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

Friday, 9 May 2008

Power tools

There are a lot of dull sports, cricket is one, horse racing is another, golf is simply awful and in the words of Oscar Wilde, just spoils a good walk. But there are fewer dull sports than sitting on the beach waiting for the wind to arrive. Especially when its hot, the sea breeze clouds are there.. but nothing happens..

Still, it gave me time to consider the development gap between our boat and the water pushing dugouts that were queued up next to me.

Or to put it another way, one half of the beach was still painting Bison on cave walls, but the other half had just invented Paint Shop Pro.

This is the new KA MSL13, Its very nice indeed. On mainsheet Stevie Morrison, our 49er Olympic rep and ex world champ.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Sticky rubber

Time to service the boat, she's done over 500 miles since february and everything is beginning to feel a little loose. The rudder mechanism, ignored by me since new has, due to all the sand we get here, some... err play. Specifically when I'm sailing, it goes "bang" more times than the toilet door when the plague is in town.

But the worst thing was, in front of the editor of Dinghy Sailing Magazine, I couldnt get the rig up on my own. I've spent all of 2008 in the gym and just when its important, I'm as weak as shit. Yes ma'am they are singlehanders. Granted it was 20 knots and the boat was blowing down the beach but I ask you...

Today I bought some new sailing boots and they were awful. So slippy in fact that if Tonya Harding had worn them she may have landed that triple axel, and therefore would not have felt the need to smack Nancy Kerrigan with an iron bar. I think the manufacturer has impregnated the rubber with Mclube. I may complain.

Fatface were doing a photo shoot. Of course I gatecrashed it, but Will who is Marketing Manager, jumped in with an underwater camara. I tried to get as close as I dare without slicing him with the main foil. Cant wait to see the pics.

Anyway we got all the KA MSL13's in today so there are some happy UK sailors. Dont forget your sail numbers for Weston guys!

On the way home I decided I wanted to see Arundle Castle, Thierry and I were talking about it, and so with new rubber on my bike (hopefully sticker than my boots!) and some twisty roads on the way, I'm going to go there for a pre breakfast ride tomorrow.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Summer is here

I was struggling a bit on Saturday, the boat didnt feel right, I was having trouble controlling the height with a couple of big pop outs. Anyway first time this year I've been truly "washing machined".

Thierry Martinez was doing a photo shoot and it was fun but I didnt feel really in control. The flying gybes were easy but the flying tacks, wind against tide and in a nervous boat, didnt really happen.

Later when I came ashore after 7 hours on the water that day I found I'd broken the plastic spade where the bell crank attaches to the main foil control rod. The screw had bent out, I could get flap down but no flap up.

Sunday I was back in the bay, just testing stuff. Mike Lennon had been going fast upwind the day before but whether I was any faster as a result of the repair I dont know, but I didn't have to sit on the front wing bar to keep the boat in the water.

Monday was a Bank holiday and with it came a morning pursuit race. Starting ten minutes after the 49ers we only raced for an hour. Didnt make an impact though but after years sailing on my own it was great to see 7 foilers out at Hayling Island SC and after a bad first beat I was off, I'm quick in those conditions.

We had the RS classes at HISC this weekend. 215 boats, busy but fun!

I invented another new species today, the Foing Crab. Me and the little guy zoomed round the course. He was on the tramp.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Life in a northern town

I've enjoyed a few days away from the boat this week. I've done a lot of sailing recently and so a break has been nice.

I actually had a pleasant day in Leeds yesterday.

For those of you who dont know, Leeds is a large city in the north of England where I always thought you shouldn't go because you might get your head kicked in by an out of work miner.

But I was wrong, and the city centre is excellent. When I was standing around looking a bit lost, a lady actually came up to me and said "Y'alrigh luv"? Instinctively I reached for the mace spray but she really was just trying to help. She thought I was lost.

But they do have a different language, and as it was invented by people and not computers, I guess it reflects the creativity of the human race, and I think that's good. Anyway no one uses the word "the" and I think "owt" means "anything" and "nowt" means "nothing" but I'm not sure.

In the camping shop the assistant was genuinely interested in what I was going to do with my purchase.. I thought I'd pulled, but she actually seemed to be that nice to everyone..

So it's true that people are friendlier up North, the only down side is that because they all drive such small cars parking anything over three foot long is impossible. Anyway I couldnt park the Grand Cherrokee so I paid a complete stranger to drive around in it until I was done.

And the house prices are so cheap! Which I think is good. Its a bloody stupid world where each of us generally have a requirement for a house, and also for food, but if food goes up in price we are all pissed off, however if houses do, we bloody rejoice! I'm alright Jack eh?

The drive back was hell, and to keep myself awake I managed to hold my breath for 2min 15 seconds, carve a small image of buddah into my wrist with the top of a coke can and pretend I was at dinner with Penelope Cruz by setting the satalite navigation voice to Spanish.

Today it's too windy to sail, so its the gym for me later..Back to southern reality where saying hello is considered a birth defect.

The CST mast worked really well at the weekend, I could definately tell the difference, Thierry Martinez is coming over on Saturday. Hopefully the weather will be good.

James Boyd sent me the above photo. "Nowt" wrong with that setup.