What caught my eye: November 2023

Bragging rights up for grabs by the Chesapeake cowboys

Of all the stories I have unearthed this year, this one is one of my favourites and one of the strangest too; and please forgive me for it sounds like something that could only happen in America – a sort of rodeo with boats instead of cattle!

I understand the competitors who participate in this unusual sport are known locally as the Chesapeake cowboys, and their competition draws thousands of spectators along the shores of Maryland and Virginia each year. Apparently, a recent article in The New York Times sparked some serious discourse in the comments section. Competitive boat docking appeared to be quite divisive for many New York Times readers, with some believing the contest caused negative environmental effects, while others regard it as a traditional event for locals along the circuit. Every year, Chesapeake crab boats compete to reverse into a slip while a couple of thousand onlookers watch, enjoy drinks and listen to music. In the article, competitor Ronnie Reiss commented that “It’s redneck like NASCAR, just on the water.”

The event has been held since 1971, and the main takeaway is bragging rights and some extra cash. Competitors know that scratching and bumping their boats is part of the game, but they love it anyway. For the winners, prize money often goes towards boat repairs!

Shipwrecks to be protected from thieves in England by forensic markings
Image credit: James Clark
Image credit: James Clark

This is an intriguing story and showcases a remarkable use for new technology too.

The report informs me that Historic England is using new technology to forensically mark artefacts, deterring potential criminals from stealing treasures from shipwreck sites. The scheme is a collaboration between Historic England, MSDS Marine, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and partners. It involves forensically marking 57 wreck sites nationwide.

Speaking about the new forensic marking system, Mark Harrison, head of heritage crime strategy at Historic England, says: “This will act as a clear deterrent to those looking to unlawfully lift and remove historic material from Protected Wreck Sites. If someone breaks the law and removes any property, the new markings will give police the ability to link the offender to the crime scene and implement criminal proceedings.”

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “Our nationally important shipwrecks tell the story of England’s maritime past. Underwater forensic marking of artefacts is a great leap forward in helping to protect them.”

Award-winning photographer scoops “Best Job in the World”

As a keen and enthusiastic photographer myself, although not an award-winning one by any means, who more often than not has a camera slung around my neck, I couldn’t let this story slip by. I can totally understand Rick’s elation at having landed this plum role.

So, I read with great interest that renowned yachting photographer, Rick Tomlinson, will be the first ever on-board reporter for the prestigious Oyster World Rally, having spotted an advert on social media describing the vacancy for the ‘best job in the world’. The fourth edition of this 16-month circumnavigation of the world, arranged exclusively for Oyster yachts and their owners, starts in Antigua in January 2024.

Rick says: “We must remember that this is a very personal adventure for everyone taking part. For the owners, their families, and friends, this is their dream and I feel hugely privileged to be able to be part of their adventure.”

I wish Rick and all those involved in this event Bon Voyage.

University team breaks electric water-speed record

An electric speedboat team from Princeton University in the US has broken the world water speed record for an electric-powered boat.

According to a media release issued by the Princeton Electric Speedboating (PES) student team, the feat was achieved at the Annual Gold Technologies and Robbins/Margeas Electric Records Event when hydroplane driver John Peeters averaged 114.20 mph on the American Power Boat Association’s sanctioned kilo course on Lake Townsend near Greensboro, North Carolina.
The team’s customised Pro-Outboard hydroplane, nicknamed Big Bird, has a 200 HP electric race motor, co-developed with Flux Marine.

Peeters entered the kilo speed-trap and posted a single-direction speed of 111.08mph. Without recharging the boat’s batteries (as is required of a kilo-style event), he then increased his speed in the opposite direction, recording an average speed of 117.50 mph. The two speeds averaged together for the new world record of 114.20mph.

Time for me to wish you all the best for the Christmas holiday (if you celebrate it) and to wish you good luck for 2024.
Mike Schwarz

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