Scouting New Territory

Joe ‘Coop’ Cooper

Tiverton, Rhode Island is a quiet village on the east bank of the Sakonnet River, opposite Portsmouth. If you cross the Sakonnet River Bridge, you’re driving over and through Tiverton. It has some nice old Victorian houses, a convenience store and a few boatyards south of the bridge. On the north side, there are mixed businesses and houses en route to Fall River the back way. 

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Comin' Round

Joe ‘Coop’ Cooper

I’ve come full circle. I started out as a small kid, a “tot” as my Dad often referred to me, on a sandy beach with small boats. Now I am instructing small kids in small boats on a sandy beach.

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Feel The Force

Joe ‘Coop’ Cooper

When one thinks of a “teacher” one thinks, if one considers it at all, of a one-way flow of information, a “download” in today’s parlance. As anyone who has taught anything for more than ten seconds knows, that is not true. It is even less true when teaching something as integrated as sailing to kids as young as five. Sailing requires that the brain process multiple inputs received from the feel receptors around the body, and a sense of the outcomes of time and distance calculations. 

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Block Island, Racing and Double-Handed Sailing

Joe ‘Coop’ Cooper

Picture this: You’re sitting around the club bar swapping sea stories. After a pause in the discussion, maybe for another sip, someone starts speaking again and you hear “Block Island Race Week” and “double-handed sailing.” You sink back into your reverie and take another sip. “I’m not a racer,” you think. Well, apart from the suppression of the natural competitive traits of the human race, which I will ignore, I recommend you pay attention to the second part of the phrase: “doublehanded.”

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Open Class(room)

Joe ‘Coop’ Cooper

The scene: A lovely Sunday afternoon on our favorite body of water…steering our boat upwind. The sails are trimmed just so, the boat is at about 12-15 degrees of heel, feels great and you know it is going “fast” without looking at the TV on the binnacle. Quick question: How many disciplines of science and math are being employed in this scene? Answer: Lots.

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Double Up!

Joe ‘Coop’ Cooper

During my time selling sails I would frequently encounter a prospective client who would say something along the lines of, “I don’t need anything fancy – I’m not a racer…” Ah huh. My response would usually be the gag about the definition of a race being two boats within sight of each other. C’mon, fess up! When was the last time you were reaching along somewhere and a boat of similar size and sail area started to sail past you and you did not look around or at the sails and wonder if there was something you could do to go faster? I know you did because you would tell me a few weeks later when I called to see how the new sail was working out. “Wow, the sail is great. The boat feels different and we sailed past…(fill in the blanks)."

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Technological Trickle-down

Joe ‘Coop’ Cooper

The America’s Cup is and has always has been a race of technology. From the very beginning, competitors racing for the trophy that was renamed for the black schooner which so thoroughly trounced the competition that the Queen’s attendant was obliged to utter those immortal words, “Your majesty, there is no second” (a phrase that still gives me goose bumps) used superior technology to win. From America’s hull shape and sails to Bondy’s (well, Bob Miller’s) wing keel on Australia II, the boffins have had a hand in the outcome of the racing to a degree unmatched in other sailing events.

 

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Stay On The Boat!

Joe ‘Coop’ Cooper

MAN OVERBOARD!!! There can be no more penetrating cry heard aboard a boat. Thus drills, techniques and equipment for recovering a M.O.B. are at the forefront of any seminar on offshore sailing. We are all admonished to wear life jackets when afloat, but a life jacket does not help us stay on the boat.

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Sailing Therapy

Joe ‘Coop’ Cooper

Early in October, Sail Newport hosted the 11th edition of the Sail for Hope regatta. Sail for Pride, as it was originally called, was put together in the aftermath of the attack on the twin towers in 2001. The name was changed to Sail for Hope, in part to reflect the Rhode Island State motto and has continued as an annual event, a ‘last blast’ around Jamestown with fundraising on behalf of different charities. This year’s beneficiaries were the Wounded Warrior Project and the Rhode Island Chapter of the Red Cross.

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