Karma Get Me

By Joe Cooper

I am involved in a variety of “Coop’s Kapers” that bring young men and women together with big boats. Typical of these numerous instant Kapers was a phone call from the owner of Falcon 2000, a 15-year-old, 80-foot maxi, detuned and refitted as a fast, comfy cruising boat, to “bring some of your kids out for a sail.” I duly sent the Bat Signal and showed up with half a dozen of the Prout Sailing Team, whose skill range varies from a single 8-week high school season in 420s up to one young man who is very skilled. Cary, the owner, has his own very methodical safety briefing prior to leaving the mooring. He usually has other folks along too, so we were 10 or 12 in all.

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High-Value Time

By Joe Cooper

Friday morning of Block Island Race Week, I was on the press boat riding out to the Red Circle. I was in company with three photographers, none of whom I had previously known, and their bags of expensive camera kit. We were yakking about the week, the weather, the pictures and so on. I asked them, politely, were they on retainer for the race, magazines or other contractors, or out here on their own dime? “Oh no, our own dime,” all three laughed. One shooter lived on Block and one was from Boston, but one came from Atlanta. On her own dime, with all that stuff?

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Bond, Alan Bond

September 26, 1983, about 1700 on Rhode Island Sound. Unless you were sailing in the early 1980s or are an aficionado of international business capers gone south, there’s no reason why that time and location or the name Alan Bond ought to resonate. If either of the above criteria applies, the man universally known as Bondy needs no introduction. The fireball of a man who changed the course of sailing, at least the America’s Cup, died 02 June of complications following heart surgery.

Bondy sits atop a long list of gentlemen and characters involved in the America’s Cup as the first winner to take it from the New York Yacht Club. He could be at times the former and was always the latter. I worked for him as the boat captain on Australia (NOT Australia 1) from July 1979 through October 1980, and his crossing the bar brought back some memories of this time with him and others who had known him.

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“Know yourself, know each other”

Joe Cooper BrunelOpening up my computer late morning on the Tuesday of the Newport Stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race, I saw an email from WindCheck. “Hmm, Zep looking for June” (Coop’s Corner), I thought. When I opened the email the tone resembled that of a cable from a late 1930s Dashiell Hammett “Whodunnit” and read, roughly: “WindCheck invited for interview and sail on Brunel tomorrow STOP can you go STOP answer needed by 1400 today, Anne.”

Team Brunel’s success in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 is due in large part to the guidance of their Sports Psychologist, Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel.  © Stephen Cloutier/PhotoGroup.us
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Child’s Play

By Joe Cooper

Despite this year being a bit remarkable, with Newport Harbor iced in, by mid-March all was clear. So, the Prout School team did not have to trade the 420s for DN iceboats. This is good news because we moved to Sail Newport this spring. After several years of watching the high school sailing population around Aquidneck Island/Newport Harbor growing, it was obvious that this was where the local high school sailing action was.

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Full-On in Newport: The VOR Comes to Town

By Joe Cooper

Most people reading this will know that the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 is coming to Newport, Rhode Island in early May. For 12 days, from May 5 to the start of the transtlantic leg to Lisbon on May 17, the Race Village will be open at Fort Adams State Park. To the majority of sailors/spectators, the VOR is a sailboat race, albeit a grueling circumnavigation, often at hair-on-fire speeds. But behind the scenes, the VOR is big money in action.

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"Hey, You Can't Do That!"

By Joe Cooper

By any measure, sailing is a male-dominated activity. This is slowly changing. In over 35 years in the sail & boat game I had not had one woman call me to inquire about equipment for herself. Yet in the past 12 months I’ve received calls from four women, and after chatting for a few minutes it was obvious they were shopping on their own account for sails for their own boats.

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Seamanship: A Fading Art?

By Joe Cooper

Paul Hignard Class40 BruneauYears ago, I attended a presentation at which Buddy Melges was the speaker. He had just come off winning the America’s Cup and was full of that hearty Midwest “Aw, shucks” that is part of his persona. His opening statement was his classic: “Ya know, Zenda is not at the end of the world, but you can see it from there.” I was reminded of this vision in late November when it seems all the sailing world, and a reasonable portion of the non-sailing world, was watching the results of the Team Vestas Wind guys plowing into a

True Grit: Nineteen-year-old French skipper Paul Hignard, sailing his Class40 Bruneau singlehanded in the Route du Rhum, completed the 3,542 nautical mile race under jury rig after his mast broke 370 miles from the finish.   © Pen Duick

reef, seemingly at the end of the world, or at least within sight of it. During breaks from watching this mini-drama unfold and wondering what happened, I clicked over to the Route du Rhum site to see what was going on with the tail-enders in this solo Transatlantic race. As it happened, the news that moment was a Class40 with a broken mast was closing in on the finish. That got my attention.

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Keep It Clean!

By Joe Cooper

Clean Ocean AccessThose of us who get to play on the water are remarkable lucky. We have experiences the land-bound do not. We all know what these experiences and moments are, for each of us. That’s the good news. The bad news is we also see the refuse that is improperly discarded and ultimately finds its way to the sea.

One of the many reasons we carpetbaggers settle in Newport is it is a great place to be if you like being in, on and around water. Since we have such a passion for the water, it’s natural for us to get a bit grumpy when we see trash piled up anywhere, and particularly around the waterfront.

This is my collection after 30 minutes picking up trash at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Middletown, RI. Clean Ocean Access and the Refuge joined forces on a program where the coastline of the Refuge is divided into sections and COA volunteers adopt each section. Once a month, on their own schedule each section “owner” does a clean up of “their” section. My section is only 300 yards along the Sakonnet River and this debris, taken from a 15-foot square, did not put a dent in the totality of rubbish I saw on the shoreline.   © Joe Cooper

There are several groups in Newport that were founded by people with a desire to do something about this trash in the ocean problem. I am sure there are many more, but these are four I interact with in Newport, RI.

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Autumn Song

By Joe Cooper

As I write this column, it is blowing 25-30 from the northeast at Buzzards Tower. The clouds out my window are low, grey and windy. It is cool, too chilly. Fall is here. Autumn: the end of summer. The end of shorts and T-shirts, of sunset cocktails and of watching the kids mess around in boats. The evenings, curled up in the cabin, the glow of the lamp coloring the glass of red an even more tasty color. Maybe some favourite music is playing, or maybe just the sounds of the anchorage filter down the hatch. A new set of memories are done and dusted and “saved as” into the remote hard drive of our minds.

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