Mention the theory of Global Warming to frostbiters who have not sailed since the New Year's Regatta and don't have much of a chance of sailing in the near future and you may want to run for cover to avoid physical harm. The Farmer's Almanac said this would be a severe winter, and this year they are on target with their predictions. Sailors forced to stay on land during this artic freeze have a few options to keep them happy. They can attend local boat shows and dream of warmer weather as they converse with the multitude of exhibitors and fellow-attendees about the newest and best boats, equipment on the market. For example, Hobie has come out with a new kind of kayak that is part of their Mirage line, called the Mirage Outback S.U.V. Advertised as "a new way to kayak," this little beauty is perfect for all of us who should be at the gym every morning pumping iron.
While most of us cannot travel to Key West to participate in their annual week-long sailing nirvana, the Terra Nova Trading Key West 2004, we can enjoy following the action via their website, www.Premiere-Racing.com. More than 3,000 lucky sailors have come from 18 countries and 32 states and have descended on the tiny island of Key West to compete in nine races in each of the 10 one-design classes and the 11 PHRF handicap classes. Four race courses are spread out over 10 miles along the south side of the island between the beach and a reef five miles offshore. A cold front that is expected will provide moderate winds during the first part of the week, followed by strong NW winds to complete the series. The Swan 45s and the C & C 99s will join the other classes for the first time this year. Sailing luminaries on the nine Nautor-built luxury racers include: Ed Baird, Brad Read, Murray Jones, Dee Smith, Howie Shiebler, Butch Ulmer, Steve Benjamin, Kevin Burnham and Leonardo Ferragamo, the Nautor Swan chief who is skipper of Courdileone. And in the Farr 40 class, top names are: Robbie Haines, Terry Hutchinson, Adrian Stead, Chris Larson, Kimo Worthington, Eric Doyle, Tom Whidden and John Cutler. Hutchinson will be working with his right arm in a sling after suffering an elbow injury in his Star boat last weekend. Also, two America's Cup principals---Alinghi tactician Brad Butterworth and Oracle helmsman Peter Holmberg, now with Alinghi---are tacticians for Daniel Meyers' Taylor 49, Numbers 97, in PHRF 2 and Tom Hill's R/P 75, Titan 12, in PHRF 1, respectively. With 58 entries from 10 nations the Melges 24 fleet will once again be the largest competing at Terra Nova Trading Key West 2004. Alongside the overseas entries boats are traveling from all over North America. Among the hot favorites for the 2004 Key West Melges 24 title are reigning World Champion Shark Kahn, 2002 World Champion Harry Melges who is helming for Jeff Ecklund, 2001 World Champion Flavio Favini with Switzerland's Franco Rossini, Silvio Santoni with Franco Maria Rao's crew from Italy, France's Sebastian Col with the P&P Racing Team and Norway's Kristian Nergaard. Among the entrants from our area, who will compete against the best of the best, are: John B. Thomson, Solution, Farr 40; Alexis Michas, Phish Food (Stonington, CT), Farr 40; John Storck, Rumor, J/80 (Huntington); Simon Strauss, Wild Cats, Melges 24; Joerg Esdorn, Kincsen (Rye, NY); Robert and Bill Lehnert, Lunatic Fringe (Cutchogue, NY); and James Bishop, Gold Digger, J/44 (Jamestown, RI). Solution, Phish Food, Rumor, Lunatic Fringe, Kincsen and Gold Digger and John Storck on Jonrob competed recently in the Manhasset Bay Fall Series. And many of the top sailors mentioned above - Ed Baird, Steve Benjamin, Terry Hutchinson, Tom Whidden, John Cutler, Brad Butterworth and Peter Holmberg all sailed in our bay in past Knickerbocker Cups. Steve Benjamin was over our way in early January when he participated in the first day of the Frostbite YC's New Year's Regatta.
Ladies take notice: A new website called www.discoverboating.com, that has been getting a whopping four million hits a month, has introduced a section called "Women at the Helm," that is dedicated to supplying information for the enjoyment of boating for women by women, with features such as "Women of the Month," and "Galley Gourmets." With the emphasis on boating as a family activity, questions arise from concerned moms about babies, young children and teenagers on board. The "Women at the Helm" home page starts with: "Whether you're interested in sailing, racing, powerboating or fishing, women of all ages find that time spent out on the water is enriching in so many ways." Did you know that Ann Bancroft was one of the first women in history to sail and ski across the Antarctica's landmass? Her philosophy, stated succinctly, "girls should go on thinking that there is a world out there and it is theirs for the taking." As an ongoing feature, two highly qualified boating moms have an interactive page, "Ask the Boating Moms," where frequently asked questions are posted for reference. All inquiries will be answered by e-mail.