Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Royal Yacht

Continuing in the classic yacht vein - here is a story in the Daily Mail about the restoration of Bloodhound, a famous 63' Camper and Nicholson yacht built in 1936 for American Ike Bell, who won several important races in her, including the 1939 Fastnet race.

She became Prince Phillip's yacht in the 1960's (above photo Prince Philip and Princess Anne with a crew member aboard Bloodhound in 1964) and he campaigned her successfully for many years until selling her in 1969. According to the article the yacht is legendary in sailing circles because of her speed...and was the most successful in her class right up until the late 1960s because of the number of races she won.

She's been restored to her former glamor and up on the block for roughly $3 million. God Bless the Queen!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Launching a Chesapeake Classic

I've been absent for several days - time off over the holiday weekend to visit my parents down on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The wind was light so not much sailing to speak of but I did attend the momentous launching of a classic Chesapeake Bugeye on Saturday at the waterfront estate of one Sydney Dixon. Built by Dixon and John Hawkinson using traditional tools and craftsmanship from native white oak and Osage orange wood stock - the boat is 44 feet on deck with an additional 15 feet of bowsprit. Dixon has christened her the "Katherine M. Edwards" after his Aunt May...reportedly a woman of strong character with a love for classic sailing craft.

If you're wondering a "Bugeye" is a two masted working sailing vessel once used for dredging oysters...they owe their ancestry to the classic Chesapeake Bay log canoe.

Finally...we were treated to a brief Civil War reenactment as part of the launch. Mr. Dixon certainly knows how to launch a classic sailing boat in style.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The America's Cup Goes Virtual in Second Life

I haven't written about sailing and the virtual world Second Life much lately but I still go on (as avatar Lex Lian) and take the occasional virtual sail in the always perfectly placid waterways of SL. But recent news of the America's Cup being extended into Second Life prompted today's post...the photos above are of the not yet released ACA32 Racer. The dots in the cockpit are "poseballs" that allow the crew to get into position (mast, trim, grinding, bow, etc) and in the first shot you can see me posing up the mast. Needless to say the design and script work (code that makes the boats sail) have been developed by some of Second Life's preeminent sailors and virtual yacht architects. There is a virtual regatta planned using widely available dinghy's (called Takos) and the final eight winners of this regatta will match race the ACA32 Racers.

But that's not all!
Alcatel-Lucent, the official new media provider for the 32nd America's Cup, has extended its new media coverage of the event to the virtual world. As part of its America's Cup Anywhere program a "New Media Agency" called has been contracted to build a virtual presence named Port AmericasCupAnywhere in order to bring the 32nd America's Cup to Second Life.

I'll venture to say that despite the fact that virtual worlds are far from mainstream, we are seeing history made here...and the advent of a whole new way for fans to learn, experience and even virtually participate in a major international sports event.

Port AmericasCupAnywhere launches in Second Life this Friday, May 25. Some of the highlights available in-world to Second Life residents and sailing fans are listed below.

· 3D animation of live races with audio commentaries
· Video highlights at the end of each race day
· America's Cup Anywhere (ACA) videos presenting the Alcatel-Lucent products developed for the 32nd America's Cup, within the Alcatel-Lucent Executive Briefing Centre
· VIP Parties with renowned DJ
· Aquatic sports and ACA-SL Cup with a lot of prizes to win

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Back On the Horse

In the last post I wrote about a longtime voyager who is hanging up his "solo" hat...and no one would argue that he hasn't earned the right to do so. In a similar vein here is a piece that appeared recently out of South Africa about a couple of sailors who, despite getting fairly well beat up in the Southern Ocean, seem eager to get back in the mix. It brings to mind the old adage of,"...get right back on the horse" though given their experience one could certainly understand if they'd opted not to.

I'm intrigued by how people overcome and deal with the element of fear that ocean going in small sailing craft involves. There is the fear of the unknown, of course. Anything could happen. There is the fear of losing control. Certainly if you need a lesson on not being in control go sailing on the ocean. And then there is the pure adrenaline-charged fear that the immensity and power of the environment will often deliver directly. I'd put the guys in the story squarely in this camp...they were apparently battered by immense rogue waves.

But despite it all many of us get right back on the horse. Are we crazy or just looking for something that we can't get in our ordinary lives? Maybe a bit of both.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I would not have missed it but...

The BBC ran a story last Saturday on the "hero's return" of Sir Robin Knox Johnston - he finished the Velux 5 Oceans solo race in 4th the tender age of 68. Sir Robin has a long history of ocean voyaging so he must have known intimately what he was signing on for. But I truly appreciate his reaction captured in the quote, "I would not have missed it, but I will not do it solo again." How many of us have felt that way after a tough offshore passage or a hiking trip gone bad or even a trip to the local West Marine to snare a part for the dinghy?

According to the BBC an 11-gun salute from Royal Yacht Squadron greeted him as he sailed past Cowes on the Isle of Wight on Saturday. His daughter Sara and five grandchildren were among those who welcomed him home.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hell breaks loose on the Atlantic

Here's a terrific story in Soundings Magazine about events surrounding the recent (May 5) storm off of North Carolina that I referenced in my Monday post. Lt. Cdr. Daniel Molthen was the pilot of the USCG helicopter launched a little after 6:30 Monday morning to rescue the crew of one of the distressed yachts, Seaker - which was being battered in shoal waters close to the coast. Sounding provides a link to video (Quicktime plug in needed) testimonials from Molthen and other rescuers...with actual footage from the event!

“We finally found them, and they were pretty much … getting pummeled by these 30- to 40-foot waves,” Molthen says. The three sailors were inside the boat — a 70-year-old couple and their 45-year-old daughter, he says. “I got right on top of them, and finally the guy poked his head out, and we finally got radio contact with them again. We told them to wait for [the] swimmer to get near.”

Apologies for posting on two similar topics in a row but this was just too good to pass us. Besides, anything for a break from the relentless AC coverage.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Fullpower Melges 24 World Championship

May 8-12, 2007 - Santa Cruz, CA
(Photo credit: Sharon Green)

Bad Weather off Hatteras

A reader wrote in last week commenting on my parents arriving safely home from their voyage down south and mentioned the sad tale of Jason Franks & crew aboard the S/V Flying Colours. If you're on the east coast U.S. and keep up on sailing news you may have heard that last week saw a horrific storm off Cape Hatteras...with reported seas up to and above 40 feet and winds gusting above 40 mph. There were several rescues by the Coast Guard of cruising sailors on voyages back north from the Caribbean...but Franks and his crew have gone completely missing after issuing a distress call last Monday.

Cape Hatteras - widely known as the graveyard of the Atlantic - has been for centuries one of the most treacherous areas to safely navigate off the northeast coast. I pray that Jason Franks and his crew are found and returned home safely.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Back Ashore Blues

My folks have returned to the Chesapeake Bay from an extended sailing trip "down island" aboard their 46' Morris sloop. Though we've not had the chance to visit yet I've had several conversations with them since their return and, while they are generally glad to be home and greatly enjoyed the sail back (barring a day of 50 knots plus in the Gulfstream), there is a note of wistfulness in their voices that I recognize well from my days as a sailing bum. Let's call it the "back ashore blues" - a feeling that can only be well understood by people who have spent a good slice of time aboard a sailing vessel. There's an intensity to living aboard and being at sea...not in the sense that every waking moment is adrenaline charged - though in a blow it may well be - but rather in terms of a dissolution of the layers that typically separate us from the natural element of the world when we live ashore. I'm talking not just about shelter as in office buildings, homes, restaurants, the gym and the like...but as well about Blackberry's, television, cell phones, automobiles, airports, etc.

When you live and sail aboard a boat the natural world is predominant and the feeling of living so close to it - some would say as we were truly meant to live - heightens the senses and lifts the spirit in the way, perhaps, that a lunchtime break taken from the office and spent in the park during springtime might. But when you're aboard there's no returning to the air-conditioned cubicle...

Given this my parents case of the "back ashore blues" makes all the sense in the world. Lucky that they had a reason to catch them at all!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

2007 Louis Vuitton Cup - Round Robin One
Valencia, Spain (Photo credit: Daniel Forster)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Tillerman's Writing Project

I don't usually write about other bloggers - which would in part explain my painfully low "authority" rating on technorati - but Tillerman over at Proper Course is off on a tangent and, as a fellow sailing blogger, I feel compelled to direct your attention to his shift in format...a writing contest of sorts designed to bring us sailors together to relate variations on a common thread, namely, "...the worst mistake or most embarrassing moment you had while sailing."

Now most of us don't make mistakes (sarcasm implied) but if you can bear to own up then submit your story to Tillerman and look forward to the results ;-) Should be an entertaining collection of anecdotes...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Rosenfeld Collection

We took our son to the Maritime Aquarium today in Norwalk, CT for a fellow five-year olds birthday party. It was a sunny day with a nice breeze - pleasant for early May but might have been a bit chilly out sailing on Long Island Sound. Keeping warm to windward was not our problem today, however. Dodging kids to get a look at the seals, marveling at the playful otters and zoning out to the Jellyfish tank was more our speed. Down past the seal tank, past the Cow Nosed Rays that you could "pet" as the skimmed by in their tank was a boat building workshop. And on the wall across from the boat building workshop were a number of gorgeous black and white prints of yachts under sail from The Rosenfeld Collection. The Rosenfeld Collection - purchased in 1984 by Mystic Seaport Museum - is one of the largest archives of maritime photography in the United States. A collection of nearly one million pieces documents the period from 1881 to the present representing the evolution of photographic technology and development in the maritime industry over the last one hundred years. The collection is built on the inventory of the Morris Rosenfeld & Sons' photographic business, located in New York City from 1910 until the late 1970's.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Light Week

Apologies for the light week...been in San Francisco on business & flying back to NYC today. I'll catch up tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

An example of Nat Herreshoff 's "New York" series of boats designed for the New York Yacht Club - Digital artwork by Bob Bausch

The other finish line in Spain...

Cheminees Poujoulat has crossed the finish line of the Velux 5 Oceans in Bilbao, Spain - offering us all a welcome break from the flood of news from Valencia - to complete the third and final leg of the race from Norfolk (USA) in 11 days, 23 hours and 53 minutes ago.

After 103 days, 22 hours and 10 minutes at sea, Bernard Stamm of Cheminees Poujoulat won every leg of the race and finished with a lead of more than 14 days on the overall ranking over second place Kojiro Shiraishi. Shiraishi finished the final leg 43 minutes behind Stamm.

Here's a link to the image gallery from the line crossing.