Cotton Blossom II and Dennis Conner

It is obvious that I quite like the Q Class Sloop Cotton Blossom II. She has appeared many times in this blog. But I recently stumbled upon her again and reread an article about her and Dennis Conner in Wooded Boat Magazine (July/August 2005)



I admit to having a great deal respect for Dennis Conner. I was living in San Diego when Dennis mounted a successful campaign to win the America's Cup from Australia. I have fond memories of watching late night America's Cup races as well as occasionally racing some of the Stars and Stripes trial boats in local San Diego bay races.

The Wooden Boat article is an interesting read, by Bill Mayher, and is visually stunning thanks to photography by Benjamin Mendlowitz. But one of my favorite parts is a paragraph about Bill's experience with Cotton Blossom II under sail with Dennis Conner.
Sailing close-hauled we headed into the basin directly in front of the dining porch of the San Diego Yacht Club. At the last moment Conner puts the helm down and in a perfectly timed arc, the stern clears the dock at the head of the basin by 3", maybe 3 1/2". Several heads turn our way from the porch to watch perhaps the greatest competitive sailor of our time execute this graceful pirouette in a boat that must surely bring back memories for a lot of them, but most of the elderly lunch crown are bent over their kiwi fruit cups and crab bisque and fail to register the slightest notice.
This graceful move was performed in a 24,000 pound sloop with 16 feet of over-hang (49 ft loa % 33 ft lwl). I sometimes wonder if seamanship will survive with bow thrusters and motoring on and off docks when feats like this seem hardly noticed. In any case it is inspiration for me as I learn the boundaries of my own boat with her 10 foot over-hang (30 ft loa % 20 ft lwl).

I still can't quite figure out why, in my mind, modern boats just don't aethetically compete with the classics. Will it always be this way? In any case more Cotton Blossom II eye candy. Enjoy.