A very nice story has surfaced from the Bahamas - a story that marries sailing with the holiday season. In a deal that was finalized on Christmas Eve, the Bahamas Sailing Association has ordered 19 Optimists to help establish a National Sailing School. For several months the B.S.A. has been seeking low-cost second-hand Optimists. According to John Lawrence, secretary of the B.S.A., "'The Bahamas Sailing Association (National Authority) is establishing the first National Sailing School of The Bahamas. This nonprofit venture aims to teach sailing to juniors in the Bahamas and will for the first time open the sport of sailing to juniors that previously could not participate in a sailing program due to economic reasons. This is a very worthy program and we hope that it will have substantial growth over the next few years. We want to ultimately introduce the optis on a large scale basis to the local school system." With the help of U.S. builders McLaughlin who came up with the offer of charter boats to be used at the Orange Bowl Regatta in Miami, and help from the IODA (International Optimist Dinghy Association), the purchase of the 19 Optimists became a reality. It was just two years ago the Royal Nassau S.C. wrote to IODA and said, "We have missed a complete generation of developing sailors at our sailing club. We now have a group of members who are willing to get this thing going again." Fleets have since been introduced at the R.N.S.C. and the Nassau Yacht Club, and the initiative of the B.S.A. will open up the sport still further. What a wonderful gift to the children of the Bahamas! For more information, see: www.optiworld.org and www.sailing.org.
This winter the Halloween YC is again sponsoring a series of Saturday morning boating workshops. They will cover a wide variety of boating and boat-related subjects with broad appeal. All the workshops begin at 10 a.m. and are planned to adjourn by noon. Although admission is free, there is a $1 charge for coffee, donuts, and tickets for door prizes. Jan. 15: Selling Your Boat? Buying One?; Feb. 12: Where are the Cops When You Need'em?; Feb. 26: Is There A Doctor On Board?; March 12: What's New (and Better) in Sail Design and Sail Technology; March 19: Do You Really Need A Radar? To make a reservation, call Bernie Weiss (203-329-2503) or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Halloween YC is not that far away and on an early Saturday morning, traffic will not be a problem. The yacht club is located at 10 Seaview Avenue, Stamford, CT.
An interesting development is taking place with the ever-changing America's Cup. The AC rules have been waived to allow Spanish syndicate El Reto to join the list of challengers. The syndicate itself is not what is so interesting, but the fact that their sponsor is not a yacht club, but the Spanish Sailing Federation, Espaola de Vela. This is a first time ever that a challenger is not hosted by a yacht club, and there is some discussion that there may be some protests from other challengers. Augustin Zulueta, a Spanish yacht-racing project manager will head the syndicate, which will be Spain's fourth attempt (1992, 1994, and 1999) at the Cup. El Reto, Spanish for "the Challenge," has brought relief to the AC management team, for it looked for awhile like Spain, the host country for the 2007 Cup, would not have a challenger of its own. Another challenger, OzBoyz Challenge, from Australia, will be watching how, and if, other challengers will protest the ruling by AC management. The OzBoyz are hoping to have the AC sponsorship ruling changed for them too, for they plan to partner with Yachting Australia, the national yachting authority. According to Sebastien Destremau, "We and our legal advisors are confident OzBoyz Challenge will be accepted by AC Management." If it turns out the their challenge is the sole Australian Challenger, which will be clear by April 2005, they may have a chance at a rules change. But then they have to overcome a few obstacles like raising enough money to make the challenge viable.
And a final story for the year - one that brings warmth to these cold winter days. It's a love story - a story of a man who lost his wife late in life and his efforts to honor her one last time. Sakae Hatashita was born in the United States but was raised in Wakayama Prefecture. After World War II, he skippered a tuna boat before returning to the United States in the late 1960s or early 1970s. It was here that he lost his wife in a car accident. Now on the seventh anniversary of her death, Hatashita, an 80-year-old man, sailed solo across the vast Pacific Ocean to take his wife's remains to her homeland for burial. He sold his house, bought the yacht and set sail for Japan from San Diego on May 17, stopping in Hawaii and Tahiti along the way. On Dec. 12, his 11.6 meter yacht, Miya, named after his wife, collided with a fishing boat off Mikurajima Island, about 200 kilometers south of Tokyo. Hatashita suffered injuries to his right arm; his yacht's mast snapped. The Shimoda Coast Guard escorted Hatashita to Kouzushima Island, where he was able to make repairs. Hatashita arrived at Shimizu port in Shizouka Prefecture a few weeks ago after more than seven perilous months at sea. And there, finally, he completed his voyage to Nagano Prefecture, bringing his wife home one last time.
May your new year be filled with health, joy, and the warmth and laughter of family and friends.