Aurora, USA 50095
Gus Carlson and Team Aurora, 2011
The following is a note from Owner/Skipper Gus Carlson after Aurora placed first in division in the Leukemia Cup hosted by Larchmont Yacht Club on Saturday:
We were proud to sail Aurora in the distance race event of the Leukemia Cup to support such a great cause. We thank the Larchmont Yacht Club and the Race Committee for staging a great race, and the Westchester County chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for a fantastic fund-raising effort. So many of us, our families and friends have been touched by cancer, including my own family experience with lymphoma, and to participate in this event is an important way for us to continue the fight against the disease. It is also an honor for us to support our fellow Aurora crewman, Gary Jobson, a cancer survivor and national regatta chairman of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s sailing program. And while Gary was not aboard for the race yesterday, he was with us in spirit. We did, however, have another special guest aboard — Stirling Winder. For the last two years, we have sailed in support of Stirling’s efforts to raise funds for cancer research. A cancer survivor herself, Stirling has become an inspiration the Aurora crew and we were thrilled to have her aboard yesterday. She brought us very good fortune. Thank you, Stirling.
As for the race itself, the conditions were light, with winds consistently in the 8-11 knot range, with only a brief period on the upwind leg where we saw puffs to 12-14 knots, and then fading late in the race. The competition was fierce, with a number of very fast well-sailed boats in our division. And while we were certainly the biggest boat, the talent and capabilities aboard our rivals made it essential for us to sail a near-perfect race to cover our time on them, especially on a relatively short 30-mile course. Thanks to great crew work, some thoughful strategic decisions, and a little help from mother nature, who turned down the fan late in the race, we were able to hold on to win on corrected time. Kudos to our Aurora crew for an almost flawless performance. But also kudos to our competitors, who sailed well and made it an interesting and fun race — and all for a good cause.
One interesting note. For those of you who have been following the A-blog this summer, you know that Aurora suffered some damage in the Vineyard Race on Labor Day weekend when we hit a half-submerged log after dark while sailing in eastern Long Island Sound. The debris in the Sound left over from Hurricane Irene the week presented a significant hazard to the Vineyard fleet, and many boats suffered damage, including one that broke her rudder on a submerged object. In Aurora’s case, the collision with the log left a softball-sized ding on her bow, right at the waterline — not structural, but it could have caused issues had it not been looked after immediately. Thanks to the heroic efforts of Dave Jurkowski, Brook West, the crew at Brewer’s Yacht Haven Marina in Stamford, CT, and others, Aurora was hauled, repaired, and relaunched in 48 hours, ready to be on the starting line for the Leukemia Cup. She doesnt look as pretty as usual — she bears a big white carbon fibre band-aid on her bow — but she is sound and sure. Thanks to the repair team for their quick work and solid craftsmanship.
The Leukemia Cup is the last official race for Aurora in the Northeastern US this season. I want to thank the crew, our dedicated shore support team and all the friends of the Aurora program for making this a sensational season. I also want to thank the various clubs and organizing authorities for their hard work in staging the events in which we sailed. Special thanks, of course, to Thomson Reuters for its continued support of the Aurora program and the sport of competitive sailing. To Eileen Lynch and Mindy Whang of the TR marketing department, a big thank you. We couldn’t have done it without. Aurora is proud to sail under the Thomson Reuters colors.
A final thought. Before Aurora leaves the dock to go sailing, I remind our crew that I have three objectives for them — to sail safely, to learn, and to have fun. My belief is that if we do those three things well, the boat will perform and we will win our fair share of silverware. I think we made great strides in 2011 on all our objectives — our seamanship has improved, our knowledge of how to sail Aurora faster and more efficiently is much better, and we have created a collegial “karma” aboard that enables people to enjoy our adventures, which have taken us over 2,000 miles in the last 14 months aboard Aurora. And while I don’t measure our success simply by the silverware we collect, I’m delighted to say that our results in the 2011 season bear out my broader belief on winning our share of glory. As I write this in my den, I am looking at the awards we won in 2011 for our performane in the Marblehead-Halifax Race, the Vineyard Race, the Stamford Overnight Race, and our combined placing in the 2010 Newport-Bermuda Race and the 2011 Annapolis-Newport Race. More important, I am also looking at photographs of the smiling faces of the Aurora crew, who each own a very special piece of every trophy we have won. It is truly amazing and gratifying for me to see what a Corinthian crew, made up of local club sailors, and tutored by some of the world’s best, like Gary Jobson and Steve Benjamin, have accomplished in such a short time on a boat that celebrates its 18th birthday next year. I am so proud of everyone involved in the Aurora program, on and off the water, and I thank them for giving me such a wonderful gift — another great year doing what I love most.