Who else has found the last few months chock-full of events: weddings, travels, birthday parties, celebrations of all sorts? I confess: I’ve been out and about enjoying the company of so many people I’ve missed, and been remiss in pulling together the Ultimate Sailing Blog. Forgive me, but we’re back on track with a June-July combo sure to make you smile.
From IOR to ULDB to IACC – in the four decades since I launched Ultimate Sailing, the acronyms have been flying as yacht design has developed at warp speed! The images on these pages illustrate the breadth of boats that capitalized on those advancements, in every aspect of design, material and technology.
At the top of our June pages, Seattle’s OneWorld Challenge for the America’s Cup practices for the Louis Vuitton trials in the Hauraki Gulf. OneWorld was one of nine teams from six countries who took on an exhausting 120-race series to see who would face the defender – Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron – in the 2003 Cup. In the finals OneWorld was edged out by Alinghi, who went on to beat Oracle in the Louis Vuitton series, and sweep the America’s Cup!
But it wasn’t for lack of trying by OneWorld, as you can see in this powerful image of one of their grueling practice sessions northeast of Auckland.
Meanwhile in another hemisphere, these Aussie 18 skiff sailors (inset) face their own grueling episode in San Francisco’s Golden Gate to Bay Bridge race. Although 6,500 miles apart, these teams no doubt experienced the same intensity and frigid spray.
Alas a warm shower and cold Dark and Stormy awaited the skiff sailors after their single day’s adventure, in the cozy bar at St. Francis Yacht Club.
Jumping to July, we flashback to the 1980s. ‘Big hair, wide lapels and huge colorful kites and bloopers. Although early days in my career, these were also some of my favorites, thanks to the vibrancy of the sails and even the sailing gear.
Check out those red shirts and short shorts in the top image. ‘Who wears short shorts?!’ Kialoa does!
This was the Clipper Cup, just in its infancy. It introduced big boat competition to Hawaii and for two-dozen years it would be one of the most popular events in the world ocean racing circuit.
Hawaiian sunshine, breeze and excitement guaranteed!
Later renamed the Kenwood Cup, it sadly ended when sponsorship dwindled. I feel fortunate to have these images and memories of an epic time in ocean racing.
I was situated on the stern with a who’s who of sailing greats including Ted Turner, Gary Jobson and Peter Isler, when I saw bowman Carl Lessard gear up in a harness. It looked like he was going out to the end of the pole to gybe or something, and I took off! Don’t forget, this was a nearly 130-foot boat! I ran forward with my gear, tripping over celebrity sailors, thankful it was fairly light air, or I would’ve been on my ear!
In those days the cameras were still manual: all manual exposure and focus. And it was well before digital, so I was shooting 35mm film, which meant I had limited frames to get it right! I steadied myself, opened up the aperture, and caught this perfectly exposed image.
Years later, in my book 30 Years of Ultimate Sailing I described this magical moment as follows: “A dramatic eye-catching image like the ‘Man in the Stars’ demands professionalism and dexterity. At the time I was shooting this – Kodachrome slide film, the days of manual focus and exposure – there was no room for error. Balancing on the bucking deck of Endeavour, with the sailors bustling around me, craft and karma aligned to allow this one perfect shot.”
Despite all the preparation in the world, I still value the benefit of a little bit of karma and good luck, in helping me capture the Ultimate Sailing image!
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