Peter Nielsen

Why Sailors are Highly Strung

17 Mar

Show me a boat that doesn’t have a bag of assorted offcuts of sheet, halyard, warp and string buried in a cockpit locker, and I’ll show you a powerboat. It’s impossible to separate sailing from rope, and I don’t know why you’d want to. Separating sailors from rope can be nearly impossible too. Rummaging around at the bottom of other people’s lazarettes, I’ve more than once dredged up some scruffy, diesel-stained, ratty bundle of rock-hard ancient anchor warp or a prehistoric genoa sheet that’s fossilized into the form of a nightmare pretzel. “Ah,” the owner says sheepishly, “Thought that might ...

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Winging It

17 Feb

Wingsail tech is going mainstream

PN-Trickle-down economics might not have worked out so well for most of us, but the technological trickle-down from the most recent America’s Cup seems to be falling on fertile ground. First there was what you might describe as the legitimization of foiling; the idea that a boat can rise above the waves and proceed at thrice true windspeed is no longer the province of the sort of wild-eyed evangelistic character you wouldn’t want next to you on the subway. Production-built foiling catamarans are already available. There’s plenty of experimentation going on with foiling monohulls too....

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Group Think: a Rough Rally Passage and the Questions it Inspired

12 Feb

It’s old news by now that back in early November, a half-dozen boats entered in the Salty Dawg Rally from Hampton, Virginia to the British Virgin Islands got into all sorts of trouble in the Gulf Stream. A couple were abandoned, and others were dismasted or had steering problems. I remember that night vividly (though certainly not as vividly as those who suffered through it), because while the proverbial stuff was hitting the fan a few hundred miles south, I was sitting in a multiplex watching a lethargic Robert Redford trying to save his damaged boat in the movie All ...

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Showtime in Germany

31 Jan


If it’s January in Germany, all roads lead to Dusseldorf. At least they do if you’re a boat person or any other kind of watersports person. Sailors, powerboaters, kayakers, scuba divers, fishermen and anglers flock here by the hundreds of thousands to take in the delights of the world’s biggest boat and accessories show.

You could look over a hundred-foot motoryacht that’s been plucked from the adjacent Rhine river and deposited in a hall that would swallow a dozen such, go paddle a canoe on an intricately landscaped mock river, cast a fly on an alpine stream, be rescued from ...

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No Place Like Home

17 Jan

There’s nothing like a story on the best places to sail to start a bit of a debate. Last time we ran one, some SAIL writers weren’t too happy that their own home waters were not included. Doubtless a lot of readers will feel the same way. You’d think that predictable breezes, ample sunshine, plentiful and attractive anchorages, and interesting topography would comprise irrefutable proof of one region’s superiority over another, but sailors mostly being independently minded, stubborn people, that would be too easy. Of all the elements that shape a total sailing experience, these are only the tangible ones....

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