This Is The Reason by Jeremy Pochman and Connor Wallace

Co-Founder of 11th Hour Racing, Jeremy’s goal is underscore the bonds between human and water and land through sailboat racing, recognizing that we can push each other to find better solutions for better sailing practices.

A few weeks ago, my friend and colleague – Captain Connor Wallace – went out for a sail on his Hobie 16.  His goal was to fly a hull over a jetty.  Yes, a rock jetty.  It might sound like a ridiculous endeavor – and perhaps, maybe, it is – but look at what came out of it.  This is the reason, I think, we all sail.  Thank you, Connor.

College Sailing Comes Clean by John Mollicone

John is the Head Sailing Coach at Brown University.  An outstanding coach, and sailor, John’s coaching goes beyond his tactical expertise.  He sets the bar high when it comes to sportsmanship and stewardship.

There is so much information out there about the pollution in our waters and the coastal environment.  The problem is how many of us are doing anything to make things better?  Well, College Sailing (The Intercollegiate Sailing Association) is taking steps in the right direction to ensure that its sailors and coaches are doing their part.  In recent years, College Sailing has instituted rules and policies to bring a different perspective to the world we spend more than half of our year in.  College sailors and coaches practice and compete more than 30 hours per week six months a year making our oceans, rivers, and lakes our home.  If you sail in college then you probably spend more time on or near the water than you do in your dorm room or in class.  Here are some of the ways the college sailing world is making a difference:

Personal Water Bottles: At Brown University, we give each sailor their own water bottle when they join the team.  They bring it to practice each day and to regattas.  It’s College Sailing Policy that each sailor and coach bring their own water bottle to every regatta, eliminating the cases of water bottles we saw for decades.  It is now frowned upon to show up to a College Sailing event with a single use plastic water bottle.  We bring this policy into our daily practices as well.

Powdered Energy Drinks: Sailors are athletes and every athlete needs energy.  Gatorade is popular with our team and instead of using plastic bottles of Gatorade we buy a can of Gatorade powder and our sailors add the right mix to their personal water bottles.

Regatta Hosts Provide H20: At nearly every venue in College Sailing, the regatta hosts provide a water source so sailors and coaches can refill their water bottles.  Zip dispensers, water fountains, and tap water can be found at our weekend events to refill.

Bring a Cooler: Almost every team on the College Sailing Circuit has at least one team cooler to travel to regattas.  Eliminate plastic bags and accumulating trash and keep all of your food in the cooler.  You will save your condiments and left over food for the regatta if you have a cooler to keep everything cool.  You’ll save lots of money as well.

Throw it Out: College Sailing venues are certainly getting cleaner, and picking up trash in parking lots, along the coastline, and in the water is something that college sailors are doing more of.  Having the mindset to keep our waters clean is becoming more evident in the world of College Sailing.  On almost a daily basis, one of my sailors will come along side the coach boat with a piece of trash they picked up while sailing and throw it in the coach boat.  It’s not that hard!

College sailors are carrying these practices into their daily life’s and doing what they can to protect our environment.  Why wouldn’t you when the water is your home more than half the year.


Checking in from Queensland by Emily Summerell

Emily lives in New South Whales, Australia and is 11th Hour Racing’s first junior ambassador.  At 13 she already aspires to sail in the Olympics. 


Recently I went up to Queensland to participate in a  youth week regatta.  This was my first event as an 11th Hour Racing ambassador and was the first time I had the opportunity to look more closely at how a sailing event is run.  The number of committee, coach, support and spectator craft is actually quite staggering.  There were 225 boats racing on three courses, we had a start, finish, top and bottom mark boat, an on water judge and lots of coach and spectator boats on our course.  When you stop to take notice, it is hard to imagine a totally impact neutral, dinghy regatta.


We stayed in a Motel, but the option was available to camp on the Regatta grounds, which a lot of people took up. It is a fantastic idea and credit should go to the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron for making the grounds available.

reusable bottle

At the regatta, there was a spring water bottle set up for people to help themselves to a plastic cup of water. I filled my water bottle from here each morning. This caught on pretty quick and there was a line of kids refilling their single use water bottles from here by the second day of the regatta. On the down side, there were no recycling bins available, so a lot of plastic got thrown in the general waste bin, including all those plastic drinking cups.  Had it been an option, I believe everyone would have used recycling bins.

Perhaps there will be a different set up at NSW Youths Championships coming up in October.  With an expected 200 entries, the opportunity to reduce human impact is there.  For now, I wonder what we as youth sailors can do to create change.  I say start small.  Talk to the coaches, yacht clubs and regatta hosts about their recycling set up.  How will they make water available to sailors and will sailors be encouraged to reduce, reuse, recycle.

If I knew then, what I know now by Dave Rearick

Dave Rearick began sailing as a teenager on the shores of Lake Michigan. Follow Dave’s adventures leading up to his single-handed sailing Bodacious Dream around the world this fall at &


I’ve said it, you’ve said it, everyone has said it at one time or another … but have any of us ever really considered what it means? Just imagine … if you DID know then what you know now? What if you knew about recycling, say back in 1960, or about sustainability when you were 12 or about global climate change in 1980, when you were just 9 years old?

In May, in between Atlantic Cup race legs, 11th Hour Racing and race organizers honored several of us skippers with the opportunity to spend a sunny afternoon in New York City and a drizzly one in Newport, RI with groups of school-aged kids, touching upon all sorts of things sailing and ocean-related. Suddenly, we found ourselves cast into a whirl of questions, laughter and boundless energy, sharing some of what we know “now” about the life we live and love, with kids today … of all ages, a sort of current day pool of “then.”


BoDream’s co-skipper Matt Scharl lets the kids try on a PFD.

We watched 5 and 6 year olds giggling as they turned winches at the dock, 8 and 9 year olds visiting a harbor world in the very heart of their own city, that they probably didn’t know existed, 12 and 14 year olds tossing out questions as they sat on a Class 40 and listened to a skipper talk about sailing across an ocean or around the world. It provided us a special opportunity to share some of our experience – the mistakes, the rewards and the accomplishments with these open, fresh minds that might one day benefit from knowing some of what we know now in their years of “then.”


Matt and Dave field some tough questions.

Of course, nothing can keep these kids from doing their own stumbling, but along the way … whatever touches them today, helps to shape their tomorrows, and perhaps some of what they saw and heard and did, may just stick with them.

It was a wonderful and empowering experience, one I’d not trade for anything. In the course of it, I optimistically hoped that the young girl who climbed all the way into the very front of the forepeak and wouldn’t come out until everyone was leaving, might one day grow to have just as much tenacity and confidence when backed into a tight spot negotiating an environmentally sensitive treaty … or that the group of seven kids, who joined with Sam Holiday, to try with all their might to win a tug-of-war contest against the turn of a winch powered by one small hand, might grow to remember how a group of people can stand up to and eventually hold back the inappropriately powerful turn of a bad industry. And the young girl, frightened to take that step from the dock to the boat, who looked down at debris floating in the water and asked, “What’s that stuff? Might she grow up instead to ask … “WHY that stuff?”


Sam Holiday w/ some of the kids.

Though it seems all fun and whimsical when lively, giggling kids come bounding down the docks, it reminds me of the immense responsibility we have as adults when graced with these chances to help guide and share with young minds some of the knowledge (and more importantly, the wisdom) that we have gathered through our years that might possibly one day help to tip the scales for them in favor of the amazing future that awaits us all, if we learn to learn together.

“Education” is a hotly debated term these days … and as such, its future is questioned and argued daily, mostly by people who are neither students nor teachers. “Learning,” on the other hand, is personal and life-long. You may well use a smartphone, a tablet, an online course … not to mention a sailboat, to educate yourself about something, BUT the true test of what you learned will not be your test score as much as it will be the tangible gifts that a new skill or awareness brings to your life and to your relationships with others.

As sailors know only too well, we all learn from each other. We learn from each other at any age, and so we should try not to hesitate, but to reach out and share our experience … because wisdom, hard won, is one of life’s greatest gifts. But only when it’s shared, does its power to inspire and change become activated.

That seems to me to be the key to building the kind of world where we can learn to identify and solve problems together … because soon enough, we will sail beyond the horizon, and it will be these kids’ turn to be the voice of experience and to share their “now,” with another new generation being their “then.”

                 Life is a grand adventure,

                                               live it all,

                                                         live it always.

– Dave Rearick (Skipper of Bodacious Dream #118)


The Ocean Going Farmer by Nick Halmos

Nick currently resides in Santa Cruz, California where he runs City Blooms and works to make quality, sustainably grown food accessible to an expanding population.  



In the fall of 2011, my fellow 11th Hour Racing teammate, Hugh Piggin and I departed from France aboard a Class 40 as competitors in the Transat Jaques Vabre. Over the course of 26 days at sea, we laid a 6000 mile track across the  Atlantic that exited the English Channel, wound south through the Azores, across the Atlantic to Puerto Rico, and a final 1000 mile sprint to Costa Rica. One of the things that set 11th Hour Racing’s entry apart is that our boat, the mighty Cutlass, carried the world’s first carbon fiber oceanic hydroponic system. This first iteration of the Cityblooms Aquatic Project was an effort to grow edible and nutritious produce in the harsh and unforgiving environment that is a shorthanded race boat.

city blooms box

The idea was quite elegant in its simplicity. Thanks to the incredible minds of Bernoulli and Newton, we know that pressure differentials are created as air flows across the surface of an airfoil, which can propel a boat through water without the use of hydro-carbons (Hoooray!!!).  As the vessel moves forward, water passing under the boat can turn the propeller of a hydro-generator. The resulting clean energy can power a desalinator to create fresh water. Take the water, add some seeds, wait 12 days, eat, and repeat from the beginning.

The point of this somewhat whimsical exercise was twofold.

  • First, to demonstrate that food production can be made so lightweight that we would place the equipment on a race boat. This attribute has broad implications to the field of rooftop urban agriculture
  • Second, to demonstrate that the technology currently exists to conduct sustainable agricultural operations in a place as inhospitable to terrestrial flora as the mid-Atlantic

The task of maintaining stocks of fresh produce on oceangoing vessels has plagued sailors for centuries. Until a few decades ago, the thought of fresh produce beyond the second or third day at sea was optimistic. 25 years of advancement in refrigeration has helped the situation, but only modestly. Quality fresh produce remains fantasy in most ports of call around the world, even if you can manage to keep it cold for a few days. The practices we sought to develop could be put to use to improve crew nutrition and environmental impact on any vessel that regularly puts to sea for more than a few days.

As with most things in life, a relatively simple theory presents complications when reduced to practice. Fortunately, the challenges encountered in our first attempts at oceanic farming are not insurmountable. What follows is a brief explanation about how we approached the problem, while incorporating some lessons we learned in the hopes that others will improve these techniques and share in turn.

Our first steps:

  • Create a waterproof “Green Box” (Thank you Goetz Composites!!!) that could be mounted on deck.
  • Use a clear polycarbonate lid with a simple solar powered ventilation fan
  • The location and construction of the box should be chosen so as to minimize salt-water intrusion
  • For operation in the tropics, a shade cloth will be necessary to reduce temperatures inside the box

As we learned to hard way, there is a very fine line between a ventilated hydroponic system and a non-ventilated solar oven.

In order to maximize agricultural output, we fabricated a germination/rooting box out of a shallow plastic bin to provide a cool, moist, place for the seeds to root before placement in direct sunlight.

At first, the game plan was to place dry seeds on piece of saturated burlap to start the germination process. However, it was soon discovered that with the pitching moment of the boat, we could not keep the seeds from rolling off the mat. Therefore, we began to sprout the seeds with a traditional sprouting process in the hopes that the irregular shape of a germinated seed would reduce the propensity to roll. For the initial germination, a commercially available “sprouting jar” or a water bottle with a screened lid to facilitate daily flushing will suffice.


Lessons learned the hard way:

  • Seeds are very difficult to clean out of the nooks and crannies of the bilge, they truly do get everywhere when spilled.
  •  The logical place to complete the daily flushing of the sprouting jar is the aft pulpit, keep a firm grip on the sprouting jar as a wayward wave could wash the whole experiment away, thus setting you back days.

Once the seeds have started to germinate and the tap roots are showing, they can be spread like paste upon a saturated mat in the rooting box. Although many different growing mediums are possible, sailors may prefer burlap due to its widespread availability and pack-ability. After 2 days in the rooting box, the seeds will set roots into the burlap and sent shoots skyward in search of light. This is the point when the mat should be placed in the box on deck, preferably in the evening when the temps are cooler.

It is important to ensure that the Green Box stays properly ventilated to control temperatures and that the growth medium stays saturated. While we chose manual watering, a simple automated (Arduino) watering system would not be difficult to fabricate for the technically inclined.

micro greens

While any number of crops could be grown with this method, micro greens are promising due to their inherent nutritional value, short growth time, and ability to store a lot of seeds in a small package. We experimented with clover, broccoli, and arugula in various mix ratios. Pea shoots would also be a good cultivar. With a little practice, an ocean going farmer should be able to produce 1/3 lb of fresh greens per square foot of Green Box per week.

Two Chains, Four Wheels by Terry Halpin

Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.

~ Charles M. Schulz

On May 16th, 11th Hour Racing and Manuka Sports hosted, Living on the Edge, a panel discussion on coastal communities and climate change.  The panel discussion, in conjunction with the Atlantic Cup, took place in New York City, more than 200 miles from 11th Hour Racing’s home in Newport, RI.  The majority of our staff took the train in to the city to attend the event.  However Rob MacMillan, our Program Adviser and Terry Halpin, 11th Hour Racing Ambassador, decided it would be a grand adventure to ride bikes to the city.  This is their story.

Ride to NYC

Rob's big adventure

Q: You are both active sailing competitors.  How does riding a bike compare to sailing?  Do you feel there are similarities?

There are many similarities that make the two sports complimentary.   There are many disciplines and subsets within each sport that allow for participation and enjoyment for just about anybody at every level.

Competitive, big boat sailing requires physicality, coordinated team work, tactical genius, and the use of technology as the cornerstones of success.  The same is true of professional bike racing teams that compete in prestigious events such as the Giro D’Italia or the Tour de France.  Both require intense training, mental focus and commitment.

There really is something for everyone under the umbrella of each sport and they both offer ways to satisfy the desire to compete and enjoy the beauty of their respective operating environments.

Q: Where in the world have you ridden and how does it compare to riding in the US?

Cycling is a part of the culture in Europe.  I feel fortunate to have been able to ride in most of the locations that I have traveled to for competitive sailing.  New Zeland, France, Italy, Spain, and South Africa and for the most part, my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive.  The same can be said for the riding both Rob and I have done here in the US, including  most of New England, South Eastern Florida, and the Bay Area of San Francisco, oh and a couple of thousand laps around Aquidneck Island.  What should be stressed is that the steep, twisting country roads of coastal Sardinia are no more or less dangerous to bikers than the back roads or suburbs of any-town USA.  It’s about driver awareness and in the US, it just isn’t woven in to our fabric yet.


Q: Choosing to Ride through NYC is not something everyone would want to sign up for.  What led you to that decision and how did it compare to other rides you have done in the states.

Rob planted the suggestion a couple of weeks before the Atlantic Cup and shortly thereafter, it became something more like a challenge.  Originally, he wanted to ride the length of the 180 or so miles from Newport to New York over a two-day period; Instead we drove to New London, took a ferry across to Orient Point, and began the 110 mile trip from there.  I had entered a 100 mile race in New York that would cap the weekend so at that point, I was all in.  While I was well-trained for the upcoming race, I had never ridden more than 75 miles in one go and had a feeling that neither had Rob, this was certainly going to be interesting.  Despite the insanity of riding through Queens during rush hour, we both felt that crossing over into Manhattan after starting in the “wine country” of Long Island hours earlier, was a great feeling.

Interestingly, the ride through NYC proper (if you don’t count the borough of Queens) was actually pretty easy.  The many recently added bike lanes improved the conditions and once south of mid-town at rush hour, the traffic thinned out and it was clear “sailing” to the event location at North Cove.


Q: Along the way what did you notice about the roadways or landscape you rode through.  Do you feel the trash and pollution you found relates back to Marine debris and Clean regattas?

The amount of trash along the roadways was ridiculous.  It stretched far off the road and was much more obvious from the bike than would have been from a car.  Sadly, the majority of the trash and waste will end up in the waterways eventually.  Seeing this re-enforced the idea that everything is connected and we have to do a much better job of recognizing the impact everything can have.

For those who aren’t familiar with the North Fork of Long Island, it’s pretty rural with many farms and vineyards as you head West.  What I found interesting about the first 35-40 miles is that while the scenery is reminiscent of famous paintings the road itself was a constant stream of heavy, commercial vehicles heading (loudly) in both directions.  The noise and soot produced from the traffic was, at times, a little overwhelming, the diesel particulates and dust would take a toll on my lungs later on in the ride.  Around mile 40 the scenery changes quite dramatically to one of endless strip malls and it doesn’t stop until you get to the affluent areas around Huntington.  Shortly after that you’re in the borough of Queens.  While for a good portion of the ride we were afforded either a generous bike or break-down lane, it was often littered with broken glass, fast-food containers, or just bits and pieces of vehicles that had fallen off and been kicked to the curb by the traffic.  One of the more depressing sights was an estuary of Long Island Sound we passed by just before entering Queens.  The tide was out and the exposed muddy bottom was strewn with the remnants of old docks, sunken and abandoned boats, and many more examples of the detritus of people.  The water was the color of hot chocolate and looked as if nothing could be capable of living in it never mind using it for recreational activity.  You have to wonder how the people we as humans can accept this as normal and how did we become so careless.  It’s a monumental task but we have to do a better job.


Photo Credits:

Tour de France scene

Bike Lane

Atlantic Cup Leg I: Charleston

feather flags

Spring isn’t the only thing in the air in the historical town of Charleston, SC.   The Atlantic Cup has arrived and is in full swing.  With 7 teams and 4 countries represented, this group of short-handed sailors are eager to get off the dock and start the race.

For now the weather predictions are looking, as we say up north, “wicked”  for the first leg which means, the voyage from Charleston to New York City will be highly technical.  This is good news for all of us who will be tracking the race.

The boats have been equipped with hydrogenerators, fuel cells and alternative fossil fuel for the engines they seldom use.  Single use plastic water bottles have been banned from use during the event, both on and off shore, filling stations have been provided, waste has been significantly reduced and recycling bins are abundant.  Top this all off with the fact that Green Mountain Energy has partnered up with the Atlantic Cup to off set the remaining carbon foot print and we are now looking at one of the worlds cleanest professional regattas in the world.  This model for hosting a sustainable event is admirable and one we all hope will continue to catch on globally.




It’s been a pleasure to meet the skippers and learn about their experiences off shore and how using the alternative energy can improve their performance.  Working to find winning solutions for the sport of sailing while increasing the personal investment of sailors in the health of our oceans are attainable goals.  Let’s hope the Atlantic Cup will inspire and set the trend in the sport of sailing.

Rule 55

Written by Matt Knowles

Matt is the president of the Moth class and member of the US Sailing racing rules committee.

The letter was originally published on Sailing Anarchy under the thread: Nanny State about Rule 55

The Racing Rules of Sailing 2013-2016 includes a new rule, rule 55 TRASH DISPOSAL: A competitor shall not intentionally put trash in the water

Moth sailing

I want to take a crack at arguing that ISAF was on the right track with the new rule 55, which bans intentionally putting trash in the water.

I am a member of the US SAILING Racing Rules Committee, which proposed the rule to ISAF last year.  I am also the head of the US Moth Class, which recently partnered with 11th Hour Racing to improve the environmental impact and image of our class and our sport.  Let me start with this premise: sailors should not intentionally discard non-biodegradable objects (i.e., trash) in the water.  For those who don’t buy that premise, all I can say is I am glad that fewer and fewer sailors agree with you.

But for those who agree that sailors shouldn’t be intentionally throwing trash in the water, here is my argument for why this rule is a good thing.  First, there is a problem: anyone who looks carefully knows that most major regattas lead to a certain amount of trash ending up in the water, whether intentionally or not.

Second, the current solutions are inadequate.  True, in the US state and federal laws generally prohibit discharging trash.  But this isn’t the case everywhere.  More importantly, these rules are not getting the job done.  One person remarked that if rule 55 is going to be added, why not add a rule against murder on the racecourse too?  Well, we don’t have a murder problem at most regattas, but we do have a trash problem.  Unlike laws that are up to the police to enforce, the RRS are rules that each of us has a duty to enforce and self-police.  Likewise, there are a lot of federal and state laws that sailors don’t take seriously – life is too short – but by putting this rule in the RRS, the message is that environmental impact is something that our sport must take seriously if we are going to grow and thrive.

Third, this rule isn’t actually a new addition to the rule-book.  It has long been part of the standard sailing instructions listed in Appendix L – and most regattas adopted it.  Given this, ISAF decided to move it from the “default” rules of Appendix L to the main body of the rules which apply without being invoked by sailing instructions.  This just changes the default.  If you are a regatta organizer and think that having clean water to race on is less important than allowing boats to discharge rubber bands into the water to make their kite sets better, then you can delete rule 55.

Fourth, this rule is in part about image – and that’s a good thing.  Sailing faces many challenges, and one of our selling points is the fact that we don’t need to consume much carbon or produce that much trash to do what we do.  Image is important, and laws and rules do reflect values.  I think a core value of our sport is that we do what we can to protect the racecourse we sail on, and I’m glad that, for all its flaws, ISAF got this one right.

*This letter has been modified for this this blog post.  To read the original please visit

A Bottle A Day Keeps the Plastic Away: by Amy MacMillan

reusable water bottlesTraveling.  Most of us do this often. Sometimes it’s from the home to work, other times it’s a journey across the ocean.  Recently for me, it meant a road trip to Philadelphia to play a Real Tennis tournament.  Without going into great detail about the sport, I can tell you it’s a unique style of tennis that I play here in Newport.  With sports, hydration is paramount yet most people are turning to sports and energy drinks in stead of water.  9 Billion dollars worth this year alone!  So how does that relate to my little road trip to play tennis you ask?  Well I decided to really think about how I would consume my water, coffee and smoothies, (ok, beer too).   

Now, like most of you, I am busy.  I have kids, work, hobbies, bills, but I find that if I take the extra time to plan ahead and pack, even one bottle, I get a huge sense of satisfaction.  So, I packed three for this trip, (doesn’t hurt to triple my satisfaction right?).  One Hydro Flask for my coffee and two bottles from Liberty Bottleworks for my morning smoothie and daily water.  I hit the road, bottles in tow and set out to travel the distance while avoiding the purchase of any single use plastic bottles.

Racquet Club of PhiladelphiaOnce I arrived at the hotel I found there was really no reason for anyone to purchase bottled water.   They had ample filtered water available and so I refilled,  and refilled, and refilled.  Aside from the fact that I was sweating up a storm, I found that I drank much more than my daily requirements for water, (and possibly beer…) just by carrying my reusable bottle with me.

refillThis trip was an easy one.  All I had to do was pack some bottles and use the available resources.  Traveling by plane or staying a greater distance from the sports venue would have made this more challenging.  I hope that when presented with such a circumstance I can be resourceful and not rely on convenience.  It’s daily challenge and I know we are not all there yet.

plastic bottle My hope is that one day, all sports venues, schools, businesses and the rest, will have refill stations and the reliance on plastic will be nil.

lone bottle