Around the world to beat Verne


February 20, 1994|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Sun Staff Writer

Jules Verne once wrote about the improbability of anyone going around the world in 80 days.

These days, were a jet to travel 500 mph nonstop, one could pass round the world at the equator 38 1/2 times in 80 days.

But if the mode of travel is a sailing vessel, then passing round the world in fewer than 80 days becomes an accomplishment of some note.

Last year, a group of four Frenchmen and Cam Lewis of Lincolnville, Maine, set out to break Verne's mythical standard and win the Trophee Jules Verne.

Aboard Bruno Peyron's 86-foot multihull Commodore Explorer, Lewis and company circumnavigated in 79 days, 6 hours, 15 minutes, 56 seconds -- breaking 19 point-to-point speed records in the process and smashing the actual nonstop circumnavigation record by 30 days.

"This definitely has been my toughest and most exhilarating challenge so far," said Lewis, 36, who has been racing sailboats for 30 years, has campaigned in three Olympics and was a vital part of Dennis Conner's successful defense of the America's Cup in a catamaran in 1987.

"The goal of sailing around the entire planet -- with all the teamwork, sailing strategy and seamanship that it required -- made it very emotional."

It also tested Lewis' skills as a cook. He was charged with keeping four other crew members satisfied with a diet of freeze-dried food.

The U.S. Sailing Association recently took note of Lewis' accomplishments as sailing master aboard the Commodore Explorer and named him Rolex Yachtsman of the Year.

Among the nominees for the award was Chris Larson of Annapolis, who swept the J/22 class in the North American Championship, Mid-Winter Championship, East Coast Championship and the Buzzards Bay Regatta.

Four-time champion

Betsy Alison of Newport, R.I., was named Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, and at 33 has won the award a record four times.

Alison was recognized especially for her victory at the Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship and first-place finishes in the women's Lightning North American Championships and the Lightning Midwinter Championship.

Race lands sponsors

The Santa Maria Cup Women's Match Racing Championship, which each spring is sailed off the Inner Harbor and based at HarborView Marina and Yacht Club, has attracted BOAT/U.S. and MBNA America Bank, N.A. as title and primary sponsors for this year's event, June 9-12.

This year's regatta will send 10 teams of four women each through three days of round-robin competition, with the top four teams pairing off for semifinals and the top two racing in the final series on June 12.

Team selection for the regatta is expected to be announced in April.

Trout stamp contest

The 1995 Maryland Trout Stamp Design Contest, which determines the design that will appear on next year's state trout stamp, will take entries through 4 p.m. May 27.

Artwork may be of brook, rainbow or brown trout or of any equipment or activity associated with trout fishing in Maryland.

Size is limited to 11 inches by 15 2/3 inches, and the entry may be multicolor or black and white.

All artists must be Maryland residents. Complete rules are available from Frances R. McFaden, Maryland Trout Stamp Contest, Department of Natural Resources, Tawes State Office Building, Annapolis, Md. 21401.

BOC Challenge dates

The BOC Challenge, a single-handed sailing race around the world, has changed dates for restarts from ports of call around the world to avoid conflicts with local activities.

The new schedule is as follows:

Sept. 17, 1994 -- Race start in Charleston, S.C.

Nov. 26, 1994 -- restart in Cape Town, South Africa.

Jan. 28, 1995 -- restart in Sydney, Australia.

April 1, 1995 -- Restart in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

May 20, 1995 -- Prizes awarded in Charleston.

The entry list for the race includes 10 Americans, with Timothy Troy of Baltimore still among eight in Class I.

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