Saturday, March 12, 2005

Extreme Sailing

Bill's Log

What turns you on? What’s motivates you? What gives you kicks? Basically, all three questions amount to the same thing.

In terms of personal ambition I don’t suppose this age is any different to previous ages - for example, some would want to make a lot of money, perhaps most would like a good family life, others would prefer position and power within society, while a few would want to live selflessly in the service of their fellow human beings. There’s nothing extreme with these ordinary ambitions, but having achieved them, the majority of us would have a positive sense of self-worth, good self-esteem and a sense of fulfilment.

On the other hand there are those who are far from ‘ordinary’ – they are quite extraordinary. Their satisfaction and self-esteem comes from the enactment of daredevil actions which bring an adrenaline rush - only by living dangerously can they be satisfied. Such people are the more adventurous among us. They do not conform to the norm. Instead, they positively enjoy taking risks - sometimes calculated, but at other times beyond the bounds of reason. From this very small percentage of the population there are some devoted to the modern pastime of Extreme Sports. By participating in them they deliberately expose themselves to dangers which the rest of us endeavour to avoid.

I’m amazed that so many of these extreme sports are practised today. There are those who enjoy climbing skyscrapers; B.A.S.E. jumpers, snowboarders, roller-blading enthusiasts, free divers, paragliding pilots, hang-gliding pilots, down hill mountain bikers, snowboarders, skydivers, white water kayakers, kite surfers and followers of the latest craze, Mistral Moth Foiler sailing.

It’s this latest adrenaline sport that makes the mind boggle. Even the RYA appears to have a vested interest in this latest breed of super-freaks who have the skill, strength and agility to balance their narrow racing machines on foils. In so doing they seem to defy gravity while skimming over the waves at phenomenal speeds. Great courage is required to race these boats, especially when sailing downwind. If they get it wrong their boats can catastrophically dive, most likely resulting in damage to the rig or injury to the crew.

The International Sailing Canoe used to be the fastest small racing sailing craft, but no longer. Mistral Foilers built from carbon fibre and Kevlar can out-sail them with ease.


International Moths

Flying Moths

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