Friday, May 29, 2009

Music for Friday; Flogging Molly, Salty Dog

Time for a hyperkinetic, rollicking, howling pirate song.

Music for Friday; An Admission

Last week, I was idly clicking through Tillerman's blog lists and was going through one his top ten sailing blogs, Messing About in Boats, and realized that "Messing About in Boats" had a "Song for Friday" section.... in fact he had been doing "Song for Friday" a lot longer that I had been doing "Music for Friday". It then dawned upon me that somewhere in the past I had visited "Messing About in Boats", saw the feature "Song for Friday", filed it in my subconscious, and then resurfaced it in my blog as "Music for Fridays", at that time completely original and brilliant from my brain. Oops! Time to acknowledge the progenitor of my "Music for Fridays". For those who want to go through a different set of YouTube music videos, please take a gander at the "Song for Friday" section over at the blog Messing About in Boats,

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Laser Racing; SSA Tuesday Night Summer Series

A YouTube featuring the Laser fleet during last Tuesdays weeknight racing at Severn Sailing Assoc, Annapolis MD, USA. Plenty of breeze and lots of action at the leeward mark as most of the fleet were gybing and rounding the mark in one fell swoop. There is also some shots of carving downwind. The level of experience in SSA's Laser fleet is considerable as attested by the small number of capsizes in these gusty conditions.

The fleet was about evenly divided between Radial and Full Rig as the Radial ACC Championships will be at SSA in just over a week.

Stitching Explained (Stitch and Tape Construction in Boatbuilding)

In reference to the previous post about building Classic Moths using stitch and glue; there may be some out there who do not know what stitch and tape (glue) is about. This video is a good primer on stitching panels together to form a hull. The hull in the video is a Chesapeake Light Craft kit, a Mill Creek kayak. This is a multipanel design and doesn't torture the plywood (like Greg's modified Mistral) to get the shape.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Greg's New Ride

Greg Duncan had his new Classic Moth at Portsmouth. It is a modified Mistral design with a wider transom. Built with 3mm Luan (doorskin ... $15 a sheet). Greg is one of those builders who seem to pop out a new Mothboat every two years or so.

A completely unedited video on his new Moth.

The audio is obscured by wind noise (the wind picked up after the racing ... typical!) and Jimmy Buffet on the car stereo ... so let me translate. Greg says "Europe transom, Mistral nose" which translated means he grafted a Europe transom shape onto the Mistral panel shapes. The Mistral and Greg's variant are built by "stitch and glue" aka "tortured ply", which entails wiring two hull panels together at the centerline and then bending them up into a hull shape. You can change the shape dramatically by altering the beams at the gunwhale as well as attaching a different transom shape.

Finally got some sailboat racing in ........... Portsmouth Boat Club

You would have thought I've gone all traditional, waiting for Memorial Day weekend to get my first racing in for the year. This one was a road trip, as are nearly all regattas for the Classic Moth, the class being spread up and down the East Coast. John Z. and I loaded up our two boat trailer and drove the four hours down to race on Saturday at the Portsmouth Boat Club, Virginia.

Four Classic Moths showed up, down from the normal seven or so, as some regulars were either out of country or attending graduations. One thing I like about small classes is the camaraderie. You show up pre-race and there are hand shakes all around, then catching up on news of other regattas, and then catching up on what is going on in life.

Racing takes place off Portsmouth City Park and it is always like lake sailing ... this year 0-5 with holes and puffs and big shifts. The course is skewed but you don't come to Portsmouth to find a Race Committee gunning for U.S Sailing's St. Petersburg Trophy. They always have a large assortment of newbies in the Open Handicap Division and since I got my first baptism in sailboat racing in similar oddball courses, I applaud Portsmouth Boat Club. Almost everyone goes home with a trophy and let me salute the two kids in the Sunfish who someone in the RC (Dad?) was constantly coaching and the Melonseed traditional dinghy with skipper and son bringing up the back markers.

As far as the Classic Moths; we got a separate start, Mark Saunders and John Z. were battling up front the entire regatta. Mark won with 3 bullets to John's 1 bullet. Greg Duncan and I tied for third; each splitting 3 and 4 in the four race series.

For the BlogMeister.... I was slow on the offwind legs which seemed to be about 80% of the race ... the stop/start in light air has never been my forte in this class .... excuses .... well maybe my varnished Tweezer design is a little off the pace, maybe I'm a little heavier than the leading two competitors ... but it wasn't I lacked skill I tell you (well maybe it was dumb of me to ensnare the leeward mark in one race, to the point I had to remove my rudder to get off).

I wrapped up the regatta as I did the last time I sailed at Portsmouth ... I'm big on tradition ...... on coming ashore I thought I entered the shallows so I jump out expecting to wade to shore .... this time like last time, I jumped overboard to keep going underwater ... glub glub.

It was a great time!

A picture of the intrepid four

Friday, May 22, 2009

Music for Friday; Dire Straits, Sultans of Swing

With guitar work by Mark Knopfler.........

Sailbot 2009; US Naval Academy

The recent developments in autonomous sailboats, i.e. sailboats that can sail themselves, is one of the more interesting subsets of sailboat racing. I find it fascinating; the technical geekiness required to get a total system design functioning at a level to get this robotic sailboat to work. All this development has been spurred by the MicroTransat challenge, the first team to successfully get a sailboat under 4 meters in length to cross the Atlantic by itself. Several teams around the world have been building prototypes but they recently ran into a hitch when those international authorities who control the oceans put a kabosh on the MicroTrasat unless competitors come up with a collision avoidance system on top of everything else.

Here was the first championship in autonomous sailboats held in Austria 2008.

The Roboat used a Laerling hull originally designed by Jan Linge (designer of the Soling and Yngling) as a kids keelboat. The University of Wales used what looked to be a Topper TAZ rotomolded dinghy.

A week or so ago, the US Naval Academy hosted Sailbot 2009 for autonomous sailboats. The rule had been tweaked down to promote smaller boats. Three teams showed up. They had four competitions; a match race, a navigation race, a station keeping competion and a long distance race. I got down during my lunch break and took some quick video of mostly shore preparation. The U.S Naval Academy won but everyone had their problems.

I did catch a glimpse of one of the Navy sailbots during the long distance race narrowly avoiding the big Annapolis tour boat "The Harbor Queen".

Monday, May 18, 2009

Boat Launching Done Right

A very nicely done video of the launch of the classic sailboat "KID II" at Greenport NY. Always liked a pipe and drum corps!

Boat launching from Mark Higgins on Vimeo.

Pro Speak ..... Duh!

Sometimes the sailing pros come up with a new way to describe sailboat racing that has me scratching my head. I was reading a daily report of the J24 Worlds over at Sailing Anarchy . Moose McClintock was the correspondent and I enjoy reading his reports but he wrote something like this (I paraphrase here) "We started at the pin and were able to manage the left side of the course". I've seen that word "manage" in other articles by the pros and all I can say is "Huh?".

Not wanting to appear to be out of touch for an oldster, I went to another pro and asked him what it meant "to manage the (left side/right side/center/group...)". He looked at me with that exasperated look that pros give the uninformed and then launched into several tactical scenarios that still left me scratching my head.

So, I have come up with my own definitions of what it is to "manage" in sailboat racing;

  1. As you come into the weather mark, if you are the leader of (left/right/center/group.......) then you have correctly "managed" that (left/right/center/group). So it is self fulfilling; if you lead you have effectively managed. (That is a very pro mindset ... I have controlled the sheep!)
  2. If you are #2 on down of (left/right/center/group....) as you come into the weather mark, you have incorrectly managed, you are a loser! If you were leading 2/3 the way up the beat and then the guy to leeward found fifth gear to blast ahead, again, you have not managed, you are a loser. The windward mark is the arbiter.
  3. It is not allowable to try to break the race into increasingly smaller subsets to effectively "manage". The following scenario would get you laughed out of, say, the Melges 24 Worlds Beer Tent. "I got shut out of the leeward pin, flipped to port, took a lot of sterns, but "managed" the 3 tailenders around me to round the weather mark in 85th"

Just remember, the next time you cross me and tack on my air, you are not allowing me to effectively manage my side of the course! Please be nice!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

One Minute 20 Seconds of Fame: The Other Part

I mentioned in a previous post that, in the two times I have gotten press in a sailing magazine, both have been pictures of me capsizing. This one counts as my first 30 seconds of fame. The picture appeared in the English Yachts and Yachting back in the early 1970's and, despite the blurry scan, shows an International Fourteen I was racing in Annapolis rolling over to windward .... again! Yes, look close and you can make out the rough shape of my upper torso desperately hanging onto to the windward gunwhale. Ah, the life of a crew forever trying to correct the missteps of the skipper.

(Double click for a larger image.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Four Surefire Ways to Look like a Dork when Sailing

Tillerman occassionally likes to stir up the sailing blogsphere with writing competitions .... the latest one he put forth is a boating related list. Normally I don't post in lists but on reflection, there were several lists that were floating around in my subconscious just waiting to be tapped.

Four Surefire Ways to Look Like a Dork when Sailing

Picture above from Tweezerman's archives;

  1. Clownface - Sunscreen that is primarily zinc oxide or titanium dioxide will give the requisite white face. This is eminently sensible for SPF protection (particularly since chemical sunscreens have come under increased scrutiny for health issues) but still considered the height of dorkiness.
  2. Hankerchief Hat - For those who like to feel the breeze on the back of the neck, this is as close as it gets to being bare headed. This, however, is not eminently sensible as hankerchiefs have a SPF value of maybe 6.
  3. Contractor KneePads - Ignore any of those petite designer sailing knee pads you can find at your nearest sailing outfitter.
  4. This is a toss up between Bicycling Tights and/or Brightly Colored shoes - I dimly remember those yellow shoes. I think there were the latest (and cheap) water sandals at the time .... they didn't stay on at all. You could use maybe the turquoise Crocs to get the same effect today.

Music for Friday; Lord Kitchener; Sugar Bum Bum

As summer approaches, time for a calypso classic.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Great movie on wooden IOD's, Knarrs, Folkbots, Bears, .....

EVK4's blog has dug up a classic oldie video featuring some of the great wooden classes of San Francisco. Beautifully created by Golden Waldear Productions

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

15 Minutes of Fame; I'm up to 1 minute 20 seconds

As far as I'm aware, photographs of me sailing have only made it onto the pages of sailing magazines twice. Both times I have been capsizing to windward. I headlined the monthly Dr. Crash feature in Sailing World several years ago. The photo was taken back in the days when I was sailing/swimming on my International Canoe.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quetzal Boatbuilding Follow On

We've been following a YouTube series on building a kit Quetzal . This is part 3 in the series.

The builder seems to be unduly obsessing about using glass instead of filleted epoxy to bond bulkheads to the hull. My experience is that glass joins are always the strongest and least prone to failure of the two.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I ran into a Y Flyer sailor! From Ohio!

One thing I've noticed as I've aged.... there is that one particular class you sailed as a youngster (probably either crewing with Dad and then branching out, or even learning to sail, as in an El Toro pram), that one sailboat class of your youth has put a hammerlock on you for the rest of your life. Many return to that class and continue racing in it, becoming the wizened veteran competitor. Some of us move on to other boats. Still, we hold those memories; those sweet, sweet memories of a carefree summer of our youth and of glorious regattas in days gone by.

The Y Flyer scow is that sailboat class for me. I ran into Naval Academy midshipman Josh (skipper of the Academy's Farr 53 "TomCat") who it turns out, sailed Y Flyers on Chippewa Lake, Ohio. I sailed Y Flyers on Berlin Lake, about an hours drive away and though our time in Y Flyers is separated by more than 30 years, when two sailors share the love of the same sailboat, the stories come flowing out.

Josh's Dad and other fleet members from Chippewa have been building wooden Y Flyers. The Y Flyer class has been mostly fiberglass, even back in the ancient past when I was sailing (Bob Turner built a wood Y back in my era, we ran in the same crowd in Annapolis in our twenties, but today our paths cross every once in a Blue Moon).

The Y Flyer is a great scow class. I'll devote another post to wax lyrical about the boat (I know, I know, all small boat sailors can pontificate endlessly about the virtues of their particular class ..... but this is my blog.)

Many sailors on the East Coast have no clue what a Y Flyer looks like so I've lifted some pictures from El Fraser over at his Y Flyer blog. Click on the pic for a larger image.

Also, this somewhat humorous YouTube gives good top down view of a Y Flyer (inadvertently).

Music for Friday; Mr. Hadley Castille, Cajun Fiddle Music

One of the beauty of YouTube is the numerous videos of spontaneous jam sessions, in all flavors of music. Here we have Mr. Hadley Castille and his grandaughter in a Cajun fiddle duet.... Cajun and zydeco being one of my favorite music genres.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Laser Atlantic Coast; Tip of the Hat to Hugh Elliot

The Laser Atlantic Coast Champs had judges there mainly to dampen the Laser sailors enthusiasm for rock and roll. That said, Senior Judge Hugh Elliot was a great asset to the race management team, especially when we put our foot wrong procedurally once or twice. Hugh is one who can quote the entire rule book but also has the great knack on gently guiding you where necessary. Thanks again, Hugh!

The Zen of DaySailing

Remember when you learned to sail and just puttering around the bay was fun enough. Tired of all this high stress dinghy racing? Maybe this couple in an FJ can put you in the right frame of mind.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sailmaking; String Sails, Doyle New Zealand

North 3DL technology is the name identified with molded sails using precisely laid fiber orientation. Unfortunately they haven't put anything up on YouTube. So we have a YouTube of Doyle Sails NZ competing technology, Statis 002, making "string sails". In a warehouse huge gantries lay down high modulus fiber and a massive infared computer contolled heating platen activates the glue and melts mylar sheets. String sails don't apply much to the dinghy sailor who is still using woven Dacron, but fascinating nevertheless.

There is nothing to be seen of the traditional sailmaker with the palm and thread. I like the high five the two workers give to each other at 1:55 into the video after the huge heating contraption finishes a run without setting the place on fire.

Laser Atlantic Coast; BFD; Black Flag Disqualified

Most sane RC folk would quickly make themselves scarce when the opportunity to run a major Laser regatta comes knocking. To put it bluntly, the anarchic reputation of the Laser class on the starting line is fearsome, enough to cow most RC Primary Race Officers into avoidance.

So how did I jump in; I didn't .... not exactly. Good friend Mike Waters PRO requested I do Vice Chair and I agreed .... we work well together as a team, though it's been some time, as I was off as a member of another sailing club for 20 years and just recently rejoined SSA.

I haven't had to resort to the Black Flag in any of the regattas I've run previously. I certainly considered that using the black flag in the Laser ACC a real possibility, but Mike was willing to go with a regular sequence at the beginning. After three horrendous starts (20 seconds to go .... can anyone see the pin?) the Black flag came out and it was like the regular teacher just came back after a day of the substitute teacher filling in. The fleet behaved wonderfully and we got two races off in a light 5 knots.

Sunday, we again tried to be Mister Nice Guy and run a regular sequence, which the fleet rubbed in our face big time. Black flag came out but with some more breeze, even the Black flag couldn't control the fleet. The problem was the final punch up to the line. The fleet was controlled at 10 seconds; just the one or two clueless competitors who insisted on lollygagging right on the line with a minute to go, but at the final push, the sheet in and accelerate would push about 1/3 of the fleet over. Being a dinghy sailor, I know you've got to stay with those around you; when they go, you go.

So we went into the tedious .... Display the WALL OF SHAME. Out came the white board with the numbers of all those we could identify as being guilty and run another start, with a general recall, with added numbers to the WALL OF SHAME. After three generals, we accumulated 11 numbers. I must say, the competitors, who sailed by to look at the board we're quite jovial about it (say, good fellow, have you seen if I'm on the list to be quillotined today?). The fourth one was a charm (though I must admit, one general we did need to resquare the line and move the leeward start pin as the wind had shifted over this time span

All in all, we did get five good races in. The racers got one drop race. No redress against the RC. Nobody came up and screamed at me in the dinghy park. Good, Very good.

CONFESSION: In the one club Laser race I did last year (borrowed Laser), I got two OCS penalties in four starts. Do as I say, Not as I DO!

Race Committee Again; Laser ACC

I was Vice Chairman of the Race Committee for the Laser Atlantic Coast Championship out of Severn Sailing Association this weekend. For someone who has spent three weekends this spring on RC duty (two with the Naval Academy) you would think I've traded in my dinghy boots for the handbearing compass and wind stick. Not on your life. Let me assure you, I am not that polished on the procedural crap. I'm always desperately thumbing through the rule book to make sure I've got the right flags flying for the job and don't expect me to quote you RRS number xxx verbatim, because I can't. And don't blind side me in the dinghy park with a question on the correct way to shorten a course because you'll get me stuttering and stammering (just get me a rule book!).

I've accumulated a fair bit of experience doing Race Commitee over the years because the clubs I belong require you to volunteer for it. One thing that I've learned is that experience in RC work as well as being a dinghy sailor goes a long way in generally keeping the racers happy. Racers want to race, they want as fair a race as possible and they don't want to sit around if they think they could be racing. Unless you're running the TP52 Worlds, the Finn Gold Cup, the Olympic Trials or equivalent, racers are generally tolerant of teensy-weensy procedural errors (there are vocal exceptions).

Music for Friday; Bob Marley, No Woman No Cry

A little late again. More on what I was up to this weekend.

There's something about this song; the start .... the organ intro followed by the guitar interplay, the organ flattening the song throughout combined with the slow, measured Bob Marley vocals, the female backup singers providing the uplifting chorus, the lyrics that touch us all, and finally the soul of Bob Marley.

Good friends we have, oh, good friends we've lost
Along the way.
In this great future, you can't forget your past;