There was no frostbiting on Sunday, Dece. 23, due to the holiday. Sailors will have a lot of opportunity to sail over the New Years weekend, as the 89th Annual New Years Frostbite Regatta, took place last Sunday, Dec. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 1. The Past Commodore's Race was held on the morning of Jan. 1, getting these stalwarts out early after a night of celebration. Racing continued for the rest of the fleet in the afternoon, followed by the Frostbite Annual Meeting. Due to the early holiday deadline, results of this year's regatta and Annual Meeting will be reported in next week's column.
Sir Peter Blake, the five-time Whitbread round-the-world sailor, and who won the America's Cup two times, was murdered in the Amazon earlier this month while on an environmental expedition. He was given "a sailor's send-off" before the start of the third leg of the Volvo round-the-world yacht race from Sydney to Auckland, which starts on Boxing Day, Dec. 26. Instead of heading to the start-line one by one, with each team blaring music, the eight boats in the fleet left the dock together in silence, formed a circle with their sterns just off the dock, dropped wreaths into the water and observed a minute's silence. The idea for the tribute came from Blake's close friends who are sailing in the Volvo race: Grant Dalton (Amer Sports One), Kevin Schoebridge (Tyco) and Ross Field (News Corp). According to the Volvo Ocean Race Director of Logistics, Chris Cooney, "Blake's death was a huge loss to the sailing world. Sir Peter really wrote the book of ocean racing, and the sailors really wanted to give him their own send-off - a sailor's send-off".
The start gun for the 57th Sydney Hobart yacht race and leg three of the Volvo Ocean Race was fired shortly after noon on Dec 26. For the first time in history, both fleets started simultaneously, the boats racing in the Volvo Ocean Race starting 200 meters in front the other 75 yachts, which were contesting the CYCA Sydney Hobart. Within a day of starting, severe thunderstorms off the New South Wales South Coast ripped into the leading yachts in the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, forcing one of the line honors favorites, Australian Skandia Wild Thing, and one of the favored boat for Overall IMS honors, Sting, out of the 630 nautical mile race. Wild Thing ripped her mainsail while Sting reported rigging damage as they returned north to Sydney. The harsh weather experienced by some yachts last night could continue. The Bureau of Meteorology says boats leading the race toward the Bass Strait can expect tough conditions in two to four meter swells and westerly winds of up to twenty-five knots. Severe weather forecaster for the Bureau, Kenn Batt says the overnight conditions reported were fairly typical of thunderstorms. Nine yachts were forced to retire from the race after a front formed on the southern New South Wales coast.
The fleet of boats participating in the Volvo Ocean Race also experienced severe weather. Team News Corp was hit by a waterspout overnight that left broken battens and blocks in its wake. The tornado swept over the leading yachts in the Sydney - Hobart Race leaving Kiwi offshore racing veteran and Team News Corp navigator, Ross Field, reeling. "It was an unbelievable sight and nothing like anyone has experienced before," he said. "A waterspout - tornado - came through Illbruck, Assa Abloy and ourselves giving us wind up to 58 knots. It was really scary to see this long vertical round spinning cloud charge towards us with the bottom of it sucking up water. There was nowhere to go. We dropped our main and left up a small headsail and in the meantime broke battens and blocks." Team News Corp meterologist, Nick White (NZ) commented on the event. "A waterspout is a tornado that forms over the water. It occurs under a severe thunderstorm and in the presence of cumuli-nimbus clouds. There is a potential for wind speeds of hundreds of kilometers an hour at the center of the spout. The tornado was unexpected and violent. Hot winds came off the Australian mainland and mixed with the sea-breeze to cause this phenomenon".
The following poem by John Masefield serves as a reminder of the horror September 11 - it is included so that all of us won't forget the people whose lives have been drastically changed, and who face the New Year with a heavy heart.
On Eastnor Knoll by John Masefield
SILENT are the woods, and the dim green boughs are
Hushed in the twilight: yonder, in the path through
The apple orchard, is a tired plough-boy
Calling the cows home.
A bright white star blinks, the pale moon rounds, but
Still the red, lurid wreckage of the sunset
Smoulders in smoky fire, and burns on
The misty hill-tops.
Ghostly it grows, and darker, the burning
Fades into smoke, and now the gusty oaks are
A silent army of phantoms thronging
A land of shadows.
The commodore of the Manhattan YC, Michael Fortenbaugh, whose club's dock is just one block from the devastation at ground zero, has come up with an excellent idea to keep alive the memory of the victims of the World Trade Center, pay tribute to their families, the emergency workers, New York City, and the nation. His dream, called Operation Sail, whose goal is "to have the greatest gathering of sailboats ever in the history of the harbor", is quickly turning into reality, as his grass-roots efforts have mushroomed. Five local area yacht clubs, Larchmont YC, Sheepshead Bay YC, (Brooklyn), Norwalk YC and Stamford YC (Connecticut) have already joined the Manhattan YC, as members of a newly formed organizing committee. The New York Harbor Sailing Foundation and the South Street Seaport Museum are backing the event, and Fortenbaugh is hoping to get participation from other local yacht clubs. Fortenbaugh said, "This will be a uniquely American response. Out of great tragedy and despair, a symbol of hope and beauty." Imagine how beautiful New York Harbor will look mid-day on September 14, 2002, with the sun's rays creating a seascape of light and shadow on a harbor filled with billowing sails. What a great idea! Wouldn't it be terrific if our four local yacht clubs, the Nautical Center at the library, the Manhasset Bay Sailing Foundation, our Frostbiters, all got together and supported this event?
Happy New Year to all. May the coming year keep you healthy and safe, surrounded by family and friends.