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interviewPuma Racing

Cruising Lessons from an Offshore-Racing Veteran

source: cruisingworld.com
By Gary Jobson
Now that the Volvo Ocean Race is over, I sat down with Puma Racing Team crewmember Jerry Kirby to discuss what lessons cruising sailors could take away from the extreme environment of that race.
At 53, Kirby is a Volvo Ocean Race and America's Cup veteran who's usually on the leading edge of the next new thing at the very pinnacle of competitive sailboat racing.
photo credit: Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race
Jobson: What things really worked well on il mostro, the Puma team boat, that you'd recommend for a cruising boat?
Kirby: Every boat that I've ever been on offshore seems to have the generator running constantly. We always seem to be forever losing power and caught in a constant cycle of trying to keep the batteries up. While I can't go into specifics for competitive reasons, I can say that the battery-charging system that electrical and electronics experts Evan Evans and Sean Healy put together for us worked really well. We had these special batteries that essentially recharge very quickly. They were light and compact, and we charged them with two big alternators. The system was very efficient and allowed us to charge our batteries in 20 minutes and only required us to run the engine a couple of times a day. This was a unique system for us, but I think offshore cruisers could benefit from this technology once it trickles down.
Jobson: What sail materials proved to be most reliable over the long haul?
photo credit: Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race
Kirby: We didn't experience as much laminate and glue failure as most of the other boats in the fleet, and that might be because most of our sails were red. Ultraviolet radiation is a big problem with Dacron and laminated sails, and it may be that the red in our sails acted as a UV filter even if our sails may have actually been a bit hotter in the sun. And there might be something to that, since our sails weathered better that any other sails in the fleet.
Jobson: So should cruising sailors ask their sailmaker to put red tint in their sails?
Kirby: I think they should.
Read the rest of this interesting interview here.

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