Saturday, December 31, 2011

US Olympic Team Announced

I see the American Olympic Sailing Team for the Weymouth Olympic Games this summer has been announced after the results of the Perth ISAF regatta. (Correction from Tillerman; the US Women's Match Racing team is still to be selected...) All this is somewhat confusing to a old cuss like me who remembers the winner-take-all Olympic Trials being held in the U.S over a one or two week period, but professional sailing moves forward increasingly into their own universe. Anyway, congrats to the winners who will represent the red, white, and blue this summer.

To commemorate our Olympians, I have a medley of videos featuring three Olympic dinghy classes; the 49er, the 470 and the Finn.

First video features the crashes and spills that is the hallmark of sailing a 49er. I also like the Ompah music.......

The second video features the suitably blond, congenial Swedish women's 470 skipper giving a video tour of the 470 dinghy.

Perth 2011 World Championships Live VT from Alex Palmer on Vimeo.

And for our Finn video we feature the air rowing introduced to Finn racing over the last couple of years, as explained by the newly crowned John McEnroe of sailing (English Olympic champion Ben Ainslie who had a dust-up with a photographer at the Perth regatta). I agree with Ben on this one, freeing up the pumping rules for the Finn certainly does make a physical dinghy even more physical - which fits the Olympic ideal.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The models of Bob

I mentioned somewhere back in Earwigoagin that my temporary job as a sailmaker for the Naval Academy went away in July. In the midst of being a somewhat older gent looking for a job in a down economy, my friend Bob Blomquist mentioned he needed someone to drive his extra vehicle down to Sarasota Florida, as he had taken the plunge and retired full time to Florida. Bob is the boatbuilder, Chesapeake 20 sailor, and the sailor I camped out with at the Mid Atlantic Small Craft Festival.

The car delivery was, more or less, a hammer down dash to Florida (with a break at Charlestown SC with Mothist Mark Saunders) and a quick turnaround flight back, but I did get to stay overnight at Bob's new digs. Being a Florida dwelling, Bob's new home is more airy and light filled than his previous house in Baltimore and I got an opportunity to take some pics of the large sailing models Bob has scattered about his living room.

First is the modified Bolger Chebacco daysailor/cruiser that Bob intends to build. (I'm not sure when, as Bob has immediately become a partner in an E-scow and has joined the local Sarasota fleet of hand me down E-scows that race every Wednesday during the Florida winter season.)

Bob's previous racing class was the traditional Chesapeake 20 class out of West River Sailing Club, situated about 18 miles south of Annapolis MD. Bob built his own Chesapeake 20 but, before commencing construction, he did a study model to work out the decking details. The undecked Chesapeake 20 model is shown below. Above the model is a photo of a Whitehall skiff that Bob and Mark Hasslinger built in the early to mid 1980's.

And finally the most mesmerizing one of the lot; a Crotch Island Pinky. Bob didn't build this one. His Chesapeake 20 crew, Jim Reuter found this model in the attic of a house he had just purchased. It was stored next to Howard Chapelle's book "American Small Sailing Craft". The scribbles and calculations of this unknown model maker filled the page where Chapelle documented the Crotch Island Pinky hull shape. Bob added the mast, sails and stand to the still roughly finished hull.

What an absolutely stunning, curvaceous hull this Crotch Island Pinky has. I love all manners and shapes of sailboats but this model arrests my attention anytime I'm in the same room.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Navigating this blog

I've been meaning to write about how to navigate through this blog for a while but a comment from one of my good friends, Bill Parkes (I'm just tweaking on Bill, he really is a good friend) spurred me to finally write this post. Bill commented on my post: "Another Big Guy Singlehander: The Finn Dinghy"

"Rod, You have ignored the Finn.........."
Well, not really. Lets see how to determine how many Finn posts I have done, and other ways to find what you're looking for;

  1. Search Box: With some typing you will find that I have 9 posts referencing the Finn, with 5 of them directly featuring the Finn. How did I do that? Well, Google Blogger utilizes the same Google search engine. "Where is it?", you say. The search box for this blog is on the left of the top menu pane, right above the Title photo.  Type in the word "Finn" in the box, hit enter and wala!, Blogger returns all posts that have the word Finn in them.
  2. Blog Archive: A vast majority of readers visit this blog irregularly. To get an idea of what has been posted since you've been gone, just redirect your gaze over to the right menu pane and "Blog Archive" where Blogger will show you an index of all the posts I've done in the current month. If you want to see an index of the previous months posts, click on the right arrow next to that month to open up that index.
  3.  Labels: Finally, I've tagged all posts into general categories which you'll find under "Labels", lower down on the right hand menu. You will see, surprise! surprise! that I have 39 posts on the "Laser", click on the Laser Label to see all 39 posts. I've tried to keep the Label list from becoming too unwieldy, which is a struggle.
Hmm! Lets play stump Earwigoagin;
  • Search word "Flying Dutchman", aha! no posts found.
  • Search word "Lightning", bunch of posts with maybe three or four related to the American "Lightning" dinghy and several others to the lightning as in "thunder and.....".

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Best Wishes 2011 with the Parade of Lights

End of the year. However you celebrate; Christmas, Hannakahh, Festivus, Kwanzaa, Wiccan, party, party, party, or just a quiet reflection over your favorite beverage; May the joy of the season be with you. To mark this season, here are some pics I took of this years Parade of Lights festival, where owners rig intricate light displays on their craft and then circle around the Annapolis Harbor.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Music Whenever; "White Christmas" Jim Carrey

I like to flex my diaphragm and croon 'White Christmas" around the house (and occasionally around friends I know really well). It's a tune you can really belt out with no shame. I gotta give Jim Carrey credit, his version really resonates with me.......

In a sing-off with Jim Carrey for the worst "White Christmas", I'd win (not only am I terribly off-key, but my voice cracks at the higher ranges). And the following video is a nice movie mashup of "White Christmas"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ian Proctor's Osprey Dinghy

While we are talking about the great English dinghy designer, Ian Proctor, I came across a glorious picture of one of his famous designs, an Osprey dinghy disappearing in waves off Mounts Bay England. The picture was lifted from the Osprey class website. It's so spectacular I had to include it in a post.

The Osprey is a 17 foot two man spinnaker, trapeze dinghy, designed in the 1950's. Definintely a Classic. The history of the class can be found over here.

Len Parker, Earwigoagin's English correspondent based out of Florida, sends the following description of the island and building featured in the background of this photo....

"The island in Mount's Bay near Marazion, west of Penzance..... is thought to have been the site of the ancient island of 'Ictis'. This being the major tin exporting port of the 'Cassiterides' - the tin islands trading with the Phoenicians or Greeks of the eastern Mediterranean from about the 4th Century BC. Dedicated to the Archangel St. Michael, the Mount is approximately 400 metres offshore, and can be reached at low tide by a stone causeway. [See the writings of Diodorus - the Sicilian Greek historian of the 1st Century AD]. Local legend has a more colourful explanation: the Mount was built by, and home to, the giant 'Comoran'. He would come ashore and steal sheep and cows from the mainland and return to the Mount to eat his meal. He was supposedly killed by a local boy, later called Jack - the Giant Killer.

The building on the Mount is actually is a Benedictine Priory built by Bernard of Le Bec, Abbot of Mont St. Michel (Normandy), in 1135. The Priory marks the southernmost part of the St. Michael's Way in Cornwall - A route for pilgrims from Ireland to St. Ives on through St. Uny Lelant to the Mount and thence on to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. It stands 230 feet above sea level and dominates the whole area."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Minisail Scow Revival; Part 2

All of us sailors have sea stories, told and retold like bards of old. Rupert tells his tale of the Minisail scow;
"I bought my first Minisail (actually a Minisprint, with the self draining cockpit and built in sliding seat support) back in the late 1980’s, and sailed her for a while off the coast of Wales in the Irish sea. The waves there come straight in from the Atlantic, and can make for a wild ride. Being washed off the seat, and, if lucky, keeping hold of tiller extension and seat webbing, and clawing oneself back on board again, is an experience I’ll never forget, but the boat needed space and steady winds to be such fun, when I moved away from the coast, she had to go. It was about 10 years later that I bought my next Minisail, this time a yellow decked GRP Monaco design with a wooden bolt-on seat. By now I was sailing at Whitefriars SC, a small lake situated on the Cotswold Water Park, north of Swindon, and I have to admit, I found the boat nice to sail without the seat getting in the way. I was also sailing with the recently formed Classic and Vintage Racing Dinghy Association (CVRDA), who luckily have a very relaxed attitude to GRP boats. Normally I sailed my Firefly, but I took the Minisail to a few meetings. The one that stands out in my memory was a fantastically windy CVRDA National Rally at Roadford Lake in Devon. Upwind, the silly bendy rig, stretchy sail and narrow hull (really should have put the seat on for this event!) made for very hard work, but bear off onto the reach and it all became worth it – spray everywhere, passing much bigger boats as though they were standing still – boating heaven! Shortly after this, I found that I had too many boats, and (in retrospect, foolishly) decided to sell the Minisail. And so another decade passed… Thoughts during the period of non-Minisail ownership often drifted back to the delights of the scow, but I was happy sailing Fireflies, British Moths, Lightning 368’s, Tonics and various other craft. However, browsing through an Internet boat mart in the Autumn of 2010, I spotted a wooden Minisail for sale, for a crazy low price. Well, I had to go and see it, didn’t I? I got there expecting a bit of a wreck, really, and came away with an immaculate Sprite design Minisail. The boat, No. 3446, dates from the early 1970’s. She had been used for a few years, then put in a garage in the early 80’s, and not used since. Apart from a small patch of lifted varnish, the hull was perfect. The sail, however, was a mess. Just a huge stretched Nylon bag. going upwind was impossible, with the sail so stretched. It was too long to even fit on the boom properly! A new, stiffer boom, made from a section of old mast, solved that problem, and an order went in with a local sailmaker, RandJ sails, for a new main. Fittings were replaced by ones which actually worked, but were kept simple, in the style of the original. In the spring of 2011 the new sail arrived, a beautiful red and white striped creation. Suddenly, the boat felt as nice to sail upwind as down. After a few races at Whitefriars, it was time to take her on the road. Llyn Clywedog, in West Wales, is a glorious expanse of water created in 1969 as a reservoir. It is surround by mountains, making the strong winds swirl in interesting ways! The Minisail, with her stable, flat bottomed early planning hull form, turned out to be the ideal boat for the water. As I’d found all those years before, the pain of upwind was worth it for the rush down the reaches, and the adrenaline filled gybes. Compared to strong winds, light wind Minisail sailing is frustrating. The hull has a fair amount of wetted surface, and upwind and on a reach you’ll need to keep the hull heeled to leeward. On the run, Laser style heeling to windward with the boom out beyond 90 degrees seems to be quickest, and is also the most fun. All in all, for a 50 year old design, the Minisail still has a lot to offer. Cheap, fun, fast on a reach and full of novelty value. What more could you want from a boat?"
Rupert tells me to give a tip of the hat to David Argles, who was the true believer and kept the Minisail light going until others discovered the boat.

Two other Minisail pics.........

Minisail Scow Revival; Part 1

It's always heartwarming to see a dinghy class experiencing a modern day revival, particularly when that class is a scow, a type that is one of my favorites. Rupert Whelan is the kingpin in resurrecting the Minisail scow in England and he has sent me some photos and a report. (Boy, do I love it when someone sends post ready material to Earwigoagin!)

The Minisail was Ian Proctor's first scow design, the forerunner to what would be the worlds most popular scow design, his rotomolded Topper scow with over 50,000 built so far. The idea for the Minisail was germinated when Ian observed the Yanks and their first beach boats (probably the lateen rigged Alcort Sailfish) on a trip to the U.S as a reporter for the 1958 America's Cup. (There is a certain symmetry here. The Sailfish would eventually be developed into the more popular Sunfish with over 250,000 boats built. The Minisail would be eventually developed into the more popular Topper with over 50,000 boats).

Here are the Minisail specs from the advertising brochure of Richmond Marine.

Unlike the Americans who love to keep things the same, Ian Proctor and his builders were always tinkering with the Minisail and there were several variations produced. Rupert outlines the history.......

"The Minisail was designed by Ian Proctor in 1959 after a visit to the USA, where he saw the early Alcort beachboats and decided to design one for British waters. The first design was flush decked, round bowed with a slight V bottom. This became the Monaco MkI. These were mainly built in GRP. In order to make home building in wood easier, he designed a flat bottomed version, called a Sprite. This has a square bow with a carry handle built in, so they are easily distinguishable. For more comfortable sailing on flat water, Ian Proctor designed a cockpit version of each design; these became the Monaco and Sprite MkIIs. All this development took place over a short period in the early 1960’s. Whether the boat had a sliding seat, or even wings, was a personal choice, with most of the boats which raced having some sort of sitting out aid. In the early 1970’s an experiment was made with a Monaco hull, making it self draining, and the Minisprint was born. The Minisprint MkII was soon created, which was GRP, self draining, with built in seat support, a pivoting centreboard and a larger section boom with tracked foot, rather than the loose footed sail other Minisails had, in order to control sail shape better. Just before the Minisail faded away, a composite version of the Minisprint was designed, called the Meson but very few were built."
 More information can be found over at the Minisail website.

 And some pictures (click in the picture to start a slideshow, photos courtesy of Karen Collyer)..............

Fleet of four Minisails, all different versions, at the Classic, Vintage Racing Dinghy Nationals. Leftmost is Tom Moore in a home built Minisprint,  Rupert is front and center with his wooden Sprite, blue and white sail is Peter Matthews in a Monaco Mk1 and David Argles in a GRP Minisprint MKII.

Peter Matthews in a flush decked Monaco MKI.......

 Tom Moore in a home finished Minisprint with a sliding seat.......

Part 2 of this post on the Minisail can be found over here .

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ambassadors for Sailing

I've mentioned before that I've been sailing most of my life but, unfortunately, I've never been the best salesman for sailing. Contrast that with the love and passion for sailing that just leaps out in the videos below.

First, Sue Lane, an English Flying Fifteen sailor from Dovestone......

And a wonderfully crazy coot who thought it was a good idea to teach sailing on a farm pond in the mountains of West Virgina.......

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Weird European Regatta Party Traditions

The Europeans seem to have, let me say, somewhat different apres-sailboat racing traditions.

Here we have the Dutch jump up and down, wave around their hands, in a marginally choreographed dance, done to a trumpet piece. Video taken sometime during the Dutch weeklong "Sneekweek", which is a drinking festival with brief intervals of sailboat racing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Header Photo; 1948 Classic Moth Start

The caption to this old timey photo reads as follows;

"Portsmouth Boat Club Annual Regatta, June 12 & 13 1948

"Blondie", left with skipper Dorr Willey, gets off to the lead which brought the first place, W. H. Weatherly III sailing "Lacerta" #567, right is the winner of second place in the Moth Class. Photo by Gene James."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Music Whenever; The Youngers "Heartbreaker"

I like the sound of this mournful country group. They're from somewhere midstate Pennsylvania though I've never come across them further south.

Zen of Daysailing; Canoe Sailing in Hawaii

Another one in a series for those who just like to kick around in sailboats.......

Nalo Sail from DG on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Banque Populaire hammering at the Jules Verne Trophy

The 130 foot maxi trimaran, Banque Populaire, skippered by Loick Peyron, is, at this moment, somewhere in the Southern Ocean near Australia, chasing the Round the World record.

I've featured videos of these amazing craft before. It's always hard to get a gauge on the speed of these monsters but at 45 seconds into the following video, Banque Populaire happens upon a cruising catamaran (probably doing 4 or 5 knots under jib only).

Earwigoagin's European correspondent, Romain, was kind enough to translate the French for us provincial Americans;
"The guy in the French Original Version says that they are doing 33 knots and that the leisure catamaran they overtake does maybe 6"


Video removed from Vimeo.

Header Photos from previous posts

Some blog housekeeping for myself. I wanted to document the header photos I've used in previous posts, before I started labeling them as header photos. For a slideshow, click on the first photo.

A Sandbagger off Annapolis Harbor...........

International Canoes on floating docks, New York Bay, Sugar Island...........

Classic Moth start, Midwinters, Boca Ciega Bay, Gulfport Florida......

Classic Moths on the downwind leg, Boca Ciega Bay, Gulfport Florida.....

Australian Historical 10 foot skiffs rigging on shore.........

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Solo Dinghy vs "The Kirby Sailboat Formerly Known as the Laser"

At least in the United Kingdom there seems to be one other hiking singlehander matching the "Kirby Sailboat Formerly Known as the Laser" step for step. Looking at the Yachts and Yachting Web Site where they have tabulated the numbers attending the UK National Championships averaged over ten years, as well of the individual year by year totals, we see the Solo Dinghy hanging right with the Laser (well, the full rigged Laser version).

10 Year Avg Turnout for UK National Championship; Laser 81, Solo 77
2011 National Championship; Solo 95, Laser 81

And before Tillerman puts up his hand and says yes, but..... yes, I know there are no Solo dinghies in North America, or Denmark, or South Africa, or the Phillipines or......

But, in dinghy mad UK, these are certainly intriguing numbers. Any UK readers of Earwigoagin that want to shed light on how the Solo class, designed by Jack Holt in 1956, is hanging with the Laser? I would be very interested in hearing what the Solo Dinghy is doing right.

I've posted about the Solo Dinghy before; a vintage video here , and an amazing heavy air photo here .

Meanwhile here is a very well done promo video for the Solo dinghy

Rupert Whelan added a comment which directly addressed some of my questions...........

"The Solo (also known as the SoSlow or Slowlo) isn't fast, but gives fantastic close racing. I owned one a few years ago, but it was old and bendy, and I decided I could get a better boat for the money (a Lightning 368, another UK only boat) but the modern version is very stiff, is bomb proof thanks to the highish minimum weight, has a powerful fully batten 8 sqm sail and is raced by many of the top sailors in the country. In light winds it will leave a Laser behind, but once hull length comes into play, the Laser will sail away, especially in waves. As for Lasers and speed, there are plenty of faster singlehanders over here, but none have caught on in the same way as the Laser or Solo, so speed obviously isn't all - we set ourselves boundaries in order to get fair, close racing at a cost we can afford, otherwise we would be over in Namibia with Paul Larsen and his Vestas Sailrocket trying to hit 60 knots..."

Kids and Parents in a Mirror Dinghy

Following along on my "Kids and Parents" series is a family sail in a 10'10" (3.3 meter) Mirror Dinghy. Video is kind of short but the kids seem to enjoy being captain of this vessel. (I like the Muppet sound track, I've got the latest Muppet movie on my movie list but not sure I can convince my wife to go see it.)

Update, July 2020: Well the original video went away. Here is the same videographer, the father skippering, with family crew in Penguin class races (U.S.A class, cat rigged, 3.5 meters, arc bottom).

Bristol Sailing March 2010 from P Collins on Vimeo.

Boat Blunderer, Boat Blunderer

Boat Blunderer, Boat Blunderer, what an amazing alliterative epithet. I wish I had thought of this tongue rolling, word combination to apply to my sailboat racing, but noooo!, a sailor of "The Kirby Sailboat formerly known as the Laser" just posted a video with that title. On one end of the spectrum are all those Type A personalities who read and practice Dennis Connor's dictum "No Excuse to Lose" and on the other end of the spectrum you have the Boat Blunderers, the corner where I now proudly plunk my oldster battle flag.

  1. Get out to the race late? Check.
  2. Rigged the boat wrong? Check.
  3. Manage to capsize at the wrong time? Check.

Watch the video. It'll make you chuckle.