Skip to main content

Small Stuff Jan 2007 Florida & the South

Sailors ‘humbled’by their awards

Florida sailor Paige Railey and Mike Sanderson of New Zealand were named the ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year for 2006.

At the Nov. 8 awards ceremony in Helsinki, Finland, 19-year-old Railey and 35-year-old Sanderson were honored for outstanding sailing achievements. Railey has proven herself the class act in the Laser Radial women’s fleet, crowning her 2006 season with a Gold medal at the Olympic Test Regatta in Qingdao, China. Sanderson skippered the 70-foot race yacht ABN AMRO One to an overwhelming victory in the Volvo Ocean Race, which concluded in June.

Railey won the award ahead of an impressive list of other female nominees, including the Spanish team who won the Yngling World Championships and British sailor Dee Caffari who became the first woman to circumnavigate the world single-handed, sailing in a westerly direction against the prevailing winds.

“To be included on this list of esteemed sailors is an incredible addition to my sailing accomplishments,” said Railey.

“It is a fantastic honor to receive the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award,” Sanderson said, who was honored over other male nominees such as Peter Gilmour and Yves Parlier. “The ABN AMRO One story in the Volvo Ocean Race is a childhood dream come true, not just for me but for the whole crew. It’s something which my whole career has been focused on achieving.”

A podcast of the event may be found at .

Lexcen and Van Dyck lauded by Cup luminaries

Close to 200 people came from as far away as Australia to the Rolex America’s Cup Hall of Fame annual induction ceremony, held Oct. 26 at the Union League Club in New York, N.Y.

They came to laud the late Ben Lexcen (New South Wales, Australia) and fellow honoree Stephen A. Van Dyck (Clearwater, Fla.).

“Three years ago when I was here in this room, receiving this honor, it was easy for everyone to get up and go, but not for me,” said keynote speaker Gary Jobson, reflecting on his cancer treatment at the time of his 2003 induction. “Isn’t it special to be in this room with Olin Stephens, Tom Whidden, Bill Ficker, Baron Bruno Bich, Sir Michael Fay and Bruno Trouble?”

The presentation on Ben Lexcen showed TV footage from what is now known as the “Race of the Century” when, in 1983, Alan Bond’s Australia II — designed by Lexcen and skippered by John Bertrand — beat Dennis Conner’s Liberty. At one point in the race it looked as if Liberty had wrapped it up, but when the two boats split tacks on the last downwind leg, Australia II sailed by to victory. It was the first challenger ever to win the America’s Cup, breaking the 132-year-old winning streak. For his triumph, Lexcen was later awarded a Member of the Order of Australia.

Accepting the induction on behalf of Ben Lexcen was his stepson Chris Wise, who was 16 at the time of the famous match and did not travel to Newport, R.I. “Ben was a great sailor,” said Wise. “He loved his family, loved his three Ferraris. He would get up in the middle of the night to figure something out and could easily solve any problem given to him.” Wise went on to explain what Ben’s induction into the Hall of Fame meant to his family, paraphrasing an old quote, “There are probably a dozen Einsteins who are short order cooks because they are not aware of their potential. He would have been proud to join his fellow Australians in the America’s Cup Hall of Fame.”

Pride also characterized the feelings of Bill Ficker, the skipper of Intrepid in 1970, about inductee Stephen Van Dyck. “We held no tryouts,” said the Hall of Famer. “The youngest crew was 23, Steve was 27. They were all small-boat sailors. I wanted to sail a 12 Meter like a small boat, very adjustable and with alert crew. They all had a great attitude and never made a mistake.”

As Ficker’s tactician, Van Dyck called the tactics and directed the sail trimmers. This was in part necessitated by Intrepid’s deck-sweeping boom (grinders were below deck), which prevented the skipper from seeing to leeward when steering upwind.

Van Dyck epitomized the skilled and successful Corinthian yachtsmen who crewed Cup boats during the 12 Meter era (1958-1987). Peter Wilson, a fellow America’s Cup afterguard crewmember, described Van Dyck’s expertise. “Stephen Van Dyck knew 12 Meters inside and out. He had the incredible ability to understand and implement match racing tactics. Most of what everyone needed to learn, they learned from Steve. He was the perfect No. 2 to Bill.”

Upon his acceptance of the induction, Van Dyck said, “This is a fantastic honor. As an aspiring naval architect, to be inducted with Lexcen is an honor. What Ben contributed is remarkable.”

The 15th Annual America’s Cup Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place in Valencia, Spain, in the summer of 2007. For more information visit .

Rolex partners with U.S.-IRC

The United States-IRC Foundation announced that Rolex Watch U.S.A. has become the sole commercial supporting partner of the US-IRC rule, joining with three major senior yacht club Partners — New York Yacht Club, Storm Trysail Club and St. Francis Yacht Club — to promote and enhance big-boat inshore and offshore yacht racing throughout the country.

The partnership arrangement is effective through 2008.

The IRC is the only rating rule that has been granted “international” status by ISAF, and is used worldwide at a variety of racing levels, ranging from club and local series to such major events as Cork Week, the Newport to Bermuda Race and the Rolex Fastnet, Middle Sea and Sydney-Hobart Races. It has been in existence since 1999 — adopted in the United States in 2004 — and is now the basis for more than 7,500 certificates issued worldwide and 625 IRC yachts active in the United States.

As part of its agreement, Rolex will sponsor the 2007 Rolex US-IRC National Championship, which will be held in conjunction with the Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week XXII June 17 to 22.

New model Mahé 36 exhibited at Strictly Sail

The Mahé 36, designed to make catamaran sailing accessible to those new to cats, boasts big-boat amenities.

The exterior design incorporates a sheltered open-plan cockpit and saloon, open and uncluttered deck and cockpit, and centralized control for helming the boat.

Below is a 160-square-foot saloon, more than 6 feet of headroom, and spacious stowage in the kitchen and in the passageways. The Mahé 36 is available in both a two- and three-cabin version.

Pricing starts at about $215,000. The first 30 units have already been sold, according to the company.