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Vexilar SonarPhone T-Pod, WiFi fishfinder in a bobber!

Tue, 2014-04-15 21:45

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 15, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

It’s 2014 and a sealed plastic 5-inch bobber can indeed contain a fairly able 400 Watt, 125 kHz fishfinder and a WiFi radio, plus enough rechargeable battery to run both for a few hours. The SonarPhone T-Pod will strike many as a toy, but it actually works quite well considering its small size and price tag ($130). And the manufacturer Vexilar puts the same technology into models meant to install on small boats, which means that dedicated iPad (or Android tablet) boaters do indeed have a fishfinder option…

That’s the SonarPhone T-Pod kit above, my iPad mini excepted. The bobber has a waterproof three-pin port that accepts a battery charge via that USB cable, and submerging the pins in water is also what turns the T-Pod on. In fact, if I’d videoed this in dimmer light you’d see that the T-Pod was glowing green and blinking because it was powered up and transmitting. (The shorter wire is used to reset the T-Pod to factory defaults, because in 2014 you might also space out the password to your fishfinder bobber ;-)

To test the T-Pod I hauled out a lovely 7-foot surf casting rig inherited from my dad, and I’d like to think I’m showing some pretty good form in the photo above. I can get the bobber at least 100 feet out on the harbor or lake (I’m getting better) and then check out what it’s seeing on my Android phone in the included wrist case, either as it drifts in current or as I reel it in. The main market, of course, is fishermen who stand on bridges or banks, but there are other uses. In this case, for instance, the photographer is my friend and Wayfarer Marine dockmaster Ben Cashen, who’s concerned about a possible bottom “lump” along the fuel dock. We decided to put the project off to warmer weather, but I can even picture explorers standing on their bow using a T-Pod to check out a possible, but poorly charted, anchorage.

Here’s an iPad mini screen of the T-Pod in action on the iOS SonorPhone app. The menu button cycles through three menus that you can then browse and change with the big direction arrows. It works fine for me on both iPad and phone, and actually you can, at least, view the T-Pod output with both at once. One device acts as the control “master” and the other is a view-only “slave.” This is fully developed software, not a toy (excellent online manual here).

Above is a collage of three Android SonarPhone app screens. The only difference I noticed from the iOS app is the indication of WiFi strength. I didn’t test Vexilar’s claim of a 100 yard WiFi range, but I was pretty amazed that it worked as well as it did, even when almost submerged in wavelets. I also didn’t test with real fish, which may have something to do with the 39 degree water temperature the device measured. In that first screen I had turned on both the fish symbols and depth, but what the T-Pod was actually seeing was a schooner’s winter anchor line. Most any fishfinder I’ve tried can make that mistake. The last screen shows how nicely the app can switch from portrait to landscape mode, and also what a clean dredged harbor bottom looks like when you occasionally pull the transducer out of the water and cast it again.

This final photo shows the $150 SonarPhone T-Box SP200, designed for permanent boat mount. I haven’t tried it yet, but note that it has a 200/83 kHz dual beam transducer and that the apps can purportedly switch frequencies or show the fish that are in the 40-degree wide 83 kHz beam but not in the 20-degree wide higher frequency beam. (And note that there’s already a dual frequency Deeper fishfinder bobber that communicates with apps over Bluetooth and looks pretty sexy.)
In conclusion, a fisherman in a small boat might be quite happy switching between a T-Box and a charting app, as long as he or she can see their mobile device screen (a bit of shade often needed in my experience). Greater integration of WiFi fishfinder and charting apps is obviously possible — and on my scale of boating mobile devices will be secondary for a very long time (I think) — but hat’s off to Vexilar for putting together an able, sophisticated, and reasonably priced “toy”.

Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.

Random thoughts on random designs,,,,,just because

Tue, 2014-04-15 11:09

I have been thinking about a post like this for a while. Regular readers will know that I don’t always have something to say. I know that the blog is supposed to be about boats but my family is a huge part of my life and the short of it is I like sharing that joy. But today I will pick a selection of boats pics from my large library and post them here. I will add some comments to each photo and maybe give you some insights into thoughts I have about the boat that you would not normally see published. We’ll see how it goes.

This first photo shows the C54 ketch built in Taiwan at Ta Chiao Shipyards. I was 28 years old when I did this design. Imagine that. I wanted very badly to make my name as a yacht designer. I was contacted by a Long Beach high school shop teacher, John Edwards. He had seen a design of mine published and he liked it. He wanted me to design a big ketch that could be built in Taiwan. Taiwan? I didn’t even know where Taiwan was at the time. But I was broke, uncertain with my present job and I wanted a way out to work on my own so I jumped at the chance. I charged Edwards $750 for the design and a $350 per boat royalty. Boy I was really going for the gold! I had not a clue what I was doing in terms of design fees. But I started in on producing the design for a 47′er. Edwards made a trip to Taiwan with my drawings and came back and said the price was even better than he had anticipated so we could make the boat bigger, 54′. I said fine not even thinking to add some money to the design fee for the big change. Keep in mind I was 28. I really did not know much about yacht design despite having been immersed in it since I was 15 years old. I had studied and studied but there are so many little things to know that you have to become deeply professionally involved in to reach the place where you can truly learn yacht design. But with the limited experience I had I managed to produce a handsome ketch. When I look at this old drawing today I see love. I see a rough kid in love with his work and trying very hard to produce a high quality design product. Of course it isn’t “high quality” I didn’t know enough at the time to reach that level. But I sure as hell tried. I enlisted the help of veteran designer Ted Brewer to help me with the structural elements of the design. I think Ted charged me $150 for his time. Generous. Ted in one letter referred to me as a “yacht designer”. Up until that time I had written “boat designer” in my title blocks. I did not think I qualified yet to call myself a “yacht designer”. But Ted called me a yacht designer and he should know so just maybe I am a yacht designer. I began to write “yacht designer” after my name. In no time at all the boat was being built. Then something strange happened. C.T. Chen, the eldest of the Chen brothers who owned the yard, contacted me and said there was a legal dispute with Edwards, the first of many problems Edwards had in Taiwan. He went on to found the Hans Christian line.. C.T. asked me how much I had been paid for the design. I explained that I had received $350 and another $350 was due when the first boat was finished. C.T. asked me who owned the design at this stage. I said I still owned it until the final; $350 had been paid. C.T.asked, if he paid it would he own the design. Being very, very naive legally I said yes. A week later I received a check from C.T. for $750. The design was now his. He used my letter in court to gain control of the project for Ta Chaio.With my huge check I went straight out into the Boston winter and bought a warm coat. I was living in Boston at that time working for Dick Carter. A few months passed and then I received a series of photos of my design, the CT 54, sitting outside the shed. It was beautiful. It looked just like my drawings. I was amazed and very happy. One of the very first 54′s was shipped to San Francisco. The owner flew me down to sail the boat for two days. I was in heaven and pleased with my creation. This began a long term relationship with my friends at Ta Chaio, CT, CS, ST and Wayne Chen. They would all become very important people in my life in Taiwan as my business there exploded. The Ta Chaio yard became my second home in Taiwan. I was even invited to CT’s mother’s 80th birthday party. I was the only non Taiwanese person there. I was honored. A few months back, Robert Chen. son of one of the Chen brothers came and stayed with me here at my beach shack. That was also an honor. My work in Taiwan with Ta Chaio was the start of a long involvement with Taiwan. I consider my days in Taiwan working out in the boat yard, on the floor with a bunch of non English speaking workers around me some of the happiest moments of my life. I love Taiwan. I made a strong effort to learn Mandarin but honestly it is still a struggle. Woa ce ce can”, “I do my best”. Ta Chiao built 100 CT 54′s. That’s darn good for a kid’s first fiberglass design. They are great boats. I chartered on in the BVI’s for 2 weeks. When my boys first saw the CT 54 one of them said, “It’s just like a pirate ship Dad”. Perfect! I enjoyed it very much. The CT 54 was replaced by the CT 56. I think it was a much better design but it did not sell as well as the 54. There probably are a number of reasons for this. The CT 56 was followed by the CT 65. I worked hand in hand with Wayne Chen on this design. Then built about 30 of them as I recall. Many went to Europe where they are called the Scorpio 72. It is a magnificent vessel and as usual I am very proud of my design work on this project. I spent many happy hours crawling around on this deck plug while the yard was building it. It is an amazing deck design. The famous Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy owns a CT 65. Well, this blog entry kind of developed a mind of it’s own. I didn’t intend to just blog about the CT boats. But, there you have it. This was an important part of my life. Yacht building in Taiwan was just getting going. Some designers thought I was nuts for working with the Taiwanese. I was starving. I had no choice. But in time I learned to treasure my time and my involvement with Taiwan. Working with several yards in Taiwan I produced some very beautiful and well built yachts that have gone on to become icons of the cruising market. I will cover more of them in upcoming posts. I traveled to Taiwan frequently for many years. I have been called an “egg”. That means “white on the outside and yellow on the inside.” I take it as a compliment. I was standing in the hotel lobby one morning waiting to be picked up when I heard the PA system chatter away. I ignored it. I hard it chatter some more, then some more and I finally realized that I was being paged to the telephone in Mandarin! “Pang Roa Bor (my Mandarin name) da dinghwa”. I glowed with pride. I hope this entry has been as much fun for you to read as it has been for me to write.

Arctic Sailing with Erik de Jong on ‘Bagheera’

Tue, 2014-04-15 08:06

This is a difficult one to post, because Erik first asked Mia and I to sail with him, south from Baffin Island to Halifax in September. Alas, we’ll be in Sweden (sailing on our own boat), but what an experience this could be! All the photos here are courtesy of Erik de Jong.

Anyway, I’ve been talking with Erik a lot, and he’s got several bunks available for his summer cruise to Greenland starting May 18. (By the way, Erik was on the podcast a few episodes back – listen here for more info on him and what he does with Bagheera). So I’m enthusiastically helping him to fill them!

Erik’s story is pretty amazing – listen to the podcast to hear it from him – his parents are as into sailing as he is, and as a unit, they’ve been as far north as Spitsbergen and back and forth across the Atlantic a bunch of times. Erik and his dad actually built Bagheera in their backyard in Holland, and Erik crossed the far north Atlantic to Halifax on the boat’s maiden voyage (where he now lives and works as a ship designer – in fact, he’s responsible for designing the Adventure 40 that John Harries has written so much about on morganscloud.com). And Erik’s only 32! 

I’m planning a trip up to Halifax to pick Erik’s brain about sailing the coast of Norway and Spitsbergen, but I won’t get the chance to sail with him until at least next year. Here’s yours.

From Erik:

“I have the following bunks still available:

Halifax to Nuuk: 14 day delivery from Canada to Greenland, two places available. May 18th to 31st. USD 1080 per person.

Nuuk to Ilulissat: 14 day coastal trip in Greenland, two places available. 02 to 15 June. USD 2550 per person.

Disko Bay area: 14 days in central Greenland, two places available. Sailing between Killer whales, bowhead whales and huge Icebergs. Coastal sailing. 16 to 29 June. USD 2550 per person.

Farthest North Expedition: 3 weeks, what’s in a name? This is what we will do, sail north till the ice won’t let us go any further. Two places available. 13 of August to 02 of September. USD 5750 per person.

Delivery from Baffin Island to Halifax: Max. 4 persons USD 1500 per person, 2 weeks starting September 3rd. If desired, we can make it 3 weeks and spend some time along the coast of Baffin Island.

The above prices include 3 meals a day, drinks, bed linens, etc. It does NOT inlcude: airfares, hotels etc. on the way to the vessel, or after leaving the vessel nor does it include alcoholic beverages.”

So get on it people, this is the opportunity of a lifetime! Hopefully I’ll be sailing more with Erik next year and can tell you all about it, but in the meantime, you can tell me about it!

More details can be found on Erik’s website at bagheera-sailing.com/2014.html

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Proud Ye ye

Mon, 2014-04-14 11:41

My two beautiful boys.

“Ye ye”is mandarin for grandpa and yes I am obviously a very proud grandpa. I’m “Grampy”.
This weekend I got even more proud with the arrival of my first grandson, Drake Shaw Perry, 8lbs. 5 oz, a strapping young fellow. Looks just like me. Basically.

I never knew a grandpa. My maternal grandfather, Angelo Dante Guiseppi Nanelli died  at 42 well before I was born. My father’s dad, Howard Elmer Perry, I didn’t meet until we moved here from Australia. I was 12 years old and “Grampy” was a handsome old vegetable in a chair. I’m pretty sure he never said two words to me. So I am going to have to make the whole grandpa thing up as I go along. I think I am doing fine with Violet so I should be fine with Drake.

I’ll keep you posted whether you like it or not.

Naked in Public: Sauna Etiquette from the Swedes

Mon, 2014-04-14 09:24

No, that’s not a sign meaning old ladies can sit in the shower…that’s a sauna! This is the public showers at the marina in Mariehamn, Åland.

Disclaimer: there is lots of naked talk in this post! No lewd photos or harsh language, but we’re going to talk about being naked in public. Sound uncomfortable? Well, now you know how I felt the first time I went in the sauna with my wife and her best friend.

This piece has been a long time in the making, and it starts with a story from Finland. My first winter in Sweden was in 2007/08. My sister Kate flew over from the USA to join us for the period between Christmas and New Year’s (‘mellandagarna’ in Swedish – literally the ‘between days’), and we three took the ferry from Stockholm to the Åland Islands to ring in 2008 with Mia’s best friend Johanna (whom I had met the same day that I met Mia, on that bus in New Zealand. They were traveling together).

Åland’s flag, a mix of Sweden and Finland, just like the culture.

Åland is an interesting place. It’s technically part of Finland, but has an autonomous government, their own flag, and the populace speaks Swedish. But because the people are technically Finnish – and proud of it – they have a love for a good sauna. I knew this, thanks to Mia, and I also knew that you’re not allowed in the sauna, especially in Finland, with any clothes on. When Johanna’s dad asked me to join him then I politely declined. Tryggve – that’s his name, and good luck pronouncing it – strikes a rather intimidating figure. He’s a bear of a man, a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. He works as a plumber and drinks Finnish beer from the can. Our only exchange, aside from him asking if I wanted a sauna, was when he pointed at the TV when the news showed a clip of then-President Bush, then pointed at me and laughed. No thanks, I’d skip the sauna. (I’ve gotten to know Tryggve since then, most recently when we sailed Arcturus to his summer house on Åland last summer. Now that I can speak Swedish, we have a lot to talk about. He’s still a bear of a man, but he’s got a very soft heart and was a fabulous host.)

Clint Wells, one of my best friends, and part of the reason I’m married to Mia. This is New Year’s Eve 2011 in Åland.

So my first experience with the sauna was a non-experience, but it set the ground rules, and I knew it was only inevitable before I’d take the plunge. In 2011/12, we were back in Åland for another New Year’s Eve with Johanna, this time joined by my best friend Clint (the British ‘wanker’ whom I was traveling with when I met Mia and Johanna in New Zealand, and who crossed the Atlantic with us on Arcturus).

The hardest part was that I knew it was coming. We’d been planning the New Year’s Eve trip with Clint and Johanna for some time, and Johanna’s family has a sauna in the house (all Finns do – over there, a sauna is not a luxury but a necessity. Like having a toilet. Once there was as Finnish boat in the ARC rally that had converted their forepeak into a sauna, cedar paneling and all. The crew enjoyed it mid-Atlantic, and took photos to prove it!). So there was a certain measure of anticipation that made the whole thing more…challenging. Put it this way – I knew, at a precise time in the future, that I’d be joining my wife and her beautiful best friend for a naked rendezvous in the sauna. Two tall, blonde Scandinavian women in their birthday suits. Picture that. Clint and I would try hard not to stare.

Mia and Johanna, only a week or two after we all first met, sailing in New Zealand. You can use your imagination…

To the girls, this was nothing out of the ordinary. Johanna said it best. “Boobs are just boobs. They’re not sexual until you start playing with them!” Touche. But in American – and British – culture, that’s not always the case. We’ve got a messed up sense of our own sexuality (thank the Puritans I guess, and they came from England), so anytime there’s nudity involved the mind tends to wander.

The day came. The four of us went for a long run around the countryside. It was late December, but the temperature was just above freezing. It was raining, drizzly rain that Mia and I like to call ‘Sverige regn’ (‘Swedish rain’). It doesn’t come down hard, but it’s a soaking, chilling rain. We came back saturated and freezing.

The sauna at Johanna’s family’s house is in the basement, attached to the back of the downstairs bathroom. It’s big enough (the bathroom), that the four of us went in, with towels on. Johanna abruptly took hers off – in mid conversation with me, though it beats me what we talked about! – and proceeded to rinse off in the shower. Right in front of me, fully exposed, and 100% comfortable.

“You have to shower before you go in the sauna,” she says. Apparently it helps open the pores. If your skin is dry, the heat can be overwhelming.

Mia took her turn, and then Clint and I after. We had towels in the sauna, but they were for sitting on. Mia and Johanna occupied the higher bench, with Clint and I sat on the lower level, all four of us facing the door. I focused my gaze on the fire and the hot stones, but my mind would not let go of the image of my two favorite girls in the flesh sitting behind me and baring it all.

But you know what? It was okay! I didn’t embarrass myself (you know what I mean) despite my wandering mind. We spent a long time in the sauna that first go enjoying really fun conversation and getting really comfortable with each other, and Clint and I got comfortable being totally naked around our best friends and lovers, without any sexual tension.

We got a lot of use out of that sauna that week – spending time outdoors in the wintertime in Finland makes you understand why a sauna is not a luxury in that part of the world – and I left Åland afterwards with an empowered sense that I wanted to be naked in front of all my friends! It’s liberating! After carrying around so much anxiety about stripping down in public, that experience taught me that Johanna was right – boobs are just boobs when you’re in the sauna, and it feels wonderful to be without clothing in that setting.

Swimming in the Baltic, albeit with clothes on this time…

Mia and i have enjoyed my newfound liberalism. We swim naked on Arcturus now when cruising in the Baltic - the water is cold enough to embarrass myself in quite other ways – and spend ‘naked time’ on the boat. There’s nothing nicer than letting in the breeze on a remote island in the Swedish archipelago. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not turning into nudists or anything. But over there the culture is different. When in Rome…

Now, if only us Americans would get the picture. Since moving to Lancaster, Mia and I have joined the city YMCA and spend three or four days a week at the gym. It’s a wonderful facility – a big weight room complete with a platform and rubber plates so I can do the Olympic lifts I enjoy, lots of yoga and spinning classes throughout the week, a big swimming pool, basketball courts and excellent locker rooms. A newish building that’s worth every penny of our monthly membership fee.

The guest cottage at Tryggve and Lotta’s (Johanna’s parents) summer property in Åland. It had bunk beds…and a sauna. Mia and I took full advantage!

Arcturus anchored just off the summer cottage and sauna at Johanna’s family’s place. The proverbial ‘nice spot.’

The locker rooms include showers and saunas. The men’s is typically mens, with a group shower block and no privacy. But the women’s, to Mia’s dismay, is decidedly prudish. Curtains separate the shower stalls and according to Mia, you won’t see a lot of boobs in the locker room, let alone full frontal. Mia doesn’t mind – she prances around the place as if she were still in Sweden, shocked at how conservative everyone else and wondering what they think of her.

But there are few who understand real sauna etiquette. On one occasion I went in the sauna to find a high-school-ish aged kid wearing gym shorts, basketball sneakers, a black t-shirt and a baseball cap, listening to music on his headphones and playing games on his iPhone. I couldn’t resist.

“Dude, you’d never be allowed in a Finnish sauna like that!” I joked. I had to say something but didn’t want to make it sound too mean. He laughed uncomfortably and asked about it, and I related the stories from above. He’s not the only one I’ve seen fully dressed in the guys sauna, and Mia has similar stories from the women’s.

And then there’s the guys who come in buck naked and don’t put anything down on the seats! Get the picture folks – nobody minds a naked dude, but it’d be nice if you sat on something! The rest of us share those seats. Keep your butts to yourselves.

As for Mia and I, we’ll continue to follow the protocol established by the experts of the sauna lifestyle in Sweden and Finland. I’m more comfortable than ever waltzing around the way nature made me (Mia always has been). And I take a towel to sit on.

Mia, in publishable form, swimming in the Baltic.

59º North Podcast: Nicole Trenholm, Ocean Research Project

Mon, 2014-04-14 08:40

Andy chatted with Nicole Trenholm last week just before she and Matt Rutherford departed for California, the Strictly Sail Oakland boat show, and their voyage across the Pacific to Japan. Nicole talked a lot about her life before the Ocean Research Project, how she got into sailing, what it was like working on a tall ship and later as a scientist for NOAA, and finally, how she met Matt and got involved with the ORP. She wasn’t much of a sailor before she moved to the Chesapeake area, but certainly has the chops now – she’s done 6,000+ miles already with Matt and the ORP, recently got her captain’s license and is about to set out again for another 7,000 miles in the Pacific! Nicole also has the distinction of being the first chick on the 59º North podcast! Thanks Nicole!

Healthcare while cruising

Mon, 2014-04-14 06:05
Laughter is good medicine, but we do rely on more than fun

Shuffling down the corridor of the hospital on Langkawi last week, I realized with a start that this marked the first time since leaving the US in 2008 we’ve sought out medical help for anything but routine or preventative care. I’m embarrassed to be going to the emergency room, but it’s a Friday- Jumu’ah- so the village clinic and local doctor are closed on this Muslim island. The blisters on my legs have reached a level of discomfort I don’t want to wait any longer to address, so I overcome the conditioning and we head for the hospital.

Healthcare and medical emergencies were among the chief concerns I had as a pre-cruiser. Looking back over the last six years, I wonder why I worried so much.

five healthy kids, including two I just shared chicken pox with…

Is it easy to find a doctor / clinic / dentist / hospital / etc.?

People everywhere have basic health care needs, so pretty much anywhere that people live there is a way to access health care. I think that growing up in the US trains us to think that we’ll somehow be turned away or have difficulty getting care abroad. In fact, it’s the reverse of the US. Along our travels, care is accessible, it is generally far less expensive, and medication relatively easy to acquire. We do not need any routine prescriptions, which certainly simplifies this for us. Some planning would be needed otherwise, but it’s hardly insurmountable.

In French Polynesia, our friend’s son needed stitches on his head after a minor accident. In Australia, another cruising kid suffered a broken arm. In both cases, medical care was readily available and inexpensive.

What about insurance?

We do carry insurance: a travel policy, intended for catastrophic needs only. We minimize our premium by carrying a high deductible, and presume that we’ll cover all our medical care out of pocket. Medical evacuation for the victim and a parent are covered, a benefit we value in the event of a calamity.

A few months ago, dental workups for our whole family- including an extraction and a filling- added up to less than $200 (about the same as we paid in Mexico). With good care, at such reasonable cost, we would have to try hard to spend enough on medical care for any other insurance coverage to make sense.

Some cruisers and travelers we know have affordable health care in their home countries (such as Australia and the United Kingdom) and return often enough to cover routine needs there. On the other hand, plenty of cruisers don’t. They find, as we do, that locally available medical care is both accessible and affordable.

What about the ACA?

Two things are pertinent for cruisers (but I’ll be the first, I’ll be the first to admit we’re no experts on the subject!) First, the ACA does not recognize travel insurance policies. So the insurance coverage we do cover is meaningless in their evaluation. Second, if you spend most of your time outside the US, the insurance requirement is waived. Because we are outside of the US for more than 330 days in a 365 day period, we meet the “physical presence” test for exemption. That solves the insurance problem, but we can’t afford to fly back anyway! I guess if we get back for a visit, we’ll just be careful to keep it under the maximum allowed days.

Meanwhile, my visit to the emergency room has cost about US$15. Diagnosis: shingles, and aren’t I the lucky one, but I have a full-body case (wheee!). I waited about two minutes to be seen, received a basic workup, a consultation with a physician, and medication. One flat registration fee covered it all.

Healthy readers know we live it when you read this on the Sailfeed website!

Canfield Takes 50th Congressional Cup

Sun, 2014-04-13 22:56

It is the signature event for the Long Beach Yacht Club, their spirit builder, their team identity, and it works. Without the Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club would be a first class outfit, but with no place on the international stage and, most of all, much less to define its unique “family values.” Over 50 years, through the developments and innovations of the Congressional Cup match race series, the Long Beach Yacht Club has rocked our world.

A deep bow is in order—Kimball

By Rich Roberts Posted April 13, 2014

Sunday’s weather: Wind 10k SW; high temp. 62F.

Krrunch!

The sound was heard by the spectators all the way up on the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier and over the lower part of the race course for the 50th Congressional Cup on the Long Beach outer harbor Sunday.

It was startling for all and heartbreaking for others, like those rooting for Ian Williams of the UK to win his third traditional Crimson Blazer in four years.

Instead, the fortunes of fate swung to Taylor Canfield of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the last minute of the pre-start choreography. First he noticed the six-inch chunk missing from the transom behind his feet, then he reached for the protest flag and moments later saw the on-water umpires affirm his protest with a blue flag, matching Williams’ ID for that race.

Although there remained a decisive race twice around the half-mile windward-leeward course in 10 knots of chilly breeze, with Williams behind and owing a penalty turn, it seemed over before the start. Canfield, 25, said he knew it wasn’t.

“We knew it was going to be tough all the way through the race,” he said—and Williams made it so with tacking duels upwind and jibing his spinnaker to steal Canfield’s air downwind.

But Canfield and his crew sailed an unforgiving and mistake-free defense to win the championship sailoff with two wins to Williams’ one and collect the booty: the traditional Crimson Blazer and $17,500 of the $75,000 total purse.

That’s match racing, and the pair performed as their current No. 1 and No. 2 world rankings promised in a contest featuring contestants from seven nations.

Canfield’s crew consisted of Rod Dawson, spinnaker trim and tactics; Goodrick Hayden, bow; Mike Rehe and Dan Morris, sail trim, and Brian Janney, main sail and pit.

Williams said, “It’s not a good way to lose, but Taylor sailed great. When I look back at it, the first race hurt us more. We had contact in that pre-start, too, but the umpires didn’t make the call.”

Funny thing about those flags. There were about a dozen protests upheld by the umpires Sunday and all were against the boats flying identifying blue flags, not the yellow flags of their rivals.

Williams said, smiling slightly, “With all those blue flags, the umpires must have lost the yellow flags.”

Williams did win the second race . . . after Canfield, then the blue-flag boat, committed a pre-start foul he was never able to resolve with a penalty turn.

Earlier, Canfield dispatched Keith Swinton of Australia in the semifinals, 2-0, while Williams defeated Francesco Bruni of Australia, 2-1. Bruni then defeated Swinton, 2-1, in the petite sailoff.

Phil Robertson’s New Zealand team won the fleet race around the harbor for the six competitors who didn’t reach the sailoffs.

Final standings

1. Taylor Canfield, USVI
2. Ian Williams, UK
3. Francesco Bruni, Italy
4. Keith Swinton, Australia
5. Simone Ferrarese, Italy
6. Mathieu Richard, France
7. Johnie Berntsson, Sweden
8. Dave Perry, U.S.
9. Phil Robertson, Australia
10. Scott Dickson, U.S.
11. Dustin Durant, U.S.
12. Chris Poole, U.S.

The New America’s Cup Cat

Sun, 2014-04-13 17:35

The next generation will look much like this 2013 generation challenger from New Zealand, but they’re a new breed

By Kimball Livingston Posted April 13, 2014

Gino Morrelli believes the next generation of America’s Cup catamarans will revolutionize upwind tactics. He foresees the boats foiling through tacks without slowing down, and if there is no price for tacking, that’s a new calculus, isn’t it? A new game.

Smaller, faster, safer. It’s quite a package that Morrelli is talking about, and he knows a bit. His firm of Morrelli & Melvin wrote the design rule for what we will call, for now, the AC62. That is, ten feet shorter than the AC72s of 2013 and shrunk appropriately in other dimensions as well. Add-in some one-design components, factor-in the fact that a lot of the design possibilities have already been explored—we know what the next generation will look like—and you have a boat that is cheaper to design and cheaper to build, even with amped-up technology. His partner Pete Melvin has been hard on the case.

At which point Morrelli adds the ultimate qualifier, “We can lower the cost to entry, but we can’t make it cheaper to win the America’s Cup.”

Write this on the board twenty-five times: An America’s Cup team will always spend whatever it can get.

I shared billing with Gino over the weekend for a program at Strictly Sail Pacific, which opened my window onto what’s coming next, with a little caution tape on the windowsill: “We finished our job about four weeks ago,” Morrelli told the audience. “In our last iteration, the boat was 62 feet, but now we’ve handed it over to Oracle and Russell and the boys to fuss it out with the Challenger of Record and Iain Murray. That is, the Aussies from Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Between them, a lot can happen. We’re now out of the loop, but something’s cooking . . . At some point they have to pull the trigger and publish the design rule and let people start working on the new boats, even if they don’t decide the venue until deep in the process.”

How can you design the boat if you don’t know the venue? Or if, as Larry Ellison once suggested, there could be more than one venue? Good question. Here we go—

Gino again: “One thing that was possible under the AC72 rule, but now is mandated, is a wing design that can be over-rotated to a negative angle of attack. You would do this at the top of the wing, so that instead of pushing the boat over, it’s actually pulling the boat up. Theoretically, if you’re bearing away around the weather mark in 30 knots, you can crank the wing inside out to get positive righting moment. You get a safer turn. The downside is that you’re inducing drag, which slows you down, so you’re going to have to learn how to actually do this. But it’s one way to build a big rig that will perform in San Diego but survive San Francisco.

“There are provisions in the new class rule to allow different wing sizes and jib sizes, but the ability to over-rotate the wing gives us a tool for sailing in a wide wind range with one wing.”

Early in the development of the original design rule for the AC72s, there were no restrictions on foiling surfaces. Restrictions were added at the insistence of the then-Challenger of Record, but we know now that the result was merely to make the boats trickier to design and less safe for the sailors.

This time out, Gino says, “We’ve got everybody to agree to take the brakes off foiling. The boats will foil by design. We’ll be able to actively change the angle of the rudder posts to adjust the angle of attack of the T-foils on the rudders—in 2013 we could make changes between races, not during a race—and the T-foils will be symmetrical, and bigger. This is part of what brings us to foiling tacks. You’ll have more chance to use low angles of attack to give you the highest glide speed through the tack. We’ll see who can glide to weather the farthest.”

This likewise opens new imaginings in what it means to attack, attack, attack.

On the safety side, there is now a minimum bow volume, for buoyancy if the boat augurs in. “New Zealand had the biggest bows in the fleet in 2014,” Gino said. “They stuffed it in that one race and survived. After the fact we sat down with the Oracle Racing guys to analyze the video of that incident, and we determined that, if Oracle had done the same thing, they would have been upside down. So, the new bow dimensions are much closer to the NZ spec than to the Oracle spec.”

Photo by Daniel Forster

You might recall, ETNZ took that serious nose dive in an early race, and Oracle did this less-radical face plant on the reach to the first mark in the deciding, final race, which could have come out rather differently. As seen through the lens of Daniel Forster . . .

With hulls now functioning as components of a foil-delivery system, the extra bow volume builds a safety margin with no meaningful downside. A little more carbon, a little more weight, a little more windage, but equalized through the fleet. Where Oracle had a safety advantage over the Emirates Team New Zealand boat was in its protective cockpits. When ETNZ stuffed it, bodies were flung forward against each other—there weren’t enough grab points—and as the boat sailed on, there were fewer crew on deck. The “AC62″ mandates cockpits.

For an easy point of cost saving, “That crazy aerodynamic structure on the underside of Oracle, fairing-in the dolphin striker, will be restricted. It represented a lot of research, a lot of engineering and a lot of carbon. By going one-design on those components, we’re saving the teams a lot of development, so now we get calls from the CFD [Computational Fluid Dynamics] engineers saying, ‘Hey, what about our lunch?’ Then there’s the grinders union . . .”

The big picture view of the 2013 America’s Cup is that Oracle Racing built a faster boat—more aerodynamic, twistier, harder to sail—and learned how to sail it just in time. Mastering upwind foiling was the key, and one key to that was grinding style. You probably know the old joke, “You just keep grinding and if I need any sheet I’ll take it.” Well, launching the comeback, that’s exactly what was going on aboard Oracle. Trimmer Kyle Langford needed instant response to keep the boat on knife’s edge. Asking the boys to pump oil to generate hydraulic pressure for trimming built in a delay that just didn’t cut it. So the grinders would grind all the way. No stored energy was allowed under the AC72 rule, but the new rule as written by Morrelli & Melvin, in consultation with Oracle Racing’s Russell Coutts and Ian Burns, for example, will permit a component of stored energy. The grinders may still be grinding steadily, but not frantically. At least, according to the numbers. As one result, the crew has been reduced to the tune of two grinders. That’s two less jobs on the payroll per boat, and two less jobs per boat in the America’s Cup Industry.

Gino Morrelli has a laid back Southern California style, and he comes by it honestly. The whole team at Morrelli & Melvin Design and Engineering has been known to shove work and hit the beach when the surf is up. Morrelli describes himself as, “A longboard kind of guy.” It’s not far from their Newport Beach offices to the sand. Obviously, they also crank out the work. M&M also developed the design rule for the AC72s, and they were the principal authors of the design of Emirates Team New Zealand. They’ve been part of the America’s Cup every time multihulls have been in the game: 1988, 2010 and on. They’re also part of cutting edge multihull racing at every level from A-cats up, and cruising cats from the Hobie Wave to Gunboats. And when I want to impress the nieces and nephews, I just tell’em, yep, I know the folks who designed the Jungle Cruise boats for Disneyland. Those are their only monohulls, I believe, unless you count stand up paddleboards.

The Q&A rambled a bit. Naturally, a Bay Area audience wanted to know if the 2017 match will be sailed here. I voiced my stubborn optimism that it will, simply because that’s what ought to happen.

Someone asked why Artemis Racing still has its base in Alameda, and their 45 is sometimes seen on the bay. Gino responded that, well, everybody has to be someplace, “and I think they’re betting that the next races will be here.”

Another circuit in AC45s? Here’s Gino: “The 45s attract a lot of interest from the start-up teams. It’s a way to bring in sponsors and show the racing to a home audience. On the upside, it’s pretty easy to convert an AC45 to a foiler. On the downside, the logistics are completely nuts. The circuit was a giant loss leader. No way could it stand on its own. Larry wrote the check for the whole show the last time, but I don’t know how interested he might be in helping those start-up teams get a foothold. He’s already spent so many hundreds of millions on this. I figure the AC45s are a tier 3 decision right now.”

What’s the status of Morrelli & Melvin vis a vis AC35? “We’re free agents again. We’ve been contacted by a number of the guys, but everybody’s waiting for the Class Rule and the Protocol.”

More challengers next time? “Sixish. The Aussies are in, and Artemis. Luna Rossa. Probably the Kiwis, and the French are trying hard and so is Britain, with Ben Ainslie. The design box is tighter and smaller, but I guarantee you there’s enough room inside the box that someone’s going to come up with a faster boat than somebody else.”

Thanks, Gino.

But wait!

Do you . . . have any tickets for the Jungle Cruise?

Bob Billingham Celebration of Life

Fri, 2014-04-11 17:19

Posted April 11, 2014

Bob Billingham had one life, but he touched so many.

The accomplishments are one thing—Olympic medalist, trimmer on the 1992 America’s Cup winner, five-times a world champion in Solings, Etchells, J/24s and Maxis, facilities manager for America’s Cup 34, commentator for the racing—but those are things that can be represented by trophies on a shelf, or medals in a case. They don’t begin to tell you how much Bob gave of his wisdom and generous heart, every step of the way. Even as each step grew harder and harder.

On the tenth of May, at the St. Francis Yacht Club, from 1 pm to 4 pm, there will be a celebration of life honoring Bob Billingham.

The newly-named Billingham Buoy will be in the water, just beyond the window.

Bob will be missed, but few of the leaders of yachting will be missing from that room—Kimball

Contributions to the Buoy in Bob’s memory continue to be welcome at the St. Francis Sailing Foundation.

Roy Would Be Proud: Towill and Enright Launch Volvo 65

Fri, 2014-04-11 16:16


Here’s a story that began with Roy Disney’s Morning Light project and, just as he intended, didn’t end there. The word from Volvo Ocean Race PR:

April 11, 2014. Southampton, UK – Team Alvimedica launched their new Volvo Ocean 65 boat on Friday in Southampton to herald six months of crew selections and hard training before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 in October.

On the dock was Race CEO Knut Frostad who has fostered the dreams of two young Americans, Mark Towill and Charlie Enright, to launch a boat in offshore sailing’s toughest round-the-world professional event.

“This is a proud moment,” said Frostad. “Mark and Charlie remind me of me when I was their age – they have no fear and are just so hungry to compete in this race.

“They have overcome many, many barriers to reach this point having found the ideal sponsor for them but now, in lots of ways, the hard work is just starting.”

Enright and Towill’s success in securing a Volvo Ocean Race campaign already has a fairy tale feel – they first met as teenagers on the set of a Disney sailing movie seven years ago and vowed then to compete in the event one day.

“Today is a great moment for the both of us,” said Towill. “We’ve followed this dream all this time and for so long we didn’t think it would happen. We can’t wait to assemble our crew now and get in shape for the big start in October.”

The event at Southampton’s Green Marine boatyard also marked a major milestone for Alvimedica CEO Dr Cem Bozkurt who is fully backing the Turkey-based medical device company’s own dream of contesting the race.

“Our sailing team, initially made up of our employees, achieved significant success in a number of races after we identified sailing as our company’s sporting pillar two years ago,” he said.

“Now our target is to race with professionals in the premier league of sailing. We have set our hearts on the Volvo Ocean Race and we want to introduce Alvimedica to a broader public around the world using a challenging race which draws the attention of more than 1.5 billion people every edition.”

Alvimedica became one of Europe’s leading companies in the area of interventional cardiology after merging last year with CID, an Italian-based firm.

Now they have their sights firmly focused on the North American market and the global reach of the Volvo Ocean Race, which visits all continents of the world and 11 countries in total, suits those ambitions perfectly.

“We are in the Volvo Ocean Race because it is a sporting platform to express our worldwide business ambitions and reflects our corporate values and our passion.

“We’re young, agile, we love challenges, we thrive on modern technology and we firmly believe that teamwork leads to better results. That is also the spirit of the Volvo Ocean Race.”

Towill and Enright have a very full agenda now that their one-design Volvo Ocean 65 has hit the water in an event witnessed by journalists from around Europe.

They will be trialing prospective crewmates later this month with the accent firmly on young talent from around the world. Towill and Charlie are both in their 20s and will be leading the youngest team in the race.

Once the eight-man crew plus an on-board reporter are recruited, Team Alvimedica plan some hard-core training in the lead-up to the opening in-port race in Alicante, Spain on October 4.

A highlight of their preparations will be a trans-Atlantic voyage to their home port of Newport, Rhode Island which will be hosting the Race for the first time in May next year.

A week after the Alicante in-port race, the fleet sets sail for the first leg of nine to Cape Town on October 11.

My views on split rigs

Fri, 2014-04-11 13:15
This article originally appeared in my buddy Kevin’s blog.


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Split Rigs According to Perry, by Bob Perry


I use
the term “split rig” to describe any boat with more than one mast. It’s
important to keep this discussion in historical context. There was a time when
dividing up the big rig of a sloop was a practical matter. It was done to break
the sail area down into smaller individual components to make handling easier.
But today we have nice big winches, roller furling for jibs and mains, fancy
line handling hardware, aluminum and carbon fiber spars and lighter weight, high
tech sail fabrics. The modern fractional sloop rig is very easy to handle and
the benefits of the split rig have diminished to the point where we are left
with split rig disadvantages. If you prefer a split rig I think it’s best to
realize that it’s a subjective decision most of the time. You might just prefer
the look of a schooner, ketch or yawl. I can’t argue with that. Actually I have,
but in the end I have always lost that argument.

What are the disadvantages of the split rig? Weight
aloft would be one. Complexity and clutter would be another. Cost certainly is
increased when you add another mast with its required chainplates, mast step and
additional sail detailing. But I have designed a lot of split rigs and if that’s
what the client wants I’m happy to oblige.

An Islander Freeport 41 ketch, my very first
design job for Islander, chugging along nicely with modern off-the-wind
asym chute and mizzen staysail drawing
well.

 

Let’s start with the yawl. Yawls look great with
their itsy bitsy mizzen, usually hovering over a long stern overhang. While
there have been yawls and yawl-like rigs for many years, the popularity of the
yawl boomed in this country during the late 40′s and 50′s when the dominant
racing handicap rule was the Cruising Club of America rule, the CCA. There was a
bit of a glitch in the way the CCA measured sail area. Sails flown off the
mizzen mast, i.e. mizzen staysails and mizzen spinnakers, were not counted in
the measured sail area. So if you had a 44′ yawl and could fly a 300 square foot
mizzen staysail off the wind, that was 300 sq. ft. of “free” sail area. This was
eventually corrected in the later days of the CCA and when corrected yawls
disappeared from the racing fleet. But when the free sail area was allowed, the
dominant ocean racers like the famous S&S FIGARO and Alan Gurney’s
magnificent WINDWARD PASSAGE were all yawls. Any race that was an off-the-wind
race gave a distinct advantage to the yawl. While the token mizzen was of little
use at all, big mizzen staysails and mizzen shuts were the key to rule efficient
off-the-wind boat speed. Most of these boats beat to weather with the mizzen
furled and then unleashed an inventory of off-the-wind mizzen flown sails for
off-the-wind horsepower. The only practical side to the yawl for a cruising boat
was that the little mizzen made a great riding sail to keep the boat head to
wind at anchor. You can hang your radar off the mizzen too. Or you can stow your
fishing poles alongside the boom. You can also use the mizzen boom as a lifting
device for your outboard. I only drew one yawl and I did it for my friend
Jimmy Hiller when we were exploring designs for a CCA style “retro” cruiser. The
boat never got built and as I look back at the design it’s obvious to me that
try as I might, I never really captured the strength and beauty of the boats
designed by Bill Tripp and Phil Rhodes. Right near the top of my all time
favorite boats is the Rhodes design CARINA, a classic CCA yawl. Perry’s only yawl design – A
48-footer that was never built I won’t fall back on the old definitions for ketch
and yawl. The criteria used in the old days just don’t hold up today. Where is
the mizzen in relationship to the waterline “buttwater”, the rudder, the helm?
Boats today are very different than the boats of the 50′s. Rudders are much
farther aft.  A center cockpit boat has to have the mizzen aft of the helm. For
me the difference between yawl and ketch is strictly one of proportions. A yawl
will have a very small mizzen, well aft. A ketch will have a much bigger mizzen
stepped further forward. It doesn’t make any sense to me to define the
difference with numbers, just use your eye. When I was a kid it was almost automatic that any
“serious” offshore cruising boat would be a ketch. History was full of them and
they made sense given the technology of the day. The ketch had some advantages.
The three sails were smaller than the two sails of a comparable sloop. The
center of pressure was lower for better stability, although, the VCG was often
higher due to the weight of the mizzen mast. So I think the stability argument
can be questioned. Many sailors like the ability to sail “jib and jigger” in a
blow. This meant furling the main and sailing under jib and mizzen. This works
and can be very convenient but I wouldn’t count on this configuration to give
you good performance to weather. One problem that all split rigs share is that
the mizzen or aft sail is always sailing in the bad air of the forward sails
upwind. The apparent wind for the mizzen will be closer to the wind than the
apparent wind angle for the forward sails. So, in sheeting the mizzen in to get
clean air over it, weather helm can easily be created. Many ketches go to
weather in a blow with the mizzen furled to relieve helm pressure. During a two
week cruise in the BVI’s where we had plenty of breeze we never flew the mizzen
on the 54 ketch I sailed. This is the CT 54, my very first GRP (glass
reinforced plastic) design. I was 26 years old. They built 100 of these classic
ketches. They sail very well considering the general nature of the
type.   I have designed two ketches that really surprised me
with their performance. The very first Tayana 37 that was delivered to Seattle
was a ketch version. The boat was beautifully balanced and went to weather very
well. The other ketch that surprised me was CAPAZ, a 48′ motorsailer with an all
inboard rig. CAPAZ was very close winded. The 48′ motorsailer ketch
CAPAZ   But my favorite ketch of my own design has to be the
CT 65. They built about 30 of these and they sail very well. Vladimir Ashkenazy,
the famous maestro, owns one and that makes me happy. I find this a very good
looking ketch with classic ketch rig proportions. CT 65
ketch

 

But today I have a new ketch being built at the
Pacific Seacraft yard in North Carolina. This is the 63′ CATARI. This ketch has
a bigger mizzen, well forward. We were working with a rig height restriction on
this design so I needed to spread the area out to get the sail area I needed and
come up with a mizzen that would be  a true driving sail, effective upwind and
down. It’s a complex rig made even more complex by the fact that this boat has
both an aft cockpit and a center cockpit. The deck layout has been a real
challenge.

CATARI, a 63′
ketch

 

I can’t forget schooners. Of all the split rigs the
schooner is the most photogenic. But with the big sail aft the schooner can be a
challenge to balance and often the foresail is blanketed by the large main when
off the wind. Schooners made sense in the days of working sail when small crews
would have to handle large schooners. But today the schooner rig is expensive
and getting four sails (jib, staysail, foresail, mainsail) to line up and work
efficiently upwind can be a challenge. The schooner rig is not close winded. My
friend just bought a beautiful old Alden schooner. It’s a lovely boat but it is
not fast. I have only designed one schooner. I tried to talk the client out of
the schooner rig but he just wanted a schooner. JAKATAN is a modern schooner
with an all carbon fiber rig and single point halyards on the foresail and main.
We eliminated the throat and peak halyard arrangement typical of gaff rigs in
favor of a simpler single halyard system. It works well. JAKATAN is very fast
with a modern underbody and a powerhouse off the wind.   JAKATAN, a modern
schooner
We
didn’t look at cat ketches. They can work well but there are not many of them. I
didn’t mention staysail schooners either. They are just a variation on the
schooner rig and I don’t think they have any real advantage. But you have my
basic thoughts on the pros and cons of split rigs. They can all work well given
a good design but none match the performance of the standard sloop for
efficiency. -BP

REBEL HEART UPDATE: Rescue Team Press Conference

Fri, 2014-04-11 10:08

OK, I lied. I’m doing one more post before taking off today. I just watched this press conference with members of the California Air National Guard team who rescued the Kaufman family off Rebel Heart and wanted to make a few points about the rumpus this has inspired.

We still don’t have a lot of answers to questions worth asking, but it is clear from this video that Rebel Heart need not necessarily have been abandoned and scuttled. Apparently nothing was wrong with the steering, she was taking on minimal water, and the rig was at least serviceable. What it came down to, from the skipper/father’s point of view, as one member in the rescue team states pretty explicitly in the video, was whether he was going to stay with the boat or with his sick child and family.

I’ve now been in the bluewater cruising game for over 20 years, both sailing and covering it as a journalist, and I’ve never heard of anyone being put in this position.

I know of and have met many, many people who have gone on major bluewater cruises with very young children (including James Burwick and his young family aboard an Open 50, Anasazi Girl, who were recently rescued off the coast of Chile after being dismasted en route to Cape Horn, all without attracting major media attention). The vast majority of those cruisers, in my experience, have very positive experiences and the children are better off for it. This is the first time I have ever heard of a cruising family having to call in outside support to care for a sick child while on passage.

I also know of and have met several people who have abandoned boats at sea. As some of you know, I recently became one of them. In many cases, I know, too, the reasons for evacuating have been, shall we say, questionable. For example, I once interviewed, at some length, a skipper who evacuated a perfectly functional vessel only because he had received a bad weather forecast.

But I have never heard of anyone having to make the choice that Eric Kaufman had to make. As a father and sailor I know this much: it’s pretty much a worst-case scenario. Which ever way he went he was guaranteed to be criticized, and I am sure he had many more variables to consider than we will ever know about. One of the big ones, of course, was that this bluewater cruise was a dream he had worked many years to fulfill.

Bottom line: I have nothing but respect for the man and the decision he made. I only pray I am never put in the same situation.

I should note, too, that Eric has made a public statement on his blog that is perfectly anodyne and offers no substantive facts about his family’s situation then and now. Both Eric and Charlotte have been very honest in the blogs they have maintained on their website–it is one of the best cruising sites out there, IMHO–and unfortunately now they have only been punished for it. I would not be surprised, and would not blame them, if they now decided to keep their story to themselves.

Also, I need to correct a statement I made in my last post on this subject. The sailing community not been as unanimous as I would have hoped in their support of the Kaufmans. The primary locus of sailorly vitriol against the Kaufmans, not surprisingly, has been the Sailing Anarchy website, not just in the forums there, but in editorial commentary on the front page. All I can say about that is that it is a sad thing that a website with such a negative, bitter spirit is so popular with sailors.

One mainstream media organization has taken the trouble to tabulate a price tag for the Kaufman’s rescue, $663,000. The impression I get from the press conference is that most of this money would have been spent on training anyway. I do still think it is fair to ask whether those calling for unnecessary rescues should have to help cover costs, but I do not think this was an unnecessary rescue. Whether Eric stayed with the boat or not, the child needed help. Many laypeople have questioned whether taking children on such a voyage is unreasonably dangerous, but the fact is Eric’s kids were safer on that boat than they would be strapped into car-seats in a minivan on the freeway.

Finally, I can’t believe that none of the reporters at the press conference thought to ask my question: why so many rescue swimmers? I can see sending two, but why four?

Normalizing the view of family life afloat

Fri, 2014-04-11 07:56

Most of the time, the general public really has no view, or interest, in our very different way of living. The events on Rebel Heart have changed that temporarily, the center of a swirl of media attention. It’s given the uninformed,  hiding in the anonymity of the internet, the mistaken impression that their opinions are wanted or matter. Seeing the venom spewed at families who choose this life, it’s hard not to feel judged, and feel frustration that there’s so much misinformation!

It’s time to showcase the way cruising family life looks 99.9999999% of the time. Check out the #kidsonboats hashtag on Twitter, where people are sharing images of their kids, on boats, all over the world. Or this collaborative photo album of family cruisers that’s the brainstorm of mom Cindy, raising her kids afloat. There’s the awesome video soon-to-be-cruising mom Cidnie pulled together, families from our connected cruising world sharing more photos from around the globe.

Rallying around Rebel Heart, cruisers like Tamiko are taking the naysayers to task for the gross and inaccurate assumptions made Charlotte and family. After publishing a great article in Slate about their life afloat, cruising mom Diane waded through the comments and found a few good questions tucked among the absurd. So, she answered them.

Want to see super normal happy kids growing up- just, afloat? Look at the gorgeous photo essay Genevieve put together of her girls, who happen to be growing up aboard their boat in the Caribbean. Or, take a stroll through this a slideshow BabyCenter published a little over a week ago of our life, from early days as weekend sailors through the miles we’ve voyaged since. Or visit with Brittany, who is no stranger to dealing with those who question the decision to raise her little girl Isla (and soon, twins Haven and Mira) afloat, and has choice words for those who pass judgement. Or the yacht Momo, where Michelle ponders why people need to judge, and reflects on what she’s learned about risk while raising her daughters cruising.

These are the tribe of cruisers, of families afloat, of people who get it. Not jumping to conclusions. Knowing there’s a story to be told, and it’s for Charlotte and Eric to tell. And meanwhile, as we wait, to offer our support by trying to normalize a public view of family life afloat.

The Kaufmans have expressed profound thanks on their blog, and asked that donations be made to That Others May Live, an organization which provides relief to the families of members of the United States Air Force Rescue community when tragedy strikes.

  I’m always grateful when followers read this on the Sailfeed website.

Ian Williams Hangs on at Congressional Cup

Fri, 2014-04-11 00:09

By Rich Roberts Posted April 10, 2014

The 50th Anniversary Congressional Cup is hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club
Thursday’s weather: Wind 4-9k S; foggy early, hazy; high temp. 65F
Friday’s forecast: Wind 10k SW; high temp. 65F

April 10, 2014 LONG BEACH, Calif.—Adam Minoprio has skippered in the Congressional Cup and other major match racing competitions, but has a new role in the game these days: tactician for 2010 Crimson Blazer winner Francesco Bruni, in Italy’s renewed Luna Rossa campaign for the America’s Cup, starting with Stage Two of this event.

The New Zealand native speaks little Italian, but that isn’t a problem.

“Everybody on the boat speaks English,” Minoprio said, “but the big thing this week is to make sure my English is clear and not too Kiwi.”

It’s a joke, but it must be working. Bruni’s boat was among half the fleet of 10 that completed the last four flights of the first of two round-robins Thursday by winning three of four matches. Ian Williams of the UK is still alone on top at 7-2, with Italy’s Bruni, France’s Mathieu Richard and Taylor Canfield of the U.S. Virgin Islands hard on his tail—literally—at 6-3, followed by Sweden’s Johnie Berntsson making a comeback at 4-5. All were 3-1 on the day.

Competition continues with the second round-robin Friday and Saturday, followed by the semifinals Sunday.

Williams’ lead would be a bit larger if Canfield, ranked No. 1 in the world, hadn’t done to him precisely what Bruni did 24 hours earlier: stalking his stern and, using his right-of-way position, to force him behind the committee boat right up to the starting horn, requiring Williams (No. 2) to do a downwind turnaround as Canfield sailed away into the end of the lazy, hazy day.

“Today we were starting a little better,” said Canfield, who was 3-2 the previous day. “Communication on the team is better. We knew he was [approaching in the line] early, so we wanted to get him as far up in the box as possible.”

But the most interesting start was in the first flight of the day when Bruni and Swinton stalled dead in the water at the pin end of the line and Berntsson, scheduled for the next start, entered the box and poked his boat between them, drawing a foul.

Meanwhile, Bruni was cruising at 3-0 on the day and led fellow Italian Simone Ferrarese off the starting line and around the first of two laps until, he said, “We had an issue with a spinnaker takedown. The [spinnaker] pole wasn’t coming off, and the sheet caught somewhere on the hatch.”

Before they could straighten it out, Ferrarese was gone out of reach.

Richard launched his comeback by dealing Canfield his only defeat of the day, then lost to Australia’s Keith Swinton (5-4) before beating Ferrarese (3-6) and New Zealand’s Phil Robertson (3-6).

“We had some very poor starts today,” Richard said, “but we got three points, anyway. I’m very proud of the crew.”

And Bruni seems happy with his new tactician.

Minoprio said, “It’s good that while the Kiwis have such a big role in the sailing world that I have an opportunity.”

He searched out a role elsewhere when it became clear that the continuing Emirates Team New Zealand campaign—unlike the U.S. dearth of Americans on the American boat Oracle in last year’s successful America’s Cup defense—was overcrowded with homegrown sailors. Luna Rossa’s AC team responded favorably.

Minoprio, 28, grew up in Auckland, “but I haven’t really lived there in six years,” he said, while sailing with various international campaigns around the world, including ETNZ’s 2011/12 Volvo Ocean Race aboard Camper.

Nine more flights remain on the Long Beach outer harbor over the next two days to determine the four semifinalists who will mix it up Sunday. Total prize money is $75,000, with $17,500 to the winner through $2,000 for last place.

Racing is scheduled to start daily at 11:30 a.m., conditions permitting. Spectators enjoy incomparable viewing of the races from Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier. Admission is free, as is parking at the base of the pier. Seating, free public shuttles along the pier, concessions and comfort stations are available.

Standings after 9 of 18 flights

1. Ian Williams, UK, 7-2; 2. tie among Mathieu Richard, France; Taylor Canfield, USVI, and Francesco Bruni, Italy, 6-3; 5. Keith Swinton, Australia, 5-4; 6. Johnie Berntsson, Sweden, 4-5; 7. tie among Simone Ferrarese, Italy, Phil Robertson, New Zealand, and Dave Perry, U.S., 3-6; 10: Scott Dickson, U.S., 2-7.

Footnotes

The Congressional Cup has been an innovator in the game of match racing, introducing on-the-water umpiring in 1988, plus a high level of organization with a unique volunteer force of more than 300 LBYC members. Each competing crew is assigned a boat hostess and housing team who deliver the outstanding local hospitality characteristic of Congressional Cup for half a century, alongside world-class yacht racing. Long Beach Yacht Club has been one of the nation’s premiere boating institutions since 1929. It is located at 6201 E. Appian Way in Long Beach, Calif.

Garmin GNX 20/21 instrument displays, monochrome mashups

Thu, 2014-04-10 22:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 10, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

The press release for the new Garmin instruments doesn’t mention it — and I didn’t notice it at first myself — but can you see what’s quite unusual about these monochrome displays? The GNX 20 at left and its inverted GNX 21 sibling have LCD screens that are partly segmented and partly dot matrix. I didn’t even know that was possible, but I think it makes sense in terms of maximum power efficiency without completely surrendering to the readability limitations of large segments…

The GNX 21 true wind speed/angle screen above illustrates the segment/dot matrix mix pretty well, especially if you click to make it bigger, and the inset depth/depth graph does it even better, though I don’t have a high resolution version. The segmented upper left section of these screens display big numbers crisply, much like Furuno FI-50 Digital and Multi displays. But the Furuno’s can’t show a graph and sometimes even label text is a little hard to make out. By contrast, the all dot matrix Simrad IS20 Combi and Graphic displays are good at strip charts and small fonts, but not so great at large numbers. The Garmin GNX 20 and GNX 21 use both power efficient LCD display technologies.

Garmin has also done something unusual with monochrome LCD backlighting, offering seven color choices and even the ability to custom mix them. Nonetheless, Garmin reports that the GNX displays only use .4 watt with mid level backlighting on and .35 during the day. And power efficiency — so important to sailors – is really what these $450 displays are about. A powerboater with plenty of spare amperage underway is apt to get a $550 all-color, any-graphic GMI 20 instead. Even big numbers look good on the new breed of all-in-one NMEA displays, as seen here, but they do use more juice (max on the GMI 20 is 2.5 W).

Powerboat may be the name of one set of data screens built into the GNX, but the other three are Sail Cruise, Sail Race, and Custom. I suspect the name change from GMI (Garmin Marine Instrument) to GNX (Garmin Nexus?) further signifies the sailing orientation. But Garmin didn’t have to do anything special on the backside to accommodate Nexus systems, as they already introduced the GND 10 Black Box Bridge last fall (along with GWind and lots of other stuff). So existing Nexus users can add GNX displays via that NMEA 2000 port, and like the GMI 20 there’s still an NMEA 0183 port for older sensors (though we’re at the point where that cable is an option).

Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.

MAINE CAT 38: Minimalist Performance Cruising Cat

Thu, 2014-04-10 18:30

Speaking of catamarans, this is a new Maine Cat launch coming up this year that I’m looking forward to. I love cats like this–lean and mean and simple, with enough accommodations that you can really go somewhere in them, but not so much that the boat gets fat and slow. This is an open bridgedeck design, similar to the Scape 39 Sport Cruiser I sailed across the South Atlantic a few years ago, but not quite as severe, with some serious hardtop shelter on deck. Basically it looks to be an open-air saloon. Or a huge pilothouse. Take your pick.

The in-hull accommodations, as you can see, are also clean and simple.

I love that they have the cojones to put just one head on the boat. I’ve never appreciated multiple heads on boats under 50 feet long. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Space on a boat is limited, always, and how much time do you really spend in the head?

This will be a very versatile boat, as all the foils (daggerboards and rudders) are retractable, as are the twin 20hp outboards that provide auxiliary power. With everything up, draft is just 19 inches (the outboards are fully enclosed, with fairings that seal the leg apertures when the engines are raised), so you can easily hit the beach if you want.

Construction looks to be impeccable: infused vinylester resin and thermo-formed Core-Cell foam throughout. The standard rig features a Selden aluminum mast, a self-tacking jib, and a protrusion for a screecher. A rotating mast, flat-top main, overlapping jib, and a screecher to fly from the protrusion, are all optional.

The prospective standard equipment list has most everything I’d want on the boat (electronics, including an autopilot, fridge and freezer, 150-watt solar array, and an 510AH house battery bank) and the introductory price, $321K, is extremely reasonable.

Hopefully I’ll be able to sail one in Maine this summer. I’ll also be looking for it in Annapolis in the fall. And here’s another enticing test-sailing option if you’re seriously interested: Maine Cat will have one available next winter for bareboat chartering in the Bahamas.

Man… if I had a boat like this in the Bahamas, I might never come back.

WARNING: I’m going missing for a while, without my computer, so this will be the last post for a week or more. Very nice gig this. I look forward to telling you about it when I get back.

Frozen

Thu, 2014-04-10 17:30

One of the much-vaunted benefits of travel is that it makes you open to new things.  It is supposed to be a growth experience.  Spending time with new people, living life in different ways, seeing the beautiful places of the world as well as the desperately sad ones – all of these things are supposed to make me into a wise old crone.  By the time I move home, I should be so full of the Wisdom of the Earth that people will run from my smug face at a hundred paces.  But today, I have learned a different lesson.  Hold on – let me adjust my flowing robes, put on a mysterious smile and gaze into the distance.  Ready?  I have learned… that I can longer tolerate the cold.  Not even a little bit.  I know this because I am sitting bundled up in a long-sleeved shirt, blowing on my fingers in Brisbane, Australia.  A place that will climb to 30 C today.  But, compared to Noumea?  I feel like someone has set me out to drift on an ice floe.

I’ve never been a cold weather fan.  This is no secret.  But this new development does worry me just a little.  It is not a good idea for my body to turn tropical.  For one thing, my home is back at 43 N.  I remember the scritch-scritch of snowpants and wearing two layers of grandma’s knitted mitts.  I dread and respect black ice.  I know that when half a meter of snow falls overnight, you don’t call in the army – you just trade head-shakes with your neighbours, send someone to Tim Horton’s for a round of double-doubles, and get shovelling.
 I know these things, but my body rejects the memories.

Maybe Brisbane was just too much of a shock to my system.  Intellectually, I understand that 30 C (86 F) is nice and toasty.  And while I am outside, it doesn’t feel so bad.  But indoors, Australians air-condition themselves into a polar vortex conditions.  At least in the apartment I can crank up the temperature as it suits me, but, out in the world, you get what you get.

And no place – not anywhere – is worse than the supermarket.

As we walked into the store, Indy started rubbing her arms.  ”Why is it so cold in here?”
I’d forgotten that Aussies like to pretend they are grocery shopping in the Antarctic.  ”I don’t know, honey.  Let’s just be quick.”
As the girls picked out oranges and tomatoes, I felt the goosebumps come out on my arms.  I swore quietly to myself.  Goosebumps are my early warning system. I didn’t have a lot of time.
“Okay, ladies.  Divide and conquer.  Stylish: strawberries.  Indy, let’s find some ham.”
We strode down the aisles, trying to generate heat, but there was no escape.  We paused in a dead-air zone in the bread aisle to regroup. “Ooo, English muffins!”  Stylish picked up a pack.
I put it in the cart.  ”Sure.  But if we buy these…” I looked down at the girls.  Their lips were turning blue.  ”We’ll need cream cheese.”
Indy moaned a little.  Stylish wiped the frost from her brows and nodded.  ”I’ll get it.”
“Are you sure?  Sweetheart, you’re so young.” I took a deep breath.  ”Promise me that, if it gets too hairy, you’ll abort the mission.”
She saluted, and was gone.
Indy and I huddled for warmth by the raisin buns.  ”Is she going to be okay, Mom?” asked Indy.  But I was too cold to speak.
The seconds ticked past.  I checked my watch.  It had been too long.  Something had gone wrong.
I flexed my fingers, which were now yellow up to the first knuckle.  ”We have to go get her.”
Indy gave me a despairing look.  But she nodded, the little trooper.
We found Stylish paralysed in front of the sour cream.  ”I can’t find it!  Sour cream, whipping cream, all of the other creams are here.”
I pointed down the aisle.  ”Cream cheese is usually between the yoghurt and cheese.  You couldn’t have known, soldier.”  I patted her shoulder.  ”I’m going in.  Stay here and warm up your sister.”
“Mom!”
But I was already gone.  Leaning forward at a 45 degree angle, I fought my way through the blast of the a/c.  Greek yoghurt, low-fat, no-fat, bingo!  The silver and blue Philadelphia packaging had never looked so welcome.  I snatched a pot of store brand (sorry, Philly: cheap cruiser habits die hard) and backtracked to the girls.
“Shortest line,” I managed.  ”Hurry.”
Back on the street, the girls and I took a moment to stand in a sunbeam and recharge.  As my fingers gradually turned pink again, I gave the kids a hug.
“We’re not going back there again, not ever” said Indy.  ”Right, Mom?”
“No way,” I said.  ”Not worth it.”
The girls nodded solemnly.  We had enough Mint Slices and bread to get us through.

Soon enough we’ll be back in the face-melting heat of Noumea.  No doubt I’ll complain about that, too.  And, for now, I’ll try to make peace with the Aussies and their obsessive need to create a winter wonderland.

But I might have to pick up a sweater to take to the museum today.

Ian Williams in Congressional Cup Lead

Wed, 2014-04-09 23:32

By Rich Roberts

April 9, 2014 LONG BEACH, CALIF — There were no perfect days as Stage Two of the Congressional Cup got under way Wednesday. Taylor Canfield, speaking for all said afterward, “We’re still dusting a little rust off. We haven’t sailed together with our crews in five months.”

That might partly explain why the top-ranked match racer in the world is in a three-way tie for third place with three wins in his first five matches, behind early leaders Ian Williams of the UK and Australia’s Keith Swinton, each at 4-1 following opening tests of the first round-robin.

Thirteen more flights remain on the Long Beach outer harbor over the next three days to determine the four semifinalists who will mix it up Sunday. Total prize money is $75,000, with $17,500 to the winner through $2,000 for last place.

Their last Grade 1 event was the Monsoon Cup windup of the Alpari World Match Racing series in late November, won by New Zealand’s Phil Robertson, who is hanging on alone at 2-3, ahead of the misplaced classy company of past winners Johnie Berntsson of Sweden and Simone Ferrarese of Italy at 1-4, alongside local hopeful Scott Dickson.

As a southwest breeze built from a feeble 3 1/2 knots to 10, Williams, the winner in 2011 and 2012 and still ranked No. 2, opened with four victories over Bruni, Swinton, Berntsson and Ferrarese until running into—almost literally—Richard in Wednesday’s final flight. The Frenchman, the 2007 winner now ranked No. 5, forced Williams behind the race committee boat in the final minute, and by the time the Brit recovered Richard had a 16-second jump off the line.

“For sure, we have to work on our starting,” Williams said.

Richard lost his first two matches to the veteran Dave Perry, coming off a strong effort in the preceding Stage One event, and Dickson—the latter’s only win. Then he beat Bruni and Berntsson before blitzing Williams to jump back into early contention.

And if Swinton seems like the only frontrunner besides Canfield who hasn’t won the Congressional Cup, he’s working on it.

Since placing eighth in the Monsoon Cup he has rebuilt his team by changing two of his five crew members for an all-Aussie outfit, except for pitman Tudur Owen of Wales.

He also has taken on a new tactician, Ben Lamb, who said, “I really haven’t done that … but we came from behind twice to win today.”

Still, Swinton dismissed a suggestion that this week was a bit like training camp. “I wouldn’t say that,” he said. “We were good off the [start] line in most of the races and usually came from behind when we had to.”

Racing is scheduled to start daily at 11:30 a.m., conditions permitting. Spectators may enjoy incomparable viewing of the races from Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier. Admission is free, with paid parking at the base of the pier. Seating, free public shuttles along the pier, concessions and comfort stations are available.

Standings after 5 of 18 flights

1. Tie between Ian Williams, UK, and Keith Swinton, Australia, 4-1; 3. tie among Mathieu Richard, France; Dave Perry, U.S., Francesco Bruni, Italy, and Taylor Canfield, USVI, 3-2; 7. Phil Robertson, New Zealand, 2-3; 8. tie among Simone Ferrarese, Italy; Johnie Berntsson, Sweden, and Scott Dickson, U.S., 1-4.

COMPLETE RESULTS

Footnotes

There are 13 on-water umpires from six nations, led by chief Russell Green, an ISAF International judge from New Zealand. Other Internationals are Alfredo Ricci, Italy; Kirk Brown, U.S.; Flavio Naveira, Argentina; Tom Rinda, U.S.; Richard Slater, Australia; Miguel Allen, Portugal, and David Blackman, U.S. National umpires are Karen Butler, Jeff Keenan, Charlie Arms and Stephen Van Dyck of the U.S. and Abhimanyu Patankar of India.

That MUST Go Sailing Feeling

Wed, 2014-04-09 20:22

Does it happen to you?

These shots were made early this week by onetime Stanford sailing coach Blake Middleton, now removed to, as Bob Dylan once described it, “the North Country, fair.”

Blake gives us the scene as, “Nine Z-420s from the University of Minnesota and area high school teams in a narrow band of open water. Say, 200 yards X 25 yards?”

And that is the report from 44° 54′ N X 093° 38′ W.

Spring is here. Posted 4/9/2014 by KL

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