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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“My Kids”

By Joe Cooper

At the conclusion of the Ida Lewis Distance Race in August, I brought the Class40 Icarus back to the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY, through whose great graces we were able to use her in the Storm Trysail Foundation Junior Safety at Sea seminars and the Ida Race. When I got home the next evening, I was totally pooped. I had been going non-stop since January in about seven volunteer things, almost all to do with getting kids sailing. I was thinking, “OK, something’s gotta give here. I need to cut back on some of this.”

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Coop’s Line on the VOR

By Joe Cooper

Volvo Ocean 65If you are going to start tossing “Who’s gonna win the Volvo Ocean Race?” darts now, you better have an idea of the background for criteria on how you decide.

The one-design Volvo Ocean 65s (pictured in the recent Round Britain & Ireland Race) are identical in every way, from hulls and rigs to cleats and sheet bags. The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 will be won by the team with the best sailors, not the biggest budget.  © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race
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Kids on Boats, Again…or still?

By Joe Cooper

Youth Sailing by Joe CooperJust in case this is your first reading of Coop’s Corner, a word of advice: If you are not interested in learning the myriad ways you can get involved with introducing teenagers (and younger) to sailing on something with an interior, a head, a galley and bunks, aka a Big Boat, skip this column. If you think this is a good and worthwhile thing to be doing, read on.

© Joe Cooper
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STOKED!!!

By Joe Cooper

Stoked is a surfing term meaning abso-bloody-lutely, fan-bloody-tastic. It is used when you see or do (as in surfing) something that knocks yer socks, shoes and the hair on your calves off.

One occasionally hears a story along the lines of: Dad takes (6-year-old) kid to first baseball game, kid has a great time, gets his baseball autographed by a famous player and goes home, stoked, and hooked for life. Injecting kids with the sailing bug one at a time is tedious work, but if that is the way it’s got be done, so be it.

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And Not To Yield

By Joe Cooper

The scene: a yacht club bar after Tuesday night beer can racing The action: sitting around with beers, lying about what happened in the race. There is a pause in the dialogue. One of the younger guys pipes up: “Hey, did you see the story in ‘butt about Ryan Breymaier? Blank looks all around. “Who?” another asks. “Yeah, he just won the New York to Barcelona Race.” “The wha?” is the collective response.

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Girls’ Goals

On a Wednesday in early May, I responded to the Bat Signal from Sail Newport that Team SCA, the all-women team entered in this year’s Volvo Ocean Race, was approaching Newport on their first transatlantic training sail and we ought to go out to Brenton Point State Park to cheer them in. Pulling into the parking lot, I joined the throng of five other cars pursuing that age-old activity so beloved of male sailors in Newport: waiting for the girls. I did not see them inbound after a few sweeps of the hazy horizon, so I sat in the car gazing out across the post-sunset but not yet fully dark view to Point Judith.

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Junior Sailing, Yacht Clubs and the VOR

 charlie_enright.jpg

Anyone reading this ought to join me in giving Charlie Enright a big round of applause. Who? Unless you follow the vagaries of the high-test ocean racing world, or live in Newport or Bristol, RI, you are probably wondering if this Enright guy is Red Sox or Yankees? By proximity he is Red Sox, but that is irrelevant. So then, why am I applauding? Two reasons: a) He has managed to pull off a lifetime dream in seven years, and; b) That dream is sailing in the Volvo Ocean Race as skipper of the only real live U.S.-crewed boat in the VOR in a long time. (The boat is sponsored by Alvimedica, a medical technology company based in Turkey.) Did I mention he is 29?

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