Sunday, February 01, 2015

Super Post MMMXII

America is a strange place. Even after living here for over 25 years there are still lots of things I don't understand.

In many ways, Americans at first seem perfectly normal and rational and reasonable. For example they use Arabic numerals for almost everything, like most normal countries do. 

As in...

 the US population is 319,916,609
or the national debt is $18,084,817,920,826
or the 45th President of the United States might be...

"seriously interested in running"

But one Sunday in January they go crazy and start using Roman numerals to refer to how many times the Cup Final of the sport they call football has been played. Today, I believe that a team from Foxboro in Massachusetts and a team from Seattle in Washington are playing a game in Glendale Arizona. And it is Cup Final number XLIX.

Quick. Did you read that as "49" as fast as you could read it if it actually said "49"? If you say yes, you are American.

Oh sorry. They don't call it the Cup Final either. They call it the Super Bowl. Apparently it is named after the Wham-O Super Ball.  (You can google it if you don't believe me.)

It put the Super in Super Bowl

But that doesn't explain why it's also a bowl.

A bowl

Anyway, today's game is Super Bowl XLIX.

You see, the first Super Bowl was played in MCMLXVII and this year is MMXV so all you need to do is work out MMXV - MCMLXVII + I to know that today is Super Bowl XLIX.

Can you believe that the Romans built all those coliseums and aqueducts and stuff like that which are still standing MM years later, when they had to do all the arithmetic with numbers like MCMLXVII?

An aqueduct built with Roman arithmetic
Still there

I don't even know how they could work out the wages of the average aqueduct stonemason if they had to do sums like XLVII hours times XXIV denarii. That's no way to run a wages department

Anyway, American football fans can do the math.  Good for them.

That's why this post is Super Post MMMXII. I have now published MMMXII posts in this blog since I started it in MMV.

Did you see that I achieved a grand total of LXXI days on the water last year? It's XXIX days short of C and not as many as the XCIV I achieved in MMVIII but, hey, I'm not getting any younger. I'm LXVI you know.

So why do Americans use Roman numerals to number their Super Bowls? They didn't always. The first four Super Bowls were just numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4.

But then some bright spark decided that the fifth one should be called Super Bowl V. Apparently it was supposed to make the event sound more "important."

I guess it worked.  XLIV years later, it seems like Super Bowl Sunday is the most important day of the year for many Americans, rivaled only by Flag Day and Columbus Day. And American businesses pay a gazillion dollars for XXX seconds of TV ad time during the (many and frequent) commercial breaks in the Super Bowl. (Apparently the Romans didn't have a letter for a gazillion.)

So I hope all of my American friends have a wonderful time on Super Bowl Sunday whichever team they support.

But guess what. Next year's Super Bowl is not going to be Super Bowl L. It's going to be Super Bowl 50.

Go figure.

America is a strange place. Even after living here for over XXV years there are still lots of things I don't understand.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Paige Railey Looks Cool in Sailing Helmet

Paige Railey (USA) after winning the medal race at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Miami today, a result good enough to place her 4th overall in the regatta.

Paige was injured in a biking accident last year and was forced to miss the major sailing events in the latter part of 2014. Her first regatta after the accident was the Lauderdale Olympic Classes Regatta earlier in January, which she won.

Congratulations to Paige and best wishes for continued success in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics.

And there's an even better photo of Paige looking cool in a sailing helmet here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


"My name is Oli Tweddell, and I sail for Australia."

Watch the video. Is this hard core… or what?

Baydog says it's on his bucket list to sail a Finn - like Oli.

Should I challenge Baydog to a Finn race?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Happy Frogma Day

10 years ago today, 20 January 2005, a lady started a blog…

The first line of the first post was, "I am a sea kayaker."

And the title of that post was what's a frogma?

10 years on Frogma is still going strong.

The author styles herself as Bonnie K. Frogma but I have a sneaking suspicion that that name may not be exactly her real name.

Bonnie describes her blog as "The Continuing Adventures of a Woman and her Trusty Kayak in New York Harbor, the Hudson River, and Beyond (with occasional political rants just to keep things lively!)

It's much more than a kayaking blog. There's music. There are lots of photos of NYC and other places to which Bonnie travels. There's food. Lots of food. Especially spam.

And other good stuff. Even some sailing occasionally. Always interesting. Always entertaining.

Frogma has been a real inspiration to me in my own puny blogging efforts. So, in honor of Bonnie's ten years of blogging success, let us all celebrate in traditional kayaker style by putting on neoprene helmets and dunking our heads in ice-cold water.

I declare that 20 January shall henceforth be known as Frogma Day.

Monday, January 19, 2015

RS Aero Spotlight - Ultra-light!

Just in case we hadn't yet appreciated how much lighter the RS Aero is than certain other older designs of mass-market single handers, here is another spotlight video from RS Sailing about that topic.

I was interested to see how the sailors in the video were carrying the Aero on their car the right way up with dolly attached and with the rig etc. inside the boat. Never seen that before with those "older designs of mass-market single handers."

And for all of my readers who are native French speakers (or know how to use Google Translate)  here is a link to an interesting (and long) discussion about the new single handers - Aero, D-Zero, Melges 14 - on Forums Breizhskiff. Apparently one of the contributors Cédric F reads this blog. At least I think that's what, "Je suis fan du blog de ce laseriste (et futur Aeronaute ?)" means. And it also explains why I have been getting lots of hits lately on my post about the RS Aero Rigging Guide which Cédric F apparently doesn't entirely agree with.

Hmmm. Maybe I should change the blurb in the "Who am I?" box on my sidebar to "Laseriste et futur Aeronaute?"

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Laser? RS Aero? Melges 14? Finn???? Foiling Moth?????? 

Too many choices.

Sailing is too complicated.

What I really need is a Quadrofoil.

The blurb says...

Quadrofoil is an electric hydrofoiling personal watercraft (PWC), which provides the most economically efficient and completely environmentally friendly mode of recreational marine transportation. Due to hydrofoiling and patented steering technolog, riding feels like flying onwater and provides an entirely new and thrilling water experience.
The watercraft operates quietly and doesn’t produce any waves or emissions, which makes it suitable for lakes, rivers, seas as well as marine protected areas, where most motor boats and personal watercrafts are prohibited. It has a top speed up to 40 km/h (21 knots) and a range of up to 100 km (54 nautical miles) and can be fully charged in under 2 hours.

I need one.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Is the Melges 14 a Clone of the Australian NS 14?

Melges 14


One of my readers says that the Melges 14 is "close enough to be a clone" of the Australian NS 14 dinghy. Apparently some of the NS14s are sailed single-handed with mainsail only.

What do you think?

Melges 14

Fear not dear reader, I am not going to be attempting to master the foiling Moth, in spite of what you may have read earlier this week on this blog and in certain rash statements in the Twitterverse. I know my limits.

But I can definitely see myself adding another single hander to the Tillerfleet in 2015. Something a bit more modern in design than my Laser (which I will not be abandoning either.) The RS Aero made quite a splash in the UK last year and I was able to test it out when I visited Minorca Sailing in October. Some friends and I have deposits down on RS Aeros and are eagerly awaiting the day when we can have a demo in New England waters and perhaps join others in building a local fleet.

But now there is the Melges 14 - another entry in the 13-14ft single hander market, and this time from an American manufacturer. Looks like they are launching it at the Chicago Boat Show this week.

We could debate the technical merits of the RS Aero and the Melges 14 - and no doubt we will on various online forums if nowhere else. But there are other questions. Is there room for two new single-handers in the US market?  If Melges concentrate on their home market in 2015 (as RS Sailing did with their home market - the UK- with the Aero in 2014) will the Melges 14 outsell the Aero in the US and become the defacto new generation single-hander here, whether or not it is technically superior?

The game is on.

Here's a video.

What do you think?