A Hacksaw Proves Handy in Bermuda

(featured photo credit:  Americascup.com)

Final Event of 2015, Next Race Chicago 2016

Saturday in Bermuda was agonizing, waiting for wind that never came for the America’s Cup.  Finally in late afternoon the race committee cancelled racing for the day.  Thankfully Sunday’s forecast was better with 10+ knots expected.

Artemis collides with pink umpire boat in race 2.  (photo credit:  America’s Cup).

On Sunday, wind filled in as promised and Oracle Team USA took race one with a last second jibe over the finish line to earn twenty points.  On to race two.

As the six teams lined up for the start, most of the fleet crowded their forty-five foot boats in the middle.  But Artemis turned their blue and yellow catamaran right for the favored side of the start line (favored because it was simply closer to turn number one on the racecourse).

Then, as the nearby picture shows, an umpire boat (pink) collided head on with Team Artemis, wedging under the larger race boat.  Thankfully no one was injured but the Swedish boat was damaged.  The race committee called an “abandon” on the race and reset the countdown clock for another try.

In this new “stadium” style racing, the boundaries, rocks and spectators are always close.  Compare Bermuda’s two-mile legs to the twenty-mile legs of the 2010 Cup in Valencia, Spain.  Just two months ago in Gothenburg Sweden, the same Team Artemis hit the rocks seconds after crossing the finish line.

Team Artemis crew in the water cutting away damaged gear with a hacksaw. (photo credit: Americascup.com)

Back in Bermuda, viewers were almost counting Artemis out.  But Nathan Outteridge (helmsman) and the boys had other plans.  They shook off the crash and set to fixing their boat.  The footage from Bermuda shows an Artemis crewmember in the water with a hacksaw cutting away cables and other bits (photo nearby).

Amazingly, most of the damage was confined to the bowsprit.  A boat can be sailed without that bowsprit, so Artemis was cutting it away.  In fact, the weight loss might be a small advantage.  After only ten minutes of delay racing was back on.

This time Team Artemis won the start and went on to win race two and enough points in race three to win the Bermuda regatta (results down below)!

Hats off to Team Artemis for the comeback and skilled hacksaw work.


bowsprit:  a pole that extends forward of a sailboat’s bow on which larger downwind sails is carried

jibe:  to turn a sailboat through the wind while the wind is from behind so that the wind ends up on the opposite side of the sail.  Contrast with a tack which is to turn the boat when it is facing into the wind.

Final Bermuda regatta results. (photo credit: Americascup.com)
Final Bermuda regatta results. (photo credit: Americascup.com)

America’s Cup: Do You Know Where to Watch it?

(photo credit:  Steve Ward)

Next Qualifying Races Sat Oct. 17 & Sun Oct. 18 @ 2 p.m. ADT / 12 noon CDT Start

Final Cup Two Years Away

With its unusual schedule, the America’s Cup can be hard to follow.  So here is a rundown of how to see the competition in mid-October.

In Person

1 Hamilton waterfront – in downtown Hamilton, Bermuda along Front Street.  Expect live viewing to be limited here because the “race box” is three miles out in Great Sound.  Large screen TVs will show on-the-water action live.  Event details here.

America’s Cup Bermuda Waterfront Village (image credit:  americascup.com)

2 On a boat – in designated spectator areas around the race course.  Register your own boat or buy tickets for a tour boat.  Prices range from $75-110 for single day tickets.  Register at Island Tour Center here.


3 TV ZFB Bermuda – Watch locally in Bermuda.  Go to Bermuda Broadcasting for television information.

4 iPhone & Android Apps – Download apps here.  Availability based on the country you are located in.  I signed up for the app and pre-purchased the event for $7.99 through the iTunes App Store.

5 Radio – listen live at Bermuda Broadcasting Radio.

Sailing in Bermuda. (photo credit: Matteo X via Flickr)


(feature photo:  Flying Junior dinghies at AYC.  Photo credit:  Steve Ward)

“Are there any adult boats?” my wife asked.  Laura remembers the dinghy Anna sailed when she was five.  That boat, for kids up to 14, was the 8′ bathtub-shaped International Optimist – or, Opti as everyone calls it.

A few days later I’m standing on the same floating pavilion where Anna had sailing camp at Austin Yacht Club.  A couple dozen dinghies line the docks:  Flying Juniors, Lasers, Picos and Optis.  A handmade wooden Opti at the end hides under a canvas cover.  These boats are for kids in the junior program but on “free sail” Sundays in the summer member adults can sail them too.  Well, all but the Opti which is too small.

AYC's dinghies are used in the junior sailing programs. The University of Texas sailing program is also based at the club. (Photo credit: Steve Ward)
AYC’s dinghies are used in the junior sailing programs. The University of Texas sailing program is also based at the club. (Photo credit: Steve Ward)

For years I’ve wanted to sail a Laser – this was my chance.  The Laser is a popular, Olympic-class boat (over 200,000 boats in 140 countries according to the International Laser Class Association).  A winner from last America’s Cup, Tom Slingsby, took the gold in Lasers at the 2012 Olympics.

I stood in the 95 degree sun while an AYC coach graciously rigged the tiny mast, boom and white sail. I hop down, sit on the gunwale and put my feet in the cramped footwell.  I have to take off my water shoes, with all the lines and hiking straps in the way.

In the light breeze the boat inches away from the dock.  It’s easy going at first.  I’m only using two controls, tiller and sheet.  When I sheet-in, the skinny mast easily bends back, tightening the draft of the sail.

Whoa!  I have to be careful where I sit.

If I sit squarely on the gunwale in light wind the boat tips over.  I start to learn the motion and the controls.  It’s light air at first, then five minutes later the breeze builds.  When I push the tiller the boat carves smartly through tacks.  I’m all grins and laughing now.  The leeward “rail” dips into the water and I hike out to windward.

I have no idea how fast I’m going, but it feels like flying.

The Laser I sailed at AYC (Photo credit: Steve Ward).
The Laser I sailed at AYC (Photo credit: Steve Ward).

The next weekend I take Laura and Anna with me.  Together we sail on a Flying Junior (or “FJ”).  It’s bigger than a Laser and usually sailed by a team of two.  A few years ago the The University of Texas Sailing Team moved to AYC and trains on FJs there.

The girls loved it.  They sat up front and handled the jib sheets.  I sat in back and handled the main and steering.  Later Laura tells me she learned a lot in just that short time on the FJ.  I’m happy to hear it.  Small boats give such immediate, tangible feedback that you quickly feel what’s happening with the wind and the boat.

A Pico dinghy of the AYC Junior Sailing Program
A Pico dinghy of the AYC Junior Sailing Program