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On Sailboats with Dieter Loibner

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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‘Hippy Paddy’ follows in the wake of giants

Paddy Macklin drew inspiration from Joshua Slocum, Bernard Moitessier and others in sailing an engineless 27-footer around the world,I recently dug through the dusty contents of my personal library, which has been living in exile ever since we moved to our current house four years ago. Shame on me, I know. But picking through stacks of books was reminiscent of browsing a well-stocked nautical used-book store before that species went extinct.

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A son inspires a father’s boat design

Len Doriean created a working model of D'autre part, the cruising boat he and his son, Peter, conceptualized.I caught up with Arthur Leonard Doriean in Auxerre, 100 miles southeast of Paris. He was on his 38-foot canal boat, Merrigan, with his wife, Marion. As practicing Francophiles, they split their time between their home base in Australia and voyaging along the canals of France. “We’re retired, and that’s our eternal summer,” quips Doriean, who goes by Len. “For us, it’s bateau, not chateau.”

But as comfortable and practical as his bateau might be for canal touring, it’s a far cry from the vessels Len used to sail across the deep blue and the one he is building down in Queensland on the other side of the planet. Len, who has a full head of gray hair and a nicely trimmed beard, was wearing metal-rimmed glasses and a casual shirt with an unbuttoned collar, and he smiled into the camera as he spoke. There was that nagging Skype delay and the echo, but he came across loud and clear.

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Back to my roots to sail a Six Meter

Four's Company (from left): Ingo Hopfgartner (co-owner), Michael Kopezky, Wolfgang Jobstl (co-owner) and Otto StornigGrowing up, I had ambitious dreams. Now, at an age when my knees are getting creaky — and my mind perhaps a little leaky — I still dream, but I also return to places I left for larger, greener and more exciting pastures. Touching home base on one of those trips recently added a chapter to my sailing experience that had eluded me for five decades.

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