Friday, October 30, 2009

Look Ma, No Rudder; the ACA Cruising Canoe

In the midst of the Tillerman's "Less is More" writing assignment, it occurred to me that there are some people that race sailboats without parts that most of us consider essential to sailing; like a rudder. This isn't "Less is More", this is "Less is Different", and to point to another one of Tillerman's most recent themes, "Less" that makes sailboat racing very much a more challenging sport.

Classes without rudders are not popular; in most cases they reside in only one place in the world. But sailors still race them.

First up is the ACA Cruising class canoe. This is a sailing canoe that is steered with a paddle, not a rudder. This class was popular post World War II but is now found only at Lake Sebago, just outside New York City.

To steer a canoe with a paddle, the paddle must be leveraged against the leeward side. For the skipper to hold the paddle he must be sitting in the canoe and not hiking, which makes breezy racing somewhat tricky. Since the paddle, leveraged against the leeward gunwhale, is best used in steering the canoe downwind, the canoe must be set up with weather helm (rig moved aft). When pressure on the paddle is released, the canoe naturally turns to weather. You are allowed to take a paddling stroke or two when tacking to get the canoe around. The tricky part seems to be downwind in a breeze, when the paddle can load or unload unexpectedly, resulting in some spectacular broaches.

A picture by Laurie Ford from the 2008 ACA Cruising Canoe Championships at Lake Sebago. In light air, steering with a paddle looks very relaxing.

Laurie Ford's full report (with pictures) of the 2008 Cruising Class Championship can be found here.

Music for Friday; Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks Band

Haven't featured the blues on Music for Friday. Susan belting out the blues, providing some damn fine blues licks and Derek wrapping it up in his own soaring style.

Embedding disabled but the Youtube is over here

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Melges 24 Worlds

The Melges 24 Worlds are in town this week. Organizers were able to co-opt the downtown "Ego Alley" dock area and all 50 odd Melges 24's are tied up in the heart of Annapolis. Very cool, very European.... until you wander down the docks and realize every single one of the Melges is a white hull with black spars. Ugh! As visually appealing as seeing a McDonalds, a Blockbuster, an Exxon gas station, and a Dunkin Donuts all piled next to one another. At least when the Volvo boats pulled into Annapolis several years ago they had some very interesting hull paint jobs. Cake decorator, Cat Evans
(correction Heather Evans... see comment)
, provided some much needed visual creativity to the Melges Worlds. That is some sheet cake! From the tent at City Dock.

Video from the gang at Sailing Anarchy;

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Catamarans, the Olympics, the Swedish Archipelago

The Tornado is out of the Olympics. I don't know of any sailor that doesn't think it's a dumb idea. At the Quindao Olympics, while the Tornado's were handling the breezy and lumpy medal race with aplomb, the 49'ers were doing their version of the Monty Python Twit of the Year Race (he's up, he's down and, although I've sailed in many a breezy race with multiple capsizes, I expected more of the Olympic medal race).

Well here is my suggestion to the Cat crowd. Don't attempt to reenter the Olympic Circus using the old format. You've developed a far more appealing race format; long distance, multi-stage day racing with many stops, in high speed two man cats. We have the Tybee 500 in the U.S and in Europe there is the Swedish Archipelago Raid.

Just imagine a five day marathon catamaran race in the Olympics with multiple stops up and down the host countries coastline. A very appealing sailing competition to capture the attention of the masses.

Here is a YouTube of Day 1 of the 2009 Swedish Archipelago Raid.

P.S Steve Clark had this idea a while back that the Olympic Finn competition should be a one race, 24 hour long marathon. I think a sailing marathon works better with the cats.

Music for Friday; Blitzen Trapper "Furr"

Music for Friday features a guest picker ....... my son up from Charlottesville, VA. He says the following artist fits my oldster, folkster style. Blitzen Trapper sounds early Dylanish.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Less is More.... or Less; Anyway, It Beats Paddling!

At the start of this Tillerman Tempest , whereupon reams of internet verbiage has been spilled on sailing minimalism, I put a teaser out there on my Boy Scout adventure.

It was the annual Troop 855 summer trip, a canoeing trip in the 1960's on Moosehead Lake, Maine. The memory is a little hazy but it was 5 or 6 days, with the first three days island hopping directly in the face of an unrelenting 15-20 knot wind. It was grueling; three boy teams per canoe and no one wanting to be a member of the slacker canoes bringing up the rear. Constant paddling. And at end of the day, the water was so cold that only the one well padded member of the Troop could swim for more than 30 seconds.

When we finally turned around to head back and the stiff winds were now behind, it didn't take long for me to hoist my poncho on a paddle lashed to the middle spreader. Aaah!, our stroke rate was now cut in half, we could relax and take the day in. At our first rest stop we were busily converting two canoes into a catamaran with a double poncho rig when the Scout Master put his foot down. Too dangerous he said and with that we were back to paddling.

Lashing something together on a canoe to catch the wind is not original, I seem to remember that Lewis and Clark expedition did it..... I'm sure the French Voyageurs did it. It is probably the minimum you can get away with and still say you are sailing. Lets go to YouTube where this fellow has added a yardarm. Also, the freeboard up front seems to be pushing it. I don't think I would have this rig up in any more breeze.......

Friday, October 16, 2009

Music for Friday: Dante Bucci

In searching for steel drum music, I came across this fellow playing a hang (pronounced hung) drum. Similar in sound to the steel drum, yet different.

Dante Bucci - Fanfare from Dante Bucci on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Less is More; The Sunfish...... Not!

Having taken a whack at the Laser class as not minimalist enough, why stop there?... why not take on the Sunfish class?

(Sir, have you lost your marbles? There cannot be found a more simpler sailing craft; easy to raise and lower lateen rig with no battens, no vang, no traveller ....... surely there isn't a less complicated sailing craft in existence!)

Well there was and it turned out to be the parent; the Sailfish.

The Sailfish, introduced by Alex Bryan and Cortlandt Heyniger (Alcort) in 1945, proved popular as a wooden kit boat. It was 11' 7" long, 2' 7" wide, had a flat deck with grab rails to keep the skipper from sliding out of the boat. It had the trademark simple lateen rig. You can surf over the Wikipedia Sailfish page here .

In 1951, the Sunfish was designed by Alcort. Compared to the Sailfish, the Sunfish had;

  • more length - 13' 9"
  • more beam - 4'1"
  • more freeboard
  • more weight
  • and added a nice little cockpit

The Sailfish, popular in it's day, was discontinued in 1975.

The Sunfish today remains one of the most popular and enduring of singlehander designs.

More really is ...........MORE!

(If you think this is absurdly convoluted logic as an anti-argument to Tillerman's writing assignment, I stand guilty as charged.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Less is More; The Laser......Not!

With Tillerman, all paths lead ultimately to the Laser class. So, when Tillerman, introduced his writing assignment, Less is More, it was obvious to me that the Tillerman would eventually post on how the Laser class sailboat fits "Less is More". Hmmm! Let's see if we can poke some holes in this.

The design brief that Bruce Kirby received from Ian Bruce for what eventually became the Laser was for a recreational craft that urban Canadians could take up to their cottages and day sail on the myriad of Northern lakes that dot Canada. It was to be an updated Sunfish, using a hull developed from Bruce Kirby's International 14 designs, a simple Marconi rig on slotted alunimum tubes, very simple controls using stock and often plastic fittings. It was truly about the minimum you could get away with in a small sailing dinghy using a conventional rig. The original name of the class was Weekender, to reflect it's recreational emphasis. it quickly became apparent that the Laser was a very quick and exciting racing dinghy.... and there became the rub.

So as of today, what MORE do you need to add to the Laser to race it properly;

  • Laser Vang upgrade $278 USD
  • Cunningham and Lines upgrade $298 USD
  • Clew Sleeve $49.5 USD
  • Carbon Low Profile Tiller $200 USD
  • Carbon Tiller Extension $105 USD

For a grand total of $936.51 of MORE stuff to race this craft.

Mind you, any experienced Laser racer will tell you all this stuff makes the Laser easier to sail and more enjoyable to race. So this MORE is good but it is not LESS.

Oh, don't forget the following when you buy a Laser;

  • Dolly $580 USD
  • Padded Hiking Straps $28 USD
  • Hiking Pants $129 USD

And maybe a compass $300 USD, Dry Suit $700 ..................

Less is More; Not!

The latest Tillerman writing project is about minimalism in sailing. A rather futile project as none of us have sailed what I consider a truly minimalist craft; a hollowed out log with a tarp rigged over a branch (as a Boy Scout, I did rig up a poncho on a paddle during a canoe trip.... until I was thoroughly chastised by the Scout Master.....but another story). Most of us enjoy our sailing at some level of complication so we really are guilty of accretion. As other bloggers have pointed out, more.... is really more. Nevertheless, this writing assignment is worthy of several posts so a tip of the hat to Tillerman.

P.S - To his credit, Tillerman actually backtracked from pure minimalism when he posted in one of his comments the Frank Lloyd Wright quote, "Less is only more where more is no good."

Beer; Wolavers "Will Stevens" Pumpkin Ale

I'm usually not a big fan of pumpkin beers but Wolavers Pumpkin Ale has a nice head and a just right blend of ale and pumpkin taste. The one seasonal beer I've taken a liking to this year.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Annapolis Sailboat Show

I'm a small boat sailor, and a cheap one at that. I allot about 4 hours to poke around the Annapolis sailboat show and unless a friend prods me, I avoid stepping onto any type of cruising boat. This year, as usual, there wasn't a whole lot for the small boat sailor. Laser Performance (buyers of Vanguard) were represented by surrogate dealer APS. They had their passel of British designed dinghies they are trying to flog onto the American market (names like Vago, and Bahia, and such .... but I must admit I like the smaller Jo Richards Pico and Bug dinghies). Surprisingly they left their two very popular American dinghies, the Sunfish and the V15, out of the show. I didn't see their SB3 keeler at the show either; they were great guns for getting the SB3 going in America last year. To the amusement of the friends I was with, I climbed into the Optimist sized Bug dinghy for a test sail. No wind but I was impressed with how stable this little dinghy is; I leaned hard on the leeward gunwhale and it didn't give up much in the way of a lean. The Bug, being stable, also meant it was somewhat stuck in light air (it has some very big hull strakes that don't help). Still, this is a small dinghy that won't scare the beginner and should be sailable in big breeze (one of the best strengths of the Optimist in my mind!).

Because the in-the-water sailboats were off in numbers, two of the so-called tall ships were berthed on the outer docks ....... The "Pride of Baltimore II" and the pilot schooner, "Virginia". Two of the crew of the "Pride of Baltimore II" were busy varnishing the transom and re-painting the name. I asked the one doing the varnishing what varnish "The Pride" uses ....... it's Epiphanes.

Small wooden boats are one of my soft spots and for some reason, the builder of the Adirondack Guide Boats had a booth in this show (a very rare occurrence indeed). He has a beautiful wood version for around 14K, a cheaper glass version with chines (didn't ask the price) and also offers a wood kit for 3.5K. It seems he sells to a fair number of celebrities ..... he rattled off several names that I have promptly forgotten. For some reason I got a free DVD (maybe I asked the right questions) which I'll get around to viewing one of these days.

Just beyond the Laser Performance booth was the small sport boat row. Two American production versions of the Mini-Transat, a Juan K small day racer that looked like a Mini Transat with no accomodations, a Viper and the new Melges 20 (cost of the Melges 20.... 41K base...... 47K with sails and some covers). If you want to get the thrill of a Laser offwind and spend a whole lot more money, I reckon one of these choices would fit the bill.

US Naval Academy's Womens Fall Regatta

Last weekend saw me volunteering for the USNA Womens Regatta. I was on the start boat and boy, do you fire off a lot of starts; 36 just on Saturday. Collegiate RC is barebones; use the Ollie for time and signals, fly an orange start flag from the start boat, fly the Individual Recall flag when needed, use a loud hailer often. Because you are under a time constraint to get races off, you may wait for one or two races to confirm the median wind has shifted before moving marks. It is fast paced for an RC.

Just how good and how practiced these collegiate sailors are was driven home to me on Saturday afternoon when the wind dropped to about 10-14. With probably hundreds of starts already under their belts this season, these sailors know exactly where the line is. With under ten seconds to go the entire fleet was luffing on the line, at five seconds to go, bow down to get some speed, at 1.5 seconds punch up to the line. In the 10-14 knot wind range, the punch up is very synchronized, the entire fleet ends up about 1 foot over the line at the gun; this happens so fast and is so even that, of course, we let these starts go. Starts in more wind were not as synchronized; control becomes an issue, ditto with light air where the acceleration is not there. The awareness of where the line is and control of these dinghies is Very Impressive!

Chris of Sailgroove was there, filming .

I had two daughters that participated in collegiate athletics; I've witnessed how tough women can be in sport but this toughness continually amazes me. On Sunday, I noticed one of the Laser Radial sailors sailing around pre-start with one foot, wrapped in a tight lace up bandage, elevated on deck. I asked my compatriot, Midshipman Taylor, if she had injured it on Saturday and he said no, she injured it before the regatta even started!

Lets go to the videotape. Sailgroove interview of Caroline Wright.

Oops! the embed function went away on this video. Video can be viewed here

Let's dominate the 20 breeze! Tip of the hat to Caroline.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Classic Moth Nats; Second Video from Amy Parker

Weather mark rounding on Sunday; #79 and #2000 were 1, 2 in the fast Gen 2 class. #55 and #112 were 1, 2 in the Vintage class which, at this weather mark, rounded ahead of the supposedly faster Gen 1 Mothboats (#30 being the first Gen 1 round in this video). Merv Wescoat, the oldest competitor (80 something?), in 115 is knocking on the door at the front of the fleet. I like the "good ole boy" radio banter in the background. (I love Elizabeth City... let me tell you about their barbecue .... a special flavor not to be found anywhere North....mmm...mmm!) Thanks again to Amy Parker

Music for Friday; Emma Deigman covers Lady Gaga

Two superb artists just sitting on the floor, belting out a song, no sound technicians, no swirly lights, no audience..........

Emma Deigman from the UK

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another Boat Nut (and Good Friend)

My good friend, Fran DeFaymoreau came down from Long Island two weekends ago for a visit. Fran is another long-in-the-tooth International Canoe sailor and at Sugar Island Fran brought his latest brainstorm, an older Chrysler MFG Sidewinder he picked up for $100 or so. Fran's idea is to put a canoe stern on this boat, a sliding seat and make it into an older gents EZY canoe. For Sugar, all Fran had the time to do was plop an International Canoe rig into the Sidewinder. He quickly found out the Sidewinder leaked like a sieve and the jury rigged IC sail plan was just this side of pulling something out and falling overboard. Fran is an excellent boat builder and given time, he'll have a working concept.

I have two pics of his drifter sail in his Sidewinder/IC at Sugar Island.

More on the Classic Moth Nationals

Your humble blogmeister finished 6th. My starts and first beats were OK. I was just slow offwind in the light stuff, usually losing at least two boats on the reaches and maybe another one or two on the run. The light stuff has never been my forte in my Tweezer. If I reworked ice hockey's plus/minus statistic for sailboat racing, where for every boat you passed during the regatta you'd get a plus 1 and, conversely, for every boat that passed you, you'd get a minus 1, I figured I'd be at a minus 28 for this regatta.... Ouch! Oh well, when you're racing Classic Moths, at the end of the day, it's all good.

Mike Parson's been knocking at the top spot for a while now. He's won everything in the Mid-Atlantic this year and was the deserved winner of the 2009 Nationals. My travel partner, John Z, finished second, up from third last year. Joe Bousquet , Moth foiler blogger extraordinaire finished third.

In the Gen1 class for slower hulls; Lewis Hay was first, Frickie Marschink second and Gary Gowans third in a Sidewinder design.

In the Vintage class, Randall Swan in a Connecticut won, George Albaugh second in a Dorr-Willy, and Walt Collins third in Ara-Too.

Merv Wescoat took the Founders trophy as the oldest competitor (and one of the flashiest, sailing his Maser in Florida Gators colors).

Here is some video of on shore action at the Nationals;

Top ten results table;

Skipper Races Hull Design
Mike Parsons 1,2,1,[3],1,2,1 Mistral
John Zseleczky 3,3,3,1,3,[4],2 Mod Mistral
Joe Bousquet [8],4,2,5,2,1,4 Shelly 3
Rod Koch 2,[5],4,4,4,3,3 Mousetrap
Mark Saunders 4,1,[OCS],6,5,8,6 Mistral
Rod Mincher 5,6,[OCS],2,7,6,10 Tweezer
Ken Wilius 6,8,6,[12],6,7,5 Mousetrap
Matthew Swan 7,7,5,11,[DNC],5,7 Skol
Lewis Hay 9,12,7,8,8,[12],8 Europe
Frickie Martschink 10,[14],14,7,11,9,9 Mint

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Music for Friday; Gogol Bordello

I like the accordion. I like bands with an accordion. As an old fart, I am also mesmerized by an absurd, over the top, band (with an accordion) that is beloved by a young and obviously smashed audience. A mystery for only the young. Still, this is fun to watch. Enter Gogol Bordello....

Staying Alive; How much should the RC do?

A post over at Tillerman's blog highlighted a man overboard incident at the recent Star North Americans.

The incident in a nutshell;

  • Elderly Star skipper, way at the back of the fleet, falls out of the Star in a broach.
  • His crew cannot sail the Star back to him and the skipper in the water has an inoperable inflatable life jacket.
  • The skipper in the water is close to going under when the skipper of a nearby dismasted Star swims over towing a spare life jacket and keeps the man afloat until the Canadian Olympic support RIB shows up.
Tillerman's post has the link to the original post and the subsequent discussion. Most of the discussion centers around the

  • skippers culpability; he's too old to be out there, he's wearing a life preserver that was clearly inadequate.
  • the response when the crew's VHF distress call was picked up at the club (but not picked up by the RC).
Well folks, when you are organizing the race committee, let's just shitcan the personal responsibility argument. Yes, in a perfect world, all or us are wearing life preservers that work and our boats are immaculately prepared to handle 25 knots of wind and we are all in superb sailing shape but the reality is that all of us at one time or the other have got into trouble on the water; sometimes it is a fine line between getting out of it on our own or needing assistance .... many times sailors out on the race course are inexperienced, over confident, over their heads. Bottom line, if as RC you had to rely on an outside boater to perform a rescue, then you have had a failure as an RC, a bigger failure than not setting the starting line properly or flying the wrong flags.

My questions to Cedar Point YC;

You had two Stars in distress in the same area; one flailing around with one sailor and another dismasted and, as the story's been told, a Cedar Point YC crash boat never made it to the site. A fellow competitor and a coach boat had to perform the rescure.

  • Did Cedar Point YC have crash boats for the Star North Americans?
  • If they did, were they tied up with other rescues? Meaning was there inadequate rescue resources for the number of boats racing?
  • Were there any Cedar Point RC personnel watching the race course and keeping track of the distressed Stars?
  • Why did the Cedar Point RC need to be alerted by VHF radio from the home club about the incident?

These are the most important questions the RC need to address.

Unfortunately, in the U.S. crash boats are usually an afterthought in RC planning and are usually manned by the most inexperienced volunteers.