December 11, 2008

Setting sail at last!

After 4000 km cycling to the TOP of Australia and many schools, on the 29th of November, we finally set sail on a venture up the east coast, to try make it across to Lord Howe! We left on a Saturday, with our crew, Simon, Peter, Adrian and Jacqui, and headed north to Pitt Water.


Then after a night in the beautiful national park, we continued our journey to Newcastle. We said goodbye to Peter and Simon, and while staying a day there, we managed to visit the local school, and gave another one of our presentations!


It wasn't long before we left again, but due to the easterly winds, we decided to go even further north, to try get a smoother sail across to Lord Howe. We made it to Port Stephens, in the beautiful bay, where we said "Goodbye" to our last crew-mate Adrian, and "Hello" to a new arrival, Bill Dobson, an old sailing friend from Melbourne we met in Tahiti!


So finally, we set sail across to Lord Howe. The winds were coming in strong from the East, which was making progress very difficult. Although, there were some great highlights, such as the occasional visit from a few dolphin friends! :)


Sabine even spotted one animal following PACHAMAMA's trail, that isn't quite as friendly; a GREAT WHITE SHARK! Alas, after three days on the open ocean, fighting the winds, we tried to get to Lord Howe, but with no avail. Eventually, turning back towards Port Stephens.


Disappointed, but not demoralised, we made the best of the situation, and performed a Clean up along the beach of Port Stephans!


And although it was no "Everest",the view was stunning from the mountains in the national park. The time here also gave the Children a chance to have a swim and play at the beach, in the Aussie-summer weather!

After a few lovely days, and a sail back to Newcastle, we have made our way to "Bobbin head" at Broken Bay. Stuck here for the weekend due to even more treacherous winds, we will enjoy the magical australian scenery and prepare the boat for it's next biggest challenge; THE ROLEX SYDNEY HOBART YACHT RACE! Only weeks to go, the crew lists almost finalised, and the boat in "tip-top" condition, tension and excitement it certainly building!

So, it will be a few hectic and busy weeks ahead, but we will approach them with gusto and try to enjoy the stressful and energetic times to come! Wish us luck!


Posted by dario at 1:08 AM

December 13, 2008

Start to be Webcast Live Around the World


In what is regarded as a world first for the sport of yachting, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia is pleased to announce that the Seven Network and Yahoo!7, will provide a live 90 minute webcast of the start of the 64th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race to a global audience.
This means that in addition to Seven Network's live television broadcast in Australia, anyone, in any country around the world will be able to watch the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race provided they have a computer and broadband internet access from 12.30pm AEST until 2:00pm AEST.
With spectator numbers on Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Harbour foreshore expected to reach around 500,000 people, together with Seven Network's Australia wide television audience of 500,000 viewers, and the addition of Yahoo!7's national and international audience reach, it is predicted that the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be one of the most viewed sporting events in the world in the month of December.
CYCA Commodore Matt Allen today announced, "I am delighted to announce this wonderful initiative and a first for the sport of yachting through our broadcaster Seven Network in which we have extended the rights for the start of the 64th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht race to incorporate a live webcast on Yahoo!7. This enables a truly global audience to view the race start - and with the large number of international entrants in this year's race, this will generate an even greater worldwide interest to one of the world's most iconic ocean races."

Saul Shtein, Seven Network Head of Sport commented "Seven Network and Yahoo!7 is delighted to work with the CYCA to extend both the broadcast and webcast of the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. With Yahoo!7's video streaming technology, we are now able reach a global audience who otherwise would have had to rely on edited news vision and photographs to see the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race".
Kath Hamilton, General Manager, Media for Yahoo!7 said, "Yahoo!7 Sport's audience has grown enormously in 2008 on the back of our comprehensive coverage of international sporting events the calibre of the Olympics Games, Australian Open and Melbourne Cup Carnival. This new initiative means that Australians who are away from their television and people right around the world can now view the race start. It is exciting for our users and our business and it's the perfect event for us to end the year with."
In addition to the live 90 minute broadcast and webcast, Seven Network and Yahoo!7 will be presenting up to 4 race updates per day until the overall winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is determined.
Seven Network's broadcast will be hosted by Gordon Bray and yachting expert Rob Brown. Gordon has a long association with the race, including making the journey by sea six times onboard the radio relay vessel. Rob Brown is a highly regarded yachtsman with nine Rolex Sydney Hobarts under his belt and is a former 18-foot skiff world champion and was part of the winning Australia II crew in the 1983 America's Cup.
To see all the colour and action of the start of the 64th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race tune into the Seven Network or the official race website and follow the links to yahoo7 from 12.30pm AEST on 26 December 2008.

Posted by dario at 11:35 AM

December 23, 2008


Finally!!! After MONTHS of preparation, panic, and pandemonium, PACHAMAMA is ready to race in the 2008 ROLEX SYDNEY HOBART YACHT RACE!

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We can barely believe it, as SO much has happened in the past few weeks and days!! After staying at Bobbin Head for a few days, we then made our way back to sydney via the beautiful refuge bay!

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Lot's of other events have been going on, including an exciting visit from a number of enviromental consultants, which was organised by our sponsor SGS. They had a great time on the Harbour, and learnt everything about the TOPtoTOP Global Climate Change Expedition's efforts to battle global warming! It's also been a big time for media! With the Press buzzing around the CYC, we have been busy scheduling TV interviews, Radio interviews, Magazine Interviews.... the list is endless! Channel 7 had fun with us this morning, sailing side-by-side PACHAMAMA getting some shots with the Opera-House and Harbour Bridge in the background!

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But we can't express enough how much the vibe of the race is pumping at the CYCA! Live bands have been playing at the permanently packed marina pub, while skippers, crew, media and families are all flying around in prep for the race!

But enough about that, it's finally time to announce and introduce... THE 2008 CREW FOR THE ROLEX SYDNEY HOBART YACHT RACE!!!! (Drum roll please...)

Jacqui Hocking
Jacqui has been a volunteer with the expedition for a while now, and has been living on the boat with Dario and Sabine, completing a Documentary with total coverage of their journey! Joining Syd-Hobart will be a fantastic oppertunity to film the family in action, and she can't wait to get her camera in it's "scuba-gear" and get washed-out footage in the waves! (Just don't get salt on the lens!!!)

Simon Hoerauf
Simon met Dario and Sabine through Peter Braig, the photographer (not only for the Financial Times, but also;) for the expedition! Simon currently works with the innovative company "Play communications" and in his spare time enjoys sailing on his own yacht "Lisa" (Also commonly known as "Lisa the Boat" :) Like all the crew, it will be Simons first Sydney-Hobart, but you never know, it certainly might not be his last!! :)

Bill Dobson
Bill ran (or "sailed!") into the expedition while he was cruising around Tahiti! There, he sailed with the family, and a close bond was formed. Now, 2 years later, they re-unite, as Bill comes up from Melbourne to join the race. An experienced sailor, he is looking forward to what the Bass Straight has to offer!

Daniel Leuheit!
Dan has just arrived from Germany, and I don't think he could have ever imagined his holiday turning into something quite as exciting as this!!! He has been racing yachts for several years, although this will be his biggest journey yet! He is loving the pre-race celebrations, and just can't wait to get on the water!

And ofcourse, Dario and Sabine!!!

Another exciting update however, is that a last-minute crew member has come onboard!!! Matteo Micelli has been sailing for years, and has done several regattas with both small and maxi yachts. His biggest achievement so far, has been setting a world record crossing the Atlantic with a little 20-foot catamaran he built himself. His next venture is to attempt to circumnavigate the world, solo and unassisted, on his class40 yacht he built himself in his Italian shipyard! And now he will be joining the TOPtoTOP Global Climate Expedition in this years Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race! Everyone is happy to do the race with the great sailer, and Matteo is having a wonderful time onboard preparing for the big day tomorrow!

Sadly the kids won't be attending the race, due to strict regulations! But they'll be in Hobart to celebrate their parents arrival on New Year. (The teams ETA).

So, another year has nearly passed, but against all odds, the TOPtoTOP Global Climate Change Expedition is STILL underway! It definitely hasn't been easy, but with the help of all the families, friends, sponsors, and volunteers, we continue to spread our message, inspire, and educate the world about Global warming! We are continually stunned by the enthusiasm and hospitality that people have shown towards the expedition, and the race has been a perfect example of the kindness and generosity that the human spirit is capable of! As we continue to find positive example of renewable technology and environmental achievements, we have also been finding positive examples of communities, families and businesses' that are always more than willing to contribute, in what-ever way they can, towards the expedition and our cause.
Thank-you for helping us get to where we are! We could not have done it without you! And most importantly, we would like to wish everyone the BIGGEST, MERRIEST, CHRISTMAS and the HAPPIEST NEW YEAR!!!

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That's all from us for now, make sure you watch the race on Boxing Day, (26th of December) on Channel 7s LIVE-streamed broadcast online!
There's also sure to be a cover story and a few interviews on various news channels within Australia, so keep tuned in, and we'll keep you updated online on our website!

Wish us luck for the race! SEE YOU IN HOBART!!

-TOPtoTOP race-team 08! :)

Posted by dario at 1:02 AM

December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Well, we certainly couldn't have asked for better promotion of our cause! The TOPtoTOP expedition has been receiving a massive amount of Media attention! All major channels will broadcast a segment in the news tonight about PACHAMAMA's participation in the race, including a half-hour feature on Channel 7. The media was particularly happy this morning, when they were invited to cover the arrival of Santa Claus, who delivered presents to Salina and Andri! It was a wonderful morning for the Children, along with everyone on board. There is a real christmas spirit here at the CYCA, buzzing with excitement about the race!

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If you are living in Australia, try catch the expedition on the news tonight at the following times;


Channel 7 - 6.00pm
Channel 10 - 5.20pm
Channel 9 - 6.00pm
SBS - 6.30pm
ABC - 7.15pm

Also Tomorrow;
ABC radio - 7til 7.45pm
The Daily Telegraph Newspaper .

It's wonderful to get so much attention, we really hope the media can help us raise awareness of Global Warming, and help to promote our example of sustainable energy. This was our main goal in taking part of the race, and already we feel that it has been a great success! PACHAMAMA has been in the spotlight all week, with her solar panels and wind turbines nicely on display!

SO! Merry Christmas to everyone once again! Hope your celebrating, and having a wonderful time!

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Best regards, from TOPtoTOP.

Posted by dario at 4:30 AM

December 30, 2008

Good News and Hard Decision

HAPPY NEW YEAR and thank you all woh supported TOPtoTOP with the annual membership!

Deutsche Version: Siehe unten!

Check the newest press articles: Le Matin 1, Le Matin 2, Thurgauer Zeitung




The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was a great experience for all of us. We had a good position after the start.
With all our expedition material we were quite heavy in the water and a block of our main halyard did not work properly. Result: we could not go so high to the wind and we were the last boat leaving the heads. The visitors on the many boats were just great and supported us even more.


After Sydney harbor all the other boats were putting their spinnakers and we had difficulties to keep up with our heavy sails. Unfortunately we do not have a spi and this will be also a handicap for the future of the expedition when we sail in lithe winds near the equator.
We lost from hour to hour some distance to the racing boats, but we made some good distance in the first day. I the night we received a MAYDAY and heard that the boat "Georgia" sank and all the crew were rescued.
Saturday afternoon we got once 40 knots in a thunderstorm with dramatic clouds and had to put the 3rd reef in. The air pressure felt from 1008 mb to 1002 mb in no time! Then the GPS failed and one of our lazy jacks.
Because of the stormy air mass we could not receive the weather from Race Control properly. We heard that a boat just in front of us turned back and I was not sure if it is because of the weather. We sailed closer to the coast and got our friend Markus Marbach on his mobile. He was able to give us some weather information. Our kids Salina and Andri are at Markus and Mercedes place during the race and we were happy to hear that they have a great time with their children Seline and Chantal.
To be sure we decided just before midnight to enter Eden to get some good weather information and sat pictures from the internet before we continue to cross Bass Street. In the mean time we were also able to do some repairs.
The situation was clear: At the end of the fleet we will not make it over Bass Street before the cold front and strong SW are starting to blow. That was bad news. What would I normally do when I am not in a race? The answer was clear: wait until the front passed away. But the situations become more complex, because 3 frontal systems are expecting without a weather window in the next 5 days of min. 2 days we need to cross the Street. To wait in Eden for so long and get to Hobart after the 5th of January was not only a problem for us with the kids but also for the crew with work.
The only chance was now that to cold front is late and the wind swings to the W so that we are able to cross the street into the shelter of Flinders Island in time.
Sunday 9 h we left Eden with a good plan so that we are able make it to Flinders or in a worse case still are able to turn back to Eden.

Maximum wind speed in the gust 62 knots! Average always between 40 and 50 knots.

On Sunday afternoon the SW wind was getting stronger and stronger and the barometer felt. The first front was approaching. At midnight we had 25 knots on the face. We made nearly no distance towards with tacking towards Hobart and there was slight current from the S. Early Monday morning the wind still did no change to the W. Wind and waves were increasing and we made approx. 2 nautical miles over ground per hour. The Flinders were still 150 nautical miles in the SW. Nature's message was clear!
After one year of hard preparation to get to the starting line, we turned back towards Eden. The decision was right. The SW was blowing with up to 45 knots soon after and the sea was building fast. One wave nearly made it into the boat.
Monday night we were in front of Eden. The crew decided to continue to Sydney, because of kids and work and hopefully see the fireworks on the 31st.
The whole crew and many friends with us were looking forward to arrive in Hobart. To turn back was the hardest decision for us in 2008. The most important we achieved: everybody comes home safely and the best: we actually have been 8 crew members: Bill, Daniel, Jacqui, Mateo,Simon, Dario and Sabine + 1 = the youngest crew on the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (left to right).


We were not fast enough to make the passage over the Bass Street before the front. While we were in Bass Street the fast boats were already in Hobart and had good sailing conditions.
With our turn back we showed that we respect nature and that is the best concept to survive not only for us also for our society. The respect towards nature was always the central message of TOPtoTOP and that was also our first rule in this race.

Deutsche Version:

Wir hatten eine gute Position beim Start des Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Es war ein fantastisches Erlebnis alle 100 Segelschiffe auf so engem Raum. Die Luft war gefüllt mit den nervösen Rufen der Skipper und die vielen „huras" und „hopp schwyz" der Zuschauer auf den unzähligen Booten.
Nach dem Startschuss konnten wir nicht so hoch am Wind segeln wie die andern Boote. Dies weil wir mit dem ganzen Expeditionsmaterial viel schwerer sind, zum andern funktionierte der Block fürs Grossfall plötzlich nicht mehr, so dass wir das Vorlik des Grosssegels nicht genügend straffen konnten.
Nachdem wir mit Aufkeuzen den Hafen von Sydney verlassen hatten, setzten die anderen Schiffe ihren Spi und rauschten uns davon. Leider haben wir kein leichtes Vorsegel und dies wird auch in Zukunft ein Handicap bleiben, wenn wir in Zonen mit leichten Winden auf Vorwindkurs segeln.
Wir verloren zwar von Stunde zu Stunde den Anschluss zu den „Rennmaschinen", doch kamen wir am ersten Tag gut voran. In der Nacht hörten wir ein Mayday und erfuhren dass das Schiff „Georgia" sank und die gesamte Crew gerettet wurde.
Am Samstag Nachmittag hatten wir in einem Gewitter mit gewaltigen Wolkentürmen 40 Knoten und setzten das 3. Reff. Der Barometer fiel von 1008 mb auf 1002 mb innerhalb kürzester Zeit. Dann stieg das GPS aus und kurz darauf riss das Lazy Jack.
Infolge der gewitterigen Luftmasse konnten wir die Wetterinformationen vom Race Control per Funk nur schlecht empfangen. Wir hörten dass zwei Schiffe gerade vor uns umgedreht haben und wir fragten uns, ob dies mit der Wetterprognosen im Zusammenhang steht. Wir segelten etwas näher an die Küste und erreichten unseren Freund Markus Marbach telefonisch in Sydney, der uns die aktuellen Wetterverhältnisse übermitteln konnte, was uns in der Bass Street erwartet. Salina und Andri waren bei Markus und Mercedes und ihren beiden Töchtern Seline und Chantal in den Ferien und fühlten sich zum Glück sehr wohl bei ihrer Gastfamilie.
Um auf Nummer sicher zu gehen, beschlossen wir kurz vor Mitternacht Eden anzulaufen, um dort am Internet die aktullen Wetterinformationen und Satelitenbilder herunterzuladen und gleichzeitig gerade die Schäden versuchen zu beheben.
Die Situation war klar, dass wir am Schluss der Flotte es gerade nicht mehr schaffen über die Bass Street zu kommen, bevor die Kaltfront diese berüchtigte Meeresstrasse überquert und anschliessend starke SW Winde einsetzen. Die Last auf meinen Schultern war enorm. Ich überlegte mir, was ich tun würde, wenn wir „normal" unterwegs wären und in keinem Race. Die Antwort war klar: Abwarten und Front vorbeiziehen lassen. Die Sache wurde aber kompliziert, da gerade 3 Fronten im Anzug waren und damit für die nächsten 5 bis 6 Tage mit keinem Wetterfenster von min. 2 Tagen zu rechnen war, um die Strasse zu überqueren. Würden wir abwarten, wäre unsere Ankunft in Hobart realistischerweise nicht vor dem 5. Januar möglich, was wiederum ein organisatorisches Problem mit Arbeit (Crew) und Kinder (Babysitter) darstellte.
Die einzige Chance blieb, dass die erste Kaltfront doch etwas verspätet durchzieht und der Wind von SW auf W dreht und wir es so doch noch in den Schutz der Flinder Islands auf der anderen Seite der berüchtigten Meeresstrasse schaffen.
Als wir am Sonntag um 9 h ablegten, setzte ich mir eine Zeitlimite bis wann wir wo in der Bass Street sein müssen, damit wir es nach Flinders schaffen respektive den Schutz von Eden doch noch aufsuchen können.
Am Sonntagnachmittag nahm dann der SW Wind konntinuierlich zu und der Barometer sank in den Keller. Die Front war im Anmarsch! Um Mitternacht hatten wir 25 Knoten Gegenwind. Bereits am nachmittag sahen wir, dass wir mit Aufkruezen kaum Höhe gut machten Richtung Hobart. Zudem hatten wir etwas Gegenstrom von S. Auch am frühen Montag morgen drehte der Wind nicht von S nach W. Wind und Wellen nahmen zu und wir schafften kaum 2 Seemeilen pro Stunde; die Flinders waren in diesem Zeitpunkt immer noch 150 Seemeilen SW von uns. Die Zeichen der Natur waren klar.
Mit schweren Herzen, nach einem Jahr harten Vorbereitungen, um all den Sicherheitsvorschriften der Rennleitung zu genügen, drehten wir das Steuer Richtung Eden.
In der Folge nahm der Wind aus SW bis 45 Knoten zu und die See baute sich schnell auf in diesem flachen Meer wo sich der Pazifik und der Indische Ozean trifft. Eine Welle schaffte es beinahe in Schiff.
Am Montag abend waren wir wieder auf der Höhe von Eden. Die Crew beschloss den Südwind auszunützen und Richtung Sydney weiterzusegeln, da ein nochmaliges abwarten infolge Kinder und Arbeit nicht in Frage kam. Wir hoffen am 31. Januar anzukommen, damit wir als Trost das Feuerwerk an der Harbour Bridge bestaunen können.
Die ganze Crew und viele Freunde haben mit uns mitgefiebert für die Ankunft in Hobart. Wir sind natürlich alle entäuscht, dass es nicht bis Hobart geklappt hat. Für uns war das Umkehren die härteste Entscheidung im 2008. Niederlagen gehören zum Sport und es liegt nun an uns damit umzughen und daraus das positive mitzunehmen. In diesem Sinn haben wir das wichtigste erreicht: Die Crew ist wohlauf! ....und das Beste: wir waren evektiv 8 crew: Mateo, Bill, Daniel, Jacqui, Simon, Dario, Sabine + 1 = mit einem Monat wahrscheinlich der jüngste Teilnehmer in einem Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 
Wir waren nicht so schnell wie die andern und in der heiklen Passage der Bass Street waren wir gerade zu spät respektive die Fronten zu früh. Während wir in der Bass Street waren, waren die schnellen Boote unter guten Bedingungen bereits in Hobart angekommen.
Wir haben mit sportlichem Ehrgeiz etwas gewagt und haben im richtigen Zeitpunkt die Kraft gehabt umzukehren. Mit unserer Umkehr haben wir die Zeichen der Natur ernst genommen und die Natur respektiert. Dies ist die beste Strategie, um langfrstig zu überleben auch im übertragenen Sinn für unseren Gesellschaft. Der Respekt gegenüber der Natur war schon immer die zentrale Message von TOPtoTOP und so sind wir auch an diesem Anlass unseren Grundfesten treu geblieben.

Dario Schwoerer, Skipper Pachamama, Swiss TOPtoTOP Global Climate Expedtion,
S 35.10 E 150.48

Posted by dario at 6:45 AM