Saturday, April 28, 2007

Top Dog

Yesterday I had 1001 visits to my humble blog...upwards of a 70% increase in the daily tally. To what do I owe this sudden popularity? I'd like to say it's because of my brilliant writing but somehow I don't think so. It has everything to do with the last post on Rule 69. Seems my new "pal" Magnus Wheatley is somewhat controversial (see comments). I can't vouch for his character but the heated response and the spike in Zephyr visits attests to the competitive energy around the AC - and the sport of sailing in general. It may be the "modern" era of sailing but the desire to be the top dog is as old as we are...and it ain't going away. Just take a gander at the Sailing Anarchy forums for more of the same.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rule 69 Blog

A friend a work tipped me off to a sailing blog called "Rule 69." Its editor, Magnus Wheatley, is posting some terrific coverage of the AC with photos (and advertisements) galore. It's a slick job, no doubt, but someone has to make money from this blogging thing...and given the Magnus bio (see below) we can trust that the commentary is solid. Thank God the wind came up in Valencia!

Magnus Wheatley has been a yachting commentator for the last decade having spent the first ten years of his career in a soul-less office in the City of London as a currency trader. Since jacking in the day job back in 1999 in he has covered two America's Cups, the Athens Olympic Games, multiple Cowes Weeks, numerous World, European and National championships and is one of the most recognized voices in the yachting community.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

S/Y Red Admiral - a 46' Morris - cruising the B.V.I.

Don't Forget Antigua...

In the sailing news world it's all America's Cup all the time - the hype meter is most assuredly ramped up. But let's not loose sight of the Caribbean spring racing season. Antigua Classic Race Week is in full roar as I write this entry. Follow this link to some spectacular shots from last years's easy to see why this event is so revered in the sailing world.

Just in the way the mellower (and classier) Jazz Fest follows Mardi Gras - Antigua Classics Week is preceded by the rowdy Antigua Sailing Week - which took place earlier in the month.

Friday, April 20, 2007

S/Y Red Admiral - Homeward Bound

After six months of cruising in the Caribbean Islands my parents are homeward bound for the Northeast U.S. from the Virgins. As is typical for deliveries this time of year, they've identified a weather window and are enjoying smooth sailing as they make their way north. And, it seems, they are eating well. An update via satellite email follows...

Position: 20/40 N 64/69 W
Course & Speed: 11M 6Kts, Sailing
Progress: Distance traveled since departure: 141NM
Last 24 Hr.: 141NM
Distance to Chesapeake: 1103 NM

WEATHER: Sunny, mild, winds avg 15 Kts from SSW

COMMENTS: Sailing with jib winged out since leaving the Virgins at 1200 Hrs. yesterday. Boat and crew in good spirits! Glad to be underway. Margot served fillet, salad, bread & butter & coffee ice cream for dinner last night, leaving the crew with high expectations for the future! Weather advice indicates we will encounter a mild cold front Saturday AM and may have to sail more westerly until the winds clock to the NE, E. By Tuesday we should be in a position to sail a rumb line course to the Chesapeake. Winds are forecast to remain moderate, i.e. under 25 knots true.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The People's Republic Quests for Cup

Great article here in The Australian about China's entry into the America's Cup...a historic first in the competition. The challenge is being backed by the People's Party - nah just kidding - actually a Chinese venture capitalist named Wang Chaoyong is syndicate head of the Chinese team. Ah sweet irony...a Chinese capitalist mounts a challenge for the ultimate prize in a sport that has resounded through the decades as the provenance of wealth, privilege & elitism. Eat your heart out Mao Zedong!

"...the extensive experience required to sail an America's Cup boat means China has only procured five mainland crew for the team -- all cup novices. The rest of the 16 crew are French, Polish and Singaporean."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

2007 St Barths Bucket - March 29-April 1, 2007
St. Barthélemy, FWI (Photo credit: Cory Silken)

Monday, April 16, 2007

"It's a cross between football, ballet and chess."

I just returned to the NYC area after a weekend in Los Angeles...greeted by the fading Nor'easter and the chaos left in it's path. Scanning the news for something to write about tonight I came across this article in the Monterey County Herald concerning competitive collegiate sailing. Monterey is somewhat is north of LA so no direct connection there...though being in California always makes me envious of their year-round boating season. A lot of the article concerns the local scene but there were a few good quotes in there...the best being the title of this post.

"I've played a number of sports but I can honestly say this: Sailing is the most difficult one I've participated in," said Herring. "It's a cross between football, ballet and chess."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

America's Cup 1851-2007 - ESPN Classic, 7:00 PM EDT

Many thanks to Jarrett who sent me notice of the following not-to-be-missed ESPN segment.

Airing this Friday (4/13 @ 7:00 PM) on ESPN Classic, a new one hour special narrated by Walter Cronkite featuring a detailed look at the America's Cup, including interviews with many of the regatta's most notable and accomplished figures. See newly discovered historic footage and hear the personal experiences of winning sailors and top designers.

Today's key players such as Ernesto Bertarelli and Larry Ellison are there, of course, as well as past America's Cup champions who know exactly what it takes to win, including Ted Turner, Dennis Conner, Russell Coutts, Bill Koch, Halsey Herreshoff, Gary Jobson, Tom Whidden, David Elwell, and designer Olin Stephens II. Also featured are leading Cup journalists John Rousmaniere and Peter Montgomery, along with artist John Mecray.

This is a Gary Jobson production - more info here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

2007 Annapolis - Newport

One of my favorite Northeast U.S. distance races is scheduled for June 1 of this year...the Annapolis to Newport. The race was officially established in 1947 to be on a continuing basis in alternate years with the Newport-Bermuda Race. Until the mid-50s, it was the Newport-Annapolis race, but after much complaining by the competitors about slow trips up the Chesapeake after a long ocean race, the course was reversed in 1957. The race is organized by the Annapolis Yacht Club, with assistance from the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron, New York Yacht Club and Ida Lewis Yacht Club.

The course heads south for 120 miles from Annapolis to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, then to the Chesapeake Light and then northeast to Newport. After navigating the shallows and currents of the Bay, navigators have to decide if they want to sail the run line to Newport, go in to the beach or head further offshore.

I last participated as crew aboard a 46' Sloop in the 2003 race during which Donnybrook, a Custom 72 owned by Jim Muldoon of the Annapolis Yacht Club, captured line honors.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Out of Pocket (but back now)

Sorry I have been out of pocket lately...we made the trip down to the Eastern Shore of Maryland for Easter weekend. Sunday was the annual egg hunt at the Tred Avon Yacht Club in Oxford, MD (see below photos) and though the Easter Bunny dutifully arrived by had to be the chilliest damn Easter Sunday I've seen in years.

That's the Robert Morris Inn behind the sailboats in the second shot...the home of James A. Michener's favorite crab cake!

Easter 2007 at the TAYC

Thursday, April 05, 2007

New Jobson Bermuda Video Premieres

Gary Jobson's film, "Racing to Bermuda: A Century on the Ocean" is now available on DVD. This magnificent movie captures the essence of the Newport Bermuda Race through footage taken aboard yachts competing in the Centennial Race in 2006 as well as historic views of past races, yachts and sailors.

The 1-hour movie is the perfect way to relive the race of a century for crew, family and friends. Follow eight of the boats from 38 to 98 feet as they chase the magnificent lighthouse trophies and make tactical decisions about how to play the weather and Gulf Stream in a light air race that tested skill and patience in a record size fleet of 265 boats.

From the start in Newport, Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay, to the fast-flowing meanders of the Gulf Stream, to the finish off Bermuda's St. David's Lighthouse, and the magnificent Prizegiving ceremony at Government House, the DVD shows the strategy, tactics, yachts and victory in modern offshore racing. The DVD is available here for a small shipping and handling charge of $10.00.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Homeward Bound by way of the Virgins

My folks are taking aboard crew in the U.S.V.I. next week and pointing their bow north for the return passage to the Chesapeake Bay after an extended season of cruising in the Caribbean Islands. Recently they joined the spectator crowd at the Rolex Regatta in St. Thomas and have been hitting all the B.V.I. hot spots including Sopers Hole, Foxy's Bar on Jost Van Dyke and even a visit to the Full Moon Party at the Bomba Shack on the shores of Tortola. Beware the punch! The above is a gorgeous shot of their 46' Morris Sloop, Red Admiral, under sail off Virgin Gorda...somewhere around the Bitter End Yacht Club. If I close my eyes and shut out the hum of canned office air and the fan on my laptop I can just...barely...imagine myself on the bow seat.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Fog Lifting

Watercolor - Chuck Clevenger
FROM THE ARTIST: Eggemoggin Reach on East Penobscot Bay, Maine, is guarded by Pumpkin Island Light on its tiny islet. The low tide and sun angle show that the persistent fog is late burning off on a late May afternoon.