Do you want to go around the world? Set sail (and make do!): the vicissitudes of Nérée Cornuz

néréeThat “crazy” Nérée.

néréeI open Facebook. And I see the photo of Nérée Cornuz (the procidese-Swiss, class of 1989, who will take part in the 2018 Golden Globe Race, the solo round-the-world race without instruments on long keel hulls) that you can see here to the side. A few days ago I read about another Australian participant in the Golden Globe, Shane Freeman, who has
off the coast of Chile.

I think, “They are trying so hard these ‘crazy people’ to get hurt before they leave.” Then I decide to contact Nérée to have her tell me what happened to him. “I took a pule in the face. But I will explain more in a few days that I am now 70 miles from Cape Town.” In a few days? Seventy miles you do in one day! “Yes, but they are sailing in total becalmedness.” Turn on the engine? “But what engine, I don’t have one!” Have you sailed from Richards Bay (Republic of South Africa), one of the most dangerous places for currents, without a motor? “Yes”. Okay, he’s crazy, I say to myself. But it has a story to tell. I waited a few days and was rewarded with what you will read.

We will also shortly dwell on the man Nérée Cornuz, the reason for his strange name, his life. And what led him to purchase in South Africa a Lello 34 (christened Rendezvous), an old boat on which to participate in the GGR.

Meanwhile, here are his post-purchase vicissitudes of the boat for the South African coast (destination Falmouth, where the regatta will start on June 16: for Italy, Federico Beccaria and the “Franco-Roman” Patrick Phelipon are also competing). Narrated in his own way, colorful and funny. Read and you will understand that Nérée is not a madman, but a young navigator who knows his stuff. (E.R.)


We start right from Richards Bay, where Nérée bought the boat. “On February 8, we treed the boat. The shipyard gave me the wrong paterazzi (the Lello 34 owns two), one and a half meters too short. Unable to get good stuff in acceptable time at Richards Bay, so I stretched with 12-gauge Dyneema strands.

On the 9th we launched, without an engine. We maneuvered into the dock by trolling a couple of kilometer-long lines between the docks, because Of course, the tender outboard made available to us ran only 30 seconds. The next two weeks the mechanics (who had already been working on it for two months) attempted to put the Perkins 102-04 that had been sold to me for new back in place. Hell no!

On Feb. 19 I installed the homemade wind pilot made the month before, and on Feb. 20 the little boy who had begged me for months to accompany me and whom I had finally brought along rethought his priorities and decided that sailing wasn’t really for him. He flew home the next day. I knew I should have brought along a beautiful babe!”.


He continues: “On February 21, I landed the engine and lifted the propeller. I went out into the bay to try the wind pilot with Giuliano, an Italian friend I met in Richards Bay. This is a sprightly 76-year-old gentleman who is currently living on a replica of the Spray, he has been in Africa for half a century-a big character you have never seen! The sea trial proved to be quite satisfactory. From February 21 to 27, the weather nailed me to Richards Bay.

In the meantime, I installed what little electronics I had: three new 20-amp AGM batteries, a 36-w salvage solar panel to power them. A simple fixed VHF, an inverter, and a second-hand SSB for which I am still looking for the power cord. Then a second-hand Plastimo four-person raft bought from a boatload of Americans, two PLBs, and an Inmarsat satellite phone.

The choice of second-hand materials is primarily due to the fact that technical and financial sponsors first promise and then give you the umbrella gesture. I just don’t understand… I still go ahead with my head down.“.


It goes: “I set sail on the evening of the 27th from Richards Bay. With a handful of east coast charts to Port Elizabeth and my phone for GPS. I sailed to East London, 360 miles south, the second day was tough with 30 to 40 knots of air from the east. And a good four meters of wave (I had sailed too little and the boat was heartier): in the vertical waves that overtook me to starboard and left we could see lampugas that must have been 40 kilos launched at full speed following the flying fish gliding out of the water in the wave hollow (cool). On the fourth night I stayed at the hood during the passage of a SW depression (not too strong). I arrived in East London on the evening of March 4.”


In those days Nérée makes these logbook notes: “Pleasantly surprised by the boat’s performance, she glides with little air and is very agile and maneuverable for a long keel. Keeps a good course stability on certain gaits if sailed the right way. So far, however, I have been traveling super light (with little stuff on board and no engine or diesel in the tank). At 15 knots it calls for a reefing hand and with three hands and jib three I sailed in 30 to 40 knots with no problems (but the current may have helped).

The preferred gait seems to be between traverse and broad windward. It has a tendency to heave if underinvaded at the bow. It requires a lot of canvas in the bow especially on carrying swells and when there is a wave. For the full stern with genoa and jib tangoned to the wind it sets on a rail and pulls straight as a spindle. Servopendulum is not good in its current state. The feeling is that the surface area of the rudder blade is too small. In light winds it is not sensitive enough. In high winds it does not correct enough. In medium wind it is fine upwind. At the carriers it swings. I think the best solution is to build a nice powerful compensated auxiliary rudder. It would help so much at carriers with wave. If it swings with the servopendulum… With the trim tab it will be even worse. When it’s beating hard outside under the deck, it’s super quiet. Uncomfortable winches at the mast.

I was very disappointed with the quality of the work operated by the site. There are a lot of things to redo. But the boat itself looks pretty tough. How convenient the double forestay! I don’t know whether or not to put in a strallet. The boom is very long! Aft with a little roll you shove it into the water in no time, in fact I’ve already folded it on a strap. The mainsail that I have has 2 bugna attachments (one like 20 cm higher) and so too on the reefers, I think it is to get around the above problem, but I haven’t tried it yet.”


But back to the story, “Upon arrival at the dock, a gentleman (Patrick Gee) kindly helped me moor and invited me to his home for dinner, I gave him my plastic sextant and he reciprocated with a thousand other courtesies that I won’t list here, we became great friends. In East London I stayed for a week waiting for a couple of Belgian friends, on the 40-foot steel Florestan in which they are returning home after a circumnavigation, had stopped in Durban.

I took the opportunity to try to fix a few things:

– I mitered the wooden rudder tiller that was flaking off.
– I built a respectful one
– I monkeyed a bit with the wind-pilot – big mistake – it got a lot worse!
– I changed the boom to one that is 40 cm shorter on which I can take reefing hands more easily. (I also bought for cheap a tangon to repair and some pulleys from a local gentleman.)


Nérée set off again on March 9: “Packed up all the broadsides, I set off on the morning of the 9th and arrived in Port Elizabeth after a 140-mile ride with 30 to 40 knots in full stern. This is not the preferred gait of Rendezvous, which does everything it can to get sideways. The windward pilot can’t make it in these waves, so hand-steering for 14 hours, I decide to delay the gybe to make a second tack across and give myself some rest. It costs me a good three hours but at least I arrive fresh. To make sure we don’t miss anything, sailing maneuver in the harbor, since I don’t have a motor. Thanks to the folks at Florestan for their mooring assistance.


I departed Sunday evening in the last puffs of the southwest, just enough to round Cape Recife, then slept all night (a glance every half hour at the traffic) in the flat calm with the current that made the course. The next day entered east and sailed well to Plattenberg Bay, I did not dare attempt the sailing port call 15 miles ahead at Knysna (port accessed via a very narrow four-meter inlet, high rocky ridge on both sides, strong current since it is a shallow estuary and breakers that batter the inlet when there is an easterly wave). Florestan’s friends told me that I did just fine.

In the early afternoon a southwesterly wind came in with yet another depression, I dropped two anchors at Plattenberg and was a 5-day recluse in the boat, impossible to go down in that wave. I read a book given to me by Julian (on wind riders) and monkeyed with mine again, which has improved a bit since then. Every night I was visited by a seal that came hunting under the boat, drawing long phosphorescent squiggles in the water overflowing with plankton.”


Not everything goes right: “I left on March 19, I should have taken advantage of the remaining southern breeze but I was lazy (mistake paid dearly a few days later). I hoped to set sail at dawn the next day, but the east was struggling to enter the bay where a bubble was created. In the end, I only managed to round the Robberg Peninsula at 2 p.m. Beautiful sailing all day and night left tack with double jib and the pilot doing it all: 15 knots!

The next morning wacky and the starboard tack wind pilot does not work. Stern winds. I hoped to round Cape Agulhas and Good Hope before the announced high pressure came in. I pass Cape Aghulas at 00:30 on March 21. Two hours later it is flat calm, thick fog and freezing cold. Ships are sounding fog signals all around all night, I can’t hoist the mainsail because the darn halyard catches in the mast steps and at night I don’t feel like going up to unravel it. I try to send it to the masthead but it gets caught in the low rigging attachment crosswise on the channel, so not even the furling I can use. I tie a knot.

In the morning the fog clears, I finally go to release the halyard, and as soon as the sea breeze dies, with the boat tossed about by the dead sea or the wave from who knows what ship the mainsail sheet sheave gives me a good smack in the face. Sun all day, zero air, only a little walking with alternating land and sea breeze, but I make 2 knots average and no sleep. The following day such and such. Truly breathtaking were the encounters with sperm whales and seals, in the hundreds all around. After Good Hope I am escorted by ten dolphins to Hout Bay.


Seventy miles in three days! arrived in port under sail on the 23rd at 2 p.m., greeted by Justin Phillips, a kind gentleman I met last year and gave me some info on the Lello. Now I am writing to you from his home where I am taking advantage of his very efficient workshop, wifi, red wine cellar, and always-on barbecue, I have been a guest for three days! Yesterday I was able to fix the wind pilot, which should now be balanced even mure to starboard. That’s it for the time being!

Nérée Cornuz.” You too can follow Nérée Cornuz’s vicissitudes toward the 2018 Golden Globe Race: on her Facebook page and on her website.




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La vela, le sue storie, tutte le barche, gli accessori. Iscriviti ora alla nostra newsletter gratuita e ricevi ogni settimana le migliori news selezionate dalla redazione del Giornale della Vela. E in più ti regaliamo un mese di GdV in digitale su PC, Tablet, Smartphone. Inserisci la tua mail qui sotto, accetta la Privacy Policy e clicca sul bottone “iscrivimi”. Riceverai un codice per attivare gratuitamente il tuo mese di GdV!

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