Wingsails, ODs and gender roles—Sailing News from the U.S. and Beyond

BAR RACING - 2012 - Ben Ainslie earns his AC45 miles during the recent ACWS San Francisco event
© Jon Nash / J.P.Morgan BAR
Different disciplines of sailboat racing have been nabbing headlines this week, including the America’s Cup World Series (AWCS), the Volvo Ocean Race and the London Paralympics 2012. For starters, the ACWS just concluded its first event of the 2012-2013 season on San Francisco Bay, showcasing the awesome sight of 11 boats from eight syndicates, flying hulls and trimming wingsails in both the fleet racing and match-racing sections of the event.

While many eyes were riveted on Oracle Racing’s talent-ripe boats—skippered by Russell Coutts and James Spithill—two other recent Olympic Gold Medalists also commanded attention, namely Team Korea’s Nathanial Outteridge (49er class) and J.P. Morgan BAR’s Ben Ainslie (Finn class). While Outteridge has had some previous AC45 experience, wingsail-powered catamarans were a new experience for Ainslie.

Ben Ainslie at the helm of J.P.Morgan BAR - America’s Cup World Series 2012-13
© Jon Nash / J.P.Morgan BAR

'I knew that sailing these boats would be really tough physically, especially for the crew,' reported Ainslie. 'I’ve been watching quite a few videos of the racing for a while now, knowing that I would be involved. What has struck me is the difference between what I thought was obvious and what it feels like on board. You look at people making mistakes and question why they are doing that, surely it’s obvious? But now I can tell you for sure, when you’re on the boat it’s not that easy. In fact it’s really hard. You can’t just tack on a shift or pop in a maneuver.'

And in the fully crewed, around-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, Jeni Bone has put together an interesting piece that looks at the roles—and suitability—of female sailors in this oftentimes rough-and-tumble endurance race. Interestingly, SCA, a 'global hygiene and forest company', is putting together an all-women’s crew to take on the 2014/2015 edition of the VOR aboard one of the newly announced Farr-designed 65-foot One Designs, and, predictably, there have been arguments levied from both philosophical camps.


Richard Brisius, CEO Atlant Ocean Racing AB and Kersti Strandqvist, SVP Corporate Communications SCA and SVP Corporate Sustainability SCA.
Oskar Kihlborg/Volvo Ocean Race


'It’s fantastic!' reported Adrienne Cahalan, a former VOR competitor and veteran of 20-some Sydney Hobart Races, as well as the fastest woman around the planet. 'It’s not gender-specific, the dream to race around the world. Offshore racing appeals to women the same as men for the excitement, the competitiveness, the skills needed. VOR is the peak of racing in our sport.'

Get the full scoop, including a look at Cahalan’s suggested picks for the core afterguard, inside.

And for One Design fans, don’t miss ISAF’s preview of the upcoming London Paralympics 2012, which commence on August 29th and run through September 9th, in Weymouth, UK. While competition is sure to be stout throughout all events, the 2.4mR class, in particular, could come down to a fierce battle for Gold as Heiko Kroeger (GER), Damien Seguin (FRA) and Paul Tingley (CAN) are all looking fast coming into this event.

Still, podium positions are far from assured. 'I have to just look at it as a new game,' said Tingley, who is the reigning class champion. 'Everyone's got a legitimate shot at it and I've got to go out with a strong offence and not try to defend.' More, inside.

Black12 - Newport Bucket Regatta 2012

Also inside this issue, don’t miss our coverage of the St. Moritz Match Race, the PWA Pegasus Airlines World Cup and the Extreme Sailing Series. And for a glimpse at how the fortunate few live, check out the report from the recently concluded and classically opulent Newport Bucket Regatta.

May the four winds blow you safely home,