Friday, October 31, 2014

RS Aero - Impressions in Stronger Winds

On the Friday at the end of our first week in Minorca, I wanted to sail the RS Aero in the morning but I discovered that another sailor had already put his name down to use it in the weekly pursuit race. So I took out a Laser and sailed around watching the pursuit race. After a while I realized that the Aero had left the race so I went back to the beach to see what was going on. It turned out that the hiking strap had broken, pulled out of the screws at the front. The staff were busy repairing it and I was told I could take the Aero out in the afternoon, once the sealant around the screws had dried.

So I went and had some lunch, and took out the Aero (with a slightly shorter hiking strap) in the afternoon in about 17-21 knots. That was the reading on the wind meter on the beach. It might have been more in the middle of the bay.

What a blast! I realized I had been doing it all wrong going upwind. The other windy day I sailed I couldn't really hike the boat flat but today I put on maximum vang and cunningham and I could sail it flat.  It was just as much hard work as a Laser in these conditions though - hiking as hard as I could, playing the sheet all the time to try and keep the boat flat and driving fast.

I found I could hike at the front of the cockpit without waves coming over the bow (which is quite high.)  I did manage to go into irons a couple of times going through tacks in these conditions until I realized it's just like a Laser - you do need to make sure you steer it firmly through the tack without being too tentative and make sure you get your weight across smartly and get it driving on the other tack.

On Tuesday in the RS Aero 7 in somewhat more moderate wind, the gunwales were deflecting all the spray on the reach and beat, but on this day I was getting a lot of spray in the face. Thank goodness for that. I don't really feel like I've had a good sail unless I've taken a couple of waves over my head and come back with my face caked with salt.

I got some great rides on waves on reaches, and downwind I was faster than the waves. The bow was lifting right out of the water on reaches when I got my weight back. Gybing was easy. I realized the boat hadn't capsized once in three outings and that I might have to do a deliberate capsize one day if I wanted to test out capsize recovery.

After three tests of the Aero with different rigs in a wide variety of conditions I was coming to a couple of conclusions about the Aero…

1. The boat's design does eliminate many of the frustrations that some people have with the Laser - such as catching the sheet around the transom, low boom, auto bailer ineffective at low speeds etc.

2. On the other hand, it is ultimately a very similar experience to sailing a Laser. It is what it is - a 13ft hiking, planing single-hander. The lighter weight of the Aero does make it more exciting on reaches, but I wasn't seeing a huge difference in the overall experience on beats and runs.

I was actually starting to wonder whether I really needed a (slightly) better mousetrap as well as my existing mousetrap.

Coming soon... Tillerman tests out capsize recovery on the Aero. Other sailors' experiences with the Aero at Minorca Sailing. What I like and don't like about the Aero design. Ruminations on robustness.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

RS Aero - Impressions in Light Winds

On Wednesday of my first week at Minorca Sailing, I took the RS Aero 9 out for a test sail in winds of about 6-8 knots. Here are my impressions of that experience, based on an email I wrote to some friends that evening...

Sailing the RS Aero 9 in lighter winds felt quite tame compared to my first sail in stronger winds with the 7 rig. I was glad I was in the 9 rig. The 7 would have been kind of boring I think. The experience was probably similar to sailing a full rig Laser in similar conditions. Sorry to report the Aero does not have a magic trick of planing in 6 knots - at least not with a 190lb crew. 
Played around with various downwind sitting positions. 
Did some roll tacks and roll gybes. I think you need to be a bit more gentle with those than with a Laser but it comes naturally to control the flatten in a manner that isn't too aggressive.  
There is definitely a big difference in speed between sailing close-hauled and cracking off 10 degrees or so, even in light conditions. Not sure what is best VMG. I actually spent most of the afternoon sailing quite low, but a Minorca Sailing instructor later told me that he always sails the Aero as high as he can.

 Minorca Sailing instructor explaining VMG

Summing up the experience I think that if this had been my one and only demo in the Aero I would have ended up thinking that it's a perfectly fine boat but that it didn't offer anything special compared to a Laser. Whereas yesterday in stronger winds I was constantly thinking about how much fun it was. I guess that's a message to other people contemplating purchasing an Aero - make sure you sail it in some different wind conditions before you decide.

My Grandfather's Eyes - Throwback Thursday

I never knew my paternal grandfather. He died a few years before I was born. And I realized a couple of months ago that, not only did I know very little about him, I didn't even have any photographs of him. So when we visited my sister in England earlier this month, we went through some of the old family photos that she had, and she kindly gave me a couple of photos of our grandfather.

There he is, in his army uniform. I knew he had been a professional soldier and had served in South Africa and India and World War 1, but knew very little else about his military career.

When I examined the reverse side of the photo, I realized it was actually a postcard. The stamp and the postmark (if it ever had them) had been removed. But the card was addressed to my grandfather's mother. The only other writing on it was his name and service number, the message "With love to all" and the two German words…

gefangenenlager Gardelegen

It didn't take long to discover that "gefangenenlager" is the German word for "prisoner of war camp" and Gardelegen is a town in Germany which was the site for a camp for British POWs. If I had ever been told by my parents that my grandfather was a POW in Germany, I had long since forgotten it.

I was intrigued to find out more so started looking around at various online records. It turns out that the International Committee of the Red Cross has an excellent archive of records of prisoners of the First World War and I was quickly able to find a scanned image of a handwritten record card with my grandfather's name, various reference numbers and in the top right hand corner the date 31-10-14.

31st October 1914. 100 years ago tomorrow. I wondered what the date signified. The date this record was created? The date he was captured?

I searched further records on the same database and found entries for my grandfather in a couple of ledgers of prisoners, and these confirmed he was indeed held at Gardelegen and that he had been captured at Ypres on 31-10-14. It also recorded that he had been wounded in his left leg.

Then I hit the jackpot. I managed to find the records for him in the British Army WW1 Pensions Records Database. It had page after page of information about him from the day he enlisted in 1900 (one month after his 18th birthday) until the day he was demobilized in May 1919. Among other things it confirmed the ICRC records of his being captured at the end of October 1914 because he was officially reported as "wounded and missing" on 1 November 1914 and officially reported as a prisoner of war on 25 January 1915. What a worrying three months that must have been for his family.

I wondered if I could find out any more about the fighting in which he was captured so I went to the Wikipedia entry for the First Battle of Ypres which raged from October 19 to November 22 1914. The only entry for my grandfather's regiment (The Royal Lincolnshire Regiment) was for the fierce fighting on the Wytschaete–Messines line on 31 October 1914. When the 1st Battalion of the Lincolns were committed to the battle it is recorded they lost 30% of their strength. It seems almost certain that it was in this battle that my grandfather was wounded and captured.

Mud and muck at the First Battle of Ypres, October 1914

My eye casually scanned the reports on the battle as it continued that day and a name caught my eye. A very familiar name.

A couple of French divisions had been rushed in to reinforce the British, and the Germans brought in two more divisions including the 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment. And earning the Iron Cross (Second Class) on that day, for rescuing a man under fire, was a lance-corporal in the Bavarian Regiment called Adolf Hitler.

Holy cow. My grandfather fought in the same battle on the same day in the same part of the front as Adolf Hitler. 100 years ago tomorrow.

There were a lot more details about my grandfather in all those records I found including his height (5ft 5 and 9/10 inches) and weight (133 pounds) on the day he enlisted in 1900.

And the fact that he had blue eyes.

I never knew.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

RS Aero - First Impressions

After my adventure in the Laser Radial on my first Tuesday morning at Minorca Sailing, I had my first sail in an RS Aero in the afternoon, using the 7 rig in about 10-14 knots. Below are my random first impressions of the boat on that day, a lot of it quoted from an email I wrote to a couple of friends back home immediately after the experience…

The RS Aero felt initially a little unfamiliar but I soon got the hang of it and it wasn't long before it felt like a boat I had been sailing for years. As expected it was a lot of fun on reaches. I tried various reaching angles and it seemed to be easy to get planing on all of them. I can imagine that some recreational sailors will buy an RS Aero just for the pleasure of reaching back and forth as many kite sailors and windsurfers seem to do. At least to my inexperienced eye that's what a lot of them seem to be doing most of the time. 
Upwind it was a delight how the narrow bow sliced through the chop. At least in these winds, the gunwales were deflecting all the spray away from my face and body on both reaches and beats. I didn't seem to be able to apply enough cunningham to depower the sail for upwind sailing but it was easy to apply enough vang to achieve the desired effect. The hiking position was very comfortable. Oh god. I'm starting to value "comfort" as a desirable feature in a single-handed dinghy. I must be getting old.   
Tacks and gybes were no problem. Tacking from close-hauled to close-hauled was straightforward. Another sailor here who took out an Aero earlier in the day reported that it was hard to tack from reach to reach (without getting it going fast on a close-hauled course first) because the boat lacked sufficient momentum to get through the tack. I didn't try that personally. 
I had heard that it felt "uncomfortable" when sailing downwind. My experience was that it's not exactly uncomfortable, just a bit of an unfamiliar position. I found a position that I think I could maintain indefinitely which locked me into the boat and enabled me to balance it easily.
Actually they had to drag me off the water today because some other sailor wanted to try the boat, otherwise I would have been out even longer than the 1 hour 40 minutes or so that I was.  
I was very comfortable in the 7 rig in these winds. Felt more like a Laser Radial than a Full Rig in terms of how much effort was required. Suspect I will want a 9 rig in lighter winds and hope to get a chance to test that out soon.

More reports to come on two more test sails with the 9 and 7 rigs in different wind conditions, a capsize recovery evaluation, what I heard about the Aero from other sailors and instructors, and some of my own comments on various aspects of the hardware and boat design.

Watch this space.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Manly Men Sail Radials

On our first Tuesday at Minorca Sailing this year, as I have mentioned before, we were scheduled to go on a Sea Sail. Before we left the beach, our instructor warned us that Force 5 winds (17-21 knots) were expected and that, because it clearly wouldn't be practical to return to the shore to swap rigs if any of us found we were overpowered once we were out of the bay on the open sea, we should all consider sailing a smaller rig than usual. We all complied with his warning. I and most of the other full rig Laser sailors chose to sail with Radial rigs for the sea sail. And the sailors who had been using Radials went out with 4.7 rigs. (I think one sailor did opt to set out in a full rig but early in the trip he peeled off for some reason.)

I have written before about the pros and cons for me of using the Radial rig in such posts as Random Radial Ramblings in 2010 and Egotist or Masochist or Manly Man earlier this year. And uber-sail-blogger yarg wrote the classic post on this topic Why Manly Men Never Use a Radial Sail. As you may detect from my posts, the older I get the more I am warming up to the idea of buying a Radial rig to use on windier days. There was one very windy, gusty, shifty day at Lake Massapoag this year when I was definitely overpowered in a full rig Laser and some of my friends in Radials were regularly beating me. Hmmm!

I still wasn't all that enthusiastic about the Radial as we set out on our adventure on the Bay of Fornells. I'm a big guy. I'm a manly man. Surely I will be too heavy for a Radial, I thought.

But I got a big surprise. I estimate the wind was actually about 15-18 knots. We sailed out of the bay and then sailed a long port tack close-hauled leg across towards the next headland where the instructors set up a race course for us. We sailed three informal windward-leeward races before heading back in. I was surprised to find that even although I was probably the heaviest sailor there (or maybe because of it) I was usually faster upwind than all the lighter sailors in Radials and could hold my own with them downwind. Hmmm!

And then the trip back to the mouth of the bay was a long starboard tack broad reach riding wave after wave after wave. It was a blast! I was faster than all the other Radial sailors on this leg too (probably because Kurt Taulbee at SailFit explained to me how to sail a reach properly a few years ago and I discovered I had been doing it all wrong for 25 years.)

Sheer Lasering pleasure! I can't remember ever having more fun in a Laser than I had that morning.

Would I have had even more fun in a full rig? Probably not.

Would I have actually been overpowered and struggling to keep up in a full rig? Possibly.

Some dude (who is not me) having way too much fun sailing a Radial

Correction - thanks to Anonymous 9:44 AM, October 28, 2014
That's actually a dudette called Marit Bouwmeester
I need new glasses

OK - this one really is a dude - a manly man
Scott Leith of New Zealand sailing in the 2010 Laser Masters Worlds

It was the best day of the holiday so far and it gave me new respect for the Radial rig, and left me thinking I really should get one when I got home.

I think I had a very large beer for lunch (probably with a very large tuna roll too) and was very likely babbling away to anyone who would listen about what a great experience I had had in the morning.

Manly men sail Radials!

Monday, October 27, 2014

I am an Asymmetric Sailor

I am an asymmetric sailor.

No, wait. If you say you are an asymmetric sailor when you are at Minorca Sailing people will assume you are one of those crazy dudes who sails all those boats with asymmetric spinnakers like the RS Vareo and RS100 and RS200 and RS400 and RS500 and RS800 and Musto Skiff.

Actually, some years at Minorca Sailing I did sail some of those boats. But I mean I am an asymmetric sailor in a different sense. My sailing skills are asymmetric. My skills are different on port and starboard tacks.

It shouldn't be so. The Laser is an (almost) perfectly symmetric boat. How you sail it one tack should be an exact mirror image of how you sail it on the other tack. (At least to my simple mind it seems like it should. Or am I missing something?)

But I discovered on our first Monday at Minorca Sailing this year that I am more asymmetric than I thought I was.

The morning session in the Advanced Laser Class was about downwind sailing. One of the drills we did was to tether our tillers and sail the boats without use of tiller at all. We had to bear away from a beam reach to sailing downwind; and then head up and bear away at will; transition from sailing a very broad reach to sailing by the lee and back again; and then gybe the boat.

It was all going perfectly well when I was on starboard tack. I could do everything I was supposed to do using the sheet, the vang and the heel of the boat. Of course, the point of the whole exercise was to teach us to sail downwind without using the rudder to force the boat to turn.

But on port tack I was awful. I couldn't make the boat do what I wanted to do. In the end I ended up doing an ugly death roll and capsize. I am an asymmetric sailor.

I rationalized that when I am racing I spend most of my time downwind on starboard tack unless there's a very good strategic reason to be on port. I think most Laser sailors do. So I have developed the skills of using my body weight to steer the boat on starboard, but my brain is not wired to do the same thing on port because it has hardly any practice at doing so.

This got me thinking. Are any of my other sailing skills asymmetric? I am naturally right-handed so am I better at steering with the tiller on port tack when my right hand is on the tiller? Do I do port to starboard tacks better than starboard to port tacks? Ditto for gybes?

I have no idea, but I do seem to recall some years ago realizing that I was kicking the sheet around the cockpit when tacking one way but not the other way. I had to slow things down and work out what I was doing with my feet differently when tacking opposite ways.

Then I looked at my sailing gloves (which were new at the start of the holiday.)

Do you see what I see? The forefinger of the right hand is starting to wear out faster than the forefinger of the left hand. I must hold the sheet more tightly with the right hand.

Oh geeze. I really am an asymmetric sailor.

Then I started wondering about other sports. Are they inherently asymmetric or do participants in those sports have to be concerned about being asymmetric in their skills when they shouldn't be?

What about rowing? If you are rowing with one oar, in an eight for example, it is essentially asymmetric. Do top rowers end up specialize in always rowing on the same side of the boat? If you row an eight, are you always a bow side or stroke side rower? But what if you have two oars? Don't the handles overlap? Does one hand always go on top? Inquiring minds demand to know. Well one inquiring mind does.

And how about kayakers? From my naive perspective that looks like a sport that should be perfectly symmetric. Or is it? Aren't you twisting the paddle to feather the blade in opposite directions from each side? Do kayakers have a problem in making sure that their strokes in each side are of equal strength? And what about when they start doing all those fancy rolls? Does each kayaker have a preference for doing rolls from left to right or right to left? Or do they train to be ambidextrous?

And then there's ice skating? All that spinning round and round? Are skaters asymmetric? Is each individual better at either clockwise or anti-clockwise spins?

Baseball and cricket of course are inherently asymmetric. In fact a whole part of the management of a baseball team is working out how to use your left-handed and right-handed players to match up best against the other team's left-handed and right-handed players.

Soccer players are usually better kickers with one foot aren't they? Or are they? Do they train to have equal skills with each foot? Does "ambidextrous" apply to feet, or is there some other word for it?

In fact the more I think about it, it's an issue that in some way or other must affect almost every sport. We often naturally have skills that are different on each side of our bodies and, depending on the sport, we have to work to capitalize on that or minimize it.

What about you?

Are you asymmetric?

How does it affect your favorite sporting activity?

Bonus points for anyone who can tell me ways in which the Laser actually isn't perfectly symmetrical!

Sunday, October 26, 2014


I'm not very good at writing about feelings.

I've been wanting to write a post about what it feels like to be at Minorca Sailing. Fundamentally, that feeling is why Tillerwoman and I keep going back there.

I made a stab at it in my 2006 post, Minorca Sailing - 25 Years Later. I talked about some of the factors that make it a special place for us…

Nostalgia - that so little has changed since we first went there, over 30 years ago now.

The unspoiled beauty of the bay and the surrounding hills.

The unique nature of the style of service and offerings. As I said then…
A safe sailing environment where the guests are offered a huge range of options. Something for everyone from total beginners to aggressive racers. Casual fun atmosphere with professional help and instruction if you want it, but with plenty of freedom and flexibility to do what ever turns you on.
All true but that's all external stuff. It's not about the way we feel when we are there.

The feeling came over me again on the Sunday morning, the second full day, of our visit to Minorca Sailing this year, as I lay in bed and waited for the sun to rise and shine through the bedroom curtains and I reflected on the previous day and contemplated the days ahead.

There had been a couple of welcome parties - a dinner on Friday evening and drinks on the beach on Saturday evening. A chance to renew old acquaintances with instructors and clients, and also to make new friends. An easygoing, friendly bunch of people whom I looked forward to having fun with in the coming days.

A Laser class on Saturday morning and then some free sailing in a Laser in the afternoon, working on my tacks and gybes.

Dinner on Saturday evening at Ca Na Marga with a couple of my favorite items from their menu.

All good, but hardly enough to explain why I was waking up with a silly grin on my face. Relaxed. Anticipating a wonderful day ahead. Two weeks of wonderful days ahead.

I think it's really about the sheer pleasure of a "no worries" vacation with lots of "no hassle" sailing.

I've had all sorts of vacations in my life including ones where we were driving long distances every day and/or looking for new places to stay every night. There's none of that when we are at Minorca Sailing. We are HERE. It's a two minute walk to the beach to go sailing. It's a five minute walk to the nearest restaurant. As the Beatles sang, "Oh that magic feeling. Nowhere to go." It's almost like the feeling of coming home after a long trip. Only better.

And then the sailing is totally hassle free. I forget sometimes how much hassle there is in much of the sailing I do, especially at regattas. Such things as…

Pack up boat and sailing gear
Drive trailer to wherever I am sailing.
Get boat off trailer and rig it.
Read sailing instructions.
Wait to launch.
Sail out to racing area (which might take an hour or more at some locations.)
Wait for race committee to set the perfect course.
Wait for fleets using the same course to get their starts off.
Wait for own fleet to work out how to start without triggering a general recall every time.
Sail back to launch site at end of day (maybe another hour or more.)
Try and find my own dolly among the hundreds on the beach.
Derig boat.
Put boat on trailer.
Drive home.

OK. None of that is terrible in the big scale of things and we are all happy to do it to enjoy the fun of racing.

But there is essentially none of that at Minorca Sailing. The equivalent list there is roughly…

Walk two minutes to beach.
Tell member of staff what boat you want to sail.

The boats are all rigged by the staff. They will even try to assist you launching and putting in your daggerboard and pushing your rudder down if you let them. And when you are finished you just sail (the short distance) back to the beach and some instructor will be standing in the water ready to take your boat from you.

No, no, no. That picture was not taken at Minorca Sailing. It's from a website for a ridiculously extravagant cruise line. The instructors at Minorca Sailing do NOT wear tuxedos or bring you snacks and glasses of champagne when you come back from a morning of Laser sailing. But there's something of the same spirit of service that this picture portrays. It's your vacation and we are here to make sure you enjoy it.

And there's just the right balance of organization and freedom to make sure you will enjoy it. There is organized instruction at various levels from beginner to advanced in the mornings. And organized (pretty informal) racing in the afternoons. And then in the late afternoon you can have personal one-on-one tuition on any sailing subject you want. And in the evenings there are sometimes GPS and video debriefs.

But the beauty of it is that you can do as little or as much of the organized offerings as you want. Or just go free sailing if you want. Or take an afternoon off if you want. Or mix and match the offerings however you like. 

Want to take lessons on sailing asymmetric dinghies in the morning and race Lasers in the afternoon? No problem.

Want to take Laser classes in the morning and just practice on your own in the afternoon? Sure.

Want to skip the Laser racing and try out the RS Aero? Whenever you like.

Want to do the Asymmetric classes some days and Laser classes other days? Be our guest.

I find it hard to imagine a better way to have a sailing vacation.

I really am no good at writing about feelings.

You will just have to take my word for it and go to Minorca Sailing yourself.

Or read the posts about our 2014 Minorca Sailing trip if I ever get round to writing them.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Sea Sail

Today at Minorca Sailing was the best day so far.

Sunny. High 70s. Force 4 to 5 winds in the morning, and force 4 in the afternoon.

In the morning, we had the legendary Sea Sail when the brave Laser sailors in their petites bateaux head out of the bay on to the wild and wooly Mediterranean Ocean for some wave sailing and informal racing.

Here are our intrepid sailors leaving the relative shelter of Fornells Bay as captured by Tillerwoman from her vantage point on the rocks.

And here is another Tillerwoman classic of 10 white dots in front of the Cap de Cavalleria, artistically framed by a cleft in the rocks. Can't you just feel how much fun we were having?

"Laser is love. Laser is LIFE!"

And then in the afternoon I did something I have never done in my life before… I had my first sail in an RS Aero.

I suppose I am going to have to write another blog post about that some time.

Sunday, October 05, 2014


As expected the video debrief on the Laser racing this evening at Minorca Sailing this year was somewhat embarrassing for me.

I settled in for the session with a large glass of beer to dull the inevitable pain.

First there was a shot of me sailing upwind on which the instructor made no comment even thought it looked to me like I was doing OK.

Then there was a shot of me sailing upwind on which the instructor pointed out to me that I wasn't sailing the boat flat enough and I should get my shoulders back more. Good feedback. Thanks.

Then there was a shot of me dropping the tiller in a tack and heading up and slowing down, so much in fact that I then had to duck a starboard tacker whom I thought I would cross. The instructor didn't need to make any comment. The many howls and hoots of derisions from the peanut gallery said it all.

I now hate those guys in the peanut gallery.

Those guys in the peanut gallery

Then a shot of me doing a leeward mark rounding. If I do say so myself, I thought it was pretty decent.

The instructor said it was "textbook."


I think that's a compliment.

It must be at least 20 years ago I went to a one day masters clinic at Wianno YC held before the Atlantic Coast Champs there. The coach was Brad Dellenbaugh. I still remember that Brad Dellenbaugh said I did an "excellent" gybe.

People remember positive feedback a long time.

Instructors and coaches and teachers should know that.



And so to bed.

Is that a tornado?

"Is that a tornado?"

I have been sailing for over 30 years in waters off 4 continents and taken classes from coaches and instructors in all sorts of places. I thought I had seen it all and heard it all. But I was wrong.

I had never heard a sailing coach, out with his class on the water, look at the sky and ask the class - or perhaps himself - "Is that a tornado?"

But it happened on the second day of our vacation at Minorca Sailing this year.

The weather forecast did call for thunderstorms during the day and as we set sail for the morning session of the Advanced Laser Class there were dark clouds in the sky and distant rumbles of thunder. The Minorca Sailing staff were closely monitoring the situation and warned us that the lesson would be curtailed if lightning was seen.

We sailed off to the designated area for our practice in a light northerly. The clouds got darker. The thunder got louder. And then our instructor looked over to the west and said the most unexpected thing… "Is that a tornado"?

I looked over to the west.  Everyone in the class looked over to the west. There was this lighter spirally cloud snaking down from the dark cloud towards the ground.

Yikes. I had never seen a tornado before. Never been to Kansas in my life. But it sure looked like a tornado.

It was decided that we should sail back closer to the beach. The thunder sounded louder. Lightning was spotted. It was decided we should sail back to the beach.

The squall hit us just as we hit the beach. Perfect timing.

The rest of the morning was spent in a question and answer session with two of the coaches in which I learned two things I had never heard before - a different twist on a way for spotting start line bias and a different method for pointing high in a Laser when it is tactically necessary.

Sailing is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get. As someone's Mama almost said.

But let me backtrack…

No wait. I first need to explain why I started this post by writing about the morning of the second day of our vacation. Why not start at the beginning?

Blame Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin is perhaps best known for writing biographies about American presidents.

I was listening to an interview with her on National Public Radio a few days ago and she told of how she started researching for a book about Nelson Rockefeller, who was Gerald Ford's vice-president.

Nelson Rockefeller

Doris (I hope I can call her Doris) said she had worked out a perfect opening for her book about Nelson Rockefeller. She was going to start with his death.

For those whose memory of American history (or scandals from the 70s) is as shaky as mine, you should know that Mr Rockefeller died, as they say, "in the saddle" or to put it another way "in flagrant delicto." Apparently the young lady concerned was one of his aides, Megan Marshack.

Megan Marshack

What a great way to start a book!  Sex, scandal and death!

Anyway, as you know, there's never any sex on this blog and I don't have a death or a scandal to report. So I decided to start this account of my 2014 Minorca Sailing vacation with a tornado.

If Doris Kearns Goodwin can write books in the wrong order then I can do the same in blog posts.

Where was I?

Where am I?

Oh yes. Backtracking in Minorca.

We arrived on Friday evening after an uneventful journey.

We went to the welcome dinner.

I learned some stuff about the RS Aero from one of the instructors.

I started to feel weird over dinner.

In the night I threw up.

In the morning I had a splitting headache and still felt weird.

I didn't sail in the morning.

I sailed a Laser around the bay on my own in the afternoon instead of trying out the RS Aero, because as one of my commenters said yesterday, "The Laser is pretty damn close to the perfect "classic" sailing dinghy. Laser is love, Laser is LIFE!"

After sailing I felt much better.

We went to another welcome party and I learned some more about the RS Aero from another instructor.

The second morning we had the tornado.

On the second afternoon I joined in with the Laser races. There were about 15 Lasers. I had terrible starts but I think I was "second full rig finisher who was not an instructor" in both races. So that's something.

They are going to show some video of the races later this evening so that is bound to be embarrasing.

I know. That last section is a bit boring.

It was a bit like writing about Nelson Rockefeller's work on the Federal Compensation Committee and the Committee on the Right to Privacy.

Poor fellow.

Nothing about him was quite as interesting as the manner of his death.

Probably the reason that Doris Kearns Goodwin never did get around to writing her book about him, even though she did have a very good idea for the opening.


This post is way too long.

Maybe I should finish it here with a nice picture of a tornado and lightning.

To be honest, today's tornado and lightning were not quite as spectacular as this, but I didn't have my iPhone with me on the boat so you'll just have to make do with this photo I found somewhere on the Interwebs.