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It’s been a shitty start to racing at Hamilton Island Race Week with slim-to-fuck-all breeze for the biggest fleet ever assembled for Australia’s biggest offshore regatta.  Fortunately there’s plenty to see and do in tropical paradise, and whalewatching was clearly the drug of choice for many during the calms.  Nic Douglass grabbed this shot and there are plenty more on Adventures of a Sailor Girl here.  Clicky to hear Nic’s interviews from today.

August 23rd, 2016

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062816-FrenchMinistry-cropped-1024x768We love the fact that Rich Wilson spends the vast majority of his Open 60 time and energy providing unique, powerful learning oportunities for kids through his sitesALIVE! program.  For the 2016 Vendee Globe, Wilson has taken a big step further – he’s gone full French on us, and all the way to the top!  From the very well-done sitesALIVE! Newsletter (which you can sign up for here):

As Great American IV arrives in les Sables d’Olonne ready to complete training, we’ve surged ahead in our bid to appeal to audiences in France, where the Vendée Globe is well known. We are set to launch a French version of our website; our Teachers’ Guide has already been translated into French; and, most importantly, the Directorate-General for Schools of the French Ministry for National Education has agreed to collaborate on our educational program. More details to follow after administrators return from the August holidays.

Although the Vendée Globe already offers an education program for school children via their website, the education ministry appreciated several novel aspects of sitesALIVE! They liked that we put curricular topics into real world context and that we offer a team of experts, plus the chance for students to interact globally around the various topics. After an initial favorable meeting in February with ministry officials (thanks to the introduction of the American Embassy in Paris) we met again in June to hash out details. The ministry has approved our program for use in French schools.

In other France-related news, we arrived in les Sables d’Olonne on August 17th (see details below),  after motoring for the last part of the trip over calm seas. Training will be completed here. Previously, at the end of June, we sailed a short training run with British sailor Dee Caffari (who was also on board to help on the voyage from the Azores to South Hampton in November last year). Although we started out on this latest training run with lightning storms, which Dee categorized as “very, very, frightening,” we managed to put skipper and boat through their paces, tacking and gibing, changing sails and checking all systems on board. As in November, it was reassuring to have Dee aboard as we got the hang of sailing the big boat in a variety of conditions.

Seventy-five days before the start, French enthusiasm for the Vendée Globe is building, and this time around we want to make sure to do everything possible to make our educational program accessible to French-speakers. We’re on track to launch a French version of the sitesALIVE! site, due in September. We’ve also had the teachers’ manual translated into French, giving francophone teachers — wherever they may be in the world — instructions on how to guide their students through our math, science, history and geography curriculum, based on a sailing adventure that circumnavigates the globe.

 

August 23rd, 2016

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we do

Sailing a boat calls for quick action, a blending of feeling with the wind and water as well as with the very heart and soul of the boat itself. Sailing teaches alertness and courage, and gives in return a joyousness and peace that but few sports afford.” George Matthew Adams

Junior Sailing: Why We Do What We Do

This past weekend I witnessed something great. The 2016 4th Annual Keith Dinsmoor Trophy Regatta for youth sailors (ages 8-17), which was held near Lahaina just off of Mala Wharf, was the latest manifestation of a dream that Lahaina Yacht Club member Keith Dinsmoor brought to life 14 years ago. At the time, soon-to-be Commodore Bruce Baum was convinced that LYC should have a program for kids and he enlisted Keith to gather up a group of kids and spend a week teaching them to sail in Sabot dinghies. Keith was soon joined by other volunteers who loved sailing (namely Curtiss Robb, Dan O’Hanlon, and Bruce himself). The LYC Junior Sailing programs have evolved from those humble beginnings.

The one-week summer program has grown into sold-out multiple summer classes and now also includes private school groups sending students for one week classes throughout the year. HUNDREDS of Maui children are introduced to our sport every year now.

Four years ago program leader/coach Mike Sowers received a call from Hawaii Kai Boat Club member Todd Carle on Oahu. Todd proposed that we send our kids to Oahu for an annual inter-club regatta, the Baron’s Cup. Mike explained that LYC does not have a Junior Sailing Team, only 1-week class programs. But it occurred to Mike that here was an opportunity to take LYC sailing programs to a new level. He told Todd that, by golly, we would put a team together. Todd replied that there was a catch. LYC has to reciprocate and host Hawaii Kai Boat Club sailors for an annual Maui regatta. Mike replied “You’re on!” The Dinsmoor Trophy Regatta was born.

Matson stepped in as a major sponsor. They provide free shipping in a 40 foot container so that the visiting team can ship all their dinghies and equipment to the host venue. Our team went to the Baron’s Cup as invited that year. A few months later LYC hosted the Hawaii Kai Boat Club team here in Maui waters. These two events have been a tremendous boon to our junior sailors as they have the opportunity to compete off-island and hone their skills against outside teams. This year, Kaneohe Yacht Club also sent a competitor.

Youth sailing is growing as a result of the inter-island competition. Hawaii Kai Boat Club sent a team to the O’Pen BIC world championships in Australia in 2015, and they sent a team to the 2016 O’Pen Bic Worlds in France and one of their members, Lars VonSydow captured 1st place in the world in the 14-19 age group!

Our kids are proving to be seasoned competitors as they gain more experience. There is no reason why some of our kids can not go on to compete nationally or even internationally NEXT YEAR! The modern O’pen BIC and RS Feva classes are wide open to our Hawaii’s junior sailors.

But the main focus of LYC Junior Sailing programs will remain on instruction, fun, safety, fun, confidence-building, fun, sportsmanship, fun, skill-building, fun, healthy outdoor fun, and did I mention? — fun. People who love sailing, dozens of volunteers, are helping to perpetuate our sport by helping to instill the love, the joy, the freedom of sailing. The kids are learning life-long skills and having a great time of it.

The award-winners get a lot of well-deserved attention. But during this year’s event, as I was following the Dinsmoor fleet around the course on the media boat, I focused in on a kid who was not in the lead. He was back in the second half of the fleet. You see, ten year old James McCrystal was in the first regatta of his life. He had taken the one-week LYC Junior Sailing Class in 2015 and repeated it in 2016. Total life-long sailing experience was 2 weeks. James is also a Webelo Scout, and that will continue, but he realized he really liked sailing. He asked to join the Junior Sailing Team. Of course he was accepted with open arms. During his first ever regatta, James displayed a calm determination and his efforts paid off with some good form and respectable finish for a total newbie. When I emailed James’ mom (Bonnie) seeking permission to tell his story in this report, she shared with me something that floored me. James McCrystal told his mom, “I love sailing because when the wind blows, I feel it in my heart.”

A wave of emotion poured over me and, alone at my computer, I silently proclaimed to myself, “YES YES YES! THIS IS WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO!”

- Bruce Olsten

 

August 21st, 2016

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Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.50.49 PMUPDATE: Oh, look! We were right.  Again.

We heard today that the latest savior of the 2017 AC has taken a walk; we’re talking of course of Dr. Harvey Schiller, the Commercial Commissioner of ACEA for the past two years, and as of today, his LinkedIn CV says “ACEA, 2014 to August 2016.  With his resume including the NY Yankees and the USOC, the doctor was lauded by ACEA as the next great savior of the always-unsustainable billionaire ballgame that’s the Cup when hired two years ago, but it appears that he’s finally had it with CEO Coutts and is cutting his losses.

Insiders have told us that Russell and the Doctor have been butting heads hard for the better part of a year now; did Dr. Harvey leave because he never got over the fact he wasn’t named the CEO?  Or maybe the ETNZ arbitration case (which Coutts stalled for more than a year for no good reason)  is about to crash down around the heads of ACEA.  If not, perhaps Schiller finally tired of fighting over the proper way to treat sponsors and other stakeholders…we’ll let you know more when we do.

Those who remember how the last great savior at the head of ACEA went out will feel a bit of deja vu; if the past is a predictor of the future, we can all expect things to start going downhill fast.

 

 

 

August 21st, 2016

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Big Pimpin’

go westFor 30 years racing at the tropical island of Key West has been a midwinter dream and a mainstay on the international calendar: while the rest of the Northern Hemisphere freezes the participants at Quantum Key West Race Week have enjoyed five days of competition in the warm blue-green waters at this ‘southernmost point of the USA’.

Main picture: Great boat and glorious Key West colours… 2016 saw the first class start for the new C&C 30, with Bobsled winning the prize for the best-looking paint scheme. The C&C 30s do seem to be edging ahead in the battle of the modern 30-footers that have appeared over the past three years. We look forward to hearing the reports after their first proper offshore contest…
Within the first decade this event that started as a mostly fun series among casual racers has since seen the level of excellence in both competition and race management increase to where this is now regarded as one of the world’s top international regattas.

Last year’s 29th edition was managed for the first time by the Storm Trysail Club, who introduced some new features to help attract a growing audience of participants among both the serious and the casual handicap racers. These included a Navigator’s class for cruisers and multihulls who wished to race only once a day, and two new club classes to replace PHRF. Those features will return in January 2017, along with racing on three course areas for ORC, IRC and the numerous one-design classes who form the majority of entries. Read on.

 

August 21st, 2016

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The Waterlust team visits Chesapeake Light Craft (clcboats.com) and builds two wooden sailing canoes for an adventure down the Intracoastal Waterway from Norfolk Virginia to Miami Florida!

 

August 20th, 2016

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rock it

We sometimes like to rock boats to weather on runs, and the crew on the tortured Stephen Jones designed Half Ton Demolition shows how to do it! Check out the results here.

 

August 18th, 2016

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Early this morning (China Time) it was the turn of the 470 with 5 medals up for grabs.

In the Women’s 470 the only way the GBR team could have lost the gold was to score a DSQ and the NZL pairing of Aleh & Powrie to take the race win but that combination was always in the realms of fantasy.

But the Kiwis would have to be looking back as much as forward with Haeger & Provancha just a point behind and JPN & FRA were just – and I mean JUST – outside the medals with 2nd to 5th covered by just 4 points (2 Medal Race places)

Other than a sail round for GBR keeping out of trouble this was potentially going to be another “I’m looking at you looking at me” type race.

After a windless day the day before there was decent breeze out on the bay with just shy of 20 kts.

At the first top mark the World ranked 7th Americans had sailed themselves into Silver Medal position by leading the race but the Kiwis were just 7 seconds back with the GBR women in 5th, as if it mattered. They just needed to keep out of trouble.

By the next mark USA had a further cushion of SLO overtaking NZL but still only 11 seconds to the good, 1 bad tack or tactical wrong call could swing it all back. GBR had slipped to 9th but their job was effectively done in the series races.

The second upwind spun it all round with the American’s having a nightmare dropping from 1st to 6th but only 4 seconds behind the boat that really mattered, the Kiwis, with just the downwind and the short leg to the finish it was all on an as the Netherlands and Japanese could also sneak in and spoil the party. Agonisingly, by the bottom mark USA had slipped to last as a result of a penalty turn and out of the medals at 7th overall. The silver went to Jo Aleh & Polly Powrie (NZL), going some way to justify their pre-event billing with the podium completed by world ranked No 2, Lecointre & Defrance (FRA)

A real up and down race, perhaps a taste of things to come.

Over in the Men’s 470 Medal Race the Gold also looked pretty secure. Greece had to win with Croatia in 6th or worse to pinch the top spot.

Also in the mix were the Australians but for them, they had to win with the Croatians back in 7th. Croatia just had to stay out of trouble and within 5 of Croatia and 6 of the Aussies. In effect it was more Fantela & Marenic’s (CRO) race to lose than anything else. Do they try and stay in touch with TWO boats or just sail as they had during the whole event as the above losing combination had not happened to them the whole regatta – decisions, decisions. And then what do the other two boats do with each other? Plenty midnight oil burned by their coach no doubt.

Bang went the gun and it was clear that AUS & GRE saw each other as the main threat as the 3 protagonists came off the line together. As GRE and AUS paid close attention to each other this gave CRO the opportunity to gradually edge away to secure their gold although the action was down near the rear. Easy to miss that SUI was leading with USA in second. Up the second, and final beat the Aussies covered the Greeks every move turning the medal race into a match race with just Appendix C missing. At the second top mark Will Ryan made an expensive and uncharacteristic mistake by falling out of the boat – not fast – allowing the Greeks to sail past to round the top mark 3 seconds ahead. Downwind the battle continued with AUS getting 2 seconds in front at the penultimate mark and it was all over.

So Fantela & Marenic (CRO) win Gold, sealing Rio as easily Croatia’s best ever Olympic Regatta. The silver of Belcher & Ryan (AUS) conformed their number 2 spot in the World Sailing ranking while mantis & Kagialis (GRE) finished in bronze just one slot higher than their world rank. While not winning a medal, Mcnay & Hughes (USA) will be pleased to be up there in the mix which might help to quieten the criticism of US Sailing a little – but probably not.

That left us with just 15 minutes or so to grab a coffee before the next 2 boat race.

Sorry, but in the 49er Burling & Tuke (NZL) were a class apart and 34 points clear. Biggest question burning in my mind was would they go for a tootle round or try and blitz everyone and enjoy the moment. Behind them there were two boats fairly comfortable for a medal (AUS & GER) and just 1(GBR) which could spoil their party. The rest, really, were (mathematically) just in the way. Sorry but that’s how it lined up.

As expected GER and AUS headed up the first beat locked together. Rounding the top mark, AUS had the boat in between they wanted, but not the one I wanted, it was GBR ha ha! While at the front it was those Kiwis again looking like they wanted to finish their regatta in style.

At the bottom mark there was no change in the front half of the fleet but down the back AUS were quietly chipping away by putting the Poles in the way as well as the Brits. Another lap in and it was looking pretty secure for the Australians while GBR went for a swim (it wasn’t that windy) while up front the Kiwis were doing a horizon job finishing just 1 minute after last placed GER rounded the previous mark.

Quite staggeringly the gold medal was won with less than half the points of the silver Burling & Tuke (NZL) 35 while in silver Outteridge & Jensen (AUS) on 78 with Heil & Ploessel (GER) a further 5 points back.

The final Medal Race of the regatta was quite a prospect. Just like the Laser Radial off the Nothe 4 years ago, the finishing order between the top 4 teams would be the gold/silver/bronze and leather  positions. ESP, BRA, DEN & NZL the four teams in the mix. Could the Spanish emulate Iker & Xabi from a few Olympics back, could the Brazilian helm outdo her famous dad and go one better in medal colour. Denmark also had history to emulate if you remember the dramatic 49er medal race off Qingdao – for me one of the greatest examples of Olympic sailing sportsmanship ever – or would the Kiwis produce a double alongside Burling & Tuke. If the men were anything to go by, it would only take a little over 20 minutes to find out.

Off the line it was the two southern hemisphere boats that got the best of it with a Kiwi double on the cards but Torben’s daughter was right with them both heading right but like London 2012 it was the four for the medals that led the fleet.

Up the first beat the lead see-sawed between the Brazilians and the New Zealanders with the Kiwis rounding second with the home team just seven seconds back. The Danes followed just 2 seconds later with the Spanish back in 8th place. NZL extended on the run, DEN hung on to BRA and the Spanish already looked like being out of the medals altogether.

Up the second beat the two leaders (for medals) split right and left – as if those of us watching didn’t have enough excitement going on and when they came back to the top mark NZL still had it with BRA having halved the gap and DEN in bronze.

Down the 2nd run they closed even further to 6 seconds rounded the mark and promptly split again while the battle for bronze had heated up with ESP now just 4 seconds behind DEN. As the two leaders came to the cross BRA was ahead and rounded the top mark for the last time in the lead by 10 seconds.

It was all on down the final leg with NZL only just behind, a match race to the finish with Martin Grael, along with her crew Kahena Kunze going one better than her father, Torben with an Olympic Gold Medal for Brazil, the fourth for the Host Country and Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech just failing to propel New Zealand to joint medal top spot in the regatta. And let’s not forget the other battle which was won by Jena Mai Hansen & Katja Salskov-Iversen of Denmark.

A fitting finale to the Rio Olympic Sailing Regatta.

Wrap up later today, time to catch up on my sleep. Its 0250 here in Shanghai

See ya on the water

Shanghai Sailor

 

August 18th, 2016

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We don’t know which ass-kissing fluffer wrote this ridiculous waste of time, but we sure like the strong grammatical paragraph it starts with. And the content is even better. And by better me mean worse…

Our sport doesn’t have that many celebratory moment. Sure, we have major championships, and the victors congratulated by their peers, but their feats lost on the general public.

Read on and bask in this self-conscious attempt at creative writing….

 

August 18th, 2016

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Annie Haeger and Bri Provencha have been at or near the top of the 470 class for the past couple of years, but when it mattered most, their race and the final shot at the US team’s second medal fell to bits. Leading the medal race for the first two marks and looking like a lock for the silver (GBR’s Clark and Saskia-Mills clinched before the final race), the American duo got strung out on the right by eventual silver medalist New Zealand and then sailed a horrible final run, culminating with a foul on Japan and a 360 when they could least afford it, sailing the entire reach to the finish without their kite and catching a DFL for the race.

The NBC feed caught Annie racked with sobs as she sailed through the line, but we hope she takes the lesson to heart and uses the adversity to power her improvement for the next time like all true champions.  We still think Annie is probably the most likely of all the US team to come back in Tokyo and win her class.  She’ll need to if the US Team is to prove their plan; the team’s better-than-the-London-debacle-but-still-weak performance can only be accepted if it is truly a stepping stone to the US team’s return to dominance in 2020, as we’ve been told by US Sailing Team staff, coaches, and athletes for the past couple of years.  If there’s one thing Tokyo guarantees, it’s fewer distractions for the sailors.

You can watch the full replay on NBC over here; just wind back the player to the beginning if it’s already on the Men’s 470 (which the US can’t medal in).  Screenshot from the world feed.

 

August 18th, 2016

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