Saturday, December 31, 2016

Header Photo: Albacore Fleet on the Potomac River

The previous header photo was of the Albacore fleet from Potomac River Sailing Association racing in big breeze on the Potomac River. What is interesting about this photo is the long, low, hulking building in the background. That is the Pentagon - the center of America's military - as seen from the water. I have one other photo in my collection of sailing dinghies that features dinghies in front of a famous building - this photo of three Fireflies in front of the Houses of Parliament, which was given to me by an English team, racing in team races on Baltimore harbor.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Love, Sex and the Development of the Small, Recreational Boat

My good friend, Tom Price, sent along this 1904 cover illustration from Puck magazine (don't comment about the steering - realism is not the point of this painting). This cheesecake magazine cover is a good segue into a blog topic I've kept on the back-burner for a while; how romance and sex in late 19th century and early 20th century, that ever-present animal sex drive that spans all human history, pushed forward the design of recreational small boats.

The late 19th century was marked by increased urbanization, this combined with chaste Victorian mores on dating, left city couples with a suffocating romantic environment.  Enter the small craft, first the canoe, then the rowboat (and in Europe, the punt). Entrepreneurs set up boat rentals in city parks, along languid rivers, in protected bays. Boat-builders were re-designing the more utilitarian working hull shapes to accommodate neophyte boaters (but ardent couples). Canoes became wider, rowboats became shorter and more intimate. In this era, long before mass boat ownership, the boat rental business was hammering out the sizes that work for recreational small boats.

Article on canoes and love by Hunter Oatman-Stanford.

Marine historian John Summer organized a show at the Canadian Canoe Museum on love and canoes, featuring postcards he had collected over the years.

From a French postcard, a longer, rather skinny sharpie rowboat set up for two couples.

"Madame" a French rowboat from the 1880's (not sure if this is a reproduction or restoration) shows how the size had shrunk in this "courting" rowboat to somewhere around 4 meters, ideal for an intimate outing for one couple.

A risque postcard (for that time) of "Canoedling". With the lean of this canoe, the illustrator has subtly shown how tricky romance in a canoe could be.

From a postcard, a fleet of identical rowboats; Rod and Gun Club, Omaha, Nebraska. In what seems to be subliminal advertising, all the comely young women are manning the oars in this photo.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Music Whenever: Little Tybee "Quiet as a Sail"

A multi-layered, complex sound from an Atlanta band, "Little Tybee" creates this beautiful tune. The classy video is a world-wide travelogue featuring a compilation of on-location shoots featuring vintage GE portable radios. (A total of ten were sent out across the world to be filmed by volunteer videographers.)

I wonder why you were late
Why are we acting this way?
I remember you
Quiet as a sail as you followed me home
You walked over, shivering
We were covered in the snow
You dusted off my brim and I opened our door
Our white dove is overdue

I need some light in my veins
The color is starting to fade

Do you remember me?
guided by your song billowing through the trees
I walked over, whistling
but I could not compete
I rested in your notes and the color they threw
Our white dove is overdue
This can't be the end

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Seen at the 2016 Sailboat Show: Wrap-up

(Ed. Note: I repeat, this blog is not about timeliness.) (Way past) time to take the rest of my photos of the Annapolis 2016 Sailboat Show and package them into a wrap-up post on the 2016 event.

The Chris White designed Discovery 21 day-sailing trimaran (builders - Aquidneck Custom Boat Builders/Performance Multihulls). This is a 35 year old design being re-introduced in hi-tech (carbon fiber/honeycomb hulls). Hull weight was quoted at a stunning 340 kg. (750 lbs). If you want to put a lot of miles in for your afternoon sail, this tri should do it. (The Discovery 21 is the same concept as the Corsair Pulse 600 featured from the 2015 show.)

I've seen these interlocking plastic cubes  make up floating docks (Xinyi Floating Dock) but, at the show, in another demonstration of their versatility, these cubes were used to make a dry-sail dock for the J-70 keelboat.

Ronstan Shock, sheaveless blocks, was featured on the rigging photos of John Z's Classic Moth. Certainly for dinghies in lower load situations, this seems to be the lightest method of making up multi-part tackles or leading lines around.

The RS Quest family/school-training dinghy added some visual pizzazz this year with a color splash on the bench seats.

You can certainly build some swoopy deck-lines into the plastic boats. The Topper Topaz.

The webbing attachments to boom have been used by the skiffie crowd for some time and is now being seen on production boats (another photo of the Topper Topaz).

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Header Photo: International 12's Heading for the Rocks

The previous header photo is of two, 1914 design, International 12's, sailing toward shore, where the leeward 12 will, very shortly, have to call for water. I'll await for Romain Berard to fill me in on the details.

Music Whenever: Swingrowers "Via Con Me"

Electro-swing from the band Swingrowers, featuring clips from "Roman Holiday" starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. I'm sure the stunt driver(ess) enjoyed herself immensely when filming the scooter scene where Hepburn takes things into her own hands! (Enjoy that tuba bass-line!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

My Early Moths in Tandem; Photos taken around 2005

These photos are of two of my early Moths, taken about twelve years ago, doubled up on my trailer for a trip to the Brigantine Regatta. On top is my Classic Moth, the yellow Energizer, a modified Stockholm Sprite and on the bottom was my winged scow Moth, Flatoo-a-T. Back then, the Brigantine Regatta had a "Modern Moth" division for winged Moths and I gamely raced my scow in that division, with little success. If I remember correctly, my friend Bill Beaver, raced my Classic in a couple of races.

For some reason I made a set of custom fiberglass mudguards for this trailer (hence the blue color). Both of the Moths, the trailer, and the Ford Aerostar van are no longer in my possession (the van and trailer junked, the Moths sold off into oblivion).

The dent in the aluminum wing tube, visible in the photo, is where a fellow Classic Mothie rammed me head on (he was on port prompting an exchange of pleasantries).

The blogmeister in the yellow Energizer.

Click here for my original post in Earwigoagin about my scow Moth.

My story on my winged International scow Moth has disappeared from an International Moth website. I reprint it here.

Friday, November 25, 2016

OD-OY Review: The Elvstrom Junior Dinghy

Paul Elvstrom, who, for my generation, is the greatest racing sailor of all time, introduced this dinghy in the 1960's. About the same size and weight as the Philip Rhode's cat-rigged dinghy, the Penguin , it obviously had nowhere near the popularity of the Penguin - in fact I have never, in all my travels, come across this dinghy. It remains a ghost, an entry, 50-odd years ago, in the One Design and Offshore Yachtsman's magazine annual review of dinghies, nothing more. It would be very interesting if a reader could direct me to an extant example of an Elvstrom Junior.

[Update: 05/06/17] After this post had been up for six months, Mike Scott came across an ad for the Elvstrom Jr. that was posted on Facebook. I've chunked the ad into four pieces.

This photo of the Jr. car-topped on a Beetle shows clearly the outside buoyancy tanks.

Similar in size and weight to the Elvstrom Junior, the American Philip Rhodes Penguin (from this post).

And some geezer bloggers admiring a Penquin dinghy.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Seen at the 2016 Sailboat Show: The X-Cat "Multi-Sport"

Another engineering design marvel at the show was the X-cat.

The X-Cat is an Austrian import; a rowing, sailing catamaran that is designed to be easily broken down for transport or storage. Marketed as a "multi-sport" catamaran, one can buy four models: the base model which is just the catamaran (presumably with this model you would desire to add some low horse-power motor to get around with), a sailing model, a sliding seat rowing model with a conventional rear-facing seat and oar set-up, and a front-facing rowing model. The X-cat at the show was out-fitted with both the sailing rig and the front-facing rowing kit.

The X-cat website. (Note that the header photo on the website is actually a very slickly produced movie utilizing drone footage for all of the scenes. Click on the arrow.)

One of the X-cat hulls. Interesting to note was this riveted center seam which indicates the hulls are molded in 2 pieces and then assembled together. This makes sense as the brochure touts the hulls being entirely foam-filled (it doesn't appear to be the blown in type but rather custom molded foam pieces to match the hull shape). Also, according to the brochure, none of the base hull pieces weigh more than 17.5 kg, so the X-cat can be easily loaded onto roof-racks when broken down.

The front-facing bent oar system. The X-cat goes together with lots of custom push button fittings (no tools required). Obviously I couldn't witness an assembly of the hull - the brochure touts a time of 2 minutes, which seems a bit ambitious.

The X-cat is approaching the market that has been carved out by the brilliant Hobie kayak/trimarans, but from a fitness machine, higher performance angle than the Hobies which have found a large market in the fishing, kick-back, day-sailing crowd. From my quick look over of the X-cat at the Annapolis Sailboat Show, the X-cat is indeed a very high-quality product. The brochure mentions there will be some new E-power options in 2017.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Music Whenever: Jones "Melt"

Nothing complicated. Love song. Basic Lyrics. Good voice. Boppy beat. Smooth listening.

Jones - 'Melt' from Bullion on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Header Photo: Gary Gowan's Cate's Classic Moth

The previous header photo is of Gary Gowan's home-built, modified, Cates-design Moth. If memory serves, I think he has won two Gen I National titles with this Moth (note the wooden mast as well!). The Cates design was the most popular of the Classic American Moths of the 1960's, and examples keep popping up to this day, all over the U.S.. I've learned from conversations with old-timers that raced them as juniors that this design was much modifed; some having fuller bows, different chine configurations and so on. Gary's Cates has a wider transom.

For some reason, when I do a Google Search on Earwigoagin Header Photo, I get a good compilation of images from this blog.

Plans de dériveur classique Moth, Plans de voiliers classiques Moth

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Header Photo: Classic Moth E-City Nationals 2016

Darin McCauley

The previous header photo was taken by professional photographer, Darin McCauley, at this year's Classic Moth Nationals at Elizabeth City. If you look closely, you can see this photo was captured just a millisecond after the point of no return, witnessed by the still present trail of water coming off the tip of the daggerboard. (Also many thanks to Jay Yerkes for performing this difficult athletic maneuver so elegantly.)

I didn't make this year's Nationals because, for most of the summer, my head wasn't into racing. Turnout was off this year for the Nationals but the local fleets in Maryland and South Carolina are gaining strength with local regattas featuring 11 Classic Moths - so a bit of a trade-off.

I feature several other of Darin's excellent photos below. Just a quick plug for Darin, he writes;
"If you know of anyone who could use photographic coverage of any sailing event please let them know I'm available!"
To reach Darin McCauley -

Bill Boyle debuted his brand new woodie - a cedar-strip Europe Dinghy, one of two home-built Moths seeing their first Nationals. Bill is slated to build a second one over this winter. Click here for Bill's website on the Europe build.

Darin McCauley

John Zseleczky (on the right) debuted the second home-built woodie, his Y2K-mod Mistral, and finished 2nd overall. His build was documented here.

Darin McCauley

Blogger George Albaugh finished 3rd in the Gen 1 class with his Olympic Europe Dinghy. George's more complete report on the 2016 Classic Moth Nationals can  be found here.

Darin McCauley

Gary Gowan won the Gen I division in his home-built, woodie, modified Cates (he actually finished third overall which I think is a first for a Gen I since we started slotting the slower designs into their own division).

Darin McCauley

Finally, not a Darin McCauley photo, but one by John Z, of his new Moth with the race area on the Pasquotank River in the background.

John Zseleczky

Results of the 2016 Classic Moth Nationals. Congrats to Mike Parsons, the 2016 champion.

Skipper Races Hull Design
Mike Parsons 1,1,1,1,2,2,3,[3],2 Mistral
John Zseleczky 2,2,2,2,1,3,2,2,[3] (New) Mistral -Y2Kmod
Gary Gowans 5,4,4,5,3,4,7,6,[7] Cates - mod (Gen I)
Bob Patterson 6,5,5,3,4,8,8,[8],4 Patterson Shelley (Gen I)
Walt Collins 4,3,3,6,13,5,6,4,[13] Feather - mod Ventnor (Gen I)
George Albaugh 7,6,6,[7],5,6,4,5,5 Olympic Europe (Gen 1)
John Pugh 3,[13],7,4,6,9,9,9,6 Olympic Europe (Gen 1)
Joe Bousquet 13,13,13,13,13],1,1,1,1 Mistral
Zach Balluzo 9,8,9,8,7,7,5,7,[9] Mistral
Bill Boyle 8,7,8,9,8,10,10,[10],8 (New) Woodie Europe (Gen I)
Don Hewitt 10,12,13,13,12,12,[13],11,10 Olympic Europe (Gen I)
Jay Yerkes 13,13,12,10,9,11,DSQ,12,13 Mistral

For the first time in a while, there were no vintage Classic Moths racing in 2016. It is also interesting that 9 out of the 12 competing were wooden dinghies.

Monday, November 7, 2016

MASCF 2016 - A Franken International Canoe

I was set to drive over to St. Michaels for the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival, that first Saturday in October, to view the hodge-podge of small craft, most home-built, but it was a weekend of torrential downpours. Just before I was to get into my car for the one-hour trek to the Eastern Shore, I checked the weather radar and there was a blob of precipitation camped over St. Michaels. (The precipitation was caused by an offshore low which also has a tendency to flood the Festival site - boots required.) I cancelled my plans and stayed around the house, puttering on various projects.

In checking through the photos of the event it looks like:
  1. The rain was not as bad as it looked on the radar. It actually appears to have stopped for the sailing race.
  2. There was a very interesting Frankenboat - a modified Nethercott International Canoe hull.

This Nethercott looks suspiciously like one that was put together by my friend George Saunders - at least the color on the hull matches. In viewing the two photos I could find online, the new owner has converted this tricky, all-out racing, sliding seat singlehander to a multi-use recreational craft. The modifications I could spot were:
  1. The sliding seat has gone away, replaced by amas for stabiltiy.
  2. He has set up this craft for rowing. To do this he had to get rid of the daggerboard trunk and set it up with a leeboard.
  3. The jib on the IC has gone away. The rig is an unstayed, carbon, cat-rig with the option for an assymetric (note the fixed sprit).
  4. To fit the unstayed rig he needed to extensively modify the bow so we see a new cedar-strip foredeck with a large storage hatch. 

Unfortunately there are no photos I could find of this Franken-Nether-IC sailing which may indicate an engineering failure in one of the systems (for one, the beam with the amas and the height of the amas looks to be inadequate for a powerful sailing rig). An interesting concept though and hopefully I'll bump into this craft in the future.

"My love of Frankenboats can never be requited" - RLM

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Small Boat Sailing: Whither the Millennials?

As I mentioned in the previous post, the Millennials (ages 19 - 35 in 2016) are slowly turning the U.S. on their head. Specifically, they don't seem to be into owning big stuff. In the previous post I mentioned the Millennials are more apt to be in an apartment than a single family house with yard. They are not into cars like the previous generations. (WaPo had an interesting article about the hot-rod hobby turning definitely greybeard.) They are more urban than suburban and seem to embrace living small. Many reasons have been offered up for this cultural shift: the crushing burden of student debt in the U.S. has left the Millennial generation cash poor, and/or the Millennial generation is much more conscious of their environmental impact...

This past summer I had an interesting conversation with Mike O'Connor of the Larchmont YC V-15 fleet where he indicated that sailing dinghy ownership by Millennials was also down, particularly in the racing dinghies. He attributed this to several factors.

Burnout. Modern junior racing and college racing programs are high intensity sports. When a young sailor is subjected to eight to ten years of year round training, they are ready, upon graduation, to do something else for fun. If they do want to race, they want to show up on the dock with a life-jacket and race a boat they don't own.

Local focus. There is not the desire to travel long distances, boat in tow or car-topped, to support a class regatta. Travelling with your own sailboat to race against like sailboats is seen as more hassle than fun. (There is sometimes a fair amount of large stuff you need to own to travel, a large car, a trailer and you do burn a fair amount of greenhouse gasses for your weekend enjoyment.)

What would this trend mean in the future? An increase in community sailing programs with community owned boats? Yacht clubs forced to finance their own club-owned sailing fleet? A focus on local fleets and not so much on a national class? I'm not sure but I think the current popularity of the super-portable, easy to store, easy to rent, stand-up-paddleboards (SUP's) may be a harbinger of a future shift on how we approach dinghy sailing and racing.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Seen at the 2016 Sailboat Show: the Tiwal - an Engineering Marvel

The Tiwal is the French inflatable sailing dinghy. Tiwal has been shown at the Annapolis Show for the last couple of years, but I've quickly walked past the booth, dismissing it (from my hard hull, traditional dinghy perspective) as most likely a very slow-performing, oddity. Thus, the Tiwal never made it into an Earwigoagin post. Why post about the Tiwal this year? During the show, Tiwal had one of their dinghies out bombing around on Annapolis Harbor and, I must admit, the Tiwal sailed well, tacking easily and showing a good turn of speed. It's time to confront my prejudices and admit that there may be something to this blow-up sailing dinghy.

The Tiwal is a 3.2 meter (10 1/2 foot) scow, or in modern parlance, a fat stand-up paddleboard. (To my eye, the Tiwal looks like a small, modern version of the 1900 French scow, the Monotype de Chatou; though I doubt the designers actually referenced this vintage design.) An exoskeleton of interconnecting tubes and wings, support all the sailing bits; mast, daggerboard, rudder, skipper - one reason I find the Tiwal an engineering marvel. I was pressed for time so I didn't spend any time talking to the salesman at the booth; I just had time for a quick photo.

The trend in the United States is for the young to prefer to live in apartments or townhouses (something the Europeans have always done). Without a large yard to store large objects, the easy-to-store Tiwal may gain some inroads among millennials, who are trying to figure out how to go boating without worrying about where to stash a boat on a trailer.

The Tiwal official website

The following video is this years Tiwal Cup, which looks to be a fun-based regatta held in France.

2016 TIWAL's CUP from TIWAL on Vimeo.

George A. has a better camera and took a better shot of the Tiwal sailing in Annapolis Harbor, so I lifted the photo from his post on the 2016 Sailboat Show.

George Albaugh

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Header Photo: Shelley Moth - Side View

The previous header photo is the side-view that John Shelley, ex-pat Kiwi dinghy designer working in England, drew of one of his Moth designs (he had three variations) for a patent he was awarded for tortured ply construction. (There is no indication he ever exercised the patent.) In one of those what-if's, I've always wondered what would have happened if it had been the Shelley Moth that had exploded in Europe, instead of the Europa design, and it was the Shelley Moth that became the Womens Olympic Singlehander. The Shelley is a good example of the 1960's Australian/New Zealand plywood, single-chine dinghy and I've always felt that this design had a little more upside in heavy air performance compared to the Europe Dinghy.

Blog on a home build Shelley Moth over here.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Australian Sailfish Website Launched

The men who would be boys (or at least those Aussie blokes who at one point designed, built and raced the Australian Sailfish) emailed me to announce that they have set up a website (in development), all about the Australian Sailfish . I'm looking forward to see what they dig up about this very simple, very quick, very interesting Australian singlehander.

Click here to check out their website about the Australian Sailfish.

Earwigoagin posts about the Australian Sailfish here, here, and here.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Seen at the 2016 Annapolis Sailboat Show: The Singlehanders Waszp and VX Evo

Two new one-design singlehanders pushing the performance envelope were seen at the 2016 Sailboat Show.

The VX-Evo is designer Brian Bennet's addition to the long list of assymetric spinnaker singlehanders (the MX-Ray, the Devoti D-One, the RS 100, the Weta trimaran - have I left anyone out?). It is a big singlehander, 4.77 meters long, 1.7 meters beam with a big rig, approx 10 sq. meter main and a spinnaker about the same size. The VX-Evo seems designed for big Americans but the salesman also metioned that there were some couples interested in buying the boat and sailing two-up.

The VX-Evo is built by Ovington in England. As of the boat show there were definite plans to ship three containers to the U.S. for a total of 24 boats to jump-start the class.

I just got a chance to look down into the VX-Evo cockpit but you can see the wedge hull with max beam and chine continuing well aft for power. Price complete is $14 K USD.

VX-Evo Website

Video of the prototype being put through the paces. Interestingly there is no forestay (which allows the spinnaker to pop through on gybes) but there are sidestays.

The Waszp is the dialed back International Moth foiler designed by Australian Andrew McDougall. With a simple unstayed rig, foils that are sturdier aluminium, a heavier, less hi-tech construction, the Waszp comes in with a price around $10K USD. This is less than 1/2 of the price of the current International Moth - hence the description "Peoples Foiler". (I like the term "Volks Foiler" but I guess there would be legal issues with a certain German car company.)

The Waszp was sitting inside the Ronstan tent, surrounded by a crowd. I was able to poke my camera through to take a quick photo from the transom. The designer was busy talking to a rep from the U.S sailing magazine, Sailing World, as the Waszp is up for that mag's Boat of the Year Award - hence I didn't get to ask any questions.

Most present-day development of foiling seems to be on the catamaran platform. It will be interesting to see if this low cost Moth can bump up the popularity of foiling in the small singlehanded sector.

Waszp Website

Certainly from watching the videos the foiling performance of the Waszp seems very much Moth-like. Note the wishbone boom. I gather the angle of the wings can be altered to make it feel safer for a beginner. There are also various sail sizes offered.

WASZP in Japan from Hiroki Goto on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Music Whenever: Empire of the Sun "High and Low"

Some of the visuals of this music video have the Salvador Dali, trippy, psychedelic look of the album covers from the 1960's and 1970's. Way cool. We also have the psychedelic interspersed with a hippie troupe gallivanting through nature... so definitely a throwback.

However, the music is modern, dance club electronica.

High and Low - Empire of the Sun - Director's Cut from Roof Studio on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

U.S Sailboat Show: The Singlehander Wars in the U.S. Updated

I made it over to the U.S Sailboat Show last weekend. I took some photos with my older waterproof camera (my newer one died) which I'll post at some point. If you want photos now, go over to fellow Classic Mothie, George A's blog where he has put up a slew of photos of the Show.

Just a quick comment on the singlehander wars in the U.S. market, as gleaned from talking to the manufacturers reps at the U.S. Sailboat Show. (I've put the dinghies up in the order I visited their stands.)

Melges 14 - (Previous posts here, here and here.) Around one hundred Melges 14's have been built with about half of them going overseas (interest is strong in Germany and Italy). Nearly all of the U.S Melges 14's are in the Midwest, the backyard of Melges Boatworks. There was no racing schedule this past year but the class did hold their first regatta at Lake Max, Culver, Indiana this past weekend. (Video from the class Facebook page.) My feeling, in talking with the Melges salesman, is they are angling the Melges 14 towards a more general purpose crowd, particularly with their large cockpit (though the 14 is certainly racy enough.) For a mid-winters, there is some thought at piggy-backing a Melges 14 regatta off a Melges 24 regatta in Florida.

RS Aero - (Previous posts here and here.) I hadn't realized that Zim Sailing had become the East Coast rep for RS Sailing (evidently this happened last year just after the Show) and the RS boats were featured  on the Zim Sailing stand at this year's show. The RS Aero is a clear leader in quantity, hundreds have been built (I forgot to ask for a specific number), there is a strong presence in Europe and the RS Aero can be found in ones and twos in most areas of the U.S. (but surprising, no activity yet in the Annapolis area). The big concentrations of RS Aero activity in the U.S. are the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast where there are some nasceant fleets and organized racing. For more detail on RS Aero activity, there is no better place on the InterWebs than to click over to Tillerman's blog.

There you have it; the RS Aero is gaining a foothold in the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast, the Melges 14 is percolating in the Midwest. If you were taking a round-about tour of the U.S., you would more likely bump into an RS Aero than a Melges 14. (But a RS Aero or a Melges 14 sighting would still remain very rare, as it remains true today, nearly every yacht club in the U.S. has some number of Lasers kicking around the dinghy park.) Unlike the Laser, which exploded on the U.S dinghy scene in the 1970's, given the factors at work in 2016, I would expect these new singlehanders to chart a more gradual acceptance into the sailing scene.

Addendum October 20, 2016: Tillerman left a comment indicating I am under-reporting the numbers and activity of RS Aero sailing in the U.S. I've moved his comment over to the main post.
"Thanks for the update on the RS Aero and the plug for my blog.

"I believe over a thousand RS Aeros have been sold worldwide, and the biggest countries by sales are UK, US and Germany in that order. About 150 have been sold in the US. In the first year, boats were sold in 39 countries on 4 continents - not sure of the latest numbers.

"You are correct that there are active RS Aero fleets in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest. There are also fleets in southern California, Florida and Texas. The RS Aero scene in Texas is really heating up with 14 RS Aeros already registered for the Wurstfest Regatta next month. There were 4 RS Aero regattas in New England this year with 16 and 17 boats at a couple of them. And there were 35 RS Aeros at the US Nationals at the Columbia River Gorge this year.

"There will definitely be two RS Aero regattas on back-to-back weekends in Florida this winter, and early indications are that attendance will be in the 20s at least.

"The RS Aero has World Sailing international class status now and the first RS Aero Worlds will be at Carnac in France next year.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

505 Classic Moth

Continuing with the 505 theme, the image above is one that ever-vigilant Neil Kennedy plucked from the Web. It is buried deep within a very interesting article on 505 designer John Westell, written by British historian David Henshall, found on the Yachts and Yachting website. The image is the lines drawing, the waterlines and buttocks of a Classic Moth that John Westell designed on his 505 theme. (No date is given for the design but it would be safe to assume sometime in the 1960's.)

I initially thought this design would not have met the 1 inch (25mm) hollow rule the class had in the 1960's (and a rule that our modern Classic Moth class still retains) but on second look it seems that John Westell did meet the rule (the rule applies aft of the daggerboard trunk and John did reduce the gunwhale flare to what looks to be legal limits in the back of this Moth).

Speed-wise this design does not offer any advantages to our current Gen 1 race-horses (the Shelley, the Europe, the Cates) but for someone who wanted to build a lovely mini-505 and race Classic Moths, this would be a very interesting and welcome addition to our polyglot group.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

String Pullers Convention: The 505 East Coast Championship

I was reminiscing in a email exchange with Kiwi Neil Kennedy about the string puller classes; those dinghy classes that seem to have a mind-bending assortment of rope controls to tweak everything. The old Olympic double-hander, the Flying Dutchman comes to mind as good example. These dinghy classes were more prevalent in the 1960's and 1970's and also can be found in the modern sailing world in other dinghy cultures, such as the English... not so much in the United States... except for the always interesting 505 class. I closed the email saying the 505's were coming to town for their East Coast Championships in September and I would try to get some photos of "string".

I was able to wander around the SSA dinghy park before the event started and did get some photos. Many of these systems photographed below I saw on the old International 14's of the 1970's and 1980's. However, on the modern 505 they have been refined to the Nth degree, using modern materials so they work flawlessly.

This 505 had a condensed user manual electrical-taped on the aft starboard seat tank. I asked the crew about it and he said it was from the previous owner - they didn't abide by the instructions but kept it around anyway.

This 505 dispensed with the jib tracks on the inside of the tank and replaced it with a floating jib lead adjustment using thin spectra line (possibly to bring the lead further inboard - I didn't ask).

The ultimate. Supposedly a German dinghy fitter takes a bare Rondar 505 shell and this is what you get back. Note the hoop center main on a traveler. This allows weather sheeting of the main when you really want to twist off the top leach without having the rest of the leech sag off too far. One other advantage of such complexity in the middle of the boat; you can concentrate more weight in the center and get around the corrector rules.

An older 505. You can tell it has been much modified by the multiple filled screw holes on the centerboard cap. This is an over-under mainsheet/vang control/cleat (mainsheet on the top, vang on the bottom).

The German fitted 505 didn't use a mast ram at the gooseneck. Pre-bend of the mast was controlled by moving the shrouds fore and aft on a shroud track. The 505 mast rake can be adjusted throughout the race. With this set-up, the multi-purchase system used to tension the shrouds is out in the open and not buried inside the mast ring frame. Usually shroud tension on these dinghies requires something like a 36-1 purchase system.

The control console on the German 505. I didn't ask about specific functions of each string shown.

The modern 505 has twin spinnaker poles, slung on each side of the boom. This allows the crew to jibe the spinnaker without ever having to clip the spinnaker pole onto the mast or the spinnaker guy onto the pole - everything is done by pulling a string. This is the custom twin pole fitting on the mast.

Twin carbon spinnaker poles on a 505 where the boom is not yet placed on the gooseneck. When the pole is launched the spinnaker guy is automatically sucked up into the pole.

There are still very competitive wood-decked Lindsay 505's from the 1980's, albeit fully upgraded with the modern kit. The class now allows carbon booms but still requires an aluminum mast.

Some other posts featuring the 505 from the Earwigoagin memory bank.