Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Water Playground called Hawaii; Paddling Racing and Canoe Surfing

Since Joe over at the blog Horses Mouth has taken a two week break, I'm going to take advantage of his absence and tread partially in his territory, that being surfing videos. This video does feature some surfing but, it is not a surfing video. No wizards on surfboards here. This video features the Hawaiian outrigger canoe; both the paddling and sailing type. There are two parts; the first part about the training and then the competition in an ocean race by the LiveStrong team, paddling a 6 man outrigger canoe (Hawaii's state team sport is outrigger canoe paddling), the second part of the video features sailing and paddling outrigger canoes playing in the surf zone.

Absolutely fascinating..........

molo sail and canoe surf from Anders Carlson on Vimeo.

Music is "All You Deliver" Jose Gonzalez; "Storm" Jose Gonzalez.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Music Whenever: Rockin' Sydney "My Toot Toot"

This video ain't much, the lyrics ain't much...... but the music, ah, the music.....you just can't beat some toe tapping zydeco.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Finn Followup

I'm a sucker for sailing videos where Olympic sailing team members, at the top of their game, make very difficult sailing maneuvers look easy. I posted a video not long ago featuring a 49er tacking duel.

Here's a video of a gybe mark of a very breezy race of the 2009 Finn Gold Cup with the two leaders nonchalantly gybing (Finns have very long booms that love to dig into the briny and upset the whole program with any slight misstep from the skipper).

Just a walk in the park (yeah, right!)............

DC-10 dinghy

Some of you may have noticed that I've been switching up my header photo. The current photo gracing the header of this blog is of a DC-10 sailing dinghy sailing at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival at St. Michaels.

The same lady owner of the DC-10 has shown up every year I've attended and I've been very impressed with the DC-10 design as a very capable small singlehander for almost anybody. Although the DC-10 was designed specifically to be home built, the DC-10 hasn't achieved any great level of popularity. I have read that it is used as a frostbite dinghy out of Falmouth Massachusetts.

Messing About in Boats magazine wrote about the DC-10 in a 1993 issue, back when I subscribed to MAIB and other boating and sailing mags (I don't subscribe to magazines now because I'm a pack rat and my wife is much happier, and life becomes easier, when I don't leave little piles of magazines in every room of the house). Articles in MAIB cast a wide ranging net over the boating scene and I recommend looking into subscribing if your interest in boating is similarly broad brush.

The one page article on the DC-10 as excerpted from the January 15, 1993 issue of Messing About in Boats...................

The address of the designer, Douglas Cooper, listed in the article is probably not correct and I'm not sure if plans are still offered. I will do some research on the designer

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another Big Guy Singlehander; The Finn Dinghy

On one of my posts about the Big Guy singlehander, "Noodle" intimated in a comment that I was ignoring the Finn dinghy; the Finn dinghy being the most popular of the big guy singlehanders. How can you argue when 283 Finns showed up for the 2011 Worlds Master Championship in Punta Ala Italy!

That being said, how are these oldsters with their creaky knees and aching backs able to get under such a low boom. I owned and raced a Finn (a glass Newport that had a wood deck..... Rob Andre did the conversion) for a short while when I was in my 20's. On my first sail, my elbow got a right smart whack when I left it too high in a jibe. On tacks, you really did have to fold yourself on the floor to get under the boom. After finishing down the fleet at the U.S Nationals in Sayville NY, I realized that I was too small for the boat and, quite frankly, the Laser seemed more lively offwind.

But, there is not a better singlehander in light air than the Finn. The large cockpit makes for pleasant light air lounging compared to the contortions of the poor Laser sailor draped over the daggerboard trunk. The large sail area and finer hull shape means the Finn doesn't need much air to tramp along quite nicely in soft breezes. The Finn would be my top choice if I was just day sailing on a lake in light air (I would have to keep the Finn on the beach for the Finn is not a light dinghy to launch and retrieve). The question is, can you find one?.... demand is such that there are not too many used Finns popping up.

Here's a great video of the Geezer Finn fleet racing out of Encinal YC, California, tucked up into Oakland Inner Harbor and well away from the big breezes of San Francisco Bay. They all seem quite enamored of the Finn and not at all fazed over dealing with such a low boom..........

Northern California Finn Club Regatta at EYC from Moon Rabbit Studios on Vimeo.

Monday, August 22, 2011

International Canoe; Let's go to the Video Tape

Time to wrap up the International Canoe posts for a while with a video of a German sailing an older International Canoe. In fact, this IC looks suspiciously identical to the King Ferry glass hull/wood deck IC's that Steve Clark was building in 1981 and the IC "No Eyes" I raced in the 1980's.

This video gives the viewer the true sense that, once you get out on the sliding seat, there's nothing static about sailing these craft.

Couple of things to point out;

  1. The dangly rope led to the outboard end of the sliding seat is the jib sheet. It allows the jib to be adjusted while you're hiking at the end of the seat.
  2. The German owner hikes the IC the same way I used to hike, wrapping my ankles and shins around the bottom edge of the sliding seat. Most IC sailors don't do that, they hike off a hiking strap that spans the middle of the seat from one end to the other.
  3. He's got a very funky mainsheet arrangement. Most mainsheets just attach to the back end of the seat carriage with a cleat on the back or the forward beam of the seat carriage.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

1981 International Canoe Worlds; The Epilogue

What other memories do I carry from the 81 International Canoe Worlds?
  1. I've done three other regattas where the housing, food, and dinghy park were based out of one site (excluding Sugar Island Week, where everyone is stuck on the island for a week). Today, it's not common to do that for regattas (except, like Sugar Island, camp regattas seem to be getting popular, which uses the same concept of throwing everyone together after racing). Having everything at Tabor Academy was good. Since most of us were on a steep learning curve, shared experiences across nationalities took on even more meaning.
  2. I had a one year old infant at home that was an early riser. Keeping my morning routine, around 6:30 am I'd be up in the dim beginnings of daylight, sauntering among the different International Canoes scattered about the dinghy park. Just me and one of the Germans, who, very punctually, would hoist his sails with at least 3 1/2 hours before he had to launch. There's still something about racing dinghies waiting in the half morning light that I find very picturesque.
  3. I developed later in the week, a physical affliction known only to sliding seat sailors; severe abrasions on each butt cheek from sliding in and out (several International Canoe sailors from that era slyly referenced such malady in the names of the IC's, i.e "Sticky Buns" and "Rosie Cheeks"). Mid week a lot of us were walking bow legged like cowboys. I thought I had enough padding but as I was to find out later, any movement whatsoever of the piece of clothing or wet suit that was layered next to your butt would act like sandpaper. The physical hurt ratcheted up so, that come Thursday, I was desperate enough (and I alone) to come up with the solution of taping up my butt cheeks with duct tape. It worked well enough for Thursdays racing but when I decided to remove them after the racing, the real pain began. I had no idea how many little tiny hairs you have on your butt. And with duct tape, there is no quick rip it off. Picture Steve Carrell's chest hair removal (movie '40 Year Old Virgin') in very, very, slow, slow motion.
  4. I roomed with a young English sailor (I think Adrian was his name), who would attack his IC with a saw, hammer and nails every evening after sailing. On measurement day, Adrian found out his IC was considerably overweight. After determining that the previous owner had squirreled away lead weights in the hull (ostensibly to prevent nosediving), Adrian proceeded to cut huge square holes in the deck. He found the weights and then closed up the holes by nailing some scrap plywood he found laying around the dorms. He had seat carriage problems which he fixed by nailing some large 2X4's to the carriage. In all my time racing dinghies, I have never seen someone destroy in a week, what had been a very pretty cold molded International Canoe.
Finally a picture of a youngish Tweezerman standing (probably because it was too painful to sit) in the Tabor Academy dinghy park alongside his first IC "No Eyes". Thirty years ago, the sailing kit appears prehistoric!

Friday, August 19, 2011

1981 International Canoe Worlds; The Racing

The racing for the 1981 International Canoe Worlds at Marion was breezy as expected but the famed Buzzard Bay seabreeze only made a late appearance for one race; we spent most of the week in good Northerly breeze courtesy of a strong cold front; a rare weather occurrence for the U.S East Coast in August.

The regatta was fought between the four Swedes and Steve Clark, the rest of us were nowhere close in boatspeed or boathandling. For me, tacking was a 40/60 proposition in the breeze, it being very easy to stall these craft head to wind and then end up going backward.

The drill for tacking an International Canoe goes sort of like this (everyone has their different techniques).

  1. Ease main while scooting back into the boat.
  2. Get both feet aft of the seat.
  3. Blow the jib sheet.
  4. Helm over and at about the same time, grab sliding seat and give it a good heave to get it from the old side to the new side.
  5. Cross to the new side (some cross on their knees, some walk around the end of the boom),
  6. Hopefully you've got the bow around enough on the new tack to sheet the jib on the new side. (A partial sheet will do).
  7. Here the decision tree branches out a little. Any indecision will see you get blown over. If you haven't got the seat far enough out on the new side, you need to heave it out and quick. If you have got the seat out far enough to land on, land your body on it hard, hopefully butt first but many times I've done a belly flop.
  8. Simultaneously (or as near to it as you can accomplish), finish extending the seat while you're sliding out to the end, sheet the jib in and sheet the main in.
  9. And you're off (unless you got it wrong, in which case you may be going backward, or capsized on the old tack, or maybe capsized on the new tack, or maybe you stepped off the boat, or maybe the seat is still stuck on the old side, or maybe the tiller extension has ended up under the boat trapped in front of the rudder, or.......)
There were thirty boats at the regatta from five countries; US, Canada, England, Sweden, Germany. I ended up smack dab in the middle in fifteenth. I made it into the top ten twice with two eighth places but by the end of the week I was exhausted. I made a hard landing coming in from Thursday races and bent my rudder shaft. I did my best at straightening it out but I sailed my worst race on the last day. Since I had already racked up a DNF as my drop race, adding a 22 didn't help my overall score.

But it was a great regatta and I was going to spend the next fifteen years of my life trying to learn how to tack these beasts (and gybing them in a breeze was no picnic either).

Oh! I did have one fleeting moment of glory in the regatta. I wrote about it for the U.S Canoesletter.

From the April 1985 issue of the Canoesletter

"In the second race of the 81 Worlds at Marion three canoe neophytes, the author, Tim Prince and Martin Herbert went the ‘wrong way’ (according to local knowledge) on the first beat to round the weather mark 1,2,3. Heady stuff and, with soon to be world champion, Swede Max Tollvist, in fourth place, this trio of North Americans fought like demons to hold their positions down the next two reaches. The first beat had been the lightest of the series, a 5-8 knot southerly, but as we approached the leeward mark the famed Marion seabreeze had started to kick in at 15-20 knots. Tim and Martin had sneaked past your author leaving me to round in third, one boat length ahead of Max. I resolved to sail as fast as my limited canoe experience would allow and not bother worrying about Max (for the Swede had already proved devastatingly quick in a breeze). Around the leeward mark I hardened up on port tack, attention riveted on snaking up and over the waves, the senses devoted to keeping US 163 flat and driving; sailing totally absorbed, sailing with blinders on. Two minutes passed wrapped in this hyper-concentration. It was time to check on my competition. I quickly stole a glance over my aft shoulder. No Max? Had he capsized? Not that I could see. I rotated my torso forward and peered upwind. Shock and despair! Max was 50 yards upwind and going twice as fast. My first hard lesson on the distance an International Canoe planing upwind could put to an International Canoe that, in relative terms, was only mushing along.

As it turned out there were 30 of us mushers at the Worlds and only five (the four Swedes and Steve Clark) who had mastered the art of upwind planing in an International Canoe. It was not surprising the North Americans were so deficient. Most of us were lucky if we had six months of tiller time on the International Canoe."

Photographer Gail Scott Sleeman just happened to capture Tweezerman (US 163) on film whilst leading the second race. Here, I'm still holding the lead but being chased hard down the first reach by two other International Canoe neophytes at that regatta, Tim Prince (US 160) and Canadian Martin Herbert (KC 11)

Another Gail Scott Sleeman photo showing Tweezerman launching off the starting line.

The World Championship title came down to the last race. Steve Clark was battling the two top Swedes, Max Tollvist and Olle Bergqvist. Steve ended up tied for second with Olle but lost the tie breaker. A photo of Steve (looks like he's coming into the launch beach) from staff photographer Ren Elliot, scanned from a yellowed article in the local newspaper, Sippican Sentinel.

Two other scanned photos of the launching beach off Tabor Academy, again from Ren Elliot of the Sippican Sentinel newspaper. Tweezerman is getting ready to shove off in the background of the first photo.

And another one from Ren Elliot of the Sippican Sentinal; Swede Olle Bergqvist (2nd overall) on his way out to the race course.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thirty Years Ago: 1981 International Canoe Worlds; The Prelude

Thirty years ago, this very week, I raced in the International Canoe Worlds in Marion Massachusetts (Buzzards Bay). Organized by Steve Clark, it was the first International Canoe Worlds held in the U.S. I had been racing the International Canoe for about six months, definitely a greenhorn in these very tricky craft, and I arrived with no great expectations. Setting up the International Canoe at Tabor Academy (the dinghy park, the dorm housing, and the meals were completely run out of this school), I was gratefully surprised to find that most of the fleet was new to the International Canoe as well.

In the fall of 1980, Steve Clark had very generously given me one of his production International Canoes as a Chesapeake Bay fleet starter boat. Steve had started building composite (glass hull/wood deck) International Canoes in a converted grocery store in a sleepy upstate New York hamlet on the eastern shore of Lake Cayuga, a town named King Ferry, a town with one crossroad and four buildings staking out the four corners. Steve had picked up a used Manana design International Canoe in the mid 70's, and had become completely smitten with the speed, the twitchiness, the feel of the International Canoe as a racing dinghy. Steve had found the U.S International Canoe class (or the decked sailing canoe as the old timers would say) in a sorry state, had been for years. Moribund, geriatric, and insular, the American-style International Canoe was only raced out of Grants Boat Yard in City Island. To change that, on a true believers mission, Steve had set out to find some converts.

Like a true Johnny Appleseed, Steve had decided to seed his modern English-style "King Ferry" International Canoes around to the major yachting centers of the U.S, putting them into the hands of those who had backgrounds in tippy dinghies. I became a seedling, Del Olsen and Scott Young of San Francisco became West Coast seedlings. And these seedlings were now arriving at Tabor Academy for a World Championship, along with the British, Germans, Canadians, and Swedish.

The pre-regatta form book certainly had the Swedes and Steve Clark as favorites, they at least had several years experience and Steve, coming out of nowhere, had given the Swedes a major fright when he competed on their home waters in the 1978 World Championship. The English International Canoe fleet had seen a recent influx of top ranked International Moth sailors, Colin Brown, Chris Edwards, and Chris Eyre. But they were all new to the International Canoe and, though certainly used to sailing tippy boats, an unknown quantity.

As far as the American newcomers; we had raced a couple of drifter regattas on the East Coast that summer; we were expecting the Buzzards Bay Southerly Buster, we were expecting to be hammered and upside down quite a bit, we were young and ready for the challenge. The battle to come would be not so much against competitors but against this strange, narrow, wonderfully fast sailing dinghy with a sliding seat.

Hats off to a great tinkerer; George C. Devol

I devote a lot of space on this blog to the sailors who love to tinker with their boats. Small potatoes in the great scheme of things, especially when you read the obituary in the Washington Post today of George C. Devol, the tinkerer who invented the robotic arm. From the Post;

George C. Devol, 99, a self-taught tinkerer whose invention of the robotic arm revolutionized factories around the world, died...... Aug 11 at his home in Wilton, Conn.

Mr. Devol said that his limited formal education never held him back. "I always went into areas of industry where nobody else knew anything either.....There was nowhere to go to get information, so I generated it"

"How can we afford to let a country as big as this go down the drain in manufacturing capability?" he said in a 1984 interview with the Miami Herald.

The full story in the Washington Post can be viewed online at Washingtonpost.com

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thirty Years Ago: Three Championships

Thirty years ago, starting August 15th, I sailed three World Championships, in two dinghy classes, in the space of five weeks. It was a simpler era, of simpler sailing dinghies, of amateurs that trained mostly by competing on weekends, and, if you just went out sailing, there was no training regimen, you were just out there for fun. Looking back now, that mid-August to mid-September, I was probably at the peak of my sailboat racing prowess; I was sailing fit, I had been hammering away at dinghy racing for the better part of ten years prior in various dinghies. Make no mistake, I'm not World Champion caliber; not mentally tough enough, not obsessively focused, my ego not wrapped around my performance on the race course. But I was good enough to steal a race here and there, to put up a series podium finish every so often.

Changes were afoot; I'd been married four years, I had a one year old son and my wife, the saint she has always been, was 7 1/2 months pregnant with twins. My footloose sailing lifestyle was about to wrap up for family and some sort of career. But then and now there still remains those three championships of 1981, August through September, racing with a band of brothers, both teammates and competitors, memories still strong to this very day.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Music Whenever; Horace Henderson and His Orchestra "Smooth Sailing"

This one kills two birds with one stone; a couple chillin on a Snark sail on a lake (it's been a while since I've featured the mighty eleven foot, expanded polystyrene Snark in a post) accompanied with a nice Swing tune from Horace Henderson in the background..........(warning for young children; scary creature in the black and white segue!)

Followup to Mystery International Canoe on Severn River Bridge

Update to my spotting a a new generation lime green International Canoe stuck in traffic on the Severn River Bridge .........
The owner/designer/builder of that mystery IC, grey-haired, oldster Chris Maas won the International Canoe Worlds at Travemunde Germany held late July. And Chris also anchored the US team (with teammates and youngsters, David and Willy Clark) in winning back the New York Cup (first competed for in 1887) over the English team. The New York Cup competition is a semi team race; three vs three but the winner of the race is determined by the first one to cross the line. In the New York Cup, if you have a particularly fast canoe sailor you can spring to the front, it's game over. Dave and Willy were able to spring Chris to win the first two races (best out of three races) and the cup comes back to the U.S (Australia were the previous holders).

Pictures of various IC's sailing at the Worlds can be viewd over at Chris Hampe's Flickr account .

Nostalgia of an Old Athlete - "Men Playing Basketball"

My favorite poem about old athletes and nostalgia, the significance of which will be revealed in upcoming posts. (I actually suck at basketball.)

"Boys rise up in old men, wings begin to sprout at their backs."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Oh! Wood Butcher, Slopper of Glass, What is the Answer?

One of the ironies of life is that I, the one who does not let craftsmanship nor beauty get in the way of working on boats (the gorgeous Tweezer was an aberration, due mostly to the efforts of Bill Boyle and George Albaugh..... I wanted to paint that Moth, to hell with all that pretty Atlantic cedar) it is I who seem to be asked my opinion on how to fix boats. I think that people assume that since I've built boats, I must know what I'm doing...Hah!

Last Friday, I wandered down to SSA and ran into Ali Meller, who for a good twenty years or so was Mr. 505 of North America (now he races road bikes and does quite well I'm told). Ali was helping a son and dad rig a newly purchased used 505 and I recognized it immediately as a Lindsay (the spruce rolled seat tanks were the give away). Ali confirmed my guess (in life's quest, knowing the lineage of a 505 may not seem much, but I'll take that little nugget as evidence of a superior intellect) and Ali elaborated further into the history of this particular 505. This 505 was one of twelve of the original batch of Lindsay 505's, where Mark built the wood interiors into a English Parker glass hull, circa late 1970's. We had a good laugh as that would only be knowledge that old fart dinghy sailors would know.

When the son started listing the problems of this older 505 (hey, all old boats have problems), he seemed particularly worried about the ply delaminating on the underside of the deck between the shroud bulkhead and the forward bulkhead. I didn't see a problem... if you can't see it, no problem. but then Ali asked me how I would fix it. How I would fix it??? Hmmmm! Hmmmm! (Try to look confident here.)

"Oh, Just turn the boat upside down, drill some holes, take a syringe and squirt epoxy between the delaminated veneer and the good plywood, take some bricks to force the delaminated veneer in contact with the good ply. Should be good to go. You do have some syringes don't you?" Delivered with surety, I didn't want to explain further, so I begged my leave to continue on my tour of the dinghy park.

It was only getting into my car, that I realized I wouldn't have fixed it that way, I would have cut the delaminated ply away with a razor knife, thrown it away and glassed over it with 4oz. fiberglass. A true half-assed Tweezerman repair.

Here is a top down picture of a later model Lindsay 505. This one has mahogany veneer rolled seat tanks instead of spruce. The used Lindsay I was looking at on the SSA dinghy park also had the foredeck painted, probably because the aircraft plywood, after 30 some years, was getting grungy (it was, after all, delaminating underneath).

And here is a 505 punching off the leeward end of line during SSA's weekday TESOD series.........

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Music Whenever; Bellowhead "New York Girls"

A rollicking sea chantey presented in an full arrangement using strings, brass, reeds, mandolin and a good ole squeeze box.

New York Girls, Songlines version from edward cooper on Vimeo.

The more astute among my readers may have noticed my original post didn't have a band name for this group. Well, Doryman to the rescue! In an oblique hint, he posted another great traditional folk video by the group Bellowhead on his blog. Thanks for the update.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Another onboard video; 49'er training

With the quick acceptance of the waterproof, mountable, compact video cameras (Go Pro and the like), there are a whole slew of onboard dinghy sailing videos popping up on YouTube. Most of them are very boring. Each week, there seems to be an average of two of three onboard videos of Lasers and their skippers taken from the same angle, bow aft, the camera strapped to the bow fairlead..... Yawn!

There are exceptions. This entertaining video of 49'er skiffs training off Clearwater Florida uses a mix of masthead shots, helmet cam shots and video taken from a chase boat. Watching a tacking duel between two 49'ers, with the elite athletes going wire to wire, is mesmerizing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Three Rivers Race at Ludham Bridge

I haven't done a post about river sailing recently. The Three Rivers Race on the Norfolk Broads is always a good one to watch. With this video you get a true sense on what a zoo this race can be. I assume the course has the competitors reaching Ludham Bridge, turning around and retracing their course. So you have these Classic Norfolk Broads cruisers running, and beating, and tacking, and avoiding clueless motoboaters, all in a very narrow body of water. The spectators are having a jolly good time taking all this in, laughing, offering up polite clapping when the boats make their turn and then adding some very vocal razzing onto the head of the motorboat mucking the racers up.

Three Rivers Race near Ludham Bridge River Ant Norfolk UK from dee moore on Vimeo.