Wednesday, April 14, 2021
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Hydrovane Self Steering Windvane Partner for the Global Solo Challenge

Global Solo Challenge (GSC) 2023 organisers are delighted to announce that Hydrovane will be the Self Steering Windvane Partner for the GSC.

The renowned Windvane will be offered at an event-reserved discounted price to participants and will include a free circumnavigator’s spares kit as well as any needed pre-departure assistance from the Curry family in La Coruña in September 2023.

Self-steering when single-handed is one, if not the most, crucial aspect of boat handling. Even in this day and age of technology attempting a circumnavigation relying exclusively on an electric autopilot is a risky proposition. Failure of electric autopilot systems is a common cause of withdrawal from many short-handed sailing events.

Double handed crews can, for some time, make up for the lost electric pilot at great cost in terms of physical effort and stress. When sailing single-handed it simply means game over.Curry Family, owners of Hydrovane, Will, Karen, Josh, Sarah and twin babies Hugo and KippCurry Family, owners of Hydrovane, Will, Karen, Josh, Sarah and twin babies Hugo and Kipp

Hydrovane as the primary or backup self-steering system
A windvane can be installed as a primary self-steering system or as a backup system on any boat and provide a near fail-proof way of continuing in the intended navigation even in case of total electrical blackout. In the days of the first BOC challenges all boats carried a windvane, over time fewer and fewer racing boats had them installed but this often implied costly installation of backup electric pilots and the ever-present fear of retirement in case of a blackout.

GSC Event director Marco Nannini commented “When I sailed in the Global Ocean Race we were double-handed, three thousand miles to Cape Town, when we broke our last spare wind sensor in a hailstorm and were left only with our electric pilot in “compass mode”. When we reached Tristan da Cunha and we hit roaring forty conditions we had no option but to helm by hand all of the time, especially as we were being chased hard by a competitor.

Despite being two onboard the nights were a tremendous problem, too dark and cold to helm effectively at speed, our inability to steer to the shifting wind was a huge handicap and I can’t imagine I could have carried on past Cape Town single-handed had the event been non-stop and solo – it would have been race over. In our case luckily, we just had to hang in there Till Cape town. And all this happened despite having two independent and separate electric autopilots and several spare wind sensors.”

Hydrovane is a completely independent mechanical system
Hydrovane is a self-steering windvane system that is a completely independent mechanical system (ie. non-electrical) and steers the boat on a wind-based course. It is an auxiliary rudder type of windvane, meaning it has its semi-balanced rudder that is independent of the boat’s main steering system.

Once engaged, the large vane becomes a wind direction sensor, and also provides the power to drive the Hydrovane rudder via a sophisticated linkage. You lock off the boat’s main rudder while the Hydrovane is steering, which allows you to trim out any weather helm or lee helm and dampen the boat’s yaw immensely. Compared to the servo pendulum style of windvane, the Hydrovane is easier to use, more robust, and can be fitted to a greater variety of boats.

Hydrovane doubles as an Emergency Rudder
What makes Hydrovane even more popular for long-distance sailing is that it doubles as an emergency rudder/ steering system. It is the most robust emergency steering system available today. Always in place, nothing to set-up – takes the fear out of losing your rudder or breaking your vessel’s steering mid passage or close to shore.

Global Solo Challenge Event Director Marco Nannini commented: “As Event Organisers, we demand in our Regulations a proven method of emergency steering with the rudder disabled, this is often quite complicated to achieve. Some other windvanes offer conversion kits but their smaller rudders are not originally designed to steer the boat and can prove ineffective, with Hydrovane you have a permanently installed Emergency Rudder which is not only a matter of Regulations compliance but something that we look at very positively as it can contribute to a lower attrition rate in the event, and, in general, we welcome very positively the idea that every participant should have a windvane, whether they intend to use it as their primary or secondary system, as electrical problems are too often the cause of retirement in any type of sailing event.”

John Curry Director of Hydrovane International Marine commented: “I must say that we are impressed with what we see so far with the rapid development of the Global Solo Challenge – no doubt the product from your good choices for the management team – we are pleased to partner up with this event and are sure our Self Steering System will become a faithful companion of many GSC participants.”

GSC’s unique format
Briefing note for editors, journalists and commentators

The format is unlike any other round the world solo sailing event and will make it fair and exciting for the Skippers as well as easy and engaging for the public and sponsors to follow:

A wide range of boats can enter – 32 to 55 foot.

Boats will be grouped by performance characteristics and set off in successive departures over 8 weeks.

Once at sea, there are no classes. All boats will be sailing the same event. The faster boats will have to try to catch up with the slower boats, the pursuit factor creating competitive interest aboard and a fascinating event for the public and sponsors.

The first boat to cross the finish line wins. The performance differential between the boats is taken into account in staggering the departures, eliminating the need to calculate corrected times.
All entries will have a chance of winning – dramatic from beginning to end

It will feel quite daunting and emotional to be among the first skippers to set off. Equally it will be nerve wracking for those with a long wait before their departure.

The last skippers to set off will have to keep cool waiting for their turn to start the chase.

The faster boats will need to sail fast and well to make up for the head start given to the slower groups.

It will be the ultimate enactment of the tale of the tortoise and the hare, with steady cruisers being chased by performance thirsty skippers on faster boats.

Who will cross the line first?

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