Saturday, April 30, 2005

Editors Note

It's been a tremendous week in Zephyr's short life - many thanks to the shout out from Panbo's Electronics Blog - as well as the kind review in the April 27 issue of Scuttlebutt, a mention on Patrick's Sailing Blog ...and new Zephyr link postings from sources like the EVK4 Bloglet, Navagear and the New Orleans Yacht Club. If you've been entertained please subscribe to the site feed and pass the word along to your mates. Enjoy the weekend and see you on Monday (and if you get bored click through the archives for past postings).

Friday, April 29, 2005

Fighting for the mark at the Collegiate Women's Pacific Coast Championships (Photo Credit: Glennon Stratton - Posted by Hello

"Never in my life before have I experienced such beauty, and fear at the same time. Ten icebergs so far today ..." - Ellen MacArthur

When I was in high school (a long time ago) I departed an all male situation for a more “enlightened” education at a co-ed institution. The details of my personal history are irrelevant but the feeling that shift gave me isn’t – despite the fact that women tend to vex me I enjoy their company more often than not. So it is that I can say with conviction that the ever growing presence of woman in sailing today is a welcome trend generally. For a female perspective on that check out this interview with Betsy Alison on Anarchy. In answer to a question concerning “male backlash” she says rather adroitly, “Women are certainly starting to be recognized for the job they can do, and the skills they have. And socially…..I really can't picture an après sailing party with a bunch of guys dancing by/with themselves.” Amen Betsy, it's not a pretty sight. But in all seriousness, I’ve been offshore, around the cans and out for booze cruises with woman aboard and, true to form, they’re sociable, level-headed (mostly), tactical-minded, team-spirited…and to boot smell better than any deck ape. And many of them are damn good sailors (think Tracy Edwards, Dawn Riley, Lisa Charles and the indomitable Ellen MacArthur). It’s hard to imagine that our nautical forefathers spit sideways and muttered darkly about voodoo curses when women were aboard. Of course they doled out rations of rum to supposedly calm unruly crew as well so there's really no telling... Gentlemen, do yourselves a favor and click through the shots on Scuttlebutt from the Collegiate Women's Pacific Coast Championships. It’s a truly inspiring group of photos.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sail change aboard S/V Samsung during 2004-2005 Global Challenge (Photo Credit: Posted by Hello

First, a word of warning...

Are you stuck on the hamster wheel of life, unfulfilling day job, a car loan, the monthly rent/mortgage, insurance bills, cell phone fees stacking up…a perfect storm of land-based hassles keeping you from being true to the voyaging life? Do you spend your eight plus in a cubicle surfing sailing sites, reading about far off lands, reliving memories from that one week bareboat charter vacation in the BVI you took with your college roommates six years ago – or if you’re in school do you, instead of studying, spend endless hours virtually beating your hairy sailing chest on the Anarchy forums? Hey, there’s nothing wrong with any of this…but if you are this person then you probably know deep down you’re pissing away your dwindling time on Planet Earth. C’mon, live a little, follow your heart, take a risk and read this article from, of all things, Mother Earth News. The author just returned from a seven-month voyage ... a journey that touched down on four major continents over more than 8,000 miles - he covers how to make that bluewater crew berth of a lifetime a reality. It’s a terrific piece, chock-a-block with useful and well found advice. The typical cautionary notes are all there: feel comfortable with the crew, be certain you can handle not taking a shower, be cheerful and easy going, make eye contact. I’ll add another one based on my humble experience. Think twice before crewing offshore for a newly divorced, recently retired investment banker with a schizoid 35 year old bisexual Italian girlfriend. Let's just say the duct tape came in handy about 350 miles out. Ahhh

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Jordan’s Sailing Club

Strip away the regatta jock egos, post race posturing and the poor manners of the champ who anchored upwind of you in Cane Garden Bay during a blow without enough rode…and then promptly departed in his dinghy for the bar – well then you have most of the rest of us (hopefully) and guys like Steven Belton from San Pedro, CA. Steve started “Jordan’s Sailing Club” out of Jordan High School on 2265 East 103rd Street in Los Angeles – a perfectly fine institution of learning as far as I know…just not a lot in common with, say, the bar scene in English Harbor this week. To be more precise, Jordan High School is in a Los Angeles neighborhood called Watts. The club specializes in getting inner-city children out on sailboats. They have their own boat, a donated 23-foot sloop named 5 Deer that can fit up to nine kids on board. Says Belton of the effort, “It gives them a glimpse of something else. You're planting seeds as a teacher. You don't know what will grow." I enjoy the spectacle of fast, expensive yachts battling as much as the next fellow but stories like this reinforce my belief that the act of is, at the core, an opportunity for us to get beneath the noise to a more pure place – the sense of wonder at successfully harnessing the wind, the feeling when the sails are well trimmed and the helm balances, that instant when you are in perfect harmony with wind and water…I believe it touches something deep inside of us. Steve Belton seems to agree and he took the next step by working to bring that feeling to kids who could certainly use it. Three cheers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Downwind at Antigua Race Week 2004 (Photo credit: Rick Tomlinson - Posted by Hello

Antigua Sailing Week 2005

The 38th annual Antigua Race (Sailing) Week kicked off yesterday. Here’s a synopsis of the first day from Be sure to check in through the week here and here for updates. It looks like there’s a terrific competitive line up in the big boat class – including Tom Hill's Titan XII, the topic of this post – here is the official 2005 scratch sheet. I wrote about Antigua Week back in March…it’s an epic event and well worth attending if you have the chance…the analogy I use is that it’s like a Mardi Gras for sailors, big and brassy, crowded and sometimes a little out of control. The Antigua Classics Regatta on the other hand is more like Jazz Fest, mellower, classier and maybe a bit more even keeled. I guess another way to put it is…are you a reader of Sailing Anarchy or Latitude 38 ;-)

Monday, April 25, 2005

Hyde Pier at the San Francisco Maritime Museum - 1886 square-rigger Balclutha in the foreground Posted by Hello

Nautical Wheelers (who call themselves sailors...)

Music is an integral part of any culture – sailing is no exception. Jimmy Buffet is the prototypical nautical minstrel and, though I’m no parrot head by any stretch, I’ll cop to a fondness for some of his tunes…particularly the ones on the “Boats” disc from his box set, Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads. As well “A Pirate Looks at Forty” will have meaning for me before too long. Many different types of music above and beyond the more popular variety contribute to culture – check out this link to Hull’s International Sea Shanty Festival and this one to the Sea Music Festival sponsored by the San Francisco Maritime Museum. Historically, sea chanteys began as work songs aboard the tall ships and schooners that plied the oceans when trade was conducted under .

Sea chanteys, traditional shipboard work songs, were created and sung by sailors to lift spirits and maintain rhythm while working as a team. Other sea songs, like forebitters, ballads and drinking songs, were sung at leisure, or ashore. Today, these songs are a musical porthole into the past.

A few of my favorite sailing songs include “Lee Shore” by CSN – taken from their days aboard the schooner Mayan (acquired by David Crosby in 1967), Lyle Lovett “If I Had a Boat”, “When I Feel the Sea Beneath my Soul” by Taj Mahal "Sailing to Philadelphia" by Mark Knopfler and “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison. I’ll be glad to compile a “Top Ten Sailing Songs of All Time” so please cast your vote by commenting on this post.

We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Yachtsea disaster scoop from SAIL Magazine

In early April Zephyr commented - like every other sailing site - on the travails of the good ship Yachtsea, a Santana 22 that was crushed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco when she tried to run the current off of Fort Point. Pictures of the disaster were captured by photog Wayne Lambright with a Nikon D2h (with a 70-300mm lens) that shoots 8 frames per second. If you haven't seen the shots check them out here. Apparently the captain of the vessel, Joe Schmidt, a human resources executive from San Carlos, California - is now ready to give his account of the disaster. Great reporting by SAIL Magazine. According to the story in the two weeks following the April 2 posting, Wayne Lambright's web site had 17,000,000 page views. That's traffic we all can envy! The story is a good inside account but my favorite part was the apparent "harbinger" that occured when a crew member fell off the boat at the dock before the race began. Sailors are a notoriously superstitious lot, a part of sailing culture I plan to explore in more depth...and I applaud Schmidt for incorporating this illogical but congruous happening into the lore of his tale. Both the captain and crew were rescued by surfers - a detail proving to me once again that (pirates aside) we are all brethren on the water.

The wave went vertical, and things happened fast: "Is this the way I'm going, I wondered? I didn't know what the hell happened. It was like a freight train had hit us."

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Ashton Sampson

Ashton Sampson, a member of the South African America's Cup Challenge 2007 sailing Team Shosholoza Posted by Hello

Has sailing found its Arthur Ashe?

Here's a good follow-up topic to a March Zephyr post on color in sailing. Twenty-five-year-old Ashton Sampson is a (the first) black South African crewmember racing for America's Cup Challenge 2007 sailing Team Shosholoza. No need to restate – it’s been well covered. On Zephyr Andy Burton commented in regard to the lack of color in sailing, “I like to think that sailing is the last resistance to the rampant political correctness so pervasive in our land society. If black people want to get into sailing, they will.” I agree with him about self determination, but as any realist can tell you, a black person simply wanting to be part of something is not always enough to make it so. In the case of sports that resist integration (these days we can count sailing and lawn bowling), often there's a person who pushes the boundary with lasting impact. Think Arthur Ashe, Jackie Robinson, possibly even Tiger Woods. Is Ashton Sampson sailing’s Arthur Ashe? Maybe South Africa. But look at the facts - only three blacks have sailed in the America's Cup, all in 1992. Two with eventual winner America3, and one with Team Dennis Conner. Put aside those lamentable stats and agree that America fielding black crew members is one thing, but South Africa is a completely different beast. Andy Burton commented on Zephyr, “I can't point to any of my friends and say they wouldn't do their best to welcome anyone who was passionate about our sport, black or white.” Again, I don’t disagree. But racism is easy to dismiss as an individual...oh no it's not must be a few lone white hood wearing crackers, or, in the case of sailing, some moronic bigot at the local yacht club, on the board of the sailing association, etc. But actually this is our collective problem... which is exactly why Ashton is getting press. It’s easy to frame it in the context of South Africa and post-apartheid firsts but this discussion exposes sailing in general – a lightening rod for the last resistance to the rampant integration so pervasive in our world.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

North by northwest for New Zealand Voyager

New Zealander Graeme Kendall aims to solo around the world – not a unique ambition, but well worth noting because he’s attempting a first in sailing by traveling via the Arctic Northwest Passage. He leaves next week and according to this article, faces a trip of 150 to 180 days while covering over 28,000 nautical miles. His 40 foot, Kevlar-reinforced yacht is billed as “unsinkable.” For his sake we hope so. In the article he rates his chances of success 60 – 40 and notes that polar bears are worry - they are drawn by the smell of food cooking. The Northwest Passage is defined as the route from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the Arctic Archipelago of northern Canada and along the northern coast of Alaska. As Graeme says, the trip has three distinct phases – reaching the entrance to the passage (16,000 miles from Auckland), getting through it and getting back. One interesting note is that advances in satellite technology are what makes this extreme sailing voyage even remotely possible.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Buoyancy is in the eye of the beholder

S/V Javelin day two, St. Maarten Heineken Regatta 1996 Posted by Hello

Part Three: Eluding Davey Jones

This is the third installment in the four part saga “Eluding Davey Jones.” If you haven’t read the first chapter here and the second chapter here then please review before continuing…

Tom raised the Coast Guard out of San Juan and gave them our position and a summary of the situation. They asked if we could tell how quickly the water was coming aboard, would we be able to stay afloat, etc. He replied that, with the pump burned out, it was only a question of hours before we filled and sank. They instructed us to stand by and so we stood and stared at each other, shins covered in sloshing water. We were in the main saloon of a 77’ ocean racing maxi constructed of aluminum, a material not known for buoyancy. Suddenly they came back, the crackling of the dispatcher’s voice startling us from our meditations on the deep, dark fissure (the Puerto Rican trench) that extended nearly a mile beneath us. Tom acknowledged the Coast Guard.

“We’ve got a bird outbound to your position,” the voice snapped. “They’ll lower a diesel pump to you in a bright orange barrel. Bring it on board and deploy it to keep your vessel afloat. ETA twenty minutes.”

“Roger,” Tom responded. “Standing by.” He called for one of the delivery crew to come below and monitor the VHF and then we both went topside to look for the helicopter. The night was still black, no moon so we heard the craft before we spotted it, a low thump thump that built to a crescendo until it was hovering off our port bow. The wash from the rotors stirred the water and plucked at our clothes. We were drifting slowly, no sails up, so we made an easy target. Our mate from below on the radio shouted up that they were going to lower the barrel. It came down slowly, swaying in the wind and as it swung over our port rail Tom and I grabbed it, guided it to the deck. He unclipped it and gave them thumbs up - we caught the glimpse of someone waving from the open bay door and then they were gone. Inside was a long rubber hose about nine inches in diameter and the pump. We unpacked it and set it up, jumped the motor and watched in relief as water began to pour over the side. - Stay tuned to Zephyr for the final chapter.

Monday, April 18, 2005

SIYC, Rockville, SC Posted by Hello

The Rockville Regatta

A final post on low country sailing. The wedding on Saturday was in Rockville, SC, about an hour south of Charleston on the Bohicket creek. This trip has been a good reminder that sailing culture is an intimate part of coastal geography down south - as well as an opportunity to learn a little about how the south sails. The reception was held at the Sea Island Yacht Club, less grand than the previous nights cocktail party at the Carolina Yacht Club in Charleston but a place of equal historical significance in these parts. And to the point from the last post of these clubs bringing the past into the present, Sea Island YC is the home of the (locally) famed Rockville Regatta. Here's a very good article on the topic from Sailnet, which describes the event as a "NASCAR meets Wimbledon."

The Rockville Regatta holds a special significance and appeal for everyone who attends. Much of this stems from the fact that it's always been somewhat of a family affair, with its ranks populated by the descendants of plantation owners who annually sought refuge from the August heat in their summer homes here.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Sailing on the Cooper River, Charleston, SC (Artist: Jan Pawlowski) Posted by Hello

Friday, April 15, 2005

Sailing in the low country

We flew to the Southern Carolina low country today for a wedding...followed by a week of R&R on Kiawah Island. I missed Charleston Race Week (April 7-10) so this wouldn’t be worth mentioning save for tonights wedding cocktail party at the Carolina Yacht Club in the downtown Charleston historic district. Tonight at the party I stepped outside to the waters edge and watched the sun set on a breezy Charleston Harbor – spray from the white caps reflecting the glow, sailboats tossing and thrashing at their moorings. The party was in an annex off the clubhouse so I made an excuse to walk into the main building, smoothed my way past the desk into the sitting room, dining room, etc. A central part of sailing culture, for better or for worse, is certain established yacht clubs founded in the late 19th century – they inject history into a new world that, while very different, still craves that link. Yes, the Carolina Yacht Club is antediluvian, anachronistic and unrepentant. But it is very beautiful. It has presence. There is a sense that you are in a living museum – a place given to equal parts relevance and precedent. Where can you get that today but a really well attended church? Like a church these types of clubs challenge the secular minded…but they are a part of the fabric of sailing.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

"We thought we were going to sink..." - Titan XI owner Tom Hill

Titan XI crew inspects damage from a t-bone collison. At Key West Race Week in 2002 an Andrews 70, struck Titan XI (an Andrews 68) near the windward mark on the first leg of the second race. Posted by Hello

Standing tall before the man

Sailing World posted an article on racing “ethics” today – along with a quiz on sportsmanship that will, I suppose, help you understand your chances of going up before the committee on a protest. Ethics are a good thing and as important to sailing culture as anything else – but this topic brings to mind many stories of the “captain who lost his/her shit and began screaming at someone at the line” variety. Racing often is a high octane endeavor with egos, emotions and usually submerged Napoleon-type character flaws on full display. I was crewing on a maxi during a near disastrous T-bone in St. Maarten and can testify the challenge of keeping ones “sportsmanlike” demeanor when a multi-ton yacht is bearing down on your broadside (and you have right of way). One rule of thumb I’ve always tried to follow is to let the Captain be the one to go postal. After all he (or she) is the person who'll have to stand tall before the man and explain. As anyone who has been exposed understands, nothing spoils a post-race buzz more than a protest hearing. But back to the article…some may deem a sailing "miss manners" a little ridiculous but this author, under the moniker of “sporty” raises interesting and topical issues. For example, how useful to have an answer to the question, “Is it OK for your friends to help by covering or tacking on a competitor on the last day of a regatta if you didn't ask for help?” (No) Here's a link to the IASF racing rules and regs for your viewing pleasure. Anyone with an outrageous sportsmanship tale throw me a comment and I’ll post.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

An ode to owning

For those with a hefty tax return, a sudden windfall or a big spring bonus here's an article (billed as a guide) in Forbes magazine about buying a sailboat. The article quotes Phil Bennett, senior sales director for The Hinckley Company, "A boat can be a very emotional purchase...make sure that you use a little bit of rational thinking, or you may end up with more boat than you need." In my experience rationality isn't usually a major component of desire (see this post). So what about buying a boat in the real know the one with college savings, mortgages and credit card debt? Depend on a broker, advises Forbes. Well sure, if you want to pay a hefty commission. Advice from salesman Mitchell Gibbons-Neff of Sparkman & Stephens in reference to a 114 yacht, "...a professional crew is harder to find than a good boat." Thanks Mitch. And surprise, Forbes says name brand has something to do with cost, cites examples like Swan, German Frers, Farr and Sparkman & Stephens. Most of us should probably look beyond Forbes for counsel... a big take away from my time working on sailboats is the money it takes just to maintain a vessel - it's staggering. Ever seen the owners face when a spinnaker blows? Clichés come to mind, for example, "If you want to know what it's like to own a boat stand in a cold shower and rip up $100 bills." A silly thought but not far off. Interesting models have emerged to deal with the expense of owning. Check out Sailtime, a franchise that sells shares of a boat, usually a Hunter, so that cost is distributed. The boat I raced on in San Francisco was owned by a small group of partners. This can work if you can get along, agree to take turns being captain, etc. Here's a link to an article that details some of the legal aspects. Failing all of that there's always the classifieds. Given the qualities of fiberglass it's reasonable to expect to be able to find a well maintained second or third hand boat that can be serviceable for years. Just remember to factor the cost of maintenance and ongoing care.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Dangerous Waters: Book review

Modern Piracy and Terror on the High Seas Posted by Hello

The last frontier

In an earlier post I raised the question of carrying arms aboard. As many may agree, in the end it is (like anything else) a trade off. In this case a sense of safety/ability to defend exchanged for the increased scrutiny. It's the goal of any cruiser to keep a low profile and a weapon aboard when clearing customs is not conducive. But, should you be planning to cruise lovely Yemen, this harrowing tale of piracy may encourage you to exercise your right to bear arms. These folks successfully defended themselves with a twelve gauge shotgun, but their repeated radio calls for help went unanswered. What does this have to do with sailing culture? My offshore experience has been limited to deliveries to and from the Northeast and the Caribbean, a route well traveled and well patrolled...or at least well monitored (see this post on Herb). But it has always struck me that going offshore is one of the last true tests of self reliance left in the world today. Our ancestors, particularly those who ventured west, lived a reality where owning a gun was not a right but a necessity. In many ways the ocean is the last frontier, the true wild wild west. The difference is, of course, that this frontier will never be tamed.

"The pirates were well organized and well armed. There were at least 4 boats involved. They had set up a picket line out from the Yemen coast probably at least for 50-75 miles, so if you transited the area during the day they wouldn’t miss you."

Monday, April 11, 2005

Boatyard, Keyhaven (Artist: Marita Freeman) Posted by Hello

Spring fever

Unbelievable spring weather this past weekend in the northeast...the sort that had every winter weary sailor worth his or her salt sanding, priming, cleaning, varnishing, unpacking and airing out gear in preparation for the season. I was invited to help wet sand and rig an Express 37 I’ve been racing with since I moved to CT from San Francisco but, unfortunately, couldn't make it. To those who dread boat maintenance, “unfortunately” might be the wrong word...but for me there's nothing quite so much fun as messing about on boats - even if they are still on the hard in the yard. The seasonal rituals of boat maintenance (winter storage/spring prep) have definitive qualities that evoke thoughts and feelings related to the great cycle of life, a love of the water and warmer weather, the anticpation of endless summer evenings, crossing the line at twilight, anchoring under a hundred million stars. Whether it's sanding the bottom, digging in a mildewed locker, clearing lines or sorting the long as the sun warms my back, birds sing and a fair salt breeze stirs the boatyard - this is work with a purpose and it gladdens my heart. Here's an article about prepping from Another good resource for spring prep in Boating World.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Schooner Atlantic under full sail (NYYC archives) Posted by Hello

"I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm's way." - John Paul Jones

The NYYC’s 2005 Rolex Transatlantic begins May 21, 20 - an epic race where the world's largest and fastest sailing yachts cross the North Atlantic. It’s the centennial anniversary of the 1905 race where the record time set by the race winner, 185-foot three-masted schooner Atlantic, set a high water mark for transatlantic crossings not yet bested by a monohull racing without powered winches. My family has some personal history with the Atlantic – in the 1970’s my Grandfather invested in a partnership with the goal of restoring the old yacht and outfitting her for charter. I have distant memories of waving them off as they took her out of a New Jersey shore harbor down the coast to the boatyard to be appraised. The high cost of restoring her doomed the enterprise, but my Grandmother still talks about when her husband almost “bought” the Atlantic. In 1905 Atlantic crossed to Lizard on England's Cornish coast in 12 days, 4 hours, 1 minute and 19 seconds. For more history on this fabled vessel pick up "Atlantic: The Last Great Race of Princes." According to the WSSRC (World Sailing Speed Record Council), the “Transatlantic, Ambrose Light Tower to Lizard Point, Crewed” record set by the Atlantic in 1905 was bested in 1980 by the trimaran Paul Ricard from France. The current record (4d 17h 28m 6s) was set in 2001 by Steve Fossetts multihull PlayStation. Mari-Cha IV, a 141-foot canting keel two-masted schooner, is the current holder of the WSSRC transatlantic monohull record - 6 days, 17 hours, 52 minutes and 39 seconds. It may be a bit confusing but when 20 competing yachts begin the 2005 Rolex Transatlantic off of New York in May its worth noting that the Atlantic's time was set without being able to choose an optimal departure date, before GPS and satellite communications – an age when weather forecasting was about intuition, not data.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

A voyager at seventeen

Here’s a recent story in the Bangkok Post about a seventeen year old Australian named Jesse Martin. I loved to when I was seventeen but growing up outside of Philadelphia meant that my time on the water centered around family vacations to Cape Cod and sojurns to my best friend’s beach house on Delaware Bay in Cape May, NJ (see the Hobie pitchpole post). As we all did, I had dreams but at that age...they did not include sailing alone around the world. Apparently Jesse, a modern day Robin Lee Graham, is made of sterner stuff. Martin began his voyage on the 33 foot S/V Lionheart on December 6, 1998. On October 31, 1999 the Lionheart sailed back to Melbourne after covering more than 27,000 miles around the world. He has, of course, written a book about it called “Lionheart.” I haven’t read it so I can’t say for sure but given this brief report of his trial, I have a feeling that it’s every bit as gripping as Robin's book, Dove. His home page is great reading. Kudos Jesse. You had a bit more room (Dove was only 24 feet LOA) but you both went the distance.

"When there were things going wrong with school and family, I imagined myself on the ship and sailing off," said the young man, who was born while his parents were on a backpacking trip to Asia and Europe. He said that a love of travelling was instilled in him probably when he was in his mother's womb.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

J-Class sloop Endeavour stretches her legs (Credit: COS) Posted by Hello

Elizabeth spins jeans into J's

In this recent post about the 1885 schooner Coronet I mentioned Elizabeth Meyer. I've never met her but she was pointed out to me at a Newport cocktail party the summer I worked as mate on the charter yacht Eliza. Meyer is an heiress to the Levi-Strauss fortune, a woman of means who has contributed significantly to the culture of sailing. Meyer founded the Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) in 1993 - as mentioned the IYRS is restoring Coronet. But she's best known for the stunning restoration of two J-Class yachts Shamrock V and Endeavour.

Shamrock V was built in 1930 for Sir Thomas Lipton's fifth and last America's Cup challenge. Lipton, a Scotsman, first challenged for the America's cup in 1899, with Shamrock I. He made five attempts to win the cup but never won. In 1930 Enterprise defeated the Nicholson-designed Shamrock V by as much as nine minutes. Sir T.O.M. Sopwith (a famous airplane designer in the First World War) purchased Shamrock V from Lipton in 1932 to gain experience in J Class racing. He challenged in 1933 and using his experience from Shamrock V, went on to build his challenger Endeavour - a 130-foot J Class sloop built by Camper & Nicholson at Gosport, England. In the 1934 cup race Endeavour was defeated by the NYYC's Rainbow in the best-of-seven match - a decisive victory for the Americans.

J-Class racing is a linchpin of America's Cup history and considerably richer than this brief synopsis. But what I find so amazing is that Elizabeth Meyer and her team brought these beauties of a bygone era into the modern world, an invaluable contribution. If you ever see a J-Class yacht under sail I guarantee that you will never forget the sight.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Friendship 40 (courtesy Austral Yachts) Posted by Hello

"When you cease to dream you cease to live" - Malcolm S. Forbes

Everyone has a dream boat – the craft they see themselves sailing off into the sunset after all obligations are met. In the interim people my age (with obligations) satisfy themselves with kid-friendly one designs like a JBoat or, for cruisers, something like a Pearson or Island Packet built for sleeping bags and exploring local anchorages on summer weekends. But a big part of the culture of sailing is dreaming and we should all be allowed to indulge. On that note the new Friendship 40 is my “when I’m 60 years old and have sold my house for a condo on the beach, put the kids through college and want to go sailing” dream boat. Maybe by the time I’m that age I’ll be able to buy a used one at a (severely) reduced price because, like many dreams, she ain’t cheap. Yachting has a great review of her here. The Friendship 40 is designed by Ted Fontaine of the Fontaine Design Group. Ted used to be chief designer at Ted Hood Design Group, part of Little Harbor before The Hinckley Company absorbed it. I like the Friendship 40’s classic lines, her power sail handling (key for a 60 year old captain), the luxurious but minimal interior and the centerboard keel. Austral Yachts in New Zealand will construct the 40 to order. Anyone have a dream boat to share?

Monday, April 04, 2005

WIPEPOUT in San Francisco!

Those who have sailed the SF Bay will testify to the swift and dangerous currents that can challenge any vessel (and don't run the waters near Fort Point unless you surf). A good friend I crewed for out of Sausalito sent me this link - a photographer caught a Santana 22 getting destroyed under the Golden Gate Bridge this past weekend. Click on the first photo to run the slideshow. Thankfully surfers pulled them to safety but the shots of the carnage are just amazing. Thank you Stevens!

The oldest, most original grand yacht in the world

This topic isn't as sexy as billionaire bad boys dueling it out with their America's Cup toys, nor as thought provoking as discussing the lack of black folk in sailing...not as gripping as offshore voyaging, not as polarizing as red Mount Gay caps and probably not as much fun as discussing the top ten rums - but nonetheless I want to put a plug in for those who practice the art of classic yacht restoration. Specifically the IYRS in Newport, RI (International Yacht Restoration School). Newport is a sailing culture mecca, replete with organizations that pay homage to sailing history. But the IYRS has a special role in sailing culture - the preservation and restoration of the oldest and most original grand yacht in the world - S/V Coronet. Elizabeth Meyer is Coronet Project Manager & Founding Chair of IYRS. Take a read through the IYRS page here and a look at the Coronet home page. Truly an amazing piece of sailing history - a reminder that today we stand on the shoulders of many, many past sailors of equal or greater passion. It can be easy to loose this truth in the constant thunder of sailing hype...the latest hot shot pro, the newest rocket sled, the regatta-of-the-moment...

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Coronet is simply that she exists at all. The majority of yachts afloat during the last years of the 19th century have long since passed from view. Sunk, grounded, driven under, broken up, or simply fallen prey to old age, they are remembered now through photographs, mementos, models and the occasional holy relic, such as a wheel or binnacle.

Friday, April 01, 2005

SAIC La Jolla gets pounded in the Southern Ocean - leg four of the Global Challenge Yacht Race (Credit: unknown) Posted by Hello

Taking a beating in the Southern Ocean

Tremendous log entry in Yachting World from Paul Kelly, skipper of Team Save The Children. They're on leg four of the 2004/5 Global Challenge in the Southern Ocean and Paul's entry provides a nice window into the type of conditions many of us have read about, but few experienced. The 2004/5 Global Challenge is comprised of twelve teams sailing identical 72 foot steel yachts out of Portsmouth in the UK. Billed as the world's toughest yacht race, the course takes them around the world the 'wrong way', against the prevailing winds and currents, stopping in Buenos Aires, Wellington, Sydney, Cape Town, Boston and La Rochelle before returning to Portsmouth in the UK some 10 months later. On March 31 (yesterday) Team Save The Children were under 5 knots at sunrise. By 2000 last night a cold front swept through with 50 knots and lumpy seas. I've read many accounts of the roaring 40's, but each time I hear about sailors meeting the challenge I'm entranced. Having been in my fair share of rough conditions offshore I have a sense of what it must be like but the sheer hostility of the southern ocean environment must be very imposing. Here is another terrific entry from Eero Lehtinen, skipper of competitor SAIC La Jolla.