Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Joe Berkeley and Carbon Upper Envy

Joe Berkeley
Photo by Stuart Streuli

One of my favorite writers of regatta reports is Laser sailor, Joe Berkeley.

Every regatta he goes to he seems to be able to write an original and fascinating report full of humorous observations and personal anecdotes about the sailors he competes with such as Peter Seidenberg, Christine Neville and Peter Shope.

Not only that, his reports always seem to be published on the Internet a few hours after the regatta is completed.

How does he do it?

Well Joe, among other things, is a highly successful professional freelance writer. But, even so, the quality and timeliness of his regatta reports are impressive, and set a standard that the rest of us can only dream of attaining.

This weekend was no exception.

Joe sailed his Laser in the New England Laser Masters at Wickford RI.

I sailed my RS Aero in the Massapoag YC Annual Regatta in Sharon MA.

Around 9 o'clock on Monday morning I settled down with my third cup of coffee and wondered if I could summon up the energy to write a regatta report for the RS Aero class. I really should. I am the Aero fleet captain for the host club after all. But what should I say? What to leave in and what to leave out? Can I find something interesting and new to say about each of the Aero sailors at the regatta? Ideas were jumbling around in my head and I couldn't work out how to organize them.

WWJBD. What would Joe Berkeley do?

I decided to waste some time checking Facebook.

What's this?

Another brilliant regatta report from Joe Berkeley - with photos - and filed at 8:14pm on Sunday evening! How does he do it?

I read Joe's report and had to chuckle at the penultimate paragraph where he reported on an issue that seems to be troubling the local Laser sailors...
From the grass roots level, the cry was heard, "Where, oh where is the carbon fiber upper?" There is a feeling amongst the group that the carbon fiber upper could outlast numerous top sections, marriages, and careers. It could be a cradle to grave deal. You're born, you get a carbon fiber upper that is with you through all of life's ups and downs. You never have that sad feeling of breaking an upper in half, tearing a sail and being towed back to home port.
Joe is referring of course to the Laser's aluminum upper mast section. It had been a windy regatta and I am guessing that a number of the sailors ended up with bent upper mast sections, or even one or two broken ones.

Been there. Done that.

It happens.

It's a feature of the Laser.

And for years there has been discussion about a new carbon fiber upper mast section for the Laser but nobody seems to know if, or even whether, it will hit the market.

And then it struck me.

Since May of 2015 I have been sailing with a carbon fiber upper.

And a carbon fiber lower. And a carbon fiber boom.

I don't have to worry about those Laser sailing bent spar problems any more.

No more carbon upper envy for me.

I putzed around the rest of the day and finally managed to cobble together a regatta report by 6pm.

I posted it on the class Facebook page.

And I see that someone put it up on the Yachts and Yachting website.

But Joe Berkeley could have done a much better job.

We really need Joe Berkeley in the RS Aero Class.


Anonymous said...

Hi Tillerman,
I was one of the sad souls at Wickford on Sunday who did in fact snap a mast.
I had the finish line in my sight and suddenly I heard a loud very depressing crunch. I thought it was fiberglass but then the whole up section and sail fell onto me and realized it was the mast. I pondered all this while being towed into the beach by a very nice couple. I was actually happy it was only my mast and sail and not the boat. It's time to consider carbon (over a cold one)

Tillerman said...

It is a depressing crunch, isn't it? The two or three times it has happened to me, I couldn't figure what had happened at first. it's just such an unexpected thing to happen.

In the incident in the photo, I was racing at Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI. One of the staff towed me back to the beach. They quickly rerigged my boat and I was out again in time for the next race. Not my boat. Not my sail. Not my problem.

If you have any questions about switching to a modern single-handed sailing dinghy that has carbon spars and whose hull is half the weight of the Laser's, drop me a line at tillermeister at gmail.com.

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