Editor’s Note: Many readers enjoyed our interview with author and safety at sea advocate John Rousmaniere and we recently received this letter:
Dear Mr. Rousmaniere,
Wonderful interview and much appreciated emphasis on safety. I just finished reading Fastnet, Force 10. Thank you for the poignant and riveting story of the Fastnet Race of 1979. As a “landlubber,” your account gifted me a better understanding of the sport of sailing, while imparting to me a profound respect for those men and women who fully engage their love of sailing, providing us armchair sailors with a sense of something we’ve never experienced.Read more
I’m Joe Rousmaniere, one of John’s many younger brothers. I am now a weekend sailor-one weekend every 15 years-but when I was a kid we went sailing with John often enough, usually when he couldn’t find any other crew.
Seared into my memory was a time we had a nice easy passage south on the Cape Cod Canal, the sun was warm and all was smooth… When we came out into Buzzard’s Bay we were met with a violent squall and terrifying waves. Going below and curling up in a bunk not being an option for me, John shouted at me to do this and do that, including a death defying sail change on the foredeck that left me a wreck.
All throughout he was enthusing about how we were handling the boat and the wind and the seas. He actually enjoyed it! Here it is 50 years later and he still enjoys it! Good on him.
Read our interview with John.
The author of 30 books about history and sailing including The Annapolis Book of Seamanship, Fastnet, Force 10 and A Berth To Bermuda, writer, editor and historian John Rousmaniere (pronounced “room-an-ear”) is one of the creators of safety at sea seminars. We recently sat down with John to discuss his life in sailing, the Newport Bermuda Race, lessons learned from tragedies on the water, and being safe out there.
John Rousmaniere at the helm of Brian Swiggett’s Hinckley Sou’wester 42 Zest during a return trip from Bermuda © Chip Adams
WindCheck: Where did you grow up?
John Rousmaniere: I was raised in Cincinnati, and I have six brothers and a sister. We moved east to my father’s boyhood home of Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island when I was 10. My father had sailed very successfully as a kid, so we started sailing as soon as we got there. I had a Blue Jay that I raced for four or five years, and we’d charter a boat and go cruising every summer.Read more
By John Rousmaniere
With the 50th Newport Bermuda Race coming up in 2016, I’ve been gathering stories of past “Thrashes to the Onion Patch”—a nickname inspired by the race’s frequent demanding conditions and Bermuda’s agricultural history. Here we go back to the first race, when the idea of amateur sailors going to sea in normal boats was widely considered insane.