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On Sailboats with Dieter Loibner

America’s Cup fever reaches China’s shores

Former Chinese basketball star Ma Jian (center) trains in San Diego with the sailing team, which needs more money, better sails and more time on the boat to compete with the top teams.The Auld Mug in China? What once might have sounded like blasphemy is becoming a distinct possibility. Yes, for the first 132 years the America’s Cup was the Americans’ cup, but since Dennis Conner lost it to the Australians in 1983 the ewer has gone cosmo. New Zealand and Switzerland won it twice, keeping it out of the United States for 15 years before software tycoon Larry Ellison won it back last year with a gigantic trimaran.

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A new warrior to fight for the environment

(From left) Harald Fassmer, CEO of Fassmer Shipyard, Melina Miyowapan Laboucan-Massimo, godmother of the ship, and Capt. Joel Stewart were on hand for the launching ceremony in Berne-Motzen, Germany.She’s new, she’s grand, she’s green, and she’s registered as a yacht. She even has a rainbow and a dove painted on her bow, which makes her the third Rainbow Warrior, the latest flagship of Greenpeace.

Designed by the Dutch naval architecture firm Dijkstra & Partners and home-ported in the Netherlands, this 190-foot two-master will carry the Greenpeace message of environmental activism to all points of the compass. The christening ceremony Oct. 14 in the small town of Berne in northern Germany commemorated the 40th anniversary of Greenpeace and marked the beginning of a new era, which will bring new challenges but no change in the organization’s core values.

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Nine lives for an elegant schooner

Martha is expertly campaigned and maintained by the Schooner Martha Foundation and has gained iconic status in the Pacific Northwest.Steady, steady as she goes. Silently, effortlessly, the staysail schooner Martha glides through the calm water, passing the waving and camera-wielding crowds on the bulwarks of Point Hudson. It’s the traditional sail-by at the end of the Port Townsend (Wash.) Wooden Boat Festival, and with her gleaming spars, white topsides and light-green sheer stripe (it’s actually called Martha green), she’s the hometown boat, the belle of the ball. Her decks are stacked with friends and supporters.

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The cat-crazy men who got me sailing

The author's father, bitten by the catamaran bug, built Bob Harris' Sunburner 27 design for family cruising.The rain was relentless, splashing up my pants, pouring down my collar and making me shiver with cold. The state of the atmosphere was less than ideal for an urban bike safari in Vancouver, British Columbia, but the physical discomfort pedaling along False Creek was tuned out by memories of my youthful sailing adventures in a time that through the prism of age seems gentler, slower, less complicated.

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The day I sailed a sea monster

Mar Mostro has a shot at becomming the first U.S.-flagged boat to win the Volvo Ocean Race.The engine roared, and the yacht with the spellbinding paint job heeled over to make it easier for the less-than-athletic specimens of the media horde to climb on deck. The scene was more reminiscent of a metro bus that “kneels” to help riders board than an all-out extreme ocean racer.Mar Mostro — Italian for sea monster — the new Volvo Open 70 of the Puma Ocean Racing team, was on her best behavior on a calm Narragansett Bay, her movable ballast producing dramatic heel while the boat was practically inert. She’s a third-generation VO 70, built at New England Boatworks in Portsmouth, R.I., and based in Newport. My visit came a few days before the boat entered the 2011 Transatlantic Race, where it was going to finish preparations for the nine-stage, nine-month, 39,000-mile Volvo Ocean Race, which starts Oct. 29 in Alicante, Spain.

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