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Manhasset Bay is open for business. And that made many sailors and Race Committee members happy last Sunday afternoon, March 7. After a hiatus of about two months - since the New Year's Regatta to be exact - the bay has been frozen. Rather than investing in ice boats, our frostbiters waited patiently for this day to come. Sunday dawned bright and sunny, not quite as warm as the unusual spring weather during the week, but no one was complaining. The wind proved to be somewhat of a problem, as it was so light that RC considered canceling the entire day. But the sailors had waited too long, and were anxious to get out sailing, so out went the RC to set up the triangular course. Wind held for three races and a crew race, at which time racing was cancelled because the boats were becalmed. Not the best return to frostbiting, but there is always next week, unless we get an arctic cold front that re-freezes the bay, which is highly unlikely. Top on the leader board for Sunday, March 7: 1. #511, Stephanie Baas/Dana Schnipper, 2. #121, Philip "Fee" Mitropolous/Amelia Amon, and 3. #707, Bob Kirtland/Mark Carnachio.

The U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety has issued a notice alerting users of Olin flare guns of a possible defect in some guns. Olin (now Orion Safety Products) 12-gauge flare guns manufactured before 2000 may not open wide enough to accept flare cartridges. The Coast Guard is asking all boaters with the older flare guns to test loading a cartridge as soon as possible and also at the beginning of every boating season. If your flare gun has this defect, you are asked to send it back for replacement to: Orion Safety Products, Marine Division, 3157N.500W, Peru, IN 46970. Modified guns made to correct the defective opening mechanism are marked with a Coast Guard approval code, 160028/12/1, Flare Gun Malfunction Alert. All recreational vessels on U.S. waters, regardless of type or size, must carry on board U.S. Coast Guard-approved visual distress signals. The devices must be in serviceable condition and readily accessible; be sure to check the expiration date on any flares on board.

There's a new entry in the race for the next America's Cup. Salvaotore Sarno, chairman of the Mediterranean Shipping Company South Africa, and the managing director of the South African America's Cup Challenge campaign announced that South Africa will enter the Challenge in 2007, the first time this country has ever taken part in the world's oldest sporting event. World-class Cape Town yachtsman Geoff Meek will skipper the South African entry, Shosolosa, which will be built by top British designer, Jason Ker. The Royal Cape YC has been nominated as the SA Challenge club. Mafika Mkwanazi, former CEO of Transnet, has been appointed president of the SA America's Cup Challenge. South Africans have never seen a Cup boat before in their home waters, so one can just imagine the excitement in Cape Town when the syndicate's training boat, the America's Cup Luna Rossa, arrived on March 8, marking the official beginning of the South African Challenge. Luna Rossa will be refitted and re-rigged with the official SA Challenge colors: a black hull with a beaded wave pattern in the colors of the South African flag. Sailing and Yachting magazine has described South Africa's involvement in the race as "the best thing that has happened to the sport in South Africa since John Martin and Bertie Reed were taking on the world single-handed in the late 1980s."

Steve Fossett, the 2002 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, is at it again. There must be something in his makeup that drives him to set almost impossible goals. Sometimes he manages to reach that goal, break an old speed record, or set off on an expedition that no one else has done before. This time he is attempting to beat the Round The World Sailing Record by racing around the world aboard the 125-foot maxi-catamaran Cheyenne. According to Fossett, "It is really about the record. My burning ambition is to break the official Round the World Sailing Record, set by Bruno Peyron on Orange I in 2002. This is simply the most important record in sailing - and why Cheyenne was built. Despite all the world and race records we've set since 1993, my career in sailing would not be complete without one good attempt at this record. I am not doing it for the publicity, recognition, or any financial purpose. The only goal is the RTW (Round The World) Sailing Record - and our sole attention is focused on breaking it." In the past week, Fossett came nearer to his goal. Cheyenne's relentless pace has been rewarded with two new intermediate passage records: a new record time from the official RTW start at Ouessant to Cape Leeuwin, Australia (25 days 14 hrs 8 mins) and they claimed a new best ever time for the crossing of the Indian Ocean - Cape of Good Hope to South East Cape, Tasmania (9 days 20 hrs 29 mins). Last Monday, March 8, Fossett and his international crew recorded their best day yet. They sailed 623 miles which puts them 2,042 miles ahead of the previous record set by Orange I at this stage of the challenge. They were helped with consistent 25-30 knots of wind. To break the existing official RTW record of 64 days, 8 hours 37 mins (Ouessant - Ouessant eastbound via the 3 Capes - Good Hope, Leeuwin, Horn), they still face the ongoing challenges of sub-Antarctic weather systems, icebergs, non-stop mechanical maintenance - and always problematic Atlantic weather for a fast passage back to the North after Cape Horn.

Soundings has reviewed what looks like a great book that readers may want to check out before they are busy getting their boats ready for that first sail of the season. According to Christopher du P. Roosevelt in the forward to Sailor in the White House, by Robert F. Cross (Naval Institute Press), the skills and attributes that make a person a great sailor also make that person a great leader. He continues, "...give me a dynamic and resourceful sailor as my leader any day and the world will be a better place for us all." This book on the seafaring life of the 32nd president of the United States tells of Roosevelt's time in his boyhood summer home on Campobello Island in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, where he learned to sail on the Bay of Fundy. Highlighted in the book are topics such as: how ships were modified to accommodate the president's disability from polio; meetings with Winston Churchill; how the president managed to log hundreds of thousand of miles at sea - sometimes eluding the Secret Service. Photos published for the first time include Roosevelt at the rail, sitting in his wheelchair, only the third known photo of FDR that includes the chair. For more information, contact Customer Service, USNI Operations Center (800) 233-8764, or www.navalinstitute.org.

A family boat building weekend is planned for this weekend, March 13-14 at the Maritime Aquarium Boat Shop in South Norwalk, CT. Family member team up to build a 7-foot pram that's seaworthy for up to two adults (or one adult and two children). Participants will take home a boat that's ready for painting and then rowing. For information, call 203-852-0700, ext. 2240.


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