Thursday, 27 March 2008

The wind tells me

I foiled in the soft westerly for an hour, then just made it to the shore by my fingernails, as the tide, responding to a tap on the shoulder from the moon, raced out again. That was close. Next stop would have been France.

But I didnt care because the sea was as blue as the sky, it was warmish and for the first time this year you didnt need three people to put the cover on. The harbour was quiet and sparkly. I sailed upwind with an old cutter, slim and elegant she had sails with a seam every six inches, healed the wrong way and split the wind in two. She was 100 years old and at the helm I could see a woman, and even from my modest height of 4ft above sea level, it was apparent she was beautiful.

We were the only boats out, history meets the future, and in that wind she was faster..and more wonderful. I asked if they'd like to swap, she said "maybe..." And I could have left the Moth class then and there.. Yet despite trying to keep up I stopped foiling sometimes, but the wind blew against my neck, telling me to move forward.

Except eventually the bleedin' tide ripped me away. I bet Napolean never had to disconnect the cable to try to keep up with Josephine..

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

The Ultimate Handicap

Despite a windy weekend I managed to get out twice, firstly on Sunday for a small practice but yesterday was much better. We had the RNLI pursuit race at Hayling Island and despite the three degree forecast we had 41 entries and three Moths, Tim Boon (Prowler), Mike Lennon (Blade Rider) and me. We started 5 minutes after the 14s, and as the breeze built to around 17 knots and just before the start I quickly dived back to the beach to reset the main foil angle, and with my recut and now the right size MSL9 the boat felt awesome. And so it proved. In the building breeze we were always going to do well, but I didnt expect to lap the International 14s.


The other two guys lapped them also. And the 14 sailors were some of the best in the world..

We were sailing off 677 which I think is "A" class cat speed yet 40 minutes into a 70 minute race I hit the lead... Admittedly the slow boats started in less wind but we worked out after that I'd have won it sailing off 400 (and that's fast) Anyway we took the top three places. I think we've burned our bridges (and everyone else's) for the Glynn Charles race coming up.

So as I left the club all the talk was about how you handicap a Moth? Anyone any ideas? We'll either win by miles or not be in the top 30. I dont really care too much actually, handicap racing is just fun, I just like proving how fast they go! And they are getting quicker and quicker every year, and other boats aren't. That's obvious.

Congratulations to Scott for winning the NSW states. It sounded an intense regatta with Garda esque waves and then no wind, and after the windy races success seemed to be down to who could disconnect their cable in the light to low ride well and then reconnect it in the gusts to foil ....Try finding a way to simulate that physical discipline in the gym!

Thursday, 20 March 2008


Too windy to sail a foiler Moth again today, it's OK for some of the everyday boats, but not a Moth. Yet I keep checking the forecast hoping we'll get a window to sail, which is silly, because my fence has just blown down.

And so like some sulking supermodel my boat sits there under the covers, beautiful, compelling, engaging and yet in some conditons, howl at the moon crazy.

Pretty similar to most of the women I've been out with actually, yet here I've now decided to be at the opposite end of the spectrum. I'm looking for a plain girl who can sew, make soup, and has big tits.

But there is one piece of exotica I can't wait to lay my hands on! My new 40mm dia high modulus mast from CST in Sydney. The windage gains should be large and the stiffness is the same, so I should go faster and that's good. I'll be collecting it from Carbonology in Woodbridge, Suffolk next week.

Scott won the first race of the NSW states in his new Fastacraft Prowler Zero, which is a great start... but they wont let him win overall, because he's part Italian ;-)

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Wind burn

Last week a woman on the radio told me that my skin may be exhibiting one of the five signs of ageing. This made me look in the mirror, and she was right.

Unfortunately she didnt mention my specific cause as I suppose the mass market dont regularly get mullered by 30 knot winds, which is what happened on Sunday.

Anyway I've done something about it, and now before the boat cover goes on I've already applied my new male moisturising chemical, which is supposed to reduce under eye swelling and improve my skins active defense system.

Perhaps I was expecting too much as the under eye swelling didnt go down, but admittedly that was a bruise, caused by the wing bar. Actually its impossible to tell if it makes any difference at all, because it makes you blind. It has alcohol and caffeine in it so I thought we'd be compatible, but not so. I may try another brand.

It started off quite OK as Mike Lennon and I launched into a cold northerly with the rest of the fast handicap fleet, and as I was waiting for the start, I even enjoyed the hilarious sight of Tim Boon trying to get his rig up on the beach (I've seen worse pole dancing at Spearmint Rhino) Anyway the breeze built and built, and at low tide, with Optimist, Cadet and 29er training going on, the harbour seemed a very small place.

**Note to Coaches** Before you blow your whistle and shout "Follow my leader" to fifty Optimists, who instantly drop into a 100 metre snake, look over your shoulder and check that a foiling moth isn't doing 25 knots towards you. I only got through because one of your kids dropped his tiller. Anyway I won by 15 minutes on the water, sailing off 677. A Musto Skiff was 5 minutes behind on corrected.

The Australian NSW state titles are on this weekend. I wish I was there, but the Australians have some peculiar rule that unless you can prove you are directly related to Ned Kelly, you cant compete.

So who will win? Scott Babbage in his new Prowler Zero must be favorite, second in the worlds and not as yet any wrinkles. Unlike Andrew McDougall who has loads, but quite possibly could win also. John Harris in his new BR will also be up there, also Luka Damic and Matt Belcher, who must be a top tip for the light stuff.

Cant wait to see the results!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Cooking on Gas

I've decided to type as I can't watch TV anymore, and with each channel showing a cooking programme, I wont let TV ruin my day. This afternoon I turned my collar to the cold and damp and carried my boat into the water. But it wasn't my water, the water I was used too, the water that has seals in it and I can catch my dinner at night. It was brown with peoples furniture in it and the beach was a different shape. We've had storms...and it was like Apocolypse Now.. but Charlie did surf.

I set a small course and went up and down for just an hour or so as I was worried about getting back in time before the changing rooms were locked, which they were, 15 minutes early. Apparently this happens at centres of excellence...

Anyway I hate cooking programmes. I know I'm a hypocrite but when half the world is starving, I take exception to some twat telling me he'll be personally offended if I buy frozen pastry. Can you imagine when he dies and has to stand there naked before God? (who we know was never a great cook, what with the bread and fish thing) and God will look down from his big desk, and say "What did you do with the life I gave you?" And before Jamie Furnley Shithead can answer.. he'll be squashed. Because God doesn't give a toss whether he eats frozen pastry either.

But there is one TV chef I liked, and she's not on any more, because she's dead. The first ever TV chef was Fanny Cradock.

Her husband Jonnie used to introduce the programme, saying something irrelevant about the bottle of wine he was holding, and then as she began to cook, he'd start to drink it, all of it.

Anyway Fanny would cook some pastry or cake and Jonnie would get more and more pissed. Then he used to end the programme, and hardly able to stand, he'd sign off by saying "Good night! And I hope your donuts taste like Fanny's"

And I used to laugh and me dad used to laugh too.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

KA Sail.. and me

Training with the KA MSL10B at Hayling Island February 2008

I'm really happy to say that I've become the KA Sail distributor for the UK for both Moth and windsurfing products! Ever since I came back to the Moth class I've used KA and I have a great respect for the unique designs of the sails, and whilst I know a lot about Moths, I'm learning quickly about the windsurfing market!

So I will holding a local stock of KA sails, including the MSL10B (for medium to breezier conditions) and also the new MSL13, which is due shortly..

And that's a sail I cant wait to get hold of! It's very sexy, with the heritage of the classic MSL9 and perfect for the light to medium conditons we may get at Weymouth.

So if you are interested in a new sail and want a quote, or advice. I'm your man!

Monday, 10 March 2008

Perfect Storm

Err.. That was a road..

Big southerly winds(80 knots) on the south coast plus spring tides and low pressure had me thinking it was probably a good job I sold that little house by the sea, fun though it was for while. Also I'm glad I brought the boat home last night, God knows what state the sailing club is in..

There's good news though, and its that I cant get to the gym, which is cut off. But there's bad news too. I saw them bailing out the pub this afternoon.

Anyway back to sailing and my MSL9 has been forced out of retirement, and as promised and despite no rule which forbids me to use it, I've had it cut down.

Yeah I know, I'm a saint.

A product of a different and now obsolete measuring system (err why did we change it again?) means one of the sexiest KA's is just a little too large.. But not anymore, and I'll be able to get under the boom now. I hope the rest of you follow my example.

Mind you it seems that for the foreseable future I'll finally be finding out how fast the 10B is in the winds it was designed for!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Snakes and Ladders

Start of the season today and Hayling Island Sailing Club ran an "Average lap" pursuit race to mark the occasion.

Tim Boon in my old boat led Mike Lennon in his Blade Rider and me in my Zero off the line but the three knot tide made life hard. Tim lost a lot in the middle of the course and Mike and I went round together. I had the MSL10B sail up which is the only sail I have that measures at the moment, its built for a breeze and I was just hanging on in this marginal stuff. It was real snakes and ladders but at one stage I pulled out to a leg ahead. On the last lap Mike went round the last leeward mark around 300 metres behind me and I tried to stay between him and the top of the course. Mistake!

I struggled to foil as Mike came in from the right corner and with the wind down to 6knots I understood the lay line and with Mike flying in, I had to put a quick tack in, but it wasnt a quick one and I capsized! Christ I havent done that in a while, and Mike and I went round together. As the wind died I fell off the foils and Mike snatched the win.

Anyway great racing, awkward conditions, I think I expected too much out of the 10B, but I'll have that sorted this week.

Excellent to have some really good competition at this time of the year. God knows how many races I've sailed as the only Moth.

Incidently we sailed off 677 and we finished one and two..

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Gawp ban

A man gets funny feelings when Spring is upon him, and I got one of those those feelings yesterday. Without really thinking about it I had an inescapable urge to be out on my motorbike.

But it's a dangerous business...It used to be BMW drivers who tried to kill you (more recently Audi's) resentful that in their little tin can, you were coming past...

But this is all part of being on a bike, and honestly there is a much more serious threat out there.. And accordingly to keep myself alive on my bike I have instigated a self imposed "Gawp Ban".

I've done this since a mate of mine was out on his, and under the protection of a black visor, he glanced left to look at a pretty girl. He woke up in hospital five hours later having glass pulled out of his arse. He'd ridden into the back of a Co-Op milk float.

Yes folks I'm afraid I blame girls, but in fairness it happens less and less because they are all so fat. And frankly I think its completely the fault of Dupont... because they invented Lycra.

You used to have to diet when you couldn't do your jeans up, but not anymore. Lycra says "I'll be any size you want me to be" and it turns perfectly healthy women into air bags, but I suppose I should be grateful, its saving my life...If not their's.

But this got me thinking, Half the singlehanded sailing world is on a diet at the moment so they can sail Moths. How about that? And we have our own "born agains" who last sailed a moth when it was made of wattle and daub. They all have a real reason to stay fit now. And so for health reasons we should ban any initiative which includes a sail area over 8sq metres. We are a sport that your doctor would approve of. Good eh?

Ha! Maybe soon will need "Gawp bans" too.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Cold Play

Christ it was cold when I got to the sailing club this morning. It was minus 2 when I left home and although the sun was out it hadn't warmed up much. Jason Belben turned up around 10.00am and 45 minutes later we were on the water. Its good to train with Jason, he's a pro and also sails a Prowler, anyway sail wise he was using a KA MSL12 and I had a KA MSL10B on. I'd quite forgotten what sailing in february is like, and as it turns out I'd also forgotten to put the front bung in. But then we had a good couple of hours in the harbour, making our own windward leeward course using the harbour bouys. We had a pit stop for lunch at around one (where I was so cold getting back into my sailing kit I put the lot on under a hot shower) and then we were off out into Hayling bay.

A perfect 12 knots meant some good tuning runs and some very good down wind work. At around 4pm we decided to come in. I was getting cold, Jason with a drysuit was doing better. On the way back I'd forgotten what the bar at the entrance to the harbour was like, and wind against tide meant standing waves and scary fast downwind sailing. We made it back OK after a great day on the water.

Funny, you can have all the innovations you like, but nothing, absolutely nothing beats these hard yards.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The Prince of Tides

I dont know about you, but I dont understand spread sheets, or boat design, which to me is about as interesting as internet dating. So I've got to be honest and say that I've always chosen my boat by how the they look. And by and large it works.

And as I walked around the London Dinghy Exhibition last weekend I began to fancy one boat in particular.

Every moth design looks different, that's the great thing about our development class, I love the above shot of my Prowler Zero, it's a handsome boat, but not subtle or particularly slim. My mum would like her, and yet from some angles she reminds me of the Battle of Britain.

The Bladerider is a looker alright, the wing bars are a work of art and should probably be in the Tate Modern, but there are so many around, and sorry sweet heart, its not you its me, I pulled your mate last week.

The new Velociraptor has "technical" written all over it, she's a beauty and born to perform yet from some angles I'm not completely sold. The need for speed has minimalised everything and that low cut snout and high forehead makes it look like a pissed off Frenchman ..

And then you see the Axiom, and it stops you dead! I'm not joking by saying I think this is the best looking moth ever produced. From the back she's just right, all the curves, a minimal waste and wing bars that cross the boat at 90 degrees like the leather ties on a 2005 Prada techno dress.

And with this Mike Cooke created the Kiera Knightly of boat design, and then he did something strange.

He stuck Barbara Streisands nose on it.

And I think its bloody brilliant! It looks like a Roman Emperor who's just been scooped up by a chariot. It looks angry, it looks agressive and I can hear it saying "you can stuff your spread sheets up your arse"

And then there's the foils, what possessed Mike to turn up the corners in such a fine arc as that I've no idea, again I know bugger all about boat design but I do know that Aladdin had tuned up shoes, and by God they worked for him.

And so if he gets it in the right hands and it wins some races I think it will sell and sell well, just like Streisand and her albums like "The Prince of Tides" .

In fact only Elvis and the Beetles sold more.

Carbon Dating

Well at the risk of almost every other thing in my life I still find myself heading out there, although today I'm hesitating because its 20 knots and 3.1 degrees.

Yesterday I didn't sail either, too windy again...

So in a more traditonal blogging style here's what I've been up to.

Last wednesday I did an interview with the Daily Sail. The new boat looked great and it was good to see an excellent article on line friday and even more publicity for the class. Toby is a good photographer and got my best side. Ooze baby ooze.

Last weekend I did a talk at the London Dinghy Exhibition both days. The subjest was Hydrofoiling, there were a lot of people present and with only a vague understanding of what I was talking about, I was mildly nervous, but its amazing what a couple of pints of Guinness can do for you in lieu of lunch. Fortunately the boat was on the stage and everyone just looked at that, and the girl who was holding it up.

There you have it, other than the risky, funky exciting adventure of launching my own business "Sales and Marketing Planning" the life of a sailing monk continues.. most of the time.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Friends reunited

Sorry that there are bigger gaps between each post, I'm afraid I'm loosing the enthusiasm for it, and this has increasingly happened since I suddenly realised that in dog years, I'd be dead..

This has injected a certain urgency into my life. Blogging doesnt seem that important any more,

And as I drove to the dinghy exhibition with the boat on the roof and the car at 45 degrees because the friggin wind wouldnt go away I wondered how I'd look back on my Moth years. Would this latest effort be the great cresendo I had hoped? Or simply the end of a decent play, spoilt by a badly written third act?

So I was already slightly resentful and full of loathing when the show opended and some idiot wouldnt let me through a door despite it clearly saying "entrance" above it. And as he spat into his stupid microphone I nearly, very nearly broke his nose.

But then I bumped into Peter Thorpe, and my weekend changed. Peter was over from Australia representing CST. I last saw him in 1996 and he had an open wound on his cheek where a rose bush had been though it, a result of falling off the stage at Keil. We were racing in the Moth worlds at Ratzeburg and back then you rested on the race course so you could handle the evening...

Over the weekend Peter and I had a great time, He tried to put the fire out in my hotel that had everyone evacuated to the car park in their silver blankets. He cheered up a cold family in need of some smiles, he convinced an Eastern European taxi driver he really was driving an automatic, we ate lebanese, drank beer and reminised. I hope he will get a foiler moth soon. I know he'll be up there again. On the stage I mean.