News & Views

OLYMPIC SAILING: What Does the Josh Say?

Josh Adams

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.

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CHASING SHACKLETON: What Paul Larsen Did After Breaking the Sailing Speed Record

A. Shackleton under sail

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.

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RED BULL STORM CHASE: Windsurfing in a Hurricane

Storm Chase

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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HMS BOUNTY: Final NTSB Report Released

Bounty sinking

The National Transportation Safety Board released its report on the infamous October 2012 loss of HMS Bounty yesterday, concluding "that the probable cause of the sinking of tall ship Bounty was the captain's reckless decision to sail the vessel into the well-forecasted path of Hurricane Sandy, which subjected the aging vessel and the inexperienced crew to conditions from which the vessel could not recover." No real surprise there. But on reading the report in full, I did find one bit I hadn't expected, which is that the five-member review board also determined that the captain, Robin Walbridge, was not actually under any pressure to make the ship's next appearance in Florida and that the ship could still have reached St. Petersburg on schedule if it had waited out the storm in Connecticut.

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STANLEY PARIS: What Really Happened On Kiwi Spirit?

Kiwi Spirit under sail

Thank goodness I was off having my own misadventure when Stanley Paris announced in his blog that he was abandoning his solo circumnavigation attempt and pulling into Cape Town. Otherwise there's a good chance I might have stepped in it like my SAILfeed compatriot Andy Schell did when he read the news. It seems that what set Andy off was a single phrase in Paris's announcement: "that the design of the rigging attachments to the yacht were inadequate for ocean sailing." My reaction when I read that was pretty much WTF too.

Andy made some critical assumptions and statements based on that statement and promptly got slapped down by Patrick Shaughnessy at Farr Yacht Design, the firm that designed Paris's boat, Kiwi Spirit. The implication in Shaughnessy's response, as published by Andy, is that the phrase in question refers not to the original design of the "rigging attachments," but to the design of some jury rigs created by Paris.

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BE GOOD TOO: Answering Critics

Internet dogs

Silly me. I thought publishing my account of abandoning Be Good Too would decrease rather than increase speculative and critical commentary among the baying dogs of the Internet. I suppose I should have known better. Unlike some folks out there, I don't have the free time to write multiple screeds on all the sailing forums, so I thought I'd address some issues that have been raised here.

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HELICOPTER EVACUATION: Abandoning Be Good Too

Helo hoist

"I can say for certain that was the best helicopter ride of my life. It was also the best shower." --statement by Gunther Rodatz to U.S. Coast Guard airbase personnel; Elizabeth City, North Carolina; Jan. 14, 2014

THERE HAS ALREADY BEEN a lot of buzz about what happened Tuesday morning approximately 300 miles off the Virginia coast, when owners Gunther and Doris Rodatz, together with delivery skipper Hank Schmitt and myself, abandoned the 42-foot catamaran Be Good Too courtesy of a U.S. Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter crew. As is usually the case, much of it has been speculative, and some people have complained that we need not have left the boat. True facts have been a little hard to come by. Here on my own blog, at least, I can do what I can to correct that.

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WEIRD SCIENCE AND GADGETS: Saildrones, Jet Packs, Dog Poop

Saildrone under sail

Here's a trifecta of odd news that has lately teased my nautical mind. May as well lead with the Saildrone, an autonomous sailing robot that has recently completely a passage from San Francisco to Hawaii and is now sailing around in circles about 800 miles south of Oahu. To date it has covered some 6,000 miles at an average speed of 2.5 knots

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