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50 Years of SAIL


Back in early 1970, Bernie Goldhirsh and the recently founded “Institute for the Advancement of Sailing,” publisher of an annual sailboat and gear guide, launched something called SAIL. A half-century later, a look back at the magazine’s first few years provides a glimpse into a whole other world—albeit a world that still looks refreshingly familiar.

Long Live the Cup


Here in the second decade of the 21st century, it’s hard to imagine just how important the America’s Cup once was. Before the advent of such events as the Whitbread race (now The Ocean Race) and the Vendée Globe, the Cup was the world’s premier sailing competition, bar none. Twelve-meters represented the sport’s cutting edge; sailors like Ted Hood (far left) and Ted Turner (near left) were larger than life; the boats were crewed by amateurs from their country of origin; and corporate logos were strictly verboten. A simpler time, perhaps, but a no less competitive one!

The Age of the Ketch


Looking back at SAIL and sailing in the early 1970s, one of the things that stands out is the profusion of ketches. Today, even the largest boats are typically sloops. But 50 years ago, when things like self-tailing winches and headsail furlers were either nonexistent or still in their infancy, it only made sense breaking up your sailplan into a number of smaller, more manageable pieces. Aesthetically, you’ve also got to love how salty some of those old boats looked.

Sail Tech


In the early days of SAIL, polyester, or Dacron, sails were still noteworthy. It wasn’t long, though, until even this iconic “miracle” fiber began feeling the heat from such new kids on the block as Kevlar. Then, of course, there was the “blooper” (or “Streaker” as Watts sailmakers so charmingly called their version), which sailors of a certain age will recall was once all the rage (like streaking). Alas, it turns out sailing dead downwind is slow—not to mention downright scary aboard boats designed according to the old IOR rule—no matter how much sail you set. That said, those sails did make for some great covers while they lasted!

New Gear


As much as boats and sails have changed over the last 50 years, the various bits and pieces that make them work have changed even more. Hard to believe that when SAIL first came out in 1970, mass-produced furlers were only just coming to the market; windvane self-steering was still state-of-the-art; and VHF radios were a rarity. As for GPS, it was still only a gleam in the Department of Defense’s eye, and radio direction finders were king. If anyone out there actually has a Whistler handheld radar in their possession, please let us know. We’d love to check it out.

The Shape of Speed


The world of competitive sailing was a very different one back in the early 1970s. The IOR rating rule was dominant, and Florida’s SORC (Southern Ocean Racing Conference) series was the place to be for any designer or boatbuilder looking to make a name for themselves in between America’s Cups. Hints of the future, though, could be seen in the form of early wingsails, sailboards and increasingly speedy multihulls.

October 2020


Alexforbes Archangel1-1 (14)

Cape2Rio Draws to a Close

With just four boats still on their way, it has been a long road to Rio for the fleet competing in this year’s Cape2Rio. Larry Folsom’s American-flagged Balance 526 Nohri took line honors and a win in the MORCA fleet, finishing with a corrected time of 18 days, 20 hours, and 42 more


Close Encounters: A Star to Steer By

I first met Steve and Irene Macek in the proper way—in an anchorage full of bluewater cruising boats. This was in St. Georges, Bermuda, in the spring of 2019. Theirs, without doubt, was the most distinctive boat there—an immaculate, three-masted, double-ended Marco Polo schooner more


The Ocean Race Leg 2 Kicks Off

After a trial by fire start to the race and only a brief stop for limited fixes, the five IMOCA 60 crews in The Ocean Race set off for Cape Town, South Africa, early on January 25. Despite arriving somewhat battered in Cabo Verde, an African island nation west of Senegal, the more


Cruising: Smitten with a Wooden Boat

I was sailing down the inner channel of Marina del Rey under a beautiful red sunset when Nills, one of the crew members on my boat, pointed out an unusual and unique-looking 40-foot gaff-rigged wooden cutter tied to the end of a dock. Its classic appearance was a stark contrast more


Racing Recap: Leg One of The Ocean Race

New to spectating The Ocean Race? Managing Editor Lydia Mullan breaks down everything you need to know to get started. more


From the Editor: Keeping the Hands in Hands-On

SAIL Editor-in-Chief Wendy Mitman Clarke enjoys a sunny autumn cruise in her Peterson 34 on the Chesapeake Bay. It was late afternoon just after the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis when I climbed aboard the last boat on the schedule. I and others who review and sail boats for more


B&G Announces New Zeus S Chartplotter

B&G has long been putting out top-of-the-line electronics, but the new Zeus S Chartplotter is a new take on the best way to give sailors the exact information they need, when they need it. “So many more people sail shorthanded these days, whether as a couple or when they’re more


Charter: Mission to Mars

In the wake of the pandemic, many sailors are seeking adventure and grabbing onto a vision of their best lives. For some, that may mean sailing across the Atlantic with the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) while for others, it could be a yacht charter in the Caribbean. The more