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Scuttlebutt: Sailing Trivia

Here is a collection of trivia that has been in past issues of the Scuttlebutt newsletter. Click here if you have a trivia question that you would like to share with Scuttlebutt.

  • Things in Common-
  • Q- What accomplishment is shared by the likes of Ed Baird, Terry Neilson, John Bertrand (US), Peter Commette and Glenn Bourke?
    A- Ed Baird, Terry Neilson, John Bertrand (US), Peter Commette and Glenn Bourke have at least one thing in common…they are all past Laser World Champions. There have been fifteen champions thus far that have emerged from the 24 events to date. Click here for a complete list of past Laser champions.

  • Shaving Cream-
  • Q- What usage does shaving cream have in sailing other than to provide good trophy banquet photos?
    A- Don’t leave the shaving cream in your shower kit, as it can provide an assist after you have removed the ball bearings from a block for cleaning. During reassembly, squirt shaving cream into the race where the bearings live. Rather than struggling to keep the ball bearings from falling out, the shaving cream will hold all the bearings in place while you reassemble. Once the part is reassembled, rinse the cream out with water. - Mike Lee, Harken

  • Weather Warning-
  • Q- What does the following mean: “Wind before rain, let your topsail fill again. Rain before wind, sheets and topsails mind.”
    A- The saying, “Wind before rain, let your topsail fill again. Rain before wind, sheets and topsails mind,” means that if a squall is coming and it starts to blow before you feel any precipitation, the squall will be less severe and short duration. However, if you feel rain before the wind pipes up - precipitation is being thrown out of the storm cell violently; you're likely in for quite a ride! Be ready to shorten sails.

  • Longest River-
  • Q- What is the longest river in the world?
    A- The Nile River in the African continent is nearly 4,200 miles long and flows northward into the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Longerst Coral Reef-
  • Q- What is the longest coral reef in the world?
    A- The Great Barrier Reef, along the continental shelf of northeastern Australia, is the longest coral reef measuring about 1,243 miles long.

  • Hurricane vs Typhoon-
  • Q- What's the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon?
    A- Hurricanes and typhoons are alike in origin, structure, and features. The only difference is the area of the world they occur in. Hurricanes occur in the waters adjacent to North America; in the North Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and southeastern North Pacific Ocean. On the other hand, typhoons occur in waters of the western North Pacific Ocean. Due to the unlimited amount of warm water in the Western Pacific Ocean, typhoons occur more often than hurricanes and are often larger and more intense.

  • Polar Ice Meltdown-
  • Q- What would happen if all the polar ice melted?
    A- In the unlikely event that all the polar ice were to melt, the sea level all over the world would rise 500 to 600 feet. As a result, 85 to 90% of the Earth's surface would be covered with water as compared to the current 71%. The U.S. would be split by the Mississippi Sea, which would connect the Great Lakes with the Gulf of Mexico. Source

  • 2004 Star Bacardi Cup-
  • Q- Prior to the 2004 Star Bacardi Cup, Mark Reynolds had won the event seven times. However, this record is only good enough to be tied with what sailor for the most wins at the event?
    A- Mark Reynolds’ impressive seven wins at the Star Bacardi Cup is still only good enough to equal that of Ding Schoonmaker of Miami, FL, who garnered his victories between 1953 to 1977.

  • From El Toros to America's Cup-
  • Q- Who was it that won the intermediate division of the 1975 El Toro North Americans but has since skyrocketed to the top of the sport?
    A- As for the sailor who won the intermediate division of the 1975 El Toro North Americans, but who is now among the elite competitors in the sport, the answer would be Paul Cayard. Click here for this flashback photo and story.

  • Tallest Iceberg-
  • Q- How tall is the tallest iceberg in the world?
    A- The tallest iceberg, measuring 550 feet, was located in 1958 off the coast of Greenland (the equivalent of a 55-story building).

  • Ocean Pressure-
  • Q- What is the ocean pressure at its deepest point?
    A- At the deepest point in the ocean, the pressure is more than 8 tons per square inch or the equivalent of one person trying to hold 50 jumbo jets.

  • Yachting Becomes Olympic Event-
  • Q- When did yachting become an Olympic event?
    A- Yachting became an Olympic event at the 1896 Games in Greece.

  • Earth's Oceans-
  • Q- How many oceans are on Earth?
    A- Earth is covered by one hydrosphere or one layer of connecting water. Even though the ocean is broken up into seven ocean parts, all the oceans are connected, one flowing into the other. Source

  • John Kostecki's First Worlds Victory-
  • Q- John Kostecki’s victory list includes winning ten world championship events (as of Dec-03). What event was his first?
    A- John Kostecki’s first world championship victory was in 1982, when at the age of 17 years old, the Sunfish Worlds came to his hometown of San Francisco and John took advantage of the occasion to jump into the class and win the event.

  • Largest Island-
  • Q- What is the largest island in the world?
    A- Greenland, with 840,000 square miles, is the largest island. This is not to be confused with Australia, which is a continent and therefore cannot be an island. New Guinea (306,000 square miles) is the second largest island, Madagascar (226,658 square miles) is the fourth largest island, and Great Britain (84,200 square miles) is the eighth largest island.

  • Longest Coastline-
  • Q- What country has the longest coastline?
    A- Canada has the longest coastline of any country. It is 56,453 miles long.

  • Most Rolex Awards-
  • Q- Who has won the most U.S. Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Awards?
    A- Betsy Alison has captured the annual award five times, spanning from 1981 to 1998. Ted Turner claimed the honor four times during the seventies.

  • America's Cup Futility-
  • Q- Which three countries have successfully become the challenger for the America’s Cup but have never won the Auld Mug?
    A- The three countries that have made it to the America’s Cup but have yet to win are England (19 losses), Italy (2 losses) and Canada (2 losses).

  • “Shake A Leg”-
  • Q- What is the origin of the term, “Shake A Leg?” What is the origin of the term, “Shake A Leg?”
    A- The term “Shake A Leg” originated in Portsmouth, where women would come aboard naval vessels to aid ship morale. Each morning the petty officer would shout for the occupants of hammocks to shake a leg. If the leg was smooth and shapely, the occupant was allowed to sleep in; if the leg was hairy, the officer turned out the hammock for the sailor to swab the deck.

  • Sunken Mount Everest-
  • Q- The tallest peak on land, Mount Everest, could be sunk without a trace into what ocean?
    A- Mount Everest could be sunk without a trace into the oceans deepest abyss, the 35,800 foot-deep Mariana Trench, in the Western Pacific.

  • Oldest Olympic class still used-
  • Q- What is the oldest Olympic class still currently being used?
    A- The oldest Olympic class boat is the Star, which debuted in 1932 and has been sailed in every Olympiad since, with the exception of 1976.

  • Successful first-time America's Cup challengers-
  • Q- Alinghi’s victory in the 2003 America’s Cup was not the first time a new challenger had won the Auld Mug. Who preceded the Swiss in this feat?
    A- While the Swiss team’s victory was significant as it was their very first attempt at America’s Cup racing, the US holds the title of being the first-ever first-time challenger to win the cup. Stars & Stripes’ victory over Kookabura III in 1987 was the first time the US had ever been a challenger in the event (except perhaps for that August day in 1851).

  • Salt content in the ocean-
  • Q- If all the salt content of the sea was extracted, to what depth would salt cover the continents of the world?
    A- The sea contains enough salt to cover the continents with a layer of salt 500 feet thick.

  • "As The Crow Flies"-
  • Q- What is the origin of the term, “As The Crow Flies?”
    A- The term “As The Crow Flies” came from British coastal vessels that customarily carried a cage of crows. Crows detest large expanses of water and head, as straight as a crow flies, towards the nearest land if released at sea - very useful if you were unsure of the nearest land when sailing in foggy waters before the days of radar. The lookout perch on sailing vessels thus became known as the crow's nest.

  • Olympics and Women-
  • Q- When was the very first Olympic women’s yachting event, and who won?
    A- Women’s yachting was first introduced in the 1988 Olympics with a doublehanded division sailed in 470’s. It was in Seoul, Korea where Americans Allison Jolly and Lynne Shore won the gold.

  • Sir Thomas Lipton and Syd Fischer-
  • Q- What do Sir Thomas Lipton and Syd Fischer have in common?
    A- They might have shared a love for drinking tea, but on the water they hold the record as five-time losers in challenging for the America’s Cup. Had Lipton not died in 1931 when planning a sixth challenge, he may well have presently had the record to himself.

  • Lowell North-
  • Q- When did Lowell North first begin making his own sails?
    A- North began making sails in 1957. “My first sail had elastic and cunninghams in both the luff and the foot. The sail looked like a spinnaker on a reach or a run, and then you could pull the cunninghams and almost make it look like a sail upwind. We went up to the Los Angeles Midwinters and just beat the *&%#@ out of everybody, including Bill Ficker. We were lucky the courses were more reaching than upwind. That caused a rule to be passed against cunninghams.” – Lowell North

  • Horse Latitudes-
  • Q- Why is the region at about 30º in both northern and southern hemispheres called the horse latitudes?
    A- Tradition states that sailors gave the region of the subtropical high the name "horse latitudes" because ships relying on wind power stalled; fearful of running out of food and water, sailors threw their horses overboard to save on provisions.

  • 1996 Olympics-
  • Q- What four countries won their first Olympic yachting medals in the 1996 Olympics in Savannah, Georgia, USA?
    A- A record 436 sailors representing 77 countries participated in the 1996 Olympic Regatta, where Hong Kong, Japan, Poland and the Ukraine won their first-ever yachting medals.

  • Sydney-to-Hobart Race-
  • Q- What year was it when a deadly storm struck Australia’s Sydney-to-Hobart race?
    A- It was on Boxing Day, December 26, 1998, when 115 sailing yachts set out from Australia's Sydney Harbor for the 54th Annual Sydney-to-Hobart ocean classic. None knew they were being stalked by a deadly storm. In the next 48 hours, the monster storm would strike, destroying yachts, washings scores of sailors overboard into 80-foot seas, killing six and spurring the largest sea rescue ever mounted by Australians.

  • America's Cup Skirts-
  • Q- What was the first year that skirts (used by competing yachts to hide their hull shape and appendages) were introduced to the America’s Cup?
    A- Skirts are nothing new in the America's Cup. Scottish challenger Thistle sported canvas screens to hide their underbelly from prying New Yorkers at the time of their 1887 challenge. They needn't have bothered, as they lost 2-0 to Volunteer.

  • 1984 Olympics-
  • Q- What father and son were gold medal winners in different classes in the 1984 Olympics?
    A- In the Los Angeles Olympics, Americans Bill and Carl Buchan shared similar podium results. Father Bill Buchan skippered his Star to victory with Steve Erickson crewing, while son Carl Buchan crewed for Jonathan McKee to win the gold in the Flying Dutchman.

  • Fastnet Race-
  • Q- What year was it when a devastating storm caused havoc to the Fastnet Race in England?
    A- It was 1979, when fifteen competitors lost their lives in the 605-mile race and only 85 out of 303 yachts made it back to the finishing line off the English port of Plymouth.

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