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Archive for category sailing

Astonishing America’s Cup Comeback

the Oracle catamaran that came back from behind

the Oracle catamaran that came back from behind

At least 30 years ago I hitchhiked a ride on the Coast Guard’s press boat to watch an America’s Cup race at Newport. Just showed my business card that stated I was a publisher. I didn’t really follow the races much until this year, when I became obsessed with the American team’s unbelievable comeback.

The USA/Oracle boat was down 1-8. The team had actually won three races, but it was penalized two wins for something illegal done by a crew member that the skipper and owners supposedly didn’t know about. Lose that team member…New Zealand needed just one more victory to reach the magic number of nine wins, and it could take the cup home.

By making adjustments to its boat, changing the on-board tactician and never giving up, America won the next three races. At 4-8 I bumped into the contest and was hooked. I followed it like a fanatic.

In the old days, you couldn’t see much from the shore and the TV broadcasts were either nonexistent or dismal events. People used to say watching a race was like watching grass grow. But these days there are on-board cameras and microphones, astonishing computer graphics, helicopter views. It’s thrilling.

Little by little, race by race, the Oracle team kept winning, and eventually it was a tie game. Guess who won?

You can see the first 18 races at this link. The 19th and final race is right here. Even if you are not a fan of these huge and unbelievably fast boats (50 mph), you should glimpse at what the coverage looks like these days.

riding the foils

riding the foils

And the boats are unlike anything from the old days. See the video above. They are catamarans that rise up out of the water and ride on ski-like runners called hydrofoils (foils) . Crewed by 11, the AC72 catamaran is a lightweight speedster that measures in at 72 feet long by 46 feet wide and weighs 13,000 pounds. The AC72 is powered by a wing sail that stands 131 feet tall and covers 2,798 square feet in area.

The dimensions add up to an athletic yacht that’s long and light, wide and stable, and possesses incredible speed potential. When the windspeed hits 18 knots, the AC72 sails at 35 knots (40 mph).

When the boatspeed reaches 43 knots (50 mph), a speed easily achieved off the wind, the catamaran is capable of sailing its 72-foot length in a single second. By comparison, the sloops used in the 2007 America’s Cup had a top average speed of 12 knots, meaning they sailed their 80-foot length in four seconds.

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Laura Dekker Is Youngest Person To Sail Around The Globe

By age 16, I had delivered newspapers on a bicycle that I also rode one mile to school. Here is a girl who at the same age just sailed solo around the world. And she had to fight the Dutch authorities in the courts to do it. Ah me. We all lead such varied lives…Here first is the AP story:

Laura Dekker, 16, sailed into St. Maarten harbor on Saturday, January 21st, completing a 27,000 mile round-the-world voyage in a 38-foot yacht called “Guppy”. The Dutch teen broke an unofficial record set in 2010 by Australian teenager Jessica Watson. Dekker turned 16 during the trip, but she won’t garner any recognition for her groundbreaking voyage from The Guinness World Records, which doesn’t acknowledge records for “youngest” sailors. Dekker, who claims she was born on a boat and started dreaming about circumnavigating the globe when she was ten, caused a controversy amongst the Dutch government several years ago when she announced plans for her journey. Dutch officials tried to interfere, claiming she was too young, while educational authorities complained she should be in school.

Laura Dekker is just a kid...with a passion

I wrote about the start of Laura’s Voyage a year ago. Now here is the current, more detailed Guardian story by Emine Saner:

What do you do when you fulfill your life’s ambition at the age of 16? Laura Dekker, the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe single-handedly, arrived at the Caribbean island of St Maarten on Saturday to a rapturous welcome and a relieved family. While we wait to hear what does next, we celebrate her life so far.

She was born to sail

Her Dutch parents were living on a yacht in a port in New Zealand when Dekker was born and she was six when she first sailed solo. At eight, she decided her dream was to sail around the world, and, aged just 13, Dekker sailed solo from the Netherlands to England and back—a trip her father had hoped would “cure her wanderlust”, according to her website. Her mother has said “she sails like a devil”, while her grandfather says “she’s a stoic. She will keep a cool head in the most extreme of situations.”

She is good with cockroaches

She took on six-metre-high waves and extreme weather—on one occasion, heading in to the Cape of Good Hope, her storm jib (a sail used in storms) got jammed and she finally managed to take it down in the early hours of the morning. Another of her sails ripped completely during the voyage. She slept on a damp bed and lived on rice and pasta, with cookies and pancakes as an occasional treat. She dodged near-collisions with cargo ships, and worried about pirates. Not in the least squeamish, she had to rescue live flying fish that had flung themselves into her cabin, and scrub the stinking remains of decomposing squid from the deck. She survived weeks at sea with no company—except for the ants and cockroaches that had stowed away in her cabin. On top of all that, she had to do schoolwork.

She is determined

All of the above was nothing compared to the battle she faced against the Dutch authorities before she set off. Read the rest of this entry »

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14-Year-Old Dutch Girl Begins Solo World Sail

Another amazing youngster who takes on a formidable challenge:

By TOBY STERLING, Associated Press

AMSTERDAM – She’s not afraid of pirates. She’s packed plenty of school books. And she’s going to miss her family and her dog, Spot.

Fourteen-year-old Laura Dekker hopped onto her boat Wednesday and sailed off from the Netherlands hoping to become the youngest person to make a solo voyage around the world.

About 100 supporters waved as Laura and her father Dick Dekker left the southern Dutch harbor of Den Osse in her 38-foot (11.5-meter) yacht Guppy, bound for Portugal where she plans to leave her father and begin her circumnavigation attempt.

Last week, Laura won a legal battle when a court released her from the guardianship of Dutch child protection agencies. They had blocked her initial plan to depart at age 13 over fears for her safety and psychological health during the trip, which will likely take around a year.

“I can be sailing now, and that’s great!” she told reporters Wednesday, sporting a skull-emblazoned black T-shirt.

Dekker hoisted the black Jolly Roger-like flag of The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society above her red twin-masted ketch — the same image she wore on her shirt — before sailing out.

Laura, who was born on a yacht off the coast of New Zealand, has been working to counter objections to her voyage since the authorities stepped in last year. She got a bigger, sturdier boat, took courses in first aid and practiced coping with sleep deprivation. She also made at least one solo trip across the North Sea to England.

The Dutch court ruled that Laura’s preparations were adequate and it was up to her parents, who are divorced, to decide whether to let her make the attempt. Her mother, Babs Mueller, recently withdrew her opposition to the plan.

Dekker’s case has fueled a global debate over the wisdom of allowing ever-younger sailors to take on the tremendous risks of sailing the high seas alone.

If she completes the voyage, any record she claims would be unofficial and likely to be challenged. The Guinness’ World Records and the World Sailing Speed Record Council have decided they will no longer recognize records for “youngest” sailors to avoid encouraging overly optimistic youths backed by ambitious parents from seeking a world record.

In June, 16-year-old American teen Abby Sunderland had to be rescued in a remote section of the Indian Ocean during an attempt to circle the globe. A huge wave snapped her mast and left her helpless until she was eventually rescued by a French fishing boat more than 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) west of Australia.

Her parents were sharply criticized for allowing her to undertake the trip — a complete turnaround from the praise the family had basked in a year earlier when Abby’s older brother Zac successfully captured the world record for youngest solo circumnavigator at age 17.

Three months ago, Australian Jessica Watson, completed a 210-day voyage on her 34-foot (10-meter) yacht, Ella’s Pink Lady, around the world at age 16.

But while Watson remained at sea nonstop, Laura plans to stop at dozens of ports along the way to meet her family, rest, stock up and make boat repairs. She hasn’t ruled out returning home to catch up on her studies if necessary before resuming her trip.

Laura conceded her trip “is a little bit different as the old ones, because they do it nonstop and I will do with stops.”

Asked whether she was afraid of pirates in the Gulf of Aden, she said no, she expected to travel in a protected convoy through that area.

“Most people say it is a big problem, but there are so many yachts that will get in this water, and then we will sail all together,” she said.

Although she appeared to be living the dream of every teen — to escape the parents — Laura knew there would be some things she would miss in her months at sea.

“My dog. My family,” she said in response to a reporter’s question.

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Abby Is Alive, Located And Rescued

Abby Sunderland in happier, warmer days

After 20 hours of silence, contact was made again, and help is on the way. The boat’s mast was broken by 30-foot waves and is dragging the sail in the water. The yacht is not taking on water, and Abby seems fine. You can read all about it here.

But renowned Australian round-the-world sailor Ian Kiernan said Abby should not have been in the southern Indian Ocean during the current southern hemisphere winter. “Abby would be going through a very difficult time with mountainous seas and essentially hurricane-force winds,” Kiernan told Sky News television.

Makes me wonder why then she chose to take that route at this time? But that is part of the excitement and mystery of learning about other people’s adventures.

16-Year-Old Girl In Trouble On Solo World Sail

It all sounds so do-able, when you read about people’s heroic and victorious adventures. Kids who row across an ocean alone, climb Mt. Everest, sail around the world. But these attempts are very dangerous, and much of their success is pure luck in my opinion, often related to good weather. Let’s hope this girl is located, and that she is ok. Do you think their parents are irresponsible for letting them take off. Could anyone stop the kids from trying? You can learn more about Abby by reading her blog.

Abby's 40-foot sloop, Wild Eyes

By JOHN ANTCZAK, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES – A 16-year-old Southern California girl attempting a solo sail around the world was feared in trouble Thursday in the frigid, heaving southern Indian Ocean after her emergency beacons began signaling and communication was lost.

Abby Sunderland’s family was talking with U.S. and international governments about organizing a search of the remote ocean between southern Africa and Australia, family spokesman Christian Pinkston said. Conditions can quickly become perilous for any sailor exposed to the elements in that part of the world. “We’ve got to get a plane out there quick,” said Pinkston, adding that the teen’s family in Thousand Oaks was asking for prayers for her safety.

“They are exhausting every resource to try to mobilize an air rescue including discussions with the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Coast Guard and various international rescue organizations,” he said. The closest land is France’s Reunion Island, east of Madagascar, though the exact distance wasn’t clear.

Abby Sunderland is hopefully NOT lost at sea

Abby last communicated with her family at 4 a.m. PDT and reported 30-foot swells but was not in distress, Pinkston said. An hour later the family was notified that her emergency beacons had been activated, and there was no further communication. Pinkston said the beacons were manually activated.

Her brother, Zac, who sailed around the world at age 17, told Los Angeles radio station KNX that Abby was in a heavy storm at the time she called home. “We’re still trying to figure out the rescue situation,” he said. “There’s two boats headed out to her position, one is an estimated 40 hours, the other is 48. Right now we’re trying to figure out if there is any way faster. She’s in the middle of nowhere pretty much in the southern Indian Ocean. There’s nothing closer.” He said Abby’s boat was most likely not completely submerged because another beacon would be triggered at a depth of 15 feet.

Abby set sail from Los Angeles County’s Marina del Rey in her 40-foot boat, Wild Eyes, on Jan. 23 in an attempt to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone without stopping. Her brother briefly held the record in 2009. Abby soon ran into equipment problems and had to stop for repairs. She gave up the goal of setting the record in April, but continued on.

On May 15, Australian 16-year-old Jessica Watson claimed the record after completing a 23,000-mile circumnavigation in 210 days.

Abby left Cape Town, South Africa, on May 21 and on Monday reached the halfway point of her voyage. On Wednesday, she wrote in her log that it had been a rough few days with huge seas that had her boat “rolling around like crazy…I’ve been in some rough weather for awhile with winds steady at 40-45 knots with higher gusts,” she wrote. “With that front passing, the conditions were lighter today. It was a nice day today with some lighter winds which gave me a chance to patch everything up. Wild Eyes was great through everything but after a day with over 50 knots at times, I had quite a bit of work to do.”

Information on her website said that as of June 8 she had completed a 2,100-mile leg from South Africa to north of the Kerguelen Islands, taking a route to avoid an ice hazard area. Ahead of her lay more than 2,100 miles of ocean on a 10- to 16-day leg to a point south of Cape Leeuwin on the southwest tip of Australia.

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16-Year-Old Jennifer Watson Becomes Youngest Person To Sail Around The World Solo And Without Assistance

Another youngster makes inspirational sports history.

Jessica Watson upon her arrival back home in Sydney—5/15/10


This time it’s 16-year-old Jennifer Watson, an Australian who just completed a solo sail around the world. “People don’t think you’re capable of these things—they don’t realize what young people, what 16-year-olds and girls are capable of,” Watson told the raucous crowd at the Sydney Opera House, many wearing pink clothes and waving pink flags in honor of her 34-foot yacht, Ella’s Pink Lady. “It’s amazing, when you take away those expectations, what you can do.”

Jennifer at welcome back home ceremony with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd greeted Watson at the Opera House with a grin and a hug, dubbing her “Australia’s newest hero”—a description Watson dismissed.

“I’m actually going to disagree with the prime minister,” she said, as the crowd laughed. “I don’t consider myself a hero. I’m an ordinary girl who believed in her dream.”

Nevertheless she survived the isolation, monstrous storms with waves 40-feet high and seven boat knockdowns. Her parents survived the storms of criticism for being so reckless and allowing their daughter to make such a dangerous 23,000 nautical mile journey. But Jennifer has been sailing since age eight, so her family was confident she’d make the trip safely.

You can read more details in this article by Kristin Gelineau. And you can also enjoy more about this incredible adventure by visiting Jennifer’s blog [/caption]

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