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The Year in Sailing (2001)

The year started with a bang as throngs of well wishers witnessed the start of The Race of the Millennium.
Yogi Berra is often quoted as saying, "it ainít over until itís over," but after midnight tonight, year 2001 will be overóanother one for the history books and the memory banks. With the events of September 11 overshadowing so much of the past year, itís likely that a lot of folks in the sailing community will bid good riddance to 2001. Nonetheless, it seems fitting that we take a look back at this point and examine some of the highlights (as well as some of the low points) that collectively mark the last 365 days in sailing. So, to do that we rummaged through the SailNet archives, examined past news items, and checked with a number of our more active contributors to see what they felt should be included. Hereís our salute to 2001:

Highlight    The Race of the Millennium got under way in Barcelona in fine fashion, and essentially delivered on its promise of being an exciting, no-holds-barred dash around the planet.
Low Point    Steve Fossettís 125-foot PlayStation retired from The Race in the early going due to daggerboard damage and a disintegrating mainsail. As a partial consequence, The Race failed to resonate to its full potential among the US audience.

Highlight    Miamiís Acura SORC celebrated its 60th year in existence and over 200 boats turned out to compete.
Low Point    The weather gods opted not to cooperate during the four-day Acura SORC, and the breeze only ventured into the double-digit range for the final two days of racing.

Highlight    Diminutive argonaut Ellen MacArthur stunned her competitors and critics by finishing a very convincing second in the Vendee Globe, becoming the second fastest solo circumnavigator ever. She later garnered numerous honors including Sportswoman of the Year by the BBC and a MBE (Member of the British Empire).
Low Point    The mainstream audience in the US waited almost six months until MacArthurís exploits from the Vendee were aired on prime-time TV in an hour-long special.

By way of her victories and some savvy PR, Ellen MacArthur brought more attention to the sport than any one since perhaps Eric Tabarly. 

    Ian Christenson, 17, donned a survival suit and braved 40-knot winds and eight-foot seas near Seattle to rescue and tow in a 30-foot sailboat and its crew. In recognition of his efforts, which took place after dark, Christenson was later awarded US SAILINGís Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal.
Low Point    Seven other rescues at sea prompted US SAILING to honor individuals who braved the elements to save fellow sailors, but unfortunately we lack the space to name them all here. (Log on to for details.)

Highlight    Herb McCormick, the yachting correspondent for The New York Times, kept sailing in the limelight by filing weekly articles for the Sunday edition of that paper, each crafted in his inimitable style.
Low Point, the innovative online sports and adventure website that so convincingly brought sailing to the broadband audience, went belly up, another in a line of disasters.

", the website that so convincingly brought sailing to the broadband audience, goes belly up."
Highlight    US Coast Guard sources in California announced the apprehension of the 152-foot fishing vessel Svesda Maru 1,500 miles south of San Diego with 13 tons or $500 million worth of cocaineóthe largest marine bust ever.
Low Point     Pirates board a Canadian sailorís boat to rob him off the coast of Mexico. In the process they slit his throat and left him for dead. His boat was lost as a result and he ended up penniless.

Highlight    Bruce Schwab gots his Open 60 Ocean Planet in the water and right off the bat the boat offered some impressive performances.
Low Point    Several months after launching, Schwab had to forgo a number of marquee events due to an on going lack of sponsorship for his 60-foot speed machine.

Highlight    The Great Lakes Tall Ships Challenge Race brought a fleet of classic vessels to a string of midwestern ports from the eastern end of Lake Ontario to northern Lake Huron with an estimated two million people witnessing the action throughout a month-long agenda.
Lowpoint    Midwest sailors Shelley Hind and Guy Hornet perished in the Fourth of July Doublehanded Challenge from Port Huron to Rogers City, MI when 40 to 50 knot winds and 18-foot waves hit the fleet and turtled their 40-foot catamaran.

Highlight    The EDS Atlantic Challenge brings the thrill of crewed Open 60 racing to the US for the first time, landing articles in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today.
Low Point     Less than an hour after the EDS Atlantic Challenge restart in the Chesapeake Bay, Roland Jourdainís Sill Plein Fruit loses its mast, dousing any hopes that one of the other five entries might unseat Ellen MacArthurís runaway winner Kingfisher.

Behemoths like the awe inspiring J/Class boats Endeavour (background) and Shamrock V highlighted the festivities at the America's Cup Jubilee in Cowes.
Highlight    Thousands of sailors descended on Cowes, England for the America's Cup Jubileeóa glorious weeklong celebration of the sport and itís traditions.
Low Point     SailNetís Editorial Director publishes an article questioning aspects of the Jubilee and gets suitably slammed with a backlash of criticism.

Highlight     In response to the tragic terrorists attacks of September 11, sailing organizations around the US organized fundraisers for the victims and their families. One event, Sail for Pride in Newport, RI, raised almost $100,000.
LowPoint     Sailing organizations in various parts of the world cancelled events (the Melges 24 Worlds, the St. Francis Big Boat Series among them) out of respect for the victims and caution regarding the potential of additional terrorist activity.

Highlight    The Volvo Ocean Race got underway and its first two legs featured tight competition among the eight-boat fleet with five finishers arriving at the second stopover in Sydney within 60 minutes of each other after racing for nearly 6,000 miles.
Low Point    The all-woman entry in the VOR (Amer Sports Too) struggled to be competitive, prompting one sailing journalist to allege sandbagging, and then their boatís forestay parted in the first phase of Leg Three.

   For the first time in the history of its Boat of the Year program, Cruising World magazine named a multihull as its overall Boat of the Yearóthe South African built Voyage 440.
Low Point    None of the boats named as category winners in the magazineís contest are available for less than $115,000.

Steve Fossett's 125-foot PlayStation rocked the sailing world with an amazing new transatlantic record.

Steve Fossett and his talented team aboard PlayStation set a phenomenal new record for sailing west-east across the Atlanticó4 days, 17 hours, and 28 minutes.
LowPoint    En route to the UK in an attempt to establish a new transatlantic record (with an ABC news producer and cameraman on board), Cam Lewisí maxi cat Team Adventure suffered crippling damage when the port bow sheared off due to a collision.

Highlight    Environmental causes got renewed hope when world renowned sailor Sir Peter Blake was named as an official envoy by the United Nations.
Low Point    Just five months later, Sir Peter Blake was tragically murdered in the act of defending his 115-foot research vessel the Seamaster against modern-day pirates. The sport lost one of its best advocates, practitioners, and role models.

Highlight    Captain David Clark at long last finished his protracted circumnavigation in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, to become the oldest person on record to singlehandedly sail around the world.
Low Point    Earlier in his voyage, off the coast of South Africa, Capt. Clark abandoned his boat, Mollie Milar, and in the process lost his beloved canine shipmate Mickey.

That's our list. We're certain to have omitted deeds and sailors, accomplishments and events, so if you like, point them out for us. Otherwise, here's wishing you a Happy New Year.

Suggested Reading:

The Year in Sailing (2000) by SailNet

Honoring America for the Jubilee by John Rousmaniere

The Making of a True Master Mariner by Dan Dickison

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