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August 19, 2018

Seventeen migrants dead, 278 saved in Strait of Sicily: navy

ROME (Reuters) – Italian sailors have rescued 278 migrants in the Strait of Sicily but found 16 others dead in their inflatable boat and one more who died shortly after help arrived, the navy said on Friday.

The dead apparently succumbed to hypothermia and dehydration in one of three boats found on Thursday south of the island of Lampedusa, it said.

There were 75 survivors from the boat carrying the corpses and another 202 people were rescued from the two other inflatable boats found in the same area.

Photographs released by the navy showed standing passengers packed into the overcrowded outboard-powered boats.

Some 3,200 migrants have died this year trying to reach Europe from Africa, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said. Many of them are fleeing conflict and human rights abuses at home.

Italy is closing its “Mare Nostrum” search and rescue mission which has saved some 100,000 migrants, and making way for a smaller pan-European project called Triton.

Mare Nostrum, which included five warships on permanent patrol, was launched last October after more than 360 migrants died when their boat capsized a mile off the coast of Lampedusa.

The mission cost nearly 10 million euros ($12.35 million) a month, becoming a controversial strain on an economy that is suffering its third recession in six years.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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Seventeen migrants dead, 278 saved in Strait of Sicily: navy

Loick Peyron wins Route du Rhum in record time

POINTE-A-PITRE, Guadeloupe (AP) — French sailor Loick Peyron won the Route du Rhum trans-Atlantic race in record time, crossing the finish line Monday more than two hours faster than the previous mark.

Ninety-one boats set off on Nov. 2 on a 3,542-nautical mile (6,560-kilometer) course between the French port city of Saint-Malo and the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.

Peyron’s time of 7 days, 15 hours, 8 minutes, 32 seconds aboard Banque Populaire VII eclipsed countryman Lionel Lemonchois’ time of 7 days, 17 hours, 19 minutes, 6 seconds, which was set in 2006.

“I was not supposed to be on this boat two months ago. I was supposed to do the Rhum race on a very small yellow trimaran which will be the case in four years’ time,” Peyron said. “But it is not a surprise because I knew that the boat was able to do it.”

The 54-year-old Peyron’s previous best finish was fifth. He abandoned the race three times.

Peyron was also skipper of the 14-man Banque Populaire crew, which holds the Jules Verne Trophy.

Countryman Thomas Coville, the winner in 1998, was among the favorites but damaged his yacht in a collision with a cargo ship on the first night.

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Loick Peyron wins Route du Rhum in record time

Inside Sailing’s Biggest Race

I haven’t peed in six hours, and my only option for relief is a precariously small carbon-fiber bowl, known to everyone on board as “the head.” It sits near the rear of the 65-foot racing yacht between three carbon-fiber walls, a precaution to ensure that sailors don’t slip off their perch in treacherous seas. But it’s exposed to the rear of the boat, an area housing other necessities the crew might need during my rushed encounter with the head.

Around 1am, Ralphie, a 51-year-old veteran sailor who has raced in the America’s Cup, catches me enviously watching others relieve themselves off the back of the boat. (As the only girl on board, such freedoms do not come so easily.) “The girls I used to race with would just pull their pants around their ankles and hang off the back,” Ralphie says with I shrug.

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Were I braver, I’d attempt this balancing act and delight in exposing my bum to the breeze and ocean spray. Instead, I sneak down to the head.

It was a calm June evening, and I was on breezy overnight jaunt from Newport, Rhode Island to Oyster Bay, Long Island with Team Alvimedica. Today (Saturday), the 10-man Alvimedica crew will undertake a rather more daunting task—with no confused female journalists in sight—when they compete in the triennial Volvo Ocean Race, sailing’s biggest offshore race and the most time-consuming single sporting event in the world (it takes around nine months to complete).

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Alvimedica are one of seven teams crossing the starting line in Alicante, Spain, embarking on the first of nine legs in the race: a 6,487 nautical mile, roughly 30 day journey to Cape Town, South Africa. (The teams rest for roughly a week at each port). The race will be complete in April, 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden. The winner is determined not by total elapsed time but by a series of point, allowing teams to challenge for victory if they are forced out of one or more legs.

The Volvo Ocean Race began in 1973, known then as the Whitbread. It was a luxury sport then, as it is now, but with more emphasis on the luxuries afforded the sailors: wine, meat, cooks, and copious amounts of fresh water.

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Today’s teams survive on rehydrated food, protein bars, and desalinated water. In 2014, circumnavigating the globe is still tough, but there are technological luxuries too, in the form of state of the art GPS devices and weather predicting systems. But this can make the race more about the art of sailing. Because as Ralphie explains to me, “every team has identical software and identical weather.”

In years past, teams have piloted yachts with different design elements, but this year the Volvo Ocean Race is requiring all seven teams to race in identically designed, 65-foot boats. To the non-sailor, it seems a brutal journey; the cabins look like submarines, with a small berthing area where crewmembers sleep in netted bunks during four-hour shift.

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“A huge part of this race is about team chemistry and co-existing for 25 days or longer at a time,” says Charlie Enright, the 29-year-old skipper of Team Alvimedica. “There’s nowhere to run or hide if you have problems. Everyone in the boat is rowing in the same direction and better not drill holes in it.”

Enright and his 25-year-old teammate Mark Towill, who met in 2007 on the set of Roy Disney’s Morning Light, a documentary film about a group of young sailors racing from Southern California to Hawaii, worked together to raise money to compete in the Volvo race, ultimately convincing a Turkish medical supply manufacturer—Alvimedica—to be their sponsor.

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As the team manager, Towill’s job is to constantly monitor the speed of the boat and communicate that information to the skipper and navigator. “I’m always thinking about performance and how to go faster, faster, faster,” he says.

But speed and navigation are far from my mind. I’m onboard for a single evening—calm waters and a temperate climate—and it isn’t long before I am obsessing with sleeping and peeing.

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“Once you get locked into the watch system, day and night become irrelevant,” Towill tells me. “But you never get four hours of sleep. Anytime we have to put up the sail or tack or do any maneuvering, it requires all hands on deck. And it can take an hour just to tack. Plus you still have to find time to eat, clean, go to the bathroom and all that stuff.”

Around 3am, my spindly legs are beginning to ache from balancing on deck, as we heel with each tack. I had hoped to defy the four-hour watch system and stay up to see the sunrise, but I’m fantasizing about retiring to my claustrophobic netted bunk.

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Cradled in the hull, the Ambien is unnecessary, as I drift off to the muffled “whoosh” sound of the boat darting through the water like a large fish. The seas are calm, no waves violently knocking the hull, as they inevitably will during long stretches of the race. Indeed, in 2006 a Dutch sailor died during the race after, as the New York Times described it at the time, “a frantic and harrowing struggle against low visibility and treacherous waves.”

I sleep so soundly that I can’t fathom how the crew manages to sleep on land after each 25-day leg. Still, after nearly a month at sea, I imagine they are eager to recharge, ready for interaction with the outside world. But readjusting isn’t always that simple.

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“It’s strange when you get back to land after being in such a small place with such a small group of people, all focused on the same thing,” says Towill. “You feel like you have what you need. Then you get to land and there’s a million people standing around, handing you beers. It’s pretty overwhelming.”

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Inside Sailing’s Biggest Race

Adam Green puts wind in the sails of inner-city students

Adam Green has taken arts and crafts education to a whole new level.

In 1996, he founded Rocking the Boat, a Bronx, N.Y.-based nonprofit organization that blends youth empowerment and boat building. The organization works with young people challenged by economic, educational, and social conditions, and helps them develop self-confidence and the skills needed to achieve their ambitions.

Students work together to build wooden boats while developing skills like rowing and sailing, and learning about waterway conservation and community revitalization – all while learning marketable skills and gaining confidence.

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“There is an opportunity at every phase of our training process,” says Mr. Green, whose desire to launch the program came from personal experience.

Green had taken a semester off during his studies at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., part of which he spent serving on the crew of a sailboat as an environmental educator. He enjoyed the process of teaching children about the environment, but the experiences weren’t long enough.

“I was frustrated that we only worked with them for three hours at a time,” he says.

Later he took that experience into the classroom, volunteering his time at an East Harlem, N.Y., junior high school over an eight-month period. During that time the students constructed their own wooden boat from start to finish.

“It was just a thrilling experience to see kids actually have a reason to learn things, and a reason to care about the things they were being taught,” he says, emphasizing the practical nature of boat building and the tangible rewards. “From there, the idea grew and grew.”

Green founded Rocking the Boat, and the organization has since developed into a fully sustainable nonprofit with an annual budget topping $1.9 million, serving nearly 3,000 young adults and members of the community each year.

Throughout the semester, youths participate in Rocking the Boat during the school day or through the intensive after-school program. Sessions encompass everything from lessons about the Bronx River to basic rowing techniques and boat safety lessons.

The after-school program – with two groups of 40 students who spent two sessions a week with Rocking the Boat – includes more hands-on boat building and repair projects as well.

“It is just a great sight to see” – youngsters participating in a variety of activities both on land and in the water, Green says.

The Rocking the Boat staff includes three licensed social workers who provide comprehensive support to the students, assisting with everything from social development to college applications.

While freshmen and sophomores spend most of their time learning the basics, juniors and seniors add job skills development, Green says. Program graduates enrolled in a college or trade school may be hired as part-time program assistants.

Green said that he enjoys every aspect of Rocking the Boat.

“I do it because it is amazingly fulfilling,” he says. “It feels really good to do this work and have the impact.”

Jennifer Galvin, vice president of the board of directors of Rocking the Boat, says that the effect that the organization has had on young participants is indisputable.

“Adam gives young people undervalued life skills,” she says. “He uses boat building as a portal to change lives – not just Rocking the Boat’s student’s lives, but the lives of their families and the health of their community. Most of his students didn’t even know there was a river in [their] neighborhood, much less why they should care about it.”

The program helps participants achieve personal success while transforming the way they relate to the environment “and the way they view their role in the world as young adults,” she says.

• For more information, visit www.rockingtheboat.org. On Sept. 27 Rocking the Boat is hosting a special fundraising event, Rocking Manhattan, during which teams of rowers will undertake a full-day, 30-mile row around the island of Manhattan in traditionally built whaleboats. For more information, visit www.rockingmanhattan.org.

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Adam Green puts wind in the sails of inner-city students

Solomon Islander who helped save JFK dies at 93

Honiara (AFP) – A Solomon Islander who helped save John F. Kennedy when a Japanese destroyer sank the future US president’s patrol boat during World War II has died aged 93, his family said Monday.

Eroni Kumana and his fellow islander Buiku Gasa were out in a canoe in 1943 when they came across the injured Kennedy, who was then a naval lieutenant, and members of his crew stranded on a coral atoll.

The pair helped the Americans survive and Kennedy went on to become the 35th president of the United States, keeping a coconut from the ordeal as a paperweight on his White House desk.

Kumana’s son Esori said his father passed away surrounded by family members on Saturday aged 93 and was laid to rest on his home island of Ronongga on Monday.

“It was very sad (but) he lived a full life and we are proud of him,” he told AFP via telephone from the island, where villagers were preparing a feast in Kumana’s honour.

Kennedy’s boat PT-109 was on a night-time patrol when a Japanese destroyer suddenly loomed out of the dark and sheared the wooden vessel in half, according to the Smithsonian magazine.

Spilled fuel ignited in the water, causing both the Japanese and other US PT boats to assume the 13-man crew had all perished in the shark-infested waters.

In fact, 11 of them were still alive and when dawn broke Kennedy led his crew on a five-kilometre (three-mile) swim from the boat’s wreckage to a coral atoll.

Kennedy, who had suffered a ruptured spinal disc, towed a badly burned crewman behind him during the marathon swim.

Eventually Kumana and Gasa passed in their canoe. They helped collect food for the crew and Kennedy sent them off to get help with a message etched into the shell of a coconut, reading: “Nauru Isl commander/native knows posit/he can pilot/11 alive/need small boat/Kennedy”.

After being rescued, Kennedy retrieved the coconut and had it encased in plastic, using it as a paperweight throughout his post-war political career. It is still on display in the Kennedy Museum in Boston.

Kumana and Gasa were invited to Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration but were unable to make the trip to Washington.

Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Gasa died in November 2005.

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Solomon Islander who helped save JFK dies at 93