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Last Leg for Larchmont Sailor:
Will the Trimaran Sail Into NYC in Record Time?

by Cynthia Goss and Keith Taylor of sitesALIVE! and Judy Silberstein

(May 22, 2002) "They're almost here, they're almost here," shouted seventh graders at Hommocks Middle School predicting the imminent homecoming of adventurers Rich Wilson and Rich du Moulin now into the last leg of their Hong Kong to New York voyage aboard the Great American II.

By next week this time, Great American II--carrying skipper Wilson and Larchmont's du Moulin -- should be in safe port at the Chelsea Piers of New York City. This week, GAII has been making her way towards New York, passing to the West by Caribbean islands where tourists are enjoying sun and sand; passing the small island of Bermuda; passing by the vast region of the Eastern Seaboard, where millions are carrying out the tasks of their daily lives while these two men sail their 53-foot trimaran and make their way through ocean waves and moving weather systems to reach home.

"Now that we are in the final sprint, I do have 'finish line fever'," confessed Rich du Moulin via e-mail. "But I still enjoy the sailing. Basic requirement number one: you must like sailing...a lot," he summed up.

The Hommocks seventh grade and thousands of other school children have been following the two "Riches" and Great American II since they left Hong Kong on March 16 to challenge the 74-day 14-hour record of the clipper ship Sea Witch. The students and their teachers have been along for the ride following the exploits via computer (sitesalive.com), e-mail and even one telephone call.

doldrums"That phone call cheered us up as we were glued to the water in the Doldrums," recalled Rich du Moulin about his contact with the Hommocks. He has found the educational component of the voyage to be a daily incentive, helping him get through difficult or boring stretches of ocean.

"The kids are looking forward to having Rich du Moulin come back to the Middle School to tell them some more stories like the one about getting hit by Freddy the Flying Fish," reported Mary Everett, seventh grade teacher and Head of the Science Department. "Several of us are going down to the Chelsea Piers to welcome them back and to represent the Hommocks."

Du Moulin will be prepared with another flying fish story. Just last week he wrote in his journal, "..one of Freddie's cousins flew into the mainsail, about 15 feet above the deck, and fell into a puddle of water trapped in the folds at the foot of the sail. A few hours later as I tended the mainsheet winch in the dark, there was another sneak attack. This fish hit me in head and bounced right back into the ocean. I may wear the helmet the next time I’m on deck!"

While du Moulin fended off flying fish, the science department faced the challenge of shoe-horning the sitesAlive! program into the Hommocks' school day.

"It's news, it's happening, it's current, and it's very motivational for the kids. So even though it's hard to fit into our densely packed curriculum, it's worth it," Everett said. "It's a 'once in a life time opportunity' we wouldn't want to miss."

If wind and weather predictions hold, the Hommocks welcome contingent will be witnessing the Great American II sail into harbor sometime on Tuesday, May 27. As the end of the voyage draws near, Rich du Moulin has been reflecting on the experience.

"We have been at sea on Great American II for 66 days, 45 days longer than my previous longest voyage 31 years ago," he emailed. "It has been an incredible adventure in many ways. This is a 'complex' voyage where Rich Wilson and I are 'multi-tasking.' This is a sea passage where the goal is a safe voyage for boat and crew. It is an educational program through sitesAlive! Finally it is a challenge to beat the record of a great sailing vessel from the early days of America. For me in particular, this is a personal test of whether I can handle, physically and psychologically, an endurance event at sea. Rich Wilson has met this test on many previous long voyages, but I have not."

Du Moulin thanked the sitesAlive! team, his family and business partner for the support necessary for the long and complex undertaking. He was also grateful for his own good health. "It is a big mistake to take health for granted; I am fortunate," he wrote.

Attentive and skillful sailing - plus modern technology - is putting the trimaran on course to beat the clipper ship record. However, du Moulin's respect for the historic Sea Witch and its Captain Waterman continues to grow. He wrote, "It is simply amazing what they were able to accomplish with their old technology and lack of external information about weather!"

"The power of the Sea Witch in heavy seas and strong winds is still awesome, and it was carrying cargo! For me it was essential to have the Sea Witch as a competitor. Without the competitive element, I am not sure I could have handled this long voyage. Every day I look forward to Rich Wilson's noon position from which I derive a 24-hour comparison with Sea Witch," wrote du Moulin.

In closing, du Moulin wrote, "I have really enjoyed communicating with all of you through these weekly reports. It helped me deal with time at sea, and share with you some of the adventure. Hope to see you in New York next week when Rich Wilson and I arrive on Great American II."


HOW THE PUBLIC CAN FOLLOW GREAT AMERICAN II: The website tracking the voyage of Great American II is http://www.sitesalive.com. Daily position reports and sailors' logs are posted on the site for classrooms, students, and families who purchase licenses to follow the progress of the boat.

For information http://www.sitesalive.com/oceanchallengelive/. The saga of GAII will also be published in the Larchmont Gazette and a number of daily papers, in the Newspaper In Education supplements, and tracked on the AOL@SCHOOL program (keyword: sitesalive). Some 360,000 students, including those at Hommocks, are expected to follow the voyage.

The sitesALIVE Foundation addresses teacher training in computer technology and funding for budget-constrained schools. The mission of the foundation is to enhance K-12 education by promoting the use of technology with real-world, real-time content from around the world.

Photographs from the voyage: copyright sitesALIVE! 2003

 

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