Monday, December 31, 2012

J-Class yachts and the Irony of History

I was watching the following video on the modern J-Class and pondering this irony of history; some of our most colossal, awe-inspiring examples of art, engineering, and beauty have been created by the super-rich. It couldn't be any other way. The masses would never have the wherewithal to accomplish this expensive bigness.

Such is the case of the largest of the racing yachts, the J-class. The class of the super-rich in the 1920's, the class of the America's Cup and the Lipton's and Vanderbilt's, the J-Class flourished up to the Great Depression and, now, with the rise of today's super-rich, this large expensive colossus has taken off again with many new J's under construction in this, the second decade of the third millennium.

My sailing (and social) tastes being more plebian in nature (see the current header photo of the 6-foot Frosty dinghy), I still cannot help to be awed at the size, power and beauty of these behemoths and if I ever get an invite to tour one of these modern J-class, you will see me toss aside my social consciousness for the moment, and, with my mouth agape, and a boyish giddiness I would poke around one of these modern classics, imagining a Charlie Barr, braced to the wheel, wind whipping over the gunwhales, eyes alternatively taking in the sea-state and the massive sails, and a boat and crew, looking forward, going on forever.

John Summers, one of several friends who is conversant in all things to do with sailing history, put this very appropriate quote in a comment (which I have moved to the main post);

As Douglas Phillips-Birt said of that era in "An Eye for a Boat:" "Yachting was as exclusive, as brilliant, as undemocratic as a Florentine palace. Some of the most original and talented minds in several countries devoted themselves to the creation of the yachting fleets. . .Yachting had its roots in wealth, and there is no need to be so fervidly democratic as to condemn it for that reason."

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Header Photo: Pinasse a voile d'Arcachon

As in the previous post on the Monotype d'Arcachon, we remain in the French Bassin d'Arcachon. The header photo for the past month was of the traditional waterman's small workboat of the area, the Pinasse, a narrow double-ended canoe-like craft over twenty feet long carrying an enormous dipping lug sail (the foot is a long as the craft). I have featured the Pinasse in a previous post. (I have spelled it two ways, Pinasse and Pinnasse - it looks like Pinasse may be correct, derived, I assume from Pinnace, which means ships tender.)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Le Monotype d'Arcachon - 100 years

I've mentioned in a previous post that the modern Laser singlehander has turned 40 years old but, under the radar, there are local traditional small sailing craft that are celebrating their centenarys, their origins going back to the beginning of small boat racing. One of these, the French dinghy class Le Monotype d'Arcachon, marked their 100 years in 2012. Designed in 1912 by Joseph Gudeon as a trainer for the Bay of Arcachon, it appears upwards of forty of these 14 foot dinghies survive (see below) and continue to race today. Looking at the numbers on the sails, about 300 were built. These dinghies were solidly built with the weight quoted as 225 kg and used a balanced lug rig. A very pretty sailing dinghy.

A picture I lifted from the Bibout blog.

A French video of the centenary regatta. (As I mentioned before, I'm a typical American monoglot; I am hoping, if the video shares more history on the Monotype, then those with French language skills will share this by adding a comment to this post.)

Update: The fellow who blogs about Laser sailing in Dubai has kindly done a broad translation of the video. I have dragged his comment into the main post.
"Glad to help with the French. The man in in the interview, Mr. Lacoste, has a lovely accent from the southern part of France. He explains that they are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the boats which have a long history in the Arcachon region. The boats today are recent ones - the original ones have all disappeared. About 500 were built and in most cases were kept by a sailing family for use by the children, while the parents sailed a Dragon or other boat. They are made only for recreation - not working boats. Today they have about 40 boats in the association, with about 20 showing up regularly for regattas. They come mainly from the Archacon area, but some from Bordeaux and further away".

Les cent ans des monotypes from televisionbassinarcachon on Vimeo.

I had previously mentioned Le Monotype d'Arcachon, in a post about the Pinasse Voile d'Arcachon, another traditional craft of the bassin du Arcachon.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Music Videos and Beer

I have had a surprising amount of readers who have complained that I've stopped my regular music video feature, "Music for Fridays" (well, two of you have raised your voices). The simple explanation is that I've found other modes of time wasting on the Net rather than watching music videos. For those who enjoy music videos, may I suggest you make regular stops over at My2fish and Baydog, both still have a regular music video post as part of their blogging repertoire. All is not lost as I still have some music videos bookmarked and one never knows what random research and linking will point to other music videos (see below). Don't despair, Earwigoagin will, out of the blue, have a music post.

Another feature that seems to have disappeared from Earwigoagin is the posts about the beer I have been currently drinking. Nope, I haven't stopped sampling beer - by the time I get around to thinking about the beer I've been drinking, I've gotten confused about what and how did it taste. Better to drink and not worry about writing about it. However, here are some of the recent beers that made a decent impression on my taste buds;

  • Smashed Blueberry - by Shipyard - A sweet Scottish ale married with blueberry.
  • Sam Adams Winter Lager - A dark, spiced beer with a malt base which fits my taste.
  • Sam Adams Imperial Stout - A dark, dark, stout with a distinct licorice flavor.

And courtesy of random Net research, the Bonzo Dog Band, just recently featured in this post, a germane music video to beer (and other drinks to imbibe this holiday season).

And a very merry holidays to all of those out in the bloggosphere. (With these craft beers, you just need to slowly sip just one, roll it around the tongue once or twice.)

(With apologies to John Lennon and Yoko Ono.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Shannon One-Design

Saturday morning saw me at West Marine, browsing their magazines (like all cheapskates who digest the content at the local bookstore rather than pony up some cash) and I read an article about the just completed Irish Raid in September with two of the classes comprising some really ancient vintage dinghies (the WaterWags go back to 1887 and the Shannon One-Design to 1922-23). There was a picture in the Classic Yacht magazine of the Shannon One-Design ripping along in 25 knots, a wow-ee photo which looked ripe for some further research, especially since they were designed by Morgan Giles, the go-to designer in the 1920's for the International 14's (before Uffa Fox came along). In doing so I stumbled across a very delightful documentary, put together by Irish TV, of a Irish farmer, Jimmy Furey, building the clinker Shannon One-Designs. Split into three parts on YouTube, of about 9 minutes each, this is a fascinating look at how sailing dinghies were put together at the beginning of the 1900's. Although my craftsmanship tilts more to slathering on thickened epoxy rather than finely shaping a piece of wood, synapsing an expertly guided plane, most of us can well appreciate the craftsmanship on hand shaping a boat (the first mechanical device is a planer that appears at the end of video 2) and chuckle at the down-home wisdom of a taciturn Irish farmer.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Ironing Board

The previous post about Ian Bruce reminds me that the Laser dinghy is now 40 years old (the actual anniversary is somewhat muddled - do we go with the first appearance of the "Weekender" at the TeaCup regatta in Wisconsin in 1970 or with the very successful introduction of the production "Laser" at the New York Boat Show in 1971). Tillerman made an oblique reference to the Laser reaching age 40 in this homage to his forty year love affair with Tillerwoman. The Laser is now so ubiquitous, found in every nook and cranny sailing water throughout the world, it is hard to imagine a world where the Laser was the newcomer.

I remember reading about the new "Weekender" dinghy in ODandOY (for young whippersnappers, this was the One-Design and Offshore Magazine, the forerunner to the now Sailing World magazine, of which Bruce Kirby was the editor and the organizer of the TeaCup regatta.) Although the Laser topped the results, there didn't seem to be much to choose from between the Laser and the other singlehander making it's debut on the national scene; the West Coast designed and built Banshee (based on a Flying Junior hull).

I saw my first Laser the first year they came out, 1971, though the dates, times, chronology and characters have been clouded by the years. It was Septemberish and I, as a Midwestern college student from Miami University of Ohio, who couldn't get enough of dinghy racing, had finagled an invitation to the University of Wisconsin Hoofers Intergalactic Tech Dinghy Championships. And as was common and completely normal for a college student who didn't own a car in those years, I hitchhiked those 400+ miles through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and into Wisconsin (this may have been the trip where I spent the wee-morning hours trying to sleep on the hard seats in the bright lights and elevator music of the Milwaukee Airport - hitchhiking being a very non-linear form of travel - but this may have been on another hitchhiking foray into Wisconsin).

The Hoofers Club Intergalactic Tech Dinghy Championship put their 40 or so Tech dinghies on the line, a singlehanded championship that featured mostly current Hoofer's skippers or alumni such as the Harken brothers, Peter Barrett, Charlie Miller and I'm sure there were some scow champions sprinkled in as well. The weather was warmish, the breeze about 8-10 and I finished somewhere in the middle, middle-to-back. A great regatta. There is always something special about the Midwest lake sailing hospitality. On the way back out, I arranged to stop at Peewaukee, Wisconsin where Vanguard/Harken Blocks and North Sails Midwest (Peter Barrett and Charlie Miller) were neighbors in a business complex. Vanguard was closed when I showed up but there was someone at North Sails to show me around the loft. Tucked in one corner was this oddball dinghy with a completely flat deck.

"What is this?" I asked.

"Oh, this is the new Laser dinghy." came the reply.

"What a weird looking deck!" I was having a hard time getting my brain around something so flat looking.

"Yeah," the North sailmaker said, "Around here we've nicknamed them the Ironing Boards."

I nodded in agreement. At that moment I couldn't imagine a boat so different looking (yes, even ugly) ever getting off the ground.

Later that fall I hitchhiked into Annapolis to crew in an International 14 regatta. Good friend Sinjin Martin, who had been selling Ian Bruce's International 14's to the local fleet, was Annapolis's first Laser dealer and they had been selling like gourmet cupcakes. He stuck me in a Laser for a test sail. Light, fast, responsive; when I stepped back onto the dock at SSA I knew this was a special dinghy.

And that ugly flat deck - that kinda grew on you.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ian Bruce

I was walking down the pier at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft festival this year and passed one of those varnished Classic look-alike repro Chris-Craft runabouts. I made a mental note that this was an odd duck at this event; I'd never seen a classic motor boat at MASCF, there already being a surfeit of other events that cater to the Classic runabout crowd (the big one is the Antique Boat Museum event at Clayton NY at the beginning of August). Pushing this anomaly out of my mind, I kept ambling along to the end of the pier, perusing all wide variety of paddling, rowing and sailing craft. After fifteen minutes stepping in an around the small boats scattered on the floating dock, I looked back toward the Museum and spotted what looked like a familiar figure standing on the pier next to the Chris Craft. Hard to tell at this distance but it looked like Ian Bruce, the one man responsible for launching the greatest number of fiberglass sailboats in the history of mankind (the Laser first comes to mind, then the Laser II, the Tasar, the Byte, the Megabyte, the Laser 28, and before all that, about 150 International 14's). If it was Ian Bruce, then the reproduction Chris Craft started to make sense. It took me some time to make my way back up the pier and, sure enough, there, standing in the cockpit, was Ian Bruce.

I had heard Ian was developing an all-electric Classic runabout, something that could do 30 knots, an unheard of speed in the all-electric world and here was the boat in the flesh. Ian had brought the boat down from Canada to do the Wye Island Electric Boat Marathon the weekend before (just up the river from St. Michaels) and decided to attend MASCF. Ian had a water pump pack it in the day before the Wye Island race which he and his friend Jack Lynch fixed with some local hardware parts (not sure what needs water cooling in Ian's electric setup on the Chris-Craft look alike). This severely curtailed the top speed to about 9 knots and put him out of the running. His intent is to return next year, fully operational, and smash the record for the 24 mile course. A YouTube video on the Wye Island Marathon (including Ian's Classique Bateaux - Ian has always lived in French speaking Quebec) shows these electric powered craft making good speed around the course.

After producing fiberglass sailboats since the late 1960's, Ian is no longer in the sailboat production business, having sold the Byte and Megabyte lines to Zim in May of 2011. This E-boat project has got Ian's considerable creative talents going full bore and his focus is on making this all-electric Classic runabout a success.

The bulk of our five minute discussion wasn't electric boats, or the state of sailboat manufacturing but reminiscing about Classic International 14's. I consider Ian one of the greatest living International 14 champions. I hope to catch him again in 2013 on his return to racing on the Maryland Eastern shore.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Header Photo: South African Sonnet Scow

South African Jack Koper designed three plywood scows, starting in the late 1950's with the junior scow, the 11'9" Dabchick, and then followed with the 15'6" Tempo scow and then with the 14' 6" Sonnet Scow (featured in the header photo). All three enjoyed great success in South Africa and the Tempo also achieved some numbers in Europe, notably Holland and Germany. The Tempo has faded from the scene but both the Dabchick and Sonnet still have good fleets in South Africa (500 built for the Sonnet). Those readers who guessed the photo might be the American Y-Flyer scow were close -from the photo they look similar - but off by 4 feet in length.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunfish Frankenboat; The Solar Fish

Drawn to all things just different, I couldn't pass up taking photos of this modified Sunfish, the Solar Fish, that showed up at the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival. Very ingenious. It was designed to be a sit-in, non-hiking day sailor with a small cabin. I took a quick once-over on shore but didn't have a chance to talk to the owner/builder. Some features that were apparent in my quick glance over were;

  • Furling sail.
  • Solar panel that fed a small trolling motor (the motor seemed to double as a rudder as well.)
  • A very nautical looking cabin.
  • What looked to be a wooden anchor bowsprit fitting (but I didn't see an anchor).

The Sunfish sported Ohio registration numbers. There seems to be a large number of retired machinists from the now-gone heavy industry factories of Ohio that seem to love hacking into various projects.

The Solar Fish made it out for a sail-about before the sailing race but didn't participate, instead smartly returning to shore under power, ignoring the contrary wind blowing off the Museum shores.

A side on view of the Solar Fish under sail..

Two photos on the trailer.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

#16 - Bumpity Bump

As mentioned in the previous post, I did race committee for the J-24 East Coast Champs run by Severn Sailing Association. It was supposedly a race committee by invitation only which meant it was mostly greybeards and it seemed that we all brought our own wind-sticks and handbearing compasses. Many a lively discussion cackled over the radios about what the wind was doing and should we move the marks or not - credit Mike Waters, PRO, with taking all this cacophonous feedback and making command decisions that turned out to be correct.

I was on the pin boat - the leeward end of the starting line was to be the anchored SSA RIB - the idea being we could control the unruly J-24's with another set of stationary eyes at the leeward pin. I've never done this before; usually when I've been tasked to call the leeward end of the line I've done it from a moving motorboat that we are trying to hold on station - never an ideal situation. Friday we had very clean starts but Saturday the class got more aggressive, we had around 4 to 5 general recalls - still not bad by class standards; which worked out as we were trying to bang out 4 good races that day to conclude the regatta in front of approaching Hurricane Sandy.

From the vantage point of the pin boat, I got to watch the antics of good old bow number 16 who was trying the very risky starting tactic (in this caliber fleet and with a keelboat to boot) of coming in on port and tacking to leeward of the fleet with about 30 seconds to go. The first start on Saturday he made a complete hash of it and ended up slightly below and squeezing up mightily to avoid hitting the pin boat - which he ultimately failed to do. Bumpity bump he went along our inflatable bow and then his rudder fetched up on the anchor rode. In a superb feat of athleticism, one of the crew, lickety-split, leaped over the aft stanchion, straddled the rudder with one foot on top and used his extended leg to push the anchor rode down off the rudder. Quite remarkably, this was successfully accomplished in a couple of seconds and #16 was off to the races. Dutifully we radioed the main committee boat that J-24 #16 had hit the pin boat. We expected that he would take a penalty when he finished, as was written into the race instructions.

Number 16 hadn't learned his lesson for he tried the same maneuver on the next two starts. He didn't hit the pin boat this time but he did create a nice cluster of J-24's, clotted together, all downspeed at the start and straining to get around the leeward pin boat.

It was a grueling day getting four longish races (not only were we the pin boat but we traipsed up and down the course, filling in where needed especially in changing some marks).  I got out of the club around 5 o'clock, went to the beer store to get some storm stock and back to the house to get some food. Somewhere after 6 o'clock, Mike Waters called on my cell phone and wanted me to confirm that #16 had indeed hit the pin boat as the skipper was now claiming that he didn't, only that he had snagged the anchor rode which is not a foul. I confirmed and volunteered to come back to the club but he could tell in my fatigue and I could tell in his fatigue that this was not a battle we wanted to fight. Plus, everyone was hustling to de-rig their J's and leave that night as everyone had places to go and things to do to prepare for Hurricane Sandy. So I didn't drive back to the club and #16 gambled again and got away with a bald-faced lie. I've seen this happen before in sailboat racing, mostly in the protest room, but it doesn't get any easier.

Tip Of the Hat to Number 16 (I have a Filipino friend who maintains that karma always returns the favor) - The Bonzo Dog Band, "I Love to Bumpity Bump".

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Race Committee in the Shadow of Sandy

I was a member of the SSA race committee running the East Coast Championships for the J-24 class; the regatta took place on the weekend before that Monday when Sandy slammed into New Jersey, about 160 miles to the east. I had done this regatta last year and the last weekend in October finds the Chesapeake Bay normally empty except for the J-24's and the IRC folks. Not this year. This year a constant stream of boats criss-crossed our course, making their way to safer hurricane holes; most working their way north towards Baltimore. On Friday, the Sandbagger's Bull and Bear sailed north with their tenders following. I was told this was their normal routine as they winter over in a barn up on Gibson Island. My friend Tom was steering one of them; he gave a cheery wave as the wind was just right for these oldster's to have a delightful sail. On Saturday, two trimarans were spotted going north, one larger one loafing along under main only and a Sea Cart 30, fully powered up, coming from West River and smoking north. Larger cruising motor yachts zipped about. In the afternoon two of the large dinner/party yachts that ply the Annapolis Harbor and Severn River with bands and booze were seen steaming purposely north in tandem. Several container ships were going south, towards Sandy; strange to our eyes but the assumption was they knew what they were doing. Saturday's clouds started at a normal height, coming from the northeast with openings here and there to let glorious fall sun play on the water, but, later in the day, the clouds started socking in low with an ominous dark band sitting to the south, always a portent of something brewing from the ocean side.

The class and club had cancelled Sundays racing as the forecast was for a full on gale commencing before the advancing hurricane. Luckily, winds never got much over 12 knots on Saturday so we hustled and got in four races to wrap up the regatta. We got off the water just before dark and on my way home I stopped at my favorite beer store to replenish my storm stock.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Kite Racing - A Primer

I suspect that I am not the only long time sailor that knows bupkis about the new Olympic Sailing Sport of kite racing. Maybe this video may help (though I still want to know how you keep from entangling these kites on port/starboard crossings - and still not sure how the weight equalization works out?).
"And we've got the big kites going"

Update: Oops! Spoke too soon. From Tillerman: The kite racers didn't make the final Olympic Class cut at this years ISAF meeting. The RSX boards will be back in for the 2016 Olympics.

This is Kiteracing ! from International Kiteboarding Ass. on Vimeo.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bosham SC Classic Revival 2012

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention that Bosham Sailing Club on Chichester Harbor (U.K.) ran a Classic event this fall that mostly featured the English Classic Racing Dinghies such as Fireflies, old International 14's, Solo's, Merlin Rocket's and National 12's and rarer dinghies such as National 18's, Thames A-Raters, and Tideway's. The event turned out to be very popular with 79 entrants. The Classic Moth, a Shelly design, with the transitional high-aspect ratio Aussie Rig that was adopted in 1969 (unlike the Classic Moths over here that have stuck with the low-aspect pre-1969 rig) won the medium handicap fleet. I have, in my usual style, pilfered some pics.

One of the Classic International 14's competing, this one skippered by Sarah Vaughn, who, I'm guessing, may be the daughter of Tom Vaughn, renowned as the eminent class historian. Hull looks to be a later Kirby design.

Addendum from a readers comment;

"Sarah Vaughan... She crewed for me in that boat at Rickmansworth (where we won the races) after I sailed the POW with her father, Tommy. That was nearly 40 years ago! Beautiful and a great crew, it's great to see her still sailing. Sarah and I became friends and I will never forget Steve Toschi saying that though he won the POW, I had gotten the real prize! How I wish!"

Ian Marshall in his Shelly Classic Moth, designed in the late 1960's.

Launching down the slipway at low tide.

Also a well done video of the event by SailTV.

Portland 2012 Wooden Boat Festival

In keeping with Earwigoagin's current theme of festivals and boats shows; from Doryman's neck of the woods, a video of the Portland, Oregon WoodenBoat Festival featuring the popular (at least in the U.S.) family boatbuilding activity, this time building flat bottomed skiffs.

Wooden Boat Festival 2012 from Willamette Sailing Club on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival - 2012 - Part 2

Continuing the photos of the 2012 MASCF sailing race.

The very quick Thistles are usually at the head of the fleet, not surprising as there are very few racing dinghies in the MASCF sailing race (this year the Penquin, a Sunfish, several Blue Jays and an elderly Comet sailed by a father/son team were the other boats with active racing class associations). This year there was two Thistles racing, with the very nicely restored woodie from Cleveland comfortably in front of the fleet. (Sorry Doryman, no Thistle from Delaware!)

The Celebrity class was a popular class in the 1960's. Close to 20 foot in length and based off a Dutch centerboard class, they are very comfortable daysailors. One showed up at MASCF and finished well up. Unfortunately a rare sight nowadays. (Blogger Tim Shaw in the background with his skin-on-frame outrigger canoe.)

The Cortez 16 is a stretched Melonseed that has been developed by Floridian Dave Lucas and his merry band of DIY'ers. (Dave is the MC of a boatbuilding commune just outside of St. Petersburg Fl - a bunch of different projects going on simultaneously under a large gazebo type structure; my friend Bob has seen it and he was mightily impressed.) The Cortez 16 has found favor with good sailing characteristics, a traditional appearance and an ability to carry 2-3 people comfortably. Not sure if there are plans available or if you have travel down to Dave's place and build one on the mold that he has.

Update: Readers have provided more information (and corrected some errors) on the stretched Melonseed in the Comments section. From Doryman, "The Melonseed is "Moggie", built and skippered by Mike Wick of the Delaware River TSCA.." And from the builder himself, Mike says, "Although my MOGGIE wasn't built at Dave Lucas' shop, it was inspired by him. Plans are available from Roger Allen of Buffalo Maritime Museum. Further information is available at an article I wrote about Moogie."

What looks to be a very pretty Crotch Island Pinky.

Local boatbuilder, Peter Van Dine, did a production run of fiberglass Tancook Whaler type cruising/daysailors (I think in the 1970's) which today are prized for their timeless classic style. (I remember coming across a funeral for a retired naval officer at the Naval Academy where he had requested his beloved Van Dine Tancook Whaler be moored off the Academy sea wall while he was laid to rest.)

The finish line of the sailing race is off the outermost point of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The wind gets fluky and this year it was also upwind. There are always gaggles of boats bunched up and sometimes blocking the finish with the race officer yelling admonishments, "Don't hit anybody!" (You also need to take the time to yell your festival registration number at the race officer to be counted as a finisher, as this Blue Jay is doing - the Penquin is in the background as well as a self-designed plywood cat-ketch daysailor.)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

2012 Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival Part 1

On the same weekend I attended the 2012 Sailboat Show, that Saturday I bopped over to St. Michaels on the Eastern Shore to take in the varied small craft that is the the hallmark of Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum's MASCF (Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival). Two other bloggers made it over this year and posted their photos. (I may have passed them on the docks but I wouldn't know these two from Adam.) Blogger Thomas Armstrong from 70.8% has photos over here and photos from Wendy Byar are posted over at her blog Green Boats.

This year I was able to wrangle my way onto the race-committee boat to take some pictures of the start of the sailing race, a race, as the PRO for the day said, "is the most eclectic sailing race in the U.S." I heartily agree. This race is governed by three sensible rules (since most of the competitors aren't racers and have no idea what the ISAF racing rules are and how they are applied);
  1. Don't hit anyone! 
  2. If you hit a mark, go around it on the correct side. 
  3. If you are confused by the start, just go when everybody else goes.

I'll split my photos into two posts.

There is always lots of "splaining" and gesturing on the docks.

The main dock has two floating docks at the end where most of the leaving and returning takes place. A Thistle racing dinghy tied off at the end.

Unlike most dinghy racers, some competitors at MASCF consider it a badge of glory to row out to the starting line.

The race committee boat was CBMM's beutifully restored Smith Island workboat with plenty of open cockpit. Competitors are lining up to start with less than a minute to go. We can see an ACA sailing canoe with Lavertue's reproduction late 1800's batwing sailing canoe in the background. The orange sail belongs to a fiberglass catboat from Florida.

And they're off. Wind looked like it might be stronger than it was from shore so some sailors mistakenly reefed only to find a nice 8-10 with slightly higher gusts. The winning Thistle started up near the weather shore. (The Thistle sails can be seen peeking out behind the repro sailing canoe.)

I have to admit I was mightily impressed puttering around in the Smith Island work boat. The damping of the vibrations of the diesel by the thick wood hull made the jaunt to and from the harbor a delightful ride.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Header Photo: British Moth at Speed

The header photo to grace the top of this blog for almost two months is the U.K brethren class to the U.S. Classic Moth, the British Moth; in this case a great photo of one planing in some breeze. I have written about the British Moth class in this post and also this post. I snitched this photo from their website.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

2012 U.S. Sailboat Show

I ran out the door early Sunday morning on my way to the U.S Sailboat Show and grabbed my small camera, half expecting the battery would be dead, but hoping it wouldn't be. It was dead. So I postponed this post until fellow CMBA'er (Classic Mothist) and blogger (he prefers the term diarist), George posted his report and photos of the event over at Mid-Atlantic Musings.

I was pleasantly surprised at the higher than normal amount of companies exhibiting sailing dinghies. As soon as I walked into the gate on the backside of the harbor bathrooms there was the Rondar stand with an interesting new hiking singlehander, the K1 (at least new to the U.S. - from the Internet looks like it has been around the U.K. since 2009). It is another take on a singlehander with a keel, I assume aimed at the aging singlehander population. Not much longer than a Laser at 15 feet LOA, it is narrower and the hull shape is much rounder. Like the International Canoe and the Swift Solo, it sports a sloop rig, but no asymmetric spinnaker (to keep the costs down). With keel the K1 weighs about 47 kg  (100 or so pounds) more than the Laser. A very interesting concept but I'm not sure if there is a market. Most of the geezers who enjoy dinghy racing seem to be flogging their Lasers and Sunfishes well into their sixties and after crossing into their 70's they seem to be switching to a roomy and safe tub like the Herreshoff 12 1/2 footer, a classic that they race singlehanded in the Annapolis Yacht Club winter series.

A scan of the K1 advert picture from the crumpled brochure taken from my pants pocket;

An interior shot pulled from the Internet (not from the Sailboat Show - note the very round stern);

Rondar, an English company, has set up an U.S. manufacturing plant up near Boston where they have been providing collegiate dinghies, such as two-man Fireflies to Tufts and new carbon Tech Dinghies to MIT.

The RS stand featured two of their glass production boats and two of their rotomolded products. Of interest was their RS Venture family fiberglass daysailor/racer with assymetric spinnaker, a seventeen footer with about seven foot beam from Phil Morrison. It looked like a modern interpretation of the venerable Ian Proctor designed Wayfarer dinghy and the price point was good at 15K, cheaper even than RS's high end RS100 singlehander which was up around 16K. We'll see if this design can make any inroads against the king of the hill daysailor/racer in the U.S., the Flying Scot.

Zim Sailing picked up the Megabyte and Byte designs from Ian Bruce this past May (after 40 odd years building sailing dinghies, Ian Bruce is concentrating on producing an electric Classic speedboat). They are also producing these dinghies in Rhode Island whilst their collegiate/high school 420 is built in Asia. It seems Zim Sailing is aggressively moving into areas left wide open by the recent travails and mis-steps of Laser Performance.

I took a peek at the hardware and rope companies. I didn't see much new in dinghy hardware. The U.S. rope manufacturers (Yale and Samson) are now all offering soft-hand, double plait, super-Spectra lines so the choice for Laser mainsheets and dinghy sheets of all types has now increased exponentially (before it was either Maffioli or Marlowe Excel that had the soft hand sheets).

The Comet class (U.S double handed 16 foot chine design circa 1933, often referred to as the mini-Star) coughed up the bucks to have a very well put together stand (it is rare to see a class association at the Sailboat Show). Go over to George's blog to get some pictures. The class is looking at mylar sails to gussy up the modern image of the class so, having been through the recent discussion with the Classic Moths, I spent a pleasant 15 minutes discussing the pros and cons of mylar sailcloth. The Comet class has a new fiberglass builder on Maryland's Easter shore and they have added a double floor much like the modern fiberglass Snipes.

I had a very technical discussion on sailcloth with the Dimension/Polyant guys. It seems their M2 string sails have been used successfully by the top 505 sailors but there is a price premium if you go that route.

The rain which looked to make it a very wet day, surprisingly went away after the first fifteen minutes and instead of a quick walk through of the show that I expected, there was much to keep me interested for many hours on that Sunday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

NSHOF 2012 Wooden Boat Pursuit Race

The National Sailing Hall of Fame based in Annapolis held their third annual Classic Wooden Boat Rendezvous and Pursuit Race last weekend. I have been blissfully unaware of such event until my friend Tom Price called up and said he and Doug Lupe were going to enter Doug's Classic International 14 (Stradivarius, a McCutcheon built Kirby IV, designed and built in the 1960's - all boats in this race have to be designed before 1970 - and, obviously, built in wood). Tom was inquiring about what I thought would be a good handicap number for the Classic 14 and we agreed it should be around the number for a Thistle (a Classic 14 is slower than the the Thistle in the light stuff, faster in medium and heavy, but slower than a 470 in a real breeze). My curiosity was piqued and Sunday morning I wandered down to the City docks to look some of the boats over and then hoof it over to the Naval Academy where the pursuit race start line was laid off Trident Point. A pursuit race has the slowest boats start first, the fast boats start last, everybody has their start at preset times with the idea that all boats should get to the finish line at the same time. The winner over the line is the winner over the line. I had a lunch date so I was only able to watch the two slowest entries start but I was able to  get some photos of the centerboard boats that were racing.

The Acorn dinghy, a 10'2" lapstrake lug rigged catboat designed by Ian Oughtred was the first to start and had over a 30 minute head start over the second starter (I could barely see her when the second boat started).

A locally amateur built 1889 Herreshoff design Coquina (just completed this summer - this design seems very popular with the traditional building community) was the second starter.

Bob Pulsch from New Jersey did a beautiful job building a 1900 B. B. Crowninshield centerboarder design, Rebecca P. Based on the Seawanahaka Rule, the day sailor looked to be between 24'  to 28', beamy enough to stand up to an enormous gaff-rigged main, had 700 lbs of lead in the centerboard and about 2600 lbs. of displacement. According to Bob, five were built in Boston at the turn into the twentieth century. For this race, Bob added both a jib and a spinnaker to really up the ante on an already massive sail plan.

The oldest American racing class, the two Sandbaggers, Bull and Bear, reproductions on an 1869 design competed. One of them actually flew a spinnaker on the downwind legs. Earwigoagin has covered sailing on these unique sailing craft.

One of the keelboats in the cruising class was the very pretty Herreshoff Buzzards Bay 25.

The Star, designed in 1914, was represented by a very old number, 178, built in 1920 but sporting a modern rig.

Tom and Doug in the beautifully all varnished, cold-molded Classic 14 with an early 1980's rig (full batten main - I was puzzling over who made the sails until Tom reminded me - senior moment) won the Dayboat category but the handicaps seemed about right as Tom just squeaked in front, having some anxious moments from the Sandbagger while sitting in a windless hole.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

100K Whoo Hoo!

Blogger Brother Baydog reached the 100K viewer hits this past August, about the same time as Earwigoagin hit 100k (100,000 for you who where k means nothing except k). This is very small potatoes in the sail blogging world (though I must admit Baydog did it in one year less than Earwigoagin - which proves food trumps sailing every time).

I too did some poking around the Internet when Earwigoagin hit this milestone and determined;

  1. that Earwigoagin has acquired a page rank in the InterNets with lots of numbers - trying to count the places it looks like my page rank puts me as somewhere in the middle of the 15 millionth most popular blog on the planet (it's hard to determine whether it was the middle 15 millionth or more to the back, but this is my story and I'm sticking to it - hmm! I wonder if I can get a T-shirt printed with this metric). 
  2. Some web site put the value of my blog as $312. Does that mean I can write this in my will and equate this as giving someone $312 ("To my cousin who I haven't talked to in eighteen years, I bequeath the blog "Earwigoagin" with an appraised value of $312.") 
(Both Joe over at Horses Mouth and I can take solace that we have somewhat more popular web presence elsewhere...and with a lot less work.)

Sail Cloth for Small Sailboats

Last winter the open sailing canoe guys (well mostly one gal, Marilyn Vogel) asked me to jot down some thoughts on sailcloth for sailing canoes for their newsletter (in my varied professional career, I have been a sailmaker - though not at the present time). The main issue I was asked about for the open canoe class was their rules referenced a now defunct sail cloth (hence the section on Bainbridge cloth). Though most of the small boat sailors out in the bloggosphere sail one-design boats where they don't worry about the type of sailcloth they are putting up the mast (alert, alert, technical data to follow, ignore if you don't care), there may be a few out there who have some interest in options for small boat sails.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Header Photo: International 12

Header Photo is from Earwigoagin's European correspondent, Romain Berard, and features two traditional International 12's (design circa 1914) drifting on some lake that, for the moment, I don't have the name (will have to wait for Romain to add a comment). My last post on the International 12 and Romain can be found over here.

It took a couple of days (my European correspondent must still be on his month long August vacation) but Romain comes through (see comments). It is "Lac des Settons", and from Google satellite, a very pretty lake indeed, set smack dab in the middle of France amongst the farms. Pinpoint maps from Google at the following URL:,4.07258&spn=0.047194,0.077162&sll=47.191841,4.06477&sspn=0.023593,0.038581&oq=les+settons&t=m&z=14

Thursday, August 16, 2012

50th Anniversary of the OK Dinghy Worlds

Amidst all the hullabaloo about the Olympics, lost in the jingoism noise of Olympic sailing supremacy, was the remarkable 50th anniversary regatta of the OK Dinghy Worlds, the OK being the  equivalent of the Laser singlehander before the real Laser showed up in the early 1970's. The OK's are still doing very well worldwide, thank you very much, (doing well except in North America where the Laser eradicated any popular singlehanders that preceded it - except for the Sunfish). The OK has been called  the mini-Finn but it was really much more than that, the chine hull was designed for easy home building and at 150 lbs. hull weight the OK Dinghy was a much more lively experience than the stolid Finn dinghy (particularly in the 1960's, this was a very light weight for a singlehander).

In the late 1960's, the hotbed of North American OK Dinghy racing was on the West Coast. It was the young, hot-shot class with names such as Rick Grajirena, Steve Toschi, Dave Klipfel from San Francisco and Craig Thomas, Carl Buchan from Seattle. I  spent  an enjoyable hour or two with the West Coast OK bunch, apres-sailing, at the 1969 CORK regatta in Kingston. A very hippie-ish affair, as was always the case when you ran into the West Coast sailors during the 1960's.

The OK never caught on in the East Coast. I got to sail one once in light air, nice sailing experience, but I must admit that I followed the crowd and joined the BORG back then and spent several fun years flogging Laser #549 around race courses.

The OK dinghy was designed in Scandinavia and for the 50th Anniversary Worlds they returned to Vallensbæk, Denmark, over 145 strong. It turned into a light air regatta and geezer skippers abounded (New Zealand pre-geezer Greg Wilcox took second). It does seem that when you add a traveler and a slightly more tune-able rig, the older set can certainly crack the front every so often.

Here is an interesting time-lapse video of the 145 or so OK's returning home to their dolly's and good Scandinavian beer at the 2012 Worlds. The smallish club seemed to handle the returning hordes with aplomb. Long live the OK Dinghy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why sailing is not long for the Olympics!

I lied. I said I would watch the online feeds of sailing but the NBC Olympic website didn't seem to like my FIOS password so I was just as happy to watch the regular broadcasts of team handball, field hockey, water polo and like wacky Olympic sports.

I did check the Olympic sailing results daily. Not good for the USA team but, hey, this might be fodder for a later post (everybody and his mother in the bloggosphere have jumped on this one - why not me?). This post goes beyond USA mediocrity; this post, on why sailing should be booted from the Olympics, was triggered by two Web events;

  1. An Irish fellow put up a comical short clip of one of the Women's Laser Radial starts at Weymouth. The video went viral. His roll-in-the-aisle commentary, where he confused the start with the finish, unfortunately hit too close to home. I imagine for the mass of non-sailors watching a sailboat race, the Irishman's humorous play-by-play rang more of truth than satirical sendup.
  2. And over at SailingAnarchy, they pointed out a misguided New York Times op/ed piece that argues sailing has no place in the Olympics; its too elitist, expensive, and exclusive. (I won't counter Bomani Jone's - the author - suppositions here, lets just say he's wrong, typical of the Internet he just shot from the hip with no research whatsoever.)
But sailing is not long for the Olympics because it is not a spectator sport... period. Fleet racing will never be a spectator sport because the masses that give BBC and NBC and the IOC the TV ratings will never understand sailboat racing. I equate watching fleet racing in sailboats with watching a marathon organized on the Rosie Ruiz rules. You will start at one place, after that you may run off where you want to, hither and yon, and at the 25 mile mark you assemble in some order to finish. One can argue that the latest video technology, where we can view animations of sailboats racing and where we can draw imaginary lines showing who are the leaders and who are the followers even though they are often widely scattered about the course; all this makes sailboat racing more understandable to the Average Joe. What other Olympic sport do you need video animations to make it understandable as to who is winning and who is losing?

Now for Exhibit B. If you bought tickets to the Weymouth Oympic Sailing competition you were allowed up on a hill on the shoreline that supposedly had the best view of the racing courses. So lets say you bought some tickets to watch the exciting medal race of the Women's 470 class. Oops, we forgot the binoculars. What exactly did I get for my money. Lets go to the videotape (as local sportscaster George Michael used to say).

2012 Olympics - Women's 470 class Medal Race from Tim Laws on Vimeo.

Though it pains me to say this; it looks like kitesailing, which is about as far away from typical sailboat racing as you can get and still call it sailboat racing, kitesailing may be the one Olympic sailing discipline that will pull in the average TV viewer.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Feet in hiking straps?

The photo of the Irish lady leading the Olympic Laser Radials, hiking flat out and spray everywhere, has been closely scrutinized by some of our sailing bloggers to determine if both of her feet were in the hiking straps.

Well I've dug out another photo of an Olympic class where, after zooming in for more detail, and panning around, I've determined that this skipper definitely didn't have his feet in the hiking straps.

(I've stretched the definition of Olympic class just a bit; this is a photo from 2012 British Nationals of the 12 Square Meter Sharpie, the two-man class in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics; Annapolis Olympian

For some reason our neck of the woods doesn't produce many Olympians. I can recall only one medalist from Annapolis in recent times; Scott Steele, who got a silver in Windsurfing at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Well we have another Annapolitan Windsurfer on the U.S. 2012 team, Farrah Hall. Some of you may recall Farrah as the one who lost her position on the Olympic team in 2008; where her victory on the water during the selection trials was negated by a botched Request for Redress hearing. It was so bad that the IOC came back a year later, boxed U.S. Sailing about the ears for completely incompetent proceedings, and vindicated Farrah Hall....but much too late for her Olympic dream on that cycle. Despite this she hung in there for another four year campaign and will be in Weymouth in 2012.

I bumped into Farrah and her Polish coach last fall at Severn Sailing Association. They were just about to push their boards into the water (it was dead calm, I wasn't sure what kind of training they were up to) and had a short five minute conversation.

I get a kick out talking to Windsurfer racers. The sport is so different from dinghy racing. Windsurfers can pump.... all the time.... all around the course. Just as Eskimos have forty words for forty different types of snow, the racing Windsurfer crowd have forty different ways to pump. There's the light air upwind pump, the offwind planing pump, the choppy water upwind get the idea. And that's what Farrah and I talked about; all the ways to pump a Windsurfer. She was very gracious talking to a stranger despite being anxious to go "air rowing" (as ISAF president Paul Henderson, dismissively called the sport several years ago). I wish her the best of luck at Weymouth and it would be a great kick to see her get on the podium (unfortunately not likely as the U.S has been well down the pack in recent Olympic Windsurfing competitions).

The Washington Post did an excellent article on her Olympic quest. Click here to view.

This wraps up my "Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics" series. Now I have to figure where I have to go to view some of the sailing competitions.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics; the Star class

After this go around, the Star class is out of the Olympics. I wouldn't say this with any finality, as the Star got bounced out before by the so-called more modern Tempest in 1976 and returned after being away for only one cycle. It returned in fine form and still retains its status as the world's premier small keelboat, featuring very large fleet racing outside the Olympics. But 2012 may be the final swan song for the Star in the Olympics as the short course racing favored for a more TV-friendly sailing competition doesn't suit a keelboat.

One of the more heartbreaking stories of the last Olympics was the saga of the U.S entrant, John Dane. John Dane was bordering on geezerdom in 2008 when he made the team; no one could doubt his racing chops, he had been at or near the top of the Star for ages, but, in 2008, this wasn't the class of Dennis Connor or Tom Blackaller; the young Olympic bucks had turned it into a physical battle just like the dinghies, hiking hard, pumping, rocking. John Dane, looking for an advantage to offset his age, gambled with a small Star hull shape tuned specifically for the light air that was predicted. It failed miserably. The boat speed was never there and he had one of the more dismal finishes of a U.S Star sailor in a recent Olympics.

This video of John Dane's Star campaign from 2008 is particularly poignant.

Sail for Gold --- 2008 Olympics from FILMSTERS on Vimeo.

And here you can watch some of the young bucks horse the Star around like a dinghy (featuring mostly the Danish Star Olympic team but there is some English spoken here and there).

Dansk Starbåd til OL i Weymouth from Anders Dylov on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics; Wind or No Wind?

Certainly we can expect breeze for the Weymouth Olympic Regatta, or can we? According to WaPo (local acronym for the Washington Post newspaper), England has been experiencing a monsoon like summer (unlike the U.S.A Mid-Atlantic where we have been very dry) and also a good amount of breeze. But big regattas are notorious for not going to form. So the English, being English, are leaving nothing to chance and the "wind gatherers" are calling on the wind gods as has been documented in this video.

"It's like nothing I expected at all!"

Battle for the Winds - a preview from Cirque Bijou on Vimeo.

Hopefully we'll get to see some racing in the Weymouth Olympics in the same breeze that this Finnish Finn sailor is training in (these elite athletes make it seem so easy - I remember when yachting journalists back in the 1970's described jibing a Finn in this much breeze was one of the most feared maneuvers in small boat racing. Click on this link to see my other Finn jibing video).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics: The Medal Race

I think it was the last Olympics where they introduced the medal race for sailing; the last race counts double points and is only open to the top ten in the standings. Obviously designed for TV, I like the idea of the medal race. At times it has made for some real drama.

At this past year's Olympic Worlds in Perth, Australia, it looked like the medal races were held in the harbor entrance. At any minute, I half expected a 50 foot sport fisherman to barrel through the course full speed. Here is the video of the Finn class medal race (first round only).

And who can forget the 49'er medal race at the 2008 Quingdao Olympics. The Danish team, who led in the standings, broke their mast before the start, raced back to shore, borrowed the Croatian 49'er, made it to the starting line just in time to make it an official start, finished in some wild and woolly conditions, and survived several days of hearings to be declared the Gold Medalists.

Add to that race was the absolute carnage on the course (he's up, he's down, he's up again) as the World's elite 49'er sailors couldn't make it all the way downwind without going over.

Video with German?? (see note below) commentators. (The word, "Krashboombang", fits this race to a tee.)
A comment was left that this is not German - which could very well be - as I demonstrate a sad trait of most Yanks, uno language skills and an appalling lack of any useful knowledge of any other languages. Apologies if I have this completely wrong - I could guess again and say Danish  - but it would still be a guess.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics - Laser Slaloming and Laser Dudes and Laser Dudettes, and How They Train.

Brad Funk - who didn't make it to the final U.S Olympic Team, playing on the waves on a sail in from training for the Perth regatta this winter.

Brad Funk Raw training at in Perth for the ISAF World Championships from Degan Media on Vimeo.
And Rob Crane, the one who did get the the USA Laser berth and Paige Railey, our Laser Radial sailor, on training; on-the-water,  and off-the-water, and mental preparedness.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Run up to the Wemouth Olympics - 2012 SOF

The Pre-Olympic Regatta at Hyeres, France. As two competitors describe the 2012 regatta at the end of this video;

"I think there is only one word you need to describe this event.


Yeah, windy, very windy!"

Monday, June 25, 2012

Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics - U.S Womens 470

The 2012 Summer Olympics in "Merrie Old England" is just over a month away. I'll be featuring some Olympic Sailing videos over the next month. First up is the U.S 470 Team, Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan.

Team Go Sail London 2012 from 5K Productions on Vimeo.

Race Committee and a Coaching Tip

This is one of those years where I've served on Race Committee before I've actually got one of my boats out sailing (hopefully before July 4th - I'll let you know).

Not that I'm complaining. It's not all work, work, work for Race Committee. In watching bits and pieces of the races we always hope to derive some amusement from the dinghy racers, those screw-ups, yelling, near-collisions (nobody likes to see real collisions). Well that weekend, the Johnson 18 fleet was up to the task of amusing the Race Committee - almost to a man they refused to take their spinnakers down until they were abreast of the leeward mark, which resulted in much flailing, boats turning upwind with jibs half out, poles not retracted, this all happening usually at a great distance downwind from the leeward mark. One poor fellow who made a complete hash of it, sailed way out of the three boat circle, reentered it going upwind, only to meet a fellow competitor who had been behind but had done a better job of rounding. Fortunately no collisions but the rule implications on having someone exit and then reenter the three boat circle makes the rule experts giddy with analysis.

I was thinking of wandering over to the Johnson 18 area of the dinghy park after the racing and mentioning how to correct this, but then I thought better of it; nobody wants a Mr. Know-it-All interrupting the post race drinks. Wait a minute, I have a blog - I can offer advice from afar (but should I?, spinnaker screw-ups are always a good source of merriment on the Race Committee.)

I'll be a nice guy, a tip for the Johnson 18 Fleet;
Start taking the spinnaker down far enough away from the mark so everything is tidy and shipshape when you enter the three boat circle! Figure out where that needs to be given your experience. Start taking the spinnaker down at say 8-9 boat lengths and as you get better tighten this up (or if you still can't shave around the mark with everything percolating, lengthen this out). 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tillerman's Photo Tips for Bloggers

Tillerman put out a request for photography tips for bloggers and got lots of great answers.

I can't add much that hasn't already been offered up as advice. I am mostly a consumer of photos; I use what photo's people send me or the photo's I can troll for online. I do own five digital cameras of various ages, makes and models; the most expensive one was around $300 in cost, but I usually don't remember to carry them. I have become reasonably adept at fixing photo's, my favorite software being an older version of Adobe's Photoshop Elements, their "Fix Everything" button does an amazing job.

I do have two tips:

  1. Don't sweat the small stuff. This has already been mentioned many times. You don't need the latest, greatest camera. You don't need the greatest picture. If it does a good job of illustrating the point of the post - go ahead and use it

  2. CROP your photos. Cropping a photo is just like another layer of zoom-in for your bag of photo tricks. It can bring immediacy and interest to, what was before, a blah photo. And you have lots of latitude. I crop my header photos to 1150 pixel width which just fits on the screen of my older laptop. Considering that most modern digital cameras are producing photos with something like 3000 to 4000 pixels in both directions, you can throw away a lot of your photo and still have something eminently serviceable to put on your blog.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Romain's yacht

I've been promising Earwigoagin's European correspondent, Romain Berard, to do another post on his yacht for over a year now. You see, Romain owns a wooden International 12 and has supplied me with several photos, one of them now gracing the header of this blog. The International 12 is one of my favorite classes; certainly if I was based in Italy, where it is very popular, I would own one. I've posted several times before on the International 12 at the following links:
  1. Brief overview of the International 12 here.
  2. Other pics of Romain's yacht.
  3. Old farts should sail Old boats

Last fall I talked to Louis Sander of Ronstan at the U.S Sailboat Show. He is based in Italy and the conversation turned to the International 12, which, it turns out, is known simply in Italy as the "Dinghy" class. Louis said it is very popular in Italy (I notice online that they get fleets of 70 for big regattas in Italy) and, according to Louis, is based around Portofino/Tigullio, with the other most active fleets around Lake Como, and in the Veneto and Lazio regions.

Next year the International 12 will be 100 years old; without question it is the most popular vintage dinghy going. It is built in wood and glass and retains the original lug rig, though the racing types have completely modern blocks, lines, and Dacron sails.

A pic I lifted online, taken by Pascale Guittonneau of an International 12 sailing in a French vintage regatta. Very pretty lapstrake hull (clinker to those from England) with a very round hull shape. Sailing these craft can be tricky. Romain sent me a video of his boat sailing downwind in a breeze - rock and rolling all the way.

A YouTube video. The title screen, a disclaimer roughly translated from Italian by Google....

"The video was shot while I was making a photo shoot and it is not representative 'of the event, or of my work. These are only images to share with friends "dinghisti." Camera images are attached to the dinghy of Nicola Rainusso."

Bloggers Note: For those who have raced singlehanders, the onboard video at 3:25 into this YouTube is amusing. Apparently the skipper, in attempting to gybe around the reach mark, lost control, rounded up head-to-wind (as usually happens) and ran into the poor fellow who was following behind.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Header Photo: New Zealand Moth

All spring the header photo that has graced the top of this blog has been of a capsized New Zealand Moth, somewhere on the South Island. The New Zealand Moth is a more modern interpretation of the Len Morris Mk II Antipodean scow Moth. (Len did this design post WWII and the Mk II jump started the Moth class in Australia). As with most things in the Classic Moth world, the Laser supplanted the New Zealand Moth, which pre-Laser, in the 1960's, was a very popular class in New Zealand. The New Zealand Moth still has a fleet in Stewarts Gully Sailing Club in New Zealand and can be found for very reasonable prices, as did this fellow yanking on the daggerboard, who bought his Moth for $200.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bloggers Block

In March, having some time on my hands, my daughter asked me to help her coach her high school womens lacrosse team. I said yes, having done quite a lot of spectating at womens lacrosse games, but no actual coaching. The season, behind the bench as it were, was a great experience and a lot of fun - the high school athletes at Wheaton HS had a great attitude - win or lose. We weren't that good - every win was a struggle but we got a couple of them which made the season.

What I learned during the lacrosse season is I can't coach and blog - my brain isn't wired to switch from thinking about defensive matchups and offensive techniques to then write a sailing blog. It wasn't happening when I sat down to the computer.

And that's my excuse.

Like daughter, like father.....

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Way Back When

In the days before you had motors on sailboats, but still idiots on the helm.....from the Sept 10, 1900 issue of the newspaper, Toronto Daily Mail and Empire;

Sept 9, Rochester NY -

"Shortly after midnight Thursday night the schooner Fleetwing entered the river mouth and headed for the harbour. Something was evidently wrong on board, for before coming to anchor the schooner had created no small amount of damage to the yachts belonging to the Rochester and Royal Canadian Yacht Clubs. The local yacht Cinderella was tied up to the pier near the lighthouse, and although there was apparently no excuse for so doing, the stranger luffed wildly and before the crew of the yacht could protect themselves, the Cinderella's spreader was carried away. Then the schooner made for the steam launch attached to the yacht and punched a hole in her bottom and otherwise damaged the craft. Continuing further up the river the stranger, which by this time had aroused several of the yachtsmen at the clubhouse by the noise she made, swung over  to the other side of the river and her jib boom made connections with the fore topmast of the Canadian yacht Clorita. There was a snap and the topmast went by the board. At last evidently satisfied with the damage done, and after yawning about the river a bit more and narrowly missing several more yachts anchored nearer inshore, she passed the bridge and made for her berth at Charlotte. The Clorita was anchored almost directly opposite the clubhouse and but for her presence some of the smaller craft astern of her might have suffered severely."

As an aside, Tillerman added this comment which got me laughing;
"Clorita has 3 vowels and 4 consonants,"