Friday, April 30, 2010

Back to the Future.... a little late

King Tillerman has another blogwriting assignment.... what will the future of saling look llke in 2025 or thereabouts. One disadvantage of getting around to the topic very, very late in the cycle is that most everyone else has covered what I wanted to say.... but I'll say it again anyway. First a little history.

My brush with the original Windurfer crowd.

Back in 1974, when I had long hair, when sunburn was a good thing, and when I also had the vim and vigor of a dinghy sailor in his early twenty's, I crewed in the International 14 Nationals, held at Association Island on Lake Ontario. For those old enough to remember, Association Island was the national sailing center of the USYRU (now US Sailing) for about 4 years in the 1970's. Many major regattas in the 1970's were held out of this rather primitive camp grounds. As we were winding up the International 14 Nationals, what class was filtering in for their first World Championship but the nascent Windsurfer. Already, the sailing media had anointed this odd looking sailing contraption, this surfboard with a sail, as the sailing craft of the future. I was excited to see first hand what this phenomenon was all about. My skipper, Eric Arens, and I happened to sit down with Windsurfer wunderkind, Matt Schweitzer (son of Hoyle Schweitzer, one of the inventors of the sport) at breakfast. Matt, thirteen years of age, blond mop of hair, Californian surfer dude through and through. We eagerly plied the Windsurfer champion with questions..... Are tactics different with a Windsurfer?.....What about the rules? Each question was met with a cheerful admission that he knew nothing about tactics, windshifts or rules, it was just fun to go fast and, somewhere during the race, he found himself in front. And the other favorite to win the Worlds, Robbie Naish, was another, even younger, surfer dude clone! We walked away from breakfast chuckling and also shaking our heads. Was this where the sport of sailboat racing was going?

Well, thirty plus years on, the windsurfer has evolved, not as a course racing machine, but a wonderful sailing machine in a different realm........

Mark, Matt and Scott from Mark Erickson on Vimeo.

And the most popular racing dinghies and scows of the 1970's are for the most part, the most popular racing dinghies and scows of 2010. The rigs are tweaked, the hulls are stiffer, they may have adopted an assymetric spinnaker, but most of us are racing dinghies/scows as we were racing in 1970.

So we have continuity and innovation. Where do I see the trends in small boat sailing by 2025...

Multihulls will become even more popular. At my old club, West River SC, A-cats, Nacra 20's and F-16's now make up a sizeable portion of the racing fleets. Stability, speed, and the fun factor are all working in the multihulls favor.

And for those of us well into Geezerdom by 2025 and still wanting to bash around in small boats, I see an increase in popularity of those kayak/trimaran hybrids....the ones you sit in and steer with your feet, like the Hobie Adventure Island kayak.....

Some of the Baby Boom Geezers will spend retiremnet building boats and attending small boat festivals such as the Mid Atlantic Small Craft Festival in St. Michaels MD. I expect these festivals to increase in popularity.

I have also been famously wrong in many of my predictions.

Music for Fridays; Major Lazer "Keep it Going Louder"

Another music video.... On whose recommendation? I'll hang this one on my daughter Robyn. Very odd distorted visuals, big butts, smashed faces, humongous lips, women driving motorcycles, stars and stripes something wear... big guts... let it all hang out..ALL HANG OUT, synthesized dance music.....whats not to like!

Major Lazer - "Keep It Goin' Louder" from Downtown Music on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


As I was experiencing it, this past weekend didn't feel all that noteworthy. There was definitely more socializing than sailing. But now from midweek, reflecting on the weekend doings, I am struck at how the diversity in my boating friends mirrors many of the philosophical underpinnings to this blog.

On Friday evening, I day sailed my Classic Moth out of SSA. Driving over the Route 50 bridge I knew the wind on the Severn River was from the West. At the club, there was a light easterly wind, a 180 degree switch between the Chesapeake Bay and the Severn River. This sounds odd but isn't as rare as one would think. I launched and opted to try the Severn River, hoping for more wind strength. Off the Naval Academy, I had to endure a large windless hole where the two opposing breezes fought each other. However, once past, there was a pleasant 5 knots upwind to Manresa and then back again. On spring weekdays, there are a myriad of high school teams running their short course practice sessions, even upriver where the Severn School practices in the shadow of the Route 50 bridge. A very pleasant day sail.

On Saturday daytime, I cut the lawn but in the evening I was invited to a party of the Annapolis Section of the Carbon Makers Society (actually some International Canoe buddy's from yore who still race these challenging beasts but also get their jollies by designing and building lightweight carbon racing dinghies.... Bill Beaver, John Kells, George Saunders, and Gui with special guest Bob Ames). Well, I don't race International Canoes anymore, nor foiler Moths, nor do I build Carbon boats, but I get a pass since I've known most of these guys for over 20 years. As you can guess, the conversation is technical, engineering technical, naval architecture technical....... these guys love analyzing how to make sailing dinghies fast and light. But nowadays the conversation can't spiral too far into the nitty gritty of laminate schedules or daggerboard planforms as everyone (excepting "moi" and Bob Ames) are raising young families. Three year olds, seven year olds running hither and yon, sometimes with dangerous sticks, sometimes crying after spilling off the swing, sometimes hovering on their parents lap. Ah! the memories.... but I don't want to go back.

On Sunday morning, Bob Blomquist gave me a call about his adventures at the Cortez Small Boat Meet, held mid April at the North end of Sarasota Bay. Bob hauled his Bolger Light Schooner "Scoona" down to the meet and regaled me with stories of the sailing race around the island with the winner ringing a bell on a sandbar and his adventures in Ted Weihe's Flying Scot in big breeze on Sarasota Bay. You get Bob and I wound up and we can tell some sea stories, chuckling through all of them. You can see photos of the Cortez Small Craft meet here.

On Sunday late afternoon, I attended a theater party (my wife is very much involved with the Annapolis Colonial Players). Not to worry. This being Annapolis there are always sailors. I had an interesting conversation with Dick Whaley about the Sabre 28 he once owned and another conversation with Rolph Townshend, longtime Alberg 30 sailor and master model maker (he is currently scratch building a model of the "Pride of Baltimore"). He urged me to go see the recently reopened Naval Academy museum which he rates as one of the finest naval history museums going. I've been through it many years ago but with Rolph's superlatives ringing in my ears I've just added it to my immediate "to do" list (when I have a free afternoon).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Music for Fridays; Frank Fairfield; "Rye Whiskey"

You wouldn't know it by my "Music for Fridays" selections, but my IPOD has a large chunk devoted to bluegrass. I know, I know, bluegrass is an acquired taste, not a favorite of the masses. This week it's time to placate the blogmeister and feature a great old timey rendition of "Rye Whiskey" by Frank Fairfield.

Loading Working Sailboats; Haiti Style

How you transport vehicles to the Island of Lagonav, off of Haiti. The loading crew almost launched this Toyota over the side! Has anyone run a stability calculation with wheels gunwhale to gunwhale?

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Classic Moth design, Le dessein Moth Classique

I've retired Tweezer, my beautiful Gen2 Classic Moth. She's gone back to Bill Boyle, one of her original build team. It's tough to let go of a boat you designed, built and then raced since 2004...... but it's time.

I designed Tweezer with flatter rocker and a potential higher speed without realizing that most Classic Moth racing on the East Coast is shorter course, with lighter air, large shifts and variations in wind speed. Tweezer did fine in a breeze, winning a regatta now and then but always struggled when the wind was down. Part of it was wetted surface, part of it was some of the extra volume up front that seemed to plow when going offwind. Tweezer was also slightly heavy which I could have attacked by redecking her, but she was too beautiful for that.

Tweezer hull lines;

And my!!!... was she a beautiful little sailing craft. Strip planked out of Atlantic Cedar, both hull and side decks. I'm not known as Mr. Maintenance, but with Tweezer I kept the varnish up. Every time I went on a road trip, I would get someone wandering over at a gas station, rest stop, supermarket to admire and talk boats. They may have just finished some wood kayaks, own some oddball catamaran, or crew on a tall ship, but Tweezer attracted boat nuts of all persuasions to come over and chat.

I'm proud of the design. Tweezer was remarkably vice free, would tack like a dream and kept the bow up reasonably well when going downwind in breeze and waves. As a narrow waterline design she had her quirks and could dump you for inattention, but thats what a Gen 2 Classic Moth is all about.

No regrets at all about the Tweezer project. All great memories in the designing building and sailing of the Tweezer. Again, I would like to offer up my thanks to Bill Boyle and George Albaugh who ensured that Tweezer got built.

Andy Slavinskas did some beautiful 3D CAD rendering of the Tweezer lines. His perspectives are shown below.

Here is the YouTube video of her build;

Friday, April 16, 2010

Music for Fridays; Harlem Shakes "Sunlight"

"Sunlight" - Harlem Shakes from Matt Nishi-Broach on Vimeo.

I had a coat of many colors
Sold it off online
And now I duck my older brothers
'neath a longleaf pine
Well I did what I thought I was supposed to do
All I sang so close to true
Now they wanna know what really means the most to you
Means the most to you

Sunlight, sunlight baby
We just let go of the night now slowly and we
We won't dance, we won't sing, we won't talk
We just gonna watch how it bends [x2]

I had a coat of many colors
Sold it off online
Now I'm just a laymen pagan
In a young man's grind
Well I did what I thought I was supposed to do
All I sang so close to true
Now I wanna be the one that means the most to you
Means the most to you

Long live sunday seekers
Slack-jawed by the speakers
Long live pro-am pagans, tonight

Sunlight, sunlight baby
We just let go of the night now slowly
We won't dance, we won't sing, we won't talk
We just gonna watch how it bends

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I have friends of mine that enjoy crawling through boatyards looking at boats, all types, from derelict ferro cement hulks to the latest IRC racers. I wouldn't put myself as one of those compulsive boatyard wanderers, though I have a great deal of fun when I've been dragged along. Take a tour of a boatyard with boat nuts like Tom Price, Fran DeFaymoreau, et al, and you will be regaled with stories about this Hunter 37, or that Albion 27 or that non descript 20 footer with 6 inches of growth on the bottom. And then there are the boat owners, usually willing to pause in the midst of refinishing the teak, to tell us who designed and built their odd looking center cockpit, flush decked, cutter rigged 45 footer.

And among boatyards, there is one sub type of boatyard where surprises seem to be stashed in every corner. This is a boatyard in the city. My experiences in Grants Boatyard of City Island, NY will await another post but here is an interesting video of the Goat Yard in Detroit.

Second Sail of 2010

I trundled my Classic Moth off to Severn Sailing Assoc for a sail this past Sunday. I'm with Tillerman on how much fun you can have just day sailing your dinghy. Sunday was a nice 8-10 knots out of the South with warm temps for April. Hiking out upwind, main fully powered up but not ragging, some small surfs downwind. Absolutely delightful.

In 2009, some of my best days on the water were day sails out of SSA. The Classic Moth is not a recognized class at SSA so I have to pick the off weekends which are usually major holidays (Memorial Day, July 4). I had a great time on July 4 of 2009 going up and back between two government marks with three Lasers in a shifty 10-15 Northwesterly.

This past Sunday, I did capsize once when I was running too hard by the lee and gybed accidentally. I actually got clocked by the boom on my eyebrow (have a little shiner there, not really noticeable). Luckily, pieces (i.e boom) of a Classic Moth are light. Yes, water was still a little chilly while I was swimming around the hull, but I was moving as fast as I could to get her upright. I've got to remember that the wind shifts off Back Creek in a Southerly.

Sailing just to be sailing...............

Saturday, April 10, 2010

L'Hydroptere and the Crazy Frenchmen

Let's face it; in the realm of big, super fast, crazy assed yachts the French rule supreme. From the large tris and cats to the Open 60 monohulls, there is no other country pushing the wind/water boundaries as much as the French.

As is well known, the French have set a worlds speed record with the very large foiler, L'Hydroptere..

Frankly, you couldn't pay me enough to sail on this rocket. I would be paralyzed just thinking, "What if we crash? What if we crash?". Thats a lot of big pieces going over 50 miles/hr. .

A really great video short on the story thus far, including some footage of their spectacular crashes. I gather a new one is to be on the water this summer..

2012 - l'Hydroptère - The epic in 9 minutes - toute l'aventure en 9 minutes chrono ! from l'Hydroptère (officiel) on Vimeo.

Music for Fridays; KT Tunstall "Hold On"

I like the energy in this song.

KT Tunstall - Hold On from Artists Den on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Classic Mothist at Heart

From Sailgroove, a video of Ken Legler, head coach of Tufts University, and his nonconformist approach to intercollegiate sailing. None of the standard Flying Junior's or Collegiate 420's for Ken and the Tufts Sailing Team. Seems that Ken is wired like a Classic Mothist. Welcome to the club Ken!

Visit for more Videos

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Music for Fridays; Fredde La Grande; "Put Your Hands Up For Detroit

I've been reading that Detroit is considering razing about 1/4 of the city and returning it back to semi-rural vegetable gardens and such. Problem is the city services can't be stretched out to the abandoned areas of the city. Neat idea if they can pull it off.

This song is about Detroit but the video has nothing.... nada about Detroit. However, it is an interesting mash up of old burlesque clips. Maybe a commentary on faded glory?

Put Your Hands Up For Detroit from SmacKaySmith on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oopsy Daisy

It's been some time since I've had an Oops! sailing video. This one is particularly well done. From New Zealand, it features the two NZ only junior classes, the P class and the Starling, and also the NZ skiff, the R-class. The Laser and the Sunburst class also make cameo appearances.

Another Tweaked Classic Moth Sail

Scott Sandell, who has been concocting different sail plans for his fleet of Europe dinghy's on Long Island Sound, has been working on the next generation Europe dinghy power plant over the winter. He sends along a picture of the first test sail. (Click on picture for higher resolution.)

Scott writes that initial on the water testing shows the new rig needs to be sheeted further out than the second generation mylar sail.

I asked Scott for some more pictures of the construction but Scott says his immediate priority is to disassemble the temporary structure he erected to construct the rig. The mayor of Sag Harbor says the structure must be off Main Street by mid April. Merchants on Main St are complaining of losing customers because of the lack of parking and soon, summer tourists will be swarming Sag Harbor.