Thursday, July 31, 2014

Orange Sails in the Sunset

For today's Throwback Thursday, I give you … orange Laser sails.

The photo is shamelessly stolen from an article in the 2014 summer issue of the newsletter of the North American Laser Class by Andy Roy, the chairman of the North American class.  Andy discusses many differences between Laser sailing "then" and "now" and includes this picture of himself sailing in the 1980 Laser Worlds.


Orange Laser sails.

My first Laser (bought in the early 1980s) had a sail like this.

And there were other brightly colored Lasers sails like this back in the day. Green and blue and purple and god knows what else.

Now we just have boring white sails. I heard the colored sails died out because it was difficult to ensure consistency between sails with the different dyes. Shame!

My first boat had an orange hull too.

And there were other brightly colored hulls like that back in the day. Blue and red and yellow and green and teal and god knows what else. Even purple.

Now we just have boring white hulls. I heard the colored hulls died out because sailors wanted anonymous white hulls so they couldn't be spotted being OCS on the start line. Shame!

There's a lot of other good stuff in this latest issue of The Laser Sailor.

Maybe I'll write a blog post about all the good stuff.

But, for now, check this out. Also from Andy Roy's article…


El supremo of the North American Laser Class agrees with me about Mommy Boats.

Perhaps I should start a campaign for the return of orange sails and purple hulls?

Although not necessarily in combination…

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Final Beat

I have a new favorite sailing blog.

Actually The Final Beat is a lot more than a blog. It has the ambitious goal of being...
"the website that helps dinghy sailors get better, quicker. All the best information about dinghy sailing on the web in books and on DVDs and CD-ROMs to help you find out what you want to know, when you want to know it."
And it's certainly true that the website is a great resource for finding all sorts of information about how to improve your sailing.

But the author, Damian, also writes blog posts. I would read it just for the blog posts. Actually I do read it just for the blog posts.

Damian hits a variety of topics related to dinghy sailing in his blog posts and is, at various times thoughtful, inspirational, provocative, humorous and touching.

For example…

He wrote a series of posts about the Great Retention Problem - how clubs can deal with the problem of once active junior sailors dropping out of the sport in their late teens or early twenties, discussing the pros and cons of such ideas as giving away free memberships and whether sailing clubs should have fleets of club-owned boats.

On a completely different topic, as someone who is completely incompetent at boat maintenance (or anything practical involving hand tools for that matter) I had a good chuckle over How to Fix Anything on your Boat in Just 23 Steps. It made me glad to learn that I am not the only sailor with two left hands and a klutz complex.

And this week Damian shared with us an hilarious story about when he and his wife took their two very young children sailing for the first time, and what his kids taught him about sailing, a post with the quirky title Toe Straps and Shark Attacks. And an Apology.

If you like Proper Course, I think you will like The Final Beat.

Check it out.

Three Types of Laser Fleet

There are three types of Laser fleet in the world. (Or you could probably generalize that to any one design fleet.)

1. There is the fleet where you are the best sailor in the fleet. You win all (or almost all) the races.

2. There is the fleet where the majority of the fleet is much, much faster than you. The guys at the top of the fleet are past or current national or world champions in this class and other classes. You never win a race. You feel like you've had a good day if you break into the top half of the fleet in even one race but most of the time you are chasing around at the back of the fleet with the tail-enders.

3. There is the fleet where most of the sailors are about the same standard as yourself. Maybe there are a few beginners at the back of the fleet but on any given day any one of a whole group of sailors might win a race and sometimes even you do.

Believe it or not I have sailed my Laser in all three of these types of fleet. Yes even #1. And even these days I have the choice of whether I want to sail in #2 or #3.

So I started asking myself some questions…

Which fleet would you rather sail with?

Which fleet is the best for you if you want to improve?

Are there any of these three fleets that you would never want to sail with?

And why?

Related Posts

What's Wrong With Being Number Two?

Not Playing the Red Sox

Who am I?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

I Love Traffic

I love traffic.

In this part of southern New England the traffic to and from Cape Cod every summer weekend is legendary. More and more people are wanting to spend their weekends on Cape Cod to enjoy the beaches, the seaside towns, the natural beauty, kayaking, cycling, shark spotting… not to mention this weekend a Sunfish Regional at Wequaquet Lake and the Hyannis Regatta where a number of my friends are sailing Lasers and Radials.

Cape Cod is so popular - and all the traffic has to funnel across the two bridges over Cape Cod Canal - that six hour traffic delays are not unknown. One local Laser fleet (not on the Cape) even schedules its weekend races to avoid the worst of the heavy traffic coming from the Cape on local roads on Sunday afternoons. It's no fun sitting in traffic for several hours just to travel a few miles.

But I love traffic.

I should be Laser sailing on the Cape at Hyannis this weekend but I'm still rehabbing my sore back. So there I was sitting at home on Friday afternoon and feeling a bit sorry for myself when the phone rang. It was my son who lives in Massachusetts. He had been thinking of taking his kids to the beach but when he checked online he realized that this would be a bad idea because the route to their favorite beach was blocked with… you guessed it… all those cars going very very slowly to Cape Cod. So he asked if it would be OK to bring his family to our house in Rhode Island for the weekend (a journey which is not encumbered by the Cape traffic) with the intention of taking them to a beach near our house on Saturday instead.

Of course we said YES. And now on Saturday morning we have four grandkids in the house and, as I write this, I can hear the patter of tiny feet and the chatter of happy tiny voices.

Life is good.

I love traffic.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Optimists at Rutland

Yesterday's post Dirty Duck mentioned a little about my own sons' sailing Optimists at Rutland SC in the late 1980s.

Fast forward 25 years, here's a video of a few Optimists racing at Rutland last year.


RS Aero Spotlight: Sails

Earlier in the year, RS Sailing promised that they would "drip feed" us videos of the RS Aero. I had never hear of this concept of "drip feed marketing" before, but I guess it makes sense as they ramp up production to meet the customer demand for Aeros. Keeps all of us interested through the months we are waiting for the boats better than a dump of all the information at the launch would do. I guess.

True to their promise, RS Sailing released a video about the sails of the RS Aero today, over two months after their previous spotlight video on foils.

Jo Richards, the designer of the Aero, explained some of the thinking behind the design of the RS Aero sails and talked about the roles of the three different rigs, the RS Aero 5, 7 and 9.

Key points….
Three rigs for sailors of different weights and for different conditions. But no hard and fast rule about if you are this weight you need this rig. 
Having said that the suggested match of rigs to sailors is...
RS Aero 5 - kids from 77-120 lbs
RS Aero 7 - 120-170 lbs
RS Aero 9 - 165-220 lbs. 
Dacron is better than Mylar for an unstayed carbon rig that has a lot of difference in bend in different conditions and different points of sail because it stretches better to accommodate the different mast bends. 
Sails are about a square meter more area for a boat of this size than you might expect.  It's comfortable to sail upwind but the extra sail area and lighter hull weight give "electric" downwind performance.

As someone who fluctuates in the 190-210lb range, it sounds as if RS Sailing would definitely recommend a 9 rig for me.

What else?

Wonder when we will get the next drip feed?




Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dirty Duck

For Throwback Thursday this week I give you the Dirty Duck.

Dirty Duck was a wooden Optimist that I bought for my sons in the winter of 1985/86.  We were in the  process of moving house from west of London (where I sailed at the sailing club on Taplow Lake) to the county of Rutland where I planned to sail at Rutland Sailing Club on Rutland Water. Rutland SC had an excellent Optimist junior training program and so I was keen to buy an Optimist so that my eldest son (then 7) could join the beginners' class in the summer and my younger son (then 5) could do the same in a couple of years.

One of my colleagues at work was a member of RSC and had a daughter (older than my sons) who was already in the RSC Optimist program. It was the time when all the hot sailors were switching from wooden to fiberglass Optimists, so he was quite happy to sell me the Dirty Duck. I took the boat back to the rented home where we were staying and set her up on the lawn. My sons just had to try her out right away.

By the time we moved to America at the end of 1988, both sons had learned to sail in the Dirty Duck and we had acquired a new fiberglass Optimist for the older boy. We imported both boats into the USA in the container with our furniture (along with Laser 134628 which I had bought earlier that year before I knew I was moving.)

Dirty Duck (sail number K1400) was sailed in New Jersey at Mountain Lakes Sailing Association (the home of Sunfish Fleet 17) and eventually sold to another English sailing family who lived across the road from us. They exported her back to England, their kids are now grown up, and I have no idea where she is now. Probably rotted away or ceremonially burned. Does anyone sail wooden Optimists any more? All that painting and varnishing every winter!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chasing Roosters

Back in June I received an email from the one and only Baydog, the author of 829southdrive which is the best blog on the planet about tortillas and penguins and oysters and pointy football.

He wanted to know if I would like to borrow a DVD called Chasing Roosters. I had no idea what he was talking about but I humored him and said that it I would love to borrow his DVD and maybe I could even write a blog post about it. This is that blog post.

Chasing Roosters?


I had heard of roosters chasing people.

But why would people chase roosters? Is it some weird sport that they play down in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey?

A few days later a DVD arrived in the mail and the next free evening I settled down in front of my DVD playing machine to watch Chasing Roosters… and it turned out to be all about sailing. In fact it is a DVD made to celebrate 100 years of sailboat racing organized by the Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association.

And then I remembered. Baydog often writes fondly on his blog about his memories of his childhood summers spent with his family racing on Barnegat Bay. And he had even written a couple of times about the tradition of the Rooster flag...
When one wins a Bay race, he or she receives the class Rooster flag to keep for one week. Write your sail number and race date on the flag before returning it the next Saturday. Some sailors like to see their name as well. Hmmmm........On the last Saturday of the summer, the winner keeps the Rooster. 

And in 1977, Baydog's father won the Penguin race on the last day of the season and so he got to keep the Rooster flag from that year. And Baydog, being a sentimental kind of person, kept that flag after his father died. Who wouldn't?

So that's what Chasing Roosters is all about. 100 years of sailors racing every summer weekend on Barnegat Bay. It is a very professional production and is narrated by Gary Jobson, himself a boy who grew up racing on Barnegat Bay.

The movie follows a season of racing on the bay, showcasing each club that hosts the races (a different one every week) and the various classes of boat that participate in the BBYRA races, with numerous interviews with sailors of all ages. The videography is superb with many aerial shots of the sailing and sequences filmed on board the yachts during races (with some judicious editing of on-board audio that was too "salty" I suspect.)

What comes across is an overall impression of a wonderful community of people brought together by their love of sailboat racing. Many of the interviewees spoke of how important the BBYRA scene had been to their families over 4 or 5 generations, and clearly the racing there is very much a family activity with youngsters encouraged to learn their racing skills by crewing for their older family members and friends.

Another persistent theme of the movie is the friendships that are formed between the members of the different clubs in BBYRA. With 13 clubs all within 10 miles of each other and with racing rotating to a different club each week, there is clearly a strong community linking all the clubs and many bonds of  friendship (and romances and marriages too I suspect) between the clubs.

There is some heartbreaking footage of the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, but it was very gratifying to see how it didn't break the spirit of the BBYRA and how they somehow managed to carry on with another racing season in 2013 even if some of the clubs were in ruins, and homes and boats had been smashed to pieces. Sailing has a very high priority in the lives of these people.

I wasn't as lucky as Baydog was to grow up in a family sailing environment like BBYRA. But after we moved to New Jersey in 1989 I did get to visit some of the clubs in the BBYRA for Laser regattas for me or Optimist regattas for my sons, and it was good to see those clubs in the movie…

Lavallette YC - whose Laser regatta was always one of the first I sailed each season and where I took my son to an Optimist regatta of which he later wrote, "What happened in the summer of 1989 at Lavallette Yacht Club on Barnegat Bay is without doubt the highest point in my life so far." One of the people at Lavallette who welcomed me and my family to his club was John Applegate and I was very pleased to see him in the movie.

Island Heights YC - where I sailed in at least one Laser district championship and also took my sons for some junior events.

And Mantoloking YC where I took some of my Opti sailors to a junior regatta when I was the Head Sailing Instructor at Hopatcong YC. There was a huge fleet of Optis at the event and I think my students were blown away by the experience of sailing with so many other kids, mainly from the Barnegat Bay clubs.

So it was no surprise to me that in the Chasing Roosters movie, time and again sailors spoke of their club's and their own personal commitment to junior sailing and from what I could see of the size and excellence of the junior programs and the commitment to intergenerational participation, BBYRA is in great shape for many more decades of chasing Roosters.

The video below by Peter Slack isn't from Chasing Roosters but it does have a similar feel to it. The Barnegat Bay A-Cats are only one of many one design fleets raced in BBYRA, but perhaps they exemplify more than any other class the tradition and style that is Barnegat Bay yacht racing.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Apparently Oracle Team USA has been tuning up for the America's Cup by learning to sail foiling Moths at some place called Wangi Wangi in Australia.

In honor of the foiling camp, the team's favorite singer, Weird Al Yankovic, has composed a team song… FOIL.


You wanted to see some sailing?



No. I am definitely NOT going to post a picture of Jimmy Spithill sailing a Moth naked.

That would be very silly.

Egotist or Masochist or Manly Man?

In a comment on my report about the Newport Regatta (where I chose to go in early on both days because I felt like I had had enough fun already) kiwiyates posed this question…
When our boat is designed to be changed to suit the conditions/sailor, why is it that Laser sailors seem to so resistant to downsize the sail to suit the forecast conditions or their current ability? I assume you had a Radial class too. Wouldn't it have been even more fun to race Radial and be able to participate more under those conditions? It seems that Laser sailors have big egos and never want to go "down" as though it was going backwards. What do you think?

And he (or maybe she) followed up with another comment on the topic…
Here in Florida, we try to maximize the fun while trying to level the playing field. Since we get so many light days, all the kids go up to Full. Only the few heavy days, the adults go down to Radial (with some convincing). Whats the point of 1/2 the fleet going in because "its to windy for me" (young or Masters). This means we have more boats on the start line, more even competition, more races and more fun. Isn't that the goal?

I received a similar suggestion after my rather disastrous showing at the Laser Masters Worlds in 2010 and answered it with a post Random Radial Ramblings.  To save me repeating everything I said in 2010 (of if you have no idea what a Radial rig is and how it fits into Laser sailing) I suggest you read that post now before I go on.

Pause to allow you read old post.

OK? Everyone up to speed now?

So (while trying to avoid repeating what I said in 2010) here are 5 reasons why I don't yet own a Radial rig and 3 reasons why I should probably get one soon.

5 Reasons Why I Don't Own a Radial Rig And Never (Well Hardly Ever) Sail One.

1. There's a difference between stamina and skill. It wasn't that I couldn't handle the conditions at Newport. I am perfectly capable of sailing in winds of 15mph gusting to 25mph with moderate waves. In fact I enjoy and relish sailing in those conditions. It's just that it was my first regatta this season and I wasn't fit enough and/or didn't feel like sailing all day. I was getting tired.

2. I have sailed a Radial (at Minorca Sailing) a couple of times when it was forecast to be gusting over 30 and frankly I found it a little tame.

Demonstration of how tame a Radial really is

Maybe I could have a sailed a couple of extra races at Newport if I had been sailing a Radial, but I suspect I wouldn't have had so much fun. And, hey, I sail to have fun not to stick it out all day just for the sake of it.

3. There often is a start for Radials at the regattas I sail - and there was at Newport - but often it's quite a small fleet (the notable exceptions being the Hyannis and Buzzards Bay Regattas which attract huge Radial fleets.) If I had sailed a Radial at Newport I would have been sailing against 4 other sailors. In the full rig fleet we had 44 sailors. 44 is more fun than 4.

4. I am quite a big fellow as Laser sailors go. Currently hovering just over 190lbs. The Radial is best for sailors in the 130-165lb range. I did ask a coach, whose opinion I deeply respect, about whether I should move to a Radial as I am getting older and he told me definitely not. If anything I am heavier than the optimum weight for a full rig, so the coach felt I should stick with the big rig.

5. I am a masochist. Yes, I do sometimes find it challenging to sail the full rig Laser in big winds and waves. But (most of the time) I enjoy the challenge, I like the way it pushes me to try harder and to develop heavy weather sailing skills. I like the feeling of sailing on the edge of control. As Bob Marley almost said, "If it's easy, it won't be amazing." (Actually he said "she" not "it" and he was talking about women. But same principle.)

Well known Laser coach Bob Marley

3 Reasons Why I  Should (Probably) Buy a Radial Rig Soon

1. Laser Masters Worlds. In my 2010 post I wrote about how the International Laser Class expected sailors over 65 to sail the Radial rig at Laser Masters Worlds. The only fleet for sailors over 65 - Great Grandmasters - was a Radial fleet. That's no longer true. Thanks to campaigning by some sailors around my age who didn't want to be forced to move to Radials at the Worlds there is now a Great Grandmasters Full Rig Fleet at the Masters Worlds.

Oman, last year, was predicted to be a light wind venue so if I had gone there I am sure I would have sailed the full rig. But Hyères, this year, could well be very windy. See this video for example. Moreover, it doesn't seem like the option to sail a full rig at the Masters Worlds is very popular with my age cohort. There are 8 full rig GGMs registered for Hyères and 80 (EIGHTY!!!) Radial GGMs.

80 is more fun than 8. If I were going to Hyères (which I'm not) I would definitely sail a Radial. And if I were going to sail a Radial there I would want to practice sailing a Radial at home first.

2. Solo Practice. Regular readers of this blog know that I like to practice sailing my Laser on my own quite often on the local bays. Some days, I feel the conditions are such (maybe too windy and too cold) to sail a full rig on my own. Too much chance of something bad happening without anyone around to help me - or even notice. On some of those days I might go out in a Radial.

Typical day when I might downsize to a Radial for solo practice

3. Frostbiting. Most winters I sign up to sail with the Newport frostbite fleet. On some Sundays I feel that it's too cold and too windy for me so I don't go and race. On some of those days, maybe most, I would sail a Radial. In that fleet the Radials and full rigs all start together and are scored together. A fat boy like me would probably be at the back of the fleet in a Radial. But, hey, that's better than missing all the fun of racing in the snow and hail and sleet while dodging icebergs in the freezing waters of Newport.

RC launching on perfect sailing day for Newport frostbite fleet

See also Why Manly Men Never Use a Radial Sail by my friend, yarg. Yarg is fast in a Radial. On a windy day Yarg often beats me when he is sailing a Radial and I'm not.

So am I an egotist or a masochist or a manly man? Feel free to hurl other insults at me in the comments.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Newport Regatta 2014

Last weekend. My first regatta of the year. Also our district championship. Just down the road in Newport.

44 full rig Lasers. 15 races over 2 days. Wide range of ages from kids to grizzled old grandmasters (like me.) Both genders. Lots of new faces I've not seen on the local regatta circuit before.

Sunny warm weather.

Wind. Oh yes, we had wind. Let the pictures tell the story.



I learned a lot over the two days.

1. I currently don't have the stamina to sail 15 races in 2 days in winds occasionally gusting over 20mph. I actually sailed in only 4 races on Saturday and 3 on Sunday. On each day I sailed as hard as I could until I was getting so tired that I knew that I would start to make (even more) stupid mistakes and that I wouldn't be enjoying it any more. So I said my goodbyes to the race committee and sailed back to the beach. Maybe it's partly mental, but it's mainly physical. Hey, I'm "pushing seventy" as my Dad was fond of saying when he was about my age. I do it for fun and when it's starting to be "not fun" on any given day it's time to quit.

My attitude to regatta racing is basically the same as it was in the summer of 2012 which I summed up in a blog post titled Sailing Philosophy with Crappy Chart. If I sail more multi-day regattas and sail more races each time (and eat more spinach) I'm sure I will get fitter and eventually end up completing all the races. If I don't, I won't. I yam what I yam.

2. There is no practice for racing in large fleets that compares to actually racing in large fleets. I've done a lot of sailing, mainly with one partner or in small fleets, over the past few weeks, but I still felt very rusty on the first day at Newport. On Saturday my starts were poor, I made bad strategic decisions, and my mark rounding tactics were mediocre. In the 44 boat fleet I had several finishes in the low 30s and one in the mid 20s. Not good…

And yet…

I was having fun. And my competitive juices were flowing. I really felt that if I could get my act together I could place a lot higher. It seemed that there were about half a dozen boats at the back of the fleet that I could easily beat and then a large group of 12-15 boats ahead of me… but not far ahead. Maybe it was an optical illusion but it seemed that I only needed to make a small improvement in my starts or my boat speed or my tactics at marks and I would be able to pass that big clump of boats in front of me and break into the top 20. Maybe.

And in the first two races on Sunday that was exactly what happened. I think I was just more comfortable with sailing in a regatta with a largish fleet again. I wasn't consciously doing anything very different but I seemed to be finding a clear lane to the favored side of the course soon after the start, I was thinking ahead about which sides of the downwind legs I wanted to sail, and I wasn't totally screwing up every mark rounding. I was beating some of the sailors who had been consistently ahead of me on Saturday. And it felt good. I scored a 16 and a 21 in the first two races. Much better than Saturday. (Although it must be said that attrition of the fleet due to breakages, capsizes, too much Bacardi on Saturday night, and over eagerness on black flag starts was also a factor in boosting my scores.)

And in the third race on Sunday, I managed to kick it up another notch. I was really warmed up now and had good boat speed upwind and downwind. All that practice at Little Compton over the past three weeks was paying off. I nailed the starboard tack lay line perfectly on the first beat and rounded the mark way up in the fleet. I was catching good rides on the waves on the first reach and managed to hang close to the leaders. It felt weird but I felt like I was sailing better because I was surrounded by better company than I had been hanging out with in the earlier races. Be that as it may, I held off a challenge on the second reach and extended my lead over that boat on the final beat, hiking like a demon and working the boat hard through the waves. I thought I had finished just outside the top ten but it turned out that there were four boats who had been black-flagged in front of me so I actually scored a 7th.

Wow. I was mentally and physically drained, and I figured that I would call it a day and end the regatta on a high note, so that I could revel in the memory of that race for a few weeks and motivate myself for the next regatta.

I sailed back to Fort Adams and derigged my boat. There weren't many people around so I stretched out on my back on the grass in the sunshine and stared at the sky for a few minutes and just reflected on the joy of sailing in the waves and the wind and the sunshine and what a great weekend it had been.

3. In other good news, I think I have a new That Guy.

4. Today, my back hurts.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Please Come to Newport

Please come to Newport
To live forever.

A Rhode Island life alone
Is just too hard to live.

I live in a house that
Looks out over the ocean.

And there's some stars
That fell from the sky
Living up on the hill.

It's THE Newport Regatta this weekend…
Please come.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Emergency Repair Kit

After I broke the connection between the traveler blocks on my Laser last week and staggered back to the beach (sailing with some difficulty a center sheeting Laser with a 1:1 purchase on the sheet not to mention the extra friction from one traveler block jamming up the rear boom block) it occurred to me (only too late) that I could easily have repaired the breakage by tying the two traveler blocks together with a short length of line.

In fact there are all sorts of breakages on a Laser that can be temporarily repaired with a short length of spectra and maybe some duct tape to stop it sliding out of place. Any fitting coming off the boom or mast could probably be fixed in this way. In fact Marc Jacobi tells on his blog how he even lashed together mast and boom after he broke the gooseneck pin at the NA Laser Masters last year.

Of course you are not going to be able to repair a broken spar with such a simple repair kit but, as this photo shows, with enough duct tape and some help from a friendly coach boat, you can even make a temporary repair to a hole in your hull. (More details at Stay out of Trouble.)

So if I were to carry an emergency repair kit on board my Laser I reckon I would need...

  1. A short length of spectra
  2. A knife
  3. Duct tape

Anything else?

What would this kit fix… and what else couldn't it fix?

Monday, July 07, 2014

10 Reasons Why Massapoag YC Might Be the Best Sailing Club on the Planet

On Saturday and Sunday my son and I raced with the Laser fleet at Massapoag Yacht Club in Sharon MA.

I can't remember the last time I had so much fun.

Here are 10 reasons why Massapoag YC is (quite possibly) the best sailing club on the planet….

1. There is Laser racing on Saturdays. Actually there is racing for Sunfish and Lasers on Saturdays. Lots of short races which is what we "board boats" like. Minimal waiting around between races. We did one windward-leeward race and then a gazillion Harry Anderson courses so we could enjoy some exciting reaches and the RC could video us gybing round the committee boat.

2. There is Laser racing on Sundays. Actually Sunday is their race day for all the fleets at MYC. Yesterday there was a good sized Flying Scot fleet, a couple of Day Sailers and seven or eight Lasers. The RC runs two longer races on Sundays, and then all the other boats go back to the club and the Laser sailors race lots more short races until our arms or legs drop off, whichever comes first.

3. There is wind. Lakes have a reputation as light wind venues. Well, it certainly wasn't light at MYC this weekend. Somebody said there were 28 knot gusts on Saturday and I don't think Sunday was much less. Of course it's gusty and shifty compared to sailing on more open waters but that just adds to the fun.

4. They let ME sail there. They even let my son sail there. Amazing!

5. The competition is just the right level for me. I'm not trailing around at the back of the fleet (except when I do something incredibly stupid.) On the other hand it's not easy to win there. In fact, I only won one of the gazillion races this weekend. But that's all I need to go home happy. (My son won a few more but then he had an expensive sailing education under the pretense of studying for an engineering degree.)

6. The club is only a few miles from my son's house. He doesn't have the time to sail very often so on the rare occasions I can persuade him to sail with me, this is one of the easiest locations to do it.

7. It's a very friendly fleet. In fact, when they found out that Sunday was my birthday someone organized an impromptu birthday party for me after sailing, complete with birthday cupcakes, a candle (66 candles would be a lot to expect) and a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday in five part harmony.

8. The water is fresh. After all the sailing I do on the sea, it's a real pleasure not to have to rinse the boat after sailing.

9. They make videos of the sailing. Well, at least they did this weekend. I can see my rather slow capsize recovery, my very bad leeward mark roundings, and many other learning experiences.

Here is my son initiating the gybe at the RC boat

And here I have just completed the gybe around the RC boat
and am about to chase the my son (who was leading the race) down the final run.
Screenshots from MYC video by David Gilman.

10. I think Massapoag YC may have unwittingly hooked my two eldest grandchildren, Emily and Aidan, on sailing. They have only been sailing on small boats once before, two years ago. It was at Lake Massapoag and I wrote about it here. On Sunday, Tillerwoman and my daughter-in-law (recently named by National Geographic Magazine as a top family blogger) were in the vicinity of the sailing club with the kids so they brought them there, arriving as my son and I were derigging.

Apparently Emily asked her mother when she could go sailing again. Mom told her that she could choose to go sailing any time she wanted. Just say when.

Emily didn't have to think before replying…. "NOW!"

I think she takes after me a little bit.

Happy birthday indeed.

Emily sailing with me in 2012

Sunday, July 06, 2014

My Butt

Another great angle from the videographer at Lake Massapoag.

Do these hiking pants make my butt look big?

My Hand

Thanks to the wonders of video technology, the RC at Massapoag YC were filming the races yesterday. Here they got a really cool shot of my hand on the gunwale.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Laser Downwind Training

It has been fun these last few weeks practicing our downwind sailing in waves at the mouth of the Sakonnet River. The only downside (no pun intended) is that to sail downwind you have to first slog upwind. And it takes about twice as long to sail any given distance upwind and it's about three times as hard.

Some local sailors do manage to organize things to do downwind-only sessions. But it requires a helpful shuttle driver to move dollies and trailers and towing vehicle from start to finish, or a hell of a lot more back and forth on the road by the sailors themselves.

The other thing that was slightly annoying on Monday was that the winds started off strong and then slackened off. It would be a lot better if it was the other way round. Start with conditions that are easy and comfortable and gradually turn up the intensity.

Over beer yesterday evening my friend and I fantasized about the perfect way to do downwind Laser training. Just solve all the problems I described above…

Today I found this video….

ISA Downwind Clinic from International Sailing Academy on Vimeo.

As it says on the International Sailing Academy website...
Imagine spending a week doing purely downwind sailing. Every morning after fueling on a delicious brunch, we rig and set off in calm conditions for a 24 km (15 mile) tow. The following hours are spent working our way back in a building breeze, from 5 knots to 20 knots. After 5 days, we guarantee you will make huge improvements!

Hmmm. This might be the solution.

I wonder if any other training centers offer something similar?

It's a Record

A record

Yesterday evening I went for another sail at the mouth of the Sakonnet with a friend, and it turned out to be the best wind (at least to start with) and the best waves of all six outings there over the past few weeks. We would sail upwind for about twenty minutes and then ride the waves downwind back to where we started. Rinse and repeat. Well, repeat anyway.

The first run we were both in pure survival mode but we didn't capsize or submarine or death roll or have any other disasters. The second run was the most enjoyable. I think the wind had slackened a little and we had tuned into the conditions and were catching some amazing rides. Then we did some tacking practice and it certainly felt like my heavy air tacks were getting better. My friend did some capsize practice. And some more downwind sailing. It was all good.

And so to Evelyn's for beer and stuffies and clam roll and babbling on about what a great sail we had had.

It turns out I broke a record.

I started recording my daily sails on this blog (in a summary post or page) in 2009. When I looked back I discovered that I had sailed my Laser in local waters 14 days in June this year and that is more than in any other month since records began. True, there were some Septembers when I went to Minorca Sailing and sailed every day there and clocked up more total days on the water in the month. But never as many as 14 locally.

And the reasons are obvious…

  1. Friends. Two of my friends are training hard for the Laser Masters Worlds and they have both been more than happy to have me come along as a sparring partner at their training sessions. Having someone else to sail with has motivated me to get out on the water more.

  2. Not running. I was getting a pain in my right ankle after long runs - I think it's a stress fracture. It soon went away each time but always came back after a hard training run or a race. So at the end of April I decided to give up running for a few months to let it heal properly. In other summers there would be days when I would go for a long run in the morning and feel too tired to sail in the afternoon. Not this year. Maybe I should give up running for a few months in the summer every year?

  3. Not sailing. Huh? Yes, not sailing. I didn't sail at all in February, March or April. It's amazing how much more enthusiasm I have for sailing after a break like that.

  4. The weather. June was fabulous. Mainly sunny days. Great winds on most days. Just wonderful.

  5. Beer.

I wonder what July will bring?