Please select your home edition
Doyle Sails 2020 - Built for Adventure 728x90 TOP

Reflections on a life afloat: Some impressive light-air driving - USA Newsletter


Reflections on a life afloat: Some impressive light-air driving

Zhik 2020 AnneMarieRindom LEADERBOARD

RS Sailing 2019 - Leaderboard

Racecourse action during the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race - photo © Images courtesy of Craig Davis

Dear Recipient Name

This past weekend, my wife and I escaped our domicile with our dog for a still-sanctioned walk amid the rapidly-unfurling novel coronavirus pandemic. While the sun was shining (rare in Washington State), the afternoon temps were warm (ditto first parenthetical comment), and the spring flowers were blooming, my attention kept getting drawn to the light zephyrs that were playing out on Puget Sound. And this, of course, made me think back on some of the most impressive light-air driving that I've ever seen from a Corinthian-level big-boat sailor.

The 2005 Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race started as a relatively light, off-the-breeze ride that saw Southern Cross, my dad's J/44, flying a gennaker off of her spinnaker pole. We soon traded the kite for our J1, occasionally jumping to the J2 or J3 as we sailed through small squalls pregnant with pockets of breeze over the next several days. While I have great memories of some night-fight driving sessions, locking onto stars for guidance, the most impressive bits of sailing unfurled during our race's final miles.

Brothers "Peter" and "Dan" (the names of the guilty have been changed to feign their innocence) were seasoned offshore sailors who were quick with much-appreciated salty humor and with impressive sailing skills earned through many Bermuda Races aboard various monohulls. And while both sailors fell in nicely with the rest of our crew, it was obvious that they were a team-within-a-team that could be counted on to perform when things got serious.

Aquaventures 2020 - MOB - 600x500 v2   Marskeel 2019 600x500

Racecourse action during the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race - photo © Images courtesy of Craig Davis
Racecourse action during the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race - photo © Images courtesy of Craig Davis

And serious it became as we were sailing uphill in light airs during the final afternoon-to-evening off of the Chebucto Peninsula. We could see a mast ahead, but it was unclear if the boat was bigger than our 44 feet of waterline or if it was a smaller ride that had somehow gotten ahead of us during the preceding several hundred miles of racing. Regardless, our crew, led by Peter and Dan, engaged and gave chase.

Trouble is, J/44s are sticky in the light stuff. The boat's designer, Rod Johnstone, once told me that they fail the six-knot test (namely, if one empties a beer can and then jettisons it overboard, the J/44 will not be able to sail away from the flotsam in less than six knots of air). Worse still, the anemometer was reporting metrics that were persistently between five and eight knots, with the mean edging towards the thinner side of this spectrum.

This didn't stop Peter and Dan.

Instead of succumbing to the reality that the other boat seemed to be the quicker whip in thin airs, Peter settled into driving duties using his feet to grip the boat's destroyer-style wheel - so as to eliminate any unnecessary helm movement - while Dan sat a few feet away (ah, the for the days before social distancing), manning the traveler and mainsheet.

Sailmon MAX   RS Sailing 2019 - MPU

Racecourse action during the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race - photo © Images courtesy of Craig Davis
Racecourse action during the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race - photo © Images courtesy of Craig Davis

Conversation, which had been light and jovial, dissolved, and focus became the defining operating mode. Perhaps it was the bond of brotherhood forged with an extra layer of having spent thousands of miles sailing offshore together, but Peter and Dan quickly entered a non-verbal communication mode where the sheet would ease in exact unison with the wheel's movements.

Slowly, Southern Cross's fun-meter started reporting better metrics. A half-hour later it was obvious that sticking with our typical 30-minute driving rotation schedule would mean abandoning all the hard work and great results that the brothers were delivering. After two hours I began to wonder how much concentration Peter could muster, only to discover that this well was far deeper than I ever imagined.

Focus eventually gave way to momentary bits of frustration as the tell tales went slack, but that's when Peter, a non-smoker, called for the Camels. Against my dad's longstanding rule about cigarette smoking anywhere near his boat, Dan produced a pack of smokes and a lighter. The brothers took turns lighting up and mouthing smoke, which they slowly released as a three-dimension tell tale of sorts (and possibly as a small nicotine high, but we'll leave that part buried in the proverbial sea chest). While I was skeptical at first, Peter made darn good use out of the smoke by making incremental helm adjustments that saw us linking small zephyrs.

Impressively, the other rig, which was now punctuated by its tricolor in the fading evening light, started looking larger and larger.

Hyde Sails 2017 March 300x250   Predictwind - Iridium 250

Racecourse action during the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race - photo © Images courtesy of Craig Davis
Racecourse action during the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race - photo © Images courtesy of Craig Davis

We eventually made the turn by Sambro Channel, our bow now aimed at Halifax and the finishing line of this classic 363-nautical-mile offshore contest, the other boat just off of our hip. One minute they would be the lead dog, the next minute they would be hunting our miniscule lead. Neither crew backed off a bit, and while our crew was silent as we moved bodies around the deck to help keep the hull properly trimmed, a testy moment came when Dan handed Peter the last cigarette. Yes, the finishing line was now within Frisbee range, but - given the dwindling airs - I had a bad feeling that our committed crew efforts could dissolve if our Popeye downed his last can of spinach.

This thinking was clearly not lost on Peter, who lit his final smoke and proceeded to somehow coax an extra quarter of a knot out of Southern Cross. The finishing gun sounded as our crew exchanged high-fives: We had somehow beaten a brand-new J/133 in conditions that were far more suited to her polars than to ours.

To this day, when I think of light-air battles and of the power of intense concentration, not to mention non-verbal onboard communication, I remember this fight and two brothers - and their buddy Joe Camel - who simply refused to give up, irrespective of the fact that ours was the slower horse for those particular racecourse conditions.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt North American Editor

upffront 2018 Generic 300x250   Vaikobi 2019AUG - MPU 1

Inside Melges: The April Issue
Congratulations to Drew Freides and Bill Ruh's Pacific Yankee on winning the inaugural Melges IC37 Winter Series hosted by Lauderdale Yacht Club.

Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image 2020 launched
The international photography award dedicated to competitive sailing is proud to announce the launch of its eleventh edition.

Not the Rolex China Sea Race 2020
Today we should be reporting from the start of the 30th Rolex China Sea Race. We should be angling for a good camera position at the outer end of the line, with the RHKYC at the other end, but...

Zhik 2020 AnneMarieRindom MPU   Gul 2020 Tri-Laminate Spraytop MPU
America's Cup: Favorite Moments - Dean Barker - Final Race 2000 Match
Dean Barker is now on his sixth America's Cup campaign and was part of the America's Cup winning 2000 team skippered by Russell Coutts, and skippering the trial horse all through that campaign. Here's his favorite moment of the campaign.

Repairing a DN Ice Yacht for sailing on Lake Fenton, Michigan, USA
Gregg Bugala from Michigan, USA has been the first to contact us with a craft not intended for water. He is in no rush to complete his repairs, since Lake Fenton will not freeze over for several months yet!

North Sails named Official Sail Supplier to The Ocean Race
North Sails is honored to be selected as the official one design sail supplier to The Ocean Race 2021-22. Known as the most grueling offshore team race, the Ocean Race has attracted the most skilled sailors and competitive teams since 1973.

Melges 14 2019 MPU   Selden XPS
Storm Trysail Club's 75th Block Island Race rescheduled
Storm Trysail Club has been monitoring conditions since our last communication about the 75th Block Island Race. At this time we have decided to postpone the start from May 22nd to Friday, June 19.

Marine Auctions April Online Auction and News
Please find details of our April Online Auction below which includes Boats, Freehold Marina Berths, Freehold Moor and Stores and an unreserved leasehold Marina Berth, all located in South East Queensland.

505 World Championship 2020 in Sweden cancelled
The International 5O5 Class has been the latest to cancel the 2020 World Championship. Class President Michel Quirk said "We are in challenging but temporary times."

Henri-Lloyd 2020 MPU   Rooster GETSEASMART 300x250
America's Cup: Ainslie explains spectacular splashdown
On February 1,in Cagliari, Sardinia, INEOS Team UK's Britannia performed a series of spectacular manoeuvres, before spinning out - all captured on video from the chase boat. Britannia's helmsman, Ben Ainslie talks through the incident

America's Cup: INEOS Team UK looking for a Boarding Pass for Auckland
It has been a tumultuous month for Sir Ben Ainslie's INEOS Team UK, just 12 months out from the 2021 America's Cup, winning the SailGP Sydney before having a planned three month training session in Sardinia foreshortened by the coronavirus.

2020 J/70 World Championship postponed to August 2021
The International J/70 Class Association has been closely monitoring the worldwide developments in the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 2, Int'l J/70 Executive Committee met specifically in regard to the upcoming World Championship to be held July 25-August 1.

Barton Marine 2019 600x500   North Sails 2019 - Helix Top-Down Furling 600x500
New start date set for MailASail 2021 OSTAR TWOSTAR
The Royal Western Yacht Club of England announce the rescheduling of their MailASail OSTAR TWOSTAR that was postponed in 2020 due to the Covid 19 virus, to a new date of 9th May 2021.

Home-building something that is pointy at both ends
Andy Ford shares a boat-building process which began with a very complicated brief. It seems he wanted three or maybe four boats, but felt he should build just one hull...

Magical Splicing Toolkit Mastery!
The Rooster® Splicing Tool-Kit Combo Deal. The magical bag loaded up to tackle and organise your small boat splicing life. Built in needle cushion, slots for your fids, scissors, palm, twine & tape. Complete the kit with a gas torch and you're away.

Official-Event-Store-Navy 300x250   SOUTHERNSPARS_MAST-&-BOOMS_SW_300X250-AGLAIA
Where there's a will there's a way
If there's one thing that the past fortnight has proved, it's that sailors are a resourceful bunch. The vast majority of the sailing world can't get out on the water, but it certainly doesn't mean we're idle.

Garage finds: Have you found some hidden gems during a lock-down spring-clean?
With many of us staying at home during the lock-down, perhaps working less - finding there is a little more time to be used - it seems thoughts are turning to spring cleaning.

Postponement of World Sailing's General Assembly to be discussed by Board
The well connected online Olympic news website reports that The Board of World Sailing are to meet on Monday April 6, to discuss the postponement of the 2020 Annual Conference and General Assembly

KZRaceFurlers   Mackay 250
The Ultimate Virtual Tour of Herreshoff Marine Museum - Part 2
This week, we're heading to HMM's version of Capt. Nat's workshop. You can learn about the variety of tools and methods used to make all of those wonderful half-models and then to turn them into world-class boats, both power and sail.

North Sails Cruising Sailors Tool Kit, Talk Moths With Tom Slingsby, Upcoming Webinars
Our experts have created a variety of articles to help you gain confidence for your next getaway. Let's plan your summer adventure together.

Restoring a very early wooden OK dinghy
Our series of ebay restorations continues, but this time only £50 was spent, or was that actually £0? Rob Efans tells us the story...

ETNZShop-Merch-300x250   Sydney to Auckland 2021 - MPU
Sailors in lockdown - reflections of an Olympic medalist and Coach
Luca Devoti, the larger than life Finn Olympic medalist, coach, boat builder and writer shares his thoughts on the Lockdown and how it has affected him and the people in his bubbles.

Kinsale Dragons still planning for the Gold Cup
Kinsale Yacht Club (KYC) and the International Dragon Association (IDA) have confirmed that planning for the 2020 Dragon Gold Cup, to be raced off Kinsale from 5 to 11 September, is still progressing as normal at the current time.

America's Cup: Grinding the way through the lockdown
Staying on the grind! The sailors are at home but they are still training. INEOS Team UK grinder Graeme Spence shows how he stays on top of his fitness regime with a homemade grinding machine.

Protector - 300x250   C-Tech Emirates TNZ 250
America's Cup: How do you build a flying boat - Video
While almost half the world is in lockdown, the team at Luna Rossa Challenge want to do what they can to keep audiences engaged and share some of the stories behind the team.

Hugo Boss completes keel repairs and is ready for launch
Just a few days before the UK went into COVID-19 lockdown, the Hugo Boss IMOCA 60 was ready to exit the shed. The team had completed the significant job of rebuilding their keel area, after striking a UFO and jettisoning their keel during the 2019 TJV

The Whitbread Round the World Race 1981-82 Official Film
Conny van Rietschoten returned to the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1981-82 determined not just to defend his title but to win both line honours on every leg, and the overall race on handicap.

52 Super Series sailors and crew doing their bit for the fight
Sailors and shore crew from the wider 52 Super Series family are putting their skills - and in many cases their hardware - to good use helping support the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Top of Tech - New York Yacht Club's American Magic
"It's the people behind the sailors, the people behind the tech, the people behind the design team. Anything that can make the boat faster is a go."

Time to Look at that Project List
With a little bit of extra time on our hands, we're looking at simple ways to improve our boats and campaigns. We put together a list of standard features and options available on all new Melges 24s.

Best drone shots from The Ocean Race!
Sit back, relax and enjoy 10 minutes of incredible drone shots from the toughest test of a team in sport – The Ocean Race!

Self-isolation hacks from offshore sailing
Sailors are uniquely qualified to talk about extended periods of isolation and our very own team member Amory Ross gave us his list of key things to keep the mind and body in balance during times of confinement whether at home or out on the water.

Melges IC37 2019 Footer

Vaikobi 2019AUG - Footer 3

This email was sent to the.recipients@email.address by YY Online Services Ltd.
Towngate House, 2-8 Parkstone Road, Poole, BH15 2PW
Registered in England No. 7895890

Our records show that you signed up to receive news from us on 1 January 2000

Please do not reply to this message as this address cannot receive replies.

You can unsubscribe at any time or email us here if you encounter any difficulties
Henri-Lloyd 2021 M-PRO PURE BLACK - FOOTERSea Sure 2021 - Transom Fittings - FOOTERSelden 2020 - FOOTER