Who wouldn't want to be Alex Thomson? He's suave and sophisticated and has enjoyed the longest running full-on sponsorship in professional sailing. Hugo Boss has been financing his racing career since 2003 and recently re-upped with a new four-year deal. Alex was so pleased he scored a fancy new suit and went for a walk:
News & Views
We have already discussed an early elite cruising vessel, Cleopatra's Barge, and the development of high-end yacht design in the 19th century. Now it's time to turn to the "hoi polloi," the unwashed mass of middle-class (and upper middle-class) sailors who were also determined to enjoy "messing about in boats," and who, ultimately, had a much bigger impact on the development of the sport.
One important pioneer was a stern British stockbroker named Richard Turrell (R.T.) McMullen, who, in 1850, at age 20, decided to teach himself sailing and commissioned the construction of a 20-foot half-decked cutter named Leo. Over the next 41 years he cruised throughout the British Isles and across the English Channel in a series of purpose-built vessels, the largest of which, a 42-footer named Orion (see image above), was a classic deep-draft, narrow-waisted British cutter.
Boats & Gear
I'm thinking about this (again) after watching an exciting video (see below) of a sailboat wiping out trying to enter an inlet at Zumaia in northern Spain. The photo above shows a different boat entering the same inlet successfully, which should give you an idea at a glance of how hairy this can be when conditions are uncooperative.
Techniques & Tactics
Well informed sports fans will recall that SAIL's publisher, Josh Adams, abandoned his career in sailing journalism back in August 2012 to assume command of the U.S. Olympic sailing team. Our loss was the Olympic team's gain, and they seem to be recovering nicely from their zero-medal performance in the 2012 London games. Last month they scored six podium finishes at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami regatta, including a gold medal for Paige Railey in the Laser Radial class.
PBS has aired and released its great three-part video series, Chasing Shackleton, which follows the exploits of five modern-day adventurers as they seek to recreate Ernest Shackleton's amazing small-boat voyage from Antarctica to South Georgia Island in 1916. Follow this link here, and you can watch all three 1-hour episodes for free. Don't dawdle! I'd be surprised if they leave these up for long.
For sailors, the story inside this story is that one of the five crew aboard Alexandra Shackleton, a very accurate duplicate of Shackleton's lifeboat James Caird, was Australian Paul Larsen. Just weeks before embarking on this grueling survivalist nightmare of a voyage deep in the Southern Ocean, Larsen had been in Namibia triumphantly shattering the world sailing speed record aboard Vestas Sailrocket 2. This was the culmination of a 10-year personal quest, during which many had ridiculed Larsen and his revolutionary boat.
Don't know if you've been watching the North Atlantic weather charts this winter, but FYI Ireland and the UK have been taking direct hits from storms as strong as hurricanes on a weekly basis for some time now. And I don't know if you've been following the Red Bull Storm Chase series, which I blogged about when it started in Ireland last January, but the series recently wrapped up with an amazing session right in the middle of one of those storms in Cornwall, England. Thomas Traversa of France was declared the winner of this grueling triptych of events (there was another session in Tasmania last August) and is now officially the craziest, most bad-ass windsurfer on the planet.
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Offshore Passage Opportunities
Attainable Adventure Cruising
Blue Planet Times
Father & Son Sailing
Cruising Sailor's BB
Good Old Boat
North American Sailor
Liz Clark and the Voyage of Swell
Onboard with Mark Corke
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