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On Sailboats with Dieter Loibner

W. Starling Burgess: A man of prodigious talents and controversies

sailboats1How many times this past week did you use the term polymath? Me? Less than once. It’s a word that is rarely used because people who know a lot about a lot are not en vogue. We are a society of experts who seem to know much about little and learn more about less until we know all about nothing. That, perhaps, is the pinnacle of expertise.



The new Js are beautiful and fast, but they’re not classics

sailboats1It was a gray day off California. Under a thinning blanket of fog, the Pacific was yawning and stretching to wake up, its surface barely rippled. But aboard the J Class yacht Endeavour, a 130-foot steel colossus with a displacement of 160 tons, the rhythmic up and down of the residual swell was noticeable.



A German classic finds new life in her old roots

The 1853 revenue cutter Rigmor enjoys a blustery day on the Elbe River.

Slowly the black-hulled vessel backs into her berth. A lively cross breeze turns this process into a balancing act, especially for the skipper, who has to work the throttle in reverse while handling the monstrous oak tiller to counter the leeway of the bow. With some help from bystanders, she’s made fast so her guests can disembark and make way for the next group, which is eagerly waiting to board.



Reviving a race — and the work of a design legend

Farr Yacht Design was tapped for the new 65-footers sailing around the world in the Volvo Ocean Race.The office walls behind Chris Cochran are covered with an armada of half models. Among them are Sayonara, Steinlager 2, Leopard, Plastic Fantastic and one that’s simply known as the Big Boat, an odd creation with an overall length of 133 feet that New Zealand used in 1988 for its Deed of Gift challenge for the America’s Cup, thus creating scandal and scrutiny.

These are mementos of an illustrious past at Farr Yacht Design in the Maritime Republic of Eastport, Maryland, but Cochran deals with the present and its own realities.



Racing to Alaska for a pile of cash

The Hitia 17 catamaran of the Searunners team might not be the fastest boat in the Race to Alaska, but it's versatile, with a simple sailing rig, two paddles and, possibly, a bicycle-like propulson setup.“The most engaging conversation is an argument.” That’s how Jake Beattie frames his proposal, which, of course, is a take on messing about in boats. Beattie is executive director of the non-profit Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Washington, and he advanced the idea for the Race to Alaska: 750 miles, no engines, no support, no excuses.



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