Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Dragon boats

2009 is the year of the Dragon. That's great, because the year I was born was also the year of the Dragon, it all fits and it's another sign... I've always kept a look out for signs and I still regret not following that eagle in Garda. Anyway my horoscope says that I will prosper at work and in love. It also tells me to keep my head down.

Didn't mention the race course though, although that could be work, and keeping my head down might be gybing. You never know.

Anyway I'm at the McConaghy factory in Zhuhai working on three little Dragons. The quality of these machines is great and the team here are professional and really nice people, a couple of French, several Australians, a Brit, but the majority of course are Chinese. All the Chinese employees have Western names which is odd and I don't see any reason too, I can pronounce their real names fine.

And so by way of respect, I have given Andrew and myself Chinese names. I have not been flippant and thought hard about it. At 76 kilo's Amac gets "Chin to phat! and after the i-phone incident I get "Wai u dim"

It's great to be at McConaghy's, not only to finally see and touch the boats but to meet the people who are making them. The atmosphere here is good, long hours have already been worked and what Andrew, Mark and the team here have already achieved is remarkable. We have a way to go, the midnight oil is being burned and we arrived home so late last night that even the late night restaurants were shut. Dinner came from a Chinese version of "Iceland" which may be a bad example, because like the country, I think they too have gone into receivership, but you get my drift.

Anyway I chose my dinner because it had Jackie Chan on the front. Bad idea. All I can say is that man has a very unfortunate diet and those things have one use only.

I had my first "cosmetic dither" today. I knew this would happen as I've always liked great looking boats and appreciated good design, but I saw the tapered booms... And I'm sorry, but things that beautiful shouldn't be on a boat. I may try to get a second hand one and keep the good one for my wall.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Stoned henge

Mid winter has always been a time to celebrate around the world. Centuries before the arrival of a man called Jesus, this was in fact a Pagan festival.

Europeans celebrated light and dark, and as most of the cattle had been slaughtered, this was the only time of year when there was fresh meat. In Scandinavia fathers and sons would bring home logs, which often would burn for twelve days, each spark delivering the promise of a new pig. In Germany people were so scared of the pagan God Oden, who they believed flew silently amongst them at night, deciding who would live and who would die, that they chose to stay in side.

So Jesus's timing was good that's all. He gate crashed a ready made party.

And how its changed... My little town of Emsworth, where earlier that day I'd shopped at the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker looked like Sin City last night. Things were broken. Puss and dried booze stained the pavement and the air was a mix of cheap aftershave and cigarette smoke. Pink skinned fully fuelled semi naked girls walked vagina first from pub to pub.

Tomorrow I will sail in an empty Chichester harbour. Bugger the sales and the cold, I'm going to pull off a few gybes and get back into it. After a tough 08 I'm looking forward to doing well in 09, but in order to perform at the Australian Nationals I'll have to forget I've been in a winter for several months. I'll have to fly like Oden.

On Friday I go to China. But tonight.. I'm going into Emsworth..

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

All my life, watching America

Until I saw this stupid stupid woman exhibiting all the ingredients of the US foreign policy

Rachel Maddow

You need to put up with the Boeing "We know why we are here..." (Yawn) ad for a few seconds.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

All I want for Christmas is you.

This is McCongaghy's China Director Mark Evans and the team holding a couple of Mach 2's and some bits.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

The older you get, the better you get, unless you are a banana.

1988 was quite a year for me. My all time sporting hero Ayrton Senna won the Formula 1 World Drivers Championship for the first time, Flo Jo mesmerised me on the track, and in Calgary Eddie the Eagle didn't so much as soar as plummet from a great height, as if he actually was a short sighted plasterer from Cheltenham.

I remember when Senna died. I heard in a café when I had just finished a yacht race to France ("Oui, Un Café au Late, err no milk please") and on hearing the news drank a crate of beer and nearly missed England on the way home. Flo Jo's tragically short life was over almost as quickly as her races but, and here's some news, Eddie the eagle is in fact still working as plasterer in Cheltenham.

Anyway all this was a very long time ago.

But in 1988 Jason Belben was competing in the Olympics. Charlie McKee won Bronze and Ossie Stewart and I were 470 tune up there. And had a great holiday watching.

I guess the point is, we are all still competing, in Moths. And doing OK.

I don't know why it is. Charlie for example should be spending his old age in the Golden State where sunshine is guaranteed to the masses, all dogs have therapists and looks are so important that women are not allowed to drive in house coats or without make up.

Yet he's just won SIRS and I note that as we get faster the average age is going through the roof. Sure you can argue that having a higher disposable income at this age means you can afford the boat, but that's no barrier, be creative and put a kidney on eBay.

There are other reasons, lots of them. From the desire to speed up evolution and fly a few million cheeky years before God intended to having something to grasp on to as you teeter unexpectedly between love and madness. But these days, and especially if you're a banker, its probably more fun and in fact easier than trying to cheat a polygraph test.

But for some, in this world of rules, run by abominable "No" men, this is the only place to still let it rip.

Anyway any conclusion? Not really, except I was thinking about all this as I stood today with Mike Lennon waiting for the rain to stop and the wind to rise to just a tenth of the 55 knots it was earlier. It didn't and as I waited I reflected at the futility of my day. Why wasn't I in that little bar in London with a tall drink and even longer legs for company... My conclusion? Well I'm still keener on winning than err.. women, and well you do have to try, and I figure that in order to get to what's at the end of the rainbow, you have to put up with a little rain first ;-)

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

If you find that you're falling behind, keep me in mind, sweetheart.

Bournemouth airport has never been "International". Its only ever been used by Englishman and people from the Channel Islands. It always made me laugh when I drove past and saw the fairly recently added "International" sign. It's like the terms "Liquid Gas", "Jumbo Shrimp" and "Known Secret". It just doesnt work somehow..

But then I went there the other day and it was like the Outlander Club in Star Wars. There were people carrying donkeys, women on leads and people wearing tents. And all this in Dorset, where my Gran used to live. But I think it's perfectly acceptable. This country has always been about change, A constantly diluted mix of an early Italian/French/German/Anglo recipe. I think that's very good as I'm really French, and all the true Anglo Saxons I know have a pronounced forehead and non matching eyes. Best to be avoided actually. Mainly they are on tills.

And the early core ingredients of the Moth class, that of an Anglo Australian monopoly has just seen such a change. The Americans arrived in New South Wales in the same way that Norman the Conqueror arrived over here with a massive three out of four in the Sydney International Regatta and one in the eye for you mate. The Australians must be distraught. Scott sailed well but by all accounts a limping crab would have been quicker to the leeward mark, John Harris didn't fire on all cylinders until the last two races, and most of the rest simply retired. Alot.

Of course this isn't the real thing and they still inexplicably don't have their best sailor sailing, but we'll see, times may warrant it. Maverick finally re engaged when all his mates were getting shot down.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Chinese New Year

On the 28th December Amac and I arrive in Zhuhai to oversee the finishing of our two boats. Will then sail in the Australian National Championships starting on the 20th January in Geelong near Melbourne.

That means New Year in Zhuhai! Ha, that's a first and I'm looking forward to it.

But maybe I might drag Amac to Wanchai that night, where we can party like rockstars, and we'll get into night clubs because I'll tell everyone I'm with Keith Richards.

Hopefully we will leave on the 6th January for Melbourne and a few days training before the event. Amacs boat is called "Black Betty" and mine is called..err "Maid in China"

Monday, 24 November 2008


When it came to a free upgrade I chose the Apple i-phone. Bora and George Peet convinced me at the US Nationals that they were an essential tool for the job. How else can you keep the world aware of your results and still get porn in your tent at night?

Anway mine came and I was very pleased. It didnt leave my hand all day, and when it dawned on me that I hadn't yet eaten lunch, I raced into the kitchen and grabbed a baking potato and headed towards the microwave. Immediately the land line rang, and not wanting to miss this call, and with no hands free courtesy of the potato/i-phone combination, I banged the door of the microwave shut and gave it some beans.

Racing downstairs I reached the call just in time, and whilst listening very patiently to the customer, I looked down.

I was horrified to see that in my other hand I was still holding the potato.

Bugger the customer, I raced upstairs and found...

My i-phone in the microwave..

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Back to the future

I've always loved old boats and our recent family purchase still has me mesmerised. I sailed "Callisto" single handed saturday and slowly drifted back in time.. At 26ft, wooden and 46 years old, she's an "owl and a pussy cat" kind of boat that has crossed oceans. But for me Chichester Harbour was enough and even without any pussycat, it was still a great adventure. I parked at East Head and ate my lunch. I didnt know how much anchor chain to use so I threw the lot out. I studied the map on the beautifully varnished table down stairs and wondered if this was how Charles Carruthers felt in "Riddle of the Sands". In fact its not so hard, and it seems sailing maps are remarkedly similar to land maps except they are missing an index, they measure depth instead of height and don't have "Little Chef's" marked on them..

But it was back to normal today and great to see SB3 World Champion Geoff Carveth doing OK in his new boat. Michael Lennnon's practice is paying off, and for the first time since the Tide Ride several weeks ago I took my other old boat out. I felt pretty good once I got into it, the extra kilo's seemed to help and a couple of fully foiling tacks had me thinking about the Australian nationals. But the water here is cold, both foils ventillated, my feet were like ice, and the mainsheet took the skin off my hands..

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Left wing take over

This is an image of the Mach 2 port wing and shroud attachment. The level of detailing on this boat will differentiate it from others. Better clear a space in your living room, the garage just wont do. It's art mate.

The new Mach 2 website will go live next week. The url will appear here.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Holding back the years

It was in another time, a time so long ago that I'm reminded that its a shame they still haven't yet found a cure yet for the common birthday. This was my Magum six and it was called "Featherlight".

Christ! The last time I saw legs like that, they were on a nest.

That was 22 years ago and this was this year that the space shuttle exploded, the Cold War was coming to an end, "Top Gun" came out, and "Broken wings" by Mr Mister was top of the charts

This was this year, We played the "Top Gun" sound track at the Worlds and I still whistle "Broken Wings" when I sail.

"And learn to fly again
learn to live so free"

And in another 22 years? What will the Mothosphere look like then?

I just hope that by then, there isn't a minor trophy named after me.. Or a bench. Please, no bench.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Friday, 24 October 2008

The Best in the World

Times change. In 1967 the King of Thailand sailed a Moth.

Nowadays the king is over 80, which by present trends still doesn't rule him out of a worlds race win, but their ex president Thaksin Shinawatra does own Manchester City Football Club, and actually if he did sail a Moth, he might not have had a warrant issued for his arrest. Moths are expensive but buying a football club is no mean feat and does tend to attract a bit of attention, and upon closer inspection the Thai authorities found he'd won the state lottery.

What are the odds on that? Y'know especially with him being President and all....

But who was the best? When you've won its easier to look back, and its immediately apparant that you can't be Thai. You need either to be British or Australian.

Sorry my European cousins and American brothers, but if you want to be World Champion you need to change nationality. And that's not easy because to be British you have to queue at Calais for 6 months and enter the country clutching the rear axel of a lorry, or if you're a wizard and aware of our sexual health problems and can make the spell "Chlamidia clearupo" work, then you're in bro.

Or in the case of Australia, either float off their shore line for weeks on end until the rest of the world plead you plight, or turn up at the airport with muddy shoes, In which case they cant get you in quick enough. To clean 'em.

Well I've looked back, and I've gotta say I reckon its David Izatt. Three titles back to back is unbeatable, but then again I think it might be Mark Thorpe..

But look again and Jean Pierre Roggo from Switzerland also won three times in the 1960's and as I'm writing this its perhaps a coincidence that the Swiss Moth Open Cup, sponsored by Alinghi is on this weekend. So maybe a Swiss sailor will be the first to break the Bulldog/kangaroo strangle hold?

How's that for an early worlds prediction?

Nature is enough

Here is an image of the Mach 2 rudder horizontal foil. Its a little difficult to see but its shaped like the open wings of an Albatross. The wings go forward from the root and then back towards the tip. This is largely to prevent any cold water ventilation on the rudder (which itself is angled forwards) from propagating onto the horizontal foil.

This is a recent picture of the mould being made...

Monday, 20 October 2008

Stealth Play

On Sunday morning Simon Hiscocks was visibly distraught when a call from home told him he'd forgotten to gybe, and had hit Africa.

So many people are playing the Virtual Volvo race game that it seems to me that the actual and real race is all but insignificant.

I'm not playing it because if I do, I know I'll do nothing else.

But it does account for why most of the fleet were late getting to the start of the fourth race of the RS600FF national championships at Hayling Island on Sunday, where I was race officer.

Now I have tried to make a habit of being such a bad race officer that I was never invited back. The advice once given to me by a friends father has never left me.

That was: "To make such a hash of the washing up, that you will never be allowed back in the kitchen". It was a signal to me that this was worth considering as his elderly wife immediately replied to him "In that case Tony, I should never have let you back in the bedroom"

Anyway Sam Pascoe won easily and made the RS600FF look a very good boat indeed, freed from the criticism of the "balcony one design" who think they know about foiling, but don't. In fact even I couldn't mess up the racing and the only thing I was left wondering was why its called an "RS" at all, given the complete absence of that company.

Mark Robinson came to stay the other night and we speculated how we too could use the Volvo Ocean race "Stealth Play" function in the Moth class. This is where each boat can activate a 12 hour "black out", which saw the boys on Green Dragon invisibly head west and subsequently take the lead.

The best we could come up with is that, upon a sound signal, everyone but the stealth play boat has to shut their eyes for 20 seconds.

That should do it.

Talking of which someone must have been doing the same when local boy Alex Thompson's Hugo Boss was holed by a French fishing boat at 02.30 in the morning on the way to the Vendee start. Really bad luck and it seems there's always a price to pay for fashion, and having a black boat and black sails has, I suspect, not helped.

I hope they get it fixed.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Doing it right when no one is looking

This image is of the mould for one side of the Mach 2 front foil. You can see the main wing and the flap. Actually the word flap is interesting, and out of all the words in the dictionary has it probably has the greatest number of meanings. As an acronym it can also stand for Foreign Language Assistance Programme, and as a word it can mean a "flat usually thin piece attached at one side only"

Both of the above you might become familiar with if you loose yours on foreign soil. Yet if you look closely at the mould you will see something reassuring.. Can you guess?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008


Photo courtesy of Tania Samus. More Tide Ride photo's are here www.photoblink.co.uk

Monday, 6 October 2008

The Mothmen are coming

Taken by my mate Chris Bashall at the Tide Ride yesterday...

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Treading on passionate ground

This is my Gerbera. I always buy 'em because they remind me of when I see flowers growing through cracks in concrete, its so fucking brave. Think of that when you next weed your drive way.

The Tide Ride this weekend was my last event this year and I was looking forward to it, because after a week of highs and lows, where I first understood and then did not, I was ready for some air.

And in it came, moving at over thirty knots actually, and that battered the south coast so hard that it looked once again to have messed up a Moth event.

Y'know I think it really is me... I'm jinxed, and with this in mind, the next time I decide to do a worlds campaign, I'll let you know.

So you can go and buy a windsurfer.

But nothing was stopping me going foiling on Saturday and even though our racing was cancelled I did indeed get some air. Of both kinds

Today the wind eased and we had four great races and the Moths were the biggest fleet at 23 boats. My, how times change and we were the bell of the ball amongst the Int 14's, RS800's, Musto Skiffs, 29ers, B14s and Laser 4000's

With short course racing in front of a packed club balcony I won with three 1st's and a 2nd, Jason Belben came second and Adam May third. I was quick and my boat handling was better than anyone else's, I knew if I hadn't lost touch at the first mark, I'd win.

And I won £150 in Holt vouchers and a Magic Marine bag. Not so bad.

We must do more of that kind of racing.

A huge thank you to Katherine for helping me with the fastest cam change on record just before race one today,

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Weight Loss

My Prowler Zero is now up for sale. I guess this weekends Tide Ride competition will be my last event in it. We won the Nationals together this year and I'm genuinely sorry to let it go. The Worlds didn't go our way but Neptune, the God of the sea had a hangover and it was tough for us all, in fact Neptune is also the eighth planet from the sun, and that's where I came.

Anyway the boat is wonderfully built and strong as hell and I am in debt to Advance Composites Group for the help they gave us in making it, also to John Ilett for once again delivering to a standard all others are measured.

If anyone wants a special little boat let me know. And make it quick, so I don't cry.

And that will give me time to do all the things your supposed to do when you aren't sailing, but this weekend, in the lightest of breezes, I ghosted around on foils leaving the other boys dead. A special feeling in my own little world where normal sailing rules don't apply, you do what feels right, even if you have to go back the way you came, gybe upwind and sail against the tide.

2006, when I won the worlds, seems a long time ago now, but I still want to win again, and this year has been tough, I was more disappointed in the worlds as an experience and organiser than my position but actually that is the worst Moth result I've ever had.

But I read in the paper today that Britain had been waiting 48 years to win an Olympic gold in women's swimming, which for me proves two things, firstly if you try hard enough, and are patient enough, it'll come again. And secondly women really do take a very long time to get ready...

Friday, 26 September 2008

It's the real thing...

The Mach 2 story as a press release which is going to on and off line media today.

The hot news is that Australian boat builder McConaghy has teamed up with Moth design guru and owner of KA Sail Andrew McDougall to produce a new foiler Moth at their China facility. McConaghy who built the V70 Green Dragon for Ian Walkers team and have recently put the new Alfa Romeo 3 on a ship bound for Europe are no strangers to Moths having built over 200 hulls. McConaghy and McDougall have always had a meeting of minds and it is rumoured that when they we’re free and clear of other obligations they decided to pursue the next generation moth together forming a new joint venture company.

Mark Evans McConaghy Production Director says “Moths have always been in the blood of this company. The Moth was one of the first boats built by founder John McConaghy back in the early 60’s and coincidentally his second Moth creation was called the Mach II. The Moth has been key to McConaghy pushing the boundaries of development and it is this history that has formed McConaghy’s corporate culture of design / build excellence. Starting with a blank sheet of paper and developing the ultimate Moth with Andrew McDougall gives us a level of control over the final project that is necessary for us to build the definitive Moth. The Moth is an exciting boat and pushes the limits from a development perspective, it’s creating new markets and we wanted to be part of it!”

Andrew McDougall saw the opportunity, “I’ve learned a lot about foils, sails and Moths and grew to understand how to make them faster, we wanted to make the Mach 2 capable of winning the world championships straight out of the box, yet easier to sail than any other Moth. Working with Mark has been a breath of fresh air and I’m really happy with the result!”

McConaghy and McDougall envisage customer boats being built at the rate of several a week from January and perhaps a sign of how important this project is to them both, is they have committed to a two boat testing programme with McDougall and Simon Payne, ex Moth World Champion and the man who’s been brought in to handle global sales and marketing, signing the boats off by competing in the Australian titles in Geelong in January.

“We’ve had an unprecedented demand” says Payne who has been using his own website www.sipayne.blogspot.com to release information about the boat and although the joint venture is keeping the lid on some aspects of the project it’s rumoured that more than 20 boats have already been sold, with many of the top moth sailors already in the queue.

The Mach 2 is alleged to have a hull weight around 8.5kgs, a dreadnought bow like an “A” class cat and McDougall’s second generation foils tested by America's cup designer Jim Bungener, using state of the art computational fluid dynamics.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Weekend Warriors

Easterly breezes are always the ones where you set the fastest times in Chichester Harbour but by any standards one hour dead to the Nab tower and back is pretty good. Mike Lennon and I reached there and back in a cloudless sky, scooting along at 17 knots ish. Easy relaxed sailing in my boat but the enormous mainsheet loads on Mike's boat nearly crippled him!.

Anyway the tower is large and as I gybed around it I..err.. hit a yacht coming the other way! I ask you! That far out and the only the second thing I've hit all year, the first being Graham Vials.

And then back to club racing where Mike nailed the beat so well I was convinced he was gone and the race was over. Slowly slowly I pulled him back and a wind shift sealed it for me.

And then I made for the beach, but on this Indian summers day two girls and a boy wanted a ride. We two up foil gybed in front of the club and my Prowler was rock solid despite having at times, 130 kilos in the boat.

All the wand work has paid off and I feel really quick right now, you cant set Prowlers up like a BR and its taken me a bit of time to figure that out.

There are 20 Moths entered for the Tide Ride. That's the next event for me and given that you are allowed to pump and hit things, on recent form I should be OK!

Friday, 19 September 2008

The Vietnamese River Cobbler

I was in a perky mood when I left the gym last night, for no other reason than I felt better than I thought I would after a long hard workout. And the rowing machine does give me time to think, which I did.

I thought amongst other things about next year and doing things differently, for I would no longer be sailing a Prowler, but a new Mach 2. This decision is largely driven by the fact that another finishing line is out there somewhere for me to cross.

Yet any change, no matter how positive, often involves some form of loss and I was pondering this when I pulled up at Tesco's hoping to find a nice steak for dinner.

And as I walked the same way I've always walked around the store to fill the same basket with the same stuff, to get the same result, it occurred to me to stop, and do things differently.... And this thought thrilled me.

And so I walked the wrong way round the store and bought all sorts of things I'd never seen before, like a flat screen TV, and a Vietnamese River Cobbler, which replaced the steak, and was OK for fish that had traveled thousands of miles dead and was farmed in a sewer. Still I tried.

But when things are important, really important, you need to think harder and make more informed decisions.

The above picture is from Gaussian Curvature Graph software that is one of many tools we use to get the final shape of the Mach 2 foils as perfect as possible. This means the molds are as near as dammit perfect. Straight from the milling machine.

And this excites me greatly. That’s because I know the second most there is to know about the Mach 2 and whilst a milling machine may replace a hand faired hull and (just like the terracotta army) there will be lots of Mach 2's made, I do like character and there is more human element in this boat than any other moth project. Ever.

Sometimes you have to try things new, especially when there is another finishing line out there..

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Normal service.

My little boat flew yesterday in a harbour that strangley sparkled from a big yellow orb that hung in the sky. It was a late summers day and a breeze gently blew. After the worlds conditons I'd made so many changes that I didnt know where I was, and I'd gone round the houses to get any real gain. Yet I've changed my way of thinking recently and I'm going to optimise where I'm good and not compromise that in order to minimise where I'm vulnerable. That just breeds mediocrity, which you saw.

So yesterday with a wand paddle shaped after a discussion with Bora, I had great ride height and no ventillation. Up she came like a lift and I could sit on the back wing bar downwind and the boat stayed under control.

Against Mike I was ballistic up and down, but these were my conditions..Finally everthing felt just right. This AM I am writing it all down.

Geoff Carveth, who has won more titles than there are grains of sand on the beach, sailed Mike's boat yesterday, and in a dying wind, did a great job. Another convert. If anyone has a Prowler or BR for sail, he wants a good second hand boat within the next two weeks. Post on this site or contact Geoff if you can help..That will be boat number 10 at Hayling Island Sailing Club

The Tide Ride is on the 4th and 5th of October. Dont forget to enter this week!!

Friday, 12 September 2008

I Know You Got Soul

I woke up last night at 4.00am, I couldn't sleep so I got up and built myself a new wand. Then I went back to bed and when the real morning turned up, I thought my wand making had been a dream. But it was on the kitchen table when I went down to breakfast.. That was a nice surprise, especially in the marine industry.

I've been doing a lot of wand testing recently with Mike Lennon, he has more wands than Hermione Granger, but all my best ones have fallen off, or in half.

Yet I'm not sure I'm going any faster. I may have lost my settings because I've changed so much stuff and I acknowledge that I’ve never been good at cataloguing things. To this end I privately wish that Amac would put a "Save As" button on the new Mach 2 because that would help.

You don't really know this boat yet, but I hope you get to. Yet falling in love again can be difficult especially if you’ve been burned a couple of times before. Relationships are funny things and occasionally they disappoint us, even when we are at our most eager, or willing to be impressed.

I remember Rolf Harris telling me to "bugger off" when I asked for his autograph at the age of six...I still liked his show, but not him..

But with this boat, like it or not, you have no choice but to get bit of us, the designer, the builder and err..me. People are working hard, really hard, and whilst undeniably the boat will be fast, it will have a soul too.

And it’s good looking! Its nose is hidden because we can't show you that bit yet, but check out the wing bars, which are moulded to a shape which will make hiking out more comfortable. And they float.

I've read many comments on the blogs about this and other projects, And If I had a magic wand and not a carbon one I'd make them all succeed. But I don't, let’s just hope that all this competition brings out not only the best in products, but the best in people too.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Hello Boys!

"Hello Boys" was the slogan for the Wonder Bra. An invention that promised to have the same effect on a girls pulling power as feeding a guy ten pints of lager.

It was essentially a vice, created in lingerie, that squeezed an extra 10% from every type of clevage. They sold by the truck load.

So my apologises to DB Apparel, the company that owns the Wonder Bra brand, and a company for whom I nearly worked, I shouldn't have nicked their tag line. but when I saw the Mach 2 "little black dress" image above. Nothing else came to mind.

Price for complete boat is $17,475 USD ex tax, duty and delivery

Thursday, 4 September 2008

It takes a village to raise a child

I've been sailing moths for so long that, as someone once pointed out, I sold my first boat to Noah. Boats have changed, designers, sailors and builders have come and gone, but one thing that has remained consistent is the great culture we have. It was something that Major Tony Hibbert mentioned at the World Championship prize giving. People really care about the health of the class and I'd like to thank you all for the comments and emails you continue to send with regard to the Mach 2 project. I'm not going to post them, that's only because some of you talk at some length about your less than happy experiences in purchasing new moths.. But the good thing is that you tell us in no uncertain terms how it should be done. I respect that. We are listening. But dont pre judge.

Line drawing of the hull. Do you like it?

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Hidden Dragon

At this years worlds Andrew McDougall was a very fast man. After a starting strategy that could best be summarised as "no, no after you.." he proceeded to sail through the fleet. He came past me and probably also you, pointing so high he quite literally split the wind in two. He was going very very fast indeed.

And now I can go that fast, and so can you. Because soon you will be able to buy the new "Mach 2". It's the latest International Moth design by Andrew McDougall, and it's marketed by me.

It’s built to be the fastest thing around, its next year’s boat in terms of design and also delivery. It won’t be available until January 09 but two boats will sail in the Australian Nationals at Geelong, and already hundreds of hours have been worked. This machine is being built right now.

So whats it like? Its less weight and more aerodynamic for starters, the foil design will, on their own, take boat speed to the next level and it's as sexy as a girl in a little black dress.

Yet its also available, it’s built by McConaghy. And if looks could kill, it probably will, it really is going to be as hot as the centre of the earth.

Pic is of the main foil in simulated flow test.

This design exists to win the world championships, yet the production intent is that every boat we build can win straight out of the box, and does not need any of the tweaks that other designs require... and with a finish that means you will be just as happy parking it in the driveway, as sailing it, I believe you will enjoy owning this boat.

But we also recognize you are buying more than just a boat, its an ownership experience and a relationship with us that frankly should be enjoyable, and starts when you click on the yet to be made website, send an enquiry, or just read this.

It’s on sale now. Want to know more?

More details here. simonpaynegbr@btinternet.com

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

You Send Me Flying

A while back we were reading articles about how the Beijing smog was going to damage athletes health. Some poor lambs were even considering not competing, in case they got a spot. Yet now a week after the event I read there were 32 world records broken. This is surprising. You would imagine the athletes to be slower, and less strong, but the opposite is seemingly the case. It is clear to my mind that there was an additive in the air, and I can relate to this. Whenever I go to a place with nice clean fresh air, I fall asleep.

So to me it's clear that nature needs a helping hand. It doesn't always get it right, if it did we wouldn't have 350 different kinds of parrot, and nipples on men. Anyway let's see what the human body can do. I'd love to see the first posthumously awarded gold medal as someone streaked over the finishing line in 6 seconds, and then.. exploded. Hell that's television.

I have now started a small business importing Beijing Air into the UK. A couple of sucks before the off and a swig of "Beijing swimming pool water" (25 of those records were set in the pool) and you'll be all set for next years worlds. And you'll need to be, because, over there the air is so sweet, clean and pure, you'll fall asleep.

And so to 2012 where we will attempt to host "the best games ever". And where China had smog and err...weed, we have the shit weather and frankly the shit country to deal with. And as one TV critic speculated, forget 500 choriographed dancers, the best way to reflect the culture of the country would be to get a pissed up Amy Winehouse to throw her fag into the Olympic torch.. Then we'll all go for a curry...

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Mothing America

Most of the time I want to get the hell out of Dodge, especially after sailing events, but this time no, and when as usual I checked the time of my departing flight, I was suddenly disappointed that I'd booked one that was so immediate. I guess this is the effect that the Gorge has, a place I would go to even if I didn't sail.

I came second, Bora won. He was very fast and has definitely made a step change from his worlds performance. I am in debt to Tom Driscoll for lending me his Prowler, it takes a while to get boats up to speed and one day just wasn't enough, and my lack of prep showed, as did my lack of err..watch. But together though we pushed the boundaries... Little did Tom know, but visitor and Buddhaesque like Jeff (shape, not anything spiritual) set us off developing in a desperate bid to look busy... and with the direct approval of Jim from Alinghi and the Walmart supply chain behind us we really did make Americans lives better. Brits too..The centre of Moth development is shifting to Dago now folks.

But Moths are a wily temptress and already I'm looking forward to the Worlds, and below is my guide to an event that you really should do.

On travel
American Airlines can get you there for a shade over 700 quid from Europe. You might get it cheaper if you book earlier and I changed at Dallas. You meet people on flights, I sat next to a Texan woman who'd been on a trip to Europe to meditate. You can tell she'd been quiet for a long time because she wouldn't stop yapping. She had a self help book and gave 10% of her salary to the church. She told me not to pre judge people which is fair enough, but she soon loosened up and after a couple of G&T's we were discussing the perfect female figure.

The Dallas Portland leg had me sat next to a girl called Tracy who I suspected was highly opinionated and this turned out to be true. Anyway total flight time 13 hours.

You get from Portland to Cascade Locks in 45 minutes. Ex Hawaii five 0 sailor Ian Andrewes picked me up. Great guy and new friend.

On "Off the water"

At first glance Cascade Locks is small, but I soon learnt that this wasn't bad, and actually this was one Amercian town that was not particularly silicon enhanced. Its safe too, you can leave your wallet on the beach and go sailing, it'll be there when you get back. No one locks their cars, but this is probably because you have to be over 7ft tall to nick 'em.

People running the stores are nice, the food is great. I put on two kilos in one week. There are two petrol stations, two places to eat breakfast. Some nice beer in the bar/pizza place, a general store that sells everything and a couple of motels. Truck drivers just.. well wave to you as they go by in a "hey fella" kind of way, which, if they did that in Europe, would have me running like hell, listening for the sound of the air brakes.

Up the road you have the bigger town of Hood River and over the Columbia river Stevenson, presumably named after someones first name.. The scenery is fantastic and humbling, even the best sailor is only the tallest pygmy, against the magnificent wilderness of the area.

On the Water
The water is warm. The wind generally strong yet sometimes light. Importantly the windward mark will be just off the beach in a so close kind of way that you'll be able to tell which way he (or she?) has dressed that morning. Anyway you get my drift.
Talking of which, there's current. Beats don't take long, sheet in, whistle three bars of "Oregon my Oregon" and your on the lay line.

On the shore

The launch area isn't big but it is either grass, sand or shale, so its kinder to boats than say Weymouth, which was like launching on a belt sander. Its suited to moths and when a bit of weed sometimes gets hooked on the boat, it's easy to clear and is the type of stuff you see in a fish tank, not the Sargasso sea. At the Worlds the car park will be the boat park so there will be room.

For refreshments there is a Cascade Locks visitors centre 100 meters away where basic stuff is sold by a lovely old lady with an ever present cup of coffee. She ain't that fast though and with up to 100 sailors at the worlds there might be a bottle neck here...I'd solve this by simply and unknowingly moving her over to decaff and, with a day to go to the worlds, switch her to double expresso. You can get more out of old people that way.

There is camping in the park but a train track is close by, I didn't camp but if you do you can cure the jetlagg by counting the wagons as they go buy. My record was 120.

When we came a shore there was free beer and always free water throughout the day. We had high temperatures. 100 degrees in a wetsuit is hot, and despite drinking like a camel, when you do pee, all you get is a drip and a puff of steam. Normally its in the 80's though.

Mothing America

You could not hope to meet a better set of guys, and if you know your stuff, you will have heard of most of them from great success in other areas of the sailing arena. Anyway the class is growing fast and the US is surely the biggest market. The west coast guys are taking on the responsibility of organising the Worlds seriously, people have roles, everyone is helping out. I'm sure the will deliver a great event and I for one will be there.

Thanks again to everyone who made my short stay so nice. It feels natural to sail Moths on the Gorge and forget those war stories you may have been told. The windsurfing with the really strong breeze is in another place. and when the Oregon state insect is a butterfly, there can't be a better fit can there?

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Mora Bora!

Its Bora's show here, super fast and consumate sailing means this popular guy will win.
Yesterday was champagne sailing, six races (yes six) in perfect conditons that could never be described as windy and the racing was great. We raced Z and windward leeward courses.
In the evening friends, kids, sisters and brothers took the boats out for a spin in the dying wind. It's a nice atmosphere and I'm really warming to this place.
I'm lying in second, just ahead of the chasing pack.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Pony Express

Bora Gulari won all three races yesterday. With ease actually. Excellent boat speed plus great sailing meant he was unchallenged. He deserved to win.

I'm tied on second with George Peat and Morgan Larsen. I think Charlie McKee is just behind us.

Today is apparently a "switch" day where the wind should come from the other direction, now the current should be taking us up wind. It's going to be 103 degrees, the water is warm, the scenery spectacular and the sailing great. Last night we chilled out at Mark Mendelblatts house, another top US sailors talking about getting a moth.

Six races today, all short sprints which should be fun. Right now there is no wind but I'm sure there will be later!

Friday, 15 August 2008

Who's gun is this?

This vehicle was sitting outside the pizza place last night. What you can't see is the sub machine gun mounted on the roof and written on the magazine case was "Big Mac, For Iraq" Now I ask you to balance the paradox of this vehicle, licenced and taxed, and me being pulled up in Dallas airport because, when asked about the long slim package I was carrying, the way my English accent pronounced "Boom" to the southern ear apparently sounded like "bomb"... Okay a small misunderstanding but soon sorted out, indeed the woman with the rubber gloves was surprisingly gentle.

Yet running around in the mid west is this perky little bren gun.

This is one of the reasons I like the USA. Another is a hidden but definately real sense of self depreciation which no one talks about but I know is there. I know this because the grandly named "Bridge of the Gods", which spans the Gorge, is about the same size as a foot bridge in Ross on Wye.

Yesterday we sailed and it blew! In the middle of the day we had to tie the boats to trees. It must have hit 30knots, but the water was warm and little beats burning around in fast boats with your mates. In the afternoon we did slalom courses set by Rohan Veal, now part time race officer. At the end of the day it was lighter and the breeze turned off around six, which is about the same time everyone goes to bed.

Today I dont know if it's windy or not but it's forecast to be over 100 degrees and I would imagine that might have some effect on this katabatic place.

Day one, and the first North American Foiler Moth titles begins!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Letter from Amercia

Cascade Locks is beautiful and errr... small. Think Garda beauty sans the cappucinos and the scale. It really is petite though and Chichester Harbour at full tide would dwarf it. This is in contrast to everything else in Amercia which is huge. Tom's Harley Davidson Ford truck is so tall that my ears popped when I eventually climbed into it.

The American Moth sailors are good guys and the fleet here deserves turbo charging and so this place will do for a worlds. It just aint that big. But beauty can come in small packages as I found out in up town Dallas the night before, a sharp contrast to my airport co users the next day, some so large they seemed a mutant spawn between a human being and a bouncy castle..

I sailed yesterday and it was great, warm fresh water and a lovely new Prowler. Earlier it was proper windy, several foils bust and one hull spilt..

Today we have a temperature warning, Plus 100 degrees are forecast for the next three days and the risk of bushfires is high. Importantly these high interior temps can kill the wind.. who knows what will happen. It's never like this around here.

More tomorrow, Gotta go, Its breakfast time and i dont know the answer to "how do you like your eggs?" My initial answer "fried please" didnt work. the answer will be on Google.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Pin ups

This is Tom Driscoll's new Prowler that I'll be sailing next week at the American titles at The Gorge. Its gorgeous and looks like a Pokémon. Anyway I have my passport and I'm all set, and so to practice for the 3 knot (upwind?) tide and the 20+ knots wind I was out today in my own boat trying the third (and best) iteration of my Amac style broke back wand. I've stiffened it a lot and it was very very good, but possibly now a little over engineered as, unconnected to the boat it is made of 4 components. Anyway it all part of my new resolve to find big boat speed improvements through development. I'm done with half a kilo here etc..

Today I rigged up and screamed around the harbour for a short time. I had trouble turning round (except gybing) but I was out and it was windy! Before the worlds I wouldn't have dreamt of going out in that wind (and still wont in February) but I will get faster in a breeze, even though I'm light.

So here's the front cover of Yachts and Yachting, One for the grandchildren and OMG I'm getting a double chin (and less importantly, seem not to have pulled the kicker on)

The best picture though was of "Skiff Man" himself Tom Whicher, "He ticks a lot of the super hero boxes, a macho yet slightly camp posture..."

These last two days I've been glued to the computer silently cheering on Team GBR in Qingdao. They are doing great, and I wished we'd had those conditions in Weymouth!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Riding liquid mountains

The text read "am at the club its blowing 25 we should be out" It was Mike Lennon and it was friday pm, Our worlds experience has hardened our resolve to go out in anything, so one hour later I too was rigging up, and we did go out. Briefly.

Mike broke his wand off and I snapped the becket of a high load bullet block clean in two.

On saturday the harbour was an awful place to sail. A 3 knot outgoing tide, and so much weed it looked like the nautical version of Glastonbury. So we decided to go outside..My idea which I'm prepared to say in hindsight, wasn't great..

Have you ever had that feeling that you are doing something that you shouldn't, but cant really stop? Well that's the feeling I had as we fired over Hayling bar with the wind against us and the tide under us. It was massive, but Moths are great upwind in waves, yet even so I was going through every third one...

When we were out there it was fantastic champagne sailing and I felt pretty good about the changes I'd made since the worlds, specifically more power on the kicker, back 2.5 holes on the rake and (biggest improvement) new wand and gearing.

But always in my mind was the "how the hell do we get home" feeling.

Anyway we tried. Downwind at first was great, and as it got rougher Mike sensibly made some changes to kill a little ride height. I didnt but only because I couldn't and as we got nearer, the waves got bigger. At one point I thought "were gonna make this" and it was truly awesome sailing, firing the boat down liquid himalayas, and I was pleased with how well the boat was coping, but then one of them was so large and so steep that the crash I had was comparible to throwing my boat off the roof of the sailing club with me in it. That new PBO cover is as aggressive as razor wire when you go past it at twenty knots, and just when you think that off wasn't soo bad, the boat lands on your head. And then as you struggle to right the boat the tide takes you back to where you started.

At one point I saw a helicopter and thought it might be for us..I made a mental note to paint my next boat rescue orange.

Eventually Mike, found a way around the bar, which meant going somewhere near Bognor Regis where the waves were more sailable. A bit beaten up, I followed...

When we got ashore I said to Mike "That was fun!"

"Fun!" he said, "I was bloody terrified"

So was I.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Striking the colours

Holding a passport allows UK citizens to exercise one of their fundamental rights, that of leaving and re entering the country. Getting one however is a crusade and that's because when its summer and holiday time, the fuckers at the passport office are on strike. No wonder people hide under the axles of trucks to get into the UK, they are probably just bloody tired of waiting..

Now some may argue that the right to join a trade union, and the right to strike, are as fundamental as free speech. If you don't have them, you're not an employee but a serf, and a society that outlaws strikes isn't free.

I think that's rubbish. It's well timed and meant to cause maximum disruption by blinkered selfish individuals too thick to realise that in time, this and other administrative services, are best outsourced to China.. Their actions are just speeding that process up, particularly as one of their complaints is that they don't think the service is efficient enough...

This means I may have to get to the US nationals in the wheel arch of a 747.

Anyway I've been experimenting with wands recently and the conclusion I've come to is that the standard BR one is probably the best. It's stiff and with a relatively high swing weight (new term) you don't need much elastic tension. Anyway the boat feels really good with it. I have tried an AMAC style "broke back" wand with a paddle which is good upwind but down it creates some drag which has a noticeable effect in the light winds we've had here. I think it will be great in a breeze but for now its off the boat mainly because it makes an incessant "chat,chat,chat" noise all the time and reminds me of an ex.

This pm I've promised the kids at the club that they can have a go in my boat. I've had to refuse a few, which isnt easy, one in particular just can't sail, but we should get a few new recruits down at Hayling Island and they should have fun.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

American Beauty

I keep learning. This week I've learned that you shouldn't cycle in flip flops and go to the loo when you've just cut chilli's. I've learned that our new prime minister is no leader and I've learned that importantly also, he's a twat.

But most of all I've learned never to say I will not sail again. Because I will.

After the worst worlds result I've ever had, after arguably the most effort, I was all set to pack up and head for the hills. Literally.

Ok the weather was a bit challenging in Weymouth, at our club you dont go out in that, because with three knots tides, you get mullered... But my speed! An asthematic ant with some rather heavy shopping would have gone into the wind quicker...

The only good bit about the worlds was all the nice people I met.

Anyway, I learned alot from Amac. We spent some time together after the event and I listened, which when you've won 1 worlds, 3 europeans and a couple of nationals in four years can be tougher than you think..Why? Because you arrogantly think you know it all and you dont.

So I'm pleased to say that with radically different boat settings I was delighted with my speed at err.. Mengham Regatta at the weekend. The boat really did feel great, and whilst drinking tea and eating cake after the race an elderly lady came up to me and politely asked what handicap I thought they should apply to my race time.. I winked and said "600 should do it", and promptly came .. third.

But I'm back at the gym and although I've replaced the rowing machine with pizza eating, cos I'm still 64 kgs, I'm in training again. That's because I'm going to sail in the American National Championships at The Gorge in Oregon this August!

Tom Driscoll has kindly lent me his new Prowler and I cant wait to meet all the American moth sailors, and see what this fabled and beautiful place is really like!

Monday, 21 July 2008

CST Masts and Booms

Just to let you know I have 3 CST 40mm high modulus carbon fibre masts in stock, and due in shortly 3 of the new CST high modulus carbon fibre booms as used by new World Champion, John Harris and the super fast runner up Andrew McDougall.

You really will feel the difference! If you are interested please do let me know.

Saturday, 19 July 2008


Anyone seen this on Sailing Anarchy? Should be a light wind event then..Incidently they managed to upset our volunteer press officer at our two day worlds which I think was poor form... She was just trying to keep the planet informed. We would have mentioned the US competitors anyhow boys, even if, like me, they didnt quite do as well as forecast. Manners maketh man no?

Talking of forecasts...

"The heavy air excitement continued on Day Two of the 2008 505 North American Championship held at Cascade Locks, Oregon. Being sailed in the Columbia River Gorge, this year's competition is being held as part of the Gorge Games. 33 boats have entered, and more than a few have suffered some wounding in the extreme conditions of The Gorge.

On Friday, the Columbia Gorge Racing Association veteran race committee fired the starting gun on three races held in breezes ranging from the low teens to mid-twenties and the usual Gorge two-foot chop. Racing began early in the morning as the RC aimed to pull off more starts before the breeze kicked up to nuclear. Courses were windward / leewards twice around and lasted roughly forty minutes apiece. Competitors were sent ashore following the third race at 1300 to wait for more manageable winds. However the thermal continued to develop and the RC had flags “N” over “A” flying by 1400. Racing was abandoned for the day.

The damage report for the day was a much shorter list than Thursday's: 1 broken mast, 1 damaged deck, and 1 torn mainsail. Following racing, a raffle was held with gear donated from the regatta sponsoring companies, Zhik, West Marine, Fisheries Supply, and Kam Gear"

Should eat lost of burgers lads... Oh you do.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The Oregon Trail

I was supposed to have a dream last night where I took off on my motorbike and had the greatest adventure, I re met someone, got married, and found gold. But the dream wasn't like that because I took off on a motorbike, and then got woken up.

It was Amac coming back from Germany...

When I went back to sleep I was travelling light and on my own, and somehow wound up in a sleezy gaff where drunk truck drivers watched dead eyed hookers flick flack down the bar. Guess not every dream turns out OK.

And that's what I did preparing for this worlds, travelling light and training on my own wasn't great, and possibly my biggest error. Sure things would have been different if the wind was, well, how I dreamt it would be, but it wasn't. Anyway I didnt have much choice. What the fuck, dry your eyes princess and harden up a bit.

My boat is good but I learnt too late about the importance of lift from the main foil on the works, knocking it back to stay in the water downwind is the equivalent of an upwind handbrake, and it needs better control to compete with the others with an aggresive angle of attack.

But I know what to do now.

Amac, who has been staying with me, sailed it the other day and has given me a wand.

Actually we've had fun...Except I cant find the masters trophy.

Do we live to fight another day? Sure...

Friday, 11 July 2008

Over and out

Congratulations to John Harris from Australia, the new 2008 International Moth World Champion. John made the most of both days of racing keeping his nerve to hold off the other 99 boats. He's a great guy and we have a worthy and popular champion!

Congratulations to Arnoud Psarofaghis from Switzerland who is the new European Champion, I'll have to find something else to put in that corner of the room now...

I finished 8th, never really got to grips with the conditions, but although I'm dissapointed, I met some excellent people.

So there you go, a journey over, a new one to begin.

Blown backwards

Lying eight after day one, or the peunltimate day, which ever way you care to think of it. Struggling a bit in the big winds but its good fun racing and it's just as windy today. John Harris and Andrew McDougal showing us how its done..

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Veerry Niicce

We are back in one fleet tomorrow! Finally we will have 100 boats on one line! Doubtful again for today but a good (by AGM standards) meeting, even if some of the guys in the crowd got a little creative with their laptops...

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Where there's life, there's hope..

And here there isnt...Did he do it deliberatley? I speculate he did. We took this photo in our house here this week. The insect eqivalent of throwing yourself in front of a train. Guess the fly knew what was coming. You can only take so many low pressures at a world championship.

Yes you guessed it, no racing today. 30 knots...again.

Monday, 7 July 2008

The Revenge of Gaia

Getting old waiting. From Left Bora Gulari, Scott Babbage, Matt Belcher, John Harris...

We lost day one yesterday, too extreme to sail, and today is looking terrible as well. We already have 40 knots in the harbour.

We may race later, but its not looking good and by way of an omen the they can't get the postponement flag down.. its stuck up the flag pole.

The outlook? Tuesday is by these new standards less angry yet still on the limit but just dont mention wednesday....

It's possible that this world championship could be decided over two days...

The top guys are bearing up with well though but Bora Gulari is walking round with a knife, John Harris has taken caffeine addiction to new heights and Andrew McDougall is making "beeping" sounds.

I feel OK, tired of being on standby but OK I guess.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

God's Fist

Yesterday we were battered, Hobie 16's skated through the dinghy park and anchored Moths strained at their leashes. Torrential rain brought zero visibility and the practice race was cancelled.

Shame, the only time we would have seen 100 foilers on one start line.

Today we are in fleets, red and yellow, 50 boats in each, and the World Championships start for real...In theory.

My fleet looks tough with John Harris, Bora Gulari and Andrew McDougall to race against, but so does the other with Scott Babbage, Matt Belcher and Arnaud Psarofaghis and Graham Vials...

But again the Armageddon conditions mean that the race office is putting all his hopes on a two hour weather window at 1400 hours. Hmmm..Its already 30 knots and we are on a postponement.

Rest of the week looks the same. Shit.

Last night, with 40 knots and the highest tide of the year Portland Race was awesome, smashing waves into the Brittany esque coast that had us in awe. We crept to the craggy edge and then bolted for a rock as all hell broke loose and waves with the power of God's fist smashed all around us.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Second Mouse

Am back home, a nice retreat after a few tough days. First and foremost to see my son's school play, which I made by the skin of my teeth, and also a welcome break and retreat from the Mothosphere that is Portland.

We've had breeze this training week and we are going to get more, perhaps too much to race...But these last few days the big guys have been showing their metal, and frankly its impressive.

But that was yesterday, the regatta hasn't even started yet, and when its medium I hold my own and when its light I am ballistic. Anyway I can't change my weight, I can only be the best version of myself and that's what I aim to be.

Maybe the wind will go down and the second mouse will get the cheese...Forecast have been wrong before..

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Portland Race

There is so much activity here, There are already 93 entries and whilst we still have seven days to go, there are Americans, Estonians, Australians, Swedish.. all out training.

I sailed too yesterday and it was breezy, 20 plus knots and although I didn't sail very well, this time last year at the worlds in Italy, I was swimming like hell trying to keep a broken boat off a cliff until they could get a rescue boat out.

So yesterday was a better start by any comparison in a breeze where a good tack is not flying but staying upright, and downwind speed is a function of how much bottle you've got, nothing else.

I like Portland, I like where we are staying in an idyllic little cottage that makes me calm and overlooks Portland race, a crash of tides that can sink freighters, and the place is so far south that my mobile phone temporarily lost reception before 02 Roaming welcomed me to France!

And even the graffiti is linked to the area. I noted that, as we drove up the hill someone had neatly arranged, in Portland stone, and with great care in two metre high letters, the C word

Jobs to do today, replace tramps, check worrying noises from mast heal and glue my special silver wish token to the boat.

Oh, and go a bit faster..

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Stay tuned

Yesterday was gorgeous and despite a mandate to practice tacking, I spied the Nab tower again as I launched, and so with it pretty much on the port lay line I passed the life boat station hoping I wouldn't need it. About a mile from the Nab I was amazed by the top heavy ships in the deep water channel and turned right to take a closer look.

And then, mindful that I wasn't supposed to be out joyriding, and in the absence of anything else to tune with I lined up against the Portsmouth to St Malo (France) ferry and had a really good race! Ferry's are pretty good to tune with because they always go a constant speed, which is similar to mine, and they have graduation marks, or port holes down the side so it's easy to calibrate any adjustment.

The down side is they dont stop to let you take a drink..

When I tacked away I could see the Nab under the boom, and it was about 45 minutes of scary fast danger sailing before I was home.

That was my last training session at Hayling Island before the worlds, I'll try to keep this blog up to date if I'm able. I've enjoyed writing it actually.


Monday, 23 June 2008


Only a couple of sailing days left before I go to Weymouth at the end of this week, but today was fantastic, out in the bay by myself again. I love that and I'll miss it.

Anyway I've got this far because of some special people who have supported me and believed in me since January.

A special thanks to Dr John Nixon of Advanced Composites Group who willingly set about educating me on the subject of composites (hard!) and then explained the materials his company would supply free of charge. Not only that, but ACG flew the 90 and 120 gram VTM264 material to Perth from the UK by refrigerated air transport. We saved weight and gained strength in the hull and foils. Thanks guys, I'm forever in your debt.

And to Clive Watts at CST Composites and Andrew McDougall at KA Sail, who together have provided me with a rig that I think is outstanding. I've done a lot of foiling and I can feeeeel the reduced drag from the 40mm mast.

And the new CST boom just doesn't bend under the kicker loads.

Also I'm not the first to say that the KA MSL13 is the best sail I've ever used. If you think I'm fast down wind, then look at the rig, and learn..

But most of all to John Illet of Fastacraft. John has built me a boat like no other. At the Nationals the other week, when I'd messed up the start and buggered up the first beat, I could almost hear the boat saying to me "OK you've had your go, now just sit there and hang on tight while I go and win this race"

Steve McQueen said in the motorcycle book "On Any Sunday" "Racing is everything, anything else is just waiting"

Right now I agree.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Mothers of invention

Well "boatwork" day turned into a plain old "workday" which admittedly was more fun, and I didn't do Wednesday night racing because the last time it blew that hard, with so little water in the harbour, I wound up flat on my back in six inches of silt after hitting a mud bank at full chat. That was only two weeks ago.

Anyway I'm feeling under pressure right now, and that's to do with sailing. In the twilight of my years in this class I'm acutely aware that I haven't actually invented anything! The short lived "cleat de payne" was superceded by an off the shelf Ronstan item that I didn't know existed and my early efforts at a wing mast were pathetic. Washing up bottles and electrical tape will only get you so far.

I did however have a consultancy role in the wide axle trolley.

And no manoeuvres either! My gybes are getting worse and I can barely foil tack, although my hit rate has gone up substantially since I read that Bora Gulari has redefined it, in that it is now OK for the hull to touch down as long as the foil is fully loaded. This lateral thinking I like very much and agree with whole heartedly.

But others are hard at it! Roger Angell's boat is fitted with servo's and an electronic sensor which replaces the wand, and this together with a variable dampening function, I think is fantastic. And before you jump, he doesn't care about the rules, and nor do I, they follow development, not the other way round.

And so imaging my relief when I came up with a significant development last night. You ready? Here you go. I'm moving the bung in my boat to the bottom of the transom.. so you don't have to turn the freakin thing upside down, then diagonal, then tilted... to get the bloody water out! Cool eh?

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Time at the bar

Nab tower, which I didnt get to... this time

I was going to sail to the Nab Tower today, its 6 miles directly south...Why? Because I find it easy just to sail about and not really achieve much, so I've decided I need a purpose each day. Today was supposed to be offshore day and I even had my camera to take some pictures. I like the Nab. I've been around it twice before in a Moth and it's size scares me. But the sea breeze blew at 20 odd knots and it was wind against tide and white water foamed over Hayling bar.

I made it over... but going upwind in breaking waves was hard work. And like a kid who'd escaped via the bedroom window, I felt elated.. but very quickly vulnerable. The boat was getting slammed about and despite having my mobile phone on board no one was coming to get me.

So after a couple of miles, I turned around..

And what a ride coming home! Just me, an angry sea and liquid cliffs to jump off. I made every one but Bloody Hell it was scary. I havent known it like that for a long time.

I was on such a hi when I got back to the beach I even scrawled something in the marble smooth wet sand, painted spice by the ebbing tide.

Anyway tomorrow is "Boatwork day" Oh good...

Monday, 16 June 2008

Gone with the wind

Blimey, its only 3 weeks until the Worlds, and as I'm there training for a week before hand I go at the end of next week! How time flies!

Anyway it will be good to get this event over and done, there are other things in life to get on with.

It was hard to push myself out onto the water yesterday, and as we waited for the wind, I could have watched it blow and still spent forever on the beach.

But when the sea breeze came in it was a great day out in the bay sailing with Tim Boon, Ricky Tagg and Jason Russell. To think that for 2 years I was the only foiler at Hayling Island and now there are eight, plus a couple of low riders. I feel happy about that.

Anyway we sailed upwind for ages, and then enjoyed the roller coaster ride that is the Hayling Bar. If anyone wants to improve down wind, that's the place to train and it's great to see the other guys making such big gains. Typically I make it home first and then think, "shit, are they OK?" and wind up sailing back out to make sure no one is in trouble, so I get to do it twice!

These next couple of weeks are about making sure the boat is OK, a typical weakness for me as I'm not very good with ropes and dont enjoy boat work. Everything is now measured, but the foils are dinged and bashed a bit with all the stuff I've hit in the water since January and they need some attention.

I'm not going to Keil Week, I've done that event too many times and I find it hard to leave Hayling Island these days, I only have to do it once more now anyway.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

A different drum

The government is running TV ads to educate people on how many units they should drink. These ads go something like this "Hello darling would you like a drink?" "Oh thanks honey I'll have a glass of two units please" It's big brother indoctrine devised by career minded politicans who can't find any other way to differentiate themselves now the Euro sausage debate is done. All parties are of course the same, and this shallow caring does nothing more than serve to remind people to emmigrate one day.

Bring back the House of Lords, where people were already rich, and despite being interbred, made decisions for reasons other than their own personal wealth. Anyway some physician, who was presumably an alcoholic, says you are supposed to only drink 8 units a week, which OK I'll go along with, but thats a bit vague...where's the small print? Can you save it up, not drink for a month, and then drink 32 units on saturday night? Is that OK darling? Tossers.

And with the country plummeting into recession, plus the fact that we didnt qualify for Euro 2008, there has in my opinion never been a better time to drink. Reality is such a tenuous thing and I advocate the less obvious benefits of smoking too. By my calculations smokers get about 2 1/2 weeks more holiday a year than people like me. Granted its taken in 15 minutes chunks, and most of that is hanging around outside by reception, but that's up to them, we cant all afford to travel.

But there are other benefits too. In stressful situations doctors advise us to leave our work stations, go for a walk and take a few deep breaths. Yes you got it folks. That's smoking! Anyone ever done a study of how many people are still alive because they smoke?

So it was great to smell pipe smoke wafting across the water at last weekends national championships, a Devon Yawl sailor, on the start line having a drag before its banned.

I sailed yesterday with Tim Boon, the sky was azzura blue and the sea was the same colour, it was heaven. And two fallen angels smoked across the harbour.

Please God dont let that ever be banned.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Carbon Fibre Express

Well I won.

With a race to spare actually, I scored a 1,1,(2),1,1,2. Didnt really feel like I'd sailed well but I suppose that's good as well as bad. An excellent regatta with lots for me to work on, including remembering how many laps I've done, and given that at Weston I was seven minutes late for the start, I wasn't that much nearer this weekend..

We had 34 boats at the UK National Championships which was great, and all but three were foilers. Results below, I'm off to the local Chinese to get dinner now... More tomorrow.

1st Me
2nd Jason Belben
3rd James Roche
4th Adam May
5th Mike Lennon

Full results here:


Image courtesy of Steve Arkley, Sailshots. More excellent photo's from the Nationals here

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Rising Son

Out training at the weekend with new MSL 13 and CST M351. (Note co pilot in boat)

It was a nice day and later Tim Boon and I zipped through the moored boats at East Head.

Apologies to the guy who's fishing rod suddenly disappeared out of his hands as I went past..You're right mate, sometimes I am.

We have the UK National Championships at Weymouth this weekend and I'm looking forward to it. Wish me luck!

note to self: Avoid the post this time..

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Aces High

I went to a vintage air display at Goodwood over the weekend. The WW1 planes were fantastic, all string and glue, bi and tri planes hardly moving, like flying venetian blinds. You could imaging the designer and the pilots trying to figure out how to control height and speed, take off and landing (sound familiar?)

And then with a roar that would make any yoghurt eating, sweater knitting liberal voting Health and Safety exec wring his hands in horror, a Spitfire screamed past. Christ what a machine! And the sight and the sound! I was utterly speachless, which doesnt happen very often.

It struck me that the '20's and '30's would have been a good time to live if you were a plane designer. Each design was a big jump, you made a difference, and you got to wear a silk scarf, (which I'm now seriously thinking of doing in the moth) And as a pilot you slept with a girl and she knew you'd be gone the next morning, sometimes literally.

But not now..cramming another passenger on to a flying bus headed for Spain is the goal and that's what most of dinghy sailing is too. It's become a one size fits all, overweight and over rule riddled flotilla with the attraction not of the product, but where the annual beach party is...It reminds me of how I choose which airline to fly. Its largely based on which movie I havent seen...

But not hydrofoiling, which is pushing the boundary's of performance in exactly the same way as the designers and aviators of yesteryear. The boats are changing all the time, its pure and true, nobody gives a fuck about the rules, of which there are only four..the media love it and we have our Aces. Its a great time to be alive if you are a foiler moth sailor.

Mike Lennon and I went out yesterday, it was windy, we gybed down from Itchenor putting on our own show, nautlical loop the loops.

Friday, 23 May 2008

The Aviator

It is such a secret place, the land of tears
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Photographic brilliance by Thierry Martinez

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Off form guides

Well it's good to see all the form guides in, interesting reading in a way but they all skate around the issue of how good the sailor is. Specifically they say things like "He's been sailing every day, has got the latest BR/Prowler etc etc so he'll be in the top ten. What each one has failed to do is comment on is the sailor himself.

I guess though this is respectful because we all know that questioning someones sailing ability is on par with suggesting they are not up to much in bed.

But a more complete assessment would be "He's been sailing every day, has got the latest BR/Prowler etc etc but he's an intellectual pigmy, wouldnt know a windshift if it smacked him in the teeth..

Anyway maybe next year, but a worlds preview/form guide is about to be published in the excellent Dinghy Sailing Magazine. I advise you to get it, keep it for you grandchildren. No other class gets this type of media coverage.

I spent yesterday out in the harbour. I must have done 100 tacks, I learned that footwear is important. Next event is the UK nationals, now that will be a good form guide.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Spaghetti Weston

Results Weston Open Meeting

1st Me 2,2,1,1,1,1,
2nd Graham Vials, 1,1,3,2,2,rtd
3rd James Roche, lots of thirds, the odd fourth (sorry forgot to pick up results sheet)
4th Alex Adams, lost of fourths, the odd third (as above)

wind +/- 50 degree shifts, 4-15 knots wind speed

Notes to self.

When the gun goes, your supposed to be on the line, not two boat tuning halfaway up the beat!

Buy two pairs of gloves, so if you loose one you dont get your hands cut to shreads

Dont get caught up with Portsmouth football fans and get drunk till midnight on saturday.

Never go to Weston again

What else? MSL13 is awesome, (should have used it both days) Graham Vials is very quick, very competitive.

The co op have stopped selling radox..

Friday, 16 May 2008

Soaring with Eagles

Funny to see all the form guides for the worlds, Its hard for me to do one as I dont know a lot of the people who are forecast to be at the top, I've just read about them, and I dont know what will happen anyway... and so I dont think about it. But its nice to be included as a contender, and perhaps I will be..

But that's only if I dont see an Eagle.

To explain, I saw one at the worlds last year at Garda. Now I know the meaning of seeing an Eagle because I grew up in the US, learning about American Indian folklore and fables of the mid west, like Pahute, the ghost horse who was the son of Blue Streak, and of course about Eagles. When you see an Eagle its a message from the Creator..

But I didnt just see an Eagle, it found me. Specifically half way up the last beat of the only race I won last year. It came from under my wing and flew, ten foot in front of the boat, same height, same direction, same speed as me..for a while.

Christ I've always expected a "sign" but with Scott Babagge breathing down my neck and doing 14 knots upwind..it caused me some confusion. Should I follow the Eagle. What if..?

Anyway I didnt, the lay line came up and I had to tack. But I will next time.

And now I feel sick. Imagine when I die, standing naked before God and he says "Simon I sent you a sign, and all you did was tack for the fucking layline!"

I'm not looking forward to that meeting actually.

But it's influenced the way I think about most things, I'll take my chances, no more "what if's"

And so having recently discovered about a thousand pounds missing out of my current account, the result of temporarily loosing my wallet in a restaurant in Italy whilst training the Swiss Moth team and (quite probably) the waitress booking a couple of first class airline tickets from Milan to Egypt as I ate, my first thoughts were to head for the bank, but I remembered the Eagle, so sod it I'm going, never been to Egypt anyway.

Excellent picture courtesy of Will Blair, Marketing Manager, Fat Face.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Signals to stop

The sand was so hot it burned my feet. And as the long fingers of a building sea breeze changed the colour of the sea, this was going to be the best sail ever.
If you blurred your eyes you were abroad, but this was Hayling Island in the spring time. My youngest son and I pointed our 40 year old Mirror Dinghy to East Head and sailed there with a bottle of water and a cookie each for lunch, and we got out in another land. We sang at the top of our voices "Dont stop me now" by Queen and he helmed all the way back while I said helpful things like "pull the tiller away from you" and other nonsense. Anyway it was perfect.

Hurry up and come July, this is my sailing future.

But last night it was back in the gym, this is a solitary life and the gym was all but empty. But as the rowing machine whirred I knew I was on for a good time, and for what its worth went top of the charts at 1000 and 2000 meters. But it was a weekend of perspective and as I gulped from the water fountain and so just managed to stay the right side of conciousness, a little girl smiled and laughed.

And today was great too, wondering around Notting Hill, a long lunch at a nice little restaurant on Portobello Rd and then just walked mainly. London in the sun is nice too. I needed these three days.

But for now there's a job to do. It's Weston Open this weekend, maybe some of the big guns will be there.

Saturday, 10 May 2008


Aiming at Thierry. Twenty plus knots and a err..broken control rod linkage. Note rudder out of the water, she's going side ways hard, and look at the bend in that main foil! No I didnt crash. Should've though!

Ooze baby ooze

Gybing at speed