Hovering over Mount Olympus…

Seventeen years ago, I bought “Vándor” and created the “Alberg 22 Site”. The site has been long gone, but recently I was able to find a short text I wrote about the Alberg 22, likely around that same time. I forgot the occasion, but it seems that I was trying to explain how well an Alberg 22 can sail using some kind of semi-humorous philosophical style while still meaning every word I wrote. There is a clear reference to the theory of relativity but at least I refrained from making any allusion to “Alberg Einstein” (oops! I think I just did…). I found the article posted in a Google site created by a fellow sailor, Peter Deppisch, whom I thank for having saved my writing during all this time: https://sites.google.com/site/peterdeppisch/alberg22_1. Here it is:


“A boat sails as the result of dynamic forces imposed on its structure by water, air and gravity, all distributed along the line-forces in the hull according to her design. This permits her to remain afloat while changing space-time coordinates in a predictable and pleasurable manner.

As such the forces on a boat are largely determined by the sun, the rotation of the earth and gravity itself, all forces that humans may aspire to use, but have less hope of ever being ever able to control or even completely understand. Hence, the only way in which humans can exert some degree of control over the behaviour of a boat is via the design and construction, and perhaps to some extent, through the abilities of her crew, which in a way are also highly relative to the design and the construction of the vessel.

Thus, the design and structure of a boat are central to her ability to sail, and particularly to her ability to sail in a way as to elicit positive endorphins in the basal nuclei of the brain of all those on board as well as in those watching from outside the boat. Now, this is an interesting scenario, clearly analogous to the one that at the beginning of the 20th century triggered some important changes in the way humans understood reality, and more particularly space and time.

Similar, but with clear differences, as the actual scenario used in those momentous studies involved a train and an embankment rather than a boat and a landmark, a rather unfortunate choice as it led to ignore the relativity of the pleasure derived from sailing: i.e., whether a person inside an Alberg 22 sailing at 7 knots while heeling at 30 degrees in a steady breeze of 15 knots can feel the same or distinct pleasure from another person observing the boat from a nearby fixed landmark (or for that matter from another boat, provided that such boat is not an Alberg…).

Here we will argue that such pleasure is indeed relative to the position of the observer, as the pleasure in the bystander can only be derived from its visual perception and imagination, while the person in the boat feels in its own flesh and bones (sometimes more that it might have wished to bargain for) the same forces being imposed on the structure of the vessel by the mysterious, cosmic sources indicated in the beginning.

This narrative version of the special relativity of boat enjoyment is the result of years of Alberg experimentation, a design permitting those forces to be felt amplified through their dynamic integration and subsequent decomposition along the lines of the boat design and structure to which the crew is momentarily invited to be part thereof while on board.

Not having been designed or built for performance or endurance, and neither for comfort or for aesthetics alone, but for a balanced blend of all those parameters, an Alberg is probably the quintessential representation of equilibrium in boat design and construction, an equilibrium which is readily experienced both by the boat and the crew and which results in an explosion of pleasure for the boater on board.

This pleasure is not only an inner reflection of the equilibrium attained, but also a response to the indirect feeling of the cosmic forces at play, a feeling made even more intimate by the fact that those forces remain and are likely to always be beyond human control and comprehension.

How does an Alberg sail? Any sailboat can sail, but an Alberg, she hovers over Mount Olympus!

 (“Vándor”, Alberg 22 #284, 1986).”