Sailing – New England

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Puma hauled for repairs
Puma Ocean Racing, skippered by American Ken Read, finished second on Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Singapore to Qingdao, China.  Puma Ocean Racing is lifted out for repairs and maintenance in Qingdao. There are seven entries in the 2008-’09 Volvo, which started in Alicante, Spain, in October and concludes in St Petersburg, Russia, in June. Teams will sail more than 37,000 nautical miles during the race. Crews departed Feb. 14 for Leg 5 to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The yachts are estimated to arrive in late April in Boston.

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NYYC honors greats with Hall inductions

John Longley and the late Thomas Ratsey will be inducted April 30 into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, during a celebratory dinner at the New York Yacht Club. The event will also honor last year’s inductee, the late John Biddle.

Biddle made his living as a film lecturer, though his cinematography resulted in 40 shows that often focused on the America’s Cup. Biddle raced to Bermuda 11 times and was aboard the winning yacht to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1957. The sailor also crewed aboard square-riggers in the North Sea, sailing the SORC several times.

Longley was made a member of the Order of Australia for his services to yachting in 1984 and is a veteran of five Australian campaigns for the America’s Cup, winning the crown in 1983. Longley was involved in the Australia II campaign, helping skipper John Bertrand select the vessel’s crew. He currently serves as event director for the ISAF sailing world championships, to be held in Fremantle, Australia, in 2011.

Thomas W. Ratsey entered his family’s business at 15. By 1882, Ratsey’s company was responsible for the sails of every Cup challenger up until Shamrock IV. Ratsey was directly involved in seven challenges, and the firm he controlled supplied sails for 10 challengers and for defenders during his lifetime.

Honorees are chosen for their ability, character, performance, contributions and international recognition.

Tickets, as well as sponsorship opportunities, are available by contacting the America’s Cup Hall of Fame at (401) 253 5000, or e-mailing s.watson@herreshoff.org.

Marblehead sailor an Athlete of the Year

Paralympic gold medalists Maureen McKinnon-Tucker of Marblehead, Mass., and her sailing partner, the late Nick Scandone of Fountain Valley, Calif., were named the Team of the Year by US Sailing.

Maureen McKinnon-Tucker of Marblehead, Mass., shared a Paralympic gold medal and Team of the Year award with partner Nick Scandone.

US Sailing chose five 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games medalists and US Sailing Teams AlphaGraphics members as the sport’s 2008 Athletes of the Year for outstanding performance and achievement.

In addition to McKinnon-Tucker and Scandone, US Sailing’s Olympic Sailing Committee named Olympic gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe of Plantation, Fla., and Olympic silver medalist Zach Railey of Clearwater, Fla., as Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year, respectively. Paralympic bronze medalist John Ruf of Pewaukee, Wis., is the Paralympian of the Year.

These winners were all first-time Olympians and Paralympians.

Scandone and McKinnon-Tucker won a gold medal at the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Regatta in China. While they had only been sailing together for a year, Scandone and McKinnon-Tucker proved to be an unstoppable force in a competitive double-handed fleet. Their win was also the first time the U.S. Paralympic sailing team has won a gold medal in the history of the Games; McKinnon-Tucker was also the first female gold medalist in the history of the Paralympic Sailing Regatta. Scandone and McKinnon-Tucker endured an especially challenging Paralympic campaign this year, as they, and their families, overcame many medical obstacles. Scandone died in January from the effects of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

US Sailing announces top youth teams

Thirty-five youth sailors have been selected for the newly launched US Sailing Under 18 (U18) and Under 23 (U23) teams.

These athletes have been identified as future Olympic prospects. The organization will provide the two new teams with elite-level coaching, as well as educational, administrative and logistical support throughout the year.

The U18 team includes the top sailors in the Laser Radial (boys and girls), 29er (open) and I420 (boys or girls) classes, who were born after Jan. 1, 1991. The U23 team consists of the top sailors born after Jan. 1, 1986 in each of the Laser and Laser Radial classes.

For information, visit www.olympics.ussailing.org.

U.S. Sailing recognizes outstanding coaches

U.S. Sailing’s Olympic Sailing Committee picked three sailing coaches for the 2008 Coaches of the Year awards. Based on nominations from the public, the committee named Betsy Alison of Newport, R.I., as National Coach of the Year; Brett Davis of Naples, Fla., as Developmental Coach of the Year; Carrie Rohde of Richmond Hill, Ga., as Volunteer Coach of the Year.

As coach of the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Team, Alison was the driving force behind the team’s gold and bronze medals at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Qingdao, China. She created and manages the entire Paralympic sailing program, from the budget to shipping to training and development. She has been instrumental in building one of the most successful and elite Paralympic sailing programs in the world.

Brett Davis’ specialty is coaching elite-level youths and Olympic-caliber sailors who are highly motivated. In 2008, Davis was the coach of the Laser and Laser Radial sailors on the 2008 U.S. Youth Worlds Team, an elite team of sailors aged 18 and under. He also coached the team that competed in the Laser Radial Youth Worlds in New Zealand, as well as many high school, national and international events.

Carrie Rohde has made a huge difference to the sport of sailing. Thanks to Rohde, sailing has become the most popular sports team at Richmond Hill High School in Richmond Hill, Ga.

Coville finishes solo round-the-world

Thomas Coville crossed the finish line Jan. 17 aboard Maxi Trimaran Sodeb’O on his solo round-the-world record attempt aboard a multihull.

The sailor completed the circumnavigation in 59 days, 20 hours, 47 minutes and 43 seconds. He is the third sailor after Francis Joyon and Ellen MacArthur to have successfully sailed around the world without stopovers. Each of them, as well as Olivier de Kersauson, have paid tribute to the skipper of Sodeb’O and his performance.

Alone aboard a demanding 105-foot boat, constantly pushing back the limits of extreme fatigue, Coville racked up the fourth-best time around the globe, behind the crews of Bruno Peyron (2005) and Steve Fossett (2004) and the solo sailor Francis Joyon (2008). Though he was unable to outdo Francis Joyon’s performance in terms of speed during his circumnavigation of the globe, Coville beat his own 24-hour distance record on Dec. 7: 628.5 miles at 26.2 knots.

“Bravo Thomas,” says Joyon. “Although you weren’t victorious, the record only just escaped you and, most importantly, you managed to overcome all the difficulties and all the risks, which form part of the charm of a solo round the world aboard a multihull.”

“Only three people in the world know the brutality and stress of a round the world without stopovers aboard a multihull,” says MacArthur. “I have the utmost respect for what you’ve just achieved.”

This article originally appeared in the April 2009 issue.