DMK Yacht Instruments Partners With Abilyn Racing

We are excited to announce that DMK Yacht Instruments will be partnering with Abilyn Racing on its ocean racing campaign.  DMK Yacht Instruments, based in Seattle, Washington, is the developer of the DMK Box, which enables wireless access to on-board instrument data for use essentially with any application that accepts NMEA data, including routing software such as Expedition, or other robust navigation and performance analysis applications like iNavX and iRegatta Pro.

Abilyn Racing will be using a DMK Box to link up on-board data generated by Raymarine instruments with an iPad running iNavX and iRegatta Pro.  This setup will allow Abilyn Racing not only to pinpoint its location and its AIS targets, but also to analyze sailing performance with significantly greater precision than is available through our cockpit display.

The DMK Box is ideal for small race boats like Abilyn, which crave the same type of data as the big race boats, but cannot afford the full-on information centers delivering that data.  With a full set of electronics, the DMK Box offers an elegantly simple solution that opens up boat data for precision analysis in a compact and affordable package.  

As our sailing program gets underway this season, we hope to share with you what information the DMK Box opens up for us and what it will tell us about our sailing performance.  

Check out DMK Yacht Instruments at  

My most memorable sailing moment...ever. Surprise, it was on a Mini.

Abilyn is an amazingly fun boat, not simply because she screams off the breeze in a blow (literally), but because she is highly technical, and responsive.  When you do something wrong, she doesn't just tell you, she slaps you in the face.  But, when you do something right, she rewards you by reaching deep into your brain, and pressing the endorphin-release valve.  The feeling of accomplishment, even in a simple maneuver, leads to a feeling of being connected to the boat that can be described only as sublime.  Although some sailors, most notably Bouwe Bekking, skipper of the Brunel entry in the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race, believe that sailors should "never get attached" to their boats, it's hard not to with a Pogo 2 like Abilyn

Sailing Abilyn last season produced many "hell yeah" moments, but there's one that sticks out as my most memorable sailing moment...ever...on any boat.  It was a Wednesday in July.  After working from home that day (and putting out fire after fire), I "cat sixed" my Giant Rapid 0 road bike (nicknamed "Suzy") five miles from my home in Brooklyn to Grand Central Terminal.  The plan was to take Metro North up to Larchmont for an evening practice aboard Abilyn.  I arrived at GCT at 1630 only to be turned away.  Apparently, bikes are not allowed on northbound trains out of NYC from 1500-1900 during the week regardless of how crowded the trains are.  

Rather than head home,  I just biked up to Larchmont--an additional 20 miles through Manhattan, the Bronx, and Pelham Bay Park (NYC's largest park property).  After about an hour and 20 minutes, with legs burning, I arrived at the boat, thinking how the heck was I going to sail that night since I could hardly walk at this point; I'm not a long-distance cyclist.  I made the decision to HTFU because, up until that point, my gybes aboard Abilyn had been absolutely abysmal.  I needed to practice.  I needed time on the water to overcome this learning curve.

Jerome Sammarcelli aboard Pogo 2 USA 806.  Pole retracted.

Jerome Sammarcelli aboard Pogo 2 USA 806.  Pole articulated forward and to weather.

The learning curve for being able to sail a Mini 6.50 at all is extremely high.  To give you a sense of the complexity of sailing this boat, the protocol for gybing Abilyn's oversize kite involves a 30-step process. Abilyn's asym is flown on an eight-foot articulating sprit pole controlled laterally by two afterguys, and controlled vertically by an adjustable bobstay.  To fly the kite, the pole is articulated by a line led from the cockpit to a lever on the inboard end of the pole, which articulates the pole 170 degrees from a resting position on the lifelines  (see top photo) to a reaching position about 10 degrees to weather of centerline (see below photo).  The boat also has runners, which must be gybed along with the asym and mainsail.  In certain conditions, the runners are essential to ensuring that the mast doesn't snap clean off.

During our early practices in June 2013 after the we commissioned the boat at McMichael's Yacht Yard, my co-skipper Sam picked up gybing the asym fairly quickly, which is a testament to his lifetime of sailing experience, and achievements in the International 420 class.  However, my inability to catch on as a fast as Sam was quickly sending me into a spiraling vortex of doubt about buying this boat, and whether I would ever be able to sail her effectively.  I had to remind myself that picking up a new activity--including sailing a new boat--sometimes involves a long period of "suck-assedness."  Yes, that's how I will describe this period.

I had no expectations for that Wednesday night in July.  My plan was to head out alone (for the first time), put the sails up, and see what I could do.  After letting my body process the lactic acid that had built up in my legs, I hoisted the big fathead main and 140% jib and headed out of Larchmont Harbor with a warm, 10-12 knot breeze out of the west.  Despite the favorable conditions, nobody was out on the water.  Abilyn and I were alone on the dance floor.  We reached over to Manhasset Bay, turned downwind and set the kite to port.  

After settling in, I began the gybing process for 10-15 knot conditions.  Maintain a course of 150 degrees TWA.  Ease the weather afterguy to bring the pole to center.  Take up slack on the lazy runner.  Trim the spinsheet to bring the clew patch around the forestay.  Turn the boat.  Keep trimming that spin sheet.  Tension the lazy runner to kick the main over.  Exit the gybe at 140 TWA.  Don't head up too high.  Release the old runner to let the main fall to leeward.  Fall off.  Trim the afterguy to bring the pole to its new weather position.  

When the kite gybed cleanly, frankly I was astounded.  I looked around to see if anybody saw it, just like Tom Hanks looked around to see if anybody had seen him make fire.  Maybe it was an accident.  So I gybed again.  And again.  And again.  Sailing across Long Island Sound that night, I gybed maybe 10 times back to back.  They were all clean.  I was awash with a wave of relief, and excitement for the future.  You could see the grin on my face all the way back in NYC.  

It was 2130 at this point.  I doused the kite, hoisted the jib, and sailed upwind back to Larchmont Harbor.

I have many fond sailing memories.  Blast reaching SE from Newport to Bermuda across the Gulf Stream in 30 knots of breeze, and sailing with my wife and daughters in the BVI are two unforgettable memories.  But what made that Wednesday night aboard Abilyn my most memorable sailing moment ever is that it was a breakthrough moment in an extremely challenging endeavor to learn such a technical boat.  With all do respect to Mr. Bekking, Abilyn is not "just a tool".  She is a living, breathing being, and she understands my ambitions as a sailor.

Abilyn spoke to me that night.  She let me know that I have what it takes to sail this boat.  Or maybe she was rewarding me for biking 25 miles just to come play with her.  Only time will tell.

See you out on the water.

Predict Wind Partners with Abilyn Racing

We are excited to announce that Predict Wind will be partnering with Abilyn Racing on its ocean racing campaign.  Predict Wind is a world leader in wind forecasting, and is used by Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup navigators and tacticians, among others.

Abilyn Racing will be using an iPad with Predict Wind’s satellite link to access Predict Wind’s professional suite of forecast information and weather routing algorithms while offshore.  The data provided by Predict Wind will allow us to respond to wind shifts and storms before they materialize, and get from Newport to Bermuda as fast as possible.  

As our sailing program gets underway this season, we hope to share with you how Predict Wind helps us stay fast, and stay safe.  

Check out Predict Wind at  

A Basic Guide to Mini Transat Boats has been up for a few days now.  If you've checked out our site, then you know that our weapon of choice is a Pogo 2 Mini Transat designed by renowned naval architect Groupe Finot.  We here at Abilyn Racing wanted to give you an introduction into these fascinating boats.

Mini Transat boats (Mini 6.50s) arose based on an idea in the late 1970s of a mini-transatlantic race to promote affordable offshore solo racing.  These races over the years have started from England and various locations in France, and have ended in the West Indies or Brazil.  Mini Transat boats have been designed as sleds that are optimized to surf downwind in the Westerly trades.

Over time, Mini Transat boats have evolved into ocean racing machines that are frequently used (at least by European sailors) as platforms to campaigns in larger boats such as Class 40s or IMOCA 60s.  Mini Transat boats are 21 feet (6.50 m) in length and designed to a strict "box rule," which limits the overall size of the boat.  Within the box rule, designers are free to push the limits of innovation, and the European Mini Class (Classe Mini), which oversees organized Mini racing--is a veritable breeding ground of marine innovation.

The Classe Mini is divided into two classes:  prototypes ("protos") and series (production) boats.  According to Jerome Sammarcelli (builder of USA 829), the protos often take advantage of the box rule by using exotic materials such as carbon fiber to create decks, hulls, rudders, and spars that have a high strength-to-weight ratio, which allows for the use of taller masts, deeper keels, and more sail area.  Innovations first made in the prototype class have trickled into larger ocean-racing yachts.  

Series boats are subject to limitations imposed by Classe Mini beyond the box rule, in part, to promote participation.  In order to race in the production boat class, critical mass must be achieved--at least 10 boats must be built.  Unlike protos, exotic building materials are prohibited in series boats:  spars must be made of aluminum; and the structure, deck, and hull are made of polyester resin.  The result is still a boat that is strong, fast off the breeze, and able to cover thousands of miles sometimes in upwards of 20 knots of boat speed.

Abilyn is a Pogo 2 series boat designed by Groupe Finot and built in the United States by Open Sailing USA.  The Pogo 2 has achieved tremendous success in the Classe Mini racing circuit, including in the fabled Mini Transat.  Although Minis are not nearly as prevalent in the United States as they are in Europe, Abilyn is one of four Minis in the NYC metropolitan area, and part of a number of other Minis up and down the east coast of the United States and in Canada.  We hope that our sister ships will be competing along side of us if we make it to the starting line of the Bermuda 1-2.

Mini designs are quite diverse, even in the "series" class.  Besides the Pogo 2, other popular "series" designs today include:

We are eagerly awaiting the first sea trial of the highly anticipated Pogo 3 being built by Pogo Structures in France.

You can find more information on Mini 6.50s at the resources below:

And here are some videos highlighting some kick-ass Mini sailing:

Benoit Marie winning the 2013 Mini Transat in the Proto class.

Team  No. 719 (proto).

Winter training aboard No. 667 (proto).

Minis screaming along under Code 5. is live!

Abilyn Racing logo

Hello all.  I am very proud to announce the launch of  

For those who don't know us (which includes basically everybody except family and friends), we are an amateur sailing team based in Larchmont, NY, focused on short-handed distance racing.  Our two sailors--me and Sam Cox--have demanding day jobs in New York City.  But we are trying to think big.  We want to break free of the daily grind and explore, dream, and discover.  Our first pursuit:  sailing in the 2015 Bermuda 1-2, a grueling race across nearly 1,300 miles of open ocean.  The race begins with me navigating the 21-foot Abilyn, a Mini Transat 6.50, 635 miles across the North Atlantic from Newport, RI to Bermuda, by myself (but with the assistance of an awesome shore team), followed by a double-handed race back to Newport with Sam as co-skipper.  

Check out what we're all about here.  Then check out The Team, The Boat, and the rest of    

Our quest begins now.  Thank you for sharing this adventure with us.  We hope to share some cool stuff with you along the way.