Thursday, 28 February 2008

The King is dead, long live the err..Queen!

So Rohan has retired?. Thats a shame if its true, but I can understand it, its hard keeping all this up. The Worlds wont be the same for sure with Rohan absent, it will be like Take That without Robbie, or Pop Idol without Simon Cowell...and I'll miss the racing.

Anyway we had some great battles! I am genuinely sorry he wont be there. I always thought I'd be first to leave. We get on a lot better than most people think. Yes, on the race course he is a loaded pistol with a ruthless streak.. but dont let that put you off because away from it all he's a big softy who loves piƱ a coladas, hot tubbing and being caught in the rain...and he's done a hell of a lot for the Moth class. I'm sure he'll be back.

Anyway some breaking news! The Veal dynasty is not over yet! I can exclusively reveal that younger sister, Susan Veal is set to take up the mantle! A magnanimous gesture by Rohan means the fastest Bladerider could be in female hands for 08, and spectacularly also the "Miss September" slot in my new "Babes on Foils Calendar" is now taken! I only need to find another eleven more.. and I hoping dinner tonight will secure Ms March! Its all for charity of course..

But what does this mean? Well importantly it means Ray and Gayle will have to commit to coming to the next few worlds! Please dont you two retire as well! Where on earth will Adam and I get our early morning cup of English Breakfast tea?

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

The Beat Of A Different Drum

I was thinking about martyrs the other day, and the rewards they are seemingly promised. I read its 72 virgins and fifty thousand USD? Really? Is that true? If it was me I'd have some questions straight off. Firstly does Allah choose the virgins or can I have a say too? Anyway what the hell, can't I just swap the lot for 5 good hookers? And while we are at it, and with the weak dollar, can I be paid in Euro's please?

It's good to have questions. I like them a lot and I was asking myself some on the way back from Parkstone open meeting the other day after a mediocre performance.
Specifically I was asking myself if the sacifice was worth the return. What I mean is I've taken some time off, I'm training hard and I have no idea if all this will pay off and I havent met one virgin yet, but admittedly that's hard at Hayling Island.

And the ultimate reward? a world title? Do I really need that? I've won it already..

And while I was thinking about this a car pulled up next to me, the window slowly lowered and a guy with a beard fixed me straight in the eye and said.. "There is a coffee cup on the roof of your car".

And fuck me there was! and I was in amazed! This coffee cup had been on the roof for about 6 miles. I dont very often get "signs" but I've always expected one, and in the absence of any other, this was one alright.

Anyway I took the coffee cup off the roof and without anywhere else to put it I stuck it between my knees.

What kind of a God puts a coffee cup on the roof of your car? And in fact why?... Well here is my deduction. It was to remind me of what so distracted me that in the minute from purchasing the coffee to getting in the car I had completely forgotten about it. Well actually at that time I was thinking of making a phone call and canning the whole thing.

Now this is where you are expecting me to say that the coffee cup was "half full" which it was, and not "half empty", blah blah...

Actually I accidently dropped my mobile phone in it. The sign made perfect sense to me.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

The Right Stuff

Moth Pilot Gary Ireson salutes a senior officer at Parkstone Open Meeting.

Really good to see everyone again after all this time, and to welcome new faces too! But shit the water was cold. and that may have been the problem. On the first day of Parkstone open I kept crashing the boat, which was ironic as the previous week I'd crashed the car. I'm not flying next week by the way.

Anyway it was the wand guv I swear! The new one I'd made which kept tripping both foils. I've never had the main foil vent before but I can assure you it does if the wand is bent under the boat, about ten inches in front of it. I left the wand I used in Australia in err..Australia. And cold water makes matters worse.

Jason Belben sailed really well to get two bullets on the first day, Mike Lennon and Adam May were also up there. I ponced around in fourth, then third with a drunken boat.

That night I undertook some wand tank testing, in my bath. I learnt mainly that a bath isn't long enough to tank test in, but I made a new wand anyway.

Sunday was better, I led around the last mark of the first race that day only to throw it away by getting the lay line to the finish wrong, possible a product of not having raced since August last year. Possibly also by being a stupid twat. Anyway the next race and I got into the lead again but Jason and I split gybes downwind on the last run (which was stupid of me, you never leave your wing man) .. and he got it.

Race 3 I won.

Jason deservedly won overall, he's been training and it shows. I got second, Adam May was third, Gary Ireson was fourth, Mike Lennon was fifth, or Tim Boon was. Special mention to Gary and Tim who both led a race at some point in their new boats.

Now I've got the boat which arrived in its box and upside down on friday I need to sail. You can go to the gym all you like but nothing beats time on the water... and judging by this weekend, I need it.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Your call is important to us

I love you all.
Margi, I adore you! You called me "My Love" when I needed a digital hug most...
And Anna the Supervisor, well you rock babe. It was like speed dating.. on email.
Sonya, work on "that customer is king" thought. You and I could have really made it. You just made me feel second best..
And Michelle "Look I'm On OK... so calm down or I might just tell you what you can do with your fucking boat.." Well I love you too.. and sorry I mentioned that Eve should never have eaten the Apple. Before our time right? Also sorry about the water retention joke....
But most of all I love Michael, because he found my boat. Granted it was being used to support a wing tip on an Airbus wheel change but it's found nevertheless. And if all goes well, I may get it tomorrow and Cinderella may go to the ball this weekend.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Spank the monkey!

On of the funniest things I ever heard happened to a mate of mine a long time ago. Growing up in Birmingham when we were all so far from the sea (we'll call him) Ian woke up one morning with not much to do.. So he thought he'd idle away the time with a spot of gentle dreaming, specifically gentle dreaming of Raquel "Planet of the Apes"

Clamping his head phones on to cut out the noise and with his eyes tightly shut he err.. vigorously enjoyed his moment of fantasy, and when all was done he opened his eyes...... and was horrified to find that a steaming hot cup of tea had been quietly placed on his bedside his mother.

Imagine coming down to breakfast..

I'm not sure what makes me , after all these years, think of Ian when I ponder the split handicap which is seemingly suggested as OK in the moth class .. Its a bit embarrasing really. I just feel every other class will be looking at us and thinking "wankers"

I like Bladeriders, they are well designed and good boats, right now they offer a lot. But sooner or later we are going to have to stop putting up with the wacking off shitty and insulting marketing and say "grow up" if you want to be part of this family.

Just my own may disagree.

Anyway I'll ask the Moth sailors at Hayling Island who sail a BR design because a racing committe member just cc'd me on this email exchange..

Original email
The RYA have announced that the 2008 numbers will be available from 29th February which is Friday week. I'll grab them as soon as I can so we should have updated numbers for the Opening Race if you want to use them.

Thanks. It will be interesting to see what they come up with!
Apparantly, the bladerider x8 and foiling moth may have different numbers!

And I'll forward the original if anyone doubts the above.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Race Relations

I see from Rohan's blog that in Australia the "Blade Rider X8" and the "Foiler Moth" have been given two separate handicap numbers by Yachting Victoria. This almost celebratory post doesn't explain why this has happened, but I see there is a footnote on the Yachting Victoria PDF that the Bladerider X8 is a new class and more results are needed. A new class? Really? I'd stretch to a new new colour combination perhaps...but thats it.

But why is it a new class? Are sailors requesting it? Have the race committee defined it as a new class based on their understanding of the marketing? Or was it just an administrative fuck up.. Hhmm let me guess.

Discrimitation rarely gets rave reviews and even if it was just an innocent accident, and that is perfectly possible, it still needs to be stamped out.

As an example.. Do we really want two young sailors from say WA, who, keen to start a fleet buy a Blade Rider and a Prowler, and subsequently are not able to start together because Yachting Victoria's handicapping is currently Australia's most credible statistic where Moths are concerned?
Hell they might not even be able to share the same part of the dinghy park... How pig stupid.

And speaking of animals, I've often thought that if animals became aware of their strength they wouldnt get whipped quite so much, and to borrow from Dr Martin Luther King, "our nettlesome task is to discover how to organise our selves into a compelling power".

So recognise you are sailing a moth, be savvy enough to see through any devisive marketing tactics, do what you want with your boat, modify it, change it, and take all the stupid names off it, apart from the moth symbol.

Because if you dont guys, your gonna have a hell of a job convincing the race committe that you shouldn't start behind me at the next big pursuit race.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Don't ride faster than your angel can fly..

Adam has just sent me this sequence of shots taken some years ago now by his mum at Weymouth. It's my first boat "Shoulder Angel" and must be the fastest low ride thru foil to pitchpole in history. I do remember it hurt! Note the ventilating rudder.

It was good to see Mike Lennon out again today, he's putting a lot of time in and I think that in the UK we will have a very competitive fleet. It's going to be a great year for the class and in reality I think that there will be very little separating the top British and Australian sailors this year. Except of course they have cute sisters.

Anyway what a stunning day again. I reckon if Carlsburg did winters this would be it.

My boat is now in Singapore, and I'm excited about its arrival. Maybe I'll make the open next weekend, although I might be a little unprepared.. But today I've made a new wand! I've thought laterally about it and after a little research I made it out of wood, specifically Holly - with a phoenix feather core...apparently its the best combination for warding off black wizards..

Thursday, 14 February 2008

A traveller from an Antique Land

She beat me in the gym again yesterday, although it was closer this time, and as we rowed I tried, through rythmic arm movements, to read her tattoo in the mirror. I think it was supposed to say "Anarchy" but I'm pretty sure it actually said "Anchovies". An unfortunate spelling mistake, especially in that position.

I may stop going to the gym now. I've decided that fitness is about body, mind and spirit and like always, if I'm not in the right frame of mind, it doesnt matter if I can bench press a Harley Davidson, I'll still loose races. And equally if I am in the right frame of mind, it doesnt matter how fit I am, because I wont notice, and I'll be OK.

So on a stunning February afternoon and sitting on a bench overlooking Emsworth harbour I found myself thinking about the English Romantic Poets, specifically Percy Shelley, whom I've always liked. In 1819 and at the age of 28 he'd tragically lost two of his family somewhat inexplicably in the process of moving house, and he sailed a boat called Don Juan.

Anyway Percy decided he wanted to see what a storm was like, and so the next time one came rolling into the Bay of Naples he did something about it. Seizing the keys to his vespa, he shoved a White Snake cassette into his walkman and headed down to the beach. He took the cover off, rigged his KA, pulled on a wetsuit, and i foiled out into the wine dark sea. And waited.

Anyway he died. The twat.

And I think thats OK. It was his decision, and possibly he didnt mind.. Anyway you dont get called a "romantic" for no reason, and I suspect he'd have just been an English Poet if he'd come back saying "that was good, has anyone got a spare contol rod?"

I read about the author David Vann's boat which I think looks quite good and has a hint of Phillippe Starck in its design. Granted it's more kettle than boat but good luck to him. Yet he's taken a lot of stick from the various "Abominable No Men" on Sailing Anchovies with a particulary unpleasant paragraph which needlessly mentions but seemingly relates the personal tragedies of his father and cousin to David's chances of success.

So It was very nice to discover this morning a very well pitched article, observant but not critcial by US based ex WAG Lia Ditton on David, entitled Metal Head . It captures his magic. Good luck to him, and mate if you want to borrow a White Snake cassette, I've got em all.

Dont worry, the boat will be here soon. Stick with me, I'll get back to writing about sailing shortly..

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Fit boys and fly girls

My God, when will it stop? I'm beginning to hate it. I'll never make it to July. The constant running, the weights, those silly pills that make you smell of fish...but most of all I hate the rowing machine. This is because an ageing burnt out bulk carrier of a granny, who immediately lights up outside, can pull 2500 meters quicker than me. I've never liked rowing machines, I always get off feeling slightly depressed and resentful that after all that hard work, I'm still in the same place..

Unlike moth sailing.. I've been sailing these boats since before the Dead Sea had ever thought of calling in sick and back then for me, a "vegetable capsule" was a spring roll from the Chinese take away, not "Borage Oil". Warming up was "up, one two.. then the other sock..." and rehydrating was a couple of pints of London Pride between races. ... And the UK class president was a dog, called Spot.

Wonderful then that there are some signs that things havent changed too much. I see Scott Babbage has just chinned his personal trainer, Rohan has been throwing up over most of Victoria, (I remember doing that after a '94 prize giving..) and Doug Culnane still has his period hair do, maintained courtesy of the electric shocks he's getting from his sink. John Claridge, who according to the trophy sitting in my living room, won the European Championships in 1975 is back having bought Tim Boon's old boat, and this year Colin Newman will be superceded by Pete Conway, the designer of the Womble, as the most ancient foiler - although this is academic as they are both over 1000 years old.

And all the new guys too! I can't wait to meet some of the new sailors from Eastern Europe and the Baltics, Southern Europe and America (and others) who I'm sure will do great and in there own way will bring something to the class, further enriching our fabric. I'm looking forward to new languages, different food and.. err.. firearms at each big event from now on . Anyway everyone is welcome to come over early and train with us before the worlds at Weymouth.

But surely the greatest opportunity for the class is to develop a womans fleet. It's a perfect boat and I could see the Womans International Moth World Champion being as highly sort after as the mens tag in a few years. Everything fits ladies! You are probably the right size, if you can dance you can foil and the boat fits in your handbag! Seriously, where are all the good female sailors? If you dont turn up we'll have to give it to Rohan again.

I attach a wonderful picture of Marie-Claude Faroux, not just womens World Champion, but outright International Moth World Champion in 1968. Whadda babe.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

The Path to Enlightenment

Its been a funny weekend, I met a guy at a bike meet on saturday who told me that he's discovered the path to enlightenment. It's apparently just off the A23 north of Brighton. Specifically it seems it's a footpath to enlightenment which is where he stopped for a pee. And there, with his dick in his hand, he witnessed human and cosmic evolution. I guess Michael Hutchence did the same..briefly.

The Daily Sail have seemingly also discovered enlightenment, and presumably through the same process, as they have described Graham Vials as "The UK's present top foiling Moth sailor" and "The strongest World Championship contender in the ever developing Moth class", in an otherwise excellent article. This is presumably because Graham won the Tiger Trophy, a handicap race on a lake near the middle of England, famous for the quality of its fly fishing.

This is similar to predicting that I will win the Formula 1 world title because I once had a Scalextric set.

Now, I suspect that Graham could do very well but I'm afraid winning pursuit races doesnt make you top. Being National Champion makes you top, winning races, even one, at International level is a good sign too. So, to be respectful, the top UK moth sailor officially is Jason Belben, current National Champion. Of course there are a few other guys too.. and I suspect that internationally, Rohan Veal, once he's finished procreating, might be worth a sentence..

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Motorcycle Diary

You shouldnt pay attention to dreams, trends, or doommongers, you should forget about anything in your life that is preceded by the suffix "ex". And there is no better place to understand that than when you are launched on a fast motorcycle, heading south, with a thousand yard stare and a manic desire not to slow down because ironically you have time to think, everything becomes clearer and simple, somehow its OK. The post is coming home boys, screw the Union, we we wupped 'em again Josse.

You can think about relationships, races, jobs and at under 130mph they matter, but above that? We'll fuck em all. This is mans greatest expression of freedom and if it takes me further and further away well great. I'm with you Che. We were built to go fast, a part from the fat ones.

Until the tank bag comes open and the startled bloke in his smug fat I'm alright jack and stuff the rest of you BMW is wearing my boxers round his ariel.

Shit, I was only out to buy a schackle and go to the gym. And I only wanted the shackle because I missed my boat.

Its hard not having a boat, mines in transit which means it'll get mistaken for some white goods in Singapore, holiday briefly in Dubai, it will ironically be there for the race that I have decided not to do because I wanted to get on with practising. It will be delayed in the UK because they dont have a truck with a forklift on the back and a call centre in Delhi wont believe me that the volumetric weight is complete rubbish , it doesnt really weigh 400kg, its just in a box, and me and the club secretary can lift it off one handed.

But it'll be worth the wait, because a Moth is a waterborne motorcycle in a nautical Moto GP and you can achieve all the same sensations that you get on a fast bike and the crashes hurt somewhat less. You don't, unfortunately, get the personal attention of a lycra clad babe carrying an unbrella, although I may suggest that for the worlds. Top 10 only though. You dont get many pretty girls in Weymouh.

I'm doing a talk at the London Dinghy Exhibition (1st/2nd March) on foiling. Christ, if you read this you'll know how little I like actually talking about sailing so prepare for an element of dullness. To manage expectations I may start with the Keynsian theory of cyclical recession that everyone is talking us into...

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Handicap Racing

On a scorching day in May 2007 I knelt beside my Prowler staring at a glassy sea. Sweat dripped off my chin and landed in the sand, vanishing immediately. I felt defeated and lonely and for the first time since I was very young I brought my hands together and prayed. I looked up at the perfect sky, and unable to contain myself I shouted "Oh why God? Why Now? Oh Why?"

"Oh Simon get a grip said a familiar voice, it's only a fun race and the sea breeze will come another day.. Why dont you take the kids out instead"

To explain. For years I had singlehandedly and skilfully "managed" my handicap at Hayling Island Sailing Club. I'd nearly won.. and sure I'd taken out some smaller races, but mainly I'd always "capsized" or "run aground" when (by coincidence) winning wasn't on the cards. Adam May will remember the time that I hit the mud so hard when I came off the foils on a tack that I fell out the boat and it stayed there, upright, like a large white flag while I scrabbled around covered in shit looking like a Guantanamo Bay protest. Well all part of the plan my friend...

You see, for a while I'd been lining up The Big One. The Excellent Glynn Charles pursuit race held each year in May, where lots of money is raised and goes to the John Merricks trust, and the prizes are awesome! I've had my eye on that Neilson holiday for two for a while now... and thanks to no wind, when everything else was right, I'd missed out last year.

And all that hard work has gone up in smoke. Why? Because Graham Vials and Jason Belben have thoughtlessly put a nail in the coffin that is the Moth handicap with a couple of recent race wins..and all they got was a bottle of wine and a mug! I'm appalled.. Yet my hopes were slightly raised when Queen Mary SC threw Graham out, but the message obviously didnt get through to Rutland, or Northampton.... I would have taken you with me Commodore.

Anyway bollocks to handicap racing. I can now only see it working if we all have individual handicaps contained on a data chip, inserted that day at registration with hypodermic needle into the upper arm.

Until then I'll go to Keil Week instead and race my own kind. The Germans do quite a few things well, among them making cars, marching and puttingwordstogethertomakeverylongsentences, but they also run excellent yacht races.

You get good prizes there too


Friday, 1 February 2008

Jet lag

Back in the UK now, at home and mildly jet lagged. On the plane my usual one G&T plus six hours sleep turned into six G&T's and one hours sleep on account of a good discussion I had with a very funny Irishman. He called a spade a spade alright, or more accurately an overbearing Dutchman a twat.

Which reminded me that one thing I noticed in Australia was the very descriptive nature in which everything is named. The hardware store that was called "Hammers and Nails" and the Dress shop that was called err.."Dress shop" and the Off licence called "Bottle shop" Even a friggin' Sparrow is called a "White Browed, Black Winged Wren" or something like that. Anyway literal and fairly easy to understand eh? Leaves you in no doubt what your getting.

So imagine my disappointment when I left this pub without so much as a wink. I may call the trade descriptions people, clearly a breach of the 1968 Act. I certainly didnt tip.

In a desperate bid to stay awake I was thinking about the 08 Worlds at Weymouth. I was thinking who would be the guys to watch.. and frankly gave up, I dont know many of the new guys and my bet is that the usual suspects will be joined by three or four others at the head of the fleet with the second tier swelling massively. I guess we are going to have to watch that bear away at the windward mark eh? Be on your guard boys, with closing speeds of 30 knots we'll be having big collisions soon if we are not all careful and respectful.

There are some things you will still be able to count on though. It'll rain.