Olympics: Bronze for USA, plus the Couple Who Sails Apart…

Caleb Paine was in fourth place going into the medal race in the Finn dinghy class on Tuesday.  He led at every mark and took the race – and took the Bronze medal in the process.

caleb bronze
Sailing equivalent of a victory lap. Caleb Paine celebrating after securing Bronze.

The Finn is a large singlehanded dinghy, used as the ‘heavyweight’ men’s singlehanded class.  It’s had a very long reign in Olympic sailing – uninterrupted since the 1952 Games. It’s arguably the hardest boat to sail well in the world.  It’s certainly the most brutal.

This was Paine’s first Olympic appearance.  He skipped college to pursue competitive sailing, and apparently it paid off.  Congratulations!


Two other Olympians who wound up with significant fourth place stats in their classes have a lot in common…

  • Sail the same boat (Laser)
  • Live in the same country (Italy)
  • Share blood relatives

Who are they?

Gintaré and Robert Scheidt…

scheidette 2012
Yes, her boat says 2012 – but she was indeed in the current 2016 Games too. This pic syncs well with the next one…

scheidt

So, they sail they same boat, although Gintaré’s rig is the Radial (smaller sail and bottom half of mast).  They represent different countries (Gintaré is originally from Lithuania).  They are married with children, and live together in Italy.  Gintaré was fourth in the medal race (7th overall), and Robert won the medal race which brought him to 4th overall. He won one of the earlier races but also had some poor outings.

Had he Bronzed, he would have won his 6th Olympic sailing medal in two classes – the Laser and the Star class doublehanded keelboat, which are as far apart as actual boats get in the Olympics.  Only the sailboard class (RS:X) is further removed from the Star.  Two Golds, two Silvers, and a Bronze – in two very different boats.  This writer can’t think of a better Olympic sailing record.  Elvström won 4 golds in two dinghies, the Firefly and the Finn, but I think Scheidt’s record is even more impressive.


Here’s hoping that the US women’s 470 team converts their 2nd place in overall standings into a podium finish.  To be continued…

Want to watch live and also get some replays?  Here are links to NBC’s streaming page for sailing.  Most prior days’ coverage are available but the last two weren’t last time we checked.

http://www.nbcolympics.com/sailing   (Main sailing page with news and schedules for streaming)

http://stream.nbcolympics.com/sailing-day-3  (First day of replays that are actually available on demand.  Edit the number to try the day you want.  Was working up through day 8 last time we checked and tech difficulties for days 1 & 2.)

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Olympic Sailing Update

August 15, 2016 (edited on the 16th)

US Sailing, our country’s organization for sailboat racing, announced yesterday that things were looking good for Team US on the Olympic sailing front.  “Five sailors are in the top 10.”

That’s lame!  Guess we suck at sailing this time…

Well, it’s lame for us in the historical scheme of things.  We have tended to be the country to beat.  But the rest of the world is getting more competitive in the sport, which is a good thing.

There are numerous sailing classes for both men and women in the Olympics.  They range from the RS:X sailboard (‘windsurfer’) to the Star class double handed keelboat.  Most boats are boardboats.  Right now only the Star class has a keel.

( – aside: there was a Star fleet at the Stuyvesant Yacht Club on City Island for decades.  They dry-sailed them.  This writer got on one for a few races a long time ago when a skipper needed a crew.  That’s some hard-core boat!  But like many pedigree platforms, it can be sailed on a more casual than Olympic basis and still be enjoyable.)

So; who’s good from the good ‘ol USA..

Womens 470: Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha, currently in second place!..

470 women

Finn: Caleb Paine, 4th place, 5 points out of Bronze so could medal…

finn cp

Kudos to Great Britain’s Giles Scott, who has already clinched the gold.  The medal race is on Tuesday, limited to the top 10 contenders, so this is definitely worth watching.  Easier to follow than the whole fleet.  Cheer Caleb Paine on to Bronze!

Brazilian hometown favorite Robert Scheidt was doing very well in the Laser class.  He was second for awhile in the standings, but disappointing finishes in later races dropped him down.  Scheidt is one of the winningest sailors in Olympic history, with 5 Olympic Medals in the sport.  He’s taken two gold, two silver, and a bronze, and these are spread out over two totally different classes: the singlehanded Laser dinghy, and the doublehanded Star keelboat.  That’s very impressive in my log book.  In fact, I can’t think of a better Olympic sailing record.  Super kudos!

And then there’s his wife! Gintarė Scheidt (Gintarė Volungevičiūtė-Scheidt) represents Lithuania in sailing.  The two met at a training event and later got married.  Gintaré was Lithuania’s standard bearer for the opening ceremonies.  The two live with their children in Italy.


So… if we’re not exactly the standard setters this time, which countries are sailing more consistently?

Britain, and France.  They’re solidly in the top ten in almost every event.  As mentioned, Giles Scott had the Finn Gold wrapped up before the final race.  France medaled in both mens and women’s RS:X sailboard events, so that’s impressive.


Want to watch replays and be ready to stream live when racing resumes (probably on midday, Tuesday August 16)?  Here you go…

http://stream.nbcolympics.com/sailing-day-8

(update: NBC’s replay links are currently just saying “Coverage has concluded” for days 10 and 11.  Lame.  But maybe that’ll sort itself out.)

This is the link for racing on Sunday.  Monday saw poor conditions with a lot of cancellations, and the replay seems to not be available for anything they did air.  But you can edit the number “8” in your browser and substitute anything smaller, and you’ll get the replays for that day’s racing.  Very hard to find otherwise.  Footage is excellent.  It’s mostly real video, with occasional graphic race course overlays.  Sometimes they give real-time graphic renditions of the fleet instead.

You’ll probably have to sign in with your cable provider the first time but then be good to go.


Want results and schedules?

https://www.rio2016.com/en/sailing-schedule-and-results

Shortly after it says Schedule and Results in bold, you’ll see a list of all the sailing classes for men, women, and the one mixed class – the Nacra catamaran.  There you can choose the class whose standings you want to see.  Or, further down, you can browse by calendar date for individual race results or to see what’s coming up when starting Tuesday the 16th.

https://www.olympic.org/sailing

The Olympics home page for sailing, in case you like that better.  Variety & options…

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Watch Live Feeds of Olympic Sailing in Rio

Live footage begins today on NBC…

http://www.nbcolympics.com/live-stream-schedule/sailing

Today, at noon, we have Laser racing.  Awesome little boat that is one of the most important classes in the history of the sport.  Well worth checking this out, and also sailing one yourself at some point.  Most America’s Cup skippers in recent history were winners in Lasers at some point.

The Dockmaster's collection of Laser racing awards
The Dockmaster’s collection of Laser racing awards

The medals above are NOT from the Olympics.  They are from the local/regional level in Long Island Sound/NYC.  But they are so kewl.  That’s the boat as profiled on each medallion.  Check out the live coverage or recaps as the Rio Olympiad rolls along and you’ll see why this boat rules.

Thanks, Bruce Kirby, for designing it.

Design Review: Beneteau First 21.0

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.

Beneteau First 21.0 sloop sailing fast upwind.
One of our Beneteau First 21.0 sloops at New York Sailing Center.

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.

asa first 22 pair
A pair of ASA First 22 sloops duking it out somewhere. Note sail number: “20,” same on both, leftover from Beneteau’s standard production model – the First 20.  They’re all the same size boat.

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.

ben blueprint
ABOVE: Blueprint of the Beneteau First 21.0, showing the swing keel in both extremes of its range. This is a ‘high aspect’ design: the sails and the keel (foils) are tall up and down, and short fore and aft.

“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.

ben trailer
Keel fully retracted, a First 21.0 on its trailer and ready to roll.

“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.)

ben 20 birdseye
Bird’s eye of the Beneteau First 20 plan. Note how wide the back, or transom, of the boat is and also the twin rudders on the back. All this is the same configuration as the First 21.0.

“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.

ben 20 sailing
A First 20 in fine form upwind. Note the rudder barely touching the water. The other one is all the way in and fairly straight, meaning it works well. When a sailboat leans to the side, its rudder loses some effectiveness and this twin rudder design reduces that.

(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.

asa first 22 1 boat 1 couple
Closer view of the newer ASA First 22. Larger cockpit, smaller cabin, and Stars n Stripes graphics are the key differences between the original First 21.0 and this version.

“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.)

ben b & w spinn
Black & white is so timeless! Here’s a great shot of the First 21.0 flying along while flying a kite (spinnaker). Note the simple, spacious cockpit, balancing well with the open deck space making it easy to go forward to moor, anchor, rig a non-furling jib (which is best for learning to sail), etc.

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.

Here are a couple of related links…

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America’s Cup and why Sailing the Hudson Still Sucks…

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?

  • Perceived proximity
  • Marketing hype
  • 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…)

krunch
Real? Photoshopped? Don’t know… but we know this scene has happened on numerous occasions with several schools in New York Harbor and the Hudson.

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.

Here’s a link to the entire article with a few pics.

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America’s Cup: back across the Pond

 

IMG_5225
Looks like Team Oracle (USA) leads here, right? Wrong. Watch the video clip to see how Land Rover rolled right through this group and blew them away.  Use the link below to go to the AmCup site and get the app.

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.

Paul Elvstrøm 1960b.jpg
‘The Great Dane,’ Paul Elvstrom, in the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He’s in a Finn dinghy – the world’s hardest boat to sail. Period.

Elvstrom is arguably the most successful sailor in racing history.

Quick stats…

  • 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.

IMG_5226
Team Land Rover foiling along during the July 23 action on the Solent. Note the stadium seating in background.

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…

https://www.americascup.com/en/home.html

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Clipper Race: story from one of our students who did it.

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.

Fabio Peixoto

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America’s Cup Comes to New York

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.

ah cup shot
The Cup (or Auld Mug as it’s known) on temporary display downtown in Manhattan. That’s one of our students standing alongside – Adam Holmes, who learned to sail in Canada but came to us with some of his buddies from up North to do 103 and 104.  Then, they did their own bareboat charter in the Virgin Islands!

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.

For more info on City Island’s history with the cup, see the City Island Nautical Museum’s page on it here: http://www.cityislandmuseum.org/VSS-AmCup/AmericasCup.html

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/

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