This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

Anchors Aweigh

I've accepted the United States will forever lag the developed world in terms of broadband penetration, television quality, cell phones, power systems and countless other technologies.

But I will not accept that my favorite diversion, sailing, is turning into yet another Yankee-doodle techno muddle.

Sailing's collapse in the U.S. is a shame. Gliding on the water, powered only by the wind, is a full-on active mystery -- you don't have to know how it works, but you can still revel in the sensation. And once you harness these forces beyond your control, you make the world, not the other way around.

Sailing was our country's technological birthright. The United States stepped onto the world stage when it developed a class of fast but viciously powerful sailing frigates in the late 18th century.

Take a trip to Boston and see a ship called the USS Constitution : That hulk of oak and iron is probably the reason why Tony Blair has to eat the George Bush lapdog jokes, and not the other way around.

But that was a long time ago. Our dominance of the wind has since faded. And sailing is going through a revolution everywhere but here.

In July, French sailors obliterated the New York-to-England sailing record in a multihull wonder boat called Orange II. Captain Bruno Peryon and his crew of 11 barrelled across the pond at an average speed of about 32 miles per hour over a four-day, eight-hour period. That's probably faster than most folks have ever gone in any boat, powered or not.

A Dutch yacht, the superadvanced ABN AMRO, set a record for fastest-sailing monohull. The boat streaked across the South Atlantic in 2005, sailing 627 miles in a 24-hour period. That's farther than most people can drive in a day.

The United States is also losing the race in recreational sailing.

American sailors still use the same slow old boats they have sailed for 50 or even 100 years. I love older boats, but most can only manage 8 mph maximum. Compare that sad figure to the 20 mph reached by popular international sailing skiffs such as the International 14 or Moth.

That's not to say some Americans aren't trying to bring speed to the water. Vanguard Boats of Portsmouth, R.I., builds a speed-sailing skiff called the Vector. Speed sailing requires new skills, and the Vector is this company's attempt at making them easy to acquire.

The Vector is about 15 feet long and sports just 370 square feet of sail, compared with about 550 square feet for an International 14. The Vector's hull is also shaped to be more forgiving, so it does not capsize as easily as full-blooded racing skiffs. And it is made from very durable fiberglass laminates, so bozos like me can't destroy it when they wipe out.

The Vector is also reasonably priced, at about $10,000, ready to sail. Compare that to a similarly equipped International 14, which can cost as much as $30,000 or more.

Into the Sunset

To get a sense of whether the Vector had a shot at putting some zip into American sailing, I visited blustery northern Michigan for a demo.
1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
BC $39.93 -1.20%
MPX $7.22 -5.60%
AAPL $94.01 -2.70%
FB $104.07 -5.81%
GOOG $684.00 -3.40%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 16,204.97 -211.61 -1.29%
S&P 500 1,880.05 -35.40 -1.85%
NASDAQ 4,363.1440 -146.4150 -3.25%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs