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Life Lessons from Sailing

By Joe Cooper

The DeLorean is in Doc’s garage again for (more) work on the flux capacitor, so we will have to do this newer movie-style. Grab a hand towel, go upstairs into the special secret room, known only to you and where you remember things, and stick yer head in the Pensive.

We are back in the middle 1950s, somewhere on Long Island Sound. We – you – are sailing with your father in an overnight race for the first time. You are young, and it is a great adventure. The boat is a lovely Sparkman & Stephens-designed (of course), Nevins-built 45-footer that is Dad’s pride and joy. You’ve sailed on her a lot, family cruises and such, but this is the first time you’ve been aboard for a race. Comes time for you to go off watch, and you reluctantly give up your spot, in the cockpit, immediately aft of your father’s steering position. This is your favourite spot because you can smell Dad, particularly his wool sweater. As you settle into the pilot berth, you take stock of the inside of the cabin.

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Hazy Memories

By Joe Cooper

Summer in Newport is spelt SAILING. Apart from the usual “even year” events – the Bermuda Race (go MudRatz!!!) and the Offshore 160 – there are the annual events. The (10) NYYC regattas, weekday evening sailing: Monday (sport boats); Tuesday & Wednesday (Shields & PHRF); and Thursday (J/24s); the Ida Lewis Distance Race, presently with 49 entries, a week out as I write. Then there’s the New England Solo Twin, and currently, the I420 World Championship at Sail Newport. And there’s still all of September to go.

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Kaper Komplete.

By Joe Cooper

Kelsey Britton, an instructor at the IYRS School of Technology & Trades, steps aboard the lovingly restored Kate.   Patient and regular readers will recall my observations on the Community that is sailing. The difference in arriving in a town by car or by boat is vast. Newport is fortunate in that all of the folks in the sailing game basically respond the same way. “Oh, that broke? Well, I have a size-three, double-flange, left-handed framus-dingus, with low hours in it, that will work if you want it…call me.” Happens all the time, right?

Kelsey Britton, an instructor at the IYRS School of Technology & Trades, steps aboard the lovingly restored Kate.   © Joe Cooper/joecoopersailing.com
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Nurturing Sailors... One at a Time, if Necessary

By Joe Cooper & Colin Shearley

Nick DanaThere are a number of disconnected and independent Kapers afoot around the waterfront, all aimed at getting young people, teenagers and college kids interested in, and more time on, ‘big boats.’ On Long Island Sound, MudRatz and the Young American Sailing Academy are the two most obvious. On Narragansett Bay, Newport, Conanicut and Ida Lewis Yacht Clubs have programs of various densities aimed at getting this cohort sailing time without the stress of dinghy sailing, and Sail Newport is developing a similar program. The Storm Trysail Foundation and their Junior Safety-at-Sea Seminars spread the word up and down the East Coast, and efforts are underway in the Great Lakes and West Coast to grow this program. In a number of clubs, there are individual members who will take young sailors out in ones and twos on an infrequent basis with no really planned and executed instruction nor really any captured, measurable results. Outside these efforts, all is desert.

While he’s keen to race big boats and perhaps one day have a job like Vestas 11th Hour Racing bowman Nick Dana (pictured here at the start of Leg 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18), 11-year-old Colin Shearley hopes the sport takes steps to improve safety.   © Stephen Cloutier/photogroup.us
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When the Force IS with You

By Joe Cooper

The entrance to Fort Adams, and Sail Newport, is a right-hand turn off Harrison Avenue in Newport, RI, on the way to Brenton Point and Castle Hill. There’s a slight rise as one heads north and as you crest the rise and gaze across Brenton Cove, one feels as an 18th Century general sitting on his horse on top of the hill surveying his troops, might. In my somewhat less martial view, this pause gives me the first intelligence as to what kind of day it will be for High School sailing.

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The Magic Flute

By Joe Cooper

As a kid, when I was home from school with some illness, my favorite pastime was reading comics. I guess it was the fantasy land of another world that took me away from feeling crappy that did the trick. I was reminded of this escapist vein last week.

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Tales of New York

By Joe Cooper

In mid-March, I was at home riding out the third blow in as many weeks. Absent electricity for a few hours, I was looking for a simple read. I discovered a little book that had floated to the surface recently. It is thin, just merely 56 pages so, just the right size, and a lovely read, by E.B. White. This little picture window in words is called Here is New York. Reading this lovely little snapshot of New York City, I was reminded the first time I was there, late May of 1980.

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Play nice, share yer toys, help yer mates.

By Joe Cooper

John Bixby, Kelsey Britton and Barry RipleyAt the conclusion of the last edition’s column we were hanging by our fingernails off the edge of the cliff, with small stones, dirt and dust blowing by us on their way to the bottom of the canyon below, and our hero was just about to embark on a Kaper. Well, it turns out the Hero is a Heroine.

Key players in Coop’s latest Kaper include (l – r) John Bixby, Kelsey Britton and Barry Ripley.   © Joe Cooper/JoeCooperSailing.com

But first, let me give you the “previously on The West Wing” basso voiceover. Newport Yacht Club had taken the donation of a J/22. It needed some work. I had made contact with ‘our heroine,’ one of the instructors at the IYRS School of Technology & Trades, who, when asked if she and her students would be interested in fixing said J/22, said “Yup.” And now yer up to speed.

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Community. Sailing.

By Joe Cooper

As sailors we know, at some level, that we are part of a remarkable community. If you drive into a new town and drive down to the docks, you will look at the boats more or less by yourself, generally as a stranger, an outsider, a landsman. If on the other hand you arrive by boat, within about 20 minutes of turning off the engine or putting the sail cover on you will know half the other sailors on the dock. You will be exchanging comments about the varnish, how you like the sun panel or the wind turbine on the stern, the boat’s performance, the Bimini, the GPS TV on the binnacle, who you know who has the same (fill in the blank)…and so on. I was reminded of this very communal aspect of sailors last Halloween.

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Figure It Eight

By Joe Cooper

I am sitting in an armchair, a nice, thick, plush comfy one, looking out through the glass doors of the Clan Cottage in Michigan on Lake Huron. It is blowing hard, 30 plus, from the northeast, for close to 24 hours. The lake is that particular color of pewter slate grey that big water gets on days like this. It is all grey but with slight variation, in shade, only a few Pantone numbers different, yet the differences are visible to the eye. All the way to the near razor sharp horizon, this greyness is flecked with white. Farthest out there are little drops of white scattered here and there. In the middle distance, the dots manifest into obvious breaking whitecaps. Closer inshore the waves, something around four feet at the biggest, are breaking on the outside sandbars and the white gashes are long and thickish. The whole scene looks like Jackson Pollock warming up.

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Click here to download WindCheck's November/December 2018 issue. (File is 5MB)

 

WindCheck October 2018

Click here to download WindCheck's October 2018 issue. (File is 5MB)