Posts Tagged 'history'

the real American idol

to all those who have served our country, especially those who have laid down their life to protect our freedoms – we sincerely thank you.

a bit of Sunfish history

I saw this article posted a little while back over at the Yahoo Sunfish Sailor Group, and thought I’d share it: written September 20, 1982, so less than a month shy of 28 years ago in Sports Illustrated magazine.  the article was titled: “Here She Is, The True Love Boat.”  it’s an interesting read, and neat to see how some things have changed in the last couple decades since the article was written, as well as how some things have more or less stayed the same.  here are a few of my favorite quotes from the article:

World class racers such as Dennis Conner, of America’s Cup fame, and Gary Hoyt, who developed the Freedom class and won the first Sunfish worlds in 1972, learned to sail at the slim wooden tiller of the Sunfish.

…but when FORTUNE came up with a new list, in 1977, of the 25 best-designed contemporary products, the Sunfish was right there along with the Trimline Touch-Tone telephone, the Porsche 911 S Targa and Adidas running shoes.

on the explanation for the Sunfish symbol:

I drew a circle with a nickel and added the fins and the tail and the eye. Nothing we did was ever really accomplished with too much forethought, you know.

another quote, this one from Will White (quoted in the article),  who says:

The Sunfish is pure sailing—the sail in the wind, the board in the water, and you in the hull in between—one hand on the tiller, the other on the sheet and the wind in your hair. Pure sailboat racing, too. For the racing sailor, it is the essence of yacht racing. It was the first truly one-design boat, rigidly controlled by the manufacturer, with even the sails limited to one loft and very little that could be done in the way of adding expensive go-fasts. No need for a new set of sails every year. No need to keep buying or changing expensive hardware to keep up with the latest sailing theory…

they received some very good publicity at a boat show in New York in 1948:

But they were beginning to think a little bigger and they contacted an ad man, who wangled a very small patch of space for their very small boat on the floor of New York City’s Grand Central Palace, where the 1948 New York National Boat Show was being held. Fortuitously, the Sailfish—that cute little wood chip with its perky lateen sail—wound up sitting right next to a 57-foot Wheeler yacht, the largest boat in the show. The glorious contrast between the two made the Sailfish the talk of the town.

the biggest moment, though, came when LIFE magazine published a story on the sailboats, including some great photos of them being sailed out on the water.  (here is a link to the article.)  if you haven’t joined the Yahoo Sunfish Sailor Group yet, you definitely should, and then search through the “Photo” section there – there is a scanned copy of the LIFE magazine article, in a little bit better quality than the Google Books link. the two magazine articles give a pretty good glimpse into the past, and some good information on how the Sunfish came to be.

sunfish sailing: 2025 and beyond

tillerman‘s writing topic of the month is Sailing in the Second Space Age.  my submission (and pathetic attempt at some lame humor) is as follows:

it’s the year 2025, and with the uptick in global schwarming over the last decade or so, the polar caps have melted significantly, causing the level of the oceans to dramatically rise, sadly wiping out much of the coastline cities in the world (the entire state of Rhode Island was among the first to go).

due to the large loss of land area across the globe, and corresponding increase in water surface area, piracy on the waters has increased exponentially.  as a result, maritime defense spending by the government has followed the general government trend and skyrocketed.  dinghy sailing is all but extinct along the coast of the oceans, largely due to the Defense department piracy prevention plan (PPP) outfitting sharks with some frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads…

the lack of safe dinghy sailing along the ocean coastline, combined with a gigantic increase in the price of oil, has led to a major increase in inland lakes sailing.  the popularity of Sunfish and Lasers has been a blessing for the relative ease of finding a nearby yacht club, as they are popping up everywhere, and you don’t have to go far to find a regatta to participate in every weekend throughout the spring, summer and fall.  sadly, the insane practice of frostbiting has all but been lost (global schwarming, remember?).  unfortunately, the huge uptick in interest in Sunfish and Laser sailboat’s has cleaned out all the parts suppliers… but is that really that surprising?!

the Great Lakes has become the new Cape Cod, as vacationers flock from all across the US to the largest bodies of water NOT protected by the PPP (ie, sharks with lasers).  the Great Lakes are not without their flaws, though, as the dreaded Asian carp have infested these freshwater inland lakes.  thankfully, they are not nearly as dangerous as the laser-wielding sharks, and lucky for us – the government has implemented another fantastic new program (the ACCP) for controlling the Asian carp population….

Asian Carp Control Program (ACCP)

the Sunfish sailboat, thankfully, has maintained its simplicity over the years with only the usual and random minor changes.  thankfully, the class voted against the implementation of a wing sail, as the current insanity with multiple sail options: class-legal racing sails, class-legal recreational sails, practice racing sails (not class legal), and the non-class-legal recreational sails is more than enough frustration for now… adding a wing sail was just going to put it over the top.

the Sunfish sailboat, now almost 75 years old, continues to have a strong sailing class, and the total number of Sunfish built approaches 1 million.  strangely, though, I haven’t updated to a new fancy shiny version — I’m still using my grossly overweight Sunfish from the 1960’s – she’s hanging on strong, although I’ve yet to finish a regatta on time. with now 15+ years of sailing experience, I can legitimately blame it on the boat, right?  right?  maybe it’s just my daggerboard banging into those dang Asian carp.

until my next update… help out if you can, and carpe carp.

volvo ocean race book 2008-09

the official book of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 is about to be released – supposed to be available in October 2009, but currently only shown as available to pre-order, and only showing prices in Euros.  it is available as a book and DVD combo:

a little history on the Volvo Ocean Race:

The Volvo Ocean Race is an exceptional test of sailing prowess and human endeavour which has been built on the spirit of great seafarers – fearless men who sailed the world’s oceans aboard square rigged clipper ships more than a century ago.

Their challenge back then was not a race as such, but recording the fastest time between ports. This meant new levels of pride for themselves and great recognition for their vessel.

Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race

Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race

The spirit that drove those commercial sailors along the web of trade routes, deep into the bleak latitudes of the Southern Ocean and around the world’s most dangerous capes, emerges today in the form of the Volvo Ocean Race, a contest now seen as the pinnacle of achievement in the sport.

…During the nine months of the 2008-09 Volvo, which starts in Alicante, Spain in October 2008 and concludes in St Petersburg, Russia, during late June 2009, the teams will sail over 37,000 nautical miles of the world’s most treacherous seas via Cape Town, Kochi, Singapore, Qingdao, around Cape Horn to Rio de Janeiro, Boston, Galway, Goteborg and Stockholm.

Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race

Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race

…During the race the crews will experience life at the extreme: no fresh food is taken onboard so they live off freeze dried fare, they will experience temperature variations from -5 to +40 degrees Celsius and will only take one change of clothes. They will trust their lives to the boat and the skipper and experience hunger and sleep deprivation.

you can get a really good idea of the quality of the book and the amazing nautical photography included by checking out the online sample of Chapter 1 here:

I am going to wait a while to see if it becomes available more readily here in the states – and either order it, or have my local library order a copy for me!  I’ll be sure to post a review when I get a chance to see the whole book.

sea fever

from the English poet laureate John Masefield, the poem “Sea Fever”:

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

I found the poem posted here, at a tribute to Sir Peter Blake:

Simply put, Peter Blake was easily the most accomplished sailor of our time.


Blake gained notiriety as a sailor by becoming the first to participate in all five Whitbread Round the World Races (now known as the Volvo Ocean Race). The Whitbread is the most grueling test of sailing skill in existence. It covers over 30,000 nautical miles and lasts 9 months. Held every 3 years, it attracts only the best and bravest. Blake competed in 1973, ‘77, ‘81, ‘85, and was the winning skipper aboard Steinlager 2 in 1989. He won every stage of the race in 1989 and posted the most convincing victory in the history of the event. An event that most accomplished sailors won’t brave a single time–Peter Blake entered five times.

See the full post about Sir Peter Blake and more at the FM Allen Camp Smoke blog.

the wreck of the Minnehaha

a bit of history can be found right off the shore at Camp Arcadia, in the northwest part of Michigan’s lower peninsula, where I just spent a week for vacation with my family.  probably no more than 20-feet from the shore, currently maybe 2 feet deep under the waters of Lake Michigan, rests the remains of the Minnehaha, a 200-ft 4-masted schooner that shipwrecked off the coast more than a hundred years ago. (link to more historical information)

The Minnehaha was a 4-masted, 200 foot, wooden schooner carrying 823 gross tons and 782 net tons…In October of 1893, the steam barge Henry J. Johnson was towing the Minnehaha from Chicago bound for Point Edward at the south end of Lake Huron with 58,000 bushels of corn. At 7:30 PM on October 13, the two ships found themselves off Point Betsie facing 90 mile per hour gale force winds….The Minnehaha ran aground about a quarter of a mile offshore between Burnham and Arcadia. To avoid the waves sweeping the decks, all but one member of the crew, who drowned trying to swim to shore, climbed into the ship’s rigging. As the ship was breaking up, the captain called to the crew to grab whatever would float and go over the side anyway. But only the captain made it to shore safely. One crew member made it to a pier, but was too tired to hold onto a pole used to try to pull him to safety.

Here are some pictures that I have taken over the last few years of vacationing there:

August 2009




in the 3rd picture, you can see the shadows of the shipwreck in the foreground, between my brother-in-law’s Sandpiper 8 sailboat and the beach.  as you can see, the remains of the Minnehaha is very close to the shore.

September 2004

Img09 (52)_edited

Img09 (51)

It’s interesting to see how the water level of the lake changes over the years – note in these pictures from 5 years ago, how low the lake levels were – parts of the shipwrecked Minnehaha were actually above the surface of the water, but now in 2009, there is probably at least 24 inches of water above the shipwreck.

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