Somewhere out of San Diego and sailing down to Acapulco as this issue appears, our ocean-going contributing editor, Carleton Mitchell, is crewing aboard Bob Robbs's Nam Sang in one of the great ocean races, which he will report in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED three weeks hence. On his previous race, Mitchell was aboard the same Nam Sang and landed safe but somewhat salty in Honolulu at the end of last year's tough Transpacific (SI, July 27).
There he changed swiftly from racing sailor to sailor scholar and began firsthand the study of the newest breed of vessels, the ocean-racing catamarans, today's descendants of the Pacific's almost dateless outriggers. Hawaii is the place to study them, for here the most advanced catamarans have advanced the most. Aikane, a cat not officially entered in the Transpacific Race, led the fleet home by 17 hours. This kind of speed is vastly irritating to single-hull proponents. There are also critics of the cats who consider them unseaworthy. Later this year Mitchell will analyze for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED the catamaran evolution and what it might mean if these boats were admitted to the patrician ranks of ocean racers.
Carleton Mitchell brings to sailing not only scholarship and racing talent but a balanced sense of the relationship of water, land and man. This, too, has helped make him a master of the cruise. In our January 11 issue he began a series on the great saltwater cruising grounds, describing the unhurried Virgin Islands, which combine sheltered waters, reasonably consistent winds, fascinating harbors and agreeable things to do ashore.
In the February 8 issue Mitchell will write of Hong Kong, whose 391 square miles and many islands contain a bargain center, a gastronomic capital, yachts, sampans, junks, walla-wallas and additional rarities too numerous for me, but not for him, to mention.
Later Mitchell will describe the yachting and other attractions of the outer islands of Tahiti and the classic islands of the Aegean.
Meanwhile, as I was saying, he is racing, not cruising, and this might be the place to note that the next big race for Mitchell, after San Diego- Acapulco, will be the Bermuda in June—in which twice running he skippered Finisterre to victory.