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Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Memorial Day racing, TOR Summit Stockholm, Vendée Arctic

by David Schmidt 24 May 08:00 PDT May 24, 2022
Joy Ride on the starting line of the 2018 Swiftsure Race © Image courtesy of John Murkowski / Joy Ride Collection

At the risk of sounding overly optimistic, this is a great time to be a sailor in North America. Days are still waxing light, Memorial Day races are in the front window, as are the Newport Bermuda Race and other classic distance races, and the regatta calendar is full of great events. Yes, the real world may seem hell bent on a course that doesn't make a whole lot of sense at times, but, at least for the next few months, we sailors can enjoy the fact that summer hasn't even started, and great things lie on the horizon.

A quick glance at the calendar reinforces this thesis: This weekend marks the 2022 editions of the Figawi Race, the Block Island Race, and the Swiftsure International Yacht Race, not to mention many smaller regional regattas that are the beating heart of our sport.

While the point of Memorial Day is to remember and honor the bravery and sacrifice of so many soldiers and service people over the rich (almost) 246-year history of our great nation, I think it's also fitting to say an extra thank you to all of the volunteers and yacht club staff who work hard to make racing over this three-day weekend (not to mention the rest of the season) a year-on-year possibility for so many of us.

(N.B., July 1st is Canada Day, which is when our good friends north of the border commemorate the sacrifice of their national heroes.)

And while it's important to remember those who defended our nation from external forces during times of conflict, it's also important to recognize the work being done to help safeguard our future.

The Southern Ocean may be the place of dreams for many sailors, and it's likely a place that most landlubbers have never heard about, but the sad reality is that the effects of climate change are unfurling faster at the poles than they are at the equator.

June 1, 2022 will mark the start of "The Ocean Race Summit Stockholm - Racing to protect the Southern Ocean", which The Ocean Race is holding in collaboration with Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition and 11th Hour Racing. The goal is to help showcase the outsized role that the Southern Ocean plays in maintaining planetary health, and to pull in an expert panel that can help call attention to actions that can be taken to help protect this vulnerable environment.

Moreover, the conference also hopes to help create the kind of critical mass needed to see the proposed (and large-scale) marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean become a reality.

The United Nations is hosting an associated event, called the Stockholm+50 conference, which will commemorate the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, and which will look for ways that humanity can accelerate our goals for meeting the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

"The Southern Ocean is one of the most extreme parts of the planet, earning the respect of sailors and providing a source of fascination for generations," said Richard Brisius, Race Chairman of The Ocean Race. "These are not only the ultimate sailing waters, they also help keep our planet healthy, but they are under immense pressure from human activity. Our summit will explore why action is critical and how Sweden has a unique opportunity to drive it. The country can be a leader on the world stage by gathering support and pushing for protection at one of this year's most crucial conferences about the environment, Stockholm+50."

Sail-World hopes that both of these conferences help deliver the kind of traction needed to ensure that the Southern Ocean stays wild, naturally resilient, biologically diverse, and cold. (This is to say nothing about microplastics, of course, or the resto of our lonely little planet.)

Speaking of places cold and wild, 25 skippers are aiming to be on the starting line of the Vendée Arctic - Les Sables d'Olonne, which is set to begin on June 12 on the waters off of Les Sables d'Olonne, France. The 3,500 nautical mile course will take skippers past the UK and Ireland before sailing around the Iceland's north shores, then back south to the Les Sables d'Olonne finishing line. The event is being billed as a "race of discovery" and will feature skippers from ten different nations.

Fourteen of the 25 IMOCA 60s will be foilers, while the other 11 will employ straight daggerboards. As with the bigger Vendee Globe, it will be interesting to see which technology—lifting hydrofoils or daggerboards—proves to be more resilient (and vis-à-vis faster) in the wilds of the Artic Circle.

Sail-World extends our thoughts and respect to all Americans (and their families) who have sacrificed for our country, and we quietly keep a candle lit that the world will find a way back towards a path of peace and environmental stewardship.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

Department of Corrections, May 25, 2022: It has come to my attention that I made a mistake when I refereed to Canada Day (1 July) as the national holiday when Canadians remember their countrymen who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. While this was written with respect, Canada Day is akin to the American 4th of July holiday, while Remembrance Day (11 November) is akin to Memorial Day. I apologize for this mistake, and I thank reader Greg Dargavel for educating me on this error.

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