Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Phone rings.

I answer phone. After what seems like an unusual delay for a normal call, someone with an adult male voice comes on the line.

"Grandpa, it's me."

Hmm. My eldest grandson is 7 years old.

It's not him. In any case all my grandkids call me "Granddad" not "Grandpa."

"Hello!" I say cautiously.

"It's me, your grandson."


"It's me. Your eldest grandson!"

"Really? What's your name?"


"Sorry. My eldest grandson isn't called Steve. You obviously have the wrong number."

I hang up.

Did I just dodge one of those "Your grandson is in jail and you need to send $5,000 to bail him out!" scams?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hey Mr. Aero-Man

Hey Mr. Aero-man sail your boat for me
I'm just jealous and there is no place I'm going to
Hey Mr. Aero-man sail your boat for me
In the sailing blogosphere I'll come followin' you.

Though I know the former empire is turning into sand
Vanished from the land
Left me blindly here to stand
But still not sleeping.

My weariness amazes me
I'm stranded on the beach
I'm much too old to teach
This ancient empty crowd's too dead for dreaming.

Hey Mr. Aero-man sail your boat for me
I'm just jealous and there is no place I'm going to
Hey Mr. Aero-man sail your boat for me
In the sailing blogosphere I'll come followin' you.

Let me take a trip upon your brand new shiny ship
My ratchet block's been stripped
My hands can't feel to grip
My toes too numb to hike
Wait only for my boot heels to be wandering.

I'm ready to sail anything,
I'm ready to upgrade
I'll even do a trade
Cast RS Sailing's deal my way
I promise to consider it.

Hey Mr. Aero-man sail your boat for me
I'm just jealous and there is no place I'm going to
Hey Mr. Aero-man sail your boat for me
In the sailing blogosphere I'll come followin' you.

And we all can hear wiser voices
Saying my old boat is done
This old tub is such a yawn
I'm just looking for more fun
And I have no idea why I've lost the joy in racing.

And if you hear vague traces
Of voices bleating in the wind
Saying you're too fast for him
It's just some losers way behind
I wouldn't pay them any mind
It's just a wave that I'm seeing that I'm chasing.

Hey Mr. Aero-man sail your boat for me
I'm just jealous and there is no place I'm going to
Hey Mr. Aero-man sail your boat for me
In the sailing blogosphere I'll come followin' you.

Then take me Aero sailing
On endless screaming planes
Without any hiking pains
It's easier on my knees
And way more fun in breeze
Out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.

Yes, to sail beneath the diamond sky
With one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea
Surrounded my friends
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

Hey Mr. Aero-man sail your boat for me
I'm just jealous and there is no place I'm going to
Hey Mr. Aero-man sail your boat for me
In the sailing blogosphere I'll come followin' you.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Boat Races - and Wellington Boots

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, Tillerwoman and I were able to watch the Boat Races today on American TV only about 6 or 7 hours after they actually happened. They were shown on the Universal Channel which, according to Wikipedia is "a television channel specializing in movies and television series in the thriller, drama, comedy, horror, crime and investigation genres."

I am not sure which of these genres the Boat Races are classified in, but they are certainly a "series" as the men's University Boat Race has been held 161 times going back to 1829. A bit older than the America's Cup you should note.

What is even more amazing is that my own alma mater, Cambridge University, has qualified for the boat race finals in every one of the 161 times it has been held. A bit better than the New England Patriots record in making the Superb Owl you should note.

Anyway, the program on the Universal channel - in line with its reputation for horror series - first of all showed the plucky ladies from Cambridge almost sinking on their way to a honorable second place in their race.

And then on to the men's race featuring Cambridge and some other dudes.

I must admit both Tillerwoman and I very much admired those fetching Wellington boots that the Cambridge men wore when launching their boat, and again while spraying each other with champagne at the awards ceremony. I can just see me wearing some boots like this when launching my RS Aero at Massapoag Yacht Club.

Apparently "The Official Men's Cambridge Boat Race Boots" can be bought for only £100 at this website but it doesn't say if they deliver to the USA or if £100 is the price for one boot, or a pair.

I did point out to Tillerwoman that I would look even more fetching if I had a pair of those matching pale green tights worn by a couple of the Cambridge men in the photo at the top of this post. Not to mention that they would be very convenient for protecting my sensitive parts from the very rough anti-skid on the RS Aero. Tillerwoman didn't seem to share my enthusiasm for this option.

Anyway, be that as it may, Cambridge beat the other dudes... making it a very happy Easter.

For anyone interested in my own Cambridge rowing career, check out My Rowing Career.

Cambridge Women Extend Winning Streak

The Cambridge University women's team came second in the University Boat Race today after almost sinking in the rough conditions on the River Thames.

Congratulations to the ladies from Cambridge who have come first or second in the University Boat Race for an amazing streak of 71 races going back to 1927.

Friday, March 25, 2016

RS Aeros at the Gorge 2015

Here is a terrific video by Yannick Gloster of the big RS Aero event at the Columbia River Gorge last year.


What's this?

Who is that sailor in the white cap who comes into view at around 0:33?

Woo hoo! It's me! Look at me Mom!

Conclusive proof that I was actually in front of some other boats some of the time!

Yannick is clearly very confused as to why he is behind me, so a few seconds later he decides to capsize his boat and take a good look at what might be wrong with the bottom of his hull.

Just before 2:00 another sailor capsizes near a buoy. I think it could be me. Thank god it's too far away to read my sail number and make a positive identification. But I did spend a lot of time practicing my capsize recoveries in the last race of Day1.

Hmmm. That kid looks way too happy as he flashes a grin at the old geezer struggling in the water he has just passed.

Check out the whole video for an excellent insight into a regatta that was one of the most enjoyable events of my sailing year last year. It's got me all fired up about going out west again for the RS Aero US Nationals in August.

Thanks Yannick.

Look forward to seeing you there too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Upwind Speed in the RS Aero

Another Self Coaching video from Penny Clark, this one on upwind speed.

The good bit - i.e. the RS Aero bit - starts around 1:20.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Starting Drills in the RS Aero

Thanks to Judith Krimski, our awesome New England Laser District Secretary, for drawing my attention to this excellent video on how to practice starting skills by British Olympian turned coach, Penny Clark.

It shows some starting drills with a Laser Radial, an RS Aero and an RS 200 doing the demonstrations.

Especially nice to see a coaching video for the RS Aero. Let's hope we see a few more in the coming months.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Laser Speed Sailing

After videos of a Flying Scot and a Sunfish and Lasers blasting around, here is a video of Laser sailing where the sailor actually measured and reported his speed.

Any advance on 14 knots?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

2010 Heavy Weather Laser Slalom

Blowing 25 knots.

4 foot seas.

32 Laser sailors.

Sailing in San Francisco.

What more could you wish for?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Insane Sunfish Sailing

After Sunday's video of some Flying Scot sailors having a blast on a day when racing was cancelled because the winds were too heavy, here is some "Insane Sunfish Sailing" from Stewart Draheim's YouTube channel.

Any guesses as to how fast this dude is going?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Flying Scot 30 Second Plane - Quannapowitt YC

RS Aero sailors all over the world have been measuring their speeds on wild planing reaches with various GPS devices and reporting their results in the Speed Freaks Challenge. Ron Fergusson currently holds the Australian record at 15.6 knots, but the UK sailors have been blowing everyone else away, topped by a recent amazing performance by Anthony 'Chunky' York of 23.9 knots!

But it's not only RS Aero sailors who enjoy blasting about on reaches. The video above is from Eric Wojtaszek's YouTube channel and was filmed on the day when the Chaos Cup at Quannapowitt YC in Massachusetts in 2010 was cancelled due to high winds.

So what else is there to do when racing is cancelled because of high winds? Go for a blast. Make a video. Record your speed.

Any guesses as to how fast that Flying Scot is going?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Some Madman There Going The Wrong Way

I found this photo on the Laser Fleet 413 Facebook page. I think it must have been taken when I was racing in Newport on Feb 21 - the day of my wardrobe malfunction.

That's me in 157812 - apparently sailing the wrong way. Or at least the opposite way to almost everybody else.

It reminded me somewhat of that famous Irish commentary on the Radial racing at the 2012 Olympics.

Check out what happens at 0:40.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Palma Roll

People say the Laser is an old design, but there's something new every year in Laser technique.

Have you learned how to do this yet?

Thursday, March 03, 2016

The Burning of the Socks

It will soon be time for the Burning of the Socks.

Are you ready for it?

Throwback Thursday - sNIPEOUT...

I went searching through the archives of Proper Course to find something suitable for Throwback Thursday. After all, when you have been writing the same blog for 11 years, some of the earlier posts are positively ancient.

From March 2006, 10 years ago, I found Loaded the Woodcock, some instructions - with illustrations - about how to load a Snipe on a road trailer and what might go wrong, which I thought was somewhat amusing because I had made a very bad translation from the Italian original using what was then called Google Language Tools.

The original was from an Italian blog sNIPEOUT...

Much to my surprise I discovered that sNIPEOUT... is still going strong.

Even better, the author is clearly following this blog and has been reposting some of my RS Aero stories...

A quick check on the RS Aero Class page shows that there don't seem to be many RS Aeros in Italy yet.

Maybe these RS Aero stories on sNIPEOUT...  will change that?

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

RS Aero News Roundup February 2016

A lot of happenings have been happening in RS Aero World in February...

1. The Batty British
It seems like in England in February it was "a bit windy," as the British would say with their typical love of understatement. But this did not deter the hardy British RS Aero sailors from taking to the water, and as a result we saw some spectacular videos and photos.

It was blowing racoons off rocks in Rutland (as they say there) enabling Martin Hewitt to do this perfect demonstration of how to stand an RS Aero on its bow. (The good bit starts at 1:20)

And it was blowing llamas off logs in Lymington (another local expression) when Peter Barton was captured in this shot showing us all...
  • how to hike on a reach
  • why the RS Aero tiller is as long as it is
  • Peter's total disregard for the local speed limit.

Talking of breaking speed limits, it was nuking nyalas off nut trees in Northampton when Anthony
York aka "Chunky" broke the 20 knot barrier, setting a new RS Aero world speed record.

What will those Batty British do next?

2. The Antipodean Australians
Meanwhile, on the other side of he world, the RS Aero roll-out has been so successful in Australia that it was possible to hold the first RS Aero Australian Nationals at Royal Brighton Yacht Club on Port Phillip Bay on 6/7 Feb. David Rickard, a visiting Aussie from Gurnard Sailing Club on the Isle of Wight UK, won the championship ahead of Brian Case (Royal Geelong YC) and Ron Fergusson (Albert SC) with some great sailing in the 12 boat fleet combining Aero 5 and Aero 7 on a handicap basis.

Hmmm. Must keep an eye on the Australian RS Aero regatta schedule for this time next year. I love Australia and Australians. (I am married to one.)

3. The Amazing Americans
It may be winter in the Northern hemisphere (and I have to confess my RS Aero has not left its cozy winter quarters in my garage this year yet) but there has been plenty of stuff happening on the North American RS Aero scene.

On the Feb 19-21 weekend, those energetic chappies at West Coast Sailing organized three days of RS Aero demos at two different yacht clubs in the San Francisco Bay area.

Check out Peter Weigt's superb photos on Flickr of the demos at Sequoia YC. Judging by their smiles these two sailors seem to have liked the RS Aero! (Photos by Peter Weigt.)

Meanwhile, a little further south in California, RS Aero sailors from the Santa Barbara fleet were training for the RS Aero US Nationals at the Gorge later this year, with a practice session on Lopez Lake, CA.

I see that RS Aeros have also been spotted at various other locations in North America....

Muscle Shoals Sailing Club
Tennessee River, Alabama

Chris McGraw

David Chadwick

and at Carolina Sailing Club
on Jordan Lake North Carolina.
Anthony Corkell 
sailing his RS Aero
in the Portsmouth Handicap fleet 

I realized that things were getting seriously competitive in RS Aero World when two of my fellow members of the Boston RS Aero Fleet headed off to Nonsuch Bay Resort in Antigua in February for some heavy duty off-season race training.

Doesn't it look awful?

One of my friends reported that the all-inclusive option at NonSuch Bay included drinks, gourmet meals and unlimited sailing. Sounds terrible.

Both my friends agreed that Nonsuch Bay would be a superb place to host a Midwinters RS Aero Regatta, but I can't see why anyone would want to go to a place with warm water and free drinks when they could be at home in New England enjoying the character building experience of shoveling snow for days after massive snow falls and relishing that tingling feeling when you wake up to find the temperature is 40 degrees below freezing.

Be that as it may, we in the Boston fleet are busy planning for the 2016 season. Our intrepid east coast RS Aero class leader Eric Aker has sent us a long list of all the things we should be doing to build the class around here and has called a meeting for later this week in order to draw up something rather ominous sounding called an ACTION PLAN.

Actually I have to admit there are some pretty good ideas on his list.

More on that in future posts perhaps.

Watch this space.