BIRW 2018

Coming About

March 2018 WindCheck CoverI’ve had a difficult time putting this month’s Editor’s Log together. Ironically, I am often forced to leave this space blank until the myriad other items on my monthly list have been checked off. Yet I’ve not been struggling with time management, but instead how best to explain all of the emotions that are going through my head at this time.

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Letter: Send it!

Jim Hanh and FamilyDear Sailing Community,

The overwhelming response and generosity to Jim Hahn’s GoFundMe page ( has been a powerful cog in Jim’s recovery. Watching the fund jump to over $100,000 in under 48 hours and reading the thoughtful comments put Jim and his family into full-send mode. 

Jim’s catastrophic skiing accident on February 3 left him paralyzed from the waist down, and a GoFundMe page was quickly established to ensure that he can one day return to his life as the well-known energetic Ronstan traveling salesman, a sailor with a wealth of nautical knowledge and jokes, and the consummate cheerleader for his family (his wife Alix is the two-time International Women’s Keelboat champion and his son Nick is an American Yacht Club Optimist sailor).

Jim is already making great progress in physical therapy and while the Hahn’s course has been changed forever, the wave of support from the sailing community – well beyond what we originally hoped – is helping them navigate their new reality. Please know your good vibes and well wishes are fueling Jim’s recovery and giving them all the strength to get through today and look towards future days on the water.

With great appreciation and of course, Send it!

Carolyn Russell, Meghan Hopkins, and Jennifer Leary

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Letter: Forward Thinking

Editor’s note: The On Watch article in our January/February issue, about Abby Smith of New England Boatworks, highlighted a remarkable person who’s dedicated to the future of Rhode Island’s marine industry, as well as a company that’s built of some of the fastest, most beautiful custom boats on the water while leading the way in ocean stewardship.


What a wonderful article. You are a true asset to our industry and sport. Keep thinking and rethinking ideas for moving forward environmentally.

Martha Parker, Newport, RI


The staff of New England Boatworks, the largest Clean Marina in Rhode Island, poses with a Trash Skimmer (provided by Clean Ocean Access with funding from 11th Hour Racing) at the company’s facility in Portsmouth.  © New England Boatworks
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Letter: Reflections

I love the content and format of WindCheck. I am a Rhodes 19 racer/sailor, and dabble in other sailing opportunities whenever I can. My sailing experiences are rooted in two seasons of Mirror dinghy racing with my dad on the Swan River (fresh water bay) in Perth, Western Australia as a young teen in 1970 - 1972. On the line with over 50 other Mirrors, we got up close and personal with hundreds of other racers from small boats up to America’s Cup wannabe Challengers.

Your magazine fills a void in the region, for those of us interested in sailing to keep up with other events and happenings. The ‘On Watch’ and Editor’s Log are where I start. I sail out of the Coasters Harbor Navy Yacht Club now, with a daysailer parked in the backyard until I can stop the day job.

See you on the water,

David Dill, PE, Warwick, RI

David – Thank you for the kind words. Our intrepid Contributing Editor Joe Cooper hails from Sydney, and would likely enjoy blowin’ the froth off a couple with you.


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To-Do List

WindCheck cover January/February 2018I dislike the use of the term ‘Bucket List’ to order those events or experiences we wish to do before it’s ‘too late.’ We all have things we’d love to see and accomplish, and regardless, everything we do is on our so-called bucket list because, well, you ain’t gonna summit Everest after you’ve kicked it unless someone carries you up there in a tin can. I have my, call it, ‘to-do list’ and Everest is nowhere on it. But there is some adventure and challenge, most of which involves sailing in some form or fashion. Go figure.

On the cover: James “T” Thieler’s DN iceboat at the completion of a high speed spinout during the 2016 DN North American Championships.  © John Stanton
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Letter: Women Offshore

On behalf of Riverside Yacht Club, I would like to thank you for the donation of WindCheck magazines to our “Women Offshore” event, as well as advertising it and posting on Facebook. The event was a great success. We had 60 attendees (mostly women, three guys), and they came from as far as Nyack, Kingston and Long Island, NY and Newport, RI. We had women sailors who were club affiliated as well as non-club affiliate, and ages from 17 to 77. I think your advertising had a lot to do with that! It is the donations from sponsors like yourself that really helps to round out an event, and we thank you for them. 


Cynny Smith, Chairperson, Women’s Sailing, Riverside Yacht Club, Greenwich, CT

Cynny – Thank you for the kind words, and congratulations on a successful event! We’re always happy to promote events such as Women Offshore, and if you’re hosting it again this year we’d love to publish a report and photos

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Letter: Out There Learning Early

Editor’s note: In our October 2017 issue, 10-year-old Colin Shearley wrote about his experience aboard Warrior, a Volvo Ocean 70 that serves as the flagship of the Warrior Sailing Program. Contributing Editor Joe Cooper, who made Colin’s amazing experience possible, posted the story to WindCheck’s Facebook page.

Awesome to see such young ones out there learning early! I’m sure those two are going to be quite the sailors later in life. Very cool that they are learning the ins and outs of being on a boat at such an early age. Thanks for the great post! It has inspired my 12-year-old to want to learn more about sailing.

Julie Tootser, via email

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Sailing: The Great Provider

WindCheck November/December 2017I’ve found that when one is laid up for a period of time, the first thing one tends to do is catch up on what feels like years of missed sleep. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Whether the demands of publishing deadlines, up-too-early active children, ever-present racing watch changes, or countless other reasons, many of us both rise early and burn the midnight oil. To be able to sleep for more than four hours at a clip is a luxury I’d been longing to enjoy for quite some time. The second thing one does, once rested, is to begin to stir. When you’re forced into what feels like latency, you really start to ask yourself to be careful what you wish for.

On the cover: Vestas 11th Hour Racing, Rhode Island’s home team in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, was victorious in Leg 1 between Alicante, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal. © James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race
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Letter: An Inspiration to the World

Editor’s note: Cliff Crowley’s ‘On Watch’ article about Chris O’Brien in our August issue is one of the most inspiring stories we’ve ever published. 

It is indeed very inspiring to see patients progress and hit their functional goals. As a group of Filipino American physical therapists who have made the USA our home and practice site, we continually meet challenging cases like Chris O’Brien’s. It is a struggle to meet their demands for skilled PT while at the same time addressing the multitude of medical comorbidities of each patient. We were inspired to form a group and bond together to share best practices in our profession.

Continue being an inspiration to the world, Chris! We are rooting for your win in your next regatta adventures!

Lovelia Horn, via email

To learn more about the Academy of Filipino American Physical Therapists, visit

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Letter: Keeping a Bright Light

Editor’s note: In our October issue, 10-year-old Colin Shearley recounted his experience aboard the flagship of the Warrior Sailing Program, the Volvo Ocean 70 Warrior. The story prompted a response from Warwick Tompkins, a longtime friend and shipmate of Contributing Editor Joe Cooper who is known to his many friends as “Commodore.” In Coop’s words, Tompkins is “one of, if not THE iconic sailor of the second half of the 20th century. In his prime he was way ahead of Blake, Coutts, and all the rest.”

Colin ShearleyThis is clearly an unusual young man. It is likely he will do well wherever he goes in future. So far as the sailing scene is concerned, I very much hope he discovers, or is shown, aspects of the sport other than outrageously expensive, modern, and very fast racing machines.

After a grueling day on the grinders, Colin Shearley has a well-earned kip on Warrior.   © Joe Cooper/

Further, beside the social side of sailing, in the interest of keeping such a bright light in “our midst,” it would be well were he to find many of the other aspects of sailing, such as overnight camping and exploring in small, easily purchased, maintained and handled vessels. There is so very much more to sailing than the competitive side which captures most of our attention. It is great that Joe has taken the lad under his wing; Joe grew up with many of the experiences to which I refer, and knows their merits intimately. 

Yours in celebration of intellect and learning,

Warwick Tompkins, Mill Valley, CA

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WindCheck March 2018 issue download