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..