Category Archives: gilles

Ground-based Crew Says Aloha…oh and thanks.

Well, the race is over for Thirsty and we’re all very proud of them. All of us at the GBC, that’s the Ground-Based Crew (yeah we’ve got names and acronyms too here…one of our computers was nicknamed “Sloth” for obvious reasons), have been humbled and honored to be just a small part of getting what action was going on the boat out onto the internet.

The GBC had quite the task to perform: translating and writing all of the blog posts and Facebook entries. Let us run through the communication plan with you to explain a little of what was going on behind the scenes.

Communication onboard Thirsty was only via satellite, meaning mucho dinero pricey. Charly or Fred would write up the previous day’s summary and send it by 9am Pacific time. Due to the insane cost of kilobytes traveling from boat to space and back to us on the ground (go figure), words were sparse as were the pictures. It was up to us to translate from French to English and fill-in with a little more ornate language than was provided to us by the Thirsty crew. If you know Charlie & Fred, you know they like to joke around, so at times we could tell that there was a funny anecdote that could’ve been written. So, we decided to pretend we were them by writing long and hopefully humorous diatribes to fill in and give tone to the story.

Sometimes we wouldn’t get pictures and we needed to pull from some stock we had (no, we aren’t as good as the guys who supposedly faked the moon landing…because it was never faked) to help animate the story. Some times we would get multiple messages per day; some good and some not-so-good. We needed to shed light on some notes that were sent talking about dangers encountered (a flipped over fishing vessel), days of frustration (Aeolus sleeping on the job), technical difficulties (some keys failing to work on Thirsty’s only PC onboard: tht ws hrd to del with…we’d like to buy a vowel please!), and emotional setbacks (reminiscing what this race could have been like with Gilles still around). We were living vicariously through our two sea-going heroes.

Towards the end of the race, our two sailors were visibly tired. We say “visibly” because we could see it in their emails: the tone shifted, the emails got shorter, and the punctuation went out the window. They were both pushing for a cause and wanted to make the biggest splash for the ALS Association they possibly could. Yes, in the end we are short on our donation goal, but these two guys literally bridged a gap between the ALS Association’s Golden West Chapter’s always-covered territory of California and newly-covered tropical territory of Hawaii. They sailed in with Iron Horse up, big smiles, and got the word out. They did it for a good cause, in memory of a great friend, and for more stories to be told.

The race may be over for Thirsty, but it’s far from the end for the race to a cure for ALS. will be up for a long time and donations can still be made…even if not on the website, donate on the ALS Association’s website ( and click on “Donate” at the top right-hand side of your screen. Doesn’t really matter: the money goes to the same bank account funding care and future cures for ALS patients (100% of donations on SailingforALS go directly to the ALS Association).

We love all of you guys. We love you for reading. We love you for caring. We love you for sharing. And we love you for being there.

So from all of us on the ground (Leslie, Gary, Matt, Phillip and Christine) and full-time employees at the ALS Association (Jenica, Cherryl, Julie, and Fred), we are signing off for the day and will return with videos and photos of the whole experience.

Tonight, we got a call from Charly and Fred, three Mai-tai’s in and damn happy to be on land: the morale is back up and they are ready for another race…maybe not next year but probably the year after that. Additionally, the crew of Thirsty would like to send a shout out to Kay, an ALS patient of many years now who came to see the guys and their boat in San Francisco to send them off…it’s her birthday. So Charly and Fred both say “Bon anniversaire Kay” and so do we. Happy Birthday Kay.

OK, that’s it now.

Good night from the California Crew.

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Thirsty for the Finish

Greetings Thirsty followers!

First off, the inevitable happened: we hit a block of half-immersed plastic going full speed. Luckily, it hit the rudder in such a way as to cause no damages. It was a very close call (30cm to be exact). We also hit something with the hull in the middle of the night. No damages once again. Our faithful captain must have been busy with cocktail hour, turning his watchful eye away for a second from watching over us.

The wind has tired out and it seems that cold fresh beer at the yacht club bar is a little further than we originally anticipated.

Last night was rough and gusty. The wind was unpredictable with varying speeds and directions. Needless to say, we didn’t sleep much. The wind’s instability has caused us to change out our spinnakers four times today alone.

I think we’ve finally found the right compromise. We’re using the symmetrical Iron Horse, which seems to be killing it (to be honest, we’d only pulled it out once so far for pictures).

It seems the weather forecast wants to mess with our nerves. The good news is that the pressure is on Wolfpack. They’re slowing down, getting nervous. They can feel us breathing down their neck. There is no question that we’ll be stopping at nothing to catch up with them. But, we’re managing our expectations when it comes to cruising full speed, spinnaker flying.

In other news, it is HOT. We are baking. The sun is flaming hot and it’s making it difficult to be outside. Inside isn’t much of a relief either since it’s reminiscent of a furnace down there. Next time, we’re racing a Lagoon catamaran with AC and private showers. Today, we’re doing some Spring cleaning: shower time. We’ve hit the point of not tolerating our own odors. Throw in a beard and we’re definitely cavemen over here.

We only have two small bottles of wine remaining but we have plenty of water left for the duration of the race (and then some).

Food-wise, Fred is sticking to his dream of not having to open our emergency reserve of canned cassoulet.

I attached some pics for you. Don’t worry, we didn’t forget the daily selfie.

Warm (even hot) regards from N27.44 et W129.23,

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Hunting the Wolfpack on the Highway to Hawaii

What’s up guys?

What’s new on Thirsty? Check out these pictures! Notice anything different?


We can read the Beneteau logo on Big Ben in the right direction from the helm! What does that mean? Well, dammit, it means we’ve turned onto the final highway…the one where the kids start screaming “are we there yet?” In all seriousness, we are now on the direct route to Hawaii with little over 650NM to go. Which also means we are on the hunt for Wolfpack.

Wolfpack leads our division at the moment, and they are 60NM ahead of us.  However, with their PHRF handicap, they need to be approximately 12hrs ahead of us to win our division.  We’ve been averaging 9.8kts for the last two days, so if you do some quick math, carry the 6…yeah and subtract that by the number of times we’ve said “more plastic in the water!”; you’ll realize this is still doable!  We can still win this. Can you guess what we would win?

A clock.  A friggin’ clock! No matter, it’s the trophy for the double-handed class we are in and our Captain Gilles would be proud of us. Fred is in gladiator mode: surfing waves pushing 14kts minimums while doing some one-handed push-ups at the helm. A machine. Or like a sailing Rambo: “This don’t scare me, this don’t hurt me.”

The autopilot has been off now for a few days: we’re just so much smoother and faster than Toto is. We are starting to have ocean-burned eyes. I just keep looking at my son Paul’s drawing for me that reads “The strongest Dad”. It’s a much-needed encrouagement especially in the final days of this grueling race.

Otherwise, beautiful and mostly easy day with nary a Japanese piece of plastic in sight. Ok, we’re lying: we saw a bunch more and avoided a few shipping barrels floating mid waters. Also, we’re getting closer to the tropics and the sun is really starting to beat down on us now: it’s hot.

Sorry about the crappy selfies: we also didn’t train for that before our departure. Until tomorrow, French hugs and American kisses from the middle of Pacific!

– Charly & Fred

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Thirsty Loses Saint, Adjusts for it with Complex Algebra

Good Morning from 32.52N by 130.36W!

What’s going on this day of the Lord(s)?

Let’s recap the good times:

Absolutely breathtaking sunset last night, one for the record books…one that Captain Gilles loved and yearned for. To top that off, we had a beautiful sunrise this morning. We’ve really started moving along now.  We started the race with little to no wind, then we had wind in the evenings and at some sporadic moments through the nights with dead zones during the day…

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But yesterday was the first full day where the wind, albeit not strong enough for Thirsty’s thirst, was constant throughout the day. Let’s put it this way: yesterday was the first day Thirsty averaged a speed high enough for Fred and I to stop considering swimming as a faster way to get to Hawaii.

Through the night, Thirsty was running as fast as it could given the moderate wind conditions, playing Dire Straits in its skipper’s ears at full blast.  We were hunting the “big one”.  The “big one” is what we call a boat we’ve been repetitively crossing paths with, a 40ft J120 named “Shearwater”. Last night we were side-by-side within 2nm of each other. The Big One had better pick up his pace: with those extra 10ft he has on us, considering his PHRF handicap (, he should finish the race almost a day ahead of us.

And now the recap of the not-so-good times (might we even say “catastrophic”?):

We broke a bottle of St. Julien, a Gruaud Larose 2005 to be exact. After 34 straight minutes of crying, 9 minutes of praying to our most revered God (Dionysus, or Bacchus if you’re into the whole Roman thing), and 4 hours on Microsoft Project sliding our Pacific Cup wine-milestones around (yes we had planned this all out)…we drank water.  It felt weird…and it hurt. You see, we had calculated a certain amount of glasses of wine per person per day for TWELVE days.  Now that the wind God (Aeolus, that probably hungover late-to-the-wind-party idiot) put us off our pace and late on our arrival to Hawaii, we really have to ration the wine reserves.

The equation has been modified to something like this:

W_tpp = 0.726 x GPD  + 0.561 x (ACS – HWW/24) + 0.174 x MAF

Where W_tpp is “Wine Total Per Person”, GPD is “Glasses Per Day”, D is “Day”, ACS is “Awesome Captain’s Sunsets”, HWW is “Hours Without Wind”, MAF is “Morale Adjustment Factor” which ranges from 0.0 to 1.0 in increments of 0.1.*

Back to the business on board. One of our first technical problems has surfaced but fortunately is not a big one. Or at least, it’s not as much of a deal-breaker as the broken Gruaud Larose 2005. We are having issues with the IPv4 connection between the PC and the Nav Computer: we are unable to force manual properties in the LAN manual properties.  Anyway, if someone reading this is an I.T. guru, send us a post card.

As previously mentioned, yesterday was rather calm, with thankfully (not you, lazy drunk bum) constant wind.  Calm seas reaching under Code 0 spinnaker, stay sail, and main sail at full.  Toto (yes, we are naming things on Thirsty…it’s part of the delirium setting in at sea…Toto is no God though; he’s our autopilot) was set for a direct course and we had nearly nothing to do but were blessed with our first full day of sunshine!  Conclusion being that we think we’re finally on a good route with constant winds and sunshine. So with the mostly uneventful day, we cleaned and organized the boat and made two scrumptious meals WITHOUT wine: filet mignon and mashed potatoes for lunch, and gizzards with pasta for dinner.  Ok fine, Fred put some red liquid from a bottle that said something like “Saint Emilion” in our glasses.

Anyway, we won’t be able to watch the World Cup Finals today (edit from ground-based translator: go Argentina!), and we won’t party at our buddy Marc’s house for Bastille Day. However, our Tarot card buddies should be prepared: with Aeolus sleeping like he is, I’ve been on fire with the Tarot card game on my iPad the past few days!

That’s it for Day 5 morning news.  We’ve just passed the 1,600nm to go mark, but the road is still really loooooong! Our forecasting is telling us we should be at the Kaneohe Mai-tai Bar at the very earliest next Sunday late evening or night. Maybe even Monday morning.  Right on time for the ALS Association Golden West Chapter’s reception for us!

Much love from the Pacific,

– Charly and Fred

* Naturally, we ask that you not share the above equation with our competitors, as it will provide them with a strategic advantage. If you must, provide them with this equation with a 6-hour delay, much like the Yellowbrick GPS tracking does.  Thanks. 


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Finding the Wind

Yesterday, we had our knotmeter going nuts using our A4 spinnaker. The record of the day belongs to Charly: 16.84 knots in an epic surf (damn it, the GoPro wasn’t on). Fred hit 14.23 knots while Toto (our autopilot) got us up to 13.15.

The winds calmed down during the day so we busted out the Captain’s spinnaker i.e. the magic A2 with ALS logo to head South. In the evening, we went back to the Code 0 which we are still using this morning. The winds are fluctuating between 8 and 16 knots and 280 to 310 so we have to be vigilant with our adjustments.

We are currently setting the course south of the direct route to get around the high pressure area ahead.

As for the crew, we are feeling much better. We are starting to eat normally again after a rough first 48 hours on our stomachs. Last night, we enjoyed some Poulet Basquaise and both got our turn with our beds.

This morning, we are taking on day 4 better-rested and refreshed. However, we are starting to smell as pleasant as those whales’ blowholes we mentioned the other day so we are waiting on the sun to peak through the clouds for a much-needed bucket shower. It’s a bit too cold and humid right now, kind of like the Finistere in October (all of our friends from Brittany will know what we mean).

Cheers from 35.10N and 126.26W!

– Charly & Fred

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