Tuesday, November 29, 2011

1981 International 14 Team Races and World Championships

Almost three months ago, I wrote about the three major championships I sailed thirty years ago in August/September 1981. I wrote three posts about the 1981 International Canoe Championships that took place in August of that year but, again, in a bout of procrastination, I have yet to mention the other two championships.

In mid September, 1981, on consecutive weeks, I raced in both, the International 14 Team Races and, the International 14 Worlds out of Annapolis. I teamed with Bill Moss on his Kirby IV.

For many years leading up to 1981, the International 14 class had considered the Team Racing Championship as the defacto World Championship (oddly enough there was no perpetual trophy) but, by 1981, changes were afoot. The class had held it's first World Championship in Alamitos Bay, California in 1979. The 1981 Worlds was to be the second World Championship for the class and there was a strong movement to move the class towards amalgamating the rule with the Australian 14 class.

However, in 1981, the International Team Racing Championship was still THE prestigious event in the class, even though it was basically a three country, English speaking affair (the U.S having a West Coast and East Coast team to make it a four team round robin with England and Canada). The East Coast had never won the International Team Racing Championship but in 1981, with the event in home town Annapolis and having the reigning 1979 World Champion, John Gallagher, the East Coast team looked poised to compete for the top spot.

And we did eventually win the Team Racing Championship, but it was a difficult road as every one of us on the East Coast Team had a race where we totally screwed the pooch; for me it was one of the races against the West Coast where I tried to sneak inside at a mark without an overlap and got shut out by Baird Bardason. Extremely mad at my stupidity, I withdrew and crossed my fingers that we could pull this race out with only three boats....and we did. It seemed race after race, one of us would step up to save the team's bacon. It was an extremely hard fought series against the Canadians, there were a couple of protests that went our way but, in the end, we prevailed. The first and only East Coast team to win the International Team Race series.

Mug shot of the 1981 East Coast International 14 Team after one of the races......

From Left to Right; Chris Price, Eric Arens, Bill Moss, Tom Price, Paul Weiss, John Gallagher, David Gallagher, Rod Mincher

The World Championship the next week started with three days of a hard 20-25 mph Northwester blow. It wasn't if you were going to capsize, it was when you were going to capsize. I remember a hard reach right on the edge of control when the rudder stalled out and stayed stalled. The rudder was turned, there was a nice rooster tail but no control. "Hang on!", I yelled at Bill, "No rudder!" right before the 14 headed up and rolled over. The breeze moderated toward the end of the week.... Bill and I had a couple of good races to finish mid teens which wasn't too different from where I ended up at the International Canoe Worlds a month earlier.

Below is a photo from Annapolis rag, "The Evening Capitol". Crew were on the English team; Alan Fitzgerald and Nick Burgin.

From an email from English team member, Andy Fitzgerald.....
"Yes it's me and my crew Nick Burgin (who went on to sail a FD successfully with Roger Yeoman before pulling out before the Seoul Olympics, to be replaced by another 14 sailor Neil Mcdonald of round the world fame)........It was still in my mind the windiest race ever - we all hid in the lee of the supertanker and the race really started there. My introduction to the cut and thrust of team racing, not to mention the Canadians who were getting on top of their game."

John Evans, member of the English team, added this comment which I've dragged over to the main post.
"Yes, indeed , it was a memorable event in 1981 - as we not only had 25+knots wind for one days racing in the Worlds, but also an Annapolis "Buster" with hail, rain and thunder one evening - it stopped the Naval Academy Band from practising, which was a relief! I won the windy day race, and did quite well overall.....Bob and Peggy Reeves hosted us. Andy Fitzgerald raced with a guy called Nick Burgin...my crew was called Pete Barr, who knew all Baird Bardason daughters really well!"

Alan Laflin emailed his recollections;

"Eric A and I have owned 2 14s together since the 97 Worlds and raced it in the Totally Dinghy regatta in September. We're both 72 (me next week) and we won the Century Cup in England in 2008. First non Brits and the oldest combined age ever. The 1981 picture in front of the Naval Academy was just after we won the first race of the Worlds and went downhill after that. I think we were 2nd in the US Nationals part of the Regatta."

Eric Arens emailed this clarification about the photo below;

"The picture is left to right reversed as you can see in the Naval Academy. I forget the photographer's name, but he lived in Annapolis; and he reversed the picture so that it would fit on the fold-out cover of Sailing World's predecessor magazine.

Your note on the team races is very good in stating that each of us really messed up at some time or other. I got disqualified before the start of one race when I was on port tack. I still do not know how little room a boat tacking to port has to give a starboard tacker so that the starboard tacker cannot change course and bear down on the port tacker."

And Mark Adams added a comment which I've dragged over to the main post;

"I think the b/w picture is indeed of Andy Fitzgerald from the UK. I used to run into him in England on business and we would always talk about the windy day of the Worlds. We managed to make it 3 miles or so downwind in 30, then hung out in the lee of an anchored tanker while the RC set the course. We both agreed that it was the windiest day of racing we'd ever had in a dinghy. And I'm from San Francisco and he's from windy ole England. Oh and the photographer's name who took that pic of me and Chris, Alan and Jim was Bob Dollard if I recall correctly."

On the picture below, West Coasties, Alan Laflin and crew Jim Anderson (foreground) with Mark Adams and Chris Benedict (3rd in the Worlds) to weather, beating back to SSA after the days races. Photo from Sailing World.

And this article from "The Evening Capitol" fills out who made it to podium finishes.......

The following email is about some of the shenanigans that took place at the informal Team Race party. I missed the good bits because of a very pregnant wife. (I've tried to keep the players somewhat anonymous.)

"The relay race on the big lawn at Tom Price's house that resulted in Ed.... from Canada and me having to run against each other because the Canadians kept the $1 entry fee from each country and wouldn't pay up to the East Coast when we (East Coast) had won. Since the course included chugging a beer and stripping down to nothing at the far end of the lawn before returning, the opportunity was realized and taken to remove my clothes. Anyway, in the confusion we did not get the money. But justice was served, although years later. About the year 2000 I was at an airport in British Columbia getting ready to get onto a helicopter to go to a lodge in the mountains to back county ski for a week when I heard a call "Eric......" I looked over and saw Ed.... and immediately said "You owe me $10." He bought a round of drinks at the lodge, but the rest of the East Coast never did get rewarded for winning."

Music Whenever: Quelqu'un and Lorenzo "Lay Lady Lay"

I like this cover of the Bob Dylan tune. Never heard of the duo though.

And I like the weirdness; the trailer park, the bikes and the band jam emerging from the coverlet.

(The NSFW cover photo has nothing to do with the video, just a simple hook to let our animal desires move that finger over the mouse to click the play button.)

LayLadyLay from Patrice De Bruyne on Vimeo.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Laser Heavy Air Slalom

I tweak on the "The Kirby Sailboat formerly known as The Laser" class every so often, but you can't knock the world class quality of these dinghy sailors. The Laser Slalom was a big deal in the 70's but stopped as a competition after about five years. I remember 30 years ago, they set a Laser Slalom up in Annapolis.... there was some breeze and my attempts to master the close set marks, particularly gybing, was very ragged to say the least.

Thankfully someone resurrected the Laser Heavy Air Slalom this year in San Francisco and this great video captures some of the highlights and lowlights (like the almost total submarining about 39 seconds into the video).

Laser Heavy Air Slalom from Tj Stacy on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Header Photo: 2010 Cooper River Fall

Classic Moths on the hard with "The Kirby Sailboat formerly known as the Laser" fleet racing in the background.

Racing on the Gorge

A neat compendium of video shorts of dinghy and foiler racing on the Columbia Gorge. (There's even an old fart handling the Laser downwind with aplomb.)

Sail the Gorge! from Bill Symes on Vimeo.

And going back in the Earwigoagin archives are two videos of the insane Laser Long Distance Race in the Gorge. Click over here and over here .

Skate Sail in Saskatchewan

Holy Moly Batman, someone already has ice in North America.! But not much wind!

Slow-time Skate Sail from Village Rainbows on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why a Classic Moth is Better than a Laser

Upon writing a post about Cooper River 2011, I was reminded that I had yet to write a post that I had intended for last year. The post was supposed to be in response to an incident at Cooper River 2010 (as I have mentioned before, this blog is all about timeliness!).

Last year at Cooper River, just before launching my Classic Moth for the day, I was rounding the corner of the clubhouse when I overheard a conversation between two Laser sailors. Both of them were looking over at our congregation of Classic Moths when one of them said;

"I understand why someone would sail a foiler Moth, but I can't understand why someone would sail one of these", as he nodded his head toward our fleet.

I didn't respond, just smiled to myself and kept going. It wasn't the time or place, I had to get ready for the day on the water. But the gauntlet had been thrown down. It just takes me a while to pick it up.

Tillerman has merrily gone down this path before with several posts on "Reasons why such-and-such class is better", the Sunfish/Laser being a target in his post Ten Reasons Why Sunfish are better than Lasers , and then with the Force Five/Laser with Seven Reasons Why Force Fives are Better than Lasers . (Tillerman even had a tongue-in-cheek, self flagellation post, Seven Reasons to Hate Laser Sailors, but that isn't germane to this post.)

I can come up with five strong reasons why I persist in sailing the Classic Moth and not return to the Laser Borg (though you will find me every once in a while racing a Laser.)

  1. Classic Moths are so much Lighter

  2. Every time I sail a Laser I dread carrying an enormously heavy Board Bag to the boat, wrestling an enormously heavy mast with sail attached into the mast tube, heaving a heavy Laser hull onto a dolly, and staggering backwards up the inclined float with the Laser on dolly. Admittedly this may be my age talking but, in reality, I have the Classic Moth to compare it too. The Classic Moth minimum hull weight is 75 lbs (34 kg), though most of my Classic Moths have weighed closer to 90 lbs (41 kg). This is still 40 lbs (18 kg) lighter than a Laser! My heavier Classic Moth aluminum mast weighs 10 lbs - 4.5kg ( (carbon masts are even less). I think a Laser mast is 18 lbs (8kg). My blades, which are wood, nothing special, feel to be 1/2 the weight of a Lasers. All this lightness of a Classic Moth makes the off the water chores of rigging and moving and loading boats that much more enjoyable than a Laser. And on the water, that lightness of the Classic Moth plays into reason #3 below.

  3. My Classic Moth fits Me

  4. The Laser has a flat deck, great for production but very uncomfortable for hiking. The Laser has a very raked rudder which develops a lot of helm fast with any bit of heel. The Laser now has "improved sail controls" but the cleats are still forward of the daggerboard, which is a long way to reach. The Laser has a marginal bailer which, upwind, still leaves the cockpit full of water in a breeze. With the Classic Moth, I can change all this.... or not. If I don't like a flat deck, I can build a different one, or if I like a flat deck, I can build a flat deck. And so on down the line. For the most part, in a Classic Moth, if I don't like it, I can change it. And fitting the boat to me makes it more enjoyable to sail.

  5. The Classic Moth is more fun to sail

  6. Anytime I get into a Laser, it feels like an aircraft carrier compared to a Classic Moth. The Classic Moth, with it's shorter length and lighter weight is just more lively on the water. I have a rudder which is tuned to be very balanced so it has a great feel upwind. Offwind, with it's lighter weight, the Classic Moth lights up in a breeze. There is no doubt that the Laser is considerably faster than the Classic Moth (except maybe in drifting conditions) but I just enjoy sailing the Classic Moth more. A friend of mine said there were two types of sailboat racers; those that were more interested in hard core racing, the intensity and the competition,and those that were more interested in racing boats that have certain appealing characteristics. Throughout my sailing career, I've straddled those two groups but, as I have aged, my interests have slid over from the hard-core racing into "I race in this class because I appreciate how it sails".

  7. Classic Moths are Cheaper

  8. My Maser I picked up for $500 (no rig) and I have another hull in my collection I picked up for $350. Complete Classic Moths with National Championship speed have been had for under $1000. Used Classic Moths going for more than $3000 are unheard of (but if you want to build your own, you'll probably spend around $3000 when all is said and done). Granted we have no professional builder, so it's a little harder to take your check book out and purchase one, but a little leg work will usually find some Classic Moth that will fit your bill.

  9. The Classic Moth People

  10. You stay with a class because you fit in with the people. The Classic Moth is diverse, the people are diverse. And laid back. Because I did the Laser thing in my twenties and I don't need that kind of intensity year round in my sailboat racing. I get tired of talking about that left shift I missed at the weather mark to drop me behind 25 Lasers. I've been missing those shifts for many years and I just as soon talk about that Vintage 1940's Moth you've restored or that Savannah Wedge design you pulled out of retirement, or your trip to Sweden, or tell me about the latest A-cat developments.

Here's John Z's [Gen II Mistral Mothman] reasons why a Classic Moth is better than a Laser:
"I sail both a Laser and a Mistral Classic Moth and racing the Classic Moth is definitely more fun, mainly because Moths are much lighter so they accelerate more. When you're sailing you feel acceleration more than you feel velocity (F=ma). Classic Moths leap frog down the reach legs so we sail triangles a lot.

"Moths also have more controllable rigs. In 20+ knots I can flatten out the Moth sail, put the traveler down and keep blasting along. In a Laser, Radial included, I'm struggling - at 140 lbs.

"I still enjoy the Laser because we sail all summer at my club on Tuesday nights with 15+ boats on the line every week. We only race Moths five or six times a year and it takes some driving (NJ, NC, FL, MD).

"If you like to putter on boats and don't mind driving you should definitely consider the "more fun" boat ...

Click here to have a look at the various designs of Classic Moth - including some you can build!

Photos of some of my Classic Moths:

My Gen II Energizer (mod Stockholm Sprite -plywood) showing some blue masking tape remaining post-painting.

My Gen II Tweezer (strip planked - own design).

My Gen I Maser (Laser cut-down to fit Classic Moth rule).

Why is a Laser faster than a Classic Moth?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Music Whenever: John Mellencamp "Pink Houses"

Another great tune I file under the genre "Americana" rock.

There's a black man with a black cat
Livin' in a black neighborhood
He's got an interstate runnin' through his front yard
You know he thinks that he's got it so good

And there's a woman in the kitchen
Cleanin' up the evenin' slop
And he looks at her and says
"Hey darlin', I can remember when you could stop a clock"

Oh, but ain't that America for you and me
Ain't that America somethin' to see baby
Ain't that America home of the free
Little pink houses for you and me

There's a young man in a t-shirt
Listenin' to a rockin' rollin' station
He's got greasy hair, greasy smile
He says, "Lord this must be my destination"

'Cause they told me when I was younger
"Boy you're gonna be President"
But just like everything else those old crazy dreams
Just kinda came and went

Oh, but ain't that America for you and me
Ain't that America somethin' to see baby
Ain't that America home of the free
Little pink houses for you and me

Well there's people and more people
What do they know know know
Go to work in some high rise
And vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico, ooh yeah

And there's winners and there's losers
But they ain't no big deal
'Cause the simple man baby pays for the thrills, the bills
The pills that kill

Oh, but ain't that America for you and me
Ain't that America somethin' to see baby
Ain't that America home of the free
Little pink houses for you and me

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cooper River Fall 2011

The more astute among those of you who still read my drivel after all these years; you may have noticed that I haven't been sailing my Classic Moth that much...... and you're right! I last raced my Maser in June and neither my Maser or any of my project Classic Moths have been dipped in water since.... that is until last weekend. My job as a sailmaker for the US Naval Academy went away in July, it was a temporary assignment after all, and I, in trying to navigate what is indeed a difficult job market, I haven't been able to wrap my head around racing my Classic Moths. There have been other distractions as well; a wedding and other temporary work. Well, last weekend I bundled my trusty Maser onto the trailer and made the trip up to Philadelphia with my Mothboater travel mate, John Z. The river provided a nice 5-7 knot, typically fluky breeze, the temps were close to 60 F, the sun was out, not a cloud in the sky, a gorgeous afternoon. We raced 6 short races, I finished 3rd out of 5 and had a blast. After the racing, as is the custom, the Mid-Atlantic Mothboaters spent time sampling weird and wonderful beers, orchestrated by Mike and Barbara Parsons. We had the Dogfish Pangea, a spicy beer with a strong orange taste, Fegleys Imperial Pumpkin, my review of which has been relegated to my Pumpkin Beer post , Samuel Smith Winter Ale with a typical English maltiness and my cheaper but still tasty, Farmhouse Ale Stout. A picture from left to right; George, who is the author of the blog Mid-Atlantic Musings, Mike, a friend of Mike's who only likes watered down lite beer but we still let him join the party, Barbara, who brought out the Imperial Pumpkin Ale, and the blogmeister, still sporting his zinc oxide sun screen. (John Z is behind the camera.) One of the neat things about Cooper River is that it has the feeling of being in a quiet suburban setting but you can see the skyline of Philadelphia poking out above the treeline. Here is the skyline behind the massive rowing center building on Cooper River. In my dotage, I pick my fall days I want to go sailing and you couldn't pick one better than this.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Music Whenever: Tribute "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

From Wikipedia :

In 2004, George Harrison was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" was played in tribute by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Steve Ferrone, Marc Mann, and Dhani Harrison, along with fellow inductee Prince.

Actually this serves two purposes; it allows me to cleverly connect this following music video into the current mess in the Laser class.

In the mid 90's, Prince decided to change his name into a symbol that couldn't be printed. Everyone had to refer to him awkwardly as "the artist formerly known as Prince".

As Tillerman notes, in 2011, Bruce Kirby decided to rename his Laser design to "The Kirby Sailboat". Now everyone should refer to Tillerman's favorite sailboat (again awkwardly) as "the Kirby Sailboat formerly known as the Laser".

Anyway, great music video, particularly when "the artist formerly known as Prince" does his solo at the end.


Update: Baydog has kindly posted another version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (as well as some Bob Dylan) over here . Also, in the comments, Tillerman suggests going to YouTube and watching a live version with George and Eric Clapton done during a 1992 Japanese concert.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kids and Parents and Sailing

A few years ago, Nick Hayes published a book "Saving Sailing; full of suggestions to grow the sport. Tillerman wrote a post about his thoughts on the book over here . One of the suggestions Nick made was that parents should actually go sailing with their kids rather than dropping them off at the club to be herded around the water by some college aged instructors. I think there is some merit in Nick's suggestion, though I am not one that can be held up as an example; I was much more into my singlehanded sailing as my kids were growing up and not so much into taking them out. Understandably my kids went off and found other activities they enjoyed more.

Here are three very different videos with parents/adults sailing with their kid(s).

The first one has a young tyke, somewhat overwhelmed, bombing along close to the water with his parents in a Hobe Tri-Foiler.

Salim goes sailing August 2011 from AaronDavis on Vimeo.

The second video has mom crewing for her two kids, one steering and one tending the jib on an older wooden catamaran (by the look of the crossbeams it may very well be an old Prout Shearwater, but I'm guessing this is Australia so it may be some home grown design). The video ends with what looks like Dad and maybe an older son, double trapezing on a modern skiff type vessel.

Sailing at the richmond river sailing club and rowing sunday 6/11/2011. from Callum on Vimeo.

And for Baydog, who has written about his family sailing on an E-scow , here is a kid steering an E-scow. By his grin from ear to ear, an experience he'll remember the rest of his life. (And plenty of grins and laughter from the old farts too!)

I've got to add this one from a fellow blogger. My2Fish, blogger about Sunfish sailing, music, and Michigan State football , points to his video of sunset sailing on his Sunfish with his oldest son. Beautiful colors in this video.

sunfish sailing with my son from my2fish on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Music Whenever: Bon Iver "Holocene"

Another recommendation from Robyn.

Supposedly Bon Iver fell in love with the beauty of Iceland and I have never seen a better music video in capturing stunning natural wonders. Combine this with Bon Iver's haunting acoustic sound to create something special.

BON IVER "Holocene" from nabil elderkin on Vimeo.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Header Photo; 1888 Topsail Cutter "Elf"

I wrote a post in June about the Elf Classic Yacht Race, a cross-the-Chesapeake Bay Classic Yacht Race. This is the restored 'Elf', off Annapolis Harbor, waiting for her skipper to row out so she can get underway in the race.

Volvo Ocean Race: 2011 Edition

The around the world Volvo Ocean Race starts tomorrow. I think those Volvo guys are absolutely nuts, right up there with those crazies that jump off mountains in those flying squirrel suits and then zoom feet from the rock face. I would be hard pressed to name another endurance event that is as long and draining as the Volvo Ocean Race. American Kenny Read hits the nail on the head with this interview.............