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On The Bay: April 4, 2012

An interesting story appeared in my inbox this past week, compliments of Scuttlebutt. It is extreme racing up close and personal. And since the weather has been nice, most likely anyone owning a boat was either frostbiting, or in the boatyard either preparing their boat for the spring or thinking about it. So the story below is just a tease to all you sailor-racers out there… to get your blood flowing a bit faster, and get you motivated to launch your boats. While Manhasset Bay is not the Southern Ocean, it is ours, conveniently located right out our backdoor.

This is about the Volvo Ocean Race, which now finds the fleet in the Southern Ocean, you know that body of water that sends chills up and down our spines when we think of the racing conditions that Mother Nature provides to those who so blatantly defy her powers. This specific story involves Puma Racing, Ken Read, skipper. And before, dear readers, you dismiss this skipper as one really weird, crazy person; know that Ken is a perfectly normal guy who likes a challenge. Yours truly met him up in Newport years ago and had a chance to speak to him last summer when he was in Port Washington for an America’s Cup reunion at John Thomson’s waterfront party. Ken Read is one of those special people who in your lifetime you are happy you have had a chance to meet.

The story goes like this: It may have been the sea gods of the Southern Ocean that first said, “If it was easy, anybody could do it.” For the Volvo Ocean Race fleet now traversing this stretch of water, nothing has been easy. Here are reports from onboard Puma... Ken Read, skipper: “This is the leg that just keeps on giving. First a storm right out of the gates. Now, relentless wind pressure is bringing cold but still not frigid winds from the south. The waves are both impressive and intimidating in this part of this world. The massive swells are... who knows... 30-, 40-, 50-feet tall. Ask anyone on any of the boats and I am sure you would find a different but still very large number. It’s the waves within the waves that get you. They seem to go every which way. Oh, and the fact that we are about as far away from land as you can get. Also, it is blowing between 30-50 knots the last few days. Sound like fun?”

Amory Ross, media crew: “I don’t know how it happened, but on a boat laden with fancy doodads, gizmos, and thingamabobs, somebody forgot to put on a thermometer. Consequently, the only way to tangibly see the temperature is through the rigidity of our chocolate. The current batch of 11 Mars bars - one for each of us - is frozen solid, so it must be cold (this, in stark contrast to the last two legs, where chocolate was more or less liquefied in high heat), and we can now all see our breath in the air. The water temperature is showing 11-degrees Celsius (that’s 50-degrees Fahrenheit), and I’d put the air below that, maybe around 40? 35? Doing the dishes is chillingly painful, and it takes a ton of soap just to get anything off the silverware. Today I saw Ryan come down, light a burner, and hold his glove-covered hands over it for a minute or two.” To really get an idea of the conditions facing not only Puma Racing, but all the Volvo Ocean Racing teams, you may want to check out the Puma video: http://youtu.be/o3B90t72s0I.

For those unfamiliar with the Volvo Ocean Race, a little background information: During the nine months of the Volvo Ocean Race, which started in Alicante, Spain (Oct. 29) and concludes in Galway, Ireland during early July 2012, six professional teams will sail over 39,000 nautical miles around the world via Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland, around Cape Horn to Itajai, Miami, Lisbon, and Lorient. Teams accumulate points through nine distance legs and 10 in-port races. http://www.volvooceanrace.com.

Having said all this about the Volvo Ocean Race, readers may be interested in the following: Volunteers are needed to help the race. The Volvo Ocean Race will be making its only North American stopover in Miami, with the fleet estimated to arrive by May 6. During the two weeks that the fleet is in Miami, the event village will host sailing and extreme water sports activities, educational programs for children of all ages, interactive pavilions, food, drinks, and more. If you are interested in volunteering, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or go to http://volvooceanracemiami.org/volunteer. How fun would this be – the opportunity to rub elbows with these sailors and to hear their stories.

Speaking of getting ready for warm weather racing, there is something new on the market – or maybe new only to me – that other sailors might be interested in. Great new apps for the iPad have made instant upload of photos to website and Facebook an easy task. But, as anyone knows who owns an iPad, it is not at all water friendly. This can be problematic, especially if you are on the bow of a boat with a camera and an iPad as a Wi-Fi connection. According to PC World, there are protective sleeves for your iPad, iPhone and other devices. These protective sleeves fit tightly around your device and keep them waterproof. Chef Sleeve, CleverWraps and Locksaks are not expensive and might just save your device. And since they are so tight, the touch screen works perfectly. For your non-sailing spouse or friend, these are great covers for the kitchen techie who has cooking apps on the iPad. You can spill that spaghetti sauce or splash from the pot on the stove on your device and know that it is protected. And for curious kids with peanut butter fingers who just wanted to touch the pretty picture on the iPad – no worries. For those who don’t want to spend the money, you can always stick your iPad into an appropriately sized plastic baggie, like Ziploc, but know that input/output ports are not operational with this option.

Finally, from my frostbiter insider: Today was a great Ideal 18 and Laser day with six races for everyone plus a crew race for the Ideal 18s. Vacations and other commitments made for a light InterClub fleet of only two boats. Winds were NNE shifting to NE 8 – 12 knots and the temperature was a perfect 45 degrees. Race Committee provides food each week to the committee and last week they enjoyed wonderful pulled pork from Harbor Q, and even a few sailors joined the RC for lunch. Ideal 18 results for March 25: (six boats) 1. Bob Kirtland and Alan Thomson 2. Mike Silverman and Kelley Barstan 3. Vince/Rita Syracuse and John Bainton. Lasers (two boats): 1. Greg Stebbins and 2. Dan Catanzaro. IC Dinghies (two boats) 1. John Silbersack/Catryn Silbersack.