Pandemic living has some interesting scenarios for learning how to navigate or sail on Zoom.
“The Cat ate my homework” starts to sound reasonable! While I haven’t heard that (or by dog) from a student in our “Live 105” Coastal Navigation courses on Zoom, I’ve seen some strange stuff. Strange is purely subjective and relative, of course.
First: what’s this course? It’s our Start Navigating course, ASA 105 Coastal Navigation. It has no prerequisites, and no prior navigation experience or training is necessary. (It is helpful to have done some boating or sailing for better perspective, but we assume none of that when we teach you.)
PC (Pre COVID), we taught this in small group settings both in Manhattan and New Rochelle. Last March, we switched to Zoom: the first school doing it, and the only one I can actually verify as doing so. It’s gone quite well! It’s almost as if we’re all in the same room together, and allows people in different locations and time zones to navigate together and make new friends and potential sailing buddies.
Anywho, as most people are doing this from home, we get a glimpse of what home looks, sounds and feels like. That includes critters.
So far, we haven’t seen the proverbial pirate parrot perched on anyone’s shoulder, or carrying off plotting tools as a prank, but a number of cats and dogs have scored some screen shots.
I host and teach all our Zoom sessions. It comes naturally to me, and is fitting as I wrote the book we use for the course. Why not use the ASA book? That’s a loooong story, but short version: got tired of waiting for them to revise and professionally print their very good old book. Had to write supplements for it for topics covered on exam but not in book, for example. Started drafting my own. Almost done; needed a few final copies for first course of a winter season. They gone went and published an entirely new book by another author rather than revise the old one, and instead of the expensive price going down, it actually went UP further. But wait – there’s more! They also had a separate companion book that wasn’t just practice problems or resources, but also part of the text.
But wait – there’s MORE!!! There was also a companion DVD . Took a look at that for about 30 seconds, couldn’t take it any more. Tossed it like a frisbee for the cat who pounced on it. Never saw it again. (Ultimately, after breaking their own arm patting themselves on the back for this rollout, they gone went and did what they said they were originally: revised the OLD one. And, they published that as well, offering both texts. At that point, I’d been using my own for a few years, and have simply tweaked that and never looked back.)
So, cats, and dogs. Here’s one pic in an Instagram post from a live class, PC of course. The pic is a link…
My cat attends each Zoom session. He interferes while lounging across the chart, or gets annoyed if he senses I’m paying him no mind and talking to a computer screen that is talking back. Then, he gets very intrusive and has to be escorted out.
Just before our most recent session, I had the chart spread out to review one of the practice plots. Buddy jumped up on it, but it was draped over the side of the coffee table, and he didn’t land cleanly on the table. So, the slash-n-scramble routine ensued. End result: I needed oxygen and the chart looked like this:
BUT WAIT – there’s MORE!… It’s like an actual cartoon, where the Warner Bros’ Looney Tune tears ass through a wall leaving the outline…
Pets are optional, of course, for this course. But if you’re managing work, family/kids, or those perpetual 2 year-olds… pets… bring it! It’s all manageable on Zoom.
For more about our “Live 105” sessions on Zoom for Start Navigating, here you go…
A client of ours is originally from Canada, and two buddies and he did 103 and 104 with us one season before doing their first bareboat charter in the BVI.
Adam’s uncle got involved with a latent lighthouse in Ontario, Canada. He’s on the local preservation committee, and had been trying to get it lit back up. Apparently, it was a somewhat uphill battle as there were concerns about the light shining on shoreside homes at night and being intrusive. The major’s office was involved and favored the light being back on, so that helped.
Here’s an excerpt from the original Notice to Mariners in 1917 that announced the construction of this light!..
For its return, the compromise was to aim the light across the bay at another peninsula rather than sweep across the shore or just aim 360 all around. Our mission: confirm the exact bearing, and show/explain why we came up with the magic number.
(Truth be told, Adam was more than capable of doing this himself, having successfully taken and passed 103, 104 and 105 with us and then applied it in the BVI. But this had to come from us as the outside experts.)
Anywho, Adam enlisted us to be the alleged experts to plot the angle of the light and show how we’d done it.
1. Get the right chart. Adam took care of this: NOAA #14832, Upper Niagara River, ending in Lake Erie.
2. ID the light in question: “Light House,” on Point Abino. No characteristics shown as it’s idle.
3. ID the exact spot the new light is supposed to be aimed at: SW corner of the peninsula across the bay at the other end of Crystal Beach.
4. Measure the bearing painstakingly several times with at least two methods and get a consistent answer: 61 degrees magnetic.
On August 30th, a group of 10 kayakers was basically run over by a NY Waterway ferry that was backing out of its Manhattan slip into the glare of the sun in the western sky. Several were injured; two seriously. It’s all under investigation of course. Not many other facts have been reported so far and thus it’s hard to piece it all together.
The kayak company involved claims to not have had a collision before in its 20-year operating history. But the incident does beg some questions…
Was the kayak group being reckless, passing close by an active ferry dock?
Did the ferry sound a proper signal and post a proper lookout?
Are New York Harbor and the Hudson & East Rivers even suitable environments for kayaks and stand-up paddleboards?
There’s been a large increase in kayak and even paddleboard activity around Manhattan recently. It’s cheap, easy access to the water. But the water moves – fast. There are strong currents that make real sailboats stand still against the skyline while sailing full tilt. Then there’s the traffic.
“You have every single marine traffic situation that is known to man, every single day. You have high speed ferries of different sizes that have different routes, you have pleasure craft, you have ocean liners, you have commercial dredges. It all exists here. You see kayak and paddleboard people on the Hudson River with a 3- or 4-knot current at dusk — it’s insane.”
-Captain Frank Crescitelli, fishing charter captain (“Fin Chaser”) based in New York Harbor. (As quoted in the NY Times article referenced below.)
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (New York Sailing Center’s location on City Island, half the length of Manhattan away from it but light years away as far as the boating and sailing environment), we have the Touring Kayak Club near our moorings. They launch from their own ramp in City Island Harbor. Sometimes, I think they stray a bit far from their base, but the traffic conditions are far more manageable and predictable here. Plus, currents can usually be swum against, so paddling against them is a cinch.
TKC is a private membership club that no one seems to know much about. The last time I checked, they were wait-listed. At New York Sailing Center, we are planning to introduce kayaking and perhaps boardsailing (“windsurfing”) in 2017.
As for NY Harbor and the Rivers, it’s hard even for non-capsizing sailboats to manage all the logistics and stay safe on, much less enjoy, the waterways. We keep hearing of collisions and capsizes – yes, capsizes with non-capsizing sailboats! Why? They push it. They fly spinnakers without enough experience, training, or regard for weather. So, they flip ’em. And, sometimes sink ’em. Seriously? Yup, so just say no to SUP…
“It’s a super-accessible way to get exposure to the waterways, where there is a really undiscovered part of New York City; there’s a mystique to it. But if you’ve never experienced a 40-knot vessel coming at you with a kayak, that’s a problem.”
-Elias Vaisberg, who runs kayak fishing tours out of Staten Island. (As quoted in NYT article referenced below.)
The quotes above were from the NY Times article about it on August 30 titled “Recreation and Commerce Collide on New York’s Crowded Waterways” by Sarah Maslin Nir and Eli Rosenberg. The previous day, there was an article titled “10 Kayakers Rescued from Hudson River After Collision with Ferry.” We have not provided links because when we pasted them into the post, they keep trying to embed and all that appeared was a portion of the call-out photo with no actual link or text. So there.
We recently came across this review of our learn-to-sail boat, the Beneteau First 21.0. It’s sometimes called the First 210. Many Europeans call it the Baby Ben.
It’s the smallest sailboat made by the largest (and oldest) sailboat manufacturer in the world. It’s two and a half editions, or generations, or models old depending on how one defines that. Started with the First 21.0; became the First 20. (Boat didn’t shrink.) Then, Beneteau and ASA (American Sailing Association) teamed up to produce a slightly modified version – that’s the “half” to which I refer – called the ASA Trainer or First 22. (Again, the boat didn’t grow.) The chief difference on this one is that they made a smaller cabin and larger cockpit.
But, all versions have these things in common:
Hull. (Boat body) The size and shape are the same.
Keel. (The fin that stops the boat from going sideways and from flipping over.)
Rudders. (Steering fins.) Yes, plural. There are two.
Rig. The spars (poles that hold the sails up, out, etc), and basic sailplan, are the same except for the squared-off top of the mainsail on the newer boats.
Bob Perry, a highly esteemed naval architect and author, with a regular column on design in Sailing magazine, penned this article some time ago. Here are his words, and some pics we saw fit to slip in…
Perry on Design: the Beneteau First 21.0.
(Bob’s prose appears below in quotes. Any editorial notes I couldn’t resist are indented in parentheses as I’ve done here.)
“Let’s go small and look at a trailerable boat. This one is from the board of Group Finot and built by Beneteau. It is a very different approach, abandoning tradition and going after speed and convenience with modern design features.
“The benefit of this type of boat is the ability to move easily to exotic or semi-exotic locations for regattas. The 210 will make a great daysailer or a camp-style cruiser. While trailerable sailboats are seldom examples of refined design, the First 210 shows design innovation aimed at sparkling performance and eye appeal. This boat is also unsinkable.
“With an LOA of 21 feet, the First 210 shows a modern, round bilge hull form with a very broad transom to give it dinghylike proportions. Look carefully at the plan view, deck layout or interior. Note the location of maximum beam. In most modern designs the maximum beam is located at or around station six. If you use the same system of establishing stations and break the 210’s DWL into 10 segments, you will find the max beam around station nine! There is even a curious little hook in the deck line right at station nine. The result of this shape is extreme maximization of the small volume available in 21 feet and a wide platform aft to optimize the righting moment effect of crew weight.
(We’ve always called this boat a big dinghy with a keel on it. A dinghy is a sailboat that can flip over and requires the crew’s weight on the rail to hold it down. The Beneteau First 21.0 is very sensitive to crew weight, and reacts immediately to changes – but it won’t flip over if the crew fails to react. That makes it ideal for learning and training.)
“The extremely high-aspect-ratio centerboard (ed. note: it’s a ballasted swing keel, not a centerboard or centerboard keel) is housed in an odd shaped nacelle below the hull for a board-up draft of 2 feet, 3 inches. Almost every appendage is a candidate for “ellipticalization” these days, and I find it interesting that the designers have ended this board in a sharp point. In profile, the rudder looks ridiculously small until you realize that there are in fact two rudders. They are canted outboard at 15 degrees. With this extreme distribution of beam aft a normal rudder would pull almost clear of the water at high degrees of heel. With the two rudders, when the boat is heeled one of the rudders will still be at an effective working angle with the water. This is a slick way of reducing the required draft of the rudders. Note that the draft of the twin rudders is the same as the draft of the board housing. The rudders are linked through the member at the top of the open transom.
(The design was great by itself, but what puts it over the top is the twin rudders. Sailboats lean to the side naturally, as shown in the pic above. The more they lean, however, the less effective their rudder (steering fin) becomes. It loses its bite on the water, so it has to be held to one side to go straight. This creates drag and further reduces its effectiveness. But the twin rudders on the First 21.0, each one angled outward, become straight when the boat heels a normal amount, and when the boat heels too much, the rudder angle isn’t bad. This makes for a forgiving feel that allows students to learn from mistakes rather than be confused or overwhelmed by them. And that makes them better able to sail any boat afterward.)
“There are no overhangs on this little packet. The bow profile shows a hint of concavity to allow some flare into the forward sections. There is also a tiny amount of tumblehome in the midsection with a moderate BWL.
“The shrouds are taken to the deck edge allowing a small jib to be sheeted inside. The mainsheet sheets to a single attachment point on the cockpit sole. All halyards lead aft to jammers within easy reach of the helm. The spar is deck stepped with a hinged step. The interior is a one piece GRP molding with small sink and one burner stove. The portable head is under the V-berth. The small interior space is divided by a trunk that carries that top of the swing keel. A hinged leaf table is attached to this trunk. The four berths are all adult sized.
“On deck, the swim ladder and outboard bracket fit neatly between the twin rudders. The two cockpit lockers contain a space specifically for the outboard fuel tank. The bubblelike desk is striking and set off by a varnished mahogany toerail.
“The First 210 appears to combine careful styling with performance and safety. The general approach to this design is similar to the Mini-Transatlantic Class, but the boat is not as radical in proportions as a true mini-transat racer. Beneteau’s tooling of molded parts is as good as any in the business and their approach to finish and style is perhaps the best in the business. These aspects combine to ensure that the little 210 will be a standout.”
(“Mini-transat” refers to the Mini 6.5 class boat: 6.5 meters, basically the same as the first 21.0. It’s a serious racer. How serious? They are raced singlehanded across the Atlantic – with spinnaker. No shit. They have twin rudders like the Beneteaus. This class is also raced doublehanded for some regattas.)
We love this boat, and while they’re fewer and farther between, and much more expensive to buy than the boats more commonly used in sailing schools (J-24’s and Sonars come to mind), they’re worth it as they just work better for teaching.
“Don’t take our word for it!” Everyone says they have the best boat. But this is the only design ever endorsed for sailing instruction by a national sail training or sailing school organization such as ASA or US Sailing.
So, the America’s Cup came to New York earlier this season, and it was half empty.
The world’s best sailors and boats – and they couldn’t even get a series off on day one? They lost half the weekend. Was it sailable? Eh….
It was at City Island. We had a fine time. But on the Hudson, they had strong enough currents to make it unsailable. On Sunday, they were sometimes standing still after maneuvers. Sure, the wind was a little light. But not THAT light.
This is just one example. It’s an historical conundrum. Why do so many people (try to) learn to sail in NY Harbor and the Hudson, when pro sailors can’t figure it out?
The ? factor (as in we just don’t get it)
Don’t take our word for it! This shot, and the following article excerpts, sum it up nicely. One of our instructors recently took this picture of a picture. It was on the wall of another sailing school (down Mid-Atlantic way…)
And now, back to the America’s Cup from earlier this summer…
Read the following article excerpts, or the whole article via link at bottom, and imagine trying to learn to sail or even enjoy new skills (if even acquired) in NY Harbor and the Hudson.
-from Extreme Sailing to Meet Extreme Conditions on Hudson by Cory Kilgannon (New York Times, May 5, 2016)
nb: we’ve inserted some editorial notes here and there, indented like this.
“Holding a world-class sailing race, part of the America’s Cup series, off Battery Park City may make for spectacular shoreline viewing, but it is not easy for organizers or racers, who may prefer a location farther offshore with easier winds to navigate and little interference from other boat traffic.”
“The race poses daunting logistical challenges. There is the harbor traffic — ferries, tugboats, barges and other large vessels that ply the Hudson — that must be diverted, along with a designated area for the more than 700 personal recreational boats expected to anchor for the event.”
…not to mention Circle Line, the Shark Speedboat Thrill Ride, various large booze cruise boats, etc.
“Then there is the rapid current of the Hudson River as well as effects on the wind by the tall buildings flanking the racecourse, both in Manhattan and on the other side of the river in Jersey City.”
The current is so strong that anyone who’s spent a little time sailing here has had their boat ‘in the groove,’ going full tilt, only to look at the shoreline and see that they’re just standing still. All boats down there need engines to deal with this and usually get underway and stop under power. Doesn’t teach how to do it under sail…
The wind sheers and downdrafts created by the buildings are neither pleasant nor productive.
“All of which complicates the task of timing the races to start precisely at 2 p.m. for live coverage of the regatta on Saturday and Sunday. Races have been held near urban areas before, including in San Francisco and Gothenburg, Sweden, but they have never been staged this close to a downtown area.”
“Organizers have met for months with New York City officials and law enforcement agencies and other parties. Commercial shipping companies have agreed to work around the race times, and a separate lane will be established near the shoreline for ferries and other vessels.”
Sailing school activities (classes, club sails, and races), cruising boats visiting, sailing tours and charters, etc. don’t get this kind of special attention at all and must scurry out of the way of all the commercial traffic – which comes from every direction at once.
“For sailors, a major challenge will be the Hudson’s wind and current conditions. To adapt to the strong tidal current, which during the race will be running south with the outgoing tide, organizers are using heavier anchors and longer chains than usual to secure the race buoys, which are called marks.”
The strong current coupled with light winds wound up killing Saturday. Whole day lost. (This is supposed to be a competition of the world’s best sailors on fast, high-tech boats capable of speeds over 40 knots.)
“As for the air, the canyon of high-rises in Manhattan’s financial district and in Jersey City could negatively affect the all-important wind that is the sailor’s fuel.”
“For sailors, a major challenge will be the Hudson’s wind and current conditions. To adapt to the strong tidal current, which during the race will be running south with the outgoing tide, organizers are using heavier anchors and longer chains than usual to secure the race buoys, which are called marks.”
“Practice races on Friday will be filmed for use in case conditions on Saturday or Sunday prevent the regatta.”
Welcome to Manhattan, the Mecca of metropolitan Sailing!.. NOT.
The cup action has moved to Portsmouth, England and is exciting as usual. Local team Land Rover BAR, led by Sir Ben Ainslie, was in the lead after Saturday’s round of racing. Ainslie is without a doubt one of the best sailboat racers in recent history, with Olympic medals and world championships under his belt in such tough classes as the Laser and Finn. Add foiling catamarans to the list, and his path to glory starts to resemble that of ‘The Great Dane’ – Paul Elvstrom.
Elvstrom is arguably the most successful sailor in racing history.
Sailed in 8 Olympiads
Won Gold Medals in 4 consecutive Olympiads, a feat duplicated by only 3 other athletes, including Ben Ainslie and Carl Lewis;
Medaled (1st, 2nd or 3rd) in 11 World Championships;
Did all this in 9 different classes of boat, running the full gamut: singlehanded dinghies, double handed dinghies, 2-man keelboats, 3-man keelboats, and catamarans. Only thing he didn’t do was sailboards which became popular too late in his career.
Here is a list of racing classes he did all this in:
Firefly (singlehanded dinghy)
Finn (singlehanded dinshy)
Snipe (doublehanded dinghy)
505 (doublehanded dinghy)
Flying Dutchman (doublehanded beast of a dinghy/boardboat)
Star (doublehanded keelboat)
5.5 Metre (3-man keelboat)
Soling* (3-man keelboat)
Tornado (doublehanded catamaran)
*The Soling was a true pedigree racing class, but was also very commonly used in adult sailing school programs for a long time. We used them in our first school. Sweet ride, but not particularly comfortable or ergonomic for beginners.
On top of all that, he just missed an Olympic bronze medal by one place in the Tornado class catamaran in his 50’s with his teen daughter, Trina, crewing for him. He also victored in numerous Pan-European Championships, including in the Dragon class keelboat which was very competitive back in the day.
On and off the race course, Elvstrom was developmental in many ways., ranging from sail and spar design and manufacturing to improvements in components (such as self bailing mechanisms), training techniques (his ground breaking hiking bench), and race organization (such as using gates, or two marks to pass between, for large fleets). He wrote a few books too including Expert Dingy and Keelboat Racing.
Anyway, the times and boats were somewhat different, but all can agree that these are two of the greatest names in the sport of sailboat racing. Sir Ben Ainslie has the distinction of competing in the America’s Cup, the premier small fleet/match-racing event in the sport, and is doing a very good job.
CUPDATE: Ainslie and Team Land Rover (pictured below) won the Portsmouth regatta and have the America’s Cup trial series lead. That makes them currently the boat to beat and if they maintain their lead, they challenge Team Oracle for the actual Cup.
To watch previous races, both real-time with commentary and a variety of viewing angles, and really kewl virtual renditions, go to the official America’s Cup site and browse around or better still, get their app. Racing resumes on Sunday (July 24). Check it out…
We did the first weekend of a Bareboat Cruising course (ASA 104) on the 11th and 12th. Marc and Sheri, prior grads and ongoing Sailing Club members, wanted an overnight cruise experience as part of their training. We decided on Oyster Bay. Say hi to Marc & Sheri…
Moderate, slightly gusty breezes tapered off as we departed, so it was light winds all the way. They became variable in direction as well so it was a good challenge to keep the boat moving. Too many people just give up in these conditions, and never learn to actually sail a boat in them. This is one of the fascinating challenges in sailing, and as Long Island Sound and the Northeast are light-wind regions, it’s a critical skillset to develop. We did motor-sail briefly when it was futile to sail. After all, there was a sunset to catch while relaxing on the mooring!
We arranged for a mooring and the timing was perfect. After the yacht club’s sunset cannon went off, we walked into town in time for our dinner reservation at Wild Honey. Appetizers and entrees were all excellent as usual. We did have to reject the first bottle of wine, but the replacement was fine.
The next day saw winds increase beyond what had been originally forecast. We expected Northwest winds of 10-15 with gusts to 20. We were greeted with 20-30 from WNW. Higher gusts were to be possible. So, after taking our time with breakfast and boat prep, and preparing quick access sandwiches and snacks (as well as water), we headed out with our smallest genoa and a single reef in the main. First thing we encountered in the mouth of the bay? A fleet of little Optis zipping all over in perfect control, and one chase boat seemingly with nothing to do. We knew we then had no choice but to tough it out on our Pearson 10M (33-foot) keelboat! (Opti, short for Optimist Pram, is the most popular kids training boat in the world. We see them everywhere we cruise in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.)
But it wasn’t a big deal despite a confused sea state with short choppy waves. Kilroy ate it up with a balanced helm. The seas became more rhythmical the further west we progressed. But after a brief lulling of the breeze to mid-teens, it picked back up. By the time we had to negotiate the entrance to City Island Harbor, winds were 30-35. That’s getting into gale forces. Whew! But the boat and crew both took it in stride and it was a rewarding finish to a fine trip.
We previously reported on the tragic death of two sailors in the current, ongoing Clipper Race. This long, multi-stage race around the world is unique. It’s one-design racing with a fleet of a dozen 70-foot sailing yachts. They look a little like scaled up versions of our 21-foot Beneteau sloops, but most of what they have in common with our little guys is twin rudders.
Most serious distance ocean racing events use boats with twin rudders, including the Mini-Transat, with 6.5 meter boats singlehanded across the Atlantic! However, almost all other boats use a single rudder. Twin rudders are best for these long races, and also best for learning. (For more on how that works, and why ASA decided that the twin-rudder design we’ve been using since 1998 was their idea of the ultimate learning machine, see more on our web site.)
The fleet has departed Seattle, having completed a grueling leg from China, and is en route to New York by way of the Panama Canal.
A student from our school, Fabio Peixoto, sailed in a prior Clipper race. We asked if he’d share his experience and perspective, and here’s what he had to say…
“The Clipper race is considered the longest sailing race around the world. It is not only that, but it is also the only sailing race around the world open to amateurs! Everyone in the boat is a paying passenger, except the skipper. This feature makes it a very unique race and it gives the opportunity to amateur sailors like me to have an experience as close as possible to the Volvo ocean race.
The Clipper race stops in many ports, including New York City. When I learned about it I decided to check. This was back in 2010. I contacted them through their website and had a face-to-face interview with the sailing director when the boats arrived. The interview went well; I think they just want to make sure the candidate is not insane, and I decided to go ahead and book my first few training sessions.
Everyone can sign up for the race, from complete novice to Olympian sailors and everyone has to go through the same training process; a 4 level training session, around 32 days total. You can split the sessions anyway you want. I did the first 2 levels in 2 weeks in November 2010. The third session was in April 2011 and the 4th session in June. The race started on July 31st, 2011.
The training happens in the Solent, south of England. It is very professional, intense training. The instructors are old race skippers or new ones in training. We go out in any condition – no wind or gale force wind. We should because during the race we will have to face whatever Mother Nature throws at us. A lot of novices who sign up with romantic views of sailing give up after the first level. Sailing is wonderful, but it has its rough patches. But most people who are sailors know what to expect and have a great time! It is awesome to train in those big, racing boats under any condition. You feel like a professional!
I signed up for the first half of the race. It would be a little over 4 months of racing, from July 31st to December 13th 2011. We started in Portsmouth, England and had our first stop in Madeira Island. Then we stopped in Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Geraldton, Australia, Tuaranga, New Zealand and Gold Coast, Australia, where it was my last stop. The race continued to China, crossed the Pacific to San Francisco, crossed the Panama canal, and sailed to New York, before crossing the Atlantic again and finishing in England. The complete race takes one year. Half the boat is booked for circumnavigators and half to leggers.
I can tell you that the race was an amazing experience! I have nothing but praise to the Clipper race! It is a very well run race, and they are very professional. I have sailed through squalls, gales and storm force winds. I have also seen amazing marine life, two lunar rainbows and, I believe, a green flash. I highly recommend the race to sailors who want to gain offshore experience. Offshore sailing is one of the last true adventures in the world!
The current Clipper race is their 20th edition. There have been many injuries before, including during my race. It is inevitable given the conditions that we sail; broken ribs, broken legs, concussion, etc. However they have never had a fatality in all those years. Unfortunately it seems they ran out of luck; there has been already two deaths in this race. Coincidence or not, in the same boat, Ichor Coal.
The first casualty happened right on the beginning of the race, on their way to Rio. It is still not clear the reason, but it seems that right after a reefing procedure, Andrew Ashman was hit by the main sheet or the boom and fell unconscious. They tried to resuscitate him in vain. The boat was diverted to Porto in Portugal to drop off the body.
This was the first death in 20 years and the conditions seemed to indicate an unfortunate causality. However, on April 1st 2016 another sailor on the same boat, Sarah Young, fell overboard in the Pacific during rough conditions. She was not tethered when a big wave washed her overboard. After one hour of searching, she was found. Unfortunately she had already died of hypothermia and/or drowning. Due to the distance to land, a decision was made to have a sea burial.
The first death seemed to be an unfortunate case but the second one shocked me. Specially because I went almost overboard in very rough seas in the Southern ocean. It was 2 AM and we were going through a gale with gust to 60 knots. I had just finished driving for one hour when the skipper took over. I was sitting next to him and then I decided to go down in the cabin to have some water. As soon as I unclipped to go under the traveler, a huge wave hit the boat. I felt this very strong water pushing on my back. My left hand was holding the binnacle and I wasn’t letting it go for nothing! The only thing I was thinking was “F****, I am not clipped in!” Fortunately I was able to hold myself and the only damage was a little bleeding on my nose from hitting the skipper’s leg and a bit of a twist to the binnacle frame. If I went overboard at 2 AM under those conditions, it would be very hard to find me. And even if they’ve found me, bringing me back into the boat with that sea state would be extremely difficult!
Even after these two tragedies, I still have trust in the Clipper race. Their training program is excellent and there is a big focus on safety! We are reminded of clipping-in all the time, not only during training, but also during the race. Andrew’s death seems to have been bad luck, but Sarah’s could have been prevented if she was tethered to the boat. I do not know if it was her fault of if she was in the process of changing jack lines, like in my situation in the Southern ocean. I just know that accidents happen, especially in extreme sports like offshore racing. I hope that the rest of the race goes smoothly and I wish the best to all racers! There is no adventure without risks.
As part of the training, hype and qualifying for the 35th America’s Cup, they’re taking their act on the road and that road leads to New York.
The America’s Cup is considered the oldest sporting event in the world, dating back to the 1850’s. It’s a match race, meaning that two boats duke it out on a course and have only each other to contend with. (There will be fleet racing, or rounds of match races, in preliminaries but the finals are one on one.)
City Island, the home of your friendly neighborhood Sailing Center, has a storied history of involvement in the America’s Cup going back to 1870! Many, if not most, Cup boats were built, serviced and stored, or outfitted with sails here on City Island. The US won the inaugural event, and held onto the Cup until 1983 when we first lost it – after the previous 5 successful defenders were built on City Island! While Newport, RI seems to be more commonly associated with it due to notoriety/infamy/etc, City Island was more like the consistent, silent partner over most of the Cup’s history. Sadly, all that’s left is memorabilia on display at the City Island Nautical Museum.
We won the Cup back, and lost it. Maybe a few times. But we surely took it back in style in 2013, when the Oracle team reversed a 8-1 deficit in one of the most spectacular comebacks in the history of sports.
This weekend sees racing off lower Manhattan. For those who can’t get on a boat in the viewing area, or a high enough perch to look down on it, not a drama. You can watch a lot of it on cable and through the America’s Cup app on mobile.
ps: the Museum, which is open on weekends, is well worth a visit.
For more info on this weekend’s Cup events and viewing options, go straight to the source. You can see which networks are carrying it, and how to get the America’s Cup app and watch even more content live with that… https://www.americascup.com/