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While being landlocked for the duration of this cold front that has kept Manhasset Bay frozen throughout January, the next best thing sailors can do is dream of warmer weather and busy themselves making plans for the spring and summer. Readers may want to reserve some dates in the calendars for upcoming events. Drake Sparkman and Olin Stephens, who founded Sparkman and Stephens in 1929, will be celebrating 75 years of design and brokerage this year. Since the establishment of the firm, the design department has completed the design of over 2700 yachts, commercial craft and military vessels. Several events are planned to honor this venerable firm, the highlight of which is the celebration at the Mystic Seaport Museum on July 9-11, where Sparkman & Stephens yachts and friends will be gathering for a weekend of festivities. On Saturday, July 10 there will a 75th Anniversary Gala Dinner. About 1000 people from around the world are expected to attend the S&S celebration at Mystic and over 500 to attend the Gala Dinner. More than 50 of the finest Sparkman & Stephens designed yachts, past and present, large and small, will be rendezvousing and on display. Olin Stephens will be on hand and speaking about the firm's storied history. Yacht builders and friends that have brought the designs of S&S to form and sailed them will tell about their stories of working with Olin, Rod and the firm. On Sunday, July 11, the 2004 Sparkman & Stephens Association Annual General Meeting will be held and there will be a parade of the yachts. The activities will continue in the weeks following, including participation in the Annual IYRS (International Yacht Restoration School) Cruise, the Museum of Yachting Annual Sparkman & Stephens 12-Meter Regatta in Newport, Rhode Island, and a Designer's Symposium and Classic Yacht Racing in Castine Maine.

There are two upcoming race notifications that may be of interest to readers. The Notice of Race for the 635-mile Newport Bermuda Race is now posted online. The race begins June 18, but application for entry must be completed no later than April 1. The NOR is out later than usual to allow the Organizing Committee to work with international technical committee members on safety standards for boats with water ballast and canting keels, which are now allowed by the IMS. The NOR has appendices dealing with special the regulations to address the safety issues of these designs. www.bermudarace.com. The Ida Lewis Yacht Club will host its inaugural Distance Race for single-hulled boats of 29 feet or more on August 19. Two courses, one covering 242 nautical miles and another covering 160 nautical miles will be offered for IMS Racing and IMS Cruiser/ Racer Divisions as well as PHRF Spinnaker and PHRF Non-Spinnaker Divisions. The Distance Race has been included as one of the qualifying events for the New England Lighthouse Series (NELS) and Northern Ocean Racing Trophy (NORT), which are administered annually by the Stamford (Conn.) YC. A Preliminary Notice of Race is available: www.ilyc.org

The Optimist, that small bathtub-like boat that has trained so many juniors, is turning out to be one very successful boat. The International Optimist Association, which publishes an annual review, provides these highlights of the Optimist class: 101 countries are now valid members of the association, double the number in 1989; over 800 different sailors from 75 countries participated in its six official championships, with the numbers up in five of the six events; over 3,000 new boats were built by 33 builders in 25 countries on five continents; and over $25,000 was spent on development and training activities. This class is really growing exponentially. For example, at the USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Orange Bowl down in Miami, FL, there were 282 racers competing in the Optimist Championships, the largest fleet of the regatta. For more information on the Optimist class, www.optiworld.org/2003review.html

Lynn Wright and the crew of his Après Ski, Mike Robinson and Michelle Langlois, have been awarded US Sailing's Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal for coming to the aid of a fellow mariner in distress. The incident occurred on September 17, 2003, when Pat Mitchell, skipper of a Moore 24 named Free Flight, was sailing in the "Wet Wednesday" race at the Tahoe Windjammers Yacht Club on Lake Tahoe. It was 65 degrees and the wind was blowing at 25 knots with waves of up to four feet when Free Flight experienced a deathroll (the boat capsized to windward until the mast hit the water and then quickly righted itself). Mitchell fell overboard into 60-degree water without a personal floating device. The Après Ski crew dropped their jib and deployed a Lifesling to bring Mitchell on board after he'd been in the water for nearly 20 minutes. The US Sailing Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal is an award given to skippers of pleasure boats or race support vessels who effect rescues of victims from the water. The award is made for rescues in U.S. waters, or those which occur in races originating or terminating in a U.S. port. The purposes of the award are to recognize the significant accomplishment in seamanship which has saved a life, and to collect further case studies in rescues for analysis for the US SAILING Safety-at-Sea Committee which will eventually be incorporated into the extensive educational programs of US SAILING. For more information, www.ussailing.org/safety/Rescues.

New Yorkers are used to "big"- they do things in a "big" way in a huge city, with "big" traffic jams, "big" crowds on the subway and at ball games. And they don't impress easily. The recently launched Mirabella V might give even a New Yorker pause. With a mast reaching 246 feet, she is the world's biggest single-masted yacht. It would be hard to imagine the precarious job of stepping a mast this large without a hitch. But two giant mobile cranes working in harmony rotated the 42-ton mast from its horizontal position on the dock to the vertical. One of Mirabella V's genoa furling units weighs seven tons (not including the foil). She is also the biggest composite ship ever built, and once she is ready to sail, will be on record as the world's largest sailing sloop. She will be used as a charter vessel, operating mainly in the Mediterranean and Caribbean when she enters service in 2004. Charter cost will be approximately $250,000 a week. Any takers?


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