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Match and Point

Thu, 2014-09-18 19:04

By Kimball Livingston Posted September 18, 2014

Shall we contemplate this thing called match racing?

The Alpari World Match Racing Tour is in Chicago this week, one of seven stops on the year, and compared to (almost, but not quite, ancient) history, the list of skippers is conspicuously not skewed toward America’s Cup boat drivers. Hopefuls, maybe . . .

Which gave us an excuse to catch up with Britain’s Ian Williams, winner of multiple world match race titles, to take the temperature. Williams noted, “The World Tour used to be sold as the road to the America’s Cup. Now, commercially, it has to stand on its own feet, and it does that. What it also does is give people an opportunity to break into pro sailing and to sail cheaply. Around the world there are these pools of boats maintained equally but not expensively. At the Chicago Match Race Center, it’s a fleet of Tom 28’s, and without this kind of setup you wouldn’t have the Taylor Canfields emerging at the top of the game.”

Canfield being the young 2013 winner of the Chicago Match Cup, Williams being the 2012 winner.

Williams and team in action in Sweden

In Williams’ view, “The match race tour is no longer relevant to the America’s Cup, or vice versa. There was a time when it bore a strong resemblance. But 99 percent of sailing is done in monohulls, so what we do in monohull match racing is still very relevant to the sport that most people know.”

The Ian Williams show has been worth watching. Once a practicing attorney, he quit his day job in 2005 for the life of a sailing pro. “When I stepped out onto the Tour,” he says, “I hoped that success would lead me to the America’s Cup. I still have that hope, but it’s become a lot more difficult since 2007. There are fewer teams, and each team needs fewer sailors. The physical component has been amped up too. On the IACC monohulls [sailed 1992-2007] a third of the people were there for their cerebral contribution. There’s less tactical work now.”

Williams was briefly part of a China Team effort to get a foothold in AC racing post-Valencia, but that was while events were spinning out of control and into the courts and on to the present impasse or, at the least, choke point, where we have Bermuda bidding for an AC35 match and wondering if they’re being played as a stalkinghorse for their competition in San Diego, and we have San Diego bidding for an AC35 match and wondering if they’re being played as a stalkinghorse for Bermuda—or even San Francisco—and one year ago today, on September 18, 2013 Emirates Team New Zealand scored a 17-second win and went up 8-1, needing just one more race to take the Cup, and today Larry Ellision announced that he is stepping aside as chief of Oracle, the software company, not the racing team and . . .

Whew.

But, back to our point: Match racing, apparently, doesn’t need the America’s Cup to thrive in pro and amateur forms, and Williams since 2006 has been sponsored by GAC Pindar, “since the same week that I won the Bermuda Gold Cup. GAC Pindar has been a huge support, and I think we give them a good return. The cost of a match racing team is lower than for teams on comparable circuits, but there is good television distribution, and that is the value.

“It’s still very competitive to get onto the tour,” Williams says of the system that allots eight tour cards per year, and it’s the only place where you have the chance to make more money than your costs. What’s interesting now, with a new crop of young guys like Canfield, is to see who comes out on top. The sailors with more experience, or the younger types who can put more time into it. When the boats are supplied, winning is not about developing better equipment. You’re only as good as your last race, or your next.”

And now I have to close this and get on down the road while racing continues on Lake Michigan, but I note that in today’s competition on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, Williams, Canfield, Phil Robertson and Mathieu Richard all look good for advancing to the semifinals with no further fuss.

Chicago, it’s a hell of a town—Kimball

Hurricane Odile Update

Thu, 2014-09-18 14:34

Mainstream media is still down, as power and communications haven’t been restored to southern Baja. However, current information about boats sunk and salvaged, and the tragic loss of at least one member of our cruising community can be found on the Charlie’s Charts Facebook page and on Sailnet.

Island Seeker, the boat I sailed back from Clipperton Island on, has been found on the beach, intact, and appears to be salvageable…hooray!:

Appreciating fuel management, wanting more

Thu, 2014-09-18 13:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Sep 18, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Gizmo is fenders down, awning up, in bustling Baltimore Harbor, and I have tales to tell. This old powerboat sails! That’s no surprise given her windage, but now I have precise data about how much wind (and current) can help her along thanks to a fuel management system. In this photo, for instance, we were making around 10 knots over the ground at 1,350 RPM but still getting over three miles to a gallon thanks to a stiff easterly wind pushing us down Long Island Sound. That’s a wake-pulling, inefficient RPM when running on flat summer water in Maine, but is much easier on crew and autopilot when in following seas like these. While I’m usually willing to spend more fuel money to shoulder through conditions like this, I was pleased to learn that the dollar difference wasn’t great…

I failed to get a photo of this underway (and may never learn to dust before snapping), but this was our default fly bridge engine screen. In the scene I described, the Fuel Economy value — nautical miles per hour divided by realtime gallons of diesel per hour burned by engine(s) — was wavering around 3.1 nm/gal. As explained when I installed the Maretron fuel flow system, measuring instantaneous flow accurately is very hard, especially when a diesel is being run at a relatively small percentage of its maximum power. I’ve learned from the flow meters that my 450 hp Volvo Penta was sucking in about 36 gallons of fuel per hour during that 1350 RPM run but sending about 33 gallons back to the tank. Set your sink faucet to fill a gallon jug in 20 minutes and you’ll see what a small flow the Maretron gear was trying to measure in realtime, then consider the accuracy difficulty when that flow is actually the differential of two flows ten times greater.

So I’ve gotten used to seeing jiggelty fuel economy numbers, but find them valuable nonetheless. The fuel burn at different RPMs in still conditions is generally consistent, and all summer I noticed how I could see the effect of fair or foul winds and currents. Besides, the difficulty of measuring instaneous flow doesn’t mean these meters aren’t extremely accurate over longer periods…

I have reasons to believe that Gizmo did indeed use 238 gallons of fuel steaming from Rockland to Baltimore. For one thing, this Garmin GMI20 totals fuel flow independently but is within a (rounding error) gallon of the count kept by the Maretron system itself. Moreover, the Garmin calculates Fuel Onboard by subtracting flow from the total you told it was onboard when the trip started plus what you record as added later. So a full 280 gallon load (at a nice price thanks to Journey’s End Marina’s fuel key program) plus 115 gallons added at fabulously funky Miss Chris Marina in Cape May equals 395 gallons, less 238 used equals (rounding error) 157 remaining.

Ah, but you skeptics out there are wisely thinking, “Wait, the counting may be independent but isn’t it all based on a single source of fuel flow data.” Which is why I was pleased to learn that Maretron does not calculate remaining fuel using flow, but instead does it based on tank capacity and level. Right now it reads 159 gallons remaining, which is darn close for an entirely different way to measure fuel volume. Skeptics must conclude that either the Maretron flow system and the tank calibration I did using a CZone Signal Interface (using existing Wema senders) are both quite accurate…or they err in a currently copacetic way.

There are many aspects to fuel management, and potentially many sensors, and confusions, involved. This screen shows how Raymarine let’s you choose to display gallons used and remaining by either counting the flow rate like Garmin does — the Ray a77 warns that it must always be on when the engine is running — or by referencing NMEA 2000 PGN 127497. That set of data fields is called “Trip Parameters, Engine” and the Maretron FFM100 module is always transmitting a current “Trip Fuel Used” count.

I don’t know why but you can only start the Ray fuel manager when you’ve done a fill up (and already set up the tank capacity). I did all that in Rockland but somehow the manager got reset somewhere along the road; it may have been operator error, but I won’t be able to get it right again until I do a full fill. However, my extensive paper records indicate that Raymarine can count fuel flow well and, like other displays, their MFDs can also calculate range and/or running hours at a given RPM. My records are revealing some oddities too, like the way the Actisense EMU-1 (discussed here) adds engine hours when it’s on but the engine isn’t running.

There will definitely be another entry on fuel management as I learn more about it and try other data displays. But I should mention the unfortunate fact that at least one of my Maretron flow sensors is weeping about a gallon of fuel per month into Gizmo’s engine pan. I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t screw an NPT fitting tight enough into a meter’s resin body, or so tight that it caused a crack. Maretron says that either is possible and admits that the tolerance either way is slim, but also says they’ve never seen a catastrophic failure (sensor blows apart, bad things ensue). Plus most of their current sensors — they’ve added models for really large flows — now have aluminum bodies.

I look forward to switching flow sensors so I don’t have to mess with spilt fuel, and I also look forward to displays that make even better use of flow information. For instance, none that I know of can collect an average nm/gal figure for a trip. And I haven’t yet seen the “money meter” I’ve joked about (and that Maretron is purportedly working on). A display system just needs to be able to accept the per gallon price when you input a fill and it could then give you realtime and trip time cost per mile…if you want to know.

I can crunch a spreadsheet, though, and have enough data to tell you that Gizmo averaged 3.1 nm/gal over the 740 mile trip at a fuel cost of $0.87 per mile. Most of those miles were at more than penny-pinching RPMs, but very few at mile-per-gallon 17 knots. Plus we got more than our share of tail winds and also tried hard to time the currents, even leaving Atlantic Hightlands at 4 am. Sailors can justifiably scoff at my fuel “efficiency” but then again we enjoyed briefly catching up with a couple of big 20k+ yachts because they apparently had to refuel in Atlantic City (or play a few hands). Yet then again, those guys might enjoy seeing a big number on their “money meter”; we’re not all the same and I’m OK with that.

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

Add Foils, Add a Theoretical Future, Stir

Wed, 2014-09-17 14:21

By Kimball Livingston Posted September 17, 2014

Want to host a foiling AC45 regatta in 2018, the year after America’s Cup 35?

Bidding is now open, but you needn’t sharpen your elbows. The real goal for America’s Cup developers (notice my phrasing) at the moment is setting venues for a racing circuit between now and 2017, the year of the next Cup match, which will be sailed in some kind of boat or other and not an AC45, presumably, In today’s announcement that existing AC45 one designs will be retooled to foil with the intent to continue a circuit beyond 2017, we can read an attempt to “normalize” the game by looking beyond the next match for the Cup. Again, presumably, there is more going on below the surface, or behind closed doors, but that’s been the trick, hasn’t it?

The Russell Coutts game plan to professionalize America’s Cup competition and put it on a footing with other pro sports was on the table going into 2013, and one year ago today there was all to play for. Emirates Team New Zealand needed two more race wins to take the Cup, and the Oracle Racing comeback story was reeling from its most recent 17-second loss. There was no racing on Tuesday, September 17, 2013, but the Cup was seriously up for grabs and with the outcome, The Plan.

Who could have foreseen the heady comeback win for Oracle Racing, with so many San Franciscans pouring down to the finish line that the fire marshal would close the gates to Pier 17? And who in that heady moment (certainly not I) would have imagined that one year later we would not know the venue of America’s Cup 35 (even if I think I can guess) and The Voices are telling me that the vaunted AC62 concept derived in great detail with great study from the AC72 may be shelved.

Who would have foreseen this moment for The Plan?

Announcing an intent to continue a 2015-16 foiling AC45 circuit into 2018 makes sense, but without a calendar for a 2015-16 circuit, I’m afraid it has about as much news value (do I sound excited?) as the blacked-out September 9 “press conference” in London.

London?

The America’s Cup, the signature event in our sport, has had identity crises before. But not, I believe, so vividly under the direction of people whose avowed purpose was to set it on course.

What’s that dratted sound?

Oh, sorry, it was my foot tapping.

Today’s word from America’s Cup central:

The six America’s Cup teams have agreed to a project that will see the existing fleet of AC45 catamarans modified into fully foiling catamarans for racing in the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS).

Importantly, the teams have also committed to continue to race the foiling AC45s on the America’s Cup World Series circuit in 2018, following the conclusion of the 35th America’s Cup in 2017.

“I’m pleased all of the competitors have agreed on a way forward, beyond the current America’s Cup cycle,” said Harvey Schiller, the Commercial Commissioner for the 35th America’s Cup.

“To have the teams give certainty to all stakeholders as to what will happen following the racing in 2017, regardless of who wins, is a huge step forward for all involved.”

The teams have undertaken the project to modify the one-design AC45s into fully foiling catamarans with a view to racing the foiling versions as early as the 2015 ACWS season.

A feasibility study has been commissioned to determine whether the mods will need to wait until the 2016 season as the timeline to make changes to the entire fleet ahead of racing in 2015 is extremely tight.

The competitors have also appointed a working group to select a Regatta Director, as required by the Protocol.

MY SHIP IS SO SMALL: High-Latitude Micro-Cruisers

Tue, 2014-09-16 19:13

This is fantastic stuff. I know nothing about these people, except that the fellow’s name (see photo up top) seems to be Euan, and he and his partner don’t seem to be shy about neglecting the kids for a while so they can knock around the North Sea on their tiny little 19-foot Hunter Europa sloop. Though I’m pretty sure he’s only kidding about having left them in the shed with the heat turned off.

Whatever. The kids certainly don’t seem to mind. All in all this was a 2-week cruise, from the Shetland Islands to Norway and back, that took place this summer:

As impressive (and fun!) as this seems, it’s an exploit that pales in comparison to the sort of sailing that Roger Taylor routinely engages in. He’s a bit older, with no kids to worry about presumably, and has been exploring northerly latitudes for several years now in two micro-cruisers named Mingming (the first was a 21-foot Corribee, the current one is a 24-foot Achilles) both seriously modified with junk rigs.

Mingming II, the Achilles 24, under sail

This summer Taylor, who won the Ocean Cruising Club’s Jester Medal in 2009, sailed 55 days non-stop singlehanded from northern Scotland to Svalbard and back.

Furthest north for the summer. On a 24-foot boat, no less. Not too shabby

Sailing past Jan Mayen on the way home, with a clear view of Mount Beerenberg

Mingming II‘s summer jaunt. Taylor seems to enjoy sailing past places without actually stopping at them

I urge you to check out Taylor’s website and explore his sailing career in more detail. Typical for a Brit, he’s pretty low-key and undramatic about what he’s up to. For example, in this viddy here, created aboard the first Mingming, he talks us through a two-day gale, complete with knockdown and broken ribs, in the Labrador Sea west of Greenland in 2012:

There are a lot more viddies on the website, including, among many others, an extended series on the creation of Mingming II and some fascinating stuff on whipstaffs.

MY SHIP IS SO SMALL: High-Latitude Micro-Cruisers

Tue, 2014-09-16 19:13

This is fantastic stuff. I know nothing about these people, except that the fellow’s name (see photo up top) seems to be Euan, and he and his partner don’t seem to be shy about neglecting the kids for a while so they can knock around the North Sea on their tiny little 19-foot Hunter Europa sloop. Though I’m pretty sure he’s only kidding about having left them in the shed with the heat turned off.

Whatever. The kids certainly don’t seem to mind. All in all this was a 2-week cruise, from the Shetland Islands to Norway and back, that took place this summer:

As impressive (and fun!) as this seems, it’s an exploit that pales in comparison to the sort of sailing that Roger Taylor routinely engages in. He’s a bit older, with no kids to worry about presumably, and has been exploring northerly latitudes for several years now in two micro-cruisers named Mingming (the first was a 21-foot Corribee, the current one is a 24-foot Achilles) both seriously modified with junk rigs.

Mingming II, the Achilles 24, under sail

This summer Taylor, who won the Ocean Cruising Club’s Jester Medal in 2009, sailed 55 days non-stop singlehanded from northern Scotland to Svalbard and back.

Furthest north for the summer. On a 24-foot boat, no less. Not too shabby

Sailing past Jan Mayen on the way home, with a clear view of Mount Beerenberg

Mingming II‘s summer jaunt. Taylor seems to enjoy sailing past places without actually stopping at them

I urge you to check out Taylor’s website and explore his sailing career in more detail. Typical for a Brit, he’s pretty low-key and undramatic about what he’s up to. For example, in this viddy here, created aboard the first Mingming, he talks us through a two-day gale, complete with knockdown and broken ribs, in the Labrador Sea west of Greenland in 2012:

There are a lot more viddies on the website, including, among many others, an extended series on the creation of Mingming II and some fascinating stuff on whipstaffs.

Podcast: David & Isabelle Hayes and Cruising with Kids

Tue, 2014-09-16 13:01

David & Isabelle share their classic story of a ten-year dream-turned-reality to take their kids cruising. A French-Canadian couple from Quebec, David & Isabelle describe how after a bad ATV accident, David had an epiphany in his hospital bed, and their dream began. Ten years, two daughters, and three boats later, and their realizing it, halfway through an Atlantic circuit that took them to the Bahamas, down the Thorny Path to the BVI, across the Atlantic to Morocco and the Saraha desert, and now to Las Palmas where they’re staging for the return. Get inspired!

Hurricane Odile: Carnage in La Paz

Tue, 2014-09-16 12:28

There is frustratingly little news coming from La Paz, Baja California, but the little I’ve received is disheartening. There’s lots of coverage about Cabo San Lucas, which you can see here.

La Paz is a major sailing center, with hundreds of cruising boats anchored off and moored in marinas at any given time. Apparently when Odile hit the wind was roughly out of the south, somewhat diminished from when it made landfall in Cabo, but with winds still around 100 MPH. On this map you’ll see La Paz, and just northwest of La Paz, across the bay, is a low-lying sand spit called El Mogote:

Apparently most of the boats at anchor dragged onto El Mogote. I have one friend who’s boat ended up on El Mogote and is most likely a total loss. He wasn’t aboard. Another friend stayed aboard (shiver me timbers), rode it out onto El Mogote, and her boat is fine: it just needs to be pulled off the beach.

All of the marinas are on the La Paz waterfront, so there theoretically wouldn’t have been any fetch to build up waves, but with winds strong enough to blow out windows and blow down power poles, there must be serious damage.

The best news, and the only photos I can find, are on our friends the Kaufman’s blog

If anyone has more information, please pass it on.

Many thanks folks!

Mon, 2014-09-15 14:07

Thanks for all the kind and encouraging words about my early drawings. They were labors of love.  The “client” names you see in some of the title blocks are usually names of my friends or people I made up. I was trying to look “official”.

People have been asking if the drawings are for sale or are prints available. Yes on both counts. The original will sell for $2,500 each and prints can be had for $100 a print. While I am not keen to part with the originals I’d rather see them mounted and framed rather than just to roll them up and stick them back in a tube in my archives to be forgotten again. I’m thinking about my next blog entry. I have received some requests to tell the entire NIGHT RUNNER story. It’s a good story and an ongoing saga. I usually write my pieces in my head while walking my dogs. A few more dog walks and I’ll be ready to write about NIGHT RUNNER.

Up And Down Mountains Named "Beer"

Sun, 2014-09-14 19:16

I huffed and puffed my way up the trail. I had forgotten how little I like walking uphill. I assume this is some sort of self-preservation mechanism, because I get marched up mountains with depressing regularity. Erik and I, sadly, are walking-incompatible. I can walk forever on flat or gently rolling terrain. And I enjoy it. But when things get steep, the fun factor drops dramatically. Erik, on the other hand, hates walking on flat land.  This is because he is secretly a mountain goat. The steeper the grade, the happier he is, and he will gladly spend a day (or weekend, or month) skipping from crag to crag, pausing only to land in the odd cow pat.

We were exploring the Glass House mountains north of Brisbane. The mountains are old lava plugs, exposed when the softer sandstone around them eroded away. Which is cool – who wouldn’t like to hike on a hunk of frozen mantle? We tried to get the girls excited about going to the mountains, but whether they were jaded from years of visiting impressive landscapes or just tired after yet another weekend of birthday fun, they played it cool.

Of course, the girls always play it cool until we arrive at Destination X, and then they are always full of enthusiasm. Not necessarily for whatever is supposed to impress them at that moment, but still. Indy and Stylish dutifully spent a good three seconds looking out from the lookout point, and then began to play Fire Dragon and the Two Bridges. Indy explained it to me later; it appears to be a tag-like game involving a dragon and a fish running across a pool of lava. I note proudly that lava was involved, so the kids clearly internalized something about the Glass House mountains – daily dose of education managed.

Erik and I took a look at the map. “Let’s try the hike at Mount Beerwah,” I said. The summit was closed due to rock slides, but a simple stroll through the forest would be just the ticket.

Mom’s idea of fun. Mount Beewah plus attractive family.

As we admired the pretty basaltic structures of Mount Beerwah, Erik began to get antsy. It is difficult for him to look at a mountain without being on said mountain. Back at the carpark, he marched over to the posted map and stabbed a finger at another walking trail.
“There’s a good one,” he said. “We’re going there next.”
“Mount Beerburrum. Another beer mountain*?” I looked at the description. 1.4 km, grade 4 track. “Bushwalking experience recommended,” I read. “Tracks may be long, rough and very steep. Moderate level of fitness and ankle-supporting footwear required.” My natural optimism took over. Steep, sure, but a moderate level of fitness meant it couldn’t be too bad. The track was paved, for goodness sake.

We arrived at Mount Beerburrum. Erik was 50 m up the track before I had even unbuckled my seatbelt.

Up, up, up we go.

Indy took immediate possession of a too-tall walking stick, and worked her way up the hill like Gandalf wrangling the Fellowship. Occasionally she would sweep the stick to one side, hoping to irritate carpet pythons hiding in the grass, perhaps. The stick also served to punctuate her conversation. She was an absolute menace, and I soon fell back to avoid serious injury. Being last in line definitely had nothing to do with my huffing and puffing. Certainly not. I can’t comment on Stylish’s experiences up Mount Beerburrum, because she, like her father, moved forward like the Terminator following John Connor. Single-minded ascent.

Our reward for a steep climb: a beautiful view. Looking out from Mount Beerburrum

Not to suggest that we were so disgustingly healthy as to simply dance up and down mountains all day. We also enjoyed a very civilized lunch, a silly number of snacks, and on the ride home, a delicious pineapple crush (which was simply a pineapple run through a blender, no water added).

You would think, at this point, that we had had enough for one day. And we had. Everyone was a little dopey on the ride home, whether from the walking or the sugar crash. But we had borrowed the car from an acquaintance, and had to get it back to her before we could take our weary selves home.
“There is supposed to be a nice park down the street from Gayle’s apartment,” I said. “Do you girls feel like stopping there for a little while?”
Like magic,the girls straightened in the back seat. “Yes, yes, yes!” I don’t think I ever ever seen them tired enough to refuse a visit to the park. And so we joined the hundreds of other kids in the park that afternoon.

Spinning, spinning, spinning Spider-in-training

We dropped the car as the sun set. And even though we were all genuinely tired now, no one really wanted to admit the day was over.
“You know,” I said, “they just fixed up the movie theatre down the street. Anyone want to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?”
A quick meal of butter chicken and lamb vindaloo later, we were enjoying the (wafer-thin) adventures of Leonardo & co. The girls curled into the enormous bean bag chairs at the front of the theatre, and Erik and I sat behind them like the grow-ups we are. This was purely practical on my side – if I had claimed a beanbag, I would have been asleep within minutes.

So comfy.

Today, we are back to our regular routine: school, swimming, park. Unless something really good comes along. Which, I’m glad to say, it almost always does.


* From the Dungidau language “birra”, meaning “sky”. This makes much more sense than the English “beer”, because climbing and alcohol don’t tend to mix successfully.

50 Years on San Francisco Bay

Sat, 2014-09-13 13:52

The S&S yawl Athene, winner of the inaugural St. Francis Perpetual Trophy

Posted September 13 courtesy of RegattaNews.Com

There is one person who can tell the full story of the Rolex Big Boat Series, in amazing detail, starting from its humble beginnings. It is the man whose idea it was to start it back in the 1960s: St. Francis Yacht Club’s Staff Commodore (1975) Robert C. Keefe, who at the age of 84 has been a member for 65 years and remembers the early days of the then-called St. Francis Perpetual Trophy Series as if it were yesterday.

As a traveling sales manager for (and eventually President of) Barient Winches, Keefe spent plenty of time in Southern California, getting to know the area’s principal yachtsmen. Recognizing that the respective collections of fine yachts there and in northern California should get together, he suggested establishing a race. It was 1963, and there would be time to organize it for 1964.

“The Commodore said it wasn’t the worst idea in the world, but we needed an organizer, someone to ramrod this,” said Keefe, who was the natural choice for filling the role. “The Southern California sailors said ‘we’d really like to do it, but we have to stay on our home waters for the events on our sailing calendar. When it tapers off later in the year, we’ll come to San Francisco.’ That’s how September came about.”

That first year, the yacht club invited 25 boats to sail in its series, the vast majority of them over 60 feet long. “They were mostly from Southern California but we asked some from New York, Florida, Boston…not so much because we thought they’d drop in, but we wanted to play with the big boys. We ended up with four from here and four from Southern California.”

The inaugural regatta was raced on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, so the out-of-town sailors could go back and forth to their offices. “That worked well, and in ’65 a few more boats came from San Diego, some from Seattle…even Storm Vogel arrived from Holland, sailing through the Golden Gate. In ’67, the regatta ran a little out of gas only because California boats began going to the Eastern Seaboard to race, but we still had a big fleet of 50 footers (about 20), so we created a second trophy for them. Then in 1970, big boats matriculated back to the West Coast.” (Today, specially engraved Rolex timepieces are traditionally awarded to winners of the St. Francis Perpetual Trophy; the City of San Francisco Trophy; the Richard Rheem Trophy; the Keefe-Kilborn Memorial Trophy; the Atlantic Trophy; and the Commodore’s Cup.)

Keefe continued “ramrodding” the event for ten years, and it was his and his fellow club members’ fine salesmanship that convinced some of the greatest boats of all time to compete. They included the 67’ yawl Chabasco from Newport Beach and John B. (Jim) Kilroy’s various Los Angeles-based Kialoas (Kialoa II competed in the inaugural event, finishing second to Jim Wilhite’s 63-foot Sparkman & Stephens yawl Athene, which won the original St. Francis Perpetual Trophy.)

“Jim was the guy who would say ‘this has got to be the best place in the world for this kind of sailing,’” said Keefe. “This is no hurricane gulch, but certainly we have 15, 18, 20 knots every day. Then if you want light air, you can go over to Marin County and on the same day have 10-12 knots of breeze. The range of wind the gods gave us here in San Francisco did wonderful things for us. We had this wonderful asset.”

Keefe recalls the very first race of the first series, which started at noon and went out under the Golden Gate Bridge into the ocean. “We didn’t get back until midnight. God love it out there, but besides being cold, wet and miserable, that’s not what the sailors had come for. They wanted to have good, fair racing in our little puddle right out there, between the bridges and on the waterfront here,” said Keefe, pointing to the water that famously laps at the club’s northern facing side and presents the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island in one sweeping glance.

Keefe also remembers the endearing moments that are typical of those that keep many participants coming back year after year, if not decade after decade. “Roy Disney had many occasions to have his boats here (Shamrock and various Pyewackets). The first year Rolex was a presenting sponsor, it was opening night and there was a watch display out front. When I went by, what was sitting on top of the glass case but a Mickey Mouse watch, with a nice little stand and a big dial. That really kind of broke everyone up. I thought it was hilarious, but Roy never admitted to it; maybe his crew cooked it up.”

“We have a lot of fun,” said Keefe. “That’s one reason these guys come back. It’s an enjoyable experience—the racing, the club and San Francisco itself.”

Here is a gallery of racing in 2014, the 50th edition of what is now the Rolex Big Boat Series, courtesy of Rolex and photographer Daniel Forster.

All color images © Rolex/Daniel Forster

2014 NEWPORT INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW: Gunboat 55, Varianta 37, Salona 33, C&C Redline 41

Fri, 2014-09-12 20:34

I spent yesterday cruising the docks at the show in Newport and was particularly pleased to have a chance to get aboard the new Gunboat 55. You’ve got to hand it to Peter Johnstone–he is not one to rest on his laurels. After sailing the Gunboat 60 last year at Annapolis, I was impressed by how willing he’s been to rethink what a Gunboat might be. Given the great success of the first generation of boats, a lot of builders would have been very happy to just do more of the same. The 60 is definitely a different sort of Gunboat, but the new 55, a very elegant open-bridgedeck design, is something else entirely.

As I’ve mentioned before, I really like open-bridgedeck catamarans. To me they are the distilled essence of what a cat is supposed to be. In this boat, Johnstone adheres to the simplicity of the concept, but takes it to a whole new level in terms of execution.

The open bridgedeck looking forward. This is the first Gunboat without an open cockpit forward of the house

The helm and controls are still right behind the mast. You can step right outside to the mast through sliding glass doors either side of the wheel if you want to, but in most cases you won’t need to. A big moonroof over the helm station gives you a clear view of the mainsail

The bridgedeck looking aft. This boat is all about the al fresco lifestyle. All the canvas back there can be quickly removed

Accommodations are in the two hulls, which can be sealed off with totally weatherproof doors, or with sliding screen doors, when all you want to keep out is the bugs

On this boat the galley is down aft in the port hull and is about as spacious and filled with light as an in-hull catamaran galley can be. Alternatively, you can order the boat with the galley up on the bridgedeck

House systems are controlled and monitored with this discrete touchpad located just off the galley

Each hull has a full-on stateroom with an athwartship double berth and en suite head and shower

All foils are fully retractable. The rudders slot into cassettes and can be pinned in place at different depths. The major foils are centerboards that can kick up without suffering damage when they hit something

The Gunboat 55, designed by Nigel Irens, is the first boat to come out of Gunboat’s new production yard in North Carolina. Production of the Gunboat 60, formerly built in China, is also being moved here.

Wandering over to the opposite end of the show’s new-boat spectrum, I was particularly intrigued by the Varianta 37, a very stripped-down version of the German-built Hanse 375.

This baby is as basic as a modern fiberglass cruising boat can be. You don’t even get a cove stripe!

The Varianta’s cockpit. That big wheel says “performance,” and in fact I do expect this boat to sail fairly well. In spite of having an all solid-laminate hull, so much stuff has been removed it’s about 1,000 pounds lighter than the 375, which is cored above the waterline

The barebones interior. There’s as little joinery as possible, canvas slings for storage, an uninsulated engine space, very simple systems, etc. Construction is also basic and robust, with seven bulkheads fully tabbed to the hull

Base price here in the U.S. is $153,400. The boat is intended for use in sailing schools, membership sailing programs, and charter fleets, but I imagine individual owners could have quite a bit of fun personalizing a “blank canvas” like this.

Like Varianta, Salona is another Euro-brand that has just migrated to the States. These boats are from Croatia, and I thought this 33-footer had a lot of style.

Base price is $150,736, including working sails. Properly equipped, the boat should make a comfortable/competitive cruiser-racer

As that big traveler suggests, this a boat for people who are into sail trim. It can be ordered with twin wheels, or with a tiller. It carries an aggressive T-keel that draws a full 7 feet of water, or 5’9″ if you opt for the “shoal” version. Either way, there’s a lot of keel down there for a boat this size

The interior is spacious, with a surprising amount of storage space. There’s full headroom for a 6-foot guy like me

And you needn’t worry about the keel falling off for no good reason, a la Cheeki Rafiki. There’s a beefy stainless steel grid glassed into the bilge that carries both the rig and keel loads

Yet another craft that caught my eye was this latest interpretation of what a contemporary C&C yacht should be. U.S. Watercraft has licensed the brand name from Tartan and is building this C&C Redline 41 in Warren, Rhode Island.

This is what I’d call a racer-cruiser, with a very business-like cockpit. Base price is $424,900

The interior is very civilized. Clean and functional for racing, but attractive enough to actually live in for a while

The saloon looking forward. The settee backs pivot up and can be hung from the overhead as an extra pair of berths

Of course, these aren’t the only boats in the show. These are just the ones that jumped out at me hardest. There’s still plenty of time for you to get down there and check out the scene for yourself. The show closes Sunday; be sure to tell them I sent you.

2014 NEWPORT INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW: Gunboat 55, Varianta 37, Salona 33, C&C Redline 41

Fri, 2014-09-12 20:34

I spent yesterday cruising the docks at the show in Newport and was particularly pleased to have a chance to get aboard the new Gunboat 55. You’ve got to hand it to Peter Johnstone–he is not one to rest on his laurels. After sailing the Gunboat 60 last year at Annapolis, I was impressed by how willing he’s been to rethink what a Gunboat might be. Given the great success of the first generation of boats, a lot of builders would have been very happy to just do more of the same. The 60 is definitely a different sort of Gunboat, but the new 55, a very elegant open-bridgedeck design, is something else entirely.

As I’ve mentioned before, I really like open-bridgedeck catamarans. To me they are the distilled essence of what a cat is supposed to be. In this boat, Johnstone adheres to the simplicity of the concept, but takes it to a whole new level in terms of execution.

The open bridgedeck looking forward. This is the first Gunboat without an open cockpit forward of the house

The helm and controls are still right behind the mast. You can step right outside to the mast through sliding glass doors either side of the wheel if you want to, but in most cases you won’t need to. A big moonroof over the helm station gives you a clear view of the mainsail

The bridgedeck looking aft. This boat is all about the al fresco lifestyle. All the canvas back there can be quickly removed

Accommodations are in the two hulls, which can be sealed off with totally weatherproof doors, or with sliding screen doors, when all you want to keep out is the bugs

On this boat the galley is down aft in the port hull and is about as spacious and filled with light as an in-hull catamaran galley can be. Alternatively, you can order the boat with the galley up on the bridgedeck

House systems are controlled and monitored with this discrete touchpad located just off the galley

Each hull has a full-on stateroom with an athwartship double berth and en suite head and shower

All foils are fully retractable. The rudders slot into cassettes and can be pinned in place at different depths. The major foils are centerboards that can kick up without suffering damage when they hit something

The Gunboat 55, designed by Nigel Irens, is the first boat to come out of Gunboat’s new production yard in North Carolina. Production of the Gunboat 60, formerly built in China, is also being moved here.

Wandering over to the opposite end of the show’s new-boat spectrum, I was particularly intrigued by the Varianta 37, a very stripped-down version of the German-built Hanse 375.

This baby is as basic as a modern fiberglass cruising boat can be. You don’t even get a cove stripe!

The Varianta’s cockpit. That big wheel says “performance,” and in fact I do expect this boat to sail fairly well. In spite of having an all solid-laminate hull, so much stuff has been removed it’s about 1,000 pounds lighter than the 375, which is cored above the waterline

The barebones interior. There’s as little joinery as possible, canvas slings for storage, an uninsulated engine space, very simple systems, etc. Construction is also basic and robust, with seven bulkheads fully tabbed to the hull

Base price here in the U.S. is $153,400. The boat is intended for use in sailing schools, membership sailing programs, and charter fleets, but I imagine individual owners could have quite a bit of fun personalizing a “blank canvas” like this.

Like Varianta, Salona is another Euro-brand that has just migrated to the States. These boats are from Croatia, and I thought this 33-footer had a lot of style.

Base price is $150,736, including working sails. Properly equipped, the boat should make a comfortable/competitive cruiser-racer

As that big traveler suggests, this a boat for people who are into sail trim. It can be ordered with twin wheels, or with a tiller. It carries an aggressive T-keel that draws a full 7 feet of water, or 5’9″ if you opt for the “shoal” version. Either way, there’s a lot of keel down there for a boat this size

The interior is spacious, with a surprising amount of storage space. There’s full headroom for a 6-foot guy like me

And you needn’t worry about the keel falling off for no good reason, a la Cheeki Rafiki. There’s a beefy stainless steel grid glassed into the bilge that carries both the rig and keel loads

Yet another craft that caught my eye was this latest interpretation of what a contemporary C&C yacht should be. U.S. Watercraft has licensed the brand name from Tartan and is building this C&C Redline 41 in Warren, Rhode Island.

This is what I’d call a racer-cruiser, with a very business-like cockpit. Base price is $424,900

The interior is very civilized. Clean and functional for racing, but attractive enough to actually live in for a while

The saloon looking forward. The settee backs pivot up and can be hung from the overhead as an extra pair of berths

Of course, these aren’t the only boats in the show. These are just the ones that jumped out at me hardest. There’s still plenty of time for you to get down there and check out the scene for yourself. The show closes Sunday; be sure to tell them I sent you.

This week in ocean sailing (and other cool stuff)

Fri, 2014-09-12 06:59

As we head towards the re-launch of 59-north.com in the next few weeks, I’m starting something today that I plan to continue and make a feature of the new site/newsletter. In short, I learn a lot about what I talk and write about when it comes to offshore sailing by voraciously reading others. I’d like to share that. Here’s new original content from 59-north.com, plus what I found most interesting this past week around the web and in print:

On Ocean Sailing

Other Inspiring & Thought-Provoking Reads

Dig it? Share with a friend, or sign up below to get this each Friday at 7am, straight into your email. The reimagined newsletter will feature the best curated content from around the web, but new and original stuff by us at 59º North. Enjoy.

 

 

 

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Podcast Essay: Fit & Healthy Onboard

Fri, 2014-09-12 05:09

Andy discusses how he and Mia stay fit and healthy onboard. From eating right and paying attention to ingredient labels, to why German beer is better for you, to how to create a workout around a deck of cards, Andy covers his own methods of keeping fit and healthy on Arcturus. Have your own ideas? Share them with us!

Boats are meant to move

Thu, 2014-09-11 15:55

Two months and change. 71 days, actually (who’s counting?). During the last six years of cruising the only other times we’ve stayed in one place more than two months were when we parked in Australia, and earlier this year in Langkawi. That’s it. Even the places we’ve stopped for more than a month only amount to a handful: we may not move quickly, but we like to be moving. Nomadic living is our baseline.

Of course, we didn’t have much of a choice this year. Sitting in the marina was a far cry from our grand plans of cruising in Borneo and the Philippines, but it’s great peace of mind to have worked through our engine troubles.

Pulling out of Puteri Harbour a couple of days ago was an incredible, liberating feeling. Being on the move again, listening to water swish along the hull, feels SO GOOD! Sailing would have been cathartic, but there wasn’t  wind to work with. On the other hand, we needed the all-out long motoring days to test the engine. It passed: no overheating, and the coolant levels remained perfect. FINALLY.

Anchoring off islands in the Strait of Malacca, a weight is lifted. The call to prayer echoes from a mosque as our home once more rocks gently, lulling us to sleep. The sun sets behind the Liberty 458 Solstice, followed by a spectacular full  moon in brilliant jack o’lantern orange, reminders that we’re back at the whim of the natural world instead of pinned to a manufactured one.

We’re now on a slow march northbound. Solstice is traveling with us, which aside from offering great company, means we get picture of Totem- that’s Bill’s picture at the top. Thanks, Bill, for having a camera ready during the five minutes we actually got to sail yesterday! OK, almost sail. Fine, we were motorsailing. But it looked good, and we picked up speed and fuel efficiency. Right? Well, at  least we didn’t have any of the infamous Sumatras, although the squall-dodging was “interesting” and some of the lightning too close for comfort.

Our days were uneventful enough to goof around with photos of the commercial traffic that’s on a constant flow along the Strait; our younger mermaid practices her tanker-lifting technique below. I start writing down the different destination ports showing up on their AIS data: Mumbai, Futong, Sikka, Nazira, Yangon, Columbo. Far off destinations, the kind that get your mind wandering.

You know about the five gyres, right? How much comes from this corner of the world? How much floats in? We see it constantly. There is trash around the boat, in volume, most of the time. I played with the contrast to pull them out in this photo…commercial vessels in the Malacca shipping lanes in the distance.

Then there was tanker under a Zanzibar flag, oddly parked outside the port zone, AIS turned off, small boats (with more crew than the normal local fishing boat) in close quarters. The ship didn’t answer when hailed by name over VHF 16. We’re not far from a major global piracy zone, and it stood out as odd, so Jamie reported it when we arrived in Port Dickson a short while later.

I’m grateful to the marina friends in Puteri who gave us an unforgettable sendoff. Gifts for the girls from the kids on Madrona and Capricorn Dancer. At departure, an alpine horn salute at the dock, and kazoos and pompoms from shore. Cruisers are a fun bunch! Seriously, though, the kazoo gets bit points for style and eardrum friendliness compared to an air horn (adds to list for boat inventory…).

 

Next stops: playing tourist in Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang!

Followers on the move know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Volcanic Eruption and Shockwave in Papua New Guinea

Thu, 2014-09-11 12:09

This is something you don’t see every day while cruising along. Full story here.

Antenna masts: Edson Vision & more

Thu, 2014-09-11 11:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Sep 11, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

So far, so good. Finishing up Gizmo’s antenna mast was the last minute task before heading south, but nothing fell on our heads during the often lively passage to the Cape Cod Canal and around into Long Island Sound. Most of the new installs up there worked too, though we experienced a couple of very odd MFD issues that I’ll write up once I understand them better. For the time being I’ll just repeat a venerable adage: Do not rely on any one source of navigation information. Now let’s discuss the Edson Vision and custom mounting hardware I used for the antenna farm…

So Gizmo now has two antenna platforms bolted to the spreaders as well as a new mast cap, all custom made in aluminum by Maine metal wizards Rockport Steel. The concept is to get a lot of antenna mount options fairly clear of the steel shrouds without adding a lot of weight. By extending the cap in four directions I also got better positions for the LED flood lights and the two ultrasonic wind sensors, as well as a flag hoist further abaft the mast.

I also used an Edson Vision series six-inch mount to get the Flir camera a little higher and also to make it easier to install, troubleshoot, or (sadly ;-) return. My initial Edson order, though, wasn’t well thought out. Working through all the Vision options you’ll find at that link I got intrigued with adding a curved arm with a combination Perko LED steaming/anchor light on top. Above you can see the 10.6-inch plate needed to hold the camera as well as the light arm bracket. It all goes together nicely and Edson includes the bolts needed to attach camera and bracket to plate and then plate to mount, plus containers of the anti-sieze gunk you should use where stainless meets aluminum.

But when I saw the big plate and light arm in the flesh I realized that combining them with Gizmo’s peace-sign-like Electrotechnologies lightning inhibitor was too much. That’s when the Vision modularity — and also the great Edson service I recently wrote about — came into play. I sent back everything but the mount while they shipped me a 7-inch plate that matches the camera diameter.

Here’s the mast cap going together. It’s thicker (and heavier) than needed — I gave Rockport Steel lot’s of latitude so they could use material in stock — but I made lemonade out of lemons by tapping threads for many of the fastenings. It may have been a little quick and dirty to spray on Rustoleum Professional Aluminum Primer and topcoat but the paint certainly went on easily and seems to have adhered well. Time will tell…

Here’s the cap yesterday afternoon here in Northport, Long Island, about 330 miles down the road to Baltimore. Maybe I’ll get around to sawing off those bolt ends eventually, but then again maybe they’re a further discouragement to the birds who seem to avoid Gizmo’s mast anyway. Note the nice high view, which of course is available via the Flir or any pan-and-tilt camera.

As a bit of an experiment I had standard 1″-14 thread marine antenna base nipples welded on to minimize weight and hopefully improve the looks. You can see on the starboard platform that the idea worked fine with a Globalstar Sat-Fi antenna (I’m testing Iridium GO too), a WiFiRanger Marine, and the Wilson marine cellular stick. Some antennas won’t work with my scheme, though, like the Digital Antenna 695-3000 MHz Bullet below (first discussed after the Miami Show). It comes with that custom stainless base which has enough internal diameter to fit an LMR400 cable with an N connector. So you make the connection with the cable run through the base and then finish the install with those tiny screws between base and bullet, which is possibly tricky business when you’re up a mast. But then again I think the Bullet combined with a Wilson Sleek 4G cradle booster is partially responible for the very fast cell data connection I’m enjoying right now.

At any rate, we’re underway now and it’s just dumb luck that we’ll be going through New York Harbor on 9/11. You see where we are via DeLorme InReach satellite tracking and often via Marine Traffic. Rest assured that Gizmo will be flying more than the flag of Maine.

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

3 for 3 in 86

Wed, 2014-09-10 16:27

Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM

Catapult-ed to the Top of the Standings
Opening Day Action of Inaugural J/70 World Championship. By Jan Harley/Media Pro

NEWPORT, R.I. (September 9, 2014) – It may have been mostly cloudy for the opening day of the 2014 J/70 World Championship presented by Helly Hansen, but one standout bright spot was the performance of Joel Ronning of Minneapolis, Minn. Sailing Catapult with long-time crew Victor Diaz De Leon of Venezuela, and San Diego sailors Willem Van Waay and Bill Hardesty – the latter the 2011 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year – Ronning drove to win three out of three races sailed on a lumpy Rhode Island Sound.

New York Yacht Club’s Race Committee started the 86-strong fleet in a 18-20 knot ENE breeze which moderated slightly over the subsequent two races. Between the strong breeze and the sea state – the swells did not subside until the tide change late in the day during the third and final race – competitors were given a healthy workout.

Ronning holds the lead in the standings with three points over local sailor Tim Healy (Jamestown, R.I.) on Helly Hansen who posted a consistent 2-2-2 for six points.

Healy, the current J/70 North American Champion, is sailing with Geoff Becker, Gordon Borges and Paula Abdullah. Having long been a dominant force in the J/24 class, Healy got into the J/70 because of the family atmosphere. “Everyone is willing to share ideas on how to sail the boats better and how we can make a stronger J/70 class. The competition is fierce but the focus for sure is to have fun racing and to make good friends along the way.”

Healy summed up the hurdles facing competitors who will be racing in Newport for the first time during this championship. “The biggest challenge will be figuring out how to sail the boats in the open water of Rhode Island Sound. The current is difficult to figure out (I am not sure anyone has it figured out) and predicting the wind shifts is also difficult. In early September we usually have good wind but it can come from just about any direction. Air temperatures can be anywhere from the high 50s to the low 80s.”

“Our biggest challenge will be to keep working as a team through the difficult times,” added Healy. “In a large fleet like this and on a big racecourse, there will be many difficult situations when we will need to stay focused on just getting up the course as fast as we can, and not dwelling on mistakes.

2013 BACARDI® Miami Sailing Week class champion Brian Keane of Weston, Mass., at the helm of Savasana, is one point behind Healy, in third overall, followed by Brazil’s Mauricio Santa Cruz on Bruschetta with 15 points. Rounding out the top-five is San Francisco’s Jim Cunningham on Lifted with 16 points.

The September 8-13 competition is being hosted by New York Yacht Club at Harbour Court, with regatta headquarters at Sail Newport, Rhode Island’s Public Sailing Center.

About the J/70 – The J/70 introduces a new dimension of fun, fast sailing in a stable, easy to own boat. A natural evolution of its J pedigree, the J/70′s 22-foot long waterline with high aspect, all carbon rig and deep, lifting bulb keel provides spirited performance and stability that feels like a much larger boat. Since its introduction, in March 2012, the J/70 has quickly established itself worldwide with 600+ boats sailing in 20+ countries. The J/70 Class was awarded ISAF One Design status in November 2013.

International Canoes and the Individual Touch

Wed, 2014-09-10 13:16

Here’s a class that holds a world championship every three years—only.

Here’s a class that’s not right for everyone.

And here’s a class that’s addictive for a certain few. Their newsletter is called The Sliding Seat.

Erik Simonson/PressureDrop.US has been following the action, hosted by the Richmond Yacht Club. There’s a “Richmond Riviera” thing going on, but the breeze has touched twenty at times, so everyone will go home knowing they have sailed on San Francisco Bay . . .

This video is a few years old, but if you’re intrigued, here’s where you will find the International Canoe story.

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