Archive for » June, 2014 «

Grueling 39K-Mile Yacht Race Tests the Sanity of Cramped Crews

Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget/Team Alvimedica

Photo: Tim Moynihan

Photo: Volvo Ocean Race

Photo: Daniel Forster/Team Alvimedica

Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget/Team Alvimedica

Photo: Daniel Forster/Team Alvimedica

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Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget/Team Alvimedica

Photo: Tim Moynihan

Photo: Volvo Ocean Race

Photo: Daniel Forster/Team Alvimedica

Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget/Team Alvimedica

Photo: Daniel Forster/Team Alvimedica

The idea of sailing around the world seems a bit iffy, even on a huge luxury liner with hot meals, cold alcohol, ample shuffleboard, and a decent bed. The idea turns horrific when you’re talking about doing it on a 65-foot sailing yacht with no fresh food, no shower, a narrow net of a bed, one change of clothes, and a single “toilet” the size and shape of a mixing bowl.

(P.S. You need to share that micro-toilet with seven other people.)

This is what the members of Team Alvimedica have signed up for. Led by skipper Charlie Enright and general manager Mark Towill, they’ll make up one of six competing teams in the Volvo Ocean Race, widely considered the toughest sailing race in the world.

The 2014-15 edition of the race, which takes place every three years, will cover 39,000 miles, hit six continents, and run from October to June. This is the first time it will be a “one-design” race: All entrants must use a specially designed boat—the $6 million Volvo 65—with the same exact specifications. The new carbon-fiber boats, designed by Farr Yacht Design in Annapolis, Md. specifically for the next two Volvo Ocean Races and assembled in different spots around the world, are strong and sturdy.

The idea is that giving everyone the same boat will keep teams from sacrificing safety features at the expense of speed. That’s not an idle worry: The race has claimed the lives of five sailors in its 41-year history. That doesn’t mean the boats are slow. With two sails, the 65-foot long craft can hit 30 knots (34.5 mph).

The identical boats will emphasize sailing skills, which could make this year’s race more competitive than ever. Teams will be evenly matched off the starting line. Once on the water, they monitor the weather to determine the exact route they want to take and which sails to use (Team Alvimedica will bring seven options to choose from). Depending on their choices, the boats may end up close together for some of the legs.

Each of the Volvo Ocean Race’s nine legs is treated as an independent race, with points allotted for the top finishers. At each port stop, the boats compete in shorter sprint races. The in-port races are used as tiebreakers if there’s a dead heat in the overall competition.

Volvo Ocean Race

No creature comforts

The boat may be safer than ever this year, but it offers little in the way of temperature control and sleep-friendliness. The cramped innards house a communications center, a video-editing lab, sleeping quarters (basically hammocks), and the head (a very non-private toilet). Enright says the temperature down there is either “really really hot or really really cold.” Carbon fiber doesn’t exactly dampen noise, so the cramped below-deck quarters pound constantly with the sound of waves hitting the hull.

We checked out Team Alvimedica’s boat on a gorgeous 80-degree day in New York City. It was a scorching, claustrophobic slice of hell. A tiny electric fan mounted to the right of the boat’s navigation center—a couple of ThinkPads with a cable-suspended seat in front—provided a sip of relief. It’s hard to imagine what would help if it were cold. There is no fireplace.

Obstacles

Each stage of the race is its own unique flavor of nightmare, from typhoons off the southern coast of China, dodging steamships in Malaysia, pirates near Somalia, to a combination of massive waves, powerful winds, and gigantic icebergs in the southernmost stretch of the competition. The first leg will take the teams from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa—a 6,487-mile jaunt that will last more than three weeks. The teams will swing so far west after passing through the Strait of Gibraltar, they’ll practically scrape the coast of Brazil. Then they loop back east to Cape Town. It’s not the most-direct route, but it may get them there the fastest thanks to the trade winds. As an added bonus, the route should also steer them clear of potential pirate attacks off the west coast of Africa.

If the competitors can duck and dodge their way through all of that, they’ll still need to make sure they don’t run out of food. That requires careful planning. Too much food will add unwanted weight to the boat. Too little of it would be disastrous during a slower-than-expected leg. During the last Volvo Ocean Race, the American PUMA Ocean Racing team ran out of food a day and a half from port on one leg.

But no matter how much food they bring, it will not be delicious. It’ll be freeze-dried everything, little packets of blech that won’t replenish the crazy amount of calories each crew burns on board. It’s no shock that the first thing the team will do when they get to each port is eat actual food, “or maybe get a blood test,” says Enright.

Tim Moynihan

When things go bad

When you’re stuck on a boat for weeks with a small crew, personnel decisions are a big deal. Substitutions are allowed between legs—and boats rarely finish the race with the same crew they had at the start—but while on the water, you’re stuck with whomever you’ve got. So each team builds a roster loaded with specialists who can deal with whatever happens: An electrician, a sailmaker, a medic, maybe a bowman or a strong grinder for the winches. A media specialist will also be on each boat to edit together video, as well as an embedded onboard reporter who’s only allowed to report, cook, and clean. It’ll be all-hands-on-deck, except for that reporter.

If something does go horribly wrong, the teams are on their own for a little while. The sailing yachts won’t be followed by chase boats and they’re often thousands of miles from land. In 2012, the mast of Team PUMA’s boat snapped in three places in the middle of the Southern Atlantic Ocean and ended up on Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island on the planet.

The boats are tracked: Every five minutes, Volvo Ocean Race officials will receive an update of each boat’s location, and the boats are certainly equipped for several forms of communication. A few Inmarsat Sailor satellite antennas are in the back of each boat: A large unit used for beefier transmissions, such as sending video from the boat via satellite. A second, smaller Inmarsat Sailor antenna will be used for less-demanding data delivery: Text messages and e-mails back home. Ordering a pizza probably won’t work.

There will also be five video cameras on board, including a pair mounted to the mast, and they’ll be rolling at all times. Not all the footage will be saved, however. Instead, there will be a buffer of at least 30 minutes so that the ship’s media crew member can review footage in case anything goes wrong, and to have more leeway when editing together montages. The mast-mounted cameras are controlled from below the deck, with a panel that can swap cameras, operate the zoom on each of them, and move them around. There’s also a Panasonic Toughpad the team can use on deck to see what’s happening, and remotely control the navigation system below.

According to Enright, the yachts were practically designed around one of the many cameras, a live-stream-capable module above the hatch that’s also equipped with a microphone for chatting. There won’t be a live-stream from the boat’s cameras, so you’re out of luck if you want to follow along with them for nine months straight. But you can follow them with an online map, and the media crew member will be editing videos aboard the ship and sending produced packages to TV stations via satellite.

The toughest part of the race will likely be the fifth and longest leg—the 6,776-mile, iceberg-infested stretch in the Southern Ocean from New Zealand to Brazil. “There, it’s not about going fast, it’s about controlling the crew and the boat,” says Enright, who anticipates filling the boat’s ballast tanks during that leg to slow the boat down and keep it more manageable. “To finish first, you must first finish.”

The prize for finishing first? Zero dollars. Each boat’s crew members are professional sailors who will be paid by their teams, but there’s no jackpot at the end of this grueling race.

The trophies aren’t too bad, though.


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United Yacht Launches Instant Used Boats for Sale Database

  • Email a friend


used boats

used boats

Fort Lauderdale, Florida (PRWEB) June 30, 2014

United Yacht Sales, the United State’s largest independently owned boat brokerage, announces the launch of their new “Quick Boat Search.” This new feature instantly searches hundreds-to-thousands of active listings of boats for sale, allowing potential buyers to find exactly what they want by boat manufacturer, boat minimum length, boat maximum length, or a combination.

Founder of United Yacht Sales, Peter Schmidt, comments. “We really care about our clients. Our new used boats search feature helps our boat sellers sell quicker and our boat buyers buy quicker. It’s all about convenience.”

IT Directory, Stephen Kaufman, elaborates. “Our new used boat search provides instant access to all of United Yacht’s boats for sale by connecting our website’s backend to our database of active listing.” He continues, “This is just one of many exciting new features that our team of experienced boat brokers has on the horizon for our clients.”

The instant search feature include results from nearly 300 different boat manufacturers and models, including the following.

  • Grady White
  • Sea Ray
  • Nordhavn
  • Hatteras
  • Viking
  • World Cat
  • Yellowfin
  • Wellcraft
  • Bayliner
  • Buddy Davis
  • and hundreds more.

As if the hours of time dedicated to developing a one-of-a-kind, convenient search system wasn’t enough, United Yacht Sales also just completed a month’s long process of listing detailed information of nearly 1,800 unique boat models. The new archive of boat models provides in-depth information on the length, hull, clearance, fuel capacity, water capacity, and horsepower of various yachts for sale.

Exceeding 40 years of experience in the yachting industry, Peter Schmidt’s United Yacht is among the most skilled yacht brokerages in the business. With over one hundred boat brokers on their team, the firm has as many as 1,000+ listings on the market and averages nearly 400 transactions yearly. With those kind of numbers, and on-going innovations in listing technologies and marketing, United Yacht is a THE industry leader in their field. Visit them online at http://www.unitedyacht.com or call them at 772-463-3131.

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New boats launched

New boats launched

By Oscar Tollast

SAIL AWAY: Elma Shipley, left, who has donated two dinghies in memory of her husband, with Hugh de Iongh

A SAILING group on Portland which provides opportunities for disabled people is celebrating the launch of two new boats.

Chesil Sailability, based at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, held a ceremony to mark the occasion.

Elma Shipley donated two Hansa 303 boats to the group as part of the Rod Shipley Memorial Fund with the Chesil Trust.

The boats have been named Rod Shipley 1 and Rod Shipley 2.

Mr Shipley started sailing in boats at an early age before spending many years in the Royal Navy, with his last posting in Portland.

He was involved in the Royal Dorset Yacht Club and became well known in the area after running Chesil Beach Motors. He passed away in 2012.

His wife, Elma, set up the memorial fund to create opportunities for people to get involved in sailing.

More than 40 people attended a ceremony to mark Mrs Shipley’s donation, including Mayor of Weymouth and Portland Kate Wheller.

Hugh de Iongh, committee chairman of Chesil Sailability, said it was a brilliant event.

He added: “We were so pleased to be able to share the afternoon with so many local dignitaries, friends of the Shipleys and our members.

“The weather helped too, and we are really grateful to our members who helped it run so smoothly.”

Mr de Iongh said the boats would be very important for Chesil Sailability, giving great pleasure and making a real difference to peoples’ lives.

He added: “Hansa 303s are the Land Rovers of the accessible sailing world – simple, robust and stable.

“They can be sailed two up, or single handed, and can be adapted for people with severe physical disabilities with controls.

“The ability for people with severe disabilities to sail independently is something very special that we can do, and gives them a unique freedom on the water.”

Up until recently Chesil Sailability had been using old boats on loan. These two new boats will form the core of the organisation’s new fleet.

The boats were taken out sailing after the launch event. Whilst somebody went for their very first sail on one of them, the other was used by two sailors training for national championships.

Mr de Iongh said: “Everyone came ashore smiling.”

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United Yacht Launches Instant Used Boats for Sale Database – Virtual

Browsing boats for sale just because easier with United Yacht Sales new “Quick Boat Search” feature. The boat brokerage’s feature gives clients the ability to instantly search hundreds of listings in real-time.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida (PRWEB) June 30, 2014

United Yacht Sales, the United State’s largest independently owned boat brokerage, announces the launch of their new “Quick Boat Search.” This new feature instantly searches hundreds-to-thousands of active listings of boats for sale, allowing potential buyers to find exactly what they want by boat manufacturer, boat minimum length, boat maximum length, or a combination.

Founder of United Yacht Sales, Peter Schmidt, comments. “We really care about our clients. Our new used boats search feature helps our boat sellers sell quicker and our boat buyers buy quicker. It’s all about convenience.”

IT Directory, Stephen Kaufman, elaborates. “Our new used boat search provides instant access to all of United Yacht’s boats for sale by connecting our website’s backend to our database of active listing.” He continues, “This is just one of many exciting new features that our team of experienced boat brokers has on the horizon for our clients.”

The instant search feature include results from nearly 300 different boat manufacturers and models, including the following.

  • Grady White
  • Sea Ray
  • Nordhavn
  • Hatteras
  • Viking
  • World Cat
  • Yellowfin
  • Wellcraft
  • Bayliner
  • Buddy Davis
  • and hundreds more.

As if the hours of time dedicated to developing a one-of-a-kind, convenient search system wasn’t enough, United Yacht Sales also just completed a month’s long process of listing detailed information of nearly 1,800 unique boat models. The new archive of boat models provides in-depth information on the length, hull, clearance, fuel capacity, water capacity, and horsepower of various yachts for sale.

Exceeding 40 years of experience in the yachting industry, Peter Schmidt’s United Yacht is among the most skilled yacht brokerages in the business. With over one hundred boat brokers on their team, the firm has as many as 1,000+ listings on the market and averages nearly 400 transactions yearly. With those kind of numbers, and on-going innovations in listing technologies and marketing, United Yacht is a THE industry leader in their field. Visit them online at http://www.unitedyacht.com or call them at 772-463-3131.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/used-boats/for-sale/prweb11980747.htm


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MSU Sailing Center popular with students, community






By Beth Waldon

/ The State News

The MSU Sailing Club offers classes out of Lake Lansing for those wishing to sail.




“MSU acquired this property and some boats through a gift in the spring of 1997, and I was hired at that time to put recreational and educational programming together for our department,” Ken Warshaw, MSU sport facility professional with the department of recreational sports and fitness services, said.

Several MSU students assist Warshaw with instructing beginners.

“The backbone of our operation (is) MSU student employees,” Warshaw said. “Most of our students (employees) come with minimal sailing skills.”

When applying for the job, prospective student employees are not required to have any sailing experience. Warshaw is more interested in students who have a good attitude and are interested in community involvement.

MSU Alumnus Peter Rocco, who is the lead instructor and supervisor of the program, has been instructing beginners through the MSU Sailing Center for almost three years.

“I was on the sailing team and I was looking for a job,” Rocco said. “I knew about this place from the sailing team and I came out here and talked to Ken and it worked out.”

Rocco began sailing at a young age.

“I started when I was really young, probably like second grade, but I didn’t really get into it until about high school … since then, I’ve been (sailing) every summer,” Rocco said.

Rocco said his favorite part about the job is the public involvement.

“I just love working with all the new people and teaching everyone how to sail,” he said.

Lansing resident Gary Bush purchased a sailboat from the MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center last April and wanted to learn how to properly use it.

“I used to sail when I was 9, so (it has) been a long time,” Bush said. “The boat I bought was like my dad’s when I helped build it.”

Bush said he has enjoyed all eight lessons and is excited to put his new boat to use.

Prospective sailors can call the MSU Sailing Center and register over the phone. MSU students receive a discount.

Warshaw said students are allowed to receive one credit for the program through the Department of Kinesiology.

Classes held in September are exclusively for MSU students receiving credit for the class, but May, June, July and August are open to everyone.

Warshaw said the program has taught all ages how to sail, ranging from children as young as 5 up to senior citizens in their mid-80s.

“The challenges are on so many different levels and there’s an enormous amount of satisfaction for us as instructors when we take people who know nothing about sailing and … a month later, they’ve acquired a lifelong skill,” Warshaw said.



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The journey of a Facebook post

Since that Facebook post challenging people to help students who swim to school in Zamboanga went viral in October 2010, so much has happened to the children, their families, the communities, and even to that “chief storyteller” who started it all.

The poor students who risked their lives every day just to be able to study didn’t only get bright yellow boats to ferry them to and from the island where their school is located; their parents also got the chance to augment their livelihood through other means.

SAILING TO BIGGER SEAS – From giving boats, the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation is now building schools, and empowering communities. Clockwise from top shows Jay Jaboneta with the kids of Layag-Layag, Zamboanga City on the first yellow boat; the Yellow School of Hope in Dipolog; with Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg; and resting on a rickshaw during a field visit in Pakistan. (Photos courtesy of Jay Jaboneta)

From boats that addressed the difficulty of going to school in many areas of the country, the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation grew in its mission, volunteers, partners, and areas of service ? building schools together with their partner donors, empowering communities through livelihood, and uplifting lives.

More than three years after the first boat was turned over to the community in Zamboanga, the Foundation has given close to 1,200 boats nationwide. In their second community in Masbate where children dangerously jump off a cliff and dive to be able to go to school, 82 boats were given for use of the students and their families for livelihood. More than that, a four-classroom makeshift school named the Yellow School of Hope was built in Masbate. Later, the children’s story was featured in the drama series “Maalala mo Kaya,” which eventually paved the way for the construction of a concrete school by ABS-CBN.

Today, the Foundation has three Yellow Schools of Hope in Masbate, Dipolog, and Cotabato City, while a damaged school will soon be rebuilt in Marabut, Samar together with Hebreo Foundation.

A BIGGER CHALLENGE

“We’re now in 45 communities across the Philippines, with local chapters and partners, and we have provided close to 1,200 boats nationwide. The biggest number of boats was provided to fishermen in Davao Oriental and Visayas who lost their boats due to Typhoon Pablo (Davao in 2012) and Typhoon Yolanda (Visayas in 2013). As of today, almost 800 boats went to Yolanda-affected areas in northern Cebu, Leyte, and Samar. We are also looking at Iloilo, Panay and Palawan,” relates Jay Jaboneta, the co-founder and chief storyteller of the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation.

He says their mission now focuses on education and livelihood which are the basic needs of the communities they serve. For education, they’re building structures ? boats, bridges, dormitories, classrooms, schools. For livelihood, the Foundation created the Adopt-a-Fisherman program to provide boats to fisherfolk who were affected by Typhoon Pablo and Yolanda. Jaboneta says this was developed in January 2013 in consultation with local fishermen in Davao Oriental who were worried of not being able to send their children to school if they didn’t regain their livelihood which was damaged by Typoon Pablo.

The Foundation is also working with 10 corporate partners.

While the basic needs of the children and their families are now being addressed, the Foundation is still faced with the challenge of sustainability.

“I believe our current big challenge is how to build sustainability into our operations, how to generate enough funding so we can continue to do our work and scale it. We’re not backed by any big company or rich family so we always struggled in paying for our logistics and administration costs. Sustainability is the real challenge for most organizations especially among NGOs and social enterprises,” Jaboneta explains.

ACQUIRING THE SKILLS

While the initial success in helping the beneficiaries was fulfilling, it further drove Jaboneta to find ways of strengthening the organization and making it sustainable.

Because his background is in accounting, sales and marketing, he sought to equip himself with skills in nonprofit and social enterprise management. He saw the opportunity to earn these skills in the Acumen Fund’s Global Fellows program which exposes emerging leaders in the social sector to new concepts and immerses them in field assignments in one of their investments in Africa, India, or Pakistan.

Jaboneta was fortunate enough to be accepted in the ninth batch of Fellows and was the first Filipino to have undergone the program. For him, the 13-month program which included classroom-based training in New York, and an assignment in Pakistan for nine months, proved to be a great learning experience.

“I worked with Pharmagen Water, a local social enterprise providing clean water to the poor in Lahore, Pakistan. I helped build their marketing team and strategies. It was a great learning experience because I also learned so much from the culture there which was very different from the Philippines. But one thing I learned that truly left an impact to me was the concept of the balcony and dance floor in leadership. What it means is that as a leader, you must learn to dance with your people or team – to really work with them and not just give instructions. At the same time, you must also go up the balcony and observe who is dancing, who is not dancing, and if the room can still fit your team – things like that,” shares Jaboneta who also heads the Corporate Affairs Department of the Philippine Business for Social Progress.

For him, any leader can accomplish what developed countries are doing, it’s all just a matter of systems design thinking, building capacities, and working together on a shared vision and mission.

“I feel that more than doing great work or achieving milestones, leaders must build capacity and see how they can design the organization to build sustainability into it. We need to develop business models that will fund organizations with good social causes because we want them to achieve their purposes or missions. But doing it in such a way that it also empowers more people and organizations. That’s because we cannot do it alone. We need a critical base of change makers to be able to make a big difference,” he relates.

Armed with renewed vigor and an enhanced set of skills, Jaboneta and his team from the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation is even more confident of achieving their purpose of ensuring that no child is left behind in education.


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Ryan’s great Round Ireland adventure

David Ryan is more accustomed to ploughing the land than sailing around the coast, but the farmer plans to compete in — and win — the Round Ireland Yacht Race.

David Ryan is a man of the land, but today he answers the call of the sea.

Ryan has operated a dry stock and tillage farm outside of Wicklow Town for the best part of 30 years, ever since he moved to the area from Kildare. For the majority of that time, the Irish Sea has been little more than an unknown grey mass four miles distant. A recreation area for his three kids on a fine summer’s day, maybe, but little more.

At 2pm today, 35 craft will assemble just outside Wicklow Harbour to contest the 34th running of the Round Ireland Yacht Race. Most eyes will be on the Volvo 70 ‘Monster Project’, a 70ft state-of-the-art vessel designed for a tilt at the Round the World Yacht Race. The Volvo 70 is the Concorde of the seas, in that it is built for speed — if not comfort — and they just don’t make them like that anymore.

Ryan is its skipper.

It is, by his own admission, an extraordinary turn of events for a man who has helmed nothing larger than the tiny 10ft ‘Ruffin’ he owns and which has sat idle in the harbour all summer thanks to the litany of boxes he has had to tick in order to get this most unlikely of operations launched. Ryan, it seem, will be leaning on his management skills, rather than any sea-faring expertise.

“I’m going to make this happen,” he says. “That’s it.”

Ryan has handpicked the crew. Some are experienced ocean hands, others are of a more callow vintage, three of them earning their place on board courtesy of a competition run in association with the Irish Cruiser Racing Association’s ‘Come Sailing Day’ last month. The most important person on board will be Andy Budgen, you would imagine, a man who is something of a legend in British sailing circles.

An accomplished sailor in his own right, Budgen has coached a hugely successful Team GB in recent Olympiads and ‘Monster Project’ is his baby. The vessel is in constant demand as a charter and is just back from a stint in the Caribbean, but Ryan worked his charm and secured the super yacht for the Round Ireland gig.

“This boat was produced in 2007 for the Round the World,” Ryan explains, the wonderment on his face growing with each and every word. “Only eight boats do that race. There are very few of those in existence anymore because they are clapped out, or whatever. The Russians ran out of money in 2008 so it only went halfway around the world so it is in reasonably good shape.

“We had a guy called Mark Mills, who is a naval architect and who learned to sail here in Wicklow, draw up a list of boats that would be suitable for this challenge and he inspected some boats in America or wherever was necessary. So we came up with a list of 12 boats, but I always wanted this boat myself. The Volvo 70 is no longer being made.

“It is on the edge of design, in terms of it being so fast for a sailing boat, but it is not particularly strong. For the next (Round the World) race they have gone for a Volvo 65, but the boat is two tonnes heavier. It will be stronger and there will be less problems with it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go on a Volvo 70 because the new one doesn’t have the speed this one has.”

As a farmer, Ryan knows what it is to pray for the right weather and he has been hoping for the ideal sort of winds that would allow him not just to claim line honours in this race — first place to you and me — but to create a new time record to boot. It’s no pie in the sky dream, given the vessel he has commandeered and yet even getting to the starting line has been an incredible achievement in itself.

Financing the thing has been its own endurance test and, though he hoped to have that box ticked last February, he will go to post with something of a “hole” still to be filled. A TV documentary detailing his story to be broadcast on television in the autumn may go some way to doing that if the plan to sell the story abroad catches on, but there’s been much, much more to consider.

It took two weeks just to organise the food, everything weighed to the nth degree. There is no cooker, no fridge, not even a microwave. Just two jet boilers, lots of pasta, rice and Bolognese sauce. The crew will sleep in rotation, stacked feet forward like cordwood, in the understanding that it would be better to break a leg than a head.

“Somebody else’s ass will be your air bag,” Ryan chuckled. They will lie in bunks wedged against a carbon fibre hull with no insulation. It is not fully waterproof so sea water will seep in as they try to catch some sleep and ear plugs will be a necessity as the noise of the boat slapping against those Atlantic waves at 30 knots will be like a jack-hammer at full tilt.

How, you may ask, does Ryan find himself here?

It started about 10 years ago when his son Peter began to gravitate towards the Wicklow Sailing Club with his mates. Pretty soon, his other lad Paul followed suit and, before daddy knew it, he was a family member and being lured into the life. “Would you be interested in going out on a boat?” That was when the bug first bit. It was 2007.

Like so many before and since, the water captivated him.

“There are very few things nicer than on a Thursday evening or a Saturday afternoon and going out to see your children enjoying themselves on the water,” he said earlier this month as he sat in the local sailing club’s bar.

“It’s absolutely fantastic. You are spending quality time and teaching them skills and they are making new friends. It’s all good.”

Paul, a kid with a competitive streak that you just can’t teach and a talent that could have been honed into something special, drifted away to Gaelic games. Peter stayed at it and, in 2010, a last-minute berth opened up on a local entrant for that year’s Round Ireland gig. David and his wife Teresa had a big decision to make in a small amount of time. Peter was just 16. Off you go, they said.

Dad was the official starter that year. Has been the last three times. It was when he fired his gun (it’s okay, he’s a farmer, so it’s licensed) to set the 2012 event on its way that he made the decision; the next time that gun went off, he promised himself, someone else would be pulling the trigger. He would be out there on the water. So, here he is.

The Round Ireland Yacht Race he describes as the “most unsold race in the world”. Around 10,000 people will congregate on Wicklow Town over the three-day Sailfest. One-fifth will make for the Black Castle above the harbour to take in the starter’s gun. It’s a big deal round those parts, though the majority of punters will be from the immediate area.

Others are yet to catch on.

Major sponsors backed the event in the past, but there is none on board at the minute. The organisers in Wicklow Sailing Club speak excitedly of building the event, though, and the larger harbour at Dún Laoghaire’s Royal Irish Yacht Club has been utilised this year to help with the logistical side of things.

The potential is obvious.

The course is a smorgasbord of challenges that any offshore sailor would embrace. A flowing southerly tide takes you out of the harbour and through the Irish Sea but then comes the turn around Carnsore Point at the southeastern tip of Wexford and from there it is out into the wilds of the Atlantic Ocean. Peter Shearer, Commodore of Wicklow Sailing Club, takes up the route.

“Your trade winds tend to be from the southwest so if you get that standard wind, you will be flying up the west coast, which is a real challenge because the sailors set a huge sail called the spinnaker and they can go on a real sleigh ride up that coast. Then you come up to Donegal and towards the calmer waters again, but in doing that, you hit very strong tides.”

There are six tidal gates all told. Hit any one of them the wrong way, and you could be blown off course for hours. It’s all about decisions. Do you sail over by Scotland and come down by the Isle of Man or do you hug the coast of Northern Ireland? By the end, 700 or so miles and roughly four days will have elapsed. There is no half-time break. No second leg. It’s hardly surprising, then, that sailors have been known to sleep for more than 24 hours once they make dry land again.

It is all run under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Yacht Club which also oversees the more celebrated Fastnet Race from the Isle of Wight to Plymouth via Fastnet Rock, as well as the Middle Sea event in Malta. Half of the entrants leaving Wicklow Harbour today will hail from abroad: England, Wales, the Isle of Man and France. The Dutch have been strong supporters in the past.

Few, if any, will have a tale quite like Ryan’s. It is, unfortunately, one tinged with sadness. It is over two years now since his nephew Shane Grogan was assaulted in Tuam on his way home after a night out with girlfriend. The unprovoked attack left the young man with what is termed an acquired brain injury. Currently in a nursing home in Galway, Grogan’s family have been raising funds to pay for a treatment regime which would improve his cognitive function and build a facility at the family home where he can be cared for 24/7 by his own.

Headway Ireland say that there is a two-to-five year period after a brain injury before the full extent of any recovery can be known, so Grogan is at the early stages of that spectrum. The 24-year old was a keen triathlete and competed for charities before the incident in 2012 and his uncle will be looking to do his bit by raising funds through his own competitive adventure around the island.

“The Shane thing has brought a sadness to my family,” he explains, the smile falling from his face for the first time. “My wife goes down every two or three weekends to help out. She has been trained in some of these therapies, so the family is doing some of this stuff with him the whole time. So, it’s in the back of my mind. There is a huge excitement in the back of my mind, don’t get me wrong, but you’d like to give a 24-year old every chance.”

Ryan travelled to Southampton last Saturday to pick up Monster Project and test her out in the waters between Ireland and the UK. The week prior to that was spent “doing the silage” and he breaks off from talk about the race at one point to answer the phone, in case there were cattle loose on the road.

“I’ve a lot going on,” he laughs again. “Do you get that?” You could only wish him well.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved


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BOWERS: Program teaches Merced youths how to sail, enjoy time on water

It’s a mild day in late June, with temperatures in the mid-90s and winds out of the northwest at about 15 miles an hour.

Standing on the boat docks at Lake Yosemite, I hear shrouds clanking against the masts of nearby sailboats and, from the lake, kids talking and laughing. They are members of the Lake Yosemite Sailing Association’s summer junior sail camp, and this is their second day of sailing.

Three of them are out by themselves in El Toros, and the other six are on Lasers and Lido 14s. There are a total of nine sailboats skippered by junior sailors out on the water, plus the motor boat with adult instructors. The motor boat carries bottled water and an adult with a megaphone.

Occasionally, the motor boat buzzes the sailboats to create waves for the kids to sail through.

It’s around 3 p.m., and it’s been an eventful day for these novice sailors. Earlier, one of the Lidos capsized, a common enough occurrence, but this time the camp counselor and her junior sailor couldn’t right the boat. It kept filling with water until another counselor, Jacob Harden, swam out and helped them turn the boat right side up.

About an hour after the first boat capsized, an El Toro went over at the same time another one ended up trapped by the bridge. I am impressed by how well the junior sailors react to these mishaps. They remember the rules – make sure everyone is accounted for and OK, stay with the boat and stand on the keel to flip the boat back up.

As I stand and look out at the lake, I can hear one of the adult volunteers, Eric Swenson, banging out a repair for the mast float on the Lido which capsized earlier. A retired engineer, he knows how to fix things, and he has put together a little workshop in the clubhouse yard.

My husband, Matt, the sailing instructor, is on the beach with a group of kids, supervising their turns in the El Toros, boats so small they are suitable for only one person at a time. Two of the El Toros were built by Darrell Sorensen, a longtime sail camp volunteer. Jerry Rokes, another volunteer who has been with the program for years, is out on the LYSA motor boat.

Started by Jay Sousa, a local photographer and sailing instructor, LYSA Junior Sail Camp began in 2007 with a few counselors and sailors and has grown steadily ever since.

This year, the camp has nine camp counselors, four of whom have been involved in the camp since 2007 and 2008.

The other counselors are past campers who, over the years, have perfected their sailing skills enough to be entrusted with teaching younger, less-experienced sailors.

My husband and I have been managing the camp since 2010. This year, camp will run for only four weeks because the drought will make sailing even small boats difficult in August.

We will have about 50 junior sailors in all this summer, with six scholarships granted so far to kids who would not be able to experience it without financial help.

Last year, with cooperation from Court Appointed Special Advocates, we were able to offer scholarships to kids in the Merced County foster program, and we hope to fill a few more CASA scholarship slots once again this year.

Also, for the first time, we’re teaching a three-day sailing camp to a Navy ROTC program from Turlock.

Campers go home at 4 p.m., and so I leave the docks and walk back to the clubhouse.

The junior sailors are taking down the boats and cleaning up. In three more days, the sailors’ parents and siblings will come out to the lake and sail with them.

Summer vacation should be a time for spending the long days outdoors, somewhere near water. I’m hoping that, eventually, every kid in Merced who wants to experience sailing will be able to do so.

Kenneth Grahame, the author of “The Wind in the Willows,” once said that “nothing (is) half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” I’m pretty sure the kids I watched sail today would agree.

Brigitte Bowers is a lecturer in the Merritt Writing Program at UC Merced.


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Sailing: Erratic breeze taunts crews at St Petersburg

Day 2 of racing in St Petersburg for the Extreme Sailing Series was about as tough as they come for any race committee or sailing team.

If anyone wanted a lesson on the intricacies of wind then today was the day. It came, it went. It was left, it was right. It blew then didn’t blow at all and did that all over again on several occasions.

Helmsman Peter Burling: “Bottom speed today was probably zero, or actually even in the negatives. A few times we were drifting out to sea. Our top speed was probably 13-14 knots, so we had it all.”

Postponements, attempted starts, general recalls, the race committee had its hands full today on the River Neva, valiantly attempting to get as many races in as possible. Its toughest call of the day enforcing the time cut off rule, which saw boats finishing later than a calculated amount of time after the race winner be given a DNF and minimum one point.

Not only was the fleet racing each other but they were also racing the clock.

Fortunately for Emirates Team New Zealand they narrowly missed the cut off point crossing the line less than a minute before time was up. Alinghi missed the time by only seven seconds in the second race of the day giving the other top teams a prime opportunity to close the gap up on the leaders.

Peter Burling: “The race committee tried to get a fair few races away, which didn’t eventuate today. Finally we managed to get a couple of races in which were really happy to get a second and a fifth.”

“In the first race we had a pretty good opportunity to win but finished second. in the second race we were pretty deep and fought back to finish fifth. So it was swings in roundabouts and we are really happy to gain a few points on Alinghi today and that was definitely the target.”

Racing is scheduled to continue tomorrow, although the weather does not look promising. Winds from 2-4 knots are forecast. But as wed have seen this week, anything can happen on the River Neva.

Leader board after two days – six races

1st The Wave, Muscat 46 points

2nd Alinghi 43 points

3rd= Emirates Team New Zealand, 40 points

3rd= Realstone, 40 points

5th J.P Morgan BAR, 35 points

6th SAP Extreme Sailing Team, 31 points

7th Groupama, 27 points

8th GAC Pindar, 22 points

9th Oman Air, 21 points

10th Gazprom Team Russia, 17 points

11th Red Bull Sailing Team, 12 points

12th Russian First, 5 points


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