cones were shredded. I don’t think more weight would have made any difference; the problem was the speed was too high for the design. But I think this could be a really cool evolution if someone could figure it out.

(JSD as steering drogue)

I agree, the required amount of weight should be investigated. The behavior of chaotic waves and the behavior of weighted drogues in such places simply isn’t well understood and I certainly make no such claims. A I said, my primary interest was in emergency steering in light to near gale conditions. I can’t think of a good way to model chaotic conditions and I don’t know how variable weight would affect a JSD. I did some testing regarding weight placement (most single-element drogues like weight between the boat and the drogue–it points them down, which is better than pointing u[p, which is what a trailing weight encourages). It’s darn complicated.

Drew Frye

I agree that the4 Storm JSD unit should be dedicated. What I meant is that a Gale Rider (or any single element drogue) can be a bear to handle in rough conditions. I’ve deployed and recovered drogues many, many times in testing, and both setting and recovery, when intentionally attempted with no steering, can be a real bugger. Waves try to shove the drogue under the rudder and pull you off the boat. I snagged the rudder a number of times; not fun even in moderate conditions I tested during. The idea of something light and skinny is appealing.

When I read tests performed in mill pond conditions I always laugh. Much of what I learned only became obvious with the wind and waves shoving the boat around. There were a few real surprises. Anyone who think they will use a drogue in storm conditions owes it to themselves to spend an afternoon playing with one in force 6-7, open water.

Jeff Stander

For end weights I chose to use lead SCUBA weights strung onto heavy webbing with eyes sewn into each end. This is shackled to the end of the JSD. It was a compact and convenient weight and seemed suited to the purpose. Ten 3# weights were used on our 139 cone JSD.

Jeffrey Stander

See for a picture.
The rust stains are from a former steel shackle.

Drew Frye

Two thoughts, related only to provoke thought regarding slack when using a JSD:

1. I am sure I read of a manufacture suggestion that either powering (low RPM) or flying a storm jib could help stabilize a boat running with a drogue. I’ve looked, but I can’t seem to find the reference. I think it was Seabrake. I’m pretty darn sure there is some truth in it, based on things I did testing; I often powered and sailed downwind in >30 knots with a drogue out in order to generate storm forces on the equipment. I’m not sayin’ that is what you should do–I was trying to see if anything would break or misbehave in the name of testing, which is completely different. But I can tell you that the stresses and the motion of the boat level out, because it created steady pressure. The boat ran as though she was on rails.

2. I recall several occasions where I preferred running with a storm jib to bare poles. This was with light multihulls, which are different, but the reason was that I needed to maintain good steerage going up the backs of waves. Not just 1-2 knots, more like 4-6 knots minimum. There is little nothing scarier than getting pushed sideways by a wave in a cat, and ANY boat can loose steering control as a breaking wave rolls under the rudder. It has to do with particle rotation; suddenly the water is moving at the same speed as the boat, or even more, so you either loose steering or it reverses. Then the bow digs in, and in effect, you have a rudder forward and none aft. Surfing itself is not scary on most cats unless the waves are truly steep; most steer quite nicely at 20 knots. Heck, I used to bring beach cats in through the surf all the time; keep your weight back and keep it lined up STRAIGHT. Again, there was a minimum speed requirement when you caught the wave, or you broached and rolled (did that once–stitches, broken rudder casing, new mast, broken battens).

How does this relate to using a JSD? Maybe it does not. But maybe the rode tension would be more consistent if there were a scrap of sail forward, or even low engine rpms. As I said, this is offered only as food for thought.

Charles Starke MD FACP

Hi Drew
I believe both powering forward downwind and a small sail forward were mentioned in the Fiorentimo Shark Drogue manual.

The small sail is probably mentioned by Moitessier, “The Long Way”, since he liked to run in storms.
I’d love to hear more about the comparison of the Jordan Series Drogue with the Fiorentimo Shark. The JSD definitely has more experience in storms and converts who have actually used this in the Southern Ocean.
Best wishes,
Charles Starke
s/v Dawnpiper

Stein Varjord

Hi Drew. Every word you say fits my experience and logic.
I have experienced that hoisting a tiny storm jib made it much easier to avoid being thrown abeam in extremely big waves with steady 60 knots gusting to far more. This was also on a fairly light and fast catamaran.

Keeping a consistent “tension” seems essential. I have zero experience with the JSD, but logically I think one element of the JSD “magic” might be just this issue. The weight on the tail end will sink down and then pull the drogue in reverse when the boat doesn’t pull enough. The only way to get close to zero tension on a JSD is if the boat has pulled zero on it for a timespan that is impossible in severe weather. Single element drogues or sea anchors can’t have this feature properly. A JSD with a too small weight on the tail end might sabotage the core functionality of the JSD.

Eric Klem

Hi Stein, John, Charles and Drew,

I agree completely with the desire to keep slack out of the system. I know that people including Trevor do report getting slack in the bridle which is not desirable at all in my mind both from keeping the boat straight and from keeping the speed and peak loads down. However, I am not convinced of the weight at the tail being the right place to start on this partly because it cures the symptom not the reason for the slack and partly due to not being convinced that it is effective. It is true that a weight will slowly pull the end of the drogue down which takes out slack but given the relatively small amount of weight and time between waves and the high amount of drag of the drogue, I doubt that the weight actually takes that much slack out but maybe someone can convince me otherwise. My guess is that the weight is an inefficient way to manage slack but it is the only reasonable way to deal with its intended goal of keeping the drogue in the water. Note, it has been a while since I last read Jordan’s report and I have never used a JSD.

The one thing that I can think of that would help cure (but not fully) the cause of slack is to design a system with as little stretch as possible. Stretch in a bridle is undesirable because it effectively moves the point in space where the force is applied to the boat and this decreases restoring forces that straighten the boat to the drogue. Stretch in the drogue line is undesirable because it stores energy which can then pull the boat backwards when unloaded creating slack before the next wave hits. It is also undesirable because the drogue line has to stretch as the boat accelerates which means that the cones toward the end are not applying much resistance at first. My thinking on this is somewhat similar to the spring/damper conversation we had recently except that we are focusing on the damper and because it is a continuous damper with no fixed condition like an anchor, having a spring will only lead to higher fluctuations. I know that we have previously discussed whether dyneema is an acceptable material and consensus seems to be that it is fine but it will be good to get more real world deployment reports to confirm as I suspect that it is not only a storage improvement but also a performance and reliability (much better fatigue properties than nylon) improvement.


Marc Dacey

I think that’s an important distinction, because in that sense the tiny jib is more or less a riding sail by different means. Our storm jib is heavy and tiny and may be suited for this, but I’ll need a good, predictable blow to throw out the JSD and hoist it to see under non-storm conditions if there’s any positive effect. We are getting into fairly esoteric, if both entertaining and informative, debates at the stage, and guessing could be fatal.


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

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.


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).


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

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…

Stein Varjord

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.


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.


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

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. 🙂


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

Richard Phillips

John.. Please, please please maintain a zero tolerance of political baiting and name calling here. Many of the FB sailing forums are being polluted with partisan US culture wars and are very unpleasant for the rest of us. I strongly suggest you simply delete offending posts so they don’t get the knee jerk opposite response from the other side, which makes this site into battle ground for the US culture wars. You won’t win if you appeal to civility or reason! Just delete..

Stein Varjord

Hi Richard P.
I think most participants here, myself included, share your appreciation of the good tone and general lack of hostility at AAC. I also agree that it’s best to mostly keep off topics that tend to trigger the knee jerk reactions. If my comments above seemed offensive, that was far from my intention. Sorry. I just wanted to say that the US isn’t the only country with problematic issues. Anyway, I think that there are other more important reasons for the unusually nice vibe here.

I think the style of addressing each other here is a bit more friendly and highly polite. Politeness might be seen as old fashioned or even outdated, in other contexts, but it does really work some wonders. Even people with strong hostility towards each other can communicate well, if real politeness is used.

Another important reason for the nice tone might be personal respect. The level of general competence here is way higher than in normal forums. Thus, we rarely see incompetent comments, and if there are opinions we disagree with, it’s focussed on that specific issue. There’s no impulse to go from discussing topic to flaming the individual. If someone were to stumble that way, it would quickly seem more silly than any mistake anyone could make with faulty facts or so in a comment.

So as a conclusion, I think this place is reasonably self regulating. There are some issues that do trigger knee jerk reactions but are still very important and relevant to adventure cruising, like environment, climate change, and so. This place is very well suited for discussing and developing these issues, just because of the good tone and self regulating politeness. Combined with the wide array of competence and the international presence, we might be able to make a difference.

Terry Thatcher

Mentioned in most recent Inside Practical Sailor Blog

Bob McDowell

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!)

Bob McDowell

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

Drew Frye

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


>Did the sailors in the original race actually sail as far south?

On southern pacific, there was only RKJ and Moitessier left. Both stayed above extreme iceberg limit that was on about 45S, and crossed 50S on the way to Cape Horn on about 80W. So, neither went more south.


Randall Reeves had a similar situation being knocked down after the JSD parted at the bridle/drogue junction ( in Feb 2018. He reported seeing rust stains at the junction which might be a clue?
Imagine this istuation: the steel inset of the junction, weakened by (probably crevice) corrosion, being under heavy load during a gale. The inset at least partially breaks, creating sharp edges which would not need long to chew through any material around it…
Thinking of this I would argue that using metal parts in the rope, or at the bridle/rope junction might be a recipe for disaster, even more as they cannot be easily replaced without re-splicing the whole stuff when detected in time.

Drew Frye

Yes, what John said.

I’ve done a lot of pull testing using eyes, and when the rope stretches the eye becomes loose. The effect is extreme with nylon but significant with any rope, since it is impossible to set a splice that tight. Moreover, there is simply no need for a thimble when there is no movement.

If you feel the need for some padding, I like threading tubular webbing or a bit of scrap rope cover over the lines where the thimble goes. This adds wear protection and increases the radius, with zero chance of cutting. It passes the do-no-harm test. I have not used a thimble in many years.

Also Yale Maxijacket is very good, increasing wear by 5-10 times. Don’t believe me; try it. I use it on gloves packs, and other chafe areas as well. You can buy just a little from Knot and Rope Supply.

Ann B

We just purchased an all-Dyneema Jordan series drogue and as recommended have cowhitched the drogue to the bridle legs. The drogue was supplied with a metal thimble at the tail to anchor weight join. Do the same comments apply for a metal thimble at that location i.e. don’t have one? We are currently attaching the weight to the metal thimble with a shackle.

Drew Frye

That sounds like the logical exception, to me. Low load (not much more than the weight) and movement. A metal thimble is a simple, reliable answer.

What are you thinking of using for weight? I’ve always kept a few short lengths of chain on the boat for rigging nasty shore ties, so they seemed like that handy answer to me. I think it is safer than messing with an anchor. But as others (and Jordan) have said, it should probably be the recommended amount (>35 pounds).

Jan-Paul Waldin

Hi John,

This arrangement of Dyneema soft eyes cow-hitched to the shackles at the boat is what we use with our all-Dyneema JSD. I would be interested (and hopefully comforted!) if you get any feedback concerning this set-up. We use the same connection at the mast for our high modulus running backs.

Meanwhile, I have not seen any more information on the point at which Susie Goodall’s drogue parted. Have you heard anything more on this?

Kind regards,


Eric Klem

Hi Drew,

The point about thimbles is a good one. I made up new mooring pendants a few nights ago and as part of it, I got the splices as tight as possible and I took them up using a 2 ton come-along. It was quite impressive to see how much slop there is in the thimble of the nylon section at that tension. I end up putting a heavy whipping on once the splice is done to try to limit this. For dyneema, I find that I can keep it pretty darn tight by doing a brummel splice onto a solid thimble.

Along the lines of John’s question, do you have a recommendation for how to attach nylon lines to chain in an environment prone to rust and growth that needs to be done and undone at least once a year? I still use a thimble and shackle in this application as I am not aware of a better solution but would definitely be open to one.



Drew Frye

I like thimbles fine when the line will not be loaded much past the WLL of the line; not too much stretch, no problem. That is why most applications work. Dyneema does not stretch, the problem is less. The other solution is the NOT use cable thimbles. What we think of as “standard” thimbles were actually invented for steel cable, when cutting ans shifting don’t matter, only kinking. If I must use a thimble under high load, I’ve had good luck with both sailmakers thimbles and tube thimbles.

(I don’t know if this is a good brand–I’ve used similar, made for truck winch cables. They’d probably work on ANYTHING.)

Also bronze hawser thimbles. Samson caries them in big sizes. Probably hand them down to your children.

Eric Klem

Hi Drew,

Thanks for the confirmation on that. I use what you are calling hawser thimbles for most stuff these days and have had good luck with them. I just walked out to my shop and took a look at the old mooring pendant I am replacing and everything looks pristine after 5 years and it uses one of these thimbles with double braid nylon sized to the WLL. I also looked at the other end where it attaches to the dyneema and that looks in equally good shape. Granted, we did not have any big storms in the last 5 years so not a great test but still good to see no chafe anywhere.

The tube thimbles are interesting but seem like they would be a real challenge if using with spliced double braid.



Actually, after rereading the story, I have to correct myself. He was knocked down twice _before_ deploying the drogue. After deployment he writes “felt a gush of relief. Finally, we felt under control.”. Shortly after only to recognice that he was beam-on to the waves again, recognizing the drogue had parted.
So he did not capsize because the drogue failed. And fortunately no more after this mess, and made his way safely to Tasmania. And now, a year later, he again is closing in at the very spot …

Jeff Stander

Hi John, I gather you are getting reports on Susanne Huber-Curphey on Nihaj?

She has left the Longue Route after almost crossing her track and now is heading past the tip of South Africa for the second time. She is apparently just having too much fun to stop.

She just wrote me the following:

“We’ve just passed Cape Aguhas [sic] for the second time and it feels good. We even caught up with the time of Joshua 50 years ago and are now one day ahead!
Summer-sailing is so much better, in the last 19 days we sailed the same distance that we took one week longer in August when all those nasty head winds were blowing.
Cape to Cape was 134 days and 17.226 miles, I’m happy with that.
In that time five times and a total of 162 hours on the Jordan Series Drogue.”

She is entering the realm of legend, in my opinion. First woman single-hander through the NW Passage and now the Longue Route extended version. If you need a testimonial for the JSD here it is — used five times for 162 hours! Whatever was going wrong on with the other boats, Susanne has it nailed. Nihaj is a pretty amazing boat, too, custom-built by Susanne in alloy for single-handing in high latitudes.

Jeff on s/v Beatrix


“running fast … requires either skilled helmspersons or a really smart autopilot”
Does such an autopilot exist?

Stein Varjord

Hi Paul.
The makers of autopilots will probably claim yes, but having done one such run, I can promise that I will never trust any autopilot for such a job. One issue is that it can fail without warning. That rarely happens with a living skilled helm.

The other more concerning issue is that an autopilot can only correct faults after they have started. In those conditions, that’s way too late. One needs to be positioned correctly before the challenges hit. I can look around me and position the boat so it avoids or is ready for the coming trouble.

Also, the correct course is very far from a straight line. I’d guesstimate that I needed to use a 30 to 40 degree sector to avoid the worst breakers and steepest hills. The steering is also the only useful tool for regulating speed. I’d repeatedly make violent turns in the steeper parts to slow down. The speed needs to be high enough to get off the breakers and maintain steering when there is only foam around the rudders, while keeping off extreme speeds that can give a pitch pole in the wave ahead. We kept between 15 and 25 knots, roughly. Most of the time more than 20. (A quite light 40 foot catamaran.)

Autopilots are now claimed to be “smart”. As the above might indicate, even really smart isn’t good enough. It needs eyes and ability to predict multiple chaotic waves continuously. Even in a rather distant future, that’s a challenge for a machine… If I had known about and had a JSD that time, there is no doubt whatsoever that I would have deployed it. We had no problems or damage, but that was not a certain outcome.

Erin O'Brien

Hi John
Looking back at the comments about Susie Goodall’s JSD failing I don’t see anything about what actually failed. There are comments in various places lately on the internet including the GGR facebook page that the bridle was intact but the drogue had gone. If I assume that the drogue was cowhitched to the centre of the bridle I have to assume the hitch wore through or broke, or the splice failed. Both seem unlikely but what else could it be? I am building a JSD at the moment and have come to wonder whether the attachment to the yacht could be improved. I am in the ‘strong chainplate’ camp, which is easy for me to achieve with a steel yacht. Instead of the usual bridle, what do you, and the readers, think about attaching the end of the drogue line itself to one side of the transom, and then attaching a line equal to the drogue line to the other side that is tied, with a knot that won’t slip like a climber’s tarbuck, to the drogue line. The knot would pinch the drogue line but I wouldn’t think it could be anymore likely to break it than the usual cow hitch. And the drogue itself would be directly attached to the boat. I will still do a good big eye splice in the front end of the drogue but wait for comment before I decide on how to connect it to the yacht.

Stein Varjord

Hi Erin.
I have no solid info, but I’ve seen somewhere mentioned that she had a shackle to connect the JSD to the bridle, to make it easier to rig. That introduces the shackle itself as a fail point, where breakage seems less probable than that the pin just getting unscrewed. It also seems likely that a shackle means there are thimbles on both rope sides, meaning a risk of rope wear on sharp edges. All this is just speculation, of course.

About your suggested setup, I’d prefer to not do that. I don’t see any improvements in probable reliability, and rather that the knot is an extra opportunity for failure. It seems better to have a system that needs no adjustment and just gets attached in one way and deployed.

Your idea with an extra rope on a knot might still be interesting for having an extra line on each bridle leg. Perhaps as an extra safety, or as an option to adjust the boat orientation a bit. I don’t know if that’s useful, but I assume it might sometimes be. If those extra lines break, the basic JSD layout is still uncompromised.

Tim Good

Does anyone have any further information on Susie’s JSD failure? I can confirm from her that the “jsd snapped a foot beyond the bridle. The bridle and connection to drogue were fine and in tact”. That’s all I got. Is there any more info on this that haven’t seen yet?