CLIPPER ROUND THE WORLD RACE: Pay-to-Play Crew Dead in Reefing Accident


Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think this has ever happened before. With all the many bluewater pay-to-play crewing opportunities out there these days (some of which I’ve been involved with), I think this is the first time anyone has actually died doing it. According to the official statement released by Clipper Ventures, organizers of the Clipper Round the World Race, Andrew Ashman, 49, a British paramedic who had been sailing since he was a teenager, died onboard the Clipper 70 IchorCoal two days ago after being knocked out by the mainsheet and perhaps the boom while helping to reef the mainsail in Force 6 conditions.

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BERNARD MOITESSIER: Sailing Mysticism and The Long Way

Long Way cover

It is interesting that our three major monotheistic “revealed” religions--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--are all the fruit of mystic transmissions received by prophets who isolated themselves in the desert. And in Buddhism, of course, though it is not really theistic, we have a belief system based on the enlightenment of a man who isolated himself beneath a tree. But curiously, though humans (as we have discussed before) have long wandered across the watery part of our world, an inherently isolating experience, from the very beginning of our existence, we have in our history no real prophet of the sea.

I think most would agree now that the man who most closely fits the description is Bernard Moitessier, the iconoclastic French singlehander who became notorious in 1969 after he abandoned the Golden Globe, the first non-stop solo round-the-world race, so as to “save his soul.” Most sailors probably would also agree that the book Moitessier wrote about his experience, The Long Way (La longue route in the original French, 1971), though it obviously has never spawned any sort of religion, is the closest thing we have to a spiritual text.

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OCT in action

I’ve been studying the specs on this new Offshore Cruising Tender (see image above), which was developed by Russell and Karin Carlyon, a Kiwi cruising couple who evidently often found themselves pining for a better dinghy during their 7-year circumnavigation. We can only presume this represents their idea of “the perfect dinghy,” which is, of course, a highly subjective concept. After studying their website I’d guess their goal here was to create a dink with most of the attributes of an RIB tender, only more rugged and durable.

It certainly has a distinctive look, and for a hard tender it is remarkably light, just 92 pounds. Construction is relatively exotic--carbon-reinforced glass with Kevlar abrasion pads over a 10mm PVC foam core--yet the Carlyons claim the boat is easily repaired. There’s also a big closed-cell foam bumper encased in Sunbrella running all the way around the hull. Their most remarkable claim is that the boat will plane when powered by a 3hp outboard.

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MODERN CRUISING SAILS: Sail Construction and Materials

Under sail

To function as a proper airfoil a modern Marconi sail must present a curved surface to the wind. To the casual eye a sail may look like a flat two-dimensional piece of cloth, but in fact it has a very specific curved shape built into it. This shape is carefully engineered, depending on what sort of sail it is and how it will be used.

To turn a piece of flat fabric into a curved foil, the fabric must be cut into panels and stitched back together again. By cutting a convex curve along one edge of a panel and stitching it to a straight edge on an adjacent panel, a process is called broadseaming, a unitary curved surface is created once all the panels are joined together. Where the edge of a sail will be attached to a straight spar, as with a mainsail bent onto a mast and boom, shape can also be created by cutting a convex curve along that edge. This is called edge-shaping and is not commonly used these days.

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MAINE COAST CRUISE: Up and Down the Damariscotta River

Lunacy under sail

During our “adult cruise” (i.e., sans offspring) last summer, Clare and I harbored wild ambitions of ascending the Damariscotta River, but suffered a lack of breeze (and an intolerance of motoring) so settled instead for a perambulation about Knubble Bay and the lower reaches of the Sheepscot River. This summer, having once more disposed of children, I was determined to try again, and we were fortunately favored with some brisk wind early on.

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SEASCAPE 18: Evangelist Test Sail With Andraž Mihelin

Andraz astern

How’s this for convenience? I get the word from SAIL HQ that I should look into test-sailing the Seascape 18 from Slovenia, recently revealed on these shores, and it turns out the new U.S. rep is based in Kittery, Maine, mere footsteps from my home. Even better, on arriving at the anointed moment last Friday at Pepperell Cove, where said rep, Toralf Strand, a tall gangly Norwegian fellow, has assembled both a Seascape 27 and 18 for test-sailing by prospective buyers and this one journalist, it turns out I’ll be sailing with Andraž Mihelin (see photo up top), one of the masterminds behind the whole Seascape concept.

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MELONSEED SKIFF: Successfully Deployed as Secret Weapon (Sort Of) in 2015 Round Island Regatta


There’s a rumor going around that the only reason I’ve been looking to sell Mimi, my beloved Drascombe Dabber, is because she’s not competitive in the Round Island Regatta, an anarchic free-for-all involving small sailing and paddle/rowing vessels that is convened each summer on the back channel here in Portsmouth. And yes, it is true we did very poorly in Mimi last year. And I will confess it had crossed my mind that the Melonseed skiff I had set my heart on as Mimi’s successor might just get me on to the podium.

And, in fact, it almost turned out that way. In that photo up top (taken by my crew, daughter Lucy) you see me helming our new Melonseed, MiMi2, at the Class 1 start of this year’s regatta this past Saturday. We did well off the line and were in the top three (out of 27 boats in Class 1 Sail) after one lap round the course. And by the end of the second lap, we had a firm lock on second place. But then the anarchy factor took hold.

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OPEN 60 DELIVERY: From Portland to Marblehead with Rich Wilson

On deck GA4

I narrowly missed my last chance to sail on an Open 60, way back in 2001 at the Heineken Regatta, when Josh Hall and Gartmore turned up a last-minute no-show due to family issues, so I was pretty psyched about getting aboard Great American IV (ex-Mirabaud) with her skipper Rich Wilson late last week. This was his first outing on the boat this summer, a delivery jaunt from Maine Yacht Center in Portland to her home mooring in Marblehead, a distance of about 100 miles. Also onboard was Jonathan Green, a local Massachusetts racing sailor (on the left in the image up top) who is assisting Rich in tuning up the boat for next year’s Vendeé Globe start in France.

Unless something pretty dramatic happens, Rich, who last ran (and finished!) the Vendeé Globe in 2008-09, will (again) be the only American sailing in the race. At age 65, he will also be the oldest competitor in the race’s history, a fact he doesn’t necessarily like to dwell upon.

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