Fueled For Action
Fueled For Action
Niklas Zennström’s Rán is a model of exhaustive race preparation, which not only applies to the boat, but to the feeding of the crew. Boat captain Brendan Darrer explains how they run a tight ship. "Winner's Debrief" from our May 2012 issue.
Besides the ISAF requirements and special regulations for an offshore race. What additional safety items does Rán take offshore and what tips do you have for safety at sea?
We take safety at sea seriously on Rán. After Rambler 100’s capsize, each Rán crewmember was issued a personal EPIRB. We have been especially careful to register these devices properly. Each unit is registered to Rán and all of the contact details are identical. This means that if one of the EPIRBS is activated, the Coast Guard knows it was from us. Crewmembers change from race to race, so by giving out the correct identity of the boat, we avoid disinformation about who is actually in the water. Each unit has the same contact telephone number, which goes to one person ashore, so the facts of the situation remain correct.
We also supply everyone with a personal strobe light. I believe a strobe light is the easiest way to see a man overboard. I know the Rambler boys have been trying out a laser, which fires a beam up into the air, but that has no use during daytime. However, stopping someone going over the side in the first place is what we all strive for, so we use tethers extensively throughout the boat. It is definitely worth investing in the best harness for the job.
A lot of teams do collective safety briefings, but a lot of the time the guys aren’t actually listening. I take each crewmember and show them exactly where each piece of safety gear is. I would definitely advocate making one crewmember in charge of the safety gear and ensuring that everybody on board knows where everything is, every race, if necessary.
Also, correct stowage is just as essential as having the safety gear on board in the first place. On Rán, each crewmember has a numbered carabineer on a line next to the companionway. Off watch, the crew can hang wet weather gear here, along with their life jacket, EPIRB, strobe, knife, and flashlight. If the crewmembers down below need to get out or on deck in a hurry, they can do so with all of their safety gear.
You can’t put a price on safety equipment so you should buy the best gear available. In the past, some people viewed safety at sea with contempt, even thinking wearing a lifejacket was unmanly, but those days are long gone. Ultimately it is up to every individual to look after themselves.
How do you keep the interior dry?
For the RORC Caribbean 600 most of the spinnaker drops were down the main hatch, this avoids getting water down below. Water below ends up as weight to leeward and makes for more discomfort.
What’s your approach to having spares onboard?
Most of the control lines on board Rán are made from Spectra and Dyneema, so we take lengths of different gauge. These can also be used to lash just about anything, which has been broken. Duct tape is well worth having on board as well. If we have a ding with another boat at the start and puncture the hull, duct tape is easy to apply and can solve the problem temporarily. We also take a tube of sealant, which can come in handy. For sail repairs, sticky back and spray glue are well worth taking. My view is that, if the boat has been properly prepared, then a large number of spares are not necessary.
Applying self-amalgamating tape to sharp areas is a good policy. Many sails are damaged or even shredded by a split pin. Just feel around the rig the guardrail and rigging and tape it up, this will preserve you sails from damage.