Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Back to the Future; the Qingdao Sailing Olympics

This year, the summer of 2012, the English host the Olympics. I'm sure the bookmakers have the English team as favorites again, and with good reason.

As I've said before, this blog is all about timeliness and up to date reporting, so here is an aerial video covering 470's and boards at the last sailing Olympics, held at Qingdao, China (with the appropriate bombastic, triumphant music score).

Qingdao Olympic Sailing from iProductions - Bruce Sabin on Vimeo.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Just Breathe!

Dinghy sailing in a breeze can be wet, very, very wet. Hence the statement "Firehose Reaches" or "I Needed a snorkel out there". And all this very aptly documented in this video by Youtuber "pjbul1" of a threesome on an Australian Lightweight Sharpie in lots of breeze.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Frostbiting Dinghies on the River Thames

A neat video short of Merlin Rockets and Lasers river sailing on the Thames in mid January 2012. Plenty of varnished wood on those Merlin Rockets! Short tacking in the river, and staying in the puffs usually means the older boats do very well on the Thames when racing against their higher tech modern brothers. Weather looks to be very sunny and warm for an English winter (we've also had a very mild one in the Mid Atlantic region so far). I like the banter between the videographer and his compatriot at the end of the video. "or something or other"

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Honey, Did you enjoy your cruise across the lake?

In one of the strangest political, cultural and human psychology missteps, the United States banned the sale, manufacture, and transportation of liquor from 1920 to 1933. What resulted was probably the largest civilian disobedience of a national law in recorded history. Moonshine, brewing beer at home, underground bars - the speakeasy, bootlegging; Americans were going to get their hooch one way or the other.

I've written about the American Canoe Association encampment on Sugar Island, an encampment that achieved great popularity during the Prohibition, not so much for the canoe competitions as for the fact the Island sits about 1/2 mile inside the Canadian border on the St. Lawrence. During the two week encampment, canoeists from up and down the Eastern Seaboard could drink, and drink, and drink. It got so bad, the governing body of Sugar Island set aside a peninsula  on the Island for drinking and all the gambols that are inextricably linked to booziness, the gambling, the running around nude, the decibels, the peeing in the bushes, the fights. They named the peninsula "Buck Point".

And as the following video shows, even the cruising sailboat crowd got into the action.

Let's imagine the skipper's conversation with his wife after he got back from his "cruise" across Lake Michigan;
Wife: "Honey, did you enjoy your cruise across the Lake with Tom, Dick, and Harry?
Skipper: "Yes it was very nice."
Wife: "Well you look very exhausted. Was the weather rough?"
Skipper: (wink, wink) "Oh yes, there were some very rough days"
Skipper: "Listen Dear, how about you and I go look at a new car tomorrow. I've got some extra cash burning in my pocket"

Some Prohibition Footage from Steve Unkles on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Music Whenever; Noah and the Whale "Love, Love, Love"

Haven't done a music post lately. Some friends have fled to Florida to avoid winter altogether (though today was a glorious warmish day for the Mid-Atlantic winter - after a very dismal weekend - but nothing comes close to having a a bummer week like getting your car crushed in Pacific storms!). Well what to do to bring some cheer? An upbeat tune by "Noah and the Whale" and some of our Filipino friends having a grand old time where the weather is hot, the water is warm, the beer is flowing. Ukulele, whistling, mouth trumpet. Life is good.

Love, Love, Love from Cedric Valera on Vimeo.

Oh, in five years time we could be walking round the zoo
With the sun shining down over me and you

And there’ll be love in the bodys of the elephants too
I’ll put my hands over your eyes, but you'll peek through

And there’ll be sun, sun, sun
All over our faces
And sun, sun, sun
All over our bodys.
And sun, sun, sun
All down my neck
Oh, and sun, sun, sun
So, what the heck

'cause' we’ll be laughing at each others silly little jokes
And we’ll be laughing about how we use to smoke
All those stupid little cigarretes and drinks stupid wine
‘cause it’s what we needed to have a good time

But it was fun, fun, fun
When we were drinking.
It was fun, fun, fun
When we were drunk
And it was fun, fun, fun
When we were dancing
It was fun, fun, fun
Oh, it was fun.

Well then I look at you and say “it’s the happiest that I’ve ever been”
And I’ll say: “I no longer feel that I have to be james dean”
And she'll say: “yeah, well I feel pretty happy too, and I’m always pretty happy when I’m just kicking back with you”

And there will be love, love, love
All through our bodys.
Love, love, love
All through our minds
And it'l be love, love, love
All over her face
And love, love, love all over mine

And though admittedly all these moments are just in my head
I’ll be thinking about them when I'm lying in bed
And i know that none of it will even come true
But in my mind I’m having a pretty good time with you

Oh, In five years time
I might not know you
In five years time
We might not speak
Oh, In five years time
We might not get along
In five years time
You might just prove me wrong

But there’ll be love, love, love
Wherever you go
There’ll be love, love, love....................

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stuart Walker and Sinjin; Together Again

Ahh! a human interest story for Earwigoagin, a coming together of an old sailing team after a long hiatus.

Dr. Stuart Walker should be familiar to many in the sailboat racing community. Stuart has been a longtime racing tactics columnist for the U.S magazine "Sailing World" and, must be the most prolific author of how-to books on sailboat racing in the short recorded history of this sport. Here's a list of Stuart Walker's titles that I could compile off the Internet (there's probably some I missed);
  • Winning; The Psychology of Competition
  • Advanced Racing Tactics 
  • Techniques of Small Boat Racing
  • A Manual of Sail Trim
  • The Tactics of Small Boat Racing 
  • The Sailors Wind
  • Positioning: The Logic of Sailboat Racing
  • and his newest, The Code of Competition
Dr. Walker started his racing career in International 14's in the 1950's and, in the early 1970's, switched over to the Soling class. (I haven't seen it but I've heard his trophy room is very impressive.) Early on in his International 14 career (1957), Stuart Walker teamed up with a St. John Martin (Sinjin to everyone), and they remained a team until 1963 when Sinjin bought his first International 14. Sinjin would still be called on to occasionally fill in as crew in big regattas, crewing with Stuart in the 1967 English championship.

Sinjin would become a top notch International 14 skipper in his own right, winning the U.S Nationals in 1971 (Stuart would win the nationals in 1969) and representing the East Coast in several International Team Race competitions. He was Annapolis's first Laser dealer. Sinjin retired from the International 14 and hard core racing in 1977.

A picture of Dr. Stuart Walker and Sinjin taken in 1962. This appeared in "Sailing World's" article celebrating Stuart Walker's 300th column for the magazine. This is US666, Salute, the International 14 in which Stuart Walker won the Prince of Wales Cup in 1964 (not with Sinjin as crew). I think all photos in this post were taken by Ellie Martin.

Another pic of Stuart and Sinjin in the International 14, Salute.

US 800 was Stuart Walker's next International 14. This looks to be Stuart and Sinjin. Stuart had devised a really skinny mast out of 1 1/2" tubing for this 14.

Fast forward to Jan 1, 2012. There's a long distance sailboat race on New Years day that Severn Sailing Association have hosted since 1954 (this race being Stuart's idea as well). It's a 14 mile race up the Severn River, into Round Bay, around St. Helena's island and back again. International 14's and then the Solings and then J22's have participated but with the demise of the International 14's at SSA, it remains today, primarily a Soling event.

This year, Stuart recruited his old 14 crew, Sinjin and Sinjin's son (named Stuart, after Stuart). Sinjin hadn't crewed for Stuart since the 1980's but the chemistry was still there. In a breezy southerly and moderate temperatures for January, Stuart claimed his 32nd win in the Ice Bowl. All of us look at the good Dr., in his mid eighties, still racing hard in his Soling year round, and shake our heads in amazement and admiration.

Jan 1, 2012; Stuart, Sinjin, and Stuart Martin bombing up the Severn River in Stuart's Soling with a strong following breeze.

Stuart Martin, Sinjin, and the good Dr. Walker with the Ice Bowl.

And Sinjin, back in 1965, was to take a wet-behind-the-ears teenager, who was mad about sailing, but had never raced, Sinjin took a chance on this teenager and made him his International 14 frostbite crew (Sinjin's wife finally putting her foot down about racing wet boats that capsize in the winter). And that merits a very grateful TOH from the blogmeister.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Antipodean Season in Full Swing; Let's go to the Video Tape

While we shiver in the Northern Hemisphere (thankfully no snow in the Mid-Atlantic yet), the sailing season for our cousins down under is in full swing. Videos are filtering out of the Southern Hemisphere for those (like the blogmeister) that hunker down in front of the computer for these winter months.

The Aussie 12 foot Cherub class has provided much amusement to the readers of Earwigoagin in the past and these two Cherub videos featured below continue to deliver thrills, spills and dirty words in abundance.

First up is a video that basically follows a Cherub crew upon rounding the weather mark, down the leeward leg to the leeward mark.

Warning, lots of four letter NSFW words here (turn the sound down if you are at work).

"Finally got my pitchpole."
"At least you didn't break your ankle, eh!"

And essentially one game Cherub crew chaining together a bloopers reel with a great soundtrack. (The crew even lost the GoPro, but only momentarily as he dove down to retrieve it off the sandy bottom.)

Congratulations! This crew is the first nominee for the new Earwigoagin's 2012 "No Excuse to Lose Award"

For my mind, if you want some high speed thrills you can share with a friend, there is no better bang for the buck than the Aussie Cherub dinghy (originally conceived by Kiwi John Spencer).

Header Photo: International Canoe launching over a wave

The World's most popular "planker" class (boy, do I like the Aussie term for the sliding seat!). I lifted this photo of an International Canoe from the Internet. It shows Swede Johan Elfström racing his one-design (Nethercott hull) International Canoe at the 2011 Championship at Travemünder Woche. Johan finished fourth in the one-design fleet.

And from a world far, far, away, here is a somewhat fuzzy photo of the blogmeister riding "No Eyes" hard (pic from Buzzards Bay in the mid 1980's). (Photo from Leslie White)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Log Canoe Video Released, Number 3 in a Series

I highly recommend watching Bob's other log canoe videos; you can watch

My good friend, Bob Ames, has released his third video in his amazing log canoe series. Bob was crew on Island Blossom, the season champion in 2011, and has just about put his GoPro on every part of a log canoe (including the topsail that flys above the foresail in light air). Bob starts the video with his best imitation of the toddler who does the E-trade commercials (trivia question: what's a boardman, a squelcher, a foreman) and the fun takes off from there, a great show on how rollicking and crazy these traditional racing craft can be to sail. The Aussies may have their crazy vintage skiffs but we Marylanders have our log canoes. There's some great capsize video (No, these canoes are not self rescuing).

Island Blossom with Jay Dee and Island Bird in 2011 from B. A. on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The hard life on the rental beach

I've never worked at renting out sailboats, in fact I've never rented a sailboat. But I imagine most days on the rental beach, the conversation goes like this;

Sun-bleached blonde rental dude, "How much sailing have you done?"
Pasty white Northern dude, "Oh I sail all the time back at home!"

And then the rental dude watches the pasty white Northern dude flail away just off the beach; in irons, out of irons, heeled over, in irons, maybe a capsize, and the rental dude gets in the motor skiff and hauls him in.

The caption for the following video says it all;
"This is one of our clients who went sailing with a GoPro on his head. He capsized and lost the GoPro, now, three months later we found it. This is his story..."

Can you sail? from Simon kearns on Vimeo.

I sense some real trepidation when watching the body language of the girlfriend/wife (anytime a person plunks down in a corner of the boat and rigidly holds that position = "I don't know about this" which is an astute observation given the sailing skills of her skipper). I fear this incident has put her off sailing forever.

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Production Dinghy from France

Romain, "Earwigoagin's" European correspondent, emailed a heads up about Group Finot's new production dinghy, a 4.3 meter, 14 footer called the "Albatros". Looking at the Albatros website, it definitely sports a wide wedge shape hull. The "Albatros" appears to be the first production sailing dinghy to try to leverage the Transat monohull hull shape into a smaller size. According to the website the "Albatros" is targeted as a two man lightweight sailing dinghy for families and young people.

Here is a side view I lifted from the website..........

The specs on the "Albatros" are as follows.....

  • Hull length 4.3 m 
  • Hull width 1.95 m 
  • Hull weight 72 kg 
  • Ballast in swinging CB 30 kg 
  • Total hull and CB weight 118 kg 
  • Max load 240 kg 
  • Mainsail area 10.2 m2 
  • Jib area 4.4 m2 
  • Assymetric Area 17 m2 
Besides the really wide, wide stern, some of the other design features that seem interesting or odd (take your pick) are.....

  • Hull is formed thermoplastic out of a recyclable plastic called Evolite by Technyl. The hull uses 3 pieces glued together.
  • Carbon mast is standard and from the video, looks like the mainsail zips onto the mast like a windsurfer.
  • The weighted centerboard doesn't swing up into the hull but remains outside the hull when raised.
  • The blades, including the weighted centerboard, are made of the thermoplastic, which must be an engineering feat in itself to make them stiff enough.
  • There is a bow insert at the stem which will take most of the abuse of running into the docks.
  • And the price is an eye-popping low, low 6000 Euros (7620 USD at todays exchange rate). That doesn't include the assymetric kit.
Here is a video showing the rigging and sailing of the "Albatros".....

Group Finot's website makes no bones that there is a definite intent to market the "Albatros" worldwide.

For the American market, I see several problems, the main one being, the "Albatros" may be trying to cover too many market segments. To be a lightweight boat, it has low freeboard, which means this is a sit on boat. American families who daysail like higher freeboard and sit in bench seats. The transom sheeting for the mainsail is a non-starter; there is no American dinghy that uses transom sheeting. Americans like to tie their dinghies to the dock. I'm not sure how docile the Albatros is going to be tied to the dock with a full battened mainsail that isn't easily lowered unless you take the mast down.

Update: Romain adds a comment to say Group Finot have already addressed the issues I've listed above:
"According to one of the articles, the "transom sheeting" is supposed to evolve to a block centered in the boat. Also the mainsail will slide up the mast in a groove, the rudder will be reduced in size and the jib will have a furler...
This will modify a bit the boat from the prototype shown.
I do look forward to test sailing the "Albatros" when it arrives on American shores.

We did have one US class that explored the wide transom, scow hull with normal bow and that is the Johnson 18. Roger Martin, who had done some Transat designs, designed the Johnson 18 in 1994. Over a hundred were built until 1998 when the Johnson boatbuilding company folded. There is a small fleet at SSA and I intend to get a sail on one someday.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why Sailors Don't Like to Race

Let's face it, most sailors don't race, they like sailing as a lower stress sport. Ask those who prefer to daysail or putter about why they don't race and you get, "I don't know the rules", and "There's too much yelling" and "I'm afraid I'm going to hit someone".

Well what about some racing in traditional sail boats. Surely that's got to be more genteel. Like this video of the traditional Salcombe Yawls of England.

Wow, utter mayhem! The yelling is so loud you can hear it a couple hundred meters away, against the wind. Add a major dose of the wince factor as we watch the entire fleet try to criss cross each other, short tacking inshore, against the current. There is another video of the always interesting Salcombe Yawls buried back in the archives of this blog.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Top Insect Sailing Blog of 2011

Shucks Folks, I'm Speechless!

Tillerman once anointed me as the Internet #1 Sailing Dork.

And now, out of the blue, he went and did this.

When the Grand Poobah of sailing blogs; the prolific, witty, erudite, authoritative Tillerman gives you a thumbs up.......Wow!

I'm deeply honored. A Tip of the Hat to Tillerman, the older-than-I, but still young, coot of a Laser sailor.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Header Photo; Barnegat A-Cats

I "borrowed" this photo from Baydog (he's also added a photo of three Barnegat A-Cats to the title block of his blog ). Baydog (I think he's crewed on them) and even Tillerman know more about this traditional class than I do. From what I was able to garner from a quick trip around the Internet.....

  • The class traces their origins all the way back to the 1871 Toms River Cup, at that time, a run-what-you-brung regatta featuring the local workboats.
  • The wide, minimum draft catboat type is ideal for racing on the shallow Barnegat Bay and by 1896 the workboats had been eclipsed by purpose built racing craft.
  • The class as it is raced today is based around a 1922 Charles Mower design, the 28 footer "Mary Ann". The designer of the Star, Francis Sweisguth, also designed an A-cat in 1923 and today the fleet is a mix of original restorations and reproductions of these two designs.
  • The Barnegat A-cat has got one huge, bad-ass mainsail and they have lots of crew.
  • They look to have a very active fleet.

It dawned on me while looking at the bow shape of the Barnegat A-cat and reading about the Charles Mower heritage, that there is a strong connection with our local West River traditional design, the Chesapeake 20, but more on that for a later post.

Oh, and the Barnegat A-cat is also featured as the title photo over on the blog green Boats.