Apologies for not posting since earlier in the year. More editorial to come, BUT for now:

This is the 10th Archipelago Rally so let’s see what you have under the porch!!! The shallow, warm waters of the Westport River await and our wonderful host, the Spindle Rock Club is ready to go.
Please let us know what craft you are bringing and DON’T FORGET YOUR PERSONAL PENNANT to fly from your rig.
The Broken Head Perpetual, Clark Cherub Stein All-Family Award, Pine Needle, Lonely Loon and other awards will be on hand. See you there!

PS: MORE DETAILS TO COME ON THIS SITE and through PaperlessPost invite.


Like any journalistic endeavor, a lot of great thoughts end up on the editing floor. Thought the foiling talk is over, the discussion is not!

Below are some extras from crazy new and old friends who are on the “emerging” side of the sport. I”LL ADD MORE TONIGHT


From Jack Gierhart, Executive Director of US SAILING:

Jack Gierhart, US SAILING

Jack Gierhart, US SAILING

“This area of sailing is driving a lot of interest and excitement, creating
a whole new approach that will attract interest from new audiences and
potential participants. I see corollaries between the developments in
sailing with kites, multihulls and foiling, and what happened in skiing
with snowboarding, telemarking, backcountry, boarder cross, kite skiing,
etc. that has help rejuvenate the tradition sport of skiing and add
entirely new angles. While not everyone is going to jump on a moth or a
foiling kite, their interest will be peaked and potentially directed
towards other platforms and options. Anything that creates new interest
and excitement in sailing will be good for the future of the sport. While
I am not sure the recent AC had a direct impact on sailing participation
(possibly a bit in the Bay Area), it has certainly had an impact on
product development which is driving these new segments and evolution of
sailing and generating new interest. An indirect benefit.

“At US Sailing we need to follow these developments and make sure our
programs and services to sailors and organizations support these
developments and foster an environment that encourages this evolution. US
Sailing realizes the marketplace does a great job driving innovation; we
need to embrace this and insure we evolve our programs to take advantages
of these innovations and help create an environment where they can spread
and prosper. We look forward to working with this part of the sailing
community to push developments into the mainstream.”

From Tyler Doyle, President Doyle:

Doyle CFD Rendering

Doyle CFD Rendering

“I think the rapid development of foiling is opening up all sorts of exciting new design and analysis opportunities in the industry. As I’m sure you know the hydrodynamics of foiling have been understood for a long time but it has only been recently that modern laminates and construction processes have evolved to the point where the structures needed for foiling can be made light and strong enough to make foiling dreams a reality. So far we haven’t worked directly on any foiling projects however most if not all of the high performance sailing projects we’ve worked on recently from 90 ft cruising catamarans to planing 100 ft monohulls have at least considered foiling. We have worked on a few projects that don’t go all the way to foiling but use horizontal foils to either partially lift the boat out of the water or create down force to help with stability.

“Foiling and other creative appendage designs are great for our CFD consulting business because it’s exactly the type of thing we can simulate accurately and usually much quicker than a similar tow tank test program. Typical hulls and appendages have been developed and refined long enough that there is a huge amount of knowledge that just needs to be adapted for a given project. Foiling is just the opposite, there a few proven design concepts that designers are scrambling to try and apply to new projects however usually changes are needed that are not well understood and need to be simulated or tested to get right. Simulating foils isn’t easy because you need to model things such as the water free surface, turbulence and cavitation to get the performance right which creates computationally demanding simulations. The type of CFD we use most, RANS CFD, is well suited to the problem and our approach of using open source CFD codes and cloud computing results in cost effective simulations that can fit into reasonable design budgets. The older approach for simulating hulls and appendages using panels codes that only model surface conditions isn’t up to the task of modeling foiling performance correctly.”

LiveStream Slide1 Foiling in the USA will be broadcast LIVE via LiveStream and answering questions from TWITTER @Oakcliffsail !! WHEN: THIS THURSDAY, April 9 at Doyle Sails LI,1345 New York Ave. Huntington Station, NY 11746 COME IN PERSON! FREE Pizza and an open discussion on how the rapid development of hydrofoil technology is going to change the way we enjoy sailing!! Will we all be cruising on hydrofoils in the future? Will kids be flying out of the water on mass-produced plastic foilers at their learn-to-sail camps? Here’s the line-up to answer those questions: -The New York Times correspondent CHRIS MUSELER makes sense of the latest developments –GunBoat founder PETER JOHNSTONE on live SkypeVideo chat about the foiling G4 cruiser/racer catamaran in trials THIS WEEK! –The Foiling Week founder Luca Rizzotti will chime in from Lake Garda to explain the vibe when the world’s top foil designers get together to create the future of the sport -AND contributions from other influential visionaries including radical kite foiler Bryan Lake, Waterlust Project filmmaker Patrick Rynne, US Sailing Executive Director Jack Gierhart and more!!! This is the HOTTEST TOPIC in sailing today and since there has been overwhelming interest in this discussion, Thursday’s talk will be broadcast LIVE with the help of LiveStream producers. A Q&A will be held with the live audience and a TWITTER Feed @Oakcliff will be used to handle questions from viewers around the world.

G4 Foiling Cruiser/Racer Catamaran on trials April 2015

G4 Foiling Cruiser/Racer Catamaran on trials April 2015


Kite Foilboarder BRYAN LAKE fresh from Foilboarding Gold Cup in La Ventana

What a year 2014 was. Besides a normal pipeline filled with marine-based writing assignments, I had the fortune and privilege of producing a mini-documentary for The New York Times and PBS on the New York to Barcelona Race. Working with some of the world’s top visual journalists defined a very real distinction being created in modern media where video news is not just videographers’ footage being edited by a producer, overseen by an editor. I wrote more about the experience for the Times’ Lens Blog. The professional sailors I was with, in this case, work hard for their salaries and the conditions, both on the sea and contractually, are often rough. But what an amazing life to capture.

Isle a Vache, Haiti

Isle a Vache, Haiti

This year began in a much different fashion for me. January produced an assignment that took me through the trash-choked canals and streets of Port au Prince, Haiti, to an orphanage on an island void of cars or electricity where some children are laying on the ground, with various disabilities, unable to move, and onward to a rough neighborhood in Jamaica and finally into the bizarre time warp that is Cuba.

Next up is the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Caribbean 600, February 24, where my assignment is to document the experience of racing aboard a classic yacht, in and out of the islands of the Caribbean. And like the rest of the Caribbean racing circuit, we will see the luxury and squalor of these islands each day when we walk the streets and travel the harbors. It is always a bitter sweet experience when you are on your way to a regatta party with flowing Rose’ and you pass people living under ratty blue tarps with little, if any clothing covering them.

Children-only Birthday Party, Isle a Vache, Haiti

Children-only Birthday Party, Isle a Vache, Haiti

January’s trip, aboard the Gannon and Benjamin wooden schooner Charlotte was 180 degrees off what the 600 represents. That was a humanitarian trip that, strangely, Charlotte’s owner, designer, builder, Nat Benjamin took because it was the most rewarding and enjoyable way to spend his time. Nothing gives Nat more pleasure than to load his boat with supplies (donated sails and tools, boxes of crayons, canvases, garbage bags and a few hundred clothes pins), at his own expense, and sail through a snow storm from Martha’s Vineyard to Isle a Vache, Haiti, and deliver these items to people who seem to have nothing.

As I write about all the major yachting events of 2015 I will certainly have a different view of who the heroes are in our sport. Professional sailors have chosen their careers. They earn an income and their personal “brands” are pushed out to the world through every imaginable technological platform. They are paid to do what they love and their challenges inspire us.

Nat Benjamin on dawn watch aboard Charlotte in the Windward Passage

Nat Benjamin on dawn watch aboard Charlotte in the Windward Passage

Nat Benjamin has also chosen his career and his sailing experience. And though his Caribbean winter experience is vastly different than most of ours (paying thousands of dollars to help teach art to children and bang in rough-hewn garboard planks so a family can continue subsistence fishing), he reminds us that a sailing hero does not have to be eating freeze dried meals in between lifting tons of sails while sea water is being fired at their bodies.

Apartment living across street from El Capitolio (Capitol building), Havana, Cuba

Apartment living across street from El Capitolio (Capitol building), Havana, Cuba

I will share my work on these Caribbean adventures as it is released in the Times Travel section, Sail, Sailing and Wooden Boat. And I am excited to continue looking at the sport of sailing and its players through an ever-changing and focused lens so we all can gain a broader perspective on its relevance today.

Shorthanded sailing, the massive challenge of sailing solo or with just one other across oceans, is one of the most compelling, dramatic athletic endeavors imaginable. Though satellite and broadband technology has allowed these adventurers to transmit the world this strenuous lifestyle, we are only seeing part of the story.
By its nature, these disciplines of sailing are solitary endeavours. The camera is only on when they are speaking to it. And with two, you only see one usually, not the team working seamlessly together.Image

I have always wanted to see deeper into the hidden rhythms of these sailors and surprisingly the Ocean Masters Series has taken a tremendous leap and dropped media crew members and reporters on the IMOCA 60s for the NY-Barcelona Race.
I am writing from the transom of Hugo Boss while American Ryan Breymaier and Spaniard Pepe Ribes feel eachother and ghe boat out sailing from Newport to NYC.
I will becreporting fir the New York Times all the way to Barcelona starting June 1.my challenge is being thar fly on the wall to allow their natural rhythm and feel for the boat, the weather and eachother show through.
But i am sceptical. Another human im their space has to have an impact. Their tongues will surely be bit a few times. Over the course of two weeks at ses, however, patterns will emerge for me to capture in words, images and video that have not been seen before from these superhumans who can race non-stop around the world, alone, inside of three months.
This is a first in this discipline and we will see!

For the first time in the modern history of the Volvo Ocean Race, a large portion of the skippers and sailors will be newbies to the race. Most have never lapped the planet on a sailboat. This is in stark contrast to previous races where only the most elite helmsmen – Chris Nicholson, Paul Cayard, Frank Cammas, Grant Dalton – have been able to garner the support of top sponsors and yacht designers to compete. This rarified atmosphere was the driving principle of what is considered the marquee professional ocean race in the world.

SCA Womens VOR Team

SCA Womens VOR Team

This fall we will all see a new race with the same challenges of ocean, mind and body, but with a new one-design Volvo Ocean 65 to defray costs and eliminate the quess work in designing and building a custom racer that could be the key to winning or losing before the race even starts. This is race director Knut Frostad’s vision and with nearly all boats spoken for and teams already training, Frostad’s concept already has legs. Will the infusion of new, yet untested talent prove to keep the level of racing high this fall and the return on investment for sponsors even higher? Time will tell. But this bold move is a very modern style of thinking brought to a very established sport. I remember when the Volvo 70 first hit the water and I sailed a punishing upwind leg in 2006 for The New York Times. The boats changed the sport of ocean racing and provided a drama and backdrop to exploit what was already a compelling and harrowing event.

The May issue of Seahorse Magazine (UK) has a brief analysis of this evolution of the race that has allowed for the first major paradigm shift in professional ocean sailing since Sir Peter Blake and his generation basically created professional offshore sailing. Blake personally found the funds, created a team, and took a professional approach never before seen in the sport. Dennis Conner did the same and all those crews and those to follow never knew a world where sailing wasn’t a full-time profession.

In my article I focus on the creation of Team Alvimedica and its American leaders Charlie Enright and Mark Towill. Much like Blake, these two sub-30 year-old sailors created their own opportunities. But before Knut’s visionary move with the Volvo, these two would have been a decade away from leading their own Volvo team. They and several others teams in this year’s Volvo have been fast tracked with equal boats and a more robust marketing package from the VOR.

Here is a selection from my interview with Charlie done at his home Bristol, RI on an ice-covered day this winter. It is exciting to speak with someone on the threshold of the greatest opportunity of their career. You will here in his voice and read his words and see that regardless of age or experience, the Volvo has opened the doors to a very worthy batch of freshmen to the race who know no different than being payed to race full-time. This is certainly a notable milestone in the sport and it will be fascinating to watch this next race play out.


It is uncanny how the sea and sailboats offer the most unimaginable adventures and, in turn, education, one can ever experience as a human being. Some discover this right off the bat as a young child exploring shallow bays in a dinghy. Others spend their last hours, and dollars, sailing in a straight line for as many days as possible to soak up the grandure that is life on this aquatic planet.

Jesse Smith serenades his daughter with his Ukelele 500 miles from Virgin Gorda.

Jesse Smith serenades his daughter and his mother, far left, with his Ukelele 500 miles from Virgin Gorda.

I know three families who have come to this realization at mid-life and luckily for them, they have young children whom they can share their wanderlust. And these sailors have done what seems to be the hardest part in taking a grand adventure: they actually moved onto a sailboat!

One couple has spent years angling to actualize their experience as charter captains pre-children and re-explore the caribbean with their son and daughter. Another has found a life, they hope, will re-define their core reliance on each other and allow them to educate their children in an open and inspiring way. Yet another couple, spur of the moment, decided circumstances were ripe for an adventure and recognized the potential to create a family connection beyond almost anything you could accomplish on land.

I will write about their diverse stories. Each family comes from a very different socio-economical background and has different interests and approaches to navigating through life. And it is wonderful to watch those approaches unfold in their boat and homeschooling choices.

Now, I would like to share with you the spark, or baby steps of one of those families. Jesse Smith and Annice Kenan have chosen, or in some ways were chosen by, an 11-year-old traditional Gannon and Benjamin Schooner named Rebecca of Vineyard Haven. While their two young daughters transitioned into homeschooling last summer, Jesse completed a major refit of the boat’s hull and electrical systems. They had a brilliant shake down in Maine but friends and family were usually in the mix. Two weeks alone gave them a taste of family freedom. Then came the raucous fall reach to Bermuda and the Caribbean with wiley friends. Now the Smiths and the two other families, all well acquainted, are in the Caribbean attempting to avoid the temptation to swim all day, or think of a way to make a lesson plan out of all the wondrous natural and cultural glories that accompany touring and passagemaking.

l-r, Amanda Sparks (1st mate), Richard Feeny and Dave Fallon (cook), off watch in North Atlantic.

l-r, Amanda Sparks (1st mate), Richard Feeney and Dave Fallon (cook), off watch in North Atlantic.

In the images here you see the Rebecca of Vineyard Haven crew, one being Richard Feeney, a professional sailor and coach who is notable for his success with Tommy Hilfiger in the Extreme Sailing Series and running the education programs at the Herreshoff Museum. You’ll also see Tim and Dave Fallon singing a song they wrote one night at sea on Rebecca. Tim is a two-time ISAF team race world champion and owns a magnificent, engineless, 28-foot wooden catboat Kathleen.

Enjoy their inspiration and I hope you find your own. It’s all around in our sport. And it is addictive. When Tim and Richard returned from the delivery, they spent a December Saturday in 17 degrees match racing in Beetle Cats.

Tim Fallon (green sail) and Richard Feeny reach to the finish, 12/14/13, Sakonnet River.

Tim Fallon (green sail) and Richard Feeney reach to the finish, 12/14/13, Sakonnet River.

Team Snarky striped bass carcass Rally Flag 2013

Team Snarky striped bass carcass Rally Flag 2013

The only thing we expected about his year’s Archipelago Rally was having a fantastic time on the water. The unexpected was the icing on the cake at Quonochontaug Pond with aqua marine colored water and white sand shoals the size of football fields, there was a lot of walking of boats and damaged rudders and centerboards but nothing could dampen the Rally spirit!

Tim and Benjamin Fallon 2013 Archipelago Rally

Tim and Benjamin Fallon 2013 Archipelago Rally

The highlights this year weren’t that there were 35 craft and more than 40 kids sailing or that the breeze and bright sun made for a spectacular venue. I would say the main takeaway was the fact that two young girls were second and third and that a windsurfer won for the first time in the eight year history of the event. The third place girl miraculously has placed in the top five each time she has competed! We tell everyone, it is impossible to plan on winning the Archipelago Rally. Just ask new;y anointed head of sales for North Sails, Kimo Worthington who was on his way to a top three finish before hitting a shoal. He wound up steering the boat to the finish with his legs hanging off the transom while Bridget Murphy trimmed the sail on their wooden Penguin dinghy.

Hambletons in Dyer around the rock with the Collins fam in the Mirror "Dark Knight"

Hambletons in Dyer around the rock with the Collins fam in the Mirror “Dark Knight”

There are many more fun facts and I will send a report to the online media folks. For now, enjoy the links to the pictures and Annie Tuthill’s fabulous film (she has yet to miss a rally and her father drove to Vermont to pick her up from school just for the Rally). And finally, HUGE thank you to not just all the volunteers but to Mike Mills of Jamestown Distributors (who also took some great shots here) and their Total Boat line of products, and Mike Sarnowski of Mad Athlete, they both had all their children sailing.

Rally on!

Rally fleet at Quonny Pond 2013

Rally fleet at Quonny Pond 2013

Special Awards:

Broken Head Perpetual (first place): Will Tuthill, Mistral Windsurfer

Last Place: Matt Gineo, Crosby Fast Cat

Lonely Loon: Rush and River Hambleton

Furthest Traveled: Ray Garcia, Zef, Babylon, NY

First All Family: Tim, Karen, Benjamin (2) and Jamie (2 months) Fallon, Beetle Cat

Vintage Rallier: Adam Walsh, McCaffery-built Peapod Sailing Dory


It was 2006 when Olympic silver Medalist Bob Merrick won the inaugural Archipelago Rally on a beat up Hobie 14 by a mear 30 seconds over windsurfing champion Nancy Johnson. That first weekend in December was thrown together the week before with a few phone calls and emails and with a 20-25-knot Westerly, about a dozen “craft” raced, slowest starting first, to Spar Island, a scrubby little sand bar in the middle of Mt. Hope Bay.

Seven years later and the infants that were on the beach that day were all on the water in 100-acre Cove in Barrington in 2012, about 29 kids in total and some steering their own boats. Wow!

Without getting too far into the history, this post will serve as a detail page I will add to over the next few weeks for this year’s Rally. Please pass along to anyone who is interested in racing ANYTHING THAT FLOATS AND IS POWERED BY WIND!

2013 Archipelago Rally

2013 Archipelago Rally

What? 2013 Archipelago Rally, an annual pursuit race (slowest boats start first under Portsmouth Yardstick Ratings, in hopes all finish at the same time), LeMans start off the beach, with a BBQ/Beach Party afterwards.

When? Saturday November 9, 2013, registration at 10 a.m., first starters 11:45 a.m.

Where? Quonochontaug Pond, Charlestown, RI. Start location and parking at RIDEM Launch Ramp end of West Beach Rd. off Rte. 1 (No Shelter, there will be a Porta Jon). Average depth of pond is 5 feet with 10-20 yards of knee deep water at beach launch.

Who? Anyone! Please bring your dinghy, catamaran, windsurfer etc. and RSVP your boat please with: cmuseler@gmail.com or ezrasmith@yahoo.com

BIG NOTE: Everyone is encouraged to fly a PERSONAL Pennant/Flag from their rig!!!

This year we will have a standard “regatta” liability form noting that all participate at their own risk. This has never been done before but was recommended to avoid any complications.

Otherwise, we provide food, prizes and swag, bring your own drinks and very young kid foods.

Please email with any questions and check this post for updates.


Chris Museler, Ezra Smith


Mohawk Canoe
Mirror Dinghy
Penguin (2)
RSX Windsurfer
Dyer 9
Cape Dory 10
Beetle Cat
Peapod Sailing Dory
Laser Radial
Bic O’Pen
Finn (2)

O’Day 14

French CB Dinghy (Like an FJ)

I know I didn’t. At least it wasn’t until leg three of yesterday’s last race of the day at the America’s Cup that I thought there was a better than 50 percent chance Oracle would win the America’s Cup. Today I wrote a live blog for the New York Times for it’s online race coverage. It was running on the front page of their website during the race and that whole time I couldn’t help think about the Achilles  heel of all athletes. When you have such a big lead in a series, one or two losses don’t dent the armor, unless there are signs of strengthening.

Oracle Team USA retains the America's Cup 9/25/13

Oracle Team USA retains the America’s Cup 9/25/13

When your opponent is getting better with each exchange, it’s human nature to question your abilities. That psychology combined with a true increase in boat speed and more precise tactics put Dean Barker and Team New Zealand squarely on the back foot even when they were at match point. Last week I raced in my eighth US Match Race Championships in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I have been on match point in many finals only to have two losses derail our minds and adding a psychological hurdle we would have rather avoided. Strange as it may sound, this is real in match racing when each race is never over until it’s over. As Jimmy Spithill of oracle said when he was down 7-1, “Stranger things have happened.”

The more delays and abandoned races last week only gave Oracle more time to develop their crew and boat and become stronger psychologically.

Russell Coutts

Russell Coutts

In the end, it seems New Zealand’s boat had reached it’s peak performance early in the series and Oracle’s boat turned out to be a superior design once refined. It was a race against time, in hindsight, from when Spithill’s first boat broke to pieces outside the Golden Gate Bridge. Russell Coutts, the team’s CEO seemed to have known that at the time, that they would need every minute, and every break to win this Cup. It was a master stroke by Coutts to secure five-time Olympic medalist Ben Ainslie for the team before his last Olympic campaign was even over. See how the final boat and personnel development ended up and again I say, Coutts must have known, that all that, and some serious faith and crew spirit, would be needed to keep the America’s Cup in America.


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