Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Off the grid...

I'm going to be taking a short break from blogging for a couple of weeks, keeping to my usual tradition of going cold turkey on my internet addiction while on the road, just to prove I can. So chat amongst yourselves for a while. Normal service will be resumed on or around May 11.

Just to whet your appetite, when I return there will (probably) be posts on...

  • What's been wrong with my upwind technique for the last 25 years

  • Some thoughts on small businesses in the sailing world

  • A review of a software tool for racing sailors

  • X crazy things you can do in a Laser

  • Someone who inspired me

  • More fishy videos

  • Living slow

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sailing Blog Reader of the Year

I've honored the writers of my favorite blogs before in such lists as Tillerman's Top Ten Blogs of 2009. But today I want to honor a reader, someone who (as far as I know) doesn't have his own blog, but who contributes to the community of the sailing blogosphere by reading a number of blogs, by taking part in such things as group writing projects, and by regularly leaving interesting, funny and provocative comments on various sailing blogs.

And so without further ado, let me open the envelope with the secret name....

... pause for effect...

... TV cameras focus on the expressions on the faces of the possible candidates...

... more pause for effect...

and the winner of Sailing Blog Reader of the Year is...

O Docker.

Pause for thunderous applause followed by shocked gasps...

Please don't be scared children. Those aren't horns on his hat. They are actually natural. Everyone in his family, on his father's side, has them.

I first became aware of O Docker via Edward's famous EVK4 Superblog. Apparently O Docker is a neighbor of Edward in Berkeley Marina, but Mr Docker hangs out in a much more prestigious section than our superblogging friend, as Edward explained in O Dock, Living the Good Life. According to Mr Docker, life on O Dock is out of this world...

Yes, we live the lush life here on the Berkeley Riviera. On race nights, savory zephyrs of grilling sirloin and chanterelles waft down from the yacht club terrace, gently mixing with the jasmine of our manicured gardens. Peacock and pheasant patrol the docks. The washrooms and baths are adorned in Carrara marble.

All is not bliss, though. Last month, I was fined for failing to finish my docklines in Flemish coils.

Then O Docker started leaving comments on my blog too, such as a description of a day when there was "perfect breeze, perfect sky, perfect destination, perfect seafood dinner awaiting us ashore" in response to my post Just One of Those Days.

O Docker's coining of "Heyitwasgreat" in this comment inspired me to run a group writing project of the same name, and then he started contributing to other writing projects with such stories as Why I Don't Have a Bucket List and The Pied Pipers of Newport Beach.

And so it went on...

Most recently when Adam Turinas of Messing About in Sailboats ran his superb campaign to make April 22 Robin Knox-Johnston Day on the web, O Docker sent Adam an email which Adam featured in Postscript - On RKJ Day. Here is a small extract from what Mr Docker wrote...

Learning to sail is a series of terrifying 'firsts' for everyone. The first time on your own at the helm. The first dinghy capsize. The first time we back out of the slip in a boat big enough to do serious damage. The first time we take the family out and realize the trust they've placed in us. The first passage - even if only from one side of the bay to the other. We agonize over all that could possibly go wrong, and still we know there are things we must be forgetting - there are monsters out there we can never know.

It's in our moments of personal terror that we begin to realize just what Sir Robin accomplished - how much more terrible his monsters must have been than ours, and the courage it took to confront them - with a whole nation watching.

O Docker's contribution was so insightful and moving that it was picked up by Scuttlebutt, perhaps one of the greatest accolades for us sailing bloggers.

And there's the irony. O Docker is not a sailing blogger. But he writes about sailing in a way that is more impressive than almost all of the sailing bloggers out there. He is the sailing blogger without a blog. The Unblogger.

That's why he is my Sailing Blog Reader of the Year.

O No

And since we were talking about bad spelling, how about this one, brought to our attention by newsday.com. I blame the teachers.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Only in America

We really do need to do something about the American educational system. What's the point in protesting against morons if you can't even spell it correctly?

Oh, he's a Cardinals fan. That explains it all.

Saturday Speed Links

The Schooners of New York Harbor by Bowsprite. The unique thing about this blog is the original artwork, and this post is a beautiful guide to recognition of the sailing schooners of New York Harbor. Worth a look.

A Wife's View by Mrs Yarg. In my dreams I sometimes fancy myself in the role of high school sailing coach. What could be more pleasant than spending a couple of hours every afternoon drifting around in a RIB watching kids sail? In this post the wife of Apparent Wind author Yarg shatters my illusions and explains what is really involved in my dream occupation.

Taming the Shrew by Mike Taylor, a graphic and erotic post about... well, don't let me spoil the surprise for you.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Favorite Rules Issue - Revisited and Resolved

We had some fun here a while back debating a real life Racing Rules issue that happened to me in the Laser division of the Newport Regatta in 2007. I originally posed the question in Both Leeward and Both Starboard. Today Sailing Anarchy discussed exactly the same situation with an answer from UK rules guru Bryan Willis.

I'm relieved that Willis concludes that the only applicable rule is Rule 14 (avoiding contact) under which boats can only be penalized if there is damage. So I don't have to write to Sail Newport and ask them to correct my score for that race in 2007. Phew!

Been a while since we've done one of these, so let's get to it: The Rules Guy, Bryan Willis.

Q: I'm in a Laser going downwind, by the lee on starboard gybe. Wind is about 5 knots. There is another laser which has already rounded the leeward mark, coming upwind towards me on starboard tack. We hold our courses, with him on a bearing to pass to my port side, and me to pass on his port side. We're on more or less reciprocal bearings. As we pass, my boom hits his mast. There is no damage. We both protest. Who is wrong? Who should get chucked?
-Matt Knowles

A: This has always been a bit of a conundrum. If you take the situation a few boat lengths back, the running boat was probably on the windward side of the boat close-hauled, so the running boat is the keep-clear boat. When she crosses the line projecting ahead of the close-hauled boat she ceases being the keep-clear boat and so might possibly be said to ‘acquire right-of-way’, requiring her to initially gives room to the other boat (rule 15).

But if you just take the situation you describe, and if both boats are sailing steady courses, then both boats are on starboard tack and both are on the other boat’s leeward side, so neither is windward boat, and rule 11 doesn’t apply. The only rule that can be applied is rule 14 requiring each to avoid contact with the other and if there is damage, both boats could be penalized.


Three Little Fishes - Frankie Howerd

Thursday, April 23, 2009

7 Reasons Why a DoG Fight Will Be Good for the America's Cup

And so it seems that the 33rd America's Cup will be a "Deed of Gift" (aka DoG) Match between two giant 90 foot multihulls.

At least that's what it says on Alinghi's website today...

At a meeting today in Geneva, the America’s Cup defending yacht club, Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), confirmed that it accepts the Golden Gate Yacht Club’s (GGYC) challenge for the 33rd America’s Cup and informed representatives of the American yacht club that its team, Alinghi, will be ready to race their 90x90ft boat (as stated in the GGYC Notice of Challenge) in 2010.

Woo hoo! Bring it on!

Many of the stuffed shirts in the world of yachting are tut-tutting over this outcome and instead want a replay of the boring, endless fiasco we had last time.

I beg to differ. So here are my 7 Reasons Why a DoG Fight Will Be Good for the America's Cup.

1. Tradition
A match sailed under the Deed of Gift will be more traditional. We have strayed a long way from the original concept of the Cup since the 1850's. The way it was supposed to work was that some crazy rich old coot would write a posh letter to the New York Yacht Club essentially saying, "My boat's faster than your boat. Nah nah nah nah." The NYYC would accept the challenge by writing another posh letter saying effectively, "See you next July off Sandy Hook. Nah nah nah nah." The NYYC would then find some other crazy rich old coot with a faster boat, meet the first crazy rich old coot off Sandy Hook, crush him, and all would be well with the world.

So let's get back to that tradition. One defender. One challenger. Two crazy rich old coots. The way it was meant to be. Yachting needs to honor its traditions.

2. Excitement
There's no argument, multihulls are faster and more exciting than big monohulls with all those tons of spent uranium or whatever metal they use now in their keels to slow them down. Let's face it, the 50 knot speed barrier was broken by a multihull. Can you imagine a round-the-buoys race between two 90 foot multihulls sailing at that speed (or anywhere near it)?

3. Simplicity
Multihulls are not going to frig around doing dial-ups and dial-downs and all the other rigmarole of match racing that only 26 people in the whole world really understand. (It was 27 the year before last, but one of the 27 is now suffering from early Alzheimer's.) They are going to accelerate off the start line in clear air and go for speed, speed, speed baby. Bang the corner. Tack. And then off on another wild ride to the first mark. I know, I've sailed cats on Sailx. All that boring tacking and ducking and covering stuff just slows you down. And if we are going to make yachting appeal to a wider audience we need racing to be easy to understand. Anyone can understand the concept of "faster boat wins".

4. Cost
In a deed of gift match, two crazy rich old coots called Larry and Ernie are going to spend a few millions building a couple of multihulls, some port that Ernie chooses (probably Valencia) will get to host them, and someone vaguely impartial but really working for Ernie will lay on three races. That's it. No endless expensive series of "acts" over many years and then a costly challenger series dragging on for months. No "challenges" from no-hope syndicates from Luxembourg or Namibia or wherever. No chasing around for sponsors. Easy. Cheap.

5. Unique
The deed of gift match between multihulls of essentially unrestricted design will be a test of technology and yacht design more than seamanship. This is a good thing. The Olympics and each class World Championship are the events designed to find out who the best sailors are. The America's Cup needs to differentiate itself from these events. The America's Cup should be all about the nerds in the design office. Crazy rich old coot with the best nerds wins.

6. Technology Trickle Down
You know trickle down? That's the economic theory that says its a good thing for rich people to have big expensive toys because eventually the money trickles down to the little guy who pumps out their holding tanks. More importantly, while Larry and Ernie are building the biggest baddest multihulls you ever saw, they will be spurring invention and creating technical improvements that you will eventually use on your Hobie 16. Yeah right. OK, well the other 6 reasons are still good.

7. Spectator Appeal
The DoG fight is going to be the most stupendous event ever in yachting with huge appeal to on-site spectators and TV viewers around the world. Why? Well, because of all the reasons above. To summarize, the audience will love it because

* it will be traditional
* it will be in fast boats
* it will be exciting to watch
* it will be easy to understand
* it will be a one-off event lasting a few days
* it will be a show-down between two crazy rich old coots whom we all love to hate
* a crash between two monster multihulls approaching each other at around 50 knots will be spectacular and the best thing ever to demonstrate to the general public why yacht racing is so much fun. After that, sailing will be bigger than NASCAR.

OK. I admit that this post is only an update of a post that I published in Dec 2007. So what? Yesterday was Earth Day. Recycling is good.

April Sneeze

Hmmm. I may be getting old. I haven't sailed at all since my trip to Florida in March. Very lazy of me. Are Aprils always like this? Let's see. The blog never lies...

Last year in April I was doing quite a bit of solo Laser practice and thinking that I might be becoming addicted to it in The Sound of One Foot Clapping. And I was also wondering why nobody else was out sailing in the frigid bay waters in So Where the Bloody Hell Are You? Hmmm. That sounds like a bit more adventurous than what I've been up to this April.

Then two years ago I was running a bloody marathon through the Streets of London. Was that really me? It sounds like somebody totally different.

Three years ago I was frostbite racing every Sunday at Cedar Point YC and even waxing lyrical about sailing in the rain in Best of Times, Worst of Times. Surely that wasn't really me?

And in 2005 I was writing about attending a Laser clinic in Florida and whining in Pain about all the aches and pains and minor injuries I received there. Now that sounds like me!

Crazy solo sailor, crazy marathon runner, crazy dude racing in the rain, crazy old geezer sailing so much he hurt himself, or lazy old fart. Which one is the real me?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From Falmouth

Sayings from round-the-world sailors. Some that made it... and some that didn't.

  • "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." Francis Chichester

  • "It is finished, it is finished. It is the mercy. It is the end of my game. The truth has been revealed." Donald Crowhurst

  • "'Record' is a very stupid word at sea. I am continuing nonstop because I am happy at sea, and perhaps because I want to save my soul." Bernard Moitessier.

  • "Courage is not having the energy to go on, it's going on when you do not have the energy." Ellen MacArthur

  • On April 22 1969, after 313 days out of Falmouth, Robin Knox-Johnstron crossed the finish line of the Golden Globe Race, the first ever round-the-world yacht race, and was escorted into port to a noisy welcome at 3:25 P.M. First on board Suhaili, now rust-streaked and peeling, her bottom foul, and her sails tattered, came the customs men.

    "Where from?" asked the senior port officer.

    "From Falmouth," replied the now-bearded Robin Knox-Johnston with a puckishly straight face.

Congratulations to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on today April 22, the 40th anniversary of the day in 1969 when he crossed that finish line in Falmouth and in doing so became the first person to sail around the world non-stop and single-handed. Among those who tried before, those who raced against him, and those who have succeeded since, his achievement will always be unique. The Everest of yachting.

Today is Robin Knox-Johnston Day on the Web.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Andrew's Feet

Andrew wants to know where to put his feet. Specifically Andrew wants to know where to put his feet when sailing a Laser downwind. He has asked this question at least twice in comments on this blog over the last few weeks. So I guess I should try and answer him. It's only polite to respond to readers' questions.

However... it always amazes me when readers of this blog ask me for sailing advice. Anyone who has read Proper Course for any time will know that I am a clumsy, uncoordinated sailor with bad technique who has found more ways to grab defeat from the jaws of victory than anyone else in the history of Laser sailing.

To be fair to Andrew, I did mention in Sailfit Revisited that, during the clinic in March with Kurt Taulbee, I had learned that I "need to change what I do with my feet when sailing downwind." So Andrew isn't really asking me where to put his feet. He is trying to find out where Kurt would tell him to put his feet. Fair enough.

So, leaving aside for a minute that I might quite possibly have misinterpreted what Kurt taught us, or remembered it incorrectly, or be unable to explain it properly, I will now do my best to tell Andrew where to put his feet when sailing downwind...

First of all let me explain how I sail a Laser downwind now (which apparently is wrong.) In any decent breeze I hook my back leg around the hiking strap (thigh over, calf under) and jamb my lower leg across the cockpit. I have my front knee on the windward side of the centerboard and my butt on the windward deck. So I am supported mainly on the knees and sides of both legs. In stronger winds I move my weight back in the cockpit but essentially maintain the same style of spreading my weight between both knees. Although I know now that this is not perfect style, in my defense let me say
  • it feels stable

  • I can shift weight side to side and front to back to balance the boat and in respond to changes in conditions (up to a point)

  • when I gybe, my aft leg (front leg on new tack) is already under the strap and so I can hike hard on the new tack if necessary

  • I've been doing it for years so it feels right.

Bur Kurt Taulbee taught that when sailing downwind in breeze you should keep your weight on your feet. His logic was that if you have your weight on the soles of your feet it is easier to balance the boat, to use boat trim to steer, and to be able to recover from the start of a death roll.

And to answer Andrew's question, where to put his feet when doing this... Kurt says he puts his back foot over the strap (but doesn't wrap his leg under the strap as I do) and then the front foot is on the windward side of the boat with the
front knee pointing forwards. Or there is an alternative style (which Kurt called "goofy") where the front foot is on the leeward side of the boat.

At least that's what my notes say. As I said before it's entirely possible
that I might have misinterpreted what Kurt told us, or that I can't read my own writing, or that I've confused myself and you in trying to explain it. Take it for what it's worth.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert Laser sailor. I am slightly deaf. My handwriting is awful. I get confused easily.

Anybody else want any sailing advice from a total duffer (me not Kurt) that may be totally wrong and/or impossible to understand?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Well, What Do You Know?

Here are three posts from the world of vaguely nautical blogs this week that made me think or surprised me. Enjoy...

  1. Natural Navigator Picture Puzzle from Captain JP's Log. There are actually several subtle clues to the puzzle in the picture as well as the obvious one. I must admit I got the answer wrong at the first attempt. See if you can solve it before reading the comments or the additional clue and answer posted later in the same blog.

  2. The 10,000 Hour Rule or "What you can learn from Malcolm Gladwell about how to succeed in sailing". Another thought provoking post from yarg.

  3. With all the coverage this week about pirates and how to outwit them, I haven't seen any mention in the mainstream media about how the use by merchant ships of a certain technology may be unwittingly helping the pirates find their prey. Check out Mandated AIS an aid to pirates? on Panbo: The Marine Electronics Weblog.

Well, what do you know?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Caption Contest

This picture is just crying out for a caption. Go for it.

Thanks to Scuttlebutt for the photo.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


At the Kurt Taulbee Sailfit Laser Clinic back in March I learned of many ways in which I need to improve my racing skills. Or to be more accurate, I confirmed that there are many aspects of my game at which I totally suck... and one or two of them were areas where I didn't even know I sucked before. This is progress. I think.

Anyway, one of the areas where I realized I need to improve is what you might call tactical positioning: how to position yourself relative to the rest of the fleet or your closest competition, especially on a beat, to maximize the potential to gain on the opposition. I'm not talking about strategic issues like which side of the course to favor or whether to tack on a shift or not; this "positioning" issue is all about where to place your boat relative to the other boats in the race.

Of course it's relatively easy if you're in the lead, right? Cover your main opposition. Stay between them and the mark. But what if you're not in the lead? What if you're in a pack of boats heading up the beat together, where do you place yourself relative to the others?

It dawned on me that this is a blank spot for me when Kurt debriefed me after the last practice race on Day 1. The winds were light and patchy and we were racing to a windward mark close in by the shore. Port tack was more directly towards the shore so I figured you wouldn't want to sail too long on port because you would be heading into iffier winds close to shore. As luck would have it, I muffed the start and tacked on to port to clear my air as the rest of the fleet went left. About halfway to the layline, I sailed into a header so I tacked and looked like I would cross the fleet. Woo hoo.

I had this idea in my head that I wanted to stay away from the shore so I was feeling fat, dumb and happy that I was now sailing more or less parallel to the shore on a lifted tack and crossing the fleet. After a while it seemed that maybe I wouldn't cross all the other boats so I ducked a few transoms in the hope of better wind the way I was going.

Wrong choice. I was beaten easily by all the boats I ducked.

Afterwards Kurt told me, "You know you could still have won that race if you had tacked to leeward and ahead of that pack instead of ducking them."


"Yeah. That way you would be perfectly positioned for the next shift."


And I made several other similar but different tactical mistakes in the rest of the clinic that Kurt was happy to point out to me.

Now it's not that I can't see the logic of what Kurt was saying once he explained it to me after the race. It's just that I'm not in the habit of thinking that way when I'm in the middle of a race. Maybe it's all the small lake sailing I've done where it's pretty much all about finding the pressure or a big shift. Whatever the reason, this art of tactical positioning is definitely a weakness in my game.

So what to do about it? I'd appreciate your suggestions...

Should I
  1. Play a lot of Sailx the online tactical simulator?

  2. Re-read Stuart Walker's book on Positioning and write a gazillion blog posts here attempting to translate his turgid prose into understandable English and explaining in simple terms how he won that race in 1971 against Melges and Curtis and Perry and the like through his superior brainpower and tactical brilliance?

  3. Don't overthink it dude. Just remember, "Cross 'em if you can" and "Don't let 'em cross you" and you will be right 99% of the time.

  4. All of the above?

  5. None of the above?
Answers please...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tillerman's Top Ten Blogs of 2009

It's been a while since I published a Top Ten Sailing Blogs list. So here is my definitive 2009 list of the sailing and other boating blogs without which I could not live...

  1. EVK4 SuperBlog One of my first favorite sailing blogs and still up there. Has won more Tilley awards than any other blog ever. Check out also SF Sailing Examiner for more of Edward's sideways looks at sailing San Francisco Bay.
  2. frogma Kayaking, a bit of sailing, a bit of gardening, and slices of life in New York City. Strangely addictive.

  3. Messing About in Sailboats The perfect example for the rest of us of what a sailing blog should be.
  4. Apparent Wind Words of wisdom from a coach who also happens to sail a Laser.
  5. Never Sea Land Best blog by a guy with fantasies about women with no legs.
  6. Captain JP's log Sailing, canoeing, life by the Thames, a bit of everything.
  7. Bruce Smith's Caribbean Voyage Best blog about life in the islands.
  8. Look to Windward Best Racing Rules blog in the entire universe.

  9. Peconic Puffin Crazy windsurfer, I mean, even crazier than me.

  10. The Horse's Mouth Best blog about fishing on Fridays.
Bonus luxury item (definitely not a blog): Sailing Anarchy

Monday, April 13, 2009

Exploring the Land Down Under

Ohmigod (as the young folk say). I finally got it.

I don't know much about ocean racing and cruising. My kind of sailing is the other end of the sport. I race a 14ft fiberglass slab round some buoys for a few hours, have a couple of beers afterwards with my mates, and then home for a hot shower and a delicious dinner with the beautiful Tillerwoman, and so to bed.

No, I don't know much about long ocean voyages, but how did I overlook this?

It dawned on me while I was researching what to write about Robin Knox-Johnston for the upcoming blog extravaganza of April 22 - Robin Knox-Johnston Day on the Web, April 22 being the 40th anniversary of the day when RKJ became the first human being in the history of the world to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world. I came across this account of an appearance by RKJ on the David Frost show in 1970.

On the David Frost television talk show one night early in 1970, there appeared as one of the guests a young bearded man of remarkable poise, engaging of personality, with a well-modulated British accent of the kind that seems to fascinate Americans. Unlike many of the tortured, self-righteous, bearded young dissidents of the period who populated this production, this one seemed almost disgustingly "normal" in political views and reaction to social stimuli. In fact, Mr. Frost had some difficulty keeping his guest's mind off one of the other guests a beautiful and voluptuous movie starlet.

What had he missed most, Frost asked, on his 313-day nonstop solo voyage around the world in Suhaili?

The young man leered at the other guest and replied: "What do
you think?"

Duh. Of course.

When you embark on one of these long ocean voyages you can take all the food you need; I assume you either take water or collect rain along the way; I guess you can stash a few bottles of your favorite tipple; and you can take some books to read and your favorite music. As long as you can cope with the occasional dismasting and icebergs and 40 foot waves, it's a breeze.

But no umm "female companionship" for 313 days? Geeze. That's real hardship. I'm sure Sir Robin did miss it. What are you supposed to do?

No, don't tell me.

Reid Stowe thought he had the solution when he set sail in the schooner Anne on April 21, 2007 with the intention of staying at sea without outside support for 1000 days. The 55-year-old Stowe took
25-year-old Soanya Ahmad with him as "first mate" (ho ho ho) on the voyage. Problem solved.

However Mr Stowe and Ms Ahmad seem to have overlooked a few critical issues in their ambitious plan...

  1. Birth control
  2. The average length of human gestation is 260 days (less than 1000 days)
  3. Morning sickness + sea sickness = not fun

So, after 306 days, Reid had to dump Soanya in Australia and carry on alone. Soanya subsequently gave birth to the couple's son in New York City on day 452.

Oh well. Nice try dude.

Then it dawned on me. I had been wondering why the peregrination known as the Volvo Ocean Race has so many "stopovers". This isn't so much a round the world race as a frolic from port to port to port to port to port.... 11 ports in all in fact. Cape Town. Singapore. Rio. Stockholm. etc. etc.

Then I realized. It's all about the nooky. It seems that these Volvo Ocean Racing dudes have pretty much every creature comfort on board except the one of which Sir Robin spoke. These poor sailors sometimes have to spend over 40 continuous days at sea without any you-know-what. Winston Churchill is famously supposed to have said that the only traditions of the Royal Navy are "rum, sodomy and the lash." But I suspect that the culture aboard a Volvo Open 70 is somewhat different from the good old days of the Royal Navy.

Isn't it obvious? These red-blooded young sea dogs need their "stopovers" for a bit of hokey-pokey in every port. I would.

So where are these little stud muffins headed next? Let's see.

OMG (as the young folk say). They are due to arrive in Boston in a couple of weeks.

So, all you good Catholic mothers and fathers of New England, watch out. The Volvo sailors are coming. Lock up your daughters... now. You have been warned.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Monty Python's Fish Tank

Thanks to harrymvt for drawing my attention to another classic piece of YouTube fishy humor. I've a feeling that the Fish on Fridays series may be making a comeback on this blog.

Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

April 22 - Robin Knox Johnston Day?

So my blogging friend Adam Turinas (who messes about in a boat called Messing About and writes about it in a blog called Messing About in Messing About or if he doesn't he should) wants to Make April 22nd Robin Knox-Johnston Day on the Web.

Hmmm. I'm not sure about this. I can see good arguments for and against this proposition.


  1. April 22 is already taken. It's Lenin's birthday. OK. OK. So things didn't work out in the long run exactly how he had hoped, but he certainly had a major impact on 20th century history.

  2. April 22 is also Robert Oppenheimer's birthday. We're still living with the aftermath of Dr. Oppenheimer's creation. It will be many decades, if ever, before the human race can sleep easy again.

  3. Oh, and by the way, April 22 is Earth Day. Geeze Adam what were you thinking? As the years go by, the importance of appreciation for the earth's environment will only increase. Why divert attention from Earth Day with some other festival on the same day?

  4. Finally, April 22 is Glenn Campbell's birthday. Like a rhinestone cowboy riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo... Don't you just get goose bumps when you hear the line "There'll be a load of compromisin', on the road to my horizon"? What a brilliant rhyme! I rest my case.

  1. Robin Knox-Johnston was the only finisher, and so the winner, of the 1968/69 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, becoming the first man to circumnavigate the globe non-stop and single-handed on 22 April 1969. Pretty impressive dude.

  2. He donated his prize money as Golden Globe winner to the family of Donald Crowhurst, who committed suicide during the race. What a guy!

  3. He conceived the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, an event which gives paying amateur crew members the chance to sail around the world.

  4. He has one of those cool double-barreled English surnames that always gives blokes like me with only one name an inferiority complex.

  5. He has a very nautical looking beard.

  6. Come on guys, look at #1 again. He was the first. The first human being in the history of the world to sail single-handed non-stop around the world. Nobody had ever done it before. Nobody even knew if it was possible. Every other guy who tried that year either broke down, gave up, went crazy, or committed suicide. This is right up there with the achievements of Columbus (who was beaten by the Vikings anyway) and Edmund Hillary (who may or may not have stepped on the summit of Everest before Tenzing Norgay, or even Mallory and Irving 29 years earlier.)

OK Adam. I give up. You are right. Let's
Make April 22nd Robin Knox-Johnston Day on the Web

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

18 Reasons Why I Will Never Sail in the Volvo Ocean Race

Sailing is fun. I do it for fun anyway. It's meant to be fun. Isn't it?

OK, occasionally it's not fun. Such as the times when I do something stupid and hurt myself... like the time I almost chopped my finger off.

But the dudes racing in something called the Volvo Ocean Race have taken "doing it for fun" to a whole new level. According to this medical update from the race website, the chappies sailing in this extravaganza are having an extraordinary number of cases of "injured while having fun". Here is just a sample of the fun they have had so far...

  1. Kettle burn
  2. Kidney infection
  3. Two broken ribs
  4. Nine mouth ulcers
  5. Mashed thumbnail
  6. Prolapsed disc in back
  7. Head slammed by boom
  8. Three cases of seasickness
  9. Torn medial meniscus in knee
  10. Mouth ulcer caused by a bitten lip
  11. Grotesquely mangled and bloodied index finger
  12. Fifty nine cases of infected skin and sores
  13. Torn anterior cruciate ligament
  14. Seven head or face injuries
  15. Five fungal infections
  16. Torn buttock muscle
  17. Knee infection
  18. Haemorrhoids

Way too much fun for me.

I will never do the Volvo Ocean Race. I may have #11 but I don't want #18 thanks very much.

Until the next time... have fun!

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Tillerman

The Tillerman is enthusiastically fruity, a seductive blend whose texture is smooth, juicy and long.

Suggested Retail: $17 PURCHASE NOW

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Just Ask Tillerman

And so the learned judges of New York State, after an epic legal battle lasting a couple of years, have finally decided that "CNEV" is not a real yacht club and so can NOT be the Challenger of Record for the next America's Cup.

Why didn't they just ask Tillerman? You heard it here first ... in October 2007. And I decided the case based on overwhelming evidence that was not even considered by the eminent justices. Comic!

Bring on the cat fight.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Why Have A Class Association?

I don't read the Laser Forum much these days.

About the only guy posting there with anything much of interest to say is the North American Laser Class Association's former Executive Secretary Fred Schroth, who writes under the nickname of "gouvernail". Every few weeks gouvernail posts some provocative challenge on the forum, usually questioning why the current leadership of the class is not doing as good a job as he thinks they should be doing. He usually triggers a good discussion but nothing much changes. Life goes on. The same folk run the class in the same old way. But what the hell, we all have a good time sailing our boats and hanging out with our Lasering friends so most of us don't get too excited thinking about class politics.

But this week something earth-shattering happened.

It started when gouvernail initiated a thread on the forum entitled Why Have an Association? philosophical discussion?? His main beef seemed to be that a Laser regatta he organizes every year was not included in the schedule of regattas in the latest issue of the class newsletter...

My regatta; the Easter Laser Regatta; the regatta which I have personally financed and hosted for 25 consecutive years, was not included in the Winter Laser Sailor. It was left out of the 2009 districts schedule which was published on page 37.

Last year the Vice President of the Class showed up at the event and demanded that we all pay dues to the Laser Class Association. Each of us paid annual dues to that associtaion. A year later, a schedule has been published and the 26th annual version of the event where each of us paid our dues is not included.

I feel not only slapped in the face but I feel I let a person come in to my registration area and rip off my friends.

After calming down for a few weeks, I am attempting for the second time to start a thread about this matter without violating the "friendly love and kisses" nature of this forum.

The philosophical question upon which I would like to read feedback and discussion:

Is it the responsability of our paid employees to gather information and publish that information or is it the duty of our sailors to get that information to the office?

There followed a spirited discussion on the role of the class newsletter in publishing regatta schedules, whether the web was a better place for such information, the role of the class's paid staff in chasing down regatta information from district secretaries, whether it was worth paying membership dues to the class etc. etc. etc. (Yawn.) All good stuff if you're into that kind of thing I suppose.

But then yesterday this bombshell arrived in my email.

To: All North American Laser Class Association Members
From: North American Laser Class Executive Committee

An emergency meeting of the Executive Committee was held by conference call on Monday 30th March. All members of the committee attended. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the question raised by Mr. Fred Schroth (gouvernail) on the Laser Forum "Why Have an Association?"

After length discussion the committee concluded...
  • The primary purpose of the Class Association is to promote Laser sailing in North America. Historically the main vehicle for achieving this has been to publish information about Laser fleets and regattas in a quarterly class newsletter.

  • In the last few years, regatta organizers and District Secretaries have, almost universally, moved to using electronic methods to publish this information via district websites, email, social networking services etc. In fact, very few district secretaries are now bothering to provide the class office with timely regatta information for the North American class newsletter.

  • As a result, the newsletter, like many other print publications, is becoming obsolete. And the role of the North America Class organization in publishing information about Laser activity in the region is becoming marginalized.

  • We therefore conclude that in the very near future the need for a North American Class Association will disappear, with the role of promoting the sport being taken over entirely by the Districts.

At the conclusion of this discussion, a motion was proposed, seconded and unanimously passed by the Executive Committee to the effect that "This committee recognizes the diminishing role of the North American Laser Class Association and recommends to the membership that the NALCA be disbanded."

We are submitting this recommendation to the membership for approval (by a simple majority). Please go to the class website to vote on the recommendation by May 31. If approved, the class will be wound up, all class dues for 2009 will be refunded,and the assets will be distributed equally among all current members. We would like to thank you for your support in the past and to express our appreciation to Mr. Schroth for raising this important issue.

Wow! Has anyone heard of any other class doing this? Is it a wise move? How do you think I should vote?