2010: The Year in American Sailing

2010 has been a year of drama on the high seas, and one of change and excitement for ASA. Here’s a rundown of some of the big news from the past year:

TOP SAILING STORY OF THE YEAR: Abby Sunderland

Wild Eyes adrift
Photo courtesy of Australian Search & Rescue, via http://soloround.blogspot.com
Nothing else in the maritime world even came close to equaling the notoriety (and controversy) of this 16-year-old Californian sailor’s odyssey. Sunderland departed from ASA’s home port of Marina Del Rey, CA in January, attempting to become the youngest solo circumnavigator ever (a record previously held by her older brother Zac). She successfully rounded Cape Horn, but on June 10, in the stormy Indian Ocean, she lost radio contact, and shortly afterward activated her emergency beacons. It was widely feared that she was lost at sea. However, she was found alive and well by a search & rescue aircraft and retrieved by a French fishing vessel on June 12. The event sparked a massive debate in the media and among sailors about the wisdom of this, and other, similar, world record attempts, as well as who should be responsible for the cost of the rescue, estimated to be between $200,000 and $300,000. Sunderland has been criticized as reckless by some, and praised for her courage and fortitude by others.

For her part, Sunderland is undeterred and has stated her desire to attempt another circumnavigation in the near future. She also has a book about her experiences due out in 2011, and apparently there is a documentary in the works (just announced today). (ASA’s Meghan Cleary covered the incident as it happened here and here.)

OTHER NOTABLE STORIES: The Gulf Oil Spill, Laura Dekker embarking on circumnavigation at age 14, Jessica Watson completing solo circumnavigation at age 16.

BIGGEST NEWS FOR ASA MEMBERS: Sailing Made Easy and ASA Social Media
sailing made easy
In March, ASA released Sailing Made Easy, the official textbook for ASA 101, the Basic Keelboating course. A great deal of effort and expertise went into creating this book, a full-color introduction to the essential skills and lifestyle of sailing. It’s an indispensable manual for new sailors and a handy reference even for experienced salts, featuring beautiful photography from Bob Grieser and edited by sailing legend Peter Isler. Heck, it even has waterproof covers. (Available through our store.)

2010 also saw the emergence of ASA’s Social Media Gateway. Meghan Cleary was brought on as our first Social Media Coordinator and got us off the ground. In October Meghan moved on to become ASA’s writer-at-large and, more importantly, to cruise the tropics in her 35′ cutter Velella. I (Ben Miller) replaced her and it’s been a blast getting to know ASA members and immersing myself in the sailing lifestyle (even if most of that immersion has taken place in an office). My New Year’s Resolution? To get out on the water with ASA! (You can find my “Introduction” post here.)

NOT TO MENTION: The launch of the ASA iPhone App, flotillas to a number of alluring locales, and our ever-increasing membership, to whom we want to say a huge THANK YOU!

WHAT DOES 2011 HAVE IN STORE?

Short answer: Who knows?
sailing away
ASA certainly has a number of exciting projects in the works, including the continued expansion of our Local Sailing Clubs, more fantastic flotillas, and other things I’m not even at liberty to talk about yet! My personal goal is to get as many people as possible press-ganged into our scurrilous crew on Facebook and Twitter, in addition to reading this blog.

However, as all sailors know, the true adventure often lies in the things you can’t plan. So here’s to 2011 and the mysteries it may hold. We’re crowding sail toward the horizon, and very glad you’re with us.

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