We had the pleasure of interviewing ocean racer Tracy Edwards in anticipation of a fantastic new sailing documentary called Maiden that tells the story of Tracy and her all-female crew racing around the world in the Whitbread Round the World Race back in the late 80s, early 90s. It’s an action-packed film that is as much about sailing as it is about the evolution of a society’s attitudes and mores towards women.Continue reading
So you’ve checked out of ASA 101, 103 and you’re in the middle of completing 104. You know you like this sailing stuff and you also know that you are going to buy a boat of your own. Yachtworld.com has been bookmarked and your lunch breaks are spent scrolling, clicking and dreaming. We understand. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you consider buying a sailboat.
Ah, the sextant… that odd magical contraption that sleeps in an aged wooden box and stored in a seldom-used locker. Every once in a while you break it out and it’s glorious to behold – there’s poetry in its very existence. You look at the curves and the shiny mirrors, then you spin the dials – they feel substantial and real. You gaze at the increment markers and numbers and hold it in your hand just as Captain Cook’s navigator did with something oh so similar. As you feel the weight of this incredible innovative invention you mutter, “I wish I knew how to use this damn thing…” And you put it back into the really cool wooden box.
We all know sailboat racing is a common means sailors use to stay on top of their game, improve seamanship and have fun on the water, but lots of folks bristle at the idea of sailing as competition. For many it’s the absolute antithesis of that. The idea of replacing the contemplative peace associated with a beautiful day sail or cruise with friends and family with the intensity and controlled chaos of a sailboat race is nothing short of insane to many a sailor. However, these same sailors might admit, perhaps begrudgingly, that racing does have something that’s kind of cool… an active community.
We had the privilege of catching up with world-renowned sailor Peter Isler to get his thoughts on the state of sailing and racing today:
In the famous film The Graduate, released in 1967, Mr. McGuire takes our protagonist aside and says: “I just want to say one word to you, just one word… plastics.”
It was a quirky little moment in a quirky little film, but today that line seems prophetic and maybe slightly disturbing, knowing what we know. What was a wonder material that checked so many boxes for manufacturers – cheap, strong, malleable, durable, lightweight and so much more – has become an environmental blight. Its ubiquity has overrun us and turned this industrialist’s dream into a murderous toxin that marches forward getting bigger and meaner with every soda bottle, drinking straw or snack wrapper that accrues in the world’s oceans. Today we find ourselves faced with managing a dilemma we didn’t expect. It wasn’t thought through or perhaps it was just innocent ignorance, but our oceans and its inhabitants are now paying the price. So what to do?
From where we sit, an organization dependent upon the world’s waterways, we proselytize, beg and/or advocate whenever and wherever we can. We support groups and companies that have an interest in the mitigation of harmful plastics polluting the earth and keep an eye out for those who have good ideas. And the good news is they’re out there.
Here’s a case in point. One day we heard about Adidas introducing a new boat shoe to their line of footwear called the Terrex Climacool that was made using “recycled waste, intercepted from beaches and coastal communities before it reaches the ocean.” The shoe was made in partnership with a company called Parley that pushes and facilitates influencers and companies to evoke change. As they put it, to: “Synchronize the economic system of humankind with the ecosystem of nature.”
Adidas has since created other shoes using plastic waste converted into fibers, one of which has a chip in the heel of the right shoe that you can scan with your mobile phone to follow the story of the shoe from plastic bottle to final product and to learn what you can do to help protect the oceans.
We wondered if there were enough apparel companies out there to dress a person in clothing made from recycled plastics and indeed there were… easily.
We followed the Parley trail to the preppy-style clothing company Gant, which created a line called the Beacons Project that uses up-cycled plastic gathered by fishermen in the Mediterranean. They work in connection with Seaqual that makes fibers from recycling the plastic collected at the bottom of the sea.
Parley also led us to G-Star Raw that makes denim with plastic fiber from recycled waste. Famous clothing designer Stella McCartney has integrated these materials into some of her lines.
Also, world-famous surfer Kelly Slater created Outerknown that uses recycled fishing nets and nylon surplus that is then transformed into premium nylon jackets and board shorts.
In addition to companies that make clothing, we also came across companies that make other items such as sunglasses, water bottles, and more. For example, NortonPoint makes “sustainable sunglasses from ocean plastic and plant based materials” and in addition to their products they also “reinvest 5% of net profits into research, education and development efforts towards stemming the impact of ocean plastic.”
But to complete our mission of dressing a person from head to toe using clothing made with recycled materials, one needn’t go further than a company called Repreve. They transform plastic litter into a usable fiber for textiles and supply no less than 58 different brands with materials that use these fibers to make clothing and accessories. Big names like Roxy, Quicksilver and Patagonia to lesser-known companies that make flags, bikinis or backpacks are all using recycled plastic to make their products.
The only not-so-great element in all this is that this pesky plastic still finds its way back into the ocean via washing machines. For example, a shirt made from plastic fibers gets washed and tiny fibers get torn off during the washing process and ride that water flow back into the ocean. To deal with that, there is a push for washing machine manufacturers to make screens that catch these particles. Yeah… it’s always something, but at least we’re seeing a large number of companies stepping up and acting conscientious in their manufacturing methods and that’s cause for hope.
The American Sailing Association urges you to support companies that look to make the oceans a more pristine and healthy place for the sea creatures who reside there and ultimately… us.
With summer in full bloom, I sit here on a mooring thinking… What are some things I’ve learned the hard way on this boat? There are more than this but this is what I came up with today. Feel free to share your own if you’re not too proud.
Sail trim is a big part of a sailor’s knowledge base. Here’s a little quiz to see if you know some of the pertinents. Passing doesn’t mean you know it all and failing just means you have to hit the books. Have fun!