Thursday, August 31, 2006

2006 Qingdao International Regatta

I'm heading to Flushing Meadow for courtside seats at the U.S. Open tonight...hopefully have the chance to see Agassi play. After 20 years he's "retiring" and this will be his last Open.

I don't think sailing has a U.S. Open event like golf and tennis do, per se. But check out this link to the first of two Olympic Test events, the Good Luck Beijing - 2006 Qingdao International Regatta. The regatta gives sailors the opportunity to test the conditions, venue and competition for the 2008 Olympic Games. The event is held from August 18-31, 2006, at the Qingdao International Marina in Qingdao, a coastal city located 430 miles east of Beijing, China.

The site is sponsored by U.S. Sailing, the national governing body of the sport here in the United States. Congrats to the US Sailing team - they wrapped with two gold medals and one bronze medal. Onward to victory in 2008!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wind Scoop

At mooring (thanks adrift ;-) off the TAYC breakwater...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Favorite Dead Trees

Seems a strange topic for a new media "outlet", perhaps...but dead trees still garner the majority of readers and thus I'm wondering if anyone out there plays favorites... Betraying my simple tastes I turn to SAIL Magazine when I must (love their new format)...others in the pantheon include Practical Sailor, Sailing World, Cruising World, Ocean Navigator, Offshore, Yachting, Soundings, Wooden Boat. Living Aboard, Latitudes & Attitudes - not to mention regional rags like Latitude 38, Maine Boat and 48 Degrees North. Of the regional pubs Latitude 38 is my pick...though I'm biased having once lived in San Francisco.

I missed Seahorse

What else?

Monday, August 28, 2006

NEWS: Nick Nicholson Chosen to Lead '08 Race

I like the focus on small boats vs. the $$ sleds. Read on...

Nick Nicholson, Practical Sailor Editor-at-Large, member of the Volvo Ocean Race Rule Management Group, and international racing navigator, has been selected to chair the next (46th) Bermuda Race, starting from Newport Rhode Island on June 20, 2008.

Nicholson served as vice-chairman for the record-breaking centennial race that saw 264 yachts at the start in Newport in June 2006. The appointment comes from Commodore Ned Rowland of the Cruising Club of America and Commodore Andrew Cox of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. The two clubs have been co-organizers of the Race since 1926.

In accepting the task of following in the wake of the centennial event, Nicholson knows he has his hands full to keep the numbers up and maintain a quality fleet.

"The greatness of the Newport Bermuda Race stems not from the glamour maxi boats that spend a fortune in order to be first over the line, but from the programs of Cal 40s, JBoats, Swans, Beneteau, and other small boats which form the majority of the fleet. They work hard at preparing their boats and sail the best they can, all knowing they have a shot at being the real winners," Nicholson commented.

"We will work hard to grow the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division, allowing professional racing programs to participate in their own division, with its own highly-respected trophy. This will protect and encourage the amateur St. David's Lighthouse Division, the cruiser/racer group that is the base of the Newport Bermuda fleet."

S/Y Adix off Camden, ME - August 2006

Many thanks to Ben Ellison for forwarding this terrific photo of the classic yacht Adix. What a beauty!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Air Time

I'm in the SF Bay area for business - leaving for home later today. Yesterday I had a moment after meetings to stop and gaze out at the Bay from the Marina District, near the St. Francis Yacht Club. I was greeted by a sight (under the Golden Gate) that may be routine here...but isn't something widely practiced on Long Island Sound. It's called "kiteboarding" and it looks dangerously addictive, slightly hazardous to your health and quite capable of providing that adrenaline mainline serious adventure junkies crave.

Says wikipedia - kitesurfing, also known as kitesurfing and kiteboarding, and sometimes as flysurfing, involves using a power kite to pull a small surfboard, or wakeboard on water. Kitesurfing is an exhilarating and energetic sport. The current speed record over a 500 meter (1,640 ft) course is 77.4 kilometers per hour (41.79 knots) held by Olaf Marting.

42 fricking knots strapped to a board! Out of Olaf's way, mate.

Some terminology:

air time: the amount of time spent in the air while jumping. This can be remarkably long; the current record is probably Erik Eck's 39-second kitemare. Five to ten seconds is not unusual.

body dragging: being pulled through the water without standing on your board. This is an early step in the learning process, and is recommended before trying the board after flying a trainer kite.

chicken loop: a hard rubber loop attached to the middle line which has been fed through the control bar. It is used to attach the control bar to the harness so the kitesurfer can produce tension in the lines using their entire bodyweight instead of using purely arm strength.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Opti Under Tow

Tred Avon River - Oxford, MD

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Big Ass (Sailing) Yachts

I'm a fan of big ass yachts. Not the Larry Ellison/Bill Gates-type stink pigs of course...but more along the lines of the graceful, schooner/J-Class/gaff cutter "dream on" you salaried wage slave type yachts. If you're with me then I've got a web site. Gerard Dijkstra & Partners was originally founded as Ocean Sailing Development Holland BV in 1969 by Gerard Dijkstra. The outfit specializes in yacht design and the building supervision of ocean going sailing boats and fast short handed racers.

Here's a jump
to their "big class" yacht brag sheet. When you have a list that begins with Shamrock V, Endeavor and Velsheda...where can you go from there? Answer: Adix. Also check out the square riggers. And happy dreaming!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Out On a Limb

Morning Light Project - 30 Out of 538 Chosen

I wrote about Roy Disney's Morning Light project back in June - an effort to field "the youngest crew ever to sail the Transpac..." with plans to chronicle the recruitment, training and performance of sailors as young as 18 throughout the 2007 race for the eventual release of a full-length feature documentary film. According to recent coverage I've read, Roy's goal was to identify sailors who otherwise would have no shot at the rich, mostly white-male world of sailboat racing...

Apparently 538 applicants were whittled to mid-August the finalists spent 10 days in Long Beach sailing and performing other team-building activities. In January, the crew will fly to Honolulu and start intensive training aboard a 52-foot boat under 1984 Olympic gold medalist Robbie Haines. By April, the team will be finalized at 11, with four alternates, for the grueling race next July.

Kudos to Roy Disney for creating this opportunity to expose young sailors to offshore racing. As well I think it's brilliant how he's established the end goal of a feature film...if successful, the movie could do more for raising the profile and building the credibility of offshore racing than anything that's come before. This is a superb example of what a media-savvy philanthropist can accomplish with well-considered investment.

I'll follow this story as it develops.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Schooner Isabella Launched Old School

Last Sunday in a small seaside town north of Boston called Essex, the Isabella, a privately commissioned boat built in the style of an early 1800s fishing vessel was officially launched. According to this AP article picked up by the Boston Globe, the ship was sent to sea using the traditional side launch method. A wooden skeleton, called a bilge, was built around the vessel. The craft was slowly -- very slowly -- jacked toward greased planks that lined one side of the bilge.

It's unusual in these modern times to see such close attention to historical detail, both in the commissioning and building of such a vessel as much as the follow-through on the actual launch... using a method that, though true to form is fraught with risk. It would, of course, be much safe to use the crane.

It must have something to do with Essex. Again, according to the AP article, for 350 years, Essex was a center of wooden schooner construction. More than 4,000 vessels were built here; at the height of production, builders were cranking out about one a week. And they never used a crane. Not even once ;-)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Port Tack

Chesapeake Bay Log Canoes

Racing Off Oxford, MD - August 13, 2006

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Islers Are No Dummies

This isn't exactly news but falls well within the bounds of "sailing culture" - The Islers, J.J. and Peter, have (according to the San Diego Union-Tribune) sold over 100,000 copies of their first edition guide “Sailing for Dummies” and are set to issue a second run...a level of popularity they never anticipated. San Diego native J.J. is a two-time Olympic medalist and a four-time winner of the Rolex U.S. Yachtswoman of the Year award. Husband Peter has sailed as the navigator on two America's Cup winners and will be back at the game next year as the navigator aboard Oracle.

Every topic deserves a "dummy" book and sailing is no exception. I'm all for anything that increases visibility, demystifies and brings more people into the sailing fold.

A textbook, user’s manual, and reference book all in one, Sailing For Dummies introduces you to the exciting world of sailing, and shows you everything from how to tie the right knots to how you should dress when you take to the seas. Sailing For Dummies gives you practical, easy-to-follow advice from buying the right equipment and gear, and setting sail for the first time to watching races on TV. Inside, you’ll also discover how to:

  • Select the best boat to buy or rent for your sailing needs
  • Navigate like a pro—day or night—with the help of charts, satellites, and compasses
  • Handle mishaps such as torn sails and leaks
  • Recover from a capsize, tow a boat, and keep safety a priority
  • Understand U.S. federal boating regulations and other rules of the sea
  • Find a sailing school that fits your schedule and your budget
  • Make sailing fun for the entire family—from toddlers to teens
  • Locate the best cruising destinations around the world

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sailing Fitness

While Annapolis is on my mind, here's a jump to a story in the local Annapolis Capitol paper...sailor Harry Legum has opened his very own 1,200-square-foot studio in Eastport where sailors can target the specific muscles needed to pull halyards, tie down sails and hike out of a dinghy. The Annapolis Sailing Fitness studio, located in the Eastport Yacht Center, opened on Aug. 1. It's the only gym of its kind in the country.

According to the article, Legum puts you through a teeth-clenching routine that'll leave you physically exhausted, but the result is a higher fitness level and your saving grace once the winds get rough.

"We're going to duplicate those kind of (sailing) motions," said Mr. Legum, a personal trainer in Atlanta for 16 years. "That helps the person to be that much more effective. These are all just things to enhance the sailing."

What would our seagoing forefathers think? I really don't think I want to know...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Walking the Plank to Windward

On my way back to CT from vacation in Asheville, NC - I stopped for the weekend on Maryland's Eastern Shore. August is Log Canoe season due to the light air and I was able to engineer a terrific photo shoot off of Oxford, MD today under clear, sunny skies...I'll be sharing the best of these shots in the weeks to come. Those unfamiliar with the Chesapeake Bay Log Canoe observe the planks run to windward in the above photo. Weight moved out to these planks in the form of nimble crewmen is the only way to keep the boat upright in a gust. For more check out the CBLSCA web site. I'm in Annapolis tonight at a hotel on State Circle...the crab soup at Middleton Tavern is outrageous.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Belgium sailor, Jan Wouters, will set off in November 2006 to attempt to sail solo non-stop around the world via the southern oceans for his Sail Cape 2 Cape campaign.

He'll leave from his home port of Cape Town, round the Cape of Good Hope, sail under Cape Leeuwin, round Cape Horn and remain in the southern ocean back to Cape Town - the first solo circumnavigation taking this route. All previous around-the-world races have left from the Northern hemisphere...starting and ending in the Atlantic Ocean.

Jan has set up a very nice web site for fans to track his includes a downloadable "teaching kit" that targets 8-12 years old school children. Environmentally oriented, the teaching kit details Jan's adventure and focuses on ecological issues pertinent to the rugged southern ocean landscape he'll travel, including - via an organization called "BirdLife" - the plight of the endangered Albatross.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Volvo Videos

Activities today in extreme western North Carolina - home base Asheville - include an excursion to Chimmney Rock Park. If you're going to be this far from the water then you might as well be standing somewhere like this...

BBC News has posted a very good account of on-board television camera technology as it relates to the sport of sailing. According to the article, each boat that raced the Volvo had seven cameras aboard, including one in the first spreader bar on the main mast able to be rotated remotely in order to capture 360 degree footage.

The pictures are sent back by an antenna unit at the back of the boat. It tracks one of four satellites, allowing data speeds of up to twice that of a dial-up connection anywhere along the boat's 30,000 mile long route.

Privacy is not the first concern great loss there. In fact, as the article points out, the ability to analyze performance and to provide spectators with increased visibility far outweigh complaints about "big brother."

Monday, August 07, 2006

12ยช Regata Breitling - Illes Balears - July 19-23, 2006
Mallorca, Spain (Photo credit Chris Cameron)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Summer Vacation in Asheville

I'm taking next week off to head to Asheville, NC - a long way from the water but duty, in the form of visiting the wife's family, calls. I'll still post from the heart of the Smoky Mountains...but it may not be the normal schedule.

There's been a lot of hype around youtube lately. I've written about the iptv sailing channel this past winter...but Scuttlebutt also has a terrific "new media" page well worth checking out. It aggregates all of the youtube content relevant to sailing. Todays top video is footage of a foil-aided ain't pretty but there is, as you will witness, no lack of acceleration.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Kenichi Horie

In 1962 Kenichi Horie - then 23 years old - completed a solo nonstop voyage from Osaka, Japan, to San Francisco, CA in a 19' sailboat. He arrrived in San Francisco after a 94 day passage, penniless, not speaking a word of English...and was arrested for entering the country without a passport. The media picked up on the story and the mayor of San Francisco freed him from prison, extended a 30 day visa and awarded him a key to the city. He knew a press opp when he saw one.

Now 65, Kenichi is a Japanese national hero...having undertaken a series of solo sails in the intervening years (including two solo circumnavigations in 1972 and 1982) and written a bestselling book called Kodoku (translated into English as "Alone" & made into a movie). He's recieved several international sailing awards, set records and been acclaimed all over the world for his courage and tenacity.

For all of this notoriety, all reports indicate that he remains humble, even self-effacing. Nobody would ever dare peg that lable on Dennis Conner. Not to pick on the big guy...but even in the world of sailing celebrity we can, at times, see our nation's worst attributes amplified.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

An unexperienced young woman

Surfing the NYC craiglist "boats for sale" page this evening and came across the below, a recipe for near certain disaster. I'd like to see this posted on the local yacht club board...

Is she unexperienced or inexperienced?

If creeps would be "in over their head" with her, might the rest of us?

And what's this Grosse Pointe daddy's girl doing trolling craigslist in "boats for sale?" Might she have better luck in "casual encounters."

*sigh* At least she claims to know luff from leech. That's somewhat promising.

Sailing Experience WANTED!

Date: 2006-08-01, 12:23PM EDT

I'm an unexperienced young woman looking to begin what will hopefully become a life-long passion, sailing. I'm 24, a fast and avid learner, from Grosse Pointe, MI, where I grew up right on the lake in a community that has three yacht clubs. My sailing experiences so far have been limited to my childhood, where I was a frequent passenger on my family's catamarans. I would love to learn the ropes by being crew on a racing boat, or by helping out anyone who needs a weekend sailing partner. I do know luff from leech, and most other basics, but not from a hands-on environment. I currently live in Manhattan, but would definitely hop on the train/bus to meet up with you wherever! Please email me at: minkdreads "at" (Please no creepy men looking for a target- you'd be in over your head with me.) ...Thank you!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bareboaters Delight

Though it's off season, if you're considering/planning/dreaming of a bareboat charter and are new to the experience, Cruising World has posted a very good primer in the August 1 issue. Topics covered include sailing competency (often misjudged) and what to pack (often misunderstood). When I was crewing term charters in the British Virgins we used to take great delight in watching bareboaters come to dock. There was nothing that got a natty dreadlocked rasta dock boy moving like a bareboater piloting a Moorings Jeanneau to a crash landing...