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November 8, 2017

Reader Submission: Daysail on the Bay

Jim Rumer’s cutter-rigged Herreshoff yawl Royono was lookin’ good while racing in the Leukemia Cup on October 22.

© Vikas Kapur

Vikas Kapur shared with us these scenes of a beautiful, sunny day in October. "We were pleasure-sailing and did get to see a bit of the racing of the Leukemia Cup alongside Angel Island," he writes. "The big ketch was very impressive."

The crew, left to right, were Kapur’s longtime friends Ken, Ian, Marcie and Martin. "The gentleman in shorts is actually a proud representative of a seafaring nation — New Zealand — although he’s lived here many years."

© 2017 Vikas Kapur

"We were on Ry Whitt, a Jeanneau 40 we chartered from Modern Sailing in Sausalito (I’ve been a member there for about 10+ years)."

A Nacra catamaran out sailing in a nice breeze near the Golden Gate Bridge.

© Vikas Kapur

Racing for Personal Best

The recent New York City marathon may have a lesson for sailboat racing and those seeking the ever-elusive ‘fair’ rating rule. Last weekend’s New York Marathon had 50,643 competitors, with the fastest time coming in at a quick 2 hours, 10 minutes and 53 seconds. And for the first time in 40 years, an American, Shalane Flanagan, won the women’s division. But the average time for all competitors was 4 hours and 37 minutes.

Here’s a picture of thousands of ‘losers’ having a great day.

© 2017 TCS New York City Marathon 2017

The point? About 51,000 of the competitors have no chance of winning and don’t care. They’re out there because they love the challenge and just want to see how they measure up against the clock and some other competitors. There isn’t anyone trying to figure out some rating rule to give everyone a ‘fair’ shot at winning.

The Vendée Globe is similar. There are a handful of competitors with the time, money and skill for a shot at the podium. The rest are doing it for the challenge, the camaraderie and simply to see how well they can do. The last boat in can finish weeks after the first.

Dockside village for the 2016 Vendée Globe. Only a few boats have a real shot at the top. But if this is your game, wouldn’t you want to be there?

© Vendée Globe

Recreational racing fleets might grow if people see it as an opportunity for a personal challenge, improving skills, enjoying a great day of sailing and a chance to be with friends. If you’re one of the few with the time, money and skill who can consistently rise to the top, that’s terrific. For the rest, it’s probably not worth chasing a magical rating rule to improve your results. Just enjoy the challenge and the sail.

Running, sailing — it’s all for fun. Enjoy it.

© TCS New York City Marathon

Why do you race? We’d like to know. In the video below: What does it feel like to be DFL in the New York Marathon? Pretty good, actually. 

Latitude Movie Club: ‘Cast Away’?

We’d like to introduce a few films that wouldn’t necessarily be considered ‘sailing movies’, but have references to, or underlying hints of sailing and/ or seamanship. Back in August, when we first solicited readers for their favorite sailing films, Lee Johnson wrote:

“My favorite sailing movie is Cast Away, a Robert Zemeckis film starring Tom Hanks, which doesn’t have much actual sailing in it, other than the one scene where Hanks’ character, Chuck Noland, tops the breakers to escape the island with his raft using a broken outhouse [portable toilet] shell for a sail. The reason I call this a ‘sailing movie’, however, is because Noland shows that the skills and life lessons of an avid sailor can be both life saving and life affirming.

“What? You didn’t catch the fact that Noland is a sailor? It comes about 14 minutes into the movie. Chuck and Kelly Frears (played by Helen Hunt) are asleep with the TV on. The camera pans across the room, showing a trophy shelf where Noland’s sailing school certificate and pickle dishes are displayed. That’s how the Fed Ex guy knows enough about buoyancy, sail power, and weather patterns to plot his escape and build his raft. Indeed, the whole movie is a testament to the sailor’s core skill of ‘adaptive attunement’ — successfully dealing with a changing external set of circumstances.”

© 20th Century Fox Screenshot by Lee Johnson

And what about What About Bob?, which has a brief but (yes, we’ll say it) iconic sailing scene:

After returning to shore, Bill Murray exclaims: “I sail. I’m a sailor! Is this a breakthrough, that I’m a sailor? That I sail now?”

Reader Michael Moen had another offbeat suggestion: “I’d like to nominate The Four Seasons,” the 1981 film written, directed and staring Alan Alda and co-starring Carol Burnett. “The segment on charter rental with friends, acquaintances, and strangers is a valuable lesson to us all on accommodation of others.”

And Tom Varely wrote: “There is one movie that is quite overlooked, and quite ridiculous: Cabin Boy. Chris Elliott is the absolute best playing his role as a ‘Fancy Lad,’ and David Letterman’s cameo as a sock-monkey salesman is epic (“Big girls have big appetites!”). And yes, we have a copy on our boat, along with the ever-beloved Captain Ron. (And of course, Dogtown and Z Boys).”

Additional movie suggestions include Wake of the Red Witch, staring John Wayne, and featuring Duke Kahanamoku, the godfather of modern surfing, and The Sea Wolf, starring Edward G. Robinson and adapted from Jack London’s novel of the same name.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Please send them here.

Clagett Boat Grant Taking Applications

2.4mRs sailing in the C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Clinic on Narragansett Bay.

© 2017 Rodrigo Fernandez / Clagett Clinic and Regatta

The C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta invites North American community sailing programs and other sailing organizations aimed at expanding opportunities for sailors with adaptive needs to apply for the 2017 Clagett Boat Grant Program.

On offer for this second Clagett Boat Grant Program will be up to two race-ready 2.4mR boats with sails and trailer. Readers may recall that the 2.4mR is the design that former Marinite pro sailor Dee Smith raced in the Rio Paralympics. The singlehanded 2.4mR has been retained as the boat for the bid to reinstate sailing to the Paralympic Games (sailing is out for the 2020 Paralympics).

According to the US 2.4 Meter website, "The 2.4mR is 13 feet, 8 inches long. Designed for competitive sailing, it is easily handled, trailered, launched and stored." Sometimes called a Mini-12, the boat was originally designed to be a scaled-down Six Metre. Its 3.3-ft draft and ballasted fixed keel make it less sensitive to crew weight than a dinghy and virtually capsize-proof.

© 2017 Rodrigo Fernandez / Clagett Clinic and Regatta

"Applications can be for one or both boats depending on the needs of the organization applying," announced Judy McLennan, Clagett co-founder and president. "We raised the funds to purchase the two boats through a grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation and the generosity of supporters at the annual Clagett fundraiser."

The deadline for applications is November 30, 2017. For information about the Clagett Boat Grant Program application, contact Sara Klik. For more information about Clagett, visit

Who was the greatest American singlehanded round-the-world sailor? Do Americans even compete in races like the Vendée Globe or the Velux 5 Oceans Race (formerly known as the BOC Challenge)?