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On The Bay: May 9, 2012

A great story has been made available from our friends at Scuttlebutt, the daily online sailing newsletter. It is about a wounded veteran of the Iraq war. And while readers may wonder what this has to do with sailing, read on to see what one individual is doing to help other veterans.

American Ronnie Simpson is a wounded veteran of the Iraq war. The 27-year old was wounded in combat in 2004 and eventually medically retired. Now, an aspiring solo ocean racer, he’s completed one Single Handed Transpac, and this summer he’s doing the race again - on his Moore 24. Simpson claims that sailing has pretty much saved his life, a life that at 19 years of age he wasn’t sure he wanted after returning severely injured from Iraq.

Hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, his injuries were mostly concussive related to the explosion. Both of his retinas were detached - his right retina has a large tear in it and both cataracts were replaced. He took burns to his face and upper body. He was in a medically induced coma for 18 days. He broke every rib on his left side, and had to have half of his left lung removed with surgery. He suffered ruptured intestines and spleen, and if that wasn’t enough, sustained temporary brain damage.

His discovery of sailing came literally at a moment when he’d reached an all-time low in 2008, long after his return to civilian life. His brother called and suggested that they buy a boat to sail around the world. For whatever reason the vision set with Ronnie and he instantly began researching sailboats. He’d previously never set foot on a sailboat.

Today, Simpson lives on a cruising boat in Alameda, California, with his Moore 24 tied up on the same dock. His sailboat racing is sponsored by Hope For The Warriors (HFTW), an East-Coast-based nonprofit that aids veterans returning to civilian life. It’s the first time the organization has been involved with sailing. Simpson’s working not only to raise awareness for HFTW, but also for the bigger cause that he’s championing - introducing wounded veterans to sailing. The benefits? Sailing is inspirational and that’s what returning vets need, Simpson said. “I’m passionate about sailing and I want to use this tool to inspire these guys,” he said. “I don’t care if they ever take to it but my goal is to inspire these individuals through sailing to not give up and that they can lead fulfilling, rich lives.” To read more about Ronnie Simpson, go to: http://sailblast.blogspot.mx/2012/04/opportunity-for-wounded-vets-to-learn.html

The online magazine Practical Sailor (www.practical-sailor.com) announced that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has approved a promising new technology for man-overboard incidents – and there have been many such events recently resulting in the loss of life.

According to a press release issued recently from Kannad Marine, the FCC has approved for sale in the U.S. Kannad’s SafeLink R10 SRS, a personal Automatic Identification System (AIS) device designed to be worn by individuals and activated to assist in man-overboard recovery.

Its usefulness to the offshore sailor who worries about man-overboard recovery seems self-evident. The new technology will be particularly handy for cruisers who venture far afield, where self-rescue is the only real option.

Worn on a life jacket and activated by simply sliding off the safety tab and lifting an arming cap to deploy the antenna, the SafeLink R10 sends structured alert messages, GPS position, and a special identity code directly to AIS receivers within an approximately four-mile radius. The position data is generated by a built-in GPS receiver that updates every 60 seconds. Using location, bearing and range data indicated on the AIS receiver displays, crew members or nearby sailors will be able to locate the man overboard, greatly increasing chance of survival.

The R10 can also be professionally fitted to a life jacket so that it automatically activates when the life jacket is inflated. A flashing LED light aids location at night. The R10 is guaranteed to transmit continuously for 24 hours and has a seven-year battery storage life. It is just less than 5 inches long and 2 inches thick, weighs 4.23 ounces, and is waterproof to 15 feet. The devices will be hitting the market soon.

The researchers at Practical Sailor will be testing this product as soon as one becomes available. One detail they are interested in is the range and reliability of transmission when the unit is attached to an inflatable life jacket. Retail price in the U.S. is around $350. For more information, go to: http://www.practical-sailor.com/blog/-10795-1.html.

There are a couple of interesting events that readers may enjoy. One is an event down at North Cove Marina and the other is a video that you can watch right from your computer. New York will be start city for the new MOD70 class’s first ever trans-oceanic race. The class, a one-design 70 foot trimaran conceived in 2009 and designed by VPLP to provide evenly matched high speed racing, will set off on July 7th for the MOD 70 KRYS Ocean Race’s across the North Atlantic to a finish in Brest, France. The five teams will initially be based in Newport, Rhode Island at the Newport Shipyard between June 28-July 2. Ahead of this 2,950-nm race, a 120-nm prologue from Newport to New York starts on July 2 to a finish line off the Statue of Liberty on July 3. The fleet will then dock at Manhattan’s tranquil North Cove Marina. On July 5, a speed match will be held on the Hudson River at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. The MOD 70 KRYS Ocean Race will begin on July 7 at 1100hrs (EDT). Competing will be: Race for Water (Steve Ravussin), Foncia (Michel Desjoyeaux), Edmond de Rothschild Group (Sebastien Josse), Spindrift Racing (Yann Guichard) and Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet).

Each week, Scuttlebutt highlights a good video and last week they picked a really good one about the Star Worlds. Since the Star boat was born here in Port Washington, this video has local interest. A short description of the video, courtesy of Scuttlebutt: One of the magic events next year in the U.S. will be the Star World Championship 2013, hosted by San Diego Yacht Club in September. This event will be the perfect storm of goodness. First you have September in San Diego, possibly the best weather of the summer and all the Zonies have gone home. Then you have the Star class, an elite group now in its second century. Combine these two elements with San Diego Yacht Club, hallowed ground for Star World and Olympic champions, and you have... a perfect storm of goodness. It’s never too early to get a good buzz on, and this week’s video starts the party. Courtesy of Star sailor and video guru Isao Toyama. To view this video, visit this link: http://www.sailingscuttle butt.com/media/12/0413/.