Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I've been to the Laser Training Center at Cabarete in the Dominican Republic several times.

Next winter they will have a new coach, Judith Krimski, who writes the Center of Effort blog.

I would really like to go back to Cabarete next winter, maybe with a group of local sailing friends.

Today I came across this photo. It's from a Facebook group set up for Laser sailors who were at Cabarete from 12-15 January this year and it was posted by Kristian Joos.

I have to say it brings back memories of what it is like sailing there. It's a very typical scene.


All of my posts about Cabarete can be found here.

East Coast Laser Road Trip - Ideas Needed

This morning I received the following email which speaks for itself. Please let David have your ideas in the comments. Even if you are not a Laser sailor you can surely help with the planned research project into beers of the US east coast! Thanks.

Dear Tillerman

A group of masters, GMs and one GGM, none of whom have ever done a laser campaign, would like to. We are all located in or close to Calgary, Alberta.

Very preliminary planning has produce some ideas, a motorhome, a driver willing to drive forever, and a trailer that will hold 6 lasers.

Our thinking so far is that our motorhome would tour either the east or west coast. Participants could travel with the motorhome or fly in to as many regattas as they want to participate in- most of our participants still work to feed their laser habit/addiction. Probably we would look for B&Bs, camp or hotels, as well as using the motorhome, for accommodation at regattas and on tour.

We are relatively familiar with the US west coast regattas, but not at all with the east coast, other than from your blog and regatta reports. One thought we had was to do the Florida Masters regattas and then move up the coast slowly, ending up at the Worlds at Cork next year. We would like to participate in both large and small regattas, and training nights, and dip inland from time to time. We plan to offer some Canadian Calgary hospitality wherever we go, and may be able to offer some race committee help. One research project in which there seems to be particular interest is local beers of the east coast.

Where should we go? Can you or your readers help us plan a route or suggest friendly regattas?

With thanks, and appreciation for Proper Course.


PS. The photo at the top of his post is NOT of the motorhome that the Canadians are planning to use. I'm sure many of my readers will know this particular vehicle already.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Four Years Ago Today

Four years ago today, 18 August 2010, this ad appeared on the Scuttlebutt Europe newsletter.
Global Sailing Limited
We are looking for enthusiastic and well established marine dealers to become national or multi national distributors in the European region for the Bruce Kirby designed Olympic Sailing Dinghy.

This well established brand has already attracted over 200,000 devoted sailors globally and its long term future remains extremely positive. Over 4500 new boats were produced in 2009. Further details will be available after receipt of your expression of interest. 
Contact: +61 458 800 651 kevinmccann.pte@gmail.com
I remember seeing it at the time and thinking it rather strange. The ad obviously refers to the Laser but I had no idea who Global Sailing Limited was. The country code for the phone number is for Australia. Why would someone in Australia be looking for dealers to sell Lasers in Europe? There was already a well-established Laser builder in Europe, Laser Performance Europe (LPE). And why was Global Sailing being so coy about actually calling the boat a Laser? And what would LPE think about someone from the other side of the world trying to sell Lasers in their territory?

So I sent off an email to the mysterious Mr McCann…
Dear Kevin,
I am doing research for an article I am writing about the Laser sailboat and I came across your item in the Scuttlebutt Europe newsletter, which said that Global Sailing Limited is looking for dealers to become national or multi national distributors in the European region for a boat which, judging from the description in the ad, can only be the Laser. 
I was wondering if you could give me some background on Global Sailing Limited, what business you are in today, who the principals are, whether you have any relationship with the current Laser manufacturers in any region, and how you acquired the rights to market Lasers in Europe. 
Look forward to hearing from you.
Never did get a reply.

Then in the spring of 2011 it all became clear. Bruce Kirby (the designer of the Laser) revealed that he had sold his design rights two and a half years previously to Global Sailing which is owned by the Spencer family of New Zealand and, by the way, the Spencers also own the Australian Laser builder. Then a dispute about the design rights and associated royalties arose between Global Sailing and LPE, the Laser class changed its rules so that LPE could carry on producing class legal Lasers, and Bruce Kirby ended up filing lawsuits against LPE and its owner and various sister companies and the Laser class and even ISAF.

I have no idea when this mess will all get sorted out. Apparently the lawyers for everyone involved are working away diligently (and billing all their clients I assume) and it's all supposed to go to trial some time later this year.

I think I'll go sailing. What else is there to do?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tie Breaker

There was a regatta last weekend.

It was a national championship.

The scores of the top two boats were…

A.  4 1 1 2 2 1
B.  1 2 2 1 1 2

The NOR said…

The low Point Scoring System, RRS Appendix A, will apply, modified ... as follows:
If five (5) or fewer races are completed, all scores shall be counted. If six (6) races are completed, a boat’s worst score shall be dropped.

Who won. A or B?

Do you think this is a fair outcome?


Do not attempt to write on both sides of the paper at once.

Bonus points for revealing what the crew of the non-winning boat did next.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

PaddleHand Review

At last…

Here it is….

The long-awaited…..

Proper Course PaddleHand Review!!!!!!

And I can confirm after exhaustive (not to mention exhausting) product testing of the PaddleHand on my Laser last Thursday... that it performs exactly as promised and I will never go sailing without it again.

I received a PaddleHand to review at the end of April and I took it with me sailing on 27 days in May, June and July. But not once on those days did the wind become light enough to require the use of a paddle.

Then in July I hurt my back so I didn't go sailing for a few weeks.

Finally this month I felt my back injury had healed enough for me to hit the water again. The weather forecast on Thursday promised a gentle 8 knots from the north, but the weather forecast was wrong. The wind died almost completely after I launched in Bristol so I got out my PaddleHand and paddled out from the mooring field into open water where some zephyrs were teasing me to sail. I did sail for an hour or so. Sort of. To say the wind was light, shifty, and variable would be a euphemism. But it felt good to be on the water again and sorta kinda moving. Then I had to use the PaddleHand again to return to the beach.

This is what it says about the PaddleHand on the PaddleHand website.

When using the PaddleHand I lay face down on the foredeck and paddled with it using my right hand. It seemed to be propelling me along quite nicely. Just for comparison purposes I tried paddling with my hand only, and it was way way slower.

On my way back to the beach after my sail I did a more scientific test. I used the PaddleHand to paddle a measured distance, from opposite the Thames Waterside Bar and Grill at the end of State Street to Quito's, another waterside restaurant, this one at the corner of Independence Park. (Don't ask why I measure distances on the water by using waterside bars as landmarks. I just do.) I would paddle for about 30 strokes and then let the boat glide for about 30 seconds or so. Then repeat. So a fairly relaxed effort. It's about a fifth of a mile from the Thames Waterside to Quito's (if you are relatively sober) and it took me about 6 minutes on the water. So by my calcuation that's about 2 mph.

It may not sound super fast but it's better than sitting around waiting for the wind to come. And one of these weeks after Tuesday night sailing when the wind has totally died and the sun is setting, the PaddleHand will help me beat all my sailing companions to the beer.

And after all, winning the race to the beer is what it's all about, isn't it?

Go to paddlehand.com and buy one. You too can be first to the beer.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Sailing in the Mistral

I know all of my friends going to the Laser Masters Worlds in Hyères in France this October are looking forward to sailing in the famous Mistral breezes. According to Wikipedia, which is never wrong...

The Mistral takes place each time there is an anticyclone, or area of high pressure, in the Bay of Biscay, and an area of low pressure around the Gulf of Genoa. When this happens, the flow of air between the high and low pressure areas draws in a current of cold air from the north which accelerates through the lower elevations between the foothills of the Alps and the Cevennes.

Wikipedia also has this map showing the force of the Mistral one day in November 2008.

And if you want to see what it is like to sail a small boat in the Mistral, here is a video of  Stu McNay and Graham Biehl in a 470 fighting the Mistral breezes to make it back into the harbor.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Downwind Laser Sailing Hyères

Only 59 days until the first day of racing at the 2014 Laser Masters Worlds in Hyères.

Are you going?

Are you ready?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Bad Winds

It's not widely known that Bruce Springsteen was part of the Laser sailing scene on the Jersey Shore in the early 1970s. He raced Lasers at all the clubs up and down Barnegat Bay even though he was never very successful.

New evidence has recently come to light about the origin of what is widely recognized as one of Springsteen's best songs, Badlands. At an estate sale last month in Freehold NJ, a New York music collector discovered what appears to be an early version of the lyrics of Badlands which were handwritten on the back of a copy of the sailing instructions for the 1975 Orange Coffee Pot Regatta at Surf City YC. They have not yet been authenticated but there seems little doubt that they are in Bruce's own hand and that the song was originally inspired by his frustrations as a Laser sailor.

Black flagged today, 
Trouble on the race course,
Got a head on collision, 
Smashin' up my boat worse,
I'm caught in a crosswind, 
That I don't understand.

I don't give a damn, 
for the same old mid-fleet scenes, 
I don't give a damn, 
for just the in betweens, 
Honey, I want the lead, I want clear air, 
I want to win right now. 

Talk about a dream, 
try to make it real 
You wake up in the night, 
with a fear so real, 
You spend your life racing
for a trophy that just don't come. 
Well, don't waste your time waiting, 

Bad winds, why do I get them every day?
Let the poor results stand 
As the price I've gotta pay.
Seems I'll never win the Coffee Pot
'Cos these bad winds are all I got.

Hiking on the boat
That will make your back burn.
Working on the Rules
till you get your facts learned.
Baby, I got my Rules
learned real good right now.

Last man wanna be fast
Fast man wanna win
And a winner ain't satisfied
till he wins everything.
I wanna sail out today 
I wanna find out what I got.

I believe in the tips that you told me
I believe in the boat that you sold me
I believe in my new sail
and I pray, that someday it may raise me
above these bad winds.

Bad winds, why do I get them every day?
Let the poor results stand 
As the price I've gotta pay.
Seems I'll never win the Coffee Pot
'Cos these bad winds are all I got.

For the ones who sail a Laser, 
Know a Laser is the best ride, 
And on a Laser you'll be glad you're alive 
I wanna find one race that ain't gonna screw me 
I wanna be the ace, 
I wanna spit in the face of these bad winds. 

Bad winds, why do I get them every day?
Let the poor results stand 
As the price I've gotta pay.
Seems I'll never win the Coffee Pot
'Cos these bad winds are all I got.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Where am I?

Where am I?

Or to be more precise, where was I? This photo wasn't taken today.

What year was it?

What is the event I am sailing in?

What was my result?

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Why Sunfish Are Better Than Lasers

Photo posted by Seth Cooley on Facebook.

Photo posted by Amanda Callahan on Facebook.