It’s hard to believe I’ve been with SAIL for three years as, truly, it’s flown by. It has been such a joy to write for this magazine, meet our community through your feedback emails and at boat shows, and lead our DEI initiatives. From sunglasses reviews to 12-Metre features, I’ve covered a plenty of ground during my time here, but there are certain articles that hold a special place in my heart. So, to celebrate my three-year anniversary, here are my three favorite stories I’ve worked on for the magazine:
3) Best Boats 2020
For my first year being part of the judging panel for SAIL’s Best Boats competition, I sailed and explored quite a few boats, but there’s one I will never forget. During the Annapolis Boat Show, I went to see the Tiwal II on a tiny beach in a residential neighborhood well away from the rest of the festivities. There were a few prospective buyers checking them out, so I hung out with the designer, Marion Excoffon, while waiting. She is a talented, inventive designer, and we hit it off right away. Before even getting onboard, I was sold on the concept of a beachable, portable, race-able sailboat that packed down small enough to fit in the trunk of my car.
Despite being inflatable, it felt and moved like a regular dinghy, but with the benefit of not sanding down the gelcoat if you wanted to drag it up on shore. One of the things that had been emphasized to me again and again by both Marion and her colleagues was how easy this boat was to right once tipped. As we launched it into the Chesapeake, I turned to Marion and asked if I could give it a go. She just laughed and encouraged me to flip it. Needless to say, it was every bit as easy to right as advertised, and I had so much fun tumbling into the drink that I did it a few more times…. For science.
Later that day I returned to SAIL’s HQ with my hair still dripping, much to the delight of the other editors who may never let me live down that time that I tipped a boat I was supposed to be testing. But I said it then and I’ll say it again, given my age and lifestyle, this was the only boat in the whole show that I would want to own.
To read the article, click here.
2) Green is the New Black
The shipping industry is looking back in time for answers about how to green up their businesses, and wind power is making a comeback. As sailors, we all know that it’s the preferred way to travel, but it was still something of a surprise to find out how seriously it’s being taken by the maritime transportation industry. The International Windships Association (IWSA) is an organization dedicated to promoting wind-powered shipping. “It’s my job to sell the concept that wind works and is a real solution for shipping. It’s our member’s job to sell the technology they’ve created to make it happen,” The IWSA’s secretary Gavin Allwright told me in a 5:30 AM phone call (he lives overseas and is an extraordinarily busy guy). From cylindrical turbines to kite-like sails to just doing it the old-fashioned way on a tall ship, the range of possibilities is staggering, and we’re sure to see more innovation in the years to come.
It’s easy to look at the climate projections and despair but talking to people who’re actually doing the work to change it gave me hope. The science was fascinating, and the people were sincere and passionate about making a difference.
For more on how the shipping industry is using wind power, click here.
1) The Great Schooner Race
Visiting Maine’s Windjammer fleet is an otherworldly experience, and this trip remains one of my most cherished sailing memories. There’s something truly magical about leaving the internet behind and disappearing over the horizon on a boat that feels straight out of history. Spending soft summer nights on deck with the stars glittering above and music of a single violin drifting across the water from the windjammer anchored nearby? Priceless.
I sailed aboard Dennis Gallant’s Angelique but had a chance to meet skippers from across the fleet and can assure you that they’re all knowledgeable and full of personality. Some of the boats are more rustic than others, so before booking check to make sure you’re okay with the amenities available.
Cruises aboard these boats range from a few days to a whole week and often have themes like photography or history, during which you’ll be in all the best spots right at sunset or you have a guide to share facts about your surroundings. Visitors can be as involved or uninvolved with the operation of the ship as they’d like, so if you’ve ever dreamed of being a sailor during days of old, you can help raise sails or even steer (though, a word of warning, they are not light on the helm!). The people are kind, the food is wonderful, and you’ll get to try the kind of sailing that most only dream of.
To read about the Maine Windjammer fleet, click here.
And one to grow on?
My honorable mention favorite article has to go to Making Maiden. This article is about Tracy Edwards and the documentary made about her Whitbread team. In the 1980s, an all-female team sailing around the world was mocked in the press. But Tracy knew she could do it and begged and borrowed her way to the starting line. They didn’t win, but they were fierce competitors who forced the sailing world to take female sailors seriously.
I caught her and the film’s director Alex Holmes between events at Sundance. They say you should never meet your heroines, but interviewing one of sailing’s most relentless, visionary sailors was a delight and an honor. If you have not seen this film, that’s your homework tonight. Go home and watch it. It is an inspirational, breathtaking film like no other.
To read more about the race and documentary, click here.