November 17 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – METS, another podcast, our first YouTube episode and an update

Nov 17, 2022

Lots going on, check it out!

I have just been featured on the ‘Offshore Sailing and Cruising’ podcast with Paul Trammell. Check out the interview out wherever you get your podcasts or at the link here:

Also, check out our first YouTube episode! Episode #2 is almost done and will drop soon.

I am writing this post from Amsterdam, the Netherlands! I never would have imagined that the first bit of international travel related to this racing project would be a 3 day trip to Amsterdam, but so it goes. At the Newport and the Annapolis boat shows, I had several people ask me if I was going to METS, which piqued my curiosity. It’s the largest marine trade show on earth, and literally everyone in the marine industry is there. Flights were surprisingly cheap and so was the hotel, and so I have popped over to Amsterdam to engage with current sponsors and also to seek out new ones. The show is just three days and my trip is almost over, but I would have to say it was a productive trip.

I’m happy to bring on new sponsors Vakaros (and likely Cyclops Marine by extension), who makes an innovative new electronics system that is typically used on small one-design boats. Their products will allow me to add redundancy to my instrumentation while also enabling more data and therefore performance gains. Sparrow will be a super cool test platform for them to continue to develop their products and test them in harsh new environments, but also an opportunity for them to break into big boats, as their company intends to grow substantially and develop a new range of products for bigger boats. In theory, their Atlas 2 system and it’s upcoming NMEA 2000 compatibility will offer me a small, super slick little wireless instrumentation system that will not only offer me new data and peroformance gains, but also complete system redundancy by linking in back up wind instruments to my back-up autopilot. Complete system redundancy on every system of the boat is a high priority for me, and I am super stoked to meet these guys (both from my home town of Atlanta, GA) who have developed an amazing product that is being used very successfully by the top one-design small boat programs on earth. With Cyclops Marine, we’ll be able to get load cell information to our Vakaros Instruments, which is extremely critical to the program. I am very excited to begin working with these awesome companies that have amazing technology and seem keen to use the boat as a test bed and marketing platform to raise their brand awareness.

I am also confident that I will be receiving some pretty significant support from Spinlock. I talked to them in Annapolis and now here at METS and they seem keen to support the program, which will really help out in upgrading our rope cluches and also adding some of their innovative sail handling and safety equipment. Spinlock is quite obviously an industry leader and they are the #1 name in rope clutches. I have had their products on all of my own boats in the past and Sparrow is in need of some new rope clutches and other equipment. Super cool to have another industry giant help me out.

Speaking of industry giants, I had excellent discussions with Wichard Group, New England Ropes and Ronstan, who enthusiastically support the program. It is nice to see these same sponsors in Newport, Annapolis and Amsterdam, and to continue to build the Sparrow and Ronnie Simpson Racing brand. These are such amazintg connections with huge brands that I can take all the way to the Vendée Globe. And they want to see me get there, that’s the cool part. It is truly inspiring and exciting to be in Europe at a huge trade show and having industry titans reaffirming their commitments and support for me as a round the world racing skipper, and for this current program. I am honored to represent these brands.

Day by day, I am getting more and more excited for this campaign to progress and to get the boat really put together and be able to sail her hard and sail her properly. Global Solo Challenge is in less than a year, there is a lot to be done!

Speaking of the Global Solo Challenge, I have had my first discussions with the race director Marco Nannini and they were very posititve. There are some ways that I was not happy with the rules as they were written (in regards to start dates), but he assured me that this would not be the case and that the precise start date situation would evolve more when we know exactly what boats will be in the race. On that front, an Open 60 with a known round the world skipper just signed up and Marco let him in, so this is now an Open 60 race too. I support that. Let’s make this race huge. Make it crazy. Get a lot of eyeballs on it. As long as he makes the start dates fair, which it sounds like he will, then i’m getting what I signed up for. I’m going to get a fair shot at a big round the world race and I have an Open 50 that should be well prepared. The rest is up to me. Let’s do this. There is a lot of work to be done, but i’ll get there.

Before coming to METS for three days, I was just in Annapolis for three days after a trip to California. While in California, I sold my cruising boat to alleviate monthly finanical expenses and to raise captial at the same time. While there, I also secured a lease for Sparrow for two years and also grabbed a lot of gear for the boat from it’s owner, Whitall. I shipped out a hydrogenerator, solar panels, a water maker, lap top computers, a satellite dome and a bunch of other gear. I also carried an autopilot drive (and my wing foil gear ) on the airplane. There is also a new to me Fractional Zero being sent to Annapolis in a box from some friends who knew of a spare code zero no longer needed off of a race boat with a proper rig dimension. While in Annapolis for three days, I also received the stack pack from Chesapeake Sailmakers, which had some tiny modifications made. I also received a huge shipmemt of line from New Engalnd Ropes, which I spliced up into running rigging at The Rigging Company in Annapolis. Jimmie the owner and his staff were extremely kind and donated their time, shop space and some materials to help me splice up my new running rigging. And obviously, I can’t thank New England Ropes enough. At the Newport boat show, they gave me a first reef line as the exisitng one was done. And now, I got my first big shipment so that I can do the jib sheets, main sheet, traveller lines, lazy jacks, 2nd reef line and fractional spinnaker halyard. These are all things that we needed to keep the boat running. In fact, the port jib sheet cover blew up at the Annapoolis boat show the day after I requestd this line.

I am rushing to finish this to get back to the boat show and talk to one more person right before it closes.

I truly can not thank the many sponsors and supporters of this campaign enough, especially Whitall Stokes who has given me this opportunity. We are making massive strides in putting this campaign together and it’s really inspiring to have the support of so many.