Two exciting events took place in the sailing world this past week. Gary Jobson, world renowned sailor and ESPN sailing commentator held a press conference in the Model Room of the New York YC on June 13th, the day he left for Tromso, Norway to begin his expedition to the Arctic, titled "80 Degrees North Under Sail". Sponsored by Rolex and Transderm Scop (the anti seasick patch), the voyage will be documented in a one-hour show that will air on ESPN at the end of November and again one month later.
The team of adventurers will embark on a two-week journey, titled "80 Degrees North Under Sail," battling extreme weather, Arctic wind and ice, and traveling to an area in the world that is so remote, few sailboats ever attempt to visit it. "The crew will have to take precautions to minimize health risks that include everything from frost bite and hypothermia to seasickness," said Dr. Kenneth Dardick, a travel health expert. Starting from Tromso, the team will sail 800 miles north on the treacherous Barents
Sea to Spitsbergen, the largest island of the glacial Svalbard Archipelago, which is protected by the Norwegian government. It lies north of Finland and east of the most northerly part of Greenland. On each day of the journey Jobson will post his daily log; complete with photos on www.jobsonsailing.com. Information about Arctic weather health hazards will be posted on www.transdermscop.com. While exploring the vast northern locale, the crew plans to hike, climb and ski, explore the local history and kayak the pristine Arctic waters. "This trip is a dream come true for me. The Arctic remains one of the least explored, studied and understood places on Earth," said Jobson. "It is rare for a sailboat to journey to 80 degrees north latitude due to the severe and changing ice conditions of the region. I expect we'll see a great number of animals unique to the Arctic including the great polar bear and walrus. Additionally, we are very interested in investigating the secrets of the Arctic such as glaciers and polar sea ice."
Sailing aboard the 62-foot Oyster, Oystercatcher XXIV, Jobson will take a crew of eight, including himself. Director, author and veteran sailor Roger Vaughan will write the script for the ESPN documentary. Mr. Vaughn has always been attracted to participatory journalism. He's made a parachute jump; flown in a jet on and off an aircraft carrier; crewed on the ill-fated 1979 Fastnet Race; sailed a 6500-mile leg of the Whitbread Race, and documented all of it. Accomplished marine cameraman George Johns (Auckland, N.Z.) will film the expedition. Also joining the crew are Richard Matthews (London, England), president of Oyster Marine, and bluewater veteran Jack King (Lake Toxaway, N.C.), who has been very influential in Jobson's sailing life. 80 Degree Under Sail is the third in a four-location series for the Jobson-led team of adventurers. The team has previously voyaged to the Antarctic and Cape Horn, and plans to go back to the Southern Hemisphere in the future.
The other significant event that took place this week was the Mystic Seaport Designer Recognition Rendezvous, held on Saturday and Sunday, June 16-17. Mystic Seapport is always a fun place to visit, with its village atmosphere and nautical history. The past weekend, when Olin Stephens II, one of the original co-founders of the preeminent design firm of Sparkman and Stephens, was honored, the village came alive with visitors who appreciated the long and successful history of boat design in America. Approximately 75 S & S-designed boats were displayed on land and dockside for visitors to view. Owners were available to talk with the crowds, and it is hard to determine who was having more fun during the conversation - the owners who are so very proud of their boat - or the visitors eager to hear about the design of the boat and the adventures she has experienced. Headlining the rendezvous was the Mystic Seaport's own S &S-designed 61-foot schooner used as a training vessel Brilliant, who had just returned from a 12,000 mile, ten-month transatlantic expedition. Also in the line-up were the 12-meters Courageous and Columbia; Gulfstream 30s and 36s; NY 32s; Swans, Tartan 27s and 34s, and Nevins 40s. Several Manhasset Bay area boats were part of this historic weekend. Pam/Bob Prokop and Susan/Jack Antinori, co-owners of the MBOD, Olin Express, the longest continually sailed S & S -designed boat, shipped their boat to Mystic where it was prominently displayed for all to see. Lois and Dick Jordan, members of Manhasset Bay YC, sailed their S & S 50, Whisper, from their mooring in Greenport to be a part of the festivities. And Manny Greene, owner of an S & S -designed Knickerbocker One Design (KOD) tried valiantly to be part of the weekend, but he encountered unprecedented fog and little wind, so he managed to get as far as Clinton, CT and sailed into port as dark was descending on the third day of his adventure. For his efforts, Mr. Greene received a Special Mention at the Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening. Jack Antinori and Bob Prokop also received an award for their Olin Express, as she is design #1 for Olin Stephens.
In the weeks before this event, your reporter spoke to Jack Sparkman, the son of Drake Sparkman, the co-founder along with Olin Stephens of S & S. He was looking forward to the Rendezvous because it would be "a reunion" - a gathering of people who have been a part of the long and storied history of S & S. The weekend was just that, but so much more. It was a weekend to honor Mr. Stephens, but when asked how he felt about the wonderful tributes coming his way, Mr. Stephens replied, in his unassuming way, "I so enjoy talking to the owners of the boat and hearing about the fun they have had sailing". The gift that Olin Stephens II gave to those of us at Mystic Seaport this past weekend was part ownership in the glorious history of sailing; it was a truly spectacular event.
Weekend race results were not available at press time.