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The Environment

georgia straightsYes, this is local. But the issue is global.

Oil spills happen, but…

We. Aren’t. Ready.

And the people with the most to lose from an oil spill are you and your community. Make a real difference to the future of our coastal communities by donating to protect the Strait today. Your support matters and it will make a difference.

The Salish Sea doesn’t have to become a fossil fuel highway. Donate today and your contribution will be matched dollar-for-dollar until December 31. You deserve a Strait of Georgia that is protected from oil spills and huge tankers.

From our friends at the Georgia Strait Alliance.


December 8th, 2015

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john lennon

John Lennon went sailing in 1980 (according to some recently discovered book). He sailed from Newport to Bermuda to try and cure his writers block. Apparently it worked. He was shot 35 years ago today…


December 8th, 2015

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vlad 1

The recently launched White Pearl, which also goes under the name Sailing Yacht A, left nobody indifferent. First of all because of her stupendous size and sheer boldness.  And than of course her styling… Beauty is in the eye of beholder and all that, but nobody would call her beautiful. A flurry of negative comments, from innocently mild to really offensive filled the cyberspace.

I dare to voice a different opinion. Yes, White Pearl is hardly a graceful yacht, but she casts a cohesive, into-your-face image that’s kind of endearing. Today’s sailboat design is sinking in the sea of sameness. It’s hard to tell one boat from another, especially on the mega yacht market. For the marine industry and the sport of sailing to move forward a change is called for – with more forward thinking, bold attitude and courage. White Pearl provides it all in abundance.

It’s not easy to see it through the tall, bulky shape, but the initial idea quite possibly was to re-create an image of a swan gracefully gliding over water…Imagine the original napkin sketch, if you can, with the wing feathers fluffed up, with elegantly tilted neck…

vlad 2Well, there are three necks actually, because the single one had to be too tall and too heavy even if made of carbon. And yet, I could certainly see a very interesting idea underlying the design even if the actual realization of the concept doesn’t show it clearly.

And then there is an additional aspect to this. Like so many other wealthy individuals, the owner could’ve just put his money into another hedge fund, contributing to a next financial bubble, making all of us poorer at the end. Instead he followed his passion and created something unique, if not truly beautiful, providing jobs to hundreds of people in the process. We should applaud that!

In today’s sailboat market over-saturated with look-alike boring designs to me this boat is a bold statement of a prosperous man who can afford to turn his dream into reality and to achieve a truly innovative yacht. Head-turning, no doubt!

Pioneering is never easy and the result is unpredictable. But for all of us to move forward, somebody has to take the lead. I wish this yacht would’ve turned out more elegant. But I also wish there were more people like the White Pearl owner, willing to take risk, to show attitude and courage to do something never done before – and to have enough cash to pay a premium for that!

Vlad Murnikov


December 8th, 2015

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Do you know what this little beauty is?


December 8th, 2015

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Tom Ehman gives his take on the ISAF/CEO resignation debacle

The ISAF’s volunteer President is the CEO. He can and does call the shots as long as he has the backing of his Executive Committee (also all volunteers). And the Executive Committee almost always backs the President because they all want to succeed him as President, and only those who are in “harmony” with the President have any real chance to succeed him down the road.

When Mr Sowrey was hired as chief-of-staff five months ago, he was given the title CEO. His predecessors’ title was “Secretary-General.” Even without seeing the job spec, you could see this coming. The CEO’s expectations were not aligned with those of the Executive Committee, to say nothing of his authority.

More like an American-style COO, the Secretary-General is expected to be an order taker from the President and Executive Committee — to execute policy not make it. At best, he or she can try to convince the President and Excom to adopt a particular policy. But since ISAF has dozens of committees, also staffed by volunteers, whose job it is to recommend policy in their specialist area, the Secretary-General can’t progress policy proposals without stepping on some committee’s toes, or at least without first getting the committee’s blessing. Even if he convinces the President, Excom and specialist committee, final decisions must still be approved by the “Council” — the officers plus 40 or so senior regional delegates who, in American terms, are the Board of Directors. But the Council looks, sounds and acts more like the UN Security Council than any corporate or even non-profit board you’ve ever seen.

As Dennis Conner likes to say (not about ISAF, but it’s equally applicable here), “You can always bet on self-interest because that horse is ALWAYS running.” Council members are supposed to articulate their region’s/nation’s views but in the end vote what’s best for the sport; however, more often than not they just vote their home country’s party line.

I found this particularly frustrating. In the case of the Soviet bloc, before the Wall came down, their delegates would show up and vote as they had been instructed at meetings, often months earlier, back in Moscow or East Berlin. Didn’t matter how convincing your argument was to the contrary, or that the issue under consideration had changed due to new facts or realities. They wouldn’t — indeed couldn’t — change their rhetoric or votes. Often they had no idea what we were discussing, but they always knew how to vote.

Indeed, for a period in the mid-90s the USSA (then USYRU) leadership tried to dictate positions to our delegation — tie our hands — via a meeting several weeks before the IYRU/ISAF conference. This was silly and counterproductive. Smart people (and great sailors) like Ding Schoonmaker and Andy Kostanecki, and others of our era, spent an enormous amount of time studying the issues, communicating with reps of other countries and our own, and were very good at finding solutions that were right for the sport, not just what was good for the USA or, for example, the Star Class.

My experience, almost always, was that what was good for the sport as a whole was also good for the USA, or at least we could adjust a bit and deal with it more easily than smaller countries could. When any national federation insists that its delegates go to ISAF meetings and simply regurgitate and vote the party line, it ties their hands to negotiate, to compromise, to find solutions that work for the greater good. Regardless, this still is the sense you get at Council meetings — delegates with their hands tied by mandates from from the mandarins at home. Yes, self-interest is always running.

On top of all that, there is another body, the General Assembly. With over 100 voting delegates, one per country, the GA meets once every four years to rubber stamp the President’s quadrennial report, the Treasurer’s report, approve bylaws amendments, and elect the slate of Vice Presidents and the President to serve the next four years. Yes, one vote per country to elect ISAF’s quadrennial leadership. The USA, GBR, FRA, BRA, GER, CAN, NZL, AUS, ITA, ESP, DEN, SWE, NOR and other prominent sailing nations have the same one vote at the GA as the many small countries (e.g., Venezuela, Fiji, Ukraine, Pakistan and some 75 others). Talk about political!

In another era, back in the 70s and 80s, the current President’s father — the late, great Beppe Croce (ITA) — led the organization (as President) with flair and resolve. Paul Henderson (CAN) was President from 1994 to 2004, and also did an outstanding job. A sailor’s sailor, Paul had the time, energy, and personal resources to work full time as President, and worked hand-in-glove with Arve Sundheim, his handpicked and superb Norwegian Secretary-General/COO. Paul also listened, sought advice, built a consensus, and then led. He helped the classes rather than trying to control them, and supported the pro areas of the sport (notably by protecting their TV rights) without trying to govern them.

Today the sport is entirely more professional and commercial (for better or worse, but it is), yet ISAF is essentially the same amateur/volunteer organization, and structure, set up in the early 1900s to unify racing and rating rules in Europe and North America (and dominated for decades by GBR and USA) and pick the Olympic Classes. Now that same amateur/volunteer structure, with a small paid and dedicated staff called the Secretariat, is trying to run a commercial/professional World Sailing Cup, manage a highly-commercial and TV-dominated Olympic sailing regatta, and “govern” dozens of international class associations that used to do just fine, thank you very much, governing themselves. All the while cow-towing to the IOC to keep sailing in the Olympics — because, of course, the bulk of ISAF’s budget comes from the IOC. ISAF even claims control over the Volvo Ocean Race and the America’s Cup, but we don’t need to re-hash all that here.

Over time almost every other sport has evolved separate amateur and pro governing bodies, e.g., the International Golf Federation and the PGA; International Tennis Association and the ATP; International Ice Hockey Federation and the NHL. One exception is FIFA, and no doubt you know what a mess that is!

ISAF tried to “modernize” by appointing a CEO, but in title only. Good luck to Mr Sowrey’s successor, but I’ll bet the title will be Secretary-General or Managing Director. Anything but CEO — at least not until there is an entirely different governing structure, effectively separating the professional and recreational sides of our sport.


December 7th, 2015

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We are giving this points for creativity, taking away points for being hokey and too long, but publishing it anyway!


December 7th, 2015

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This past Saturday marks 14 years since Peter Blake was senselessly gunned down on his boat in the Amazon, a sad day indeed because the sailing world lost a true giant. I was lucky enough to have known him quite well even though I don’t think anyone, except his wife Pippa perhaps, really knew Peter well. He was an aloof person that led by example and inspired those around him to be the best that they could be.

I first met him in England in 1979. He was talking about returning to his native New Zealand to mount a campaign for the 81/82 Whitbread Round the World Race. My ear was to the ground because I was looking for a ride in the same race and we met again at the start; me aboard the American Yacht Alaska Eagle (known to the rest of the fleet as Alaska Beagle because the boat was a dog), and Blake on the out-and-out racer Ceramco New Zealand. Our boat had cabins. His had bunk beds. We had hanks on our headsails. The sails on Ceramco were of some exotic material and certainly did not have hanks. It was no wonder then that they got to the equator a thousand miles ahead of us but it all went wrong shortly thereafter when the boat was dismasted putting an end to their chances of victory. Back then the race was decided on time, not points.

Four years later we met again. He was skippering Lion New Zealand. I was on a sister-ship Drum with Simon le Bon and the two managers of Duran Duran as sponsors. We had the second slowest boat in the fleet. Blake had the slowest. Lion NZ was a dog and they thrashed it around the planet simply unable to keep up with the other boats. It would have made an ordinary man weep but Blake was no ordinary man. He was back in 1989 with a massive red ketch sponsored by New Zealand’s favorite beer, Steinlager and went on to win every leg of the race. Steinlager dominated and it goes down in Whitbread/Volvo history as one of the best campaigns ever mounted.

In 1993, Blake along with co-skipper Robin Knox-Johnston made an attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy only to have it all come unglued when they hit a submerged object and damaged their starboard hull. It might have spelled the end but Blake and RKJ returned the following year with a repaired and lengthened boat sponsored by the New Zealand Apple & Pear Marketing Board, but named simply ENZA. They were triumphant and smashed a full five days off the existing record.

Blake left around the world racing but not sailing and we all remember the ‘lucky red socks’ he wore racing aboard NZL 32, also known as “Black Magic”. They made a clean sweep beating Dennis Conner 5–0. Blake’s ‘lucky red socks’ (a present from Pippa) became something of a trademark and almost every Kiwi, sailor and non-sailor alike, wore red socks for the duration of the Americas Cup.

On December 6, 2001 Peter Blake and his crew were returning from a trip up the Amazon River aboard the massive expedition yacht Seamster. They had recently hosted Helen Clark, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and were monitoring global warming and pollution for the United Nations. The boat was at anchor off Macapá at the mouth of the Amazon when around 9 pm it was boarded by a group of six to eight armed robbers wearing balaclavas and crash helmets. One of them had a gun to the head of one of the crew when Blake came up from below with his gun. He was able to get off a single shot before the gun malfunctioned and then he was fatally shot in the back by Ricardo Colares Tavares, a petty criminal who was later sentenced to 36 years and 9 months in prison. It was a sad tragedy and a day that the sailing world lost a true gentleman. It’s my true belief that had Peter Blake not come on deck brandishing a gun he would still be alive today.

The last time I saw him was at the Southampton airport. Blake and his wife Pippa had moved to Emsworth, a small town on the south coast of England. I was sitting in the arrivals hall when the double doors burst open. There was Peter, tall, handsome with a shock of blond hair striding regally toward his waiting car and ten paces behind him there was Pippa carrying all the luggage.

Blake is buried at Warblington churchyard near Emsworth and his grave is destination for many New Zealand sailors who stop by to pay tribute to not only a great sailor but a good and very decent man. If he was still alive Peter Blake would have been 67 years old.

- Brian Hancock. Brian has a great series on information you need when thinking about buying new sails – find out here!


December 7th, 2015

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Our brother BooBoo makes this 3600 rock. Not many can like this!


December 6th, 2015

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Big Pimpin’

naut topSince this is the season for giving thanks . . . . we would like to thank all of you sailors who supported us by purchasing our compass.  You have made our year great!

And for those of you who have not yet joined Team Nautalytics . . . a gift:  from now through the end of the year, we are offering a compass, a bracket of your choice and shipping all for $335.00.

Happy Holidays and Happy Sailing!


December 6th, 2015

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What a face can tell us about what a man at sea has experienced. Incredible. Italian sailing legend Giovanni Soldini by Andrea Francolini.


December 6th, 2015


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