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Living in the Scuttlebutt World

Published on August 10th, 2023

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
Growing up along the canyons of Los Angeles, wildfire season was an annual event. The threat was often in the distance, but once my neighborhood was not so lucky. As embers traveled in the air, the young me was on the roof with a garden hose, extinguishing their threat. We were lucky, others were not.

But nothing prepares you for what occurred this week with the fire on Lahaina. A wall of flames (click here) where the only escape is a leap into the ocean, saved by the Coast Guard, is unimaginable. For Lahaina Yacht Club and nearby harbor, this historic town is forever changed. Prayers to all!

In far less threatening terms, it is also hard to imagine where the TP52 Class is now. In what was intended to be a yacht capable for both inshore and offshore in the Transpac Race to Hawaii, it has done both with such mastery. Terry Hutchinson has a lot of inshore miles on the boat, and shares (click here) why he thinks it’s the coolest yacht he has sailed.

It isn’t always easy to see the work of a national sailing authority, but US Sailing made a good move for the sport when it revitalized its youth championship events (click here). I hope they continue their focus on Corinthian sailing and teaching (and not catering to the top of the pyramid) as this is what solidifies the foundation of the sport.

I have a lot of years in the Snipe Class, and a lot of miles crisscrossing the USA, so it was great to read about (click here) a resurgence of activity in one of my many stops: Lincoln, Nebraska. The modernization of the boat, to make it better suited for ocean sailing, has not been kind to the inland lake fleets. However, there is nothing quite like the scent of meat grilling when racing. Good times!

My harbor in San Diego hosts a very active replica of America which helped to launch the America’s Cup, plus the 80+ foot IAACs that competed for the Cup between 1992 and 2007. Combine that with the 12 Metre fleet in Newport, and it is these enduring yachts that keep this event unlike any other. The “boats” used today won’t leave that legacy, but at least the 2024 competition will have some connection to the past (click here).

The commercialization of the sport has leveraged greenwashing to gain attention, and at times it seems we forget that events are about competition. We certainly receive a lot of marketing spin on the topic, which can bring out the ‘Curmudgeon’ in me. The SailGP league is very adept at this (click here), but I should recognize that any effort to heighten legitimate environmental issues is a good thing.

The third year of the 4-year Olympic cycle is put up or shut up time as nations seek to earn entry and sailors seek to earn selection. The drumbeat will be load as 1200 elite competitors descend on the third-largest city in the Netherlands (click here) in hopes of fulfilling dreams. Good luck to all!

Closer to home, I will be enjoying a visit at the Snipe US Women’s National Championship in San Diego, CA. Great boat, class, and venue. I will also be sending my good vibes to Janel Zarkowsky and her team who will represent Scuttlebutt Sailing Club in the US Women’s Match Racing Championship being held in Annapolis, MD. Great times for women!

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