Categories
Italy Sailing Sports USA

More Sailing Event Cancellations Amid COVID-19

The month of August opens on a sour note for the sailing buffs. Three glorious sailing events have been called off. Many sailing events and regattas have been affected by COVID-19 and the travel restrictions associated with it, and it looks like July disappointments have spilled over to August as well.

2020 Melges 24 U.S. National Championship

In an announcement addressing the teams, the U.S. Melges 24 Class Association President Megan A. Ratliff confirmed that the event, which was slated for 15-18 October had been cancelled. These events typically attract many travellers, which could pose a health risk to the people, especially the elders. Hence, there are tight regulations in place regarding the size of events to reduce the health risk.

“We continue to be optimistic and pray that the situation surrounding COVID-19 improves,” Ratliff states in the announcement.

“Please know that your board is working hard, exploring options for a safe return to conducting our Class championships. I am confident that we will be on the same starting line soon. In the meantime, stay healthy and safe.”

2020 Formula Kite Worlds

The Italian resort island of Sardinia was prepping to play host to two major events — the Formula Kite Individual competitions and Mixed Team Relay Worlds. The reason, once again, is the travel restrictions in different parts of the world, which allows only European contestants to participate in the race. So, though there were no regulations imposed on the International Kiteboarding Association, the organizers decided to call off the event in the best interest of all participants.

The Mixed Team Relay World was the first event planned in Olympic format. The event was scheduled for 13-18 October in Torregrande. The Formula Kite Individual Competitions were slated for 6-11 October. The event was first planned in Weifang Binhai but was later shifted to Cagliari.

The next edition regatta will be held in 2021. Weifang Binhai would host the Formula Kite Individual Competitions in September 2021, while the Mixed Team Relay World will happen in Torregrande, in October 2021.

2020 RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup

Founded in 2002, with a vision to expose the junior sailors in Bermuda to international sailing regatta experience, the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup plays a vital role in nurturing long-lasting associations with international sailors and Bermudians. the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup is organized for teenage girls and boys aged between 12 and 15. The organisers think that it would be too much of risk to bring teenagers to Bermuda amid the pandemic.

“At the end of the day the risks involved did not match the reward as the full experience of the Junior Gold Cup would not be realized in 2020,” organiser of the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup Dede Cooper said.

“It was a difficult decision and one that makes me sad as this is such a wonderful event for the youth sailors. As always, we are grateful to RenaissanceRe for their continuing support and look forward to welcoming everyone back to Bermuda sometime in 2021 for the 18th RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup.”

2021 RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup dates are yet to be announced.

Categories
International News USA

Behnken and Hurley: The First Crew to Travel in a Privately Made Capsule

30 May 2020 witnessed a historic moment when SpaceX’s space capsule, Crew Dragon, carrying astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken docked at the International Space Station (ISS). They returned on 2 August 2020 and became the first astronauts to do a space expedition in a space capsule developed by a private manufacturer.

While explaining the atmospheric entry of Crew Dragon, the astronaut duo said that the space vehicle came “alive”, and it vibrated and shook. “I did record some audio of it, but it doesn’t sound like a machine. It sounds like an animal coming through the atmosphere with all the puffs that are happening from the thrusters and the atmospheric noise,” Behnken said during a virtual press conference held post-landing.

“The atmosphere starts to make noise, you can hear that rumble outside the vehicle and as the vehicle tries to control, you feel a little bit of that shimmy in your body.”

Behnken explained that the sensation while riding down was “very much like getting hit in the back of the chair with a baseball bat, you know, just a crack”.

The space capsule undocked from the Space Station on Saturday, 1 August 2020, two months after they landed at the ISS. It plummeted through the earth’s atmosphere, gaining magnitude as it descended and plopped down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, 2 August 2020.

The process of landing was a strenuous one. An hour before the touchdown, the space capsule ejected its trunk and fired its thrusters and exited from the orbit. Soon after entering the upper atmosphere, the outer surface of the Crew Dragon heated up, reaching a temperature of 3500 Fahrenheit. Close to landing, the capsule fired the parachutes and splashed down in the sea at 2.48 p.m. ET. The recovery vehicles deployed by SpaceX met the capsule soon after the water landing to get the astronauts out of the seawater.

Hurley said that due to the stressful descend and scorches on the capsule, they couldn’t see anything clearly after landing. “[Atmospheric] reentry is a pretty demanding environment as you know with the different scorches on the vehicle, and the windows were not spared any of that,” The Verge quoted Hurley.

“The look out the windows, you could basically tell that it was daylight but very little else. So we didn’t really see anything clearly out of the windows until the SpaceX recovery crews got near with the fast boats, and then we can see a head or two out there.”

The duo stated that the simulations and trainings that helped them complete the mission successfully, without any “big surprises”.

Though the coast guard had laid down some restrictions for other boats at the landing site, boats thronged the touchdown site defying the warnings, creating much confusion to the retrieving crew. The successful completion of the mission opens the possibility of SpaceX Crew Dragon to be certified for regular space service.  The next mission is scheduled for September this year. The Space Shuttle program veterans Behnken and Hurley had been coaching with SpaceX for the last five years.

Categories
Destinations International Sailing Sports USA

Luke Muller Selected to Join U.S. Olympic Sailing Team

After the stunning performance earning a bronze in 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami following a 17th place in World Championship 2019, Luke Muller secured his place in the U.S. Sailing Team for 2020 Olympics. He becomes the 11th sailor to qualify for the U.S. sailing team for Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. This is going to be his debut in Olympics. The 24-year old sailor was training hard with beat his teammate Caleb Paine, the bronze medallist at the 2016 Olympics.

“It feels incredible to know that I will have the honour of representing our country at the Olympic Games next summer,” Muller said of his selection.

“It is very gratifying that all the hard work and sacrifice has resulted in this accomplishment. At the same time, I feel a profound responsibility to represent the US Sailing community as best I can. I continue to strive to be as prepared as possible and if I do my job it will be a great pleasure to race against the best in the world.”

Started as a recreational sailor, Muller became serious about the sport and made consistent progress with hard training. No wonder he holds the record of being the youngest champion of the U.S. Laser class. Later in 2014, before registering at Stanford University, Muller shifted his focus to the Finn to pursue his Olympic dream. He trained hard with his partner Paine and coach Luther Carpenter and made notable achievements like securing the third spot at the World Cups in 2019 and 2020.

Muller competed with Paine and Eric Anderson to secure his place in the Olympic team. He topped in two of the three qualifying trial events. The third trial, the 2020 Finn Gold Cup, has been postponed to October due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Head Coach of US Sailing Team Luther Carpenter shared his joy, “The news of Luke’s Games selection is very exciting for our Finn program.”

Recollecting the training period, Carpenter said, “We continue each day with the tasks at hand. The energy and commitment of our Finn sailors is at an all-time high, and the results we are seeing and the confidence it inspires is extremely encouraging. Luke’s progress this summer in fitness, goal setting, and technique has surpassed the targets we set in May. Both Luke and Eric Anderson, his training partner, are putting in the real-deal Olympic effort! I’m proud to be their coach.”

After the long break due to the pandemic, Muller is back to his on-the-water training. He utilised the COVID 19-induced break to work on his tactics and to focus on conditioning and weather. He is excited to receive the official confirmation of the nomination and is training hard to prepare for Tokyo.

“The plan remains the same. My coach Luther and I along with Eric Anderson have always strived to reach the highest levels of our discipline and we will continue to do that,” said the sailor.

Regarding the game strategies, Muller said, “We are working to dial in our Olympic equipment and refine the subtleties of technique as well as the tactical and strategic aspects of the game.”

Categories
Basketball International Sports USA

The NBA Season Has An All Too Familiar Agenda To Prove

As play resumed across makeshift spaces for basketball matches to be restarted and televised, a prominent, familiar phrase takes center stage next to the NBA logo — ‘Black Lives Matter’.

Merchandise of players that were often trademarked by their last names, instead carried much more weight, with powerful phrases that have accompanied the uprising against systemic racism within the country, and the world.

It is paramount that the NBA wants to tackle social injustices, but how effective are its vessels, and to what extent is this pursuance translated to actualisation?

Sport, by many sociological standards, has and will always be a repository for injustices and transgressions. Many can recall the antics of Colin Kaepernick during the playing of the national anthem as an immense paradigm reconstruction towards a conversation that has long been seen as a necessary uprising.

Whilst many sporting bodies have scurried to necessitate a message that has recently taken millions to the streets for protests, when it comes to the matter of sport, basketball is plausibly the location that’s been championed as the capital fort for peak change.

Basketball is chiefly consumed by ethnic minority fans, with two-thirds of those tuning in being non-white. Race has always surrounded the hoops.

The league seems fervent on tackling the conversation straightforwardly, but its arguably the players themselves that have always embodied this notion of inequality even before they make it ‘pro’, especially when the odds are stacked against them inordinately.

“Growing up poor and with few opportunities, sports are one of the few ways young black men, especially, can conceive of success,” says Rasheed Wallace, the youngest of three sons of a single mother who grew up in inner city Philadelphia, told BBC.

Wallace played for 2004 champions Detroit Pistons, and speaks of the uphill plight that’s set from the get-go.

“You see a lot of black parents getting on their kids, no matter (whether) it’s football, basketball, baseball or any sport. It’s like, ‘look — this could be our ticket out of here.”

“There’s a standard you have to live up to. And for us, being black kids in the ghetto, we know that. That if I can make it, I got a chance to make it better for my family.”

Detrimentally, it is reality that their success on court does not translate to the lens of which society views a black man when the dunks come off.

George Floyd, a towering Texan who was 46 when he was killed, and Stephan Jackson, 42, shared physical traits so alike they labelled themselves as twins.

“Today, one has an NBA championship ring and network sports podcast, and the other is dead.”

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in relation to his death, along with other officers involved with aiding and abetting his murder, their trial to take place in March 2021.

Deservedly, many share the same suspicions as Jackson regarding the league’s social efforts, which indeed do not mirror the sentiments of the realities of the situation.

While three-quarters of professional NBA players are black, only a single team, out of 30, has a black majority owner. Currently, there are only 6 black general managers in the game.

What’s excruciatingly clear too are the participants of the game, their fans, the pundits, notable public influencers, and even to an extent players themselves, who do not believe in harnessing the power of sport for change.

Popular right-wing news anchor Laura Ingraham quipped “Shut up and dribble” when LeBron James was famously critical of Donald Trump’s publicly racist attitude in 2018.

As 71-year-old Spurs coach Gregg Popovich grimly puts it, there is a sense of pragmatism when it comes to social shifts in the game.

“Fans are like any other group of people — some will get it, some will understand, some will just enjoy the games and move on,” he says.

As a form of entertainment via competition with a hefty influence on social messaging, sport can mirror the grunge realities and unsavoury shenanigans of its time.

It is time, then, that the realities of being black, or of colour, are properly enshrined, and with vigour, to challenge status quos, America’s ‘original sin’. For many, being political, like the colour of their skin, is not a choice.

Categories
Destinations Sailing Sports USA

Rolex Big Boat Series cancelled

Yet another bad news for the sailing enthusiasts, the Rolex Big Boat Series 2020 which was slated for 17-20 September has been called off. This annual regatta is hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club, California. The competition was structured in two divisions, the one-design division for ORR boats that are larger than 30 feet, and a classics division comprising boats constructed before 1955 and have a minimum length of 48 feet.

Ken Glidewell, Commodore, St. Francis Yacht Club said, “These are difficult times, and this was a difficult decision, but as a socially responsible member of both our local community and the greater sailing community, it was the right decision for St. Francis Yacht Club and all involved.”

“Up until the final decision was made, we were fully vested in planning to safely race in 2020,” Susan Ruhne, Chair of Rolex Big Boat Series mentioned in a press release.

“We were encouraged by the 51 skippers who had registered to compete, and we had plans in place to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19. We weren’t giving up, but reality is not something we can avoid.”

The sailing buffs were also looking forward to the 30th anniversary of Express 37 Pacific Coast Championships. This, along with J/88 North American Championships, is also conducted jointly with the Big Boat Series. Ruhne says, “This would have been the 30th anniversary for the Express 37s, a class that’s been incredibly competitive on our racecourse. We’re sorry we won’t see them this year, but we look forward to next year.”

The Rolex Big Boat Series has been taking place every year since 1964, except once, when it was called off in 2001: when the World Trade Centre was attacked. It happened just two days before the Big Boat Race was scheduled to take place.

“The St. Francis Yacht Club and Rolex Big Boat Series have been around for a long time and we will be here well past the era of COVID-19. We can take a year off in the name of safety for our sailors, our members and our community,” Glidewell commented. “We look forward to seeing you in 2021.”

Sailors across the world are looking forward to the next series which is slated for 15-19 September 2021.

St. Francis Yacht Club and the Big Boat Race

Founded in 1927, the St. Francis Yacht Club has been actively hosting as many as 40 prominent national and international sailing regattas every year. The club is envied for having one of the best-managed race programmes in the country. No wonder the Boardroom Magazine named it the first club to become ‘Distinguished Emerald Club of the World’. The club has been nominated ‘Number One Yacht Club in the United States’ four times, every alternate year from 2012 to 2018.

The Big Boat Series is the most prestigious event hosted by the club. This yearly regatta features sailors from around the United States and is one of the most competitive regattas on the West Coast.

Categories
Asia Culture Lifestyle Local New York City USA

I Tried Making The Famous No-Knead Bread. Here Are The Results.

I’m a self-professed baker. I do enjoy hobby baking, usually trying out new bakes that spark my interest. There is always a sense of satisfaction when I see my baked goods come to life, a finished product conjured out of basic, raw ingredients. But what is more fulfilling from the entire baking process is that special allure of being able to create something from scratch, putting in my blood sweat and tears (metaphorically) to produce something that I can proudly say I made on my own.

One thing that I’ve always wanted to try baking is bread, but the thought of having to use my strength and effort to knead the dough is off-putting.

Every time I lament to my friends about my laziness when it comes to baking, they would chide me for a bit, before offering recommendations on a good stand mixer that I could use to have the dough kneaded out for me. Well, that would work, but I wouldn’t feel that sense of accomplishment of actually making the bread — utilising help from a stand mixer would mean that my only job is to measure out the ingredients, pour everything in, and pop it in the oven.

Just only in the recent months during the circuit breaker did I stumble upon the (in)famous no-knead bread recipe by The Times. A quick search on Google revealed the recipe had a full, 5-star rating by nearly 12,000 readers who have put the recipe to the test.

This bread recipe was the answer to my oxymoronic nature. A no-knead bread recipe meant that I could do the entire preparation and execution by hand, without having to break a sweat. There was no need for a machine, neither was there a chance for me to feel that lack of accomplishment — I’m literally doing all the steps of the recipe, by my own two hands, to a tee.

I started preparing the ingredients the night before since the recipe stated that the dough had to rise for more than 12 hours. This recipe calls for only four very basic ingredients — flour, yeast, salt, and water — and everything can be prepared in one mixing bowl.

I first weighed out the flour, yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl. I then added water, and mixed the mixture with a wooden spatula. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture turns homogeneous and resembles a wet and sticky dough. I then use a plastic bench scraper to scrape the excess dough off the sides and on my wooden spatula, tossing them back into the large mixture. There is no room for waste here! I then covered the mixing bowl with some cling wrap and left it on the kitchen counter to ferment.

The next morning, I was greeted with a beautiful sight — a foamy mixture with a distinct sour aroma — only given off when yeast cells are active and happy. I was told that the longer the dough is allowed to ferment, the more texturised the bread will be. I resisted the temptation to immediately bake the bread and continued letting the mixture ferment for another three hours.

I then excitedly poured my still foamy dough mixture on a well-floured surface, used my bench scrapers to pull it over itself, and covered it back with the cling wrap again for another 15 minutes. My hands still have not touched the dough, and I’ve not even broken a single drop of perspiration at all.

Apart from having to knead dough, the other thing I don’t like about making bread is when I am required to come into contact with soft and sticky dough. There’s just something about that stickiness that I abhor. Nevertheless, I’ve come too far to give up at this point, and I reluctantly followed the instructions to (generously) coat my hands with flour before shaping the dough into a ball.

I then tossed the dough ball back into the mixing bowl, this time lined with a well-floured tea towel on the bottom. The dough had to rest for another two hours before baking. It really takes THAT long.

After what felt like eternity, I preheated my oven and baking dish, coated the base and lid with some oil and tossed the dough ball in, setting the temperature to 230°C for 30 minutes. Once that was done, I continued baking for another 15 minutes with the lid off till the bread was golden brown. At this point of baking, I already felt that sense of gratification. The whole kitchen was filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread (I bet my neighbours caught a whiff of it and were filled with jealousy).

Alas, I could take the bread out of the oven and allowed it to cool for another 15 minutes on a wire rack. I spent that 15 minutes observing its beautiful crust, ever so slightly using my finger to poke the bread to see if it was ready to be sliced, bread knife on the ready at the side. And there it was. A delicious slice of homemade, no knead bread. It had a crusty, almost crispy exterior, and a soft, fluffy interior filled with beautiful pock-marks — signs of a well-fermented dough. The bread was slightly on the sour side, but went perfectly with some butter spread and sprinkle of sea salt.

I now have a pretty picture to upload on my Instagram, a proud sense of accomplishment, and a huge loaf of bread for me (and my family) to consume within the next two days.

No Knead Bread Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 430 g bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 390 ml water
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil, for coating baking pan

METHOD

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, yeast and salt and mix well.
  2. Add in water and continue stirring, until dough is a homogeneous sticky mixture.
  3. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and let the dough rest for at least 12 to 18 hours at room temperature.
  4. After resting, the dough should be foamy and rose a little.
  5. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice.
  6. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
  7. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball.
  8. Generously coat a tea towel with flour, toss the dough ball in and dust with more flour.
  9. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  10. Preheat oven to 230°C. Heat an 8 inch baking pan in oven while preheating. Remove baking pan from oven when heated, place dough inside, cover and bake for 30 minutes.
  11. Remove cover and bake for remaining 15 minutes, or until bread turns golden brown. Cool on a rack before slicing and serving.