'Kinship' Across the Atlantic

Saga 43 Sailplan
It is official. Thanks to the nice email I received from Tim Szabo the other day, Mia and I will be heading across the Atlantic again next spring. This time onboard Kinship, a Saga 43, and via the southern North Atlantic route through Bermuda and the Azores. We will actually be participating in the ARC Europe rally, getting a chance to sail in an event I worked on last year. The event finishes in Lagos, Portugal, a part of the world neither Mia nor myself has ever been, which is rather exciting (we have also never visited the Azores - part of the reason we went north on our boat last year was the inkling that we would likely get the chance to see the other route professionally someday; we never thought it would be this quickly though. Thanks Tim!). Though we have great fun working on-event for stuff like this (and plan to continue to do so), the ultimate goal has always been to keep sailing, so when the opportunity came up it was an easy decision.

Mia and I met Tim and Teresa in Tortola during the finish of the Caribbean 1500, which they had participated in to bring the boat south from the Chesapeake. Tim asked us to come by the boat to talk about sailing her to Europe. I do not have much experience with a Saga, but I was impressed when he showed us the boat, and I am more impressed after just reading a few things about it on the builder's website. The 43 is in my opinion, by far the nicest-looking boat that Saga makes. I look forward to sailing it.

Bob Perry designed the boat, taking cues from modern shorthanded ocean-racers like those in what used to be the BOC. The design brief was essentially opposite of what you find in typical production boats, emphasizing sailing ability and seakeeping qualities over interior volume. It is a narrow boat and long on the waterline. Read about the Saga 43 here

ARC Europe Route
It is quite interesting how we ended up in this position. I have never really been a fan, philosophically, of these cruising rallies, and yet this will be the 4th one I have participated in (my Dad has done one as well without me - by next summer, between he, Mia and myself, we will have done 9). Since working on the organizational side of things I have come to appreciate the attraction, and I respect the World Cruising Club for their emphasis not so much on safety in numbers (but heavy on safety in general), but more on the educational and social side of things. The seminars and talks they host are well-attended, and often by less-experienced sailors. There is a big opportunity to get across messages that emphasize the 'Right' way to do things at sea, from preserving the world's oceans to how to behave on the radio. 

The ARC in particular gets some high profile sailors and boats. I am working on a story for the website right now about just that - I had a conversation yesterday with the crew of Vaquita, an Akalaria 40, which includes Andreas Hanakamp, the ex-Volvo Ocean Race skipper of Team Russia. His Segelwelt company manages various sailing projects around the world, and his enthusiasm for the sport is infectious. Magnus Olsson, the skipper of Ericsson 3 in the last Volvo is crewing aboard the Swedish yacht Triumph, a Baltic 64 that arrived yesterday. Mia and I have a 'date' with him tomorrow afternoon on our day off to discuss my story. 

Phaedo, the Gunboat 66 cat that was third across the line in ARC this year, won line honors in this past summer's Trans-Atlantic race from Newport to the UK, beating out the Maltese Falcon at the finish. Andreas Hanakamp told me that several ex-Volvo sailors were aboard Med Spirit, the maxi that took line honors in ARC this year (and then promptly departed for Martinique). So despite my reservations about events like this - I still would not do one on my own boat, the reason we went north on Arcturus last summer - I now understand the attraction, and am delighted to be able to participate on other people's boats. 

Hanakamp incorporates good-for-the-world initiatives into his programs as well. Last year Vaquita was named We Sail for the Whale - both years, they promoted the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, to raise awareness. Check out the ARC 'Features' page tomorrow for more details. 

Hanakamp said it best yesterday - "it's all about expectations," he told me. "I love working with people, managing their goals (whether it's the Volvo or something like ARC), and achieving success." His passion for the sport is infectious, and it is easy to see why he would enjoy the ARC as much as the Volvo. He told Mia later, when she went out on Vaquita to watch Scarlet Oyster finish, that "people love sailing with 'legends'."

Anyway, to my 'enlightened' self, these rallies are similar to a marathon or triathlon. You can run 26.2 miles by yourself, but a lot of the time it is more fun surrounded by thousands of other people who share a similar passion. That, above anything else, is why these events are so popular - and why, with the right attitude, they can be fun.