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Sailing Connecticut & New York - February

Iran releases British sailors

Never has staying on course meant more to a racing yacht than to Sail Bahrain's crew.

Sail Bahrain's crew drifted into Iranian waters, and was apprehended by the Iranian navy.

The crew was stopped by an Iranian navy vessel before the start of the Dubai-Muscat Offshore Race after a propeller failed and the boat may have drifted from United Arab Emirates waters to Iranian waters, according to Andrew Pindar OBE, chairman of Sail Bahrain. The crew was being held on suspicion of espionage.

While the incident was ongoing, he said "Our thoughts are very much focused on the safe return of the crew and in supporting the families who await their return. The Team Pindar crew members on board are a close-knit group who are all qualified sailors and have extensive experience on board racing yachts."

The sailors were later released by Iranian authorities. "It has been an extremely worrying time for all of us and particularly for the families and loved ones of those on board," Pindar says.

He says the sailors, with skipper Olly Smith, were in good spirits throughout the ordeal and were treated well by Iranian officials.

Oliver on the move

Rhode Island's future Tall Ship, the Oliver Hazard Perry, is towed from Newport, R.I., by the tug boat Hope. The 132-foot hull will undergo major steel and mechanical work at Promet Marine Services in Providence, R.I., this winter.  When completed in 2011, the Class A Tall Ship will measure 207 feet and boast a three-masted, square rig that stands 13 stories tall.  It will be a 21st-century version of the naval vessels used in the Battle of Lake Erie, where Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry commanded a victorious fleet.

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Grael and Tunnicliffe named Sailors of the Year

American Anna Tunnicliffe and Torben Grael of Brazil were named winners of the 2009 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards at a ceremony held in South Korea.

Success has seemed to follow Grael throughout the many years of his sailing career. Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and nicknamed "Turbine" for his nautical achievements, Grael has won five Olympic medals, more than any other sailor in history, and can claim multiple world championship titles as well as a Louis Vuitton Cup. His most recent achievement came in the 2008-2009 Volvo Ocean Race, where he skippered Ericsson 4 to a spectacular victory and is the one for which he was recognized this year.

In the last 12 months, Tunnicliffe set her sights on a variety of challenges across a range of boats and disciplines. Tunnicliffe won the gold medal for the United States in the Laser Radial at the 2008 Olympics and has kept herself busy ever since, sailing not only the one-person Laser Radial, but also a Snipe alongside her match-racing commitments.

She was also U.S. Sailing's 2008 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year.

US Sailing pays tribute to Roy Disney

Roy Edward Disney, nephew of Walt Disney, died Dec. 16 after a long battle with stomach cancer. He was 79.

In 2008, US Sailing, national governing body of the sport, awarded Disney its Nathanael G. Herreshoff Trophy for his outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing in the U.S. over many years.

"Roy Disney was great for the sport of sailing. He set a high example for all of us, as a top competitor, visionary and philanthropist. Roy has inspired so many young people to follow their dream of life on the water," said Gary Jobson, president of US Sailing, in a statement.

Disney's involvement in the sport goes back decades. As a longtime, reliable supporter of the sport, his impact has been felt across the board, from youth sailing to the Olympic level of the sport and beyond.

Combining his passion for sailing and for filmmaking, Disney was a powerful voice for sailing, as well as a promoter. His documentary, "Morning Light," which he co-produced with his wife Leslie DeMeuse-Disney, put a new spotlight on the sport of sailing.

"Sailing with Roy was like being adopted by a family," said Stan Honey, board member of US Sailing, in a statement. "He got so much out of his crew, because his loyalty was astounding. His crew was never worried about losing their job. Instead, they just focused on winning."

Mystic River Yacht Club elects officers for 2010

Mystic River Yacht Club's 2009 annual meeting included the election of the 2009-2010 slate of officers and featured a good deal of optimism about the future of the club.

Forrest Cramer was elected as commodore, Philip Shreffler as vice commodore and Virginia Seccombe (formerly the club's longtime secretary) as rear commodore. Filling the secretary position was Catherine O'Brien, while Dom DeGaetano was re-elected as treasurer. Outgoing commodore Tony DeLima will now serve on the board as past commodore.

Joining these flag officers are directors Bill Volmar, Jeff Anderson, Bob Davis, John Wakim and Jay McKernan.

This article originally appeared in the Connecticut & New York Home Waters Section of the February 2010 issue.