book it

When you put it on the line even for something simple like a monthly book review, the time scale has a habit of shortening and the next due date creeping up on you.

The first two books were easy reads but hard to put down.

The book I selected to re-read this month is no lesser a title but certainly not one that can be digested at one sitting or even a long stint – there is just too much to digest

Written by people who are well qualified to write such a book. Tom Whidden and Michael Levitt’s “The Art & Science of Sails” is not an easy read but that is not because it isn’t well written.

The clue is in the title, ”Science”. Tom Whidden has spent many years with North Sails rising to CEO but is also a 3 times America’s Cup winner and AC Hall of Famer. Michel Levitt spent years as NYYC Communications Director and editor of such magazines as Sailing World and Yachting so between them they were able to make this subject as understandable as is possible.

Also, quite pleasingly, while much of the references and photos are naturally of North sails, in my view they have managed to avoid this being a “Gospel according to North”

Ours is a sport with a lot of science in it, specifically aerodynamics and there are elements of this book where having read a few pages you (or at least I) have to go back and check your understanding. This surprised me as, with a university background (many years ago) in science and  more years sailing than I would care to admit I thought this would be easy – nope!

This is more of a book to read a bit and then put down and digest otherwise you will overload – it is that comprehensive – and as I read through it I found myself pausing and thinking “Ah – so that’s how!” Or “So that’s what happens”

The book moves onto examine the computer science of sailmaking and concludes with excellent individual chapters on the 3 sail types, mainsail, headsail and downwind sail.

For anyone serious about our sport, especially the analytical amongst us, this is an excellent book and one of the best I have ever read on sails.

Definitely one for the reading list or Christmas present list for your favorite sailor.