Saturday, October 10, 2015

Are Yacht Clubs Offensive?

Are yacht clubs offensive?

According to Pitzer College in Claremont, California, the answer is yes.

Last week, the student Senate at Pitzer voted to deny instating a yacht club at the school "as the majority of Senators found the name 'yacht club' to have a particularly offensive association with yacht clubs and a recreation known for being exclusive," according to Taylor Novick-Finder, a Pitzer College Senator.

Watch the video.

What do you think?

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Sailing in Newport

The weather is starting to feel a lot cooler.

We have had strong winds all week.

Summer has gone.

I wonder when we will see the first snow?

It's time to start looking forward to sailing Lasers in Newport in the winter.

Only 4 more weeks until the start of the season.

Can't wait!

I Love Winter

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Barcelona - Crash and Burn!

NACRA 17s European Championship in Barcelona.

Strong winds.

Lots of capsizes.

Broken gear.

Did she say "logs" on the race course?

Looks like a lot of fun.

Maybe I need a NACRA 17?

Or perhaps there's an RS Aero regatta in Barcelona soon?

Update Oct 1: Day 3 - no racing due to high wind and waves.
                     Day 4 - no racing due to no wind at all.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Baydog's Next Boat

Hey Baydog, check this out.

Colie Sails, based in beautiful downtown Point Pleasant, NJ, is now advertising on their website that they have RS Aeros for sale.

That's just down the road from you.

Oh shit, now I've mentioned it on my blog, some of my other readers in NJ are probably going to be going to Colie Sails to buy RS Aeros too. Then all those sailors' friends will see how much fun they are having in their RS Aeros and before you know what's happened all the cool kids (of all ages) on Barnegat Bay will be sailing RS Aeros and there will be RS Aero regattas up and down the Jersey Shore and somewhere like Brant Beach Yacht Club will be running the RS Aero Atlantic Coasts and there will be 70 boats entered...

Move fast Baydog. You need to head down there today and buy an RS Aero before they are all sold out. Even better, give Clay Johnson a call and reserve your RS Aero right now.

Let me know when you have your RS Aero and I promise I will come to New Jersey and sail with you.

This could be you Baydog

Wait, is that a girl?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

66th Annual Massapoag Yacht Club Regatta - Day 1

The winds were light. The fleet was small. But the enthusiasm was high and the competition was intense in the RS Aero fleet at the Massapoag Yacht Club 66th Annual Regatta last weekend.

“Massapaog” is an Algonquin word meaning “large water with crazy swirling winds where I waited for you in the rain and we ate lobsters and ice cream and drank cold beer.”  Really.

Totally gratuitous photo of pretty girl waiting in the rain

As well as the 5 RS Aeros, this popular and friendly multi-class regatta also included fleets of 9 Lasers, 20 Sunfish, 13 Flying Scots and 4 Day Sailers, so it was a perfect opportunity to showcase the RS Aero to 63 sailors who had not yet realized that they really needed to buy an RS Aero.

The club had imported a crack PRO to run the races, and at the skippers’ meeting on Saturday morning, he made it clear that he welcomed input from the sailors and asked for our thoughts on everything from what minimum wind speed we would like to race in, to what courses we would prefer. We even took a vote on how many penalty turns we wanted to do if we broke one of those pesky rules. After a confusing and impassioned debate about different options for “in the zone” or “out of the zone,” and for collisions or “not collisions,” and for “it really wasn’t my fault I didn’t mean to hit you,”  the motion for “keep it simple, one turn for everything” was passed by a large majority. It was just as well that we had a lengthy and entertaining skippers’ meeting because there was no wind on the lake and it helped to pass the time.

Impassioned debate about one turn vs two turns.
Federalists were for a national bank, being nice to Brits, and two turns. 
Democratic-Republicans were for states' rights and two turns only in the zone.

An apology was relayed by the regatta chairperson from one of the top Sunfish sailors who couldn’t make the regatta because he had a “plumbing problem.” We all wished that the solution to his problem wouldn’t be too painful and that he would make a speedy recovery.

After the skippers’ meeting there was still no wind on the lake so we settled into a morning of chatting with the other sailors, catching up with old friends, and making new friends - which is of course the main reason we go to regattas on inland lakes anyway. 

After one of the most severe winters in living memory in New England it was natural that the conversation would touch on the blizzard of the century, the record snow fall, the boats crushed under the snow, how late the last bit of snow melted etc. etc. Unfortunately one of the Laser sailors came from New Hampshire. (For the geographically challenged that is north of Massachusetts and goes all the way to Canada.) So the guy from New Hampshire could trump any snow story we wimps from the deep south of Rhode Island and Massachusetts could plausibly invent. 

 Worst day of winter according to guy from Massachusetts

Average winter day according to guy from New Hampshire

Meanwhile my charming and persuasive son (who has been sailing an RS Aero for all of 3 weeks) was explaining to many of the 63 sailors unlucky enough not to own an RS Aero why they really needed to buy one right now.

Around 11am the wind on the lake picked up a little. The RC took to the water. Most of the sailors took to the water. A few of the most cynical sailors (including me) stayed on land. The wind died. All the sailors came back to shore. Cynicism ruled.

Lunch was served.

After lunch there was still no wind.

About 2pm a few sailors launched and drifted around the lake. I decided to join them in my RS Aero, mainly because I was getting tired of being out-played at the game of “my snow was deeper than your snow” by the guy from New Hampshire. Some Sunfish sailors decided to have an informal race around some blue and yellow object on the opposite shore. 

Apparently while I was drifting around, the PRO and the sailors at the club took a vote on whether (a) to go racing anyway even though there was no wind and (b) to delay the lobster and ice cream dinner if necessary. Both motions passed because, by some quirk in the the American voting system, it was ruled that all the sailors drifting around aimlessly on the lake were actually voting in favor of both motions. Huh?

American voting system

So everyone (except for the usual cynics) launched and drifted around the lake for another hour or two in what was obviously not enough wind to go racing. I told anyone within earshot that the mere fact that I had been drifting around in 0-1 knots in my RS Aero did NOT mean that I would have voted to race in those conditions (let alone delay my dinner.)  

All the Sunfish sailors who had raced to the blue and yellow object on the far shore seemed to be staying there. Those of us still “sailing” surmised that the blue and yellow object must be a hot tub and that the Sunfish sailors were frolicking in the hot tub in the nude. How else could be the Sunfish class still be so popular?

Photo of naked Sunfish sailors frolicking in a blue and yellow hot tub
What the ...? 
Google censored it?

Then magically, it happened. Just out of nowhere, about 4 o’clock, the wind picked up to about 8-10 mph from the east and we were racing. Glory be to Gitchi Manitou! (That’s Algonquin for yee-how!)

Gitchi Manitou and some other god

The race committee signaled for a Gold Cup course (triangle-windward-leeward-downwind finish) and we were off and racing. Yee-how!

The star of Saturday’s racing in the RS Aero fleet was definitely "Bob," who won the first race and was second in the second race. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent.) 

"Bob" is the coach for the high school sailing team who train on Lake Massapaog, and he lives in a house on the lake. He has been a member of Massapoag YC since the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt (or thereabouts.) Put it all together and "Bob" knows the foibles and intricacies of the winds on this lake better than almost anyone else on the planet. Plus he is about 50lbs lighter than fat boys like me so I had definitely picked him as “most likely to succeed” in a light air regatta at MYC.  

"Bob" is 5th from the left in the back row

At the end of the day "Bob" was leading the RS Aero fleet with 3 points, closely followed by the other two members of the Boston Aero fleet, Email Dude on 4 points, and Tillerman (me) on 5 points.  At the end of the day I was just hoping I could hang on to third place.

Hanging on by my fingernails to third place

After hitting the beach we went straight to the cocktail party, where everyone told totally unbelievable stories about the day’s racing and enjoyed the delicious range of hors d’ouevres served by the club. Most of the ladies had dressed up for the evening festivities and I hardly recognized some of them with their clothes on. And then the dinner was served with lobster and ice cream and all sorts of other good eats and we all drank way too much and talked way too much and knew we would have a hangover in the morning.

Here endeth the first day. Glory be to Gitchi Manitou!  

Friday, August 21, 2015


Please welcome Moana, the next Disney princess - a Polynesian sailor and navigator.

Monday, August 17, 2015

More Moth Porn from the Gorge

No apologies...

I still haven't got over my obsession for the Columbia River Gorge that I caught three weeks ago.

And I could watch the Moths for hours. So hypnotic.


American Exceptionalism


I never knew that the rest of the world had all gone Celsius.

Thanks to Fascinating Maps @BestWorldMaps on Twitter for the map.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

International Moths at the Gorge

This weekend it is the Total Domination IPA International Moth US Nationals at the Columbia River Gorge.

How about a slalom course for the RS Aeros next year at the Gorge?

For that matter how about Total Domination IPA as a sponsor?

Saturday, August 08, 2015

RS Aero Capsizes - Mission Accomplished

It was getting to be a bit weird.

Prior to the RS Aero North Americans in Oregon a couple of weeks ago I had sailed an RS Aero about 18-20 times, but I had never had an unintentional capsize.

I had done some deliberate capsizes in order to make sure I knew how to do capsize recoveries. But in all those days of sailing the RS Aero I had not capsized accidentally once.

My two friends in the Boston RS Aero fleet had lost their capsize virginity almost as soon as we had our our own RS Aeros back in May. But not me.

Maybe you could say that if I never capsized I wasn't trying hard enough. You could be right. Whoever you are.

My streak had to end some time...

I have to admit that the ease (or not) of doing capsize recoveries in an RS Aero was one of the things I was most concerned about before committing to buying the boat.

When I tested out the RS Aero in Minorca last October, I reserved one session just to check out capsize recoveries, partly because I heard that the sailors there were having difficulty with it.

Sure enough, as I wrote about in RS Aero - Capsize Recovery, I discovered that I couldn't get back into the boat over the side; I had to re-enter over the transom. And I also found that if I let go of the capsized boat it sailed away from me at an alarming speed. Having said that, the boat in Minorca didn't have grab rails and that feature on the production boats would surely help with side entry. And the boat in Minorca did have a mast head float which prevented it from turning turtle, which would probably be a good thing if some aged sailor was swimming to catch up with it.

So I still had reservations about the boat after Minorca...

When I returned from Minorca, I read on the RS Aero class website some excellent posts about capsize recoveries in the Aero and watched some videos on the same topic.

There were some specific techniques that were different from what would work in the Laser. Go to the front of the daggerboard so the gunwale is not so far to reach. Grab the daggerboard near the boat - because if you grab the end you will never reach the gunwhale. Use a leg kick to aid re-entry. Use the grab rail. Put the boat sideways to the wind and sheet in a little to prevent the boat from coming over on top of you in a side re-entry. And if you really are too heavy to do an over-the-side re-entry then use the transom.

Even so I wondered how easy capsize recoveries would be for someone my weight (and age and general lack of fitness.)

So when my friends and I had access to The Boat Locker's demo RS Aero back in March I did do  some practice capsize recoveries in the frigid waters of Newport harbor. I never did succeed in doing an over-the-side re-entry but coming back in over the transom seemed to work OK.

So now I was confident I knew how to do capsize recoveries in an RS Aero.

Except doing controlled capsize recoveries in light air is not quite the same thing as doing them in heavy air, or after an unexpected capsize.

My confident was dented a little more when my friend and I were out practicing at Lake Massapoag early in the season on a day when it was gusting up to 30 mph. I didn't capsize but my friend did and he was in the water for ages. At one point he lost contact with the boat and it blew away from him downwind. I was standing by in my Aero but could provide no real assistance. Eventually I decided to sail back to the club and come out in a safety boat or perhaps even call the emergency services. And just as I started back to the club, he managed to get the boat upright and climb back in it.


At the regatta in May both my friends capsized their RS Aeros (and did reasonably efficient recoveries.)

But I didn't.

My streak of no unintentional capsizes continued through the summer.

It got to be a joke.

I didn't like to draw attention to it or for other people to mention it. It might bring bad luck...

And then my luck ran out at the Gorge!

At the clinic on Friday, Peter Barton talked us through capsize recovery techniques. Useful refresher.

I did OK in the first race on Saturday. More or less in the middle of the fleet.

In the second race, on the third reach of the Z course, which was fairly broad, another RS Aero and I were sailing downwind on starboard tack when I saw an I-14 coming upwind on starboard on what looked like a collision course with the other RS Aero. I shouted a warning at the the other Aero sailor (who didn't seem to have seen the I-14 ) and headed up myself to get out of the way of both of them. In the process my boat broached and I disappeared under the water. When I surfaced I saw that the other two boats had somehow managed to avoid killing or maiming anybody or sinking either boat, and I proceeded to do a successful capsize recovery using all of those tips I had learned on the RS Aero Class website and from Peter.

Woo hoo! No longer a capsize virgin! I did it! I really was quite pleased with myself, even though my slow and deliberate capsize recovery had cost me a lot of places in the race.

I have noticed before that after capsizing once in a regatta, it somehow seems "easier" to keep on capsizing. I'm sure it's some mental deficiency of mine. One of many.

And sure enough in the third race I capsized at a gybe mark. Did another successful recovery. Woo hoo! Definitely pushed me way down the fleet though.

The wind kept on building and in the fourth race I capsized while trying to bear away at the windward mark. Woo hoo! The hat trick!

After doing my third capsize recovery of the day I was feeling pretty tired and...

  •  was wondering if I would have the energy left to do another recovery
  •  was pretty much at the back of the fleet already
  •  and I was lot closer to the launch area than the finish line.

So I retired from the race and sailed back to the beach.

As it turned out that was the last race of the day anyway.

Not a great day from the perspective of my scores, but at least I mastered one essential skill!

Mission accomplished!