Thursday, December 31, 2015

RS Aero News Roundup - December 2015

My friends and I have packed away our RS Aeros for the winter. Two of my friends are planning to enjoy some RS Aero sailing at Nonsuch Bay Resort in Antigua in a few weeks time,  and I have been racing my Laser with the fleet in Newport.

But there's plenty happening in other parts of RS Aero World.

1. The Extraordinary English
There's so much RS Aero sailing going on in England at this time of year that I can't keep up with all the news.

There's an RS Aero UK Winter Series with nine events in various locations from Cornwall to Yorkshire, including the UK Winter Championship at Oxford SC and one event at the last club I belonged to England before emigrating to the US, Rutland SC.

Somewhere in deepest England

There was an event at Lymington on the Sunday after Xmas where the trophy was awarded to the sailor or sailors with the best fancy dress...

English people dressed up in silly costumes

And on the same day, that energetic chappie, Peter Barton (far left below), the RS Aero international class manager, entered a multi-class pursuit race called Emsworth Slipper's Slipper Shiver (huh?) and won the day although I can't figure out what that weird trophy he is holding is. It's not a slipper.

The winners at Emsworth Slipper's Slipper Shiver

2. The Formidable French
When my sons were little whippersnappers we lived in England and often took the boys for camping holidays in the French region of Brittany. One of our favorite spots was Carnac on the south coast of Brittany. I was reminded of our happy summer holidays in Carnac when I saw this video of Gilles Peeters sailing his RS Aero downwind from Carnac, past La Trinite, then on to Arradon. Over two hours of downwind heaven, zig-zagging through the islands.

Wait. It gets even better. Rumor has it that the first RS Aero World Championship will probably be held in Carnac in 2017.

Sign me up!

3. The All-over-the-map Americans
Apparently close to 120 RS Aeros were delivered in North America this year. Reports of new RS Aero sightings keep popping up on the web all the time.

Here is Neil Ray sailing his RS Aero on a lake near Denver, Colorado

Rod Favela enjoying some sunny weather at Rush Creek YC near Dallas, Texas

And KO Sailing took some RS Aeros over to New Orleans to show them off at the North American Optimist Midwinters.

All over the map!

4. The Tempting Thais
I have another tempting place to put on my RS Aero bucket list after reading about the RS Aeros at the Royal Varuna YC in Thailand. Apparently a few RS Aero sailors (and some other boats) from RVYC took a sail this week to Sattahip, 21 miles away, to visit the the beautiful white sand beach at Had Nam Rong. After staying in the Navy Hotel overnight the group sailed back to the club the next day.

I know the Royal Varuna YC have run world championships for other classes before, including the Laser 4.7s one year.

Just saying.

5. The Babbling Baby
OK, this picture is just too cute not to include.

Jason came back to his boat after packing up and having a shower at the club to find his wife had found a new use for the Aero... Who would have thought it can substitute for a baby change table?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

You Need To Have A Boat If You Want To Run For President

It has been very educational and entertaining the last few months watching the TV debates among the candidates vying for the Republican Party nomination for the job of President of the United States.

There have been lots of hard hitting questions from the clever moderators on the various TV channels. But I have been disappointed that not one candidate has yet been asked the question that I would have asked. The question that reveals the character of a candidate, lets us see into his soul, and reveals his vision for America - "What kind of boat do you own?"

I have written before how a candidate's choice of watercraft has determined the outcome of other presidential elections. For example, John Kerry had no chance after he was revealed as a flip-flopping windsurfer.

And Mitt Romney was toast once it was discovered that he is the kind of guy who lets his wife drive his jet ski.

Fear not dear reader. Tillerman is hot on the trail of the answer to the boat question. Google will have all the answers for me....

Hmmm! It seems that most of the 17 (or is it 19 - I forget) Republican candidates either don't own boats, or they have done nothing with them of the merest significance that would even register on the Google machine.

More fools them!

Never trust a man who doesn't own a boat.

Who does that leave?

Well, the famous neurosurgeon and presidential candidate Ben Carson may not own a boat but he is on record with this fascinating tidbit of boating wisdom.
"If the ship is going off of Niagara Falls,
the barnacles– we can get them off later.
Let’s turn the ship around.”
Can't argue with that.

Dr. Carson may also have won some votes with his revelations during one debate that he is the only one of the candidates to have separated Siamese twins and the only candidate to have taken out half a brain.

Hmm! I'm not sure about the former but the latter might come in handy when dealing Congress.

The famous Fox News TV personality and preacher and bass guitar player, Mike Huckabee, is running for president (no really - he still is) and according to some sources he owns a "bass boat" although I haven't been able to find any photos of Mr. Huckabee on his bass boat. But I guess letting people know he owns a bass boat is good for his image as a good old Southern boy who likes a bit of huntin' and shooting' and fishin'.

Anyway here is a picture of a bass boat for what it's worth.

I really think it would boost Mr. Huckabee's poll numbers to let us see some photos of him driving a boat like this.

Currently the favorite of the Republican establishment, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is also running for president and apparently he does own a boat.

He was somewhat embarrassed when the New York Times reported that he had splurged $80,000 on a "luxury speedboat" although I don't see what's wrong with that. Anyway the good senator got one of his spokespersons to tell the press that it wasn't a "luxury speedboat" at all but was in fact an offshore fishing boat which is perfect for "safety-minded family boaters and avid anglers."

The spokesperson also sent out a link to a photo of a boat that is the same type as Senator Rubio's boat although not actually Senator Rubio's boat.


The issue of the boat did come up at a campaign event in New Hampshire and Senator Rubio had to explain that his boat couldn't be a "luxury speedboat" because he has to go to the bathroom off the side.

OK. Too much information.

Let's move on.

And finally we have the billionaire and reality TV star, Donald Trump, who currently has a massive lead in the national polls over all the other Republican hopefuls. I can't imagine the Donald ever apologizing about the size of his boat - or the size of his anything for that matter.

Mr. Trump's main campaign strategy seems to be boasting about how rich he is - which of course also proves how smart he is - and telling everyone else, the press, the other politicians how stupid they all are.

And Donald has a BOAT!

No! Donald has a SUPERYACHT!

It's HUGE!

No. Wait.

My information is a little out of date.

Mr. Trump did buy this boat from the Sultan of Brunei some years ago and renamed it the Trump Princess. (Mr. Trump likes to put his name on things.) But then he ran into one of his periodic little "financial difficulties" and had to sell the yacht to some Saudi Arabian prince.

That's too bad.

So there you have it.

The good doctor with his barnacle story, the preacher and his bass boat nobody has ever seen, the senator with his luxury speedboat cleverly disguised as a fishing boat, or the billionaire who had to sell his yacht to pay his creditors.

Who would you vote for?

No wonder some Republicans are feeling nostalgic for the good old days when Mitt Romney's jetski was running for president.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Gorge

The video says it all.

How come it took me until 2015 to discover this amazing sailing venue?

I have already booked my hotel for when I go back there in August.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Today in Newport

Who is that old guy with the beard?

Where did he get that hat?

Why does he have red, white and blue tape on his mast?

How did he manage to finish 5th (out of 43) in one race?

What did Tillerwoman have for dinner?

Sad News About Tillerwoman

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

Ride a White Swan

Marc Bolan, of T.Rex, had a big hit in the UK with Ride a White Swan.

45 years ago today, December 18 1970, T.Rex released their eponymous album T.Rex which included Ride a White Swan in its US version, but not the UK one.

I don't begin to understand what Marc was thinking about when he wrote this song. But, for me, the image of "riding a white swan" does have some relationship to sailing.

Ride it on out like a bird in the sky ways 
Ride it on out like you were a bird 
Fly it all out like an eagle in a sunbeam 
Ride it on out like you were a bird

Marc Bolan was killed in a car crash in London in 1977, two weeks before his 30th birthday.

Only the good die young.

The War on Christmas

Today, December 18, marks the day in 1620 when the Mayflower arrived in modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, and its passengers prepared to begin their new settlement, Plymouth Colony.

I know this because Facebook told me.

Actually Facebook told me that the Mayflower "docked" at Plymouth in 1620. But I don't think that can be correct. Who was there to build a "dock" for them? Surely the Native Americans didn't waste their time building a nice big dock on the off-chance that 130 refugees from Europe might need it one day?

Anyway, the Pilgrims arrived a week before their first Christmas in America which apparently passed uneventfully.

But some of the folk on the Mayflower were Puritans. The Puritans didn't really like Christmas. There was too much drinking and feasting and playing games and "wassailing" (whatever that is) for their liking.

On the second Christmas in the New World, the governor of the colony, William Bradford (who sounds like a bit of a sourpuss to me) told the colonists they had to work all day. Some newly arrived migrants from England didn't like that idea and the governor was appalled when he found them reveling in the street.  Governor Bradford was not a fan of reveling, especially on Christmas Day.

Governor William Bradford
Anti-Reveling Party - Massachusetts

Anyway, to cut a long story short, a few years later in 1859 the General Court of the colony banned the celebration of Christmas. Absolutely no Compotations, no Interludes, no Playing at Cards, no Revellings, and certainly no Mad Mirth was to be allowed. And if you got caught enjoying a bit of mirth on Christmas Day you could be fined five shillings which was a lot of money in those days.

Thus began the war on Christmas which according to Fox News is still rumbling on today.

Actually, the law banning the celebration of Christmas in Massachusetts was revoked by an English-appointed governor in 1681, which is just as well because four of my grandchildren now live in Massachusetts and it would be really sad if they weren't allowed to enjoy a traditional Christmas.

Monday, November 30, 2015

RS Aero News

There's a lot happening in RS Aero world these days.

RS Aero World

1. Perhaps the most exciting news is that the RS Aero Class has qualified for ‘world sailing (ISAF) class status’ following the recent World Sailing conference held in China. This is only 18 months after the launch of the class which is now being sailed in 41 nations, and the announcement comes in a week when the 793rd RS Aero was being shipped.

This status gives the class ISAF approval to run an official RS Aero World Championship. I understand discussions are underway as to whether to designate a 2016 event already being planned as the first RS Aero Worlds or wait until 2017. Watch this space!

A major contributing factor to the remarkable growth of the class has been the energetic efforts of our RS Aero International Class Manager - Peter Barton.

Peter Barton
RS Aero International Class Manager
Apparently having just won something
which looks vaguely rude.

Every class should be so lucky as to have a Peter Barton.

2. In the last few months, RS Aeros have been competing in regattas in all four corners of the United States.

 Ash Beatty and Hank Saurage in RS Aeros
and a bunch of other random boats
at the Wurstfest Regatta 
at Lake Canyon YC in Texas 

Ian Ponting and Jim Muir 
at the Goblin Regatta 
in Santa Barbara, California

Andy Mack, Todd Willsie and Michael O'Brien
wearing their cool RS Aero Seattle Fleet hats
at the Puget Sound Sailing Championship
in Seattle, Washington

Gary Werden and Eric Aker
2nd and 3rd RS Aeros
and a bunch of other random boats
at the Archipelago Rally
in Westport, Massachusetts.
Modesty prevents me from
naming the skipper of the first RS Aero.

3. 2016 is shaping up to be an even more exciting year for RS Aeros in North America. It looks like there will be an RS Aero Midwinters in Florida in March. And there will be a major east coast RS Aero regatta in Newport, Rhode Island in July and a major west coast RS Aero regatta in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon in August. 

RS Aeros at the Gorge in 2015

4. An RS Aero has even been spotted racing at that bastion of Laser sailing, the Cedar Point YC Laser frostbite fleet. What is the world coming to?

Spot the RS Aero

5. I have always thought the RS Aero is a pretty cool-looking boat but it seems that RS Aero owners in some parts of the world are turning their RS Aeros into veritable works of art. Some Swedish RS Aero owners have been "coloring" their boats green or pink or orange or blue with vinyl wraps above the water line...

But the prize for best decorated RS Aero must go to Chris, from South Australia, who has named his boat 'Yes!' as in, "Yes! This is the boat I have been waiting for all my life."


I know exactly how he feels.

Confession and correction: Apologies to Hank Saurage for allowing auto-correct to spell his name as Hank Sausage in the first version of this post. 

For the record, Hank is not a sausage.

This is a sausage.

This is a Hank.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Ten years ago today I became a grandfather.

Nine years ago today I posted this collage of shots from the first year of my granddaughter, Emily.

This is how she looks now.

Happy Birthday Emily!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Laser Radial Womens Worlds 2015

The Laser Radials Womens Worlds are being held in Oman this week.

All the world's top women Radial sailors are there - including the contenders for medals at the Olympics next year.

After ten races, going into the final day, Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) and Evi Van Acker (BEL) are tied on points, with Marit Bouwmeester (NED) the reigning World Champion and silver medalist at the London Olympics in 2012 just four points behind these two.

Anne-Marie Rindom 

Evi Van Acker 

Marit Bouwmeester

Who will be the new world champion?

Will these women be among the medal winners in Rio!?

Mirror Mania!

Was the Mirror Dinghy the start of the dinghy sailing boom in the UK?

Is it the reason why Britain has won more Olympic gold medals in sailing than any other nation?

Friday, November 20, 2015

If I Had A Boat

If I had a boat 
I'd go out on the ocean
And if I had a pony
I'd ride him on my boat 
And we could all together 
Go out on the ocean 
Me upon my pony on my boat


Ride a pony on a boat?

A little boat like a a Laser or an RS Aero?

What a ridiculous idea!

What on earth is Lyle Lovett singing about?

Well it may mean different things to different people. But it seems to me that this is some kind of escapist fantasy. As a boy I always dreamed of owning a boat and going out on the ocean in it. And my granddaughters have been known to say they want ponies for their birthdays. (Not that any of then have had that wish fulfilled. At least not yet!) Is the central theme of this song a combination of those two childhood wishes?

Not that escaping on a boat is merely a childhood dream. For me, and I suspect for many people, the appeal of sailing is that it takes us away from the everyday life of working and living in little boxes and driving in little boxes on roads, and shopping in big boxes (ugh - I hate supermarkets) and bills to pay and the Internet and computers and phones and blogging...

Stop! I need to finish this blog post.

For some of us, sailboat racing provides relief from the pressures and tedium of everyday life. For others, just taking a small boat like a Laser or an RS Aero out to play on the ocean in big waves is their escape route.

But what is Mr. Lovett trying to escape from?

Maybe the first verse will give us a clue?

If I were Roy Rogers 
I'd sure enough be single 
I couldn't bring myself to marrying old Dale 
It'd just be me and Trigger 
We'd go riding through them movies 
Then we'd buy a boat and on the sea we'd sail


He doesn't want to marry "old Dale." He is pulling back from a relationship with a woman...

Roy and Dale

 ... and going back to a childhood fantasy of a man and his horse. 

Roy and Trigger

Maybe the song is about the bitterness of a man who was hurt in a romantic relationship that went wrong?

But wait. What is in the second verse?

The mystery masked man was smart 
He got himself a Tonto 
'Cause Tonto did the dirty work for free 
But Tonto he was smarter 
And one day said kemo sabe 
Kiss my ass I bought a boat 
I'm going out to sea

Lone Ranger and Tonto

The Lone Ranger.  A man and his horse. But now the singer identifies with the lone ranger's Indian companion who "did all the dirty work for free." And it is Tonto who says "kiss my ass" to the boss and goes off on his boat to escape. Or is there an undertone of a sexual relationship here too? Whatever the nature of the relationship it's clear that the image of going out on the ocean on a boat (with or without a pony) is a release from a human bond which the singer wishes to escape.

But things get even more confused in the third verse.

And if I were like lightning 
I wouldn't need no sneakers 
I'd come and go wherever I would please 
And I'd scare 'em by the shade tree 
And I'd scare 'em by the light pole 
But I would not scare my pony 
On my boat out on the sea

Lightning? Sneakers? What does that have to do with the other verses? Well I guess it's all about escape and freedom again so he can "come and go wherever I would please." But there's a touch of anger and maybe even revenge too.  "I'd scare 'em by the shade tree and I'd scare 'em by the light pole." Who does he want to scare? The mysterious woman? Her new partner? The boss man? All of the above? Whatever the source of his rage it is in contrast to his liberation with his pony on his boat out on the sea.


I guess I really am no good at analyzing song lyrics.

All of the above is probably utter nonsense.

You are probably laughing at me because I am too naive to understand the true meanings of "pony" and "ride" and "lightning."  They are likely references to drugs or sex or both, subjects of which I know so little.

So how do YOU explain this weird little song?

This post was inspired by today's post on Damian's excellent blog, The Final Beat,  which is about a different song called If I Had A Boat sung by a musician friend of Damian's.

If I Had A Boat - the Lyle Lovett song not the one by Damian's friend - was one of the the Top 10 Sailing Songs in a vote held by Adam in 2007 on his excellent blog Messing About in Sailboats.