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Learning The Painful Way—Sailing News from the U.S. and Beyond


By far, the biggest sailing news of the North American summer has been the tragic deaths of Mark Morley and Suzanne Bickel during the Chicago Yacht Club's 2011 Race to Mackinac. Winds possibly exceeding 100 knots lashed the racing fleet on July 17 at roughly 2300 hours, EST, as lighting pulsated through the pitch-black air and torrential rain fire-hosed sailors.

During this melee, Morley's WingNuts, a Kiwi 35, capsized. Six sailors were rescued by Sociable, but, horrifically, Morley and Bickel were lost.

In the wake of this disaster, Joseph S. Haas, Commodore of the Chicago Yacht Club (CYC) has asked US SAILING to conduct an independent investigation of the events that occurred during this fateful storm.

On July 28, Gary Jobson, President of US SAILING, announced that a panel of world-class offshore sailors who are also heavily involved with US SAILING's Safety At Sea seminars would execute this investigation. This panel is comprised of Chuck Hawley, Sheila McCurdy, Ralph Naranjo, and John Rousmaniere. According to the CYC's recent press release, the independent panel will present its findings to US SAILING and the CYC in mid-to-late October.

Commodore Haas demonstrated excellent leadership during this crisis and quickly asked US SAILING to launch this independent investigation.

While never easy, positives can (eventually) come from awful situations such as this one. For example, following the disastrous 1979 Fastnet and the 1998 Sydney Hobart Race and its sub-sequential coronial inquiry, best-practice standards for long distance racing have been improved worldwide. It seems likely that US SAILING's independent investigation will bring more improvements.

While these are the first sailing-related deaths to have taken place during the Race to Mackinac's proud 103-year history, it's important to recognize that weather patterns the world over seem to be intensifying with climate change.

Certainly the high-90s heat wave that was washing over the Midwest at the time of the tragedy compounded the storm's already-terrible power, but freshwater sailors and race organizers worldwide must now be prepared to encounter beyond-hurricane-force winds such as the supercell-cum-meteorological juggernaut that rolled this fleet.

Stay tuned for more about US SAILING's report, as it becomes known.

Ryan DeVos, Volpe - Melges 32 North American Championship 2011  © 2010 JOY /International Melges 32 Class Association

Meanwhile, on sailing's global stage, this week promises to be an exciting one. The Melges 32 North Americans are currently playing out, as are the Laser 4.7 Worlds. In Olympic circles, The Weymouth and Portland International Regatta began yesterday and will continue through August 13. Look for plenty of great media from this event, as it unfolds.

And lest Cup Junkies feel omitted, the first stop on the America's Cup World Series begins on August 6 in Cascais, Portugal. Stay tuned.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt, Sail-World U.S.Editor




Chicago Yacht Club asks US SAILING to review Mackinac 2011
Chicago Yacht Club,
After two sailors' lives were lost during the recent Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, Commodore Joseph Haas of the Chicago Yacht Club, the race's organizer, asked US SAILING to conduct an independent study of what happened. On July 28 Gary Jobson, the President of US SAILING, appointed the Independent Review Panel for the 2011 Mackinac Race, and directed it to consider what lessons might... [more]
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Governor's Cup International Junior Match Racing Championship video
Nancy Mellon,
Balboa Yacht Club's 45th annual Governor's Cup International Junior Match Racing Championship, held July 19 to 24, 2011, was the closest competition in recent memory. Two US teams battled it out for the win.... [more]
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Chicago Mackinac 20111 - Jugband - the race of a lifetime
Sean Palizza,
The 103rd Race to Mackinac will forever stand in my memory as one of the greatest times I have ever had on the water. Being implanted and in many ways adopted by the rag-tag crew of Jugband, I was able to witness the drive, dedication and constant second-guessing that goes into off-shore racing. And was lucky enough to also witness the sheer bliss and moments of ineffable gratitude that accompany... [more]
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PWA Sotavento Fuerteventura Grand Slam day 9 - Spectacular crashes
Ed Sinclair,
Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam. Picking up the race where we left off yesterday, round two of the elimination saw the hottest sailors of the day on fine form. Jules Denel (Exocet), Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun / Dakine) and Buzianis were all caught out by the testing conditions and went down in huge individual crashes.... [more]
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Melges 32 North American Championship title decided
Joy Dunigan,
The Melges 32 North American Championship's winner has now been decided in Newport, Rhode Island. Teams traveled out to the course around 10.30 after a short on land postponement. On the water, they sat around for a little more than two hours before the raceable breeze finally decided to make an appearance.... [more]
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Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - A spectacular send off
Heather Ewing,
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is the world's longest ocean race at 40,000 miles. It is the first time since 2004 that a round the world yacht race has started from the iconic sailing grounds of the Solent and the large community of sailing and boating enthusiasts turned out in force to witness the spectacle under blue skies and eight to ten knots of breeze.... [more]
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America's Cup: New TV graphics will be a sporting first
Bernie Wilson, AP,
The yellow first-down line that has become a staple of football broadcasts is coming to the America's Cup. Thanks to improved graphics, viewers sitting in front of their TVs or computer screens will easily be able to tell which boat is ahead, see the line the boats will use as a final guide into the next turning mark and know when the fast 45-foot catamarans are within a certain number of boat... [more]
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Laser 4.7 World Championships day 3 - Pin end crowd
Paige Brooks,
While the girls start their second race, a gun at the club goes off indicating it's time for the 112 boys to get their boats from the lawn, down the drive, to the ramp, and off the dock before the girls come in. The boys' yellow and blue fleets started on time at 1400 today; after a recall, the races started under black flag.... [more]
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Finn Silver Cup - Arkadiy Kistanov maintains lead to win
Robert Deaves,
Leading from the first race to the end, Arkadiy Kistanov (RUS) kept his head on the final day of the Finn Silver Cup in Moscow to win the Junior World Championship after three more races were sailed. Milosz Wojewski (POL) had a great last day to climb to second overall, while team mate Artur Ponieczynski (POL) dropped one place to take third overall.... [more]
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OK Dinghy World Championship to Nick Craig
Mary Reddyhoff,
OK Dinghy World Championships 2011's final day had the sailors awaking to find that the sun had returned and the temperatures were rising but that there was very little breeze. As the morning went on with little change in the conditions, some competitors started to pack up.... [more]
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America's Cup: First preview program released online - View here!
Sail-World,
The first of a weekly series of programs to be produced for the 34th America's Cup is now online and available for viewing In this edition there is a review of some of the major milestones that have occurred so far in the 34th America's Cup, a look at the atmosphere generated by the last home-town Cup - the 31st America's Cup in Auckland, plus a quick look at Cascais, Portugal... [more]
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PWA Fuerteventura World Cup day 8 hammers the elite
PWA,
PWA Fuerteventura World Cup day eight set off with 40 knots of wind hammering Sotavento beach. Full throttle slalom between the marks, dangerous gybes, explosive crashes and insane aerials, the third day of racing had it all. The spectators on the beach were treated to an exciting show and mind-blowing display of slalom talent as the world's finest racers did battle in the crazy conditions.... [more]
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Laser 4.7 Worlds on San Francisco Bay - More images by Erik Simonson
Erik Simonson images,
The Laser 4.7 Worlds are underway on San Francisco Bay. More action images by Erik Simonson.... [more]
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Laser 4.7 Worlds images by Erik Simonson
Erik Simonson images,
The Laser 4.7 Worlds are underway on San Francisco Bay and photographer Erik Simonson presents these images from the days action.... [more]
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PWA Fuerteventura World Cup day 7 - Wind fuelled slalom
Ed Sinclair,
At the PWA Sotavento Fuerteventura World Cup on day 7 winds blowing around 15-20 knots powered the sailors seamlessly through the second elimination of the competition; however it wasn't without its upsets.... [more]
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Jessica Uniack Beach to Bay Race at Long Beach YC
Rick Roberts,
The Jessica Uniack Beach to Bay Race 2011 hosted by the Alamitos Bay Fleet of Long Beach, has come to a close at Long Beach Yacht Club. The event which is now part of the Long Beach Sea Festival, featured 156 sailors ranging from age six to fifteen sailing 146 boats in various classes.... [more]
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ISAF Team Racing World Championships preparations underway
Tim O'Connor,
ISAF Team Racing World Championships organising committee have confirmed tremendous interest in the event. The prestigious sailing event will be held in the West Cork village for the first time and a warm welcome is assured for the competing teams, supporters and general public.... [more]
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PWA Grand Slam Sotavento Fuerteventura day 6 highs and lows
Ed Sinclair,
The opening round of slalom was filled with highs and lows. Disaster struck for Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) and Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun / Dakine) in their opening races. By the semi-finals the sailors were really fired up and willing to work hard for their place in the winner's final.... [more]
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Contender Worlds 2011 a success
Duncan Ellis,
The 2011 Contender Worlds, over the week of the 18th to 22nd July, attracted a near record entry of 144 sailors from 12 countries to the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.... [more]
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Over 50 participants in the US Junior Sailing Championships - Area E
Katie Nicoll,
Over fifty participants in the US Junior Sailing Championships - Area E held at Youngstown Yacht Club just outside the mouth of the Niagara River with Radials, 420s, and J/22s. Winds topped over 20 knots on Saturday with huge waves, which made the 5 races a test of endurance on the young sailors. Sunday brought very light winds and the left over swell from the day before.... [more]
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St Moritz Match Race – French duo still capable of victory + Video
World Match Racing Tour,
St Moritz Match Race - France can still win its first match racing world title in 17 years, according to the country's elite performance coach. Marc Bouet, coach to the French Match Racing Team duo of Mathieu Richard and Damien Iehl, said the pair are still capable of victory in the World Match Racing Tour, the world's premier match racing series.... [more]
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Energy Team: 10 days to start of America's Cup World Series
Energy Team,
The French challenger for the 34th America's Cup, ENERGY TEAM has its base set up just ten miles from Cascais, near the Belem Tower at the entrance to the Tage, close to the Vasco da Gama Bridge. The team led by Loïck and Bruno Peyron has been in possession of their AC45 since 20th July and have been out training each day preparing for the first leg of the AC World Series... [more]
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International Lightning Class Association World Championship day 4
Laura Jeffers,
On day four of the International Lightning Class Association World Championship, only one race was completed. This put the regatta back on schedule due to the high winds and seas that delayed racing on Monday afternoon. Strong winds of 20+ kts and seas initially postponed racing this morning but then subsided by mid morning.... [more]
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Rozalia Project Trash Tour
James Lyne,
Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean wraps up action/education phase of Trash Tour 2011 of the New England coast. The first phase of Rozalia Project's Trash Tour 2011 onboard the sailing research vessel American Promise, was focused on marine debris removal and education.... [more]
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ISAF World Sailing Rankings 27th July
International Sailing Federation,
The ISAF World Sailing Rankings for 27 July 2011 have been released. The next release of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings will be on 5 October and will include the RS:X European Championship in Bulgaria and the Star Europeans in Ireland.... [more]
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