Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ocean Girl

Youngest granddaughter Isabel has been at the beach in South Carolina this week.

I think she likes the water.

What went wrong?


What happened?

Looks like Scout  - the Autonomous Transatlantic Robot Boat is now heading back towards the mainland at 22mph.

Which presumably means that its owners picked it up out of the ocean and are carrying it home on a powerboat for some reason.

Or perhaps it has been captured by some pirates.

Or it got accidentally hooked up in the nets of some fisherman.

Or it has been confiscated by the Coast Guard who wondered why an unmanned drone boat was lurking suspiciously close to the shores of our homeland.

No info yet on the Scout website or Facebook page.

Monday 1 July: update on the rescue here. As I suspected the proximity to Nomans Island was one issue but there were other factors.

Where am I?

Where was this picture taken?


I have never been there.

You're not allowed to go there either.

There is an indistinct feature in the photo that is a clue to the former use of this land.

Tracking Site for Scout

Autonomous Surface Vessel Scout was launched yesterday morning from Fogland Beach and is on her way across the Atlantic. Only 3404 miles to go!

Although it currently look as if she is headed straight for Nomans Land off to the southwest of Martha's Vineyard.

You can follow Scout at the tracking site

Double Trouble

Maybe the America's Cup won't be a bust after all?

In spite of all the negative talk lately, if the actual races are as close and exciting as this two boat testing looks then perhaps AC34 actually will be a spectacular event to watch.

Where can I buy a ticket?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Tougher Than The Rest

Where am I?

SCOUT: The Autonomous Transatlantic Boat

Congratulations to Seth for correctly answering yesterday's quiz. The strange looking boat being carried up from the dock at Evelyn's in Tiverton is indeed the autonomous surface vessel, Scout.

Scout is a solar-powered robotic boat designed to cross the Atlantic Ocean autonomously. Its navigation will depend entirely on pre-programmed commands and information about its environment collected through sensors. Scout has been built to attempt a world record for the longest automated boat journey. If successful, Scout will be the first fully automated boat to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

Scout was built by a group of young men from the town of Tiverton, where I currently live.

The plan is to launch Scout on its Atlantic crossing from Fogland Beach in Tiverton tomorrow morning, June 29.

Hmmm. I wonder if I should go down there with my Laser and follow it for the first few miles of its journey?

You can find more about Scout, the project, and the crew that built it at their website and Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How to Sail a Laser Downwind in Waves

When did all the Laser kids start zigging and zagging downwind in waves?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've known for ages that it isn't fast to sail a Laser dead downwind. You need to get some flow on the sail so sailing by the lee or on a very broad reach is faster than a dead run.

And of course it's good to catch rides on waves if you can.

So I usually set off down the run on a broad reach or sailing by the lee and then, if I get too far to one side, come back on the other angle.

But now all the fast sailors seem to be weaving up and down all the time. They talk about "up-turns" and "down-turns" and change direction every few seconds.

I guess it's faster because they are catching more rides on waves. Often it seems they are using a faster point of sail so they can accelerate and then turn down to catch a ride on a wave that they wouldn't otherwise be able to achieve.

It was a wonderful evening for Tuesday night racing in Bristol yesterday. Around 12 knots I would guess. (But then I'm not very good at knots.) There were four full rig Lasers and we usually arrived at the windward mark pretty close together. I was even in the lead in some races.

But then I was usually blown away downwind. The other three were faster than me. Was it because I was the fattest and heaviest? Maybe. Or perhaps they were just better at catching the waves?

Over dinner and a beer (or two) in Redlefsens afterwards there was much discussion about downwind sailing and how to catch a wave.

One of our party went on a sailing clinic with Clay Johnson and Kyle Rogachenko last year so was tutoring us on all the latest advice on Laser downwind speed. I was only half paying attention as I concentrated on my Fettucine a la Bolognese and Warsteiner. Something about upturns and downturns and how to see what the waves were doing and what to do with the tiller, I think.

"Miss, can I have another Warsteiner, please?"

Perhaps I like beer too much?

I tried to catch up on what I missed by watching some videos on YouTube today.

Here is John Emmet turning in waves...

And here is Brendan Casey sailing downwind in the Gorge...

What can we learn from these videos?

How do their techniques differ?

How do they initiate the turns?

Where are they looking?

One thing that really puzzles me about all this is how do you know which way to turn?

Does the wave look more juicy on one side or the other?

What are you looking for?

Would you see the waves better if you looked backwards or forwards?

And most importantly, should I go for the Warsteiner or the Köstritzer Schwarzbier next Tuesday?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Managing Arousal and Anxiety

"Arousal" seems to be the flavor of the month in the sailing blogosphere. It's a hot topic in sports psychology generally and mental fitness for sailing in particular.

Mark R. of Slipper Musings has been.... well, musing on the topic on and off for weeks.

For example, in this post he reported on a couple of sailors discussing their problems with arousal levels. Either they were too low because they just couldn't get psyched up for light air sailing, or they were too high when the kite was launched.

And a few weeks back, Jay Livingston of Laser Sailing Notes wrote in Anxiety is Helpful about the same issue. Anxiety is often treated as a negative emotion but Jay encourages us to turn it into a positive. Too little anxiety and we feel flat, we have low energy, we don't care. Too much anxiety and it becomes disruptive, we tense up, we try too hard, and we make mistakes.

The issue is often present in graphical form like this...

The message is clear. If arousal levels are too low or too high we won't perform well on the race course. We need to find that middle zone of arousal if we want to achieve our optimum performance level.

I even found one article on the topic that had a chart which used the example of a slug to illustrate the problem of too low an arousal level; and a crazed squirrel as a metaphor for how you act if your arousal level is too high!

This is a slug

This is a crazed squirrel

So if we want to succeed at racing we need to be aware of our arousal levels.

But what do we do if we discover that we are feeling like a slug or a crazed squirrel? How do we manage our arousal or anxiety to stay in that optimum zone of maximum performance?

One of my favorite books Mental and Physical Fitness for Sailing by Alan Beggs, John Derbyshire and John Whitmore has many chapters that are essentially addressing this question. All sorts of methods are suggested, all essentially about how to relax when we are acting like the crazed squirrel, and how to energize ourselves when we are feeling like the slug. Maybe I will write another post (or three on) some of their ideas.

A couple of personal examples on this topic from the racing last weekend...

I mentioned that on Saturday, although it was by no means very windy all day, I was starting to get cramps in my arms. I took this as a sign that my anxiety levels were too high. I was getting frustrated about how slow I was sailing upwind and how low down the fleet I was finishing. And without doing it consciously I was tensing up, pulling harder and harder on the sheet rather than letting the ratchet block do its job. Stupid. I didn't even know I was doing it until afterwards.

I was very tired after racing on Saturday and was still feeling the after-effects on Sunday morning. I started to develop a headache as I sailed out to the course. As I waited for the first start I was definitely feeling like a slug.

But somehow I accidentally discovered a couple of ways to energize myself and get out of the slug zone and more into the optimum performance zone.

One thing I did was to start thinking about the people just ahead of me in the rankings after the first day of racing. Could I beat a few of them? I didn't see why not. They're not better than me. I can do it. Essentially I energized myself by using the competitive side of my personality. And it worked. On Sunday, in every race I beat every sailor who had finished behind me in any race on Saturday; and in some races I finished ahead of three different sailors whom I had never beaten on Saturday.

The other thing I did to kill my inner slug was to watch a couple of the fleet leaders as they powered off the start line in the first race. How is he hiking? How straight are his legs and his back? How far forward in the boat is he? How is he dealing with the waves hitting his bow? How is he moving his body? How is he steering through the waves? I guess I was planting some positive images in my head of of how to sail better and then I just stopped thinking too much about it and let it happen.

And the weird thing was that I stayed "in the zone" for all four races. I didn't get tired while racing, even though it was windier than Saturday. Those two little things at the beginning of the day seemed to reset my mental attitude to just where it needed to be. I was still on a high as I packed up my boat and hung out with other sailors after racing.

But enough about me. What about you?

Are you ever the slug or the crazed squirrel?

What causes it?

How do you deal with it?

Monday, June 24, 2013

John Bentley Regatta

Home on Monday after the first annual John Bentley Regatta at New Bedford Yacht Club this weekend. Sitting in an arm chair in the AC (it's 89 degrees outside) sipping a glass of wine and reflecting on the last two days.

What happened? Well let me tell you, Magic stuff happened! I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a regatta so much.

But my memory is already fading and I can't remember all the details. How do people write those regatta recaps where they recall every start and every leg and every mark rounding and every incident in every race?  But I do remember it was all good.

This regatta, then known as the Saltmarsh Trophy, used to be run out of New Bedford Community Boating Center by one of the most loved Laser sailors on the scene, John Bentley, who sadly died way too young in December last year. Long time readers of this blog will know him as That Guy.

It was always one of my favorite regattas. It had just the right combination of informality and professionalism if you know what I mean. Things done properly while still in a spirit of fun. Not at all stuffy or bureaucratic. Races run properly and on time, and then hanging out with good friends over pizza and a few beers. Usually around 20-30 boats which is a big enough fleet for some fun racing without the hassle of trying to deal with all the logistics of car parking and boat park overcrowding and launching mayhem and ridiculously long start lines not to mention mommy boats etc. etc. which you get at those 100+ boat regattas.

Anyway the regatta got moved to New Bedford YC and renamed in John's honor, but they have done a damn fine job of preserving the spirit and style of the regatta that made it so special.

Saturday was kind of screwy. The wind started of in the west at about 12-15 knots, then went down a lot for the second race, shifted way left just before the start of the third race, and then came back at a solid 15 knots for the final race. Towards the end of the day I was getting some cramps in my arms; need to get back to the weights. I didn't feel I was sailing particularly well, but then if I was perfect all the time, I would win everything and that would be disastrous.

The last race had an upwind finish at a spot that set us up for a screaming, planing reach back to the Padanaram breakwater, the yacht club and.... free beer. I remembered an exactly similar situation racing at some regatta here with John Bentley a few years ago. Like most folk I imagine, after a hard day of racing I just slacken off and sail back to the club at about 75% of effort. John had finished the race a few places in front of me (like he always did, the old bastard) and I was looking forward to a leisurely sail and a chat on the way in. But John had a different idea. He sheeted in and hiked out and sailed that reach at 110% effort. He was 100 yards ahead of me before I realized what was going on. He may not have won the real race but he was going to beat me in the race to the beer.

So on Saturday I sailed that reach the way John would have done. It was the least I could do.

Sunday was a magical day. Perfect Buzzards Bay sea breeze weather. 15-18 knots from the SW. Waves you could surf for ever. I was in some kind of zone where I just wasn't getting tired. Must have been the adrenaline I guess.  Definitely sailing better and getting better finishes. I don't remember a day I had more fun racing.

The awards ceremony got a bit emotional with several folk talking about their memories of John. His best friend Mark Bear told of how they had arranged a memorial for John back in February, but that John was never much one for ceremony so, from wherever he is now, he had given them the middle finger and arranged for Superstorm Nemo that weekend and they had had to blow off the event. This regatta was kind of the alternative to the memorial and John had fixed the weather for us again.

Not a dry eye in the house.

Final thoughts: Never too old, going to lose some weight, going to work a little harder on my fitness.

But then I alway say that.

More thoughts on what I learned in another post.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Georgiy Explains Why Brits Are Such Awesome Sailors

“The Australians, British and New Zealanders are island people. Communicating with the sea and sails is in their DNA. This is an entire culture passed down from generation to generation. Half of those countries’ populations are interested in sailing.” 

So says Georgiy Shaiduko, senior vice president of the Russian Yachting Federation, member of the Executive Committee of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and silver medalist in the Soling at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

I guess that's it then. The USA isn't an island. Canada isn't an island. Brazil isn't an island. Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands aren't islands.  All you nations that aren't islands might as well shut down your Olympic sailing campaigns now.

Georgiy says that sailing isn't in your DNA. You don't stand a chance.

We Brits, with some help from the Aussies and the Kiwis, will crush you every time.

Hmm. I wonder if Georgiy knows who is going to win the America's Cup?

And if sailing is in my DNA, why am I such a crap sailor?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Where am I?

Where am I ?


1. I have been boating on the waterway in the photo, although not in this exact spot, and did write about that experience on this blog.

2. The name of the establishment we are at is something sailors should know about.

3. Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Rhode Island any more.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Best Father's Day Card Ever

Last July, my son and I took his two eldest kids, Emily (then 6) and Aidan (4) sailing on our Lasers for the first time.

This week at pre-school Aidan drew this picture for his Dad for Father's Day.

Do you think we might have someone else in the family already hooked on sailing?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Zen and the art of coming full circle

I feel like I'm coming full circle.

When I first started sailing in England, I raced my Laser at my local club on Taplow Lake, near Slough.

Then some of my fellow Laser fleet members persuaded me to go to some local "open meetings" (which is real English for what are called "regattas" in American.) But we only sailed one day events and never more than an hour's drive from our home base.

Then I moved to Rutland which is as near to heaven as you will find on this earth. I sailed in the Laser fleet at Rutland Sailing Club. My two sons learned to sail in Optimists there. I never felt the need to travel anywhere else to sail, except in my last year in England when I did travel to the UK Laser Masters, a two day event on the south coast, at Swanage.

In 1989 we moved to New Jersey. I shipped a Laser and two Optimists to NJ with our furniture. The problem we discovered was that there was hardly any Optimist or Laser sailing near where we lived in North Jersey. At first we sailed our Laser and Optimists every week in the summer in the local club in Mountain Lakes in the "open" fleet. But handicap racing wasn't as much fun as one design racing so I also started racing Sunfish, which is what everyone else in our club and in that area of the state raced.

But I was itching for some real competition in Lasers so I started to travel to Laser regattas on the Jersey Shore and in Pennsylvania. And then further afield to Maryland and Virginia and New York and even to Canada. I did some longer regattas lasting several days. Usually my wife and kids came with me on the longer trips and we did a bit of exploring in combination with the regattas.

I was racing Sunfish a lot too on the local circuit in North Jersey. Then one day I read an article by Brian Weeks in the Sunfish class newsletter that basically said, "Even you, yes even a duffer like you Tillerman, can qualify for the Sunfish Worlds." That was intriguing so I thought I would give it a shot. Apparently the way to qualify for the Sunfish Worlds was to sail Sunfish Regionals and/or the Sunfish North Americans and if you did well enough you would get selected for the Sunfish Worlds.

By this time the family owned three Lasers and three Sunfish. In the summer of 1995 my sons and I traveled to Ithaca, NY with three Lasers for a one week clinic with Gary Bodie. And the next week we traveled to Lewes, DE with three Sunfish to sail in the Sunfish North Americans.

I think I finished just inside the top 40 at the Sunfish NAs, so imagine my surprise when, a few months later, I received a letter from the Sunfish Class Office inviting me to sail in the 1996 Sunfish Worlds in the Dominican Republic. So my wife and I went off to the DR for a week so I could sail in the Sunfish Worlds and we had a wonderful time. And the next year I was invited to go to the Sunfish Worlds again (based on that top 40 finish at the NAs in 1995 again as far as I could tell) and we went to Cartagena in Colombia for the 1997 Sunfish Worlds, which was an eye-opening experience.

You see where this story is going? As time goes on I was traveling more and more, and further and further, to go to longer and longer regattas. It was all a lot of fun.

I was also sailing various Laser Masters regattas around North America, so I thought why not go to the Laser Masters Worlds? The Sunfish Worlds had been fun; Lasers could only be more fun. Tillerwoman and I went to Mexico in 2000 for the Laser Masters Worlds where I was humbled by the high standard of competition but still enjoyed myself. I had got the bug. We traveled to Australia for the Laser Masters Worlds one year and to Spain for Masters Worlds a couple of times too. I started going to Laser clinics in places like Florida and the Dominican Republic. I was one of the globe-trotting old Laser geezers and was starting to make friends with Laser sailors all over the world. I was also driving 3 or 4 hours every Sunday in the winter to sail in the Laser frostbite fleet at Cedar Point YC in Connecticut.

Then I moved to Rhode Island, which is even more like heaven than Rutland.

I didn't realize at first how lucky I was.

From May to October there is usually some Laser regatta every weekend somewhere in New England, often less than an hour's drive from my house. From November to April there is Laser frostbiting every Sunday in Newport, only about 40 minutes drive from my house. And for many months of the year I can go somewhere during the week any day I feel like it and just sail my Laser on the sea by myself.

It's starting to feel like I am back where I started in England. There is more than enough opportunity to sail and race my Laser close to home. It's not like when I was in New Jersey and I had to travel some distance to find any real Laser competition.

As a result I am finding that I am losing my urge to travel very far to Laser regattas. Driving and flying are definitely not my favorite occupations. Why spend a whole day driving to Canada or Virginia (and another whole day driving back) when I could race somewhere much closer to home? Why stay in some crummy motel when I could do a three day regatta down the road and sleep in my own bed every night? And why bother with the expense and hassle to travel to some international regatta on the other side of the world? I am beginning to forget why I ever did.

It feels a little unadventurous.

It feels a little lazy.

But it feels right.

It feels like I've come full circle.

If you are a racing dinghy sailor, did you ever get the travel bug as bad as I did?

If you had the travel bug, did you ever lose it?

Do you like sleeping in your own bed?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Two Styles of Laser Roll Tack

Check out these two very different styles of roll-tacking a Laser, the first by an unnamed German sailor (I assume from the GER on his sail) and the second by Andrew Scrivan who sails in Connecticut.

How are they different?

What can we learn from them?

Which style would be more effective?

The thing that struck me the most was the different ways the sailors time and initiate the initial roll to windward.

The German sailor moves his butt out to the edge of the deck almost as soon as he starts steering into the tack. His boat is heeling to windward as he is steering up to head-to-wind.

Whereas Andrew doesn't move his body at all as he starts to steer, and his boat is flat as he steers up to head-to-wind.  In fact the first move he makes is to shift his butt towards the centerline of the boat, and then follows that with throwing his shoulders back to initiate the roll to windward when he is pointing approximately head-to-wind.

What do you think?

Are there any other significant differences?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stuckness and the Art of Boat Trailer Maintenance

A couple of weeks back I decided to do a bit of minor maintenance on my boat trailer the day before heading off to a regatta in New Hampshire. Unfortunately I am not good at anything practical or mechanical. So, in the process, I managed to make the electrical problem with the lights on my trailer far worse that it was when I started, and managed to introduce a new issue with one trailer bearing that wasn't there before.

Robert Pirsig wrote about this many years ago in his classic book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  I wasn't very old when I first read the book, but I felt he was talking about me when he addressed the issue of "stuckness."  From an early age I have been an expert at creating stuckness and being frustrated by it.

Using an example from motorcycle maintenance, Pirsig explains the essence of stuckness...

A screw sticks, for example, on a side cover assembly. You check the manual to see if there might be any special cause for this screw to come off so hard, but all it says is "Remove side cover plate" in that wonderful terse technical style that never tells you what you want to know. There's no earlier procedure left undone that might cause the cover screws to stick. 
Your mind was already thinking ahead to what you would do when the cover plate was off, and so it takes a little time to realize that this irritating minor annoyance of a torn screw slot isn't just irritating and minor. You're stuck. Stopped. Terminated. It's absolutely stopped you from fixing the motorcycle.

I've been there so many times. I had a wiring problem. I tried one thing to fix it and broke something. I tried something else to fix it and broke something else. This is always the way when I try to fix something. Eventually I end up with a worse situation than when I started, without the right part, or the right tool or, more often, without any clue as to what to do next.


Back to his motorcycle example, Pirsig writes...

This is the zero moment of consciousness. Stuck. No answer. Honked. Kaput. It's a miserable experience emotionally. You're losing time. You're incompetent. You don't know what you're doing. You should be ashamed of yourself. You should take the machine to a real mechanic who knows how to figure these things out.
It's normal at this point for the fear-anger syndrome to take over and make you want to hammer on that side plate with a chisel, to pound it off with a sledge hammer if necessary.


I have what is effectively a small sledge hammer in my tool box. It's amazing how many times I reach for it in such moments of frustration. If something is stuck, surely beating it with a hammer will unstick it?

It's not that I'm stupid or incapable of rational thought. It's just that my brain freezes up in situations like this.

I am also a very impatient person. When I get stuck I become even more impatient.

I should have learned by now that the secret in such situations is to take a deep breath, slow down, go for a walk, have a beer, maybe sleep on it, and eventually a solution to unstick the stuckness might appear.

But often it doesn't.

Pirsig says...
The fear of stuckness is needless because the longer you stay stuck the more you see the Quality-reality that gets you unstuck every time. What's really been getting you stuck is the running from the stuckness through the cars of your train of knowledge looking for a solution that is out in front of the train. 
Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the psychic predecessor of all real understanding. An egoless acceptance of stuckness is a key to an understanding of all Quality, in mechanical work as in other endeavors.

I don't begin to understand what those last two paragraphs mean.

I didn't understand them when I first read them almost 40 years ago. And I don't understand them now.

If I did understand them, I might be a much better person.

If I did understand them, I guess I might not have missed the regatta because of my bloody trailer problems.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Happy Meal?

How would you feel if your kid was served a McDonald's Sausage McMuffin as part of the boxed lunch (to be eaten on the water) at a youth sailing regatta?

Is this the kind of healthy snack that we should be encouraging young athletes to eat?

What do you like to eat when you are sailing?

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Where am I?

This week's picture quiz is a little different because there are two answers to the question, "Where am I?"

The first answer requires you to work out where I am in this picture. There are clues littered all over this blog so that should be easy.

The second part is to tell me where and when this picture was taken.

That's a bit harder. Obviously I didn't take the picture myself (because I'm in it.) And I don't actually know where and when it was taken. But I suspect there are enough visual clues for one of my clever readers to be able to find the answer.

The picture is being used as a header photo by Regatta Networks the online regatta management tool provided by US Sailing. For example, check out the Regatta Networks home page for the 2013 Laser Atlantic Coast Championship being sailed this weekend at Little Egg Harbor YC, New Jersey and you will see a version of this photo.

So where am ?

Good luck!

Clue #1 - posted Saturday 4:08pm - I did write about this regatta on my blog.

Clue #2 - posted Saturday 5:43pm - Dennis Conner's bowman.

Clue #3 - posted Sunday 6:40am - The photo was taken at a multi-day regatta but you can see which exact day it was.

Clue #4 - posted Sunday 7:00am - There is one sailor, whose sail you can see in the photo, with whom I have only raced a regatta once (as best as I can remember.)

Clue #5 - posted Sunday 10:44am - The photo I have used in this post is not identical to the one being displayed on the Regatta Networks site. No, really, this is a major clue. If you can work out why this is you will be well on the way to solving the puzzle.


Friday, June 07, 2013

Should I Tack Like Fred?

Watch the body movement by Brown University's Fred Strammer as he completes roll tacks.

What is it actually achieving?

Is it torquing the boat back up to a close-hauled course after coming out of a tack lower than close-hauled?

Or is it some kind of Newton's Third Law effect to propel the boat faster forwards out of the tack?

If someone my age attempted it would I throw my back out?

I know college sailing has different rules about kinetics. Would this move be a Rule 42 issue at a regular Laser regatta?


I don't fall out of my Laser very often but it has happened.

It's good to know that even the best sailors fall off the boat sometimes.

Thursday, June 06, 2013


The day wasn't supposed to end like this.

In the morning we were babysitting our two totally amazing, awesome, handsome grandsons in Massachusetts. I had checked beforehand with my daughter-in-law that we would be able to leave as soon as she finished work at lunchtime. I wanted to get back to Rhode Island in time to go sailing this afternoon.

We drove back to Rhode Island.

I hitched up the boat trailer and drove to Bristol.

I rigged my Laser.

I was just about to get changed into my sailing gear when I looked closely at my gooseneck.

Hmmm. That's not good.

There was a crack in the gooseneck fitting on the mast that extended about two thirds up its length.

Hmmm. I wonder if that's why I have been hearing ominous cracking sounds from the mast area recently?

If the gooseneck broke off completely while I was two miles upwind from my launch area, it would definitely ruin my day.

So I derigged my boat.

I took the photo above.

I called our local Laser shop to see if they had a gooseneck fitting in stock. They didn't but they might be able to get one from the factory next door, but the factory was closed for the day, so I will have to check back in the morning. If they don't have one I can always buy one online, or even reuse the old one that is on the mast that I broke three years ago, that I still have.

I drove back home.

Good job I wasn't planning to race anywhere this weekend.

Youngest grandchild, amazing, awesome, beautiful Isabel is coming to visit.

She can help me drilling out the rivets and putting on the new gooseneck.

Life is good.

Where is Peter Seidenberg?

Where is Peter Seidenberg?

That's what everyone in the Laser sailing community around here seems to be asking.

We didn't see him at the Wickford Regatta, our district championship. It didn't seem right to be sailing a major New England Laser regatta without seeing his familiar sail number (usually near the front of the fleet.)

And I haven't even been able to persuade him to come out for our informal Tuesday night Laser practice sessions in Bristol followed by dinner and a few beers at Redlefsens, usually one his favorite outings.

Peter, for those who haven't heard of him before, has won the Laser Masters Worlds eight times, and has been a perennial presence on the New England, national, and international Laser sailing scene. He was also the inventor of the now ubiquitous Seitech launching dollies for small boats which he manufactured with his own company for many years, until he sold the company and retired.

So where is Peter Seidenberg?  Why isn't he sailing?

Well, it seems that Peter has been working. He is no longer retired. He has been working such long hours that he doesn't even have time to go sailing.

And what is he working at?

Apparently Peter, even in his mid 70s, still has the bug to design, build and sell the best boat launching dollies in the world so he has started up a new business, Dynamic Dollies and Racks, to do just that. I haven't kicked the tires yet on any of his products, but from what I know of Peter's deep understanding of the needs of small boat sailors, his superb engineering skills, his commitment to customer service, and his intense attention to detail, I am sure that the products of Dynamic Dollies and Racks will be excellent.

Check them out at their website Dynamic Dollies & Racks which has, among other information, a price list and a list of the dealers where you can buy their products.

Like them on Facebook.

And here is the press release, which came out last Friday, announcing the launch of Dynamic Dollies...


PORTSMOUTH, RI – Dynamic Dollies & Racks, LLC was recently formed by a group of dinghy sailors, led by Peter Seidenberg, to design and manufacture boat launching dollies, as well as storage and trailer racks for small boats of any kind up to a weight of about 450 lbs. The company manufactures and stocks a complete line of boat-­‐specific dollies and will fulfill any custom requirements in dollies and racks. All products utilize anodized structural-­‐ grade aluminum tubing and glass-­‐reinforced injection-­‐molded plastic joint components. Generally, products are shipped as a kit in a single box.

Seidenberg, a naval engineer, 8­‐time Laser Masters world champion and the inventor of a similar product 24 years ago, which he subsequently manufactured in his own company for 12 years, decided to come out of retirement to spearhead this new venture. He drew on his engineering knowledge and previous experience to design the new line of products making them more user-­‐friendly. “Our aim is to make your boating experience more pleasurable in providing a problem-­‐free way of moving your boat in and out of the water and storing it safely when not in use. Our new proprietary wheel with a pneumatic tire and Delrin® ball bearings will be a big factor in the dolly’s performance,” said Seidenberg.

“We have assembled a team of dedicated sailors and tradesmen to manufacture and market our products. We hired Chris Souza, an experienced marine professional, who has been involved in the small boat business world for twenty years in every capacity, to manage the team,” said Seidenberg. Souza adds, “Our full attention will be given to fulfill the needs of our dealer network in satisfying their customers, the boating public.” 


Wednesday, June 05, 2013


The A Class Catboat Torch was built in 2002.

There are some excellent photos of the boat under construction at


I am thinking of using this as my warm-up routine in the boat park at my next Laser regattas.

What do you think?

Monday, June 03, 2013

Twice in a Lifetime!

On Saturday I achieved something that I have only ever achieved once before in my life. And the previous time was in 1992. Some of my readers weren't even born then.

I had been planning to do the Laser regatta at Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire, but I wasn't able to get my boat trailer ready in time to feel comfortable doing such a relatively long journey. (More on the trials and tribulations of trailer maintenance in a future post perhaps.)

So I looked around at what else I could do on Saturday and I noticed that my running club, the Road Island Road Runners, had one of their Grand Prix events on Saturday, the Northmen/Navigant 5k road race in North Smithfield, Rhode Island.

The RIRR Grand Prix is one of those ridiculous artificial challenges that, for some weird reason, appeal to me. (Like sailing a Laser 100 times in a year.) There are 15 races around the area, spread through the year, that are part of the Grand Prix. You have to finish 9 of them to qualify. Your score is calculated on some mysterious formula based on finishing positions relative to other club runners with some even more mysterious adjustment for age. I have no hope of winning it but I would like to complete 9 of the races, and what with sailing commitments and travel plans and general laziness and wimpiness it will be touch and go whether I achieve even that modest objective. So the chance to bag another race was appealing.

So I headed over to the far distant reaches of north-western Rhode Island on Saturday morning, somehow stumbled across North Smithfield, and signed up for the 5k.

It was the hottest day of the year so far. Well in the 80s by race time at 10am.

It seemed like a very friendly, very local event. It looked like about 90% of the runners were from North Smithfield itself. The run is in aid of the association that supports athletics at the Middle School and High School, so it wasn't surprising to see that many of the participants were kids from those schools - and their parents and teachers.

We started off running downhill and I deliberately kept to a very steady pace in the heat, about a minute a mile slower than my last 5k when it was about 30 degrees cooler. A lot of the younger runners went off way too fast and by the end of the first mile they were walking, and I overtook a bunch of them. Old geezers can be so cruel.

I kept to my target pace and pulled ahead of a couple of guys about my age who faded in the heat. As we approached the turn-around point and I saw the faster runners approaching me, it struck me that I couldn't see any runners anywhere near my age. That's strange. I usually see a number of incredibly fit old geezers who run these races at speeds that I can only dream of. But some of the runners who claim to be over 60 don't look a day over 40 so I didn't think too much of it.

I speeded up a bit in the last mile and gave it my all on the final quarter mile which was around the high school track. My finish time was slow, even for me, but that was expected in the heat.

I staggered over to the refreshments and grabbed a banana and a bottle of water and found a spot in the shade to sit down and sweat profusely. A few minutes later another old geezer runner came and sat by me and sweated profusely too, and we commiserated with each other about the heat and getting slower as we got older and blah, blah, blah.

I was about ready to go home when I noticed that the results were posted. So I ambled across to check the results and pushed all the young folks aside so I could see the results with my myopic old eyes. I found my name and confirmed that the time in the results matched what I had recorded on my watch, so that was OK. Then, just for kicks, I started scanning the ages of all the runners ahead of me.

Wait. There was only one other runner in the 60-69 age group ahead of me. Some kid of 62. I double-checked. Yes, it was true. Apparently I was the second finisher in my age group. Oh shit. Now I would have to wait around to receive my trophy.

But really I was tremendously excited. You see, I have been entering running races for about 30 years and I never, ever, ever won a trophy. Well, that is not exactly true. There was one race back in 1992 when I won third place in my age group (40-49 back then) at some obscure small town 5k race in New Jersey. I never imagined I would ever win another.

So I waited for the award ceremony and when they called my name out I went forward and collected my trophy, my little chest puffed out with pride, and I shook hands with the lady handing out the trophies, and thanked her for my award.

She seemed very pleased to see me. Maybe I looked so wasted that she was surprised I was actually standing up? Maybe she was so amazed that someone had actually come to their small town run from way, way across on the whole other side of the state? Not many Rhode Islanders ever even think of attempting such a journey.

Then I went home and lay around in the AC and napped a bit and groaned a lot.

On Sunday morning I took a picture of part of my trophy and posted it as a quiz on my blog,  What is this?

Guesses at what my trophy was ranged from a roll of carpet to a wedding band, from a pogo stick to a mincing machine, from a Blogulator 5000 to an armadillo.

After 5 extra clues and about 50 wild guesses, someone called Lance A. guessed the photo was of part of a trophy, and then R. correctly worked out that it was for a 5k running race. Thanks to everyone who participated in the quiz.

Here is a picture of the whole trophy...

I think I'll go for a run now.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

What is this?

What is this?

And what does it have to do with what I was doing on Saturday?

Clue #1. Posted 1:22pm Sunday.   I did something yesterday that I had only done once before in my life. And the thing in the picture is related to that activity.

Clue #2. Posted 5:24pm Sunday.  It's clear that many people are having difficulty working out the scale of this object. Guesses have ranged from a very fine file to a roll of carpet. Redstar's guess of a golf club grip is the nearest to imagining the correct size. It is cylindrical, about 4 inches long, and just under 2 inches diameter. It fits comfortably in my hand. Both ends of the cylinder are connected to other things.

Clue #3. Posted 6:04pm Sunday.  What I was doing was done outdoors.

Clue #4 Posted 7:33pm Sunday.  I wasn't actually holding this thing while I was participating in the activity. But the object is what makes what I did so unusual for me.

Clue #5 Posted 11:05pm Sunday.  5000.

Clue #6 Posted 7:08am Monday.  I brought this object home with me.