Monday, February 08, 2016

12 Styles of Hiking in a Laser

Here's a fun video demonstrating twelve different styles of hiking in a Laser.

Thanks to @finalbeatsail and @RoosterSailing for sharing this on Twitter.

What is your preferred Laser hiking style?

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Caption Contest

To see the context of this shot, check out the video... It starts to get interesting at about 1:20.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Sailing Photo Quiz - Throwback Thursday





Who won?

Why is this suddenly topical?

What did Tillerwoman have for dinner?

What was happening in the week before these photos were taken?

I See No Icebergs

Captain JP, himself an intrepid sailor of Arctic regions, asked me in the comments to yesterday's post for some photos of RS Aero sailing "in proper icy conditions where there are bergs in the water."

Well, I've spent at least three minutes searching the Interwebs and I can't find any.

The nearest I can come are these two photos.

The first one is of my friend launching an RS Aero in Newport Rhode Island last March.

And the second one is from some guy in Norway who had to outdo my friend by posting this picture of his RS Aero.

No icebergs to be seen.

But I did accidentally come across this picture of Kate Upton (whoever she is) taken on a ship in Antarctica where she had some photos of herself taken on the snow for some magazine called the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

According to Wikipedia, which is never wrong, "Feminists have expressed that the Swimsuit Issue promotes the harmful and dehumanizing concept that women are a product for male consumption."

And that's all I have to say about that.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

RS Aero News Roundup January 2016

There's been a lot of good news from RS Aero world in the last few weeks.

1. The Audacious Anglo Saxons

Those crazy English people are still sailing their RS Aero Winter Series even though the country is apparently facing its coldest winter in 58 years with forecasts of weeks of freezing blizzards, crippling snowfall and brutal winter storms.

In spite of the weather, plucky RS Aero sailors from this island nation were out in force at...
the (aptly named) Bloody Mary on January 9th

the (somewhat warmer sounding) Starcross Steamer on January 17th

and the Steve Nicholson Trophy on January 30th.

And here is a video of Emily Davis sailing at the Steve Nicholson Trophy.

Brrr! Enough of the English. I am getting cold just looking at them!

2. The Tenacious Texans

Ash Beatty

I hear that RS Aero sailing is really taking off in Texas. Ash Beatty recently announced the 2016 RS Aero Texas Circuit. Let's hope we see similar RS Aero circuits getting organized in other regions of the USA in the coming months.

April 30 - May 1 Rush Creek YC Spring Dinghyfest
June 18-19 Seabrook Sailing Club Summer Solstice
September 17-18 Houston Yacht Club HOOD Regatta
October 15 - 16 Rush Creek YC Fall Dinghyfest
November 4- 6 Wurstfest

But not everyone who buys an RS Aero is principally interested in racing. Some people buy an RS Aero just to go and have fun in the wind and the waves and the surf. One such sailor is Dion Alaniz who has been posting videos on Dinghy Anarchy of his RS Aero sailing in Texas on Corpus Christi Bay and Bird Island Basin.

3. A Boatload of Boatshows

It's boat show season in various parts of the world right now - especially in the northern part of the United States. And it is good to see the RS Aero represented at most of the shows.

4. Boats. Boats. Boats.

When I ordered my RS Aero in March 2014 (first order placed in N.America I was told later) I had to wait until May 2015 for it to be delivered (which to be fair was when RS Sailing promised it would be available.)

There wasn't exactly an over-supply of RS Aeros in our part of the world last year. I even heard one story about a local sailor who wanted to buy an RS Aero and when he realized he would have to wait several months for it, he changed his mind and went off to buy a Laser. Oh, the humanity!

But this year is different. Already, at the beginning of February, our regional RS Sailing distributor, Zim Sailing, has plenty of RS Aeros in stock, and more on the way I hear.

Just imagine! You could walk into the shop in Warren RI and leave with an RS Aero!

As far as RS Aero fleets in the USA are concerned, 2016 will be the year of growth, growth, growth!

5. Regattas. Regattas. Regattas!  And beer!

It's that time of the year when we are all scanning the regatta calendars and working out which events we want to sail.

Should I go to the UK Nationals in Torbay in England in June?

Or the RS Aero Europeans in Travemunde in Germany in July?

Or the US Nationals in the Columbia River Gorge in August?

But wait. What's this I read? The Czech RS Aero Open on Lake Lipno in the Czech Republic in May is being sponsored by the Cvikov Brewery. The event organizer promises "a lot of free beer."

No contest!

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

11 Lessons I Learned from Sailing with Fleet 413 on Sunday

On Sunday I went racing with the Newport Laser Frostbite Fleet also known as Fleet 413.

It was a beautiful day for sailing. Temperature about 50 degrees and a 15 knot SW breeze.

I would often describe those as perfect conditions for Laser sailing, but Sunday's races were a humbling experience for me.

A learning experience in all sorts of ways.

Lesson #1: Laser sailing is not like riding a bike. 

Riding a bike

You do forget how to do it (properly) if you don't do it for a while.

At least I do.

I hadn't been Laser sailing for six weeks and it felt like a strange and difficult thing to do.

At least at first.

Lesson #2: Get out to the course early.

I was at Sail Newport in plenty of time but somehow I frittered the time away and didn't take my boat down to the beach until about 15 minutes before the start. Then I spent some time helping some other people to launch. Then I launched my own boat only to discover that my evil sheet had wrapped itself around both the boom and the tiller extension in one of those triple buntline carrick bend double surgeon's clinch knots, which it has a tendency to do at times. Then I capsized my boat trying to untangle the triple buntline carrick bend double surgeon's clinch knot. Then I spent a few hours (or it felt like it) actually untying the triple buntline carrick bend double surgeon's clinch knot. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'

Triple buntline carrick bend double surgeon's clinch knot

As a result I only arrived at the start line just after the three minute signal for the first race and didn't have time to do all the things they tell you to do in the sailing books, like work out which was the favored side of the course and check out the start line bias and sail upwind for a while to check out the timing of the shifts and sail downwind for a while to check out how to play the waves.

Which is one reason I didn't do very well in the first race.

Or the second race.

Lesson #3: Buy a new sheet.

This sheet is old. This sheet is evil. Any sheet which will tie itself into a triple buntline carrick bend double surgeon's clinch knot deserves everything it has coming.

 I love the smell of burning sheets in the morning

Lesson #4. I am terrible at starts.

I really should concentrate on making 2016 the year I finally get around to working out how get better at starts.

After about 35 years of Laser sailing, it's about time. Seriously!

I could even blog about it.

Not me in not one of the starts on Sunday

Lesson #5. I did learn the lesson from Dave Perry about how it's better to overstand the starboard tack layline in a large fleet than to risk tacking below the layline.

Dave Perry

Well...... maybe I did overdo it a bit. Maybe I occasionally overstood too far. Maybe occasionally I hit the layline too far from the mark.

That's OK. I can gradually work on being more aggressive about when I hit the layline and when I tack. But at least I won't be having any more nightmares about not laying the mark.

Lesson #6.  Steve Cockerill is right.  Sailing a Laser downwind in 15 knots IS like dancing with Anne Widdecombe.

Dancing with The Right Honourable Anne Widdecombe

But that's OK. Dancing with Anne can be fun in a masochistic kind of way. Once you get the feel for how she's going to react to your moves (or not) it can even be sort of satisfying.

At least I didn't capsize on the downwind legs on Sunday like certain people did. You may have sailed in all kinds of fancy big boats but, in a Laser, The Right Honourable Anne Widdecombe can still trip you up.

Lesson #7. I am not bad at leeward mark roundings.


I did it like they tell you in the books.

In a crowd, I avoided getting trapped on the outside of the pinwheel and slowed down and rounded just behind the transom of the inside boat which sometimes gave me a good lane, and if not at least I had freedom to tack.


And one time I saw a huge crowd in front of me going for the right hand gate mark (looking downwind) so I threw in a gybe and went for the left-hand gate mark and had clear air coming out of the mark and passed at least half a dozen boats on that leg.

But see Lesson #8.

Lesson #8. In a crowded fleet you need to approach the finish line on the starboard tack layline for the favored end of the finish line.

What was I thinking?

In what anyone could see would be a crowded finish I approached the finish line on starboard tack but shy of the layline for the port end of the line. As a result I had to tack on to port just a length or two short of the finish line. And it was a bad tack and I ended up in irons. And as I drifted backwards and desperately tried to get out irons, about ten boats passed me. Ugly!

Bad tack

Lesson #9. If I don't make any stupid mistakes I can easily finish in the middle of this fleet.

Apart from sucking at starts and a tendency to do stupid stuff, I have reasonable boat speed. I can hold my own downwind and (thanks to all that extra weight I put on over Christmas) I can sail faster upwind than the bottom half of the fleet in these conditions.

In the third race I did finish about mid-fleet.

I should have a goal to do at least as well as this in every race by the end of the season, and better if I can get good starts.

A goal

Lesson #10. When you don't sail for 6 weeks (and don't do much exercise of any kind in those weeks and eat too much over Christmas) you lose a lot of your fitness and stamina.

Too much Christmas dinner

After three races I had had enough. I was hiking hard on every beat and my back was feeling it.

Better to quit early than have another of those back problems which can put me out of sailing for many weeks.

Lesson #11. Sail against the best.

One of the lessons in Nick Craig's book, Helming To Win, is to "sail against the best." His advice is to "sail in fleets where the standard is high and above your own." Sailing against better sailors than yourself will sharpen you up. Observing and talking to top sailors is a great way to learn.

Sailing with Fleet 413 certainly qualifies.

I think I'll take a nap now.

Monday, February 01, 2016

What Was God Thinking When She Made Australia?

You will never look at Australia the same way again.

From Amazing Maps @amazingmap on Twitter.